Saturday, 5 September 1987

The Champions — Superheroes

From the campaign the Phil Masters started and which later became a free-for-all, everyone GMing. The characters are all pre 4th edition Hero system, dating as they do from 1983–87. The character backstories also bear traces of being a generation or so old.

Pushover

Carolyn Wilson — Height 155cm Weight 54kg Born 23–Aug–62 Hair long, straight brown Eyes Hazel.

Her parents' first child, she was born into a conventional middle class home of the time, to father Lawrence (b1937), then a junior manager in a London firm, three years on from acquiring a nondescript Oxford degree, and mother Elizabeth (b1940), who had been a secretary for the same firm, but who had given up work after marriage, They lived in a quietly respectable area on the Surrey/London border. Despite her father's disappointment that. his child was not a boy, she was idolised by her mother, until displaced by her brother Martin in the spring of '64.

The initial feelings of fear and anger turned in time to jealousy, then hatred and an abiding resentment, punctuated by occasional attempts at unpremeditated fratricide, dismissed as sibling rivalry by her parents (though not in those terms) and discouraged by spanking.

School was her first introduction to the real world. It was 1967, the time of Kent state, Apollo 1, Sergeant Pepper. The sheltered environment of play with neighbours' children gave way to the tussle of the playground. A tomboy, the despair of her mother when coming home cut and bruised, made respectable in time for her father's return. He disapproved, spanked her and sent her to bed for such rough behaviour. She tried to restore her prestige through work — and was told that girls didn't need to do such things, And too soon, Martin's school work was the only one to consider. By the time she came to the end of primary school, sexism — girls were soppy and not to be involved in boys games — came to the playground too, But then, she wasn't interested in their football heroes and such, and was tired of them pulling her pigtails. But she agreed that girls were by and large, soppy.

1973, The Moon had been abandoned, Roxy Music, Space Ritual, Nixon and Watergate. Carolyn goes to high school, and it's nothing like the books she'd read. An all-girls' school, she's glad to be rid of silly boys and their trivial preoccupations. But then most of the girl talk bores her too. The use of needlework and cookery (sorry, Home Economics) classes escapes her. She'd learnt all that from her mother years before, like she had leaned to read.

1975 The Sex Discrimination Act, Carolyn is horrified to realise that such things need legislating. And her school goes comprehensive, merging with a local boys school, Fights with her mother to be allowed to wear something other than the now optional — hence functionally obsolete — school uniform. Her mother buys her new outfits that she calls pretty, She agrees to wear them on condition that she doesn't have to also wear pigtails.

By this stage, her parents have moved out into the stockbroker belt, Lawrence is in a fairly senior position, and Martin is just starting at a minor public school. He is going to be a lawyer or doctor or some such. For Carolyn, the new school year means the start of O and CSE courses, and boys in the classroom again. She stays on the edges of the social groups, her few good friends primarily on a 9 to 4 basis.

Summer 1976, blazing weather. She's at a party given by one of her school friends. She hardly knows anyone, feels out of her depth. She's a little tipsy on the cheap wine and cider. He's bold with drink, sweaty, pimply, boring. His pawing disgusts her and she slaps him. He falls, and his friends jeer him for not holding his drink. Trembling with fear and anger, she walks home. It's late when she gets home, after a walk of more than ten miles. A scene ensues, and she is forbidden parties and forbidden to walk home alone at night.

Instead, she has judo classes, as her parents' second line of defence for their daughter's virtue, She is interested in some aspects of the sport, but finds it vaguely unsatisfying.

1978, Good exam results, Her father has no objections to her staying on — the job prospects aren't wonderful, and there's no likelihood of an early marriage for her. Carolyn is disappointed — some of her friends had had to fight to stay on. She begins to see politics as something other than the howling in Parliament. She joins in the school's Community Help projects during activities periods, and encounters feminism that is more than the bra-burning Women's Lib that her father dismisses as having achieved what it set out to do.

During the ‘Winter of Discontent’, she helps voluntary groups in deprived areas of London. Her parents don't want to condemn this enthusiasm, but think it a bit misplaced, After all, there are good works to be done in the neighbourhood. There are rows, but her parents know that these are to be expected from teenagers.

One evening, after a swimming gala for the disabled, she is confronted by three toughs while walking back to the station. She warns them that she knows judo, “Ha! It's Bruce Lee... This'll be a pushover!” They tumble, and she runs. As she sits, shaking, in the train, she feels that she had been fighting more against what she had learned as self-defence than against the muggers, acutely aware of some obscure frustration.

1979 “Boyfriends? What do I need one for? I haven't the time — and besides, they're so boring,” And, though she doesn't tell her mother, they are the enemy. She'll wait until she finds one with whom she has some common intellectual ground, and isn't too busy being one of the lads or protecting his own ego. An article in one of her mother's magazines replies to a worried mother, asking if her sixteen year old son, who hasn't had any girlfriends, is gay. Carolyn wonders. But A levels, and university interviews and suchlike take up her time.

1980 History and Politics at UEA. She joins the Aikido group, learning it as a martial art with philosophy, not just as a sport or pure self-defence. Although she dismisses the bulk of it as superstitious rubbish that makes a mystery of natural physical capabilities, she feels that there is something happening when she focusses whatever it is that they conveniently call 'chi'. When sparring, she stands and is heavy, immovable, and yet her gentlest strikes will tumble her opponents.

A pre-Christmas party, the cheap wine tasting like bile. Plastic music and few familiar faces. She recognises another fresher she's met at the Women's Group. “Coffee?” They talk into the small hours, setting the world to rights. 3am, a look passes. They hesitate. The night is cold outside. They fall silent. Their general talk turns to specific action.

Morning, grey unforgiving winter light. A tangle of limbs resolves into two sleepers, reluctant to wake to face the new day, and consider their earlier decision and its ramifications.

1982. As she waits to cross a busy road, Carolyn sees a child dash across and stumble. The car can't stop in time. She moves, thinking only “This is going to hurt.” She lands, empty, in front of the child, and lets the car's violence flow past her into the void. “Don't ever do that again,” she says to the child. “Are you Wonder Woman?” he asks. “We all are!” she tells him, and hurries off. “She probably was,” decides the driver, looking at the handprints on the bumper. Superfight insurance is still something only the Americans do — his normal policy wouldn't have covered this, had there been damage.

It's in the local paper as “Wonder Woman saves child”. “We need more like her” decide the UEA women's group. Carolyn feels her strained muscles, and holds her silence, She doesn't want the notoriety.

1983 Graduating from UEA with a 2-1 in History and Politics, and a job as martial arts and self-defence tutor to a London based Women's Co-operative. The pay is mainly bed and board, but that's little different from being a student. Being a cooperative, she has to muck in with all the activities, and it's rather like an extended holiday. Except that is for the police hassles and Nazi punks. The self-defence classes spawn an escort service for women out at night, a suggestion by Linda, one of the linchpins of the group, and one of Carolyn's first pupils.

1984 Following a series of abductions, Carolyn goes hunting for the perpetrator. She meets up with Mick Fly, an unpleasant seeming bruiser who'd been in the news recently [One of the two main super types operating in London at the time, Mick was a “half-brick” — a STR 25 flying martial artist with a 10d6 punch, the other, the leader of the self-styled Watchmen is Doc Savage, a clone of the 1930's original]. She feels deep down that one day she'll have to fight him and isn't too keen on the idea. She decides on the spur of the moment to adopt the name Pushover from old taunts. She had impulsively joined the ranks of the long underwear crusaders.

1984–1986 Linda and Carolyn become lovers. The Watchmen — now using the name The London Watch at her insistence — combat too many impersonal and irrelevant menaces, and she becomes disillusioned with her abilities as a superhero, The long dreaded fight with Mick Fly passes inconclusively. She and Linda wish to make a stronger commitment, so she makes a request of Doc, which he refuses. She writes in anger

To— Dr, J.C. Wildman XVII, ------ Farm, nr Heyford, Oxon
From— Ms C. L. Wilson 70 T---------- St. London WC 1

Re: — Project Hönir, Linda and myself

When I first came to you and suggested you put your talents to a worthwhile end, to enable couples otherwise unable to have their own children to conceive, I had expected only technical difficulties to surmount. From a functional point, what we were asking is no more than the Browns asked of Dr. Steptoe — Louise's birth is now history (she must be at school by now), and there are a lot more IVF babies around since then. Nor are lesbian couples with children a rarity, whether due to AID, deliberate coupling or a previous heterosexual relationship.

The only unusual thing about the conception and upbringing of our daughters would be that despite the pioneering nature of their conception, we would not sell our story to the sexist capitalist tabloid press. Since this would make their upbringing less remarked upon, this could only help to make our intent more acceptable to you. As to how we choose to teach our children — would a doctor refuse IVF to a heterosexual couple on the grounds of their religion or politics? Our case differs scarcely in degree and not at all in kind.

As to the technical objections. Firstly, at the risk of being ageist, I would remark that you are half again as old as me. Technology has come a long way since then. When I was born, transistors were the forefront of electronic miniaturisation, and the same amount of computing power as I'm using to type this letter (the collective's PC:AT) would have filled a small house.

The Nazis, and your prototype may well have surpassed current technology in the specific field of human cloning, however, they could not have simultaneously invented all the support technology easily available today, that could be brought to bear on the problem — micro-manipulation, molecular biological techniques such as monoclonal antibodies and gene sequencing, automation through microprocessors, image enhancement, amniocentesis, freeze-storing of embryos. Specialists could probably name you more.

We also have another advantage — we know that cloning can be done, and from what I read, that is likely to be the more difficult task, due to the effect on the genes of the specialisation of cells in the adult. Linda and I would be offering individual halves of genetic material, in a state naturally ready to merge and re-arrange. The resulting child would be an individual, unlike yourself.

We would also be able to offer natural wombs for our children. While I'm sure the Nazis would have also, I'm not at all sanguine about how they might have treated slave mothers — though I'd guess that once perfected, they used a wide-hipped Brunnhilde as your “brother”'s mother. Your prototype — using you as an example — would also have had the separate problem of developing an artificial womb. I am sure that many of his failures would have occurred at this stage — exoteric publications have shown the height of this art to be the incubation of chicken embryos in duck-egg shells. The life-support provided by a placental mammal is far more complex than this.

In the event of a failure, Linda and I are both confirmed supporters of a woman's right to control her own fertility. Abortion of a defective foetus, while a cause for grief, would not be an insurmountable barrier. However, I believe that with the resources at your disposal, and this new information, the risks would be far fewer than your prototype faced,

Yours, Carolyn Wilson

[This was before the discovery of sex-link methylation of gene sequences; everything else quoted “from the literature” was from (then still quite respectable) publications such as New Scientist of the time. The idea of creating a child in this manner completely boggled Doc's player — who was quite happy to have a clone as a character, with a Boys from Brazil type of back-story.]

She resigns in anger from the Watch at Doc's attitude to her desire for a child, returning only to recount her fight with the Bugs [Giant wasps from Outer Space — tied up with Mick Fly's origin — he's a “lost extraterrestrial” like Kal-El].

Inevitably, her picture is in the papers. Their friends, neighbours, colleagues ask her parents “Isn't that your daughter?”. They have to reconsider the daughter they almost disowned when she told them she had decided that she was a lesbian, and had lost contact with when she left college. “Our daughter, the superhero” was too tempting to pass up.

Summer 1986. Carolyn is sunk in depression. Nothing she has attempted recently seems to have come to anything. She hangs up her new costume for good, leaves a farewell note to Linda, and starts hitching, She makes her way north, walking across the wild country. She came at last to the deserted coast of Scotland, a lonely abandoned croft with a straggling self-sown vegetable garden. She fasts and meditates, eking out her own food with what is growing wild. In daylight, she runs though her Tai Chi, at night meditates in lotus. On still days, she swims in the sea, No one comes to the valley, and she abandons her clothes in the warm weather. She runs through the bracken and scrambles up and down the cliffs. Occasionally, she treks into a small village or to a nearby farm for supplies, going barefoot. She pounds rocks until her hands bleed and are callused and swims the salmon streams until she is chilled to the bone and scraped raw. She will bear some of the scars for life.

Somewhere, perhaps in the sea, perhaps in the heather, or on a stream bed, lies a palm-sized metal mesh, broken and bent. She didn't notice when or where it went, and doesn't care. She knows she is in control of her own mind [she paid 1ep to buy up her ego defence IIF to be intrinsic power].

October 1986. She knows she hasn't the resources to overwinter here, she is skin and bone and sinew, tanned, bruised and scabbed, hair hacked for comfort's sake. She dresses, picks up her pack, and starts for home.

A little whole-food restaurant in Edinburgh. The staff wonder at the barefoot young woman who walks in. She's too coherent to be on drugs or booze, but there's a strange intenseness about her all the same, and she has to count her money carefully before ordering. She eats as if starved. A hundred yards down the road, her shrunken stomach protests at this load. She walks to a litter-bin and vomits, then calmly walks on.

Hitching south brings her to Cambridge, where she sees a poster for a Martial Arts tournament in Chelmsford. The eventual winner is Tumbler, another fringe member of the Watch, and together with a couple of others on the scene, they foil the theft of the takings. She's not sure where she wants to go next, so takes up his offer of food and floorspace.

Two weeks later on the Friday night, they are called to Highgate cemetery, and she watches Demon brutally and repeatedly beat a middle-aged woman whom he claimed was a known supervillain. Something crawls out of the mediaeval plague pit, and Tumbler attacks, while Silver String [a Hawkeye type] goes into superstitious hysterics. As if hiding behind Karl Marx' grave would do any good, she thinks. The overdramatising hologrammic communicator finally manages to come up with someone who's qualified to deal with the problem, some super-biochemist with a genetically engineered winged horse. She's too tired, too weak, to fight them all. She lays the villain brick over, and then fades into the night.

Where once she thought that something hopeful might come of the Watch, she is now totally disillusioned. They are all violent, aggressive, hooked on patriarchal values. But now where to go? Her parents' home? Back to Linda? Odd-jobbing at the Thoth Institute [somewhat like Prof X's school], as Tumbler had suggested? What is she going to do with her life? Perhaps to help in the Third World?

Saturday 1–Nov–86. Full of futile anger, she fades into the night, her few belongings and scant cash are at the circus, so she walks there first, trying not to wonder what she will do next. It would be so easy to walk back to the Women's Centre, but she could not do that. Her own despair would destroy so much of what she had worked there to achieve. And she did not know how she could do that to Linda.

If the hard-won calm of her summer's retreat could be so destroyed in a matter of minutes, if her schemes brought nothing but despair after false hope was dashed, she could not wish to inflict that on her friends.

At the caravan, the lock yielded to a firm blow. In the available light, she packed her few belongings and what food she could eat without preparation, and was gone. She slept where she could find concealment, loathing the filth of the city after the wilderness.

In the morning, bleak and grey, she ached and was chilled. She started to walk aimlessly, knowing that in a few days she must do something. Suicide? Not yet. Her family? She couldn't tell them what had happened, nor lie to them. Hunger forced her to rummage for food in her pack, and in doing so, she unearthed White Ninja's letter of introduction to the principal at Thoth UK. Now that was a thought. Screwing a living out of those elitist pigs would be her revenge. With a more purposeful stride she set off.

“Summer” 1987. After several months, she has finally evolved a modus vivendi. She has her own room in an otherwise unoccupied wing of the Hall, near the gym, with its own fridge and cooker. She teaches basic gymnastics through to martial arts, and a few of her pupils have earned her respect by bearing up under her severe regime :—

“What I teach is not karate or aikido, and certainly isn't Judo, though it has elements of all of them. If you need badges, go to someone who gives them. This is what works on the streets.”

Between her teaching, she reads or meditates. While her pupils undeniably have some special needs, the Institute still reeks of privilege, and she feels that she has sold out. She is not yet — quite — twenty five, and her life is leading her nowhere. She doesn't know how long she can stay in this rut, nor where else to go. She feels trapped and weary, not even able to motivate herself to rebellion through unconventional dress or hairstyle.

There has been the usual amount of super-stuff in the papers. Carolyn ignores its studiously; the wounds are still there. It was stupid of her to ever think she belonged in that world. She had never truly enjoyed it, and yet it was somehow addictive. When the exposé on Lightning made the headlines in the tabloids, she dismissed it as a fill-in until the already written Fergie's Baby stories can be run. She doesn't know Lightning — has only seen her briefly twice. It would have been nicer to see Mick Fly crucified, rather than held up as Britain's answer to Rambo.

When Alan [Tumbler's secret ID] visits Thoth, he asks whether she would be company at dinner. After politely declining the offer twice, no more are forthcoming. She is glad — she had trusted him, until he had joined in the violence.

Saturday 22nd August 1987, late evening. Carolyn's diary.

Tomorrow is my 25th birthday. What have I achieved so far. Nothing. What am I doing? Nothing. If I stay here like this, the MCP bastards will have won. <The Pretenders' Hymn to Her plays on her cassette machine. A bottle of cheap red wine stands empty on the desk beside her. Chrissie Hynde sings “Something is lost — Something is found”> The worm must turn. If I don' t do anything, I shall have lost. So I have to fight back. How? A new model Pushover in a different rig? The problems are that pig Savage, unspeakable Mick Fly, Alan, Demon, all the bloody rest who are bigger, tougher, faster, and wrong-headed. Perhaps I'll have a bright idea tomorrow.

Sunday, she wakes late, vaguely hung over. She rereads her diary entry. Booze had made her bold, and had pointed out one problem. Other problems stood in her way as well — being strapped for cash was one. She was still less mobile than a super needed to be to get to where she might be needed, if she could figure out where that was : had she been there she might have had a chance of halting that armed maniac the other day [the real-world gun amok in Hungerford], but at more risk than most of the other supers she'd met. And apart from such oddities, the only other chance for direct action in this part of the world was hunt sabotage.

She cycles into town for supper, treating herself to an Indian, and heading home in the dusk and the rain, skids. Tangled in the bike, her landing is rough, and she skins the palm of one hand. She visits the sickbay for a large plaster, and is offered the results of one of the student's experiments, a skin-like dressing that lets light and air to the wound, looking nearly transparent from that side, yet being flesh coloured for aesthetic purposes, from the other.

Monday morning's post brings a surprise, an envelope of heavy, parchment like paper, airmailed from Perth, W.A. The letter, on notepaper headed Wolf Foundation, tells her that for her efforts on behalf of women's position in society she has been awarded a stipend, half going to support the Camden centre, half for her own disposal, with tax being administered by the Foundation. Her first instalment of the stipend was enclosed. Tax free, £10,000 as a banker's draft.

Subsequent monthly instalments would cover accommodation expenses, and be matched by donations to the Centre or other nominated causes, providing that she resumed her career. It was signed J. M. Wolf (Trustee).

She looked at the postmark. It was dated 14th August. Had someone been conditioning her? She looked at the cheque, thought for a while, and decided that it more than matched her own price. She picked up the internal phone. “Heloïse, can you recommend a lawyer?...”

She needed somewhere to live, in town, and transport. Immediately, she needed leave of absence to find them. She also needed to get back into harness. She would have to choose a new appearance for her adventuring, and a different name. The latter wasn't so important, but she would need to keep her identity hidden from the Watch. She picked at the dressing on her hand, and an idea slowly formed.

Character Summary

Materialist, vegetarian (on ecological/nutritional grounds), lesbian, left-anarchist, feminist, She will defend, but not attack. She has never thought of herself as super-powered — she can't bounce bullets or project energy blasts.

Stats

STR 13 DEX 23 CON 23 BOD 10 INT 13 EGO 13 PRE 8 COM 13 PD 12 ED 12 SPD 5 REC 8 END 36 STUN 34

Characteristics cost 109 points.

+3D6 knockback on STR [i.e. 1" knockback for every BOD rolled, no subtractions] (10) STR and advantage at 1/4 END (11) -6" Knockback (18) Martial arts plus 3 damage levels (7 1/2 D6 punch, 9D6 kick, 32 points). 12- Climbing (5) 14- Stealth (5) 14- Acrobatics (10) 11- London Knowledge (2) 8- UK Law (1) 8- Streetwise (1) 8- History and Politics degree (1) 1 level martial arts (5) 1 level Martial throw (3) IR Vision (IIF mask, 4) 1/2 resistance HPKAs (5), +1 Running (2) +1 swimming (2) -8 EGO defense (5) -10 PRE defense (5) 8- KS Martial Arts (1) 8- KS meditation (1) = 127 points.

Protects the weak (*1/2) 5 Militant feminist 20 Code vs Killing 20 Looks 8- no-face mask in hero ID 4, Enrages 11-/11- vs MCPs 10, Secret ID 15, x1.75 Stun from TK attacks (15) Experience 46.

In her earlier guise, she had unusual looks full time with her political badges, and had a hunted (street gang) rather than the secret ID. Experience went on skills, buying down some disads, ego defence and the IR vision. The martial arts core power was there from the beginning as a 210 point character, and was not increased.

Commentary

That covers, somewhat tersely, the entire of a campaign that spanned the whole real-world 84–87 span, though she didn't actually do more than one outing in her new her ID as Masque. With the coming of the internet, I suspect that she got into on-line activity early, especially encryption for human rights perhaps becoming the UK's Cypherella.

Phil's Kingdom of Champions supplement for Champions was based on this campaign. Alas, writing for Hero at that time he needed to have characters statted for a later edition of the system, a version that mucked around with martial arts and knockback, so I said, no, she won't work for that. The character Repulse is the analogue that Phil wrote to occupy that niche.

A slightly younger (about 38 in the “next autumn” when it is set, not the 40 this version currently would be as I write in early '03) version of Carolyn who didn't happen to live in a superhero setting has a different encounter with the mysterious Wolf clan in some recent SF writing of mine.

Thunderbolt

Tessa Roberts was a bright enthusiastic girl from Dalston, who left school at 16 because her parents didn't hold with education for girls — and who rebelled by taking a short term of service in the Army, primarily in clerical work, but with more than just basic training. After her discharge, she answered an advertisement for a PA to Alec Dalton, of Dalton Electronics. Her background fitted in nicely with another position he was seeking to fill, so she was hired to try out some of the more experimental equipment — and help improve the profile of the company.

Her driving motivation is to defy the limited expectations her parents had of her, and hence denying most of her own background.

STR 15 DEX 20/14 CON 23/14 BOD 10 INT 12 EGO 13 PRE 11 COM 13 PD 11/5 ED 10/5 SPD 5/3 REC 10/8 END 38/28 STUN 37/31 (first of a pair is IIF field effect harness) = 98

Powers 17" 1/4 END IIF flight (40) -3/4 physical damage reduction, all above -1/4 with limitation only from significant velocity impact, all IIF (38) 3 levels move-through based on flight, 1 applicable per 5" move IIF (4) 51/2D6 EB with STR, 1/4 END based on flight, 1D6 applicable per 3" flight, IIF, no range, only for move-through (16) -5 power defence IIF (4) -10 presence defence IIF (feels invulnerable) (4) Watch base contribution (5) Watch communicator High-range radio OAF (5) = 116

Skills 8- UK Law (1) 8- International law (1), 11- London Knowledge (2) 11- PA professional skill (2) Pilot (all air) (3), 13- Combat Vehicle Ops (3) Watch tactical (5) Army Basic Training (1) Conversational German (from posting abroad) (1) = 19

Disads 2x stun EM fields (20) Code vs Killing (20) Protector of the weak (10) Enraged 11/11 if innocents endangered (15), 11/11 (10) under gunfire, Watch package bonus (10) Experience 48.

Commentary

A non-nonsense character. Her signature is a 14D6 move-through, doing her about 1pt STUN. Got more outings than Carolyn, though being a later start, and not being anywhere near so developed as a character. Between being able to fly to problems quickly, and not having her own ideas about where she wanted to go and what to do with her life, she was much more deployable. That's the problem with role-played characters — they do tend to say “Sod this for a game of soldiers” and bugger off on their own agenda.

Patti Miller

A late character, developed after Hero Games brought out their mecha RPG, Robot Warriors, and after Aliens. That's the Dalton Electronics logo on the thigh of her power-loader, and in the second image.

Born 19–Aug–52, Height 6', hair long, red. Weight 185lb.

Always a bright student, she went to MIT to major in engineering in summer 1970, a conscious decision to avoid the softer subjects. Graduated summa cum laude 1974. Her interests had gone from civil to electronic engineering, and her PhD (Princeton, 1977) was in cybernetics.

Her skills and reputation secured her a good post at one of the Northinghouse Corporation research lab. She knew that some way secret military work was being done on site, and had to curb her inquisitiveness. When she finally gave in to temptation, she peeked in a file on her team leader's desk. It was the results of a Government requested study on super-soldier experiments in 'Nam and after. It wasn't pleasant reading. There were also suggestions of uses for the finished article in corporate plans on a named-circulation-only document. She soon became suspicious of the uses her own work might be put to and indirectly voiced this concern at work, That was when the odd phone calls started, and she soon spotted that she was under observation. Jumping before she might be pushed — or more likely bumped off — she quit, and took a post advancing appropriate technology in Kenya (late 1980).

Five years of this taught her a lot about the hardships of the developing world, and gave her time to ponder her career and past research, and occasionally, do some guest work at various universities. In late 1984, she had an idea, but one that needed finance and backing with a team. England would be convenient — same language — or near enough — reasonable technological base. It took most of her savings and all 1985 to find the person she needed — Alec Dalton. After initial development, her first prototype fusion-powered fibre-composite walker, equipped with materials from Dalton's own personal space exploitation programme, is ready for field test in 1987.

Likes and dislikes — will eat most things — she had to in Africa, and will do so in bravado on encountering those with less robust palates, but much prefers what she thinks of as home-style cooking. Drinks beer and bourbon, but hasn't really come to terms with Real Ale.

Str 13 Dex 18 Con 13 Bod 10 Int 18 Ego 14 Pre 15 Com 15 PD 3 ED 3 Spd 4 Rec 6 End 26 Stun 24 = 68

116 pt mecha “Big Mack” (46) 75 pt mecha powerloader (6) Basic Martial Arts (13) 15- Robotics (7) 13- Combat mechanic (7) Mecha pilot (1) Scuba (1) 14- Combat Vehice Ops (5) RPD4, rED3 OIF pilotsuit (7) 1D6+1 rpKA 2x8shot OAF pistol +1 OCV (11) 12- Mat Sci (3) 11- Combat electronics (3) 11- East US area knowledge (2) 11- East Africa area knowledge (2) Accented Swahili (3) 8- Bioelectrics (1) Ground vehicle familiarity (2) 13- Computers (6) smattering of High Elven (1) [I can't remember how she got that one!] = 131

Hunted Northinghouse 8- (25), protector of the weak (15) Insatiable curiosity (15) American attitudes in the UK (3) Distinctive looks (tall, red-head) 3 Enraged 8-/11- innocents threatened. Watch Package (10) Experience (23)

Big Mack — Dex 18 Speed 4 CV 6 total mass 142.5 tons, Bod 28, 15- Damage control, Martial Arts. One crew with full long-term life-support. Armour net defense 13. Ground movement 48" non combat, flight 72" non combat. Lifters Str 50, -5 flash, IR vision, high range radio, 3tonnes cargo, spares (20 points) 3.5D6 REKA area 60deg forward 6" hex, 3.5D6 Autofire RPKA 60deg forwards, 5.5D6 Flash (180 deg forwards), 9D6 EB 180 deg forwards, 10D6 punch, 2.5D6 REKA/no range/8" hex line. Aiming -1, no fine work with lifters, cannot climb, cannot use arms in flight, Watched Dalton 11- Fuel requirement (uncommon, 8hr).

Powerloader — Dex 18 Speed 4 total mass 50, Marial arts, Body 13, 1 crew in basic accommodation. Defence 11 Ground movement 16" non-combat Lifter STR 30, 10D6 PEB no range. cannot climb, Watched Dalton 11- Fuel requirement (uncommon, 8hr).

Commentary

Had the campaign not ground to a halt (bricks were too obviously effective compared with other types, and players were dispersed by changing jobs), she would have cribbed more tricks from the Nite Owl of the 1970s from Watchmen — I was planning the flying owl equivalent as the next big purchase when the curtain came down.

Others

Anima — a middle-aged writer and his alternate identity of his Jungian anima — appearing as jailbait wielding a cosmic power pool. Power — a trucker with an unstable power reserve based on STUN giving STR and END. Emerald — a She-Hulk-alike, who showed how effective newly minted bricks could be alongside old-timers with 50+ eps. Selene — a flying egoist with a madness multipower (INT, EGO and EGO defence destruction, mental paralysis and ego attack). Dragonfly — high speed pure Martial Artist (retired when agents started carrying Area effect/single hex weapons as standard).