Saturday, June 25, 2016

Making MHR Characters ANOHotMU:U #2: AIM

"Have you tried turning the
Ultra-Negalaser off and
then turning it on again?"
I am firmly convinced that when the Marvel writers came up with AIM, which stands for Advanced Idea Mechanics, they legitimately had no idea what they were doing.

Well, not quite true. I think that Marvel knew that despite the many secret evil societies they'd created, none of them were quite tech-focused enough. I mean, yes, the Maggia use technology to accomplish their ends, ditto Hydra and the Secret Empire, but they don't seem like the kind of organizations that'd be big on having an extensive R&D division.* So, yeah, AIM, aka Advanced Idea Mechanics makes sense.

They make your doomsday weapons and your killer robots for you, you pay them for it. They're like Geek Squad for supervillains. And they wear incredibly dorky uniforms.

Recently they've changed things up so that they don't look like Day-Glo yellow beekeepers in baggy pants, but they've more or less kept those enormous rectangular helmets and that's just not a good look. I mean, it really does somehow say, "I work for a mad scientist," though.

They have a lot of minor and major villains associated with them - Super Adaptoid, MODOK, Man-Killer, Grey Gargoyle, Red Skull, Hate Monger, etc. - but they really don't have a single schtick that holds them together apart from the beekeeper helmets and general "research and development for evil" thing.

They are, however, the single most successful evil organization in the entire Marvel universe. No, really.

Look, their goal is the promotion of science, by any means necessary, and the development of unheralded technology and innovation, no matter how immoral its purpose, right? Well, they've been a resounding success at that. Sure, they've gotten their butts righteously kicked by every hero who's ever pulled on a pair of Underoos, but you can develop brain-meltingly awesome robots without some sacrifices.

So, presented for your pleasure, three separate mini-entries.

* Hydra would later on, of course, be revealed to be absolutely monstrous in its size and influence - a number of people equal to the total population of Illinois have to be working for Hydra at this point.

These are the guys that pour of the woodwork by the dozens whenever the good guys get close to the final goal. Throwing a few of these mobs into a fight gives everyone something to do and put a nice brake on the action because they're ultimately pretty easy to take out, but work almost as a scene distinction.

AIM Soldiers (Mob)
Team 4d8

Poor Peripheral Vision

AIM Technology
Superhuman Durability  1d8
Weapons                      1d8
SFX: Focus - If a pool includes an AIM Technology power, you may replace two dice of equal size with one die +1 step larger.
Limit: Gear - Shutdown AIM Technology and add a die to the doom pool. Activate an opportunity to recover.

So, your heroes have fought past waves of AIM soldiers and a couple of low-level supervillains for hire and are now at the heart of the complex, ready to go up against a solo boss. Who then cackle and says something alone the lines of, "You thought you I would face you alone? Foolish heroes!", as a couple of giant, misshapen dudes (who've nevertheless jammed their mutated tushes into a pair of slacks, for some reason) enter through the gathering fog. Ugh. AIM super-soldiers. I hate AIM super-soldiers.

AIM Super-Soldiers
Solo      1d4
Buddy   1d6
Team     1d8

AIM Super Treatments
Enhanced Stamina          1d8
Enhanced Strength         1d8
Superhuman Durability   1d10
SFX: Berserk - 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: Uncontrollable Rage - Step up or double any AIM Super Treatments power for one action. If the action fails, add a die to the doom pool equal to the normal rating of your power die.
Limit: Critically Unstable - When you fail a reaction to avoid mental or social stress, step up the effect die by 1 to add a die to the doom pool.

Combat Master    1d8
Menace Master    1d8

Curses! Your villain has been foiled! After a few more adventures, she's back, and this time she's brought serious back-up - cybernetic AIM soldiers that work in a hive mind and fire lasers from their fists. Uh oh.

MODOC (Military Operatives Designed Only for Combat) Squad
Team 4d10

AIM Cybernetics
Energy Blasts             1d8
Enhanced Durability   1d8
Enhanced Speed        1d8
Enhanced Stamina      1d8
Enhanced Strength     1d8
Weapons                   1d8
SFX: Area Attack - Add a d6 and keep an additional effect die for each additional target.
SFX: Adaptive Tactics - Spend a die from the doom pool to use your opponent's stress die when you target them with a dice pool. Do not step up the stress die when you return it.
SFX: Burst Fire - Step up or double an Energy Blasts die against a single target. Remove the highest rolling die and add 3 dice for your total.
SFX: Hive Mind - Use two or more AIM Cybernetics powers in a single dice pool at -1 step for each additional power.
Limit: Cybernetic - Add a die to the doom pool when targeted by Milestones or tech that target cybernetic organisms.

Making MHR Characters ANOHotMU:U #2: Agents of Atlas

Yeah. Subtle, guys.
I’m departing from what I did in the previous books and am putting in entries for everything in this update, including those without clear stat blocks.

I read their first appearance in What If?, when they were there to answer the question of what would happen if the Avengers had forms in the 50s. The team consisted of 3D-Man, blessed with the abilities of three men, Venus, the Roman goddess of love, Marvel Boy, an interstellar traveller, and Gorilla Man and the Human Robot who you don’t need to be introduced to because you’re not that dumb. Presumably.

Anyhow, they take on Yellow Claw, a Marvel villain of Asian extraction whose design is so flippin' racist that I'm pretty sure that members of Stormfront would criticize it for being a little too on the nose.

I love the mood in this illustration - love it.
And then that's it. The mainstream universe Avengers, who've been watching the proceedings on a monitor, watch as the team realizes that they're too awesome to exist, and disband. Thankfully, someone out there in the Marvel writing stuff realized what I did, and decided to bring the team back, this time not as an Avengers knock-off, but as Agents of Atlas which, oddly, is the organization they're simultaneously working for (although they don't know it) and working against. This time around, they're led by Jimmy Woo, Yellow Claw's arch-nemesis and . . . well, it's all terribly 50s.

Yellow Fever scares, low-level mystical stuff that's vaguely Buddhist but not really at all, and lots of technology that's all rounded edges and bulbous knobs. It's really cool stuff, actually.

Unfortunately, all of the characters in the group have their own entries elsewhere in the Handbooks, so some day I might end up writing all of them up anyway, which leaves me with describing something or giving something else stats. To the Flying Saucer!

Uranian's Flying Saucer
Built By The Eternals
Groovy 50's Tech

Flying Saucer Technology
Advanced Sensors 1d10
Energy Blast 1d8
Flight 1d12
Superhuman Durability 1d10
Superhuman Reflexes 1d10
SFX: Evasive Manuevers - Step up or double Superhuman Reflexes for a reaction. If you fail the reaction, add a 1d10 to the doom pool.
Limit: Defensive Design - Whenever you use Energy blast in a dice pool that includes an opportunity, shut down Energy Blast afterward. Spend 1 PP or make a recovery action during a Transition Scene to reactivate.

Making MHR Characters ANOHotMU:U #2: Adam II

In close up shots, it looks like he's wearing
a mask over a human face - creepy.
And we're back. I'm doing one of the Update books this time, which goes from Adam II through to Zodiak and has some legitimately cool characters in between. There's Orka, one of my favourite Sub-Mariner baddies, Captain from N.E.X.T.W.A.V.E.* and Captain America himself!

But first, let's start off with a crappy knockoff of Ultron who pretty much only shows up only once in Marvel history and looks like his exterior was painted by a colour-blind pre-schooler. For all that, he's kind of a neat character.

He was created by Phineas T. Horton, who built the original robotic Human Torch because . . . well, reasons, I'm sure, abound, for making a robot that catches fire at random, but I can't think of any just now. Well, anyway, he tries again, this time hoping to create something a bit better than the original Torch who, let's face is, really was pretty darned glitchy.

And he ended up making a megalomaniac robot that took over the world and required a bunch of Captain Americas to overcome.

Wait, maybe I need to explain that last bit. See, after Steve Rogers went on ice, the U.S. government was like, "We can't just not have Captain America," so they drafted a bunch of second-stringers into the job in the ensuing decades. Taking down Adam II burned through one of them completely (William Naslund) and put Jeff Mace, the Patriot, into the uniform. An alternate universe of Adam II took Naslund, Mace and Steve Rogers (twice - once the modern version, and once the 50's version). He's a pretty powerful opponent, more because of his minions than anything else, and I think this build reflects that. Honestly, he's basically a low-rent Iron Man, and Iron Man vs. Cap, with other armored back-up, is usually a winning move for Stark, so that fits.

* This is the last time I'm putting in the periods. Seriously.

Adam II
Solo 1d8
Buddy 1d4
Team 1d6

Hatred of the Flesh
Superior Design

Energy Blasts 1d10
Enhanced Durability 1d8
Enhanced Stamina 1d8
Enhanced Strength 1d8
SFX: Parallel Processing - Use two or more Android powers in a single dice pool at -1 step for each additional power.
SFX: Power Transfer - Shutdown an Android power to step up another Android power by +1. Recover the power by activating an opportunity of spending a die from the doom pool.
SFX: Robotic Minions - Add 1d8 and step up the effect die by +1 when using Android to create robotic assets.
Limit: Robot Body - Add a die to the doom pool when affect by Milestones and tech that specifically target artificial lifeforms.

Menace Expert 1d8
Science Expert 1d8
Tech Master 1d10
Vehicle Expert 1d8

Saturday, June 18, 2016

ANOHotMU #4 In The Rear-View Mirror

Well, there you go. Better than 30 character write-ups later, I've finished going through and statting up an entire issue of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Is it one down, 11 more to go? Maybe. I think I might do one of the Updates next, just for a little alphabetical variety (those go from A-Z, potentially). So, savvy readers might realize that I statted up only 30 or so characters, and yet these things are 64 pages long. What gives? Well, as I said at the beginning, I was only statting up entries that gave me starting scores to work off of, and wasn't touching organizations or races. Still, they ARE in there, and deserve some love. So, some starting notes for each.

Elements of Doom
A group of killer robots, each based off of a chemical element. It's a need idea, and decently executed in the comic, but I'd probably only write up two or three of them, with the rest represented by mobs. I just can't care that much about writing up Aluminum as a distinct character from Tin.

Elf With A Gun
These guys got a name drop in my entry on Gargoyle, and they really are that weird. They make no sense. None, whatsoever. I don't know if they need to be statted up so much as serve as a Scene Distinction or complication in a scene, one that can only be dealt with in a very particular way that the players then have to figure out.

Ah, the Eternals. Soooo much Kirby Krackle in this entry, folks. It really is a thing of beauty. The Eternals of note tend to show up in their own entries, so while I kind of wanted to stat them up as a mob, I'm okay with skipping that and going into more detail with individuals as this project leads onward. A lot of 1d12 powers and amped up SFX. And what do you use for a Limit? "Just Too Awesome?"

Oddly, looking through other books, Infinity, Oblivion, Lord Chaos, Master Order and other abstract entities of the Marvel Universe get state blocks but big ol' Eternity doesn't. He's pretty awesomely powerful, though, so I'm spared writing up a giant list of things. For a guy like him, I might almost make him a complication generator - it fits with the tone of his powers better than making him yet another problem you can punch your way through.

I'll be honest, I never really got the big deal over X-Statix, especially Mike Allred's art. I mean, it's distinctive and all, but I just wasn't a big fan. And, honestly, stuff like Euro-Trash is part of the reason why. A German villain made of the Berlin Wall whose name is "Gunter Gross?" Ergh, no thanks. That's not funny and, no, not even "ironically." Still, there are some interesting power sets here that be fun to write up.

Oh, thank goodness these characters didn't have stats or I'd be left trying to write up eight separate characters equal to or superior to the Juggernaut. That is all.

Fathom Five
Ooo, this would've been fun! Aquatic monsters are kind of awesome. Even the pictures show some vehicles, monsters and equipment that would've been kind of fun. Wonder if New Thunderbolts was collected in a graphic novel . . .

Femme Fatales
I don't know if any of these characters showed up in other comics, enough that they might show up in an Update or something, but I hope so. Left to right, we have a female Whiplash, a bruiser-type named Knockout, a feral-type named Bloodlust, and a psi-powered Mindblast, all facing off against a lone Spiderman. I think with a little cleverness, I could probably stat them up on the fly, at least enough to work for an encounter or two.

Folding Circle
Oh, 90's Marvel, you really are crap, aren't you? This is supposed to be this dark and mysterious group of very serious antiheroes, all of them glowering out at us from the page, but they're called The Folding Circle. Seriously, that's the name of an orgami crafts group at your local library, not a fearsome collection of characters. It doesn't help that one of them is named "Smiling Tiger." Ugh. Well, I think at least Night Thrasher and Midnight's Fire show up elsewhere, but I think I'm spared the pain of statting up Silk Fever, Left Hand and Blood Strike.

Force Four
Aw, yeah, a quartet of anthropomorphic horses whose names are literally Pig Latin for the members of the Fantastic Four. That's totally boss. I really hope that I can track down stats for these guys so I can write them up for a special event or something.

Galactic Guardians
This cheap knock-off of the Guardians of the Galaxy, which includes futuristic Ghost Rider with a segmented crotch* is bad, and it should feel bad. Rounding out the group is an aged Wonder Man, B-list Galactus herald Firelord, a mulleted male Phoenix, a Skrull named Replica who wears a pink costume with the alchemical symbol for "female" just so we're sure we know she's a token female, and Martinex, the hero daringly carved from cubic zirconium. Oh my gosh, something cosmic powered smite these earnest folks, like, now.

Basically, this is the alternate universe that answers the question, "What would the Marvel Universe look like if it were written by Robert Zelazny circa the Amber series?" If that doesn't sound like a good idea to you, I'm sorry, we just can't be friends. I think you'd probably just have to adjust some of the powers of existing characters and make them, I dunno, a little more medieval, but this could totally work.

This is a race of peaceful, demure aliens much like the "greys" we all know and love from UFO mythology. They're telepathic, can fly and turn intangible and otherwise look like your standard "peaceful alien" with large, open eyes in a oversized face. I think they'd be fairly easy to write up as a racial template, if I knew more about them.

Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway
This is my favourite phase of She-Hulk's career. I love the fourth-wall bending nods, the very really issues surrounding the law in a world with superhumans and Jennifer Walters in a three piece skirt-suit. I'd see this place as a setting, with various characters that can be brought in as assets and/or complications and plots involving things like stopping a new incarnation of the Serpent Society without violating their constitutional rights.

* Good luck getting that image out of your head.

Making MHR Characters: Goliath (ANOHotMU #4)

It's no secret that Marvel, and comic books in general, have a reputation for doing a less than stellar job with representation of ethnic minorities. Where such characters exist, they're often villains, or stereotypes. Heck, even Sam Wilson, then The Falcon, was given a background as a pimp. And, well, Gamecock. (Seriously, what the h, Captain America writers?) Enter Bill Foster, aka Goliath.

He was a brilliant biochemist, and the lab partner of Hank Pym. He memorized the formula for the creation of the "Pym Particles that enable people to shrink (like The Wasp) and grow (like Giant-Man) and notably improved on them when he experimented on himself with them, creating a strain of the particles that gave him super-hearing and resistance to mental intrusion.

Yeah, he was called "Black Goliath" briefly - although it's notable that he took that name himself, and that he did so while try to show an ex-girlfriend how far he's fallen from his true potential - and generally wasn't as visible a superhero as some, but, still, he was pretty darned boss.

Interestingly, he shows up in the Civil War MHRPG book, which I recently purchased, and the write-up they provide is quite similar to my own. Yay for synchronicity!

Solo 1d6
Buddy 1d8
Team 1d10

Brain for Science
Distinguished Hero

Pym Particle Powers
Enhanced Senses 1d8
Enhanced Stamina 1d8
Growth 1d10
Psychic Resistance 1d10
Superhuman Durability 1d10
Superhuman Strength 1d10
SFX: Area Attack - Add a 1d6 and keep an additional effect die for each extra target.
SFX: Gamble - Add a die to the doom pool to double a Pym Particles power for one action.
SFX: Multipower - Use two or more Pym Particle powers in a single dice pool at -1 step for each additional power.
SFX: Take It For The Team - Step up physical stress inflicted on an ally to take it yourself.
Limit: Exhausted - Shutdown Pym Particle Powers to gain 1 PP. Recover by activating an opportunity or during a Transition Scene.

Combat Expert 1d8
Medical Expert 1d8
Psych Expert 1d8
Science Master 1d10
Tech Master 1d8

Vehicle Master 1d8

Making MHR Characters: Ma Gnucci (ANOHotMU #4)

For yooooooooooou!
Look at that picture. No, look at that picture. I statted that. For you. Because I care. No, really, I statted up a quadriplegic female Mafia boss from a lesser Punisher title because I want you, my reading public, to have access to these statistics.

Ugh. Well, only one more write-up, and it's for a character I actually care about, who's shown up in series I actually wanted to collect. I can get through this.

Anyhow, Ma Gnucci went up against Frank Castle, aka, The Punisher, and ended up getting her arms and legs chopped off and then got thrown into a fire. Yeah. So, that's what happened to her.

I think this is a decent job, though, of rendering a villain who's up against the wall and about to get wiped out - the SFX is based around that feeling of a last-ditch effort, and even the Limit seeks to drive up the Doom Pool to get to that magical 2d12 so you can write the villain out of the scene but introduce complications for your players.

Ma Gnucci
Solo 1d4
Buddy 1d6
Team 1d8

It’s a Man’s World

Crime Boss
Minions 1d10
Security Systems 1d8
SFX: Kill ‘Em All - Step up or double any Crime Boss power for one action. IF the action fails, add a die to the doom pool equal to the normal rating of your power die.
Limit: Quadriplegic - Step up all physical stress taken by Ma Gnucci by +1, and add a die equal to her physical stress to the doom pool.

Business Expert 1d8
Crime Master 1d10
Menace Master 1d10
Psych Expert 1d8

Making MHR Characters: Gibbon (ANOHotMU #4)

There are better pictures (see below),
but none of the others make it look like
he's trying to make a flying rage-poop.
Well, this is good news - I skipped a character. No, really, this is honestly good news. See, when I'm getting really familiar with a system, I periodically forget to actually write down the things that I come up with, storing them solely in my head.

This happened in last night's 13th Age campaign, actually, where the PCs arrived on an alien world and were supposed to be attacked by formians, creatures that I'd definitely statted up. They weren't on my computer, though, so I sought out the notebook they'd be in and . . . not there either. So, I turned to a page that sure looked like a monster write-up and carried on with the encounter. I don't think they noticed. Hope not.

Thaaaat's better.
That's exactly what I did here - I had the write-up for Gibbon just as you see here, but I never committed it to paper. I wrote all of this up and then slid in the official MHRPG wording afterward.

Anyhow, Gibbon. No prize for guessing that he first showed up in the pages of a Spiderman comic. Also no prize for guessing that he's a hard-luck semi-bad guy who occasionally has bursts of heroism and who nearly met a bad end at the hands of one of Marvel's vigilantes. With a name like this, it's kind of assumed he isn't a cosmic level threat or anything. I mean, it's no "Gamecock," but, well, what is?

Anyhow, he's basically an ape-man, which is kind of cool. I gave him powers appropriate to the write-ups I've found, and to the one comic I read that had him in it - he was partnered up with/trying to capture White Rabbit at that point. He's a good, lower-tier villain, but he has some fairly nasty surprises for groups that aren't prepared to deal with an agile fighter.

Solo 1d4
Buddy 1d8
Team 1d6

Ape-like Appearance
Morally Questionable
Never A Clean Win

Brachiation 1d8
Enhanced Speed 1d8
Enhanced Stamina 1d8
Enhanced Strength 1d8
Leaping 1d6
SFX: Focus - In a pool containing a Monkey-Man power, you may replace two dice of equal size with one die +1 step larger.
SFX: Unleashed - Step up or double any Monkey-Man power for one action. If the action fails, add a die to the doom pool equal to the normal rating of your power die.
Limit: Atavistic Fears - Step up or add 1d6 to the doom pool and step up emotional stress inflicted by attacks based on your primal nature.

Acrobatics Master 1d10

Crime Expert 1d8

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Making MHR Characters: Glob (ANOHotMU #4)

In 1969, someone decided that The Incredible Hulk needed a new bad guy and decided that the perfect thing would be a superhumanly strong, incredibly durable lump of semi-sentient plant matter because of course they did.

Is it just me, or does he look a bit like the
Pathfinder Adherer illustration?
Well, actually, it's a completely legitimate choice - see, Hulk is the strongest guy in the Marvel universe, more or less by definition, and so matching strength for strength was already getting kind of old, so giving him an opponent he couldn't just punch into submission was a strong move. At this time, Hulk lost most of his human intelligence when Hulked out, so he was forced to figure out how to outclever his opponent despite not being clever himself.

The Glob was created by the Hulk, in fact who, in a fit of his customary rage, through a barrel of radioactive waste into a swamp, right onto the body of petty criminal Joe Timms. The radiation somehow caused him to rise as a nigh-indestructible plant creature. He saw Betsy Ross and, as happens quite often, kidnapped her. He and the Hulk "fought," but the big green guy's fists just punched straight through him. As he walked back into the radioactive swamp, he began to dissolve, giving Hulk a chance to save his lady love.

No? Just me?
Aaaaand end scene. Well, not really. We'll get to the rest of his back story in a bit, but first, doesn't that origin sound a bit overly familiar, faithful reader(s)? Yeah, he's pretty much Man-Thing. Or Swamp Thing. And is descended from The Heap, a monster from the 40s who's so reminiscent of Swamp Thing that I'm shocked there hasn't been a lawsuit. So, yeah, if anyone ever complains about how "modern comics have no new ideas," remind them of the span of three years in which the two biggest company book companies invented not one, not two, but three characters that were the remnants of dead man turned into plant-things, and that all three of them have an ancestor decades older. Ain't nothing new.

Anyhow, Timms-Glob came back a few times and . . . got kind of weird to be honest with you. For a while, he could make himself look like a perfectly normal human, despite being made of the same plant stuff, after a period where he was just a brain being held by a crazy cult leader. Like I said, "weird."

Anyway, I'm using Timms as a superpowered thug here, which is how he's appeared in the last couple of years, and it seems to suit him. He's kind of one-note, but fun, and I do like that his character has some history in Marvel.

Solo 1d8
Buddy 1d6
Team 1d10

Giant Plant Body
Petty, And Also Criminal

Plant Matter Form
Godlike Durability 1d12
Godlike Stamina 1d12
Shapeshifting 1d10
Stretching 1d10
Superhuman Strength 1d10
SFX: Invulnerability - Spend 1 PP to ignore physical stress or trauma unless caused by acidic attacks.
SFX: Multipower - Use two or more Plant Matter Form powers, at -1 step for each additional power used this way.
SFX: Rapid Regrowth - Spend 1 PP to remove your physical stress and step back physical trauma by -1.
SFX: Versatile - Split Stretching into 2d at -1 step or 3d at -2 steps.
Limit: Plant Matter - Take 1 PP to step up mental stress caused by effect are driven by or target your primitive, primeval self.

Crime Expert 1d8
Menace Master 1d10