Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fate of the Nova Age: Conspiracies, Intrigues, and Secret Histories


A while ago I did a hack of Aeon Trinity for Fate Core. The hack was sufficient for my needs at the time and focused on what I was interested in within that setting. Namely it was a mix up of Star Wars, Babylon 5, and the Legion of Superheroes. Now I wish to take a crack at another game setting, one within the very same world of Aeon Trinity, Aberrant.

Fate Of Aeon Trinity
Part 1: Initial Idea and Pitch(whith some stuff about another project)
Part 2: Psi Skills
Part 3: Timeline Alterations and Stunts
Part 4: Aberrants
Part 5: Qin and Biotech
Part 6: Chromatics
Part 7: Daredevils
Part 8: Coalition
Part 9: Ship Combat

Aberrant was set about a hundred years prior to Aeon Trinity. It focused as much on Aberrants(or Novas as they are called) as Trinity focused on Psions. Basically it was attempting to be a superhero game, without being a superhero game. I really loved many parts of the setting, and I despised other parts. So with all that in mind I started a hack for Wild Talents. However that came to nothing, for a few reasons, mostly because I kept too close to the original material. So I am going to hack it again, this time for Fate Core. Hopefully something interesting will come forth.

Aberrant at its core was not a superhero game. It was a Conspiracy, Intrigue, and Secret History game. This was not directly spelled out in the setting or rules. In fact there was little spelled out in the fiction or rules in regards to how one is supposed to play a group of Aberrants. It always made running the game a bit tricky for me. The players would come in with vastly different ideas as to what the game was supposed to be about. I say that it is about Intrigue, Mystery and Secret history because of how the adventures and adventure hooks were laid out. Most were about those things to one extent or another. In fact most were about conspiracies. So really it is a conspiracy game, but those other two have a fairly large share of adventure material, so I keep those as well. I also keep them as I love Planetary by Warren Ellis, and Aberrant is a game where you play Planetary.  It is true. The game focuses around secret cabals of powerful individuals who control the world, who rewrite history to fit their worldview. It is about exposing those dark cabals to the light and changing things. You could play a game of it like the JLA, the Avengers, Storm Watch, or the Authority as well, but that is for a different day.

On to the secret history of the world and the powers that control it.

So for a secret history to work we need both secrets and history. The history is pretty well worked out in my head. Basically I would like to cut out useful chunks of history and then color them with Aeon Continuum goodness. So take your favorite piece of history and add in some weirdness and then set the remnants of that weirdness in the current world of Aberrant and let the players go investigate.

Secrets
There are a lot of things that can be used as secrets to go into your secret history. There are aliens, secret societies, lost worlds, and singular events of great importance or interest.

Aliens
Within the Trinity universe there are several Alien species. Some are Appropriate for this and some would take some explaining to get them to earth.
Doyen
Masters of Biotechnology, Psi, and the Sub-quantum universe the Doyen are in a never ending fight with the Zeps. The Doyen prefer to use proxies and lateral tactics rather than directly fight. They prefer it if their enemies never even know they exist. They are non-corporeal entities that require a host to utilize much of their psychic power. There current favorites are the Qin. They have crafted the Qin to be their greatest weapons against the Zeps. Doyen crafted ships could have crashed on earth at any time period, or the Doyen could have meddled with human genetics at one time or another, leading to psychic phenomena and such during any of the time frames. If they did have a ship crash it could have had a working Prometheus Chamber. Perhaps their ships require intelligent biological beings to act as the various parts of the ship. The gunner would be a master telekinetic, the engineer would be a teleporter, the comms officer would be a telepath, and so on. Maybe the ship just wants to go home and it begins "recruiting" earthlings to be those parts it needs. They get phenomenal Psychic powers, but are now psychically part of the ships crew.
Zeps
Masters of Hard Tech, individual evolution, and the Quantum universe the Zeps are the polar opposite of the Doyen. They are extremophiles and dwell in gas giants. They have the ability to trigger and control beneficial mutation. Given enough information and enough time, they can develop any Aberrant super power. They have been fighting a war with the Doyen forever. They are physically imposing and each is a unique looking creature. A crashed Zep ship could be a fantastic set up, perhaps deep in the Mariana Trench...or something. Perhaps they meddled with human genetics at some point. Maybe they are the reason humans can even become Novas. Perhaps a group of Zeps is planning on using humanity as soldiers in their never-ending war with the Doyen. Maybe they are even walking among us, using their strange abilities to alter their shape to appear as human. Are they able to breed with humans? Is this where Novas come from? Or maybe they are studying the Nova phenomenon and trying to figure out how a bunch of monkeys can do what the Zeps can do.
Qin
The Qin are the subject species of the Doyen. they worship the Doyen like gods. Any plot involving the Doyen could easily involve the Qin as well. They are telepathic slugs who use biotech to make armored suits to use. They are masters of large and small unit tactics, as they use there telepathy to be a type of Gestalt entity during a fight. All of their minds are one. On a one on one basis they can read minds and communicate with any mind. This makes them dangerous, and useful tools for the doyen.
Coalition
A race that gains power through forcible taking of genetic material and mineral resources of planets. They travel in massive generation ships at slower than light speeds. they are the locusts of the universe. their could be a crashed ship, or one of the secret cabals ruling the world could be in cahoots with them. Perhaps sabotaging earths defenses and space programs. Perhaps they have an outpost on one of the moons of saturn or some such. They make a great black hat for the series. They could also work as a ticking clock. You must discover their plot and defeat it, before they arrive and wipe out mankind.

Lost Worlds
The Aeon Continuum has quite a few lost worlds and wondrous secret places. Discovery of them could be the focus of a session or a whole Campaign.

Ape City
Sometime ago(how far back will alter the narrative a bit) something genetically altered a few thousand Gorillas in africa. Whoever or whatever did this increased their intelligence to equal(maybe even exceed) the minds of Men. These Gorillas forged a society that quickly split. One Society Hated the outside world of Man and went into exile. they are Xenophobic and Decadent. They have great sciences and technologies and are hidden from the eyes of man by these technologies. The other society of Apes was peaceful and outgoing, they too developed great sciences and technologies, but they sought to become part of the larger world. they knew that mankind was not ready to meet them and they wait for the day they can reveal themselves to the world. Possible plots here involve the heroes finding the ruins of one(or both) of the cultures and piecing together what happened. Perhaps there is a war going on between the two societies and the heroes stumble into it. Maybe they run across a gorilla fugitive from the Xenophobic Apes and they must decide what to do about it.

Aspects: Secret Societies of Apes
Aspects: Are you a good Ape, or a bad Ape?

Hollow Earth
Beneath the earth there are ancient tunnels that lead to the center of the earth. there the two intelligent races fight for supremacy over a primal paradise. Great prehistoric beasts walk the land and crystals power an artificial sun at the heart f the earth. This is a campaign set piece all on its own. You could run a one shot here, but the reality is, this would probably work best as the focus for a whole campaign. What are these crystals? Can they be harvested? Replicated? Should they? What of the various people who dwell in the land, what should be done about them? What other secrets are down here? And what are these massive airships doing in these great caverns? There are a few crazy newspaper clippings that can be found about some Baron attacking New York with hot air balloons. There is an old Journal by a man known as Zorbo. Most of it is ranting about the environment and the need to leave the earth, but in it are also clues to finding the hidden paths to the Hollow Earth.

Aspect: Ancient Worlds Beneath the Ground
Aspect: Crystal Powered Artificial Suns

Ruins of Old Mars
Mars was never inhabited. the first NASA sponsored Novas proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt. There is nothing more than microbes living on the planet, now or in the past. There are no bones. there are no plants. there are no animals. there never were...and yet there are the ruins. On Mars there are three cities, designed for beings completely dissimilar from man. All the dating methods devised shows them to be no more than a hundred years old, yet there is no life in them. there are no signs of life in them. By all accounts, not one living thing ever existed within the cities. It is as if a bunch of aliens built three cities and left without ever using them. Needless to say, even knowing about the ruins is a secret of the highest order. This would be used for a space going game, if you were using the Daedalus Group or something of the like. Who made the ruins? for what purpose? why did the build a city and not live there? Where did they come from? Will they come back?

Aspect: Evidence of Life among the Lifeless rocks
Aspect: Buried secrets of the Builders

The Forbidden Plateau
There exists a plateau in south america that no satellite can see. You cannot land a plane or helicopter on it. Once on it you cannot leave. There exist many land routes to it, each is dangerous and deadly and impossible to find again once you have gotten out. The Plateau is a hole in time. It is linked to several eras and collects the detritus of the time stream. Ancient Lizard-men from 65 million years ago are fighting a war with the forces of the Ninth Legion. Cave men and dinosaurs, Mayans and people from the future, All have fallen into the trap of the Plateau. the number of people who have escaped it with their lives can be counted on one hand. Now that Novas exist, perhaps the plateau can be understood and explored. Maybe even it could be used to some effect or another. This is basically the land of the lost meets the lost world meets the savage land, using some sort of Telluric/quantum/sub-quantum effect.

Aspect: A Tear in Time and Space
Aspect: Everything is a threat

Monster Island
Back in the fifties something happened in the Pacific ocean. Either some natural Phenomenon occurred or a device of some sort was set off. the result of this was an infusion of Giant monsters throughout the Pacific. It took a transnational naval force fifteen years to coral the monsters onto a single uninhabited island in the south pacific. the monsters appear to be nearly invulnerable and immortal. they do not breed and they do not die. the scientists and soldiers who have been monitoring the Island for the last several decades are constantly coming up with new ways to contain the beasts. If one got loose in a major metropolitan area there is no telling how great the destruction would be. Who or what Caused these creatures? If it was natural, why did it happen then and not since or prior? If it was man made, why hasn't it been used, or threatened to be used since? What can stop these creature should they escape?

Aspect: Impossible Beasts of utter destruction
Aspect: Catastrophic House of Cards

Here is how I see this working. First comes the Event. This is something that happens in the world that is strange and worthy of investigating. It could be Sliders death, the Sao Paolo bombing, the formation of the Terragen, or anything really. You start out an investigation into an event. Then you add in one of the Agencies or Aliens. Then you put that on Frappe, and strain all the goodness out. Hell you could take several events and put them together with several of the aliens or Agencies. the Lost Worlds do not have to be used, I see them more as potential events or campaign hooks.

This is what I have so far. Next post will be on the various organizations and secret societies as well as character creation.

Part 2: Reworking the Character Creation rules
Part 3: Gear Rues and Campaign Frameworks
Part 4: Actual Play of the game