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How Inevitable is the Aberrant War?

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  • How Inevitable is the Aberrant War?

    We know from the Aeon Trinity setting the impact of the Aberrant War... and even some of the major events that lead to it (and that were a part of it)... but does that mean that it is an inevitable outcome of the rise of Novas? It is possible that players of Novas in an Aberrant Setting could avert some of these events and change what happened... but has anyone allowed such changes to alter the future enough to prevent the Aberrant War, or merely change the events that eventually lead to it?

    ​How inevitable is the Aberrant War in your games? Can it be prevented (thus altering what Aeon would look like)... or will it merely take a different appearance that leads to the same result (thus preserving the Aeon timeline to some extent... different events, but same outcome)?


    There are three types of people in the world... those who can count and those who can't.
    I reject your reality and substitute my own!

  • #2
    It's an interesting "What if" question.

    If I understand the direction that the upcoming Continuum direction, there may be multiple timelines at play? So this is just my opinion based on the previous iteration of the Trinity timeline.

    The first problem is knowing that the war is coming. If the characters don't see it coming, it will be hard for the players to prevent. However, there's lots of tools that you can use for this. Novas are very smart and might be able to predict what's coming a la Ozymandias from Watchmen. It's also possible that one of them has actual precognitive abilities. A third option is a time traveller from the future or an instance of time travel that brings them temporarily to the future.

    Once they have an idea what's coming, a good way to handle this is to identify major events that if they can change, the future will change.

    a major problem to overcome from a standard background is that there are some very powerful novas that want this conflict with humanity. IIRC, Divis Mal is one of them and he's ridiculously powerful. You'll need to change his motivations or figure out a way for the players to deal with him. This isn't counting groups like Terrigen with crazy, powerful Novas that want nothing more than the war to happen.

    Generally, my opinion is that the Aberrant War is inevitable. Power corrupts and the Novas have sooo much power that it will be difficult to avoid in the best of circumstances. Add into that the negative effects of Taint and it's all but impossible.

    You could try for a time-travel based series where the players keep trying to push back the start of the Aberrant War while they figure out how to prevent it. Kind of like what they did with the later Terminator movies (as I understand; I didn't watch them).

    In the end, it's your campaign and if you want to make preventing the Aberrant War a thing that can happen, go for it!

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    • #3
      I think the most basic thing is that A) Not present Utopia as closet bad guys and B) Not treat Divis Mal like he's the hottest thing to hit planet Earth since the invention of the sun so that someone (like say the PCs) can prove to him that he's actually wrong about one or more of his presumptions.

      If, for example, the PCs end up helping Max Mercer return Aeon to it's proper purpose, develop a cure for taint, and/or convince Mal and his gang of ubermench to peacefully leave the planet and go found their own colony on the other side of the galaxy, then yes, it's probably doable. IMO, at least.


      What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
      Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

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      • #4
        Likely, inevitable. For multiple reasons.

        Arguments Against the Abberants by Humans
        People resent those in power. It's just a natural function of psychology. That those that rise the highest tend to draw people who don't like them being there because:
        a) I didn't vote for them and I disagree with their beliefs. And given some of the decidedly....creepy beliefs of some Abberants, this is going to raise alarms on both sides
        b) They are different. That's it. No amount of talking is going to work. Get over it already.
        c) They are monsters because they are different. Given the relative inhumanity of some of Dival Mal's crowd and their predilections, this is not really a surprise.
        d) They are a threat to the stability of society. Kinda general theme of the game in general really. And most people do not like instability in society. Given they are usually just trying to get through the day and don't have time for other peoples bullshit, this should surprise no one. But Abberants cannot be ignored. They are simply too powerful. And some of them have made some pretty ugly noises of late.
        e) Look what they've done! If the Church of the Archangel Michael Adventure went badly...Then yeah.


        Arguments Against the Baselines by Novas
        a) I'm not human, but so what?: I've literally a new life form capable of wondrous things if I put my mind to it. Why should I be held back by you?
        b) I'm not part of your dopey ideological cult: Let's be honest, religion & politics are merely ideological arguments about belief systems. And when you are someone who exists outside of those systems or cares nothing for said belief systems as reality itself is yours to play with and you do have better things to do than pay attention to such ephemeral nonsense. Now why are you pointing weapons at me? *Sigh* VRAK! *watches the ashes fall*.
        c) Humans are a bag of self-absorbed raging dicks: I have better things to do that listen to you whinge on about doing things 'For the good of Humanity' when you kill each other over the most minor things. Like clothing. or food. Or because someone looked at you funny. Or you wanted to be entertained in your power fantasies to make yourself feel better. Or your general ideology
        d) Humans hate and fear us: mostly tied into the above, but the arachnid reaction get's ugly when people start coming at you in droves

        Last edited by TheWanderingJewels; 09-17-2017, 10:42 AM.

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        • #5
          I think we are missing the point.

          ​From our position as outside observers, we already are likely to know key events that lead to the Aberrant War (as Aeon is likely to present these things as history)... as well as some that happened during it. These events are something that players of Novas during the Aberrant Era will possibly encounter... and while they (they characters) may not know the outcome as presented in the Aeon timeline... they could still end up changing things.

          ​The real question is as the Game Master/Storyteller... do you make it possible for these events to be changed... or nearly impossible for the outcome to be averted? If you allow the events to be changed... does the timeline create an alternative cause for what was supposed to happen, thus preserving the Aeon timeline... or is the timeline truly altered?

          ​For example... in 1st Ed, we know that there was a Nova/Aberrant who's death caused much of North America's soil to be incapable of growing the modified grains that had become a staple for the United States and beyond. This lead to food shortages that eventually would pave the way for the US Military to take control and establish some semblance of order... even subjugating much of Canada and Mexico in the process. This is arguably a major event that shaped North America into what we see in the Aeon Era... more or less a military dictatorship.

          ​Now... we could make his death and the effects it has nearly impossible to prevent... but players have an uncanny habit of doing what we believe to be impossible... and it is even possible that whatever you plan to do that would kill this Nova... they will find a way to prevent (even sacrificing their character's life to do). So... they prevent his death... and everything that should have happened following is now at risk. You have two choices here... have something else cause the devastation (another Nova... or maybe some superweapon the Baselines believe will give them an edge against Novas/Aberrants)... or let the change stand and decide how it impacts the future as described with Aeon (maybe the Military finds another reason to take control other than preventing food riots).

          ​It is unlikely that any one event will lead to or prevent the Aberrant War... but if players alter enough of these events (knowingly or not)... it could change how events unfold for Aeon. Preventing the food shortages in North America may not prevent the Aberrant War... but it could change how it looks afterwards. How this plays out could be an interesting game in its own right... but the question remains... do you preserve the timeline as presented in the games as much as possible (and if players alter something, you come up with a different way for the event to happen to keep things they way they should be) or do you allow the changes to alter what happens in the future... big and small?

          ​This isn't about the characters in the setting so much as it is about preserving the settings as presented. How much do you let players change the course of history (even historic events that have yet to happen)?
          Last edited by Shadowstripe; 09-17-2017, 02:46 AM.


          There are three types of people in the world... those who can count and those who can't.
          I reject your reality and substitute my own!

          Comment


          • #6
            If you are playing Aberrant than yes, you let them change it six ways from Sunday if they can.
            ​If later you decide to play Trinity in the future you just drop the fallout of the other game, saying this is a different universe where those characters didn't exist.
            ​If, on the other hand, you and your players are up to it you can totally rewrite the setting based upon their Aberrant characters' actions.

            ​You can, if you insist, force things to happen in such a way to keep the timeline as published but doing so may ruin the fun for the players, replacing it with pointless frustration. Little ruins a game as thoroughly as feeling railroaded to a predetermined ending.

            Comment


            • #7
              Many roads can lead to the same destination... and a clever Storyteller knows how to guide players along those roads even when they insist on taking a detour (without forcing them down a single path).

              ​In the example I provided above, it is possible that the death of this particular Nova wasn't the cause for the famine that followed which allowed the US Military to eventually take control of North America. Perhaps there was a hidden faction that wanted it to appear that this Nova was responsible so that they could undermine the US Government's response to this event and ensure that the Military has the reason it needs to take control. Or maybe some other incident happens that causes a problem just as bad as a famine that also sees the Military rise to a leadership role when others prove ineffective... say a poisoning of the water supply of North America... or even the intentional triggering of the Yellowstone Super Volcano to burry the continent in volcanic ash.

              ​​Any number of incidents could arise after this event (or even be going on behind the scenes) that would allow the world of Aeon to still come about more or less as presented. Many roads... same destination, but no railroading the players (save for getting them into these events to some capacity).

              ​But that is only one possibility... where while the players can cause ripples in the river of time, but not actually change its course significantly to prevent it from arriving at the destination it was heading to. The other possibility is that even a small change in an event can have dramatic changes on everything that follows... where preventing the death of this one Nova prevents the famine that allows the US Military to take control over North America... creating a dramatically different North America in the Aeon setting. How different depends on how much of an impact you want this to have... and thus the crux of my original post.

              ​Just how inevitable would you make the Aberrant War?


              There are three types of people in the world... those who can count and those who can't.
              I reject your reality and substitute my own!

              Comment


              • #8
                If your plan is to play during the war then it is inevitable, if you are only playing during the build up towards the war with its specter hovering in the background then the last thing you want is for your players to have the promise of ultimate failure in their heads.
                That would be a real kill joy.

                ​You as the ST can decide that the war is inevitable, just don't push that as a failure to the players. The Aberrant dies in America leading to martial law, meanwhile the players are busy dealing with something equally important somewhere else.
                ​Don't feed them the idea that they are supposed to prevent the war if that is impossible, instead give them another goal that they can achieve that is threatened by the looming war. For example have their story be about saving as many as possible and relocating to a colony world, or setting the stage for Japan to hide Novas within its borders.
                Have them fight battles they can win that will have a positive effect, just not on the whole world.

                You can play out several WWII stories of heroism and victory without having to kill Hitler or end the war.

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                • #9
                  I forget where I saw it, but I remember a developer being asked what will happen when the real world and the corresponding “modern day Talents” setting catches up to the date that Aberrant gives for the trigger that starts the Nova Age. His answer was that the Continuum that multiple possible timelines, the future is not set, and the best way to illustrate that the future can change is to let the future change. In other words, when the Talents setting catches up to the start of the Nova Age, it will just keep barreling forward without the Nova Age starting.

                  So how inevitable is [insert future development here]? Not very. If the folks developing the games aren't particularly concerned with making key events inevitable, why should anyone else?


                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 2ptTakrill View Post
                    If your plan is to play during the war then it is inevitable, if you are only playing during the build up towards the war with its specter hovering in the background then the last thing you want is for your players to have the promise of ultimate failure in their heads.
                    That would be a real kill joy.

                    ​You as the ST can decide that the war is inevitable, just don't push that as a failure to the players. The Aberrant dies in America leading to martial law, meanwhile the players are busy dealing with something equally important somewhere else.
                    ​Don't feed them the idea that they are supposed to prevent the war if that is impossible, instead give them another goal that they can achieve that is threatened by the looming war. For example have their story be about saving as many as possible and relocating to a colony world, or setting the stage for Japan to hide Novas within its borders.
                    Have them fight battles they can win that will have a positive effect, just not on the whole world.

                    You can play out several WWII stories of heroism and victory without having to kill Hitler or end the war.
                    ​The players are arguable the most important characters in the game. They are the Justice League and the Avengers of your games... their successes and failures will change the world... for better or worse. The Aberrant War may not be their fault directly... but they may be the only ones who could prevent it.

                    ​How many times has the Earth's fate rested in the hands of a small group of heroes in comics? How many times would it have been destroyed if some little action during those events happened just a little differently? One just has to read a few issues of the "What If?" or "Elseworlds" titles to see just how different the timelines of these comic universes could have been.

                    ​The Aberrant War could be much like Judgement Day in the Terminator movies... something that might be delayed (even indefinitely) but never completely avoided. So long as humanity has the potential to become Novas... the war will forever be a potential threat. Perhaps the players can't completely prevent the War... merely delay it for as long as they can... or maybe they do find a better solution than the one the Chinese give to end it.

                    ​Or maybe you just don't want to put the players in the position where they have to determine the fate of Earth... though that does seem to defeat the point of playing a Nova in the first place (someone with the power to change the world as they see fit choosing to live an ordinary life... how long does that ever last?). In the end, it will be up to the players to decide whether they try to change the future... and the Storyteller to decide what impact their actions have on that future.


                    There are three types of people in the world... those who can count and those who can't.
                    I reject your reality and substitute my own!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      An actual Aberrant War only seems inevitable if you accept the canon storyline as written (and relegate your PCs to mid-range side characters as that overplot dictates).
                      If you really want to avoid an Aberrant War you need only delete Adventure! as the history of the world. No Adventure = no Aeon, no Aeon = no Divis Mal or Mercer, those two gone = no Utopia/Proteus or "Malicious" Teragen, with those two and their idiotic ploys gone emphasis falls to nationalism which evens out to a new business as usual scenario as the leading nations just replace their old weapons with new ones.
                      Another way to look at it; there might never be an Aberrant War per se, but some awful circumstance that leads to a worldwide resolution similar to the Sokovia Accords seen in Civil War where all teams of Novas would need some kind of national sanction to be defined as something other than free-range vigilante/terrorists, or a Nova Registration act a la X-men that would spread all over the world as international policy so they could prosecute specific novas. You'd still have conflict there but it wouldn't be to the same ham-handed degree as "we gotta nuke the whole world to get rid of them Aberrants". More like isolated pockets of resistance to the new status quo

                      The Nova vs. Baseline conflict is always going to be there in some form because Humans are inherently flawed, tribalistic creatures that need a concept of "the other" to unite in any meaningful or lasting way. But since there still hasn't been a race-war despite a few ignorant fools trying, I don't really see an Aberrant war as completely inevitable.

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                      • #12
                        There's still a core mechanical item that needs to be resolved: Taint.

                        It's a quick/easy route to power that comes with insanity. You're still going to have powerful, insane Novas regardless of the Aeon Society or Divis Mal and likely that conflict will still spiral out of control.


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                        • #13
                          Yes...Taint, that ham-handed morality mechanic left in the game to specifically force it towards the end they wanted. Having played the game I can't see how it could spiral out of control nearly as quickly without Utopian (and non-utopian) programs and inane brushfire wars designed to work novas to the bone for the sake of humans. With that kind of nonsense gone sure you'll still get a few who run out of control, but the vast majority will settle into a stable life. One of the more frustrating things about playing a Terat was how difficult is was to acquire ANY Taint, much less Taint you could turn into Chrysalis. As much as they played up how awful Taint was supposed to be, it really wasn't as easily acquired in-game using RAW without repeatedly performing protracted uses of large-scale quantum abilities. Your best route to massive Taint was at char-gen, you could spend in-game years without seeing a point of permanent Taint and even then only because you bought Node past level 2 or Quantum past level 5..

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                          • #14
                            Quid est cernere erit

                            If I wrote it right it means what must come to pass shall. I had a teacher who loved to talk about the theory of time travel and weather history is fixed or if it can in fact be altered. There are essentially a few schools of thought on this. The first being that if you go back in the past and change an event, the change occurs and alters everything that follows. If this somehow writes you out of existinece than you are either an outside entity existing outside of the timeline and stuck either in the past or in a present that you are no longer native to and thus unaware of the events of such a time. Another thought is that history is fixed, any attempt that you make to alter history, has already occured and been accounted for and as such your traveling into the past to attempt to change the events are as inevitable as the events happening as they did.

                            This is all theory anyways and specifically related to time travel, as those within the Aberrant period of time, are unaware of the looming war, or alternativly since human free will is as such they could possibly forsee an event coming but are unable to assess the details of it to the degree needed to avert them. Take Demon: The Fallen for example. One angel forsaw a great cataclism befalling mandkind, they acted to protect mankind not realizing that their actions that they took to protect mankind lead to the very cataclism that they forsaw.


                            I'll be your Huckleberry

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                            • #15
                              Simple: Most Novas actually got Node beyond 2 and Quantum beyond 5 and thus were doomed to got nuts.

                              Also: The gamemechanics are for playing PCs. it´s similiar to Vampire where it´s lampshaded that only about 10% of every Neonate makes it past the 1 year of damnation.
                              Last edited by maekkel; 09-25-2017, 08:08 AM.


                              Emigrated successfullly from the "old" to the "new" sandboxy World of Darkness. Mostly playing Requiem, Awakening and the Lost.
                              Likes cheesecake

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