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Tabletop Game / Dark•Matter (1999)

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The Dark Matter setting, also called Dark•Matternote , was first published in 1999 for TSR's Alternity RPG, then recycled for its d20 Modern RPG. This is a world where every lunatic conspiracy theory is true. There really are psychic grey aliens abducting humans and mutilating cattle. Illuminati type groups really are working to bring the entire world under their control. Bigfoot? He's out there too. And The Government is covering it all up. The players are field agents for the shadowy private organization known as the Hoffmann Institute, devoted to investigating the activities of psychics, cultists, and "xenoforms" and protecting humankind from the tide of dark matter seeping into the fabric of the universe that's the ultimate cause of all things paranormal.

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Dark•Matter Provides Examples Of:

  • Apocalypse Cult: The Final Church has vaguely defined long-term goals beyond widespread murder and sacrifice, but it might qualify as one.
    • The Real Life Aum Shinri Kyo gets a write up.
  • Arc Number: The number 23.
  • Area 51 is home to variety of research projects like the Aurora and reverse engineering alien ships including the ship from Roswell.
  • Banishing Ritual: The Monotheism Faith FX skill Exorcism can remove a demon or evil spirit from the physical world and return it to its home dimension.
  • Benevolent Conspiracy: Several of the conspiracies located in the book can have fairly benevolent aims, as decided by the GM, though the Hoffmann Institute that employs the player is the foremost one. (Unless the GM decides otherwise.)
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: Sasquatch are a Servant Race created by the greys from DNA from neanderthals, Gigantopithecus, or some alien species. They have Chameleon Camouflage which explains how they are so hard to catch on camera.
    • Yetis are are a variant of sasquatch found in the Himalayas.
  • Big Red Devil: Luciferans look the part (and are aggressively hated by the elohim), but are generally Enochian practitioners and thoroughly distinct from actual demons. Then again, they're also responsible for introducing the technology for true suitcase nukes during the Cold War, so...
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  • Brain Uploading: The first Internet ghost was created when someone was experimenting with a neural array meant to replicate human thought processes. The process duplicates the conscious rather then changing it to digital form. The game leaves it open if other internet ghosts are duplicating the original experiment or duplicating themselves.
  • Conspiracy Kitchen Sink: As befitting a paranormal conspiracy based game, there are whole loads of conspiracies in play and at cross-purposes. The game even gives different options of exactly what the different conspiracies are really up to.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: The Litterman is a creature made from a amalgam of garbage, slaying humans who despoil the planet. Capable of disassembling and resembling itself around garbage, Littermen have killed people in situations that mystify the authorities, who believe that the slayings are the work of human Serial Killers.
  • The Greys: A key part of the backstory, having been manipulating human advancement for ages. One disguised as a human called Dr. Itohiro Nakami founded the Hoffmann Institute.
  • Hand of Glory: With the added twist that what a hand of glory does depends on what the original owner did, such as a thief's makes people fall asleep, while a magician's hand makes the user smarter and more skilled at magic.
  • Hollywood Satanism: The Final Church, THE worldwide conspiracy for demons and satanists. Basically, pretend that every paranoid rumor regarding Satanism was actually true and you get the gist. There was even a web book devoted solely to the group at the end of the game's run, and the group makes a comeback in the Menace Manual.
  • Humanshifting: Sandmen have a limited ability to change their appearance. There are also the dopplegangers from the Xenoforms supplement who are of unknown origin even to themselves.
  • The Illuminati: The original Bavarian Illuminati is referenced, but the Illuminati term is used as a blanket term for the many groups that know what's going on and have their own conspiracies, including the Freemasons, CIA, the Bilderbergers, etc.
  • Kill and Replace: Doppelgangers do this when deciding to imitate someone long term, usually to enjoy the wealth and perks that living that life may bring.
  • Lucky Charms Title: Following the pattern set by Star*Drive setting, using punctuation in the middle of its title.
  • The Magic Comes Back: The level of supernatural activity on Earth is directly linked to the amount of dark matter in the universe, which is likened to a tide pool. The rising tide of dark matter, however, is not a good thing: not only are many supernatural beings extremely dangerous, but previous risings of the tide have resulted in mass extinction events, as noted in the Mayan calendar.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: The Etoile are writhing mass of wires made of dark matter and exotic metals bearing a faint resemblance to metallic jellyfish.
  • The Men in Black: Given stats in the Bestiary. Three explanations are provided for what they are: Government agents, aliens disguised as humans (and doing a bad job of playing the part), or strange entities that are attracted to paranormal events and their attempts to cover up events are actually a form of Reverse Psychology to get people to talk about these events. Any (Or all) of these could be true.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Most of the creatures and conspiracies are given vague or multiple origins to leave open story options.
  • My Grandson, Myself: Nakami pretends to be his own son to transfer the leadership position of Hoffmann Institute without becoming suspicious, being a Grey who uses illusions to appear as a human.
  • No Body Left Behind: Upon death, the nanites within a sandman disassemble the body into dust.
  • No Water Proofing In The Future: Despite being an advance fusion of machine and biological material (which would contain water) the sandmen are damaged when immersed in conductive liquids.
  • Our Angels Are Different: The Elohim are speculated to be a race that lived on Earth before they transcended to another dimension. They appear as tall, perfect humans but this seems A Form You Are Comfortable With. Other types have been seen, such as a fiery flying wheel or a pillar of fire, but these still may not be their true forms. They have a bit of a A God Am I complex around other races and they have the tech to back their attitude up. When they speak, every listener understands regardless of what languages they understand, which is rather impressive to the Greys. They also hate the luciferians and arcane magic users with a passion.
  • Our Cryptids Are More Mysterious: Several types of cryptids are addressed in the game.
  • Our Dark Matter Is Mysterious: The basis for the setting is that dark matter is responsible for paranomal phenomenon, and currently the Earth is passing through a high concentration of it. The total amount of magical and psionic energy increases and gates to other dimensions open up, allowing weird monsters to come through.
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: After a few generations, humans who engage in cannibalism degenerate into ghouls. Ghouls have unnaturally sharp fingernails and stink of blood and decay, forced to small pockets on the edge of society and slaking their hunger from morgues or the occasional isolated person.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Ekimmu are puppeteer parasites that control the body through changing its host's body chemistry and genetics until the Ekimmu feels the host weakening, then it transfers to a new host. The host undergoes a number of changes pale skin, bloodshot eyes, receding gumline, fingers becoming clawlike, baldness (they often wear a wig to hide this), antique speaking patterns, wearing old fashion clothes, and of course a hunger for blood and flesh (though hosts that have listened to vampire legends restrict their diet to blood). Some of the hosts have higher body density that causes them to sink like stones (explaining the whole Cannot Cross Running Water thing).
  • Rare Guns: An especially rare one in the H&K MP2000, a MP5 variant with a selectable gas vent to help keep bullets subsonic. The Hoffmann Institute has more of them than Heckler & Koch ever did.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: The Knights of Unity draw their membership from racist groups like the Aryan Nations, the KKK, and the Posse Comitatus.
  • Sewer Gator: The Hoffmann Institute created the urban legend as a cover story for their eradication of a kinori nest in New York City. Since then, the kinori have used the urban legend as a cover to introduce the real thing.
  • Shout-Out: The neural array that created the first Internet Ghost was dubbed in-universe as Hal by a sardonic researcher.
  • Straw Feminist: In the CDC, there's a group called the Gynarchy (the name really says it all). But if you're interested what the Gynarchy is actually doing, they are looking to eliminate the need for sperm in the whole reproductive process because they think men are obsolete and once men are out of the equation, women can Take Over the World.
  • The Tunguska Event: Tunguska was the location of a Grey settlement until it came close to being found. The Greys evacuated and then redirected a comet to destroy any remaining evidence, but used a comet with the wrong composition, which didn't destroy as much as they would have liked.
  • United Nations Is A Super Power: True to Conspiracy Theory lore, the United Nations is working to create a One World Order with a secret army flying around in Black Helicopters. It also started to secretly settle the moon. Untrue to conspiracy theory lore, some of the descriptions paint them as Well Intentioned Extremists with good reasons why they want a One World Order and a rather sympathetic vision of what kind of a state it would be.
  • Unwilling Roboticisation: The etoile transform humans into what are called "sandmen," fusing organic and metallic material via nanites. They use the sandmen to infiltrate the industrial centers of Earth and fight their enemies.
  • Who Shot JFK?: It was just Lee Harvey Oswald who shot him, but then the game complicates matters by stating Oswald was under the command of Freemasons, who had Kennedy assassinated as a sacrifice, noting his geographical coordinates were numbers important to Freemason rituals.
  • Xeno Nucleic Acid: Teroic pseudonucleic acid (TPA) is the unmistakable base of Grey-affiliated biochemistry.

Alternative Title(s): Dark Matter

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