ShadowFinder: Rasputin’s Legacy Earth, The United States

Continuing a theme, here’s another preview of some of the material from the ShadowFinder book! Nothing on this page is OGL. This is a post of Community Use content of Paizo materials, and is a follow-up to my ShadowFinder Is Coming post from earlier in the week.

ShadowFinder assumes you are applying it’s Play Mode to one of two worlds — Rasputin’s Legacy Earth, or Lost Golarion. Both are at a similar point technologically, magically, and in planar terms, and both are based on worlds Starfinder players are likely to be familiar with (our own Earth, or Pathfinder’s Golarion). But both also have significant differences. In the case of Rasputin’s Legacy Earth, an incursion into WWI Russian by heroes from Golarion has caused both a leak of magic back into the world, and the formation of the planar scar known as the Shadowblast.

While obviously I can’t go into deep detail on the state of entire worlds, both Rasputin’s Legacy Earth and Lost Golarion are different enough from what people are used to that SOME amount of explanation is in order. Chapter Ten of the ShadowFinder core book is the “ShadowFinder Gazetteer,” talking a bit about the who, what, and where of the worlds you can adventure in.

Here is the draft of the entry on the United States of America, unedited, still with its formatting tags.

[H2]The United States of America

The U.S. is one of the worst-off major nations in the battle against the Shadowblast, and the reasons are varied and, in many cases, self-inflicted. The fact that early research into the Shadowblast was largely undertaken by the Soviet Union (and treated as a state secret), kept the U.S. in the dark through the 1930s. But encounters soldiers and observers had during WWII made it impossible for the U.S.A. to miss that there was a real, growing, supernatural threat.

Well, it made it impossible for everyone to ignore it. It turns out, willful ignorance and politics can often go hand-in-hand.

At first, the threat of the Shadowblast was simply considered too minor to be a priority in the rush to rebuild post-war Europe, establish political dominion over the Western Hemisphere, and flex the U.S.’s newfound worldwide clout. After all, the Soviets explored the Shadowblast first because those threats were local to them. Why should a country protected by two oceans worth of moat worry about local things happening in Europe and Asia?

In the next decades the problems caused by the Shadowblast spread into the U.S., though always quietly, in shadows and small towns, untracked wilderness, abandoned buildings, backwoods and dark alleys. However, political and religious pressures began to hold back any serious preparation by U.S. groups. The whispers of such threats were called communist plots, un-Christian efforts to promote magic, and drug-induced counter-culture hallucinations. Not only did federal and state forces refuse to take such threats seriously, they actively suppressed knowledge of them, ruined the reputations of those who tried to raise the alarm, and set up counterintelligence campaigns to ensure any rumors of supernatural events were seen as junk journalism.

This left U.S. institutions vulnerable to infiltration by more organized Shadowblast factions. Some factions even managed to place moles and even high-level administrators within federal and state law enforcement and bureaucracies. In the 1970s and 1980s, Shadowblast activity within North America skyrocketed, and the very systems designed to find and neutralize threats against the country and its citizens were more often used to cover-up the growing incursions.

Even so, the number of unsolved missing persons, eyewitness accounts, and unexplained phenomenon were so extensive that private groups and individuals stepped up to fill in the gap left by a lack of any official program. Many of these groups suffered terrible losses, and things they learned in dealing with the Shadowblast were often lost without being passed on to other groups. The system was haphazard at best, but it slowly expanded into a decentralized network of vigilante groups, community patrols, and secret societies, sometimes augmented by meddling kids on bicycles or teenage bands traveling by van.

As a kind of counterculture, the fight against the Shadowblast integrated at the edges of other fringe communities. People who were already mistreated by the government, or suspicious of indoctrination by orthodoxy, were more likely to both encounter these threats and decide if something was to be done, they had to do it. The chances of a hero rising to oppose the Shadowblast being from LGBTQ groups, carnies, oppressed minorities, punk, grunge, or metal music, disillusioned veterans, and fans of various forms of speculative fiction was simply much higher than from more mainstream groups. In many cases, they had little choice – if these communities did not protect themselves, no one else would.

This situation has evolved over the decades, but remains the norm in the current era. Specific parts of the United States can have different governmental reactions to Shadowblast threats. Alaska in general has a history and culture similar to Canada when regarding the Shadowblast, and there are areas along the southern border that are much closer to the situation in Mexico than the rest of the U.S. (especially further from major population centers). But, in general, even now governmental research of and resistance to Shadowblast incursions is generally haphazard, ad-hoc, and isolated. While the FBI has Taskforce X, the National Parks Service has the Cryptology Division, and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation’s “Directive 8” oversees the surprisingly well-informed K’n Yan Intelligence Section, for the most part officials aware of and working against the Shadowblast have to do so with little support from their organizations. Indeed, sometimes such efforts are actively hindered by officials that believe such efforts are a waste of time… or who are secretly on the Shadowblast’s side.

That level of hindrance is also why the ShadowFinder Society has no official presence in the U.S.A, forcing its members to work more clandestinely. They often organize regionally under the auspices of some smaller, local group, and use the term Torchbearer to refer to those who fight against the encroaching shadows. There is an unofficial “Torchbearer’s Circuit” of truck stops, diners, bus stations, taxi companies, union laborers, coal miners, loggers, local churches, firefighters, and environmental activists who are aware of the Shadowblast and, at least to some extent, the ShadowFinder Society itself.

But in the end, in the U.S., those who wish to oppose things that go bump in the night are likely to be on their own much of the time.

(Jacob Blackmon‘s aesthetic is perfect for ShadowFinder!)

Want to ask questions about ShadowFinder? Would you enjoy access to a huge backlog of game stuff and articles? Simply want to support me creating more of these things? Check out my Patreon!

About okcstephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the publisher and lead genius of Rogue Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps.

Posted on October 5, 2021, in Adventure Sketch, Anachronistic Adventurers, ShadowFinder, Starfinder Development and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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