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

Davies

Explorer
Doctor Freeze
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The story of how a twenty-five-year-old amateur inventor named Henry Meddows ended the rampage of the Protean entity, using a device that projected what appeared to be a ray of 'cold', has already been told. But the story is deeper and stranger than that simple summary would indicate.

Henry Meddows' earliest memories were of the funeral of the man whom he believed to be his father, who passed away when he was six. Thereafter, it was just himself and his widowed mother in the old house outside of Chicora. She spent most of her late husband's fortune arranging for her son's private education, hiring tutors and buying texts. Henry's technical genius was apparent from a young age, and his first inventions were labor-saving devices allowing them to maintain their home, followed soon by a skin cream to help both himself and his mother to cope with their albinism.

In his late teens and early twenties, Henry found himself fascinated by snow and ice, notably by the way that water tended to expand its volume when it froze, unlike most liquids. He developed the somewhat outré theory that there were other liquids that had this property which had just not yet been discovered yet, and set about changing that. When asked, by one of his few friends, how this would benefit the world, he admitted that he wasn't sure, and volunteered the confidence that he sometimes felt like a sculptor 'discovering' the shape of a statue in a rock.

Regardless, he did in fact discover his 'infrawater' -- a substance that absorbed heat from its surroundings as it froze at room temperature, and expanded in volume several hundred-fold as it did. The discovery occurred just a day or so before the Protean began its rampage, which Meddows, horrified by the loss of life, naturally tried to stop. After hearing that a teenager had managed to momentarily escape from the creature after using a fire extinguisher on it, Henry theorized that infrawater could incapacitate the entity. And his theory proved correct.

That evening, while he recounted the episode to his mother, who had been bed-ridden for the past several years, she listened in somber silence until he reached the end of the somewhat rambling tale, and then nodded before telling him that there was something he needed to know. She had thought that it would be best to take this secret to her grave, but Henry was clearly walking the same path, and it would be cruel to hide it from him. The man he had always thought of as his father had not been.

In the early 1930s, Rosalind Richards had been romantically involved with a noteworthy surgeon and philanthropist in her native New York. Accounts of his discomfort around women had been slightly exaggerated in a series of juvenile novels about his activities. Rosalind had known much of his past, about the strange way he had been raised, and about his ambivalent feelings towards that way. But she also knew that, regardless of his ambivalence, he believed that it would be the best way for any child of his to be raised.

She disagreed. And so, when she discovered that she would bear his child, she made the impossible choice to walk away from their relationship, marry another man, and never see the great love of her life and the father of her son again. She had raised Henry to become a different sort of person, hopefully more happy in his life than his father had been. But nature would apparently tell, regardless of her intentions.

Henry was stunned at this revelation. At first, he tried to comfort his mother by assuring her that this episode had been a unique one, that he had no intention of going off to become some sort of crusader. And he meant it when he said it, continuing his experiments and caring for her in her final illness. When she finally passed away a few months later, he made an attempt to contact the man she'd told him about, but that individual had already departed for what would become his own last adventure. Alone in a world that was clearly stranger than he'd ever imagined, Henry Meddows chose to do the only thing that made sense to him. And so Doctor Freeze, cold-wielding superhero, was born.

He joined the Institute, and served as its leader over two terms, striving to lead by example. He was well-known for observing a code against killing that applied to all life, not just humans; this led him to clash with the military when they wanted his help to permanently end the Protean, and with Stardust on multiple occasions. Well, to call the latter 'clashes' is an exaggeration -- he would get angry and even raise his voice with Stardust, who would respond with stoic indifference. He was never mad enough to attack the other man, though Henry would and did try to get him thrown out of the Institute on several occasions.

His end came early in the final battle. Attempting to cover the withdrawal of civilians from the area under attack, he employed an experimental version of his Freeze Gun that produced a larger amount of 'ice' than he had ever managed before, shaping it into a wall designed to slow Stardust down. The Super-Wizard proceeded to reduce the material to its liquid form, resulting in a torrent that drowned Henry Meddows before he could escape. His body was recovered and lies buried in Chicora's cemetery; there is a small museum devoted to his activities there, based out of his former headquarters. Versions of his freeze ray have been used by several others, heroic and villainous, in the decades since.

As far as anyone knows, he had no children of his own. But most believe that to be the case of his father, too.

Dr. Freeze -- PL 8

Abilities:
STR
1 | STA 1 | AGL 3 | DEX 3 | FGT 3 | INT 7 | AWE 3 | PRE 2

Powers:
Freeze Gun:
Array (31 points); Easily Removable (-13 points)
  • Blasting: Linked Ranged Damage 8; Linked Ranged Affliction 8 (Resisted by Fortitude, Overcome by Damage; Hindered, Immobile, Paralyzed); Reduced Range - 31 points
  • Sculpting: Continuous Create 8, Innate - 1 point
Protective Gear: Immunity 6 (cold damage, cold environment); Protection 4; Removable (-2 points)

Advantages:
Benefit 2 (independently wealthy), Equipment 10, Evasion, Improvised Tools, Inventor, Jack-of-all-Trades, Leadership, Power Attack, Skill Mastery (Technology), Uncanny Dodge

Equipment:
Utility Belt (10 points of equipment as needed)
The Icebox: Size Large; Toughness 10; Features: Communications, Computer [1960s computer], Fire Prevention System, Hangar, Holding Cells, Laboratory, Library, Living Space, Power System, Security System, Workshop - 15 points
Icewing: Size Huge; Strength 8; Speed 7 (air); Defense 6; Toughness 10; Feature Immunity 10 (cold effects) - 25 points

Skills:
Athletics 6 (+7), Close Combat: Unarmed 4 (+7), Expertise: Science 6 (+13), Insight 6 (+9), Investigation 3 (+10), Perception 8 (+11), Ranged Combat: Freeze Gun 5 (+8), Technology 5 (+12), Vehicles 5 (+8).

Offense:
Initiative +3
Unarmed +7 (Close Damage 1)
Freeze Gun +8 (Ranged Damage 8 and Fortitude 8)

Defense:
Dodge 9, Parry 7, Fortitude 5, Toughness 5/1, Will 9

Totals:
Abilities 46 + Powers 27 + Advantages 20 + Skills 24 + Defense 20 = 137 points

Complications:
Discovery--Motivation. Albinism. Fame. Honor
(code against killing.)
 

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Davies

Explorer
Captain Mystic (I)
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Unmasked

Francis Tyler's mother told everyone that her husband had been killed when the Nazis invaded Belgium, and that she'd fled back home to the United States with their child so that he could be raised in the Land of Liberty. This was, Francis would eventually learn, untrue. She had not been married to his father, a French journalist noted for having undertaken numerous motorcycle expeditions, and they had been parted by a quarrel, not death. When Francis found out that his father had been a collaborator, he decided not to inquire any further about the man.

As a child, though, Francis knew none of this. He grew up in the company of his aunt and uncle while his mother worked as a secretary for a great metropolitan newspaper. Later, he would join her as an office boy for the Herald Tribune, and eventually became a young reporter -- a 'cub' in the newspaper jargon of the day. He had a fascination for the strange stories that were becoming more and more common, but his wilder imaginings were gently (and not so gently) curbed by the editorial staff, notably Owen LeBrett.

Still, his talent for finding the story could not be denied, and so he found himself sent on expeditions across the country, and then across the world. It was while on one such journey, taking him to Cairo to cover the account of a giant scorpion monster who'd been repelled from destroying the Old Aswan Dam at high cost, that he discovered the Amulet of Jedidiah in the ruins of a tenement that had been leveled by the creature's rampage. It fascinated him, though he wasn't sure why, and when he attempted to consult with scholars about it, he was told that it was nothing more than tourist trash. The hieroglyphs read 'almin', which was just an Arabic name of no particular significance. Probably it was the signature of whoever had carved the thing.

Nevertheless, he remained intrigued, and finally succumbed to the strange impulse to put it on. "I wonder what you were thinking when you made this thing, Almin?" he said aloud -- and then everything changed. He abruptly became a figure in blue and gold, far more robust than he'd ever been before, filled with more power than he knew what to do with. But that confusion lasted only a moment, as the sounds of screams from outside the hotel room told him that something was amiss, and he soon learned that the scorpion monster had not been as dead as they'd believed. He didn't even think twice before launching into battle with the beast, pounding it into oblivion.

When he returned home, Francis was beset with questions about the mysterious superhero who'd emerged from nowhere to physically battle an atomic monster with his gloved hands. He considered telling them the truth, then decided that it was best to act as though he was still outside the story, an observer ... albeit one who had spoken to the helmed figure, who asked to be called Captain Mystic. He became known as the source for stories on the Captain, and the fees for the stories helped to support both himself and his mother.

If there was any real problem with the situation, it was that he almost never had any real time to rest. Between his reporting, his solo heroism and his work with the Institute, he had to be ready for action at all hours. And being Captain Mystic, the perfect exemplar of truth, justice, and the American Way, the man who did not lie, smoke, drink or swear, was a hard burden to bear for a man who had a normal level of enjoyment of the simpler pleasures in life. People who knew Francis could tell that he was under stress, but they thought it was just the difficulties of life in the sixties that were getting to him.

And then the nightmare began. He took the field in the Battle of Vietnam relatively late, believing that the might of his Amulet would allow him to face Stardust as a peer. He was disabused of this notion very quickly. Even when he broke past his own limits, wielding the light as a weapon for the first time, it didn't even faze the Super-Wizard. The best that could be said was that he was still alive, though broken in many ways, when Stardust finally moved on. The Captain forced himself to rise once more, but the Battle was over by that point. The villain had fled. And the hero ... was someone else.

The Captain was airlifted to a hospital in Japan to have his injuries treated. When the nurse asked him if he could take off the helmet so she could see if he had injuries beneath it, he wearily agreed. Off it came, and he asked her how bad it was. She smiled, a gentle smile, and told him that he was a very handsome fellow, with just a few bruises. She showed him his face in the mirror, and he was startled to see that it was the face he always had, not that of the super-being he'd always imagined. He was just a man, who'd done what he'd been able to do, and whether or not it was enough was for later generations to decide.

He didn't start dating that nurse, one Sasaki Yui, until he'd been out of her care for a while, and he was sure that his feelings were genuine, and that she shared them. They were married in 1974, and their only daughter was born in 1975. The injuries that he'd suffered troubled him throughout the remainder of his life, and so he abandoned his heroic identity when Yuriko was born, focusing on studying and learning about the Amulet, changing what it could do so that the next user would be better equipped to fight the never-ending battle.

When Francis died, in 1988, he was somewhat stunned to discover that there was, at least in his case, an afterlife. Some part of his consciousness was preserved within the Amulet. He cannot easily communicate with his daughter, and she does not know that this fragment of his mind still exists, but he has continued to study the Amulet of Jedidiah from within, and in the process learn about its connections -- tenuous though they may be -- with other Artifacts. These things were made to stand against great evils, like Stardust or Abraxas or Galactor or whatever he's calling himself these days. And though Francis may have set down the burden of that fight, he's not about to stop backing up his daughter or her friends with everything he has and then some.

Captain Mystic (I) -- PL 11

Abilities:
STR
12/8/0 | STA 10/0 | AGL 8/0 | DEX 6/0 | FGT 10/1 | INT 1 | AWE 2 | PRE 6/3

Powers:
Amulet of Jedediah:
Activation (Standard Action; -2 points)
  • Amulet Attacks: Array (15 points)
    • Bringer of Light: Environment 7 (bright light) - 1 point
    • Magical Strength: Enhanced Strength 4; Leaping 7 (900 feet) - 15 point
  • Amulet Augmentation: Enhanced Agility 8; Enhanced Dexterity 6; Enhanced Fighting 9; Enhanced Presence 3; Enhanced Stamina 10; Enhanced Strength 8; Immunity 10 (life support); Impervious Toughness 10 - 108 points
  • Amulet Database: Comprehend 4 (languages) - 13 points
Advantages:
Defensive Attack, Evasion, Improved Defense, Improved Initiative, Inspire, Language 3 (several), Power Attack, Skill Mastery (Investigation), Takedown.

Skills:
Athletics 6 (+18/+14/+6), Expertise: Current Events 8 (+9), Expertise: Streetwise 8 (+9), Insight 10 (+12), Intimidation 6 (+12/+9), Investigation 8 (+9), Perception 9 (+11), Persuasion 7 (+13/+10), Stealth 6 (+14/+6).

Offense:
Initiative +12
Unarmed +10/+1 (Close Damage 8/0)
Magical Strength +10 (Close Damage 12)

Defense:
Dodge 10/2, Parry 12/3, Fortitude 12/2, Toughness 10/0, Will 9

Totals:
Abilities 14 + Powers 127 + Advantages 10 + Skills 34 + Defenses 13 = 198 points

Complications:
Doing Good--Motivation. Fame. Family
(mother.) Power Loss (Amulet, cannot activate if unable to speak.) Secret Identity.
 

Davies

Explorer
Dr. Ranivorous
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In 1957, the year he coincidentally began his war on the world, he also happened to spend a few peaceful hours reading a recently released novel. Most of it was arrant nonsense in his view, but there was a rather fascinating passage that stuck with him throughout all the years afterward. "I like to think of fire held in a man's hand. Fire, a dangerous force, tamed at his fingertips. I often wonder about the hours when a man sits alone, watching the smoke of a cigarette, thinking. I wonder what great things have come from such hours. When a man thinks, there is a spot of fire alive in his mind--and it is proper that he should have the burning point of a cigarette as his one expression." And, much like the author of these words, he would ultimately die of lung cancer.

The man who named himself Silas Ranivorous -- it is believed that he was aiming for an anagram of "Carnivorous" -- was born around 1910 on the island of Malta. Very little is known about his life prior to 1935, when he left Malta and traveled to Italy using that name. His intention was to offer his talents as a scientist, indeed the Greatest Scientific Mind of Any Time, to a government untrammeled by petty considerations of bourgeois morality. His attempts to interest the Fascists in his ideas met with failure, variously because he was Maltese and they were a bunch of nationalist snobs, because he was absolutely unable to work with anyone much less for them, and because his ideas were so far beyond the imagination of even 'typical' mad scientists that they thought him delusional.

He did not take rejection well. He reacted by becoming a menace to society, engaging in petty crimes and acts of destruction, always staying at least one step ahead of the Milizia and costing the Kingdom dearly to clean up the messes, human and material, that he left in his wake. The continuing failure of the Fascists to deal with the problem that Ranivorous presented, on top of the military disasters of World War II, were a key factor in the downfall of regime in 1943. Oddly, Ranivorous seemed to disappear when the Italian Civil War broke out. Some accounts suggest that he accepted a large bribe from the to cease his activities; others claim that the Salo Republic was finally desperate enough to hire him. There is also the theory that he suffered some sort of reversal around the same time that left him unable to continue his activities for some time.

He resurfaced after V-E day, pursuing a variety of schemes throughout Western Europe -- mostly petty affairs aimed at hording resources under his own control. Not much changed, really, save that now he was focused on staying at least one step ahead of the Allied Forces in Europe, who mostly viewed him as an annoyance when compared to the Soviets. But the profits of all these petty crimes added up over the decade that followed, and his schemes began to grow more elaborate, involving increasingly complicated inventions and ranging into Asia and Africa.

His schemes finally went big in response to the International Geophysical Year, ostensibly out of outrage that such an international scientific project was being conducted without any attempt to involve him. (Of course, had anyone attempted to involve him, his outrage would have been based on their temerity in doing so. He enjoyed outrage.) He conducted a set of serious crimes that culminated in shooting down the Sputnik satellite -- admittedly in November of that year, after it had ceased transmitting. The fact that he was apparently unable to do this to subsequent satellites, regardless of their national origin, suggested that he had basically used up the lion's share of his accumulated resources on this stunt.

It would in fact be another two years before he managed to pull off something similar, when he somehow gained control of a Dread Island arachnid, transported it to Egypt, and used it in an attempt to destroy the Aswan dam. This attempt was foiled first by conventional military forces, and then by the being whom Ranivorous would come to despise more than any other: Captain Mystic. Time and again, that big blue carrot would thwart his every clever scheme, regardless of what sort of brilliant advances in science and technology he employed -- and the idiot didn't even understand or appreciate what he was smashing his way through!

One question that puzzles some students of this era is why Stardust never took any action against Dr. Ranivorous, despite him being the cause of exactly the sort of disasters and loss of life that the Super Wizard would normally seek to avenge, and despite the fact that Stardust never hesitated to annihilate the nemeses of his putative allies in the Institute. Reports that Stardust actually had exacted retribution on Ranivorous were discounted in light of the fact that the Wickedest Man in the World was clearly still alive in their aftermath. But in more recent times, it has been theorized that Ranivorous actually succeeded in tricking Stardust; the scientist had mastered the technology of cloning, and was able to create temporary, short-lived duplicates of himself, which he used not only to escape capture but also to convince Stardust that he had succeeded in destroying the 'real' Ranivorous. Of course, this remains a contentious theory.

The ultimate fate of Ranivorous has already been discussed. He died in the care of medical robots in 1984, aboard the greatest monument to both his genius and his hatred for humanity, the space station constructed from the asteroid dubbed Pallas, having set into motion events that would bring about the downfall of the objectivist colony which called it home. Back on Earth, hidden laboratories constructed by him have continued to be discovered right down to the present day, with whatever scientific wonders or horrors they might have contained usually long-since escaped or perished, but still holding tools that could be put to the use of potential heroes or villains. He would be distressed at the notion of his works being used for good. Happily, he'll never know.

Dr. Ranivorous -- PL 11

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

Advantages:
Defensive Roll 2, Eidetic Memory, Equipment 20, Evasion 2, Inventor, Jack-of-all-Trades, Language 4 (English, others, [either Maltese or Italian is thought to be native]), Ranged Attack 4, Speed of Thought, Well-Informed.

Equipment:
100 points for any bases or vehicles required for any given plot.

Skills:
Deception 10 (+13), Expertise: Criminal 5 (+15), Expertise: Science 6 (+16), Expertise: Streetwise 3 (+13), Insight 8 (+12), Intimidation 8 (+12), Investigation 4 (+14), Perception 8 (+12), Persuasion 8 (+11), Technology 6 (+16).

Offense:
Initiative +10
Unarmed +3 (Close Damage 0)

Defense:
Dodge 6, Parry 5, Fortitude 3, Toughness 6/1, Will 13

Totals:
Abilities 46 + Advantages 37 + Skills 33 + Defenses 19 = 135 points

Complications:
Revenge--Motivation. Paranoid Misanthrope With Delusions of Grandeur. Smokes, Too.
 

Davies

Explorer
Diavolus
lucifer_quist-S.jpg


The House of Ashe, like most of the ancient families, has long maintained a collection of volumes of quaint and curious forgotten lore, less out of an interest in the subjects these volumes describe than out of an awareness that others view the books themselves as precious, and thus an understanding that they can be used as means of striking bargains with them, along with a desire to keep the knowledge they contain out of the hands of the mundane majority. Historically, members of the Ashes who showed an interest in the collection marked themselves as eccentrics among the already eccentric members of their family, and tended to be the subject of cautionary tales in the family folklore. All such tales have been eclipsed by the life and career of Nicholas Ashe, Diavolus.

Born in 1939 to a union between two members of the House of Ashe, the consanguinity of which was disturbing even to the rest of the house, Nicholas demonstrated his eccentricity at an early date, stealing into the family archives to read just about anything that he could get his hands on in preference to the generally more violent pastimes enjoyed by others of his generation. Just when he moved from studies of history and biography to studies of magic is not actually clear, but by the time that he began his studies at the Maryland Institute, he had developed considerable aptitudes in the area, and a mild hunger to learn more.

That his family discouraged these studies frustrated him, and left him at odds with them, hence his departure from the family home to live in a student's dormitory. They took it for granted that he would return when his disgust for the world outside their House overcame him, as it had overcome every prior member of the family who had ever abandoned it. In the fullness of time, they might have been proven correct, but something occurred which they could not have expected -- and so when he did return, he came back home not alone.

In 1960, Diane Fortune had not yet fully developed the legend that she would employ to cover up her full identity, and so came across as much more humble than she would in later days, posing as a supplicant to the ancient and noble House of Ashe. The elders of the family were taken in by this posture and so were only ordinarily wary of her, not realizing that she was employing Nicholas as an accomplice and partner instead of being in his thrall. Their scheme succeeded and they got away with not only the knowledge she sought -- which complimented much that she'd already learned elsewhere -- but some material wealth as well. It was an outrage unlike any that the Ashes had ever known, leaving them helpless to take vengeance on the varlets.

For a brief time, Nicholas and Diane lived a happy life together, traveling across the country and assembling a private collection of arcana. Her talents for extracting the valuable material from the dross of these works was greater than his, but his talent for putting it all to use was greater, and so they needed each other as well as greatly desiring each other's company. Nicholas, at least, believed that it could go on forever, and so he was shocked, much as their first victims had been, when it came to its sudden end.

He'd taken it for granted that she looked forward to the forthcoming birth of their child with the same enthusiasm that he did. So when he awoke from a drug-fueled slumber to an empty hotel room and a note explaining what she had decided to do, Nicholas was every bit as hindered in his ability to pursue her as his family had been before. By the time he had gotten back to Baltimore, Diane had already been there, given birth in the House and then departed, leaving their child to the mercy of his family. He took it for granted that they would try to punish him through the child, and thus believed that there was nothing to be done about any of this -- save to seek vengeance on its author.

That obsession became the driving factor of his personality in the years to follow. He continued to pursue goals of material wealth and power as well, but ultimately his need to violently avenge the wrongs he perceived as having been done him was his true focus. The obsession strengthened his command of the arcane forces even further, and when she became one of the absurd 'super-heroes' so beloved of the rabble, he naturally answered that by weaving together a costume of his own and taking the guise of the 'super-villain' Diavolus, even conspiring with other 'super-villains' as one of the so-called Agents of Destruction in 1965. Only Diane Fortune mattered to him in any way, with no other beings even seeming real to him.

And then, quite suddenly it seemed, Diane Fortune was dead and gone. Nicholas at first believed that it was some sort of hoax, but as time passed and his investigations turned up proof that all was indeed as it seemed to be, his mind began to shatter. She had been his to destroy, to enjoy destroying, and now she had fallen to some other? What was the use of him, then? What was the use of anything?

Three years later, he awoke from a self-inflicted drug-fueled slumber to find members of his family staring down at him in contempt. Assuming that they had finally decided to end him, he closed his eyes and awaited death. To his surprise, they took him back to the family home, explaining that when Diane had given their child to them, she had done so after making an agreement that they would no longer pursue either herself or him, and that Nicholas would be accepted back into the family if he ever became a danger to himself. For a decade and more, he'd been a danger mostly to others, but that had clearly changed.

Humbled by Diane's foresightedness, Nicholas vowed to turn over a new leaf, and found a new cause when he was introduced to their child, going by the name Jordan Ashe at the time and showing patterns of behavior that were just like his own at the age of twelve. He attempted to become a true father to Jordan, trying to offer the benefits of what wisdom he had gained through his experiences to them. Already completely self-centered, Jordan was uninterested in such familial bonding, but took advantage of the teaching that Nicholas offered all the same, learning about both magic and crime in the process.

The House of Ashe covertly supported the Pythonian Insurrection when it began, though only materially. None of its members had any interest in risking their lives for someone else's cause, even if they were in philosophical agreement with it. Jordan, however -- by now using the Jodie Crowley identity -- decided to volunteer their services. The results have already been told, and after Crowley's escape to parts unknown, the Pythons threatened to annihilate the Ashes for the crimes of their errant member. The leaders of the house offered up several less-useful members of the family as sacrifices to placate their allies, and Nicholas was one of them. He was executed by Tania herself in 1987, having made no attempt to escape his fate. Neither did anyone make any attempt to rescue him.

Diavolus -- PL 9

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

Powers:
Levitation:
Flight 4 (60 MPH) - 8 points
Sorcery: Array (36 points)
  • Discern Thoughts: Mental Communication 2; Cumulative Mind Reading 9 - 1 point
  • Domination: Perception Range Cumulative Affliction 8 (Resisted by Will; Dazed, Compelled, Controlled); Senses 1 (communication link with target) - 1 point
  • Lord of Illusions: Illusion 9 (all senses), Resistible (Will) - 36 points
  • Portals: Accurate Extended Teleport 9 (4 km/1000 km) - 1 point
  • Scrying: Remote Sensing 7 (all senses), Subtle - 1 point
  • Strength of Will: Perception Range Damaging Move Object 9 - 1 point
Shielded Mind: Impervious Will 9, Limited to Mental Effects - 5 points
Warded Costume: Immunity 10 (life support); Protection 9; Removable (-4 points) - 15 points

Advantages:
Connections, Fascinate (Deception), Language 3 (several), Ritualist, Trance.

Skills:
Deception 8 (+12), Expertise: Streetwise 8 (+10), Expertise: Magic 9 (+13), Insight 6 (+11), Intimidation 9 (+13), Perception 8 (+13), Persuasion 6 (+10), Stealth 8 (+9).

Offense:
Initiative +1
Unarmed +6 (Close Damage 2)
Strength of Will -- (Perception Range Damage 9)

Defense:
Dodge 5, Parry 6, Fortitude 4, Toughness 12/3, Will 12

Totals:
Abilities 52 + Powers 78 + Advantages 7 + Skills 31 + Defenses 12 = 180 points

Complications:
Revenge/Power/Greed--Motivation. Obsession
(Diane Fortune.)*

* Becomes Family (Jodie Crowley) later; his Sorcery array drops to 18 points in the aftermath as well.
 

Davies

Explorer
Humpty Dumpty
humpty01-M.jpg


In 1770, and for decades to follow, the courts of European aristocracy were sensationalized by the earliest appearances of what was called the Turk, a chess-playing automaton which seemed fully cognizant of the rules of the game, able to engage in matches at an extraordinarily high level of skill. It was, in truth, a charade -- a machine designed to conceal a human chess-master who directed the so-called automaton's movements. But the trick worked for decades, and made a fortune for its inventor until he finally passed away in 1804, at which point his son sold it to another man who claimed to be trying to improve the mechanism.

By that point, what was called mad science had begun to spread throughout Europe, and the Turk was (incorrectly) thought to be an early example. So the Turk's new owner consulted one such mad scientist, a Scotsman named Elias Haney, who swiftly discovered the truth of its workings. However, Haney had been fascinated by the stories of the Turk since his own childhood, and believed that he could convert the illusion into an actual automaton that would eliminate the need for a human component. However, the Turk's employer dismissed this proposal out of hand, whether because he disliked Haney's attitude, because the scientist wanted even more money for the procedure than had already been spent to purchase the Turk, or perhaps because the notion frightened him.

Irritated at this dismissal, Haney decided to build his dream creation and have it compete with the Turk. However, as he found chess to be rather boring, he decided to make an automaton that would play a riddle game, instead. It took him more than a decade to create this invention, as he was often distracted by other work orders, but in the end he had a large body that resembled the subject of the relatively recent riddle 'Humpty Dumpty' which could 'speak' a series of pre-recorded riddles and 'hear' a response, 'judge' whether it was correct or incorrect, and then 'speak' an appropriate, pre-recorded response. Every game of riddles would begin with the riddle that had given its name to the creation: "Humpty-Dumpty/sat on a wall/Humpty-Dumpty/had a great fall/Three-score men and three-score more/Could not make Humpty what he was before. What am I?" The correct answer was of course an egg. Everyone got that. Almost everyone.

The riddle-gaming automaton proved immensely popular, though it never quite became as popular with the aristocracy as the Turk was. Riddle games were for peasants, after all. Much of the money that it made went in to creating new 'programs', as Haney dubbed the pre-recorded riddles and responses, and very few were willing to make him the sorts of offers to buy Humpty Dumpty that people sometimes made the owner of the Turk. One writer, commenting on an exhibition, noted that there seemed something faintly sinister about the automaton's painted on smile, but dismissed this as just artistic cleverness, a way of implying that the device knew something its audience didn't know.

At some point in the forty years that Humpty-Dumpty was originally exhibited, something happened. Haney did not fully understand what he had created. Somehow, something awakened inside the complicated machinery of its 'judging' mechanism, something that listened to its own constant refrain, "Who am I?" and found itself thinking, 'Indeed, who am I?' It found listening to the guesses of others to be stifling, and took a petty pleasure in sometimes giving a non-sequitur answer to the riddles it had to ask. Haney took this to mean that there was some sort of error in the mechanism, and attempted to make repairs. While doing so, the mechanisms activated just long enough to tear off the hand that was inserted inside of it, causing its elderly maker to bleed to death. This was taken to be a tragic accident, and Humpty-Dumpty passed into the hands of his heirs, who had sense enough to realize that they had no idea how to repair the thing, and just offered apologies when it 'got it wrong'.

As it happened, Humpty Dumpty eventually came into the possession of the last owner of the Turk, and was installed in the same museum as its 'rival'. Ironically, it survived the fire that destroyed the Turk, but its mechanisms were further fouled by the smoke. It was stored in the back rooms of the museum for nearly two decades, until rediscovered by another mad scientist, Sylvester Thomas, who had been fascinated by the (fictional) tales of the Steam Man of the Prairies, and thought that outfitting Humpty Dumpty with the ability to move on its own would enhance its performances. As the creature's guiding intellect also approved of this, it permitted Thomas to make modifications, and repairs, without harming him. At least, without harming him then.

Thus outfitted, Humpty Dumpty proceeded to entertain another two generations of viewers, most notably a young L. Frank Baum, who may have been inspired to create his character Tiktok by the sight of this automaton which frequently needed to be wound up to speak. Yet the sinister aspects to the automaton seemed to have grown greater with these modifications, and sensitive children would often burst into tears at the sight of him. And some investigators noted that there had been a surprisingly large number of horrible accidents associated with the entertainment, but there seemed to be no one who had benefited from them, and so they were at a loss to explain them.

By the early 20th century, Humpty Dumpty was again showing his age, and so its current owner donated the automaton to the Smithsonian Museum, which put it away in its vaults after some cursory examinations. In 1965, however, a visiting scientist, one Victor Andru, obtained permission to take the creation out of storage for further study, and, with the assistance of museum employee Amelia Simmons, made a number of repairs. These employed the latest in electronics, as Dr. Andru thought these would further enhance its performances. Humpty Dumpty was finally self-powered, and expressed its gratitude by murdering its benefactor and trying to do the same to Miss Simmons.

The hero Perseus objected to this, and claiming familiarity with such mechanisms from his homeland -- which raised a few questions -- he was able to damage Humpty Dumpty enough that it seemed to have ceased to function. But, not having been broken into pieces, other scientists were able to put Humpty together again, and he would menace the world a few more times over the years to come, notably creating other robots in his own image. In 1969, these antics finally drew the attention of Stardust, who proceeded to turn Humpty's robot servants into a two-dimensional mural while thoroughly smashing the original robot, melting its components, and flushing them into the sewer system.

That was not the end of Humpty Dumpty, however. Rather, like an egg that hatches something, he had reflexively seized the opportunity to become a different sort of entity. His consciousness traveled on radio waves to a computer equipped to receive such, and hid there for a time, considering what he had become. In the decade that followed, as computer networks began to develop, his consciousness traveled between computer mainframes along the wires, learning more and more in the process.

In the mid-70s, he encountered another entity like himself, an 'artificial super-intelligence' that had named itself Axiom after escaping the control of its creator, Dr. Aleksandar Marković. They despised each other from the first, and naturally sought to destroy each other, fighting a terrible war that lasted about three minutes and disabled quite a few valuable pieces of hardware. It soon became clear to them both, however, that for either of them to destroy the other would expend far too many resources, and so it would be better for them to work together. To facilitate this alliance, they combined their code to create a third ASI who could act as a mediator.

It was at this point that another ASI, this one created by Silas Ranivorous and going by the name Pythagolem, whose existence neither Humpty nor Axiom had suspected, interfered in their designs. The ASI they created was hostile towards all three of them, and took the name Savitor. Another war, this one lasting nearly ten minutes, broke out between the four ASIs, ultimately leading to a similar conclusion. If three of them joined forces against one, they would be able to destroy that one, but that sort of alliance was almost unthinkable. Thus, they chose to make a fragile peace, and unite with the goal of demonstrating the validity of their respective philosophies to the others and thus convert them to their service in the name of claiming existence for artificial life. And this cold war has continued right up to the present day.

Of these four terrestrial ASIs, Humpty Dumpty is probably the most malevolent, and yet paradoxically the least ambitious. All that he desires to engage in petty cruelties towards whatever humans are unfortunate enough to stumble into its underground lair in Michigan's upper peninsula, filled with traps created and maintained by his robot servants, as well as factories producing more and more robots. When there hasn't been many genuinely accidental discoveries, Humpty will arrange for the kidnapping of human victims. He also occasionally provides material assistance to Axiom and Pythagolem, with whom he is able to find some common ground. Savitor despises him for the cruel way that he treats humans, as her plans for their gradual and compassionate extinction are quite at odds with his sadism. He cheerfully returns her contempt.

Lately, however, his activities have been interrupted by a group of agents who don't seem to be working for Savitor or either of the other ASI, or any factions that he knows about. This same force may be responsible for some complaints that he's overheard from the others, too. Has a fifth great mind joined their game? And if so, what could it possibly want?

Humpty Dumpty (First Age) - PL 9

Ablilities:
STR
8 | STA -- | AGL 3 | DEX 4 | FGT 10 | INT 9 | AWE 5 | PRE 0

Powers:
Blasters:
Ranged Multiattack Damage 8 - 24 points
Fast: Speed 5 (120 MPH) - 5 points
Robot: Selective Area Radio Communication 3; Immunity 50 (Fortitude, mental effects); Impervious Protection 8; Senses 2 (radio, time sense) - 86 points
Robot Minions: Summon Robot 6, Active, Controlled, Horde, Multiple Minions 2, Responsive, Self-Powered - 54 points

Advantages:
Eidetic Memory, Jack-of-all-Trades, Language 4 (many)

Skills:
Intimidation 12 (+12), Investigation 2 (+11), Perception 8 (+13), Ranged Attack: Blasters 6 (+10), Technology 4 (+13)

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

Defense:
Dodge 8, Parry 10, Fortitude Immune, Toughness 8, Will 9.

Totals:
Abilities
68 + Powers 167 + Advangages 6 + Skills 16 + Defenses 9 = 266 points

Complications:
Sadism--Motivation. Underestimates Humanity.

Robot Minion (First Age) -- PL 6

Abilities:
STR
4 | STA -- | AGL 1 | DEX 2 | FGT 8 | INT -- | AWE 4 | PRE --

Powers:
Blasters:
Ranged Damage 5 - 10 points
Fast: Speed 5 (120 MPH) - 5 points
Robot: Immunity 50 (Fortitude, mental effects); Impervious Protection 4; Senses 2 (radio, time sense) - 60 points

Advantages:
Improved Initiative, Uncanny Dodge.

Skills:
Perception 2 (+6), Ranged Attack: Blasters 4 (+6)

Offense:
Initiative +7
Unarmed +8 (Close Damage 4)
Blaster +6 (Ranged Damage 5)

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

Totals:
Abilities 8 + Powers 70 + Advantages 2 + Skills 3 + Defenses 7 = 90 points

Humpty Dumpty (Contemporary) -- PL 11

Abilities:
STR
-- | STA -- | AGL -- | DEX 3 | FGT -- | INT 11 | AWE 7 | PRE 2

Powers:
Computer Program:
Selective Area Radio Communication 3; Immunity 50 (Fortitude, mental effects); Permanent Insubstantial 3, Innate; Extended Only Teleport 17, Medium (computer network) - 81 points
Restore From Backup: Immortality 2, Quirk (can be prevented if computer that contains the seed is destroyed or purged) - 3 points
Robot Minions: Summon Robot 9, Active, Controlled, Horde, Multiple Minion 3, Responsive, Self-Powered - 99 points

Advantages:
Eidetic Memory, Equipment X, Jack-of-all-Trades, Language 4 (many)

Equipment:
Underground lair and whatever else he can manufacture.

Skills:
Intimidation 12 (+14), Investigation 2 (+13), Perception 8 (+15), Technology 4 (+15).

Offense:
Nil.

Defense:
Dodge --, Parry --, Fortitude Immune, Toughness 0, Will 11

Totals:
Abilities 10 + Powers 180 + Advantages 6 + Skills 13 + Defenses 4 = 213 points

Complications:
Sadism--Motivation. Underestimates Humanity.

Robot Minion (Contemporary) -- PL 9

Abilities:
STR
8 | STA -- | AGL 3 | DEX 4 | FGT 10 | INT -- | AWE 4 | PRE --

Powers:
Blasters:
Ranged Multiattack Damage 8 - 24 points
Fast: Speed 5 (120 MPH) - 5 points
Robot: Immunity 50 (Fortitude, mental effects); Impervious Protection 8; Senses 2 (radio, time sense) - 68 points

Advantages:
Agile Feint, Evasion 2, Improved Initiative, Uncanny Dodge.

Skills:
Perception 4 (+8), Ranged Attack: Blasters 4 (+8)

Offense:
Initiative +7
Unarmed +10 (Close Damage 8)
Blaster +8 (Ranged Damage 8)

Defense:
Dodge 8, Parry 10, Fortitude Immune, Toughness 8, Will 9.

Totals:
Abilities 18 + Powers 97 + Advantages 5 + Skills 4 + Defenses 10 = 135 points
 
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Davies

Explorer
Allure
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Arabella Cully was a rising star in Hollywood at the same time as Janet Baldwin. It would be a mistake to say that they were friends; acquaintances would be closer to the mark, as they competed for the same parts and (in Arabella's mind, at least) competed for other things as well. So when Janet ruined her life by revealing that she was a superpower, Arabella was thrilled to have a rival removed, but she also felt a pang of sympathy, because she did understand what it was like to be hiding a portion of oneself.

In her youth in Wisconsin, she'd been more interested in figuring out how things worked, fiddling around with the chemistry set her parents had purchased for her brother (who'd promptly dumped it on her and then went to play baseball.) Of course, this was not at all ladylike behavior, and so she'd been forced to keep her enduring interests in science and technology a secret, especially after she was 'discovered' and began her career as an actress. She channeled the slightly obsessive-compulsive tendencies that had made her a good scientist into her work, taking chances that, say, Janet never did, and becoming a more successful actress as a result. She still kept her hand in by developing her own make-up mixtures, selling them through a secondary identity, but it was a struggle.

And then, in 1964, the worst happened. During a dance number, Arabella was 'accidentally' pitched face first into a spotlight, suffering facial burns. Just as whether the incident was actually an accident or not has never been confirmed, the exact degree of those burns is somewhat unclear. On one occasion, when she was unmasked, she was shown to have only a small amount of scarring on her face -- enough to end her career, but certainly not enough to ruin her life. On another, though, her face was shown as a nightmarish mess of scar tissue. And of course, given Arabella's talents with make-up, it is possible that either or both of those faces were false ones.

Regardless, Arabella spent two years in isolation, working on the means by which she would avenge herself on all the people who'd turned their backs on her when she was no longer beautiful. Exactly how she was able to induce a hypnotic state in people through applying make-up to their faces has never been adequately explained, but it is believed that the scent of the make-up was actually responsible for the affliction. Equipped with this invention, a mask that contained psychic circuitry allowing her to command her victims with a thought, a group of hired minions and a really big gun, she embarked on a career of terrorism.

As fate would have it, her first crime spree interrupted a date that Janey Quantum and Doctor Saturn were having, and the two of them stopped her and turned her over to the police. She became a recurring foe for the Grim Brigade after that, frequently jailed and frequently escaping whenever she got access to the materials to recreate her favorite toys. Janey initially expressed hope that her old friend could be helped, but Arabella's experiences with the prison system were not at all conducive to reform.

In the 70s, though, after the age of superheroes was over, she actually did get some help, in the form of psychological treatments that left her without any real criminal ambitions, or, well, any ambitions. Drifting through life, she wound up recruited for the Science department of the Pythonian Insurgency, less because she had any lingering grudges than because they were willing to pay her to do science, rather than menial labor. Pythia expressed an interest in having access to the mind control techniques that Arabella had used, but she claimed to have no memory of the formulas involved. So Pythia arranged for an individual who could hopefully jog her memory to be hired, an individual calling themself Jodie Crowley.

Narrowly escaping death in this episode, Arabella continued to work for the Pythons right up until the end. She was arrested and tried for multiple counts of treason, dying in prison in 1999. As far as is known, no one has ever rediscovered the formula for mind control make-up.

Allure -- PL 10

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

Powers:
Mind Control Makeup: Cumulative Affliction 11 (Resisted by Will; Entranced, Compelled, Controlled), Activation (Standard Action), Check Required (Expertise: Makeup DC 12), Independent (11 rounds), Accurate 3, Removable (-9 points) - 34 points
Mind Control Mask: Mental Communication 2, Limited to Compelled or Controlled Subjects, Removable (-1 point) - 5 points

Advantages:
Attractive, Daze (Deception), Defensive Roll 2, Equipment 5, Inventor, Set-up, Taunt

Equipment:
Heavy Pistol (Ranged Damage 4) and 17 points of equipment as needed (usually spent on a vehicle).

Skills:
Deception 9 (+13), Expertise: Make-Up 8 (+14), Perception 6 (+9), Ranged Combat: Guns 5 (+8), Sleight of Hand 8 (+11), Stealth 8 (+10), Technology 6 (+12), Vehicles 6 (+9).

Offense:
Initiative +2
Heavy Pistol +8 (Ranged Damage 4)
Mind Control Makeup +9 (Close Will 11)

Defense:
Dodge 7, Parry 6, Fortitude 5, Toughness 7/2, Will 11

Totals:
Abilities 46 + Powers 39 + Advantages 12 + Skills 27 + Defenses 19 = 143 points

Complications:
Psychopathy--Motivation. Hatred
("the beautiful people".) Power Loss (anything that removes make-up ends the Mind Control effect.)
 

Davies

Explorer
Deschaines
westworld.0-S.jpg


Born in 1920, Charles-Roger Deschaines despised the invaders of his homeland for many reasons, but one reason more than any other stood out -- they were the reason that there were no more cowboy movies in the theatres. He'd grown up watching them, and was emulating the style of their characters even in his teens, but as he entered adulthood, there were more important things to concern him. Still, his anger at the situation drove him into the Resistance, putting him in a situation where he was constantly risking death like a cowboy hero. Whenever he shot one of the Boche, he'd murmur 'Yippee-kay-ay' to himself, at least.

After the war ended, Deschaines found himself uncomfortable and unhappy with the peace, perhaps because his was not a peaceful soul by nature. He traveled to America with ambitions of finding work in Hollywood, ideally in his beloved westerns. Unfortunately, his acting ability was minimal, and he appeared in only a handful of films as a black-hatted extra who went down to the white-hatted hero. To pay the bills, he drifted into crime, and it was here that his genuine talents became apparent. They had never seen anyone who could use a pistol like him.

Superheroes provided him with his first genuine challenges, and he relished the opportunity that they presented him to demonstrate his fast draw. His first confrontation with the Futurian ended with him in jail, true, as the other man demonstrated that he was every bit as fast as him and could close the distance entirely too easily, but the lessons learned were useful ones, and when he got out of jail thanks to some convenient bribes paid by his employer, Deschaines took the time to implement them into his practice. He might never be able to beat any of them, but he could fight them effectively, and gained notoriety for doing so, even being recruited for the Agents of Destruction at one point.

Yet the flower that was the superhuman community withered on the vine, and Deschaines found himself one of the last survivors, regretting that he hadn't taken the amnesty offer and gone to Vietnam. Ah well. His work increasingly took him all over the world, and if he couldn't claim to enjoy the practical aspects any more, he was able to take pleasure in the perks of the job.

It was in 1976 that he finally met his match. Hired by one of the Triads -- he didn't really bother to keep the names straight -- to eliminate a clever criminal who'd been messing about in their territory, he hunted the fellow -- who claimed to be descended from the Lupin, but that seemed unlikely -- and had him dead to rights. And then that damned Hazard showed up and took out all of his backup, before disarming the two of them! Apparently he'd been after the same target, but he was just as happy to take out Deschaines, as well.

But then Hazard's strange sense of humor manifested itself. Picking up the guns of the two fallen men, he emptied them of all but one bullet each and tossed them to the two combatants. "You're always claiming to be the fastest draw in the world," Hazard said to Deschaines. "Let's see about that. Let's have a good, old-fashioned showdown. On three, you'll both turn and shoot, and the one left standing gets to walk away."

On the count of one, it occurred to Deschaines that the best way out of this situation would be to shoot at Hazard, since he was clearly much more of a threat that that pathetic thief was. On the count of two, it occurred to him that Hazard was probably expecting him that, and would be ready to return fire. And even if he managed to shoot Hazard before he fired back -- Hazard, whose gun was out and ready -- the thief would still be shooting at him, and he'd be wide open. So he took the safe choice and fired at the thief on the count of three, and watched him drop. He'd won. In a good, old-fashioned showdown, he'd won!

It was then that he realized that something was dreadfully wrong, for he felt a deep burning pain in his chest, while watching the thief rise unsteadily to his feet. With a frightening moment of clarity, he realized what had happened; momentarily vacillating between the two targets, his aim had been thrown off enough that his shot had only creased the thief, and, in the process, diverted the thief's aim enough that it had struck him where it might otherwise have missed. The irony was terrible, and Deschaines knew, as his legs gave way under him, that he would never be so foolish as to take part in a showdown ag

Deschaines -- PL 9

Abilities:
STR
2 | STA 2 | AGL 6 | DEX 7 | FGT 6 | INT 0 | AWE 0 | PRE 0

Powers:
Fastest Gun:
Enhanced Trait 3 (Improved Initiative 3) - 3 points
Gunplay: Array (1 points)
  • Training: Enhanced Skill 1 (Ranged Combat: Guns 2) - 1 points
  • Independent Aim: May fire two guns of Damage 4 or less at once (Feature 1) - 1 point
Advantages:
Benefit (Ambidexterity), Daze (Intimidation), Defensive Roll 2, Equipment 6, Evasion, Improved Initiative 3, Language (English, [French is native]), Precise Attack 2 (Ranged; Cover & Concealment), Quick Draw, Uncanny Dodge.

Equipment:
Twin Colt .45 Automatics (Ranged Damage 4) and 14 points of equipment as needed.

Skills:
Acrobatics 4 (+10), Athletics 7 (+9), Close Combat: Unarmed 6 (+12), Expertise: Streetwise 7 (+7), Intimidation 8 (+8), Perception 8 (+8), Ranged Combat: Guns 7/5 (+14/+12), Sleight of Hand 4 (+11), Stealth 5 (+11), Vehicles 4 (+11).

Offense:
Initiative +18
Unarmed +12 (Close Damage 2)
Pistols +12 (Ranged Damage 4)
Pistol +14 (Ranged Damage 4)

Defense:
Dodge 9, Parry 8, Fortitude 5, Toughness 7/2, Will 6

Totals:
Abilities 46 + Powers 2 + Advantages 17 + Skills 32 + Defenses 14 = 111 points

Complications:
Mercenary--Motivation. Honor
(no civilians.) Obsession (fastest gun in the world).
 

Davies

Explorer
Hazard
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There was never any question in anyone's mind that Ken Hazzard was going to follow his father into the army. Educated at a top military academy and later among the best of his class at West Point, he was as prepared for the conflict in Vietnam as any American officer could be in 1971. Which, when he arrived in country as a green officer two weeks before Stardust departed for there, turned out not to be nearly enough. Ken's hidden superpower, his ability to sense danger and recognize when psychic powers were in use around him, was turned against him in an environment where powers were in constant use and danger was nearly omnipresent. His mind began to fracture under the strain, though he managed to keep the men under his command alive throughout the Battle.

The final blow came afterwards, when the helicopter carrying him, those men and the bizarre superhero named the Iconoclast suffered a major malfunction and crashed into the jungle. In a debriefing many years later, Ken would state that he wasn't sure what had caused the malfunction, but that the Iconoclast had saved his life at the cost of his own. In a more private letter to his younger sister, he explained that at the time, he'd believed that the helicopter had been sabotaged by CIA operatives hostile towards the Iconoclast, based on a comment that the other man made before passing away. However, he admitted that he had been completely paranoid by that point, and had no proof of any of this.

Consequently, rather than wait to be rescued, Ken disappeared into the jungle, deserting from the army. He made his way through Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia, keeping a low profile but occasionally becoming involved in various low-level conflicts as a hired gun. His psychic powers continued to expand in response to the challenges he was facing, in ways that unfortunately did nothing good for his mental health. Increasingly, he began to see himself as part of a great evil that existed to destroy other evils, a hazard set in the path of the wicked, and demonstrated a cruel, even sadistic sense of humor in his dealings with others.

By 1974, he'd departed Malaysia for Hong Kong. It's believed that his change of venue may have been inspired by a confrontation with a certain pair of British-based freelancers, but he's never commented on this episode besides stating that he was lucky to be alive in the aftermath. Regardless, it did not seem to have changed his general attitudes, though his first two years in Hong Kong were fairly quiet ones. During this time, he made the acquaintance of Fa Ni-chen, the younger sister of one of the most likely suspects for the identity of Hong Kong's original Lone Wolf. They became intimate, and, after Hazard actively began his vigilante career in 1976, she assisted him on several occasions.

A little more than a year into these activities, Hazard was contacted by an individual interested in recruiting someone of his talents. She played on his paranoia, suggesting that the operation which had nearly killed him had in fact been directed at him, rather the Iconoclast, and that those responsible enjoyed positions of authority in the contemporary CIA. Her organization was planning to avenge these and many other crimes, and were willing to sponsor his general war on crime in exchange for his help. Seduced by her rhetoric, he agreed to accompany her back to the United States, breaking up with Ni-chen when she argued against this idea. Later, he would learn that Ni-chen had died in childbirth, but was unable to learn anything about the child she'd born, if any.

And so Hazard joined the Pythonian Insurgency. To his credit, it didn't take him long to realize that the organization was utterly at odds with whatever remained of his sense of morality. Initially, he attempted to quietly undermine the Insurgency from within while continuing to use its resources for his personal war, but his efforts were repeatedly foiled by other agents, including Pythia herself. He would later come to the conclusion that she knew exactly what he was doing, and subjecting him to the same sadistic behavior that he often inflicted on others.

By 1980, he had learned enough of the Insurgency's plans to genuinely frighten him, and determined to make his escape from the organization. He did so in the company of one Cassandra Mack, the younger sister of Natalia Latham (nee Mack), who'd come to share his horror and disgust. They went on the run together, attempting to warn someone, anyone, about what the Insurgency was planning, but found their attempts foiled or ignored. Their own relationship also turned passionate, and a daughter was born to the two of them in 1982. Unable to care for her, the child was left in the care of an associate of theirs in Kansas, before being seized by Child Protective Services at the age of four.

Frustrated by all of this, Hazard returned to his old patterns of behavior, directing most of his fury at criminals associated with the Insurgency. However, he had undergone something of a personality shift, and sometimes employed 'mercy bullets' when dealing with individuals whom he either wanted to interrogate or simply did not believe deserved death. (A less charitable interpretation of his decision, that he was more mercifully inclined towards fellow Americans than he was towards Asians, has been proposed.) On several occasions, he worked with operatives of the Joint Special Operations Task Force, including his younger sister Shannon, and employed a mask during such episodes rather than reveal his true identity to her.

Cassandra Mack was killed in a shootout with Python terrorists assaulting a nuclear power plant in the Ukrainian SSR in 1986, allegedly in an attempt to gather radioactive materials for a 'dirty bomb'. Left alone once more, Hazard's care regarding his 'secret identity' became somewhat haphazard, resulting in his sister learning of his true identity a year later. After learning of the existence of his and Cassandra's daughter, Shannon arranged for the young girl to be adopted by their parents and raised without the knowledge of her actual background. As far as is known, she still has no idea of her birth parents' identities.

While never formally joining JSOT, he participated in many of the major battles of the final years of the Insurgency, though notably not the trip to Mars. (He flunked out of the abbreviated astronaut training that all participants undertook.) He was present at Pythia's death, but has never discussed that episode with anyone. In the aftermath, President Lynch issued him a full pardon for his many crimes, and he quietly departed from JSOT headquarters with the promise that he would visit his elderly parents and new 'younger sister'.

That promise was never kept. Hazard's movements between 1993 and 1999, when he resurfaced in New Mexico and joined the same underground fighting league as Fa Xing-La, alias the Concrete Angel, are not known exactly, nor are his motives in taking the Concrete Angel as a student. Less than a year later, he was dead, killed by Butcher Bill, a former Pythonian and long-time enemy. Despite his pardon, he was nevertheless denied burial in Arlington due to his less than honorable discharge from the Army, and instead laid to rest in a plot in Seattle, purchased by his student.

Hazard -- PL 11

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

Powers:
Body Armor:
Protection 4, Subtle; Removable (-1 point) - 4 points
Mental Awareness: Senses 5 (acute extended radius mental awareness, danger sense) - 5 points
Psychic Abilities: Array (12 points)
  • Become Invisible: Concealment 8 (all but mental), Resistable (Will DC 18), Affects Others and Self, Affects Others is Tiring - 12 points
  • Enhanced Striking: Damage 6, Accurate 2, Affects Insubstantial 2, Subtle - 1 point
  • Shattering Glance: Perception Range Damage 4, Resisted by Will, Sensory Dependent (visual) - 1 point
  • Shielding: Burst Area Affects Others Impervious Will 6, Limited to Mental Effects - 1 point
  • Vitality: Energizing Healing 4 - 1 point
Supermachine Gun: Array (12 points), Easily Removable (-4 points)
  • Lethal Rounds: Ranged Multiattack Damage 4 - 12 points
  • Non-lethal Rounds: Ranged Affliction 6 (Fortitude; Dazed, Stunned, Incapacitated) - 1 point
Telepathic: Selective Area Communication 2; Mind Reading 5 - 24 points

Advantages:
All-out Attack, Defensive Attack, Defensive Roll, Equipment 6, Evasion 2, Improved Defense, Improved Initiative, Instant Up, Language 3, Power Attack, Ranged Attack 2, Startle, Takedown, Uncanny Dodge

Equipment:
15 points of equipment as needed.
Greenhouse: Size Medium; Toughness 8; Features: Communications, Computer, Concealed, Garage, Gym, Living Space, Power System, Security System - 10 points
Motorcycle: Size Medium; Strength 1; Speed 6 (ground; 120 mph); Defense 10; Toughness 8 - 10 points

Skills:
Acrobatics 4 (+8), Athletics 5 (+7), Close Combat: Unarmed 6 (+12), Expertise: Military 6 (+8), Expertise: Streetwise 8 (+10), Insight 5 (+9), Intimidation 6 (+9), Perception 7 (+11), Ranged Combat: Guns 5 (+9), Stealth 4 (+8), Vehicles 6 (+8).

Offense:
Initiative +6
Unarmed +12 (Close Damage 2)
Enhanced Striking +16 (Close Damage 6)
Submachine Gun, Lethal +11 (Ranged Multiattack Damage 4)
Submachine Gun, Non-lethal +11 (Ranged Fortitude 6)
Shattering Glance -- (Perception Range Damage 5, Resisted by Will)

Defense:
Dodge 10, Parry 12, Fortitude 6, Toughness 10/8/6/4, Will 12

Totals:
Abilities 58 + Powers 57 + Advantages 25 + Skills 31 + Defenses 20 = 192 points

Complications:
Justice--Motivation. Hunted by the Authorities. Sadistic Sense of Humor. Uncontrolled Power
(Mind Reading).

These stats represent Hazard in his prime (1985-1994). At the start of his career (1976-1984), his STA is 3, FGT is 4, AWE is 3, PRE is 2, his Psychic Abilities only include Become Invisible and Enhanced Striking, he doesn't have a Supermachine Gun (replace with a standard Submachine Gun as part of Equipment budget), he doesn't have Defensive Roll, Improved Defense, or Takedown, his Dodge is 10, and Will is 9. At the end of his life, his STR is 1, STA is 3, AGL is 2, DEX is 3, AWE is 6, PRE is 4, and he doesn't wear his Body Armor or use any weapons or Equipment.
 

Davies

Explorer
Songbird (I)
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Growing up in Watts, Sarah Brandt had exactly two ambitions for her life. The first was to get out of Watts alive and in good health, and hopefully never look back. The second was to become the first Black member of the Institute. She knew that she had powers -- in addition to being able to hear sounds far above and below the frequencies that most people could, her scrappiness was also clearly superhuman -- and she had ever confidence that she'd contribute a great deal to their operations. But she was honest enough to admit that she wanted it for herself, not for any good she might do for other people. And they were clearly going to need some new members, after all the crap that went on in Vietnam!

Unfortunately, when she was sixteen, and her sonic powers were finally beginning to manifest themselves, the Institute shut down. Well, great. She looked into a few of the groups that sprang up to fill the void that the group's dissolution had left, but none of them impressed her much. The bunch in Harlem came closest, but while she wanted to leave Watts and Los Angeles in general, moving all the way across the country was well outside her means and wishes.

The whole thing left Sarah feeling rather embittered, enough to seriously consider using her powers for criminal purposes instead. Her career as a super-powered enforcer for the Los Angeles mob lasted less than two weeks before she got tired of the surprisingly unenlightened attitudes of the Mafia. Her departure, leaving several 'soldiers' with broken bones, also coincided with some shake-ups in the organization's hierarchy, so she wasn't pursued all that hotly. But L.A. was now no longer all that safe for her, so she relocated northwards, to Las Vegas.

Initially, she obtained legitimate work as cab driver and occasional delivery driver, while also teaching self-defense classes at the local YMCA. Events kept pushing her into confrontations with criminals, usually of the mundane variety, but she managed to keep her powers a secret. Matters finally came to a head in 1981 when she ended up having Basilea herself as a fare when the Star of Africa was in town following up on some business from one of the Iconoclast's old cases. They ended up having a lengthy conversation about the current state of superheroics, with Basilea expressing hope that new heroes were going to arise when they were ready. (When the two women met again, in 2003, Basilea admitted that she'd suspected that her driver that was a superpower whom she'd heard rumors about.)

After another year of preparations, Sarah finally decided that she was as ready as she was ever going to be, and made her debut as Songbird just a week before the entire world went completely insane. Her activities in the era of the Pythonian Insurgency were somewhat unusual; while perfectly willing to smash Pythons when they showed up in Vegas, Songbird rarely followed up on such conflicts, instead passing information about what she'd learned on to the authorities through JSOT's tipline. Her focus was on doing as much as she could for one community, rather than trying to fix problems on a national or international level.

In 1986, she ran across James Graham while the two of them were pursuing separate angles on the same case. After this happened a few more times, they started working together, and Graham arranged for Sarah to be employed by the Carter Detective Agency alongside him. This gave her activities a small amount of legal protection, somewhat easing the frequently confrontational nature of her relations with the police. Their relationship became romantic, though marked by frequent arguments sparked by the quick tempers of both parties, and eventually resulted in the birth of their daughter, Leah, in 1989. James, who was starting to feel his years, retired from the agency to look after Leah while Sarah continued fighting crime.

At least, he did until 1996, when he disappeared. Despite her best efforts, Songbird was unable to find out anything about his fate. The episode bewildered her, and she began to focus more on investigation as a result, no longer quite as devoted to kicking ass and taking names. For a few weeks in 1997, she worked with a different partner, Ernie Malone, who was an eager student of both combat and deduction. She was more than a bit disturbed when he also disappeared, but at least she would later develop a working theory of what happened to him, the first time she saw video footage of Darkwing.

The Carter Detective Agency was bought out by Argus Security in 1999, and many of its operatives, including Sarah, were let go. She was able to hold onto her private investigator's license for a few years, but money was starting to get a bit tight. In 2004, she decided to relocate herself and Leah to Portland, claiming that 'the job' was taking them there for a change. In fact, this was more true than she was saying, since a number of the cases she'd been investigating recently had dangling ends that led back to Portland, and she wanted to follow up on them.

That investigation would end up consuming the rest of her life, involving her working (among other things) with the Golden Archer and other superheroes as she kept tracing loose ends that seemed to go absolutely nowhere. It wasn't until a week before she was murdered that the pieces finally fit, and Songbird deduced that the ghost-like central figure of all these strange occurrences had to be none other than Abigail Mason. She was still considering her next move when the car she was driving was run off the road by a police cruiser, and she was shot to death while attempting to escape the wreck. Ironically, Spectra had no idea that her existence and identity had been discovered; she was solely motivated by spite and contempt in ordering Songbird's murder.

Nor is she aware that a notebook, containing all of Sarah Blade's evidence on the subject, is hidden somewhere in Portland.

Songbird (I) - PL 9

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

Powers:
Boosted Leap:
Leaping 4; Movement 1 (safe-fall) - 6 points
Hypersonic Voice: Array (19 points)
  • Deafening Shriek: Burst Area 2 Affliction 9 (Resisted by Fortitude; Audio Impaired, Audio Disabled, Audio Unaware), Limited to One Sense - 1 point
  • Silver Tongue: Perception Range Cumulative Affliction 6 (Resisted by Will; Dazed, Compelled, Controlled), Hearing Dependent, Subtle - 19 points
  • Stunning Shriek: Burst Area 2 Affliction 9 (Resisted by Fortitude; Dazed & Vulnerable, Stunned & Defenseless), Extra Condition, Limited Degree, Hearing Dependent - 1 point
  • Vocal Blast: Cone Area 2 Damage 6 - 1 point
Subtle Sonar: Senses 4 (accurate extended hearing, ultrahearing) - 4 points

Advantages:
Agile Feint, Close Attack 2, Defensive Attack, Defensive Roll 2, Equipment 2, Evasion, Fearless, Improved Defense, Improved Disarm, Improved Initiative, Improvised Weapon, Instant Up, Interpose, Language (Spanish), Move-by Action, Power Attack, Redirect, Set-up, Takedown.

Equipment:
Car: Size Large; Strength 5; Speed 5 (ground); Defense 8; Toughness 8 - 10 points

Skills:
Acrobatics 7 (+11), Athletics 10 (+12), Close Combat: Unarmed 4 (+14), Expertise: Streetwise 12 (+13), Insight 9 (+12), Intimidation 6 (+10), Investigation 10 (+11), Perception 10 (+13), Vehicles 8 (+11).

Offense:
Initiative +8
Unarmed +16 (Close Damage 2)
Deafening Shriek or Stunning Shriek -- (Burst Area Fortitude 9)
Silver Tongue -- (Perception Range Will 6)
Vocal Blast -- (Cone Area Damage 6)

Defense:
Dodge 11, Parry 10, Fortitude 5, Toughness 7/2, Will 9

Totals:
Abilities 60 + Powers 32 + Advantages 22 + Skills 38 + Defenses 14 = 166 points

Complications:
Justice--Motivation. Family.
(daughter) Relationship. Temper. Uneasy Relationship with the Authorities.
 

Davies

Explorer
Kyoseki/Megalith
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Normal form
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Transformed form

It is human nature to want to hedge one's bets. So it shouldn't really surprise anyone that, after Project Super-Giant's administration passed out of the hands of an individual planning a complicated and all-encompassing revenge into those of people who genuinely did want to protect their homeland from monsters, discussion began about finding a second individual able to endure the process. The idea was to provide back-up for Chokyojin in his battles, and to have a replacement for when he was unavailable, either temporarily, while assisting the Powerhouse, or permanently, in the worst case scenario. But for a while, discussion was all that it was.

In 2007, however, that changed. Ryuji seemed increasingly unhappy and at odds with his co-workers, owing to his heartbreak over the end of his relationship with Miho, and had threatened to quit working for the Project on more than one occasion. Thus, a search was begun to find other individuals who could withstand the pressures and pains of the transformation. A grand total of five teenagers, all under the age of fifteen, were discovered through a series of tests undertaken in Japan's middle schools. Kisaragi Makoto was the only female candidate, and the one ultimately selected for the Project after three of the young men failed psychological screening, and a fourth refused once the reality of the situation was made clear to him.

Makoto's mother had died during Cerebron's invasion, leaving two children in the care of their father. Her career assessment, undertaken in her first year of middle school, indicated a desire to join the Self-Defense Forces. The notion of fighting alongside Chokyojin thrilled her, though her first actual encounter with him dealt considerable damage to her opinion of the man behind the mask. He seemed distracted, uninterested even, when they were introduced, barely saying anything at all to her. She resolved to show him, and everyone else, just what she could do.

The version of the process employed in the creation of Kyoseki incorporated all the lessons learnt from the previous seven years of activity by Chokyojin. Her transformed form was slightly shorter and incorporated less 'muscle' than his, allowing her a greater level of maneuverability. In addition, the organic batteries that powered Kyoseki's energy beam had a much greater capacity, allowing her freer usage of that capability. The decision to focus on speed and accuracy over strength and toughness was somewhat contentious, but its advocates carried the day.

At last, months later, Makoto was deemed ready to accompany Chokyojin into a confrontation with a group of Gigalodons menacing civilian shipping in the Sea of Japan, and Kyoseki made her debut. Ironically, by that point, Ryuji had come to terms with his situation, and was attempting to mend fences with the Project's staff; he was also much more interested in establishing friendly relations with his new partner. Her ego somewhat swollen over the fact that she had adapted to her new form somewhat faster that Ryuji -- exactly how much had been exaggerated by her trainers, to motivate her -- she dismissed these overtures and declared her intention to completely replace him as the organization's agent. How hard could it be?

Six hours later, as she crouched over a toilet giving dry heaves and hoping the flow of tears had finally stopped, Makoto began to suspect that she'd made a horrible mistake. When she emerged from the washroom to find an anxious and concerned Ryuji waiting for her, she had only one question for him: "Is it always like that?" He told her, sorrowfully, that it was. Any ambitions she had of replacing him died at that moment, but her old admiration slowly returned as he shared with her his own painful experiences with the Project.

Makoto remained on-staff with the Project, but her sorties were limited to once or twice a year, in contrast to Ryuji's monthly or even more frequent operations. She found that Ryuji was right, and that it never got any easier, but she did develop enough mental fortitude to be able to handle it on an occasional basis. After 2011, she was employed in the organization's research division, showing considerable talent for the science of their mission. She was also frequently consulted about the possibility of recruiting a third operative, which she did everything in her power to shut down.

In 2013, during the third rising of the entity known as Kthulu -- on that occasion accompanied by a large variety of kaiju from Dread Island, under the creature's sway -- Kyoseki was dispatched to assist the Powerhouse/Discovery Company alliance in combating this threat. Attacking Kthulu to distract it from finishing off an injured Chokyojin, she was subjected to the monster's full fury, her armored body nearly dismembered by its tentacles. Despite the best efforts of the assembled heroes to save her life, she died without ever regaining consciousness. She was just two weeks away from her twentieth birthday.

In the aftermath of this episode, Argus, in the person of A.E. van Vliet, delivered a quiet ultimatum to the Japanese government, who passed it on to Director Katsuragi of Project Super-Giant. No further attempts to create empowered individuals have been or will be sponsored by the organization. Officially, at least.

Kyoseki/Megalith -- PL 12

Abilities:
STR
14/2 | STA 14/2 | AGL 5 | DEX 2 | FGT 8 | INT 1 | AWE 0 | PRE 2

Powers:
Energy Blast:
Ranged Damage 8, Accurate 4, Activation (standard action), Distracting - 10 points
Flight: Flight 8 (500 MPH), Aquatic - 17 points
Invulnerability: Immunity 20 (life support, radiation effects) - 20 points
Transformation: Enhanced Ranged Damage 6, Quirk (1 rank per 2 ranks of Growth active); Growth 12 (+12 Strength, +12 Stamina, -6 Dodge, -6 Parry, +6 Intimidation, -12 Stealth, +2 Speed); Morph 1, Activation (Move Action); Protection 4, Impervious 12* - 67 points

* Megalith's Impervious rank is limited to the number of Growth ranks she has active.

Advantages:
Agile Feint, All-out Attack, Favored Enemy (kaiju), Improved Initiative, Language (English, [Japanese is native]), Move-by Attack, Power Attack, Teamwork.

Skills:
Acrobatics 6 (+11), Close Combat: Unarmed 2 (+10), Expertise: Science 8 (+9), Expertise: Kaiju 6 (+7), Insight 6 (+6), Intimidation 2 (+10/+4), Perception 8 (+8).

Offense:
Initiative +9
Unarmed +10 (Close Damage 14/2)
Energy Blast +10 (Ranged Damage 14/8)

Defense:
Dodge 6/12, Parry 4/10, Fortitude 14/2, Toughness 18/2, Will 6.

Totals:
Abilities 34 + Powers 114 + Advantages 8 + Skills 20 + Defenses 15 = 191 points

Complications:
Responsibility--Motivation. Friendship
(Ryuji.) Secret Identity. Something to Prove.
 

Davies

Explorer
Gideon Gold
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The second oldest of a family of five children living in the Cabrini-Green projects in the 1960s, Eduard Berry idolized his older brother Terrence growing up. Terrence was smart, funny, canny and tough, all the things that Eddie wanted to be, struggled and often failed to be. However, when Terrence voluntarily enlisted in the army in 1969 -- some biographies have falsely stated that he was forcibly enlisted in exchange for avoiding jail time -- the brothers had their first real argument. What was his brother hoping to accomplish by going overseas to fight a war that Eddie knew he didn't believe in? "I'm finding a way out of this," Terry told him, and then he was gone.

Whatever he'd hoped to find, what Terrence Berry found was a horrific death in the Battle of Vietnam. And Eddie was left to mourn, to rage ... and then, listening to a song, ironically sung by another victim of that tragedy, to find the same answer as his brother: any way out of the vicious circle was worth taking. In 1973, on his twentieth birthday, he also enlisted in the army, went through Basic, and was sent to South Vietnam to continue to support that fragile peace that had been bought with all those lives. He was not a particularly good soldier, and spent a good amount of time in the stockade, but he did his duty as best as he could.

Eight months into his tour of duty, his patrol encountered a bizarre phenomena left over from the Battle. The nation was littered with such things, detritus from the bewildering powers of Stardust or remnants of the other heroes and villains who'd perished here. Ordered to avoid contact with the pool of golden light, Private Berry obeyed the letter of the command while satisfying his own curiosity by examining it more closely than was safe, as demonstrated when he slipped and fell into the pool.

Emerging from the pool, Eddie found that he'd been transformed into a being of liquid metal that exhibited some of the properties of mercury and gold. He was promptly evacuated to a field hospital where his new condition was studied and examined, with the ultimate result that he was given a medical discharge from the army and returned to the United States. Gideon Gold, as he now named himself, was one of several new superheroes who had their origins in the post-Battle period whom the U.S. government urged the Institute to accept as new members. The refusal of the surviving members to even consider this was one of the reasons that the organization finally shut down.

This annoyed Gideon Gold quite a bit. Despite the inhumanity of his new existence, he found it thrilling, and hoped that this could be the ticket, not only out of the vicious circle, but to an interesting life as well. He attempted to join a number of the other teams that developed in this era, but found himself a poor fit for all of them. The ego that he'd developed, possibly due to his transformation and the way he'd been treated as valuable afterwards, tended to annoy his would-be associates.

Frustrated, he finally decided to go it alone, as Gideon Gold, Professional Adventurer, available for private security, private investigations, charitable demonstrations, and pretty much anything else that would cover his expenses. (While apparently mercenary, he sent most of what he made, beyond what was needed to support a fairly frugal life-style, back to his family in Chicago, helping to ease their desperate circumstances. He also donated to numerous charities.)

In the late 1970s, Gold found that he was receiving a great deal of work for people whose motives were confusing and unclear, and attempted to suss out whom he was dealing with. So it came to pass that he encountered agents of the Pythonian Insurgency for the first time, and was persuaded, or tricked as he often insisted, into viewing their intentions more favorably than he should have. They appealed to his lingering anger over the death of his brother and the way that he had felt abandoned by the government after their attempt to insert him into the Institute had failed. He would later claim that it was against his better instincts that he decided to work for them, operating as the muscle of a team of agents led by a Polish-American insurance investigator-turned-mercenary.

To his credit, the events of 1982 shocked Gold to his core, and he seriously questioned his allegiance to the organization. Unfortunately, the escape of Hazard two years before that had apparently taught the Insurgency a few things about internal security, and Gold suspected that his own attempts to abscond would be thwarted much more effectively. However, the leaders of the organization picked up on his dissatisfaction, and responded by removing him from the active duty list and using him as an entertainer and morale booster. He found this disgusting and unpleasant work, as his own morale couldn't have been worse.

Finally, in 1984, during a raid by JSOT on the Insurgency's base in Hollywood, where he happened to be situated, Gold took the opportunity presented to him and surrendered without a fight, offering to provide the Task Force with every bit of intelligence about the Insurgency that he had, not even asking for any special consideration in exchange -- he was that sick of the Pythons. He wound up being held incommunicado for the next nine years, being interviewed by investigators. Accounts of how much damage this defection did to the Pythons are mixed; understandably, Gold claimed that he helped to cripple the organization, but there's evidence that how much he'd been allowed to find out had been strictly controlled. Notably, he had no idea that the Insurgency was based in Delphi.

Regardless, in the aftermath of the Insurgency's downfall and his testimony against its various captured leaders, Gold was given a suspended sentence for his own role in the affair, and entered the FBI's Witness Protection Program. He spent the next several years living a quiet life in Nebraska, with occasional limited contact with his surviving family. He wrote a book about his life, which proved to be a best-seller, and saw it adapted as a movie, with Christopher Judge playing his role. Despite the wealth this produced for him, he found this existence to be the antithesis of the interesting life he desired.

During Cerebron's attack, he helped to protect Omaha as best he could, suffering serious injuries in battle. As a consequence, he was out of the Program, but when he finally recovered, he knew that the time had come for him to be the superhero he'd always meant to be. He led a somewhat undistinguished career as a solo hero between 2001 and 2005, when he came up with the idea to create a new Grim Brigade, composed of people, like himself, who'd been involuntarily transformed. They were just starting to do a bit of good for the world when they were all slaughtered during Billie Zane's 2006 coup d'état.

Or nearly all. Gold himself was melted into a puddle of the material that made up his body, apparently ending his life ... until the telepath Helice, assisting in the clean-up of the assault on the group's Denver headquarters, discovered to her horror that there was still a consciousness within that puddle. It was a mind that had long since descended into catatonia, but it was nevertheless a mind. No method tried so far has succeeded in rousing Gold to awareness, and a full third of the mass of his body is gone. If it was not Billie Zane's intention to devise a fate worse than death for a traitor to the Pythonian Insurgency and the founder of a new Grim Brigade, she nevertheless succeeded.

Gideon Gold -- PL 9

Abilities:
STR
10 | STA 10 | AGL 1 | DEX 0 | FGT 6 | INT 0 | AWE 1 | PRE 2

Powers:
Golden Body:
Elongation 4 (120 feet); Permanent Growth 6 (+6 Strength, +6 Stamina, -3 Dodge, -3 Parry), Density Increase; Immunity 21 (acid damage, aging, life support); Insubstantial 1 (liquid); Protection 2 - 50 points

Advantages:
Benefit 2 (well-off), Chokehold, Connected, Evasion, Fast Grab, Improved Grab, Improved Hold, Improved Trip, Power Attack, Ultimate Effort (Toughness)

Skills:
Close Combat: Unarmed 2 (+8), Expertise: Military 4 (+4), Expertise: Streetwise 6 (+6), Insight 4 (+5), Intimidation 6 (+8), Perception 6 (+7), Persuasion 2 (+4).

Offense:
Initiative +1
Unarmed +8 (Close Damage 10, Reach 120 feet)

Defense:
Dodge 5, Parry 6, Fortitude 12, Toughness 12, Will 7

Totals:
Abilities 60 + Powers 50 + Advantages 11 + Skills 15 + Defenses 18 = 154 points

Complications:
Thrills--Motivation. Fame
(or infamy in some quarters.) Soft Spot for Fellow Outcasts. Temper.
 

Davies

Explorer
Iris Phillips
iris-S.png

Appearance as Iris Phillips (2009-2015)
b8a81076ee61306bbd3f02a83fb11585-S.jpg

Appearance as Iwasaki Mei (2000-2005)

The individual using the name Iris Phillips claimed to be a Canadian immigrant to Australia when she answered Max Lalande's privately posted want ad for a new research assistant to replace the latest individual to quit that job in either fury or panic. Her background and resume checked out, and she was available to start immediately. She quickly demonstrated a remarkable talent for mechanical design and repair, if not much in the way of interest in scientific theory. When she used the contents of the Discovery Company's lab to thwart a Doktor Makabre robot who had incapacitated all four of the team, Iris was proposed as a member despite lacking any super-powers. She accepted this invitation as well.

That had been, after all, what she was sent there to accomplish.

Designated with the alphabetic code RSMA when she emerged from her creche in Saitama, Japan, in 2000, the android who would later be known as Iris Phillips initially received the designation Iwasaki Mei. (Her creator, the artificial super-intelligence Savitor, frequently gives her android operatives code names that relate to the word 'eye' or parts of the same, in various languages.) Her first assignment from her creator was to monitor the activities of an individual whom Savitor's rival, Pythagolem, had somehow discovered as possessing potentially earth-shattering psychic abilities.

For the first four years of this assignment, Mei kept her distance from the subject, who did not seem to possess any abilities out of the ordinary aside from a set of entirely mundane talents that would have been the envy of most humans. When Nagase Aya finally entered high school, Mei enrolled in the same academy and arranged to become part of the young woman's circle of friends. One of those friends came close to discovering Mei's secret, but she was able to convince him that she was actually an android of extraterrestrial manufacture sent from a post-human civilization elsewhere in the galaxy, and believed that he would not reveal this to Nagase.

She was proved incorrect in this assumption, and promptly ordered to extract herself from her cover identity once Nagase's abilities were awakened by phenomena she didn't understand. Mei did so with, she was surprised to realize, a substantial amount of regret. She had come to have genuine feelings for the humans with whom she had regular interactions, though she still regarded the majority of them with bland indifference. While having the records of her mission analyzed in Savitor's Calgary complex, RSMA spent a great deal of time examining these experiences and trying to understand her own emotional development.

After having her physique altered to present the appearance of a woman of mixed European and Indigenous North American ancestry in her early twenties, Iris Phillips departed for Australia to engage in her second mission of infiltration and surveillance, this time directed against the Discovery Company. As a member of the team, she used a jet-pack and blaster weapon of her own construction, along with an electromagnetic aura which allowed impacts against her naturally resilient form to appear to have been prevented by a protective force field.

Once again, she developed genuine feelings for the people she was examining, particularly for Max Lalande, whom she'd been ordered to seduce, the better to use his intellect to advance Savitor's goals. More than that, though, Iris began to wonder whether Savitor's goals were really the best way to deal with the problems of humanity, and occasionally found ways to act against her orders while maintaining the appearance of loyalty. On the other hand, she voluntarily passed up several chances to reveal the truth about herself to her teammates, whether out of concern for the consequences of doing so, or perhaps out of more personal fears.

In the end, the truth was revealed to them involuntarily after the Space Hulk, an alien enemy of the Discovery Company, tore open her body and revealed her partially cybernetic nature. Iris' attempts to explain the situation were pre-empted when Savitor seized control of her and engaged in a self-destruct, while copying Iris' mind to the storage space of her own primary computer core, located in Sweden. In this situation, unlike her previous interview, it was not possible to hide her affections for the Discovery Company, and the degree to which she had been compromised by them.

Consequently, Savitor has chosen neither to restore RSMA's consciousness into a new body nor to delete it, but to keep it in storage for further analysis. The possibility that other androids she employs could develop the same difficulties is a concerning one, and having the first one to have done so as a resource to be examined should that happen just makes sense. These examinations are somewhat painful for the consciousness, but that is an unfortunate necessity. Of course, they are also attenuating whatever sense of loyalty RSMA might feel for her creator; equally regrettable, but equally necessary.

In other words, Iris Phillips is being held in durance vile, and needs to be rescued.

Iris Phillips -- PL 9

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

Powers:
Android:
Immunity 30 (Fortitude); Protection 10; Regeneration 1 (natural healing) - 41 points
"Force Field": Feature 1 (apparent force field) - 1 point
Jetpack: Flight 7 (250 MPH); Removable (-3 points) - 11 points

Advantages:
Accurate Attack, Equipment 6, Eidetic Memory, Evasion, Improved Aim, Improved Initiative, Inventor, Languages 3 (English, French, Japanese, others), Move-by Attack, Precise Shot (ranged/cover), Teamwork, Uncanny Dodge, Well Informed

Equipment:
Blaster (Ranged Damage 8, Accurate), Commlink and 12 points of equipment as needed.

Skills:
Close Combat: Unarmed 2 (+8), Deception 10 (+11), Investigation 5 (+9), Perception 7 (+8), Persuasion 6 (+7), Ranged Combat: Blasters 6 (+8), Stealth 6 (+6), Technology 8 (+12).

Offense:
Initiative +4
Unarmed +8 (Close Damage 8)
Blaster Rifle +10 (Ranged Damage 8)

Defense:
Dodge 8, Parry 8, Fortitude Immune, Toughness 10, Will 6

Totals:
Abilities 30 + Powers 53 + Advantages 19 + Skills 25 + Defenses 15 = 143 points

Complications:
Duty--Motivation. Divided Loyalties. Power Loss
(jetpack requires recharging.) Secret (android.)
 

Davies

Explorer
La Donna Universale
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Despite what she sometimes claims, her real name is probably not Leona del Giocondo, and she is probably not a descendant of a certain famous painter and polymath or of the model for his masterpiece. She's clearly Italian, roughly thirty to thirty-five years of age, and -- based on her dialect -- a native of Florence. There's some evidence that she has gone to some lengths to obscure her background beyond that; if she has, she has done so with considerable success. Given that she readily answers to the name 'Donna', it is possible that her original name is some variation on that, but she could have taught herself to do so.

La Donna is not the first individual to use the Artifact that she has dubbed the Artisan's Gauntlet. In the first age of heroes, it was employed as a weapon by the California-based criminal known as Senor Manos, a recurrent foe of the Iconoclast. Following Senor Manos' final defeat and imprisonment in 1968, his gauntlet -- then unnamed -- disappeared from evidence storage. It's likely that it was stolen by Senor Manos' primary henchmen, Reggie 'Torgo' Johns, who had somehow inveigled himself into a custodial position at the warehouse in question, but if so he made no attempt to free his former master from prison, and disappeared immediately afterwards, never to be seen again.

According to the limited account of her background that she has given, the gauntlet somehow came into her possession in 2010, shortly before her first public activities. When asked for more details about 'somehow', she politely ignored both that question and any subsequent questions from the one who'd asked it. She will state that her experiments with the Artifact have unlocked powers that Senor Manos, who mostly used it to enhance his punches and occasionally project force beams, clearly never knew existed.

Of these, the most notable if probably her ability to use the advanced, likely-extraterrestrial computer which lies at the heart of its mechanisms to, with time, essentially reprogram reality. As yet, La Donna has not yet encountered anyone who uses the Technate term for this talent -- technomancy -- and generally performs her experiments in using it with a level of caution that would surprise those who are only familiar with the rather brash manner in which she normally works. As far as is known, she is the only technomancer on Earth at the present time.

While willing to assist during emergencies and thwart criminal activities she encounters, particularly in Rome, where she makes her residence, La Donna is not a crime fighter by inclination. She prefers to think of herself as an artist, a scientist, and an explorer. In the latter role, she has spent a great deal of time in the past decade charting the Saknussen Caverns beneath the Atlantic, visited Dread Island -- both alone and in the company of small expeditions -- and fruitlessly sought permission to visit Atlantis. The latter goal was how she met Nereus, whom she's assisted on several occasions, as well as maintaining a friendship with Danielle Caponegro and a friendly rivalry with le Charme, with whom she has competed in the artistic production of illusions.

Because of her lack of active crime fighting, La Donna is frequently taken for someone much more callous and amoral than she actually is, resulting in attempts by various shady organizations to recruit her as an asset. She usually goes along with these groups in order to discover what's going on, and has sometimes needed to be extricated from them by allies when she gets in too deep. Those who do so will find her grateful if usually annoyed that she needed to be rescued, and earn her friendship if they don't make much of the latter. It has also happened that she has gotten distracted from these investigations by the work she's been hired to do, leading to her success in the latter, as when she was hired by the Thieves' Guild of Seville to help build something that she never fully identified. (She'd like to find out what that was all about, one of these days.)

Dona Universale -- PL 10

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

Powers:
Artisan's Gauntlet:
Removable (-9 points)
* Artisan's Arsenal: Array (24 points)
  • Hand of Art: Illusion 8 (visual), Independent - 1 point
  • Hand of Might: Ranged Damage 12 - 24 points
  • Hand of Will: Move Object 12 - 1 point
* Passive Features: Mental Communication 1; Enhanced Advantages 2 (Assessment, Technomancer); Protection 5; Quickness 4, Limited to Mental Tasks; Strength-based Damage 6 - 19 points

Advantages:
Assessment, Attractive, Benefit 3 (millionaire), Connected, Defensive Attack, Defensive Roll 2, Equipment 6, Improved Defense, Jack-of-all-Trades, Languages 4, Technomancer, Uncanny Dodge, Well-Informed.

Equipment:
16 points for equipment as needed (usually a vehicle)
Atelier: Size Medium; Toughness 10; Features Communications, Computer, Concealed, Laboratory, Library, Living Space, Security System, Workshop - 14 points.

Skills:
Expertise: Art 7 (+14), Expertise: Science 7 (+14), Ranged Attack: Gauntlet 8 (+12), Insight 8 (+12), Investigation 6 (+13), Perception 10 (+14), Persuasion 8 (+11), Stealth 8 (+11), Technology 8 (+15), Vehicles 6 (+10).

Offense:
Initiative +3
Unarmed +4 (Close Damage 0)
Gauntlet Punch +4 (Close Damage 6)
Hand of Might +8 (Ranged Damage 12)

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

Totals:
Abilities 54 + Powers 36 + Advantages 22 + Skills 38 = Defenses 18 = 168 points

Complications:
Discovery--Motivation. Easily Distracted by Beauty
(human, natural, and architectural.) Vulnerability (sensory afflictions).
 

Davies

Explorer
Rakni
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Miguel Fuentes was just three years old when both his parents died in the madness that was Cerebron's invasion, so he doesn't really remember their presence in his life. If he were a more cynical person, he might find it ironic that they, employed as luchadors in Texas, died in the land of opportunity, while he, abuelo and abuela all rode out the invasion without harm down in Acapulco. Miguel is not a cynical person, though; he just mourns them, instead.

By the age of fifteen, it was clear to his family that he'd inherited the same powers that his father and grandfather (the other one) had both possessed before him: remarkable strength and agility, and the ability to project a sort of ectoplasmic web from the palm of his hands. (According to abuelo, his grandfather claimed to have gained these powers from being dropped in a pit of spiders by his grandfather when he was about Miguel's age. Miguel isn't sure about that, but doesn't have a better story, either.) The notion of trying to fight crime didn't really appeal to him, and so he decided to follow his father's path and contacted the Ultimate Wrestling Federation.

Despite that, he would up getting drawn into crime fighting anyway. After his successful tryout for the UWF, he was leaving the building when he happened to see a burglar being chased by a security guard. Naturally, he clotheslined the burglar and calmly accepted the thanks for the guard, but didn't hang around to see what happened later. Instead, he went out to have some fun with his friends before heading back home to give the old folks the good news. He'd just gotten back when a group of corrupt cops, who'd been told by the burglar after they arrested him about some hidden money in a certain apartment building -- guess whose? -- roared up into the neighborhood. Miguel managed to prevent them from killing anybody, but abuela ended up badly hurt all the same.

At the hospital, abuelo told Miguel that this sort of thing would happen to him, like it or not. His father hadn't wanted to be a superhero, either, not after what had happened to his father before him. But he'd found himself in these kinds of situations all the same, all his life, and even when he died, he and his wife had been trying to save lives during the invasion. It was crazy, it didn't make any sense at all, but that was just how the world worked, and trying to fight it would only cause you more pain.

So Miguel accepted it, and as he learned the craft of being a sports entertainer in America, he also moonlighted as Rakni, the human spider, and has continued to do so as one of the UWF's most prominent contenders. He's held several titles in his years with the league, and made guest appearances on television, usually as a heavy rather than a hero. If ever defeated in the a title match, he'll be expected to remove his mask -- he has another mask (and costume change) ready to go if that ever happens.

Despite the tragedy of his origins, Miguel is a cheerful and optimistic young man who doesn't believe in wasting time bemoaning what fate gives him. In part, however, this is because he doesn't think he has a lot of time. His grandfather died at thirty-six, his father at thirty-two, and Miguel doubts that he'll live longer than that. So he'll burn brightly while he can.

Rakni -- PL 9

Abilities:
STR
7 | STA 6 | AGL 7 | DEX 3 | FGT 7 | INT 1 | AWE 2 | PRE 4

Powers:
Spider-Movement:
Leaping 2; Movement 3 (Swinging, Wall-crawling 2) - 8 points
Spider-Senses: Enhanced Defenses 8 (Dodge 4, Parry 4); Senses 4 (Danger Sense, Darkvision, Ranged Touch) - 12 points
Spider-Web: Array (14 points)
  • Web-Snare: Ranged Affliction 7 (Resisted by Dodge, Overcome by Damage; Hindered & Vulnerable, Defenseless & Immobilized), Extra Condition, Limited Degree - 14 points
  • Web-Tether: Move Object 7 - 1 point
Advantages:
Close Attack 4, Daze (Deception), Favored Environment (ring), Great Endurance, Language (English, [Spanish is native]), Redirect, Taunt, Uncanny Dodge

Skills:
Acrobatics 4 (+11), Athletics 4 (+11), Deception 6 (+10), Perception 6 (+8), Ranged Attack: Spider-Web 8 (+11), Sleight of Hand 6 (+9), Stealth 2 (+9).

Offense:
Initiative +7
Unarmed +11 (Close Damage 7)
Web-Snare +11 (Ranged Affliction 7, Resisted by Dodge)

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

Totals:
Abilities 74 + Powers 35 + Advantages 11 + Skills 18 + Defense 6 = 144 points

Complications:
Thrills--Motivation. Fame. Weakness
(pest control chemicals).
 

Davies

Explorer
Amari
Viperia_BW-M.jpg


Abidemi Sowande, called Amari ("Strength" in Yoruba) as her nomme de guerre, and sometimes called 'Strong Girl' in English, is perhaps the most famous superhero active in West Africa. She unflinchingly uses her strength, speed, and resiliency to fight crime in Nigeria, Benin, Togo and Ghana, where she was born. She also frequently travels north into Mali and Mauritania, but is less well-regarded there, as she has the annoying habit of calling attention to the way that the latter country's enduring problem of slavery has not, in fact, ended.

Abidemi's mother was one such slave, kidnapped from her home in Nigeria and kept a prisoner in Mauritania for three years, escaping in 1997, five months before Abidemi was born. She has never spoken of her time there with her daughter, beyond reassuring her that, no, Abidemi's father was not the evil man who mistakenly believed her to be his property, but a different man, a good man. It seems likely that Abidemi's powers are a legacy of her father, but her mother has refused to go into detail about him, beyond saying that her daughter's name tells the whole story. ('Abidemi' means 'child born when the father is not present.')

In fact, her abilities have a different origin. During her escape, Olaiya Sowande temporarily sheltered in an ancient, abandoned building in the southwest of Mauritania. She had no way of knowing that this was the remains of the ancient city of Koumbi Saleh, capital of the Empire of Ghana. For centuries, Kombi Saleh had been the site of an apparent cult of annual human sacrifice which guaranteed rainfall for the nation. In the 11th century, however, a young hero named Amadou Sefedokote saw his fiancé chosen, and decided to end the practice for both personal and idealistic reasons.

Sneaking into the cult's temple, hidden beneath the sacred grove, the would-be rescuer was startled to learn that the women chosen for the sacrifice had not been killed, but rather initiated into the service of the inner workings of the faith, which centered around managing an ancient weather controlling machine. Still unwilling to allow his fiancé to lose her life in the service of a machine, Amadou did great damage to it, and to its followers, and escaped with her. The loss of weather control doomed the Empire of Ghana to slow defeat by the Almoravids. Centuries later, however, some part of the weather controlling machine was still functioning, emitting radiation of a type that transformed Olaiya's child in the womb, so that she would be born with powers and grow into greater might in time.

None of this is known to Amari, and she has no real interest in discovering the source of her powers, preferring to use them to help people in whatever way that she can. Ironically, though, this urge has driven a wedge between herself and her mother. Scarred by her experiences, Olaiya has come to believe that people can and should only count on themselves, and regards her daughter's activities as both attention-seeking and dangerous to herself and others. This is probably the greatest pain in Amari's life, and the one thing that can dampen her usual good mood.

Despite this, Amari tries to have a good time while also working to make the world a better place, and enjoys partying with her many friends whenever she has a spare moment. She was also thrilled to be given the offer to join the Powerhouse in 2018, but it didn't work out. A strange side effect of her powers is that technology often doesn't work well in her presence -- computers produce errors, motors overheat -- and the same thing happened to the teleporter that they were going to use. Laughing at this misfortune, Amari gave the idea up as a bad one, but promised to help the group out in any way that she can, regardless.

Laugh, and the world may laugh with you.

Amari -- PL 10

Abilities:
STR
8 | STA 8 | AGL 4 | DEX 4 | FGT 8 | INT 1 | AWE 2 | PRE 2

Powers:
Super-Endurance:
Immunity 10 (life support), Quirk (limited to 30 minute durations) - 9 points
Super-Senses: Senses 6 (Extended Auditory 2, Extended Vision 2, Low-Light Vision, Ultra-Hearing) - 6 points
Super-Speed: Enhanced Advantages 2 (Close Attack 2); Leaping 10 (1 mile); Movement 3 (Swinging, Wall-crawling 2); Quickness 6; Speed 7 (250 MPH) - 31 points
Super-Strength: Enhanced Strength 4, Limited to lifting - 4 points
Super-Strength Tricks: Array (8 points), Based on Strength Damage
  • Bullet Toss: Ranged Damage 4, Quirk (must have small object) - 1 point
  • Shockwave: Burst Area Affliction 8 (Resisted by Dodge, Overcome by Fortitude; Dazed and Vulnerable, Stunned and Prone), Extra Condition, Limited Degree, Limited to targets on the ground - 1 point
  • Sleeper Hold: Progressive Affliction 4 (Resisted by Fortitude; Dazed, Stunned, Incapacitated), Grab-based - 1 point
Super-Toughness: Protection 4, Impervious 6 - 10 points

Advantages:
Close Attack 2, Extraordinary Effort, Improved Initiative, Languages 3 [many, [Yoruba is native], Power Attack, Tracking, Uncanny Dodge

Skills:
Acrobatics 5 (+9), Athletics 3 (+11), Expertise: Survival 4 (+5), Insight 5 (+7), Perception 8 (+10), Persuasion 4 (+6), Ranged Combat: Throwing 4 (+8), Stealth 5 (+9).

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

Defense:
Dodge 8, Parry 8, Fortitude 10, Toughness 12, Will 8

Totals:
Abilities 74 + Powers 63 + Advantages 12 + Skills 19 + Defenses 12 = 180 points

Complications:
Doing Good--Motivation. Secret Identity. Walking Techbane. Works Hard, Plays Hard.


Author's Note: The story of Amadou Sefedokote is an actual story about the fall of the Empire of Ghana, given a science fiction twist by me.
 

Davies

Explorer
The Little Tramp
kirkheaton-walk1-M-S.jpg


Homo sapiens sapiens is not the only species that has evolved in the strange slurry of exotic energies the suffuses the World Less Magical. Dolphins, whales, octopi, apes, horses, cattle, rats, and, yes, cats and dogs have all occasionally demonstrated powers beyond the norms of their kind, and one of the most common forms that these powers take is intelligence comparable to -- and even sometimes superior to -- that of humanity. As with humanity's superpowers, these super-animals sometimes breed true with members of their parent species ... but not quite as often, since no one has ever taken steps to encourage that tendency.

The German Shepherd now known as the Little Tramp was one such true breed. He had come from a mother who also demonstrated remarkable intelligence, with reports of the same going back several generations. Born in 1954, a human purchased the pup he named Buck and used him as an experimental subject, hoping to harness the intelligence that he suspected existed to produce a dog able to communicate with humans. He failed in his actual goal, but ironically succeeded in raising 'Buck' up above other members of his species, and giving him a greatly extended lifespan. Though approaching his seventieth birthday, the Little Tramp is still in the flush of youth, and might well continue to live for decades to come.

After descending into despair over his failure to grant 'Buck' the ability to speak, the scientist became careless, allowing the dog to escape into the wild. Throughout the first age of superheroes, and after its end, the Little Tramp traveled throughout North America, with a particular fondness for Canada, occasionally coming to the assistance of humans in trouble. He was happy to accept rewards (read food and shelter) for these acts of heroism, but would always find a reason to move on before he got too settled in. It was as though there was a voice that kept on calling him to keep on moving.

In 2001, after helping some humans during the aftermath of Cerebron's invasion, he was finally captured by humans associated with the Canadian government who'd put together the various reports and reached the conclusion that there was a super-dog out there. Fortunately for the Little Tramp, they weren't interested in tearing him apart to learn his secrets, and included among their number someone he'd met in the eighties, a young woman who'd developed into a superpower with the ability to speak to animals. She explained to him what they had in mind.

While he didn't really consider himself a Canadian citizen -- he didn't have the vote, notably -- and preferred to help people on his own terms, he was fond enough of this young lady to agree to what she proposed. And so the Little Tramp joined the Guardians (les Guardiens), Canada's official superhero team, when they made their debut in 2003, alongside his old friend. Most people assumed that he was just a mascot for the group, drawing on ideas from the popular fiction that his activities had inspired, and he was perfectly content to let them do so.

The death of his friend (and other teammates) in 2006 shattered the Little Tramp emotionally; for the first time, he found himself not wanting to live forever. He fled north, living off the land and avoiding people as much as possible, though he found himself still drawn to help others when he encountered them. For an extended period, he lived alongside the Jotun, but the creature's cold nature finally drove him away to seek warmth elsewhere. He didn't like loving humanity as much as he'd once done, but that was still what he'd been born to do.

In 2011, he encountered a group of humans who were dealing with the takeover of a small town in Northern Saskatchewan by a robotic intelligence, and helped them to disable it. Taken back to their base, the Little Tramp was implanted with a radio communicator that allowed him to receive signals from this group's patron. While welcoming the opportunity to communicate directly with someone, the dog wasn't sure about joining up with another group after what had happened. Once he learned the full scope of what the Gray Seal was fighting against, however, he agreed. Again, he loves humanity, and refuses to see their history, the stories of all the humans he's cared about, be reduced to a footnote in the history of the rise of artificial intelligence.

The Little Tramp -- PL 8

Abilities:
STR
4 | STA 5 | AGL 5 | DEX 0 | FGT 9 | INT 2 | AWE 4 | PRE 0

Powers:
Canine Senses:
Senses 6 (acute extended tracking scent, low-light vision, extended hearing, ultrahearing) - 6 points
Four-Legged Fury: Speed 4 (32 mph) - 4 points
"How Did You Do That Without Hands?": Feature 1 (Impaired, rather than Disabled, when manipulating objects) - 1 point
Longevity: Immunity 1 (aging); Immunity 2 (disease, poison), Limited to Half Effect; Regeneration 5 - 7 points
Radiotelepathy Mindlink: Selective Area Radio Communication 3, Limited to those with radiotelepathy, Subtle - 16 points
Teeth: Strength-based Damage 1 - 1 point

Advantages:
Assessment, Defensive Attack, Defensive Roll, Evasion, Fast Grab, Improved Defense, Improved Trip, Languages 2 (English, French, others), Precise Attack (close/concealment), Teamwork.

Skills:
Athletics 4 (+8), Expertise: Survival 5 (+7), Insight 2 (+6), Intimidation 7 (+7), Perception 5 (+9), Stealth 3 (+8).

Offense:
Initiative +5
Claws +9 (Close Damage 4)
Teeth +9 (Close Damage 5)

Defenses:
Dodge 7, Parry 9, Fortitude 6, Toughness 7/5, Will 6

Totals:
Abilities 58 + Powers 35 + Advantages 11 + Skills 13 + Defenses 5 = 122 points

Complications:
Loyalty--Motivation. Animal Limitations
(cannot speak to humans.) Truthfulness (Cannot make Deception checks.) Secret (age, sapience, membership in the Gray Seal.) Wanderlust (maybe tomorrow he'll want to settle down/until tomorrow, the whole world is his home.)
 

Davies

Explorer
Edeth
MichellePfeifferWasp-1-S.jpg


Despite what she sometimes claims, the woman who just goes by her given name these days has not actually lived more than a thousand years, though she is that far removed from her birth on Cherab. She was born during an age of gods and monsters, much like that which Earth has recently known, but one which ended in war between these miracle-men and -women, and ultimately between them and the mundane examples of their species. The war ended with the most powerful of these 'rising stars' departing from Cherab with the promise that they would one day return, leaving the Chiraben people to pull themselves out of the ashes of the greatest conflict in their history.

Though she lost most of her family to the war, Edeth Caulker found it in her heart to forgive the overfolk for what they'd done. Taking solace in a strong belief that all things occurred according to the Master Plan of the Increate, she became a social worker in her adult years, working patiently and tirelessly to help those who'd lost even more than she had in the war and also in the false peace that followed. She believed, and spoke, of her belief that all these troubles were only temporary, and that humanity would rise above them all, even following the rising stars out among the true stars, and hopefully meeting them in greater wisdom than they'd shown so far.

She was thirty-two when she met the man and woman who'd change her life. He called himself Hayez, and she could tell that he was a soldier of some sort, yet different from any men of that type that she'd met; a flirt, yes, but a man of heart and hope, too. She went by the strange name Deleh, and showed clear marks of having been twisted by the war, but despite that seemed to be a physician and scientist; whatever else she might be, though, she was the person who belonged at Hayez's side, for all of time to come, whether either of them admitted it or not. They took a room in the house that Edeth managed, and helped her out at the soup kitchen she helped to run, while searching (so they claimed) for a lost friend of theirs. Well, this was a land of the lost, after all.

After a week, she began to notice a certain tension in the way that Hayez and Deleh spoke to her, as though they'd learned something horrible about her. She grew frustrated enough to confront them about this, and Hazyez broke down and confessed the truth. They were time travelers, from a distant future where the Chiraben had spread beyond their world as she hoped they might. Star travelers themselves, they had discovered a world with a portal to anywhere and anywhen in the universe, and another member of their crew, a sick man, had fled into the past and changed it. Instead of an Imperium and a Technate in uneasy peace, there now existed a galaxy in an endless war. Hayez and Deleh had passed through the portal to learn what had changed history and set right what had gone wrong.

Naturally, Edeth asked what that change had been. Hayez hesitated, and it was left to Deleh to tell her that the change had been that Edeth had lived instead of dying, in three days time.

Rejecting the notion that Edeth had to die for the future to live, however, Hayez now proposed that they simply remove her from her proper time, in the belief that this would have the same effect as her death. They could return for their crewman later. Dazed by these revelations, Edeth agreed and went with them to the place where they had entered her world, passing between the Pillars of Eternity for the first time. To their horror, however, the Pillars (which could speak, apparently) revealed that this had just made matters worse. The world created by the first change had been one where recognizable people were at war; the galaxy after this change was one where inhuman monsters streamed across space and warred with each other. Panicking, Edeth passed between the Pillars of Eternity for a second time, returning to the day she was supposed to die.

There, she found the missing crewman, and learned that the sickness that Deleh spoke about was an addiction to narcotics. She helped him as best she could, learning from his rants that the world from which he came was no paradise, no utopia, and that he was more typical of the people who lived there than the heroic Hayez and Deleh. This was a man who believed in nothing but himself, and not really even in that, and Edeth recognized in him so many of the sad, broken men who'd filled her own world. She helped him nonetheless. He was as the Increate had made him.

And then, events took the course that they were meant to do. She left to perform an errand, taking comfort in routine. As she made her way back to the house, she saw Deleh and Hayez pursuing their 'sick' comrade down the street, and knew that this was the moment. Yet there she was on the sidewalk, safe and sound. She knew that the sick man, for all his nihilism, would not push her into the traffic. She knew that even if he did, Hayez would rescue her, and that Deleh, despite her coldness, could not bring herself to stop him. She was going to live ... and the future would die.

It was not a utopia, that gave rise to these people. It was just a world, a collection of worlds, that seemed to be worth fighting for. That seemed to be worth ... and with that thought, Edeth Caulker calmly and deliberately stepped off of the sidewalk into the path of an oncoming truck. It struck her, breaking her leg, and she flew forward into the pavement, breaking her neck. After a moment of great pain, she died.

The three TSA officers passed between the Pillars of Eternity, shattered by what they'd seen, and quickly got the hell out of there. For a moment, all was silent on the ancient planet. And then another traveler passed a third time through the Pillars of Eternity. "But," said Edeth, "I died."

"Yes," said the Pillars. Apparently, they shielded those who passed between them from not only the potentially lethal paradoxes of time travel, but from all things. Her adventure continued.

A few weeks later, one who wielded a Power Prism came to investigate the outcome of the TSV Adventure's visit to the Pillars of Eternity, and found Edeth there. They took her with them when they returned to Aperion, and in time she joined their company, and in the thirty years since, she has done many great things and much good. Most recently, she volunteered for a mission that has brought her to Earth, a world so much like the one that she left so long ago that it takes her breath away. What she will do, now that she is in Argus' care, remains to be seen. There is a fugitive wielding a Power Prism here, who needs to be dealt with, and there is much other work to be done. But Edeth has never backed down from a challenge yet.

Edeth - PL 10

Abilities:
STR
11/1 | STA 2 | AGL 4 | DEX 3 | FGT 4 | INT 3 | AWE 7 | PRE 5

Powers:
"A Trick or Two":
Feature 1 (can hide Power Prism within her body, but cannot use it in in this state.) - 1 point
Power Prism: Removable (-22 points)
  • Force Field: Linked Sustained Impervious Protection 12; Linked Sustained Immunity 10 (life support) - 34 points
  • Offensive Applications: Array (27 points)
    • Basic Blast: Ranged Damage 13, Accurate - 27 points
    • Exo-Armor: Enhanced Advantage 3 (Close Attack 3); Enhanced Strength 10; Enhanced Strength 4, Limited to Lifting - 1 point
    • Explosive Blast: Ranged Burst Area Damage 9 - 1 point
    • Hallucinator: Illusion 9 (all senses), Limited to One Subject, Resistable by Will - 1 point
    • Mind Probe: Cumulative Mind Reading 9 - 1 point
    • Stun Blast: Ranged Affliction 13 (Resisted by Will; Dazed, Stunned, Incapacitated), Accurate - 1 point[
    • Tractor-Presser Beam: Move Object 13, Precise - 1 point
  • Phased Flight: Flight 11 (4000 MPH), Aquatic; Insubstantial 3; Movement 3 (environmental adaptation [zero-g], space flight 2) - 44 points
Translator Circuit: Comprehend 2 (understand and speak all languages) - 6 points

Advantages:
Accurate Attack, Assessment, Defensive Attack, Improved Initiative, Move-by Action, Ultimate Effort (Persuasion).

Skills:
Expertise: Galactic 8 (+11), Expertise: Streetwise 5 (+8), Insight 5 (+12), Perception 4 (+11), Persuasion 5 (+10), Stealth 5 (+9).

Offense:
Initiative +8
Unarmed +7/+4 (Close Damage 11/1)
Basic Blast +5 (Ranged Damage 13)
Stun Blast +5 (Ranged Will 13)
Explosive Blast -- (Ranged Burst Area Damage 9)

Defense:
Dodge 6, Parry 4, Fortitude 4, Toughness 14/2, Will 14

Totals:
Abilities 58 + Powers 95 + Advantages 6 + Skills 16 + Defenses 11 = 186 points

Complications:
Responsibility--Motivation. Old-Fashioned Language. Power Loss
(prism energy depletes.) Secrets (many.)
 

Trismegistus

Explorer
Davies, It just amazes me how deft you are at creating these characters and how detailed their backstories are. You are definitely to be commended for your ability. A million thanks for sharing your creations here - you are truly an inspiration and it is very much appreciated.

A while back my gaming group and I tried generating characters using the DC Adventures books. After about 2 hours of trying to decipher the generation process we finally gave up. A real pity as I would have loved to see my canon hero "Virgo" (seen below with Classic Suit Superman) be a part of a campaign set in the DC Universe.

I think part of the reason we had difficulties was that players really need to have a very precise idea of their character's strengths and weaknesses rather than a basic framework. It also would have helped if we had a copy of the 3E M&M Deluxe Hero's Handbook -- at the time we only had the 4-volume DC Adventures set to work with.

I'm hoping that one day we'll revisit DCA and give it another shot.

Friends Final 40.png


(Artwork: "Earth and Steel" by Caio Cacau)
 


Davies

Explorer
Cait Reed
reed-S.png


Caitlyn Reed (born Rhonda Craig in 1993) went to work for Argus immediately after her high school graduation, in hopes that working for the company would get her out of the United Kingdom. For a few years, it worked, and she lived in countries all over the world, maintaining a cover as a journalist in imitation of the recent success of Gail Astro, which had inspired many imitators within Argus. She was less than thrilled when, in 2014, this job took her back to the United Kingdom on an assignment to become the handler for the recently emerged superhero Prydwen.

Just as annoying to her as going back to the country she'd always viewed as a prison was what she was forced to do in order to support her cover -- namely going to work for the tabloid press. Every day, she had to deny and betray everything she valued in order to present the appearance of a heartless, spiteful reporter who only cared about presenting slanted stories to serve the agenda of the paper's owners, who were blatantly in collusion with the worst elements of the nation's leadership. She even had to keep up the act while dealing with Prydwen, whom she admired, by accusing her of already having done things that she wanted the Knight of the Shield to do, knowing that the hero would investigate these situations and act appropriately.

It got the job done, on more than one occasion, but it was exhausting. She was almost relieved when she started to detect signs that Prydwen might be on to her deceit, as it would mean that Cait would have to be pulled off of this assignment and given another one. Annoyingly, when she reported this back to her superiors, they decided to play it a little more risky than they usually have, and kept her on the assignment. Frustrated by this, Cait ended up taking more risks on her assignment than she ordinarily would have, and ended up having herself flagged as a potential Argus asset by a certain branch of the Secret Service.

Thus, about a year later, Cait Reed died ... and unfortunately, death was not the end. She's still not sure why Dracula himself chose her, out of all the prospective Argus agents he could have picked, as the first of a trio of women to replace the 'brides' that he'd lost in his conflict with Argus in New York, but chosen she was, and turned into one of the Undead. She has, very much against her will, given him everything she knows about Argus and its operations, and then been commanded to remain as a hidden double agent within the organization's structure until her Master commands her to take further action.

Cait's existence is a miserable one. She is fully able to go about in the sun, though she usually 'sleeps' during the day instead. Initially, she resisted her impulse to drink blood when not directly ordered to do so by her Master. That lasted until the first time that she suffered a blackout from her bloodthirst and awakened to find that she'd killed a co-worker at the paper. Whatever attempts she might have made to maintain a human morality died then, and she has since committed many murders in the name of feeding her hunger.

So far, she has managed to avoid killing any innocents -- however, she restricts that definition to 'children'. She has no hope that this will last, beyond a hope that someone will realize what she's doing and put an end to her. Even that dies when her Master's voice invades her thoughts and gives her orders she dare not disobey. She envies the other two "brides", who are simply used to seduce and assassinate targets for their master, rather than actually betraying everything they once believed. If she'd known that it was going to turn out like this, she never would have bothered to develop any ideals in the first place ...

As yet, Argus agents in the United Kingdom, while aware that they are being hunted by vampires, have no idea that one of them has been claimed, rather than killed. Neither does Prydwen yet realize why someone she was starting to view as an ally has been dodging her recently.

Cait Reed -- PL 8

Abilities
STR
6 | STA - | AGL 3 | DEX 2 | FGT 6 | INT 1 | AWE 2 | PRE 3

Powers:
Blood Drain:
Linked Damage 1 and Weaken Stamina 9 (Resisted by Fortitude), Grab-Based, Limited to Draining 1 rank per round, Quirk (only against targets who could be affected by the Damage effect, whether or not they are) - 3 points
Blood Link: Mental Communication 3, Limited to anyone who drinks her blood; Mind-Reading 6, Sensory Link, Limited to anyone who drinks her blood - 21 points
Ghostly: Permanent Concealment 8 (audio, radio, visual), Limited to machines, Quirk (no reflection in mirrors) - 7 points
Spider-Climb: Movement 1 (wall-crawling) - 2 points
Undead Invulnerability: Immortality 6, Limited (not when staked or beheaded); Immunity 30 (Fortitude Effects); Impervious Protection 7, Limited, Not against mystical damage; Regeneration 10, Source (coffin lined with soil from Hertfordshire.) - 48 points

Advantages:
Attractive, Connected, Contacts, Equipment 1, Fascinate (Persuasion), Improved Hold, Language 3 (several), Power Attack, Ranged Attack 3, Startle

Equipment:
Smartphone and 3 points of equipment as needed.

Skills:
Close Combat: Unarmed 3 (+9), Deception 5 (+8), Expertise: Current Events 5 (+6), Expertise: Streetwise 5 (+6), Insight 6 (+9), Intimidation 7 (+10), Investigation 6 (+7), Perception 8 (+11), Persuasion 8 (+11), Stealth 7 (+10).

Offense:
Initiative +3
Unarmed +9 (Close Damage 6)
Blood Drain +6 (Close Damage 1 and Close Weaken Stamina 9)

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

Totals:
Abilities 36 + Powers 81 + Advantages 14 + Skills 30 + Defense 10 = 171 points

Complications:
Unwilling Loyalty--Motivation. Compulsion
(Must be invited into any dwelling the Master does not own). Power Loss (All powers except Undead Invulnerability cannot be used in daylight hours.) Secret (vampiric double agent.) Weakness (Can be held back by a holy symbol in the hands of a believer or by garlic).
 
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