The setting is derived from the Captain N comics and cartoon from the late 1980s and early 90s, except that it isn’t. JayDee is the author of the webcomic CaptainSNES, from whom most of the story is derived, except that this chapter happens before even his convoluted tale.
The Ultimate Warp Zone draws in Kevin Keene, the first Gamemaster, to save the world from rote, barely interesting danger. JayDee writes the artificial ending, which kills Mother Brain (the only ending that would finally put an end to her sideshow villainy). While no one misses Mother Brain, her death scatters her minions and advertises that sprites can now die, as in die with no hope of revival by means of extra lives, one shot one kill, dead. The exact means of death, Omega Energy, is at this time a hazardous element that can be strictly controlled.
Sprites have no maximum age, but can have aging penalties if programmed to have them (venerable age is considered a flaw; you can take it for an extra feat).
The world is made of mostly independent game worlds loosely linked to a common hub, the Palace of Power (don’t get attached to it).
Omega Energy is introduced as a lethal game changer. Violence before this is a comical, somewhat funny, and a means of solving problems without consequences. Violence is common, though widely divided into RPG battles (taking turns in a semi-parallel world) and active battles which take place wherever belligerents happen to be.
MB’s organization, such as it is, is done. Characters associated with it, like Dr. Wiley, adapt with difficulty to the rest of society. King Hippo is a wash-up, and Eggplant Wizard is an insufferable punning exile.
Even at this age, sprites choose voluntarily to leave their home worlds and move into the central plane near the Palace of Power. They choose to make a city, and Kevin Keene shared the ideas of American democratic government which they work at to build their city. Although far removed from harm, this Nexus city suffers growing pains: refugees, affordable housing, evil characters gravitating into safe jobs in the senate.
The Second Age: The Shadow King, the N-Forcers and the Coming of Sorrow.
The Shadow King is a non-factor, a jerk that found out about Omega energy and tried to run a loose criminal organization based around blackmail and murder with it. Good characters rallied to stop him, but couldn’t keep up. As the victims counts increased, survivors of the victims strangely started turning the tables themselves, but not in a good way: they began to speak slowly, mournful for those they’ve lost, rambling about the parting of shadows, the lifting of veils from their eyes, the glimpses of truth. They began tracking the Shadow King’s minions with unerring precision, and killing them outright, leaving ponderous holes in space filled, spilling out with Omega energy. Sooner or later, the Shadow King’s numerous tricks to avoid capture or death started leaving larger and larger death counts, and higher death counts spread the mournful Touched farther and farther. The N-Forcers is a group of NES themed heroes of unparalleled coolness, the best of the best. They struggled in vain to find the Shadow King and bring him to justice, but gradually came to realize how directed, thoughtful, the Touched were in their wrath. They came to understand that there was a Sovereign of Sorrow, beyond their reach.
The Second Age ends predictably enough, as the Shadow King tries to buy time by capture Kevin Keene, and the Touched finally catch up to him. With his death, the Sovereign herself is brought into existence, and then sets about the end of all existence. Keene escapes back to the palace of power, and sends out the call for all the worlds’ heroes to rally for their best chance to stop the sovereign. Many worlds never get a chance to show up, as the Sovereign goes on a rampage and wipes them out hopelessly. The only world that stands up to this attack is the Mushroom Kingdom, though how Mario turned her aside is known only to him right now. The final showdown is at the Palace of Power, which decimates it. The entire world, save a small corner, is reduced to desert wasteland, and the flower of NES heroes together with Keene are destroyed, utterly. Some survive, lucky characters who fell from the very sight of the Sovereign but benefited from not having the world destroyed out from under them. A core of the N-Forcers did battle the Sovereign, but by claims they were all changed by the encounter. Some are just bad-ass enough to carry that burden without becoming Touched. Others succumbed, but later.
The Sovereign’s defeat (not death) comes at the hands of Kevin’s daughter through Lana, the Princess Hope Keene. The exact significance isn’t known yet, but Hope is thought to have sacrificed herself to split the Sovereign into three JRPG approved ultimate evil artifacts (which may be people, we don’t know yet). And with that, the Sovereign is done, and the people of Nexus are free to rebuild. Not that the desert would let them.
As a direct result, the world shifts from 8 bit to 16 bit. Whole worlds are torn from existence, and warp zones everywhere disappear, stranding characters on the wrong sides, many without a clue whether their worlds have survived or not.
DMs aren't expected to be aware of every detail of the Sovereign, the Gamemaster, or the Touched, as they are mostly outside the scope of the game. Their effects are to be counted, but putting numbers on a Touched to be defeated is just cruel, as most Touched seem to outright cheat!
The heroes assembled at the Palace of Power are widely scattered, some just reawakening with events of the battle fogged. Some have no business still being alive, others have survivor’s guilt. The Palace of Power is a barren wasteland of perpetual night, haunted by the ghosts of that conflict. Or perhaps some even earlier time, as these ghosts have no forms and zero idea who they were.
There are Touched. They are ubiquitous, and formerly healthy sprites are still becoming Touched. Most distressingly, they still seem to appear in accordance with some loosely defined plan. Though the Sovereign is defeated, it is common knowledge that she is only sleeping. The greats of this age have mostly broken up, leading to speculation as to their roles as gatekeepers to the Sovereign of Sorrow’s three artefacts: The Shard of Tears, The Mask of Tragedy, and her body on the Lunarian Moon.
We should probably discuss death: sprites “die” when exposed to Omega energy. It is also possible to die when a sprite’s last life is expended, but this is not necessarily the same thing, more like “getting lost.” Certain tricks can revive a 0-lifer, like transferring lives from someone who still has one (Super Mario World style). Losing a life occurs when hit points are expended. Omega energy death is very different; death occurs at full health and lives do not restore a sprite to the world of the living. PCs are given a reflex saving throw against this kind of death; save or die, no retry! As for how common Omega energy is, … aw, why not. It is as common as kryptonite in a Superman comic! You’re all fucked!