Aberrant 2.0 Shards
Aberrant 2.0 has a few setting choices which use the same ruleset, but vary in execution and elements. Like the rest of 2.0, none of these settings are canon, and any one of them can be played with the system. All of them, in a way, focus on the ability of a Nova to alter society, to break limitations, and to turn established social orders upside down.
The Golden Age
In the year 1929, the passenger liner Galatea exploded for unknown reasons, spreading a strange radiation across the earth, causing Geiger counters to rattle madly for days. At the end of this episode, even stranger things happened. Men and women with supernatural powers started appearing throughout the world, capable of advancing science with leaps and bounds, powerful, beautiful creatures like gods. The Great Depression ended before it began with a shock, countries prospered as Novas solved problem after problem... but still, the one evil Novas could not cure is the evil in men's hearts.
The World is at the brink of war, the Axis powers conquering nation after nation, seeking redresses for past wrongs. You have the power of a god. What will you do in an unjust world? Will you seek to make it better, and perhaps shatter it? Will you destroy it to build a new world order? Or will you abandon it for something else entirely?
The Golden Age shares the themes of classic Aberrant, just juxtaposed on a more primitive age.
- Novas are weaker: Golden Age Novas are significantly weaker than default setting ones, being built on 30 rather than 45 NP, and with a maximum starting Quantum, Mega-Attribute, and Power limit of 3 dots in any power. They are more easily threatened by the primitive weapons that exist.
- Technology is more Advanced: Despite the year being "only" 1939, breakneck advancements from Nova scientists have made the situation more akin to 1959. Primitive radar and infrared-guided missiles exist, the average soldier has a flak jacket and an AK-47alike, starlight scopes, primitive electronics, and jet engines are more common than they should be. Novatech and innovative super-science have stepped in to fill the gaps with technologies akin to pulp sci-fi. Death Rays, Microwave Guns, Electromagnetic Machine Guns, War Robots, War Walkers... the list goes on and on. Strangely, though, the atom bomb has not yet been invented.
- But Society Is Not: It's still 1939. Society is racist, sexist, classist, and all those other -ist things.
This is the "default" Aberrant 2.0 setting, an updated version of the original Aberrant setting, with the Galatea explosion dated to 2012 and the setting picking up at 2027, 15 years later. Emergent technology exists, but is still emergent. There may be cyberlimbs and augmented supersoldiers, but they are the crude chrome weapons of Cyberpunk 2020 or Deus Ex: Human Revolution rather than the slick perfect melds of flesh and machine. Weapons may use advanced ammunition, but they still shoot bullets.
The Classic is about conspiracy, celebrity, changing the world with a power of a god, the question about what normal people do when all their wishes come true at a cost, and how intolerance and prejudices and human nature can ruin even the most wonderful gifts. It's Aberrant, in other words, with the same emphasis, the same satire, and much of the same geopolitical conspiracy bent.
The Classic has no special assumptions. It is the default which Aberrant 2.0 is built on.
What if in the midst of a stable, transitional economy world, the Novas erupted? What if instead of erupting in a world like today, Novas erupted in a world like Eclipse Phase pre-fall, or Transhuman Space? A world with transhumans, with upgrades and interplanetary travel, a world a hundred years into the future where the question of "what does it mean to be truly human" is asked and asked again. A world where the rich are immortal, beautiful reconstructions while the poor still toil away in their baseline bodies.
A world turned upside down by the eruption of Novas. The poor now had a shot at social mobility again, the longshot of eruption, while the rich had engineered cancer out of their own bodies-to learn, too late, that the M-R node was a form of cancer, one which could unlock great power had someone given it the right catalyst. A world turned to chaos. But the rich know, the rich adapt, and the rich upgrade. If Nova latency is a genetic sequence, if it can be unlocked by danger, then they would do what was necessary.
The year is 2100. The question is not solely "what will you do with the power of a god". That's the second part. The first part is just as open-ended. "What price are you willing to pay when godhood can be bought"?
Human Plus is about humanity, and what the term means, and about new frontiers and shattered boundaries. Is a Nova human? Is a cyborg? What about uploads? Erupting can happen in anyone, rich or poor, or it can be bought. Eruption can be induced.
- First Among Equals: There are quite capable transgenic and cybernetic upgrades, but Novas are still above and beyond them. First among equals. A Mentat upgrade may be able to achieve superhuman cognition, but any Nova with significant Mega-Intelligence can blow it out of the water... and what about Novas who erupt while possessing upgraded bodies? Those may be truly fearsome. As long as the brain has that one specific strand of junk DNA that codes for the M-R node,
- The Social Order Upside Down: Erupting as a Nova requires a very specific strand of junk DNA, one which most high-end upgrades have lost as it increases susceptibility to brain cancers. Even with the ability to engineer bodies capable of eruption, the order has suffered more than a few shocks.
- The Mind Unchained: With brainstate backups and cloning, anyone can be immortal. Novas may need to jump through far more hoops to get it, but that's not impossible to do. In game terms, a Nova without Parasitic Possession or another power which allows them to abandon their human form is incapable of using a cortical stack backup, and without some new powers (listed below), Novas cannot use hard-copy backup.
- Induced Eruption: Eruptions can be induced (albeit either unsafely or at exorbitant cost), which is another point of inequality. You can either try your luck on the criminal markets or you can throw millions of dollars into an induced eruption that should be safer but not always. It is always possible, though. Anyone can buy the power of a god.
It is over a thousand years in the future. The human race has undergone a significant disapora, spreading slowly via Bussard ramjet starships, building colony after colony, altering themselves into a dozen different species. Humanity had thought itself at a technological peak, never being able to exceed it, more or less stagnated. And then one entirely accidental discovery turned the world upside down. Novas, Psions, Daredevils. Superscience. Working FTL. No technological limitations after all.
Alien races. Humanity, a scant century before, could not comprehend the idea that perhaps they might be freed from the constraints of relativity, of slower than light travel. Now, humanity plays a galactic chess game with aliens, hostile, friendly, neutral, while threats loom on the horizon.
Final Frontier is space opera with supermen. Taint may be a question, but it is not "a big deal", it's just a fact of life to be mitigated as best as possible, with cures (that are almost worse than the disease), with systems to deal with the issue. Interstellar wars can happen, interstellar trade is a viable method of making money, and anyone relatively well off can own a starship as if it was a luxury car. Most any Space Opera inspiration is valid.
On the flipside, it is still about Novas and how they have changed society. Unlike the other settings, Novas have fundamentally altered the universe. They have given humanity the secret of FTL, they accidentally spawned Psions and Daredevils in their experimentations, they have granted humanity the ability to compete on the galactic stage against a host of mysterious and advanced aliens. They have allowed interstellar wars, they have created the need for space navies, they have opened Pandora's Box.
- Induced Eruption: Eruptions can be induced, and most in fact are. Natural eruptions are now a minority. Novas have been a critical part of society for nearly a century now, most polities consider them vital assets to national security.
- Space Travel is Cheap: FTL is cheap, and so are starships. Anyone reasonably rich can own one. Most people can travel interstellar, there are uncountable numbers of minor and major colonies, space piracy exists, and so on. Basically, it's Star Wars, not Trinity, in terms of space travel.
- Floppytech is King: There's been a century to play with super-scientific developments such as antigravity, FTL drives, plasma cannon, and whathaveyou. Technology is extremely advanced. Blaster rifles, form-fitting powersuits with energy fields, and other wackiness tends to dominate the staid good old fashioned guns of yore. Of course, low-tech solutions can work perfectly well, and there's no better way to tell someone they aren't invulnerable than a self-forging hypercore penetrator.
- No Longer Gods: Novas and Psions are a bit more vulnerable when everyone can pack a pulse cannon and a powersuit which gives them +3 to all physical attributes above and beyond heavy genetic and cybernetic enhancement. Of course, Novas and Psions can use technology as well and often do to augment their paranormal abilities.
- Humanity is Not Special: Every alien race has its equivalents to Novas and Psions. They may be weaker but more numerous or stronger but rarer, they may be ubiquitious and powerful and make up for lower technology, but humanity isn't inherently special for having supermen.
- War Never Changes: Cheap FTL and space travel have made war possible again, whereas interstellar conflict was impossible due to STL travel taking decades and being amazingly expensive. Occasional border skirmishes, conquests, rebellions, and political intrigue go on day by day.
- Rubber Forehead Aliens: In Final Frontier, the aliens are generally not the inhuman ones of the classic Trinity setting, although those too exist.