Sunday, April 19, 2015

Classic Enemies: Low-Powered Threats

I'm back.  I needed a day off.  Also, all the news from Star Wars Celebration kind of took my mind off supers.  But this project must continue.

Today, I'm going to talk about the next three characters in Classic Enemies: Black Mambe, Blowtorch, and Bulldozer.  While they're grouped by alphabetical order, they're also interestingly close to or below the power level of a starting character.  As a result, they make great early foes for a group of new heroes.  And they've got terrific hooks as well.

Of the three, Black Mamba (created by Bruce Harlick) is built on the most points.  He was Jefferson Durant, a Nobel Prize winning biochemist.  His family was kidnapped by King Cobra, who we'll get to in time.  KC used them as leverage over Durant, and to ensure his loyalty, mutated him into a hideous human-reptilian hybrid.  Any hope for continuing fealty ended when Black Mamba (as he was now called) discovered King Cobra had killed his family months before.  He broke free and began a one-snake man crusade against the ophidian mastermind.

All of which would make him a potential superhero, except for the fact that he's fanatically focused on revenge and doesn't care who he hurts to obtain it.  If blowing up a plane full of innocent people furthers his cause, he won't blink about it.

In combat, Black Mamba combines medium Brick strength with a touch-delivered Drain that targets Constitution and Physical Defense.  He's fast, and not a pushover, at least against starting characters.

If I have any gripes about Black Mamba, they are his rather low intelligence for a Nobel Prize Winner (though his Biochemistry is on a 16-), but that's pretty minor.  He's a fun character to use, and he's tied into a larger universe.  GMs featuring King Cobra in their games can have him cross paths with the heroes as an unwanted ally.  Or, his story could ultimately be one of redemption.

Next we have Blowtorch (by Glenn Thain).  He's craaaaaazy.  Perry Johnson likes fire.  No, he LOOOOOVES fire!  He loves fire like Heatwave on "The Flash" loves fire. In fact, if you're going to use Blowtorch in your game, I recommend watching the episodes of Flash where Heatwave shows up and take notes.  They aren't that different, really.

Powers-wise, Blowtorch is the classic "Normal Guy With Mundane Equipment Manages To Be A Superpowered Threat."  Unlike, say, Bullet, it's not as annoying because he's so over the top Nutsy Fagen.

Stats-wise, he comes in at only 225 points by the book.  He's not particularly fast tough, but boy, can he lay down a ton of damage!  His primary attack is an autofire flame blast, but he can back it up with an explosion, or a concentrated burn that just keeps going.  If he takes Body damage, his tank ruptures, immolating him. Which probably guarantees him a short career, particularly against foes with Killing Attacks.

Apart from the crazy, his write-up also notes he's Hunted by Defender (leader of the Champions).  This is a potentially cool hook, if the Champions exist in your game world (if not, use another hero).  New heroes could find fighting Blowtorch being their first introduction to a larger world of heroism.

Mostly, I dig the crazy.  He's fun.

Our final low-powered threat is the ever hilarious Bulldozer (created by Steve Goodman).  His write-up's broken, but he's a fun character and easy to fix.

Bulldozer was a, well, a bulldozer driver who had a radiation accident. He refuses to disclose his real name, if he even remembers it.  His personality is pretty much every professional wrestling heel you've ever seen.  He's violent, macho, misogynistic, and not very bright.

Also, he doesn't wear a shirt, those are tattoos on his arms.

Also, he's such a misogynist that he actually takes extra damage whenever a female character tags him in hand-to-hand combat.  Not that he'll admit it.  He'll just bluster all the way down, then claim they tricked him or something.

He's also afraid of spiders.  Which could be hilarious.

Mechanically, there's a fairly big problem with him.  He's built with a single level of Density Increase. The problem is, DI requires a minimum purchase of two levels.  So, to make that work, either all of his DI-affected stats go up, or other adjustments need to be made to fix it.  Upping it to two levels certainly doesn't break the character (he's still under 200 points), so that's how I did it and adjusted the points costs of the affected attributes.  He's a little harder to knock back, but nothing else really gets changed.

Story-wise, this guy's so much fun to use.  All it takes is one superheroine on your team to ruin his day, and who isn't going to have fun with that?

So, there you have it: some low-powered characters for the heroes to cut their teeth on.  Next time, they won't be so lucky.


  1. I don't remember if I ever used any of these guys, mostly because when I was running Champions it was for a fairly large group. Bulldozer might have made an appearance as a bit of hired muscle for someone else, though.

  2. I used Black Mamba for a long involved story plot. He has alot of good plot hooks built in to his background. Never used blowtorch. Bulldozer is a nice comic relief hard luck case that I use for starting players to learn to win a fight with brains instead of brawn.