Industrial Evolution

A Champions / Hero System Game by Jason Larke and Jill Pritts

The Setting

Character Creation Guidelines

Player Characters

The Setting

Industrial Evolution is set in an alternate Ann Arbor, sometime in 2003. (When the game starts, the calendar date will match the date of the first session.)

The game world diverged from our world back in World War II. In our world, biological weapons played only a very minor role in WWII. In the game world, Germany had biological weapons geniuses just like it had rocket geniuses. The fruits of their labor were used extensively on the Eastern Front, leading to mass depopulation of Eastern Europe. As with the rocket program, the USSR and USA raced to get the best experts out of Germany and incorporate them into their own programs.

Due to the huge number of casualties caused by bioweapons during WWII, the USSR was unable to threaten the USA in the hard sciences. They were too busy rebuilding from the war to plausibly attack NATO in a conventional fashion. However, the paranoia and dislike between East and West was real, and the USSR was always searching for a weapon that could give them parity. If they could achieve a commanding lead in bioweapon technology, they could remove the threat of NATO while taking only minimal losses themselves.

As a result, bioweapons research was a crucial part of the USA-USSR arms race from the 1950s right up to the fall of the USSR in the early 1990s. Now the fear is that terrorists will gain biological weapon capabilities.

During the early 1970s, during a period of detente between the superpowers, the existence of superheroes on both sides of the Iron Curtain was acknowledged. The first few reports in the late 1960s were dismissed as myths, of course, but my 1973 there were over one hundred people worldwide with various powers that could not be explained by science. Several went to work for their governments, adding a new aspect to the cold war and contributing to renewed tensions in the early 1980s. Despite attempts to do so, however, no government was able to create its own superhumans or gain control of the superhuman element in its population. Nobody could find any link between superhuman powers and diet, location, race, or any other factor. While such research continues to this day, it is generally accepted that they are simply beyond our ability to understand with our current science.

A company called Consolidated MicroBiology (CMB) gets over 40% of federal contracts and research grants in the areas of bioweapons, virology, and studies of the possible source(s) of superhuman abilities. Ann Arbor hosts one of their largest R&D facilities, as well as a small manufacturing and distribution center. The CMB installation on the north side of Ann Arbor is virtually a small city, with over 10,000 employees on the corporate campus.

In the last few years, terrorists hostile to CMB have practically besieged their Ann Arbor facility. Some of those terrorists have superpowers and/or technology far beyond that available to law enforcement. The FBI and DoD eventually admitted that they could not guarantee 100% physical security for the site. At that point, CMB pressured the Michigan state government into providing incentives for superheroes to relocate to Ann Arbor and assist the police, FBI, and DoD.

Officially, the city and state police both offer deputization programs for citizens with "useful abilities". Unofficially, the Governor's office has put a lot of pressure on the police and prosecutors not to interfere with civilian vigilantes whose actions clearly benefit the general public.

Some law enforcment officials refuse to accept those suggestions, and the relationship between the police and the superheroic community can become very tense. Nonetheless, the volatility of the situation, the importance of CMB to the nation's defense, and the possibility of living in a community that (for the most part) actively welcomes their help have drawn many superheroes to Ann Arbor.

On balance, the game world is roughly as good as our own. On the plus side, the economy is somewhat better, due to much lower military spending throughout the cold war. Health care is also better, having benefitted significantly from bioweapons and biodefense research. On the down side, due to awareness of the threat of bioterrorism, the right to privacy has been eroded somewhat, and laws have been passed giving the government sweeping and arguably draconian powers to deal with emergency situations resulting from biological attack.

Campaign Rules

Jason and Jill will run this game using the Hero System from Hero Games. The game will be run in a semi-diceless manner. Players will create their characters by describing them to the GMs. The GMs will make the characters fit in with the rules of the game, arbitrate combat, and roll all the dice. The intention is to create the feel of a diceless game while preserving the coherency and unpredictability of a diceful game.

A few guidelines for thinking about your character:

A few notes about the Hero System:



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