A basic skeleton idea for a potential cross-faction plot, inspired by the events of UXM #190-191
. Basically, our heroes end up in a sword-and-sorcery milieu and have to return home.DETAIL: First Act (> 20,000 BC)
Mutants have been around for a very long time. This story begins with two mutants named Kulan Gath
, who were active during a prehistoric period we will call the "Hyborian Era". (The exact dates of this period are unclear, but it was between 20,000 and 50,000 years ago, in the late Stone Age.)
- Kulan Gath was, for lack of a better word, a sorceror.
More precisely, he had the mutant power to warp reality to his will,
much like the modern-day mutants William Kaplan and Wanda Maximoff, which he focused through ritual spells and incantations.
The primary limit to his power (other than limits to his own ability to rapidly and reliably focus his thoughts) was that it could not cross large bodies of open water.
- He was born in the year 223 of the Hyborian Era, on a large island called Hyperborea.
Hyperborea was not too far from the modern-day Principality of Madripoor, and might or might not be in some way related to the legendary Old Atlantis.
- Fearful of assassins, he used his power to establish defensive shields around himself against every inimical force he knew about: crushing/impact, pointed/edged weapons, poison, disease, age, attempts to affect his mind/spirit/lifeforce, fire/heat, ice/cold, suffocation, lightning, forcible displacement (e.g. kidnapping), etc. His immunity to such attacks quickly became well-known, and assassination attempts dropped sharply.
He also established a back-up defense: any "magical" effect that got through those shields would affect the person who created the effect as well. This was not well-known.
- By his 18th birthday (241 HE) Kulan Gath was absolute ruler of Hyperborea and had begun assembling an army to bring his rule to lands across the sea.
Comic canon notwithstanding, he wasn't an evil man... at least not by the standards of his time. He had power, and he used it to conquer; that's just how things worked.
That said, he was by modern standards a ruthless tyrant: his subjects had a higher standard of living under his rule than they otherwise would have, but they had no freedom to speak of.
- Selene was, again for lack of a better word, a vampire, with the mutant ability to drain the life force from others to sustain her own.
Another aspect of her power was that draining the life-forces of other mutants allowed her to use their powers temporarily,
much like Rogue. She enjoyed that aspect immensely and had dedicated herself for some time to hunting other mutants.
- She was born in the year 17 HE and had lived over two centuries by the time of Kulan Gath's birth; her power allowed her eternal youth as long as she didn't mind continuous killing to maintain it (which she didn't).
When Selene first heard rumors of Kulan Gath, she coveted his power and headed to Hyperborea to harvest it. When she arrived, though, she discovered her power was insufficient to penetrate his "magical" defenses.
For a time she was balked, until she encountered a mutant with the power to create temporal stasis-fields. This, she realized, was something Kulan Gath would not have specifically shielded himself against... an entirely novel, technically harmless, kind of attack that would nevertheless take him out of commission.
So she fed on the mutant, snuck her way to Kulan Gath's side, and pounced. Sure enough, Kulan Gath was embedded in temporal stasis -- as, thanks to his back-up defense, was Selene.
The Hyperborean Empire collapsed before it had hardly gotten started, known only in legend (if that), and Kulan Gath and Selene remained in stasis for millenia.DETAIL: Second Act (modern-day)
They wake up.
Some possibilities for how this happens:
- It just happens... the stasis effect was never actually permanent, just close enough for practical purposes.
- It just happens... the stasis effect was never complete stasis, just a huge temporal slowdown; it has taken KG this long to form the thought "Make this effect go away!"
- Some scavengers around Madripoor find two indestructable "statues" and sell them to someone who figures out how to reverse the stasis effect. (Why, yes, I have read "World of Ptaavs," why do you ask?)
Billy makes a careless wish that there were someone else around with a power like his, who would understand what he's going through.
However it happens, the stasis field is turned off and Kulan Gath and Selene awaken. They are not near each other when it happens.
KG quickly figures out that he's in the future and that the future is full of powerful figures he doesn't understand and doesn't want to mess with, and decides he wants to go back. But the future is also full of powerful tools and weapons and he wants to bring them back with him! So he uses his power to bring the entire landmass he's on back to his time.
Or, well, he tries to, anyway. Time travel is, well... tricky. It may even be impossible, but in any case, KG doesn't succeed at it. Instead he ends up shifting the entire landmass he's on into another dimension, a recreation of the Hyborian Era (complete with native humans).
As far as the rest of the world is concerned, the landmass just vanishes, leaving behind an incomprehensible energy field.DETAIL: How/which PCs get involved
A lot depends on where KG is when he does this, which mostly depends on how big we want the plot to be.
At one extreme, KG awakens on his own and brings some island near Madripoor with him, and the only affected PCs are the ones who happen to be on that island for some reason (or who can somehow pierce the dimensional wall on their own).
That would make this a relatively small plot with minimal reprecussions, although not necessarily too
presumably Billy and Wanda would be able to cross the interdimensional barrier, at the very least, which could bring in the X-Men and X-Factor
. (Plus the Brotherhood and the HFC might be meeting with the Shi'ar to further various criminal ends; SHIELD might be investigating rumors of Brotherhood activity;
Corsair and his crew might be in the area
; yadda yadda.)
At the other extreme: the stasised bodies are shipped to the Museum of Natural History before they awaken, and KG brings the entire island of Manhattan with him.
That would make this a very large plot with substantial reprecussions. Well, unless we want to wimp out the way Marvel did and have a "make it never happened" ending, but I hate those.
Or, to go a whole different
route: the stasised bodies are sold to someone in Sanctuary. I'm not really sure what
happens in that case, but it would not be dull.DETAIL: What happens then
Haven't worked this out in any detail, but basically KG sets himself up as God-Emperor of the new empire of Hyperborea and goes back to trying to rule the world.
One key twist is that the Hyperborean dimension works as Kulan Gath understands the world to work
: that is, with "gods", "demons", not-entirely-functional-technology, "magic", etc. (I use scare-quotes because these things can be "not really magical" if we wish, insofar as that phrase means anything. Clarke's Third Law applies.)
In other words, our heroes have been transported into a heroic fantasy setting, a la Robert Howard's Conan
books and the whole sword-and-sorcery comic genre they inspired. We can even throw an NPC Conan into the mix as a kind of homage, though he's not actually important.
Some people will handle this better than others, of course.
Anyway, some PCs/NPCs/factions are mindcontrolled to serve him, others choose to, others pretend to in order to betray him. Still others resist, and yet others pretend to resist in order to betray the resistance.
Selene goes back to trying to defeat him, and becomes central to the resistance (mostly so they can get some background info about the world and not be completely bewildered all the time).
Subsequent action primarily involves the resistance trying to survive and find a way to defeat KG. If it's a large plot, then inter-PC conflicts become central as well.
Plus there's the exploring-Hyperborea aspect of it, which is what I expect to be the most fun. Draw on your favorite heroic fantasy source material for inspiration.
This might go on for a few days, or it might go on for months, or time might run differently in different dimensions and it could do both.DETAIL: Wrapping it up
There's a lot of ways we can end this, anywhere from our heroes escaping Hyperborea and returning to their home dimension (with the kidnapped humans in tow, leaving KG and Selene and possibly the island itself behind), to our heroes defeating Kulan Gath and reversing the effects of his power altogether.
That said, my personal favorite ending is that the resistance decides that KG isn't actually any more evil than, say, Alexander the Great, that this dimension under his rule might not actually be such a bad thing (living in the Hyperborean Empire sure beats being gobbled up by Shuma-Gorath, after all!), and that the actual villain of this piece is Selene.
So they end up negotiating with KG to peacefully let them and anyone who wants to come with them go back home. Really, what does he care? He has a whole world to conquer!