Aberrant 2.0 Optional Rules
This page of Optional Systems is basically for things that are supposed to give you options for various crunchy bits that add more detail but aren't strictly necessary to errata.
- 1 Simplified NPC System
- 2 Relationships
- 3 No-XP Advancement
- 4 Professions
- 5 Skill Mastery
- 6 Called Shots
- 7 System Hacks
Simplified NPC System
The simplified NPC system alters the method that semi-important NPCs and Extras work, allowing quick NPC statting. Fully important NPCs (major allies and antagonists, etc) should still use the full system.
Attributes and Abilities
A NPC has three (rather than nine) attributes and three (rather than 30+) abilities, which are used to generate his or her dice pools for any task.
- Physical: A NPC's physical attribute governs his strength, dexterity, and stamina.
- Mental: A NPC's mental attribute governs his perception, intelligence, and wits.
- Social: A NPC's social attribute governs his charisma, manipulation, and appearance.
Willpower is determined by the higher of Mental or Social attributes. Initiative is the sum of Physical + Mental. Bashing soak is Physical, while Lethal soak is Physical/2, rounded down.
NPCs have differing attribute spreads depending on their rough power level. A "+" represents a specialty in that attribute, which generally covers a single ability (e.g. Physical specialty Firearms) or a Quality (e.g. Social specialty Seductive), and gives a +1d bonus to any roll where it applies.
- Unimportant: 2/2/2 (primary/secondary/tertiary)
- Newbie: 3/2/2 (primary/secondary/tertiary)
- Standard: 3+/3/2 (primary/secondary/tertiary)
- Exceptional: 4/3/2 (primary/secondary/tertiary)
- Amazing: 4/3+/3 (primary/secondary/tertiary)
- World-Class: 4+/3+/3 (primary/secondary/tertiary)
- Power: A NPC's power attribute applies whenever the NPC is taking an action which uses brute power. Dramatic and impassioned speeches, punching someone in the face, lifting a ton, powering through a math problem with raw brainpower, so on and so forth.
- Finesse: Finesse governs less blatant manipulation, such as lockpicking, use of firearms, whispering manipulative advice into someone's ear, hacking a computer, acrobatic grace, and other such feats.
- Resistance: Resistance governs withstanding punishment. Lasting for a week without sleep, surviving a four-hour exam, winning an impassioned yelling match where the winner is the one who can argue longer than his opponent, all these acts require Resistance.
NPCs have primary, secondary, and tertiary abilities, which are at various ratings.
- Unimportant: 1/1/0
- Tyro: 2/1/1
- Professional: 2+/1+/1
- Veteran: 3/2/1+
- Elite: 3+/3/2
- World-Class: 4/3+/2
If being extremely simple, assume a character has armor soak equal to his Resistance attribute and does attack damage equal to his (Physical + Power). Note that as a very simplified system, not all characters may have all the abilities that their ability spread may imply, in which case the ST may choose to forgo adding the ability to the dice pool and just roll the attribute, or deny the NPC a roll entirely. They are unimportant NPCs after all.
A NPC similarly has a simplified health track and suffers no wound penalties (they are simplified, after all). If a NPC's health is unrolled, divide post-soak damage by 2 (round down) and apply it as levels. Automatic damage levels apply normally.
- Mooks: 1 Health Level, unrolled.
- Extras: 3 Health Levels, unrolled.
- Normal: 7 Health Levels
Novas as Simple NPCs
A Nova as a simple NPC provides a somewhat greater challenge due to Mega-attributes and powers. However, mega-attributes can be represented as one rough category, while powers can be dealt with as more generic powers.
A Nova's Quantum increases his toughness and ability to absorb damage, adding 2 health levels and 1B/1L/1A soak.
A Nova has mega-attributes in one category depending on his or her power level. Each mega-attribute behaves like a normal one, that is, they add bonus successes to rolls. A "+" represents a specialty in that attribute, which generally covers a single ability (e.g. Physical specialty Firearms) or a Quality (e.g. Social specialty Seductive), and gives +1 success to any roll where it applies.
- Merely Incredible: 0+/0/0
- Burgeoning Superhuman: 1/0+/0
- Superhuman: 1+/1/0
- Heroic: 2/1+/0
- Legendary: 2+/2/0+
- Godlike: 3/2+/1+
Note that each level in Mega-Physical adds 3 health levels to the Nova and +1B/1L/1A soak.
Higher ratings in Mega-Attributes are the purview of more important characters and beyond the scope of this system.
Simple NPC Novas have no Quantum pools-they are assumed to be capable of using their powers as much as they want, and should generally not have power ratings greater than 3 (they are relatively unimportant after all). Generally, as a simple NPC should have a fairly solid and identifiable theme, their "powers" should be considered a single Mastery-like suite power, and treated as such, with the caveat that they may have more techniques than power dots.
This makes them overall weaker but makes their theme more visible and makes it slightly easier to keep track of dice pools.
In this system, a character is defined by relationships, positive or negative, between them and others. This replaces backgrounds-in this system, backgrounds like Eufiber, Attunement, and Node are merits.
In this system, Nova Points can be used to buy Merits, at a 1 NP: 5 Merit Points trade. They may not be used to buy Relationship points. Relationships may be bought with bonus points, at a 1:1 cost:relationship ratio.
- Eufiber (1-5 pt merit): The character has a 1 to 5 point Eufiber colony. This merit is identical to the background.
- Node (1-10 pt merit): The character has a 1 to 10 point Node. This merit is identical to the background.
- Attunement (1-10 pt merit): The character has a 1 to 10 point Attunement rating. This merit is identical to the background.
As Backgrounds are now nonexistent, the backgrounds of Allies, Backing, Cipher, Contacts, Followers, Influence, Mentor, Sanctum, and Resources no longer exist. These "backgrounds" are now used to define the benefits of a relationship. Relationships can be positive or negative. A positive relationship means that the relationship is cordial or at least professional, that the item is being provided without coercion or consequence. A negative relationship means the background is not being provided without consequence. Negative relationships are generally more trouble than they may be worth, but easier to maintain.
Relationships do not have to be with individuals, and a character may have a simultaneous positive and negative relationship with another. No, this doesn't have to involve tsunderes (although it can), it just means conflicted feelings, or that an organization demands as much from the character as it gives him.
Positive relationships give you material benefits. Most backgrounds can be provided by a positive relationship. A positive relationship with your place of employment provides your average person Resources, while a positive relationship with their boss gets them some Backing, and a positive relationship with a friend is often an excuse for an Ally or Mentor. Note a positive relationship does not mean you have to like the other side, or the other side has to like you. A bunch of annoying fans (Followers) can be a positive relationship, as can be blackmailing a crime boss (Resources).
Each dot of a positive relationship generally adds 1 point of a relevant background, and a relationship can go up to five, providing five net points of benefit. A character may have multiple independent backgrounds So for example, a retired general may have the positive relationships:
- Joint Chiefs of Staff: Backing (US military) 5
- United States Army: Resources 4/Cipher 1
- His Unit: Command 5
Negative relationships are where the relationship causes trouble to the character-it saddles him with duties, it forces hardships on him, or sometimes it's because someone is out to kill him. These relationships tend to be used to provide negative backgrounds to a character such as Enemy, Rival, Duties, Wanted, Dependents, and so on. However, it is possible for negative relationships to provide benefits. Every time a negative background shows up, the character gains XP equal to the value of the negative background. As an example, a veteran cop may have these negative relationships:
- Ex-Wife: Dependents 2
- Police Department: Duties 2
- Local Gang: Wanted 1
- Nosy Reporter: Enemies 1
- Hotshot Rookie Cop: Rival 1
New Negative Backgrounds
- Dependents: Dependents are more or less helpless everyday people who are important to the character for whatever reason. Although dependents are capable of taking care of themselves when everyday life comes knocking, they are generally more or less helpless and require the character's protection when extraordinary circumstances come along (and the life of a player character means those come along a lot more often). The higher the rating of this background, the more helpless the dependent is and the more often they end up threatened... and the more XP they provide.
- Duties: A character with Duties has sworn his loyalty to a larger organization and has to do things for it. At a rating of 1, these duties tend to be minor, or generally aligned with what the character wants to do anyways. At 5, the character rarely gets any time to do what he or she actually wants to do.
- Enemy: Like the flaw of the same name, an Enemy is someone who wants you dead and ruined and is more than willing to send muscle to ensure he gets his way. At a rating of 1, an Enemy is relatively weak, equivalent to a starting character in power, while at a rating of 5 your Enemy has an incredible level of resources that significantly outstrip the character's.
- Rival: A rival is an ostensible ally of the character who is actually in it to advance himself or herself above the character. They compete for promotions, steal the last piece of cake at the company party, hit on the character's significant other, and so on. Higher ratings of rival imply more pull in the organization and larger chips on the character's shoulder.
- Wanted: Wanted means a character is being pursued by an organization rather than a single person. Although the enemies sent by an organization that wants the character incarcerated or dead are generally of lower quality than individual Enemies or Rivals, it is much harder to destroy an organization than it is to destroy a single man-and doing so via simple mans is likely to create more enemies. Brute force can often create more problems than it solves.
As a character's Taint grows, the social interaction penalty alienates them from other people. This results in a worsening of relationships. Every point of social penalty from Taint reduces the current and maximum rating of all positive relationships by 1, save for relationships with characters or organizations which are not affected by Taint. At Taint 4, a character's positive relationships may only go up to a maximum of 4, at Taint 6, this lowers to 3, and so on.
There are very few organizations which are unaffected by Taint in Aberrant, Nova cults and the Teragen being the main exceptions. People being blackmailed/etc are also generally less affected by Taint.
The No-XP advancement system is intended to alter character development, turning it into a matter of downtime training rather than IC awards. Training is generally assumed to be intensive-it takes most of the character's waking hours, leaving only enough time for meals and perhaps a few hours of free time. Intensive training, though, strains the will. Every month of intensive training reduces permanent willpower by 1. This "damage" heals at the rate of 1 willpower every year without intensive training.
Moderate training (leaving most of the character's days free for some other work, or other training) triples the time taken to improve an attribute but does not require temporarily losing permanent willpower.
- Attributes: Attributes are generally trained by category, rather than per attribute. In general, it's not very efficient to train only dexterity when you could get a proper athletic training regimen and train flexibility, speed, endurance, and various other factors of Dexterity and Stamina simultaneously. The ability to go from "average joe" to "world class athlete" in perhaps a few months is abnormal, but if there is something that marks a player character, it is incredible potential.
- To train a single attribute takes (current value) months of intensive training.
- To train two attributes (adding +1 to the value of each chosen attribute at the end of training) takes (total value - 1) months of intensive training. A character will generally be training a combination of two physical or two mental or two social attributes, but cannot train, for example, a physical and a social attribute without some sort of excuse. (For example, a valid excuse might be getting toned, training both Strength and Appearance simultaneously)
- To train an entire category (Physical, Mental, or Social) takes (total value - 2) months of intensive training.
- Abilities: Training an ability generally requires (current level) weeks per dot, or 2 weeks to go from 0 to 1 in an ability. Remember, all times are intensive.
- Quantum Powers: Quantum Powers take a varying amount of time to train dependent on their Level. Level 4, 5, and 6 powers take far longer to train than Level 1, 2, and 3 ones. Mega-Attributes take the same amount of time as L2 powers do.
- Level 1 powers take (current level) weeks per dot to train, or 2 weeks to buy a new L1 power.
- Level 2 powers take (current level) x 2 weeks per dot to train, or 1 month to buy a new L2 power.
- Level 3 powers take (current level) months per dot to train, or 2 months to buy a new L3 power.
- Level 4 powers take (current level) x 4 months per dot to train, or 1 year to buy a new L4 power.
- Level 5 powers take (current level) x 2 years per dot to train, or 5 years to buy a new L5 power.
- Level 6 powers take (current level) x 5 years per dot to train, or 15 years to buy a new L6 power.
- Willpower: Training Willpower is done by reducing permanent Willpower to 0. At this point, the character gains +1 permanent Willpower.
- Quantum: A character gains +1 Quantum after training quantum powers for a total of (current level) x 2 months of intensive training.
Anything which reduces the experience cost of purchasing attributes, abilities, or powers also reduce the time taken in training by the same amount (typically half).
More importantly, certain modifiers exist for training only. These modifiers do mean that characters (and organizations) with resources can deploy much higher-quality goons than poorly-equipped militia, and it does mean that if the PCs have unequal access to training facilities and oversight they will develop at different paces. This is intentional.
- Training facilities, such as a boot camp, a well-stocked laboratory, a gym, or so on make it easier to train, which reduces training types by half. For quantum powers, the only such facilities exist in the hands of organizations such as DeVries, governments, and Utopia.
- Professional oversight, such as a professor, an angry drill instructor, or a personal trainer, further reduce training times by half.
Professions are an optional system that help define a character via giving them a connection with a field, a level of experience and understanding of that field which leads them to achieve. A profession is not just a job-it is a part of your character, something that defines them. A member of the Marine Corps may have retired to see to his family, or go to college-but a retired Soldier is a Soldier still. Conversely, a student may have ended up serving in a warzone because she signed up for a stint in the military to pay for her bills-but could still be an Academic. Characters may switch Professions, at the cost of losing all experience invested in Expertise and having to build it up from the start. The Soldier goes to college and likes the taste of academia, becoming an Academic, or learns how to be an Engineer and likes it. The Vagrant rebuilds his life and becomes a Laborer.
A character must have at least one dot in each of the four Professional abilities to qualify for a Profession, but gains two dots of free ability specialties, which must be applied to Professional abilities. Several Professions have field skills as one of their Professional Skills-in this case, the character only needs one dot in one field skill to qualify.
A character with this background is ever more connected with their profession and gains increasing bonuses from this profession. Most characters start with an Expertise of 0. Each level of this background provides additional benefits to the character as listed below.
- Professional Courtesy (Expertise 1): The character knows the lingo of his chosen Profession. The street slang of the gangster, the stuffy discussions of Academics or Scientists, the acronym-filled patois of a soldier-the character has immersed himself in the profession enough to show that he was there, he knows what it means to be a Cop, to be an Academic, to be an Athlete, to be a Soldier. The character gains bonus dice equal to his Expertise when making any social rolls towards people of his profession. "I know, I've been in the same boat", said convincingly, can open up a lot of people's hearts.
- Continuing Education (Expertise 2): The character starts specializing in her chosen Profession. An academic may become a lecturer or a researcher or an analyst. A Professional may become a manager, a lawyer, a CEO. A doctor may become a surgeon... or a paramedic. A soldier becomes a tanker, an officer, a sniper. The character may choose two additional Professional abilities, and finally gains an additional specialty dot to put into one of her two new Professional abilities. Again, both of these abilities must be rated at at least 1 dot, and must make some sort of sense.
- Networking (Expertise 3): The character gains a dot of Contacts related to his field from continued exposure to people in the field. Soldiers make new friends as they get transferred from unit to unit, Academics become colleagues over beers and debate, Cops become part of the blue wall of silence, Investigators work with or oppose other Investigators, Athletes bond over friendly competition.
- Knack for It (Expertise 4): The character is so immersed in her field that she finds picking up new techinques easier. The character reduces the cost of buying new Professional abilities from (Current rating x 2) to (Current rating x 2 - 1), and reduces the cost of new specialties from (1 XP/specialty) to (1 XP/2 specialties) for Professional abilities only.
- Best of the Best (Expertise 5): The character becomes extremely good at what he does, and may reroll 10s for any roll involving his Professional abilities, even without an applicable Quality.
A Profession gives a brief description, a list of the four professional abilities a profession uses, and some concepts.
Academic: The academic is a student or scholar, a seeker of knowledge. The academic may be a gifted student, a professor emeritus, or just a frat boy who freeloads his way through college. Either way, under it all, they still want to learn, even if they spend every weekend boozing it up or put off grading finals until a day before the deadline. Academics generally specialize in the social sciences, but dedicated lecturers in the science and engineering departments are typically always Academics. An Academic should generally have mental attributes as their primary.
- Professional Abilities: Academics (any), Linguistics, Etiquette, Instruction
- Concept: Average college student, frat boy (or sorority girl), overworked professor, tenured academic, (in)famous heterodox scholar, abused research assistant.
Assassin: An assassin has one trade, one role in life. To kill. They use this trade legally or illegally, for good or ill-Assassins can be freedom fighters or military snipers as easily as they can be mob hitmen or terrorists, but their trade is killing. To kill, they learn to be invisible, to lie, to break into secured areas, and to take that one fatal shot.
- Professional Abilities: Firearms, Stealth, Subterfuge, Intrusion
- Concept: Cold military sniper, ex-military mercenary, hitman with a heart, vengeance seeker, vigilante
Artist: The artist lives for her art, no matter what it might be. The person who has artist as profession doesn't have to be a good artist-it is the passion which defines them, more than anything else. They may be incredibly bad at their art, but as long as they are passionate, they can still consider themselves Artists.
- Professional Abilities: Art (any), Academics (any), Performance (any), Style
- Concept: Struggling artist, top-shelf painter, romantic poet, fanfiction writer, art student, hippie stoner
Athlete: Like an artist, the trait that defines the athlete is not their skill in competition, but the love of the competition. Professional athletes, amateur students, even "street athletes" like traceurs all fit in this category as long as it is the thrill of challenge that drives them, the need to push oneself to the limit.
- Professional Abilities: Athletics, Endurance, Awareness, Medicine
- Concept: Traceur, Olympian-in-training, washed-up high school athlete, college athletic golden boy
Bureaucrat: The Bureaucrat works in the System, whether corporate or governmental, and supports it to the best of his or her ability. She may be a lawyer, a middle manager, a CEO, working in any of a million white-collar careers. She is an important cog of society, along with the millions of other cogs turning like clockwork.
- Professional Abilities: Bureaucracy, Biz, Academics (Law), Etiquette
- Concept: Slick lawyer, CEO, middle manager, ordinary white-collar worker
Cop: The cop is an enforcer of the law and justice. Or maybe he's the corrupt tool of a facist regime. Or he uses the position for his own ends. No matter the case, someone trained him, someone gave him a badge, and someone inducted him into the "blue wall of silence". No matter how he carries himself in the uniform though, he still has that uniform.
- Professional Abilities: Firearms, Intimidation, Rapport, Investigation
- Concept: SWAT officer, beat cop, loose cannon, by-the-books recruit
Criminal: A criminal, on the other hand, is defined by his evasion of that law that the Cop swears to serve. They may never do something actually illegal, due to having a slick team of lawyers and lobbyists to create loopholes in the law. They may never see a day in court. Their crimes can be white collar or blue-collar, their actions reprehensible or understandable. A criminal, though, breaks the law not because he has to, but because he refuses to follow it.
- Professional Abilities: Streetwise, Subterfuge, Academics (Law), Intimidation
- Concept: Crooked multimillionaire, corrupt politician, gang leader, serial killer
Doctor: Doctors may or may not have graduated med school. Some of them may have had their licenses revoked, for horrific experiments that "go too far", or for negligence. Some of them may never have been fully licensed in the first place. Their one point of commonality though, is fixing the human machine when it breaks down. No matter what their background is though, you'll generally want one around if you go into anything resembling danger.
- Professional Abilities: Medicine, Science (Biology) OR Academics (Patent Medicine) (alt med), Endurance, Etiquette
- Concept: Med school dropout, alternative medicine, paramedic, plastic surgeon, trauma ward surgeon, pharmacologist
Engineer: Engineers build and fix things. They like building things and making them work. Not all engineers are college-educated, quite a few learn their trade from a trade school. Whatever their trade is, it generally involves machines or buildings, and their construction, repair, and maintenance. The engineer finds himself with a wealth of technical knowledge, which can be useful even after eruption.
- Professional Abilities: Engineering (Any), Science (Any), Computers, Biz
- Concept: Auto/plumbing/electrical technician, college-educated engineer (of any field), computer hacker, defense contractor
Investigator: A broad category covering journalists, spies of every nation and every agency, detectives, and anyone else who seeks out the dirty secrets of the world, an Investigator is a secret-hunter, looking for the buried truth. Each of them may do different things with this truth, but all of them seek it out. Their desired truth may or may not actually exist, but it is the act of looking for it, not the existence of the truth, which makes them Investigators.
- Professional Abilities: Investigation, Subterfuge, Etiquette, Awareness
- Concept: Government spook, investigative journalist, homicide detective, paranormal investigator, mythbusting skeptic
Laborer: Manual labor is hard, tiring work. It pays relatively poorly, it is often dangerous, and it is physically demanding. Those who consider themselves Laborers understand this, and yet toil because it is what they enjoy doing. Farming, construction,
- Professional Abilities: Might, Endurance, Resistance, Streetwise
- Concept: Construction worker, farmer,
- Professional Abilities: Etiquette, Academics (Theology), Rapport, Performance (oratory)
- Professional Abilities: Science (Any), Bureaucracy, Computers, Investigation
- Professional Abilities: Subterfuge, Etiquette, Style, Rapport
Soldier: The soldier is a warrior with a cause. He is not inherently a killer, but he will do so if necessary. He is there for his comrades, for his country, for a paycheck, or for an ideal. A Soldier is defined by her willingness to subordinate himself to a cause, and do things that he would normally be unwilling to do in service of it, whatever those may be, as well as, in part, some level of formal training.
- Professional Abilities: Firearms, Athletics, Awareness, Tactics
- Concepts: PTSD-afflicted soldier, freedom fighter, retired wardog, special forces veteran, eager new recruit, PMC, hotshot fighter pilot
Vagrant: Vagrants never truly "fit in" to society. They may be homeless, or they may merely drift from home to home and job to job, but either way, they never quite feel "right" in society at large. They drift from place to place, from job to job, from home to home, working their way through. The critical quality of the Vagrant is
- Professional Abilities: Streetwise, Stealth, Survival, Legerdemain
- Concepts: Hobo, Suspicious Stranger, Crazy Man, Conspiracy Theorist
An optional system for high abilities. Any character may buy a Skill Mastery for an ability at 4, 5, or above. An ability at 4 may have 1 skill mastery, an ability at 5 may have 2, and an ability at 6 (only possible for Daredevils/Paramorphs) may have up to 4. Each mastery costs 10 XP or 3 BP, and allows one to do some pretty incredible things with the skill.
Skill masteries allow baselines to do some incredible feats of skill, or allow Novas to take things to 11 and do absolutely insane things when combined with Nova powers.
Trivia Expert: The character is familiar with a wide variety of tools related to the ability in question, allowing him or her to add the ability to Investigation rolls whenever objects related to the ability factor heavily (such as Trivia Expert(Drive) adding to Investigation rolls for an auto accident or when finding contraband smuggled in a car, Trivia Expert(Firearms) factoring into rolls where someone was killed by guns, Trivia Expert(Medicine) when dealing with drugs, so on and so forth).
Skill Mastery: The character is so skilled with the ability in question that he almost never fails dramatically. A character may pay 1wp to reroll any botched roll.
Superhuman Under Pressure: Once per session, the character may reverse difficulties for a single roll by paying 1 wp-that is to say, any addition to difficulty becomes extra successes instead. This may be taken for multiple skills but may only be used once per session (or per downtime for things like crafting or gadgeteering or R&D).
Savant: A character with this mastery is particularly good in a certain field. If the character spends Willpower to add an automatic success to a roll where his ability specialty would apply, the specialty's dice bonus is converted into successes. A character may only use savant once per scene.
Size Up: With this ability mastery, a character may make a (Perception + [Ability]) roll to learn if a character he can study has this ability and at what rating.
Master's Respect: A character with this mastery displays his mastery on his sleeve, for those who are similarly skilled. When dealing with someone with the ability rated at 3+, the character may use his mastery ability for social rolls in lieu of another ability. This obviously does not apply to social abilities such as Etiquette or Streetwise.
Lethal Weapon: The character's fists are rated as lethal weapons. Characters with this skill trick may pay 1 WP to deal lethal instead of bashing unarmed damage for a scene.
Fight Dissection: With the skill borne of endless fighting, the character learns how to describe, quickly and brutally, just how outclassed his opponent is. Add the character's Martial Arts to any Intimidation roll made to cause someone to back down, concede a fight, or otherwise avoid violence.
Bayonet Charge: The character is extremely adept with attacking from a charge, adding his momentum to a blow. Despite its name, it works with all sorts of weapons which can stab. A character adds (Dexterity) to his damage if making a successful charge attack at +1 difficulty-the character may take no other action.
Butcher: The character is horrifically deadly with his blades, dealing maximum tissue damage with even seemingly tiny cuts, cutting through arteries, veins, tendons, and flesh with disturbing ease. A character with this ability adds 1 additional automatic lethal damage level to any melee attack which rolls at least 1 level of damage.
Vise Grip: The character has developed his strength to such a level that his crushing damage is lethal rather than bashing.
Deadlift: A character with this mastery adds 2 to his Might for calculating his lifting capacity. This is only for lifting and carrying, not for throwing or breaking objects.
Pack Mule: A character with this mastery doubles the weight he can carry before being encumbered.
Freerunner: A character with this mastery can clear objects with a height equal to (Athletics) meters without the need for a roll.
Champion Runner: A character with this mastery increases his running speed by (Athletics) meters/turn.
Crack Driver: A character with this mastery is superhumanly good at driving, and replaces the maneuverability of his vehicle with his Drive rating, making drive rolls (Dexterity + Drive x 2).
Offensive Driving: A character with this mastery has mastered the fine art of vehicular manslaughter, halving all damage done to his vehicle from attacks he initiates.
Speed Demon: This mastery allows the character to push his vehicle's engine to the limit, increasing maximum speed by 25% (round up).
Safe At Any Speed: This mastery eliminates the distinction of safe and maximum speeds: a character may maneuver as if the vehicle was at its safe speed at its maximum speed, with only a +1 difficulty modifier.
Double Tap: A character with this can pull the trigger so fast people think she's using an automatic weapon-even when it isn't. A character with this mastery may use the burst rules even if the weapon could not normally use them, as long as the weapon has sufficient RoF and magazine size.
Guns Akimbo: When dual-wielding firearms, the character may make a single attack roll applying to both firearms targeting one enemy, rather than having to take normal multiple actions-although the character can do so as well, becoming a tornado of carnage. The character uses the accuracy of the least accurate weapon he holds. Both firearms do not have to be targeted on the same target. Weapons used akimbo are at -2 accuracy and cannot be aimed, however.
Lead Dispenser: The character adds (Firearms) to the actual (not effective, for burst weapons) rate of fire of any firearm the character uses. Although not significant for high-RoF automatic weapons, this allows a character to do serious damage with a pump action shotgun or bolt-action rifle, especially combined with multiple action penalty reducers and other tricks.
One Shot One Kill: A character with this skill trick becomes an expert at dealing horrific damage with firearms even if he can't always live up to its name. Any successful attack with a firearm converts up to (Firearms) dice of post-soak damage into automatic successes. Note that this only affects unsoaked damage and has no effect if the attack is soaked to the 1 die of ping damage.
Sleight of Hand: A character with this Tier 2 Perk reloads in half the time it normally takes to reload. Once per action, reloading a firearm is a reflexive action.
Spray 'n Pray: A character with this mastery is an expert at hosing down areas with fire. When firing medium or long bursts, the character increases the difficulty of dodge or block rolls against his fusillade of gunfire by 1.
Overkill: A character with this ability reduces any penalties a heavy weapon may have for targeting small targets (like say, personnel) by 1.
Fast Load: Normally reloading a heavy weapon is an action that requires at least one full turn and no multiple actions. A character with this ability may reload a weapon preternaturally fast, reducing the reload time of weapons by 1 turn. If a weapon's reload time is already 1 turn, the character may reload as part of a multiple action.
Rocket Jockey: A character with this mastery is amazing with unguided rockets and other launchers, adding +1 to their accuracy and damage due to superior understanding of the characteristics of his weapons.
Light Fingers: The character may automatically steal small things from others (wallets, credit cards, cell phones) without a roll if they are not in use.
Spot Concealed Weapon: The character can automatically spot concealed weapons with no roll.
Ace Pilot: A character with this mastery can make a fighter dance, do near-impossible stunts in a bomber or jumbo jet, and other feats of insanity. A pilot with this replaces the vehicle's maneuverability bonus or penalty with his Pilot skill, turning all Piloting rolls into (Dexterity + Piloting x 2).
Alpha Strike: A character with this mastery halves the multiple action penalties of his actions for the purposes of attacks only with the caveat that the character must use all actions to attack. This mastery only works once per scene and is most typically used for a single, apocalyptic attack from surprise or a position of advantage that fires all of the vehicle's ordinance, an "alpha strike".
Assassin: A character with this mastery is particularly expert at taking targets down when undetected. A character with this mastery adds +(Stealth) damage to all attacks she makes when the opponent is unaware, and converts up to (Stealth) levels of post-soak damage into levels of damage instead.
Cloaking: A character with this mastery has an innate mastery of cover so well-honed that he halves all difficulty penalty for poor conditions when making stealth rolls. The character could sneak through a military base, in daytime, while wearing pure white with relatively little difficulty.
Blade in the Crowd: A character with this mastery is particularly good at blending into crowds. The character automatically escapes from pursuit as long as there is a sufficiently large crowd (>20 people) to blend into that the character can jump into without notice.
Infiltrator: A character with this mastery knows how to lurk at the corner of visibility to minimize suspicion on his disguise, adding +(Stealth) bonus dice to disguise rolls as he moves in such a way to minimize scrutiny.
Dead Man Walking: Most characters are Incapacitated when their Incapacitated level is filled with damage. A character with this ability is just getting started. Characters with this ability may pay 1 WP per turn to act while Incapacitated until they run out of WP or finally die.
Marathon Man: The character has increased his endurance to near-superhuman levels and can do strenuous activity for hours without tiring. Halve (round down) the difficulty of all endurance rolls for strenuous activity.
Made of Iron: The character is ridiculously tough and can survive a lot more punishment than he should. The character gains a number of -4 health levels equal to his (Resistance - 2).
Pain Don't Hurt: A character with this ability not only ignores wound penalties, but fights harder when wounded worse. A character with this mastery ignores wound penalties, and can reverse wound penalties for a scene at the cost of 1 willpower (that is to say, he gains dice rather than losing them).
All Doors Open: The character may either pick a lock without a roll or open them without proper tools with no penalty (not both), as long as the lock's difficulty is less than the character's Instrusion. This applies to all forms of lock.
The Aberrant (and to a greater extent, Storyteller system as a whole) had significant problems with modeling called shots, especially difficulties. The optional called shot subsystem here modifies several assumptions of the called shot "system".
- Called shots are always aimed: A character must take an aim action before a called shot, or suffer an additional +3 difficulty above and beyond the difficulty of the shot itself. Precise snap shooting is an art for superhumans, or practicing an action so much it becomes rote.
- Called shots are slow: A called shot makes the user go last during the turn it is used.
- Called shots are all-consuming: Called shots cannot be part of a multiple action due to the level of concentration required.
- Called shots are hard: The minimum difficulty of a called shot is +2, before any other modifiers are added in.
- Called shots are deadly: Called shots are capable of dealing extreme damage, reducing enemy soak and also causing horrific additional damage. These effects are examples of the deadliness of called shots. Difficulty is cumulative with the minimum +1 difficulty.
- Called Shot: Vitals (upper torso): Post-soak damage x 1.5 (round up fractional damage), +2 difficulty.
- Called Shot: Critical Organ (heart, brain, etc): post-soak damage x 2, +3 difficulty.
- Called Shot: Structural Weakpoint (eye or ear socket, sometimes joints, gaps between ribs): Further +2 difficulty, soak is halved, often combined with a critical organ shot attempt.
- Called shots are precise: You can also choose to inflict as few or as many levels of damage as you wish with a called shot in some circumstances. Called shots to weapons can disarm without hurting someone, while called shots to limbs can cripple without killing.
- Large Target (Limb, rifle, computer, briefcase): +1 difficulty, if limb, only deals up to 3 health levels and a crippling injury if any damage is dealt.
- Small Target (Pistol, PDA, hand): +2 difficulty, deals only 1 HL (but cripples).
- Very Small Target (finger, ring, earring): +4 difficulty.
- Called shots are showy: You can use a called shot to attempt to just mark a target, remove their clothing (with a bladed weapon), merely graze them with a firearm, so on and so forth. A stunt like that is typically +2 difficulty (above and beyond the normal called shot difficulty).
System Hacks alter base system assumptions to tweak the setting, lethality assumptions, or just about anything else to tailor the mechanics to support a campaign. The default Aberrant systems are not conducive for four-color worlds or modern comic books, but with these hacks they can be supported-or, in the reverse, you could take Aberrant away from superheroes and comic books.
Default System Assumptions
- Combat is fast and lethal: Two guys armed with firearms will, unless they have cover or other defensive advantages, kill each other very, very quickly. Two novas will tend to rip each other apart in less than 30 seconds.
- People are pretty tough against most things: Most people can reliably survive a gunshot or two as long as they can get medical aid. Medical technology is sufficient enough that infection and disease are largely ignorable as factors, outside of engineered superbugs.
- People are quite fragile when serious firepower comes out: Lots of weapons have damage adds, many weapons with enough to kill anyone they shoot no matter how badly they roll. Baselines can die very fast when serious guns start coming into play, and novas can shred them in the bucketload.
- Movement is semi-realistic, not gritty: People can run at full speed for quite a while before getting tired, make surprisingly high leaps, climb quite well, even if they aren't athletes. Even untrained athletes can keep up their pace for a fair while, and people don't have to worry about things like calluses and sprains without botched rolls.
Plot Shields: A D&D inspired one, this gives all characters (not just Paramorphs) Heroic Health tracks based on their total experience, increasing their toughness. This means the veteran soldier of a hundred battles is much less likely to get killed by a 14 year old with an AK than a newbie, giving some level of plot shields to the main characters-ideal for a high fantasy adventure, an action-movie inspired campaign, or any other heroic system. Characters gain a Heroic Health Track of 1 -0 HL per every 10-20 XP they have (depending on the pace of the game). This Heroic Health Track takes damage before normal health does and heals entirely at the end of every scene (or faster if the character has Paramorph knacks).