- 1 OVERVIEW
- 2 CAST
- 3 ORGANIZATIONS
- 4 NEWS
- 5 SESSION SUMMARY
- 6 SETTING INFORMATION
- 7 HISTORY
- 8 THE BLOODLINES
Based out of Chicago, the PC superteam has chosen the name, the Untouchables.
Beginning the second session, each game begins with news chosen by their 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-fifities 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.
While there are six “American” families, there are also representatives from all of the other international lines, with the exception of Gaptchenko, Tecpatl and Xiaomin. Immigration, war and global travel spread these genes across the world.
The Symanski line is an oddly spaced one. There is a strong central core of powered individuals, but there is also a diaspora of lower power persons. The Symanski were among the first to trace and map their bloodline. They then made a strong effort to bring these people together. Their sense of identity is less a member of a family than part of a large social group/corporation.
The primary powers of the Symanski bloodline involves the suppression, drain and negation of energy and force, including super-powers. These can include heat, electricity, biochemical energy, reactions, gravity and a host of other types. Symanski members cannot negate each other’s powers, but can stop those of any other bloodline. Many corporations and agencies fear the use of super abilities on their employees or clients. To prevent this they hire Symanski operatives to prevent this. The natural presence of a Symanski member disrupts passively disrupts mental powers, including precognition. Symanski members are also hired by the government to track down criminal supers. Interestingly, the Symanski bloodline powers have not been demonstrated in any real power in another bloodline.
Symanski organized itself as a private company early on, making sure that they had control over the rights and disbursement of the agents. A government anti-trust lawsuit against them in the early 1990’s failed significantly. Symanski recruits heavily. Most have a real loyalty to the group. Currently, the Symanski organization is run by William O. Symanski, a non-powered patriarch. He has five daughters who all have super abilities. The Symanski organization has an extensive and well-crafted PR arm which has maintained a strong public image. Even those of the Symanski bloodline who have not joined are said to have respect for the group.
One of the most popular and well-known of the bloodline families, the Braddock line has assumed the status of American Royalty. They are a tight spread family, with nearly all of the powers happening within a small distinct family line. The Braddocks are wealthy, powerful and well known.
The Braddock line’s primary strength seems to lie in physical or biological enhancements. They have demonstrated enhanced strength, agility, speed, toughness, reactions and so on. If they possess an ability outside of this it is usually only one. The extremely tight nature of this bloodline means that a very high percentage of the particular family has powers. The Braddock line takes an active interest in politics, society and business. Supers from this line have become politicians, commentators, actors and CEOs. In terms of family identity and notoriety, the Braddocks rank second in America only to the Kennedys and that is a debatable question.
The Braddocks do have a few members who are outside the cluster, but these tend to be “black sheep.” A few scandals have affected the family, including some questionable parentage, but overall they are well respected.
This line has several small clusters in a tight spread and then a larger group of more loosely spread members. The tight spread members tend to be from several closely affiliated Native American tribes, most notably Pawnee. The looser spread people however, occur at a great distance, where people have an eighth or sixteenth Indian blood. Interestingly, both groups have the same amount of diaspora.
Rakepaw powers have been broadly classified as “transformative.” This category covers to wide a range to be particularly useful but does give a few clues. It can encompass shapechanging, physical augmentation, and physical/chemical transformation of substances. So far scientists have been unable to reconcile the broad array of abilities they possess. Another interesting factor of the Rakepaw line is the interaction of their bloodline with others. Where it has crossed with that of another bloodline, including diasporas and non-powereds, the percentage chance of the child having actual Rakepaw super powers increases dramatically. As a result, female members of this line are heavily courted. As well, the Rakepaw bloodline may be the largest of those in the world.
A few members of this Bloodline exist in Italy, but the majority live in the United States. They have a fairly broad spread. Manifested supers tend to come out of tight Italian-American communities in the United States, including Philadelphia and Chicago. While the family has a tendency to low-level psychic powers, their signature ability seems to be a kind of meta-technical and scientific genius. Many of the most important hi-tech developments of the last two decades can be at least partially attributed to their efforts. As a result, Sorrentino supers have been incredibly valuable to the United States and are sought out by recruiters from a variety of corporations and foreign interests. However the genius of the Sorrentino family is a double edged sword as many of their most brilliant minds have eventually shown mental instabilities of various kinds. Several of the most notable villainous masterminds are Sorrentinos who suffered breakdowns.
A family that has a fairly traceable Bloodline with members in Canada and the United States. Diaspora make up a fairly large contingent of the line except for a section of the family with an unusual family background. Three brothers who served in Korea married there and returned to the States afterwards. The children of these marriages all developed strong super abilities. In a number of cases other members of the family married into Korean families with the same result in a smaller but significant portion of the members. Gilead members have a wide range of powers but often have a specialty in “material manifestation.” These powers revolve around the super using an object as a focus, temporarily granting abilities to the device. Examples include Flaming Swords, Flying Cars, and so on.
This Bloodline is split fairly evenly between Canada and the United States. While many families benefited from the attention gained in the media, the Thrush family did not. In following up on their genealogy a number of unpleasant details emerged and found their way to the public. The split between the two lines seems to have been the result of incestuous activities among the original highly conservative family in Northern Canada. In the early 1900’s a group fled the situation, ending up in the Midwest. This is where the first members of the bloodline were spotted. When traced back, researchers found a large group of highly interbred Bloodliners dominated by strange religious and culturally conservative customs. The advent of these powers had bred a millennial fever among the group, driving them even closer. This led to a number of clashes with Canadian authorities over the course of a decade. Eventually a number of the younger members were removed from the area, but the hardline cabal still remains. Thrush powers tend to be physical, but with almost no exception, all members possess the ability to fly.
Even in their homeland, the Edige family suffers a mixed reputation. While the British like having a native bloodline family some mistrust their powers. This line exclusively possesses mental powers: mind reading, mind control, precognition. The few "physical powers" manifested tend to be versions of telekinesis or other kinetic powers allowing them to seem to possess extraordinary abilities. The Edige family rivals the Symanski and Braddocks for closeness and organization. Outside of the UK the line is treated with wary regard. They are notorious for being able to "convince" diaspora and rogue members of their bloodline to return back to the UK to serve..
This is the most recently discovered of the bloodlines. For some time members of this line were classified as members of either the English Edige or American Braddock families. However, in the 1990’s more extensive genetic mapping determined that this group in fact composed a separate bloodline. The core group is tight and associated with a particular region in southern coastal Ireland. There are some members in Great Britain, Canada and America but these are only a handful.
Part of the reason for their prolonged invisibility lies in the nature of their abilities. Their most powerful abilities involved the more “quiet” forms of mentalism: telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, scanning and so on. As with all families, other talents are possible, but in this line they are rarer. Members of this bloodline also have a powerful advantage/limitation. Their powers are normally considered moderate to low-level. However, when working with other members of the line, their strength dramatically increases. Even their natural “super” defenses do not operate at full unless paired. As a result, they have developed ritualized procedures for working in concert. This has led to a number of nicknames, such as covens, wiccans or even witches.
Because of their short time of recognition, the line has not developed an elaborate structure. Older generations tend to exhibit little power, except among the women. Younger generations tend to be split in two directions; one wants a more active recognized role, opting for immigration or joining corporations in groups. The other follows a more traditional role, preferring to maintain their old ways. One result of this has been a high rate of schizophrenia among this bloodline. Some believe that it may be genetic, some the nature of their powers, and others that it is based in social conditions.
Corporations have been recruiting members of this bloodline heavily. However, they have to provide employment to circles of such members. The family, however, suffers from the common dislike and fear of mentalists among normal humans. The Symanski organization tends to keep a close tab on this family. As well, the other most prominent mentalist line, that of the Ediges, tends to look down on this line as provincial.
There is a certain chaos to tracing members of this line, dispersed as they were by WW2. The original stock seems to be Finnish, but members can be found in Iceland, the US, Poland, Denmark and Germany. An argument about the naming of this family stretched through many years of legislation until finally settled by a declaration from a UN Scientific Committee. As a result there is some ill will between members drawn from different ethnic communities. Drammen powers are varied but share the feature of creating a bright halo or aura around their user. This halo intensifies the longer a power is used and can eventually cause damage to those nearby the super.
The Lafranco line is one of the least-concentrated and scattered of bloodlines. It appears throughout the Mediterranean basic from Portugal to Greece. As such it is divided across many countries. This has been a problem in anarchic areas such as Bosnia and Serbia. There have been a number of incidents of Supers or Diasporas involved on both sides of such conflicts.
Lanfranco primary talents focus on energy projection and manipulation. This can take many forms, from the projection of bolts of heat, arcs of lightning, magnetic blasts, conversion of various types of energy and so on. Lanfranco Supers often have difficult time finding civilian applications for their talents. One of the most notable is the Lanfranco group at Fermilab in Bern, Switzerland. Their work laid the basis for the new-emerging commercial use of fusion power in several areas. However, many Lanfrancos end up joining security, military or superheroic organizations.
Europe maintains a strong policy on the handling of Supers. For a short time in the 1980’s a number of superteams existed. However, these were closed down eventually based on public outcry and governmental restrictions. Today the only superteams are either government sponsored (Interpol, the European Union team, and the NATO group) or are handled as security for larger corporations. Even these corporate teams require governmental approval to operate. As one of the most widely dispersed lines, Lanfrancos can be found in most places. Many of their lines immigrated in the late 19th and 20th centuries, with many going to the United States.
The Japanese have taken to the idea of Supers with vigor. Supers are well-known and admired spokesmen, celebrities and heroes. There is little of the separation of Hero and Super there. Instead, most take positions serving as symbols of public life. Nearly all enjoy public sponsorship. Bloodline stories make up a massive part of the media and popular culture. Staged superfights, Supers assigned particular characters, imported heroes, tales of the mythic origins of bloodline powers, all of these have become the stuff of life.
The Arayama line is a moderately scattered one. It involves the use and manipulation of force. This can include force walls, deflection, velocity control or very visible telekinetic effects. The showier the power, the more popular. Many American supers move to Japan to be part of the culture there, yet many also leave after a few years because of the enormous culture differences, even after their return their fan clubs continue to operate. There are a few non or mechanically powered heroes in Japan who tend to fill the role of the Dark Avenger type. Villains and Villain groups tend to act out roles culturally assigned to them. Diaspora often gather in teams to serve as support groups for more famous Supers.
India is one of the most troubling of Bloodline areas. The majority of the known Dhanapal supers arise from the upper castes of India. They are well integrated into the government of the nation. In fact, India has the highest proportion of Military Supers of any country on earth. They use these ruthlessly to support the current Indian Super president Raghuvhir Dhanapal. Many of the Indian supers participated in the invasion and suppression of Kashmir and the follow-up assault on Pakistan. During this assault, Indian Supers destroyed much of the military capability of the Pakistani forces.
Dhanapali powers are among the strangest of the bloodlines. They include a broad-range badly described as “reality-warping.” Among these are desolidification, time manipulation and teleportation. These powerful abilities combined with the strong ties of the bloodline to the government have made India one of the most powerful third-world nations. One trouble which mars this is the treatment of those Supers and bloodliners who come from the “untouchable” class. Many have become anti-government revolutionaries, many have gone into exile and many more have been detained by the government because they illegally possess lethal powers.
Dhanapal supers have often been assigned names by Westerners drawn from Hindu mythology by western sources. These are resented by Indian bloodliners who find them sacrilegious.
There is some debate about the source of this Bloodline, but the origination point clearly stretches back many generations. The Muzenda bloodline tends to pop up in those areas with the greatest degree of cross cultural contact. Areas like South Africa, Tanzania, and Zaire where there was either an educated class that traveled to other countries or a migrant worker class that moved around. Muzenda is the default name for the family as it is spread across several bloodlines. Some believe it may contain more than one original line. Their powers tend to cover the whole spectrum but generally low powered. However, their strongest members are ranked as among the most powerful in the world.
This line is split between two groups. The first is believed to be the original group (Hagar) which is made up of Arab or Sephardic Jews. Their line is mostly confined to Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Israel. The other line (Jebril) is believed to be a split off branch which converted to Islam at some point in their history. They are mostly settled in Egypt, Spain, Lebanon and Morocco. Although there were many years of hostilities, the First Conference of Reconcilliation in the year 2000 brought together elder members from both groups to deal with their differences. Many saw this as a bright promise of peace. However, in 2003 a significant portion of both sides of the bloodline moved in to take control of Lebanon. Military forces supported by Arab neighbors as well as Israeli occupying forces were thrown out. Since then they have been rebuilding Lebanon as a cooperative society. They are strongly opposed by the US, Israel and a number of the more conservative Arab nations. They are supported by Turkey, Syria and Egypt.
Hagar-Jebril powers are primarily telekinetic. They include pyrokinesis, fine manipulation, cryrokinesis and a variety of other variants of this. There are a number of foreign pockets of this line, mostly Muslim, many in the American Midwest.
While this family has some immigrants elsewhere almost none are found in the US. Most ended up in Europe and the far East. In the USSR, now reduced to the Westernmost regions, the Gaptchencko maintain tight ideological control. Many involved in the reconstruction of Russia itself. Besides the bloodlines of India, they are the family with the most ties to the government of their nation. As well, many have become servants or masters of the various corrupt corporations and organizations that rule behind the scenes. Gaptchenko members can have a wide range of low level powers. However, their strong powers require a degree of focus, meaning that only one can be used at a time.
The Chinese government keeps a tight rein on this bloodline. They claim this genetic material as a proprietary possession of the nation. In this regard they have been forceful in pushing for like control over intellectual and genetic "property" around the globe. No one is sure how many members of this bloodline exist, but rumors suggest that a breeding program has been undertaken. Popular conspiracy theory belief suggests that every bloodline disappearance around the world is a planned kidnapping by the Chinese to further their ends. In the few cases where Chinese bloodliners have managed to find their way into other countries, the Chinese authorities have pressed the matter severely, making it clear that granting refugee or asylum status to such persons will result in severe reprisals from the government. This matter has not openly been put to the test, though in some cases this has only happened because of the mysterious deaths of the offending bloodliners.
It is believed that this bloodline is based on old Meso-American bloodlines, probably Aztec. Certainly that particular cultural lens has been taken up. It is a moderate spread bloodline, with some existing outside of South America. Within South America, they are primarily clustered among the northern bloodlines. It is uncertain what the primary talent of this group is, they have a high proportion of personal augmentation and energy projection. Their key characteristic seems to be wild or side effects from their power use. Some of these are mild, some are quite dangerous to people in the vicinity.
The Tecpatl line in unusual in its structure. They have accumulated a strong central core of Supers, apparently led by the elders of their line. This group comprises perhaps half of the known Supers and a few Diaspora. They apparently assign the Aztec-drawn names to these supers and have some control over them. However, this group is made up of both heroes and villains. It is believed that they have some communication between each other, but its nature is uncertain. It does not stop them from fighting against each other either. The Elders apparently have the right to assign, change or take away names. Some have speculated that they have ordered the elimination of certain Supers in the past, both heroes and villains, members and non-members of their group. Several international agencies monitored their activity as best they can, nervous about a repeat of the Hagar-Jebril Lebanon takeover.
Tecpatl heroes in South America tend to be individuals, and not form groups. They are highly apolitical. As well, they travel across borders and pursue criminals wherever they wish. They care little about local laws and rights, instead taking the law fully into their own hands. However, Tecpatls outside of South America don’t follow this pattern, instead adhering to local customs. Many Tecpatl have close dealings with the Japanese government through the large Japanese immigrant populace in Peru. Some even travel to Japan and become heroes there.
At one time scientists believed that the Hunter family was an offshoot of the English Edige line. However, significant differences between the two have refuted that theory. Hunter powers tend to be physical rather than mental. Unusually very few Hunters possess "boost" abilities, i.e. abilities than enhance physical characteristics such as toughness or strength, with one notable exception. More Hunter family members are fast in one way or another. Some can run at high speeds, some have lightning reflexes, others have amazing mental agility. Most Hunters have this speed to one degree or another and its additional drawback, a heightened metabolism. Most members eat twice the normal human intake in calories per day. When exercising their abilities the necessary intake level increases. This drawback is significant enough that members can be injured or even killed if they don't have access to food.