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  • Repurposed Scenarios for Aberrant?

    Hi!

    I have an Aberrant game coming up, and I've been looking around for some scenarios to run. Some of the group have already gone through the Worldwide books, so I don't want to pull from that. I'm looking for scenarios from other games that might be appropriate - but this is harder than it sounds. Your typical superhero adventure isn't going to fly in Aberrant, where there are no supervillains, and the PCs are likely not superheroes in the conventional sense? (Although if you know of a superhero scenario that would fit, by all means let me know!)

    So instead, I'm looking into other genres for inspiration. Are there particularly strong RPG scenarios from other games that could be retrofitted to Aberrant?

    So far, the only one that's immediately coming to my mind is "A More Perfect Union," from Green Ronin Publishing. Which isn't hugely surprising, since it was the adventure written for Paragons, Steve Kenson's (obvious and loving) effort to port Aberrant into Mutants and Masterminds.

    But if folks have others, I'd be very interested in hearing them.

  • #2
    My friend ran a game I played in in which he created another faction, headed by this super-scientist (can't remember the name). This faction wasn't particularly at odds with any of the official factions in the game, but they weren't exactly friendly. The game began with the scientist's dead and the PCs (his ex-wife, twin children who had rocky relationships with him, and business partner) were left to investigate the reason, which ended up being because of a special satellite project that would theoretically cause the eruption of everyone on the planet (or possibly just cause the eruption of everyone who had the gene sequence to erupt, and kill everyone else). The knowledge of this project was leaked, as well as the location of the lab where it was being built, so there was a race to get their first, with the PCs, Utopia/T2M, and the Teragen being at the forefront. In the process of finding the satellite and transporting it to a safe location (my PC had Warp. He forcibly warped one of T2M 29 AU into space....I couldn't stop laughing...I tend to like playing....less altruistic characters) there was a battle and the PC team got split up between T2M and the Teragen. Umm...the game ended with my character taking the plans for the satellite to the Teragen, his twin sister taking the prototype to Utopia and everything being sort of up in the air.

    I'd really like to revisit that game...hehe.

    EDIT: Oops...I had to change 1 AU to 29, because it was that distance. lol. Pretty much the average distance from Pluto to the Sun, but from the Earth into the Oort Cloud. lol
    Last edited by widdershawns; 07-10-2014, 10:49 AM.

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    • #3
      It's tricky because Aberrant can play very differently from most RPGs, let alone superhero RPGs - so much so that several of the Worldwide adventures feel too superhero-ish for some games. It really depends what the players want to do. If they're reactive and let plots come to them, a lot of adventures could work. If they're proactive and have their Nova characters change the world, you need more of a "sandbox" to give them a world to change.

      Mercenary adventures (for Shadowrun, for example) might work for Elites, probably changing the MacGuffin to be stolen to something Nova-related. If they want to demolish a small country, Chrome Berets for Cyberpunk might be suitable (more so than for most Cyberpunk games). Likewise, espionage adventures might work for the Directive and the like - many of them are pretty James Bond in tone which is basically superheroic, but the more gritty end could work. The Web Wars series for Top Secret / S.I. starting with Web Of Deceit dropped the PCs into a banana republic as token agents of the "good guy" agency and presented them with the "bad guy" agency, a corrupt regime, revolutionaries, drug gangs, multiple foreign interests and more. When in doubt, always add more groups trying to take advantage of a bad situation.

      And perhaps I should include some that are actually readily available...

      The celebrity culture in Aberrant rarely features in other RPGs - when it does, it usually involves a famous NPC that the PCs have to deal with - an annoying rock star to protect on tour in EuroTour for Cyberpunk, for example. This could be the basis of an adventure about famous PCs.

      One possibility would be to adapt a big setting-smashing series like Cyberpunk's Firestorm where the PCs' actions are supposed to create major changes. Note that I have only read part one and that was years ago, but if I recall correctly it presents a few ways to tear things up.


      Craig Oxbrow
      The Trinity Continuum freelancer

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      • #4
        Aberrant is actually more of a sci-fi "transhuman" setting than it is a traditional comic book superhero setting so a lot of the sci-fi that deals with that can be used as an inspiration. One thing that I did when I had a creative block was watch and use elements of anime like Bubblegum Crisis/Crash and its linked AD Police series, Dirty Pair, a few I do not remember the name of offhand, and things like that where the power armor and other tech is roughly equivalent to superpowers and the theme of "what is human really?" resonates with Aberrant. There might even be some scenario books still floating around from the old Bubblegum game that could be converted over. The Bubblegum stuff had the Genom megacorp as a shadowy villain group that was behind a lot of the nasty goings-on and their cyborgs, androids, agents and whatnot can be replaced with various levels of Nova and amped up Baseline thugs. Nowadays Toaru Kagaku no Railgun would be good, especially if one is running a superhero academy or research and training program campaign.

        There actually are supervillians in Aberrant just like there are superheros (or perhaps more accurately anti-heros), it is just not as stylized as the comics so most do not bother with costumes and act more like real world criminals, rebels, cultists, ruthless businessmen or whatever than their comic counterparts. Almost all of the elements from comics are there, the heroes, the villains, the in-betweens who are looking for their place in things, the shadowy agencies and conspiracy, complex plans and simpleminded robberies; they just do not have the trappings and (for the most part) colorful costumes of mainline comics. GURPS had a worldbook based on superhero comics that has some good ideas in it too, and they had the same take on costumes that Aberrant does, they are used as a kind of legal device similar to a corporation so that the "franchise" can be sued but not the person. In fact a lot of superhero game modules could be converted by knocking the formulaic polish off and thinking of how it could be done in a more "real world with powers" style.
        Last edited by BC001; 07-10-2014, 04:23 PM.

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        • #5
          Just echoing that taking scenarios from fiction with high-powered ensemble casts, like a lot of anime, or the Justice League, or Avengers, would be a good way to go.

          I'm just thinking that it can be hard to lay out a scenario that the PCs will follow, especially in games like Aberrant where the PCs are expected to have a great deal of ability to impact the setting. (I think that is a good working definition for a "high powered" game.) You might consider just introducing a conflict, and seeing how the PCs want to deal with it. Typically in Aberrant this means other Aberrants. You could try using humans or psiads, too. Or you could shake the setting up a bit and throw in new viable threats. This could come in the form of eldritch horrors Lovecraft-style or Neon Genesis Evangelion style, who come to the planet because they want 'something.' It could be the planet itself, or the collective unconscious of humanity, spawning monsters in opposition to the Aberrants.

          So yeah, my labor-saving advice is come up with antagonists and what they want, maybe put in some hooks related to the PCs' backgrounds (trained by the same sensei, dated Aunt May, etc), and only lightly scenario around them.

          But I realize I'm not really answering the original question. So... take the Chromatic invasion scenarios from the Trinity line (in Darkness Revealed and Alien Encounter), and set it in 2008 Aberrant. Make liberal use of the optional rule that Psi can cancel out Quantum. Throw in some Doyen-controlled human pawns called "Proxies" that demonstrate unusual powers, as mini-bosses.

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          • #6
            Actually, that's kind of a fascinating idea - I have never really gotten into Trinity (always preferred the Aberrant portion of the timeline more), but I've heard the Darkness Revealed adventure series is generally well-regarded. How tied into the specifics of the Trinity era is that storyline, do you think? Could the psions be replaced with novas, and the plot retrofitted to work with the Aberrant-era factions?

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            • #7
              At the behest of some of my players. I threw them into a Bioshock Infinite inspired floating city -- the Eyrie! The players had already met Dr. Zorbo in the Adventure! Era, but he had vanished for several decades, along with all signs of his armada and whatnot. Turns out, he and everyone with him continued to live on the floating city in a little pocket realm type deal -- sort of like a fold-space. Everything was fine, until one of the people there developed low-level noetic abilities and became a Psiad. In my game, the Doyen had taken notice of humanity in 1922, but hadn't done a whole lot about the situation. They began to panic in 1998 and looked for "solutions". They contacted the Psiad, wound up using her as a Proxy (full-on possession and whatnot) and bumped her powers up to 11 in the process.

              They used their new Proxy to take over the city, and initiate a pogrom against those who weren't "blessed" -- ie, those who were not Inspired in some manner. As an experiment, they began working with the Telluric engines keeping the city afloat, seeing if they could forcibly Inspire humans. They pretty much just shoved them in the exhaust, opened the engines to full power, and pulled the person out while crossing their fingers. It worked -- about 15-20% of the time. Otherwise, the person died rather horribly. Through significant social engineering (which I'm not going to bother going through everything in a single post, just trust me, we're talking fascist bullcrap here) they gathered support for an invasion of Earth, seeking more Telluric energy (messing with the engines turned out to be a bad idea) and wanting to bring their "blessings" to the world.

              The party had to fight through the Eyrie, then a human Psiad, then eventually a Doyen itself. They managed to defeat it by tricking it into the engine bay, then blasting it with Telluric energy from the backwash.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by MrApophenia View Post
                Actually, that's kind of a fascinating idea - I have never really gotten into Trinity (always preferred the Aberrant portion of the timeline more), but I've heard the Darkness Revealed adventure series is generally well-regarded. How tied into the specifics of the Trinity era is that storyline, do you think? Could the psions be replaced with novas, and the plot retrofitted to work with the Aberrant-era factions?
                Since Darkness Revealed features a conspiracy experimenting with Quantum and Psi in secret, it might actually fit the tone of Aberrant better. There are some Trinity-specific scenes and locations, but the core plot could adapt rather well. I'd tie it to the conspiracies inside Utopia, and it might encourage the PCs to join or work with the Aberrants or even Teragen to stop it, or to bring it to the Directive.


                Craig Oxbrow
                The Trinity Continuum freelancer

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                • #9
                  SO I would try a Mastermind type character, who has decided that the PC team is the perfect catspaw. Then you can incorporate stories from literary classics, because the Mastermind thinks it would be fun to manipulate the players AND to add an intellectual spin to the story.

                  So grab Doctor Moreau, and create a creature island. Invite the players over and let them moralize - or join in the fun. Once they are comfortable, let them stumble on the human experiments and find the graveyard of the failures.

                  Grab Frankenstein - and introduce the group to a transhumanist who believes in making a super-baseline cyborg. And the nova scientist who is secretly helping it along. All seems fine until the players are invited to investigate the project on behalf of a friend. They detect the quantum components and must decide to either let the baselines think they have a nova independent solution, or for someone to point out that the emperor (cyborg) has not cloths. and does the cyborg stay stable?

                  Of course I have given the nova canibals a new life, as one of my recurring villains is a very capable version of this cult, who has Mega-strength 1 and mega-dexterity 1 - from several years of consumption. simple villain - but think of Spiderman's nemesis Kraven the hunter.

                  I used all of these themes in my last campaign and they played out very well. Of course many of the player characters were well suited to mystery.

                  also, read over Warren Ellis' Planetary comics - great inspiration for strange adventures. it sits between High powered Adventure! and skewed Aberrant, but gets me thinking every time.

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                  • #10
                    I can't see the phrase "cat's paw" without thinking of my cat pawing me in the face. And then I just start giggling.

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                    • #11
                      My take on the Trinity adventure books in the Darkness Revealed and Alien Encounter series? Beautiful, richly detailed, fascinating ideas. But also tunnel-vision railroads, littered with overpowered NPC's to tell the PC's what to do and when. I don't recommend that latter part.

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                      • #12
                        As Gideon commented, Planetary can be great reference, for Adventure & Aberrant games both - Authority may be of interest or not, depending on your and your group's preference in tone. Other series of potential interest i would suggest are Alan Moore's Miracleman, for its twist of an old childish Captain Marvel knock-off into a rich of change, lost & forgotten secrets, conspiracy and gradual journey into transhumanism.

                        Not to mention Grant Morisson's Zenith series, because if the super-powered rock singer and his ex-hero british politician mentor fighting an eldritch horror-powered nazi super-soldier, a crazed business with a band of clones of your dead parents' old superteam and conspiracies centered around the idea that superbeings might be the unaware seeds of transhuman evolution into the previously mentioned eldritch horrors is not appropriate for Aberrant, i don't know what could be. Also surprisingly light-toned for some of the dark that happens there, what feels somehow appropriate.

                        While at first sight closer to mainstream supers, i would also recommend a good look at Giffen & DeMatteis' run of the Justice League. While mostly remembered (justifiably) for the humor, the series makes a pretty good balance between down to earth humor in and out of uniform, high-powered action, international intrigue, tense drama and some tragedy. Also possibly the main responsible for Ajax's growth from Superman's green, bald clone into a top-tier hero on its own and turning a buch of nobodies & 3rd stringers into the most beloved heroes of a generation of readers back in the late 80s to early 90s. Check it out.

                        Kurt Busiek's run of Iron Man is another good one, with its twists and turns into the character's personal universe makes a great look into the kind of strangeness the life of an apparently mostly normal and successful Nova can turn into, though truth be told Stark can also be seen as an edgewise case, completely covering the thin & blurry line between Inspired and Nova.

                        Immortal Iron Fist - all right, i'll be the first to admit that this one is far more Adventure/Exalted/Scion than actual Aberrant, but i love it and it's a pretty good bet you will too. The first 15 numbers are made of pure awesome and Orson Randall is the platonic ideal of pulp hero distilled into mentor form. Just read it. Ah, numbers 21 to 26 go even more into the crazy martial fantasy milieu but are just as awesome as the first arc. In fact considering it is the actual sequel of it, i would say ignore the 16-20 filler arc numbers and enjoy it all from start to finish. Really worth it.

                        Adam Warren, from Dirty Pair, to Titans: Scissors, Paper, Stone, Bubblegum Crisis: Grand Mal, to Livewires, to his run of Gen: 13 and Empowered, basically anything written by Adam Warren, because he simply can't seem to avoid delving into experimentalist sci-fi elements, transhumanism and pop culture reference & parody mixed with high-octane action & strategically placed tragedy. Some stuff will fit better than others in your games but it is a basically endless mine of concepts, imagery and ideas for inspiration.

                        A probably strange but very interesting option would be to take a look at the old Orpheus series of books. While centered around ghosts, mediums & other stuff, the setting and the plot are amazingly simple to adapt to Aberrant with its transhumanist tone and evolution from mundane but strange into conspiracy and high-powered, mythic and world-shaking fields, not to mention a great mine of ideas on scary directions one might take with Taint, transhuman evolution and potential metamorphosis into pure quanta & beyond in the form of spectres and other stuff. Really worth the look.

                        The Metal Gear series of games because, while theoretically part of the shooter/black ops millieu, it can get pretty crazy over the top, specially when it comes to boss battles, where you are basically fighting comicbook villains dressed as Die Hard/Bond movie goons. Awesome fare for Elites or the Initiative.
                        Same goes for Half-Life that could be pretty easily the story of a just erupted Nova scientist trying to stop a Doyen infiltration in a Initiative instalation gone dangerously rogue, imho.

                        Ah, and Infamous, that's basically the perfect intro for the world of Aberrant, specially the early months post-Galatea backlash that started it all, how could i forget you?

                        My bits of thought and suggestion, hope you have fun with them.
                        Last edited by Baaldam; 07-15-2014, 01:22 PM.

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                        • #13
                          So doing research for my own game I have started running, I stumbled across this thread and I think it has a lot of really good ideas, that others should see, especially with Aberrant in Kickstarter phase now.

                          Adding to it I'd like to suggest
                          Urban Heroes
                          AMP Year One
                          Champions: The New Millenium
                          Wild Talents
                          Doublecross
                          Gestalt
                          Mutant City Blues

                          In all of these rpgs I found elements that could easily be applied to aberrant with their own scenarios based on the chronicle you want to run in Aberrant. I hope others can add to the thread too, as I think this is a great resource from the comments already above.

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