Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Bloodlines: A Supers Campaign Seed (Part Eight)

This series draws from supers campaign I put together ten years ago, "Bloodlines." That focused on inherited super-powers limited to certain bloodlines around the globe. You can see the first post here which lays out the general concept. You'll see a combination of new material and published ideas, primarily used to add color to the background. You might find some useful ideas for plots or how to present certain things. This is news I used for a sessions three and four. It can be a little rough since I haven't gone back to edit it. 

Sidebar: I used this material almost exactly ten years ago. Scroll down and look at the news from Session Four. Don't read it- just look at how much stuff there is there. We talk about over-preparing: that's over-preparing. That's crazy and way too long. I'm setting up tons of plot hooks and possible investigations, but did I need to write that all up? I don't think so. I could have conveyed the same info, evocation of setting, and player choices in a compact way. I didn't need to write up everything; a summary would have worked as well. Burying the players under info doesn't do anything for actual play. How much of that even came to the table in a game designed to play 8-10 sessions? Ideally I would have focused on maybe 5-6 stories and even those would be truncated: a story confirming their last session victory, one introducing a world detail, another adding a new hook, one moving the big plot forward (if I'm doing that), and a wild-card piece. But less, much less. I look at this and wonder how much time I spent on for-table prep as well? Jeez. Put your energy where it has an impact on the play


NEWS FROM SESSION THREE (11-4-04)
Dateline: Chicago: Local superhero group, The Untouchables foils scientist kidnapping plot. Following the apparent vanishing of a technical team from Wescosa Pharmaceuticals and Chemicals, the Untouchables discovered evidence of Anarch involvement. Reports suggest that the kidnappers used science-weapon to conceal the scientists before removing them from the building. The Untouchables managed to trace the criminal and caught them in the lair, dealing with them decisively in a brief melee which followed. Afterwards, they were able to free the victims and return them to their normal state. After the rescue Dr. Ernest Blacklaw commented, “When I first heard there’d be a new super-group in town I thought, “Oh Great” now there’ll be super fights at the Daley Plaza every week. However, now I’m convinced that they’re exactly what this city needs.” 

The Chicago Police Administration continues to decline comment on the team. Opinion polls taken this morning show 51% believe having a superhero team in the city is a good idea, 38% disagreed, and 11% were undecided. That’s up approximately 10% from the previous week. The poll has a margin of error of +/-5%. While the exact membership of the team is unknown, it is believed that one member may be Bolt, son of the noted Australian Hunter-Bloodlines, the Kangaroo. Bolt has not been seen in a year following his inauspicious debut with the Aussie superteam, The Huntsmen, which left him hospitalized. Additionally, some reports link apparent Syzmanski super, Shutdown, to the notorious Anarch Firstborn. Firstborn, who remains at large, began the Anarch group The Prometheans in the late ‘70’s and was involved in the final battle of the Storm Riders several years ago in which three heroes died. He is well-known as a Bloodliner supremacist.

Dateline: Athens: Greek Military and Police officials are on high alert tonight following a series of rampages by what appear to be Bloodline powered gangs. Apparently driven by the rising panic in Eastern Europe over the threat of a Pandemic Bird Flu outbreak, the groups attacked several sites, including poultry farms and zoos, killing hundreds, if not thousands of birds. European Union officials, as well as authorities in Turkey and Russia met hurriedly last night following the events. As the area for the flu spread has grown, unrest and panic has become the word of the day especially in poorer, outlying regions. Some fear the Greek action could spark more attacks throughout the area. In Asia where the Avian Flu apparently originated, a conference of Asian leaders, except for China, met to discuss the possible crisis. While less than a hundred human cases have been reported, doctors fear an outbreak in a densely populated area or city. “We are unprepared for this situation,” one doctor stated off the record. “We have perhaps ten thousand doses of Tamiflu in the Vietnam, but estimates suggest we will need at least a million to contain a serious outbreak.”

Dateline: Chicago: Police remain baffled by a bizarre phenomenon which stole a full day from an entire apartment block. Residents of the 2300 block of Westwood awoke yesterday, October 15th, believing it to be October 14th. A check by police confirmed that all 78 residents of the Carruthers Building apartment seem to have slept through twenty-four hours. At this time, the EPA has dispatched units to the scene to check for any chemicals or gases which may have created this effect. Most residents have been cleared from the building while local authorities assess the risk.

NEWS FROM SESSION FOUR (11-18-04)
Dateline: Chicago: In a double assault on crime, local superheroes, the Untouchables, netted two major successes yesterday. In a daring raid they broke into a facility being used as a major underworld contact and meeting point, netting over a dozen criminals and closing out nearly fifty outstanding warrants in the process. Many of these operatives have been identified with such notable anarch groups as Synistry, the Foundry, and Ravage. With that situation in hand, the team took on the potent anarch super villain team, the Mad Dogs. Originally based in the United Kingdom, the Mad Dogs made their way to the US for both greater opportunities and apparent political motives. The Untouchables, led by the Syzmanski super, Shutdown and short one member, managed to take out all seven of the Mad Dogs, with two managing their escape using their powers when their backs were up against the wall. 

The Mad Dogs have been notorious for managing to evade capture through teleportation, but the team managed to put a stop to that. Notable among those captured is Gargantuan, who is wanted for nearly a dozen killings in the UK, including the deaths of four security forces operatives and three notable Bloodliners. Contacted for a comment, Justice team leader Patriarch praised the efforts of this fledgling team. “In the aftermath of the Zero Moment, it is inspiring to see heroes step up to take the place of the fallen, especially in a place like Chicago.” Citing the good work of the Untouchables, Mayor Richard Dankin today appointed Lieutenant Solis Montoya to serve as city liaison with the team. “Though they are a private group of citizens acting on their recognizance, it is important that the city be informed of their activities. Detective Montoya will assist in that role.”

Dateline: Washington: The Supreme Court this week agreed to hear arguments in a case with wide-ranging implications for the Bloodliner community. Two years ago a West Virginia county issued an ordinance prohibiting the presence of Bloodliners within the county lines. A group representing the Syzmanski family quick brought suit against the county, charging that such measures were discriminatory and the rule was overturned. The issues might have remained there but a coalition conservative church groups as far right organizations appealed the decision. Their appeal rests on several issues: freedom of religion, where certain faiths believe the Bloodliners to be anathema; questions of public safety and privacy; and finally the US agreement with the Zurich Accord, the UN resolution which stated that Bloodliners were human and deserving of equal protection under the law. In this case they claim that such an international treaty has no force on the law of the land and lacking other measures in force, that Bloodliners cannot be considered to be human or have legal rights. Normally one might expect this case to be easily dismissed, but the appointment of two recent Constitutional literalists by the Bush administration has made that questionable.

Dateline: Chicago: Police have only just begun to confirm the events of yesterday evening which left four local SWAT officers dead and one missing. It is also believed, but not confirmed, that at least two advanced power suits belonging to the Chicago’s A-SWAT remain missing as well. A-SWAT Commander Karl Rody has not been seen since he walked into the Secure Storage facility near the Third Precinct and apparently shot and killed the desk guard. Details are scarce, but electronics across the building, including the security system went haywire, locking officers into their various departments. By the tehcnicans managed to restore power, Rody and two suits had vanished. At the same time a carefully coordinated series of attacks killed four of Rody’s colleagues across Chicago. The use of Anarch powers has been confirmed in at least two of those killings. Police have kept statements to a minimum but sources within the investigation indicate that the police believe the Anarch Crasher may be involved. Crasher, a member of Anarch group the Enforcers, managed to escape several weeks ago after being captured by the Untouchables. Attorney Gilbert Sorrentino, representing the remaining members of the Enforcers currently in custody, stated that such speculation was prejudicial and counter-productive.

Dateline: Hong Kong: Explosions, fires and tremors shook the city last night as a Bloodliner battle ripped through the heart of downtown. Early reports suggest that sometime after midnight a group of Chinese agents, suspected to be members of the alleged “Nursery” Bloodliner organization arrived to conduct an operation. It is now believed that they were set upon by members of the radical Bloodliner group, the Prometheans. Damage is estimated at the millions. Witness to the carnage indicate that at least four members of the Nursery were killed and another two captured by the Prometheans. Thus far, the Chinese government has not released a statement on the specifics of the incident, but has generally condemned it as an act of aggression by agents of the West. The Prometheans, said to be connected in part with certain elements of the infamous Anarch Firstborn’s activities have pursued their agenda of Bloodliner supremacy quietly over the last several years. A broadcast that jammed television and cable signals in the region is reputed to be from the leader of the Prometheans, the Ashen Knight. 

In his broadcast he indicates that the battle was a deliberate ambush by the Prometheans of the Chinese Agents. “No longer will we tolerate these activities. No longer will we allow the destiny of our Bloodlines to rest in the hands of monkeys. We are the new evolution and in any place where you attempt to hold us back we will come. If you chain us and perform experiments upon us we will destroy you. If you censure us or try to steal what you call “rights” from us we will bury you. If you try to interfere with the destiny of any and all Bloodliners, we will crush you beneath our heel. We will do this to the monkeys, who look on us in fear, and we will do this to any of our kind who ally themselves with governments or law enforcement agencies and cage our brethren. We reject the findings of the Zurich Accord, we are not human, we are your superiors.”

Dateline: Chicago: While Chicago celebrates the victory of the White Sox in the World series ominous clouds have begun to form on the horizon. New accusations have been brought by a former floor manager for the team concerning the use of illicit steroids. While random drug screenings over the course of the season have shown no problems, the informant believes he knows why. “There are people in Chicago who can get you anything you want…in this case, they were able to provide a number of the lead players with new kinds of steroid, bigger and better than before and most of all undetectable by normal testing methods. Last year a Senate investigating committee took a long, hard look at baseball, fining several players and teams, none of them affiliated with the White Sox. However FBI and FDA investigators are said to be taking a hard look at the situation, suggesting that the steroids, if they do exist, may be part of a broader operation. Beyond the accusations of steroid use, the insider has also named three players he believes are Bloodliners. Current regulations prohibit super-powered athletes from competing alongside professional players, except in exhibition events. While the team is calling the statements sour grapes, several sources inside the Baseball Commission suggest that the accusations have some basis. The names of the accused players have not yet been revealed.

Dateline: Oslo: After lengthy debate today Norway agreed to permit Prince Haakon Magnus to ascend the throne upon his father’s death, despite being a confirmed Bloodliner. A constitutional monarchy, the King of Norway has a hand in day-to-day governance and confirms the appointment of the Prime Minister from the Houses of Parliament. Prince Magnus developed his Drammen based powers when he was a teenager, believing to have gained them from his Mother, Queen Christina’s line. The debate had lasted for several weeks and had covered a wide range of issues. Primarily it centered on Norway’s existing legislation which heavily curtails the use of certain Bloodliner powers except in a professional capacity.

Dateline: Chicago: Brookfield Zoo suffered a major break in yesterday evening that left dozens of animal dead or injured and a number of dangerous animal missing. The Zoo remained closed today while investigators looked into the situation. The motive in the theft does not seem to be robbery, given that a number of rarer and more expensive animals were not removed from the site. According to police the thieves seem to have been targeting specific creatures, including some whose removal would have posed significant problems. Police are searching for the security team on site at the time. While they do not suspect their involvement, they are seriously concerned for the safety of the officers. One Park official, speaking under the condition of anonymity stated, “If you could see the damage that was done, you’d be worried too. Whoever did this brought other predators into the zoo and left them loose.” The Chicago Police and Parks Department plan to make a joint statement within the next forty-eight hours.

Dateline: Houston: The US Government, the US Air Force and NASA today issued a joint statement confirming recent internet rumors. Beginning with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request a little over a year ago, investigative reporter Ben Hecht uncovered a project to recruit Bloodliner supers with a set of very narrow and specific abilities. “It became clear they they had major funding and were targeting a specific group, those supers able to survive and work in incredibly hostile environments, namely, the vacuum of space.”In their conference the federal agencies confirmed the existence of the program, codenamed Solar Bastion. Kent Weems, interim director for NASA stated, “…the project has been underway for some time. There’s nothing clandestine about it. We’re trying to bring together resources to give these people an opportunity that is beyond most people’s imagination.” Asked about the apparent security, Weems stated that any concealment had purely been for strategic purposes considering that other groups and agencies might also want to recruit from this pool. No further details were forthcoming concerning the project and the number and names of those recruited remains unknown.

Dateline: Chicago: As oddly as it started, the widespread problem with some garage doors northern Illinois region had disappeared by Friday. An apparent powerful radio signal causing the problem stopped transmitting on Thursday afternoon. The DOD categorically denies that it had anything to do with it. The signal was being transmitted at 390 megahertz, a U.S. military frequency used by the Pentagon's new Land Mobile Radio System. The same frequency is used by garage doors openers, which started to malfunction around the area about almost a week ago. The world's biggest garage door manufacturer, the Chamberlain group, took the problem seriously enough to fly design engineer Rob Keller from Ottawa to its Chicago headquarters, with machinery to try to track the signal. But by the time he got here, the signal was gone. "Well, as you can see there, we're not picking up anything there, which is the way it's been since I got in last night," said Keller Friday. "But there must be something out there, so I'll keep on it the rest of the day." OSHA also sent its inspectors out with a sophisticated direction finder, says FCC Midwest spectrum manager John Baggio. "By the time they actually got out there to investigate the source, it had ceased to operate. So it's not possible to direction-find the source unless it's actually active," he said. And people, such as Judy Dougherty, suddenly found their doors, which had been jamming for 7 days, were working just fine Thursday. "Finally, [Thursday] night, ta-da, it worked. So there was no logical explanation. We said, 'Well that doesn't make sense.'"

Dateline: Midwest: The FBI’s Midwestern Gang Taskforce today issued a special warning to law enforcement officials across the area. Citing a rise in Level One Gang activity, they suggested departments take extra steps to monitor and control those groups on the FBI Watch list. Level One gangs are those with an organized hierarchy, previous strong connections to other crime groups, and/or a significant Anarch membership. Speaking at a press conference, Taskforce Director Stanley Clemmons stated, “Certain Anarch groups and their affiliated sub-organizations had strong ties to many of these gangs. The events of the Zero Moment have created a power vacuum in the region. A number of the independent Anarchs killed had been in positions of influence in these gangs. We believe that certain groups and/or individuals have been acting in an attempt to seize this power and use the gangs. Even without that movement, the absence of those forces has allowed these street level thugs to begin to act with impunity.” Pressed for further details, he declined to comment except to say that the shift had been notable among certain ethnic gangs.

Dateline: Chicago: Police are baffled by the apparent murder of Tate “Zapper” Morgan, longtime sidekick of the late hero Durandal and the one-time unofficial mascot of the superteam, the Sentrymen. Morgan was found shot to death in a midtown hotel where he had checked in under an assumed name. It is believed that his killer was interrupted in the process of disposing of the body by a group of revelers celebrating the White Sox victory in the World Series. Morgan, a one-time noted cameraman and photographer, had had a long career working alongside heroes. Rescued at a young age by the first incarnation of the Sentrymen, he made it his life’s work to chronicle their adventures. In the late 1980’s he was instrumental in the reformation of the Sentrymen after a hiatus of several years. In the late 1990’s he began to work closely with the rising superstar Durandal, following him to Seattle when he joined Vision. Durandal was among the most prominent supers killed in the Zero Moment several weeks ago. No motive in the killing has yet been uncovered.

Dateline: Midwest: Federal official announced that they had diverted and escorted a passenger flight following a reported terrorist threat. The United Airlines Flight traveling non-stop from Sioux Fall, SD to Chicago was intercepted mid-flight and ordered down to an Air Force base just outside Cedar Rapids, IA. Homeland Security operatives cleared the plane quickly and a team of experts began inspection. As of this time, passengers aboard the flight have not been released. According to one official, “it is necessary to make a full and complete background check on all passengers based on the information received.” Thus far no explosive or weapon has been reported, but information is minimal. Pressed for further details on the nature of the threat and the source of the information, officials declined to answer, stating simply that the “danger was imminent and the threat credible.”

Dateline: Washington, DC: Rep. Mary Pat Farnard (R, W-Va) introduced legislation today designed to regulate and curb the use and abuse of Bloodliner abilities. The Limitation Act for Super-Humans (LASH) would require all persons possessing powers to register, submit genetic material and enter federal custody should their powers prove to be a danger to the community at large. “Given the events of the Zero Moment, it has become increasingly clear that left to their own devices, Bloodliners are a conspicuous threat to normal humans. It is only a matter of time before something like this occurs in a populated area and thousands are killed.” While the ultra-conservative Farnard has little hope of seeing her bill passed, it has generated much discussion behind closed door. The issue of Bloodliner autonomy has raised hackles on both the far right, who see them as a potential national security risk, and the far left, who see them as enforcers and thugs. The LASH bill is scheduled to go to the floor of the House for discussion early next week.

Dateline: Chicago: Another explosion rocked an industrial park in West Chicago in what has come to be described as Anarch vandalism by Federal authorities. No one was injured in the blast but property damage is estimated in the hundred thousands. In other news police have begun to search for Jack Green of the 32nd Ward in Northern Chicago after his disappearance while walking his dog late yesterday evening. The Police have instituted a wide ranging hunt of the area which has been plagued in recent weeks with a string of apparent large animal attacks.

Dateline: Boston: In a shocking move to family, friends, and colleagues, the Department of Homeland Security refused to disclose the location of two scientists removed from a cancelled MIT research conference. Prof. Hildalo Seguer and Alfredo Leeman, both of Northwestern University have not been heard from in ten days. A DHS spokesman refused comment. “I cannot make any statements on this matter. I cannot confirm or deny that Drs Seguer and Leeman are in our custody.” A judge is scheduled to hear secret testimony from the DHS as to why discussions of the case and any evidence must remain secret. In Evanston, Federal authorities seized equipment and computers used by the scientists and their team.

Dateline: Aruba: Leopold Stavros, noted euro-Bloodliner and retired hero (formerly known as ExStasis) announced the opening of his new Bloodliner only nightclub and hotel, located on an island just offshore. Known as Club Paradigm, the facility will provide food, drinks and entertainment specially designed to appeal to superhumans. While normal humans will be permitted in as guests of members, “they might not enjoy themselves,” said Stavros. “We of the Bloodlines have special needs and enjoy mingling in the company who share the burden of these powers.” While there have been some local protests against the sale of the land to Stavros, Aruban officials point to the potential increase in tourist trade as well as the large sum paid by the wealthy Stavros.

Dateline: Tokyo: Interpol has begun issuing global warnings for consumers ordering black market or modded PS2 consoles in North America and Europe. An investigation has uncovered a conspiracy to plant a sophisticated subliminal program in those machines and a variety of other illegal or semi-legal electronics and software. Though the precise nature of the subliminal is unclear, Interpol Agents said it was tailored to affect younger and more impressionable players. Though not affiliated with the production of these products, Sony stock fell 13% on news of the warning issued. Investor fear that consumers will return products or avoid new purchases of Sony consoles in the Christmas Shopping season. RIAA chair Jack Valenti renewed his call for tougher enforcement and restriction of bootleg and black market products citing the warning as proof that “..their danger goes far beyond mere economic impact.

Dateline, Reno: Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman has suggested that those who deface freeways with graffiti should have their thumbs cut off on television. Goodman, appearing Wednesday on the "Nevada Newsmakers" television show, said, "In the old days in France, they had beheading of people who commit heinous crimes. "You know, we have a beautiful highway landscaping redevelopment in our downtown. We have desert tortoises and beautiful paintings of flora and fauna. These punks come along and deface it. "I'm saying maybe you put them on TV and cut off a thumb," the mayor added. "That may be the right thing to do." Goodman also suggested that whippings or canings should be brought back for children who get into trouble. "I also believe in a little bit of corporal punishment going back to the days of yore, where examples have to be shown," Goodman said. "I'm dead serious," said Goodman, adding, "Some of these (children) don't learn. You have got to teach them a lesson, and this is coming from a criminal defense lawyer." "They would get a trial first," he added. Another panelist on the show, Howard Rosenberg, a state university system regent, responded by saying that cutting off the thumbs of taggers won't solve the problem and Goodman should "use his head for something other than a hat rack."

Dateline: Chicago: Police responded to a disturbance call late yesterday in South Chicago. Arriving at Grover Cleveland High School they found the doors open and the school completely emptied of furniture and accessories. No witnesses have been found to how the theft was carried out. Police are searching for Nathan Horne, the nightwatchman on duty at the time.