Friday, January 14, 2011

Atomic City Stories - a 12-Issue Limited Series

Work continues on the campaign and I thought I would share a few ideas.

Structure - I'm thinking about writing up this first round as a "12 Issue Limited Series", deciding what the main plotline or big events will be for each one and planning to keep each issue to one session. I haven't seriously tried this before but since our sessions tend to be on an irregular schedule I think it's worth considering.

Villains: I want to keep it to a small number of regular bad guys for this first round along with a small number of opposing organizations. So far I have:

  • Baron Zero - a medieval lord who was frozen in the Arctic for 1000 years after a disastrous expedition. He will thaw out in Atomic City with powers of ice and cold and become a recurring threat. He has a more complicated back story than this and he is one of those villains with a specific agenda that happens to break some laws or threaten innocents as a side effect rather than just being generally evil. A new villain, the PC's will be called in for his first appearance so he will grow along with them. He will have some magical overtones.

  • Doctor Jurassic - a genetic researcher attempting to study the DNA of creatures from millions ago. A disastrous accident will lead to a swarm of Velociraptors running amok and seeing his accidental creations harmed will drive him over the edge leading him to become a recurring villain who always seems to have some dinosaur-themed scheme in play. He will also be making his first appearance during the campaign so the players will have some influence over his development. He will represent the "science gone amok" type villain.

  • Mechanon - a killer robot originally created by superheroes as a guardian and butler for their base. Something happened and he went insane and began trying to wipe out human life instead of serving drinks to capes. His origin will happen before the campaign and he will be a somewhat famous menace already so that when he shows up the police commissioner can say things like "It could be  the work of the villainous robot Mechanon!". Unlike the first two Mechanon is an old published Champions villain who has evolved quite a bit over the years. I'm going to start with his old look from the 80's version so that when he is eventually destroyed he can come back in the more spectacular 90's version and so on. He will represent the "technology gone wrong/man's creation turned against him" type of villain. Plus he's a good source for Giant Killer Robots.

  • The Black Hand Ninjas - these will be a recently-arrived threat that is determined to carve out a place for themselves. Ninjas are pretty much required in a supers game sooner or later (especially when your players have seen all of the Ninja Turtle movies and cartoons) so I'm getting them in early.  They will mostly be concerned with attacking the other organizations but if the superheroes get in their way they will take them on.
  • The Sorvino Crime Family - this is the other staple of superhero stories, the traditional mafia-style organization. The Sorvinos have been running things in Atomic City since the 50's (when the city sprung up) and they are not interested in sharing. They will have their ups and downs over the decades but their big challenge as the game begins is the new import from Japan mentioned above.
  • Viper - yes the traditional bad guy organization of Champions will be lurking in Atomic City too. Considering I have over 500 pages of material on them I just can't ignore the boys in green. Plus it's pretty easy to bolt-on any wild idea that pops into my head, moreso than the Ninjas or the Mafia groups. They can cover the AIM/Hydra/Cobra role in the campaign world.
 On the friendly side the main allies will be the Atomic City Police Department. There will be no local superteams (creating an obvious void) only some local lone-wolf types. I'm thinking of making the main one The Catman. I know there's one in the DC Universe but he's a fairly minor player and this would be my Batman ripoff/homage who's the longtime hero of the city who has seen everything and fought everyone. Plus personality wise I see him as a lot more like the 60's Batman than the brooding avenger of the last 25 years. It gives the PC's a potential rival, source of information, limited ally, and makes the city seem a little more alive if there's another hero out there working too.

My thinking is something like this:

Issue 1 - Doctor Jurassic! The heroes gather to stop a disturbance in a local park and are attacked by Velociraptors! Through some detective work or police contacts or the power of Science! they track the creatures back to a corporation and to one scientist in particular. He claims no knowledge but by watching him/mindreading they track him to a secret warehouse laboratory where he is breeding dinosaurs from recreated DNA. A big fight ensues and in the end the dinos go to a special zoo, the scientist has a mental breakdown, and the lab burns to the ground.

Issue 2 - Baron Zero! A disturbance at the Atomic City Museum of History leads the heroes to a melting block of ice and some frozen researchers. Looking around they are attacked by a cold-blasting armored figure who rants at them with archaic language until he is subdued and they learn his backstory. They can then decide whether to turn him over to police or let him go or exactly how they want to handle him. It's possible another villain (or villain group that likes to wear green) shows up and recruits him by promising to aid in his revenge.

Issue 3 - Ninja Attack! The heroes intervene in a simple mugging and fall into an ambush as one of the leaders of the newly-arrived Black Hands decides that the heroes are too much of a threat and attempt to eliminate them directly. Running fights and ambushes fall throughout this issue until the true leader of the clan arrives and puts a stop to it.

Issue 4Sky Pirates! The well known villain group attacks the Atomic City Airshow where a new type of engine is being demonstrated. They swoop in from the air and make off with the device, returning to their cloaked heli-carrier mothership unless the heroes stop them. Lots of air battles, a "dashing rogues" type enemy group, and a potential raid on a massive flying fortress.  

Issue 5 - Rampage! Dr. Jurassic escapes and injects himself with genetic material that turns him into a T-Rex - but he keeps growing. Soon he is rampaging through the city and must be stopped. Once restrained he will be subjected to an experimental treatment to try and control his growth.

Issue 6 - Strike Force! The Family, battered by ninja attacks on their business hire a group of low-rent supervillains to come in and take out  the Black Hands. As reports come in, sooner or later they cross paths with the heroes and violence ensues. The Sorvinos put the heroes on their "enemies list". This is a chance to use a lot of low-level villains from Champions and M&M lore - Black Claw, Blowtorch, Lazer, Utility, etc. It also could set up some rivalries or enmities for future sessions.

Issue 7 - The Return of Baron Zero! The new solar power satellite has been commandeered by Baron Zero! He has taken control from a secret command bunker and plans to redirect the satellite to the arctic, using it to melt the ice cap and take his revenge on Lord Winter, the being who froze him in  ice for 1000 years. The players must locate the bunker, break in, and stop the Baron before his fiendish plan can succeed. Note: this is a direct rip-off of an old Captain America storyline from Tales of Suspense back when he shared a book with Iron Man. It's an old one (it's older than I am) but I like it and think it's pretty cool and relevant today.

Issue 8 -Show me the Money!  Every bank in the city is robbed simultaneously by small heavily armed groups of men. When the heroes respond they discover that the robbers are actually robots and that there are many more of them than first realized. Even the Sorvinos and the Black Hands begin attacking the robots but there is much confusion as they look human, until the heroes create a "robot detector" to help them identify the imposters. it turns out it's a plot by Mechanon - this is a first run, and he plans to rob every bank in the country next, causing an economic collapse and turning the humans against one another, doing his work for him.

Issue 9 - Maximum Security! In response to the mass robberies, the Mayor announces that the city's police duties will be turned over to a private security organization. Suspicious, the PC's determine that the mayor is mind-controlled and once that control is broken the new security firm (and the power behind the mind control) is revealed to be Viper! A fight breaks out and Viper retreats.

Issue 10 -  Body Double! A famous media star disappears while in Atomic City, baffling handlers. The heroes are brought in to help and eventually discover that the Brain in a Jar (still working on a good name for him) is behind the kidnapping because it wants a new body - the star's! Negotiations may be lengthy or short but some kind of conflict will likely break out and a nice little fight in a warehouse or office building takes place. In the end the Brain swears revenge in a Dalek-like voice that it "just wanted to be pretty".

Issue 11 - Family Business! The head of the Sorvino family disappears and  one of his children asks the heroes for help, both to find her father and to avoid a civil war within the family. Obvious suspects include the ninjas and Viper but they are not behind the disappearance - instead, a new villain may be on the rise.

Issue 12 - Destructor! A giant robot attacks the city! The heroes, the police, other heroes, maybe even the ninjas join in to try and help stop the thing before it gets to the Atomic City Nuclear Plant which appears to be its main target. It's a big running fight with a chance for some rapid research, rescues, and unexpected team-ups. This is a good opportunity to let other people join in for a one-shot appearance. In the end, a message from Mechanon lets everyone one know who was behind it, but there is something different about him - he doesn;t look like the one the heroes just fought. So the season ends with a massive fight that leaves a bit of a mystery hanging for next volume.

That's the outline anyway. The main goal was to mix up a lot of superhero standards and try to work them all in  rather than having one long-running plot-line for a bunch of sessions. I think it's a pretty god mix and it should be fun to play and run.

Also, If anyone has a good name for a "brain in a jar" type supervillain I am open to suggestions.



Barking Alien said...

Brain in a Jar villain - ThinkTank

Blacksteel said...

That's pretty good, I like that.

Barking Alien said...

I'm pretty good with naming characters. At comic book Supers type characters. :)