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Lord Liaden

Institute for Human Advancement

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2 hours ago, DShomshak said:

Well, when one of my friends attended pharmacy school he had a roommate who said that black people were stupid, lazy, etc.

 

This surprised my friend because his roommate came from Ethiopia and had the darkest skin he'd ever seen. He said, more or less, "Um?"

 

The roommate explained that as an Ethiopian, he came from an ancient and glorious civilization and was, therefore, not black. Not black American black, anyway. A completely different race.

 

Oookay... My friend thought it best to let the matter drop.

 

Dean Shomshak

 

Maybe Ethiopians are just weird.

 

"Ending world hunger" was one of my personal causes a few decades back so I followed news of the various Ethiopian famines. And I was excited when an Ethiopian lady was hired at work because I could talk to her about her experiences (she looked like a poster child for anorexia even a few years after getting to the US). So after I got to know her, I gently broached the subject (trying to be sensitive since her experiences might have been horrific).

 

She flat out said that there'd never been any famine anywhere during Ethiopia, at least during her lifetime (and she had to have lived through at least three of them that I knew about, considering her age).

 

She claimed that the repeated "famines" were completely an invention of her government's propaganda machine so that they could steal relief money and supplies as they poured into the country.

 

Oookay....

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The weight of long and/or widespread belief can give almost anything an aura of self-evident truth which could be called into question under closer scrutiny. IMO most of us hold to one thing or another in that category.

 

At least in the case of the IHA, they have ironclad proof of the existence of malevolent super-powered mutants, so their position isn't entirely baseless.

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There's a bunch of little books potentially sitting around in the published CU material.

Aside from the IHA, there's nearly enough on Australia to put one together. It wouldn't be anything like Champions of the North, but it would be something.

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Steve Long mentioned more than once over the years, that Hero Games really wanted to do a new Kingdom Of Champions source book for the UK. That's why the books covering international Champions Earth have a relative paucity of info about it. But Steve said he had trouble finding an author for the project with both enough familiarity with the UK, and with the latest edition of Hero -- at least one they could afford. An updated PRIMUS source book was another aspiration, but the company was holding that for the author of the last book, for 4E Hero, Shelley Chrystal Mactyre. Unfortunately her law career left her without the time for it, so that drifted into limbo too. Shelley actually posted at one point that she didn't even realize Hero Games was keeping the slot for her. (4E PRIMUS is still in the online store, though, a fine book in its own right, and a steal at the price.)

 

Before Hero Games downsized, Profit And Purity, a book detailing both the IHA and ARGENT, was actually on the publication schedule. That one I was really disappointed at losing. Then again, ARGENT is fairly well-developed already. ;)

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When adapting IHA to different campaigns, it may be useful also to the role of mutants. As mentioned, Marvel uses mutants as a metaphor for socially disfavored minorities. (I would debate the appropriateness of Marvel’s execution, but that’s not relevant here.) Or as LL mentions, mutants can represent the fear of hidden Otherness, especially in one’s own children. (From what I’ve seen of very early X-Men, I actually think this “atomic horror” aspect was more the original intended meaning.) But those are not the only possibilities, and what you choose can influence how you treat IHA – including the very important matter of who funds it. Maybe it’s my own prejudice, but I think that whatever their prejudices, people with big money tend to be rather calculating in the causes they support.

 

Let’s start by looking at the big-name mutant villains of the CU. Three of them (Graviton, Holocaust, Menton) are white people from privileged backgrounds. Not exactly great stand-ins for oppressed minorities. (Okay, I’m guessing about Holocaust’s race. His 5e and 6e write-ups don’t say. Geoffrey Haganstone, son of a Pennsylvania senator and his socialite wife, is not provably white. But that seems most likely.)

 

But they are excellent characters for a theme of “Born To Power.” In this treatment, mutants are not as new as people think. Past mutants used their powers to become rich and socially prominent, and their descendents inherited that social status as well as a chance of developing super-powers. The model for mutant villainy is less Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and more Hellfire Club: Many of the world’s mutants act covertly to protect and increase their wealth and power, as their ancestors have done for generations.

 

(See also the classic Champions module, The Blood and Dr. McQuark. The Blood are exactly the sort of super-powered lineage I’m talking about, albeit of different origin.)

 

The rate of superhuman mutation is greater now; increasing numbers of mutants appear outside the old families and knowing nothing about them. For the general public, the paradigm for “mutant” is the teen whose suddenly-activated mutant powers cause havoc. But some people know differently. And some of those people fund IHA.

 

The backers of IHA are very rich, but they have seen some avenues of social power closed to them. They found there’s more than old money behind the business and political dynasties that balk them: Those dynasties have powers that these nouveau-riche entrepreneurs, financiers and politicians can never gain. And they hate it. IHA is their weapon against the mutant dynasties. Attacking some shmoe who used his pyrokinesis to rescue someone is only a means to an end. The battles against mutants who go public, whether hero or villain, are just practice for the real battle when the soldiers and Minuteman robots descend on the Hamptons, the artificial islands of Dubai, and other haunts of the super-rich and the hidden mutant aristocracy.

 

There's one different spin on the IHA. Let's see some more.

 

Dean Shomshak

 

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Or let’s try an opposite approach: Mutants are new and truly random. For one thing, that means most of them don’t come from the Western world, and most of them come from poor or modest backgrounds. Gravitar and Menton aren’t scions of old aristocracy; Gravitar comes from a village in Mali and Menton was born in a Mexico City slum. A third of all mutants are Chinese or Indian.

 

Globally, mutants represent the Rise of the Rest. Power is no longer restricted to a few hegemonic states that use the rest of the world as the playing-field for their competition. Within countries, it means power is no longer limited to people from the right families or castes, the people with money or connections, who went to the right schools or came up through the company or the Party.

 

And the gatekeepers of the old order are scared spitless.

 

Some of them try to coopt the living weapons of mass destruction. Recruit them into the military or spy service, give them jobs in the company or the crime syndicate, whatever. Pay them well and hope they don’t try to take over. But a lot of the mutants won’t let themselves be bought off so easily. Even the heroes are laws unto themselves.

 

That’s where IHA comes in. Its financial and political backers vow that random individuals will not become laws unto themselves. Governments and corporations will not negotiate as equals with Wal-Mart greeters and peasant farmers. This version of IHA might go after other supers who seem dangerous, but it concentrates on mutants precisely because their appeaance cannot be controlled. In ostensibly democratic countries, power elites cannot come out and say, “Serve or die.” IHA supplies the threat to supers who won’t be coopted, but it’s deniable.

 

Heroes who delve into IHA's backing don't find it easy. While some of the money comes from direct donatins by bigoted believers, a lot of it comes from blandly named shell companies and foundations that don't have to disclose their own funding sources.. If the heroes can penetrate the black boxes, they find a remarkable collection of business leaders, sovereign wealth funds, PACs -- even crime bosses. The list might even include their own country's military, or a company that touts how it hires mutants and turns their powers to profitable use.

 

Anyone else?

 

Dean Shomshak

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Ah. I got one.

 

The IHA is secretly funded by a small cartel of supervillain and crimelords in order to litterly destroy the upstarts and resistance to there secret authority. This cable doesn't care if your a mutant, alien, robot, or user of martial arts. If your "in the way", you Wil be sweep away by Minetmen robots and Pawn agents.

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First, I'd like to take just a minute to thank Lord Liaden for my new ARGENT sourcebook.

 

Just need to clean it up, find a few relevant pictures (if I can find anything "free for personal use," mind you), and slap it into he sourcebook files.

 

 

Back on topic:

 

While I'm not big on the "hate the mutant" thing in any story involving Supers, let's throw this one out:

 

All the top brass at the IHA are mutants.  The founders of the IHA are mutants.  The unstated goal of the IHA is the securing and training of like-minded mutant sleeper agents who will, when the time comes, be part of the usurpation of world government.  The IHA has a two-fold purpose: creating a sleeping army of millions and ending any potential mutant bloodlines that could oppose their goals.  Thus, the majority of mutants (i.e., people-- who, like most people, just want to be left alone to live their lives) are publicly rounded up as part of a horrible threat and, after taking multiple samples for research purposes, quietly eliminated.

 

The IHA is single-handedly responsible for whatever mutant hysteria you can talk someone into believing.  They chose mutants quite specifically: being mutants themselves, and power-hungry and more than a little bit arrogant (resounding success can do that to you, I hear), they truly believe themselves to be some sort of omen of the next phase of evolution.  They feel both a kindred relationship to all mutants, and view those who do not subscribe to their views as abominations.  Specifically, they believe that there are "true mutants" and "birth defects of astounding potential."  Guess which is which?  Mercy killings all around for the poor, unfortunate mutant with the malformed mind....

 

The founders are not stupid, either.  Their plans-- from the creation of the anti-mutant hype forward, have allowed them to orchestrate the entire phenomenon.  Not only can they carefully craft the direction of the movement, but they are in a unique position to react to unforeseen complications.  The government demands mutant-scanning devices?  Certainly.  IHA has them.  No one else does.  All those mutant scanners at the airport?  In UNTIL or PRIMUS (whatever those guys do) armories?  Placebos, built and programmed by incredibly talented minds (mutant minds) to be indistinguishable as random number generators that will periodically yield a positive and then instruct the other scanners to do the same.  Some of them trigger on telekinetics-- non-mutant only, of course.  Some of them trigger on body odor.  The only thing for certain is that they will not trigger on mutants.  Not openly.  They simply record the finding for later downloading by IHA moles when they may safely do so.

 

Don't trust the government: they are the monkeys of yesterday.  Don't trust the supers: they support the status quo as alleged "heroes" or serve selfish goals as "villains."  Trust the mutant.  Trust the superior mind and body of the man of tomorrow.

 

 

 

How's that?  I mean, for a guy who doesn't really buy into the mutant thing?  Plausible?

 

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Thanks for starting this, Dean. This looks like fun. :)

 

For millions of years, the incredibly advanced alien race named Kelvarans, whom some have called "the Progenitors," have sown the seeds of sapience in life across the Milky Way. Experimenting with the genes of many primitive races, they have covertly promoted the rise of intelligence and guided the development of civilizations. More than that, they imbued their experimental subjects with the potential for infinite flexibility in evolution, to manifest radical mutations granting them wondrous powers, as steps to the next stage of their existence. For what purpose remains unclear: pure altruism? To serve or assist the Kelavarans in some way? To take up their role as Progenitors so the Kelavarans can evolve to their own next state? Whatever the reason, the seeds of mutant power the Kelavarans planted in humanity have begun to flower and bear fruit, a development which alarms and frightens "normal" humans.

 

But the Kelvarans have enemies, would-be rivals. The Sleynu, a race almost as old and advanced, view the Kelvarans with jealousy. They seek to discover ways to destroy the Kelavarans so the Sleynu can become the dominant civilization in the galaxy. To that end they study all the Kelavarans' works, and attempt to thwart them wherever possible. The Sleynu have discovered how far the experiment on Earth has progressed, and fear what the Kelvarans might make of humanity's burgeoning superhuman population. But they can't simply destroy Earth -- the planet's super protectors would make swift action difficult, and protracted conflict could draw the Kelvarans into intervening to protect their experiment. So the Sleynu have attempted to exploit the envy and fear in some normal humans over the rise of super-powered mutants. They found an organization of such people, calling themselves "the Institute for Human Advancement." The Sleynu have covertly manipulated the IHA to fan the paranoia among their membership, while also supplying them scientific expertise and technological resources to make them a serious threat even to superhumans. With luck the IHA will either wipe out the mutants, or leave them so decimated that the Sleynu can move against Earth practically unopposed.

 

Mutant PCs in a campaign like this will eventually find that they and the IHA are only the tip of a vastly larger iceberg, which may eventually lead the human race out to the stars to become part of an ancient conflict for the fate of the whole Galaxy.

 

(Before anyone asks: Yes, I'm drawing inspiration from E.E. "Doc" Smith's classic Lensman sci-fi novel series, heavily filtered through the official Champions Universe.)

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9 hours ago, DShomshak said:

Let’s start by looking at the big-name mutant villains of the CU. Three of them (Graviton, Holocaust, Menton) are white people from privileged backgrounds. Not exactly great stand-ins for oppressed minorities. (Okay, I’m guessing about Holocaust’s race. His 5e and 6e write-ups don’t say. Geoffrey Haganstone, son of a Pennsylvania senator and his socialite wife, is not provably white. But that seems most likely.)

 

What we can see of Holocaust's face below his mask in his illo in CV 1, certainly looks white. Given his wealth and social status, the fact Steve Long didn't feel the need to specify Geoffrey Haganstone's race is probably the strongest evidence that he is white. An automatic assumption we would all tend to make under those circumstances. ;)

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1 hour ago, Duke Bushido said:

First, I'd like to take just a minute to thank Lord Liaden for my new ARGENT sourcebook.

 

Just need to clean it up, find a few relevant pictures (if I can find anything "free for personal use," mind you), and slap it into he sourcebook files.

 

You make me happy, Duke. I certainly never considered my superficial efforts with the published IHA stuff to rise to "sourcebook" status; but it was my hope that someone would find this of interest and use. So you're welcome, and thanks. :)

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14 hours ago, DShomshak said:

 

The rate of superhuman mutation is greater now; increasing numbers of mutants appear outside the old families and knowing nothing about them. For the general public, the paradigm for “mutant” is the teen whose suddenly-activated mutant powers cause havoc. But some people know differently. And some of those people fund IHA.

 

 

Dean Shomshak

 

 

The rate of superhuman mutation doesn't even have to be greater now.

 

In 1900, the population of the US was 76.2 million. The current population of the US is estimated to be 327.5 million (an increase of 4.29 times over the year 1900 population).

 

Even with no adjustments, there would be 4.29 times as many mutants in the US as there used to be.

 

Life expectancy in 1900 for a man in the US was 46.3 years. In 1998, a man's life expectancy in the US was 73.8 years. (That's a 59% increase.)  http://www.demog.berkeley.edu/~andrew/1918/figure2.html

 

Male mutants who do live into adulthood are living 59% longer than they did previously (numbers for females show a similar increase).

 

Then take into account: "In 1900, 30 percent of all deaths in the United States occurred in children less than 5 years of age compared to just 1.4 percent in 1999.  Infant mortality dropped from approximately 100 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1915 (the first year for which data to calculate an infant mortality rate were available) to 29.2 deaths per 1,000 births in 1950 and 7.1 per 1,000 in 1999." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK220806/

That site goes on to credit the change to better nutrition, better healthcare, and better sanitation which are available to people of every income level today but wasn't in the past.

 

Potential mutants who live in poverty today by-and-large are living into puberty and are having the chance for their powers to manifest while in previous decades they didn't. And that's even more critical to public perception of how many mutants exist than how long they might live. Yeah, living longer means the mutant is around longer to be discovered. But having massively larger numbers of potential mutants living long enough to manifest their powers is where the "mutant problem" makes an real impact on public awareness.

 

(A side note: the various countries which still have high infant mortality rates are, in the comics world, still seem to be showing a lower rate of manifestation of mutants and a lower public perception of "hey, this is a major societal problem which needs to be addressed by the government right now".)

 

The perception by the rich old families that "mutants come from rich old families" probably came about at least in part from the fact that potential mutants from poor families were dying off in large numbers while young and the survivors were often not living very long even after reaching adulthood. And there's also better nationwide and worldwide news coverage today than there was in the past so every time a new mutant manifests in a dramatic fashion, the old families hear about it these days whereas in prior decades they likely didn't.

 

Yeah, the rate of superhuman mutation is probably increasing just because that makes for a more dramatic story. But you could very well have the same things happening even if the rate wasn't increasing at all.

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In the CU, I would propose that an argument could be made that the foul comingling of Elder Worm DNA into ancient humanity has now resulted in superhuman mutations.

 

Were there any other mass modifications of humanity's DNA in ancient times in the CU?

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That's an excellent point, Steve. It would provide a path to introduce elements of Lovecraftian horror to the rise of superhuman mutants. Maybe in the broader context the IHA might not be so wrong after all.  :fear:

 

And yes indeed, there certainly have been other "mass modifications" of human DNA in the official CU's history. The rise of homo sapiens was directly influenced by the ancient alien Progenitors, who also created our super-powered cousins, the Empyreans. Progenitor tampering is one reason humans manifest more and more powerful super abilities more often than almost any other species.

 

The wide range of nonhumans extant during the Turakian Age was almost certainly due to intervention by various parties. In some cases the gods of that time are noted as having created new races to add to their worshipers -- at least a few of those were probably transformed humans. Other creatures were the result of experiments by skilled wizards. I would suggest that some of the more radically nonhuman species could have been servants brought to Earth by the Elder Worm. Several creatures were specified as being interfertile with humans, notably Elves, Orcs, even Trolls; so some of that blood could be in the human genome.

 

During the Atlantean Age the gods of Atlantis often had affairs with their Atlantean worshipers, producing divine-blooded demigods and heroes. The remnant of that heritage is responsible for the super-powered "magical mutations" which sometimes crop up among Atlanteans today. While the people of Tuala Morn had much more contact with faerie-folk than most other humans of their era, resulting in "fay-blooded" heroes.

 

After all that, the fact that real-world homo sapiens have some Neanderthal DNA seems rather tame. ;)

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Apologies for the assumption, Duke. Champions Villains Volume 1: Master Villains. First of the Sixth Edition "Champions Villains" trilogy compiling official Champs villains published to date. Volume 2 is "Villain Teams," while 3 is "Solo Villains."

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On 10/10/2018 at 4:59 PM, DShomshak said:

Well, when one of my friends attended pharmacy school he had a roommate who said that black people were stupid, lazy, etc.

 

This surprised my friend because his roommate came from Ethiopia and had the darkest skin he'd ever seen. He said, more or less, "Um?"

 

The roommate explained that as an Ethiopian, he came from an ancient and glorious civilization and was, therefore, not black. Not black American black, anyway. A completely different race.

 

Oookay... My friend thought it best to let the matter drop.

 

Dean Shomshak

I worked in Harrisburg, PA in the city and I worked with both Africans and African Americans. The AA said some really, really bad things about the African boss. That place was a PC nightmare. My boss on my first day told me she hated working with women. Now this is interesting because she is a woman and the rest of the department were women. I was the only man and few white in the group. Man and the comments that those women made about other women were worse than anything I’ve heard men say. 

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Thanks, LL.  I think one of the guys in my monthly group has a couple of 6e source books.  I hope he has that one.  I have never seen a write-up of any kind for Haulocaust, and I've been curious since I first bought 2e all those years ago. 

 

Anyone know of any earlier sources for this character? 

 

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The first place Holocaust was fully written up was in Conquerors, Killers, And Crooks, the first villain compendium for 5E Champions. It's still available from the Hero Games website store, in both PDF and hard copy, for very reasonable prices.

 

https://www.herogames.com/forums/store/product/204-conquerors-killers-and-crooks-pdf/

 

https://www.herogames.com/forums/store/product/203-conquerors-killers-and-crooks-bookpdf/

 

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