Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Classic Enemies: Eurostar

With the delays of the past few days hopefully behind me, today I'm tackling the largest single villain group in Classic Enemies.  Eurostar are among the heaviest hitters in the Champions Universe (Which, it should be noted, really didn't exist at the time.  There was, at best, a sort of consensual setting based on the Enemies books and published adventures, but no two campaigns would be remotely the same.  And that was how we liked it.)  As the writeup says, "Eurostar does not rob banks. We wreck economies."  And honestly, yeah, they are mostly in that weight class, in terms of power level and combat synergy.  They're also among my favorite RPG villains ever.  Well, most of them.

Eurostar in CE consist of five core members: Fiacho, Bora, Durak, Le Sone, and Pantera, along with three provisional members: Mentalla, the Whip, and White Fire.  In raw character points, the eight of them weigh in at a mere 3,602 point (or, roughly 450 points each).  That's not quite double the high-end writeup for Dr. Destroyer (the baddest of the bad in the CU). So yeah, they are definitely heavy hitters.  That said, there are a couple of Morts in the group that I've happily ignored in my home games.

(On the plus side, Eurostar's membership was 3/8 female in 1989.  Not terrible.  Granted, they're all pretty much white Europeans, but at least there was some gender representation.)

So, put on your thickest Eurotrash accent (or a how to speak Esperanto LP) and take a gander at Eurostar.

Name:  Fiacho

Affiliation: Eurostar

What's His Deal?: So, this guy, Danar Nicole was a Danish politician in the European Congress.  A real go-getter, united Europe sort of dude.  Then, a scandal ruined his career.  It later turned out that the KGB sabotaged him, but by then the damage was done.  He vanished and came back twisted and ugly, strong and tough.  He was dedicated to uniting Europe under a crushing fist of destruction.  Or something like that.  Anyway, Fiacho means "Very Bad" in Esperanto, because -- of course -- he speaks Esperanto.

Coolness:  While transcribing him into Creation Workshop, I realized that Fiacho is kind of the CU's answer to the Red Skull. He's European, charismatic, a genius, and tough enough to fight a star-spangled patriot on more or less even terms. In game terms, he's a light brick with a dusting of martial arts and lots of skills.  He's also got 400 pts to spend on bases and vehicles, so he's got the Mastermind square on his supervillain Bingo covered as well.  He also speaks Esperanto.

Lameness: It's a pretty lousy costume.  No explanation is given for his superhuman stats, but that's easy to make up, or leave it as the elephant in the room.  His martial art is Savate, which I've always thought kind of goofy. Some folks will find the Esperanto bit silly, but I like it.

How's The Math?:  Pretty close.  Interestingly enough, the Eurostar write-ups were the first that "showed the math" for Psychological Limitations, though they didn't do it consistently.

Did/Would Use In My Campaign?:  Yeah. Absolutely.  Who doesn't need some powerful Eurotrash villains in their game?

Name:  Bora

Affiliation:  Eurostar

What's Her Deal?:  She's basically a mutant with serious air/wind control powers.  She can turn her body into air and fly and can pretty well kill you from a distance without breaking a sweat.  She's Italian and super beautiful and super vain about it.  She also speaks Esperanto.

Coolness:  Seriously powerful air controller.  A really well executed character build that reinforces the concept.  Particularly frightening is her immunity to psionics when in her air form. Also, one of my favorite character illustrations.

Lameness:  The whole cold-hearted gorgeous killer thing has kind of been done to death in comics, y'know.  She doesn't really have a personality beyond that.

How's The Math?: She has 20 more points in specific Disads than technically allowed, but I've never considered that a problem for villains.

Did/Would Use In My Campaign?: Definitely.  Though in my games, Eurostar was usually an off-screen presence, a major threat that could strike, but probably not until the PCs were able to take them on.

Name:  Durak (Bully)

Affiliation:  Eurostar

What's His Deal?: Russian brute.  Got his powers during an experiment.  He hates the Soviet Union (which was still a thing back then).  He's incredibly strong and tough. He also speaks Esperanto.

Coolness:  Big, strong, and ugly.  He's the sort of bad guy the players are going to hate, because he's downright sadistic.  He's also tough enough to take on an entire team and keep them busy for a while (until they gang up on him).

Lameness:  Not a lot, really.  His Ego is criminally low, so he is very vulnerable to mental attacks, but that's utterly in keeping with a big brute.  Eurostar also have some countermeasures on that front.

How's The Math?:  Off by a few points, though upon review, it looks like I left Superleap off the sheet when I did my entry. Will have to fix that.

Did/Would Use In My Campaign?:  Absolutely.  Someone has to throw a container ship at the good guys.

Name:  Le Sone

Affiliation:  Eurostar

What's His Deal?:  He's French.  And he wears a diving suit sort of battlesuit because he was a diver.  And he's blind.  And he has sonic powers.  And yet, he's not as cool as any of that would indicate.  He also speaks Esperanto.

Coolness:  Ummm...he's got a wide array of energy blasts with different effects.  Sorry, I got nuthin'.

Lameness:  Remember when I said there were a couple of Morts in the team?  This is the first in the set. Apart from the water guy always being the most useless member of a team, Le Sone ("The Sound") is just terrible.  Apart from crappy powers and theme, he's also completely paranoid.  Nothing about him says team player, and nothing about him says "Member of the most feared supervillain team on the planet."  Though he IS a racist, so he's got that going for him.

How's The Math?: OK.  Mechanically, his powers run of an END Reserve, so I'm not thrilled with that aspect of the design either.

Did/Would Use In My Campaign?:  Not bloody likely.  I don't remember if he turned up when PCs actually faced Eurostar.  I've pretty much hated him from Day 1.

Name:  Pantera

Affiliation:  Eurostar

What's Her Deal?:  Feral woman bred in laboratory by her war-criminal father.  Powers-wise, she's basically Wolverine: fast, sharp claws, Regeneration.  Or maybe X-23.  They have similar personality issues.  She does not speak Esperanto. Or much of anything, really.

Coolness:  Who doesn't love a babe with claws, amirite? 
She's one of the lowest power level members of Eurostar, but she's one of the most dangerous.

Lameness:  Not a lot.  She's not terribly hard to take down with gas or a concerted mental attack.  But getting her to stay still for it might be a problem.

How's The Math?:  Perfect.  Mechanically, she's a marvel of efficiency.

Did/Would Use In My Campaign?:  The one time I fielded Eurostar, I nearly lost a friend.  I'd been running Champions for a few months, and my friend (and former GM) Chris had begun playing a speedster.  A very annoying speedster.  My villains couldn't hit him, and this was many years before I realized that for PCs, SPD equals spotlight time, so he was constantly monopolizing the game.  

To teach him a lesson, I sprung Eurostar on the PCs, and Pantera on him specifically.  Her first strike dropped him to negative BODY.  As it turns out, he had no Resistant Defenses and he was literally bleeding to death from the first attack of the combat.  However, I rolled poorly on the Stun Lottery, so he was still conscious and more or less functional, other than the whole bleeding to death part.  

What ensued was the first case of attempted character suicide I ever encountered in a superhero game.  A massive shouting match at the table followed shortly thereafter, and it was a couple of weeks before we spoke civilly.

Ever since, I've been leery of springing Eurostar on insufficiently powerful PCs.

Name:  White Flame

Affiliation:  Eurostar

What's His Deal?:  Some sort of British nobleman who killed some people with his superpowers in order to avenge the death of his wife.  He's got lots of fire powers and, I suppose, a posh accent.  He also speaks Esperanto.

Coolness:  I kind of like the fact that he's basically bought his way onto Eurostar with his personal fortune.  Other than that...meh. Oh wait, he's hunted by The New Knights of the Round Table. This is the first time they've been mentioned and they're not UNTIL, the KGB, or INTERPOL, and therefore slightly more interesting.  He also speaks Esperanto.

Lameness:  He's just kind of a Mort, y'know? I just don't like him.  He's boring.

How's The Math?: The numbers add up OK.  He's got an Absorption power I had a lot of trouble building in CW and would probably hate to use in play (Adjustment powers in general are a pain in the ass to GM, if you have to shuffle numbers around).  I also like the fact that his Reputation Disad applies to both his secret ID and his villain ID, but the reputations are different.

Did/Would Use In My Campaign?: Not as a member of Eurostar.  Probably not.  Not with that Absorption power.  Maybe if I turned him into a raving National Front UKIP sort of guy (riffing of the White part of his villain handle).  That might could work.

Name:  Mentalla

Affiliation: Eurostar (formerly Dr. Destroyer)

What's Her Deal?:  Isabella Medina is a psionic weapon created by Dr. Destroyer who changed sides and got away with it.  She's a very powerful psychic who likes to play with people's minds.  She also speaks Esperanto.

Coolness:  Terrific origin.  She's a mentalist who can actually handle herself in a melee, as long as her defenses hold up.  I suspect she can take down the Ultimates single-handed.

Lameness:  Pretty insane cleavage on that costume there, Mr. Zircher.  Not much else to hate on, really.

How's The Math?:  Off by a few points, but no big deal.  I find it kind of interesting that, despite her history with Dr. Destroyer (and a Psychlim to go with it), she's not hunted by him.

Did/Would Use In My Campaign?:  In a heartbeat.  The best thing about Mentalla is her non-combat potential.  With her EGO drain, there are very few important normals she can't weaken then use her Mind Control on.  With her Mental Illusions and Disguise skill, she can make herself look like whoever she wants.  With her telepathy, she can make herself look like whoever her victims want her to look like.  In short, she's perfect for undermining anyone in authority.  The real beauty of it is that things could start going to hell and no one would even know she was involved.

Name: The Whip

Affiliation: Eurostar

What's His Deal?:  He's a Romany dude with a whip.  He uses drugs to keep his physique at the level of someone in their late 20s, even though he was a child during WWII.  Mostly, he's a guy with a whip.  In a team that bankrupts nations. He does not speak Esperanto.

Coolness: Seriously?  He's a guy with a whip.

Lameness: Haven't you been reading? He's a guy with a whip!  Sheesh...

How's The Math?:  OK. For a guy with a whip.

Did/Would Use In My Campaign?:  Sure.  If I really needed a guy with a whip. I suppose.

And that's Eurostar.  Next time, a much smaller (and weirder) group: the Raiders!


  1. Eurostar was a great group for engendering animosity from players. They could be arrogant, obnoxious, and (at the risk of revealing some teenage personality flaws) foreign. One of the my favorite gaming lines from college involved the Whip, although admittedly it was a humor line.

    I always thought Mentalla's lack of a Hunted meant that they was Doctor Destroyer's plant on the team.

  2. That thought (about Mentalla) honestly never occurred to me, but you're the second person to mention it since I posted this. It seems kind of obvious now.

  3. I think that it was actually referenced in the "Champions Universe" sourcebook.

  4. It's possible Eurostar was a great villain team, but I could never get past the laziness of the naming schemes. I mean, if I picked up a Spider-Man comic, and they introduced a villain called "Very Bad," I'd have given up on the medium a long time ago. Many people hate on the New Millennium, but I think they really did right by Eurostar in that setting. Not the least fix was changing Fiacho to "Fenris" and Durak to "Centurian."

  5. I always used these guys as behind the scenes movers and shakers in the superhuman world. you might end up fighting one or two of them if you figured out and foiled the plan they had going but I don't think I ever used the entire group in a fight. They tended to frustrate the players with all their behind the scenes pull.

  6. I would expect a group of European villains from Europe to be European. Your point was...?

  7. Love that Pat Zircher artwork.

    Not crazy about stealing names and powers from comic books (Mentalla). Could at least make us a new name!