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White Wolf, 318 pages

Additional Information
America Offline: Psi Order Orgotek and FSA Sourcebook
140 pages
By Bruce Baugh, Rob Heinsoo, and James Kiley
Cover art by David Seeley

Luna Rising: Psi Order ISRA and Luna Sourcebook
140 pages
By Robert Scott Martin, Jonathan Woodward, Judith A. McLaughlin, and Andrew Bates
Cover art by Rick Berry

Trinity Links
Trinity Errata
Trinity Character Sheet(pdf) 10.21.97
The Trinity Promo(html)10.23.97
An Interview with Developer Andrew Bates
Trinity Forums
Trinity Chat
Trinity Mailing List

Trinity Quick Start
Quick Start Parts 1-4

Trinity Core Rulebook Excerpts
The AEON Trinity -- Excerpt#1(pdf) 10.21.97
200 Year Timeline -- Excerpt#2(pdf) 10.22.97
Abberants -- Excerpt#3(pdf) 10.22.97
ALIENS:Qin -- Excerpt#4(pdf) 10.24.97
ALIENS: Chromatics -- Excerpt#5 10.24.97

A review by Don Bassingthwaite

Trinity is White Wolf's science fiction roleplaying game... Well, yes, you could describe Trinity that way. Just like you could say that Dragonlance is TSR's game about dragons. Trinity puts a distinct White Wolf spin on the future. This is science-fiction roleplaying with issues -- freedom, humanity, conspiracy, life on the edge.

Trinity, like the World of Darkness games, is based on White Wolf's Storyteller game system. Characters are built using points or dots allocated to abilities, attributes, and special powers -- points put into these areas determine how many dice (ten-sided are used in this system) you can roll when attempting actions of various kinds. I like the Storyteller system. It's fast, it's flexible, it's relatively simple, and it's character driven. The psionic powers that are a character's major special ability are a little limited by the system, but a good Storyteller should be able to work around that. New players will find this an easy game system to pick up.

But as usual with White Wolf, the star of the game isn't the system -- it's the setting.

The year is 2120. Earth has risen to incredible cultural and technological heights. And fallen hard. Pretty standard SF fare. But in Trinity the apocalypse that brought Earth crashing to its knees was a catastrophic war against a handful of superpowered mutants, the Aberrants -- now returning to Earth after 60 years' exile in deep space. Leading Earth's recovery is a formerly secret society, dedicated to the advancement of humanity and known as the Aeon Trinity. And accompanying the recovery of Earth is the emergence in humanity of fantastic psionic powers. These three things are the keys that set Trinity off from other science fiction game settings.

The player characters in Trinity are psions, humans whose psionic latency has been awakened. This isn't like playing a wizard or a warrior -- a character may be psionic, but he is also whatever he was before his powers were activated. He is also whatever he has become after. Psions generally belong to one of a number of orders depending on the nature of their psionic powers (telekinetics, for example, belong to the Legions; telepaths belong to the Ministry). They may or may not work directly for their order. They may belong to the Aeon Trinity -- or not. In terms of politics and allegiances, Trinity is a tangle of conspiracies and secret goals. In fact, although Trinity can be played with a variety of story flavours, the story that emerges most often in the gamebooks is conspiracy. Characters seem to fall into it. If you want to play some other kind of story, you're going to have to work at it.

The political and cultural setting of the Trinity world is somewhat typical near-future science fiction. Europe and North America have lost their supremacy -- North America is a fascist police state and Europe is a ruin (a space station fell on it five years in the game-past). Africa, South America, and Asia (specifically China and Australia) are the world superpowers now. Humanity has colonized Earth orbit and the Moon, and even spread to a few worlds beyond the solar system. Trinity isn't a game about interstellar travel though, nor is it cyberpunk. The OpNet (Earth's communications backbone) was shorted out during the Aberrant War, so communications are spotty and 'net access is more like today's sit-in-front-of-a-screen than cyberpunk's submerge-yourself-in-the-machine. Interstellar travel was only made possible by the use of psionic teleportation -- and since the psi order of teleporters disappeared about the same time that space station crashed into Europe, research into new means of faster-than-light travel are just beginning to bear fruit. The existence of the psi orders, the Aeon Trinity, and the massive threat of the Aberrants also creates levels of extranational organization that span the globe. The Trinity game designers have a done a great job of taking what might have been a stereotype setting and building really interesting extrapolations out of it. In fact, while the longest part of the basic game book may be the rules section at the back, the setting section takes the longest to read. There is an incredible amount of information there.

And believe it or not, the information presented in the basic game book barely scratches the surface of the Trinity world. If you're going to play Trinity, you'll want to invest in the accessories. They are worth it and will enhance your enjoyment of the game. Of particular note are the sourcebooks, each covering one of the psi orders and the geographic territory it associated with -- a double dose of setting information in each book. There are only a few source books available now: one, Luna Rising, covers psi order ISRA (the clairsentients), the Moon, and near space, while a second, America Offline, covers psi order Orgotek (the electrokinetics) and the Federated States of America (North America). Both books have a similar format: glossy colour pages present setting information on the psi order and the setting in the guise of report to Aeon Trinity operatives, while regular pages at the back present game stats and more objective information. The good thing about these books is that each psi order and each major region gets a fairly in-depth treatment. The bad thing is that it's going to take a long time to complete the set (and you know that your favourite region or psi order is probably going to be the last to get published).

Still, they will be worth waiting for, especially if they can live up to the quality of Luna Rising. This is a brilliantly evocative sourcebook, with all kinds of story hooks waiting for the clever Storyteller and lots of inspiration for players. The clairsentient order is well-described, as is the clairsentient point of view (when you can see all and know all, life is just a little different). Unfortunately, America Offline is somewhat disappointing. All of the same kind of information is there, along with a rather intensive discussion of the politics of the FSA -- although maybe a bit too much time is devoted to politics. For example, arcologies are a major feature of the Trinity North American landscape and yet there is no discussion of what life is like inside one of these behemoth city-structures. Cities and states are linked with past disasters but without details in what feels like name-dropping. More attention to that sort of detail would have made the sourcebook a real winner. (And on a personal note, why do American game designers always envision a future where the US invades/absorbs Canada but leaves Quebec a separate nation? At least Trinity has a terrorist Canadian resistance.)

Trinity is not a game to pick up if you're looking for a quick game on a Saturday afternoon. It is, however, a game to pick up if you're looking for something intellectually engaging with a rich setting and a lot of storytelling possibility. It's not light and it's going to take a little time to get into -- but it will be worth it.

Copyright © 1998 by Don Bassingthwaite

Don Bassingthwaite is the author of Such Pain (HarperPrism), Breathe Deeply (White Wolf), and Pomegranates Full and Fine (White Wolf), tie-in novels to White Wolf's World of Darkness role-playing games. He can't remember when he started reading science fiction, but has been gaming since high school (and, boy, is his dice arm tired!).

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