Aberrant

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Aberrant is a role-playing game created by White Wolf in 1999, set in 2008 in a world where super-powered humans started appearing one day in 1998. It is the middle setting in the greater Trinity Universe timeline, chronologically situated about 90 years after Adventure!, White Wolf's Pulp era game, and over a century before the psionic escapades of Trinity/Aeon. The game deals with how the players' meta-human characters (called "novas") fit into a mundane world when they most definitely are not mundane, as well as how the mundane populace react to the sudden emergence of novas. The original Aberrant product line was discontinued in 2002, though a d20 System version was released in 2004.

Tropes used in Aberrant include:
  • And a Diet Coke: A character being interviewed about the nova's increased metabolism mentions ordering fifty Whoppers and a small Diet Coke at Burger King.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: Greenwar
  • Artistic License Religion: Several Christian and Catholic sects in-setting (including at least one mainstream Catholic faction within the Vatican itself) deny the humanity of novas and instead literally demonize them as allegedly being, well, demons. Setting material in Worldwide Phase II has them (well, at least the aforementioned Vatican sect, who are actually the least insane of the entire bunch we're talking about here) justifying this theological interpretation by citing the Malleus Maleficarum, the infamous witch-hunter's theological tract of the late 1400s, as the authority for how anyone possessing superhuman powers is clearly the spawn of the devil. The problem is that so much as skimming the Wikipedia article on the Malleus Maleficarum would tell you that a) the author of that thing had been defrocked from the Catholic Church before he'd even finished it and b) the text itself had been condemned as heretical in 1490. While it was used as a justification for witch-hunting by several royal courts in Europe, and is indeed one of the most famous witch-hunting treatises in common knowledge, there isn't an actual Catholic theologian on the planet -- nor has there been for over 500 years -- that would consider it to be anything but blasphemous nonsense. We're talking something that was rejected by the Spanish Inquisition for being too over-the-top. So scenes where members of the Curia are allegedly citing this thing back and forth to each other in total seriousness simply cannot be taken seriously by anyone who actually knows anything about the history of religion.
    • Where the author really missed a bet was in not having the 'Church of Michael Archangel' fundamentalist sect citing this thing to each other, precisely because they are the sort of ignorant fanatics who can't tell actual religious doctrine from whatever crap their cult leader chooses to pull out of his ass. Nope, the author had to put these words in the mouths of the Pope's own advisors. Did he not know, or did he just not care?
  • Bullet Catch / Dodge the Bullet: Sufficently high levels of MegaDexterity will allow a character to do this.
  • Die or Fly: The most common way novas erupt.
  • Emergency Transformation
  • Fictional Counterpart: The N! network, which is for Novas what E! is for celebrities in entertainment.
  • Foregone Conclusion : The Aberrant War is gonna happen, no matter what the players do.
  • Government Drug Enforcement: All newly erupted novas are secretly fed sterility drugs along with the drugs given to help them control their powers in order to prevent the breeding of a superpowered race.
  • The Group: The Directive
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Aberrant is set in a world where the main way of getting superpowers is by surviving a near-death experience that triggers a change within you. Needless to say, between the sheer joy of having powers and the celebrity-like status that comes with some supers, there are a lot of... unhappy accidents.
  • Immune to Drugs / Never Gets Drunk: A side effect of nova powers.
  • Internet Incorporated: The OpNet from is the system that esentially replaced the internet (due to better Applied Phlebotinum) and requires its users to be licensed.
  • Mutant Draft Board: Project Utopia.
    • It's more of a Fantastic Recruitment Drive in practice. While Project Utopia does want operational control of every nova out there ("In an ideal world all novas would want to work for Utopia. It is your job to help bring about that ideal world." -- actual quote from a Utopia recruiter's job orientation), they try to gain that control not by sending out the snatch teams but instead by sending out corporate recruiters to wave large paychecks at every newly erupted nova they can find. Often, this works. Sometimes, they lose out to all the other corporate recruiters who are even more desperately waving larger paychecks.
      • There is a scene of a Utopia recruiter being chewed out by his boss for having knocked a teenaged nova out with a manhole cover and dragged him back against his will, but the recruiter is defending his actions on the grounds that a) the kid's parents had already signed him up for the Utopia program, which is legally binding on the minor child in their care and b) the kid was throwing a superpowered tantrum and likely to injure someone, so an immediate sort-of-arrest was necessary. It's left as a gray area as to whether or not Utopia does this sort of thing often.
    • Proteus plays this trope straight by cheerfully sending out the stereotypical black-ops squads to drag in newly-erupted novas whose talents they really really want to have, and then use whatever level of "push" necessary (up to and including rewriting their brains) to get them to accept the recruitment 'offer'. Its implied that the only thing stopping them from doing this more often is time, limited resources, and fear of getting caught if they go to the well too often.
  • Older Than They Think: Hey, remember when the Marvel Cinematic Universe dropped the very awesome and breathtaking revelation that a secret conspiracy of ruthless assholes had existed inside SHIELD from the beginning, and that they were the Poisonous Friend SHIELD never knew that secretly wanted the same goals (mostly) that SHIELD did but were willing to use Complete Monster methods to try and make it happen? Well, Project Proteus called and said that they were already doing that shtick to Utopia since the 90s and would HYDRA please send them a royalty check.
  • Screw Yourself: The player's handbook contains a chapter with various superhero teams and similar groups across the world. One is the Queer Nova Alliance, an informal group of Novas with "alternate lifestyles". One member is Tommy Orgy, whose selection of powers includes self-cloning. Or, as another nova observes, "Gorgeous, gay, and able to duplicate himself; it's a wonder Tommy Orgy ever leaves his house." When Tommy tells another nova to "Go fuck yourself", the other retorts, "I thought that was more your forte, Thomas." A listener adds, "Well, according to every other fanfic I read on the OpNet, anyways..."
  • Super Human Trafficking: Some novas are hunted by criminal syndicates who kidnap them and harvest their organs to make superpowered drugs.
  • Wave Motion Gun: Although Aberrant characters are generally played at a much lower level of power, akin to your average Marvel Comics character, the game has Quantum powers at levels 4, 5, and 6 (which could only be acquired after a very long campaign if you play by the standard rules.) One of the level 6 powers is Quantum Inferno which allows the character to fire a Quantum Bolt capable of punching a hole, hundreds of kilometers wide, clean through the planet (which needless to say is the immediate predecessor to the planet's destruction.)
    • And 'Quantum Inferno' is the least of the level 6 powers actually given stats. The most powerful one is 'Universe Creation'. It does exactly what you think it does.
    • It's not just level 6 powers that get ridiculous. The default Quantum Bolt, if upgraded to level 4 (which would require two levels of the Mastery extra, which requires a minimum permanent Quantum of 8), will still drop a damage effect multiple orders of magnitude more powerful than a strategic nuclear warhead over an entire hemisphere of the planet. For a cost of 1 quantum point, or, about half the effort it takes a starting nova to use his Quantum Bolt to blow up a car.[1]
  1. Yes, this does indeed mean Divis Mal could casually bake the entire Earth into a giant radioactive glass beach ball in two combat actions.