Saturday, July 24, 2010

Justice League After Earth: Not my idea, but I like it!

From time to time I'll peruse and their forums there (like every other day, alright?), and I came across this fantastic campaign concept/setting riff as an alternate setting for the upcoming DC Adventures game (or Icons or Savage Worlds Supers, etc.).

The basic premise is that the Manhunters, the original - and failed - attempt from the Guardians to form an intergalactic police force have found god. A machine god. The first tenant of their god is this: "all who live are guilty." The second tenant is thus "all who are guilty deserve death."  The robotic race of Manhunters, millions strong and each as powerful as Hal Jordan or Clark Kent, have started a jihad against all those living across the universe.

The End is the Beginning.

The Manhunters' opening salvo was as devastating as it was complete. A blink bomb set off in the Earth's core. Their mission was simple: destroy the birthplace of all life. The revelation of the Entity of white light during Blackest Night awoke the Manhunters to their mission. There were hours to prepare for Earth's utter destruction. Billions died and in a blink of an eye, the human race became an endangered species. Lex Luthor, billionaire industrialist and sometimes super-criminal gathered all he could amongst the richest and most influential of his friends. Other, lesser moguls had also been preparing for what could only be inevitable with all the meta-human activity always circling the planet: the destruction of Earth.

Lexcorp was of course the best chance for escape with its several large eco-cruisers, but there were other options and not just the rich made it off the planet. There were several other, smaller ships prepared and launched before Earth was no more including the super intellects of S.T.A.R. labs and the creative and innovative masterminds behind Wayne Enterprises.

Humanity, Refugee

Where Luthor usurped power and elected himself president of humanity, it appears the billionaire eccentric owner of Waynetech, Bruce Wayne, was lost in the cataclysm. Dr. Leo Quintum of S.T.A.R. along with Amanda Waller are the only civic opponents to Luthor's otherwise unopposed rule. Waller is doing her best to rebuild the covert operation Checkmate, but any ear could be bent Luthor's way, and the rebuilding of her Suicide Squad, now with more meaning than ever, is slow-going.

The largest minority population amongst the human survivors is that of the meta-human. Apart from their inherent value in an dangerous universe, many of them were able to escape on their own accord without any assistance or reliance on some corporate bigwig or out-of-touch scientist. The large population of super-powered individuals has given the great galactic empires cause for concern as the humans work to find a new home. Of course not all those who survived did it by escaping Earth. Rumors run rampant across the fleet of bands of heroes escaping in time or across the multi-verse. These rumors have yet to see any evidence to prove them true. Of course everyone believes S.T.A.R. is working on it.

General Kent and The Batman

Where Luthor took control of the civilians, General Kent was chosen to lead their defenses. An orphan of two worlds now, Clark Kent, formerly Superman, is no longer alone. Both more accessible and yet more distant from his adopted race than ever before, he was almost unanimously chosen to lead the fleet's defense force, unofficially named the "Justice League of Earth" or simply "JLE." He no longer had anything to hide or protect with a secret identity, and so dropped the persona of Superman. He abandoned the name Jor-El as well out of respect for Earth. Few realize that the mighty General Kent's power is shrinking every day as they travel further and further from Earth's yellow sun. Few, but President Luthor is among them.

And then there's the rumor of the Batman. It started simply enough - one of the S.T.AR. scientists believed they saw a cloaked creature escaping out a duct in her lab aboard the tiny S.T.A.R. adventurer Solar. The Solar has less than 10 scientists and crew combined. An alarm was set off and the ship thoroughly searched, but the creature was never found. Word got out and soon enough there were reported sitings of the Batman aboard every ship of the fleet. President Luthor has since proclaimed the Batman as a terrorist trying to finish the job the Manhunters started. General Kent denies any knowledge of his former ally's survival of the cataclysm or presence in the fleet. The rumors of conspiracy have led many to believe that President Luthor is wrong; it's not the work of the Batman but the Batmen.

The War and the Corps.

Of course the destruction of Earth and the attack of the Manhunters has a much larger impact than that of the imminent extinction of the Human race. Much like the Blackest Night and Black Lanterns before them, the Manhunters want to exterminate all life in the universe. This time, however, there is no silver bullet. This is real war, and it will only be won through fighting and destroying your enemy. No longer depending on each other to destroy the threat, the different corps. no longer have a truce. Battles break out at the drop of a hat in any given sector of the galaxy. The Indigo Tribe, Blue, and Green Lanterns have aligned themselves while each other corps. has their own agenda. The Manhunters seem to focus on hunting and battling the Green Lanterns first and foremost.

There are two Green Lanterns assigned to protect the Human fleet: Kyle Raynor and John Stewart. Although they respect General Kent's law, they disregard anything President Luthor orders. As a result there is an uneasy conflict of jurisdiction, and Luthor is doing everything he can to build mistrust amongst the people of the fleet for their protectors. Elsewhere, Lanterns are dying by the hundreds in their war against the Manhunters.

The Atom

Ray Palmer lives. This is the message you'll see scrawled on bulkheads, in the back of Bibles, and passed as a note from believer to believer. Better known as the Atom, a new religion is bubbling up after it was leaked (some claim intentionally) from S.T.A.R. labs that it was possible for the Atom to have shrunk himself smaller than ever before and ride out of the cataclysmic wave of the blink bomb in the essence of the Entity - the one true light of the universe that began all life. Many believe the fleet is going the wrong way and should be rushing back to the remains of Earth to find him. They believe that, if they can find him in time, he can grow the spark of the Entity back with him and bring new life to Earth, and just maybe, their loved ones. That is of course, if Luthor and General Kent would just agree to turn back.

That's all I have for now, but damn do I want to play in this setting! It's wide open for any meta-human to have lived, and I think it's chock full of mystery and adventure. Clearly there's some Battlestar Galactica influences here. One suggestion on that thread is to include human look-alike Manhunters in the fleet sabotaging any future efforts to rehabilitate the human race. I like it, but I didn't want to take BSG's lead word-for-word. I love the idea that the human fleet is basically a powder keg of super-humans just waiting to explode on the next empire they come across.

I'll admit that I'm not as familiar with DC as I am Marvel, so I know there's a lot of room to expand here. For example, which, if any, supervillains would Luthor had smuggled aboard his ships? Which other superhumans can survive on their own in space and may have formed a small group, leaving humanity behind forever (or not forever, just for now)? There's a lot of potential here, and I would gladly take anyone else's suggestions to expand the setting!

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