ORACLE File A00231
I’ve decided that it might be good to keep a journal, a record of events beyond the digital recordings and timestamps, something to give a human perspective to the task I’ve taken on. Even writing that makes me want to laugh. The irony of ORACLE, computerized liason to the world’s remaining superhero community, wanting to give a human perspective to her work is not lost on me.
Let’s start with the baseline. The Justice League is gone. Superman, Batman, anyone and everyone who was ever on the roster, including those who were no longer in active service and the support staff who managed daily operations of the Watchtower satellite and Hall of Justice, disappeared abruptly and without warning. Heroes go missing all the time, but those responsible for the disappearance usually leave a trail (intentionally or otherwise) for the missing hero’s compatriots to follow to the source. So far, no such trail has been discovered, and no supervillain has stepped forward to claim victory.
Ever the optimist, Batman created a contingency plan if the Justice League should disappear entirely under inexplicable circumstances for more than 48 hours. The ORACLE (Online Remote Assist Computerized Lifeline Engine) Protocol went into full effect on today’s date, Dec. 28th, 2011, but not entirely as planned.
Problem #1: What do you do when your contingency plan is still in the developmental stages? The protocol was conceptualized, and certain parts of the program were already in place with information and resources from the Justice League, but the AI to manage that database and disperse it to whichever superheroes remained was not ready for implementation. The solution, of course, was to find someone with computer programming experience who can fill in the blanks left by the incomplete protocol, preferably one who’s already within or at the periphery of the superhero community. That would be me.
It’s a fine balancing act, bringing a computer to life while keeping hidden the human part of the equation that makes it work so efficiently. The program itself is amazing, allowing me to search the Justice League’s database with an intuitive understanding of what I need to find that would make Google green with envy. What I can’t find in their database I can usually access by hacking into government databases and other computer caches of useful information. The search feature is fast, but it doesn’t take good old fashioned detective work into account. Under the guise of “data processing/loading,” I can read through the presented materials and offer theories and guesswork that no computer could possibly create. The subterfuge is aided with a voice modulator that digitally alters my speech so I sound like the very computer Batman was trying to finish. Hotkeys programmed for common responses are what I’m working on now, to speed up my response time and further cover my involvement in helping the superhero community.
Or what’s left of the superhero community, I should say.
Problem #2: When the world’s greatest superheroes have vanished without a trace, who do you turn to for help? While there are certain law enforcement agencies that have experience with metahuman threats, they’ve always been, at best, a means of delaying the inevitable until a superhero can come in to handle the problem. We won’t even get into the government’s botched attempts to monitor and manage the world’s growing metahuman population. The Justice League went on an extensive recruitment drive a couple years back, after the whole Thanagarian occupation, by working off of a comprehensive list of metahumans and extraordinary humans compiled by Batman. Fortunately, that list was never added to the Justice League database in the unlikely but not impossible event of a breach in the Watchtower’s security.
I have the list at my fingertips. By accessing the Justice League’s extensive assets, it didn’t take me very long to start enlisting aid. Some of my agents operate solo. Some, I’ve set up into teams. Very few of these teams know about each other. Rather than pooling them all into one new Justice League, I’ve decided to keep them largely autonomous to avoid a repeat of the League’s mass disappearance. The less they know about each other, the better for all involved.
Speaking of which, one of my teams needs my help in Keystone City. I’ll continue this later.
If you’ve been keeping up with Story Mode: JLA thus far, you’ve probably guessed that this is not the DCU you know and love. It’s not even the DCnU. So, which DC Comics setting am I using for my roleplaying game?
The thing about playing in an established comic book universe is that there are so many versions to choose from. Comic fans are familiar with the multiverse concept where different versions of their heroes fight the good fight on infinite Earths. Since Infinite Crisis and 52, that number has been dramatically reduced to 52 alternate DCU Earths, but the diversity of those that remain is just as strong.
Not everyone in my gaming group reads comic books, so I didn’t want to bombard them all with a lot of confusing continuity, which meant that the sprawling DCU as it was pre-Flashpoint was out. The DCnU and its Swiss cheesed continuity is even more confusing to those who have read comics, so that wasn’t even a consideration. I turned instead to Earth-12, the world of the DC animated universe that started with Batman: The Animated Series and continued on through the Superman and Justice League shows to the futuristic Batman Beyond. This gave me a strong foundation of iconic names and places that was still flexible enough for me to introduce my favorite elements from the comics into a roleplaying game. Some of my players were already familiar with that setting, and those who weren’t could easily catch up on relevant episodes online. I could also surprise my comic-savvy players with a new take on familiar faces.
For those familiar with the DCAU, my game begins not long after the final season of Justice League Unlimited, but well before Batman Beyond.
What sort of new elements will be introduced? Well, you’ve already seen the introduction of my version of Oracle. Keep reading each week, there are more surprises to come! Also, I’ll be fielding questions about my game in the Comic Booked Forums, so stop on by and I’ll try to answer what I can without spoiling future articles!