( ⇪ Lore )
There are two kinds of adventurers in this setting: vigilantes, and “licensed” adventurers. If you have vigilantes in your game, the local police force might tolerate them if they’re especially effective and are good at avoiding getting captured by the police, and especially if the local police leadership actually respect or fear the vigilante. Vigilantes with a particularly good reputation might even be called upon by the police to help with a case. Leaving vigilantes be or calling upon them for help is frowned-upon by police higher-ups, but so long as the police can’t “prove” the vigilante broke any laws, and especially if the vigilante also seems to follow most of the principles and moral code that “licensed” adventurers do, then higher-ups are less inclined to force the local police or the military or mercenaries to capture them. If the local police are corrupt enough then it’s even easier for vigilantes to roam free.
Licensed adventurers are something else entirely.
How is Adventuring Legal?
This section describes an optional type of play which is more typical to the dungeon-crawling D&D experience. The entire party would have to be on board for this before they make characters, but parties that don’t choose this option will very likely be skirting or breaking the law by taking matters into their own hands. However, even if they don’t start out as “adventurers”, the party won’t necessarily break Hyperion law, because the Hyperion government doesn’t always have jurisdiction even within their own space (assuming the Hyperion government even finds out).
How Modern Adventuring Came to Be
The Hyperion government has “departments” that branch out to every function of government. To an adventurer, the two departments that matter the most are the “Dept of Defense” and the “Dept of Intelligence”.
The Dept of Defense consists of (among other things) the Military and the Dept of Mercenaries. The two are generally separate, but on occasion the Military requests for personnel from the Dept of Mercenaries if they need a particular kind of specialist.
The Dept of Intelligence consists of (among other things) all investigative arms of the government (hereafter referred to collectively as the Police). While the Dept of Defense has the most raw manpower and combat ability, it requests information from the Dept of Intelligence so that they can effectively accomplish their operations. The Dept of Intelligence is not beholden to the Dept of Defense, and is generally free to deny requests that it feels jeopardizes the Dept of Intelligence’s security or the public’s safety.
The Dept of Mercenaries is a civilian-run organization that covers most every circumstance where the government needs additional manpower for some kind of offensive action where the Military does not have the expertise it needs to accomplish a specific mission or overall goal. In times of war, the Military will request a draft directly from the Dept of Mercenaries long before they try to draft any other civilians. In all other circumstances, the Dept of Mercenaries is generally passive and is free to deny the Military access to their personnel except in special situations.
While the Dept of Mercenaries has offensive specialists of all sorts, it does not have the funding or rights to have extensive psychological testing of their operatives and provide a regular paycheck to all mercenaries that are within their purview, or to legally compel a mercenary into service to fight against an unconfirmed threat to the general public. Further, the Dept of Mercenaries itself is regarded as consisting of greedy thugs and cut-throats, and thus the overworked Police force can’t ask for mercenary assistance when they get a case they can’t handle by themselves. As a result, the Adventurers Guild was founded.
The Adventurers Guild gets funding from the Dept of Mercenaries, but can be thought as part “public relations firm” and part “bounty hunters organization”. The Adventurers Guild has worked very hard to acquire a long-standing reputation with the general public of being “the good guys”. Adventurers are touted as heroes that are called in when someone needs to put their life on the line for an extraordinarily unusual and dangerous mission.
Effectively, adventurers are mercenaries that (unlike most mercenaries) operate under an extremely high amount of scrutiny and oversight. Adventurers undergo regular behavior audits and psychiatric examinations, and can be compelled to take on assignments (or risk being suspended or fired). In exchange, the Adventurers Guild provides adventurers with housing, minimal living expense and transportation stipends, manages some of the adventurer’s affairs while they’re away on assignment, and grants the adventurer the public prestige that comes with the arrangement. Most notably though, adventurers also possess a limited “license to kill”.
Being an Adventurer
As part of becoming an adventurer, you are required to undergo a psionic procedure where your “adventurer’s license” is supernaturally-embedded in your mind and body. This grants you the ability to at-will project a simple visual and tactile illusion of that license in case you need to show it to a member of the general public. The Police however do not accept this illusion as legitimate on its face, and carry a device that lets them scan for an adventurer’s license so they can instantly determine whether you’re legit.
Your license also contains a recording device that records your location and all of your senses (which are not necessarily the same thing as what you think you sensed), but does not intrude upon your thoughts or emotions. This allows you to act with a limited amount of impunity regarding committing otherwise-illegal acts to complete your assignment. This is made legally possible because you cannot remove or modify the license or its recordings, and you are required to regularly submit yourself to the Adventurers Guild so that they can gather recorded evidence from your license and so you can debrief them on your experiences.
An adventurer can temporarily disable some of their license’s recording functions as a mental free action. Usually you would do this for privacy. You can disable the ability to project your license, the ability for your license to be scanned by Police, and the sensory-recording aspects of your license, but you can’t disable the recording of your location. You can re-enable all of these functions as a mental free action. If you’re a suspect for a crime and you can’t prove that you’re innocent through the recordings from your license, your adventuring license is immediately suspended (which is like disabling it, but you can’t yourself turn it back on) pending a viciously-thorough investigation by both the Police and the Adventurers Guild.
Adventurers Moral Code
All adventurers must follow a moral code in the course of their lives and their duties, mostly to uphold public opinion of the Adventurers Guild or the Hyperion Government. There are more specifics and nuances, but for practical purposes these are what a licensed adventurer lives by if they want to keep their license:
- You are an agent of the Hyperion government, and you must follow all known local laws
- …so long as doing so does not significantly jeopardize the effectiveness of your current mission or large-scale public opinion of the Adventurers Guild.
- In service of your mission, only kill sentient beings when absolutely necessary (such as they’re an enemy and if they’re alive then the mission will be impossible), and even then only while recording. Subdue and capture only relevant targets, and only while recording. Killing a target means they can’t easily testify or be captured, and it means someone could resurrect them elsewhere (which could make all of your efforts pointless). Only use torture when under a direct order to do so from your agent or a higher Guild authority.
- In service of your mission, you may ignore local laws regarding public or private air space, trespassing, capture, injury, or destruction of property,
- …but only so long as doing so doesn’t overly jeopardize the safety or liberty of bystanders.
- In service of your mission, methods which reduce harm and damages are your top priority
- …so long as it doesn’t overly jeopardize the effectiveness of your current mission (because undoing that harm or damage might be extremely expensive).
- Your mission is not over until it’s safe for Hyperion police to intervene, detain the enemy, and secure the area.
|GM’s Note: While the writers of the Justice League can make rules for their superheroes and then have their characters break or follow those rules, being purely fictional means it’s all done in service of the story they want to tell, and they can craft that story in advance. Licensed adventurers in this setting are not quite fictional though, as they are directly controlled by the real players at the table, and are played on the fly. Unlike the Justice League, the players can discuss in meta whatever code of conduct you as GM put in place for the PCs. The GM can decide whether or when those rules can be bent or broken in service of the game, the world, or the plot. The code of conduct described above is a just basic template which allows the GM to be flexible in their interpretation, to best suit their specific game.|
How an Adventurer Gets Assignments
An adventurer always has at least two direct superiors:
- The adventurer’s guild-provided psychiatrist, who is responsible for clearing the adventurer as fit for assignments.
- The adventurer’s guild-provided agent, who is responsible for managing the adventurer’s career and public image. An adventurer’s agent is almost always a veteran adventurer themselves.
Both of these people are privy to the recordings submitted by the adventurer, and both are always present for all behavior audits and psychiatric examinations. The agent handles the behavior audits themselves, just like the psychiatrist handles the psychiatric examinations.
Often, an adventurer also has a temporary “Assignment Leader” for the duration of a particular assignment. Sometimes the assignment leader accompanies the adventurer on assignments, but usually the leader acts as a squad commander for the adventuring party or as simply a liaison of some sort.
When the Police don’t currently have the the expertise, funding, or time to devote what’s necessary to resolve a case, sometimes a detective or district attorney will act as a liaison that provides information relevant to the assignment. Most of the time though, the Police just dump a case on the Adventurers Guild when most or all of the investigative work is done and what’s left is for someone extremely dangerous to be captured or killed.
How an Adventurer Gets Paid
In a “modern” or “futuristic” setting, criminals and bounties generally don’t carry much physical cash on them, and even if you stole a villain’s bank card, house key, etc., you wouldn’t be able to use them because you’re heroes and that would be illegal (and besides, looting the dead guy’s apartment would take too much time away from the flow of the game).
Furthermore, it is potentially very unbalancing to the game for a mook or villain to have magical items on them which the players can just pick up and either immediately use at their full potential or outright sell for profit. Besides, it’s very discouraging for players to get into a monotonous loop of “kill monster, get sword, sell sword, buy bigger sword, kill bigger monster”. Magic item crafters should be far less commonplace in this kind of setting, so magic items that just anyone can use should be more rare. However, villains and other enemies still have to have the necessary equipment to be a real threat.
Unlike most mercenaries that are paid up-front or simply bring in someone that has a widely-reported bounty on their head, adventurers have to act upon incomplete confidential intel about a villain that usually isn’t listed on a bounty board, and they only get paid once they report in after an assignment. As such, the nature of “treasure” has to be re-thought.
Treat all NPC and enemy non-consumable magical equipment that’s not appropriate to the party’s make-up or Item Level as using the “Bonded Item” rules in the Dungeon Master’s Guide II (justified by saying that they’re using Bonding Rituals too obscure, too villainous, or too murderous for the PCs to use). That means that the enemy’s magical equipment is only magical to its original owner, and only has its non-magical properties when anyone else has it.
To compensate for this, the difference in raw wealth lost by the players not getting traditional treasure is instead acquired as a reward paid by the Adventurers Guild when the PCs report in after an assignment. Adventurers can then use that to purchase their own equipment as restricted by each item’s “ rarity”.