The Emerald City Guard
"Seattle needs heroes. Can you measure up?"
Heroic Municipal Employees
High-science running head-first into mystical heritage; Modern/Platinum-age action and adventure
Duwamps, the Queen City, Gateway to the Pacific, the Emerald City; Seattle has had many names over the years, but it has always served as a home for the strange and unusual, a sort of second-hand city, soaking up the unwanted and unusual from across the continent. Aeronautics giant, Gone Aircraft, made the area their home after World War two, keeping it's industry alive, but the greater metropolitan area remained little more than an oversized town for decades. Until the tech boom in the 90's, the west coast city was largely ignored, both politically and metahumanly. But the coming of Richard Door and his software empire, Nanosoft, radically altered the city's place in the world. Suddenly, no one could ignore Seattle, or the millions of dollars its software captains were raking in.
The first supervillains were transplants. Villains from other major histories who were attracted to Seattle by its money, technology, or emerging music industry. Invariably, these transplants would attract their heroic rivals from back home to shut them down and drag them back. These 'guest star' super heroes intrigued the city's population for years, but it wasn't until the Brighton Comet threatened to destroy the city in 1995 that Seattle gained a protector to call it's own.
The Emerald Guardian emerged from nowhere: a glowing, green woman with astounding energy powers who stopped the comet and sent it hurtling back into the skies. For over a decade, she appeared and disappeared without warning, saving the city from disaster and battling newly-emerging local supervillains like the mastermind Templeton Frei. Some speculate that she was a local inhabitant, given powers by the oncoming comet, while others theorize she is some sort of avatar, tied to the city itself. Whatever her past, the Emerald Guardian fought tooth and nail to protect the city, as well as its people, its ecology, and its history.
But now, things have changed. With Templton Frei's supposed reform, and the election of business-friendly mayor Gregor Dimes, the city's tone began to change, and the Guardian along with it. She became more reluctant to protect the financial interests of the city, ignoring daylight bank robberies and the Triad's nonviolent operations. Things went from bad to worse when Frei declared his grand plan to rebuild Bellevue into an upper-class paradise, and begin his expansion into formerly-protected wildlife and historical district. The city's former protector responded by razing his nearly-complete refinery and hurtling an approaching oil tanker into orbit. Miraculously, only five were injured in the attacks.
Today, the Emerald Guardian has been declared a rogue and has disappeared into reclusion. Most of Seattle's residents are torn about how they feel: Most natives remember the decade of loyal service and heroism, but the city's recent population explosion has brought in newcomers who only know her as the monster the mayor and city council have labeled her as. Her appearances are rare, and as often destructive as they are beneficial. Meanwhile, the city's home-grown villain population continues to expand, and its existing criminal networks are taking advantage of the Guardian's absence by expanding across Seattle and the eastside. The Seattle PD are stretched to their limit and outclassed, and all the while opportunists like Templeton Frei continue to profit in the chaos.
The Emerald City needs new heroes. It needs you.
The Emerald City Guard is a municipal super team, created to address problems that the SPD weren't equipped to handle themselves. While they are technically empowered by and answerable only to the City Council of Seattle, their jurisdiction is statewide, thanks to special arrangement with the King County Council and the Washington State Senate. They are intended as a responsive force, but are authorized to conduct their own investigations with council approval. Contrary to popular belief, Mayor Dimes has no power over the Guard directly or indirectly, and can only make official suggestions to the Council on how to handle the group.
The idea for a municipal superteam was first proposed in the late 90's, but deemed an unnecessary expense at the time, given Seattle's low supercrime occurrence and the presence of the Emerald Guardian. It gained grassroots support after the new millennium, leading to a yearly ballot initiative that voters handily approved, but the city council repeatedly tabled. Only after the Emerald Guardian went rogue did the council take the measure seriously, scrambling to assemble all the needed resources.
Like police officers or federal agents, member of the Emerald City Guard are accountable for their actions and must obey a strict set of discipline guidelines (copied, almost word-for-word, from the Seattle PD's own code of conduct). All official activities must be recorded, and any use of force must be justified with paperwork. Members are expected to behave professionally and courteously towards the public, keep any damages to a minimum, and never resort to violence unless a super-human threat does so first. Any use of deadly force is closely examined, just as it would be for any other law officer, but heroes of the City Guard are held more accountable, thanks to their heightened capabilities.
In addition, the team is also tried in the court of public opinion. The Emerald City Guard was formed by a populist ballot measure, and can be disbanded the same way. Many natives remain loyal the the Emerald Guardian and resent the Guard as stooges for Mayor Dimes and big business. The City Council takes the team's public image very seriously, and is quick to place sanctions upon or garnish the wages of heroes who flaunt their responsibilities. The Council is also more than willing to volunteer team members for volunteer work, regardless of what the hero themselves may want.
Local corporate giants Nanosoft, Gone Aircraft, Securco, Congo, and Washank all invested heavily to the team, making it feasible. This was done partially to promote good will, as the latent classism that ran through the city was ignited by recent activities, and partially out of a genuine concern for the city's continued well-being (dead employees, after all, don't contribute). Even former evil mastermind Templeton Frei contributed to the fundraising campaign, rolling the creation of a superteam into his "building a better tomorrow" advertising campaign. As a result, the team possesses some of the best technology, software, and insurance the northwest can offer. Gone Aircraft has even provided the team with a rejected military prototype as their patrolcraft, the Warhorse hovercraft.
Seattle as a Campaign Setting
Seattle was birthed by conmen and get-rich-quick artists on a tidal mudflat, killed in an orgy of fire, liquor, and dynamite, and reborn by settlers stubborn enough to construct buildings they knew would be buried inside of a decade. That same, peculiar spirits haunt the city to this day, giving the area a unique character, not to mention inspiration for countless characters and villains.
The Puget Sound area has been inhabited by humans for at least four thousand years, and has a rich tradition of native art, spiritualism, and culture. The ultramodern city, known for it's cutting-edge technology, literally butts up against ancient, primeval forests, mountains, and lakes that still remain largely unexplored. It is a city where thousands of immigrants pour in from across China, Japan, Russia, and the rest of Asia, bringing with them the histories, legacies, and superstitions of the old world. As the cherry on top, the last decade has seen an explosion in population and wealth, transforming Seattle from little-known redhead step-child to a bustling metropolis of old and new, haves and have-nots, technology and old magic.
In other words, Seattle BEGS for adventure and over-the-top personalities, and all too often it gets them.
The city proper has seen remarkable growth in the past decade, with new skyscrapers appearing monthly and construction cranes dominating the heights. The financial district and waterfront continue to expand, threatening to push out historic Pioneer Square and bulldoze the unique character of classic neighborhoods like Freemont or Beltown. Slowly but surely, turn-of-the-century two- and three-story buildings are being replaced with expensive high-rise condos. The harbor has expanded steadily, regularly receiving building-sized freighters from China loaded down with manufactured goods, exotic foods, and occasionally Triad drugs and indentured servants.
Beneath those million-dollar streets flies Seattle's Underground: the former sidewalks, streets, and storefronts from a century ago, now long since buried and playing host to every conspiracy, lunatic, or monster the city can dredge up, along with reasonably-priced hourly tours.
West lies Elliot Bay and Puget Sound, an astoundingly deep natural harbor that connects the city to the Pacific and plays home to giant octopi, exotic sharks, and alleged prehistoric beasts. Even further lies the Olympic Pennisula, home of Mt. Olympus and the world's only temperate rain forest, thick with millennium-old sequoias and animals found nowhere else on Earth.
Blanketing the Puget Sound area are enormous lakes, testament to the glaciers that once covered the area. Some, such as Lake Union, Lake Washington, and Lake Sammamish, are central features to the metropolitan area but their depths remain uncharted to this day. Rumors of at least one lake monster, the Willatuk, were confirmed in the 90's, when the beast battled the Emerald Guardian to a standstill on several occassions. The volcanic activity that plagues the area also implies that these lakes may be part of the same aquatic super-structure, connected to even deeper lakes that have never seen the light of day.
Meanwhile, across Lake Washington from Seattle lies the Eastside, a motley collection of towns that have exploded overnight into the city's suburbs, some like Kirkland and Bellevue have embraced this role, become high-class homes for the upper-middle class, while some like Issaquah, Renton, and Kent have been drug into this collective identity kicking and screaming.
Even further east lie the Cascade mountains, peaks that have never been fully explored and are crawling with bears, cougars, coyotes, wolves, and even the legendary sasquatch. Tiny mountain towns, some ignored for a century or more, and hidden valleys dot this range as it stretches from Canada down to California. Volcanoes dot the range, threatening eruptions or more sinister developments.
Seattle's modern reputation is a city on the cutting edge of science and technology. The software giant Nanosoft started the software revolution in the city in the late 80's, and attracted much of the nation's burgeoning software industry to the area. Over the years, other tech innovators have come to Seattle, resulting in strong chemical, electronics, and biotech industries. The constant pushing of boundaries have resulting in any number of "accidents" and fits of "science gone awry." With billions of dollars flying around, industrial espionage is flourishing as well.
With less history as a city, Seattle benefits from a less entrenched organized crime, but the Chinese mob, the Triad, has managed to gain a foothold among the city's high Chinese population. While they don't run unchecked as they do in other major cities, they have become an established force with firm control over the International District and much of the harbor. Most of the Seattle Triads' operations have revolved around smuggling immigrants into the country as indentured servants in various 'legitimate' businesses, running drugs, and smuggling, but without the oversight of superheroes, they've become more bold and branched out into high-profile robberies and extortion. Trying to muscle into the free market comes the Russian mob, as well, and while the Triads have managed to keep them at bay thus far, the Bratva are nothing if not determined. Unfortunately for everyone, the Russian mafia is far less reserved than the entrenched Triad.
As with organized crime, Seattle's history with disorganized crime, or gangs, is also sparse. Small youth gangs have sprung up and died out over the years, but the Puget Sound area has never had any strong connections with larger, national street gangs. Instead, the same pioneering spirit that settled the area lives on, and drives disgruntled youth and the disillusioned to form exotic "theme gangs". Most noteworthy among these are "The Grunge," an loose alliance of Seattle's worst anarchists into a terrorism gang dedicated to bring down The Man (whoever he may be that week). Other troublemakers, such as the Trick-or-Treaters (costumed bangers), the Fabulous (violent drag queens), and the Boys in Black (Eastsider), vary from obnoxious and annoying to deadly lunatics.
Finally, Seattle's history as a crossroads doesn't end with it's living population. Native tribes have known for millennia that the area attracts spirits and other abnormalities. The Seattle area is plagued with ghosts and spirits, most of which are benign, but nonetheless serve as tempting bait for those who wield supernatural powers. Some within the magical community even speculate that Seattle's next great revolution won't be biotech, but necromancy, if the city is not tended carefully. Thankfully, one person does just that: The Concierge, as it is called now, is a position handed down from generation to generation. His or her responsibility is to see to the safety and well-being of the area's deceased and the spirits of nature that still hold sway over the wild areas. Part sheriff, part ambassador, the Concierge keeps the living and the dead of Puget Sound from abusing one another.
Overall, Seattle offers all the superheroic potential of any other technology-oriented city, but adds the elements of deep, mystical traditions and unexplored wilderness literally next door. Though their job officially only entails preventing "supercrime," the Emerald City Guard acts as the city's defacto response to any of the weirdness that plagues the greater metropolitan area. Heroes may have to stop Triad bank robbery in the morning, have the lunch break cut short by the Barista as she rampages through downtown, stop sasquatch from devouring a class fieldtrip, and then get back to Hendrix's grave by sundown to stop Crux from taking control of the rocker on the anniversary of his death.
Exciting Seattle Locales
- Home to hippies and extensive military tunnels and bunkers abandoned since WWII
- The "shining gem on the lake," according to the marketing hype; a small suburban town now being rebuilt into an upper-class playground by Templeton Frei
The Denny School for the Differently Abled
- a proposed magnet academy to handle Seattle's increasing population of "specially powered" children and teenagers; if approved, it would be the world's first public school for superhumans
- A mobile tent city consisting of many of Seattle's homeless; constantly at odds with Mayor Dimes (for who it is named) and his urban renewal plans
- Home to much Seattle's Asian immigrant population; a tight-knit community that prefers to handle their own problems and stronghold of the Triad
- The various towns and villages located east of Lake Washington; generally considered 'the suburbs'; a strong rivalry exists between the Eastside and Seattle proper
- Closest army base, some 50 miles south of the city; home of several failed super-soldier projects in the 40's and 50's
- Largest and deepest of the extensive lake network surrounding the city; suspected resting place of Willatuk
- rests in the middle of Lake Washington; home of Seattle's richest and most powerful citizens; a shadow war rages on the island between the Technocrats and the old religious families
Pike's Place Market
- Major tourist destination, and under the full moon opens it's doors to those in the know for the largest black/supernatural market on the continent
- Seattle' lowest-class suburb; home to Gone aircraft, numerous industrial plants, and the sewage treatment plant
- extensive elevated-train service covering the metropolitan area; it's construction is mostly due to Emerald Guardian's championing of public transit in the late 90's and early 2000's
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
- considered the southern edge of the Seattle metropolitan area, and the city's fastest connection to the rest of the world
Space Needle and the Seattle City Center
- Site of the 1962 World's Fair and features a permanent carnival, the Pacific Science Center (museum), Experience Music Project (rock-and-roll museum), and the Seattle Science Fiction Museum, and serves as a hub for the extensive Seattle Monorail
- "The City of Destiny" located at the southern end of Puget Sound; Tacoma and Seattle have locked horns ever since their respective foundings; while Seattle has seen some decline in recent years, Tacoma is experiencing something of a renaissance
- a testament to Seattle's pioneer spirit and stubbornness; much of the original city now exists as a network of tunnels below the current streets
University of Washington
- The West Coast's leader in software, medical, biotech research; the entire campus is connected with impossibly tangled underground tunnels and chambers
- founder of Nanosoft, rabid philanthropist, and king nerd
- Seattle's mayor; seeks to 'redefine' the city by embracing big business, urban reclamation, and ridding the city of its poor and homeless
- Business magnate and reformed villain
- local and much-beloved children's show host
- leading online sales company
- innovative aerodynamics firm
- theoretically a biotech firm researching medical solutions to human illness
- Premiere Software Developer, and provider of the universal "Portals" operating system
- keeper of Seattle's spirits and lost souls
- Tacoma's newest super hero
- Seattle's former iconic heroine; being of living green energy
An Nu Long
- metahuman Triad enforcer, known for her martial mastery and flaming breath
- original founder of Seattle, now immortal and insane
- Powersuited leader of the technocrats
- Mysterious darkness that seeks to control the city's countless ghosts and transform Seattle into a city of the dead
- super-strong drag queen who commits crimes for the attention
- An AI developed by Nanosoft, attempted to destroy the world on December 31, 1999; destroyed by Emerald Guardian
- gang of drifters and squatters trying to bring down 'The Man'
- thrill-seeking adventurer who adopts the guise of various game characters
- malicious hairpiece, seeking to overthrow the penal system
Hot and Heavy
- villainous lesbian duo
- a former employee for Buckster's Coffee, now quite mad
- a good cop gone very, very bad
- modern pirate who picks and chooses from Seattle's inbound freighters
Moonbeam - a psychic villainess in Birkenstocks and broomstick skirt
- tribe of primitive humanoids living in the Cascades and foothills
- his words can twist reality and leave heroes helpless
- Gloomy weather-controller
- secret society dedicated to the elimination of mysticism and superstition
- wild-man with curious wolf powers; occasionally allies with the sasquatch, but more often leads attacks against the city with a throng of beasts under his command
- Seattle's entrenched organized crime, the Chinese mafia
- ancient sea-monster living in Puget Sound and Lake Washington