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Trollthumper's Heroes Around the World

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Seems like everyone's got their particular hot streak these days. Ecal's running with Improved Archetypes. AA's running with his Oddballs. And now I've hit my particular streak of ideas -- a look at the heroing scene beyond Freedom. A look at tweaking international heroes, providing a thread that's equal parts NPC bank and character build ideas.

The thread's designed to try and put a twist on some old ideas. I'm sure we're familiar with comics that try to go multicultural but just kind of fall into stereotype. Irish heroines with luck powers, Chinese heroes with duplication powers, Aborigine heroes that seem to all get their powers from the Dreamtime, etc. This is not a guarantee that the thread won't accidentally take a misstep into the realm of the cliche -- I am just one man, and my world knowledge has its share of holes. So, if something reeks, feel free to poke it with a stick.

Likewise, feel free to cannibalize anything you see here. Whether you want to use these guys as NPCs to present a look at life beyond Freedom (or as an invitation to bring the heroes into another city), or to help even out a build, go ahead. This thread is a communal resource.


North America

Los Angeles, CA, USA -- Scheherazade

San Francisco, CA, USA -- The Midnight Judge

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So, we're gonna start a little closer to home, working our way around America first. I'll try to show the same attention when I get out of the US, however -- not a big fan of the "Paris is the only city in France" school of storytelling. Let us start on the other coast, and the city of smog and starlight. And we begin with our storyteller...

Scheherazade (PL10)

Base of Operations: Los Angeles

"Once, there was a storm..."

Description and Personality: Laila is sleek, beautiful, and knows how to "play her parts" well. Out of costume, Laila tends to relax in designer jeans, blouses, and heels. She effaces a warm, bubbly personality, while still managing to be the model of professionalism on set.

As Scheherazade, her manner becomes cool and reserved. She adopts a traditional manner of dress that's embellished with the mystical -- a gray veil, tunic and pants with passages from the 1001 Arabian Knights in Farsi woven through in silver thread. When she speaks, usually to craft a story, her words cut like knifes and carry great weight.

History: Laila Haftgoli was the daughter of refugees of the Iranian Revolution. Her parents had fled to Los Angeles as children, met at college, and married. She grew up on the shores of Santa Monica, and quickly came to fall for the allure of Hollywood. From a childhood of Saturday afternoon movies on cable to teenage years spent watching the stars in the Hills, Laila knew she wanted to get into the industry -- not as an actress, but as a creator.

She went to USC to pursue a major in screenwriting. It was during work on her senior project, however, that things started to get weird. Wanting to write a more contemporary take on the Arabian Nights, she went searching for a more "authentic" take on the original text, and came across a text in a small store in Studio City. In the nights after she read the book, she began having strange dreams, where she found herself before the throne of Sharyhar, weaving stories that played out before her eyes. The next time she went to write, she began to write her take on "The Tale of the Three Apples" as a noir story set in Cairo... and as she read the story over, she saw the chest at the heart of the story -- and its gory contents -- literally appear on her floor. As she recoiled at the sight within, the chest disappeared.

Trying to figure out what was going on, Laila did some research into the text. She found there was a legend of the original tales told by Scheherazade, written into a book by Sharyhar's viziers. As she read the book further, Laila realized that the text was starting to vanish, page by page. By the end of the school year, there was nothing left but a blank book, and Laila found she could recall -- and visualize -- anything from the text within her mind.

After getting her B.A., Laila went right into the film industry, and into heroism as well. Unlike other heroes, she decided to use her powers for an artistic end as well as an altruistic one. She got a job at a small special effects house in Burbank, and began using her powers to weave illusions -- both on-set and in celluloid -- greater than any computer could achieve. The job not only provided Laila with fiancial security and got her a solid reputation in the industry, but also gave her the free time she needed to take to the streets of Los Angeles, fighting crime and solving crises as Scheherazade, weaver of tales.

Power Points: 150

Trade-Offs: DEF -1/TOU +1

Abilities [24 PP]

STR 10 (0)

DEX 14 (+2)

CON 12 (+1)

INT 14 (+2)

WIS 18 (+4)

CHA 16 (+3)

Combat [16 PP]

Initiative: +2

Attack: +10 (+4 Base)

Grapple: +4

Defense: +9 (+4 Base, +5 Dodge Focus), +2 Flat-Footed

Knockback: 0, -5

Saving Throws [14 PP]

Toughness: +11/+1

Fortitude: +4 (+1 CON, +3)

Reflex: +8 (+2 DEX, +6)

Will: +9 (+4 WIS, +5)

Skills [17 PP]

Bluff 4 (+7, +11 Attractive)

Concentration 6 (+10)

Diplomacy 8 (+11, +15 Attractive)

Disguise 4 (+7)

Drive 2 (+4)

Gather Information 4 (+7)

Intimidate 4 (+7)

Knowledge (arcane lore) 8 (+10)

Knowledge (current events) 4 (+6)

Knowledge (pop culture) 6 (+8)

Knowledge (theology) 4 (+6)

Language (English [native], Farsi, Spanish, French, Arabic)

Notice 6 (+10)

Sense Motive 4 (+8)

Feats [21 PP]

Accurate Attack


Attack Focus (ranged) 6

Defensive Roll 5

Dodge Focus 5

Eidetic Memory


Quick Change

Powers [61 PP]

Create Object 9 (Extras: Moveable, Duration/Continuous) (Flaws: Feedback) (Power Feats: Precise, Progression 3 (50 sq. feet), Stationary, Tether) (33 PP)

Illusion (all senses) 6 (Power Feats: Progression 3) (27 PP)

Drawbacks [3 PP]

Power Loss (Create Object, Illusion; lose powers when unable to speak; common, moderate) (3 pts.)

Attributes (24) + Combat (16) + Saving Throws (14) + Skills (17) + Feats (21) + Powers (61) - Drawbacks (3) = 150 PP

Thought Process:

My main inspiration here was a minor hero from Gail Simone's JLA Classified run who could create things by telling stories about them ("Once, there was a rhino..." *rhino rams tank*). Thinking about how to incorporate this into Los Angeles and the film industry, I instantly fell on one of the minority groups of the city that doesn't tend to get much media attention -- Iranians who fled the Revolution -- and by proxy, the Arabian Nights. I know it's a little bit Orientalist, playing on the "mysterious East" stereotypes, but I tried to balance it out by making Laila someone quite different from the stereotypical "silent, arcane woman in a headscarf" - a high-spirited, joyful yet professional women who managed to assimilate perfectly into American culture while still reflecting her roots.

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Sorry for the delay there, real life got in the way fast and furious. This time, we skip up the Californian coast to the City by the Bay, where we meet the mysterious man who's apparently stalked the night for over a century:

Midnight Judge (PL 10)

Base of Operations: San Francisco, CA

"Your business is not appreciated here. I recommend you leave. Now."

Description and Personality: In his civilian personality, Charles Lim is one of San Francisco's power brokers. As the president and CEO of Cerulean Orchid Technologies, he has a solid reputation as a cunning businessman, philanthropist, and all-around charmer. He's more often than not seen in suits and ties, with the rare photo of him dressed in "power casual" attending a 49ers game.

As the Midnight Judge, Lim adopts the costume his family has for decades -- a black robe and fearsome mask over armor. Where his ancestors went for boiled leather and steel plating, however, Lim's pioneered a nomex-kevlar blend that allows for full mobility while ensuring protection. One of his other additions to the costume is a pair of heavy sap gauntlets that add weight to his punches. He's cordial, if curt, to other heroes, and only says what needs to be said to criminals. Everything after that is answered by silence and blows.

History: The Midnight Judge has protected the streets of San Francisco's Chinatown for over a century now. The locals, while grateful for their silent defender, whisper about his origins. Some say he's an immortal alchemist who uses secret Taoist arts to enhance his body and his mind. Others say he's the ghost of a lynched railroad worker who returned to wreak vengeance upon the unjust after making a deal with one of the Yama Kings.

The truth is much simpler: the Midnight Judge is immortal not through magic, but through name. The first Judge was Zhang Lim, an apothecary who came to San Francisco in 1875 after fleeing a false charge from a corrupt magistrate back in China. He set up shop as a pharmacist, helping the other immigrants deal with their worries both physical and spiritual. Weighing most heavily on the immigrants, however, was the hostility shown towards them by some of their new countrymen. Workers tended to regard Chinamen as threats to the job market, while local politicians played up the idea of the "yellow peril" to get votes. When a neighbor was killed in a savage beating by four unemployed railroad workers, Zhang decided the community needed a defender. Working in the backroom of his pharmacy, he developed smoke bombs that could make the staunchest man's eyes water, a lash that could knock a man over with the lightest stroke, and armor of boiled leather to protect himself. He took to the streets as the Midnight Judge, and spread a simple message: Chinatown is not to be touched.

So began the legacy of the Judge. At first a figure of suspicion -- the "Yellow Man in the Black Mask," as one tabloid rag dubbed him -- he moved beyond Chinatown to strike at other threats to the city's safety. His struggle with the Triads was the stuff of legends -- every time they tried to push out, the Judge pushed back just as hard. The first "death" of the Judge came on the eve of the 1906 earthquake, as a fight with the Triad's "enlightened" hitman Silent Tiger's Claw resulted in the explosive destruction of the warehouse they were battling in. In the aftermath of the quake, however, the Judge returned, rescuing those trapped by the rubble.

In secret, this was the first passing of the Midnight Judge legacy. Zhang Lim had died in battle with Silent Tiger's Claw, as he had felt he would. He had told his son, Cao, the night before that he would need to take on his mantle. Cao had spent the night hoping for his father's survival, but when he failed to return, Cao put aside his mourning, donned the garb of the Judge, and went out to aid the city.

And so the legacy continued for decades. Cao's son, Guan, helped keep the streets of Chinatown safe from gang wars during Prohibition. His son, Xhu, helped drive back the Axis super-soldiers during World War II. Xhu's son, Michael, oversaw San Fran's rebirth into a city of the fringe, and took his fight to some of the stranger things lurking in the shadows. And his son, Charles, has worn the mantle into the dawn of the new millennium, keeping his neighborhood safe, his town secure, and the legend of the Midnight Judge alive.

Power Points: 150

Trade-Offs: ATT +2/DMG -2, DEF +2/TOU -2

Attributes [38 PP]

STR 18 (+4)

DEX 16 (+3)

CON 18 (+4)

INT 14 (+2)

WIS 16 (+3)

CHA 16 (+3)

Combat [32 PP]

Initiative: +7 (+3 DEX, +4 Improved Initiative)

Attack: +8 (+12 Strike)

Grapple: +12

Defense: +12 (+8 base, +4 Dodge Focus), +4 Flat-Footed

Knockback: -2, -4 (Costume)

Saving Throws [19 PP]

Toughness: +8/+4

Fortitude: +10 (+4 CON, +6)

Reflex: +10 (+3 DEX, +7)

Will: +9 (+3 WIS, +6)

Skills [31 PP]

Acrobatics 8 (+11)

Bluff 8 (+11)

Climb 8 (+12)

Disable Device 6 (+8)

Escape Artist 5 (+8)

Gather Information 10 (+13)

Intimidate 12 (+15)

Investigate 8 (+10)

Knowledge (current events) 8 (+10)

Knowledge (streetwise) 10 (+12)

Knowledge (tactics) 6 (+8)

Notice 8 (+11)

Search 8 (+10)

Sense Motive 8 (+11)

Stealth 11 (+14)

Feats [30 PP]

Accurate Attack


Attack Specialization (Strike) 2

Benefit 3 (Alternate Identity, Face of the Community, Wealth)


Dodge Focus 4

Equipment 5 (25 EP)


Improved Grab

Improved Initiative

Improved Trip


Master Plan

Prone Fighting

Quick Draw

Sneak Attack


Takedown Attack 2


Bag of Tricks Array (Power Feats: Alternate Power 2) (12 EP)

Main Power: Seven-Powders Bomb (Dazzle 5 (visual)) (10 PP)

AP: Biting Lash (Trip 10) (10 PP)

AP: Stinging Dart (Blast 4) (Power Feats: Improved Ranged Disarm, Ranged Pin) (10 PP)

Costume [9 EP]

Protection 4 (4 PP)

Strike 4 (Power Feats: Mighty) (5 PP)

Grappling Gun [2 EP]

Super Movement 1 (Swinging) (2 PP)

Goggles [2 EP]

Super Senses 2 (Darkvision) (2 PP)

Attributes (38) + Combat (32) + Saving Throws (19) + Skills (31) + Feats (30) + Powers (0) - Drawbacks (0) = 150 PP

Thought Process: When I got up to San Francisco, I decided I wanted to do another hero reflective of the city's minority heritage (don't worry, white people, you'll get fair representation soon). San Francisco is to the East what New York City is to Western Europe -- the ingress points for many of their immigrants back in the 19th century. It's a historical focal point for the Chinese-American population, so I thought a Chinese-American hero would best reflect that. I decided to blend the persona and ingenuity of a Batman type with the Chinese blend of invention and mysticism (fun fact: gunpowder was first discovered by Taoist alchemists) to create a "dark knight" time who takes his imagery from a blend of Taoist mystics and Confucianist judges, with plenty of darkness thrown in for flavor. I realize it's kind of the "inscrutable Oriental" image, but hey, it's a Batman take-off. Inscrutability comes with the territory.

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