This is a setting invented and developed by an old friend of mine, who sadly passed away not long ago. It was written for a game that he devised (of the same name as the setting), and I've been keen to try and run a game set in this world using M&M for some time. Unfortunately, I don't really have the time and energy to dedicate to a game, but do want to get some of my own thoughts down on 'paper.
Batch 9 is a melange of ideas, designed to allow classic four colour heroes to exist in an iron age world... or iron age heroes to live in a four colour world, depending on your point of view. It owes a debt to the conspiracy stylings of the 90s, and worlds such as those featured in Rising Stars. I'm sure if he'd developed the game today, my friend would have liked the parallels with Garth Ennis' "The Boys", and I'm not sure if he was aware of the influence of one of his favourite movies; Highlander.
This is a world in which superheroes were made, not born. They owe their existence, unknowingly, to an alien force intent on ending the world. Every time a hero uses his powers he gives off a particular radiation, meaning there's a chance that another hero will be born among any normal people nearby. It's why cosmic accidents happen, or super-hero formulae seem to work only once (They don't work, it's just coincidence), or new heroes rise from the ashes of a previous battle. The death of a super results in a potent explosion of the same radiation, making it more likely for another hero to rise, or, if they were powerful enough, making existing supers around them more powerful.
The first thing I'll post is a timeline of the world. In the coming days I'll post some setting rules, suggestions for plots, and some key characters in those plots.
If anyone likes the setting, please feel free to enjoy. All credit should be given to Alexander Cunningham.
The timeline of Batch 9
Rules and settings suggestions
Last edited by BtripleM; 08-01-2018 at 09:58 AM.
Batch 9 Timeline
A timeline for the Batch 9 world, aiming to answer the question "what if all the conspiracy theories were true at the same time?"
1896 – the alien that will one day call himself Bernard Sharp arrives on earth for a second time. He assumes the form of the local dominant species and, after learning the language, adopts the mantle of Grigori Rasputin.
1905 – Rasputin meets the Tsar
1908 – the alien that will one day call himself Bernard Sharp arrives on earth for the first time, crossing the intra-reality membrane. He is carrying a tachyon bomb, designed to allow his master, a potentiavore, to cross the void between times and universes and consume all the possible futures of the earth. Unfortunately for him, the device is damaged, and the interference from an experiment being carried out nearby by Rasputin, trying to find the device he lost 14 years ago, causes a temporal explosion. This will become known as the Tunguska event. The paradox of its creation is one of many such allowed by the tachyon bomb’s existence. Rasputin realises what has happened, and sets himself to find the device, which he calculates has been flung into the future.
1916 – Rasputin is set upon by individuals unaware of his inhuman nature. He survives all attempts to assassinate him. Seeing the way the wind is blowing he flees Russia and heads to America. This time he intends to work as a subtler power behind the “throne".
1930 – Rasputin has taken the name William Stackhouse. His technical expertise and some subtle Mind Control aided by equipment of his own devising, gets him close to a handful of senators he has identified as being useful. He reveals his true, reptilian, nature to these men and proves that he can make them young again by implanting their minds in the bodies of younger men. With the promise of long life and greater power they quickly agree to his demands: access to government laboratories and their patronage in proving his usefulness to the president. Their money and influence, coupled with his knowledge, eventually leads to him becoming an advisor to the president of the United States, a position he will hold for years to come.
1938 – a farm hand by the name of Joe Segal discovers the tachyon bomb after it crashes into a field. The damage it has suffered causes a fault, triggered by Joe touching the casing. Instead of absorbing the potential of the world, the bomb is drained and unlocks the potential in Joe. He is granted abilities that could one day be humanity's, and in doing so becomes perhaps the most powerful man alive. He does not realise this, only knowing at first that he has changed.
A series of detectors let Stackhouse know the bomb has activated. He is disappointed to see that his master does not appear but identifies the location of the device. Government agents get to the location only to find only the spent device. Stackhouse begins the search for whoever drained the bomb.
1939 – rumours begin to circulate of a man roaming the Midwest righting wrongs. One story tells of an entire town beaten down after the attempted lynching of a young black man. When asked who he was the man only said, “an American".
1940 – more stories circulate about the individual the FBI have codenamed “The American"; how fast he is, how tough, how powerful. None are verified.
1941 – Stackhouse has a hand in determining the standard for television displays in the United States, widening the reach of his mind control.
1943 – a reporter by the name Rebecca Rivers starts publishing scoops on The American.
1945 – Stackhouse makes a connection between Rivers and The American. Rivers is kidnapped and taken to a facility in Jornada del Muerto. The American arrives to save her. Two seconds after he arrives the world's first nuclear bomb is detonated, also sending out a psychic pulse that wipes the memory of The American from anyone in the United States. He becomes a myth, an ideal image of the prosperous men of the United States.
The American's still living body is recovered and taken to a secure facility.
William Stackhouse “dies", taking on the name Thomas Ford.
1946 – Thomas Ford realises the American is giving off tachyonic radiation. Surmising that some genetic trait of his made him susceptible to transformation by that radiation, Ford decides to mimic the effect by cloning The American. He hopes that he will be able to re-charge his tachyon device if he can generate enough biological tachyon sources.
1947 – Batch One is a failure. An abomination escapes from the laboratory and is shot down near Roswell, New Mexico. Upon it’s death a huge tachyon surge is released. Ford’s plan changes. The initial goal is to accumulate tachyons by creating superhumans in the lab, or by exposure to the radiation from existing superhumans. If the natural accumulation rate is too slow, the death of superhumans can be used to accelerate it.
1951 – Thomas Ford is instrumental in the foundation of the CIA and the fluoridation of the American water supply. The former to give him control of information and pseudo-military power, the latter is the start of alternative plan: If cloning doesn’t work, make normal people more susceptible to tachyons. The fluoride and a quantum compound of his own devising start the foundation of a decades long epigenetic alteration of humanity.
1953 – The CIA begin the MKULTRA programme. The psychotic individuals the programme creates, and who must be destroyed, are Batch Two. The programme is more successful in placing mind control transmission stations around the globe. Their message is complex in what it says, but simple in intent: “Ignore what I want you to ignore”.
1963 – One of the Senators aiding Ford, allowed to take on the body of a man called John F Kennedy several years ago, has become too full of his own power and a liability to Ford. The other senators start to ‘strain at the leash’. Ford engineers his assassination in November of this year. His use of Oswald, Ruby and many others sends a clear smoke signal to the other men. They step back in line.
Thomas Ford ‘dies’, taking on the name Bartholomew Townsend
1969 – The Apollo 11 moon landing. Astronauts under the control of Townsend place his tachyon bomb on the moon, away from prying eyes.
1981 - approximate day zero, marking the first birth of children susceptible to alteration by tachyonic radiation. 30 years of chemicals in the water, fad diets, and behavioural controls set into their parents have locked in a chemical trigger that means susceptibility will only be significant after the onset of adolescence.
The cultural and technological sway of America means this is also likely in the rest of the Western world.
1983 – Batch Nine is a success. Three pseudo-clones of The American are born, along with nine other lesser individuals.
1986 – the space shuttle Columbia suffers several failures on re-entry to the earth’s atmosphere. The world watches, breath held for disaster. Suddenly, a man appears in the air and the shuttle is encased in a cocoon of light, which the unknown figure carries to the ground. He will call himself Archangel, and the world will never be the same.
1987 – Shimmer and Signal step into the public eye, apparently inspired by the Archangel.
Suspecting foul play, many nation states begin trying to figure out what America is up to. This will eventually lead to superhuman programmes. All will fail, except those lucky instances where a tachyon-susceptible subject is used.
1988 – Archangel (strong, fast, nigh invulnerable and able to generate solid light), Shimmer (strong, fast, beautiful and able to turn both invisible and intangible), and The Signal (master of electromagnetic radiation) are household names. The rise of these superheroes has spurred an arms race. The first supervillain, Oculus, appears. He is also one of Townsend's creatures.
The Department for Supernormal Affairs (DSA) is founded.
1990 – Townsend has one of his tame senators suggest a Bill for the registration of superhumans. It does not pass the House. Townsend is not upset, a seed is planted.
1992 – Townsend arranges for the Signal, a creature of his own creation, to be captured and badly beaten. The pictures are released under the name of a group called the Children of Men, saying they’ve killed Signal as a monster, urging men to revolt against the abominations in their midst. Having introduced Gods to the world, Townsend has let people know they can be killed.
Townsend has foreseen the rise of the internet and has designed a back-up in case his mind control devices fail. Signal is plugged into a machine that will eventually connect him to every computer on the planet, his powers magnified and abused to ensure that the nascent communications technology cannot be used to reveal any hidden truths.
1993 – The HAARP facilities are brought on-line. Townsend now has a single mind control field over the entire earth, suppressing the thoughts of everyone it touches. He is assured that no one can notice, investigate, or stop what he’s doing.
1995 – the first verifiable reports of other superpowered individuals begin to cascade around the United States
1997 – first verified superhuman outside the united states.
1999 – Townsend uses one of his creatures as a puppet to create an organisation called The Ascendant. This organisation releases a manifesto stating that super-powered individuals are above the laws of men, and should rise above their lessers. A reckoning is promised if humanity does not bend its knee.
2000 – Townsend ‘dies’ and becomes Bernard Sharp
2001 – In a move engineered by Sharp, the Ascendant carry out the worst terrorist attack ever seen on US soil, and perhaps the world.
In the fury that follows, the debate on the registration of superhumans is re-ignited.
The DSA is given sweeping new security powers.
2002 – The superhuman registration act is passed. All superhumans are required by law to register their identities with the government. Those that agree to also work for the government are given an added incentive: their civilian and ‘super’ identities will be made entirely separate in the eyes of the law, meaning that the man cannot be held accountable for the actions of the mask.
Archangel and Shimmer both publicly register with the US government.
Today – It is estimated that up to 1 % of the population could have low level superhuman abilities [1 - 5 pp of powers] and that only 0.1 % of those individuals can be considered as Alpha according to the DSA [PL 6 - 10, full PP]. No official estimate exists for Omega level individuals [>PL10 and/or high PP]
- No one discovers what Sharp is up to. His bomb is charged, and the world-devourer appears. Heroism and four colours rule the day
- Sharp is discovered, but not his bomb. He is defeated without revealing to the world where heroes come from. The bomb eventually detonates.
- Sharps is discovered but not his bomb. His actions are revealed to the world, leading to war and camps for supers. Every death charges the bomb, the bomb detonates
- One of the previous two in which the bomb is discovered, the heroes of the day decide whether the world knows what happened. No threat from the world-devourer.
Re: Batch Nine
Rules and suggestions for the Batch 9 universe
In this setting, an Ability score of 5 is considered the human maximum (being able to throw 1,600 lbs 30' seems an adequate limit...). Any attribute above this must be a power and cannot be considered innate.
All heroes in this universe suffer from the same Power Loss complication. Sharp created them, and has devised a way to depower them. At some point an agency, governmental or otherwise, will develop the REVOK field. This is an energy field that instantly nullifies the ability of a super. It may later be developed into an injection (metabolised according to human STA), or collar...
Comment here for out-and-out Speedsters. These individuals are of particular interest to Sharp, and are captured when possible. All speedsters are tachyon manipulators, messing with the flow of time. They are a great asset to be controlled by Sharp (to help charge the battery), and potentially one of his greatest threats.
As powers are considered potential innate abilities of humans (from the future or some other hokum related to tachyons), all supers should be considered to have intuitive use of their powers when they develop. It's nearly instinctual, so there doesn't have to be a large amount of time training, and skills like "Ranged Combat: BLAM" can be justified quickly.
BETA level superss are people who may be considered up to PL6, but are generally human with 1 - 5 extra PP in powers and enhancements
ALPHA leves are PL 6 - 10, with a full compliment of PP when awoken.
OMEGA are PL11 and higher, or the occasional PL8 with stacks of PP at GM discretionC
Use of any powers by an Alpha or Omega individual causes the super to emit a tachyon field (suggested diameter of max rank used - 7 on Ranks and Measures) that is capable of creating another super, if a tachyon sensitive person is within the field. The PL of this new super will generally be any level below the power user, to a max of PL + 1 above them. This is limited by the strength of the initiating tachyon field and the genetic potential of the victim in question.
"Iron Age" variant - the death of a super releases a burst of tachyons in a diameter around their body equal to their PL - 4. Any supers caught in the blast will potentially get an automatic lift in their power level. Anyone greater than 5PL below the dying super gets a +2PL lift, all others potentially get a +1PL lift. Supers of the same PL as the deceased may get a few PP. All the above at GM discretion.
Technology is considered to be on par with current tech. Sharp has kept human advancement were it 'should' be, careful not to release too much alien tech into the world. The rise of the supers hasn't seen any Battlesuits appearing yet, but it is only going to take the right Super to be smart enough to develop them. Any such technology would be a game-changer, desired by governments the world over and the man or woman who invented it would probably be hunted to the ends of the earth.
Power armour was never considered a part of the setting when first developed, but it is accepted that a super brain is capable of creating one. It is suggested that a minimum INT or Tech/Expertise skill is introduced for the invention of such. To keep these characters as limited as any other "batchers", it is also suggested that the Battlesuit requires superhuman intellect to operate. Meaning when the REVOK field is used, it affects all players equally. Either that, accept the existence of the tech and have it as a thorn in the side.
There is a Mind Control field over the planet, there to make people ignore the machinations of Sharp. It's the only reason conspiracy has survived, as none of the thousands of people involved in it know that they actually are. Supers are the only people capable of resisting it, and it is GM choice on whether players are, by chance, particularly resistant.
Time travel is possible in this world; however, travel is only possible between the death of the last super and the arrival of Sharp in 1908. The 20th century is malleable, and the presence of Sharp's device and hokum around tachyons allows for paradoxes. Any tachyon enhanced time travellers are assumed to be protected from the effects of their own actions... but not necessarily the actions of others.
Last edited by BtripleM; 08-01-2018 at 10:00 AM.