In a time when I find myself disenchanted with many of the directions
that tabletop RPGs have been taking in terms of production values, I
have found the White Wolf Updates for both Trinity and Aberrant a
breath of fresh air. The idea is simple: small, pamphlet-sized books
made on the cheap that detail areas of a game universe that otherwise
wouldn't get any play. With Exposé: ABERRANTS we see the very best
and worst of this production style.
Aberrants are novas (the ABERRANT version of a supernormal) who are
part of a conspiracy against Project Utopia, a seemingly civic-minded
group claiming to be dedicated to improving life for all humans.
Things are not as they seem, of course, and Exposé: ABERRANT wades
hip-deep into the central mystery of the entire ABERRANT metaplot.
So we have a 24-page book, of which the first 11 pages are flavor text.
Now, we all like flavor text on occasion...hell, some of us may have
even smoked the stuff in college. But nearly 45% of this book is
flavor text, which lends it the quality of an advertisement or news
magazine in the "Entertainment Tonight" style. I'd be incensed if
this was a $25 hardback, but in a $5 pamphlet it fits--except that
this critically injures efforts to describe who the Aberrants are as
Greg Stolze has an impossible task, and he does a reasonably good job
at it. The place he shines are the NPCs who populate the book--a man
with no subconscious, an ancient torch singer turned young again by her
eruption--but we never really get much of a feeling for the
organization. There simply isn't time in this thin book to cover the
topic assigned, and it certainly doesn't show how the Aberrants should
relate to other organizations in a day-to-day fashion.
White Wolf scored a hit with the Trinity pamphlet supplements, which
focused on psionic law, Oceania and other tertiary areas that could
use development. By shifting their focus in ABERRANT to doing Exposés
on major plot points and organizations, these pamphlets become a
must-have source of information that their small size can't fulfill.
Finally, a quibble: there are two pictures of Novas who are obviously
overweight (Renaissance Man and The Living Wreck) which the main
Aberrant rulebook goes to great pains to explain is impossible, as
Novas burn all their calories. I always thought this was a dumb idea,
but lets have some consistency, people--one or the other, please.
A fun read, but so light you can skim it at your local game
store and have done with it. This is material that should have seen
light as part of a larger sourcebook on conspiracies in ABERRANT.