The Doom Watch campaign which I'm currently running is an ultra-high-powered Cosmic-level game of M&M 3rd Edition. Inspired by The Authority, it's based around the idea of a group of Cosmic powered Superheroes who operate from and interact with Earth, rather than being in some distant part of the galaxy. How will their presence and actions affect the global balance of power on a world still reeling from the emergence of Superpowers?
I wanted a setting which would have internal consistency of logic in a way most Supers settings don't, and adequately explain many questions about such things. For instance, aliens are often human-looking to the point where inter-species romance and children occur. Time travel and parallel worlds are a comic-book staple, and yet the great stellar empires or cosmic beings never seem to take advantage of them. And what place does Magic have in a setting? What separates it from superscience?
I set the default PC power level at 20. Yes, this sets things way above a typical campaign- but that's the point. The setting will include more typically powered Superhero action, but this will be taking place with NPCs and largely under the radar of the PCs. The more powerful NPC supers may occasionally ally with or fight against the PCs, but this won't be the main focus of things.
The following are the main source of inspiration I've used in putting together this setting, unusually listing more novels than comics- but then, SF tends to think bigger more often than comic books:-
-The Authority comic books (obviously)
-The Dan Abnett/Andy Lanning Marvel Cosmic story arcs
-The CORE Command RPG by Dream Pod 9
-Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri PC game
-The Uplift novels by David Brin
-The Culture novels by Iain M Banks
-The Xeelee saga by Stephen Baxter
-A Fire Upon the Deep/A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge
-The Hyperion series by Dan Simmons
((And yes, the player who finally named the group of superheroes Doom Watch is a big fan of obscure British sci-fi dramas.))
Over 300,000 years ago, the primitive forbears of Transhumanity took their first faltering steps toward the stars. They spread slowly, colonising once system after another. Eventually, as their science and culture advanced, they began to change themselves, uplifting each generation from the semi-sentient beasts that were Humans to the many breeds of Transhuman that succeeded them. On some worlds they found life, and shaped themselves to live their more comfortably. On others, they turned barren rocks into Edens. Faster and faster they spread. Terrible wars were fought, and worlds burned, but eventually, alliances began to grow stronger, and the many factions slowly became one.
The Transhuman Hegemony was the pinnacle of Transhuman culture and technology. At it's peak, it spanned thirty-seven civilised galaxies, all linked by the great Gates harnessing the Black Holes at the galactic cores and spanned by a Flaw network that allowed Wormholes to be opened to the far reaches of a galaxy rather than simply to nearby systems.
Great feats of engineering reshaped whole systems and even star clusters into Dysonian structures which would have been visible across the galaxy even to pre-starflight telescopes. Machines started to vanish as external devices, becoming integrated into the Transhuman body on levels that children would inherit. Quantum Technology allowed the fundamental energies of the universe to be reshaped and converted as easily as nanotechnology had allowed molecules to be manipulated. At the height of its power, it seemed as if nothing would be beyond the power of the Hegemony.
One of the more ambitious projects was something that once would merely have been conducted with computer simulations- which had long since achieved the level of full reality, several civilisations existing purely as data constructs inside some archive. But the creators of the Manifolds sought something that would impress with its very existence, not the most efficient solution to a problem.
A linked cluster of thousands of tiny pocket universes was generated, each a light-year across. Within each, a copy as detailed as records could make it of pre-Starflight Earth and it's Solar system was created. And then each one was populated, with the pre-Transhuman creatures who were the forebears of Transhumanity. At different stages of their development, and in different combinations- for the exact history of those distant epochs could not be agreed upon, and so all were included.
A starship was set as the Nexus point for the Manifold array, able to easily traverse the Manifolds and to alter the alignment of them. Only one Manifold at a time would exist in the Prime universe, and which one this was could be altered- though it would always appear at the same point.
It was as the Manifold project was nearing completion that the end of all things began.
The exact details of the collapse of the Transhuman Hegemony are unclear today, so widespread was the devastation. Though the reasons remembered now are vague and contradictory, the complex web of alliances that formed the Hegemony began to unravel. The process of entropy was slow, but inevitable, and eventually erupted into wars that grew ever more devastating. Eventually, the combatants exhausted themselves, isolated pockets of shattered victors who began a slow spiral into decline.
Today, the galaxy is home to less than a tenth of the inhabited systems it once possessed. Contact with other galaxies was lost when the great Galactic Gate at the core was shattered. A pre-Collapse star chart would show missing stars where the Star-killer weapons did their work, and where Dysonian structures once resided only incomprehensibly vast ruins now float.
Across the galaxy, starfaring civilisation is starting to re-establish itself. Systems ally with or are conquered by neighbours, explorers set out to seek other civilisations of the relics of the Hegemony era, still unmatched in its science.
And in a distant corner of the galaxy, the Manifold project lays forgotten, the humans inhabiting it thinking that the pocket-dimensions- given the illusion of stars and a greater universe- are the true worlds. As the Hegemony fell, the Manifolds were aligned so that an empty dimension resided in Prime Reality. Unknown, unseen, they shall remain this way forever...
Or until something within the Manifolds occurs, which could bring an inhabited system into this place.
Outside of the Universe, beyond time and space as Transhumanity know them, wait the Anathema.
The Hegemony knew them, and comprehended them as well as they could be comprehended by a mind bound by the laws of this universe. The surviving knowledge suggests that they were born of a universe with far different laws than this one. They achieved a perfect scientific mastery of their home universe's laws. And somehow, they were able to survive that universe's ending.
Now, they wait in the spaces between. They want a new universe to inhabit. They seem to feel this one would suit- given certain alterations. They are unable to act upon this universe from the nothingness they inhabit. But they can be involved in an action which originates from this universe- if something calls to them.
They have set their technology to alter reality at its base level within this universe. But they cannot activate it. Instead, they set it to respond to certain actions from beings here. They do something- a word, a gesture- and something happens in response.
This is magic.
But as magic is used more, the Anathema can begin to whisper into the mind of the one using it. They speak of other magics, increasing the power available. Soon, a magus heeds the whispers more and more. Eventually, the worship of the Dark Masters takes over more and more of a mage's life. And they begin to dream of the sealed gates being opened, the Dark Masters let into this reality.
All magic comes from the Anathema. A strong-willed mage can use it without being corrupted. But always, it has it's source in the dark, alien beings who seek only to enter this universe and twist it into their own.
Last edited by Tantavalist
on Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.