Saturday, May 21, 2016

Making MHR Characters: Ganymede (ANOHotMU #4)

Now, when it comes to DC vs. Marvel, I will live and die with Marvel. It's my jam, it really is. It's not without its good points, but some of them, like the Silver Surfer circa the early 90s, are really not . . . good.

Silver Surfer started out in the pages of Fantastic Four as a noble man who'd been mentally compromised by Galactus and turned into an emotionless husk that ol' Handle-Ears used to guide him to new worlds to eat, and when that programming was broken, Silver Surfer was broken too. He had been compassionate, kind, and a really decent guy and the thought of the billions of lives he'd taken (though by proxy) weighed heavily on him. He spent the next decade righting the many wrongs he was responsible for and trying to live as a decent person in a callous cosmos.

Until the early 90s, when he started fighting supervillains that were just like everyone else's only, y'know, bigger. It wasn't pleasant. Ganymede showed up for a fight against Tyrant as a woman who had no time for love, only time for vengeance, until she actually meets a dude and then she totally has time for love and almost loses the program when it comes to the vengeance thing. I know, shocking development, huh. Ugh. Waste of what could be a good character, although I'm really not sure what's going on with her costume here. Or her calves.

Anyhow, I've chosen to write her up as someone who isn't a sex symbol in an ill-fitting leotard and wielding a rolled up tube of wrapping paper as a weapon, but as a cosmic badass because, frankly, she holds her own against some really burly cosmic threats during her short stint in the Marvel universe, and I think she deserves some credit for that. Honestly, I'm still bummed they didn't bring her back and rehab her along with the rest of the cosmic heroes from Annihilation.

Solo 1d6
Buddy 1d8
Team 1d10

Driven by Passion
Nemesis of the Tyrant
Spinster Vows

Spinster Augmentation
Godlike Durability 1d12
Superhuman Reflexes 1d10
Superhuman Speed 1d10
Superhuman Stamina 1d10
Superhuman Strength 1d10
SFX: Drive - Spend 1 PP to reroll when using any Spinster Augmentation.
SFX: Burst - Step up or double a Superhuman Speed die against a single target. Remove the highest rolling die and add 3 for your total.
SFX: Versatile - Split Superhuman Reflexes into 2d at -1 step or 3d at -2 step.
Limit: No Man Can Best Me - Gain 1 PP if you step up mental stress inflicted by a man by +1 step.

Spinster Tech
Energy Blast 1d10
Space Flight 1d10
SFX: Area Attack - Add a 1d6 and keep an additional effect die for each additional target.
SFX: Focus - If a pool includes a Spinster Tech power, you may replace two dice of equal size with one die +1 step larger.
Limit: Gear - Shutdown Spinster Tech and gain 1 PP. Take an action vs. the doom pool to recover.

Acrobatics Master 1d10
Combat Master 1d10
Cosmic Expert 1d8
Covert Expert 1d8
Menace Expert 1d8
Science Expert 1d8
Tech Expert 1d8
Vehicle Expert 1d8

Making MHR Characters: Gamecock (ANOHotMU #4)

Serious props to Derrick J. Wyatt for this fantastic picture.
Okay, so there's pretty much no way that this character isn't horrible. Dangit, Cap, you're a great character, but between Mother Superia and now a black guy dressed in a rooster costume with "razor-sharp claws," you have some of the most troublesome bad guys that I somehow missed back when I was collecting your comics.

Well, Gamecock showed up in 1975, a year before I was born so I think I get a pass on missing this guy. Still, guh, awful. Thankfully he's out of the comics now, having been killed by Puma in . . . in a bloodsport match? Dangit, Marvel, this is why we can't have nice things.

Anyhow, I statted him up as a minor villain, the kind that can either fit in during an early fight with some mooks at his back, or in a crowd scene. And, yes, the Limit on his Martial Arts Training means that he can stress himself out of a fight. Let's face it - how long do you actually want this guy to be on the stage?

Solo 1d6
Buddy 1d4
Team 1d8

Must Rule the Barnyard
Villain For Hire

Rooster Costume
Claws 1d8
SFX: Peck and Scratch - Add a 1d6 to your dice pool for an attack action and step back histest die in the pool by -1. Step up physical stress inflicted by +1.
Limit: Gear - Shutdown Rooster Costume and add a die to the doom pool. Activate an opportunity to recover.

Martial Arts Training
Enhanced Reflexes 1d8
Enhanced Stamina 1d8
SFX: All Out Assault -Step up or double a Martial Arts Training die against a single target. Remove the highest rolling die and add 3 dice for your total.
Limit: Shoot Your Mouth - When you attempt to inflict a complication on an opponent and fail, take the effect die as mental stress.

Acrobatics Expert 1d8
Combat Expert 1d8
Crime Expert 1d8
Menace Expert 1d8

Making MHR Characters: Fury (ANOHotMU #4)

Let me make an overly simplistic statement: European comic books are different from American comic books.

Let me explain why this matters to today's entry: Captain Britain's comics, in which Fury first appeared, were UK-based, and they were rather different from American fare.

To sum up the general history of this divergence, in the 50s the U.S. went from having a wide and vibrant universe of funny, horror, supernatural, romance, western, classic, adventure comics and superhero comics to having the CCA, a non-binding but nevertheless terrifying ruling body that basically stifled creativity for most of the fifties and sixties. Basically, if it had kissing, outright violence, death or references to the occult, the CCA wouldn't endorse the comic and that meant the publisher couldn't get the comic distributed through wholesalers.

There were a lot of small comic book companies that ignored the ban and kept the fires of creativity burning while Marvel and DC fell back on mostly selling superhero comics, which lead to stuff like this:
This actually makes less sense in context.

Meanwhile, over in Europe, comics were mostly humming along. They actually weren't all that big of a business, really, and it was mostly funnies and adventure comics that were the big sellers. There was censorship abroad, of course - hello East Germany! - but superhero comics just weren't that much of a thing.

As the decades wore on the CCA started to lose some of its teeth as wholesales watched the number indy comics on sale rise, and superhero writers started to push the boundaries. This began formally with a revision to the regulations in 1971, and continued with "clever" workarounds like referring to "zombies" as "zuvembies" to avoid a word with occult connotations, and just plain ignoring the restrictions and publishing titles without the Code's stamp of approval and expecting the popularity of the character to keep the title in distribution.

By the late 70s and early 80s, comics were operating with greater and greater freedom, and the Marvel UK imprint moved from just publishing reprints of Marvel titles to creating their own content. Thing is, because the writers for these comics had cut their teeth on Daffy Duck, Asterisk and Dan Dare, the superheroes were . . . singular. Chris Claremont, who'd later go on to great fame in Marvel US, was actually ones of those responsible for the creation of Captain Britain, but found the American superhero sensibility clashed with the British sensibility and bowed out of the title.

I love the spatulate feet.
Various other writers worked on the series until Alan "Sweaty-Toothed Madman" Moore took over the title and introduced Mad Jim Jaspers, a world-destroying superpowered freak, and his creation, the Fury, which was responsible for wiping out all superhumans so no one would be left to stop Jaspers from having his fun. The storyline was trippy, with a body count that consisted of multiple universes, and ended with the Fury coming to the mainline Marvel universe before being stopped.

The Fury didn't really come back until Captain Britain was completely worked into the mainline continuity of Earth-616, the primary reality of the Marvel Universe and since then has taken the role of the "unstoppable killer" in semi-cosmic storylines. I think I've written it as appropriately badass here - it'll take a lot to take down the Fury, and it should.

Part of the problem with this character is that it was never really intended to be made part of the Marvel mainstream continuity, and in its storyline really seemed to have as much power over the narrative as the hero, which is . . . odd, for American comics.

Solo 3d8
Buddy 1d4
Team 2d6

Inhuman Cunning
Kill all Superhumans

Terrible Form
Energy Blaster 1d12
Godlike Durability 1d12
Godlike Reflexes 1d12
Godlike Speed 1d12
Godlike Stamina 1d12
Godlike Strength 1d12
Sensor Array 1d10
Transdimensional Teleport 1d10
Weapons Array 1d12
SFX: Area Attack - Add a 1d6 and keep an additional effect die for each additional target.
SFX: Invulnerable - Spend a doom die to ignore physical stress or trauma.
SFX: Mindless - Spend 1 PP to ignore stress, trauma or complications from psychic powers or magic.
SFX: Multipower - Use two or more Terrible Form powers in a single dice pool at -1 step for each additional power.
SFX: Self-Repair Routines - Before you make an action including a Terrible Form power, you may move your physical stress die to the doom pool and step up the Terrible Form power by +1 for this action.
SFX: Versatile - Split any Terrible Form power into 2d at -1 step, or 3d at -2 steps.
Limit: Mission Focus - Shutdown Terrible Form whenever there are no superhumans to target.

Combat Master 1d10
Menace Master 1d10

Tech Expert 1d8

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Making MHR Characters: Deacon Frost (ANOHotMU #4)

I really don't like vampires.

Wait, that's not quite right. I like vampires all right, I just don't like what we, the creative types who make them up for a living, have turned them into. We took one book written by a guy with some really obvious baggage involving women and Eastern European foreigners and accepted it as gospel, later stitching in bits and pieces of legends from those same Eastern European cultures kind of piecemeal.

Some day, I'm going to make an
RPG character based on this
They still work in some areas, I guess. Robin McKinley's "Sunshine," for example, and Justin Cronin's "The Passage." Buffy and Angel managed to take vampires to some interesting places. Still, I find it really, really weird to have Wolverine crossing claws with Dracula. Deacon Frost, though? He's pretty cool.

See, he's a self-made vampire. I love that - he has no sire, no connection to any other living thing. He's really kind of a perfect predator, and better still, he's a mad scientist. So, immortal, super-powered, sociopathic and regards humans as interesting things to experiment on. Ooo, yes, I'll take two please. Which is kind of perfect because he can actually make doppelgangers of the people he drains.

I think this write-up does a decent job of demonstrating the strengths and weaknesses of vampires in a Marvel kind of way - if you have access to the things that can take out vampires, they're really just kind of a pain to deal with, but if you don't, well, you have a serious problem on your hands.

Deacon Frost
Solo 1d8
Buddy 1d4
Team 1d6

Empirical Thinker
Obsessed With Immortality
Self-Made Vampire

Alchemical Vampire
Enhanced Durability 1d8
Enhanced Reflexes 1d8
Enhanced Speed 1d8
Enhanced Strength 1d8
Mind Control 1d8
Psychic Resistance 1d10
Superhuman Stamina 1d10
SFX: Dopplegangers - Add a 1d6 and step up your effect die by +1 when using Alchemical Vampire to create assets.
SFX: Invulnerable - Spend a die from the doom pool to ignore physical stress or trauma unless caused by appropriate magic, sunlight or wood.
SFX: Multipower - Use two or more Alchemical Vampire powers in a single dice pool at -1 step for each additional power.
SFX: You Grow Weak Before Me - Step up or double Mind Control for one action. If the action fails, add a die to the doom pool equal to the normal rating of the power die.
Limit: Abjure the Holy - So long as there is a Cross complication or some other similar barrier, Deacon Frost cannot inflict physical stress or trauma.
Limit: Montesi Formula - Add a die to the doom pool when affected by vampire-specific Milestones, assets and complications.
Limit: Sunlight Vulnerability - Step up physical stress or trauma by +1 when caused by sunlight.

Covert Expert 1d8
Crime Master 1d10
Medical Master 1d10
Menace Master 1d10
Mystic Expert 1d8
Psych Expert 1d8
Science Expert 1d8

Making MHR Characters: Frog-Man (ANOHotMU #4)

My favourite part isn't the goofy-
looking springs on his feet, it's the
two eyes peering out through the
The Marvel Universe has a problem that some have summed up as the Stark Problem. It's not the Iron Man suit, not exactly anyway, but rather what such inventions represent. Forget the repulsor rays and the flight boots and the uni-beam, just having access to a hand-held power source that can power all of those devices would revolutionize the world completely. I mean, completely and utterly, within a few months of arc reactors going into mass production.

Eugene Patillo neatly avoids the Stark Problem by creating a piece of technology that is singular, perhaps unique, and a genuinely terrible idea.

The career of Frog-Man, aka Leap-Frog, really begins with Vincent's father, Eugene, who invented the suit's "leaping coils" and, rather than try to sell them by the dozens at local county fairs to unsuspecting rubes, decided to become a bank robber. My suspicion is that his criminal activities were greatly hampered by the simple fact that once the Frog-Man suit is in motion, its occupant is simply a victim of physics. MHR gives us some good tools for playing that out so that, as in the comics, Frog-Man knocks himself out of the fight about as often as he gets knocked out.

This write-up is for Eugene, who took his father's Frog-Man suit, tinkered with it a bit and decided to become a superhero. His career hasn't gone well, as expected, but I suspect it's been an interesting, if somewhat bouncy.

Solo 1d6
Buddy 1d8
Team 1d4

Always Be Bouncing
Sins of the Father
Where Fools Fear To Sproing

Frog Suit
Enhanced Strength 1d8
Enhanced Durability 1d8
Leaping 1d8
SFX - He Came In Like A Wrecking Ball: Add a die from the doom pool to one or more attack actions. Step up the doom pool die by +1 for each action return it to the doom pool when you’re done.
SFX - He Never Fell So Hard: Step up or double and Frog Suit power for one action. If the action fails, add a die to the doom pool equal to the normal rating of the power die.
Limit - Gear: Shutdown Frog Suit and gain 1 PP. Take an action vs. the doom pool to recover.