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November 3, 2006

Agents of Freedom Design Journal #1

This week in Super-Vision we take our first look at the upcoming Agents of Freedom sourcebook by author Scott Bennie.

Larger than life soldiers have been a staple of the comics since World War II, when books like Captain America placed super-soldiers on the beaches of Normandy, fighting the good fight on behalf of liberty. Over six thrilling decades later, the genre is still with us. Iconic men with machine guns still charge enemy positions, battle cries are heard over the sound of exploding shells, and the bad guys�now terrorists instead of the Axis�still scream and retreat in the face of a determined heroic assault.

Agents of Freedom is about these soldiers, the howling heroic commandos who won the war and kept on charging. It is about bad guys who are genuine threats to democracy, the bizarre things they do, and how an odd bunch of ragtag agents band together to stop them. It is about SHADOW�one of the biggest threats to the World of Freedom�and their plans for conquest. And it is about you, the heroic men and women who will stand directly in the path of their nefarious schemes and stop them dead in their tracks!

Agents of Freedom is divided into three basic sections. Chapter 1 is an overview of the agent genre and how to organize a game. Chapter 2 through Chapter 5 describe some of the most prominent agencies in the world of Freedom City, presenting background details the Gamemaster can incorporate into their campaigns. Chapter 6 is a Gamemaster resource on agents, followed by an introductory adventure.

Chapter 1: The Agent Character
This chapter gets your Agents of Freedom campaign started, with guidelines on power levels, abilities, skills, feats, and powers, including an equipment list. The unwritten rules of the genre are presented, as well as guidelines for agency sub-genre games. Finally, a list of archetypes and campaign sub-types is provided.

Chapter 2: STAR Squad
The elite police officers of Freedom City are the STAR Squad; some bright, some tarnished, these paragons in blue fight a lonely and thankless battle against the forces of evil on the mean streets of the city. This chapter describes their role in the important struggles of our times, as well as the Squad�s background, its key players, its organizational structure, and how they interact with the superheroes. Advice is also provided for running cop games in a superhero world.

Chapter 3: AEGIS
AEGIS, the American Elite Government Intervention Service, is on the front lines against terrorism and super-powered violence in the United States. Armed with the finest technology, these defenders of the American Way hold the line against the country�s enemies. But, even the brightest and the best will sometimes be consumed in shadow. This chapter describes the AEGIS organization, its goals, agents, their arsenal of fantastic equipment, their day-to-day operations, and adventuring opportunities for an excited young recruit.

Chapter 4: UNISON
UNISON is the United Nations International Superhuman Oversight Network, a group whose task varies from country to country. In most western nations, they are investigators attached to major crime organizations such as Interpol, assisting in tracking superhuman criminals and extra-dimensional and extra-terrestrial threats around the globe. In other nations, they are an aggressive peacekeeping and fighting force, with a mandate to prevent superhumans from using brute force to seize political power. As with the other agencies in this book, this chapter includes information on key players, organizational structure, weapons, and everything UNISON needs to fight evil in your campaign.

Chapter 5: SHADOW
Steeped in darkness that dates back to the dawn of time, and led by the mysterious Overshadow, for years these agents of evil were the archenemy of AEGIS and a threat to heroes everywhere. Fifteen years ago, it seemed as though they were finally defeated, leaving lesser terrorist organizations like Overthrow to take their place. However, from the shadows come hints this dormant agency has only been gathering its forces, and soon it will strike with enough force to threaten the entire globe. This chapter details the resurgent SHADOW, Overshadow, its agents, and the bizarre methods it employs to prepare itself for the ultimate plan of conquest: Operation Inundation!

Chapter 6: The Agent Series
So, you�re Gamemastering agents? This chapter assists you in that task by describing some of the pitfalls of the genre, as well as how to organize scenarios, compose briefings and design mission maps, and vary the rules to match different campaign types. Finally, there are lists of supporting cast and villain archetypes.

Adventure: Return of SHADOW
An introductory adventure concludes the book. In Return of SHADOW, a plot to assassinate a Freedom City councilman presages the reappearance of the ultimate evil: SHADOW! Can a team of AEGIS agents thwart their plot before it�s too late?