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Solar (Icons Writeup)

Solar, Man of the Atomsolar5coverlg
aka Phil Seleski

Prowess 3
Coordination 6
Strength 3
Intellect 7
Awareness 8
Willpower 7

Stamina 10

Powers
*Energy Control 10 (Extras: Flight, Force Field, Dazzle, Transmutation, Absorption, Blast, Dimensional Travel, Healing, Life Support, Immortality, Duplication) (Limit: Duplication is uncontrollable – in times of great stress, Solar will sometimes split off duplicates)

Specialties
Science – Nuclear Physics (Master +3 bonus)

Qualities
Godlike Being
Nuclear Physicist
Emotionally Unstable

Background
Much of this comes from the Valiant Fandom Wiki:

In Muskogee, Oklahoma, Philip Seleski grows up a comic book lover. His favorite comic, Doctor Solar, Man of The Atom, inspires his interest in science and determines his field of study. Like his hero, Phil excels in the sciences and becomes a brilliant nuclear physicist. His crowning achievement is the design and construction of the first nuclear fusion reactor for the Edgewater Advanced Fusion Energy Research Center.

During the reactor’s first test run, something goes horribly wrong. There is a core breach, and a nuclear meltdown is imminent. Doctor Seleski, after running out of ideas to stop the disaster, throws himself into the reactor’s core in a moment of desperation. As a conscious Seleski floats in the plasma, he wishes that the whole incident will stop, and it does. The anti–proton pumps stop leaking and all of the deadly radiation simply disappears.

Seleski survives the incident and makes a startling recovery. However, things will never be the same for the good doctor. The accident somehow transforms him into a being of pure energy. He soon discovers that he has the power to manipulate energy in all its forms. Empowered, Phil takes it upon himself to ensure that no other accidents like the one that changed him will ever occur. Policing the world, he eradicates nuclear facilities that he deems too dangerous or unsafe. This brings him into conflict with an unnamed governmental organization that enlists the aid of the equally–empowered Erica Pierce to stop him. In the ensuing conflict, Seleski inadvertently creates a black hole that destroys his world in an attempt to tame his out of control power.

Through unexplained means, Phil finds himself in the past at a point in time before the accident happened. He also discovers that the world has subtle differences, the extent of which he soon realizes. He sets in motion a plan to prevent his past self from making the same mistakes, but when faced with an insurmountable obstacle he suffers a schizophrenic attack that, given his bizarre physiology, literally splits him into two persons; one a physical manifestation of his guilt, and the other an incarnation of his childhood hero, Doctor Solar.

“Born” with the collective memories of Phil Seleski and his own comic book origins, Doctor Solar believes that he exists only to kill Phil, while becoming colder, darker, and more cynical, Phil realizes that Solar has taken all of the attributes that make him a good person. During a final conflict in the same reactor that spawned them, Seleski convinces Solar of his intent to save the world. Seleski absorbs Doctor Solar and emerges from the reactor at the point in time that his past self is about to hurl himself into its core.

In the process, Seleski observes that the fusion reactor is a sort of a “wish machine”; it allows him to make his childhood dreams, inspired by the Doctor Solar comic books, to become reality. Phil tells his past self that the reactor is granting him his wish to become superhuman, and warns him that becoming what he wants will only lead to catastrophe. Offering his past self the power, knowledge, and tools of God that he desires in exchange for his humanity and another chance with Gayle Nordheim, they merge and the fully recombined Phil Seleski successfully prevents nuclear disaster. Fulfilling his dream of being a hero, Seleski also earns a second chance at life as Solar, Man of the Atom.

As Solar, Phil goes on to have many adventures, fighting a wide variety of threats, from Spider Aliens to malevolent Harbingers to Mothergod. One of the differences that Phil discovers about the world he finds himself in after his trip through time is the existence of a number of strange and unusual people, some with extraordinary power of their own.

After centuries of life, Solar blows himself up in an effort to stop the Spider Alien invasion of AD 4001.

Look, Solar is basically a godlike character and probably shouldn’t ever be used a player character. He’s just way too powerful. His biggest weakness is that he’s an emotionally unstable guy… stress him out too much and he’ll create some variant of himself. He also has a tendency to create his own problems — both Erica Pierce (Mothergod) and Fred Bender (Doctor Eclipse) basically became arch-villains because of Solar himself. To say that he doesn’t make very good choices is the understatement of the millennium.

Black Terror (Icons Writeup)

Black Terror
aka Bob Benton
blackterrorross

Prowess 5
Coordination 4
Strength 7
Intellect 5
Awareness 5
Willpower 5

Stamina 12

Powers
*Damage Resistance 4
*Leaping 2

Specialties
Science – Chemistry (Expert +2 bonus)

Qualities
“Well, Tim, are we going to show these folks some action?”
Patriotic
Dedicated to helping “run-down” people

Background
Most of this information is taken from Comic Vine:

At first Bob Benton was a normal pharmacist working on an experiment with his assistant, Tim Roland, to make a tonic that could, as Bob put it, help “run down people.” While working on the experiment Tim accidentally adds formic acid. After getting mad at Tim for adding the wrong chemical, Bob inhaled some of the resulting “Formic Ethers” and gained super strength and invulnerability.

Seeing the potential of his newly acquired powers, Bob decided to do something he’d always day-dreamed about: use his strength to fight crime and evil. It is then that he became the nemesis of evil, The Black Terror.

Believing that Bob may need help to wage his war on crime, Tim took it upon himself to take the Formic Ethers and develop the same powers as the Black Terror. Together they were known as the Terror Twins and went on to fight threats both domestic and foreign throughout World War II.

This writeup is of the original Golden Age version of The Black Terror – you can use it as the basis for any of the variant versions that have popped up over the years, as well. If you wanted to use the version from Project: Superpowers, for instance, you’d add a Cutlass 4 under powers because that version frequently uses a sword and probably give him a weaponry specialty.

The Black Terror (Reese Unlimited Version)

BLACK TERROR_col_smallerThe Black Terror is a character that dates all the way back to Exciting Comics # 9, published in January 1941 by Nedor Comics. His secret identity was pharmacist Bob Benton, who formulated a chemical he called “formic ethers”, which gave him various superpowers. He used these powers to fight crime with his sidekick, Tim Roland, together known as the “Terror Twins”. The character proved popular enough to survive until 1949 and his distinctive costume made for some truly memorable covers. After the Golden Age, the character eventually fell into the public domain – which led to a whole host of publishers reviving him for various projects. Over the years, he’s appeared in books published by AC, Eclipse, Wild Cat, Image, Moonstone and, of course, the Reese Unlimited imprint of Pro Se Press. I first wrote the character for Wild Cat back in 2008 as part of a book called Legends of the Golden Age and later used him in a couple of stories for The Peregrine. More recently, I’ve gone further back into his continuity to incorporate him into my Lazarus Gray stuff. Because his “later” appearances were written first there are a few discrepancies in how he’s portrayed.

In my universe, we first see The Black Terror in 1934 and learn that he’s the creation of a United States military operation overseen by General Arbogast and a scientist named Kenneth Butler. The Black Terror was, in fact, a plant-human hybrid — he had literally been grown in a tube. His memories (all the “facts” from the Golden Age comics) were implants designed to create a backstory that would make him a better soldier for the United States government — Jean Starr was there to give him a woman to fight to get back to and Tim gave him a sense of family. Neither actually existed, except in his own mind. When Bob found out the truth, he broke free and went rogue — but his programming was strong enough that he decided to continue fighting as The Black Terror. In 1936, this led him to Sovereign City in search of a man named Maxwell Schmidt. The German was running Omega Solutions. In conjunction with another product of the same government program that created The Black Terror — a man named McIness that was codenamed Titan – Schmidt hoped to transform himself into an entity dubbed Prometheus. In the end, Schmidt died for his hubris and The Black Terror was forced to kill Titan, the only other entity like him in the world. When all was said and done, The Black Terror used the technology that had created him to grow versions of Jean and Tim — he implanted similar memories into their minds and gave them life. All of this was recounted in “Making of a Hero” from Lazarus Gray Volume Two.

Continue reading → The Black Terror (Reese Unlimited Version)

Toyo Harada (Icons Writeup)

Toyo Haradaharada

Prowess 4
Coordination 4
Strength 4
Intellect 6
Awareness 8
Willpower 9

Stamina 13

Powers
*Telepathy 9
*Telekinesis 9
*Mind Control 7
*Force Field 7
*Psychic Scream (Mental Blast) 7
*Atomization (Blast) 9
*Levitation (Flight) 5

Specialties
Aerial Combat (+1 bonus), Business (Expert + 2 bonus), Leadership (Expert +2 bonus), Mental Resistance (Master + 3 bonus), Psychiatry (+ 1 bonus)

Qualities
“You are incapable of comprehending my limits.”
“I am the Omega… the Paragon… the True Harbinger.”
“What you need is me.”

Background
Much of this comes from Valiant Universe: The Roleplaying Game

Sand ripples like water through the garden, but it must flow around the rock. Through most of the last century, Toyo Harada has been that rock, quietly exerting his will to bend the world around him.

Born outside Hiroshima in the first half of the twentieth century, Harada was just a boy when the atomic bomb activated his powers and annihilated his old life. He wandered without purpose until the Bleeding Monk, a mysterious precognitive, guided him with visions of the future and Harada’s grand role in shaping it. Having witnessed mankind’s potential for self-destruction firsthand, Harada realized that only those with great power could unite humanity against the coming darkness.

A psiot with unmatched mental abilities, Harada can bend people this will, raise force shields, disperse a target’s atoms, and accomplish many other psionic feats. With a combination of nearly limitless power and natural business sense, Harada has crafted a mighty organization (Harada Global Conglomerates) capable of redirecting the path of the world as he sees fit.

Possibly the most powerful psiot to ever walk the Earth, Harada takes the long view in all situations. He seeks loyalty from his followers but refrains from tyrannical behavior unless absolutely necessary.

Harada is far too powerful for any single hero to defeat and he’ll make mincemeat out of most groups, as well. Battling Harada is something that will take a long, intelligent campaign and even then, the chances of victory for the heroes is slim. Use him sparingly.

Stilt-Man (Icons Writeup)

Stilt-ManStilt-Man-Marvel-Comics
aka Wilbur Day

Prowess 4
Coordination 4
Strength 4
Intellect 5
Awareness 4
Willpower 3

Stamina 7

Powers
All of Stilt-Man’s powers come from his battlesuit and related weaponry. Without it, his Strength falls to 3 and his Stamina is reduced to 6. His suit provides the following abilities:

* Damage Resistance 6
* Life Support 1 (internal oxygen supply)
* Growth 5 (Limit: legs only; -1 to defense and tests to hide; +1 bonus to intimidation attempts against smaller opponents)
*Resistance – Binding 9 (Stilt-Man’s armor is protected by an industrial silicone covering with prevents Spider-Man’s webbing or any other adhesives from sticking to it)
*Stun Gas 6
*Kick Attack 7

Note: Stilt-Man’s greatest success came when he nearly defeated Thor using a suit of armor enhanced with secondary adamantium. That set of armor had all the same abilities as above but the Damage Resistance was 8 and Stilt-Man’s Kick Attack was an 8.

Specialties
Technology (Expert + 2 bonus), Aerial/High Elevation Combat (Expert +2 bonus)

Qualities
“This is my chance to prove my worth!”
“You’re really going to sit there and act like you don’t know me?”
“I defeated Thor once! I’m serious!”

Background
Most of this comes from Marvel.com:

Wilbur Day was a scientist at Kaxton Labs who stole designs for a hydraulic ramming device from his company out of frustration of his position in his job. He soon invented a battlesuit and tried his hand at petty villainy– looting stores and robbing pedestrians. Later on, he tried suing the company, with Matt Murdock as his attorney, claiming legal ownership of Kaxton’s original design and going so far as to accuse Kaxton of being the Stilt-Man. Eventually, Day was discovered to actually be Stilt-Man. Day, wearing the stilts but not the rest of his armored suit, used an experimental molecular condenser gun, based on another idea of Kaxton’s, to attempt to eliminate Daredevil. But in battling Daredevil, Day himself was struck by the molecular condenser’s ray and shrank seemingly into nothingness.

In fact, when the ray had condensed his matter to a certain point, Day was transported into a limbo-like “microverse”. Months later, Day and his stilts reappeared on Earth at their full size.

Constantly re-modifying and improving upon his original stilts and the rest of his battlesuit, the Stilt-Man has fought against the likes of Daredevil, Spider-Man, and Captain America. When given a special duplicate of his suit forged from secondary adamantium by Blastaar, the Stilt-Man even dared to challenge the thunder god Thor. After Thor defeated the Stilt-Man, Day’s Adamantium suit was confiscated and melted down. Day later recovered his own modified Stilt-Man battlesuit.

Subsequently, an incompetent small-time hood named Turk stole Day’s Stilt-Man suit. Turk began using the Stilt-Man suit himself, but Day told Daredevil how to defeat Turk by manipulating the gyroscopes that keep the battlesuit balanced. Turk proved inept at manipulating the stilts, bungled an attempt to kidnap Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Maxine Lavender, and was caught by Daredevil.

Day decided that after this humiliating episode, he had to do something dramatic to regain his reputation as a formidable criminal. Day broke into a Cordco factory and used its automated devices to construct an improved battlesuit within a remarkably short time. Spider-Man learned of the break-in and tackled the Stilt-Man. But when Spider-Man saw that a sonic disruptor Day had activated was about to blast Day himself, Spider-Man took the blast himself to save Day’s life. Moved by Spider-Man’s sacrifice for an enemy, the Stilt-Man gratefully took the unconscious crimefighter to safety, and then left the factory.

The Stilt-Man has often returned to crime, only to be defeated time and again. He once joined fellow villains Owl and Gladiator in an attempt to form a formidable team to take over the operations of the Kingpin, but were defeated by Spider-Man and Daredevil when they were betrayed by their teammate Copperhead to a demonic entity.

The Kingpin’s wife, Vanessa Fisk, offered Day a portion of the criminal empire once owned by the Kingpin, as the crime lord was believed to have died at the time. Day controlled the portion only briefly, as the Owl tried to capture the empire for his own and Day became convinced he should give up his costumed identity and life of crime. He hoped to confess to Matt Murdock, whose secret identity of Daredevil was leaked to the world, but Murdock denied any knowledge of who Day was, and Day left.

The Stilt-Man is one of my favorite “lame” villains – I actually think you could tell some good stories with him as one of the lead villains but from a roleplaying game standpoint, he’s a loser villain that can give lower-level heroes a surprisingly tough time!

Spending Time in Sovereign

aidra_fox2Spent much of the past week in Sovereign City, revising and adding to the twelfth volume of Lazarus Gray. I know that some of you have gotten mighty impatient waiting for these books to be released (the seventh book was released three years ago) but I think they will be on the way relatively soon. Until then you do have Broken Empire to tide you over – it’s an Assistance Unlimited book set in 1964.

Once all twelve of the Lazarus books are out, I think I’ll be able to sit back and feel pretty proud of them. While it may not get too much (read: any) attention from the Pulp Factory Awards and it’s not considered as groundbreaking as Derrick Ferguson’s rightfully-beloved Dillon series, I think there’s a place for Lazarus and his friends in the New Pulp landscape. Besides, not many series in the New Pulp landscape reach 12 books (plus spinoffs!).

Whenever I’m feeling down, I always end up starting a new Lazarus story – so it’s unlikely that I’ll stop at 12 books. I was worried that selling the property (along with the rest of the Reese Unlimited catalog) might result in less enthusiasm but whatever doubts I had were lifted when I wrote the Lilith novel, which was the most fun I’d had writing in a couple of years. When I returned to the twelfth Lazarus book, I found that I was able to add about 3,000 words to it and really thought they were good ones.

Our Icons writeups continue to get major traffic for the site, which is an unexpected pleasure. Hopefully some of our visitors will check out my writing, as well! I’ve had a few requests to do stats for Lazarus, Gravedigger, etc. and I’m sure I’ll get around to that eventually.

Nightman (Icons Writeup)

Nightman
aka Johnny Domino (original name: Johnny Domingo)nightman

Prowess 6
Coordination 5
Strength 5
Intellect 5
Awareness 6
Willpower 6

Stamina 11

Powers
*Life Support 1 (Nightman does not need to sleep)
*Telepathy 6 (Limit: Nightman can only read “evil” thoughts. Limit: Power is uncontrollable.)
*Night Vision 3
*Body Armor (Damage Resistance 4)
*Taser 3
*Eye Lenses 4 (Provides Resistance against vision-based Dazzle attacks. Also provides Extended Vision via the left eye lens. Limit: Without some sort of protective lens to shield his permanently-dilated eyes from bright lights, subtract 2 from all visual-based actions)
* Swinging 2

Specialties
Performance (Saxophone Expert + 2 bonus), Athletics (Expert + 2 bonus), Drive (+ 1 bonus), Investigation (+ 1 bonus), Martial Arts – Akido (Expert + 2 bonus), Stealth (Expert + 2 bonus)

Qualities
“Life or jazz, I can play!”
“I feel it! The Evil!”
“Passion for life? That I’ve got!”

Background

Johnny Domino (he shortened his name from Domingo in order to appear less ethnic) had two great passions in his early life – jazz music and akido. Both were introduced to him by his father Eddie, who learned the martial arts during his stint in Vietnam and who refined it during his years on the San Francisco police force. Johnny grew up to become a talented and popular jazz musician, one whose future seemed paved with success. That changed when a freak accident left a piece of metal lodged in his brain. Waking from a coma, Johnny found that the portion of his brain that controlled sleep functions had been badly damaged. Awake 24 hours a day now, Johnny felt his passions surge whenever night fell. Those passions grew even stronger when he learned that he could hear evil thoughts in others. Driven by a need to stop these crimes before they were committed, Johnny put together a costume and adopted the identity of Nightman — the hero would take back the night from those who preyed on the innocent.

As Nightman, Johnny found himself fighting alongside San Francisco’s other heroes, the Strangers, against the likes of Mangle, the Werewolf and the ageless Rhiannon. During a bizarre encounter with an artifact known as an Infinity Gem, the Nightman was split into two beings — the original Nightman, who found himself trapped in an alternate universe, and a second Nightman, held in thrall by Rhiannon and blessed with supernatural abilities. This second Nightman has all the same abilities as the original with a few changes: Detect 4 instead of Telepathy (Nightman II does not sense evil thoughts — he sees auras, which tell him if someone is “good” or “evil”); Darkness Control 3; Telekinesis 4; Celtic Dagger 3 (Extra: once it strikes, the dagger cannot be removed by anyone except Nightman II; Nightman II is able to sense the dagger’s location with the equivalent of Detect 8); Electricity Control 2; Immortality 3 (Nightman II achieves this by organ replacement and the digestion of humans).

Though we have not seen Nightman in years, it can be assumed that he would have eventually found his way home to the Ultraverse (his home universe, as it was known to comics fans) and reinstated his role as San Francisco’s nighttime avenger.

My favorite Ultraverse character, the Nightman has many similarities to Valiant’s Shadowman, thanks in large part to the fact that Steve Englehart (who wrote the early issues of Shadowman’s book) created Nightman. Both heroes were a bit manic in personality, both felt more at home in the dark, and both were jazz musicians.