My new campaign setting, Aeon, has proven to be quite interesting. The base idea of the setting is the question "What if superpowers became real one day?" It's not a particularly novel idea. But it became more (and I can't really discuss what I mean by this - because my players read this blog) the more I thought about that idea. Eventually, I tuned it from the macroscopic (looking at the world itself) down to something more manageable (a single city, New York City). All the while looking at the more common superhero tropes and either inverting or subverting them.
For example, New York City itself is always a place with more heroes than average - why? In Aeon there is a fully legit reason why this occurred (well two, but the other is secret for now): the Transatlantic Pulse (aka the TAP or just TAP) is thought to be the underlying reason why superpowers exist. It's more mundane effects was an EMP-like disturbance which knocked out nearly every power-grid on any area touching the Atlantic Ocean and (strangely) knocked out China's entire grid. This occurred late in the year 1999. By 2000 reports of superhuman abilities spontaneously manifesting began. After the Commander and the Combustible Man fought in lower Manhattan on 9/11 the world changed. Superhuman powers could no longer be denied. They were real. But again, why New York City? Because the TAP emitted an energy (in the campaign setting it's called "Kyberian Energy") that "blobbed" up and hit the city harder than other locations. Thus, lots of supers in NYC.
I did the same thing with the common trope that all supers seem to be...well ripped/goodlooking. But in a specific way. There is an offshoot of humanity in the setting, Homo sapiens surculus (more commonly called "Scions"), that are basically homo superior. They literally are better in the humans in just about all ways including their appearance which is pretty much described as "sexy" or "hunky." They also have an innate capability to posses multiple power aptitudes (in GURPS-terms, power talents, which are normally restricted to one for everyone but them). Who are these offshoots of humanity and where did they come from? Well, that's a mystery to be solved in game play.
I guess I'll talk some more about the setting itself when I get everything more firmly in place - which shouldn't be too long because the bloody player character booklet is around 17,000 words at the moment. I know, I know, you're thinking "Bloody hell and be damned, Christopher?! 17,000 words? Are you mad!?" Yes. A little, but really, when I build a setting I like to be able to reuse it if possible and in this case I'm very glad I did because at the moment I'm running two games in Aeon. The A-Team (name forthcoming) in my weekly face-to-face group and the B-Team in an online group every Monday at 7pm to 12pm. The players from both games have really stepped it up - I have full back histories, dossiers, and general personalities for everyone. I'm going to pause here for a second and let that sink in. I have ten players and eight of them have handed in several thousand words worth of character fluff. That's huge. That only adds to the worldbuilding aspect. It only makes things better. I've had some hurdles to be sure - but I continue to overcome them like I always do. And this time I've some help.
What's been more interesting is the interest that I've garnered from people not playing in the campaign. At the moment I've got at least two folks who are steadily making NPCs (with full dossiers/histories) for me to use as I like. There is also a discussion between one of my good online friends and I for creating an in-game publication - something I fully intend to do. If you follow my blog and you like doing this sort of stuff, contact me very email. I never intended this to be a shared setting, but a few extra pairs of eyes and brains never hurt and that's where it seems to be heading.
The A-Team are set at a minimum of 1,200 points and will be dealing with international/global threats on the beta IMAPS program as well as any major incidents in New York City. There will necessarily be some crossover with the B-Team.
- Xia Xing (L.A.): an ancient immortal Chinese sorceress who's over 2,000 years old with a god-like intellect and understanding of human psychology. Trapped in a myriad number of Hells (Chinese have a lot of Hells) she is a capable warrior who uses her prescience to quickly master any opponent she fights. Her husband is an equally immortal dragon who did everything in his power to help her escape the Hell she had been confined to.
- FINN "the human" (+Troy Loy): The Floral Intelligent Neural Network is a plant person that was accidentally created by a fly by night think tank who were trying to create a bioorganic computer. They succeeded, but their facilities were raided and everything was destroyed. Finn escaped by sending a seedling on the wind and wound up in a New York City school's co-opt garden. With the ability to control plants, emulate various plant functions, and (oddly) control computers he's an odd, but useful duck.
- Pulse (C.): A DJ with light and sound-based metahuman powers, Pulse has no "secret" identity and instead lives openly as a metahuman - something that's becoming rare with the rise of the Human Price Association. Pulse is powerful as far as metahumans go, but has a tendency to party and is a bit of a bon vivant.
- Jericho Stone (C. J.): An archeologist with control over earth and stone. Still waiting for my info on this guy from my brother.
(There's a possibility of one more player, but his work schedule may interfere. We'll see.)
The B-Team will be strictly New York City-based and part of the MAPS program dealing with hostile metahuman threats the police either cannot handle or would prefer not to handle.
- The Commander aka Ian Owari (+Douglas Cole): a Navy SEAL who gained his abilities via one of the first super-soldier programs. He's tough, strong, fast, and possess control over kinetic energy. He also has an advanced power suit (something worn like clothing or armor - not a Tony Stark battlesuit) that enhances his abilities.
- Arc Light II (C.): C. is also playing in my online campaign in the role of Arc Light a experiment with the ability to control electricity and wears a battlesuit he inherited from his uncle and mentor, Zevulun Damini. Arc Light is compassionate, considerate, logical, and looking to make a difference (and to make up for his past). He's got ties to the NYC underworld. He's tempered his passion for technological advancement with something most inventors don't have: a look at the big picture. His inventions have the capacity to change the world - he just wants to make sure it's a change for the better.
- Zephyr aka Murui Ao (GodbeastX): Zephyr is an albino - but he's also a martial artist with mastery of Shaolin Kung Fu taught to him by his mother. While he has some minor chi powers he's nominally a metahuman speedster. He doesn't have full control over his abilities, but he does make good use of them. With the ability to go over 230 mph he's faster than just about any vehicle in the city.
- The Rat Queen aka Pontikia Paroni (Emily "Bruno" Smirl): Probably one of the most interesting characters so far, The Rat Queen controls rodents, but more than that she can turn into them (including a swarm form that sends musophobes into screaming fits) as well as a giant 20 foot tall "rat ogre" form where she gains tremendous strength. Backed by Xanthus Nicolaides, she's somewhat of a "privately" funded hero.
- Eamon Finnegan (Kyle Norton): A metahuman rights activist (and activist in general), psychologist, and lawyer, Eamon is a Scion who comes from a long line of them. Raised to use - not abuse - his powers he was locked in prisoner for several years as the legal system had to deal with the sudden influx of metahuman abilities. Eamon is a staunch foe of the HPA and is working to get them branded a hate group. Eamon has control over both gravity and density making him one of the more power metahumans in New York City.
Picking Over the Bones (C-Team and Beyond...)
Multiple online games, one-shots at FLGS, and similiar venues have cropped up while I've been talking to people. If A and B run okay then I'll probably run a C-Team on a bi-weekly basis. If that's okay, then I might do a D-Team on a monthly basis, and so on. Like the other online games it would only be 4-6 hours, but the sheer thought of having a multitude of players and characters that could crossover with one another...it fires the imagination. We'll see how the first two go. Really, I guess that's all I got at the moment, still sorting through some questions. Is there anything that you, the readers, would like to see answered about Aeon? Any burning questions? Something I may have forgotten?