Encyclopedia Heroica

    Well, this section is a reference catalog and glossary for the Champions campaign. If you want to know something about how things work, you’ll probably find it here. 

   ADAMANTIUM: A general term for the various “super alloys” of extreme durability produced by traces of one or both of the first two group one transuranics in a normal metal. The most resilient examples known so far are derived from bronze. Various combinations of base metals and group one transuranics show other properties, including high-temperature superconductivity, changing shape in various ways in response to applied thermal or electrical energies, energy conversion effects, exotic electrical or electronic properties, and many more. Sadly, the incalculable technological applications are severely restricted by the scarcity of the group one transuranics.

 

   ARCHOSAURS (Commonly DINOSAURS): Contrary to the popular belief that dinosaurs were merely massive coldblooded reptiles, their metabolism and structure more closely resembled that of modern birds. Efficient and deadly, they might have dominated the earth without further advantages – but they had also inherited active psionic abilities from an early common ancestor. Unlike most known psionics, their abilities were distributed throughout their nervous system. While this made “fine control” something of a moot point, reduced efficiency, and greatly limited the complexity of the effects they could produce, it distributed the conversion waste energies through their entire bodies instead of concentrating it in their central nervous system, allowing them to manipulate comparatively vast forces. Some evolved enormous size, specialized heat sinks, or energy dissipating features, but none gained intelligence. Their evolutionary path led to a vastly powerful dead end. Even so, they might have dominated the earth indefinitely if not for the Rho-Field. The dinosaurs were dependant on psionics, deprived of them they proved unable to survive.

   Occasional archosaurs have appeared in modern times, whether by virtue of being summoned, being released from stasis, being moved through time, or from being released from extra-dimensional pocket worlds. Most of them have nicely fulfilled the role of “giant monsters”. Fortunately, as least as yet, no reproducing pairs have appeared.

 

   AVATARS: As distinct from priests, who simply draw on the power of a particular “GOD”, actually incarnate some fraction of their patrons essence. Their power is usually mystically based, manifesting as superhuman abilities related to the entity involved. Many avatars simply go by the name of the entity or suffer from over-identification with it.

 

   GODS: While anything that’s ever been worshiped might more-or-less reasonably be called a “god”, in popular usage the term is generally restricted to sentient beings with enormous and versatile magical (or occasionally psionic) abilities, extreme durability, the ability to bestow powers on their followers, and lengthy lifespans who control at least a limited extradimensional realm to which they can draw the astral forms of their worshippers after their physical death. “False Gods”, including intentional deceptions, physically powerful aliens and creatures, nonsentients, and unliving objects and forces (such as volcanoes, mountains, or the sea), lack one or more of these attributes. “Gods” are generally seen as distinct from “God” proper – the eternal and all-powerful first cause and creator of the universe. While there is a great deal of debate over whether such an entity exists and as to what its nature might be, most of the debaters agree that “God” doesn’t usually make personal appearances.

   Most commonly-known gods are inhabitants of the various pocket dimensions known as the Hundred Realms. Generally these are simply powerful human beings who take advantage of the energy gradient between their realm and the earth to meddle without personal involvement. Some are very strange after 24,000 years of genetic drift, adaption to alien dimensions, and the gathering of immense magical power, but they remain more or less human in motivation and make up most of the historical pantheons worshiped through history.

   Many other “gods” (including various “arch-demons/devils”, “princes of hell”, and “demon lords”) are the inhabitants of various phantasm realms and, as such, are technically only the quasi-real psychic creations of the local sentient species. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be incredibly powerful, almost indestructible (even if “killed” they tend to come back later), and very dangerous – but each species, and sometimes each culture, may have its own collection of phantasms.

   The Great Old Ones are the archmagi and great powers of older, senescent, universes. Thanks to their otherworldly nature, their mere presence disrupts the laws of nature (and the technology that depends on them) and the minds of weaker beings in a wide radius. Fortunately, as aliens to this realm, they’re vulnerable to celestial and/or primordial energies – as are those they have corrupted. Lesser members of such species are usually known as “Dark Spawn”, although it’s unlikely that they’re literally the offspring of the lords of darkness. While the Dark Spawn have the same otherworldly nature as the Great Old Ones, they’re normally far weaker. Minions recruited from this universe are generally known as the “Corrupted”, and are usually imbued with tiny fragments of their masters powers at best (worst?). In any case, while the Great Old Ones may or may not be “evil”, they’re certainly incomprehensibly alien. Worshiping such dark “gods” isn’t a good idea; insanity is usually only the start of the problems involved. The Great Old Ones don’t understand normal beings any better then normal beings understand them. They can bestow “gifts” on those who contact them and a fair number of mutually agreeable (?) bargains (?) have been discovered by trial and error, but none are entirely dependable as no one really understands them.

   Finally, various tribes and groups have worshiped a wide variety of aliens, mages, and other creatures as “gods”. Most have been False Gods at best, and in most cases this does little harm.

 

   HUNDRED REALMS, THE: These cosmologically-tiny pocket dimensions are usually limited to a radius of a few light years at most. They originated in “topological defects” – primordial flaws in the structure of space-time. Such defects entrapped “bubbles” of space during the cooling period following the big bang, isolating them from the normal universe. As such regions could not lose energy to the expansion of the universe, they have maintained a higher base energy level, and thus differing natural laws. They interact with the normal universe as a “phantom” mass spread over their internal size, and through dimensional gateways. While such gateways can open anywhere within the volume corresponding to the pocket dimension, in practice they can only be established at dimensional nexi or with large (planetary) masses to anchor the gateway at both ends.

   There are quite a lot of pocket dimensions, they make up a major (95%+) portion of the mass of the universe. Several hundred are associated with the solar system, although most are quite small. The energy level of the pocket dimensions usually gives the inhabitants a “high ground” advantage when projecting their powers into the normal universe, a common course as even the largest of the pocket realms is a tiny prison compared to the outside. There have been reports of pocket dimensions with lower energy levels then the normal universe, such realms are rare but can come into being when a “bubble” expanded after it formed. Such dimensions are usually very small, possibly they were too small for stability when they formed.

 

   RHO-FIELD, THE: A zone of non-gravitational spacetime distortion that radiates from the core of the galaxy. Several narrow cones of the field exist in the galactic plane, whether it also radiates outside the galactic plane is as unknown as the mechanism that generates it. Where the field intersects the suns orbit around the galactic center it affects a region about 32 light years across. Given that the sun is located 35,000 light years from the galactic core, this indicates that the field both expands very slowly and is probably extremely narrow at its origin – a possible indication of an artificial source.. A pass through the center of the field would require some 35,000 years at the suns orbital velocity. As the latest pass was completed in less then 26,000 years, it is apparent that the pass was not through the center of the field.

   Within the field the subtly altered structure of spacetime has a variety of effects; Many physical “constants” are slightly changed, the galactic magnetic field is distorted and – amid a host of negligible effects – the quantum conductivity of space is drastically reduced. Overall, the important effects can be summarized as follows :

   1) The altered structure of spacetime makes it far more difficult to access other dimensions and dampens ambient magical energies. External magic, invocation magic, and inter-dimensional travel are all severely reduced in potency. Magical beings, effects, devices, and powers dependent on external energy sources are drastically weakened or suspended entirely. Worse in some ways, those which do function to some extent, including personal magic, often do so erratically.

   2) The transuranic elements are deprived of the quantum flux binding potential which normally stabilizes them. Some 32 normally “stable” elements abruptly become subject to rapid radioactive decay. While the quantities involved are too small to measure by any normal means the effects are dramatically apparent due to the catalytic effects such elements normally provide.

   3) The reduced quantum conductivity inhibits energy transformations, particularly those involving intermediate energy catalysts.

 

   STAR-SEEKERS: This ancient earth species is related to the Archosaurs, specifically to the Pteranodon family. The smaller flying species did not compete with other archosaurs, they lived on fish, which had no psionic abilities to deal with, and populated marginal seaside cliff habitats that none of the more powerful species were competing for. Without evolutionary pressure to develop vast psionic powers they were free to develop larger brains and, eventually, intelligence. Even so, they never entirely abandoned their psionic heritage. While powerful compared to most sentients, they were no match for their blundering relatives. Restricted to fringe areas despite their greater intelligence, they developed an oral culture with strong philosophical and religious aspects. When they sensed the approach of the Rho-Field they departed earth, driven by a sense of rebellion against the creator who had thus deprived them of what little they had. They dedicated their race to the Mahagara, a quest throughout the cosmos to find the creator and an explanation. Few have ever returned, despite the long ages since then.

   Superheroic Law: Here are a few answers to some legal questions about supernatural and Superheroic matters…

  • Ghosts are quite common, especially if someone feels that they have unfinished business in the mortal world. They may testify in court, but have limited legal rights otherwise. You cannot deprive your heirs of assets to leave them in trust for the use of your ghost – although rules on corporeal undead are still under debate. On the other hand, binding ghosts without their consent is definitely illegal. While ghosts don’t necessarily know anything they didn’t know while they were alive – and so generally can’t effectively identify snipers and masked assailants – serial killers and such are usually much easier to find: murder victims, the insane, and suicides are far more inclined to hang around as ghosts than most people are. Most ghosts are fairly powerless (many cannot even make normal people aware of their presence), but psychics and the magically-trained may manage a bit more. A very few seem to break the normal boundaries, but this is as rare as any other form of major superhuman powers.
  • Duels to the death are generally illegal, but lesser variations – such as boxing, wrestling, and contests of magic – are acceptable methods of settling your differences. Personal bets on the outcome are also acceptable, but any form of organized or commercial combat – ultimate fighting leagues and so on – is strictly regulated, in part due to the need to separate human and superhuman combatants.
  • “Super-heroes” are encouraged to register, if only because the official insurance/compensation funds will cover incidental damages resulting from battles with super-villains. “Secret identities” are permissible, but contact information is required – if only by being given an appropriate securely-linked (and officially untraceable) beeper.
  • Age of majority is variable, depending on subspecies. Feyblooded and changelings – both rare, but hardly unknown – are usually treated as children (and look and act it) until they’re at least forty. Werecreatures and Anthromorphs are usually considered adult at fourteen or so, since they mature considerably faster than normal humans do.
  • Nonhuman sentients, including cetacea and various aliens (intelligent corporeal undead are still under debate), have fairly extensive rights UNLESS they’re a demonstrated danger to other people. The self-defense/defense of others argument carries a good deal of weight in doubtful cases.
  • Contract Law is – given the existence of mind control, transformation effects, and beings from magical realms who actually strike mystical bargains for souls or other services – a lot odder. In general, bargaining for someone’s life or soul is illegal and such contracts are legally unenforceable (demons and such use them anyway). Almost any voluntary relationship is legal. Things get fuzzy when you enter the realms of transformations (very rare and rather difficult to detect anyway) or mind control (usually short term) used to prevent someone from withdrawing their consent or to enforce a relationship. It’s generally been held to be legal if it was applied with the informed consent of the recipient and if the recipient was relatively sane and past the age of majority at the time. Otherwise its involuntary servitude, and throughly illegal.
  • Lycanthropes, thanks to their animalistic nature, the unique dangers they present with their ability to transform other people into lesser lycanthropes – and in several types, effectively enslave them – and the difficulty in controlling them thanks to their various superhuman powers, have a dual legal status. If they’re judged to be animal-mind or instinct-dominated, they’re considered enhanced animals, have extremely limited legal rights, and need an owner. Said owner is responsible for keeping them under control and – when they hit adolescence – for confining or controlling them to keep them from presenting a danger to any human adolescents in the area. Their owner can even have them put to sleep, although this usually requires that a licensed veterinarian and a judge sign off on it. Those judged to be rational – or automatically presumed to be rational due to being transformed humans – have most of the rights of a normal human (protection against assault and such is reduced, since – for a were – a few blasts from a normal shotgun are little more than “light discipline”), but turning people into subordinate lycanthropes without prior informed consent (normally from them, from a guardian with a damned good reason if they’re underage or incompetent) will often lead to the death penalty in the types that dominate lesser lycanthropes, since that’s the only known way to reliably break the submission-bond. Lesser lycanthropes are safe from this, since they lack that power anyway. In either case, their status can be judicially reviewed and changed. Of course, most of the current precedents in the field go back to the late 1800’s. Lycanthropes are normally fairly rare.

   TRANSURANICS: Elements of very high atomic number. They are created in very small quantities in the explosions of supernova or artificially by machines creating forces of similar magnitude. Unfortunately, despite their fantastic value, the energy expenditure needed to create them in even microscopic quantities is outrageous at best and prohibitive at worst. Their value is derived from their catalytic properties: even a trace of transuranics can have enormous effects. There are three major groups of transuranics, corresponding to separate “islands of stability” on the periodic table. Oddly enough, such elements are far more stable then conventional theory would suggest; the difference is attributed to an exotic effect known as “quantum flux binding potential”, a component of high-mass nuclear interactions that was not discovered until recently due to the interference of the rho-field.

   The first, and by far the most plentiful, transuranic group has such complex nuclei that their energy patterns cannot be constrained to the normal levels of spacetime. Their nuclei extend into either hyperspace, subspace, or both. This makes them vital as energy field catalysts and spacefield node elements in a vast array of ultratech devices, most of which are impossible without them. When subjected to the Rho-field most isotopes in this group have a half-life measured in days to weeks, although the first two (principally useful in the creation of extremely durable alloys, see ADAMANTIUM) can persist for several millennia. Devices using such materials will gradually break down when exposed to the Rho-field. Isotopes in this group can be manufactured in tiny quantities with sufficient effort, most effectively by psionic or magical means.

   The second group has nuclei complex enough to extend their energy patterns to the mentational level of the universe (or possibly universes). The connection they provide between the normal levels of reality and the mental level is vital in the use of psionic abilities, all such abilities require the presence of at least a few atoms of this group as catalysts if they are to function beyond the personal-energy level. When subjected to the Rho-field isotopes in this group generally have half lives measured in minutes to hours. Psionic powers usually decline at about 5 active points per hour in the field to a minimum of 10 to 15 active points for mental abilities and 0 to 5 for physical ones.

   The third group has such high nuclear complexity that the atoms begin to extend into nearby dimensions to accommodate it. As interdimensional effects underlie all magic, this group is useful as magical catalysts. Artifacts incorporating such materials are magically potent in themselves, exclusive of any auxiliary enchantments. Oddly enough, isotopes in this group either break down in microseconds or are unaffected by the Rho-field, depending on which dimensions they extend into. They become magically inert in either case.

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