World of Freedom 2.5 (DVD Commentary)

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Post by Davies » Mon May 12, 2008 10:40 am

Setothes wrote:You have accomplished a task I would have thought impossible.

You've given the gun-toting mutant from the future an origin as convoluted and messed-up and filled with double-backs as his archetype...
Ahem! Spoilers!

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A Look Behind the Curtain: Super-Soldiers/Seal Team Eight

Post by Davies » Thu May 15, 2008 9:11 am

Super-Soldier Theory

Given that paranormals have participated in every American conflict since the Revolutionary War, it should not really come as any surprise that the American military establishment has long sought to create "super-soldiers". However, such programs have rarely produced more than one or two successes, generally accompanied by dozens of failures -- many of whom will never fight, or sometimes do anything, ever again. And these are the more successful programs! (See The Algernon Files for the long tragic history of some of the better known super-soldier programs.)

Given the Labyrinth's success in creating superhumans, it may seem strange that these programs don't see much success. Even setting aside the possibility of sabotage, this isn't actually that surprising. After nearly three full decades of work, the DNAscent process can only produce desirable results 65% of the time ... and if they were being honest, those responsible would admit that they are often surprised by the results that their processes obtain.

Super-soldier programs aren't just meant to produce soldiers with super-powers; they're meant to produce reasonably large numbers of soldiers with super-powers, and specifically powers that are relatively uniform. Just as every soldier is trained to use standard issue weapons and equipment in a standard way, each super-soldier is expected to be able to produce the same effects on command.

Unfortunately, things rarely work out that precisely. If the advanced techniques of the Labyrinth can only produce results roughly two-thirds of the time, and often get unexpected outcomes, how much more likely is it that such results are going to come from less-developed programs? Such paranormals might have very useful capabilities, but if every subject that results from a program has different abilities, they'll each require individualized training -- something that's almost anathema to the military mindset.

Generally speaking, then, it's not surprising that the image of the super-soldier that the majority of conservative military planners have is that of the so-called "futurist soldier" -- a well-trained individual equipped with advanced technology that allows him battlefield mobility and superior protection and firepower. This technology is often in the form of a battlesuit, but just as commonly divided among multiple pieces of equipment. The idea of a large number of super-powered soldiers is obsolete, in most opinions.

Which is ironic, given that there's at least one reliable method of creating them readily available to the United States military.

SEAL Team Eight

In 1993, a group of US Navy SEALs were engaged in a training exercise in the waters outside Lonely Point Naval Base when the Terminus Invasion began. The SEALs came under attack by some Omegadrones, which they dispatched without suffering more than minor injuries, and were bathed in exotic energies much like pretty every one else in town. Unlike every one else in town, however, they showed immediate effects, which were discovered while they were recuperating in the infirmary.

All of them complained of extreme dehydration. But when one of the SEALs shoved his head into a tub of water and discovered that he could still breathe, it became readily apparent that some great changes had been wreaked on them. They didn't have the uncanny strength (and thus high swimming speed) of the Atlanteans, but they were every bit as capable of surviving at extreme depths without environmental gear.

The amphibious SEALs were used sporadically over the next few years. While they didn't need environmental gear for their submarine missions, their need to remain constantly hydrated limited their use out of the water. Also, because none of them could be replaced if any were lost in action, planners were reluctant to use them as freely as they were SEALs whose capabilities were based on training and equipment.

Then, shortly after the destruction of the World Trade Center, one of the SEALs donated blood, which was used to assist an injured New York police officer. To everyone's surprise, the policeman soon developed the same amphibious traits! (He's now associated with the Harbor Patrol.) A few more tests confirmed that this would happen to anyone who received blood from a compatable donor on the team.

Because the amphibious condition involves as big a handicap as it does a set of advantages, and requires quite a bit of training to achieve its full potential, it is so far only given to volunteers from other SEAL teams who agree to join SEAL Team Eight. The fact that their casualties could now be replaced has encouraged more frequent use of the unit, and it has also allowed some of the members to retire from active duty. Of course, retirement in this instance generally means that they usually become involved with the American intelligence services. However, one of them has entered civilian life, and now works for Steve Nelson's "Deep Six", as their only diver who doesn't require a SCUBA rig. (His colleagues believe that he got his powers in an accident, which is true enough.)

To create a member of SEAL Team Eight, use the Navy SEAL template (Agents of Freedom, p. 105) but reduce Inspire to 1 rank and add Environmental Adaptation (aquatic), Immunity 3 (cold, drowning, pressure) and Weakness (lack of water, hourly, -3 points). Traditionally, they use only standard weapons and equipment, though they have used some advanced aquatic vehicles in the past.

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The Lesser of Two Evils

Post by Davies » Sun May 18, 2008 12:11 pm

Western Canada, particularly southern Saskatchewan, has never been a particularly safe place to be paranormal. As the heartland of Canada's sizeable GENOCIDE faction, the region has seen a rash of "disappearances" of people who are public about possessing super-powers. Would-be heroes will be quietly stalked until their identities can be discovered, and then assassinated.

This has all been executed under the command of Purifier (aka Robert Cory), an old enemy of the Vancouver Sentinels who gradually rose to be GENOCIDE's de facto leader in Canada. Critically injured in his first battle against the Sentinels, he was rebuilt as a partial cyborg. The surgery had the side-effect of destroying what little claim to sanity he'd possessed beforehand.

However, although GENOCIDE was often opposed by the Sentinels and later by Hero Team Zeta, its most fervent opponent has never been associated with either group. Indeed, the woman called Firedrake has been hunted by Canadian heroes as being every bit as bad as the terrorists she pursues. If anything, she has done much to confirm GENOCIDE's propaganda about the danger posed to society by "mutants" like herself, leading some people to wonder whether the organization might be the lesser of two evils.

Firedrake was "born" when Laura Day, a low-powered, teenaged pyrokinetic from Winnipeg, was shot in the head by GENOCIDE assassins. Not satisfied with that, they also blew up her parents' car with them in it, making sure her tainted bloodline couldn't continue. Unfortunately, not only did Laura survive the attempted murder, but the stresses combined to increase her powers to far greater levels. While blinded, her ability to sense thermal energies allowed her to "see" after a fashion.

By day, Laura worked as a translator for the United Nations, while by night she would wear a firey costume and a wig for her sorties against GENOCIDE and other organizations that promoted racism and bigotry. The two identies were practically dissociated from each other; sometimes Laura would even find herself thinking of the acts Firedrake performed as though someone else had done them. Her cold fury and arrogance in dealing with those she didn't respect led her into many unfortunate situations.

The most graphic illustration of this came in 2006, when Firedrake attacked what she believed to be a GENOCIDE training camp on the shores of Lake Christopher, in northern Saskatchewan. As it turned out, it was a training camp ... for the children of GENOCIDE members, where they were indoctrinated in the organization's "philosophy". Firedrake unhesitatingly drove everyone at the camp into its dining hall, and then set fire to it, after melting the locks shut.

Close to a hundred childen died, and Firedrake became one of the most wanted women in Canadian history. In combat with the Magistrate, some months later, she simply stated that GENOCIDE regarded the children and parents of "mutants" as fair game, so they had no right to expect better treatment from her. Despite this pose, Firedrake -- or at least Laura Day -- was horrified by what happened, as she honestly thought that the camp leaders had a secret tunnel leading out of the dining hall, and that they'd lead the children to safety through it. She wasn't aware that the tunnel had collapsed a few days earlier.

While the episode has given GENOCIDE a certain degree of public sympathy, Purifier has been unable to capitalize on this as much as he'd like. He recently survived an assassination attempt which he believes was ordered by Xena Latham. As a result, he's lying low in Lethbridge, specifically in the basement of GENOCIDE member and corrupt realtor Greg Toles, considering how to respond to the first shot in GENOCIDE's first civil war ...

Firedrake herself is also lying low since her escape from the Guard. More than ever, Laura Day is wishing that she'd never developed her costumed identity, or that she'd died on the operating table all those years ago. But she knows that she can't stop now, no matter how badly she wants to do so. She is giving serious thought to a suicide run against GENOCIDE's American branch, or alternatively challenging a certain notorious fire-wielding bigot in Freedom City ...

[Stats for these two characters are here.]

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Post by Black Ops » Sun May 18, 2008 1:59 pm

Ah. From the old Champions of the North !
Did you do any earlyer Stuff on Genocide ?
Because I can not remember ....

:idea:
Looks into Index.....

Oh right.
You did.
Two years ago on page three.....
Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam.
Translation: I have a catapult. Give me all the money, or I will fling an enormous rock at your head

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Re: A Look Behind the Curtain: Super-Soldiers/Seal Team Eigh

Post by tylrlsaa » Mon May 19, 2008 9:59 am

Davies wrote:Super-Soldier Theory
This is something that everyone should take note of. It's stating exactly why so many super soldier projects are failures.
There are three kinds of lies.
Lies, damned lies, and statistics.

-Mark Twain

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Post by Davies » Tue May 20, 2008 9:00 am

Thanks, guys! Next up will probably be some of the lesser known members of the expanded Freedom League.

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Local Heroes

Post by Davies » Wed May 21, 2008 10:37 am

Outside of Freedom City, Bay City and New York, most American cities generally have only a few heroes. (The upside of this is that they also have fewer villains.) While the Statesman project of the late 70s was able to recruit one superhero local to each of the fifty states, many of these men and women are now quite happily retired. However, others have followed in their footsteps. The expansion of the Freedom League has led to many of these formerly independent heroes, even those who had developed local teams of their own, being added to its roster, and noted as local experts. Generally, they'll only be called in for Freedom League missions that have some relevance to their region, or in situations of national (or global) peril. The three heroes that follow are examples of such local experts.

The Empress (Las Vegas)

Liz Ashe would have prefered to go by the name "Queen of Hearts", but there's a rather frightening person already using the name. Frankly, going by any "Queen" name relating to cards might have been an invitation to trouble that she really didn't want. So she went for a tarot image instead. The only downsides of that are that she has to really dress up when she's on the job, by wearing an outfit inspired by the Empress card of the Rider-Waite tarot. And on top of that, people expect her to be some sort of mystical expert.

Okay, so she's not crazy, she knows magic is real, and she's managed to pick up a bit of the lingo. But it is so annoying that people keep expecting her to be some sort of crystal waving, incense snorting, "wouldn't it be nice if everyone were nice" type. Her powers are straight-up mutations, not anything "weird". She manipulates probabilities, making the unlikely more likely -- or certain.

Liz has never talked a lot about her background. She once said that her father was a cop and that her mother was a showgirl, but she may have been kidding. She's lived in Vegas all of her life, and honestly couldn't imagine living anywhere else. She doesn't exactly have a secret identity, but she keeps a pretty low profile when she's not on the job.

Fighting crime in Vegas is an ... interesting job, given the casinos. While the mob doesn't run most of them any more, the new breed of owners still aren't exactly the nicest people on the planet, and if they aren't wiseguys themselves, they're certainly, shall we say, "wiseguy-positive"? On the other hand, Card Shark and his crew make the lot of them look like saints.

While that sort of "lesser of two evils" thinking would get her in trouble in most places, it may be absolutely necessary in Vegas. It also allowed her to survive team ups with Cyclone on a few occasions (the first one, not this new guy -- he's just nuts). She first joined forces with the Freedom League when she helped the Raven and Lady Liberty deal with Orion and Wildcard, in Vegas to make an alliance between the Crime League and the Card Shark mob.

Since then, she's had a few unpleasant encounters with Clover, the Freedom League's other probability manipulator. Clover thinks that Liz is too blatant in her probability manipulation, which makes the Empress laugh her head off, given that Clover is famous for making bullets that "just missed" her form the shape of a four-leaf clover behind her. Liz just thinks Clover is a snob.

Mr. Yagami (Hawaii)

While not the most famous of Hawaii's heroes (that would be Eddie) Soichiro Yagami is perhaps the most enduring. In his late 50s, he still retains quite a bit of the strength and martial skill of his youth, to which has been added decades of experience as a street-smart detective.

The son of a World War II veteran, Soichiro Yagami was often in trouble in his youth. Bullied by fellow classmates, he eventually decided that he would have to learn the martial arts so as to be able to defeat his opressors. So he traveled to a distant, mysterious land -- specifically, the bad side of Honolulu. There, he studied under the masters of Kajukenbo, the streetfighting art developed in Hawaii that synthesized karate, judo and jujutsu, kempo and boxing.

He only wanted to learn enough to protect himself, but he fell in love with the discipline of the art, and its emphasis on family and faith. Rather than just defeating his oppressors, and then following in their footsteps, he followed a path of justice by teaching the arts to others so that they too could become strong. In the process, he found himself fighting against foes he didn't expect, both to protect his students and the Islands in general.

His association with the Freedom League dates from the Grue Invasion. While mostly retired from teaching, he has never been able to retire from poking his nose where it doesn't belong. This has led him to discover the recent expansion of SHADOW activities in the islands, and he has worked with AEGIS to combat it. While he hasn't yet managed to defeat the mysterious Cheng Gui, he has every confidence that it's going to happen soon.

Just one warning -- don't call him Moustachio. He HATES that.

Horrorshow (Maine)

Easily as mysterious as Lantern Jack, but far more corporeal, the being who calls himself Horrorshow has been making a good-natured pest of himself in Maine since the mid 70s. (There are records that suggest that he was around in California in the 50s, and he's indicated that he spent quite a bit of time in Massachusetts in the 20s.) He resembles an animated corpse, but apparently isn't one of the undead. Just what he is has never been fully explained, but it does seem clear that he's one of the good guys, if a bit creepy.

Horrorshow's power is that of illusion -- but his illusions are so powerful, so real that they can inflict actual injury on those affected by them. He always creates horrific and terrifying illusions, often looking into his victims minds, seeing what they most fear, and making it manifest. Despite how villainous this might sound, it should be noted that Horrorshow never causes lethal injury with his illusions.

In fact, he strictly reserves the damaging elements of his illusions for those whom he observes in the commission of crimes. Such people might think they're going to die, but no matter how badly scared they are, they won't be seriously injured. They might be unconscious when they're deposited in front of the police station, but they will be alive, and probably in a mood to confess when they wake up.

That's the key to understanding Horrorshow's behavior. He wants people to confront their fears, and by doing so become stronger, happier and more moral individuals. And they can't do any of that if they're dead! So he never kills anyone, and will even risk his life to protect people from their own folly.

Horrorshow first met with the Freedom League in 1980, when he was causing havoc in Bangor by creating illusions drawn from the published works of a well-known horror writer who grew up there, and the Freedom League attempted to arrest him. Eventually, it was revealed that Horrorshow was trying to protect that writer from a deranged stalker who was bent on killing him, rather than just causing havoc for the fun of it. He came to the assistance of Freedom City during the Terminus Invasion, and also helped in the defense of Earth during the Grue Invasion. ("What fascinating terrors these Grue have ...")

[Stats for these three stalwarts can be found here.]

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Post by Libra » Thu May 22, 2008 7:41 am

Hmmm. Interesting work Davies. :D
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Post by Davies » Fri May 23, 2008 10:36 am

Thanks, Libra. Next up -- who says good guys are the only ones with sidekicks?

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Miss Eyre

Post by Davies » Sat May 24, 2008 10:09 am

Much like the man she'd come to idolize -- Vin Blume, Fear-Master -- Ashley Ames developed an all-consuming interest in the nihilism of the Goth subculture in her teens. That said, it's possible that this might have been only a passing phase for her, if not for a series of unfortunate events. The first and most innocuous of them was a battle fought between Foreshadow's newly recruited team of "Freedom Knights" and the Silencer near a graveyard where she and her fellow Goths were communing with the dead. Ashley chanced upon one of the Silencer's abandoned sonic weapons and took it home with her.

The second unfortunate event came when, a week or so later, her nominal boyfriend decided to demonstrate his utter contempt for the world by going on a school shooting rampage. Ashley attempted to give herself to him as a victim, not because she thought that would end the rampage than because the poetry of the gesture appealed to her. Her gesture was ruined (and her life saved) when Sonic disarmed the shooter and turned him over to the police before he actually managed to do more than frighten some people.

The final unfortunate event came that evening, when her parents -- who'd never shown any interest in her life up until this point -- tried to give her hell for having had anything to do with such a dangerous boy. Still upset over her moment being spoiled, Ashley grabbed up the sonic weapon, which she'd been fiddling with ever since she found it, and blasted her parents with it. While she'd managed to return it to working order, it no longer functioned as an energy weapon, but instead created a burst of subliminal sonic frequencies that caused a surge of utter hopelessness in her parents.

She watched them collapse under the weight of the realizations that nothing mattered, nothing was worth anything, and nothing would ever change, sobbing and lamenting as they never had before. And she realized that she was feeling something that she'd never felt before either. It wasn't happiness, exactly ... but it'd do for the time being.

Ashley ran away from home that very night. Through some research, she worked out what she'd done, and what had caused it. She was struck by the similarities between her own life and that of Vin Blume -- or at least what she imagined his life had been like. Listening to recordings of his voice, she found herself fascinated with someone who'd felt all that she felt, and had found a way to express it as she had never would have dared ... at least, until now.

She made her move after Fear-Master's most recent arrest, while he was being transferred from the prison to a courtroom. His guards were equipped with devices that protected them from anyone equipped with one of Fear-Master's fear weapons, but they weren't prepared for the frequency that Miss Eyre's weapon used. She was able to free him and escape.

Ashley explained that she wanted to be Fear-Master's "child in darkness", as she put it, learning the ways in which she could wreak havoc on the world. Fear-Master decided to accept her offer. Why not? If nothing else, it'd mean that he'd have someone around to abuse at all times, someone who apparently wanted it.

So far, Fear-Master hasn't revealed his relationship with his new protege to the other members of the Sinful Seven, if only because he wants to be the only real influence on her. He is beginning to suspect that his world view and Miss Eyre's are actually slightly incompatible -- he views the world as vile black pit, as does she, but she believes in forcing people to react to that reality with despair, rather than being terrified of it.

He's also realized that, owing to some quirk of neurology, she's utterly unaffected by his fear-weapons, and suspects that if she ever stops being dependent on him, she'll be a serious rival and enemy. And that is something he's determined not to let happen. So he's going to keep her very, very close ...

Miss Eyre's costume is informed by her Goth sensibilities. She wears a ragged version of a 19th century dress and white face make-up. While Fear-Master's costume is meant to suggest a monster, her look is meant to suggest one of the monster's victims ... who has decided to join in on victimizing others.

[Her stats are here.]
Last edited by Davies on Mon May 26, 2008 11:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Libra » Sun May 25, 2008 1:24 pm

Hmmm. What a charming young lady. . .
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Post by Davies » Mon May 26, 2008 11:10 am

She looks a bit like a younger version of this:

Image.

Next up: Assuming that my plan to get ahold of The Book of Magic works out, I'm finally going to tell the story of the Seven Shadows and update Seven to her current status.

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Post by Charles Phipps » Mon May 26, 2008 11:20 am

Awesome, can't wait to see your version of Raven and the rest.

I also like Miss Eerie (I think you just HAVE to have the Freeport papers misspell her name when she tells them.) Then she can scream and say "IT'S A REFERENCE TO JANE EYRIE, YOU UNCULTURED TWITS!"

Bravo, you managed to really create a wonderful Harley-Quinn style dynamic there for Fearmaster.

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Post by Davies » Mon May 26, 2008 11:33 am

Charles Phipps wrote:Awesome, can't wait to see your version of Raven and the rest.

I also like Miss Eerie (I think you just HAVE to have the Freeport papers misspell her name when she tells them.) Then she can scream and say "IT'S A REFERENCE TO JANE EYRIE, YOU UNCULTURED TWITS!"
Actually, I was just going for a "Misery" sound-alike. But giving her the name of Jane Eyre (which is pronounced like "air") makes her name sound like the French word "Misere", which is even better! Thanks, Charles.

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Post by Davies » Wed May 28, 2008 8:21 am

Unfortunately, the Green Ronin online store's maintenance has resulted in a delay in my writing. Maybe it's just as well. In light of recent events in the community, I'm not really in the mood to write anything, really ...

Chris Davies.

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