Jump to content

Aberrant: In the Beginning - ** Salmon Max's Bigass GM Thread **


Recommended Posts

This is a thread I reserve for rules explanations, clarifications, and declarations. Players please do not post here. I will have another thread for discussions of things I put here.

Welcome everyone to the continuation of In The Beginning! I'm honored and gladdened that Titan gave his blessings to this, and equally so that you all chose to give the game this second chance. My hope is to make it as entertaining and fun as it was under my predecessor and game originator, and hopefully any and all changes I propose in this thread will contribute towards that. My take on this game will undoubtedly be a bit different than Titan's, and possibly from yours, so I want to take this opportunity to lay out some of my vision and ideas for it so that discussion can take place, and potential dissonance can be addressed.

Game Tone:

My vision for In The Beginning is to emphasize the theme of consequences. As such it may not feel as "comic booky" as some superhero genre games often do. Things that happen will, more often than not, be as a consequence of another PC's actions, or will be acting as a catalyst to drive action and thus create consequences. As such, it is accurate to say that this is in many ways a player-driven game. There are NPC's who are important, and plenty of ways for PC's to get things to do, but it's my goal to make sure that each player is ultimately writing their character into a story that they are the main character of...and which is an important part of an even larger story that features all the PC's. I do want to say though that even main characters suffer setbacks, defeats, and must ultimately come to terms with the intended and unintended consequences of their actions.

Game Setting:

This is not your grandfather's Aberrant.

Divis Mal has left the world. Aeon has just started to research the 'Novus.' The rest of the world is barely recovering from the shock of dozens of super powered people emerging; many dangerous, and more coming every day. The shape of the world will not be determined by what is 'canon' in the Aberrant texts. Throw your Worldwide books away, and your Project Utopia and Teragen books too. We are in uncharted waters here.

What does this mean, for players? Try not to make assumptions. Novas that are in canon products may appear from time to time, but they won't necessarily be the same. Some may never appear. Others will have stories that are different. Similarly, things like orbital lasers, Chrysalis, nova-derived drugs...they may occur as expected, or not at all, or on a different timetable for different reasons.

The reason for this is threefold. One - PC actions can and will change most of these things. Two - I reserve the right to use and design NPC's to fit this game's needs, rather than White Wolf's vision. Three - ...I don't actually KNOW a lot of it, so I'll probably be making a lot up from scratch. wink

Game Theme:

Supposedly the official game theme of Aberrant is, "What would you do with the power of a god?" That is not the theme of In The Beginning. The theme of In The Beginning is, "What would happen if you had the power of a god?"

The only difference is that it includes not just what your actions are, but what the results of those actions are. Most of human history consists of people with power screwing up, and trying to fix things afterwards. smile What will your legacy be?

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Any and all of these are open to discussion in the appropriate thread. Any adjustments or changes that come from discussion will be edited in by yours truly.

General Rules:

1) The 5th Dot. This applies only to normal attributes for which no mega-dot has been purchased, skills and backgrounds.

The Fifth Dot means -one of the best in the world-. You cannot get higher than it. Buy it with care. A 5th dot should be accounted for in your concept, in your background...it's not just a throwaway thing. It's significant. If you have 5 dots in Athletics, you're an Olympian. If you have 5 dots in Medicine, you're House. If you have 5 dots in Backing (Microsoft) you are Bill Gates.

The 5th dot DEFINES you. Not everyone has even one of these.

Additionally, the 5th dot LIMITS you. It signals the end of progress. The end of evolution. The end of growth. Once you have it, you can't get better. If you have 5 dots in Firearms, you can't later on have your character become a better marksman (except by developing better Dexterity...but that's different, storywise).

So I say again, especially here in the beginning, choose it with care.

I don't really want to make a rule about this, cuz it's a sort of fuzzy-wuzzy area where a rule might squash ideas and concepts. However, ideas like, "I'm 16 years old and have 5 dots in -anything-," make my eyebrow rise and the little GMDemon in my head grumble in its slumber. Doogie Howser, I know. It can work. But it needs to part of that sort of concept.

For novas, it's a little easier. Post eruption stuff makes those 5th dots more normal. Even 5 dot skills are more acceptable, especially for skills paired with attributes that have mega dots. 5 dot nova backgrounds are fine. I feel a certain reluctance to let someone erupt and suddenly gain a worldwide network of contacts...but you could take 5 dots in Contacts with the stated intention that you'll work -towards- that. Though you could just use exp. wink

I'm not sure how I feel about this rules mod, but I wanted to throw it out there just to see what y'all think. I'm skeptical enough that I will NOT enact it unless there's positive feedback on it.

Proposed rule modification: The 5th dot of any non-mega attribute, skill or background costs double the normal of whatever is being used to buy it. 2 attribute slots, 10 freebies, etc. The exception is that nova points buy them normally.

Line By Line Rules: (Work in progress here, peeps, be patient. :))


Abilities (Skills)



Link to comment
Share on other sites


Attributes for baselines, and this includes pre-eruption nova PC's, are subject to the guidelines for the 5th Dot. Attributes generally contribute to dice pools for powers and skills, though can on occasion be rolled by themselves for tasks which are not covered by existing skill use. Rules for attributes are considered the same as in the Aberrant Main Book, except where the clarifications and changes here take precedence.


Strength is the easiest stat to understand, and the one I'll spend least time on. It adds to dice pools relating to exerting muscular force on things, including damage pools.

Mega Strength

Like regular strength, only stronger.

Experimental Rule Proposal: I've been kicking around the idea of making each level of Mega-Strength grant 5 extra DICE to damage pools, rather than 5 autosuccesses. This would impact a lot of melee-oriented builds, so this rule won't go into effect until it's been discussed thoroughly by players and myself.


Dexterity does some double-duty, measuring both reaction speed and hand-eye coordination, as well as straight line speed of movement. It adds to most pools to hit with attacks, as well as to most pools to evade attacks.

Mega Dexterity

The quintessential 'speedster' stat, Mega Dex lets a character react with uncanny precision, speed and movement rate. Not much to add here.


Again, pretty much as written in the book. I had ideas for fatigue rules and so on, but honestly...that'd just be adding cruft that would slow the game down.

Mega Stamina

Also no real clarifications needed that I can see offhand. Remember to keep track of those extra injury boxes!


Easy to understand in mechanical terms, but tricky sometimes to roleplay, intelligence is occasionally a "problem" stat, especially at mega-levels. As a rule of thumb, intelligence in Aberrant deals only with memory, logic, and deductive reasoning. Intelligence doesn't help you much with jigsaw puzzles, but it would with crosswords, or a game of Clue. As a rule, Intelligence is at its best when its had time to plan.

Mega Intelligence

Similar to normal Intelligence, only more so. Since no one's ever been this smart in reality, one must look to fiction to see how it works. Most fictional superminds are, however, not JUST intelligent. Sherlock Holmes is also mega-perceptive. Lex Luthor is also Mega-Manipulative (IMO :)). Keep this sort of thing in mind. Mega-Intelligent people are VERY good at the tasks that intelligence makes you good at...but that's all.


Perception's easier. It basically just refers to how sharp your physical senses are, and how attentive you are to details.

Mega Perception

Most of the "super sense" powers are enhancements to mega-perception, making it a broad ability that applies to a lot of different concepts.


I've always found Wits a little vaguely defined in Aberrant. It's supposedly your "mental processing speed" but also refers to intuition and creativity. In that way it's a bit like Dexterity, which represents two otherwise unrelated things. Note that Wits don't make you "witty," despite the book's flavor text. Being witty is more a function of Charisma than wits.

Mega Wits

This is the other speedster stat, largely because it contains the two multi-action enhancements. If you want to be a "true" speedster, you have to be able to move fast -and- think fast.


Charisma is the personal charm you can act with. It's also, along with Willpower, a guide for how assertive a character is. Charismatic people are confident, or at least confident-seeming, and tend to act and speak with positivity and friendliness. This, in turn, makes people disposed to trust them and like them and want to be around them. Note that being charismatic doesn't mean you HAVE to be like this all the time. It also doesn't mean that you can call someone a scumbag and make them enjoy it. Charisma measures how charming you CAN be...but you still need to RP it out as best you can. smile Charisma can make people like you, want to be around you, even fall in love with you...but it is not a "forceful" control of someone. The closest it gets to that is the Command skill, which is just reflexive obedience to quick orders when under stress. Charisma, even mega-charisma, is far from mind control.

Mega Charisma

Several Mega Charisma enhancements key off of the use of social skills which are not very well defined in Aberrant. For example, Commanding Presence gives 3 autosuccesses for the use of Command skill...but how does that skill work exactly? There's no system enumerated. Therefore, while I'm not changing any of the rules in Mega Charisma, once I define those skills, you may find that how the enhancements work is not the same as they've worked in other games. Discussion will be welcome.


Manipulation refers to two things; one's ability to "read" a person's reactions, and the ability to falsify reactions and emotions on oneself. This is the difference between stage acting (appealing to a crowd's emotions) and being a con man (convincing someone you're telling the truth when you're not). Manipulation can be very powerful in short term deceptions, but even the most detailed lie will eventually fall apart, and there will be consequences.

Mega Manipulation

Some of the same admonitions about Mega Charisma apply here too, in addition one extra. Mega-Manipulation shares some of the "lie detector" ability that is also given to Mega Wits. I'm tempted to make those enhancements available to Mega Manipulation as well. Mega Wits detects untruths by reacting to minute body language and quick microexpressions. Mega Manipulation detects them simply by understanding when and how people lie very well. Thoughts?


The attribute that shouldn't be...appearance probably doesn't need five levels of granularity, let alone ten with megas. That said, redoing it would be a lot more work for me and all of you than it's worth, so we're sticking with it. Alone of all the attributes, Appearance hasn't got a hard and fast objective measurement. Bear this in mind when trying to get results with it.

Mega Appearance

Comic books aren't a bad place to go for ideas about mega-appearance. People flouncing around in skintight spandex with precisely perfect proportions and muscle tone is about as close as we can get. smile Bear in mind that more than any other social attribute, appearance's effects on people will tend to be limited in duration and potency. You can use it for short term things like certain kinds of seduction and intimidation, but looks alone generally won't form the basis of any kind of enduring relationship or effect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


There's a lot of changes I want to make to how Backgrounds work, and it's likely to be a bit controversial. Accusations that I'm rewriting the whole book will be grudgingly acknowledged this time. smile

Part of the reason I want to make changes here is because there's a lot of PC's, and backgrounds will be very important in this particular game. More so, I believe, than in most Aberrant games. Therefore I want two things. 1) A coherent, easily applied system that can cover a very broad spectrum of results, and 2) More detail than the rules as written are designed to handle.

Aberrant is fairly vague on what backgrounds really DO. You have an Ally. Great. What's allowed? Nova? President of the US? Poolboy? Do you design them? Do you have any input at all? How far will they go for you? How much can they be trusted?

Some of that is defined by flavor text and context. But tracking all those backgrounds for all these PC's, I want a bit more structure, so I can apply it equally to all without having to make things too complex for myself.

NPC Backgrounds

Allies - All Allies are NPC's with close ties of loyalty to the PC. The specific nature of those ties are freely definable. They can be family, old friends, people with debts of honor, squaddies, lovers, worshippers...anyone who would be willing to put themselves at risk for the PC's well being, and ask little in return. An Ally doesn't necessarily live with the PC, but is assumed to be reachable under ordinary circumstances, and willing to accompany the PC on adventures. They can also be asked to do favors or accomplish goals autonomously. The PC defines the specific nature of the relationship, and defines in broad strokes who the Ally is and what sorts of abilities they have. The GM creates the actual stats for the Ally. The number of dots in the Background determines the relative competence level of the NPC. Note that at higher dot levels, baseline Allies will often be powerful entities in their own right...this doesn't mean the PC can freely use their Resources, Backing, Influence, and so on. Allies that are consistently exploited can reduce their 'effective' dot ratings, or, over time, even vanish entirely.

In broad, plain speak, the first 2 levels of Ally can be viewed as "rp levels." They're meant for people who have childhood friends and family they want to include in their stories and get some use out of. Don't let the references to "below average" or "no special" abilities chase you off. A dot or two is fairly cheap, and even kids and oldsters can find ways to make the investment worth it. smile The upper 3 levels are designed to provide more mechanical benefit. The 3rd level is meant for baseline experts who have a narrow focus...high skill in a specific field. 4rth level is for generalist experts...highly trained individuals with several honed specialties. If you want a loyal ninja manservant, this would be it. 5th level is meant to be a full fledged youthful ward sidekick a la Robin.

* = A youthful ward or old timer perhaps...someone who has less than average skills and physical ability, but may still come in handy for advice or an extra pair of hands.

** = An ordinary person who has a close connection to your PC. No special skills or abilities, though they have a job, place to stay, car...etc.

*** = A baseline of greater than usual skill or influence. The president of a company perhaps, or an elite hacker or acrobat.

**** = A minor nova, or a truly exceptional baseline. Bill Gates would qualify here, or an Army Ranger. In general, a baseline with significant Backgrounds of his own, and/or more than one useful skill at 3 or more dots would qualify for this. A minor nova would typically have a mega physical stat of some kind, and no more than one or two relatively basic powers at low levels.

***** = A nova on par with PC's who can serve as sidekick, companion-at-arms, or trusted lieutenant. The PC may define the broad theme of their powers (ie - Mentalist, or lightning powers), but the specifics will be determined by the GM. With GM approval, this may also mean a unique baseline, such as the head of state of a nation, or other NPC of great personal power. This is tricky, but the possibility exists.

Contacts- Flavor-text wise, I'm pretty happy with this as written in the main book. I do want to include here though that a lot of the 'friends' that people make are really better defined as Contacts than Allies. Co-workers, for example, would generally be Contacts, if anything at all. Schoolmates, the same. Anyone you'd call an 'acquaintance,' is a Contact, if you choose to allocate any dots to them at all. And you don't have to. Not every NPC in your PC's life has to be accounted for mechanically. smile That said, I want to put more detail into what contacts can and will do...and to the difference between Major and Minor Contacts.

Contacts can offer favors within their purview. A librarian can look at checkout records, or expedite a new card (or accidentally lose one). A CEO can get you into his country club on a guest pass, or provide details of his company's dealings (that don't damage his company, of course). This doesn't require a roll. If the request is reasonable (and this is up to the GM), the contact will make it happen. Favors must be returned however.

Major Contacts are personal contacts of the PC. They're assumed to have had this relationship for awhile...or that it's been successful enough that they're on good terms. Major contacts use their full pool when checking Adversity (see below) and will be more flexible in how they accept payment for their favors. They also come with an assortment of...

Minor Contacts. These are contacts known indirectly. Friends of friends. The contacts of contacts. Part of the power of a contact is the number of contacts they have to draw on...and can offer your network as well. Minor contacts check Adversity at -1 to the pool, since they don't really know you yet. They tend to like their favors repaid in cash or money order, or specific services explicitly spelled out.

Adversity. Contacts will go through some trouble on your behalf, but only so much. If granting a favor or fulfilling a request requires some risk on the contact's part, or encounters real opposition, then the GM will roll your Contact Background rating. A success means the contact forges ahead and comes through anyway. Failure means the contact wusses out...though he'll at least explain why. A botch...well, the results of those make the GM's eyes all sparkly and hideous.

Repayment. One good turn deserves another. Contacts are mutually beneficial, and expect rewards on their investments. This can take several forms. Typically it would be something that has a minor but noticeable temporary mechanical effect. The "loan" of a dot of Resources, perhaps, showing a large payment or investment. Similar "loan" of Followers to perform a duty or labor. Loans last for one 'chapter' of the story. Favors can also be repaid by doing favors for the contact, personally. This would generally take the form of a short adventure or roleplayed scene.

Followers - Cultists. Groupies. Hangers on. Employees. Minions. Mooks. Faceless Horde of Ninja Assassins. Call them what you will...in the rules, they're known as Followers. A group of followers is defined by the kind of job they do, and by how many of them there are. Each follower in a group is, for game purposes, functionally identical. Followers are, for mechanical purposes, loyal. It's assumed that employees may occasionally get fired and replaced, minions fed to sharks and cloned, but at any given moment you won't have to worry about any of that. You can assume that when you give the command, it will be obeyed to the best of their ability.

Followers accomplish tasks collectively, not individually. In most cases, the task they carry out is implicit in their definition. For example, the follower group defined as "Count Mephisto's Private Army" would have the task of accomplishing military objectives for Count Mephisto. The follower group defined as "Employees of Virtua-Com" would run the corporation known as Virtua-Com. And so on. A follower group does not have to be the full number of followers you have allowed per your dot rating. You can sub-divide. If you have enough dots in Followers to have 100 of them, you might say 10 are your house staff and 50 are your corporate security goons and 40 are your spy network, for example. Also, bear in mind that not -every- person your character has control over needs to be purchased via the Follower background. If you own a large corporation, you employ many thousands of people...most of which have no real game effect save to make the company work. They certainly CAN be followers, but they don't HAVE to be.

So what good are they? Properly used, plenty. Followers can be sent on missions. This is something you arrange with the GM, generally via PM's. You outline what you want them to do, the GM decides how hard it'll be for them to do it, and how long it'll take. The results then enter the story, either publically or privately, depending on the mission, and the results. Followers can also hold down the fort, protecting your house, your office, your temple...whatever...from infiltration or attack while you're elsewhere. Followers can be bodyguards, if they have the right sort of definition, either for the PC or others.

Followers cost upkeep. Employees need paychecks. Even worshippers need food and places to stay. Each dot of followers requires a dot of Resources or Backing to maintain properly. If you lose Resources and Backing and fall below your Follower rating, you will start to lose Followers until they're back in alignment. This will generally take 1 chapter...giving you a chance to earn those dots back before it's too late.

* = up to 2 followers.

** = up to 10 followers.

*** = up to 20.

**** = Up to 50.

***** = No more than 100.

Mentor - In 'superior' position. Not always around. Provides training, advice, support.

Nova Backgrounds

Attunement - Takes time to accomplish. Cannot be used on unwilling targets, or their possessions.

Dormancy - As written.

Eufiber - Buendia not selling it yet. Cannot obtain with Resources. Use Ally, Contact, Mentor, or Backing.

Node - As written

Social Backgrounds

Each applicable context bought separately. Each organization for Backing, each secret for Cipher, and each sphere for Influence.

Backing/Rank - Represents dots of Resources available due to owning/working for an organization.

Cipher - As written (reminder that it doesn't protect secrets from other dangers).

Influence - Not universal. List of different contextual spheres one can have influence in.

Resources - If more than one identity is maintained, track resources separately. Otherwise as written.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...