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Tabletop Game / Freedom City

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Heroes and villains.

Freedom City is the default setting for the Mutants & Masterminds game system. Freedom City, the actual town, is the default setting for all three editions of the gamenote  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.

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This setting contains the following tropes:

  • Abusive Precursors: The Preservers are explicitly noted as being amoral and unempathetic. The Preservers were also the first race to evolve in the setting and transplanted massive numbers of humans across the galaxy, leading to the creation of things like the Lor Republic.
  • 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 is a smiling, happy, and friendly businessman who will happily give anyone superpowers if they shake his hand. He's implied to be The Devil.
  • Affirmative-Action Legacy:
    • The second Johnny Rocket, the setting' premiere NPC speedster, is openly gay.
    • The second Raven is female. (The third one is male again.)
    • As of third edition, the fourth Lady Liberty is a Hispanic transwoman.
  • 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.
  • Albinos Are Freaks: Atlas of Earth Prime has Whitestone, a Tanzanian albino superhero who fights the prejudices and superstition his home country has regarding albinism.
  • 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 protects villains as well as aids in organized crime, and is directly connected to hell.
  • Ancient Egypt: The Scarab's origin story began here, as did Overshadow's. They are both continually reincarnated since then and don't necessarily have much in common (the Silver Scarab less than Overshadow as the latter is Those Wacky Nazis).
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Labyrinth, Taurus' organization, is The Illuminati and secretly controls much of the world's finances with him as its leader.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: While we don't get a huge amount of detail on what they are, Spirits exist. Dr. Metropolis is the living embodiment/spirit of Freedom City, while Hiroshima Shadow is the equivalent of... yeah. Jack-A-Knives is the Spirit of Murder while Lady Liberty is empowered by the Spirit Of Liberty. There are a few others mentioned in various parts of the law.
  • Anti-Hero: While mostly an idealistic setting, there are a few of these listed under villains. The Silencer — basically the Punisher with sound powers — is the most prominent.
  • Badass Normal: While superpowers are very common, there's a number of incredibly talented regular people who use their special skills to deal with superhuman crime (or perpetuate it). The most famous of these in-universe are Orion the Hunter and the Raven.
  • Black-and-White Morality: While the heroes are overall Lighter and Softer than Modern Marvel and DC Comics, the setting is actually quite dark in many places. SHADOW is a continuing threat of fascist ideology that isn't going anywhere, most of the world's economy is under the control of the Labyrinth, and there's bigoted groups like the Litmus Group that are practicing slavery on aliens that aren't considered legal citizens. Basically, the heroes are very-very good in Freedom City but the villains are very-very evil.
  • 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).
    • While the above agencies are generally presented in a positive light (yes, even the one from the UN) as professionals just doing their jobs to keep the world safe from supervillains, the Iron Age of Freedom City saw the brutish, oppressive POF-SWAT (Price of Freedom SWAT), courtesy of mob-affiliated Mayor Moore, gun down a defenseless teenage superhuman, among other atrocities.
    • The Litmus Group is a bunch of Fantastic Racism suffering corporates who deploy their teams in order to capture aliens and force them into slavery due to their questionable legal status. This, of course, includes any superpowered heroes of alien origin.
  • The Cape: Freedom City encourages this kind of hero as it is a land of bright, noble, and optimistic heroes who use their powers to protect the innocent. The Centurion was the most famous example of these but died battling Omega in the backstory while Captain Thunder followed his lead (albeit was much less powerful). With Captain Thunder's retirement, the role is left open for the PCs.
  • Captain Geographic: Britannia. Lady Liberty and Patriot for America. Mad Maple thinks he's one for Canada. In the case of Lady Liberty, she's a embodiment of the spirit of America and empowered by ideas like freedom and justice.
  • 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.
  • Casting a Shadow: Black Star is a former Star Knight who gained the power of the Night Stone that allows him powers of Darkness. Nacht-Krieger is a Nazi supervillain who was transformed into a living shadow by Overshadow, and still works for him now.
  • City of Adventure: Freedom City is New England city that has dozens of active heroes and villains at any given time. The setting actually has plenty of things going on at any given time that the PCs will never lack for things to do and also numerous suggestions for dealing with the, "Why doesn't the Freedom League deal with it?"
  • Comic Book Tropes: Being a comic book inspired RPG, this is a given. These include The Cape, The Cowl, The Crown, Captain Patriotic, and Superman Stays Out of Gotham.
  • The Cowl: The Raven and Foreshadow are the two most obvious examples of this as they are heroes that wear all-black and fight street level crime as well as engage in pulpier adventures. Foreshadow has superpowers, unlike Raven, but it is limited to precognition.
  • 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 has the player characters visit multiple worlds while attempting to stop Omega from destroying their universe.
  • 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 technology 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. Generally, this is a more black and white case than normal as the Scarab is a heroic good guy and Overshadow was Hitler's number 2# his latest life.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • The 1980s and early 1990s, as detailed in the Iron Age supplement. This was when superheroes were outlawed in Freedom City and a bunch of ruthless antiheroes came into prominence.
    • Third Edition has something of this flavor as several heroes are now dead or out of action while the villains have gotten a power upgrade. The Lor Republic, formerly The Federation, has been replaced with the Stellar Khanate that is The Empire.
  • Deal with the Devil: Mr. Infamy's shtick is that he happily gives people superpowers just by shaking his hand. It's just they're all scumbags or someone who is quickly corrupted by their powers.
  • Descriptiveville: Freedom City is a place of amazing opportunities and superpowers.
  • 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:
  • 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 Empire is a place run by racial purity-obsessed shapeshifting aliens based on the Skrull Empire from Marvel comics. They infiltrate and conquer worlds as a matter of state policy.
    • The Stellar Khanate is a brutal military dictatorship run, appropriately enough, by the Star Khan. By 3rd Edition, it has conquered the Lor Republic.
  • Everybody Hates Hades: Both Hades and Baron Samedi are treated as pure villains, rather than the more complicated figures they are in their source mythology.
  • 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.
  • Expendable Clone: 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.
  • 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. Sadly, it has fallen by 3rd Edition, and been replaced with The Empire.
  • 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.
  • 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 √úbermensch dedicated to bringing humanity to its true potential... under his guidance.
  • 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.
  • Good Running Evil: By 3rd Edition, Seven defeated Una, Queen of the Netherworld, and by ancient rules of conquest, now rules the Netherworld. This is a bad thing for her because she is barred from Earth, and giving up the office would lead to the Netherworld dissolving, killing all of its inhabitants.
  • 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 is a seemingly omnipotent child who shows up, plays reality warping games with heroes and disappears. He's mostly harmless, although some people are unnerved by how they know nothing about what he is, where he comes from or how he does what he does.
  • Hive Mind: The Grue Unity is the primary example, an alien hive-mind dedicated to subsuming all other life that made multiple attempts on earth. Recently, its started to be rivaled by the Cosmic Mind, a psychic human mind which was launched into space.
  • 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 is a Captain Ersatz for all the various archer heroes of comics, and has the skills to match.
  • The Jailer: Warden, who worked on making prisons as non-cardboardy as possible, and got a bit fed up with people making that task harder by telling him that the prisoners have rights; didn't they forfeit those when they ended up in prison? His current goal is to overthrow "soft and corrupt" law and replace it with something altogether more draconian. He imprisons people in the "Dungeon Dimension", one of the many realms of the "Dimension of Doors", by means of a hyperdimensional key of his own design.
  • 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 '90s Anti-Hero called Archer.
  • Kill All Humans: Talos is a rogue AI created by Daedalus dedicated to wiping out all humanity. He mostly does this by being the source of Offscreen Villain Dark Matter for the world's various villains, but he sometimes takes the initiative himself.
  • Killed Off for Real: As a general rule, Freedom City doesn't have a Revolving Door Afterlife.
  • Knight of Cerebus : The game generally holds to the style of low-stakes, silver age comic books with ridiculous villains. However, there are also villains like Jack Of Knives (a body-jumping serial killer), White Knight (a pyrokinetic KKK member) and Hiroshima Shadow (the wrathful souls of everyone killed in Hiroshima seeking revenge on the USA) who make things far more serious when they show up.
  • Legacy Character: There's a lot of them- 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)
  • Legacy of the Chosen: Every generation, a young woman is chosen by The Spirit Of Legacy to become Lady Liberty, superheroic protector of freedom. As of third edition, its evil counterpart The Spirit Of Anarchy has entered Earth Prime and started a legacy of its own...
  • The Legions of Hell: They're rarely present, but they show up sometimes. Hellqueen is the most prominent demon active on earth, and Mr. Infamy may be...information is unclear.
  • Living Shadow: Nacht-Krieger. His backstory implies the existence of an entire dimension of these for which he was the vangaurd in our dimension.
  • Lizard Folk: The Serpent People. They ruled the entire world before the preservers, and while most have devolved to animalism, some retain their sapience and plot to reclaim their world.
  • Multiversal Conqueror: Una seeks to conquer all dimensions and reshape them in her image, although in Third Edition she's dead and Seven has (unwillingly) ended up in control of her empire. Omega is a variant — while he invades dimensions, he's not trying to rule them, but destroy them.
  • 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.
  • Nominal Hero: Larceny Inc. are straight up criminals, but do as much to oppose the Labyrinth as most heroes.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Omega, Lord of the Terminus, is constantly working to destroy the entire multiverse as an act of worship for Entropy. Third Edition reveals other agents of Entropy working as cross-ends with him — they want to destroy the multiverse but in a different way.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Most science-themed heroes and villains don't really have a focused domain. It's comics, after all.
  • Physical God: As befitting the comics, several deities have been active on earth, from pantheons as diverse as Voodoo (Baron Samedi and Siren), Egyptian (Black Anubis and Horus the Avenger), Olympian (Hades) and Norse (Donar). Part of The Pact in the setting is intended to prevent the gods from coming to Earth in physical form, although there are multiple loopholes.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: 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 uses rock music to inspire supernatural fear in others. This gives him perhaps one of the pettiest villain rivalries with The Maestro, who does basically the same thing but with 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, who genetically modified humans to their current state and have left high-tech relics around the setting that still produce superhumans today.
  • Psychic Powers: A common source of powers, mostly focused around the psychic royalty of Farside City.
  • Psycho Serum: The DNAscent Process makes people superhuman, but its not good for the morality or sanity. Various derivatives, with varying levels of power and safety, are floating around the setting.
  • Really 700 Years Old: There's less immortals then most comics, but there's a few around. Daedalus and his Rogue's Gallery date from ancient Greece, while Mastermind was once a neolithic hunter.
  • Science Hero: The Atom Family, particularly Dr. Atom and Tess Atom, who take the role of the Fantastic Four in investigating scientific dangers.
  • 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. They have their own page here.
  • Space Station: The Freedom League have recently moved to one from their earth-based headquarters.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Almost every member of the Thieves' Guild: the Bola, the Firebug, the Huckster, the Weather Mistress, the Mad Maple, and... Looking Glass. Well, almost.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: The Bowman's real name is Fletcher Beaumont.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: SHADOW started out as this. While its leader Overshadow isn't actually a nazi(as an immortal body-jumping spirit, he's been most races at least one), he's more then willing to exploit those who are to get useful idiots.
  • Superhero Capital of the World: The eponymous Freedom City was originally the centre of super activity. This is lampshaded in Atlas of Earth-Prime, which notes that America has more supers than the rest of the world, and Freedom has more supers than comparable cities in America, and offers Watsonian and Doylist explanations. The former is that superheroes began as an American phenomenon, and the Freedom setting was originally just the city, so of course that's where all the characters were based. The latter is that when the Centurion arrived from an alternate reality, the accompanying wave of quantum weirdness essentially turned the whole city into a Weirdness Magnet. Origin events are more common, and superhumans are more likely to settle there. In third edition, the Mass Empowering Event in Emerald City has resulted in superhumans being as common there as in Freedom, but Emerald supers are more likely to move away than in Freedom.
  • Superhero Tropes: Being a superhero comic book inspired RPG, this is also a given.
  • Super Family Team: The main example is the Atom Family on the side of the heroes. They have an evil counterpart in the form of a family of evil psychics.
  • Thememobile: The original Midnight got around in the Night Cruiser.
  • Unobtainium: Daka crystals, a mysterious crystal that provides energy powers, are the primary example in the setting, although various other nebulous materials like "Impervium" or "Orichalcum" also show up.
  • 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, or a Nominal Hero.
  • Villainous Harlequin: Wildcard, although he's not entirely without threat — in the multiverse supplement he caused a world-destroying nuclear war in one timeline.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: Partially averted for the Claremont Academy Next Gen members. While they are expected to keep up their grades and participate in regular childhood activities, the school also provides accommodations for the students on the team.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: The Power House can do it. Also, this happened to Patriot.

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 Funny Moment 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.