This thread will contain a background history for the campaign, as provided by the GM.

This is a continuation of a game that has been running since the mid-1980's, real time. The current game year is 1999. The campaign is heavy on Avengers-mythos and Golden Age-mythos (translation: X-Men-lite).

Background history of the current campaign, as it varies from that of the mainstream Marvel Universe:

A small group of young heroes emerged in the area of Western New York in the mid-1980's, forming a loosely-knit team. For a while, it seemed that the area might become another hub of hero activity, like New York City and Los Angeles, but after a couple of years, things seemed to quiet down in the area and super-powered heroes and villains practically disappeared in the area. After another couple of years, masked heroes started to reappear in the area, and the region was selected as a possible franchise expansion site for the Avengers.

After the events of Secret Wars and Secret Wars II in the late 1980's, a large number of Marvel heroes who were killed were not necessarily brought back. The major examples being Professor Charles Xavier, Janet Van Dyne (the Wasp), and the Fantastic Four. The AEF met a Janet Van Dyne from an alternative time line on one of their missions who asked to accompany the team back to their Earth. She has since taken up the role of the Wasp on her new home world. Reed Richards' patent royalties continued to accumulate in a trust fund set up under the name Fantastic Four Incorporated, administered by Crystal Maximoff, to finance whatever team would eventually become the new Fantastic Four. Crystal's hand-picked team includes herself, Medusa, She Hulk, the second Ms. Marvel, Wyatt Wingfoot, and recent addition Scott Lang (the second Ant Man).

The loss of several major heroes created a marked increase in the number, and stability, of various hero groups across the country, as well as across the world. In addition to the new Fantastic Four, Inc., major super hero teams that are currently active include:

- Alpha Flight (Ontario, Canada)
- The Avengers (five teams: NYC (East), LA (West), Buffalo (North), and two Experimental Franchises: one based in Buffalo, New York, and the other being the Texas Rangers)
- An unauthorized team calling themselves the Great Lakes Avengers
- The Defenders (consisting of a mix of previous associates, this team operates out of two headquarters, one in NY and one in Colorado)
- Excalibur (UK)
- Freedom Force (a government sponsored team of reformed criminals which includes Spiral, Speed Demon, Thin Man, and Avalanche, operating out of Washington, DC)
- Heroes For Hire (a loose affiliation of mostly former solo heroes, led by Iron Fist, based out of New York state)
- New Warriors (relatively recent assortment of young heroes, at least three of which have already been tapped for Avengers membership)
- Invaders (several surviving Golden Age heroes along with several new recruits serving in legacy roles)
- Super Soldiers (Russia)
- X-Force and X-Men (based out of Xavier's School for the Gifted)

Some additional background...

The Golden Age superhero Thin Man, who had been financing a revived Heroes For Hire group based out of Western New York, was arrested back in January due to a tip from one of his old war buddies, Captain America, who witnessed the Thin Man killing Agent Axis, an old World War II villain who was still alive and well and hiding in New York City...until the Thin Man tracked him down [see Marvel Comics Presents #34].

The Heroes For Hire operation is still running, but some are beginning to speculate on how long the organization will last.

Iron Man seems to have started a personal quest to seek out other power-suit wearing villains and has already brought several of them to justice, confiscating and destroying their suits and a campaign the media has begun calling "Armor Wars".

Stunt man Johnny Blaze has returned to performing after a long hiatus. Asked why he spent so much time out of the spotlight, Johnny was quoted as saying he "had a personal demon to deal with".

Free Range Cut Scenes

For quick reference, here's a list of cut scenes without PC involvement that have appeared previously. Of course, there are other plot seeds and dangling plotlines that have been started as well, but I'm not going to give you a detailed list of those just yet.

I will update this post as these get resolved or new ones get added.

Derek Lewis (issue 2) - Resolved - Manta Man contacts Stingray's wife, joins the Avengers, becomes a PC

Silver creature flying through space (issues 2 and 3) - Resolved - Silver clad woman (Stardancer, mate of the Blue Diamond) crashed into Fantastic Four HQ

Doctor Strange meditates (issue 3) - Resolved - kind of - foreseeing the AEF's encounter with Thanos through meditative divination.

Willie Lumpkin delivers mail to an old house (issue 3) Resolved - The home of Golden Age hero Mantor the Magician.

Strange character sitting on rooftop of old house Willie Lumpkin delivered mail to (Avengers mini-series #2) - Resolved - new characters, Bubbles, joins the game

Dr. Strange spit-take (issue 4) - Resolved - kind of - realizing the AEF had encountered Thanos, which he had foreseen through divination.

"In 48 hours, we move." (issue 4) - Resolved - Masters of Evil hatching nefarious plans

Conversation about Hydro-Base between two shadowy characters (issue 4) - Resolved - Masters of Evil hatching nefarious plans - possibly Baron Zemo II speaking with the Wizard?

The-man-in-the-green-fez observing events unfold (issue 4 and issue 4 again and issue 4 yet once again and issue 4 one final time) - Resolved - Golden Age hero Mantor the Magician put himself in a self-induced suspended animation to await the day when he would assist the AEF against Thanos.

Guys in yellow suits opening a crate of bath products (issue 4 and issue 4 again) - Resolved - AIM got the crate of Bubbles' missing soap products, Bubbles received the crate full of AIM's Orphu technology.

Dr. Strange talking with a shadowy figure (issue 4) - Unrevealed, but this was Dr. Strange's apprentice, Rintah, who had been observing you, invisibly, on Dr. Strange's request for sometime. Several of you occasionally had the feeling of being 'watched'.

Women in the Avengers' hospital room (issue 6) - Unrevealed - You didn't get to meet them, but this was Night Nurse (yes, from the 1960's Marvel Comics), and her two nurse friends from that series

Someone retrieving the remains of Jericho's time machine (issue 8)

Chinese freighter approaching remote island (issue 8) - Unrevealed - This was just a set up to the tabletop game/issue 9 where SHIELD takes some of the heroes off on a special mission.

The Negative Zone

Reed Richards discovered the Negative Zone a universe comprised of antimatter. When matter and antimatter collide, the result is a terrific explosion.

Unlike our space, the space of the Negative Zone is breathable and supports many strange life forms. Three creatures previously encountered by the Fantastic Four include: Annihilus, an insectoid being who wields the awesome Cosmic Control Rod; Blastaar, monarch of the Baluurians, who forged a vast interstellar empire; and Stygorr, a powerful entity with the ability to oscillate his very atoms between antimatter and matter.

Entering the Negative Zone

This strange universe can only be entered by someone with the proper equipment. On Earth, the only portal is located in the FF's headquarters. The original portal was a fixture of the Baxter Building and consisted of a door seven feet in diameter surrounded by support machinery. Reed Richards built a second portal in the form of a 500-meter shaft, 499 meters of which existed only in the Negative Zone. Unfortunately, when the Baxter Building was destroyed after being lifted into Earth's orbit, the resulting explosion caused a dimension warp between our universe and the Negative Zone. A Class 1000 matter-antimatter explosion in the Negative Zone closed the portal.

When Four Freedoms Plaza was built to replace the Baxter Building, Reed recreated the shaft portal. Next to the portal chamber is a watch station equipped with a Negative Zone viewer that provides a telescopic view of the other side (Telescopic Vision, Good rank).

The Distortion Area

Between the Negative Zone and the Earth lies the Distortion Area, a region of Subspace that connects both dimensions. It is a turbulent area, pulsing with hypnotic flashes of intense colors and shapes.

A peculiar effect of the Distortion Area is that it converts matter to antimatter and vice versa. Thus, travelers who enter the Distortion Area may safely pass back and forth between the Earth and the Negative Zone. A creature or object surrounded by a force field, however, is not converted to matter or antimatter.

Because the Distortion Area is a type of Subspace crossroads, Reed Richards once theorized that an explosion of great magnitude within it could have disastrous effects upon countless dimensions, including the Earth Dimension.

The Zone of Antimatter

Once within the Negative Zone, the traveler finds himself in orbit over Negative Earth, a world surrounded by an atmosphere of exploding debris known as the Zone of Antimatter.

The gravitational pull of Negative Earth is very strong, trapping all creatures and objects that venture too close and ultimately destroying them. On several occasions, members of the FF have been trapped on chunks of rock descending toward Negative Earth. Because all Movement, Matter Control, and Energy Control Powers are negated in the Zone of Antimatter, escaping is difficult. On one occasion, Mr. Fantastic escaped by forming his body into a sail and using the air currents to tack against the wind. Mechanical devices, such as antimatter harnesses (see below), are not negated and can be used to fly out of the Zone of Antimatter.

Traveling in the Negative Zone

Without the power of flight, creatures who enter the Negative Zone are immediately caught by the pull of Negative Earth. To avoid this disastrous event the FF wear antimatter harnesses whenever they venture there.

By using his fire powers, the Human Torch can safely fly in the Negative Zone without need of a harness (which would burn up if he were aflame anyway). However, if he enters the Zone of Antimatter, his flame immediately extinguishes and he cannot "flame on" to escape because his powers are negated.

Bubbles' shooting stars

For those who were wondering...
The first shooting star Bubbles saw was whatever entered the atmosphere and headed towards Xavier's School (happened off panel).
The second was Rad's BRAVE module exploding.
The third was Pulsar blasting the escape pod he was pursuing.
--Captain Chronology

Rather than post a note here about the Infinity Gems/Infinity Gauntlet, I just updated Thanos' description in the Characters thread.

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