In the interest of doing some more “micro” planning, here are some character sketches I had laying around. I had a kind of indeterminate timeframe for this.
I liked the idea of a small, focused group with a tight-knit dynamic. In my tentative ideas, the Shield is the wise warrior leader who has seen it all, Fara was the mercurial bruiser of the heart of gold, Kusader was the “Professor X” type who is more of a mentor figure, and no one trusted Sonya because she’s a Scandian spy. (Which was supposed to link in with the big arc of the Scandian government’s secret plot to resurrect Tyr and the Goddess Keys.)
The size of the group was really something I’m torn on – as on the one hand, I want to preserve that small group dynamic, but of course I would want to include any writer that wants to participate.
AKA: The Mana Knight
Identity Status: Public, but not necessarily well-known. Fara still tries to have some elements of a “normal” life, even coaching a girl’s high school soccer team and renting an apartment in Egmont.
Specialities: Mana-based melee mayhem!
Favored Weapons and Equipment: The Mana Sword, which can manifest in a variety of styles. Fara prefers a fairly normal longsword for fencing, but sometimes “goes full zweihander” for big hits.
Fara also has a suit of armor made of high tech materials, though it has a “knightly” style and look.
Powers and Abilities: The Mana Sword has the ability to channel Elemental energies for attack or defense. For example, Fara can add arcing lightning to her attacks, create a light-based barrier to absorb energy attacks, freeze enemies, and other elemental effects. She can, however, only directly manipulate herself and her environment; unlike a Mage, she can’t directly set something on fire with her abilities, but she can set her sword and herself on fire. One side effect of this is that she has the ability to modulate her blows; a hit from the sword can render someone unconscious or paralyzed, but still alive, or cleave a tank in twain.
Fara is quite the scrapper. She is a natural and intuitive fighter, but she has sparred and trained with many of the best swordsmen in the Web. She is equally well-versed in the high art of dueling as well as the low art of streetfighting, capable of devastating parry-and-riposte as well as being able to being able to land a rope-a-dope sucker punch. She herself tends to prefer an aggressive, ‘brawling’ style.
Fara is tougher and stronger than average, but she is not indestructible (which is why she wears armor), and much of her force in combat comes from the elemental power of her blows, not her own muscle.
Weaknesses: The Mana Sword’s abilities are based on the 12 Elemental Spirits, and even for the Mana Knight, the Elementals are jealous and cannot be used simultaneously. While acquiring certain Elemental strengths, Fara also opens herself up to their weaknesses. Strengthening herself through Earth (Gnome), for example, affords increased protection against bullets and but leaves her more vulnerable to lightning-based attacks.
Fara’s attacks are all short-ranged; her abilities, training, and temperament make her fearsome in melee, but not much of a ranged threat. She is tough enough, and fast enough, though, to minimize this vulnerability.
Origin History: An ordinary girl, trying to help other people.
Writer’s Notes: Always wanted to do more with her, and now I finally get to. Fara is definitely all heart, compassionate and brave, but also impetuous and a little bit reckless, inclined to act first and make a plan later. Although she likes a good fight, for her her power is more about protecting others and saving people then it is defeating enemies.
The whole point of her early arc was her tension between her desire for a ‘regular’ life and the demands of being the Mana Knight – mostly its resolved, though, as her more “ordinary” background and aspirations ground and inspire her, even as she embraces that sometimes it feels pretty awesome to save the Web. She is mostly (but not perfectly) well-adjusted at this point.
She’s even taken Roxanne’s noble sacrifice to save her life pretty well – she hasn’t sworn revenge, she didn’t decide to wear an emo black costume, she hasn’t been consumed by self-doubt, rage, or sadness. Roxanne died to save Fara not because she was special as the Mana Knight, but because Fara someone she cared about; a legacy Fara strives to honor. (Though, at some point in the future, Fara may fight Zahd to try bring Roxanne back to life, because I really want to do a “Ride of the Valkyries” story.)
AKA: Terrence Shale
Identity Status: Secret
Armament: Dreamstone-Seraphim hybrid shield (houses the dream spirit Shiru, and the dead angel Kabshiel).
Specialties: Tanking, heavy lifting
Powers/Abilities: The Shield possesses a suite of powers derived from the elemental magics that Shiru serves as a spiritual conduit for. These elements and their associated powers are as follows:
-Earth: superhuman strength and endurance
-Air: Flight, superhuman speed
-Nature: Immunity to disease and toxins, rapid regeneration
-Water: Ice breath
-Fire: Heat-based eye lasers
When his shield was broken, Manta repaired it by fusing it with Seraphim plastic from the Shield’s Diamond-made Seraphim armor. This plastic incorporated the fossilized remains of the angel Kabshiel, who bonded with Shale using Shiru as a conduit. This granted the Shield limited holy powers, which manifest in the form of a beam of holy light that he can fire from his shield.
Weaknesses: A specific range of sonic vibrations once shattered the Dreamstone shield. Now that the shield is infused with Seraphim plastic, it’s much less likely to break, but a sonic burst at the appropriate frequency could still potentially disrupt the Shield’s connection to Shiru and cause a temporary loss of power.
Origin/History: The Shield was the first product of the various super soldier projects that have been fielded by the Guardian government over the years. Project: Shield was a joint effort between Norstein Bekkler’s ZAPS, and the Guardian knight Sir Scorpius. While several of the GDF’s best and brightest were competing for entry into the project, Shale (who was working as a janitor at the time) unwittingly stumbled into the proving grounds and bested them all (perhaps with covert magical assistance from Bekkler, who might have thought such a thing would be hillarious). In the end, Shale was rewarded for his victory, and became the Shield, working with Bekkler as an associate of the ZAPS. Since that time, the Shield has foiled an assassination attempt on King Derik, infiltrated a hidden OmniSent base in deep space, foiled an early plot by the Xenos to assassinate several Guardian parliament members, has twice averted WMD attacks on civilian populations by intercepting them in mid-air and causing them to detonate against his nigh-invulnerable person (one was a Dark Matter warhead launched by Tyurin Cage, the other a U-missile launched by Rajaat), survived an assassination attempt by Manta, lost and regained his powers, and for a time flew around in a suit of Seraphim armor made by Abe Zion himself.
Writer’s Notes: Although he is not a Knight, the Shield still represents Guardian honor and chivalry; I think Bekkler helped this humble janitor win to show to Scorpius that one need not “be a noble to be noble.” Terry’s been through a lot – he’s been exiled from his homeland, lost most of his friends, and I had a never-written plot where Scorpius used “Master Sergeant” to try to frame him for murder. But that hasn’t broken him; he’s still fighting, still a hero, still protecting the Web. It is his experience, even more than his power, that makes him the natural leader for the Kuper Men.
I actually would go so far as to say that leading and mentoring this diverse group taps something in Terry that he didn’t know he had. It’s easy to talk about how Roxanne’s death affects Fara, but she was “den mother” to the whole beta version of the Kuper Men, and with her gone, I see the Shield stepping up to fill in that role. (After all, unlike Fara, he never longs to pack this all in and go to a banal bourgeoisie job!)
Identity Status: Secret – as a spy, Osprey has a variety of pseudonyms and alternate identities, though he naturally has a predilection for bird-themed puns. (“Felix Featherby”).
Armament and Equipment: Shiva’s Edge, throwing stars, smoke pellets, assorted ninja weapons, hooks, ropes, knives, itching powder, etc
Specialties: Infiltration, stealth, swordsmanship, spellcasting (Gate Shadow Magic)
Powers/Abilities: Osprey is a skilled Shadow Mage, having trained in both the Guardian and Medinan arcane traditions. He also boasts training and skills similar (if not identical) to those practiced by Eblanese ninja.
His most prized piece of equipment, though, is his sword Shiva’s Edge, a shimmering blue-bladed katana said to have been formed from the time-frozen final gasping breath of a dying god. The blade is nigh unbreakable, it never loses its edge, and is said to leave terrible, mortal wounds in both the flesh and the spirits of those it cuts. It is thought that Osprey’s shadow magic is somewhat enhanced by his possession of a sword so closely tied to the element of death.
Osprey is also proficient in MS Word, PowerPoint and Excel, and types at 95 wpm. References available on request.
Weaknesses: Osprey is basically mortal (despite his magic sword and spellcasting ability), and can potentially be killed in a wide variety of mundane fashions – though it must be said that he was once swallowed whole by the Reklar King, Grendel, and managed to survive.
Osprey was the premier infiltration expert of the ZAPS, until he was fired by Bekkler during the ZAPS Corruption Hearings. Over the course of his career, Osprey has worked with the Shield, Manta and Alkar in a spy-like capacity, working chiefly against enemies of Guardia and the Grand Army (including, but not limited to, Medina under Ozzie, the OmniSent, Medina under Tyurin Cage, Atreus, the New Wraith, the Xenos and the Defiler Army). With the Shield, the Mana Knight and Roxanne the Valkyrie, Osprey participated in the Defense of Egmont, where he was eaten by King Grendel of the Reklar. He was rescued from the King’s digestive system by the Mana Knight, who tracked down and killed Grendel in the Pure Land, incidentally freeing Osprey from the belly of the Reklar.
Osprey also accompanied Terence Shale in his quest to regain the powers of the Shield, climbing with him up into the Phoenix Mountains and helping Shale to fend off the attacks of the trickster god Cait Sith and his army of unreasonably aggressive housecats. This adventure helped reaffirm Osprey’s intense dislike of cats (which is natural, as Osprey is an anthropomorphic bird).
For a good long time he was Roxanne’s permanent house guest, as he remained unemployed (and, apparently, unemployable) since his firing from ZAPS. He was briefly employed by Atreus, which caused a temporary rift in the relationship between Osprey and the Shield, until Troy Sordana’s quasi-villainous agenda was revealed. Osprey resents having been used as Sordana’s pawn and has declared the CEO his arch-nemesis. (it is unclear whether this rivalry is mutual).
Writer’s Notes: I know we played his job search for comic relief a lot, but one of my goals for his “intro vignette” is to emphasize that he actually is a really good spy, and definitely the best on the team when it comes to doing something real quiet-like.
I like the idea of developing a friendly rivalry with fellow team ninja/superspy, Sonya Hellcova – they get to do infiltration team-ups, they maintain the base’s Zen rock garden, they both come from an intel background (though from very different agencies).
AKA: Too numerous to mention
Identity Status: Even the name she knows – “Sonya” is almost certainly fake. Sonya has a network of fake identities, in a variety of places and countries across the Web.
Armament and Equipment: Her body is the only weapon she needs, and besides the occasional giant robot, she doesn’t like using anything else. She owns a master-crafted no-daichi Katana, a gift from Ichiro Mitsuhama, but she rarely uses it to fight, preferring more to display it as the priceless work of art that it is.
She also has a variety of tricks such as smoke bombs, caltrops, and the like. These “traditional” ninja methods match well with S/31’s preference for low-tech solutions that always work and never break.
Specialties: Sexy Scandian Super Spy
Powers/Abilities: Sonya has become proficient in several disciplines that often take a lifetime to master. She trained in ninjitsu under Seiji Kyuzo, master ninja to Clan Mistuhama; she earned the rank of Magus of the Clock from the Merge League Schools of Sorcery; and she completed Dracoforms Service Combat Pilot training.
She is not exceptional in any one of these areas, but her ability to combine them in unique and novel ways is what makes her deadly. Time magic allows her to dodge bullets, float over obstacles, and increase the speed of her kicks and strikes to make them more lethal.
Sonya has eidetic memory, and near-perfect muscle memory which were probably the reason she was chosen for the S/31 Spetsnatz program.
Weaknesses: In all that education about ninja stealth, manipulating time and space, and driving giant robots, Sonya did not acquire a lot of people skills. She is a calculating ice queen that sees people as targets. Her S/31 handlers considered her superlative at “smash and grabs”, but bad at operations requiring smooth talk, persuasion, or seduction. Sonya has all the empathy of a guided missile.
Although extremely skilled and very well trained, she is still only human. (But like any ninja worth the name, she only picks fights she can win, and avoids all others.)
Origin and History: Sonya’s high mental discipline and exceptional physical aptitude were identified by the Scandian League’s intelligence service, S/31 when she was only a few years old. She was taken from her family and put through a relentless barrage of training and tests. Only a handful of these “Spetsnatz” operatives are known to exist, and few survived the brutal punishments for failure. Her family died in an “accident”, reinforcing her sole loyalty to the state. S/31 leveraged Scande’s network of partners to cross-train their operatives in diverse skills, sending her to Eblan to study under House Mitsuhama’s ninja and to the Merge Dimension to complete her studies of Time Magic. S/31 also trained her in mecha operations, mainly she could steal giant robot prototypes from Scande’s enemies; she has probably piloted more different mecha models then anyone in the Web.
Most of her operations from S/31 were short-term—steal this secret prototype, extract that hostage, blow up that key installation. She assisted other Communist Protectorate intelligence services, including the Collective in Ticondera and several Merge League “Seeders”.
Sonya has been dispatched to join the Kuper Heroes to spy on them. Her masters in Scande have reasoned that her utter lack of charm makes the deception convincing, for who would send someone so unlikable to go undercover?
Writer’s Notes: Although she starts out spying on the Kuper heroes, she eventually becomes friends with them, and actually begins to see a reason for her work and a use for her skills beyond “because the state commands, and I obey.” Since the cabal in charge of Scande’s government is plotting to resurrect Tyr, the Dark Goddess of Desire, her duel loyalties will eventually come to a head.
AKA: “Nightfury” was his GA codename, after several variations on Shade/Shadow were rejected. (“Shadowbeard? Because I use Shadow magic, and I’m dwarf? You humans are all racist.”)
Identity Status: Public, and relatively well-known. The study of military history is one of the Web’s most popular hobbies, and the exploits of Eleod’s “Banekiller” unit are famous.
Armament: The Staff of Eternal Darkness
Specialties: Melting Faces
Powers and Abilities: Eleod has had over a century of being a priest to Shade, allowing him to draw upon the powers of that elemental spirit deeply and thoroughly. This allows him to hurl bolts of dark energy, blend into darkness, conceal allies, blind enemies, or goo them in a pit of shadow, and use other darkness-based magical spells. As an elemental priest devoted to Shade, Eleod can become wreathed in shadow to temporarily boost his power output. In the Elementalist tradition, Shade is associated with dispelling, and so Eleod is excellent at unweaving the spells of other magic users.
Also, Eleod has the super power of being a dwarf.
Weaknesses: Dwarfs are tough, but not indestructible. The magic of Shade is of course inherently vulnerable to Lumina and other light-based magics – though the reverse is also true!
Origins: Eleod became a Mana Priest well before the Great War, as the Elementals spoke to him as a young dwarf. He joined the call to serve in the Great War, and joined a “Banekiller” unit in order to hunt and exterminate the unholy creations of the Dark Guides.
After the war he tried settling down, but it’s a life that did not agree with him. The news of a new Mana Knight bothered him; why was this young girl chosen for such an honor, and not he, someone who had given his whole life to understanding and serving the Elementals?
When Fara decided to lay down the Mana Sword and pursue a normal life, Eleod got his chance. And although he was very effective at wielding the power of the Sword, he eventually came to realize that his calling was that of the Priest, and not that of the Knight. When Fara—incensed and inspired by Roxanne’s sacrifice to save her life—demanded the Sword back, Eleod agreed, but insisted that he be allowed to train her. Fara was uncertain, but Eleod insisted: “We both serve, but it is your time to act, and my time to teach.”
Writer’s Notes: The resident old grumbler, Eleod will always tell you how much better things were in the old days. He is irascible and curmudgeonly, the sort of guy who pretends to hate everyone, but loves (most) everyone. He has seen it all, and he wants to tell you about it, if only these damned kids would get off his lawn.
Yeah, and that whole “he was Mana Knight for a while, but gave it back when Fara asked nicely” bit needs to be fleshed out a bit, I think, though I like the general idea that he’s come to realize that his duty isn’t so much to melt faces, but teach a new generation of facemelters.
Oh, and if Rudra makes the team, there’s some tension to be mined from the fact that Eleod helped wipe out her race. (Not that Rudra much likes being a Baneling, but you get the point.)
Identity Status: Very public. Kusader was a storied adventurer of the Great War, the King of Kuvalla, and one of mooglekind’s greatest heroes.
Armament and Equipment: Customized Thunder Moogle aircraft
Specialties: Psionics, old skool adventuring techniques
Powers/Abilities: Moogles as a race have a natural psionic potential, and few moogles have the same level of skill and precision as Kusader. He can read minds, enable telepathic communication, levitate himself and other objects, gather sensory input far from his physical location, and create telekinetic force blasts.
Kusader is also handy with a sword, and a variety of other weapons, though this hasn’t been his preferred mode of combat in years. However, with his telepathy he can predict his opponent’s every move.
Weaknesses: He is only moogle – and he’s getting old.
Origin and History: Kusader fought alongside the gods themselves in the Great War, and after the war he became King of the moogle nation of Kuvalla. However, he had many objections with the post-Great War order, as he felt that his old ally, Celiose Cole, was effectively bullying the Web to be part of the Grand Army Charter Alliance. Kusader opposed GACA, and made some poor choices in friends by allying with Ozzie of Medina and Caidin of Ticondera. The very lopsided KMT War appeared to settle the argument.
And, from Kusader’s perspective, this is quite sad, as the GA-led world order led to a succession of increasingly destructive wars, first as big powers fought small powers, then the big powers fought each other, and then the Grand Army turned on itself and nearly devoured the Web in the process. Kusader was determined to find a better way, and sought out and recruited a group of exceptional individuals that would light the way for a better tomorrow.
Writer’s Notes: In our old Kuper Heroes discussions, we talked about the need for some “Professor X-like character” to gather the heroes together. Initially I thought it should be Praxer, but now I like the idea of using Kusader, as this is the moogle heroes final, explicit rebuttal to Celiose’s way of doing things. Kusader gets the band together during White Cell not to fight for either side, but because the GA and White Cell no longer care about protecting the Web. Not in the sense of “there’s some threat out there they’re not preparing for,” more in the sense of “the GA and White Cell ARE the biggest threat to the Web, and because each would destroy anything to beat the other.” The Kuper Heroes are not that; in the GA Civil War, they are probably mostly focused on evacuating civilians, distributing medicine, round up and destroy ultima weapons, and protect and fight for the ordinary people of the Web. (Can we please have the Kuper heroes –mostly at least—operate under the ‘no killing’ code of heroism?)
Anyway, I see Kusader as more of a support character, operating mostly behind the scenes, as it is a new generation’s turn to be heroes.
…did he ever have a psi blade? I kinda want to give him a psi blade.