Sunday, April 28, 2013

Supervillainy A-To-Z: Thwarted!

Curse you April! Get out of my sight you misbegotten month of malicious malcontent!




After a long and arduous battle, my life has succeeded where a powerful plethora of presumptuous paladins have paled with their paltry powers. April has defeated my attempt to unleash my victorious volley of vile villainy.

I am not going to make it. I have failed to best the A-to-Z Blog Challenge.

Real world concerns, both positive and pains in the posterior, have finally found the fatal flaw in my otherwise fiendish and foolproof plan.

But no matter. There will come...a reckoning. My twenty-six member army of evil will have its revenge!

From now until I complete my list, Sundays are Supervillain Sundays here at Barking Alien!

You have been warned...


***


There, I said it. I got that off my chest. I can release the breath I've been holding in for the last hour. It's the truth, it sucks but I can live with it.

Between two jobs, freelance, tax time, being sick and trying to get in some time to game with my friends, I simply couldn't also finish this challenge.

That  realization and admission super stinks but, as my boss and good friend would say, "It is what it is."


***

In other news..
.
The Marvel Heroic Role Playing Game from Margaret Weiss Productions is no more.

The official announcement on their website is here. To read the comments below the news, highlight them as someone thought it a good idea to have dark text appear on a dark background (at least that's how it appears on my smartphone and home computer).

As I wrote to my friend and fellow blogger WQRobb:

"From everything I've seen, I am saddened by this but by no means surprised. After nearly a year on the market, the only items in the stores (in New York City - the city of, roughly, a gazillion people) were the softcover core rulebook, the hardcover Civil War book and the hardcover Civil War book with the rulebook inside it.

Wow. How diverse.

Sure there were lots of things online and I know the gaming industry thinks 'Online is The New Tomorrow, Today!', but unless something announces these releases that I am always looking at or receiving, all I know if what I see when I walk into my local game store, comic shop, Barnes & Nobles/Waldenbooks, etc. I see nothing new on the shelves, I assume (consciously or unconsciously) like the game is unsupported."

Note: Yes, I am still old school enough to want a book I can touch. I like the smell, feel and easy of paper. I like to support my local stores so our tanking economy tanks less (or at least slower). I walk into stores to buy things but I often find no one is making things for me to buy. Then I find out they are online. After the thing is no longer produced / in vogue / of interest / as cool or better than what's out now / take your pick.

"It didn't help that they opened with Civil War either. Much like Identity Crisis for DC, what was a very popular and critically acclaimed series at the time of its release is much maligned or simply forgotten now. It has little to no bearing on the current state of Marvel Comics. Most of the dead characters from it and even its aftermath are now alive. No one remembers Peter Parker is Spiderman. It really isn't a very good or action packed series to start out with from a Superhero gamer stand point."

Oh well. It is an interesting system and I'm sure it will see a lot of use at conventions. No real campaign sustainability limits its use outside that venue anyway.

On a related note...







The fourth and final book in the DC Adventures RPG series from Green Ronin, DC Adventures Universe, is available on PDF and for pre-order. Although it is disappointing to realize that this is the last of the DC Comics RPG items with official Mutants & Masterminds 3E stats, I am happy it is ending on this particular note. If they had waited too, too long, DC's current 52iness might have crept in, rendering the product uninteresting and useless. This book is not only the last hurrah for DC Adventures but in some ways, the last hurrah of the pre-Nu52 DC milieu.

Now here's a thought...maybe, with MWP no long producing a Marvel Comics RPG, Green Ronin could swing a virtually identical four book deal with Marvel. Hmmm? Oh the possibilities...


***


May approaches. Take us out Mr. Sulu. Ahead, warp factor 6.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Supervillainy A-To-Z: N is for Non Sequitur

This next villain continues the two name motif but is otherwise a bit unusual.

Note if you will that the usual has been voyeurs of cosmic catastrophe, lovelorn androids and poltergeist patriots in boo inducing battle dress. It's all relative I suppose.

I will do my best of course to make this character clear but the course may not be obvious and it may be unsurprising if we go a bit off course in the course of this description.

Above all else never forget, twin peapods the blue bee triumphs galloping turnip south out the window.


***
 
 

NON SEQUITUR
 

  
True Identity: None known. Or Unknown. Probably just none.
 
Description/Appearance: If there is one thing that can be said about Non Sequitur, is it that it most assuredly looks like itself. At least, it looks like itself more than anyone else does. By the way...Fish.
 
This being appears as a jet black silhouette, approximately 6 feet tall but perhaps a little taller and weighs, well, as much or as little as it wants. Visually it is a slim humanoid of a somewhat androgynous nature. It is always surrounded by a grayish glow of some kind but most assuredly the kind that glows gray.
 
Its most distinct features are the two tails from the back of its head resembling a jester's cap (complete with bells but the spheres at the end of these do not jingle), a long, beak-like nose which may be a mask and what appears to be a high collared, short length coat or jacket in an ever changing pattern of shifting colors.
 
It does not resemble a T-Rex. In my opinion.
 
Origin and Background: Like many aspects of the entity called Non Sequitur, very little is known about its origin and history and even less is understood.

It first appeared in the service of Endgame, attempting to delay the newly formed Crusaders Vanguard from thwarting a plan to destroy the Earth before it even cooled in space in the distant past. After the Crusaders escaped it's trap it seemed content to disappear.

During its next appearance it materialized in a battle between the Crusaders and another team of heroes from a parallel Earth. Instead of involving itself in that fight, Non Sequitur chose to mess with the portal that brought the alternate Earth superteam to our Earth and revealed Endgame to be behind the whole thing. The two groups of superheroes teamed up and stopped Endgame's plot. Once again, Non Sequitur vanished.

Although listed as a hostile entity by both I.N.S.I.G.H.T. and the Vanguard Project, Non Sequitur has been little more than an annoyance in the majority of its appearances and down right helpful during a few of them. It has also turned New York City into a deadly funhouse and tried to kill Excelsior at least once. So, sure, bad guy. Girl. Both. Entity. Bad entity. Baaad.

According to research by Mr. Twilight and CyberMan, Non Sequitur's home dimension is one with laws so different from our own that when we encounter it, our brains do the best they can with trying to comprehend it but don't even come close to getting it right. Its appearance, abilities and even action may not be what they seem.

Powers and Abilities: Non Sequitur is a being from a dimension with physics completely unlike those we have come to understand. As a result, it can perform numerous feats that defy our understanding of logic, scientific laws and even the supernormal.

First, the entity can slip in and out of our dimension and into other dimensions at will. It uses this mostly to teleport but it does so in a way that can alter its speed, position, trajectory, etc. It can also warp space, causing other people to be sent into another reality when it opens a dimensional rift for itself.

Non Sequitur can manipulate its own mass, density and dimensional relations in order to become a two dimensional, flattened out shadow, grow taller, pass through walls, weight a hundred tons and many other strange effects.

While in a pocket dimension of its own creation (which it often transports to with its dimensional travel), Non Sequitur can create powerful illusions that are all too real to the visitors who encounter them. Only a powerful psionic, mage or similar extra-dimensional entity can dismiss the inhabitants of this realm as unreal and therefore unable to harm them.

Personality and Motivations: You got me. Seriously. After years of research, no one is one hundred percent certain why Non Sequitur does what it does. There are theories however...

Many believe the entity to simply be trying to amuse itself. In its various appearances it show a whimsical, almost jovial, nature and may have no greater motivation than having fun with the denizens of our particular realm of space-time.

Another theory that is quite popular is that Non Sequitur is some kind of representative of a high power of neutrality. It is therefore aiding in the fight against evil or hindering the forces of good as it sees fit to maintain some cosmic balance.

As Non Sequitur speaks only in twisting riddles and non-linear sentences, getting an answer on its true nature is about as likely as getting a horse to up the long boredom.

***

Non Sequitur was created for Villains & Vigilantes, another invention of my Junior High School days. It was later used quite a bit for Champions under the name 'Madcap'. I later changed it back to Non Sequitur and gave it an eerier appearance and atmosphere.

The character is inspired by some rather odd sources. Many, its a version of Mister Mxyzptlk combined with the kind of characters seen more often in Marvel's cosmic crew (the Grandmaster, The InBetweener, etc.). My best point of reference for this character who be Equinox, the awesome character who appeared on The Brave and The Bold animated cartoon.

Non Sequitur for ICONS:


 


 
 
***
 
I have some news about next month's theme if you are at all interested.
 
In honor of (or perhaps despite - we have not seen it yet and can not say for certain) the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, I will once again be focusing the majority of May's posts on gaming in the Star Trek universe.
 
I've had a real itch for it of late and can't wait to discuss it with all of you. See, I like you so much I want to tell you about my itches. That's love.
 
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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Supervillainy A-To-Z: M is for Master Plan

Oh boy. I am in trouble. Big trouble.
 
How am I ever going to complete this challenge by month's end?
 
No clue, so no use griping about it. My focus at this point is on other things. The real world beckons for my attention and I must give it its due. Fear not old friends, I am not defeated yet and where there's a will there's a way. Possibly a dead guy. They have wills too.
 
My next villain has been a major player in many of my older games, yet once again I don't think the system (The ICONS Superhero RPG for those following along at home) does him any justice. He doesn't seem mechanically special. It will be up to me to convey his coolness in other ways and up to you, the GM who uses him in a game, to bring that coolness to the table.
 
Wish us both luck.
 
***
MASTER PLAN
 
 

 

 
True Identity: Milton Paternaster
 
Description/Appearance: Milton Paternaster is a plain but decent looking Caucasian fellow in good shape, with brown hair and green eyes. Paternaster is in his late 30s. He stands just under 6 feet in height and weighs around 185 lbs.. Over time he has worked out and may look a bit more fit than is reflected in early descriptions.
 
As Master Plan, Milton is garbed is a form fitting black costume with white gloves, boots, shorts and a large 'M' insignia on his chest. His detailing is purple and green, including a letter 'M' on his forehead and belt buckle. He also wears a rather flamboyant cape which is purple on the outside and green on the underside.
 
Origin and Background: Milton Paternaster was born a prodigy.

At the age of 4 he solved a Rubik's Cube, guessed the Riddle of the Sphinx and could program a VCR or DVD player with no instructions. By 6 he had read Tolstoy, balanced his family's household budget, done their taxes and found a way to rewire the TV for free cable. By 12 he had graduated High School. By 15, he had a doctorate and a master's degree. At the age of 18...he was incredibly, unendingly and painfully bored.

With money from various grants and patents coming in (he had invented several computer programs and apps when he had nothing else to do), Milton had no real desire to get a job or start a career working with, or heavens forbid...underneath, a person of normal intelligence. Instead he sought a real challenge and whiled away the hours designing various insidious plans and inescapable death traps, inspired by the villains he would see on the news and in movies.

Certain that he had surmised their true reason for failure, Paternaster created a costumed identity for himself and set out to test his theory against real law enforcement officers and superheroes. While his first few forays were not successful, it was not success he was striving for. He was never caught and his true identity never identified. There in lied the crux of his first, big plan. Supervillains never assumed they'll lose and yet always seem to. Paternaster, or Master Plan as he called himself, planned to lose from the very start. He also had 5-10 different ideas for escaping and getting away.

Soon, he starting focusing on winning while still fully expecting to lose. The key was planning. Contingency on top of contingency and back-up upon back-up. If 'Plan A' didn't work, no worries, as Milton has a Plan B, C, D, E and probably alternatives all the way up to W. After years 'in the game' as he calls it, Master Plan was finally thwarted by the combined efforts of Mothman, American Dream, Blue Traveler, Mr. Spaceman and others, who went on to form The Heartland League.

He spent little time in prison however as he had a plan on how to escape all along. OK, actually, he had a least two dozen of them.

Powers and Abilities: Outside of being one of the smartest people on the planet, Milton Paternaster has no superhuman powers. He is a scientific and technological genius as well as a master tactician and strategic mind and has developed several high tech devices to assist with his activities.

Master Plan's costume provides considerable resistance to harm, while his mask/reinforced cloth helmet protect him from mental attack. Master Plan is also highly trained and practiced in the art of resisting telepathy, ESP and mind control as he views those as the only things that can hope to defeat him. His thoughts are his ultimate weapons, so if an enemy can read his thoughts, he's done for.

Other devices Milton has created include a force field generator in his belt, various energy weapons and remote control units for the innumerable robots, traps and hidden passages weaseled away in his different secret hide outs.

Personality and Motivations: Master Plan is snarky, bold and a bit condescending to most people who encounter him and, honestly, it comes as no surprise. He is smarter and better organized than 95% of the Superhero and Supervillain community. As a result he appears to have a major ego but (and this is not to say he doesn't have one) his ability to keep himself in check is perhaps his greatest asset and what prevents him from being just another mad genius.

That said, Master Plan will never turn down a challenge to his intelligence or skill. He enjoys pitting himself against detective villains in battles of wits as much as proving brain is greater than brawn over superpowered paragons. He plans for everything and so there isn't a type of hero, or villain, he will not face.

As noted, Master Plan is well respected, if envied and despised, by the rest of the supervillains of the world. He wins fairly often when they lose constantly and yet his goals have nothing to do with wealth, vengeance or taking over the world. Where would the fun and competition be if he won the final battle without question and conquered the planet? No, that way only leads to boredom and with a mind like his, even defeat is preferable to such a hell.

***

Master Plan was created for Villains & Vigilantes when I was in Junior High School I believe. He has been used in Superworld and Golden Heroes/Squadron UK. He has not been used for Champions prior to this post but I do intend to add him in to our next campaign.

Master Plan is the villain we all think we see in comic books but rarely ever actually do. Doctor Doom is too much. Marvel's Wingless Wizard is too little. Dr. Sivana never wore a costume or had a code name. The Silver Age Lex Luthor is close but when was that last time Luthor was that guy? Seriously, the closest character I can think of relating Master Plan to is Syndrome from The Incredibles.

Master Plan for ICONS:


 
The illustration for this character was shamelessly swiped and modified from one of Count Nefaria
done by the incredibly talented Dusty Abell.


 
 
***
 
I am sure I have missed a number of birthdays and deaths and I don't want to go through them all now but I do want to make special note of a couple.
 
Happy Birthday to Mandy Morbid! Mandy is probably familiar to many of you from Zak Smith's blog PDNDWPS. She is also Zak's girlfriend. Zak put up a really cool post that recounts Mandy's past characters. So cool and kind of sweet if you ask me. I want a girl like that. That is, a girl who likes to game and is really cool and stuff.
 
Another Happy Birthday cheer for one of my childhood heroes, Lee Majors, the Six-Million Dollar Man and The Fall Guy. I remember thinking this guy was the King of Cool when I was a kid, right behind William Shatner. It helped that my dad was a big fan as well.
 
A Rest in Piece guitar riff goes out to Woodstock alumni and fascinating fellow, Richie Havens, who passed away yesterday at the age of 72. Read his Wiki entry and you'll be surprised to learn what he did that most people don't know was done by him. Peace out Mr. Havens.
 
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Friday, April 19, 2013

Supervillainy A-To-Z: L is for Lady Lamia

I used to game with my ex-wife a lot when, well, she wasn't my ex but my current...I mean my wife. I mean when we were married. And even before that. What's that called? Pre-wife?

*Sigh* Sorry. I'll start again.

There was a time when I used to game with players who were very different from those I have now. The group was more diverse, in interests, background, gender and pretty much every other way possible. They were also the greatest of friends and, as such, I could get away with a lot of stuff I can't get away with now.

A sexy female villainess appealed to my old group in ways that my modern group wouldn't appreciate. The male players were often interested in knowing how and why the lovely but lethal femme fatale had ended up on the wrong side of truth and justice. The female players were all too certain (and often quite right) that the male PCs would become ensnared by the slinky and sinister sirens and the Superheroines would need to save their spandex covered butts. My ex-wife was a big fan of adding a little romantic tension and angst to an RPG campaign and I have to say, it often worked out really well.

I love a good bad girl myself and this one, one step past the typical one if I do say so myself, is one of my favorites...


***

LADY LAMIA
 
 
 

 
 
True Identity: Unknown
 
Editor's Note: In the Crusaders Vanguard Annual #3, Blind Faith reads Lady Lamia's mind. In addition to other questions and answers pertaining to the plot, the young psionic mutant searches for her true identity or name. All he gets back is "Lamia" before she is able to resist his mental intrusion. Fans are split on whether she was able to give him false info or if her name truly is Lamia.

Description/Appearance: Most of the time, Lady Lamia remains well hidden, operating behind the scenes in one of her many lavish desert hideouts. She is rarely seen. When she does need to go 'into the field', she appears to be a strikingly beautiful, human woman of mixed or indeterminate ethnicity, often garbed in a skintight, snake skin 'cat suit'. She stands 5' 10" and is estimated to weigh about 130-140 lbs.. Her skin is a deep tan color, her eyes a bright emerald green and her hair dark brown with black and red-brown highlights.

This is, of course, an illusion. It has been revealed that from the waist down, Lady Lamia is a snake creature, covered in deep, golden-brown to dark gold scales. From the top of her head to the end of her tail she is approximately 12-15 ft. in length. Her upper body retains the look of her normal human guise.

It is assumed that in truth, this too is a further illusion. There are reports that her form and appearance, devoid of mystic glamour, is quite hideous. Allusions to this fact can send her into a bloody rage. She is very vain about her lost looks if the legends are to be believed.

Origin and Background: There is very little concrete data on the origin of Lady Lamia. This, combined with notes provided by the Crusaders member Godspeed, actually lend credence to her claims that she is in fact the mythical creature of Greek mythology.

In the myth, Lamia was a Queen or noble woman of what is now Libya. She became a mistress of the god Zeus, causing Zeus' jealous wife, Hera, to kill all of Lamia's children (except for Scylla, who is herself cursed) and transform her into a monster that hunts and devours the children of others. Another version has Hera merely stealing away all of Lamia's children and it being Lamia herself, losing her mind from grief and despair, who starts stealing and devouring others' children out of jealousy, the repeated monstrosity of which transforms her into a monster on its own.

In still another take on the story, and one that may very well be true (or what Lamia believes to be true), Hera slays Lamia's children prompting Lamia to seek out men to enslave and reproduce with, in an attempt to replace her murdered brood. When Zeus learns of Lamia's 'wanton ways', it is he who curses her with her monstrous form. Lamia certainly has a great hatred of Zeus, Hera and their relatives and descendants.

 
Powers and Abilities: Lady Lamia is a sorceress of the mind, able to cloud people's thoughts and make them see what she wants them to see.

Lamia is quite adapt at creating illusions and they are extremely effective and powerful ones. Unlike some illusions that lack smell or taste for example, Lamia's work by telling her opponent's brain that what they are experiencing is real.

In addition to illusions and astral projection, Lady Lamia's snake-like body has a number of abilities all its own. She can mesmerize people with a hypnotic gaze and her bite contains a paralyzing poison. While the gaze works better and lasts longer on men, it will effect women as well. As for the poison, apparently holding an olive branch or fig leaf with transfer some of the poison to those plants, lessening its effect on the victim.

Lady Lamia is herself immune to all known snake poisons and does not age.

Personality and Motivations: Separating fact from folklore is difficult with Lady Lamia but what is known for certain is that she has a mind for vengeance against the ancient gods of Olympus and a thirst for power. She will always seek to improve and increase her repertoire of mental magic and any spell that may be able to restore her to human form. Lamia will also never pass up an opportunity to harm or kill one of the Olympian Gods or their descendants.

Somewhat hedonistic and bored due to her immortality, Lamia passes the time with thefts of priceless artifacts from the past and conquests of handsome, young men. She is especially fond of seducing Superheroes, either for the challenge or to have them serve as minions at some later time. She is somewhat addicted to the thrill of the hunt, lavish partying and drinking and other such pursuits. Often it takes much of her willpower to know when the time for fun is over and it's time to get down to business.

Finally, her mythic nature gives her a terrible reputation which she neither denies nor completely admits too. For example, did she actually go around eating children? Does she now? Even other villains have been known to give her a wide berth (with the exception of Master Plan who, it should be noted, she finds fascinating as a result).

***

Lady Lamia was originally created for Villains & Vigilantes and has been used in Champions, Mutants & Masterminds and, believe it or not, my D&D-But-Not Dungeons & Dragons universe.

Lady Lamia for ICONS:




 
 
***
 
Today, April 18th, 2013 was the 75th Birthday of Superman, commemorating his first appearance in Action Comics #1 on this day in 1938.
 
 
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Barking Alien


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Supervillainy A-To-Z: K is for King Kaiju

Way behind? Behind you say! I don't know the meaning of the word!
 
Wait...Barkley has handed me a dictionary.
 
EGAD! By My Vocabulary Betrayed!
 
Yes sports fans and those who came here on purpose, I am indeed far behind where I wanted and expected to be at this point. Life has handed me some lemons and while trying to make lemonade I got the bloody yellow menaces everywhere and the stinging juice in my eyes.
 
That said, onward and upward!
 
The next three entries share quite a few things in common.
 
Each has a two word name.
 
Each is a slightly hokey 'Silver Age' quality to them.
 
Hokey though they may seem, each is a master villain capable of posing a threat to an entire team if used well. These are your leader villains in the Doctor Doom / Lex Luthor vain.
 
As always, questions and comments are welcome.
 
 
***


KING KAIJU







 
True Identity: Kojiro Kimihara
 
Description/Appearance: Prior to contact with the alien entity known as 'Intelligence X', Dr. Kojiro Kimihara was a pale complexioned Japanese male in his early 30s with shoulder length black hair and thick lensed glasses. He stood 5' 7" and weighed 190 lbs., making him appear paunchy.
 
As King Kaiju he stands 6' 3" tall and his trim, muscular form weighs in at 230 lbs. without his armor. Assume another 30 pounds for his protective suit, helmet and cape. While rarely seen without his helmet, he will sometimes remove it when speaking to those he deems worthy (powerful heroes, villains, important government officials, etc.).
 
In those instances, he appears to have become deathly pale almost to the point of having chalky white skin. His hair is noticeably shorter and a little spiky, while his eyes now have black sclera, golden yellow irises and red pupils. His facial features are more chiseled and handsome though he is still recognizable as Kimihara.
 
Origin and Background: Obsessed with the gigantic monsters native to a small island at the edge of the Bikini Atoll (dubbed 'Monster Island' by the Japanese military and press alike), a young Kojiro Kimihara vowed to become a teratologist. Teratology being the study of monsters.

After achieving his PhD. at the age of only 28, Kimihara worked for the Japanese government before being offered a position with I.N.S.I.G.H.T.. Kojiro accepted and moved up in the ranks of their scientific research and defense division fairly quickly. Finally, about two years into his time with them, he and a team of 6 other researchers set foot on Monster Island to investigate a series of microwave radio signals coming from a large crevice near the center of the isle.

No one knows exactly what happened when the team arrived and entered the crevice but I.N.S.I.G.H.T. has been able to extrapolate the following data from subsequent encounters with Kimihara after the incident. Somehow, Kimihara touched some kind of machine,  likely a computer or similar device of extraterrestrial origin, that transformed him into a host body for something he calls 'Intelligence X'. While he is still Kimihara, he is also this alien intelligence inside Kimihara that gives him his abilities, enables him to operate the alien's technology and drives him to do nothing less than take over the world!

Powers and Abilities: King Kaiju's primary ability is to communicate and control the 100-to-300 foot radioactive, alien monsters of Monster Island.

Kimihara's own research hypothesized that the beasts were stored in some kind of gestation pods or chambers beneath the island when atomic bomb tests unwittingly released and mutated the creatures. The resulting monstrosities are incredibly powerful, nearly indestructible and many of them possess additional abilities such at flight, webbing, sleep inducing poison or breath weapons of fire, lightning, freezing cold or even atomic energy.

Observations in the field by the Crusaders, The Vanguard Project and I.N.S.I.G.H.T. would seem to indicate that without his helmet, Kimihara/King Kaiju can only communicate emotions and simple messages to the creatures but not actually control them.

Other abilities he possess include heightened senses by seeing through the eyes of a Kaiju (different vantage point, aerial reconnaissance if the Kaiju is flying, etc.) and various personal weapons and devices of alien origin. One trick he often pulls is to activate a device on his chest that teleports him back to Monster Island if it looks like he is in danger.

His armored body suit, also a product of other worldly science, makes him highly resistant to physical harm.

Personality and Motivations: King Kaiju is a somewhat conflicted individual, often showing signs of a split personality. When he learns about a new Kaiju or thinks of a new use for his enormous minions he is known to 'geek out' over how 'cool these beings are'. This is surely the original Kimihara-sama coming through. At other times he is a focused, hard-nosed general, leading 200 foot, death dealing, repto-rhino creatures to absorb the power from a nuclear sub. That may be the alien intelligence in charge or the take-charge person the original Kimihara always wished he was.

When acting more like 'Intelligence X', King Kaiju is frightening, alien and disturbing to be around. Nothing matters but his goals and we (Humans) are all ants to be stepped on without a second thought to make way for...something...in the near future. Perhaps more aliens are on the way? No one knows at this time.

The cosmic intellect does have a weakness (other than the naivety of Kimihara that is), which is that it seems to fail to understand certain Human ideas, ideals and approaches. 'Intelligence X' may have merged with Kimihara to better understand his enemy but that doesn't mean he instantly knows everything Kimihara knows. Or, it is also possible, that since Kimihara was socially awkward and bookish before the transformation, neither of them gets exactly what it means to be Human.


***

King Kaiju was originally created for Villains & Vigilantes but has been used in Mutants & Masterminds primarily. He has had a number of incarnations, my favorite other than the above version being Doctor Terato, a sort of 'Godzilla fan geek meets David Bowie' character. Think villain as rock star.

Boy was this guy hard to draw up an image for. I hope the next few are easier.

King Kaiju for ICONS:



 
The illustration on this one is a hodge podge of many drawings and a lot of my own work and yet it still didn't come out exactly how I wanted it to. This character is one I redesign a lot and I don't think he's ever looked the same way twice. I see his clearly in my mind's eye but it looks something when I translate it to an image on screen or paper.


***
 
 
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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Supervillainy A-To-Z: J is for Jack-An-Ape

I want to open this post with my heartfelt condolences and best wishes for the citizens of Boston, Massachusetts after the tragic events of this Monday, April 15th, 2013.

I do not wish to be pessimistic but it is difficult not to be. The utopian future of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek, once a great inspiration to me, seems so far away and unrealistic now. Not because of transporters and aliens or spacecraft that can move faster than light, but because a universe in which all the nations and peoples of Humanity has joined together in peace seems to push the suspension of disbelief too far.

Homo sapiens, I challenge you. Prove me wrong.

-Adam Dickstein, 'Barking Alien', April 16th, 2013


***

JACK-AN-APE





 

True Identity: Jack (Unspecified Test Subject 'J')
 
Description/Appearance: At just under 4 feet tall and weighing roughly 80-85 lbs., Jack wouldn't seem to be the most striking of individuals. Yet somehow, what he lacks in mass he makes up for in presence.
 
Jack is a typical chimpanzee, with the exception of his attire. He has some. As a matter of fact, Jack has amassed quite a wardrobe. His favored mode of dress is a child-sized grey or black suit, a white button up shirt and a tie. He sometimes wears V-neck sweaters with a shirt and tie underneath. He prefers to go barefoot but is often seen donning a fedora type hat.
 
While a cigarette or cigar often dangles from his lips, it is never lit.
 
Origin and Background: The Cerebtellectual Alpha Wave Modulation Helmet was to be one of Master Plan's greatest triumphs, if, it in fact worked. Of course, if it malfunctioned, instead of raising his already incredibly intelligence it could leave him a blithering vegetable. What to do, what to do.

With the hired help of some other, lowered powered super crooks, Master Plan was able to, hmmm, 'liberate' a chimpanzee from a L.I.F.E. Laboratory facility just outside the Chicago city limits. Returning to his secret hide-out, Master Plan secured the chimp and attached the helmet to his head. Unbeknownst to the belligerent baron of back-up brainwork, the chimpanzee, or 'Test Subject 'J', had already been the subject of genetic engineering in an attempt to cure the condition of autism.

The combination of his altered genetic structure and the alpha waves from the helmet resulted in a violent fit and then a comatose state. Ready to dump the body somewhere, Master Plan and his men were totally stunned when the chimp woke up, escaped the chair he was strapped to, grabbed a ray gun and started blasting. The chimp escaped, smashing the helmet in the process and returned to the L.I.F.E. Lab he was taken from. Once there, he freed most of the other animals and damaged a good deal of the equipment. When a security guard entered to see what was happening, he shouted out, "Who's there?". The answer came back...

"Jack. An ape."

Powers and Abilities: Jack is, for the most part, a healthy chimpanzee with the intellect of a very clever, normal Human being. He is not superhumanly intelligent. He is super intelligent for a chimpanzee. Most of his knowledge and skill, obtained by reading books and the internet and watching TV, covers everyday things like driving, reading and writing and how to fire a machine gun. Yeah.

You see, trying to make your way in the world as a talking chimpanzee isn't easy and with his intelligence, agility and small stature, Jack quickly made his way through the ranks of Chicago's criminal underground, eventually coming out as a Northern Mid-West kingpin. He now uses his numerous flunkies and confidants to do most of the dirty work for him but isn't above getting his hands (all four of 'em) dirty if need be.

In addition to continuing to learn and improve his skills, vocabulary and understanding of the modern human world, Jack retains his animal instincts and never tries to hide or ignore the fact that he is a chimp.

Personality and Motivations: Jack is a renaissance man...er...ape and is interested in literature, art and music. He will often be involved in crimes to obtain rare books, paintings or other items of culture. His own style and culture is a bit of an 'evolved' (sorry for the pun) gangster. He is a big fan of gangster films and period shows like 'Mad Men'.

Periodically, when anger or extremely frustrated, Jack 'loses it' and suddenly seems to divorce himself from his human level intelligence, 'going ape' as it were and performing all manner of monkey business (randomly throwing things around, screeching and jumping for place to place, etc.).

Jack retains a soft spots for animals and a powerful dislike of cages, L.I.F.E. Labs (even though they actually treated him relatively well) and Master Plan. While out of his league against the big MP, he will team with other villains or even heroes to stick-in to that malign, meticulous maniac.


***

Jack was originally created for Villains & Vigilantes and has been used in Champions and Mutants & Masterminds as well.

Seriously, what comic book universe would be complete without a talking ape? I love getting to play him. I see him much less like Gorilla Grodd or even Monsieur Mallah or that type of ape villain and more like an cross between a Batman mob villain and Detective Chimp.

Jack-An-Ape for ICONS:


 
 
 
The illustration is straight up taken from comic book artist Brahm Revel. I was going to draw my interpretation of Jack when I saw this and thought it was just too perfect. I did the coloring.


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Supervillainy A-To-Z: I is for Interceptor

Remember me?
 
It's OK if you don't. Heck, I barely do.
 
It seems like its been forever since I've posted and yeah, I know I'm way behind again. Doing my taxes this year was a horrible experience. How is it I make so little and owe so much? Not to mention anything with that much cross referencing of that many numbers gives me heart palpitations.
 
I am actually finished with the art and character sheets for entries I though M. It's just writing them up here and posting them that need be done.
 
Let's see if I can get a couple up each night this week. I should catch up by Friday if all goes well.
 
Famous last words.


***

INTERCEPTOR




 

True Identity: Junjie Zhou
 
Description/Appearance: A good looking Chinese male with tanned skin, black hair and unearthly, glowing blue irises, Zhou is both attractive and unnerving. He stands 5' 9" tall and weighs in at 160 lbs. His legs are very well muscled with an obvious runners physique.
 
As Interceptor he wears a costume that is primarily dark blue and black with glowing, electric blue trim and a white mask and boots. At the moment his Bio-Surge Power activates, his eyes (covered by a specially designed visor) shine even brighter and he is surrounded by a crackling, light blue field of what appears to be electricity.
 
Origin and Background: Life in the fast lane was considered far too slow for Hong Kong spoiled, rich kid Junjie Zhou. The son of a wealthy industrialist, Junjie wanted nothing to do with his father's business, though the elder Zhou hoped his son would one day mature and take over the company.

Junjie had other ideas, most of which revolved around Hong Kong's night life and the drifting and racing communities of the far east. The younger Zhou was interested in fast cars, fast women and the endless parties his father's money and his racing talent got him into.

That is, until that one fateful day his spun out of control during a race and he was certain he was about to go into a spin that would result in a painful, perhaps deadly, collision. He turned to look at a driver in another car, to his left and slightly behind his vehicle, who was far enough to be clear of the impending crash. Suddenly, there was a blue flash of light and Junjie was launched sideways through the window of his car and yanked, as if by some invisible rope, into the drivers seat of the other vehicle. He slammed into the other driver who was thrown hard into the seat and door to his left*.

After the race, Zhou was questioned heavily about what piece of technology he had used to eject himself from his car. Zhou didn't know himself until he did a bit of exploration and practice, eventually learning he had superhuman speed and the ability to 'lock on' to a living target and then generate a bio-electric energy surge which would attract him towards the person. The surge, once locked on, would match the speed of the target, bringing Junjie along for the ride.

Unfortunately the power came with a side effect. Junjie was a mutant**, evidenced by his glowing blue eyes ever since that first incident. His friends shunned him, his father disowned him one that truth of the incident got out and he decided to leave for England not long after.

He next appeared on the international scene as a criminal, an assassin and bodyguard to some of the most notorious villains on Earth. Past employers have included Jack-An-Ape, The Bad Company and even Master Plan.

Powers and Abilities: In addition to being able to run at superspeed, Interceptor can mentally lock on to the bio-energy signature of another person (or actually an animal life form) and then follow that signature wherever it goes.

By charging up his own bio-energy field, Zhou can 'attach' and 'attract' himself to the target, appearing to be pulled toward them at a speed that essentially matches the target and then adds the speed Zhou is moving at that time. This creates the effect of making Interceptor nothing short of a Human Guided Missile!

He had pulled a number of stunts with this power including striking super speedsters faster than himself (like the Crusader known as Godspeed) and even enabling him to hit people otherwise out of reach such as flying heroes.

Personality and Motivations: While no longer quite the spoiled brat he once was, Interceptor still showcases a massive ego thanks to his powers. While he can be charming if he wants to be, spending any length of time in his presence will eventually make a Buddhist Monk want to punch him in the face.

Zhou remains a thrill seeker and often takes on opponents that are too tough for him or tries risky moves as much for the adrenaline rush as to prove he is one of the fastest and most dangerous super villains around.


***

Interceptor was first created for Villains & Vigilantes over 25 years ago. He was very prominent in one or two of my old Champions campaigns. Interceptor has had a few incarnations and variations and his costume has gone through some minor alterations but for the most part he really hasn't changed overly much from his original design.

I have a number of oddball super speedsters, each one a little stranger than the last. Super speed is one of those powers we've seen so often I wanted to do something a bit different with in. I like how this idea works out in games.


Interceptor for ICONS:







 ***
 
Notes:
 
*In China and Japan, like England, drivers sit on the right hand side of the vehicle.
 
**Mutants in many of my worlds are the same as those from my friend Will's Champion campaign universe. Mutants always, ALWAYS, have some physical evidence of the genetic phenomena that gives them their superpowers. While it need not be extremely obvious or impossible to conceal, no mutant on my world looks like Alex Summers/Havok or Jean Grey/Marvel Girl-Phoenix.
 
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Supervillainy A-To-Z: H is for Hollow Victory

Sometimes a character concept comes to me by taking a look at two or three superheroes or supervillains from the 'Big Two' (Marvel and DC) and pulling an Amalgam Comics move.

That was certainly the case here. I started by noticing that there were very few (hardly any actually) supervillains with the rather-creepy-for-a-hero-to-have power of possession. The version of possession I am thinking of here is that used by Deadman and Jericho, both DC characters.

I thought to myself, "What if Captain America had died in the ice and became Deadman?". Then, what if he was a bad guy. Of sorts. This fellow, more than any other I had posted here so far, is a bit more anti-hero than villain. If should be made clear though, he remains firmly in the villain camp. He simply has a streak of his old life remaining and sometimes it comes to the forefront.

So there you have it, an amalgam, not quite anti-hero with a cool outfit and creepy powers.

Enjoy...


***



 HOLLOW VICTORY
 


 

True Identity: Buckley 'Buck' Bradshaw
 
Description/Appearance: When he served his country as American Victory, Bradshaw was 6' 2", 240 lbs., with rugged good looks, sandy blonde hair and blue eyes.
 
All that remains of this patriotic protector is the armored booster suit he wore in his short lived career as a super soldier and hero. It remains in excellent condition, with only a minimal amount of visible wear and tear on its red, white and (mostly) blue exterior. The sight of this seemingly uninhabited armor charging across a field of battle is most unnerving.

Origin and Background: Project: Trinity has had (since its development following the end of World War II) its ups and downs. The information obtained from the early German research into the creation of supernormal military operatives has resulted in some of our greatest superheroes, though rarely without various issues or side effects. Every once in a while there is a new advancement or someone claims a better understanding of the process and we try again.

US Army Major Buckley Bradshaw seemed like the perfect candidate for another attempt to create a super soldier. Physically impressive, mentally sharp and matching all DNA compatibility tests, Bradshaw was approached with the opportunity and he excepted. Although there were considerable dangers involved, Buckley Bradshaw, 'Buck' to his men, would do anything from his country.

For this particular incarnation of Project: Trinity, only Phase One and Three would be utilized. Bradshaw would be injected with the 'First Ring' super soldier serum and than outfitted with a Booster Suit (the 'Third Ring'), an armored suit capable of temporarily boosting his physical and mental abilities while worn.

The operation was a success and for a little over a year, the press and patriotic Americans everywhere thrilled to win after win against terrorists and criminals thanks to Bradshaw as 'American Victory'. During this time he teamed up with other superheroes, most notably members of the Crusaders Vanguard, such as Maiden America, Godspeed, Mr. Twilight, Touché and Blind Faith.

Around this time, Bradshaw told his handlers and superiors he was experiencing moments of great insight and awareness. According to his descriptions, Bradshaw was having near out of body experiences that told him what his enemies were going to do next. Of course, Buck neglected to mention the terribly painful migraines he suffered during these instances.

Intrigued by the possibilities, the scientists of Project: Trinity considered exposing American Victory to the Alpha Wave Rays of the Phase Two, designed to enhance mental powers. Bradshaw had originally tested negative for such abilities and was not considered a psionic prospect. Still...

Without full approval from those in charge of the operation, the scientists set up the equipment and bathed Bradshaw's head with a series of waves on a fairly low setting. It was believed safer and they hoped the enhancing abilities of the Booster Suit would help increase the effectiveness of any abilities Bradshaw developed.

It wasn't long before the abilities improved and their side effects started to show. American Victory would often become confused and disoriented right before gaining some amazing revelation about his opponent's tactics. Unfortunately, the disorienting effect occurred one time too many, for too many moments that could never be found again once lost. American Victory was killed in action against the forces of 'The Last Rite', essentially vaporized by a powerful explosive. When I.N.S.I.G.H.T. and Vanguard moved in to retrieve the body and the armor they saw it was empty...and then it moved.

The Booster Suit stood up on its own and proceeded to wade right into the battle. At some point it was seen lying on the ground near a Last Rite operative who was attacking his own minions. The suit disappeared from sight soon after and has been seen only a dozen or so times since. It would seem Buck Bradshaw still has some unfinished business.

Powers and Abilities: The apparently haunted Booster Suit is an extremely tough and durable armor set capable of protecting...whatever it is Bradshaw has become. When attacked, Bradshaw (now morbidly dubbed 'Hollow Victory' by a group of Vanguard agents who regretted it later) acts like he can still die, although that would not seem to be the case.

When not inside the suit, the spirit, soul, psychic consciousness or whatever you want to call it, can attempt to possess another person near by (within line of sight). Hollow Victory can possess anyone, although he has some difficulty maintaining control with aliens. He can even take over robots and androids but for now more than thirty minutes tops. When in control he can move them around as if wearing a costume (which is pretty much how he moves the armor he wears).

The suit still functions, enabling Hollow Victory to temporarily increase his strength, speed or fighting ability. He can only do one at a time. Prowess and speed seem to be his preference.

Personality and Motivations: It is difficult to determine the exact nature of Hollow Victory's motivation, as it is difficult to determine the exact nature of what he even is. Is he a ghost haunting advanced combat armor, the psychic impressions left behind by a dead psionic and inhabiting the suits systems?

One thing is clear and that is, while Hollow Victory will steal to obtain the parts he needs to repair his armor, he tends to avoid attacking military or police authorizes without provocation. The most common target of his more aggressive abilities are criminals and villains, especially those that work for secret societies such as The Last Rite. Still, he will sometimes get involved in a battle between superheroes and such individuals and accost the heroes if they try to protect their opponents (Evil doesn't deserve your protection!).


***
 

Hollow Victory was originally created for Champions 4th Edition but didn't get much use until I converted him into Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Edition. There he was an infrequent and surprisingly creepy opponent who would sometimes warn the PCs of a greater supernatural threat that way surely on its way.


Hollow Victory for ICONS:


 


 
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