Tuesday, February 1, 2022

A is for Akuma in the 2022 campaign challenge

Our first hero is Dr. Emery Larson, aka Akuma. 

While she was doing her graduate work at Yale Medical for criminal psychiatry, her mentor, Dr. Hana Tanaka, invented a device that let her read her patient's minds. Since Dr. Tanaka's patients were criminals, this led to some amazing and disturbing discoveries, including he revelation that one of them was secretly a serial killer (who may end up being one of the 3 core villains). Dr. Tanaka didn't survive the encounter, but Emery was able to escape with the device. 

Emery was never the strongest or smartest person, but she was always physically quick and agile, passionate in her interests and incredibly dedicated to completing things. Not the sort of genius where things came naturally, she would work three times as hard to get where the wanted to be, with a passion that inspired others. Seeing the potential for the Tanaka headband for directly fighting criminals, but not trusting it to common use, she vowed to fashion herself into the person who could use it to make criminals fear the devil. 

Insert a training montage here, as she rapidly parlayed her prior hobby training in martial arts into full bore ninjitsu mastery. This was accomplished under the wing of an aging master of the art. Taking the Japanese word for devil, Akuma, as her code name, Emery took to the streets to find, track, build evidence against, and take down criminals, using the aid of a growing cadre of assistants, her shadows, starting with her ninjitsu instructor, Master Takahashi. Over the course of her first few adventures 4 more were added, each with strong combat training and other skills. 

To help protect her identity, Emery altered her personal style, adopting spike heels, cutting the hair she inherited from her Japanese mother into a pixie cut and dying it bright colors, and getting a wardrobe of loose-fitting clothes. Akuma, in contrast, has flat feet (emphasizing her 5'4" frame), a black-on-garnet form-fitting costume that makes distinct changes to her silhouette (along with a flame motif that doubles as camouflage), and a long black wig that is braided with wire, has handles inside it and ends with a kama – her hair functions as a Kusarigama. 

Akuma and her Shadows spent the next several years tracking down people with criminal psychosis – from exotic serial killers to pyromaniacs to run of the mill jerks – with the Haven law enforcement learning to tolerate her, especially since she always provided a big old envelope full of collected data for them to act on to convict the criminals. No one outside the Shadows knows that she's telepathic, and more than one investigator has bought into the myth that she's supernatural. Dr. Larson has also seen her career climb, being an oft consulted specialist from the police and the FBI while she teaches and does research at Yale. 

A few years ago, one of Akuma's cases went horribly wrong, and she was badly mauled. It's taken her years to get back to her original fighting trim, and the incident has put a harsh edge on her passionate intensity. This ultimately cost her Master Takahashi as a shadow. She's held on to the others but it will take some time before she can win Takahashi back to the cause, if ever. 

Akuma is nothing if not methodical. As long as there are no lives at risk she’ll spend as long as needed to make a case against someone and bring them down; her telepathic powers make her almost impossible to surprise, or to locate when she's decided to track you. She's quite capable in a fight, and even moreso when the Shadows come into play and she can telepathically direct them. When working with the rest of this nascent hero team she doesn't have the Shadows join her, but still acts as a telepathic guide and combat director, making the hero team much more capable. 

Creation Notes

I was not thrilled with the original power set, nor the 6 in STR, but once I stared at it long enough the idea emerged. I imagine her original book coming out in the 1980's black and white boom with ninja and serial killers – the fake hair comes from early Spider Woman, the hair as Kusarigama comes from Eagle – with the team of seconds being deliberately pulpy. Her book is being re-started for this new publisher, picking up more of less where it left off. As usual I'm more than willing to use decentralized resources in terms of a crew of people, and her ability to give the rest of the team stealth and accuracy bonuses becomes wicked powerful when the other people are super-heroes.  The combination of a 6  STR and the Reduced Charisma weakness are what made her near career ending injury in her old book. 

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