Monday, July 13, 2015

Mind Games: Catch-Up Double Feature

It turns out I screwed up with my last entry.  While Torment's a great character, it wasn't his turn yet. I managed to skip the pages containing a pair of odder members of PSI's personnel roster.  To make it up to them, I offer a double feature.

First up is Lady Mirage.  On the Victim/Villain scale, she's very much on the Victim side of things.  A normal suburban housewife with a happy life, Barbara Wright began suffering from horrible nightmares.  The next few years were a hell of terror and sleep deprivation, and that was before a therapy session triggered her mental mutation, killing her psychiatrist in the process.

Needless to say, this got PSI's attention and they contrived to take her in.  They helped her with her nightmares while growing her ability to project terrifying mental images.  Along the way, they discovered a fascinating side-effect: the more she used her powers, the less she remembered of her previous life.  Her power literally burned out her memory.

Given the ethical quandary this presented, Counselor Darke acted predictably: he forced Barbara to exert her powers and erase all knowledge of who she was before PSI.  Darke then convinced her that she owed her life to PSI, and turned Lady Mirage into a loyal weapon.  They arranged the murder of her husband, and her children were adopted by a couple of PSI's payroll.  With no life and no memories, she's terrifyingly effective.

In terms of her powers, Lady Mirage has a boatload of Mental Illusions (12d6).  Interestingly enough, if she wants to use them non-violently, she pays double Endurance, a very interesting Limitation.  Given that 4e was new at the time, her Powers and Tactics breakdown give a handy summary of what sorts of things she can manage and what sort of damage these illusions can do.  Tactically, she tends to target victims of the Psi-Phon grenades, as they are extremely vulnerable to her attacks.  Additionally, she has some Mental Defense, and carries some standard PSI gear.

Unlike Torment or Deuce, the chance of redeeming Lady Mirage seems awfully slim.  Any vestiges of her past life are gone  I suspect she'd willingly kill her children without blinking if ordered to do so.  As such, she's honestly not that interesting to me as a character.  As a tactical challenge, on the other hand, she's a lot of fun.

Our second feature of the night is Revelation.  Unlike the rest of PSI, he's a religious whackjob.  Of course, in his case, his religion is Power and he sees himself as its prophet.

It wasn't always thus.  Anthony Martinelli ran away young and grew up on the streets.  From an early age, he had a knack for finding people just by thinking about them.  At seventeen, a local mobster found his talents useful and he began drawing a steady, if crooked paycheck.

It was during this time that Anthony began searching for a higher calling.  He tried many religions and philosophies before coming to the conclusion that his true purpose was to found a new religion with himself as high priest and prophet.  It was at this point, he began calling himself "Revelation."

Lucky for him, he encountered PSI before this behavior completely alienated his employer.  In PSI, he saw a way to hone his skills, a path to greater power in fulfilling his destiny.  In Revelation, PSI saw a tool for locating new subjects. It was a recipe for success.

Of course, it hasn't entirely worked out.  While PSI has indeed brought Revelation greater power, including the means of "inflicting penance" on his targets, they also made a disturbing discovery: Anthony's mental mutation is killing him.  His religious fervor is almost certainly a manifestation of madness induced by it, and his brain is degrading as he ages.  Already, his control over his powers are slipping, and they occasionally fail him completely.  Meanwhile, his madness grows...

In game terms, Revelation has a substantial Mind Scan (10d6 with a +10 on the Ego Roll) with a 14- Activation to reflect the lack of reliability.  He also has a decent (5d6) Ego Attack he can deliver to Mind Scan targets (and only Mind Scan targets).  Otherwise, he's a soft target.  He's got no physical aptitude, a handful of Mental Defense, and a smattering of PSI gear.  On the other hand, he should never be in the line of fire, unless things are going extremely badly.

From a campaigning standpoitn, he's an interesting character.  Mind Scanners are major pains in the butt, especially if they have Ego Attack, as they can hurt the heroes from half a world away, without even leaving their Barcalounger.  On the other hand, Revelation's grandiloquent manner and "higher purpose" means he can't really hide his light under a bushel.  The fact that he's going increasingly insane as his powers degrade sets up some world-class pathos.  And maybe if things get really bad, instead of failing, his powers get stronger or new ones develop, like a light bulb burning brightest before it burns out completely.

So, there ya go.  All caught up.

1 comment:

  1. I'm just realizing how much thought went into the backstory of these guys, given that they are NPC villains.