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> Episode Zero: Welcome to Liberty City, The Prologue
 Posted: Aug 31 2015, 03:11 PM
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One of the new features coming with the new “Next Gen” iteration will be regular updates known as “Episodes”. These will be a compilation of new features both in the story and in the way the game is played. This is the first Episode, called Episode Zero: Welcome to Freedom Square. It’s going to be a general introduction to the game, where all of our characters will begin to be developed, we will meet the big names of Liberty City and become acquainted with the factions, some of the new features will develop and be tweaked towards perfection, and where we will all blow off the dust from our fingers and get role-playing again. So, without further adieu, I present to you our prologue, Episode Zero!


There are many new features or twists on some age-old ones that will come along with Episode Zero, and this is precisely where I intend to detail all of them. I will start first with the general feel of the story and the ways some big features will be added or altered, then I’ll go into some specifics, then I’ll wrap everything up in a nice conclusion.

-The Plot-

Liberty City, a three-decade old metropolitan area, was formed by a cabal of politicians, government officials, bankers, and other notables brought together shortly after the Fall of the States who were unified in a single purpose: craft a haven in the wastes of America.

As the Cold War heated up, missiles launched and alliances instantly dissolved. Faced with nuclear destruction, many Red States broke away from the Soviet Union and dealt with violent retribution. In a desperate bid to buy leverage against the States, the Soviet Union formed a shaky alliance with the Red China nation built out of pure necessity. The democratic super-states in the West began to solidify their unions as new problems presented themselves, until the United Nations begin a new epoch and were christened as the “Union for the Preservation of Human Rights”, though they were known around the world generally as the “Council”. The Council was presided over by the strongest leaders of the strongest nations; the American, German, French, British, and Indian leaders were always among the top with the loudest and sternest voices. Towards the end, the Council would go to war with the Communist Bloc in the East, and would shatter as a result.

It began around the time of the Korean War. The United States, with new super-human military squads, crushed the North Korean and Chinese forces and turned the entire Korean Peninsula into a United States client state in all but name. With a democratic bulwark on their eastern frontier, the Chinese began to back off internationally and focused all their forces on building a nuclear arsenal and developing military forces to fight off a mainland invasion. The Republic of China (Taiwan) allied with the United States immediately following the Korean War, giving the Americans a huge advantage in the Pacific Ocean with Japan, Korea, Taiwan, minor outlying islands, and India backing most of their ventures or being directly subservient to America.

Years following, the tensions had ramped up, with many wars going on in Eastern Europe between the newly-independent nations fighting against each other, or the West/East depending where separate allegiances lie.

The tensions ramped up and eventually the United States were presented with a harsh ultimatum. Back out of the Pacific Ocean, dismantle the Council, and leave Eastern Europe, and no nuclear weapons would leave the ground. One final, last ditch effort at peace. The American political response was to give a counter-offer. They proposed to leave Eastern Europe totally if the states were allowed to vote to either return to the Soviet Union or join the European Union, or become marginally independent and neutral. The Council would remain nominal, but lose most power. And the States refused to let go of Pacific possessions.

It looked like peace was final; but a local firefight in Eastern Germany (still in the grip of the Soviet Union) ended in a large-scale people’s rebellion for democracy that was rumored to be started by a secret United States covert-ops group. As a result, missiles were deployed that were sent for the heart of several US cities: Seattle, Boston, Houston, Sacramento. Nuclear weapons were threatened to be sent to Washington, DC, New York City, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, as well as a leveling of the coasts, if new terms weren’t followed: the United States would dissolve. The terms were followed, but as “punishment” a few nuclear devices were sent to the Central Plains of America and utterly decimated the population of a few states, centered around Kansas and Missouri. Weeks later, the basic functions of the centralized government ceased to be; no Federal Reserve, no Departments of Justice or Defense, no Congress, no President. The remnants of the United States Government spread about the country. A strong core tried to revive what was left of the union and set up the Tri-State Region (DE, PA, NJ) as a meeting point for all who still rallied under the Stars & Stripes. For the others, they set out underground and changed their identities, or helped form new independent cities or other like ventures.

One such venture was the Freedom Square based around Liberty City. It was formed as a contrast to the United States of America, and strives to present an opportunity to truly live out the ideals of liberty and peace without the hindrance of international impedment. A mysterious cabal of individuals, most of their identities unknown to the public eye, designed the layout of the city in a way that would be most effective and efficient. What was delivered was the world’s first fully pre-planned city and metropolitan district. Everything in Liberty City - everything - was decided from the start.

All the major work was finished by 2000, nearly a decade into the start of the project (which began in 1992). Tens of thousands had signed up to help with construction, and were rewarded with property- some commercial, most residential. Thousands more had pledged to move to the beautiful city after it was completed, and most did so. Rapidly, the new Republic in Freedom Square became a beacon, a safe haven for all dispossessed and injured folks across the world. The lax laws and minimal taxes appealed to the masses, and the “every-vote-counts” system of government that allowed any law to be overruled by a 30% disapproval vote brought in hordes of people. As a result of the massive immigration, a thorough Census was developed with a special unit of policing forces that would keep track of all people coming in and out of the city. Energy shields block all incoming traffic from air, sea and ground, with various entrance points to admit traffic that was tracked. A small toll was paid by all new visitors or residents, but the main purpose of the checkpoints was to account for all individuals.

Things ran smoothly for the first few years, until the year 2012 when a man with great power in the economy and the city’s industrial powers was elected as a representative of the people. The first section of his term was lax as he consolidated his power; the latter portion became hectic as he slowly but surely eliminated all competition through public scandals, increasing friction between leaders and factions of individuals, and one or two cases of assassination. He followed the footsteps of Gaius Julius Caesar, and declared himself sole protector of the people and keeper of the peace. His reign began peaceful, with only those opposed to him meeting his wrath; but, gradually, his eyes set on people who had been keeping the peace. He reached his tendrils into the local underground groups- no matter how well organized the city, gangs could not be destroyed, only pacified- and began rooting out various undesirables. His “ideal” was a city with no “Communist” investment. All individuals with ties in Eastern Europe or Asia were deported or worse, under the public’s eyes. Liberty was enforced with an iron fist. All were required to vote, and all had to participate at least once a year in a government program.

Then, refugees started to be deported. All who fled to Liberty City from the Wastes or Southern Canada, or from the Western European states who were still facing off against the Soviet Union, or from the crumbling African states who had no United Nations or Council backing to help them solve the problems of imperialism or marginalism or religious differences.

The city began to look eerily like Berlin during the Third Reich. The Chancellor’s personal emblem and personage was displayed throughout the city, new monuments were erected in his honor, and guard units were formed with the sole intent of “enforcing the peace”. Strict curfews were kept, and no movement in or out of the city was allowed. It would become independent from outside trade. All goods were developed in the industrial sector, while food and agriculture came from the farmland outside.

Finally, a group known as the Resistance, which was led and aided by various renowned Supers, overcame the dictatorial government and helped dismantle all remnants of the Chancellor. Following the Revolution of 2014, they had disappeared back into the underworld, and returned with altered faces. No Supers that had joined the Resistance were seen again under that persona, for fear of being recognized and harmed by Chancellor-supporters.

In the aftermath, the City began to experiment with new political systems, until they decided to try a Council ((sorry for the redundancy, names will change and be embellished in the future)). It is not headed by any one individual, but is more of a speaking house where various business interests will express concerns and debate issues, but could not decide on any mandates without consent of the city- 70% or more have to agree, as before. Industrial leaders, scientists and philosophers, business executives, were what passed as “politicians”. “Paragons” were elected, always eleven neutral individuals who would preside over the hearings and decide when an issue would be brought to the public, or who is in the right in an argument, amongst other important tasks.

It is in this setting that you will take control of an up-and-coming Super. You can take a hand in the Council and see if you wish to help it expand, or wish to pick off the members one by one and take a role on the Council yourself. Or you can familiarize yourself with the several important factions that have major play in the city- be they a policing force, or a Super Group, or a criminal element invested in a drug or gun trade, or a political party, or a group of intellectuals, or a powerful and ground-breaking corporation.

-The Roleplay-

Very few major changes will occur with regards to the basics of the site. As before, you will take control of a Super-powered human, playing solo or in a group with a moderator acting as a Game Master, who will control NPC’s and the environment in general. You will take the role of your character and can play them as you want. If you want to curry favor with a faction and join them, that’s your perogative. You can play a pseudo-Batman who patrols the city making sure the citizens are safe, or a pseudo-Joker who does all he can to amuse his twisted sense of humor. You can delve as deep as you want into your secret identity, going so far to give your character a rich and full family and work schedule, or you can pull a Rorschach/Walter Kovacs and be nothing without your mask or costume.

This new iteration of Heroes vs Villains is putting a much greater stress on all roleplaying outside of “mission grinding”. The primary progression on the last iterations were levels, which would give you an extra power or two and generally make your character stronger and better renowned. You would level as a result of obtaining “mission credits”, a reward for completing objectives assigned by either Hero contacts (Supers, Police, etc), or Villains contacts (Criminals), with a short bout of Mercenary contacts available.

As a replacement of Mission Credits, we are offering an experimental Experience system that will have to be tweaked and perfected over the next few weeks and months. Leveling is no longer determined by how many missions you do; you can go the entire game (theoretically, though it may be sorta tough) without completing a single mission. At the end of a thread, the moderator will grade your performance and reward you with experience points. The more creative and unusual the story, generally speaking, the more experience will be earned. There will be more of a challenge to progress.

However, leveling is just that: a measurement of a character’s “experience”. The higher a character’s level, the more the player can say the character has done, but what does that mean in the game? Every level, the character will earn stat points to distribute amongst the main attributes, but other than that leveling simply unlocks newer features for the character, such as Ability Coins which open up a new Ability Slot, or the option to Join or Create a Super Group, along with more end-game features that will be released in future Episodes. For now, the level cap is set to Level 5 to keep everyone on the same level, and to prevent any premature exploitations of the new leveling system.

Along with that, there are three other general ways to progress. Stat points, earned through leveling and other outlets (TBD), allow you to develop specific character attributes and build your character one way or another. The customization of Abilities, which allows you to build and alter your powers as the game progresses, is attained through use of your powers, and experimentation with your power origin. And lastly, Reputation allows characters to become close with certain factions and gain many perks, such as new jobs, more contacts, access to their locations, among much else.

One other alteration to the game is the introduction of a class system. As it begins, it will be bare-bones with much room to develop. It is based heavily on the City of Heroes/Villains base classes, and are split into three general categories: Damage, Tank, and Support. The names define each class; Damage deals major damage, Tank has endurance to receive as much damage as possible, and Support gives the team buffs or heals them mostly. We’re trying to encourage group roleplaying, or at the very least some diversification between your character and NPC’s that you’d be playing alongside.

The combat in the game is going to work much as it has in the past. You do things, the enemy does things, we decide who stands and who dies. However, there will be one final, huge change to the game that will affect combat (if you let it).

For each thread, you can choose how much mod involvement you want. There will be three tiers to start (with some tweaks and additions or subtractions along the way to see how things can work better). You can choose to play freeform, or play with a Game Master or Story Teller. There are times when you will need to be in a specific category, but other times you will have an option and that is up to the player. ((Side note: You may discuss with a Game Master or Story Teller beforehand or during a thread to address what you want out of the story and some things you wouldn’t want, such as excessive gore or a character to be killed off, or an old-lady rescue midway through or something like that. GM’s and ST’s are not required to listen to your concerns and wishes, but expressing them will go a long way.))

Game Master: The moderators of the past generations. Game Masters post after the player in a single-player thread, or after every “round” of players in a multi-player thread. They have complete control over the environment, NPC’s, and how your character’s actions affect the world. The player has control over their own character’s actions and thoughts, unless hypnotized, poisoned, injured, manipulated, or otherwise impaired by an outside force. The Game Master is required when fighting boss battles, or during certain plots. Most useful during solo threads, or group threads while doing something such as raiding an enemy base, or patrolling the city; anything with a big environment that could experience much rapid, unexpected change. A unique RP experience based much on the way Dungeons and Dragons is played that presents a continual back-and-forth between player and GM, so things will never turn out as the player hoped/expected.

Story Teller: A relaxed version of a Game Master. They are not required to post after every Round of players. Story Tellers mostly serve as an impetus for action. They will introduce new NPC’s, mix up the dynamic of the thread, and add ambience to the story where needed. However, they will not control all NPC’s. NPC’s will be divided generally into two categories- restricted and open. Restricted NPC’s *must* be controlled by a GM or Story Teller, while open NPC’s can be controlled by players. Story Tellers will keep a watchful eye over a thread, and impact it whenever they wish, but will rarely have a continual, strong pull on the story. Most useful for groups of players who want some manner of control over the environment and tell the story as they wish, but also want to have the spice and excitement of an unknown, omniscient and omnipotent third-party that can completely alter the story or only add in a little flair where needed.

Freeform: An independent form of playing. You are given full control of the environment and NPC’s. This is how most other roleplaying sites operate, and we’ll try our hand at it for once in the universe. This mode is best during a solo thread where you want to develop your character, or during a dialogue between two or more PC’s.

**For the ST and FF options, moderators can still call players out for breaking any rules, such as godmodding or power-playing amongst many other things, to the point of of restarting whole threads. While you’re left mostly to your own devices, realism needs to be maintained. Your character cannot go up against an army alone and walk out unscathed, and you won’t suddenly know how to fly. Understand that while you’re left to enjoy the roleplay experience as you wish, you are still subject to the rules that keep the game running smoothly. Any additions you make to your Character or gain during your thread must be approved by a moderator.

And that about does it with the major changes to the gameplay! We’ll be clarifying, changing, and adding rules over the next few weeks, but as of the time of this post: ROLEPLAYING IS OPEN! I will personally be in charge of all modding the first few days as we all catch our bearings, and then I will appoint a staff member or two to give me an extra hand. Advertising and recruiting will begin shortly, once the site begins to look organized and friendly to new-comers. As for now, let’s start experimenting with this shin-dig.

We are starting with four regions open: The Heart, Rose Hill, Riverdale, and the Drydocks. Descriptions are posted up, with a short list of the biggest factions of that region.

For now, anyone may start roleplaying, regardless of whether or not your character is approved. The only way we're going to get everything figured out is if we start testing everything out as soon as possible. I will be the exclusive mod for the first week or so (my schedule isn't busy, so don't worry), after that I will take on an extra moderator or two.

It is advised that you start off with an "Introduction" thread, just to get used to the character. You are welcome to team up with another player and start as a group. Make the first post a large introduction to your character, their thoughts and personality, and start off with some very minor action. Be sure to include the Mod Tag in the description: [GM] for Game Master, [ST] for Story Teller, or [FF] for free-form. If you want to try out one of the new forms, you are encouraged to! Go right ahead!

Well, here goes nothing! Next Gen is officially open. Good luck, everyone!

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