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

Great thread @Davies - M&M is a really nice ruleset (with a couple of annoying issues...) that just doesn't get the attention or love it deserves. Great to read all your character writeups - I love reading about peoples' superhero settings. I've got a folder full of these myself.
 

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Davies

Explorer
Sean Driscoll
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Actually getting into position to be a handler to an asset is seldom an easy task. The difficulty increases dramatically when the asset is a former agent who knows all the tricks that one might use. Fortunately, Argus will supply the prospective handler with information about almost every method that has or has not worked in the past, so that they can develop an appropriate plan.

So it was that when, in the summer of 2014, Detective Sergeant Sean Driscoll of the CID was ordered by his other employer to become the handler for the recently-emerged Robin Hood, he let out a low groan. He was supposed to get through the no-doubt completely paranoid defenses set up by an ex-Argus agent who was now an illegal vigilante? How was he supposed to accomplish this? Driscoll was, he flattered himself, a fairly good detective, and doing well in his ongoing infiltration of Scotland Yard, but he had no illusions that someone who'd been inserted into the bloody Powerhouse as Argus' inside man wouldn't see right through him.

Driscoll finally decided to use the Hayes method -- honesty and forthrightness -- and contacted Robin Hood through an online classified advertisement that set up a meet. Well, sort of a meet -- Mason never actually said anything, and Driscoll wouldn't have put it past the man to get someone dressed up in his costume and use them as a decoy, but on the other hand he stabbed an arrow through a business card that had an e-mail address on it and tossed it at Driscoll. Driscoll used the addy to pass on the information that Argus wanted to have passed on, to good effect in the next few months.

Up until fairly recently, Sean Driscoll believed that he could do both of his jobs -- as a CID Sergeant and an Argus agent -- without contradiction. Yes, he had to overlook a fair amount of corruption and brutality in the CID, but dealing with such things was not, strictly speaking, his job, and he did what he could to ameliorate the situation when possible. The revelations from the top of Argus, since 2019, about what is actually going on in the UK have genuinely horrified him, and he now lives in a state of quiet desperation that is much worse than the English way. He honestly wishes he'd never left Belfast ...

Sean Driscoll -- PL 4

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

Advantages:
Benefit (Police Detective), Contacts, Defensive Attack, Defensive Roll, Equipment 2.

Equipment:
Light pistol (Ranged Damage 3), handcuffs.

Skills:
Athletics 2 (+3), Close Combat: Unarmed 2 (+5), Deception 5 (+8), Expertise: Current Events 5 (+7), Expertise: Police Detective 6 (+8), Expertise: Streetwise 6 (+8), Insight 5 (+8), Intimidation 5 (+8), Investigation 7 (+9), Perception 4 (+7), Persuasion 4 (+6), Ranged Combat: Guns 3 (+4), Vehicles 4 (+5).

Offense:
Initiative +1
Unarmed +5 (Close Damage 1)
Light Pistol +4 (Ranged Damage 3)

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

Totals:
Abilities 32 + Powers 0 + Advantages 6 + Skills 29 + Defenses 7 = 74 points

Complications:
Justice--Motivation. Appropriate Paranoia. Secret
(Argus agent).
 

Davies

Explorer
Geena Grundy
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After Marc Bolton became Cadmus -- or, from the public's perspective, after he founded Cadmus Enterprises, which employs an anonymous individual to test pilot the latest version of the Spartoi power armor under the alias 'Cadmus' -- his company underwent quite a few personnel changes in a short period of time. Generally, the majority of people don't care to be employed by a corporation that's very likely to come under supervillain attack unless they are absurdly well-paid, somewhat psychotic, or brainwashed -- or any combination of the above. Neither the first nor the last applied to the employees of Cadmus Enterprises, and Bolton really did try to avoid employing the other category of prospective employees.

In particular, he found it difficult to find a personal assistant, going through seven in the first year of Cadmus' operations alone. And then, as Bolton was getting set to interview replacements for his current PA, he witnessed something interesting. An employee of the Muscle Factory, a criminal organization he'd spent a fair amount of time trying to break down as Cadmus, broke into his company's reception area and threatened his current receptionist. Bolton began to put on his armor, but he watched as the majority of the people expecting to be interviewed either cowered or fled, but one of them waited patiently until the muscleman was looking elsewhere then smoothly drew a Meta-Taser and shot him at point blank range, leaving him twitching on the floor. Bolton promptly headed down to meet his new personal assistant for the first time.

Despite what you're thinking, it wasn't a set-up; while Geena Grundy had been sent there by Argus to infiltrate Cadmus' life, her employers had not had any idea that the Muscle Factory was about to do something so blatant, and counted on Geena's well-designed CV to get her the job, rather than the cool head and excellent aim that she'd also developed in training. She nevertheless accepted the job, quickly confirming Argus' suspicions that Bolton and Cadmus were one and the same, and then feigning to 'accidentally' discover the truth in Bolton's presence. Bolton chose to take Geena into his confidence rather than risk firing her and trusting to her non-disclosure contract, and so they've continued to work together well.

Bolton believes that Geena is a genuine friend to him, who regards his activities as Cadmus as a necessary evil and hopes that he can one day pass the job on to someone else. He'd be startled and hurt to learn that, while she certainly doesn't wish him any harm, she considers their relationship entirely professional, and views him as completely expendable in the pursuit of Argus' goals -- and her own personal agenda. Geena fully intends to have a Director's chair at Argus before she turns forty, which is six years. She might cut corners or doctor her after-action reports to do this, but blatant illegality, or betraying Argus to its enemies, is not something she'd even momentarily consider.

If Bolton were to pass on the identity of Cadmus to another party, she'd cultivate his replacement as an asset and get as close to them as possible, too, as long as it didn't involve romance. She doesn't believe in mixing business with pleasure, and has heard too many horror stories about agents who got too close to their assets to ever consider doing that. As long as that replacement continued working for Cadmus Enterprises, she'd do the same, and even continue to socialize with Mark. If not ... then not.

Geena Grundy -- PL 5

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

Advantages:
Attractive, Contacts, Defensive Roll, Equipment 6, Improved Critical 2 (Meta-Taser), Language (Spanish), Precise Shot (ranged/cover), Quick Draw, Ranged Attack 2.

Equipment:
Meta-taser pistol (Ranged Affliction 5 [Fortitude; Dazed, Stunned, Incapacitated]), smartphone, 18 points of equipment as needed.

Skills:
Athletics 4 (+5), Close Combat: Unarmed 3 (+6), Deception 6 (+8), Expertise: Business 7 (+9), Expertise: Current Events 4 (+6), Insight 4 (+6), Intimidation 3 (+5), Investigation 6 (+8), Perception 5 (+7), Persuasion 6 (+8), Technology 6 (+8), Vehicles 2 (+5).

Offense:
Initiative +1
Unarmed +6 (Damage 0)
Meta-Taser Pistol +5 (Ranged Fortitude 5, Crit 18-20)

Defense:
Dodge 5, Parry 6, Fortitude 3, Toughness 4/2, Will 3.

Totals:
Abilities 30 + Powers 0 + Advantages 15 + Skills 28 + Defenses 9 = 82 points

Complications:
Ambition--Motivation. Professionalism. Secret
(Argus agent.)
 

Davies

Explorer
"Ken" Kang-su Jyeong
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Born in North Korea, Kang-su Jyeong was the son of a minor party functionary who narrowly avoided the decapitating attack that annihilated virtually every other member of the government of the Democratic People's Republic prior to the Pythonian invasion. While he and his wife were unharmed, four-year-old Kang-su suffered a serious head injury in the attack. In order to save him, his father contacted the American CIA and turned over information about what remained of the nation's security to them in exchange for new lives in America. It seems likely that some of this information helped ensure that the second invasion, by the South Koreans, was a success.

The operation that saved Kang-su's life was also a success, and he grew up as a typical teenager in a California household that spoke both Korean and English. Feeling that he owed a great debt to the country that had saved both him and his family, and despising what had become of the land of his birth, "Ken" Jyeong sought and found employment with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, hoping to be assigned to the department which handled spies from the Empire. That never quite materialized, and instead he found himself working on several cases with the telepathic agent Helice.

Ken was honestly a bit skeptical about Helice's abilities -- the idea that someone could read thoughts didn't seem at all consistent with what he'd learned in university about current theories of how the mind worked, and he decided that Helice was just using superpowered versions of cold reading and similar mentalist's tricks. The fact that she never managed to accurately read his own thoughts cemented this opinion. As it happened, she really could not read his thoughts; the damage from his long-ago injuries had made his thoughts indecipherable to telepathy. While he could be telepathically influenced in other ways, this often produced unusual results. It all made him a rather effective partner for her, though she doubted that he would have believed any of this if he was told about it.

After Helice left the Bureau to work for Heroic Enterprises, Ken's own career began to stagnate. He became the victim of a round of layoffs in 2015, and started looking for other work. Argus, having learned of his neurological peculiarity, contacted him and offered him a job, arranging for him to have a cover job in the Indiana State Police's Criminal Investigation Division -- not all that coincidentally, an organization that frequently had contact with Helice. They were soon reunited, and Ken was in a good position to become Helice's handler.

While she can't read his mind, Helice is herself a good enough detective that she's long since figured out that Ken is working for Argus as well as his official post. Since she knows him to be a fundamentally honest person, she has chosen not to expose him, and takes advantage of the leads he provides, verifying them personally beforehand but recognizing them as useful. As such, they have a very good working relationship, and so she'll go to some lengths to ensure that it can continue, rather than doing things that would lead to her being assigned someone different, whom she might not be able to trust completely.

"Ken" Kang-su Jyeong - PL 5

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

Powers:
Neurological Quirk:
Immunity 5 (mind reading); Perception Range Nullify Telepathy 5, Randomize, Reaction (when targeted) - 30 points

Advantages:
Benefit (state police officer), Contacts, Defensive Roll, Equipment 2, Language (Korean, English [bilingual]), Second Chance (mind control).

Equipment:
Light Pistol (Ranged Damage 3), smartphone, handcuffs.

Skills:
Athletics 4 (+5), Close Combat: Unarmed 2 (+5), Deception 2 (+4), Expertise: Civics 2 (+4), Expertise: Current Events 2 (+4), Expertise: Streetwise 2 (+4), Insight 5 (+8), Intimidation 4 (+6), Investigation 6 (+8), Perception 4 (+7), Persuasion 3 (+5), Ranged Combat: Guns 4 (+5), Technology 2 (+4), Vehicles 4 (+5).

Offense:
Initiative +1
Unarmed +5 (Close, Damage 1)
Pistol +5 (Ranged, Damage 3)

Defense:
Dodge 6, Parry 5, Fortitude 3, Toughness 4/2, Will 7.

Totals:
Abilities 30 + Powers 30 + Advantages 6 + Skills 22 + Defenses 12 = Total 101 points

Complications:
Responsibility--Motivation. Delusion
('telepathy is just trickery'.) Hatred (Empire of Korea.) Secret (Argus agent.)
 

Davies

Explorer
Simon Garnoff
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Simon Ilyanovich Garnoff led a surprisingly comfortable life in post-Soviet Russia. His father adapted to the changes well, and ruthlessly built a small fortune while constantly looking for opportunities to make it a large fortune. When Simon was identified as a potential hyperbrain, Ilya Garnoff's signature was on the papers authorizing the think tank to take charge of him almost before the psychologist finished talking. Unfortunately, Simon proved to be only a mundanely talented and clever young man, washing out of the think tank's program when he was fifteen. His father was annoyed at the loss of the subsidy he was getting, but just added it to the long list of ways that his son was a disappointment. For his own part, Simon was only slightly upset that he'd probably never again see the one friend he'd made at the think tank, a boy named Kuznetsov. Life went on.

Usually, it takes more than a single generation to erase all the gains that a previous generation has made. In the case of the Garnoff 'dynasty', the process was slightly quicker. After his father's death during Cerebron's attack, Simon quickly realized that he was not nearly as callous as his father had been, nor as capable of bending people to his designs. Therefore, he deliberately let most of his family's businesses slip out of his hands, managing things just well enough to maintain a comfortable but not really luxurious life for himself, notably holding on to some real estate holdings that gave him a reasonably secure income. His mother was as happy with her second marriage as she could be, his younger sister ... well, she'd never had much use for him and so her change of circumstances didn't bother him. Much.

And then, in 2007, while visiting one of his properties to check on some noise reports, he was startled to find an injured man in a white costume collapsed on the floor of the building's show room. Parovoy, the vigilante, had been using it as a safe house and passed out there after a difficult fight with some bratva goons. Simon didn't even think about calling the police, of course, but he wasn't sure exactly sure about the better course of action. He settled for treating the man's wounds, which led to his discovery of Parovoy's secret identity as his old friend.

Pavel Kuznetsov was no less surprised to be reunited with him. He reluctantly discussed his situation with Simon, in the process convincing the latter that (a) Pavel was clearly insane and (b) Pavel needed help -- not just psychiatric help, but actual material assistance. He found himself providing that help, initially just sheltering Parovoy, then providing limited investigative backup, and ultimately joining the vigilante, some agents and the superhuman crew in preventing some people from taking over Russia two years later. In the process, Simon became known to Argus, who offered him help in learning how to protect himself a bit better if he was going to do this sort of thing.

Of course, there was a price tag, and so Simon has found himself acting as Pavel's handler for the organization. He's not all that happy about the situation, but having some sort of safety net if everything goes completely south -- which he's sure that it will -- is probably a good idea. It's not easy being Pavel's friend, after all! He gives Argus the bare minimum of information about Parovoy's activities, generally only what they could find out from other sources, and tries to steer him away from his association with Ugolev, whom Simon neither likes nor trusts. Not all that successfully, unfortunately, but at least Pavel has the sense to steer clear of the evil old man's daughter ...

Simon Garnoff -- PL 6

Abilities:
STR
1 | STA 0 | AGL 1 | DEX 3 | FGT 4 | INT 5 | AWE 2 | PRE 0

Advantages:
Benefit 2 (independently wealthy), Contacts, Defensive Roll, Equipment 6, Improvised Tools, Language (English, [Russian is native]), Well-Informed.

Equipment:
Meta-taser pistol (Ranged Affliction 5 [Fortitude; Dazed, Stunned, Incapacitated]), car, smartphone, 8 points of equipment as needed.

Skills:
Expertise: Business 4 (+9), Expertise: Science 5 (+10), Expertise: Streetwise 4 (+9), Insight 5 (+7), Investigation 4 (+9), Perception 6 (+8), Technology 6 (+11), Treatment 2 (+7).

Offense:
Initiative +1
Unarmed +4 (Close Damage 1)
Meta-Taser +3 (Ranged Fortitude 5)

Defense:
Dodge 4, Parry 4, Fortitude 3, Toughness 2/0, Will 5

Totals:
Abilities 32 + Advantages 13 + Skills 18 + Defenses 9 = 72 points

Complications:
Responsibility--Motivation. Friend
(Parovoy.) Secret (Argus agent.)
 

Davies

Explorer
Remontnik
remontnik-S.png

Present day
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First age

Private Petr Ugolev was a relative latecomer to the SNM, transferred to it in 1964 after his superiors in the rifle brigade to which he'd originally been assigned discovered that he'd rebuilt his assault rifle into an energy projecting weapon as something of a lark. Nothing in Ugolev's background suggested he possessed such talents; he'd been an average student at best in his youth in Stalingrad. It soon became clear that he was what the Americans dubbed a Hyperbrain, and of a type which had been fairly common in the late 19th century -- the self-taught genius. Unfortunately, this made it difficult for other scientists to analyze or reproduce his discoveries, since the language he used to describe them was also entirely of his own creation.

Thus, rather than using his talents in a laboratory setting, Ugolev was given the code name 'Repairman' and assigned to the Assembly. He took this with studied insouciance. Sychkin was not any worse than the officers that he'd had up to this point, and honestly a bit better, if one stayed out of the way of the little dominance games that he and Rafikov were playing, and also had the sense not to fall for the different sort of games that Pulya played. The latter, at least, was easy -- there were plenty of other women made available to the Heroes of the Soviet Union.

Of course, Ugolev was well aware that the comforts he now enjoyed could easily be taken away if he disappointed his superiors. His win-loss record in conflicts with the Iconoclast generally favored the American, but he was able to make up for his defeats in other areas, against lesser-known heroes. Truthfully, he didn't really enjoy these games either, and would have preferred to use his talents to direct civil engineering projects. But, at least back then, it seemed better to act the part of the loyal soldier.

Things started to change after the nightmare in Vietnam. He'd been fortunate enough to be reserved for the planning department of the operation, and so was unaffected by the events, where even the other two survivors were traumatized by what happened. That left him more or less in charge of the Assembly's operations, and he found that he enjoyed that role. Of course, he had less to work with than Sychkin had. There had always been a few hangers-on in the group, people who variously had only very minor powers, had physical mutations that just set them apart, or didn't have any of that and yet pretended to have abilities, with the ministry encouraging such delusions or schemes in hopes that they might fool the Americans, too. Now these also-rans more than outnumbered the serious members of the group.

When Ugolev's position as the Assembly's commander was formalized after the other two died in 1982, he finally took steps to deal with this situation. The cranks were excised, while the feebly-powered and twisted were given the opportunity to get training that would make them them capable combatants, infiltrators and assassins. In many cases, he also arranged for them to receive cybernetics that could enhance their talents to make them better agents. With these agents, the Assembly became the Soviet Union's effective response to the Pythonian Insurgency, and is acknowledged to have done rather well in the role.

All good things must come to an end, however, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union also meant an end to the Assembly. Ugolev was given the opportunity to take up a new role with the Federal Security Service, which he graciously declined, preferring to cultivate his rose garden. By that point, he knew where enough of the bodies were buried that they couldn't really hold him, and so he became an ordinary citizen of the Republic. That lasted all of two weeks before he started marketing cancer-free cigarettes to the public, swiftly making him into a multi-millionaire.

In the years since then, Petr Ugolev has continued to quietly monitor Russia's superpower situation, arranging things to benefit himself with occasional thoughts of how they might help the general public. He has assisted both Parovoy and Baba Yaga at various times, and is one of the very few people who has figured out the true origin of the latter. However, he also provides superscience inventions to the Russian mob, mostly to give his designs necessary field-testing without much concern for how that testing impacts the public. His primary goal, as ever, is his own comfort and security ... and a little bit of fun.

The one person for whom he cares even the slightest is his daughter, born in 1990. However, his affection for her does not translate to respect for her, and so she has abandoned the family name to engage in anarchistic mad science all over the world, under the alias 'Zloba' ("Curse" ... or "Jinx".) He reads the accounts of her activities with annoyance, but also just a little pride, too, in the way that she keeps the Americans on their toes in the same way he did. If she was ever in serious trouble, he'd try to help her, though she wouldn't welcome his aid. Nobody ever appreciates the repairman until they really need him, after all.

Remontnik -- PL 11

Abilities:
STR
-1 | STA 0 | AGL 0 | DEX 3 | FGT 2 | INT 8 | AWE 3 | PRE 2

Powers:
Blaster Rifle:
Array (16 points); Removable (-6 points)
  • Agonizer Setting: Ranged Affliction 8 (Resisted by Will; Dazed & Vulnerable, Defenseless & Stunned), Extra Condition, Limited Degree - 16 points
  • Standard Setting: Ranged Damage 8 - 1 point
  • Stun Setting: Ranged Affliction 8 (Resisted by Fortitude; Dazed, Stunned, Incapacitated) - 1 point
Concealed Force Field Device: Sustained Impervious Protection 6, Subtle; Removable (-3 points) - 10 points
Escape Switch: Extended Only Teleport 6, Limited to headquarters; Removable (-1 point) - 5 points
Psychic Shielding: Impervious Will 9, Limited to Mental Effects - 5 points

Advantages:
Benefit 5 (Billionaire), Connected, Defensive Roll 2, Equipment X, Inventor, Language (English, [Russian is native]), Ranged Attack 5, Well-Informed.

Skills:
Deception 12 (+14), Expertise: Business 7 (+15), Expertise: Science 4 (+12), Expertise: Streetwise 7 (+15), Intimidation 12 (+14), Persuasion 11 (+13), Sleight of Hand 8 (+11), Stealth 12 (+12), Technology 8 (+16), Vehicles 9 (+12).

Offense:
Initiative +0
Unarmed +2 (Close Damage -1)
Standard Setting +8 (Ranged Damage 8)
Agonizer Setting +8 (Ranged Will 8)

Defense:
Dodge 5, Parry 5, Foritude 3, Toughness 11/6/5/0, Will 13.

Totals:
Abilities 38 + Powers 32 + Advantages 15 + Skills 45 + Defenses 23 = 153 points

Complications:
Amusement--Motivation. Chauvinist
(national and sex.) Elderly. Family (daughter.)

In the first age, he had STR 1, STA 2, AGL 3, FGT 4, no Escape Switch or Psychic Shielding, only had 1 rank of Defensive Roll, Inventor and Ranged Attack as Advantages, no Expertise: Business, 3 ranks less of Technology, 4 ranks less of each of his other skills, Dodge 8, Parry 8 and Will 9.
 
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Davies

Explorer
The Untouchable
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Even before Gregor Sychkin (b. 1933) became the Soviet Union's first known super-powered operative, he was a remarkable individual in many ways. Towering two meters and thirteen centimeters (less than an inch under seven feet, to reactionaries who cling to an Imperial system) in height with physical power to match, he was also a brilliant mind with a decided knack for negotiating the frequently dirty politics of working within the Committee of State Security -- better known to the West as the KGB. And then, late in 1956, he demonstrated superpowers.

The exact origin of the Untouchable's famous ability to make himself into a ghost-like figure has never been fully explained. For obvious reasons, the Soviets treated the origins of their superpower assets as state secrets, kept within the KGB's archives. Yet when those were finally opened to the public, explaining the origins of the rest of the SNM, nothing was revealed about what had sparked Sychkin's powers. It seemed fairly likely that the man himself had taken steps to ensure that no information about the source of his powers was available to be used against him. The most likely scenario is that he had been caught up in an experiment, like most of his colleagues. But it might be that his origins had something to do with the ancient families who had managed to survive the Revolution, and that his obfuscations were intended to conceal information about them, rather than himself.

Regardless, Sychkin was given the codename of Neprikasayemyy, or The Untouchable when his full powers were quantified by the KGB's resident scientists. Not only was he able to become an intangible, phantasmal being, he was also able to disrupt both electronics and the synapses of the human brain by bringing his supposedly ghostly hands into contact with them. On top of that, he soon learned how to transform others into intangible creatures, leaving them helpless to interact with the material world or even to ask for help. While the majority of those transformed in this manner eventually regained their substance, there are unconfirmed reports some never did so, eventually starving to death in their ghostly state.

Sychkin, a fervent Communist, was perfectly willing to use these powers against the enemies of his nation, and wound up being the cause of the very first 'team-up' between two American superheroes, when he provided additional muscle to a KGB sponsored smuggling ring, confronting the Cowl and the Futurian in the process. Despite the awkward teamwork between the two Americans, they were able to disassemble the operation and even capture the Untouchable. This early in the first age, however, the authorities were still learning how difficult it could be to contain a superpower, and he was able to escape with ease, returning home with useful intelligence to soften the sting of the operation's defeat. That would be the pattern of most of his activities in the years to follow.

When the SNM took form, Sychkin was the natural choice to lead, due to his experience, his raw power, and (especially) his clout. The Arachnid proved to be willing to follow his lead, but the arrogant Chelovek-Meteor clearly believed himself to be the superior choice, even after the humiliation he suffered at the hands of the American who took his name from him like some sort of trophy. This was the milieu that Pulya and later Remontnik, and all the second- and third-raters of the Assembly, found themselves dropped into the middle of. Pulya, at least, made her willingness to work under the Untouchable very clear. Their relationship was not without its bumps, to put it nicely, but he was starting to develop a genuine fondness for her shortly before he was ... involved ... in her death, during the Battle of Vietnam, under circumstances that led to him being rescued by the damned Komet.

In the aftermath, the Untouchable became increasingly convinced that he and his people had been subjected to an elaborate hoax in Vietnam, and that the Americans had deliberately destroyed their own, public super-agents while keeping a much more powerful group hidden from view. In the era of detente, his warnings were largely ignored. Had he not been assassinated in his sleep in 1982, during the rise of the Pythonian Insurgency, there's no telling how he would have responded to the challenge they posed, but he would likely have regarded them as a false flag operation by the Americans.

Untouchable (Neprikasayemyy) -- PL 10

Abilities:
STR
4 | STA 3 | AGL 0 | DEX 1 | FGT 8 | INT 3 | AWE 2 | PRE 4

Powers:
Density Decrease:
Linked Concealment 4 (hearing, radio); Flight 4 (32 MPH); Linked Insubstantial 4 (vulnerable to mystical); Linked Sustained Immunity 10 (life support) - 46 points
Disruption Attacks: Array (24 points)
  • Disrupt Electronics: Nullify Electronics 12, Affects Corporeal, Close, Simultaneous - 24 points
  • Disrupt Synapses: Affliction 12 (Resisted by Fortitude; Dazed, Stunned, Incapacitated), Affects Corporeal - 1 point
  • Drag into Oblivion: Affliction 8 (Resisted by Will; Dazed, Stunned, Transformed [to intangible]), Affects Corporeal, Affects Objects - 1 point
Advantages:
Chokehold, Connected, Defensive Roll 2, Fast Grab, Hide in Plain Sight, Improved Grab, Improved Hold, Improved Initiative, Leadership, Power Attack, Redirect, Set-up, Teamwork

Skills:
Close Combat: Unarmed 2 (+10), Deception 3 (+7), Expertise: Civcs 6 (+9), Expertise: Military 6 (+9), Expertise: Science 4 (+7), Insight 4 (+6), Intimidation 5 (+9), Investigation 4 (+7), Persuasion 5 (+9), Perception 4 (+6), Ranged Combat: Guns 6 (+7), Stealth 7 (+7), Technology 4 (+7).

Offense:
Initiative +4
Unarmed +10 (Close Damage 4)
Disrupt Synapses +8 (Close Fortitude 12)
Drag into Oblivion +8 (Close Will 8)

Defense:
Dodge 6, Parry 8, Fortitude 5, Toughness 8/3, Will 7

Totals:
Abilities 48 + Powers 72 + Advantages 14 + Skills 30 + Defenses 13 = 177 points

Complications:
Responsibility--Motivation. Properly Paranoid
(before 1971.) More Paranoid Than Proper (after 1971.) Relationshp (Pulya.) Rivalry (Krasnya-Kometa.)
 

Davies

Explorer
Krasnya-Kometa*
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There are not as many unanswered questions about the origins of Saveliy Rafikov's powers as there are those of some of the other members of the Assembly, but some have persisted long after the opening of the KGB's archives. While it's known that he was empowered by surviving the explosion of an experimental fighter jet while it was in air, the jet's specifications remain uncensored. It has long been assumed that the jet's engine was some new product of the Soviet equivalent of the Skunk Works, likely a micro-scale nuclear power plant, but there is some evidence that such devices were outside the reach of Soviet science in the late 1950s. A different theory has it that the jet was a perfectly normal if advanced aircraft, and that it encountered some as-yet unidentified phenomenon in the atmosphere which destroyed it and transformed Rafikov.

Regardless, when he was recovered from the crash site, unharmed, it was clear that he'd become something more than human. Months of testing then ensued, revealing that he had developed enormous, physics-defying strength, flesh and bone that were incredibly resistant to injury, eyesight that could accurately perceive objects at a distance of miles, and the ability to fly (and survive flying) at supersonic speeds. Intended as a much more visible example of the New Soviet Man, he was given months of training in the use of these powers ... months that resulted in his debut, as Chelovek-meteor, "Meteor Man", roughly a week after an American superpower known as the Meteor made his debut.

Being a test pilot is not a job conducive to humility. Much as with surgeons, the absolute self-confidence that it takes to strap oneself into an untested machine designed to push the limits of mechanical ingenuity tends to color one's attitudes when dealing with matters outside of that role, as well. So Chelovek-meteor, on joining the SNM, already had something of an attitude problem, and being forced to take orders from a KGB operative like the Untouchable didn't help matters. Rafikov made no secret of his belief that he should be the head of the Assembly instead, and the two of them clashed repeatedly, though there's no evidence that they ever came to blows -- of course, given that Sychkin could easily have avoided any of Rafikov's blows, that's not saying much.

In any event, matters began to change for him in 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Observing the blockade from a position in the stratosphere, Chelovek-meteor found himself annoyed and disgusted by the proceedings, and decided to intervene. Before he could descend to do so, however, the Meteor, piloting his spaceship, intercepted him, and captured him in its tractor beam after a brief chase. Expecting to be blasted by the ship's cannons, Rafikov was surprised that the Meteor left the safety of his ship to approach him, supply him with an earpiece that facilitated communication, and address him in Russian.

It was a somewhat hostile conversation, at first, but the Meteor's refusal to get angry eventually forced Rafikov to calm down as well, and admit that he was exceeding the orders that he'd been given in a way that would probably not make his superiors happy, even under the best of circumstances. On learning of Chelovek-meteor's grudge against him over their common name, the Meteor offered to change his, since he wasn't attached to it. That startled Rafikov, as did the Meteor's off-hand mention that he certainly didn't consider himself to be the example of American ingenuity that the press made him out to be. In the end, they parted with mutual respect.

But also with something else, something that Rafikov didn't mention to his superiors. That technology of his, that hint -- the only reasonable conclusion that made any sense was that the Meteor was actually from another world, an advanced, Communist world. And if such a utopia was possible elsewhere, it could happen here as well, as long as the defenders of Marxist-Leninism remained steadfast and cautious, rather than foolishly arrogant. Equipped with this new confidence, Rafikov persuaded the Ministry to change his alias, and so became Krasnya-kometa -- the Red Comet.

He didn't stop squabbling with the Untouchable, of course, since he still believed that he would be a much better leader. And once Pulya joined the group, he had another reason to compete, even though that never went anywhere. But more and more, he focused on just doing his job as best he could, protecting the people of the Union from threats mundane and paranormal, letting his actions speak for him. Ultimately, that led to him saving Sychkin's life during the Battle of Vietnam, flying them both away from Stardust at top speed while the Arachnid bought them both the seconds they needed to get clear with his own life.

The other man never stopped resenting him for that, but Rafikov didn't care. He'd come to a diametrically opposed conclusion about what happened that day. The eventual disappearance of the Meteor confirmed it in his mind; that war had been the tiniest, smallest battle of a war between aggressive capitalism and developing communism that continued, even out among the stars. They'd won, but the universe was filled with threats on Stardust's level. In the face of that, humanity must unite. He would spend the rest of his life pushing for such unity, for peaceful reconciliation with the West and the Chinese.

In 1982, at the start of the Pythonian Insurgency, Krasnya-kometa happened to be in Moscow. While unable to prevent the assassination of the Premier, he was on-sight when a high-yield fuel air explosive was discovered not far from the Kremlin, and flew it into the upper atmosphere. It exploded before he could fling it into orbit, apparently atomizing him. No remains were ever discovered, of course, and there has been speculation that he managed to survive even this, and went into hiding. If so, he has never emerged from it in the past forty years, and it is most likely that he died that day, within an hour of his most bitter rival.

Krasnya-kometa -- PL 10

Abilities:
STR
10 | STA 10 | AGL 3 | DEX 2 | FGT 6 | INT 3 | AWE 2 | PRE 3

Powers:
Astronomical Vision:
Senses 4 (hyper-extended vision 2) - 4 points
Invulnerability: Immunity 10 (life support); Impervious Toughness 10 - 20 points
Meteoric Flight: Flight 11 (4000 MPH) - 22 points
Mighty Power: Enhanced Strength 3, Limited to lifting - 3 points

Advantages:
Extraordinary Effort, Fearless, Improved Initiative, Inspire 2, Interpose, Move-by Action, Power Attack.

Skills:
Close Combat: Unarmed 3 (+9), Expertise: Military 6 (+9), Expertise: Science 5 (+8), Insight 6 (+8), Intimidation 5 (+8), Perception 8 (+10), Technology 5 (+8), Vehicles 8 (+10).

Offense:
Initiative +7
Unarmed +9 (Close Damage 10)

Defense:
Dodge 7, Parry 8, Fortitude 12, Toughness 10, Will 6

Totals:
Abilities 78 + Powers 49 + Advantages 8 + Skills 23 + Defenses 12 = 170 points

Complications:
Responsibility--Motivation. Arrogance
(until 1962.) Rivalry (Neprikasayemyy.) Tempered Caution (after 1962.)

* He was complicated, okay?
 

Davies

Explorer
The Arachnid
4106398-1431661-dd_510_0008-S.jpg


Of the core members of the SNM, the records pertaining to the origins of Ivan Lyutov, the Arachnid (Paukoobraznyy) were the least redacted among those contained in the KGB archives. It's likely that this results from the fact that his origins did not involve technology developed within the Soviet Union, but by a hostile entity. In early March, 1962, Lyutov was one of a team of Spetsnaz commandos sent to investigate and infiltrate an installation on an island north of Finland, operated by Hannes Zaharoff's organization. The installation turned out to be a biological science laboratory creating bizarre mutated and modified animals, most notably flying piranhas, and was destroyed in the action that followed.

During the operation, Lyutov was bitten by what seemed to be a bizarre hybrid of a spider and a scorpion, but seemed to recover quickly. During his debriefing, however, he was informed that his medical examination had indicated that he'd been mutated by the bite. Further tests revealed that he'd developed a superhuman physique and reflexes, the bewildering ability to adhere to walls, and a semi-precognitive danger-sense. The identity of the Arachnid was quickly developed for him, and he joined the other members of the Assembly when it made its debut on May Day of that year.

Privately, Lyutov had his doubts about this entire idea. It was far more showy and public than something that a commando, trained for stealth and discretion, should be doing. Still, he was also trained to obey orders and adapt to unfavorable conditions, so he did what he was told and stayed out of the way of the other two and their egos. As other members joined, he passed on advice to do the same to them, rarely giving them any help outside of missions beyond that. He looked out for himself, and they could do the same.

That callous behavior actually concealed a greater concern for him. Lyutov gradually became aware that he was having difficulty controlling his crueler impulses, often engaging in behavior that could only be called sadistic, particularly towards his romantic partners. He is known to have injured many and possibly murdered one of the second-stringer members of the Assembly. He believed this to be a side-affect of the mutations, but there's no real evidence to support that. To his credit, Lyutov seems to have been disgusted by his most vicious behavior, though possibly only because he regretted the lack of self-control that it demonstrated.

Regardless, his death was unquestionably heroic, sacrificing his own life in personal combat with Stardust to buy time for the Red Comet and the Untouchable to escape. Stardust proceeded to extract the Arachnid's blood and other vital fluids from his body, leaving his corpse a desiccated husk. It was recovered in the aftermath and supposedly buried in the Kremlin Wall, though there is some evidence that it was actually used for ongoing attempts to induce similar powers in others.

Those efforts had actually begun during the Arachnid's life, with at least one experiment, conducted in Cuba in 1967 on a political prisoner, having been a success, with the subject demonstrating additional powers that Lyutov did not possess. Before the prisoner could be vivisected to determine why he'd developed these abilities, however, he escaped from the laboratory and from Cuba, escaping to Florida and from there to Mexico. He began a new life there under the name Rafael Fuentes, occasionally fighting crime under the name el Arano -- just as his son and later grandson would also do.

The Arachnid (Paukoobraznyy) -- PL 9

Abilities:
STR
6 | STA 5 | AGL 8 | DEX 4 | FGT 8 | INT 1 | AWE 4 | PRE 2

Powers:
Spider-Movement:
Leaping 2 (30 feet); Movement 3 (Swinging, Wall-crawling 2) - 8 points
Spider-Senses: Enhanced Advantage 2 (Improved Initiative 2); Enhanced Defenses 8 (Dodge 4, Parry 4); Senses 3 (Danger Sense, Darkvision) - 13 points

Advantages:
Agile Feint, Close Attack 4, Equipment 5, Evasion 2, Great Endurance, Hide in Plain Sight, Move-by Attack, Ranged Attack 3, Redirect, Teamwork, Uncanny Dodge

Equipment:
25 points as needed for any given mission (often an assault rifle [Ranged Multiattack Damage 5]).

Skills:
Acrobatics 4 (+12), Athletics 4 (+10), Deception 6 (+8), Expertise: Military 6 (+7), Perception 6 (+10), Ranged Combat: Guns 2 (+6), Sleight of Hand 5 (+9), Stealth 3 (+11).

Offense:
Initiative +15
Unarmed +12 (Close Damage 6)

Defense:
Dodge 13/9, Parry 12/8, Fortitude 6, Toughness 5, Will 6

Totals:
Abilities 76 + Powers 21 + Advantages 21 + Skills 18 + Defense 4 = 140 points

Complications:
Patriotism--Motivation. Sadistic Tendencies. Weakness
(pest control chemicals.)
 

Davies

Explorer
Pulya
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Sofya Shibalova was by all accounts a fairly typical female KGB agent in the early 1960s. She had been carefully trained to take advantage of the bourgeois hypocrisy of Western operatives, who were inculcated with the absurd notion that women were soft, easily manipulated, and in need of protection. Even before the episode, Sofya had never been soft. Her hardness had developed early, first by her childhood spent during the Great Patriotic War, and then by her father's arrest, trial and execution for rape when she was fifteen.

In 1964, Sofya was volunteered for duty to test a new chemical formula developed by the KGB's R&D division, based on research stolen from the United Kingdom concerning 'the New Accelerator'. To everyone's shock, she not only survived the injection, and developed super speed as a consequence, her body further mutated, becoming as hard and tough as lead. Her inexperience in using these abilities meant that she was unable to prevent the assassination of the scientist who'd developed the formula, or the escape of the British assassin, and so the formula was lost. Thus, Sofya became the Soviet Union's only speedster agent, under the alias 'Pulya' -- Bullet.

No one was sure how long the dose of the Accelerator drug in her system was going to last, and so she was quickly assigned to the SNM and told to make herself useful. She soon found herself the latest excuse for the rivalry between the Red Comet and the Untouchable, gravitating to the side of the latter as more familiar but always hinting to the former that she might be persuaded to change her mind if he impressed her enough. She engaged in lower-intensity flirtations with the other male members of the team as well, and with a few of their opposite numbers, most notably the Living Thunderbolt, her most frequent opponent. All of it was done in the service of the state, of course, to which she was utterly committed.

Her private diary, found in the KGB archives, reveals a rather different personality. Sofya Shibalova was a profoundly unhappy woman, fearful of the likelihood that her powers were going to fade, just as she was sure that her beauty would not last. Without such advantages, where would she be? What use would she be to anyone? She only had worth in as much as she was useful to the men around her, after all.

Ironically, her powers never did fade, nor did they ever require recharging, as the later users of Accelerator substances did. It seems likely that whatever changes to the formula hardened her body also turned it into a factory to produce regular doses of the drug. Some physical examinations undertaken towards the end of her life indicated that this was causing a strain on the rest of her organs, but it never had a chance to impair her activities.

During the Battle of Vietnam, she spotted the Untouchable confronting the American 'super-wizard', and, believing her lover to be in his intangible state, proceeded to attempt a power charge towards their enemy, moving through the Untouchable's form to do so. She had no way of knowing that Stardust had used a ray on the Untouchable to transform him into an immobilized and hyper-dense state. Pulya crashed against him at just under the speed of sound, and shattered like a bullet against him. She died instantly.

Remontnik has developed some odd hobbies in his old age, such as gazing at pictures of beautiful women he's known while also examining their DNA profiles. Quite recently, while doing so to a photograph of Pulya, he realized that he'd seen a remarkably similar profile recently, and leafed through the rest of his collection until he found it. Then he stared at the photograph and DNA profile of Baba Yaga, noting that the similarity between the two profiles was akin to that between a grandparent and their grandchild. "Now what do we have here?" he murmured to himself.

Pulya -- PL 9

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

Powers:
Hardened Body:
Strength-based Damage 2; Protection 2, Impervious 6 - 10 points
Hypersonic Speed: Enhanced Advantage 3 (Improved Initiative 3); Enhanced Defenses 16 (Dodge 8, Parry 8); Movement 3 (wall-crawling 2, water-walking), Limited to movement; Quickness 10; Speed 10 (2000 MPH) - 32 points
Sonic Boom: Linked Burst Area Damage 9; Linked Burst Area Cumulative Affliction 9 (Resisted by Fortitude; Hearing Impaired, Hearing Disabled, Hearing Unaware), Limited to One Sense - 36 points

Advantages:
Attractive, Close Combat 2, Evasion, Improved Initiative 3, Instant Up, Move-by Action

Skills:
Acrobatics 4 (+8), Athletics 6 (+8), Close Combat: Unarmed 4 (+8), Deception 7 (+10), Insight 4 (+6), Perception 4 (+6), Persuasion 4 (+7), Stealth 5 (+9), Technology 6 (+7).

Offense:
Initiative +16
Unarmed +10 (Close Damage 4)
Sonic Boom -- (Burst Area Damage 9 and Fortitude 9)

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

Totals:
Abilities 46 + Powers 78 + Advantages 6 + Skills 22 + Defenses 8 = 160 points

Complications:
Duty--Motivation. Low Self-Worth.
 

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