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Lord Liaden

The Sutherland Presidency

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Like the major comic-book publishers, the current official Champions Universe has mostly followed the history of real Earth, aside from the impact of the presence of superhumans. That includes real-world political and social trends, and often analogues to actual public figures, although there are differences.

 

At present the real United States of America is undergoing political and social turmoil, catalyzed around the sitting President, Donald Trump. He's become a major polarizing figure, with supporters applauding policies they believe are necessary and overdue, while his detractors accuse him of attacking American values and even laying the ground work for fascism. Questions of President Trump's moral qualities and even mental stability have also been raised. I have no desire to get into a debate about that here (and we already have a thread for same on the NGD forum). However, that kind of upheaval sounds like a ripe field for story lines and role playing as part of a Champions campaign, in a supers world going through analogous events. Yet the very divisiveness surrounding this President, and the lack of clarity regarding the true motives of himself and those around him, and where all this will ultimately lead, could make many GMs wary of using an "alternate" Trump in their games.

 

Then it occurred to me that our Champions source books provide an appropriate alternative figure actualizing all the worst suspicions and fears about this administration, with no question as to his private motivations, morality, or competence: Representative David Sutherland, formerly the "superhero" Invictus (Champions Villains Vol. 1: Master Villains).

 

Long before the most recent presidential election, Sutherland had been subtly and shrewdly working to forward his political ambitions. His superheroic career accomplished much good and built a strong positive reputation, but it was all a show to accumulate support for an ultimate Presidential campaign. Since being elected to Congress he's been the most prominent superhero-turned-politician in America. For years he's maneuvered to place people sympathetic to his goals in positions of influence. Considering how tumultuous the last election was, it's not hard to imagine someone so famous, charismatic, and capable winning through to the Oval Office.

 

Sutherland's true goal is to turn America into a modern Roman Empire, incontestably dominant around the globe, with himself as de facto Emperor. Once in office he's likely to very deliberately and calculatedly do things that detractors of the real President accuse him of attempting: install people personally loyal to him in important government roles; discredit and suppress media that criticize him, while promoting outlets that support him and attack his enemies; challenge the validity of laws and constitutional authority that restrict his ability to do what he wants; foster radicalized divisions within American society to mobilize more militant support behind him; disrupt international stability with confrontational policies asserting American dominance over global affairs, while cultivating foreign allies he can bribe or coerce. As for his morality, he's unquestionably corrupt, hedonistic, and ruthless, to a degree more epic than the relative banality of what Donald Trump has been accused of.

 

For Champions gamers who would like to work some of the implications of the climate in America today into their games, but are wary of using an alternate of Donald Trump, David Sutherland is an unambiguous "villain" to oppose for heroes who know the truth about him; but with all the complications and challenges of opposing such a villain who's also the lawful, popular, and very capable occupant of the most powerful political office in the world.

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This is a great parallel. Sutherland is one of my favourite CU villains. (Glad to see he's still around in 6th ed.)

 

I'd like to see him working with the Warlord, whether knowingly or not, to increase troubles in already troubled places all for his own political mileage at home as well as long term, imperial goals abroad.

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9 hours ago, Cassandra said:

In the 4th Edition "Day of the Destroyer" David Sutherland was a U.S. Senator.  He might has been elected in the wake of that incident with Senator Jerry Relm as his VP.

 

For those who have access to the old 4E Normals Unbound non-super NPC collection, Senator Jeremiah Relm would make a very interesting running mate if David Sutherland could persuade him to join. Not just because Relm is very influential, but because he favors tighter controls over superhumans in the name of security. If Sutherland, a superhuman himself, could gain the support of Relm, that would greatly enhance his political credibility with the segment of the American public wary of supers.

 

However, the current official CU holds a similar figure, Senator Phillip Glassman of Wyoming, who's actually strongly anti-super (particularly mutants) for personal reasons, and a vocal supporter of the Institute for Human Advancement. It would be even more of a coup if Sutherland could somehow gain his support and considerable clout. Glassman's write-up occupies the sidebar on Champions Universe p. 160.

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For a twist, what if the President is more hero than villain? He’s a “villain” because of a Media (Viper)  character assasination? I.e. Invicticus eaither became a Hero or really was all the time.

 

(LL I think your getting your news from Barbie Binkers 😁)

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6 hours ago, Badger said:

As long as party affiliation isn't addressed.  I'm not really a fan of getting too parallel to the real world with politics with this.  I play games to get away from these things after all.  :yes:

 

None of the characters cited above have their party affiliation specified, which I consider a wise choice as I'm sure you would. And I sympathize -- I never said I wanted to play in a game like this. ;)  But I know no few people whose taste in entertainment, whether games, books, television or movies, runs to fictions including depictions of treachery, blackmail, rape, torture, murder, war, or similar things of which the real world has an overabundance. I figure there must be someone who'd enjoy a little politics. :rolleyes:

 

But if you don't want party affiliation to play into the scenario at all, you could say Sutherland ran and won as an independent. That's not such a big stretch when you consider that, as far as party support goes, Donald Trump was practically an independent himself.

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One of the specialist agent templates on pp. 58-59 of the VIPER 6E source book is the "Media Specialist,' e.g. tabloid reporter, writer for an established magazine, or political commentator for a major television network. The Media Specialist's job is to "perform hatchet jobs on VIPER's enemies, boost the egos of insecure Nest Leaders, and use his investigational skills to expose the painful secrets a PC tries to hide."

 

One of the mottoes of VIPER Academy is: "Cultivate cynicism like a garden, for heroes cannot live in it."

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23 minutes ago, Ninja-Bear said:

Oh I thought one time of a test of your heroes. Have them rescue <insert despised politician of choice>. And remind them of any Code vs Killings, True Hero, Patriotic, etc. or is that to evil! 😁

 

Happens all the time in the comics. Players take those Complications for their PCs, they need to expect them to be used.

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On 4/18/2018 at 5:38 PM, Tech said:

Since I avoid politics in my game, I really really don't like Invictus. I'm with Badger.

 

Then you absolutely have a right not to include politics, and no one should force you to. This thread is to hopefully help people who do like to add that dimension to their games.

 

However, IMO the Sutherland Presidency in a Champions campaign isn't about political philosophy or maneuvering, but how the fallout from Sutherland's administration affects PC heroes directly. David Sutherland isn't primarily a Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative, or of any other political persuasion; he's a self-serving slime using the power of his office purely to further his own selfish ambitions. Heroes who know that and don't want to play ball with him, or even actively oppose him, will find American government cooperation with them on any case drying up; will find themselves harassed by government legal and financial officials over any pretext; will watch the government turn a blind eye to, or even indirectly encourage, criticism of and attacks on them by hostile media, or protests, even violence, by groups who hold some grievance against them.

 

Ultimately the PCs will need to find undeniable proof of Sutherland's malfeasance. Which should result in their vindication and leading the charge to arrest Sutherland, and a satisfying opportunity to punch his face in. :D

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2 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

One of the specialist agent templates on pp. 58-59 of the VIPER 6E source book is the "Media Specialist,' e.g. tabloid reporter, writer for an established magazine, or political commentator for a major television network. The Media Specialist's job is to "perform hatchet jobs on VIPER's enemies, boost the egos of insecure Nest Leaders, and use his investigational skills to expose the painful secrets a PC tries to hide."

 

In other words, Sarah Sanders. :D

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Since its earliest incarnation in pre-4E Champions, PRIMUS has employed a process called Cyberline to enhance genetically-compatible agents to superhuman physical levels. The most powerful of these is known as the Golden Avenger, and is essentially the field commander of PRIMUS. Because the full process to make someone that strong is expensive, a less involved version of Cyberline is used to create slightly weaker Silver Avengers to augment the ranks of PRIMUS.

 

The original Golden Avenger was Robert Kaufman, known for hard-line patriotic views, and in his incarnation for the PRIMUS 4E source book, ruthless ambition. Kaufman eventually was either killed or retired as the Golden Avenger (depending on the edition), and Silver Avenger Daniel James "DJ" Johnson was promoted to replace him and given the full Cyberline treatment. As of the latest edition of the Champions Universe source book, Johnson was still the Golden Avenger.

 

Given David Sutherland's persona, and that Cassandra often refers to Champions characters from 4E and earlier, I suspect Robert Kaufman is the Golden Avenger she's suggesting as Sutherland's running mate.

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Not a lot to get, I'm afraid. :(  Brief references and a few equipment write-ups in Champions Universe; notes surrounding Silver Avenger Mayte Sanchez there, and SA Barton Stano ;) in Vibora Bay. The biggest noticeable change from previous incarnations is that only the Avengers are noted as being compatible with Cyberline. The rank and file of PRIMUS are not augmented by it.

 

For a long time DOJ held the slot for Shelley Chrystal Mactyre to update her 4E sourcebook to 5E  and the new setting, since that was her baby. Shelley did write a couple of PRIMUS expansion articles for Digital Hero, which are pretty cool but not considered canon for the official setting. But her law school studies, and now legal career, left her no clear time to write it. Of course now DOJ isn't in a position to pay her to take time off to work on it, even if she wanted to.

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I used Invictus as Reagan's bodyguard but he was unmasked in late 91 as the villain he truely was and went to prison. Part of this contributed to Clinton's election the next year. Reagan never believed what they said about him but Bush did. His one effective attempt to escape was stopped when he ran straight into Liberty, the world's Wonder Woman analog, who beat him unconscious.

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There have been several politicians in the Champions Universe in the 4th edition.

 

Clayton Mansfield was a U.S. Representative who was the former superhero Blackbird.  He voted no against the Superhero Registration Act and was target of a supervillain plot to keep him from voting.

 

Shanna Parker Armbruster is a U.S. Representative and wife of wealthy inventor Matthew Armbruster, the creator of Mechanon. 

 

Jerry Relm is a U.S. Senator and political rival of Shanna.  He is a supporter of SAT and PRIMUS.

 

Henry Weston is a U.S. Senator and an agent of DEMON.

 

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