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[Aberrant] Avoiding Transcendence

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  • Dataweaver
    started a topic [Aberrant] Avoiding Transcendence

    [Aberrant] Avoiding Transcendence

    So: it has been pointed out in another thread that characters like Superman and the Flash can be difficult to model in Aberrant — not because the game cannot handle the power levels that these characters tend to operate at (both exhibit powers that can be modeled with the upper end of the Scale charts), but because the rules require a degree of divergence from baseline humanity that the likes of Clark Kent or Barry Allen simply don't exhibit.

    The difficulty comes from the mandatory link between Quantum and Transcendence. If you're Quantum 4, you have at least Transcendence 1; Quantum 5, Transcendence 2; and so on. One could model Superman at as low as Quantum 7, with his more outlandish feats being examples of Maxing Out; but that still mandates a minimum Transcendence of 4, which in turn represents enough of a disconnect from regular people that all of his social interactions with them would be at +2 difficulty. And Superman simply doesn't exhibit that kind of disconnect.

    This rules hack is designed to address this, by making the acquisition of Transcendence entirely optional. The basic rule is this: you no longer automatically gain a point of Transcendence at Quantum 4 and another point of Transcendence for every dot of Quantum after that; instead, you have the option to buy the Quantum trait at half cost (8 XP up to Quantum 5; 16 XP for Quantum 6+) if you take a point of Transcendence with it.

    Note that this leads to more powerful or more human Novas: for the same experience cost as the current system, you get the same Quantum without the Transcendence, or you get more Quantum with the Transcendence. On the other hand, it has the virtue of being simple. If you want a system that remains on par with the official setup, then you need to double the XP cost of Quantum starting at Quantum 4, with the expectation that Novas will take the Transcendence to bring the cost back down. If you want to be more strict about it, you might require the Transcendence at Quantum 4+ if the Nova in question hasn't been using Grounding.

    Regardless, keep track of where you're getting the Transcendence; because by using Grounding as a catalyst, you can remove it for a cost equal to the XPs that it saved you. If you bought a dot of Quantum for 8 XP plus a dot of Transcendence instead of paying16 XP for the dot of Quantum, then you can use Grounding to justify paying 8 XP more to get rid of the dot of Transcendence. When buying off Transcendence, you must pay for the most expensive point first. (If you don't want to mess with different dots of Transcendence being worth different amounts of XP, just say that taking a dot of Transcendence is always a discount of 6 XP. You lose the effect of Transcendence becoming a greater temptation at higher levels of Quantum; but you gain simplicity in the math.)

    You can extend this logic to Transformations as well: taking a low-level transformation with a Nova trait saves you 3 XP; so you should be able to spend 3 XP to remove the low-level transformation, provided you take appropriate actions in the story to justify its removal. Ditto with mid-level and high-level transformations. I wouldn't necessarily tie these removals to Grounding; but there should be some sort of effort in the story that's opposed to the nature of the Transformation. It should never be as simple as “pay the XP, and the Transformation magically disappears”.

    Thoughts?

  • Deadmanwalking
    replied
    Originally posted by Eternl Knight View Post
    Quick question - has anyone actually asked the devs about the Mega-Composure interpretations. I'll admit I read it as Dataweaver did (cannot use for grounding purposes) but we do get frequent answers on the forum and it would settle the issue with authority (rather than seeing the back & forth of competing player views).
    To be clear, nobody is saying you can use it for Grounding directly (well, it can be used at half rating for some kinds of grounding, like all other Mega-Attributes). The question is whether the Difficulty reduction is somehow conditional, or applies to all Composure rolls no matter what (in the latter case, it can be used on Forming Bonds, which is helpful to Grounding in a roundabout way).

    But no, it hadn't been asked officially, so I just did that.

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  • Eternl Knight
    replied
    Quick question - has anyone actually asked the devs about the Mega-Composure interpretations. I'll admit I read it as Dataweaver did (cannot use for grounding purposes) but we do get frequent answers on the forum and it would settle the issue with authority (rather than seeing the back & forth of competing player views).

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  • Mateus Luz
    replied
    First, sorry if it sounded offensive, my post was more about my opinion than trying to change anyone’s view of the setting. Now, while I agree if you give enough time, novas can do anything, Chrysalis is a very specific thing that most novas are not even aware of existence, and the number of Novas is yet too low to random discovering the same stuff. Sure by Aberrant War this knowledge will be much more available and will not be a exclusivity of treats, but not yet.

    On a small change of subject, 1e Teragen book had more than a few aberration/taint manipulation powers. Those are not present in the rules so far. That would explain how chrysalis become more common among terats in 1e and also how the general population become aware of this possibility.

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  • Aliasi
    replied
    And, in both editions, Chrysalis is explicitly a thing that can be learned. It's not implausible to use faction-specific edges for other situations, and honestly even if someone wasn't a Terat it's like other cases of invention: knowing it can be done makes it easier to duplicate.

    Not easy, of course. And my post was more about "variants that use some portion of the rules without necessarily being literally the same thing".

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  • Dataweaver
    replied
    For what it's worth, I think that's the general rule of thumb for all faction-specific benefits: none of them are truly unique to the faction in question; but all of them are much harder to acquire without the faction's help.

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  • Deadmanwalking
    replied
    Originally posted by Aeonstorm View Post
    On the topic of mega composure dots and mega attributes in general. I think the fan material from first edition did a good job of describing it. It doesn’t give the same sort of alien/nonhuman feeling as taint/transcendance but it does cause a gap between baseline and nova with the nova causing jealousy and feelings of inadequacy. When someone described a nova with mega composure as being eerie to baselines I would say that would be in cases with some levels of transcendance or transformation, otherwise I would say the nova would cause frustration and anger from keeping his cool and being level headed. Like how they would single the nova out for not freaking out in stressful situations.
    Well, I'd expect Mega-Composure is indeed quite eerie when the Nova actually demonstrates it. Being utterly calm at unusual times is generally perceived as creepy...but Mega-Composure is inherently a superhuman degree of emotional control, meaning it should, thematically, allow the Nova to demonstrate the appropriate emotional reaction if they wish, it's just a choice for them whether to do so.

    Originally posted by Mateus Luz View Post
    On the Chrysalis topic, I don’t think there is any other source of knowledge related to it other than Mal and his crew.
    Originally posted by Mateus Luz View Post

    He, being awesome and really interested in self evolution and all, took a about 50 years to learn how to do, so I think it’s not something easy to develop. Mal learned he can do anything, and the only limits to his powers are the ones he imposes unconsciously, and then learned how to control this limits, what must be absolutely hard, like for us to control peristaltic movements or hearth beating.

    I think Chrysalis is the ultimate result of Terat philosophy, controlling every aspect of self to unlock all limits of body and mind and become a god (or the closest thing to unlimited power), not a recreational activity Terats do or something they teach to anyone.

    And it’s all for a 1 dot edge…


    Personally, while I agree that learning Chrysalis on your own would be a long and difficult process (though not as long as it was for Mal if you know it's possible...that always makes things easier), I'd say the Teragen are probably very willing to teach people how to utilize Chrysalis, but would use it to actively recruit while teaching. Jeremiah Scripture, just to pick one example, seems the sort who would happily teach anyone sincere who asked him the path to enlightenment...and take the entire time he was teaching to proselytize, using all his Mega-Social Attributes to make sure you were a Terat by the time you learned it. Which isn't impossible to resist, but is gonna cut the number of non-Terats who have Chrysalis down a lot (especially since the Terats most likely to be approachable for this are almost certainly gonna be notably Mega-Social).

    The rulebook says you need a mentor to talk you through your first Chrysalis, and must have some understanding of Teras, but says nothing about devotion or belief, so it's a logistical obstacle for a non-Terat to learn rather than a hard limit per se, but it's a pretty big logistical obstacle.

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  • Dataweaver
    replied
    I fully agree with the premise of your idea. But let's look at the specifics:

    The existing mechanics for Grounding cover much of that already: to use it, you have to engage with baselines on their terms, which means not using Nova abilities. Dormancy helps with that, in that if you shut off your Nova abilities you don't have to worry about using them; but it's not required. As written, Grounding doesn't help you once you've reached 10 Flux; but what it does do is to help you avoid getting to 10 Flux in the first place. So far, so good.

    The only area that I can see where the existing Grounding rules are inadequate is less about the Grounding rules themselves than the hard link between Quantum and Transcendence: no matter what a Nova does, there is no way to avoid gaining a point of Transcendence when you gain your fourth dot of Quantum, and another point of Transcendence for every increase in Quantum after that; and there's no way to lower Transcendence at all. Thus the house rule that this thread is all about: allow the Nova to use Grounding to directly combat Transcendence, not just indirectly doing so by opposing Flux. The mechanism I chose was to establish experience point expenditures that let you avoid or reduce Transcendence, and to gate those expenditures through Grounding in the same way that increasing Nova traits is gated through Maxing Out. That's the core idea; the rest is just a matter of deciding how much experience it should cost to reduce or avoid Transcendence, and how much Grounding you have to do to justify spending that experience.

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  • Firanai
    replied
    For me, avoiding transcendence is first and foremost about staying connected to the rest of humanity. The problem is that the more power and transformations you have, the harder it is to relate to baselines, but what if there was a way to connect with humanity at their level? What does superman do to not became a literal alien? He "becomes" Clark Kent, a brilliant but clumsy human reporter, he "limits" himself to a human perspective. However, in aberrant it's not enough to interact with humanity, to truly connect you need to remind yourself what is to be as limited as a regular human, without superpowers of any kind.
    That's why I want to create a house rule that if you have Dormancy at two you have an option to stop transcendence and, with a lot of work, even reduce it. My initial idea is that whenever a character accumulates 10 points of flux instead of gaining an automatic point of transcendence they have the option to immediately activate Dormancy to stop it, at which point they must remain in that state for a period of 10 hours + Quantum (At first I considered days, but that's too long) and live like a regular human being (They can still help their allies, but they must do it without powers). At the end of the period, they can shed one point of flux and avoid transcendence. Any interruption of this process will result in gaining the point of transcendence.
    Now, reducing it is obviously more difficult. Following the theme of sacrifice, a player must spend a period of 10 days + Quantum in dormancy at which point, and after a period of reflection, a player can sacrifice one permanent point of their quantum stat to get rid of one point of transcendence. The Nova chooses to sacrifice power in the name of their humanity. Not an easy choice to make, even for the most virtuous of Novas.
    Since I'm not an expert in systems or mechanics, I would like to hear your opinions and suggestions about it. Thanks in advance.

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  • Mateus Luz
    replied
    On the Chrysalis topic, I don’t think there is any other source of knowledge related to it other than Mal and his crew.

    He, being awesome and really interested in self evolution and all, took a about 50 years to learn how to do, so I think it’s not something easy to develop. Mal learned he can do anything, and the only limits to his powers are the ones he imposes unconsciously, and then learned how to control this limits, what must be absolutely hard, like for us to control peristaltic movements or hearth beating.

    I think Chrysalis is the ultimate result of Terat philosophy, controlling every aspect of self to unlock all limits of body and mind and become a god (or the closest thing to unlimited power), not a recreational activity Terats do or something they teach to anyone.

    And it’s all for a 1 dot edge…

    Leave a comment:


  • Aeonstorm
    replied
    On the topic of mega composure dots and mega attributes in general. I think the fan material from first edition did a good job of describing it. It doesn’t give the same sort of alien/nonhuman feeling as taint/transcendance but it does cause a gap between baseline and nova with the nova causing jealousy and feelings of inadequacy. When someone described a nova with mega composure as being eerie to baselines I would say that would be in cases with some levels of transcendance or transformation, otherwise I would say the nova would cause frustration and anger from keeping his cool and being level headed. Like how they would single the nova out for not freaking out in stressful situations.

    Leave a comment:


  • Aliasi
    replied
    Originally posted by Deadmanwalking View Post
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    Personally, my own House Rule on the Superman issue is to allow trading two Low-level Transformations for one Mid-level one (or two Mid-level ones for a High-level one...in both cases if done in play this is basically 'upgrading' an existing Transformation, which seems logical to me). That works to fit the pattern in his case and makes a lot of things easier for a lot of concepts in general. You can also come up with a couple of low level Transformations for Superman easily enough if you want, though I admit it's not ideal. The Flash is a better argument since he has fewer weaknesses, though even there, if light speed is him maxing out (which it usually is...it's generally shown as pretty unhealthy for him to go quite that fast) you can manage something pretty close (several versions have ADHD, the metabolism issue you mention, or something similar that can be a low level Transformation, and he can 'max out' to light speed at Quantum 7/Transcendence 4).
    In addition, while Chrysalis is the primary way in TC:Aberrant for a nova to manage their transformations, I'd say even in the fully canonical TC setting (a) being a Terat isn't necessarily the only way to learn it, although it probably still requires a philosophical shift where you accept you are not quite 'human', and (b) there's nothing saying you might not be able to shift them around some other way.

    But I am, again, approaching it from the "let's make Superman as a nova" viewpoint, not the "let's try to mimic the DC Comics Universe with a setting-specific kind of superhuman" one.

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  • Deadmanwalking
    replied
    Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
    On the last point, I have some cognitive dissonance with the notion that in order for a high-Quantum Nova to be a "regular guy" in his private life, he needs to take a Mega-Attribute. "Superhumanly unflappable" is not what I think of when I think of a "regular guy".

    More generally: while Mega-Composure does help you avoid changing your mind, that's not its primary purpose. Its primary purpose is to describe a character who never loses his cool. Even one or two levels of it puts the Nova into a class where the average baseline would likely consider his level-headedness to be eerie. That is, I don't consider Mega-Attributes to be something you should take quite so casually; they should always make you stand out, even when operating in the Stealth Nova realm. And the whole point of the likes of Clark Kent and Barry Allen is that they don't stand out.
    Mega-Composure literally has Mega-Edges that make you inhumanly good at not standing out. Specifically, Overwhelming Denial and, especially, Subtle Presence. Not standing out is very much and very specifically within its wheelhouse. I agree Mega-Attributes are not a casual thing, and there are definitely plenty of superheroes I'd be less inclined to give Mega-Composure to, but people with really normal secret identities that somehow pass below the radar even when it doesn't make sense are exactly the people who should have it, thematically speaking. Transcendence issues entirely aside, I'd still give Mega-Composure to Superman and, to a lesser extent, the Flash for that reason alone.

    Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
    Again, it's much simpler to just not hard-link Transcendence to Quantum, and allow the likes of Superman and the Flash to have high Quantum without high Transcendence. To me, that's the bottom line: if you like it, use it; if you don't, don't.

    And I've already said that I'm not trying to present this as something that everyone needs to adopt; though even that ought to be taken as a given, considering that I described it as a rules hack. And for the most part, the people in these forums do understand that. So I don't see why you're being so aggressively insistent that I admit some sort of fault. You agree that you don't have a problem with the hack itself; why not just leave it at that?
    Sorry, that I seemed like I was trying to get you to admit fault, that wasn't really what I was aiming for, just explaining my original intent in posting (which was to disagree with you on the reasons for the hack, not the nature of it). Now that that's cleared up I'll be quiet on that subject.

    Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
    The Transformations and Transcendence are joined at the hip, yes. Part of that is because if you don't attach Transformations to Transcendence, then the only thing it does is to make forming bonds with people with significantly different Transcendence harder. So if you're going to uncompleted the Transformations from the Transcendence, you'll want to consider something to replace them. It's definitely something to look into, because an argument can be made that Transcendence as written doesn't have enough teeth. Some ideas of other ways that it might make your Nova's life interesting would certainly be something worth thinking about.

    And to clarify something: I also don't have a problem with high-Quantum Novas tending to have more Transcendence. Emphasis on "tending to".
    Here, I agree entirely. Making Transcendence entirely optional works just fine mechanically, decoupling it from Transformations by having it not give you any doesn't work unless you replace them with something else similarly unpleasant.
    Last edited by Deadmanwalking; 07-16-2021, 09:15 AM.

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  • Dataweaver
    replied
    The Transformations and Transcendence are joined at the hip, yes. Part of that is because if you don't attach Transformations to Transcendence, then the only thing it does is to make forming bonds with people with significantly different Transcendence harder. So if you're going to uncompleted the Transformations from the Transcendence, you'll want to consider something to replace them. It's definitely something to look into, because an argument can be made that Transcendence as written doesn't have enough teeth. Some ideas of other ways that it might make your Nova's life interesting would certainly be something worth thinking about.

    And to clarify something: I also don't have a problem with high-Quantum Novas tending to have more Transcendence. Emphasis on "tending to".

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  • stanlemon
    replied
    I don't mind as much Transcendence being gained from high Quantum. Honestly I think that if someone has that kind of power they would invariably be affected by it and have some kind of alien outlook on the world. The issue I have though is that high Quantum forces Transformations on the character because it gives them Transcendence.

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