Alternate Identity: Leonard "Len" Kepler
Base of Operations: Emerald City
Concept: Superhero Wizard
Table of Contents
Allies & Enemies
Costume & Appearance
Current Role & Hooks
Personality & Motivation
Powers & Skills
Allies & Enemies
An old-school, broom-riding, wand-firing, cauldron-stirring, gravelly voiced, Scotch-drinking, pipe-smoking, dirty joke telling witch. She likes to tell people to "Grasp my rod!" She claims it never gets old. She learned about Len's magical talent at the same time that Eris did. She fought off Eris's minions, and took Len as her apprentice and sidekick for twelve years, teaching him everything he knows. At the start of 2019, she told Len she was leaving, though she didn't say why, where she was going, or how long she would be gone. She gave her pocket universe and its contents to him as a "graduation present." Her current whereabouts are unknown.
The ghost of an Englishman who serves as the butler of Len's pocket dimension. He served Briana Whitethorne, and when ownership of the "manse" changed hands, he decided to stay on. He appears as a translucent pale blue version of his former self, with a wisp of blue mist instead of legs. He is not bound to the manse; in fact, he refers to it as his "refuge." He politely deflects any attempts to pry into his reasons for staying and serving the household. Cryptic comments have indicated that he was a butler in life as well, and that he lived through both World Wars.
In life, Stephen Hewitt was butler to Lord Owen. In the years leading up to World War 2, Lord Owen was an anti-Semite and fascist sympathizer. During WW2, Owen acted as a Nazi spy, covertly supplying the Third Reich with both information and financial assistance. He was never caught. Hewitt was fully aware of his employer's actions. He never actively helped, but he never interfered either. He turned a blind eye to it, considering it "matters above my station." After the war, as the full truth about the Holocaust came to light, Hewitt fell into deep depression and alcoholism, consumed with guilt and shame. One day, years after the war, he finally snapped, and drove Owen's Bentley off of a bridge, with Lord Owen in the back seat. Both men perished. It was ruled an accident.
Hewitt remains in service to the manse and its owner because it protects him from having to move on to his afterlife. The thought of his "final reward" terrifies him.
But he's not afraid that he'll go to Hell.
He's afraid that he won't.
Also known as "Discordia," the goddess of chaos from the Greco-Roman pantheon. When she became aware of Len and his talent, she sent her minions to recruit him, so that she might use him to sow more chaos in the mortal world. Briana Whitethorne intercepted her minions and fought them off. In the dozen years since, her minions have clashed with Briana and Len several more times, either when she made a renewed effort to recruit him, or when they became aware of one of her schemes and foiled it. Eris is bitter, petty, and jealous at the best of times. She never lets go of a grudge or a slight. Her minions have a habit of showing up at the worst possible time for people like Len.
Costume & Appearance
Hex carries a black wooden staff almost as tall as he is, carved from ebony and etched with dozens of runes. He wears a sleeveless indigo robe that goes down to about mid-calf, over a lighter lavender tunic. The robe has a high upturned collar, and is affixed to the tunic with a pair of brooches sitting just under his collar bones, purple sapphires about the size of chicken eggs cut into a hexagonal shape and set into gold. The tunic goes down to just above his knees, and is belted at the waist with an indigo sash. The chest of the tunic is embroidered with a black disc containing white lines arranged in a "Flower of Life" design, 19 small interlocking white circles arranged in a hexagon pattern inside one larger circle. The part of the tunic below the waist is slit to divide it into six flaps. Indigo trim traces along the bottom of the tunic. The baggy sleeves of the tunic are tucked into white leather bracers. The left bracer is also etched with runes, and studded with another gold-set egg-sized hexagonal-cut purple sapphire. Below the tunic he wears a pair of baggy indigo leggings, tucked into knee-high white leather boots with large fold-over cuffs. Over his eyes, he wears a set of leather goggles. The strap is soft leather, while the part around the eyes is boiled hard leather. The lenses appear to be glass, but are actually crystal, transparent from the inside but opaque from the outside. When he uses his magic, his irises take on a slight golden glow, which sometimes shines brightly enough to be visible from behind the goggles.
When not actively wizarding, his enchanted vestments transform into normal clothing which makes him look like just another Pacific Northwest hipster: A zip-up hooded jacket, blue jeans, combat boots, and a red and black plaid flannel shirt. His goggles turn into vintage-style black square-frame glasses with non-prescription lenses. His bracer morphs into a hexagonal wristwatch with a broken motor, the hands stuck permanently at 6 o'clock ("It's right twice a day!").
Len's body type is colloquially known as a "bear" or a "dad-bod." He's bulky, and extremely hairy, from head to toe. The hair below his neck is significantly darker than the hair on his head, making it stand out. The bulk is mostly muscle, which his body builds easily, layered over a wide frame (he really is "big-boned"), but it's covered with enough fat (which his body also accumulates easily) to completely obscure any definition. His head and hands are both slightly larger in proportion to his body than a normal adult, which makes him appear overall even bulkier.
Current Role & Hooks
Hex is based primarily in Emerald City, but he's perfectly willing to lend a hand elsewhere if needed. Conventional long-distance travel is a hassle for him, but he has ways of mitigating that.
He's best suited to deal with magical and supernatural threats to the city, but he's powerful enough to hold his own against most super-powered menaces.
He conducts regular divination rituals in order to figure out where and when he'll be needed, so there's an excuse for him to show up just about anywhere at any time.
In combat, Hex's first priority is always to see to the safety of victims and innocent bystanders. He'll throw up protective barriers, heal the wounded, spirit people away from the combat zone, and otherwise use his powers and even his own body to intercept any potential harm to civilians first, only actually crossing swords with supervillains if it's the last option. If he does engage in direct combat, then he tries to keep a cool head, use the minimum force required, and offer the villains multiple chances to surrender peacefully. If they finally do surrender, he'll take them up on it without hesitation, even if they spurned previous offers.
Hex started out as a (probably joking) challenge from AvengerAssembled for me to "Just make and play a nice guy."
Obviously, both Hex and the nature of his magic draw heavy influence from Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, Dungeons & Dragons, and The Dresden Files. I justify the D&D-ness of it all by telling myself that Freedom City imported a lot of the "D&D paradigm" into their setting, since M&M is ultimately a D&D spinoff anyway. The whole idea of making magic less chaotic by "locking it down" in runes enchanting items is something I read in both R.A. Salvatore's D&D novels and the Dwarf Codexes for Warhammer, and I'm honestly not sure which one of them was stealing from the other.
Hex's appearance and a lot of his personality are based on Jason Chorde, one of the core cast members of the long-running webcomic Something Positive.
He's also a sort of gender-flipped Mercy from Overwatch, if her abilities came from magic instead of super-science, and if she also had Winston's barrier projector, or Brigitte's or Reinhart's shield.
If you want to know exactly what Hex's mentor, Briana Whitethorne, looks and sounds like, then watch Anne Bancroft's portrayal of Mrs. Kennsinger in the movie Malice.
From his name to his costume to the manifestations of his powers, Hex obviously has a heavy numerological motif. The name "Hex" has a double meaning, since it's both the Greek word for the number 6, and a Germanic term for magical spells or curses, and the "witches" who cast them. Hex's whole schtick is bringing order out of chaos, and both the number 6 and the hexagonal shape are both often used as symbols of order and organization. The number 6 is significant in mathematics for several reasons, such as being the smallest number divisible by both 2 and 3, and the smallest "perfect number." 6 is also the atomic number of carbon, a fundamental element in chemistry, biology, and technology, and carbon atoms and molecules form hexagonal shapes; it is that structure which gives substances such as diamond their strength. In the animal world, one has only to look to the honeycomb structure of beehives to see these principles manifest.
"Leonard Kepler" is a homage to two great scientists and mathematicians from real-world history, Leonardo DaVinci and Johannes Kepler, two people who, in their own way, helped bring a great deal of order out of chaos.
Hex's mentor, "Briana Whitethorne," is named for "Briana" and "Whitethorn," my mother's first two AD&D PCs, both wizards.
Mr. Hewitt is named for Christopher Hewett, the actor who portrayed the eponymous protagonist on the sitcom Mr. Belvedere.
Hewitt's full name and origin story are also a homage to Stevens, the point-of-view character from The Remains of The Day. His former master, "Lord Owen," is named after the Owens family, Mr. Belvedere's employers. (They were not Nazis.)
Hex's barge home is a homage to Duncan MacLeod's barge from the first couple seasons of Highlander.
Hex began his magical tutelage at age eleven, the same age as first-year students at Hogwarts in Harry Potter.
The exterior of Hex's headquarters is a small "barge house," a trailer home sitting on a flat-bottom boat used for towing cargo up and down rivers, little more than a raft with a motor attached. The motor isn't functional. It's just for show. There are runes carved into the bottom of the barge, which Hex uses to summon a water elemental when he needs to move the barge.
The door to the trailer is surrounded by invisible runes. Anyone who opens the door without knowing and activating those runes opens the door to a normal trailer home.
When the door runes are activated, the outer door opens into a pocket dimension containing a large mansion. The amenities include Briana Whitethorne's extensive library, which includes many occult texts, and her workshops, stocked with tools and materials for a wide variety of crafts, mundane and supernatural, as well as a scrying mirror which Hex can use to turn any reflective surface in Emerald City into a window, through which he can see, hear, and communicate with people on the other side. The walls of the manse are etched with translation runes, which allow all within the manse to communicate freely with each other. A few doors in the manse lead to unfinished rooms, which only partially exist. After more than twelve years in residence, there are still some rooms Hex has never entered.
One room of the manse contains a standing portal to the Elemental Realms. Spirits from those realms, usually a few dozen at any one time, use that portal to gain entry to the manse, which they then work to maintain and defend. Their efforts are organized by the butler, Mr. Hewitt (see "Allies" above). The elemental spirits are of limited intelligence, greater than a normal animal but less than that of a normal person. Most of them take the forms of animals, such as dogs and birds. The spirits are not slaves; they can use the portal freely to return to their home dimension at any time. Mr. Hewitt is the only spirit who occupies the manse on a permanent basis. The elementals are a transient population. In order to enter the estate, the elementals must accept a voluntary geas which, for the duration of their stay, imposes a non-aggression pact between them, and obligates them to clean, repair, and defend the manse, in exchange for a regular supply of "treats" for them to consume. These "treats" mostly consist of manifestations of opposing elements which they can consume. For example, the fire spirits are usually provided with combustible materials, while the water spirits are usually provided with open flames for them to quench.
Leonard Kepler was born in the right place at the right time.
His parents lived in Emerald City, and it was expected that he would be born there. However, during his mother's ninth month of pregnancy, her father, his maternal grandfather, died suddenly. His parents had to drive out to the remote small town in rural Oregon where he lived for the funeral. They had no idea that their route passed close by a nexus point where several "ley lines" of magical energy crossing the planet intersected, spilling that magical energy into the nearby area. They also didn't know that they passed under a very specific and rare alignment of stars in the sky. Leonard's mother went into labor on the way to her father's funeral, and delivered her son into a point of time and space which imbued him with a natural talent for channeling magical energy and imposing his will upon it. His parents made it just in time for the funeral, with the new baby in tow, making the whole occasion emotionally complicated for all involved.
Len's childhood was unremarkable at first. He excelled academically, so his parents made sure to move wherever they could find the best schools in town. The best schools were always in rich neighborhoods, so his family, despite being poor, always wound up living on the periphery of rich neighborhoods, and he always wound up being the one poor kid in a class full of yuppies and trust-fund brats. He seemed normal until he was 8 years old, when his talent began to manifest, mostly in the form of astoundingly unlikely mechanical failures everywhere he went. He was always big for his age, but when puberty hit, he grew like a weed. The combination of being a "teacher's pet," a "fat ogre," poor, and a walking technical difficulty was more than the adolescent could take, so he began lashing out. This caused the manifestations of his magical talents to intensify, which eventually drew supernatural attention to him.
As a goddess of Chaos, Eris, also known as Discordia (see Threat Report), became aware of Len when he was eleven years old, and sent her minions to recruit him. Fortunately for Len, and probably the rest of the world, that effort was foiled by Briana Whitethorne, a witch who intercepted and defeated the minions of Eris, and convinced Len's parents to let her take him on as her apprentice. For the next twelve years, while his siblings went to school, Len spent nine months out of every year by Briana's side, studying and practicing in her pocket-dimension home, and taking frequent jaunts across the multiverse, dimension-hopping to alternate Earths, visiting different time periods, and even traveling to more exotic planes of existence, like the Astral and the Elemental Realms. Briana appeared to be in her mid-fifties, but various interactions and artifacts Len observed over the years suggested she was much older. Briana taught Len how to use spells, conduct rituals, and forge and brew magical talismans and potions, to control, direct, and when necessary, unleash the magical energy he tapped into. Almost as a by-product of the different magical traditions they researched, he wound up with a knowledge base of history and mythology worthy of a graduate degree in several different humanities.
In 2018, after a dozen years, Briana declared one day, with no warning and little fanfare, that Len was her student no longer, but a wizard in his own right, and announced her intention to leave, though she did not say where (or when?) she was going. She bequeathed the pocket universe and all its contents to Len as a "graduation present," pulling up its dimensional anchor and folding up the whole thing into a literal deed which she signed over to him before departing. He decided to purchase a house-barge moored on the Emerald City coast and anchor the pocket dimension there, where he could keep a safe distance from the heart of the city while still having relatively easy access to it. From there, he casts daily divinations to determine when and where he'll be needed to protect the city and its people.
Len doesn't have much of a personal life yet, but he's working on it. The nature of his magic cuts him off from much of the modern human world, but he bridges the gap where he can. He tries to get out of his "house" for recreational purposes once or twice a week, even if it just means taking his guitar to a park or his book to a coffee shop (one of the rare ones without wi-fi, for obvious reasons) when he could more easily stay at home.
Personality & Motivation
In any comedy duo, Len would be the Straight Man that a Wacky Zany Guy would play off of. He carried a lot of anger when he was a child, but his training with Briana, especially in meditation, helped him to let go of that anger a long time ago. When he learned how to control his magic, he also learned how to control his feelings. The angry kid grew up to be a mellow adult, a "gentle giant" who just tries to be nice to people, help out, do the right thing, and avert or de-escalate conflicts instead of initiating or exacerbating them. He radiates a calm, quiet confidence that many people find disarming (a confidence borne of over a decade of traveling the multiverse and escaping or fighting off Death in many forms), with a big smile that comes easily and spreads all the way up to his eyes.
Powers & Skills
Hex has a natural talent for tapping into and channeling the "raw and chaotic magical energy" of The Phoros, another dimension inhabited by beings of the same name, "immortal, immaterial, glowing spheres of light and fire." (See The Book of Magic.) His magical training focused on bringing Order out of that primordial Chaos to which he was attuned, in several different ways. He can cast spells, conduct rituals, or imbue physical items with magic power. Generally, the more time and labor intensive the method of shaping and controlling the magic, the less chance there is of it "leaking out" and wreaking havoc on himself or his environment (see "Walking Techbane" under "Complications," below).
He casts spells by quickly speaking incantations and tracing symbols in the air with his fingers. The words are mostly from ancient Atleantean and Lemurian dialects, though they sometimes include snippets of more "mundane" ancient languages, like Egyptian, Greek, Latin, Old Norse, or Sanskrit. They are mostly invocations, entreaties, or references to various mystical entities, realms, and forces across the multiverse. Some of the symbols he traces in the air are Atlantean or Lemurian runes (though, again, sometimes they belong to more "mundane" dead tongues), while others are sigils he created himself, which would require study of his own notes in his private spellbooks to understand. Often, while casting, golden flames will erupt from his eyes and surround his hands, and his fingers will leave burning streaks in the air which will linger for several moments. When trying to go unnoticed, he can whisper or mutter the incantations, and suppress the light show, but the spells are usually more effective when the casting is more bombastic and theatrical. This is the use of his magic which generates the desired effect most quickly, but which is also the most likely to disrupt local technology and/or "snap back" on him, so he limits himself to minor utility spells.
He can also conduct lengthy rituals, using a complex combination of spoken incantations, physical movements, runes drawn or carved upon objects and/or the surrounding environment, certain clothes worn (or not worn), and employing all manner of special props or ingredients, ranging from candle flames to animal body parts. His most common application for this use of his magic is to draw an arcane circle upon the ground and cast specially-crafted rune stones into it, in order to divine past and future events, in a manner similar to Scandinavian mystics (though the runes carved upon his stones are all sigils of his own design). He does this regularly in order to figure out when and where his aid will be needed. This use of his magic is less likely to disrupt local technology or harm himself than spell casting, but it is also far more time and labor intensive.
Finally, he can imbue magical energy into physical items. This method of magic use is by far the most time and labor intensive for him, but is also the one least likely to cause chaotic side-effects, as it imposes the most direct and permanent "Order" upon the innate "Chaos" of his magic. The items are most effective and resilient when he crafts them himself, which is why his tutelage under Briana included "mundane" skills like sewing, carpentry, and metalsmithing. Then he etches magical runes, mostly sigils of his own design, into the object. Often, the etchings are filled in with ink or dust which includes exotic ingredients. Most of the magical items he crafts are temporary in nature, limited use protective charms or brewed potions which provide some power after consumption which wears off once the liquids have been fully metabolized. The few permanent items he has created involved "locking down" a significant portion of his own personal magical talent, basically carving off a piece of his own soul and trapping it inside the object. If the object were destroyed, that piece of his soul would come rushing back into him, with potentially explosive results.
Hex's magic focuses mainly on the summoning, shaping, and unleashing of direct "force," a magical version of pure kinetic energy. To protect himself and others, he uses the runes embedded in his robes to create selectively-permeable force fields and constructs, in the form of glowing golden transparent floating hexagons. To shelter large groups or to protect people from explosions or falling debris, he'll create domes or walls made up of multiple interlocking hexagons, what some would call a "beehive barrier." When he requires personal defense, he'll create one or more hexagons of various sizes, some connected and some not, which will hover and orbit around him, rapidly repositioning themselves and clustering together as necessary to block incoming attacks. Other runes woven into the back of his robes harness that same force to create giant feathered wings of pure energy which allow him to fly. The runes carved into his staff, meanwhile, allow him to cast healing spells, or, if combat is required, to cover the staff in one of several different glowing auras, each a different color accompanying a different effect. One punches opponents away, while another punches through them, and a third ignores their physical body to punch their soul (or rough equivalent).
Hex also dabbles in dimensional magic, mostly for travel and storage, and minor divination (obtain information, find what is lost), conjuration (create something from nothing) and transmutation (alter the something that already exists) spells for utility. He doesn't use any mind-controlling or mind-altering magic, or any necromancy aside from the "white necromancy" of healing wounds and curing diseases, in both cases more for ethical reasons than on account of any lack of aptitude.
Hex has his talent for channeling magic because of when and where he was born, but that talent has nothing to do with genetics. His parents are both physically unremarkable, and any examination or testing of his body or genes would show a "normal" baseline human. The change brought on by the circumstances of his birth was not to his body, but to his soul.
Leonard "Len" Kepler is born in rural Oregon, and raised in Emerald City.
Len's magical talent beings to manifest.
Eris tries to recruit Len as a minion. The witch Briana Whitethorne foils that attempt.
Len begins his apprenticeship with Briana Whitethorne.
Briana and Len travel throughout the multiverse and time and space, righting wrongs and saving people. They run afoul of Eris's minions several times.
Briana declares Len's apprenticeship to be at an end, proclaiming him "a wizard in his own right." She passes ownership of her pocket dimension mansion to him as a "graduation present."
By Summer's End (IN PROGRESS): Hex meets a dragon.