Defenders of the City

"Earth-CC" is a Marvel Super Heroes campaign run in 2016 with the Houston-area RPG group.

This 10-episode campaign is based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has been popular in movies and television shows. While comic book properties, movies such as X-Men, Wolverine, the Fantastic Four, and even Deadpool (and notable mention Ghost Rider and Blade, although the Punisher is back on television after two failed movies) are not Marvel movie properties; each was sold over long before Marvel decided to move in the direction which allows greater control of their content. When referencing television and movies since 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe names their continuity as Earth-199999. Marvel has been very successful at denoting the different Earth’s into different realities. The comic books are mainly (but not exclusively) considered Earth-616. The movies and ABC/Netflix shows are considered Earth-199999. Even the 1990s X-Men animated series and Spider Man animated series which appeared on Fox Saturday mornings are considered Earth-92131. This continuity will be considered Earth-200000 (or Earth-CC). It is the main reality of the campaign, and is very similar to the movies and television show, but with enough differences to allow flexibility. As for what part of the MCU continuity this campaign exists, the PCs will live in a timeline that exists between Ant-Man (2015) and Captain America: Civil War (2016). The first episode was played on February 6, 2016 and continued on a weekly basis until May 7, 2016 (the day after the premiere of Captain America: Civil War), with the game sessions happening on Saturday evenings, but taking time off for various interruptions.

Campaign Setting

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a shared universe centered on a series of superhero films, independently produced by Marvel Studios and based on characters that appear in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The franchise includes comic books, short films, television series, and digital series. The shared universe, much like the original Marvel Universe in comic books, was established by crossing over common plot elements, settings, cast, and characters. The first MCU film is Iron Man (2008), which began the films of Phase One culminating in the crossover film The Avengers (2012). Phase Two began with Iron Man 3 (2013) and concluded with Ant-Man (2015). Phase Three began with Captain America: Civil War (2016) and concluded with Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019). The first three phases in the franchise are collectively known as "The Infinity Saga". The television universe was expanded with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013), followed by Daredevil (2015) and Jessica Jones (2015). The MCU includes tie-in comics published by Marvel Comics, while Marvel Studios has produced a series of direct-to-video short films, called Marvel One-Shots, and a viral marketing campaign for its films and the universe with the faux news program WHIH Newsfront.

The world is as seen on movies and television, and the population has accepted the existence of "enhanced" or "meta-humans", aliens from outer space, and "gods" who walk the Earth. The Earth-CC builds upon that continuity and adds characters and adventures specific to this campaign. The responsibility of the players is to not use information seen on screen as common facts for making decisions. For example, neither the heroes nor the rest of the Earth are aware of the existence of Thanos, only that aliens tried to attack New York in 2012. However, characters who create a background involving interstellar travel might have heard of the mad Titan while in deep space. The same goes for the happenings on Asgard, inside the offices of S.H.I.E.L.D., nor Stark Tower, unless their character is privy to those specific instances.

During a meeting of the Avengers, Vision states “Our very strength incites challenge. Challenge incites conflict. And conflict... breeds catastrophe.” Other individuals and groups have not taken the rise of super-powered beings and alien invasions lightly. Much like any new fad diet or alluring got-to-have-it cellphone, the world is fascinated by this revelation in powers. While most people are content with the lives they led before the Chitauri incident, others are actively looking for ways to gain power for themselves, or at least to profit from this new normal. Academic and scientific studies involving genetics, energy, and weapons has increased ten-fold. Online shopping and the black market are rife with those selling possibilities of enhancement or potential items of power. Young inventors are working on piecing together the next alien-stopping exoskeleton, while soon-to-be parents wonder about the “what-ifs” of raising a child who might develop abilities. Those who are not satisfied with the considerable wealth they already have might be looking for other aspects of power. While murders and world politics still dominate the headlines, news organizations now have an infallible news lead in the source of super-heroes.

The world continues aware of meta-humans and aliens, hoping that four-color costumed heroes will do good and wondering if the disasters in New York City and Sokovia are just the beginning.

Player Characters

The design of this campaign is character-based on the backdrop of the plot-driven Marvel Cinematic Universe. At the outset of the campaign, each player will start with one character with the Games Master encouraging the players to create individuals who have been bestowed with great powers and abilities, and subsequently have a great responsibility. All Origins are available with the discretion of the Games Master to help blend what we know so far in the MCU and what can be done to create original characters of their own. All characters start with the following stats to distribute as needed: Monstrous, Amazing, Incredible, Remarkable, Excellent, Good, and Typical. Three powers (Amazing, Incredible, Remarkable) and three Talents are also given for starting characters. Any modifications to this primer are made on a case by case basis (for example, power armor or alter-egos). Karma points are awarded using the tools provided in the Judge's Book. 

Important NPCs

The scope of this campaign occurs primarily on the Earth detailed in the MCU with several exceptions for the Earth-CC universe. Several player characters have contacts with current personalities and organizations in the MCU universe, and each NPC offers a different significance to the campaign. Minor NPCs tended to add enrichment to the main plot points, while major NPCs offered a perspective which either complements the players or adds an adversarial aspect to the campaign. Due to the scope of the campaign, actions of the players sometimes dictated the importance of NPCs to their characters' lives, but if these NPCs were specific characters in the MCU universe, they would most likely stay on the path seen in theaters and on television. For instance, even though Hulk/Bruce Banner disappeared at the end of Age of Ultron and does not appear in Civil War, this did not mean he dropped his position with the Avengers so he could adventure with the player characters, using his unearthly strength while staying out of sight.

At the outset of the campaign, the PCs started out in Houston, TX thwarting an attempted kidnapping of a captured bilgesnipe at the Houston Zoo during a pre-Super Bowl party. Although their origins were unique, the remnants of a S.H.I.E.L.D. division saw an opportunity for these individuals and their exceptional abilities to help with the current rise of enhanced humans in the United States and abroad. Using the clandestine resources of S.H.I.E.L.D, this group would be a covert action group, essentially a secondary counterpart to the Avengers.

Episode Guide

Each weekend the players assembled to play what has been designated as an episode. The characters initially were brought together by circumstance, all either investigating or being invited to a Pre-Super Bowl event occurring at the Houston Zoo. Later, the group is assembled by representatives of S.H.I.E.L.D. as a covert team working to take on privately the threats a public-team like the Avengers cannot do. Each week, a recap of the most recent episode’s happenings was posted to allow those who have been missing for many or few episodes to get a feel for what they had missed. Any postings on this website would be the same information given out each week via Facebook, although much of the personal commentary was left out. Players wishing to join the Facebook group called Gamers needed to speak with the DM directly.

Places of Note

The adventures of Earth-CC are not what is seen in the movies and television of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but of other less-publicized adventures happening at the same time. Much the campaign happens in the continental United States with brief excursions out of the country. Although places mentioned in MCU movies and television are available for visit (even Ant-Man explored Avengers’ Headquarters), the primary scope of the campaign is to go beyond what is familiar and investigate other sites not yet mentioned. A map was created to give the players a visual aspect of where their characters are traveling to and from. Most information about towns and cities in the are can be found on various online resources.

Rules and Redundancy

The main goal of the campaign is to have fun. Unfortunately, there are times when rules can come into conflict when players are attempting to achieve their goals. House Rules allowed for situations like these to be mitigated when there was insufficient information to deal with specific encounters.

Weapons Locker

Core rule books contain a plethora of melee and ranged weapons for the players to choose from. However, there are times when the characters encounter weapons and items of power that go beyond the scope of what is readily available for purchase. Herein lies an inventory of non-standard items encountered throughout the campaign, from the mundane to the spectacular.

Defenders of the City by Akash Ahuja, Important NPCs by Martin Malchev, Places of Note by Carol M. Highsmith

Artwork for Akash Ahuja on this page falls under Vecteezy License Agreement.

Artwork for Martin Malchev on this page falls under Shutterstock Enhanced License.

Artwork for Carol M. Highsmith on this page falls under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.