Another Monday, another mashup. What’s the Wayback Machine got for us today, Sherman?
“Um, it’s something about ‘true believers,’ boss.”
Right! Time to mash up the Fantastic Four! The Fantastic Four are notable among superhero teams for a) being a family and b) being the most blatant example of Jack Kirby’s “use the elements as inspirations” rule ever. It’s kind of a difficult mashup in that the characters are key to the concept, so you’d almost need to use pregen PCs. Perhaps we’re talking convention games, here.
My mashup follows.
I’m in the mood for spies. The system — let’s say we’re using Hero, but it could just as easily be GURPS or D20 Modern or good old Top Secret with a few extra rules hacks. The time: the Cold War, back in the late 70s. The gimmick: four CIA agents are accidentally exposed to a Russian chemical experiment, in the depths of Siberia, and as a result they gain strange psionic powers.
They’re the only people on the planet with psionics, as far as they know. This makes them incredibly valuable spies, but also incredibly risky to have around. I think you’d get the classic Le Carre Cold War paranoia escalated by a factor of ten or so.
One of the PCs is a clairvoyant (air), one has a nasty mindblast (fire), one can make people think he’s anyone he likes (water), and the fourth is an elite martial artist who gains an understanding of his body which escalates his abilities to even higher levels (earth). I’m not entirely satisfied with that last, but it’s the best earth-oriented psionic power I can think of off the top of my head.
There are a ton of places one could go with this. Obviously, there are going to be other psionics eventually. Me, I’d cap the number of psionics in the world at around twenty. I’m fond of the idea of an ancient order which keeps the secret of psionics clutched jealously to its bosom, but you could also riff on the Russian experiments. Perhaps the process is one of those processes which is so dangerous that only a handful of people survive — meaning most of the world’s psionics are from repressive totalitarian governments.
But I’d escalate slowly. The first chunk of the campaign ought to be basic spies with a little extra; plenty of time to unveil world-spanning conspiracies later.