Wednesday, August 29, 2012

V&V Vednesday: Minuteman

Character Name: Minuteman     Real Name: William Johnson    Side: Neutral
Gender: Male      Height: 6'3"     Weight: 230 lbs     Age: 27

Physical Description: William Johnson is a tall, muscular, Caucasian male with light brown hair and brown eyes.  As the Minuteman, his costume is primarily blue, with some white and only a hint of red (because "red is for commies").

STR: 33     END: 31      INT: 12     AGL: 16     CHA: 16

Level: 9th     XP: 52,629     Basic Hits: 5     Hit Points: 88     Healing Rate: 4.5/day     Movement: 120"      Power: 92      Carrying Capacity: 4,489 lbs     HTH Damage: 2d8  
Damage Modifier: +2     Accuracy: +2     Detect Hidden: 10%     Detect Danger: 34%
Inventing: 36%     Inventing Points: 1.0     Reaction Modifier: (see below)      
Training: AGL

Heightened Endurance: +17
Heightened Expertise: +4 to hit with all military or primitive weapons
Heightened Senses: +20 % to Detect Danger (from training)
Heightened Strength: +18
Invulnerability: 14 pts
Languages: besides English, can speak Korean reasonably well, and is fluent in Vaerthian (from training)
Speed Bonus: +40" ground movement

Combat knife (+1 to hit, +1d2 damage)
Sword (if still on Vaerth or just recently returned) (+2 to hit, +1d6 damage)
Auto-Pistol (if now back on Earth) (+3 to hit, 1d8 damage, 108” range, 15 bullets/clip)
Auto-Rifle (if now back on Earth) (+4 to hit, 1d10 damage, range = 180", 30 bullets/clip)

Low Self-Control: When enraged, Minuteman will often enter a beserker rage, doing his best to kill any foes before him, as well as any who might seek to stop him.  Things that might trigger such a killing rage include (but is not limited to) any attacks that do more that 1/5 of his HP total in damage (after 'rolling with the punch') in a single round, being reduced to half or less his HP in general, any psychic or mental attacks, knowingly being probed telepathically, and any questioning of his patriotism or manhood.  He must roll his CHR or less on percentile dice to avoid such a beserker state.  Once succumbing to such a state while in combat, he can only roll to overcome his bloodlust if a trusted friend or ally, or a respected leader, appeals to his better nature; otherwise he must follow through on his mono-focused bloodlust until either knocked unconscious, or the fight otherwise ends.

Areas of Knowledge
Espionage, Military

Notes: Minuteman's alignment (Neutral) is somewhat complex in four-color terms.  He will fight for what he believes is right, but will often use methods or tactics that can not be called heroic.  He will curtail the worst of this if he is operating in the public eye, but if he thinks no one is watching he can (and has) committed some truly heinous acts over the years.

People's reaction (specifically, their reaction roll modifiers) to Minuteman (and vice versa) will rely not on whether they are 'good', 'neutral', or 'evil', but rather if they agree or disagree with his particular brand of patriotism and 'old-fashioned values'.

Upon returning to Earth in the 21st century, his heightened expertise bonus with military weapons is limited to those commonly used in the mid-20th century.  However, he will quickly attempt to acquire access to modern military weaponry, and soon familiarize himself accordingly.

Character Notes/Origin/Personality: Born in 1932, William grew up in a military family.  His father had served in World War I, and his brother had died while fighting in World War II.  Upon graduating from high school in 1950, he signed up for the Army, and after boot camp was shipped off to fight in Korea.  He adapted well to combat, but was often guilty of various excesses, most notably in regards to actions taken against the local civilian populace.  He had already been written up twice for such infractions, when in early 1951 his unit was slaughtered by a North Korean ambush; Johnson was the sole survivor.  Desperately trying to avoid North Korean forces while making his way back to his base, he stumbled onto a Buddhist temple, where he hoped to temporarily gain sanctuary before continuing back to his base.  

To his surprise, he found the Buddhist monks in the temple all dead, the means of their demise seemingly not from gunfire or other traditional means.  Making his way further into the temple, he eventually encountered a glowing orb, one which was of seemingly alien origin. The monks had apparently been trying to keep it sequestered away from the world at large, but had eventually fallen prey to its advanced malfeasance.  The orb tried to affect Johnson in a similar manner, but perhaps due to his hostile and aggressive nature, was better able to resist the effects of the orb.  As a result of the mental/psychic struggle that followed, William eventually passed out.  When he eventually came to, the orb was gone.

Johnson finally made his way back to base, where a medical examination revealed that he now possessed superhuman abilities.  The government quickly created the identity of the Minuteman for him, so that he could act as a super-soldier during the ongoing conflict (publicly, the official story was that the Minuteman's abilities were the result of an "experimental super-serum").  For the remainder of the war, Johnson acted as the Minuteman for several high-profile actions, as well as the occasional covert operation sans costume.  During this time he often searched for any signs or clues regarding the orb, but to no avail.  After the war ended in '53, he continued to occasionally serve his country as the Minuteman, although for a while he more frequently acted covertly for the CIA, where he often engaged in 'dirty work' for said group.

In 1954, the U.S. government decided to create a super-hero group, one directly under their control, to combat various super-human threats and menaces.   Minuteman was tapped to lead the team, due to his combat experience and patriotic appeal.  Called the Sentinels, the team consisted of Minuteman, Gateway (who had the ability to create portals that could transport the group several hundred miles, as well as into other dimensions), Gargoyle (who could turn enemies temporarily into stone), Fireball (a young black man with pyrokinetic abilities), and Blue Angel (a woman with wings).  Johnson wasn't crazy about working with civilians, especially a female and a non-white, but he did what was asked of him.

Over the next three years, the Sentinels helped to protect the nation from various threats.  Some of their missions, admittedly, involved fairly minor threats whose importance and danger was officially overstated for PR purposes.  As time passed, Johnson did eventually develop a sense of genuine camaraderie with his teammates; his attitude toward Fireball softened over time as well, although he still thought Blue Angel should not have been with the group, often relegating her to reconnaissance and non-combat roles whenever he could. 

In 1957, the Sentinels encountered the Sphinx, a supervillain who was stealing various mystical artifacts around the country.  The Sentinels eventuality tracked the Sphinx down, but in the resulting battle a dimensional portal was opened by the errant destruction of one of the stolen artifacts, engulfing both the Sphinx and the Sentinels. They found themselves in a primitive, magic-filled world called Vaerth by its inhabitants, one where the military forces of a wizard-lich known as K'luth's held much of the populace under its iron heel.  In the initial clash between the Sentinels (with the Sphinx) and K'luth's forces, a stray arrow pierced the already-injured Gateway's throat, killing him.  

With their sole hope to return to Earth taken away from them, now the remaining Sentinels not only sought revenge against K'luth, but also had to search for another means to return home.  With the Sphinx along side them, the group joined up with, and eventually would lead, a group of freedom fighters opposed to K'luth's rule.  One of these freedom fighters was a young sorceress named Syra, who said that she could rend the barriers between dimensions, but would only do so after K'luth and his forces had been defeated once and for all.

Over the span of what seemed like a year, the Sentinels (with the Sphinx now effectively one of their number) managed to whittle away at K'luth's forces, emboldening the land's downtrodden subjects to rise up against its undead ruler.  Despite the primitive conditions, Minuteman truly enjoyed these battles.  Here he didn't have to hold back; what would be considered a war crime back on Earth was just the regular business of warfare on Vaerth, and he could give in to his bloodlust without hesitation or regret.   

In a battle shortly before the final conflict with K'luth, Minuteman and Gargoyle had gotten separated from the others, and were attacked by soldiers under K'luth's command.  The soldiers tried to use hostages as shields against the Earthlings, but Minuteman was so caught up in has battlelust that he killed several of them in getting to the soldiers.  Gargoyle tried to stop his friend from hurting the non-soldiers, but in his beserker rage Minuteman ran his sword through his ally, seeing him only as just another obstacle.  After he had killed the last of the soldiers, he calmed down enough to realize what he had done; he then killed the last of the hostages, so that no one could say what had really happened, and when he met back up with the other Sentinels he told them that Gargoyle had died from the soldier's swords.

Shortly thereafter was the final battle was K'luth in the lich's bone tower.  Minuteman, Fireball, Blue Angel, Sphinx, Syra, and a troll called Gort (who had attached himself to Blue Angel's service during her time on Vaerth) eventually managed to destroy K'luth's body, collapsing his tower, and in the process breaking the last of the lich's military forces.  After a proper celebration, Syra cast the spell that allowed the Minuteman to return to Earth, coming along with them, for she and Fireball had fallen in love with each other during their time together on Vaerth.  Gort also joined them, unwilling to let Blue Angel leave without him.

To the shock of Minuteman, Fireball, Blue Angel and Sphinx, the Earth they returned to was a very different one than the one they left.  Time passed at a much slower rate on Vaerth, and what had been roughly a year there was over half a century on Earth.  The Earth of 2012 was technologically very different (in ways that the futurists of the mid-20th century did not predict), the number of superhumans was much, much larger, and perhaps most disconcerting for Minuteman, the social and political mores were very different indeed.  While Minuteman has adapted readily enough to the new military realities he now faces (especially in terms of equipment and hardware), the changes in society have left him more than a little flummoxed.  Various conservative groups are beginning to claim Minuteman as a symbol of their beliefs, a champion of "simpler times" and "old-fashioned values". 

Campaign Use: If you need a NPC superhuman to talk down to your PC heroes in a righteous and condescending manner, Minuteman is your guy.  He's used to being in charge, and will try to take commando any group that he is working with, no matter how temporarily.  Because of his darker nature, PC heroes may come into conflict with him if he winds up using lethal force in a situation where it isn't appropriate. 

Alternatively, he could be called in to work with the PC's if they are for whatever reason investigating any more recent appearances of alien orbs such as the one that gave him his powers.

A PC hero with psychic power might discover some of Minuteman's past crimes, possibly bringing them into conflict with the government (who would wish to keep such things quiet).

While the write-up assumes that Minuteman and the others have been back on Earth at least a little bit, the PC's could also encounter the Sentinels just as they return to Earth, with a misunderstanding between the two groups and a fight possibly following.  Or, depending on their abilities, the PC's might show up on Vaerth, just in time for the final battle with K'luth, and may be the means for the Sentinels to return to Earth.

Monday, August 27, 2012

So what's in that spellbook?

Besides spells, I mean.

Most of us have seen college notebooks which, while in theory should be dedicated to notes and information regarding the class in question, in reality will usually have all sorts of doodles, unrelated notes, and various other inanities written in its pages.  An apprentice wizard is very much the equivalent of such a student, so their 'notebook' should probably be similar in that regard.   Also, once a wizard becomes an adventurer, there may be a legitimate need for such behavior - some information will need to be properly recorded, and sometimes a spellbook is the only means available to do so.

And so, when your PC adventurers stumble across a spellbook, roll 1d4-1 times on the table below:

Spellbook Extras Table (d10)

1-2:   Art
3:      Maps
4:      Poetry
5:      Rumor
6:      Spell Commentary
7:      Magic Item Commentary
8:      Monster Commentary
9:      Religious Notes
10:    Roll twice, combining the results

Art - roll a d6 on the table below:
1:  Portrait(s) done in a somewhat realistic style (could be of anyone - the apprentice's master, family and friends, fellow adventurers, the bar wench the wizard encountered the night before, etc)
2:  As above, but drawn in a more erotic/lewd manner
3.  As above, but drawn more for humorous/mocking effect
4:  Non-realistic doodles and/or geometric shapes
5:  Portrait(s) of monster(s)
6:  Portrait(s) of magic item(s)

Maps - roll a d4 on the table below:
1:  Partial dungeon map
2:  Overland local map leading to dungeon
3:  Combo overland/dungeon map
4:  Map of hidden room(s) inside house/temple/castle/etc.

Poetry - there is a 5-in-6 chance that this is pretty doggerel stuff, at best being mildly amusing limericks ("there once was an elf from Hamrick...").  If the poetry is of the non-suck variety, there is a further 5-in-6 chance that it is not original to the wizard in question, but rather copied from another source, and therefore perhaps has potential adventure-useful info contained within its verses.

Rumor - a rumor/adventure seed, noted for posterity.  If you have a rumor table/chart for the area, roll on that and dress it up a little.  There is a 1-in-6 chance that the rumor is 'reversed', making a true rumor false and vice versa.

Spell Commentary - roll a d6 on the table below:
1-4:  basic notes and anecdotes regarding the spell in question ("why did master Garrett teach me this spell?  It's useless!") ("I love the smell of fireballs in the dungeon")
5:  notes regarding an unusual use and/or tactical application of a particular spell
6:  notes and theory regarding creating an improved version of a given spell.   If spell research is followed along these lines, it will give a small bonus to the success chance of creating such a spell, although there is a 2-in-6 chance that the notes/theory are in error, in which case an equivalent penalty is assigned to the spell research roll.

Magic Item Commentary - roll a d4 on the table below:
1.  Listing of a command word for a particular magic item
2-3.  A listing of various items needed for the creation of a particular magic item.*  If item creation research is followed along these lines, it will give a small bonus to the success chance of creating such a magic item, although there is a 2-in-6 chance that the notes/theory are in error, in which case an equivalent penalty is assigned to the item creation roll.
4.  Description of a non-standard/unique magic item.

Monster Commentary - roll a d8 on the table below:
1-5:  Notes on a monster or monsters common to the area ("the orcs of Tharn are not as primitive as we were led to believe...")
6-7.  Notes on a monster or monsters not common to the local area, or are otherwise rare and unique
8.  Notes on a monster not in whatever Monster Manual you're using (make something up!) 

Religious Notes - there is a 4-in-6 chance that this is info regarding some demonic or otherwise malevolent order/cult that the wizard has encountered, otherwise it gives details about a minor or secretive religious order about which little is generally known.

*Appendix J in the 1st ed DMG is quite useful here, as is the 'Reputed Magical Properties of Gems' chart on pages 26-27 of the same volume.

Music Monday: "Hell Broke Luce"

How about a little Tom Waits to help start your week... specifically, a Tom Waits who is all out of bubblegum:

And the weeks will be like months...

"Should hopefully be posting again in a week or two..."  Yeah, right.  A mixture of long work days and a bit of burnout made that hiatus not so brief.  Oh, well.

(and despite not posting for about two months, I somehow managed to pick up some new followers instead of losing them - how did that happen?)

New posts coming up this week (unless something else explodes of course).