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5325RE: [icons-rpg] Villain A Day (Pulsar)

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  • Soylent Green
    Jun 25, 2013
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      A while back I ran a one-shot adventure featuring Pulsar which was loosely inspired by the Maid of Honour episode of the Justice League cartoon.

      The adventure was about a royal wedding in a small, fictional former Soviet Republic between the dutiful princess and heir to the throne and the son of a Russian oligarch who is connected to the Russian mafia. The mob plans to make this state a safe haven and use diplomatic immunity to protect their criminal activities. The king consented to the wedding because he owes the mob as at the time independence the mob helped his family restore the monarchy. Now the mob is calling in the favour. 

      The heroes were invited because in a previous (assumed, not played) adventure they saved the tiny nation from a nuclear disaster.

      Pulsar intervenes to stop the wedding. For him the new Russian mob-connected rich are the ultimate traitors.

      That was the plan.

      In play it turned out a little different. The characters got carried away with wedding stuff (a large portion of the adventure ended up devoted to fighting a Venom-symbiote style tuxedo ) and enjoying the local colour (I can't be sure as this was a while ago but I have the feeling that illegal goat fights featured prominently) leaving precious little time for them to uncover the mafia plot and reducing the superheroic element down to a simplistic defeat Pulsar to save the wedding. 

      But that is how roleplaying games go. We laughed a lot, that I remember.

      To: icons-rpg@yahoogroups.com
      From: jhmcmullen@...
      Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2013 13:40:36 -0700
      Subject: [icons-rpg] Villain A Day (Pulsar)


      One-sentence summary: The time-lost utility infielder.

      First, a clarification: The capsule explosion did not destroy the capsule, just communications. The Soviets believed the capsule was destroyed because it disappeared through the space warp.

      Sergei is terribly useful but doesn't have a lot of handles. There are a few relatives in Russia who could summon Sergei back; he did not renounce them when he flew off, aghast at what communism had withered into.  He calls them, lets them know what he’s about, because he cannot bear to look at them, decades older than they should be. He was ready to lose them—Project Pulsar was very clear that he might die—but to have them age cruelly while no time has passed for him? No, he cannot bear it. He cannot bear what has happened to his mother, his brother, and his ex-lover, Svetlana Tereshkova. (He broke it off because he might die.) Threats to any of them are an unlisted Challenge for him: he would respond.

      On examining him, I’m surprised I haven’t done much with Pulsar, because he looks like the ideal utility player. He’s powerful enough that he can hold off most teams for a few pages (at least until his need for light is known), willing to work with a team or for an employer (so long as the employer says the right ideological things), and is smart enough to know that he has weaknesses. Really, you can justify him working alone or on a team or for hire. And his powers, while not particularly clever, are nothing to sneeze at: the powerful force field and blast make him tough to take out, and the regeneration makes him supremely difficult to keep down.  If I were playing him against someone whose special effects were light-based, I’d probably let him use one power every time he gets zapped by light: They hit him with a laser in one panel, so in the next he can muster flight or a blast.

      Story ideas
      • Pulsar is the kind of supervillain who targets the symbols of the decadent capitalist west…so why is he robbing high technology firms, especially when there’s no ideological component?  It’s clear from the materiel being stolen that someone is putting together a robot of mass destruction…but why would Pulsar be building one? Because the woman he loved, Svetlana Tereshkova, emigrated to America, and the Russian Mafia has her at the bottom of a mine. If the group includes a patriotic-themed hero, Pulsar is unwilling to tell them, but his mother might…if she can phone them and find a translator. (Of course, Pulsar can’t tell them outright anyway: they have someone watching him.)
      • Pulsar is depressed. Even Albania has stopped being a Communist state. The problem, he thinks, is that these people were not indoctrinated into the proper way of thinking. The proper thing to do is fund an orphanage, a (forgive the term) kibbutz, but it needs to be powerful. In a madness probably encouraged by vodka, Sergei decides to create a superhero orphanage. He begins by stealing some money and making a large donation to an orphanage. Then he begins stealing superpowered children, or the children of superpowered individuals. (He thinks of it as commandeering them for the communist state.) The staff can simply be bought, but the kidnapping children is going to get Sergei in trouble. Parents begin to search, and news gets to the players. Imagine the final duel at the orphanage: superpowered children zipping around, some of whom can be hurt, innocent orphanage workers, Sergei, and the players.
      • Pulsar is entertaining scientists, snatching away the ones who refuse his invitation and then returning them. By interviewing the released scientists, players can determine the reason: He thinks that if he can find the space warp again, he can travel backward in time. To do that, he’ll need a spacecraft (or at least life support-in-a-box) and some exacting calculations performed. What Rex Mundi has figured out is that it was the trip through the space warp that gave him his powers, not the experiments by the Soviet scientists: if he goes through the warp again, the powers will disappear.  And Rex needs every super powered individual he can get for the coming alien threat. So Rex gets the player characters to intervene. If it happens in space, might I point out that there is no night time in space? Pulsar’s powers are always on, so long as he stays out of the shadow of a planet.

      John McMullen (Searching for a .sig)

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