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Mixing Things Up

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  • Mixing Things Up

    I have a bit of an idea to add in some cosmic horror.
    The way the layout is that this is a continuum and each game is it's own separate branch leading off of it. Their own timelines, so to speak. I have spoken to my friends at length how this is an amazing idea. It gives me, the ST, the ability to change up history and not screw up the timeline and cause ripples in a meta-plot.

    But, if this is a continuum, then that does not mean it is all-encompassing. My idea is that one of the things that exists outside of the Continuum wants in. And it has found a tiny pinprick to come in. Empowering a serial killer. This serial killer shows up every few years to wreck havoc and then is gone. Or else is captured but then another one shows up once more.

    Now, I was going to start this in the core game setting. I can bring it back in during the Aeon setting by putting it on a space station that the players are on. In Aberrant, it will be easy. So would Adventure. But the part that I come to you guys about is this:

    How do I make it unique in each setting and not just "Smiling Jack is here. He is killing. Fix it."

    For the core setting, I was going to have the players be children who were caught by him but were rescued by the police. And then, with them all grown up? Smiling Jack is back and coming for them.

    For Trinity, I was going to have Smiling Jack be on a station that is stranded. The difference between this and the core is that in the core, they have an adversary coming after them. It is closer to Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street. In Trinity, it would be closer to Alien. But for Aberrant and Adventure, how do I make it unique? Does anyone have any suggestions?

  • #2
    My first thought would be to have some reason for it to change up its tactics every now and again, something in fitting with the setting. Either have it shaped by nearby conditions or learning from past encounters or both. Additionally, it doesn't necessarily have to be empowering the same serial killer or infusing the same traits every time (it doesn't even necessarily have to look like a serial killer -- in Adventure!, it could be a particularly brutal mob boss). Maybe the whatever-it-is isn't necessarily having these encounters all in the same order from its perspective, so when it manifests in the Adventure! era, perhaps it's already aware of what's going to happen in the future.

    I recognize these are pretty broad suggestions, but I'm just spitballing off the top of my head, here. A good source of inspiration might be the "Shadow From Beyond Time" volume of Atomic Robo, which does a similar -- though distinctly different -- plot. It's free to read in their online archive and begins here. (That said, in general, Atomic Robo is a really good source of inspiration for Trinity Continuum stories. The super-science is at the higher end of the scale, but in terms of the feel and the tone there's a lot worth borrowing. A version of Tesladyne would be pretty appropriate for the type of heroic faction that could exist in-setting, in fact.)

    Christopher Shaffer, freelancer.
    WoD: W20 Rage Across the World, W20 Umbra
    CofD: Night Horrors: The Unbidden, Night Horrors: The Tormented, "Legacy" in the WtF Anthology
    Trinity Continuum: Aeon


    • #3
      I do like the idea of it having a non-linear version of time so that I can have it come up in the various eras and then have the killer act like this is sequential to them. Thanks for the idea.

      Yes, you are also right to have it manifest in different ways in various times. In fact, combining the two thoughts means that it changes it's tactics in each era but still serve the same overall goal."So in the 80's, I tried a serial killer, that did not work. I will go ahead and try it one more time in the 2120's. See if that works. No? Okay, well in the 2020's, I will have it be a kindly man who helps out these novas and then drain their powers to help open up a portal. That did not work? Ok, in the 1920's I will go ahead and have it be a mob boss. "


      • #4
        There are a couple ideas one could explore.

        First, the idea that this Outside Force has been empowering its champion for a very, VERY long time. Whether the same person or different individuals, the Champion has been around since prehistory. Each time he appears, the Champion adapts to the technology of the day, in an effort to more efficiently kill people as offerings to the Outside Force that empowers it. He wants to kill more people, and uses the march of technology, economics, and social structures to edge out more kills before he's inevitably crushed himself. A whole Adventure! campaign could revolve around the PCs investigating historical records and ancient ruins, piecing together the path of this killer, and dealing with all the remnants of its efforts. Like staggeringly ancient cults that worship the Champion as an avatar of a god (the Outside Force).

        In this case, all endeavors of humanity are being treated as "tech" that the Champion exploits to create more death. Whether that is the "Tech of Cults", the "Tech of Military", the "Tech of Mercantilism", the "Tech of Drugs", or the "Tech of State". An Adventure! campaign might see the "Tech of Cults" being a remnant of older efforts by the Champion, but the Champion is also using emergent weapons technology, as wielded by the "Tech of State", in the form of a small fascist state the Champion stands behind. Because pulp heroes fighting high-tech proto-Nazis in some wartorn land is pure Adventure!.

        Meanwhile, an Aberrant game - or a Continuum game set in roughly the modern day, at least - might involve the Champion killing people with the "Tech of Drugs", strategically flooding the streets of industrial nations with cheap and harmful substances. Not for profit, but for the sheer intent of spreading as much systemic death and misery as the Outside Force demands. Combine this with attempts to stoke urban unrest, and to exacerbate racial and economic tensions. While this is all going on, the Champion is naturally also looking for as many technological solutions to the problem of "People Being Alive". As soon as nuclear weapons became a thing, the Champion was like "oh yeah, I need a few of those", making the threat of nuclear Armageddon a long-term facet of the campaign. But the Champion is just as eager to get his hands on chemical weapons, biological weapons, and, with the advent of Novas, superpowered weapons.

        With late stage Aberrant and on into Aeon, the sky's the limit for what sort of hypertech the Champion would be looking into. Psionics, cloning technology, genetic engineering, FTL drives. The Champion would be looking for ways to exploit these for the purposes of death. Memetic viruses that induce psychics to use their powers against those around them. Deep-implanted genetic markers in whole populations, that can be set off to induce rapid, painful demise at the Champion's choosing; effectively, the Champion working over generations to booby-trap mankind's own DNA. Setting up a series of "accidents" with FTL drives, that open up wormholes right next to major population centers, if not being large enough to destroy (or at least depopulate) whole planets.

        Whether it's the same person or the same role "in spirit", the Champion has all of human history and beyond to plan his master's entry into the world. As well as the ability to set multiple plans in motion, that may take decades or even centuries to play out, in order to maximize the ability for the Outside Force to get the deaths and suffering it needs to come in.