Shadow-Force Files

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The Shadow
Posts: 2853
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 8:36 pm
Location: Oregon, USA

Shadow-Force Files

Post by The Shadow » Wed Aug 20, 2008 12:19 pm

Welcome to the world of Shadow-Force. Here's some notes on the setting to get you oriented. (The adventures of Photon, the successor to the vanished Shadow-Force, are here.)

It's pretty much a kitchen-sink supers universe: Psionicists, mutants, mages, altered humans, and super-scientists all rub shoulders. No sign of any aliens, though, nor of "gods". (The GM doesn't care for comic-book style aliens, so they aren't likely to turn up. However, extradimensional beings pick up a fair bit of the slack.)

In terms of the World-Building chapter of the M&M book, this universe is a Modern setting. Its Style drifted somewhat with time; it began fairly Four-Color and Low Lethality, but by the end it had gotten a bit more Grim and Gritty and also a bit more Lethal, at least for NPC's. It's Low Realism with respect to powers, though we have sometimes attempted to give them more of a veneer of respectability. :) NPC psychology tends to be more realistic than in most comics universes. (Though genre conventions are still in force - you can maintain a secret identity, despite all the issues it would "realistically" face. :)

In terms of Genre it has elements both of the Bronze and Modern Ages. The world historically had both a Golden and Silver Age, and legacy characters dot the landscape.

Time travel is not strictly possible in this universe, though there are other dimensions out there that resemble Earth's past or hypothetical future. (By the way, we have decided that the number of dimensions is NOT infinite. Infinite variety gets boring, paradoxically enough. :) There's quite a few, though.)

Supers are quite common in the world; most major North American cities (and presumably cities elsewhere too) boast a superhero team, and really big ones sport several. There's no particular prejudice against supers of any stripe; no "mutant scare" or the like. Any super who treads the straight and narrow will be accepted and welcomed by the bulk of the public and treated as a potential law-enforcement partner by the government. Villains, of course, are quite a different matter; both public opinion and the police frown heavily on supers who use excessive or gratuitous force. (Though it's accepted, just as it is with cops with guns, that sometimes things will get out of hand and people will die. An investigation will be forthcoming in any such incident.) Dark anti-heroes can get away with a few things here and there, but if they stray too far out of hand they will soon be classified as villains.

There is a voluntary federal registration program for crimefighters with several levels; one has to register at least at the lowest level to legally fight crime. The lowest level simply involves sharing one's codename, area of operation, teammates (if one belongs to a group) and powers (if any - normals are permitted to register, though not many do); this grants legal recognition and the ability to openly work with the police, but one cannot testify in court. The second level requires one to allow one's powers to be tested in detail by the government; this generally reveals all one's powers and weaknesses. However, second-degree crimefighters receive full police powers and are permitted to testify in heroic identity. Higher levels require sharing one's secret identity but grant increasing degrees of cooperation with the government.

Mind reading is not allowed as evidence in court without a witness' consent. When such consent is given, three telepaths are used: One for the defense, one for the prosecution, and one as friend of the court. (The three are sworn in not to pry into anything beyond the questions that are asked, and not to speak of anything they find in someone's mind save to verify truth or falsity of testimony in open court.) Anyone testifying in heroic identity must consent to mind reading to confirm that they are, in fact, the hero they claim to be.

Tacoma, Washington had long sported a super team called the Freedom Squad (derived and altered from the Champions supplement 'VOICE of Doom'), led by the famous legacy hero American Eagle II. (The original American Eagle had been a much-loved Golden Age hero during World War II.) But by a vagary of fate, larger nearby Seattle did not have one. Until Shadow-Force.

The original two members, the Phantom (an astral-projecting telepath) and Erebus (a man altered by and wielding darkness-based magic) met by accident while staking out an installation of the infamous villain group P.S.I. (Also derived and somewhat altered from an old Champions supplement, 'Mind Games'.) The Phantom had been one of their kidnap victims, brainwashed to commit crimes for them until he escaped. Erebus, for his part, just plain disliked villains... Soon joined by a gadgeteer named Technoid, the three of them put paid to P.S.I. - travelling around the country to wipe out their entire operation, making contacts and developing a name for themselves.

Returning to Seattle, they announced their intent to form a team, putting out a call for heroes to join them. Soon others came: Bazooka, a potent energy-projector; Brimstone, a teleporter who could produce exploding "grenades" of fiery force; and X-97 Beta, a powerfully-built robot with flight jets and a laser cannon. (His "brother", X-97 Alpha, an AI, eventually became the base computer.) They called themselves "Shadow-Force", based in part on Erebus' powers, but more on their focus on reconnaissance, intel, and general sneakiness. Other heroes occasionally joined forces with them, notably Chameleon (a shapeshifter) and Mystra (a versatile mage).

Shadow-Force engaged in many adventures, too many to recount. They worked closely with the more traditionally-minded Freedom Squad until the Squad was murdered by a powerful foe; Shadow-Force avenged them, pursuing their killer even into other dimensions to see justice done. They enjoyed such success that neophyte heroes began to approach them to become members... among them the light-controller who called himself Photon.

Now the Phantom and Erebus have gone missing, and Technoid is slowly going mad. Shadow-Force has fallen apart, and Photon finds himself having to step up for his city with only Beta at his side.

(The Phantom had been my PC in Shadow-Force, and Photon my PC in a short-lived "second stringer" campaign. He was the only one of the "B Team" to achieve recurring status in the main Shadow-Force game, for whatever reason, and even had a single memorable solo adventure.)

(Shadow-Force had first-level registration, and most of the Freedom Squad had second-level.)

The following posts are data on classic Shadow-Force friends and foes, as well as further information about the world as such.
Last edited by The Shadow on Wed Sep 02, 2009 3:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
"All right, I am not the Shadow. You have nothing at all to worry about. Except, oh, wait, I'm pointing a gun at you."

--The Shadow

The Shadow
Posts: 2853
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 8:36 pm
Location: Oregon, USA

Portland Protectors

Post by The Shadow » Wed Aug 20, 2008 12:26 pm

The Portland Protectors are a regional team based in Portland, Oregon but deputized by the state of Oregon to fight crime throughout the state. They are paid officials of the state, and as such have the highest possible level of registration with the state government, though they have varying levels of federal registration. The state of Washington permits the Protectors to operate in the southwest portion of the state, and indeed they and Shadow-Force have sometimes joined forces.

The Protectors have a limited ability to open teleportals. They do not have the range to make it all the way from Portland to Seattle, but they can make it to a point not far south of Tacoma. (Apparently the portals take too long to set up for it to be feasible to make two jumps in a row.) It is unclear which member of the team creates these portals, though FAQ has denied involvement. The official position of the team is that the teleportals are vital to team security and thus kept secret.

The roster of the Protectors is:

Silver Siren

Moke is a human paragon, excelling in every respect without being fully superhuman in any. He is at peak human development in strength, speed, health, intelligence, charm, and so on. The highly-respected leader of the group, Moke lives by the humorous slogan, 'Thou shalt always have a backup plan,' and indeed, usually several. (He and the Phantom got along quite well... As for Erebus, Moke didn't fully approve of his methods, but was always friendly.)

Moke's "costume" appears to be ordinary blue-collar work-clothes - flannel shirt, jeans, work boots - but they are apparently made of something other than ordinary cloth and leather, as they stand up to super-battles handily. He is a big believer in hard work, fair play, and honest living, and is prone to lecture if given half a chance.

Moke refuses to explain his codename. When asked what it means, he simply says, "Me." When asked why he chose it, he says, "Well, that's a rather personal question, don't you think?"

Whisper is the telepath of the group. Her name comes from the fact that her mental 'voice' sounds like whispering. She has the somewhat unusual abilities of extending mental protection to those around her, and of paralyzing people with mental commands. She has a limited form of mind control, essentially amplified persuasion. Somewhat frail, she tends to stay at the back of the group.

Thunderwing is the grandson of a Native American Golden and Silver Age hero, Thunderbird. His powers are simple: He is a "flying brick". Unlike his grandfather, he cannot call upon thunderstorms, at least as yet.

FAQ: Cyberkinetic. Super-genius. Gadgeteer. Twit. FAQ is 19 years old, and universally conceded to be insufferably full of himself. He is infatuated with Silver Siren, who treats him like a kid. While his inventions are invaluable to the group, he tends to regard physical combat as beneath his dignity.

For all that, though, FAQ does donate a large fraction of his state salary to setting up science scholarships for disadvantaged youth.

Silver Siren is that rarity, a female gadgeteer. [For whatever reason, super-scientists have a strong tendency to be male in this universe. The GM has intimated there are thought-out reasons for this.] She wears powered armor capable of flight, but specializes heavily in sonics otherwise. (She has admitted to borrowing the jetpack design of her suit from another hero.) While narrow in scope, her inventions display an almost unprecedented command over sonic phenomena. Her codename comes from the fact that she uses sonics to make her voice extraordinarily compelling and persuasive.


Mention should also be made of an independent Portland hero who often works with the Protectors:

Lightning Lass is an altered human with control over electricity. She has first-level federal crimefighter registration. She and Thunderwing display close friendship with each other; tabloid speculation is rife that they are romantically linked, though there is no real evidence of this.
Last edited by The Shadow on Fri Aug 22, 2008 1:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"All right, I am not the Shadow. You have nothing at all to worry about. Except, oh, wait, I'm pointing a gun at you."

--The Shadow

The Shadow
Posts: 2853
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 8:36 pm
Location: Oregon, USA

Forestrike's gang

Post by The Shadow » Wed Aug 20, 2008 12:29 pm

Forestrike's gang (they never had an official name) was a group of supervillains operating in Seattle throughout most of Shadow-Force's career. Their motivation was simple: Money, by whatever means they could get it. Their roster at the end of their career was:

Jack o'Lantern

Forestrike is a precognitive and a consummate planner - one of Shadow-Force's most cunning foes, though he is now retired. His insight into the future was so profound that he could dodge attacks aimed at him with maddening ease. He also had formidable mental defenses, to the Phantom's profound chagrin.

A cold and ruthless man willing to move his own teammates like pawns, Forestrike did have lines he would not cross. He was very careful to avoid a murder rap, for example. (Once, during a super-prison break, Forestrike stumbled upon the Phantom's inert physical body. He knocked the Phantom unconscious with a blunt instrument, but was very careful not to kill him.) Until the end, when events finally drove things out of his control.

Forestrike came to see the Phantom, in particular, as a foe worthy of his respect; and the feeling was mutual. Not only because the Phantom could hurt him with his mental blasts (though very, very slowly), but because the Phantom was his opposite number, the planner and strategist of Shadow-Force. (Erebus was the tactical leader - for his ruthless instincts just as much as his frightening degree of martial prowess - but the Phantom was the one who kept the big picture in view.)

After years of struggle, their chess match ended with Forestrike's acknowledged defeat. His precognition could not keep pace with Shadow-Force's skill with reconnaissance; the Phantom's mental scanning and invisible spying, Erebus' teleportation, retrocognition, and shadow-scrying, and Technoid and Alpha's hacking eventually ran him into the ground.

There came a point where the lines of probability were too tangled by events for even Forestrike to see his way. He became rattled and made mistakes, losing his grip on Jack o'Lantern's leash.

Forestrike currently lives in exile in South America. Once or twice he has sent the Phantom a letter, warning of events to come. (He has to live on the Earth too - and it would hardly do for another villain to succeed where he failed!)

Jack o'Lantern was a fire-wielding mutant who needed a special suit to keep his powers under control. Jack o'Lantern was psychotic and a sociopath. He delighted in burning things and in causing suffering. Thankfully, he was also very easy to goad into a blind rage: The Phantom, who was totally immune to his attacks, routinely taunted Jack into flame-blasting him repeatedly while using his own mental powers on Jack's teammates. (The Phantom always called him "Punkinhead", which drove him into a screaming rage. The helmet of Jack's suit was indeed carved to look like a pumpkin.)

Forestrike controlled Jack by manipulating Strobe into sleeping with him. Jack used her sexually, indulging his sadistic streak, and she came to enjoy it.

When Shadow-Force finally closed in, Forestrike lost his grip on Jack, who raised the stakes higher than Forestrike had ever been willing to go - he took hostages and threatened their lives. Forced to play the hand he'd been dealt, knowing he was completely out of his depth, Forestrike tried to find as positive a way out as he could... rather than have Jack kill a crowd of hostages, he demanded a plane and safe-passage out of the country.

Forestrike's gang flew off in a private plane with a captive Air Force pilot at the controls. Shadow-Force successfully teleported the pilot to safety, and jets of the United States Air Force destroyed the plane; only Teke's powers preserved any of the gang's lives. (Though Forestrike was doubtless able to help with the timing.)

Jack o'Lantern was killed in the explosion. His body was found (pieces of it, anyway) and positively identified by DNA analysis.

Teke is a very powerful and versatile telekinetic. Like Forestrike, she was a pro, a true mercenary - she held Jack o'Lantern and Strobe in contempt. Shadow-Force never got any deep insight into her character. Though obedient to her boss, when he finally and definitively fell she coolly cut and ran. She did save his life and that of Strobe and Soulwhip before doing so, however. Her current whereabouts and status are unknown.

Strobe was a flying light-projector. Immature and naive (it was a credit-card purchase of hers, hacked by Alpha and Technoid, that was key in tracking the gang down for the last time) she was easily manipulated by Forestrike into sleeping with Jack o'Lantern, and came to love him. Though saved from the explosion herself, she was heartbroken by Jack's death, and eventually committed suicide.

Soulwhip is a psionic with a variety of powers, most notably a potent mental blast. Forestrike's mental shielding and psychological skill enabled him to manipulate her despite her telepathy. Soulwhip was crippled in the explosion. She currently lives with Forestrike as his bodyguard and lover.

Crosshair was a late addition to the gang. He was an assassin able to throw knives and shuriken with superhuman accuracy; he was also a formidable martial artist (able to hit Erebus almost at will, a truly impressive feat). Like Teke, he was purely mercenary; unlike Teke he had a taste for blood, and had to be reined in by Forestrike nearly as much as Jack o'Lantern did. Crosshair was killed in the explosion.

Memorable Scene:

Forestrike and the Phantom face-to-face, as they seldom were. Jack o'Lantern across the room, holding a hostage by the throat, and a flaming fist ready to kill.

The Phantom, in a light tone: "You're going to have to kill him one of these days, you know."

Forestrike, looking the Phantom right in the eye: "I know."
"All right, I am not the Shadow. You have nothing at all to worry about. Except, oh, wait, I'm pointing a gun at you."

--The Shadow

The Shadow
Posts: 2853
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 8:36 pm
Location: Oregon, USA

Independent Heroes

Post by The Shadow » Fri Aug 22, 2008 12:54 pm

Several heroes are known to patrol Seattle without affiliating with any group. They are:

Bubbles can produce force-spheres of variable friction - they can be as slick or sticky as she wishes. Unfortunately, she cannot produce "bubbles" large enough to entrap people or protect herself from attack. She signed up for the Shadow-Force reserve team, but was refused. (Erebus told her bluntly he wasn't going to be responsible for her death, and the Phantom told her more tactfully that if she could develop her power to a more useful level they'd gladly take her.)

Bubbles despises her codename, which was pinned on her by the press. She has first-level registration, and fights petty crime, trying to improve her power. She is notably unfriendly to reporters, and has a chip on her shoulder against people who find her powers amusing.

"Don't CALL me that!"

Chameleon is a limited shapeshifter who is also super-strong and tough. One of his favorite tricks is blending in with the background, hence the name. Chameleon has first-level registration and has worked with Shadow-Force on a number of occasions. He isn't much of a joiner, though. Chameleon is currently out of town for the foreseeable future, occupied with family problems in Texas.

"Oh, did I startle you? SO not sorry!"

Fury has used several different codenames, but this is the most recent. He has the mutant ability to generate "super-adrenaline", making him vastly stronger, faster, and more resilient for a short time. After the rush fades, he crashes hard though, and is incapacitated for several minutes at minimum. Though he has first-level registration, he's had some trouble with the police due to anger problems. Fury has a black belt in tae kwon do.

Fury signed up for the Shadow-Force reserve team, and was being seriously considered for it when the initiative petered out.

"So what's it gonna be? Fight or flight?"

Mirror Mask (formerly known as Shift) wears an ornate, demonic-looking mask that lets him turn insubstantial... unfortunately he is crippled by pain for several seconds after he turns the power off. (The mask also grants him a small amount of super-strength, and some defenses against mental attack.) Though he claims to be twenty years old, there is strong evidence that he has only just turned eighteen, and thus is unregistered. Shift tried to sign up for the Shadow-Force reserve team... (Erebus: Can't stop laughing. Phantom: "Next!" :)

"Boo. OW!"

Mystra is a mage with a wide range of available spells. She has first-level crimefighter registration, and has often worked with Shadow-Force against major threats, notably Diabolus and Red Dragon. Unfortunately, she is rather flighty and much given to New Age fads. (And yes, she took her codename from Forgotten Realms novels.) Currently she claims to be on a vision quest and thus is not as active in the area. Her age is unknown, but her diction suggests she was active in the hippie movement.

"You're way too uptight, man. Chill out." (While casting a freezing spell, naturally!)

Nightshift is a normal who wants to clean up the streets. He restricts himself to normal criminals, well aware that supervillains are beyond his capabilities. Nightshift wears a bulletproof vest and rides a motorcycle. He is a skilled martial artist and has a backpack full of "gadgets". (He has neither the smarts nor the money for super-science, so these are "normal" items like smoke grenades and the like.) Nightshift has first-level registration as a crimefighter.

"This is your unlucky night, punk."

Nocturne is an unregistered vigilante and wanted by the police. He is a vampire who possesses a mystic artifact which, among other things, enables him to go without drinking blood all but three nights of the month, the nights of the full moon. On those nights, he prefers to drink the blood of violent criminals, killing swiftly and remorselessly. Nocturne is monstrously fast and strong, can shed most normal damage effortlessly, and has been proven not to be vulnerable to holy symbols or garlic. He has never been seen by light of day, however.

Nocturne has openly stated that he will not be deterred by threats to the innocent - if a criminal uses a human shield, he will go through the shield to kill the criminal. Since this is known - and nobody doubts him - ironically he has never had to actually do it.

"I know you. You are a murderer thrice over. Now you are mine."

Plague is an unfortunate mutant whose power is to pass incredibly virulent diseases by touch. He can control what sort of disease - inflicting debilitating fever, nausea, or the like - but he cannot safely touch another human being, ever. He therefore wears a surgical mask and wraps his exposed flesh in sterile gauze. Nobody who knows his reputation will offer him violence, as his blood is known to be far more toxic than his flesh; therefore his mere presence is often enough to deter crime. Plague is registered as a crimefighter (2nd level), and would gladly join a team if he could safely do so. Unfortunately it is impossible - too much contact with the same people, and he will eventually infect them.

"You haven't heard of me, have you?"

[Chameleon and Mystra were occasional PC's in the game, and thus on a par with Shadow-Force's regulars. Nocturne is also on that level; Plague approaches it. The rest are strictly small fry - though some are much smaller than others. Photon is the only member of the reserve team to have made it relatively big.]
Last edited by The Shadow on Fri Aug 22, 2008 1:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"All right, I am not the Shadow. You have nothing at all to worry about. Except, oh, wait, I'm pointing a gun at you."

--The Shadow

The Shadow
Posts: 2853
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 8:36 pm
Location: Oregon, USA

Extant Villains

Post by The Shadow » Fri Aug 22, 2008 1:03 pm

The following villains have recently been causing a stir in Seattle:

Captain Kidd is a new arrival in town, having terrorized several West Coast port cities before making his way to Puget Sound. He has claimed on various occasions to be the descendant, reincarnation, and/or spiritual heir of the original Captain Kidd, and dresses the part. Some claim he is a pathological liar, others suspect he merely likes to muddy the waters as much as possible. He has somehow got his hands on a small but heavily-armed robotic submarine. (It is unknown how many crew it has aboard, but by its size probably eight or so.) The sub has grapples that resemble the tentacles of a squid.

Captain Kidd is a skilled fencer, and his sword can shoot lightning. He is highly resistant to many forms of damage by unknown means. Some believe he has a mild form of mind control - certainly he's been able to enthrall people with his voice for longer than seems reasonable.

Kidd has been harrassing the Navy shipyard at Bremerton, and seems to be looking for something. Shadow-Force was tracking him up to the time of their dissolution.

Enigma is a sorcerer, a mage who calls upon spirits - highly unpleasant ones in his case. He specializes in curses and bindings. Shadow-Force tangled with him once, inconclusively. Engima made his escape (though without the loot he was after) by binding the Phantom into a circle, then suggesting to Erebus that the Phantom was about to be destroyed; this made Erebus hesitate just long enough for Enigma to get away.

Enigma has desecrated several Native American burial grounds, apparently trying to dig up a mystic artifact of some kind; he is much hated by the local tribes. He himself is Nordic in appearance and has a faint accent. One newspaper editor foolishly suggested in print (without any real evidence) that Enigma might be a neo-Nazi... Enigma's comment on the matter was to curse the man to have his head turned backward on his neck and his back bent double; as he put it later in a statement, this was his way of suggesting the man was "talking out of his ass". (Mystra dispelled the curse, and noted it would have worn off after a few days.)

Wraith is a legendary thief, able to turn invisible and insubstantial. (The Phantom ruefully commented the man was giving him a taste of his own medicine.) Wraith is a true professional, cutting and running at the first sign of trouble; therefore he has been almost impossible to catch. He seems to be a "Robin Hood" of sorts; at any rate, he once engaged in a string of robberies against a corporation noted for EPA violations... the medical clinics in the neighborhoods most polluted by the company received large anonymous donations shortly after.


And here are some of Portland's villains:

Puppeteer is a familiar sight up and down the Willamette Valley of Oregon... he has engaged in supervillainy for over forty years, and hardly appears to have aged in all that time. Puppeteer can animate objects - statues are among his favorites. (One trick he has repeatedly used is to bring the Golden Pioneer off the dome of the Oregon State Capitol building in Salem.) Though grandiose in his ambitions, Puppeteer is unwilling to hurt anyone; on one occasion when someone was seriously hurt by one of his statues, he was greatly distressed and called 911 himself.

He rarely serves long prison terms, and indeed he's hard to keep in prison. (There is no way known to nullify his powers - their source is a mystery.) The state government has tacitly decided to go easy on him in exchange for his cooperation with cleaning up collateral damage from super-battles, at which he excels. Indeed, he could probably make very good money doing that for a living, but he thinks hard work is for suckers and insists on getting rich "the easy way". (As one can imagine, Moke finds him an ideal audience. ;)

Shifter, as the name implies, is a consummate shapeshifter, able to take the form of any solid object or person that he can imagine. He has a violent temper, and has maimed several people over the course of his five-year career. Shifter seeks power, constantly trying to infiltrate the government, the military, corporations, and so on. Fortunately, his acting ability is not up to the job - though he has been getting better, which worries the authorities. Though Shifter's human forms (when not impersonating anyone in particular) typically look to be in their mid-twenties, many suspect he is actually younger, perhaps even a teenager.

When Shifter's powers are nullified, he becomes a shapeless mass of protoplasm; when restored from that state, he is reduced to babbling, incoherent terror and seizures. The courts have ruled that this constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, and so he is difficult to imprison. The state of Oregon has recently built what it claims to be a "Shifter-proof" cell, but there hasn't yet been an opportunity to test it. (They built it because he has always manged to escape while being transported to Stronghold.)

Yin and Yang are Japanese twins. (Yin is female and Yang male, naturally.) They have magical powers appropriate to their names; Yin often wields cold powers and Yang fire, though they seem to be able to generate other appropriate powers as needed. Newcomers to the super-scene, they are thieves who apparently cherish a personal hatred for several particular large corporations. The two apparently possess a mental link. Once when Yang was knocked unconscious, Yin cried out and dissolved into apparently ordinary water. The Protectors gathered up as much of the water as they could, but could detect no life or intelligence in it. Shortly afterward, Yang disappeared from his holding cell, and the two struck again about a month later.
"All right, I am not the Shadow. You have nothing at all to worry about. Except, oh, wait, I'm pointing a gun at you."

--The Shadow

The Shadow
Posts: 2853
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 8:36 pm
Location: Oregon, USA


Post by The Shadow » Fri Aug 22, 2008 3:33 pm

Photon is, of course, the hero of this campaign. :) Here's his origin and history as I wrote it up before the game started:

Jonathan Winters leaned back in his office chair. Life was good. He had his dream job: Professor of theoretical physics, and at a strikingly young age. Challenging research in loop quantum gravity. (String theory, he liked to say, was "Brilliant, beautiful, and wrong".) Students who were sometimes exasperating but on the whole rewarding to teach. (Dr. Winters was a mildly popular physics lecturer at UW.)

He gazed out the tentative spring sunshine, both admiring its beauty and wondering, as ever, just how it worked. He let his mind run idly, as it often did, over Einstein's thought experiments, trying to imagine what life would look like from a photon's point of view... The universe frozen in time, all space compressed into a point of blazing light. To a photon, everything really was one.

Going deeper, he pressed his imagination to incorporate his insights into the shifting loops of spacetime he studied. The lonely, microcosmic photons refracted into each other, overlapping and dancing...

For just a second, something broke in Jon's mind, and he GOT it. For an instant he saw how it all worked; the true universe in all its silent splendor. The moment faded as quickly as it came, and Jon knew that he'd spend the rest of his life trying to capture that vision in inadequate equations. A deep joy bubbled up in him and he laughed aloud, reaching for his computer to try with happy futility to record the vision in mathematical terms.

After several hours of work, the sun shifted onto his screen, blinding him with its glare. He reached over absentmindedly to pull the blind, when suddenly the sun went out. Blinking, he looked over in shock. The sun was shining, yes, but very dimly. He stood up in alarm, and the effect vanished; the sun was bright as ever. He sat back down limply; dim again.

At this point, he got suspicious and started moving a pencil around, watching its shadow. Sure enough, there was a place where the shadow just plain veered off in an impossible direction - as if the light were being diverted somehow. While he was pondering this miracle, there came a knock at the door. "Dr. Winters?" Jon, sighed, recognizing the voice - a student who was hopelessly behind and couldn't seem to grasp that you couldn't do well in physics without knowing algebra. The door opened, and the hapless young man looked right at him. "Huh. And it's his office hour, too."

Jon was about to call after him, puzzled, when he noticed his hand fading back into visibility. Shaking, he experimented further.

He could create and banish light at will. He could cause it to flow around his body, rendering himself invisible. With some mental effort, he could make a laser beam. That was crazy enough, but then he had a weird idea and tried to imagine a mechanism for seeing in the infrared - and could. Or through walls. Somehow, the photons were responding to his will.

Thankfully, he had no more classes that day. He developed a feel for what he was doing. It was as if subatomic reality had gotten to know him, just as he'd gotten to know it, and decided it liked him. If he could imagine something for light (and to a lesser degree, other subatomic particles) to do in enough physical detail, generally it would happen. The feel of it was somewhere halfway between making a friend and programming a computer - the spacetime continuum was very literal-minded, if eager to please.

What to do with this amazing ability? Write a paper? Back it up with proof? Wouldn't Jenkins over at Princeton turn green with envy! But no. There were better uses for such power as this. Jon thought inevitably of his other childhood love, after mathematics: Comic books.

With great power came great responsibility. He could use this power to help people. And Seattle had only recently gained a hero team of its own - Shadow Force. They'd put out a call for heroes to join them a few months back, and Jon had followed their exploits with interest and a certain guilty pleasure. The names rolled off his tongue: The Phantom. Erebus. Technoid. X-97. Bazooka. Brimstone. Why not... Photon?

He closed his eyes and imagined a suitable costume: Gold and white with red accents, and a flowing red cape. On the chest the Feynman diagram for a photon - a wavy line and the Greek letter 'gamma'. No spandex please, he didn't exactly have bulging thews, something more comfortable... When he opened his eyes, he wasn't too surprised to find himself wearing it, and laughed aloud for sheer pleasure.

The next day he walked to the Shadow Force base. On the way he discovered he could fly.


The Phantom and Erebus were perplexed by him. He had power, all right - and he seemed to get better as they watched - but he was hopelessly idealistic and green as sprouting grass. They came up with the idea of matching him with some other newbie heroes in the area and calling them the 'reserve team'.

Photon got an object lesson his very first day, getting sprayed with machine gun fire while trying to stop a bank robbery. (Memorable quote: "Evildoers, you face Photon!" "Photon, meet M16.") Turned out his 'force field' hadn't been as well-tuned against physical objects as he'd thought... this would take work. (After he got out of the hospital, of course...)

He found his feet as a hero some months later, when the Guardians put out a quiet call for supers with backgrounds in theoretical physics. Volunteering, he found that scientists in certain disciplines were being kidnapped by a group calling themselves the Covenant, and put himself on the line to be next. Spirited away to a base in the South Pacific and made to work on villainous projects, Jon was instrumental in bringing the place down, and without compromising his secret identity. (Save to a fellow kidnap victim, a Korean mathematician named Kim Hei Ryung. Memorable quotes: "Who do you think you are, one of those weirdos in tights?" "Um." Later, when in danger with her: "You know how you asked me if I was one of those weirdos in tights?" "Yeah?" "Well, I, uh... am." *flies her past danger*)

The seasoned heroes of Shadow-Force tacitly accepted him as one of their own after that, and he played a minor but important role in two of their biggest battles - against the evil archmage Diabolus and against the criminal mutant mastermind Red Dragon - as well as a number of lesser ones. (Funny quote: "Wow! He must couple with the virtual gluon field to do that!" Erebus: "SHUT UP AND SHOOT HIM!" :)

Jon is very shy and socially awkward. (He's been dating Hei off and on - she's been transferred into the area - but of course she had to ask him out.) His Photon identity is a way for him to let a more flamboyant (and, let it be said, a bit pompous) side out. He continues to develop his power, and there does not seem to be any maximum limit... He appears to be limited only by his imagination and his will.

Being struck by Jessica's darkbolt wrought a change in Jon's powers, a sudden deepening. He had long been able to take on a form of pure light, travelling at c. But suddenly he found that he could control it to a much greater extent - he could change direction, for example (creating and destroying microscopic black holes in order to do so!), and even turn it on for only tiny slivers of a second. What's more, he could "edit" his human form back to health while immersed in the cosmos. Bullets don't concern him much any more - he can dodge out of the way literally at the speed of light, and heal any damage rapidly even if one should hit.

Going it alone in Seattle, with Beta and whoever else might turn up, terrifies Jon. He's no tactician like Erebus, no planner and schmoozer like the Phantom. Despite his fear, though, he's determined to make it work. Where will it all lead?
"All right, I am not the Shadow. You have nothing at all to worry about. Except, oh, wait, I'm pointing a gun at you."

--The Shadow

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Jon's backstory

Post by The Shadow » Mon Aug 25, 2008 2:37 pm

[The previous post was what I knew about Photon long before the current game started. Here's some stuff on his past, that I wrote up recently. (He'd always been a supporting character, so I never came up with a detailed backstory until recently.) I've snipped a few hook suggestions that the GM may or may not do anything with.]

Jon was born into an upper-middle class family in Oklahoma, the Clarks (Jack and Patricia). Things were pretty good for him in his early years; he read voraciously and began to show signs of a formidable intellect. But when he was seven years old, his parents experimented with cocaine and became hardcore addicts. Things rapidly spiralled down into a nightmare; his parents got more and more involved in illegality, losing most of their money.

The life of the family finally unravelled with both his parents were imprisoned for drug dealing and manufacture. Jon, along with his sister Cindy (three years younger) and brother Jason (five years younger), were placed in foster care. He was nine years old at the time.

Already traumatized by his parents' spectacular fall, Jon only withdrew into himself more as he bounced from one foster home to another. On a couple occasions where no foster family was available, he even spent short stints in a juvey facility, even though he'd done nothing wrong. (I regret to say that this actually happens to such kids.) The foster parents he stayed with varied from decent to uncaring to mildly abusive (mostly verbally), though most were better than his birth parents. He didn't see his siblings much.

Luckily, he finally found a stable home with the Winters, a kindly blue-collar couple (Tom and Alice) who adopted him when he was thirteen. Though he was too intelligent to have done less than adequately in school up to that point, he soon began to leave every school curriculum within reach in the dust. He skipped a grade, then another. Already alienated from his peers, this did nothing to endear him further.

The Winters family had one natural child, a daughter named Michelle who was a year younger than Jon. There were also a few other adopted foster kids - Dustin, a sullenly angry youth a couple years older; Karen, a quiet girl the same age; and Barry, a painfully hyperactive boy a couple years younger. (Barry and Karen were already there when Jon arrived; Dustin came shortly after.) Jon also saw Cindy and Jason once or twice a year.

The family was loving, though definitely not without frictions and even tragedy. Dustin resented Jon's academic success as he resented just about everything else; in his late teens he had several brushes with the law (assault charges) though he has since straightened out and is being groomed to take over Tom's general-contractor business.

Barry (who is black) was friendly to all when he could stop bouncing off the walls. His infectious friendliness has served him in good stead as a salesman; after Jon, he is the most financially successful of the family, and probably the happiest.

Michelle oscillated between phases of resenting her brothers and appreciating them. (One of the few things the three young men could agree upon was to protect her fiercely from all comers. Though Jon, for his part, wasn't much of a threat to bullies, he spoke up for her and used a needle wit on her behalf at times.) She and Karen were quite close, though, bosom companions. Michelle is now happily married and a housewife with kids.

Karen sank deeper and deeper into depression despite the Winters' best efforts and committed suicide at the age of sixteen. This tragic event drew the makeshift family together and welded them into one.

None of the Winters know about Jon's powers, and he has no intention of telling them. Dustin, in particular, might find this "unfairness" to be the last straw. (Though in fairness to him, he's grown a lot. Perhaps it wouldn't matter as much to him as Jon fears.)

As for Jon's biological siblings, Cindy and Jason, they have both turned to petty crime (drugs, mostly) and are both in prison - Cindy in Oklahoma and Jason in Colorado. Jon visits them when he can, though they have little to say to each other.

Jon did his undergraduate work in physics at CalTech on a full-ride scholarship, and got his doctorate from the University of Michigan. His dissertation on loop quantum gravity made a major splash in the literature, and got him lucrative job offers from a number of universities. He settled down as a full professor at the University of Washington in Seattle at the tender age of 22. (He is now 25 years old.)

Jon does volunteer work in Seattle youth shelters and juvenile facilities. Though he's very awkward and shy, he's also sincere and has been through the same wringer they have; some kids warm up to him. Others have tried to scam him, but he's not easy to fool.
"All right, I am not the Shadow. You have nothing at all to worry about. Except, oh, wait, I'm pointing a gun at you."

--The Shadow

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Post by Libra » Thu Aug 28, 2008 11:56 am

Spendid work Shadow. :D
Founder of H.E.R.O.I.C, Complimenter-in-Chief, Co-Arch Henchman to the Grin, Servant of the Hoff!

Rule Brittania! Praise the Hoff and the Grin!

Warning!: May cause Thread Drift.

The Shadow
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Post by The Shadow » Sat Aug 30, 2008 11:08 am

[OK, here is the new, improved background for: THE PHANTOM. My second superhero character ever, played from about 1990 to about 1995. (The first was the Shadow, who of course has his own thread on here.]

[I think this little vignette shows another side of Erebus than that which has come out thus far. That guy had a very whimsical sense of humor at times, and a soft spot for kids.]

Mike missed his parents, even though he knew he shouldn't. Ever since P.S.I. had taken him in when he was eleven, Counselor Darke had told him that they didn't want him any more because he was so special. Normal people were afraid of special people, and Mike was very special.

Mike liked Counselor Darke. The man was funny and understanding and gave him candy. Whenever he felt bad about his parents or being special, he could always tell Counselor Darke. The old man would listen, smile, and nod... and stare at him intently with eyes that seemed to fill the whole room. That always made Mike's head swim and make him feel confused for a while, but it made the bad feelings go away, and that was good.

Of course, he wasn't called "Mike" any more, except in his own head. He was "Phantom". Special people need special names, Counselor Darke said.

He wasn't the only special one. Besides the grown-up P.S.I. members like the Counselor and Psimon and the rest, there were other kids like Probe (who could tell what you were thinking, the snoop!) and Soulfire, who could set things on fire (and was a real prick, too!).

Most of his time was spent studying for school - stuff like math and science and martial arts. Mike looked forward to the games they would sometimes play to test their special powers; they were fun!

Mike would fall asleep and send out his dream self - his Phantom-form - to go find stuff the Counselor asked him to. Gliding invisibly through bank vaults, military bases, that kind of thing, to find the things that P.S.I. had planted for him to find. All in fun - games. Counselor Darke told him he was a very good boy.

When Mike was sixteen, though, things began to not be so good. The bad feelings didn't go away as easily, and he became restless. He asked to see his parents. He asked what the games were for. He even insisted on being called "Mike". Counselor Darke told him he was being very bad, but somehow that didn't seem to matter as much as it used to. And so Inquisitor came to his room one night to punish him.

He instinctively jolted out his Phantom-form in fright when the man appeared, looking angry. The mental blast that came seared like fire and seemed to go on and on; Mike came to whimpering helplessly. He was good for a while after that. But soon he noticed something new - he was more special than ever before. Maybe the mental blast had jarred something loose in his mind.

When roaming in his Phantom-form, he could read thoughts, like Probe. He could lift things by thinking about it. Mike experimented cautiously with these new abilities when playing games without telling anyone. He knew he was being very, very bad, but he didn't really care any more.

One night, Mike finally felt ready to make his move. Sending out his Phantom-form, he blasted a sentry to sleep and took his keys. After pulling a wire in a surveillance camera, he lifted up his unconscious physical body (it was very heavy!) and flew over the fence of the P.S.I. compound. Rejoining on the other side, he ran and ran and ran.

Soon he ended up on the streets of Seattle, tired and hungry. He didn't know what to do. He couldn't remember any more where his parents lived, or even what his last name was. It was hard even to remember their faces. He didn't know who to go to, or how to fend for himself. Counselor Darke had always said the outside world was very bad, but he'd lied about everything else... Turned out he hadn't entirely lied about that, though.

...The martial arts helped, and the Phantom-form even more. Soon rumors of a ghost began to spread through the seedier neighborhoods of Seattle.

Mike enrolled in a junior college. He didn't like lying to the registrar about his name and age, and disliked mentally 'convincing' her he had proper documents even more, but what choice did he have? (He vaguely recalled that his father's name was Tom, so he called himself Michael Tomson, later Thompson.) He didn't mind so much paying for his education with money he took from the gangbangers who kept giving him grief, though - it's not like it was theirs anyway.

Once he felt somewhat secure in his new life, he began to think about the other kids still under P.S.I.'s sway. He started cautiously snooping around the P.S.I. compound in Phantom-form, trying to formulate a plan. During one of these forays, he paused to scare off a mugger, when he bumped into another special person with the same intention: A tall man shrouded in living shadow.

An inky spiked hand raised in a mystic gesture, the man said to him, "You're not a ghost. What are you?" "I'm a kid. I'm... the Phantom." With a spectral chuckle, the shadowy man said, "Indeed you are. I am called Erebus." "The Greek underworld of darkness?" "You know your mythology. Are you... dreaming?" "Not really. I've learned to control it."

Erebus paused. "Might you know anything of the group that calls themselves P.S.I.?" In a dead mental voice, "Lots." "Well, well, and well. We should speak further, Phantom. We may have a common interest there." He paused to sling the mugger over one shoulder. "Care to come with? It's always a pleasure to discomfit our blue brethren." "Come where...?" Mike trailed off when the man gestured a perfect circle of blackness into being and stepped through. After a moment's hesitation, he flew through as well, only to find himself in front of the police station, where Erebus was handcuffing the unconscious mugger and attaching a placard to him that read, "I Am A Criminal. Courtesy of: <'Erebus' spelled out in Greek letters>"

"So you're a superhero, then?" "If you insist. I just have a settled distaste for those that misuse power - which is to say, virtually everyone." "But not you?" Cheerfully, "Oh, I have a certain distaste for myself on some days too."

"P.S.I. certainly misuses power." "That they do. I gather you may want to bring them down rather more than I do?" "Yeah." "Shall we talk about it some more, perhaps over coffee?" "I don't know..." Erebus only said, "At three o'clock tomorrow afternoon, I will at the coffee shop on the corner of..." After naming the address, he faded back into a shadowy alley and was gone.

Mike debated whether or not to show up, but in the end the thought of somebody to talk to was too powerful a draw. He arrived the next day, nervous and somewhat self-conscious about his unkempt clothing. It wasn't hard to spot Erebus - a huge brute of a man looking ready to split his suit at the seams. But he was gravely courteous as he invited Mike to sit and offered him a cup of coffee. "And what should I call you?" "My name is Mike." "An honor, Mike. My enemies call me Jim. You may call me James." "All right... James."

Soon Mike was telling the man his entire story. Erebus heard him out quietly, then said, "It would seem that P.S.I. is in even greater need of destruction than I had thought. Shall we join forces?" Mike swallowed hard, then stuck out his hand. "Yeah." They shook on it.

Laying plots with Erebus, and being treated as a peer by an adult for the first time, Mike rapidly shed the last of the artificial immaturity that P.S.I. had inculcated in him. (If Erebus noticed this - and he missed precious little - he carefully did not draw attention to it.) During this time he found a job on campus as a janitor and was able to afford an apartment that Erebus helped him find. The older man also quietly "arranged" proper documentation for him.

By the time the two felt ready to put their plan into action, Mike was nineteen, and more confident and self-assured than he had ever been. His telepathic powers had grown to a degree that would have dumbfounded his childhood handlers - and indeed, it did.

Suffice to say that Erebus and the Phantom put a decisive end to the P.S.I. operation in Seattle that day. Mike, though unwilling to seriously hurt anyone, couldn't find it in himself to be sorry when Erebus struck Counselor Darke at full strength and snapped his spine, killing him instantly. Erebus, for his part, only said nonchalantly, "Oops! He broke!"

The two proceeded to rifle all the information they could about P.S.I.'s other installations, and went on a cross-country spree of retribution - soon joined by a gadgeteer who called himself Technoid. The three came to national attention, and worked extensively with hero groups around the country as they hounded P.S.I. to extinction. (Nobody else died, but every last willing member of P.S.I. ended up in prison.) Along the way, Erebus met a thrill-seeking young woman named Jessica, who aided him at a crucial juncture. (Erebus watching in frustration as the bad guys pull away in a truck, the Phantom and Technoid - who can fly - busy elsewhere. A young woman in a sports car slows down to get a look at him, and he hooks a thumb and says cockily, "Going my way?" "Sure!") They ended up falling for each other, and her father proved to be a multimillionaire.

When they came back to Seattle, Jessica's father offered to bankroll them as a team. Erebus was reluctant to work with the Establishment, but eventually came around. (Mostly.) The Phantom, for his part, knew that this was what he was meant to do. Shadow-Force came into being.

By the time a young professor showed up calling himself Photon, Mike was 24 and a seasoned, respected hero - the de facto leader and strategist of Shadow-Force. (Though Erebus took the lead in combat.) He was also invariably the "face" of the team, dealing with the authorities and other hero groups. (An instinctive telepath, Mike became a social chameleon of sorts, adapting himself to the mannerisms and speech patterns of the people he spoke to.) Unlike the other members of the team, he lived in the base, ostensibly working there as a caretaker.

Eventually he mastered the use of his psionic powers even while not projecting his astral form; and shortly before his disappearance he had developed the otherwise unheard-of ability to remain awake and active, even psionically active, while his Phantom-form was projected. (However, his body went inert again shortly after he disappeared into the Shadow Realm.)

At the time of his disappearance, Michael Thompson was 25 years old, and one of the most powerful mentalists on record. Along with his friend Erebus, he was one of the more notable heroes in the nation and was being considered for membership in the Guardians.

[In game terms, the Phantom and Erebus had gone from 250 Champions points to 350. It was, yes, a long-running campaign. Technoid wasn't around quite as much, so didn't get as high. Bazooka, Brimstone, Alpha, and Beta were NPC's. Chameleon and Mystra were PC's of players who drifted in and out of the game.]
"All right, I am not the Shadow. You have nothing at all to worry about. Except, oh, wait, I'm pointing a gun at you."

--The Shadow

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Post by The Shadow » Sat Aug 30, 2008 11:15 am

I'll also say a word about Erebus, though I can't speak for his player.

He was a museum curator specializing in Greco-Roman antiquities who was cleaning and preparing for display a well-preserved set of Roman cesti. (Spiked bracers, basically.) The cesti had somehow been imbued with power from the Shadow Realm, a vanishingly rare thing in this dimension... The power rushed into him and tried to take over his mind, but he successfully resisted and bent it to his control. However, his personality was undoubtedly warped by the constant struggle for dominance.

The Shadow Realm is a vicious place inimical to Earthly life, and indeed, virtually any life. The native creatures largely prey upon each other, as they don't have enough life-force to sustain themselves for long... there do not appear to be any pure autotrophs there, at all. The intelligent inhabitants (whom we encountered only late in the campaign) wield shadow-magic and engage in constant battles for supremacy; the Realm is divided up into the territories of various warlords.

Erebus had the ability to scry through shadows, and also to open up portals connecting shadowy areas. (Such portals travelled briefly through the Shadow Realm, so occasionally he had to fight off hungry predators to make it back.) He could also open up portals to the Shadow Realm itself, he and the Phantom used this ability to follow Jessica when she fled there. [In the original campaign, this led to a series of extradimensional adventures for just the two of them as we mostly lost contact with the other players. Though in that continuity, unlike this one, they stayed in periodic touch with home base.]

Erebus could also manipulate shadow-magic in a variety of ways, though he found this difficult and draining. Notably, he could throw "darts" of black, hungry energy. (Jessica seems to have used a more powerful version of this on Photon.) He was also prone to charging up his cesti (which he always wore) with similar energies. Finally, he was a retrocognitive, able to pick up the traces of past events. It is not known how this tied into his Shadow-based abilities; perhaps he was latently psionic before gaining his powers? Or perhaps all shadow-mages can do the like. (It's hard to tell, as Erebus appears to be the only human shadow-mage.)

Erebus... did not play well with others. :) Though fiercely loyal to his teammates, and zealous in defending the innocent, he did not hold the lives and well-being of his enemies in high esteem, to say the least of it. Though he didn't rack up too high of a body count, let's just say that the kills he did make were the ones where he was unlikely to get caught.

He was also undoubtedly the most quotable member of Shadow-Force. His favorite exclamation when angry was, "I'll hand him his SPINE!" He could go back and forth between such statements and a calm, erudite, courteous discussion of the issues at hand with alarming ease.

Another great Erebus line: The group has just escaped from a villain's individually-designed deathtraps, and one of the villain's brainwashed stooges has injured him badly - he is going into cardiac arrest. A government agent who has just arrived implores us to save him so he can be questioned. Erebus: "Gee, I seem to have forgotten my CPR card. Sorry, can't help you. It just wouldn't be proper."

[I could go on and on and on with Erebus quotes, but I'll stop now. :) He and Jessica together were always good for laughs. Can't... resist... OK, a couple more :)]

Erebus receives word of a villainous situation while with Jessica. "Darling, I must go." "I'm coming with you!" "No, you're not." "How're you gonna stop me?" "I'll duct-tape you to your car." "You wouldn't DARE!"

Suffice to say, a round later Jessica had her wrist neatly duct-taped to the side-mirror of her car. :) After that, when Jessica got stubborn about super-danger, all Erebus had to do was hold up a roll of duct tape and grin disturbingly. ;)

On another occasion, Jessica had come *that* close to being killed in scary psionic-from-a-distance fashion by the Doctor, only to be saved at the last second by the Phantom. Erebus arrives, concerned and relieved.

Jessica, in syrupy sweet tones: "Erebus?"

Erebus: "Yes, my dear?"

J: "My birthday's coming up. Would you get something for me?"

E: "Of course, darling. What would you like?"

J: "I want his spine. BRONZED!"

[No, she didn't his spine, bronzed or otherwise. The guy did die, though, and believe me, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. :P Nor was there really any viable alternative - imagine Hannibal Lecter as the most powerful telepath and mind controller EVER. Only he doesn't think small like Hannibal, genocide is more his style.]
Last edited by The Shadow on Wed Sep 23, 2009 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"All right, I am not the Shadow. You have nothing at all to worry about. Except, oh, wait, I'm pointing a gun at you."

--The Shadow

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Post by The Shadow » Sat Aug 30, 2008 11:17 am

Some notes on the various power sources: (Please note that it is impossible in this universe to affect "all powers" with trait powers. There must always be some sort of limitation, either by source or type of power.)

Psionics: It's the oldest known form of power, and also the most common. It has a genetic basis; the genes responsible have been dubbed the "metagene complex". The metagene complex has at least seven different distinct variants, three "psionic" and four "mutant". The three psionic variants roughly correspond to telepathy, ESP, and telekinesis. Genetic research suggests that the the psionic variants are much older than the mutant ones (and the historical data, sketchy as they are, support this - I'll post later on the world's timeline), and that the telepathy variant is the oldest. (Certainly it is still the most common, followed by esper and then teke. More unusual psionic abilities like teleportation are significantly less common.)

Despite their genetic similarities, psionic and mutant powers are distinct. Effects that nullify psionics leave mutant powers untouched, and vice versa. Psionic powers tend to be developable with practice rather than undergoing sudden "activation" the way mutant powers so often do. However, unusual psionic powers are occasionally found that are hard to tell apart from mutant ones based on external evidence; a genetic scan can settle the matter definitively, though. (As can attempts at nullification...)

Though psionics is by far the most common source of super-power, it also tends to be weaker - those with power usable as superheroes and villains only slightly outnumber mutants of similar ability. No truly powerful psis enter the historical record before Nostradamus, the most powerful precognitive on record.

Super-geniuses (of the sort who invent super-science) are almost invariably psionics with the esper complex. None were known to exist before Nikola Tesla, popularly known as "Dr. Marvel". Many people attribute the sudden upsurge in psionic and mutant powers in the early decades of the 20th century to the explosion of his lab in 1895. (Sabotage by Thomas Edison is widely suspected in the "accident".) This theory also helps account for the fact that supers are more common in North America than anywhere else, though the worldwide distribution of supers does not fit altogether comfortably. (In particular, Europe and East Asia have more than one would expect given the smaller numbers in South America and Africa.)

Mutants: The four "mutant" versions of the metagene complex have different interactions with matter and energy, and are heavily susceptible to environmental factors. Indeed, while mutant powers sometimes manifest spontaneously, often they await some sort of lethal or near-lethal accident to suddenly activate. The result of such an activation depends not only on the metagene variant, but also on the nature of the accident. It is known that the mutant variants of the metagene are partially regulated by testosterone; males with usable mutant powers outnumber females. Mutant supers also tend to be more aggressive, and are more likely to end up villains. Visibly obvious mutations are quite rare, but not unknown.

Mutants are vanishingly rare in the historical record before the 1920's. Only three since 400 AD are widely accepted by historians of Europe, for example, with a fourth suspected. (Rasputin, as it happens. There may well have been others, of course, who were not recorded. There are also a sprinkling of mutants in records of other cultures, notably the Chinese.) It is believed that such mutants were sports, the psionic variants of the metagene being damaged in transmission.

Magic: It's usually a (highly) trained skill, involving the manipulation of tradition-soaked symbol-systems... but it's also possible to be granted magical powers - whether on purpose or by accident. (Erebus, for example, gained his powers from an object charged with extradimensional magic.) Whichever, it is certainly not inheritable in the usual sense. Magic is a distinct power source for purposes of nullification. Some mages employ spirits to do magic for them; these are often called "sorcerers".

Magical beings like vampires exist as well. Generally these have either come from other dimensions, or are the product of powerful spells. Nullifying magic sometimes can actually do them damage; for most, though, it just suppresses their unusual abilities.

Magic can be shown to have existed at least as far back as the first century BC; a sophisticated Atlantean artifact has been dated to about that time. (The Atlanteans claim that they were practicing magic as much as 8000 years ago, though most scholars do not trust their historical reckoning.) The earliest known non-Atlantean magical artifacts are Chinese, and datable to the third century AD. Magical power and magical creatures seem to have vanished between 400 and 800 AD; both returned in force in the 1920's, when existing "magical" systems suddenly began to work, and the first known extradimensional beings (satyrs) crossed over to our dimension. The explosion of Tesla's lab is, again, widely implicated in this change - the speculation is that the explosion of one of his experiments somehow weakened the dimensional boundaries between Earth and other dimensions.

All that appears to be necessary for a symbol-system to "work" magically is internal consistency and a certain degree of complexity. It is in principle possible to create one's own magical system, but this is sufficiently difficult that few try. Different magical systems have different areas of emphasis, being good at some things and poor at others.

While there are hellish dimensions full of what might as well be called "demons", nothing is known for certain about the human afterlife in general, despite the claims of some mages. (However, it IS possible to sell your soul to extradimensional entities for power, and they DO recover their property to the best of their ability.) Likewise, while there are dimensions that are home to beings of vast power, none has been found corresponding closely to any Earthly religion. If any religion is the result of extradimensional interference, the influence is more subtle than that. [And we don't care to explore the issue further, so you'll have to be happy with that answer. :)] There are, however, small knots of cultists to various unpleasant beings. (Including some that bear an uncanny resemblance to those described by H. P. Lovecraft...)

Super-Science: It can be precisely defined in this setting as "any technology that cannot be explained by classical physics (including its extension into special relativity)". Thus many real-world inventions, like transistors and lasers, can be shut down by powers that nullify "super-science". However, super-science is assuredly not limited to such wimpy levels of disrespect for the classical laws of physics. :) This isn't to say that super-science is necessarily irreproducible or chaotic; it has its own rules and logic of development. (Though you often have to be an esper super-genius to understand them.) Except when it doesn't! Certainly the more gadgeteers tinker, the further away a Theory of Everything seems.

The reason why (weirder) super-science hasn't revolutionized the world is that the industrial complex just doesn't have the tools to make the tools to make the tools to mass produce it. Super-scientists just aren't common enough, and generally can't explain themselves in terms normal scientists and engineers can understand. Worse, they even have trouble talking to *each other*, since each has generally come up with his theories in isolation, using unique terminology or no terminology at all. Worse yet, the field(s) of super-science is (are) so vast, two different devices producing apparently similar effects may be working in totally different ways.

Thus (weirder) super-science devices tend to be handcrafted and hideously expensive. (Not to mention they often require very expensive components.) Governments and large corporations may keep a pet gadgeteer to make devices for them, but nobody else can afford it. A few gadgeteers have devoted themselves to inventing revolutionary devices that can be produced with bleeding-edge modern technology, and have become fabulously rich doing it; but most find that sort of thing unutterably boring - and in any case, such devices do little to accelerate the pace of progress beyond what normals are already doing on their own.

Super-science has not been able to fully come to grips with psionic and mutant powers. While certain changes to the brain and body are necessary for such powers to develop, they do not seem to be sufficient: Something more is involved, which has thus far eluded explanation. (Animals have never demonstrated psionic or mutant powers, despite experimental efforts.) As for magic... there is a traditional tension between mages and gadgeteers, as neither fits into the other's worldview.

While super-science can produce artificial intelligences that can easily pass the Turing test (just look at Alpha), it is an open question whether such AI's are purely the result of programming or whether they embody something more. Some telepaths have the ability to interact with machine intelligences; and some mages even claim to be able to detect and manipulate machine souls! Super-science inventors themselves violently disagree on what is going on with artificial intelligence research. The exact status of an AI may even depend on who invented it.

Interestingly, while both magic and super-science can do dimensional travel, they seem to have different specialties in this regard. Super-scientists seem to find it much easier to reach dimensions that resemble Earth and have similar physical laws, while mages tend to reach dimensions that are flat-out bizarre. Some overlap is possible. Mutant and psionic abilities have never been demonstrated to contact other dimensions.

Atlantean crystalline super-science appears to have been the result of centuries of telepathic collaboration, not so much the result of esper super-genius.

Training: Naturally, it's quite limited in terms of the powers it can grant, but within a narrow range, normals can keep up with supers pretty well - it just takes an enormous amount of work and dedication. "Chi" based abilities that go beyond the human norm, though, are generally a form of psionics or magic. (Which it is depends on the exact school of thought.) Trait effects that can influence trained powers are exceedingly rare, but not unheard-of.
Last edited by The Shadow on Mon Sep 07, 2009 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"All right, I am not the Shadow. You have nothing at all to worry about. Except, oh, wait, I'm pointing a gun at you."

--The Shadow

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Post by The Shadow » Sun Sep 21, 2008 2:01 pm

Here are some notable people at Jon's workplace. (Be warned that I've snipped out a number of plot-hooks for public consumption.) There is a bit of tension toward him from the math department, as the physics department managed to secure funds to hire Jon at their expense. Naturally, many people in both departments couldn't care less; Jon himself is one of these. (While too observant to be entirely oblivious to academic politics, he finds it a crashing bore.)

Jon's status and cachet only increased when he was kidnapped by the Covenant. I mean, when you're one of a select few that an international supervillainous group sees fit to kidnap to work for them on a secret island base, it has to mean SOMETHING. Already a fairly "sexy" choice as major professor due to his youth and prominence, the incident increased his desirability yet further.

Dr. Rudy Gottlieb is Jon's department head. An experimentalist in atomic physics and laser traps, Jon is his wunderkind, a plum for the department. (Filling a bit of a hole they'd had relativity-wise, too.) He is anxious for results to justify the political capital he spent to bring Jon to Seattle, but thus far has been very hands-off, fearful of bruising his genius. :) (The more so after the Covenant incident.)

Dr. Karen Manning is a string theorist and a friend of Jon's. They like to bicker about the relative merits of their different approaches to unified field theory over coffee. Karen is divorced and has teenage kids who are giving her grief lately; she sometimes blows off steam to Jon, who is a good listener.

It has since been established in-game that Karen's kids are Jim (14) and Julie (17). The ex is Stan, who is an alcoholic. He lives in Vancouver.

Susan Radner is a graduate student in physics; Jon is her thesis advisor. Still in the initial stages of settling on a topic, she is interested in the details of how superheroes produce energy. She is planning to ask Photon for a demonstration of his abilities under controlled conditions. Jon, of course, is doing his quiet best to dissuade her. He doesn't think it's a promising line of research, but also, of course, he wants to protect his secret identity.

Susan has a personal reason for her interest in superheroes. The Phantom and Erebus saved her from an assailant one night on what was for them a routine patrol. She has been fascinated ever since, and hopes to pump Photon a little bit about them if she can get to talk to him.

Gerhard Ehrgeiz is also a grad student, one of Jon's RA's. He is of course from Germany, and thoroughly fluent in English. Gerhard is very bright even for a physicist, and has ambition to match, always looking out for the main chance. He has hitched himself, as he sees it, to Jon's rising star.

Gerhard ("Jerry" to his English-speaking friends) has noticed over the last year that Jon sometimes slips away with a lame excuse. The really odd thing is that sometimes he seems to just... vanish. He entered a stairwell once, for example, and Gerhard went after him to ask a question... but he wasn't there. Odd, but not alarming; Jon is so "boring" otherwise that it can hardly be anything serious. (There's also the fact that excessive curiosity about his major professor's doings could damage his career.) However, he is keeping a reluctant eye out to humor his girlfriend Melissa (see below). Sure, one's career comes first, but continuing to get laid is also a priority.

Melissa Sanders is a senior in journalism. She was present once visiting Gerhard when Jon slipped away to do Photon-stuff, and found it intriguing. Pestering Gerhard with questions, she found that Jon had spent a few weeks in the hospital a year earlier, having been shot in a mugging. She has now concocted a theory that Jon is involved with drug dealing or something equally spicy, and is all afire to uncover a hot story that will look good on her resume. Thankfully, she has not yet made any connection to Photon.

Xing Hu is Jon's other RA. Ambitious in a totally different sense than Gerhard, he has some very strange and interesting ideas about furthering the field that attract Jon's attention. Though he's not quite as bright as Gerhard, Jon finds talking with him very stimulating and fruitful. (This drives Gerhard privately CRAZY. Naturally, he hasn't made his feelings obvious - it comes out as a competitive streak.) Jon's even considering him inviting him to some of his chats with Dev (see below), which if it occurs will only drive Gerhard even wilder with jealousy.

Hu is a hard, dedicated worker, and finds Gerhard's competitive attitude to be very crass. His English is not the best, though he is improving. He studiously ignores anything in Jon's behavior not relevant to his job; it would be discourteous in his view to do otherwise.

Timothy Reed is a TA for Jon's first-year physics class. Tim is earnest, a bit gawky, and quite in awe of Jon (who is, after all, only a couple years older than he is). He's considering hooking up with him as an RA once he passes his comps. He has subliminally noticed Jon's occasional disappearances, but they don't bother him any; Dr. Winters can probably walk on water, too! He's a pretty good instructor.

Thomas Nwafor is another TA of Jon's. A recently-arrived Nigerian student, Thomas (never Tom) is a thorough but exacting instructor; he is already developing a reputation as a hard grader. Also, he has a fairly thick accent.

Paul Nichols is a freshman in Jon's first-year physics class. A sullen young delinquent when Jon first came to Seattle, he's one of the kids Jon worked with who warmed up to him and confided in him. Paul turned his life around, got his GED (he's quite bright), and is now bound and determined to become an engineer. He is finding college very difficult, however, and is struggling. He's in Tim's recitation section. Paul has been a little shy about approaching Jon, unwilling to make it seem that he's sucking up and prevailing on old acquaintance. Jon has noticed him and greeted him warmly, but has also noticed Paul's reticent response. He respects this, though he's a little puzzled by it.

Dr. Ketaro Watanabi is the head of the math department, a set theorist. Though he's been in this country for decades, he hasn't so much gotten accustomed to informal, offensively familiar Americans as resigned to them. (He visits his family in Japan frequently.) A consummate office politician, Dr. Watanabi lost out recently to Gottlieb regarding funding for new faculty. While reserving the bulk of his ire for his opposite number, Watanabi's attitude of polite, exquisitely correct hostility spills over onto Jon himself as well.

Dr. Devindar (Dev) Singh Dolma is a mathematician specializing in differential geometry, with sidelines into number theory and many other things. An older man with a very quirky sense of humor, he and Jon hit it off almost at once. Dev is full of strange enthusiasms, creating mathematical "toy models" of the most bizarre things, and he values Jon's insights regarding these. (To give you an idea, for a few months last year, he was seriously (?) trying to prove the existence of God using mathematics alone.)

Here's a conversation between them that came to me of a sudden:

Jon, joking; "You mathematicians are all crazy."

Dev, apparently serious: "This is truth. Do you really think that boring ordinary sanity would help me to classify 24-dimensional polytopes?" (Dev is a frequent contributor to a website classifying n-dimensional polytopes. He does this for fun, in his spare time.)

Jon: "Hmmm. You've... got a point there. I guess it doesn't help much with mapping the linkages between loops of spacetime, either."

Dev, smiling slightly: "And now think of all the boring ordinary sane people who pay us to do these things, yes?" He taps his temple. "Crazy like a fox!"
"All right, I am not the Shadow. You have nothing at all to worry about. Except, oh, wait, I'm pointing a gun at you."

--The Shadow

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Post by Libra » Mon Sep 22, 2008 8:13 am

That last line alway terrifies me when I hear it. It means someone is going to be Crazily Awesome - emphasis on the Crazy. . .
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Post by The Shadow » Sat Nov 22, 2008 9:25 pm

A timeline of the Shadow-Force world, as it differs from our own:

Prehistory: Telepathic powers arise in the human genome. (This has been demonstrated by genetic research.) Powerful psis in subsequent history are either very uncommon, or mostly smart enough to go undocumented.

ca. 10,000 BC: In the Atlantean version of history, a group of telepathic humans gathered together and formed their own civilization, soon moving to Atlantis, a large island in the Atlantic Ocean.

ca. 8,000 BC: The Atlanteans claim to have developed their crystal-tech and a flourishing magical system by this time.

ca. 2000-1500 BC: The rise of Atlantis in mainstream historical thought. Scholars do not believe they initially had a large number of telepaths - the preponderance of telepathy among Atlanteans is attributed to genetic drift and selective breeding.

ca. 1000 BC: All agree that Atlantis, which had previously traded with the Phoenicians, Etruscans, and Greeks, adopts an isolationist policy.

ca. 200 BC: According to the Atlantean view, Atlantis is destroyed in a crystal-tech accident. The survivors settle on a small island south of the Azores and use their powers to shield it from discovery. According to the mainstream view, Atlanteans may have lived there the whole time - no solid geological evidence of Atlantis or its destruction has ever been discovered. Some even claim they started as a Phoenician colony, though the Atlanteans hotly dispute this.

406 AD: Attila the Hun, the first widely agreed-upon mutant, is born. (Scholars continue to argue about earlier figures.) He could call storms.

400-800 AD: Magic disappears from the world. Magical creatures either die or flee to other dimensions. Dragons, vampires (several kinds), lycanthropes, satyrs, fey, and others are known or highly suspected to have existed.

1200's AD: A French baron displays immunity to swords and arrows. (He is eventually killed by a catapult.)

1503 AD: Nostradamus, the most astonishing precognitive on record, is born. [His prophecies are less vague and FAR more accurate in this world than in ours.]

1640 AD: A woman being burned as a witch in Germany spontaneously develops fire powers. (She is shot.) [A scattering of other mutants arise elsewhere in the world too.]

1854 AD: Nikola Tesla, "Dr. Marvel", is born. He is the first known esper super-genius.

1884 AD: Tesla migrates to the United States, working initially for Thomas Edison. He is exposed to a powerful electric shock which brings his super-intellect into full flower. A month later he astonishes the world with his first crude robot.

1895 AD: Tesla is killed in the explosion of his lab.

1917 AD: World War I is definitively ended by American use of Tesla-derived weaponry.

1920's AD: The first "Mystery Men" appear, sporting psionic and mutant powers. (Others are normals imitating them.) Magic returns gradually through the decade, getting stronger as it progresses. The Shadow, the Grey Wraith, Doc Raven, and Dr. Miracle are prominent figures in this time. (Dr. Miracle is the only surviving Mystery Man in 2008, and is a member of the Galactic Guardians. His codename is a deliberate homage to Tesla, though he is a mage himself.) [Note: Doc Raven and the Grey Wraith are characters from a Roaring 20's Champions game the group had a while back. I thought it would be fun to tie them into the Shadow-Force universe. As for the Shadow, well, he has a special spot in my heart. :) And Dr. Miracle is a long-established figure in the campaign.]

1931 AD: The first satyrs appear in New England and Greece, quickly establishing themselves as a major threat. Many Mystery Men band together to fight back this extradimensional menace. (Some satyrs still remain in 2008, though they have quieted down considerably. A few are even superheroes, invariably mages. Their DNA is almost identical to human, which creeps a lot of people out. Yes, there are female satyrs, and they do have the hots for human men, but they aren't nearly as horny and aggressive as the male satyrs are.) [Other extradimensional beings appear in succeeding years.]

1939 AD: World War II begins. Governments on both sides make use of superpowered individuals - many famous Golden Age heroes and villains came to light during the war. The most famous American hero is "Uncle" Sam Brown. (Though he looks nothing like the traditional "Uncle Sam", being a clean-shaven brick.)

1943 AD: A power struggle between Nazi super-scientists and the Thule Society results in one scientist (Werner von Braun, later known as Raketmann or Rocket Man) fleeing to the Allies and another (Werner Heisenberg) being killed. The destruction of Heisenberg's lab produces the superbeing Nukleon. The Thule Society consolidates its hold on Hitler. (Their leader wore a mask and never revealed his name save to Hitler, claiming it would give power over him. He is known to history as Namenlos, or the Nameless.) The Nazis have a single superscientist left, Dr. Mengele. An infamous geneticist and eugenicist who experimented on death camp prisoners (producing a number of mutants in the process), he was executed during the Nuremberg Trials.

1945 AD: Hitler appeals to the Nameless for a 'Wonder Weapon' to end the war. The Thule Society engages in a massive ritual in a misguided attempt to summon one of the Aesir, probably Thor. It went horribly awry (later magical research showed they were trying to summon something without any clear idea whether it even existed or not), summoning the being known only as the Unseen Death. (Unsichtbar Tote in German.) The Death kills all the members of the Thule Society in reach, apparently with a slashing weapon, and then begins hunting down the surviving members, cutting a swath through Europe in the process.

Nuclear bombs are dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, producing many mutants as well as staggering loss of life. Germany and Japan surrender unconditionally to the Allies.

1946 AD: The Unseen Death is carving its way through France, making a beeline for Argentina, when it is ambushed by the American mage Seventh Son. Seventh Son is killed in the ensuing fight, but the Death is apparently banished or destroyed. In the days after the war, supers are viewed much the way the atomic bomb is - necessary but feared military assets. [This is the world's equivalent of the "Super Gap". Heroes and villains are around, but keep a low profile.]

1946-1991 AD: The Cold War employs a number of supers on both sides. The Russians strongly disapprove of magic (it's too "elitist" and "superstitious", not to mention highly favored by the Nazis), but are much enamoured of psionics. As for mutants... It is suspected that many of Stalin's purges were deliberate attempts to create them.

1950: Senator Joseph McCarthy - a very mild esper - notices an attempt by a Russian telepath to read his mind. He embarks on a crusade to root out Communist telepathic spies, and many innocent telepaths are caught up in his net. McCarthy is remembered in 2008 as a heroic figure fighting a genuine threat, who became tragically overzealous and went too far. [This world's equivalent of McCarthyism was focussed almost exclusively on those with psionic powers.]

Telepaths have been perceived as a wronged minority ever since this time. [This is one reason why they are not more feared for their powers - it smacks too much of McCarthy. It's also one reason why crimefighting registration is so lenient and hands-off at the first level.]

William MacCrae (the future Bazooka) is born.

1965 AD: Earth is invaded in multiple locations by the extradimensional bipedal lizards dubbed the Hissies. (Their own name for themselves is unpronounceable by humans.) Their super-scientific weaponry proves to be very vulnerable to electricity, and superheroes around the world exploit this vulnerability mercilessly. The Atlanteans reveal themselves to the world at this time, offering their aid against the Hissy threat. (In 2008, they have non-voting observer status in the General Assembly of the United Nations.) The role of superheroes in saving the world results in an outpouring of appreciation and adulation - supers are viewed in a much more positive light thereafter. [The world's Silver Age roars onto the scene with the Hissies.] The most iconic and cherished American hero is Solar, a flying energy-projector with legendary charisma and good looks.

One of the major Hissy beachheads is in Vietnam. Once they are driven out, American forces become embroiled with the Viet Cong. This Vietnam War is not as heavily protested at home as it was in our world, though it is still quite unpopular. During the war, it first becomes common for superheroes to wear masks and conceal their identities; while many are willing to serve their country, they do not wish to be preferentially drafted for their powers.

1966 AD: James Harris (the future Erebus) is born.

1967 AD: A counter-invasion of the Hissy home dimension is launched. Unfortunately, on their home turf, Hissy weaponry is not nearly as vulnerable, and the invasion fails. A strike team of superheroes convinces the Hissies that their leaders can be assassinated at will, however (none were actually killed, but the possibility was vividly impressed upon them) and a peace accord is reached. (The threat of sending across nuclear weapons to their dimension also impressed them - they had never invented anything of the sort.) The Hissies agreed to destroy all their dimensional-travel equipment and to provide samples of their literature so that we could understand them better. In turn both sides would mutually ignore each other. (Hissy literature revealed them to regard all other beings as cattle, and their society to be based on the submission of the weak to the strong.) Within days of resolving the worldwide crisis, the Cold War is back into full swing.

1968 AD: William MacCrae fights in Vietnam, manifesting force-field powers and eventually a powerful blast. His slow aging did not become apparent until later.

1970 AD: American forces withdraw from Vietnam. The inconclusive and bloody war with the Hissies drained enthusiasm for further fighting faster than in our world.

1978: The American government establishes its crimefighter registration program, regularizing the public activity of superheroes. [This can be regarded as the beginning of the Bronze Age, which is more or less still going on. The Shadow-Force world never had an Iron Age of comics as such, though there are some heroes who tend in that direction. Erebus, we're looking at you. :) ]

1980: Scott Campbell (the future Technoid) is born. He reveals a formidable intellect from infancy.

1981: Elizabeth Avery (the future Brimstone) is born.

1983: The first incarnation of the Galactic Guardians is formed. Many superhero teams had popped up around the country, and this was an attempt at producing a team for the whole nation. Of the original team, only Dr. Miracle and the Golden Guardian remain in 2008. The latter is probably the most famous and well-known extant American hero.

Michael "Thompson" (the future Phantom) and Jonathan Clark (Photon) are born.

1988: William MacCrae retires from the US Army Rangers. Many details of his career are classified.

1989-91: The Soviet bloc and Soviet Union fall, just as they did in our world.

1991: The Gulf War occurs, in eerie accord with one of Nostradamus' prophecies. He predicted many major and even minor details of the war, including a clear reference to General Schwarzkopf's name. This draws considerable attention to Nostradamus' last remaining dated prophecy, for 2012. (There are a number of prophecies with no dates attached, the fulfillment of which is often controversial... all the dated ones have come true, however, within a year of the date he gave.)

1993: The Freedom Squad is formed in Tacoma by American Eagle II, Black Phantom II, and Hardhat. They are later joined by Jo-Tan and Victrix.

Elizabeth Avery spontaneously teleports away from a runaway tanker truck loaded with sulfuric acid. She is not entirely spared the fumes when it crashes, however.

1994: Michael "Thompson" is kidnapped by P.S.I. and dubbed "Phantom" for his unusual astral projection power.

1996: Jonathan Clark is adopted by the Winters family.

1997: James Harris is infected by Shadow energies, mastering them to become the being known as Erebus. He begins to fight crime almost immediately.

1999: The Phantom's latent full-spectrum telepathic powers are activated, as well as minor telekinesis. He keeps them secret from P.S.I.

2000: The legendary Millennium Bug plot by the super-hacker DarKnight is narrowly averted... ironically revealing in the process an otherwise perfect plot by unknown parties to enslave the world through their computers.

The Phantom escapes from P.S.I.

2001: On September 11, a plot by terrorists to hijack planes and crash them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Capitol is foiled by several different hero groups. [Most people have forgotten about it by 2008. There is no Patriot Act, and no war in Iraq.]

X-97 Alpha and Beta are created by an unknown super-scientist. Both are very close-mouthed about their "father", who was murdered shortly after their creation.

Scott Campbell, having kept his super-intellect mostly under wraps, resolves to fight crime after his brother is killed in a mugging.

William MacCrae also begins his crimefighting career, for reasons he has not shared.

2002: The Phantom and Erebus meet and put an end to the organization known as P.S.I. They are joined by Technoid.

Elizabeth Avery discovers she can produce fiery "grenades" from her hands. She resolves to fight crime as "Brimstone" once she graduates from college at ASU the following year.

2003: Shadow-Force is formed in Seattle by the Phantom, Erebus, and Technoid. They are soon joined by Bazooka, Brimstone, and X-97.

Shadow-Force defeats Seth-Amon, a powerful demonologist.

2004: Shadow-Force encounters Forestrike and his gang for the first time, fighting with them repeatedly over the next several years.

Hardhat is murdered by VOICE. Shadow-Force defeats the VOICE squad responsible, and they and the Freedom Squad later tangle inconclusively with the head of the syndicate, the infamous Red Dragon.

2005: Jonathan Winters comes to Seattle as a full professor of physics at UW.

Shadow-Force goes cross-country to help contain a prison-break at Stronghold. Forestrike and Jack o'Lantern are among the escapees.

Alpha is hacked, turning Shadow-Force's own base against them. He manages to give sufficient veiled warning in time for the group to take action, however. [Alpha mimicking HAL 9000 in a creepy voice, "I'm sorry, I can't do that... DAVE."]

2006: Shadow-Force is kidnapped and placed in individually-designed deathtraps in the underwater base of a mysterious South African villain. The guy was whisked off by the feds after he was defeated, and they never did learn what was going on. [The Phantom had one of his most memorable funny lines here. After the villain elaborately explains the trap over an intercom and is about to sign off, he says, "Wait! Aren't you going to tell me all about your childhood and why you're doing all this?" "...No." "But it's traditional!" :)]

Forestrike and his gang hijack a plane, which is subsequently blown up by the Air Force. Several members of the gang are killed, and the rest flee the country.

Jonathan Winters develops electromagnetic powers and joins the Shadow-Force reserve team under the name Photon.

2007: Photon goes undercover to defeat the Covenant. Shadow-Force and the Freedom Squad, working together, bring down Red Dragon. (She later escapes Stronghold.)

Forestrike sends the Phantom two letters, nearly a year apart, warning in veiled terms of Diabolus, the Doctor, troubles with the Shadow Realm, and other things, some of which are still cryptic.

The extradimensional archmage known as Diabolus breaches the Earth dimension in Seattle. Shadow-Force narrowly saves the city and perhaps the world. The team comes to prominent national attention.

2008: Technoid is exposed to a device of an evil super-scientist that somehow melds his body with his power armor and other inventions. A squad of the scientist's minions had earlier tried to invade the Shadow-Force base... only to be thoroughly, ruthlessly, and untraceably destroyed by Erebus without using any powers and without making a single attack. [Erebus to the cops on the bloodstained lawn, later: *clucks tongue* "Poor bastards must've set the charges wrong. Blew up in their faces."]

The Freedom Squad are murdered by the Doctor. They are avenged by Shadow-Force after a long chase through multiple dimensions. (Photon sits this one out, remaining behind in Seattle.)

The Phantom and Erebus disappear into the Shadow Realm. Shadow-Force is dissolved. [Note: The game was originally played from about 1990-1995. We've had to change the timeline here and there to adjust to bringing it into the present.] The current campaign begins.

2012: Nostradamus' last remaining dated prophecy states that, 'Those who are men and those who are not men will fight side by side against the fallen angels who bow not to Lucifer.' There is much discussion in 2008 about just what that could mean.
Last edited by The Shadow on Mon Jul 12, 2010 7:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"All right, I am not the Shadow. You have nothing at all to worry about. Except, oh, wait, I'm pointing a gun at you."

--The Shadow

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Post by Libra » Mon Nov 24, 2008 2:21 pm

It seems that interesting times are ahead for the World's heroes, as always.

Keep up the good work Shadow. :D
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Warning!: May cause Thread Drift.