The common theme of the Cosmic era is the ascendance of advanced technologies and the directly related to the decline in the value of human life. This isn't being explored as a Luddite technology is bad theme, but rather the irresponsible use of technologies that in many instances are beyond full human understanding.
Another theme is the struggle between purity and corruption. There is the purity of body that is countered with invasive cybernetics, bio-modifications, and even rewritten at the basic level through genetic manipulation. There is also the purity of the mind and soul counterbalanced against corruptions such as artificial brains, robot minds, artificial and viral intelligences, and the decay of thought in the realm of immersive stimulation. The question becomes what it human, and what no longer is.
Things not meant to be known is also a common theme that roots into the other themes. Arcanotechnology has it's roots in dimensional science, and each device created creates more questions than answers, and have unexpected side effects. Few people ponder the ultimate ramifications of machines that are even beyond the comprehension of the men and women who built them. This also applies to manipulating the genetic code and finding things buried inside our ancient history that we are not prepared to handle.
Manipulation and subservience: both are common issues, those in charge as often use disinformation, coercion, and other indirect techniques rather than direct tyranny to remain in control. While on the other hand, much of the populace displays to one degree or another a form of subservience to the manipulator. This is rooted in the causes of the Resource Wars, and the communism and socialism that prevailed in the Second Dark Age. Me first and physical materialism are seen as archaic concepts, and destructive as well.
What is real and what isn't? A major theme of the CogNet is that people live selfish, ultra-materialistic lives online, as these electronic possessions do not exist in the same realm of supply and demand as real world objects. No one on the CogNet is who they appear to be, and behind the shiny clean public service and mercantile gloss is the strange and surreal underbelly of the electronic world.
The first and biggest inspiration is CthulhuTech and it's amalgam of giant mecha anime and Lovecraft's Mythos. While I intend to not use that much from the CthulhuTech universe, it is the jumping off point.
Dimensional Engines - arcanotech devices that rip free energy from elsewhere
A-Pods - anti-gravity/levitation engines
Parapsychic System - a rule set/system for internal energy (chi) based supernatural abilities. By combining merits and flaws, and creating traditions, entire schools of parapsychic abilities can be created. Dice wise the systems don't change, but function of the power is radically changed. Martial artist Parapsychics combine somatic requirements and verbal requirements to active their power, while an altered state psion does functionally the same thing, can do the same thing without blinking an eye or making a sound.
Street Fighter franchise
Rather than drawing entirely on mecha and anime, I want to bring some of the fighting game feel from the console to pen and paper. The character designs are also inspirational and top notch. The Street Fighter wiki is a fun place to kill a hour, and has everything from organizations to the button smashing combos executed by each character. The themes of over the top abilities and backstories involving psychodrives and clones fits into the Cosmic Era setting.
Combo Based Combat System - by exploiting the somatic parapsychic powers (hyperstrength, super speed, hyperagility) the crazy moves are possible, and using the cascade system for splitting actions in a turn can create the flurry of combat, flying fists, elbows and all of that. This basic combo system can be used for any combat system that emphasizes speed and rapid moves.
Power Attacks and Ultimate Combos - power moves that combine parapsychic elemental powers (pyrokinesis, telekinesis) to create the ranged attacks, fireballs, and other crazy moves that only exist in video games.
Shadaloo - the name is terrible, but an over the top shadowy criminal organization that is based out of SE asia. The ACPS, and PRC have their hands full dealing with the maniacs from the Shadaloo syndicates who ranged from cutting edge technology labs to gritty street level racketeering and mugging. The organization differs as the inner circles and upper levels all have some sort of enhanced parapsychic martial arts, physical enhancements, and the like.
Delta Red - A good basis for a Cosmic Era INTERPOL
Mortal Kombat Franchise
Thus far much of the material is western centric and deals mostly with the Atlantic Federation, which is not the only super bloc. The Mortal Kombat franchise brings in the bloody combat, killing, and a war between dimensions. Maybe that power that is being produced from nowhere is being sucked out of Outworld or Edenia, and the natives are pissed?
Fatalities and Brutalities - power attacks based out of the MK franchise. Rather than dealing bludgeoning damage, or structural damage, these attacks are meant to kill. In addition to the costs associated with using parapsychic abilities many of these killing moves require a sanity or willpower cost. Its one thing to throw a dozen kicks in a round, it's another to manually remove someone's spine.
Outworld and Edenia - names for alternate dimensional membranes. Blights occur when two or more membranes overlap. Outworld appears as a hellish desert landscape, volcanic and tortured, while Edenia looks like a ravaged paradise. Both are largely unpopulated.
Tarkatans, Shokan, Reptilians - alternate dimensional beings
Tekunnin - the organization of cyberninjas. A sect of criminal ninjas who have adopted technology to replace parapsychic abilities. Based in Japan, these ninja range from hand to hand assassins to online terrorists
Lin Kuei - the traditional order of ninja, the Lin Kuei have ancient records and teachings that allow them to quickly master parapsychic martial arts when the abilities appear. Lin Kuei elemental ninja are powerful and dangerous, leaving a trail of dead bodies in their wake.
While not a major influence in terms of style or characters, many of whom are ultimately forgettable, the core story of the Mishima Zaibatsu dealing with fighting tournaments, cyborgs and robots, and the twin interests in the Devil Gene and Ogre make for interesting inspiration.
The Devil Gene - creating monstrous human shape shifters who gain demonic appearances and inhuman abilities such as wings, poison glands, claws and the like.The gene is manipulable and can be forced to emerge but is also elusive and can miss generations.
Ogre - an ancient god like being of unstoppable power, but can be harvested for genetic material. Nothing like having an ancient bio weapon that can be captured and harvested for genetic material to create super soldiers and other over the top projects.
Brian Fury - part robot, part corpse, snake pants and evil as shit. This is what happens when a man becomes too much machine and not enough man.
Final Fantasy 7
FF7 is cyberpunk with a heavy magic angle, Midgar is an arcology, Junon can be argued to be the same. The themes of tech versus nature aren't new, but it was pretty impressive when the game came out. The main influences are based not so much in the system, but in the setting. Limit Breaks can easily break down into the basic Power Moves/Limit Breaks/Fatalities systems listed above. Jenova = Lovecraftian cosmic horror, Shinra = megacorp, etc
The SOLDIER program, oversize infantry weapons, MAKO augmentation, PTSD, Cloud is the poster child for Augmented Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Tifa is a fast agile Street Fighter style combo fighter.
Cyborg warrior with a gatling gun for an arm, a bad attitude, and a bone to pick with the damn Shinra.
Not all cosmic horrors are going to be dripping with acidic slime and masses of tentacles, sometimes they look like tough flower girls. Sephiroth really did the world a favor, aside from all that Jenova business.
Genetically modified creature much? Once artificial brains and genetic manipulation are normalized, its just a matter of time before someone with more money than common sense starts making human intelligence level animals.
Arcanotech engineer, A-Pod craft pilot
Genetically modified super soldier who turns into a were-shit monster like the Zoanoids/Dhohanoids