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Gamemaster: Andy Christian
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Campaign Description: Z-Optima is a gritty, average-powered campaign with both local team and world spanning elements that features a diverse team of super heroes employed by the Z-Optima Syndicate (ZOS). The eight members of this team are viewed as both the security arm of ZOS and the local peacekeepers in a chaotic, war-torn region.

Importance of the Player Characters: Very Important. This campaign will be largely plot driven as the characters deal with the strife of the region and join in the race to uncover ancient relics across the world. The characters, their development, and their actions, however, will be the central focus of the campaign. There will be crossovers with NPC heroes, as well as occasional characters or entire teams from other campaigns.

World Description: The Global Guardians Universe is a four-color comic book world full of larger than life characters. Technology is more advanced than the real world, and magic is real. Aliens and creatures of legend roam the earth. Ancient relics and alien artifacts, rumored to have mystical properties, await discovery in the furthest and darkest reaches of the world.

The Story So Far:

A Consortium of Friends

The University of the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa was the choice of study for most of the sons and even a few daughters of the British South Africa Company. It was in 1901 that one such tight group graduated with honors from their assorted master degree programs and rejoined their respective fathers at various ports of service around the southern African region. With the influence of their prestigious families and granted funds from the British South Africa Company, the friends formed a consortium of sorts.

The young entrepreneurs set up companies of their own to oversee various mining, oil drilling, ivory harvesting, and archaeological expeditions and ventures. These companies worked under the authority of the British South Africa Company, but had a large amount of their own autonomy in administrative and operational decisions. As long as productivity kept the Queen in pounds up to her ears, then all was golden.

As the years wore on, the consortium of friends controlled more and more of the import and export profits from gold, silver, copper and other precious metals, as well as diamonds, oil, ivory and the reclamation of historical and cultural relics and artifacts from South Africa, the West South Africa territory (Namibia), Rhodesia (Zambia and Zimbabwe), Botswana, and Mozambique. It was one of these friends, Osgrove Wellington III (who in 1918 had attained his doctorate in African Archaeology and Anthropology from his renamed Alma Matter, The University of South Africa) that was the central facilitator and administrator of their combined efforts. Despite his haphazard organizational skills, the others did not want to deal with the every day sundry, and so they eventually made him their Chief Executive Officer.

Mr. Wellington had set up his headquarters in Harare, Rhodesia (as it was known at the time), and commanded a quite sizeable native work force, which, uncharacteristically for the British, he treated extraordinarily well. He uncovered many interesting relics, and at least one of the oldest human skeletons ever found. It didn't take long before Osgrove expanded his efforts worldwide. Of course the British Commonwealth did not mind, as the profits from the consortium kept on rolling. Eventually, by 1968, as his friends and partners died of a gruesome assortment of malaise and foul play, Osgrove Wellington III began centralizing the organization.

Harare became the new headquarters for all the business endeavors of his old consortium. While each of the old companies remained autonomous in their own right, with their own system of executives and administration, they all answered to Harare office. Osgrove also hired several trustworthy associates and executives to handle the everyday organizational skills, which he lacked. All decisions, however, still were required to move across his quite large desk. This is the first indication of the Syndicate known today.

South Africa: A Nation of Purity

South Africa has always been a nationalistic and expansionistic country, from the time it was occupied by the Dutch Boers and the British South Africa Company until its independence from the British Commonwealth in 1961. The West South Africa territory, by U.N. general assembly mandate at the end of WWI, was made into a protectorate and trustee of South Africa. Even, when in 1966, the U.N. general assembly voted to terminate the mandate, South Africa refused to give up control.

Under other circumstances, the U.N. and other international political and military heavyweights may have tried to enforce the U.N. doctrine, but since 1948 when apartheid became a reality, the South African government had formed a paramilitary force they dubbed Purity. Purity consisted of typical Afrikaner soldiers, a small unit of temporary chemically enhanced super soldiers called the White Legion, and a very few apartheid friendly metahumans. The world did not want a metahuman war, which is what they determined it would take to enforce anything on South Africa.

A Force to Reckon

Osgrove Wellington III and his trusted advisors saw the danger that South African presented the world and especially the region. Fearing the worst, in 1962, as a reactionary response to South Africa's complete independence from British rule, Osgrove recruited several indigenous Rhodesians and Botswanans to carry the banner against apartheid incursion. They were to carry items with mystical properties that when wielded by a strong and able person, could make for a formidable force. Several of these relics and artifacts had been uncovered and reclaimed by the Syndicate and remained in vaults beneath the Harare headquarters.

For a while, the Syndicate's team of mystical warriors, dubbed Z-Optima by a Star Trek fan in 1969, held off Purity and South African expansionistic advance. This did not stop the occasional raid or border incursion, but for the most part, peace prevailed across the southern region of Africa. Due to the tenuous peace, and the infrequency of White Legion activity, Osgrove Wellington III started using his super team to help him recover more ancient artifacts, mystical relics, and lost alien devices.

The South African Metahuman War

Grown bold by its defiance of U.N. mandate, and its continued healthy existence even under international sanction, South Africa decided to make a brazen move for dominance of the region. In 1983, it simultaneously invaded Angola, Botswana, Zimbabwe (which by this time had separated from Zambia), Mozambique, Swaziland and Madagascar. It sent its White Legion, which had mysteriously grown into near horde proportions, and the rest of purity across the borders, at high noon on Tuesday, August 9th.

Scrambling to respond to the surprise assault, the rest of the region banded together to stop South African forces. With the help of the mystical warriors of Z-Optima and Cuban super soldiers from Angola, the region held strong until the rest of the world could take action. A combined British and French fleet was sent to ward off South African cruisers from landing in Madagascar, while the U.S. airforce started bombing the White Legion base camps.

It didn't take much more than the official threat of worldwide super teams for South Africa to retreat back across its borders. The war took all of three weeks, and Purity limped back a broken organization. Strangely enough, the White Legion seemed to shrink back to its normal single unit sized proportions soon after the war. Additionally, the various metahumans of Purity went into hiding for a bit until the furor died down.

A high level meeting took place between opposing sides in the war and representatives of British, French and U.S. forces in Lesotho under the auspices of King Moshoeshoe the Great. Osgrove Wellington III was allowed to observe the meeting, but was not officially granted participation. In any case, The Treaty of Lesotho required South Africa to recede back to its borders pre-WWI. This meant that Namibia was granted its independence finally, and the other countries were able to keep each of their borders intact.

A Meta Assassination

Despite their going incognito for several years or so, the metahuman faction of Purity had not forgotten the embarrassing defeat during the war. In 1993, after South Africa pretty much disbanded Purity as an official paramilitary force under extreme international pressure, the metahumans of Purity struck a resounding blow. In a single attack, at midnight of Thursday, August the 22nd, Z-Optima was gruesomely slaughtered, execution style.

Osgrove Wellington III, President of the Z-Optima Syndicate (ZOS), chose not to reform his mystical warrior team, in honor of those who died before. He was not a man who sat well with commanding men to their death. This all changed, however, in recent years, as Purity began tactical strikes across the region.

Z-Optima Reborn

After their respective heads of state were assassinated by Purity in 2001, Zimbabwe and Zambia decided to reintegrate back into the British Commonwealth named Rhodesia. They remained independent of British control, but became a stronger country with the combination of their respective resources. The new government was resoundingly democratic in formation became an interesting counterpoint to Apartheid controlled South Africa (which had reincorporated Namibia by this time) to the south and Nazi Rwanda to the north.

With the rampant and violent activity of Purity, and the dual presidential assassinations, the regional governments met for regional security talks in early 2002. Attending were representatives from Angola, newly formed Rhodesia, Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zaire, Madagascar, Tanzania, and ZOS. Much discussion about creating an economic union similar to OPEC and the European Union were discussed, but no firm agreements could be made. This discussion was tabled for a planned meeting in late 2003 to form an economic union to be called the Southern African Regional Confederation or SARC.

Various ideas were discussed for regional security, but no nation wanted to give up its sovereignty, and putting itself at risk by allowing another country's forces to occupy its territory. That is when Wendell Osgrove Wellington, the great, great grandson of the recently late Osgrove Wellington III, made a suggestion. He offered to rebuild the Z-Optima team and create a unified regional security force under ZOS control. Each country would maintain jurisdictional authority, and any ZOS units within their country would not take action without permission. However, no ZOS unit would act without explicit authorization from ZOS Central Command.

This idea met with resounding approval, and so the great, great grandson of Osgrove Wellington III, would rebuild Z-Optima and create a regional security force under ZOS control. Late 2003 saw the first regional security force units spread throughout the southern African region, and the first few metahuman recruits for Z-Optima arrive.

Local Relations: The ZOS headquarters are located in Harare, Rhodesia. Because of the official agreement between ZOS and several of the regional governments, the characters enjoy the right to operate as a security force throughout many of the southern African countries, although this does not give them any jurisdictional authority. One notable exception is South Africa, which considers the Z-Optima team enemies-of-state. The various governments, militaries, and law enforcement organizations throughout the region view the characters and the Z-Optima team with suspicion due to their ties to ZOS.

Because of this distrust, they try to keep them out of the loop unless super powers are absolutely necessary for success, and then even some extraordinary risks are taken. The people of the southern African countries love the characters and the comfort their presence provides, but this adoration is tenuous at best. The first time the characters fail to protect wartime refugees or accidentally kill a civilian, the trust will start to erode and popular support will soon evaporate.

Morality: Z-Optima is a four-color campaign, and for the most part the morality of the campaign will be four-color as well. However, there will be some crossover between good and evil, and things will not always be black and white. Characters may find themselves making difficult decisions, but should always try to be good guys. Specifically, ZOS or one of its executives may exhibit questionable motives and or ethics in the pursuit of a particular goal. This conflict of interests may present interesting dialogue at best, and threaten the existence of the Z-Optima team, as we know it, at worst.

Realism: Moderate and Gritty. In line with the game's story, the characters will often be required to find and/or recover ancient relics and alien artifacts rumored to have mystical properties. A very slight magical undertone is to be expected in this campaign, but most mysticism will be background elements or simple plot devices. Action sequences will be cinematic and descriptive. Characters can die, as this campaign will have many dangerous adventure and treasure finding elements. How you role-play the character will do a great deal to determine the realism of the game, so please put some soul into your characters. How carefully and precisely you plan and execute your missions will do a great deal to determine how deadly the treasure hunting and adventuring is, so put some thought into your characters' actions.

Outlook: Positive, but with dark and/or harried moments. The team can almost always beat the bad guys or find the treasure, but new elements of chaos in the war-torn southern African region and dangerous 'dig' sites will always keep the characters busy. The team has assembled more or less their own "cast" of villains that won't stop pressing against them, trying to beat them to the 'dig' sites.

Seriousness: The game is going to be bigger than life, and the seriousness of the storylines will reflect this. The entire southern African region is going to be in peril occasionally, but this is the team to handle it. Additionally, if they allow any of the ancient relics or artifacts, alien or otherwise, that ZOS seeks, to fall into the wrong hands, the entire world could be in peril. This does not mean that there is no room for humor. Witty repartee, creative use of powers, and the way you play should provide plenty of humor in the midst of even the direst situation.

Continuity: The game will be entirely serial. Player actions in one scenario will have effects on later scenarios, and continuity will be enforced. Adventures will move linearly through time, bad guys will remember who you are and what you did to them, and the press may even print your more notable exploits for the world to see.

Building a Character for the 4Men

The most important thing to remember when building a character for this campaign is this: a corporation hires the heroes on this team for a specific purpose. The agreement the corporation has with local and regional governments to set up their headquarters in the area and employ a super hero team, requires the heroes to provide security services in the region. The characters should be created with both the regional security and ethnic sensitivities in mind, as well as the ultimate corporate goals of the Z-Optima Syndicate.

The intent of the campaign is to replicate the treasure hunting adventures seen in TV shows like, Alias, X-Files, Veritas, Relic Hunter, and movies like Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones, but will be sticking as close to comic-book sensibilities as possible. To this end, characters who fit well into this pulp style adventure genre and have large, diverse talent and skill-sets, will have a better chance for inclusion on this team than pure combat oriented super heroes. The genre will be strictly enforced, which means that the GM will be looking over all characters very closely.

Character backgrounds should be submitted initially. Based on those, I will select a team lineup and will ask for character sheets.

All Z-Optima characters should follow these guidelines:

Starting Points: 200
Maximum Disadvantages: 150
Maximum Points From One Category of Disadvantage: 50
Maximum Active Points for Any One Power: 50
Maximum DEF/rDEF for Any One Category: 25
Special Restrictions:

  • All characters should have some skills conducive to treasure hunting or archaeological exploits. This includes more than just archaeological or anthropological based knowledge skills and high agility. Various perquisites, talents, science, area or city knowledge, mythological and/or mystical knowledge, and puzzle solving skills or powers can be useful and sometimes ultimately important.
  • All player characters should have, at the very least the 15-point Psychological Limit "Reluctant to Kill."
  • ZOS does complete psychological profiles before hiring any of its employees. Any form of psychosis or anti-social disadvantages will immediately be weeded out, subject to the GM's whim. Berserk and/or Enraged disadvantages are also restricted. Keep this in mind, and try to create sane characters that are very capable of working with a team. No Loners!
  • All player characters must take the Z-Optima team package. It is usual that characters hired by ZOS go through a month or two of indoctrination classes to learn the basic history and geography of the region, as well as the basics of Archaeology, Anthropology and Mythology.
  • All player characters should be of an ethnic origin that would make them appear at a glance to be native African. This essentially means that the skin tone must be dark if not actually black. This is not intended to be racist in any way, but because of Purity being just across the border in South Africa, and a general menace in the entire region, ZOS wants the Z-Optima team to have popular support. Other ethnic origins may be entertained if the costume, battle suit, or powered armor completely hides the identity or nationality of the person within. This would necessarily require a secret identity disadvantage. Other unique concepts may be entertained on a case-by-case basis, based solely on how much popular support that concept might receive in the southern African region.
  • A player character concept may be based around having a magical or mystical relic, artifact, or alien device. In the case of this concept, close consultation with the GM is required, as the device will be owned by ZOS and modifications to the ZOS package will be required. Additional disadvantages may also be required. Only one player character with a magical or mystical item of this nature will be allowed to be active on the Z-Optima team at any given time.
  • If the character submission is a conversion from the previous version of the Global Guardians, and the character has any accrued experience points, the character may retain those points.
The Global Guardians PBEM Universe is copyrighted to Jack and Rebecca Butler, and is their solely owned property.  The Global Guardians PBEM Universe, and all of the campaigns therein, are works of collaborative fiction.  All the characters and events portrayed here are either products of the authors' imagination or are used fictitiously.  Except where otherwise specifically noted, the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, all Global Guardians characters, and all stories included therein are Copyright 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002 by Jack and Rebecca Butler with all rights reserved under International Copyright Convention.  Submitting material (such as but not limited to character submissions, background information, and artwork) for inclusion in the Global Guardians grants Jack and Rebecca Butler the right to use that material as they wish, in perpetuity, within the confines of the Global Guardians Universe. The submitter does not give up the right to use the material in ways unconnected to the Global Guardians Universe.  This website was designed by Jack Butler, and is maintained by Jack Butler. Unless otherwise and specifically noted and with the exception of player characters which are the creations of their respective players, all material on this site is the creation of Jack and Rebecca Butler.  No material on this site may be posted or published elsewhere without the express written permission of Jack and Rebecca Butler.  Champions and the Hero System are registered trademarks of and are copyrighted by Hero Games, Inc.  No challenge to any trademark or copyright is made or implied by this site.
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