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  3. UTOPIA:
  4. In the face of mounting pressure from the federal government and what seemed the inevitable extinction of their species, the X-Men led a mutant migration to ‘Utopia,’ an artificial island raised off the coast of San Francisco. Their call was answered by most of Earth’s remaining mutant population, and while not recognized as sovereign by the United States or many of its allies it quickly became an unassailable superpower due simply to its population of enormously powerful Post-Humans.
  5. Utopia’s economy is built primarily around the sale of highly advanced technology; most staple goods are imported.
  6. It has established diplomatic relations with several small countries, and with a handful of larger ones traditionally antagonistic to America; it is an ally to Atlantis (the new capital of which was constructed on the sea bed directly beneath Utopia) and Wakanda. Thanks to its relations with and proximity to Atlantis, it is considered a favored trade partner of Latveria. While not recognized by the federal government of the United States, it IS recognized by the state of California and the city of San Francisco.
  7. In the aftermath of the so-called ‘Phoenix Event,’ the population of Utopia and of San Francisco have begun to rapidly expand as ever-more mutants migrate to less hostile climes – Utopia, artificial to begin with, has more than doubled its size and has begun construction of facilities that more resemble those of a proper city than a suicide bunker.
  8. So far, relations between San Francisco and Utopia remain overwhelmingly positive and the X-Men are regarded as super-heroes rather than mutant separatists, supremacists or terrorists as has often been the case elsewhere. Despite being a sovereign city-state, it has been called ‘San Francisco’s Manhattan;’ at present, however, Utopia is half the size (ten square miles) and with a third of the population (approaching 500,000.)
  10. ---------------------
  13. Reconstructed and retrofitted during the government pogrom against mutants that resulted in the founding of Utopia, the island of Alcatraz now serves as a maximum-security federal prison for Post-Human criminals. Following repeat breakouts from institutions such as The Vault and The Raft, and the disastrous failure and ensuing mass murder of detainees at the interdimensional ‘Prison 42,’ the state-of-the-art facility is now home to many of America’s worst powered offenders.
  14. Recently, it has become the headquarters for the latest incarnation of the THUNDERBOLTS rehabilitation program.
  18. ---------------------------------------------------
  21. Initially a team of villains masquerading as vigilantes, the Thunderbolts has for years been a government-run program aimed at the rehabilitation (or, more cynically, the exploitation) of post-human criminals.
  22. After several controversial years under the aegis of Tony Stark, Norman Osborne and the now-defunct HAMMER during which it functioned as ‘hero hunters’, the Thunderbolts program has once more been disbanded and reinitiated under entirely new leadership.
  23. The current ‘Thunderbolts Tower’ is located on the prison island of Alcatraz.
  26. ------------------------------------
  29. STORMWATCH is the official supranatural response agency of the United Nations, created in the years that followed World War 2 in response to the birth of SHIELD in America, LEVIATHAN in the Soviet Union, and HYDRA throughout Europe and South America.
  31. While operated primarily out of Skywatch, a post-state of the art orbital base, STORMWATCH maintains facilities and sub-branches in cities throughout the world and beyond; they have at least a minor presence in nearly every member state of the United Nations, and operate the Tranquility Base research facility on Earth’s moon.
  32. Relations between STORMWATCH and SHIELD have often been frosty, and at times antagonistic; the now-defunct HAMMER was openly hostile. A prior administration attempted to ban all STORMWATCH personnel from American soil and is alleged to have been involved with the assassination of at least one.
  33. In addition to their well-known ‘teams,’ STORMWATCH can field a large force of ‘normal’ troops for UN-approved conflicts, runs ‘Team Achilles’ as a special forces squad aimed at the capture of high-target post-human criminals and terrorists, and has provided training to numerous law-enforcement groups wishing to develop ‘Post-Human Divisions.’
  34. STORMWATCH is alleged to have its own espionage agency.
  36. ---------------------------------
  39. Created in 1964 as a CIA working group aimed at ‘domestic problems’, I/O rapidly metastasized; by 1970, Miles Craven had established himself as Director of the agency.
  40. While Craven’s personal fortunes waxed and waned over the years that followed, and Craven himself was assassinated nearly a decade ago, the structure of I/O and its near-total control over the CIA has remained.
  41. The current director of the agency is Ivana Baiul.
  44. -------------------------------
  46. SIGMA
  47. In December of 1965, something crashed to Earth just outside the small town of Kecksburg, Pennsylvania.
  48. Since then, many different official explanations have been offered – a meteor bolide exploded over the area; a Soviet satellite crashed; it was an errant missile test; nothing happened there at all. Conspiracy theorists argue it was a UFO, but the truth is far stranger:
  49. What landed in the woods outside of Kecksburg was a body.
  50. Undamaged and seemingly uninjured, a large ‘bell’ of material accreted around it, it belonged to no known species. The unique properties of its genetic material would, in later years, lead scientists to conclude it came from another dimension entirely, hurled down to ours in whatever calamity was responsible for its death.
  51. The list of agencies that would claim such an artifact is a long one. In the 60s, generally, the Army or Air Force would be first at the scene – but that night in Kecksburg, it was the CIA.
  52. It took years for the team of geneticists and physicists assigned to ‘Project Sigma’ to form even a basic understanding of the creature, its capabilities and the possibilities it presented, and years more for practical applications to be developed. In the end, Project Sigma yielded what has come to be known as “GenFactor,” a toxic brew of immunosuppressants and recombinant DNA from the Sigma corpse that has been used in all thirteen ‘generations’ of Project Genesis, the CIA’s long-running and illegal superhuman program.
  55. -------------------------------------------------------
  58. By far the most noteworthy result of Project Sigma, “GenFactor” is a toxic brew of immunosuppressants and recombinant DNA from ‘Sigma’ itself – the body of a transdimensional entity.
  59. Exposure to GenFactor is fatal to most humans, usually resulting in gross physical deformity, uncontrollable violent psychosis, or a buildup or transdimensional energy that results in the destruction of the human body on a molecular level. It has been at the heart of all thirteen generations of the CIA’s “Project Genesis,” an illegal program intended to create post-human spies and assassins.
  60. Among those who survive exposure to GenFactor, the most commonly displayed abilities are psionic – telepathy, telekinesis, clairvoyance, etc. These abilities tend to be extraordinarily powerful and for unknown reasons groups exposed simultaneously can ‘link together’ for even more profound results.
  61. The human body is not made to harness such energies, however, and there have been numerous documented examples of a Project Genesis subject creating a vast psionic storm that so consumed them it left behind only their mummified remains.
  62. The children of Genesis subjects have little or no difficulty controlling their abilities, however, as Sigma DNA has been present in their bodies since the moment of conception. They also manifest a far wider range of abilities, from super-human strength to control of gravity and time. Few, if any, such children will manifest abilities without lengthy ‘booster’ treatments created by and available only from Project Genesis.
  63. The thirteenth iteration of Project Genesis focused exclusively on the children of previous Genesis test subjects. Estimates of their number range into the thousands.
  66. ---------------------------------------------------------
  69. In 1970, a previously unknown comet brushed against Earth’s atmosphere and showered much of the world with a still-unidentified type of radiation. No negative effects have ever been reported because of the event, but ‘Comet Seedlings’ began to appear immediately – the very first being the crew abroad a NASA shuttle.
  70. In popular thought, Comet Seedlings have come to be viewed as another ‘kind’ of mutant. But the differences between the two groups are considerable. The largest being that most Seedlings are ‘latent’ and do not independently manifest their abilities. (Many independently manifested Seedlings are those with considerable physical mutations, by far the most famous being the case of a Sumo champion whose body began ‘turning into gas’ during a televised match.)
  71. Among the rank of Seedlings there are individuals known as ‘Activators,’ Seedlings with the ability to induce manifestation in others of their kind. Activators are rare; the United Nations employees only one, Christine Trelaine.
  72. The process of activation is highly traumatic, bringing with it intense seizures and requiring several weeks of hospitalization. In many cases where a Seedling has manifested without the intervention of an Activator, their abilities were severely restricted compared to their true, full potential.
  73. The orbit of the comet is now believed to be stable, meaning it has passed Earth numerous times throughout human history. Similarities between recovered fragments and Wakandan Vibranium have been noted, but there currently exists no theory as to why.
  75. -----------------------------------------
  79. The Kheran Imperium is among the oldest still-extent spacefaring civilizations in the known galaxy, with a history stretching across billions of years. A fantastically long-lived race, 3000 years is viewed as young by the Kherans and there has never been a recorded instance of a Kheran dying from old age or of natural causes. Their population is controlled only by their low levels of fertility – perhaps 1 in 10,000 Kheran females can become pregnant a single time during her life, and stillbirths are common. They do not, however, experience any difficulty in breeding with other compatible species.
  80. Kheran culture is divided into a rigid caste system. The empathic Andrastea occupy the lowest rung, beneath even the subjugated Titans; at the top are Kheran Warlords, nobles who have been augmented with almost unimaginable abilities, and above even them Kheran High Lords who have begun a ritual of ascension intended to transmutate them into beings of pure psionic energy.
  81. Kheran culture is intensely speciesist, regarding all other forms of life as inherently inferior to their own while viewing themselves as a tolerant, benevolent race bringing order, culture and safety to the galaxy at large.
  82. For hundreds of thousands of years, the Kheran and Daemonite empires were locked in war.
  83. Near the dawn of human history, a Kheran vessel crashed to Earth following an encounter with an enemy ship. Most of the crew, numbering in the thousands, survived; the Kherans and their Daemonite enemies have had a profound influence on human culture and human mythology. Only Mutants and Comet Seedlings outnumber Kheran-Human and Daemonite-Human hybrids in the Post-Human community.
  84. Unknown to the survivors on Earth, the ‘Daemonite Wars’ concluded three centuries ago with the total economic collapse of the Daemonite empire. Kheran culture has since entered a period of deep stagnation.
  85. Based on a handful of truly ancient Kheran artifacts and examination of their oldest mythologies, xenosociologists allege that Kheran society was at one point built entirely around worship of the entities known as ‘Celestials.’
  88. ---------------------------------------------------
  90. HALO
  91. Founded in 1990 by the late industrialist Jacob Marlowe and currently run by great-nephew Jack Marlowe, the Halo Corporation has become one of the largest and most innovative companies in the world. It is also one of the most progressive – unique for an American corporation, a majority of its employees are unionized. Halo’s products are affordable and are built to last, with new models produced to account for new advances and innovations in technology rather than for planned obsolescence. Their smartphone, the ‘Halo Phone,’ has a commanding lead in terms of market share.
  92. In recent years, Halo has acquired cable channels, accounting firms, multimedia corporations and internet service providers. They are valued at an estimated three trillion dollars.
  93. Halo also produces the ‘Halo Battery,’ a commercial battery advertised as ‘the last battery you’ll ever need.’ True to their advertising campaign, the Halo Battery appears to offer inexhaustible power. Plans to make electric vehicles powered by Halo Batteries are allegedly underway, to the consternation of the military-industrial complex and any number of world governments.
  94. Headquartered in San Francisco, in the Halo Tower (formerly the Transbay Tower, the tallest building in the city), they are among the city’s largest employers of both humans and post-humans.
  95. Behind the scenes, Halo is one of the largest funders of the Seminary schools for post-humans and has been linked to a non-governmental covert action team.
  96. Rumors abound that Halo plans to establish an orbital facility.
  99. ----------------------------------------------------
  102. An ancient reptilian race, the Daemonite Empire has been defined by its conflicts with the Kheran Imperium. Though known to only a handful alive today, the Daemonites were intended to be a slave race. Uplifted from indigenous life by a Kheran Creation Engine, they rebelled immediately upon encountering their would-be masters and would go on to spend most of galactic history at war with them. After countless millennia, the reasons for war were lost entirely; they fought because the Kherans were Kherans and the Daemonites, Daemonites.
  103. Like their Kheran enemies, Daemonites live in a rigid caste system. The lowest Daemonites are drones, rarely encountered off-world unless in the service of their betters; they are generally human-sized, with oversized mouths and four clawed arms. Some drones are known as ‘brutes,’ resembling their siblings but much larger and with astonishing physical strength and endurance. The highest Daemonites, again like their Kheran enemies, are ‘Lords’ – complete control of their biomolecular structure, vast telepathic powers, and energy manipulation are common.
  104. Daemonites are functionally immortal, with much of Earth’s population dating back to the original crash landing, and infamously difficult to kill – they are capable of regenerating even missing limbs and destroyed organs, but most cannot survive destruction of the brain.
  105. All but the weakest drone is a shapeshifter, capable of perfectly mimicking essentially any organic form. Some can ‘possess’ others, merging with and overlaying the nervous system of their victim; they are nearly impossible to detect in such a state, even to telepaths, and do not register on xenobiological detection systems.
  106. Near the dawn of human history, a Daemonite vessel crashed to Earth following an encounter with an enemy ship. Most of the crew, numbering in the thousands, survived; the Daemonitesand their Kheran enemies have had a profound influence on human culture and human mythology. Only Mutants and Comet Seedlings outnumber Kheran-Human and Daemonite-Human hybrids in the Post-Human community.
  107. Unknown to the survivors on Earth, the ‘Daemonite Wars’ concluded three centuries ago with the total economic collapse of the Daemonite empire. Forced to pay crippling reparations, many Daemonites have left the harsh, impoverished world of their birth in favor of other planets, with many now living in ghettos on Kheran worlds.
  109. ----------------------------------
  112. Founded by Henry Pym and Grant Greer after the dissolution of HAMMER, the initial focus of Avengers Academy was the attempted rehabilitation of a group of young post-humans severely traumatized at the hands of Norman Osborn. Judged to be a rousing success when none of its high-risk students had rejected the program after its first semester, Avengers Academy expanded to include students of all types while retaining special courses and facilities for ‘high risk’ cases.
  113. Based out of the Avengers Compound just north of the Bay Area, it is estimated that the Academy is presently home to several dozen students. While Utopia is often more attractive to mutant students, the Academy in no way discriminates on the basis of ‘origin,’ ethnicity or species.
  114. CAPES magazine continues to insist that a new team of ‘West Coast Avengers’ will shortly be operating from the facility.
  116. ---------------------------------------
  119. What has, for understandable reasons, become known as ‘The Phoenix Event’ began with an impenetrable dome of red energy surrounding the entire city of San Francisco and the island-nation of Utopia, cutting both off from the outside world. The Avengers and Fantastic Four proved incapable of penetrating the barrier, let alone dismantling it.
  120. Inside, a temporal gateway opened above the Golden Gate Bridge and began to discharge an endless army of ‘Nimrod’-class Sentinels, mutant-killing machines from a dark future. Built to be generationally adaptive, destroying one Sentinel ensured that no other Sentinel could be destroyed in the same way. The intent was obvious: to exterminate the bulk of Earth’s mutant population, and any human who dared to support them.
  121. The X-Men (as well as most of Utopia’s population and, though it has been largely overlooked, San Francisco’s post-human community) resisted to the best of their ability, trying to turn back this would-be genocide for days. But, with enemies numbering in the infinite, it was a war of attrition that could never be won.
  122. The sacrifice of a time traveler and the destruction of the Sentinels’ control center in the dark future from which they came offered respite, but the dome remained – and the engineer of this event revealed itself: Bastion, an unstoppable and self-aware Sentinel that had upgraded itself with alien technology.
  123. It was at this point that the Phoenix Event became the Phoenix Event.
  124. A teenage girl, her name said to be ‘Hope,’ her background claimed to be that of the sole survivor of the Cooperstown Massacre who had been raised in the furthest reaches of the future for her protection, manifested the ability to mimic the powers of all other mutants in her area.
  125. Using impossible combinations of extraordinary power, she defeated Bastion – and, as she struck a final blow, the flaming halo of the Phoenix grew out of her. Some theorize that the Phoenix Force had inhabited her body since birth; indeed, that it had engineered her very existence. Directing or directed by the Phoenix, the girl dismantled the dome of force surrounding the city…
  126. … and unleashed a wave of unburning flame that spread across the whole of the Earth, restoring the ‘Mutant gene’ to untold tens of millions.
  127. In the aftermath of this event, the X-Men have been hailed as true heroes, saviors of the city, their leader Cyclops awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor. The sociopolitical implications of the sudden return of the Mutant race (once believed as good as extinct, now once again the obvious successor to Homo Sapiens) are profound, however, and discrimination against them has reached fever pitch in some countries.
  131. -----------------------------------------------
  134. After ‘M-Day’ – the day when more than 99% of Earth’s mutant population lost their abilities – there were no new mutant births, and those who ‘should’ have been mutants did not display any abilities or other mutant characteristics upon entering puberty.
  135. And then, a mutant was born in the small community of Cooperstown, Alaska.
  136. The birth was met with a paroxysm of violence. A fantastical religious sect, calling themselves ‘Purifiers,’ murdered the entire population of Cooperstown and set the town to flames.
  137. Known only to a handful, the mutant infant survived and would later play a pivotal role in what has become known as ‘The Phoenix Event.’
  140. ------------------------------------------------------
  142. GAMORRA
  143. A ‘rogue state’ located in the Pacific Ocean, the history of Gamorra is a complicated one.
  144. At some point during the 1960s, legendary adventurer John Colt – in truth a member of the Kheran race – abducted and replaced the nation’s ruler, Kaizen Gamorra. Acting as absolute dictator, Colt turned the nation into a factory for the most profane experiments in biological experimentation and cybernetic modification ever documented and the chief source of illegal GenFactor and custom-built transplant organs.
  145. In the 1990s, Colt was overthrown following UN intervention and was executed by the legendary superhero Mister Majestic, who had known him before his fall into madness.
  146. The true Kaizen Gamorra has since returned to power. While Gamorra’s cybernetics programs have ended (and its cybernetic troops by and large executed by the state,) it remains a hotbed of illegal cutting-edge biological experimentation and cloning. It remains a source of black market GenFactor – based on crude clones of the Sigma entity, Gamorran GenFactor is notoriously unstable even compared to the real thing – and novel drugs. Seemingly in retribution for John Colt’s actions, it a major sponsor of Anti-American terrorism.
  148. ------------------------------------------
  152. BAGALIA
  153. In the middle of a mostly-rural nation there stands one of the largest dead volcanos on Earth, and in its crater – hidden from the light of the sun save for only a few minutes at noon – there is a sprawling metropolis controlled entirely by the Masters of Evil.
  154. Populated in no small part by Post-Human criminals, Bagalia City has quickly become one of the most infamous cities in the world. It is home to HYDRA, to AIM, and to the worst of corporate offenders; so long as Baron Zemo is remunerated and his whim obeyed, there are no true laws to be found in Bagalia.
  155. It is well-known as a source of narcotics, slaves, weapons, terrorism and worse, but as it is a sovereign nation, action against it has so far been largely curtailed to easily-ignored economic sanctions.
  157. --------------------------------------------
  160. The Planetary Guide, published underground every year between 1925 and 1995, purported to document the secret history of the world. Ancient cities; secret societies; alien species; conspiracies that would reshape society – all were detailed within its pages. The guides were written anonymously, and it is believed by most that the line concluded with the death of the author – a man who, by 1995, would surely have been in his 80s. No Planetary annual has ever been republished. Because of their low print run and the enormous value of the information they contain, no Planetary Guide has sold for less than $10,000 in twenty years.
  161. (Here’s the deal: we love Planetary. It’s one of the best – maybe THE best – series to emerge from the Wildstorm label. But Planetary works best inside the universe of Planetary, distinct even from the rest of Wildstorm. Without major changes to either Planetary or to Marvel, we aren’t sure it can be made to work here in a way that would bear any resemblance to what it is.
  162. If you really want to play a character from Planetary, we’re open to it. But we’ll need to figure out how, exactly, that’s going to work.)
  164. ----------------------
  168. CODA:
  169. Widely regarded as one of the most elite societies of assassins on Earth, the Coda trace their origins to Khera. Once a relatively noble order of warriors, the passage of time has seen them transformed into a brutal gang of killers-for-hire with few beliefs beyond their intrinsic superiority and their commitment to fulfilling a contract.
  170. All Coda are female – there has never been a male initiate. The ruling council of the Coda is composed entirely of Kherans, but the bulk of their membership is human; however, their rituals and technologies allow these otherwise normal humans to live far longer than would otherwise be possible and to greatly outperform the average would-be murderer.
  171. They have contributed heavily towards human mythology involving the Amazons, and their worship of the goddess Hecate is likely the origin of the Greek deity of the same name.
  172. They are believed to be headquartered somewhere in the mountains of Pontus, in Greece, and are known to have a sizeable base in Madagascar.
  175. -----------------------------------------------
  177. ORIGINS:
  178. In Marvel, as in most shared universes of this genre, there are almost as many origins as there are characters. But in Wildstorm most characters fall into one of only a few groups, the most notable being:
  179. COMET SEEDLINGS, endowed with or descended from those granted superhuman abilities from the Comet Event
  180. GEN-ACTIVES, who have been exposed to GenFactor or are the children of someone who was,
  181. HYBRIDS, descended from Kheran or Daemonite ancestors – who may be as recent as a parent, or so distant as to be entirely unknown.
  182. In this universe, of course, there are still some people who just randomly wind up with powers. And in terms of global population, by far the largest ‘origin’ of post-humans is simply that they are Mutants, followed here by Comet Seedlings and Hybrids.
  183. If you’re so inclined, you’re free to change the origin of most Marvel characters to one of Wildstorm’s unique options – there’s no reason Titania couldn’t be Gen-Active, Ms. Marvel a Hybrid, Electro a Seedling. We encourage you to explore such avenues if they interest you!
  184. Our only ‘But…’ with this, is that there are a small number of characters whose origin is central enough to the character that changing them creates ripples that run throughout the entire world – and, in that case, it’s best to leave it alone.
  185. SEE ALSO:
  188. --------------------------------
  191. In a world where Utopia’s population approaches half a million, Tranquility has lost much of its uniqueness but little of its charm. Located in rural Oregon, it is a city founded and populated entirely by Post-Humans – the largest group by far being retired heroes from World War 2, their former villains, and the families and descendants of each.
  192. Famous residents include much of the Liberty Squad; the former stars of the hit ‘Tranquili-Teens’ children’s program; infamous (and retired) ‘Global Threat’ level villain Henry Hate; several members of the Liberty Legion, and countless others.
  194. -----------------------------------
  196. TAO:
  197. In New York City, there is the Kingpin.
  198. Everywhere else, there is Tao.
  199. TAO – ‘Tactically Augmented Organism’ – was grown by the defunct Optigen Institute for I/O. He is the most intelligent human that has ever lived. His memory and his recall are perfect. And his charisma is so intense that it is far beyond even the most powerful form of mind control.
  200. He had the ears of the secret rulers of the world.
  201. And then he crippled their organization, set them against one another, and had murdered the ones who remained.
  202. He runs the single largest organization of post-human criminals on Earth. It has no true name, but intelligence agencies have taken to calling it ‘The Syndicate.’
  203. He is also the largest non-state sponsor of terrorism on Earth.
  204. Tao is not Dr. Doom. He does not want to rule the world.
  205. He just wants to watch it burn.
  207. --------------------------------------------
  210. It stands in Golden Gate Park, and it towers above the landscape. Visible throughout the Bay area, it is a full mile from its ‘feet’ to its ‘head’ – more than three times the height of the largest building in either Utopia or San Francisco. The Dreaming Celestial is entirely motionless and responds to no form of stimulus; even when Magneto excised a portion of its ‘brain,’ even when the man known as Mr. Sinister stole its power to turn a portion of the city into a mockery of London, it did not move.
  211. No one in San Francisco could tell you where it came from – it was just *there* one morning – but every man, woman and child who sees it is instantly aware that it is a ‘Celestial,’ whatever that means.
  212. It has become a popular tourist destination, and several new religious movements are devoted to it.
  214. -----------------------------------------------
  217. The San Francisco Bay area, Utopia included, is home to almost 9 million residents and is among the wealthiest areas in the world, with a higher GPA than any other American city; it is ranked number 8 on the Global Financial Centers index, number 2 for the USA.
  218. San Francisco is one of only a handful of cities, fewer than 10 globally, that have officially established themselves as ‘sanctuary cities’ for Mutants – done following the events of ‘M-Day,’ the resurgence of the global Mutant population following last year’s Phoenix Event has made the policy a controversial one. But it remains on the books, and the city refuses cooperation with and money from most government agencies in pursuit of alleged Mutants. San Francisco, uniquely, recognizes *all* Post-Human Beings as ‘Mutant’ for this legislation.
  219. The heart of America’s technology development and service sector, San Francisco’s PHB population has contributed to a measured increase in the global level of technology and is home to HALO, famed for their Halo Phone and their supposedly inexhaustible batteries.
  220. Located several miles off the coast of San Francisco is Utopia, the sovereign city-state established by the X-Men. Once a barren rock described uncharitably as “a hole where the Mutant race has crawled to die,” its population has swelled to nearly half a million and its surface area to ten square miles; it has rapidly established itself as a city, rather than a suicide bunker. *Beneath* Utopia, on the sea bed, is New Atlantis – the largest and capital city of the Atlanteans.
  221. Atlantean population numbers are currently unavailable.
  224. ----------------------------------------------
  227. The level of widely-available consumer technology – the technology you see every day – can be problematic on a game like this.
  228. Ignore the existence of scientific fields that just don’t exist in our world, and the contributions of people far beyond human, and you can rob the setting of something.
  229. But if you let the tech level skyrocket, people tend to feel alienated by it. It doesn’t necessarily require MORE suspension of disbelief than somebody firing lasers from their eyes, but it is a different KIND of suspension of disbelief.
  230. The overall level of technology, by and large, isn’t much more advanced than our own in ways that impact the daily lives of most. Halo’s batteries are inexhaustible, but so far, they’re still just ordinary batteries – a AA that you never need to replace is great, but it isn’t life-altering. Halo’s phone never needs to be charged and is remarkably powerful for its size, and that’s helped it capture a commanding market lead - but it’s still just a smartphone. There have been flying “cars” for decades, now – even SHIELD’s flying carriers - but there have never been consumer models for safety reasons. More advanced building materials have let skyscrapers grow a little larger, and made them a little more durable, and advanced construction techniques and equipment mean that disaster areas take days instead of months to clean up, and weeks instead of years to repair. Most people will never be teleported, but they’re aware that the technology exists.
  231. The biggest change is the space program. Here, it was never defunded and had contributions from post-humans. Orbital facilities are rare, but Skywatch – the main base of Stormwatch – is well-known, and rumors persist that Halo is constructing one. Also well-known is Tranquility Base, the UN research station on Earth’s moon. Unmanned missions throughout our solar system are common, and the first (publicly known) manned mission to Mars happened in 2010.
  232. Utopia is a bit different. Built from the ground up on the hyper-advanced remains of Asteroid M, kept afloat by a massive pillar that leads to New Atlantis, and turned into a true city with the aid of Atlantean and Wakandan architects, Utopia is far more advanced than the rest of the Bay Area. Gleaming in the day and illuminated at night, it is very much a city of the future.
  234. -----------------------------------------------
  237. Of the many imprints to emerge from the early 90s comics boom, Wildstorm had by far the most successful shared universe. It was steeped heavily in conspiracies, and featured the work of writers such as Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, James Robinson, Grant Robinson, Adam Warren, and more.
  238. We’re big fans of Wildstorm, but let’s face it – nobody’s ever going to make a Wildstorm-only game (not even us) and unfortunately, like many other things, it gets drowned out and loses everything special about it when you attempt it on potpourri super games.
  239. But we think it meshes well with Marvel – better than it does with DC, even, as N52 helps prove. The power levels are largely similar, the world is largely OUR world, and, as we’ve discovered, most of the things that seem they wouldn’t fit can be made to fit with relatively few changes. Because of our focus on Utopia and San Francisco, Halo has been moved from LA and Gen13 from San Diego.
  240. So, that’s why we’re doing this: because we want to, because we like the idea, and because we think it will work and, we hope, will appeal to you as well.
  243. -------------------------------------------
  246. Our primary continuity is that of Marvel Comics, focusing on the X-Men titles. With Wildstorm, we’ve taken a more scattered approach – Wildstorm is very much laid atop Marvel, not the opposite.
  247. As always, keep in mind that our approach to canon is relaxed. We don’t expect you to know everything that ever happened in a comic, especially when they sometimes wildly contradict one another and even themselves. (For example: Mr. Majestic becomes a cosmic entity in one book, dies in a locked time loop in another that doesn’t recognize his first solo series, and is alive and unaltered in still another book that doesn’t recognize EITHER of his solo books.)
  248. Where we are in Wildstorm:
  250. The first two volumes of Stormwatch happened here, with some exceptions: CHANGE OR DIE did not happen, and Henry Bendix is still Weatherman – and was Weatherman for the events of the second volume. Team Achilles exists as a SpecOps-style squad of mixed normal and super-humans. Stormwatch PHD exists but is in its earliest days.
  252. Unfortunately, we’re not going to use The Authority. While it’s a fantastic book – the first 12 issues, at least – it radically altered the status quo of Wildstorm on countless occasions and would have an even larger and more disastrous impact on Marvel. The characters from The Authority are all available to play, however, and we’re not at all against someone forming it IC. While CHANGE OR DIE did not happen, we assume anyone interested in playing The Engineer will be applying for Jackie and anyone interested in The Doctor will be applying for Jeroen or Habib.
  253. GEN13:
  254. The first and second volumes of Gen13 (the mini-series and the series proceeding it), and most of Gen13’s spinoffs and mini-series books, happened up to just before THINK LIKE A GUN.
  255. DV8:
  256. The events of DV8 happened through the end of the series, including Gen-Active.
  257. The events of DV8: GODS AND MONSTERS likely did NOT happen, but you’re entirely free to apply for the versions of DV8 characters featured in it.
  258. TEAM 7:
  259. Happened, during the time depicted; this isn’t a problem, because all members of Team 7 age much slower than normal.
  260. WILDCATS:
  261. The mini-series, and the first and second volumes as well as most mini-series, can be assumed to have happened, as did the earliest issues of WILDCATS 3.0. Halo is a massive corporation and has begun the process of changing the world but has not yet debuted their zero-energy cars, let alone their commercial Spartans.
  262. SLEEPER:
  263. Probably has not happened, but POINT BLANK and SLEEPER are fantastic, and you should read them.
  264. WETWORKS:
  265. Happened, but likely not exactly as depicted. Atlanteans are not monsters, vampires work differently, etc.
  267. Did not happen – Tao has not abducted 90 percent of Earth’s post-humans.
  269. The first and second Deathblow series happened; the Gen-Factor bomb didn’t turn NYC into Marvel’s NYC (because it was already that) but did create several thousand new Gen-Actives. Because Deathblow’s ‘power’ is that he never stays dead, he’s of course open to play.
  271. If you read either, the reasons why they couldn’t happen are obvious. In addition to heavily featuring characters from DC Comics’ universe, Armageddon depicted Wildstorm characters as deranged psychopaths above and beyond the degree to which anyone who puts on a pervert suit and assaults the mentally ill has problems.
  272. And, finally -
  274. The Wild Storm is great. But it’s also a complete reboot of Wildstorm, set in a world where (as of the beginning of the story) there are a dozen-odd post-human characters and a global power structure that isn’t at all compatible with another universe. It’s Planetary times 10. You’re more than welcome to adapt the versions of characters featured in The Wild Storm, but you’ll need to adapt them.
  277. --------------------------------------
  284. Our main continuity here is that of Marvel Comics. We’ve made changes (a handful major, most minor), but at opening the status quo is:
  286. X-MEN:
  287. Following the destruction of their school, they relocated to San Francisco – and, following attacks by HAMMER, founded the sovereign microstate of Utopia. Second Coming happened but ends with the Phoenix Event and the “re-powering” of every Mutant on Earth. Following the Phoenix Event, Utopia has grown to become a true city, with a population of almost half a million, virtually all of them Mutants. Schism did not happen here, and the X-Men remain united. Despite being set after Schism much of Kieron Gillen’s run of UNCANNY X-MEN still took place and most of the events (including Sinister’s creation of Sinister London) transpired. AGE OF X happened. FEAR ITSELF did not.
  289. FALL and RISE OF THE NEW MUTANTS occurred: The New Mutants spent the better part of a (relative) year in Limbo, and many were traumatized by the experience. UNFINISHED BUSINESS occurred; the team is, at least in theory, focused on former friends and enemies the X-Men have lost track of. EXILED occurred.
  291. The specific events relating to AVENGERS VS X-MEN aside, Avengers Academy happened, as did both AVENGERS ARENA and AVENGERS UNDERCOVER. Instead of the LA area, the Academy/Avengers Compound is located just outside of San Francisco.
  293. Kieron Gillen’s JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY occurred, though without the events of FEAR ITSELF. Thor did not die. Young Loki, having established a reputation as an agent of mischief rather than of malice, was consumed and replaced by the spirit of the ‘true’ Loki.
  295. Kieron Gillen’s YOUNG AVENGERS series occurred. Miss America kicked a bunch of Evil Avengers in a pocket universe, and then they had a party.
  297. ‘Everything Else’ is one Hell of a big category.
  298. *For the most part*, outside of San Francisco, the Marvel Universe is just prior to the INFINITY event. The preludes to it haven’t happened; the event itself has not happened. There is no Terrigen Cloud.
  299. As always, keep in mind that our approach to canon is relaxed. We don’t expect you to know everything that ever happened in a comic, especially when they sometimes wildly contradict one another and even themselves.
  300. -----------------------------------------
  302. COSMIC:
  303. We’re big fans of Marvel’s “cosmic” books.
  304. But getting that sort of thing to work on a game is not a simple task. Our experience, sadly, has been that it often just results in a ‘space clique’ that falls apart when 1 or 2 central people lose interest.
  305. So, at least for now, we’re not going to allow cosmic characters.
  306. Examples of what we’re talking about include:
  307. Silver Surfer
  308. Elders of the Universe
  309. Thanos
  310. Adam Warlock
  311. Gladiator
  312. The Guardians of the Galaxy
  313. Etc
  315. -----------------------------------
  320. Many aspects of this game are experimental – ideas we like the sound of, compromises we think will work – and our approach to canon isn’t very different.
  321. We are, essentially, a canon game. Characters are who they are, their history is what it is, and we’re set during/building off a specific period of Marvel’s X-MEN comics.
  322. We don’t view this as a shackle. It’s something that helps to set an overall feel and gives everyone a set place to start from. We think that’s a good thing, and a thing that’s too often been sacrificed – a sacrifice that often results in a scattershot world that makes little if any internal sense.
  323. But we don’t expect you to know what’s happened in every issue of 60-plus years of comic books. Most people are perfectly capable of playing most characters without any need for encyclopedic knowledge. A few good stories where they’re major cast members and, we believe, you’ll have the tools required. You don’t need to know what happened in some obscure series from the 1970s, and you don’t need to write a background covering decades of contradictory material. Get the main notes, and you can improvise the tune.
  324. That we’re using the SECOND COMING event to such radically different ends, that we’ve made substantial changes to the status quo of the Marvel Universe at the time of opening, that we’ve done our best to graft Wildstorm on – we hope these things help to show we’re not committed to continuity at the cost of playability. We don’t mean to offend anyone who liked those games, but we’re not Brave and the Bold and we’re not Marvel Extreme.
  325. You *are* allowed to make changes to characters. You *are* allowed to tweak them to better resemble the version of the character you like best. What we ask is that you keep where and when we’re set in mind.
  326. Outside of the “X-Sphere,” we tend towards an even lighter hand. We just ask that your character have a reason to be in the Bay Area. There are good reasons for most characters – Utopia has become a true city that offers citizenship to all Mutants, San Francisco is a sanctuary city for all Post-Humans, the Avengers Academy is located just outside the city, the Dreaming Celestial is present, the Halo Corporation is headquartered here, et c. There are a handful of characters who, unfortunately, don’t make a lot of sense outside of New York City. We don’t entirely view this as a negative; it can provide opportunities for characters usually forced to the sidelines to be “important.”
  330. RETCONS:
  331. Retcons are an issue on every game. Fail to lay out a policy for them, and you find yourself forced to create one – usually under a lot of pressure.
  332. Our experience has lead us to believe that there’s an extent to which long-term sustainability hangs not just on ability to attract players, but on ability to adapt to *different players* claiming characters. Nobody wants to be chained to five years-worth of another player’s actions; nobody wants to start applying for a character only to learn that they in no way resemble the character they want to play due to years of activity.
  333. Because of that, our policy on retcons leans towards permissive.
  334. If a character is part of a major event here, that’s probably going to be locked in. Without staff permission, most of the big bullet points on their wiki entry will probably remain.
  335. Everything else is left to player discretion. Romantic entanglement, especially, is *not* something that we expect new players to retain, and under no circumstance will we enforce it.
  339. Like NPC companions in a lazily-written game, every character is bisexual until a player interacts with them.
  340. In other words: oh my god, why would we care?
  344. Characters who didn’t appear until after the period when the game is set can still be played.
  345. Most won’t require any real alterations at all. They’ll just be around before they were in the comics.
  346. Others will need to be adapted.
  347. The largest group affected by this are the multitude of Inhuman characters introduced after Infinity. There was no terrigen bomb here; there is no terrigen cloud here. Because of this, random terrigenesis can’t happen. So those characters will need a different origin.
  348. Some might make the most sense as Mutants. Some might make more sense as Hybrids, or Seedlings, or even Gen-Actives.
  349. If you’re unsure about a character you’d like to play, never be afraid to ask someone on staff for help.
  353. AGE:
  354. Our experience has been that what age characters should be is bizarrely controversial.
  355. Age doesn’t matter with most characters, but there are some that need to have been around long enough for things and characters who followed them to make sense. This isn’t a Year 0 game – we’re starting from a set place in Marvel canon. Because of that:
  357. Of the original X-Men, most should be in their 30s.
  358. Of the original Avengers, most should be in their 30s with some in their 40s; Hank Pym has a daughter in her late teens.
  359. The New Mutants are scattered throughout their early 20s.
  360. Reed Richards is likely a very-well-preserved 60-something.
  361. In the 18 years since the ‘Age of Heroes’ dawned, a generation has reached adulthood. These are well-established characters.
  362. Plenty of people want to play younger characters – because they want to relive their youth, because they’re young themselves, whatever the case. Luckily, there are countless younger characters available! 3-4 different ‘classes’ of X-Men, two Avengers Academy classes, the young characters introduced after Infinity, et c. We’re not saying you can’t play a teenager.
  363. We’re just saying you can’t play someone with a decade and a half of backstory as one.
  365. SHIELD
  366. The glory days of SHIELD are long behind it.
  367. Created by the United States in the days that followed the Second War World, it was in theory a peacekeeping, law enforcement and counter-terrorism agency sanctioned by member states of NATO. While it served as counter to Hydra and Leviathan, in all other situations it was in practice another arm of the US military-industrial complex. The exploits of Nick Fury during the Cold War, once legendary, are now viewed poorly by most of the world; he is wanted for war crimes in many nations.
  368. Following the abject failure of SHIELD during the Skrull Invasion, the organization was dismantled and replaced by ‘HAMMER’ under the leadership of Norman Osborn.
  369. Finding second life as a mercenary group under Nick Fury, much of SHIELD’s former personnel waged a private war against Hydra and Leviathan using assets stolen from HAMMER. This served to further tarnish the organization’s reputation in the eyes of the world.
  370. HAMMER’s existence was no less controversial. It continued the policy of detaining metahumans who illegally displayed powers, employed infamous criminals as part of the ’50 States Initiative,’ and in many ways served as Norman Osborn’s personal army. It was shuttered as consequence of Osborn’s unauthorized invasion of Asgard, and Osborn is currently awaiting trial on charges of treason.
  371. SHIELD has only recently been reconstituted, in a far more limited form. Now ‘Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics,’ it possesses a single helicarrier and is limited to operations within the United States; the other nations of NATO long ago abandoned it in favor of the more stable, less militaristic STORMWATCH.
  372. The presence of Black Razor troops in SHIELD operations have lead some observers to conclude that the organization has been suborned by the I/O infrastructure of the CIA.
  377. The term ‘caterpillars’ originated in Jonathan Hickman’s SECRET WARRIORS as a name for previously-unknown post-humans with connections to established characters, by and large the children of (relatively minor) villains and possessors of obscure magical or technological artifacts.
  378. Because we’re a game set in continuity, because many characters have been active for nearly 20 years, and because a frequently voiced complaint is that OCs can be difficult to establish because of their lack of built-in hooks - we allow OC caterpillars.
  379. The rules:
  380. 1) You need staff approval before starting your application.
  381. 2) Caterpillars work best connected to relatively minor characters – those in SECRET WARRIORS included the children of Doctor Druid, Mr. Hyde, and Absorbing Man. Thunderbolt’s daughter is more likely to be approved than Gambit’s son.
  382. 3) Most caterpillars should be in their late teens or early 20s, especially if they’re the children of FCs.
  383. 4) A caterpillar connected to a played character must get approval from staff AND from the player of that character.
  390. Characters from alternate dimensions will not be approved unless they are FCs who existed in mainstream Marvel at the time of our cutoff. As example:
  392. Yes: Rachel Summers, America Chavez, Nate Grey, Hyperion, Black Swan, Noh-Varr
  393. No: Gwenpool, Spider-Gwen, The Ultimates, Bloodstorm, Teen X-Men
  398. A full timeline of either the Marvel or Wildstorm universes would be massive and ultimately something that vanishingly few people would find useful. But there are events that occurred in this universe that most people living in it would know:
  400. · President Richard Nixon, exposed as a member of the Secret Empire, committed suicide in the White House.
  401. · More than 16,000,000 people died when the nation of Genosha was attacked by Sentinels. International response to the attack was limited, and Genosha remains a mass grave of radioactive ruins. Despite being the largest act of genocide in human history, it is rarely acknowledged as such for political reasons.
  402. · The existence of alien life (in a broad sense) has been known to the public for several decades, and Earth has been the target of several invasions. The most recent, by the Skrull Empire, resulted in the reveal that many celebrities and political figures were in fact Skrulls.
  403. · The existence of post-human/superhuman beings has been known for more than a century; the first widely known “supergroup” was Freedom’s Five, fighting for the Allies during World War I.
  404. · Mutants, as a distinct species, began to appear in increasingly large numbers beginning in the 1950s.
  405. · In the 1970s, a previously unknown Comet grazed Earth’s atmosphere; large numbers of ‘Comet Seedlings’ have existed since.
  406. · On “M-Day,” all but a few hundred mutants lost their abilities.
  407. · “The Phoenix Event” resulted in the reappearance of lost mutant abilities, and the appearance of an untold number of “new” mutants – in truth, individuals who would have been mutants if not for “M-Day.”
  408. · The birth rate of “baseline” humans, even in developing nations, has been declining for more than 50 years. Total population of all post-humans is believed to be more than 200,000,000. Very few possess noteworthy “powers.”
  409. · Galactus is known to exist and has threatened Earth several times. Allegations that the first Galactus visitation occurred during the sixteenth century are dismissed as a conspiracy theory.
  410. · England has experienced two unique events resulting in the creation of post-humans – The Vent in 1953, and the Jaspers Warps in in the early 1980s. Britain was also, during the early 1980s, a dictatorship. Allegation of death camps and mass graves have existed since but have never been conclusively proven. Every successive government has refused calls to investigate.
  411. · During the 2000s, there were extensive reports of Mutants being abducted by unknown parties. None of those reported missing – thousands of men, women and children - have ever been found. In the Mutant community it is widely believed that the US Government was responsible, and there is some evidence (denounced as fraudulent by the government) pointing to the existence of a US-run concentration camp in the American Southwest known as ‘Neverland.’
  412. · Also during the 2000s, the Mutant known as Magneto – now a member of the ruling council of Utopia – destroyed large portions of Manhattan.
  413. · In response to government intervention, the X-Men established the island nation of Utopia off the coast of San Francisco. In the aftermath of the Phoenix Event, its population has exploded to half a million Mutants and their human relatives.
  414. · The current “age” is generally considered to have begun nearly 20 years ago with the failed Mars Flight that created the Fantastic Four.
  419. Established as the last refuge for a dying race, no one ever expected Utopia to have a population large enough to demand the formal enforcement of law – it was governed by consensus and frontier law, at best. But the Phoenix Event changed everything, and in only one year the island nation has come to be home to nearly half a million Mutants along with tens of thousands of their human partners and loved ones.
  420. The legal system and governance of Utopia, as such, have been created under pressure and continue to evolve.
  421. In most ways, the laws of Utopia are little different from the laws of the United States. Rape, murder, theft – all are of course illegal, and are punished harshly; criminals are consigned to stasis and virtual reality rehabilitation in the ‘X-Brig’ prison complex located underwater, in the central support pillar that connects Utopia to New Atlantis. Assault is illegal, but context matters, and simple fighting is almost never viewed as a criminal matter.
  422. Utopia has no laws that prohibit the possession or use of any substance other than Hypercortisone D. Because of the irreparable damage it does to the X-Gene, and because of its connections to Sublime, possession of Hypercortisone D can be grounds for banishment from Utopia – and possession with intent to distribute is grounds for execution.
  423. Utopia is administered at its highest level by a ruling council. Permanent, unelected members include Scott Summers, Emma Frost, Magneto, Namor, the android known as Danger, and Dr. Nemesis. Utopia’s explosive population growth resulted in demands for democratic reforms, and in response there are now many elected councilors serving six-month terms of office. Legislation is determined by votes in the council, but permanent members retain a veto.
  424. For Mutants, there are no restrictions on immigration to Utopia – all are welcome, no matter their status in the outside world; Utopia has been accused on numerous occasions of harboring ‘Mutant Terrorists.’ Even former enemies of the X-Men are welcome, so long as they obey Utopia’s laws. Direct relatives of immigrating Mutants are also welcomed.
  425. Initially, the X-Men were the enforcers of Utopia’s scant laws – but a few dozen people cannot effectively oversee half a million. Recent months have seen the creation of the USF, the ‘Utopia Security Force,’ as a law enforcement body.
  426. Utopia has limited extradition treaties with several nations; while a sanctuary for all Mutants, Utopia will not serve as safe harbor for those who actively prey on those outside of their borders.
  429. AGE OF X:
  430. The only son of Charles Xavier, Legion is rightly called ‘the God Mutant’ – he has radically altered the timeline on two known occasions.
  431. The first, occurring years ago, was the most dramatic: attempting to kill Magneto as a young man so that his father’s dream of peaceful coexistence might come to fruition, he instead killed Xavier and in doing so created a timeline where the tyrannical Apocalypse conquered the world and enslaved the human race.
  432. The X-Men of that warped timeline managed to travel back in time and prevent Legion’s actions, restoring time to its proper configuration and banishing Legion to The Bleed, the formless void between universes. It was believed that he would never return.
  433. Some time after her apparent resurrection, the mutant sorceress Magik located Legion in the Bleed and returned him to Earth, using him as a weapon against the Elder Gods. In this, Legion was successful; they have, so far as anyone can tell, entirely erased from existence.
  434. Shortly after, Legion ‘flared’ again.
  435. He created a pocket universe where Xavier had never formed the X-Men, where Magneto was the leader of the Mutant race from a fortress constructed from the remains of most of New York City’s skyscrapers and fought daily attempts to eradicate them by anti-mutant government forces.
  436. As before, the X-Men undid his actions.
  437. But the ‘Age of X’ has left scares that the ‘Age of Apocalypse’ did not – an entire lifetime of memories for those who were pulled into it. Legion is presently undergoing psychic rehabilitation in a Tibetan monastery run by and created for telepaths.
  438. (The Age of X, in canon, turned Frenzy from villain to X-Man and altered the powers of several Mutants. It is available as another means to justify modest alterations to FCs.)
  444. Over the course of 80 years, Marvel has killed off a LOT of characters.
  445. A few of them, like Captain Marvel, died in stories so well-crafted that even decades later they've been left in place.
  446. But most died to add shock value to a formulaic event, to serve as easy character development for someone more popular or toyetic, or to add an exclamation point to the "It's Serious Now!" storyline of the week.
  447. Characters in the first category, we're inclined to let lie. But that's a list that doesn't have a lot of names on it.
  448. For everyone else, we're amenable.
  449. The amount of scrutiny on our part and the amount of effort we'll expect on yours is going to depend on how big a name the character is, and how important their death was. We probably won't bat an eye if you want to play Laurie Collins. If you want to play Jean Grey, however, the odds are good you'll need to run a TP.
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