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Aberrant: 200X - Taint and Aberrations: Let's talk this shit out.


VileBill

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Okay, my point of view:

Taint is the non-visable sign that Novas are not human.

And they aren't. They aren't human the game pretty much comes out and says so but it's deciding that IC that makes running shit in the game/world a blast because the characters and the npcs don't know that for a fact. They don't have the rulebook and they can't point to it. So it's quite all right and hell, even reasonable for a lot of folks to claim that they still are human because wrapping your noggin around the idea that there are now non-humans rocking the globe with superpowers would be tough to deal with and not go wiggy.

Aberrations come from taint. It isn't just the fact that so and so has pink hair that gives them the negative social mod, it's the eerie waves of "I'm not like you" that are coming off of Pinkie the Wonder Ass-kicker. The pink hair is just a sign of the vibes. Sometimes the sign could be truly creepy and just as weird as the vibes, see Sloppy Joe. But it's the otherness and not the weird looks that do it. Hence you get the penalty for Chrysalis too and you could arrange the accompanying aberrations to be reletively mild.

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This is precisely why taint-induced aberrations and body-mod-induced appearance changes are handled separately in the 200X setting.

Taint: otherworldly inhuman vibe. Can't be quantified. It's that eerie back of the neck sensation that makes baselines want to run away or get a stick and smack you. It's not caused by the weird appearance. It is an independent entity.

Right?

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I'm glad that VileBill brought up Chrysalis, because it illustrates that aberrations (i.e. deviation from the normal), and not taint cause a negative reaction.

Through Chrysalis, I can reduce my permanent taint level. This however, does not remove the aberration. The aberrations, and the subsequent social penalties remain, even though taint may have been removed completely through the chrysalis.

Therefore, it is the deviation from the norm that causes the social penalty, and not necessarily taint. Look at Flaws, some of them give you social and other penalties, but no taint is involved. Minority comes to mind.

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Just as a kicker -- Aberration Transfer can remove aberrations. It fails to have have any affect on the social penalty. This means that the social penalty, the "otherworldly wtf?!" reaction, isn't from the aberrations themselves.

Also, through use of Aberration Transfer, you can completely get rid of any and all Aberrations you receive. You still go batshit psycho inhuman at Taint 10 (because you are so far removed from humanity you are no longer playable as a PC -- so sayeth the Book of Core Rules)

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Chrysalis not only gives you aberrations, it also moves you further and further away from humanity. Those are separate things. To put it differently, you don't think like a human any more, and that's over and above the aberrations.

AFAICT that's exactly what Taint is doing as well. And it's not just that baselines react to you weirdly, it's also that you can't relate to them... or maybe even that you don't want to.

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1. Taint inflicts a social penalty the more of it you have.

2. Chrysalis inflicts a social penalty the more if it you have.

3. Taint and Chrysalis stack to determine you penalty.

4. Some aberrations provide a social or other penalty in addition to what taint and chrysalis inflict. This also stacks with Taint and Chrysalis inflict upon you.

All in all no matter how anyone in this thread attempts to justify what taint is, or where the social penalty comes from it's written in black and white that a combination all three (Taint, Chrysalis, Aberrations) are the result of 'the WTF feeling'. Taint is not mental, it is not Physical, it is both working in tandem with the novas node. Bricks generally end up with physical aberrations, erudite novas lean more to mental aberrations.

Using body mod is a great way to say "Okay, I look odd, but people think it's cool.". It works well until people abuse by making themselves look freaktastic and calling a body mod. Where is the line drawn between taint and modification.

Would anyone here accept it if I recreated Sloppy Joe on 50NP and 2 Taint and called my little appearance problem a Body Mod? I could you know and it's well within the rules. Or perhaps a Sasquatch? Ten feet tall, built like the Hulk, very hairy... 40NP 0 Taint and a smattering of Body Mod. No one seems to care my guy is a sasquatch. Why? No taint so no social penalty. Could do that too.

My question is:

What is a aberration and what is a Body Mod? I can use bodymod as a catch all to take a lot of things that should be aberrations.

Clarification: I like the body mod idea, don't get me wrong. My only issue is that 200X isn't "my game" so I don't have the authority to slap people with the logic glove and say "Okay, seriously, Sasquatch has to go Asswipe. Get real. Taint him, or shit can him."

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RE: The Hulk

That's Dr. Troll right there and I've always assumed the Troll side had a +2 social diff.

RE: Sloppy Joe

Considering he's got Perm: Bodymorph and Shear Hideousness I don't see how you can build him without serious social issues, whatever you want to call it.

Quote:
...it's written in black and white that a combination all three (Taint, Chrysalis, Aberrations) are the result of 'the WTF feeling'.
Page number please.
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I wouldn't say that body mod is even "...but people think I look cool". There's a lot of body mod stuff that my characters almost unilaterally would react to with no small amount of disdain(situational modifiers).... If Joe Directivite came across a tentacled monstrosity with 6 arms and 4 tentacles, he would react much the same way to either of them. "Holy shit! Wtf!?!?! Damned monster..." Regardless of whether said nova got the arms from taking Body Mod- Extra Limbs and Body Mod - Tendril or by having a stack of physical aberrations.

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Originally Posted By: Teh Uber Core Rulebook Of Allknowingness - p. 150
The Taint Trait represents how inhuman a nova seems to be.
Originally Posted By: The Core Super-Book Again - Also p. 150
Regardless of what form a nova's Taint takes, baseline humans can sense it. At first, this sensation manifests only as a slight sense of unease or eerieness; indeed, as of 2008, few novas inspire even this extreme a reaction. With time, and additional Taint points, though a nova may provoke disgust, revulsion, or even hatred. The result, in game terms, is an increased difficulty to Social rolls when a nova tries to interact with a baseline human.


And for all you who are about to say "What about Chrysalis?"

Originally Posted By: Teh Dark and EEEEVILLL Book Of Teragen Crack p. 123
When a nova undergoes the Chrysalis, the player can spend experience points to reduce temporary or permanent Taint. A reduction of Taint represents the Terat's greater subconscious control of his quantum abilities, which allows him to stave off the madness that occurs at 10 permanent Taint. Eliminating a point of temporary taint costs [[lots off crunchy numbers]]. Reducing taint does not eliminate aberrations or reduce the social penalty for dealing with baselines, however. Terats can stave off madness, but they remain alienated from baseline humanity.


Any questions?
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Originally Posted By: Courier
Page number please.


Taint - The page where it says that too much taint causes social penalties.

Chyrsalis - The page where it says too much Pupa Power affect social rolls (and stacks with Permanent Taints penalty)

Aberrations - See the individual descriptions. Some have a rule for them, others don't.

Seriously, that fact that you needed that pointed out to you is sad. God forbid someone flip through a few books and do some research and then after that actually use their innate problem solving skills to come to the most logical solution.

If all three have the potential to provide a negative effect on social skills then it's obvious, regardless of how people choose to accept it, that whether you are affected by one, two, or all three, that they are 'the WTF feeling'. The more you have, the more severe the effect.
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Revenant,

You are claiming that aberrations and not taint cause social problems by a simple reading of the rules. I.e. "it's written in black and white".

If you are correct then it's end of discussion and time to deal with the implications. But now you seem to be expecting me to do your research for you and you claim "it's sad" that I'm not willing to take your word for what the books say. You're also not willing (or perhaps able) to slap down a page number and a quote and are still putting in summations.

You've stated what you believe, you've stated that it's black and white in the book, please, enlighten us with an exact quote so we can follow your reasoning. That's how these things are supposed to work.

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Originally Posted By: Hyoseph
Originally Posted By: Revenant
God forbid someone flip through a few books and do some research and then after that actually use their innate problem solving skills to come to the most logical solution.
See above post :P
I know, and thank you for that. The most important part appears to be...

Reducing taint does not eliminate aberrations or reduce the social penalty for dealing with baselines...

This implies that Aberration Transfer would reduce social penalties.

On the other hand... there's the whole issue of Quantum Flaws mimicking aberrations. Should those also cause social problems? Book doesn't say but this wouldn't be the only flaw in the APG.

Edit: To be clear I like this line of reasoning, as a principle it has a certain clarity. On the other hand, does this mean that all aliens are tainted? Or do we write that off as a Trinity difference?
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Quote:
See above post :P

Thanks, I wasn't about to go do research about a game we're all supposed to know the rules for. Let alone who can't be bothered to look it up themselves. I have better things to do than wipe other peoples' asses.

Quote:
On the other hand... there's the whole issue of Quantum Flaws mimicking aberrations. Should those also cause social problems? Book doesn't say but this wouldn't be the only flaw in the APG.

I agree. This is the part where the mods should be stepping in and making sure we're not abusing their generosity of allowing us unique appearances without calling it Taint. There is a threshold where an odd appearance goes from odd to "slapping the mods in the face".

But, ultimately, it's up to them. If they allow it, then we deal with it. Simple as that.
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Originally Posted By: VileBill
Aberrations come from taint.


To add to that, I thought I'd attempt to clarify something:

"Taint" is just a word that science has used to describe the negative consequences of channeling raw quanta through something as fragile as flesh and bone. When you acquire enough wear and tear on your system, you acquire some form of quirk that is generally supposed to be in keeping with your power use. That quirk is accompanied by an inscrutable feeling of otherworldliness that spooks the cattle.

I see the 'zero-point aberrations' as simply the stepping stones of quantum backlash. It's not accompanied by the same sense of unease that aberrations as we know them are, but it's nevertheless another manifestation of how the body reacts to channeling quanta through itself. As has been illustrated above, removing the aberration does not remove the social penalty, which would suggest that while the two tend to come in together, they're not inexorably tied to each other. So what's the problem?
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Just to throw in a few cents here...

What about Bodymorph? I think I might have actually suggested this during the pre discussion, but just about every ST Ive had alows people to use Bodymorph for things other than "elemental" bodymorphs. For example you could take bodymorph: dragon or unicorn.

Bodymorph doesnt give social penalties either and it would serve the same purpose of two forms for Maverick for instance without using dorm.

In regards to the special effect thingy and what Seph said above I can see certain novas changing into Kitsune or pokemon or what have you. Given that eruption is based off of ones psychology there are plenty of japanese otaku geeky enough to erupt into something wierd that isnt neccesarily horrific taint.

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Originally Posted By: The_Fool
Just to throw in a few cents here...

What about Bodymorph? I think I might have actually suggested this during the pre discussion, but just about every ST Ive had alows people to use Bodymorph for things other than "elemental" bodymorphs. For example you could take bodymorph: dragon or unicorn.


I think what you're referring to is Shapeshift. You could restrict the SS forms you're able to take via Weakness, but Bodymorph is specifically intended (as far as I can tell) for specific types of matter and "energy" (water, fire, electricity, quartz crystal, etc.) and not for any particular shape.
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Originally Posted By: Revenant
Thanks, I wasn't about to go do research about a game we're all supposed to know the rules for. Let alone who can't be bothered to look it up themselves...
How many people are reading this? 20? If we're lucky, 40? How many of them don't have access to the books for one reason or another? How many only remember Aberration Transfer doesn't say Social Mods are reduced? Ditto that Body-mods doesn't say it gives penalties nor does Shapeshift?

This is why it's polite to actually give the quote when your reasoning is direct from the text. Another reason is because FAR too many times people claim the rules back them up when in fact they don't, memory or houserules play tricks on you.


For a confusing example: Bodymod Wings is pretty darn close to being a Major Aberration, if they weren't functional it would be. So... +3 Social Diff or not?
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IMHO it means that WW has a VERY lose definition of "matter and energy".

I think the basic generic rules don't really allow for "Animal Form" type changes... but I also think that it's an extremely minor house rule to allow it and we're probably better off for it.

Let's face it; "Beast Form" is a staple, whether it's werewolves or 30 foot q-bolt lobbing apes. I'd rather have it built as Bodymorph than with a large set of linked powers... but admittedly it's an ST call.

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Originally Posted By: Everyman
pg.185
"For example, she could transform her body into rock, to fire, to wind or to computer chips and circuitry."

I think this indicates that you can take on another form, besides base matter or energy.


If you look in the Teragen book, towards the back, there's a sample character that uses Bodymorph - Acidic Viscera. Basically his blood's turned to acid and there's all his biological bits floating around. I think the primary limitation(read: only real limitation) on Bodymorph is that you stay the same shape. Shrapnel stays the same shape, Bug stays the same shape(bodymorph energy). Changing shape requires shapeshift.
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Yeah the bodymorph thing I suggested has been used by more than one of my STs. Is it a slight mod from the usual interpretation? Sure. BUt I think far too often gamers get somehow stuck or beholden to the rules rather than realize that the rules are here to serve us. Even the book says that its perfectly fine to alter existing powers, crosslink powers or enhancements to different Mega Attributes or come up with new powers whole cloth when there isn't something existing that suits your concept.

So lets try and not be too anal please.

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Oh yeah and why use Bodymorph istead of shapeshift? because shapeshift is geared and balanced for being able to take many forms and moany powers to dupliocate those forms. Hence Being an L3 Q4 min power. If you limit it to one form its essentially a limited bodymorph. If I was ST and someone wanted bodymorph to turn into a wolf or a bug only, I'd let them.

It was only a suggestion (as per the core book) to take an existing power and modify it for our needs rather than coming up with a whole new power (cosmetic bodymorph) which as this thread attests to has left some unyhappy.

It was just a suggestion that I have seen work very well in past games and I thought it would help. Take it or leave it...

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RE:Michael McGee.

Taint as a central concept to Aberrant.

I honestly cannot see how someone doesn't see this.

If you get Quantum 5 you get taint. If you get more you get taint. If you get a node of 3 or more you get taint. If you botch you get temp taint that is damn hard to get rid of. Utopia pushes folks and they taint out. If you have obvious taint in the form of Aberrations you cannot be in the Directive. The Teragen has a huge focus on developing and/or controlling taint. Taint tracks how inhuman a character is getting.

It goes throughout the entire game touching on nearly all aspects of it. How can Taint not be a central focus?

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Because it's optional for the most part. Botching, as I always read it, only gave out temp taint if you did it while overchanneling or power-maxing, which is something I've never actually seen someone do in a game because the benefits are debatable. Not every nova needs Quantum 5+ or Node 3+, the same way not every nova needs x-ray vision or the ability to fly. The Directive has a lot of restrictions on nova personnel and their abilities which are very rarely lifted, and the Teragen's focus on taint is the focus for that faction, the same way that punching each other in the face is the focus for the XWF's faction. And pushing novas really hard is just one of the many things Project Utopia does that is questionable - they'd still distinctively be Project Utopia if they never did that.

It's not necessarily a critical component of being a nova, either - the low-level novas over in Adventure! rarely have to deal with their skin turning green. I'm not saying that it should be taken out of the game - if you're having fun with taint, good on you. But it's not a critical component of every character's story, nor of everyone's game. Nathan Dayes will never have to deal with it*; neither will Knockout. "World with superpeople in it," however, IS a critical component of Aberrant regardless of what type of nova you're playing or even if you are playing a nova at all.

* this might be a lie

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I'm with VB on this one. Even if you personally don't deal with taint, novas around you do (in the game setting). It is the focus of the Teragen (turning it toward Chrysalis and thus advancing in the prestige amongst Terats).

It is a major focus of the dark underbelly of Project Utopia/Project Proteus. They are "saving" us from the taint-riddled monstrosities.

Its not the only focus, I know. It can be very peripheral to your character's experience, but its still there.

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And I never said it wasn't there. Just that Taint As Central Focus of Aberrant isn't a notion that I buy into. I don't buy into central notions to the game beyond "world with superpeople in it."

Novas around me dealing with the taint problem doesn't make it a central focus, any more than novas around me dealing with how to spend all their money makes Aberrant As Celebrity Satire (a legitimate take) a focus of every game either.

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Most games revolve around a crew of novas (the PCs). Get 5+ PCs together and chances are very good that *someone* went taint-monkey. This is even true for "street level" games like Dead Rising (although granted, a Directive game won't).

Chances are very good the ST is going to throw a "tainted to the point of insanity" nova at you at some point.

And yes, the setting pretty much revolves around dealing with Taint one way or another. Various factions have various ideas, but it's there.

So between the other PCs, the basic setting, and the ST, dealing with Taint isn't very optional.

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"Chances are very good" isn't the same as "it isn't optional." And even if it is something that you 'have' to deal with at some point, that doesn't make it a central focus of every game, merely a component - and I'd argue a smaller component than "world with superpeople in it."

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Gotta agree with Mr. McGee. Taint is a narrative utility. It's level of relevance to a given game or character is quite variable.

I have a vague and possibly inaccurate impression that folks are somehow equating Taint in Aberrant to Humanity, or some-such, in Vampire. They're similar concepts, but Taint is relatively peripheral.

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Taint is a central concept of the Aberrant World. Is it the ONLY one? No.

Does it have to be central to EVERY character? Fuck no. EVERY story? Fuck no.

But it is central to the Aberrant Universe. It's mentioned in every book, how groups deal with it is a major issue.

Saying that since it isn't mandatory means that it isn't central is flat out obtuse.

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It is central because all of White-Wolfs games include some kind of 'balance' to the power you are getting. Vamps have Humanity, Mages have paradox, Exalts have the curse, Aberrants have taint. It is in their minds at least a key feature of the system. You don't have to use that feature if you don't want to. You can choose to be a humane vampire, or a caregul mage, etc.

As far as Aberrant goes, I've been involved with some games where the ST decreed that no characters were allowed to start off with taint for plot reasons. But in this setting it is up to the individual; you can start with taint or not. Your choice. You don't ever have to personally deal with taint if you don't want to, but that critter is always lurking out there waiting to pounce if you get greedy or careless. Or interact with others for that matter.

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The flawed hero is excellent - it's just that taint's a very specific version of a 'flaws' system, and makes certain specific presumptions that don't always fit.

And Craig's gone and basically stated my point, which is that it doesn't have to be a central focus of any character or any story. He says that it's a central focus of the world, but I'd say that the world itself shouldn't have a 'focus' - it's the stage and the props, rather than the play. The world's there to serve the stories that are told, and the characters that are in those stories, not the other way around - so if it's a central part of the world, that really only means what you want it to mean when it comes to your particular Aberrant story. Just as Elminster is important to the Forgotten Realms but I'd hate to run into him every twelve bloody seconds when playing through Faerun or try to figure out which of the eight frillion goddesses of magic he's stuck it inside today.

I'm willing to chalk it up to different play styles and different ways of approaching the world, however, and to say that it's worked fine for me, but I'm not you.

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  • 2 weeks later...

So let me see if i get this all.

So...Your all agreed now that Taint is a central theme of the game, but still optionally dependant on the whims of GM/ST/DM's(as is the way of all RPG's).

As to Taint itself.

Taint, Aberrations, and Social Pen. all creating an aura of oogyness.

But as seen in inhuman shapes brought about; Body-Morph, shape-shifting-special effects, BoMods, and Flaw based aberrations, none of these need bring about this same "Type" of social penalty.

Also, removal of aberrations and Taint via certain powers (Ab Transefer) and the teragens' chrysalis...as well as via that giant teluric statue in china, does not lessen the oggy social negative.

Plus, the books state that, just like powers/enhancements/aberration/special effects, the social negative can come across in differant ways, but is always felt (in each Novas way) by others.

This would very strongly imply that the social mod. is the main reason for the distancing, on a mental level, of Novas/Galateans/Aberrants and Base lines.

Secondary in rank, but no less important to baselines is aberration (visual/audio/etc.).

Meaning it's just getting creeped out by that not so unnatural feeling, but in this last case, their appearance, which means, flaws, BoMod, Shape shifts, can add to this social negative.

BUT....Taint (and to lesser, Chrysalis) itself is the cause of this initial "oogy" feeling, which warps the mind.

Taint has it's own effect, though, on the nova in addition to those listed.

It drive novas mad.

Remember that Taint detracts from your willpower rolls to resist your baser natures (similar to the Exalts curse). Willpower gets up to a maximum of 10, as does Taint. Therefor if Taint reaches 10!! You simply can never resist your nature, period, and your insane in effect.

This also means, some low willpowered novas may end up nutz, long before Taint 10.

Does this seem right to you all?

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