Sunday, July 5, 2015

Mind Games: Mother, May I?

Today we're going to take a look at the final member of PSI's two "power couples." Madeline "Mother Medusa" Poe.  She's simultaneously one of the least and most powerful members of PSI.  In fact, she's really the keystone to their entire tangled web of relationships.

Her story is far from a happy one.  Madeline grew up in an abusive home with an alcoholic father.  She dropped out of school and ran off to marry her first love, an Air Force airman.

Unfortunately, her husband was little better than her father, a fact that drove her to a suicide attempt.  She survived, but her husband divorced her only thirteen months after their wedding.

Truly on her own, she actually managed to get her life together.  She had a steady job and more confidence than ever before.  She even met a new man, Dr. Sebastian Poe.  They embarked on a whirlwind romance and were soon married. For the first time in her life, Madeline had freedom and even wealth.  She had a son, Simon, and all was right with the world.

Of course, it couldn't last.  First, her husband increasingly focused his attention on his research and running PSI.  Then, she came to realize how very awful an organization PSI was and how very much she benefited from said awfulness.  Not unlike Counselor Darke, when faced with a monumental moral quandary, she opted for her own comfort.  She relished her role as Dr. Poe's wife, even allowing him to subject her to an experimental process that brought forth her own positive mutation.  And if her husband no longer gave her attention, she still had her son to look after.  And speaking of Counselor Darke, as we already know, Poe's handsome right-hand man had begun romancing her on the sly.  Even more than with Sebastian, Madeline truly felt special.

The last straw in her marriage came when Dr. Poe experimented on Simon without her knowledge.  Her bitterness afforded Darke the opportunity he'd long been waiting for.  With her blessing and assistance, he put into motion his plan to depose Dr. Poe and install Psymon as the new leader of PSI.

In the new arrangement, Madeline (or Mother Medusa) is very much the model of a "dowager queen." While she may not be married to the head of PSI, no one in the know doubts her power and control over Psymon.

Of course, most of her power comes down to presentation and role-playing.  In actual game terms, she's (not surprisingly) a bit of a pushover.  Her main power is a telepathic single-command Mind Control ("Don't Move!").  Like her namesake, she paralyzes people with a glance.  She can also sense emotions, a handy trait in someone interested in maintaining power over a spoiled child.  Other than a little Mental Defense and a few PSI gadgets, she's pretty much a one-trick pony.  But it's a hell of a trick.

Campaign-wise, Mother Medusa is an absolutely necessary part of the background, but not a crucial NPC for PCs to interact with. This means the GM has to do some work with her the players may never see.  One interesting possibility would be for her powers and code name to be unknown to anyone outside of PSI. In that capacity, she could be Psymon's "ace in the hole," a final line of defense he knows would never fail him. Unless, of course, Darke manages to persuade her otherwise.

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