The year is late 2015, and life on Earth is vastly different with the introduction and implementation of people possessing special talents and abilities that go well beyond what is humanly possible. History has already been altered to an extent due to the supernatural, magical, and abnormal to varying degrees.
One metahuman/powered individual per 2,500 individuals. As the world’s population is 7 billion, this means there is roughly 2,800,000 metahumans/powered people worldwide.
For much of human history, these beings have been either a persecuted minority, or treated as only rumours of folklore, who lacked the numbers needed to exist publicly. This lasted until the dawn of the 20th Century. The metahuman population first became prominent within the 20th century, as the numbers of metahumans skyrocketed during times of evident strife. Most commonly being the time period of the first two World Wars.
- Many metahumans in times of old became myth, folklore. This is due to the fact that powers as they manifested and were identified in the old times were almost never ‘invisible’ - tales of strange men and women with wings or scaled skin were a very common folklore in communities over the world. It was not uncommon for meta- youth to be abandoned and persecuted for the way they looked, and this has carried forward into the modern day.
- While generally, these beings are referred to as superhumans, many different terminologies are also commonly used (sometimes interchangeably, sometimes incorrectly,) such as meta-humans, supers, extraordinaries, inhumans, mutants, magi, magus, the empowered, supernaturals, demigods, mythicals, etc.
What you want your characters to be defined as is really up to you, so long as it makes sense.
- Making sense is less the origins of a power (radioactive insects and glowing space rocks as an acceptable example), but more about how the social climate has affected your character as a whole. Faced with a community and a society in which the discrimination and hatred of a certain class of people is deemed acceptable (and often encouraged), what sort of mark or effect does this leave on your character?
Metahumans (alongside a plethora of other powered individuals), were implemented into combat during these wars and the ones to come, tilting the scales in the favor of asymmetrical warfare. Experimentation became clearly evident and rampant within the government and military across the globe, with researches and experiments being funded on that delved deeper into meta-powers, origin of superhuman powers, the replication of such abilities, and the practicality of using them in military usage.
Evidently enough, within the 21st Century there is a clear anti-meta/powered sentiment with a human-supremacy.
Metahumans are treated with the absolute disdain and contempt for an array of reasons, ranging from the political, social, and combative threat they pose to society as a whole, i.e. metahumans/powered individuals are considered ‘third-class citizens’. Humans, on the other hand, are the upper class within this world.
This is not a completely unfounded disdain of metahumans - there have been multiple incidents in the past of unstable and villainous metahumans using their powers to take what they want, not unusually at the cost of human life. (refer to the timeline). Meta-terrorism, villainism, etc. are all shown and most often against the human population.
- The world isn’t simply a ‘black and white’ scenario - the Brave New World is simply a messy, ugly gray.
To make up for the power deficit possessed by the humans, they have advanced extraordinarily far in a technological sense.
A large part of this has been to deal with the ‘threat’ of metahumans, with weapons specifically made to balance the asymmetry in human/metahuman combat - including weapons capable of even temporarily suppressing powers.
- Such powerful technology is typically very expensive and therefore only reserved for those wealthy enough to afford obtaining it, or the resources (and knowledge/skill) needed to create it.
Power armour, high-tech firearms/CQC, power-suppression technology, etc. are all examples of technology available to military and law-enforcement to combat metahuman threat.
- Additionally, the power they use is cleaner, more sustainable, and this world needn’t worry about climate change and things of that ilk. Their transport is fast, efficient, and eco-friendly.
There are two ‘types’ of metahumans within the current-day world - the ‘rogues’ and the ‘registered’.
The existence of ‘registered’ superpowered metahumans have tilt the scales in the favor of asymmetrical warfare, the irregulars and insurgents and rogue operatives more than it would help an organized military structure, at least initially until actual supersoldier-regiments and/or professional national-superheroes would have gone through military training and chain of command. Metahuman terrorists and upstart supervillains would have an easier go than official superheroes.
- ‘Rogue’ metahumans are often those unaffiliated with officials such as the military and government. They make up the bulk of the metahuman populace - the ones discriminated against, and those who are against the current social viewpoint and worldview of modern-day society. In laymen’s term, these are the basic, ‘everyday’ metahuman (often make up most of the metahuman villain/crime/underground community).
- ‘Registered’ metahumans are those who have registered their identity and powers on a government register, and those who have volunteered themselves for the questionable ethical initiatives proposed by the government. These metahumans are not viewed in a positive light by the Rogue population - they are seen as those who have ‘sold out’, or people that are working for the enemy, and commonly given the degrading epithet of ‘the Dogs of the Military’. However, these ‘registered’ metahumans are often viewed in a slightly better light by the human populace (if they were probably a third-class citizen before, they’re second class now). Commonly given protection to not just the metahumans that have affiliated themselves with the military but to their family as well. It is not an unpopular choice for those who are worse off to ‘register’ based on the promise that perhaps their life and service can bring a better life for their family.
- The introduction of metahumans and such beings has also altered and dictated events that have already transpired, with 9/11 being the cusp of such.
- In BNW the September 11 attacks were were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by terrorist metahumans that had happened to be rebelling against the statu quo and the U.S. This spurred more anti-meta hate, with this event being the prime example of why metahumans are so dangerous.
- The Iraq war turned out drastically different in BNW compared to IRL, with the invasion of Iraq led by the United States ended in the U.S., U.K, Australia, and Poland being completely driven out of the Middle East in the BNW. This occurred because there were more metahumans and powered beings on the opposing side of the U.S., with now all of the Middle East more or less cut off from the outside world (not unlike North Korea IRL).
- This was the exact reason why the U.S. and other nations across the globe have now accepted and indoctrinated ‘registered’ metahumans.