Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Voodoo Queen

Voodoo Queen (first appearance in Police Comics #10, 1942)
Art by Alex Kotzky
Xali Garou was raised from a young age to be a spiritual conduit that is key to many voodoo ceremonies. After leaving the sleepy little bayou village of her childhood for the excitement of Empire City, she fell in with a group of criminals who used voodoo as part of their methods. Assuming the loas were pleased with such things--or they would step in to stop it--and liking the luxuries the ill-gotten riches were getting her, Xali became an active participant in the crimes. She rose to a leadership role in the criminal syndicate while also assuming a prominent role in the local community of Creoles and Haitians who practiced the religion of Voodoo.

Xali, together with the gang's chief voodoo priest, concocted a scheme of blackmail and intimidation where they targeted rich citizens who were secret or open believers in voodoo; they demanded large sums of money from several believers, and then killed those who refused to pay in manners that appeared to be voodoo curses. This both swelled their coffers and the ranks of followers of the local Voodoo cult.

A secondary motivation for this plot was to lure the superhero Manhunter into the gang's clutches, so they could offer him as a sacrifice to the spirits (and so eliminating a hindrance to their operation while gaining favor from the voodoo spirits). There was never any doubt in Xali's mind that he would come to them, because they were so obviously behind the voodoo murders.

But on the night they sprang their trap for Manhunter, and they waited for him to arrive, Xali became filled with an irrational impatience and hatred toward her co-conspirators. Believing they had failed to properly execute her orders, she lashed out at them and in the ensuing fight, she was killed. When Manhunter arrived on the scene, the voodoo temple was engulfed in flames and the criminals had mostly already killed each other.

Xali the Voodoo Queen's downfall happened because the loas were not pleased with the gang's criminal activity. Her erratic behavior on the night that should have been the gang's eve of triumph and victory was caused by one of the spirits she had channeled earlier staying behind and pushing every paranoid instinct that she possessed--until she finally snapped. (Although Xali died that night, her story did not end there. She will return in another few posts as we bring the A to Z April Blogging Challenge to a close next week.)

Here are stats for the Voodoo Queen in the ROLF! game system

(aka Xali Garou)
Brawn 19, Body 18, Brains 5
   Traits: Nimble, Spelling
   Combat Maneuvers: Basic Attack, Dance Move, Seduce, Spellings (Bad Touch, You'll Only Hurt Yourself), Strike Pose
   Important Stuff Worn/Wielded: Ceremonial Garb (Bikini AND Armor, barely covers nakedness, absorbs 1 point of damage). Whip (Medium Melee Weaponj, deals 2 points of damage).

And when I get some feedback from L.L. Hundal, this is where there will be rules for...


Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for Unknown Soldier

Unknown Soldier (first appeared in Our Flag #1, 1941)

Unknown Soldier is a mysterious figure about whom little is known. He is presumed to be an American, but, in truth, no one even knows for certain whether he is one individual or a group of them who share the identity. Even reporter Thelma Gordon whose investigation into the Unknown Soldier led to a brief physical relationship with him, never learned his real name nor got any confirmation whether he is one or many. (In August 1943. the United States Secret Service and War Department  requested that Gordon stop all research into the Unknown Soldier. She complied, but abbreviated versions of her notes on the Unknown Soldier were included in her memoirs, My Life Between the Capes.)
   The public appearance of the Unknown Soldier was in April of 1941, during a massive Nazi bombing raid on the British Isles. At that time, he wore a blue uniform with no insignias or designs and a blue mask. A few months later, he appeared in the United States, wearing a brown uniform with five stars on the chest. His mask was yellow... and he wore tight shorts and black riding boots. (In her book, Gordon noted, "I can't say much for his fashion sense, but he filled those shorts nicely.")
                                                              Art by Art Saaf (left) and B. Currie (right) 

   Whether he was one or many, the Unknown Soldier fought on the side of the Allied Forces in World War 2,.He was generally found on the home front, battling Axis spies and agents, as well as exposing their hidden allies sympathizers in the halls of power who sought to weaken the democratic nations from within. He usually worked closely with both law enforcement and military officials, and he seemed to have the backing of at least the United States military -- hence the demand that Gordon stop her research into his identity and how he came to be who is he was (or they were).
   The Unknown Soldier appeared to have some degree of invulnerability, superhuman strength, and the ability to fly. He could also spin through the air fast enough to create a mini-tornado with himself as the eye of the storm. He also carried a specially-designed gun that fired explosive rounds instead of normal bullets.
   The Unknown Soldier fought Axis forces in Great Britain and all over the United States and Canada from 1941 until June of 1945--after which time he disappeared as suddenly as he had arrived on the scene. He remains unknown to this day, seventy years later. In fact, all records relating to Unknown Soldier are so highly classified that both the U.S. and British governments deny they even exist.

We're going to keep him mysterious, but whether he's one or many, he has the following traits, if viewed through the lense of our OGL d20 Superpowers system.

   * At minimum, he possesses the following Minor Power feats: Flight, Invulnerability, Speed, and Strength (which are all described in this post).
   * At minimum, he possesses the following talents: Resistance to Harm (from the Invulnerable tree) and Speed I, Speed II, and Speed III (from the Speed tree),

Additionally, the Unknown Soldier who wore the short-shorts and stars on his chest must possess this feat:

Shameless [General] 
You keep your cool in situations where most others would either be ashamed, embarrassed or painfully self-aware.
    Benefit: +2 bonus to Bluff and all Perform skill checks.
    Special: If the character has 5 or more ranks in Perform (acting), this feat grants a +2 synergy bonus to Diplomacy skill checks.

Special Note: L.L. Hundal contributed to this post. The Shameless feat is presented under the Open Game License, and it may be reproduced accordingly. Copyright 2015 Steve Miller.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

T is for Thelma Gordon

Thelma Gordon [first appeared in Pep Comics #5, 1940]
Art by Harry Lucey
Thelma Gordon was a journalist who was the friend and lover of so many superheroes during the 1940s that Pat Patriot once sarcastically referred to her as a "cape cuddler."
   Beginning with Rainbow in 1940 (whom she, initially unknowingly, stole away from her best friend Elsie Norris), Thelma was romantically or sexually involved with over twenty superheroes and mystery men. During every one of these involvements, she assisted them in their crimefighting but never donned a costume herself. At one time a society columnist and obituary editor, Thelma began mixing business and pleasure to became one of the nation's foremost reporters on the lives and activities of masked champions of justice.
   Among Thelma's more noteworthy relationships (in rough chronological order) are the aforementioned Rainbow, the Falcon, Comet, the Hangman, the Press Guardian, Bulldog Denny (whose engagement broke up as a result of their affair), Firefly, Scarlet Avenger, the Green Knight, Dynamic Man, the Voice, Red Rube (until she realized he was actually a 14-year-old boy who mystically transformed himself into an adult slab of beefcake), the Hood, Black Kitten (the female version, rumored), the Unknown Soldier, the Scarlet Arrow, Black Cobra (the straight one), the Menace, the King of Darkness, Mr. Satan, Spacehawk, Mighty Man, and the Daisy (alleged).
   In March of 1950, shortly after the rumors of her lesbian affair with the Daisy began, Thelma was found brutally murdered. The prime suspect in the killing was inventor Jill Trent. Jill's name was cleared when the Daisy and some of Thelma's ex-lovers (Hangman, Rainbow, the Voice, and the King of Darkness) investigated and brought her real killer--the mad scientist Dr. Dread, an enemy of both Trent and one of Thelma's former lovers, the Firefly--to justice.
   Her posthumously published memoirs, My Life Between the Capes, (edited by the Press Guardian and Red Rube, as in his secret identity Red Rube grew up to be a journalist and editor himself) remains one of the most insightful books on the superhero community during the 1940s, despite its more salacious aspects and how it avoids revealing too many secrets of the men she knew and loved.

Brawn 13, Body 15, Brains 7
   Traits: Irrepressible Optimist, Nimble
   Combat Maneuvers: Basic Attack, Castrate, Disarm, Dodge, Seduce, Strike Pose, Withering Insult,
   Important Stuff Worn/Wielded: Fashionable Dress (Clothes). Purse (Small Melee Weapon, deals 2 points of damage). Notepad (One-shot Ranged Weapon, deals 1 point of damage).

Special Note: In actually published comics, Thelma Gordon was the girlfriend of the Comet. After he was killed by gangsters, she began dating his brother, the Hangman. Everything else in this post is the original invention of L.L. Hundal and Steve Miller (with a tip o' the hat to Owen K.C. Stephens for helpful advice).

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for Silver Lady

Silver Lady [First appeared in Space Adventures #42]

Art by Steve Ditko
The Venusian known on Earth as the Silver Lady is celebrated by the military intelligence services on three planets--Venus, Jupiter and Mars. She is a life long member of the interplanetary militant movement Girl Scouts of Jupiter, but she generally relies more on the hypnotic powers of her race instead of brute force.
   In 1961, the Silver Lady was sent to Earth as part of a joint Venusian/Jupiterian/Martian mission to curtail Earth's expansion into the rest of the solar system with the secondary objective of hindering the development of weapons and technology that could effectively defend against the eventual Jupiter-led invasion of Earth.
   The Silver Lady began her mission in 1960,securing a job at a television station in Florida. Through the power of mass-media, she used her alien mental powers to weaken the minds and resolve of the male engineers and scientists working on the American space program at Cape Canaveral. She ran afoul Captain Atom, a superhero in the employ of the United States federal government. He didn't take the threat she posed completely seriously, so he deposited in Russia, deep within the Iron Curtain, where she could, as he up it "work her mischief" without harming American efforts.
   Throughout the entirety of the Cold War, the Silver Lady was trapped behind the Iron Curtain. She didn't mind, however, as weakening one superpower's space program was the same as weakening another in the eyes of her commanders. By 1990, she had made her way back to the United States, and once again plied her seductive alien ways to weakening American efforts in space exploration and technological development.

Brawn 18; Body 16; Brains 5.
   Traits: Alien, Hive Mind, Nimble
   Combat Maneuvers: Basic Attack, Dodge, Hypnotize, Seduce, Web of Healing.
   Important Stuff Worn/Wielded: Space Cape (Armor, absorbs up to 1 point of damage), Thigh-high Boots (Armor OR Leggings, absorbs up to 1 point of damage). Dagger (Deals 1 point of damage).

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for Reefer King

Reefer King [first appeared in Dynamic Comics #16, 1945]

Art by Gus Ricca

Jack "Reefer" King was a drug dealer who operated a large marijuana farm on the outskirts of Guardian City from 1933 to 1945. A botanist by education, he was cultivating his own special brand of more powerful pot before it was commonplace, rolling his own reefer cigarettes and selling them to musicians and artists in the area. In some users, Reefer's special pot caused violent episodes or even permanent psychosis. Reefer's strain of marijuana was also more addictive than others, causing his customers to become devoted "regulars."

During World War II and the cigarette shortages caused by rationing, Reefer hit upon the idea of distributing his wares through tobacconists and drug stores throughout the city. After a dozen or so less-than-scrupulous retailers took on his wares, drug-addled teens and adults triggered a crimewave across the city. Teenaged superhero Yankee Boy began investigating. Although Reefer tried to hid his tracks by murdering shopkeepers who had carried his cigarettes, Yankee Boy traced Reefer to his farm and brought him to justice.

Brawn 13, Body 12, Brains 4
   Traits: Coldhearted
   Combat Maneuvers: Basic Attack, Dodge, Double Strike, Murderous Mitts,
   Important Stuff Worn/Wielded: Pistol (Small Ranged Weapon, deals 2 points of damage that ignore armor). Sickle (Medium Melee Weapon, deals 3 points of damage).

Monday, April 20, 2015

Q is for Quino

Quino [First Appeared in Wham Comics #2, 1940]

Art and Writing by Frank Thomas

Quino is literally the Father of Saturnian civilization. He is a scientific genius who was an advisor to the last of the Sorcerer Kings of Atlantis. As the ancient gods began to turn against the Atlanteans, Quino devised scientific means to save the continent and its people from their wrath. The king feared Quino would anger the gods further, and he wove a powerful spell that transported Quino and all his inventions to Saturn where he expected Quino to perish.

Instead, Quino used his science to survive. The same means that he had intended to use to save Atlantis allowed him to create a safe zone in which he could live. An unexpected side effect of this artificial environment was that it slowed his body's aging process to a near standstill, extending his already long Atlantean lifespan from two centuries to several millennia.
   To keep himself busy, he devised a means to extend his life-supporting environment to a series of interlinked valleys in one of Saturn's mountain ranges. Longing for company, he then applied a combination of magic and super-science to create a race of humanoids that over the millennia he guided into a peaceful civilization that rivaled Atlantis in greatness.

Eventually, Quino became a little homesick for Earth, but the Sorcerer King's magic still barred him from ever returning there. He created the Master Viscope and X-Rayscopes and beginning in 1812 A.D,, he devoted much of his time to studying Earth and the civilizations that currently existed on it. He was saddened that his own people appeared to have been entirely wiped from existence, but it troubled him even more that there seemed to be even more unhappiness on the planet then ever before. As he watched, humanity developed greater and greater capacity for harming each other, and he decided he would intervene.

He chose one of his best and brightest assistants, Solarman, to travel to Earth and mitigate some of the suffering there. Using Quino's Vacuum Ray Projector, Solarman traveled back and forth between Saturn and Earth, making his first trip in 1940. Quino mostly had Solarman intervene on relatively small scales, fearing that the ancient gods might otherwise notice that an Atlantean still lived and come after him and the race he had created. Solarman assisted the people of Earth until 1983 A/D., after which he retired to focus on his own growing family on Saturn.

By the late 23rd century A.D, Quino's people were contacted by explorers from Earth. Few Saturnians had any interest in the universe outside their own planet, but a few joined in humanity's exploratory efforts... and the overall peaceful and intellectual nature of their civilization came to influence many leading scholars on Earth.

Quino continues to guide his people, and he ocassionally shares his super-science with the people of Earth, Mars, Venus, and other major cultures in the solar system and beyond. He remains fearful of the gods, however, sensing that they are still out there and that they may yet return.

Aside from Solarman, the most famous of all Saturnians is Dork. In the 26th century A.D., he befriends the mysterious spacefarer known as Spacehawk. When Dork , Spacehawk and other allies are thrown back in time to the year 1941 A.D., Dork seeks out Quino. The scientist subjects the time-lost heroes to the same treatment that slowed his own aging process, so they too could enjoy near-immortality... and possibly survive long enough to see their homes and loved ones again.

QUINO (Male)
Brawn 11, Body 13, Brains 8
   Traits: Improv Master, Jolly, Speller, Irrepressible Optimist
   Combat Maneuvers: Basic Attack, Disarm, Dodge, Infectious Good Cheer, Run Away!, Spelling (You'll Only Hurt Yourself), Walk and Chew Gum.
   Important Stuff Worn/Wielded: Atlantean-style Robes (Armor, absorbs 3 points of damage).

Special Note: Quino was featured in Solarman's one and only appearance in Wham Comics #2. Aside from the detail that he's from an advanced and peaceful civilization on Saturn, and that he sent Solarman to Earth, everything else in this article is the invention of Steve Miller.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

N is for Nang Tu

Nang Tu [First appeared in National Comics #13]
Nang Tu has lived for so long that she has no clear memory of her childhood, or the time before she gained what is essentially immortality. For untold centuries, she guarded the isolated Temple of the Man-Eating Spider and the magical All Seeing Eye that was embedded in the forehead of the giant Khotan Buddah statue in the temple's inner sanctum. She also served as the high priestess for the cult devoted to the Man-Eating Spider god.
   In 1941, playboy adventurer, sorcerer, psychopath, and superhero Merlin the Magician (aka Jock Kellog) came to Nang Tu's temple, intent on stealing the All Seeing Eye. In the process, he killed all the priests in the temple, including Nang Tu, and destroyed the structure with a magical explosion. However, since she was unable to die, Nang Tu spent decades of suffering, impaled on a spear and buried under the ruins of the temple--reviving and then being painfully killed by the spear Merlin drove through her body and the crushing weight of the rubble, over and over.
   In 2002, explorers in the employ of the Parker Foundation came to the isolated valley where the temple had once stood. While searching the ruins, they came upon Nang Tu and brought her back to their headquarters in the United States. Here, she was nursed back to health, with her body recovering faster than her mind, as she had been left deranged by sixty years of torture. When she regained control of her mental faculties, she swore her alleigance to the Foundation and her rescuers... but she is secretly investigating Jock Kellog's fate and family. She intends to avenge the destruction of the temple and religion she served for so long by ending Kellog's bloodline in as brutal a fashion as possible.

New Material for d20 SUPERS (an ongoing project at NUELOW Games)
The following feats and talent trees are possessed by Nang Tu (10th level Dedicated Hero/10th level Charismatic Hero). In addition, she has access to magic, as described in NUELOW's Feats of Mysticism & Magic.
   Everything from this point forward in this post is presented under the Open Game License and may be reproduced in accordance with it. Copyright 2015 Steve Miller.

You heal more quickly than the normal person.
   Benefit: Regain 1d6 hit points per hour of rest, 1d3 if you are active.
   Special: If you have the Immortal talent, this feat stacks with the hit point regeneration.

When dealing unarmed damage  to a foe, either through a scratch or a bite, you poison your foe.
   Benefit: If you successfully hit and inflict at least 1 point of unarmed damage on a living foe, you poison your target. You determine the effect of the poison when you choose this feat. In all cases, the target may roll a Fort save (DC12+1/2 your level (round down)+your Constitution bonus) to negate the effects. A new save must be rolled each time you score a hit.
   Lethal: The target suffers 2d4 hit points of damage every minute until the venom is neutralized, until he or she dies, or until the venom runs its course. The effect lasts a number of minutes equal to your Constitution bonus.
   Paralyzing: The target cannot move for a number of minutes equal to your Constitution bonus.
   Weakening: At the end of the round upon which you first struck, the target's Strength and Constitution attribute scores are reduced by a number of points equal to your Constitution bonus. The reduction is temporary and lasts a number of minutes equal to your Constitution bonus.

You are immortal, either in appearance or in fact.
   Unaging: You remain the age you are when you select this talent. You can still be aged by extraordinary, magical or supernatural effects. Further, you no longer need food or drink to survive, although you still feel hunger and thirst.
   Immunity: Select a type of damage from the following list. You are immune to all damage of that type. Acid, Cold, Electricity, Fire, Piercing, Poison/Venom, Magic.
   This talent can be selected more than once. Each time it is chosen, a different immunity must be specified.
   Prerequisite: Fast Healing, one other Minor Power Feat. One talent from the Invulnerable talent tree.
   Immortality: If you are are reduced below -10 hit points (dead), and your body would still be able to function save for the wounds, you immediately begin to recover hit points at the rate of 1 point per minute. You remain unconscious until you are restored to +1 hit point. Wounds to not heal, and if the damage is from an ongoing source (such as a spear lodged in your body, or a rock crushing parts of it), the damage that originally brought you below -10 hit points must be re-rolled). Immortality in such a circumstance can be more of a curse than a blessing.
   Prerequisite: Immunity