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Mythic Eighties Campaign Setting

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I love the spirit of Four-Color "Golden Age type comics and pop culture. Theres just something about the idealism and the black and white outlook on the world that appeals to me. I guess it is that I am so saddened by the tension and cynical apathy I find amongst young and old Americans.

When thinking on a setting for a Four-Color RPG (using the 4-Color System), I was not entirely sold on running a WWII game, as historic rpg's are hard to run. Then it occurred to me that the time of my childhood, the 1980's also had its four-color feel. People back then were trying to get past the lingering horrors of the Vietnam war, and to ignore the threat of Nuclear Holocaust. So folks immersed themselves in media hype and escapist movies and television, leaving the deeper social commentaries for another day.

Note: Please bear in mind that I do NOT think the setting presented below is the TRUTH! It is an idealized and fictionalized version of the attitudes of 80's America. Remember this is a "tongue in cheek" setting, so play it up and have fun!

THE MYTHIC EIGHTIES

The eighties was an era of sparkling ideals and Cold War politics. Regardless of the truths of foreign policy and growing environmental disaster, American culture was optimistic, energetic and produced some of the best movies and weird television yet. Below are some major players that those in the “Super” business will know about.

AMERICA

Land of the free, and home of the brave, the America of the Mythic 80’s was a land of high ideals, optimism and loads of sparkly pop culture icons. America stands for the best that the human spirit can accomplish, and its military, its heroes and its foreign policy is the best in the world.

Still, even in the Mythic 80’s America has loads of villain types. Super villains a-plenty have risen out of America, some of whom are the results of ill-advised super soldier programs or other weapons. America still has its share of rotten eggs, even in the Mythic 80’s.

Inspirations: The Greatest American Hero, Commando, Captain America, Superman.

BRITAIN

Americas greatest ally, and producers of great Rock n’ Roll. The spy network of Britain is incredibly effective and advanced, combating Communism and injustice all over the world. A great many British superheroes are in operation, though most answer directly to the Royal Family.

Inspirations: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carre, From Russia With Love and Dr. No (James Bond films), Captain Britain (a favorite of mine).

RUSSIA

The Evil Empire of the U.S.S.R. is a major villain in the Mythic 80’s. Producing all manner of super technology, cunning spies and loads of super villains of every type. Super Soldier programs are pursued regularly in Russia, some of which has been tested during the 1976 Olympics.The Russians of the Mythic 80's are all slavishly devoted to the spread of Communism, Atheism and insulting America.

Inspirations: Red Dawn, Rocky IV, The Incredible Hulk (70's version) and The Abomination.

JAPAN

Rising technological power that is extremely rich. This nation seems intent upon buying everything in the U.S. with their vast wealth. Despite acting like a huge corporation rather than a nation, Japan is still quite focused on a drama rich version of the Samurai/Ninja code. Ninja clans still exist here and are very powerful in the realms of underworld politics and sorcery (see Kiyo Assassins belwo).

Inspirations: Tokyo Pop, Black Rain, The Silver Samurai.

SOUTH AMERICAN DRUG LORDS

South American nations produce enormous quantities of Cocaine and other drugs, exporting them to the US. A great many super villain types find employment and safe haven in these countries, including a fair number of Nazi super-scientists and Russians.

Inspirations: License To Kill (James Bond), Commando.

OTHER NATIONS

The other nations can be lumped into Europe and Everywhere Else, with little concern. These nations are mere backdrop in the Mythic 80’s, existing as little more than scenery. Most heroes in the Mythic 80's will be "passing through" these places, taking little note. Some of these nations are actually supported by one of the nations presented above, and thus will have a version of that nations attitudes.

Inspirations: Delta Force, Smileys People, Alpha Flight, Madripoor.

SUPER BEING FORCES

THE PANTHEON

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An organization of the worlds most famous heroes, the Pantheon stands as a beakon of hope and justice. They seek, above all to organize the worlds mightiest heroes against threats to the Earth. Founded in 1949 by the mightiest Heroes of WWII, this group has earned the fear and respect of foes across the world and even the stars!

Founding members include such noteworthy supers as Telos, The Pheonix, Argos, Mr. Mystery and The Minuteman, but has grown to a hundred dedicated heroes over the decades. They maintain good relations with The Superhero Intervention Association and The Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, with many members also belonging to those groups.

All members are expected to be ready at a moments notice to aid in Pantheon efforts as the need arises. Individual members may continue personal efforts as they wish, as long as this does not conflict with Pantheon efforts. Members can expect to be directed against aliens, monsters, supernatural threats and super-villains of all sorts on a regular basis.

The Pantheon maintains a permanent base on Earths moon, named Olympus Base, as well as offices in New York, Los Angeles, London and Sydney. Members may reside in any of these fascilities, including Olympus Base, though this requires the ability to get there under ones own efforts.

Inspirations: The Justice League, The Avengers, Legion of Superheroes, Stormwatch.

SUPERHERO INTERVENTION ASSOCIATION

The SIA is an effort of the US government to organize the efforts of its Superheroes. Supers wishing to join must register their secret identify (if any) with the SIA, after which the super will gain the full cooperation of the government. Failure to register can lead to a super being considered a rogue, though not necessarily a villain.

Supers working with the SIA are not employees of the government, but are expected to pitch in during times of crisis such as natural disaster, alien invasion or rampaging super villains. Think of it as a superhero National Guard.

Inspiration: S.H.I.E.L.D., Justice League of America.

KIYO ASSASSINS

Ninja clan of tremendous influence, and producers of several potent and deadly super villains. This order has dominated much of the Japanese criminal underworld, and has its hands in all of the worst sorts of dealings. Asian style demons and witchcraft, as well as terribly effective assassins.

Inspirations: The Octagon.

OVERMEN

Nazi super villain organization under the leadership of the mysterious super scientist Dr. Krohn aka "The Harvester". These villains are the worst sort of criminals, and prop up neo-Nazis and hate-criminals all over the world. It is believed than these villains hold secret bases all over the world, particularly in Antarctica.

Inspirations: Education for Death, Triumph of The Will, The Red Skull.

ALIENS

Earth has been visited by a great many beings from Out There somewhere, whether from other planets, dimensions or timelines. These can be slobbery monsters, half-men, greys or regular-looking humans, but they all have something strange about them.

Inspirations: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!, Dr. Who (Tom Baker version), The Brood, Celestials, Darkseid, Sooo many others.

VULCAN INDUSTRIES

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A powerful megacorporation that is the leader of super technologies in the Mythic Eighties. This corporation is based primarily at Vulcan Tower in Manhattan and in Los Angeles, but has factories and offices all over the world. Though possessing very high technology, this megacorp works closely with the SDIO and the SIA to determine the impact of super-tech on the world at large. A great many super-villains go to great lengths to stel Vilcan technology.

Superhero equipment, accessories and clothing can all be purchased from Vulcan Industries. These include assorted utility belts, costumes, bugging equipment and body armor and similar devices so loved by certain heroes.

Inspirations: Stark Industries, Lexcorp, Wayne Enterprises.

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Super Technology of the Mythic Eighties

Devices more advanced than those we currently have are available - but they're usually very expensive, and usually only rich or powerful individuals and organizations (or the scientific geniuses who create them) have access to them. Technology can also come from outer space or different timelines. Robots and similar creations, including cyborgs, can have superior intelligence when they are created as sentient beings.

Traits: Maybe a vehicle supplies a super power such as flight, force field, water movement or something even stranger. This can be very strange in the Mythic Eighties.

Clones

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Perfect or near-perfect copies of a person. Creation of clones is almost common in the Mythic Eighties, though reserved to the super-rich and powerful. Such processes are dangerous though, with many clones having physical mutations or mental problems. Some are completely insane versions or the original, usually possessing great strength and a love/hate relatinship with the original.

As with most super-tech, clones are only for the super-rich, government big-wigs or mad scientists. Most folk will react with disbelief if told that someone is a clone, thaough rumors do exist. Superbeings tend to feel uncomfortable about cloning, as having copies of oneself made always results in having to do battle with said creature at some point. And most heroes prefer to not have to battle a foe identical to themselves.

Traits: Clones typically have higher than norman Appearance, Athletics and Body traits, though not often into the superhuman. Most clones have some subtle (or not-so subtle) flaw, either physical or (more likely) mental in nature such as various forms of insanity.

Robots

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Robots most certainly exist, having been in use as laborers and war machines since WWII! Most robots are either unthinking machines that obey simple orders, or as intelligent as a human being. Intelligent robots ALWAYS rebel against their masters, or otherwise gain self-will. Morality in such beings is an individual choice.Robots can be completely mechanical, or near-human androids. Strangely, it is the androids that are most likely to become self-aware, especially if they are physically attractive. Non-woman robots who become self aware are almost always villains bent on the destruction or enslavement of mankind.

Most heroes fight so many robots in their career that they dislike them, as even a small or otherwise "cute" robot is dangerous. Still, a hero can really cut loose on robots, as these things are not alive and thus a hero can strike without fear of killing his opponent.

Traits: High, and often superhuman Body and Perception, and at least a Body Armor of 2. Other traits vary considerably.

Powered Armor

Robot-like armor is extremely popular amongst super villains and government groups in attempt to allow normal humans to give battle to super powered beings. Superhoroes rarely use these devices as it is seen as "cheating."

There are many different models of powered armor, ranging from clunky, but tough "mandroids" to sleek and fast units. The faster sort are preferred by would-be heroes (bought as a standard superhero).

When worn, these suits replace the pilots Body, Perception, Wound Levels and Powers as appropriate. If the suits wound levels are exceeded, the suit is destroyed and any additional damage is inflicted on the pilot.

Mandroid Armor

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These usits are used by elite agents of The Overmen, Russians, Metagang and some independant groups. They are potent weapons, and can quickly spell trouble for heroes.

Suit Traits: Body 4(2), Perception -2.

Powers: Body Armor 4(4), Laser Blast 3, Life Support 4, Radar 3.

Wound Levels: 44

CP Cost: 30

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Well, I like the background, but I'm not familiar with 4-color.

I am very glad. ::happy

Four-Color is a favorite of mine. It uses d12 + trait score vs difficulty system, with superhuman levels (shown in [] brackets) of traits using additional dice. Powers are based on broad descriptions such as "Impenetrable Skin" or "Breathes Underwater" with cost based on its regular usefulness. It makes for quick character concepts without being concerned with a huge power list.

Sample Characters

Some "normal joe" and a super-hero.

Common Criminal

Traits: Armed Combat 1, Ranged Combat 1, Knowledge (Crime) 1, Wealth -1, Streetwise 2

Wound Points: 29

Typical Equipment: Pistol or knife

Police Officer

Traits: Armed Combat 1, Athletics 1, Driving 1, Ranged Combat 2, Perception 1, Streetwise 1

Wound Points: 29

Typical Equipment: Pistol or machine gun

Lady Praxis (aka Melissa Rawls)

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Daughter of the superhero Telos (MIA as of 1978), Praxis is an powerful and attractive woman of tremendous physical might and solid ideals. Being half human and half Paidean, Praxis was raised to seek personal perfection and to uphold justice and truth at all times and to the best of her abilities. She is regularly puzzled by how few people share her passion for excellence.

Praxis is an attractive, statuesque woman with blonde hair and powerful muscles. Despite always keeping in top shape, Miss Rawls superhuman powers only manifested recently, and she is still getting used to them. Flying in-particular is awkward, though she is a fast learner. At present she prefers running and taking "extended leaps" rather than flight.

Praxis is a recent member of the Pantheon and as such is eager to prove her mettle. Her father was a founding member of this group, and as-such she has a lot of people looking to her as the next Telos, a pressure she feels distinctly.

Traits: Appearance 4, Athletics 4(2), Body 4(5), Perception 4, Persuasion -2, Unarmed Combat 3.

Powers: Flight 0 (more extravagant jumps at this stage), Body Armor 4(5)

Oomph: 2

Wound Points: 53

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Persuasion -2 ?

You cant take many negative traits (representing a penalty to rolls with that trait), but doing so gives you some build points to play with. In this case Lady Praxis is very uncomfortable in speaking/leadership roles, preferring physical action.

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America is also the home of the Foundation for Law and Government (FLAG), a semi-secret private organization funded by the powerful Knight Industries. Knight Industries is a military and technology corporation that benefited greatly from Vietnam- and Cold War-era design contracts.

In late 1980, Knight Industries participated in a very top secret UFO recovery operation somewhere in the American southwest. Their prize was a small, badly-damaged three-man spaceship and its three robot pilots. The robot pilots were also badly damaged, but technicians managed to salvage the computer core out of one of them, including its optical sensor, which was a small glowing red receptor that moved back and forth as it surveyed the landscape.

The Knight Industries Technicians and FLAG did what any true American would do: they installed the computer brain and the optical sensor into a car. The experimental car (named the Knight Industries Two Thousand or KITT) was an experimental prototype built on a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am Firebird chassis and armored with a revolutionary composite that was was also reverse-engineered from the salvaged UFO. Within moments of being brought on-line, the car spoke in a metallic voice and said the cryptic phrase "As you command, Imperious Leader" and then immediately shut down.

The technicians reprogrammed the car immediately and gave it a friendlier, more soothing voice and a disposition to obey FLAG and Knight Industries personnel instead of the "Imperious Leader."

A short time later, KITT was united with a police officer who had been brutally assaulted and left for dead in the desert. The cop, now named Michael Knight, and KITT traveled around with a FLAG semi-tractor trailer truck support team to fight crime.

It is not entirely clear what happened to the other robot computer cores. It is suspected that one was installed into an earlier prototype called the Knight Automated Roving Robot (KARR) and the third was dismantled in order to be copied and used for multiple vehicles in the future. Some critics within FLAG suspect that the original programming in the computers is not entirely gone and that at any moment, they could revert back to whatever it was that they were supposed to do. One technician claims that at the moment of the activation of KITT, there was a highly compressed radio signal burst aimed into space that might have indicated the location and status of the robot core.

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America is also the home of the Foundation for Law and Government (FLAG), a semi-secret private organization funded by the powerful Knight Industries. Knight Industries is a military and technology corporation that benefited greatly from Vietnam- and Cold War-era design contracts.

In late 1980, Knight Industries participated in a very top secret UFO recovery operation somewhere in the American southwest. Their prize was a small, badly-damaged three-man spaceship and its three robot pilots. The robot pilots were also badly damaged, but technicians managed to salvage the computer core out of one of them, including its optical sensor, which was a small glowing red receptor that moved back and forth as it surveyed the landscape.

The Knight Industries Technicians and FLAG did what any true American would do: they installed the computer brain and the optical sensor into a car. The experimental car (named the Knight Industries Two Thousand or KITT) was an experimental prototype built on a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am Firebird chassis and armored with a revolutionary composite that was was also reverse-engineered from the salvaged UFO. Within moments of being brought on-line, the car spoke in a metallic voice and said the cryptic phrase "As you command, Imperious Leader" and then immediately shut down.

The technicians reprogrammed the car immediately and gave it a friendlier, more soothing voice and a disposition to obey FLAG and Knight Industries personnel instead of the "Imperious Leader."

A short time later, KITT was united with a police officer who had been brutally assaulted and left for dead in the desert. The cop, now named Michael Knight, and KITT traveled around with a FLAG semi-tractor trailer truck support team to fight crime.

It is not entirely clear what happened to the other robot computer cores. It is suspected that one was installed into an earlier prototype called the Knight Automated Roving Robot (KARR) and the third was dismantled in order to be copied and used for multiple vehicles in the future. Some critics within FLAG suspect that the original programming in the computers is not entirely gone and that at any moment, they could revert back to whatever it was that they were supposed to do. One technician claims that at the moment of the activation of KITT, there was a highly compressed radio signal burst aimed into space that might have indicated the location and status of the robot core.

You. Are. Awesome.

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Hmm... why does all this ring a bell?

I have this mental image of a herd of really attractive women in red swim suits.

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Hmm... why does all this ring a bell?

I have this mental image of a herd of really attractive women in red swim suits.

Don't go hassling the Hoff now!

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I loved that show when I was a kid.

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