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  • Novas we know, Novas we don't...

    So, thinking about Natalya 'Swarm Queen' Dornova, the one member of the Teragen 'Pantheon' that we don't really know anything about (other than her being Russian, a former Elite, and running a club), led me to think about all those other name dropped Novas in the Aberrant books.

    For Team Tomorrow, we've got full stats for;
    Pratima ‘Splash’ Basham (PU), Peter ‘Thorn’ Knorr (PU), Ricardo Montoya-Bernal (PU), Delaney ‘Firefly’ Croft-Martin (PU), Ichiko ‘Geisha’ Iko (PU), Melissanda Estevez (PU), Uta ‘Tremor’ Stentz (Year 1), It (Year 1), Andre ‘Bender’ Corbin (Worldwide Phase 1)

    Partial write-ups for;
    Shelby ‘Caestus Pax’ Eisenfaust (Wordwide Phase 1), Spencer ‘Antaeus’ Balmer (Worldwide Phase 1), Andrew Thomas ‘Skew’ Parker (Aberrant)

    And single line mentions at most for;
    Allison ‘Psyche’ Pfaltzgraff (PU), Anthony ‘Lightning’ Chang (PU), Griffin Armstrong (PU), Ewen ’The Apollo Kid’ Banks (PU), Hiram ‘Slag’ Goldberg (PU), Gvuthbjorg ‘Ragnarockette’ Danielsdottir (PU), Christoph ‘Shadow Artist’ Yannik (PU), Jennifer ‘Slider’ Landers, Ana Graca Texeira, Pualani ‘Pele’ Kapunani, Jinshu Shan (A, PU), Makara, Firefox, Geyser, Spinner, Figment

    Many of them we see in the artwork, or scattered around enough that it's not hard to figure out what sort of abilities they have. (Psyche, we see flying, and know is a telepath, and likely also able to mental blast and dominate others, for instance.) Others, not so much. (And the artwork itself can be funky. Anthony 'Lightning' Chang has *radically* changed his look, from Project Utopia page 60, to page 58 (and the cover), with his distinctive purple Mohawk and spiky pants!)

    We know that Pele burned the Pursuer's face when he hurt Caestus Pax, so some sort of fire powers would make sense (and having seen the Pursuer's stats, and a ballpark of what Pax is capable of, that's literally impossible, on paper, suggesting that Pax was winding up for one of his big showboat-y 'Maxed' out Fist of Peace attacks, and botched, hurting *himself* and, much more importantly to him, looking like the Pursuer had just smacked him like a chump in front of the cameras!).

    Jinshu Shan is mentioned twice, once as an example of diversity, and once in the section on Maxing out powers, adapting her force field into the 'Iron Chariot Stance,' which sounds evocative as all hell. (Perhaps some sort of Area extra on her Force Field, allowing her to gather up a group of people and carry them to safety, making her the 'Chariot' being referred to?)

    It's interesting that Team Tomorrow has such bad luck with fire manipulators. Slag is dead. Apollo Kid was driven off by Pax. Pele was there near the beginning, but is conspicuously absent in later tales (perhaps Pax didn't appreciate her 'saving' him from Pursuer, and chided her for interfering?). Firefox is retired and married. I kind of wonder, with how things went with the fight between Pax and Mal, if Pax doesn't *hate* fire-users, and act even jerkier to them than he does to everybody else, causing them to leave?

    Pax also seems to have a lot of team-mates with powers explicitly like his own (Ragnarockette, in particular, is kind of 'Pax lite,'), and yet also explicitly weaker. From a tactical standpoint, useful for the team leader to have direct personal understanding of how others powers work (because he has them himself), but also perhaps reflective of his ego that so many people under his umbrella are just weaker versions of himself. (Skew and Griffin Armstrong come to mind, like Pax, able to fly, put up force fields, shoot zaps and move stuff around, but they are using techniques of level 3 powers, which are inherently weaker than level 2 powers like Flight, Force Field, Quantum Bolt and Telekinesis, which is what Pax uses. No matter how they develop their magnetic or gravitic powers, Pax will *always* be ahead of them. And I think that's exactly how he likes it.) Characters with powers not like his, like Psyche or Splash, are notably absent in some of his exploits, or said to have friction with him.

    Hard to hog the glory when someone is controlling the weather to put out a forest fire, or seizing control of someone's mind and making them spill the beans on their criminal allies, things which Pax, for all his power, cannot do.

    It's interesting how much stuff remains unwritten about these characters, and how many of them, like Ana Graca Texiera (flight, spaceworthy, probably either strong and tough or *fast* and tough) or Ewen 'Apollo Kid' Banks (flight, fire manipulation, 'advanced reasoning capabilities?'), remain undeveloped.

  • #2
    Ooh, I forgot Leland 'Saxon' Cornwall (Cornfield? Cornhole? Too lazy to look it up.) in my list of T2M members we've seen or not seen written up. From his appearances, I vaguely recall mention of telepathy (Aberrant core book?), flight (Project Utopia) and murdering a bunch of women brutally (suggesting Mega-Strength, in the Teragen sourcebook). Dude is seriously messed up.

    Looking at how various Elites occasionally have quite different powers (Gravity Control and Healing, for instance, for the Pursuer, and all sorts of stuff for Totentanz, like Quantum Leech, Invisibility and Healing), and how T2M Novas seem more likely to 'stay on theme' and not 'also' have powers not tied to their central powerset (again, like Healing), I wonder if it's a subtle sign of how Project Utopia's Novas are a little clueless about how their powers work, and their unlimited 'off-theme' potential, which sounds like the sort of thing that would be quite deliberate, on the part of the darker forces behind the project (to keep their Nova assets 'predictable' and not aware that they could as easily learn to teleport as gain another dot of elemental mastery: water or whatever).

    Even their biggest gun, Pax, tends to stay 'on-theme,' although it's hard to say whether or not that is because he's unaware that he could learn to heal or create a spatial warp, so much as he regards such softer developments of power as 'weak' or 'scutwork' that other people can handle...


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    • #3
      The discussion about Swarm Queen brought up some random terats that they name-drop but never explain anything about (of which there are a lot), but the Aberrants are just as bad. Their faction pamphlet (it doesn't deserve to be called a "book") gives you stats for exactly 3 of them (The Living Wreck, Detonator, and Renaissance Man), generally describes another 4 (Rousseau, Kimberly Dame, Mina Takamura, and Dr. Worm), and then name-drops a much of randoms (Antenna, Buzzcock, Jacques Angel, Edda Cznevski, Diane 'Intergalactic' Holm, Danielle Coleridge, and three others called Tris, Remy, and Joanne).

      And yeah, for T2M to be this bastion of superheroism, it's obvious that their "enemies" tend to have much broader spectra of power by comparison. Terat powers are just weird for the sake of being weird, the closest things they have to a straight up blaster type is Shrapnel who isn't even shooting energy and Scripture who never actually fights. Elites look like they were the characters of playtest PCs since they have a huge array of powers that support their battling prowess.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Darksol-aeternium View Post
        The discussion about Swarm Queen brought up some random terats that they name-drop but never explain anything about (of which there are a lot), but the Aberrants are just as bad. Their faction pamphlet (it doesn't deserve to be called a "book") gives you stats for exactly 3 of them (The Living Wreck, Detonator, and Renaissance Man), generally describes another 4 (Rousseau, Kimberly Dame, Mina Takamura, and Dr. Worm), and then name-drops a much of randoms (Antenna, Buzzcock, Jacques Angel, Edda Cznevski, Diane 'Intergalactic' Holm, Danielle Coleridge, and three others called Tris, Remy, and Joanne).
        I am surprised that the characters chosen to get full write ups aren't the ones more likely to appear as potential adversaries. I feel like, regardless of the chronicle, I am more likely to get in a fight with (and therefore need actual game stats for) Dr. Worm, of the Aberrants, or Klarion of the Teragen's Kabal, or Lance Stryker, than Geisha, Melissanda Estevez (Slider's team teleporter 'replacement') or Firefly, of Team Tomorrow.

        I am also curious as to what sort of powers Kimberly Dame has. Her brief write up gives no hint as to her actual abilities (other than that she got young again, and makes Novox samples of older music). There's a few other characters who get mentioned a bit, but remain total mysteries, like Mephistopholeeez (sp?), who was an Elite, and is now a major music producer, and, from the picture on the cover of the Aberrant core book, seems to raising rabble and / or possibly manipulating fire. It would be interesting if he was more of a mega-social character, and operated as an Elite with a strike team of loyal baselines (to cover for his own lack of offensive quantum powers).

        Most of the Civic Defenders are also a mystery. We have no idea what New York's 'Gothic Knight' can do (other than loom on rooftops, casting a Batman-silhouette), or SF's Rainbow, or Atlanta's Terminus (being bulletproof, the artwork suggests...). Again, if your characters end up working / fighting / adventuring in the selected city, these are the sorts of Novas that you might find game stats useful for, or at least some sort of hint as to their powers.

        We get tantalizing hints, at other times. Jenny 'Fist of Doom' Kovacs has a quantum bolt, for instance, but Elite's she's fought before, Avatar Nine and Davinder Rao, we know nothing about, nor any of the Novas of Column Shiva or the Exploding Heavenly Mandate.

        And yeah, for T2M to be this bastion of superheroism, it's obvious that their "enemies" tend to have much broader spectra of power by comparison. Terat powers are just weird for the sake of being weird, the closest things they have to a straight up blaster type is Shrapnel who isn't even shooting energy and Scripture who never actually fights. Elites look like they were the characters of playtest PCs since they have a huge array of powers that support their battling prowess.
        It is interesting how varied the 'gamist' nature of the stats are, based on the faction. Elites seem more likely to have effective offenses and defenses. Team Tomorrow members seem to specialize in rapid response, and have lots of fliers (and a teleporter to ferry everybody else), as well as flashy elemental or energy manipulation powers that 'play well for the camera.' Teragen are a collection of individuals, and some of them, some of their leaders, even, seem to have absolutely no real combat utility. Aberrant is another collection assembled from various other factions, and defies any sort of classification.

        I'm pretty gamist by nature, and try to make sure that my own characters have a decent mix of offense and defense, as well as some utility, self-healing and / or transportation, if I can keep it in-theme and affordable, but comics (and games) are full of glass cannons with big offense and no defense (Cyclops, Black Canary), or the opposite (various niche characters who are invulnerable and nothing else, like Diamond Lil or Laurel Kent), are people who have neither, merely a 'transportation power' like super-speed or teleportation or, most woefully of all, since many other characters have it as a secondary power, flight.

        It's neat that the setting, which isn't all about combat, necessarily, and could be focused on building up your Novas as celebrities or entrepeneurs or investigative journalists or whatever, has room built into it for less 'effective' or 'optimized' characters, despite it being, mechanically, an incredibly deadly game of rocket tag, where the first person to shoot off a big quantum bolt or land hit with Mega-Strength backed Claws is probably going to messily obliterate their foe.

        I remember that being a bit of a culture shock for me, the first time I showed up with a heavy defense character with Armor, Force Field *and* Mega-Stamina, and found out that she could very much *NOT* safely 'tank' anything, because Mega-Strength hits hurt no matter how tough you think you are!
        Last edited by Ian Turner; 05-14-2018, 03:16 AM.

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        • #5
          For my game that I am running I decided to lower mega strength damage to 3 dmg/auto successes per level instead of 5 and it seems to work fairly nicely. As for the Teragen I built the Mathematician to be very good at dodging since he can predict moves easily. I gave him force field rigged to work off Intelligence to help simulate that and Probability Corruption technique from Entropy Control as asingle power. He’s got high Mega mentals along with various prediction powers. It should give him plenty of actions and a high initiative to make seem effective against many types of attacks. Mental Blasts and Strobe targettng his unique senses will still get him.
          Last edited by andrewm9; 05-14-2018, 10:43 PM. Reason: clarity

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          • #6
            Originally posted by andrewm9 View Post
            For my game that I am running I decided to lower mega strength damage to 3 dmg/auto successes per level instead of 5 and it seems to work fairly nicely. As for the Teragen I built the Mathematician to be very good at dodging since he can predict moves easily. I gave him force field rigged to work off Intelligence to help simulate that and Probability Corruption technique from Entropy Control as asingle power. He’s got high Mega mentals along with various prediction powers. It should give him plenty of actions and a high initiative to make seem effective against many types of attacks. Mental Blasts and Strobe targettng his unique senses will still get him.
            I was just tonight thinking about a defensive power all about predictive avoidance, like the sort of 'combat precognition' one sees sometimes in movies like Next, or comic book characters like Dream Girl or Rose Wilson/Ravager, or used by Jedi.

            Shrinking sets an interesting precedent of +1 difficulty to hit the Nova / dot of the power (+quantum), and a variation on that, 'Moving Meditation' or whatever that gave the same extra Difficulty to be hit without any of the other effects of Shrinking, could be interesting. Unlike Shrinking, the benefit would be limited to when the character can move, since being aware of an incoming attack in time to avoid it is useless if one can't actually avoid anything (immobilized, stunned, grappled, etc.). I could also see another option to tone it down by limiting how effective it is against multiple attacks, say, full value against the first attack in a turn, and then the difficulty penalty reduces by 1 for each additional attack (as it gets harder and harder to avoid multiple bad futures all slamming into you at once, and gets to the point where swaying to avoid bullet X will put you in the path of punch Y).

            Or you could skip the Shrinking precedent entirely, and have that sort of defense just add to Dodge pools, and perhaps allow a multi-tasking like benefit to splitting defensive actions with offensive or other actions (so that the psychic fighter can more effectively fight while still defending themself). I like that idea less, just because extra dodge dice doesn't impress me much. (Dodge *auto-successes,* on the other hand, could be pretty neat, 'though, and puts the defensive power more into the hands of the player, as they allocate dodge auto-successes for the turn as they see fit, and aren't just making it harder to hit them by a set number, which leaves it up to the luck of the ST's die roll for the attackers...)

            I kind of love how many different directions there sometimes are for a single effect. Am I going to add dice to my defense roll? Reduce Difficulties? Add auto-successes? Reduce dice from the enemy's pool? Increase their difficulties? Reduce their damage? Increase my soak? Oy!

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            • #7
              And now I'm looking at Civic Defenders.

              We've got two fully statted up, if I remember correctly;
              Elizabeth ‘London Fog’ Barton (London), Chad ‘The Living Wreck’ Berger (Chicago)

              And a bunch with fragmentary information or brief mentions;
              Sara ‘Tenor’ Meeks (Seattle), Lynette ‘Houston Tornado II’ Calender (Houston), Gothic Knight (New York), Anton ‘Gator’ LeBec (New Orleans), Jonas ‘Kikjak’ Kincaid (Detroit), Robert ‘Rainbow’ Rodi (San Francisco), Miguel ‘El Gato Negro’ Esposito (Madrid, Spain?), Malcom 'Terminus' Jackson (Atlanta), Violette ‘La Vitesse’ Dulair (Cologne, France?), Michelle ‘Corona’ Medford (Sydney)

              And one mentioned in passing, but not specifically as a Civic Defender;
              the Patriot (Boston)

              We know about poor Tenor and her ill-starred sonic attack, and Houston Tornado II and her bodymorph (air) capabilities that will hopefully help her to survive the sort of Church of Michael bushwhacking that did for her predecessor, and Kikjak's got his own colored pages describing some of his abilities, and Corona has a bit of a write-up as part of Australis.

              But Gothic Knight is a complete mystery (other than having a Batman-esque silhouette and vibe and his own special number people can call to report crimes to him), as if Rainbow (a member of the QNA, as well as a Civic Defender), El Gato Negro, Terminus (has a force field able to repel gunfire, from the artwork), Gator and La Vitesse. And the Patriot, assuming he's even a Civic Defender.

              Terminus and Rainbow interest me most for development, since they might represent not just a collection of stats and powers, but different looks at various social issues.

              La Vitesse might, depending on what sort of speedster she is. El Gato Negro, eh. I'd be amused if his powers had less to do with felines and more to do with bad luck, because that would be a fun twist.

              For all the attention he got in the colored pages of the original book, I'm surprised we haven't seen more of Kikjak. Count Orzaiz is the most prominent black nova, and, frankly, is kind of 'black-ish,' having a white father.

              Gator might be an interesting look at the less human-looking side of nova-dom, with his alligator-like physiology (and yet stellar popularity!).

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              • #8
                It's true, Kikjak gets a lot of text describing him (or interactions with him) in media sections of either the APG or STG, but other than the obvious fact that he can fly, and tank energy damage we don't know much else. Kinda suspicious how Proteus didn't black-bag Gator before he got into the public eye, he must have come up after the slider scandal, or it's a bodymorph.

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                • #9
                  Gator is listed as the number one most popular Municipal Defender in the world, so yeah, perhaps Proteus has slowly learned it's lesson about ganking off Novas with Q-ratings like Slider's.

                  The impression I've gotten from the descriptions of the crowd at the Amp Room, or of XWF stars like Superbeast, Terminatrix and Raja Ravana (sp?), or even Utopia/Tomorrowite novas like Antaeus and Ricardo Montoya-you-killed-my-father, prepare-to-die, is that Proteus doesn't just go after any Nova that's ugly automatically. They seem to have bigger fish to fry than 'dude's looking a little scaly...'

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                  • #10
                    Wow, I just was checking out T-shirts at the redbubble store, and saw a beast clan called Makara, which is also the name of a Nova (married to Firefox, both of Team Tomorrow), whose only real detail in-game is that he is drawn to look like Dwayne 'the Rock' Johnson, presumably resistant to low levels of fire (since his wife seems to be frequently spouting off small jets of fire) and has 'three inch thick hide' according to what I assume is hyperbole from Geryon, who punched him hard enough to peel some of that skin off.

                    Reading up on the word 'Makara,' and it's ties to a Hindu beastie that may or may not be part elephant, part aquatic creature, the notion that the Nova named Makara is both strong and tough like an elephant (or, yanno, much stronger...), and fully aquatic (although not presumably having the lower body of a fish, since he and Firefox were hoping to have kids...), and perhaps also a native of India (or at least more widely read than people who end up with Nova names like 'Mephistofeleeez' or 'Crunchasaurus'), certainly adds some directions to go with this 'barely more than a name' NPC.

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