The Cycle - A series of M&M settings

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hypervirtue
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The Cycle - A series of M&M settings

Postby hypervirtue » Tue Dec 31, 2013 9:35 am

The Cycle is a small project I am working on in my spare time.

Basically it boils down to a series of settings largely left ambiguous for GMs to use as they see fit. Basically it is a large "refined idea" pool that vaguely follows a specific over arching meta-plot.

The Cycle write ups focus mostly on the US, but do mention the other countries, and it follows a general world setting flow. So... Without further adieu:

-----

The Cycle: The Golden Age of Technology

The year is 2032 and the nations of Earth are currently in a state of peace. With the rise of superhumans and a series of fantastic technological leaps forward the planet's cities are now capped with towers of shiny glass and steel. Though darkness still lives, decay takes on new forms, and corruption never dies.

This is a world overcome with capitalism. Rampant deregulation and "too-big-to-jail" mega corporations have seized the hearts of almost every government on the planet. Elections are held as a formality, the candidates are chosen in shadowy back room deals by boards of directors. The rich and powerful can commit any crimes they wish and face almost no consequences, regardless of how heinous their actions.

The unions have failed, free speech has a corporate price tag, and those who dare to oppose the system are struck down either politically, or in many cases physically. Government safety net programs have been removed and unions have been crushed. The world is now a place of haves and have-nots, a world of peasants and nobles.

Government:
The governments on every major continents are all privately controlled by various mega-corporations. There are still multiple political parties but they tend to be little more than formalities. The major parties still need to pay for their election bids and the corporations are the groups that supply the money for them to do that.

It is not uncommon in this time for corporations to fund candidates from all "viable" parties equally. This helps to guarantee them a degree of control over that candidate. Those who play ball and do what the corporations want get to stay in their position and collect a healthy paycheck. Those who do not are assassinated... Politically or physically.

Several years ago the social safety-net system crashed due to the efforts of corporations. Intentionally sabotaging social programs and forcing them to the point of collapse. This eventually paved the way for the dissolution of federally funded programs, thus reducing the overall power of government considerably.

New Advantages

Benefit: Social Class
Social, Ranked
Player Characters are assumed to be in the lower class. This is the largest section of the population. Each rank of this benefit grants a +4 to diplomacy checks when speaking to any corporate or government official. This advantage can be taken up to 3 times, each time it raises a character's social class by 1. Total benefit from this advantage cannot exceed the power level limits for the game.

Class Chart:

Debtor Class
Lower Class
Middle Class
Upper Class
High Class

Law Enforcement:
Law Enforcement, the traditional state funded police departments, simply do not exist anymore. They have been turned over to private security firms. These private security firms act like insurance companies more than traditional police.

The system is simple:
A private citizen signs up for personal protection services. There are a number of different plans. These plans have been more or less standardized into the following:


Bronze -
Bronze plans cover imminent threat of life. They are known as catastrophic plans. These are the cheapest plans on the market and are offered privately or, for many, as a basic insurance offered from a workplace. A client is given a number that they may call if they feel there is an immediate threat to their life. This can include a home invasion, a stalking situation, or other event.

If a bronze plan holder is killed the Security Firm will launch an investigation (not lasting more than three weeks) into their death.

There is a penalty applied to the plan holder if they report a threat that is not considered life threatening.

The dispatch team for this are 2 Security Specialist Agents.

Silver -
Silver plans cover the threat of life and property. They are known as standard plans. These are the most common plans held by the middle class. Silver Coverage holders have a number that they may call if there is an immediate threat to their life, they also can call in the event of a robbery, or a discovered theft.

If a Silver plan holder is killed, or their property stolen, the Security Firm will launch an investigation (not lasting more than 8 weeks) into the crime.

The dispatch team for this are 2 Security Specialist Agents in the case of an after-the-fact crime, and up to 6 for a crime-in-progress.


Gold -
Gold plans are mostly held by the lower upper class. They are known as premium plans. They are designed to handle all of the situations that Silver plans cover however they feature something known as "Rapid Response" teams in the event that such is needed. Rapid Response teams are more heavily armed and more highly trained than standard Security Specialist Agents.

If a Gold plan holder is killed, or their property stolen, the Security Firm will launch an investigation (This investigation has an active period of 3 months, and is cycled into non-priority but active status for a period of up to 6 years.) into the crime.

A standard dispatch team is 4 Security Specialist Agents, however there is no upper limit depending on the situation. In cases of extreme need a group of 8 Rapid Response Specialists can be discharged.


Platinum -
Platinum plans are held by only those in the highest income brackets. They are known as corporate plans. They are designed to handle all of the situations that Gold Plans cover but have added perks. These perks include a team of Rapid Response Specialist agents that are always within the vicinity of the client as well as the fact that only Rapid Response Specialists and Veteran Security Agents respond to Platinum client needs.

If a Platinum plan holder is killed, or their property stolen, the Security Firm will launch an investigation. This investigation has an active period of 6 months, and for an additional monthly fee after that can be kept in active status indefinitely. (So long as payments are made of course.)

A standard Platinum dispatch team is 4 Veteran Security Specialist Agents and there is no upper limit, depending on the situation. In the cases of any threat to the plan holder 8 Rapid Response Specialists are discharged in addition to their "always available" pair of Rapid Response Specialists. There is no upper limit of Rapid Response Specialists that can be discharged to protect Platinum Plan holders.

New Advantage
Security Plan
General, Ranked

A character without this advantage has no Security Firm Contract. This advantage can be taken up to 3 times. Granting a Bronze, Silver, or Gold plan. Platinum plans are not suitable for player characters.


Crime Reporting:

Crimes can be reported to a free crime reporting office. If the perpetrator of the crime is captured by a sanctioned Law Enforcement Operative they can be held by the CRO until the suspect is sent to trial. These offices are run by the Federal Government but they do not actually prevent crimes. Their only role is to take custody of criminals and arrange trial dates. There is no fee for this service, it is funded as a gift to the people from the Consortium of Corporate Leaders.

In reality this is a way for Corporations to claim that they have reduced crime far better than the governments ever could. The truth is, unless someone has a Security Firm plan there will be nobody that looks into the crimes. The average person who doesn't have a plan, those who are poor, knows this. As such they usually don't report crimes anymore, which only serves to make it appear, on paper, that crime has gone down.

The almost sad reality is that the crime rate actually has gone down. Without the social safety nets in place (Welfare, Social Security, etc) there has been a tremendous loss of life. Those who were poor and on the fringes lost a lot, and this caused communal "Poor Towns" to open up. These "Poor Towns" ended up having to band together to protect themselves with the loss of the traditional police force. Initially this lead to large scale violent clashes, but eventually the population numbers evened out, as such some of the most crime free sections of cities are the "Poor Towns" simply because nobody has anything worth stealing over and the "Poor Justice" as it is called is known to be "Very Extreme."

New Advantage
Benefit: Legal Law Enforcement Operative
General

A character with this advantage can legally serve as a Law Enforcement Operative and Arrest Criminals to have them detained by the CRO and sent to trial.


Criminal Trials

Being found guilty of a crime has a standard penalty. A fee is charged to the guilty party. Generally this fee is higher depending on the social and financial class of the victim of the crime. Those who cannot pay this fee are incarcerated at a, "Social Rehabilitation Facility."

If the fee is paid then the penalty is marked on their record and subsequent crimes carry an additional fee as a penalty. A large fee, however, can be paid to have crimes stricken from the offender's record. This is very common among those of the higher classes who are found guilty of criminal behavior.


Social Rehabilitation Facilities

These places are the prison of the era. SRF's are not "happy places" they are corporate run facilities where criminals are sent as they work (for very low wages) to pay off their criminal debt. While in an SRF they are confined to the compound and are forced to do tasks that are considered dangerous to the rest of society. This can include tasks such as handling and storing radioactive materials, or participating in corporate medical experimentation.

SRF's take security very seriously and have an incredibly high mortality rate. Those incarcerated are considered, legally, to be minors under the custody of the corporation that runs the SRF. This was done for very specific reasons however once placed in the SRF they are granted the legal status of a minor, meaning for the duration of their incarceration:

Legally a person must attain the state of majority to vote, make a will, or hold public office. Minors do have the right to own and acquire property by sale, gift, or inheritance. Any property that is given to a minor as a beneficiary of a trust. In the trust situation, a trustee (usually the corporation) manages the trust assets for the minor until the minor no longer holds that status and thus the right of managing the property for herself or himself.

Legally the Corporation is given power of attorney over their charges. The minor in question is not permitted to enter into any legal contract without expressed consent from the corporation.

Minors have been deemed legally incapable of consenting to their own medical care or treatment. In general, the guardian (or in this case the corporation) has the authority to decide whether their minor will receive medical treatment and what kind of treatment they will authorize.

Inmates are often called by the short hand: Corporate Kidz

Why would the corporations do that?

The corporations pushed for the declaration of their charges being classified as minors for a number of reasons. The first, of course, being that a lot of the laws covering the protections of minors don't work so well when there are no police to enforce them. The second being their ability to assume power of attorney.

This was used, often, as a method of corporate warfare.

If a person cannot pay their fines and owns a business or has any other assets then the corporation assumes control of those assets as they now hold them in trust for the minor. Any legally binding contracts that they may have held can be annulled because they do not have the ability to enter into any legally binding contracts. Further the medical treatment clause means that the corporations can decide on "treatment" of the minor, and also decide to consent for the minor to undergo experimental treatments.

The corporations, of course, used this as a PR ploy and claimed that:

These poor unfortunate people made mistakes. They are not bad people, they simply never learned proper values. As such, by making them symbolically our children, we can re-educate them, and we can raise them to be productive members of society.


Health Care

Hospitals are all for-profit institutions in this era. They are under no legal obligation to provide services to anyone who cannot pay for them. Most Hospitals will not accept any patient who does not have an insurance plan. Those who do not have an ambulance service in their insurance plan will not have an ambulance dispatched to them.

New Advantage
Benefit: Health Plan
General, Ranked

Characters with this benefit can receive emergency medical treatment at a hospital. With two ranks in this Advantage characters can be picked up in an ambulance and receive on-site aid.


Cybernetics

The world has seen a massive rise in cybernetic and bionic technology. Corporations have made leaps forward in the recent years regarding this technology. Many cybernetic surgeries are considered simple and routine.

Game Rules
Cybernetics are now considered "equipment" mechanically. Now there are limits to what can be purchased as equipment. Almost any standard equipment in the book can be purchased as a cybernetic upgraded version for 2 more equipment points. For example:

A cybernetic smartphone that cannot be removed and is implanted in the person's skull would cost 4 equipment points.

1 for the cell phone, 1 for the computer functionality, 2 for the implantation.

The primary advantage of cybernetic equipment is that it cannot be "removed" without surgery. Surgery requires hours and proper facilities.

For an additional equipment point cybernetics can be subtle, requiring a DC 20 perception check to spot.

This applies to weapons as well:
A cybernetic implanted set of brass knuckles (called Cyber Knuckles) that are implanted under the skin (concealed) would cost 3 equipment points instead of the standard 1. (See M&M 3rd Edition Core pg. 217)

Note: That this only applies to mundane equipment, not to device level equipment.


Sources of Powers:

There are all kinds of sources of power for this era. Mutations (Natural or otherwise), Genetic Enhancements, Technology, etc. The only really unacceptable source of power is Magic or Divine powers. There is a specific reason for that however and will be discussed at a later time.

Virtually anything can be explained with advanced enough science. Psychic powers could be the result of brain implants. Players could have energy cannons installed into their arms. Players could wear powerful battlesuits. They could be simply highly trained.

Adventure Hooks

This is a world that is desperately crying out for heroes. The corporations rule unopposed. Heroes could be working with the corporations, they might be members of the Rapid Response Teams for Security Forces, they could be super-powered corporate spies trying to steal secrets from rivals. They could be fighting against the corporations and trying to free the world from their tyrannical control. Maybe the heroes are just trying to help the people who are no longer protected.

Other possible ideas for adventures could be things like, if the players get too good at stopping crime maybe people will start lapsing on their payments to Security Firms. If that happens then those firms may really think about trying to oust their up and coming rivals.

Maybe the heroes are trying to stop some dastardly experiments taking place at the SRFs?

Maybe a corporation is trying to break into the Security Firm business and has hired the PC's to be special "Super Response" teams.

Maybe the players are non-powered heroes who are trying to keep the piece in one of the "poor towns" that exist.

This is a more dark and gritty setting, however one thing to note, this is the age of technology. While non-tech powers exist players should be encouraged to build cyborgs, power suit users, and device wielders. Just be warned... This is a cycle... As such... All things eventually come to an end...
One can lift a rock with pure power, but a pure heart can move mountains.

hypervirtue
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Re: The Cycle - A series of M&M settings

Postby hypervirtue » Tue Dec 31, 2013 11:38 am

The Cycle: Revolution

This is the second stage in the Cycle Meta-Plot and takes place 12 years after the setting of The Golden Age of Technology.

The Story So Far...

Nothing can last forever and the corporations simply had taken too much for too long. A violent war broke out between the corporations and the higher classes and the lower classes. This is a bloody war that has thrown the entire planet into chaos.

It all started with a bang. Literally. Resistance forces managed to infiltrate the largest corporation's headquarters in North America and detonated a crude nuclear device in the heart of a major metropolitan center. This was said to have been done in protest of the recent acquisition of the new state of Canada by the American State Financing Authority.

The ASFA had been loaning money to the Montreal Group, one of the largest ruling corporations of Canada, for years, allowing them to gain a stranglehold on the country's politicians. Eventually though, once the ASFA had calculated that the Montreal Group was so far in debt that they could not survive without ASFA support they threatened to pull all funding unless the Montreal Group merged into the ASFA. The Montreal Group agreed, and then the ASFA used its influence to force the politicians of the country to relinquish their sovereignty to the United States.

This, of course, was a tactical move. This caused the Montreal Group's competition to lose considerable influence now that they had to contend with influences of policy with the corporations who already had a major power base in the United States. This causes serious political backlash from the citizenry and eventually resulted in terrorist actions against the ASFA.

Chicago Illinois, the home base of the ASFA, was lit up in a radioactive glow as the ASFA headquarters and everything within a 3.5 mile radius were either completely destroyed or blanketed in lethal radiation. The loss of life was incalculable. This was an attack that could not be ignored.

The blow was catastrophic to the ASFA and the factions and departments within it began scrambling for control. The other corporations were poised to strike but only stayed their hand because of the ramifications of the attack. The corporations, as a whole, were vulnerable.

The blast mostly targeted corporations, and the greatest loss of life was with the highly wealthy. The fringes of the megacity were virtually untouched. The corporations determined that they had to be hiding the resistance cell that launched the attack.

The corporations were right...

The corporations sent in their security forces: Cyborgs, Robots, Mercenaries, Gene-Ups (Genetically modified soldiers), and more. They were determined to make an example of the people there. What they were not prepared for, however, was for their course of action to be predicted.

The terror cell knew that the corporations would respond with a show of force. They knew that they would send in an army to the slums. They knew that the loss of life would be extreme. They believed that the sacrifice was worth it.

They launched attack forces against the corporation army and fought a retreating action. Intentionally drawing the corporate army deeper into the slums and "poor towns" of Chicago. Then, at the point of no return they played their gambit. For the second time in recorded history a nuclear blast occurred on American soil. A second bomb, twice as large as the one used in the initial attack, was detonated.

The cell, the slums, and the remains of Chicago were left as a radioactive wasteland. The Corporations were stunned. The loss of forces as a blow so severe that they did not know how to respond. They were weakened and were vulnerable to other corporations. More dangerous, however, was the fact that the high class citizenry was suddenly in a panic.

The loss of life, the loss of resources, the entire loss of a city had happened. The Corporate machine had to recover. For the first time in history the corporations, as a whole, put aside their differences and decided to launch a preemptive strike against those who they saw as below them to ensure that nothing like the Chicago disaster ever happened ever again.

Their tactics were just as severe as those of the terror cells...

The Corporate Unified Military took on a scorched Earth policy. They were determined to cow the citizenry in any way they could. Their plan was a tactical non-nuclear strike against the "poor towns" of North America and other parts of the world. Missiles launched from silos at the stroke of midnight and death rained down from the heavens.

The attack caused more resistance cells to form. Those resistance cells chose to fight back rather than be annihilated. They joined together under one banner and prepared to make their stand.

Lacking the resources of the corporations though the outcome was determined to be inevitable. Still resistance forces decided that if they were going to fall they were going to make the other side pay dearly for it...

Little did they know that things were on the verge of changing...

-----

This setting is appropriate for setting up the warring factions. Its basically traditional guerrilla combat. The general themes are a high technology war with one side having an overwhelming advantage.

The corporations have virtually limitless resources and the best top of the line weaponry. Their forces are meeting resistance but are winning more often than not. They are painting themselves as the good faction as they fight the vile terrorist forces.

The resistance is resource starved. They have to steal and cobble together everything they have and fight to the best of their ability. The truth is none of them had anything to do with the terror attack in Chicago. The cell that launched that attack was wiped out when the second bomb went off. They were acting alone. The resistance, however, has no choice to defend itself because the corporations are determined to subjagate them.

The truth is even the people don't know what is going on. The lower class people tend to back the resistance, after all, they were the ones targeted by the corporations. The higher class people believe that they were attacked first by the vile terrorists and this is the only way to keep themselves safe. The people in the middle tend to be split, some support the corporations, some support the resistance, and some are just trying to get out of everyone's way.

Superhumans are battling on both sides. Some are siding with the corporations. Some are siding with the resistance. Some are just trying to keep as many people alive as possible.

The theme of this game really depends on the story that wants to be told. A corporation-focused group might see themes of war and hard sacrifices. A resistance focused group might be more based on espionage and cloak and dagger. There are countless possibilities for this section of the cycle metaplot.

New Advantages:

Requisition
General

A character may spend a Hero Point to acquire a one use invention. Unlike inventing this does not require a design check. This does requires four hours of processing, authorization, and delivery time per power point of the invention’s cost, so an invention costing 10 points takes 40 hours to acquire.

When the processing time is complete, make a Diplomacy skill check. The DC is 10 + the invention’s power point cost and you can make it as a routine check. You can reduce the rank of the construction time, taking a –5 circumstance penalty on the check for each –1 time rank reduction.

This is more suited to corporation backed heroes, as usually the resistance would have to construct such things themselves.

Notes:

The troop makeup of the Corporations tends to err toward technology. The troop makeup of the Resistance tends to err toward natural and accidental mutations. This is simply the reality of the makeup of the various groups.

As the war goes on the Resistance gains major footholds in the Northeast of the US and the Corporations tend to gather in the Southwest of the US. At the height of the formal war the American Resistance Headquarters is in New York City and the American Corporate Headquarters is located in Amarillo Texas.

The world plot states that this war takes approximately 24 months. In the final days of the war the Resistance Forces are on the defensive and are falling back. The Corporate forces are preparing for the final attack on New York City at 11:46pm on the date of December 24th in the year 2046. It is their hope that they will be victorious on Christmas day.

By this point the heroes would most likely be on the front lines in the war which is a mass battle line drawn in Virginia.
One can lift a rock with pure power, but a pure heart can move mountains.

hypervirtue
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Re: The Cycle - A series of M&M settings

Postby hypervirtue » Tue Dec 31, 2013 12:31 pm

The Cycle: Technology Falls

This is the third stage in the Cycle Meta-Plot and it takes place exactly 2 years after the beginning of the Revolution cycle. It begins precisely at 12:01am on December 25th, 2046 as Revolution ends.

The Story So Far...

With the fall of the Resistance all but inevitable the Corporations had no idea that their own destruction was at hand. Very few people had known what was going on. Even fewer still would have believed it even if they had been told about it.

Lance Teller was one of the Resistance think-tank leaders. He had focused his team on experimental methods of warfare. He went for the fringe, believing that the only chance they would have against the corporations was if they found a weapon that the corporations couldn't simply buy.

He focused on psychics. He studied the occult. Almost all of his research was netting little gain.

Then Lance Teller's team struck gold.

It was three months before the Siege of New York when one of Lance's Psycho-Divers, a group of psychics who Lance instructed to search for information in from the psychic plane, came across something called, "The Keystone."

The entities encountered by the Psycho-Divers insisted that magic was a real force. A powerful force that had been sealed off from the world. These entities told the Psycho-Divers that the world as humans knew it was incredibly flawed as it was missing one of the fundamental universal forces... Magic.

The entities explained that many years ago, in order to stop the power of occultists, a religious organization performed a powerful ritual to seal magic away inside of a prison called the "lock" and that if freed magical power could turn the tide in the human's war. In order to open the "lock" a person would need "the keystone."

Teller dispatched his best team to find it. The keystone was being stored in a religious stronghold in Rome. On the night before the attack on New York Teller's team launched a raid on the stronghold just minutes before the battle began. At 12:01am as the Virginia battle line buckled the lone surviving member of Teller's attack team reached "the keystone."

Mortally wounded the operative utilized the supposedly arcane device that they had crafted that would open "the lock" when the keystone was at last in hand. As he pressed the strange device against "the keystone" nothing happened... Then the stone cracked, then it shattered, then technology fell.

Simultaneously, across the world there was a swelling of magical energy. A surge that had never before been witnessed in almost any reality. Magic had been sealed and suppressed, and had built up, for thousands of years and it was suddenly unleashed. Storms, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tornadoes, the very planet was shaking itself apart.

Physics, and most of science, had been built on working in a reality where magic wasn't there. Once magic returned, some of the fundamental laws of physics completely broke down. Planes simply fell from the sky as aerodynamic principles no longer applied and the shape of the wings were simply unable to generate lift. Capacitors exploded as they were simply no longer capable of holding energy. Many metals no longer conducted electricity.

The entire system fell.

Every satellite fell from the sky. Every implant stopped working, some of them exploding inside of the bodies of the hosts. Bullets stopped firing. Combustion in engines ceased. The world was cast into darkness in an instant.

Technology simply stopped working.

Every superhuman who had been granted their powers from implants lost them, instantly. Some died outright when their replacement organs failed. Those depending on powered armor found themselves trapped within metal coffins.

Something far worse happened to the genetically modified superhumans and those who were mutated by accidents. The tweak to the laws of the world changed how their modifications functioned. Skin turned green, brains suddenly suffered irreparable damage and regressed their hosts to animalistic levels of intelligence. Some grew and stretched. Others died as their bodies contorted. Some simply developed new traits, like claws or the like.

The only superhumans who weren't affected were natural born mutants. The Corporations had more than lost. Their weapons rendered useless. The extreme bulk of their forces left denied weapons. The loss of their communications and, worse still, the money in their bank accounts no longer had meaning.

The Resistance superhumans didn't know what was happening, but they knew they saw vulnerability. They took the opportunity to press on. The Corporation forces were slaughtered. It was a massacre.

The strife wasn't over yet...

Even as the Resistance tried to come to grips with the changes, and the horrifying death tolls, a new crisis erupted.

Monsters.

Hundreds of millions of monsters.

Dragons, Demons, Elves, Fairies, Creatures only existing in myths and legends.

They began appearing across the world. They were also very angry. Immortal beings who remembered that humans were the ones who sealed them away. Some of them insane with rage and anger. They attacked without mercy and they attacked without remorse.

Survivors on both the side of the Resistance and on the side of the Corporations suddenly found themselves allied against a force that nobody understood and nobody had the ability to fight.

Humanity almost ended that day, but the surviving Superhumans managed to rally. Humanity broke and scattered, the superhumans acted as their guardians.

Across the rapidly transforming Earth pockets of humanity huddled. The only thing standing between them and death were the remaining superhumans.

Years would pass.

Humanity was reduced to nearly 20% of its former population.

Humanity would rediscover magic, and among its ranks new heroes would emerge. Heroes armed with magical swords. Heroes armed with magical spells. Humans, who were inter-breed with supernatural creatures. Humans who took on curses, such as vampirism, to become guardians.

Technology was regarded as ancient and useless junk.

However, humans have a way of surprising everyone around them...

-----

This is a chaotic time. It can last for a large number of years. Stories in this setting are about heroes who safeguard their communities from supernatural threats as well as other hubs of humanity. This era isn't really fitting for technological heroes.

Heroes who were technologically based at the end of the last chapter likely survived, but had to adapt. A hero who before wore power armor might now wear enchanted armor, and instead of blaster gloves may have learned how to throw a mystic bolt.

Regardless... The cycle continues...
One can lift a rock with pure power, but a pure heart can move mountains.

hypervirtue
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Re: The Cycle - A series of M&M settings

Postby hypervirtue » Wed Jan 01, 2014 3:06 am

The Cycle: Regaining What Was Lost...

This is the fourth stage in the Cycle Meta-Plot and it takes place around 50 years after the events in Technology Falls...

-----

The Story So Far...

It is the era of the Sorcerer-lords. Superhumans became humanity's only defense against the monsters that plagued the world. They defended small clusters of humanity and attracted other pockets to themselves for protection. These clusters thus grew and expanded.

The world is a much different place. Humanity rests in sprawling walled cities guarded by powerful superhumans. Some with in-born gifts from their parentage, be that from natural mutant lines from before the fall or from new interbreeding with supernatural creatures. Some wield powerful magical weapons and devices. Some simply have mastered the arts arcane. A few are simply exceptionally highly trained people with unmatched skill.

Not all of these guardians are good. Many are tyrants who protect their people only so that they can rule them. They are petty and cruel and they plague mankind with suffering.

It is during this time however that a new form of magic is being crafted. Scientists who passed knowledge down from before the fall have spent their resources as best they could in learning how the laws of physics and matter work in a world of magic. They have begun to combine elements of the technological and the arcane together.

This has lead to the birth of a new power: Magitech.

How each settlement of humanity responds to this invention is different. Some guardians welcome the new tool. Other guardians see it as a dangerous threat to their power. Some people see it as a blessing. Others see it as a curse, blaming technology for the fall of humanity in the first place.

Either way the new Magitech heroes are emerging. Human colonies are starting to reach out to each other. Trade lines are being established. Slowly the forces of the Supernatural are being pushed back and humanity is re-establishing itself as a dominant species on the planet.

-----

This is an interesting era to play in. It is a fantasy era that also boasts high technology. When your magic wielding team might have to stop an evil warlord who has converted an ancient aircraft carrier into a flying magitech fortress and seeks to conquer humanity. When the heroes might seek to arm rebels with magitech weapons in order to overthrow a mad tyrannical dictator who uses his magic to lord over the people.

This setting is appropriate for pretty much every descriptor but perhaps genetic engineering. Heroes who gained their powers from chemical spills might explain it by having strange alchemical potions dumped on them and the like. They key themes here though are more fantasy oriented.

At this stage in the redevelopment the world is still far from modern. There is no universal currency, so barter is often needed, and magitech is still in the early stages. As such the modern conveniences aren't quite there, though they are starting to return. This is an era about establishing the world and exploring.

Because Magitech is so much in its infancy at this point all Magitech powers suffer from the, "Power Loss" complication. Namely that Magitech isn't perfected and sometimes it simply fails.
One can lift a rock with pure power, but a pure heart can move mountains.

hypervirtue
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Re: The Cycle - A series of M&M settings

Postby hypervirtue » Wed Jan 01, 2014 4:55 am

The Cycle: Civilization...

This is the fifth stage in the Cycle Meta-Plot and it takes place around 100 years after the events in Regaining What Was Lost...

-----

The Story So Far...

Humanity has re-established itself and a new world has been forged. Many cities have been taken back and have been repaired. The supernatural now exists in the wilds, and in their own recognized cities and provinces. Pacts, deals, and other agreements have been made.

North America is broken up into four nations.

To the north are the Elven Kingdoms. Comprising what once was Canada as well as Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana. These are ruled by the Elven Lords. A council that has made peace with humanity.

There is trade between the Human States of America and the Elven Kingdoms (the HSA and the EK respectively) and a peace treaty has been in place for more than 35 years. This peace treaty was made possible largely in part to the fact that, aside from having a higher than normal magically active population, there is very little difference between Elves and Humans biologically. In fact, aside from the Elves tending to have slightly better hearing and eyesight, the differences are largely cosmetic.

These differences are so cosmetic that Humans can freely interbreed with Elves. The myth that Elves are more agile and dexterous is exactly that, a myth. Elves are no more dexterous and agile than humans are, it is simply that their culture generally tends to look more favorably on sports like gymnastics and entertainment such as ballet as a whole than most humans do. Likewise Elves aren't physically weaker or possessing of less stamina than humans. Humans just tend to prefer sports that emphasis power and stamina such as Football and Boxing. An Elf who lives among a Human Colony his, or her, whole life would be more or less indistinguishable ability-wise than any human, and the same is true of the Elves.

The Half-Elves... Offspring between humans and elves... Are just that, half-elves. They tend to have slightly pointier ears than humans, and tend to be able to grow less body hair, and be more pale than humans. Those are probably the largest biological differences between the races. Elves are incapable of growing body hair, have pale skin, and have pointy ears.

There are, of course, rules in both cultures that differ. Mostly these tend to be political. The Elven Kingdoms do not allow non-elves to sit on their council. Though there is a political push in the EK to change that rule. In order to run for President of the HSA a person must be a naturally born citizen and have at least one human parent. Aside from that the majority of the laws are nearly identical.

To the south making up what was Mexico as well as what were the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina is the Confederation of Faith. The COF and the HSA are at strong odds with one another. The COF are a human-only country. Any sentient non-humans that wander into the COF boarders without proper diplomatic authorization can be killed on sight and/or can be subject to indentured servitude.

Originally the COF was part of the HSA but the COF broke away after the peace treaty was signed with the EK. The COF believed that anyone who would open their arms to the non-humans were traitors to humanity and preached that inter-breeding with elves (and other races) was a high crime. They also had tension because the HSA allows citizens to practice any religion they wish openly.

The COF is ruled by High Reverend Bartholomew Lott IV. The COF has legalized a national religion and has made the practice of that religion mandatory. Any other religions being practiced inside the COF by any citizen of the COF is punishable by death or indentured servitude and loss of citizenship. Non-COF Citizens with proper authorization may practice their own beliefs only in closed non-public locations lest they face instant expulsion.

The COF does have a very low crime rate however has problems aside from crime to worry about. They have the Demonic Kingdoms of South America on their southern boarder. Needless to say those two nations are always in a state of open hostility.

Next there is the Dragonlands. Making up what once was Washington, Idaho, Nevada, California, and half of Arizona the Dragonlands are ruled by the Dragonlords: Three powerful Dragons who survived the Dragon Purge and struck a treaty with the HSA and the EK twelve years ago. The Dragonlands population contains Humans, Elves, Trolls, Dwarves, and other humanoids in addition to the Dragons themselves.

Dragons are a strange race. Their thought process is wholly alien to humans. They can communicate with humans, of course, but their motivations are far different and hard to understand. Dragons are intensely intelligent, but intelligent doesn't mean humane. The fact is the Dragons allow the other races to live in their lands because they simply don't care.

Dragon reproduction is... Less than pleasant.

A few facts about Dragons.

  • Dragons are all male.

    To be more precise Dragons do not have an actual gender. They are Dragons. Often referred to as male because of how they reproduce.

  • Dragons eat carbon.

    Dragons can survive on almost anything as long as they can burn it. If they can't burn it, they don't care.

  • Dragons love shiny things.

    Nobody knows why this is, not even Dragons, they simply like shiny things and tend to amass lots of shiny things. This is where the legend of the Dragon's Hoard comes from. The problem with that legend is that while a hoard can contain gold, silver, and other precious metals as well as gems and the like it is also just as likely to have a massive ball of tinfoil or bits of stained glass. In fact, this is actually part of the peace agreement, the Dragons are given a tithe of "shiny objects" each year. The HSA and the EK don't mind that so much because usually the tithe is nothing more than mounds of aluminum cans and broken glass bottles.

  • Dragons can shapeshift into virtually any animal, including humans, elves, etc.

  • Dragons are biologically compatible with any living creature that is capable of reproduction. Though they prefer to mate with sentient species.

  • Dragons are very powerful magic users.

  • Dragons do not lay eggs in the traditional sense.

    Dragon reproduction is unpleasant. It is also always fatal to the mother if the dragon is born successfully. This is actually the reason there was a Dragon Purge.

    Dragons, when they decide to mate, usually assume the form of a male of a sentient species. They are charming and witty and have immense magical powers. It is not hard for them to woo a target. Usually the target doesn't know they are a Dragon and the Dragon usually won't tell them and the Dragon tends to leave afterward.

    After the mating there are always twins. One of the race of the mother. The other a dragon.

    Usually this ends badly for the non-dragon twin.

    One twin always absorbs the other. Why this is, nobody is sure. What is known is all attempts to prevent this have been 100% fatal. It is simply a natural part of Dragon reproduction.

    The Dragon is then born, usually violently, and even a baby dragon is powerful and dangerous. They are also initially wild and feral. This means, in the time of "Regaining What Was Lost" a Dragon birth in a human settlement could be catastrophic. These events lead to the Dragon Purge, a war between Dragons and the Humans and Elves. The Humans and Elves mostly wiped the Dragons out but agreed to a peace treaty eventually.

    There is a rare occurrence however...

    Sometimes.

    In 1 in 10 cases the non-dragon twin survives and absorbs the dragon twin. This is the birth of a Dragonblood.

New Complication: Dragonblood

Only the strong survive and you are absolutely a survivor. You absorbed your dragon twin and became something more than what you were. Though you are normally in control there are times when you lose it. When that happens things get bad.

There is an upside to being a Dragonblood, of course, being the fact that when your dragon heritage takes over you get a lot more powerful. You gain three full power levels and have 45 power points to spend on your additional Dragonblood traits. These traits must be physical (such as enhanced physical traits), or directly dragon related (gaining fire breath, or wings when in Dragonblood mode). These 45 points must be spent on combat-related traits.

There is also a downside. When your blood activates you lose control of your character and go on a rampage. Usually this will cause you to attack the largest threat to you, but if there is no obvious threat you will lash out at allies and friends, whatever is closest to you. The GM should let the player control their character while in a dragon frenzy but if the player isn't following those general guidelines should feel free to overrule the player.

A dragon frenzy typically lasts for at least three turns. Every turn after the third turn, before their action, the player may make a Will Resistance Check (DC 20) to try to get themselves under control. If they succeed the frenzy ends and the character returns to normal but is fatigued.

Players can trigger their character's frenzy state by spending a hero point. However they can also simply have their frenzy trigger without their control (at any time the GM wishes), in that case the player should be awarded a hero point.

Players should feel free, if they take this complication, to have some of their "powers" be from their dragon blood. For example a human who is super strong, or maybe can breathe fire, as part of their natural powers. It is a great source.


Generally life in the Dragonlands isn't terrible, the non-dragons are left to their own devices to govern themselves as they wish. The settlements in the Dragonlands tend to resemble classic stories of the ancient American "Old West" where outlaws and lawlessness were common. Many people leave the EK, the HSA, and even the COF to enter the Dragonlands (DL) in order to seek their fortunes as there are rumors of stockpiles of precious metals and ancient technology within their borders.

(Note: While items of ancient technology simply don't work, they can be upgraded to magitech devices, thus effectively being repaired. There are also collectors and museums who pay top dollar for recovered relics.)


The remaining parts of North America are the lands of the HSA. Life in the HSA isn't bad. Most homes have running water and manalines run power to all manner of magitech devices. People have created magitech stoves, magitech refrigerators, and have used alchemy to rediscover ways to create ballistic projectiles (IE guns). People have created magitech devices to transmit voice communications over special manalines creating telephones.

The invention of magitech is faster than developing technology was the first time but it still takes time. Aside from the rare magitech genius who can create magitech power armor or a magitech spacecraft the average level of technology is equal to about the American 1940s. It is taking time to remaster things. Magitech radio shows are still in full swing and recently people have figured out with alchemy how to re-develop film and so moving picture shows with sound are all the rage.

Humanity is moving forward...

-----

Playing a game in the HSA or the EK is a kind of 1940s era setting with some fantasy elements thrown in. Magitech is the excuse to allow normal equipment. The different races allows for a more acceptable "racism" equivalent. There are absolutely tensions between humans and elves and often half-elves get caught in the middle of it. It is ideal to use classic noir, or pulp novels, as inspiration. This is a great golden age of comics setting.

Playing a game in the COF is intended to allow players to engage in a setting that resembles attitudes of the pre-civil war era with more advanced technology or potentially to represent an analogue to Nazi germany for an HSA campaign. Though I originally wrote the COF to serve as a group of human antagonists for the HSA. Their religious beliefs though are some things players may want to explore and there, of course, is no shortage of adventure fodder as they battle the Demon Kingdoms at their southern boarders. This is probably better though for a more mature group.

Playing a game in the DL is like taking part in a fantasy steampunk western. Player characters can search the high plains for a big score. Battle desperadoes who try to rob trains and banks. They can have all sorts of classic western comic adventures.
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Re: The Cycle - A series of M&M settings

Postby Libra » Wed Jan 01, 2014 7:21 am

This looks very interesting Hypervirtue; I shall do my best to keep up with future developments! :D
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Re: The Cycle - A series of M&M settings

Postby hypervirtue » Wed Jan 01, 2014 1:36 pm

A Little More on Dragons...

Just a couple of things I wanted to note for reference.



"Are you my daddy?"

Sooner or later someone is going to make a Dragonblood and try to go off and find their father. They probably believe that they will be loved and accepted. They probably envision being granted boons from their parent. They... Are really incorrect.

Dragons are not human.

I can't state this enough. They do not think like humans do. Dragons don't understand the concept of "family" or even "offspring" as anything. To a dragon offspring are just something that happens.

To put a little perspective on this. I want you to take a minute to run your fingers through your hair. Don't yank or anything, just move your fingers through your hair. Now look at your hand.

Chances are you had a hair come loose in your hand.

To a dragon, that hair is offspring. They have about the same emotional attachment to their offspring as you do to that single strand of errant hair.

Dragons don't even care about other dragons.

Dragons don't even have a concept of fear.

They are not human.

-----

That lack of fear is actually complete and total.

So lets bring you into the thought process of a dragon for a second in an typical meeting.

*****
So, you have four PCs who enter the Dragon's lair and are standing in its hoard room. The dragon eyes them, and they eye the dragon. The dragon first evaluates the party, looking for shiny things. Once it locates those shiny things it reaches a more complex thought process.

It evaluates if it can take the shiny things. It evaluates the likelihood of the shiny things being destroyed. It considers the effort necessary to get the shiny things. It considers if it takes those shiny things, will these soft things bring it more shiny things.

At no point does it consider if it will be injured trying to get the shiny things. At no point does it consider if it can be killed. Those kinds of thoughts don't process through a dragon's mind. It doesn't care if anyone's feelings will be hurt. It doesn't care if there would be retaliation. It cares only for the shiny things.

It considers that these soft things might give it the shiny things. It decides that it will have the shiny things, and that the shiny things are in its lair and since they are here unless the shiny things leave there is no need for any effort to be expended. It understands the soft things like to converse and after doing so they leave shiny things and therefor there is no need to expend energy taking shiny things when talking for shiny things requires less energy.

The dragon knows the words. It knows what meanings words have to soft things. It is not above telling soft things what is necessary to get shiny things.

If at any point in the conversation the dragon believes that it cannot get the soft things to leave the shiny things then the dragon will take the shiny things.

If, on the other hand, the soft things don't have shiny things the dragon will not attack. There is no point. If the soft things do not take the dragon's shiny things then their presence here is not a concern. If, however, the soft things threaten the dragon's ownership of the shiny things... Then there will be cause for the dragon to attack.
*****

To put it bluntly Dragons care only about themselves. Their needs and their desires. They need and desire shiny things, and so in this situation, that was all that the dragon cared about. In all things the dragon will always use the minimum necessary amount of effort to get what it wants. It will weigh options about the future and the past and the potential, but even then it is an ancient creature and so time is less of a priority.

This is the same thought process that goes into mating. The dragon simply knows that it wants to mate. At that point in time the dragon's only concern is to output the minimum amount of effort necessary to accomplish that goal. It takes a lot less effort to shapeshift into a creature resembling what its potential mate might find attractive, then expend some of its shiny, the shiny that those of its mate's race seem to value as well. Then talk into a settlement, sit at a table, and use its shiny and assumed appearance to entice a potential mate.

If it cannot do this, it has magic. If magic does not work it may utilize physical force but it would require a large amount of time for a dragon to consider that viable. Of course if it is discovered by those of its mate's race the dragon may also use force, because the dragon understands that mates do not consent knowingly to the practice.

Once the mating is done the dragon loses that desire and returns to its hoard. There is more shiny at its hoard than in most settlements. If it is not at it, then it is not its, and as such it goes to where it knows the biggest gathering of shiny is. Its hoard.

*****

In fact that is why Dragons have a truce. Someone figured out how they think and simply came and told the dragons that as long as they do not leave their hoard territory they will continue to regularly deliver large quantities of shiny things. The dragon considered that the shiny gain was immense if it simply did nothing. Maximum gain for minimum effort.

Though the Dragons do break the truce about once a year to engage in mating. Though honestly few people realize this, and the EK and HSA consider the errant hatchling attack three times a year to be far less destructive than trying to kill the three remaining high elder dragons of the Dragonlands would be.

The important thing is this:

Dragons will lie, cheat, and steal to get whatever they want. They will do whatever is necessary to get what they want. They cannot be intimidated with and they cannot be held to their word. Dragons will not honor a promise because they said they would.

Literally if a dragon promises something it says whatever it said solely for the purpose of getting what it wants. If it is less effort for it to go along with the promise, there is a high likelihood that the dragon will. If it believes that it can get more in the long term by breaking its promise, or if simply its priorities change, then it will.

That last part is what makes dealing with dragons so difficult. They only can really consider one priority at a time. If a messenger is offering the dragon shiny things, trying to secure passage through its territory the dragon can be completely intent, as it wants shiny. If it suddenly gets hungry, then it doesn't consider shiny, it considers something it can burn for food. If the only thing it can burn to eat is a messenger and if the messenger doesn't have sufficient food on hand at that very moment, the messenger cannot bargain. The messenger is food.

The things to really grasp with that is, a dragon considers whatever is around the dragon to be the dragon's property. If a dragon leaves its hoard, then that hoard is no longer the dragon's. The dragon simply knows where there is a large amount of hoard. Sometimes the dragon may leave a hoard if it believes it can get more shiny to bring back with it and then take the hoard it finds when it gets back. Its rather complicated.

The best thing to remember with a dragon is that dragons aren't evil. Dragons aren't good. Dragons are a force of nature that act as dragons do. They can be unpredictable and they are incredibly dangerous. Nobody should ever seek to see a dragon unless they have no other option or unless the loss of their own life (or the life of the person they send) is better than not seeing the dragon.

Also dragons cannot understand the concept of future behavior based on current actions. Namely a dragon will not help someone now in the hopes that it will bring it something later. If someone tells the dragon they will bring them something later, and if the dragon knows where that something the person will later bring is, then the dragon might do it because in the dragon's mind it can go and get it if the thing does not do it and all the dragon has lost is time in exchange for effort.

In any case, I hope this little primer wasn't too scatterbrained. This, to me, is a really complicated topic and I think the method that I chose to write it in, while confusing, conveys the difficulty in understanding how a dragon thinks and behaves.

I'll get the next part up soon. I hope y'all are enjoying the cycle so far. If there are any questions, feel free to ask.
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Re: The Cycle - A series of M&M settings

Postby hypervirtue » Wed Jan 01, 2014 8:02 pm

The Cycle: New Dawn...

This is the sixth stage in the Cycle Meta-Plot and it takes place around 60 years after the events of Civilization...

-----

The Story So Far...

Humanity has survived the apocalypse, and it has thrived. Humanity, which includes the Elves, has once more become the pure dominant life form on the planet. Trade between continents is booming, satellites are in orbit, and humanity is traveling to the moon and beginning to move beyond.

The Dragonlands eventually fell when the Dragon Lords decided to attack in search of more objects for their hoard. A cadre of powerful superhumans defeated them and eventually banished them from the Earth. The Dragonlands were then absorbed into the HSA.

The COF eventually conquered the Demon Kingdoms in the south and then declared war in their zealotry against the HSA. The EK came to the aid of the HSA and in the end the COF leader committed suicide rather than face defeat. The COF collapsed and was eventually absorbed into the HSA, even though in some areas tensions still exist regarding their neighbors in the north.

While people don't usually have flying cars, wealthy individuals have their own private air cars, corporations have private air cars. People can board commercial skylines for only a few hundred credits and fly across the continent. The Elves and Humans have grown together as one race and now they are treated like old nationalities or skin color was.

People have information at their fingertips on the Infonet. Cars race down the streets on vehicles that combine magitech and alchemical elixir fuels. Business exchanges have cropped up and politics are in full swing. Political parties compete for the favor of the people, and the funding from the corporations, and overall life is similar to what it was in the far history books.

Superhumans exist and battle each other in classic hero on villain encounters. Some heroes use magic, others use magitech devices or implants, and still more use esoteric martial skills, and the like. This truly is a rebirth for humanity.

-----

This is the typical superhero world. Most sources are available. The technology is equal to what we have today only with slightly different names. Manalines instead of power lines. The infonet instead of the internet. Instead of gasoline, cars use combustion fuel. Instead of airlines it is skylines. Flying cars instead of private planes.

This is the basic, standard, superhero world.
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Re: The Cycle - A series of M&M settings

Postby hypervirtue » Wed Jan 01, 2014 8:06 pm

And... With that... The cycle is complete.

A world that starts in cyberpunk.
Moves to modern war.
Passes onto post-apocalypse.
Transitions to fantasy.
Becomes noire/pulp.
And finally ends in the modern comic age.

At the end of the comic age, the corporations begin their rise to power... And the story starts once again... The cycle continues.
One can lift a rock with pure power, but a pure heart can move mountains.


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