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Character Help? - Nightshade (formerly Hecate), PL10


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I don't really have any experience playing Mutants and Masterminds before, so I'd like it if someone could give me some opinions on my character. I do have Hero Lab, so all the math should be right. All the fluff is under construction, and I should have much more detail before I officially publish her. Also, if someone could explain the difference between "mystic" and "magic", that would really help.

Player Name: Tira

Character Name: Nightshade

Power Level: 10 (150/150PP)

Trade-Offs: None

Unspent Power Points: 0

Progress To Bronze Status: 0/30

In Brief: A prodigy of dark magic out to use her talents for good.

Alternate Identity: Rachael Sullivan, Ravenna Blackwood

Identity: Dubiously secret - she hasn't made it public, but there's very little difference between Ravenna and Nightshade

Birthplace: , MA

Occupation: College Student

Affiliations: (People and/or groups you work with)

Family: Melchior Blackwood (father), Erika Sullivan (mother, divorced), Lucifer Blackwood (grandfather)


Age: 19 (DoB: 12/12/1991)

Gender: Female

Ethnicity: Eurasian

Height: 5’ 6â€

Weight: 125 lbs.

Eyes: Purple

Hair: Black

Ravenna, or Rachael as she now goes by, tends to fade into the background. Her small, heart-shaped face is hidden by her rather choppy black hair, which is in sharp contrast to her pale skin. Her style of dress is simple and typical for a college student, with a preference for dark colors. She rarely speaks too loudly, and her voice has a slightly raspy quality to it.

As Nightshade, however, she appears far more imposing. Her costume is fairly simple - a dark purple leotard and shadowy grey cape. Long gloves and boots finish off the costume. It's not so much that she looks more intimidating as it is that she seems more confident. While she rarely raises her voice, she rarely has a problem being heard.

Power Descriptions:

All of Nightshade’s spells draw on the power of shadows. They are usually represented by movements in the shadows, that seem to darken and deepen as they move to her command. She generally does not use any incantations, directing her magic mainly through the use of hand motions.


Despite claims to an extensive history, the Blackwood clan didn't actually exist until the mid-sixties, when Lucas Wood changed his name to Lucifer Blackwood and took up the study of black magic. He used his mystical power to start a career as a supervillain, and was responsible for the theft of several powerful artifacts, as well as the death of their owners. Unfortunately for the newly-renamed Lucifer, he soon plateaued. He was strong enough to pose a threat to the stronger heroes, but not enough to actually defeat them. He managed to avoid capture, but none of his more grandiose plans ever came to fruition. After a decade of unsuccessful plotting, he retired from active villainy, and began to focus on building a legacy, so that his descendants could achieve the success he never managed. His son, the unfortunately christened Melchior, wasn't particularly powerful either, but that changed with the birth of his granddaughter.

Ravenna (who only avoided being named Pandora or Thanata thanks to her mother's intervention) had the natural ability the rest of her family lacked, and they were determined to use it to their best advantage. Even as a child, she was trained in the Dark Arts, and when it came time for her to enter school, Lucifer decided that she was to be homeschooled. While Ravenna excelled at magic, she did not take to the family's indoctrination as well, out of contrariness as much as anything else. Perhaps she would have become the super-villain her family wanted her to be, if not for a major change when she was eight.

Erika, tired of the melodrama associated with the Blackwoods, got a divorce and moved from their small Massachusetts hometown to Freedom City. Lucifer was too old to run the mainstream "occult" shop the family maintained to make a living at this point, and Ravenna was sent to public school as no-one had the time to actually educate her. Ravenna struggled to fit in, due to both her quiet nature and the odd focus of her previous education, but for the first time she made friends. She also became a voracious reader, especially of fantasy books. Before long, Ravenna decided that she didn't want to conquer the world and be a bad guy like her family did - she wanted to be a hero.

After Ravenna completed seventh grade, Melchior decided that she was old enough to help out in the store. Ravenna was extremely unhappy to be pulled out of school, and began to quietly rebel against her family. She also started saving her money and planning how she was going to get away. By the time she was eighteen, she had enough for her goal - a one-way bus ticket to Freedom City. Erika wasn't exactly excited to have her daughter turn up after ten years, but she allowed Ravenna to move in. Ravenna legally changed her name, and despite her dubious school records, managed to be enrolled at FCU as an English major, where she tried to settle into a vaguely normal life. However, she still hadn't given up her dreams of heroism, and decided to use her magic for the opposite of its original intentions.

Personality & Motivation:

Ravenna is quiet, distant, and rather standoffish. Although she tries to be friendly, she frequently struggles with actually coming off that way. She tends to be very quiet in most situations, preferring to sit back and let the action happen around her. As Nightshade, she is more confident, as she feels as though she is really in her element. She is still quiet and tends to hang in the shadows, but she demonstrates a great deal of determination and inner strength. Although she is devoted to good, she sometimes takes a more pragmatic approach to things and focuses more on the ends than the means.

If you asked Nightshade why she became a hero, she would probably mention her family's past. She feels responsible both for their past actions and the path they intended her to take, and so tries to make up for it by using her powers for good. But on a deeper level, what she's really looking for, even more than forgiveness, is approval, not just for what she can do but for who she is.

Powers & Tactics:

Nightshade prefers to use stealth and strike from the shadows. Frequently she will blind or bind her opponents, making them easy targets for her Darkbolts. She tries to avoid using her Shadow Puppetry, especially in combat, but will if pushed, or if she needs a mole.


Family Ties: Ravenna’s family is very interested in getting her back.

Prejudice: As a practitioner of dark magic and a member of a distinctively villainous family, some people are unlikely to trust her.

Abilities: 0 + 6 + 0 + 6 + 8 + 4 = 24PP

Strength: 10 (+0)

Dexterity: 16 (+3)

Constitution: 10 (+0)

Intelligence: 16 (+3)

Wisdom: 18 (+4)

Charisma: 14 (+2)

Combat: 12 + 20 = 32PP

Initiative: +3

Attack: +6 Melee, +10 Ranged

Grapple: +9

Defense: +10 (+10 Base), +5 Flat-Footed

Knockback: -2

Saving Throws: 5 + 3 + 5 = 13PP

Toughness: +10 (+10 Force Field, Impervious)

Fortitude: +5 (+0 Con, +5)

Reflex: +6 (+3 Dex, +3)

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

Skills: 24R = 6PP

Bluff 2 (+4)

Intimidate 6 (+8)

Knowledge(arcane lore) 8 (+11)

Sense Motive 2 (+6)

Stealth 6 (+9)

Feats: 9PP

Attack Focus: Ranged 4

Fascinate (Intimidate) 1

Hide in Plain Sight 1

Ritualist 1

Startle 1

Trance 1

Powers: 23 + 22 + 1 + 20 = 66PP

All powers have Darkness, Magic, and Mystic descriptors

Darkness Control 7 (Range: 100 ft., Radius: 500ft.Extras: Area (Cloud); Power Feats: Selective) [22 pp]

Force Field 10 (+10 Toughness Extras: Impervious) [20 PP]

Immunity 1 (Own Powers) [1pp]

Magic 10 (20PP Array Power Feats: Alternate Powers 3) [23PP]

  • Base Power: Blast 10 (Range: 100 ft., DC 25 ) [20PP]

    Alternative Power: Mind Control 10 (DC 20; Power Feats: Mental Link; Drawbacks: Noticeable(Strings coming off shadow)) [21PP]

    Alternative Power: Snare 10 (Range: 100 ft., DC 20) [28PP]

    Alternative Power: Teleport 10 (1000 ft. as move action; Extras: Accurate; Flaws: Medium(Natural Shadows)) [28PP]

Drawbacks: 0PP

Abilities (24) + Combat (32) + Saving Throws (13) + Skills (6) + Feats (9) + Powers (66) - Drawbacks (0) = 150/150 Power Points


ATTACK            RANGE        SAVE                   EFFECT

Unarmed		     Touch		  DC15 Toughness (Staged)   Damage (Physical)

Blast 10       	Ranged	    DC25 Toughness            Damage (Physical)

Mind Control 10   Perception	DC20 Will                 Can control target's mind

Snare 10     	  Ranged 		DC20 Reflex (Staged)      Target is pinned

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Hey Tifa, good call using Character Building to get help. I'd suggest staying away from Hero Lad, since it doesn't account for our House Rules and messes up your format, but it can give you a place to start.

Couple of things with regard to the character herself before even looking at the mechanics, however. Naming a magic user 'Ravenna Blackwood' is, well... lets just say a lot of people are going to have trouble taking her seriously both in and out of character. If it sounds like something that would appear in a florid Teen Titans/Dresden Files crossover fanfic, that should probably be a red flag for you.

It also important to remember that any magic user here should really be more Doctor Strange than the cast of Charmed, since this is a superhero site, not an urban fantasy site. There's some definite similarities, no question, but the genre conventions you can and can't get away with are markedly different.

Just so we have some context to frame advice with, what's your background regarding superheroes? Have you watched Justice League Unlimited, read the actual comics, only seen the X-Men movies? It's fine either way, but knowing will help us give you examples you'll be more familiar with!

Looking at the mechanical side very briefly, there's no reason to buy all of those powers separately. Use an Array! Save yourself bags of points! And goodness me, bring her up to combat caps. +5 Attack and +6 Defense on a PL10 character is just not feasible in practice.

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Right, on the difference between magic and mystic... frankly, there isn't one. Like psychic/psionic, they're essentially the exact same thing when it comes to Immunities, Nullifies, Drains and Boosts.

However, a common terminology thing out of character is the difference between mystics and people with the magic descriptor. The Mystic archetype, as given in the books, is a straight-up spellcaster, like Doctor Strange or Harry Dresden. The magic descriptor, however, isn't so much an archetype as a power descriptor. For example, the "SHAZAM!" Captain Marvel has the magic descriptor, but isn't a mystic (i.e. not a mage)

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Actually, I found M&M through Hero Lab - I got it for the D&D and WoD options and then ended up checking out the M&M stuff.

Yeah, I was aware that the name was kind of cheesy sounding, but I thought it kind of fit, and a family of warlocks would probably a.) change their name to something that sounds appropriately "dark", and b.) give their daughter a name she could use when/if she became a supervillain. I can definitely come up with something more normal if you think it'll be a problem.

I'll admit that my superhero background isn't that deep - mostly either Teen Titans or the Outsiders, with the Bronze-Age Teen Titans being my favorite. I've also seen pretty much all the Marvel superhero movies that have been released in recent years, and caught a bit of the Teen Titans and Batman Beyond cartoons. I spend a lot of time on TVTropes, which, while I know that it's no substitute for, y'know, actual knowledge, means that I have plenty of general knowledge.

I'm not familiar with Doctor Strange (or Charmed), but nearly all her powers were inspired by Dr Archeville's Darkness/Shadow magic write-up, so I assumed that her magic would fit the standards here. I don't really have much frame of reference for her st ats, either; +5 isn't bad for a level 10 wizard in D&D. I'll definitely look into moving her powers to an array as well.

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Reference from stats is

18: Exceptional

20: Best in country

22: Best in world

24: Best ever in history

26+: Superhuman

My take on this is: whilst there are plenty of Superheroes walking around with INT and (less often) WIS of 30 or above (and this being M&M there is some flexibility about whether that is actually "mutant" or not), you can still assume that an INT of 18 is a genius by "real world" standards - Unless you think there is only one genius per country (which clearly is not the case). Even INT 16 would be someone very, stand-out, bright, like one of the smartest (if not the smartest) kids in school.

So yeah, I would say INT 18 and WIS 20 makes your character extremely cerebral! Of course, it's not required in this setting. You could technically have all those powers just as effective with lower INT and WIS (or even average scores). But it probably wouldn't fit with your concept?

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The Abilities seem to be more or less the same as D&D, and I do see her as being a very mentally-focused character. But I'm used to magic-users having lousy Attack and pretty low defenses, which doesn't seem to be the case here. I'll definitely play with re-arranging her powers.

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The Abilities seem to be more or less the same as D&D, and I do see her as being a very mentally-focused character. But I'm used to magic-users having lousy Attack and pretty low defenses, which doesn't seem to be the case here. I'll definitely play with re-arranging her powers.

Thats entirely possible. There are two ways to do that:

Firstly, get Accurate (or attack specialisation feat) for her magic array, meaning that her magic attacks will have a high attack bonus, and her base attack will remain low. House rules here say that at least 1/3 of your total attack bonus has to come from base attack, so you could get +4 base attack, and then 3 ranks of accurate feat (giving +6 bonus to magic attacks) meaning her magical attacks are at +10.

Secondly, trading off attack/damage and defence/toughness. So you could lower your final attack bonus and raise damage (or DC) of an attack, or visa versa. In the case of defence / toughness you could (for instance) keep defence at +6 and raise toughness to +14 via a bigger funkier force-field (such as the sorcerer stretching out his hand and the target erupting in flames, for instance).

FInally of course some magic attacks might be perception ranged (an extra) which means you just need to accurately perceive a character and you "hit", no roll needed. This might suit some magic spells.

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Tira, I can't seem to find where the Force Field power (the source for your Toughness) is listed. Is it supposed to be part of a Device, or part of the All-Consuming Aura Array? Because if you're putting it in the latter, you may want to think twice about that - putting a Toughness-based power (especially one with Sustained Duration) in an Array can be a risky thing.

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Hmm. That's going to lead to further problems.

A) Your character is PL10 and has an effective Toughness of +5. This wouldn't be bad if she was Defense-shifted (+15 Defense, +5 Toughness), giving things a much tougher time of hitting her, but she just has Defense +10 in her current build. That means if something hits her, it's going to hurt.

B) That Shield is still part of an Array. If she wants to switch it out for Absorption, her Defense is going to drop for the round -- and as she has lowered Toughness to make up for it, she's going to be absolutely vulnerable.

My recommendations are to figure out if you want her Defense-shifted, or if you want her to have straight-up Toughness +10 and Defense +10. Judging by your focus on the Shield, you want a Defense-oriented character, so I recommend buying it up to that level. I also recommend stripping it out of an Array. As someone who's played a Mystic who was told "Don't put your primary protective power in an Array," I'd recommend buying it as a Device. Easy to Lose or Hard to Lose is your choice, but it'll cost slightly less and you could try folding Absorption into it without resorting to an Array.

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Messed around with things for what is hopefully the last time, and added more for her history and personality. All I've got left is the description. I stuck with Ravenna - yeah, it sounds kind of cheesy, but I can't really think of her as anything else. Does everything look okay?

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One suggestion I have is for Nightshade's civilian ID to identify as some other name in usual life, if only to clear up a slight issue with how she evades the Random Thugs sent to bring her back to the Dark Manse or whatever. It would help a lot in making her more believable in the scale of 'realism' this site uses. Someone named Ravenna Blackwood wouldn't be very inconspicuous.

Also, you need to explain what precisely makes the Blackwoods so Evil, because as far as can be told they just seem like Bizarro hippies with more ambition than brains. Now, it would be a great departure from genre conventions like 'everyone who tries to do evil in comics always gets loads of moola and deals with the devil and asdlfghjkl!', but without knowing what makes the Blackwoods Evil other than 'they are creepy douches who actively try to get into evil magic, and indoctrinate children', her rebellion makes her less like a heroine and more like an arbitrary teen push against authority.

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