by Nicholas HM Caldwell
has been recently published by White Wolf in a 320-page softcover volume
"at an introductory low price", and so in a fit of curiosity, I purchased
a copy to investigate further. Now White Wolf is more usually associated
with role-playing games of angst and horror, such as Vampire
set in the World of Darkness. Trinity,
however, proclaims itself to be "Epic Science Fiction Roleplaying", and
it is in spades.
book is divided into two roughly equal halves, the first half describing
the universe at the player-level and the second half detailing the rules.
Oddly, the universe material has all the color artwork, some of it stunning,
leaving the rules in black and white, if you will pardon the pun.
Trinity universe opens in the year 2120. Between now and that distant
hopeful year, human history has seen the rise and exile of the Aberrants,
the Crash and its recovery, the return of the Aberrants and the emergence
of the psionic orders, and the first contacts with friendly and hostile
Aberrants appear in the twentieth century but only grew numerous in the
first half of the twenty-first century. Able to manipulate the physical
world at the quantum level, their powers become tainted and they become
monstrous destroyers. After a devastating war, the Aberrants are forced
into exile. Earth suffers a worldwide depression lasting a decade. Eventually,
recovery begins in 2070 and humanity returns in force to space. In 2104,
the Aberrants return to human space attacking the base on the asteroid
Vesta. Two years later, the eight psionic orders led by their "proxies"
appear to combat the Aberrant threat. Unlike the Aberrants, the psionic
powers operate at the subquantum level. Using the teleportation powers,
humanity seeds a few colonies in deep space and meets its first alien
race. One of the psionic orders is revealed to be in alliance with the
Aberrants and is destroyed, the teleporters disappear into the unknown.
The remaining orders integrate themselves into human society and become
its defenders. Aeon Trinity serves to unite the orders against the threat
of the Aberrants and hostile aliens.
geopolitical situation on Earth is very different from our own. North
America (including Canada and Mexico) is now ruled by the Federated States
of America, with the corporations and the military in control. South America's
governments are manipulated by the kingpins of crime. Europe is in ruins,
following the Aberrant-induced crash of a huge space station into the
heart of France. Africa has unified itself as the United African Nations.
Asia is dominated by China, which is the leading space superpower. Australia
is the new refuge for the common man and woman.
background for Trinity
is detailed, self-consistent, and ripe with possibilities for epic adventuring.
There are obvious threats in the form of the Aberrants, and more subtle
dangers in the mostly covert conflicts of interest among the nations,
the megacorporations, criminal organizations and psionic orders. The Aberrants
provide the opportunity for straightforward good versus evil stories;
the intricacies of the new world order provide the opportunities for a
broader spectrum of stories. This is not a cyberpunk dystopia where survival
is the only concern. There is real hope in this universe.
second half of the book is the rules system. Unusual for role-playing
games but not for White Wolf, there are some brief notes on live action
role-playing. Very brief as Trinity
is designed for table top gaming.
principal game mechanic is the "dice pool". To resolve an action, roll
as many ten-sided dice according to the rating of the trait involved (a
characteristic, a skill, or a combination of these). Every die that comes
up with a 7, 8, 9, or 10 is counted as a success. Get sufficient successes
and the action is successful. A botch (or really bad failure) occurs if
no successes are rolled and at least one die comes up with a 1. In a neat
move, actions get harder for every consecutive failure owing to the frustration
factor. This dice pool variation is easier and faster to run than the
others I've encountered.
creation is as much about the origins, driving motivation, personality
and allegiances of a character as it is about the mechanics of getting
the numbers onto paper. Players must first design the character concept,
choosing a psionic aptitude and a "Nature". The latter sums up the character's
approach to the universe, e.g. analyst, critic, follower, martyr, visionary,
etc. Playing to this approach is important as it is the major way to regain
Willpower, a secondary characteristic which functions as psionic resistance,
resistance to instinctual responses (such as fear or horror), and low-powered
"fate points". Next come the selection of Attributes (physical, mental,
and social characteristics such as strength, perception, charisma, etc.)
and the choosing of Qualities (innate talents associated with high attributes).
The third step is to select Abilities (skills) with the primary allegiance
of the character biasing the direction of these purchases. The final steps
involve selecting Advantages (which includes special backgrounds and psionic
powers) and spending a set of bonus points to round off the character.
terribly unusual about the process, just another variation on the points-based
approach to character creation. The juicy parts of character creation
are choosing the psionic powers. There are six available Aptitudes - Biokinesis
(the power of shapeshifting and body morphing), Clairsentience (the power
to extend one's senses), Electrokinesis (the power to manipulate the electromagnetic
spectrum), Psychokinesis (the power to manipulate matter), Telepathy (
the power to read minds), and Vitakinesis (the power to heal and to harm).
Each Aptitude has three modes, so Psychokinesis includes the modes of
Cryokinesis (ability to cool molecules down), Pyrokinesis (ability to
heat molecules), and Telekinesis (the ability to move matter). Each mode
in turn has five powers, each of increasing potency. Including the basic
techniques of each Aptitude, there are ninety-six psionic powers available
in the game, some obvious, some not. All are interesting and well described.
Characters can only choose one Aptitude, and the number of points available
to starting characters to select psionic powers is deliberately low so
characters won't immediately be able to scan a star system for habitable
worlds, change their entire body structure, control plasma, or kill by
a single thought. Choose wisely!
uses the dice pool mechanic extensively. Multiple actions are the norm
as characters will want to attack and actively defend against their foes
in the same turn. The first action's dice pool is reduced by the number
of actions to be attempted, and each further action's dice pool is also
reduced. Hence the more actions attempted, the more unlikely it is for
any or all of them to succeed. Assuming a character gets hit, either Bashing
or Lethal damage will be inflicted. The human frame can withstand or "soak"
a certain amount of Bashing damage, armour or psionic powers are needed
to "soak" Lethal damage. This has the net effect of reducing the dice
pool used to determine actual wounds. To inflict an actual wound, a "success"
must still be rolled on the Damage dice pool. Characters have nine Health
Levels with bashing and lethal wounds causing the overall health of the
character to decline from full health via Bruised and Injured to Incapacitated
and Dead. Take care!
comes in two flavors, hardtech and biotech. For greatest benefits, biotech
has to be formatted to its user. Naturally there are limits on how much
biotech can be safely used by any one character before a "tolerance overload"
occurs. Computers in Trinity
are essentially an evolution of what we have today. There aren't any artificial
intelligences, just sophisticated applications. Moreover, the global electronic
networks were comprehensively fried during the Aberrant War, so the "OpNet"
is a mass of isolated and highly paranoid nodes. The Avatar programs won't
be able to find any piece of information on demand so referees (or "storytellers")
are unlikely to lose whole plots to cunning hacks of the computer banks.
So while Trinity
is not a cyberpunk paradise of omnipresent computer networks or rampant
technology, there are more than enough futuristic devices from weapons,
tools and clothes all the way up to spaceships to keep things interesting.
final section of the book is reserved for Storyteller advice, including
how to choose the mood of the game, emphasize the conflicts that will
be relevant to the campaign, and how to organize a story arc from beginning
to finale. All sound and useful advice. Hidden after the glossary of universe
terms is a short section describing the "metaplot" of the Trinity
universe. The key plot elements and secret backstory are revealed with
pointers to the supplements which enlarge on the various threads. A very
welcome conclusion to the book amid a myriad of launch points into the
is an excellent science-fiction role-playing game with an exciting and
fully realized background. The rules are more than capable of handling
actions within the premises of the universe framework. The psionic abilities
are detailed and "plausible", and their number ensures that every character
will have unique abilities to contribute to an adventuring group. Trinity
isn't appropriate as a generic rules set for any science-fiction background
as the game system is fairly tightly bound to the needs of the Trinity
universe. If Trinity
excites you as a science-fictional setting, then take advantage of the
softcover edition to investigate it for yourself.
is published by White Wolf Publishing Inc. Their contact details are as
White Wolf Publishing Inc.
735 Park North Boulevard
Clarkston, GA 30021
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