This is a campaign seed for a supers campaign. It works best as the source for almost all supers, but with a lot of work, it can be adapted to a general supers game.
The current project Achilles is set up on some Department of Energy land in the Northern Mountains of California. It is the home of three squads of marines, thirty researchers, a hundred people in support positions, and from five to thirty subjects at any given time. Oh, and Dr. Briggs.
The Government has been in the super soldier business since World War II. The Pentagon has always had a dream to make "better" soldiers. With the public advent of paranormals and metas, several attempts to make paras and metas has also been sponsored. These projects have had sporatic and random success, often with a massive pricetag. Only Achilles, with a moderate budget one might add, has has managed semi-regular success.
The Human Maximum Expression project is a military sponsored program to "build up humans", having them reach their maximum potential of physical and mental abilities. The HMX project uses a sequence of drugs, diet, and radio magnetic therapy to produce enhanced people.
The government wanted super soldiers, superior warriors, that they could control (or at least manipulate). The project can generate those. These soldiers function between the 90th and 115th percentiles. They discovered that the process would also generate a small handful of super beings. Desiring a small army of super being, they tried to replicate the process in bulk.
It seems that most people can be "enhanced" by this process, but can not reach paranormal or metahuman status. To reach the ultimate goal with any degree of success, Dr. Briggs, the project head and lone survivor of the original Achilles Project, recruits people of the right mindset (dreamers, sci-fi fans, comic fans, or those with specific drives). With this "raw material", he succeeds in making supers. While they are not really "military" or "government" in their mindset, they tend to be supportive of the government that gave them their powers.
The Process is quite simple. Dr. Briggs credits that for its success rate. Subjects are started on a fairly rigerous physical fitness routine, and are challanged mentally as well. Then a series of drug injections starts the process. It begins with Alphalyne. This will produce what Dr. Biggs calls a "Template State" of enhanced physical and metal abilities.
The original formulas were considered much too hard on the bodies and minds of the subject. The new sequence is considered much "safer". It seldom, if ever, kills someone.
It is at this point that the sequence could become "interesting". As any subjects continues, they are monitored for what the staff calls "creep" as in cellular creep or changes. If creep is detected, the subject his given a crash cource of Gammalyne and intensive therapy in the Beta Module.
Betalyne should bring a person up to to paranormal status. It manages this in about 60% of specially selected subjects, and 10% of all subjects. Betalyne, like all the series must be given annually or as needed, to maintain this the paranormal status. It should be noted that most Beta’s are at the edges of human norm with some exceptional elements. Very few of the beta level subjects will advanced beyond even with continued process.
Creep in the form of morphic changes (wings, claws, skin color changes, etc) can occur at this point. This will create a paniced attempt to stabilize them with Gammalyne. Once medically stable they may need a sequence of Deltalyne to stabilize their new metabolism.
Sometimes the abilties fade when the Betalyne OR Gamalyne sequence is stopped, or certain "flags" come up in the subject’s physical and psychological testings. Other "tweaks" to the process are applied in an attempt to make it work. This is more of the "art" of metahuman creation than the "science". Often they are started on a Deltalyne sequence. This powerful drug stabilizes most meta level changes. To maintain their meta level status, annual doeses of Detalyne is required. Otherwise medical complications or simple fading of meta capabilities will occur.
It should be noted that there is still a kill rate on the Gamalyne and Deltalyne users. Nobody can or will give details on it, but it is an "open secret" in the project.
The Playground, as many "graduates" have taken to calling it -others call it The Center, trains and conditions any paranormal or meta subjects once they are stabilized. This training usually lasts only a few weeks. It is just until the subject gets a solid grasp on themselves and their abilities. "Meta Identities" with costumes replace the training gear at this point. After they are final checked, they are released back to their sponsoring organization. Metas are sometimes attached to "teams" that match their psych profiles. Most of overt government teams, but some are covert. (There is talk that one of the non government teams out there is really a secretly government sponsored team). Civilian recruits usually must work with an assigned team as part of their contract for being in the project. Most abide by it, some do not. Those that do not, are not able to get "boosters" so they tend to "fade" after a year or so.
"Clears", or those that do not achieve anything more than an Alphalyne boost, are returned back to their respective organizations after two weeks of observation (and sometimes a placebo treatment), just to make sure nothing "interesting" happpens to them.
The Current Achilles Base is fairly simple. It has a moderate sized three story research/ medical/ administrative feature, with a "special containment unit" under it. It has two dorm styled residences for the subjects, and three barracks for the marines. There is a marine "training course" outside that the marines use all the time. There are two large hangers here that serve as indoor training failities, with obsticle courses suitable for metas. One cargo plane is kept in Hanger B to move gear in and out of the base. Other planes transport subjects to and from the base. The ground track to the base is fairly rough, but traversable. It is also well monitored to catch the occasional lost traveller or snooper.
There are underground pathways to reach any part of the facility. People in "training gear" or costumes" are not allowed above ground. The Marines operating above ground make it look like a special ops tranining base, rather than one of the most strategically important government facilities know.
In about two years, they will move the existing base for security reasons, leaving a Marine training station in place for a year more.
Note: Some people have found the old Achilles base. It looks like a decomissioned base out in the mohave that has been used for live fire exercises over the last few years. "Graduates" from years past have informed new graduates that something bad happened there.. and that they had seen, or knew people who had seen, the scant evidence the "cleaners" left behind about the original project.
However, the several approximate formulas for old formula betaline are floating around out there in the fringe scientific community
Note: once you start taking the sequence, there is a chance you will "creep". If you creep, you will become metabolically and sometimes genetically unstable. This process can only be stablized by taking the next drug in the sequence and in more severe cases by spending time in the enhancement chamber.
Alphalyne: This is the first in the sequence of drug. It will allow those that take it to become enhanced… achieving high levels of physical performance, enhanced senses, and mental performance. The Marines at the Achilles project are all on this drug. The effects of an Alphalyne sequence wears off in three to six months, unless the subject is exposed to the enhancement chamber. At that point, it can last up to four years.
If analyzed, alphalyne is a potent coctails of vitamins, low level steroids/ hormones, metabolic accelerants, and carbs. There are some other odd chemicals, including metallic elements that nobody seems to understand except Dr. Briggs.
Betalyne: This drugs enhances the metapotential of a given subjects. In addition to improving upon Alphalyne levels, minor paranormal abilities, usually psychic, begin to manifest after a two week long treatment regiment. The treatment regiment includes a great deal of time in the enhancement chamber.
Some people have permanent effects from betalyne, others need renewed treatments every six months to a year to maintain their abilties.
If analyzed, betalyne includes some of the elements of alphalyne, plus non theraputic doses of psychoactive chemicals, and more bizzare compounds that are non organic, yet not toxic unless taken in huge amounts.
Gammalyne: This is important one in the sequence if you are tying to have paranormal abilities. It is a painful drug sequence, known to make people nauseous and deathly sick. While it will stabilize most Betalyne developments, it will often generate paranormal abilities (though sometimes several five day treatments sequences are required). Results can be produced with a single treatment. Treatments in the enhancements chambers can make this process more effective. In fact, may subjects will keep going into the enhancement chamber to catalyze themselves.
Note: Creeping occurs that will cause tetragenetic changes (wings, claws, morphic changes of all time). If creeping occurs at this stage, it must be stabilized with deltathine or death will occur over 90% of the time.
If analyzed, it includes several inert chemicals, chemotherapy elements, watered down versions of alphalyne and betalyne, and a different cocktail of psychotropic drugs.
Gammalyne is related to the old Betathine
Deltathine: The last in the official sequence. it will help stabilize any tetragenic changes and can promote higher level changes. The only drug of the new sequence that was formuated in the original project. The drug has other possible medical uses, as it causes a powerful cleaning effect (bowel, sweat, and bleeding). it also has enough calming and hypnogenic psychotropic chemicals to stop a horse. However, there are withdrawl issues with deltathine. (Some people think that is intentional to control Deltas)
Beta Module: Enhancement chamber
It looks like a prop out of a science fiction movie: It appears to be a reclining bed that people are strapped into with wires, blinking lights, and plastic coverings. It is much like an isolation tank with a gel fluid instead of water, except for the windows the subject can look out of (and people can check to look in) and the speakers. The chamber generates a series of enhancing and rotaing magnetic fields (empowering chakras and opening channels according to Dr. Briggs). There is also some infrasound projectors in the chamber as well. There are a dozen additional monitors associated with it. While you can slip some CDs into the chamber’s sound system, most of the music is of the calm, classical variety (so brain waves can be monitored against a baseline). Dr. Briggs teaches his subjects to meditate in the chamber.
Unknown to most people is that the chamber’s sound system sends out subliminal conditioning. Most non-project Achilles chambers do not have this feature… which does explain their lower success rate. The conditioning is not to make the subject obedient (in fact doing such removes the likelyhood of success). The conditioning is to make one belief in themselves enough to manifest powers.
Most of the new Metas are equipped "ping boxes". Ping boxes monitor the physical and chemical health of the subjects. They give various alarms when the meta over exerts itself. It has been deemed unsafe to operate without one. It prevents creeping and complex medical issues that have plagued many graduates. These boxes are the size of a PDA. They, and their monitor hooks, have been intergrated into costumed on the belt, many have been mounted on armbands, necklaces, helmets, and such. Many have figured out that these are control devices with locators, in addition to health monitoring. Several graduates have gone rogue and abandoned their units. One has died of a cardiovascular arrests (supposedly). The Graduate community has also heard that many of these rogues are no longer mentally stable.
Gammamphetomine or just Gammaspeed This is a high quality street drug. It is an amphetomine, plus some odd chemicals compounds from a bit of a gammalyne base forumula, plus glucose for energy. It makes a person feel faster and think faster. In some cases it can enhance the physical and metabolic speed of the user. Of course, Gammaspeed is seriously psychologically addicting, creating feelings of superiority, euphoria, and paranoia.
There are some other metaformula drugs out there. Initially they have simple pharmacutical results, but as their reputation grows (and the rumors about it) as well as "improved refining technqiues" the drugs seem to generate better results. The current "holy grail" of the metahuman creation community is the construction of enhancement chambers. There are bits and pieces out there in the net and such, that people can cobble together something like them. Everyone believes that if they can create a proper chamber, that their drug sequence will work better than Achilles.
The only person who really understands all this is Dr. Briggs. It is really not about the medicine, thought that helps. It is all about the belief… AND he is not telling anyone.
You see, he developed project Achilles on the sly with several top pentagon brass. He had read all the available material about meta creation and even managed to see a few top secret super soldier formula attempts. His own theories were radical. In fact he has two sets. One is a very plausable, sounds really good, and full of psuedoscience and some real science. The second is the real one, people are paranormal because they believe they can be. They just need something to make them "be different". Very few people know of real theory, but it is what sold the project to the Brass.
Using their resources he very carefully created a deniable previous project Achilles. He had old records doctors to have an active medical research project at the site of an old live fire training site where there are ruins. He had the ruins enhanced with planted evidence…then had the site "cleaned" to show that they pulled stuff out. He had a CIA unit doctor up some security tape like films showing a number of CIA media members as doctors and subjects doing super research. He also had them create monsters of sorts and said they were meta subjects. Over the two years it took to prep the project, he leaked things to the mad scientist community and saw what they produced. He created this entire themed story about how the projects advanced… things did well… then he went out for his wife’s birthday… and while he was gone everything broke loose. The only surviving records were some video clips he had managed to salvage from some survailance equipment and some things from his personal research notes. He arranged for the several black ops people who had died to have been assigned to the medical research unit… so he had traceable deaths.
With this in place, the Brass set up the current project Achilles. The Marines were originally given a commander who was too over the top and were told nothing of what they were going to be guarding. In a little bit a theatre, Dr. Briggs pulled the Major out of a briefing and gave them a clandestine briefing about what they were doing. They were making super beings. He showed them the videos and a little presentation on the process. he stressed that escaped subjects had casually killed all the Marines tasked with guarding them before. They were going to be outclassed again and the military were going to make the same mistake twice. So he convinced them all to take the Alphalyne sequence. They all gained results.
The new lab people reqcruited didn’t understand the process. However, he showed them a few bits from the "old project" so they believed that it would work and that they would have to be very, very careful (especially after they found out from the Marines what had happened before). The new subjects flowed in. Spread between the various agents and special ops were the Doctor’s hand picked subjects (the dreams, the fans, etc). (He will not say how he managed to find them.) By trying to suppress the rumors about the previous project and the Marines, only made people try harder to learn what they could. He played up the "big brother angle". The process continued on. It is all one elaborate charade.
However it worked.
Dr. Briggs realized long ago that while chemical and energy infusions can help to create metas, it is innately their psychology that gives them access to power. Some metas are more powerful to others because of how their psychology limits their channeling of power. The HDX project was to create the illusion of power and people believed it.
Thus Achilles continues. It actually gets results: a few heroes, a couple of villians, and a spy or two have achieved notable meta levels. The number of paranormal agents and soldiers in government employ has increased dramatically. And since they need/ believe they need continued treatment to hold onto their abilities….
The existance of Alphathyne is now being leaked to the armed forces. A few special ops teams are actually subjects. Eventually it will become a public secret. And it is more effective now than it used to be.