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Crystal Ball mostly deals with the glamorous side of the supernatural, however, attempting to extort the SEXY from witches and wizards.
greycrusader wrote:My write-ups of the Knaves, who served as Professor Purgatory's underlings during the Heroic Earth episode deemed "The Promise of Purgatory" by the Hierophant's official scrivener, Lacklund Workworks (the Hierophant scarcely writes his own journal entries, after all). The first three up: Red Vulture, Typhoid, and Wretched Dragon!
Red Vulture: Though an inveterate coward and liar, Red Vulture is a cunning thief, looter, and criminal strategist; he initially worked as a villain-for-hire in his native India for the crime lord Brahmin, but eventually the Red Vulture's skimming of the loot reached levels which Brahim could not ignore or forgive, despite Red Vulture's usefulness. In Eastern Europe and Asia, he teamed with the Retriever, an armored villain who specialized in bank jobs, stealing prototype technologies, and ransacking the bases of other supervillains, making him a good match for the Red Vulture-even the Retriever grew tired of his partner's greed. In the States, Red Vulture headed up a low-grade team of avian-themed criminals known as 'The Roost", battling Steel Commando and Lady Grayhaven and her Pride. When the Roost turned against him, Red Vulture was desperate enough to sign on with Professor Purgatory. His cloak grants him error-free teleportation (even into places he has never visited before), but no one is sure if the Red Vulture's power to drain and weaken the vigor of others is likewise device-driven or an intrinsic ability.
Typhoid: Back in 1972, Mary was a petty criminal, prostitute, drifter, go-go dancer, and hippie; her world changed when she and the group of dopers Mary was hanging with at the time ecountered an eighteenth century vampire late one night, while smoking pot, making out, and dancing around a bonfire. Mary was the only survivor-though no one was left alive. She became an unusual vampire, one whose bite not only resulted in blood loss but also infected her victims with a supernatural disease that mimicked the effects of typhoid fever.
She was resistant to sunlight and could remain awake during the day, but while her regenerative powers were phenomenal, Mary lacked most of the immunities of a traditional vampire. Remaining very much a "bad girl" and thrill-seeker, she became involved in a number of sordid adventures, ranging from the banal (alternately seducing and threatening a hippie couple in an old mansion) to the deadly (a high-speed cross-country car chase involving a psychopathic driver and his career-criminal partner). Mary's escapades came to an end when she encountered Sacred Spear, who left "Typhoid" Mary entombed under a two-ton slab of concrete, where she remained trapped until inadvertantly freed by a construction crew a few years back. Rendered utterly mad, Typhoid Mary has proclaimed repentence for her past deeds, and now preys only on "the guilty"...as her demented mind judges so many to be.
Wretched Dragon: Unnatural and tormented, Wretched Dragon would have been a pitiable figure had he not been so lethal. The result of a misbegotten attempt by Black Dragon to cure his cancer through mysticism, Wretched Dragon was a tumour in human form, with all of the Tricker Ninja's memories, skills, and ruthlessness but none of the Black Dragon's light-heartedness or (meager) scruples. Wretched Dragon killed and maimed casually and without regret. He loathed his own existence, as the sickness Black Dragon felt was magnified ten times over in his malformed twin, but Wretched Dragon regenerated from even a single cell, so all his attempts at ending his own life fell short-though he experienced all the pain of each failed sucide just as any normal man. He took on one mission after another going after superhumans Wretched Dragon hoped could end his torture, and signed on with Prof. Purgatory when promised oblivion in return.
greycrusader wrote:Elohim II: A mortal woman imbued with the spirit and fighting skills of a Mesopotamian goddess of justice, the second heroine to be known as Elohim served Professor Purgatory only because the madman held the key to the salvatation of Gilgamesh. Ages ago, the Sumerian goddess Manungal fell in battle against the Angels who served the Hidden Light, as did so many other pagan deities. While Manungal was a goddess of judgement and final justice, she was also a dweller in the Underworld (a Infernal-ish pocket dimension of the Babylonian/Sumerian pantheon); she found herself in a true Hell. Over centuries, Manungal's memories and purpose were driven from her, ending up as a mere demon-price consort and scourger of souls. Ironically, her lord and master was Pazzuzu, a demonic foe from her ancient glory days. Eventually, her memories were restored through the heroism of the Ur-Hero Gilgamesh, during one of his many stays in the Lands of the Dead. After unleashing her wrath on Pazzuzu, she made her escape from Hell-but not before promising Gilgamesh she would free him from his endless cycle of birth-painful death-rebirth.
Her spirit found refuge in the comatose body of a female descendant of Lugalbanda, the legendary second King of Uruk, a police detective who had been brutally assaulted by mob enforcers. The newly made demigoddess had the soul of a wronged mortal woman backed by the power and knowledge of a vengeful goddess. Elohim II wreaked havoc on the denizens of the human underworld with fists, feet, blades, and guns a-blazing. But the vow made by her divine half was not forgotten; Elohim II spent much time searching for the means to free Gilgamesh. She was bound by her oath to follow Professor Purgatory when he presenter her with the means to do so. However, eventually his actions became too much to bear, and Elohim II turned against him. Though this almost cost her life, she eventually found another method to fulfill her vow: this resulted in the final death of Gilgamesh, though his soul and powers migrated to his descendant (and failed suicide) Gilead.
greycrusader wrote:Dr. Gateway: A Project Icarus pharmaceutical researcher tasked with creating super-soldiers through bio-chemistry, Dr. Desmond Morton became addicted to his own drug-dispensing cybernetic harness. He began stealing supplies from the Project to feed his own addiction, which led to the underdosing of test subjects. After several were maimed in what should have been a routine training session. Already under suspicion, Dr.Morton fled, taking the prototype harness with him.
On the run from Project: Icarus and desperate for funds to support his habit, Dr. Morton turned to crime, beginning with petty theft and working up to grand larceny. He also began formulating and selling exotic drugs to whomever was willing to supply the necessary cash or technology, he picked up the nickname "Dr. Gateway". Eventually his metabolism was permanently altered by the overuse of the harness; Dr.Morton's own body now synthesized drug compounds, which were secreted through his skin and breath. Dr. Gateway found he had to rid his system of these chemicals by injecting others, otherwise they would build up and become toxic. His appearance and mental state deteriorated, and Dr. Gateway became a pariah even among the low-rent criminal element. Dr. Gateway sought refuge from Project: Icarus and a possible cure from Professor Purgatory in return for his service.
Generator Jack: A Melungeon hailing from the Appalachian mountains, near the Pennsylvania-West Virigina border, Jack was heir to a very special legacy. He was kin to a legendary figure of the Appalachias, Minstrel Johnny, a wandering balladeer and magician who kept the Buried Beasts of the Hills at bay, quelling ancient spirits that held the land in times before even the first Native American tribes lived in the region. As the oldest male heir of the bloodline, Jack was taught the necessary skills as he grew into manhood-hunting, tracking, hedge wizardry, herbal healing, spirit-knowledge, and hand-to-hand fighting. But Jack had no desire to walk the hills and hollers all his life, in service to others. Jack wanted the wider world, and made his way out at the first opportunity-but not without taking along a gift of his heritage, a seemingly ordinary bag which would allow Jack to make his fortune in the outside world. Jack could reach inside the bag and retrieve whatever "tools" were needed for a task, so long as Jack could give name to them-anything from a crowbar to a machine gun to a mystic talisman. Only one of Jack's heritage could "speak" to the bag and make it "generate" the things that were needing.
Jack intended to sell his knowledge and skills as "troubleshooter", putting down dark-fey, howlers, wendigo and the like, lifting curses, and dispelling bellicose spirits-all for a price. But he often found work and money scarce-until he began "generating" his own business by stirring up malignant forces and then charging a fee to "protect" others from the creatures Jack had unleashed. Not truly evil by nature, Jack never let the mayhem get too far out of hand, but nonetheless, he soon had enemies on both sides of the supernaturnal world, both the angels and the devils. And back in the Hills, the Buried Beasts were beginning to stir...Jack agreed to work for Professor Purgatory for the promise of enough magical power to solve all the problems plaguing his life.
greycrusader wrote:The Antithesis: A twisted mirror of Professor Purgatory's self-righteous piety, the Antithesis declared God to be irrelevant, a careless creator who long ago abandoned a flawed universe. Thought and power existed to impose upon reality, and so the Antithesis indulged his every whim, performing deeds both saintly and malevolent with equal verve. He engaged in every virtue and vice, to leave nothing untried. He dismissed talk of final judgement by angels or demons, stating his will would bend to beings who had no right to judge the Antithesis, for his morality stood far above their own.
The Antithesis very much enjoyed combat, finding it exhilirating. He was a physical titan who could generate tremendous bursts of lightning and cyclonic winds, unleashing roaring tempests on his foes. He was also a charismatic scientific genius, albeit a mad one. The Antithesis dressed like a cross between a 1970s glam rock icon and a space marine. Strangely, he had no talent at sorcery or the occult, unlike his progenitor Professor Purgatory.
The Celestial Maiden: The incarnation of the Professor's more exalted nature and feminine side, the Celestial Maiden was kind, benevolent, and merciful...except when it came to those who stood against her grand scheme to create an earthly paradise. Nearly peerless in her command of magicks, the Celestial Maiden was capable of staging rituals with cosmic repercussions, so long as the sacrifice was great enough and the stars were properly aligned. In her greatest campaign, the Celestial Maiden swayed a legion of female champions from a host of worlds into her service, commanding them through the divine blood all held in their veins. Free will would be subjugaged to purity and righteousness, and universal peace would be enforced without exception. Heroes who fought against her would be granted the mercy of eternal slumber, while evil-doers would be made to suffer in their own private hells until they begged their repentence. While the Celestial Maiden's plans were thwarted, she still dreams of constructing her own version of Heaven.
Aside from her potent sorcery, the Celestial Maiden could heal any wound or illness, both her own or those of others, even able to cure life-long ailments. She had a degree of presience, could levitate, and was a brilliant strategist and visionary. Yet despite her intelligence, the Celestial Maiden had no skill with technology and no more than a well-educated but lay understanding of science. She shied away from direct combat, preferring more passive means of incapacitating her foes.
Note: Charles has yet to disclose exactly how the Antithesis and the Celestial Maiden were split off from Professor Purgatory, or much else about exactly how the events depicted in the first-ever full-fledged adventure I wrote went down in the HED-verse. I wonder if any other heroes or villains resulted from the adventure, or if there were any notable vicims of the Professor spoiling for revenge, aside from Angelica De Lynn (who had a pretty good ending in the HED world).
Looking very much forward to seeing any comments on my articles. I'll be back in ten days or so while I work on another project. Definitely also, if anyone can throw any inspiration my way regarding my proposed Big Answer and Robert Jack (mis) adventures, please fee free!
All my best.
Phrozen wrote:Is it in Virginia or Massachusetts. Also what part of Virginia? If it is Hampton Roads there is some creepy lore that can be shoved into the town. Like the Witch of Pungo, Rosewell Plantation, Blackbeard Point, Old House Woods, and all that local lore could be folded in.
Charles Phipps wrote:Phrozen wrote:Is it in Virginia or Massachusetts. Also what part of Virginia? If it is Hampton Roads there is some creepy lore that can be shoved into the town. Like the Witch of Pungo, Rosewell Plantation, Blackbeard Point, Old House Woods, and all that local lore could be folded in.
You're right, though!
Charles Phipps wrote:Because greycrusader requested it!
Arbitrary Skepticism is alive and well on Heroic Earth. People believe in aliens, Metamen, superheroes, and super-advanced technology. Simultaneously; they think conspiracy theorists are kooky, vampires are make-believe, werewolves are ridiculous, magic isn't anymore verifiable than any other posthuman power, and there's no proof physical gods exist. Ironically, ghosts are known to exist but people have been challenging those conclusions since they were made.
Enter Weird journalism.
The average tabloid stands to make much more money posting naked pictures of celebrities than they ever could of Batboy. However, there is a thriving supermarket rag industry dedicated to fringe stories. Just about every market carries one or two local Weird Journalist papers which may not exist three states over but almost certainly has its local equivalent.
This has no real parallel to our own world as it's much more popular than anything we have (though not nearly as popular as mainstream media or tabloids), taken much more seriously (which isn't actually saying much), and actually insists on a certain level of standards from its reporters (which are still far looser than normal ones).
Weird Journalists basically take Minimum Wage or By-The-Word payments to travel around the world investigating the kinds of stories which get hushed up. They have a love for the surreal and disturbing to the point they willingly risk themselves to get THE TRUTHtm. Oftentimes these journalists let their own prejudices and ideas color whatever they do witness but it's entirely possible to get a semi-decent idea of what's going on in the supernatural community across the country just by reading their magazines.
The most respectable, for lack of a better term, of these magazines would be Mystery!. Mystery is sort of an all-purpose crime/supernatural magazine that also prints stories from famous writers in addition to its articles on the occult. Mystery, during its heyday, printed five different magazines on every sort of creepy subject. Unfortunately, the economy hasn't been kind so there's now only Mystery! Magazine, Mystery!: Bloodcurdling Crimes, and Mystery!: The Weird and Unnatural.
Mystery! isn't any less trashy than any other tabloid, it's mostly successful due to the fact it's attracted a surreal number of genuine experts for its columnists. Alexander King, supplementing his income, writes a monthly column on both psychic phenomenon and serial killers. The Last Ranger writes an incredible number of submissions every month and, occasionally, these are accepted. John Milton Miller also sends them short stories despite his international fame, quadrupling their circulation every time it happens.
Mystery! is based out of Raven, IL, which should tell you the kind of offices its workers can expect. Despite this, it has a number of sub-offices spread about the Midwest. A lot of these offices, admittedly, are just suburban homes. It was founded by the Hell-Earth doppleganger of Doctor Hunter S. Thompson who, surprisingly, came over during the 1970s and assimilated into society just fine. He did much of Mystery!'s early writing himself and only switched to the occult as a way of differentiating himself from his alternate self.
Reporters are expected to maintain scrupulous journalistic integrity in reporting the truth, though articles can (and do) often contain considerable editorializing as well as weird conclusions. Journalistic integrity, instead, just means that you're expected to convince Doctor Thompson (he's still alive) you really did see whatever you claim you saw in your article. Given the Good Doctor's ability to read people, that's a harder task than it sounds.
Reporters have no real resources for carrying out their duties and only rarely have their expenses covered but are extremely dedicated.
They have to be.
Unlike most reporters, Mystery! writers are known for getting involved with their subjects. These include vampire hunters, UFO abductions, fringe science, and occasional bits of superheroism. Superheroes looking to ape Peter Parker can usually get work with Mystery! when other papers are looking for their own professional photographers. Mystery! doesn't look too hard at its journalist's backgrounds nor does it attempt to sniff out secret identities.
One thing it DOES do is protect its people. The group has managed to weather being sieged by the Vampire Nation, attacks by Doctor Frankenstein, and even having their building shot into space by the Dark Undermaster (who used to get his fiction published there before, "it became all about fairies and self-referential comedy"). Bizarre as it may sound, it's many reporters usually have a number of potent friends and just enough favors to make people who endanger them hesitant at killing them. Still, the wall of Mystery! has the names of more than a few reporters who have given their lives in the cause of THE TRUTHtm.
Mystery! is imitated by many of its "rivals" in the field with Crystal Ball and Weird! being the closest thing it has to competition. Crystal Ball mostly deals with the glamorous side of the supernatural, however, attempting to extort the SEXY from witches and wizards. Weird is just plain incomprehensible, its writers going into some bizarre places to explore things which make the Weekly World News look rationale. Judgement is the Salt Lake City-based Christian-themed reporter, which has surprisingly high standards of investigation by NORMAL papers, it's just that everything has a large amount of spin to it.
The Western branch of the White Lotus Society considers Weird Journalists to be pests, if not outright threats to their lives. The Vampire Nation tends to be dismissive of them but a few actually think of them as dangerous (not the least reason due to the number of undead killed by them over the years - Mystery! retaliated several times against DRACULA of all people for his attempts to intimidate them). The John Smith Society is really the only group which EMBRACES the investigation of their doings and was very sad when Mystery!: Weird Science shut down. They've opened their own self-published version called Oddity.
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