Thought Games: Iron Man

Next on the roster of nerdery is Tony Stark, the Invincible Iron Man. Of course, the movies tend to make the point that he is not “invincible” as such, except inasmuch as, befitting a protagonist, he always emerges triumphant.

Most incarnations of Iron Man have cast him as the leader of the Avengers, and for good reason. Unlike Bruce Banner, Tony Stark remains in control of his intellect while in battle, and most versions – especially the version portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. – are highly charismatic and (over)confident. Steve Rogers might have experience commanding men, but he’s – quite literally – a captain, commanding the front-lines. Tony Stark is a general, directing the battle as a whole.

Building Iron Man proved to be the far most difficult Avenger so far, probably because he’s already had more screen time than any of the others and thus has portrayed far more ability than any of the others. As such, I’ve built Iron Man as a Power Level 11 character instead of 10, further cementing him as the leader of the Avengers.

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Thought Games: The Hulk

Since I did a sheet for Captain America, I’ve started thinking about doing the other Avengers as well.  Obviously, they should all be power level 10 – there’s no clear powerhouse among the core Avengers*, and each has their own strengths and weaknesses.  But one of the trickiest ones to build is the Hulk, because he is in reality two characters who are nevertheless linked – Dr. Bruce Banner is as much a part of the Hulk as Hulk himself.

While Hulk and Banner aren’t necessarily the same person, most incarnations of Hulk share most of a brain with Banner, but the higher functions (and deeper knowledge) can only be accessed when Hulk calms down and lets Banner out.  This situation can be somewhat tricky to build in Mutants and Masterminds, and requires bending a few rules.

*(Note: Having no films named for them yet, and clearly lacking a level of superpower of the other Avengers, I’m not counting Hawkeye and Black Widow as “core” Avengers, and when I get around to them, will be building them as a lower power level.)

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Thought Games: Captain America

I went to go see Winter Soldier yesterday, and while watching I was thinking of what sort of character Captain America was.  Given my hobbies and proclivities, this of course went down the lines of “how would I build Cap as a tabletop character?”

Captain America is basically made of two parts: a physically perfect, highly-trained human being coupled with the amazing power of a Vibranium shield.  While Cap by himself is fairly impressive, what puts him over the top and raises him to the same level as great heroes like Iron Man and Thor is the shield.  Without the shield, Cap is a hero, but he’s not a super hero; thus, the shield is an inherent part of his character.

The best system I’ve encountered for building a wide variety of super-heroic characters who nevertheless share some sense of balance among themselves is Green Ronin Publishing’s Mutants and Masterminds, which is loosely based off the d20 system developed by Wizards of the Coast.  If you’re not familiar with that system, the rest of this post will probably be a bunch of meaningless numbers.

I shall attempt to build Cap as a PL 10 character.

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A message for Justin’s brain

Hey you.  Yeah, you – the brain.  That one right there.  The one telling Justin he’s worthless.

Stop lying.

You’re a lying liar who tells lies, and you need to stop it.  Lies aren’t good.  Lies are bad.  We don’t like lies, and we don’t like it when you lie.

What’s that?  Who am I?  Who do I think I am, telling you what to do?  Well, I’ll tell you.

I’m krellen, buddy.  I’m a smart guy and I know stuff.

And one of the things I know is that Justin is a cool guy who deserves happiness and success.

So you just lay off your lying lies, Mr. Brain.  I’m watching you.

Tamir: the Sacrifice

As written by Kamal, Loremaster of Forest Keep:

In the early mists of history, the Goddess Velera secreted her children, the race of Humans, away from the conflict that raged in the heavens, seeking to protect them from the predations of the Dragon Gods; Khistarn, as she does with everything, always sought to devour Velera’s children, while Lysardis, Bright God of the Dragons, fought to preserve the right of the new-come people to life.  But the power of dragons is beyond the ken of mortals, and that of the Dragon Gods even more so; the Bright God’s defence proved as fatal as Khistarn’s assault.

So Velera proposed the Challenge.

Knowing Zhamokh to be the master of creation, the Mother presented him a quandry: could he create something greater than the Gods, a home for their children where Humans could dwell separate of the ever-raging struggle between brother and sister that shook the heavens?  The Forge’s pride was nearly as great as his creativity, and so he sought to prove his might to his consort.  In a realm without time, he toiled long to craft the world for his children, and only after ageless eons was his work completed.  From his workshop emerged the world of Tamir, formed from the very stuff of the chaotic Void into a single, unified whole.

With but a kiss on his cheek as reward, Velera carried her children to the surface of the new world, hiding them amid its trees and mountains and winds and waves to keep them safe from the might of the Dragon Gods.  For a time, they dwelt there in peace, safe from the conflict that raged in the heavens and oblivious to the might of the Gods that roiled around them, never touching the world, veiled by Velera’s gown.

No secret can truly hide from the Void, however, and in time Khistarn grew aware of the new presence in the cosmos.  A skirmish between the dragonkin in her service and the service of her brother clashed, and came to land in conflict upon the surface of Tamir, where they found Humans, long thought extinct among the heavenly powers.

As soon as she became aware that she had not, in fact, achieved destroying the Humans, but rather they had been hidden away from her, Khistarn gathered the whole of her essence in rage and set upon the world, seeking to destroy it and all who dwell there in a single instant.  As her foot alighted upon the surface, the Bright God appeared, setting forth a plea to the very Weave of Existence.  Her age and might surpassed his, and never could Lysardis seek directly to block his sister in the fullness of her might, and so instead he offered a sacrifice: the Sacrifice, the most selfless act imaginable.

In exchange for his own divinity, the very spark that made him God, the world of Tamir would be spared his sister’s wrath, and forever be placed beyond her reach, or that of any divine figure.  In the instant her foot touched the surface, the Weave twisted in response to the Sacrifice, wrenching the surface away from the terrible presence of Khistarn, set apart from both Void and Celestial, inviolate and immutable, untouchable by the hand of God, Dragon or no.  Even the Judge, who had power to divide night from day and light from dark, could not change what the Fickle Hand of the Weave had wrought.

As her children were torn from her, left bereft and alone, Velera wept.  And the fate of Tamir was freed from the whims of the Gods.  And so did the Bright God become Lost, soon to be replaced in the heavens and in history, for few now remember even his name, let alone his power.

In time, the prayers and supplications of those left upon the surface allowed trickles of godly power to enter, by invitation only.  Through faith, the Gods could empower the faithful, granting some small measure of their divine might to their followers on Tamir.  Thus was the divine power of clerics the first known magic in the world*.

(*It should be noted that the forgotten dragonkin, stranded upon the world by the Lost God’s Sacrifice, always kept their own mysterious powers, though it would be long before any not of that bloodline would learn any inkling of their secrets. – K)