Hi guys, Simon here again.
As some of you might already know, I've been developing a superhero RPG for several years, set in an AltReality I call "The Landmark Universe". At the moment, I'm working on a story arc addressing the "unexplained" disappearance of superheroes after the War. The working title is The Sanction
and examines the meteoric rise and fall of golden age superheroes.
As most of us old comics guys are already aware, the superhero genre experienced a sudden explosion between 1938 and 1945, then practically died out between 1946 and the early 50s. The Sanction
examines the reason for this decline, inferring a high-level government conspiracy followed by a bureaucratic cover up. Here's my take on the subject:
Way back in the mid-thirties, when the shadow of war was looming across Europe, the American military began conducting scientific experiments aimed at enhancing natural human abilities to create the perfect soldier. The "Super-Patriot
" project sought to transform ordinary men and women into superhumans via chemicals therapy and exotic energy sources.
Originally code-named Operation Eagle
, the Super-Patriot project achieved a significant rate of success. Contemporary records estimated that over 70 percent of military test subjects were endowed with 'transhuman' powers and endurance, giving rise to the first generation of "costumed heroes".
Variants of the original formula were simultaneously developed by the private sector, ostensibly to provide the home front with a virtually indestructible National Guard in the event that the Axis attempted to invade American soil.
These variant formulas were administered to civilian volunteers; mainly police officers, state troopers and similar law enforcement officials. Although the programs were classified top secret, it is known that at least seven hundred experiments were performed across the United States between 1938 and 1941.
The result was a proliferation of 'Chemical Warriors' entering the war effort as special operatives. Others remained behind to protect the home front from spies and saboteurs, frequently dubbed 'Mystery Men' by the local press. Although most were required to work undercover, a small number were allowed to make headlines in order to raise morale. Judging by the propaganda of the period, Operation Eagle
was an unqualified PR triumph, at least in the eyes of the American public.
Unfortunately, it was later discovered that the variant formulas had unexpected (and frequently tragic) side effects. Test subjects often experienced increasing levels of paranoia, lapsing into extreme violence and insanity within four to five years. This wasn't a major issue during the war, as their rage could be directed towards the enemy, and most of the super-patriots worked solo missions behind enemy lines.
However, this mental instability caused serious problems after the war, as most of these "superheroes" could not be safely reintegrated into the civilian population. The less powerful ones were institutionalized in secure facilities, where they usually died within a few years, but the more dangerous renegades had to be hunted down and euthanized to protect the public. The affair was covered up in the interests of 'national security', and all knowledge of Operation Eagle
was buried in classified documentation by 1951.
It was during this time that costumed vigilantes seemed to vanish from the headlines, as all of them had been marked for termination - even those who had no connection with the Super-Patriot Program. The government was taking no risks - unauthorized versions of the serum had been synthesized, and anyone wearing a costume could be a potential 'loose cannon'. Many former heroes disappeared during The Purge
, betrayed by the country they'd fought to protect only a few years before.
Only a handful of super-patriots managed to survive; a small enclave of vigilantes who had gone underground in the late 40s. Unlike their dangerously unstable comrades, this group had suffered no psychological damage, retaining both their powers and their sanity. Being highly intelligent and superhumanly powerful, they managed evade their trackers during The Purge
, adopting new identities and blending into the general population (as they'd been trained to do during the war).
However, with the advent of the Cold War, the last of the Super-Patriots find themselves on the run once more. The Soviets had started producing their own 'Chemical Warriors', and they wanted to analyze the source of the variant formula.
The survivors were now forced to defend themselves against a vicious two-pronged attack: the US Government wanted them dead and the Soviets want them alive ... and only time could tell who would survive The Sanction
Well, that's my pitch, guys. The storyline's still under development, so feel free to offer ideas and suggestions. Although I'm planning to employ some of my OCs in the main cast, I'm also open to using PD characters as well. If you're interested in nominating a particular superhero to play a main or supporting role, don't hesitate to state your preference. Hope this message wasn't TL;DR, all comments & feedback would be most welcome.