- 1 OVERVIEW
- 2 CAST
- 3 ORGANIZATIONS
- 4 NEWS AND INFO
- 5 SESSION SUMMARY
- 6 SETTING INFORMATION
- 7 HISTORY
The Bloodlines setting focuses on family lines of superheroes and how they exist in the world. As the Cold War of the 1950’s intensified, the US tested its most powerful thermonuclear weapon. Contrary to models and expectations, this blast’s effects continued on in what came to be known as the Promethean Wave, a series of aurora borealis which lasted an entire year, spanning the globe. Somehow, it activated genetic potential hidden deep within humanity. Within the year the first natural occurring superhumans made their mark. However it became clear quickly that the Promethean gene was held only in a few bloodlines. As humanity takes its first tentative steps into the 21st Century, the superhumans are with them as well. Now with the third and fourth generation of these beings there are still many more questions yet to be resolved.
I'd written up some of the general ideas for this about six years ago, but shelved it. Originally I'd written up something more Cyberpunk/near-Future. I ended up with a little more classic thing after reading Starman, Tom Strong, Top Ten, Grounded, the Intimates and Ex Machina comics. I also read a blurb for Noble Causes and Runaways that gave me some ideas but I haven't actually read those. I built this as an eight session mini-campaign. I expect I will do more with it in the future. I asked the players to come up with generally likable characters; I'd run dark supers before but I planned for this to be more optimistic.
Everything here is the fault of Lowell Francis and his players.
Names and descriptions of the eighteen Bloodlines can be found on the Bloodline Families page.
Based out of Chicago, the PC superteam has chosen the name, the Untouchables.
- Abbey Relihan: Administrator and liason with their mysterious patron.
- Davis Holden: Driver
- Carrie Ming: On-staff tech and support officer
- Dana Klemanski: On-staff tech who has Demolitions
- Lieutenant Solis Montoya: Contact on the police force
- Jesse Pergrom: High strung contact in the Minion underworld
Other Notable Characters
- Detective Badger: Man on scene at Brookfield incident
- Ace Braddock: International singing sensation and Cruel Butterfly's cousin
- Firstborn: Anarch; Shutdown's father
- Holly Glenn: Troublesome Reporter
- The Kangaroo: Bolt's father
- Arthur Karnak: Low level ex-Sinistry agent with fade powers
- Trey Karnak: Ran "The Minion Bar"
- Timothy "Wizard" Loring: Vanished Sorrentino tech
- Patriarch: Leader of Justice
- Karl Rody: Head of A-SWAT
- Transcendance: Shutdown's ex-wife now involved with Firstborn
- Lennox Braddock aka Paragon III: Cruelbutterfly's cousin with the DHPD
- Manifest: Independent hero who apparently survived the Zero Moment event. Bloodline uncertain
- Caliber Saint: Notorious Anarch weapon-maker from the 1960's and 1970's. Apparently Abbey Relihan's father.
- Tate Morgan: Sidekick to the late Durandal. Murdered in Chicago. Created the Zero Moment Video
NEWS AND INFO
Beginning the second session, each game starts with news chosen by the group's staff as important and/or interesting.
Public Perception and Terminology
One of the real difficulties for parahumans, Bloodliners, supers, whatever you wish to call them has been the pendulum-like response to them by the public, the media, and the government. At times they've been seen as superstars and at others as genetic freaks that pose a potential threat to real humans. The last decade has seen a fragmentation and polarization of these attitudes.
There are many theories for why this is. The polarization of America following 9/11. The glut of superhuman movies and TV shows during the late 70's early 80's that are now being viewed nostalgically. An increased awareness of the implications of genetic research and the patent tensions between nations. The rise of the internet and the ability for information to be widely disseminated and responded to quickly.
In any case, parahumans today typically fall into one of several groups, at least in the US.
- Government: there is and will always be a great deal of suspicion about the involvement of parahumans in the government, particularly as officers in law enforcement and information gathering capacities. The existence of the Parahuman Civil Service program has done little to alleviate these concerns in the public.
- Political: some cross the line between government and celebrity to run as active politicians. Though there numbers are few, they are important. Most generally downplay their Bloodline status.
- Celebrity: Probably the most accepted category of Bloodliner. It is also the most exposed and subject to the ups and downs of fame. However over the last two decades celebrity bloodliners have become more vocal about the private beliefs and politics, in some cases causing significant negative reactions.
- Corporate: Many corporations actively seek out Bloodliners as employees and for projects. The response to these hires depends on the image of the corporation itself. Recently Microsoft spun off its own super division, Vision, in order to avoid further negative publicity. Family: In the case of some of the tighter Bloodlines, such as Braddock and Syzmanski, the Bloodlines work towards the development of the family company. Again here the reaction depends on the image of the family.
- Private: Sometimes referred to wrongly as diaspora. These are people, in smaller positions, usually keeping their powers and abilities secret.
- Super: Persons involved in private law enforcement and vigilante activity. The response to these groups and persons varies from area to area. There has been a rise in Bloodliners choosing these roles in the last five years, in part a response to a generation exposed to the ideas coming of age and in part and response to the political climate.
- Anarch: Bloodliners who use their abilities for criminal ends.
The Zero Moment
It remains unclear what caused the explosion that claimed the lives of dozens of superheroes. When the Anarch teams Ravage and the Sinistry, with a large group of independent agents attempted to gain entry to the main Lockdown facility in SD, they were met in force by Frontline, Vision and their own gathering of independent heroes. At some point during their confrontation and explosion of undetermined source and energy ripped through them, killing everyone in the area. A EMP shockwave soon after distrupted sensors and left officals with few clues. The deaths of so many prominent Bloodliners has left chaos in its wake.
Full List of the Zero Moment Dead
World War II and First Supers
Deep into the War America launched a series of scientific projects design to aid in the war effort both at home and abroad. Many of these were speculative beyond belief, including one based around creating human augmentation, in effect creating super soldiers. No one, possibly even the projects originators expected the project to succeed. Yet from that came almost two dozen heroes armed with fantastic powers. Within months they were deployed into action both as effective propaganda tools and deadly weapons. However shortly after the German revealed their own project apparently paralleling that of the US. As the war ground on, both sides found themselves embroiled in a devastating battle between these titans. Still if was the force of the armed services and the men on the ground that saw the day through, taking Berlin and Tokyo. By the end of the war, every super had died, killed in battles that laid whole cities to waste.. In the both the US and Germany the creators of their respective projects took their own lives and destroyed their work, determined that such beings could not, would not be unleashed on the world.
The Bloodlines Evolve
In the mid-fifties as the Cold war intensified, the US tested its most powerful Thermonuclear explosive yet. The pattern and range for such explosion had been well documented by this point- the blinding flash, mushroom cloud and shockwave. However, this blasts effects continued on, out beyond the limits scientists had predicted. What followed came to be known as the Promethean Wave, a series of aurora borealis lasting an entire year. Somehow, it activated genetic potential hidden deep within humanity. Within the year the first natural occurring superhumans had begun to make their mark. However it became clear quickly that the Promethean gene was held only in a few bloodlines.
Today scientists have determined eighteen genetic lines which possess the potential for superpowers. The spread of families across the globe during the early part of the 20th Century made tracking these lines a decade long research project. Some seem to derive from a subject perhaps half a dozen generations back, meaning that the powers exist in a relatively tight spread. Others seem to have their Subject X, a person in whom the gene first occurs in the far past, meaning that this genetic trait has spread more widely.
These bloodlines have several factors which allow researchers to draw some inference about them. First, although bloodlines have a wide range of powers, some are more given to occur within a line. Second, the size of the population indicates how far back the line reaches. Third the frequency of occurrence as well as the distance some can be traced. Scientists are still desperately trying to figure out how this genetic information is passed. Many believe that there may be many potential members of the group, but only a few who actually pass on the full traits and breeding potential. Artificial systems such as in vitro fertilization negate the passing of abilities. If both parents exhibit powers, then their child will as well. If only one has abilities then the rate drops, dependent on the particular bloodline.
As humanity takes its first tentative steps into the 21st Century, the superhumans are with them as well. Now with the third and fourth generation of these beings there are still many more questions yet to be resolved.
Genetic Theory and Spacing
Scientists today are still uncertain about many of the facts surrounding super powers. It is unclear how the bloodlines came into existence. Some believe that it dates back to an early civilization whose roots have been erased or perhaps ancient astronauts. Others feel that the tampering was more recent, occurring in the early twentieth century. While others think the Wave caused the genetic changes. A fringe element believes that such abilities are natural to the human race pointing to a variety of historical evidence concerning supposed psychic or magical events. Scientists are divided and the genetic evidence is unclear.
What is known is that each line has a “spread,” meaning the actual occurrence of powers within a line. Some are tightly clustered, meaning that close direct members tend to have powers. Some are more loosely spread, meaning that powers occur over a greater range. Why this happens is uncertain; many believe it is a natural factor of the super genes themselves.
Among supers themselves, females tend to have stronger powers. The super gene cluster has thus far refused complete mapping. Some families are given to only a few low powered people, others to many. Some term these minor talents “Diasporas.” Some simply carry the potential, but have no powers. However, even non-powered bloodline persons may pass on the supergene. Accordingly there has been a rush to document genealogies by the government, corporations and private individuals. Since no one has developed a test to confirm the presence of the dormant gene in those among the Bloodlines without powers, this has become an issue of contention.
In the handful of cases of cross-line breeding which have occurred, one line has taken dominance. However, the actual dominance of one line over another has no currently understood pattern.
Today, we still do not understand what exactly allows such powers to work. Many, if not all, defy the limits of conventional physics. Yet, they still happen. One of the greatest obstacles to our further understanding of the issues involved is that much of the best research has been done under the auspices of the government or private corporations. These bodies have kept a close lid on such matters. Those who have performed public sector research have compiled a small body of often conflicting information, leading more to debate than discovery.
Names and descriptions of the eighteen Bloodlines can be found on the Bloodline Families page.