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#13896278 Nov 09, 2018 at 10:20 AM
Member
224 Posts
What was the superhero situation like during the Cold War? Did Soviet and American heroes clash at points I'm asking because I have a character idea that directly relates to that era. Specifically the 60s.
#13896324 Nov 09, 2018 at 09:01 AM · Edited 3 months ago
1366 Posts
Superheroes definitely participated in actions during the Cold War, particularly the Sixties. The United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union recruited, and in a few cases even created, superhumans for both overt and covert activities by the military and intelligence services; while other prominent independent heroes sometimes clashed with their Soviet government counterparts. For example, the hero Rocketman of the famous Sentinels team was the most prominent American superhero to volunteer to serve in Vietnam, while others like Hornet openly opposed the war and became symbols to like-minded citizens. America also used several superpowered espionage agents during the geopolitical maneuvering of the period, most notably the shapeshifting Reflection (who scored numerous intelligence coups against the Russians) and the speedster Ricochet (who was killed in Paris by Bulgarian assassins acting on orders from the GRU in 1974). A few of the Soviet-era supers who opposed them are still active today, such as the members of the black-ops team Red Winter who have since gone mercenary, and the powerful "energy being" Spektr, a frequent sparring partner of America's mightiest hero, the late Vanguard.

This information about the Cold War was summarized from Champions Universe, the core lore book for the pen-and-paper game's side of the official setting. Red Winter and Spektr are fully written up for that game in the villain compendia, Champions Villains Volumes II and III, respectively.
#13897387 Nov 10, 2018 at 10:38 PM · Edited 3 months ago
1366 Posts
The Soviet Union maintained two government-controlled super teams. The People's Legion was a very public group mostly performing traditional heroics -- protecting innocents from supervillains, rescuing them from disasters, etc. Sometimes their government service brought them into conflict with Western superheroes as well. OTOH Red Winter covertly engaged in assassinations, kidnappings, sabotage, and other "black ops." The People's Legion disbanded when the Russian government ceased funding them after the Soviet Union collapsed. Some of its members retired, while others became independent heroes, or joined a private team calling themselves the Russian Defenders. As mentioned upthread, Red Winter chose as a group to become mercenaries.

Several Soviet heroes were the product of Directorate Black-12, their government's program to create superhumans to serve it. (Their successes were as mixed as similar American programs.) The Directorate was headquartered at the highly secure city of Larisgrad in the Ural Mountains, which also housed much other classified scientific research. After their government funding dried up post-Communism, the Larisagradians chose to go freelance, offering their design and construction services to the highest bidder. Today they're known in underworld circles as discreet reliable suppliers of high-quality weapons and equipment, medical treatment for unique enhanced physiologies, and other services difficult for superhumans on the wrong side of the law to obtain... although said law hasn't yet found solid proof of that.
#13897561 Nov 11, 2018 at 08:31 AM
201 Posts
I've actually wondered from time to time, Liaden - groups like Red Winter, for example, are most of them age-resistant? Red Dawn is.. is Red Dawn a robot or power armor (the Alert's never really been clear), Soviet Guard, Drago? (I know SG is meta-enhanced Captain America-style, right?)

Just a related curiosity as we're now quite far from the USSR's dissolution (much further than the books were, timeline-wise, which as I recall is somewhere 2004-2007-ish?)

#13897667 Nov 11, 2018 at 12:55 PM · Edited 1 minute ago
1366 Posts
Yeah, the thought has definitely occurred to me before -- a number of official Champions characters are getting pretty long in the tooth. The last update to the Champions Universe source book covered events through 2009, and supplementary updates have been rare. A little info about the recent CU appeared in Golden Age Champions earlier this year, but as that book is focused for WW II-era gaming there wasn't a lot for modern day. In 2007 Hero Games published Champions Universe: News Of The World, specifically to update and embellish the setting, intended to be first of a series of such books; and other revisions to source books such as Millennium City were planned. But with the company's downsizing those plans fell by the wayside.

In the case of Red Winter specifically, age doesn't appear to be a pressing issue yet. Soviet Guard, Hammer, and Sickle are all genetically enhanced, although SG to a far greater degree. Drago is bionically augmented, while White Wolf is a supernatural werewolf. Red Dawn is indeed a guy in a big powered-armor suit, which of course does most of the heavy lifting for him.

Interestingly, Red Winter are all original creations of Cryptic Studios, not Hero Games. When Steve Long was compiling the most recent Champions Villains trilogy he looked for characters from Champions Online he could adapt, and Red Winter were among several for which he created expanded backgrounds and Hero System game stats.

On the Cold War/Soviet supers/aging topic. one of the more dangerous master villains to emerge from the USSR is code-named Molnya ("lightning"), a mutant with formidable electrical powers who became one of his country's premier spymasters, but with the end of the "Great Game" decided to pursue his own self-interest, as a behind-the-scenes mastermind. Part of Molnya's mutation is greatly slowed aging -- despite being over ninety today he looks to be in his mid-thirties at most. He would surely have been encountered by Western supers during conflicts with the USSR from the 1950s and on.
#13903581 Nov 18, 2018 at 09:48 PM
1366 Posts
It should be noted that Soviet Guard, Hammer, and Sickle of Red Winter, and the independent super Spektr, were all Soviet loyalists at heart, believers in the ideals of communism, and are deeply unhappy with the nationalistic kleptocracy that modern Russia has become. They harbor dreams of returning the USSR to its former glory, and might be willing to team with someone who shared the same dream and seemed to have a workable plan to bring it about.
#13905041 Nov 20, 2018 at 05:56 PM
1366 Posts
With real-world Russia's increasing militarization and international intervention under Vladimir Putin, it seems to me that his Champions Universe counterpart would want to start recruiting or creating a new generation of supers to serve him. That could make for nemeses for Player Characters with an international focus; maybe even a PC or two who decided he/she didn't want to be beholden to the current Russian government.
#13905754 Nov 21, 2018 at 04:25 PM · Edited 3 months ago
1366 Posts
To add a little background detail which you might incorporate into your character: Directorate Black-12 (see above) produced a handful of superhumans in exchange for killing, crippling, or driving insane hundreds of “volunteer” test subjects. Spartanyets (“the Spartan,” a low-level speedster-brick with enhanced senses and military training), Nyepobyedimiy (“Invincible,” a brick), and some members of Red Winter were its best-known “graduates”; its most embarrassing failure became the supervillain Gorbun (“the Hunchback,” a matter transformer and "biomanipulator"), who’s still semi-active in the Russian underworld despite his advancing age. [Paraphrased from Champions Universe p. 143.]
#13906348 Nov 22, 2018 at 11:15 AM
Member
224 Posts
#13905041 Lord Liaden wrote:

With real-world Russia's increasing militarization and international intervention under Vladimir Putin, it seems to me that his Champions Universe counterpart would want to start recruiting or creating a new generation of supers to serve him. That could make for nemeses for Player Characters with an international focus; maybe even a PC or two who decided he/she didn't want to be beholden to the current Russian government.



Now that's a pretty cool idea!

You mentioned that the nations created their own superhumans? That kind of fits my character's concept. A United States Navy officer was put into a super soldier program of some kind and turned into basically a Superman/Captain America mix, given a patriotic codename and theme, and was sent off internationally to spy on the Soviets, skirmish with Communist-tied heroes, and even, on the side, fight some post-war Nazis.

His villain counterpart would've been a Soviet scientist, a master of genetics, who created both superhumans and monstrosities. This... of course... would have been after the Lysenkoism movement, unless that movement never existed in the Champions universe.

I know there was a thread on here before that listed the various superhuman projects in the Champs universe. Do you have a link to that?

#13906521 Nov 22, 2018 at 11:38 AM · Edited 3 months ago
1366 Posts
I know there's a post somewhere that listed the various projects, but I can't find it now. I'll just redo it here. Most of the data below is paraphrased from Champions Universe, with some taken from the Champions Villains trilogy, Golden Age Champions, and UNTIL: Defenders Of Freedom.

During WW II the demon-possessed mystic Der Totenkopf ("the death's-head"), in charge of Nazi Germany's superhuman assets, performed numerous experiments on volunteer soldiers to attempt to create superhumans, combining occult rituals with "weird science" contributed by several researchers, including a young Albert Zerstoiten (the future Dr. Destroyer). They had a handful of successes amid many horrific and fatal failures, a couple of which survived WW II.

The United States responded with Project Achilles and Project Ascension, which each had one success, the heroes Achilles and the Comet, both killed during the war.

In the late 1960s Project Perseus developed a process to significantly augment a human's physical and mental prowess, although not to superhuman levels. That process was used to create the series of government heroes using the code-name, the All-American.

In 1977 Project Yeoman succeeded in granting low-level superhuman strength and toughness to six Navy Seals, who formed the first Ameriforce One and went on numerous covert missions, until all were killed in action in 1983. (At least they're believed to have all been killed.) 😉

In 1986 or shortly thereafter, the Cyberline process was developed to augment physical abilities in genetically-compatible people to low-superhuman levels. It was adopted by the newly-formed PRIMUS to create its Golden Avenger and Silver Avengers. The need for daily "booster" treatments to maintain Cyberline's benefits is probably the reason it wasn't adopted by the military.

Project Sunburst in 1994 was an attempt by "rogue generals" to create mutated soldiers who could survive a nuclear war, by detonating a nuclear device near a group of volunteers (not told what they were really volunteering for) while they wore "protective" suits. Most of the volunteers died immediately, or soon after from radiation poisoning. A few slipped into comas, and are still held in secret storage. Some of those "awoke" with super powers; to date all such have become villains.

One of the Sunburst volunteers was apparently unaffected, but actually developed a minor brain mutation that made him the only one able to test-run the prototype powered armor developed by the army's Man Amplification Project. Unfortunately for the Army, he made off with the armor and became a mercenary supervillain, calling himself Armadillo.

Project Onslaught in 1998, based on splicing human and animal DNA, resulted in one hero, code-named Janissary, although the process left him prone to impulsiveness and violence. He was killed while deployed to Iraq. A more severe version of that side-effect led another subject to take up a villainous career under the name Onslaught.

The American military continues its research to develop a means to reliably create superhumans, as well as more effectively control them, primarily through their top-secret Department 17. D17's recent research has focused on trying to improve the Cyberline process. Note that one past recipient of Cyberline developed permanent powers, probably due to a latent mutation. The records of that accident were stolen by Soviet spies and used by Directorate Black-12 to create the Soviet Guard.

In either the early 1980s or late 1990s (the official lore is inconsistent on this point), UNTIL attempted its own Future Soldier Program to enhance its agents. Most of the volunteers suffered severe physical and/or mental disabilities. One subject avoided mental breakdown while gaining the desired physical abilities, and still serves UNTIL today under the code-name Gladiator. Another volunteer was physically augmented, but developed rampant paranoia and fled UNTIL to become the supervillain Scimitar.

Before and during the Iraq War Saddam Hussein partnered with the (fictional) Middle Eastern state of Awad to attempt to create superhumans. The program produced only one, Saddam's personal bodyguard Turs al-Sh’ab (“the Shield of the People”). At last report Awad had secretly offered the director of UNTIL's Future Soldier Program millions of dollars to bring his expertise to Awad to revive their project, since his superiors at UNTIL had cancelled the FSP.

Another fictional rogue state, Chiquador in South America, has been conducting secret superhuman-creation experiments with the assistance of ARGENT. They have succeeded in augmenting physical abilities, but so far haven't been able to avoid severe mental side-effects.

More info on any of the above available upon request. 😇 Please keep in mind that this list need not be exclusive. Obviously many countries would have long desired to make their own supers, and even America could have had more projects than the ones mentioned here.
#13906646 Nov 22, 2018 at 05:41 PM
Member
224 Posts
Sooo it would make more sense if that supersoldier character created in the mid 60s wasn't exactly superman/"paragon" strength. I mean, there are exceptions of course, but I dont want to be deemed a Mary Sue, lol.

The All-American project sounds close to what I was getting at? Is there any book that talks about it in detail?
#13906648 Nov 22, 2018 at 02:50 PM
201 Posts
There is one more option that comes to mind, awful as it was: Project Next Generation (I forgetit's actual German name) which was run by Nazis in South America until being shut down by Rowan and the local governments somewhere in the 80s. Focused mostly on children and teenagers, but I doubt they'd passed up a captured victim, especially given their awful failure rate.
#13906661 Nov 22, 2018 at 03:21 PM · Edited 3 months ago
1366 Posts
#13906646 Nyak wrote:

Sooo it would make more sense if that supersoldier character created in the mid 60s wasn't exactly superman/"paragon" strength. I mean, there are exceptions of course, but I dont want to be deemed a Mary Sue, lol.

The All-American project sounds close to what I was getting at? Is there any book that talks about it in detail?



Well, one of the shticks that often crops up in the CU is the "latent mutation," someone with the dormant genetic potential for super powers that's stimulated by some external event, e.g. exposure to chemicals or energy. It's entirely possible that someone exposed to the Perseus treatments could have had that potential unintentionally awakened. Superman or Hulk level? Probably not. Luke Cage level? Not at all unreasonable. That's essentially what happened to "Liberty Guard," the one I mentioned above who gained permanent powers from exposure to Cyberline, even stronger than the Golden Avenger.

The most info about the military's Project Perseus appears in the origin story of the All-American, most recently printed in Champions Universe. To put it succinctly, Dr. Herman Olafson had developed a difficult (and expensive) mix of drug therapies, radiation treatments, and specialized physical and psychological training, to significantly boost the body and mind of a subject. The military wanted a patriotic symbol of America, and decided the Perseus treatments were sufficient, at least when paired with advanced gadgets. In fact, they thought the hero not actually being superhuman would make him more relatable to the common man.

Since 1969 at least six people have been chosen to wear the identity of the All-American, including one woman. What may be of interest to you is that Dr. Olafson had several test subjects for Perseus, before one of them, Gerald Thomaston, was picked by the Pentagon as most suitable to become their official super hero. Nothing is mentioned of what became of the other subjects. 😈
#13906663 Nov 22, 2018 at 03:27 PM · Edited 3 months ago
1366 Posts
#13906648 Manhunter wrote:

There is one more option that comes to mind, awful as it was: Project Next Generation (I forgetit's actual German name) which was run by Nazis in South America until being shut down by Rowan and the local governments somewhere in the 80s. Focused mostly on children and teenagers, but I doubt they'd passed up a captured victim, especially given their awful failure rate.



Yeah, I don't even have the German characters on my keyboard to spell that properly. ☺ In any case, yes, the experiments run on young superhumans by those monsters might fit the time frame; but that's most suitable for a character with a tragic background who's had to overcome traumatic experiences. That Project is described briefly in Teen Champions, but we can go into it more here if that interests you.

The other possible complication I can think of, is that if someone escaped the Project and became a hero in the 1960s, it's hard to imagine him not blowing the whistle on it to the authorities long before it was finally shut down.
#13906755 Nov 22, 2018 at 08:59 PM
201 Posts
#13906663 Lord Liaden wrote:

#13906648 Manhunter wrote:

There is one more option that comes to mind, awful as it was: Project Next Generation (I forget it's actual German name) which was run by Nazis in South America until being shut down by Rowan and the local governments somewhere in the 80s. Focused mostly on children and teenagers, but I doubt they'd passed up a captured victim, especially given their awful failure rate.



Yeah, I don't even have the German characters on my keyboard to spell that properly. ☺ In any case, yes, the experiments run on young superhumans by those monsters might fit the time frame; but that's most suitable for a character with a tragic background who's had to overcome traumatic experiences. That Project is described briefly in Teen Champions, but we can go into it more here if that interests you.

The other possible complication I can think of, is that if someone escaped the Project and became a hero in the 1960s, it's hard to imagine him not blowing the whistle on it to the authorities long before it was finally shut down.


Wolverine-style amnesia is a classic for military heroes. 😎
#13906766 Nov 22, 2018 at 09:21 PM
1366 Posts
#13906348 Nyak wrote:

His villain counterpart would've been a Soviet scientist, a master of genetics, who created both superhumans and monstrosities.



#13905754 Lord Liaden wrote:

Directorate Black-12's most embarrassing failure became the supervillain Gorbun (“the Hunchback,” a matter transformer and "biomanipulator"), who’s still semi-active in the Russian underworld despite his advancing age.



Given that's all the official info likely to ever be provided about Gorbun, I would say he can readily be made to fit your description, should you wish it.
#13907302 Nov 23, 2018 at 04:55 PM
Member
224 Posts
#13906766 Lord Liaden wrote:

#13906348 Nyak wrote:

His villain counterpart would've been a Soviet scientist, a master of genetics, who created both superhumans and monstrosities.



#13905754 Lord Liaden wrote:

Directorate Black-12's most embarrassing failure became the supervillain Gorbun (“the Hunchback,” a matter transformer and "biomanipulator"), who’s still semi-active in the Russian underworld despite his advancing age.



Given that's all the official info likely to ever be provided about Gorbun, I would say he can readily be made to fit your description, should you wish it.


Ooh. I can't find my Champions Universe 6e book at the moment, but I'm assuming there isn't a stat sheet or physical description of Gorbun in one of the books, is there? 🙄
#13907363 Nov 23, 2018 at 04:34 PM
1366 Posts
#13907302 Nyak wrote:

Ooh. I can't find my Champions Universe 6e book at the moment, but I'm assuming there isn't a stat sheet or physical description of Gorbun in one of the books, is there? 🙄



I'm afraid not. If you want to break down what Gorbun might be able to do in Hero System terms, and have access to the Champions Villains trilogy, particularly Volume 3: Solo Villains, I would suggest using the villain Fleshtone from Vol. 3 as a template; maybe mixing in elements of Fleshtone's "creation," Grotesk, from the same book. Fleshtone has the power to "sculpt" living tissue at will, in many positive or negative ways, which could cover what you want to use Gorbun for. But if his powers don't work on himself, he could have been left deformed like Grotesk, either as a result of an experiment or an accident at Directorate Black-12. That would give him motivation to eventually become a villain, making "superhumans and monsters" for criminals for pay, rather than swelling the ranks of Soviet government supers. In fact it would be a self-limiting factor if the only kind of super-powered creatures he can create are hideous monsters.
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