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  • Max Mercer, what's his deal?

    In the same vein as Eldagusto's Divis Mal thread (all due respect), i invite all posters to throw their two cents in on Maxwell Anderson Mercer. Founder of the Aeon Society, philanthropist and time-traveller. Who was this man of pulp mystery? How did his unique powers work? What effects did his actions (or lack thereof) have on (secret) history? How do we use him as a non-player character? And can you think of any more questions? Because you can ask them too.
    I've started this thread to avoid further debasing Eldagusto's thread, which i consider an excellent source for understanding Donighal, having linked it to at least two interested parties already. Anything related to Max A. Mercer will be welcome.

    Ian Watson's just posted this to the above mentioned thread, so i've moved it onto a clear space for deeper discussion and used it as a conversation starter:

    Originally posted by IanWatson View Post
    The story of Mercer's time travel which I put in the ST Handbook was something developed by the original crew; I think Elizabeth D. Brooks was specifically the one who came up with it, but Bruce agreed with it. Part of my goal with the STH was to take a lot of these bits which the team had planned and discussed and put them in a public place for the fans to use.
    Interesting that Baugh was happy with bifurcation, did he make any more specific comments? I suppose that precludes my hope for a secret cheat-sheet between the original developers, do you happen to know at what stage in the series development the doors for M.M.'s time travel were swung open? I don't remember anything from the 2120s Aeon/Trinity material before TerraVerde on my part, so i wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't laid in with the foundations. I know you weren't personally there, but i figure it's worth asking...

    Originally posted by IanWatson View Post
    While the flashpoint was the Venezuelan Phenomenon, remember that Max can only (or at least "most easily") travel to periods with a substantial amount of subquantum flux: most notably the Hammersmith event, WWII, N-Day, the end of the Aberrant War, and the Venezuelan Phenomenon. So jumping forward from the Aberrant War to get a peek at humanity's future, he bifurcates: one lands in the 2120s as expected, sees humanity prospering, and returns to his own time to found a more peaceful, hopeful Aeon Society, as depicted in Adventure! and Trinity. The other Max bounces back, and comes to the conclusion that the trip failed because the world has been destroyed. He creates a more pessimistic Aeon, more geared toward damage control, as depicted in Aberrant.
    Care to elaborate on 'subquantum flux'? I am aware of the Noetics TFR material so there's no need to take me all the way through those details, if they're even pertinent. I'm just trying to understand where your sci-fi terminology fits in with the other 'subquantum' lore i'm drawing upon. I think flashpoints are mentioned in the 'What we Know' document.
    So, instead of a parrallel time-line being created, a parrallel Max is? Does it follow that the Max convinced of no future was a kind of unapologetic tyrant, then? A villain Max for 2008, or was it more complicated? It must have been agonizing for Max to finally embrace interventionism, what other changes would you have expected from this temporally locked-in Mercer? Can this Max interact with the other instances of himself, like the elder Max from 1942 who appears on his own maiden voyage? If so, why wasn't this problem addressed by many Max's (what is the official plural form of Max, anyway?) in silver-age/pulp style? If contacting these chronological seperate instaces of himself was now off the table for investigative purposes, why?
    Are these actually two distinct timelines? Can one travel in conventional means (ageing) from 1920 to 2120 and still hit all three settings along the way, or is there a different way the Aberrant era could have gone nestled in there somewhere? The implications of this could be enormous, given the War of 2049-2061 is so threadbare in details - there is enough room for the whole thing to have been fabricated prior to 2120, potentially Orwelling (not a verb, i know) the future setting material.
    I could ask even more too, is there anyway i/we could get in contact with Elizabeth D. Brooks for that purpose? The idea merits discussion; a fear-driven, lawful-evil, nova-hating Alter-Max is just too much pulp fun to discount out of hand (please tell me he grows a goatee).
    ...
    Regardless, it would be revealing to hear whether the OPP team is taking a branching (Everetts Many Worlds Interpretation) or indivisible (fatalistic, eternalist) timeline approach on this matter. Simply so this thread can have a framework to use without rendering itself irrelevant to the new development team.
    ...
    Personally i had my own diagrams to explain Mercer's travels, which is why i rejected the idea of bifurcation - i decided the "Aeon" centuries (1922-2122) weren't capable of being divided into seperate timelines due to a sub-effect of the Hammersmith/Venezuela temporal poles that also made it unlikely bifurcation would be possible. The Aeon years as a kind of altered universal state of physics, not unlike those proposed by Vernor Vinge in his 'Fire in the Sky'. As far as i was concerned, the STH had stood on my toes there, but that makes it no less valid.
    -shrug-

    Originally posted by IanWatson View Post
    So ultimately it was just a way to explain why the Aeon Societies of Adventure!/Trinity and Aberrant seem very different, when ostensibly Max is still in charge either directly or indirectly in every era. When your founder can time travel, you expect that if your organization is up to some shifty business, the founder will ultimately know about it. If he doesn't stop you, it must be because he approves -- or even started the shifty business in the first place.
    The two presentations suffered a kind of disconnect, that's for sure. Since you corrected my thinking that this was a philosophical divide between Bates and Baugh, where do you gather this discrepency came from behind the scenes? The WoD books all fit together pretty well in the lore department, what changed for the Trinity Universe? I'm not looking for pointed fingers, just an idea of how this was possible.
    Max is still human, despite all the hymns and praises heaped upon him by the books - he can make mistakes and is likely a product of his time (at least to start with), but he has a 'magic' safeguard against making irreversible errors. How much Max sees and ignores is not only a question that goes to his character, but also to the very setting, given his influence over it. At every stage in this series, we are meant to be able to beleive that Mercer's vision and hand are active, meaning the worst of Proteus' crimes, the Aberrant War, WWII, the coming of the Doyen and other calamities were all sanctioned or unavoidable (i don't trust the Doyen at all, smells like Babylon 5 style galactic war to me, i had the Zepp archeaology leading to contact with Quantum inversions of the Doyen in my own head-canon).

    Originally posted by IanWatson View Post
    Now with the Trinity Continuum, things work sufficiently differently that we won't need to rely on this explanation. Aeon will be more cohesive throughout each era, the flashpoints are different, and time travel doesn't work exactly the same because of reasons.
    Reasons?
    Because of... reasons?!
    Are you holding up a pretty bauble just out of reach on purpose here? You cruel fiend, either elaborate or tell us why you can't... The waiting is agonizing enough as it stands. ...Reasons!
    -smile-
    Thanks for the insight Ian, apologies for getting pedantic on where it was posted. I hope you aren't too restricted by 'reasons' to join in, as a long time bibliographer you can offer much more than just your dev credentials on the subject.
    Last thing before i let you go, what are your own personal influences when it comes to Max Mercer and Time Travel? I'm looking for fiction, non-fiction, thinkers, theories, instincts and anything else you are willing to offer here (i'll even take music and recipes). Share the zeitgiest ecology which you are taking into this process, if you will.
    Hopefully that much won't violate any 'reasons'. -tease-

    I'm sure the time travel part of this conversation will take up a lot of space, but i'm also interested in the other sides to this complex character. Some issues i'm hoping to bring up are Max and Whitley's email exchange from TerraVerde p26 circa 2122, the lineage of Michael Mercer, the events leading to the second world war and the war itself, how Max ages and his personal linear timeview along with much more as it hops into mind.
    Thanks for reading.
    Last edited by Nihilist; 04-02-2015, 03:04 PM. Reason: Because of reasons. Reasons, i say!

  • #2
    Originally posted by Nihilist View Post
    Interesting that Baugh was happy with bifurcation, did he make any more specific comments? I suppose that precludes my hope for a secret cheat-sheet between the original developers, do you happen to know at what stage in the series development the doors for M.M.'s time travel were swung open? I don't remember anything from the 2120s Aeon/Trinity material before TerraVerde on my part, so i wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't laid in with the foundations. I know you weren't personally there, but i figure it's worth asking...
    As far as I know it was created during or after Terra Verde once Bruce had taken over from Andrew, following the release of Adventure! when everyone was a little more sure of how everythign worked. To the best of my recollection, everything on the bifurcated Max topic (at least, everything they discussed with me) is in the Trinity ST Handbook.

    Care to elaborate on 'subquantum flux'?
    Psions (the particles) are "subquantum" particles. I use subquantum flux as a shorthand to talk about periods of heightened activity in the quantum/noetic fields.

    So, instead of a parrallel time-line being created, a parrallel Max is?
    No; Max's bifurcation and his subsequent actions create alternate timelines, which were dubbed "World 1" and "World 2." But since he essentially created them, you can't really discuss the timelines without discuss Max and his actions.

    Does it follow that the Max convinced of no future was a kind of unapologetic tyrant, then? A villain Max for 2008, or was it more complicated?
    Far more complicated.

    Imagine your best friend goes mad and you have to restrain him for his own good. Imagine you're the one who has to make the decision on whether or not to give him a lobotomy.

    He cares deeply; he was just forced to make some very difficult decisions given his flawed knowledge of humanity's future. He knew things were going to suck, he just wanted to make sure it sucked as little as possible for everyone involved. Unfortunately, with our outside perspective, we know that time travel doesn't make one omniscient, and ultimately the decisions he made may have exacerbated the problem.

    It must have been agonizing for Max to finally embrace interventionism, what other changes would you have expected from this temporally locked-in Mercer?
    He wasn't locked in; his timeline (World 2) just turned out differently. It was pretty much his first voyage through time where he made the decision on what to do to guide humanity, so when Max 2 founded the Aeon Society in 1923, it was perhaps not as hopeful as its World 1 counterpart. Max 2 can certainly interact with other Maxes travelling from different points in time, but with the exception of that first Max on his initial voyage, they've all made the same decision on how best to guide humanity.

    Are these actually two distinct timelines? Can one travel in conventional means (ageing) from 1920 to 2120 and still hit all three settings along the way, or is there a different way the Aberrant era could have gone nestled in there somewhere? The implications of this could be enormous, given the War of 2049-2061 is so threadbare in details - there is enough room for the whole thing to have been fabricated prior to 2120, potentially Orwelling (not a verb, i know) the future setting material.
    It's two timelines. Maybe World-1's Aberrant era didn't have a Proteus, or its Proteus took a different form. Maybe there was no sterilization program. There are plenty of ways it could have gone.

    I shudder to think of what the Aberrant War of World-2 would end up being like.

    In any case, for my purposes this is all academic, since the Trinity Continuum is a different thing entirely.

    I could ask even more too, is there anyway i/we could get in contact with Elizabeth D. Brooks for that purpose?
    If you can track her down, sure, but bear in mind this is 15 years ago. I might be wrong about who came up with the idea. She might not remember any of what she came up with. I know it's exciting, but for a lot of people it's ancient history. I did the Trinity ST Handbook in 2003; if I hadn't gone back to reference it periodically, I'd barely remember what's in there either.

    Regardless, it would be revealing to hear whether the OPP team is taking a branching (Everetts Many Worlds Interpretation) or indivisible (fatalistic, eternalist) timeline approach on this matter. Simply so this thread can have a framework to use without rendering itself irrelevant to the new development team.
    Please see CHILL's What We Know So Far document.

    The two presentations suffered a kind of disconnect, that's for sure. Since you corrected my thinking that this was a philosophical divide between Bates and Baugh, where do you gather this discrepency came from behind the scenes? The WoD books all fit together pretty well in the lore department, what changed for the Trinity Universe? I'm not looking for pointed fingers, just an idea of how this was possible.
    See the RPGnet thread Aeon Trinity 2.0: Hopes & Fears. Bates makes a lot of comments there. Ken Cliffe designed the supers game which became Aberrant first. Then Bates created Trinity, basing Aberrants on the novas of that presentation. Then as Aberrant was developed further, a lot of what Bates had been using as a reference was altered. The Aberrant we got was not the Aberrant that is assumed by Trinity. Because of its different direction, he passed on developing it, but then came back to co-develop Adventure!. So Adventure! and Trinity were both developed with one direction and intent in mind, while Aberrant was done with another.

    Max is still human, despite all the hymns and praises heaped upon him by the books - he can make mistakes and is likely a product of his time (at least to start with), but he has a 'magic' safeguard against making irreversible errors. How much Max sees and ignores is not only a question that goes to his character, but also to the very setting, given his influence over it. At every stage in this series, we are meant to be able to beleive that Mercer's vision and hand are active, meaning the worst of Proteus' crimes, the Aberrant War, WWII, the coming of the Doyen and other calamities were all sanctioned or unavoidable (i don't trust the Doyen at all, smells like Babylon 5 style galactic war to me, i had the Zepp archeaology leading to contact with Quantum inversions of the Doyen in my own head-canon).
    Max is one man, and can only be in one place at a time. He can only know so much, and only control so much. He has a great deal of influence, but he's not omniscient, and he's not perfect. How much he knows and what was sanctioned by him are entirely up to you.

    WWII and the Aberrant War were probably too big to be averted, although the Aberrant War was mitigated as much as possible. Max understood that WWII was probably a necessary evil, but I don't see him just sitting idly by. He and Aeon were probably busy stopping any surviving Inspired villains who were building giant mechanoids, mutated Ubermensch programs, mind-controlled spider armies, and so on. If you want to think of Aeon as the Howling Commandos trying to stop HYDRA, you'd be on the right track. WWII was bad, but it could have been worse.

    Reasons?
    Because of... reasons?!
    Are you holding up a pretty bauble just out of reach on purpose here?
    I'm doing it because of reasons.

    Last thing before i let you go, what are your own personal influences when it comes to Max Mercer and Time Travel? I'm looking for fiction, non-fiction, thinkers, theories, instincts and anything else you are willing to offer here (i'll even take music and recipes). Share the zeitgiest ecology which you are taking into this process, if you will.
    With the caveat that I haven't read it since its release, you might enjoy Mayfair/TSR's Chronomancer. for AD&D 2e. Also Aetherco's magnificent (and wonderfully named) C°NTINUUM: Roleplaying in the Yet.



    Ian A. A. Watson
    Onyx Path Community Manager
    Trinity Continuum Lead Developer

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    • #3
      Originally posted by IanWatson View Post
      He wasn't locked in; his timeline (World 2) just turned out differently. It was pretty much his first voyage through time where he made the decision on what to do to guide humanity, so when Max 2 founded the Aeon Society in 1923, it was perhaps not as hopeful as its World 1 counterpart. Max 2 can certainly interact with other Maxes travelling from different points in time, but with the exception of that first Max on his initial voyage, they've all made the same decision on how best to guide humanity.

      It's two timelines. Maybe World-1's Aberrant era didn't have a Proteus, or its Proteus took a different form. Maybe there was no sterilization program. There are plenty of ways it could have gone.

      I shudder to think of what the Aberrant War of World-2 would end up being like.
      Oh jeez, two timelines, one for Adventure and Trinity and another for Aberrant. Gawds, no wonder things were so confused. Everything I saw seemed to emphasize that all three games were in the same timeline. I didn't even see a hint of Aberrant being in its own timeline.

      Originally posted by IanWatson View Post
      In any case, for my purposes this is all academic, since the Trinity Continuum is a different thing entirely.
      Yeah, I'm really eager to see the final product for the new Continuum if all three games will be narratively unified. Can't wait.



      Complete Garou Gifts List, Fera Gifts List, Garou Totems List and other assorted OPP/White Wolf goodies

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Su-tehp View Post

        Oh jeez, two timelines, one for Adventure and Trinity and another for Aberrant. Gawds, no wonder things were so confused. Everything I saw seemed to emphasize that all three games were in the same timeline. I didn't even see a hint of Aberrant being in its own timeline.
        It was a mostly after-the-fact explanation, not something which came up during the bulk of development. So you wouldn't have seen any indications in the published books.


        Ian A. A. Watson
        Onyx Path Community Manager
        Trinity Continuum Lead Developer

        Comment


        • #5
          It's been a while, but i finally found the courage to climb this mountain of riches. Armed with all related references, but sorely lacking in my Adventure! lore still.

          Originally posted by IanWatson View Post

          As far as I know it was created during or after Terra Verde once Bruce had taken over from Andrew, following the release of Adventure! when everyone was a little more sure of how everythign worked. To the best of my recollection, everything on the bifurcated Max topic (at least, everything they discussed with me) is in the Trinity ST Handbook.
          That seems to permanently refute my head-canon that Hector Ramirez from Darkness Revealed was actually Mercer putting on a Sudamerican accent. A true 'Master' of pulp Disguise.
          -smile-
          I ruefully figured this out shortly after reading Adventure! and seeing the time-travel suspicion for Max Mercer confirmed, time travel needs to be laid in the foundations of a story to really fly. It was a little too late for that by then - although it took me years to personally settle on that opinion.
          So, is this commentary on bifurcated Max by Baugh, written into the body text itself or separate in the little editor red-notes? Perhaps i'm reading your statement wrong, i just get interested in anything Baugh or Bates have to say on the topic.
          -shrug-

          Psions (the particles) are "subquantum" particles. I use subquantum flux as a shorthand to talk about periods of heightened activity in the quantum/noetic fields.
          Thanks! I'm rather invested to hear some of the sub-quantum jargon you guys will come up with for this, whether Psions and Quantum particles can interact, how they interact and a some indication of how they fit into the standard model, it's a tantalizing sci-fi avenue unique to the setting when Hammersmith and Venezeula/Process-418 are considered. But it's also fraught in the perils of emergent science-fiction, so as much feedback as possible could be helpful to you if you haven't any particle physicists onboard. -shrug-
          I'm nearly certain you have an abundance of reasons for not discussing Max in relation to these 'Noetic' details, but a mechanism (if not a true answer) for Mercer's unique type of exposure in this vein would be fascinating even if you refuse to clarify your (jargon) terms on the matter.
          -smile-

          No; Max's bifurcation and his subsequent actions create alternate timelines, which were dubbed "World 1" and "World 2." But since he essentially created them, you can't really discuss the timelines without discuss Max and his actions.
          I re-read this material before posting, i'm still frustrated by the way that it seals off a third (or more) of the greater setting into an alternate timeline, but it does make sense, although Mercer's personal and linear perception of time could have used some more detailing to flesh it out a bit (that was my approach to Max). The two timelines make sense out of Max at an expense to the setting itself, it sequesters material out, and while what it adds is strong - the sacrifice is greater. At least to the way i had been running things - trying to bring all three settings into a solid historical narrative.
          Just my two cents, but it remains a boldly fun part of the overall STH as a read.

          Far more complicated.
          Imagine your best friend goes mad and you have to restrain him for his own good. Imagine you're the one who has to make the decision on whether or not to give him a lobotomy.
          He cares deeply; he was just forced to make some very difficult decisions given his flawed knowledge of humanity's future. He knew things were going to suck, he just wanted to make sure it sucked as little as possible for everyone involved. Unfortunately, with our outside perspective, we know that time travel doesn't make one omniscient, and ultimately the decisions he made may have exacerbated the problem.
          One of the problems with Max as a supporting NPC or even a leading meta-plot figure is his difficult to intuit mind, so sympathizing with him gets very little traction when so much he does outside of the admittedly rich Adventure! material on him can be seen in so many shades. I don't know how to take his feelings about Donighal by the Aberrant Era (presuming the Max of this era had even experienced the battle with Primoris in his own perception of time), there is just too much uncertainty to think of Max in such human terms.
          This could sound cruel or lacking empathy, but i do understand the humanity of Max' ordeals based simply on my own attempts at navigating his time travails. It's not a fun or easy process for him, at least to begin, young Max is sympathetic and human in Adventure!. But using his Aeon Society as a lensing effect to view Mercer's influence on the future eras isn't as flattering a depiction of the man.
          If i'm reading it right you have this fate-haunted, mirror of world one's Max starting a different Aeon society to ultimately guard against the fate he has 'perceived' - but he is surrounded with folks like Primoris and Dixon and potentially can even confer with versions of himself from further down his own timeline (e.g. elder Max from before the battle with Primoris, henceforth known as Tutorial Max). Are all of these sources incapable of assisting? Is the Max of world two heading for the disaster he imagined from the onset or is there wiggle room into a world #2 c.2120? Is there any hope for World #2?
          Max can be sympathetic, i don't deny it - but he is also far too opaque to fully throw in with. More of the Max from the Adventure! setting material could have fixed this effortlessly, that Max is a smooth devil with the proverbial heart of gold and uncomplicated world view. His silence upon the two later settings is deafening, clearly this was due to the games coming out in an anti-chronological order - but it did no favours for his overall moral character. After the Divis Mal thread, i would even venture as far as saying Donighal is more sympathetic than Max post Adventure!.

          He wasn't locked in; his timeline (World 2) just turned out differently.
          But he can't reach 2120? He is locked out, but not locked in? They are up until that point 'unlocked' in their travelling, but the attempt forces both timelines into separate certainty, 'locking' the second Max behind the 2061+ barrier - which Max (maybe incorrectly) assumes implies something important (the earth, time, the universe) breaks thereafter. Did he not just try to live through the terminator to see if he could travel back from past it?

          It was pretty much his first voyage through time where he made the decision on what to do to guide humanity, so when Max 2 founded the Aeon Society in 1923, it was perhaps not as hopeful as its World 1 counterpart. Max 2 can certainly interact with other Maxes travelling from different points in time, but with the exception of that first Max on his initial voyage, they've all made the same decision on how best to guide humanity.
          This was all on his maiden voyage (or close to)? Damn, i did it completely differently - pity because i would have used this if i could have - just to save myself the work.
          So Max 2's many-Max' are still around, but they are predicated on his timeline so none can pierce the 2061 terminator barrier. That would make for a chilling conversation, especially since some of the older Maxi (e.g. Tutorial Max) were probably retroactively redefined by the act of that first attempt to cross the terminator.
          Meanwhile, first Max in world #1 retains his other selves too and remains blissfully unaware of the parallel timeline he is stuck in. It's compelling stuff, despite my objections above - i'm so glad you made it available.

          It's two timelines. Maybe World-1's Aberrant era didn't have a Proteus, or its Proteus took a different form. Maybe there was no sterilization program. There are plenty of ways it could have gone.
          I shudder to think of what the Aberrant War of World-2 would end up being like.
          In any case, for my purposes this is all academic, since the Trinity Continuum is a different thing entirely.
          The idea of filling in a setting worth of information appeals to me in a way, since Aeon was all do-it-yourself after its publishing run and i ran with that freedom. Proteus is still a division of the Trinity in 2120, so there are still some inferences there at least. Our lead developer shuddering to imagine a possibility? Surely you have staff for that now. -smile-
          Understood, all academic pre-OPP considerations, but that's still all we actually have past the 'What we Know' document you link to. Thanks for writing as much as you did, i was expecting a much less informative reply (because of reasons) - my sincerest apologies for doubting you.

          If you can track her down, sure, but bear in mind this is 15 years ago. I might be wrong about who came up with the idea. She might not remember any of what she came up with. I know it's exciting, but for a lot of people it's ancient history. I did the Trinity ST Handbook in 2003; if I hadn't gone back to reference it periodically, I'd barely remember what's in there either.
          Emphasis added. This is probably the best advice i've had since signing on here, nearly all of this stuff is a decade old - i'm just excited to see so many contributors about. Don't be afraid to bring out the buckets of ice water, i'm sure i'll calm down. I wish i had seen the STH earlier, i could have adapted to bifurcation back in 2005 and earlier...

          Please see CHILL's What We Know So Far document.
          One day, i'll post something in-depth that doesn't require you to point me back here at some stage in your reply. Mark my words...
          So not only are these settings different by genre and time, now there may be actual branching timelines dividing them too? I picture an Aberrant setting stretching into the 2100s and further, maybe even starting as far back as Hammersmith or further - but that can't be right, why place so much emphasis on the Trinity Eras new start date (est.2122) if the settings are going to encompass whole timelines?
          You've tactfully raised a lot of questions without ever answering mine directly, i get the impression you are dancing rings around me here. -smile-


          See the RPGnet thread Aeon Trinity 2.0: Hopes & Fears.
          This is a huge thread, full of completely unrelated posts, but you won't bury me that easily.
          -reads entire thread-
          The best comments from Bates (for my money, anyway) are made on page #19 for anyone else reading.

          Bates makes a lot of comments there. Ken Cliffe designed the supers game which became Aberrant first. Then Bates created Trinity, basing Aberrants on the novas of that presentation. Then as Aberrant was developed further, a lot of what Bates had been using as a reference was altered. The Aberrant we got was not the Aberrant that is assumed by Trinity. Because of its different direction, he passed on developing it, but then came back to co-develop Adventure!. So Adventure! and Trinity were both developed with one direction and intent in mind, while Aberrant was done with another.
          Thanks for pointing this out, those are some of the most candid comments i've ever read about the development process behind the setting. With a sourced quote from Bates to back it up - if i wanted to argue the point you would have just made it very difficult for me. This has been hearsay for me for over a decade and you cut through the mystique with one link and supporting paragraph.
          -standing ovation-
          As an afterthought, i liked Bates' Coalition invasion - sounds like fun.

          Max is one man, and can only be in one place at a time. He can only know so much, and only control so much. He has a great deal of influence, but he's not omniscient, and he's not perfect. How much he knows and what was sanctioned by him are entirely up to you.
          I think i am getting a good idea of the stack of 'reasons' you have to contend with, but just based on the STH telling, how did you see his 'Chronal Awareness' working narratively? He can be in two places at one time (Tutorial Max) and there is an undeniable element of 'Gary-stuedom' going on in the Adventure! material - although i always read that 'perfection' as a homage to early 20th century dime-novels and boys/girls adventure stories. The ghost-writers transcribing Aeon member tales into their periodicals and trying to make their money-bags boss sound (suspiciously) great in the hope of being noticed.
          Max is an entirely blank slate in the future eras, his knowledge, perfection (or lack thereof) and influence are all elevated into deus ex machina - merged into the Aeon organization as a kind of faceless animator. He loses the netted sympathy from Adventure! while Donighal, as twisted and broken as he gets simply becomes more sympathetic (again, using some of Lustral_Star's interpretations at least). Hell, i even tend to see Gettel and the independant villains of Adventure! as more sympathetic than Mercer's Aeon at times upon reflection.
          It should probably be noted that i instinctively recoil from monolithic self-appointed authorities like Aeon in most fiction, so i will always see darkness, even if there is none to be seen. But if you could go back in time to inform yourself of potential image disasters and other historical problems, the only reason you wouldn't is because of conscious agency on your future self's part. So the evidence available is (presumably) being doctored seamlessly to support any perspective Max chooses, which adds an even darker shade to the depths of Project Rewrite. Again, too Orwellian and opaque to be ignored - i had a hard time seeing Max Mercer, by proxy of Aeon, as anything but a closeted villain in the future settings, which clashed with the more noble vision of him out of Adventure!.

          WWII and the Aberrant War were probably too big to be averted, although the Aberrant War was mitigated as much as possible. Max understood that WWII was probably a necessary evil, but I don't see him just sitting idly by. He and Aeon were probably busy stopping any surviving Inspired villains who were building giant mechanoids, mutated Ubermensch programs, mind-controlled spider armies, and so on. If you want to think of Aeon as the Howling Commandos trying to stop HYDRA, you'd be on the right track. WWII was bad, but it could have been worse.
          Sounds like fun, but do i have to be the party pooper that points out the holocaust going on at the time? Surely the mind-controlled spiders could be allowed to take a city or two while the concentration camps were liberated? Oversight, perhaps? (Evidence of a Walt Disney style, pro-Nazi Max, bonus points for goatee?)
          But who cares about that shit? Goof-ball Adventure! Aeon is the most innocent and inversely respectable of its incarnations. I can get down with that golden age type of interpretation, although i might work in some Hellboy style Nazis for maximum re-usability in future eras. Some deconstruction would be welcome too, after all the Adventure! setting was where we all first met dramatic editing in the series - which inevitably leads to (at least some) genre-awareness.
          How does Max explain the disasters he lets slip by to his contemporaries? Was this the cause of the disagreement that lead to the battle with Primoris after Annabelle Lee Neufield died (excuse my poor understanding of Adventure! if i have the chronology of this mixed up)? Should i have spoiler-tagged that? Are we all meant to just accept Max' judgement on what is and isn't meant to be? I can honestly see why Donighal wanted to thump him by that stage, with all these questions.

          I'm doing it because of reasons.
          Don't get me started!
          Truly though, it's great to have you about to chat just about the bits that catch your eye. I know you have to be careful about what you say, but you've schooled me on Trinity since i got here despite your restrictions, so your posts are informative to put it mildly.

          ...Reasons!

          With the caveat that I haven't read it since its release, you might enjoy Mayfair/TSR's Chronomancer. for AD&D 2e. Also Aetherco's magnificent (and wonderfully named) C°NTINUUM: Roleplaying in the Yet.

          Damn, Chronomancer.
          -nostalgic grin-
          It's been years since i've seen that thing, with the time-plane that had strings stretching forward and backwards into infinity, i think? I may be able to get my hands on a copy of this for a look in over the next year...
          Never heard of C°NTINUUM before, but from what i read in a brief search it made me seriously consider shelling out just for a peek - but i can't really justify the expenditure just to reply to a forum post, no matter how meaty the subject matter.
          So, instead i'll just assume that these influences are a not-so-subtle finger pointing at time-travel mechanics being thought about from the earliest moments of system conception. To which i must say; bravo and well played sir. As long as the groundwork is laid into the foundations, i can look forward to a setting where time travel comes down off the shelf for actual PCs to fiddle with. Although i can't see how this would figure into the primary 'Trinity' settings as you commonly refer to as the three pillars to begin with, i can definitely see it figuring into future releases.
          Am i reading too far into your enjoyment of time-travel themed (but completely unrelated) role-playing games?
          Thanks again for the insightful post Ian, apologies for the delay in response - you gave me a lot to digest.
          Last edited by Nihilist; 04-14-2015, 01:40 AM. Reason: Nothing to see here, move along...

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          • #6
            I don't really think you need two Maxwell Mercers (or bifurcated timelines) to explain what happened. Really, you can explain the changes in the Aeon Society purely though the society's evolution through the years, in reaction to various events (and the limits of time travelling).

            Almost from day one, the Aeon Society (back in the Adventure! - Mercer Society for Gentlemen days) starts out as an alliance of two factions of superpowered beings. Maxwell's supporters, who are altruistic humanitarians big on Spiderman's Dictum, and Doneghal's transhumanist followers, who believe they're the vanguard of a new form of humanity. Both groups are pro-humanity, and pro-Earth, but have very differing takes on what their powers are for.

            But following two betrayals by the transhumanist faction (most notably the Dr. Primoris incident), the remaining transhumanists would have been deeply stigmatized in the Aeon Society. And once Mercer starts going on temporal "sabbaticals", and bringing back stories of the devastation of the Aberrant War, coupled with his lack of supervision. . . As the years go on, and more and more mundanes have to be brought in to replace aging/dying Inspired, the stigma becomes a shunning, which becomes an outright enmity towards any superpowered being who isn't an Aeon Society member. And god help one who espouses transhumanist ideals. By the time of N-Day, generations later, they'd have been seen as outright enemies, blood traitors who deserve no consideration or human rights.

            And the Aeon Society - at least the inner circles that know about Maxwell - are pretty much a textbook case of India Syndrome (the tendency of mundanes to worship superpowered beings as gods). Whether by accident or not, Mercer's . . . well, he's pretty much founded a religion. He's laid down an ethical code for his followers, given them prophecies about the future . . . there's even a millenialist component, with Mercer's warnings about the apocalyptic Aberrant War.

            Just imagine it would be like for them, as Mercer's warnings and advice about the future keep coming true. And then picture how they'd react, when Mercer himself shows up every couple of decades, looking completely unaged, with even more prophecies . . .

            For this cult of Mercer, their faith justifies all of their actions. They have to have Proteus, and the death camps, and the bioweapons . . . .the Aberrant War is coming. And the Aeon Society will be Mercer's sword and shield against the rampaging novas. They have to be strong enough, powerful enough, to defend humanity in this apocalyptic war. Because Mercer has promised them that, if they succeed, the faithful of Aeon will lead humanity into a new golden age of peace and prosperity. If a few of those freaky novas have to be chopped up in the meantime, for the good of humanity and Mercer, so be it.

            And when Divis Mal, the great traitor, the Ancient Enemy who betrayed Mercer and the holy cause of the Aeon Society returns . . . His Null Manifesto would be seen as a clarion call for holy war, a call to arms for the faithful, a warning that the time of the Great War is at hand

            Of course, in the aftermath, the cult of Mercer would feel fully vindicated. True believers, they'd overlook their own part in provoking the war (and making it worse). And they'd feel fully justified in seizing records, teaching the survivors an Aeon-approved version of history. After all, Mercer told them that it would be Aeon's responsibility to lead the recovery, to rebuild the world into something better. And with the novas - great enemy of humanity - routed, there'd be no need for secret death camps or the like. They could leave their "necessary evils" behind, and focus on a hopeful future, where humanity finally achieves an earthly paradise, all under the benevolent gaze of the Aeon Society.
            Last edited by One Vorlon; 04-24-2015, 12:08 AM.

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            • #7
              As for why Mercer doesn't intervene . . . well, assuming Mercer is bound by the same rules as nova time travelers, his ability to rewrite history is limited. When hundreds of thousands - or even millions - of people are all working towards the same goal (even unwittingly), its hard for one man to force them to change course. And (according to the Aberrant Player's Guide), his own presence at events like the Holocaust or the Aberrant War tends to lock them in as fixed events, unalterable by anyone.

              That doesn't mean he hasn't tried. In fact, given what we know of Mercer's philosophy of altruistic humanitarianism, I imagine he's tried a lot. There are a lot of odd coincidences throughout the game's timeline, and many of them may well be because of him. It wouldn't surprise me at all to learn that he's responsible for the Proteus sterilization project (a very 1920s idea - and one that would limit the number of novas available to fight in the Aberrant War), for example. Nor would it surprise me to learn that he tipped off Slider about Proteus, when he realized it was going off the deep end. I could even see him going to Divis Mal, in the hopes that his old friend's techniques can help stave off the rise of Taint-maddened novas.

              But to truly change events, and not just tweak the body count, he'd have to do something big. Something so huge, history can't just find an alternate path to get there. Something on par with Watchmen (comic or movie), where the superheroes destroy an entire city to avert a nuclear war. And anything big enough to stop a world war (II or Aberrant), is going to generate serious side effects.

              And who knows? Maybe he already tried (with World War II). I've seen it argued that nuking Nagasaki and Hiroshima drastically shortened the war, and (possibly) saved millions of lives. Through the Aeon Society, Mercer's got the connections to slip the Manhattan Project some "suggestions", and to help "advise" Truman to order the bombing . . . If so, his actions there had major, major consequences for the entire world. Its understandable that he'd be hesitant to do anything so drastic again.

              And to truly stop the Aberrant War from happening, Mercer would have two very ugly choices to pick from, both of which would hit very close to home. Either he has to kill his best friend, Divis Mal, before he triggers N-Day (creating all of those super-powerful, taint-prone novas). Or he has to destroy the Aeon Society, his life's work, to stop Proteus and ensure Divis Mal's smooth rise to power (which would result in widespread use of the Chrysalis, and a plethora of stable novas on hand to stop the handful who lost control)..

              Given what we know about Mercer, I don't think he'd be able to bring himself to do either. He strikes me as the kind of person who fervently believes he can find a third option, that he can keep both Mal and Aeon and stop the Aberrant War. And he probably continued to believe that, right up until he passed the point of no return and the Aberrant War became inevitable. In fact, I can even see him interfering with others trying to stop the war, in order to protect them. After all, he created Aeon. Surely he can fix it!
              Last edited by One Vorlon; 04-25-2015, 01:23 AM.

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              • #8
                I like your Mercer, Vorlon.

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                • #9
                  a possible alternative, is that as Mercer traveled time, he encountered the Doyen. they read his mind, and rewrote it to suit their own goals. they used him, and thus the Aeon society, to conquer our world by proxy. because they are desperate to stop the aberrant, the nova, the quantum. perhaps its not even Mercer anymore, but a Doyen brain in his body, like an old story by Lovecraft.

                  that 'cult of Mercer' idea sounds pretty solid, actually. in the end a lot depends on how the mechanics of time travel work in-setting.

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                  • #10
                    My personal version of events is not too different from the Vorlon's. I always pictured Max coming across Proteus later on in the line (perhaps too late for him to fix it without making a decision he was not prepared to make) and regarding it with a quiet, "What have you done?"


                    Most of Aeon and Project Utopia was in the dark about that business, and goodness knows that those in charge (his own granddaughter chief among them) of those decisions would be familiar enough with their optimistic founder's reputation to know he would not approve of such a draconian interpretation of his guidance and warnings. The discovery must have been truly heartbreaking; instead of noting the considerable contributions of novas (Ethiopia, the various diseases cured and crises resolved) and dedicating all of their efforts to working with them to help them identify, study, and counter the side effects of what would be called Taint, they viewed novas as an outside-context problem that needed to be managed. Perhaps worst of all, his best friend, whom he loved as a brother and for whom he had even named his own son, had fully become a transhumanist monster (I see Max clinging to "I just need to make him see reason" til his dying day) and the group he had built on the unity and progress of the human race had, in very real ways, proven Michael right.


                    To my mind, this is where the Aeon Trinity mantra of "Hope, Sacrifice, Unity" was truly born, as these were the qualities they had forgotten with Proteus. Aberrants are more than "evil mutants returned from beyond the stars to exact their revenge" in my head; they are a persistent and painful reminder of a time when Aeon lost their way and did the one thing they had been created to avoid: they hated and feared their fellow man for being gifted. Eden, then, would be seen with cautious optimism, a vindication that would show they hadn't destroyed things beyond repair. Depending on how much they know of the Doyen, however, and considering the rather obvious initial public response, they would want to tread carefully.

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                    • #11
                      And not only was most of Aeon and Project Utopia (as well as the rest of the world) in the dark about Proteus, every other missive between Proteus operatives had some line equivalent to "and for god's sake, whatever you do, don't let Mercer find out about this. He's got enough to worry about as it is." Considering that Proteus was working from Day One to keep their existence and agenda hidden from Mercer, it makes sense that Aeon would spin at least partly out of his control, especially since he was absent for long stretches of time. I'm sure that everyone in Proteus considered themselves loyal to Mercer and his vision for humanity, but felt they should take on the burden of the necessary dirty work and keep it secret from Mercer so that he (and Aeon as a whole) wouldn't be tainted by association with such atrocities.

                      In short, I'm sure that Proteus saw themselves as sin-eaters.

                      If any of you have seen The Bourne Legacy, you'll remember the flashback scene where Ric Byer (the Big Bad played by Ed Norton) is talking directly to Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner's character) during the Middle East mission. "Do you know what a sin-eater is? Well, that's what we are. We are the sin-eaters. It means that we take the moral excrement we find in this equation and we bury it down deep inside us so that the rest of our cause can stay pure. That is the job. We are morally indefensible and absolutely necessary."

                      That attitude describes Proteus in a nutshell. I'm sure they felt that they were always loyal to Aeon and Mercer, but felt compelled to do the dirty work that no one else could do, especially if it would keep Mercer from being tainted by association with their black ops agenda.

                      And yeah, I can totally see Mercer's reaction to finding out about Proteus exactly as Drazosh described it.
                      Last edited by Su-tehp; 04-26-2015, 09:03 PM.



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                      • #12
                        That is my interpretation of Proteus as well. In truth, my head canon is based primarily on the fact that I find the MM-Squared explanation somewhat inelegant, but I find it requires fewer logical leaps for me than I would have thought previously.

                        I find it noteworthy (admittedly, with the after-the-fact context that informs my personal view) that, despite Project Rewrite and the efforts to downplay positive nova involvement in history, the story of the Space Brigade remains largely intact. This bizarre little story, incongruously set when their aberrant compatriots are gleefully deconstructing human civilization, shows a group of supermen taking over Olympus and converting it into an island in the storm for all. They avoid killing whenever possible, and leave when the war ends. To me, this honesty is almost apologetic, highlighting "they weren't all bad" without disclosing information that would shatter the Trinity's influence and capacity to rectify their mistakes.

                        Overall, this viewpoint of Max and the inherent goodness of Aeon (minus the one black mark left by Proteus) has served me well in the games I've run over the last decade, but I look forward to seeing how the Continuum reshapes the setting.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Drazosh View Post
                          That is my interpretation of Proteus as well. In truth, my head canon is based primarily on the fact that I find the MM-Squared explanation somewhat inelegant, but I find it requires fewer logical leaps for me than I would have thought previously.
                          I always found the "Bifurcation of Time-traveling Max Mercer" idea not just inelegant but completely silly, especially when everything in the Aeonverse kept emphasizing that all three games were in the same timeline. Aberrant may have been "thematically inconsistent" (or whatever you want to call it) with Adventure and Trinity such that the writers felt they needed this sort of retcon, but I can totally see Proteus arising within the Aeon Society like a cancer and still being consistent with the themes of Adventure and Trinity without the need for such a hokey retcon. I can see it at least in terms of themes like "eternal vigilance" in Trinity because the Aeon Society fucked up so royally before, it highlights how they have to police themselves even more carefully in 2120 so they don't fall to corruption as they so nearly did before. And with the Huang-Marr Conspiracy coming to light, we see that the psions are making exactly the same mistake Aeon did 100 years previously: thinking that the ends of trying to save the human race from extinction justify the means of torture and human experiments. It's a mistake that has been used/seen in numerous sci-fi stories like Wing Commander, Star Trek and others besides.

                          Originally posted by Drazosh View Post
                          I find it noteworthy (admittedly, with the after-the-fact context that informs my personal view) that, despite Project Rewrite and the efforts to downplay positive nova involvement in history, the story of the Space Brigade remains largely intact. This bizarre little story, incongruously set when their aberrant compatriots are gleefully deconstructing human civilization, shows a group of supermen taking over Olympus and converting it into an island in the storm for all. They avoid killing whenever possible, and leave when the war ends. To me, this honesty is almost apologetic, highlighting "they weren't all bad" without disclosing information that would shatter the Trinity's influence and capacity to rectify their mistakes.
                          This is actually a very good revelation. I never thought of such a subtle interpretation of keeping this authentic piece of history in Project Rewrite.

                          Originally posted by Drazosh View Post
                          Overall, this viewpoint of Max and the inherent goodness of Aeon (minus the one black mark left by Proteus) has served me well in the games I've run over the last decade, but I look forward to seeing how the Continuum reshapes the setting.
                          Yeah, Ian has said several times that the Continuum has been/is going to be rewritten such that it won't need "bifurcated Mercer" to keep all three games thematically consistent. I'm very much looking forward to seeing this myself.



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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Su-tehp View Post

                            I always found the "Bifurcation of Time-traveling Max Mercer" idea not just inelegant but completely silly, especially when everything in the Aeonverse kept emphasizing that all three games were in the same timeline. Aberrant may have been "thematically inconsistent" (or whatever you want to call it) with Adventure and Trinity such that the writers felt they needed this sort of retcon, but I can totally see Proteus arising within the Aeon Society like a cancer and still being consistent with the themes of Adventure and Trinity without the need for such a hokey retcon. I can see it at least in terms of themes like "eternal vigilance" in Trinity because the Aeon Society fucked up so royally before, it highlights how they have to police themselves even more carefully in 2120 so they don't fall to corruption as they so nearly did before. And with the Huang-Marr Conspiracy coming to light, we see that the psions are making exactly the same mistake Aeon did 100 years previously: thinking that the ends of trying to save the human race from extinction justify the means of torture and human experiments. It's a mistake that has been used/seen in numerous sci-fi stories like Wing Commander, Star Trek and others besides.



                            This is actually a very good revelation. I never thought of such a subtle interpretation of keeping this authentic piece of history in Project Rewrite.



                            Yeah, Ian has said several times that the Continuum has been/is going to be rewritten such that it won't need "bifurcated Mercer" to keep all three games thematically consistent. I'm very much looking forward to seeing this myself.
                            I try not to pass judgment too hard on writers for the decisions they make; presumably, they had their reasons for feeling it was necessary, although I agree that it wasn't. I had the great honor of running the Aeon Marathon (Adventure, Aberrant, and Trinity, all with related characters), and my viewpoint served me well throughout. It was the most challenging campaign I have ever run in my 15 years of gaming but, my god, was it rewarding.

                            That said, my favorite pulp game, my favorite supers game, and my favorite sci-fi game are all getting a new edition. I can't wait to see how the settings and systems have evolved,

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                            • #15
                              So Max is the Max from the STH's world #2?
                              -tease-

                              Originally posted by One Vorlon View Post
                              Not necessarily. Assuming Mercer's version of time travel is bound by the same rules as the nova form, then his ability to change history is very limited. According to the Aberrant Player's Guide, while a time traveler can rewrite history, history tends to fight back, trying to find "alternate routes" to the same key events. Plus, a time traveler's own presence tends to "lock in" the events, making them even tougher to change.

                              So while Mercer could assassinate Hitler, for example, someone else from his inner circle would have simply seized the reigns of power, continuing World War II and the Holocaust. Same with the Aberrant War, or the rise of Proteus, or . . . .Something subtle or limited in scope won't cut it - he'd have to do something so drastic, history can't simply ignore it.

                              That doesn't mean he isn't trying, though. There are a number of odd coincidences throughout the setting that might be Mercer trying to "fix" things. Just how did Slider get the first hints of Proteus, for example? Or how did Sophia Rousseau know where to reach Corbin? Things like that might well be Mercer trying to limit the body count.
                              There is some suggestion that he is kind of unique, so i don't assume he follows the rules for time-travel given in the Aberrant line, although i did use that as a resource in my own exploration of the character. After-all, that's the only place the series makes time to really go into detail on 'physical' time (at least the quantum perception). But history being complicated to change is a must, since the rest of the system isn't geared for paradox and other time-travel strangeness.
                              I like the suggestions (Slider's discovery, Rousseau's recruitment), but with all due respect to both yourself and the character, i don't feel these novas will need much baseline assistance. Because, chronal awareness aside, Max is just a highly skilled and socially entrenched Paramorph as far as the rules go. Assuming he could offer much to a Rousseau is a bit of presumptous anthro-centrism, Mercer and Donighal's debates are setting mainstays, but to assume Max is still on the same plateau as Divis Mal (or any other substantially post-human nova) in 2008+ is nothing but pulp romance.
                              At least; in my humble opinion, anyway.

                              Originally posted by One Vorlon View Post
                              I don't really think you need two Maxwell Mercers (or bifurcated timelines) to explain what happened. Really, you can explain the changes in the Aeon Society purely though the society's evolution through the years, in reaction to various events (and the limits of time travelling).

                              Almost from day one, the Aeon Society (back in the Adventure! - Mercer Society for Gentlemen days) starts out as an alliance of two factions of superpowered beings. Maxwell's supporters, who are altruistic humanitarians big on Spiderman's Dictum, and Doneghal's transhumanist followers, who believe they're the vanguard of a new form of humanity. Both groups are pro-humanity, and pro-Earth, but have very differing takes on what their powers are for.
                              I too, found the development of the Aeon society as fairly intuitive in that way - the only thing that really stands out is Max still being involved.
                              Interesting postulate about the two factions of Aeon. It's useful for building the history we see, but who of the core Aeon members do you see as being aligned with Donighal? My lookup didn't see anyone that jumped out at me as a transhumanist - maybe Dixon, but he seems to enjoy his smoke and drink too much for that. Due to the message exchange between Max and Whitley Styles circa 2122 (Terra Verde p26), it can be hard to disqualify some type of Transhumanism going on there too. But i'm probably being too literal, i think you are talking about a movement toward social engineering - which Primoris seems to have taken a personal interest in.

                              But following two betrayals by the transhumanist faction (most notably the Dr. Primoris incident), the remaining transhumanists would have been deeply stigmatized in the Aeon Society. And once Mercer starts going on temporal "sabbaticals", and bringing back stories of the devastation of the Aberrant War, coupled with his lack of supervision. . . As the years go on, and more and more mundanes have to be brought in to replace aging/dying Inspired, the stigma becomes a shunning, which becomes an outright enmity towards any superpowered being who isn't an Aeon Society member. And god help one who espouses transhumanist ideals. By the time of N-Day, generations later, they'd have been seen as outright enemies, blood traitors who deserve no consideration or human rights.
                              Two betrayals? Who was the first, Wexler?
                              As far as we know for certain, Max only reveals his Chronal Awareness to the core Aeon members present at the Battle with Primoris in 1943 - i don't believe it ever comes up in the Adventure setting material except Donighal's matter-of-fact pronouncement in his writings (Adventure! p31). So i'd actually trace this back as one of the societies earliest secrets around which many others grew from.
                              The greater influx of mundanes however is something i've considered too - the actual Aeon of 2008 is sparsely detailed, but if Project Utopia is of any indication then the Primoris vision seems much more prevalent, ironically.

                              And the Aeon Society - at least the inner circles that know about Maxwell - are pretty much a textbook case of India Syndrome (the tendency of mundanes to worship superpowered beings as gods). Whether by accident or not, Mercer's . . . well, he's pretty much founded a religion. He's laid down an ethical code for his followers, given them prophecies about the future . . . there's even a millenialist component, with Mercer's warnings about the apocalyptic Aberrant War.

                              Just imagine it would be like for them, as Mercer's warnings and advice about the future keep coming true. And then picture how they'd react, when Mercer himself shows up every couple of decades, looking completely unaged, with even more prophecies . . .
                              So a living founder who shows up to speak for himself and is painstaking in his own record keeping is misinterpreted by his closest 'disciples' despite his own explanations and even presence? That seems a little shaky, but i'll consider the Aeon Society of 1998+ as being hopelessly corrupted from the original course - because the society from Adventure! is a rather different creature entirely.
                              The dates given in the 'Chronal Awareness' box (Adventure! p232) mention the N-Day effect of 1998 as one of the moments Max can most easily travel to along with 2061 at the traditional end date of the war, as Max is seen to co-exist and even learn from an older version of himself (Tutorial Max) - why doesn't he make the effort to inform his younger self of mistakes made?
                              You make good points about the religious aspects, but i have never gotten 'cult' vibes from Aeon - so i'm not entirely feeling it. But, every now and then younger and more optimistic Maxwells (still waiting on the plural form of Max here) show up and go completely rogue on the society, unaware of developments/exceptions/problems known to his elder incarnation - so their 'deity' would be suitably capricious too.

                              For this cult of Mercer, their faith justifies all of their actions. They have to have Proteus, and the death camps, and the bioweapons . . . .the Aberrant War is coming. And the Aeon Society will be Mercer's sword and shield against the rampaging novas. They have to be strong enough, powerful enough, to defend humanity in this apocalyptic war. Because Mercer has promised them that, if they succeed, the faithful of Aeon will lead humanity into a new golden age of peace and prosperity. If a few of those freaky novas have to be chopped up in the meantime, for the good of humanity and Mercer, so be it.

                              And when Divis Mal, the great traitor, the Ancient Enemy who betrayed Mercer and the holy cause of the Aeon Society returns . . . His Null Manifesto would be seen as a clarion call for holy war, a call to arms for the faithful, a warning that the time of the Great War is at hand

                              Of course, in the aftermath, the cult of Mercer would feel fully vindicated. True believers, they'd overlook their own part in provoking the war (and making it worse). And they'd feel fully justified in seizing records, teaching the survivors an Aeon-approved version of history. After all, Mercer told them that it would be Aeon's responsibility to lead the recovery, to rebuild the world into something better. And with the novas - great enemy of humanity - routed, there'd be no need for secret death camps or the like. They could leave their "necessary evils" behind, and focus on a hopeful future, where humanity finally achieves an earthly paradise, all under the benevolent gaze of the Aeon Society.
                              By 2008, there should be octogenarian Aeon members still kicking about with living memory of the Battle with Primoris - not to mention whatever state Styles is in during the interim. Not exactly an ancient enemy, but when zealous fanaticism is at play, dissenting details are as visible as dark matter - which is a complete inversion of the original Aeon society.
                              Mercer warns Donighal of his future (maybe) leading him to a position where he holds the future of humanity in his hands, if he makes this observation to Donighal, do you think he fails to explain the risk to the society? These details all fit, but then you have Aeon circa 2106 working as intermediaries between the Psi Orders and UN - which if we go by your history may be out of character for them. Why would the Aeon cult do this? Or what happened to change them after 2061, because they clearly don't listen to Mercer anymore and i'd be very interested to hear why he didn't just start fresh in the ruins of the world.
                              I can't entirely disagree, because Aeon is pretty shifty in 2120 too, but nowhere close to 'Project Proteus' shifty - sailing unhindered past the moral event horizon. But again, it just doesn't quite seem right - a lot can happen in a hundred years, but the Aeon we see in Adventure! devolving into a fanatic cult in about half a century after Max disappears in the history books?
                              Good idea to meet the facts of Aberrant, but unless the 2120s are accounted for, i couldn't use it without leaving a serious question mark over nearly every fact presented in that setting.


                              Originally posted by One Vorlon View Post
                              As for why Mercer doesn't intervene . . . well, assuming Mercer is bound by the same rules as nova time travelers, his ability to rewrite history is limited. When hundreds of thousands - or even millions - of people are all working towards the same goal (even unwittingly), its hard for one man to force them to change course. And (according to the Aberrant Player's Guide), his own presence at events like the Holocaust or the Aberrant War tends to lock them in as fixed events, unalterable by anyone.
                              I've got to assume you are using the "Yes, But it's hard" version of Time Travel presented in the APG (p136), but i'm not sure where it mentions the presence of a time traveller making it harder to change a particular time, point it out for me if you would. If the APG time travel rules are entirely on the table, then Max isn't alone out there either - introducing potential time-war factions - if the Adventure! era didn't already. Actually, the way you illustrate the future Max, i think he may have to fight a time-war against his younger self out of the Adventure! material - which seems to inescapably violate causality if the younger is willing to die for ideals - which i believe he very well might be.

                              That doesn't mean he hasn't tried. In fact, given what we know of Mercer's philosophy of altruistic humanitarianism, I imagine he's tried a lot. There are a lot of odd coincidences throughout the game's timeline, and many of them may well be because of him. It wouldn't surprise me at all to learn that he's responsible for the Proteus sterilization project (a very 1920s idea - and one that would limit the number of novas available to fight in the Aberrant War), for example. Nor would it surprise me to learn that he tipped off Slider about Proteus, when he realized it was going off the deep end. I could even see him going to Divis Mal, in the hopes that his old friend's techniques can help stave off the rise of Taint-maddened novas.
                              Despite seeing a darker future Max myself and agreeing that sterilization was left behind decades ago by most civilized cultures, i can't reconcile what i know about Max with the massive waste and potential blowback of Proteus sterilization - considering the man and the powerset involved. If he wasn't rolling heads after he found out about that then there was something akin to the STH's world #2 aberrant war coming and he was operating out of sheer terror (also uncharacteristic, but what do we really know about the man beyond the Adventure! portrayal).
                              Again, i kind of like the Slider cameo - it's unobtrusive as far as i can remember. I feel so cheated out of a final confrontation between Mercer and Donighal - so anything suggesting the two had some kind of final meeting after 1943 is at least of passing interest to me. But, with the actions (reluctantly) sanctioned by this Mercer, i have a hard time reasoning Donighal still holds him on the moral pedestal he once reserved for the man.

                              But to truly change events, and not just tweak the body count, he'd have to do something big. Something so huge, history can't just find an alternate path to get there. Something on par with Watchmen (comic or movie), where the superheroes destroy an entire city to avert a nuclear war. And anything big enough to stop a world war (II or Aberrant), is going to generate serious side effects.

                              And who knows? Maybe he already tried (with World War II). I've seen it argued that nuking Nagasaki and Hiroshima drastically shortened the war, and (possibly) saved millions of lives. Through the Aeon Society, Mercer's got the connections to slip the Manhattan Project some "suggestions", and to help "advise" Truman to order the bombing . . . If so, his actions there had major, major consequences for the entire world. Its understandable that he'd be hesitant to do anything so drastic again.
                              This is like the sterilization program - the setting doesn't seem quite big enough to fit the passionately humanitarian Adventure! presentation and a sterilizing, A-bomb dropping Mercer at the same time. This is almost like bifurcating (what a wonderful word) the Adventure setting out of the trilogy, in order to prevent bifurcation along different lines. Mercer is a character in Adventure!, but you would change most of that without elaborating on the character changes?
                              How would you roleplay this Mercer, the one in Adventure! is (un-intuitively) a pretty easy to grasp guy on the surface. Yours seems like he could be an entirely different role to present to the PCs - how would you illustrate this character past 2061, since that's as far as you take the idea here. Remorseful and sympathetic? Relieved and desperately Optimistic? Sinister and brooding? Distant and unrepentant?

                              And to truly stop the Aberrant War from happening, Mercer would have two very ugly choices to pick from, both of which would hit very close to home. Either he has to kill his best friend, Divis Mal, before he triggers N-Day (creating all of those super-powerful, taint-prone novas). Or he has to destroy the Aeon Society, his life's work, to stop Proteus and ensure Divis Mal's smooth rise to power (which would result in widespread use of the Chrysalis, and a plethora of stable novas on hand to stop the handful who lost control)..

                              Given what we know about Mercer, I don't think he'd be able to bring himself to do either. He strikes me as the kind of person who fervently believes he can find a third option, that he can keep both Mal and Aeon and stop the Aberrant War. And he probably continued to believe that, right up until he passed the point of no return and the Aberrant War became inevitable. In fact, I can even see him interfering with others trying to stop the war, in order to protect them. After all, he created Aeon. Surely he can fix it!
                              While your solutions are interesting, the hesitation on the part of Max to sacrifice the Society, an unliving and progressively corrupt organization to prevent the Aberrant war out of ego is positively alien to the character from Adventure! - this is a character who gives away money like he has nothing better to do with it and at least in the context of Adventure! never seems driven to exaltation or petty pride. If the option is between that, killing Donighal/Mal or letting the Aberrant War occur - then i need a whole new portrait of Max to reconcile that against - as the one i have is broken.
                              Then you nail Mercer with the 'third option' remark - so what am i missing here? You've made some great points across two tasty posts - so i hope i haven't left it too long to hear any corrections to my misconceptions or solutions to your own as needed. Interesting story indeed, thanks for sharing it but i feel the character breaks down in the telling. Set me straight if i'm missing something - because i like a darker Mercer, but this isn't adding up for me.

                              ...

                              Originally posted by Teulisch View Post
                              a possible alternative, is that as Mercer traveled time, he encountered the Doyen. they read his mind, and rewrote it to suit their own goals. they used him, and thus the Aeon society, to conquer our world by proxy. because they are desperate to stop the aberrant, the nova, the quantum. perhaps its not even Mercer anymore, but a Doyen brain in his body, like an old story by Lovecraft.

                              that 'cult of Mercer' idea sounds pretty solid, actually. in the end a lot depends on how the mechanics of time travel work in-setting.
                              Heh. Piling villainy onto the Doyen is a favourite pastime of mine - so this is right up my alley. But i personally would have done something else with the Doyen in relation to Max, effectively precluding any interaction. That said, the temptation to see Adventure!-era contact with the Doyen has always played to my fancy as well - so while not Max, i would have seen Doyen interaction with the Aeon society a distinctly interesting proposition. Nice to have you wiith us Teulisch.

                              ...

                              Originally posted by Drazosh View Post
                              My personal version of events is not too different from the Vorlon's. I always pictured Max coming across Proteus later on in the line (perhaps too late for him to fix it without making a decision he was not prepared to make) and regarding it with a quiet, "What have you done?"


                              Most of Aeon and Project Utopia was in the dark about that business, and goodness knows that those in charge (his own granddaughter chief among them) of those decisions would be familiar enough with their optimistic founder's reputation to know he would not approve of such a draconian interpretation of his guidance and warnings. The discovery must have been truly heartbreaking; instead of noting the considerable contributions of novas (Ethiopia, the various diseases cured and crises resolved) and dedicating all of their efforts to working with them to help them identify, study, and counter the side effects of what would be called Taint, they viewed novas as an outside-context problem that needed to be managed. Perhaps worst of all, his best friend, whom he loved as a brother and for whom he had even named his own son, had fully become a transhumanist monster (I see Max clinging to "I just need to make him see reason" til his dying day) and the group he had built on the unity and progress of the human race had, in very real ways, proven Michael right.
                              Welcome to the board Drazosh.
                              This is ringing true to the Max from A!, but One Vorlon suggested Max could have come up with the Sterilization aspect personally - seeing the elder Max betray the younger upon learning truth. Max would have been crushed and so would many who had believed in him - if they were privy. The Aeon society is blackened before being dumped into Trinity 2120 as a cruel and paranoid Orwellian monstrosity parading the tenets of Hope, Sacrifice and Unity in some kind of New-Speak jingoism. Okay, but exactly how dark did you want Maxwell's 'best possible' future to be? Is there really any chance for humanity under the yokes of Aeon, the Doyen and Orders and whatever other powerbases walk the walk? A Judge Dredd/Megacity Trinity 2120?
                              Having difficulty with the concept of sterilizing, A-bombing Mercer being less of a 'monster' than the lamp-shade-alien Donighal of the Divis Mal years. You really put it into perspective with the 'proven Michael right' line - the Aeon actions as read through the veil of Utopia is acting on ideas championed by Donighal and repudiated by Mercer. The society of the nova years draw more deeper motivational links with Dr Primoris than to Max Mercer (experimenting on inspired, social engineering, harmful secrecy, etc) - despite some surface level lip-service to his ideals.



                              To my mind, this is where the Aeon Trinity mantra of "Hope, Sacrifice, Unity" was truly born, as these were the qualities they had forgotten with Proteus. Aberrants are more than "evil mutants returned from beyond the stars to exact their revenge" in my head; they are a persistent and painful reminder of a time when Aeon lost their way and did the one thing they had been created to avoid: they hated and feared their fellow man for being gifted. Eden, then, would be seen with cautious optimism, a vindication that would show they hadn't destroyed things beyond repair. Depending on how much they know of the Doyen, however, and considering the rather obvious initial public response, they would want to tread carefully.
                              Sympathetic 2120 Aberrants is something i have a vested interest in and i have always had Aeon be as supportive as possible to any 2120 Novas they encounter, carefully keeping them out of Psionic detection as long as they can while they document and discuss their PR 'misconceptions' with the character. But because of the knowledge of Proteus from 2008, the poor novas are petrified (and likely guarding their crotches) and can't flee fast enough. Meet Dr Pedobear, practicing pediatrician.
                              -raises eyebrows-
                              I can't buy Eden as it's written, Apollo Milliken is no fun and leaves me wishing more of the Edenites were documented, especially the war-survivors with memories of Aeon's Utopia and their subsidiaries. I think the Doyen would have seen Eden as the worst of abominations and would alternately try to destroy or defame the quantum world by proxy of psion/human action - but that's just my opinion.
                              Provocative post, Drazosh. Nice tweaks to One Vorlon's Max - in terms of characterization.

                              ...

                              Originally posted by Su-tehp View Post
                              And not only was most of Aeon and Project Utopia (as well as the rest of the world) in the dark about Proteus, every other missive between Proteus operatives had some line equivalent to "and for god's sake, whatever you do, don't let Mercer find out about this. He's got enough to worry about as it is." Considering that Proteus was working from Day One to keep their existence and agenda hidden from Mercer, it makes sense that Aeon would spin at least partly out of his control, especially since he was absent for long stretches of time. I'm sure that everyone in Proteus considered themselves loyal to Mercer and his vision for humanity, but felt they should take on the burden of the necessary dirty work and keep it secret from Mercer so that he (and Aeon as a whole) wouldn't be tainted by association with such atrocities.
                              [...]
                              Most of this is as presented in the setting, but the Chronal Awareness he is gifted (and cursed) with allows him to perceive time all at once in some ways. Young Mercer probably isn't aware of and would probably be resistant to the measures suggested by One Vorlon. But an older (52+) Mercer might have been the one keeping the operation secret - this can run up against some causality issues unless kept in the shadows - and who better to outwit Max Mercer, than an older version of himself?
                              This works for Aberrant just fine, but i'm seeing some loose threads between Adventure! and Aeon/Trinity in the fit.

                              ...

                              Originally posted by Drazosh View Post
                              I find it noteworthy (admittedly, with the after-the-fact context that informs my personal view) that, despite Project Rewrite and the efforts to downplay positive nova involvement in history, the story of the Space Brigade remains largely intact. This bizarre little story, incongruously set when their aberrant compatriots are gleefully deconstructing human civilization, shows a group of supermen taking over Olympus and converting it into an island in the storm for all. They avoid killing whenever possible, and leave when the war ends. To me, this honesty is almost apologetic, highlighting "they weren't all bad" without disclosing information that would shatter the Trinity's influence and capacity to rectify their mistakes.
                              I jumped right down the throat of Trinity era, sympathetic, Aberrant depictions. I further extrapolated that further out on Mars, you would have a planet that escaped the Aberrant War and still sympathises with the quantum exiles of the last century. Although the Colony is testing that respect with raids and terror that sometimes reach as far in as the red planet.
                              There are other examples found throughout the text for 2120, but sometimes reading between the lines shows the greater yields.
                              -smile-

                              Overall, this viewpoint of Max and the inherent goodness of Aeon (minus the one black mark left by Proteus) has served me well in the games I've run over the last decade, but I look forward to seeing how the Continuum reshapes the setting.
                              If you don't mind me asking, how have your assumptions about Max come up in game? You have run the marathon, as you put it, so clearly you were forced into a more hands-on approach than i ever was from the distance of 2120+.

                              ...

                              Originally posted by Su-tehp View Post

                              I always found the "Bifurcation of Time-traveling Max Mercer" idea not just inelegant but completely silly, especially when everything in the Aeonverse kept emphasizing that all three games were in the same timeline. Aberrant may have been "thematically inconsistent" (or whatever you want to call it) with Adventure and Trinity such that the writers felt they needed this sort of retcon, but I can totally see Proteus arising within the Aeon Society like a cancer and still being consistent with the themes of Adventure and Trinity without the need for such a hokey retcon. I can see it at least in terms of themes like "eternal vigilance" in Trinity because the Aeon Society fucked up so royally before, it highlights how they have to police themselves even more carefully in 2120 so they don't fall to corruption as they so nearly did before. And with the Huang-Marr Conspiracy coming to light, we see that the psions are making exactly the same mistake Aeon did 100 years previously: thinking that the ends of trying to save the human race from extinction justify the means of torture and human experiments. It's a mistake that has been used/seen in numerous sci-fi stories like Wing Commander, Star Trek and others besides.
                              Tell us how you really feel about bifurcated Max, Su-tehp. -tease-
                              Proteus is understandable given the stimulus; certainly, but is it forgiveable? Can a 'pure' archetype like what we are presented with for Mercer thematically survive that moral compromise? What happens to the morally uncorruptable post-corruption?


                              This is actually a very good revelation. I never thought of such a subtle interpretation of keeping this authentic piece of history in Project Rewrite.
                              There is lots of good stuff between the lines to be found - the Space Brigade years were recent memory when Rewrite started - spared most of the shock of the war, they didn't see the need for such drastic measures, you can probably bet this story doesn't see a lot of play on earth however.

                              Originally posted by Drazosh View Post

                              I try not to pass judgment too hard on writers for the decisions they make; presumably, they had their reasons for feeling it was necessary, although I agree that it wasn't. I had the great honor of running the Aeon Marathon (Adventure, Aberrant, and Trinity, all with related characters), and my viewpoint served me well throughout. It was the most challenging campaign I have ever run in my 15 years of gaming but, my god, was it rewarding.

                              That said, my favorite pulp game, my favorite supers game, and my favorite sci-fi game are all getting a new edition. I can't wait to see how the settings and systems have evolved,
                              It sounds like quite the story, care to start a new thread to tell the tale? But in relevence here, how did you run the Maxwell you are relating to One Vorlon's posts? What role did he play in the drama when he was invoked?

                              Great posts all, thanks for sharing and apologies for the delayed, agglutinated post. I hope i'm not barking too obtusely here, One Vorlon's depiction is interesting - despite my issues with it.
                              Last edited by Nihilist; 04-27-2015, 09:40 AM. Reason: This is why i can't have nice things.

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