Included below are the News files covered in the Theme category.
The New America
The first wave of strange stories began shortly after the American Civil War. First there were assorted reports of masked men and vigilantes, some exhibiting abilities far greater than those of normal men. While these testimonies were never fully confirmed, they quickly became the thing of rumor and legend. Cheap dime store novels were sold and folk songs about the heroes of the New America, especially of the West, defined the culture of the time. Some argued that in the new light of Darwin's revolution, perhaps these masked men were the next step in human's evolution. And yet, all of this paled in comparison to the startling discoveries of cities, sprawling metropolises that had never been there before.
First it was Gotham. Then came Metropolis, Coast City and countless others, each with their own families, histories and industries. All of these locations seemed strange, unfamiliar. And yet nearly everyone recalled vague memories of hearing about them at one time or another. Some could even name family that lived there. It wasn't until the 1900 census, when the population of the country was one-third higher than anyone anticipated that serious concern occurred. Something had definitely changed, but no one knew what it could possibly be.
The Golden Age
Countries and colleges across the world funded investigations into what was formally referred to as the "Peculiar Situation." While little was discovered about the causes of the sudden increase on population and appearance of strange new cities and countries, an age of great communication among scientists and other great thinkers created an age of industrial and scientific growth that never had been seen before. Advances in communication, transportation and weaponry created a sense of wonder and excitement. Unfortunately, these advances couldn't stop the oldest and ugliest forces of humanity; soon the world found itself in what would be come to be known as the Great War, with nearly every European nation engaged in bloody war.
Between the first World War and the outbreak of the deadly Spanish Flu, the greatest minds of the new world had their hands full for nearly twenty years. However, by the time that the Axis of Evil of Germany, Italy and Latveria threatened Europe, a new initiative was begun: using the knowledge gained in the past three decades to create post-human soldiers. Some attempts were more successful than others; the most famous were the "super soldier and Nazi smasher" Captain America and the valiant Justice Society of America, who focused their efforts on an anxious domestic front. In addition to the officially sanctioned government projects, several more vigilantes emerged, protecting their own cities. Years later, this would be referred to the as the "Golden Age", when heroes were valiant and villains were clearly personified evil.
After the War
While eventually the Allies won the war, the heroes who became icons of the conflict slowly faded away. Some, like Captain America, were assumed causalities of the war; others merely disappeared while some tried to use their fame to enter politics or entertainment with varying degrees of success. Before long, though, the glory of the 40s gave way to the uniformity of the 50s, and then to the anxiety of the 60s. While a few spare reports of vigilantes with astonishing powers circulated from time to time, the Golden Age was more and more a fuzzy memory.
Of course, the waves of strange occurrences never went away even if the heroes of the War did. More and more people found that their children were being born naturally with amazing abilities. First these stories were dismissed as nothing more than hoaxes and wild speculation, but by 1972, the number of supposed 'Mutant' births was too high to ignore. Almost immediately, there was a public outcry, some going as far to argue that this was a clear evidence of the end times. For a while, there was no known cause, just mass confusion and fear.
It wasn't until 1987 that a legitimate breakthrough in the question of what causes mutant came out. Based on research headed by Scottish geneticist Moira McTaggert, the answer came down to a newly discovered gene referred to as the X-factor gene. While McTaggert's discovery offered a much-needed explanation for the previously unexplained phenomenon, it raised a new set of questions. Namely, people began to ask if this change was genetic, just how long would be before these traits would no longer be a strange minority, but the actual majority?
While more research continued to look into possible dates for an eclipse of mutants to traditional homo sapiens, legislation began to be suggested to offer controls of the mutant population. Ranging from registration, stricter punishments for mutant criminals or even something as extreme as enforced birth quotas, a large political battle began between pro- and anti-mutant rights lobbies. The term metahuman is developed to distinguish those with extraordinary abilities from unnatural occurrences instead of an active X-Factor gene. Mutant rights quickly becomes the leading political issue in both America and around the world up through the 1990s, with some lobbies even claiming that the American government was running clandestine organizations to test and brainwash mutants as living weapons. All such claims have been roundly denied by any government official.
Two important things accorded around the turn of the 21st century. First, the first truly successful "superhero" since WWII emerged in the man known as the Great Machine. Initially regarded as a public menace and little more than a lunatic, the Machine's ability to talk to mechanical constructs and dedication to protecting the citizens of New York quickly garnered him massive public favor. And other heroes around the country were soon to follow, in colorful or dark costumes, dedicating themselves to singular cities, to large social causes or to unit in an effort to protect the world from the dangers too great for just one hero. Before long, vigilante justice became widely accepted and occasionally endorsed across the country. In 2008, the Great Machine won the office of the President of the United States in his civilian identity of Mitchell Hundred, and helped charter the first openly government mandated superhero group, the Justice League of America. While public support for super powered crime fighters was relatively high, how the public felt about people with extraordinary powers was still mixed and tense. Mutant advocacy groups have seen higher and higher tension and opposition from organizations like the Friends of Humanity, and reports of mutant lynchings are not uncommon. While some groups have pleaded for Hundred to do more about this ongoing problem, the biggest advocacy of the mutant community so far is the organization known as the X-Men. Little is known about them publicly for now, and opinion differs among the populace, depending on one's opinion of mutant rights.
We Are Not Alone
The second revelation to ring in the new millennium was the fact that Earth wasn't the only intelligent life in the universe. More shockingly, life had actually been living on Earth for decades, observing a completely unaware humanity. This led to a wealth of information regarding both the physical size of the populated universe and the structure of the intergalactic government. While Earth had been labeled a 'safe zone' due to relatively slow intergalactic technology, it was deemed worthy of receiving its own Green Lantern, an intergalactic peacekeeper assigned to protect Earth from threats both domestic and alien. As a new decade dawns, the future seems uncertain. The nation is divided on the presidency of Hundred, some labeling him a hero of reconciliation and others decrying him as a traitor to his species. Anti-Mutant sentiment has joined Anti-Alien and general Anti-Meta groups, waxing sentimental for the days of normalcy. And with the revelation that not just cities and nations, but entire planets appeared in the blink of an eye over 100 years ago, a new passion for discovering the reasons for the Peculiar Situation has ignited. And if things weren't tense enough already, the regularity of unexplainable phenomenon has been skyrocketing over the past year.
Universe Unlimited is a mix-theme superhero MUX for both DC and Marvel comics. By the very nature of this game, we are not beholden to any particular version of the DC or Marvel Universe. That said, we have an officially unofficial preference for characters resembling their main comic universe counterparts. While this doesn't necessarily mean that character backgrounds include the entire minutiae of their in-comic history, they should reflect the general point that the comics have currently reached.
As you may have noticed, we prefer the current comic interpretations, but we don't require that you use that version; both DC and Marvel have plenty of variant versions that are perfectly compatible with this game thematically. There are films, TV shows and certain alternative comic book universes (think Ultimate and All-Star lines) that certainly work as possible inspirations. If you're using one of these versions, please let us know in the "NOTE" line of your submitted application. On a case-by-case basis, we will consider adapted versions of existing FCs not strictly based on any previous version, but consider this a heavily restricted concept. The character would still need to reasonably resemble the character as protrayed before.
Examples of Different Acceptable Canons
Here are three different acceptable versions of the same character:
- Spider-Man is an adult male who has an established career as a superhero with an extensive rogues gallery. World known superhero. (616 version; first preference)
- Spider-Man is a young adult, currently enrolled in college and about four years of heroing. He primarily deals with mobsters and other every-day crooks and occasionally battles with major super-villains. He has a moderate amount of renown, especially in New York. (Spider-Man film series)
- Spider-Man is a high school student that is currently just beginning his career as a superhero, mostly tangling with super powered enforcers for mob organizations. He is fairly famous in New York City, but moderately obscure elsewhere. (Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon series.)
Despite being a seemingly narrow genre, there is quite a wide variety in tone when it comes to superhero stories. Sometimes they are flashy battles between good and evil in bright colored costumes punctuated by Michael Bayian explosions. Sometimes they are dark, somewhat disturbing character dramas that explore the human psyche. Occasionally they might delve into soap opera-worth melodrama, and occasionally they can be played for light-hearted, self-aware comedy. So the million dollar question is, what kind of superhero story takes place on Universe Unlimited? The answer: all of them.
While the core conceit of the Staff-run global TPs can be vaguely described as "sci-fi mystery," the actual tone of your play here is largely decided by the players you scene with. While each different district has its own general mood (see NEWS LOCATIONS) and we'd like to see things remain, for lack of a better word, "fun," we aren't going to tell you the players what kind of stories you can tell. If you want tense, suspenseful horror, have at it; if you want to have high adventure, please do. One of the great freedoms of superhero stories is that there is room for multiple moods and interpretations. As long as everyone involved is having a good time, then we can't see any reason to stop that.
A few words on the kind of content to expect ratings wise on Universe Unlimited, both In Character and Out of Character:
The base-line rating for UU scenes and plots is a high-level PG-13, somewhere around the violence and language expected in movies like Dark Knight. Of course, certain plots might push beyond that boundary into more R-rated level of violence and adult themes, but those will be few and far between as well as clearly designated as more "Mature". This for the mostly refers just to violence and scenarios, however; explicit sexual content will not be included as part of a Global TP, and should always be kept private. Characters also will have a declared rating as part of their +finger; scenes should defer to the LOWEST rating of any character involved, and if anything might exceed that characters rating, players are asked to communicate about everyone's comfort with possible outcomes before posing them.
Public OOC areas like the Lounge and channels are also considered to have a hard PG-13 rating, with occasional adult language and playful innuendo permitted to a degree. If someone starts cursing like a sailor or starts to speak in graphic detail, they might be asked to please stop by either Staff or other players. Players are expected to refrain from being vulgar whenever possible. People usually know where the line is and if they have crossed it, but sometimes someone might get carried away. As long as they stop when asked to, then everything should be copacetic.