Monday, November 18, 2013

Alas, Aberrant.

We have been playing Aberrant, the supers game from White Wolf, for the past five or six weeks.

The story we created revolved around the Alternatives, a team of novas headquartered in San Francisco. The Alternatives were created by wealthy real estate tycoon L. Roy Davidson as a competitor to Project Utopia and Team 2Morrow.

The campaign was going great. The story was developing. In true Aberrant fashion, the story involved secret agendas, conspiracies, truths revealed, etc. Everyone had compelling interesting characters and were invested in the meta-plot.

Unfortunately, we were betrayed by the rules.

The rules failed us in three areas:

1) The rules are terribly complex. Battles were taking us about 30 minutes per combat round. There was a lot of complexity to track. Which dice were which (mega-stats vs. normal stats vs. stats that explode tens). Converting mega-attributes to normal attributes. Automatic successes vs. dice. mega-successes vs. normal successes. Subtracting dice from multiple actions, which is simple enough but led to some complicated math when deciding how many actions it was worth taking this turn. One of my players just never ever could wrap his head around the rules, no matter how hard he tried.

2) It's roshambo. It's terribly difficult to match PCs up with NPCs in an interesting fight. It was always "PC-A defeats NPC-B with one touch. NPC-C defeats PC-A with one touch. PC-D defeats NPC-C with one touch." and so on. It therefore became difficult to challenge the PCs. If the PCs were "rocks", they would either fight "scissors" and win without effort, or they would fight "papers" and lose badly. Or they would fight a mixed group and whoever won initiative won the fight. And one of the PCs ALWAYS won initiative.

3) It's exploitable. As a side-effect of the very complicated rules, it is possible to find exploits in the rules that make your PC unbeatable or at least far more effective than other characters made with the same number of points. One player announced to me last week that, in three experience points, he will have Quantum 6, which would effectively double all his damage and soak, making him unbeatable.

I was beginning to become disappointed. It was very time consuming making NPCs because of the complicated powers and rules, and they weren't challenging the PCs anyway. The players weren't enjoying the complex rules either.

We talked about it as a group and decided to abandon Aberrant.

I decided to bring out another old supers game: Silver Age Sentinels.

I have never run SAS, but I ran BESM back in the 90s and I did play in an SAS game back in 2003. The game is MUCH simpler! The powers are much more straightforward and less exploitable.

I will have to convert many of my NPCs over to SAS, but that shouldn't be too difficult. I also want to move away from some Aberrant universe concepts that I found too stifling as a GM. I'm moving the setting over to my old Mutants and Masterminds settings, which is more 4-color than Aberrant. So I'll be changing little things. For instance, Team 2Morrow will now be U.N.I.T.E.D. The Directive will be A.E.G.I.S. Teragen will be called the Legion.

I'll be posting my NPCs and conversions in the coming weeks.