Friday, July 3, 2015

Mind Games: Victim or Villain?

Lets talk about Mind Slayer.  While Mind Games doesn't mention it directly, she was credited to Glenn Thain in Enemies.  This is a rather significant re-imagining of the character.

Along with Psymon, Mind Slayer is the other half of the scariest part of PSI.  Taken in by PSI as a teenager, her telekinetic abilities were honed through torture and her personality largely erased by brainwashing.  She fled the organization, living on her own as a criminal.  After Psymon overthrew his father, he reached out to her, bringing her back into the fold, seducing her into a romantic relationship that ALMOST CERTAINLY DIDN'T INVOLVE MIND CONTROL AT ANY POINT, NO SIR. WHY DO YOU ASK?

Her character illustration could be in the dictionary next to "Late 80s Bad Girl." Seriously, she's got it all, from the Black No. 1 dye job, to the punk-influenced threads, to the PSI tat instead of a uniform insignia.  She even smokes, which was the ultimate 80s comics visual code for "dangerous." (Seriously, check out 'The Judas Contract.' When Terra makes her heel turn reveal in front of the readers, she's smoking. It was a standard artistic shortcut back then.)

Personality-wise, she doesn't have much of one.  She's been turned into a living weapon, so she pretty much makes Arnie's Terminator seem friendly by comparison.  She's cold and merciless, only showing anything else for Psymon, to whom she's a completely devoted lapdog.

In terms of her actual powers, she's a brute: 545 points of useful stuff (only 86 of that from standard PSI gadgets).  She's got 45 STR Telekinesis in a Multipower with her primary attack, a 4d6 RKA defined as "razor-sharp bursts of pure force." On top of that, she's a telepath with an Ego Attack that can drop a normal and better Telepathy than her boyfriend.  She's also got telekinesis-based Force Field and Flight, and 24 points of Mental Defense.  A mentalist WILL NOT TAKE HER DOWN.  In fact, if her Force Field is up, it's going to take better than a 14d6 normal attack to even Stun her.

I can distinctly remember seeing this write-up and realizing that I needed to re-think my perceptions of mentalists.  Here was one that could, if necessary, tangle with a team of superheroes and come out on top.

It's pretty easy to use her in a campaign.  As a straight-up villain, she's going to be the literal sharp end of PSI if they're a hunted.  Hopefully the hero in question remembered his resistant defenses.  Another, potentially more interesting option is to have the heroes stumble upon her backstory.  Maybe they find themselves in possession of Dr. Poe's experimental data and discover who Mind Slayer was and how she got that way.  There are plenty of superheroes who would look at that situation and try to find a way to redeem her, to reach the brutalized child inside that killer's body and heal her.  Or, a severe blow to the head allows her former personality a toehold in her consciousness.  Suddenly, she has remorse for what she's done and a new-found hatred for PSI.  She might turn up on the heroes' doorstep, looking for help in taking down her former masters.

And even without PSI, she's a fun character to use.  In my Agents of IMPACT setting, she was an East German assassin who worked with Sliver (from the Strike Force Universe).  She was less punk and more sophisticated jet-setter, but it didn't make her any less scary.


  1. Okay... Here's the "behind the scenes" for this character. As you note, she was originally created by Glenn (as was the whole idea of PSI; the tribute to him I put in the book didn't make the cut, and sadly wasn't replaced by some other homage or credit. I enjoyed several great sessions of gaming with him and the other Guardians back in the day). I was asked to keep her in the book, but given free reign to flesh her out in a different direction. And, yeah, she's definitely a cliche from 80s punk and comics. And I dislike her update for the new version, and I REALLY dislike her visual for "Champions Online." Since I believe I've never signed over the rights to these particular characters to Hero Games (and thus to Cryptic Studios and beyond... I've got the contracts, but never challenged their use 'cause it's not worth it), here's hoping that something will come along some day that lets us push these original ideas in a more modern re-working... with a more contemporary visualization especially for Mind Slayer. Anyways...

    When I received back my first draft of "Mind Games" from the editor, he practically bled red over every page. He wanted me to change the tense of verbs in almost every sentence, and then take some very different approaches in organizing the write-ups. So the pages were buried in red editing marks...

    ...Except for Mind Slayer's write up. Her page was blank. Except for one big word written in all caps diagonally across the entire page: "B*TCH"

    Yeah, I laughed. Hard. And for a long time.

  2. That's hilarious!

    Given that my "definitive" Champions Universe is pre-5e/DOJ, I'm pretty much ignorant of any updates to her. I could go look her up, I suppose, but why bother?

  3. MIND GAMES was the supplement that really, REALLY got me wanting to run a Champions campaign. Unfortunately, I did not have a good supply of interested players at the time -- and of the two that did express interest, one wanted to play Donatello from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and basically demanded that incorporate TMNT into the game, which was not quite what I had in mind -- and then her boyfriend, who was cool at first but then took issue with one of the villains in the game, the large fellow who could pull the "Scanners" trick, being about the same girth as him, which he took as a personal insult on account of how that villain was, well, a reprehensible villain. So that game never happened.

  4. Mind Games has long been one of my favorite gaming supplements. I'm not to fond of what they've done with Psi in 6e or Champions Online as it just doesn't click with me.