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A superhero setting from Scratch

A random Superhero Setting by Committee (Votes)  

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  1. 1. When did the first known superheroes/supervillains appear in Modern History

    • In the last days of the Great war aka World War One
      9
    • Around 1955, coincidentally (?) at the beginning of the "Space Race" between the USSR and the USA
      7
    • The 80s
      4
    • At the turn of the Millennium
      5
    • The 2017 Great Eclipse
      4
  2. 2. What is the main source of origins? (Assuming many origins are still possible)

    • Alien interference from outer space, intentional or not
      1
    • Chemicals and or radiation introduced in the eco system got into humanity's genetic structure making mutants and mutates possible
      10
    • The Gods of Old are either dying and passing on their powers, or returning and picking/empowering champions
      3
    • High Tech, Bionic Implants and Powered Armor is released on the world
      1
    • A dimensional intrusion with the remnants of a world that was already super causing random and sometimes blatant reality shifts akin to a comic book
      14
  3. 3. WHY are most super heroes wearing costumes anyway?

    • Legal reasons, be they absolutes or merely advantages (Frex: Penalties are lighter for supers that give 'fair warning' and costumes count)
      10
    • There is something influencing/instinctive about it
      4
    • It's to honor and follow the lead of some of the first/greatest superheroes
      2
    • Not only is keeping secret identities possible in this world, the costumes each come with some ability to foil facial recognition tech and the like. If you don't want to get outed you need one of these costumes
      11
    • Corporations started the trend as a merch gimmick and it stuck
      2


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Just a test to see what the results would be by committee. Vote for what you like...let's see how this unfolds. I kind of fixed a few things in place , like yes, for SOME reason there are costumes aplenty instad of everyone fighting in T shirts and jeans.

 

:)

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Costumes are a mandatory psychlim.  You don't want to walk into a Scarbutts and order your iced venti caramel frappucino with a shot of coconut syrup no whip while in superhero persona, do you?  I mean, every dentist and dietitian in the country will frag your butt for not upholding proper-standards-according-to-their-bailiwick. 

 

So you wear a super-suit to remind yourself to keep that alternate persona in place, and street clothes so that it's easier to maintain off-duty chill when you want it.

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In the Thumperverse (my own campaign setting), costumes came about due to a feedback loop between vigilantes and Hollywood.  Basically in the 30s, instead of the "Public Enemy Era" where bank robbers became folk heroes, the Thumperverse had the "masked vigilante era," where masked vigilantes who used guns and murder to solve the problem of rampant public and political corruption became really popular.  It started with one guy, he inspired copy cats, they started a trend, and suddenly by 1934 you had a dozen guys running around the country in fedoras and trenchcoats, wearing bandannas to hide their identities, taking out "untouchable criminals." 

 

Hollywood began making movies about them, but found that the bandannas made it hard for audiences to understand the hero's expression, so they changed the bandanna to a domino mask.  Suddenly real vigilantes wearing domino masks started to appear.  Hollywood wanted their movie vigilantes to stand out from the crowd, and limited to black and white film, started adding details like an emblem sewn into lapel of the coat or a calling card with a logo.  They gave their heroes memorable names that played up the mystery,  like The Crimson Crimefighter and The Ghost of Justice.  Real life vigilantes followed suit.  And that's basically been going on ever since, with each new generation of heroes being inspired by Hollywood's portrayal of the previous generation.

 

Eventually capitalism got involved and now in the modern Thumperverse almost all heroes have corporate sponsors, media reps, and and licensing deals, and costumes are trademarked and registered with a international registry.  Costumes started to go out of style in the 90s due to their increasingly corporate association, and for a while there was a growing number of heroes (and villains) who eschewed costumes, but generally they were so obnoxious about eschewing them that they ended up being widely perceived as hipster douchebags, which (along with the introduction of cheap, custom printed lycra bodysuits) help repopularize the traditional costume among millennial superhumans.

 

I do really, really like the idea that costumes count as fair warning though.  I can 100% see some ****bird trying to sue a superhero because he broke his hand trying to punch the guy, and the hero using the defense "I was wearing a superhero costume, he should have understood that assaulting me could cause serious harm."

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3 minutes ago, Thumper said:

In the Thumperverse (my own campaign setting), costumes came about due to a feedback loop between vigilantes and Hollywood.  Basically in the 30s, instead of the "Public Enemy Era" where bank robbers became folk heroes, the Thumperverse had the "masked vigilante era," where masked vigilantes who used guns and murder to solve the problem of rampant public and political corruption became really popular.  It started with one guy, he inspired copy cats, they started a trend, and suddenly by 1934 you had a dozen guys running around the country in fedoras and trenchcoats, wearing bandannas to hide their identities, taking out "untouchable criminals." 

 

Hollywood began making movies about them, but found that the bandannas made it hard for audiences to understand the hero's expression, so they changed the bandanna to a domino mask.  Suddenly real vigilantes wearing domino masks started to appear.  Hollywood wanted their movie vigilantes to stand out from the crowd, and limited to black and white film, started adding details like an emblem sewn into lapel of the coat or a calling card with a logo.  They gave their heroes memorable names that played up the mystery,  like The Crimson Crimefighter and The Ghost of Justice.  Real life vigilantes followed suit.  And that's basically been going on ever since, with each new generation of heroes being inspired by Hollywood's portrayal of the previous generation.

 

Eventually capitalism got involved and now in the modern Thumperverse almost all heroes have corporate sponsors, media reps, and and licensing deals, and costumes are trademarked and registered with a international registry.  Costumes started to go out of style in the 90s due to their increasingly corporate association, and for a while there was a growing number of heroes (and villains) who eschewed costumes, but generally they were so obnoxious about eschewing them that they ended up being widely perceived as hipster douchebags, which (along with the introduction of cheap, custom printed lycra bodysuits) help repopularize the traditional costume among millennial superhumans.

 

I do really, really like the idea that costumes count as fair warning though.  I can 100% see some ****bird trying to sue a superhero because he broke his hand trying to punch the guy, and the hero using the defense "I was wearing a superhero costume, he should have understood that assaulting me could cause serious harm."

 

 

Okay, I love your setting's history of costumes! 

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Alien interference during the "Space Race" in an attempt to provide "You're both doing so well!" encouragement; well-meaning extra terrestrials gifted the rival nations with technology beyond their comprehension. Things started to go awry almost immediately, resulting in modified humans, powered armor, exotic weapons, etc.

 

The costumes idea followed fiction of the day and as the gifted technology was greater understood a surveillance war erupted with heroes and villains doing all they could to keep their identities hidden from one another and from the various governments of the world. 

 

A lesser known, "Invisible Contact" happened when aliens with actual mystic powers reached out to "appropriate" members of the earth population in order to pass along their teachings. This only exacerbated the surveillance wars. by the time the modern era rolled about the pillars of Heroism and Villainy had been established and refined for more than half a century. 

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Coincidentally, I'm in the process of ending one Champions campaign and beginning another.  Since the current campaign is dealing with the Empress of a Billion Dimensions and the PC heroes are trying to find a way to "exile" the Empress to a pocket dimension without escape, I decided this will involve a massive release of extra-dimensional energy that will (unknowingly to the PC heroes) affect another dimension that formerly had no supers.  So after this "Paranormal Flux" supers will start appearing on that world, which will be the setting for my new campaign.  Thus, I chose the 2017 Eclipse (as it comes closest to my time frame) and the Dimensional Intrusion.

 

Following someone else's suggestion in another thread, I'm going to have a fair number of people gaining single powers, though only a small percentage get full power suites so most people won't get into crime-fighting (or super-villainy, as the case may be).  Some people's power will be a combination of super-genius and the ability to break or twist the laws of physics (so they can create ultra-tech battlesuits or mega-weapons that can't be mass-produced, since that latter ability only extends so far from their body).

 

After reading your option about costumes helping protect secret identities, I'm now thinking that this will be someone's power - the ability to create costumes that he/she imbues with something that helps hide the wearer's identity.  I just need to find a way to keep this character from becoming a blatant copy of Edna Mode.

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1 hour ago, BoloOfEarth said:

 

 

After reading your option about costumes helping protect secret identities, I'm now thinking that this will be someone's power - the ability to create costumes that he/she imbues with something that helps hide the wearer's identity.  I just need to find a way to keep this character from becoming a blatant copy of Edna Mode.

 

Have you considered Franc from "Father of the Bride" ?:)

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Y'know, another take might be ... everyone has super-powers, but only for one day out of every two or three months on average.  Different sets for different individuals, and a given individual has a set that sticks with them for life (first manifestation at age 20 or so).  Not predictable when you get them; you just know when you wake up in the morning if this is one of your days.  You can't tell what a person's power suite is unless you see them employ them (though someone whose power was that they could sense what other people's power sets are when they were on an "off day" ... would itself be a viable power).

 

That itself is a bizarre enough situation... hmmm ....

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3 hours ago, BoloOfEarth said:

 

Following someone else's suggestion in another thread, I'm going to have a fair number of people gaining single powers, though only a small percentage get full power suites so most people won't get into crime-fighting (or super-villainy, as the case may be).  Some people's power will be a combination of super-genius and the ability to break or twist the laws of physics (so they can create ultra-tech battlesuits or mega-weapons that can't be mass-produced, since that latter ability only extends so far from their body).

 

So basically "My Hero Academia", just not in Japan?

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When did the first known superheroes/supervillains appear in Modern History

In the Thumperverse, the first appearance of a superhuman in the modern era occurred in 1936 and Berlin Olympics, though most the world did not know what they were seeing.  Germany swept the field and won every Gold medal, fielding a team of athletes unrivaled by any nation.  The most shocking defeat was that of American sprinter Jesse Owens, who was widely favored to win after his record-shattering showing the year before.  Owens ran a record setting 100m dash, but was beat by more than a full second by the German sprinter.  It was only years later that Germany acknowledged the use of metahuman enhancements and Owens was finally awarded 4 gold medals in 1948. 

 

The world changed on April 26, 1937, when the Nazis revealed their new weapon: the Überman known as Blitzkrieger, a flying Lightning Blaster who single-handily laid waste to the Spanish village of Guernica.  Footage of the attack was disseminated by the Nazis, and the world was caught in the grip of existential fear.  The ancient  gods had returned to Earth, and they were fascists.  Over the next five years, Germany and then Japan would unveiled dozens of the new "supermen."

 

In America, the Department of War knew that war with Germany was inevitable, and worried that fear of the German supersoldiers would affect enlistment and morale when the time came.  Starting in 1939, they enlisted the Hollywood studios to produce propaganda films to blunt German propaganda.  Hollywood screenwriters invented the term "supervillain" and began churning out stories of lantern-jawed G-Men defeating the feeble super villains -- invariably presented as strung-out addicts who lacked manly fortitude and needed to get power from bubbling potions -- with a solid right cross.  These films were reasonably popular, but failed to capture the public imagination -- until Jewish film producer Hubert Selwick Jr. combined the new "supervillain" genre with the already existing "masked vigilante" genre and created The Eagle (1940, RKO Pictures), about a patriotic masked vigilante versus superhuman saboteurs and in doing so invented a whole new genre of film, that of the "costumed crimefighter."  The Eagle spawned dozens of knock-off films, but its most important contributor was made by costume designer Deborah Wheeler, who -- bored with the trenchcoat and fedora style that dominated -- turned to circus performers and professional wrestling for inspiration in her costume design, putting The Eagle in tights, trunks and a full mask.

 

In 1941, days after the Japanese attacked  Pearl Harbor, FDR announced America was entering the war. He then revealed America's new secret weapon, American Eagle, the world's first "super hero."  American Eagle, or Captain James Jefferies, was the first American superhuman.  It was the War Department that decided he would be most effective at boosting morale with a code name and garish costume that imitated Wheeler's original design for The Eagle.  Over the next four years, America would field more than a dozen super soldiers, such as FirefightHuman Torpedo, and Tomahawk, and was able to effectively neutralize Germany's supersoldier program.

 

After the war, the surviving American superhumans were celebrities, but not all of them were ready to return to civilian life and others became embroiled in scandal.  Firefight, perpetually trapped in a body made of flame, committed suicide, while The Human Torpedo was outed as a homosexual, and Tomahawk was convicted of murder after gambling debts forced him to do enforcement work for the Las Vegas mob.  Then, in 1947, American Eagle died of cancer.  By the end of the decade, they would all be gone, claimed by the same cancer.  Congressional investigations followed and the truth of America's super soldier program, it's connection to the Nazi superhuman experiments, and the immense cost in human life it had taken to create both nations superhumans completely turned the public off the idea of superhumans.  In 1949, Congress passed the Jefferies Act, forbidding the use of superhuman soldiers in the growing Korea War and bringing the "Golden Age of Superheroes" to a sad, sordid close.

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(I love how by answering these three questions out of order, I'm basically giving you the history of my setting.  These are great questions.)

 

What is the main source of origins?

After the Korean War, America entered into a period of civil strife and social upheaval as woman and blacks began chaffing against the constraints of the post-war social order, while a growing counter-culture challenged social mores in ways never contemplated.  To Dr. Thomas Leeds, an early pioneer in psychopharmacology working out of Harvard, it seemed that society was going mad and teetering on the edge of collapse.  Leeds became involved as a project leader in the CIA's MK:ULTRA program, attempting to develop an aerosolized mind control agent in order to suppress rioters and maintain law and order. 

 

In 1959, after a series of failed experiments involving LSD-25, Leeds realized he needed to dose himself with LSD in order to better understand its effects and why he wasn't getting the results he wanted.  Later that night he prepared a 250 mic dose and experienced his first psychedelic trip while sitting on his living room couch.  While petting his wife's cat Marbles, Leeds had a life-changing realization that would fundamentally alter the world.  Leeds realized that he was evil, and that his entire life's work, all of his research, was a edifice to the most horrifying idea man could contemplate, the eradication of freedom. He decided that chemistry was meant to liberate mankind, not enslave it.

 

Using his connections to the military and top secret clearance, Leeds uncovered the science behind the original supersoldier programs and rediscovered Formula P2, a powerful (and extremely carcinogenic) mutagen that provoked quantum evolution ("comic book mutation") in the 1 in 10 subjects who survived,  and almost half of these mutations were useful!  Working in his spare time, Leeds redesigned Formula P2 from the ground up, developing the compound Promethium 237 in 1963.

 

Meanwhile, America was being drug into the Vietnam War and the counterculture was exploding into the mainstream.  One of the young people who got caught up in the cultural revolution was Alfie Huffman, a charismatic prankster with a knack for getting media attention. The problem was that Huffman was also a draft dodger, and couldn't risk showing his face in public. Thus American Turkey was born. Wearing an outlandish, psychedelic take on American Eagle's iconic costume, Huffman and his "Goonies" engaged in attention-grabbing pranks to protest the war, capitalism, whatever you got.  Huffman inspired copy cats, and there was a sudden explosion of bizarre counter-culture superheroes, like drugged-out stoner Galoopus Glumpy, sexual revolutionary Kittens Galore, and early gay rights pioneer Fairy ****sucker, who were less interested in fighting crime than fighting your bourgeois suburban worldview, maaaaaaan. 

 

A handful of these Psychedelic Age of Heroes, like Atlanta-based anti-Klan crusader Black Power and New York's feminist vigilante The Fury, seem to take the idea much more seriously and committed them to social justice by any means necessary.  It was also around this same time that the teenage superheroes Power Boy, Sand Girl and Tiger Shark appeared, displaying genuine superpowers.  They were soon revealed to be the children of the WW2 era heroes, and were quickly joined other children of the surviving supersoldiers, forming the first Society of Superheroes.  It is these heroes who are often remembered as the "Silver Age of Superheroes," though at the time all were incredibly controversial and considered public menaces, a perception driven by the choice of a few of these second generation superhumans to use their powers for personal gain and to flaunt the law, like Omega-level terrakinetic David Allen Wade, aka Earth Master (who has the distinction of being America's first supervillain).

 

Inspired by this strange turn in youth culture, Leeds invented the costume identity of The Aquarian Alchemist,  psychedelic guru and spiritual revolutionary, using the identity to develop a network of agents and lay the groundwork for his master plan.  In 1967, at the height of the Summer of Love,  he struck, unleashing aerosolized Promethium 237 into the subways systems of a dozen American cities.  His followers believed the gas would trigger a "psychedelic awakening," and were disappointed when all it seemed to accomplish was mass panic and widespread reports of hallucinations.  Leeds was identified by authorities, arrested and sentence to life in prison.

 

It wasn't until the late 70s that the full effects of what Leeds had done became apparent.  Tens of thousands of Americans were now carriers of the Promethium Mutation and passed it on to their children, the Children of Aquarius.  Across the country, thousands of children entered puberty and began spontaneously developing superpowers.  By 1985, there were over 5000 active superhumans in America, and the number has only grown with every passing year.  Many of them have followed the lead of the Society of Superheroes and dedicated themselves to fighting crime, but many more seek power, money and celebrity.

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With the interest so far in (And please take a look there first if you haven't already)

 

 

I thought I'd continue a part two with a new set of polls (Only 3 to a thread) to help flesh it out further. Let's see what random lots and committees lead to.

 

 

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hmm could we have home of giant monsters that could supply a Japanese film industry for over a century with humans in a sword and sorcery throw back with mystics, barbarians empire , and Snake men.. .SOOOO many snake men.  with the snake people worshiping those monsters as unto gods! Good thing there's no way to the surface that's wide enough for one of the monsters to get out... or IS there?

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1 minute ago, Tom Cowan said:

hmm could we have home of giant monsters that could supply a Japanese film industry for over a century with humans in a sword and sorcery throw back with mystics, barbarians empire , and Snake men.. .SOOOO many snake men.  with the snake people worshiping those monsters as unto gods! Good thing there's no way to the surface that's wide enough for one of the monsters to get out... or IS there?

 

If somethings end in a tie, or at least a near tie, who knows what's possible?

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