Tabletop Game: Age of Aquarius

First edition cover

Age of Aquarius (Russian: Эра Водолея, or "Era Vodoleya") is the first commercial Tabletop RPG produced in Russia. Appeared in 2001 and went through two editions to date, it is set in a world similar to our own, where various supernatural phenomena are a reality but are hidden under The Masquerade. It was compared to the Old World of Darkness, but unlike it, Age of Aquarius is a more optimistic and idealistic world.

According to the story, the astrological age of Pisces, associated with organized religion and science, is slowly fading, and the new age of Aquarius, associated with magic, is setting foot on the world. But our society is incapable to deal with it without catastrophical changes, necessitating use of The Masquerade to unveil the truth very slowly. To do that, an international conspiracy of security agencies is created in 1945, called the Nettersheim Pact.

The first edition of this game was mostly concerned with the activities of the Russian organisation of the Nettersheim Pact, called Institute of Applied Exophysics. The second edition added two more playable organizations: DEFENDER, a heroic Private Military Contractor which is aware of the big picture and is preparing to fight off an apocalypse, and the Utopists, who are a loose network of roguish, but generally Chaotic Good Mad Scientists. Of course, an option to play as an unaffiliated team was always present.

This Tabletop RPG provides examples of:

  • Noble Wolf: Evgeni Veeda, a Lawful Good and very badass werewolf.
  • No Export for You: it was made by a team of enthusiasts who had troubles fiding a publisher. Of course it isn't hitting American bookshelves.
  • Occult Law Firm: averted. The Institute utilizes an extraordinary tribunal of law that provides the supernatural criminals a free (but terrible) defence attorney and most likely will convict them. It's the investigation that tells innocent from guilty. All this is actually an exaggerated form of Soviet justice system.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Buran's real name is Georgy Maximovich Zheleznyak. Everyone calls him by nickname, which means "Blizzard".
  • Our Vampires Are Different: vampirism in this verse is caused by a magical demonic virus.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different
  • Path of Inspiration: many cultist type enemies of the Institute. The first edition even had the guts to openly accuse Scientology of being one of those.
  • Point Build System
  • Post Modern Magic: called "neo-magic". It allows you mix different magical traditions and will never conflict with modern lifestyles, but will always be underpowered compared to "pure" Ancient Traditions.
  • Power Levels: spirits have these in form of the "Power Index". They range from 1 (an invisible, powerless spirit - typical for a freshly dead soul of a common civilian) through 2-4 (ghosts who can manifest, knock or sometimes even materialize, most nature spirits also go here) through 5-6 (powerful angels and demons who can work miracles) to 7 (small-g gods in full power).
  • Private Military Contractor: DEFENDER.
  • Promoted Fangirl: Aurora Nikolaeva, one of the authors of the second editions. She even lampshades it in the foreword.
  • Psychic Powers: run all the gamut from telepathy to clairvoyance to psychokinesis. Your character can use them if they have the "Psychic" advantage.
  • Rat Stomp: rats are included in the enemy stat block.
  • Red October: the (yet unreleased) prequel game Age of Pisces: Scarlet Dawn will be set in this era. Think Deadlands IN SOVIET RUSSIA!
  • Ritual Magic: all of it. That's what makes magic different from, say, Psychic Powers.
  • Sanity Meter: the Confidence stat doubles as one. If you lose it, you can end up with psychological disadvantages or even lose your sanity completely. A very real occupational hazard for both mages and psychics.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The 13th Department of NSA (the American Nettersheimer organisation) is an allusion to Bureau13.
    • DEFENDER has a pilot named Cid.
    • The current development team is called POPEREK, which is Russian for ACROSS.
  • The Six Stats: a slightly altered version. The three physical stats are ISO standard; the mental stats are Education (loosely equivalent to D&D Intelligence) , Cognition (loosely equivalent to D&D Wisdom) and Confidence (loosely equivalent to D&D Charisma). There is also the seventh stat, Luck. They all range from 0 (a challenged person) to 5 (world-famous for it). A stat of 6 is too uber to be normal and typically belongs to some powerful supernatural creature. 7 and 8 are reserved for god-like NPCs than may even be honest-to-goodness gods or demigods.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: that's how exophysics works.
  • They Fight Crime: They are Player Characters. They work for the Institute. They fight supernatural crime!
  • Time Abyss: Semyon Nikolaev, a.k.a. Hermes Trismegistus, Enoch and Count de Saint-Germaine. Word Of God states him to be 15000 years old.. Still younger than many spirits and gods, but you already expect Archangel Michael, Odin or Cthulhu to be older than the mountains, so they do not fit the trope. And you definitely do not expect the kindly old telephone prankster to be that ancient.
  • Trickster Mentor: Granddaddy Semyon again. His favourite way of teaching magic is via phone prank. If Semyon appears in person and speaks plainly and clearly, it means some serious trouble a-brewing, serious enough to warrant his personal intervention. The last time he did so was World War II.
  • World Half Full: the twilight between eras is dark and dangerous, but there's hope everything will get better.