Monday, March 7, 2016

Earth 10: Timeline and Time Travel

With the player set so far we have one PC and one team member (Superman and Flash, respectively) with time travel, one PC and one team member with immortality (Vigilante and the Hawks, respectively) and one PC as a legacy hero with heroics going back 90 years in her family (Zatava). This means I have to give some thought to the timeline and key events both past and future. So here we go.

Note: many of these plot ideas come from things in the Best of Fenix anthology, which is just wonderful.

The first rule of time travel is that it’s relatively easy to get to a period about 512 years ahead or behind of the current day – this is what 0 AP of Time Travel gets you. Each AP after that lets you get half again as close to the current day and twice as far away. Superman has 2 AP of Time Travel, which means he can get as far back as 2048 years from now (or 0 AD more or less) and as far forward as 4060 AD. He can also get as close as 128 years ago (about the Reconstruction era, as close as 2140 AD. The more powerful a time traveler you are the closer you can get to the absolute now, which is where the real power is in possibly being able to effect things. The further away you are the more likely the time steam will wash over the changes or break off a separate stream rather than change absolute now.

9 to 23 AD – Wang Mang’s China

The period when Wang Mang was emperor of China, this is the far edge of how back Superman can go with his time travel. Wang Mang is one of Superman’s most bitter foes, seeing him as the embodiment of everything that is not classical China. Once Wang Mang lears of his existence and, by extension, the events of the next 2000 years he puts into place a two millennia conspiracy to restore proper culture to the world.

64 AD: Nero’s Rome

When Jimmy Olsen puts Superman in contact with a historian looking for specific critical information on the early Roman empire Superman agrees to bring Jimmy back to ‘get the story’ – there they uncover a plot by ancient Egyptian cult of Ammut, the crocodile god of dreams, to replace Nero with a homunculus. When Egyptian magic reduces his power Superman is forced into a gladiatorial bout as Jimmy manages to reveal the faux Nero. The last remnants of the Ammut cult are destroyed in the fire and the proper Nero returned to power. Superman recovers his power enough to return Jimmy and himself to the 21st century.

1174: Between the Second and Third Crusade

In the chaotic period between the second and third crusades, as the crusader states are intriguing against one another in the wake of the second crusade and Saladin is gathering his power in the East, a small group of crusaders following clues from an ancient Chinese scroll accidentally wake a huge red dragon. One of the survivors of the dragons first attack on a small crusader unit was Etienne of Navarre, as he and Isabo were travelling to Jerusalem in hopes that the True Cross could break their curse, and survive only because a red and blue angel appeared to defeat the dragon. 830 years later the Hawks relate the story to Superman after their first team up, and the Man of Steel travels back to fulfill the time loop, barely defeating the enraged magical beast. He strongly suspects this was a planned assassination attempt on him by Wang Mang. (Note that the Hawks don’t have their flight gear yet, as it was Da Vinci’s design)

1770: Revolutionary Dating Triangle

Because part of me adores the old silly stories of Superman time travelling, there definitely has to be one where Superman travels back to the pre-revolutionary war period and gets into a romance triangle between the forceful and passionate Mary Ludwig (future Molly Pitcher) and the beautiful Elizabeth Phoebe Griscomb (future Betsy Ross). Is this entirely illogical? Well, no, both women were alive and unmarried in 1770, but other than that yeah, it’s totally absurd. We are therefore doing it anyway. I think we tie this to a fictitious precursor event to the revolutionary war (the Boston Massacre is on March 5, the Golden Hill Incident is January 17, so it’s right in that time period). Two possible options are that this is a story of Superman when he was a boy and young Betsy Ross sews the first Superman costume for him to wear while preventing another massacre, or it’s another one of those wacky “Jimmy Olsen convinces Superman to time travel and they end up double dating Molly and Betsy” stories. I could go either way.

1881: Rockets in the West

Nikolai Kibalchich, a Ukranian engineer and anarchist, built the bomb that killed Tsar Alexander II. He later escaped from prison, and then the Russias, with a solid fuel rocket of his own design. Making his way to the American west he perfects his designs and tries to use them to foment more anarchy in the US but is defeated by a team up between Vigilante and the Hawks. (The Hawks now have their glider wings, but don’t yet have the full flight capability because they haven’t yet been upgraded by the Wright Brothers.)

1927: Arthur Conan Doyle

Towards the end of his career Doyle became deeply involved in the Spiritualist movement even as he perfected the art of modern detective work. He wrote about the latter in his fictitious Sherlock Holmes stories, and the former in his non-fiction accounts of discussions with his spirit guide and the completion of final novels by other writers who had passed on. In 1925 he predicted an enormous upheaval of earthquakes and floods in 1927, but later told people he was wrong because he and his spirit guide were using the wrong calendar! The truth is that this was the first rumbles of the Mayan Apocalypse of 2012, forestalled by the combined work of Doyle, Vigilante (who was there learning detective techniques) and a young Zatara (who was mastering his ability to speak with the dead).

1931: New York City

The construction of new towers allows the ancient gods shadowy access to Manhattan, influencing people, manipulating effects, forming cults and otherwise trying to alter the world. Only the works of Zatara prevent moldy Babylonian gods from appearing in Central Park West to tear up the city.

2130’s: the Arctic Circle

A series of enormous solar flares has shut down much electromagnetic technology and communications, and combined with existing warming trends to melt the polar ice and reveal a whole new landscape to the North. This is exactly Ken Hite’s “wild west in the future arctic circle” article from Fenix, it takes place at closest future timeframe Superman can access and Vigilante is, of course, right in the thick of it because it’s a Western. A whole arc of the “Vigilante as immortal in other times and places” comic “Legends of the Vigilante” takes place here.

26th Century

500 years in the future, the only thing I know from here is that it’s where the Reverse Flash comes from. Yes, we have a Reverse Flash because shut up Reverse Flash that’s why.

31st century: Legion of Super Heroes

With the conclusion of my X-Men PBEM my next likely play by email project will be a rebuilt from the ground up Legion of Super Heroes. If that’s the case they will totally be part of this timeline, explaining part of where Superman was between developing his powers and going public as Superman. It’s a full on bright Gernsback future where a group of teenagers use their non-human powers to emulate the super-heroes of the 21st century. 

Monday, February 29, 2016

Earth 10 Rogues Gallery 6: the Question

The final rogues’ gallery is, much like Zatava’s, not really a rogues’ gallery at all. Instead they are the outcroppings of the 6-7 issue conspiracy arcs that the Question has uncovered in his travels.

The initial story arc has to do with Hub City, and how the city’s political structure is corrupted on a purely human level. He manages through the course of the first film noir arc to deal with one aspect of that, installing a new police chief in Isadore ‘Izzy’ O’tool, restoring some sense of justice to the city, but the city itself is still monstrously corrupt. The only real supernatural element in this arc is a voodoo priest, just called Hogan, who appears across two issues.

The second story arc is such a radical departure that you might be wondering if you’re reading the same book – the Question goes to New England where he is investigating the disappearance of one of his old contacts. This kicks off a bizarre conspiracy concerning Cotton Mather’s stolen notebooks of supernatural events, the new appearance of a truly evil witch cult and a hidden city in rural New England made up of clockwork puritans whose outcast members reveal that some of the blue blood of the Brahmans is in fact gear lubricant.

The third story arc is back to hub city, where the Question starts tracking down the Mikado, a serial killer hunting the evil men of the city and killing them in ironically or philosophically appropriate ways. While Vic Sage might agree with the list of targets, the Mikado’s hilariously horrific means can’t justify the ends.

The fourth story arc has the Question in Machu Pichu, unravelling a decades old conspiracy of silence around the city’s discovery and what was really under the ground there. The long term ramifications of this will turn into the Calendar Man arc in the Justice Alliance, which will be the first the faceless occultist works with the world’s premier super-team. (But that’s a couple of years in the future).

The fifth story arc is back to Hub City, where the ghosts of the Mikado’s murders have to be put down using Orgone generators, Hindi magic and bare knuckled courage.

The sixth story arc is another assault on the conspiracy that runs the city, as the Question is now armed with knowledge ripped from the ghosts of the Mikado’s villains using tellurically powered Ouija board interrogation. This further reveals the corruption of the city and actually opens the door for possible improvements with the appearance of a federal task force. This arc also guest stars a well-known federal agent in Adam MacTaggart.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Earth 10: Darkness Falls and the Smallville R-Map

So part of the way we built out Zatava’s rogues gallery was by making a relationship map using the Smallville rules as a base. I wanted to quickly record how we did it (i.e. the mods we did on Smallville) so that I will remember in the future, because it worked pretty well. Part of this was to simplify things so the r-map doesn’t get too unwieldy, as it can in a full Smallville setting, but also because our game mechanics are not dependent on the strength of the relationships – we’re just looking for narrative potential. As such each core character should only have 9 connections (one for each corner and edge of the square, plus one more). A Link is the line between two things on the r-map, with the relationship defined.

1)    Draw a box for your core character, and link your character to each of the others. With 4 players this is should make a square of squares, with connections using 3 of the 9 links.
a)    Jason, Marinette, Marian and Angel are drawn and linked
2)    Draw a circle for a secondary character, and an oval for a location. Link each to your core character. You can also link them to each other, but you don’t have to.
a)    Jason adds the prestigious medical college and Dr. Korloff, head of their experimental surgery department, and links them.
b)    Marinette adds the nightclub and Mr. Saturday, the gravekeeper, but does not link them.
c)    Marian adds the orphanage/international adoption agency and Min, its administrator, and links them
d)    Angel adds her swanky downtown apartment and the crime boss/international antiquities thief.
3)    Draw either an oval or a circle for another location or secondary character. Link to your core character.
a)    Jason adds police chief M’bego, placing the police under his control
b)    Marinette adds the Graveyard at the crossroads for a potent Voodoo site
c)    Marian adds Claire, her ward from the orphanage.
d)    Angel adds her true love/accomplice/techie
4)    Link your core character to a different core character’s locations or characters or Draw another character or location linked to your core character
a)    Jason adds his rambling estate outside town.
b)    Marinette links to Jason’s Police Chief M’Bego
c)    Marian links to the crime boss, indicating a trusting relationship.
d)    Angel links to the graveyard, saying she visits dead allies there.
5)    Link two characters or locations your character is linked to
a)    Jason adds the tunnels linking the rambling estate to the medical college
b)    Marinette links Chief M’Bego to the nightclub, saying he visits there wearing a magical mask.
c)    Marian links Min to the crime boss, showing they are married, tightening the link between the two
d)    Angel links her accomplice to the crime boss,
6)    Link your core character to one of different core character’s locations or characters – a different one than prior – or Draw another character or location linked to your core character. This is your 8th character link.
a)    Jason adds Mr. Ice, his highly capable butler and Renfield who handles his domestic affairs
b)    Marinette adds the Ogham’s Hammer motorcycle gang
c)    Marian links to the motorcycle gang, sowing how they’ve been threatening her (obviously outside of Marinette’s control)
d)    Angel links to Jason’s rambling estate, showing where she robbed one of her artifacts from there.  
7)    Link one of your locations or characters to another locations or character, yours or someone else’s
a)    Jason links Dr. Korloff to Min, indicating how the good doctor is after Min’s blood.
b)    Marinette links Mr. Saturday to the Graveyard
c)    Marian links Min to the Orphange, hoping to use it as a safe space for her.
d)    Angel links her true love to the police chief, showing that they are father and son.
8)    Link your core character to one of the final core character’s locations or characters, or Draw another character or location linked to your core character. This is your 9th character link.
a)    Jason links to Angel’s swanky apartment building, showing that he owns it.
b)    Marinette links to the Crime Boss, indicating that they do business together.
c)    Marian links to Dr. Korloff, showing that she is suspiciously watching the good doctor, doubtless concerned about Min.
d)    Angel, concerned about her house now offering no protection against Jason adds the secret magically shielded hide out.
9)    Link any two locations, yours or others.
a)    Jason links Mr. ice to his Rambling Estate.
b)    Marinette links the motorcycle gang to the Crossroads Bar.
c)    Marian links Dr. Korloff to the Orphanage, either to set up a major future scene there or to exercise some control over the doctor.
d)    Angel links her true love to her hideout.

There, that covers everyone. We ended up with a nicely complicates series of plots that, when you add in monster of the week episodes, can easily take 100 issues of a comic to play out.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Earth 10 Rogues Gallery 5: Zatava

Rogues Gallery 5: Zatava

Zatava is an interesting case because she feels much more like the heroine from a Vertigo book – I just don’t picture her fighting a different magical villain every month in a magical punch-out. The solution was having three of the potential players (but not Kris, who is playing Zatava) make up characters (using Villains and Vigilantes for the random aspect) and then map their relationships using the Smallville system. This led me to formalize a stripped down Smallville r-map system that I’ll present here tomorrow and may see some use in other settings. In any event we ended up with a quartet of key magical players in the LA area city of Darkness Falls. This is the environment Zatava entered and is trying to work as the protector of, interacting with, balancing and playing off of the local power structure, with the occasional Monster of the Week.

Jason Dark

Darkness Falls was originally an African American community built on unincorporated land between several Sundown Towns. Originally derogatively mapped as Darkie Falls, this was where Black people lived and spent the night when the unofficial rules kicked them out of the surrounding towns at sunset. In the 1930’s Jason Dark moved there and through his influence in state politics took steps to make it a legal town and laid the foundations of what is now one of the country’s most prominent medical collages. Though there is significant revenue coming in from the LA commuters who now live in the integrated town Stoke College remains the bedrock of Darkness Falls’ finances. Jason Dark is still around to appreciate that, as he is a Vampire. This DC universes Vampires have their origins in the Arabian deserts, being creatures of wind and water that have thrown in their lot with dark forces. Jason Dark is one of these, but one whose connection to the dark forces is weak, in part because he eschews much of his power to avoid their influence. He can still drain the blood from a man, has inhuman reflexes and his size is completely under his control, changing in a gust of wind from the size of an insect to that of a bear, but that is all he allows himself. Otherwise he relies on a peerless intellect, centuries of understanding of human weaknesses, and magical artifacts to supplement his power. The most often used of these is a cloak of shadow stitched together with the essence of another Vampire that gives him several of his old abilities (flight, invisibility, becoming a shadow, summoning a fog) at no risk to himself. His other prize possession was a mirror that allowed astral travel, but that was lost some months back. The absence of demonic support means Jason’s unnatural state is not masked, and that gives him a repellent aspect to those without a magical background, so Jason always works through catspaws.


The owner of several bars, restaurants and nightclubs in Darkness Falls, this striking Haitian woman is the social force in Darkness Falls, having moved here with the first wave of entertainment types and opening a small bar. Twenty-five years later she owns or indirectly controls most venues in the city, though she knows she is still subordinate to Jason Dark (who acknowledges her as a near equal, but still uses her to distract others from his movements). Marinette is also a powerful Voudun, having made pacts with a half dozen Loa to grant her a variety of powers. She can call on them to act for her on other people or have them ‘ride’ her to directly grant her powers. These are most commonly manifested as telekinesis, extreme personal magnetism, hypnosis, emotion control, and rarely bursts of superhuman strength or combat prowess. She also has a magical artifact of her own -  a choker stolen years ago from the Sirens – that gives her powerful vocal abilities: she can unleash screams that will shatter walls, minds, or souls, mimic voices and make use of crude active sonar to see through walls and sense her environment.


The young woman Marian was rescued from somewhere in the world by the international adoption and child welfare agency Open Arms and was raised in their main orphanage in Darkness Falls. She developed an intense love of the orphanage, the organization and the community and has decided to make this place her home and someday transform it utterly unto a place not like anywhere else on this Earth. Being the seventh reincarnation of Nicholas Flaumel with an intuitive understanding of alchemy she could go anywhere, of course. Marian has a wide variety of magical spells and alchemical potions at her disposal (she is the European equivalent of Master Bai in terms of expertise), and favors those that produce solid matter from the air – she is able to create ice, snow, earth, and trees almost at will with potions secreted about her person. She is also damnably intelligent and strong willed, superhumanly so, if a little inexperienced. Marian is still consolidating her powers and has a very small power based in Darkness Falls compared to Jason and Marinette, limited to her ties to the orphanage and the charity scene, but she is young and with a scary amount of potential. Marinette is terrified of her and wants her dead and also wants not to engage her wraith, while Jason likely maneuvered her presence here for subtle reasons of his own.


Her name is a truth – she is an angel, one who fell voluntarily to spend a life with her mortal true love. That man is the son of the Darkness Falls chief of police, a hacker and thief. She has joined him in this pursuit, and appears to be in a long downward spiral from her former state of grace. Angel lives in a swanky high rise apartment in the center of Darkness Falls, working for the international artifact smuggler who is married to the woman who runs the Open Arms charity. Over the course of the series so far her love has broken with their boss and his father and is now in hiding in Angels magically shielded sanctum hidden somewhere in the city, while Angel ostentatiously keeps the attention of both the hunters on herself. Being made of the thoughts of God she has an array of powers – she can take the shape or powers of an creature in God’s kingdom, she is immune to harm from the physical world save for sheer brute force disrupting her body, she is superhumanly brilliant and charming, and a millennia in the Host has left her skilled with all physical combat. Her sanctum also contains a powerful artifact – a mirror that when gazed into will allow astral projection, so that she can travel the world without being seen or heard. She and her partner stole that from a manor house on the outskirts of town. No way that comes back to bite her. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Earth 10: Rogues Gallery 4, Firestorm

Firestorm’s Rogues Gallery is interesting the same way that Vigilante’s is – the new character bares so little background resemblance to the original that it’s hard to find links between them, but this one is even worse because we don’t even have the same motif as he is magic rather than science, Asian rather than American. Some of them are well worth saving.

Killer Frost

She’s the Firestorm villain as far as I’m concerned, so we need some version of her. This version of the ice maiden is Lila Shen, a young alchemist who had hoped to be Jai Bai’s pupil, but he saw an unredeemable emptiness in her soul. When she discovered that Bai had taken on Johnny in some capacity she set her mind on vengeance, creating the alchemical potions that unleashed that void within her, allowing her to generate endless amounts of cold and snow. (I’m not 100% sold on this because the Killer Frost origin of ‘hero rejected woman’s advances so she becomes an ice princess’ is a little too on the nose; must think on this more)

Bountiful Harvest

Bai’s actual assistant before he started the path to his ascension, Chang Fuhua left his master under good graces, but shortly thereafter was captured and brainwashed by Kobra and trained to mastery of kung fu skills. Fuhua was the leader of the assault that Johnny interrupted, where he and a cadre of Kobra’s brainwashed to mindlessness thugs were merged together into a single being. Since only Fuhua had any identity left those bodies have conformed to his features and personality, letting him split himself into multiple people, each possessing superior physical abilities and martial arts skills. Firestorm has used his purifying flame to break Kobra’s brainwashing once, but it didn’t stick. What Firestorm does not know is that the original Fuhau is directly in Kobra’s custody, where he can reverse Bai’s efforts to save him – this is a long term plot thread in the series. (This is obviously the new Multiplex, but I refuse to use that name as it’s dorky; anyway Bountiful Harvest hits the same notes as being the former partner turned enemy with duplication powers.)

The Hyena

A talking animal of the Chinese tradition, the Hyena is able to shift back and forth between hyena and various human forms, which can be either solid shape-shifting or illusions overlapping her shape, whichever works better (she can also create illusionary surroundings). She is able to speak in anyone’s voice in any shape she takes, and her voice can be extremely hypnotic and persuasive. She is a trickster first and foremost, pushing people to do foolish or unwise things, but she occasionally has flashes of mad passion – be it anger or ‘true love’ – that drive her to darker criminal behavior. Her nature shape is abnormally powerful for an animal her size, making her a credible threat to a  martial artist of Johnny’s caliber. In her first appearance she was romancing a friend of Johnny’s, and she’s more of a Johnny Lo villain than a Master Bai one.

David Lo Pan

Due to a licensing agreement with John Carpenter DC is able to use all of the characters from the classic Big Trouble in Little China, which means that David Lo Pan, the Three Storms, the Wing Kong and the Lords of Death. Johnny Lo actually has a history of fighting with the Lords of Death gang pre-Firestorm, and Master Bai is an old ally of Egg Chen. What more needs to be said? OK a little more, but these guys make great wixua villains and capture the furious martial arts energy that often infuses the Firestorm series.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Earth 10: Rogues Gallery 3: Vigilante

Rogues Gallery 3: Vigilante

Vigilante’s Rogue’s Gallery is a bit of a challenge as he didn’t have much of one in the comics. On the plus side this lets me tailor his rogues to match the new version of him, on the negative side there’s a little less connectivity. Still, I can rescue some of his old rogues thanks to the wonders of Wikipedia. (I also think that during his WWII adventures he absolutely need to have a sidekick in Stuff, the Chinatown Kid, who passed away a political leader of the Chinese community before the age of heroes.

The Dummy

This diminutive desperado has somehow acquired a copy of MacTaggart’s uncle’s notebooks, giving him access to the same genius that powered Adam’s resurrection and all of his electromagnetic gear. This makes the Dummy very dangerous indeed. Unfortunately shortly after their first encounter (when he was still an ordinary weapons manufacturer working for criminals) his attempt at self-healing went gloriously awry, reducing him in stature but increasing his density to that of hardwood, making him a human ventriloquist’s dummy. In this form he manages a small stable of criminals who use his advanced technology for crime. He’s doubly dangerous since he’s slightly more technogically adept than Adam, making him better able to adopt his uncle’s technologies.

The Rattler

Another western themed villain, the Rattler is Vigilante’s opposite number when it comes to cowboy skills, and has a definite edge over Adam in those skills. He’s a killer for hire, travelling across the west, and his trademark is using rubber bullets laced containing slivers of concentrated rattlesnake venom. While Vigilante has never been able to best him in a gunflight Adam’s technological and physical advantaged let him carry the day. Someday the Dummy and the Rattler will team up and that will be a dark day for the defender of liberty.

The Rainbow Man

This classic costumed villain operates across the American west pulling color themed crimes. He carries with him light and gas based devices, with the Red, Orange and Yellow pistol generating flames, lasers or blinding flashes while the Green, Blue, Indigo and Purple gasses change depending on the crime, but always tying to some common phrase or idiom (such as hallucinogenic purple haze, depression generating Blues, or something that generates a marijuana –fueled introspection called Mood Indigo). Like all obsessed theme villains he’s kind of a goober but surprisingly effective.

Dead Man’s Hand

This group of 5 card themed villains as existed in some configuration since the fateful day when Wild Bill Hickock was shot by Jack McCall on August 2nd, 1876. Hickock’s hand at the time was the ace of diamonds with a heel mark on it; the ace of clubs; the two black eights, clubs and spades, and the queen of hearts with a small drop of Hickock's blood on it – that drop of blood completed a dark ritual, binding spirits of lawlessness to those hands and humanity. Since then the Dead Man’s Hand has always reconfigured itself whenever the Vigilante has taken it apart, be it a gang of desperados, a motorcycle club, a group of dandified assassins or a dark riverboat magician who was enslaving peoples souls for gambling debts. In this case it is a quintet of actual super-villains, with the ace of clubs having a high tech energy-projecting staff, the ace of diamond having a flying ‘ace’ board that contains a variety of weapons (and acts as the teams transport), the eight of clubs being a martial artist able to make duplicates of himself, the eight of spades able to create and throw spades of pure solid darkness and the queen of hearts with mind and emotion control powers. This is a villain set that will definitely require the JAA’s help to permanently take down. (this is obviously the Earth 10 version of the Royal Flush Gang, but I like mine better).


Pitor Ivanovitch was born on February 2nd 1918, a day that never existed with the adoption of the Georgian calendar, this child of the Revolution was blessed by a kindly old grandmother in a forest hut who swore he would be on Earth for his 100th birthday. Fleeing the chaos in Mother Russia to the United States, where at the age of 18 he was unceremoniously killed in some mob violence and dropped in an unmarked grave. But as a member of the unhallowed dead he rose and has stalked the earth ever since, waiting for his 100th birthday and the end of his time. During that century he has raised up mob after mob to tear down society. He can be incredibly persuasive in leading mobs of the downtrodden. His undifferentiated anger sometimes leads him to embrace white supremacy, other times mobs of the homeless, or the mad. His only constants are directing the anger of the mob against civilization and the inability to die.

The Chainman

A recent edition to the Vigilante’s super-powered rogues’ gallery, the Chainman has constructed technology to the point of magic (perhaps under Brainiac’s influence?) incorporated into collars and chains and manacles that force those wearing them to operate under Asimov’s laws. High tech slavery, with no risk of revolt. Already too much of the world’s slave trade is under his control, and he is extending it, bit by bit into the United States. He will find that attracting the attention of the defender of liberty will have been his greatest mistake.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Earth 10: Rogues Gallery 2, Superman

Superman is in two books a month, and therefore has a larger than normal rogues gallery but no Framing tokens. The Superman comic focuses on his life in Metropolis, while Action comics covers his adventures in time, space and around the globe.

"Superman" Comic villains:

Bruno Mannheim and Intergang: A persistent and growing problem in Metropolis, backed by advanced technologies of unknown (to Superman, at any rate) origin. Readers are aware that Brainiac has managed to insert technology into the brilliantly benevolent mind of Professor Emily Hamilton, technology which manifests as a separate villainous personality: The Atomic Skull. This alter-ego hides its existence from Professor Hamilton, and has created a secret alien weapons facility in a hyperspace pocket from which she anonymously supplies Mannheim and others as part of some as-yet-unrevealed Brainiac master plan. The Atomic Skull has not yet directly confronted the Man of Steel.

Mxyzptlk: the imp has twice been banished by Superman's cleverness, but it's only a matter of time before the enigmatic entity returns...

Minutia: A product of intergang's technology who has since moved off on her own, minutia can shrink things. Anything. A lot. On one level this lets her have a variety of high tech tools and weapons at dust size on her body so that she can unlimber almost any gadget she needs, but that pales before her ability to really screw with things. There are plenty of plots where whole scientific complexes are missing because she shrunk them and took them. Needing to escape Superman she lobs out a school bus full of kids that had gone missing earlier that day. An entire district of metropolis is held hostage under a drop of water. Superman has to fight his way out of an anthill, or is trapped between the molecules of an electromagnet.

Recluse: This spider-themed villain has a grudge against the daily planet, or superman, or both. His four artificial spider arms are kind of a poor man's doc ock, but the top two fire darts or clouds or sprays of varying toxicities of spider venom (that might even be enough to hurt superman if he ingest it or gets it into his bloodstream) and the bottom two fire a webbing like glue too strong for Superman to break without extreme effort. He's the villain who shows up and inadvertently threatens Clark's secret ID, because everyone in the Planet officers gets hit why isn't he effected? Or he and Lois get glued their hands together during the initial assault and he has to resolve the situation without giving up the secret ID. Or Recluse lays his hands on one grain of Kryptonite and glues it to Superman.

Remus: the requisite Magic villain, Remus is the ultimate cursed werewolf. Fast, strong and tough enough for his magical claws to hurt Superman, he appeared once every full moon to hunt Metropolis. After their first two encounters Superman managed to discern his blameless secret identity, Hunter Moon, and work out a scientific cure that seemed to work, but now Hunter turns into Remus on just the 13th full moon of the year ten times more powerful than he was before, able to slash Superman's flesh and Hunter has gone into hiding, the magical curse masking him from Super-senses. If Clark is going to find him again it will take real investigative reporting. Like Mxyzptlk he is now an occasional problem, but a very real one.

Chimera: an early and now permanently defeated Superman villain. A criminal mastermind who worked independently from Intergang, Jackie Reynolds, ran 'the worst gang of Suicide Slum', and was renowned as being 'the toughest guy' in Metropolis until Superman showed up. He was always legally protected from his crimes, but the need to best Superman overwhelmed him and he partook of with ever more bizarre mutation devices and serums giving him an array of one-off powers (kinda like Jimmy Olson) until in Superman #40 he takes them all at once has a massive blowout battle with Superman that ends with Reynold's heart giving out.

Lex Luthor, philanthropist, billionaire family man, and technological genius, was mayor of Metropolis and a key ally of the superheroes during the 2012 crisis. His wife and daughter died as part of the massive collateral damage during one of Superman's battles of that fateful year. He (and his equally brilliant teenage son) are consumed by anger and resentment over this. Superman is becoming aware of Lex's vengeful machinations (when he determined that the Metallo cyborg had previously been Luthor's brother-in-law and head of security), he has no legally actionable evidence, and is somewhat conflicted about how best to expose/deal with this threat without causing further strain to Lex's son and the still-recovering Metropolis community.

Action Comic Villains:

Brainiac: This hyper-intellect is dispersed across a network of almost unfathomably advanced AI technology. Its interactions with (mostly) humanoid sentients began as a learning subroutine, but Brainiac's serial manifestations in green humanoid form have led to an "addiction" for a single humanoid perspective and emotional personality. Superman has met several of these Brainiac avatars, and each has had a slightly different appearance, agenda, and demeanor (although all have been manipulative of humanoid life and disdainful of anything that might be considered morality).

Bizarro: Pushing the extreme limits of his speed to return to Earth from a distant corner of space, Superman found himself in a distorted, somewhat nightmarish reflection of his adopted planet, complete with a similarly mad version of himself as its champion. This Bizarro being was belligerent and irrational, if not exactly evil, and his following of Superman back to "reality" nearly ended in interplanetary disaster as he attempted to "fix" things in terms of his otherworldly sensibilities. He is banished and his odd world sealed off for now, but his raging vows to return and "save" Superman and this galaxy have the Man of Steel convinced that it is only a matter of time before Bizarro finds a way to return.

Mongul/War World: Superman's encounter with an expansionist, militaristic, interplanetary empire led to his capture and gladiatorial enslavement, and only his defeating of the Emperor Mongul in single combat was enough to buy a decree that Earth and its neighboring systems would be spared. How long this decree will be honored is uncertain, and the Man of Steel has countered several "unsanctioned" actions by Mongul's "rogue commanders."

Cryana Cordave: The Ice Crow is the queen of her race and committed to making the last of the Kryptonians her bride (and assimilating his DNA into her childline. Self-centered, very powerful and unwilling to take no for an answer she spotted Superman after his Warwold incident and has used her super-powered royal guard, teleportation technology, and other things to force the Kryptonian into her presence so that she can pull him more permanently into her orbit. Her family line has incredibly potent ice generation powers, and while they claimed the throne through use of that power Superman has to admit that her world is beneficently ruled, meaning that the tactics that world on Warworld won’t work here. (This is a sideways homage to Lilandra and the Imperial Guard, though Cryana is much more personally powerful and her Royal Guard is less powerful and versatile than the Legionesque Imperial Guard. Still, they have about a dozen members, any of which can show up to cause Superman grief.

Wang Mang: the man who would, for a while, be an emperor of China foresaw the forces that would lead to the defeat of his planned cultural retrenchment – especially after an encounter with the young Man of Steel – and developed a long term plan to reach his ultimate goals. A very long term plan. As in, his plan will not see fruition until 2030. But the tools of this ultimate conspiracy have woven themselves into every corner of human society, even as one splinter group of it, the cult of Kobra, makes all the flash and noise. Superman will occasionally – usually when travelling through time but not exclusively so – encounter some centuries in the making plan or trap, and will also jump back to the beginning of the common era to directly confront Wang, whose powers rest entirely on persuasion and plotting. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Earth 10: Metaphors and Comic Books

There are a couple of other things about the characters that I want to touch on.


First is that each one of the characters as a metaphor – some aspect of American life that they embody. This is a narrative device more than anything else, but it takes the place of ‘alignment’ in the classic super hero universe. (Another way of replacing alignment is having each hero represent a certain part of a group psyche, but everyone being a metaphor is a bit bigger than that, and the JAA is a game of big things).

In case you’re wondering what I’m talking about here, the idea of the metaphor is “being a superhuman is like being X”, with X variable for the setting. In the X-Men books it went from being a mutant is like being a teenager’ to ‘being a mutant is like being a member of a minority’ to, the Bryan Singer movies, ‘being a mutant is like being gay’. The 1980’s Teen Titans books are an even better example, where being a super-hero was like being in a parent child relationship, and everyone had a different flavor of it: Cyborg’s scientist dad so wanted him to become an engineer that he literally turned his son into a machine; Raven is the ultimate child of an abusive father; each of the characters can be mapped on a particular parent/child dynamic.

In any event, in this game being a member of the JAA is like being an American (as it should be, otherwise they’re just the Justice Alliance). Vigilante embodies the reconstruction amendments: he has spent 150 years fighting for voting rights and equal protection under the law. It’s what he does, it’s who he is.
Firestorm is the question of integration: His fusion of an older, foreign born Asian cultural archetype with a younger, native born, barely tied to his parent’s culture epitomizes the struggle to keep the cultural identity while embracing the American experience.
The Question is the obsession with Conspiracy Theory: you can’t understand the 20th century without understanding the nature of conspiracy theory, the need to find connections and deeper truths.
Aquaman is the spirit of exploration – as with Star Trek where the aliens were really about human problems Aquaman is exploring a whole other realm but the aliens are humans.

Jason is still noodling on Superman’s metaphor right now (he’s been a Populist, an Immigrant, the Secular Humanist Savior, a Reagan Democrat and various other things depending on when it was). Secular Humanist Savior may come back, or the spirit of compromise, or Generation X.

Comic Book Titles
The other idea I’m playing with here is what comics the hero is appearing in that aren’t the Justice Alliance. These sorts of team books have heroes who have their own books and those who don’t, where those who don’t get more screen time and subplots because this is the only place they’re showing up. This is why in the Avengers we spend so much time with the Wasp and Ant Man relationship, or the Vision Scarlet Witch Quicksilver Wonder Man dynamic. It’s not as visible in Morrison’s run on JLA where six of the seven core heroes have their own book or books, but it was very evident in the Silver Age were the Hawks, Elongated Man, Zatanna and Red Tornado kept their subplots confined to JLA.

To capture that vibe in this game, as well as to bring in some more narrative mechanical ideas, is that players have scene framing chips that let them pull away from the GM’s planned plot (yes, I’m old school enough to still have one of those) for subplot scenes with another character. Given that these mechanics are designed to produce single session games most times I want to be able to limit the number of subplots kicking around to avoid subplot kudzu, so there can’t be a ton of these.

My original idea was that if the player chose to have their character appear in one or more other books they got extra character points to build them but fewer subplot chips – they have more potential spotlight for planned scenes but less spotlight time for subplots. The problem is this runs counter to the pretty smooth hero point mechanic that I already have, where the more powerful characters become more tightly constrained by negative hero points. That makes scenario plotting a ton easier and I refuse to give it up.

Since it’s a general reality that some players love emotionally powerful subplots and some see them as either awkward or a distraction from play we’re going to build on that. The player decides how many books their hero is in every month, and that does two things: First, It broadens their rogues’ gallery: More books equals more bad guys (6 per book, 3 or so callbacks and 3 new), and more things for the GM to draw on or call back to. Having your villains show up as part of the plot increases your spotlight time almost by definition. Second, tt determines their subplot tokens.

If your hero ONLY appears in JAA you start with one initiating token and one joining token. You are allowed to play your initiating token and frame a scene that includes anyone who has joining tokens left to spend. If your hero also stars in their own title you have a joining token but not an initiating one, and can be part of one other character’s subplot. If your hero stars in 2 or more books a month he doesn’t have either, and can’t/won’t be pulled into subplots – he’s the guy who is so busy he is never hanging around the base

If there aren’t any heroes with initiating tokens remaining then either you have no subplots or two or more players can initiate simultaneously with their joining tokens, sharing the scene framing and having a quick interpersonal scene.

Since this is entirely player driven I’m not stating anything about the starting heroes – if you have a group of players who all love subplots then none of them have their own books and they look like the Detroit era JLA. If everyone wants just pulse pounding action with no subplots then everyone is in their own book or books and there are no initiating tokens and few joiners, which looks like Morrison era JLA. If it’s an even mix then you’re in the Silver Age team where we watch Red Tornado muse about his humanity to the Hawks who worry about losing their culture white Zatanna starts dating the recently widowed Flash. It all depends on what your table dynamic is like. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Earth 10: Getting to Now

Several of the key things I want from this campaign are a sense of the history that got the heroes to where they are as well as some of the combined openness and access to old ideas that comes from the DC Universe. The heroes may repeat from Earth 2 to Earth 1, but only the biggest villains do. So let’s define the biggest villains and come up with new ones that are either honestly new or radically re-imagined from their old names. I also don’t want to do issue by issue re-creations, so I’m backing away from original ideas of having the JAA form due to aliens suspiciously like the Parralaxians appear (or having Hitler summon Valkyries to kill FDR, which is just AWESOME as an origin for the JSA). Let’s try something new. Extrapolating from Earth 1 and Earth 2 it looks like the teams of heroes form 1000 days after the appearance of Superman, more or less, so the team forms in August of 2011; since we’ve established the new team lineup occurs right after Calendar Man’s Mayan Apocalypse story that means we’re on issue 18. Let’s take a quick look at what the trade paperbacks would look like for those issues

Book 1: Come Together, Right Now (issues 1-6)

This is the non-arc for issues 1-6. We have a series of individual stories where the team isn’t really a team yet. They grate on each other’s nerves, don’t work together smoothly and every issue involves them splitting up into three smaller teams of two or three to resolve smaller crises and then coming together to handle the big issue. All of the villains are unique to the JAA,

Issue 1 (Aug 11) The Horror of the Hodag: the heroes meet and fight in pairs against the devices of Hephaestus Odysseus Daedalus Achilles Gunner, aka Dr. Hodag, a master inventor who plans to conquer the world with his unstoppable war machines (read: Giant Robots) that are powered by a ‘unbound energy’. Once they defeat their paired menaces all find a way to Dr. Hodag’s Wisconsin base where they are trapped in a unbound energy force field and have to work together to escape and capture Hodag. Once it’s done they exchange numbers.

Issue 2 (Sept 11) Bleeding Kansas: Superman’s first stab at pulling these people into a team is dealing with an extreme weather event in the Midwest, similar to the tornados that actually struck in April 2011. These are unnatural and generated by the Blood Tornado, a ‘wind vampire’. The alert comes out, the team assembles and try to do rescue work only to face smaller dust/blood devils that fall pretty simply, while the fight against the Blood Tornado is a big fight.

Issue 3 (Nov 11) The Assembled World: the heroes first ‘official’ team meeting is interrupted with them being warped to a distant world/time/dimension by Krellak, the scientist of an insectoid race who is desperately searching for someone powerful enough to save his world from whatever is eating away at the fringes. Due to the weird physics of the place everyone can fight and move in space, but it clear they can’t win… until one of the heroes grasps that the world is a computer-generated pocket dimension made by a piece of software. They are able to stabilize the code from the inside while Superman is able to reach the real world Silicon Valley programmers in time to keep the computer from being shut down.

Issue 4  (Dec 11) Dominion: right on the heels of last issue The JAA (less Superman) exit from the Assembled World to find Earth entirely paralyzed. Everyone moved themselves to a safe position and is now just standing there. Kanjar Ro’s gamma gong has mind controlled the entire planet and only they are free for not having been present at the time, and Ro is harvesting their brainwave energy to power his weapons for an entirely different space war. The heroes split up to a) free Superman by entering his mind via the Green Lantern and b) outwit Ro and destroy his devices. Humanity barely remembers the loss of the entire day, but it does spur the US Govt to officially recognize the group.

Issue 5 (Jan 12): Ghost Stores: The team sets up their new HQ in what turns out to be the Overlook hotel of super-hero bases, with spirits present there that mess with the heroes heads, toss them into other dimensions, possess them and otherwise mess with them until Zatava can be brought in to help put them down. The issue ends with the entire building disappearing and Superman gaveling the meeting to order in t eback room of a local steakhouse.

Issue 6 (Feb 12) Teamwork: The newly officially recognized JAA has a charity/PR gig ‘completing’ against Kyle Lawrence, famed former Olympian turned baseball and basketball player. Amazingly he begins beating them – out swimming Aquaman, out-running Flash, etc. – as he is draining their powers via a scavenged piece of Kanjar Ro’s brainwave energy drainer, so that they all meet ‘in the middle (the heroes lose 1 AP, he matches their new ratings plus a smidge). He then goes on a rampage, driven mad with power as the Sportsmaster, and the team has to bring him down together. Since Lawrence didn’t realize what was happening (and he loses the powers afterwards) the whole thing is billed as part of the show and the team moves forward.

Book 2: Little Terrors

This book is a series of 2 parters that follow the same sort of strategy (problems that require splitting up to resolve, then back together for the solution) but we spread them over two issues with a cliffhanger in the middle and add in some inter-team sub plots. I’m going to really quick and dirty some plots here:

Issues 7-8 (Mar – April 12) Catastrophic Crash: A coal mine collapse, a potential nuclear meltdown, the capsizing of an oil tanker on the coast all are the work of the Catastrophe Twins, who are trying to corner the US energy market by fomenting panic and snapping up stock in the aftermath. Their own powers of super-feline abilities (for one) and probability manipulation (for the other) let them hold off the team for a while until once they are located.

Issues 9-10 (May-June 12): The Prince of the Power of the Air: a malevolent demonic force alters the nature of flight around Atlanta, forcing the JAA to engage in a massive number of high end rescues as planes are falling out of the sky near the Hartsfield airport. Once the planes are safely brought down it turns out their passengers and crew have become zombie-like agents of evil. The JAA has to track down Deacon Dark, the evil wizard who put these plans into motion for unknown ends.

Issues 11-12 (July-August 12): Invasion of the Body Swappers: the JAA receive an emergency request from Aquaman, but when they get there nothing’s wrong. Actually Aquaman has been replaced by robot of Dr. Hodag’s (who has escaped from jail) that is able to hit the heroes with a ‘swapping’ attack that teleports them to Hodag’s base while replacing them with a robot. Eventually the whole team is captured but ‘escapes’ only to discover that the entire city has been replaced with Hodag’s robots. Actually this is another layer of the prison designed to mess with them, but when they escape they are able to foil Hodag’s plan before he can implement it, saving the US Government.

Book 3: The Mayan Apocalypse (Issues 13-17)

This five issue run is the first time we have a long story arc that would vibe like the Grant Morrison JLA with a frenetic worldwide crisis. This involves the Calendar Man harnessing the power of the Mayan Apocalypse and there’s lots of disasters, shifted time, dinosaur attacks, people being wiped out of the timeline and other massive stuff. At least one hero made a sacrifice to stop things (call it Flash hurled through time and as to find a way back unless something happens) and the JAA is temporarily disbanded.

For example, let’s take a look at what we might do for Green Lantern villains. I’m picking GL because no one is playing her out of the group, she is really different in origins from the prevalent Hal Jordan one and because overall the GL rogues gallery is a little thin.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Earth 10: Proof of Concept

As I mentioned, I ran a proof of concept game for the high-powered DC Heroes game (and really, is there any other kind? it's sort of the point of DC Heroes). This is taking place on Earth 10 in which the classic DC Heroes first appeared to the public in late 2008 with Superman showing up in Metropolis. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are pretty much the same but the other heroes may or may not be.

In today's quick session we nailed down that on Earth 10 it's the Justice Alliance of America (JAA), and its early 2013. The original JAA lineup was shattered by the Calendar Man's harnessing of the Mayan Apocalypse. Superman has taken it on himself to reform the JAA, and his initial two recruits were Vigilante (for his unbreakable morals, detective skills and government contacts) and Firestorm (for his raw spiritual power - Supers just learned of his weakness to magic in the Mayan Apocalypse and wants some strong magical types on his side). The new JAA HQ is a submerged base in the Gulf of Mexico. Superman built a structure there as a watch-base with Kryptonian science when the Deepwater Horizon accidentally awoke a mass of kaiju in 2010. It is serving as the core of their new high tech HQ - when we see out heroes Vigilante is upgrading our communications gear and Firestorm is transmuting raw materials for Superman's expansion of the base. 

The plot itself involved the appearance of several alien ships in the solar system, the lead of which disgorged Terra Man (once again a space cowboy, complete with one six-shooter armed with dwarf star matter, one that linked to a star's corona and his faster-than-light winged horse). When Superman investigated TM's entry into Metropolis Terra Man bush-wacked him, pinning him under dwarf star material bullets so he could soloiquize a bit about his origins and plan to sell Metropolis as a zoological preserve of humans before 'what was coming to Earth showed up (cue ominous foreshadowing)'. Superman tunneled his way out from under the super-dense material with his heat vision, but TM had disappeared. 

Vigilante and Firestorm arrived then (we hypothesized that the base has Kryptonian wormhole technology that gives a boost to everyone's travel speed to deploy them around the western hemisphere faster - the faster characters still get there first but we never have to wait for Vigilante to catch up on his motorcycle). Vigilante says he knew of Terra Man back in the 1870's - TM and his dad were desperados facing apprehension who were abducted by a UFO instead (well, TM was abducted, his dad died in the UFO’s exhaust). That's when TM reappeared with his gang of, well, more hims. Superman and Firestorm engaged the multiple TMs while Vigilante took a sniper position and analyzed their opponent(s). Everyone was holding back until Vigilante discerned that these were robots and took one out with his Lightning Shotgun.

Once the truth was revealed Firestorm and Vigilante made short work of the machines while Superman raced around Metropolis to remove Terra Man's bomb/force field generators from the island of New Troy's 13 bridges and tunnels, working at super speed as he had just seconds before their detonation. The real Terra Man again disengaged his cloaking device (well, cloaking Duster) and activated a dozen more of his robots when Vigilante shot the hat off his head, breaking his cybernetic control of the robots. The two western-idiom supers had a quick draw contest which Vigilante won, shooting TM's pistols out of his hands. Firestorm, meanwhile, played tag with Nova the Space horse until he could touch it, using his spiritual powers to exorcize the harsh 'breaking' of the noble beasts soul. The beast turned on its former master, knocking him near senseless, and a knuckle-bruising blow from Vigilante finished the job, sending TM off the roof and right into Superman's grasp. 

Superman, as a duly recognized agent of the city of Metropolis and the state of Delaware (no, seriously, that's where Metropolis is, you can look it up) took Terra Man into custody, and Nova the space horse returned to his herds racing across the galactic plains. 

Not exactly weighty stuff, but suitably goofy and cosmic to fit the tone I wanted to hit. Logan totally got the vibe of Vigilante being the skills and research PC who analyzes the problem while his allies keep it busy, and Jason clearly understood that Superman would naturally be drawn away from the fight to handle 'bigger' threats to normal people. All told a satisfactory proof of concept. Now to refine things a bit. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Earth 10: Runners Up

There will ultimately be one more character when Nick builds someone, but I have no idea who that will be. As for the old Facebook thing, there were several other good ideas that people kicked into Facebook that, for various reasons, I ended up not using, at least not right away.

“Kamandi, now the Last Man on Earth, arrives on Earth 10 via a retroengineered temporal Boom Tube scavanged from the wreckage of an ancient battle with Darkseid. In his post-apocalyptic wanderings he has uncovered evidence that his world's destruction was caused by an escalated conflict between the Justice League and an as-yet-unnamed foe (later revealed to be the previously mentioned Darkseid), but Kamandi places the responsibility squarely on the "heroes'" shoulders. He has brought Dr. Canus, the alien Pyra, the Tiger Army, and alien/post-apocalyptic tech with him in an effort to de-power and otherwise halt Earth 10's heroes from destroying the world.” – Chant

“Martian Manhunter: a superpowered post-human from a future terraformed Mars, dragged back through time by a laboratory accident to the present, where he continues his task of fighting evil. His knowledge of history (i.e. the present day) is spotty, due to the distance between his own era and our present -- and due to amnesia caused by the time-jump which brought him here. Consequently he sometimes recognizes names of people as significant, but can't always tell why.” – James

“Captain Comet would have all the gadget trappings of a sci-fi hero -- ray gun, jetpack and the mental abilities of a man from the future. He'd be an elder statesmen type hero from one of the prior generations. Basically what if Buck Rogers was Captain America.

“OMAC would be a meme-virus soldier complex. Think Midnighter as Captain Universe.” – Daniel

“Sometime in 2011, Brazilian foresters stumble across a mysterious woman deep within the Amazon Jungle. She reveals that she is from the legendary city of El Dorado, a hidden city which is thousands of years ahead of the rest of the world in terms of technology. Unbeknownst to the citizens of Earth, she has been sent by the city to see if the outside world is ready to meet with the citizens of the technocratic society peacefully and to deem whether they are "responsible" enough to handle any of the incredible technology that El Dorado holds within its depths. She is equipped with technology that gives her abilities that most un-augmented people can only dream of: flight, extreme reflexes, strength... as well as an unique brain implant that allows her to see if people are telling her the truth or not through analysis of their bodily reactions and brain waves. The explorers call her "A Mulher Maravilhosa", and the rest of the world comes to know her as "The Wonder Woman."” – Emily

(I would so totally use that one except it on the surface jettisons the Hellenistic Matriarchy that is as essential to Wonder Woman as Krypton and Kansas are to Superman. It might get tweaked a little….)

"Batman: During the "cocaine cowboys" gang wars of the 1980s, Thomas and Martha Wayne were hit by stray gunfire. Their son Bruce was raised by court-appointed guardians who parked him in a series of boarding schools. Wayne eventually went to law school and joined the FBI. His efforts to fight Gotham City's pervasive organized crime and government corruption ultimately failed, and Wayne himself was kicked out of the Bureau as a result of political pressure and a frame-up. So Wayne turns vigilante to root out the city's entrenched gangs. This version takes Bats back to his roots: a masked crimefighter who is himself an outlaw. We lose the inexhaustible Wayne Corp. wealth and the endless gadgets. Instead, Wayne flirts with crime himself, both by cultivating Mob ties in his public identity, and by making temporary alliances in gang wars as the mysterious Bat-Man. In effect he's playing an endless and ongoing version of Red Harvest. The stories can focus on the compromises Wayne makes with evil in order to fight evil.” – James

“"Billy Batson, Agent of SHAZAM!": Placed in foster care when his parents disappeared, young Billy Batson became convinced that he alone could find them and ran away. Living on the streets, he spent two years following various clues, eventually leading him to the discovery of a hidden access tunnel in a subway depot. The tunnel led to an underground complex, equipped with a variety of arcane technology and decorated with strange pictograms depicting what appeared to be scenes from the mythologies of various ancient religions. There he encountered the complex's sole inhabitant, a white-haired gentleman calling himself Mentor.

They had time to do little more that exchange introductions when the complex was attacked by a squad of heavily armed men, led by a thug calling himself Ibac. Ibac used superhuman strength to damage several vital support beams of the complex, causing the complex to begin to collapse upon itself as Ibac and his men fled. Although Mentor appeared strangely unworried by the attack, when it seemed as though he was about to be crushed by falling debris, Billy heroically pushed him out of the way, taking the brunt of impact himself. As Billy lay mortally wounded, Mentor slipped a golden ring from his finger onto Billy's hand and whispered a word into the boy's ear, instructing him to repeat it. With his dying breath, Billy said, "Shazam!"

Billy suddenly found himself... somewhere else. He was a passenger in his own body, except that it wasn't really his own body. It was someone else's body, that of an heroically proportioned adult in a bright red and gold costume. Billy watched through the man's eyes, unable to effect any action, as he smashed his way out of the fallen complex and used superhuman speed to track down Ibac and his men, still fleeing the scene. He watched as the red-clad man engaged Ibac in HTH combat, a battle of titans in which the red-clad man was ultimately victorious, banishing the "dark energy" from Ibac, transforming him into a little man named Printwhistle. The red-clad man flew back and rescued Mentor. The two exchanged a strangely emotional farewell, then the red-clad man said "Shazam" again. Billy Batson reappeared in his own body, fully healed.

Mentor explained that he was a member of the ancient Order of SHAZAM, a mystical society dedicated to protecting the innocent throughout the universe, "ours, and many others." The Order's name is an acronym derived from the names of its founders, the six Guardians of Eternity, who operate out of "Destiny's Garden, on the Fifth Moon of the Fourth World." The Order operates on every inhabited planet in the universe, "except a few totally consumed in shadow." The universe is divided into cosmic sectors and within each sector is a single powerful champion. Since even a Captain cannot patrol thousands of worlds each world has a single member of the Order with a magical ring which summons the Captain to their world. While the Captain is present, the ring-bearer's body is transported to the garden of the Guardian's, in a protective healing stasis, while his mind and spirit cohabiate, albeit passively, in the body of the Captain.

Mentor explained that he was Earth's ring-bearer, and the red clad man was Marvel, Captain of the cosmic sector in which Earth resides. He was in the process of using the ring to summon the Captain when Billy pushed him aside, and placed the ring on Billy's finger to save his life through the healing factor of the mystic stasis. It was a gambit that might have failed, as the ring can only be wielded by one who is "pure of heart and spirit, uncorrupted by shadow, without fear, a beacon of hope." Mentor had lured Billy there as a possible successor and to reveal that Billy's parents were also members of the Order. They disappeared while investigating a possible link between Dr. Sivana, a brilliant geneticist and bio-weapons engineer suspected of engaging in illegal human experimentation, and Teth-Adam, "President For Life" of Qurac and known supporter of an international terror group called, strangely, The Seven Deadly Enemies Of Man” - Christian

Friday, February 19, 2016

Earth 10: The Flash

The Flash

For various reasons this one is being kept pretty simple. The only change is that this version of the Flash is working on private spaceflight technology as part of the whole Chemist thing. I like the image of building vehicles that are slower than the powers, plus the JLA needed some sort of space ship source. Anyway the name was chosen to be gender neutral, since I wanted to leave options open. Powers are, well, Flash powers, though I did opt to include the Dispersal (went back and forth on that).

Justice Alliance of America
The Flash
Secret ID
Tracy Broom is a chemist and physicist working on next generation spaceflight in the private market
Tracy Broom



100 lbs








Hero Pts


V. Factor
Super Speed

Run at mach 44, add to initiative, use for Dex when acting, do 34 hours work in 4 seconds
Air Control

Generate winds, vaccums, updrafts, etc.

Can vibrate through solid objects, add to Body to resist damage

Gets a recovery check every 4 rounds.


V. Factor

Investigate (Science)

Invention (Science)

Vehicles (all)


Earth 2
Jay Garrick is a chemist exposed to hazardous chemicals, he gains super-speed and becomes a hero
Earth 1
Barry Allen is a police scientist struck by electrified chemicals, he gains super-speed and becomes a hero
Earth 9
Wally West, the Kid Flash to Barry Allen with the same origin, takes on the mantle when Barry dies in the Crisis. Jay Garrick WWII's Flash.
Earth 10
Tracy Broom, an inventor using a family fortune to fund X-Prize spaceflight, was exposed to exotic chemicals and gained super-speed!