This is going to be a little weird, so bear with me.
Arden is a fictional setting, very much a “super hero earth” sort of place. Technology similar to our own with occasionally far more science-fictiony elements.
55 years ago, the first rocket to reach lunar orbit is destroyed when it reaches approximately 500,000 feet above Arden’s surface, as if it had impacted a solid surface. A year later a single astronaut from that mission arrives in his hometown mysteriously unharmed and with abilities which defied explanation.
Five years later, the first of the Eisner Bridges opened, a vast artificial portal to another plane of existance. And everything we knew was proven very, very wrong.
The Big Picture
There are 13 worlds connected via Eisner Bridges, though some claim there are countless others. Each of these worlds seems to have its own self-consistent set of physical laws. Interaction between these planes of existance, however, seems to create unpredictable and, at times unstable results, among them the existence of men and women who do not seem to be governed by the same rules as the rest of the world; a phenomenon sometimes called the Kurtzburg-Lieber effect.
Arden has been in contact with the other 12 worlds for about half a century now. The next “youngest” world has been in contact for 200, and the “eldest” two for millenia.
I’ll talk a little about the 13 worlds later, however our focus is on the World of Arden, in the United Augustan Federation, in the City of Gnosis.
Your World, as You Know It
A look at some of the nations of Arden
- United Augustan Federation: The UAF likes to think of itself as the shining light of Truth and Freedom in the world. Founded about 150 years ago in the wake of the Federation Wars, the UAF is, arguably, the most powerful nation on Arden, both in terms of its military might and its economy.
- The Drusian Alliance of Socialist Republics: Long-time rival state to the UAF, the DASR is the only other nation that can claim a similar footing in military or industrial might.
- The League of Alderian Nations: Kind of European Uninionesque
- The Sei Wei Dominion: Communist Asia
- Nagima: Non-communist Asia
- Al Salam: The Empire of Peace. The Middle East if the West were too busy buggering up other worlds rather than messing up things there.
- And many more. I may add them as they become relevant.
- 1955 AF: An attempt at reaching the moon results in the destruction of the spacecraft. A vast glowing sigil is seen in the night sky in the aproximate location of the impact.
- 1956 AF: Captain John Manning arrives in his hometown, mysteriously unharmed but with no memory of the event. Federal Space Agency attempting to conduct a physical discover that the needles they intended to draw blood from the Captain will not puncture the astronauts skin. Further powers revealed to include vast strength, flight, and the ability to project blasts of heat and force from his hands. UAF government rebrands him as Captain Cosmic. The First Superhero is born.
- 1960 AF: the First Eisner Bridge is opened and the Humanity makes contact with the Drazz of Midworld. Fort Gnosis is established around the Bridge.
- 1962 AF: The Second Eisner Bridge opens to Arken, a planet ruled by superhumans. The Mad God Drezor does battle with Captain Cosmic. Humanity makes contact with the Archonate who seal the Bridge, and provide human scientists with rudimentary lore of Sigilcraft warning them that the Archons may not be able to help in the next crisis.
- 1965 AF: Increased trade with the Drazz through Fort Gnosis leads to a city being established around the Fort. As otherworldly technology begins spreading, other documented superhumans begin appearing in general population. This is called the Kurtzburg-Lieber Effect
- 1969 AF: The Dursian Alliance attempts to open its first Eisner gate, which explodes, doing untold environmental harm. Pyotr Volkov, a scientist working on the project, becomes the supervillain known as Redstar.
- 1970 AF: Redstar opens a successful Bridge to the desolate land of Zurr without the support or endorcement of his government and begins a dangerous and unethical series of experiments in hopes of creating an army of Superhumans. The Los Cantos Incident, which results in Redstar being sealed away in Zurr.
- 1972 AF: Working closely with the Drazz, UAF opens its first Eisner Bridge. Though an initial miscalculation leads to the city being invaded by horrifying spiders, Gnosis’ numerous superheros handily take care of the threat. Second attempt successfully opens a bridge to Arcadia, a Utopian civilization lead by scientists and philosophers. The Arcadian population seems to want little to do with Arden but are willing to do trade with them.
- 1975 AF: A Bridge opens from Zurr in the Dursian capital Zoldov. Redstar leads a a small army of superhumans in a coup d’etat. Redstar is declared First Citizen of the DARS, which is expanded to include the new territories on the foreign world.
- 1976 AF: A clandestine group of government agents, at least two of whom had superpowers, are sent to Zoldov to seal DARS’s gate and to assassinate Redstar. Results in utter failure and nearly a nuclear war.
- 1978 AF: UAF opens a Bridge to Zurr. The Bureau of Covert Affairs in the UAF begins supplying weapons and fostering rebellion amongst Zurr’s population. This goes about as well as you’d expect
- 1980 AF: Redstar begins the creating the New Red Army, an attempt to mass-produce super-soldiers. Though there are a few early successes, five of the soldiers rebel and form the super-team “Iron Sons of the Revolution” and begin a guerrilla campaign against Redstar’s regime
- 1980-1989 AF: The Superhuman Arms Race in full effect. Multiple bridges opened in Aryl, Valen, Sei Wei, Nagima and Al Salam, along with UAF and DARS
- 1986 AF: Arken opens dozens of portals all over the Arden. The Planar War
- 1989 AF: The Iron Sons depose Redstar and relatively democratic elections are held for new First Citizen. An uneasy peace settles over the world. Zurr, meanwhile, collapses into chaos.
- 1990 AF: The Salmon Springs Incident. Public opinion begins to swing against superhumans
- 1991 AF: The Natural Laws Act is passed. Superhuman Rights becomes a thing
- 1992-1998 AF: UAF President Joe Arnold attempts settle matters in Zurr with mixed success.
- 1995 AF: A series of battles between the Tachyon Kid and Chronos, the Conqueror result in the Time Crisis, eventually resolved through the combined efforts of the Renegades, a team of unsanctioned Augustan heroes. Public opinion begins to swing back, though many conservative resist the change.
- 1997 AF: Caped Crusaders Inc v The Federal Department of Natural Laws case held in the High Court overturning the FDNL’s authority over superhumans in most cases. Congress passes Vigilantism Control Act requiring all crime fighters regardless of power level to publicly divulge their identity to local law authority and the Federal Department of Security.
- 1998 AF: Following an economic downturn in the DARS, Redstar is elected as First Citizen.
- 1999 AF: The invention of the Siegel Drive, allowing interplanar travel without a Eisner Bridge. Generally considered to be less useful in that it takes a long time and a lot of energy.
- 2000 AF: The Shedim surreptitiously make contact with several different worlds.
- 2001 AF: An embittered Zurrian summons a Shedim in Gnosis City, resulting in huge amounts of damage to lives and property. It results in the Second Planar War
- 2005 AF: Alex Strabb v Gnosis City Police Department overturns the Vigilantism Control Act. The new legislation allows secret identities until a crime has been committed.
- 2009 AF: The Archons effectively end Shedim presence the Arden-Zurr theater of the Planar War, allowing the various Ardenese nations to withdraw from the war entirely, though the UAF maintains a presence in Zurr. The Archons leave a representative on Arden named Sabaoth, named “Guardian” of this world.
- 2010 AF: Sabaoth, Captain Cosmic and the Alchemist form the Guild of Heroes. Under Sabaoth’s leadership, the Guild incorporates as an independent nation in the Council of Nations. Embassies are opened in nations across the world.
- 2011 AF: A little time we call now