Above and Beyond 15,000 words
Above and Beyond Edit
Trinity offers a great variety of scenarios to play with under a single roof; from space exploration on board a Leviathan to gritty cyberpunk action in the depths of an FSA arcology; the setting offers many elements that players and Storytellers can focus on and develop entire series around them, increasing their importance or fading them into the background. This chapter focuses on alternative scenarios you can play with using the core elements of the Trinity game.
These alternative scenarios alter the published setting in one or more ways, changing some of the premises of the setting but maintaining the core elements that make Trinity the game that it is.
Combat Armor Trinity Squadrons Edit
The armies of the world have been seeking for the perfect warrior for centuries, trying to build better weapons, develop better strategies and overall trying to make each individual soldier weigh more heavily into the outcome of warfare. This alternate setting focuses on VARGs, Trinity's answer to the giant robot genre. Characters are pilots of these terrifying war machines, becoming one-man armies by combining mobility, firepower and psionic prowess into one deadly whole.
The Aberrant Age dawned upon mankind, but the world governments realized early on that they would need something to keep superpowered people in check, something that would give a baseline soldier the strength to oppose a nova.
The VARGs were originally designed in the early 21st century for space and underwater use, allowing a person to survive in extremely hostile environments. With a few modifications, they were given military and police applications so that, by the time when the novas began to spiral out of control, most cities had a special squadron of VARG pilots to handle crises where novas could not arrive in time. The U.S. Marine Corps were the first to deploy the first mobile armor special forces squad and subsequently descended upon rogue novas without prejudice.
The Aberrant War ruined entire swaths of land, crashed international networks and brought chaos on the world; Chinese VARG squadrons defended the global satellite networks with unprecedented success, so that an all-out assault would waste precious time the platforms could use to rain nuclear doom on Aberrant-held regions of Earth.
Once the Aberrants left Earth, different governments and organizations were left with some of the most powerful conventional weapons mankind had ever developed, and the ruined state of the world forced the hand of many to use them. The FSA swarmed over Mexico and Canada with minimal losses, while Germany took the lead of the European Union now that France had no chance to present strong opposition after being turned into radioactive slag by Aberrants. China proved to be a check on FSA and European expansion, making quick deals with other Asian countries that exchanged resources for protection. The newly-united Africa only had a couple of VARG squadrons to cover the entire continent, but by operating loose guerrilla forces they managed to keep European invaders tied up in the northern countries, and attrition forced them to leave.
In this chaotic state of affairs, the Æon Trinity began working under the radar to create a stabilizing international force. It was with Trinity resources that VARGs were developed in the first place, and they retained key technological secrets they had chosen not to divulge to the different powers. The first CATS (Combat Armor Trinity Squadrons) deployed secretly, striking anonymously at the forward bases of invading forces, but also targeting private and mercenary armies that were practically extorting weak governments into submission.
The CATS had superior firepower and technology, and the vast infrastructure of Æon allowed them to appear anywhere and everywhere. They operated covertly, covering up their true affiliation as part of the Trinity’s plans to create a phantom enemy the world could rally together to fight; the different governments did not publicize the CATS’s existence when they became aware of the international unified force, as they were fighting them in dubious battlegrounds. This balance was slightly derailed with the Aberrants’ return in 2098.
Twisted by cosmic radiation and their own tainted energies, the Aberrants returned more monstrous and powerful than before, and the CATS were morally obligated to abandon their pseudo-terrorist role to engross humanity’s defense. An unprecedented — but not totally surprising — phenomenon began to take place during the fights with the Aberrants. VARG pilots using CATS technology began reporting increased awareness of their surroundings that went beyond their armor’s instruments, and in 2106, CATS squad leader Solveig Larssen began shooting fire and ice out of her VARG’s hands, a totally uninstalled weapon.
The Æon Council decided at that point to fully disclose the secrets behind VARG technology to Triton Division. The piloting interface was made by a technology derivative of the early experiments of one Dr. Hammersmith, coupled with knowledge Max Mercer had gleaned from one of his secret and mysterious expeditions. This technology had the unintended effect of triggering the latent psionic potential in VARG pilots, and even altering the genetic structure of non-latents, increasing the chances that their progeny would manifest psionic potential.
The Æon Trinity came out in the open as the Aberrant assaults intensified, revealing the CATS as their responsibility with a carefully staged media coup. Neptune Division made quick call to all Australian media channels as it deployed its Australian CATS to defend the Sydney spaceport from an Aberrant assault. Coupling the coverage with its own footage, the Trinity broadcast to all the world the heroism and powers of the psionic VARG pilots.
The State of the World Edit
Earth and its colonies are in a constant state of siege. The Aberrants have returned in various horrid forms, and not a week passes in which the Aberrants do not attack one of humanity’s outposts or even major cities. While the situation looks outright bleak, the presence of Æon’s CATS has served to rekindle humanity’s hope in its own survival.
Æon played its cards well and absorbed the United Nations over the course of a decade, adding real punch to the international organization that was practically powerless until then. The Æon Trinity is the largest organization in humanity’s history, and also one of its most active. The Trinity’s symbol can be seen in every part of the world, from free clinics to military headquarters and orbital space stations.
Under this powerful aegis, the CATS thrived and grew into an international fighting force, abiding by strict regulations that prohibit them from interfering in national conflicts, but allowing them to step in to resolve international disputes, and override local authority in case of Aberrant attacks.
The Eight Divisions Edit
In the year 2122, Æon has identified the different psionic aptitudes triggered by the different VARG models and organized eight divisions within its forces, in addition to its three administrative divisions (Neptune, Triton and Proteus). Each division is composed of several types of personnel: VARG pilots, operations control personnel, maintenance and repair technicians, and infantry and attack vehicle support. The CATS divisions collaborate closely with personnel of the three main administrative divisions for intelligence and public relations. The eight divisions are:
Ares Division: Commander Solveig Larssen leads the bravest and most daring troops in the Trinity, gathering the pilots and operatives that display psychokinetic powers.
Athena Division: Rebecca Bue Li’s telepathic corps work closely with Herzog’s clairsentients and are amongst the best pilots in Æon, able to mentally meld with their VARGs.
Cassandra Division: An unfortunate accident left commander Otha Herzog unable to pilot VARGs anymore, but his powerful clairsentience abilities make his division the best at intelligence tasks.
Chronos Division: The smallest division in the Trinity, Chronos groups the mysterious quantakinetics, who can directly detect and counter Aberrant manifestations. All the other divisions think the Chronos people are a little crazy.
Hephaeston Division: Commander Alex Cassel heads the division that groups and trains electrokinetics; its technicians are the best of all the divisions.
Hermes Division: The teleporting division is one of the smallest, but also a very effective one, since its operatives can be anywhere they need to be within a moment’s notice. Commander Bolade Atwan is expanding the division’s role to explore beyond the Solar System’s borders.
Lycaeon Division: Giuseppe del Fuego is the commander of the most fearsome division, training the biokinetics under his command into melding not their minds, but their bodies into their VARGs, actually becoming the armors. When doing this, they can control the shape of the armor in astounding ways.
Æsculapion Division: Matthieu Zweidler was a combat medic and never intended to be the most powerful vitakinetic in Trinity’s corps. He runs his division of medics as tightly as he can, but Æsculapion VARGs are seldom seen in forward battles except as medical support.
Earth and Space Edit
The Aberrants’ continuous attack on Earth and its colonies has stunted expansion into extrasolar space, but that only means that the Solar colonies are that much stronger and better developed. In addition to Artemis, the Moon has two other main cities on its face (and just under it), while Mars is being successfully colonized by both China and Brazil.
The different nations in the standard setting exist, but they play their cards much closer to their chest as the Æon Trinity has a much stronger power base and real political power (and the weapons to enforce it). The Trinity is beginning to explore the outer reaches of the Solar system with the Hermes Division, but its goal is to find the Aberrants’ base of operations rather than expand humanity’s colonies outwards.
Because of this, the Qin, the Chromatics and the Coalition are yet to be encountered.
The Characters Edit
In Combat Armor Trinity Squadrons, characters who wish to be psions must by necessity be VARG pilots as well, since it’s the piloting interface that triggers a latent’s powers. Neutral characters are also quite possible, since VARGs put psions and neutrals in roughly the same footing in terms of firepower and resistance, even if tactical considerations still favor psionic powers when applied strategically.
All characters start with four free points in the Devices background to represent their VARG. Non-pilots can use those free points in other backgrounds.
Biotechnology is in its infancy, with the only major device being the VARG piloting interface, but no fully biotech VARG exists yet.
Aptitudes are triggered just as with a Prometheus Chamber; that is, a single Aptitude with its three Modes. Because psions depend on their VARGs for their powers, consider a character’s Psi to be one point lower when operating outside his VARG.
There are a few effects for the different aptitudes inside a VARG:
Biokinesis: Biokinetics meld their senses and bodies to the VARG’s systems. They ignore two points of Tolerance from their VARGs and consider them biotech apps. Additionally, after successfully using the Assimilation technique, they treat their armor as if it were their own body for purposes of all other biokinetic techniques.
Clairsentience: All clairsentient techniques are one psi point cheaper inside a VARG as the character amplifies his senses with the armor’s sensors.
Electrokinesis: The pilot optimizes the VARG’s energy utilization, creating the same effects as those listed below for psychokinesis.
Telepathy: The telepath’s will is amplified when melding with the VARG’s operating system; when making Psi rolls for telepathy techniques, a Willpower point yields two automatic successes instead of one. Also, all Dexterity-based rolls that have something to do with VARG operation gain one bonus dice.
Psychokinesis: All damage caused by psychokinetic techniques deal one extra die of damage, while all techniques that counter damage gain an additional die or two additional points of soak.
Quantakinesis: VARGs do not make quantakinetic techniques any easier; no change.
Teleportation: The VARG’s navigation systems aid the teleporter in her manipulation of space; all spatial ranges and effects are 1.5 times more accurate, increasing range, distance, durations, bonuses, etc.
Vitakinesis: The character’s awareness of their and others’ bodies grant them similar benefits as biokinesis, ignoring one point of Tolerance from their VARG. Additionally, the medical databases and instruments in their armor give them one bonus die to all vitakinesis-related Psi checks.
Combat Armor Trinity Squadrons draws its inspiration from Japanese animation (anime) featuring giant robots. In this setting, psions were not born from a Prometheus Chamber provided by the Doyen, but as a side effect of the revolutionary control interface used in Æon-built VARGs.
Æon itself is changed, assuming the role of the overspanning organization typical of the genre in charge of building the VARGs as well as protecting humanity from external and internal threats. Many stories can be run around this role, giving Æon an antagonistic position as a shady organization founded by conspiracy, or played under a benevolent light as a true protector of Earth and its colonies.
While Æon VARGs are certainly superior thanks to its biotechnology basis, the armor produced by other governments and companies is not so far behind so that psionic powers are only a slight edge against the most advanced of VARGs, and a psion simply does not stand a chance of facing up against a VARG outside his own powered armor.
There would be a few space fighter models in production and use, since the VARGs could equip similar weaponry and provide better maneuverability as research and development focus a lot of time and resources to making them the best anti-Aberrant weapons possible.
Note that while the setting’s premise revolves around the power armors, individual stories do not need to be. As with the normal setting, characters are free to be whatever they want to be, with the VARGs being only background scenery to the plots and relationships of the characters. A tale of interplanetary warfare can focus on individual combatants or even civilians whose lives are touched by the conflict.
Shades of the Mind Edit
The enforcers of law and order wage a never-ending battle against criminals and others who would upset society’s balance for their own profit. The triggering of psionic potential has opened doors on both ends of this quiet war, giving law enforcement and crime weapons with which to conduct their activities in entirely new ways. Shades of the Mind takes a step back from large-scale warfare and open conflict to concentrate on a more cloak-and-dagger flavor to psi powers, putting psions in a subtler role in society.
Shades of the Mind starts in an earlier timeframe than the standard Trinity setting for a simple reason: there was no Nova Age.
In this setting, Divis Mal never provoked the mass eruption of novas in the early 21st century, letting normal evolution carry out the consequences of the Hammersmith aftermath in the 1920’s. Humanity developed slowly without the leaps and bounds in science and technology brought upon by superhuman minds, but was nevertheless pushed forward by the few inspired people that were a cut above normal humanity without ever realizing it.
However, no Aberrant War does not automatically mean an era of peace. Petty concerns and ambition do not abandon humanity, and during the decade between the 2020s and 2030s there is a series of wars as natural resources become scarcer and new technologies are not tested enough to be put in wide-scale use. By 2032, the petty wars have died down, reshaping the world in a way similar to the standard in the Trinity setting.
The space race was fueled by the need for minerals and the development of new production methods under microgravity, and the war mentality carried over as manufacturing and processing orbital factories are armed with defenses against future raiders. There is no collaboration to build a joint base city on the lunar surface, but in 2038, an international non-profit organization called the Æon Trinity announces a contract bid for building on the Moon. One year later, contracts are awarded with very generous funding, and private spacefaring begins in earnest, going past the orbital frontier.
A Doyen wanderer stumbles upon Earth after noticing the extraplanetary activity. Its curiosity piqued by the distinctive ”taste” of the planet’s subquantum signature, it stops to observe, realizing the psionic potential lying dormant within humans. He gets others of his kind interested and they pick a handful of budding latents to trigger their psionic talents.
In 2042, the first psions are triggered by their Doyen benefactors, their minds expanded to research a way to do the same for the rest of humanity, for the Doyen do not wish to trigger psions en masse, but want humans to develop a way to trigger their own talents.
During that time, the U.S.A. consolidates into the F.S.A. and begins exerting political pressure on its neighbors. China is now a superpower, emerging victorious from the resources war by supporting Middle East countries for access to their oil, while developing non-fossil fuel sources. Europe maintains a united front as the European Union, its internal ties growing stronger even if their natural resources are more limited than the other powers’. Africa remains a splintered land, but this time the meddling superpowers include Brazil and China in addition to the FSA and Europe. Latin America takes advantage of the FSA’s distraction in its own internal matters to consolidate an economic confederation capable of challenging the big markets, but without the technical resources to fully exploit its own natural resources.
The Æon Trinity maintains its role as a public foundation that provides money for research programs and humanitarian causes, but their active interest in gifted individuals lead them to discover the patterns of psionic triggering and start funding their own research, independent of the eight original psions triggered by the Doyen. It finds and successfully recruits the clairvoyant Otha Herzog and the vitakinetic Matthieu Zweidler into its ranks, and in 2052 inaugurates Artemis base, giving the two psions a laboratory to research the subquantum phenomenon.
By 2060, all the powers have some presence on the Moon and have begun to make designs on Mars, using Artemis as a starting point, just as Æon had intended. Herzog and Zweidler have irreconcilable differences with each other and the Trinity, and both abandon the organization to pursue their own projects, although Herzog remains a consultant for the Æon Council.
A social revolution takes over Latin America and Africa with surprising vigor; unbeknownst to the world powers and corporations being ousted and expropriated, this revolution is being led by the continents’ psionic population, grown mysteriously beyond the originals triggered by the Doyen. Herzog warns the Trinity of psionic involvement, but as an apolitical body, Æon keeps its hands off. The revolution is hardly violent, rather consisting in a series of political and economic reversals for the existing regimes in favor of unification movements that results in the Bolivar Declaration that unites Central and South American countries (sans Brazil) in a single nation in 2063, and the Mandela Act that does likewise for Africa later in 2064.
In the early 2070s, several space projects are finished and open up officially, creating a budding network of transports between mining and observation outposts and small orbital ports of call.
Several papers and news outlets, particularly in the FSA, begin to report about people with strange abilities. Æon begins a campaign to hush and hide the existence of psions, all the while working with Herzog to try and locate people with triggered abilities. Æon has begun suspecting that Herzog is willfully hiding information, and they are right, for he and the other original psions have met and decided that they will handle their own affairs without outside interference.
By 2085, the existence of psions is an open secret, an urban legend that only the highest echelons of security, law and intelligence agencies know about with any certainty. Psions organize in underground groups of mutual support and training, some under tight leadership and others living under a loose alliance, lending their talents to all kinds of activities.
The State of the World Edit
The world is in a precarious balance now, with commerce and resource exploitation being the cause of most conflicts, overt and covert. National powers compete with transnational organizations for financial and political power, while the lower levels of society try to make a living in this cutthroat state of affairs. Free traders and security personnel are a very popular career choice, with pirates, smugglers and hackers being a very close second.
The World Powers Edit
The main economical and political powers are the FSA, Brazil, the Bolivar Confederation, the European Union, Russia, China, India and the United African Nations. Competing with them are a host of megacorporations that operate their own security forces and private armies, along with their own communications and transporting infrastructures.
The Æon Trinity has less pull in this framework than in the original setting, pulling levers by dropping information on the right hands and cashing in favors. They have very few strike teams, and they operate under very deep cover. Many psions have joined Æon on their own, but they have very little information about the psionic orders, since they tend to come from the more loosely organized ones.
The Psionic Orders Edit
The orders exist as in the standard setting, but they have a few differences:
Orgotek: Alex Cassel founded his company to group electrokinetics together. There is no change in how it is organized, except that it has a couple of smuggling operations going on under the radar.
ISRA: Rather than a pseudo-monastic order, ISRA is an information broker, much more mercenary than the philosophical school in the standard setting.
The Legions: They are much smaller than normal since there is no Aberrant threat, operating as a security firm and mercenary company, working for both sides of the law.
Norça: A quasi-criminal outfit operating much like the Nihonjin Yakuza. They rule the Bolivar Confederation behind the curtains, ruthlessly fending off foreign intervention and protecting their shady operations with zeal.
Æsculapian Order: The more humanitarian of the orders, they exist as an underground affiliation of medics and healers who work within health services to subvert their overly corporate mentality.
The Hive: This is the Ministry founded outside the Chinese government’s wing. Like the Norça, the telepath organization is deeply underground, more like an international espionage and terrorist organization. Telepaths are free to become policemen and g-men, but if their work takes them close to a Hive operation, they are obligated to mislead investigations. And they always know when they are confronted with Hive handiwork.
The Upeo: The only change in this order is that it has no official status nor headquarters, and that it has a very high ratio of smugglers and contrabandists.
Chitra Bhanu: They exist deep underground as a very small group of like-minded scientists in various Hindu corporations.
Since there is no official psion demand for biotech, the research is in its infancy, geared more towards producing tools and weapons that can be used by the average human, although the psion leaders are already aware of the psionic element of biotech, and are pulling their influences to develop
Psions do not need a Prometheus Chamber to trigger their potential, but cannot trigger on their own either. The Doyen left the psionic leaders with the ability to trigger others like them, which is a very closely-guarded secret that not even the Æon spies know about, and not even the ISRA brokers are willing to share.
Psions in this setting are hidden from view, but there are enough rumors about their existence that special branches of security agencies have the task to confirm the rumors, when the agency does not already have a branch composed of psionic operatives.
Unless belonging to Norça, the Hive or, in lesser degree, to Orgotek, psions have a very free hand in their activities. The orders are there only to trigger and train new psions, as well as to offer a network of mutual support. Without a state of overall war, small conflicts are more numerous, and psions have a lot of chances to participate, particularly as members of the criminal underworld or law enforcement, two fields that have a very high adventuring profile in the setting.
Shades of the Mind is meant to exploit the noir elements already existing in Trinity and focus a whole setting on them. Plots should be full of twists and contacts should always have an ulterior motive. Psionic powers lend themselves to pursuing a life of crime or combating crime, with psions operating as adviser-vigilantes that can work on their own or as part of a larger organization.
Neutral characters also have a chance to have fun, discovering the existence of psions in their midst as they come upon unexplainable crimes or fool-proof investigators.
The focus of Shades of the Mind is cloak and dagger stories, be them romping espionage adventures, the convoluted plans of a group of specialist thieves, a band of space smugglers or an anti-piracy task force.
Psionic Songs Edit
Leviathans are one of the greatest assets in humanity’s space exploration efforts; nevertheless, even their designers have found very surprising side effects during testing and even “normal” operation. The rumors amongst navigators speak that there is a budding sentience in the teleporting bioships, lurking beneath the preprogrammed psionic manifestations. This sentience will save humanity in Psionic Songs.
Psionic Songs is a space exploration and transhumanist setting; the basic premise revolves around humanity’s life amongst the stars, a wandering people living in Leviathans, which are now life-forms in and of themselves, carrying humans from one corner of space to the other, caring for them and expressing their vast wills through their appointed chosen: the psions.
This setting is a direct result of the events of the main Trinity storyline, and its history deviates from the standard after the Venezuelan Phenomenon. The sudden shift in the implicate order caused by the experiment not only affected humans, but also their biotech creations. Existing psions saw their potential changed without rhyme or reason, while new ones began to trigger without the intervention of a Prometheus Chamber, even if weaker than their artificially-triggered cousins.
There were a few months of confusion, but humanity did not have the luxury of anarchy, for the Coalition came calling soon after, bringing with them the might of their Aberrant masters/allies. The Second Aberrant War was bloody and destructive. Inspired humans were excellent support and even point defenders in the human armies as psions took the brunt of the assault, but the superior technology of the tainted Coalition caused great damage to Earth’s surface before the tides of war began to turn in humanity’s favor.
Before the war, Orgotek and Norça began an unprecedented collaboration campaign, and within months they began producing biotech equipment usable by neutral humans, plus a procedure that would alter existing biotech in the genetic level to lessen its tolerance requirements. The principle behind the procedure was to enable biotech to support its own psionic needs, and that required some sort of psionic awareness superior to what existing biotech possessed… and came very close to the functions of natural life forms.
Animist beliefs and practices exploded amongst pilots of biotech vehicles, as they carried the normal custom of referring to their craft as living beings one step further: actually believing it was true. To some extent, it was true. Next-generation biotech equipment was not yet fully sentient, but now possessed a rudimentary intelligence that could only be perceived psionically or subconsciously.
The Qin provided their beleaguered allies with additional technology, but were nonetheless surprised by humans’ innovations to biotechnology, and copied some of Earth’s scientific breakthroughs.
When the war abated, Earth and its colonies throughout the galaxy were in tatters, with the homeworld rendered nigh-uninhabitable by the combined forces of Coalition weapons and Aberrant powers. Colonization and exploration were humanity’s only hope of survival.
The Upeo wa Macho were not enough to keep the ties between human settlements, and thus there was an increased effort in building more Leviathans. A fleet of 60 Behemoths, the next-generation teleporting ships, was ready in little more than a year, but these ships were a very far cry from humans’ original designs. Created jointly with the Qin, who also desired vessels of their own to take them beyond their system. The Behemoths not only had an improved version of the human sentience innovation, but Qin technology allowed them to… reproduce.
Almost ten times the size of the original Leviathans, a Behemoth has one twentieth of its volume completely devoted to Qin factory beasts, which take all sort of raw materials to produce almost everything needed for a budding spacefaring society, including the ability to produce more ships, including new Behemoths.
Exploration began in earnest, with humans quickly overtaking the Qin as their spirits were wilder and their needs more dire.
Three centuries later, second-generation Behemoths are fully adult and carrying a new breed of society within their corridors and halls. The Behemoths are now alive, intelligent and aware, and they have joined their psionic might to the races inhabiting their interiors.
The State of the World Edit
There is no longer a single “world” to describe, there is not even a simple collection of worlds to define humanity’s situation. Behemoths have become colony ships in their own right; they are self-sufficient and have their own internal ecologies in which humans, Qin and even Chromatics and a few Coalition phyles are just another element. Because Behemoths and their lesser cousins, the Leviathans, can jump to any point in space that a clairsentient can point to, humanity has developed into a cultural mix of nomadic and sedentary people. They are sedentary in the sense that they grow incredibly attached to their home Behemoth, but they are used to changing locations in space every few months, weeks or days.
Humans do colonize and terraform planets, but they tend to be small settlements that act more like meeting points between Behemoths, marking migration routes and “watering holes” where the living ships can replenish their resources and energy, giving people the chance to experiment life on a planet’s surface, and planet dwellers to hitch a ride to other colonies or adopt the nomadic lifestyle of Behemoth citizens.
Qin- and human-built Behemoths are practically the same, although the Qin have different internal arrangements due to their own physiological needs. Most Behemoths, however, sport hybrid environments that cater to both human and Qin preferences. Chromatics must adapt to this, although younger Behemoths understand the needs of these new inhabitants and have grown cavern-like sections to accommodate them. Because Coalition phyles are totally and utterly psionically neutral, Behemoths cannot connect with them and therefore cannot change to make their lives more comfortable.
Life in (and of) a Behemoth Edit
Behemoths have a vast, complicated intelligence. They are powerful psions, but they are limited to specific teleportation techniques (obviously), weak clairsentience and telepathy capabilities for communications, and very focused telekinesis to produce artificial gravity and move in space. In addition to this, they can slowly change their internal structures and functions just as if they had biokinesis, but this is more a function of their own biology rather than psionic powers.
Behemoths vary in size, with the smallest being around 12 kilometers long, and the largest almost 30 kilometers. Opposed to Leviathans, the size of the Behemoths’ Tesser takes a volume 400 meters per side and resides beneath layers of hard chitin and hardtech armor plating. The rest of the volume is devoted to living quarters, factory beasts and cargo space. A Behemoth’s bridge is located on the top and center front of the ship, and fits crews between 12 and 20 people, one of them inside the Tesser control chamber.
Behemoths feel and understand everything that happens inside them and develop a personality that echoes the cultural idiosyncrasies of the people that live in it, giving rise to nihilistic pragmatists as well as to festive optimists. A Behemoth does not “speak” through a computer interface; it uses its telepathic abilities to make its wishes and suggestions known to its crew and its population. Psions understand these wishes implicitly, but neutrals can only experience them through dreams. When a Behemoth needs to speak, such as when communicating with colonial authorities, it lets its navigator speak for it.
Behemoths are not possessive and have no inherent desire for dominance, leaving all governmental matters to the beings inside them. As advanced as they are, Behemoths are still biotech and require maintenance and guidance, which is why they exist symbiotically with their crew and passengers as well as with the planetary colonies.
A Behemoth acts much like a village or a highly structured tribe. People work the factory beasts and the different food-producing sub-organisms, as well as practicing hardtech crafts and sciences. There are few devoted artists in the population, but more than half the people practice one or more artistic activity, so that the wandering village is never short of entertainment.
Behemoths need to feed like any other creature. They derive a lot of their needs directly from subquantum energy, but they also process minerals and ice mined from asteroids and planets. Their biomass requirements are met by processing the waste of the people and animals inside them, but once every few years they need a few tons of additional matter, which is procured from colonies in the form of meat, logging, discarded biotech equipment, additional biochemical waste, etc.
When the population in a Behemoth threatens to strain its resources, the factory beasts begin devoting energy and resources into birthing a new one. The infant Behemoth emerges from the factories in two years, and begins a growth process assisted by humans from the parent Behemoth. A new crew is selected amongst young candidates (all of them volunteers), starting with a new navigator that will be responsible for imprinting with the infant ship and guiding its emotional growth, essentially becoming another parent. Once the new Behemoth is a young adult after two other years of traveling with its parent and a skeleton crew inside it, it is ready to accept a new population.
Young Behemoths are the spearheads of colonial expansion, for they are enthusiastic about seeing new planets and transmit this childlike sense of wonder to their population. They often carry terraforming seeds to plant on viable planets, which older Behemoths will visit later once the process creates a sustainable environment, carrying colonists ready to start anew.
Hive Vehicles Edit
The different factory beasts inside a Behemoth are able to produce smaller vehicles that combine human and Qin technologies; some producing the biotech organism while others spew out the hardtech components that human crews assemble later. In this way, a Behemoth can produce its own escort fighters and bioVARGs. The more belligerent Behemoths maintain at least four fighter wings (five fighters strong each) and three escort frigates, plus up to four security squadrons composed of six bioVARGs.
The Role of Psions Edit
Most of the Prometheus Chambers were destroyed during the last Aberrant War, but by that time psions were appearing naturally thanks to the Venezuelan Phenomenon. The seed of psionic power is strong inside humanity, and life inside a powerful psionic creature like the Behemoths has sped up the triggering process. Roughly one third of a Behemoth’s population is actively psionic, and another third is at least psionically attuned, even if they cannot manifest any technique.
This characteristic translates in a highly intuitive population who subconsciously works very well together. Awareness of the implicate order, as feeble as it is, makes people work towards the same ends in harmony, with all disputes resolved by careful mediation by the Behemoth itself.
Active psions are considered “chosen” by the Behemoth; people respect them greatly but they do not hold any special superior hierarchy. A neutral soldier can distinguish himself with his keen intellect and grasp of tactics and displace a psion commander who can coordinate his subordinates telepathically, but has no real sense of strategy. Even then, psions are often better suited for the more delicate tasks of maintaining and navigating a Behemoth and therefore find themselves in positions of authority and responsibility more often than not.
The Inspired Edit
Acknowledged by the Behemoth but rarely by any other person, there are a few people amongst the neutral population who just seem to be born “lucky.” Behemoths recognize the subquantum flux around these individuals and try to manage things in order to put these “inspired” in a position to better serve the community. They do it by planting impressions in the more psionically sensitive people on board or even by outright telling their navigator to watch over specific people. The role of the inspired in a Behemoth depends entirely on what the living ship wants to do with such persons, but they often rise to be leaders and role models on their own.
The Qin have joined the human race as enthusiastic spacefarers, although human wanderlust by far surpasses the Qin’s. Being a joint creation of both races, Behemoths are much more comfortable for them than for any other species. They have an instinctive affinity for their creators, not to mention an easier time attuning to them.
The Chromatics have left behind their savage past and developing their own technology. Irrevocably tainted by Doyen interference, Chromatics have striven to retain their cultural identity while catching up to the more advanced races they came in contact with. Open relations started a century before the events in Psionic Songs, when Chromatics developed and built their own spaceships, using what they learned from the Doyen as well as what the humans and Qin taught them over time, but all of it with a distinctly Chromatic flavor.
Chromatic ships do not have interstellar capability, but there are several Behemoths and Leviathans that offer them “rides” to other systems along predetermined routes, allowing the Chromatics to establish trade with human and Qin colonies as well as establishing some of their own. Chromatic enclaves inside Behemoths are uncommon, but not at all rare, but they are small and prefer to keep to themselves. As mentioned before, only young Behemoths that were born from a ship that already had Chromatic inhabitants have created within themselves areas resembling Chromatics’ preferred habitats.
A rare minority are Coalition phyles who have abandoned their home Arks to mingle with the other races. These phyles all come from two Arks: the original that invaded Earth space and one other. They broke off the control of their Breeders and Aberrant masters and try to eke out a living within their adopted homes. Phyles perform basic hardtech maintenance and odd jobs, and they are more or less cared for by the community, but are seen more like super-intelligent pets than as real peers. Behemoths cannot connect with the phyles and are at a loss as to what to do with them, but with careful study and third-party mediation, a few Behemoths have learned to produce the different pheromones that phyles use to communicate. Those Behemoths have realized the potential overriding of the phyles wills through biochemical instincts, and are loathe to exploit it.
Threats and Dangers Edit
Not all is good and peaceful in this new era of humanity; space has its own dangers, and not all of them natural. In addition to dealing with space phenomena like solar flares and toxic atmospheres, Behemoths and their population must always be wary of the two enemies of mankind: Aberrants and the Coalition.
The Aberrants are now a race on their own, no longer holding any ties with humanity. Aberrants are down to their twelfth generation since they abandoned Earth and are so mutated now as to constitute their own species. The elders that birthed them are no more, either hunted down by their peers or brought down during the last Aberrant War. Aberrants control a few systems in space and open warp portals in search of new worlds, but also to launch raids against known human, Qin and Chromatic colonies. Marauding Aberrants are like dangerous fauna in the wilderness of space, and Behemoths have butted heads against them more than once.
Now that humanity and its allies have spread wider into the galaxy, they have encountered other Coalition Arks. The lifestyle of Behemoths and Arks may seem similar, but differ in the simple fact that Behemoths do not rape planets off their resources and have an ingrained respect for all life. The Coalition Arks are the pirates of this new era. Many Behemoths prefer to hold off attacks to give them time teleport their massive bodies, a process that takes several minutes. Others have taken a more belligerent stance and produce armament that their inhabitants use for defense. A small minority has adopted the role of battleships, actively seeking and destroying the menaces, producing hive vehicles and urging their citizens to train to become warriors. These battleships will often travel with more pacifist Behemoths through patches of space known to contain either of the two menaces.
The last and least common danger is when two Behemoths find each other competing for the same mineral fields and planetary resources. They are not inherently territorial, but their crews are, and animosity between the two populations might escalate into small skirmishes. Behemoths try to prevent this, but they are soon swept in the emotions of their inhabitants and enter the fray in earnest. These battles end the moment either of the Behemoths is seriously hurt and emits a psionic cry of pain, which does wonders to quell the hostility of all combatants. Such fights always end with both Behemoths teleporting away in the psionic equivalent of apologetic sulking.
The Æon Trinity Edit
The organism that guided humanity through the couple of centuries of spurious advancement no longer exists as such: it dissolved inside the human culture, forgotten as a monolithic entity but still alive as some sort of religious philosophy. The Æon Trinity now refers to a loose monastic order that keeps autonomous cells within each Behemoth and colony; its mission is to gather the cultural products of the new human society, keeping traditions alive, including religion. Æon monks may profess any of the existing human religions, with the Trinity’s symbol marking them as wise men and women rather than denoting a specific set of beliefs; the Æon now represents the sum of human spirituality, with each monk deciding which aspect of it to express.
Each Æon cell is responsible for their own recruiting and coordination, and every encounter between Behemoths and with planetary colonies includes a massive exchange of information and philosophical discussion between the Æon monks in the spirit of keeping culture alive and dynamic. There is no central authority, although one of the basic Æon myths refers to The Mercy, the incarnation of Æon’s altruistic goals, who likes to take human shape to see what humans are up to during key moments of crisis.
The Characters Edit
In Psionic Songs, players are free to create any kind of character they want. Psions are born naturally, using any of the rules in this book for alternate character creation methods. The alternate Psi system found in the Trinity Player’s Guide is encouraged as well. Other character options include neutral humans, the daredevils found in Adventure! and even Qin and Chromatics.
All characters should be members of the same Behemoth or space colony, as human culture has grown slightly insular while retaining ties between settlements via the Behemoths’ telepathic communications network. They can perform any role inside the Behemoth: scientists, security personnel, senior crew, etc.
All characters in Psionic Songs begin with one extra point of Psi, representing the heightened awareness caused by natural evolution as well as the close attunement with the Behemoths.
This setting should be played with a sense of wonder and amazement. Humanity is on its way to becoming a very different animal, single cells in a larger organism while retaining their individuality. Even the dullest of neutrals is subconsciously aware of the connections he has with his neighbors and with his Behemoth, with psions knowing this on a more tangible level.
There are many kinds of tales that can be told in this setting, with space exploration on board a young Behemoth being but one of the most exciting ones. Characters can be warriors inside a battle-ready Behemoth, hunting Coalition and Aberrant attackers, or simple people trying to figure out the universe around them while confronted with the still existing plots and complications that society is rife with.
The First Frontier Edit
Humanity set its collective sight on space as the so-called “final frontier,” all the while ignoring the greatest and still unconquered territory in our own planet: the sea. Thanks to the technology developed for space colonization in the Trinity universe, living and working on the bottom of the oceans is no longer a pipe dream. The development of arcologies set down the foundations for underwater cities, which by 2122 have more than shown their viability.
The First Frontier is a setting where underwater colonization received a large boost during the nova age and not a moment too soon, because the Aberrant War was much more violent, rendering Earth’s surface nigh-uninhabitable, partly by massive flooding as well as by Taint irradiation. Humanity lives in a network of underwater arcologies and is so used to this lifestyle that space colonization was no trouble at all.
In the normal setting, the Aberrant Poseidon flooded Cuba and Florida, while Wycoff tainted the central United States. In The First Frontier they were not the only ones to provoke disasters in the geological scale. The Aberrants ignored the Chinese Ultimatum and retaliated with extreme viciousness, even as nuclear bombs fell around them. Many say that the world ended at this point; millions died in that couple of days, baseline humans and Aberrants alike.
Most of the people who survived on the surface were contaminated with Aberrant taint, even in the areas that were not devastated. The only ”pure” humans were those who lived in the incipient Lunar colony and the undersea stations. The first few years after the Aberrant War were very hard for humanity, but the survivors had the need and the means to push ahead. Underwater colonies improvised with fishing and underwater farming, and there were already several mining stations in place extracting minerals as well as methane hydrate gas frozen in the depths of the ocean. There was a lull in Aberrant activity for two decades, during which humanity got back on its feet somehow. The orbital colonies repaired the satellite network as the underwater settlements souped up their communications equipment, finally establishing communications between the two poles of human civilization.
The Æon Trinity, the only global organization to retain any sort of coherence, helped coordinate the reconstruction efforts, making sure that people were transported to the spots where their knowledge and expertise was needed the most. The Trinity spread its members across all the possible settlements so that they could collect the information about how well civilization was doing on the whole, to the point that everyone came to know that, if they wanted a status report on other settlements or needed something done, they could always go to the local Trinity representative and they would have their information within days, or the task they needed done or pointed at as to how to do it. The orbital stations monitored the conditions on the surface, informing the underwater dwellers on where survivors and salvage could be found. In the space of five years, the first transorbital transport after the War lifted up from beneath the waves to begin an intense period of resource trading.
Underwater colonies expanded and became more comfortable, and many orbital colonists migrated, as gravity was the one advantage they counted with, as both were surrounded by a very hostile environment. There were frequent expeditions to the surface that confirmed the suspicions that it could no longer support human civilization, although many spots could still support human life.
When the new fledging colonies stabilized, the orbital stations began reporting increasing spikes of taint energy, and only months later the Aberrants reemerged. These were not the first Aberrants that annihilated the planet, but the result of their rampage. The new Aberrants were taint-mutated animals that brandished quantum energies by instinct, unleashing them with unprecedented savagery. There were many rumors about human Aberrants triggering spontaneously amongst the surface survivors, and this made both orbital and underwater colonies to forsake the land once and for all.
The Æon Trinity gathered so much trust from the growing society that, in 2082, the organization became the de jure world government, as for years it had been performing such duties in a de facto capacity. Local community councils always had a Trinity representative and advisor, and it was often such an agent who instigated the forming of such councils in the first place, so it was a very little stretch to name that representative into a local governor.
As it happened in the normal setting, the Doyen noticed the increased quantum activity and decided to investigate. They discovered the humans clinging to their survival and realized that their incipient technology would not be enough to support them for long. They also decided that a race that had suffered so much at the hands of quantum-wielders would be the perfect foot-soldiers to contain that threat.
The Doyen sought out a few unobtrusive individuals and gave them the secret of subquantum manipulation. They gave them the knowledge to grow biotechnological settlements, which are much better suited to underwater performance than hardtech, and triggered their latent psionic capabilities. After they helped these first psions recruit and trigger more of their kind and literally planted the seeds of their secret headquarters, the Doyen left once more, keeping their distance from the increasingly poisonous planet.
The psions grew and strengthened their bases, using them as both haven and headquarters. They formed the Mentatis, an order that would find latents and bring them to one of their hidden enclaves for triggering and training. When the new psion was ready, she was sent back to resume her life, but carrying with herself the goal to help in the survival and progress of the human race.
In 2106, Æon agents discovered one of the hidden biotech settlements, although it is widely assumed that it was the psions who allowed themselves to be found. The Trinity kept the existence of such bases to themselves as they met with the Mentatis leaders, who revealed the extent of psionic presence across human space. With the Trinity’s assistance, the secrets of biotech began to leak the secrets of biotechnology and, in 2114, the first official psion was revealed to the public, initiating humanity’s psychic era.
The State of the World Edit
The two main powers of the world are the Æon Trinity and the Mentatis; the first governing openly and the second acting in support from the shadows. The existence of psions is now common knowledge, but the Mentatis remains a secret; for all the public knows, latents go to a government facility to train, isolated from others for safety reasons (as a telekinetic accident in a submarine later proved). The new psions are indoctrinated into loyalty to the Mentatis and the Æon Trinity and returned to their former lives to carry out their duties with their new psionic powers, although many of them join the Trinity’s special forces, while some remain with the Mentatis.
The Surface Edit
Aberrants roam the surface in droves, and most scientists have given up in trying to classify them. Taint and nuclear fallout mutated everything they touched, and sometimes it is hard to tell if a particular Aberrant used to be an animal, a tree or a human. There are rumors that there are a few Aberrant masters, either some who retained (or gained) their intelligence when they erupted, or even original Aberrants who stayed to enjoy the results of their madness.
There are a few clean areas that have been salvaged, both in cities and in the fields. The Trinity sends strongly armed patrols to secure these lands while they build fortresses and facilities appropriate to exploit the resources in such areas. This has given rise to a few mining, farming, logging and other similar outposts.
The Trinity is building a network of underground lines to connect vital surface spots, with a tram line as well as a road for autonomous vehicles. These lines terminals are always underwater bases built on the continental platform, no more than a few kilometers away from the coast.
The first and most valuable surface station remain the spaceport platforms, built on the surface on the deep sea. The main spaceports are Nueva Esperanza off the coast of Ecuador, Tunguska Station in the Black Sea, Sky’s Hope in the deep Pacific, Cunningham in the South Pacific near Australia and Cape Port near Madagascar. There are other smaller spaceports around the world, but they are mostly corporate concerns.
Surface travel is more often done via flight or hovercraft, with ground vehicles used only for local transport inside a single outpost, such as for carrying cargo from a mine to the nearby refinery.
All the major cities of human civilization are underwater arcologies. Ciudad de la Perla off the coast of Venezuela is one of the largest, followed by Atlantis off Gibraltar in the Atlantic ocean and Avalon in the North Atlantic. Secondary arcologies are Novo Janeiro in the South Atlantic, Ryuji in the Sea of Japan, and Teh Tieng in the South Pacific islands.
The arcologies have grown to be veritable metropolises, the largest housing up to 6 million inhabitants. The underwater cities are never single buildings, but a series of domes and solid structures connected by tunnels (some of them dug from the ocean’s bottom) that can be sealed off in case of emergencies. There are several access bays for submarines of all sizes as well as for hybrid craft that can travel on the surface. Submarines exist for all purposes that ground vehicles used to cover on the surface: sports, civilian transport, recreation, cargo, military, etc. All submarines can cruise on the water surface normally, so the term “hybrid” refers to those that can also fly. The rarest and most expensive craft can work well both in underwater, atmospheric and space environments.
Human diet has shifted its meat consumption to fish and crustaceans and hydroponic and algae farms are the norm. The few surface outposts offer a supply of surface vegetables and fruits and the rare meat from untainted animals.
Clean air was once supplied by a combination of hardtech filters, pipelines to the surface and bottled oxygen, but with the arrival of biotech, only the smallest and poorest of stations do not have a biotech air filtering system that synthesizes breathable air from the ocean. Energy supply comes mostly from thermoelectric and tidal plants, but a couple of photosynthesis biotech facilities have begun providing additional power to major arcologies.
The outer reach of human civilization is also alive and well. The same biotech advances that are making life easier under the water are providing an increase in the quality of life in space habitats. A ring of space stations orbit the Earth, although they are mostly factories and research stations. Artemis Base is finished and housing a population of thousands thanks to the artificial gravity crystals, and a similar settlement is planned for Mars. These stations are overseen and governed by Trinity representatives, just as the arcologies in the planet.
There is a lot of system exploration and prospecting done by Trinity and authorized private interests, but extrasolar travel through psionic teleportation is a highly confidential affair. Æon believes it has control of all extrasolar travel, but the Mentatis conducts its own efforts in secret, and has already found the Qin, with which they have a small but very profitable trading agreement, receiving treasures of biotech knowledge in exchange of unique organic products of Earth and a joint exploration project with human teleporters and Qin telepaths.
The Æon Trinity Edit
Managing world government one arcology at a time, the Trinity is a unique political body that avoids the problems of monolithic governmental institutions by letting each chapter operate more or less on its own. For starters, Æon is not a democracy, but a meritocracy; people who want to become governors must join Æon and rise through the ranks, with promotions and demotions decided by committees. The Æon Council is the closest thing to a central body the organization has, and it dictates general policy by vote from the council members.
The Æon Council has three representatives from each arcology, with the new addition of representatives from Artemis and three more from the collective of orbital stations. One representative is the Æon senator, whole the other two are democratically elected congress representatives. The Æon senator coordinates with the Æon appointed governor, who does not leave his arcology, and the civilian deputies travel back and forth to coordinate the implementation of such policy with local Æon staff as well as with civil unions and organizations.
The Æon global government thus works as a loose confederacy of city-states, with each arcology being responsible of managing its own affairs and those of the outposts (both surface and underwater) under its jurisdiction.
Away from political issues, handled by the Olympus Division, the Æon Trinity conducts its business much like in the normal setting through the Neptune, Triton and Proteus Divisions. Neptune handles the dealings with the Mentatis, although it is Proteus who sees more psions joining its ranks.
The Mentatis Edit
The psions decided from early on that they would remain hidden from their neutral brethren, only to surface when they deemed it appropriate and at the pace they wanted. They allied to form a single order, even if their different origins and abilities set them apart. Each of them brought a distinctive skill set to the order, and thus the Mentatis is the Trinity’s psionic mirror image, doing more with less personnel and assets thanks to their powers.
The Mentatis is ruled by the proxies, the first eight psions who command the use of the Prometheus Chambers. They are the leaders of the psions that share the same aptitude, but there are no sub-orders with such a distinctive culture as in the standard setting, but are just a shard of the Mentatis whole. The proxies are the same people as in the standard setting, masters of the same psionic modes but with a few differences in origin and outlook-
Alex Cassel: The electrokinetic leader and owner of a small transport company when he was triggered, he’s as mercenary as ever, but realizes that he needs the cooperation of the other proxies. He’s the shadowy owner of Nautilus Technology; a tech firm that is spearheading the neutral adoption of biotech.
Solveig Larssen: A soldier triggered when patrolling the surface, she is the psychokinetic leader and also the one in charge of all of the Mentatis’ military and security efforts.
Reynaldo Constante: The biokinetic proxy had no need to change his name, as the Mentatis operates out of the public eye in the first place. He heads the Mentatis’ intelligence arm and is the voice against the Doyen who has pushed the psionic collective to really doubt the aims of their benefactors.
Matthieu Zweidler: The fact that he is a psion is a public matter, but nobody knows that he is the vitakinetic proxy. He became the head of the International Red Cross and provides the Mentatis with a wide network of support for transportation and research.
Bolade Atwan: A close collaborator of Constante in infiltration, her efforts as the teleportation proxy have slowly shifted to the more pacific aims of exploring. However, she still supports his claims about the Doyen, and is working with the Qin to discover the secrets of noetic science.
Rebecca Bue Li: Along with Herzog, Bue Li is one of the unofficial leaders of the Mentatis. She is an unassuming police officer in Teh Tieng arcology, from where she taps the minds of everyone on the planet.
Otha Herzog: An almost mythical personage that gives the Mentatis its philosophical backbone. He is the one member of the Mentatis that nobody has met. He communicates through Rebecca, and nobody doubts her channeling as everybody can sense his noetic presence when she does.
S.K. Bhurano: A reclusive scientist who is 100% behind Constante’s suspicions and works towards cracking the secret behind the psionic triggering process.
The Characters Edit
In terms of rules, there are no differences to the standard setting; the change resides in the approach that characters take towards their allegiance. Since the Æon Trinity officially holds the reins of government, its operatives can act with full authority and not merely in an advisory fashion, while the psions must hide their true loyalty to the Mentatis while working for anybody else.
The Trinity and the Mentatis offer support for their agents in different ways, affecting how Backgrounds may work. Æon is a public organization with recognized support, while the Mentatis operates in secret and does not even exist officially, even if psions are now accepted part of everyday life.
The First Frontier is a setting based on the theme of survival; humanity is thriving in the most hostile environments it has even encountered: deep sea and deep space, and most people are possessed by a survivor mentality that makes them into either very selfish survivalists or altruistic protectors. Given the precedent of the Aberrants, the Mentatis is very wary about revealing the whole truth about psions to the whole of humanity, and trickle the information even to their closest allies.
Since humanity has become unused to wide open spaces, exploration carries an added sense of wonder if the players decide to join the exploration and contact mission, while a sense of unknown mystery and majestic threat should pervade their outings to the sea.
Aberrancy Within Edit
Trinity history speaks how Aberrants rampaged in the middle of the 21st century, monsters that ravaged the planet and immersed it in chaos. Aberrant sheds light in the age of novas and the quantum taint that slowly drove them insane. Later, it was revealed that both novas and psions had their birth early in the 20th century and that humans carry within them the possibility to trigger as a wielder of either quantum or subquantum energies, but not both. In Aberrancy Within the tables are turned and psions dominate the 21st century instead of the novas, as the Doyen preempt Divis Mal in saturating the Earth with subquantum users, so that dangerous quanta cannot manifest so freely. Humanity, even biologically, is nothing if not stubborn, and by the dawn of the 22nd century the novas are rising to survive a world dominated by psions.
The Doyen noticed a large pulse in the subquantum pattern when the Hammersmith Experiment went off, ushering the age of adventure in the 1920s. Several of them traveled to the little world to see what was going on, and discovered with both surprise and worry that the race of flesh-bound people had the great potential to be the Doyen’s allies, servants… or their natural predators.
Seeing the possibility that humans could become expert wielders of the quantum energies disruptive to the Doyen’s very existence, the aliens decided to meddle in human evolution. It took them the good part of a century to reach that conclusion and come up with a workable plan so that they prompted a repeat of the Hammersmith accident, but this time keyed to trigger humanity’s psionic potential.
In 2009, the physicist S.K. Bhurano was working on zero-point energy, inspired by dreams and sudden flashes of insight, implanted in his mind by the Doyen without him knowing. At the same time, they manipulated a young technician by the name of Alex Cassel, who was part of Bhurano’s team. Cassel was made to misunderstand part of the process for the first test of the zero-point generator and, as a consequence, the experiment detonated in high orbit, triggering a massive subquantum wave that washed over the planet’s population.
The Æon Trinity had seen this happen, and was alert to the appearance of extraordinary individuals and releasing what they knew about the relationship between the Bhurano and Hammersmith experiments in science journals, paving the way for the scientific acceptance of “supernatural” abilities. In 2012, the first psychokinetic made the news by controlling the flames around a school bus with the power of his mind. The Trinity mobilized quickly, announcing that this person manifested the next step in human evolution: homo sapiens noetia. Tests were devised, and the Trinity opened several research wings in hospitals and universities across the world to test and train triggering psions. In the space of ten years, noetic science was recognized as a valid field of research, and the psions became part and parcel of human society, much to the delight of the Doyen.
Noetic astronomy coupled with the nascent field of noetic biotechnology to explore and colonize space, and by 2056 there was already a mining outpost on the moon that became a self-sufficient colony in 2067. The problem for Trinity’s attempt to curb or at least monitor psions was that the tell-tale energy readings around them were much too subtle for any hardtech sensor to detect; only a psion could detect another psion. Being still human, the noetic-enabled began to exploit their powers in various ways, and the craftiest of them began to place themselves in position of authority.
Psionic leadership of governments and industry created a series of clashes that started as a sort of shadow war; skirmishes in the intelligence sectors that soon escalated into sabotage and terrorism and, in 2073, into open warfare. These were called the Psionic Wars, as the soldiers leading the attacks as well as the manipulators that oversaw them were psions. They turned people’s minds against themselves, corrupted electronic media, made vital infrastructure vanish…
The Psionic Wars lasted until 2103 when most of the nations’ resources were spent, and mostly because there was a great disturbance in the subquantum universe that every psion sensed, giving them a reason to stop and look. The first nova had erupted.
The State of the World Edit
While there was no major catastrophe as there was in the Aberrant War of normal continuity, the Psionic Wars nonetheless left Earth and its colonies tired and spent, with many of once shiny infrastructure crumbling out of lack of maintenance. Psions dominate the world and use their powers and their influential positions to crush neutral humans into submission. In this world, a new brand of hero is being born: the nova, wielder of overwhelming quantum forces that disrupt the psion’s manipulation of the subquantum medium.
Despite the short golden age of psionic progress, there was not much advancement in the world’s political structures. The world of the original Trinity setting, however, arrived earlier and for slightly different reasons. There is an FSA controlled by a council made up of psionic military and corporate leaders, the biokinetics control a wide network of legitimate and criminal cartels in South America; Europe, while not in ruins, is still in a very sorry and fragmented state where psionic barons fight over the smallest scrap of land and resources, Africa is united thanks to the teleporters’ control and communications network, and China is a powerhouse whose telepathic operatives make others fear their every thought.
There are no psionic orders per se, but several small groups of like-minded psions that act without coordination or common purpose. The Chinese Ministry of Noetic Affairs is the only recognizable organization of psions, but it is much more government-oriented than in the normal Trinity storyline.
The Æon Trinity could never contain the wave of psions triggering by the Bhurano effect and was ill-prepared to forestall the Psionic Wars, but is still at the forefront of reconstruction and reconciliation efforts, which gains it the resentment of many neutral and psionic politicians.
In Aberrancy Within, Divis Mal went underground as the psions began manifesting, devising a way to counter the subquantum tide rightfully suspecting there was a shadowy intelligence at work behind the Bhurano effect. It took him several decades until he was able to put all the variables in place; from recognizing promising latents to making sure they were exposed to quantum energies. The result is that, amidst the chaos of the world, many people are beginning to erupt into novas.
The Æon Trinity is helping Divis Mal, for they know that the only way to dislodge psions from their corrupt complacency is to face them against a worthy adversary.
The Characters Edit
There are a few ways to play Aberrancy Within to simulate the difference between psions and novas in this scenario:
Trinity Rules: Bhurano psions awaken to a particular aptitude, just as with the Prometheus Chamber even if it happens naturally; the novas can choose their modes freely, but their powers have a quantum source rather than a noetic one.
Aberrant Rules: The novas are not as powerful as those of the Aberrant game. Use only 15 nova points during character creation. Psions would only have access to the Mastery powers plus the Mega-Attribute Enhancements, but they would treat Quantum requirements (converted to Psi in their case) as one dot lower.
Mixed Rules: Create psions using the Trinity rules and novas using the Aberrant rules, but with the above considerations. The free-style system found in the Trinity Player’s Guide is recommended for use with the freely-triggering psions.
Playing neutrals is perfectly feasible, using the system found in both games. Characters can come from any background, and even play in a mixed party of psions and novas, playing up the unease their respective “radiations” cause to the other.
Aberrancy Within is a scenario about hope being born from impossible odds. The world avoided total annihilation due to exhaustion rather than a sharp and decisive measure, which means that old tensions are not gone, but merely catching their breath. Novas are the new Robin Hoods, playing the role that psions were made to play in the standard Trinity setting: saviors against other super-powered humans. Psions are not as reviled and demonized as the Aberrants were, but people are extremely disenchanted by the promised golden age that lasted only a couple of years before dissolving into anarchy, and welcome any other alternative.
You can tell stories from both sides of the fence: playing a squad of psionic hunters on the lookout of the new novas, or novas hiding from the hunters and experimenting with their newfound powers. Taint will not manifest for several years as the first novas begin growing in power, but the Doyen might intervene before that, bringing the Qin or the Chromatics to Earth’s doorstep to help stem the rising quantum wave.
As another option, players could make the elusive quantakinetics, heirs of the power of both psions and novas and the only ones with the ability to reconcile the two breeds of metahumans against the manipulations of the Doyen.
Terran Empire Edit
The Doyen granted their power to individuals without much leverage in human society, with personalities that clashed with each other. This might have been a conscious effort by the Doyen to keep humanity’s psions divided and manageable or a simple result of human nature. In Terran Empire the proxies turned the table on the Doyen, resisting the manipulations to annihilate the Chitra Bhanu and putting aside their petty differences to cooperate with each other. The understanding and power they attained with such collaboration led them to defy the Doyen and use humanity’s quantum potential to not only drive off, but effectively hunt down and absorb the power of the Doyen, initiating a period of human dominance on Sol’s corner of the Milky Way.
This scenario takes the normal Trinity storyline right after the revelation of the psions in 2106. The only difference being that the proxies have understood that the “benefactors” are not as altruistic nor trustworthy as they would have them believe. They play along until the Doyen leave, and continue to play along after Bue Li, Del Fuego and Herzog notice that Bhurano has a “rider.”
Events occur normally on the surface, but the proxies are secretly plotting to throw off the artificial shackles the Doyen imposed on them. When the Doyen realize that the quantakinetic experiment leads in dangerous directions and try to manipulate the proxies into eliminating the Chitra Bhanu, the psions stage their coup. Cassel had developed a device to trap the Doyen with information Del Fuego compiled himself and stole from Bhurano, and they used it to purge the Doyen from Bhurano’s body and dissolve its energy form into batteries of several new bioapps.
The Doyen, shocked by such insubordination, react slowly at the utter surprise of this event, which gives the proxies more than enough time to prepare for contingencies.
To stage their coup, the proxies were more trusting towards the Æon Trinity, who also recognized the threat the Doyen represented to human sovereignty, and gave the psionic orders access to its vast networks and resources. Herzog and Bue Li coordinate their powers to help Bhurano tap into the memory of his possession by the Doyen, and thus gain an enormous amount of insight into the reality of the triggering process. With the combined research of the now free Bhurano, Cassel, Zweidler and Del Fuego, the orders develop a new Prometheus Chamber in 2112.
The Doyen are divided and debate for years about what to do with the upstart humans. They are too late to stop the teleporters from contacting the Qin and establish friendly relationships, too late to stop the creation of psion-independent teleporting ships, too late to curb the rapid expansion of humanity into space.
In Earth, the proxies use their new research to break the chains that tie them to their signature aptitudes, but the process has unexpected results. The proxies not only break their limitations, but also the walls that separate their consciousness. In 2122, the proxies become a single psionic entity inhabiting eight different minds and bodies.
The shock of this transformation travels down to even psionic latents. For a week, no psion can access her powers and reel from the psionic shockwaves. The Doyen panic as they too have felt the birth of something greater than them. Instead of splintering between pro and against humanity, they all decide that Earth must be stopped and preferably destroyed. Of course, this decision comes until 2128.
The orders take a much more active role in human development, surpassing the Æon Trinity’s influence and breadth, and eventually taking over governments by placing psionic agents in key positions. With a unified will, Earth expands at a much more rapid pace. The Qin are staggered by the power and ingenuity of the human race and become a satellite ally in the expanding galaxy-spanning people.
The Aberrants continue to be a thorn on humanity’s side, but more powerful and versatile psions train in a friendlier society and become worthy defenders of humanity, with small squads capable of taking down the average Aberrant easily.
Since the teleporters never left, the Chromatics take several years for the Doyen to make teleporters out of them and, when they finally attack, the human fleets are more than prepared to deal with their threat, tracking down Chrome Prime and laying a devastating siege on the planet, routing the Doyen supporters and subjugating the Chromatics.
The Coalition is met on equal terms thanks to an accelerated technical advancement, and there is no disaster to speak of. Instead, when the Coalition attacks the explorer ship, the encounter ends with a draw, but the growing Earth Space Fleet is much stronger than the Aberrants led the Coalition to believe.
In the year 2189, Earth is the capital home world of the Terran Republic, spanning nearly 243 off-system colonies in various states of development.
The State of the World Edit
There is no single world to describe its state in this scenario, but several. Extrasolar expansion is giving Earth a lot of room for growth. With off-world resources to exploit and unlimited space to place people on, Earth becomes an ecological paradise, recovering from centuries of abuse. Its arcologies replace urban sprawls and most manufacturing is now performed in orbit, dutifully teleported to predetermined storage areas.
Earthling becomes the term associated to one actually born on Earth, and humanity’s collective name becomes “Terran”. Each Terran colony governs itself, but belongs to a loose “district” headed by a council of representatives (two to four per colony). In turn, several districts group into a colonial council, which in turn send representatives to the Terran Senate. The Senate is composed of the representatives of each colonial council and headed by a chairman elected from retired senators, whose candidacy is decided in secret by the psionic proxies.
Each district has at least one Prometheus Chamber to trigger psions. The new Chambers are better at triggering certain Aptitudes, but have the potential to trigger them all. It is half superstition that the Chambers in some districts produce more powerful wielders of certain Aptitudes, which is why many confirmed latents make a long pilgrimage to the desired Chamber. All children receive a mandatory latency test upon birth and when hitting puberty, with the positives being scheduled to take a dunk in a Prometheus Chamber when they come of age. Through this system, the overall psion population now is about 35% of all humanity.
There are confirmed reports about spontaneous triggering, which the proxy collective sees with a certain amount of perverse glee, for it means the Doyen have now truly lost the battle. Natural psions are awarded the same training and position as triggered psions, and account for 5% of the overall psion population.
The psionic orders have become a single organization: the Psiad, but retain their identity as divisions within the larger order. The Psiad acts like the Æon Trinity in the 21st century, using its vast resources to coordinate welfare programs, fund schools and institutions in the farthest colonies and maintains the Prometheus Chambers. Each order is responsible of training psions in their aptitude, and high rank in each order is only achieved by attaining mastery of all three modes within the aptitude.
The Æon Trinity, for its part, is content to sink back into the shadows, becoming once again an organization of like-minded individuals that pool their personal resources for noble ends. Its ranks thinned rapidly once the Psiad took over some of its perceived duties, and now it only maintains small offices to support its members. Psions and neutrals are welcomed to join the Trinity and may also belong to other organizations, so that it works more as a social club with strange resources. This doesn’t mean it has stopped meddling. The Trinity does try to recruit loyal members with key positions, brandishing the “Hope, Sacrifice, Unity” slogan to capture young (and older) idealists. The Terran Fleet has continuous skirmishes with Coalition Arks as well as with two other as-yet unidentified alien races, both of them believed to be more Doyen pawns, but so far there is no open warfare and the fleet has been able to handle every threat. Aberrants also continue to be a problem, but more akin to random wilderness threats than to a potential enemy. Eden has been found and, after a signed treaty, left alone for the most part.
This is truly a golden age for humanity.
The Characters Edit
Psion characters use the normal rules, but they can trigger any three modes of their choosing, not only those of a single aptitude. Their basic technique, however, depends on what the Chamber that triggered them specializes in. Teleportation and Quantakinesis no longer have such high latency requirements, and now teleporters and chibs are as frequent as any other psion.
When triggered, psions tap into the vast sentience of the proxy collective, but they retain their individuality and free will. They are aware on a subconscious level that they are part of a greater psionic whole, but the fact that the proxy collective is a single subquantum entity that speaks through different minds and bodies has not occurred to anyone.
Given the great variety of colonies in the Terran Republic, characters can come from any background. The outer colonies raise tougher children, while Earth produces more artistic kinds.
Terran Empire is a scenario where humanity is thriving. The menaces that plague them have not been reduced to mere annoyances yet, but a future of uncontested exploration is not so far in the horizon. Tales of exploration are best with the characters being the crew of a scouting ship, looking for new worlds through clairsentient and technologic means, but political intrigue and high adventure are quite possible. The Doyen are still a secret from the general populace, so a team of enterprising characters could very well stumble upon the beleaguered aliens or even upon evidence of their origin.
Other Scenarios Edit
The different premises and elements in Trinity lend themselves to many variations. These are a few less developed ideas that you can flesh out with your own.
Hope, Sacrifice, Unity Edit
The present is all that matter in this scenario, with the past being a big blank buried by a previous World War. People refer to the current conflict as World War IV despite it being fought across several planets. Earth is splintered in several nations, with each nation holding a few solar and extrasolar colonies. War is being waged from multiple ends, mostly a series of small battles that only serve to poison any attempts at peace. The FSA, Brazil, China, Russia and Europe are the main combatants, but border wars are more than common between smaller countries. In this state of constant war, psions are the result of human experimentation with their own genome, not the result of some alien intervention. Each country has discovered how to create one kind of psion (playing up the different Aptitudes) and uses them as soldiers in their war efforts. Psions are treated differently depending on the country that spawned them; some are nothing more than valuable pawns with little to no civil rights, treated more like lab products than people. Other are exalted members of their society, leading a life of privilege once they are identified as latents and successfully triggered.
The Æon Trinity is dismayed at the state of affairs and all its efforts to bring about peace have failed, until Max Mercer uses his uncanny abilities to find the Doyen, and uses his charm to convince them to help humanity out of the hole. The Doyen see the potential in humanity and give Mercer the secret of triggering psions without the Prometheus Chambers possessed by each nation. Armed with such an ability, the Trinity begins recruiting and triggering their own psions, who grow free of the Aptitude limitation of the Chambers.
The free psions and the Æon Trinity become a sort of underground organization, branded as terrorists by many but as saviors by more, fighting the injustices perpetrated by the neutral and psionic armies on every side, always protecting the civilians and seeking ways to bring about the peace that has eluded humanity for decades.
Faceless Minions Edit
Similar to the above scenario but with the factor of warfare removed from the equation. In Faceless Minions, the Æon Trinity is a shadowy organization that has discovered how to create psions thanks to its private scientific resources. The Prometheus Chambers that the Trinity owns are rented at exorbitant prizes to governments, companies and basically to anyone who can afford it, but regulate the behavior of psions all over Earth.
Psions are nothing more than mercenaries, whether they are soldiers or programmers, most of them owing their psionic abilities to the patronage of a large organization that almost literally owns their souls. The other kind of psions are those of the Trinity itself, a fearsome psionic police that watches for any real or perceived abuse of psionic powers.
Space exploration is limited and cities have grown into typical dystopian sprawls, with arcologies being a very new development that may have arrived too late to save the planet’s surface. Private concerns often take precedent over national interests, with those with the money ruling over those who do not, enforcing their predatory will via their psionic agents.
The increased subquantum activity, however, is accelerating human evolution towards psionic latency. After two generations in this state, psions are beginning to trigger on their own, without the need of the Trinity’s Chambers. Æon knows about this and sends its agents to seek out free psions in order to either indoctrinate or terminate them. Free psions are more flexible than their Promethean counterparts, having access to different modes or even to the alternate techniques in each regional/order sourcebook, or perhaps using the free-style psi system in the Trinity Player’s Guide.
Whatever the choice in power, the free psions are becoming aware of each other and are starting to organize in underground cells, hiding from the Trinity’s hunters and making do while they find a purpose for their existence.
In this alternative scenario, the Aberrant War left humanity with two key technologies: artificial gravity and warp engines. Developed 30 years after the Aberrants left, humanity began blinking from one point of the solar system to the other, not yet venturing with longer distances and building a burgeoning planetary neighborhood of colonies. Near the end of the 21st century, a few nations funded longer trips based on astronomical findings, and such expeditions caused disruptions in the subquantum medium that other psionic races were able to detect and take an interest in. The Qin were quite surprised when humans warped into their system, feeling discomfort in the method they used to travel. Greeted with mild hostility, humans were nonetheless thrilled to find another intelligent race. The Qin touched the humans’ mind and were surprised by the potential they found within, wondering why they used crude quantum warping when within them they had the seed of psionic powers.
The aliens were strong telepaths with minimal command of other psionic aptitudes, but they knew that those aptitudes existed thanks to their research, and their biotech even used them when they could not. After a few exchanges with the first explorers, the Qin decided that they would experiment with the seed they sensed in the humans, and created a new type of bioapp to offer as gifts the next time humans warped into their system.
The next arrival was not one, but five ships, with a lot of diplomatic and commercial personnel as well as one military transport, just in case. The Qin were amused, but also curious about the humans’ hardtech, and as part of the first exchanges of gifts and communications, they gave humans the bioapp they had built for them, without deceiving them as to their purpose: to bond with a human’s brain and trigger her intrinsic psionic abilities. The symbiotic bioapp was tested and perfected, and the latency test applied to a first batch of subjects. The symbiont adapted perfectly with its intended hosts, awakening their psionic potential.
The Qin are true benefactors of the human race, but they only gave them a little push; they did not reveal how to increase the symbionts’ power nor how to create advanced biotech; they left the humans to learn that on their own. In this scenario, psions are easily identifiable by the little lump on the back of their neck, which is the symbiont’s entry point. There are no proxies as such, but humans’ desire to label and classify led them to create the seven psionic orders (the Qin could not awaken quantakinesis), and the orders’ leaders are not particularly more powerful than their subordinates, but have shown the greatest expertise in controlling their symbiont.
The Doyen chose to trigger the human race’s psionic potential for various and enigmatic reasons, while another faction that advocated humanity’s annihilation chose the Chromatics. The circumstances of each civilization when suffering the Doyen’s intervention were completely different, but they had very defined roles of predator and prey. In Counterstrike the roles are reversed. The Doyen recognized the potential of the Chromatics long ago and decided to experiment with them, nurturing them slowly so that they develop their own technology and psionic potential.
The other Doyen faction never agreed to meddle with a civilization so deeply, and see the Chromatic as an aberration. These Doyen noted another planet full of latents, some of which had already triggered in a limited fashion and on their own. And not only that, but they were already exploring space without any outside help.
This faction also recognized the expansionist and bellicose nature of Earth’s people, and saw in them the perfect tool to show their brethren what was stronger, an existing civilization given the gift of psionics, or a psionic race being forced into a civilization.
The Doyen contacted the proxies, but also revealed their existence to individuals that showed themselves as focal points in the implicate order, thus ensuring that their gift would create waves in the destiny of every human. Humans developed the Prometheus Chambers with the help of Doyen inspiration, and it held the highest “charge” for the first people dunked in each, with all other subsequent dunkings triggering at a fraction of the firsts.
The Doyen then proceeded to drive humans deeper into space. Religious manipulation would not work as well as it did with the Chromatics, but the prospect of profit and territory served quite well for the immature race. In the end, humans encountered the Chromatics, and both races immediately started to depredate on each other’s colonies, soon escalating hostilities into open warfare.