Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Earth-3 Project: Prospectus

If you're a fan of DC comics to any significant extent then you've probably heard of either Earth-3 or the Crime Syndicate of America. If you haven't then head over to and start info-binging. 

Anyway, many many years ago back when I still used forums, someone on the Atomic Think Tank was recruiting for an Earth-3 one-shot game. There were some pretty good character submissions, like The Puffin (heroic version of The Penguin), Sureshot (heroic version of Deadshot), and The Man-Owl (heroic version of The Man-Bat). Ever since then, I've had intermittent thoughts about such a game. In fact, about two years ago I actually started writing things out. I had a nice little file with a rough history and bios for several heroic Earth-3 versions of DC villains. Then the external HD all this info was stored on decided to die. 

I'm finally going to try to pick up the pieces and charge forward again with Mutants & Masterminds Earth-3 material.This will hopefully be the first post of many. I'm more familiar with the 2nd Edition of Mutants & Masterminds but I have the 3rd Edition books too; any characters I present will be statted for both systems. And if people ask really nicely I can also stat characters in GURPS Supers 3rd Edition (don't judge me, I love dead trees). This post is basically just going to be an overview of my goal and core concepts.

Kinda like this but slightly less goofy.


1) Make a setting suitable for long-term play.
"Mirror morality" worlds share the same problem that D&D's Ravenloft did: They're basically treated as a throwaway place for "weekend in hell" scenarios. I want to be able to give people enough information to go beyond that. What is life like on the ground? How do the governments of the world react to the Syndicates? What do aliens, etc. think of this Earth? I want to answer those questions, even if I have to answer them vaguely.

Core Concepts:

1) Drawing on all of the many interpretations of the CSA/Earth-3. 
You can bet that I'm going to swiping stuff left and right for all the myriad versions of Earth-3 and the Syndicate to form my own personal version. Owlman will basically be straight out of JLA: Earth-Two, Johnny Quick will combine traits from JLA: Earth-Two and Forever Evil, and Superwoman will be lifted from Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.

2a) Not a world of reversed morality.
While many people who are traditionally heroes on other DC Earths are instead villains and vice versa, Earth-3 is basically just like the baseline DC Earth (or Earth). People generally think that treating other people decently and sticking to your principles are admirable traits. Robbery and murder are still considered bad things. People are people.

2b) Sometimes evil is still evil and good is still good.
The serial killer Victor Zsasz is still an evil bastard on Earth-3. By the same token, Jon and Martha Kent are still good people.

2c) Heroes and Villains of circumstance.
Just because someone is part of the Crime Syndicate or the Justice Underground doesn't necessarily mean that he's a "bad guy" or "good guy". Ralph Dibney, The Elastic Man, only aids the Crime Syndicate because Owl-Man holds his wife hostage. Gorilla Grodd aids the Justice Underground because he believes that it is only with their help that he can crush the Syndicates and then conquer the world for himself.

3) There are some elements of the "normal" DC universe present.
Just because Earth-3 is "corrupted by anti-matter" or whatever doesn't mean that everything has to be different. There's still a Green Lantern Corps in Earth-3, although they are much more legalistic and only care about interplanetary laws and not intraplanetary laws; Sinestro's dictatorship on Korugar is well-known but the Guardians of Oa don't care because he still enforces their laws. Likewise, The New Gods wage a celestial war here, although both Darkseid and Highfather are not nearly as interested in this particular Earth. 

4) There's always something going on.
The US alone has at least three Syndicate-related organizations (the Crime Syndicate of America, the Crime Society of America, and the Young Offenders) and several more anti-Syndicate organizations (the Justice Underground, Extreme Justice, the Doom Patrol, and the Suicide Squad). Almost every country has their own splinter movements, cells, and derivatives of both the Syndicate and the Underground.

5) There's always a chance to change the world in at least a small way.
A corollary to the previous point. A metahuman might not be able to oust the CSA from the US but he can swing down to Peru or Colombia and take out local Syndicate affiliates, giving Justice Underground cells and local movements the opportunity to win their freedom while simultaneously . Or a Syndicate member can do the opposite. 

6) The Crime Syndicate of America is not all-powerful.
While the "Big Five" of the CSA are probably the most powerful metas on Earth, they aren't the unquestioned rulers of the world. The Crime Syndicate of Europe has weaker metas but compared to the CSA's average power level they're stronger; a head-to-head fight between the CSE and CSA would leave most of both organizations dead minus the CSA's Big Five, who would then be open to assault from the world's other big Syndicate. Headed by a mysterious creature said to be as strong as Ultraman, the Greater East Asian Co-Delinquency Sphere runs Asia. The CSA's Big Five believes that the Sphere's leadership is almost as strong as they are; thus, a war against the CSE would lead to an immediate war with another healthy Syndicate, one that a battle-wearied CSA might not win. The three Syndicates have therefore settled into a cold war.

7) The Syndicates actually do protect Earth to an extent.
The Syndicates have a vested interest in making sure that Earth doesn't suddenly explode or get eaten by Cthulhu or such; to paraphrase The Tick, Earth is where they keep (or at least get) all their valuables. On rare occasions such as when Johnny Sorrow is trying to screw everyone over or Darkseid decides to invade, the Syndicates and their enemies (like the Justice Underground) will even put aside their differences, call a truce, and save the world.

We'll see how this crazy project goes.

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