ABERRANT STORYTELLERS HANDBOOK Edit
The Aberrant Storytellers Handbook (ASH) will follow in the same tradition as the existing Aberrant Players Guide, the Trinity Storytellers Handbook we’ve already done, and the Storytellers Handbooks for the various World of Darkness game lines. We'll do our best to make this as good as any official product. Knowledge of the Trinity Universe is key to this project – if you want to work on the Æon Society chapter, you better be familiar with all the Æon stuff mentioned in previous Aberrant books, as well as a decent familiarity with the Adventure! game line for the historical section.
The word count for this book will be 120,000 - 150,000 words. The outline assumes 130,000 words, giving all the authors a collective 20,000 word leeway. I’m familiar with some of you from the TSH, so some of the work will already be assigned. Otherwise, feel free to grab any section you like, as long as no one else is working on it (or several of you can collaborate... whatever you prefer). I'm not going to assign jobs until I know who's capable of what. But I encourage you all to work with each other — talk to me, talk to each other, brainstorm, and so on. Aside from the stuff I'd like included, go ahead and go crazy. But please talk to me if you have any odd stuff in mind.
Be sure you read this whole outline.
A small primer to submitting work:
- Read the Game Writer Guidelines available at: http://www.white-wolf.com/Games/Pages/GameWriter%27sGuidelines.html
- When writing, be evocative yet streamlined. Active voice, not passive. Make the events immediate to the reader; draw them in deeper with every paragraph. Don’t restrict yourself to “here’s some information.” Show, don’t tell.
- Whatever topic you have, write the main narrative in Rules-speak. The main narrative should be pretty straightforward, speaking conversationally to the reader without the attributions and game universe myopia.
- There are two types of sidebars: Setting and Rules. Always remember, though, that sidebars should never be more than 300 words long! If it’s longer than that, it’s not a sidebar. Exceptions do exist, but they’re the exception rather than the rule.
In case any of this sounds complicated, just think how White Wolf tends to do most of the books. The main narrative is usually an unnamed neutral individual, while the sidebars are a mix of in-character subjective stuff and rules-specific asides.
Introduction: This Is Superfriends [6K] Edit
A bit of an “I Am Not Spock”/”I Am Spock” riff there. The “you are having BadWrong Fun” vibe of the intro to the APG rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Let’s ease that. Aberrant is whatever people make it, Superfriends included. The superpowers genre comes from comic books, after all. We’re not forgetting Aberrant’s origins, nor are we going to alienate comic fans (because honestly, it’s largely comics fans who are playing Aberrant).
We’re also looking for the usual “What’s in this book” section. Also do an FAQ, as was done in the TSH. Maybe a developer’s note for Aberrant fans? Trinity players saw us in the TSH, but that might not necessarily be the same audience.
Chapter One: The Æon Society [15K] Edit
We know next to nothing about the Æon Society of the Nova Age. So tell me about it. Make it a fully-fledged organization, with plenty of story potential. Or even an allegiance characters could join. There was no Æon chapter in the APG, so you’re covering both sides of the coin here.
Besides the skinny on the Society, tell me about the history of Æon. Broad strokes from the ‘20s to the ‘40s, and then more detail from there on out. The upcoming Aberrant War supplement (set in the ‘40s) will build on the information provided here, as will the Action! chapter later on in this book.
Tell me about the Projects (remember, we’re assuming the Pandora letter in the APG was written by Margaret, not Max). That’s the familiar Pandora and Tantalus as well as the lesser-known Cyclops and Argonaut. What do they do, what are they up to. Build off the little we know from the aforementioned APG letter.
Also give the Triton Foundation a good chunk of space. We don’t really know much about it besides the miracle cures that have come out of it as a result of nova assistance. Tell us all about it (and its possible origins as the Neptune Foundation)?
Throw in the World 1/World 2 sidebar.
Chapter Two: Quantum Mechanics [20K] Edit
There's some great stuff in the TSH’s Aberrant chapter. That stuff spoke mostly about the difference between quantum and taint, but mostly focused on taint. This chapter will cover the other half of the story. Tell me all about quantum, and how it works. Taint as a side effect (and how the Chrysalis fits in). While we’re speaking as the omniscient observer, remember to try to stay within the knowledge scientists in the Aberrant Era would have. If you’re stepping outside those bounds, be sure to say so. “Scientists in the Nova Age have little inkling of this, but…” And so on.
Refer to the odd occurrence of the fabled low-taint nova (roughly 1:20, as per Trinity), represented mechanically by the Merit found in the APG.
The Unknown. Researchers can probably figure out that there’s more going on that just quantum (i.e. psi). Particularly the researchers who know about psychomorphs. What’s going on? What are the current theories? It’s probably a particularly irksome problem to Mega-Intelligent novas, since using their quantum abilities to research psi ends up interfering with it.
Also mention paramorphs. Tantalus is having a tough time discovering paramorphs because their “powers” don’t appear to use any energy, quantum or otherwise.
Further, talk about Storytelling options. Running a good game doesn’t require quantum powerhouses. Bring up examples of low-power “novas” who are nonetheless popular and quite accomplished. Spider-Man, fr’ex. Lower-powered games (or low-powered novas in a higher-powered game), and what to do with them. Then go in the other direction. What sort of challenges can you toss at a high-powered nova? What if the PCs get up to the point where they can use the powers from the APG? How do I, as a Storyteller, handle that?
Chapter Three: Storytelling Edit
The TSH’s version of this chapter covered all the main sci-fi subgenres and how they could be played in Trinity’s existing setting. I’m not sure if Aberrant’s superpowers setting has that many subgenres to work with, but do what you can.
There’s not much to say about this. You’ve seen one Storytelling chapter, you’ve seen them all. Try to provide useful information for newbies and veterans alike. If I want to throw the setting and metaplot out the window, why should I use Aberrant for my generic supers game? Give me convincing reasons.
Chapter Four: The Trinity Universe Edit
This chapter takes a step back and looks at Aberrant from the point of view of the TU as a whole. How does Aberrant fit in with the other two games? If you were looking at each individual game, what would you tell someone about Aberrant to get them interested? Aberrant is a puzzle piece. Tell me how it fits into the rest of the puzzle. And other clichés. This will be the main text of this chapter. But we’ll also include:
- Crossover - With the Aberrant Era as the centerpiece, tell me how to play other stuff in Aberrant. Psiads. Paramorphs. If rules exist, refer to them. If they don't exist, make them up. Tell me how to incorporate them, where I'd find them within the setting. And if you've got the space for it, tell me how to incorporate World of Darkness stuff, or even Age of Sorrows. And since we don't have to worry about sales figures, we can add stuff like Wraith and Changeling in there, although that's provided we've got the space. If all else fails, free web supplement.
The crossover portion of this chapter and the next chapter blend together. Try and keep them distinct.
Chapter Five: Infinite Earths [15K] Edit
As in “Crisis On.” A witty comics reference. Guffaw!
Yes. Well. This is the chapter where we explore possibilities. There are probably a lot of people who use Aberrant as a basis to do something out of the ordinary. I’m not talking generic supers (that’s for Chapter Three). Maybe paramorphs erupted rather than novas. How would the Fireman have come to the public eye? Does the media latch onto them as much (with a P! network)?. What if Æon was trying to shut down novas while the Directive was run by them? Would Project Proteus be a secret nova organization trying to convert Æon from within? Shuffle things up and make them all sound like I absolutely have to play them. The Aberrant Era should remain the central element, where possible. The Mage ST Handbook has a bunch of stuff on alternate Mage settings which is wonderfully applicable here.
Chapter Six: Alternate Setting: Action! [15K] Edit
I don’t think we’ll have any trouble filling out the wordcount here. You can go above 15K if you have a lot to say.
This is a semi-canon Aberrant setting, set in the 1970s and ‘80s. It was Divis Mal’s first attempt to make humanity erupt. He was only partially successful, so he did it again the right way in 1998. So it’s mostly eximorphs and paramorphs, with the occasional psychomorph. Most of the latter will probably end up as villains.
We’re patterning this after the popular television series of the time. Murder, She Wrote. Knight Rider. MacGyver. The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman. You get the idea. Hell, even various Hong Kong action movies work, as do blaxploitation flicks.
Protagonists will likely be working for Æon’s “Neptune Foundation” in some respect (think the Phoenix Foundation and Knight Foundation from MacGyver and Knight Rider). Come up with other allegiances and antagonist groups as you see fit. Keep both Adventure! and Aberrant organizations and continuity in mind, please.
A few theoretical stories, a mini-ST section on the era’s theme and mood. Character creation rules (largely the same, but with fewer nova points and some restrictions on allowed abilities). New powers/knacks and such. Go crazy.
Chapter Seven: Option: Alternate Character Creation [15K] Edit
Aberrant obviously already uses the two-step character creation system. Rules for psychomorphs are already given in the APG. So character creation (step two only) for paramorphs will go here, I suppose.
The wordcount mentioned above is very much tentative. This will get merged with Chapter Four unless someone has some good suggestions for what could go in here.
Appendix I: Animals [3K] Edit
I don’t see them playing a big part in most Aberrant stories, but you never know when you’ll need stats on a dog or a dolphin. This is really just a bunch of brief descriptions and sample templates of different critters one may run into in the Trinity Universe. We can pretty much copy this whole cloth from the TSH.
Appendix II: In Our Next Issue… [8K] Edit
Refer to the Story So Far in the soft cover Trinity core (or on the WW site). Do that, but for what's already happened in Aberrant, since about 1998.
Then cover, in broad strokes, what happens in the future up until the end of the Aberrant War (2061). I imagine that the farthest we’ll ever go with printed (or not-printed, in our case) books is 2030, but it can’t hurt to have more information. The info on the Aberrant War will prove useful for the related series of books we’ll do.
I’d like one! This may just be an index for the STH, but if there’s time I’d like to do one that references all existing supplements. Yes, all.