VordWarp: non-Crunch Discussion

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CaptainKaulu
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VordWarp: non-Crunch Discussion

Post by CaptainKaulu »

Opening a new thread on my setting here, in hopes that it will generate more discussion than my thread that's mostly statblocks on Character Sheets. I'll be cross-posting the less-crunchy information about the setting here, and expanding on it eventually.

VordWarp Synopsis with Creator Comments

VordWarp is a pretty standard M&M setting in a number of ways: it is set in the Sol System, and particularly on Earth, in a near-future reality. I guess it's Modern or "Platinum" in tone, with modern moral issues but less gritty and more fantastic and closer to clear "good vs evil" than Iron Age comics. Supers have always existed on Earth, at least with some power Origins; but they have become much more common in the modern age, especially since Cosmic-origin powers started manifesting in 1999.

Most heroes and villains are in the PL 6-11 range. Nearly a million individuals, or 1 in 10,000 in the world are low-grade Supers (think PL 3-6, but still not "ordinary folk"). Only maybe 3,000 in the world are in the PL 7-15 range, and most of those make themselves scarce from public knowledge. (A single Earthling is PL 16.)

Then, a bit of inspiration from the StarCraft universe: the setting's namesake and most central element, the Vord race of invasive aliens, similar to StarCraft's Zerg (but named after the analogous faction from Codex Alera, to be slightly less of a StarCraft copy). This threat looms over humanity and, to the extent that humanity isn't in denial about it (which they largely are), shapes the setting to a significant degree.

Good humans, bad humans, and Vord are the overarching main "sides" of VordWarp; the Protoss-analogous individuals (i.e. advanced alien races that are also against the Vord) are a relatively minor part of the setting, and, being very few in number, must align themselves with some faction or other of humans if they want to get much done.
CaptainKaulu
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Re: VordWarp: non-Crunch Discussion

Post by CaptainKaulu »

Vord

The Vord are a hive-minded multi-species, many of their varieties insectoid in form. They are bent on conquering and imposing their own forms on all habitable solar systems, and have already been very successful at this endeavor, sweeping through a large number of star systems in the Sagittarius and Orion arms of the Milky Way Galaxy. Galactic civilizations and species have already fallen to them in dozens.

The Bequest Probe and its Mechanism

A planet of advanced but peaceful aliens, Tau Cygni Bd, has been conquered by the Vord—but not before they were able to launch the Bequest Probe towards Earth, in hopes of saving another species from their own fate and maybe even setting a foundation for their own avenging. The Probe was equipped with a neutrino-cloud-based Mechanism that, using technology beyond the understanding of even most alien civilizations, has the capacity to transform humans, leaving them with various abilities to manipulate Cosmic Energy. This Mechanism flits about Earth unpredictably, "Gifting" the occasional human that it comes across with Powers, and is the main reason that superpowers have become so much more common since 1999 than they have been throughout Earth's history.

The Bequest Probe crashed in the Russian wilderness, and ejected the Mechanism in an explosion shortly thereafter. No one knows whether the Probe was intended to crash or whether this was a malfunction, and whether the Mechanism's behavior since is as-intended or not. The Tau Cygni aliens aren't around anymore to question ...

The Succor

A number of other alien races who are enemies to the Vord in relatively close parts of the Galaxy banded together to give what aid they could to Earth, seeing that Earth was going to be one of the Vord's next victims. A diverse group of anti-Vord warriors crewed a single large starship, the Succor, and made the journey to Earth.

However, galactic FTL transportation technology still has severe limitations, and the Succor's voyage stretched those limitations to their breaking point. Specifically, the only known reproducible means of FTL travel is to psionically bend spacetime in a "warp field" so that the craft is not, compared to local spacetime, moving faster than c at all. In the case of the Succor, however, the generated warp field was so strong (in order to reach Earth before the Vord) that it psionically stunned all of the aliens aboard the starship, leaving them catatonic by the time they reached Earth. Only a few of the aliens have since awoken from their catatonic state, and none of those few know a better means of waking the others than just waiting.

The catatonic alien warriors from the ship have been scattered across Earth's surface by humans who see them as an important resource, either for combating the Vord or for their own ends; awoken aliens may thus originate from any country, and they are (wisely) distributed so that a single-minded Vord invasion can't wipe them all out in one devastating blow.
CaptainKaulu
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Re: VordWarp: non-Crunch Discussion

Post by CaptainKaulu »

Power Origins of VordWarp

Psionics

Extremely rarely, humans have come into existence throughout humanity's history whose minds are so powerful that they can simply bend reality to their will in various ways (usually mentally-themed ways). This remains extraordinarily rare even in modern times.

Mysticism: The Energy of the Collective Unconscious

While most sentient creatures, even sapient ones like humans, lack the power to single-handedly alter reality, they can still create alternate realities when their power is pooled together in great numbers. And they do so, spontaneously and involuntarily.

Thus, myriad "other dimensions" local to Earth exist, in great diversity. Heavens, hells, astral seas, and especially primal dimensions formed from the instincts of animals (and maybe even lower Kingdoms of life) can be found; indeed, any dimension can exist, as long as it reflects some ideal or emotion that exists in the minds of numerous Earthlings.

Producing various reality-affecting effects by blurring our "prime" reality with other dimensions is known as Mysticism. It is unknown if all sapient humans are capable of mystic powers, but in any case, they are exceedingly rare and unpredictable except when controlled by the formulas of Magic (see below). Some very old inanimate objects, known as Mystic Artifacts, have also bonded with other dimensions in which they had parallel counterparts, a process that takes hundreds or thousands of years but has been known to make Mystic powers more accessible to sapient creatures who wield the Artifacts involved.

Magic

The "goddess" Inanna of ancient Mesopotamia, probably a human originally, had a mind powerful enough to practice psionics, but used it to master mysticism to a degree not seen before or since. She created her own exceedingly complex "language" of words, gestures, runes, and material symbols, and bound great amounts of mystic energy to it. By studying her rituals and formulas, others became much more able to channel mystic forces and energies themselves. This formulaic subset of mysticism is known as Magic.

Inanna has withered, after six millennia, to the point where she still has great knowledge, but can do little with it except keep herself alive. No one else has managed the breadth of magical ability that she has during that time. Instead, most powerful practitioners of magic specialize in learning a small number of formulas in great depth, allowing them to produce a limited number of related effects.

Though many are able to learn magic if they set their mind to it, it remains a rare thing across the Earth, since the practice takes great dedication and magicians tend to be a secretive lot.

Gifted of the Cosmos

Since the crashing of the Bequest Probe (see above), the Bequest Mechanism has found thousands of individuals that it considers "worthy" of Gifting Cosmic Powers to various degrees. No one understands what the Mechanism considers "worthiness," or whether it is functioning properly since its crash landing.

In many cases, Gifted Powers of this nature have nothing to do with mysticism or the collective unconscious or psionic power, but are classified as a new and poorly-understood Origin of powers, "Cosmic." (In other cases, Gifted individuals' main new ability has been an extreme aptitude for learning psionics or magic or other mystic powers.)

Super-Science

In any period of history, technology that is sufficiently avant garde can be considered a superpower, and this era is certainly no exception.

Particularly in the current era of warring between superheroes and super-villains, a lot of cutting-edge technology is kept quite secret, rather than publicly released for maximum profitability, especially in the areas of cybernetics and robotics.

Some reverse engineering of alien technology based on the Succor has been successful.

Alien

Awoken aliens from the Succor (see above) are few in number, but have diverse powers of their own, including many psionic abilities beyond what most humans can muster. (Out of character: this piece of the setting provides a great explanation for how a player can play a PC with Alien-Origin powers.)

Mutation???

Numerous pop superhero fictions have speculated that extraordinary mutations in a human's DNA code might allow them to perform reality-changing stunts of various kinds, with no mysticism or psionics or Cosmic Power involved. So far, this has not been proved to exist, and if it does ever manifest, it will likely be in the form of minor powers rather than anything dramatic.

Mundane-But-Super

Some people just train hard enough and have enough talent that they can hang with superheroes (or super-villains) at some level, without needing any "Origin" for their abilities. (Out of character: This Origin works great for supplementing other Power Origins or for describing many heroes in the PL 6-8 range, but is unlikely to be the sole explanation for characters of PL 9+.)
Last edited by CaptainKaulu on Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
CaptainKaulu
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Re: VordWarp: non-Crunch Discussion

Post by CaptainKaulu »

S.P.U.N.

The organization once known as the United Nations has given up most of its agendas in order to retask its remaining power to combating the Vord threat. This mobilized endeavor is known as the Space Patrol of the United Nations (usually just called "spoon").

S.P.U.N. is headquartered on twelve space stations orbiting Earth and its Moon, and while it employs combat drone machines as much as it can, it also recruits and trains as many human Space Marines as possible. These valorous infantry and their robotic tools provide the first line of defense for humanity against the invading insectoids.

Hook: there's always the sci-fi classic possibility that the robot forces may turn upon their controllers to some extent ...

Starship Baluarte

Outside the normal command structure of S.P.U.N. is its most elite squadron, the crew of the Starship Baluarte (Spanish for "bulwark"). Sponsored by eccentric billionaire Dr. Astro Remanasuarez, this small team has the resources to fly about the Sol System with much more mobility and freedom than the rest of S.P.U.N., and therefore is humanity’s hammer against the most pressing or elite Vord targets.
CaptainKaulu
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Re: VordWarp: non-Crunch Discussion

Post by CaptainKaulu »

Earth-Side Situation: Status of Nations

Greater India

The man who absorbed the brunt of the Bequest Probe’s powers is convinced that he, alone, has the power to repel the Vord invasion. He is also megalomaniacal, and believes that he must have absolute command of humanity in order to make his stand against the Vord. Known as Master Khan (or "Dark Lord") Gajasura, he has taken control of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and most of Nepal and Pakistan, and reigns over them cruelly.

It is no secret that the Dark Lord and his loyal or brainwashed followers intend to take over the whole world. He works not only through obvious armies, but through covert agents as well. In the meantime, over a billion non-brainwashed denizens suffer under the lack of human rights this nation puts upon them.

China

The dictatorial government of China has taken a keen interest in the new technologies and super-powered individuals enhancing the world, and keeps draconian control over supers and super-technologies as much as they can—except when they can hire out mercenaries to other countries for large sums of money.

The Chinese government claims that its control measures will make it the strongest cell of resistance against the Vord if they ever land, but in the meantime they seem to have plenty of ulterior motives. One of which—heavily fortifying their border against invasion from India—is pretty understandable.

China has taken over North Korea but seems to have no interest in expanding its borders in the directions of Mongolia or Viet Nam.

A.U.F.E.P.

Most of Africa is trying to unite into a supernation like the European Union used to be; this fledgling organization calls itself A.U.F.E.P., or the African Union For Equitable Progress. The geographic and cultural diversity that Africa has always struggled with continue to challenge this movement, but a few African superheroes keep progress marching on. Africa sends many recruits to S.P.U.N., but otherwise can’t much overlook their internal challenges to participate in international politics.

Western Europe

The European Union has split in half along old lines, and the Western half just can’t be bothered by the Vord danger. Led by President Landry Archambault of the incumbent Dinaux Party, this region is supremely concerned with “protecting” themselves from supers. Superheroes and their powers are not welcome here.

"United" States

While not ruled by a Dark Lord or a draconian dictatorship, the United States is so politically polarized that it can’t get much done. Superheroes have a hard time doing anything that will please more than half the country.

Hawaii has successfully seceded from the USA.

Indonesia

Indonesia is probably the most peaceful part of Earth. Its national hero, Gloria, is probably the most powerful superhuman alive, after Dark Lord Gajasura. She has succeeded in protecting her nation from external superthreats, and inspired the people to mostly stomp out crime in their nation. Indonesia contributes more soldiers to S.P.U.N. than any other nation, but otherwise has an enviable reputation for tranquility.

Brazil

Like Russia (below), Brazil has seen significant superhero-led political revolution. It has been luckier than Russia about replacing its government with a better one rather than falling into anarchy. However, the main superhero who led Brazilian reforms saw her Bequest-granted powers decline as she used them, and has announced retirement.

Brazil is still trying to figure out its place in the world. Can it overcome internal challenges enough to emerge as a world leader in these troubled times? (The world is kind of looking for a leader-nation, with Greater India hostile to most of its neighbors, China relatively unfriendly too, the United States in a stalemate situation, and Indonesia and Western Europe somewhat isolationist.)

The Pacific Rim Treaty

South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines, led by Japan, work very closely these days to protect each other from invasion by China. This union is a leader in worldwide progress in the areas of robotics and cybernetics, and considers technology a safer means of self-defense than Supers. It is therefore a mildly hostile region towards Supers in general.

Russian Remnant

Shortly after the arrival of the Bequest Probe, superpowered terrorists succeeded in pretty much destroying the dictatorial “republic” based in Moscow. Chechnia, the rest of the Caucuses region, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and a host of other pieces of the Russian Federation took the opportunity to withdraw from the supernation. What’s left of Russia, called the Remnant ("Russki Ostatok" in Russian), is still mostly picking up its pieces and trying to find new leadership.

The Sultanate

As green-energy and nuclear energy technologies progressed and fossil fuels fell out of favor in the 2010s, much of the Middle East fell into a tough economic slump. Governments crumbled with a whimper rather than a bang. In the power vacuum that was left behind, a new theocracy—fortunately a relatively moderate one for a change—set itself up in Mecca, embracing its status as the capital of Islam and using that to spark a new economy and way of life. Consisting of most of the former Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Oman, and Kuwait, it is called the Sultanate. Riyadh and Baghdad remain large cities, but are distinctly lacking now in political clout.

Jordan

Other parts of the Middle East, by-the-by, although they went through tough economic times as well, in the long run were able to prosper more when they didn't have the USA, Russia, and other superpowers meddling in their borders and economics. Jordan has become a de facto leader-nation to dozens of fragment-countries that occupy the former lands of Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen.

Myanmar

Myanmar depends so completely on Thailand to protect it from Greater Indian invasion that it has effectively become a satellite nation of Thailand.

B.O.F.T.S.

Chile, Thailand, Ghana, Ukraine, and New Zealand have banded together to form a strange, non-contiguous treaty-organization calling itself the Beacons Of Friendship To Supers. Embracing the modern world's dependency on a small number of individuals, they have worked hard to cultivate positive relationships with well-intentioned supers.

Guatemala

Guatemala is an odd case: a place where a superhero has taken over and become a dictator, but mostly rules benevolently. Naming herself after Quetzalcoatl of ancient Mayan myth, she puts her nation in a category of its own in terms of how it deals with the modern world of superpowers.

Other Regions

The rest of the world (most of Latin America, most of Eastern Europe, the British Isles and Scandinavia, Iran, much of Southeast Asia, and Australia) are in sort of a mushy middle-situation, still trying to figure out their places in the modern world ...
Last edited by CaptainKaulu on Mon Aug 17, 2020 12:32 pm, edited 3 times in total.
CaptainKaulu
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Re: VordWarp: non-Crunch Discussion

Post by CaptainKaulu »

Other Important Earth Organizations

E.M.I.C.S. (pronounced "e-mix")

The Enhanced-Mafia International Cartel/Syndicate is perhaps the premier example of people ignoring the Vord threat: an organized crime network that has become global in scope. Why worry about some alien threat when the modern world of supers gives one so many opportunities to become wealthy and covertly powerful?

This is a very popular "destination" or affiliation for less-altruistic superpowered individuals.

Apex Wardens

Earth’s premier surface-based superhero team, the Apex Wardens are five powerful heroes who must balance their efforts between fighting Vord incursions, fighting crime, opposing Dark Lord Gajasura, and other heroic causes. They consider Gajasura their primary responsibility, however.

Lofwyr Cult

Based in Scandinavia, led by the Mythmancer, the Lofwyr Cult is a number of jumped-up super-cultists who believe that dragons are the answer to the world’s problems, including the Vord threat. The Mythmancer has already succeeded in shaping some unintelligent, small dragons into being; what else could he accomplish with the right resources? A being truly worthy of worship and rulership over mere humans? Maybe a human could even be promoted to dragondom!

Galway Pantheon

A few Mystic personifications of abstract concepts have made their way out of mystic dimensions to Earth. Though these powerful spirits can be interacted with like beings (e.g. through conversation), their motivations are alien and their demeanors extremely aloof. They thus remain neutral in most of Earth's conflicts.
CaptainKaulu
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Re: VordWarp: non-Crunch Discussion

Post by CaptainKaulu »

One of the main reasons I decided to start over or "re-boot" my work on VordWarp was to cut down dramatically on the number of heroes in the world, crowding out opportunities for the PCs of an actual series to be the heroes.

There are still a number of heroic figures in the setting:
  • The PL12 Apex Wardens still function as this world's equivalent of the Avengers or the Justice League. Figures for the PCs to be impressed by, admire, and perhaps even join if a series progresses that far. And a blanket explanation for why the world hasn't completely gone to pot with supervillains running around in abundance.
  • In outer space, the brave troops and drones of "Spoon" still oppose the Vord, led by the PL10 crew of the Starship Baluarte. Who I never really got around to statting up in my previous work anyway, so I'll be building them afresh. Oh, and they're still sponsored by the superhero-friendly Dr. Astro.
  • The U.S.A., Indonesia, and Guatemala are still lucky enough to have "national superheroes" protecting them who are pretty much on the Good side of morality.
  • Half of the Unite Africa League still exists (Sahara, Frungle, and Elephant Man), and are leaders of the admirable A.U.F.E.P. movement, but they don't really function as an active "superhero team" anymore, and their PL may drop below 10.
But a number of other "goodly" figures from my previous work have been cut (although I suppose theoretically, an actual PC in an actual playgroup could be modeled after their concepts), or turned more villainous, or drastically altered in some other way:
  • The Knights of the Swart Lair are gone. Dr. Dark has been cut; I'll probably take Feezh's concept and have him join the Baluarte; and Zvasha and Splice will be converted into Chinese Mercenaries. If a playgroup wants a semi-creepy team of superheroes who travel magically throughout Eastern Europe, they are welcome to make a team of PCs that fill that role.
  • The other half of the Unite Africa League is gone. Abuja had his name and part of his backstory absorbed by a Lieutenant of the Dark Lord in India. Jinx and Victoria just weren't concepts with a lot of traction, so they've been cut.
  • The Gulslayers are gone. If a playgroup wants a PL6 or PL7 team of counter-terrorists or other crime fighters who function despite being low-powered for the setting, they are welcome to make a team of PCs, Israeli or otherwise, that fill that role.
  • Aspect, the mightiest figure of Singapore, was formerly semi-sympathetic. Now, they are going to be converted into an outright villain, a high-level member of E.M.I.C.S. (This is partly because I've had more exposure to people's dislike of the Summon power as-written, so I'm trying to cut down on my use of it for protagonists. But for villains it's still fair game!)
  • Dejavu will be converted into a Chinese Mercenary, rather than a one-off random English superhero.
  • Hedgehog, the super-ish but bumbling Hungarian one-off character, may or may not still exist, but isn't much of a "hero" anyway.
  • Velarra Figgum will no longer be a superhero, but just a brilliant scientist/inventor in a Supporting NPC role.
  • I'll probably cut Kevlin the Devout entirely, as I don't see a reason for the setting to delve that far into real-world religion.
  • The Mythmancer was formerly a neutral figure; now he'll be converted into an outright villain, the leader of the Lofwyr Cult.
The Chinese Mercenaries Guild is an interesting case; they're ultimately supposed to be antagonists, but almost-neutral figures whom the PCs may work with temporarily for various missions. Therefore, I'll still be restricting myself to a PC-like Power Points budget for building them. Oh, and I'll do that with Aspect, too, just for the challenge of it.
CaptainKaulu
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Re: VordWarp: non-Crunch Discussion

Post by CaptainKaulu »

So, I've been informed that Hindi and Urdu are the same (spoken) language, just written with different writing systems.

That being the case, should they count as one language or two for a M&M character to learn? I might have some re-selecting languages to do for my Dark Lord and his lieutenants.
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Davies
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Re: VordWarp: non-Crunch Discussion

Post by Davies »

I think treating them as two is much more complicated than the very simple language rules of M&M can handle, and you should probably just treat them as a single language.
CaptainKaulu
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Re: VordWarp: non-Crunch Discussion

Post by CaptainKaulu »

I've also been informed that, in order to be the burgeoning maybe-world-leader I want in my setting, Brazil should have a major revolution in its recent history. Anyone have any suggestions for how a revolution should proceed in a Supers world?
CaptainKaulu
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Re: VordWarp: non-Crunch Discussion

Post by CaptainKaulu »

Image

I made a World Map for VordWarp. Highlighted borders show noteworthy powers or just nations that have changed significantly compared to IRL.
CaptainKaulu
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Re: VordWarp: non-Crunch Discussion

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I've started to work on the Galway Pantheon, the clan of god-spirits formed from Earth's Collective Unconscious, who are very powerful but very hard to convince to join a side in conflict. But I'm taking ideas about what their portfolios should be.

Their queen-goddess shall be a spirit of Knowledge. The second-most-powerful will be a spirit of Time.

I'm undecided about whether to make a powerful Spirit of Spirituality-Faith. Also whether an overall Spirit of Nature is too broad a portfolio to try to cram into one build. I will have spirits of aspects of nature, such as a Spirit of Fire/Combustion.

Other possible ideas include a Spirit of Truth (too hard to represent?), a Spirit of Technology (maybe grates against the "natural" feeling of the others?), a Spirit of Death, ...

Portfolios should be compatible with the overall neutrality of the Pantheon, with possible exceptions for purely-evil concepts that will always join the wrong side (Spirit of Cruelty?). So "Protection," for example, is too proactive a concept for this group, since it would be inherently motivated to join conflicts and sometimes be on the heroes' side.
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Re: VordWarp: non-Crunch Discussion

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(An interlude to be copied eventually into the Stat Block thread.)

Earth's "secondary" superhero team after the Apex Wardens, the crew of Starship Baluarte or "the Hammer of Humanity" are on full-time duty to patrol the Solar System and combat Vord expansion. Being technically a private endeavor, founded and funded by Dr. Astro, but often joining forces with S.P.U.N. against the Vord out of necessity, they are recognized as a sort of unofficial adjunct organization to S.P.U.N. Some of S.P.U.N. appreciates this relationship, while others decry that no good can come of departing from the traditional military command structure and that the Baluarte should be seized by S.P.U.N. and staffed with fully-integrated military personnel (whether those personnel were previously members of the "Hammer of Humanity" crew or not).

Note

One of the primary places I see an actual series of M&M possibly happening in VordWarp is in the case where Dr. Astro launches a second "sister ship" to the Baluarte, crewed by the PCs. Not having had the same chances to prove themselves already, this new crew would have a more adversarial relationship with S.P.U.N.
CaptainKaulu
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Re: VordWarp: non-Crunch Discussion

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I've been enjoying pondering VordWarp enough that, despite myself, I'm thinking of running an actual series in it. Going back on my promise to one of my current D&D groups to run D&D for them after our current campaign finishes, and offering them this instead.

Just an idea at this point (that wouldn't come to fruition for a few months anyway). It might be a hard sell to get them to try a new system, and to give up on their characters that some of them had planned for my D&D campaign, and I'd have to prepare to run M&M in Foundry VTT (which I want to use). But I just have SO MANY ideas about this setting ...
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