A World Less Magical But No Less Fantastic

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Davies
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Re: A World Less Magical But No Less Fantastic

Post by Davies » Tue May 19, 2020 10:44 pm

El Dorado/O Homen de Ouro
Image

Born to reasonably wealthy parents in 1978, Victor Furtado demonstrated his Hyperbrain talents in elementary school and was scooped up by Brazil's first think tank when he was fourteen, with the reluctant consent of his parents. It soon became clear (to him at least) that while he might have been a prodigy outside, inside he was at best a third-rater. He counted himself lucky that his mentors allowed him to develop his talents at his own pace, and encouraged him to learn as much about art as he did about science and technology, for the former was his true love.

However, Victor was also carefully conditioned to believe that the think tank was the only place he would ever find safety, and, when he turned eighteen, he chose to remain when given the 'option' to leave. He contributed quite a bit to the designs of the other Hyperbrains, and helped to make their environment a home, rather than a sterile laboratory, through his art. Three years later, though, the facility was forcibly shut down by the government as part of a wave of reaction against the think tank concept, and Victor found himself cast out into a cold, cruel, unwelcoming world.

Well, that's what it seemed like for the first few days, but his parents were actually eager to reconnect with him, even if they didn't (couldn't) fully understand or appreciate what he'd been through. They gave him a private home on their estate, and a job in their family business that was more or less a sinecure, with the promise that, once he felt secure, they'd find him some meaningful work. Victor appreciated that, but he wasn't sure what he wanted to do. He focused on his art, exploring landscapes for the first time.

It was while he was hiking through the Amazon in search of inspiration that he discovered the spaceship, much to his amazement. He hadn't heard anything about a vessel coming down on the news, recently, and the vessel's profile didn't match any of the extraterrestrial cultures he'd learned about. He managed to get inside of it, and worked his way to what he assumed was a control deck, where he got another surprise. The vessel was inhabited, and by a fellow human being! Before Victor could say anything, though, the wounded master of the vessel said something in a language he didn't recognize, pressed something into his hands, and then expired.

It was only then that Victor recognized him as the superhero known as the Meteor, who'd vanished in 1972. The object he'd just been given was a glowing pentagonal prism. Quickly making the connection between these two facts, he closed his hand around it and focused his thoughts on the idea of flight. In the blink of an eye, he found himself surrounded by a golden force field and hovering an inch or so above the spaceship's deck. Whoever the Meteor had been, he'd entrusted Victor with the source of his power.

His first use of the power was to dig a grave for the other man, and then he returned home to begin a long period of study of the powers and limitations of his new abilities. Victor considered keeping his activities a secret from his parents, but decided that their better social skills might be put to good use in helping him keep the situation secret from everyone else. They were every bit as startled by this development as he'd been, but adapted quickly, and agreed to help him, privately being very grateful that their son had not become some sort of mad scientist.

He spent two years in this period of research, but even though he suspected that he was just starting to scratch the surface of what the prism could do, events forced a momentary end to it. Cerebron's attack, while concentrated in the northern hemisphere, did also target a number of sites in the south. Despite his lack of experience, Victor could think of no more qualified individual to answer this attack, and so launched into battle. Less than a minute later, he was struck down and out by the attacking drone, and didn't wake up until after the future members of the Power Company had driven Cerebron away from Earth.

This has given him something of a complex, unfortunately. While he contacted the Power Company a week later, and became their first non-founding member, he feels (perhaps unfairly) that they should have sought him out. Thus, he engages in a fair amount of self-promotion and glory-hounding, even sponsoring a Portuguese-language comic about his adventures. It probably doesn't help matters that he's had to get used to people calling him El Dorado, a Spanish name, when he doesn't even speak Spanish. It definitely doesn't help matters that, as an atheist and humanist, he increasingly feels uncomfortable and even frightened in the militantly Catholic nation that Brazil is rapidly becoming.

His greatest enemy is the individual known as El Diablo Rojo, an alien criminal (at least that what he hopes that the fellow is) who uses a power prism much like Victor's own, but to enhance his career as a gang leader in Ecuador. He's made genuine attempts to get El Diablo to talk to him about the origins of their mutual powers, but the criminal has shown no interest in cooperating with him in any way that doesn't end in El Dorado's death. However, he's recently had a breakthrough by learning, from the Last Men Standing, that there's a world on the far side of the Technate where such prisms are apparently as common as grass! But traveling there will take him away from Earth and his allies and his home and why in the world is he hesitating?

El Dorado/O Homen de Ouro -- PL 11

Abilities:
STR
11/2 | STA 2 | AGL 4 | DEX 4 | FGT 4 | INT 6 | AWE 4 | PRE 3

Powers:
Power Prism: Removable (-21 points)
* Force Field: Sustained Impervious Protection 12, Linked Sustained Immunity 10 (life support) - 34 points
* Offensive Applications: Array (24 points)
  • Basic Blast: Ranged Damage 11, Accurate 2 - 24 points
  • Exo-Armor: Enhanced Advantage 2 (Close Attack 2); Enhanced Strength 9; Enhanced Strength 4, Limited to Lifting - 1 point
  • Explosive Blast: Ranged Burst Area Damage 8 - 1 point
  • Force Objects: Moveable Create 7, Precise - 1 point
  • Reactive Armor: Reaction Damage 6 - 1 point
  • Stun Blast: Ranged Affliction 12 (Resisted by Fortitude; Dazed, Stunned, Incapacitated) - 1 point
  • Tractor-Presser Beam: Move Object 12 - 1 point
* Phased Flight: Flight 11 (4000 MPH), Aquatic; Insubstantial 3; Movement 3 (environmental adaptation [zero-g], space flight 2) - 44 points

Advantages:
Accurate Attack, All-Out Attack, Beginner's Luck, Close Attack 2, Improved Initiative, Interpose, Language (English, [Portuguese is native]), Luck 2, Move-by Action, Ranged Attack 2, Redirect.

Skills:
Close Combat: Unarmed 4 (+8), Expertise: Art 4 (+10), Expertise: Science 4 (+10), Insight 5 (+9), Perception 7 (+11), Persuasion 6 (+9), Technology 4 (+10).

Offense:
Initiative +8
Unarmed +10/+8 (Close Damage 11/2)
Basic Blast +10 (Ranged Damage 11)
Stun Blast +6 (Ranged Fortitude 12)
Explosive Blast -- (Ranged Burst Area Damage 8)

Defense:
Dodge 8, Parry 8, Fortitude 7, Toughness 14/2, Will 12

Totals:
Abilities 58 + Powers 87 + Advantages 13 + Skills 17 + Defenses 21 = 196 points

Complications:
Discovery--Motivation. Glory Hound. Nemesis (El Diablo Rojo.) Power Loss (prism energy depletes.)

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Davies
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Re: A World Less Magical But No Less Fantastic

Post by Davies » Wed May 20, 2020 2:15 am

Pedro Blanco
Image

The story is a simple one. Pedro Blanco was born to a middle class family in Rio de Janeiro, did fairly well in his academic career, and, on his college graduation in 2001, was recruited by Argus. He performed a variety of tasks over the next eight years, getting good results but never achieving much of note. In 2009, however, the original agent assigned as El Dorado's minder was forced into retirement after an injury, and Pedro was selected to serve as his replacement. His predecessor arranged for him to be hired by the Furtado family as Victor's new business secretary, and the rest should have been easy.

There was just one problem. It's a familiar one to Argus, though not one with which they have much sympathy. It's understandable if their agents develop a healthy regard for their superhuman associates, but they're supposed to remember that the mission comes before the safety of any asset, and any agent. And they're definitely not supposed to fall in love with an asset.

So Pedro is doing his level best to make sure that no one knows that he's in love with Victor, and would without hesitation choose him over the mission every single time. It's a one-sided love, as Victor identifies as asexual, but Pedro believes that this is the result of his conditioning by the think tank, rather than his nature. (And he might be right, as the records of the think tank in question suggest that it was attempting to ensure that their Hyperbrains didn't breed.)

For now, all that Pedro does is slightly massage the information he passes back to his superiors to make Victor look and sound better than he is, that his glory-hounding is just a habit at this stage and that he has no interest or intention of leaving Earth for an extended period ... oh, and that he hasn't had any success in duplicating the power prism, and could be easily and permanently depowered by having it stolen from him. Pedro honestly thinks that he's doing his superiors a favor by not letting them know the truth on that score. They'll sleep better that way.

Pedro Blanco -- PL 4

Abilities:
STR 1 | STA 2 | AGL 1 | DEX 1 | FGT 3 | INT 2 | AWE 2 | PRE 2

Advantages:
Contacts, Defensive Roll, Equipment 2, Language 2 (Spanish, others, [Portuguese is native]).

Equipment:
Light pistol (Ranged Damage 3), handcuffs, smartphone.

Skills:
Athletics 4 (+5), Deception 6 (+8), Expertise: Business 7 (+9), Expertise: Civics 4 (+6), Expertise: Current Events 4 (+6), Expertise: Streetwise 4 (+6), Insight 4 (+6), Intimidation 4 (+6), Investigation 6 (+8), Perception 5 (+7), Persuasion 4 (+6), Ranged Combat: Guns 4 (+5), Technology 4 (+6), Vehicles 4 (+5).

Offense:
Init +1,
Unarmed +3 (Damage 1),
Pistol +5 (Ranged Damage 3).

Defense:
Dodge 4, Parry 4, Fort 3, Tou 4/2, Will 3.

Totals:
Abilities 28 + Powers 0 + Advantages 6 + Skills 32 + Defenses 9 = 75 points

Complications:
Responsibility--Motivation. Relationship (Victor Furtado). Secret (Argus agent.)

Voltron64
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Re: A World Less Magical But No Less Fantastic

Post by Voltron64 » Wed May 20, 2020 3:40 am

Davies wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 2:15 am
So Pedro is doing his level best to make sure that no one knows that he's in love with Victor, and would without hesitation choose him over the mission every single time. It's a one-sided love, as Victor identifies as asexual, but Pedro believes that this is the result of his conditioning by the think tank, rather than his nature. (And he might be right, as the records of the think tank in question suggest that it was attempting to ensure that their Hyperbrains didn't breed.)
Nothing in there about Victor being Aromantic, so there's still some hope for Pedro even if it might not have everything he wanted.

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Davies
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Re: A World Less Magical But No Less Fantastic

Post by Davies » Wed May 20, 2020 4:22 am

Power Prism
Image

As hinted at in Pedro's entry, El Dorado has discovered how to induce his power prism to create duplicates of itself. These duplicates are not as powerful as the original, but would (if used by El Dorado or another experienced wielder) quickly develop to that level of power if used exclusively over a few days' time. Victor does not know this, and so reserves the five duplicates that he's made against the possibility of the original's loss or destruction, rather than building them up into a more powerful form.

The possibility of allowing other people to use these lower-powered prisms has occurred to him, but as yet there is no one whom he trusts enough to give such a weapon -- except possibly Paragon, who wouldn't need one, and his parents, whom he wouldn't want to risk their lives in this manner. Even if he trusted someone enough, he has certain standards that he would insist that they meet.

What follows is a profile that describes those standards. (It should perhaps be mentioned that El Diablo Rojo can use his power prism in different ways than this, and that it has never and probably will never occur to him to try and create duplicates of it.)

Novice Prism Wielder -- PL 6

Abilities:
STR 1 | STA 1 | AGL 2 | DEX 2 | FGT 2 | INT 3 | AWE 3 | PRE 2

Powers:
Power Prism: Removable (-10 points)
* Flight Mode: Flight 7 (250 MPH) - 14 points
* Force Field: Sustained Protection 8, Linked Sustained Immunity 10 (Life Spport) - 18 points
* Offensive Applications: Array (16 points)
  • Basic Blast: Ranged Damage 8 - 16 points
  • Exo-Armor: Enhanced Strength 8 - 1 points
  • Force Objects: Moveable Create 5 - 1 point
  • Tractor-Pressor Beam: Move Object 8 - 1 point
Advantages:
None.

Skills:
Close Combat: Unarmed 1 (+3), Expertise: Science 2 (+5), Perception 3 (+6), Persuasion 2 (+4), Technology 2 (+5).

Offense:
Initiative +2
Unarmed +3 (Close Damage 9/1)
Basic Blast +2 (Ranged Damage 8)

Defense:
Dodge 3, Parry 3, Fortitude 4, Toughness 9/1, Will 5.

Totals:
Abilities 32 + Powers 41 + Skills 9 + Defenses 8 = 90 points

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Davies
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Re: A World Less Magical But No Less Fantastic

Post by Davies » Wed May 20, 2020 8:59 am

Blakestone
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Once upon a time -- 1986, to be precise -- there was a wealthy and powerful woman who, having pricked her finger while torturing someone, found herself engulfed in a vision which revealed to her that she would one day have a daughter with skin white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair black as ebony. As this was not at all part of her life's ambition, she finished off her victim and then removed to a different part of her mansion's dungeon to divine how this vision could be prevented. She saw that it could be done easily ... but that if she allowed it to happen, her daughter-to-be would grow in magic and beauty, and that she could steal both for herself.

Therefore, she endured the indignity of sex and the discomfort of pregnancy, and, sure enough, she gave birth to a child with skin white as snow. (The lips red as blood and the hair black as ebony came along in due course.) Jennifer Chase was the name on her birth certificate, though her mother only ever called her 'Girl'. The years turned, and she carefully taught her daughter the secrets of magic she had gathered, to kindle the power that she would one day claim. She was pleased to find herself disgusted by the gentle nature of the girl, who wept whenever she was made to perform the necessary (and, to her mother's mind, enjoyable) sacrifices of their praxis. That would make it easy, when the time came, as did her growing jealousy over the girl's beauty.

And then, at last, at the start of the girl's fourteenth year, she consulted her mirror oracle, which assured her that her child was more beautiful and more powerful than she. Enjoying the rare sensation of anger, she went to the girl's room to bring her down to the dungeon for a special ritual. And there, she found an open window, and a rope made of bedsheets tied to it; and outside the window, a trail of footprints in the new-fallen snow.

"Did you think you were the only one who asked me things?" said the mirror oracle right before she smashed it.

Jennifer ran. She ran from the only home she'd ever known, sure that she was being chased by the cruel creature who'd both brought her into the world and now meant to take her out of it. She ran until she reached a place where the fabric of the world was soft enough that she could step through it, and then she took that step and found herself in the city called Boston, miles away from the manor. There was no time to stop and see the sights, though, so she kept running, and jumping. Eventually, she came to a place called LaGuardia Airport, where some fast talking got her on an airplane bound for a place called Heathrow Airport. Perhaps that place, adjacent to the city called London, would be far enough for her to elude the pursuit of her mother.

It was, at least, far enough that she allowed herself to rest in a hotel room, and try to figure out what to do next. Try and fail, alas, for she knew of nowhere that was truly beyond reach for someone like her mother, and no one who would shield her from her mother's fury. She'd been introduced to other members of the occult underground, but none of them had seemed any less cruel than her mother; like as not they would only sell her back to where she'd started, or use her in some grim fashion of their own. What was she supposed to do?

And then mechanisms all across the city went berserk in response to the will of some alien. Jennifer prepared to start running again, but as she did, she caught a glance of herself in the hotel room's mirror. Quite suddenly, she felt something more than fear and dread. She felt a terrible anger. All that she had ever been had been part of her mother's scheme ... but if she kept running, that would also be all that she would ever be, too. And so when she walked out of the room, she did not start running, but walked out of the hotel lobby into the chaotic streets where robots were running amok ... and then she fought.

After it was all over, Jennifer spent the next two weeks in the hospital recovering from the injuries she received defending the city of London. There were no well-wishers, no cards and flowers -- she was something every bit as terrifying as what she'd fought against. Well, perhaps that's not true. There was one strange young man in a hospital gown of his own who came into her room while she was pretending to sleep, and sat down beside her, not saying anything. Perhaps he was waiting for her to wake up so he could say something, but she fell into actual sleep and he was gone when she woke up.

And the very next day, someone else came to her room, a woman who'd visited with her mother. The woman didn't say anything either before she left, but Jennifer knew that she had to escape. Despite her injuries, she managed to get out of the hospital ... but she had no idea where to go next. Then she remembered something that had been on the news, about how the more illustrious heroes who'd fought off the invasion had built a flying headquarters for themselves, hovering over the Atlantic. Drawing on all her magic, she willed herself to step through space to there, and found herself in their meeting room. In the fading moments of her consciousness, she realized that there were seven of them. That seemed important, but she couldn't quite remember why.

That was all a long time ago. She's grown up a lot in the years since then, and so has her magic. She serves as the Power Company's expert on the subject, as well as standing beside them -- well, more often behind them -- in battle. She also helps to lead the Ultra Girls along with Snowfall, and helps Prydwen to acclimate to the present day along with Nick Grey. (And may or may not be in love with the two of them, but she's not very good at that sort of thing.) Then there's her efforts to actually become the expert on magic that her allies need, and her duty as the guardian of the House of Riddles in London, and her ongoing enmity with Jodie Crowley, and -- her life is kind of a mess, if we're being honest.

At least she doesn't have to worry about her mother, anymore. Last year, infuriated that the girl was refusing to die, the woman abandoned sanity and tried to make an alliance with Crowley. And Crowley spun a web of tricks around the old woman until she didn't know which way was up, and then stole through the manor's defenses to murder its master and steal all her grimoires and artifacts. And so Jennifer was free of curse that was her mother, but not in the way that she wanted. It only made her hate Crowley even more ... and she's not at all sure that she's going to be able to fight them as a superhero.

Blakestone -- PL 9

Abilities:
STR 0 | STA 0 | AGL 1 | DEX 3 | FGT 4 | INT 2 | AWE 5 | PRE 3

Powers:
Coat of Protection: Flight 4 (30 MPH); Protection 12; Removable (-4 points) - 16 points
Mystic Awareness: Senses 3 (analytical radius mystic awareness) - 3 points
Mystical Talents: Array (24 points)
  • Astral Projection: Remote Viewing 8 (Auditory, Visual), Quirk (physical body is helpless), Subtle - 24 points
  • Burning Blast: Ranged Damage 12 - 1 point
  • Ghost Hands: Perception Range Move Object 7, Precise, Subtle 2 - 1 point
  • Maddening Blast: Ranged Damage 8, Resisted by Will - 1 point
  • Phantasms: Illusion 4 (All Senses), Area, Selective, Resisted by Will - 1 point
  • Portals: Extended Teleport 12, Extended Only - 1 point
  • Spell of Speech: Selective Area Mental Communication 1; Burst Area Affects Others Comprehend Languages 3 - 1 point
  • Suggestion: Hearing-Dependent Perception Range Cumulative Affliction 8 (Dazed, Compelled, Controlled) - 1 point
Shielded Mind: Impervious Will 8, Limited to Mental Effects - 4 points

Advantages:
Accurate Attack, Equipment 3 (Headquarters), Power Attack, Ranged Attack 3, Ritualist, Trance

Equipment:
House of Riddles: Size Medium, Toughness 10, Features Concealed, Dual-size (Huge), Laboratory, Library, Living Space, Personnel, Sealed, Security System, Self-repairing, Workshop - 15 points

Skills:
Deception 8 (+11), Expertise: Magic 8 (+11), Insight 6 (+11), Intimidation 4 (+7), Investigation 6 (+8), Perception 4 (+9), Sleight of Hand 4 (+7), Stealth 6 (+7).

Offense:
Initiative +1
Unarmed +4 (Close Damage 0)
Burning Blast +6 (Ranged Damage 12)
Maddening Blast +6 (Ranged Damage 8, Resisted by Will)
Suggestion -- (Perception Range Will 8)

Defense:
Dodge 6, Parry 6, Fortitude 6, Toughness 12/0, Will 12

Totals:
Abilities 36 + Powers 58 + Advantages 10 + Skills 23 + Defenses 20 = 147 points

Complications:
Responsibility--Motivation. Enemy (Jodie Crowley). Mystical and Enigmatic. Relationship (Prydwen, Nick Grey). Reputation (Witch).
Last edited by Davies on Fri May 22, 2020 9:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Davies
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Re: A World Less Magical But No Less Fantastic

Post by Davies » Wed May 20, 2020 8:24 pm

Dame Beatrice Barrowman
Image

In the course of an active life, one acquires regrets. Dame Beatrice, one of the founders of Argus and a member of its executive council, has led what could be called a very active life. Under no circumstances would she ever discuss the greatest regrets she has acquired, but she has been known to speak of recently acquired ones.

Two of those regrets concern the current Blakestone, or Jennifer Chase. Dame Beatrice truly regrets that she didn't realize what Gertrude Gallowglass was planning when she learned that her old enemy was with child, or when she paid a social call and had the opportunity to see the child in her natural habitat. And she also regrets that, when she found the girl again in a London hospital, she decided to wait for her to recover more before taking her into custody.

If only she'd seized her at once, she could have had an ideal, perfect student to mold into the greatest sorceress the world has ever seen. And then she could have dumped all her tedious responsibilities onto the girl, so she could run off to, oh, run a haunted house somewhere in her native Italy, terrifying local peasants and the occasional stranded motorist. It would have been soooo wonderful, and sometimes she awakens sobbing from dreams where it actually happened.

Instead, the girl is off playing cops and robbers with the Power Company, risking her neck for those who will never appreciate it. It's tragic, really. Still, what can't be cured must be endured, and so Dame Beatrice has pre-empted any attempts to assign the Blakestone a handler by declaring that she will personally take that job. She has done this without ever personally encountering Jennifer, using magic to send her omens that she trusts the girl to read correctly.

Dame Beatrice is more learned in magic than Blakestone, but not particularly powerful. She's never seen the point of developing strong offensive mystical abilities, as she avoids face-to-face combat. Instead, she's put most of her effort into her defensive abilities, so much that she functionally cannot die unless the painting (of herself, of course) in which she's placed her vital energies is destroyed. That painting is kept in a very secure Argus facility, along with half-a-dozen copies that she's enchanted to make them seem like the original.

Dame Beatrice Barrowman -- PL 7

Abilities:
STR -1 | STA 0 | AGL 2 | DEX 2 | FGT 1 | INT 4 | AWE 6 | PRE 4

Powers:
Defensive Wards: Sustained Impervious Protection 10, Activation (Standard Action) - 18 points
Mystic Awareness: Senses 3 (analytical radius mystic awareness) - 3 points
Shielded Mind: Impervious Will 10, Limited to mental effects - 5 points
Undying: Immortality 10; Immunity 12 (aging, life support, need for sleep); Regeneration 10 - 42 points

Advantages:
Benefit 2 (Security Clearance, Status), Connected, Contacts, Evasion, Fascinate (Intimidation), Fearless 2, Languages 4 (many, [Italian is native]), Ritualist, Well-informed.

Skills:
Deception 6 (+10), Expertise: Magic 8 (+12), Insight 6 (+10), Intimidation 8 (+12), Investigation 7 (+11), Perception 6 (+12), Persuasion 7 (+11).

Offense:
Initiative +2
Unarmed +1 (Close Damage -1)

Defense:
Dodge 4, Parry 3, Fortitude 2, Toughness 10/0, Will 11

Totals:
Abilities 36 + Powers 67 + Advantages 14 + Skills 25 + Defenses 11 = 154 points

Complications:
Responsibility ... or Something Like That--Motivation. Flamboyant. Power Loss (Undying, if the painting where her life force rests is destroyed). Secrets (Argus director, magician). Utterly Cynical.

Shock
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Re: A World Less Magical But No Less Fantastic

Post by Shock » Wed May 20, 2020 8:48 pm

At a guess, Beatrice Barrowman isn't her birth name, being native to Italy. How old is she and how many aliases has she gone through?

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Davies
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Re: A World Less Magical But No Less Fantastic

Post by Davies » Wed May 20, 2020 9:34 pm

Shock wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 8:48 pm
At a guess, Beatrice Barrowman isn't her birth name, being native to Italy. How old is she and how many aliases has she gone through?
As of 2020, she's in her early nineties -- based on an account which suggests she was around 18 in 1945 -- and she's used too many aliases to count. (She tends to favor alliteration -- Salome Snape, Eleanor Elliot, Catherine Cavendish, etc.) Beatrice Barrowman is the name on her English naturalization papers, as she became a subject of the United Kingdom through marriage to Eustace Barrowman in 1950.

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Davies
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Re: A World Less Magical But No Less Fantastic

Post by Davies » Thu May 21, 2020 7:00 am

Chokyojin/Super-Giant
Image
Normal form.
Image
Transformed form.

Mukashi, mukashi ... in the late 1990s, the land of Japan had a monster problem. This wasn't the first time, of course. From the 1950s on to the 1960s, their country had frequently been subjected to attacks by creatures heretofore unknown to science, or kaiju. But those attacks had been initially answered by Japan's superheroes, as independent as any of their kind, and later by members of the JSDF who had learned hard lessons about fighting the creatures and put those lessons into practice. By the early 1970s, they had the problem under control, and even as the superheroes started to fade away in that decade, everyone was sure that things were under control.

And then, twenty years after the last time a gojirosaurus showed its ugly mug within Japan's territorial waters, a much larger specimen than had ever been observed arrived on the scene. The JSDF managed to beat it back, with heavy losses, but it was clear that the good times were gone. There was speculation that the creatures which had attacked until now had been comparatively young and weak, and that older and tougher specimens were now expanding their hunting areas to include territory that included the surface -- daikaiju. And Japan's current generation of superheroes were just children, in no way ready to fight the sort of battles that were coming.

So the only thing to do, then, was to make some superheroes who were ready. All sorts of experiments, all sorts of atrocities, were committed in the name of this goal, drawing on all sorts of fringe science and alien technology. Four years later, they thought they had a formula that had a good chance of working. It had just one tiny flaw -- the older the subject, the less likely it would work on them. The ideal subject was fifteen years old or younger.

One might think that the project's director, Serizawa Katsuhito, was doing something noble when he volunteered to have his own teenaged son, Ryuji, become the test subject, refusing the option of using an orphan whom no one would miss. That would be a fatal misunderstanding of Serizawa's personality; he hated his son. He had resented every second that his wife had spent caring for the infant instead of himself, every moment of affection that went to the boy instead of him, every single day until he had finally been able to stand it no more. His wife disappeared, and his son went to live with his maternal grandparents. But Serizawa wasn't done, and he had finally found a way to punish the world for not recognizing his genius, and punish the boy for his temerity in being loved.

The process was painful, but Ryuji, persuaded that this was the best way that he could help save the world, endured everything. When it was done, he could transform into a giant armored warrior, able to fly and project energy blasts, able to fight the daikaiju. He was in no way psychologically prepared for the reality of actual combat, and experienced anxiety and depression as a consequence. The only real light in his life was his friendship with a girl who was attached to the program, one Tamura Miho, for whom he soon developed more romantic feelings.

Then another light came into his life. While intended to fight daikaiju, Super-Giant had also been dispatched to fight against Cerebron's forces when they attacked Japan, and did fairly well fighting them. (It was much less nerve-wracking to fight robots than it was to attack creatures that bled and screamed in pain when they were hurt.) About a month later, he and the program were contacted by the Power Company and invited to join it. Seeing an opportunity to have the 'heroes' get their guard down so that they could be eliminated early when he finally decided to send his pawn on a rampage of destruction, Serizawa agreed to the notion.

That was a fatal mistake on his part. By linking Project Super-Giant to the Power Company, he opened his organization up to additional infiltration by Argus. And so it was that a certain individual found out about his plans, and found them not at all compatible with her own ambitions for the world. And so, two years after Super-Giant's first sortie, Serizawa Katsuhito died in a car crash, his mad dreams never to be fulfilled. His son mourned his father, regretting that he would never know why he'd so disappointed him, and then got on with the rest of his life.

Ryuji's grown a lot from the easily frightened, terribly shy boy that he was at the start of all this. He's still uncomfortable when in the company of people he doesn't know well, but warms up to people much more quickly than he once did. Violence is still something that he finds regrettable, but he's grown sufficiently accustomed to it to make it a tool that he can use. His sensitive, empathic side has also been a tool that he can use, and he's been able to establish ... not friendship, exactly, but an understanding with some of the more intelligent daikaiju, such that they'll choose to retreat rather than risk a painful battle that they can avoid.

Generally, when dealing with such creatures, he prefers to fight alone. Against the most monstrous of their kind, such as Ktulu and Tiamat, he will without hesitation call in assistance from the rest of the Power Company. Pride is not something he can afford when dealing with monsters that could easily be considered gods. While assisting the team in their battles, he usually just uses lower levels of his power, since he doesn't like to engage in showboating, nor much admire those who do.

His relationship with Miho is still the best part of his life, despite all the ups and downs that they've been through together, including a long period where they were on the outs, where he found himself in a strange relationship with Baba Yaga. (She was apparently more interested in his technology than he himself.) He's accepted, though, that a conventional relationship with her is probably never going to happen, and accepts that with a bit of sadness. What they have is still good. Someday, though, he hopes that he can transform back for the last time, and that things can be even better.

Chokyojin/Super-Giant -- PL 12

Abilities:
STR 16/4 | STA 16/4 | AGL 3 | DEX 0 | FGT 6 | INT 0 | AWE 1 | PRE 2

Powers:
Energy Blast: Ranged Damage 9, Accurate 2, Activation (standard action), Distracting, Tiring - 5 points
Flight: Flight 8 (500 MPH), Aquatic - 17 points
Invulnerability: Immunity 20 (life support, radiation effects) - 20 points
Super-Strength: Enhanced Strength 4, Limited to lifting - 4 points
Transformation: Enhanced Ranged Damage 7, Quirk (1 rank per 2 ranks of Growth active); Growth 12 (+12 Strength, +12 Stamina, -6 Dodge, -6 Parry, +6 Intimidation, -12 Stealth, +2 Speed); Morph 1, Activation (Move Action); Protection 4, Impervious 12* - 53 points

* Super-Giant's Impervious rank is limited to the number of Growth ranks he has active.

Advantages:
Chokehold, Defensive Attack, Fast Grab, Favored Enemy (kaiju), Improved Grab, Improved Hold, Improved Initiative, Language (English, [Japanese is native]), Power Attack, Ranged Attack 4, Startle.

Skills:
Acrobatics 6 (+9), Close Combat: Unarmed 2 (+8), Expertise: Military 6 (+6), Expertise: Kaiju 8 (+8), Insight 6 (+7), Intimidation 4 (+18/+6), Perception 8 (+9).

Offense:
Initiative +7
Unarmed +8 (Close Damage 16/4)
Energy Blast +8 (Ranged Damage 16/9)

Defense:
Dodge 4/10, Parry 4/10, Fortitude 16/4, Toughness 20/4, Will 8.

Totals:
Abilities 40 + Powers 103 + Advantages 14 + Skills 20 + Defenses 18 = 195 points

Complications:
Responsibility--Motivation. Relationship (Tamura Miho.) Secret Identity. Shyness.

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Davies
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Re: A World Less Magical But No Less Fantastic

Post by Davies » Thu May 21, 2020 10:42 pm

Tamura Miho
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Almost everything about Tamura Miho is a carefully constructed lie. No child of that name was born on the date listed on her (fake) birth certificate. She came into the world years later, an artificial human being, created from the genetic material of several women. (One of these women was the late wife of Professor Serizawa, but Miho is at most a distant cousin of that woman, not a daughter or a sister.) She was taught only what she needed to know in order to become a friendly support for Serizawa Ryuji ...

... so that she could betray him, in the most painful and brutal manner possible, and complete his mental breakdown. But that particular dream of her creator never came true, and Miho had no notion that anything of that sort was ever supposed to happen. So she continued to fulfill what she believed to be her duty, growing closer and closer to Ryuji. When they came of age, he started to talk of marriage.

That was when she was contacted by Dr. A. E. van Vliet, one of Argus' directors. When he had become director of research and development, he'd 'inherited' a large collection of documents that his predecessor hadn't seen fit to destroy. Among that collection were some of Professor Serizawa's private diaries, seized after his death. Dr. van Vliet handed them to her, and suggested that she read them.

And so she learned the truth of her origins, the reasons she had been created, and the true nature of the man she had always viewed as a stern but compassionate uncle. When she finally stopped sobbing, Dr. van Vliet dired her tears and explained why he had decided that she needed to know this. "We need your help," he said. "And so does Ryuji, though he won't like the help that he's being given."

They broke up the next day. He didn't understand why, and begged, pleaded, and frankly demanded that she reconsider. But she stayed firm, even though all that she wanted to do was take him in her arms and say that she'd changed her mind. She picked up her suitcase and went out to get in the car with Dr. van Vliet. She could see now that he'd been right. Underneath Ryuji's kindness, there was a desperate need to be the sole focus of someone's love and care, that turned to fury when it was denied. There was something, in short, just like his father.

So she went away, and began training to become an Argus agent. Through the months of training, and the eight years of missions, Miho did her best to forget about Ryuji. Her best, in this case, wasn't good enough, and she found herself checking in on him from time to time. She spied on his strange relationship with Baba Yaga, and, despite terrible jealousy, actually ended up working with the super-spy rather well, to the point where she suspects that they're probably friends, of all things. Eventually, she was deemed to be ready, and went back to Ryuji, as the most carefully prepared handler in the history of the organization.

The one true thing about Miho is that she genuinely loves Ryuji. But it's not a love that is blind to his faults, as it once was. She is determined to make sure that he won't turn into his father, or become something even worse. So she watches him and guides him as best she can, knowing that, in a way, she's fulfilling the Professor's goals. Because this is a betrayal, and a painful and brutal one. But that's what love can do.

Tamura Miho -- PL 6

Abilities:
STR 1 | STA 3 | AGL 2 | DEX 3 | FGT 5 | INT 3 | AWE 3 | PRE 3

Powers:
Biologically Modified: Immunity 2 (disease, poison), Limited to Half Effect; Regeneration 5 - 6 points

Advantages:
Assessment, Contacts, Defensive Attack, Defensive Roll, Equipment 5, Evasion, Grabbing Finesse, Improved Disarm, Improved Initiative, Improved Trip, Languages 2 (English, French, Korean, Vietnamese, [Japanese is native]), Ranged Attack 2, Uncanny Dodge

Equipment:
Meta-taser (Ranged Affliction 5 [Fortitude; Dazed, Stunned, Incapacitated]) and 15 points of equipment as needed.

Skills:
Acrobatics 3 (+5), Athletics 4 (+5), Close Combat: Unarmed 2 (+7), Deception 5 (+8), Expertise: Civics 4 (+7), Expertise: Current Events 4 (+7), Insight 5 (+8), Investigation 4 (+7), Perception 4 (+7), Persuasion 5 (+8), Ranged Combat: Meta-taser 2 (+5), Stealth 4 (+6), Technology 5 (+8), Treatment 2 (+5), Vehicles 3 (+5).

Offense:
Initiative +6
Unarmed +7 (Close Damage 1)
Meta-taser +7 (Ranged Fortitude 5)

Defense:
Dodge 6, Parry 6, Fortitude 7, Toughness 5/3, Will 5.

Totals:
Abilities 46 + Powers 6 + Advantages 19 + Skills 28 + Defenses 11 = 110 points

Complications:
Responsibility--Motivation. Relationship (Serizawa Ryuji). Secret (Argus agent and clone).

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Davies
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Re: A World Less Magical But No Less Fantastic

Post by Davies » Fri May 22, 2020 7:17 am

Minuteman
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Born in 1984, John Wright's Hyperbrain talents were diagnosed earlier than those of most children, and he had the strange fortune to end up enrolled in one of the last think tanks that operated in the United States, even after most others were shut down. That happened when he was 19, and he was promptly recruited to use his inventive talents for a defense contractor. Happy that he'd been given a place in a world where he'd always feared that he'd have no place, Wright continued to develop the inventions that he'd been working on, and felt satisfaction in doing so.

His particular vision was an improvement in the sizewarp technology that had been developed by Michael Newton, alias Quark, who'd been a member of the Institute. Newton had never managed to construct a field that could reduce an object's mass and size to less than 16%; Wright intended to do significantly better, and make a few other breakthroughs in the process. His prototype was able to shrink him to a height of six inches, and his mass was more or less elective; despite weighing only 10 ounces, he was able to strike things with the full weight of his normally 165 pound frame.

He packaged it all up in a flying suit, equipped with military-grade meta-taser weaponry, and demonstrated it to his bosses. This is when things began to take a strange turn, for the people for whom he exhibited the invention included a few people for the government, who were under the impression that they were watching a test pilot using the suit rather than it's inventor, and promptly recruited 'the pilot' for the American government's new team of official superheroes, intended to soothe public concerns about the Power Company's non-American members.

So it was that Wright became a member of the United Superheroes of America under the name Minuteman, with his suit painted in red, white and blue. (While reasonably patriotic, he thought that was a bit absurd, since people weren't really supposed to see him, but such were the demands of the organization.) Things went fairly well for a while -- the team competed with the Power Company, of course, but they were also able to work cooperatively with them when necessary, with mutual respect developing between the actual members of the two groups.

Unfortunately, towards the end of 2007, "the Year of Three Presidents", the former Speaker of the House of Representatives took a long look at the budget of the United Superheroes of America, and decided that the organization was a money pit and that the funds spent to maintain it could be spent much more effectively on other projects that would serve the national interest -- as he defined it -- much better. So the group was shut down, with most of its members either finding employment with private military companies or other government initiatives.

Wright initially intended on going back to work for his former employers, but then took a moment to reconsider the notion. Despite the fact that this had never been something he'd planned on doing, he'd found that he enjoyed being a superhero. Not the action or even the adulation, really, but the unexpected freedom. At the lab, he'd been expected to work on projects that his employer approved, with his own ideas usually ignored. Here, he'd had the chance to do whatever work he wanted, as long as he kept being useful. So he contacted the Power Company and asked whether they thought they could use a shrinking battlesuit pilot. To his amazement, they didn't even put him through any brainscans or require any loyalty oaths!

Since then, Minuteman (he kept the name, but ditched the colors -- green and white are more visible through the force field, anyway) has been a trusted member of the Power Company, while keeping up a civilian life as a physics professor at Cornell University. He's also dating private investigator Anne Rothery, one of the few people who knows his secret identity, and who occasionally asks for his assistance in solving her cases. It's genuinely surprising to him how often those cases turn out to be the sort of thing that require superheroic attention, but that's the world that he lives in, now.

Minuteman -- PL 10

Abilities:
STR 1 | STA 2 | AGL 2 | DEX 4 | FGT 1 | INT 8 | AWE 4 | PRE 0

Powers:
Microsuit: Removable (-27 points)
* Defensive Forcefield: Linked Sustained Immunity 10 (life support) and Sustained Impervious Protection 4 - 18 points
* Microthrusters: Flight 6 (120 MPH), Aquatic, Quirk (Only functions at Size -4 and smaller) - 12 points
* Sensors: Senses 6 (analytical vision, microscopic vision 4) - 6 points
* Warp-Field: Shrinking 18 (1.5 inches tall; +9 Dodge, +9 Parry, +18 Stealth, -9 Intimidation, -2 Speed), Continuous, Normal Strength - 72 points
* Wrist-Taser: Ranged Cumulative Affliction 8 (Resisted by Fortitude; Dazed, Stunned, Incapacitated), Accurate 3 - 27 points

Advantages:
Evasion, Hide in Plain Sight, Improved Defense, Improved Trip, Inventor, Move-by Action, Ranged Attack 2, Skill Mastery (Technology), Uncanny Dodge.

Skills:
Close Combat: Unarmed 8 (+9), Expertise: Science 4 (+12), Insight 6 (+10), Investigation 3 (+11), Perception 6 (+10), Stealth 0 (+20/+2), Technology 3 (+11).

Offense:
Initiative +2
Unarmed +9 (Close Damage 1)
Wrist Zapper +12 (Ranged Fortitude 8)

Defense:
Dodge 14/5, Parry 14/5, Fortitude 6, Toughness 6/2, Will 7.

Totals:
Abilities 44 + Powers 108 + Advantages 10 + Skills 15 + Defenses 14 = 191 points

Complications:
Discovery-Motivation. Relationship (Anna Rothery.) Reluctant Combatant. Secret Identity.

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Davies
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Re: A World Less Magical But No Less Fantastic

Post by Davies » Fri May 22, 2020 8:12 am

Anna Rothery
Image

It's his own fault, really. There she was, telling a supposed genius a ridiculous story about how she'd figured out his secret identity from clues that he'd never noticed leaving because they didn't really exist, all the while fully expecting him to break in on her monologue and claim that she had to be making it all up. Which wasn't true, someone else had made it all up and then written it down for her to memorize. Possibly there'd been a committee involved.

But what had he said, instead of all that? "Wow, you're amazing! I'm really going to have to work a lot harder to keep my secret. Would you be willing to help me with that? I'd be happy to help you with your cases in exchange." Anna is honestly sure that she must have stared at him for a full minute before she nodded and agreed that this was a great idea. All the while, she was thinking one of two things.

"No one this smart should be allowed to be this stupid." And, "I can use this."

Not everybody who goes to work for Argus does so with good intentions. Many are just looking for a steady paycheck, and regard the moral questions of the work they do as someone else's problem. Argus' security division does its level best to filter out the really twisted types, but the worst of those types are very, very good at evading notice. Such is definitely the case of Anna Rothery.

Her goal is a simple one. There is so much money out there, just waiting to belong to her, instead of all the people who don't deserve to have it. So she's going to do everything in her power to get it. And her power, currently, includes a Hyperbrain with a flying sizewarping battle suit. Eventually, she's probably going to have to get rid of the Hyperbrain, but the flying sizewarping battle suit is going to net her a pretty penny when she sells it to the right bidder.

Until then, she's made it known through various discreet channels that she can solve various problems that people have, as long as they give her a chance to frame the sitution in a way that her darling idiot will find plausible. He honestly thinks that a private eye normally gets cases like this all the time, probably. She's going to miss him a little when she finally has him killed.

Anna Rothery -- PL 4

Abilities:
STR 1 | STA 2 | AGL 1 | DEX 1 | FGT 3 | INT 2 | AWE 2 | PRE 2

Advantages:
Connections, Defensive Roll, Equipment 2, Well-informed.

Equipment:
Light pistol (Ranged Damage 3), handcuffs, smartphone.

Skills:
Athletics 4 (+5), Deception 8 (+10), Expertise: Civics 2 (+4), Expertise: Criminal 6 (+8), Expertise: Current Events 2 (+4), Expertise: Streetwise 4 (+6), Insight 6 (+8), Intimidation 4 (+6), Investigation 7 (+9), Perception 5 (+7), Persuasion 8 (+10), Ranged Combat: Guns 4 (+5), Technology 4 (+6), Vehicles 4 (+5).

Offense:
Init +1,
Unarmed +3 (Damage 1),
Pistol +5 (Ranged Damage 3).

Defense:
Dodge 4, Parry 4, Fort 3, Tou 4/2, Will 3.

Totals:
Abilities 28 + Powers 0 + Advantages 5 + Skills 34 + Defenses 9 = 76 points

Complications:
Greed--Motivation. Secret (utterly corrupt Argus agent).

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Re: A World Less Magical But No Less Fantastic

Post by Voltron64 » Fri May 22, 2020 4:21 pm

Davies wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 8:12 am
Until then, she's made it known through various discreet channels that she can solve various problems that people have, as long as they give her a chance to frame the situation in a way that her darling idiot will find plausible. He honestly thinks that a private eye normally gets cases like this all the time, probably. She's going to miss him a little when she finally has him killed.
She better hope Minuteman discovers the truth before Argus does, because the latter seems like the type who have very low tolerance for traitors.

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Davies
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Re: A World Less Magical But No Less Fantastic

Post by Davies » Sat May 23, 2020 12:13 am

Voltron64 wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 4:21 pm
She better hope Minuteman discovers the truth before Argus does, because the latter seems like the type who have very low tolerance for traitors.
Well, they're a security organization, not law enforcement, so they'll probably just turn her over to the police with evidence of her misdeeds -- after they scrub her brain of any Argus secrets, such as Minuteman's identity. Of course, if she resists attempts to take her into custody, anything could happen.

Not feeling too well today, the last two members of the Power Company (Polymorph and Snowfall) and their associates are going to have to wait a while.

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Davies
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Re: A World Less Magical But No Less Fantastic

Post by Davies » Sat May 23, 2020 8:00 am

Polymorph
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Sometimes, there are no easy answers. Case in point: Amit Rajadwe, an ordinary young man from St. Louis, clearly didn't have innate super-powers. Those almost always manifest in adolescence, or very rarely at birth, and Amit's powers came on when he was twenty-one. But he was never subjected to any sort of science experiment or unlikely accident, as far as he can remember, and everyone agrees that this is the sort of thing you're not likely to regret. The third option, that he's not really human and just thinks that he is, was eliminated when he was subjected to a nullifying field, and registered as a human being to all tests.

The overall effect of his abilities is that he looks a bit like a claymation figure. While he can assume the human form that he had before all of this happened -- and indeed pretty much any reasonably humanoid form -- it's not easily done. He's highly resistant to physical damage, but burns as easily as he ever did. His limbs and body are extremely flexible, and he can elongate any part of his body to a considerable length. While still possessing something like a skeleton, it's practically a fluid rather than a solid.

Amit discovered his powers when he woke up one morning in 2009 to the sound of his mother's screams, and found that he had, in his sleep, turned into something like a cheese melt spread over the surfaces of his bedroom. Believing that some sort of monster had consumed her son, she drove Amit out through his bedroom window with her broom, sending the bewildered young man to flight. As it happened, the Blue Bolt was passing through St. Louis on the way to another situation, and managed to catch Amit and calm him down enough to get a reasonable conversation. Realizing that he was way out of his depth, he took Amit to the Argo in hopes that other members of the Power Company could figure out what was going on.

You know how that turned out. No easy answers were to be found, but Darkwing believed that they might reveal themselves through further study, and that the best way for that to happen -- while giving Amit as close to a normal life as they could -- was to invite him to join the Power Company. Amit was stunned at the invitation, but accepted it quickly. He had the faint suspicion that he was probably just going to be an honorary member, expected to be a janitor for the Argo and answer calls, but it hasn't happened that way. While clearly not as powerful as the other members, he keeps up on missions and frequently finds ways to help out.

Ironically, that very talent for improvisation is the reason that Darkwing recommended him for membership. In his view, Polymorph is using less than ten per cent of his potential. One of Amit's signature moves is to pump what he considers to be most of his mass into one of his fists in order to strike someone more effectively. Darkwing's analysis of this little trick has confirmed that this actually results in a fist that out-masses Polymorph's body. This would imply that Polymorph could possibly learn to duplicate Minuteman's shrinking or Super-Giant's growth, and that the only limits of his ability to alter his shape are those of his imagination.

Amit isn't really aware of any of this, just yet. He still prefers to think of himself as an ordinary fellow who had something very strange happen to him and is just trying to deal with it. He lives with in Denver with Jimmy Irving, and frequently tries to cover part of the rent through various odd jobs. His success rate in this is about fifty-fifty, but Jimmy keeps telling him not to worry about the situation. Amit wishes he could do more, but can at least be proud that he managed to convince his parents, three siblings and their kids to relocate to Denver after the Combination took charge in St. Louis.

Polymorph -- PL 8

Abilities:
STR 2 | STA 8 | AGL 2 | DEX 2 | FGT 2 | INT 2 | AWE 2 | PRE 2

Powers:
Elastic Form: Strength-based Damage 4; Elongation 8 (1,800 feet); Enhanced Advantages 12 (Accurate Attack, Chokehold, Evasion, Fast Grab, Improved Grab, Improved Hold, Improved Trip, Interpose, Power Attack, Precise Attack (Close; Cover), Takedown 2); Impervious Toughness 8, Limited to Physical; Insubstantial 1 (Liquid), Precise; Leaping 5 (250 feet); Morph 3 (Humanoid Forms), Distracting; Movement 6 (Environmental Adaptation [tight spaces], Safe Fall, Slithering, Sure-footed, Swinging, Wall-crawling); Speed 3 (16 MPH) - 62 points

Advantages:
Accurate Attack, Chokehold, Daze (Deception), Defensive Roll, Evasion, Extraordinary Effort, Fast Grab, Improved Grab, Improved Hold, Improved Initiative, Improved Trip, Interpose, Move-by Action, Power Attack, Precise Attack (Close; Cover), Takedown 2, Taunt, Uncanny Dodge

Skills:
Athletics 4 (+6), Close Combat: Unarmed 8 (+10), Deception 5 (+7), Investigation 4 (+6), Perception 6 (+8), Stealth 5 (+7), Technology 4 (+6).

Offense:
Initiative +6
Unarmed +10 (Close Damage 6)

Defense:
Dodge 6, Parry 6, Fortitude 8, Toughness 10/8, Will 6.

Totals:
Abilities 44 + Powers 62 + Advantages 7 + Skills 18 + Defenses 12 = 143 points

Complications:
Acceptance--Motivation. Family. Secret Identity (sort of). Unusual Looks.

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