A set of three linked tabletop RPGs from White Wolf, the people who brought you The World of Darkness games. They're set in a science-based world where heroes with extraordinary powers arise during various eras, each time manifesting in a way that fits their era. Like most White Wolf games a edge of He Who Fights Monsters and World Half Empty form the periphery of the world view to varying degrees. (It's almost entirely absent in Adventure!, and most powerfully expressed in Aberrant.)
Official game lines:
- Adventure!: Set in the 1920s, you play as one of various pulp archetypes.
- Aberrant: In the near future, the explosion of the space station Galatea imbues people all over the world with superpowers, turning them into "novas".
- Æon or Trinity: In the 22nd century, humanity is rebuilding from the Aberrant War under the "guidance" of the Æon Trinity.
Trinity and Aberrant both put out a number of supplements, but were eventually cancelled due to low sales. Adventure! only managed to get a corebook. D20 versions of the corebooks were released in 2004.
All three games have been acquired outright by Onyx Path Publishing, a company set up to handle WW's tabletop publishing side, who plan to bring out new versions under the collective title of the Trinity Continuum, as well as exploring other time periods outside the main three. A Kickstarter for the Trinity Continuum and Æon corebooks was successfully completed in February 2018, followed by a successful Kickstarter for Aberrant in July 2019.
Not to be confused with the PS3 Game of the same name.
This RPG series provides examples of:
- Anachronic Order: Of the three games, Trinity was released first and Adventure! last. The pattern holds for the new version, too.
- Ancient Conspiracy: The Æon Society probably counts as this by Trinity. In Aberrant it's only 80+ years old and in Adventure! it's about 2 years old.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: This is the fate of most species in the revised timeline, in some form. What form the ascended species takes depends on their natural aptitudes.
- Badass Normal: Talents are not this; though they might look like it to an outside observer, their Inspiration involves a Winds of Destiny, Change caused by manipulating temporal flux. However, without extensive testing, it's very difficult to tell the difference between a Talent and an extraordinarily-skilled normal human, who does with skill, practice and determination what a Talent does with Inspiration.
- BFG: A sufficiently strong Nova can wield a cut-down 30mm gatling gun (normally found on A-10s) as a (super)man-portable weapon. In Trinity the Chameleon BioVARG is a 2 meter tall suit of Powered Armor that can mount a single mecha-sized weapon.
- China Takes Over the World: Well, not quite. But they are by far the most powerful nation in settled space by Trinity. At one point China held the Earth at their mercy with nuclear satellites to get the Aberrants to knock it off already, but they were good enough to disarm them once the Aberrants left Earth.
- Cut Short: The psi order books ended prematurely when the Trinity line was cancelled - "Asia Ascendant", the Ministry order book, had been written, but lacked art and official layout. White Wolf gave their permission to release the manuscript for free, and versions can be found floating around the net. ("India Underground", the Quantakinetic order book, is a fan supplement.)
- Likewise, there were plans for more Aberrant books before cancellation hit.
- Cyberpunk: Trinity's North America is basically a straight-up example. The rest of the world averts the trope.
- Doing In the Wizard: The publishers are quite adamant that the games — especially Adventure! and Aberrant — do not involve magic in any way, shape, or form. All superpowers possessed by the characters are due to the manipulation of new forms of energy ("Z-waves" in Adventure!, "quantum" in Aberrant). Given the properties ascribed to these energies, of course, it ends up working out basically the same way.
- Fanon Discontinuity: Invoked in the Aberrant book. The writers made it very clear that they knew that players were going to ignore the part of the metaplot where most of the Aberrants turn on humanity, and expressly gave them permission to do so in the book.
- Schizo Continuity: The reboot games take it to the next level, explicitly running on Alternate Timeline Continuity - e.g. Æon has the Aberrant War as established history, but in Aberrant how things turn out, and whether the War even happens, depends on the individual game. Likewise, Aberrant is only a potential future of the present-day setting, and so on.
- Humans Are Special: Humans are the only known race with the potential to develop noetic, quantum, and Inspired powers to their full potential.
- Humongous Mecha: The Danguard Armored Warrior from Aberrant, and the VARGs from Trinity.
- Love Makes You Evil: Well, it didn't help Divis Mal's mental state much...
- Metaplot: A metaplot that stretched over three different game lines, no less!
- To explain: In the original games, a game line set earlier in the setting could reveal the origins of characters and events that would affect game lines set later. On top of that, Trinity and Aberrant both had a traditional advancing timeline metaplot, with supplements advancing the timeline and covering events that changed the game line's setting (such as the Upeo wa Macho's return in Trinity).
- However, while the reboot games have a 'default timeline' that leads to Æon and beyond, most of the individual game lines don't have an advancing timeline, remaining set at a particular point. (The exception is the present-day setting, which advances with the calendar.)
- Organic Technology: Any Psion can attune to powerful biotechnological devices. Also, the Eufiber used by Novas is actually living bacterial colonies which are extruded from the body of a powerful nova fashion designer.
- Post-Cyberpunk: Aberrant provides a setting that's rapidly building towards a utopia, as novas use their abilities to rapidly advance science and technology, terraform the Sahara, and decide the fates of nations by shootfighting on global TV. Of course, all of this is set up so that it can be torn down in the Aberrant War. This was taken as a given in the original, but the reboot makes it only a possibility that the PCs can avert.
- Reed Richards Is Useless: Averted quite fiercely in Aberrant — superintelligent novas have revolutionized every industry you can think of (and several you probably can't), and any large corporation will have at least a few novas on their payroll. Not to mention that they've turned Ethiopia green, eliminated pollution, and generally done awesome stuff.
- Also averted in Trinity: most industries have applied noetic science (the scientific theory behind psychic abilities) to their various fields in order to go further than would be possible without psionic talent. One of the Psionic Orders is a corporation, and yes, they do indeed make products for the mass market using psionics. Humanity in the 22nd Century has things like interstellar space travel and colonization solely because of psionic powers such as teleportation, including biotech "jump ships".
- Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: Three times, no less. First the Æon Society starts up to guide mankind to a beautiful future. They are betrayed from within (twice) and history takes a depressingly familiar route. (Word of God is things would have been worse if not for them, however.) Then the Novas arise and start turning Earth into a utopia. Sadly With Great Power Comes Great Insanity and that and Project Proteus cause the Aberrant War. Millions die, several areas are rendered uninhabitable, telecommunications are set back 100 years and the Novas only leave because China threatens to nuke everything if they don't. Humanity recovers and begins to shoot for the stars, setting up colonies on other worlds and even making friends with an alien race. Then the Aberrants return, start blowing up space stations and drop one such station on France, destroying most of it and two other less friendly alien races show up, intent on destruction and in one case rape. One wonders why humans bother anymore, really.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Max Mercer is trying so hard, bless him...
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Trinity takes a middle ground; it's about hope, sacrifice and unity in a Crapsack World, and the players really can make a difference. First edition Aberrant, by contrast, is exceedingly cynical; the novas are destined to destroy the utopia that they were building through a combination of Taint, revenge and plain old ego; second edition keeps that cynical conclusion as default, but also allows it to be averted. Adventure! tries to be idealistic (as befits the pulp atmosphere), but Max Mercer's noble effort still won't end well.
- They Called Me Mad!: Trying to explain the principles behind Inspired Science to an un-Inspired mind doesn't work; the white paper will read like something out of Time Cube. In the Aberrant setting, the usual assumption is that the inventor's a nova and people will try to help them work their inspiration into a coherent theory (and a marketable product), but in other eras you can get this trope or worse.
- Weird Science: Comes in three flavors, as discussed in the corebook. It should be noted that what's possible for mundanes changes over time; the Inspired Science of a pulp airship engineer can be significantly inferior to mundane modern aircraft.
- Advanced Science is science that was initially developed through Inspiration or power use and can't be initially developed by mundanes, but is itself mundane (if ten or more years ahead of its time), is firmly grounded in scientific laws, and can be reproduced and understood by mundanes.
- Inspired Science is classic "mad science." Anyone can operate a freeze ray or a personal jetpack with proper training, but the science they run on is literally incomprehensible to those without The Spark of Genius (from any power source). Only the empowered can build devices like these, they can't be mass-produced, and attempting to write up the science behind them would come across as completely bonkers.
- Powered Science can only be used by the creator (who must be a nova or psychic) and actually draws on their quantum or psi power to function.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Being a nova is awesome, until you acquire so much Taint that you either go crazy, turn into a hulking abomination, or have your powers go wildly out of control. (Sometimes all three.) Of course, acquiring Taint is necessary for a nova to attain true power... or, at least that's what the Doyen and Æon Trinity say. Actually, it depends on the time period, the rulebook used, and the nova in question. Not all novas go insane, but most do, especially because accepting Taint is a far quicker road to power than trying to control it. Also, when The Colony returned to attack humanity, he only brought along novas who were as corrupt as he was.