Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Second Wave: The Supers News Cycle

A couple of weeks ago I posted the Microscope timeline my players created for our new M&M 3e campaign. They went darker than I expected and I've been thinking about how to handle that. The game's a pastiche: using and riffing on existing superhero properties. I don't usually do that, so I've bought in fully (i.e kitchen sink-ing it). You'll see lots of classic references; that's the kind of thing which would make me roll my eyes in other peoples' session reports. 

We've done a character creation session plus two actual play sessions. We're using Roll20 and I recorded those (Session 1 and Session 2). I want to get a few more nights under my belt before I write up my impressions of 3e vs. 2e.

For the previous campaign (First Wave) I did a lot of world building: NPCs, organizations, and news reports. Since we have all the material of that 50+ session campaign to draw on, I want to do less of that this time. I still like news reports so I wrote up a few items for this week. The setting's a gritty at the outset; I hope the players will make a difference over time. They integrated analogues for real world issues I want to handle carefully (immigration and refugees for example). We haven't played that long, so I'm still trying to get a feel for the team.

News for Session Three (8/17/16)
NEW FIRST WAVE: In a short news conference held at the White House Secure Site, President von Doom announced the re-formation of First Wave, quickly dubbed “Ultimate First Wave” in online comments. The veteran superhero team has been missing for eight weeks.

“As you know, I worked closely with Vice-President Frieze, founder of First Wave. He saw the importance of his team as a symbol of American hope. Victor realized they served a vital role in the current war effort against the Neo-Soviet metahuman empire. He prepared a contingency plan: a carefully recruited replacement team should anything happen to them.”

The new roster includes Meteorite, Steel Patriot, Yes Man, Thundra, and Nocturne. New team leader The Black Knight spoke briefly to reporters “I worked with First Wave and was honored when VP Frieze first spoke to me about this plan. I only hope I can live up to their legacy.” He indicated that the new First Wave would be headquartered closer to the capitol and work closely with federal authorities to prevent Neo-Soviet metahuman infiltration and aggression in the US.

ATLANTA OUTBREAK: The CDC confirmed today that the closure and quarantine of major sections of Atlanta would have to be expanded. Aided by the National Guard, CDC agents and medical volunteers have been processing victims and attempting to deal with what has been dubbed Helstromm Syndrome. So far the outbreak of this new virus has resulted in 92 deaths and 312 comatose victims. The government has been carefully tracking travel and possible outbreaks in other regions of the country, but have reported no other incidents outside Georgia.

While the CDC and the Army Medical Corps have ruled out a bioterrorist attack, they have refused further comment. However a series of internal emails leaked by Anonymous confirms ongoing rumors surrounding the incident. In the emails, authorities claim to have traced the disease to a set of dimensional refugees smuggled out of New York City. This has added fuel to the fears of anti-“Dimmie” cohorts. So far all involved agencies have refused to confirm the report.

HONG KONG AFLAME: Explosions rocked Hong Kong for a third night as Chinese officials continued their “containments” following the one year anniversary of the Iron Tiger Crackdowns. Those operation targeted metahumans throughout the countryside last year. At the same time Chinese agencies have moved to high alert following the revelation of Neo-Soviet operatives throughout the region. As a result tensions have escalated between the two superpowers. In particular activities in Mongolia and former Tibet have drawn attention and ire in the highest circles. The remaining Soviet delegation in the United Nations has met formal protests with non-responses and mechanical vetoes. Some experts fear the global economy could degrade even further if open hostilities break out between the two. Others suggest such a conflict might ease pressure on the US, Europe, and the remaining non-Soviet occupied Middle Eastern states.

RAGNAROK IRAQ: Observers emerging from the Iraqi devastation zones have reported a wasteland, now lost to "monsters and mythic beasts." A Neo-Soviet paranormal event created the areas a few months ago. “It is clear that the blood and fluids of the 'Ragnarok Serpent' has acted as a powerful mutagen, transforming both the trapped citizenry and local ecosystem into something dangerous, toxic, and inhuman.” Doctor Patricia Mnoyoko confirmed reports that the Ragnarok Zone has continued to expand, moving further into Turkey and creating even larger waves of Kurdish refugees. Other recent reports have acknowledged Ragnarok beast attacks on shipping and aircraft in the area.

LUTHOR SPEAKS: On Good Morning America, Lex Luthor finally spoke about the thwarted attack against him last week. Unknown metahumans ambushed the industrialist and accused Cabal mastermind as he toured sites in NYC scheduled for renovation. Unidentified supers stopped the attack, leaving behind a tag associated with pro-Cabal sentiments. “I’m a businessman and a visionary.” Luthor said in the one-on-one interview. “Yes, I was part of a group of like-minded thinkers and scientists who operated behind the scenes for many years. But I was also the victim of an unprecedented terrorist attack which kidnapped a whole generation of philanthropists and experts.”

Later he spoke more directly about the Cabal’s effects, “We helped to keep the world safe and stable. Look around today, with metahuman superwars and parahuman shape-changing dimensional refugees. Do you feel safer now?” On the subject of First Wave he spoke only briefly. “I’ve had disagreements with members of First Wave, but I have to thank them. It was only due to their intervention that I was rescued from the so-called 'Phantom Zone.' Mister Miracle clearly believed we had been unjustly imprisoned, so I leave that to your viewers’ consideration.”

NYC MAYORAL RACE: The latest polls of NYC voters show incumbent Richard Grayson falling behind Wilson Fisk in the upcoming mayoral election. Grayson has come under increasing pressure to tighten restrictions on metahuman citizens and dimensional refugees. Additionally clashes between local SATF agents handling super-powered cases and federal S.W.O.R.D. officers have brought Grayson’s moderate policies under increasing scrutiny. On Friday he finally moved to shift the combined Raft/Ellis Island containment facilities over to federal authority. meanwhile Fisk has continued to focus his campaign on rebuilding and stability, appealing to local business-owners. He pointed to the dangers and destruction which have accompanied the rise of metahumans within new York. In a recent speech he alluded to the rise of metahuman gangs, made up of Dimmie refugees seizing control of criminal operations in many sections of the city. Many have accused Fisk of using “dog-whistle” politics with his “New York for New Yorkers” campaign slogan.