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 Post subject: Universe 25
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2021 1:11 pm

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So, it has been a while since PNP RPGs piqued my interest enough to jot some ideas down. A video on Universe 25- John Calhoun's NIMH experiment came across my social media feed and it sparked a little creativity bug. For those that have watched the movie The Secret of NIMH (1982), it was influenced heavily by the Universe 25 research.

Anyways, I thought it would be interesting to come up with an adventure around it that can be used in both TMNT/OS as well as AtB. My TMNT/OS settings always take place in the '80s and my AtB campaigns take place around 2135 (with the apocalypse taking place around 2060 but due to "circumstances" the tech is/wasn't advanced much further beyond the '80s).

For the TMNT/OS portion, I would loop in Doctor Feral & possibly the work of Dr. S.S. Bryukhonenko (the Russian Doc Feral?) with his Experiments in the Revival of Organisms. My thoughts are that Dr. Calhoun is brought in by an organization to take his Universe 25 a step further with mutant order to develop them for their own agenda(s) (whether it's a secret army, a secret/expendable work force they can subjugate for corporate expansion/greed, R&D for space colonization, preservation of human life from adverse conditions, all the above, etc.).

I will likely incorporate the movie in such as way that it may have been made as a distraction of some kind for some purpose, or a message to friends or foes (such as a universe that goes rogue...or maybe a rogue universe develops it as a message of freedom/hope to other universes).

For the AtB portion, it may/could revolve around communities (universes) that Calhoun and his new "friends" had developed around the world which survived the include the MiO/AtB aspect as well. These other Universes may or may not be aware of one another, they may even be adversaries to one another for whatever reason.

Sunday, September 23rd, 1973. Chicago, IL. Sears Tower:

An unimposing man in his late fifties, with tousled blonde grayish hair, sporting a greying "Zappa" style mustache and beard walks awkwardly into the empty and eerily quiet lobby of the recently completed Sears Tower. He shuffles along with the perplexed look of someone who doesn't quite know where they're supposed to be...he is drawn to the brightly colored large-scale abstract, motorized artwork prominently on display in the lobby.

"Universe." Comes a woman's voice piercing the silence.

"I...I beg your pardon?" he gasps, startled, flinching at the utterance of that particular word rather than the sudden intrusion of the silence; his head snapping to take in the sudden appearance of a tall, beautiful, raven-haired, slender, yet buxom woman wearing a sheer turquoise blouse, a grey pencil skirt, and red stilettos.

"The artwork. This particular piece is called Universe, by the artist Alexander Calder." She exclaims, coolly; almost seductively.

"Oh..." He stammers nervously, as he wipes a bead of moisture forming on his brow.

"May I help you find your way, Doctor Calhoun?"

"I'm here for a meeting with, wait; how do you know my..."

"NIMH." She says coldly, interrupting him.

"Yes, the National Institute of Mental Health. I'm supposed to speak with a mister..., um, I have it written down here somewhere." as he fumbles through the pockets of his suit jacket for the matchbook he had scribbled the name on yesterday after being approached by a young woman in a bar where he had met some colleagues for drinks.

"Mr. Melchizedek." She exclaims she slowly and purposefully plucks the pack of matches out of his hand, striking a match and lighting a thin clove cigarette.


"This way." She says as she brushes against him, placing the matchbook between the folds of her sheer blouse as she does.

"I didn't realize the government leased office space here."

"They don't." She replies curtly.

She leads him to a door with no discernible handle or call button at the end of a hall of elevators marked "No Entry - Service Access Only" that opens as she nears it, revealing a small but well-appointed elevator. She motions him inside, reaches in, and presses the numbers "19" and "56" then waves goodbye with her fingers as if she's doing a magic trick to make something disappear. "Floor 1956, room 11, after the 21st tapestry to your right." As the elevator door shuts leaving him feeling very much alone.

He can feel the elevator rising, or maybe going downward? Sideways? Light g-forces place slight pressure against him from every angle at times. But there are no indications as to which floors he's passed and several minutes go by when the feeling of the elevator moving stops and the door opens. There is no indication of which floor he is on. Before him is a sterile, white, windowless, brightly illuminated hallway, with 21 tapestries along one wall with writing on them in a language he doesn't recognize; after which he finds the soul door in the entirety of the hallway. A wooden door, blackened seemingly by a long-ago fire, with a well-worn brass doorknob; the number 11 scratched into the door as if clawed into it by someone desperate to get out of a room.

As he reaches for the knob the door opens, revealing a large dimly lit, cigarette smoke-filled conference room. In the corner of the room, slightly obscured by the haze, he can vaguely make out the screen of small black and white TV on a pedestal, with the volume, turned all the way down, broadcasting a live news segment about what appears to be the newly appointed Secretary of State; Henry Kissinger.

A single solitary figure stands at the far side of a large circular table, gesturing towards the door, and says "Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Doctor John B. Calhoun of Universe 25." The heads of several individuals, slowly turn their gaze to Doctor Calhoun.

"Select the facts and you manipulate the truth!" - Calvin & Hobbes

 Post subject: Re: Universe 25
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2021 1:54 pm

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"Welcome Doctor. Please, come in and take your seat." the man says.

"Yes, um, thank you. May I ask, are you Mr. Melch... ." The doctor stammers as he squints his eyes to see his host more clearly.

"Yes. But please, you may call me Arch." The man says as he sits down.

"Um...yes, of course; Arch. Thank you. May I ask..."

"Why you're here?"

The doctor slowly taking his seat, tries to take stock of his surroundings and the other guests as his eyes begin to adjust to the dimly lit, haze-filled room. As he settles into the rich leather chair, he realizes some of those in attendance are wearing military uniforms, and two or three have what look like NASA lapel pins affixed to their suits. Across from him, at the head of the table sits Arch; a black man with chiseled facial features, short tapered hair, and a large smile that doesn't change...yet when he makes subtle movements of his face or furrows his brow a certain way and the movement of his eyes the smile can be comforting one moment and frightening the next.

"Yes, I thought I would be meeting with representatives of NIMH to discuss behavioral sink?" the doctor exclaims.

"Of course Doctor, we are all very interested in the behavioral sink, the beautiful ones, the apocalypse, and universe 25. We are a committee of sorts consisting of delegates from NIMH, but also the NSA, DIA, NASA, a broad array of US military special operations groups, and our new friends in the EPA." Arch explains.

The ensuing awkward silence hangs for a moment, interrupted by a short burst of static from the B&W TV as the news segment zooms in on the face of Kissinger.

"All with the unfettered, yet subtle support of our friends in the state department." Arch says with a sly smile.

Across the room, a door opens...two figures silhouetted by the bright light behind them enter the room. The door closes, and the figures walk slowly towards the table. The doctor's eye adjusts from the sudden attack of the bright light to the darkness again as the two figures begin to take shape as a tall, thin gentleman accompanied by what must be a small child wearing a hooded sweatshirt. As the newcomer takes his seat the child stands next to his chair. As the gentelman's face becomes clear to the doctor he lets out a noticeable gasp...

"I'm sure you're familiar with Walt and operations; Doctor Calhoun?" Arch says, with that Cheshire Cat grin on his face.

"I, I; thought you had passed Mr. Dis..." the doctor begins to stammer before getting cutoff by Walt.

"I find it easier to forge an empire whilst dead Doctor." Walt exclaims. "Fewer distractions this way." he continues, as he takes out a cigarette, lights it, and takes a long drag before exhaling a large plume of smoke.

Walt looks at the child and says "Mick, be polite and introduce yourself to our new friend Dr. Calhoun now."

"Hello, I am Mick." the child says softly as he slips the hood of his sweatshirt back, and the doctor immediately pushes himself back from the table in his chair..."OH MY GOD!" he screams. "" he barely makes out between labored breaths, almost hyperventilating.

Before him unbelievably...unimaginable to the Doctor is what appears to be a small child with the face, feature, and fur of a white mouse.

Mick turns to Walt, visibly shaken by the doctor's reaction "Mick wants to go home. To Doctor Fer..."

Walt holds up his hand abruptly before Mick can finish, causing Mick to flinch and almost cower before him. "Not yet Mick, but soon." Walt says calmly. "Soon, we'll take you home. But for now, be a good boy and let the doctor have a good look at you."

"Select the facts and you manipulate the truth!" - Calvin & Hobbes

Last edited by gordyzx9r on Fri Sep 24, 2021 3:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

 Post subject: Re: Universe 25
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2021 2:15 pm

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So...still a work in progress for me personally. But here are my notes if anyone is interested and/or would like to add something to the pot.

Draft/basic premise:

A secretive group of individuals known as "Project Malthus" consisting of people from US government agencies including NIMH, EPA, NASA and the US Military approach Dr. Calhoun regarding his Universe 25 experiments. During a follow-up meeting with "Project Malthus" they introduce him to their financier and logistical support, a man named "Walt"; they persuade Dr. Calhoun into leading a R&D team of creating mutant mice colonies in underground facilities/labs beneath Walt's amusement parks around the world with the intent of setting up colonies on other planets.

These mutant mice are intended to be expendable (disposable) workers/drones in hostile environments deemed unsafe/unsuitable for Americans. The US suspects they are losing a race against the communists to colonize space as it is suspected that the USSR has already set up a colony on Pluto of mutant dogs, based on the research and the work of Dr. S.S. Bryukhonenko. "Walt" tries to bait the USSR into revealing information about their operations on Pluto by his characterization of an animated character that shares the same name of the small planetoid.

At some point Dr. Calhoun is betrayed by one of his researchers, Dr. James Hill. Dr. Hill begins his own experiments using rats and for funding turns to Dr. Feral.

Potential sites for other Universe's that Dr. Calhoun develops could include Picher, Oklahoma, Times Beach, Missouri, NY, BURRWOOD, LA,CUMBERLAND ISLAND, GA., North Brother Island, New York City, New Idria, California, Centralia, Pennsylvania, Chanute Air Force Base, Rantoul, Illinois, Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, Tillamook Head, Oregon. Many of these locations are areas that were abandoned for various reasons such as environmental impacts and were designated by the EPA as superfund sites.

By the time of the apocalypse, there were functioning colonies beneath the now deceased Walt's amusement parks and at least one or two functioning colonies in space.

Time line:

Ethologist John B. Calhoun (1917-1995)

Calhoun began his experimental research on rodents in 1947, when he studied an enclosed group of Norway rats at a barn in Rockville, Maryland.

Continuing with these studies during the 1950s, Calhoun set up a more complex enclosure to examine how further groups of rodents would behave in a sterilized, predator-free environment.

"He worked for Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the division of neuropsychiatry before gaining his position at the National Institutes of Health in 1954 where he worked for the next 33 years."

In 1962, Scientific American published Calhoun's observations from his research in the article "Population Density and Social Pathology," wherein he coined the phrase "behavior sink" to describe the results of overcrowding — namely the breakdown of social functions and the collapse of populations — in the enclosed rodent environment.

Between 1968 and 1970, American ethologist John B. Calhoun (1917-1995) conducted a behavioral study of captive mice.

Leading up to 1972, John B Calhoun conducted a series of experiments under the guidance of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

In 1972, Calhoun shared his observations about the results of the rodent utopia in an essay titled "Death Squared: The Explosive Growth and Demise of a Mouse Population." This work gained instant notoriety for its grim outlook on the consequences of an overpopulated and overly satiated society.

My Random Thoughts/Notes:

  • Mr. "Arch" Melchizedek, the leader of Project Malthus.
  • Wadi Qumran Cave 11 was discovered in 1956 and yielded 21 texts of Dead Sea Scrolls
  • 11Q13, also 11QMelch or the Melchizedek document, is a fragmentary manuscript among the Dead Sea Scrolls which mentions Melchizedek as leader of God's angels in a war in Heaven against the angels of darkness instead of the more familiar Archangel Michael. The text is an apocalyptic commentary on the Jubilee year of Leviticus 25. The Dead Sea Scrolls contain texts in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, the language of 11Q13 is Hebrew, date of composition is circa 100 BCE.
  • Dr. Feral (AtB): Arch rival? Ally? Nemesis? Stolen material?
  • Walt Disney (1901-1966): Uses theme parks to fund and disguise laboratories and secret projects, also recruit/kidnap children for experiments, etc.
  • In the 1950s, Disney expanded into the amusement park industry, and in July 1955 he opened Disneyland in Anaheim, California. To fund the project he diversified into television programs, such as Walt Disney's Disneyland and The Mickey Mouse Club. He was also involved in planning the 1959 Moscow Fair, the 1960 Winter Olympics, and the 1964 New York World's Fair. In 1965, he began development of another theme park, Disney World, the heart of which was to be a new type of city, the "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow" (EPCOT). Disney was a heavy smoker throughout his life and died of lung cancer in December 1966 before either the park or the EPCOT project were completed.
  • NASA: Wants to establish colonies on other planets using mutant animal slaves/workers.
  • US Military: "He (Dr. Calhoun) worked for Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the division of neuropsychiatry before gaining his position at the National Institutes of Health in 1954 where he worked for the next 33 years."
  • NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health)
  • The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is one of 27 institutes and centers that make up the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH, in turn, is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services and is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and health-related research.
  • Dr. James Hill (carried on with Universe 25 experiments using rats in lieu of mice): Steals research? Becomes adversary?
  • Dr. S.S. Bryukhonenko (the Russian Doc Feral): Used dogs. Soviet program to establish a secret mutant colony on Pluto?
  • The Environmentalists Collective: Environmentalists Terrorist Organization
  • Neo-Malthusians: Terrorist group? Offshoot of The Environmentalists Collective.
  • Behavior Sink (link?)
  • Neo-Malthusianism refers to the belief that population control through the use of contraception is essential for the survival of the earth’s human population. It rests on the observation that resources are limited, and that growing populations could rapidly outstrip the provision of resources including land and food.
  • The concept of Malthusianism is named after the Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus, who in a 1798 paper titled “An Essay on the Principle of Population” suggested that population growth should be limited through abstinence and by restricting the marriage of those who live in poverty or suffer physical defects. He also theorized that disease, starvation and war were “positive checks” that helped to limit population growth. Today, neo-Malthusians advocate birth control as the most practical means of limiting population growth.

"Select the facts and you manipulate the truth!" - Calvin & Hobbes

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