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Old 02-19-2017, 12:06 PM   #2
Icelander's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Iceland*
Default Campaign Background


The GM wants to use tropes, situations and themes from comics and superhero movies and if I want to avoid critical failure of the suspension of disbelief, it's my job to come up with in-setting justifications for these.

I had to come up with a situation where any government would try to send dangerous people of questionable loyalty along with actual soldiers or law enforcement into situations which call for only motivated, disciplined operators working together. Why would Onyx Rain, an supersecret task force dedicated to dealing with the fallout from secret military experiments that led former test subjects to developing superpowers (more than a decade after the experiments ended), ever use superpowered operators if they were worried about them trying to escape or even joining the threats they were supposed to fight?

From that flowed the situation where the PCs would have personal connections to people that were wanted alive, could not be simply killed with Hellfire or Griffin missiles and might respond to an offer of partial amnesty from people they trusted. Also, having the people in power over the PCs represent a conspiracy within the government, not a completely above-board official government program, and one where there were multiple factions with different objectives. That's always good for a desperation ploy by one faction or another, utilisating whatever limited resources they have at hand, that from the outside looks quite insane.

Campaign Background

The PCs are former test subjects of Project Jade Serenity, a military program testing the effects of various nootropic and performance-enhancing drugs on highly motivated, extremely intelligent, healthy and well-conditioned young soldiers in a training environment. Project Jade Serenity was carried out in an outlying part of Camp Mackall, North Carolina between late 1998 and the first day of 2000, and involved training evolutions of ODA 746 (newer number ODA 7216), an operational detachment-alpha or basic operational team of operators, from Alpha Company / 2nd Battalion / 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) (7th SFG(A)), as well as a modified form of Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) for picked young applicants in excellent health.

At least one of the Special Forces operators had been a test subject before. CW2 Raul Vargas has some kind of history with the mastermind behind Project Jade Serenity, Dr. Edward Vanderbert, and had been involved in similar experiments long before Project Jade Serenity. Several other legacy subjects were occasionally rotated through Camp Mackall for observation and further trials. Mostly these legacy subjects would be former mental patients or military personnel convicted at court martial, indicating that in the past, Dr. Vanderbert had primarily experimented on people whose willing and informed consent was at best a dubious proposition.

Two of the Project Jade Serenity personnel were arrested and accused of crimes during 1999, but Dr. Vanderbert was somehow able to get their court martials delayed so as to allow Project medical staff to finish the last weeks of observations and trials. One of the accused was CW2 Raul Vargas, who was caught smuggling recreational drugs into the base. Another was SSG Santiago Garcia, a friend of his and a suspect in the drug case, who was eventually charged for possession of child pornography after a search of his quarters.

On New Year's Eve 1999 or New Year's Day of 2000, what we've been calling 'the Incident' took place. CW2 Vargas and SSG Garcia escaped from Project Jade Serenity, apparently with the help from one or more of the staff. Arrested after the Incident was Pvt. Sherilyn Bell, a nineteen-year-old mental health specialist who was among the Project staff and who had apparently fallen in love with CW2 Vargas and agreed to help him escape, but seems to have been injured in the escape and been left behind. Three people were killed, a SPC Luis Chavez who was one of the test subjects taking the modified SFQC, a Julio Sosa, a military prisoner, former ODA 746 member and legacy test subject and a CPL Wiliam S. Kirkland on base security detail. Several other people were seriously injured, with Dr. Anderson remaining in a coma for a year after the Incident, apparently as a result of a drug coctail composed of many drugs being evaluated at Project Jade Serenity was injected into his neck by PV2 Bell.

Project Jade Serenity was discontinued after this. The results were fairly promising, but inconclusive, especially as the integrity of the experiments was compromised by a lack of rigour in the testing protocol. Some of the control group may have had access to testing drugs and several of the staff were also indulging in those of the drugs they had identified as having a positive impact on memory and learning speed. More drugs than had been authorised were being tested, on a wider scale than intended, with two local FEMA employees apparently falsifying records to funnel additional medical equipment and money to the Project.

Investigations into Project Jade Serenity were held up, interfered with and negotiated away, with no one tried except the two FEMA employees, who took a plea bargain where they did little time. This no doubt protected senior officers involved in authorising the research and experimentation, but many otherwise upright people connived in the coverup to prevent the public image of the Army being damaged by what they saw as the criminal misconduct of very few individuals. Some careers ended and there was a massive reorganisation related to the scientific research facilities and organisations that were behind Project Jade Serenity, but it was all shrounded in such secrecy that it is impossible to say with certainty whether such experimentation was ever completely dropped. Pvt. Sherilyn Bell was found unfit for court martial by a sanity board, as she was apparently completely catatonic after the Incident.

The years passed. The alumni of Project Jade Serenity went on to have careers in the US Army Special Forces. Most of them served together in the 7th SFG(A) for many years, with ODA 7216 of A Co/2 Bn/7th SFG(A) having a high concentration of operators who had participated in Project Jade Serenity as test subjects. For several years, ODA 765 was a special response unit, composed nearly entirely of former Project operators, which functioned for the commander of 2nd Battalion much as the CIF company did for the commander of the 7th SFG(A) as a whole. The two men who participated in Project Jade Serenity looking to become Special Forces officers were eventually promoted past the initial post as Captain of an ODA. MAJ Sheffield F. Ford III retired as O-4 and the XO of 2nd Battalion of the 7th SFG(A), but Col. Alejandro Ortiz reached O-6 and a high staff position preparing him for command of a Special Forces Group.

In the years since the end of Project Jade Serenity, some of the people who particpated might have noticed that their physical health remained remarkably good. As the years passed, they didn't deteriorate at all. In fact, some of them steadily improved; physically, mentally and even in some unforeseen ways. Of course, some of them had mental problems, but the percentage might not have been noticably higher than in any other randomly chosen sample of high-achieving, assertive young males who self-select for a very dangerous profession.

By the year 2012, however, even if no one was specifically tracking the former test subjects any more or analysing their numbers, someone noticed something was off. Between then and the current time, February 2017, someone within the US government formed Onyx Rain, a very secret joint task force that mostly seems to use Department of Homeland Security resources, but has some personnel from the DoD as well. Their goal seems to be the investigation of the consequences of Project Jade Serenity and the containment of these consequences.

Very recently, Onyx Rain sent Col. Ortiz and a hand-picked detachment of his men into Mexico. They were meant to contact Vargas and Garcia, who had been living there, and offer them amnesty in return for them returning to the fold and agreeing to live under Onyx Rain observation. Col. Ortiz and his men never returned. According to Onyx Rain, they are all AWOL, not dead, but appparently deliberately out of contact.

Our characters have agreed to a short term contract to assist Onyx Rain in locating the former Project Jade Serenity test subjects and convincing them to cooperate. We were made quite aware that not agreeing would lead to them taking stronger measures to ensure that we remained under their control and observation. Our first adventure is to visit Jewell Island, where Sherilyn Bell has been housed in the Manhanock Asylum for the Criminally Insane since the Incident of 2000, and get her to help us find Raul Vargas and help convince him to turn himself in to Onyx Rain.

Last edited by Icelander; 01-24-2018 at 04:08 PM.
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