Much of our recent discussions of Champions lore have focused on the magical side of the setting. Since so much of the game's content of late has dealt with that, it's perhaps understandable. But the setting has a very extensive scientific side, so I wanted to balance things out by exploring that for a bit.
Like the mainstream comics companies' universes, Champions Earth features its share of scientific super-geniuses who have invented near-miraculous technologies, and more advanced alien societies who have left samples of their tech behind on Earth. Many comics fans have difficulty accepting that in those universes these inventions and discoveries seem to have had little or no impact on the average person. Technology in the wider world seems stuck on the same level as the real Earth. Many rationalizations have been offered for why that should be, and the Champions setting shares them to a degree: heroes guard the best tech as too dangerous to release; governments classify inventions with military or security applications or risks; many devices aren't cost-effective to mass produce; most people can't grasp the principles discovered by true geniuses or older civilizations; some inventions are irreproduceable accidents, or actually channeling the "inventor's" innate powers.
However, some of the PnP source books -- notably Champions Universe
, Champions Beyond
, and Millennium City
-- illustrate that new technologies have filtered out to the general public to some extent, and have made qualitative differences in people's lives. As this might make for a change in the "ground rules" assumptions role-players have about how the setting works, I thought it might be helpful to run down some of the more significant, obvious, or pervasive differences.
Advances in medicine and genetics have eliminated, or diminished the impact of, many diseases. Scientists have adapted cybernetic technology first developed for powered armor and similar super-technology to devices that allow people with spinal injuries to walk again, and people with neurological disorders to function without significant impairment.
Communications has advanced significantly. Throughout the United States, Europe, and many other developed or wealthy countries, virtually everyone has access to computers, smartphones, and similar devices that are easily carried, lightweight, fast, high-memory, extremely user friendly, and have extraordinarily long battery lives. Even in Third World countries, ownership of cellular phones and computers may exceed 50% of the population, thanks to advanced manufacturing processes and materials. Holography has improved to the point where Millennium City features animated three-dimensional advertising billboards.
High-tech fibers and materials discovered by superhumans, and scientists working with their data, beginning in the Sixties have led to stronger and more comfortable bulletproof vests, lightweight armored panels for military vehicles, more crash-proof civilian cars, and many similar advances.
Internal combustion vehicles and manufacturing are much cleaner and more environmentally friendly than the machines of old, and major strides have been made in the field of alternative energy. Significant efforts have been made to clean up and repair damage to the environment, and to prevent further damage going forward.
Travel, whether by air, water, or land, is quicker and safer than ever before. Flights from the East Coast of the United States to the West Coast can be comfortably completed in just two hours in some cases. The "Smart Roadway" system in Millennium City interacts with Vehicle Control Chips in all cars within city limits, allowing traffic authorities to automatically track them, and if necessary shut a car down remotely. When driving on the Millennium City Highway surrounding the city, the VCC lets a central computer take direct control of the cars, practically eliminating accidents.
While humanity is not yet colonizing other worlds in the solar system, near-space exploration is advancing rapidly. Since 1996 UNTIL has had a fully-functioning space station, GATEWAY, orbiting Earth, with up to 200 inhabitants. The United States launched its own orbital facility, the United States Space Station, in 2006. UNTIL also has the distinction of being the first entity to establish a permanently-manned base on the Moon, Moonbase Serenity, in 2000. It now has over 40 personnel. In late 2004 the United States completed work on the Venus Scientific Outpost, an orbital station designed to study the hothouse planet in detail. It has a crew of eight, six unmanned sensor drones, and three one-man vehicles capable of descending to the middle ranges of the atmosphere. The United States established Ares I, also known simply as the Mars Research Base (or “Marsbase”) in 2008. Marsbase currently houses a dozen scientists, though plans call for expanding it to almost four times that size over the next twenty years.