Tales of a Dark City
Novas are the quintessential Abnormal type. In the public consciousness, Novas are the first beings brought to mind when the term “Abnormal” is used. Most Novas possess powers that are clearly above normal human capabilities, and some have powers that are flatly impossible by known scientific laws (though this gap is closing as Nova powers are studied). Novas are able to perform these feats because during some sort of “peak moment” (anything from a feeling of joy or fear to an extreme sense of Zen-like calm) a latent series of introns in the person’s genetic code “switches on,” transcribing into active DNA and producing a hormone which triggers the rapid growth of a Mazarin-Rashoud Node in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This “node” somehow allows the Nova to manipulate the quantum forces of the universe . This process is usually referred to as an “Eruption.”
Generally, Eruptions only occur during intense emotional situations. The vast majority of Novas erupted during some sort of threat to their life, and the powers they gain generally conform to the sorts of powers that would allow them to survive the situation. An individual’s state of mind during an Eruption often has a significant impact on the type of abilities developed and their power level, as do various psychological factors not necessarily related to the immediate events. Nova powers also tend to have the strangest drawbacks.
Historical: When The Shadow Weave happened and humans suddenly became superhuman, the term “Homo sapiens novus” started gaining circulation in scientific circles. The exact origin of the term is uncertain. The term Nova in reference to these “new humans” is attributed to a New York Times article in December of 2003.
Other Terms: As the oldest Abnormal type, those known as Novas are also called Parahumans, Sparks, Flares, Breakouts, and other terms referencing the sudden transformation. The term Paragon is gaining circulation among certain religious circles.
A Flare or Spark often refers to someone who has a node that, for whatever reason, doesn’t “open” fully. They gain powers for a short time, and then their Node fails. Flares are most common among those who have used genetic engineering to attempt to splice the Nova Intron sequence into their DNA, as well as among those who have gained powers through exposure to Avatar Energy. It’s possible for a Flare to “reignite” their powers (Carrion Queen being one example) but it’s usually a difficult process and not guaranteed to stabilize the Node permanently.
A Ninja Nova is a Nova whose abilities aren’t immediately obvious as superhuman. They have exceptional talents or abilities, but not past the point of human potential. There is a very fine line between a Ninja Nova and a Savant, so fine, in fact, that it’s unclear exactly where it lies, except that one has a Node and the other doesn’t. The Witness has charisma and quiet confidence enough to convince anyone to do just about anything, but her touch is so subtle that it’s almost impossible to tell if she is using a power on someone or she’s just incredibly persuasive.
Game Mechanics: Novas are the quintessential superhuman. When someone pictures some combination of accident and misfortune granting someone powers, or someone’s hidden mutant potential suddenly expressing itself, it’s likely the character is a Nova. Therefore, Novas have the widest array of possibly abilities. They are likely to be physical in nature, either with greater-than-human attributes, directed energy, or psychic powers. Novas and Augments are the most likely to have gross physical changes, and Novas in particular are known to have drawbacks directly related to their powers (weaknesses, allergies, power negations, and the like).