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  1. Since the attempted Grue invasion in the 1950's, and indeed for longer than proposed human history, extraterrestrial life has come to Earth to hide, to escape, to begin anew. Some become quiet, anonymous members of human or pre-human civilization, some rise to become brave heroes or dire villains, and yet others choose to exploit their unique set of circumstances for profit. Of this last is the Black Hole Gang, a band of exiles, fugitives and wanderers who combined their talents, resources and knowledge to become the Sol system's most powerful interstellar crime syndicate. Earth is home to many rare materials, unique wonders and kinds of life unknown in the wider galaxy. It is also poor, unadvanced by stellar civilization standards and largely ignorant of the world outside the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, let alone of the galaxy beyond Sol's orbit. The 'Terrans' know that alien life exists, some of it is hostile, and it comes from somewhere science has yet to determine. Sometimes the Atom Family or Freedom League return with some snippet of information about extrasolar life, but for the most part you can tell the average Terran anything and they'll probably believe it. That's the gravy train the Black Hole Gang runs on, and they are in no mood to lose their spot to the bigger dogs outside the Developmental Quarantine Zone, in which Terrans remain so helpfully unaware and outsiders are given the boot before they divulge too much. Starting in 1979, when the three leaders of the Gang arrived on the Pacific coast fleeing their various problems, they were amazed to stumble upon an entire hidden population of non-humans and even non-Terrans living in and around Emerald City. Learning from them of the mysterious Chamber that had gathered so much wealth and power into the city, using it as a base and laboratory for secret, total domination, the trio sought out the human crime collective and offered their unique skills and contacts in return for a share of the profits and certain escape from Earth if things ever got too bad. Nobody has ever justly accused the Big Brain of being closed-minded or prejudiced, and he accepted their offer. Even agreeing not to ever read their minds without their express permission. Since then, the Black Hole Gang has made a killing smuggling living things, technology and raw materials to and from Earth. After the opening of the extra-Plutonian wormhole, their business has boomed and their importance has steadily increased on both sides of the stellar divide. There are times, even, when they think of the Earth as home. Though for them, home has always and only meant a safe place to hide. Leadership: The original three who started the Gang remain its leaders, titled 'Star's. In order of age: Khorr'Tang, Star of Execution & Acquisition Oversight. When someone needs to be eliminated, or something valuable must be taken, this orange-hued Lor career-diplomat has both the savvy and ruthlessness to get the job done quickly and quietly. A secret devotee of the Katanarchist cult, she's shown tremendous aptitude for personal combat, stealth and mysticism alongside her hard-won people skills and knack for the perfect heist. She sees the Quarantine Zone and neighbouring stars as her future personal fiefdom, has spent considerable resources on building bases through the sector and will stop at nothing to protect her 'investment'. Of the Stars she thinks about, and thus hates, Terrans the least. Gowlim-D, Star of Personnel & Resource Management. The handling of currency, recruitment and care of employees and ensuring everything keeps moving is placed in the hands of this ice-blue Zultasian. Managing the Star Khan's treasures and ensuring every conquered world payed its tribute in full and on time makes coordinating an interstellar gang almost child's play. Heavily-augmented with cybernetics, she can transmit and receive information across the Orion Arm and stores most of the data involving the Black Hole Gang in caches scattered throughout the local sector. From observation posts and the sensors of craft across the void of space, she pulls the strings and leads the dance. As a former Khanate noble she loathes all non-Zultasians as her inferiors. Toyota Corolla, Star of Negotiations & Asset Development. The Gang is in constant need of new contacts, technology and field information. In the hulking and solid rogue Grue, they have a master of the underworld arts who fulfils these roles with ease. Formerly the nameless chief scientist for the Meta-Mind, Corolla now adopts any identity they wish from across a dizzying repository of stolen memories. They make the deals, form the alliances, design the latest bio-tech gadgets and keep Terran and galactic law-enforcement off the scent. It's a never-ending workload, but Corolla remains up to the task. After centuries devoted to one thing at a time, the explosion of possibilities is intoxicating. As the Star who deals with people the most, they individually hate all Terrans. Membership: The galaxy is full of desperate people, and even before the Incursion War there was widespread corruption and crime across the fringes of the Lor Republic and unrest across the Stellar Khanate. The Grue Unity, similarly, relying on unbroken psychic links to maintain order, has regularly lost control of Grue at the edge of its influence, ironically the cause of several invasions blamed on the Meta-Mind. As a result of this, displacement by the Communion and the arrival of the many refugee species from the neighbouring arm, the Black Hole Gang has a reliable stable of tens of billions of beings across known space. Their lowest number is by far human and Cryptid agents on Earth. However, most of these star warriors are common criminals. Little different from the average Terran driven to crime by circumstance or inclination, they provide in quantity and ubiquity what they lack in firepower and technical skill. The research assistant siphoning funds and data to pay for an expensive habit, the indebeted merchant captain reluctantly adding a little extra cargo, the soldier looking to make an accuser disappear. The Black Hole Gang's reach is only into the lowest levels of galactic society, but their grasp is unerring and unyielding. Most membera use the Criminal stat block, with non-human members adding their species characteristics. Equipment rare on Earth, such as blasters and spacecraft, are in common use by them. Methodology: Like their name(chosen purely because it was a common idea), the Black Hole Gang works to bend everything toward itself, unseen yet irresistible. Usually the Gang works in disguise as another organization, from governments to other criminals to even masquerading as Praetorians or Star Knights or superheroes. As well, despite their vast reach and resources, they take care to never work in bulk, or amounts that are difficult to move and hide. One cloning tank, one psychic mutant, one piece of magical art, the Black Hole Gang never gets greedy and takes pains to never over-extend its narrowly-limited power. That aside they will do anything, absolutely anything, for money and control. Resources: The Black Hole Gang has ready access to 9 private space craft on Earth, 507 in the Orion Arm, and approximately 1000 in extreme emergencies. None of these are warships, nor are any heavily-armed or armored. They are mostly small shuttlecraft and freighters. Their personnel is, as stated previously, in the tens of billions. A miniscule number on the galactic scale, but making up a varied and effective workforce that can go almost anywhere the Gang needs them to. Thanks to the Gang, many have biotech or cybernetic modifications that grant them any number of additional advantages, from minor shapeshifting, to invisibility, to direct interfacing with technology to bluffing psychic scans. As well, as Chamber members, they have access to the ferocious and powerful Brande Management supers culled from supervillain families. Some of whom are among the most-traveled humans in the galaxy. Space being largely occupied by airless rocks of little mineral value, the Gang has a great deal of free real estate set up with safehouses, docks with repair and refueling bays, caches on asteroids and so on. On Earth their base is a fortified bunker built beneath the Nolan Aerospace airfield and rocket launchsite. Sphere of Influence: The Lor Republic and Grue Individuality are the most economically stable, technologically-liberal and socially-mobile areas in local space. Thus, most Gang business is done in or with these systems. They exert subtle but considerable influence on the Developmental Quarantine Zone centered on Sol as well.
  2. ATLANTEAN TECHNOLOGY Ancient Atlantis possessed truly advanced technology, including energy weapons, force fields, and aircraft, among other things. However, this technology was made up of a combination of scientific principles, the alien science and technology of the Preservers, and Atlantean understanding and use of magic, including ley-line energies, enchanted crystals, and tapping into various elemental and geomantic forces (some of which may have weakened the strata and geological stability of the island-nation). Some Atlantean technology survived the Sinking and the subsequent millennia immersed in icy salt water, and it has led to significant differences between what Atlanteans and surface people consider “technology”. In particular, while some of their weapons, vehicles, and even household elements may appear “high-tech,” Atlantean technology does not rely upon electronics or electricity (virtually useless underwater unless completely sealed), nor upon combustion or the combination of volatile chemicals (also problematic underwater). Instead, most Atlantean technology is powered by magical crystals drawing upon geomantic and elemental energies, recharged in orichalcum-lined sockets linked to ley-lines, or from the user's own personal stores of mystical energy. So while an Atlantean blaster-weapon may look like a pistol or a rifle, a surface world engineer taking one apart would find it a technological impossibility. The same is largely true of Atlantean vessels and other devices, such as the occasional Atlantean audio-visual projector, actually a crystalline-based image generator, often with some telepathic components, rather than a video screen or camera. The nature of Atlantean mechano-mystical devices makes their technology less mass-produced and ubiquitous compared to the surface world, since each item is hand-crafted. Indeed, many are often family heirlooms maintained, repaired, and passed down through the generations, dating back to before the Sinking, patched together with whatever components were available. This leads to an apparent mixture of ancient and modern styles and resources in Atlantis and a somewhat “retro-future” quality to their technology, since it generally lacks things like computers and electronics. (Picture sci fi stories from the 1920s-1950s, before transistors and integrated circuits.) USES AND LIMITS OF ATLANTEAN TECHNO-MAGIC Atlantean Technology/Techno-Magic is very good at effects that involve or manipulate the four "classical elements": air, earth (and metal), fire (and heat), and water (including cold). Fire itself is not often used, since that doesn't work underwater, but heat is. It is also very good at generating and manipulating light (and darkness) and sound, which are considered "lesser elements." Electricity & lightning are known, but rarely used, in part due to the problems in using it underwater, and in part because of ongoing debates on which element it should fall under. Plants can be manipulated indirectly, by manipulating the minerals and water around & within them. Many forms of Atlantean Tech have been developed that channel the power of Law/Order -- bonds or large mazes of mystic force, locking shapeshifters to one form, repairing/restoring broken items, sealing dimensional breaches -- developed to counter their Chaos-using Deep One enemies. And as Lemurian techno-mages have proven, similar devices can also be constructed to channel the powers of Chaos. Body-altering magics are rare. Their last widespread use was in altering survivors of the Sinking to be able to breathe water. Healing devices are available, which involve some restorative Law/Order magics, but are not nearly as common as they once were and so usually reserved for extreme cases. The techno-magical equivalent of bionics/cybernetics are possible, but rare, and usually done to replace & replicate the function of a lost body part, not to enhance or add new abilities. Some Atlantean athletes and soldiers use performance-enhancing potions or ointments, but they're viewed with disdain, not for any harmful side-effects but because they should be able to rely on their own skills and aptitudes. (Some Atlantean sorcerers engage in shapeshifting battles, but they're viewed as... weird.) The taboo against body-altering magics is largely born of anti-Deep One sentiment, fearing the polymorphic power of the Serpent Scepter, and the protean nature of their otherworldly masters. For similar reasons, and also out of respect to the Sirens, Mental effects are rare. Devices permitting telepathic communication -- between Atlanteans and other sapients, and Atlanteans and animals -- are common, as are illusions, though most are obviously illusions and so suitable only for entertainment or educational displays, not deceit. Emotion control is accepted, if tied to the elements (via the "four humours"), but mind reading and mind control -- even controlling non-sapient animals -- are deeply feared, and is something only those vile Lemurians would do. Order-focused artificers argue for being able to develop truth-compelling effects, to cut through the chaos of lies and deception; debates are still ongoing, though rumors persist of "secret police" who do employ such techniques. (In truth, Atlantean techno-magic is just as capable of generating and manipulating psionic energies as any other form of elemental energy, though this is not widely known.) Atlantean Tech is capable of teleportation across space, but only using large platforms connected to ley lines & only to teleport to other such platforms. Experiments with using charged crystals to power more mobile teleporters have met with limited success. (Dimensional and temporal travel are theoretically possible, but would require more complex calculations and even larger amounts of energy.) Flying vehicles are common, but wearable "flight packs" are still being worked on. Atlanteans were adept at creating magiconstructs -- automatons in humanoid or animal form, serving a variety of military and construction functions -- but the techniques to create them are long lost. Some Atlantean statues -- on the isle or in surface world museums -- are actually long-dormant colossi, their inner furnaces long depleted of fuel. Though Atlantean technology is as much magic as it is science, it is not used to invoke or entreat any mystic entities, even ones who are called on for elemental effects (like Abbridon, Ghorummaz, or Phoros), though Atlantean sorcerers can and regularly do. The reasons for this are twofold: they don't want to become beholden to any outside entity, and the Preserver tech components have trouble with specific mystical entities of such great power. Their techno-magic can be used to summon elemental beings, using large arcane patterns developed over millennia and altered based on what needs to be summoned, and an ample supply of elemental material to form the body, though whether these "spirit matrices" actually summon spirits from some other plane, or creates something like an A.I. molded by the user's subconscious, is a matter of some debate. Atlantean Techno-Magic is capable of necromantic effects -- manipulating both life force and energies from der Shattenwelt are within its capabilities -- but such devices are extremely rare. ATLANTEAN SUBSTANCES The ancient Atlanteans invented a unique metal alloy of copper, gold, mercury, and silver, called orichalcum, a hybrid creation of advanced metallurgy and alchemy. (Surface world metallurgists get confused and infuriated when examining it, because such an alloy should not be possible.) The secret of its creation was lost in the sinking of Atlantis, and likely would not be practical in an aquatic environment, but samples of the metal still exist, owing to its near-indestructible nature, and Atlantean “cold-forges” can reshape existing orichalcum to a degree. Orichalcum is a golden (or deep coppery) metal with Toughness 25 and immunity to damage from temperature extremes. (If put in a fire, when removed it won't be any hotter and can be safely handled with ungloved hands; if left in a snowbank, when removed it won't be any colder.) Also, despite being largely unaffected by magic -- magical energies pass through, flow around, or are absorbed into it -- it holds enchantments better than most any substance, making it ideal for crafting magical armor, weapons, vehicles, and other devices. Orichalcum weapons, armor, and tools are prized heirlooms among the Atlanteans (and their Utopian cousins). Atlantean mechano-mystics also recognize four distinct elemental substances, though these are so basic a component of their craft that they rarely bother describing them to anyone. Corusqua are incandescent blue crystals which contain electricity, though they are inert unless agitated by mystical energy; their use became much less common post-Sinking. Crystallos is a transparent crystal similar to quartz, but grows like a plant; it can be constrained and forced to grow into various shapes (typically flat panes), dyed by soaking in pigments, and can be baked in special arcane furnaces to halt their growth but make them harder than steel (though much lighter). Fulminor is a blue-black smoke that is lighter than air, and can impart that quality on any substance it remains in extended contact with; it is used in the fuselages of Atlantean aircraft. Ignaetium is a pale blue, dull orange, or blood red crystal, containing a spark of Elemental Fire, and is used to fuel many arcane furnaces & as a source of heat. All four are naturally occurring substances, but can also be created in a sorcerer-scientist's workshop. As for mundane substances, copper -- and its alloys bronze and brass -- are often used in Atlantean metallurgy, due to their availability and unreactiveness to most mystical energies. Iron and most steels rust in the saltwater environment, though they do have various sealants which can slow that corrosion. The alchemical resonances in gold and silver tend to interfere with the mystical elements of their devices if present in large quantities. SKILL CHECKS Among other things, the differences in Atlantean technology impose a +20 DC modifier to Knowledge (Technology) skill checks dealing with it, unless the character is also trained in Knowledge (Arcane Lore), in which case the lesser of the two skill ranks may be used without the +20 DC modifier. Surface-world trained technicians can barely make heads or tails out of Atlantean techno-magic. In a like manner, modern electronics, or even simple combustion engines, are just as weird and alien to Atlanteans as their techno-magic is to surface worlder engineers.
  3. In Brief: Freedom City is an optimistic, accepting and compassionate universe. There are problems, but almost all of them can be resolved with active participation by the protagonists. While there are elements of other genres, including science-fiction, horror, romance, fantasy and more, the main assumptions and base facts of the universe are inextricably linked to American comic-books from the 20th and 21st centuries. Other Genres: Freedom City is a superhero universe. it is assumed that most PCs will be largely benevolent and interested in protecting those weaker and less advantaged with unusual abilities, resources or skills. Other genre tropes are allowed, to augment and expand on that base assumption, but they cannot replace it. Horror and urban fantasy, while useful for 'monster' or magic-themed characters, are not the focus of this game. A werewolf, vampire or wizard in a duster is judged by how well they fit the criteria of being a superhero. Killing is, while not banned outright, not the norm. It's tonally different to kill robots, zombies or aliens and generally-speaking the death of 'normal' people is something to be used sparingly. A PC submitted with an existing body count will receive far more scrutiny than one without. This applies most obviously to space opera, spy fiction or fantasy-derived characters. While there are some factions in-universe that are made up mostly of cannon-fodder that can be killed outright with no moral dimension, they are in the minority. Most villains in-setting are people to whom laws and social norms still apply. While superhero fiction draws heavily from science-fiction and pulp stories, super-science is either present for narrative purposes or as special tools and resources of the heroes and villains. Overall technology is at the level it happens to be in our world. World Divergence: The world of Freedom City is largely like our own, but for a few differences. The current President of the United States is the fictional politician JT Cahill. Three fictional cities, Bedlam City, the Emerald Cities and Freedom City. Freedom City itself is located at the Great Bay of our Mullica River in real-life New Jersey, with some slight geographical differences. Bedlam City is in coastal Wisconsin, and the Emeralds are on the Washington and Oregon shores of the Columbia River mouth in the Pacific Northwest. Superheroes, supervillains and various magical, alien or otherworldly beings have been responsible for or involved in major historical events such as the Second World War. The effect has been largely to prevent villains from making the world appreciably worse and keep heroes from making it noticeably better. Character "Look": Since it's a superhero game, there are three things that most obviously set it apart from, say, urban fantasy, fantasy, science fiction or spy fiction. These are code names, costumes and powers. Any PC submitted must have at least 2 of the 3. This helps maintain a site-wide aesthetic and the basic tropes of superhero stories, where the extraordinary is both everyday and elevated or mysterious. Code Names: They should be descriptive, or at least evocative, of what the character is or does. A sufficiently unusual name (like X-505, K'tlyss, etc) can serve as a code name. Costumes: So long as the costume at least nominally protects the wearer and/or their identity, what a PC wears is entirely up to the player. In-setting a PC can have a costume that is assumed to be immune or non-hindering to their powers, does not get damaged outside cosmetic effects, and can look like anything the PC wants for free. Powers: A 'power' means anything a 'normal' person could not do unaided. This means cybernetics, being able to turn to shadow, superhuman agility, incredibly-fast thinking and laser eyes all count as 'powers'. This also includes special tools or knowledge not available to most people, like sorcerous studies, a gun that shoots sleeping gas, comprehension of alien mathematics allowing instant intra-galactic travel, etc. Character Scope: A new player has three slots, 2 Power Level 10 and 1 Power Level 7, with a hard Power Level cap at 15 with 250 Power Points. Only NPCs are allowed to advance further, and then only if the concept justifies it sufficiently to the Administrators. Within those bounds is approximately the range most comics run, with accumulating Power Points analogous to the steady buildup of established skills, accomplishments and reader-interest growth of comic-book characters. You have your low-power but high-skill street-level crime fighters, your moderately-capable mystics, novice cosmic heroes and so on. Changes to the character can be submitted for Character Editing at any time, in any way, so long as some kind of general reason is given for the change. For player characters, there are few restriction on concept besides ability to build it and that it conforms to site content guidelines. Notes on Building: One problem new players can run into is the question of what 'fits' the style and tone of Freedom City Play-by-Post. A few examples below: Alien Soldier/Warrior: "Alien" can mean anything from hailing from another dimension, another planet, even another point in time. What matters is you're not from around here and your life has been significantly shaped by learning or having to fight. Backstreet Crimefighter:
  4. The Hidden People In the water, the woods, beneath the earth and through the sky, monsters have passed unseen for eons. Every corner of the planet Earth has its share of mysterious beasts, shadowy things half-glimpsed beyond the firelight, something that someone saw glide beneath their boat or through the night sky. Some became immortalized, like the dragons or shapeshifters, others became lost to time or revealed as frauds. By the 21st century there was hardly an inch of the planet's surface that might still hide fantastical creatures, and most of them either become superheroes or fight them on the evening news. But in the rocky, mountainous, half-wild gorge of the Columbia River, an army of monsters has survived. These are the Cryptid Clans. The Beast People are humanoids with some other animal's quality or affinity, most are leftover experiments of the Preservers. The Changed Ones were normal people, until someone or something irrevocably transformed them. The Forsaken are creatures of myth and legend from the days before the Pact barred divine realms. The Unhumans are an open-minded tributary of humanity whose genes are magically destabilized, creating creatures whose every member is totally unique. The Visitors are beings from other worlds, even other realities, who have found a new home on Earth but don't wish to join human society. A Brief History of Tribes The Cryptid Clans were originally a loose confederation of people who survived the Great Cataclysm that destroyed the continents of Atlantis and Lemuria. North America, while its own scars from the war took millennia to heal, was rich in food and water and places to hide, especially near the mountain ranges. What is now called the Atlas Range of Washington and Oregon quickly became home to many kinds of creatures who either hadn't been on either side or had no place in the understandably-fearful human communities. Around 15,000 years ago humans of the Chinook nation settled in the Columbia River valley, including the river delta claimed by the Cryptids. Despite initial clashes the humans and inhumans found common ground and developed a guarded yet respectful relationship, a few even having children with each other. Thanks to the humans the Cryptids grew out of their fear and mistrust of the strange new world the mortals had inherited. In 1809, when the Charles Hogarth Stanley and Steven Rüber Malory-headed expedition to map the interior reached the Columbia River mouth, there was a sharp turning point. A day after the expedition turned back home, leaving in its wake Fort Emerald as a supply and defense center for future American settlers, Stanley was horribly murdered. The expedition had been guests of the local Chinook people who demanded, were given and executed the guilty party. But the Cryptids had seen enough, both from latent divination talents and simple pattern-recognition: this was the end of them, countless more Americans would be coming. If found they would be exploited and killed. To escape that fate the Clans decided to recede into legend, becoming ghosts and rumors at the edge of human civilization. The biggest change in recent history was the crash-landing of several Grue xeno-pods from laboratory ships forced to jettison their cargo while in Earth's atmosphere, coincidentally directly above the Atlas Range. The paranoia of 1950's America meant the few real sightings and close encounters with the experiments, mutated local life and prisoners in the pods led to a thankfully short-lived hysteria about alien invasion and dozens of "cryptid hunts" into the wilderness around the Emerald Cities. By the time the Clans had absorbed the new members they had acquired their longest-lived and most powerful enemy: a secret organization dedicated to fighting alien subversion in the aftermath of the Grue "secret" invasion earlier that decade, the tenacious and unyielding Majestic-20. The Cryptid Clans have struggled to survive in the midst of unchecked human expansion, becoming one of the many peoples severely harmed by ocean depopulation, deforestation and industrial pollution. They are adaptable and powerful but they need to find a new path in an unpredictable world. The Clans Traditionally there are only five Clans recognized as wholly independent bodies, the oldest and with the most rules are: River: The River Clan lives in the Columbia and its local tributaries, the Red and Bronze rivers. Its members are mostly amphibious sorts who can't handle the rigors of the Sea Clan, or who have some close tie to the rivers or Lake Valleé. In general the River Clan works as go-betweens or discreet messengers for the other Clans, moving through the waterways, sewers, water pipes and flooded sections of the Undercity with speed and discretion. Their members have a deserved reputation as the most subtle and tactically-minded of the Clans, able to go almost anywhere without being seen. Their leader is Otter, an ancient Changed One shapeshifter, whose days of irresponsible hell-raising are over but not forgotten. Their home is the drowned mining town of Astoria at the bottom of Lake Valleé. Some of them have started journeying further upriver to help carve paths for the yearly-depleting salmon runs. While the Rock Clan is ubiquitous the River Clan is privy to many secrets even they aren't aware of including the true source of the Changed Ones called Monsters, the finer ebbs and flows of power within the Chamber, the Shadow Academy hidden within the Elysian Academy and countless smaller but no less obscure facts. Otter has a habit of sitting on this information until he can use it to make himself look good, which severely undercuts his real skill as a spymaster. Rock: The Rock Clan has tunnels running everywhere under, through and around the Emerald Cities. The Rock Clan makes up the principle merchant and industrial class, their generally sedentary society and large numbers(easily the largest of the Clans) placing them ideally for making the house other Clans do business in. While the richest of the Clans in goods and technology, the Rock Clan's real wealth lies in its skilled and solid people. They can be found in the territory of almost any other Clan helping to make or repair almost anything, not to mention in the abandoned mines in Mt. Stanley. Their leader is Finnegal the Dwarf, despite his name an Unhuman who resembles a brawny 3-foot high hair-covered humanoid. His power to mold stone and earth and translate vibrations from miles distant has guided the Rock Clan safely through many dangers. Many of the Rock Clan's most recent members are exiles from the Kingdom of the Chasm in Sub-Terra, or those who fear its master, the Igneous Lord Quake. Their home is in the abandoned Undercity beneath Upper Emerald on the southern shore. Sea: The Sea Clan has the widest range of the Cryptids, travelling both along the coast and to other shores. They deal with outsiders almost as much as the Wood Clan, coming before the Pacific strongholds of peoples as varied as the Atlanteans, Umiquan and Deep Ones, not to mention handling the roving bands of triton mercenaries and even occasionally assisting human sailors crossing the Columbia Bar or in other perils. By tradition the Sea Clan serves as the spiritual leaders and otherworldly intercessors of the Clans, dealing with mysteries and monsters the others are ill-equipped to handle. The leader of the Sea Clan is Merr-Ell, a Piscean Lor Visitor and aged matriarch of a sprawling adopted family, the only one who remembers her old home. The Sea Clan is especially unusual in its conflict-free populations of Atlanteans and Deep Ones. This is partly because the Sea Clan has been speaking ever louder about the need to stop humanity's destruction of the Earth's ecosystems, especially the eradication of vital sea life both Lemurians and Atlanteans need to survive. Encouraged by Atlantis' success gaining diplomatic status, Merr-Ell is attempting to rally the sea-peoples of the Pacific to speak with a united voice. Sky: The Sky Clan darts through the air above the Columbia river mouth, an airborne kingdom with its throne on Mt. Stanley. It has changed the most in recent years, with the ascension of the new Clan chief Vohl-Turr, the Black Vulture. While long-dominated by a majority of Avian Beast People, it was only in the last few centuries that the winged race began to prey on outsiders, especially humans. The Sky Clan has been the sentinels of the Atlas Range for thousands of years, scouting the world and reporting on its changes. But since the Black Vulture killed and ate his predecessor in accordance with custom the Sky Clan has become warlike and vicious, preaching the inferiority of non-flying life and how Avians are the rightful rulers of the Earth. Now the Clan is considered outcast and anathema, the other Hidden People searching for a swift and discreet way to end this colossal risk to their own secrecy, thwarted by the speed and airborne nature of their foe. Some of the Sky Clan's members, especially the non-Avian minority, are doing what they can to subvert and defeat the far-stronger leadership. Wood: The Wood Clan patrols the forests on either side of the Columbia, protecting humans and their home. These are the "best-known" of the Cryptids, the shadows in the forest and the faces at the window, the shapeless monsters and saviors of countless stories dating from long before European arrival. Like the Sea Clan the Wood Clan contains some of the best fighters in the Clans. However, their(from Cryptid perspective) constant interaction with humans has changed their tactics radically. The Wood Clan has been slowly revealing its existence to humans in order to better help the weak and vulnerable in the Emeralds. While the Rock Clan keeps themselves hidden from the homeless population they share the Undercity with, but the Wood Clan actively protects them from the cities' criminals and police. Some people are even raised in the Wood Clan and slowly integrated into human society. However, they also have some of the most dangerous and violent Cryptids, even the targeted hate of the Sky Clan doesn't match the bloodthirst of Wood Clan's worst monsters. Despite the dangers posed by each party to the other, loudest voices for revealing themselves to the world come from the Wood Clan. This is not encouraged by its leader, the Forsaken immortal Brolan the Satyr, whose murky past is apparently full of regrets involving humanity and much of his life spent atoning for them. Their home is nowhere, the nomadic Clan having no permanent settlements to reduce chances of accidental encounters. More recently two new groups have become established, largely outsiders even to the other Clans: Fire: The Fire Clan has carved homes into the volcanic interiors of Mt. Forge and Mt. Stanley. Metal: The Metal Clan is the only one to live entirely within the Emeralds, a parallel secret society to the humans. The Culture The Current Problems
  5. Preserver Stones & virdian Stones Fragmented remnants of efforts to crystallize raw energy, these relics of Preserver science have lain buried under the Atlas Mountains for millennia, only recently becoming unearthed and exploited. History The Star Stone, power source of the mighty Citadel, its master, the artificial being called Mentor and the famous Star Knights. The Nightstone, gateway to the Schattenwelt and conduit of yet darker secrets, long lost on Zultas and recently come to Earth. The Moonstone, core of Farside City's society and infrastructure, with unimaginable transformative power. These and more were created by the enigmatic Preservers to sustain and empower their creations throughout the cosmos. But, as with all science, there is no clean line from hypothesis to successful result. A small group of gems, enough for one human to count within their lifetime, were preceded by countless failures that had to be shattered to avert catastrophe. These fragments of searing cosmic power could have been dumped into some black hole, but the Preservers had different ideas. Most of these shards had exhibited a loose kind of intelligence, a compatibility and drive to connect with other forms of life. On Earth their experiments in uplifting new intelligences were just beginning to bear fruit and they had already noticed a faint glimmer of what might be psionic potential. The tribes with roughly the strongest strains of this potential were taken to a preserve on the Moon while the Preservers started a little terraforming. Where the Columbia River would one day empty into the Pacific Ocean a mountain range arose, covering a titanic extraterrestrial mineral deposit emitting a subtle psychic pull on humanity. The Preservers then left the deposit be, confident that humans would discover it and be guided further towards a future mirroring the Preservers' own. But all those shards' competing energy impulses slowly warped the shattered, failed cosmic gems. The pull on human minds ebbed to nothing in mere decades. By the time the people who would become the Chinook had moved into the river delta thousands of years ago, their migration had nothing to do with the staggering wealth hidden in the harsh and game-poor mountains. For millennia the Preservers' gambit mutated and fused, until something totally new simmered beneath Mt. Stanley and Mt. Forge as the young volcanoes hurled fire and ash into the sky. One eruption sent a rich vein of viridian scattering over the globe. It's only recently that the so-called viridian Stones have started to come out of the ground and directly into human hands, starting with the 1840's gold rush where the mania swept all the way to tiny Fort Emerald. Though the Atlas Range turned out to have a startlingly rich supply of gold, silver and precious stones, it put Fort Emerald on the map when Viridian Stones were discovered. Their composition by then had bonded with terrestrial chemistry, the lustre and quality of these "Atlas Emeralds" raising many eyebrows. However their still-latent bond to living things made it hard for people to sell or trade them, feeling an irrational attachment to the gems and little urge to find more. That and the trouble and expense of shipping said riches out of isolated Fort Emerald helped slowly kill the mining industry in what shortly became the first Emerald City, though viridian stones have recently undergone a renaissance thanks to a dedicated tourism and heritage marketing campaign focused on the rugged frontier days of the 1800's. In the 1860's Emerald City's one and only brush with the American Civil War occurred when Confederate agents stole stocks of precious metals, gemstones and cash from the Red River Diamond Exchange, including a shipment of viridian stones meant for Freedom, New Jersey. In the modern day viridian stones are usually found in centuries-old heirlooms, chic handmade jewelry, arranged into street art sculptures, or as components in secret supertech labs scattered throughout the Emerald Cities. In the Sub-Terran Chasm(other upcoming Guidebook entry) created by the dimensional reshaping which resulted in the Atlas Range, viridian stones are the universal currency among the Igneous and Magmin kingdoms, as well as the basis for the new technology of the Morlock coalition. They have no psychic impression on non-humans, so the stones trade monsters' hands with ease. What they are A viridian stone is in some ways analogous to one of its greater cousins, a nigh-limitless and effectively infinitely-malleable power source accessible to both technology and organic beings. The chief difference is focus and scale. A viridian stone isn't capable of the same stunning feats as, for instance, the Star Stone, but it is also much less overwhelming and manageable. Physically the viridian stones are, in natural state, raw minerals found nowhere else on Earth. They are smooth and faintly warm to the touch, with obvious jagged breaks where they were shattered and partially-reformed in Earth's volcanic furnace. Polishing and shaping them is easy even for unskilled persons, and a common hobby around the Columbia river delta, revealing an inner light. What they do viridian stones enhance and strengthen existing attributes of the beings they bond to and who bond to them. It makes insightful people more empathetic, the strong-willed are even more unshakable, if superhumans get their hands on them they discover new things about their powers. Some of them are similar to daka crystals and can transmit and store energy in an incredible variety of forms, a quality being investigated by ASTRO Labs. Some people who bond with viridian have their latent powers awakened. But usually the stones cannot spark "real" powers in isolation, most being far too weak. There is a loose correlation between the colour of the Stone and the trait it strengthens, though that varies drastically thanks to humans normally only capable of seeing in the visible light spectrum. Roughly, the most common colours are: RED: Red viridian stones strengthen inner resolve, focusing existing drives and making it easier to push through fears or distractions. Stronger bonds can make one all but impervious to outside influences but at a cost. Some become obsessively fixed on something that used to be a mild interest, given to enormous mood swings or driven at a goal to the point of irrationality. Mechanically speaking, they usually affect Will saves and Will effects along with Concentration checks. ORANGE: Orange viridian stones increase one's attention to detail, to how things work. Most commonly this makes their people better in social situations or in understanding technology, but culture, physics and other areas of academia open up as well. As the bond strengthens innovations and new angles come more naturally and a viridian bearer can get an accurate read on a mark or comprehend alien power systems with a mere glance. The problem is how it tends to push people toward determinism or fatalism, restricting their potential unless the bearer has a powerful will and sense of self. Bearers of orange stones also run the risk of megalomania thanks to seeing around the veil that blinds the world. Mechanically it effects Craft, Knowledge, Notice and Sense Motive checks, gives bonuses to Assessment, Artificing and Invention rolls and can give access to the Analytical(Normal Visual) or Detect Weakness Super-Sense. YELLOW: Stones of this color attract and hold the attention of other beings on its bearer, giving them an imposing and magnetic presence. Bonding with a yellow viridian stone lends itself well to natural commanders or shyer types who hate being talked over. Bearing this stone runs the risk of autocratic tendencies, loss of empathy and otherwise having trouble being a follower and not a leader. Mechanically, it can give bonuses to Intimidate checks, Daze, Fascinate and Startle rolls and enhancement to Emotion-Control: Fear and Mind-Control rolls. GREEN: Verdant viridian stones deepen ones understanding of their own and others' wellbeing and mental and physical state. Closer bonds with the stone even allow bearers to tangibly affect the health of other beings at a fundamental level, and improve their own phsyical capabilities. Stronger ties to greenstones can weaken the sense of humanity as bodies and minds become more under the bearer's control, either aloof and inhuman or savage and bestial. Mechanically they can give bonuses to base Attributes. Handle Animal, Knowledge(Behavioural Sciences/Life Sciences), Medicine and Sense Motive checks and enhance powers with a Constitution or Fort check. BLUE: The most common colour are the sky-blue stones. These tie minds together with thin threads, enhancing empathetic and persuasive traits, artistic skills and deception. Stronger bonds with the stone can turn a merely eloquent speaker into a spellbinder, evoke hope in the depths of utter despair, give insights into the depths of another's thoughts and feelings and radically alter other's perception of the bearer. Mechanically, they give bonuses to Bluff, Diplomacy, Disguise, Handle Animal, Perform, Sense Motive and Sleight of Hand skills, at higher levels they add to the bonuses from Aid actions, Distract, Inspires and Fascinate rolls, Mind-Reading, Mind-Control and Morph(increasing the DC on checks to Notice) rolls. INDIGO: The deeper blue expands perception. Bonding with an indigo stone grants eyes eagles would envy, or the skill to feel the tug and ebb of gravitons, the gift of never failing to know where anything you have touched is. Mechanically, indigo stones can give bonuses to Notice, Search, Sense Motive, Survival, Tracking, gain access to the Blind-Fight and Uncanny Dodge Feats, add a bonus to rolls on Perception range effects VIOLET: BLACK: WHITE:
  6. Okay, gonna post the latest thing I have been working on here, to get some feedback, suggestions and critique. Essentially, I decided to make various Hero-focused social media my focus for now, and have started write-ups. The ones I have right now have been mentioned in threads I'm in before, so I started with them. If there's any (Ari informed me of one in the Atlases and one in the EC book), tell me and I'll get some write-ups on them and their position too! For now, enjoy these walls of text and offer critique, both when it comes to concepts and ideas, but also the writing. HeroHouse: HeroHouse.com was established in late 2014, as a website and community to gather and catalogue news related to Metahuman Activity all across the globe. It hit a major market niche, as nobody had really tried a website like it before. Originally just a forum run by a single person, the site quickly expanded and introduced, amongst other things, a dedicated blog software, and a news section. Nowadays, HeroHouse is arguably the biggest and most popular community for Capes and their fans. Adding onto its origins as an internet forum, nowadays it is often used for Heroes and their blogs, as it adds a variety of benefits, both for free and paid. Among those benefits are the ability to set up your own website, hosted by the HeroHouse Servers but otherwise independent. Other features are mostly related to fandoms, ranging from fan-sites to merchandise. The site is made primarily for people following the heroes, who are the site’s main audience. The website made the news in fall of 2015, after it suddenly went offline. Various media outlets, internet blogs, and other websites, received mysterious and anonymous messages containing information on dozens of heroes, ranging from their browsing histories (possibly bad) to the secret identities, workplaces and addresses of some (life-shattering). While an official link was never made, both events happening during the same week were enough of a coincidence for most people to draw the conclusion they were connected. As of November 2016, HeroHouse is possibly facing multiple lawsuits. After a downtime of about a month, the entire website was relaunched, with a new UI, and a variety of new measures regarding security. While the average user was hardly affected, the changes to the website’s code caused both praise and concern. A few underground communities have in the meantime tried to recreate the events of 2015, only to find the website’s security upgraded to what they described as “Super-human tech levels”. It has also advanced to a news-website of some importance, relying on volunteers and freelance writers. The company’s employees spend most of their time checking, organizing and approving this information. Other duties include moderating the forums, which, due to the political nature, can get rather nasty at times. The forums moderation staff also includes a wide variety of volunteers, who handle sub forums or other organizational responsibilities. Various information reaches the HeroHouse headquarters, a small studio based in Hanover, where 7 employees run the site’s day-to-day business. The Team is led by Owner, Founder and CEO of HeroHouse, Jake “BrainBar” Svensson, who also acts as the Forums Main Administrator and does most of the website’s tech work. Before his website turned enough profit to support a full wage, Svensson worked at a medium-size company specialized around IT Security. While he doesn’t use most of the knowledge acquired there anymore, it means that HeroHouse is one of the more secure sites out there. Also, if called upon, BrainBar will gladly assist Heroes with their IT related troubles, or, if he trusts them enough, even hack into a system for them. (Not that he’d ever publically admit that, of course!) Use in Play: I’ll be honest, at first I designed HeroHouse primarily for my own use. I like the idea of making a setting feel more alive with things like social media, and as one of my characters is a blogger, I decided to create something he could use for his blog. HeroHouse is a lot of things, probably the biggest name dedicated to Supers on the Internet. PCs and GMs could use it for a variety of things. Maybe the PCs interact with their fans on the blogs and forums, maybe they were invited to do an AMA. Maybe somebody claims a hero is actually not who they pretend to be on the forums! Maybe somebody finds something that reveals a hero’s secrets and posts this on the forums. Perhaps somebody sends a message to a hero informing them of an upcoming crime, but how did they know? As for the website’s staff, while they are active, they will generally let most things happen. Unless there’s personal insults thrown around, the mod team is rather reluctant to intervene, and even then it will more often than not simply lead to a slap on the wrist unless it is a repeat. This means that threads like “[HERO]’s secret identity unveiled!!” or “[HERO] actually in cahoots with [BAD GUY] ?!?” will not only stay up, but are less rare than one would imagine. Capeslist: Capeslist is a site almost exclusively for the heroic community. While part of it is public, most of the action happens behind a registration-based wall. The public part features some smaller adverts, or maybe somebody asking for mundane help, whereas the site’s core is a place for the community to organize things, or simply talk. The entire website functions on anonymous users, names are not saved by the software. Capeslist does not have a true core function, beyond being a social hub for heroes. There will always be looking people for help, usually looking for somebody with a specific skillset. At the same time, there are a lot of people that want to simply hang out and relax, exchange stories, or maybe go on dates. The site has no proper staff or moderation, which causes occasional problems. These are usually resolved by lots of typing and arguing online, the anonymity both making it easier and more difficult. With most of the website locked behind registration come a variety of benefits. Registration itself is a strange and long process. It requires a variety of strange processes, and a proof of heroic identity. Generally, all heroes active enough will receive a special invitation sooner or later, allowing them to skip most of the sign-up process. How exactly these invitations reach their intended recipient differs greatly, some are sent by e-mail, other by carrier Pidgeon. The biggest mystery surrounding Capeslist is the identity of its owner(s). Tracking down domain information only leads to a chain of letterbox companies. The names associated with these companies to offer no further information, and usually are complete dead ends. While a few speculate, nobody can claim any real evidence for their theories. Actually gaining illicit access to the website’s structure itself is even more difficult, as there seems to be more than just mundane technology protecting it. Use in Play: This one is probably more a GM tool than anything. It originates from a thread where a group of people with the skillset for a heist was needed and then put together. Generally, I see this one as a good way to set up plots, or give various PCs reasons to be involved. Maybe a Hero (N)PC is looking for a team to do something they themselves can’t do. Maybe a strange post shows up on the website, talking about some information, and a few heroes set out to investigate? Maybe somebody simply posts an invitation to a game of super-powered ping-pong. While it takes its name and original concept from Craigslist, I’m not sure how much of that I kept, as I don’t really know it too well. This one’s a community website shrouded in mystery, with strange application processes, invitations that make little sense, and no known owner. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding this website at the moment, and it is all, to quote “Deliberately left open”. Maybe give the guide-team a short notice before trying to unravel the mysteries of Capeslist, so we have some idea what’s going on, but feel free to use it however you want otherwise! TroubAlert: TroubAlert is a website recently established by Emerald City based internet provider USNet. As a way to increase market share in Freedom City, the local office created the tool, where heroes can stay in touch with the public and receive crowd-sourced information. Membership and the associated benefits, like a webpage, are free for Heroes that can prove that they’re USNet customers, while non-customers pay a small fee per month. The website is still in it’s infancy, so far most users are small-scale heroes, but USNet is investing a lot of money into marketing, and has managed to secure a few deals with more well-known metahumans. USNet works on crowdsourced information, where anybody can post articles on the site’s main page. From there on, other users have the possibility to add in more things, comment on what has already been gathered, or report something as “Not True”. If this happens a set amount of times, the article will then be flagged and enter a process of moderation. If the person writing the article is found to be lying or making things up, they are from thereon flagged as well, making their post be less visible. Registered Heroes can post too, their posts are always shown with increased priority, and they also possess the ability to request specific information. After an agreement (and a new, better connection for the entire department), FCPD has recently started to use TroubAlert. A part of the site is accessible only to registered heroes and the Police Department, where occasionally requests by either party are posted. This has been the cause of some debate, in media, politics, but also, most fiercely, on the HeroHouse forums, the closest thing TroubAlert has to a rival. HeroHouse’s community claims that, thanks to the corporate sponsorship, TroubAlert has access to privileges denied to HeroHouse. The Security of the deal has also been questioned, with screenshots of the private section of the website already having surfaced. This argument generally this a few sore spots, as HeroHouse itself has had trouble with Security in the past, which is often brought up by the website’s opponents. Use in Play: In play, TroubAlert works similar to its competitor and rival HeroHouse. Both are a way to set up plots, or simply add some flavour. TroubAlert is more focused on reporting clues/crimes/information than HeroHouse, with the site’s community being almost inactive on off-topic issues. At the same time, it is more serious, and most likely, a more reputable source, as questionably valid information is checked by a professional team. Also, the police posts on TroubAlert. Maybe there’s a crime going on right now, and they need some super-dispatch. Maybe there’s an investigation.
  7. alderwitch

    The Pact

    The Pact In Short: The Pact is a mystical agreement forged to prevent the manifestation of powerful extra-planar entities within the dimension colloquially known as 'Earth Prime'. It is vaguely mentioned in the Freedom City 2E sourcebook under information about Adrian Eldritch and gone into greater depth in The Books of Magic (p. 94). The specifics are specifically left ephemeral and largely up to the Game Master to enforce. In a shared world setting, such as Freedom City Play By Post, the nuances of the Pact have been influenced by characters over the years of the site's operation. History The Pact is, in fact, an ancient spell wrought by the Master Magus for Earth Prime intended to bar the gods and demons of other dimensions from treating this dimension as their playground. The power and potency of this particular spell is all but unparalleled in the time since The Pact's forging. Simon Magus was able to fundamentally alter the fabric of the dimensions to thicken the barriers between Earth Prime, and other dimensions. The intent was to bar entry to any entity that was not specifically invited; requiring a human spell worker to summon extra planar entities and for those entities to be bound by the tenants of that summoning. In practice, The Pact is a more flexible creature. There have been many heroes, and villains, of extra planar origins over the ensuing centuries in Freedom City. Some of those have snuck their way in on technicalities, or through weak spots in the spell while others have surrendered certain powers or abilities to walk among humanity. There has been no actual sundering of The Pact, but it has been tested and manipulated; as any spell ought to be. For Players What does this mean for players and storytellers? Largely, The Pact is used on our site as justification for why PLX entities very rarely show up save for large scale events. The Pact is something to take into account, especially for magic-based characters or those of divine origins, but it by no means bars character concepts from play. We have had former angels and demons as player characters, among many, many others, but The Pact provides an excellent reason for your demigod to be limited in the scope and scale of the abilities. It is often a theme that too much power risks their place in Earth Prime. Enforcing those boundaries, or skirting them, can also make for interesting character motivations. Of the setting's NPCs, the Master Magus and Gatekeeper both take on certain duties for keeping the barrier strong, while some PC's have also taken some of that work as their bailiwick such as Phantom and the Sandman, and there is certainly room for more. It's a very large multiverse out there, after all!
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