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Aberrant RPG - Simultaneous Eruptions


phil
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Newbie after a bit of advice.

I'm going to be starting a aberrant-style campaign (havent decided what details of the back story to use, and which to drop*), but wanted some advice with getting it started. My goal is to begin right at the start, before the Galatea explosion. Essentially, the game is going to begin as an Usual Suspects / Ocean's 11 style crime caper. Half way through something is going to happen that triggers the PCs to erupt. However, when they do so, I'm planning on having it gradual - so they may fail a Might check, for example, and I offer them the opportunity to spend Willpower and roll again - and hey presto, Mega Str appears!

However, I'm not convinced by the simultaneous eruption bit. It just seems a bit too comic-booky, deus ex machina. 'Project Utopia' suggests that this is one way to start a campaign, but was wondering whether anyone actually had an experience of this.

cheers,

Phil

* One thing I will definitely drop is the idea that the two most important directors of a pan-national, strategically motivated, conspiratorial long-term planning organisation would be baselines. With at least 6000 novas in the world, Utopia and Proteus both need to headed up by MegaInt novas, or they'd have been found out longa go.

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Consider this.

The chances of becoming a nova are something around 1 in 1,000,000, but then this is after the Galatea. However, the world does not have an even distribution of latents - at the very least, latency is inherited, so family units will naturally skew distributions.

In the same vein, it is in fact possible for a group of friends to all possess a latent node, and in fact may be quite common. Should such a group become trapped in some sort of natural disaster, there is a large probability of all of the group of friends erupting.

One would expect them all to possess similar powers, but that's really unlikely, as the powers gained through an eruption are at least partly manifestations of subconscious desires. Also, if the group of friends face different consequences of the disaster or whatever, this is also likely to cause their powers to diverge.

It is, of course, exceptionally rare for people to erupt in groups, but it's quite possible.

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Phil, that sounds extremely comic-booky. But y'know what? That's your game. If that fits with the tone you're going for there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

If it's not, have you considered having something happen at the site that would stack the deck? Maybe they're exposed to some of that kewl Adventure style energy early on that changes the nature of reality or something? Have them them breaking into a lab and they are exposed to some sort of genetic manipulator (nova tech created by a pre-Galatea nova or a pre-Galatea nova that can actually change their genetics) and they don't know what's going on. Only later in the series when people start crunching numbers do the characters realize how absurd the idea that each and everyone of them were latent really is. By that time whatever you used to change them is now gone or hidden according to your desires. Just make sure that you're dealing with mature players who will play fair and not "identify" whatever it was that changed them and grab it for their own use.

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Or, you could tell the group that the odds of them all erupting are astronomical ... yet they do.

Now, how did that happen? How did X-number of individuals, each with the genetic capability to become novas, all end up in the same place?

It could be the actions of a pre-event nova (check out the Adventure game, if you get the chance), or the Aeon Society, or some other "behind the scenes" mastermind type. Maybe someone they all are somehow indebted to?

As for your changes to Utopai and Proteus ... go for it. It keeps it more believable (in my opinion) and more within the rule mechanics.

How much Aberrant stuff do you have?

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Thanks. Some good advice. Re: radiation accident type scenario, had already considered using that. Indeed, the second half of the scenario is intended to be the PCs searching for the cure to the exposure, which the villain of the piece holds. However, the thought that he intentionally erupts them I hadnt considered, which immediately allows me to give a name to the behind the scenes manipulator driving the scenarion forward: Mr D. Mal, Esq.

Re: How much Aberrant stuff I have, the answer is a about 50%. Dont have elites, xwf, teragen, church of M, Directive.

Re: Mega Int NPCs, just seems a natural reading of the mega attribute rules that for Utopia to keep their secrets, they must be directed by mega-mental directors. Particularly in light of the fabulous insights from Brainwave, which essential says a megaInt nova will always out-think and outplan a baseline. (btw, anyone got a link to the pdf version?). Although I guess the alternative, which doesnt agree with canon NPC stats but could be moulded to fit, is that Proteus is undergoing a constant neutralisation of non-Utopian mega-mental novas.

Finally, a little bit of comic-booky-ness is inevitable from the nature of the start, and I dont mind that. Aberrant is under-rated as a solid superhero system (helped no doubt by the fingerprints of Steve Long all over the powers section). I dont want to play 4-color, but equally I'm not going for the full-on "you're all idealists and hedonists but essentially damned. Oh, and although the game lets you be powerful, you'll never be one of the main movers and shakers, so in the end the metaplot is just going to railroad right over you"

Players: So, T2M are upholding this corrupt government, eh? Time to show them what quantum control *really* means!

GM: Caestus Pax hands you your ass.

Players: Eh? We got together a consortium of fifty aberrant novas. We've been playing for years and have all got quantum up to 7. We used a mega-tactical nova to plan our stealth assault. What gives.

GM: Well, erm... he's Caestus Pax.

Players: *grumble*

GM: OK, you win. You wound him and he flees.

Players: Yay!!

GM: But Divis Mal creates twenty Caestus Pax clones, for his own amusement and they hand your ass to you. Because he can. Although you cant. Ever. Because he is the Plot Device Who Walks.

Players: .....

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A few suggestions, if you will ...

Mal never does anything physically (save the Bahrain scenario).

Oh, you can find him and talk to him, but he is loathe to actually intervene in nova affairs. Think of him as a scientist/father-figure who has spawned novas upon the world and who is unwilling to further alter their development.

Since you are starting out in 1998 (or whenever N-Day is for you), Pax should be tougher (say starting him out with more NP's), but not insurmountably so.

The Elites and Teragen books are pretty useful.

Divis Mal's "real" name is Michael Donighal, btw. He was one of the founding members of the Aeon Society, but split with them over ideological differences. He was (according to the precursor game to Aberrant, called Adventure) the first nova of the modern age. He erupted in the early 1920's.

Maxwell Mercer, the founder and guiding light of the Aeon Society, is a Temporal Manipulating "non-nova" (no, they never explain what he is) who is still around in the nova age and beyond. He is not well defined, but appears to be the ideological counter-point of Mal. He is apparently "not at the helm" when Project Utopia and Project Porteus were founded. Essentially Mercer is the epitome of the 1920's idealist, working to end world slavery, working toward universal human rights for all, fighting diseases and poverty, ect.

Prior to N-Day:

IMHO, Mercer is trying to subtly change society into the Utopian ideals of equality, scholarship, and freedom by working with like-minded individuals to work on the grass roots level.

Mal believes that the way to make the world better is for those best capable to rule, to force the world to change; top down.

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