2011 Ennie Award nominee for Best Setting!
For the PDF of Progenitor and Wild Talents Essential Edition, click here.
Check out the Progenitor wiki! And see "Powerlines" for more information.
Progenitor is a massive Wild Talents setting sourcebook from Arc Dream Publishing. Nearly 400 pages long, it's written by Greg Stolze, creator of the One-Roll Engine, co-author of Wild Talents, Godlike, and Unknown Armies, and author of Reign: A Game of Lords and Leaders.
Progenitor is a superhero setting about big ideas. A single woman gains inconceivable power then unwittingly passes it on to a handful of people. They pass it along to others in turn, and so on, and soon thousands of men and women around the world share that strange power in different forms.
Some of them use their powers for their own personal gain or gratification. Others try to help those around them. Others change the world itself.
What will your characters do with that kind of power?
History Is In Your Hands
Progenitor features a deep alternate history, exploring the shape of the world as we knew it and the changes that are wrought by metahumans year by year.
Dozens of characters described in great detail, plus the world-spanning movements and new nations that they establish.
Detailed rules allow you to change history as you go, guided by four broad metrics: Suspicion, Technology, Economy and Warfare. Which metrics are most dominant set the tone for international culture. A "one roll" chart generates major developments year by year that can be built into new scenarios and entire campaigns.
Other rules describe gadgeteers' effects on society according to the "metrics" of social change.
There are rules for "syntergenics," memes crafted by activists with superhuman intelligence to affect human behavior with an image and change the world with an idea.
There is endless room for player characters to change the world around them using the new rules, to react to changes worked by rivals and enemies, or to simply try to carry out their lives as the pressures around them build.
Progenitor began as a thread on RPG.net, where Greg came up with the idea and developed it in detail. He also posted reports from a playtest campaign. Those should give a sense of one way to approach the setting. But it's much, much bigger than that.
To the Brink and Back
Progenitor tracks the history of the world from 1968 to 1999: From the moment the Progenitor, Amanda Sykes, gains her incredible powers to her strange departure from the global scene. Beyond that, the world is each individual GM's to build and explore using the rules in the book.
The history of the world of the Progenitor is given in rich detail, divided into three broad sections. First is the Rise of the Progenitor, from 1968 to 1982, when the metahumans spread rapidly and change the world around them, mostly, it seems, for the better.
Then comes the Metapocalypse, when the actions of a single evil metahuman bring the entire world to the brink of destruction.
In the later years the world changes further. Incredible technologies propogate between 1983 and 1999, metahumans around the world take on superheroic personae, and subtle ideas and images conceived by metahumans' impossible intelligence influence individuals and entire nations.
The highly distinctive styles of three brilliant artists illustrate the changes in the world. Todd Shearer's work can be seen in many Arc Dream projects, from Wild Talents Second Edition to the new sourcebooks for Delta Green. Samuel Araya was an illustrator in the first edition of Wild Talents and his work graces Atlas Games' Unknown Armies Second Edition and many of White Wolf's World of Darkness games. Vicente Sivera Catalá contributed to the Conan, Traveller, and Elric game lines for Mongoose Publishing.
Reviews of Progenitor:
Actual Plays and Discussion
Previews and Free Downloads:
The Rise of the Progenitor: 1968 to 1982
1970—Amanda Sykes saves thousands in a devastating earthquake in Ancash, Peru: "I remember just what I was thinking as he took that picture, you know," she says. Her arms are crossed, holding herself, cigarette smoldering by her shoulder. "I was thinking 'What went wrong?'"
Ngyuet Cam goes from being a simple Vietnamese villager to being one of the smartest people alive in the course of one encounter with Amanda. Smarter than most and more ruthless than any, Cam believes that only she can re-forge the human race into their destiny among the stars.
1969: Dissatisfied with America’s society, Cynthia Carls creates her own island in the Atlantic ocean, calls it “Atlantis” and declares a do-over.
Tina Shaw is just a little girl who wants to make sick people better. Her power has the unfortunate side effect of creating bizarre, sometimes malevolent monsters that the world nicknames "Shavians."
When you give a whole lot of power to someone who’s never had any, it doesn’t always end well.
Amy Sykes was a normal young Kansas girl until the day her mommy blew up.
The Metapocalypse: 1983
Rudolph "Metal Virus" Phelps: If you look at his history there is nothing to make you think him capable of arranging the deaths of many millions of people.
1983: "C’est Paris!" Antoine called out. "Paris est chuté! Paris est détruit!"
||1983: The balance of power in South America is less stable, and often dictators find it easier to just cede a city (or an entire province) to a megalomaniac metahuman, rather than waste their army trying to bring him down.|
1983: Some of the strangest and saddest episodes arose from the deployment of dangerous syntergenes. "Instant brainwashing" caused over a hundred gun owners in Wisconsin and Iowa to open fire on anyone wearing a uniform with a US flag on it.
Changing Times: 1983 to 1999
The space elevator Thien The Thang Máy has 10d for lifting things up to 62,000 miles away from the Earth’s surface. It takes Nguyet 5 Base Will and five months to design the thing. If the global free market is given access to Thien The Thang Máy, for two years it produces a +1 global Technology bonus, and then a +1 global Economy boost for three years. If she keeps it for the sole use of Progressive Harmony nations, they get +1 bonuses to War and Technology for two years, and then +1 bonuses to Technology and Economy for three years. But they produce a global +1 bonus on Suspicion if kept for Vietnam alone.
Alphonse "Zipperneck" Russo. Infected with dark energy, Zipperneck could not only fly, he’d developed massive strength and near-invulnerability. This constellation of powers would eventually become the most common, but Alphonse was the first, and the strongest.
1992: The airborne human immunodeficiency virus, now known as A-HIV, pops up in isolated areas outside the Dakotas. The spread of the disease is drastically outstripped by the spread of A-HIV panic, which rapidly goes global. Face-mask sales skyrocket.
1993: Amy Sykes and Derrick Atford get engaged and hold a marriage ceremony on Atlantis that turns into a metahuman battle rivaling the Laotian Götterdammerung.
1995: The Children of Å schism into two groups, those following the Giver of Other Selves and those following the Holder of History and the Liberator of É. However, both factions continue to work on the world-ship, now dubbed the "Årk."
1999: Abe Sykes and his metahuman emergency relief group New ID/EA go to the aid of earthquake-ravaged Turkey.
Danny "Plasmäctopus" Gore. He dreamed of fire and grace and (for some reason) of sea creatures, and when he woke up he was climbing up the side of the Capitol rotunda with one of his former idols circling in the air, eyes wide. "Wait," Danny tried to say, "I'm a good guy!" But he wound up getting blasted with a force bolt and being chased off by the very heroes he hoped to emulate.
A rocky start, but Danny was always an optimist. He saw the glass as half full. Half full of fire and octopus tentacles.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Not Talking About the War
Chapter 1: This Changing World
- The Big Idea
- Character Generation
- How Powers Spread
- Changing the World
- The Charts
- The View From Above
Chapter 2: These Changing Times
- The Rise of the Progenitor: 1968 to 1982
- The Metapocalypse
- Changing Times: 1983 to 1999
- Y2K: The End and the Beginning
Chapter 3: Who and What
- Tier 1 Characters
- Tier 2 Characters
- Tier 3 Characters
- Tier 4 Characters
- Tier 5 Characters
- Tier 6 Characters
- Tier 7 Characters
- Tier 8 Characters
- Tier 9 Characters
- Tier 10 Characters
- Straightforward Villains
- Devices and Developments
- Gadgeteers and the Metrics
Chapter 4: Nations and Organizations
- Progressive Harmony
- The Progress Cadre
- Pushcore Technologies
- The Church of the Emerald Virgin