All events in the “real world” occur in the Guardians campaign universe (hereafter GU) as well. So events like 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the BP oil spill happened when (and just as) they occurred in real life. Some significant differences:
• Space Station One is a large orbital platform that NASA put into operation in 1988. Used as a facility to study Zero-G conditions on medical and industrial processes, the station also serves as an orbital point for incoming and outgoing space shuttles and other craft. Located outside of Earth’s atmosphere, it serves as an excellent environment for special research and astronomy experiments.
• In October of 2003, CHESS separated from the United States Government and became an international entity. They answer directly to the United Nations Security Council. Their hierarchy remains the same, but they no longer have a headquarters in the Pentagon. Rather, they have bases in each of the 16 nations that make up the Security Council, as well as major facilities called Avian Base and Aqua Base that remain mobile. CHESS now stands for Central Headquarters, Extraordinary Sciences and Security. The King (Dr. Haroun Ghattary, aka Dr. Mercury) tends to focus on the Western, scientific world, while the Queen (Meihui Sun, aka Kan Yu) often concentrates on Eastern, psionic and supernatural forces.
• In November of 1993, a large contingent of paranormals took over the island republic of Madagascar and declared themselves the sovereign nation of New Babylon. This new kingdom went through a short period of upheaval, but nearly all humans fled the country and the superhumans settled down into a number of city-states. Each of these settlements seems to be autonomous, but there are some treaties and alignments within this unique country, and they regularly send a delegate to the United Nations. They are one of the 16 members of the United Nations Security Council but, not being a nuclear-weapon state, their delegate is an elected non-permanent member.
• Around half of Earth’s general population believes in the existence of extra-terrestrials. Numerous aliens have seen significant involvement on the planet, and a group of these willingly serve and protect as members of ART (the Alien Reconnaissance Team), which has a headquarters in Eastport, Maine. Though they are located in the United States and are friendly with that country’s government, they answer directly to the United Nations (but do not send a delegate).
• A powerful entity known as the GamesMaster lives in a floating fortress over the Amazon rainforest (where she keeps an eye on the Secret Land). When first encountered (in 2003), it was believed that this secretive figure was a man, but since that time she has appeared as a woman. While she has been an occasional ally of the Guardians, she has also seemed to have her own agenda, and has even been accused of using the team for her own purposes. She has extremely powerful technology, seems to monitor all 24 dimensions, and is intrigued and fascinated by games.
• Prisons for paranormals can be found in many countries around the world. In the United States, they can be found at Fear Island (located in Onslow Bay off the coast of North Carolina), just outside Lubbock, Texas, and in Custer County, Montana. Minos, a secretive underground facility in rural Virginia, has been shut down. CHESS is currently constructing super prisons on the dark side of the Moon and in the Mariana Trench (south of Japan and east of the Philippines).
• Registration is required of all paranormals, both in the United States (with FISH) and internationally (with CHESS). Paranormals have basic law enforcement authority, but are not required to have warrants or read prisoners their rights; abuse of this authority results in a revocation of these privileges.
• The Guardians are the premiere superhero team in the world. They are the GU’s version of the Avengers or Justice League. Formed in November of 1992, they often have a large membership with many of the most experienced, top paranormals on the planet.
• CHESS still retains many superpowered agents, which they supplement with spy-like operatives (Bishops and Angels) or support personnel (Rooks and Doves). When necessary, squadrons of Knights and Valkyries can be utilized.
• There are a number of other teams scattered around the globe that will rise to meet any challenge, including the Battalion, Crimson Guard, Indestructibles, and Protectors. In early 2011 many of the world’s superpowered heroes were slain as a result of a plot by Doctor Apocalypse and the World’s Scorned.
• Sleeper’s Paranormal Detective Agency, which operates out of New Orleans, is an ally of the Guardians.
• Mentor is a powerful hero who lives on the Moon.
• Elvis Presley is still alive (he was freed in 2003 after being trapped inside a paranormal assassin named Tesseract) and now lives as Sebastian Haff. He serves as one of the main operatives of Five Kings Investigations in Las Vegas (a group of Elvis impersonators that includes paranormals).
There are a number of evil organizations and individuals that threaten stability and world peace. Among them are:
• Doctor Apocalypse and the Destroyers: This despot wields incredible power, combining mystical forces and superior technology. He remains probably the world’s most dangerous paranormal, and has never been captured or completely defeated. He owns Nacht Island, a small group of islands in the Bermuda Triangle. The Destroyers, his superpowered agents, are Annihilator, Shapeshifter, Behemoth, Ratman, Electrocutioner, and Iron Maiden.
• TOTEM: Originally founded in South America in the 1950’s to continue ideas on racial superiority popular in Europe a decade earlier, TOTEM (Total Order Through Elimination of the Masses) has since become one of the biggest criminal organizations on the planet. They seek world domination through subterfuge, technology, and science. Led by the enigmatic Adalwolf (who might be Psi-Prime in a new body), their operatives include Faultline, Blonde Berserker, Panthera, Kismet, Menton, Sable, Karnage, Hellspawn, Backfire, Gila, Bear Claw, and Bjorn.
• Freedom of Chaos: Much is still not known about the possible joining of many of the world’s beings who utilize magic and sorcery. Members include former powerful agents of the World’s Scorned, Zarton Team, and Seven Servants to Sargatanas: Dar’kness, Lokilani, Koal, Vol, Barbarian, Caster, Phase, Meknoid, Medusa, Saberdance, Arachnia, Dark Clown, and Samhain.
• Intercrime: Nearly wiped out over years of careful planning by the Alliance, Intercrime has steadily risen back to prominence. They remain secretive and insidious in their methods, and always seek to gain new technology and weaponry. They control many lesser syndicates, and are known for having fanatical loyalty among their agents. The current leader is called the Suit. Paranormals known to work for them include Robot, Shadowjack, Darkshine, Black Mamba, Lightning Lord, Spyder, Crossfire, Noose, Black Empress, Apollo, Fire-Arm, Detonator, and Brainmelt.
• The Alliance: A union of numerous paranormals with nefarious goals. It was formed in 1980 by a being known as Master, who gathered a group of unique individuals and amplified their abilities. Each member concentrates on a specific area of expertise. Known associates include Widow, Viper, Mr. Dark, Sting, Gir, General, and Vampire.
• Force: A sophisticated android who has formed a terrorist organization to serve his needs. It is believed that the villain is quite insane, but still very intelligent and charismatic. Members include Mr. Magnum, Snowblind, Liberator, Oscillator, Clamor, and Shadarkos.
• The Future: Formerly led by Brainwave, this strange cult seems only interested in converting followers. They appear to be connected with paranormal fight clubs that have cropped up on the East Coast. In the past they have utilized the time-traveling Robot 62417 as well as Adamantron, FIST, Mace, Fourarm, and Pirate.
• Tarot Masters: Created by the magician Mr. Noman, this group is fashioned after the Tarot deck of fortune-telling cards. Their goals and aims are unknown, but they do seem to be interesting in acquiring magical artifacts. The Major Arcana includes the Magician (Noman himself), Diablo, Priestess, Moonflash, Strength, Hermit, World, King of Swords, Hanged Man, Death, Empress, Daystar, and Jupiter.
• The Amida Tong: Still in control of the West Coast of the United States, the Yamaguchigumi have grown from yakuza mobsters into a high-tech elite crime organization run by the Shujin. In addition to armies of ninja, the Amida Tong includes Ghengis Chi, Dowager, Black Tiger, Maiden Japan, Hayagriva, Old Man, Kamikaze, and Preying Mantis.
• CRIME: This mercenary organization also controls much of the street crime on the US East Coast. Members include Stallion, Kill-Bird, Brimstone, Psi-Lancer, and Siren.
• The Zodiac Syndicate: An older, mysterious group called the Zodiac has not been heard from for over a decade. Now a new organization that believes that laws should only apply to the common man has banded together to increase their own power and wealth.
• There are many other villain groups and dangerous individuals that could emerge as threats at any time, from alien races like the Capellans and the Vai’Kesh to vampires, and numerous invaders from other dimensions. World-threat level villains include Dr. DNA, Master Zero, Motivator, Dr. Destroyer, Dr. Squallus, and the Empress Terra Tyrannia.