Last time, I laid out the general plan for my Cosmic Invasion campaign where aliens are headed for Earth and it’s up to your superheroes to gather together an army to meet them from the supers of the world. Next up? How the heck you might actually accomplish that.
To organize this globe-sized campaign, there are four different threads of missions for the heroes to pursue. Each thread goes through three Phases until the final Endgame comes and the aliens actually get there. These threads will all be talked about in turn but starting off, we’re going to tackle what might be the most obvious thread to pursue: recruitment!
The Recruiting Allies Thread
In order to meet the alien invasion, you’ve got to get people together to help you. Of course, the heroes are PL 11 which makes them some of the more powerful folks around. With this in mind, we should qualify what you’re actually doing here: the PCs are gathering a force together but they ideally needs a competent and qualified force. This is much more difficult.
Thread: Recruiting Allies
Phase I: Low-Hanging Fruit
|Allied National Teams|
Phase II: Winning Over the Unlikely
Phase III: Prepare Defenses
The first phase is the easiest to tackle so it makes sense to attempt those first to start off with successes and also because other people should rightly ask who they already have onboard. The PCs will be running around the world approaching various groups to join what the UN is calling the Palladion Initiative in defense of the Earth. As I mentioned last time, the major objection NPCs will voice is that in the event of an alien invasion they should be defending their homes and not running around on some jury-rigged UN project.
The first two Phases really consist of a lot of roleplaying, sometimes with combat encounters to spice things up. In the end, this will come down to Persuasion or Intimidation check (depending on the PCs’ approach) with the DC starting at 15 and adjusted depending on how well the PCs make their case. It’s impossible to go through every possible ally on the Master List (even discounting your own homebrew creations) so instead I recommend coming up with 1-3 concerns that a potential ally might have ahead of time (or in the few minutes after the players suggest going to see them). For every concern the PCs adequately address the DC drops by 2 but for every one they dismiss the DC increases by 2.
For Example: The national Irish hero Sean MacRoth might be concerned about his country’s isolation and vulnerability and not want to leave. He also might express distaste at working with heroes from mainland Europe because of past disagreements. If the PCs say that they’ll make sure Ireland is well-secured in the event of invasion the DC drops to 13. They might just tell him to “suck it up” and forget his differences with European heroes. They could bully him into humility in which case the DC drops again to 11 but if they end up making him defensive and angry the DC could go up to 15 again.
Superhero stories are, at their core, action tales which means doing a bunch of politicking can get old. Sprinkled among their globetrotting adventures, therefore, should be combat scenes to keep it all lively. This might be part of the recruitment (“you were a good ally in that fight, maybe we can work together”) or it might be extra. There are more combat-oriented threads too that can serve this role.
Allied National Teams
There are some national teams that will likely help as soon as they are clued in, something that will be the easiest of the recruitment missions. While nationally-focused, these are forces that have worked on global threats in the past and these should be no-brainer options. It will require a personal visit, though, since they can also be swayed by others (see “Rival Initiative” below).
- The Homeguard will join, and likely want to run the show.
- Team Canada and Les Supérieurs will join in, putting aside their negative feelings towards each other.
- The Freedom League, the Sentinels, the Atom Family, and the Watchguard, while city-based teams and not national ones, are used to operating on a global scale and will be easy to bring around.
- The Bundesguard often works as a peacekeeping team throughout the European Union so they will be willing to work internationally.
- Eager to prove that Russia has changed, the national hero Bogatyr is willing to sign onto an international effort.
It might seem counter-intuitive but it’s actually harder to convince international teams than national ones. Many teams already operate internationally and are happy to join the fight but they consider their existing relationship to be good enough. In order to convince them to potentially leave their chosen region will take some diplomacy.
- SASHA and the Champions of West Africa cooperate well with each other and will gladly extend that cooperation to other teams if offered the chance.
- The Southern Stars operate internationally with many different cultures and are sure to see the advantage in working together.
- The Watchtower Group has connections throughout the Indian Ocean and a broad perspective on these things.
Solo heroes working on a global scale often have little holding them back and should be easy to convince to join a global initiative. They are harder targets, though, which means a little more challenging than the previous tasks.
- Britannia has worked with heroes all over the world in the past and will definitely do so again.
- Gallus (a French version of Briton from the Watchguard universe) is also willing to work with international heroes, though he has to give his government a good reason.
- Piroclasto has worked throughout Central America and could be talked into expanding that range.
- Stella d’Argento would work with other global heroes if she receives the right pitch.
- Sean MacRoth is decidedly a national hero but his focus is so international given that his awareness has been extended so broadly.
- Al-Kidhr has many friends throughout the world and will come to their aid if they ask.
- Ajax has a European focus but that can be shifted to a global one with a convincing argument.
- Asa has fought world-ending events for his whole existence and will do so again this time.
- Normally, Viento Negro wouldn’t be considered a “global hero” but she’s earned the respect of the Star Knight so if Maria Montoya joins with the PCs she could be part of the deal. Considering her connections with Tiajuana she is a good way to involve the Lor refugees there and the hero Talachas who is part of the Seven Ronin’s coallition.
Some national teams and some city-based teams are not as keen to join in efforts so far from home. If there’s a threat coming to Earth, after all, shouldn’t they be with their people?
- The Guarda Nacional and Los Libertadores have a lot to look after at home. They will be loathe to leave their countries in this time of need.
- La Ligue des Héros du Québec has been marginalized for decades, and now you want their help?
- The First Nations shaman Chris Sault would be a powerful ally but he considers involvement with the wider world carefully before putting himself in the middle.
- When given the chance to work on the national stage, Instant Karma is willing to give it a try. They need to be assured they won’t be just canon fodder, though.
- The Four Horsemen are integral to the safety of Kazakhstan, not to mention the rest of Central Asia, and they are unwilling to leave without good reason. Oculus is even harder to convince since he has seen interstellar threats before and dealt with them.
- The Peoples’ Guard, what’s left of them, are focused on their home nation. They don’t want to just take off and leave Russia to fall to chaos, especially if Bogatyr has already joined.
- The heroes of Dakana in Africa and Warrangina in Australia are likely to focus on their own concerns, as they’ve done for centuries, and let the rest of the world fend for themselves.
- Hex and Monolith are established in New York, although they have enough power to work globally.
- Replica, Vendaval, Cadejo Negro, and Cadejo Blanco are all concerned with parts of Central America and aren’t willing to leave the region to fall to pieces while the rest of the world is saved.
- The Oathkeeper’s broad temporal perspective is actually a detriment in this case since he can see futures where the world resists the Regent and is more concerned with protecting Nepal.
- Gibli and Griff Noire will be very hard sells without pitches from other North African heroes.
- Aziz is willing to help an international effort, but if he feels tokenized or sidelined he’ll walk.
- Megastar will join whichever initiative will get him the most screentime, whether the PCs’ or the rival initiative.
Once the easy targets have been recruited, it’s time to start scraping the barrel. Some groups of criminals are powerful enough that it just might be worth working with them to save the planet.
- Los Cuatros Mensajeros are cruel and evil villains, but they’ve got a lot of firepower and they have just as much to lose if the world is destroyed.
- The Eightfold Web also has much to lose from the Regent’s attack and they have international connections that might prove useful.
- The Nefarious Nine, long-time foes of Canadian superheroes and teams, are formidable foes. Maybe they should be formidable allies?
- The BlackGuard, enemies of the WatchGuard, might also make uneasy allies.
The Seven Ronin in Japan, eager to make a name for themselves, are forming their own initiative. They aren’t opposed to working with the heroes’ but it would be better to have one cohesive force. Also, they want to be in charge. In addition to any big groups that the PCs missed in Phase I, the Ronin have gathered the following teams to their cause.
- Askari, Inc. was approached with the language of business and they just see the Ronin Initiative as the smarter play.
- The Supreme Team knows the Ronin and owes them assistance. If they aren’t working for their friends then they might just go back to Southeast Asia and mind their own part of the globe.
- Enigma Force is also alright with international cooperation but they were first approached by the Ronin through pre-existing connections and have signed on with their initiative.
- The Australian government has agreed to ally Blue Ensign with the Ronin to strengthen better relations with Japan.
- Talachas has connections with Enigma Force who brought him in and he thinks this might be his chance to gain real fame and establish himself as a hero who knows about alien matters. He’s less likely to be interested in joining a larger initiative where his part will be lost.
Also, Atlantis, Amphitris, and the Lyonesseans are more concerned with the oceans and will likely form their own alliance. They will be united no matter what and so they’ll need to be approached as a group and convinced that, despite centuries arguing the contrary, the surface nations want to help them and will protect the oceans from harm.
There are a few groups that will clash at this point if they’re both in the Palladion Initiative. In addition to anything that came up during the recruitment roleplaying, here are some specific concerns.
- Team Canada and Les Supérieurs have a rivalry that’s only “friendly” in the media and could boil over. Neither has particular problems with the LHQ, but the Québecois team holds grudges and they’ve had some difficult arguments with the others before.
- All three Canadian teams might leave if the Nefarious Nine are brought onboard.
- Central American heroes could easily fight los Cuatros Mesajeros on sight.
- No one is going to like working alongside the Eightfold Web or the BlackGuard. The WatchGuard will be most vocal about the latter and might walk if forced to work with them.
- While they’re willing to work together, the Freedom League and Enigma Force have some differences in philosophy and might stop cooperating under pressure.
- While Bogatyr has nothing but respect for the older heroes of the Peoples’ Guard, they see her as a young usurper and might not work well with her.
- The Southern Stars have bad blood with both Blue Ensign and the aquatic citizens of Amphitris for different reasons. These Australasian groups might well be at each other’s throats if forced into close proximity.
Also, historical crimes might come back to haunt a worldwide effort. Heroes from Central and South America might be reticent to work with European teams, and African teams have plenty of reason to suspect they might be taken advantage of. Groups from the United States might assume they’ll be in charge while other groups might assume that they’ll assume that… Either way, frustrations about American arrogance might crack the initiative.
Ground and Orbital Defenses
This is where things get a little mechanical. In the Endgame part of this campaign you’ll see how the battle itself will go but at this point you just need to decide who is going to be where when the aliens arrive. Consider the later post for details but for now consider the following.
- Heroes fight best when they are near their homes but, as the Romans found out, if they’re too close they might just run home instead of following the plan. Ideally their in the same region but not right by their homes.
- Having a few concentrated forces is powerful but leaves a lot of the planet vulnerable while having a spread out alliance ensures costly fights everywhere. You might go somewhere in the middle or just accept the consequences.
- If the players made promises earlier in the campaign while recruiting, their allies will expect them to follow through. If they don’t, there will be issues.