Tuesday, February 15, 2022

N is for Neptune Smith in the 2022 Campaign Creation Challenge

Neptune Smith is a giant lobster. No, not anthropomorphic. He's just a 7' long lobster, not counting the 4' reach from his claws). He is either the child of a kaiju lobster empire deep in the ocean or a mutation that gained sentience and the power of speech pulling an elaborate con. He's not exactly brilliant by human standards but he's got deep cunning and a strong survival sense that comes from being very old - while his legal status has him in his early 30's he's more likely over 300.

Neptune hasn't appeared yet: he's going to crawl out of the Haven docks and cause havoc, perhaps precipitating the formation of the super-team, but by the time the heroes arrive it will be difficult to judge who started it. Neptune will slip into the bay. He will return later in a time/place less likely to cause havoc to treat with the local authorities with not just his story but a vast supply of gold pulled up from sunken treasure vessels and a request to start is education at Yale. 

Money heals many wounds, and Neptune will soon be scheming from Haven harbor, Long Island Sound, and the halls of the Ivy League. Every once in a while, he picks a fight with the heroes for no good reason and then hides behind his diplomatic immunity or some incomprehensible biological imperative. His personal fortune pays for any collateral damage. No one knows why he does this: maybe it is part of his kaiju nature, maybe he needs the force of their blows to weaken his skin before he molts, maybe the giant lobster is just an asshole. By he is insanely strong, difficult to hurt, and has enough speed an accuracy to be a threat to the heroes. 

Creation Notes

Another villain for the whole team, another 1 on the powers roll. I put the first on skills and two on powers and finally got what I needed for a proper super strong character. OK, I actually didn't roll animal powers, I got water breathing, but since that immediately went to "lets super charge water breathing to make a Namor like prickly jerk with diplomatic immunity" I decided it was easier to just move it to Animal/Plant powers with maximum number of powers and make that Heightened Strength bonus at maximum. Having the backgrounds kick up Inheritor and Education while he also had Reduced Intelligence, but the level training rolls had him maximize his Int, led to the insane and delightful (to me) idea that he's an actual giant lobster, but also attending Yale with a fat wad of pirate gold. 

Wecome to comics, people. 

Monday, February 14, 2022

M is for Mimir in the 2022 campaign creation challenge

Miriam Hardison is the late in life daughter of a prominent politician from his 2nd and much younger wife. No one knew that part of his 2nd wife's beauty came from her being 1/16th Vanir, not even Miriam. But she did covet the magical secrets of the Skull and Bones order, and through her family connections was able to reach, touch, awaken and bond with the oracular head of Mimir, which the order had been consulting since its founding. The now awakened godhead was sick of being cooped up, sick of being abused and misused, and had ideas about the correct state of the world. Miriam is more than happy to help it out.

Since obtaining literal godlike power, Miriam (and Mimir) have been exploring the world and interfering in whatever catches their attention. Miriam likes to think she's the dominant partner in the relationship, but in reality Mimir, whose scope of power and foresight and age, is directing things to institute some sort of Ragnarök event. He knows it's well past time for the end of the world, and perhaps can even make an argument that whatever mass extinction event he's planning is for the greater long term good of the world or universe. That's the angle he is slowly playing in Miriam, who for all her narcissism is not ready to end the world. 

Skull and Bones are not taking this lying down, of course. Not only do they have their own agents after her, but every law enforcement agency and mass communication outlet in the United States is knows she's in the top 10 most wanted. Other villains don't want to associate with her not just because she acts like they are beneath her, or she's not one of them, but also because she's radioactively hot. Skull and Bones have made sure she has no allies, not realizing that just maybe she doesn't need them. 

Creation Notes 

I knew this had to be the first of the "vs. hero team" villains and the dice were  great for the background and attributes, but gave me just 1 for powers. That's fine due to the wonder of V&V, and that one of those powers was Special Weapon Item. Gee Howdy did I go to town on that. Mimir manages to survive in an action economy sense as she's got at least 3 and maybe 4 actions, and can spend one of those to summon and direct a very large number of monsters of Norse myth, which will prevent the heroes from ganging up on her 6 on one. Her dimensional travel lets her 

Mimir's also got a clear enough long term goal that is easy enough to conceptualize but has dozens of paths to it, so you can pick the one that fits your campaign. That Mimir has telepathy means that Pcs telepaths can't easily try to get access to any of Miriam's moral reserves, and her Prejudice means she's really unlikable for trying that. 

The character is clearly inspired by Emerald Empress, but also Kid Babylon from Bill Willingham's _Pantheon_ series. 

Sunday, February 13, 2022

1 is for 1001001 in the 2022 campaign creation challenge

 1001001's construction at the behest of eccentric Canadian billionaire Kellingley Laws was with the intent of her being purely a sports mascot for his new hockey franchise, the Hamilton Electrics. Backed with functionally limitless money the designers went kind of overboard, constructing an ambitious modular android with a unique, fan-friendly design and wings. Wings! Laws was thrilled and backed multiple extra modules to make it even more impressive. He even licensed his favorite Rush song to use as a name and game music.

Their original programming of Asimov's first law had to be reduced as during her first practice match she kept pulling the skaters apart and chastising them The reduced directive – that she had to intervene to protect people who were in danger (due to something other than organized sport) and she could not initiate hostilities, was put in place instead. They hadn't quite thought that through as 1001001 quickly started acting as a local super-hero. There wasn't much by way of super-crime, but the Hamilton authorities didn't complain about the assistance with emergency services. 

With Kellingley's death his heirs cared little for the newly created hockey franchise and sold/transferred it to Haven to replace/resurrect the long lost Whalers. 1001001 went with them. Her prior skin of the gold and blue of the Hamilton flag was replaced with either the blue with seal of the Connecticut flag or the white and green of the Whalers logo, depending on the day and whether there's a game on the ice. 

She still acts as a super-hero (her programming won't allow her not to), and its still mostly emergency services work. She really only fights super-villains when she teams up with the other Haven heroes. 1001001 has gotten much smarter since she was created and her AI improves with experience. 

Creation Notes

Since February has 28 days and the alphabet only has 26 letters I knew I was going to need two numerical entries. Since this one came up with Android Body it was logical, and then the dice told me she was from Canada and the name became clear. Then the dice told me this Canadian Android was skilled in Broadcasting and Sports and I could not get the idea of an android hockey mascot out of my head. So 1001001 is a bit goofier than the other heroes, but that's part of comic book's charm. I leaned into it, keeping the ice powers device I was originally going to drop because hocky. The throwing pucks and collapsible hockey stick battle staff were entirely due to Moon Knight coming out and "Random Bullshit Go!" 

I was happy with her design of the skeletal android covered with pressurized inflated skin that kept her circuitry at optimal conditions but could be altered or expanded or even used to cover people. I've always been a huge fan of the Vindicator/Guardian literally wrapped in the flag costume design, and happily borrowed it here for a new Canadian hero, albeit in a goofier way. The idea of her heightened agility being an enormous database of flight and cheerleading routines fits surprisingly well, and her ice powers device being rerouting of the cryo plant needed to counteract her plutonium core again makes sense, for certain values of sense. 

She's the first of our heroes who is team based rather than having her own book, so her villains will actually be all team villains.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

L is for Legion in the 2022 Campaign Creation Challenge

 Fukashima Ryuu was born into a quietly family of extreme wealth in Japan. His father believes that having money means having security and obligation and is no reason to indulge in fripperies like fancy clothes, colorful art, or enjoying oneself. It merely opened up the space for you to engage in the endless quest for personal excellence. Ryuu heeded his father's wishes, buckling down, excelling in school, and heading to Haven in the United States for his medical degree. Ever under his family's watchful eye he continued that practice until he was given a side task: his family had acquired a company that had a subsidiary that included a storage area in Haven. Ryuu was tasked with overseeing the inventory. 

In doing so, he discovered a secret space in the storage area that contained the duplication devices of the 1980's super villain Legion, whose ability to make multiple copies of himself had confounded the heroes and authorities for a decade until he vanished. Ryuu shoved the materials into his gym bag and just sauntered away with them. No one knows they were there, no one knows he has them. To him, it's the perfect opportunity to live a double life. One of him can always be establishing an alibi, while the others (often accompanied by some unwitting bystander he has temporarily overwritten) acquire all the artwork that Ryuu has lusted after his whole life. 

Indigo caught up with him once, having predicted where his next heist was going to be, and while she won, she didn't know it: when the smoke cleared a very confused woman as one of the wounded bystanders. Indigo still isn't sure what happened, but Legion is on her radar now. 

Legion has a luxurious apartment set up from money he's made with his thefts that he's carefully filling with his conquests, and it also contains his workspace. He's been purchasing the gear he needs to keep up the Legion identity (including the body stockings that give his skin a Caucasian appearance, and the equipment he needs for his hologram Legionnaires helmet) through his fence, who is well aware of the damage Legion could do to him if he snitched. Still, Ryuu is not a criminal mastermind: his thefts are based more around his alibi and what his strength and multiple forms can do, and he enjoys being able to cut loose with some casual violence. What's going to make him hard to catch is that his dupes fade away, his unsuspecting duplicate is left holding the bag, and Ryuu prime is somewhere in plain sight. Plus his ace in the hole is being able to Transform one of the heroes into another Legion, which he is saving for worst case scenario. 

Creation Notes

I've commented on the advantages of running the characters in alphabetical order, and how I can pick international names to fit the letter and give insight into the character: Jangkar's personality was determined when I looked up Indonesian words starting with J and the word for Anchor was there. In this case the letter was L and the nationality was Japanese. But there's no L in Japanese. There was a moment of wanting to mimic the joke from the Tick comic book where he was mocking the crass commercialization of Ninjas and Japanese culture in general by having the Ninja World Mascot be "R'ir Nip" but that was old ground. So instead the idea of a Japanese villain doing the same thing with European culture – having an secret identity that is so wildly caricatured of a European warrior – worked. That gave me the name Legion. 

Which solved the problem of what to do with the Mutant Power. I had bandied back and forth on letting him transform into a stone dragon, but I wanted to use Mutant Power to build something that was unequivocally not in the rulebook. Legion made the choice of Duplication easy. I had to bust out my home rules for Initiative Intervals to manage the number of actions – rather than rolling 8 initiative rolls, you roll just the one and lower the count between actions, so when there are 8 Legions present at most he acts on 22, 20, 18, 16 and so on, for 11 actions, which is about what he would get with a 12 Agility and 8 initiative rolls. 

I struggled to come up with a motivation for him, especially since I already did the Dorian Grey hedonist with Bioreactor. I didn't like the idea of him being smart enough to build the device, but having found it, Hobgoblin like? That worked. He ends up with a very different feel than Bioreactor, who is on a slide into depravity – Legion knows what urges he's fulfilling and already enjoys it. 

Friday, February 11, 2022

K is for Killer Storm in the 2022 Character Creation Challenge

A PR flack for an ethically dubious pharmaceutical company, Ethan Anders found one of their drugs that had astounding effects. Already morally inert, he had no problems murdering to get and hide it and becoming an assassin.

Anders killed the scientist who invented the stormform drug, stole all her notes and made sure that he, Ethan Anders, was the only one who could become the heart of the storm. That was more than a decade ago, and since then Killer Storm has been an elite assassin for hire amongst the higher ups of his former employer - there's always some nosy reporter or lawsuit bearing patient or clever competitor who is getting to close who needs to be struck by lightning, have a car accident or be lost at sea. Killer Storm has no compunctions about any of it, as long as he gets paid. Sometimes the CEO of the pharmaceutical company will pass along Killer Storm's number to other ethnically dubious peers in other fields, so Killer Storm has a decent client base. 

His services are paid for through BS marketing consulting. Anders maintains a fictious position at a skeleton marketing firm that produces confidential marketing strategies that are eyes only for the CEO or whoever at the organization has hired him. Clandestine meetings then take place where Killer Storm (whose mist form is more effective than any mask or costume) makes quiet suggestions about options. And then someone suffers an accident, and the marketing consultant firm collects a fat check for the report. The firm even has some legit customers and employees who have No Idea what's going on. (With Anders intelligence and skill set, it's even useful information!)

Anders used to need to take a pill to make the transformation happen, but when he realized he had a finite supply he tinkered with what was left with the notes, his native intelligence, and his own on-the-job pharmacy training to make the power permanent. This worked, even if he needs the outside weather to be sufficiently strong for him to jump start the transformation.

Indigo Montana battled Killer Storm at the climax of her first adventure, and he left her for dead. He's not likely to make that mistake again, but she has upgraded her devitalization arrows where the toxin should infuse with his fog body and give him a nasty shock. 

Creation Notes

I decided to kick up another Powers character, so 3 powers rolls, 2 skills rolls and a device. The device ended up being the same as one of his powers, which was a nice bit of inspiration for someone who used to need a device and now doesn't. I contemplated keeping both Non-Corporeality powers and let him be able to become non-corporeal himself and turn lots of other things non-corporal with the device (similar to the original Ghost from Iron Man) but I liked the idea of him being mist in the storm more. Hence the historical tidbit about him having needed the drugs before; again, this designing the campaign with a history makes these longer-term character bits possible. 

I like the idea of him overpowering Indigo on their first encounter, and him being in for a nasty shock on their second, when her pure Devitalization Ray gas attack rounds, against which Non-Corporeality does diddly, star to rip into his Power Score. This will hardly make him ineffective, but it puts them on a much more even playing field, which is exactly what I want for my two fisted gadgeteer weapon hero.