The Origin describes a secret world hidden beneath our own contemporary one. An Earth where a series of unexplained, mind-bending events bequeath a small number of normal humans with outrageous, dangerous powers.
This change goes unnoticed by most. The characters of your players, however, get pulled in when they go from average to metahuman, manifesting paranormal abilities that defy sense and even control. As they attempt to gain some expertise over powers they never asked for, they must hide what they’ve become. Covert government agencies, terrorist organizations, and even more mysterious groups seek to find those with powers. Some may want to study the PCs. Others to recruit. Still others to destroy. Who can the characters ally themselves with? Whose motives can they trust? And what are the shadowy beings that seem to be attracted to metahumans like flies to honey? And at the heart of it all, what is the event that gave birth to these superhuman abilities in the first place—what is the origin?
A Surprising Transition—Right at the Game Table
Most RPG games begin with characters already in full possession of the abilities expected by the genre. Wizards know some spells, space marines have their energy blasters, and superheroes possess and know how to use their superpowers. In The Origin, we wanted to do something that isn’t done as often, by providing PCs the experience of transitioning from regular people to extraordinary ones. And even after gaining their powers, we give you optional tools for modeling how inexperience in being superpowered can sometimes be dangerous all by itself. After all, if a PC can suddenly set things on fire just by thinking about it, it will take them a bit of practice to get full control of their abilities. Even so, they’ll still probably face a few mishaps along the way.
It all starts with strange new memories—memories of an interstellar asteroid killing the Earth!
Except, of course, the Earth remains very much un-destroyed. Nor do most people remember this apocalypse, referred to as “the Crash.” The anomalous memory, however, proves to be a catalyst. During what seems like a regular game session set in a modern setting, characters experience a shocking, unexpected transformation, going from normal to super. The adventure “An Evening at the Opera” (included in The Origin) guides you on inserting this event into an ongoing encounter. Rules and advice are provided for how to keep the appearance of uncontrolled, random power manifestation a fun and instructive experience for the PCs without it actually getting out of your control.
The setting gives PCs the opportunities to explore and answer questions about what happened to our world—and to them—all while facing the many threats arrayed against them.
What Do PCs Do in The Origin?
If PCs are to survive their transformation, they’ll need to master their new powers, ally with others like themselves, and fight off a wide array of potential enemies, including covert government agents, mysterious alien abductors, and often enough, other metahumans who’ve decided to use their abilities to help themselves at the expense of everyone else.
To aid PCs in their new secret situation, a couple of helpful groups are detailed in The Origin. The most significant one—The House of Nibiru—is initially found on a dark web site. The House (as it’s often abbreviated), is a secret community of sympathetic metahumans. It welcomes PCs into the fold, advises them on how to adapt to their new situation, and warns them of the threats metahumans face. Eventually, the House asks PCs for their help. This patronage gives PCs the opportunity to rescue captive metahumans from covert government labs, safeguard the vulnerable, and put a stop to metahuman “bad apples” that are up to no good. The adventure “Appeal of Distress,” included in the book, puts the PCs on this path.
Ultimately, PCs could become involved in exploring the mystery of the Crash itself, learning about the strange series of events that gave them and other metahumans their superpowers. The final adventure included in the book—“Threshold to Apocalypse”—pulls the veil off the deepest mysteries of the campaign. PCs who learn about these mysteries also discover that not much time remains if they’re to keep their anomalous memory of the Earth’s destruction from becoming reality.
The Origin is available now in hardcover and PDF. It’s a setting for the Cypher System, and requires the Cypher System Rulebook for use. Claim the Sky, the Cypher System sourcebook for superheroes, is a great complement for The Origin.