Chapter 5: The Trinity Universe Edit
So far, we've covered a number of the elements that differentiate the Trinity Universe, and the Unity Era in particular, from the world outside your window. Now it's time to step back and take a look at a bigger picture.
- [This chapter sort of takes a step back and looks at Trinity from the point of view of the TU as a whole. How does Trinity fit in? If you were looking at each individual game, what would you tell someone about Trinity to get them interested? Trinity is a puzzle piece. Tell me how it fits into the rest of the puzzle. And so on. This will be the main text of this chapter.]
The Trinity Universe is based on three overlapping genres of 20th-century fiction, each noted for larger-than-life protagonists with superhuman abilities: science fiction (in various media), superhero comics and 1930s pulp magazines. Each of these genres, in a certain sense, includes the other two. Similarly, each Trinity Universe game emphasizes one of those genres, but includes elements of the other two.
Trinity is the science fiction game, so it takes a fundamentally science-fictional view of the universe. Superhuman protagonists (such as psions, the novas of the Aberrant Era or the Inspired of the Adventure Era) are a staple of SF, and the "space-opera" genre began in pulps like those that inspired Adventure! Trinity is simply set in the era when the greatest number of trappings we've come to think of as science-fictional (space exploration, contact with aliens, technology far in advance of the present) are in place.
Aspects of SF Edit
One key narrative purpose of aliens is to illuminate aspects of the human condition we usually take for granted. Some aliens do this by exaggerating a particular human trait; others, by lacking it entirely, or at least having it greatly reduced. John W. Campbell, the legendary editor of science fiction's Golden Age, challenged his authors to create aliens who were just as smart as humans, but whose intelligence operated on utterly different principles.
The OpNet does not work completely like the "cyberspace" of late 20th- and early 21st-century cyberpunk SF. Direct neural interfaces are still a long way away, for one thing.
[Luna, the FSA, shattered Europe.]
Even Eden, the "nova"-ruled colony planet, is not quite the paradise it seems; the novas are definitely on top of the social order. If the Nova Age of the early 21st century had progressed without Æon's intervention, 22nd-century Earth might have such a social system, with nova overlords ruling a largely acquiescent "baseline" majority.
Other Worlds Edit
SF Horror Edit
The other purpose of aliens is to embody the Other — those aspects of the human condition, or of life in the universe, that humans would prefer to deny. They are the Monster, the Enemy; if they survive, we cannot.
The most obvious example of this, in the Trinity Universe, is the Aberrants. Every human from Earth, and from most colony worlds, grew up thinking of Aberrants as the embodiment of evil. (The main exceptions are the inhabitants of Rushing Mountain, Nippon's space colony from Asia Ascendant, and the baselines of Eden.) Like the Terminator in the classic movies, Aberrants (in the popular imagination) cannot be reasoned with; they do not feel pain, or fear, or pity; and once they decide, or are told, to kill a human, they will not stop trying until that human is dead. Perhaps the worst thing about them, though, is that some of them used to be humans.
[The Coalition, the Chromatic war.]
Space Travel Edit
Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos tell the tale of a far-future human empire held together by technological teleportation, and of what succeeds that empire when the teleportation system is lost.
We've covered the essential science-fictional trappings in Trinity terms, but science fiction isn't just about spaceships and bug-eyed monsters. It's about asking "What if?"
Each of the three themes of the Trinity Universe comes into play in different ways in the different games.
Science fiction caters to the grandest parts of human nature, the epitome of who we could be rather than who we actually are. In other words, it's all about hope.
The 2120s are not a perfect time by any stretch of the imagination — there are people living in Outback communities who would envy the standard of living in the real world's 2004, never mind that of the Aberrant Era. On the other hand, there are technologies in existence that we would envy just as much. 
The human race in the Unity Era doesn't have all the answers, but it does have many more of them than we do today, and is starting to ask some better questions as well. America is no longer a first-rank nation, but .
Many thinkers and dreamers have argued that, as the human race grows more sophisticated, we will put aside our national differences, or at least stop viewing them as reasons to kill each other. Conversely, many paranoids claim that the secret rulers of the world will eventually go public, or that those in public power will one day consolidate that power on a global scale. The question, then, is whether we will work to get the kind of world government we'd like - or will we instead have to learn to like the world government we get?
The Inspired — Other Character Types Edit
Psions are the default player characters in Trinity, but they're not the only option by a long shot. The core rulebook provides adequate information on playing psions and neutrals, but sometimes you want more. You want to do something different.
You can do something different. With two other basic types of "Inspired" in the Trinity Universe, not to mention other psi-powered entities and variations on every theme, there's almost certainly a character choice that suits your needs.
The Psychic — Other Psi Users Edit
The founders of the Æon Society for Gentlemen referred to the earliest wielders of subquantum powers as having received psychic Inspiration. The Prometheus Effect is an artificial form of psychic Inspiration devised by the Doyen; its beneficiaries are covered adequately by the Trinity core rules. This section will concern itself with those who receive psychic Inspiration naturally.
Naturally-occurring psi users are known as psychomorphs, psychs, proto-psions or psiads. They are more versatile than psions, not being bound by the Prometheus Effect's artificial limitation of a single Aptitude; on the other hand, psions are more capable in their Aptitude.
As noted in the Aberrant Players Guide, psychomorphs fall into three main categories, each with two Aptitudes as primary: biological (Biokinesis and Vitakinesis), cognitive (Clairsentience and Telepathy) and energetic (Electrokinesis and Psychokinesis). Some rare psychs have Teleportation as their primary Aptitude, but it is their only one, and no psych yet has evolved to the point where they have Quantakinesis as primary Aptitude. A psych can learn powers up to three dots in any Aptitude's Modes; at 9 Psi, she can increase any Mode of her primary Aptitude(s) to four dots.
The very earliest recipients of psychic Inspiration, in the Adventure Era of the 1920s, did not have organized Modes. They had access to a smattering of knacks, as all Inspired powers were called then. These psychic knacks often organized around a common theme, but did not come in a necessary progression as Aptitudes do.
Adventure! lists a number of psychic knacks, ranked in three levels. Level one psychic knacks are either purely sensory or incapable of significant physical or mental effects on their targets. Level two knacks have definite physical or behavioral effects, while level three knacks can kill a man or permanently reconfigure his mind. It's entirely possible that 2120s mesmerists will demonstrate new psi knacks, related to Technokinesis and other phenomena that the 1920s either never imagined or understood only poorly.
The Dynamic Edit
The best-known Inspired, other than psions and psychs, are eximorphs — those who tap into quantum forces. In the 1920s, they were known as the "'dynamically' or 'superhumanly' Inspired." In the 1990s, they were first called novas, then Aberrants.
From their mass debut in 1998 to their departure from Earth in 2061, the spotlight of the global stage belonged to the novas. In the wake of contact with Eden, and of the Venezuelan Phenomenon, they’re making a comeback.
Novas are built like Aberrants, only without the more severe aberrations. The novas of Eden, in Stellar Frontier, are illustrative: they have much fewer aberrations than their Taint rating would normally indicate, and these aberrations run more to unusual skin and eye colors than to slavering masses of toothy tentacles.
If you're using the Aberrant rulebook, simply build your nova as you would build one for 2008-era play. India Underground notes that the Psion Age has lost the ability to distinguish between the positive and negative aspects of quantum energy — it's all "Taint" to Joe Hologram — but Aberrant still makes the distinction.
Taint-Buttered Monsters Edit
In the early 2020s, something happened to the majority of novas. Whether it was caused by the centennial of the Hammersmith Incident, or by the 25th anniversary of the energy release by which they were created, or was simply a natural result of the pushing of their powers, more and more novas started displaying higher and higher levels of mutation. Worse yet, most novas who erupted from that time on started their careers with a degree of mutation that used to take years of power abuse to achieve. By the time they came to be known primarily as Aberrants, most of them deserved the name.
As mentioned in the introduction, it still happens to roughly 95% of the novas who have erupted since the Venezuelan Phenomenon. They start out tapping into the deeper, darker aspects of quantum energy; they have more power, but they pay for it in alienation from the human race.
In terms of Aberrant statistics, the Taint-buttered monsters familiar from the Trinity core rules are built as noted on p.XX of the Aberrant rules — they start with Quantum 3, but automatically have Taint equal to their Quantum.
Some of the new quantum-users created by the Venezuelan Phenomenon have powers noticeably lesser than those of novas. Many of their powers, in fact, are merely extensions of natural human capabilities — extensions it's plausible a normal human could achieve by training and effort.
The very earliest recipients of dynamic Inspiration, back in the Adventure Era, were limited to such powers. Because these "dynamic knacks" (later known as quantum knacks) so often manifested as enhanced strength and stamina, their wielders were nicknamed stalwarts.
Like psychic knacks, quantum knacks come in three levels. Level one quantum knacks are abilities even a neutral could theoretically achieve with the right kind of training and/or the proper genetics; the only way to tell someone using one of these knacks isn't a neutral is from the weak Taint signature of the knack. Level two knacks are obviously more than human, but are still extensions of normal human capabilities (such as strength, speed, stamina or intellect). Level three quantum knacks are blatantly superhuman abilities (the power to regrow lost limbs, for instance, or to reshape one's face to resemble another's). In Aberrant terms, level one and two quantum knacks are generally equivalent to Mega-Attribute enhancements; some level three knacks are equivalent to level one nova powers.
The Heroic Edit
There is a third variety of Inspired — one whose powers are so subtle that they hardly look like powers. Recipients of heroic Inspiration (sometimes called daring Inspiration) simply seem to be phenomenally lucky in particular circumstances.
For the devil-may-care attitudes which their specialized luck encourages, those with heroic Inspiration are also known as daredevils. Their particular gifts for bending probability around themselves are known as heroic knacks (or daring knacks). Adventure! provides a nice selection of 1920s heroic knacks. As with psychic knacks, above, daring knacks may manifest in new ways in the 2120s. In the Inspiration Age, a heroic knack called Barnstormer allowed those daredevils who possessed it to do amazing things while piloting an airplane; a new form of this knack (perhaps called something like Hot Shot or Sky Pilot) might allow similar feats at the controls of a space vehicle.
The other form of coincidence common to daredevils is not always obvious from inside the Trinity Universe. It is represented by the game mechanic of dramatic editing, also outlined in Adventure! Because daring knacks cost no Inspiration, they leave the daredevil with more Inspiration for dramatic editing. (Aberrants and psions may be capable, at the Storyteller’s option, of spending Taint or Psi, respectively, on dramatic editing.)
In the 1920s, it wasn't entirely clear, even to Max Mercer himself, what sort of Inspiration he had received from the Hammersmith Incident. Indeed, only a handful of Æon's top people knew of his unique knack for temporal manipulation, and Dr. Primoris was the only one to learn of it before 1942.
Some of the Æon scientific minds who learned of it considered Mercer the only true paramorph, putting daredevils into a separate category. Others held that his power of chronal manipulation was merely the logical development of daring knacks. The gifts of daredevils represented unconscious control over probability — perpendicular time. Chronal manipulation, conversely, was a conscious control over the flow of linear time.
Some Aberrant powers allow manipulation of time’s flow, as does the Chronowarping Mode of Teleportation. You may allow either or both of these in your campaign, or rule that Max Mercer is the only time-traveler.
The "Superiors" created by Nippon's Nakamura Process are to naturally occurring daredevils what tank-produced psions are to psychs. They have much more refined gifts, but they pay for it in lost versatility.
Any heroic knacks a Superior develops as a result of the Nakamura Process are the only ones he will ever have, and he is more likely to develop Ability mastery than heroic knacks. Also, Superiors are incapable of dramatic editing.
- [But we'll also include:
- Crossover — With the Trinity Era as the centerpiece, tell me how to play other stuff in Trinity. Psiads and mentalists. Novas and stalwarts. 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… can you say "free web supplement?"]
A Universe of Darkness Edit
[Fiction vignette to come.]
In general, no Awakened entity of the World of Darkness can become a psion — its cosmological role has already been assigned. Dunking it in a Prometheus Chamber kills it immediately and probably puts the Chamber out of commission at least temporarily. (Further details, and the few exceptions, will be discussed in the individual entries on the various types of Awakened beings.) Similarly, no psion can become any sort of Prodigal while still living (though he can become one of the varieties whose origin is in undeath).
Disciplines and Modes Edit
A psion or psiad who undergoes the Embrace converts his Modes to Bonus Points (or "Freebie Points" in WoD-speak). He can use these points to buy Discipline dots related to the Modes he's losing, as per the box below, or to buy Kindred-specific Backgrounds like Generation and Herd. One who draws the "Second Breath" of the Kuei-jin .
A ghouled psionic gains the standard dot of Potence while he has vitae in his system, but uses all Aptitudes at a difficulty increase equal to the number of Blood Points he's carrying, and reads as a weak source of Taint radiation to Attunement scans. If he has more Blood Points in his system than he has permanent Psi, he reads as a strong Taint source instead.
Clairsentience: Most Obfuscate powers can be penetrated by a sufficient level of Telesthesia, as per the above table.
Vitakinesis: All Modes function normally on the Kindred except Iatrosis, which is intended to work on the living. None of that Mode's powers will heal an undead body. (Also, no Mentatis power can permanently negate a Malkavian's derangement.)
<#>"Starting Points" for Psychically Inspired Learning New Powers
Dunking a Fera who has undergone his First Change kills him and damages the Prometheus Chamber. Dunking an incipient shapeshifter who hasn't undergone his First Change is unlikely, but might create a psion with the same latencies as Kinfolk of his tribe or breed (see sidebar).
Give Us the Child and He Will Be Ours Edit
These three kinds of Prodigal can be dunked and turned into psions: a Fera before his First Change, a fae before her Saining, or a Kinfolk (or Kinain) who has yet to learn any of the powers of his mystical relatives. 
In general, assume that any incipient shapechanger has biokinetic latency, whether specified or not, and that incipient Kithain are latent telepaths. Kinfolk have only those latencies specified for their tribe; if a tribe's Gifts do not indicate biokinesis, the Kin will not have that latency.
You will also need to rule, depending on the needs of your chronicle, as to whether psions and other Inspired are immune to the Delirium. This should be applied consistently to other forms of supernaturally-induced memory-veiling, such as Wraith: The Oblivion's Fog and Changeling: The Dreaming's Mists (at least, if you use the Restless and the Fae in your chronicle). If you opt to make them immune to some of these effects and not to others, try to come up with a good noetic justification.
Gifts and Modes Edit
Psions are treated as Sleepers for the purposes of vulgar effects. 
The best default assumption is that psions can never Awaken — the Prometheus Effect permanently locks their Avatars into the static paradigm of psi just as the Embrace binds one's Avatar to the Curse of Caine — but that psiads and mesmerists can. As is the case for sorcerers, Aptitude is not a determinant of what Spheres develop so much as a guideline.
Spheres and Modes Edit
Arcanoi and Modes Edit
Cantrips and Modes Edit
Once upon a time, immaterial beings decided to empower material agents against other beings whose very existence disgusted and threatened them. One faction of the bodiless ones decided that the enemy must be wiped out, root and branch; the other favored saving those who could be saved and destroying the rest.
As you probably noticed, this could easily be a description of the two Doyen factions, the Shining Ones and the Benefactors, and their plans for humanity as carried out through their Chromatic and psion pawns. In fact, it's a description of the Messengers' attitude to the supernaturals of the World of Darkness, as expressed in the behavior of Zealous and Merciful hunters.
If one of the Imbued finds his way into the Trinity Universe, his second sight will probably read Aberrants as wrong and psions as different.
Edges and Modes Edit
Hekau and Modes Edit
A psion can become a demon's thrall, and by that means can become a demon's new host if the demon needs one (as per p.XX of the Demon: The Fallen core rules).
Lores and Modes Edit
A Universe of Sorrows: Exalted Edit
Before there was a World of Darkness, there was something else. It was — perhaps — an age of sorrows, a time of tumult, a realm of savage adventure and epic fantasy, when heroes walked Creation and wielded the very power of the gods. It was a time when heroes who had once become monsters returned to a world that feared them as much as it needed them. It was also a time when manipulative cosmic bureaucrats had rewritten history so that hardly anybody would remember that the monsters had ever been heroes, then retreated into the shadows to pull society's strings. In other words, it was a time like the Unity Era in many ways.
As is the case for their Awakened heirs, no Exalted who has already drawn the Second Breath can become a psion, and vice versa. Terrestrials who would Exalt to a particular Aspect can be dunked as if they were psi-latent, but only before their Exaltation. Those destined to become Sidereal Exalted will not be dunked — fate itself keeps them away from the Prometheus Chamber.
Charms and Modes: An Overview Edit
Tattooed Lunars are as immune to Gross Manipulation (Psychomorphing 5) as they are to Charms or sorceries that would change their shape.
- [You'll be writing character creation information for non-psions in Trinity (don't bother with the WoD races, just the natives to the TU) for use in Chapter Seven. From this point out, we're using the two-step character creation process, so just do Step Two. Talk to that chapter's author for more details. Talk to Stew about Aberrants, too.]
- [I did, and he's basically going to do an expanded version of the Aberrant generation rules from the core book, with the note that those who want to build them in Aberrant terms should consult the rules from that game's core book. -z]
- [The crossover portion of this chapter and the next chapter blend together. Try and keep them distinct.]
- [Once again, good work. I like what you’ve written, but I’d love to see this filled out some more. Word says that, counting my earlier notes, you’re sitting at around 4k out of the originally budgeted 18k.
- I’m loving what you’ve written for the Hunters and for Exalted, and how they’re very similar to Trinity. If you can do it for all the other game lines, you will be officially declared awesome. If not, don’t sweat it too much. (:
- Don’t forget Orpheus in there.]