After The Storm: Second Wave
This is a wiki for After The Storm: The Second Wave, a Mutants & Masterminds 3e play by post campaign set in New York in year 2060.
This is a continuation game for an earlier play by post game that ran for over four years. Link to the first game
Campaign concept: When Earth suffers a global disaster, the powerful old guard of first generation supers form an international relief task force to help the worst suffering areas, leaving their relatively unscathed home city in the hands of the younger second generation. And as the teen to early twenties supers step up as protectors, threats both old and new raise their heads.
Descriptions, Backgrounds and Character Sheets of PCs
Non Player Characters
About 35 years ago, the Earth was struck by a cosmic phenomenon known as The Storm. It wiped out electronics all over the globe, causing an unprecedented international crisis. At first scientists assumed that it was a gamma storm, but then it became apparent that something far stranger was going on – as superpowers started to appear.
At first Supers appeared only in New York. Current scientific understanding is that the epicenter of The Storm had been some distance off the coast. At first people were unsure how to react, and authorities especially were fearful. But largely through the actions of a group the media eventually dubbed The Protectors of New York, usually just called The Protectors, the popularity and acceptance of supers increased. The Protectors battled heavily armed criminals, took on villainous Supers, rescued people from fires and natural disasters, and even fought off a Kaiju attack. For it was not just humans who had gained superpowers. Some animals had too. And even constructs with AI. The Original Protectors included a sentient android, and had an advanced submersible with awakened AI.
In time, New York was threatened with increasingly powerful supervillains that police and even the military were unable to handle. During the reign of terror of super-assassin Gray Death, neither police, hired mercenaries, elite bodyguards, or even an evil businessman’s private army were able to stop her. It took The Protectors to do that.
Things got even worse with Comet, who absorbed all attacks and only became stronger. She single handedly broke all prisoners out of a jail upstate, and burned the District Attorney to a crisp. All in the pursuit of an old vendetta about her mother being imprisoned for a crime she was innocent of. It was then that The Protectors, who had always shown willingness to work with the authorities, were deputized as official law enforcers, by the Mayor invoking an outdated law that happened to be still in the books.
Shortly after that, in an incident that cemented the role of Supers as law enforcers, The Protectors and their various allies exposed a conspiracy that was in control of the privatized and reopened prison of Rikers, and experimented on imprisoned supers.
By then, the effect of The Storm had started to spread and would in a few years cover the globe, and Supers had started to appear in other cities. The publicity and popularity of The Protectors of New York caused many of them to form groups in their image, with The Protectors of Newark being the first. And noting the super powered threats New York had faced and the successful collaboration between the authorities and The Protectors, the authorities in other cities did not hesitate to cooperate with their own Protector Teams.
Eventually the federal government decided that a larger organization with proper support and oversight was needed for the various Protector teams. And they were gathered into the oldest federal law enforcement agency – the U.S. Marshals Service.
Over the next two decades, the nation has rebuilt from The Storm, and Supers have become a part of daily life. They are relatively few in number compared to the billions of humanity, but they are flashy and the media loves them. Heroes and villains both. And the youngest generation does not even remember a time without Supers.
New York, New York
In year 2060, the City is not that much more different than 30-40 years ago. More modern, certainly. All the landmarks and the oldest buildings are still there, but during the restoration, many newer buildings were either rebuilt or at least renewed.
Technology is more modern as well. Drones are everywhere. Delivery drones, media drones, police drones, advertising drones, and all the personal ones. The cars are electric, and mostly self driving. Most homes are smart homes. Cell phones of the past have turned into smart bracers. They are worn on the wrist and can function as a phone, a video camera, a portable computer and a game pad. You can set them to auto update your social media accounts with your location and what you are doing.
Fashions have changed. Bright colors are in vogue, and various capes and cloaks are currently the hottest fashion item. High heels have become something you only see old ladies wear.
And it is really hard not to see something about The Protectors. New York is the home of the Original Protectors. This is where it all started. The people are proud of it, and the City authorities like to advertise it. You can see The Protectors Statue in Central Park, visit The Protectors Museum, and take your kids to Superpark. There are dishes and drinks named after The Protectors. There is The Protectors Day celebration each year to commemorate the Rikers raid. And, of course, you might even catch a glimpse of some of The Protectors. But it considered a big “don’t do that” to go asking for an autograph or a selfie with a Super outside specific fan events. If you see them on the street, they are working.
Unlike in the beginning, The Protectors do not need to have secret meetings with those members of law enforcement who support them, or depend on a slightly eccentric rich lady to fund their activities. They are a part of the U.S. Marshals Service, although as their own division, consisting of Super Marshals and Countersuper Marshals. It is easy to tell them apart from regular marshals. First of all, their motto is slightly different. The usual “Justice, Integrity, Service” had an additional word. “Protection.” Secondly, their United States Marshal badges have a label of either Countersuper or SUPER.
All Protectors wear marshal badges. If a super is beating you up and she does not have a badge, that is some vigilante, not a Protector. Countersuper Marshals are more numerous. They are regular marshals without superpowers. They provide support and law enforcement expertise to Super Marshals. Countersuper Marshals have strict hiring requirements, extra training to deal with supercrime, and specialist equipment – especially advanced body armor. Countersupers might be the first responders to a super incident, in which case they are expected to hold their own and keep the civilians safe until the Supers reach the scene.
In a Super vs. Super situation, the first priority of Countersupers is to herd any civilians to safety and establish a perimeter. Not always an easy task – try herding away a group of teenagers who are trying to record the super battle with their smart bracers. Only after the perimeter is secure will they turn to providing assistance to Super Marshals.
They are far more than teen herders, though. A supervillain who dismisses them may find to his surprise that the word Countersuper is not an empty one, as he gets tackled and cuffed. This is especially true in New York, where many Countersupers belong to Heroslayers. While they are allies of The Protectors now, the ancient organization originally arrived to New York to suppress the Supers. They have no reservations about engaging a Super in a fight.
Supers and Law
With the apparently endless variety of superpowers, the legislators have noticed that laws always seem to lag behind them. For example, while mind control is illegal now, and considered Aggravated Mental Abuse, in the beginning the prosecutors were tearing out their hair while trying to figure what they could charge the mind controlling supervillain Abductor with. On the other hand, a law like “Unlawful Use of Superpower” would be both too vague to be useful and potentially open to abuse at the same time.
So there are laws like “Arrest by Super Marshal”, “Search by Super Marshal” and various other “by Super Marshal” laws. Basically, Supers have a lot of leeway in dealing with supercrime. They need to have, considering how dangerous some Supers can be. Obviously, this system is open to abuse too, so every case gets reviewed, and kicking in a wrong door will result in disciplinary action. It has happened that a Super too rash to act has been kicked out of The Protectors, although not among The Protectors of New York.
Of particular note is the Unmasking Law. Outing a Super is a federal crime, and Countersupers protect the identities of their Supers with a vehemence. This law applies to supervillains too. First of all, if it did not, the powerful supervillain team Coven would have been really riled up, and no one wanted to open that can of trouble. Secondly, if it did not, it would make rehabilitation really hard. Some arrested supervillains have gone straight after being released. Some have even switched sides and joined The Protectors. Both would have been less likely had they been outed. So in a court of law, you might see a supervillain stand trial in his Super identity, while a superhero gives testimony in her own Super identity.
Even if there was no law against it, unmasking a Super would be something that gets them all coming after you, both heroes and villains. And all their fans too. Even the dumbest thug or the most desperate paparazzi would not do that. Especially after the Shark Tank Incident.
Supers and Media
Pushy journalists, over enthusiastic fans, and civilians trying to get some Super action on video are an occasional problem for The Protectors, although Countersupers generally do a very good job of keeping those away. Otherwise, The Protectors tend to have a good relationship with the media.
The main source of Super related news that people go to is Superwatch, who reports globally about what various Supers are up to, and publishes occasional in depth coverages. Superwatch respects privacy, and their reporters have strict orders never to get in the way. Unlike civilians with smart bracers who try to get close, Superwatch reporters report from a distance, using zoom lenses and drones. And they ask for interviews rather than ambushing Supers on the street. Their respectful approach has resulted in Supers preferring to talk with Superwatch over more pushy reporters, which is one factor of their success.
Superwatch started very small. The founder and CEO, Kenji Nakahara, was originally just a news blogger who started posting videos and commentary about the then still recent Protectors. This day he no longer has time to report personally, management takes up all his time. Superwatch has grown and reports globally. Even after the recent reappearance of The Storm. Superwatch was one of the corporations who took precautions against The Storm. All Superwatch regional offices use shielded electronics. In some nations, they are the only source still capable of reporting to the wider world what is happening locally.
Superwatch also hosts fan clubs and organizes fan events. Just like any celebrities, Supers have their fans, and occasionally have to appear at fan events. Not all of them are comfortable with that, but those appearances are pretty much mandatory. Fan community has unwritten rules that have taken a cue from Superwatch’s official ones. You do not disturb Supers when they are working. Autographs and selfies get asked at events. But those unwritten rules only work if there are events where the fans can get their autographs and selfies from, so even the most introverted Super has to make an occasional appearance.
US was the first nation where Supers appeared, and the first to militarize them. President Dexter himself formed the still active Death Squad. Learning of a conspiracy within his government, seeking to seize power and utilizing Supers, President Dexter got together four dangerous supervillains caught by The Protectors and offered them pardons if they started working for the government and for their first task helped him to take out the conspiracy.
The Death Squad did just that, and have been since wielded as a weapon by the government both domestically and abroad, in situations where conventional forces would have been insufficient.
The four members are the following.
Gray Death is a genetically engineered, hyper accurate super assassin. She has superhuman physique and the eyesight of a bird of prey.
White Death is a full body cyborg. She is also an extremely skilled martial artist, and deadly in close combat.
Siegfried is a former government agent able to create teleportation portals. Known only by a few, he is also the former supervillain Fade. Back when The Protectors captured Fade, they did not know about the nullifiers yet, and figured that it would be impossible to keep a teleporter behind bars. So they convinced Fade to switch sides. He simply switched to a different name and outfit and returned as Siegfried, named after the hero with a helm who provided the power of teleportation.
Monica Martin, Siegfried’s friend and sidekick, is not one for masks and aliases, she goes just by the name of Monica. Although, since she happens to be black and the Squad had both Gray and White Death, the media keeps calling her Black Death. She detests that, so it is not a good idea to call her that to her face. Especially considering that she is one of the physically strongest Supers known. In the Battle of Palmer Mansion, she stopped a tank turret from rotating with her bare hands.
The headquarters of The Protectors and the most secure supervillain prison within US. The conspiracy that once experimented on supers here developed a device called a nullifier, modeled on the supervillain Null who could shut down the powers of other supers. What they could not replicate was the power itself, and no one else has either. So while a nullifier can project a field inside of which superpowers will not function, it needs a Super to act as a power source. And despite attempts at miniaturization, no portable version has been developed. Nullifiers look like bulky dentist’s chairs on which the Super using his power as a source reclines. In Rikers, three are kept on simultaneously, so that if one shuts down, two others will continue to keep the field up.
And if all else fails, there is the last line of defense. The sentient android Sentinel. Originally serving the conspiracy as a jailer, they took on the entire Protectors team, and although they ultimately lost that fight, The Protectors had to work for that win. Just fulfilling their role and not having any particular loyalty to the conspiracy, Sentinel kept serving as a jailer.
Rikers holds supervillains not just from New York, but from other parts of US as well. Not every state has a facility capable of holding supervillains, so arrested supervillains are sent to Rikers instead. More ordinary prisoners are no longer jailed in Rikers, that function was ended after the Rikers Raid. This day, Rikers is a prison for supervillains only.
But in addition to the supervillain jail, Rikers contains many other facilities too. Countersuper headquarters, barracks, dormitories, training facilities, laboratories, infirmary, a huge meeting hall. Anything a superhero team would need. The place is not just the headquarters for The Protectors of New York. When all the Protector teams need to coordinate, Rikers acts as a hub.