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Mister Strix

Alternate Identity: Gaetano "Guy" Giordano (Deceased)

Base of Operations: Bedlam City

Concept: "Vampire Batman." (See here for details about the specific type of vampire.)

 

Table of Contents

Allies, Associates, & Enemies

Costume & Appearance

Current Role & Hooks

Design Notes

Headquarters

History

Personal Life

Personality & Motivation

Playlist

Powers & Skills

Timeline

Reputation

 

Allies, Associates, & Enemies

Spoiler

Allies

 

Father Cesare Messina

Guy’s only friend, a retired 70-year-old Catholic priest. He's the only person other than “Johann” (see “Enemies,” below) who knows that Guy Gaetano has risen from his grave, or that Guy Gaetano is Mister Strix. In fact, Guy becoming Mister Strix was half his idea. They became friends after Guy saved his life during a chance meeting. He is convinced that God sent Guy to him so that he could help Guy turn his curse into a blessing. Guy meets with him over coffee about once a week.

 

Rafael "Raff" Giordano

Guy’s dead little brother, a closeted gay man, Catholic priest, and Vatican-sponsored monster-hunter. Strictly speaking, he isn’t around anymore to be an “ally,” but his shadow looms over Guy’s unlife. They were brothers and best friends, but ultimately, Guy and Raff got each other killed.

 

The Twilight Lodge

The members of the Lodge are obligated to assist one another in times of need. Mister Strix has become particularly close with fellow founding members Dead Head and Doctor Thorne.

 

Associates

 

Doctor Adriana Aparo

Guy’s widow. She grew up in Flint, so she feels right at home in Bedlam. They met during their medical residency in Detroit. They got engaged after they got their medical licenses, spent a year together in Libya and the Congo working for Doctors Without Borders, and then moved to Bedlam City, where they got married and bought a house. They were about to start trying for their first child when Guy died. During the five years “Johann” kept Guy in a box with a stake through his heart, Adriana became close friends with Guy’s sister Flora, remarried, and had a child with her new husband. She still lives in the same house she shared with Guy. She works in the emergency room at Bedlam General Hospital. Flora and Mo have both tried to convince her to work for Our Lady of Sorrow instead, and Mo has offered to “make some calls,” but Adriana feels like Bedlam General is where she can do the most good. Like everyone else from his mortal life, Adriana had no idea that Guy has risen from his grave, until he unmasked himself to her during the events of Red Death Redemption.

 

Luna Giordano née Gallo

Guy’s mother. She was a librarian when she met Mo Giordano (see “Enemies,” below). After she and her “bad boy” got married and had children, she became a homemaker. Of her children, she was closest to Guy and Rafael, who were gentle bookworms like her. Luna was the one who instilled in them a love of traditional French and Italian cooking, coffee, wines, and operas. Their deaths shattered her. She loves Matt and Flora, but she was never as close to Matt, who was always his father’s son, and while she doted on her only daughter, Flora has always spent more time trying to get her father’s attention. Luna has always been active in her local church, Saint Fabians, doubly so after Guy and Raphael died. Like everyone else from his mortal life, she has no idea that Guy has risen from his grave. If she found out who he was, she would know better than to tell her husband or her surviving children.

 

Other Heroes

Mister Strix has worked with a few other vigilantes. Some of them are also based in Bedlam City, but others have crossed his path while visiting from Freedom City. Most of them have some idea what he is, but none of them have any idea who he is.

 

Bedlam City Heroes

Arrowhawk: She is the one superhero Mister Strix has fought against as well as alongside. She despises him, but she'll unite with him against a common foe.

Judex

Lady Horus & Wadjet

Ronin

 

Freedom City Heroes

Grimalkin

Set & Sekhmet

Temperance

 

Enemies

 

“Johann”

Guy’s vampire sire. Guy knows almost nothing about him. He speaks with a thick Germanic accent, and he has only ever referred to himself as “Johann” in Guy’s presence.

“Johann” is not his “real” name, but his accent is genuine. He was born and raised in central Europe. His age is a number with four digits, and his vampire bloodline is one whose members grow more powerful as they get older. He has several other vampire “children” around the world, most of whom he keeps in regular contact with, all of whom he keeps under surveillance. To his “children,” he is friend, mentor, lover, and abuser. Between his powers, his age, and his “children,” he has access to immense wealth. He is a sadomasochistic sociopath with nothing but contempt for mortals. He likes to play with his food, and some of his games last for decades.

Johann was completely honest with Rafael and Guy about his motives and his plans for Guy. Rafael, a mere mortal, dared to raise a hand against his superiors, to steal one of Johann’s “children.” That “child” must be replaced, and Johann must have his revenge. Guy must suffer, and then Guy must take his place at Johann’s side. Johann intends to break Guy’s spirit and turn him into a sadistic, unrepentant predator like Johann himself. “Visiting” Guy on his birthday every year to viciously beat him within an inch of his unlife is just one small part of that overall plan. It’s also just fun.

Johann is currently keeping tabs on Guy. Guy’s decision to become a superhero amuses him. Since Guy drank his blood, he has a psychic link to Guy, and since he is so old and powerful, that link has persisted. He refuses to let Guy perish. Even if someone burns Guy to ashes, Johann will have a mind-controlled servant ready to collect those ashes and bleed into them to restore Guy to unlife.

 

Massimo “Mo” Giordano

Guy’s human father. He is one of at least ten “capos” in the Scarpia crime family. Each of the ten to twenty “made men” in his crew pay him $5,000 per month to remain in good standing, and in turn, he kicks $20,000 per month up to “Dapper Donny” Scarpia. He’s never had much of a head for strategy, but he’s always gotten by on brutality and ruthlessness. He has no idea that Guy has come back from the dead, or that Mister Strix has been surveilling him and his crew.

 

Matteo “Matt” Giordano

Guy’s older brother. He is a “made man” in his father’s crew, and it is expected that he will take over as “capo” after his father retires or dies. Matt is a born thug like his father, and they’ve always been close. He spent a couple years in a college he never should have gotten into in the first place, before dropping out to work with Mo. He is secretly gay, but he has maintained a charade of ostentatious heterosexuality since he was a teenager. He has continued to cultivate his reputation as a womanizer even after getting married and having kids. He’s always had a girl on each arm. He keeps his same-sex trysts discreet. He has already murdered one lover who tried to blackmail him, and he will not hesitate to do it again.

 

Flora Russo née Giordano

Guy’s older sister. Mo and Matt are violent thugs, but Flora is a full-blown psychopath. She took to the role of a “Mafia princess” like a shark to water, always getting what she wanted and never caring how. She was the “queen bee” of her class in school, and unlike her older brother Matt, she actually finished college, despite a drug and alcohol problem she has yet to get fully under control. She thinks she's better suited to running the family business than Matt, she's probably right, and she resents her father for passing her over because of old-fashioned sexism. Unlike the rest of her family, who are content to live on Stark Hill until their dying day, she has her sights set firmly on Stone Ridge. When she got older (one could argue that she never really “grew up”), she used her father’s money to start an interior design firm, which she hopes to use to wedge herself into the lives of Bedlam’s wealthy. She married another up-and-coming Mafia “button-man,” who is expected to be “made” any day now. She likes her current husband and children well enough, but she expects to “trade up” eventually, and when she gets that chance, if any of them are more useful to her dead than alive, she won’t lose any sleep over it.

 

Costume & Appearance

Spoiler

His superhero costume consists of a white skintight jumpsuit, mask, and cape, with a profile vaguely evocative of an owl. The chest of the jumpsuit is emblazoned with a white crescent moon set against a black circle. The edges of the cape and gloves are cut with notches suggestive of the feathers on a bird's wings. The gloves are fingerless, so that he can deploy his claws without tearing them. Since his touch doesn’t leave fingerprints, he has no need to cover his entire hand. The mask covers most of his head, but leaves his jaw and the lower half of his face exposed, so that he can bite people and drink their blood. The front of the mask comes to two swept points at the top, creating a profile similar to the head of a horned owl. The bottom of the mask comes to a hook with a slight downward curve over his nose, resembling a raptor's beak.

 

Out of costume, a fan of old movies might compare him to a young (and underslept, and possibly ill) Lee Van Cleef or Basil Rathbone, while an enthusiast for more modern fare would compare him to a mid-1990s Nicolas Cage.

 

His skin is unnaturally pale, and always cold to the touch, regardless of any physical activity or environmental factors. When he exerts himself or uses his powers, his veins may bulge and become visible. If they do, they appear to be black. His build is slender. He was never bulky in life, and when he transformed, most of his fat burned away, and most of his internal organs shriveled and atrophied. His face is all sharp angles, with high, prominent cheekbones, a large nose, and a narrow, pointed chin. His hair is dark, and perpetually messy. Since he has no reflection in mirrors, even if he had much reason to style his hair, he wouldn't be able to see what he was doing. He has thick eyebrows, perpetually arched over eyes set deep in their sockets. His eyes always seem to be surrounded by shadows, regardless of the angle or intensity of light in the area. The irises of his eyes are completely black, indistinguishable from the pupils. The center of each eye is one solid black disk. His hands are slightly larger in proportion to the rest of his body than they should be, the fingers slightly longer. His voice is a deep baritone, surprisingly deep for someone of his size.

 

When he feeds or uses his powers, his appearance becomes even more overtly monstrous. His veins bulge and darken. The blackness at the center of his eyes spreads to cover the entire eyeball. His mouth, canine teeth, and tongue all double in size. His voice deepens by at least a full octave, and takes on an unnatural resonance, with a slight echo independent of the local acoustics. When he growls, he sounds just like a tiger.

 

Current Role & Hooks

Spoiler

As a crimefighter, he has two primary focuses: 1) Supernatural menaces like himself, and 2) The Mafia, particularly the Scarpia syndicate to which his family belongs.

Mister Strix operates almost exclusively in his hometown, Bedlam City. He doesn’t consciously realize it, but like most vampires, he is innately territorial. His instinct is to lay claim to a hunting ground and defend it against all threats. He prefers to remain in the greater Bedlam metro area, but if a specific case takes him beyond city limits, he will follow it.

Since he doesn’t leave forensic evidence behind, surveillance devices don’t register his presence, and he can alter or erase people’s memories, very few people know he even exists. But he has allowed some of the criminals he preys upon to remember enough of their encounters to spread vague rumors about him as a deterrent. He lets them know just enough to be afraid.

 

Design Notes

Spoiler

"Vampire Batman who uses powers to cover for lack of skills."

 

Conceptually, Mister Strix borrows from several real-life superheroes.

 

Visually, with the white costume and lunar motif, he borrows heavily from Moon Knight.

 

Beneath the mask, he's a gender-swapped version of the Post-Crisis / Pre-New52 version of The Huntress, Helena Bertinelli. Like her, he's an Italian-American defector from a Mafia family who rides the line between hero and villain more closely than his fellow costumed crimefighters.

 

As a self-hating vampire turned costumed vigilante, comparisons to The Confessor from Astro City are inevitable.

As a vampire superhero who used to be a medical doctor, comparisons will likewise inevitably be drawn to Morbius.

But his powers and their origin more closely mirror those of Spawn. He’s a vampire instead of a demon, but he’s still a dead man who was transformed into a supernatural creature against his will and incapacitated for five years by his creator in order to isolate him socially and emotionally as one step in a long-term plan to break his spirit.

He also borrows a great deal from James Robinson's post-Zero Hour reboot/retcon of The Shade in Starman, in both appearance and power source.

 

As far as non-comic book sources go, his aesthetic draws on Hellraiser more than I'd consciously realized when I made him. Pale skin, black eyes, deep echoing voice, it gets cold around him...he's Pinhead in white.

 

There's more than a little Reaper from Overwatch in him, too. Aforementioned supernatural deep voice, flitting about in mist form, acting like a '90s edgelord, the whole package. Reaper even has a "Wight" skin that's not far off from Strix's costume.

 

It’s at least a pattern, if not a tradition, for nocturnal vigilantes in the World of Freedom to use names and iconography associated with birds of prey, and Mister Strix is no exception. His costume is basically a photo negative of the first Raven’s outfit, white instead of black, and he’s the only character in the World of Freedom other than the infamous Nazi supervillain “Die Eule” to use an owl as his totem. In cultures and mythologies all around the world, owls have long been associated with death, the supernatural, and specifically vampires and vampire-like creatures. The color white often has similar associations.

 

As far as fictional vampire interpretations, Mister Strix fits in with the likes of Dracula, or the top tier elders from Interview With The Vampire or Vampire: The Masquerade. He's explicitly supernatural and undead, not a mutant or the result of a virus, and he's far more resilient than the vampires of BladeBuffy The Vampire Slayer, or True Blood. He's more of an "elite" vampire.

 

Guy’s immediate family is a shameless ripoff of the Corleones from The Godfather mashed up with the English royal family from The Lion In Winter. His older brother Matt is Sonny Corleone crossed with Richard The Lionheart, secretly gay and a bad enough dude to have not gotten himself killed yet. His younger brother Raff is more like Fredo Corleone or Prince John, if either one was secretly gay and a badass, instead of just being a pathetic dirtbag. His sister Flora is Connie Corleone meets Prince Geoffrey, spoiled and abused but also actively malevolent. His father is a more violent and less charming version of Clemenza. His mother combines elements of Kay Adams and Apollonia Vitelli, while his widow is like a less passive and clueless version of Kay.

 

Headquarters

Spoiler

Guy used to squat in the basement of an abandoned house on Ash Street, but since seizing control of the Twilight Lodge, his fortunes have changed dramatically. Now he sleeps in a mansion, on silk sheets stretched over a king-size mattress.

 

History

Spoiler

Guy Giordano’s life ended just as it was about to begin.

 

Gaetano Giordano was born the third of four children to Luna Giordano, a librarian turned homemaker, and her husband, Mo Giordano, a “made man” who eventually became a “capo” in the Scarpia crime family, reporting directly to "Dapper Donnie" Scarpia. Luna and Mo raised their children in a modest but clean and tasteful house on Stark Hill. The kids all attended Catholic school at “Our Lady of The Five Wounds,” from kindergarten all the way through Senior Year. Their parents lavished more than enough money and praise upon their children to spoil them, but neither their parents nor their teachers “spared the rod.” The family attended church services every week without fail at Saint Fabian’s, alongside all of Stark Hill’s other Catholics of Italian descent. Luna and Mo were both deeply involved with their religious community, and Mo always made sure to check his clothes for bloodstains before leaving for church.

 

Matt, the eldest, was a born thug like his father, so he and Mo always shared a close bond, and Matt quickly slid into the role of heir-apparent. Guy’s psychopathic older sister Flora, meanwhile, took to the role of a “Mafia princess” like a shark to water, always getting what she wanted and never caring how. Guy and his little brother Rafael both had a gentler disposition and a more intellectual leaning, so they had a closer relationship with their mother Luna, and with each other. Guy and Raff figured out quickly that it was more difficult to bully them when they stuck together. Neither Guy nor Rafael wanted anything to do with the “family business,” but they also didn't want to actively oppose their own flesh and blood. They both knew that their future tuition money would be stained with blood, so they felt they needed careers which would let them pay that debt to society. And they both wanted to make their parents proud. Guy became a doctor, while Rafael became a priest. Some narrow-minded people would have guessed that Guy and Rafael were both secretly gay, though never where Mo could hear them. They would have been wrong about Guy, but correct about Rafael. (Nobody would have guessed that Matt, the eldest son, the macho scrapper who always had a girl or two on his arm, was also gay.)

 

Guy spent the first decade of his adult life in Chicago, where he attended university and medical school, and in Detroit, where he completed a residency in emergency medicine. At the teaching hospital in Detroit, he met Adriana Aparo, a fellow resident, and the love of his life. Right after they got their medical licenses, they got engaged, and they left Chicago to spend a year working with Doctors Without Borders, first in Libya, and then in the Congo. When they returned to America, they got married, and bought a house in Bedlam City, excited at the prospect of helping to make it a better place.

 

They were just about to start trying for their first child when Guy suddenly fell ill. He spent three days lethargic, anemic, and barely coherent. Before it even occurred to him to go to a hospital, he was dead.

 

When Rafael got Adriana’s call, he dropped everything and raced to the nearest airport. He knew why the pathologist couldn't figure out Guy’s cause of death. His family thought he was just a priest, but Rafael was trained by a secret arm of the Vatican to be a monster-hunter. Monsters like the elder vampire he had recently slain. Careful, methodical, and relentless, he found the thing’s lair, bypassed its daytime security, and destroyed it in its bed. Rafael was sure that another vampire had turned his brother in retaliation. Guy’s funeral was held three days after his death, and later that night, Rafael stood over his brother’s freshly-dug grave, crossbow in hand, waiting for him to rise.

 

Unfortunately for Rafael, the vampire he had destroyed had a resourceful and vengeful sire, and Rafael was no match for him. The vampire ambushed Rafael, easily overpowering him. He introduced himself as "Johann." Then, filled with manic energy and alternating between sadistic glee and righteous fury, Johann lectured Rafael for what felt like several terrifying yet tedious minutes. At first, Johann complained that Rafael’s “puny mortal mind” could not possibly comprehend what it was like to have a friend for centuries, how that bond was older than the nation in which they stood, and it was beyond insult for his “child” to meet death at the hands of an “insect.” Johann then explained that, since Rafael had killed a member of his “family,” it was only fair for Johann to choose a replacement from Rafael’s. He argued that “good men” like Guy always made great vampires, once “their illusions of ‘compassion’ and ‘decency’ were stripped away from them with a thousand slings and arrows of trauma and disappointment.” Johann expected the process to take at least a century, even in a city as terrible as Bedlam.

 

Johann had spent three days drinking Guy's blood, and feeding his own blood to Guy. On the third day, he drained Guy to the point of death. After three days of lying dead yet unnaturally well-preserved, Guy clawed his way out of his own grave. Mad with thirst, the new vampire sank his fangs into the first mortal he saw: His little brother, "Raff." Guy drained Rafael dry. When he drank Rafael’s blood, he also heard Rafael’s thoughts and memories, as if they were his own. Once he drank his fill, the bloodlust evaporated, and Guy knew everything Johann had told Rafael as if he'd heard it with his own ears. Guy looked down at his dead brother, at the blood on his hands, fell to his knees, and cried out in the kind of anguish and despair he couldn't have imagined while he was alive. Johann smiled, told him "Happy Birthday," and stabbed him in the heart with a wooden stake. Guy quickly lost consciousness, assuming he was dying for the second time.

 

He didn't expect to wake up again, but he did when Johann yanked the stake out of his ribs. Guy staggered to his feet, in the same graveyard where he'd fallen. Johann wished him another “Happy Birthday,” promised to visit him again, bid him “Auf Wiedersehen,” and vanished. Disorientated, terrified, Guy’s first thought was of his wife, Adriana. He raced to their home, only to learn that it wasn't “their home” anymore. Adriana was there, but so was her new husband, and their child. Guy could only bear watching them for a minute or two, long enough to determine to his satisfaction that they were in no immediate danger. Then he looked down to see the grass dying beneath his feet. He ran back to his grave, where he found a large wooden crate waiting on top of it. Inside was an exquisite mahogany casket, with a large red ribbon around it, tied in a bow. Guy smashed it to pieces.

 

Guy spent the next year in the shadows, barely surviving. He spent days sleeping in sewers, abandoned basements, and hastily dug holes in the dirt, rarely staying in the same place twice. He spent the nights keeping tabs on his family and trying to figure out what exactly had happened to him. He knew that he was a “vampire,” but that could mean a hundred different things. He quickly discovered that Johann had kept him in suspended animation for five years. He spent many nights at local libraries, catching up on recent history and researching his “condition.” An academic at heart, he felt more “at home” during those library nights than anywhere else. Being able to ignore alarms and surveillance equipment, hypnotize guards, and slip through locked doors as a cloud of mist allowed him the run of the place.

 

When he needed blood, he would grab sewer rats, or hypnotize the employees at the less ethical animal “shelters,” so he could drain the cats and dogs already scheduled for execution. At first, he made the mistake of trying to subsist entirely on animal blood. But he learned the hard way that the inferior quality (for his purposes) of animal blood would only satisfy his undead body for so long. After the first time he snapped and almost killed a random person on the street, he made an effort to regularly “infuse” his “diet” with human blood. He limited his human feeding to whatever criminals and corrupt cops he could find, often guys he recognized as his father’s employees and associates.

 

At one point, he decided that he needed to be destroyed, and even if suicide was a sin, the greater sin would be continuing to live as a monster. So he fought through his instinct to sleep during the day, and he tried to walk out into the sun. He was terribly burned, but he discovered that his undead body had a powerful instinct for self-preservation, one he could not overcome. He fled the light, slept deeper than ever before, woke up thirstier than ever before, and by the time he regained the capacity for rational thought, he was standing over the half-drained body of what was now the second random person he had almost murdered. After that debacle, he stopped trying to kill himself.

 

At the end of that first year, Guy’s hunting happened to take him past Saint Romuald’s church during a break-in. He normally tried to give churches a wide berth, since he found even the sight of a cross uncomfortable. But innocent people were in danger, and he needed human blood to stay sane. He managed to suppress his instincts enough to enter the back office of the church, where he found a gang of the lowliest Shady Meadows bikers who were high enough on meth to think it was a good idea to rob the proceeds from a church fund raiser earlier that day. They probably would have lost their nerve if they’d come face to face with the imposing Father Miguel Zalamanca who was normally in residence. But Father Zalamanca was on vacation. Instead, the bikers found Cesare Messina, a 70-year-old retiree and “supply priest” who filled in as needed at parishes all over the city. The bikers were beating Father Messina bloody when Guy interrupted them. After Guy incapacitated the bikers, he slashed open his wrist, and poured his blood into Father Messina’s mouth and onto his wounds. Cuts closed, bruises faded, bones re-set themselves and knitted back together. In a few seconds, Father Messina’s injuries existed only as memories. Guy apologized to Father Messina for defiling the church with his presence. Then he turned back to the bikers, and drank his fill. Afterward, Guy resisted the urge to just hypnotize Father Messina and erase his memory of Guy’s “profane deeds,” like he did with all the other mortals he encountered. Instead, for some reason he couldn't name, he stopped to ask for Father Messina’s consent. Father Messina refused. Instead, Father Messina told him to hide until after the police had come and gone, and then to stay and talk.

 

He accompanied Father Messina to his modest home, where they spoke for most of the night. He confided in the old man. It was the only human contact he’d had in almost a year. After a while, they recognized and remembered each other. Father Messina had worked at Saint Fabian’s when Guy was a child. Father Messina was impressed with Guy’s overseas charity work, horrified by his condition, and intrigued by his situation. Father Messina pointed out that Guy had not chosen this fate, or committed any great sin; this fate had been inflicted upon him by another. Father Messina thought that could mean that there was hope for redemption, that Guy’s current state might even be part of God’s plan for him. Regardless, Father Messina felt that it was his duty to help Guy, even if only to pray for him and take his confessions.

 

Father Messina reminded him that the best way to heal one’s own pain was to help others with theirs. As they spoke, an idea formed between the two of them. Guy could do what everyone with extraordinary abilities and a secret to protect did to help make the world better: He could put on a mask, and become a superhero, “Like Raven, that guy in Freedom City.” Father Messina was an ornithology enthusiast, so when the subject of superheroes came up, Raven's was the first name that came to his mind. Of the decorations in Father Messina's home, the pictures and sculptures of owls outnumbered the Christian imagery by at least ten to one. With little prompting from Guy, Father Messina practically gushed about how owls were found all over the world, in all kinds of environments, and how they appear in the myths of almost every culture on the planet, usually as demons or psychopomps. Guy mentioned a local legend he’d heard in the Congo about how owls hunted humans to eat their souls. That reminded Father Messina that while the more popular modern vampire myths describe them transforming into bats, in older stories, they turned into owls. Just like that, Guy knew what form his disguise should take. The tailor who would later craft it was hypnotized to misremember the job, but he was well-paid.

 

On the night after his first meeting with Father Messina, Johann came back into Guy’s life. Johann attacked him without warning, moving faster than he could see, growing claws that shredded his flesh. Johann slashed him and beat him until he could no longer stand, laughed, and vanished as suddenly as he appeared. “Happy Birthday, my friend. Same time next year?”

 

To Guy's surprise, he laughed too. Johann’s assault had an oddly invigorating effect on him. If Johann was still trying to break him, that meant he wasn't broken yet. His conversations with Father Messina had given him a new sense of purpose, but Johann’s beating gave him a new sense of hope. His existence might be evil, but he could still do some good with it. He might not be a doctor anymore, he wasn't going to let that stop him anymore from doing the same thing in death that he used to do in life: Try to save people.

 

Personality & Motivation

Spoiler

Like any good Catholic, the primary driving force in his life has always been guilt. When he was a child, it was guilt over the apple, and the crucifixion, and not being the son his father wanted. When adolescence opened his eyes a little wider, it was guilt over who his father was and how he made his money. He became a doctor and went to war zones so that he could try to save more lives than his father had destroyed. Now it’s guilt over what he is and what he has to do. In life, he was quiet and gentle, but determined. He always tried to put others before himself. People always told him he was “a good listener.” He loved his wife. He loved his family, even if he didn't like them. He inherited his mother’s love of books, opera, traditional French and Italian cooking, and when he got older, coffee and wine. He always seemed to have his nose in a book. He’d lived in war zones, but he’d never really been in a fight. He'd never wanted to hurt anyone. In death, everything that used to define him or bring him joy has been stolen from him. He can’t be with his wife. She isn't his wife anymore. They’ll never raise kids together, or grow old together. He’ll never sleep in their bed again. Another man sleeps there now. He can’t cook anymore, or even brew a cup of coffee. Half the ingredients would rot as soon as he walked into the kitchen. Even if he could, he couldn't eat or drink, and he wouldn't really want to, because food doesn't smell like food anymore. When he tries to simply read a book, it takes him twice as long as it used to because his thoughts keep drifting to how much he loves the taste of blood and how maybe he should go find some right now. He doesn't get to be a healer anymore. For the sake of the patients, he shouldn't go anywhere near a hospital. He’s a predator who leaves ruin in his wake. He’s a danger to everyone around him. He doesn't get to be himself anymore, because that man is dead. He's dead on paper, and he's dead in the minds of everyone who knew him. Violence now feels as natural to him as breathing used to, and the only thing that truly brings him joy anymore is sinking his fangs into another person’s neck and sucking the blood out of their veins. He hates the thing he’s been turned into, and the things who turned him into it. He’s trying to make the best of it.

 

Personal Life

Spoiler

Guy doesn’t have much of a “personal life” to speak of. Gaetano Giordano is dead, and he intends to stay dead. The certificate is on file with the city government. There is a grave. There was a funeral. Guy spends most of his waking hours in costume as Mister Strix, on patrol or hunting (and the two usually overlap). He used to spend his off hours haunting the local libraries, an easy thing since he didn't trip alarms or show up on cameras, could slip through locked doors in mist form, and could mind-control any guards. Since seizing control of the Twilight Lodge, he spends most of his out-of-costume time at the club, attending to various administrative duties. Fortunately for him, the club's library is at least as extensive as anything funded by the local government (not a high bar to clear, admittedly). On the rare occasion where he is out of costume, interacting with another person, and for some reason not just erasing their memory of the encounter, he refers to himself as “Just some Guy.” Most of his human contact consists of the odd encounter with one of the Lodge's few mortal members, meeting Father Messina for coffee once a week, spying on his widow and her new family to protect them, and spying on his own family to protect other people from them.

 

Playlist

Spoiler

This list represents my personal tastes as much as any thematic elements. Really, any song fits him as long as it falls somewhere in a Venn diagram with circles labeled "Addiction," "Depression," "Self-Hatred," and "Law & Order: SVU."

 

Fear Factory – “Replica” (Lyrics)

Combichrist - "Today I Woke To The Rain of Blood" (Lyrics)

Alice In Chains – “Down In A Hole” (Lyrics)

Pantera – “Tens” (Lyrics)

The Cure – “Burn” (Lyrics)

Gravity Kills – “Here” (Lyrics)

Nine Inch Nails – “Mister Self-Destruct” (Lyrics)
Tool – “Prison Sex” (Lyrics)

Marilyn Manson – “Angel With The Scabbed Wings” (Lyrics)

Machines of Loving Grace – “Golgotha Tenement Blues” (Lyrics)

Metallica – “Bleeding Me” (Lyrics)

 

Powers & Skills

Spoiler

In his mortal life, he was a fully licensed medical doctor with a specialization in emergency medicine, with field experience in multiple war zones.

 

In combat, he is an unskilled brawler, relying entirely on the animal instinct and enhanced physical prowess he gained when he became a vampire. Everything he “knows” about fighting, he learned from movies and television.

 

Popular culture is also his main source of “knowledge” about his own condition. He’s studying all the relevant history and mythology he can get his hands on, but it’s a slow process. The vampire who killed him didn’t tell him anything. Most of what he can do either comes from pure instinct, or is something he read about and decided to try that worked, either immediately or with practice.

 

Mister Strix is a vampire, specifically a Schattenblut Vampire. He is undead, preserved and animated with the life-consuming energy that is the pure darkness of the Schattenwelt, fueled by blood magic.

 

His undead body is far more resilient than his human body was. His skeleton is harder than stone, but just as light as human bone. His flesh feels human to the touch, but displays a resistance to cutting or puncturing more akin to thick leather or Kevlar. His body metabolizes the blood he drinks to sustain his existence, keep him preserved, heal his wounds, and alter his body in ways he is only beginning to explore. He can increase his strength, speed, and agility to superhuman levels, grow claws that can shred metal and stone as if it were paper, or transform into a cloud of mist.

 

His blood can also heal the wounds of others, though consuming his blood can bring unpredictable side-effects. Each individual’s body reacts to his blood in a different way. For some, it is a stimulant, while for others, it is a narcotic. Some people suffer temporary psychological instability, such as hallucinations, catatonia, or violent rage. Some become addicted to it. Some even gain temporary superpowers, like enhanced strength and speed. Magical practitioners would find his blood useful as a component for many different spells, rituals, potions, or other creations.

 

He also has some psychic powers. He can broadcast a psychic command which forces the minds of others to ignore his presence. He can directly hypnotize anyone who looks him in the eye, forcing them to obey all his commands and re-writing their memories.

 

When he bites a living creature and sucks their blood, the combination of sharp fangs, endorphin rush, and blood loss makes it difficult for the victim to understand what is happening or to remember it clearly after the fact, even if he hasn't mesmerized them. Since his blood can heal wounds, he can use his fang to cut his own tongue, then lick the puncture wounds closed with the transfer of blood. This allows his feeding to go mostly undetected.

 

His senses are several orders of magnitude more acute than his "natural prey", normal humans. He can see clearly in total darkness, pick out tiny details at long range, hear frequencies beyond the the normal range of human hearing, and track by scent like a bloodhound. From a distance, he can hear a person’s heartbeat, hear the blood pulsing through their veins, and smell their breath. Like a shark, he can sniff out even tiny amounts of blood from far away. The smell and taste of blood can give him the type of information about its owner that would make a crime lab jealous. When he tastes blood, he can also tap into any psychic resonance it has absorbed, experiencing the memories of its original owner like they were his own.

 

He’s learned the hard way that he has just about every quirk and weakness that’s ever been attributed to vampires in folklore. He doesn't have to worry about running water or being invited into a home, but that’s about it.

 

Timeline

Spoiler

1981

Gaetano “Guy” Giordano is born in Bedlam City.

1999

Guy graduates high school in Bedlam.

Guy moves to Chicago for college.

2003

Guy graduates from university in Chicago.

Guy begins medical school.

2007

Guy graduates from medical school in Chicago.

Guy moves to Detroit to begin residency in emergency medicine.

Guy meets and starts dating Adriana Aparo.

2010

Guy finishes residency in Detroit and obtains medical license.

Guy becomes engaged to Adriana Aparo.

2010-2011

Guy and Adriana spend a year in Libya and the Congo working for Doctors Without Borders.

2011-2012

Guy and Adriana move back to Bedlam City, get married, and buy a house.

2012

Guy’s brother Rafael destroys the vampire “child” of “Johann.”

“Johann” murders Guy.

Three days later, Guy rises from his grave as a vampire, and murders Rafael during his first feeding frenzy.

2012-2017

Immediately after Guy murders Rafael, “Johann” renders Guy comatose with a stake through his heart, then keeps him locked in a box for five years.

Adriana Aparo gets remarried and has a child with her new husband.

2017

“Johann” removes the stake from Guy’s heart and releases him back into the world.

Guy spends most of the year wandering the streets of Bedlam, figuring out how long he’s been gone and what he’s become.

Guy saves Father Messina’s life during a chance encounter.

Father Messina befriends Guy and helps him come up with his superhero identity.

Guy begins operating as the vigilante “Mister Strix” in Bedlam City.

2018

Golgotha Tenement Blues (IN PROGRESS): Mister Strix teams up with Judex and Doctor Thorne against some local street gangs. They learn that he is a vampire.

To Serve and Protect: Mister Strix teams up with Arrowhawk and The Tattered Man against Officer Friendly. Arrowhawk suspects (more or less correctly) that Strix is a "draugr," and hates him for it, but also saves him after Officer Friendly uses his baton to stake Strix through the heart.

Siren Song of The Void (IN PROGRESS): Grimalkin, Set, Sekhmet, and Temperance visit Bedlam City and team up with Mister Strix, quickly learning that he is a vampire.

Enough To Pay For The Coffin (IN PROGRESS): Mister Strix teams up with Hellhound.

Ink: Mister Strix teams up with Doctor Thorne again, and for the first time with Lady Horus, Wadjet and Ronin as well. Lady Horus, Wadjet, and Ronin all learn that he is a vampire, even witnessing him feeding despite his best efforts.

2019

With the help of Dead-Head and Doctor Thorne, Mister Strix takes over The Twilight Lodge.

Bedlam Burning: Beauty & The Beasts (IN PROGRESS): Mister Strix and Dead Head meet Merge Trois while investigating a serial arsonist...

Everyone Is From Somewhere (IN PROGRESS): Mister Strix and Dead Head investigate the Nowhere Men...

Members Only (IN PROGRESS): The Fix investigates The Twilight Lodge...

Red Death Redemption (IN PROGRESS): Dead Head and Lady Horus help Mister Strix deal with the new threat Johann has unleashed upon Bedlam City...

 

Reputation

Spoiler

Mister Strix

 

Gather Information

DC10: "Mister Strix" is an urban myth. Just some graffiti and a spooky story Bedlam's scumbags tell each other.

DC15: Mister Strix is real. Wears all white. Shows up out of nowhere and vanishes without a trace. He fights crime all over Bedlam City, especially when it involves the Mafia. He's the one guy in Bedlam who never takes a cut for himself. He flushes your product and burns your cash.

A character who actively uses their Gather Information skill on Mister Strix will not obtain any of the following information unless they make a point of searching for potentially restricted information. If they do, then they also need to make a contested Gather Information check against Strix. If he wins, then he will be alerted to their inquiries. They can avoid the contested check by taking a -20 penalty to their original Gather Information checks for a Discrete Inquiry (or if the have the relevant challenge feat).

A character using the Well-Informed feat upon first meeting Strix or hearing of him may obtain the following information with a high enough Gather Information check, but since that represents prior knowledge, it will not trigger a contested check against him.

DC20: He only comes out at night. They say it gets cold when he shows up. He's stronger and faster than any man should be. Bullets go right through him like he wasn't there. There's no security he can't beat, and nowhere you can hide from him. The cops have nothing on him. No pics, no video, no prints, no DNA. The guy's a ghost.

DC25: Mister Strix isn't a ghost. He's a vampire. He drinks blood.

The following information cannot be obtained with a Well-Informed check. It can only be obtained with an active use of the Gather Information skill.

DC30: Mister Strix is a member of the Twilight Lodge, a secret club of Bedlam city vigilantes and mystics.

DC35: Mister Strix displays all the signs of an ancient vampire bloodline called the Schattenblut, or "Shadow-Blood". They have a strong connection to the Schattenwelt, even stronger than most of the undead. He isn't just a member of the Twilight Lodge, he's the president.

DC40: Mister Strix is Doctor Gaetano "Guy" Giordano. He died several years ago, and he came back wrong.

 

An appropriate Profession sub-skill can be substituted for any of these skills.

 

Knowledge (Arcane Lore)

DC20: The few eyewitness accounts and rumors regarding Mister Strix indicate that he shows several signs of being some sort of supernatural creature. He seems to be repelled by religious symbols, silver (which used to be thought of as solid light), and herbs like garlic and wolf's bane. He's never been seen in daylight. He leaves cold spots in his passing. Some say his footsteps make no sound and leave no prints, and he has no shadow.

DC25: Mister Strix is definitely a vampire. He has almost every tell in the book.

DC30: Mister Strix displays all the signs of an ancient vampire bloodline called the Schattenblut, or "Shadow-Blood". They have a strong connection to the Schattenwelt, even stronger than most of the undead.

 

Knowledge (Streetwise)

DC10: "Mister Strix" is an urban myth. Just some graffiti and a spooky story Bedlam's scumbags tell each other.

DC15: Mister Strix is real. Wears all white. Shows up out of nowhere and vanishes without a trace. He fights crime all over Bedlam City, especially when it involves the Mafia. He's the one guy in Bedlam who never takes a cut for himself. He flushes your product and burns your cash.

DC20: He only comes out at night. They say it gets cold when he shows up. He's stronger and faster than any man should be. Bullets go right through him like he wasn't there. There's no security he can't beat, and nowhere you can hide from him. The cops have nothing on him. No pics, no video, no prints, no DNA. The guy's a ghost.

DC25: Mister Strix isn't a ghost. He's a vampire. He drinks blood.

 

Knowledge (Theology & Philosophy)

DC25: The few eyewitness accounts and rumors regarding Mister Strix indicate that he shows several signs of being some sort of supernatural creature. He seems to be repelled by religious symbols, silver (which used to be thought of as solid light), and herbs like garlic and wolf's bane. He's never been seen in daylight. Some say his footsteps make no sound and leave no prints, and he has no shadow.

 

Guy Giordano

 

Gather Information

DC10: Gaetano "Guy" Giordano was a physician in Bedlam City.

DC15: Doctor Giordano was born in Bedlam City in 1981. He graduated high school in 1999, university in 2003, and medical school in 2007. He worked at Bedlam General Hospital briefly before dying in 2012. He grew up on Stark Hill. He died at home, in bed, of some undetermined illness. He left behind a widow, Adriana Aparo, also a doctor at Bedlam General.

A character who actively uses their Gather Information skill on Mister Strix will not obtain any of the following information unless they make a point of searching for potentially restricted information. If they do, then they also need to make a contested Gather Information check against Strix. If he wins, then he will be alerted to their inquiries. They can avoid the contested check by taking a -20 penalty to their original Gather Information checks for a Discrete Inquiry (or if the have the relevant challenge feat).

A character using the Well-Informed feat upon first meeting Strix or hearing of him may obtain the following information with a high enough Gather Information check, but since that represents prior knowledge, it will not trigger a contested check against him.

DC20: Guy Giordano and Adriana Aparo met when they both attended university and medical school in Chicago. They completed their emergency medicine residencies in Detroit, then spent a year with Doctors Without Borders in Libya and the Congo. They had just gotten married and bought a house a few months before he died. She remarried a few years later. She has a daughter with her new husband. Guy's younger brother Rafael was a Catholic priest. He was violently murdered just a few days after Guy passed away. They're buried next to each other. Guy's family is in deep with the Bedlam Mafia.

DC25: Rafael Giordano was murdered right on top of his older brother's grave, the night after he was interred. Guy Giordano father is one of "Dapper Donny" Scarpia's "capos", his older brother is a made man and his father's heir apparent, and his brother-in-law is a button man in a different crew who's well on his way to being made.

The following information cannot be obtained with a Well-Informed check. It can only be obtained with an active use of the Gather Information skill.

DC30: Accounts of Guy's illness and death are consistent with folklore about demonic possession and attacks by supernatural creatures such as succubi and vampires. His grave is empty. There's a casket buried there, but there's nothing in it.

DC35: Guy Giordano is a vampire. After he died, he dug himself out of his own grave, killed his brother in a feeding frenzy on the spot, then disappeared.

DC40: Guy Giordano is the vigilante Mister Strix.

 

An appropriate Profession sub-skill can be substituted for any of these skills.

 

Knowledge (Life Sciences) or Medicine

DC10: Guy Giordano and Adriana Aparo were both licensed and board-certified physicians with a specialty in emergency medicine.

DC15: Doctors Giordano and Aparo went to college and medical school in Chicago, and completed their residencies in Detroit. They spent a year with Doctors Without Borders, in Libya and the Congo.

DC20: Doctors Giordano and Aparo both worked in the emergency room at Bedlam General Hospital. She continued working there after his death.

 

Knowledge (Streetwise)

DC10: The Giordano family are Italian-Americans who live on Stark Hill. They're probably at least friendly with the Bedlam Mafia.

DC15: Guy Giordano's father, Massimo "Mo" Giordano, is part of the Bedlam City Mafia. So are his older brother, Matteo "Matt" Giordano, and his brother-in-law.

DC20: The Giordano boys are part of the Scarpia family. They've all got some blood on their hands.

DC25: Mo Giordano is one of at least ten "capos" working directly under "Dapper Donny" Scarpia himself. His son Matt is a made man, part of his crew and his heir apparent. Mo's son-in-law is a button-man in another capo's crew, who's going to be made any day now.

 

Knowledge (Theology & Philosophy)

DC10: Like most people on Stark Hill, the Giordano family are Catholic.

DC15: Guy's younger brother, Rafael Giordano, was a Catholic priest.

DC20: Rafael Giordano was violently murdered a few days after his brother passed away from some undefined illness. They're buried next to each other.

DC25: Rafael Giordano was murdered right on top of his older brother's grave, the night he was interred. He wasn't just a priest. He was an elite Vatican-sponsored monster-hunter, with multiple confirmed kills.

DC30: Both Rafael and his brother appear to have been murdered by vampires.

 




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