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Jayzon

Does A Character Need A Registration To Be Superhero?

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I am wondering if according to the book rules does a character need to be registered somewhere to be able to operate freely as a superhero w/in a city/country. If not, would the characters be considered vigilantes? I know a GM can decide what to choose, but what I am looking for if there's a game official stance on this subject.

For example, as it stands on my current group we are working as superheroes in millennium city, but are part of UNTIL as to avoid being considered vigilantes as we are part of an actual law abiding organization, but we are constantly wondering about going as an independent superhero group instead.

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Good to know. Also, thanks for sending me to the book, made me read a bit further in and found some very cool info there.

I miss the days I could just sit and read a book for hours. I seem to have developed in my 30's some type of psych complication that doesn't normally allow me to read a book for more that a few pages or I get all kinds of anxious and lose all focus and attention and have to stop trying to read because I notice am lost in my head and have no idea what I just read for the past page or two.

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Even if superheroics aren't legal if the hero doesn't register, that doesn't mean all characters need to register.  It's a question of Complications. 

 

Registering means the government knows who you are and a villain might find it out that way or the government might 'ask' you to do something you'd rather not. 

Not registering means you've got a Hunted (The Law). 

It should be easy enough to make these into Complication packages with equal points values. 

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15 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

There isn't any official book rule on it.  The Champions Universe may have some form of registration, I don't know.

 

That's the only place it's discussed in terms of specific requirements, restrictions and enforcement. Champions Universe goes into fair detail on those subjects.

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Jayzon, since your group is operating out of Millennium City, here's how superhuman registration shakes out on official Champions Earth in the United States, per p. 40 of Champions Universe, in the chapter, "Superhumans and Government." Note that that chapter also discusses registration policies in countries around the world, which vary widely.

 

In 1980, following an almost successful attempt by Dr. Destroyer to conquer the United States using several American villains as his pawns, Congress responded to widespread public outcries by passing the American Superhuman and Paranormal Registration Act. ASPRA required all innately-powered superhumans to register with the federal government (specifically, with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms), providing information on their true identities, the nature and extent of their powers, and so forth. Costumed crimefighters using super-technology were also required to register with the BATF under different provisions of the Act, and to reveal the capabilities (but not precise technical details) of their devices. Although public support for ASPRA was extensive, it was coldly received in the superhuman community. Relatively few superheroes, and no villains, came forward to register, forcing the government to declare them outlaws.


The truth of the matter, though, was that the law was toothless; the government couldn’t pursue superheroes directly due not only to the negative publicity involved in targeting popular heroes, but the simple fact that without superheroes, America would be helpless before any number of superhuman threats (not to mention the likes of VIPER). Recognizing this, the government adopted a strategy of attrition. As supervillains were captured, they were identified as extensively as possible, and the information entered in the ASPRA databases; when superheroes needed government assistance or law enforcement sanction (as they often did), the price for cooperation was registration. Neither side was very happy with the result, but in the end it (mostly) got the job done, and allowed the United States government to build the world’s second largest database on superhuman powers (after the one maintained by UNTIL).


ASPRA, or the “Registration Act” as most superhumans refer to it, has been updated and revised several times since then, but never abolished. Responsibility for registration and recordkeeping was turned over to PRIMUS when it was founded in 1986. Many states and local governments have patterned their own registration laws after it. Today, superhumans are far more used to, and forgiving, of the Act’s requirements, and compliance with its mandates is more common than ever. The government can proudly point to the fact that the ASPRA databanks have never been penetrated by outsiders, nor has any information obtained through the Act ever improperly been used against a registered superhero (on the other hand, ASPRA information about villains is freely distributed to law enforcement agencies that need it).
 

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Here's info from CU p. 45 regarding heroes who are "sanctioned" by the American government, distinct from working for it directly:

 

Superheroes not directly employed by the federal government may apply to the Department of Justice for sanction, which grants law enforcement powers roughly equivalent to those possessed by agents of the FBI. A grant of sanction may be temporary or permanent; permanent sanction is subject to periodic review at the government’s discretion.

 

The United States is glad to work with responsible, upstanding superheroes, but it won’t grant sanction to just anyone. It reviews each candidate thoroughly to ensure he won’t abuse the privilege and is suitable for it. Only candidates who comply with the American Superhuman and Paranormal Registration Act are considered, and the candidate must submit himself for psychological testing as well. Superteams requesting sanction must have a charter and other indications of stability. The applicant’s record of conduct — his ability to work well with the authorities, his respect for the government, the nature and extent of his crimefighting activities, and his past successes as an adventurer — all factor into the decision.


Superheroes granted sanction buy the National Police Powers Perk (if the sanction is only temporary, characters don’t have to pay points for it). The government often exacts concessions from heroes in exchange for a grant of sanction. The agreement of superteams to include a government liaison among their employees, the sharing of technological secrets, or a solemn oath to turn over captured devices or data to the government are all among the concessions often obtained.
 

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On 10/3/2019 at 3:23 PM, Jayzon said:

I am wondering if according to the book rules does a character need to be registered somewhere to be able to operate freely as a superhero w/in a city/country. If not, would the characters be considered vigilantes? I know a GM can decide what to choose, but what I am looking for if there's a game official stance on this subject.

For example, as it stands on my current group we are working as superheroes in millennium city, but are part of UNTIL as to avoid being considered vigilantes as we are part of an actual law abiding organization, but we are constantly wondering about going as an independent superhero group instead.

 

In summation: not "vigilantes" if law-abiding, and working for UNTIL or registered with the American government (which are separate authorities). Technically vigilantes if neither registered nor part of UNTIL, but if otherwise law-abiding probably won't be harassed much by the authorities; but won't get much cooperation from them either.

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Rereading your OP again, it hit me that you said your team were members of UNTIL. As described on pp. 135-36 of UNTIL: Defenders Of Freedom (the source book for all things UNTIL), there are two tiers for superheroes to work formally with UNTIL, both administered by the agency's Office of Superhuman Resources.

 

A superhero team can choose to "affiliate" itself with UNTIL. In exchange for access to most of UNTIL's databases (but not, typically, its equipment and other resources), the team agrees to cooperate with UNTIL operations and assist however possible. The team is not under UNTIL's orders per se,  but UNTIL does usually expect them to take its "suggestions." If the team lacks a base UNTIL may offer its assistance building and equipping one. But the more it does for heroes, the more it expects in return.

 

Affiliated heroes must reveal information about themselves and their powers to the OSR, including Secret Identities, although the latter can be waived in appropriate circumstances. Naturally the agency takes extensive steps to protect that information.

 

Heroes and hero teams who want long-term assistance or an actual alliance with UNTIL have to become part of the Superhero Liaison Program. While they're not subject to UNTIL's orders in most circumstances, UNTIL can request their assistance as it requires, and if a team or hero refuses one of these requests without an extremely good reason, UNTIL will sever relations with it or him.

 

Membership in the SLP grants a hero International Police Powers, and entitles a hero to use UNTIL facilities and resources, within reason. UNTIL doesn't allow unlimited access, nor does it reveal classified or secret information to SLP personnel. The hero can borrow UNTIL equipment as needed, and can request backup from UNTIL in the form of squads of agents. However, in exchange, the team members or the hero must:


(1) Reveal the hero's or the members Secret Identities (if any) to UNTIL.
(2) Submit to general testing of his or the members' powers, so UNTIL knows their capabilities and limitations.
(3) Participate in a training program.
(4) A superhero team that belongs to the SLP must agree to have one of UNTILs Superteam Liaisons posted to it. If the team has a base, the Liaison lives there; if not, he attends all team meetings. He often accompanies the team on missions, but more as an observer than as a combatant (unless the team needs his assistance).

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That's kind of the same system I came up with for my world.


Congress (and the UN) set up a system where you can register, but are not compelled to.  People who register are given preferential treatment and protections under law (testimony in court, identity kept private, etc) which those who do not, are not.  However, they are also more vulnerable to government interference, and may at some future point be in danger from a less friendly government.  Basically, the people in power realized that trying to force folks who can use the Washington monument as a javelin was not a wise approach.

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On the live action The Tick Episode "The License" the Tick got a Ticket for being a superhero without a license.  When he went down the DMV to get his license the only thing that kept him from getting one was the fact he had  no idea who he was besides being The Tick.

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I've recently started reading an interesting superhero fiction series called "Wearing The Cape" which discusses aspects of registration in a world where superpowers suddenly appeared a decade ago in a world that was normal before then.

 

When that event happened, governments around the world reacted in different ways. Some were more accepting of the sudden presence of superhumans and some were harsher, trying to kill any they found. In some areas of the world, there are wars still being fought by different groups for control of those regions and many governments collapsed overnight.

 

Registration came about in that world's version of the United States as a means of helping normals accept people with powers, because it was terrifying to them to suddenly find themselves living in a world where the police and army were now supplanted by people who didn't have to listen to the government if they didn't want to. One of the first and most powerful superhumans, Atlas, in order to try and put a friendlier face on his kind, put on a homemade superhero outfit and went out helping people in trouble and assisting where he could. Others followed his example, kind of like how DC had Superman as the first superhero.

 

In that world, superhumans in the United States work as part of an auxiliary force assisting police and firefighters. Not everyone wants to "wear the cape" though, and many superhumans try retain their normal lives after experiencing their empowerment event, if they still look human. Some people change too much to be recognized as human when they become empowered.

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Everyone else has answered the question well, including "The GM has the final say-so". For the campaign I'm in, we have no registration act. Superhero Registration lightly touches on the 'mutant hysteria' of Marvel.

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7 hours ago, Steve said:

I've recently started reading an interesting superhero fiction series called "Wearing The Cape"

One of the better superhero book series these days.  One of the few that doesn't revolve around the daughter/son of a supevillain...... yawn....

 

Another series that started strong is H.E.R.O. by Kevin Rau. 

 

H.E.R.O stands for Homeland Extraordinary Response Organization.

 

The government has realised that many supers will not play well or be inclined to take orders from anyone.  They also realize that a super whose powers make a normal life impossible will need a way to make a living and many will turn to crime if not given an alternative.  And so there is H.E.R.O. Essentially a super can join H.E.R.O and get licensed to operate as a H.E.R.O. operative after passing a few classes.  They are issued a special smart phone that serves as a incident notification device and doubles as locator if enabled.  Supers that work with H.E.R.O. get alerts when something happens and can indicate they are responding and see if any other Heroes are as well.  H.E.R.O. pays rewards/bounties for villains captured, lives saved, peoperty damage averted, disasters countered and so on.  They are prohibited from intervening in non-super crime and regular events (like fires) unless requested by local authorities. 

 

I use a version of this in my world and it works because I have a very low supers population. 

 

An earlier incident where a very powerful super whose secret ID was revealed to the government cut a swath of destruction because a supervillain had discovered it, kidnapped his family and was able to coerce him. 

 

Now secret IDs are specifically protected under the Super Powers Act which formalized H.E.R.O.

 

Even with the very small population of supers, the number of them with a power mix suitable to heroing.  Many have singular abilities that only work in certain circumstances.  Many of these have found positions in construction or emergency services.  Such as being 100% normal except being immune to fire/heat working in a fire department.  They will still suffocate and will certainly die if the building collapsed.  But they can withstand heat.

 

There is more and the structure is pretty good, though the storyline is a bit weak.

 

 

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An earlier incident where a very powerful super whose secret ID was revealed to the government cut a swath of destruction because a supervillain had discovered it, kidnapped his family and was able to coerce him. 

 

That would cause a swath of destruction if someone tried that with any of my characters all right: through the supervillain and crime community.  Absolute scorched earth until they learn never, EVER EVER even consider attempting that.

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