This week is going to be the second editing pass on Down with the Queen, with a decent number of changes based on feedback from the Alpha team. Nothing too major, I don’t think, but significant enough. I really don’t have anything to share about the book today, which is a shame. However, while one of the team was going through the book, he asked a question which made a lot of sense to answer, and led to me explaining portions of how I created the world in more depth. I thought I’d share them here.
The particular question was asking why a hero was taking public transportation. This led to me pointing out that while the character is pretty well-off, they aren’t so wealthy that chartered flights are something they can do casually for a vacation. Thus, we got to the question, how do heroes make money? As much as I might wish it did, money doesn’t appear from thin air.
Answering this is both complex and simple. Now, first and foremost I need to point out I’m not an accountant, I’m not in marketing, or anything of the sort, so don’t take any of this as completely accurate in how much it would generate.
Most cities in the Stars & Shadows setting have begun setting aside grants to sponsor superhero teams in their confines, as they add a degree of security and prestige to the city in question. This includes paying for some expenses, but most of the money is expected to go toward paying for things that help protect the city. This is the first source of income.
Second are sponsors, as many famous people in the world around us get sponsorships from companies, or donations. Not many heroes could make a good living off of these, but some of them, like Destiny and Ocean Spirit, could do so. It really depends on just how famous they are.
Last of the major sources of income is SuperNet. I’ve mentioned the company in Born a Queen, but there hasn’t been much explanation of them as of yet. SuperNet maintains a mostly secure communication network among heroes, provides power testing, and also helps link heroes with legal help, helps with superhero medical insurance, and more. They are a non-profit company, but all of the things they provide cost money. So what they do is go into merchandising agreements with the heroes. Many heroes will pose for photos, license action figures, clothing, plush toys, or any number of other things people might want to purchase, and SuperNet markets them for the heroes. A large portion of the sales goes to keeping SuperNet functioning, but the remainder goes to the heroes.
In some cases, the income is large enough that the heroes don’t need it all, and they choose to funnel a large portion of the money back into SuperNet’s Disaster Recovery Fund. This fund is used to help cities and people to recover after a disaster caused by a superhuman of any type, which builds some goodwill toward the company in society. Even some villains choose to cooperate with SuperNet on merchandise to try to soften their image, but when villains are involved, SuperNet doesn’t pass income to the villains, and instead puts it into a fund to help the villain’s victims recover.
Now, is all of this perfectly realistic? Heck no. I’m certain that much of it would get shot down in the real world. But this is a world of superhuman characters and other fantastic beings. I try to keep some logic to how things happen.
Something else to remember is that there are plenty of superhumans who aren’t heroes or villains. Some work in companies, especially Inventors, or are hired by company executives. Others join the military. Sports is a bit trickier, but the various leagues have, for the most part, created another league that allows low-end supers with certain sets of allowable powers. Society is adapting to the fact that a small but significant percentage of people have unusual powers. That still doesn’t mean all of them are wealthy, though.
So remember, the reason a hero may choose to fly economy might be because they don’t have that much money.