The Game World
answered by Jonathan McDermott
What does "Morning Rain" mean? Why is it the name of your game?
"Morning Rain" refers to that day, about two months ago in the game-verse, where in the early morning hours it rained everywhere. The larger the population density, the more rain, though usually it was just light showers. In some places of the world where there had been severe drought, some clouds formed but no rain fell. On that day, the incidence of natural disasters -- fires, floods, famines, El Niño / La Niña -- began to increase sharply. It is also believed on that day the transhumans began to manifest their powers. Most authorities refer to the Morning Rain as the "Transhuman Incidence Event."
Who are the transhumans?
The transhumans are normal people who have been somehow gifted with powers and abilities beyond that of normal-humans. All transhumans were gifted with their powers at the same time, two months ago during the Morning Rain.
Who are the hunters?
The hunters are a variety of agents from government and corporate interests. Their mission is to take into custody any transhumans they may find, for scientific study. Please note that as of yet there is NO evidence of malfeasance on the part of the hunters or those that work for them. They are agents of people who are desperately trying to understand the transhumans and their possible link with the increase of natural disasters, and in their desperation have taken to quasi-legal measures -- namely the ignoring of certain basic civil liberties on the part of the transhumans. They are not necessarily evil. They are, however, not a transhuman's friend, and so far no transhuman taken into their custody has been released.
How has society reacted to the rise of the transhumans?
In general, most of the world's leaders are being cautious. No major media corporation has attempted to damn or praise the transhumans as a whole. Authorities and politicians are trying not to make a hard and fast decision regarding the transhumans. Instead they're waiting for any confirmed connection between the transhumans and the increasing natural disasters -- this despite the fact many transhumans have attempted to prevent those disasters, or protect normal humans from their effects.
The fact remains that some of the transhumans out there are less than scrupulous, and are using their powers to their advantage. Some spectacular transhuman-caused incidents get quite a bit of press, but this is balanced, usually, by many of these maleficent transhumans being opposed by beneficent counterparts.
The people of the world are more than willing to give transhumans the chance to prove themselves. They are essentially waiting to see what direction the transhumans themselves will go in as a whole. The players' actions will contribute greatly and directly to this.
Why are there no massive battles between transhumans?
For about a week after the Morning Rain things were quiet, except for the incidences of natural disasters. After that week there was the first recorded incident of a transhuman crime being committed. A transhuman used some sort of geodetic shock, which caused an armored payroll car to topple and roll. What wasn't so well known was the incident where someone used a similar ability to divert a tributary of the Nile to irrigate land in Africa which hadn't seen water for the last three hundred years. In both cases authorities tried to find the transhumans responsible, but failed.
Not long after came the first high-level, transhuman-related crime. A bank robber used some sort of force blast to try to blow open a bank vault during a well-planned robbery. He apparently failed in this endeavor but fled the scene, evading the LAPD and the SWAT team sent after him, smashing their armored cars, and hiding in an abandoned warehouse. He would have successfully escaped but that SWAT teams "officially" overwhelmed him in the warehouse. Not-so-official sources claim at one point in the fight he was suddenly sent flying against a wall and pinned there for five seconds. Those same sources say that it was surely his power backfiring on him.
Another transhuman also used cryokinesis to stop the lava flow of an erupting volcano from wiping out a rather large Polynesian town. Unlike the fellow who was flattened in LA, he went with authorities peaceably. Reports about what doctors are learning from him have by now reached the seventh page of newspapers.
After those couple of weeks of really blatant uses of powers, and the capture (or neutralizing, for the ones who fought to the last) or voluntary acquiescing of those transhumans involved, the reports of transhuman activity have continued unabated -- just at a lower level. The incidents are still making the papers, and everything in the tabloids is no longer looked at oddly, but there aren't people lifting buildings or making off with entire 18-wheelers in airborne chases.
Certainly, the rise of the hunters has made the transhumans extremely cautious. There's talk that a lot of the transhumans have gone to ground, forming support groups and little secret communities, keeping each other ahead of the hunters -- a sort of transhuman underground. Some want recognition as protectors and helpers of humanity, others are pretty clearly predators of that humanity. Some just want to be left alone. Some just want to forget they were ever given whatever it is they have.
How did the September 11th attacks affect the game world?
The Morning Rain took place in March 2001. The September 11th attacks will not happen in this game. I have no wish to place that emotional baggage upon myself or the players of this game.
Can transhumans take over a country?
It's entirely possible. A team of transhumans with suitable powers could probably take over a small nation like Morocco with little trouble. The problem is this would make Morocco's neighbors very, very nervous, and most Western nations would use the precedent of the Gulf War to come in and kick out the transhumans.
A small country the transhumans could handle. They could even survive comfortably in a large, developed nation, if they're careful. In a stand-up fight, PCs would probably be able to walk into a room of local toughs and walk out... alone. They could probably take out a platoon of soldiers with wits, cunning, and creative use of their powers. They cannot take on the NYPD SWAT, the 101st Airborne, a couple of SEAL teams, and a pack of rabid wolverines, all at the same time.
What are some examples of transhuman-related news stories?
Examples of what's been in the news: Yesterday in Los Angeles, gang war threatened to flare into a battle that would take out whole neighborhoods... but by noon it was just over. No official reason was given -- the Bloods and Crips wouldn't talk about it. Some said, however, that a group of transhumans made it clear neither gang could hurt them, took the leaders and their lieutenants to an isolated area, and after one part arm-twisting, one part impassioned speech... and three parts something that nobody wants to talk about... a 'cease-fire' was signed.
Two weeks ago, after the dismissal of a suspicious phone call to the Hawaiian State government which demanded the payment of three hundred million in gold 'or else,' one of the dormant volcanoes started to become active. Rumor has it that someone -- a young woman -- went out to the volcano alone, and for an hour there were the sounds of a titanic fight from within the volcano. The volcano then eased back into dormancy, and when 'the authorities' showed up to investigate there was no sign of the woman or, apparently, the transhuman who had demanded payment. This was chalked up to a wanna-be transhuman super-villain.
Similar incidents are in the news, usually on the second or third page, sometimes so important or local as to be on the first. There's a disaster of some kind, or a malevolent transhuman raising Cain, followed by mention of other presumed transhumans showing up -- and the situation gets resolved. Sometimes the beneficent transhumans stick around; sometimes they don't. Sometimes the bad guy wins; sometimes the bad guy gets pummeled into plaster of paris. More often than not, the authorities can't find anyone, and all they are left with is evidence of spectacular things.
What are the goals of the game? What will the players do?
The primary goal is the advancement of transhuman reputation. Right now the world is in flux as to how to feel about transhumans. With the actions of the characters, transhumans can be seen as a force for good or as something more malevolent. It's entirely dependent upon the characters' actions. An improved reputation will also result in the hunters not being able to take the transhumans into custody as easily. Thus, characters will have to balance the risks of being spotted by the hunters with doing good work in public.
Another goal, which I'm sure is on each character's mind, is discovering why they were given these exceptional powers.
Third, the transhuman underground is anything but united. Currently it's a network of independent groups. Some are competent, some aren't. The transhumans will eventually need to be united for mutual support if the hunters don't stop hunting. If a positive reputation is gained for the transhumans, many believe that the hunters will no longer be able to trample over the human rights and civil liberties of transhumans, and the transhumans will be able to organize more overtly.
How long will the game run?
Morning Rain is meant to be a "short" game, i.e. only a few months long. After a few months there will be a suitable closure point, and the game will end. However, if the players and the GM wish, the game can continue. There are many more facets to the game world, which can be brought into play for the characters to experience.
Where is the setting for the game?
The game will be set in New York City and surrounding environs. This makes things easy, for the most part, since I live in New York City. NYC subway maps will serve very nicely.
How can the players avoid the hunters?
With their wits, skills, and creative use of their powers, player characters will be able to stay several steps ahead of the hunters. However, if they use their powers, that will also bring them to the attention of the hunters. More blatant power use (with more witnesses) will attract the attention of the hunters even more, even if what the character did was beneficent.
Remember, the hunters are looking for all transhumans. They will request that any transhuman they encounter and identify come with them quietly and peaceably. Villainous transhumans tend to resist violently, at which point capture is moot. Some transhumans have managed to escape the hunters by changing their identity and never using their powers again. Quite a few tend to use their powers more and more, however, in desperate attempts to evade the hunters or to follow their conscience (for good or for bad), or even to just survive. These are the ones who are eventually taken into custody.
There are no rumors that some transhumans are working for the hunters, but it's likely only a matter of time before such rumors crop up, true or false.
I've got Bill Gates' credit card and I'm in God's Own Mall. What will my character need to buy for this game? What equipment should I stock up on?
I leave it to the players as to how they play their transhumans,. If your character would be carrying around a gun routinely, that's your choice. What I RECOMMEND, though, and what just about every member of the transhuman undergrounds will recommend, is the subtle approach: stuff you can carry with you and not arouse suspicions.
You won't necessarily be stopped in the streets by suspicious cops, and there's no way to tell, just by looking or with any sorts of known sensors, if a person is a transhuman, unless you've made yourself known to the hunters and they know your name and face. You will be in an urban metropolis, at least at the start. You could get away with small arms if you somehow had the right permits. You could get away with odds and ends that aren't immediately identifiable to a beat cop as quasi-legal tools of the trade.
Aside from social and political RP -- for which in some cases you'll need no odder tools than your wits, personalities, and good clothes -- your opponents will generally be of two categories: normal-human hunters, and other transhumans who may or may not be hunters -- nobody's confirmed yet if any transhumans are working with the hunters.
At various times you may need to do some quasi-legal or outright illegal things. There won't be any single way to do something or achieve a goal. Whether you pursue that goal legally, quasi-legally, or illegally is up to the scruples of your character, but you'll need the tools of the trade either way.
What system will you be using?
We'll be using Hero System Rules (HSR) 4, found in Champions Deluxe, also known as the Big Blue Book. This is because there is a lot of support for HSR4 on Reality Fault, in terms of people who know it and pre-made resources. Don't worry, the system isn't hard to get the hang of.
What is the power level of the game? How many character points will we have to spend?
This is a standard superhero game, so you will be getting 100 character points, plus you may gain another 150 points from disadvantages. My thought was to not mess with a known good thing.
What kind of characters will you allow?
Just about any kind. However, I will disallow "gadget heroes" and "suit heroes" that are similar to, for example, Batman, Iron Man, or Mantis. The Morning Rain did not create gizmos out of thin air -- it altered people. While some people undoubtedly gained the savant-like abilities needed for advanced "gadget" engineering, it has only been two months since the Morning Rain. It would take several years at least to develop the gadgets that would be needed, and to go through the personal training regimen that would allow a gadget hero to go toe-to-toe against a transhuman. It is also possible to have a character whose powers focus on interacting with certain types of machines, such as computer empathy, but not specific machines or gadgets. Maybe in a later Morning Rain campaign, but for now, no gadget heroes.
Are there any powers you will not allow?
Yes, several. FTL Flight and Multiform will not be permitted. In addition, powers which put the character into some sort of parallel dimension will not be permitted. In theory you could choose powers that are extremely powerful, making entire city blocks disappear with or without an accompanying BOOM. However, as noted above, blatant power use will come to the attention of the hunters more quickly.
How will character generation be handled?
Once the players and the GM agree upon a day of the week to meet regularly, I will work with them to develop their characters. What I would like to do is run a number of "pre-game" adventures between the various characters -- first in singles, followed by pairs -- to help develop the characters and introduce them to one another. There will be one game or "chapter" involving the entire group before the campaign proper, to help fuse them into an actual team before things really hit the fan.
As time goes by, do more transhumans appear? Do any transhumans get additional powers?
There are two answers to this question:In-Character: There is the occasional "post-Rain" or "post-TIE" transhuman emergence. Sometimes a small group of people will seemingly spontaneously become transhumans for no apparent reason; it's not even necessarily raining where they are. There is as yet no evidence of transhumans growing in powers that they have. It has still been only two months since the Morning Rain, though. Out-of-Character: Additional powers may be gained, but to say how would reveal far too much of the background that needs to be discovered by the players. Suffice to say it will not be at all easy or frequent. Players should generate their characters with this in mind, with the caveat that, as noted elsewhere, I am aiming for a game where the players' success relies upon the use of their skills as well as creative use of their powers.
23 January 2002 Rev. A
Last modified: 2002-Apr-05 19:15:34
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