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[Mutants & Masterminds] A World Less Magical But No Less Fantastic

Davies

Explorer
Amothat


When the great Armada departed from the Imperium in whatever spaceships they were able to scrounge together -- many of them vessels that were never meant for long-term occupancy -- they were by no means certain of their ultimate destination, only that it must be a place far from the government in which they no longer had any faith. The Chiraben given charge of their fleet, Commander Muraddin, stated that he knew of a world that would suit their needs, but others among the crew of his flagship would later claim that he never spoke of their destination to any of them. Further, a tradition would eventually develop that the Admiral engaged in lengthy, private conversations with a mysterious figure swathed in robes, who was only glimpsed momentarily by anyone else. When asked about these episodes, the Commander nearly always denied that they'd ever occurred. Except for once, towards the end of the voyage, when he referred to the figure as 'our guide'.

An entire religion has grown up around those words on Muraddin and other worlds of the Technate. Ironically, ultra-orthodox Guidists would regard the suggestion that the being known as the Amothat was the same entity who guided the Armada as utter heresy, as it is clearly a material entity, not the spiritual one in which they believe. Even less rigorous followers of the Guide are dubious as to the identification, for it is well known that the Amothat never gives anyone a straight answer to a question, making it seem unlikely that it could possibly have aided the Commander or the Armada on their journey.

The Amothat is a mysterious entity, sighted throughout the space explored by the Technate, and also that of the Vaask and the Konan. For the most part, it seems to act as an observer to the events that take place in this region of space, though there are dubious tales of it intervening to rescue innocent lives when no other being was able to do so, or defeating threats which seemed on the verge of triumph. It has been suggested that it has some connection to the Council of Aperion, for it has been seen on that world many times, and its powers are somewhat like those of a wielder of a Power Prism. Yet the Council, when asked by a Technate diplomat, disclaimed any authority over the Amothat, and implied that it was every bit as much of a mystery to them.

When the Amothat does interact with other entities, it usually does so by asking them questions -- often of an extremely personal nature, frequently of matters that the subject has completely forgotten. When asked anything, it normally replies with nonsense, or poetry that seems poorly applicable, at best. The individual in the modern Technate who has had the most interaction with the Amothat is Captain Mystic. Briefed on the way that conversations with the creature usually went, she embarked on a different approach. She answered all of the Amothat's questions as honestly and directly as she was able to do, admitting gaps in her knowledge when necessary, asking it absolutely nothing in return.

When the Amothat was apparently satisfied with her answers, it engaged with the Captain through telepathy, revealing certain things about herself that she had never realized, and in the process opening itself up to her, so that she had more of an understanding of the nature of this being than any other mortal entity had ever managed. The immediate outcome was that the Captain learned of her amulet's potential technomantic abilities, and began to gain mastery of them. But of what she learned about the Amothat, she has only ever spoken briefly. When asked what the Amothat thought of the Technate, she answered in one short phrase: "It pities us."

Amothat -- PL 13

Abilities:
STR
0 | STA 4 | AGL 6 | DEX 6 | FGT 6 | INT 11 | AWE 8 | PRE 4

Powers:
Levitation:
Continuous Flight 7 (250 MPH) - 21 points
Psychokinetic Field: Immunity 10 (life support); Impervious Protection 12 - 34 points
Superior Mental Capacity: Comprehend 2 (languages, understand and understood); Impervious Will 12; Quickness 10, Limited to Mental Tasks only - 23 points
Telepathy: Mental Communication 4 - 16 points
Vast Psychic Powers: Array (32 points)
  • Gaze: Perception Range Affliction 10 (Resisted by Will; Dazed & Vulnerable, Stunned & Defenseless), Extra Condition, Limited Degree - 1 point
  • Hallucinations: Illusion 10 (all senses), Limited to One Subject, Resisted by Will - 1 point
  • Mind Probe: Cumulative Mind Reading 10, Subtle - 1 point
  • Spacewarp: Movement 2 (space travel); Accurate Extended Teleport 7 - 1 point
  • Telekinetic Lash: Ranged Damage 16 - 32 points
  • Telekinetic Constructs: Create Object 10, Moveable, Precise, - 1 point
  • Telekinetic Motion: Move Object 16 - 1 point

Advantages
Assessment, Eidetic Memory, Equipment X, Jack-of-all-Trades, Speed of Thought, Well-informed.

Equipment:
An artificially intelligent self-repairing starship of undocumented capabilities.

Skills:
Deception 7 (+11), Expertise: Galactic 6 (+17), Insight 8 (+16), Intimidation 9 (+13), Perception 7 (+15), Ranged Combat: Telekinesis 4 (+10), Technology 3 (+14), Vehicles 6 (+12).

Offense:
Initiative +11
Unarmed +6 (Close Damage 0)
Telekinetic Lash +10 (Ranged Damage 16)

Defense:
Dodge 10, Parry 8, Fortitude 9, Toughness 16, Will 16

Totals:
Abilities 90 + Powers 132 + Advantages 5 + Skills 25 + Defenses 19 = 271 points

Complications:
Responsibility (Probably)--Motivation. Makes People With the Complication "Mysterious and Enigmatic" Seem Straightforward and Opaque.
 

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Davies

Explorer
Geretil


For as long as their history records, the Geretil have practiced what they consider to be a benign form of infiltration, assuming the forms of other humanoid species and living among them in secret, in order to develop a greater understanding of their motivations. Their legends claim that their species' home world, located within the boundaries of the Crimson Imperium, was also home to several other intelligent species, and that their ancestors developed the ability to change their shapes in order to learn about these other peoples so that they could live in peace with them. The legends also claim that the other peoples of the planet eventually moved their entire populace into off-world colonies, leaving the world entirely to the Geretil.

There are those who view this as a very convenient set of legends, and note that the Geretil's account is studiously silent as to the identities -- and current whereabouts -- of the other species with whom they supposedly shared a world. For this reason, among others, the Geretil's reputation for benevolence is questioned in some quarters. However, it's also been noted that the people most paranoid about them tend to be paranoid and intolerant of everyone.

The species' tendency towards pacifism is also well-known, but even they will admit that their pacifism applies only to direct, personal confrontations -- while they won't fight in hand-to-hand or use lethal weaponry at a distance, the majority of their people have no difficulty in engaging in vehicular combat, firing a vessel's weapons against another vessel. On the other hand, a Geretil who are forced into conflict with another will normally engage in a brief, silent 'conversation' with the other, with one of them then choosing to voluntarily die at the other's hands rather than fight. The one who dies is considered to have made the easier choice, as the one who survives must live with their guilt.

Geretil are found in the service of the Crimson Imperium and as members of the Insurgency, with some associated with other factions within the Imperium's space. The stereotype of their people is that they are more loyal to their fellow Geretil than they are to whatever other associates they might have, but many defy this expectation. They are much rarer in the Technate, but some are known to have accompanied the Armada (and claim to have saved the expedition on one occasion, though every community in the Technate makes some form of that claim) or arrived after the rise of the Crimson King. As individuals with innate powers, Geretil citizens of the Technate are subject to greater suspicion and prejudice than their Imperium cousins, but no official disapproval. They are not, after all, capable of impersonating the artificial intelligences that govern the Technate.

The handful of Geretil on Earth are not agents of the Technate, and are in violation of the planet's officially protected status. Three of them are simple scholars who are studying Earth's native cultures and how they are responding to alien visitation. (They find the frequency with which reptilian invaders feature in human mythology to be very disturbing, but are just depressed by the fact that such depictions are usually coded references to despised human populations.) Two others are in the employ of Vaskhane, the interstellar crime syndicate, and either work with the organization run by El Diablo Rojo or are active in Bhutan. They engage in non-violent crime, but don't consider selling drugs of extraterrestrial origin to be an act of violence ...

Geretil Infiltrator -- PL 6 / MR 6

Abilities:
STR
1 | STA 3 | AGL 1 | DEX 1 | FGT 3 | INT 1 | AWE 1 | PRE 1

Powers:
Shapeshifting: Morph 3 [humanoids]; Regeneration 1; Variable 2, Move Action, Limited to Physical Abilities - 30 points

Typical Variable Sets:
Battle Form: Enhanced Strength 5 - 10 points
Void Form: Immunity 10 (life support) - 10 points
Winged Form: Flight 5, Winged; Shrinking; Senses 3 (extended vision 2, low-light vision) - 8 points


Advantages:
Defensive Roll, Equipment 2, Hide in Plain Sight

Equipment:
Concealed Stunbeam (Ranged Affliction 4 [Fortitude; Dazed, Stunned, Incapacitated], Improved Critical, Subtle)

Skills:
Close Combat: Unarmed 2 (+5), Deception 5 (+6), Expertise: Galactic 4 (+5), Perception 3 (+4), Persuasion 3 (+4), Ranged Combat: Stunbeam 4 (+5), Stealth 4 (+5), Technology 2 (+3), Vehicles 1 (+2)

Offense:
Initiative +1
Concealed Stunbeam +5 (Ranged Fortitude 4, Crit. 19-20)
Unarmed +5 (Close, Damage 1)

Defense:
Dodge 7, Parry 7, Fortitude 6, Toughness 5/3, Will 6

Totals:
Abilities 24 + Powers 30 + Advantages 5 + Skills 14 + Defenses 18 = 90 points

Complications:
Curiosity--Motivation. Pacifistic Tendencies. Others as Needed.
 

Davies

Explorer
Seshai


To look at the Seshai, one might think that they were just a blue-skinned branch of the human race, such as the people of Aychran, whose entire population have a condition similar to the methemoglobinemia possessed by some Terran humans, such as the Fugates of Kentucky. This is a false conclusion, and the Seshai are very prompt to correct the misapprehension when they encounter it. They are not even hominid, being descended from creatures similar to Terrestrial marsupials, and notably require major surgery in order to survive giving birth to live young. It is very likely that this condition is what led to them developing the advanced medical techniques that are their hallmark.

Many of these medical practices involve the enhancement or replacement of damaged organs and tissues with electronic systems -- cybernetics, to use the Terran term, which has no cognate in Seshai. While not all Seshai have such implants, they regard the need for them as no different from the use of clothing for protection from the elements. The notion that 'cybernetics' damage some essential aspect of an individual, rendering them less than a person or unable to empathize with those without them, is utterly foreign to their experience, and would be regarded as a profoundly disturbed perspective.

The Seshai were one of the founding members of the Imperium, having established a small interstellar polity surrounding their home world and fought several wars with the Manguai and their clients, the Augrah. They have maintained a long-standing rivalry with these old foes, but until the rise of the Crimson King, it had become an almost ceremonial relationship. The general opinion of the Seshai of the Crimson Imperium is an unfavorable one, but the majority of the populace has chosen to simply ignore it as best they can and wait for better times to come. A sizeable minority have taken action by joining the Insurgency, contributing valuable technological and medical assistance as well as acting as frontline soldiers.

Unfortunately, an equally large minority of the Seshai has responded to these developments in a much less positive and much more dangerous manner. While the Seshai have always been willing to share the benefits of their medical research with other peoples, they have never tried to force them on others, any more than they have tried to force their communal and uncommercial way of life on the rest of the universe. In the last half-century, however, a movement has developed in the Seshai community which asserts that their species possesses a uniquely enlightened perspective, and that the only way to bring other life forms to the same level of enlightenment is to provide them with medical enhancements -- regardless of the patient's wishes, which they view as a false consciousness.

Referring to themselves as Uplifters, these renegade Seshai have become space pirates of a particularly bizarre style, seeking neither profit nor excitement, but rather using the victims of their raids as the subjects of implanted medical enhancements -- 'cyborging', to use another term for which there is no Seshai cognate. They point to the fact that such subjects often join their crusade as evidence of their philosophy, but others, including mainstream Seshai physicians, have claimed that their victims have been cognitively rewritten by neurological implants rather than making free choices. The Uplifters are considered a criminal organization within the Imperium, with the Guard having shoot-on-sight orders concerning them. Despite this, they have continued to flourish.

Only a few Seshai families joined the Armada -- despite their technological orientation, their culture did not ever engage in much technomancy -- and the species is extremely uncommon in the Technate. The Uplift movement has not, as yet, found any purchase in this branch of their culture. But some have compared its diffusion to that of a computer virus, and it might only take a single infected Seshai to begin spreading it further.

Seshai Uplifter -- PL 8/MR 8

Abilities:
STR
5 | STA 4 | AGL 4 | DEX 4 | FGT 6 | INT 2 | AWE 1 | PRE 0

Powers:
Arm Blade:
Strength-based Damage 3, Improved Critical 1 - 4 points
Eyemods: Senses 1 (low-light vision) - 1 point
Communications Implant: Enhanced Skills 1 (Technology 3), Limited to Security; Radio Communication 3, Subtle; Senses 1 (radio) - 14 points
Subcutaneous Armor: Protection 4 - 4 points

Advantages:
Diehard, Equipment 4, Evasion, Fearless 2, Improved Aim, Improved Initiative, Precise Shot (ranged, cover), Ranged Attack 4, Teamwork.

Equipment:
Blaster Rifle (Ranged Damage 8) and 4 points of equipment as needed.

Skills:
Athletics 4 (+9), Intimidation 6 (+6), Investigation 4 (+6), Perception 5 (+6), Stealth 6 (+10), Technology 8/5 (+10/+7), Vehicles 4 (+8).

Offense:
Initiative +8
Unarmed +6 (Close Damage 5)
Arm Blade +6 (Close Damage 8, Crit 19-20)
Blaster Rifle +8 (Ranged Damage 8)

Defense:
Dodge 8, Parry 8, Fortitude 7, Toughness 8, Will 4.

Totals:
Abilities 52 + Powers 23 + Advantages 16 + Skills 17 + Defenses 12 = 120 points

Complications:
Obsession--Motivation. Electrical
(becomes Hindered, Immobilized and Paralyzed if subjected to Nullify Electrical.) Others as Needed.
 

Davies

Explorer
And now for a trip to A World More Sorcerous But No Less Challenging ...

Amagda Levent


Elsewhere in the multiverse, there is a land ruled by a magic-wielding aristocratic elite, who reign over a largely non-magical peasantry. In this land, called Galantri, the aristocracy generally wields magic associated with one of the four elemental powers -- earth, wind, fire, water -- with the same elemental alignment usually possessed by all the members of the same family. From time to time, however, there are born children who have powers that are not aligned with one of these elemental realms. In less enlightened lands than Galantri, such children are often considered to be blessed by the Immortals, often thought to be their children. Of course, this is nonsense, and these people are simply attuned to the same sources of power as these beings, who are not gods, whatever they might deceive the credulous into believing.

One of these children, born some twenty-five years ago, was a girl-child named Amagda of the Levent family, 'gifted' with the ability to move at great speed rather than her family's normal wind magic. Despite the enlightened attitudes of the adults around her, the children who were supposed to be her peers were less kind to her than they should have been, with whispered imprecations that her mother had dallied with an Immortal or one of their servants, who was Amagda's true father. Angered by these insults to herself and those she loved, Amagda grew into a terribly wrathful young woman.

There was only one among her generation who was kind to her, and who sought to calm Amagda's anger instead of stoking it. Rossandra Colleyne was a cousin to the Levent family, and she frequently visited their home in her childhood. Two years older than Amagda, she constantly assured the other young woman that her speed, and the strength that her training had given her, were both wondrous things, and that Rossandra believed that her friend would do things still more wondrous with them. She won Amagda's friendship and loyalty, and perhaps her heart as well, though only Amagda herself knows how deep her feelings were. At sixteen, she looked forward to studying at the Grand Academy because it would mean more time spent with Rossandra.

And then Rossandra was murdered. Worse, she was slandered in death, with those responsible for her death claiming that she had chosen to drink poison rather than face responsibility for heinous acts. Amagda knew well that her friend would never have done that, no matter what circumstances confronted her, and sought to fight against Rossandra's enemies. All that this won her was expulsion from the Grand Academy -- not that it mattered much, as her studies would have ended only a few months later, when the Academy suspended its operations in response to civil unrest.

The Levent family fled south to Tohrukin, but Amagda did not. As the old order of Galantri was thrown down by the rise of the Committee of Public Security, she knew that she must oppose this evil, not just because its first victim had been Rossandra, but also because of the harm that it wrought against the high and low alike. Whatever sins and crimes the aristocracy had committed, the violence of this terror was out of all proportion and sanity, and someone had to take a stand. So she told herself, at least, in trying to convince herseslf that she fought for a cause more noble than simple vengeance.

Amagda, in her heart of hearts, believes that she fights for a lost cause. The enemy is too numerous, and too well-organized, for her small group of brigands to meaningfully oppose through the hit and run tactics she employs. Yet in her darkest hour, when she sought out the counsel of an oracle, she was given a tiny bit of hope. The oracle told her that, sometimes, when a life ends before its fated moment, the Immortals gather up the soul of the departed and hide it in another world -- and that this is what happened to Rossandra. Somewhere, her friend is alive.

It's almost no hope at all. There are surely as many worlds as there are stars in the night sky, and even if she knew which one holds that particular soul, she has no way to get there. But she is determined to speed through this challenge and overcome it with all her strength, and then, somehow, she knows that her enemy will fall. There may be Immortals, and they may be gods, but Amagda believes in just one thing. She believes in Rossandra Colleyne.

Amagda -- PL 8

Abilities:
STR
2 | STA 2 | AGL 4 | DEX 3 | FGT 4 | INT 1 | AWE 3 | PRE 3

Powers:
Blessing of Zephyr:
Enhanced Advantages 3 (Close Attack 2, Improved Initiative); Enhanced Defenses 8 (Dodge 4, Parry 4); Quickness 6; Speed 6 - 23 points
Good Swift Strike: Strength-based Damage 4 - 4 points

Advantages:
Close Attack 2, Defensive Attack, Defensive Roll, Evasion, Improved Grab, Improved Initiative 2, Instant Up, Move-by Attack, Power Attack, Uncanny Dodge.

Skills:
Acrobatics 4 (+8), Athletics 6 (+8), Close Combat: Unarmed 4 (+8), Deception 4 (+7), Expertise: Magic 4 (+7), Intimidation 4 (+7), Perception 4 (+7), Stealth 4 (+8).

Offense:
Initiative +12/+8
Unarmed +10/+8 (Close Damage 6)

Defense:
Dodge 11/7, Parry 12/8, Fortitude 7, Toughness 4/2, Will 6.

Totals:
Abilities 44 + Powers 27 + Advantages 9 + Skills 17 + Defenses 15 = 112 points

Complications:
Revenge--Motivation. Soft Spot for the Needy. Temper.
 

Davies

Explorer
Mhaim Ashenputtel


Once upon a time, a little girl lived with her mother and father in a tiny village far from the centers of power in the land of Galantri, and though they were poor and times were always hard, they were happy. And then one day a beautiful sorceress came into their village and accused her mother of seducing the sorceress' husband, and even bearing his child. Her father tried to protect her, but died in the blink of an eye. The sorceress promised to allow the little girl to keep her wretched life if she didn't let out a tear during her mother's punishment, and when her mother finally took her last breath, the sorceress owned that her the child had kept her word. So she only killed everyone else in the village, leaving the little girl in its ashes. Mhaim Ashenputtel was her name from that day forward.

Eventually, the little girl left the ruins, and tried to flee to the mountains in hopes that she could find a pass that would lead to another land, but all that she found was frostbite and starvation, before she took shelter in a deep, dark cave. Within the depths, she heard a voice addressing her, asking what she desired. For a moment, she considered asking for her parents to be alive again, but then pain and anger burned away those gentle thoughts. She asked to become the agent of vengeance on the sorceress and all those like her, and the Shadow Dragon agreed to grant her this, so long as she brought this land under the rule of Great Ananke. She didn't know who that was, but she was past caring.

A few years later, a young magical prodigy was discovered in one of the provinces of Galantri, and quickly brought to be a student there. Her charm and beauty won her many friends among the young men of the school, and many enemies among the young ladies. But strange and terrible things happened to those who sought to bully her, such as the strange death of Rossandra Colleyne. And in addition to her apparent romantic conquests, she found other allies among those who had grown weary of the sorcerous aristocracy.

The revolution began in winter, with blood staining the white snow. Many sorcerers died, many fled, and finally the assembly sued for peace. A Committee of Public Security was set up, with Mhaim as one of its leaders, officially. (Unofficially, the others were all her poppets.) And then the trials began, with one particular sorcerer and his family dragged before her ... along with an unfamiliar-looking woman. The sorcerer stammered out some tale about how his wife had been mad with paranoia, slaughtering a village for an imagined crime, how she had finally taken her own life years before, how he would abandon his title and donate all his property to -- and then she stopped listening and drove her sword's point through his eye into his brain, telling her guards to smother the man's wife and brats in the dungeon.

It brought her no solace. Nothing will, she suspects, until the land is reduced to a few scattered villages like the one where she lived. Of course, such small villages can probably only sustain a much smaller population than the country now possesses, so she'll have to decrease the surplus population to something more manageable. The unceasing executions are a means to that end, as well as being amusing, and committed to instill the worship of Great Ananke in the remnant population.

Her greatest fear is somewhat bewildering. At the start of her great war, she was ordered to poison a certain aristocratic woman, whom she framed as her persecutor. She was only supposed to leave her weakened and injured, but something about her just aroused all of her anger and fear, and so she used enough of the poison to end her. That should be the end of it, surely, but she keeps having dreams in which her enemy returns from the grave, somehow ...

Mhaim Ashenputtel -- PL 9

Abilities:
STR
0 | STA 3 | AGL 2 | DEX 3 | FGT 4 | INT 5 | AWE 7 | PRE 4

Powers:
Gifts of the Shadow:
Array (39 points)
  • Shadow Consumption: Cloud Area Nullify Magic 9, Broad, Simultaneous - 1 point
  • Shadow Domination: Perception Range Affliction 9 (Resisted by Will; Dazed, Compelled, Controlled), Concentration Duration, Insidious, Subtle; Senses 1 (communication link with compelled or controlled target) - 39 points
  • Shadow Poison: Cumulative Affliction 9 (Resisted by Fortitude; Fatigued, Exhausted, Dying), Subtle; Energizing Healing 9, Self Only, Subtle - 1 point
  • Shadow Step: Movement 1 (dimensional movement [Shadowland]); Accurate Extended Teleport 12, Medium (shadows) - 1 point
  • Solid Shadows: Perception-Ranged Damaging Move Object 9 - 1 point
Shadowed Eyes: Senses 2 (darkvision) - 2 points
Shadowshield: Enhanced Defenses 10 (Dodge 5, Parry 5) - 12 points

Advantages:
Attractive, Benefit 3 (commissioner of public security, independently wealthy), Connected, Contacts, Equipment, Fascinate (Persuasion), Fearless, Ritualist, Ultimate Effort (Will), Well-Informed.

Equipment:
Sword (Strength-based Damage 3, Improved Critical).

Skills:
Close Attack: Sword 6 (+10), Deception 8 (+12), Expertise: High Society 5 (+10), Expertise: Magic 8 (+12), Insight 4 (+11), Investigation 5 (+10), Persuasion 8 (+12), Sleight of Hand 6 (+9), Stealth 6 (+8).

Offense:
Initiative +2
Unarmed +4 (Close Damage 0)
Sword +10 (Close Damage 3, Crit 19-20)
Domination -- (Perception-Range Will 9)
Poison +4 (Close Fortitude 9)
Solid Shaodw -- (Perception-Range Damaging Move Object 9)

Defense:
Dodge 13/8, Parry 15/10, Fortitude 5, Toughness 3, Will 13

Totals:
Abilities 56 + Powers 56 + Advantages 12 + Skills 28 + Defenses 18 = 170 points

Complications:
Revenge--Motivation. Fear
(Rossandra Colleyne.) Hatred (aristocracy.) Vulnerability (magic of the heart.)
 

Davies

Explorer
The Dragon

Normal Form

Human Form

Other Human Form

The dragons of the World More Sorcerous do not name themselves or their offspring. Generally, the parent who hatches the eggs doesn't remain with the offspring for more than a few days, long enough for them to become independent. Parental affection is all but unknown, it is rare for dragons to form bonds with their fellow clutch mates. There is no real draconic language; when a dragon needs to communicate with another dragon, they typically either employ very physical nonverbal communication or, more rarely, the languages of one of the more social species, such as humanity. This is despite the contempt and disgust that they feel towards those species, especially humanity.

This particular dragon is at one and the same time an exemplar of this attitude, and a somewhat perverse exception to it. On the one hand, the dragon regards the majority of humanity with the same weary annoyance that a picnicker might feel towards a group of ants. They might kill a few of them, but is well aware that destroying all of them is probably not within their power or a productive use of their time. In more sadistic moments, they might behave like a young boy with a magnifying glass, but this too loses its charm after a while.

Periodically, however, the dragon develops a, well, fascination with an individual human. Despite what the tales will claim, this isn't always a virginial princess, as human concepts of purity and status mean absolutely nothing to the dragon. These obsessions never last, but they don't always end the way that you might be expecting, either. When they do end, though, the dragon typically retreats from the scene of this latest fling and spends an extended period isolated from any contact with other intelligent life. It would not be safe to call this pouting.

During one such pout, a few decades ago, the dragon spent an extended period underground. While burrowing through the caves, they chanced to discover a portal to another world, which led to a strange land of animate fungus. The dragon was enchanted with this place, and its ruler in particular, and naturally sought to rule over it and her. Unfortunately, the dragon was soon to discover that, despite their hopes, this world was just as filled with obnoxious humans as the one from which they'd come, and so gave up on its new hope and returned whence they came.

Fairly recently, something unexpected happened. Dragons have no more of a religion than they have a language or culture, but they reluctantly acknowledge that there are powers greater than their own and will generally do what those powers tell them to do when told. So it was that when an entity called the Shadow Dragon -- probably not an actual dragon, but arguing the point is a bad idea -- extracted an oath from them to serve as an ally to one of its other mortal pawns, the dragon readily agreed. After all, there's only one real purpose that anyone would send a dragon to work for a human, and the dragon was in the mood for that sort of thing.

Unfortunately, while the dragon has been witness to a great deal of death while in the service of Mhaim Ashenputtel, it hasn't been nearly as entertaining as they expected it. Quite apart from the way that Mhaim usually commands the dragon to remain in one of its human forms and even pretend to be a human, an insult they must reluctantly bear because of their oath, the sheer amount of senseless violence and terror that are being caused in Galantri are ... well ... horrifying. It's so methodical and deliberate, a far cry from the impulsive acts that the dragon has been known to commit. And his quote-unquote master acts as though all this is somehow 'good'.

Morality is an alien concept to the dragon, but they are starting to think that agreeing to this, instead of dying a pointless and painful death, might not have been the wiser choice.

The Dragon -- PL 11

Abilities:
STR
13/6 | STA 12/5 | AGL 2 | DEX 4 | FGT 9 | INT 1 | AWE 3 | PRE 2

Powers:
Firey Breath:
Ranged Damage 13, Extended Range 3 - 29 points
Keen Vision: Senses 2 (extended vision, low-light vision) - 2 points
Monstrous Toughness: Immunity 21 (aging, flame effects, life support); Impervious Toughness 5 - 26 points
Shapeshifting: Array (28 points)
  • Huge Form: Growth 7 (STR +7, STA +7, Intimidation +3, Dodge -4, Parry -4, Stealth -7); Impervious Toughness 7* - 28 points
  • Human Form: Morph 1 (specific human form) - 1 point
  • Human Form: Morph 1 (different specific human form) - 1 point
Wings: Flight 7 (250 MPH), Wings - 7 points

* 1 rank per Growth rank active.

Advantages:
All-out Attack, Defensive Attack, Diehard, Evasion, Improved Aim, Improved Initiative, Languages 4 (many), Move-by Action, Startle.

Skills:
Athletics 3 (+16/+9), Deception 6 (+8), Expertise: Magic 6 (+8), Intimidation 5 (+10/+7), Perception 4 (+7), Ranged Combat: Firey Breath 5 (+9), Stealth 5 (+0/+7).

Offense:
Initiative +6
Unarmed +9 (Close Damage 13/6)
Firey Breath +9 (Ranged Damage 13)

Defense:
Dodge 5/9, Parry 6/10, Fortitude 14/7, Toughness 12/5 , Will 8.

Totals:
Abilities 64 + Powers 89 + Advantages 12 + Skills 17 + Defenses 11 = 193 points

Complications:
Power--Motivation. Easily Romantically Obsessed. Oathbound. Vulnerability
(cold effects).
 

Davies

Explorer
Roeven


Roeven, the wandering adventurer and general scapegrace known by some as Roeven the Jackal, is a dark elf, and specifically a drow. Drow are specifically those dark elves who live in what's called the Adamant Citadel. Before we get into that, let's talk about dark elves -- they are simply elves who live in the underworld, no more vicious or cruel than any other elves, and have the same range of skin tones as wood elves or high elves (the ones who live in floating cities). They usually aren't very friendly to surface dwellers who trespass in their realms, but they don't enslave them or even mistreat them beyond escorting them back to the surface. They have very poor relations with dwarves, whom they've largely pushed out of the underworld and onto the surface, and the dwarves don't particularly like them either. Their religion is largely animistic, they tend to be governed by an aristocracy, and frequently have female leaders, but this is by no means universal.

Now, the Adamant Citadel is one particularly large cave that's notable for having certain radioactive crystals growing in the walls, and constant exposure to this radiation has had an impact on those who live here. They tend to have purple or grey skin, white-blonde hair, red or golden eyes, and are much more capricious than other dark elves. (It's not clear whether the last is a consequence of the radiation.) The drow aristocracy tend to engage in all sorts of wild antics, but they are not really any more depraved than human aristocrats. Worship of demon lords is considered acceptable behavior here, though most drow only seek to appease them rather than viewing them as a source of power. Assassination is thought to be a perfectly reasonable response to an insult, mostly because most everybody has easy access to resurrection magic. so 'you're only dead when the priest says you're dead.' There are plenty of decent and compassionate drow, they just focus their efforts on making life better for their fellows rather than going into exile.

So when Roeven spins tales about how he's an exiled prince of his people, driven away for his attempts to change their way of life for a better, those who know anything about the subject realize he is making up whatever stories he thinks will convince his audience to buy him drinks. He has all sorts of stories, but the truth is that he was a bravo on the streets of the Citadel, slightly more talented than most of his fellows, and with a much higher opinion of himself than was probably warranted. He left the citadel claiming that he would win fame and fortune in the outer world. That was a few decades ago.

Somewhat even to his own surprise, Roeven has in fact found fame -- well, notoriety -- and fortune -- well, brief fortune -- in his journeys on the surface. This is largely due to his discovery, on one of his first adventures, of the infamous wonder-weapon known as the Sword of World Slicing. In addition to being a deadly magical blade, the Sword has the power to cut open holes in the world, variously unleashing elemental assaults against all who stand before its bearer, facilitating seven-league strides, and even allowing him to visit distant worlds. Of course, all this comes with the difficulty that the Sword is aware and has decided opinions about what it should be used for -- mostly as much murder as possible -- and the ability to demand such behavior of its wielder.

So far, Roeven has never fully fallen under the spell of the Sword, mostly because he has a perfectly acceptable level of bloodlust without its help. While willing to engage in heroic exploits, his icy blue eyes are always looking for an opportunity to profit from such activities, regardless of who has to suffer. His one relatively admirable trait is that he will always stand with anyone who's been willing to stand with him in the past. Flatly, he doesn't have that many friends, and will go to great lengths for those that he does have.

Roeven -- PL 11

Abilities:
STR
4 | STA 5 | AGL 4 | DEX 6 | FGT 9 | INT 1 | AWE 4 | PRE 3

Powers:
Dark Elven Gifts:
Immunity 3 (aging, disease, need for sleep); Regeneration 2; Senses 1 (low-light vision) - 6 points
Sword of World-Slicing: Easily Removable (-20 points)
  • Blade: Strength-based Damage 3, Improved Critical 2 - 5 points
  • Portals: Array (24 points)
  • Diagonal Cut: Movement 3 (dimensional movement [any]), Portal - 1 point
  • Horizontal Cut: Cone Area Damage 11, Variable 2 (elemental) - 24 points
  • Vertical Cut: Extended Only Teleport 6, Portal - 1 point
  • Speaks With Sword: Enhanced Advantage 17 (Sidekick 17); Senses 1 (communication link with blade) - 18 point
Unfazeable: Immunity 5 (interaction effects) - 5 points

Advantages:
Agile Feint, Equipment, Evasion, Grappling Finesse, Improved Defense, Language 4 (many), Power Attack, Ritualist, Sidekick 17, Takedown.

Equipment:
Mail armor (Protection 3) and 2 points of equipment as needed.

Skills:
Acrobatics 6 (+10), Athletics 6 (+10), Close Combat: Sword 3 (+12), Expertise: Magic 6 (+9), Expertise: Streetwise 6 (+7), Insight 4 (+8), Intimidation 6 (+9), Perception 6 (+10), Ranged Combat: Thrown Object 5 (+11), Sleight of Hand 2 (+8), Stealth 6 (+10).

Offense:
Initiative +6,
Unarmed +9 (Close Damage 4)
Sword Blade +12 (Close Damage 7)
Horizontal Cut -- (Cone Area Damage 11)

Defense:
Dodge 11, Parry 12, Fortitude 6, Toughness 8/5, Will 9.

Totals:
Abilities 72 + Powers 40 + Advantages 12 + Skills 28 + Defenses 16 = 168 points

Complications:
Thrills--Motivation. Prejudice
(dark elves, by surfacers) Reputation (drow, by dark elves.) Tries to Be Loyal to Friends.

Blade of World Slicing -- PL 9

Abilities:
STR
-- | STA -- | AGL -- | DEX 0 | FGT -- | INT 4 | AWE 4 | PRE 6

Powers:
Control the Wielder:
Array (20 points)
  • Blessing: Sustained Immunity 20 (mental effects), Affects Others Only - 20 points
  • Curse: Cumulative Affliction 9 (Resisted by Will; Dazed, Compelled, Controlled), Subtle, Insidious - 1 point*
Mystical Awareness: Senses 3 (mystical awareness, acute, extended) - 3 points
Solid Object: Immunity 30 (Fortitude effects); Impervious Protection 5 - 40 points
Speaks With Wielder: Senses 1 (communication link with current owner) - 1 point

* This effect will only work on an individual who is already holding the sword, but doesn't require any attack roll. The advantages and disadvantages of this cancel out.

Advantages:
Fascinate (Deception), Speed of Thought, Teamwork.

Skills:
Deception 8 (+14), Expertise: History 8 (+12), Expertise: Magic 5 (+11), Insight 9 (+13), Perception 8 (+12).

Offense:
Initiative +4
Curse -- (Close Will 9)

Defense:
Dodge --, Parry --, Fortitude --, Toughness 5, Will 8.

Totals:
Abilities -6 + Powers 65 + Advantages 3 + Skills 19 + Defenses 4 = 85 points

Complications:
Bloodlust--Motivation. Reputation
(demonic blade.)
 


Davies

Explorer
"Return with us to those thrilling days of yesteryear ..."

The Cowl and Masque

The Cowl


Owen LeBrett, born in 1909, learned to hate the injustice that poisoned the world early, when his older brother Henry lied about his age to fight in the War to End All Wars and died heroically in Italy. ("Heroically" sounded so much better than "pointlessly.") Owen grew up in the shadow of his brother's sacrifice, determined to build a world worthy of it. This he did first as a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune, as an agent for the O.S.S., and later as an editor for the paper.

But despite all he did, it just didn't seem to be enough. The world was afflicted with Communism and gangsterism, and LeBrett increasingly felt that the only thing to do was to force it to make sense. Just what sparked the idea of putting on a mask to disguise his identity has never been adequately explained; it may have been simple pragmatism, a step taken to protect his friends and family from retaliation. But he wasn't actually close to his only remaining family, a younger sister who had married one of the Chicago Richmonds, and generally kept even his circle of acquaintances at a distance. He had a reputation as a quiet man who kept to himself, outside of his work in the editor's room.

He never bothered to give the masked identity he created in 1956 a separate name -- that came, ironically enough, from one of the younger reporters of the paper, one Francis Tyler, who'd investigated the first accounts of his activities. Once it became clear that 'the Cowl' was going to stick, he accepted it, and used the name himself. In his identity as the editor, he encouraged skepticism about the Cowl's motives, suggesting that he might simply be a masked hoodlum striking out against rival criminals, rather than any sort of hero. It seemed the best way to insure that no one ever made any connections between the two men.

1959 marked two great changes in the Cowl's life. While battling a group of drug smugglers in Harlem, he was surprised when a young colored man came to his assistance in a particularly dicey fight. The boy was injured, and LeBrett chose to take him back to his hidden fortress rather than a hospital, ostensibly because a hospital that would accept the young man was further away but actually because he was curious. As he recovered, Jimmy Graham explained that he'd lost a brother to the allure of drugs, and despised those who dealt them. The story resonated with LeBrett, who offered to take Jimmy as a pupil and sidekick, under the alias Mask. Jimmy agreed, but altered the name a bit. To explain their association, LeBrett publicly hired Jimmy as his driver.

The other change came out of the first adventure outside of New York that the Cowl and Masque embarked on, which took them all the way to Washington and led them to save the President's life from a group of saboteurs. In the course of the exploit, the Cowl was forced to reveal his identity to President Eisenhower. At first, this seemed to be no problem -- if you couldn't trust the President of the United States, who could you trust -- but it would have consequences that the Cowl did not foresee.

Those consequences manifested when LeBrett received the invitation to take part in the first meeting of the Institute, delivered to him in a way that made it clear that this was an offer he couldn't refuse. He was uncomfortable at the meeting, as he was just an ordinary many surrounded by eccentric inventors and a pair of demigods. He framed the way that he never brought Masque with him to the group's meetings as a way to shield his young friend from this strangeness, but there were likely other reasons that he didn't admit. Masque claimed not to be bothered by this, at first.

But the times kept on changing, and the arrival of Basilea and the Iconoclast as members of the Institute made that even clearer. The Amazon woman was confusing enough, seeming to embody everything that confused LeBrett about the way that the world was changing. But the Iconoclast was even worse, for it seemed that he could do everything better than the Cowl, or at least do it with more ... panache, for lack of a better term. It didn't help that LeBrett was well aware that, as he moved through his fifties, he was not holding on to the edge that he'd possessed in his earliest days.

Rather the opposite -- it often seemed that Masque, who was growing into an extremely capable man, thanks to tutoring from those two, was the more effective member of their partnership. All this left him surly and unhappy, and the fact that he was forgetting things -- important things -- was also becoming apparent. When the Herald-Tribune closed in 1966, the publisher offered him a job with one of his other papers, but LeBrett was so disgusted with the situation that he turned the offer down and retired, increasingly abandoning his civilian identity.

Masque never complained, keeping whatever dissatisfaction he felt for his supposed mentor firmly to himself, and never voiced any suggestions that the old man should consider retiring as the Cowl, too. He would have cause to regret that decision, especially after 1971. The Cowl accompanied the rest of the Institute to Vietnam, but ordered Masque to remain behind and keep the hidden fortress secure against a group of costume malcontents who'd been imprisoned a decade before. During the Battle of Vietnam, the Cowl seemed bewildered and confused by his surroundings. Officially, he died a hero's death in the fight. Unofficially, there is an account which describes him driving a jeep, apparently believing it to be his beloved Silver Bullet, at Stardust, who proceeded to disassemble it and him with a wave of his hand.

James Graham disappeared after the funeral of Owen LeBrett, though Masque assisted Basilea on a number of cases in the mid-1970s. He was no longer using any costumed identity when he fought crime at the side of Songbird in the 1980s, and was involved in a romantic relationship with her. He was last seen in 1996, leaving the apartment he shared with her and their child after an argument with Sarah Blade, and has never been seen since. He would be 78 years old in 2020, and his ultimate fate remains a great mystery.

The Cowl -- PL 7

Abilities:
STR
2 | STA 2 | AGL 2 | DEX 3 | FGT 4 | INT 2 | AWE 3 | PRE 3

Advantages:
Benefit 1 (well-off), Connected, Defensive Attack, Defensive Roll 2, Equipment 6, Evasion, Improved Defense, Improved Initiative, Improvised Weapon 2, Languages 2 (German, Italian, Russian, Spanish), Power Attack, Ranged Attack 4, Sidekick 15 (Masque), Startle, Takedown, Uncanny Dodge.

Equipment:
8 points of equipment as needed.
Silver Bullet: Size Huge; Strength 8; Speed 5 (ground); Defense 8; Toughness 12; Feature Disguise - 12 points
Hidden Fortress: Size Medium; Toughness 8; Features Communications, Concealed, Garage, Gym, Library, Living Space, Power System, Security System - 10 points

Skills:
Acrobatics 3 (+5), Athletics 3 (+5), Close Combat: Unarmed 3 (+7), Deception 7 (+10), Expertise: Business 6 (+8), Expertise: Streetwise 4 (+6), Insight 7 (+10), Intimidation 9 (+12), Investigation 5 (+7), Perception 8 (+11), Sleight of Hand 4 (+7), Stealth 7 (+9), Technology 4 (+6), Treatment 4 (+6).

Offense:
Initiative +5
Unarmed +7 (Close Damage 2)
Improvised Weapon +7 (Close Damage 4)

Defense:
Dodge 7, Parry 7, Fortitude 4, Toughness 7/2, Will 6

Totals:
Abilities 42 + Advantages 41 + Skills 37 + Defenses 13 = 133 points

Complications:
Justice--Motivation. Secret Identity. Senility
(after 1967.)

These abilities represent the Cowl in 1959; they began to degrade shortly after. By 1963, his STR, STA, AGL, DEX and FGT all drop by 1; by 1967 they've dropped by 2; and by 1971, shortly before his death, they drop by 3, and his INT, AWE and PRE drop by 2 as well.

Masque -- PL 5

Abilities:
STR
3 | STA 3 | AGL 2 | DEX 2 | FGT 5 | INT 1 | AWE 2 | PRE 2

Advantages:
All-out Attack, Defensive Attack, Defensive Roll, Evasion, Improved Critical (Unarmed), Improved Initiative, Power Attack, Takedown.

Skills:
Athletics 4 (+7), Close Combat: Unarmed 2 (+7), Deception 4 (+6), Expertise: Streetwise 6 (+7), Intimidation 4 (+6), Perception 4 (+6), Vehicles 6 (+8).

Offense:
Initiative +6
Unarmed +7 (Close Damage 3)

Defense:
Dodge 5, Parry 5, Fortitude 5, Toughness 5, Will 5

Totals:
Abilities 40 + Advantages 8 + Skills 17 + Defenses 10 = 75 points

Complications:
Justice--Motivation. Prejudice
(Black, teenager.) Secret Identity.

Again, this represents Masque in 1959, when he first began working with the Cowl. His skills, advantages, and powers improved over time, to the point where he was almost a completely different character by 1971.
 
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Davies

Explorer
Perseus


The most mysterious member of the Institute would have been faintly baffled to realize that people thought of him in that way. To his own way of thinking, there was no mystery about him at all -- he was Perseus, King of Tiryns, son of Zeus and Danae, slayer of the Gorgon and the Cetus, and he would never fail to introduce himself as such, making no attempt to hide his identity. He would, if pressed, admit that he was somewhat at a loss to know how he had traveled from Tiryns to this strange and foreign land, so that was a mystery, but it was a mystery about the world, not about himself.

In 1962, a recently arrived member of the Smithsonian Institution's archeology department, Amelia Simmons, was informed that a half-naked man had been discovered making something of a pest of himself in the display of recently discovered Bronze Age artifacts currently being presented in the Arts and Sciences Building. One of the security guards who had attempted to subdue the man was something of an archaeology buff, and recognized that the language he was speaking was something like the spoken form of the recently translated Mycenaean language. As Amelia had done some of the most recent studies on that language, she was asked to come to try and calm the stranger down.

This was not at all in Amelia's job description, but she was used to doing ridiculously inappropriate things in the early days of any post she'd held, and so she elected to go and try to calm him down, somewhat disconcerted to watch him casually smacking about the security guards who were trying to restrain him. She addressed him in Mycenaean, and succeeded in getting his name out of him. Naturally, she thought that his claimed identity was proof that he was a lunatic, but focused on getting him to leave the building without causing more of a scene. However, that effort was interrupted when a group of crooks broke into the museum and attempted to rob the place.

Perseus didn't hesitate, turning the skills that had protected him against the security guards against these criminals, as well as demonstrating the abilities of some of his panoply -- specifically the winged sandals and helm of darkness that he carried with him. Amelia was left utterly flabbergasted by these devices, which she naturally recognized as some of the magical tools that legend put in Perseus' possession. Combined with his strength and skill, the notion that he really was the person that he claimed to be seemed ... slightly less insane.

He continued to use these gifts of his to fight ordinary criminals and villainy in the general vicinity of the Smithsonian, with Amelia acting as his adviser, much of the time. Initially, he took great offense to attempts to 'explain' him that went beyond, or ignored, his statement that he was exactly who legend proclaimed him to be. Gradually, he came to an understanding that the people who proposed such notions weren't actually calling him a liar, just trying to understand him in their own way. He never budged from the simple explanation that he'd always offered, though.

His goal in all his exploits was to demonstrate his arete, the use of all his abilities to achieve admirable results. A secondary goal was to figure out how to return to his proper place. He never fully accepted that he had been removed from his proper time, as the notion of time travel was utterly foreign to him, and persisted in believing that his homeland was just far away across the ocean -- or possibly several oceans.

Invited to join the Institute not long after his earliest appearances, he served with distinction and ability. The variety of odd tools that he carried with him in his enchanted knapsack made him an invaluable teammate, although his skill in combat was somewhat narrowly focused on swordplay instead of the fisticuffs favored by most of his colleagues. He was also famous for being one of the most accepting members of the team -- no matter how strange one of his allies might seem to be, he would always welcome them as a comrade. The world was full of strange things, after all.

Perseus met his end in the Battle, having missed the early hours of it. He challenged Stardust, claiming that his latest adventure had allowed him to recover the Gorgon's head, and that he was now holding it in his kibisis, ready to use. This focused the Super Wizard's attention firmly on himself, allowing Basilea to strike from an unexpected angle and inflict the wound that sent the enemy fleeing. Unfortunately, Stardust had already retaliated against Perseus in the instant before that blow landed, inflicting some sort of creeping petrification that suffocated him before he transformed into stone. He lived long enough to gasp out a phrase in Mycenaean, but Basilea (the only other person present who spoke the langauge) was unconscious, and so whatever last message he intended was lost forever. A heartbroken Amelia Simmons arranged for his petrified remains to be sealed in one of the Smithsonian's vaults.

Perseus -- PL 9

Abilities:
STR
4 | STA 5 | AGL 3 | DEX 2 | FGT 6 | INT 2 | AWE 3 | PRE 3

Powers:
Helm of Darkness:
Concealment 4 (visual); Removable (-2 points) - 6 points
Heroic Stature: Immunity 3 (aging, disease, poison); Regeneration 3 - 6 points
Kibisis: Feature 3 (extradimensional storage of 400 lbs); Removable (-1 point) - 2 points
Reflective Shield: Strength-based Damage 2; Enhanced Defenses 4 (Dodge 2, Parry 2); Easily Removable (-2 poitns) - 4 points
Winged Sandals: Flight 7 (250 MPH); Removable (-3 points) - 11 points

Advantages:
All-out Attack, Diehard, Equipment 6, Evasion, Great Endurance, Improved Hold, Improved Initiative, Language (English, original unclear), Power Attack, Takedown, Uncanny Dodge

Equipment:
Sword (Strength-based Damage 3, Improved Critical) and 26 points of equipment as needed, contained in kibisis.

Skills:
Acrobatics 4 (+7), Athletics 6 (+10), Close Combat: Sword 5 (+11), Deception 6 (+9), Insight 6 (+9), Intimidation 8 (+11), Perception 6 (+9), Stealth 5 (+8).

Offense:
Initiative +7
Unarmed +6 (Close Damage 4)
Shield +6 (Close Damage 6)
Sword +11 (Close Damage 7, Crit 18-20)

Defense:
Dodge 11/9, Parry 13/11, Fortitude 7, Toughness 5, Will 6.

Totals:
Abilities 56 + Powers 27 + Advantages 16 + Skills 23 + Defenses 16 = 138 points

Complications:
Arete--Motivation. Friend
(Amelia Simmons). Unfamiliar With Modern Culture.
 

Davies

Explorer
The Iconoclast


Bursting onto the scene in San Francisco of 1963, the Iconoclast quickly established himself as an unconventional eccentric who marched to the beat of a different drummer, while nonetheless being an extremely effective crime fighter. He battled against a collection of would-be criminal masterminds who were every bit as bizarre as himself with a stream of patter and extraordinary agility, overcoming them all. Despite the skepticism of some of the more conservative members of the Institute, he was quickly invited to join the group, and unhesitatingly revealed his secret identity to them.

Behind the mask, he was one Andrew Lewis, a wealthy young gentleman who claimed to have been born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. His talents had been cultivated through a somewhat misspent youth, touring India and China. He claimed to have developed the identity of the Iconoclast after seeing how much fun the other early superheroes were having, and deciding to join in. None of this did anything to allay the doubts of certain of his new teammates, but the Iconoclast soon took his place as one of their most well-regarded members.

Perhaps those doubts should have been given more heed. In 1993, long after it was all over, journalist Richard Lawson discovered the minutes of a secret society called the Golden Mean, apparently established in 1919 despite an internal mythology that put its formation a century or so earlier. Their goal was to achieve the transformation of the American government into a technocratic state, run by themselves, and eventually the installation of a technocratic world government. And those minutes revealed that, in 1947, the nineteen-year-old Andrew Lewis had been recruited by the Golden Mean, trained by them as an operative, and eventually -- some sixteen years later -- assigned to infiltrate the Institute.

What those minutes did not reveal was that, despite this sinister origin, Lewis had never really had much interest in the Golden Mean's goals. He had joined the group largely on a lark, not taking it -- or anything else -- all that seriously. The thrill of being a secret operator, and later the greater excitement of being a famous superhero, were what he'd sought, though he also came to find genuine enjoyment in the good deeds that the Iconoclast performed.

Furthermore, whatever loyalty Lewis might have notionally felt for the Golden Mean was utterly destroyed when one of its leaders tried to blackmail him into becoming his personal agent through threats to reveal the other major secrets that he was keeping -- his homosexuality and his occasional recreational drug use. That, he took seriously. He promptly retaliated against this threat, secretly eliminating that senior member of the society and a few others whose activities had offended him, all without ever exposing himself to either the other members of the Golden Mean or his teammates on the Institute.

During the Battle of Vietnam, the Iconoclast was apparently the author of the strategy that successfully injured Stardust and prompted his retreat, though he was demonstrably horrified by the cost of the victory. He met his own fate after Stardust's disappearance, when a helicopter carrying him and several American servicemen suffered an equipment failure and crashed in the jungle. By the time that a rescue operation was mounted, there was no one alive at the crash site, though the Iconoclast's body was never actually recovered.

The exact cause of this incident has never been formally demonstrated. Lawson speculated that the Golden Mean had decided to end their agent's activities and faked the crash to extract him, or possibly to eliminate him. Others have noted that one of the Iconoclast's recurring enemies, the Soviet super-soldier Remontnik, had been in the area before the helicopter took flight, and that he might have sabotaged it, either of his own volition or as part of an assignment. In 1988, Kevin Hazzard, who had also been on the helicopter, reported to JSOT that the Iconoclast had been killed saving his life in the crash, and that he'd buried him before going AWOL. He had no more idea of what had caused the crash than anyone else, but believed it to have been a genuine accident.

Regardless, the Golden Mean endured only a few more years after this, before dissolving acrimoniously in 1977. Some of its members and agents wound up as part of the Pythonian Insurgency, while others disappeared completely in 1981. Its legacy, and that of the Iconoclast, would seem to be the later career of Hazard, and all that came from it.

The Iconoclast -- PL 8

Abilities:
STR
3 | STA 3 | AGL 4 | DEX 4 | FGT 6 | INT 7 | AWE 5 | PRE 5

Powers:
Striking Strength:
Strength-based Damage 2 - 2 points

Equipment:
Throwing Discs (Ranged Damage 3), and 14 points of equipment as necessary.

Advantages:
Agile Feint, Assessment, Benefit 3 (Millionaire), Connected, Contacts, Defensive Roll, Equipment 4, Improved Hold, Improved Initiative, Improved Trip, Jack-of-all-Trades, Languages 3 (several), Power Attack, Redirect, Set-up, Taunt, Uncanny Dodge, Well-Informed.

Skills:
Acrobatics 6 (+10), Athletics 6 (+9), Close Combat: Unarmed 3 (+9), Deception 7 (+12), Expertise: High Society 4 (+11), Insight 6 (+11), Intimidation 6 (+11), Investigation 6 (+13), Perception 7 (+12), Persuasion 6 (+11), Ranged Combat: Throwing Discs 5 (+9), Sleight of Hand 6 (+10), Stealth 6 (+10), Technology 4 (+11), Treatment 4 (+11), Vehicles 6 (+10).

Offense:
Initiative +12
Unarmed +9 (Close Damage 5)
Throwing Discs +9 (Ranged Damage 3).

Defense:
Dodge 8, Parry 8, Fortitude 6, Toughness 6/4, Will 7.

Totals:
Abilities 74 + Powers 2 + Advantages 25 + Skills 44 + Defenses 13 = 158 points

Complications:
Thrills--Motivation. Fame. Secrets (association with the Golden Mean, drug use, homosexual.)
 

Davies

Explorer
Selkie


In her youth, as far as Nora knew, the world consisted only of the island where she and her father lived and the endless icy sea surrounding it, and it was populated only by herself and him. She had a dim set of memories of other people, and her father admitted that her mother had left them long ago, taking her son -- not 'our son', never 'your brother' -- with her. That tiny admission ensured that one day Nora too would leave their tiny world for whatever lay beyond it -- since saying that they left meant that they had to have gone somewhere else, which meant that somewhere else existed -- but for a time she was content to dwell on the island and swim in the sea, learning to use the command of water that she had inherited from him.

The time came when she was fifteen years old, in the year that she would learn was 1964. It was an accident, really; she was playing with a storm and it blew up into something beyond her ability to manage, and so she found herself lost at sea. Swimming faster and further than she ever had before brought her within sight of a different island -- Newfoundland, specifically. She rested there awhile before continuing to swim down the coast she'd just discovered, to Nova Scotia and then to Maine. That chanced to be where she rescued another child who'd swum too far, bringing him back to Old Orchard Beach and being bewildered by the strange language that everyone was speaking.

Eventually, they found someone who spoke Scots Gaelic, and Nora started to learn English from the Adams -- the people whose son, Ryan, she'd saved. They took her in when it became clear that she had no one else in the world save a father whose exact location was something of a mystery. It took her a while to get used to the idea that most people were not aquatic, not as strong or as tough, and could not command water at will, but as she did, it became clear to her that she had to use these talents of hers to be useful to the people around her or else they wouldn't put up with her. So she began patrolling the coastline, sometimes swimming as far south as Montauk, where she made the acquaintance of fisherman Frank Mundus.

It didn't take long for her to be invited to join the Institute -- who, like most everyone else, were under the impression that she was an adult instead of a teenaged girl -- though her participation in the group's activities was usually quite limited. She needed to remain hydrated, and quite a few of their cases took place far inland. Even beyond that, she was a shy person who rarely spoke up during meetings, generally abstained from voting, and didn't seek the society of her fellows. There was an exception to that, as she was initially quite fascinated by Protius of the Primal Pattern, whom she thought might have some connection to her. That turned out not to be the case, but they remained somewhat distant friends until the end.

Her survival during the Battle of Vietnam was something of a miracle. She used the water of the Mekong River to ambush Stardust, but he proceeded to boil it and her. Nora later claimed that Protius had actually survived the Primal Pattern's apparent demise, and sacrificed himself to save her, though she was unclear about how he'd managed this. Regardless, she spent most of the next year isolated from her friends and fellows, though she ultimately did return to take part in the Institute's last cases.

After the Institute shut down, Selkie finally managed to find her way back to the island where she'd grown up, only to find it long abandoned. What had happened to her father remained a mystery that she was never able to solve. While swimming north of the island, she had a confrontation with some would-be pirates and took a serious injury in defeating them. Her unconscious body was caught by an Icelandic fishing vessel, captained by one Árni Einarsson. Grateful to him for saving her life -- while she couldn't drown, she could easily have found herself consumed by an oceanic predator if she'd remained adrift -- she also enjoyed how he made her laugh for the first time in quite a while.

They were married a year later, and their son born in 1979. The rest of the story has already been told. Nora Adams lies buried in a Reykjavik cemetery, beside her husband.

Selkie -- PL 9

Abilities:
STR
8 | STA 9 | AGL 5 | DEX 3 | FGT 6 | INT 1 | AWE 3 | PRE 2

Powers:
Aquatic:
Immunity 3 (cold, drowning, pressure); Impervious Toughness 6; Movement 1 (Environmental Adaptation-Aquatic); Senses 7 (Accurate Extended 2 Tracking 2 Hearing (Only when submerged), Low-Light Vision); Swimming 8 (120 MPH) - 23 points
Maritime Empathy: Comprehend Animals 2, Limited to Aquatic Animals - 4 points
Water-Mastery: Array (18 points)
  • Hard Water Objects: Create 9 (hard water) - 18 point
  • Move Water: Perception Range Move Object 9, Limited to Water - 1 point
  • Stormy Weather: Environment 9 (impede movement 1, visibility 1) - 1 point
  • Water Blast: Ranged Damage 9 - 1 points
  • Water Snare: Ranged Affliction 9 (Resisted by Dodge; Hindered and Vulnerable, Immobile and Defenseless), Extra Condition, Limited to Two Degrees - 1 point

Advantages:
Agile Feint, Defensive Attack, Diehard, Favored Environment (underwater), Great Endurance, Improved Initiative, Languages (English, [Scots Gaelic is native].)

Skills:
Close Combat: Unarmed 2 (+8), Insight 4 (+7), Perception 6 (+9), Persuasion 8 (+10), Ranged Combat: Water Control 6 (+9).

Offense:
Initiative +9
Unarmed +8 (Close Damage 8)
Water Blast +9 (Ranged Damage 9)
Water Snare +9 (Ranged Affliction 9, Resisted by Dodge)

Defense:
Dodge 9, Parry 7, Fortitude 10, Toughness 9, Will 6

Totals:
Abilities 74 + Powers 49 + Advantages 7 + Skills 13 + Defenses 9 = 152 points

Complications:
Acceptance--Motivation. Friends
(Adams family of Maine.) Shyness. Weakness (lack of regular exposure to water.)
 

Davies

Explorer
Diane Fortune


According to the official biography she provided to the U.S. State Department during her naturalization procedures, facilitated by her membership in the Institute, Diane Fortune was born in Salisbury at the end of September, 1946, nine months after the death of her so-called previous incarnation. More than one question was raised about this, as these interviews took place in 1964 and she seemed somewhat older than seventeen or eighteen years of age. However, as she had already helped to save the United States from several disasters, these questions were overlooked at the time.

Three decades later, Richard Lawson would conduct his own investigations into the matter, and discovered much of the true story. Margaret Lambkin was born in 1941 to a respectable middle-class family in Glastonbury; her father was a shop-keeper and her mother a housewife. A precocious child, she discovered Dion Fortune's writings in her early adolescence, and became enchanted with them, striving to develop mystical abilities as a result. Her parents discouraged this, and so she ran away from home in 1957.

Among the things that Lawson did not discover was that Margaret soon formed a partnership with another runaway, Benjamin Herschlag, and accompanied him across the Atlantic. Their partnership did not long survive their arrival in the United States, as she was intent on pursuing her own dreams and had no interest in 'Johnny Master's" criminal ambitions. Margaret began calling herself Diane Fortune in 1960, not long after she took up with one Nicholas Ashe, who facilitated her access to his family's archives.

In 1962, Diane gave birth to her only offspring, listing Nicholas as the father. Lawson was not able to discover what had become of the child, largely because the House of Ashe blocked all of his inquiries. Uninterested in motherhood, Diane allowed Nicholas' family to take charge of their descendant, despite the fact that Nicholas was estranged from them. This marked the end of any friendly or intimate relationship between the two of them, and also the beginning of Nicholas' career as Diavolus, Diane's most recurrent foe.

Indeed, Diane largely joined the Institute in 1963 to take shelter among its membership from Diavolus' attempts at revenge, as well as those of other mystics whom she had offended or outraged in her pursuit of power. While a loyal member of the organization who provided its members with intelligence about the mystical community and support, her priority was very much on gaining as much magical knowledge for her own uses as possible. Her stated goal in doing so was to use that wisdom to make the Age of Aquarius a utopian one, but how much of that was self-justification is hard to say.

Shortly after Diane accepted the petition of another young mystic to become her apprentice, she was caught up in the Battle of Vietnam. She chose to avoid the frontlines, instead using her astral projection as a means of reconnaissance, passing intelligence through her apprentice to those who needed it. When Stardust finally retreated, she was observing in astral form and let out a sigh ... that turned to a choke as she realized that her physical body was being smothered. Unable to return to it in time, Diane Fortune joined the ranks of the fallen, and her apprentice, later to be known as Gertrude Gallowglass, stole off with all her collected arcane lore.

Diane's child, later known as Jodie Crowley, has no notion of their mother's identity, and would not care if they did know.

Diane Fortune -- PL 8

Abilities:
STR
0 | STA 0 | AGL 1 | DEX 3 | FGT 2 | INT 2 | AWE 4 | PRE 4

Powers:
Mystic Awareness:
Senses 3 (analytical radius mystic awareness) - 3 points
Mystical Talents: Array (24 points)
  • Astral Projection: Remote Viewing 8 (Auditory, Visual), Quirk (physical body is helpless), Subtle - 24 points
  • Ghost Hands: Perception Range Move Object 7, Precise, Subtle 2 - 1 point
  • Maddening Blast: Ranged Damage 8, Resisted by Will - 1 point
  • Phantasms: Illusion 4 (All Senses), Area, Selective, Resisted by Will - 1 point
  • Suggestion: Hearing-Dependent Perception Range Cumulative Affliction 8 (Dazed, Compelled, Controlled) - 1 point
Shielded Mind: Impervious Will 8, Limited to Mental Effects - 4 points

Advantages:
Attractive, Defensive Roll 2, Languages 3, Ritualist, Trance.

Skills:
Deception 6 (+10), Expertise: History 6 (+8), Expertise: Magic 6 (+10), Insight 6 (+10), Intimidation 4 (+8), Investigation 5 (+7), Perception 5 (+9), Ranged Combat: Magic 5 (+8), Sleight of Hand 3 (+6), Stealth 6 (+7).

Offense:
Initiative +1
Unarmed +2 (Close Damage 0)
Maddening Blast +8 (Ranged Damage 8, Resisted by Will)
Suggestion -- (Perception Range Will 8)

Defense:
Dodge 7, Parry 5, Fortitude 3, Toughness 5/0, Will 10

Totals:
Abilities 32 + Powers 35 + Advantages 8 + Skills 26 + Defenses 18 = 119 points

Complications:
Discovery--Motivation. Enemy
(Diavolus.) Mystical and Enigmatic. Secret (true origins.)
 

Davies

Explorer
Antaeus


Born in Greece in 1938, Demetrius Panagakos' name was Anglicized to Steve when he and his family fled their homeland and came to the United States as refugees. Settling in upstate New York, Steve led a fairly normal life, which included a football scholarship at the University of Michigan thanks to his strong build and aptitude from the sport. However, although he gave the team his best effort, football was not his passion. That was given to his scientific studies, particularly geology, which had fascinated him for his entire life.

After completing his Bachelor's Degree, Steve continued to pursue post-graduate studies in the Earth Sciences. While conducting a solitary research study in southwestern Montana, he chanced to discover an undocumented cave system. Normally, he would have simply noted the cave's existence and possibly returned later with a group of spelunkers, but for some reason he felt compelled to examine the caves personally. Before he had gotten very far, the cave entrance collapsed, leaving him buried alive.

Something surged within him, then, and he tore his way out of the collapsed chamber with main strength. In the light of day, he realized that he had been transformed into a being of solid rock, vastly powerful and nearly invulnerable. Steven would soon learn that three other people had, on that very same day, been transformed into bodies of air, fire, and water. Dubbing himself Antaeus, after the monster from Greek mythology who drew strength from the Earth, Steve promptly volunteered to join the Institute and used the team's resources to persuade the other three to join as well.

Despite having taken this initiative, Steve was startled to find himself installed as the leader of what became known as the Primal Pattern, as he believed that he lacked the sort of charisma or tactical brilliance that were the hallmarks of leadership that he'd. But his steadiness and stability, learned from the quarterbacks that he'd known, proved to be very helpful in keeping his teammates on task, and his intellect, while not spectacular by the standards of Hyperbrains, was also a factor in his selection. He was actually elected as the Institute's Chairman in 1966, but only served a single two-year term.

As with all the members of the Primal Pattern, Antaeus met his end in the Battle of Vietnam, with Stardust employing the various elemental powers of the sub-team against them. Drowned in water and battered with wind, Antaeus' body was reduced to a muddy mess, one of the first members of the group to succumb. He had arranged for his remains to be donated to science in hopes that some method of restoring other individuals who suffered permanent physical transformations could be discovered, ideally benefiting his teammates. As far as is known, no discoveries of this nature were ever made prior to the introduction of power nullification technology in the last decade.

Anateus -- PL 10

Abilities:
STR
10/2 | STA 4 | AGL 2 | DEX 1 | FGT 4 | INT 3 | AWE 2 | PRE 0

Powers:
Strength Tricks:
Array (10 points), Based on Strength Damage
  • Groundstrike: Burst Area Affliction 10 (Resisted by Fortitude, Overcome by Dodge; Dazed and Vulnerable, Stunned and Prone), Extra Condition, Limited Degrees, Limited, targets and attacker must both be in contact with the ground - 1 point
  • Shockwave: Burst Area Damage 10, Limited, targets and attacker must both be in contact with the ground - 1 point
Transformed Form: Reaction Damage 8 (being struck in melee), Limited to lesser of attack's Damage rank or power's Damage rank; Enhanced Strength 8; Immunity 10 (life support); Impervious Protection 8; Regeneration 10, Source (contact with natural earth) - 71 points

Advantages:
Interpose, Leadership, Move-by Attack, Power Attack.

Skills:
Close Combat: Unarmed 4 (+8), Expertise: Science 6 (+9), Insight 6 (+8), Intimidation 6 (+6), Investigation 4 (+7), Perception 6 (+8), Technology 4 (+7).

Offense:
Initiative +2
Unarmed +8 (Close Damage 10)

Defense:
Dodge 6, Parry 8, Fortitude 9, Toughness 12, Will 7.

Totals:
Abilities 36 + Powers 73 + Advantages 4 + Skills 18 + Defenses 18 = 149 points

Complications:
Responsibility--Motivation. Inhuman Appearance. Very Heavy. Weakness
(when separated from the earth by air or water.)
 

Davies

Explorer
Phoenix


Born in 1936, Sam Farrell sought and found employment as a firefighter with the Chicago Fire Department in 1956. He was good at his job, and well-respected by his colleagues for his level headed approach to the tasks of preventing the spread of fire and rescuing its victims. By 1962, he'd risen to the rank of Lieutenant, and was expected to one day fill the role of Battalion Chief or even District Chief. And then his destiny was changed, and not really for the better.

Just what started the fire in the warehouse in Chicago's Fulton River District was something of a mystery. Faulty wiring was blamed, as the warehouse's owner had received a warning on the subject in the past. But in the aftermath, the owner produced evidence that he'd made the required repairs, and was as mystified about the fire as anyone else. Sam would later claim that right before the roof collapsed on him, he'd glimpsed a crate with a weird marking on the side of it, which diagram was beyond his abilities to reproduce.

When he regained consciousness, the fire had been extinguished -- but the other firefighters panicked at the site of Sam moving around. He soon realized that he'd somehow been transformed into a humanoid body of fire, able to make his human features appear on its head with difficulty, but unable to touch anything without exposing it to his flames. He was also, mysteriously, lighter than air and able to fly, which he did to escape the attempts of his former comrades to extinguish him.

A few days later, having hidden out on Northerly Island, Sam was sought out by Antaeus, another recently transformed being, who explained the two of them and two other individuals had all been transformed into representations of the classical elements at roughly the same time. He convinced Sam that there had to be some purpose behind this, and that they should use their powers in the service of humanity as members of the Institute. Sam promptly agreed to this notion, and took the name Phoenix.

It soon became clear that the transformation that Phoenix had undergone had changed his personality as well as his physical form. Gone was the calm and level-headed rescue worker; he had become an impulsive and quick-tempered combatant, frequently sniping at his fellow members of the Primal Pattern. He was probably the most individually powerful member of the team, and never let anyone forget this. It was also noted that he'd completely cut all ties with the friends and family of his previous life, acting as though he'd literally died and been reborn as a Phoenix. However, he still clearly remembered being a firefighter, and frequently advised his colleagues on the best way to handle such situations.

In the end, he died in the Battle of Vietnam, with Stardust employing water to extinguish his flames and earth to smother them entirely. Little remained of his body but ashes, which were subsequently taken into care by the same scientists who claimed the remains of Antaeus. If they learned anything from them, nothing was ever published.

Phoenix - PL 9

Abilities:
STR
--/2 | STA 3 | AGL 2 | DEX 2 | FGT 4 | INT 1 | AWE 2 | PRE 3

Powers:
Fire Control:
Array (24 points)
  • Fire Blast: Ranged Damage 12 - 24 points
  • Fire Burst: Burst Area 2 Damage 8 - 1 point
  • Flame Flash: Ranged Burst Area Cumulative Affliction 8 (Resisted and Overcome by Fortitude; Visually Impaired, Visually Disabled, Visually Unaware), Limited to One Sense - 1 point
  • Open Flame: Environment 6 (Extreme Heat, Bright Light) - 1 point
Transformed Form: Reaction Damage 4 (touching or touched); Flight 6 (120 MPH); Immunity 15 (fire damage, life support); Permanent Insubstantial 3 - 58 points

Advantages:
Accurate Attack, Agile Feint, All-out Attack, Evasion, Extraordinary Effort, Great Endurance, Improved Initiative.

Skills:
Acrobatics 7 (+9), Close Combat: Unarmed 6 (+10), Expertise: Firefighter 6 (+7), Intimidation 5 (+8), Perception 6 (+6), Ranged Combat: Fire Control 4 (+6).

Offense:
Initiative +6
Unarmed +10 (Close Damage -- plus Reaction Damage 4)
Fire Blast +6 (Ranged Damage 12)

Defense:
Dodge 8, Parry 9, Fortitude 6, Toughness 3, Will 7

Totals:
Abilities 38 + Powers 85 + Advantages 7 + Skills 17 + Defenses 19 = 166 points

Complications:
Thrills--Motivation. Hot-Headed
(well duh.) Inhuman Appearance. Vulnerability (anything that extinguishes flame also does damage.)
 

Davies

Explorer
Aeolia


The year 1956 was not just the year that the first age of heroes began; many other things happened that year as well. For Corey Murphy, growing up in Queens, the most important event of that year was the first airing of The Wizard of Oz on television. She'd seen the movie before, sort of, having been taken to the 1949 theatrical re-release when she was five, but she'd fallen asleep partway through and missed the ending. That wasn't a problem this time.

Someone else might have been fascinated by the many colorful characters to be seen in the film, but one thing, more than any other, captured Corey's attention. That was the balloon that the Wizard used to leave Oz. She'd seen drawings of balloons in books, but this was something different, something real. And it was something she wanted to do, now more than anything. And as it so happened, 1956 was also the year that Ed Yost founded Raven Industries, which would create the modern hot-air balloon.

After high school graduation, Corey managed to finagle herself a secretarial job in Raven's South Dakota headquarters, and from there wound up as an occasional back-up test pilot. In 1962, while on a routine flight, Corey suffered an inexplicable blackout at 13,000 feet, and the balloon continued to ascend. By the time that she regained consciousness, the balloon had reached an altitude of 102,000 feet, and after a brief moment in which she was bewildered by the fact that she could breathe unassisted at that altitude, the heating mechanism failed and the balloon dropped like a stone.

Corey herself, however, did not. She had been transformed into a gaseous being, though her initial belief (which never fully left her) was that she'd died and become a ghost. While haunting the offices of Raven Industries, she was contacted by Antaeus, who convinced her of a somewhat more scientific explanation for her condition, and coaxed her into joining the Primal Pattern and the Institute. Her role in the group's operations was that of a scout, primarily, though she was able to use her command of the wind as a potent weapon.

Like all her teammates, Aeolia was killed in the Battle of Vietnam, with Stardust using fires comparable to Phoenix's to ionize the atoms of her gaseous form, a transformation that apparently destroyed her consciousness. However, literally nothing remained of her person in the end ... and some have suggested that this meant that she was not, in fact, actually dead. She was never seen again, though some of the survivors reported feeling a gentle breeze during the memorial service for the other victims of the conflict. It was probably just the wind, though.

Aeolia - PL 9

Abilities:
STR
--/1 | STA 2 | AGL 4 | DEX 2 | FGT 4 | INT 0 | AWE 3 | PRE 1

Powers:
Transformed Form:
Visual Concealment 4, Partial; Enhanced Defenses 12 (Dodge 6, Parry 6); Flight 7 (250 MPH); Immunity 10 (life support); Permanent Insubstantial 2 - 56 points
Wind Control: Array (24 points)
  • Lifting Winds: Move Object 12 - 24 points
  • Shearing Winds: Damaging Move Object 8 - 1 point

Advantages:
Accurate Attack, Defensive Roll, Evasion, Improved Initiative

Skills:
Deception 6 (+7), Technology 4 (+4), Ranged Combat: Wind Control 4 (+6), Investigation 5 (+5), Perception 4 (+7), Stealth 5 (+9), Vehicles 6 (+8)

Offense:
Initiative +8
Shearing Wind +6 (Ranged Damage 8)

Defense:
Dodge 14/8, Parry 12/6, Fortitude 5, Toughness 4/2, Will 7

Totals:
Abilities 34 + Powers 81 + Advantages 4 + Skills 17 + Defenses 13 = 149 points

Complications:
Acceptance--Motivation. Gloomy and Morose. Inhuman Appearance. Vulnerability
(temperature-based attacks).
 

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