Sunday, May 10, 2015

Classic Enemies: H is for...

We're at another point in Classic Enemies where we're between big guns.  These characters are good as filler for ad hoc villain groups, or as slightly oddball Hunters of PCs.  That said, they do provide a few interesting bits of world-building, so let's take a look at them.

First up is Halfjack, another Bruce Harlick creation.  He's a cyborg. He was a mercenary named Jack Smith who got himself blowed-up real good.  The only available medical care was a nutcase named Dr. Levy. Pro tip: If a guy calls himself a doctor, but he also owns cyborg panthers, he's probably not the kind of doctor you want.  Levy killed Jack's companions and used what was left of him for experiments.  The result was pretty much the outcome you expect: a psychotic half-man, half-machine monstrosity.  The one twist is that Jack's psychosis is over the remaining human parts of his superior mechanical form.  He wants to be all machine.

Mechanically, Halfjack is interesting in that his defenses are all based on his half-robotic form with Activation Rolls.  Offensively, he's got superhuman Strength, a couple of ranged attacks, and a STR Drain that I don't really understand but don't lose sleep over.

Campaign-wise, he works well in a lot of contexts.  He can be a solo villain with a gang of mooks backing him up, he can be part of a crew, or he could even be working for a group like VIPER on a short-term basis.  His obsession with becoming entirely mechanical could find him allying with Mechanon, who he sees as a perfect aspirational goal. Or maybe he becomes the high priest of a cult of fanatical Mechanon worshippers (an idea that just occurred to me as I typed this).  In my own games, he's usually been hired muscle.  In Agents of IMPACT, he was a terrible cautionary example. In that setting, there has only ever been one successful cyborg (Col. Austin, the Bionic Man).  Halfjack is an example of what usually happens, possibly the worst example of what usually happens.  Usually, cyborgs go mad, burn brightly, then die horribly.  Halfjack's longevity is one reason why Dr. Levy is among the top three individuals wanted by IMPACT.

Up next is Herculan, created by Glenn Thain. He's an extraterrestrial who got stranded on Earth and is trying to get home.  Unfortunately, his initial misunderstandings with the denizens of this barbarous primitive galactic backwater has led him down a path antagonistic to the forces of law and order.  At least as we primitive barbarians understand those concepts.

Herculan never got much use in my games because he's all about Adjustment Powers.  I hate GMing Drains and Transfers because they make for too much bookkeeping on the fly.  I do like the fact that he's honorable and even possibly benevolent. If the PCs could show they could help him in his cause, he might even ally with them (though there's still the matter of his previous crimes). I do find it amusing that he's hunted by NASA; in one of my games, that stood for the National Alien Studies Academy, which stood in for METE.

But honestly, I never really did much with him.  How about you?

Finally, we come to Hideous, a George MacDonald creation who proves all you need for a decent villain is an adjective for a name.  Hideous takes that concept and runs with it.  He's big, he's tough, he's super ugly.  So ugly that you have to make a Ego roll to look at him without flinching, which is an interesting bit of fluff unsupported by the rules.

According to his origin, Hideous was once incredibly good looking.  One warehouse accident with a hazardous chemical later and he was, well, hideous.  Also super-strong. Also super-stupid.  Also, a walking pity party.

Hideous isn't particularly powerful (215 points), though he's strong enough to present a threat to life and limb.  Given his weak mental stats, he's easily manipulated, prime fodder for a master villain to put him on the payroll.  Furthermore, given his desire to be left alone, he could fill a Solomon Grundy sort of niche. In one of my campaigns, I killed him off, then reanimated him, running with that angle a bit more explicitly.  Of the three, he's probably the villain I've used the most, simply because he's pretty easy to slot into any campaign.

Next time:  Hisssssssssss...


  1. I always wondered how many HERO GMs sketched out their own adjustment powers, to make them easier to adjudicate on the fly.

  2. Halfjack in my world was an experiment by Mechanon to try and understand humans. He is totally under Mechanon's control but doesn't know it. released into the world Mechanon watches all he does through remote feeds to try and understand the human mindset. Alot of time Halfjack gets "ideas or urges" to do things, these are imputed commands by Mechanon. Never used Herculan as written I changed his powers and made him a galactic gladiator coming to earth to "Practice" for the next big game. Hideous was always in love with one or another female hero and caused trouble for her at random times