Newport is a town on a small island to the south of England, and it has the highest population of Empowered anywhere in the world. The Manticore Knights and the White Company both have recruiting offices there - because Newport is Great Britain’s gateway to the supernatural. Any supernatural items are shipped through Newport, and every Empowered working for a visa has a six-month quarantine and observation period there. Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and the London Eye have simply been casualties in one too many supernatural disasters, and relocating everything to an offshore filtering process is meant to keep the mainland safe. And it’s worked - but of course, that just means all the trouble was relocated. Empowered terrorists under investigation hide there. Empowered thieves seeking Spiritual artifacts target there. Enemies of the state who want to strike a blow against the White Company, the all-immigrant foreign supernatural service of Britain, or the Manticore Knights, King Malcolm Doyle’s bodyguards and secret police, know just where to attack. The beleaguered isle may have been designed to withstand trouble, but that design is stress-tested all the time.
THE DISTANT PAST--
It all started in 1910. When Halley’s Comet passed through the skies of England, it didn’t visit alone. The particles of the comet’s tail opened windows in between Earth and the Spirit World, and and while only a select few humans or Spirits have directly traveled between the two, contracts were struck to transfer powers, stolen items slipped through the cracks, spells and rituals learned on either side - with the result that, while there’s one common origin for all supernatural abilities, the Empowered range from women with the strength, ferocity and swim speed of killer whales, to high school boys who put on the armor of Legendary Knights and gain their prowess, to lawyers whose grasp of contract language lets them summon and control lesser demons, to renegade spirits hiding out in human bodies and learning what it means to live as a mortal -- all the wild flavors of vigilantism and metahumanity, springing from a single common source.
THE RECENT PAST--
Five years ago (Year After Comet 101), halfway across the world in Kau Lung, the Chinese equivalent of Newport, invaders from an unknown corner of the spirit world, possessing the Empowered or manifesting in bodies made of ectoplasm, launched a terrorist assault on the consular garrison of the Manticore Knights. Assassinating over a quarter of the garrison including the commander before they vanished, their incursion spurred a major international incident, and the Kau Lung Incursion has lead to the Manticore Knights training a few specialists - the Exorcist Corps, who work to be able to sense or construct defenses against possessing spirits.
Newport is preparing for the opening of a Solomon Ring - a teleportation gateway to the spirit world, a new ‘port’ for the Empowered to use for trade and travel between England and the most mysterious of frontiers beyond. And Malcolm Doyle, King of England, and his wife, Queen Gloriana (both Empowered of considerable ability themselves), are coming to Newport for the inauguration of the Ring. It’s a decision not without some controversy - it’s the first direct, permanent gateway to be opened in centuries, according to scholars, and the only one in history whose opening and closing were controlled on the Earthly side. Many Empowered think it risky - risky enough to voice dissent or organize protests, which the Manticore Knights tend to frown on.
It’s a very tense and interesting month to be trapped in Newport...