Saturday, April 4, 2015

Classic Enemies: The Conquerors

The initial feedback on this project is pretty good, so here's another.  Today's entry features the Conquerors. Created by Bruce Harlick, an early member of the Hero Games team.  His PC, Marksman, graced the covers of several products in the first three editions of the game.  I've always had a soft spot for Bruce's designs: they embrace the sort of crazy you can only get in a superhero comic, but they're generally pretty solid mechanically.  A couple of the back stories in this bunch are of the, "Hey, it was the 80s," style, but there's some inspired stuff in there too.  Let's get to it.

The Conquerors consist of Neutron, Arc, Ankylosaur, and Wyvern. Thematically, they're not much better than the Ultimates, truth be told.  Some of that is because they weren't a team until Classic Enemies, being two different partnerships in their earlier incarnations. Maybe it's just because I like these characters better, but I'm willing to give them a pass.  Their group dynamic still feels like a core (Neutron and Arc) and the hired help (Ankylosaur and Wyvern), so that's something a GM can work with.  In fact, one of the options suggested to the GM is to use them as comedy relief; a parody of a serious team with a master villain leading them.  The other option involves Genocide, the Champions take on anti-mutant hysteria.  I took a third path, but we'll talk about it later.

 Name: Neutron

Affiliation:  The Conquerors

What's His Deal?:  Neutron is an Egyptian mutant who's had his powers since birth.  He grew up in the US, where his father used him to commit crimes on weekend when he wasn't studying science at MIT. His father's death during a robbery turned him full-time supervillain.  He's basically a poor-man's Magneto, with the expected set of powers and ego.  One of his master plans ran afoul of Genocide, so he's now in their sights and has devoted himself to their destruction.

Coolness:  Hey, he's a poor-man's Magneto.  He's powerful enough to be a decent solo threat against a team of heroes (his Speed of 7 helps).  His Killing Attack vs metal only has a lot of interesting uses to put innocents in danger and wreck team vehicles (or Genocide robots).

Lameness:  An Arabic character turned political terrorist is kind of on-the-nose (almost as the guy with magnetic powers being the enemy of the group with the mutant-hunting robots).  The fact that he's set up to be a perpetual loser is kind of annoying.  I always was a little bummed that Genocide is mentioned in CE on multiple occasions, but didn't merit an entry (we'd have to wait for The Mutant File for them).

How's The Math?: Off by a point, so no big deal.

Did/Would Use In My Campaign?:  I did use him a number of times, most memorably in my Agents of IMPACT game, where I recast him as a superpowered member of the Destrugan regime (in that game, Destroyer conquered Libya in 1982 and renamed it Destruga).  Notably, his use in that game marked the point where I began scrutinizing villains for their relative vulnarability to mental attacks.  In his one and only appearance in that game, Neutron attempted to sabotage the test flight of a new US fighter jet, only to be defeated by a "hero" who never bothered to get out of his chair. Said hero had massive amounts of Mind Scan and Ego Attack.  He literally found Neutron's mind and knocked him out while the other members of his team stood around and watched.

That's the short version.  It was definitely as much down to a problem player as the rules of the game, but it's made me leery ever since.

But yeah I'd use him again in a heartbeat.  Fun character.

Name:  Arc

Affiliation:  The Conquerors

What's His Deal?:  Neutron's hapless lab assistant transformed in an accident into a remarkably effective close-in combatant: he basically grabs you and pumps thousands of volts through you.

Coolness:  He's a terrific light brick.  Hefty attack, solid defenses, good mobility.  He's not fancy, but he's a great mook.

Lameness:  For some reason, he has Turkish as his native language, even though the writeup says he was born and raised in Maryland.  For similar reasons, I suppose, his name is Achmed Stinwortz.  He's got horrible self-esteem issues and believes every horrible thing his boss tells him. His look is pretty blah. A bandana?

How's The Math?: Creation Workshop is two points off from the character sheet.  I suspect rounding errors.

Did/Would Use In My Campaign?: Yeah.  He's Neutron's sidekick.  They're a package deal.

Name:  Ankylosaur

Affiliation:  The Conquerors

What's His Deal?: Only the GREATEST ORIGIN OF ALL TIME!  Paul Bressler, a VIPER flunky obtained his super-suit the old fashioned way: by mail fraud.

(Seriously. Dude was raiding an UNTIL base, found the armor in shipping crates and changed the address on them.  The armor showed up at his door a few days later.  Instant supervillain).

Coolness: OK, APART from the origin, the whole theme of his armor is just terrific. His name is Ankylosaur.  His armor looks like an Ankylosaur. The tail is a cannon! Seriously, if you can't get behind this, I'm not sure we have much to talk about, really.

Lameness:  I'm not sure the word lame applies to the glory that is Ankylosaur.  OK, yeah, maybe he's a little goofy, and outside his armor, he's pretty much useless, but that's kind of the point of armored bad guys, right?

How's The Math?: Off by a point.

Did/Would Use In My Campaign?:  Are you kidding?  He's one of my favorite Champions villains ever!  I've used him as a solo villain, as a member of the Conquerors as-written, and as part of the Destrugan Conquerors in the IMPACT setting (which I ought to write about sometime).

Name: Wyvern

Affiliation:  The Conquerors

What's His Deal:  While his buddy Paul got to have the MOST EPIC ORIGIN OF ALL TIME, John MacDougal's story wasn't nearly so happy.  During the same raid, he was doused with strange chemicals and caught in an explosion, transforming him into a hideous winged horror.  It also damaged his brain and drove him mad.

Coolness:  Wyvern is visually pretty cool.  He's a mindless flying killing machine, and he shoots a nasty No Normal Defense attack from his tail.

Lameness: He's a mindless flying killing machine.  That can limit the scenarios in which a GM can use him, depending on the lethality of the campaign and the level of resistant defenses among the PCs.

How's The Math?:  Perfect

Did/Would Use In My Campaign?: He's Ankylosaur's buddy, so he definitely showed up.  Against appropriate opposition, he's fun to use. I even remember painting a Grenadier mini of him. I have no idea what happened to it.

So, there ya go, True Believer.  Another set of vile baddies down.  Next time, I'll tackle Eurostar.  They're a big group, so it may not be until Monday.


  1. I sometimes think that the Champions villains were made to be accessible to comic book fans, hence the ersatz Magneto-cum-Middle Eastern terrorist. But the Conquerors always sounded like the a second-tier group of villains to me (not as bad as some others, though)

  2. Mail fraud? hahahaaa

    That *is* the Best Origin Ever.

  3. So are all the Conquerors equally susceptible to mental attacks?

  4. p12, Neutron's RKA EC slot should cost 50 points, not 51. The cost of his 4 levels with his EC should probably be 12 points, not 20, since they are a "tight group". This makes his total cost 546 points. Neutron should have DF "Detects as a mutant."

  5. I know we've never met before, but we are now best friends for life based on a mutual adoration of Ankylosaur. He IS awesome. While the rest of the Champs rogues gallery were busy being knock-offs of actual comic properties, Anky took the risk of having a unique origin and distinctive appearance. Definitely in my Top 10.

  6. I always enjoyed these as intro fights for characters and low powered groups

  7. While they may speak Arabic in Egypt, they are not Arabs. And if they were, your answer is we should have no Arabic terrorist villains in games because there are Arabic terrorists in real life? Wtf?

  8. I love the origins that don't attempt to be "realistic." The realistic ones are even goofier and idiotic. Better to embrace the super hero genre's inherent silliness.