Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Classic Enemies: Moving On To The Independents

If you've been following this far, we are now done with the organized teams and duos and on to individual villains.  Of course, these folks don't exist in a vacuum, so they may team up or hate each other.

We start off with this fine specimen, known as Avar-7 (created by Glenn Thain).  According to the write-up, AVAR stands for Advanced Variable Android Reconaissance).  He is yet another alien space probe, this one a more or less human-looking...

OK, here's the deal: Avar-7 is The Vision with the serial numbers filed off.  Seriously, he can get super-dense or completely desolid.  His No Normal Defense Attack is basically phasing his fist into someone.  He was benevolent until Mechanon (the Champions Universe's answer to Ultron) got hold of him and messed with his programming.  Even then, Avar-7's code against killing prevailed.  He's even described as having a ruddy complexion.  The only thing Vizh can do that Avar can't is fly.

None of this is a bad thing, mind you.  Avar-7 is interesting because his original programming has gotten screwed up, but not in the same way as Plasmoid, where he might strike up a conversation with a ATM.  Avar-7 tries to work toward the conquest of mankind, but he can't quite follow through.  All in all, he'd be a good target for a redemption plotline, particularly one involving a magic wielder (he's vulnerable to magic, you see).  Or, what happens when his creators show up and find out that some Earth AI tampered with their programming?

Avar-7's hunteds are kind of interesting.  He's hunted by the Champions (the stock team in the main rulebook), a US Chemical company (for some reason that isn't expanded upon), and Strike Force.  This last one is interesting because they're not actually part of the Champions Universe. Unless...

Our next rugged individual is Beamline (created by Eric Christian), a scientist who fell victim to the bane of all experimental physicists: funding cuts.  Forced to use unreliable equipment, his experiment failed, turning him into a living mass of plasma with magnetic manipulation powers (but, oddly enough, not actual magnetism/TK).  Now he dedicates himself to taking over the country in the name of science.  In the world he will rule, scientist will never have to beg for funding.  Yes, he's kind of a Bozo.

I've got a lot of issues with the way he's written up, and my hunch is that the stats were generally provided by the character's creator, and not necessarily given a solid going-over.  Beamline's powers are kind of a mess.  He's got a Multipower that doesn't work in strong magnetic fields.  OK, so far, so good. He's then got an No Normal Defense Energy Blast that doesn't work "metal armor or magnetic fields."  This, I have a problem with. 

First off, we already know it doesn't work against magnetic fields.  That's in the parent power framework.  The "not against metal armor" seems, to me, way too generous.  I'm not fond of NND's that are only stopped by special effects.  It's one thing for a Vulnerability or a Susceptibility to work that way; those Disads are chosen by the player/GM and modified by the frequency of whatever the character is Vulnerable/Susceptible to.  An NND that works against everything except Metal Armor? Way too generous.

Second, all of his attack powers in the NND have the Charges Limitation.  This is just kind of weird for what are supposed to be innate powers.  I'm not a fan.  Third, he's got Regeneration in his Multipower.  This is a weird idea, but on the surface I'll allow it.  Except, once again, weirdness crops up: the Regeneration has a Limitation "Only when unconscious."  Here's my problem with that: You can't shift Multipower slots when you're unconscious, so Beamline wouldn't be able to activate the Regeneration in the first place to use it. Also, Regen doesn't affect Stun, so as soon as he wakes up, he loses the power to heal himself. The final slots are Desolidification (which works), and Gliding, a power I have very little use for, but I guess it's OK.

He also has Armor (apparently natural, as there's no focus) that activates on a 14-.  I'm guessing this is him altering his plasma state or something.  At least his skill choices back up his origin.  Though I can't for the life of me figure out why he's hunted by Anarchists.  Doesn't matter, it's not like I ever used him or would in the future.  Not in that form, anyway.

The last two characters we'll look at today are both independent operators, but they are allies.  First up is Black Claw (created by George MacDonald).  I'm pretty sure he first appeared in "Microfilm Madness!" a Champions adventure published in Space Gamer magazine that provided an additional chapter in the "Viper's Nest" saga.  He's a mutant with the ability generate darkness.  Primarily a burglar, he once bluffed his way out of a bad situation with a knife, he built himself some claws for backup.  He's a member of GRAB, "a democratic alliance of supervillains who commit theft and split their take among the members of the group, with a reserve fund for legal and medical bills."

Power-wise, Black Claw is comparable to a starting PC (265 pts). He's got superhuman strength that puts him into "light brick" territory.  His build does trigger another one of my pet peeves in that he has Damage Resistance purchased with a Focus Limitation.  Now, far be it from me to argue with the designer of the game, but I've never liked using Focus for Damage Resistance.  I realize this may be a minority opinion, but it never flew in my games.  Better to just buy some Armor.

All in all, he's a neat little character.  I love the fact that his combat levels are all for hand-to-hand defense and only against someone who doesn't have resistant defenses. Basically, he flails his claws around threateningly, trying to avoid getting hurt.  So yeah, he's fun to have around.

Our final subject for this chapter is Black Claw's fellow GRAB associate, Black Diamond, so named because she's 1) Super dense (like a diamond); 2) African-American; 3) has that diamond cut-out on her costume.  Deal with it.

Like Black Claw, Black Diamond is also a George MacDonald creation.  She's not high-powered (only 215 points), but she is very cost-effective.  I've seen her hit way above her weight class.  Whereas Black Claw is a classic second-story man, Black Diamond is a straight up brawler.  You use her as the muscle, distracting everyone while Black Claw slips in unseen.  Unless her luck slips again.  It does that a lot.

While Black Diamond won't necessarily be a long-term threat in a game, having her show up as a regular on GRAB jobs or even hiring out to other crews is a good way to cement the notion of a supervillain underworld in your campaign.  If she's constantly being arrested and getting right back out on the streets, that may be down to GRAB's lawyers, or maybe there's corruption within the system for the heroes to investigate.

And that's it for tonight.  Next time, the Knight of the Crow...


  1. I have used all of these as villains for beginning PCs to fight. I tweaked both Beamline and Avar-7 to both fit my campaigns and to make the writes and powers more closely mesh. Overall I liked using them as beginning villains that grew over time with the PCs

  2. Vision can't fly. He alters his density and what not, supposedly. Or that used to be the explanation. Much like how Thor can't fly but rather throws his hammer and holds onto the thing so it carries him with it.