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Toying with a campaign idea



Over the last few weeks I've been outlining another campaign setting in my head. This one's coming together pretty nicely, it's got a good feel to it.

Setting--extremely alternate 1960s, Dark Post-Steampunk/Supers

The Characters: The characters are assumed to be low-level supers--either highly-competent everymen, talented inventors, or low-end paranormals of some sort, the usual range of characters you might expect in an indy Supers comic at the low end of the power spectrum (say, 125-150 points in GURPS, or level 6 characters in Mutants and Masterminds).

The World:
Dark: LITERALLY dark, the world is mired in the gaslight era. Technology for a number of reasons didn't advance as we know it--this is a world without the legacy of Edison and Tesla. Internal combustion and complex clockworks are the dominant technologies. They do the job--the world has most of the comforts we'd have--but the cities are covered with a thick layer of smog, and many technologies (long-distance communication, information storage) are in an awkward infancy.
Post-Steampunk: The Golden Age of Science really peaked in World War I, which transformed battle fields into blackened, occasionally glassy, barren landscapes--the collapse of the Victorian Era brought a sullen resentment toward the banner of Progress. Technology continued to develop, and certain new fields of study--chemistry, and Willhem Riech's budding study of Orgonomy, the science of vital life fields and life energy have filled many of the niches conductive electricity left behind.

Where have things deviated?
Riech's Orgone studies have born fruit he never would have condoned. Orgone--a blue-white energy that is present invisibly in the biosphere, particularly around living, sentient creatures, more particularly still in times of intense emotion (pain, sex, celebration...)--has proven to be (as Riech predicted) harvestable, transmittable, able to be concentrated and utilized. But the most sustainable sources of this power are perhaps the darkest, and orgone research has been limited in America (allegedly. We hope. There are rumors.) A twisted version of Riech's optimistic science of Orgonomy was embraced by Nazi Germany, the scientist never immigrated to America. In the hands of the Nazi cabal, with no shortage of sources of "intense emotion" at their disposal, Riech's Orgonomy became a devastating technology, supporting the Nazi's expansionist agenda.

In the 1960's, the cold war is still an active threat in the popular conscience--though not a war between Russia and the Allied Powers, but the more dangerous German nation and the powers attempting (thusfar, successfully) to contain it.

Cracks in the World's Armor, and casualties of the Sexual Revolution
It's an open secret that the Germans were researching the occult, and that these studies were largely abject failures. The rationalist world of the 1920s-40s wouldn't support those kinds of studies. However, that is not as much the case now. Much magical theory is built on intense emotion, channeled sexual energy, symbolic death, even the pain of sacrifice--the same root energies that fuel Orgone research. As the concentration of orgone in the atmosphere increases, so to does the efficacy of these researches. And so do the rumors of strange encounters in the dark smog-choaked streets of Berlin...disturbing summonings and workings in the temples of Crowley's followers, the Ordo Templi Orientis...meetings with the Goddess among the students of Gerald Gardner...and stories of the uncontrolled, enthusiastic energy of the Aquarian and Free Love movements expanding people's consciences in a permanent, sometimes fatal way.

10 righteous souls
...in a hidden, secluded office, dimly lit by a gas flame, Loew reads the 15th newspaper of the week, looking for...what? Miracles under a different name, last minute-rescues, clippngs about charity and virtue that form a sort of a pattern. The thick binders of clippings go back a hundred years. Always annotated in the same precise hand, too. The maps on the wall are covered with pins, cramped notes, theories taped to the margins of countries and crossed out, corrected, and so on. At the moment, there are 24 golden beads pinned to the wall...no few of them in Germany, but some in London, some in San Francisco (none near his office, that would be a paradox, humility is too great a virtue). Patiently, he looks for the 36. They have to be there somewhere, or else the cracks are too deep, and the shield falls...

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