Aberrant 2.0 Societal Changes

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Overview

Having the power of a god gives the characters of an Aberrant campaign significant opportunity and leeway to alter society on a large scale. Novas are rare and powerful, and even a middling Nova can have a significant impact on local affairs, while high powered ones can easily shape the world. Even in a campaign where the characters are non-erupted baselines, it is possible for one man or woman, in the right place and at the right time, to change a nation. These rules are intended to provide a basic structure to how these alterations can be effected.

Traits

A society or nation's traits are representative of that society, giving an overall picture of its desirability, sophistication, and military might. These traits are on average for the region. 21st Century America, for example, has high overall traits, but due to its large size it consists of many, many other, smaller regions, some of which are truly awful.

Size

The Size parameter of an area determines what scale it operates on and therefore how easy or difficult it is to affect. This trait is generally one that is impossible to alter without drastic measures, and even then it is generally only possible to reduce it (via, for example, extensive nuclear weapons use, or a gene-select bioweapon) instead of increasing it.

  • Size 0: Very small village, less than 1,000 people
  • Size 1: Small town, ~10,000 people
  • Size 2: Large town/small city, ~100,000 people
  • Size 3: City, ~1 million people, (e.g. Eden, small Trinity extrasolar colonies)
  • Size 4: Metropolis/small nation, ~10 million people (e.g. Afghanistan)
  • Size 5: Small Country, ~50 million people (e.g. Iraq)
  • Size 6: Large Nation, ~200 million people (e.g. US)
  • Size 7: Bloc/Very Large Nation, ~500 million people (e.g. NATO, Warsaw Pact)
  • Size 8: Extremely Large Nation/Small Civilization, ~0.5-2 billion people (China, India, 1940s Earth)
  • Size 9: Civilization, ~10 billion people (Earth)
  • Size 10: Interstellar Civilization, ~50 billion people

Every rating of Size over 10 multiplies the population by 5. The size rating is helpful in determining overall industrial capacity and wealth, as well as military might. Furthermore, the size rating increases the difficulty of making wide-ranging societal changes due to the inertia wrought by sheer size. Multiply the minimum number of successes necessary by (1 + Size) for any roll to alter a parameter. For example, a roll which might require 10 successes base applied to a small nation of 10 million would require 50 successes.

Advancement

The Advancement category represents a nation's overall technological, societal, and economic sophistication, and are primarily raised by the application of Mental traits and abilities. The average rating of 21st century Earth pre-Eruption is 5, while 10 years post N-Day, the average rating for advancement is 6. Average ratings of Trinity Earth are around 7-8, while the Doyen and Coalition exceed 10 in their average advancement. The Chromatics generally average 0 in advancement.

In general, Advancement varies least out of all categories, with very little variation in an entire civilization. Some particularly isolationist or primitive enclaves might have lower technology (such as the Amish or the North Koreans), but much higher technology than the norm is practically unheard of. However, an apocalypse or the like might change this significantly.

A rough scale for the timeline of advancement is given below. Note that in some situations this may not apply:

  • Advancement 0: Neolithic
  • Advancement 1: Medieval Dark Ages
  • Advancement 2: Renaissance
  • Advancement 3: Industrial
  • Advancement 4: Early-mid 20th century
  • Advancement 5: Modern-Day (~late 20th century, early 21st)
  • Advancement 6: Near-future SF (Cyberpunk 2020, Deus Ex Human Revolution, Ghost in the Shell, etc.)
  • Advancement 7+: Science-Fiction

Physical Science

Physical science combines inorganic chemistry, mathematics, physics, engineering, and a host of other disparate categories. Physical science is primarily used to provide an idea of what a society can build and accomplish with its understanding of the world around it. Physical science is used to build pyramids, skyscrapers, trebuchets, tanks, fighter jets, and space battleships.

At Physical 0, stone tools and hides are the pinnacle of advancement, while at Physical 2 high-quality steel, wind/water power, and firearms/explosives exist. Physical 4 allows for the construction of early computers, jet engines, battleships, and skyscrapers, while at Physical 7 fusion is clean, cheap, and easy, energy weapons are commonplace, computers can have the raw processing capability of the human brain, and starfaring warships are possible.

Biology

Biology covers agriculture, medicine, and later genetic and cybernetic engineering. Biology tends to have a significant interplay with Physical Science, and is rarely more than a level above or behind physical science, since many of the tools are similar. Biology affects the quality of medical care, average life expectancy,

At Biology 0, there is no understanding of the methods of inheritance or disease, while at Biology 2 a basic understanding of germ theory and sanitation exists, and selective breeding occurs. Biology 5 allows for the initial engineering and direct genetic modification of plants and animals, as well as cures and vaccines for most, but not all, diseases. Prosthetics are also complex and capable of restoring nearly full everyday function. Biology 7 allows for cures for all mundane disease, genetic engineering, prosthetics that are strongly superhuman in ability, and more.

Sociology

Sociology and philosophy are two sides of the same coin. While philosophy covers the basic framework, sociology is applied to advertisement, how people respond to stimuli, economics, and governance. A society with high sociology is extremely sophisticated in its understanding of how to apply the quirks of human behavior to optimal ends-or how to reduce their effect.

Sociology 0 involves barter economies and no understanding of human nature, while at Sociology 2 you see the basic pinnings of propaganda, advertisement, and the makings of the modern nation-state. At Sociology 5, humanity has achieved significant but imperfect insight into human reactions to stimuli allowing the implementation of powerful targeted advertisement and propaganda. Sociology tiers above that allow for ever-increasing improvement in advertising, propaganda, and education.

Sociology increases the defense a society has against being altered via argument and debate-all rolls made to alter a societal trait require an additiona success per point of Sociology.

Philosophy

For the purposes of compressing fields into one, Philosophy covers the basics of reasoning, cognition, and morality. Eventually, at higher levels it also covers some level of cognitive sciences and the methods people think. A society with high philosophy ratings is extremely adept at understanding human cognition and unlocking the secrets of the universe-but similarly, it also has solid philosophical foundations to base counterargument on, making it more difficult to change.

Philosophy 0 means no high-level ethical or moral debate, while at Philosophy 2 you have the basics of modern philosophy, i.e. Descartes, Aquinas, Aristotle, Plato, and the frameworks they have created. Philosophy 5 is 21st century Earth, while at Philosophy 7 cognitive science and quantification of human thought and ethical frameworks exists.

Philosophy increases the defense a society has against being altered via argument and debate-all rolls made to alter a societal trait require an additiona success per point of Philosophy.

Society

Societal traits cover the overall desirability of a nation, city, or town as a place to live, compared to others of equal technological sophistication. From education to political freedom to access to necessities, societal traits can be altered by various methods from peaceful campaigning to violent revolution, but not all societies want to be changed, and not all changes are guaranteed to be positive.

A societal trait above 5 is considered to be high, while a societal trait at 3 or below is generally very bad.

Prosperity

A society's prosperity determines its average income. A more prosperous society can afford more luxuries and better quality necessities. First world nations generally have a high overall prosperity parameter, which allow even the poor of a first world nation to afford televisions, computers, and cars, while poor nations have low prosperity, so much of what the first world takes for granted is considered an unattainable luxury for many. Prosperity does not guarantee income equality, but it does help all walks of life from the ultra-rich to the dirt-poor.

Equality

Equality is a measure of income equality, discrimination by race, gender, or other factors, and political freedom, to some extent. High ratings in equality are common for utopian nations, especially socialist or communist utopias, while low ratings in equality are a common cyberpunk staple, with the rich living in absolute luxury while the poor scrape out a subsistence-level living on the streets.

Governmental Purity

Governmental purity is a measure of the lack of corruption in a government. A society with high governmental purity has a relatively benevolent government that only generally acts in the best interests of its people, while a government with low governmental purity is lousy with bribery, people in it for themselves, and only acts in preservation of the interests of those who bribe it with the most money. Note that what the government considers the best interests of its people and what the people think are not always the same. Trinity-era Germany has Governmental Purity 9, for example, but it uses thought control as a casual method of behavior alteration and provides no political freedom.

Development

A society's development is a measure of its access to necessities (and the quality of its necessities) such as food, shelter, education, and medical care. High prosperity and low development tend to mean low social mobility and high income inequality, while the reverse tends to mean a semi-ideal communist state of some sort.

Safety

Safety determines a society's overall safety. Safe societies have low crime, in-depth and effective safety codes for dangerous objects, and excellent emergency services. A society with low safety is in the throes of anarchy, with gang wars, race riots, or outright open rebellion going on in the streets, while a society with high safety is quiet and peaceful, where people can leave their doors unlocked all the time because there are no thieves.

Martial

Martial traits all alter the nation's ability to go to, and support conflict, whether it's small-scale such as turf wars or quelling riots, or global conflict. This trait category applies to violent conflict. In smaller cities and towns it represents police and militia, or occasionally gangsters, but in larger cases it represents professional (or conscripted) armed forces and their support apparatus.

Recruitment

Recruitment determines how many professional armed forces personnel (or police/gang members), whether conscripted or volunteer, a society can muster. Each point in Recruitment allows for 0.5% of the population to be full-time soldiers. Therefore most modern first world countries are at Recruitment 1, while the US is at Recruitment 3.

Reserves

Reserves determines how many people a society has that possess the necessary skills to be semi-effective on the battlefield, but are not full time professional soldiers. Reserves can take many forms, from a national guard to PMCs for hire to a bunch of militia with pickups and rifles. Each point in Reserves adds 2% of the population as viable soldiers in an emergency.

Training

Training is how well the professional and reserve forces of a nation are trained and their loyalty to the unit. Most first world militaries average a 5 or so in training, with particularly elite armed forces possibly edging into a 6 and particularly incompetent ones at 4. On the flipside, the worst Middle Eastern armies have a training score of 1 or even 0.

Equipment

Equipment is what a society can provide its combatants with during times of war. Equipment details what the professional soldiers and cream of the crop get, and to some extent what reservists may be able to use. For what is common and ubiquitious, look at "Proliferation", below. Most first world militaries have Equipment 10, which allows for any level of tactical or strategic firepower and cutting-edge equipment. Meanwhile, gangs often make do with Equipment 1, giving them only light infantry, civilian vehicles, and a handful of illegal small arms.

Proliferation

Proliferation determines if the weapons, bombs, and other implements of war so necessary for fighting are available to civilians. Places with no restrictions on personal ownership of weapons would have Proliferation 10, while a society that disallows the ownership of anything more dangerous than a knife would be Proliferation 0-2, dependent if the materials needed for homemade bombs and incendiaries are tightly controlled as well or not.

Cutural

Cultural traits represent a society's overall attitudes. Some traits are paired, with two opposing traits a society can have only one of. These paired traits are not rated on the same scale as other traits-instead you may have either one of the two traits, at 0-5. A trait rating of 0 in a paired trait means the society is roughly at the middle of the scale.

Nationalism

Nationalism is how well a population identifies as people of that nation. Highly nationalistic nations are generally quite stable, while ones with low levels of nationalism are a few steps away from civil war via sectarian or political reasons. However, high nationalism is not always a good thing, as it brings a certain level of arrogance and often a level of significant risk of jingoism and militarism taking over before cooler heads prevail.

Conservatism/Liberalism

No, this isn't a political spectrum measure of how left- or right-wing a nation is. The conservatism or liberalism of a society is the willingness of a society to accept new ideas and discard old ones. More conservative societies will prefer to stick to old methods and prefer gradual change if at all, while more liberal societies find it easy to accept new ways of acting and new ideas.

Each point in Conservatism increases the base number of successes needed on a roll to alter society by 2 (before size), while each point of Liberalism does the opposite.

Cosmopolitanism/Xenophobia

The cosmopolitanism or xenophobia of a society shows how willing it is to accept or deny outsiders and their ideas. Xenophobic societies are insular and quick to dismiss ideas that originate outside of their society, while cosmopolitan ones quickly assimilate any ideas no matter their source as long as they sound good.

(need 1 or 2 more cultural traits)

Societal Mores

Societies have cultural "mores", which are behaviors it specifically encourages or discourages, basic cultural tenets, and so on that are not easily expressed by simple sliders or dot ratings. These are single phrases or short sentences, that describe parts of a society and can be changed over time. Mores are things such as "We deserve to be the strongest nation in the world", "The white man is a superior race to people of other colors", "technology and science hold the answers to all problems in the universe", and so on. Attempts to enact societal change alongside a cultural more benefit from an additional automatic success on all rolls, while attempts to change society that go directly against one of the mores adds +2 difficulty to all rolls.

An attempt to enact societal change can be related to multiple mores, benefitting from some yet going against others. In that case, total up the net effect.

Stability

Stability is a society's ability to sustain itself in its current form, a combination of societal willpower and health track. Damaging stability can create revolution, but unless the underlying culture is changed, the resulting government will be very similar to the original one in power. Trading one horse for another may be what you want, but if one seeks to use revolution for societal change, one must undermine the foundations before going in for the kill.

Altering Traits

A character may alter the traits of a society using his abilities, slowly shaping it via one of various methods. Most of these methods are difficult and time-consuming, but bring wide-ranging societal change to an area with varying degrees of success.

XP Spending

Characters may spend XP to improve their society, rather than themselves. As XP is some sort of abstraction of experience, worldly learning, and training, this represents spending downtime and training opportunities to do grassroots action, campaign, talk about the experiences (rather than practicing the lessons learned from them), and so on.

1 XP point spent in this fashion adds 1 success to the progress of a project. This may only be done with Storyteller approval and should only be allowable during downtime. The Storyteller should veto changes that are too rapid, unless a valid explanation is given and accepted.

Uplifting

Increasing a culture's technological advancement via education and technical assistance is one method of improving the standard of living for a society. To achieve this, a character must roll Intelligence + (lowest of relevant Engineering/Science/Academics abilities + Instruction). This initial planning can be done as a group, in which case use the highest abilities in the group to determine the group's relevant Engineering/Science/Academics abilities and Instruction.

An Uplift is difficult to achieve without actual help from a society backing you with funding and equipment, and the larger the other party, the harder it is to uplift. Each point in the Size of an actively participating society adds 1 automatic success to an uplift attempt, while each point of Size in the society being uplifted adds +1 difficulty to the uplift attempt. The difficulty of an uplift is further increased by the difference in technological levels. Uplifting is already base +1 difficulty, but each level of difference between the current and end technological advancement of the society adds an additional +1 to difficulty.

The base number of successes required for an Uplift is equal to (20 + 5 * Xenophobia). Each roll takes the interval of 1 month. Successful uplift increases any one category of advancement in the uplifted society by 1. The uplifted society cannot have its advancement uplifted beyond the uplifting society.

Societal Alterations

To alter a single facet of society, a character can take two basic methods: A more violent approach, or a nonviolent approach. Although the former is clearly easier and more straightforward, it brings its own significant risks.

Politics

Violence

Violent attacks against government and society can change a society very quickly and effectively. The problem is, violent attack has the highest chance of blowback, generally makes you very hated very fast, and is unpredictable at best. More importantly, blowing up rich people or important government buildings tends to bring retaliation in the forms of deadly military hardware, soldiers, and even supersoldiers. Examples of violent attacks against society are inciting riots, burning down government buildings, and so on.

The specifics for the effects of a violent attack are up to the ST, but as a rule of thumb if a session involves a concerted attack on a major facet of government or symbol of society that stands in the way of a societal change, the ST should award approximately as many automatic successes towards the change as the ST generally awards XP.

Externalities

Altering one cultural trait rarely leaves the others unchanged. A single alteration can create multiple externalities, some positive, some negative, as the changes in one area have aftershocks in others. A single change in an area may have any number of externalities, some good, some bad. Each externality rolls 1 die, and if that die comes up a success the externality takes full effect. However, a character may attempt to reduce the number of potential externalities by rolling (Intelligence + relevant ability), difficulty equal to the total number of externalities, with each net success allowing the character to increase the target number of the roll (normally 7) by 1 per success, up to 10. This represents taking explicit steps to prevent spillover from the changes wrought, but affects all externalities, not just undesired ones.

Example: Amber Vasquez, a Nova senator, successfully makes a powerful argument for additional taxes on luxury goods and capital gains to pay for further unemployment insurance and government work and education programs for the poor. This achieves her desired goal of increasing Equality by 1. Furthermore, the reduction in the unemployed and desperate poor can reduce crime rates, potentially increasing Safety by 1 as well. However, the additional taxes drive the prices of luxury goods upwards, possibly reducing Prosperity by 1, and creates an alternative for military service as a method to escape the ghettos, potentially reducing Recruitment by 1.

Example Societies

Aberrant Earth

Aberrant Earth, Circa 2040. The home many character miss.

Size 9 (~8 billion people)
Advancement: Phsyical Science: 6, Biology: 6, Sociology: 6, Philosophy: 6
Society: Prosperity: 6, Equality: 2, Purity: 4, Development: 6, Safety: 4
Martial: Recruitment: 4, Reserves: 4, Training: 4, Equipment: 6 (hodgepodge of stuff), Proliferation: 2
Mores:
Novas are the path to the future. They are our saviors and benefactors.
We are in a golden age of peace and prosperity. Things will get better tomorrow as they always have.

China 2040

The rising juggernaut of China is something the West simultaneously embraces and fears, creating what might be either the most hostile friendship or friendliest cold war that has ever occurred.

Size 8: (~1.8 billion people)
Advancement: Phsyical Science: 6, Biology: 6, Sociology: 6, Philosophy: 6
Society: Prosperity: 6, Equality: 3, Purity: 5, Development: 7, Safety: 4
Martial: Recruitment: 1, Reserves: 2, Training: 5, Equipment: 8, Proliferation: 1

EU 2040

Stil keeping on keeping on.

Size 8: (~800 million people)
Advancement: Phsyical Science: 6, Biology: 6, Sociology: 6, Philosophy: 6
Society: Prosperity: 8, Equality: 5, Purity: 7, Development: 7, Safety: 6
Martial: Recruitment: 1, Reserves: 1, Training: 5, Equipment: 8, Proliferation: 2

US 2040

America fuck yeah. Still rich, still with a huge divide between rich and poor, and still overmilitarized. Still, overall, a pretty nice place to live.

Size 7: (~350 million people)
Advancement: Phsyical Science: 6, Biology: 6, Sociology: 6, Philosophy: 6
Society: Prosperity: 8, Equality: 3, Purity: 6, Development: 7, Safety: 6
Martial: Recruitment: 3, Reserves: 3, Training: 5, Equipment: 10, Proliferation: 4
Mores:
Anyone can succeed if they try.
Democracy and choice are good.
The rich deserve what they have.

Trinity Earth

Earth circa 2150 is stil Earth, but not quite as nice, since it was in a huge war 80 years ago that devastated ecosystems and many countries. Similarly, it is far more militaristic than Aberrant-era Earth, owing to the constant threat of Chromatics, Aberrants, and other creatures lurking among the stars.

Size 9 (~12 billion people)
Advancement: Phsyical Science: 7, Biology: 8, Sociology: 7, Philosophy: 7
Society: Prosperity: 6, Equality: 2, Purity: 4, Development: 5, Safety: 4
Martial: Recruitment: 8, Reserves: 6, Training: 5, Equipment: 7, Proliferation: 3
Mores:
Aberrants are horrific monsters who see themselves as gods.
Psions are our key to victory and can be trusted.
Our destiny lies among the stars.

China 2150

The world's longest surviving superpower. Those 90 years of recovery got it a lot more powerful really fast.

Size 8: (~1.8 billion people)
Advancement: Phsyical Science: 7, Biology: 8, Sociology: 7, Philosophy: 8
Society: Prosperity: 8, Equality: 5, Purity: 7, Development: 8, Safety: 6
Martial: Recruitment: 3, Reserves: 3, Training: 6, Equipment: 10, Proliferation: 2
Mores:
Those without guilt have nothing to hide.
Power is nothing without responsibility.
The ends justify the means if the ends are good.
Personal freedom is second place to personal responsibility.

The FSA

One smiley sums this up. :911:

Size 7: (~500 million people)
Advancement: Phsyical Science: 7, Biology: 8, Sociology: 7, Philosophy: 7
Society: Prosperity: 8, Equality: 2, Purity: 3, Development: 7, Safety: 4
Martial: Recruitment: 4, Reserves: 5, Training: 5, Equipment: 9, Proliferation: 5
Mores:
The weak suffer what they must, the strong do as they wish.
Those who do not fall into line are deviants and must be re-educated.
We have a divine mandate to reclaim the glory of our days as sole superpower of the world.
Military strength is national strength.

Eden

Land of the Novas. The home all the other characters miss. Sure it's not all that equal and there's definitely pro-Nova bias, but it's rich and the people there are happy, baseline or nova. Runs basically 100% on noblesse oblige.

Size 3: (~600K people)
Advancement: Phsyical Science: 7, Biology: 6, Sociology: 6, Philosophy: 7
Society: Prosperity: 10, Equality: 2, Purity: 8, Development: 8, Safety: 8
Martial: Recruitment: 0, Reserves: 1, Training: 6, Equipment: 3 (no heavy war equipment), Proliferation: 10
Mores:
Novas are natural rulers of man due to their superiority.
As gods among men, Novas have a responsibility to be compassionate and generous towards their lessers.
As cogs in the machine, baselines have a responsibility to look up to and act in the benefit of their rulers at all times.

Chromatics

Fucking Laser Dinosaurs.

Size 8: (~2 billion laser dinosaurs)
Advancement: Phsyical Science: 0, Biology: 1, Sociology: 0, Philosophy: 0
Society: Prosperity: 1, Equality: 0 (the strong have palaces, the weak farm fungus), Purity: 0, Development: 3, Safety: 0
Martial: Recruitment: 20, Reserves: 30 (EVERYONE FIGHTS NO ONE QUITS), Training: 0, Equipment: 3 (little heavy war equipment), Proliferation: 10
Mores:
The weak suffer what they must, the strong do as they wish.
The human race must be exterminated. Their destruction is the will of the gods, and we are their instrument.
The gods are our benefactors and guardians, who have saved us from the human race and united us in conflict against them.

Coalition

OH GOD WHY OH GOD WHY

Size 10+: (over 50 billion angry rape aliens)
Advancement: Phsyical Science: 10+, Biology: 10+, Sociology: 10+, Philosophy: 6
Society: Prosperity: 10, Equality: 10, Purity: 10, Development: 10, Safety: 10
Martial: Recruitment: 40 (Spinals Hate You), Reserves: 0, Training: 10, Equipment: 10, Proliferation: 0 (non-spinals literally can't fight)
Mores:
We are one species, one weapon, united with a goal to stop the Doyen menace and restore the golden age that came before.
The eons-long galactic war must end with us victorious.
It is an honor to be selected to become part of us. Resistance is just the blind lashing out of species that do not understand.
We are all tools, created for a specific purpose, and must carry that purpose out as best we can.

Aresia

Land of the color coded, scantily-clad amazons living on a dying desert rock.

Size 4 (~8 million people)
Advancement: Physical Science: 4, Biology: 6, Sociology: 2, Philosophy: 2
Society: Prosperity: 5, Equality: 5, Purity: 4, Development: 2 (now 3), Safety: 3
Martial: Recruitment: 4, Reserves: 5, Training: 5, Equipment: 6 (no computers, aircraft, missiles, MGs, etc), Proliferation: 10
Mores:
 ???