Hello fellow forumites! This here's a setting for a game I've been tossing about in my head for awhile. It's hardly complete, and focuses mostly on the US at the moment, but here's what I have so far.
In the early 20th century, during the Second World War, the first so-called “heroes” made themselves known. These men of mystery wielded strange, superhuman powers in the service of their home countries most often on the frontlines. The Patriot, of the United States of America, His Majesty’s Blade, of the United Kingdom, the Citizen of the USSR, and Tricolor Tristan of France worked together to do battle against the Axis, while Übermensch of the Reich, Il Pretore of Italy, and Hikaru Taiyo of the Japanese Empire sought conquest of new lands.
Of course, not all super-humans sought to support their homelands – The Grand Duchess led a revolt against the Soviet Union, establishing ties with Finland and (re-)founding the Grand Duchy of Muscovy centered on St. Petersburg. The German Jewish twins known as Isaac and Ishmael brought hundreds of Jews to Denmark, and sabotaged the Nazi war efforts, while Austrian nationalist Markgraf agitated against the Anschluss.
Further, many of the mysterious avengers that worked on the home fronts were women, ensuring that crime didn’t pay. Rosie the Riveter, a young technopath who took her name from the famous icon, worked for both racial and women’s rights, dedicating herself to wiping out corruption within the system.
After the Second World War ended, the West saw both opportunity and danger in the surviving “heroes,” and both the USSR and USA publicly condemned masked heroism while researching into the field of human enhancement.
In the US, Rosie the Riveter was caught and shamed, arrested for vigilantism, and put on show trial by McCarthy, who added the accusation that she was a Soviet spy. Unmasked, she fled the electric chair and vanished from history. In Austria, the Markgraf was celebrated as a hero, once the historians realized they’d been on the wrong side of the war, but some of the veteran’s associations of the Wehrmacht hunted him down and killed him before that happened. Patriot unmasked himself and resigned from active duty, becoming a senator in his home state of Pennsylvania, to “fight the good fight in a less physical way,” as he said.
The Grand Duchy of Muscovy and the USSR went to war several times, but the weather-manipulation powers of the Grand Duchess saved her fledgling country more than once, and she opened the country as a refuge for others who also had power. Muscovy swiftly became a greater power than the USSR, though it was hardly the utopian society it sold itself as.
Come the 1960s, however, the superheroic community took a stand. Patriot’s children, taking the name of the Splendid Siblings, began taking the fight to Philadelphia’s criminals when they defeated the Toller, a masked menace that attempted to steal the Liberty Bell, before moving onto the Red Menace – a trio of Communist spies that brainwashed good Americans to work against their own interests! (Never mind the fact that none of the Red Menace had such powers – the papers insisted on this version of the story.)
However, the Splendid Siblings’ patriotism was not unopposed – the Shadow joined with Malcom X’s militant tendencies and began cleaning up the African American communities that he touched, helping local youths join up with the Black Panthers to survive, and so on. The Shadow was condemned by white authorities as a terrorist, but to the African-American community he was a hero.
Rosie the Riveter, returning as the Princess Atom, harnessed new thermonuclear technologies to begin her own vigilante crusade against the sexist, racist government, while her husband published newspapers about her frequently, siding with her actions.
By the time of the 80s, the superheroes worked harder to maintain relevance – Reagan’s presidency unveiled government sponsored superheroes, who were as much propaganda icons as they were actual heroes, and arrested both the Shadow and the Princess Atom, though the scandal that rocked the leaders of the All-Americans – the Splendid Siblings, now all grown up, when Sister Stars was revealed to be having an affair with a younger man and Brother Stripes came out as both an alcoholic and someone who suffered from HIV.
The All-Americans were dissolved shortly thereafter, and the powerful heroes of decades gone by went out of style in the 1990s and early 2000s, and it seemed to the United States that superheroics were a thing of the past – likewise, supervillians were gone and dead.
The United States of America
The United States remains the world’s superpower for the time being, but that title has been slipping slowly away in favor of China, Japan, and India, as well as other developing countries. The new president, Mr. Stephen Rodriguez, has carefully planned for the US to return to power by using the Superhuman Creation Bureau, where superhumans have been researched since the end of the Second World War.
Announcing in his first State of the Union address that there would be a new team of superhuman agents to secure the United States’ interests and borders caused waves to ripple through society.
The Patriots, named for and lead by a successor of that title, became media celebrities the moment they saved Washington DC from the berserk fury of the mutated being Warpath, and remained beacons of hope and liberty throughout the nation since.
Meanwhile, in Boston, the Bloody Bat and Crimson Cat carve paths of terror through the old crime families of the city, and on the West Coast, Golden Girl and the Silver Seer work from the City of Angels to quell street crime by beating it up and rehabilitating their victims.
Lest it be thought that the heroes are unopposed, new superpowered villains have also arisen – from the bitter Boomers, a mother-daughter pair that cause things to explode, to the Supreme Sorcerer, whose thefts and destructive acts have brought down the Patriots on him multiple times, villains have arisen to meet the costumed heroes.
The Grand Duchy of Muscovy
Easily the most concentrated place for superhumans in the world, due to the law the first Grand Duchess passed that all superhumans would be ennobled in her lands, the Grand Duchy of Muscovy dominates what was once western Russia, though dozens of other states formed in the wake of her revolution. The current Grand Duchess rules evenly but sternly, a benevolent monarch, but one with little patience for the silliness known as democracy. Every superhuman in Muscovy rules their own estate to their own desires, so long as they do not violate the laws of Muscovy proper, and this means each estate is dramatically different from its neighbors – one might be a land of nearly democratic practices that looks like it’s from the fifteen hundreds, while the next might be a superhuman dictatorship that holds technology beyond anything seen elsewhere.