|5||Chapter 3: Traits|
|7||This time we’ll go Mega-Mental.|
|9||Chapter Five: Quantum Powers|
|11||More Powers, more problems|
|12||Alright, more Aberrant Powers|
|13||Quantum this, Quantum that|
|15||Chapter 6: Drama|
|17||Aberrant Player’s Guide|
|18||Aberrant Player’s Guide|
|19||Aberrant Player’s Guide Merits and Flaws|
|20||Aberrant Player’s Guide|
|21||Aberrant Player’s Guide|
|22||Aberrant Player’s Guide|
Your legacy is our future, because now we’re into Aberrant.
This time we’ve got a bit less than a hundred pages of setting stuff, and it’s more interesting than the Adventure stuff overall since it’s not mostly explaining factual information about world history. We start with an interview with Randel “The Fireman” Portman, the first known Nova. He’s a cool dude who rushed into a burning school bus to try and save the children on it and gained the ability to absorb fire into his own body out of nowhere. The interview hits a whole bunch of points at once. We learn the term ‘Nova’, which is short for the scientific designation that the successors to the Stalwarts have been given, Homo sapiens novus. We learn what the Aeon Society is publicly up to at the moment, which has two main branches: Project Utopia, and the Triton Foundation. Utopia is an organization that works to try and integrate Novas into baseline human society. Triton is Aeon’s research branch, who are probably more relevant in Trinity but will come up every so often. Aeon’s got… more stuff going on, but this is what people know about. We then get some basics on Novas, they have the ability to control quantum forces and this is tied to a new gland they have in their brains, the ‘Mazarin-Rashoud Node’ (named after its discoverers). We finally hear about the Teragen, led by Divis Mal aka Doctor Primoris aka Michael Donighal, the actual first Nova (though the number of people who’d know that as of the Aberrant era could be counted on one hand most likely and most of those people would think worse of him for knowing who he is).
We then go to the inciting event of the Nova era, the Galatea explosion. The Galatea was (from the art) a space station of some sort, and it explodes on March 23, 1998. We get a bunch of news headlines from the day, because a whole bunch of crazy shit went down right after it. Is this sounding familiar yet? As it happens (though we don’t learn that here), Divis Mal destroyed the Galatea in an attempt to recreate the Hammersmith Experiment and jumpstart humanity’s evolution. While it works, as with everything he does the outcome isn’t really what he expected or wanted in the end (we’ll see that much later).
We then get a timeline, which is probably worth covering in detail. Randel Portman erupted (the term for someone’s Nova powers revealing themselves) within three hours of that. Over the next two months Novas continued growing in numbers and people were getting worried as hell (rightly so). In April the Aeon Society slips out of the shadows and contacts the UN, and by May they’re publicly working to study the issue on the UN’s behalf. In June, as a result of Aeon’s work, the UN passes the Zurich Accord which declares Novas to be fundamentally human and subject to all the rights and laws of humans. The month after that the UN and Aeon team up to create Project Utopia. By the end of the year the supposedly independent Triton Foundation is studying Novas (they’re a front for Aeon, though). By the end of the year there are ~600 Novas. World religions are really handling this badly, with a bunch of sects arising to either declare Novas as having the power of god or being devils.
1999 starts with Project Utopia creating Team Tomorrow, the Aberrant equivalent of the X-Men. They’re a group of Novas who do good shit around the world in theory, and that’s largely the case given they’re a Project Utopia PR effort. Project Utopia also opens its first Rashoud Facilities around this time, which are places for newly erupted Novas to go and receive assistance in developing their powers. This is true and they are good at this. They are also good at injecting you with shit that sterilizes you, as we’ll find out later. In February Boris Yeltsin suddenly dies and the Russian government and economy completely blow up. This starts to cascade to the rest of the world economy, as you’d expect. By March, Utopia has announced that it has Novas working to solve the economic crisis, which feels like the sort of thing more likely to work just on the ‘maybe these superhumans can fix it’ and everyone feeling less scared so shit stops going to hell than working on its own merits. Microsoft becomes the first private company to hire a Nova in April, a kind of notable guy because he goes insane and completely negates most of the gains in computer technology humanity makes over the Aberrant age during the early stages of the Aberrant War if I’m not mistaken. By the end of the month unemployment is going nuts and the world economy is in the shitter, somewhat arrested by Aeon and Utopia’s efforts to fix things. The IMF throws their hands up and says they got nothing which makes everything go to turbo-hell. Meanwhile Project Utopia’s Novas have come up with some advice, which does start to turn things around. Japan’s shit had gone really to hell and they reboot their economy by heavily subsidizing corporations to hire Novas. As we near the end of the year, Project Utopia announces Team Tomorrow’s going to be on-call to deal with any problems caused by Y2K (which was still a ‘thing’ when this was written in 1999). There’s 1350 Novas by the end of the year.
Y2K was more of a thing for this version of history than it was in the real world, which made Utopia’s efforts to head it off another big PR gain. If it seems suspicious that a bunch of bad shit keeps happening but hey Utopia’s there to stop it, it should because even if NONE of those things were secretly inside jobs it’s literally the sort of thing Aeon’s dirty tricks behind the scene squad Project Proteus does. Triton develops the first gene-therapy treatment for breast cancer in January, and has essentially cured it within the decade. Project Utopia announces a plan to clean up the environmental damage mankind has done to the planet, which further stimulates the dragging world economy as external funding lets a bunch of governments start public works programs on that front. Fidel dies in April and Cuba kind of just sorts their shit, has an election, and has mostly normalized their relations shortly after, because Cuba’s pretty cool. Go Cuba. At the end of May the first movie featuring a Nova actor releases, and makes a fucking load of money because you can have a superhero movie that doesn’t need any fucking special effects. By July the markets have started turning around. In September Utopia manages to undo the ozone damage done by CFCs and introduces a microbe into the ecosystem that consumes them. A kinda shitty Republican named Robert Schroer defeats Al Gore and wins the US Presidency, though he’s not right-wing enough for much of the Republican party and they start accelerating into their present state WAY ahead of schedule as a result. 1800 Novas exist on earth by the end of the year.
In early 2001 Project Utopia solves the Israel/Palestine conflict by negotiating a two-state solution. Honestly the shit they accomplish is pretty great even if they are secret monster fascists or whatever. In March Utopia announces that they weird bacteria they’ve released into the oceans has eaten all the pollution and restored water quality to pre-Industrial Revolution levels, which I can see some potential unintended ways that could go but we’re to presume that people for whom human intelligence is as an amoeba just fucking figured it out. Vladimir Sierka, a nova, unfucks the Russian economy as the Minister of the Treasury and basically becomes Vladimir Putin, running the show from behind the scenes while a puppet president is officially in charge. During the summer the first conflicts involving ‘elites’ occur in Africa, as various nations take advantage of mercenary Novas willing to fight for way more money than a human could ever need but way less money than a military costs to fight horrible shitty wars that benefit nobody. They’re called the Equatorial Wars and they change military doctrine significantly. In June the US, Russia, the UK, and Japan form The Directive, a secret organization designed to figure out what Utopia’s really up to because they correctly think they’re a bit shady. In August a Nova named Anibal Buenida creates Eufiber, a polymer capable of channeling quantum energy. It’s super useful for Novas because Eufiber clothing doesn’t get destroyed by their powers, and it’s also amazing for transferring data. By the end of the year there’s ~2100 Novas.
Over the next three years the aforementioned OpNet, on a Eufiber base, is rolled out and replaces all the world networks including the Internet. It’s both high speed and much better at handling wireless communications, so they had shit like high speed cellular data way earlier than we did. In March it comes out that President Schroer is gay and has had a dude on the side for the past six years. The environmental cleanup is considered essentially successful and soon long-term sustainable around this time. In September India, Pakistan, and China all send Novas into Kashmir and shit almost goes right to hell before Team Tomorrow breaks it up. ViaCom and Microsoft merge into ViaSoft in November. The year ends on a creepy Nova cult in Japan blowing up a subway. There’s about 2500 Novas in the world by the end of the year.
The N! channel debuts at the start of 2003, a channel devoted to covering Nova drama and just in general being horrible gross reality and social media shit. It’s as immensely popular as you’d expect. In March Space Shuttle Discovery is almost destroyed in an accident, but the astronauts are rescued by Team Tomorrow. Which, while they got the wrong one, is literally within a month of when Columbia actually exploded which would be in bad taste if again this wasn’t published in 1999. In May Utopia announces a plan to effectively terraform part of Ethiopia. In September a terrorist organization manages to use a primitive fusion bomb to level 30 city blocks in Sao Paolo. Triton develops a vaccine for HIV, and the year ends with about 2800 Novas.
Triton continues their efforts to eliminate cancer and manages to develop new crops that greatly increase world food production. Boy it’s not going to bite humanity in the ass if they’re relying on a bunch of shit they came up with while Novas were around that’s mostly going to get destroyed, yeah? A Nova manages to develop the Hypercombustion Engine, which is ten times more efficient than a normal internal combustion engine. Utopia’s given substantial authority to regulate new technologies over the summer in response to the Sao Paolo bombing. The Summer Olympics feature some Nova-only competitions, which make anyone give a shit about the Olympics. In September Utopia opens up its special Rashoud Facility for Novas with high levels of quantum buildup in Bahrain, which is basically a death camp for Novas who are too inhuman. But hey, everything’s great because shortly after the XWF, a Nova professional wrestling federation, is created, and anyone in the public who gave a shit about finding out what was going on in Bahrain was too busy to keep caring. In the least realistic event in a game about people with superpowers the US Presidency is won by a woman under the Libertarian banner, Lauren Pendleton, because everyone’s fucking sick of the Republicans and Democrats, and just as sick of Presidents unable to keep their dicks in their pants. There are about 3000 Novas in the world by the end of the year.
Puerto Rico becomes a state in April 2005. Shortly after that Team Tomorrow unseats the dictator of Macedonia, who came to power using illegal technology produced in Japan because they’ve been semi-openly defying Utopia’s technology controls. In June Pope Benedict XVI declares that Novas have souls, which again this was written in 1999. On Halloween of all fucking days Divis Mal hijacks the airwaves to release the Null Manifesto, basically declaring that Novas aren’t human and the rules of human society don’t apply to them. A group calling themselves the Teragen appear to endorse this position, and they’re both right in a lot of ways and huge pieces of shit as we’ll see. They’re “The Worst Guy You Know Has A Good Point” writ large. There’s about 3500 Novas in the world by the end of the year, which if you’ve been tracking the numbers you might find an interesting change in the trend.
In May the Ethiopian development project ends as a resounding success, turning the highlands of that country into a verdant grassland. Project Utopia moves its headquarters to Addis Ababa. A suspicious number of Novas die during the terraforming process which will come up in the Teragen book because it starts the chain of events that leads to the Teragen learning Utopia’s sterilizing Novas. An anti-Nova mullah in Iran is assassinated by some Novas claiming Teragen affiliation, though notable public members of that organization suggest they have no idea who these people even are. We’ll learn about the shitheads in question in the Teragen book but the answer is no they weren’t Teragen members yet but they got welcomed in after because the Teragen are all about killing the fuck out of people who rally against Novas. There’s a proper Kashmir war where the whole region gets turned into a nightmare hellscape by Nova Elites fighting. Quebecois separatists do some terrorism. Up to 4800 Novas by the end of the year, now THAT is interesting isn’t it?
In January a Nova astronaut does a moonwalk. Without a space suit. A pact banning NBC weapons passes the UN, but everyone who actually HAS those things doesn’t really comply so much as pay lip service to it. Which is smart when you learn how the Aberrant War resolves. Teragen members start a bunch of shit (probably Nova Vigilance, who we’ll learn about in their sourcebook) but not nearly as much shit as the media surrounding it would suggest. Because the Teragen is like 30 Novas or something, even if they are generally more powerful than average. Project Utopia’s given a permanent UN Security Council seat on an advisory basis, which people note is suspicious given Utopia literally pays off the UN’s debt right before it. There’s 6000 Novas by the end of the year, and this is about when some people notice that it’s legit strange that not one Nova has been a parent during the Nova age. Utopia vows to investigate the thing they are doing, you can definitely trust them to thoroughly find the truth about their secret sterilization efforts.
2008 is the ‘present year’ for the setting, and in May a popular member of Team Tomorrow, Jennifer “Slider” Landers, is murdered in Calcutta. I won’t lay out what the fuck was going on because we’ll get that later in this book. Her friend Andre Corbin, a huge asshole who used to be in Team Tomorrow, flees her funeral and gets blamed for her murder and framed as a Teragen member (dude’s a piece of shit but didn’t do it and lol the Teragen wouldn’t let him join on a dare). A bunch of Utopia’s dirty laundry leaks and they try to claim it’s a Teragen smear, fake news, very sad. A Nova named Sophia Rousseau teams up with Corbin to form the Aberrants (named after a slur against Novas) and try to expose Utopia. The Directive steps up its efforts to investigate Utopia because they’re pretty sure the Aberrants and Teragen are right about said organization. The Teragen have a summit we’ll learn about in their book, since most of that book’s fiction is said summit. Utopia starts trying to root out those who might be helping Corbin, and the Aberrants number about 40. Nobody knows for sure who killed Slider, except of course Project Proteus who are the ones who killed her. Oops I guess I spoiled it early.
Look at all these words god damn, we’ll pick this up next time. This was like 8 pages, but now that we’ve got this basis we can go a lot faster.
Let’s hit up some more Aberrant lore.
After the timeline we start with a Triton report trying to determine the genetic source of Nova abilities. They determine that all Novas have a particular sequence that had previously been believed to be an intron (i.e. non-coding). They’re able to pretty conclusively establish this is the cause when they find it in one of their own researches and she erupts several days later. Becoming a Nova causes a weird quantum tumor (the MR Node) to grow in your brain, which will get larger as you get more powerful. This is actually one of the Problems, because it’s really hard not to go insane at some point in the process of an increasingly large new lump of shit in your brain. One amusing thing, the writers seem to have been somewhat unclear on the state of DNA technology even as of when they wrote this, as they discount prenatal screening as possible but unreasonably resource intensive.
We get our first character blurb down below, about Andre Corbin. He’s a former soccer player who was a giant douchebag and erupted on the field. Team Tomorrow thought it would be a great PR move to hire him on, and to say this was a mistake was an understatement. He stirred a whole bunch of shit the whole time including being part of a porno movie and left the team after they suspended him. About his only friend at all was fellow T2M member Jennifer Landers. When she learned about Project Proteus, he’s one of the people she told and when she died for that knowledge, it proved she was correct as far as he was concerned. He’s now in hiding, wanted for her murder, and trying to rile up Novas to stand against Project Utopia. He’s got superhuman speed, strength, and reflexes, but his main power and nickname of “Bender” comes from his ability to inflict violent emotional shifts with his quantum powers.
We get some more science, with the main takeaway of the first being that Novas are largely limited in their powers by their own conception of them. It’s really hard to learn an entirely new power that you can’t somehow rationalize as an extension of what you already do because you don’t really know how your brain does what it currently does, never mind something with absolutely no relation. Think of it like this, one of them is like learning some new dance steps, the other is like having some new limbs grafted on and learning to control them. We also get a little background on quantum forces which is as bullshit as you’d expect from its source (an intro to physics textbook) but is fine for our purposes. We get an N! documentary on Nova powers next, but we’ll be covering all those later so I’m not going to do more than note it’s exactly the sort of powers you’d expect.
There’s a DoD memo next about how ripping fucking scared they are about Novas, especially since more power is correlated with being unstable as fuck. They give a nice little orientation speech from a Project Utopia facility then immediately move to internal memos that show they’re not quite so nice and idealistic as all that. They’re willing to use force in recruitment and bemoan that many of the Novas they run into are basically ignorant white trash fucks given unstoppable cosmic power they can’t understand or appreciate. They also consider some unsavory solutions they have come up with for dealing with potentially dangerous Novas who come in.
Next we have a delightfully 90s web site that’s some teenager’s OpNet site on how to become a Nova. Since it’s generally massive stress that causes you to erupt, doing a bunch of Jackass stunts is a great way to make it happen (as long as you don’t mind that your powers will probably mostly involve something that let you live through a failed Jackass stunt).
Our first comic section next! It’s scenes from a talk show where Nova biology is being discussed. Novas don’t work the same way as humans in a lot of ways, they’re just legitimately harder to injure and have weird metabolisms (many Novas eat ten times a day, but don’t actually gain any weight in spite of that). One of the side effects of being a Nova is that the MR node optimizes fat levels and processing of chemicals and the immune system. Of course, Aberrations (we’ll talk about them later) can throw some of this out the window. We get a bit on achievements and goals of Utopia, which we mostly covered in the timeline last time. One major note is a second orientation speech, which makes one of the real goals much more clear: Utopia exists to try and head off a war between Novas and baselines.
We get our second character profile, Team Tomorrow member Skew (Andrew Thomas Parker). Power wise Skew is basically Magneto, and when he erupted the EMP released caused a brief terrorism scare. He fucked up a local gang and brought them all to the local Project Utopia office, where he demanded a job. He’s been on Team Tomorrow since. He’s got a bad habit of casual property damage.
We get a page on the overthrow of that dictator, Yaroslav Radocani, by Team Tomorrow. Project Utopia being World Police is one of the things that is increasingly tense in the setting because on one hand everyone appreciates that when something good happens but on the other everyone worries the World Police are going to misuse their authority and there’s nobody to stop them. We then get a brief entry on a meeting with the Nova largely responsible for Utopia’s environmental efforts, Antaeus. Antaeus is probably Utopia’s most unnervingly transhuman Novas, since he’s maybe going Full Swamp Thing. We get some organizational information including the closest that Utopia will admit to being part of the same organization as Triton.
We then get a letter from ‘Raoul’ to an ‘Anastasia’, discussing where she can hide out from Project Utopia. This’d be Raoul Orzaiz, one of the more public Teragen members and their sort of spokesperson. He notes that the US and UK aren’t big fans of Utopia, India’s not feeling them much after Kashmir, Japan’s sort of doing their own thing and don’t give much of a fuck, and China’s not terribly friendly to anyone. We get some man on the street opinions on how Utopia’s handling their power, where we see that average people trust them a hell of a lot more than people who really know shit about them do.
We then get an N! profile on prominent Team Tomorrow members from shortly before the murder of Jennifer Landers, which is important to say because she’s one of the four listed. The first is Caestus Pax, who’s basically Superman and would probably be the strongest Nova in the world if not for Divis Mal. Jennifer “Slider” Landers is a cool lady who could teleport and very well might have been the best hope for trying to find a path for Novas to exist alongside humans in the long term, whoops on that. Ana Graca Texeira I don’t remember much about. I’m sure we’ll talk about her in the Project Utopia book. Then we confirm Antaeus was behind basically all the ecological programs. We’ll meet a friend he made in the Ethiopia project during the Teragen book. We then get a couple of pages on the pitch for prospective Team Tomorrow members, which is basically that you get everything you could ever conceivably want and have a job where everyone thinks you’re a big damn hero, at the cost of having to put up with a bunch of bullshit.
We move on to some discussion of how Novas in practice actually use their power, because the majority of course do not work for Utopia. Besides Utopia, some work for governments, some corporations. Some do entertainment (we’ll see a profile on someone in that business next paragraph), some as mercenaries (the “Elites”). Crime remains a major human endeavor, and because this section is a History Channel documentary they consider the Teragen spooky international Crime King Terrorists instead of a bunch of jokers who need days of meetings to decide which urinal to use (they compromise on one of the stalls).
Next profile is on the Novox singer Alejandra. She’s just sort of a pretty cool lady who can generate essentially any sound she wants, and fortunately uses it for music instead of horribly killing people because she can go up to 200 dB. There’s an interview with her after and she’s pretty chill and nice except she’d probably fuck you up if she heard you call her an ‘Aberrant’ because her life was super shit before she erupted and she does not have to put up with bullshit any more.
We get a corporate contract next, hiring a Nova to recover some stolen servers. Below that is a profile for Duke “Core” Baron, a Nova professional wrestler. He can generate plasma and his eyes and mouth constantly glow with it. He’ll be part of a comic later on depicting an XWF fight.
The next few move into the military. We have a press conference from 2000 on the success of Operation Desert Hawk, where Novas working for the US government carried out an operation on their behalf. Governments work to recruit Novas for their militaries, because having to pay some joker a few million a year or whatever is incredibly cheap compared to a new weapons program that turns out not to be able to fly in the rain. The next part talks about Elites. They’re mercenary Novas and generally wear masks, treating it sort of like Mexican wrestling (including that most of the time duels between them just end with the loser unmasked rather than killed). We also get an intro to Nova Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Elite Land “Stone Badass” Stryker, who leaned into losing a duel and getting unmasked hard.
We’ll stop for now by briefly learning about the DeVries Agency, a sort of mandatory topic when we discuss Elites. Most Elites work for what was already a gross mercenary corporation pre-Galatea, the DeVries Agency. It’s a family business and is run by sort-of-secret Nova Anna DeVries, who’s a big old cheater when we eventually see her power list. It would be best not to fuck with her, let’s put it that way.
Okay, I think that’ll work for an update. Hopefully I can get through the rest of it next time.
More Aberrant! Let’s get this lore done.
We start back with the N! network and the media. They’ve got a show called Two Minutes Hate (similar in name only to the concept from 1984) where Novas send them stream of consciousness rants and they air it. Jackass celebrities going off on tears is big TV in the real world, so this is maybe the most believable thing so far. We get a letter to the editor discussing the political collapse suffered by the Republicans and Democrats in the US, remember that a Libertarian is currently briefly President and I think about now is when we elect Randel Portman.
Normal professional sports have taken a huge hit from the existence of Novas, because why watch a bunch of guys strap on armor and nearly murder each other to get a ball up and down a field when you can watch two giant fuckers beat the everliving hell out of each other with magic fire and claws and shit? We get another comic showing an XWF match between Duke “Core” Baron from the last update and Rob “Superbeast” Steele, a grotesquely animalistic thingy.
Hard swap, now we’re talking religion and it’s going to maybe get kinda shitty! A lot of smaller Christian denominations have been overtaken by the Church of the Immanent Escheaton, weird sort of Nova-worshippers. The actual Nova worshippers are the Kamisama Buddhists, where a crazy person has declared them reincarnated bodhisattvas and asuras and thus effectively gods on earth meant to lead us towards enlightenment. On the other side, you have the Church of Michael Archangel, who think Novas are the devil and try to kill them where possible (which is either rare or surprisingly easy, depending on who they’re trying to fuck with). The religion part ends with a hilarious web site for a fake Satanic cult being run by some Novas as an obvious scam and it’s great.
We get a ‘man on the street’ type thing about Novas and masks, going over all the reasons why one might want to hide your identity basically. I might take some time another time and put up some of the answers they’re sometimes funny. We get a page on the Nova-only nightclub the Amp Room, which is going to come up again in a later book in that Team Tomorrow fucking trashes the place. We then get our first Duke Rollo story, he’s basically Hunter S. Thompson and it’s his opinions on some of the new trends in music. There’s also a hilarious Wired-esque technology magazine ‘weak and chic’ thing that’s purpose is to highlight the state of technology while also making you want to slap the people in-universe who wrote it because it’s intentionally cringe as fuck.
Our second Duke Rollo section is also our general summary of the state of the world by giving us some idea how it’s the same or different as reality. LA’s in the shit because Bombay’s film industry and people being more entertained by Nova reality bullshit has really killed them. New York on the other hand has had enough Novas around all the time that it’s doing pretty well. Canada’s doing okay, Rollo kinda doesn’t like them because they’re too cleancut. Mexico’s doing way better than they were and are, because Team Tomorrow Americas is headquartered in Mexico City. The cartels therefore never really got to reach the state they have (also there are rather different drug cartels active anyway, we’ll hear about that later). Central America is horrifically unstable because it’s now easy as hell to overthrow a government in a small country. The Carribean is full of tiny private islands because Novas are often rich as hell, and remember Cuba’s become a weird free market hellscape since Castro’s death. The Medellin cartel largely runs Colombia, whereas Brazil is under Project Utopia’s aegis. England brexited from common sense even faster in that they completely turned down any aid from Project Utopia at all, leaving them just sort of vaguely run down. Belgium is apparently doing super well, why not. Italy’s a horrible quagmire, which is funny because Team Tomorrow Europe is headquartered in literal sinking quagmire Venice. The Balkans are still a nightmare, and remember Russia’s not-so-secretly run by a Nova. Africa is almost entirely a nightmare, as everyone with a few million dollars and a grudge can hire some Novas and settle said grudge. We’ll see in their book the Teragen think the situation in Africa is deliberately provoked by Utopia, but I’m pretty sure it’s just humans being human sadly. Remember that we also solved peace between Israel and Palestine, go us. Bombay’s the new Hollywood, Kashmir is hell on earth. China is not a big fan of Utopia either but has enough of its own Novas for this not really to matter. This is going to turn out to have been largely the right call for them in the long run, as we’ll learn in Trinity. Japan does not give a fuck about Utopia’s technology controls and they’ve got a LOT of illegal technology work going on. Australia is pretty much what you’d expect, and in Oceania there’s a base for Team Tomorrow Asia. Now we get to some juicy stuff, current events.
It starts with a message from Jennifer Landers to Corbin, where she’s found proof that Utopia’s been sterilizing them, the true purpose of their Bahrain facility, and that they’re intentionally funding the groups behind the war in the Kashmir region. We then get a comic section of her and Corbin talking, where she lays things out. She correctly thinks that there’s people trying to keep the Nova population down and under control, and has sort of learned of the existence of Aeon’s secret dirty tricks squad Project Proteus. Proteus learns of what’s going on and has her killed before she can release what she knows to more than a few friends, and they frame Corbin for it. The fucking funny thing is that because none of these people really trust each other none of them know what the other is actually doing, Proteus’ director for example seems to legitimately think most of what she said was a smear in a memo to Utopia’s director. They’re also trying really hard to hide the truth of what’s going on from Max Mercer (not as successfully as they think they are) because they know he’d be ripping pissed at them (he would and is).
We then see the formation of the Aberrants, starting with a message where Sophia Rousseau contacts Corbin. She’s an enemy of Utopia but I honestly don’t know much about her.
There’s a eulogy for a deceased general, who we then get some hint was both up to some stuff that Utopia didn’t approve of and had some dirt on them that he thought protected him. Presumably Proteus had him killed. There’s further indications of how Proteus works to support Utopia, doing dirty work behind the scenes to make things go more smoothly for their operations. There’s also a memo getting super pissed at the dude who killed Landers, Chiraben, because he’s a fucking psycho and almost compromised them with the brutality of the attack.
We hear a bit about the Teragen now. It starts with some news coverage on Geryon, a rather unpleasant fellow, killing the anti-Nova mayor of Tampa Frederick Rupert. We get properly introduced to Raoul Orzaiz, who we’ll get a blurb on later. He’s generally the public face of the Teragen though a lot of them believe him insufficiently committed to their ideals. His opinion on the whole thing was ‘meh shit happens dude had it coming’ in the interview. We get some information on the structure of the Teragen (they don’t have one) from a Directive operative named Jesse “Turncoat” Hooks (his name is apt because he switches sides, we’ll find out why in the Teragen book). We get a bit of the Null Manifesto which is as boring as its name suggests. The last part of the Teragen section is a bit of an interrogation of a captured member, Sluice, which mostly exists to impress that while many of them are terrorists they’re not so much crazy (though this really makes them worse).
We get some information on the Directive, it’s the fraud squad run by the major world powers because they correctly don’t trust Utopia and want to know what they’re up to. We also hear a bit about the Triton Foundation, who are part of Aeon even if it’s a weird dotted line situation.
Blurb on Count Raoul Orzaiz now. He’s Basque, he’s a rich jetsetter asshole, and he provides an unfailingly polite face to an extremely impolite movement. While he gets along with baselines quite well, he’s entirely committed to advancing the goals of the Teragen and we’ll learn how he goes about that in their book. He’s mostly about having lots of Mega-Attributes, we’ll see his stat block in the storyteller’s screen adventure.
We finish on the state of organized crime. There’s the Camparelli-Zukhov Megasyndicate (I’m pretty sure the idea is that the last family of the Mafia and the last major Russian mob boss teamed up to pool their resources and evade destruction at the hands of Utopia), the Nakato Gumi (the Yakuza with tons of illegal technology and tacit support from the Japanese government), the Heaven Thunder Triad of China, and the Medellin Cartel.
That’s the end of the lore, next time we’ll hit the rules section.
Let’s get to the actual rules portion of Aberrant now.
We start with an Introduction, the standard what is roleplaying information and a bit of an overview of what’s going on in the setting as of the ‘official’ starting point for a game, which is that Slider just got killed and things are getting funny for Utopia. It mentions Trinity (this game came out after) and that if you go by the official timelines the next 40 years will feature a gradual worsening of relations between Novas and baselines until eventually the Aberrant War breaks out, which amusingly ends with the Aberrants kicked the fuck off Earth in spite of their phenomenal cosmic power (we’ll learn how in Trinity but it’s pretty funny). It also notes you can do as much or as little of the official story as you like which is good because while the Aberrant War itself is honestly probably fine (it does lead to the far superior Trinity after all) but there’s some dumb as fuck characters and things in the official line.
We get a sidebar on how to create Trinity-era Aberrants. You can use all the rules later, the only differences are that they default a little bit more powerful and their bad-stat, Taint, doesn’t take them out of play anymore (since nobody will think any better or worse of them for being inhuman nightmare monsters, that’s what basically all humans in 2121 think of all Aberrants).
Chapter 1: Systems
Much of this chapter is the same information we got in Adventure, the base systems are pretty much identical. Roll a bunch of ten siders, everything above 7 is a success, if you get enough you’re all good. Novas don’t have Inspiration (they are technically Inspired as far as Adventure is concerned, but they’re a million miles beyond that). The power stat of a Nova is Quantum, which determines a lot about how strong your powers can be. Unlike the Inspired, though, there is a downside to this power. Novas get a bad stats, Taint. Taint represents the inability of the human body to safely channel Quantum power, and its efforts to remedy that. As your permanent Taint rises (either through taking some extra at character creation to get cheap powers, from fucking up too much using your powers, or by raising your Quantum or Node Background too high), you develop Aberrations. These either mark you as inhuman or represent inhuman thought processes. One small systems thing, there is a type of power called a Mega-Attribute. Mega-Attributes let you do crazy shit and among other things give you special dice for rolls using that Attribute. If you split actions, you never lose Mega dice, only regular ones (and you still have to not take the action if you’re out of regular dice). Last thing, unlike Inspired Knacks Quantum Powers have their own ratings instead of using some other Ability to determine their success. We’re no longer building off of regular action, we’re launching bolts of almighty power at fuckers.
Chapter 2: Character
Let’s get character creation into this since we could just kinda glide though the first bits. It’s got the same general idea, we do a phase 1 then spend a whole bunch of points. Start with a concept, they’re a bit cringey honestly by wanting you to try and nail it down to a word but whatever. Instead of having separate Nature Virtues and Vices as in Adventure, we just pick one. This will both determine how we regenerate Willpower and also sometimes cause us some bullshit if we’re out of Willpower. Allegiance is less important, since we don’t get a free Background. Just pick whatever works for your character. To model how relatively badass Novas innately are, starting Novas get 7/5/3 points to split between Primary/Secondary/Tertiary Attributes. We get the same 23 points of Abilities, and as in Adventure none of them can be above 3 dots at this phase. Before you even start spending, though, Novas get Endurance 3 and Resistance 3 just for being Novas. Take seven points of Backgrounds and we’ll be done assigning automatic stuff. Permanent Willpower starts at 3, and we get Quantum 1 now (which is important once we get to Bonus Points). Initiative still starts at Dexterity+Wits but we can potentially crazily exceed that. Our Quantum Point pool is going to be 20+(Quantumx2). Now we get the Bonus Points for phase one, which have some new options. First of all, we’re allowed to raise Abilities past three if we want (we still had to abide by the cap in Adventure until Transformation Points). Second, we can buy Quantum for a whopping 7 Bonus Points out of our 15. Remember that we couldn’t buy Inspiration without spending Transformation Points. Speaking of, it’s time to Erupt.
Start by generally describing how your Nova powers revealed themselves. This will help guide your thoughts on how they manifest, so it’s actually kind of important. Now we get 30 Nova Points to spend on stuff. Let’s go over what we can do.
Mega Attribute: 3 NPs per dot. We’ll cover what these do in detail in a later update, but these are FAR beyond just a ‘sixth dot’ in an attribute. If you’ve got a Mega version of an Attribute, expect to be able to pull off some serious bullshit on any roll involving it. Note that using a Mega-Attribute generally does not spend any Quantum unless you’re using the special Enhancement bonuses so these are great for giving you some passive power if your other powers are spendy.
Enhancement: 3 NPs per. I mentioned these above, they are special bonuses tied to Mega-Attributes. Some of them will feel very familiar, because they were Dynamic Knacks in Adventure.
Quantum: 5 NPs per dot. Quantum can be raised to as high as 5. If you do so, take into account that at Quantum 5 you get an a automatic permanent point of Taint (and thus potentially an Aberration).
Quantum Power: 1 per dot Level 1, 3 per dot Level 2, 5 per dot Level 3. Quantum powers are tiered into Levels, higher level powers are more expensive to buy, more expensive to use, and require us to have more Quantum. They’re damn brutal at times, though.
Quantum Pool: 1 NP per 2 points. You can raise your maximum Quantum Point pool if you’d like.
Attributes: 1 NP for 3 dots. We get a bit more efficiency out of buying up normal Attributes with Nova Points than we did with Transformation Points. Being a perfect paragon motherfucker is not super expensive but more exciting options ARE, so maybe don’t go overboard here.
Abilities: 1 NP for 6 dots. One more than we got out of Transformation Points but unless it’s important for your concept you’re maybe kinda wasting the NPs here. You get a lot more NPs but there are very expensive things to buy as noted.
Backgrounds: 1 NP for 5 dots. Again one more dot than for Transformation Points. If a Background is valuable to you, you can buy it at 5 if you want fuck it. Otherwise, it’s potentially a waste.
Willpower: 1 NP for 1 dot. We only get 1 per 1 Willpower, though do keep in mind we get more than twice as many of these as we do Transformation Points.
There’s no longer such a thing as a Background Enhancement or Ability Mastery, and we can’t buy them. We can choose to buy any Mega-Attribute, Quantum Power, or Quantum Points as Tainted. This halves the cost (round up) but makes us take a point of Taint for each dot. We can also add an Extra to Level 1 or 2 powers (we’ll learn about Extras when we talk about powers). This will raise the effective Level of them by 1 for cost purposes. Extras are busted as fuck so consider them.
Once you’ve spent your NPs, check your Taint. If it’s at least 4, you need an Aberration for each point above 3. Novas get to soak Lethal damage with half their Stamina unlike normal humans.
They ask us to think about how it is that the party is together, which is important of course, and give us some questions to theoretically answer. It’s pretty straightforward and is half as much so the Storyteller knows what the fuck the players want to get out of all this. They suggest running a short prologue one-on-one with everyone. The idea they present is that you should go through the motions of what your character wants to be good at and make sure things work the way you want them to, and switch up your development points afterwards if you missed something important or just don’t like it. We get our experience rules, raising existing traits scales up in cost as they increase in rating while new ones have a flat cost. You’re allowed to buy Tainted stuff with experience as well, halving the cost but again giving you a point of Taint.
They also note that when you’re trying to deal with the concept of training as the explanation for raised/new powers, in practice you will rarely have someone else who can help with that. You’re mostly going to be on your own, and they suggest that the first session after you develop an entirely new power its use should potentially be at enhanced difficulty as a result of it being shit you slapdashed together and haven’t quite got the hang of unless you had some help. And trust me, anyone who could help you is going to want something in return.
Next time we’ll start on Traits, and probably do Mega-Attributes as well because most of the Traits will be repeats from Adventure.
More Aberrant time.
Chapter 3: Traits
We start with the Natures again, remember that they work differently now. Now they’re the way you regain Willpower and a somewhat unpleasant way you’ll start acting if you have completely run out of Willpower. The Natures aren’t all the same as Adventure’s (since they’re trying by their Nature examples to push a different sort of game) but the list of that game should give you an idea how these work so I’m not going to type out all of them again.
We get to Allegiances next, there are quite a few in this. You don’t get a free Background point anymore, and some of them actually require you to take a few points in some Backgrounds. Speaking of, let’s skip right through the dull Attribute and Ability descriptions to Backgrounds.
Allies: Allies are friends, and this is a bit stronger than the Adventure version. Allies are allowed to be as strong as a starting character and as you get more dots you can have fewer but even stronger allies. Just remember these aren’t bonus characters you control, they’re friends who sometimes won’t have time to help or sometimes want your help.
Attunement: A totally new Background, this allows objects or even people to be charged with your Quantum signature. Anything so-charged is undamaged by your powers as long as it remains in contact with you. So, for example, at the highest level a Human Torch style character could attune someone and then pick them up and fly off with them while on fire without injuring them.
Backing: Your ranking in an organization. You’re generally required to take a bit for your Allegiance, with the notable exception of the Teragen (they don’t really have a formal organization to speak of, so Backing would be more appropriate for one of their smaller groups that’s a bit more tight-knit).
Cipher: Works just the same as in Adventure, your data trails are hard to track and each dot is an extra difficulty to know shit about you.
Contacts: Contacts are the same as in Adventure, associates you have a give and take relationship with. They’re not friends but they are helpful.
Dormancy: This allows you to temporarily shut down your Nova powers in order to avoid detection (Novas release Quantum energy at all times that can be detected). While Dormant there is an extra difficulty to detect you, but you can’t use any Nova abilities. You get to temporarily eliminate a dot of Taint for every Dormancy dot you have, which can hide your Aberrations. If you’ve got at least 4 dots, you actually have two separate distinct forms: one human and one Nova. With 5 dots they don’t even have the same fingerprints or anything, you’d need genetic tests to prove you were the same person as the Nova.
Eufiber: This represents a living colony of Eufiber, secreted by Anibal Buendia. It’s really fucking useful. First of all, it can change its form and color at a whim, turning into just about any sort of clothes you could want. It can ‘store’ one Quantum point per dot in its structure, which both lets you recover and use those if you really need them and provides you with one Bashing and Lethal soak per stored point (in other words a 5 dot Eufiber colony is potentially crazy armor). Finally, it counts as part of your body for your powers.
Followers: You don’t get as many of these as you would have in Adventure, and they’re mostly going to be Extras.
Influence: How popular and well-known you are. In the mass-media world of Aberrant being a celebrity is rather stronger than it was in Adventure, though there’s still no precise systems for it.
Mentor: This can be potentially more powerful than it was in Adventure, since assistance with training your Nova powers is in high demand and if a notable character is your Mentor (and if you take a high dot one you SHOULD do that) you also get some inroads in whatever organzations they are part of.
Node: Another new Background, this controls how fast you can spend and regenerate Quantum Points. Bigger is not necessarily better, though, and past the second point of the Background you get an automatic permanent Taint for each point. You can also use Node to try and detect sources of Quantum power like a Nova.
Resources: How much money you have access to. Novas are often eventually quite rich, but if you don’t have the Background you’re not there yet.
We move on to Willpower, there’s some new uses for it. First of all, if you want to resist a mental Aberration you need to spend Willpower. You’ll often need to spend Willpower to fight the effects of mental powers. Finally, it lets you Max a quantum power (we’ll talk about this later).
If you don’t have any Willpower, as noted, you start acting according to your Nature until you recover at least one. The nice thing is, of course, you should have plenty of chances since you’re doing what you need to regain it at all times.
Now to talk about Quantum. First of all, no matter your Taint it starts becoming increasingly obvious you’re not a normal human as your Quantum goes up. At some level you look just as unnatural just by being perfect as hell, after all. Most powers have some Quantum scaling and all have a minimum Quantum rating to use. Your Quantum Points are also based on your Quantum rating, remember it’s 20 + twice Quantum. There’s a few ways to recover Quantum points. Resting recovers two per hour, with sleep giving you four. Your Node Background adds to the rate at a 1:1 basis. If you’re in a real bind, it’s possible to sacrifice a health level for two Quantum points. They also note that it’s somewhat visible if you’re running low on Quantum.
Now we discuss Maxing powers, which is a bit odd honestly since we haven’t even seen what powers do. You spend a Willpower, and a point of Quantum for each die you want to roll (up to your Quantum rating) to boost the power. It lets you do things like add automatic success, extra damage dice, increased duration or area (even adding area of effect to things that don’t normally), and as a last resort you can also Max to increase your Soak for a turn even if that doesn’t make any damn sense. Power Maxing is essentially the Stunt for this game, and people are encouraged to be over the top in describing the outcome. If you botch the roll to Max or the power you Maxed, that’s really bad and you’re going to get some Temporary Taint for it. We’ll see what that means next!
Taint comes in Permanent and Temporary flavors. There are three ways to gain the Permanent version. Just having too much Quantum or Node is good for it, as we’ve seen. Buying cheap powers as Tainted is another. The third ties into our Temporary Taint, if you get ten of that you get a Permanent point.
The first way we can get a Temporary Taint is to botch a Max attempt. If we really fuck up, it’s suggested that as many as three Temporary Taint could be awarded but just stick with one. You can enhance your rate of Quantum point recovery if you want by rolling Stamina + Node at a difficulty of the number of points you want above normal. If you fail the roll, though, take a Temporary Taint. There’s sometimes other ways too, but these are the main ones.
Losing Temporary Taint is kinda hard. You have to either be dorm’d down or limit your powers to half strength for an entire story or month of downtime, and you’re not allowed to botch any power rolls during that time. If you do, spend a Willpower and roll Willpower (they suggest difficulty equal to your Temporary Taint pool but that’s kinda bullshit, it’s hard enough to get rid of this shit). Success gets rid of a Temporary Taint, exceptional success two, but a botch gives you a Permanent Taint. Don’t botch. There’s officially no way to remove Permanent Taint according to Utopia (though they’d like one). The Teragen do have one, and Utopia wouldn’t like it. We’ll talk about that in their book.
You get your first Aberration at Taint 4, and get an extra one for each Permanent Taint after that. You get increasing social penalties with baselines as your Taint rises. You also lose a die from your Willpower dice pool to resist any mental disorders you have, which is wherein everything goes to shit in the end.
They give some guidelines for Aberrations, some of them have actual effects and some don’t. The more Taint you have, the more extreme the Aberrations you get will be. Generally an Aberration is going to fit conceptually with the manifestation of your powers, as your body tries to turn into something that better channels them.
Next time, we’ll talk about Mega-Attributes. They’re really fucking strong.
Alright let’s bust this right open, it’s time for more Aberrant and this time we’ve got Mega-Attributes, the first sort of Quantum boost we can buy.
A Mega-Attribute for each normal Attribute exists, and they have five levels as well. You need to both have at least one less Quantum than the level of any Mega-Attribute you buy and at least as many dots in the real version of the Attribute. You’re allowed to buy Megas as Tainted, though if you do and get an Aberration you should make the Aberration ‘fit’ with the Attribute.
So what’s a Mega-Attribute do? Well, first of all, they make our rolls using the corresponding Attribute much easier. Each dot lets us do one off two things for a given roll:
1) We can just roll them as dice. If we do that, make sure they’re visually distinct because if a Mega-Die comes up 7-9 we get two successes, and a natural 10 gives us three. And remember, we still choose a descriptor for Attributes that are at least 4 which lets us 10-again, and nothing says we can’t 10-again Mega-Dice. I’d rule you can, honestly, the whole point is that you can do ridiculous shit.
2) If the Difficulty of the roll is above standard, you can forego some of your Mega-Dice to reduce the difficulty on a 1:1 basis. A more reliable way to make a ridiculous roll easy.
You’re allowed to mix and match those two, and change them turn to turn (which will apply to multiple actions if you take them). Mega-Attributes also come with Enhancements, special bonuses that you get for them. You get one for free just for taking a given Mega, but additional Enhancements on it or multiple copies of the same one cost extra. Using a Mega-Attribute never costs Quantum points but Enhancements often do.
If two Novas are competing head to head in resisted roll and one has a higher rating in the corresponding Mega-Attribute than the other, they AUTOMATICALLY win unless the character with the lower rating spends a Willpower point. In this case, you don’t roll your normal Attribute at all, only your Mega. If you want to compete with someone who has a Mega-Attribute without one, you need to have a rating of 5 in the regular version of the Attribute. You have to spend a Willpower each turn (as opposed to for the scene for the above contest) and you only get to roll one die against the Mega-Attribute. If you tie, you ignore the Megas entirely and roll your base Attribute against each other (So a Mega-Strong 1 character with only 1 real Strength will probably lose to someone with the same Mega level but 5 real Strength). This is ONLY for direct Attribute vs Attribute resisted actions, keep in mind.
Mega-Strength and Enhancements: So, Mega-Strength is a unique Mega-Attribute. Instead of the benefits listed above, you roll as normal but get five automatic successes on most Strength/Might rolls and 5 automatic damage successes in close combat for each dot. You can lift increasingly ridiculous amounts of weight (eventually 100 tons at 5) with the note that Mega-Strong characters unconsciously exert quantum fields that keep objects together and otherwise negate the physical impossibilities of that feat. I’m not a fan of the extra damage successes especially, they’re a big reason why damage scales way faster than defenses in this game and I feel like you could cut them down to like 2 per level and it’d still be an amazing option.
Crush: You’re able to focus your blows to be truly lethal using your Mega-Strength. Spend a Quantum point and focus for a turn. Your next Brawl or Martial Arts attack inflicts Lethal instead of Bashing damage. Okay being real this Enhancement is shit. You spend a whole QP and an action on it, when you could take Claws for comparable NP/EXP costs and just get it for every attack you ever make. Only take this if you really don’t feel any of the others and don’t care to take Claws.
Shockwave: You can strike the ground to generate area of effect attacks. Roll your Mega-Strength dice as a bashing pool to targets on the ground within a (M-S x 10 meters) radius. It doesn’t make it clear if you get your Mega bonus on this damage but I’d say no honestly. Everyone in the radius also has to roll Strength at +3 to stay on their feet (that’s the real power of this to me). The ground DOES take your full Mega-Strength attack, so make sure this won’t cause you some problems. You can do this once per turn, and it doesn’t say it costs Quantum. This one’s a lot more fun and flavorful.
Lifter: You can lift even more super gross amounts of weight. You spend quantum points, and each one doubles the amount you can lift for one scene or ‘feat of strength’. This lets you do fun silly things and thus is always amusing. Not really ‘strong’ per se, though.
Quantum Leap: This turns you into Scott Bakula. No, I’m sorry, different one. This lets you make crazy huge jumps. When you roll to Jump, your max distances are either twice your Mega-Strength KILOMETERS horizontally or half a kilometer times your Mega-Strength KILOMETERS vertically per success you roll. They point out this is essentially uncontrolled flight unless you have some other power that would let you alter your trajectory, and if you can’t see as far as you’re jumping obviously you have no idea what you’ll be landing in. You can also use this to dodge attacks you normally couldn’t by making huge jumps, always nice. I like this one a lot, gives you something kind of unique.
Thunderclap: This is similar to Shockwave, but it’s a shockwave in the air instead of the ground. It does similar damage to targets in a similar radius, but it only affects appropriately brittle targets such as humans, windows, and other things you’d expect to be breakable. Again, once per turn. Much safer to use than Shockwave but it doesn’t let you get some extra benefit out of wanting to break the ground.
Mega-Dexterity and Enhancements: Mega-Dexterity gets added to your Initiative, run, and sprint scores. If you have Mega-Dexterity and the other person doesn’t, when you share Initiative you get to go before them. If someone wants to delay an action to interrupt yours, you roll Dexterity against them to try and act before them anyway.
Accuracy: You can aim like crazy, as the name suggests. You get three more dice to any attempt to hit any target with an attack as long as that attack doesn’t use the Brawl skill. Three dice is three dice, it’s boring but super powerful.
Enhanced Movement: You move faster than normal, by a large margin. You multiply your movement rates by 1+Mega-Dexterity for one turn (if you spend one quantum point) or a scene if you spend three. This stacks with and applies after the Hypermovement power we’ll see in the Powers section. There’s no benefit beyond being super fast but that can be its own benefit.
Fast Tasks: What it says on the tin. You can do things in less than half the time a normal person woud take. Trivial tasks take only a few seconds, and more difficult ones still happen amazingly fast. You still need to be able to do the thing you want to do. This can also turn some extended rolls into simple ones. Good but non-combat and can be tricky to find good uses for.
Flexibility: You’re very flexible, again just as it says. You have limited ability to contort and stretch your body letting you stretch your limbs up to two meters per Mega-Dexterity dot and fit through any opening your fist could pass through. You can take this multiple times to increase the effect. Good but if you want to be Mr. Fantastic there’s a Power that works better.
Physical Prodigy: You’re amazing at athletics of all sorts. Lets you add three bonus dice to things like Athletics, dancing, noncombat active things basically. Kinda meh, hard to find times it’ll really be great and it’s up against some good Enhancements.
Catfooted: You’re very stealthy. This is Accuracy or Physical Prodigy, but for Stealth. You can also roll Dexterity to leave no footprints. Good if stealth is your thing, otherwise meh.
Rapid Strike: This is the Flash-style rapid punches, sans any idea of having crazy vibrating punches (you’d want to take Claw to model that). It’s still good, though, you add your Mega-Dexterity to your punch and kick damage dice pools. I mean it’s not bullshit like Mega-Strength but it’s still good.
Mega-Stamina and Enhancements: Mega-Stamina has some strange scaling, I need to talk about the levels one by one:
1) Triple healing rates. Reduce your wound penalties by one step. You get an extra Bashing and Lethal soak.
2) Quadruple healing rates. Reduce would penalties by two steps. Two extra Bashing soak, one Lethal soak, and one extra “Bruised” damage level.
3) Five times normal healing rate. Your Base Resistance and Endurance are 4 instead of 3. Reduce wound penalties by three. Three extra Bashing soak, two extra Lethal soak, and an extra “Bruised” health level.
4) Six times normal healing rate, Resistance and Endurance base 4. Reduce wound penalties by four. Four extra Bashing soak, two extra Lethal, two extra “Bruised” health levels.
5) Seven times faster healing, base Resistance and Endurance are 5. Wound penalties are now reduced by five. Five extra Bashing soak, 3 extra Lethal soak, three extra “Bruised” health levels.
It’s both very strong and kind of weak compared to the scaling of damage, honestly. It’s tricky to say whether this needs buffed or some of the damage sources need nerfed, though.
Adaptability: You’re able to survive adverse environments that would kill lesser creatures. As long as you have at least one Quantum point in your body, you don’t need to eat, sleep, or breathe. Heat, cold, even the vacuum of space are no problem for you. Normal poisons and diseases don’t affect you, and against ones that can you get six extra soak/Resistance dice. It’s normally automatic and free, but especially adverse conditions may require you to spend Quantum by the scene or even by the turn. This doesn’t work at all against things like fire generated by Novas, only natural environmental conditions. This is one of many really strong Enhancements here, it can cut off a whole lot of really embarrassing ways to die.
Durability: You’re able to shrug off attacks relying on kinetic energy. If such an attack hits you and inflicts Lethal damage, spend a Quantum point and roll Mega-Stamina against a standard difficulty. If you succeed, convert the damage to Bashing and soak as that. Doesn’t work against energy but the strongest hits of damage you’ll take will be kinetic, so getting extra soak against them is never bad. Goes really well with some of the other Enhancements.
Hardbody: You’re unbelievably durable. If you spend a quantum point when struck, you can soak Aggravated damage as Lethal. Soaking Agg hits is normally entirely impossible so this is a pretty unique bonus and super worth taking.
Regeneration: It does what it says on the label. You spend Quantum points (up to your Mega-Stamina per turn) and heal Bashing and Lethal levels you’ve taken on an one for one basis. You can also regrow lost limbs, though this takes a lot of time. You can’t Regenerate Aggravated damage, so watch that. Still, again, really strong.
Resiliency: You’re even more durable than normal. Double the normal soak bonuses your Mega-Stamina would provide. Synergizes well with, well, most of the rest of this. This is one of the ones where you might really want to grab a lot of the Enhancements, they go together like chocolate and peanut butter and ALSO go well with powers like Armor. At least until the far future, where Psions can pull out some shit that doesn’t care at all how tough you are because that doesn’t stop someone deleting that you are supposed to have arms from reality.
I’m going to split this up, still six more Megas to discuss and they’ve all got lots of interesting stuff.
More Aberrant, more Mega-Attributes. This time we’ll go Mega-Mental.
Mega-Perception and Enhancements: Mega-Perception doesn’t have any goofy little special benefits, it just makes us really fucking good at noticing things. If you want the world to look like those shots from the mediocre BBC Sherlock show, take this. It’s got amazing Enhancements to make up for not having any silliness inherent to it.
Analytic Touch/Taste: Before we even start, while this has the split name you get both for taking this. Your senses of taste and touch are crazy sensitive. On the taste end, you can determine the composition and nature of anything you eat, including detecting poison in food. If it’s something trace enough that you need to roll, you get at least three bonus dice on any such roll. You can also literally flick your tongue in and out like a snake to halve any blindfighting penalties because you can taste shit in the air. On the touch end, you can tell things apart by touch even when that doesn’t make sense and get at least three bonus dice on anything where your sense of touch matters. You also get two bonus dice for detecting things like an invisible Nova, because you can sense the air currents. This does lots of stuff for you, and is great against stealthy opponents.
Blindfighting: You can sense foes that you can’t see (in a more focused way than the bonuses from the last enhancement). Spend a Quantum for the scene. You get no penalties for fighting blind, and can roll Awareness (resisted with Invisibility + Stealth) to detect an Invisible opponent. If you sacrificed everything, this is a great enhancement to take. In fact it’s making me want to make a certain someone in Aberrant.
Bloodhound: Mega smell. You can track by scent alone with an Awareness roll, but you’re vulnerable to getting scent-blinded by especially powerful smells. Probably one of the weaker ones since it’s got a rather narrow focus, I’d also let you pull other feats of mega-smellin’ to conceptually balance it.
Electromagnetic Vision: This is all about seeing in the middle EM range. Spend a Quantum to activate for Perception + Mega-Perception turns. You get three bonus dice to all Awareness rolls related to vision, and a number of other bonuses. First of all, you can see in the UV spectrum and therefore suffer no vision penalties as long as there is any source of UV light (so natural light of any sort works, but some artificial light wouldn’t). Secondly, you can see IR radiation. You can see anything illuminated by an IR light and can see things that are hot relative to their surroundings even in darkness. You can also magnify your vision in the visible light range. You can either see way far into the distance or microscope in up close, and the maximum magnification is x10^(Mega-Perception). You don’t suffer range penalties as long as you’re able to magnify enough. This is all really good, I hope I don’t need to explain why.
High-End Electromagnetic Scan: You can transmit and receive gamma and x-ray radiation in order to see through objects. Spend a Quantum, take an action, roll Perception to see through something. Some objects may be harder to scan through but this doesn’t care about what x and gamma rays can really do any more than Mega-Strength cares if it’s possible to get leverage to lift an aircraft carrier. A fun one, even if it’s maybe kinda weak.
Hyperenhanced Hearing: You can hear and also transmit sounds outside the range of normal hearing. Spend a Quantum to activate for Perception + Mega-Perception turns. Gain three dice on all hearing rolls, and get a few bonuses just like the EM Vision. First of all you can hear infra/ultra sounds (though in some cases you may still need to make the Awareness roll). You can literally do sonar, letting you blindfight (yet another way to do this in Mega-Perception). You can also ‘hear’ things like radio and television transmissions, and broadcast your voice on such. Yes I know those aren’t even fucking sounds, Aberrant does to, they just don’t care. This one’s a lot of fun too.
Quantum Attunement: You can perceive Quantum energies. This is stronger than you think it is. You spend one Quantum per turn to keep it active. First of all, you can use this in place of any or all of your normal senses with an Awareness roll, because at the end of the day Quantum forces are intrinsic to all things in the physical world. You can scan Novas by rolling Medicine to get a rough idea of their Quantum, Node, and Taint traits. With three successes, you can even get an indication of what their powers are. This is the spendiest extra sense (which makes sense since nothing can block it), but it does have some definite uses.
Ultraperipheral Perception: The proverbial spider-sense. You spend a Quantum for the scene, and are unable to be surprised or flanked. Maybe a little boring but a big advantage in combat.
Mega-Intelligence and Enhancements: Once you’ve got Mega-Intelligence you’re no longer on the scale of normal human thinking. Even if you’re a dumbass, your thinking is still faster and makes jumps of reasoning a normal human couldn’t comprehend (and to me the Intelligence 1, Mega-Intelligence 1 character is someone who has no idea WHY something is, but can still get to shit faster and more correctly than much ‘smarter’ people).
Analyze Weakness: You can find the vulnerable points in objects, systems, and procedures. It’s a bit complicated, let’s go through all this does. Spend a Quantum and consider the target. You then roll Intelligence (with some potential for increased difficulty for really robust targets). A failure means you can’t currently detect any weakness in the subject, and need to wait for a future scene to try again. If you succeed, there’s a variety of possible effects. For physical objects providing protection, you get to reduce the soak value of the object by one per success level. For larger objects, you get to add one die to any effort to repair, reinforce, or destroy the object for each success. For systems and procedures, you get the bonus dice to circumvent them. This is actually really broadly useful, I like it.
Eidetic Memory: Crazy mind palace shit. You can remember anything you’ve ever seen. Two major notes on this. First, this provides you with facts, not skills. You can’t just read the library and gain all Abilities forever, hooray. Secondly, it’s not instant. It takes a bit of time to sort through everything you remember, basically the storyteller will give you a base time then let you roll Intelligence and halve the time for every success. It’s still pretty good, though.
Enhanced Memory: This is a more short-term focused version of Eidetic Memory. You spend a quantum and make an Intelligence roll at + 1 to power-memorize information on a subject. This CAN give you actionable knowledge of the subject, for example how to speak a new language, but will quickly fade after a period of one day per dot of Mega-Intelligence. There’s no real system for exactly what this mechanically does, so talk it through to use it. Honestly this one is hard to gauge entirely because it’s limited by what you can come up with.
Mathematical Savant: You’re amazing at math. If something involves math, you can roll Intelligence and then add the successes to your dice pool. Math! Come up with creative ways to use this, and it’ll be great.
Linguistic Genius: You intuitively understand language on a conceptual level few can understand. You get 5 automatic successes on Linguistics rolls, know four times as many languages as you otherwise would, and you can make an Intellgence roll when you hear an unfamiliar language to understand but not be able to respond. Focused but great at what it does.
Mental Prodigy: This greatly enhances a single Ability, with a few different versions that have to be purchased separately. All versions cost a Quantum point to activate, and provide a bonus equal to the successes on an Intelligence roll to the applicable area. These include Engineering, Financial, Investigative, Medical, Scientific, and Tactical. Tactical has a further bonus, you get a permanent +3 Initiative.
Speed Reading: What the name suggests. You read four times faster than a normal person by default, and can roll Intelligence to add one to the multiplier per success. Not much to it, not very strong mechanically but cool.
Taint Resistance: You’re better at dealing with mental aberrations brought on by expansion of your M-R Node. You can subtract your Mega-Intelligence from your Node rating for determining how much Permanent Taint it provides. You also reduce your Taint level by your Mega-Intelligence to determine the severity of any mental Aberration you gain. This is really damn nice and if more Novas had it, the Aberrant War might not have happened. Less Permanent Taint means you’re farther away from turning into a nightmarish NPC.
Mega-Wits and Enhancements: The natural pair to Mega-Dexterity, this is your mental reaction speed. You also get to add your Mega-Wits to your Initiative. And some of these are goddamn brutal.
Artistic Genius: Um, I said these were brutal guys! This lets you roll Wits to add the successes to any roll related to Art. I swear these are going to get rude soon.
Enhanced Initiative: Each turn you can spend a Quantum to add +5 to your Initiative, straight up. You can have more than one instance of this enhancement, which increases the bonus but does not says it increases the cost (and it would, trust me). If you delay your action and go at the same time as someone else, you always go ahead of them unless they also have this or Mega-Dexterity. Good, but we can do better.
Lie Detector: You spend a Quantum point for the scene, and are able to determine whether people believe what they are saying is true or not. Characters who are really good at lying can rely you to make a Wits roll to determine the truthiness of their statement. This is okay but um there is some real competition in Mega-Wits so don’t take it first.
Multitasking: This would probably be the best of these in a saner world, it makes you much better at taking extra actions. Spend a Quantum for the turn, roll Wits at +1 difficulty when you want to split an action. If you succeed, halve the penalty rounding in your favor. So for example three actions are at -1/-2/-2. If you’ve got a Mega-Attribute to back up the rolls you want to make with the split action then this is just plain crazy. You’d THINK this would be the strongest there is. Well hold on, we’ve got one a bit later that’s just as dumb.
Natural Empath: Which is not Natural Empath. Spend a Quantum point for the scene and you can roll Wits to sense the emotions of a normal person. You also get three bonus Rapport dice. This is pretty good honestly, like in a less strong set of Enhancements I’d love the hell out of this.
Quickness: If you thought Multitasking was bad for the action economy, just wait! Spend a Quantum point to gain an extra full action in this combat turn, two places later than your original Initiative. This is again a full action (and so can be split, and Multitasked for an extra Quantum a turn). If you buy Quickness multiple times, you can take another extra action each at the cost of an additional Quantum (which will happen at another -2 Initiative, and another, etc). There is a limit on these extra actions, though. You can only do physical actions with them. So, for example, you could punch a fool but you couldn’t shoot a Quantum Bolt. But WHO CARES, take this and Mega-Strength or Claw or something and just go to down by hitting a fuckbillion times a round between this and Multitasking.
Synergy: This isn’t quite as strong as the similarly named Knack from Adventure. You’re just really good at helping people work together, and when you’re in a situation where you are in a group that is allowed to pool successes towards a common goal you can roll Wits to give EVERYONE involved your successes as extra dice to their pools. This lasts for an hour or until you’re finished, whichever’s sooner. Good but lol there’s enhancements here that break the game, why aren’t you taking those?
Next time Mega-Socials, which are cool in more subtle ways than giving you a ton of extra actions you can use to punch everyone to death with your Mega-Strength.
We’re going to finish out the Mega-Social Attributes in today’s Aberrant update.
Mega-Appearance and Enhancements: They spend a bit of time talking about what in practical terms Mega-Appearance even looks like. So, you’re soft disallowed from having Mega-Appearance at ALL if you’re at Appearance 2. This is because there are two possible types of it. If you’re good looking, you have to have Appearance 3-5. You’re probably just as inhumanly beautiful as Novas with the Aberration that makes you so, but you just don’t cause the uncanny feelings such beauty generates. You automatically get an extra die to Style rolls for each dot if you’ve got this version. On the other hand, you can also be mega ugly. Take Appearance 1 (though they note an option to take high Appearance for the parts of you that look human, then Mega-Ugliness for the rest of you, like that spider lady from Dark Souls). The important thing is that if you’re Mega-Ugly you’re allowed to exceed the stat it’s based on, because you’d have to be. You get the bonus to Intimidation instead of Style.
Appearance Alteration: You’re allowed to make minor changes to your body to conform to the desires of those around you. They’d be enough to make you look like an entirely but not radically different person (hair, skin color, about 50 pounds plus or minus, about four inches plus or minus, and just in general about a 20% change if it’s not mentioned). That said, you can’t actually use this as a disguise per se. The whole point is that you’re still trying to look amazing, just to different people, so they’ll still essentially recognize you’re ‘you’. You spend a quantum point for the scene and boom you can do it. If you are targeting specific people, you need to be in their presence for about a minute to get the feel for the final result. You can spread the transformation over a bit of time if you’re worried about scaring people. You’re not allowed to copy specific people with this enhancement (that’s another one) and you’re not allowed to hide super gross Aberrations. Still, a nice little thing to have if you’re big on social interactions because you’ll always ‘fit in’.
Awe-Inspiring: A bit more mechanical now. You inspire awe in baselines. For each dot in Mega-Appearance, receive one automatic success when making Intimidation, Command, and Interrogation rolls. You get a similar bonus to any attempt to persuade or inspire people. You can’t be mega-ugly, though, and each physical Aberration you have reduces the automatic successes by one. This costs a quantum point per scene, but even when it’s not on you’re still pretty impressive.
Copycat: This is what you need if you want to look like someone specific. Study the target briefly (even in photograph, but it has to be very high quality), and spend a Quantum. You look like that person for a scene, no fuss no muss. Your biometrics, however, will still be you, so don’t go thinking you can murder someone looking like the President and leave his fingerprints and blood behind. Still, super good for Mission Impossible shenanigans.
Face of Terror: You can make yourself look scary as hell. This is common for mega-ugly characters but not restricted to them. Spend a quantum and your face will turn into some spooky shit for a scene (if you’re already mega-ugly it might not even actually change, of course, but you’ll still be way scarier). Get three extra dice to anything where being scary would help.
First Impression: You automatically make a good first impression. When you are meeting someone for the first time, or whom you haven’t met in a long time, spend a Quantum to activate. You always make a good first impression, because the other person will just be convinced that you did. You were just what they were looking for, and they’ll overlook any evidence to the contrary. They won’t necessarily let you do something they wouldn’t otherwise, but still. I really like this one and feel like you could pull some real bullshit with its creative use.
Mr. Nobody: You’re able to go full anti-Mega-Appearance. Spend a Quantum, and for a scene you are just Appearance 2, with no Mega. You won’t look like a Nova to a casual observer, though you’ll still detect as such. Alternatively, you can spend the Quantum to just become completely unobtrusive. This won’t cover up super gross Aberrations, though. It’s alright.
Seductive Looks: This was uncomfortable in Adventure, and now we see where it came from! Spend a quantum to make yourself perceived as looking exactly how a target wishes you’d look until you leave their presence. You get three automatic successes on basically all social rolls to influence them in your favor, it’s actually amazing and when combined with some of the other things we’ll see in the other Mega-Social Attributes would let you really do someone over. The effect is also pretty broad so shockingly this is very worth taking.
Mega-Manipulation: You’re great enough at manipulation that you can add your Mega-Manipulation as bonus dice to resist being tricked. Otherwise this works as normal.
Hypnotic Gaze: This is essentially a low-level power, a weaker version of the Hypnosis and Domination powers. Make eye contact with a target that isn’t disinclined to do what you’ll suggest, then spend a Quantum and make a Manipulation roll. If it succeeds, they’ll do it. The suggestion lasts for one day per dot of Manipulation and Mega-Manipulation. Subtle because you need to gauge what someone is willing to do to use it right, but still powerful.
Persuader: You’re great at getting people to agree with you. Spend a Quantum point, then gain between one and three automatic successes on the persuasion attempt. This depends on how radical the change in their position is, and how important they consider their position is. A great combo with Seductive Looks, because that’s three extra dice as well to this attempt.
Trickster: Sell some iceboxes to Inuits. Spend a Quantum, lasts for the duration of a situation, three automatic successes to anything you need to roll to trick a chump. These are all super strong automatic success abilities to make up for how ‘weak’ Mega-Socials can seem.
The Voice: A mediocre reality show. Wait, no. This is actually that Command Voice Knack, with the added bonus that you’re an amazing singer. Pick a person that can hear you, roll Manipulation. If you get any successes, that person has to do anything you say that can be accomplished in a single turn. They’re allowed to roll Wits, any successes on that cancel your successes 1:1. They can also spend Willpower to cancel successes. In addition, you get to add your Mega-Manipulation to rolls related to singing.
Mega-Charisma and Enhancements: No special rules for this one, kinda doesn’t need it.
Commanding Presence: If you ever wanted to be Salvatore the Magnificent from Disgaea 3 and constantly giving people ridiculous orders, well now you can. You take three automatic successes on any roll involving commanding people and giving them orders. They get to take whatever rolls they’d normally get to resist orders, of course. This doesn’t require you to actually have any real authority over the person, either. It does however suffer penalties if you’re actually part of the same organization and they’re above you.
Dreadful Mien: You’re really unpleasant when you’re angry with someone. Focus on a target and roll Charisma. Each success subtracts one from their roll to hit you, as they flinch away at the last second for fear of making you even more angry. This can cause them to totally miss. It lasts for the whole fight, but you’re not allowed to directly attack the target without the effect breaking. If you attack allies of theirs, they can make a Willpower roll to try and shake it off. Still, a pretty nice way to clown someone while you try and talk them down.
Natural Agitator: Do you like rousing up angry mobs and shit? Of course you do! You’re great at getting people and crowds to do things. Roll Charisma, and if you succeed the target or targets will just sort of do what you suggested as long as they’d be inclined to do it in general. If you get multiple successes, you can actually make them do things they wouldn’t have been inclined to do. They do get a Willpower roll to try and cancel your successes in that case, though. The effects generally last about an hour. Needless to say this synergizes well with the persuasion effects you can get from the other Megas.
Seductive: This is the other side of Seductive Looks, it makes the target perceive you as acting the way he wants you to. Roll Charisma to know and automatically adopt the behaviors the target is attracted to. You’ll get three automatic successes on social rolls against them for the scene, simple as that. If you’ve got Seductive Looks and Persuader then god damn.
Soothe: You are good at calming things down. Spend a quantum, roll Charisma, everyone in ten meters starts to feel way calmer. Nobody including you can attack or take any other hostile action unless they roll more successes on a Wits roll than you rolled on your Charisma roll, or spends a Willpower. Another great way to shut a fight down.
That’s the Megas done, next time we’ll start talking Powers.
Now it’s time for more Aberrant, starting on Quantum Powers! We’re definitely not going to finish this in one go.
Chapter Five: Quantum Powers
We start with a note on how Quantum Powers actually work. See, at some level there’s really only ONE Quantum Power, the ability to fuck with the forces that compose all things and make shit happen that should not be happening. In theory a Nova who truly understands and can perceive how their powers work could do pretty much fucking anything. Fortunately, not even D to the Mal can really do that, because even a Mega-Intelligent Nova is ill-equipped to comprehend how mechanically these powers are working.
The main takeaway is that while they do not operate within the bounds of how reality is ‘supposed’ to work, the phenomenon Quantum Powers generate are real and operate the way they ‘should’ work as far as the person using the power is concerned. So fire is hot and burns, cold freezes, whatever. And a Nova who thinks their Quantum Blast is shooting dark matter based on some half-remembered bullshit they saw on a pop science show will in fact shoot ‘dark matter’ with fake bullshit properties based on what they think it’s supposed to be like.
In terms of your character, what this means is that when you take powers you get to decide what they look and act like. This can potentially add new limitations or minor effects to the power because of how it’s manifesting. If you want something to be significantly different, there are things called Extras you can buy for powers. We’ll talk about them later but basically an Extra makes a power significantly stronger at the cost of also making it effectively be one power level higher.
Powers are Traits with ratings from one to five like any other. You roll them with their rating plus something else just like anything else. You’re always immune to the effects of a power you used, though there’s a power that can negate this immunity.
Powers have Levels, going from 1 to 3 (there are powers up to level 6 in some optional rules that require more Quantum than anyone in your party will likely ever have). This determines how much they cost to buy, to level up, and how many Quantum Points it takes to activate them. One Quantum Point per level, straight up. Powers have a minimum Quantum rating to buy them as well. Duration is the next major thing to consider, because many of these are ongoing effects. A Permanent power is just that, always on no worries. There’s also ‘Concentration’, which is paid for once and lasts as long as you’re concentrating on doing it (which adds +2 difficulty to any other actions you try and take while doing so). In contrast is ‘Maintenance’, which lasts a while then has to be paid for again but requires no concentration. Unless otherwise noted, you pay every (Quantum + power rating) turns for one of these.
They have a sidebar before we start noting that while Novas can have powers that seem like psionic phenomenon, they work nothing like actual psionics (they’re actually opposed forces in fact, and using Quantum shit on a Psion is super hard) and Novas are absolutely not psychic even if that’s how they think their powers work.
Okay, power time guys! Just going to go alphabetical, that’s what the book does.
Absorption: Level 2, Quantum 1. You can absorb damage and turn it into Strength. Pick either energy or kinetic damage when you take this, the power only works against that. When you’re hit by an appropriate attack, you may roll Stamina + Absorption. For every success, you may pay one Quantum Point to negate a level of damage you would have just taken. And for every two levels of damage Absorbed, you temporarily gain an extra dot of Strength. Go over five, or already have five? Then go ahead and make those Mega-Strength instead. You can’t gain more bonus dots than you have dots in Absorption, but you can absorb damage even if it wouldn’t help you further. These dots fade one per (Quantum + Absorption) turns. Some extras suggested, one makes the effect last for the scene and the other lets you absorb at a range (only for energy, though). An interesting defensive power but it’s really intensive to your Quantum Points. It does go better with soak than it might sound like because you can apply it pre-soak if you want.
Animal/Plant Mastery: Level 2, Quantum 1. You can either be Aquaman or Poison Ivy, your choice. You can communicate with your choice of animals or plants. The animal version can call animals within two kilometers per dot to your side, though they can only move so fast. Plant mastery doesn’t let plants uproot themselves to your call, but you can pull again Poison Ivy shenanigans where foliage animates to attack people. It mimics a later power, Molecular Manipulation (Animation). The category you have Mastery over will always be friendly unless you attack them or something. This is a pretty fun one, and the Extra lets you have both versions as one power.
Armor: Level 2, Quantum 1. This is permanent, and gives you +3 bashing and lethal soak per dot straight up. It’s entirely up to you how or even if this physically manifests, this doesn’t actually need any physical manifestation for it to work. If you decide yours does, you can turn it on and off at no cost at will. This gives you a LOT of soak, but it doesn’t scale up as quickly as Mega-Strength so you kind of need to pair it with Mega-Stamina to keep up. There’s an extra that lets you spend three quantum points to make your armor heavier than usual, giving you extra soak and making you harder to hit but slowing you down.
Bioluminescence: Level 1, Quantum 1. You can glow. Spend the quantum, roll Stamina + Bioluminescence, light up for 10 minutes for each success. I wouldn’t spend a Nova Point to be a fucking flashlight but that is your freedom here in Aberrant land.
Body Modification: Level (special), Quantum 1. This is a weird Permanent power that simulates some permanent changes to your body. There’s a bunch of suggested ones, along with costs. I’ll go over them a bit, why not.
Adhesive Grip: Do some Spiderman shit.
Chromatophores: Change color like a chameleon. Add three dice to Stealth rolls if you’re either naked or wearing attuned Eufiber.
Extra Limbs: You’ve got fun bonus arms, which reduce your multiple action penalties by one (before Multitasking).
Extra Health Levels: You’ve got bonus organs like a Spess. Marine, giving you some extra health levels for every time you purchase this.
Gills: You’ve got gills, like a fish.
Spines: You’re spiky, which makes your grapples do Lethal damage and causes people punching you to take as many dice in damage back as they’d inflict (up to 10) when they hit.
Tendril: You’ve got a grabby tentacle that lets you swing and grab things. It doesn’t actually have to be a tentacle of course, it could be pure energy or something.
Webbed Hands/Feet: Swim faster.
Wings/Patagia: You can control your falls and glide, but not truly fly. You’d want to pair this with Flight if you want that.
These are cool and are just examples, and again be creative because many of these can be energy or crystal or whatever the shit you want them to be physically.
Bodymorph: Level 2, Quantum 3. You can turn your body into a specific form of matter or energy, which you specify when you buy this. Think Human Torch shit. So, how this works is that for each Bodymorph dot you pick a dot of another Level 1 or 2 Power that it simulates whe active. You can activate this at will and it’s a Maintenance duration. There can also be other benefits beyond the simulated powers, they give some guidelines:
Hard Solids: Inflict two extra dice of damage with Brawl and Martial Arts, attacks directed at you suffer a difficulty penalty of one. Suggested powers include Density Control (Increase), Armor, and Claws.
Liquids: Breathe and exist in water, move through water at twice normal speed. Gain the Flexibility Mega-Dexterity enhancement and access to the Asphyxiation combat maneuver. At least one dot MUST be assigned to Density Control (Decrease), the rest are generally Density Control (Decrease), Poison, or Immolate (which simulates turning into an acid).
Gas: Move through air at normal running speed, +1 soak vs physical damage, Flexibility and access to Asphyxiation. You also need to assign at least one dot to Density Control (Decrease). The rest can be Density Control (Decrease), Poison, Flight, and Storm.
Energy: Inflict lethal damage with Brawl and Martial Arts, +1 difficulty to strike you. There’s a lot of listed power options, including Immolate, Invulnerability (the energy type you are), Magnetic Mastery (EMP), Electromagnetic Vision Enhancement, Force Field, and Density Control (Decrease).
If you can justify something else, then do it, that’s fine. These are just guidelines. I really like this power, though it’d be cooler if you could dynamically pick the allocation of the powers instead of them being fixed. There are other powers that are kind of wildcard-y, I’d personally let there be an Extra that did exactly that since a Level 3 power is kind of appropriate for that effect.
Boost: Level 2, Quantum 2. This power lets you go Super Saiyan. Choose an Attribute when you buy this, that’s the Attribute you can Boost. Roll Quantum + Boost, add the successes to your stat (rolling over to the Mega-Attribute right up until it hits 5). Dots fade one per (Quantum + Boost) turns, and you can do this once a scene. Extra include letting the effect last the whole scene, affecting two Attributes at once, and being able to boost someone else. This is, obviously, really good. The obvious stat to boost is Strength, because it’s got kinda shitty Enhancements to its Mega so who cares if you don’t have any.
Claws: Level 1, Quantum 1. Turn your hands into natural weapons of some kind, even if it’s just making them vibrating super speed Flash hands or something. It’s a Maintenance power, so pretty cheap and long lasting. Your close combat attacks become Lethal, and do bonus damage equal to your Claws rating. There’s an Extra that lets you apply this to weapons as well, which is cool. A cheater like me would cheat and give this the Aggravated Extra, but that would make me as bullshit as Anna DeVries because that’s very much against the spirit of that Extra as we’ll see when we get to the generic ones.
Clone: Level 3, Quantum 5. This lets you make copies of yourself. I’m covering what’s in the base book normally, but this power actually radically changes in the errata in the player’s guide so I’ll jump a book ahead and cover both. So the original iteration generated as many as your successes in a Stamina + Clone roll (as long as you spend a quantum point per clone). The new version just lets you spend a Quantum to generate a clone up to Quantum + Clone, no roll. Your clones are entirely separate and have all your Traits (except the Clone Power). In the original version, each clone you created gave them all -1 to ALL THEIR TRAITS, which would quickly cause them to really kinda suck. On the other hand, they couldn’t go below 1 in anything, and they each got their own quantum pool equal to half of yours. The new version, their stats are unchanged BUT they share a quantum pool with you and all the other clones. Clones last for a scene or until they are killed or you recombine with them by touching them. So I think this change was intended as both a buff and a nerf, on one hand you get clones that don’t suck shit but on the other hand you can’t pull bullshit where you just blam out a bunch of clones that can spam some Quantum power with their pool and who cares if they suck at it. Or for example make a clone and then use a power to drain Quantum Points from them, since you spent one to make a clone with half your pool.
Cyberkinesis: Level 3, Quantum 4. This is our first multiple technique power. What that means is that we pay for one power that has a lot of individual techniques that it lets you access. We get one of these per dot in Cyberkinesis, but can use the others if we pay an extra Quantum and add one to the difficulty. Anyway this is a Power we can use to Hack the Planet. Let’s see some of what it actually does:
Alter Data: Roll Intelligence + Cyberkinesis, as long as you succeed you can later, read, or remove existing data or insert entirely new data into a computer system. The rate at which you can do this depends on the number of successes. Great way to gather information.
Control: Roll Manipulation + Cyberkinesis to take control of a machine. If someone else is trying to control it, they have to roll against the successes you get as a resisted action. Try to kill someone with a forklift.
Fool: Manipulation + Cyberkinesis. Lets you insert false data into sensors. Assign the sensor a ‘Perception’ to resist this. Really similar to Alter Data, but a bit more real time and active.
Overload: Overload a machine. Roll Wits + Cyberkinesis. If you succeed, boom, machine is busted. Particularly robust machines might take more than one success.
Reprogram: While Alter Data lets you change the information in a system, this lets you change the programming. Roll Intelligence + Cyberkinesis. Note you don’t need to know jack shit about computer programming as far as this roll is concerned, because you’re using wibbly wobbly quantum bullshit to do your coding. I’m pretty sure anyone who’s ever done any programming at all really wishes they had wibbly wobbly quantum bullshit now that I’ve brought that up as a concept.
We’ll pick up with the first D, Density Control, next time. We’ll be seeing at least one really goddamn brutal attack Power, it’s gonna be great.
More Aberrant, more Powers.
Density Control: Level 2, Quantum 3. We can choose to be able to increase or decrease our density. Increased is pretty straightforward, we pay our Quantum cost and roll Quantum (adding our Density Control as automatic successes). Each success doubles our weight, gives us an extra Strength (rolling over into Mega-Strength), and gives us an extra Bashing and Lethal soak. We don’t get any increased jumping ability out of this Strength increase, but it’s otherwise normal. Decreasing density doesn’t take a roll, but has variable effects as we get more dots. At one dot, we can slowly ooze through cracks in things and get +1 die to dodge. At two, we take and deal half damage with physical attacks, can go through cracks more quickly, and get +2 dice to dodge. At three we’re totally intangible and physical attacks can’t hurt us, though energy still will. We can pass through physical objects, but do still need to breathe unless we pair this with something else so we can’t just peace out in an object forever. We also get +3 dice to dodge. At four dots, we get all that and half damage from energy as well. Once we’re at five dots, only mental (or likely ANY Psionic) attack can hit us and we’re able to turn partially solid as an action to attack fuckers. Extras include being able to do both Increase and Decrease and being able to affect others. This is a pretty great power overall, it’s either an amazing defense or a solid cheap way to improve our offense on demand.
Disintegration: Level 3, Quantum 5. Simple and brutal. Pay your quantum, roll Dexterity + Disintegration, target takes Aggravated damage equal to your Quantum + the successes you rolled. If they don’t have a way to soak Aggravated this is going to go really bad for them really fast, since again that’s a guaranteed six Aggravated hit. This power absolutely does not fuck around and if you can take it you’ve got an unimpeachable offense.
Disorient: Level 2, Quantum 1. You can fuck with someone’s actions. Roll Manipulation + Disorient, opposed by Willpower. Each success net reduces their dice pools by one, and they absolutely can’t use any action whose dice pool has been reduced to half or less without spending a Willpower for the duration (which is Maintenance). Spending a Willpower will shake off the effect entirely but you’re not penalized for immediately reapplying. Maintaining the power will cause it to slowly weaken each time you pay for it again, though, so you might want to just hit them anew each time if it’s going to run out. This is a super cool option for social characters, dice pools are often going to be small enough that you can really mess someone up.
Disrupt: Level 2, Quantum 3. This lets you fuck with someone else’s control over their quantum powers. Choose a power the target possesses (not a Mega-Attribute) and roll Intelligence + Disrupt. The target resists with Quantum + Node. If you net any successes, the target’s power is temporarily reduced by as many dots as you net successes. You can affect two powers at once with an Extra.
Domination: Level 2, Quantum 3. This allows you to try and control a target. Spend your Quantum, roll Manipulation + Domination against their Willpower. The more net successes you get, the more complete your control over the target is. The target is then allowed to roll Willpower, and if they succeed they can spend one point of Willpower to knock your successes down by one and potentially change what they’re doing. Four successes lets you make someone kill themselves so, yeah. You need an Extra to do this without the target being able to understand you. Another Extra lets you temporarily possess targets, but keep in mind that you’ll die if they do while you’re in their body. This is good (save or die always is) but it’s not easy to land.
Elemental Anima: Level 3, Quantum 4. This is another power with multiple techniques, and it’s all about controlling (but not creating) elements. Remember you get one technique for each dot you’ve got in the overall power. These don’t have to be ‘real’ elements, remember the powers don’t need to be things that should work in reality. They do need to make some level of internal sense, though, so you shouldn’t pick techniques that don’t feel consistent with the element.
Alter Temperature: You can spend Quantum to alter the temperature around you by 10 C for each dot you have in the power. No roll is required. Straightforward but not exactly amazing unless you’ve got a lot of rating in this and have some creativity.
Blast: A ranged bashing attack using the element. Inflicts [Quantum x 2] levels + (power rating x 3) dice of bashing damage, so at least 8 + 3. This is pretty comparable to a Quantum Blast that’s doing bashing, a solid one.
Elemental Shield: This lets you shield yourself and those near you from the element in question. Roll Wits + Elemental Anima, each success counts as four soak that apply to that element only. This is either great or really feeble, depends on the element.
Enhance/Diminish: You can increase or decrease the effect of the element in an area. You roll Intelligence + Elemental Anima, and successes increase or decrease some aspect of that element in the area. You can also use this to counter enemy novas controlling the same element, which is a resisted Quantum + power rating roll.
Lethal Blast: This is the lethal version of Blast, as the name suggests. You do [Quantum x 2] + (power rating x 2), so a minimum of 8 + 2 lethal. The scaling is slightly weaker, but this is still really powerful.
Movement: You can use the element you control to move quickly. You’ve seen this sort of thing done in all sorts of superhero stuff, it’s good fun.
Shaping: You can alter the shape of a quantity of your element. It’s possible to do things like make a pit under someone, which requires you to make an attack roll with Wits + Elemental Anima. Another cool one for creative cats.
Wall: A special case of Shaping really, you create a wall of the element in front of you that gives you two soak per Elemental Anima dot to attacks that have to pass through it, unless they would not reasonably be hindered by it. A solid defense, actually, 10 soak potentially isn’t something to say no to.
Elemental Mastery: Level 3, Quantum 5. This is similar to but distinct from Elemental Anima. This power also has techniques, but instead of simply controlling the element you create it entirely. It’s mostly got its own techniques, though, because again this is creation not necessarily fine control.
Blast: Identical to the Blast technique in Anima, and just as good.
Crush: Create a quantity of element that lifts a target up and slams them down. Roll Intelligence + power rating, each success allows you to move the target by as much as 10 meters, deals two levels of bashing damage, and reduces their Initiative on the next turn by one. A not entirely terrible offensive power, though inferior to Blast in damage by a large margin.
Imprison: Confine the target within the element. This is a clinch with Might equal to twice the successes on a Wits + Elemental Mastery roll. You can spend an extra quantum point when using this to make the clinch do damage as normal. A good save or die to disable a weak character.
Lethal Blast: Identical to the Lethal Blast in Anima.
Propel: This lets you propel yourself with a jet of your element. What sort of movement this is depends on the element in question. I will say that they underestimate how well water would work on land, it just wouldn’t let you fly.
Shield: Creates a Force Field like barrier around you. Straight up two soak per dot with no positional issues (unlike Wall) and for an extra quantum it’ll do your power rating as a bashing effect to anyone who touches it. Very solid defensive power, take the hell out of this.
Sphere: An AoE version of Blast, this hits a large area for (rating x 3) dice bashing. I’d suggest taking this and Lethal Blast as an offensive set, you certainly don’t need this AND Blast.
Storm: Creates a storm of your element. Inflicts two levels of bashing damage per turn per dot in the power, reduces opponent dice pools by two, and halves movement. Other effects are possible at the Storyteller’s discretion. This is a Concentration power, so you won’t be able to do much while you’re doing it. It’s also kinda indiscriminate, so be careful.
Empathic Manipulation: Level 2, Quantum 2. Allows you to manipulate the emotions of others. Detecting them requires Perception + Empathic Manipulation, then changing them requires Manipulation + Empathic Manipulation. They’re allowed Willpower rolls to resist both. This is one that requires some subtlety and work to get good use out of.
Entropy Control: Level 3, Quantum 4. This is another power with Techniques. If you know anything at all about Entropy, just throw that shit out the window because this power lets you do shit that connects with the bullshit popular view of it.
Bioentropy Storm: Create a field where the biology of living creatures goes all to hell. You summon spontaneous injuries and other weird crap. Roll Dexterity + Entropy Control opposed by the Stamina of targets, each net success inflicts one health level lethal that can only be soaked if you have the Hardbody Enhancement. This can be a real nasty thing, since it’s AoE and is nearly unsoakable.
Breakdown: Make a machine fail. Roll Intelligence + Entropy Control, opposed by a “stamina” set by the Storyteller (which goes down as the device gets more complicated). The machine fails if you succeed, simple as that.
Entropic Shield: You’re able to create a shield that dissipates the force of incoming attacks. Roll Stamina + Entropy Control, add your successes to your soak against anything that’s not made out of living matter.
Probability Corruption: You can make some poor fucker have really bad luck. Roll Entropy Control and JUST Entropy Control. Each success results in a loss of one die or automatic success by all rolls made by the target as long as you maintain this. The target will suffer a botch while this is active if they don’t get any successes and roll a 1 or 2 on any die, which is nasty.
ESP: Level 2, Quantum 3. This lets you sense at a range. Roll Perception + ESP, how well you perceive the target point depends on the number of successes you get. AN Extra lets you greatly increase the range, but makes it take longer to focus. Good for information gathering.
Flight: Level 2, Quantum 1. You can fly. You’ve got to Maintain this, though, make sure you don’t run out of Quantum in mid-air. An Extra lets you Fly while underwater as well.
Force Field: This generates a field of force around you that protects you from damage. Gain soak equal to your Quantum, plus twice the number of successes on a Stamina + Force Field roll. You don’t need to succeed that roll to get the Force Field at all, though, remember. You’re allowed to use the Force Field to parry attacks. With an Extra you can create walls of force as well. A really great defense for the most part, and one of the few ones that can legit stand up to some of the crazier damage numbers you could see.
A lot of powers in D-F, going to hold off here and move on to G+ next time.
More Powers, more problems here in Aberrant.
We start back in with G, and another multiple technique power.
Gravity Control: Level 3, Quantum 4. Another day, another multiple technique power where we get a bunch of ways to control something. This time it’s gravity.
Gravitic Blast: So Gravity Control is legit sort of better than the elemental ones, and here’s one reason why: This is actually just a straight copy of Quantum Bolt, able to do bashing or lethal damage as we decide. In the Elemental powers, we had to take those as separate techniques. Anyway if you’re going to take this power you might as well take the Blast, it has the exact system as the Blasts last time.
Gravitational Field: Alter gravity in an area. You can cause a shift of .5 g per success on a Dexterity + Gravity Control roll. The impact on weight is exactly as simple as you’d expect, multiply their weight by their mass and the new value of g. If you manage to set g to a negative value, things will in fact start falling up until they get out of the field. Living things can try to resist being affected at all by rolling Willpower against this. This is potentially REALLY nasty and not just for making something fly up a few meters into the sky then fall for unpleasantness. It’s just in general disabling as hell. They also note that characters without Gravity Control gain one Strength and Stamina (but not rolling over to Mega, since it doesn’t say to), but lose a Dexterity for being in .6 g or lower. Being in 1.5 g or higher without Gravity Control means you lose two dots of Strength and Dexterity. All the penalties are negated by having Gravity Control, but you get to keep those bonuses in low gravity. It’s harder to fly in high gravity and obviously you’ll fall faster. They’re a bit wibbly wobbly about realizing this but moving in negative gravity except to fall up would be really goddamn hard if you can’t fly, it’s a really great way to disable the shit out of people you don’t like.
Gravitic Flight: Use gravity to fake fly. It’s not as fast as normal flight powers, because it’s a kludgy solution to the whole ‘flying’ problem.
Gravitic Shield: This is a super powerful defense, way better than most. It only works on physical attacks, but while it’s active you get several benefits. First, projectiles lose successes equal to your dots in Gravity Control. If you can combo this with some bullshit to make them require extra success this can very, VERY quickly make you nearly impossible to shoot. If they DO hit you with a projectile, you also get to add your Gravity Control to your soak. It’s not as effective against hand-to-hand attacks, only subtracting half your dots (rounded up) from their successes. Still, reducing successes is an even better defense against soak sometimes, don’t need to soak attacks that just plain don’t hit you.
Gravitokinesis: This lets you copy the Telekinesis power we’ll see later, using Dexterity + Gravity Control. It’s not as powerful, though, and requires twice as many successes to get the same effect. Still, once you’ve got all the other techniques why not take it.
Healing: Level 3, Quantum 4. A pretty powerful healing ability overall. Touch someone, spend quantum, heal twice that many bashing levels or that many lethal levels. Boom, done, no need to roll. You can only do it once per person per scene, though, so don’t blow it too soon. Against a poison or disease, you can spend quantum to add 1:1 Resistance dice to assist the target. You can regenerate lost limbs and damaged organs as well, but it costs double quantum and a Willpower. This won’t heal Aggravated damage at all, so be careful about that shit.
Holo: Level 2, Quantum 1. This lets you create illusions. These don’t have to be visual, you choose one sense when you pick the power. A Manipulation + Holo roll tells you how convincing the illusion is. An illusion cannot itself cause harm, but it can mask reality such that harm occurs. An Extra can let this affect a second sense, which is always nice. This again requires some creativity to do nasty shit with but that always feels better than just abusing the action economy and doing a goddamn billion health levels with mega-strength punches right?
Homunculus: Level 3, Quantum 4. Okay no sorry While Wolf you don’t get to spend a whole fucking page on a power that’s WAY too expensive for what it does. You can break off your body parts into individual bits that you can mostly control (if they get too far away then you’re kinda in the shit) and if you have four dots in the power you can break yourself into a swarm of insects which is literally the only cool thing this power does. But it’s still SHIT. You might say ‘oh but I bet you can break the action economy’ and yeah I guess if you don’t mind someone being able to hit your split off limb once and then WHOOPS it’s destroyed and I hope you took Healing or the Regeneration Mega-Stamina power because this power doesn’t let you regrow shit that you don’t manage to get back to you and re-attach. Seriously no matter how fun and flavorful this is just don’t take it, it’s absolute shit.
Hypermovement: Level 2, Quantum 1. You can move super fast. While active you increase the multipliers used to calculate movement rates by 6 per dot. You have to pick Hyperrunning, Hyperswimming, or Hyperflying when you take this. This won’t work on any of the fakey special ways of getting flight, though, only the actual Flight power. You can easily cause shit like sonic booms when moving with Hypermovement, and it’s very hard to hit you (add one to the difficulty for each dot while moving). There’s a special attack option you get that models a hyperspeed attack, we’ll talk about that later. Hypermovement is always fun, and it’s not super expensive to have a little. It’s also not giving you extra actions at all.
Hypnosis: Level 1, Quantum 1. Either described as Shit Domination, or Literally the Hypnotic Gaze Enhancement. You’re allowed to go a bit heavier than the Hypnotic Gaze by rolling Intelligence + Hypnosis vs Willpower, and this does have the advantage of lasting longer than Domination. But you’re much more limited in what you can do even if you get some serious successes, this requires some serious creativity to get good work out of.
Immobilize: Level 2, Quantum 1. This lets you, well, immobilize someone. Spend your quantum, roll Dexterity + Immobilize vs their Dexterity. Each success plus a number of automatic successes equal to your Quantum reduces their Dexterity by 1 (starting with Mega-Dexterity). If their Dexterity goes to zero, they’re immobilized. The target is stuck until they can break out, which requires them to exert an appropriate Attribute (usually Strength, but in practice whatever fits best with how you’ve decided your power manifests). The Immoblize has as much Strength, soak, and ‘health levels’ equal to your Quantum + power rating, and yes its Strength rolls over into Mega Strength for every two levels above 5 it would have. You can’t miss someone who’s fully immobilized, but they do get to add the soak of your Immobilize to their own (and presumably you’ll damage it as well as them). There’s a pair of suggested Extras, one doubles the health and the other makes the soak and health levels not protect the victim. This is a REALLY powerful save-or-die in the right hands, who cares if versions that are super hard to break out of are also good at protecting the target. Just take something like a Mental Blast that doesn’t even let them soak and you won’t even touch your own Immobilize. Or just use it to take targets out of the fight, or even just to slow down some douchebag with a bunch of Dexterity and make them never be able to hit you again. The applications are endless.
Immolate: Level 2, Quantum 2. Monster jam, you’re on fire! Maintain to surround yourself in energy that does either Quantum + (rating x 3) bashing dice or Quantum + (rating x 2) lethal dice when you touch something. This does NOT have to be in exclusion of a regular attack, you just add this effect to your regular damage. Combo with Mega-Strength and Claw and Quickness + Multitasking to become fun-Hitler and drop giant gross lethal pools on any combat encounter you see. One Extra lets you choose between two types of energy which whatever, the other is just mean because this power is specifically allowed to take Aggravated which lets you choose to just do power rating levels of Aggravated damage instead of that other chump shit. Then who cares what else you have with it besides as many extra actions as possible.
Intuition: Level 1, Quantum 1. This is an interesting power. First of all, it’s always on and costs nothing. Roll Perception + Intuition, if you succeed the Storyteller has to give you a vague warning as to the presence of danger. The more successes the more you get, but it’s never going to be as good as the superior but more spendy Premonition power we’ll see in another update. Still, Level 1 powers are super cheap so this could be valuable on someone who’s already got good Perception.
Invisibility: Level 2, Quantum 1. This lets you turn yourself invisible, like it says on the box. Roll Wits + Invisibility, add your Quantum to that. People need to beat that on an Awareness roll to detect you, unless they have a special power that lets them see you. If someone doesn’t have some reason to be specifically looking for an invisible person, they don’t even get a roll. If they succeed at the roll, they can attack but have a one die difficulty penalty. This doesn’t cloak you from other senses unless you buy the Enhanced Effect Extra, which adds one obscured sense per success. You need to be naked or only in Eufiber for this to work if you don’t have Attunement. There are a LOT of ways to counter this honestly, it’s not as strong as it could be.
Invulnerability: Level 2, Quantum 1. A permanent and focused power. Choose a form of attack, which has to be reasonably specific (i.e. fire would be okay, but not ‘energy attacks’). Each dot of this gives you 6 extra soak against those attacks, even if they’re aggravated. You can take an Extra to pick a broad category like physical attacks or energy attacks, and if you want to nope out Mega-Strength then congrats this is the way because while yes it’s five dots in a level 3 power (since you need an extra) that’s 30 soak to counter the 25 automatic successes. And they can’t even try and bullshit some way to make those punches aggravated. Still, probably not actually worth it.
We’ll be jumping to L next time, there’s no j’s or k’s.
Alright, more Aberrant Powers, let’s see how far we can get today.
Luck: Level 1, Quantum 1. This is a permanent power that makes you just generally more lucky. Once per scene you can ask to roll your Luck. You’re not guaranteed to be allowed to do it, though. Every success on the roll will give you some bonuses depending on your situation. In combat you get to add one automatic success per success to your attack or defense rolls (or split them between the two) for a turn. For a normal Ability use, you get to use your Luck successes as automatic success on a roll. Backgrounds can also benefit from Luck, in the same way. If you botch a Luck roll, though, you’re in fuck city. For a full scene you’ll be unlucky, and botch if you get no success and roll either a 1 or a 2 on any die. This is a bit limited and risky, though automatic success is always nice I guess.
Magnetic Mastery: Level 3, Quantum 4. Another day, another Mastery power with multiple techniques. This one makes you Magneto, and always lets you attempt to Block a metal attack with Dexterity + Magnetic Mastery which is kinda nice. At least this one has a few sorta unique techniques I guess? There’s also a million of these, way more than you can take even at 5 dots.
EMP: Emit an EMP to disrupt electronic equipment. Roll your Wits + Magnetic Mastery against the “Stamina” of the device, a measure of how well shielded it is. Each net success disables the device for an hour, though minor and fragile devices may simply be destroyed.
Magnetic Blast: A bashing-only Quantum Blast effect. This one’s a pretty good example of a Power that makes literally no sense and just works because you’re basically magic. At least we’re not supposed to believe you can cause a lethal effect by just shooting magnetism at someone.
Magnetic Field: You create an intense magnetic field with Wits + Magnetic Mastery, the successes will add one to the difficulty of anything involving electronic equipment. No idea why this needs to exist when you have EMP but whatever.
Magnetic Levitation: You can sorta shit fly, just like the gravity one.
Magnetic Shield: While this is active, subtract your dots in Magnetic Mastery from the successes of any attack using a metal weapon of any kind. A solid defense when it applies, but it’s a bit more limited than some of the others.
Magnetic Storm: Fling a bunch of metal shit around. Everyone in the area loses two dice form all their pools and takes twice the power rating in bashing every turn. If the magnetic objects in the area are especially unpleasant, this could do lethal.
Magnetize: Magnetically charge ferrous metal objects. They’ll project an effective Might equal to your Quantum + the successes on a Dexterity + Magnetic Mastery roll. This is stronger than it seems, you could really get some shit stuck if you do it right. Still, why are you taking any of this bullshit when you could just evaporate fools?
Magnetokinesis: Telekinesis but only on metal objects. It’s a shame literally all these magnetic mastery techniques are kinda shit.
Matter Chameleon: Level 3, Quantum 5. This power lets you take on the properties of any material you touch. Use the power, touch the material, roll Stamina + Matter Chameleon. If you get any successes, then the power works. Nothing this power gives you can exceed the material’s normal properties or three times the rating of this power. If you keep some cool shit on hand, you could keep doing crazy shit like turning into diamond. Note that you can do shit like turning into energy, which is nice. You can use this to try and assume the properties of an attack as it hits you. If you don’t have a delayed action available, you will need to spend a Willpower. Then you spend your quantum and roll Stamina + Matter Chameleon. Even one success allows you to assume the properties, and you’ll suffer one less damage from the attack per success. This is a strong power in its versatility but you need to be creative, again.
Matter Creation: Level 3, Quantum 5. This lets you just make shit out of nothingness. Raw materials are easy, just roll Wits + Matter Creation and you’ll get more the more successes you roll. If you want something complex, complexity makes you need more successes while size adds difficulty. Objects are temporary, and cost a point of permanent Willpower to make permanent which I’m not really sure about. I’d be nicer about it, honestly.
Mental Blast: Level 2, Quantum 3. Mind blast a motherfucker. Roll Intelligence + Mental Blast resisted by Willpower. Each success inflicts a level of bashing damage, no soaking this shit. If they’re out of bashing levels, this starts rolling over into lethal. If you’re a cheating cheater you ignore that the entry has a soft implication that you shouldn’t be able to add an Extra to make this Aggravated and just do it. This isn’t a terrible power but just doesn’t do a ton of damage most of the time sadly.
Mirage: Level 2, Quantum 3. This is kind of like Holo, but instead of generating an actual phenomenon you instead just make someone believe they’re seeing something. Roll Manipulation + Mirage against Willpower, more successes makes a more convincing illusion. This illusion works on multiple senses and is able to inflict damage on the target if you have achieved at least three net successes (though the damage will only be a Stun effect, not even bashing). You do have to try and be consistent with reality, though, if your illusion is obviously bullshit they’ll get a Perception vs Intelligence + Mirage roll to try and break out. A potentially very strong power, definitely better than Holo.
Molecular Manipulation: Level 3, Quantum 5. This lets you fuck around with unliving matter. You can spend a quantum to roll Perception + Molecular Manipulation to identify a substance. Let’s look at the techniques, see how lazy they are this time.
Animation: This lets you animate objects, giving them a semblance of life. Roll Manipulation + Molecular Manipulation, and animate one object of about human size per success (or larger objects with more combined successes). The objects have the Strength score you’d expect from their composition and Dexterity equal to your Wits. You can also do things like make guns shoot, for example. It’s pretty cool, go all sorceror’s apprentice.
Destruction: Destroy unliving stuff. Roll Dexterity + Molecular Manipulation to hit, then inflict Quantum + Molecular Manipulation levels of damage to the object. Materials can have soak against this, but that is definitely a lot of damage.
Molecular Alteration: Turn one type of thing into another type of thing. What you can do depends on the successes you roll. One lets you change the substance, two lets you change the size. Three lets you change the shape, and four lets you change the complexity. The changes are as temporary as those from Matter Creation, but it’s at least easier to use since you need actual matter to start with.
Second Skin: Harden the air around you to go all Greed, getting + 2 soak for each dot in the power.
Shape Alteration: This is a power just for changing the shape of existing matter. It’s way better at doing that than Molecular Alteration I suppose. Still kind of weird that they’re reduplicating this much.
Poison: Level 2, Quantum 1. You can poison and disease people with a touch. You roll Stamina + Poison and add your Quantum to the successes. You can do Stun Attack, bashing, or lethal damage, or subtract from the victim’s die pools. One success converts into a Stun Attack damage, two into a bashing level or a die reduction, and three into a lethal. Diseases are a resisted roll against Resistance, the more successes you get the worse a disease. You can spit this shit with an Extra too. I’m a fan, in principle, though this is hardly the most efficient offense.
Premonition: Level 2, Quantum 1. This is like Intuition, but stronger. You spend your quantum for the scene, and then any time you’re going to run into danger you may make a Perception + Premonition roll to detect it. The difficulty of the roll is related to how severe and direct the danger is, with both being easier to detect. You don’t get an idea what exactly the danger is, though, only that it exists and about where it will be coming from. With an extra you can also detect danger to people near you. This is a pretty sweet power in some circumstances, though it’s kind of a lot to keep track of when you’ve got it active sometimes.
Pretercognition: Level 3, Quantum 4. Predict the future and see the past. More successes let you see farther forward or back. This lets you shit all over any mystery and just in general be really annoying. Visions of the past are probably accurate but the future is not necessarily more than a likely possible outcome. There’s basically no systems for how to handle something like that either, good luck. Maybe just don’t even let anyone take this.
Psychic Shield: Level 1, Quantum 1. A permanent power that makes you harder to affect with mental powers. Just add two extra successes per dot to your roll to resist any of them, no fuss no muss. This doesn’t work on empathic shit, though, only direct mind attacks. With an Extra you can also extend it to people you’re touching. A bit limited but very strong, extra successes on a resisted action are fucking amazing.
We’re going to Q next time, which is pretty rich since there’s a lot of Quantum <x> powers.
Quantum this, Quantum that, on a very special edition of Aberrant.
Quantum Bolt: Level 2, Quantum 1. The offensive power, the one which all others compare to. When we buy it, we choose whether it does bashing or lethal damage (and just in general what sort of energy it’s supposed to be). Bashing bolts do [Quantum x 3] levels + (rating x 4) dice and lethal bolts do [Quantum x 2] + (power rating x 4). This can add up really damn fast, if you’ve got the stats to really kick things up you start doing some real work. Extras that specifically exist for this include letting you use another form of energy or letting you supercharge the bolt to do extra damage but lol if you’re going to take an extra you’re going to take Aggravated, because it essentially gives you Quantum Minimum 1 Disintegrate (the errata in the player’s handbook actually notes that if you have Quantum 5 and an Aggravated Quantum Bolt you should just use the system for Disintegrate at that point). The fact that you can take an Extra and the low Quantum minimum do make this strictly superior to the fake versions you get from the multi-technique powers, though less efficient since you do get a bunch of shit out of one power for those.
Quantum Construct: Level 3, Quantum 4, requires a dot in Force Field. This lets you create animate creatures out of a mix of quantum energies and force fields. The number of successes on a Manipulation + Quantum Construct roll tells you how large a thing you can make. You’re allowed to consume ‘excess’ successes to create multiple creatures. You’re also able to convert successes into Nova Points for your creation, five for each success. The amount of energy from the surroundings that is consumed by this makes it much harder to use twice in a scene. Something that can take hits and get some cool bonuses for a relatively small expenditure is always nice, blow up that there action economy.
Quantum Conversion: Level 1, Quantum 1. This lets you convert quantum energies into a more prosaic sort of energy. Choose a normal form of energy, and you can just sort of do it. You can inflict damage with this if you touch someone then use it, one quantum point per bashing level or two per lethal. You can convert a quantum per dot in the power per unit time. An extra lets you pick another energy type. Flavorful and you could come up with some fun uses. And I guess at least it’s cheap.
Quantum Imprint: Level 3, Quantum 4. This lets you copy someone else’s powers by touching them. Roll your Dexterity + Quantum Imprint to touch someone, for each success you get one of their powers for a maintenance duration. There are some caveats. First, your dots in that power are limited by your dots in Imprint. Second, you have to pay one more quantum point for any expenditures. Third, you only get to roll the base Attribute when using things you steal this way, not the power rating. I think you can also copy things like Abilities (which would work the same way, just the base Attribute but at least you’re ‘trained’). Presumably you can copy Mega-Attributes but I’m not sure how that works with the ‘you have to use the base Attribute only’, I’m guessing there’s errata for this. This one’s kinda weak since you use a whole turn to do it while they murder you.
Quantum Leech: Level 2, Quantum 2. This lets you steal quantum points from others. Pay a single quantum (not two like a normal level 2) and roll the normal contested Dexterity to touch. Then roll Intelligence + Quantum Leech against Willpower. If you win you get to steal Quantum + power rating quantum points from the target, which are allowed to exceed your normal pool maximum. An Extra lets you use this at a range, which is really nice since it skips the touch portion of it. It’s a good way of recovering quantum and is probably why Clone got changed, because otherwise you could spend quantum to gain more than you spent with the combo of these powers.
Quantum Regeneration: Level 2, Quantum 3. This lets you recover quantum points more quickly than usual. Spend a Willpower, and add twice your power rating to the points you recover per hour for each. You can Extra this to double the effect per point. Useful, just remember it’s got some lead time. This doesn’t mean shit in combat.
Quantum Vampire: Level 2, Quantum 3. Quantum Vampire is a more limited but in some ways more powerful version of Quantum Imprint. You choose a power, Attribute, or Trait, and you’re able to steal that from your targets temporarily. Pay, touch, roll Stamina + Quantum Vampire against Willpower. Each success is a dot of the Trait that you can steal for yourself. You can’t reduce Traits below zero. You can raise yourself into the Mega range with stolen dots, but if they weren’t Mega-Attributes themselves you need two dots per point. You can also have this as a power that steals health, doing an automatic bashing damage while giving you a new bashing health level temporarily. You can get Extras to extend the duration or steal from multiple traits. A good way to nerf someone but kind of a weak offensive move on its own, the health stealing version is a bit janky.
Sensory Shield: Level 1, Quantum 1. Protects you from sensory attacks. Each dot is just an automatic two successes against such things. A solid defense against a rare form of attack. Bleh.
Shapeshift: Level 3, Quantum 4. You know your shape? You can shift it. You roll your Stamina + Shapeshift and you can convert your successes into things like Powers and Mega-Attributes that ‘fit’ what you’re trying to turn into. You can also try and turn into another actual person, or just ‘not you’, or all sorts of other things. It can only duplicate physical powers, though. You can’t have a fake rating in a power higher than your Shapeshift, and hey it’s another power that’s ‘roll dice to be way more versatile than someone who took normal powers like a chump’ (though a more questionable one than the previous ones).
Shroud: Level 2, Quantum 1. You can create fields of darkness. Your darkness can be really damn dark, even obscuring special vision, if you spend a Willpower when you activate. Roll Dexterity + Shroud, each success subtracts one from the effective Perception of those in the area. Extras include multiple senses (so like sonar as well) and making the shroud semi-solid, slowing the movement of those in it and able to be formed into walls that can soak damage. I don’t hate this one, though it’s still pretty weak overall.
Sizemorph (Grow): Level 2, Quantum 1. You can embiggen yourself. Each dot doubles your height, reach, and mass. It also gives you two Strength and one Stamina, and adds two to your Dexterity for your run speed. The Strength and Stamina can roll over into Mega forms. You also get an extra Bruised health level for each dot. However you’re also easier to hit and if you take more damage while large than your health when normal sized and don’t do something about that you are in fuck city when you eventually shrink. A way cheaper way to get high Mega-Attributes with the caveat that they’re temporary, but that usually shouldn’t matter much. Just be careful your bigliness doesn’t bite you in the ass.
Sizemorph (Shrink): Level 2, Quantum 1. You’re able to turn tiny. The more dots and Quantum you have, the smaller you’re able to be. Normally this reduces your Strength and offensive powers, but you can take an Extra for that not to happen. Without the Extra this is kinda shit, honestly, they just don’t spell out a lot of reasons you’d want to be small.
Strobe: Level 2, Quantum 1. This is a sensory attack. The name implies it’s visual but it doesn’t have to be. You have to choose the sense when you buy this, and you can’t change it (it’s got the obligatory extra that makes it hit more than one sense). You roll Wits + Strobe and get one turn of loss of sense for each success. At five successes, it works for the whole scene. This is actually kind of nice, it doesn’t really let them defend themselves against it and blinding someone is really good if they don’t have a counter.
Stun Attack: Level 2, Quantum 1. This has come up a few times as the sort of damage that some attacks do. It’s a sub-bashing attack, roll Dexterity + Stun Attack and compare to the successes the target rolls on Stamina. The Effect portion says that this does (Quantum + successes) damage that only dazes or knocks out the target but then the systems in the description don’t really match that. What it says is that if you get at least their Stamina in net successes, the target is Dazed. If you exceed it by 2, they are knocked out. This ability is janky as hell, I’m guessing there’s errata in the player’s guide because I’m only barely sure I’m understanding this right.
Telekinesis: Level 2, Quantum 2. You can lift and move objects, more successes on a Dexterity + Telekinesis roll gives you more weight. You can also use it as an attack, dealing your successes on such a roll as bashing levels. You can ALSO use telekinesis to add your rating in dice to a projectile attack’s attack or damage roll, which is nice. I’m a fan of this as a power, and for once this one is way better than the copy ones in multi-technique powers.
Telepathy: Level 2, Quantum 3. Mind reading stuff, you can communicate, sense people, and roll to fuck with someone’s memories. You couldn’t communicate with an actual psychic though, because your powers are incompatible with theirs. Take it if you like psychic shenanigans I guess.
Teleport: Level 2, Quantum 2. You can teleport. You roll Perception + Teleport to determine how far you can go, and if you aren’t very familiar with the location you can end up in the wrong place if you fail. Accidentally teleporting into a solid object really hurts, try not to do that. Ideally don’t teleport places you’ve never been at all, just use this as a great way to escape at any time. Two extras just for this exist, one makes it safer to blind teleport (you have less increased difficulty and take less damage from ending up in an object) and another lets you teleport without taking up your action in combat which increases your dodge dice if you do so.
Temporal Manipulation: Level 3, Quantum 5. You are a crazy time wizard. This is where many of The Flash’s powers really are hidden. It’s also a multi-technique power, and MAN is it a doozy.
Internal Clock: Lol, not this one though. You just always know what time it is and how much time has passed between two events. There are uses but just lol if you took one dot of the power and just took the forever watch.
Age Alteration: You can fuck with someone’s age. You roll Manipulation + Temporal Manipulation, add or subtract up to two years per success. They can resist with Stamina. You can also use this on objects. There’s no specific guidance on how fucking with someone’s age fucks with them, you’ll need to play it by ear.
Accelerate Time: Here is the money right here. Roll Wits + Temporal Manipulation, speed up time for you or someone else. Each success, up to your Temporal Manipulation, gives you an extra full action you can only use for a physical action. Combine this with Quickness and Multitasking, make everyone hate you. Why not.
Dilate Time: This is the opposite power, you can slow time down for someone else. Each success on Intelligence + Temporal Manipulation reduces their Initiative by 1. If it falls below 1, they are counted as having a 1 but lose every other turn. So yeah also really good.
Stop Time: You can drop someone into temporal stasis if you roll baller. You roll Intelligence + Temporal Manipulation with a + 2 difficulty and if you succeed and they fail a Willpower roll to resist then boom that’s that. Someone or something in stasis can’t do anything and can’t be affected by anything.
Warp: Level 3, Quantum 3. Like teleport, but it creates a gate that others can pass through as well. You can try to use it to attack by forcibly creating a Warp right in front of someone but that’s really awkward to the point of being useless.
Weather Manipulation: Our last power is also our last multi-technique one, you can be Storm.
Alter Temperature: It’s what it says, I think we’ve seen this before.
Fog: Roll and add the successes to the difficulty penalties for anything visual in an area. Also presumably it makes you feel really damp and gross, thus this is the strongest power. Who needs five extra actions every turn.
Lightning Bolt: If you are wondering if this is basically a lethal Quantum Bolt, you got it in one. It’s not actually quite as strong, though.
Weather Alteration: You can mess with the weather, the more successes you roll the more you can change things. You can literally create natural disaster level weather with this so this is maybe technically the strongest power.
Windriding: You can fly sort of. White Wolf are really creative.
That’s all the powers, we’ll talk about Extras a bit next time because there are some generic ones.
Okay, we’ve got one more short section on powers in Aberrant, just a quick little update today on Extras.
I talked about them a bit at the start and I’ve mentioned some power-specific ones, but Extras are bonuses you add onto a Power in exchange for increasing its Level by 1. This means the Power costs more Quantum to use and more Experience/Nova Points to raise. Powers can’t currently be above Level 3, so no Level 3 power can have one and Level 2 powers can only have one. Once you’ve bought an Extra for a power, it’s part of that power for good and can’t be turned off. You can upgrade an existing power with an Extra if you like, but it costs the entire difference in cost between what your current power would cost and what the upgraded one would have cost from scratch. So let’s talk about the generic Extras, which can apply to any applicable power in theory.
Aggravated: We’re starting with one of the best ones. This takes a power that does Bashing or Lethal damage and converts it to Aggravated. The base damage is Quantum + successes, though I’m not sure how that’s supposed to apply to anything but Quantum Bolt really. It’s like this Extra wasn’t well thought through! And it wasn’t because basically anything that does damage that isn’t Quantum Bolt either has systems that aren’t compatible with that calculation or is a technique for a Level 3 that can’t take this. You should probably not let anyone take this because the actual thing anyone wants to do is take Aggravated Claws and just do aggravated damage with all their melee.
Area: Allows a power that does not already affect an area to do so. You’re pretty much always going to be using this on something like Quantum Bolt but at least it’s not goddamn broken like Aggravated so whatever. I’m sure you can find some way to break this that White Wolf didn’t consider.
Armor Piercing: A power with this Extra can ignore two levels of soak per success. It only works on powers that inflict damage and lol why would you take this when you can take Aggravated and ignore ALL their soak 99% of the time? And why does this even need to exist when soak already scales so badly compared to damage?
Burning: This makes (usually an offensive) power apply a damage over time effect equal to half the initial damage for turns equal to the power rating. This is at least a unique effect and is certainly a lot more fair than fucking Aggravated even though it’s still basically only for Quantum Bolt.
Cloud: Makes an attack in the form of a cloud that therefore hits an area in a lingering fashion. It’s a bit more indiscriminate than Area but does some extra damage overall since it lasts more than one turn.
Explosion: Makes an attack hit a sphere with dropoff damage. It can be a bigger radius than Area in theory but in practice it’s kinda shit because White Wolf kinda didn’t think any of these through.
Homing: Yay something new! A Homing attack ignores range penalties and the target’s first dodge success. It’s still probably worse than doing aggravated damage but at least it’s not a bunch of ways of doing an AoE that you can easily see which is worst.
Impervious: A defensive Extra for once! The power ignores Armor Piercing and converts incoming aggravated damage into lethal, which is pretty DAMN nice overall. Though it doesn’t make your soak be high enough to live through the highest damage totals.
Increased Duration: Your power lasts twice as long. Boring but usually pretty good, since it’s one more quantum point to get double the duration. And at least it’s applicable to things that aren’t Quantum Bolt.
Increased Range: Doubles the medium range of a power, and lets you use it at long range as far as you can see. This is actually pretty good if you pair it with Mega-Perception to make that long range super nuts. Otherwise, kinda shit.
MIRV: You can split the attack between multiple targets. You roll once against the very worst possible modifiers among the targets, then split your damage dice among them. If your power has base damage like say Quantum Bolt, then that remains unsplit. This is really friggin nasty honestly, the base damage on a QB is quite a lot so you can hit a whole bunch of fragile targets for plenty enough to frag them. Just be glad it HAS to be multiple targets otherwise this would be intensely broken.
Range: This makes a Touch ranged power work at a range. Boring but actually pretty useful probably for some.
Reduced Quantum Cost: Halve the cost, rounding down. I’m pretty sure this ALSO doesn’t actually raise the cost as normal, because it makes a Level 1 power free. There’s some nice Level 1’s that you might like to be free, I guess.
Spray/Jet: This lets a power be a, well, spray or jet instead of a single hit. You can fire continuously as a jet, and if you do you increase your accuracy by one each turn (up to 5) but halve your maximum range. If you spray, that adds 10 dice to the attack but increases the difficulty the more area you’re trying to cover.
These are honestly mostly underwhelming, most are basically specifically for Quantum Bolt and most of THOSE are underwhelming compared to the other options. Extras are probably a good thing but not implemented well at all.
We’re finally past Powers, but there’s still more Aberrant. Today we’re starting Chapter 6.
Chapter 6: Drama
Now we start getting rules for doing shit. A lot of the actions have little caveats for how they interact with Powers like Claws helping you with climbing or all the goofy ways Mega-Strength interacts with shit because its systems don’t work like any of the others. We’re skipping right past to some combat stuff.
So, we have a sidebar on weak baseline attacks vs nova defenses. Basically they suggest that if you have twice as much soak as a normal human’s damage effect then fuck them, they don’t even get to roll the pity die to attempt to damage you. That’s about right, you don’t just shoot Superman with normal bullets until you luck out and he dies.
Damage comes in the three proper White Wolf flavors, as we’ve seen, bashing, lethal, and aggravated. Aggravated damage is Lethal But Worse, it’s a fucker to soak and hard to heal. As we’ve seen in their descriptions Nova powers often have a Damage Add in addition to a damage effect. These are the automatic successes added to the effect. Soak always subtracts from them first. Novas, unlike normal humans, can soak Lethal effects.
Novas have some special combat maneuvers, let’s talk about those. So first there’s the idea of the Power Block, that is using a Power to block an attack. This works like a normal block attempt, but you get to roll Dexterity + Power Rating instead of a physical combat ability and it’s way safer since you’re not literally using your body.
The Aerial Slam is basically doing the Superhero Landing on a motherfucker. You do Strength + 3 bashing base and add two dice for each dot of Flight (or its equivalent). You take half the damage you deal, so take care. You can reduce your own damage effect as much as you’d like to mitigate this. The defender has to check to resist being knocked back, and you need to roll to stay oriented. Hypermovement also adds dice to the damage pool, one per. If you’re a big fan of Double Edge or Flame Charge then congrats, now you have it in Aberrant.
Aerial Strike is a flyby attack. You roll at +1 difficulty but add your Flight and Hypermovement to the damage effect, which is potentially pretty fucking great. Especially since you are doing it while moving and are therefore nearly impossible to hit.
The Asphyxiation Attack is using a fluid body to smother a foe. It uses the drowning rules and it’s pretty okay against targets that works on.
Hyperspeed Slam is like the Aerial Slam, but uses the Hypermovement Power and Enhanced Movement Enhancement. It’s still got recoil and the damage cap is slightly lower than that of the Aerial Slam since there’s not an extra power to apply to it, but unless your soak is crazy you don’t really WANT too much extra damage. Just use the running equivalent of the Aerial Strike…
The Hyperspeed Strike. It’s a normal strike at + 1 difficulty but you add one die to the damage effect per Hypermovement and two for having Enhanced Movement. It’s kinda really good, +1 difficulty is who cares and as many as seven extra dice that stack with your other stuff.
The Smackdown is a special physical attack that’s kind of a waste. It’s Mega-Strength only and you spend a whole turn charging up and spend a Willpower to attack at + 2 difficulty and do Strength + 6 damage with a VERY high chance to knock the enemy down too. OR. Just OR. You could blow up the action economy and punch them like five times with your Mega-Strength for WAY more damage.
We get a bunch of other stuff that works like every other White Wolf game now. If you’ve read one’s rules you’ve read ‘em all, it’s a blessing and a curse.
Back to one more update of the Aberrant core book.
We get a chapter for the Storyteller which is a bunch of fucking waffle of advice on how to make this not really like a superhero game maaaaan except it fucking is. It’s also got some advice on railroading at the end that is actually pretty okay? They note that while you shouldn’t be a shit and try and force players to play the game a way they aren’t enjoying, it’s equally your job to keep shit coherent and to put forth obstacles that are fair to what the players are trying to do. It reminds me of a pretty good article I once read, actually. The author was DM and someone in the party got everyone all hepped up to go hunt a dragon when they were really, really not prepared for that. He tried to hint to them that it was a bad idea and give them the idea that they were about to get fucked, they didn’t listen, then they finally reached the dragon and predictably got absolutely murdered because they were like level 1 and it was a grown-ass dragon. The person who suggested the hunt apparently got really upset that they got TPK’d because he expected to win every time. The point of the anecdote is the same as the good advice here, the party should not feel like victory is certain and they can just do whatever the fuck they like at all times.
The Appendix is pretty fun actually. The melee weapon rules give you minimum and maximum Strength values, so you both need certain strength to use them but equally can only hit with them so hard. There’s rules for hitting people with cars and trucks and shit, which requires Mega-Strength but is super funny. There’s some sample characters but fuck that I’ll just do some of my own eventually. Next time, though, we’re moving to the Player’s Guide.
Alright, it’s time to return to Aberrant with the Aberrant Player’s Guide!
This is a weird book actually, because it’s a nearly-random mishmash of fluff followed by some kind of rules that relate to that fluff without any real flow from one thing to the next at times.
So the first bit of fluff is a few pages on Nova codenames. There’s a company called Appellate Lexington that has an ‘official’ register of Nova names and who owns the rights to them and if you’re not paid up with them prepare for the very real likelihood some douchebag is going to want to rumble over what you call yourself. Or hell, they might want to do it anyway.
There’s then a couple pages of a Utopia document on the legal ramifications of Nova powers. It’s interesting and useful to keep in mind but also pretty common-sense. Novas that aren’t part of a law enforcement agency are allowed to use sensory powers to gather information that is then admissible in court just as private citizens are allowed to use means law enforcement isn’t. Using creepy mind shit on people is very context sensitive. You can’t blow someone up with blasts of energy and claim self defense if you’re fucking bulletproof. That sort of thing. We get a couple of pages of discussion of the fact that masked vigilantes are really pretty fascist and awful when you get down to it, always a good talk to have.
We get a couple of pages of an interview from Count Orzaiz next, on the subject of the Teragen’s view on law with respect to Novas. Basically they don’t believe the laws of humanity apply to them and instead just consider the law to be ‘whatever the fuck I think is right, that’s what I’m going to do.’ This does not universally result in them being shitgibbons but it is a philosophy very attractive to people you would never want to interact with and boy howdy is that some of them (we’ll learn more in their book).
We switch now to some words on legal issues for Novas in different parts of the world. North and Central/South America are pretty good, Europe’s okay. The Middle East is super shitty, Africa is either great or really dangerous, and Asia is either China or fine. China’s super restrictive as far as Novas go and perhaps it’s not a big surprise they also make it through the Aberrant War more intact than anyone else.
We get our first rules now, though it’s actually slightly out of order. It’s some talk on some of the organizations you might be connected with and how mechanically your Backing background with them manifests. In this case it’s Utopia, the Teragen, the Directive, and DeVries. This section isn’t much of anything, though, and I’ve got books on three of those organizations (and lol the Directive is intensely boring) so let’s just move right on.
We get some discussion of recruitment into organizations and how Novas fit into society and stuff like that, useful but again just guidance that nearly might as well be fluff even though it’s a ‘rules’ section. On page 36, we finally get some actual fucking rules for something!
That starts a page on Novas in space. We get some discussion of what sorts of power combinations are necessary to survive in space, and how travel works. They give the distances and are basically like ‘yeah so you’re not just fucking flying most likely’, then give how many successes on a Teleport or Warp you need to do the trip. They give a couple of ideas for adventures that might take you into space and overall this is a cool section.
We get some stuff on the OpNet that’s also really boring, my eyes just slide past shitty fluff at this point.
We then get four pages of discussion on Eruption. This is a pretty good section actually, it talks through really thinking about the powers you want to take and how you should lay out your Eruption to make them make sense. It also notes that essentially Novas really are infinitely powerful in theory, but the human mind is entirely incapable of actually withstanding that and essentially immediately strictly limits itself for its own preservation.
Our last section for today is going to be on historical Novas. It starts with a wild claim in some tabloid OpNet shit that Jesus was really a Nova and all kinds of farcical evidence for such. It then talks about someone who wrote some Ancient Aliens style shit about how all myths and legends and whatever have really always been talking about Novas. Both these things are obviously pretty bullshit, but from Adventure we do know that Novas have sort of always existed. They suggest you should start characters with significantly fewer Nova points than normal given the solid evidence that any Novas that did exist were much less powerful, and then detail a bunch of other eras you could theoretically set games in (and also the fact that time travel can be possible in some circumstances, which could further let you use those settings).
We’re going to start next time with a really cool blast to the future, after the blast to the past that ends this.
Let’s pick up again with the Aberrant Player’s Guide.
The next section actually lets us in on some of the Aeon Society’s secrets that aren’t horrible dirty laundry. Alongside Project Utopia exist two others, Project Tantalus and Project Pandora. Project Tantalus is literally entirely there to try and figure out what the fuck Max Mercer even is and is like three guys in a lab who hate to live. Pandora, on the other hand, is researching psionics. The current stage of psionic development is called a Psiad, and we’re going to be getting some rules for them in a sec. First, there’s some other behind the scenes shit.
Mercer set up Aeon but was never really big on what he’d consider ‘micromanaging’, which in this case would have been making sue fuckers don’t even CONSIDER some of the shit they did in his absence. He fucks off back into the timestream in the sixties, and when he arrives again in the nineties he’s not well pleased with everything that was done in those thirty years. He’s super concerned that Projects Utopia and Proteus are way the fuck off the rails and that Triton’s research is often super unethical, all rightly, but he’s also not one to burn it down and start over if he thinks things can turn around (while Utopia is of course gone as of Trinity, Proteus and Triton are still around, having been super shitty to Novas is not exactly something in ill-favor after they fuck up the planet). The only part of Aeon that he’s got full confidence in and control of the vision of is Pandora, which is backing a strong conceptual horse as know from Trinity.
Now we’ve got the section on Psiads rules wise. These were vaguely referenced in Trinity (and still sort of exist then though generally those with such potential have been made Psions instead), and we’re going to kind of cut ahead right now to learn a bit about psionics. See, Nova powers in principle work by manipulating the ‘fundamental quantum energies’ of electromagnetism, gravity, and the weak and strong nuclear forces. In the setting, the Grand Unification Theory ends up getting solved by the discovery of the fifth, subquantum force: Noetic energy.
As its name implies, subquantum energy exists at a ‘lower’ level and binds together quantum forces. It’s best to think of it as the information that defines reality. Anything that exists has a noetic ‘blueprint’ that defines everything about it and essentially tells all the molecules where and what they’re supposed to be. So let’s compare and contrast. Nova powers directly fuck with reality at a gross level, for example when they heat something up they just vibrate the shit out of its molecules and boom hot. A Psiad/Psion doing the same thing effectively goes into the variables behind the scenes and changes the temperature, causing the molecules to go ‘shit we’re supposed to be vibrating more’. It should also be noted that Nova powers and Noetic energy do not mix. Again think of it this way, when you’ve got an active Nova power and Psionic power trying to do opposite things then you’re making reality try really hard to disagree with what the Nova’s doing to it.
So how rules wise do they differ as far as Aberrant is concerned? First of all, a psiad doesn’t suffer from Taint in any way. They’re just straight immune. Psiads get to soak quantum energy related effects with their Psi score (their power score). You can’t have any Quantum related backgrounds. You don’t show up on anything that would detect quantum, because you don’t have any. You’re not affected by any of the drugs made from Nova shit that I didn’t care enough to detail in the original book because they’re boring.
So we get two treatments for making a Psiad character, one with Aberrant rules and then another that uses Trinity’s rules. So a Psiad only gets 6/4/3 Attributes, because they’re a bit more human. Instead of Quantum you have Psi. Going through the Aberrant rules, you get 12 effective ‘nova points’ to buy things from a restricted list. You can buy up to two dots of non-physical Mega-Attributes, enhancements for those Megas, Psi, and powers from a greatly restricted list.
So in the Trinity treatment, we see that the naturally triggered Psiads are more versatile than the Psions you play as in that, but also more limited in power. You get two Primary Aptitudes and can also actually have proper Secondary Aptitudes with real ratings. On the other hand, your Primaries are limited to four dots (and that requires you to be Psi 9-10), and your Secondaries are limited to three. This might SEEM like it’s way better than just getting one Primary and Secondaries limited to a small one-dot like talent BUT as we’ll see when we get to Trinity you are missing a LOT by losing access to the five-dot powers (for example all the best offensive powers are there). I prefer to be able to delete people’s limbs and shit, myself (a real Trinity power).
Okay there’s a bunch of errata and clarifications now, we talked about the one for Clone but I’m going to go through and pick out any that are actually interesting or change how something works significantly.
So, they clarify that if you burn health levels to gain Quantum you can’t be healed with Regeneration or Healing, which is fair.
The Crush enhancement for Mega-Strength is changed, now your attacks are always Lethal damage and the focus effect of the original enhancement now lets you spend Quantum and focus to add more lethal levels to your next hit. This is MUCH better than it used to be, focusing a turn just to do lethal was lame as hell when you could just buy a point of Claw instead. They also clarify now that Crush is changed that you can’t make Shockwave and Thunderclap Lethal by having Crush.
The Mega-Wits Synergy enhancement got nerfed hard, instead of adding a bonus to everyone involved it adds a pool of dice you can split around. Way weaker.
Elemental Mastery was clarified to let you pick any of the Elemental Anima techniques, which makes sense.
They literally left a power out, by the way. It was in the list but not the book. It’s called Psychic Link and lets you link up with someone for a limited but long-duration telepathic communication effect. It’s kinda okay I guess.
They move on to some variant character creation systems. The first is just to give you 15 Attribute dots, split them how you like fuck it. Another lets you just say fuck it and start with 1 in each Attribute and Willpower but with 147 Bonus Points, the equivalent of everything you ‘get’ as part of creation. They also suggest some ways you can change up the Nova end of things. The obvious one is changing up the Quantum minimum and maximum (normally 1 to 5). Lowering the maximum will lower the power levels obviously, while raising the minimum and maximum will raise it. They also suggest some ways you can change up on the powers end, like eliminating Powers, Mega-Attributes, or limiting how you can spend your Nova Points on mundane shit (for example RAW you can have human max stats for 7 NP). They also give you some suggestions as to different numbers of Nova Points you can give at creation and what they mean for your power level, and for changing up how Taint works.
You know, this Player’s Guide is going okay so far. It’s had some chunky information on variant ways to play the game and overall isn’t too bad. So before I stop for today, let’s look at the next heading:
Merits and Flaws.
Alright now it’s time for a special edition, Aberrant Player’s Guide Merits and Flaws! Because those are never a hornet’s nest of poorly thought through nonsense for powergamers!
So, Merits and Flaws. You can only take them at character creation, and they give/cost Bonus Points. That’s already a good idea, you can’t use them to buy a bunch of extra Powers or w/e, they happen before Nova Points. They DO let you have some points that you could use instead of Nova Points, though. The text suggests that you shouldn’t let people have more than ten points of Flaws, just on the grounds that the person’s probably fuckin’ around at that point without using those specific words. There’s a couple of Merits that are basically the same as Enhancements, and they don’t stack if they do. If you’ve got the Mega-Attribute in question, you just get the Enhancement for free and lose the Merit.
I’m going to talk about all of these briefly, going to stream of consciousness through the book here.
Physical Merits and Flaws:
Acute Sense: One Point Merit. Add an extra die to your Perception rolls involving one sense, compatible with Mega-Perception. This isn’t super broken compared to the cost of a full Perception point, and thus is probably pretty okay.
Ambidextrous: One Point Merit. You don’t get an off-hand penalty or a penalty for using two weapons at once. You, in fact, get an extra die if you’re dual-wielding. You need one of Dexterity 3 and Wits 3, or either Mega-Attribute to take this. It doesn’t affect your ability to take multiple actions so it’s probably okay.
Huge Size: Four Point Merit. You’re a big motherfucker. You get an extra Bruised health level and + 1 Stamina for the purposes of soaking Bashing damage. Like the last one, you either need Strength and Stamina 3 or either Mega-Attribute to take this. The extra health level is what you really get out of this, which is hard to value properly but I’m willing to say this is probably just bad honestly. You’re way more likely to just get splatted in one hit than somehow go ‘yeah I lived because I had this’.
Short: One Point Flaw. You run at half speed, and short people ain’t got no reason to live. It’s exactly the sort of Flaw people take for essentially free points and shouldn’t exist.
Speech Impediemnt: One Point Flaw. When you’re under stress people have to roll to understand what you’re saying, so just always make sure you never need to talk under stress and this is a free bonus point. Sigh.
Weak Sense: One Point Flaw. One of your senses suffers a + 2 difficulty to Perception rolls using it unless you have some kind of way to correct for it. This can apply to Nova extrasensory powers if you have them. This is the kind of bullshit that is free points until your Storyteller gets sick of you being a powergamer and murders you because you can’t smell or w/e.
Dependence: One to Seven Point Flaw. You need a certain substance or environment to survive, and if you go too long without or outside it you start taking damage. The more points this is worth, the rarer or more often you need the thing in question. This is probably okay, especially for things like modeling someone who’s become amphibian. But be careful as hell about it, don’t let some asshole take a free point by needing to drink fucking water every day like this implies could be a thing.
Mute: Two Point Flaw. You can’t speak. Literal free points if you’re just a shitkicker but you’re definitely committing to that.
One Eye: Two Point Flaw. Gives you extra difficulty to ranged attack rolls and Perception rolls. Probably more trouble than it’s worth unless you’re a close combat munchkin build.
Addiction/Compulsion: Two to Four Point Flaw. Sort of like Dependence, but you take difficulty penalties instead of damage. Two point flaws are for things that are legal, four suggests the thing isn’t so much or is otherwise a fucker to get. You’re allowed to be addicted to your powers which lol good job White Wolf you idiots.
Lame: Two to Four Point Flaw. Mike Pence has this flaw. I kid, your legs don’t work right. At two points you move at quarter speed and obviously limp, and at four you need crutches or braces. This is either really nasty or meaningless.
Deaf: Three Point Flaw. You can’t hear. You automatically fail any rolls involving hearing and you can’t have any power or enhancement that requires hearing. You are immune to anything that would require you to hear it, and can learn to read lips and/or sign with Linguistics. Could be annoying enough to actually justify the cost.
Disability: Three Point Flaw. Pick an Attribute, you suffer + 2 difficulty to rolls involving it. Picking Strength for a character who focuses on things like Quantum Blasts is basically free points, honestly.
Disfigured: Three Point Flaw. You are Appearance 0 like a Nosferatu, and can’t ever raise it. You automatically fail all rolls that rely on Appearance except Intimidation. For some Tainted characters this is definitely free points, to the extent that I wouldn’t let those fuckers get away with taking it.
Blind: Six Point Flaw. You can’t have any sight-related powers or enhancements and life in general kind of sucks for you even if you’ve got some powers that can compensate. Doing your shit through a sensory power requires you to roll your power, then act at + 5 difficulty with your successes on the sensory power negating difficulty one for one. That’s super ass, don’t be Daredevil.
Paraplegic: Six Point Flaw. You’re Professor X, you need a wheelchair and even if you have powers that can move you without it you can’t fuckin’ walk. Presumably if you’re taking this power your character concept doesn’t need you to be super mobile so this is probably kinda broken maybe. Hard to say, the penalties are nasty so maybe six bonus points aren’t really worth it?
Mental Merits and Flaws:
Concentration: One Point Merit. You don’t suffer penalties for distractions other than wounds and get a one die bonus to Meditation rolls. This is probably mostly okay, most penalties in combat aren’t going to fall under it so fine.
Internal Compass: One Point Merit. You have an excellent sense of direction and can orient yourself or retrace your steps with relatively easy rolls. Legit probably a fair and good one.
Time Sense: One Point Merit. You are good at keeping track of time and can estimate roughly what time it is and for example how long you were asleep or knocked out. You can’t take this if you have Temporal Manipulation. Also you shouldn’t take this because lol get a fucking watch.
Devotion: Two Point Merit. You pick a cause, and attempts to sway you from it get + 3 difficulty as long as you are faithful to it. If you fuck up, though, you’ll need to make amends to get the benefit back. Very questionably worth the points.
Lightning Calculator: Two Point Merit. Basically the Mathematical Savant Enhancement from Mega-Intelligence, it has the same system and you can’t have both. Bonus Points are less valuable than Nova Points I guess so meh.
Speed Reading: Two Point Merit. The Speed Reading Enhancement, in Merit form. Whatever, same as above.
High Pain Tolerance: Three Point Merit. You suffer one less wound penalty than normal. You still suffer damage as normal, though. Reasonably okay, honestly, when it comes up it’s pretty valuable. The questionable part is that you’re often going to just get splatted.
Photographic Memory: Three Point Merit. Just like the Eidetic Memory Enhancement, but it costs one more bonus point than the others that are just replicates. Okay.
Iron Will: Six Point Merit. You can spend a Willpower to just NOPE a Social Ability or mental power that’s trying to control you. That’s pretty powerful and unique, and I’m not sure it would have fit well as an Enhancement, so I like it. Might be overly expensive? Hard to say.
Costume Fetish: One Point Flaw. What the fuck do you think it is from the name. You’re a weirdo and suffer penalties if you’re ever not in some specific sort of costume. This both fits and is so goddamn nineties, I hate it.
Intolerance: One Point Flaw. You’re a huge bigot and suffer + 2 difficulty to Social rolls involving the sort of person you’re a piece of shit about. Nope.
Lusty: One Point Flaw. You’re a sexmonster. No, no, fucking no.
Overconfidence: One Point Flaw. Thank god, something less shitty. The Storyteller will always describe things to you as though they are going to be easier than they are, and you have trouble backing down from direct challenges. See, this is actually a fun one, unlike racism and sex perversion.
Trademark: One Point Flaw. You Zorro the fuck out of things. Fan of this, there IS a downside and it won’t actually fit for all characters so not everyone is going to just take it for a free point.
Pacifist: One or Four Point Flaw. At one point you have to spend a Willpower to start a fight, though you can fight back normally unless you want to use a lethal attack (which costs a Willpower as well). If you get the four point version, you need to spend Willpower to fight at all and can’t use lethal attacks period. Saying this is pretty bad would be an understatement, do not take this.
Obsession: Two Point Flaw. You need to roll Willpower to resist chasing whatever your particular rabbit is down its hole when it comes up. Lots of risk of this one either being meaningless or creepy, soft pass.
Overwhelmed: Two Point Flaw. You don’t do well in chaotic situations, and get a difficulty penalty in them. You can’t have this and Concentration. Not the worst if you’re going for a character who’s not really about combat, I mean I’d have to take this if making myself to I can’t shit on it too hard.
Phobia: Two Point Flaw. You need to roll Willpower at + 1 difficulty to stay in the presence of the thing you’re afraid of, and if you botch you nope right out of things. Don’t let people be cheap as shit by taking dumb phobias.
Vengeful: Two Point Flaw. You need to roll Willpower not to take revenge on people you’re upset at. I like this one more, it has an actual penalty but at least says something interesting about your character.
Combat Paralysis: Three Point Flaw. You roll Initiative twice each time and take the worst result. This is fine, it’s bad but not in a way that’s insurmountable. Equally, though, you would have to build around it for it to be no problem at all.
Flashbacks: Three Point Flaw. Another one of the ‘roll Willpower or freak out’ flaws, but it’s to do with a specific situation. I’m less annoyed by this one, it fits well with the idea that a lot of Novas erupted under traumatic circumstances and it’s easier and more thematic to trigger it as a Storyteller.
Low Pain Threshold: Three Point Flaw. You suffer one more level of penalty from injuries than you normally would if you’re injured, and resisting pain in general is harder for you. I’m okay with this one, it’s a real tradeoff.
Amnesia: Three to Five Point Flaw. At three points you’re an amnesiac who doesn’t know who they are. At five, you don’t even know what you can do (you literally don’t even build your character in this option, your Storyteller actually does that and keeps your sheet and you’ve just gotta sort of figure out what the hell you can do by how well you do at it, presumably though you do get with the Storyteller and tell them what you’re wanting roughly). This is at least an interesting one.
Uneducated: Five Point Flaw. You don’t have basic education. It’s more expensive to buy Intelligence-based Abilities and you’re limited to two dots in them at creation. A shaky one to exist because a lot of people building combat characters might look at it as five free points because who gives a fuck about the costs of Abilities they don’t care about.
Social Merits and Flaws:
Natural Leader: One Point Merit. Take an extra die for Leadership rolls, two if you’re leading from the front as it were.
Sexy: One Point Merit. Why White Wolf, why?
Debt: One to three Point Merit or Flaw. This can be either, either you owe a significant debt or someone owes one to you. Fine, especially since it’s a one-time thing either way.
Minority: One Point Flaw. For whatever reason a large percentage of the population are super shitty to you and you suffer difficulty penalties with social rolls as a result. Great. Just being a Nova doesn’t count, because most people like Novas.
Secret: One/Three/Five Point Flaw. More points means a secret that would cause you more trouble if revealed. You’ll need to work out with the Storyteller what the hell is up, but this one is probably okay.
Bad Vibe: One to Three Point Flaw. You suffer a + 1 difficulty to social rolls for each point of this just because you seem like a creeper. Incels all have this at + 3.
Enemy: One to Seven Point Flaw. The stronger the enemy and the more they dislike you, the more points. A one point enemy might as well be a sitcom rival, seven points will be a really spooky fucker who wants your blood. At high points this is supposed to be really dangerous, that’s fine.
Dependant: Four Point Flaw. You’ve got someone you depends on you, like a family member or loved one. This one’s okay, you get rewarded for having someone that can become a plot hook. Also punch your Storyteller if they legit fridge your loved one.
Quantum Merits and Flaws:
Eufiber Attuned: One to Three Point Merit. You can store one more point of Quantum in attuned Eufiber for each point. This is fine, it makes Eufiber even better defensively but isn’t super overpowered.
Quantum Recovery: One to Three Point Merit. Each point increases your Quantum recovery by one point per hour. Again, I’m actually okay with this, it’s not super powerful but it does help you.
Taint Resistant: Five Point Merit. Your botches only give you temporary Taint if you get at least two ones, and you can’t gain Taint from botching rolls for rapid Quantum recovery at all. This is both really good and probably fair cost wise, honestly. Five bonus points is a fucking lot.
Eufiber Rejection: Two Point Flaw. You can’t attune to Eufiber at all, which sucks for you if you don’t have the Attunement background but do have powers that would fuck your clothes up. Better have some stretchy purple shorts or something. Potential easy points, if you don’t have powers that would destroy your clothes and don’t want to take Eufiber.
I’ll stop there for today, next time we move into some more detail on backgrounds.
Let’s pick up the Aberrant Player’s Guide again!
There’s a bunch next on just clarifying the Backgrounds in use, and some more mechanical guidance on how they work. It’s not super interesting for this write-up but it’s probably really helpful.
There’s some new Abilities to cover actions that the original game only sort of did, they’re all pretty normal and boring too. They also make a point of the fact that Attribute Qualities and Ability Specialties are really good. Remember Qualities give you 10 Again if they apply, and that’s the most busted thing that can ever apply.
They’ve got a bunch more Aberrations, and as noted the game didn’t exactly need Merits and Flaws along with having a Corruption mechanic. The Physical ones are all kind of boring, though honestly Physical Aberrations are also the best in a way. Choosing them properly can let you be something really strange and cool, which is what Aberrant should really be about. The Mental ones are pretty much all new and exciting ways you can be crazy, not a fan at all but they do have a whole bunch of insensitive mechanics for mental illness so yay. The Quantum Aberrations are interesting enough I’ll actually talk about them a bit.
Black Thumb causes you to radiate low levels of taint at all times, which will cause plants and small creatures in their presence to slowly wither and die. If you stay in the same place too long, you’ll just render it lifeless and bare. Super a fan. Eufiber Rejection is the same as the Flaw from before. Bad Luck makes you botch with no successes and a 1 or 2 instead of just 1. Dumbo Syndrome causes your powers to be psychosomatically tied to a physical object, without which you are effectively a normal Baseline. If the object is permanently lost or destroyed, you lose this Aberration but gain another point of permanent Taint AND another aberration on top of the one you’d gain from that. Uncontrollable Power is a power that can sometimes just kick off without your consent. When it does, you roll it normally then add your Taint as bonus dice. Uncontrolled Transformation is even moreso on this, you have a distinct Nova and Baseline form and transform in some situation. Vulnerability makes certain attack types do more damage to you than normal. Weakness is a set of conditions where your powers don’t work. Contagious makes you like some sci-fi shit where your super immune system attacks people, counting as an aura of the Poison power. Hyde Syndrome is an even more extreme version of Uncontrolled Transformation, your two forms have completely different personalities. Jinx is the Bad Luck aberration, but it hits your allies too! Permanent Power makes one of your Self-range powers permanent, but only if that would actually be inconvenient. It’s an ‘advantage’ at times, but if it’s not also really annoying you can’t pick it. Taint Bleed is Black Thumb’s crazed older brother, making you leak hard radiation that fucks up anything that isn’t a Nova. Have fun living in a mutant swamp because you destroy the world around you!
They talk about the leeway you have in defining powers next. Basically, most of them do not have any defined visual effect or manifestation, so they suggest you take your powers together and what you want your character to be like and just fucking lean into it hard. Flight can be crazy angel wings, rainbows that shoot out your ass and propel you, whatever you want. Quantum Bolts can be fireballs, or again rainbows you shoot out your ass to destroy your foes. Literally all powers could be ass rainbows is what I’m saying. And should be. They also point out that you need to think more about the actual effect you want when picking powers, for example if you want to be able to create a sword out of nowhere to fight with that’s probably better done as Claw and not Matter Creation or Quantum Construct.
Next time we’ll be getting into some new Mega-Attribute Enhancements, and we’re also getting ominously close to the true lunacy of this book, the Level 4, 5 and 6 Powers. If you’ve ever wanted to see what the Kamehameha Wave would be like in a Storyteller game, we’re only a few updates away!
Welcome back to the Aberrant Player’s Guide, where good ideas are something we don’t dare to dream of. Today we talk about Mega-Attributes, again. So, above Quantum 5 you’re allowed to take Mega-Attributes above 5 as well. They give some rules for that when they need them, like for Mega-Strength. But most important here are the new Enhancements, several for each Attribute.
Irresistible Force: It’s really hard to avoid getting knocked down or back when hit by you. Spend Quantum, each point adds 2 to the difficulty to resist knockdowns and knockbacks for the scene. Outside combat, spend a Quantum point to add your Quantum rating to your Mega-Strength for the purposes of feats of brute force. In other words, you’re the Juggernaut.
Precision: You are actually any good at applying your force. This costs nothing, and basically whenever you inflict damage with a close combat attack after rolling your damage you can choose not to apply some of your success if you want. Great if you want to be able to just knock some fool out and not literally explode them with your Mega-Strength.
Thrower: You’re really good at throwing shit. You spend quantum to double your throw distance for each point. Things you throw don’t do any more damage, just go farther. Not amazing but at least it’s kinda cool.
Fine Manipulation: You can move your body in a microscopic scale. So, first of all you have to be able to SEE a microscopic scale either with Mega-Perception or an actual microscope. Each dot of Mega-Dexterity you have is a 10-fold improvement in precision, starting at 1/100th of a centimeter. How it actually works in mechanics is before you do something that this would apply to, roll Dexterity. Each success is another die in your pool for the thing you want to do. No spending and no downside, this is a pretty cool one.
Omnidexterity: Any limb you have, be it hand, foot, tail, animate hair, tentacle, they’re all at the absolute peak dexterity they could be at. You can pick shit up with your foot, use both hands equally well, it’s all good in the hood. It’s always on and requires no cost, but doesn’t actually make it any easier to do multiple actions. It just negates penalties that would have to do with things like dual-wielding or say shooting while crocheting with your feet.
Perfect Balance: You’re nearly impossible to trip and almost always land on your feet. There’s no real system, you just don’t get tripped up or slip or what have you unless someone is actively trying. I like all these Mega-Dex ones, they’re passives with no cost that just let you do cool shit.
Health: You’re nearly immune to things like poison and disease. Subtract your Mega-Stamina from the Virulence of things like that. You can take this again to be able to selectively turn this off, letting you still get crunk until you don’t want to be, then you instantly sober up. Definitely pay the extra for that.
Immovable Object: It’s super hard to knock you down. It’s the opposite of Irresistible in every way, pay quantum to subtract difficulty from attempts to keep your feet. They better be the Juggernaut.
Tireless: What it says on the tin. Every purchase of this adds three dice to pools for resisting fatigue. I’m not a super fan, especially when you can get many cooler Mega-Stamina Enhancements.
Fast Sense: Your senses work faster than biology would normally allow, operating on a quantum level. How this manifests is essentially that you can spend a quantum to ‘freeze’ a moment in your senses that you can then perfectly recall later. This lets you do shit like, say, very briefly see a piece of paper that you could in theory read but didn’t have time to at the time and then freeze it and read it later. This is pretty cool, I’m a fan.
Sensory Organ: I was going to joke that this lets you smell with your dick but it literally does. You spend a point of quantum, pick a sense, and pick a part of your body, and boom that part of your body now does that sense. This is so fucking weird that I can’t hate it.
That Creepy Feeling: Your spider sense is tingling. You always know when you’re being watched, and in general from where. I like it a lot, Mega-Perception is in general really fun.
Compartmentalized Mind: You can split your mind in response to trauma. Basically the idea is if someone tries to affect your mind or you’re about to get knocked out or something you split off most of your mind into a compartment and then it can try and unfuck the other part and get you back in control/awake. It’s kind of cool I guess.
Mental Prodigy: This is just two new possible choices for this, Administrative and Strategic. That’s fine, though lazy compared to the others in the book.
Self-Analysis: You’ve sectioned off part of your mind to analyze exactly how bad you’ve fucked up. This basically lets you figure out post-facto where you’ve drawn shitty conclusions after failing rolls. It’s okay, kind of fun at least.
Group Awareness: You can sense how a crowd is behaving. You can use this both to read crowds and to improve your ability to manipulate them, it’s pretty okay and goes well with the Mega-Socials.
Human Nature: This lets you try and sense the Nature of others. It’s hard to use on Novas with high Taint or a thing called Chyrsalis we won’t be hearing about until the Teragen book, because those things make you less human and thus harder to read.
Redirection: You’re good at changing your course of action, and suffer no penalties when you cancel an action. You also suffer half of the normal penalties for surprise. This is a pretty solid passive, works for me.
Almost Live: Your Mega-Appearance works in recordings. Honestly this isn’t so much a thing for PCs as something that comes up for certain NPCs (there is a specific one we’ll hear about in the Teragen book, in fact).
Blind Bewitchment: Your Mega-Appearance effects work through an additional sense, like speech or smell. Sure, why not, makes Mega-Appearance WAY better honestly.
Mirroring: This causes everyone around you to mirror your emotions. Spend a quantum, start acting the way you want others to act, there’s no real way for this to be resisted. Quite like this one.
Conflicting Accounts: This lets you literally make a group of listeners hear multiple different things that appeal to different people when you’re trying to manipulate them. So for example, you could be in court and both tell the truth to the ‘court’ part of the court like the lawyers and judge while also giving the jury false information. This is cool as hell.
Creeping Paranoia: This is basically a whole fucking page of system first of all. You spend a quantum while talking with someone and they’ll take something you say as a weird veiled threat that they start to obsess over, eventually losing sleep and just in general freaking out. It’s strong and mean and can literally drive people to a psychotic break.
Overwhelming Question: Spend a quantum for a scene, make eye contact with someone and ask a question. If you succeed at a contested roll against their Willpower they can do nothing but answer the question until you break concentration. This is apparently not fun at all either. Solid overall.
Center of Attention: You are really good at getting people’s attention. You roll Charisma and spend a point, each success adds a difficulty to any attempt to not pay attention to you. This doesn’t make you any more persuasive than normal, it just means you have a captive audience.
Inspiration: You’re able to infect people with some of your persuasiveness after you convince them of something. Send a point and roll Charisma, your targets gets a one die bonus for an hour for each success when trying to convince others of the same thing you just convinced them. You can also swap duration into effect if you want, for a briefer but more powerful effect.
Perfect Guest: This gives you spidey-sense for making social mistakes. It’s pretty neat actually, I like the idea.
Okay, that’s those. Next time we’ll talk about the new Extras and techniques and such, then we’ll start the High Quantum Powers.
More Aberrant Player’s Guide, this time with some new Extras and Techniques and such.
We start by discussing special effects for powers, minor alterations that don’t fall under the aegis of an Extra. It’s mostly how your powers cosmetically manifest, which again is a thing you should think about and lean hard into.
We’re going to kind of skip the new Extras here, they’re not generally interesting enough to talk about. Still, if there’s a cool one I’ll cover it.
Body Modification: They give three new ones. One gives you weird dispersed organ structures that reduce wound penalties and prevent you taking extra damage from targeted attacks. The second gives you a literal second brain, which you divide your Intelligence stats between. It has to remain in your body at all times, though, so you can’t Homunculus it off and store the second one somewhere (meaning Homunculus is still 100% useless). The last new one is Subdermal Senses, which covers one or more of your sensory organs with a layer of skin. It’s harder to use those senses but also harder for you to suffer penalties to them other than the one for this power. It also makes you look creepy as FUCK.
Cyberkinesis: A bunch of new techniques. Initialize does a factory reset on a computer, fine. Opening is a Cyberkinetic backdoor technique, it leaves behind a quantum program that makes the computer way harder to secure. This is pretty solid, I like it. Tag lets you mark a computer to make it easier to gain access to it again, a further sort of backdoor technique. The next three move up into high Quantum effects, you need 6 Quantum to take any of them. Animation lets you make computers or computer-controlled machines move in any way they are normally able to. So for example you could take over a computer-controlled car. It can’t make things that don’t move normally move, though. Possession lets you straight up enter the network like this is a cyberpunk story and do all kinds of super class-A hacker shit, big fan. Synchronization essentially lets you mass-hack computers, fine. Animation and Synchronization probably don’t need to be Quantum 6 honestly, I don’t see how they’re that strong.
Elemental Mastery: Animation essentially lets you create Elementals, with a system like the similar Molecular Manipulation technique. Very cool, like the idea of this one a lot. Attraction lets you make separate pieces of the element draw together, converging at a point you designate. They don’t give a fuck about physics while doing this, they just do it. Cool if kind of hard to use for much. Excitation lets you heat or cool the element, and this can make it hot or cold enough to actually do damage which makes this pretty useful. Phase Change lets you do exactly what it sounds like, turn the element into a different phase. This even works on things that don’t have other phases, you can turn things like shadow and light into weird brittle solids and viscous liquids because sure why not. Super love this. Plasma Conversion turns the volume into pure plasma, which is very damaging as you’d expect. They also remember that plasmas are strongly magnetic, which is legit nice.
Entropic Control: This power gets WAY better frankly in the APG, lots of interesting new techniques. Bioentropic Vortex lets you suck up entropy from people or objects near you into yourself, taking on their damage in their stead. If you’ve got a really solid way to heal yourself this can let you be a weird sort of healer that can also do things like fix machines, love it. Entropic Front lets you create a high and low entropy zone in an area. In the high entropy zone everything is more prone to breaking down and going to shit, while the opposite is the case in the low zone. This is minor but fine. Point of Failure is super cool, you pick out a specific part of an inanimate object and designate that as the point where it will fail when next it does. This doesn’t change WHEN the failure will happen, just sets HOW it will happen. Still, this lets you set up some fun shit. Serial Order lets you affect when in a series of similar events a particular outcome will take place, which is great for cheating in a casino for example. At Quantum 6 we can take two new techniques. The first is Failure, which allows you to specify a kind of failure a machine can suffer and boom EVERY machine in a radius suffers it. Stability is a power that reinforces the present state of things in an area (also has an Instability variant with the opposite effect). You subtract your successes from any attempt to change things in the area. This has some really nasty potential uses because while it’s hard to GET sick in the area, it’s also hard to treat someone who was ill when it started. There’s also two techniques at Quantum 7. Point of Attraction causes a group of people to either try and gather at a specified point, or causes that group to adopt a one-sentence concept. Synchronization makes objects and people just naturally ‘flow’ in a way that they won’t collide (or the opposite). It’s pretty cool I guess.
Information Manipulation: A new Level 3, Quantum 5 power. This lets you manipulate the information in objects, the environment, and people. Let’s look at its techniques. Coherence lets you extract a message from something that is otherwise distorted. Disinformation lets you alter the meaning of a target’s communication. You don’t get to set what people will hear specifically, just in general. Information Void lets you turn someone’s communication into gibberish, cool. Steganography lets you hide a message inside something, just like you’d expect from the name. Translation lets you do a bit more than its name suggests, it doesn’t just let you understand something in a language you don’t know. It lets you experience the intent of a communication or the meaning of an object, which is potentially much more relevant information than just the absolute textbook translation of words. Transposition swaps the information content of two targets. So for example, if you target two people the information one tries to convey will come out of the other. Two books will swap meaning. These are all weird cool powers and I like them a lot
Momentum Control: A new level 3, Quantum 4 power that lets you interact with the speed of objects. Momentum Rotation lets you change the direction of objects while leaving their speed an orientation intact. If you’ve got Mega-Wits you can use this to do things like dodge collisions. Momentum Swap lets you, well, swap the momentum of two objects. Probably. They left out the system because lol, so you have to try and divine it from the example they give or look for errata for the book that gave you errata for the original game. Momentum Transformation lets you change a target’s speed and acceleration. I feel like this power needs more techniques though it’s hard to say what they’d be.
Okay, now the new general Extras.
Merged: This lets you combine your power with that of another nova with the same power (they don’t need Merged). You both roll at increased difficulty but if you succeed you pool your successes for one joint monster result.
Reflexive: This lets you set a power to be able to activate on its own under a condition. Generally this is going to be for a defensive power, and the advantage is that this won’t tie up an action. If you take this once, the power is a bit harder to use on purpose than normal. You can take a second level to negate that, though.
Mastery: This is a special Extra for Novas above Quantum 5. It lets you GREATLY improve the power in question. Mastery 1 makes a level 1 power cost no Quantum at all while halving the cost of a level 2 or 3, greatly improves the range and potential area of a power, doubles the effect, and greatly enhances the duration (notably turning Concentration into Maintenance). Mastery 2 makes both level 1 and 2 power free, and quarters the cost of a level 3. The range and area become crazy large, the effect is increased by a factor of five, and the duration again increases. Mastery 3 makes any of the level 1-3 powers free, and also halves the cost of a level 4 or 5 power. The range and area become insane, the effect increases twenty-fold, and the duration becomes nutso. Note that Mastery 1 requires Quantum 6, 2 requires 8, and 3 requires 10.
Speaking of level 4+ powers, that’s next time.