Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Classic Enemies: High-Tech Enemies

Ok, not actually High-Tech Enemies. That's a later sourcebook, penned by Sean Patrick Fannon. In this case, I'm simply reflecting on the fortuitous set of circumstances that puts three technology-focused villains in a row for this entry.

Lady Blue (created by George MacDonald) is one of my favorite characters in Classic Enemies.  She's another Robin Hood type, but not as obnoxious as the Fox.  Her schtick is that she came from rags to riches, as a self-made woman.  She pushed herself to learn martial arts, gymnastics, and several sciences.

She used her knowledge to build a battlesuit and created a career as a super who goes against injustices that law-abiding heroes can't (or won't) touch.  It's a delightfully late-Silver/early-Bronze Age conceit that is kind of charming by today's standards.  I mean, "Leverage" had how many seasons?

On top of her MO (which includes a Code vs Killing), she's terrific at manipulating the media; she's officially the most popular supervillain in America, which means heroes who oppose her may run afoul of her fans, an unusual challenge for folks who are used to being admired just for saving the day.

Mechanically, she's your typical battlesuit wearer: high STR, DEX, and CON, enhanced defenses, a blaster and flight.  Of course, she's also a gifted martial artist with enhanced STR, so she can do you some serious hurting up close as well.  When I've used her in my games (and I've used her quite a bit), I emphasize her acrobatics and have her making all sorts of extraneous flips and rolls in combat. Her 9" of Flight isn't much, but it's enough to make her fight like a super-strong wuxia character.

As I mentioned, she's shown up in quite a few of my games.  She pretty much screams "potential complicated girlfriend" for a do-gooder PC.  Given that she does quite a bit of good as a side-effect of being bad, she presents all sorts of moral quandaries to conventional heroes.  Of course, our new millennium has a bit more of a jaded outlook on the whole heroism thing, in which case, she might not be considered a supervillain at all, just a professional rival.  However you use her, she's got a lot of potential to bring fun to a campaign.

Next up is Glenn Thain's Ladybug.  I wish I could muster up the same enthusiasm for her as I did Lady Blue, but...

Look, I get it.  Ladybugs have armor and fly.  Ladybug has flying armor that looks kind of bug-like.  It's a very Silver Age concept, and if I were running a game that was set squarely in the Silver Age, I'd probably work her in.  But then, I'd probably have to change her very Bronze Age origin.  See, LB here was a genius graduate researcher in Toronto who's revolutionary power armor failed miserably during a demonstration.  So, of course, she used it to rob banks instead.

(OK, that's not horribly Bronze Age, I guess, but lady scientists were pretty much unheard of at the Big Two until the 80s, last time I looked.)

Mechanically, she's a very solid brick.  With a 70 STR, she packs a wallop, though she doesn't have any ranged capability, so she relies on mobility to get in and out of trouble. I'm not a fan of Damage Resistance bought via a focus -- it always feels inelegant to me, but I know that's a minority opinion -- but it's a minor gripe.

I don't think I've ever used her as-is in one of my games, but I did change her nationality, look, and name and used her as the Iron Maiden in Agents of IMPACT.  She was Thatcherite Great Britain's most Thatcherite defender.  Not a particularly nice person, I'm afraid, but a potential ally for US-based IMPACT operatives all the same.

Our final high-tech contestant is Lazer, also created by George MacDonald.  This guy.  This guy right here?  This guy is awesome.  I mean, how much chutzpah does it take to paint your villain ID on the chestplate of your armor?  Not a symbol, but the actual name?  Lots, that's how much.  And don't get me started on those rocket exhausts...

Lazer is your basic hard-luck case with one marketable skill and 102 points of Obvious Foci.  He can fly, he can shoot (boy, can he shoot!).  He can dish out quite a bit of punishment and, if his Activation Rolls hold out, take a punch or two before flying away.  He is the very definition of "goober with a gun," and he fits in to pretty much any villain group except heavy magical types.

I used him most memorably in a campaign where one of the PCs was a power armor guy named Mechanix.  I created a Hunted for him called TECH (I don't remember what it stood for) and Lazer was one of their many operatives.  His crowning moment was burning the words "TECH WANTS MECH" in the window of the team's HQ without being detected.  It was a small thing at the time, but it turned into one of those campaign moments that everyone remembered and talked about years later.  Funny how it's the little things, sometimes.

Looking ahead, our next guy is also high-tech.  But he's one of my favorites, so he'll get his own entry.  Until then, keep the city safe!


  1. I've always liked Lady Blue. YAY!

  2. Gotta love the name on the suit. And misspelled.

  3. I have used all three of these in a powered armor story arch I had going. Each suit was from a different company trying to win a BIG government contract. They were all out looking to grab the media spotlight to rake in the PR points for their corporate bosses. Of course things got corrupted along the way and the "friendly" competition got nasty with the PCs caught in the middle