RTJ: Setting Information.   Posted by Lxndr.Group: public
Lxndr
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Mon 17 Apr 2017
at 02:42
RTJ: Setting Information
Note that this is inspired by the Wild Cards series of books.  But you don't need to know anything about it beyond what's here.  I've diverged from canon, creating an alternate history. I might add some "easter eggs" for people who know the series, but those won't be necessary.

I diverged in 1999, the year is currently 2027, so you can be in your late 30s without needing to know what came before.



On September 15, 1946, shortly after 3:00pm, xenovirus takis-A, or the "wild card virus," fell like a warm spring rain on the streets and buildings of New York, and the world was forever changed. That first day, ten thousand people died. Over two thousand became the misfits that we know as jokers. And a blessed few gained powers never before seen, becoming the first superheroes, those individuals known as aces.

For every wild card manifestation that results in an ace, ten more manifest as jokers. For every wild card manifestation that results in a joker, ten more manifest as Black Queens, dying. For every living joker or ace, there are four or five more people with the virus sitting latent in their DNA, waiting for it to go off. For every one latent, there are ten carriers, holding the gene recessively in their body, normal humans to all appearances but with the potential to pass the virus on to future generations.

Before the turn of the century, around 1994, a secret society called the Card Sharks created the Black Trump, a disease that was supposed to wipe every wild card off the map - ace, joker, latent, carrier. That pissed a lot of people off, and some wanted to get even. Somehow, the Twisted Fists (a joker's rights terrorist organization) managed to get their hands on some of this "Necrovirus."

(This is where the divergence kicks in. Black Trump was published in 1995. Anything published after isn't likely to be true.)

They managed to get it to a lab and altered it. The intention? To GIVE people the wild card. But they wanted to control it - so, it would add one copy of the wild card to anyone infected by it. It turned carriers into latents. And natural humans into carriers. Full wild cards would simply experience the flu.

The Twisted Fists used this "Mutavirus" in a most devious and destructive terrorist attack on the entire world.

On December 31, 1999, they released this Mutavirus in some of the world's busiest international airports. It spread, like the flu. The following January, millions of of people's cards turned. Suddenly, more than a million people were dead. Hundreds of thousands were jokers. Tens of thousands more were aces. It seemed like it would never stop. It was Wild Card Day, over and over again.

The newshounds called it the "Y2K Bug." For those whose lives were touched by it, though, it wasn't very funny.

The mutavirus shared its carrier genes with the seasonal flus.

That was the beginning of the end of the old world. No national government was prepared to handle such an influx of wild cards. Some have returned - mostly naturally isolated places like Switzerland, Iceland, Japan, Hawaii and the British Isles.

Wanting some stability in the face of utter change, people clung to those aces who proved able to protect them. Some of those aces became reluctant leaders, others embraced the opportunity.

Those aces gathered allies and enemies, and from that came the Houses, which are one part sports team, one part syndicate, one and one part aristocracy. Each controls a territory on the planet.

Without any guaranteed genetic lineage to fall back on, the Houses court new aces like they are major ball teams and the aces are the pick of the litter. Once an ace is accepted into a House, turncoating is rare, but not unknown. After all, the penalties for leaving a House are a bit more lethal than the penalties for switching sports teams.

Most aces embrace the stability and security a House can provide, even if it means sacrificing personal freedoms for the goals of the group. Others simply try to disappear, struggling to live private lives away from prying eyes and strong-arm tactics.

New York City held the largest population of wild cards before the Y2K bug, and afterwards it still does. Its population would not have allowed any House to rule them. The city government and infrastructure has managed to stay relatively intact.

It calls itself the Free City of New York and maintains its independence, and its global prominence. The former UN now hosts what's been called the Terran League, an organization dedicated to promote planetary unity.

What's more, the Empire State Building is inhabited by representatives of an interstellar trade collective of more than a hundred different species, known as the Network. The building is their embassy. They are interested in Earth's chief useful resource: aces.

The Network is not the only alien presence on Earth - the Takisians, the inventors of the wild card virus - are here, too.  They act as advisors for the major Houses, and any major governments.

It is 2027. It's a new world. Anything can happen.

This message was last edited by the GM at 22:30, Tue 09 May 2017.

Lxndr
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Mon 17 Apr 2017
at 02:54
RTJ: Setting Information
Terminology:

Ace - A person who was infected by the wild card virus and gained superhuman powers as a result.

Black Queen - Any death caused by wild card infection.

Carrier - A person unable to manifest the wild card virus themselves, but they can pass the genetic trait to their descendants (Also see Latent, Jack)

Deuce - An ace with powers that are trivial, or limited in extreme ways.

Jack - A carrier that has learned certain mental tricks to unlock the wild card virus.  They tend to be psychics.  Some can be very powerful. Latent wild carders can be jacks, too, but this is inadvisable since it can cause their card to turn.

Joker - A person that was infected by the wild card virus and gained physical deformities. The jokers are the monsters and cripples produced by the wild card virus.

Latent - A person infected with the dormant Wild Card virus. If the virus is activated, the infected character may become: a joker, an ace, a Joker-Ace, or more likely, draw the Black Queen. (see Suicide King)

Nat - Short for "natural" and considered slightly derogatory, it is the term that many wild carders use to refer to genetically normal humans.

Norm - Short for "normal."  Not considered derogatory, and is used to refer to anyone who presents as a genetically normal human, including carriers and nats.  Avoided when referring to a known latent, but can be accidentally used.

Pig's Eye - A joker with ace-level powers. Sometimes seen as derogatory.

Suicide King - A Suicide King is a person who has inherited wild card genes from both parents, in much the same way as blood type, hair colour and texture, eye colour, and other physical traits. A person with such genes is likely to express the wild card when reaching puberty. Stress usually causes the transformation, and -- since 90% of those infected by the wild card die, teens who have the genes are said to be "Suicide Kings."  Others are just "Latents."

Wild carder - anyone infected with the full wild card.  This covers jokers, latents, aces and pig's eyes.

This message was last edited by the GM at 22:34, Mon 24 Apr 2017.

Lxndr
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Mon 17 Apr 2017
at 03:30
RTJ: Setting Information
Political entities you should be aware of:

The Free City of New York - Controls the Five Boroughs of New York, as well as the entirety of Long Island. Its mayor is the wildly popular John Fortune.

The Terran League - Functionally the United Nations, even going so far as to occupy the UN buildings.  Its members span the world. Only human-organized societies are allowed member status, though both the Network and the Takisians have Observer status.

The Network - This is a loosely organised collective of alien species. It exists for predominantly mercantile reasons, granting its member races a vast network of interplanetary knowledge, commerce, and faster-than-light travel options. It was founded by a mysterious group of beings, known as the Master Traders, and has existed for hundreds of millennia before taking an interest in Earth in modern times.

The Network inhabits the Empire State Building, which it claims as its embassy. It is chiefly interested in Earth due to its primary exportable resource:  aces.

The primary Network representative on Earth is Jhubben, a member of the Glabberan species. He looks like a blue walrus-man.

The Takisian Counsel - The creators of the Wild Card virus, they are genetically identical to humans, with the minor exception that their upper classes have bred themselves to be powerfully psychic. Humanity also has this capacity. The Takisians made their presence known in 2023, and have been offering their services as advisors/consigliere to the various Houses and other world governments. Their head is popularly known as "Dr. Tachyon" as came to Earth to try to stop the testing of the virus he designed, and lived here for most of 50 years before returning to his home planet. They keep their offices in Jetboy's Tomb.

The House of Gold - sort of a conservative, old-school organization run by the Judas Ace, the Golden Boy Jack Braun, he runs this House reluctantly - he's a good guy who hates seeing people get hurt, so he sort of fell into his position.  This House is the steward of the Pacific Coast from Anchorage to Los Cabos. It is headquartered in Hollywood. Its representative in New York is Zephyr, a third generation ace, son of Mistral.

The House of Dreams - a more liberal House that controls the Northeastern American Coast, with the exception of the Free City of New York, but including the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island as well as Newfoundland. It is headquartered in Newark. This house's titular head is Croyd Crenson, aka the Sleeper.  Since he's asleep much of the time, its acting head is Barbara Kendall, a mysterious figure who's managed to expand, and consolidate the House's territory.

The House of Flint - the unofficial name of the Order of the Silver Helix, and also the de facto government of the British Isles.  Still nominally loyal to the Crown. The organization gets its name from Brigadier Sir Kenneth Foxworthy, also known popularly as "Captain Flint"  He was appointed the Grand Marshall of the Order of the Silver Helix, and is an honorable man still loyal to the Crown.

And now for a few places in North America that have resisted the common "House" nomenclature:

The American South is known as Hazzard, much of it is nuked out and otherwise in rubble from a clash with the United States Military. It is ruled by a self-styled "King" who rules from his "castle" Graceland. Nobody knows who this "King" really is, only that he insists on being called the King.

Hazzard covers the former states of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, both Carolinas, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Texas is now the Republic of Texas; it also claims New Mexico and the Oklahoma Panhandle.

Hazzard's King only holds the northern part of Florida.

Southern Florida is under the control of the Gambione family, who've come out from behind the Batista family. Their seat of power is in Havana. They control the entirety of the Association of Caribbean States. Officially, they are called United Carribea, and are recognized by the Terran League. Unofficially, some of the newer generations of the Mafia are calling themselves "House Antilles"

Mackinac, as the lands bordering Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron have come to be known, are protected by Buddy Holley. Since it covers lands that were under United States and Canadian control before the Y2K bug, it has tense relations with the combined United States. Mackinac is recognized by the Terran League.

In 2003, after the conflagration that decimated the South, the United States relinquished its hold on the South, and took on the membership of the formerly Canadian province of Ontario. In this chaos, all State borders and governments were temporarily suspended, allowing new States to be made from the former areas (including Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta).

Still considering itself the Capital of the United States, Washington DC remains operational. In its agreement with Ontario, Ottawa was made a de facto second capital.

Both Maryland and Virginia remain a part of the United States, as does West Virginia (now part of the state of Virginia).

The Great Plains are known as the Heartland. They consider themselves part of the United States, and have reorganized state boundaries. The Canadian Prairie provinces followed Ottawa in signing the US Constitution.

Also still nominally part of the United States is a new state called "Palouse," which takes up most of Eastern Washington, some of Northern Idaho, and Western Montana.

Connecting Palouse to the Heartland is Absaroka, another state carved out of Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota.

Since House Gold controls the entire Pacific Coast, the US does not extend from sea to shining sea anymore.

South of Palouse and Absaroka is the Nation of Deseret, a Mormon nation with its capital in Salt Lake. It covers most of northern Nevada, all of Utah, and a goodly portion of Wyoming and Colorado. Deseret also claims southern Idaho and parts of eastern Oregon. The US contests these claims.

finally, the Free Radicals deserve a mention. These are aces unaffiliated with any Houses.  A good majority of them are leftist revolutionaries, following in the footsteps of the ace known as the Radical.  Or at least have revolutionary sympathies. But not all of them.  Most are lone wolves.  Many reject the label "Free Radical." Since New York prides itself on its independence, many New York aces remain unaffiliated with any House without the label of Free Radical.

The Radical travels around the world, supporting leftist causes. Here's how he's left his mark on the Americas:

the Radical led a communist rebellion in the territory of Alaska, resulting in the socialist state of Denali taking up the Alaskan interior, as well as the North Slope, and the entire peninsula. IT also claims the territory known as Yukon.

the Radical also assisted the Quebec separatists in creating the Free State of Quebec.

the Radical is also responsible for the United Socialist States of Mexico, which claims Arizona, as well as the eastern parts of Southern California (Imperial county, as well as the "Inland Empire") plus the entirety of the old Mexico (excluding the California peninsula).

This message was last edited by the GM at 21:57, Sun 07 May 2017.

Lxndr
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Tue 18 Apr 2017
at 20:59
RTJ: Setting Information
Names you probably should know:

John Fortune, wildly popular mayor of New York, set to marry Kelly Ann Jenkins (below).


Jack Braun, head of the west-coast based House of Gold.  Also known as "Golden Boy" from his days of heroics.

-Henry Vernon Carlysle, current representative of the House of Gold in New York.  Known for being a third-generation ace with the same powers.  Statistically unheard of. Goes by "Zephyr"


Croyd Crenson, head of the Newark based House of Dreams.  Also known as "The Sleeper" due to a strange quirk of his Wild Card.

-Barbara Kendall, current representative of the House of Dreams in New York.  Nobody knows quite what her power is, though they know she was born before the Wild Card. She also looks 21. She's not known by any particular title or nickname.

-Bill Lockwood, extremely loyal to Croyd, he's the House's "enforcer", he goes by the name The Reflector, and is still known as "Snotman" (though never to his face).


"Bloat," The Governor of The Rox, a seemingly extra-dimensional haven for jokers, Bloat doesn't leave the Rox.

-Roxana, Bloat's representative in New York. She has a pig's nose an flopsy porcine ears.


"Dr. Tachyon" - Prince Tisianne brant Ts’ara sek Halima sek Ragnar sek Omian of House Ilkazam is from the planet Takis.  He's the one who first created the Wild Card, and spent a half century of his life trying to stop it, and treat it, on Earth.

-Kelly Ann Jenkins - presumptive daughter of Dr. Tachyon, though their relationship is more complex than that.  She's one of the few humans that has gone to another star and come back. She's at least mildly telepathic, though has learned a few tricks from living on Takis for a while.  She was acting as advisor to John Fortune, but they fell in love, and are due to wed.

-Illyana and Zabb Tachyon - both Takis/human hybrids, they've taken on the surname "Tachyon" because they are related to Dr. Tachyon. Sort of a celebrity couple, they are rather popular.



The Radical - A revolutionary relic of the 60s counterculture, nobody knows his real name. His powers are varied.  He travels the world supporting leftist movements.  Many independent aces name themselves "Free Radicals" because they support his causes.


Jhubben - an alien that heads the Network's presence on Earth. He looks like a blue walrus, and occasionally smells of popcorn.

This message was last edited by the GM at 01:03, Sun 07 May 2017.

Lxndr
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Thu 20 Apr 2017
at 05:24
RTJ: Setting Information
How the Wild Card works:

The wild card virus works by completely altering the victim's body, attaching itself to thier DNA. It's been theorized that the process is guided by the victim's own subconscious, influenced by the person's desires or fears. In this way, the virus works as a modern Aladdin's Lamp. The transformation is extremely individual, no two persons are affected in exactly the same way. In 90% of cases, the victim's body can't assimilate the extreme changes, and the person dies horribly. These cases are called black queens. From the survivors, 9 out of 10 are changed for the worse, becoming monstrous creatures nicknamed jokers. The miraculous 1% of infected are changed for the better and become aces, gifted with superhuman physical or mental capabilities.

It should be noted that not all infected by the wild card manifest the virus right away. In about 30% of cases, the virus stays dormant on the person's DNA.

These are the latents; they can live normal lives for years until some physical or emotional trauma triggers the virus. And then they face the same odds as any other wild card, almost always dying or becoming jokers.

The virus is inheritable and follows the same rules as any simple recessive genetic trait. Here's a few examples:

If a "nat" crosses with a "nat," you'll get a nat. Since neither parent has the wild card gene to pass on.

If a "nat" crosses with a wild carder (ace, joker, latent, doesn't matter), all offspring will be carriers.

If a wild carder and a wild carder cross, every offspring will be a wild carder. Of course, not all may express the wild card.

If a carrier crosses with a carrier, there's a 50% chance of getting a carrier, a 25% chance of getting a "nat," an a 25% chance of getting a wild carder.

If a "nat" crosses with a carrier, there's a 50% chance of getting a carrier, and a 50% chance of getting a "nat."

If a carrier crosses with a wild carder, there's a 50% chance of getting a carrier, and a 50% chance of getting a wild carder.
Lxndr
 GM, 21 posts
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Wed 26 Apr 2017
at 23:02
RTJ: Setting Information
For Wild Cards fans:

the point of divergence of this timeline is December 31, 1999.

This means that any books AFTER the Card Sharks series aren't applicable/canon.

This applies to the following:

  • John Fortune's wild card turning.
  • Fortunato's Death
  • Anything involving "The Committee"





Timeline:
  • Late December 1999: The Twisted Fists release their "mutavirus" in international airports between Xmas and New Years Eve. As the mutavirus spread through the global population, more than a million people drew the Black Queen, hundreds of thousands drew jokers. Tens of thousands more became aces. It seemed like it would never stop. It was Wild Card Day, over and over again. Globally, civilian infrastructure cannot handle it.
  • January 3, 2000: On Peregrine's Perch, famous wild card personality Peregrine quips about the mutavirus, calling it "the Y2K bug." This name catches on in pop culture and the media.
  • April 9, 2000: In response to the infrastructure collapse and state governments failing, US President Leo Barnett (D) declares martial law and mobilizes the military to keep order.  Elections are suspended "for the duration." Numerous elements in the States object to this, leading to a conflagration that winds up with Branson, MO nuked. This leads to a chain reaction that leaves the American South a nuclear wasteland, killing around 20 million Americans. The ensuing nuclear winter reduces average global rainfall and temperatures, blackening the sky. The following years are, effectively, years without a summer.
  • August, 2000: The mutavirus seems to join forces with the flu. It experiences a resurgence of virulence. The virus fades from circulation by 2002.
  • All 2001-2002:  Food shortages caused by the nuclear winter lead to hundreds of millions starving to death, globally. Known as the "Dark Years" due to the lack of sunlight and the shortened growing season.
  • January 22, 2003 - President Barnett issues the Severance Proclamation, relinquishing the United States' claims on the American South. On the same day, he also issues the Union Proclamation, announcing intentions for joining with Canada.

This message was last edited by the GM at 23:18, Sun 07 May 2017.

Lxndr
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Mon 1 May 2017
at 19:12
RTJ: Setting Information
Mathematical folderol. Feel free to ignore.

Population in 1999:  6.4 billion, 700,000 of those already jokers and aces, two million latent individuals waiting for an eruption, most unknowing, another two million carriers with a recessive gene - it won't show up in them, but it will be passed to their children.


Spoiler text: (Highlight or hover over the text to view)
This is a direct lift from the books. I'm going to assume that the 700,000 joker/ace population is split 90/10, a sloppy assumption I admit since it doesn't take into account the likelihood of jokers having shorter lifespans.  So that's 630,000 jokers, 70,000 aces.


After Y2K Bug: Probably 1 million of the existing carriers become wild carders. Sticking with established numbers, 30% don't turn. Leaving 700,000 new individuals who have their cards turn. 630,000 of those draw the Black Queen. Of that population, another 63,000 draw the joker. 7,000 new aces are created. We're left with 2.3 million latents, some of whose cards may have turned given the stresses of almost a million people's cards turning. Sticking with established numbers, 30% don't turn, leaving 1.61 million people turning their cards.  1.449 million draw the Black Queen. 144,900 are jokers. 16,100 draw an ace.

Also, the Spanish Flu is estimated to have *infected* a third of the world's population. So, running with those numbers (which is probably low, since that was before the network of international flights that exists now). One third of 6.4 is 2.1333, so let's assume 2.2 billion become infected, and thus carriers. Using historic influenza fatality numbers, an estimated 220 million die of the flu, leaving us with about 2 billion carriers.

So here's the population after the Y2K bug:

6.2 billion, 837,900 jokers, 93,100 aces, 690,000 latents, 2 billion carriers, 4.2 billion nats

Extrapolating, the population in 2027 is:

7.8 billion, 1 million jokers, 117,000 aces, 875,000 latents, 2.5 billion carriers, and 5.3 billion nats

This is definitely a little quick-and-dirty maths but should be close enough.

Today, NYC is about a little more 1/1000 the population.  It also has a higher concentration of Wild Cards, due to Wild Card Day.  Here's where I just make stuff up instead of extrapolating from numbers other people made up:

NYC pop:  8 million, 200,000 jokers, 20,000 aces, 1.1 million latents, 3 million carriers, 3.5 million nats
Lxndr
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Mon 8 May 2017
at 23:22
RTJ: Setting Information
Flush

Flush is a new designer drug that's been circulating through Jokertown. In addition to the euphoric high sought after by the party crowd, flush has the additional kicker of sometimes giving users temporary ace-like abilities, or juicing up existing ones, even to the point of turning a deuce into an ace, at least for a couple hours. The problem is the drug is both addictive and dangerous, and an overdose can be trouble for more than the user, especially if they go nuts and start tossing cars around or just explode or something.