Friday, April 8, 2022

Trinity Continuum: Four Tasty Bits

 Just going to get this out of the way real quick - I went into this skeptical about Onyx Path's "Tasty Bits" format and after reading four them, I remain unconvinced. It's largely an irrational feeling, because I enjoyed everything I read, and if I'd spent 25 dollars on the print version of a 100 page tasty bits compilation, I'd likely think it money well-spent, but I feel what I feel. I don't care for PDFs and I don't care for micro-supplements, and as good as this stuff was (and it's top-tier work, highly recommended if you don't have my hang-ups), I'm just too set in my ways.

I feel like an ungrateful oaf for saying that, because I was very generously given these documents for free, so let me shamelessly shill for a moment - these tasty bits expand the Trinity Continuum, two for the core setting, one for Aberrant, and one for Aeon, and if you haven't experienced it yet, you should correct that immediately. They are smart, genre-savvy games with a fun, flexible system, satisfying power trees, and a beautiful presentation, and these tasty bits are right in line with that.

Now, let's break them down one by one.

Amalgamated Idea Dynamics

This might be the weakest of the four, but only because it's trying to do too much. It's a sci-fi corporation that sponsors a diverse team of superheroes and explores dimension-hopping technology. But sixteen pages is too few to really develop any of these threads, especially when eight of the pages are character sheets. Like, Dr Yuki Yanagi is a super-scientist who wants to be the first person to ever make contact with an alternate universe, but also she's statted like a a starting character and thus that's something of a long-range goal. There's not much sense of what she's going to need to get there, so mostly what she does is day-to-day benevolent comic book corporation activities - disaster relief, crime fighting, and inventing stuff. You can use her as a rival or a patron, but the main thing she brings to the table is the notion that interdimensional travel is possible. You've got to build pretty much an entire campaign from there.

The best use for this material that comes to mind is to steal liberally from the "Capers Incorporated" chapter of In Media Res. The novas included here would make an appealing set of preconstructs for a higher-powered version of that adventure, one that focused more on the interdimensional conflict than the stolen technology. Between the two, I sense the potential of an entire dimension-hopping supplement (or even full game-line . . . "Apostasis," maybe), but so far, all we've got is a start.

Ukss Contribution: It's a pretty charismatic crew, all told. I especially liked that Ginni "Firelight" Castigliano, a glowing green woman with pyrokinetic powers, got a hefty payday by acting as the spokesperson for the gas company. I'm not sure what that advertising campaign even is, but I'm picturing something charmingly cheesy.


This reminds me a lot of some of those 1st edition microsupplements, like Field Report: Psi Laws or Field Report: Media. It's more or less pure setting flavor. It technically adds a new mechanic (you know, owning a pet), but mostly it's just describing a little-considered aspect of 22nd culture. In addition to cats and dogs, you could own a robot or a psionic biotech monstrosity. It's all very interesting, even if it doesn't immediately suggest an adventure . . .

Actually, I can think of two. Both, ironically, were suggested by some of the supplement's incomplete thought. The first was inspired by the discussion of terrestrial pets on alien worlds: "Natural-born and gengineered animals from Earth are often restricted, or at least highly regulated, as they’re most easily prey to the alien conditions and organisms." It occurs to me is that this is a door that swings both ways. There are undoubtedly a huge number of Earth animals that would wreak absolute havoc on an alien ecosystem, some of which humans keep as pets.

So, idea the first is set on the human embassy Qinshu. Little Billy, the diplomat's son, has lost his pregnant cat, who has gotten loose into the planet's wilderness and is now threatening to cause an interstellar diplomatic incident by preying on any number of small biotech organisms.

My second idea comes from the revelation that alien pets are forbidden "for biosecurity reasons." Not discussed is the fact that wherever there's a restriction, there are criminals who seek to make a profit violating that restriction. There's definitely some adventure potential in the interstellar trade of exotic animals, both as criminal smugglers and as the Aeon task force assembled to stop them.

Maybe I'll make it a trilogy with my illegal Lunar garbage dumping adventure. That makes me laugh, getting the players hyped up to play futuristic superheroes and then sending them on a series of increasingly niche environmentalist missions.

Ukss Contribution: Biotech pets can be engineered with psionic powers. The desirability of such a thing in real life is debatable ("my cat can now knock things off the mantle from across the room"), but it is an amusing image.


This was probably my favorite of the four. It's a high concept pitch that fills in some gaps in the Continuum's timeline. Thanks to the game's special brand of  sci-fi nonsense, people can gain powers, becoming psychics, novas, and talents, but also sometimes animals and plants or entire places can become similarly "inspired." The same process can even effect inanimate objects, giving them strange and unusual powers.

What do you do about these potentially dangerous sources of moveable supernatural power? Maybe start a secret conspiracy to gather, catalogue, and study such items eventually storing them in a mysterious underground facility known only as "The Vault." Yes, it sounds a lot like Control or Warehouse 13, but the Inspiration Media sidebar has a simple explanation for that - it's an rpg supplement that's meant to evoke Control and Warehouse 13.

For only being 8 pages, it manages to cram in a lot of good campaign preparation, discussing Polyphemus' organization and major personnel, hinting at The Vault's occult secrets, and providing a thin justification for the building's 1960s decour. In a better world, this would be a whole book all on its own, but even so, it was pure fun from beginning to end.

Ukss Contribution: I really liked the flux-infused weapons and armor. Weapons and Armor in the Trinity Continuum are defined by tags, which give the items particular combat options. When a weapon is Flux infused, you pick a bunch of tags (up to 6 for a 3-point weapon) and and occasionally (once per session) swap them out based on your anticipated needs (using between 1 and 3 at a time, depending on the item's point value). Having a gradually shapeshifting weapon sounds pretty neat.

Les Fantômes

I had no worries about this one, and I was right to feel that way, because it was delightful. Les Fantômes were my favorite part of the Trinity Continuum Core and while Polyphemus may have recently supplanted them in my affections, they're still pretty great. What's not to love about a gang of high class burglars who exclusively target the ultra rich? There are any number of movies based on this exact premise, and they're almost always fun.

I will say that they are presented here as more altruistic than I had them pegged for in the core. They deliberately target corrupt rich people for vigilante justice, instead of simply ratting out people they were going to rob anyways. It probably works better for a protagonist organization, but I think I prefer them to be a little more roguish. Thieves with a code instead of vigilantes who steal, if that makes sense. However, you're still pulling elaborate heists, living the high life, and being in all ways impeccable, so it's kind of a narrow distinction.

This supplement also has the distinction of being the most useful, mechanically. The Dramatic Editing mechanic was built for heist reveals, and we get some discussion on how to make it work, along with a whole bunch of new stunts to represent the twists and turns of the genre. Its also general enough to be useful in most any Talent-based game, so I can thank it for expanding my understanding of what the game can do.

Ukss Contribution: There's a new Gift (Talent power) that lets you vanish like Batman. It's more of a mechanic than a setting thing, but since I already put the entire organization into Ukss, I'll just try and find a way of making it work.

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