Rogues Gallery 5: Zatava
Zatava is an interesting case because she feels much more like the heroine from a Vertigo book – I just don’t picture her fighting a different magical villain every month in a magical punch-out. The solution was having three of the potential players (but not Kris, who is playing Zatava) make up characters (using Villains and Vigilantes for the random aspect) and then map their relationships using the Smallville system. This led me to formalize a stripped down Smallville r-map system that I’ll present here tomorrow and may see some use in other settings. In any event we ended up with a quartet of key magical players in the LA area city of Darkness Falls. This is the environment Zatava entered and is trying to work as the protector of, interacting with, balancing and playing off of the local power structure, with the occasional Monster of the Week.
Darkness Falls was originally an African American community built on unincorporated land between several Sundown Towns. Originally derogatively mapped as Darkie Falls, this was where Black people lived and spent the night when the unofficial rules kicked them out of the surrounding towns at sunset. In the 1930’s Jason Dark moved there and through his influence in state politics took steps to make it a legal town and laid the foundations of what is now one of the country’s most prominent medical collages. Though there is significant revenue coming in from the LA commuters who now live in the integrated town Stoke College remains the bedrock of Darkness Falls’ finances. Jason Dark is still around to appreciate that, as he is a Vampire. This DC universes Vampires have their origins in the Arabian deserts, being creatures of wind and water that have thrown in their lot with dark forces. Jason Dark is one of these, but one whose connection to the dark forces is weak, in part because he eschews much of his power to avoid their influence. He can still drain the blood from a man, has inhuman reflexes and his size is completely under his control, changing in a gust of wind from the size of an insect to that of a bear, but that is all he allows himself. Otherwise he relies on a peerless intellect, centuries of understanding of human weaknesses, and magical artifacts to supplement his power. The most often used of these is a cloak of shadow stitched together with the essence of another Vampire that gives him several of his old abilities (flight, invisibility, becoming a shadow, summoning a fog) at no risk to himself. His other prize possession was a mirror that allowed astral travel, but that was lost some months back. The absence of demonic support means Jason’s unnatural state is not masked, and that gives him a repellent aspect to those without a magical background, so Jason always works through catspaws.
The owner of several bars, restaurants and nightclubs in Darkness Falls, this striking Haitian woman is the social force in Darkness Falls, having moved here with the first wave of entertainment types and opening a small bar. Twenty-five years later she owns or indirectly controls most venues in the city, though she knows she is still subordinate to Jason Dark (who acknowledges her as a near equal, but still uses her to distract others from his movements). Marinette is also a powerful Voudun, having made pacts with a half dozen Loa to grant her a variety of powers. She can call on them to act for her on other people or have them ‘ride’ her to directly grant her powers. These are most commonly manifested as telekinesis, extreme personal magnetism, hypnosis, emotion control, and rarely bursts of superhuman strength or combat prowess. She also has a magical artifact of her own - a choker stolen years ago from the Sirens – that gives her powerful vocal abilities: she can unleash screams that will shatter walls, minds, or souls, mimic voices and make use of crude active sonar to see through walls and sense her environment.
The young woman Marian was rescued from somewhere in the world by the international adoption and child welfare agency Open Arms and was raised in their main orphanage in Darkness Falls. She developed an intense love of the orphanage, the organization and the community and has decided to make this place her home and someday transform it utterly unto a place not like anywhere else on this Earth. Being the seventh reincarnation of Nicholas Flaumel with an intuitive understanding of alchemy she could go anywhere, of course. Marian has a wide variety of magical spells and alchemical potions at her disposal (she is the European equivalent of Master Bai in terms of expertise), and favors those that produce solid matter from the air – she is able to create ice, snow, earth, and trees almost at will with potions secreted about her person. She is also damnably intelligent and strong willed, superhumanly so, if a little inexperienced. Marian is still consolidating her powers and has a very small power based in Darkness Falls compared to Jason and Marinette, limited to her ties to the orphanage and the charity scene, but she is young and with a scary amount of potential. Marinette is terrified of her and wants her dead and also wants not to engage her wraith, while Jason likely maneuvered her presence here for subtle reasons of his own.
Her name is a truth – she is an angel, one who fell voluntarily to spend a life with her mortal true love. That man is the son of the Darkness Falls chief of police, a hacker and thief. She has joined him in this pursuit, and appears to be in a long downward spiral from her former state of grace. Angel lives in a swanky high rise apartment in the center of Darkness Falls, working for the international artifact smuggler who is married to the woman who runs the Open Arms charity. Over the course of the series so far her love has broken with their boss and his father and is now in hiding in Angels magically shielded sanctum hidden somewhere in the city, while Angel ostentatiously keeps the attention of both the hunters on herself. Being made of the thoughts of God she has an array of powers – she can take the shape or powers of an creature in God’s kingdom, she is immune to harm from the physical world save for sheer brute force disrupting her body, she is superhumanly brilliant and charming, and a millennia in the Host has left her skilled with all physical combat. Her sanctum also contains a powerful artifact – a mirror that when gazed into will allow astral projection, so that she can travel the world without being seen or heard. She and her partner stole that from a manor house on the outskirts of town. No way that comes back to bite her.