Tabletop Game: Freedom City
is the default setting for the Mutants & Masterminds
game system. Freedom City, the actual town, is the default setting for the 1st and 2nd editions of the game and is where most setting information is provided for. Also known as the Freedom Universe
. In the World of Freedom, superheroes appeared roughly at the same time that comic book heroes did in the real world.
The setting's primary hero
, The Centurion, inspired many imitators in the 1930s and carried on until he was killed in a battle with a supervillain known as Omega. Unlike Superman
, the Centurion remained dead. It is up to the player characters and others to carry on for him.
In 2010, Emerald City was revealed to be the default setting for 3rd Edition. Located in the same universe, Emerald City serves as an analogue to Seattle in the way that Freedom City does to New York City
The tone of Freedom City is light and airy, roughly meant to simulate The Modern Age of Comic Books
. While there are darker characters such as the villainous Jack-A-Knives, it is primarily a place of fun and whimsy.
Supplements for the setting in 2E include: Agents of Freedom
, Book of Magic
, Freedom's Most Wanted
, Golden Age
, Hero High
, Iron Age
, Silver Age
, and Worlds of Freedom
, as well as the adventures Time of Crisis
and Time of Vengeance
This setting contains the following tropes:
- Abusive Precursors: The Preservers are explicitly noted as being amoral and unempathetic.
- Adaptive Armor:
- Filled by the Star Knight Corps, combined Expys of the Green Lantern Corps and ROM: Spaceknight
- Megastar is another case, being an alien exo-skeleton that's adapted to its wearer's desired form.
- Affably Evil: Mr. Infamy.
- Affirmative Action Legacy: The most recent person to take the name of Johnny Rocket, the setting' premiere NPC speedster, is openly gay.
- The current Star Knight, actually the first Terran-born human to be invited to join the Order of Star Knights, is the American-born daughter of immigrants from Greece and Central America.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Talos, who wants to replace humanity with robots the same way humanity replaced the gods (and the gods replaced the titans). The Erinyes/The Furies Three, who were originally known as the Chorale.
- Both were made/mentored by Daedalus, an Iron Man/Hank Pym expy.
- All Your Powers Combined: Argo the Ultimate Android (i.e. Amazo) has all the powers of the Freedom League. The Meta-Grue (i.e. Super-Skrull) has all the powers of the Atom Family.
- Alternate Universe: After-Earth, Ani-Earth, Anti-Earth, Earth-Ape, Erde, Terra-Roma, Verecia.
- Amoral Attorney: The law firm of Cabot, Cunningham & Crowley.
- An Ice Person: Glacier. Madame Zero.
- Ancient Egypt: The Scarab's origin story began here, as did Overshadow's.
- Ancient Conspiracy: The Labyrinth, Taurus' organization.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Dr. Metropolis, living embodiment/spirit of Freedom City. Hiroshima Shadow, living embodiment of... yeah. Jack-A-Knives is the Spirit of Murder.
- Anti-Hero: While mostly an idealistic setting, there are a few of these listed under villains.
- Unscrupulous Hero: The current wielder of the Crimson Katana is explicitly described as an anti-hero who fights people much worse than she is, though her situation is complicated by the fact that her father, one of those people, routinely hijacks her body. The Silencer, as the setting's Punisher analogue, could be this ...
- Nominal Hero: ... or possibly this. As another example, Larceny Inc. are straight up criminals, but do as much to oppose the Labyrinth as most heroes.
- Badass Normal: Orion the Hunter. The Raven (both of 'em).
- Cape Busters: Several - Freedom City has the local STAR Squad (Superhuman Tactics and Regulations), their federal sister agency (and professional rival) is AEGIS (American Elite Government Intervention Service), and the international counterpart to both of those is UNISON (United Nations International Superhuman Oversight Network).
- The Cape: The Centurion. Captain Thunder.
- Captain Geographic: Britannia. Lady Liberty and Patriot for America. Mad Maple thinks he's one for Canada.
- Captain Ersatz: Just about all the pre-made characters are derived from either better-known Marvel and DC Comics heroes, or heroes from Kurt Busiek's Astro City.
- Some of the organizations too: AEGIS is essentially S.H.I.E.L.D, right down to their names being synonyms.
- City of Adventure
- Cloning Blues: The vast bulwark of SHADOW is comprised of legions of cloned troopers. The general public is aware SHADOW uses clones, taken from the body of the 1930s Nazi star athlete, Holtz Hellman. They're all really clones of Wilhelm Kantor, Overshadow himself.
- Comic Book Tropes: Being a comic book inspired RPG, this is a given.
- The Cowl: The Raven. Foreshadow.
- Crapsack World: Averted, on Earth-Prime. The main universe of the Freedom City setting is an optimistic place where most people are basically good and most people love superheroes. Other dimensions like Erde and the Terminus, on the other hand...
- Not to mention the obligatory Anti-Earth where the heroes are villains, the villains have been wiped out, and everyone's corrupt. The Iron Age supplement also creates a world full of violence, corruption, and few signs of hope, although it of course ended eventually.
- Crisis Crossover: The adventure Time of Crisis.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: The Thieves' Guild, mentioned in Freedom's Most Wanted and the 2E Time of Crisis, are six brilliant scientists who've managed to develop technolgoy from extremely detailed holograms to Batman-level bolo-themed gadgets, to cryokinesis to weather controlling. They use these inventions to rob banks. It's even noted in their descriptions that they could have made millions were they all not more than a bit crazy. (They're specifically a group Captain Ersatz of The Flash's Rogues, who were pretty much the same.)
- Cycle of Revenge: The Scarab and Overshadow have been locked into one for the past 5,000 years.
- Dark Is Edgy: Black Star. Nacht-Krieger.
- Darker and Edgier: The 1980s and early 1990s, as detailed in the Iron Age supplement.
- Deal with the Devil: Mr. Infamy's shtick.
- Dimension Lord: Besides Omega, there's actually a specific term for these beings: Dark Lords are mages who have essentially learned the trick of claiming authority over their worlds' physical laws, and have become the total ruler of them in the process.
- Elaborate Underground Base: The Scarab's Lair is basically an underground pyramid located beneath Pyramid Plaza.
- Eldritch Abomination: The Unspeakable One, the entity worshiped by the Serpent People. Omega, Lord of the Terminus, could also count as one.
- The Empire: The Grue Unity and The Stellar Khanate.
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The Lost World.
- Everything Is Better With Monkeys: Cosmo the Moon Monkey. Dr. Simian. Earth-Ape
- Everything Is Even Worse With Sharks: Megalodon
- Evil Counterpart: The Tyranny Syndicate, the evil counterpart of the Freedom League. They're from Anti-Earth, an evil counterpart of the main Earth-Prime setting.
- Evil Sorcerer: Malador the Mystic hails from Atlantis who went to dark places for power and now exists as an undead evil creature.
- Evil Tower of Ominousness: Subverted by a rare heroic example, Pyramid Plaza. The Scarab's Silver Age incarnation built what amounts to "the World Trade Center, only with three buildings, and they're triangles" over his secret base. They're still the tallest buildings (and the hottest real estate) in Freedom City.
- The Faceless: In his incarnation as the superhero "The Scarab," Prince Heru-Ra wore a Cool Mask that covered his entire head.
- The Federation: The Lor Republic. Unlike most Federations, the humans are not prominent members of this group which tries to protect the universe against the predations of the Grue.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: The Mastermind was just a prehistoric hunter-gatherer, when the Preservers dissected him to serve as cloning material to create the various Human Aliens. His mind survived as a Digitized Hacker, and he has now become a Well-Intentioned Extremist Übermensch dedicated to bringing humanity to it's true potential...under his guidance.
- Flying Brick: Captain Thunder, Centurion, and Superior all possess abnormal levels of toughness and can fly.
- Fragile Speedster: Bolt, Downtime, and Johnny Rocket are all speedsters with high defense and low toughness, meaning they're hard to hit, but when hit, they fall relatively easily.
- Functional Magic: Baron Samedi, Eldrich, Hades, Malador the Mystic, Medea, Seven, Una, and the Queen of the Netherworld tap into a common source of magic in the universe.
- Genius Bruiser:
- Taurus, the Minotaur of Crete himself, possesses an perfect memory and a knack for puzzles. As one can imagine for someone who has lived since the heyday of Greece, this means he is very damn smart.
- Bruiser, of the Iron Age team FORCE Ops, is the resident team scientist. His mutation into a hulking brute leaves him with minimal physical dexterity, but his mind remains brilliant.
- Government Agency of Fiction: AEGIS (American Elite Government Intervention Service), The Ministry of Powers, UNCOT (United Nations Command on Terrorism), UNICORN (United Nations International Coalition Ordering the Reality Nexus), UNIQUE (United Nations International Quorum of Unaligned Exceptionals), UNISON (United Nations International Superhuman Oversight Network), UNPEC (United Nations Paranormal Enclave Committee), and UNSAC (United Nations Science Advisory Council).
- Gratuitous German: Nacht-Krieger (Night-Warrior). Roter Adler (Red Eagle). Schlasbringer (Sleep-Bringer). Schwarzpanzer (Black Tank). Totenkopf (Death's Head). Die Walküre (The Valkyrie). And, inevitably, Ubermensch (Overman).
- And in the Time of Crisis adventure, Der Übermenschen (The Supermen): Der Eule (The Owl), Die Geist (The Ghost), Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods), Der Hand Des Todes (The Hands of Death), Übermensch II (Overman II), and Weißer Ritter (White Knight).
- Great Gazoo: Quirk.
- Green Thumb: The Green Man.
- Hard Light: Tess Atom.
- Healing Hands: Lady Liberty.
- Hive Mind: The Grue Unity.
- Hollywood Voodoo: The designer wanted the Voodoo loa to be as important to the Freedom City setting as the Norse gods are in Marvel and the Greek gods are to DC.
- Humanoid Aliens: The Farsiders and the Lor. Justified, since they're both descendants of humans taken from Earth millions of years ago.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Bowman.
- The Jailer: The Warden.
- Kid Hero: The students of the Claremont Academy, especially the members of the Next-Gen and the Alterniteens.
- Kid Sidekick: Previous versions of the Bowman had a sidekick called Arrow. Two of them went on to become the next Bowman, and one became a Nineties Anti-Hero called Archer.
- Kill All Humans: Talos.
- Killed Off for Real: As a general rule, Freedom City doesn't have a Revolving Door Afterlife.
- Kill It with Fire: White Knight.
- A Load of Bull: Taurus, who gets extra points for being the Trope Codifier himself. Did we also mention he's a Magnificent Bastard with a knack for Xanatos Speed Chess?
- Legacy Character: Blackbird. Bowman & Arrow. Crimson Katana. Fear-Master. Johnny Rocket. King Cole. Lady Liberty. The Raven. Red Death. Siren. Sky Lord. Star Knight. Trawler.
- Several legacies are also explicitly left open for players to pick up and run with, some of which come complete with power templates to start from.
- Invoked as a cover for Daedalus who lets the public believe he's the legacy of the 1960's superhero but in fact actually is that hero (he also doesn't mention that he's THE Daedalus)
- The Legions of Hell: Hellqueen. Mr. Infamy.
- Light 'em Up: Beacon. Lady Liberty. White Rose & White Thorn.
- Living Shadow: Nacht-Krieger.
- Lizard Folk: The Serpent People.
- Magic Pants: "Morphic Molecules"
- Make Me Wanna Shout: Rant. Sonic.
- Making a Splash: Siren.
- Master of Illusion: Rave. Silver Scream.
- Multiversal Conqueror: Omega, Una.
- My Grandson Myself: Daniel Daedalus, one of the world's most brilliant scientists and engineers, is not merely named for the figure from Greek mythology, he is the original Daedalus. Many believe the Daedalus who fights alongside the Freedom League today is the son of the Daedalus from the 1960s; he does nothing to discount the rumor, since his immortality isn't widely known.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Omega, Lord of the Terminus.
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Daedalus. Dr. Atom. Dr. Simian. Dr. Sin. Overshadow.
- Physical God: Baron Samedi. Black Anubis. Donar, Lord of Thunder. Horus the Avenger. Siren (the second one).
- Playing with Fire: Pyre. White Knight.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Exaggerated with White Knight. He is literally a member of the Ku Klux Klan who was given fire powers by Mr. Infamy when he wanted to "purify the Earth".
- The Power of Rock: The second Fear-Master. The Maestro (but he uses Classical music).
- Power Crystal: Daka crystals, which can channel various forms of energy. The Moonstone, a psionic amplifier held by the Farsiders. The Starstone, the energy source for the Star Knights.
- Powered Armor: AEGIS Agents have access to the MAX and Super-MAX armors. The Power Corps are an octet of power armor-wearing mercenaries. The Star Knights are the Green Lantern Corp, but with suits of armor instead of rings. Daedalus, Devil Ray, Doc Otaku, Overshadow, and Star Khan are the most prominent individual users of power armor.
- Precursors: The Preservers.
- Psychic Powers: Chase Atom. The Cosmic Mind. The Farsiders. Mastermind. The Psions. The Scarab.
- Psycho Serum: The DNAscent Process. The assorted treatments offered by the Power House.
- Really 700 Years Old: Daedalus. Mastermind. Taurus. Medea.
- Ridiculously Human Robots: The Angel Androids.
- Robot Buddy: Freebooter. Talos was one, for Daedalus. The Chorale were also ones, for Daedalus. Notice a pattern?
- Science Hero: The Atom Family, particularly Dr. Atom and Tess Atom.
- Shock and Awe: Bolt. Captain Thunder.
- Shout-Out: Everything. Not only are there a ton of Alternate Company Equivalent s, Captain Ersatz s, and Expys, virtually every location in Freedom City is a loving homages to classic comic book characters and sites.
- Adamant is similar to Marvel's "The Destroyer"; both are Nigh Invulnerable suits of Animated Armor powered by a trapped soul and created to slay gods, though Adamant was created by Hades and not the Norse pantheon.
- AEGIS is the name of a mythological S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Argo the Ultimate Android is an Amazo expy.
- ASTRO Labs homages Astro City and DC's STAR Labs.
- The Atom Family is cut from the same cloth as the Fantastic Four, and a dash of Power Pack. And also a bit of the First Family in Astro City, especially in the sense that this family actually changed and grew over the decades.
- Moon-Son, the adult version of Chase Atom in the "Future Freedom" chapter of Worlds of Freedom, reflects Psi-Lord, the adult Franklin Richards from various Marvel near-futures.
- Black Star is Sinestro, but with the powers of the Shade.
- Bowman and Arrow are the Green Arrow and Speedy homages.
- Brittania is a Captain Britain expy.
- The law firm Cabot, Cunningham & Crowley references Laurie Cabot, Scott Cunningham, and Aleister Crowley, all occult authors.
- Centurion is their Superman expy (from a parallel Earth where the Roman Empire never fell). He died in battle with Omega, Lord of the Terminus, and he's stayed dead.
- Conundrum is a Riddler expy.
- Commander Landau, who's in charge of the Moonbase in the "Galactic Freedom" setting is named after Martin Landau, who played the Moonbase commander in Space: 1999.
- The Crime League is the Legion of Doom/Injustice Gang expy.
- The Curator shares much in common with Brainiac, specifically the version from the DCAU.
- He's much more like the Preserver of the same continuity. And Marvel Comics' Collector.
- Daedalus combines elements of both Iron Man and Hank Pym.
- Devil Ray is Black Manta. Coincidentally, Black Manta was renamed Devil Ray in Justice League.
- Doc Prophet, from Freedom's pulp age, is Doc Savage.
- Dr. Simian is equal parts Monsieur Mallah and Gorilla Grodd.
- Dr. Sin references all those sinister oriental masterminds from the pulps, especially Fu Manchu and Marvel's Yellow Claw, as well as Ra's al Ghul.
- Eldrich is a lot of Doctor Fate with a dash of Doctor Strange. He lives on Ditko Street.
- The Factor Four are the other Fantastic Four expy, but with stronger elemental ties, and evil.
- Fear Master (both of them) shares much in common with Batman's foe the Scarecrow, and the original's costume borrows heavily from the Phantasm.
- Freedom Eagle owes much to Golden Age Hawkman and The Rocketeer.
- The 26th century's Freedom Legion is the Legion of Super Heroes, although not all the members have direct counterparts. Having said that:
- Centurion II is Mon-El.
- Charger is Lightning Lad (except he's one of the "everyone from my planet can do this" characters and looks kind of like a blue Chameleon Boy).
- Colonel Colossus is Colossal Boy.
- Solar Flare is Sun Boy
- Chiller is Polar Boy (except he isn't one of the "everyone from my planet can do this" characters.)
- Metalla's magnetic powers don't quite fit any Legionnaires, but her costume is a clear homage to Dave Cockrum, looking a lot like the one he gave Shadow Lass.
- The Goanna is basically The Lizard with his fatal drive changed from "regrow missing limb" to "create ultimate anti-venom".
- Hiroshima Shadow is an isotope of Radioactive Man (the Marvel one, not the other one).
- The Green Man springs from the same soil as Poison Ivy and Plantman.
- Johnny Rocket is an expy of The Flash; his name, Johnny Wade, references Johnny Storm and Mark Waid. His being gay is in homage to Northstar, another speedster.
- The inspiration for the Kirby Museum of Fine Arts should be obvious.
- The school nurse at Claremont Academy is named Aretha Joy.
- Lady Liberty is a mix of Captain America and Wonder Woman. Her name, Beth Walton, references Betsy Ross and The Waltons.
- There's also a bit of Liberty Belle in there, and even DC's Uncle Sam (in Worlds Of Freedom, we're told that, just like Sam spent the American Civil War split into Billy Yank and Johnny Reb, the Spirit of Liberty empowered Columbia and Southern Belle).
- Her husband is Trevor Wright; a reference to Steve Trevor and a play on "Mr Right".
- The Pale Ranger in Worlds of Freedom's "Freedom by Gaslight" is basically Marvel's Phantom Rider, although he's got The Lone Ranger's origin (but the Silver Sheriff is the one who inherited a silver mine and used it to make bullets). He's also Doc Prophet's father, which could be a nod to the Lone Ranger being the uncle of The Green Hornet.
- Madame Zero is quite blatantly a gender-reversal of Mr. Freeze, only here it was an affair and subsequent breakup with her boyfriend that caused her to be transformed, and she got her career started by killing him, in contrast to Victor Frieze's driving goal to cure his cryogenically-suspended wife.
- Mr. Infamy has much in common with Mephisto.
- The Liberty League was the WW II-era superheroes team, while the Freedom League is the Silver Age and Modern era Justice League.
- Master Lee's School of Self Defense is named for two eponymous masters: Bruce and Stan.
- Mastermind partakes of elements from Magneto, Vandal Savage, and The Master of the World.
- Medea fills a similar role as Circe.
- Megalodon (Connor Kirkstrom) is an expy of the Lizard (Curt Connors) and Man-Bat (Kirk Langstrom), but he went with sharks.
- The Meta-Grue is the Super-Skrull expy.
- Nero could be argued as based on Maxie Zeus, but given actual madness-fuelled pyrokinesis.
- The Next Gen is very Teen Titans -esque. They're students at the Claremont Academy, which is a lot like Xavier's School for the Gifted. And among them, you've got Bolt (Kid Flash), Megastar (Captain Marvel), Seven (Raven), and Sonic (Static).
- Taking things even further, the Hero High sourcebook (which details Next Gen and the Claremont Academy in particular and teen heroes in general) has three archetypes that are quite blatantly Starfire (Alien Exile), Raven (Child of Darkness) and Robin (Protégé) with the names removed and nothing else. The Construct archetpe, meanwhile, has artwork that is basically Colossus of The X Men with some heavy weaponry slapped on.
- Omega, Lord of the Terminus borrows from both Darkseid and Thanos.
- In one supplement, he basically fills the role of the Anti-Monitor.
- Overshadow combines elements of Hastor (the constantly reincarnating enemy of Hawkman), Baron Zemo and Doctor Doom.
- Patriot, the main Captain America expy, is Jack Simmons, named after Cap's creators Jack Kirby and Joe Simon.
- Pseudo is very much a Martian Manhunter homage, though his race, the Grue, are much closer to a mash of the Skrull (militaristic shapeshifters) and the Kree (specifically, the Supreme Intelligence-like Grue Meta-Mind).
- Word of God is that they're named after the late Marvel executive editor Mark Gruenwald (their home planet is called Gruen-World).
- The Psions are Magneto and his Brotherhood of (Evil) Mutants, but for mutants with psychic abilities rather than any mutant.
- Quirk is Mr. Mxyzptlk, but slightly more annoying.
- The Raven (the first) filled the Batman expy. His daughter, the second Raven, homages Earth-2 Huntress (The daughter of Batman & Catwoman) as well as being the grandchild of the setting's equivalent of Ra's al Ghul.
- Sandstone is a blatant gender-reversed expy of Marvel's Sandman — she even has the name Alexandra Flint, tying her more to her comics inspiration (Flint Marko).
- The Scarab has elements of Hawkman, but with awesome Psychic Powers.
- Siren is a mix of Aquaman, Thor, Storm, and Wonder Woman.
- Sprite and Spriggan, from "Future Freedom", are Wasp and Giant Man, only they're siblings and their personalities are reversed.
- Star Knight is a Green Lantern homage, with bits of ROM: Spaceknight.
- The Thieves Guild are one-to-one homages to The Flash's Rogues: Huckster is Trickster; Bola is Captain Boomerang; Looking Glass is Mirror Master; Weather Mistress is Weather Wizard; Firebug is Heatwave; and the Mad Maple is Captain Cold. (Although the Maple's name and Canadian origin are also a Shout-Out to Big Name Fan Jim "T. M. Maple" Burke.)
- Thomas Rhymer is a John Constantine homage.
- Tobias Gregson, the 19th century Police Comissioner in "Freedom by Gaslight" shares his name with a police inspector in Sherlock Holmes.
- The Tick-Tock Doc could be argued as what might have happened if Doctor Who had become obsessed with human flowerchild counterculture and eventually turned into a well-meaning "hippie terrorist". He even travels through time and space in what is basically a cross between the Mystery Machine and the TARDIS.
- Talos is quite close to Ultron.
- Terra-King shares much in common with Marvel's Moleman.
- Tom Cyprus is similar to Solomon Grundy.
- Toy Boy is the DCAU Toyman expy. His last name, Lettam, is a Sdrawkcab Name.
- Der Übermenschen, of the Time of Crisis adventure, are direct parallels to DC's Freedom Fighters. Der Eule is Black Condor, Die Geist is Phantom Lady, Götterdämmerung is The Human Bomb, Der Hand Des Todes is Dollman, Übermensch II is Uncle Sam, and Weißer Ritter is The Ray.
- In the Erde setting, Dr. Tomorrow names his wonder chemical noburpolene.
- The Ultima (aka the Hyperboreans) are an expy of Marvel's Eternals
- Una, Queen of the Netherworld has much in common with Umar of the Dark Dimension.
- UNISON has a fair bit in common with UNIT, in particular having dealt with alien invaders operating from a base they had constructed in a gravel quarry in central England in 1969.
- White Lion and Dakana are a homage to Black Panther and Wakanda.
The Emerald City material contains the following tropes:
- Captain Ersatz: As usual with the setting, however now lampshaded with an actual character named Ersatz, who has the power to assume the form of an imperfect copy of any hero (In his first appearance via an illustration he takes the form of a fat version of Princess.)
- Cute Bruiser: Princess pretty much defines this trope.
- Green-Skinned Space Babe: Subverted with Xeno, who is a female of her species (actually the hybrid of a female alien and a female human), but looks like a bug like humanoid rather than a beautiful human woman.
- Hero Antagonist: The Cybertribe, a group of cyborgs and Digitized Hackers who work as thieves...against some very evil people, and only to get the money to repair their mechanical parts-which doubles as a life-support system. Explicitly called out in the overview of Heavy Metal, since if you rupture his Power Armor, it's likely because he's trying to buy time for the others to escape.
- Mass Super-Empowering Event: The Silver Storm has recently hit the city, with survivors gaining powers. There's an on-going adventure series where you try to discover why it happened.
- Playful Hacker: Digital Demon, one of the Cybertribe. Leads to a Crowning Moment of Funny when the report on him is handwritten, with some choice personal comments from the investigator.
- Samus is a Girl: Two different examples: Both Ultramarine and Xeno are difficult to identify as female unless you read their backgrounds.