Wednesday, April 16, 2014

NO:LA Nightwatch: A Supers Campaign Seed (Part Four)

More pre-campaign bits and pieces I distributed to the players. Some of these elements are reworkings from other sources. IIRC Terror Firma comes from a suggestion in a Heroes Unlimited book; there's another version of that concept which appeared a couple of years after I did this in Squadron UKYou can find the first post and more explanation here. The history of the Second Sunder War is here.

Japan has a significant split between the two sides of its superhero population. On the one hand it possesses a large and colorful segment of what have been called "Paracelebrities" in the U.S. They draw from across the range of powers from the unstoppable might of the Solar Commando to the less intense abilities of Second Guesser. Many have their own TV programs—reality or otherwise—with more emphasis placed on likeability of their persona's rather than actual powers. In fact, the most popular hero today is Super Taster, whose ability to discern flavors and identify substances has captured the public imagination, despite its decidedly now flashy and non-visual nature. However his careful choice of appearances, his go-to attitude and his recent victory on Ninja Warrior have made him near and dear to many. It is worth noting that Japan has a significant influx of paranormals from around the globe, hoping to make their mark in this lucrative sector. The situation has become somewhat problematic and Japan has recently moved to limit such travel.

The other side of the superhero population in Japan might be called a form of superhero elite. These supers have been recruited by the semi-nationalized zaibatsu, Asaka Concepts, to serve as agents of the government, security handlers, rescue experts and criminal investigation adjuncts. The government heavily monitors press and publicity for members of the Asaka zaibatsu, and is fairly liberal in its use of security restraint orders to prevent negative publicity. Asaka supers never make press appearances except in a carefully controlled situation. Still there exists a large underground network of gossip and fan-fiction dealing with them. To the public at large, these heroes are stoic representatives of the national identity, almost serving as a parallel imperial house in the minds of some.

Having been struck by natural disasters, government corruption, incessant warfare, and environmental damage, many worry about a recent new threat which seems to have struck the continent. Less than a year ago, a government patrol chasing down insurgents in Zaire came across a swath of land vastly different and alien. They reported back to HQ and then went in to explore. They were never heard from again. Several follow up patrols also apparently met a similar fate. At the time a few outsider observers were able to survey the area from a distance. They said the land seemed to have drastically changed vegetation and that there appeared to be movement of animals within the area. Visibility was reduced by something akin to a heat shimmer effect that may have been a property of the temperature or something else. Government Officials soon restricted the area and seized recordings and data from scientists before forcing them out of the country.

In the months that followed, satellites could track the progress of the area, now known popularly as Terror Firma, as it grew in size. Now it encompasses an area many miles across—and significantly spread into a local village. A government blackout within Zaire has kept reports sketchy, but there is some suggestion that the army quarantined the whole of the region forcing people to remain within the village even as the Terror Firma grew. Senior leaders within Zaire apparently believe that this lush development could be key to progress and growth—either through industrial development or perhaps through weaponization. Thus they have been loath to permit any outsiders to study the area. Rumor has it that some western nations have managed to gain samples through backdoor samples and are analyzing the data.

Given a dearth of information, currently scientists can only speculate about the source of Terror Firma. Some fear it may be an alien invasion in the form of a terraforming attack, others believe it some kind of sentiment ecological disaster, some think it might be some kind of magical attack or elemental, and others believe it is some kind of super villain lair. Regardless the situation has become more pressing following the discovery last month of two new and independent areas of Terror Firma in Sudan and Mali.

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union many outside observers expressed concern about the safeguarding and decommissioning of the great nuclear arsenal. Less thought was given to the large numbers of superhumans recruited and trained by the government over the course of many years. Over the next two decades, most former Soviet supers ended up in one of two camps. A good number emigrated to the West or other portions of the developing world where their talents could bring them fame and wealth. Most of the rest remained and began to take up strongman positions if their powers supported it or else joined with one of the Russian crime syndicates or corrupt industrial groups. Battles between superhumans tied to one faction or another became commonplace, adding to the already deadly mundane violence between criminals.

However, some Russian supers remained who loved their homeland and refused to bow down to the corruption around them. They took up classic superhero roles-- fighting crime and battling for justice. In this they found little support from the government or the elite who saw them as roadblocks to gathering wealth and power. When several supers tried to stop a turf war involving persons tied closely to the powerful of the Kremlin, they found themselves arrested and denounced. The few remaining idealistic supers found themselves in a difficult position. Chief among them was The Guardsman,a hero who had been given his mantle from his father, and his father before him. He gathered together a group of loyalists and made a desperate move. In lightning succession he assassinated Putin, the Prime Minister, and a score of other publicly corrupt officials. Within hours battles broke out between Guardman's forces and various other rogue supers. However, lacking any unity these criminals soon found themselves overwhelmed. The Guardsman declared new elections and established himself and his chief allies as the self-appointed guards against corruption, cronyism, and treachery.

Reaction from the world community was swift and negative. Threats were made but never carried out. There was some talk of establishing a Russian government in exile or of assembling an international brigade of supers to stop the Guardsman. Russia found itself without veto power or an official representative in the UN for several months. However, eventually the UN and others found themselves forced to certify the elections which followed. Though other matters, such as Sunder's invasion, have distracted from the situation, many world leaders view the "Russian Problem" with grave concern.