The following are house rules I used for my Team Tomorrow Aberrant game.
Quantum powers by their very nature are flexible and often wide-ranging; a nova can manipulate the fundamental forces of reality, after all. Sometimes a basic power is not enough to achieve the effect the nova desires, and a nova will push to gain the extra power she needs. This is called “maxing” quantum, the nova equivalent of pushing your limits.
This system replaces the system for maxing powers found on p. 147 of Aberrant. In addition to improving existing quantum powers, characters can use this system to expand and learn new powers as well.
To max Quantum, the nova spends a point of Willpower and a variable number of quantum points (up to his Quantum score). Each quantum point spent allows the nova to roll one die. A 7-9 is considered a success, while a 10 is considered 2 successes. If the roll fails, the nova gains a point of temporary Taint. If the roll botches, the nova gets a point of temporary Taint, plus one point for every “1” that comes up on the roll. Characters can “buy” successes on the Quantum roll by taking a point of temporary Taint for each additional success (up to a maximum number of successes equal to their Quantum score).
Successes from a maxing roll can be “spent” on any of the following:
- Area: One success doubles the area of an Area or Explosive power.
- Attributes: One success can increase one of the nova’s normal attributes by 2 (to a maximum of 5).
- Duration: One success doubles the duration of a quantum power.
- Enhancements: Two successes grant a new enhancement for a Mega-Attribute the nova possesses.
- Extras: Two successes add a new extra to a quantum power the nova possesses, if the nova has sufficient Quantum to add another extra to that power.
- Increased Duration: Unlesss specified otherwise, bonuses gained from maxing last for a single turn. The nova can spend additional successes to increase this time, one success per extra turn.
- Increased Mega-Attributes: Two successes grant an additional dot in a mega-attribute the nova already has.
- Increased Power Ratings: Two successes grant an additional dot in a quantum power the nova already has.
- Mega-Attributes: Two successes grant a dot in a new mega-attribute along with one free enhancement of the nova’s choice.
- Quantum Powers: The nova can gain one dot any quantum power, with a cost equal to the power’s level plus one, so long as the nova meets the prerequistes for the power. Additional dots cost two successes each.
- Range/Speed: One success doubles the range or speed of a quantum power.
- Soak: One success adds one to the character’s soak vs. bashing and lethal damage.
Maxed powers are a very personal experience for novas. Many nova create special “maneuvers” for their maxed powers. A maxed power can be related to a “power stunt” or “special maneuver”. Maxed powers should also fit into the overall scheme of the nova’s powers somehow, and should not just come out of the blue. Physically powerful characters don’t suddenly bust out random mental powers without a good reason, for example.
Gaining New Powers
How do novas learn new quantum powers and mega-attributes? Much like bodybuilders put more weight on the bar to build bigger muscles, novas must push more quantum through their nodes, learning to channel it in different ways, ultimately altering their personal quantum signature.
To gain new mega-attributes and quantum powers, novas must produce the ability through maxing at least once, after which they can spend experience to buy the ability permanently. Buying up existing quantum abilities does not require maxing, only practice and experience. Once a character has one dot in a mega-attribute or power, they can buy it up without having to max out.
Increasing Quantum and Node
Quantum-manipulating ability is much like a muscle that improves with exercise, and a nova’s M-R node can grow with increased use of quantum abilities. To improve their Quantum or Node ratings, novas must push themselves to their limits, really “going for the burn”. To buy up Quantum, a nova must have successfully maxed his Quantum score at least ten times since his last Quantum increase. He can then spend experience to increase his Quantum rating. Likewise, to increase Node background, the character must have successfully maxed Quantum five times since his last increase, after which he can spend experience to improve his Node.
Characters that wish to take multiple actions in a turn must subtract 2 dice from their first action and 1 die for each additional action (so -3 dice for the second action, -4 dice for the third, etc.). Dice penalties are subtracted from mega-dice first. Once a player has declared all of his character’s actions, the only actions the character can take for the rest of the turn are defensive actions. If multi-action penalties reduce a dice pool to 0, the character cannot take that action.
Example: Gabriel wants to strike two mitoids with her flaming sword this turn. She subtracts 2 dice from her first Dexterity + Melee roll and 3 dice from her second. Later in the turn, both mitoids attack her. She subtracts 4 dice from her attempt to dodge the first and 5 from her second dodge (her fourth action this turn). Gabriel can’t strike the mitoids again or blast them with heavenly light until her next turn, but she can continue to dodge for as long as she has dice left.
A nova’s Node rating grants an additional trait called Quantum Flux (or simply Flux), equal to half the Quantum Expenditure rating (round up). This is an amount of energy the nova can draw upon each turn to power quantum abilities. Quantum point expenditures each turn below this threshold are essentially free: the energy comes from the fabric of the universe, not from the nova’s personal reserves. Quantum costs above the Flux rating (up to the nova’s Quantum Expenditure limit) come from the Quantum Pool as usual. Quantum costs from Maxing (above), and quantum lost to effects like Quantum Leech, always come from the character’s Quantum Pool. If a character chooses, he can “soak” some of the loss from Quantum Leech with his unused Flux, reducing it by the amount soaked for that turn. Otherwise, the rules for Quantum Pool use and recovery are as described in the Aberrant rulebook.
Example: Gemini has Node 2, giving her a Flux rating of 5. She can spend 5 quantum per turn with no reduction in her Quantum Pool. In one turn she chooses to activate her Flight, Force Field, and Mental Blast powers, for a total cost of 6 (2 each). This is 1 over her Flux, so she takes a point off her Quantum Pool. The following turn, she activates an enhancement (1 quantum) and uses her Warp power (3 quantum). This is below her Flux, so Gemini doesn’t use up any Quantum Pool this turn. The following turn, Totentanz hits Gemini with a Quantum Leech that drains 16 quantum; she chooses to soak 5 of it with her full Flux rating (reducing it to 0 for this turn), the remaining 11 points reduce her Quantum Pool to 18. Another couple hits like that, and Gemini’s reserves will be depleted. She also has no Flux left this turn; any quantum she uses has to come from her pool.
Unlike the other mega-attributes, Mega-Strength involves more than just a modification of the nova’s body or mind; no amount of sheer muscle packed into a human-sized frame can lift 100 tons! Experts believe there is a kind of “telekinetic” quantum manipulating element to Mega-Strength, allowing novas to pull off feats like lifting massive objects in defiance of the laws of leverage, or picking up heavy things without having them crumble or collapse under their own weight. Because of this, Mega-Strength costs 2 quantum per use. Out of combat, a use of Mega-Strength lasts for a scene, like other quantum powers. If a Mega-Strong nova chooses not to spend quantum on a use of Mega-Strength, it adds only its rating in extra damage dice or in bonus dice for Might rolls, and the Storyteller may subject the nova to more realistic requirements in terms of lifting and moving objects.
The following powers work somewhat differently in my Aberrant game.
See Matter Chameleon (below) for additional abilities and restrictions of certain forms.
When Disrupt is used against a clone, a single net success on the Disrupt roll destroys the clone. When Disrupt is used against the creator of the clones, each dot of reduction to the Clone power destroys one active clone. If Clone is reduced below one dot, all active clones vanish.
Increasing Density does not require a roll, it’s automatic. The character gains one dot of Strength (or Mega-Strength if Strength exceeds 5) and one extra soak against bashing and lethal damage per dot in Density Increase.
Quantum Minimum: 5
Dice Pool: Stamina + Matter Chameleon
Effect: Allows character to duplicate the properties of matter and energy.
Multiple Actions: No
Description: Matter Chameleon is similar to Bodymorph, but instead of allowing a character to assume only one form, it gives the power to take on the properties of any type of non-living matter or energy the character touches. If she touches rock, her body can become as durable and hard as stone. If she touches tear gas, she can become intangible and can blind people with her touch. If she touches water, she can flow through pipes and ignore many forms of attack. If she touches fire, she becomes living flame, and so forth.
To use Matter Chameleon, the nova must pay the required quantum points and touch the matter or energy she wishes to duplicate (doing so causes no damage, even if the substance is normally damaging). The player rolls Stamina + Matter Chameleon. One success is sufficient to assume some of the properties of the substance. Each additional success can “purchase” one dot in a power related to the form assumed. Traits granted by Matter Chameleon cannot exceed the character’s dots in the power, so a character with Matter Chameleon 3 cannot gain a power higher than 3 dots using it. Maintenance powers acquired through Matter Chameleon cost no quantum, they’re maintained by the maintenance cost of Matter Chameleon. The quantum cost for Instant powers, mega-attributes, and enhancements acquired through Matter Chameleon is paid normally.
Hard Solid: The character inflicts two extra dice of damage with Brawl and Martial Arts attacks, and all attacks directed at the character incur a penalty of +1 difficulty to hit. Additional Matter Chameleon successes can translate into levels of Armor, Claws, and Density Control (Increase). At least one success must be assigned to Density Control (Increase).
Liquid/Amorphous: The character automatically gains the ability to breathe and exist in water, may move through water at twice normal running speed, gains the Flexibility enhancement (p. 157) and may use the Asphyxiation combat maneuver (p. 246). Matter Chameleon successes can be assigned to Density Control (Decrease), Immolate (for corrosives), Invisibility (only in water), and Poison. At least one success must be assigned to Density Control (Decrease).
Gas: The character can automatically move through the air at normal running speed, gains +1 soak vs. physical damage, gains the Flexibility enhancement (p. 157) and may use the Asphyxiation combat maneuver (p. 246). Matter Chameleon successes can be assigned to Density Control (Decrease), Flight, Invisibility, Poison, Shroud, and Storm (equivalent to the Storm technique of Elemental Mastery). At least two successes must be assigned to Density Control (Decrease).
Energy: While transformed the character inflicts lethal damage with Brawl and Martial Arts attacks, and attacks directed at the character incur a penalty of +1 difficulty to hit. Matter Chameleon successes can be assigned to Bioluminescence, Density Control (Decrease), EMP (equivalent to the EMP technique of Magnetic Mastery), the Electromagnetic Vision enhancement, Flight, Force Field, Invisibility, Invulnerability (Energy Type), Strobe, and Teleport (only for moving at light-speed between points, no more than 6 Teleport success are possible). At least two successes must be assigned to Density Control (Decrease).
If a nova wishes to use Matter Chameleon as a defense against an incoming attack (for example, to assume the properties of fire based on being hit by a blast of flame), she may do so. This does not require an action, but it is easier if a held action is available. If the character does not have an action available, she must spend a point of Willpower. She then spends quantum points and rolls Stamina + Matter Chameleon. Even one success allows her to assume the attack’s properties, and each success increases the character’s soak against the attack by one.
Matter Chameleon has a few other benefits. By spending a quantum point, the character can walk on water or other fluids, as well as things like soft sand or snow, at normal speed (this does not protect against the damaging properties of fluids like acid or magma). By spending three quantum points and touching solid matter, the character can “attune” her molecules to pass harmlessly through the substance at normal walking speed.
Quantum Minimum: 4
Dice Pool: Stamina + Shapeshift
Effect: Allows character to alter his shape.
Multiple Actions: Yes
Description: Shapeshift allows a nova to reshape his own body. With the enough power and training, he can transform into virtually anything he can imagine. To transform, spend quantum points and make a Stamina + Shapeshift roll. Only one success is needed to assume the desired shape. Additional successes can be assigned to dots of powers appropriate for that shape. Shapeshift can only imitate physical properties, not energy or quantum abilities (a shapeshifter cannot, for example turn into fire or into another nova and gain their abilities). Traits granted by Shapeshift cannot exceed the character’s dots in the power, so a character with Shapeshift 3 cannot gain a power higher than 3 dots using it. Maintenance powers acquired through Shapeshift cost no quantum, they’re maintained by the maintenance cost of Shapeshift. The quantum cost for Instant powers, mega-attributes, and enhancements acquired through Shapeshift is paid normally.
Shapeshift successes can be applied to the following abilities: two additional dots in a Physical Attribute (no higher than a total of 5), Adaptibility, Analytic Taste/Touch, Armor, Bioluminescence, Bloodhound, Body Modification (1 success per modification), Claws, Density Control (Increase), Density Control (Decrease), Electromagnetic Vision, Face of Terror, Flexibility, Flight, Hyperenhanced Hearing, Poison, Sensory Shield, Sizemorph (Grow), Sizemorph (Shrink), and Ultraperipheral Perception. In cases where a duplicated power has a dice pool, the nova uses the power’s normal dice pool or Stamina + Shapeshift, whichever is less. Powers must be appropriate to the form assumed (Storyteller’s judgment).
A nova can use Shapeshift to disguise himself as someone else. Looking like a generic “other person” requires only one success. Copying another person exactly requires two successes. If the shapeshifter duplicates someone with Mega-Appearance, he may assign shapeshift successes to Mega-Appearance dots (up to the rating possessed by the original character) but gains none of the subject’s enhancements.
The difficulty of a telepathic scan (p. 225, Aberrant) is based on how well the nova knows the subject. A known subject (someone the nova knows reasonably well) is +0. A familiar subject (known in passing) is +1. Somone the nova has only seen briefly in person is +3. Someone the nova has seen but never met before is +4, and someone the nova has never seen or met before is +5. Range is determined by the number of successes achieved over the difficulty. Also note that people unwilling to be scanned telepathically may roll Willpower to resist the attempt.