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Aberrant RPG - The Chaos Engine revisited

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Last night I had this idea for a plot which I will use to boost my setting into a game of higher power levels. It's a bit like the old Chaos Engine story from Mage, but since this is Aberrant it will probably be much cooler and as an extra bonus we won't have to stand an über-npc who breaks all the rules. My über-npc just breaks some of the rules.

Anyway, here's the deal:

A nova - let's call him Samuel H. - wasn't very powerful as far as novas go. No lifting cars, no outrunning a train, no bullet-resistant skin. Nothing like that. He could rebuild a car from scratch and turn regular household appliances into a computer or whatever else he needs at the moment, but that just wasn't enough for old Sam.

Since Sam was the envious sort he watched other novas on N! and thought it was unfair that they had erupted with all those really cool powers and he had to make do with being extremely intelligent and basically a super bicycle repairman. If he only had the powers of someone like Pax he could show everyone just what a hero is really like.

Jealousy festered in the mind of Sam. Finally it grew so strong that he decided to build a machine which would give him the powers he needed. He pulled apart all the stuff he could find in his house, and some stuff he stole from various stores and offices, and put it all together into a hideous bulky... thing. It was a large clumsy box strapped to his back, with shiny flexible tubes connecting to a helmet, gloves and boots. It looked like he was wearing his household appliances. Not very flashy but if it worked out it would be worth it, he thought.

For the tryout he picked the only other nova he knew. They had been to the same Rashoud Facility and Sam knew that his target wouldn't be much of a threat to him even if his machine failed to work. Her name was Rose and she could control plants. Sam went to see her armed with a huge tank full of weedkiller which he had mixed up himself. She was tending to her garden as usual but when he sprayed his chemicals all over her place she was more or less paralyzed with pain, as she could feel the pain of her lovely plants all around her. It wasn't hard for Sam to finish the job. He aimed his machine on her and with a lot of whirring and steam hissing and electrical sparks flying, it sucked all that quantum right out of Rose, focused it and channeled it back into Sam.

It worked! He could feel himself grow stronger, more powerful. The increased quantum flow through his node was simply exhilarating. He decided that he needed more of this, more power, more of the rush... more of everything. He snapped Rose's neck like a twig and left her just as dead as her garden.

Sam continues to pick off the less powerful and defenseless novas and keeps gaining more and more power. His node grows out of control and his Taint goes through the roof. He becomes quite insane sometime during his crusade and no longer cares about his previous ideals: to use the powers for the good of mankind. Now he just wants the power for the feeling it gives him. Eventually he discovers that the stronger the nova is, the greater and more long-lasting the rush becomes. Naturally he believes that if he can drain the most powerful of all novas he will truly become a god. He will kill and drain Divis Mal and then everyone will have to bow down to him. He will own the world!

Sam sets out to find Divis Mal. He seeks out various teragen to get clues for where he can find his final victim. It takes him a while but with his artificially increased power he doesn't have any real problems dealing with the teragen, even when they do find out what he's up to. Geryon, the Apostle, Synapse and finally Scripture - all are defeated. Nothing can stop him now, except maybe if Divis Mal should emerge from the chrysalis he's in before Sam can drain him.

Naturally that's exactly what happens. Divis burns through the Blackburn Hotel (yes, the final battle must be in New York - yeehaaw!) like some god of ####-fire, and clashes with Sam. Sam is by now Divis' equal as far as power goes. Enraged by the death of his lover Divis is not exactly thinking as clear as he might want. By now everyone knows it must end in the worst possible way. Sam manages to break Divis to the ground and aims his machine at the firey one's forehead. As he starts to drain the nearly divine Divis his machine finally breaks down from the damage it sustained in the previous fight, or perhaps from simple overload, or from lack of care. In the end it doesn't matter.

The machine explodes. The power stored in the Chaos Engine travels all around the globe, filling old novas with new power and erupting thousands in its wake. The number of novas is doubled almost immediately and when the wave finally dissipates it has increased tenfold. There are now over 100 000 novas on Earth. Those who were novas before the wave have gained more power, almost as if they had erupted all over again.

Both Sam and Divis are gone when the smoke dissipates and the lightshow fades. Those novas who were closest to the explosion (the player characters and perhaps some others to keep things interesting) have all become extremely powerful.

I'm thinking of giving the PC's the following: Node becomes 5. Quantum becomes 5 unless it's already at 5, in which case it becomes 6. 30 nova points which can be spent on powers and mega-attributes only. They get the Taint provided by the increased node and Quantum (4 or 5 depending on Quantum) and can use the nova points to buy tainted powers as well if they still don't feel warped enough.

All the other novas in the world gets +1 Quantum and +1 Node and 15 extra nova points to spend. Those who erupt from the Wave and afterwards start with Quantum 3, Node 3 and 30 nova points.

I know this will break the setting but that's part of my plan. Those who just want to run the story in a canon game can have Divis survive and make the wave into a local phenomenon which may or may not increase the power of those nearby.

The Chaos Engine is just a plot device so I didn't care to tell you how it works earlier, but if you really want to know: It gives Sam the Quantum Vampire power, with a permanent duration and the option to choose which power he will steal with every use. It also gives him the Quantum Leech power, with the added effect that each nova he drains completely increases his Quantum trait by 1, permanently. The downside to all this is that the machine will explode and let loose the wave once Sam's Taint reaches 10 or so. Coincidentially this occurs just as he's about to fulfill his plan. During the final scene Sam has Quantum 8 or 9 and pretty much every power imaginable. He's also got Taint 9 and is almost completely insane which is why he doesn't realize what is about to happen. For a nova who started out with Quantum 1, Mega-intelligence 2 and Luck 5 he's come a long way...

So, that's it. Thank you for reading this far. Any comments?

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i had an extremely similar idea, but set for adventure, the main difference was there was going to be no wave or backlash or anything, the npc would just die... ah, back to the drawing board i guess...

kick @$$ though...  :thumbs-up


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In case it wasn't obvious before, here are some reasons why the characters may become involved in the story:

A friend of theirs (Rose?) have died in a mysterious way and they want to know why. Clues lead them on to Sam's trail. Will they be able to reach his next victim before it's too late?

They are working for Project Utopia, The Directive or Project Proteus and have been assigned to investigate the death of a seemingly insignificant nova who was much more important than Sam thought when he killed him in his usual sloppy fashion.

They are members of the Teragen or Aberrants and have heard rumours about several novas who have all died in the same strange way during the last few months. They decide to investigate this threat to the One Race/in order to uncover the murdering Utopian conspiracy.

One of them is attacked by Sam but for some reason he's forced to retreat before he can finish the job. The entire team gather to hunt down the mystery assassin.

If all else fails, there's always the classics: One night while they are drinking in the Amp Room they are approached by count Orzaiz. He talks about a map which shows the way to a dungeoun where a greater red Divis Mal sleeps, guarding some phat loot, including at least one +9 Geryon-slaying knife. It's got +9 against Geryons. The count will give them the map if they can hunt down and kill the terrible nova Samuel H which is causing trouble in his domain.

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  • 2 months later...

I have no idea. Yet. I suppose it could just suck powers from the target, making Sam more and more powerful as he goes along, adding to his considerable arsenal of quantum tools to pummel things with until he's got the quantum version of a kitchen sink to throw at his enemies. That way the victims could remain alive even if they get all their power sucked out of them, if Sam for some reason don't get around to kill them afterwards. Maybe he's getting really sloppy. Maybe he thinks they are of no concern to him any more and can't stop him or his perfect plan. It would be nice for any player characters who fall to his evil device to survive and fight along as their baseline selves until they eventually regain their power with Sam's death. The "reward" would still be 30 extra nova points to spend but this time I'd allow much higher power levels and ratings and extras, than I would for a starting character.

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