Are you ready to hack some gibsons, my little droogies? Because it’s time for another installment of…
…in which I use the character creation rules in the Marvel Super Heroes RPG’s Ultimate Powers Book to roll up a random batch of powers and abilities, then sit back and watch as some incredibly talented folks work their creative magic upon the quantified chaos.
This week’s plug-and-play contribution was submitted via cyberspace by Johnathan Munroe.
Count Denno Damnato believed in making do with the resources at hand: when traditional methods failed to keep the peasants of his tiny mountain fiefdom under his sway, he turned to the dark rituals collected in his family’s secret library. When the Soviets annexed his lands, those same magics soon saw him installed as Regional Commissar Damnato. When politics and civil war tore through the mountains he stole the face and life of a young UN peacekeeper and relocated to North America.
And, once his continuing explorations into the nature of life and death (and particularly into the mass application of the latter as a way to extend the former) drew the attentions of one Dr Stephen Strange and forced him to go to ground in a small manufacturing town, what he had at hand was a warehouse full of surplus late-90s computer equipment.
Undeterred, Damnato set out to find a way to refocus his power through such unorthodox materials, and through bloody single-mindedness he created a bizarre new school of techno-necromancy within a frenzied six months. Elated with his success, he grew overconfident, and so a simple trip outside for supplies escalated into a mystical confrontation with Strange that ended with Count Damnato trapped in a bubble of looped time, half a country away.
SOME YEARS LATER: Virtually the only thing that Joe Sobaud had in common with Count Denno Damnato was that belief in making do with what one had, and to that end, if the girl he was set on dating thought that urban spelunking was an interesting hobby then so did he. After putting in some serious time at Town Hall looking over old blueprints, he’d even managed to find someplace completely new to spelunk: what looked like a whole bricked-up office level of the old abandoned computer warehouse. All he needed to do was make sure he could actually get in and maybe stash a six-pack and a blanket, in case things got romantic when he showed off his find.
Joe found his way in without a hitch. Trouble was, the first thing he saw once his eyes had adjusted to the gloom was a pair of golems made of yellow-grey plastic, shambling forward to grab his arms. One of them babbled about how pleased it was that the Master had finally found a worthy volunteer while the other fiddled with some kind of home-made syringe, and before Joe could get a word in edgewise he was rendered unconscious.
Later, after he’d explained their mistake (and yelled a great deal, and cried a bit, and smashed a fair amount of glassware) the golems felt terrible. If they’d known that they’d had the wrong person, they explained, they certainly wouldn’t have performed radical technomantic surgery on him, really they wouldn’t. He eventually had to forgive them, if only to keep them from moping. Besides, the damage was done: his hands were gone, and in their place were Spiritual Transition Facilitators. His veins were replaced with coaxial cable; his heart with a Frankensteinian device that had begun its life as a dial-up modem. He had been reconfigured into a perfect spiritual conduit – the ghosts of the world flowed through him.
Seeing no other option, Joe made do with the resources at hand (or giant coaxial cable end, whichever). The townspeople, after a brief panic, were surprisingly accepting, and so he and the golems played to their strengths and opened a computer repair business. And when Joe started making house calls, he discovered that the ghosts didn’t just move through him but that they sometimes left bits of information behind. When he was able to casually point out the location of Great Grampa’s long lost coin collection while waiting for a reboot to finish, a tip was almost guaranteed. And when Great Grampa was actually a deep-cover HYDRA agent who was starting to worry about what the corroding drums in the work shed might end up doing to his genetic legacy, well, when you exist in a grey area between ‘alive’ and ‘dead’ it can help to make yourself useful to people like SHIELD.
So Joe putters along at The Modem & Golem Computer Repair and Psychic Detective Agency and occasionally puts his giant coaxial cable ends to a bit of crimefighting. The spiritual energy that courses through his body enables him to emit blasts of poltergeist energy (a more fine-tuned application of which filled the role of his missing hands) or to imbue inanimate objects with the semblance of life. He’s faster and stronger than he ever was before, and his giant coaxial cable ends are registered weapons (literally – the guys from SHIELD insisted). The only drawback is that if he pushes himself too hard he can easily process all of the spiritual energy of a region, leaving him barely able to function. And if he really exhausts himself, the world starts to shift and flow into nightmare shapes as unformed things from outside of reality try to use him as a gateway to the world of men… probably. Or maybe he’s going mad – whichever it is, he doesn’t like it, so he tries to take it nice and easy.
(and of course what’s really happening is long-distance mind control by Count Damnato, who wants to be free, FREEEEEEEEEEE!)
(Artistic and written wizardry by Johnathan Munroe. UPJ logo provided by Dave Lartigue.)
Are you an artist, writer, or terrifying combination of the two who’d like to try your hand at the Ultimate Powers Jam? Then drop me a line at bitter(dot)andrew(at)gmail(dot)com and I’ll commence the dice to rolling…eventually. I promise.