Tabletop Game: Aberrant

Aberrant is a role-playing game created by White Wolf in 1999, set in 2008 in a world where super-powered humans started appearing one day in 1998. It is the middle setting in the greater Trinity Universe timeline, chronologically situated about 90 years after Adventure!, White Wolf's Pulp era game, and over a century before the psionic escapades of Trinity/Ĉon. The game deals with how the players' meta-human characters (called "novas") fit into a mundane world when they most definitely are not mundane, as well as how the mundane populace react to the sudden emergence of novas. The original Aberrant product line was discontinued in 2002, though a d20 System version was released in 2004. A new edition was announced in 2012.


This role-playing game provides examples of:

  • And a Diet Coke: A character being interviewed about the nova's increased metabolism mentions ordering fifty Whoppers and a small Diet Coke at Burger King.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: Greenwar
  • Apocalypse How: The Aberrant War amounted to Planetary/Societal Disruption.
  • Atrocious Alias: Aberrant, being a deconstruction of superheroics, touches on this: the rise of superpowered Novas, many of whom think they're now required to don costumes and take up aliases, have spawned a budding fashion industry dedicated to not only making non-stupid costumes, but also to come up with fitting and stylish names a Nova can use without feeling silly or raise Unfortunate Implications. A few sucky names still crop up, though.
  • Badass Gay: Divis Mal, by far the most powerful nova in the world. His partner Jeremiah Scripture is also in the top ten. "Ironskin" Andy Vance and his husband Jake "the Dragon" Korelli are less powerful, but also qualify.
  • Beware the Superman: A strong element of the setting, one that the Church of Archangel Michael deliberately pushes, and canonically justified, since the Trinity/Aeon setting is the canonical future of this setting.
  • Big Eater: As implied above, Novas tend to become this due to the amount of energy their powers take.
  • Blessed with Suck: Some eruptions do not turn out well for the nova. Teragen member "Sloppy Joe" basically had his eruption dissolve his entire body, reducing him to a soup of acidic sludge and free-floating organs bobbing around inside a vaguely human-shaped forcefield.
  • Blood Knight: Totentanz, or any other Elite.
  • Bondage Is Bad: Minor team from the Player's Guide, the Queer Nova Alliance, includes a member with Psychic Powers of some nature called "The Master", whose presence in the team's attendant fluff portrays him as the Token Evil Teammate. He's a homosexual dominant who refers to basically brainwashing a former homophobe into his helplessly loyal submissive gay sex slave, and from the disgusted reactions of his fellows, this isn't the first time he's done this. They especially loathe him doing this because it only hurts their efforts to non-violently champion GLBT rights.
  • Body Horror: There is a power set that lets you permanently grow a extra arm or 3, just for starters. The Teragen take this further, developing physical aberrations as a part of their transhumanist philosophy.
  • Boomerang Bigot: In the sourcebook dealing with the Church of Archangel Michael, two fluff-pieces involve Reverend Gordon Fleischmann, who goes onto a talk show to talk about his Church's motivations, reveals he himself has suffered a minor eruption and developed a circle of eyes on his chest, and commits suicide rather than live as a nova.
  • Bullet Catch / Dodge the Bullet: Sufficently high levels of MegaDexterity will allow a character to do this. (For a simple bullet dodge, "sufficiently high" is defined as "any MegaDexterity at all".)
  • Chest Burster: Novas with the 3-point variant of the Parasitic Gestation alteration are capable of victimizing people with their offspring in this manner.
  • Coca-Pepsi, Inc.: ViaSoft, a megacorporation formed by a merger between Viacom and Microsoft.
  • Cult: They're all over the place In-Universe, due to the fact novas are naturally adept at forming personality cults around themselves, especially those with social mega-attributes.
    • The sourcebook Reign Of Evil.Com is about a particularly nasty cult born from a quintet of deranged nova satanists.
    • The Storyteller's Screen includes a fluff piece about a mega-social nova woman, Kelly "Calliope" Pierson, who has formed a cult about herself and who performs Human Sacrifice by physically absorbing baseline cultists into her body, claiming that this allows them to "transcend to a higher place".
  • Deconstruction: Aberrant deconstructs the superhero genre, often abandoning or defying many of its standard tropes.
  • Die or Fly: The most common way novas erupt.
  • Emergency Transformation: One of the most common causes of eruption is a future nova being in mortal danger for their life.
  • Emotion Suppression: Totentanz's eruption brought many wonders, one of which was complete elimination of all positive emotions; that's because he erupted after his "lover" revealed her infidelity in the worst manner possible.
  • Explosive Breeder: Proteus fears "breeders" (fertile novas) in general, but they reserve their greatest fears for "hatchers" — tainted breeders whose mutations have transformed them into r-type (large numbers of progeny with little parental care invested) reproducers. A hypothetical "perfect storm" hatcher, one who produces 10 identically tainted offspring (of which 5 survive) per month, which grow to reproduction age in six months, could produce forty-five thousand offspring in as little as two years.
  • The Extremist Was Right: On both sides of the racial division. The baseliners fearing novas as potentially deadly to human existence were right, since the canon of the metaplot is that they nearly destroy the world, leading to the Aeon setting. The novas fearing baseliners were right, as novas who sign up with Project Utopia are sterilised as part of it.
  • Fictional Counterpart: The N! network, which is for Novas what E! is for celebrities in entertainment.
  • Flying Car: Flying cars exist, but their use is restricted to police, emergency services and the military.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The Aberrant War is waiting to happen in the future, at least canonically.
  • From Bad to Worse: Taint doesn't seem that bad to begin with ...how bad can neon pink armpit hair be?
  • Gender Bender: It can happen when one Erupts.
  • Government Drug Enforcement: All newly erupted novas are secretly fed sterility drugs along with the drugs given to help them control their powers in order to prevent the breeding of a superpowered race.
  • The Group: The Directive
  • Hot Scientist: Dr. Rachel Alinsky, De Vries Agency's scientific genius, looks like a grad student despite nearing her forties.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Aberrant is set in a world where the main way of getting superpowers is by surviving a near-death experience that triggers a change within you. Needless to say, between the sheer joy of having powers and the celebrity-like status that comes with some supers, there are a lot of... unhappy accidents.
  • Immune to Drugs / Never Gets Drunk: A side effect of nova powers.
  • Internet Incorporated: The OpNet is the system that esentially replaced the internet (due to better Applied Phlebotinum) and requires its users to be licensed.
  • Knight Templar: Project Proteus. Many of the Teragen. Let's just say there were a fair few.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The metaplot is very clear from the beginning; there will be an Aberrant War that destroys everything that humanity and novas built together and drives the novas away from Earth.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: One of the many consequences of taking high levels of Taint.
  • Magic Feather: An actual disadvantage.
  • Making a Splash: Splash is a well-respected member of Team Tomorrow with the ability to control water and transform her body into water.
  • Malfunction Malady: The Yin/Yang enhancement enables a nova with Mega-Appearance to switch between male and female forms. If the nova gets pregnant (a rare event), this enhancement will shut down at a certain point in the pregnancy, locking the nova in female form.
  • Metaplot: Given that the game is a prequel, this is a necessity. The game was most certainly being written towards the Aberrant War and the loss of everything good that had come from novas.
  • Mind Rape: There are superpowers for this, as expected.
    • Greenwar's M. O. when not straight up murdering their enemies basically consists of mind-raping them. This is made possible by resident telepath, who can absorb thoughts of a dying animal and transfer them to the one(s) responsible for the crime against nature. One poor Japanese guy ended up believing he is a whale whose family was slaughtered by whalers (who, naturally, were his employees).
  • Most Common Super Power: Explicitly lampshaded in the graphic for the Mega-Appearance attribute.
  • Muggle Power: Various groups and factions. The most hostile is the Church of Archangel Michael, a fundamentalist group who stalk and murder novas whilst publicly becrying their existence as agents of Satan. Project Utopia is ultimately one of these, sterilising all of the novas it recruits to ensure that, in addition to being drafted for the good of baseline humanity, they won't breed eve stronger novas.
  • Mutant Draft Board: Project Utopia.
  • My Suit Is Also Super: Eufiber, a material produced by a particular Nova, is the material of choice for Novas who don't want to end up naked - it shifts to fit their form, and is nearly indestructible. The Aberrant Players' Guide even introduces the Weave skill, which allows a Nova to reshape their Eufiber suit with just their will.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: A lot of them exist, but Totentanz comes to mind most readily. Translated from German, his alias means "The Dance of Death". Fitting, considerin he's a Nova mercenary with absolutely monstrous fighting abilities.
    • Divis Mal means something along the lines of "Wicked God"
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: It turns out that the thing that causes the Aeon War that leads to the Trinity setting? It's the truth that Project Utopia sterilises all of its recruits immediately upon recruitment becoming public knowledge, leading to outraged novas and scared new novas rising up enmasse to defend and avenge themselves.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Duke Rollo is basically Hunter S. Thompson, the name riffing on Thompson's alter ego Raoul Duke. As a Shout-Out, the title of a supplement collecting some of Rollo's columns is Fear and Loathing.
  • Post-Cyberpunk: During the early Aberrant period, nova powers are a good thing, and the technological advances built on their powers generally do lead to the world becoming a better place. The problem is, it all gets screwed up when humanity and the novas turn on each other.
  • Prequel in the Lost Age: To Trinity. While it's not more technologically advanced (generally speaking), life is usually much better for everyone and the mood is much more optimistic.
  • Quantum Mechanics Can Do Anything: The explanation for nova powers.
  • Reality Warper: Although all Novas bend reality a little, the Level 6 power "Planck Scaling" is the purest example in the game. It allows the user to cause absolutely anything inside a certain area. These changes will last after power is turned off, even if their existence contradicts laws of physics. An interesting side-effect of the power is that in absence of the user, anyone else can project their thoughts into the "bubble", with multiple participants leading to most bizarre results.
  • Skeletons in the Coat Closet: The most notable feature of Totentanz's costume is the golden skull which covers his head.
  • Screw Destiny : A significant portion of fans ignore the canon leading up to Trinity.
  • Screw Yourself: The player's handbook contains a chapter with various superhero teams and similar groups across the world. One is the Queer Nova Alliance, an informal group of Novas with "alternate lifestyles". One member is Tommy Orgy, whose selection of powers includes self-cloning. Or, as another nova observes, "Gorgeous, gay, and able to duplicate himself; it's a wonder Tommy Orgy ever leaves his house." When Tommy tells another nova to "Go fuck yourself", the other retorts, "I thought that was more your forte, Thomas." A listener adds, "Well, according to every other fanfic I read on the OpNet, anyways..."
  • Shockwave Clap: The Mega-Strength enhancement 'Thunderclap' allows a character to do this.
  • Shout-Out: "Node Phage" aberration means that the nova affected by it has to examine M-R nodes of other novas to increase their own power. Read: take superhumans' brains to get their abilities. Hmm, sounds a lot like that guy from Heroes...
  • Super Human Trafficking: Some novas are hunted by criminal syndicates who kidnap them and harvest their organs to make superpowered drugs.
  • Super Registration Act: A rather underhanded variety. While there is no official law requiring Novas to register, their powers tend to be hard to control without specialized training and medical care. Both are available only from Project Utopia, so most of them end up there, policing their "unenlightened" brethren. In the process they're also unknowingly sterilized. It should be no surprise that the setting concludes with every Nova on Earth discovering this fact and going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge that pretty much wrecks the entire world - after which the authorities destroy all records of their crimes, claim that all Novas inevitably go insane, and systematically kill them from that point on.
  • Wave Motion Gun: Although Aberrant characters are generally played at a much lower level of power, akin to your average Marvel Comics character, the game has Quantum powers at levels 4, 5, and 6 (which could only be acquired after a very long campaign if you play by the standard rules.) One of the least broken level 6 powers is Quantum Inferno which allows the character to fire a Quantum Bolt capable of punching a hole, hundreds of kilometers wide, clean through the planet (which needless to say is the immediate predecessor to the planet's destruction.)
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Project Utopia, directed behind the scenes by Max Mercer, is trying so very hard to avoid the Bad Future by helping the novas who work with it make a better world... while the black ops subdivision is secretly sterilizing them permanently with a tailored virus so they can't breed more and possibly stronger novas, and murdering those who find out about the program.