Traditionally, civil authorities take a dim view of vigilantes. In a world of super heroes, the line between vigilante and superhero can be very thin. Which side of that line a character is on will affect how that hero is treated by authorities.
People don’t necessarily make these distinctions on a conscious level. But they usually do treat these classes distinctly.
In the public’s eye, there are five classes of heroes and villains. Civil authorities generally make the same distinction.
Adventurers: Adventurers are people who don’t look for trouble, but usually end up finding it anyway. Adventurers often become super heroes once they decide to do more than wait for trouble to come to them. Adventurers usually have a real occupation--journalist, archaeologist, even politician.
Superheroes: Superheroes wear costumes. They have special powers or abilities, and they cooperate with authorities. When a superhero doesn’t cooperate, there’s usually a reason. If this becomes habitual, however, the superhero may well cross over into vigilantism. Super heroes do not take the law into their own hands.
Supervillains: Any costumed person who is not a superhero is a supervillain. Anyone with super powers who does not wear a costume is probably a supervillain. Costumed vigilantes are often treated as supervillains at first. Vigilantes with super powers are almost always treated as supervillains at first, and often for quite a while.
These guidelines are for cities where super heroes and villains are relatively common. Inexperienced authorities often treat super villains just like any other criminal.
A police officer will never try to stop a super villain without first calling for backup. Even if there are innocents endangered by the super villain, the officer will call for backup first, because the average police officer is simply no match for a super villain. A police officer always uses a firearm (preferably a shotgun) when stopping a suspected or confirmed super villain. The firearm will be drawn and aimed before the officer makes any threats. A police officer will not give a suspected super villain ‘the benefit of the doubt.’ It’s simply too dangerous.
Sleepers: Some individuals with super powers hide their powers, and use them to advance within a normal career. Sleepers don’t break the law, and thus aren’t super villains. Most people believe there should be some law against them, however.
There will often be individual members of the civilian police force who do believe in what the vigilante is doing.
Vigilantes: Vigilantes often do not wear costumes. They take the law into their own hands. Vigilantes do not cooperate with authorities unless it’s in their best interest. Authorities will not generally cooperate with a vigilante, and will, if at all safe, harass them. If they can arrest the vigilante, they will do so. Vigilantes who kill or maim will be treated as criminals, and possibly as super villains.
Civilians fear vigilantes in much the same way that they fear a corrupt police force, but more so, since vigilantes are under no control whatsoever.
In order to jail a supervillain, the villain must be wanted for a specific crime, or the superhero must have proof of a specific crime. If the superhero is supplying proof, the superhero must appear in court.
Super villains can, of course, be convicted for killing super heroes. That’s one of the reasons villains don’t do it that often.
Supervillains are no longer jailed for assault on super heroes. As far as the public is concerned, that is the natural order of things. Prosecutors will rarely prosecute a super villain simply for assault against a superhero. When they do, they rarely get a conviction. When they get a conviction, it is rarely for more than time served. There is just too much to ask the courts to deal with. As often as not, the defense can present evidence that the assault was partially brought on by the superhero. The superhero, as integral to the case, must appear in court. And, since the superhero is the accuser, the defense will usually succeed in getting a court unmasking order--confrontation with the accuser is a very important part of due process. Finally, of course, there’s simply the matter that nobody cares. Any super villain who hasn’t done more than beat up on a superhero isn’t a super villain worth worrying about.
Most people with special powers don’t have the real flashy ones. For every person with Fire Coat, at a super-powerful level, there will be 10 or more with Fire Coat, PR 1. There is a person in Russia with the ability to call forth a light, pastel shade of blue.
These people are often shunned by polite society. People are more likely to have prejudice against these types of abilities because they are closer to home. Also, with super heroes and super villains in the news every day, how can they know that these little powers aren’t actually big powers in disguise?
There are many strange organizations in most superhero worlds. When playing a member of an organization, remember that there are different levels of goals to keep track of. The organization has its goals, and so do the individuals involved in the organization. These goals will not always be the same, though they will usually be complementary.
When designing your own organizations, make sure you know the organization’s goals, origins, and status. The state of the organization will include its financial status, the kind of members it attracts, and its legal status.
All of the following organizations will not necessarily exist at the same time. SIT may be formed before AIM, and the necessity of both PNEST and Project Prometheus may not be evident to the government for quite a while. Still later, a subsidiary project like Project Prometheus may well lose its funding, depending on the climate, the perceived need, and the past results.
Private organizations such as NAMES will be prominent during times conducive to their platform, and will be confined to the fringes when the atmosphere is not so well suited to them.
Agency for the Investigation of Mutants: AIM was founded to keep track of superhero and super villain activity around the world, and especially monitors the number of super heroes in potential U.S. enemies.
Carlog Enterprises: Carlog Enterprises was founded by Emmanuel Carlog in 1919. Carlog Enterprises is primarily a trading company. Carlog has offices and warehouses in every part of the world, and is ready to capitalize on any windfall or shortfall of goods. Emmanuel Carlog was a close friend of Louis Jasmine. Emmanuel’s daughter, Louise Carlog, has been in control of the company since 1976. Louse and Lorelei Jasmine are close associates.
OSS: Office of Strategic Services
Central Intelligence Agency: The CIA was formed out of a World War II spy organization known as OSS. Originally meant as a clearinghouse for U.S. intelligence, the CIA takes part in covert operations throughout the world, both for information gathering and political manipulations. AIM is part of the CIA. The CIA has close ties with OSI also.
Federal Bureau of Investigation: The FBI is responsible for domestic intelligence and investigation of federal crimes. SIT is part of the FBI.
Future Study: This is a private organization, set up in 1973 by multi-billionaire John Champion. He secretly launched a self-supporting space station past the asteroid belt. Since then, Future Study has grown haphazardly, and now resembles nothing more than a large, lopsided asteroid itself.
Future Study serves as a space-side watch station and guard post for Earth. It also conducts advanced electronic, computer, medical, and chemical research.
Interpol: Interpol is the police organization of the United Nations. In theory, Interpol’s jurisdiction covers crime of international scope, but in practice Interpol is hampered by political machinations in most countries. The United Nations is not above it’s own politics, either, so it isn’t unlikely that Interpol’s investigation choices might reflect the desire of the U.N. for greater power over individual countries.
Jasmine Oil: Jasmine Oil was founded by Louis Jasmine in 1935. A relative late-comer, Jasmine Oil has already grown and expanded to include much more than just oil. Jasmine Oil’s research division is second only to that of Future Study, and its scientists are the best, and the best-paid, in the world. Louis Jasmine was a close friend of Emmanuel Carlog. His daughter, Lorelei Jasmine, has controlled Jasmine Oil since his death in 1979.
Jasmine-Carlog Electronics: JC Electronics was started in the early fifties in order to capitalize on defense spending. JC Electronics, then, specialized in high-technology research. They were instrumental in developing today’s robotics technology. Today, Jasmine-Carlog is mainly a high-technology parts supplier for other defense and high-technology researchers.
Military Intelligence-6: Known colloquially as Her Majesty’s Secret Service (at least, until there’s a king to outrank Her Majesty), MI-6 is Britain’s main overseas intelligence organization.
North American Mutant Eradication Society (NAMES): NAMES is a small organization operating out of Fargo, North Dakota. They are attempting to bring public support to the idea of confining super-powered beings for the common protection. To this end, they also strongly support laws requiring registration of all super powers. NAMES sporadically publishes a small newsletter, The Herald of NAMES, which is distributed to all members, contributors, as well as members of the House and Senate, and any superhero groups with public addresses. They also send the newsletter to any state or local officials who are considering bills that further the purpose of NAMES. Finally, they send a few thousand out to a random sampling of the United States population, with addresses taken from various phone books.
Oscar Goldman is the J. Edgar Hoover of scientific intelligence. He’s been with OSI since 1971, and he’s guided it into the superhero age.
Office of Scientific Intelligence: The OSI is a branch of the National Security Administration, and it works closely with the CIA. OSI’s purpose is scientific intelligence--its operatives search out and collect information about research into the fringes of high technology. OSI also conducts its own research, and funds private researchers. OSI provides weaponry and equipment for the PNEST branch of SIT. OSI also conducts Project Prometheus, in close consultation with AIM.
Organized Crime: There are many forms of organized crime nowadays. Besides the old Italian Mafia standby, there are other crime organizations sprouting up where other recent immigrants live together in relative poverty. Thus, there exists Chinese and Korean Mafia in the Chinese and Korean sections of some cities. A Greek Mafia has been rumored, and there are undoubtedly others. How organized these organizations are is subject to speculation, but it is recognized that the Italian Mafia has connections, at least, spanning the United States (New York, Las Vegas, and Atlantic City).
Project Prometheus: Project Prometheus is a subsidiary project of OSI. The main facility is beneath the quiet suburb of North Platt, Nebraska. That facility includes huge research areas, training rooms, administrative facilities, and surveillance equipment. Project Prometheus studies the means in which powers are gained, as well as the training that can bring humans to the limit of their abilities. The director of Project Prometheus is William Katt.
Radial Outer Congress (ROC): ROC is a vast, well organized criminal organization. They operate in industrial espionage, technological crime, assassinations, and crack mercenary operations. ROC always operates surreptitiously, behind the scenes. ROC is a world-wide operation, and has divided the world into 6 divisions, or Aviaries. The Eleventh Aviary is Aviary 100, consisting of all unmonitored land, islands, and space. Each Aviary is run by an Eagle, and all eleven Eagles make up the ROC Congress. The Congress is chaired by the One-hundredth Eagle.
There are two teams (Wings) which answer only to the Congress. One is a highly trained assault team, and the other is a specially trained Psychological Operations team. One of the PsyOp team’s duties is the recruitment and training of new members.
Each Aviary is further divided into up to six Nests. Each Nest is controlled by a Sparrow. The Sparrow overseas the operations of the Operations Wing, the Infiltration Wing, and the Research Wing. The Operations Wing exists for covert, usually short-term operations. The Research Wing exists for the collection of all data of any value--political, scientific, and anything else that may come in handy someday. The Infiltration Wing exists for long term operations requiring undercover agents and moles.
The Aviaries of ROC
First Aviary Middle East: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India
Second Aviary Pacific: Australia, Antarctica
Third Aviary Orient: China, Mongolia, Japan
Fourth Aviary Soviet: The old U.S.S.R
Fifth Aviary North: Canada, Greenland, Iceland, the Arctic,
Sixth Aviary U.S.A.
Seventh Aviary Central America: Mexico, Central America, Caribbean
Eighth Aviary South America
Ninth Aviary Western Europe, Spain, Portugal, England
Tenth Aviary Africa, Malagasy Republic
Hundredth Aviary Otherwise unmonitored land, islands, and space.
The Sixth Aviary is divided up into four Nests:
First Nest Eastern U.S.
Second Nest Midwest
Third Nest Southwest
Fourth Nest Western U.S.
There will undoubtedly be a power struggle to determine the re-organization of the Fourth Aviary.
The Congress will discuss redrawing Aviary and Nest lines during 1996. It is suspected that the Aviaries will be redistributed along borders similar to the emerging economic blocks. Thus, Mexico and Canada will become part of the same Aviary as the United States, and the Western Europe Aviary will consist of the European Common Market.
Superhero Investigation Team: SIT was created for the surveillance of super heroes, super villains, and anyone who shows signs of super powers. Their main goal, however, is keeping track of super heroes. The government is worried that super heroes may someday get out of control, and also wants to be able to call on super heroes in times of national emergency.
SIT also overseas the two major super villain incarceration sites: SITRAAS (SIT Retention Area, Atlantic Side), and SITRAPS (SIT Retention Area, Pacific Side). SITRAAS is on a small island about 2 kilometers off the coast of New Jersey. SITRAPS is in an underwater bubble about 2 kilometers off of Los Angeles.
A SIT squad is set up in any city that has an infestation of superhero phenomena. The squad is headed by a Field Director, and each will consist of from 4 to 20 Field Operatives. In New York City, Miami, San Francisco, and San Diego, the SIT headquarters also run PNEST (Para-Normal Elite Strike Team). PNEST consists of very well trained commandos, equipped with the best in technological weaponry and protection straight from OSI research.
With the advent of super heroes, Developing Assistant Director of Acronyms has become a very prestigious post.
The Time Patrol: The Time Patrol is actually the Interdimensional Police of the interdimensional city of Twir, at the crossroads of time and space, where different dimensions and times collide. The DáGaKa (DiGoraKata, or DGK) duties do not normally include time travel, but if a major corporation’s contracts are nullified because of someone messing with the time stream, or if a needed reality disappears because of that, the DGK is likely to step in to fix things.
The two best kept secrets of the DGK are the Reality Collider (GornRlok), which allows the wearer to retain a useful set of physical laws while dimension hopping, and the Interdimensional Web (DiGoraTane), a map of most of the known entry points to various time lines, times, and dimensions.
A few white supremacist organizations today are labeling themselves ‘anti-politically correct’ organizations.
White Supremacist Organizations: There has been a minor resurgence of bigotry recently, and supremacist organizations, under the guise of white pride or anti-pc, are making a comeback in parts of the United States. The most famous of these is the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Some openly advocate terrorist activity, some secretly advocate it, and some try to support oppressive laws. The range of individuals within each group tends to vary widely along that line.
When the FBI dredged the lake near where three activists disappeared in 1964, they didn’t find the activists, but they did find the bodies of nine lynched black men.
Groups such as the KKK arose after the Civil War. Their purpose was to take over where the law no longer went--to keep Blacks from exercising their franchise to vote and run for office. Except for those cases where blacks armed themselves in contravention of local laws aimed at keeping them defenseless, terrorist activities by such groups was often very bloody and effective.