Genetic Mutation: "Natural" superhumans, or "*alphas*," are the largest group of superhumans in the setting. The first superhumans to appear after the Cosmic Event were alphas. As with deltas, alphas are assumed to be the result of altered quantum probabilities. Alphas are verifiably different than deltas and normals on a genetic level, classified as homo sapiens mutatis. Some alphas come into their powers over time, usually during puberty. Others see thier powers brought on by periods of stress, sometimes well into adulthood. A rare few develop their powers spontaneously, or in a state of calm contemplation.
Accidental Mutation: The primary source for "*deltas*," accidental mutations occur when a normal person is exposed to some type of catalyst that turns them into a superhuman. This type of thing never happened before 2002; it is believed by some scientists that reality itself has been altered on the quantum level by the Cosmic Event, allowing such anomalies to occur. Events that have been known to cause accidental mutation include exposure to radiation, particle accelerator accidents, meteorites and other typical "comic book" happenings. The one thing they have in common is that they are rarely, if ever, able to be duplicated.
A Note on Psionics: Powers such as Mind Reading, Mind Control and ESP are terrifying to the average person, because of their potential for abuse. There are laws in most nations concerning the use of such powers on others without consent. Most psionic characters attempt to hide the more frightening aspects of their powers, to protect themselves and the superhuman community at large (although the Primacy sees this as "selling out," a view that increases the public’s fear of the alpha supremacy group).
Super-Technology: Unlike most comic book settings, the fruits of super-genius are shared with the world in "Superhumans." Since the Cosmic Event, scientific discoveries and technological advancements have made the world far more interesting (and some would say, dangerous). Some of the more profound advances include artificial gravity and gravity induction propulsion (gifts from the alien Akaylan Collective), blaster weapons, reliable space travel, nuclear fusion, human cloning, advanced gene therapy, advanced robotics, artificial intelligence, nanite technology and cures for many major diseases. Some of these advances are more widespread than others; some are in the grasp of but a handful of people or organizations for various reasons.
Intentional Mutation: Experimental procedures can grant superpowers to ordinary test subjects, turning them into deltas. Most of these procedures are dangerous or deadly, resulting in agonizing death, madness and/or horrible monstrosities most of the time. On top of this, the procedures are always hideously expensive. Still, governments and other groups seek to create deltas as super-soldiers and agents, and experiments of this sort are conducted regularly (legal or not). Many intentional mutations are performed on the unwilling, or by a scientist on himself or herself.
Gadgets and Gear: With such rapid advances in technology in recent years, ordinary humans can be the equal of superhumans with the right equipment. This gear is usually very powerful and experimental.
Battlesuits: A new invention, the battlesuit (or powered armor) allows a wearer to simulate many natural superpowers through advanced technology. The wearer of powered armor might be the inventor, someone chosen to wear it by the owner, or any person capable of stealing such a technological marvel from its rightful owner.
Cybernetics: Technology can be integrated with living flesh, creating cyborgs. Common cyborging agents include bionic implants, replacement organs and limbs, and nanites. Cyborging is generally a much more effective way of creating deltas, although the results are almost uniformly less spectacular.
Human Plus: With the right skills, feats and ability scores, a normal human can go beyond the limits of what most consider possible. The normal human maximum for abilities is 25, but a prodigy who has trained to peak ability and devoted himself fully to self-development may be able to stand toe-to-toe with superhumans. Oddly, these curious types of people never existed before the Cosmic Event changed the world. Perhaps even normal humans can bend the rules of probability like supers can…
Esoteric Secrets: The existence of georesidual energy allows for the development of pseudo-psionic abilities and super-like prowess in normal humans. This origin can take the form of preturnatural martial artists, ancient secrets of a monestary or the attainment of the absolute peak of human ability through training and meditation.
Strange Visitors: With literally thousands of species of sentients in the galaxy, there are many aliens who have made a home on Earth. Some are known to human authorities, some live among us in secret. The first contact with the extraterrestrial Akaylan Collective in 2005 left humanity astonished, although the arrival of superhumans three years earlier mitigated much of the cultural shock. What the general public doesn’t know is how many different types of extraterrestrials exist in the Milky Way. Only highly placed officials in the UN and some national governments know the true scope of life in our galaxy.
Alien Technology: Most alien races involved in the galactic community have technology far greater than our own backwater planet. The galaxy at large sits firmly at Tech Level 8 (see Mastermind’s Manual, pg. 95). Earth is at Tech Level 5, with the rise of superhumans and the procurement of alien technologies allowing the development of a scant few TL 6 and 7 innovations such as blasters, advanced genetic engineering and deep space exploration.
Cosmic Power: In the depths of space exist beings of great power. These are essentially alien gods. The motives of these beings vary, from routine maintenance of the universe to curiosity to destruction on a cosmic scale. For some reason, our planet seems to be of great interest to many of them…
The Titans: In the distant past, a race of powerful alien beings from deep space visited Earth, using its inhabitants as pawns in their inscrutable games. Called the Titans, these beings endowed certain humans with abilities that can only be called "magical;" immortality, control over elemental forces, communication with nature and the ability to create artifacts with mystical powers. This occurred millennia before the appearance of the first modern superhumans. The Titans left Earth long ago, but their legacy of mystical heroes and warriors remains. Some scientists call this ambient energy field these superhumans tap into "georesidual" energy. Many of those who actually possess the power call it geomantic energy or chi.
Traditional Gods: Throughout history, many humans (and their descendants) endowed by the Titans were viewed upon as gods by the common person. These superhumans were often the source of historical myths about the gods, and contributed to their development over the centuries. No actual "gods" exist in the setting, although some ancient Immortals could be mistaken for them (or even believe that they themselves are the real article).
Magically Empowered: The ability to tap into mystical forces was introduced to humanity by the long-departed Titans. Their legacy remains in the form of the Immortals and their descendants, some of whom possess superhuman powers. These people can tap into the energy produced by life on Earth (geomantic energy) and use it to augur the future, control elemental forces and nature, and even hear whispers from the earth itself. Others can access a darker power, necromantic energy, the power of death. With the coming of the Age of Superhumans, many strange, mystically related origins are becoming more frequent. The ambient amount of geomantic energy has increased since 2002, possibly because of the Cosmic Event, prompting more descendents of the Immortals to claim their legacy.
Creatures of Magic: The recent surge in Earth’s Supernatural Energy level has led to the rise of such mythical creatures as vampires and zombies. Powerful necromancers can create such creatures, but many are created spontaneously, through unknown means.
Magical Devices: In the days of the Titans, many mystically empowered humans created artifacts to help them in their wars against one another on behalf of their alien patrons. Several of these artifacts remain today, and many more have been created by mystics who possess the skill to do so. Such devices range from practical items to weapons to enormously powerful, reality-altering artifacts.