Ravnivori Pantheon, Part 1

Fictional divine beings have fascinated me for as long as I can remember.  In fact, I can remember going to the library and using a card catalogue (yes…a card catalogue, that should tell you how long ago it was) to look up Norse gods when I was a kid.  Any chance I get when I’m playing an RPG, I play some sort of divine being whether this be an Eternal in a Marvel game, a demi-god in a Rifts game or something more creative and esoteric in another system that requires more creativity.

Little wonder then, that one of the first things I started to define for the Ravnivori Empire was their pantheon.  It began with 4 gods a sort of polyamorous group representing the sun, earth, air and living things.  Of course, jealousy and murder arose in the midst of this creation myth and one of the gods ended up dead, though he came back, in a way.

Also, while creating these gods, I came up with the need for more trappings to represent their elemental abilities.  So, here are the core gods of my setting (though the 7 Lords of Thunder are not completely defined) as well as the trappings I’ve come up with.

Amaz: Amaz is the goddess of the sun and the patron goddess of the Amazons. She brings heat and warmth to the world but also can be extremely vengeful, turning her wrath upon the world to leave it scorched and parched.

Many farmers pray to Amaz not to give them bountiful crops, for that is the purview of Sivis Kee, but to ask her not to destroy their crops with her heat and light.

Amaz is also a warrior goddess, the goddess of controlled strikes and well timed attacks. She is not brute force and overwhelming strength, that is Tauronus, but she is the proper and efficient usage of force. In this aspect she is the goddess of not only Amazons but also all warriors who depend on skill more than strength.

Amaz was once married to the original Lord of Thunder. His death at the hands of Tauronus caused Amaz to fly into such a fury that she scorched the earth for a decade. Only her husband’s rebirth as the Twelve Lords of Thunder soothed her anger. Still, every summer she burns bright and fierce with the memory of her loss and pain. Each winter, her sorrow causes her to withdraw from the world, burning in the sky for less time and with less strength.

Symbol: Amaz’s symbol is known as the Golden Shield. In its most basic form it is a simple yellow circle with a dozen triangles around the edge, symbolizing the sun. Oftentimes, this symbol is embellished with the triangles replaced by arrows.

Trapping: Heat

Knowledge Skills: Craft(Fletching), Horses

Appearance: Amaz appears as a beautiful Amazon woman with golden skin and hair and eyes that shine with an inner light so bright it is painful to look at. Though she may appear garbed in armor or ordinary clothing, she always bears her shield and a magic weapon that can take the form of a bow or spear with but a thought.

Rituals: The clergy of Amaz hold services on the first day of each week. Temples to the goddess feature a hole in the roof that allows the sun to shine in. Though services are held from sunup to sundown, the holiest time is considered when the sun is shining directly down through this hole and those touched by the sun during that time are considered blessed for the week. If the sun is not shining during the service, it is considered a bad omen and many who are truly faithful to Amaz will not begin any endeavor in a week when the sun did not shine on their service.

Holidays:

Day of Rage: This holiday occurs on the Summer Equinox, the day every year when the sun is in the sky the longest. Worshipers of Amaz have rather complex calendars that ensure that this day is correct every year and it has been plotted out for a thousand years. This day marks Amaz’s greatest rage over the loss of the Lord of Thunder. It is when she burns longest and her worshipers carry this rage and sorrow for themselves. Beginning at dawn, worshipers of Amaz throw themselves into a frenzy of violence and morning. They gather together to dance, throwing themselves violently against each other for hours on end, often until they collapse from exhaustion or thirst. They wail, raising a din that can be heard from miles away, until their voices are raw. This day is also one of forgiveness. Anyone may bring their grievances to another on the Day of Rage and get them out. The other party is encouraged to defend themselves and these arguments often come to violence. However, it is assumed that if both members of the conflict participate then the issue will be dropped at sunset and never spoken of again. Only by remaining silent and ignoring someone with a grievance is a person allowed to carry it beyond the Day of Rage.

Hunting and gladiatorial battles are also featured on the Day of Rage. These generally feature a female worshiper or group of worshipers hunting down or fighting a bull, ram or one of Tauronus’ other favored creatures. Formerly, this prey was always a minotaur, centaur or some other sentient male who was captured and forced to fight to the death. This still happens in many larger venues where life slaves of this type can be found and bought. Their deaths are often the climax of the day’s celebration. Any creatures who survive until nightfall are granted a full pardon.

These wild celebrations of anger and sorrow continue until the sun sets, many worshipers dancing until the very moment the sun completely disappears. Many collapse as the night falls from a combination of physical and spiritual exhaustion.

Day of Sorrow: This holiday always occurs during the winter equinox, the shortest day of the year when the sun is up for the least amount of time. This is the day when Amaz’s mourning for her lost husband reaches its apex and she withdraws most fully from the world. On the Day of Sorrow, families and friends gather at the graves of their own loved ones to honor their memories. Some spend the whole day in cemeteries though most spend the greater part of the day indoors with their living loved ones, honoring their relationships.

Though a somber occasion, the Day of Sorrow is also a day to give and receive gifts. This is both to remind loved ones of their value and as a reflection of the sacrifices made in Amaz’s name. These sacrifices are carried on all day as Priestesses of the goddess feed gifts of all kinds from worshipers to a sacred fire. Everything from art to food to precious metals to living creatures (both sentient and not) is donated by the faithful on this day and the holy fire consumes it all. Such is the power of the fire on this day that even precious gems like rubies and diamonds are completely consumed by the flame. This is all done to remind Amaz (and her worshipers) that though she has suffered a great loss there is still much that is good in the world and that it is worth returning to.

Tauronus: Tauronus is the god of the earth and the patron god of dwarves, minotaurs and centaurs. He is also the patron of herd animals. He is the firm, unyielding stone but also the soft soil from which crops spring. When his fury grows great, the earth shakes but he usually provides constant, dependable support to the creatures who walk the world.

Miners and builders often pray to Tauronus both to protect them from disasters and to bless them with success.

Tauronus is also a warrior god. Whereas Amaz is the goddess of skill and strategy in war, Tauronus is the god of overwhelming force and brute tactics. His victories are savage and punishing and he exhorts his worshipers to sweep their opponents completely from the field.

Tauronus was once married to Amaz, Sivis Kee and the original Lord of Thunder. He grew jealous of Amaz and the Lord of Thunder, however as the latter often used his clouds to hide Amaz from Tauronus. The earth lord’s wrath became so great that he tore the Lord of Thunder apart, bringing about such sorrow in Amaz that she withdrew her warmth from the world for years. The schism separated the gods from that point on and Amaz has still never forgiven Tauronus.

Symbol: Tauronus’ symbol is a pair of bull’s horns and is often called the stone cradle. In fact, the horns are often depicted as being made of stone.

Trapping: Darkness

Knowledge Skills: Animal Husbandry, Mining

Appearance: Tauronus shares many of the aspects of his favored followers. He appears much like a centaur, though his lower body is much more bovine than equine, having the build of a powerful bull. A massively muscled humanoid torso sits atop this body in place of an animal’s head. However, capping this torso is a bull’s head with massive horns and flashing red eyes. Tauronus appears to be made of some sort of stone.

Rituals: Tauronus’ temples always feature bare, unfinished floors. Depending upon the soil type of the area this may be nothing more than dirt to jagged stone. The walls and ceilings are made of dressed stone. Every temple contains either a natural crevice or a deeply dug hole in the ground. The purpose of this hole is to sacrifice those who are not worthy of Tauronus. Any defective herd animals (and in more primitive, secluded communities, children) are brought to the temple and hurled into the pit. It is believed that Tauronus sits at the core of the world and takes these defective animals, fixes them and sends them back into the world in a better form.

Holidays:

Testing Day: Each year, all the worshipers of Tauronus gather together to test their strength and stamina against each other. This is a festival day in communities throughout the Empire that includes celebrations even beyond the activities at their core. But the core of Testing Day are a variety of contests like wrestling, caber tossing and weight lifting that compare the strength of Tauronus’ worshipers against each other. Wrestling is the only contest that is universal to every Testing Day while each community has a variety of different contests beyond that. Racing is also common on Testing Day and the great cross-continent race that occurs every year in the Empire begins on Testing Day. Another common contest is bull fighting, or some other combat between a humanoid and a large, powerful herd animal. The greatest of this style of combat occurs in the mountains between Almatia and Shan. A single champion gladiator battles a war elephant in single combat. The elephant wins at least as often as the man. At the end of each Testing Day each town gives out prizes to the winners of the day. These prizes range from money and jewelry (most often decorated belts of some sort) to simple laurel wreaths to official titles to slaves or livestock. Generally, the greatest prize from these contests are the stories that are told about the winners and the respect that they receive for their success.

Day of Wrath: This holiday has no set date and does not occur every year in every community that follows Tauronus. In fact, there are a few Tauronus congregations who have never had to observe it. For  Day of Wrath is only held after an earthquake. These events are considered a show of Tauronus’ fury against the people and animals who crawl upon his surface and that he must be placated. Immediately after an earthquake, sometimes before any effort is made to save anyone or anything, follows of Tauronus gather at his temple with sacrifices. This can be any kind of valuable though the favored sacrifices are bulls, rams and other male herd animals who are exemplary examples of their species. In some places, humanoid males are also sacrificed if they are considered worthy and it is not uncommon for a worshiper of Tauronus to throw himself into the pit. All of these sacrifices are tossed into Tauronus’ pit one at a time while his worshipers pray for forgiveness and prostrate themselves. In other places, the worshipers of Tauronus assume that their god takes what he wants on a Day of Wrath. Rather than sacrificing to him, they simply do not try to recover what is ruined by an earthquake. In fact, they do not repair any damage done to buildings or dig out any of their goods from the rubble. For that matter, they do not attempt to rescue any animals of people who are trapped in the aftermath. At best, they will grant the person or beast a quick death but will not even recover their dead bodies.

Sivis Kee: Sivis Kee has a number of aspects and worshippers who follow each individually or all of them together. Sivis Kee is the personification of fertility.

Her usual aspect is as a maternal figure who brings comfort and affection to those in pain or need. She is the goddess of the harvest and childbirth. She is prayed to for both abundance in crops and health in pregnancy.

There is a sensual side to the goddess, however. After all, her worshippers are not fools and know where babies come from. In this aspect, she is seen as a sensual, lusty figure who promotes hedonistic practices. Adulterers, prostitutes and others who enjoy free sexual practices pray to this aspect of Sivis Kee. For her part, Sivis Kee does not seem to prefer either type of worshipper over the other. She is as attentive to the prayers of a pregnant woman as she is to her adulterous husband; to a farmer beseeching her for a bumper crop as she is to a prostitute hoping for a profitable night.

Sivis Kee has been romantically (or at least sexually) linked to every god in the Ravnivori pantheon as well as numerous mortals and even Amaz.

Symbol: The symbol of Sivis Kee is known as the Gate to Plenty and is either a pair of curved goat’s horns or sheaves of wheat touching at top and bottom to make a sharp oval.

Trapping: Light

Knowledge Skills: Agriculture, Childbirth, Sex

Appearance: Sivis Kee appears as a female satyr with a humanoid torso, goat-like legs and a pair of sharp horns growing from her forehead. Her skin is invariably a pale blue and her hair a blonde the color of ripe wheat. She’ll have the features of whatever race she is appearing before, pointed ears around elves, a stocky build around dwarves, etc. When appearing in her mothering aspect she is full figured with heavy breasts, full hips and a jolly, matronly face. When appearing in her more sensual aspect, she retains her full breasts but has a more slender figure and a much more seductive face.

Rituals: Many of Sivis Kee’s rituals take place outside in the fields, orchards and vineyards where her assistance is desired. These generally include prayers to the goddess as well as the ritualistic pouring of water or sacrifice of food. Those rituals revolving around childbirth generally take place in the home, with a priest blessing the womb of a woman hoping to get pregnant or that of a woman who is already pregnant. When the time comes to give birth a priest or priestess of Sivis Kee is often there to help ease the mother’s pain and the discomfort of the child entering the world.

Many of Sivis Kee’s more sensual rituals also take place outside and often in the fields, orchards and vineyards that her supplicants hope to be blessed. A priest or priestess of Sivis Kee will often copulate with the owner of a field in the field in celebration of the life that they hope will soon come to it. Others dedicated to this aspect of Sivis Kee will hold private ceremonies in her honor where one or more of her clergy are the guests of honor and leaders of orgies in her name.

Holidays:

Day of Planting: This holiday occurs on different days in different parts of the Empire. It takes place on the first day of sowing of their crops, whatever day is most appropriate for the crop and location. The festival begins before sunrise with the entire community gathering together in the fields. Quiet prayers and hymns begin the festival and when the sun rises, the volume and speed increases.

There is much dancing and singing that continue between the actual job of planting the crop. The planting on this day is more symbolic than efficient and generally, each farmer only plants one field with the remaining planting and real work taking place over the next days or weeks as necessary.

At the end of the day, there is a small feast, in fact, it is exceptionally small with each person eating only half of what they normally would. The food prepared is made purposefully bland and unappetizing. All of this is done in the hopes that Sivis Kee will take pity on her worshippers and their meager stores and will provide a bountiful crop for those who praise her.

Bonfires are lit as the sun sets and the dancing and singing continues well into the night. A priest or priestess and the owner of the field that did the poorest the year before remains behind after everyone else has gone home. As a final blessing and request for aid, these two individuals copulate in the failed field to close out the holiday. Often, others engage in this final blessing in the privacy of their own homes as well.

In more urban areas, this holiday is still observed. The meager feast is held and people often await this day to start new projects, giving praise to Sivis Kee while beginning in the hopes that she will stray a bit from her domain to provide a bounty in whatever endeavor they are beginning.

Harvest Thanksgiving: Again, the exact day of this holiday varies from location to location dependent on the crops that are raised in the area. At dawn the day before a community’s crops are harvested, they all gather in one of the fields. A priestess of Sivis Kee presents a small sermon and gives thanks to the goddess for the coming harvest. When this is done, the whole community then harvests the field as a group. They work until the work is done whether this takes a few hours or they are forced to continue to work after the sun sets. Once the whole field or orchard has been harvested, the community gathers and shares a great feast. While they are not restricted to what they’ve harvested, they use as much of it as they can. Many of them spend the day before cooking other dishes that go with the harvest.

The Seven Lords of Thunder: A sort of mini-pantheon themselves, the Seven Lords of Thunder are both the sons of Amaz and the reincarnations of the original Lord of Thunder. The original name of this god is lost in the annals of history as Amaz’s rage and sorrow was raised every time it was mentioned. As their title suggests, the Seven Lords of Thunder are the gods of rain and storms. The title is not entirely correct, however as not all of them control thunder. Upi, for example is the god of rejuvenating spring showers.

The Seven Lords of Thunder were born from Amaz after her lover was slain by Tauronus. They sprang from her fully form and immediately in their full power. Each of the Seven Lords of Thunder represents one aspect of their father’s powers and the weather that he controlled. Though they are brothers, they are seldom together and do not always get along.

Symbols: Each of the Seven Lords of Thunder has a different symbol, though they as a whole share a symbol. This symbol consists of a dark cloud with a single lightning bolt striking out of it.

Upi, Lord of Rain: Upi’s symbol is a fluffy cloud with a hint of the sun shining out from behind it.

Kahwen, Lord of Lightning: Kahwen’s symbol is an angry storm cloud with two lightning bolts extending from it.

Grashk, Lord of Sleet and Hail: Grashk’s symbol is a hammer head fading into several shrinking lines at the top, symbolizing the beating pressure of the myriad tiny particles that make up his domain.

Mu’Ab, Lord of Tornadoes: Mu’Ab’s symbol is a top down view of a spiral.

Lord of Blizzards:

Lord of Snow:

Lord of Hurricanes:
Trapping: Each of the 7 Lords of Thunder share the Sound Trapping but each also has an additional trapping, as listed below:

Upi, Lord of Rain: Water

Kahwen, Lord of Lightning: Electricity

Grashk, Lord of Sleet and Hail: Cold/Ice

Mu’Ab, Lord of Tornadoes: Air

Lord of Blizzards: Cold/Ice

Lord of Snow: Cold/Ice

Lord of Hurricanes: Air

Knowledge Skills: All Seven Lords of Thunder share the following – Drumming, Meteorology
Appearance: Each of the Seven Lords of Thunder has their own unique appearance. In fact, they don’t even look that much like brothers. They represent all races from Retra and even, in some cases, animals.

Upi, Lord of Rain: Upi looks like a very plump Shan human with a jolly face and laughing eyes. He is bald with a large, round body and dark golden skin. His favored weapon is a bare hand.

Kahwen, Lord of Lightning: Kahwen looks like a fierce hawk. His feathers are dark grey and black with irregular streaks of white and silver that constantly shift. His eyes and talons crackle with lightning. His favored weapon is the scissor katar.

Grashk, Lord of Sleet and Hail: Grashk appears as a massive Ravnivori dwarf with a constant scowl on his face. His hair and beard are intricately braided and covered in a rime of ice. His favored weapon is a hammer or maul.

Mu’Ab Lord of Tornadoes: Mu’ab looks like a black and grey Naga. His tail is enormous and he balances on the tip towering over his surroundings while the coils writhe and twist madly. His favored weapon is he flail or whip.

Lord of Blizzards: A thin wolf with slavering jaws and piercing eyes.

Lord of Snow: A particularly fluffy arctic hair.

Lord of Hurricanes: A very fit Almatian man with roiling thunderclouds for hair and crashing waves for a beard.

Rituals: The Rituals of the Seven Lords of Thunder consist of worshipers exposing themselves to the blessings of the gods. They join together at their temples, which have no roofs, and commune with each other and their god when rain and storms strike. Depending upon the the lord, this can be something as pleasant as bathing in a summer shower to something as uncomfortable as standing in a blizzard or something as terrifying as taking the chance of being struck by lightning.

Holidays: Day of Sunder/Thunder: This holiday takes place a week before the Day of Wrath celebrated by followers of Amaz. Tradition holds that this is the exact anniversary of the day when the original Lord of Thunder was torn apart by his rival Tauronus. Much like the Day of Sorrow for Amaz worshipers, this is a day of mourning and anger for followers of the Seven Lords of Thunder. Many worshipers spend the day wailing for the loss of their Lord. Others spend the day in mock, or true combat to spend their rage. Years when it rains on this day are considered truly blessed and even dabblers in the worship of the Seven Lords of Thunder turn out on these days, despite the otherwise inclement weather.

Day of 7 Births: This Holiday takes place 7 months after the Day of Thunder. It is the day that the 7 Lords of Thunder sprung, full grown, from the womb of their mother, Amaz. A day of celebration, any community with a large contingent of worshipers of the 7 Lords holds a large festival on this day. Gifts are exchanged and it is treated much as an extra birthday for everyone in the community. In fact, whatever traditions are followed for birthdays in the area are followed for the whole community on the Day of 7 Births. Gifts are donated to the temple of the 7 Lords and many are given to any orphans in the community. Any child born on the Day of 7 Births is considered blessed and often become priests of the 7 Lords of Thunder. Those born on a Day of 7 Births when it also rains or snows are considered doubly blessed.

New Trappings:

Air –

Lift: Beneficial powers add +1 to Pace and, on a raise increase Agility one die type for the duration of the power.

Tumult: A raise with a detrimental power leaves the target surrounded by a chaotic tumult of air. The target causes a -1 penalty to hearing based notice rolls and a -1 penalty to any agility based skills while the power is active or for one round for Instant powers.

Earth –

Armor: Beneficial powers provide +2 Armor but reduce the target’s pace by 1 because of the coating of earth and rock formed.

Burden: A raise with a detrimental power results in the target’s movement counting as Difficult Ground while the power is active or his next movement for instant powers due to the rocks and earth that cling to him.

Water –

Armor: Beneficial powers provide +2 Armor versus fire and heat, but fire and heat attacks count as a dispel against them.

Douse: Any flames in the area of effect of a power with the water trapping are put out on any roll except for a 1.

Torrent:  The force of a damaging attack with a water trapping is such that the target must make an opposed strength roll against the result of the attack or be pushed back 1 square.  For each raise the attacker gets, the target is pushed back an additional square.

And as usual…you can buy my novels and games at blackguardpress.com

 

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Exiles #22 The Fearsome Porcupine

This is another character that I never really read in any comics.  In fact, I think the only time I’ve seen him in a book was in a recent reprint of part of the Korvac Saga where he made an extremely tertiary appearance.

I did see him in my Marvel Super Hero game and in the Handbook of the Marvel Universe.  I was fascinated by him and always felt like he seemed to get the short end of the stick.  So, here’s my chance to give him a redemption.

Porcupine

Alexander Gentry/Quincy McIver

Fighting:     EX/EX

Agility:      GD/EX

Strength:     EX/RM

Endurance: RM/EX

Reason:       GD/GD

Intuition:     GD/GD

Psyche:       TY/TY

Health:        80/90

Karma:       26/26

Resources:   EX(20)/GD(10)

Popularity: -5/0

Powers:

 Body Armor: Incredible protection from physical attacks. Remarkable protection against energy attacks. McIver employed his robotics expertise to add an exoskeleton to the suit to boost his strength and endurance. Without the armor, his physical abilities are as follows:

F: EX              A: EX              S: EX              E: GD

Helmet: Remarkable protection, including a 6-hour air supply. Night vision lenses give him perfect vision in the dark.

Spikes: When striking, the quills did Excellent Edged damage for Gentry and do Remarkable Edged damage due to the strength enhancement performed on the armor by McIver.

Concussion Bombs: Fires three per turn with Remarkable Agility at a range of 3 areas. Incredible Damage against a single target.

Knock-Out Gas-Bombs: Fires three per turn with Remarkable Agility at a range of 3 areas. Gas has Amazing potency.

Electricity: Incredible damage to a single target up to 3 areas away.

Rocket: Boot-jets allow Poor air-speed (3 areas per turn) for 10 minutes.

Talents: Remarkable Reason in the fields of armor and weapons design. McIver also has Excellent Reason in the field of robotics.

Contacts: Gentry was a former ally of Eel, Plantman, Scarecrow, and Unicorn; a former employee of Cowled Commander and Justin Hammer. McIver is a member of the Exiles.

Background: Alexander Gentry, a weapons designer for the United States Army, spent months working overtime to create his porcupine battlesuit. He was enormously proud of his achievement when the suit was finished, and believed his invention was worth a fortune. Yet Gentry also believed that the government would pay him, one of its employees, firtually nothing for his creation. Angrily, Gentry decided to keep the porcupine battlesuit and to use it to make himself wealthy through crime. Thus Gentry became the Porcupine, one of the first costumed criminals of his generation.

The Porcupine was soon defeated by Henry Pym, who was then the original Ant-Man and his partner, Janet van Dyne, the Wasp. A second defeat by Pym as Giant-Man came when the Porcupine took an overdose of Pym’s shrinking capsules, and shrank out of sight.

Eventually, however, the effect wore off, and the Porcupine, again at his normal size, was among the many costumed menaces assembled by Doctor Doom to disrupt the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm.

His self-confidence still shaken by his failure in battling Giant-Man and the Wasp, the Porcupine eagerly accepted the invitation of Count Luchino Nefaria, a powerful figure in the criminal Maggia, to join his group of costumed agents. However, Nefaria and his agents were thwarted by the original X-Men. Once again, the Porcupine escaped being taken prisoner, and he blamed the failure of the blackmail scheme on Nefaria and the other agents. But Gentry suspected that, in fact, he himself was inadequate for the role of being a “super-Villain” battling superhuman opponents.

During coming months, the Porcupine enlisted as a member of Batroc’s Brigade and also worked with his allies the original Eel, the Plantman, and the Scarecrow, for the masked criminal mastermind who called himself the Cowled Commander. Again, the Porcupine clashed with Captain America but was defeated.

Convinced they were failures, Gentry and Leopold Stryke, who was the original Eel, sought guidance from the Celestial Mind Control movement, which was secretly masterminded by the alien Nebulon. Nebulon pitted the Porcupine and the Eel against his foes, the costumed adventurers called the Defenders, who defeated them both.

Later, the Porcupine and a small group of confederates invaded a major Manhattan hotel to steal the valuables in its safe. This time the Porcupine erred by deciding to rob the wealthy audience at a fashion show in one of the hotel’s ballrooms. The Wasp, Yellowjacket and Nighthawk quickly defeated the criminals, and the Porcupine left, humiliated at being overpowered by the Wasp and Yellojacket when they were both the size of insects.

Perhaps believing there was safety in number, the Porcupine next turned up as one of a large assemblage of costumed criminals organized by the original versions of Libra and Sagittarius of the android Zodiac. This time the Porcupine was defeated by the Hellcat during a battle between a number of the criminals and a group of adventurers operating under the auspices of the Defenders.

The Porcupine went to prison but was soon released by minions of billionaire Justin Hammer. Than venture didn’t last long either because the Porcupine and his allies failed to defeat Iron Man for Hammer.

Tired of his long string of defeats, Gentry decided to give up his career as a costumed criminal and live off the millions of dollars he expected to receive by selling his battlesuit. Gentry totatlly redesigned his porcupine battlesuit, making it far deadlier than before. He entered into negotiations with the subversive organization called the Secret Empire. But Captain America and his ally Nomad defeated the Porcupine, and Gentry was returned to jail.

In prison, Gentry vowed never to put on the Porcupine battlesuit again. He was soon released from prison, apparently legally, and he set about once more to try to sell the battlesuit. But by now Porcupine was universally regarded as a laughable failure.

In despair, Gentry came upon the idea of selling the battlesuit to the Avengers to prevent it from falling into the hands of their enemies. Captain America agreed to have the Avengers buy the battlesuit if Gentry helped get him to members of the Serpent Society. Gentry accepted Captain America’s terms.

Captain America’s plan was for Gentry to pretend to have captured him and to offer the Serpent Society the opportunity to kill him. Gentry contacted the Society’s leader and arranged to have some of the Society members meet him at a Lower Manhattan construction site. Gentry, having reluctantly donned his Porcupine costume once more as part of the plan, pretended to guard Captain America, who was seemingly bound in chains. Four Society members soon appeared but Captain America took them by surprise.

In the ensuing battle, the Porcupine aided Captain America, at one point, narrowly avoiding being impaled on one o his own quills. The pair defeated all four members of the Society. This started a war of retribution with the other members of the Society that eventually included all the Avengers. In the end, all the members of the Society were captured and Porcupine took a position as part of the West Coast Avengers.

Though he performed well at the side of his old foe, Henry Pym, Gentry always felt like he could not overcome his previous failures and feared that he was viewed as a loser and without respect.

During one of their adventures, the West Coast Avengers fought alongside the Exiles. Seeing that interdimensional group as a way of escaping his past, he asked to join them. Impressed by his abilities, they agreed. Gentry proves his worth several times in the following months. During a mission facing an alternate version of the Zodiac Cartel, Gentry sacrificed his life to save the rest of the team and foil the villains’ plot.

His armor, though heavily damaged, was not destroyed and the Exiles took it and Gentry’s body back to their home dimension for proper burial. The armor was put on display in a place of honor for several months with a holovid that told the story of Gentry’s life. During the invasion of Otherworld by an elite squad of Nth Commandoes, most of the Exiles were defeated and Quincy McIver, who had escaped their attentions and was desperate to save his wife and her teammates donned the armor as a last resort.

Taking the Nth Commandoes by surprise, he managed to free the Exiles who had been captured and joined them in defeating the invaders.  As he had long sought to prove himself a hero due to the preponderance of villainous alternate versions of himself throughout the multiverse, he repaired and upgraded the armor after this encounter. Given the story of Gentry’s life, McIver felt that he was only furthering the other man’s redemption while claiming his own as he joined the Exiles as the new Porcupine.

And as usual…you can buy my novels and games at Black Guard Press.

Space Race(s)

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the old Spelljammer setting or that I’m a fan of Savage Worlds.  It was only a matter of time before I converted some of the more iconic races from the former into the rules for the latter.

Void Races

This one was the first I worked up, specifically because one of the players in my campaign (who had played in my short lived Spelljammer campaign way back in college) asked about them.  The Hadozee known as Cumberbatch has proven himself an impressive pilot for the Capital Gains.

Hadozee: No one knows exactly where Hadozee, also known as glider apes, came from. Their own legends speak of a home world full of giant trees and lush jungles. None of them know the name of this planet, have visited it or even know where it is. It is assumed that a group of their ancestors, or several groups, were captured and enslaved by some race or another and eventually escaped. Void nomads, the glider apes can be found in most of the major space going metropolises and almost all of them spend at least some portion of their life as part of the crew of a Void Runner. They are a curious, adventuresome and gregarious race. Any who are familiar with the void are familiar with the glider apes but many land bound people are fooled by their bestial appearance and are often surprised when they prove intelligent. They resemble large baboons with leathery flaps stretching from their wrists to ankles. Their fur is generally brown or grey but occasionally strange colors like blue or purple occur.

 

Glide: Glider apes can glide at their pace every round. They drop 1” for every 2” moved horizontally. If they make an agility check each success negates an 1” of drop and they can even rise 1” if they gain enough raises. Glider apes cannot hover and must move at least 2” per turn.

Size: -1. Glider apes are the size of children.

Curious: Glider apes are interested in everything. They find it difficult to avoid investigating anything novel.

Rigging Monkeys: Glider apes are highly agile. They start with a d8 in agility and can get a d12+2 in this stat through normal advancement. They are natural climbers and start with a free d6 in climbing.

Flingers: One of a glider ape’s natural defenses is throwing things. It is instinctual for them to throw things when threatened or angry. They start with a free d6 in climbing.

 

These guys have always been considered kind of a joke.  So, I wanted to see if I could rehabilitate them.  It’s kind of sad because the Giff look like hippopotamuses and hippos are actually some of the most dangerous animals in Africa.  That, combined with their military nature should make the Giff pretty dangerous.  I threw in a couple other Giff species who are also based on dangerous herbivores to make them a bit more threatening.  Only the common Giff are designed to be a playable race.

Giff: The Giff are actually 3 related races who occupy a single caste based society. The lowest, most common group are known simply as Giff and are massive humanoids with heads that resemble those of dour, fierce hippopotami. Renowned for their stupidity and aggressiveness throughout the known worlds, they are also fiercely loyal and brave. They love to fight and love the noise and chaos of black powder weapons, especially.

The next highest caste of the Giff are the Nocerans. These creatures are even larger than the common Giff and have the heads of rhinoceri. They are slightly smarter than the common Giff but just as loyal and courageous and even more aggressive. They are also more disciplined than the common Giff and have keen tactical minds. Most units of common gift have a Noceran leader.

The final class of Giff are the Nibals. The largest of the races, they have the heads of elephants. Unlike either of their smaller cousins, the Nibals are not particularly aggressive and are noticeably smarter and wiser than their kin. Calm contemplators, many of them spend much of their lives in meditation. Others are administrators, researchers and engineers and it is they who keep the Giff culture going.

All Giff are obsessed with black powder and much of their research and strategy revolves around using this material.

Giff society is highly hierarchical and largely militaristic. Almost all common gift and Nocerans are members of the military and there are over 100 ranks in this military, meaning that there is a definitive chain of command. Discipline is high and the punishments for disobeying orders or superiors are severe. Only the Nibals are commonly outside this hierarchy and even they generally serve the military in some form or another. Most of their contemplations go into creating strategies and new weapons.

Another lost race, the Giff homeworld is unknown. They possess a small world where most of the Nibal live and where a slight majority of the other two races also have their homes. Most of the rest of them live in small colonies or, more commonly on ships that wander the Void looking for contracts.

Though the Giff have a vast military, in fact most of their society revolves around it, they do not fight each other nor do they carry on campaigns of conquest. Instead, they are divided up into myriad mercenary units of assorted sizes who sell their services to other races. There are very few void ports without at least one unit of Giff offering their mercenary services.

 

Common Giff

All Thumbs: Common Giff are straightforward creatures without the capacity to truly understand complex technology.

Thick Skinned: Common Giff have 2 points of natural armor due to their thick, sturdy hides.

Slow Witted: Common Giff will never be mistaken for being incredibly bright. It costs 2 points to raise their smarts during character creation and two levellings to raise it afterwards.

Size +1: Common Giff are just over 6’ tall but are quite sturdy, weighing over 400 pounds.

Powerful Muscles: Though Common Giff look fat, they are actually very muscular. They begin play with a d8 strength instead of a d4. They may purchase their strength up to a d12+2. The Professional and Expert edges can increase this to d12+4.

Black Powder Obsession: Despite their almost complete lack of understanding of Black Powder and the weapons that use it, Common Giff are fascinated by them. They will always choose a black powder weapon over any other ranged option. Their All Thumbs hindrance applies to their use of these weapons.

 

Nocerans

Agility: d6, Smarts: d6, Spirit: d8, Strength: d10, Vigor: d8

Skills: Fighting d8, Intimidation d8, Knowledge (Battle) d6, Notice d4, Piloting: d6 Shooting: d6

Pace: 6             Parry: 6            Toughness: 11(3)

All Thumbs: Nocerans are straightforward creatures without the capacity to truly understand complex technology.

Thick Skinned: Nocerans have 3 points of natural armor due to their thick, sturdy hides.

Size +2: Nocerans stand just over 7’ tall and are quite sturdy, weighing over 600 pounds.

Black Powder Obsession: Despite their almost complete lack of understanding of Black Powder and the weapons that use it, Nocerans are fascinated by them. They will always choose a black powder weapon over any other ranged option. Their All Thumbs hindrance applies to their use of these weapons.

Near-sighted: Nocerans have weak eyes and receive a -2 to all ranged attacks.

Charge: Nocerans can use their horns in combat if they charge at least 2 squares. The damage for this attack is Str+d6.

 

Nibals

Agility: d6, Smarts: d8, Spirit: d10, Strength: d10, Vigor: d10

Skills: Fighting d6, Knowledge (Any 2) d8, Persuasion d6, Piloting: d4, Shooting: d6

Pace: 6             Parry: 6            Toughness: 11(3)

Thick Skinned: Nibals have 3 points of natural armor due to their thick, sturdy hides.

Size +3: Nibals are truly huge creatures who stand just over 9’ tall and are quite sturdy, weighing over 1000 pounds.

Black Powder Obsession: Nibals are fascinated by black powder weapons of all sorts. They will always choose a black powder weapon over any other ranged option.

Tusks: If a Nibal must engage in combat it will use its tusks for Str +d6 damage.

Trunk: Nibal trunks are prehensile and quite adept. They gain a bonus non-move action each round using their trunk.

 

Tusker

Maneuverability: -2

Toughness: 21(4)

Tonnage: 70tons Crew: 30/70 Standard Armament: 6 cannons, 1 Piercing/Grappling Ram Cargo: 35 tons Keel Length: 250’ Beam Length: 30’

 

Tuskers are known as ships that are tough, with a kick, but that handle like a brick. It is perhaps the hubris of the Nibals that it is designed to look like them. It looks like an elephant with a howdah mounted on the back. This howdah is actually the top deck of the vessel and features a cannon at each corner. The remaining two cannons are mounted in a forward room in the “head” of the elephant. The prow of the vessel is a piercing/grappling ram that looks like the elephant’s tusks/trunk. Tuskers are hard to put down but due to their poor maneuverability, most people simply evade rather than engage them.

 

Ok, Plasmoids may be my favorite race from Spelljammer.   They’re a truly alien species.  Also, they were the most powerful Herculoids.  Quite frankly, Gloop and Gleep didn’t need the rest.  It also caused me to create a new type of arcane background.

Plasmoids: No one is quite sure whether plasmoids naturally evolved on some strange world, were created by some unknowable god in its own shapeless image or were created as an experiment by a mad wizard in ages past. In any case, they are some of the most unusual sentient creatures in the Void. At first glance, a plasmoid appears to be nothing more than a puddle of viscous goo with unidentifiable organs floating in it. Plasmoids have impressive control over their shapeless bodies, however and can “stand” upright, form “limbs” or slither through tight spaces. Their amorphous form makes them unusually difficult to injure but also gives them an alien mentality that often leaves more mundane species nonplussed. Plasmoids communicate with each other through a series of vibrations of their skins that are often inaudible to other species but most are able to control these vibrations enough to speak more common languages.

 

Alien Nature – Plasmoids have unusual bodies by almost any definition. This means that other species are often put off by their appearance and method of communication. For that matter, their own mentalities mean that they have a difficult time understanding and interacting socially with members of other species. This leads to a -2 to all charisma checks with those who are not members of their species.

 

Amorphous Shape – The very nature of a plasmoid’s body provides it some advantages and disadvantages. They receive a +2 to avoid being shaken. They have no discernible anatomy so called shots are not an option against them. They also do not suffer any wound penalties. Additionally, their body chemistry is so unusual that they are immune to diseases and toxins. However, because of this strange anatomy, those trying to render aid to them are at a disadvantage. Anyone other than a plasmoid trying to heal a plasmoid through either mundane or magical means suffers a -2 to all checks. Likewise, it is almost impossible to create armor that fits these creatures. Only a master armorer is capable of crafting something suitable and will require a great deal of time.

 

Shapeshifting – All plasmoids are capable of consciously altering their amorphous forms, though sometimes in dramatically different ways. To reflect this, every plasmoid gains the Arcane Background (Shapeshifting) edge with an extra 5 power points and a starting Shapeshifting Skill of d6.

 

Arcane Background (Shapeshifting)

Skill: Shapeshifting (Vigor)

Number of Powers: 3

Power Points: 10

Shapeshifting is the ability to alter one’s own form. This might be due to a creature’s long years of study in controlling their own shape, an inherent ability gained by certain species or some sort of magical alterations made to the caster’s body.

Shapeshifters suffer no disadvantage when they roll a 1 on their skill die, however there are some inherent limitations. Only powers that have a range of touch can be used by someone with the Shapeshifting arcane background. Further, these powers can only be used on the caster, not granted to any other character.

 

Extra Limbs

Rank: Novice

Power Points: 3/1

Duration: 3 rounds

Trappings: Extra arm, tentacle, claw, tendril of hair, pseudopod, etc.

Effect: The caster springs an extra arm, tentacle or other limb capable of manipulation. This provides the character with an additional non-movement action. On a raise, an additional limb is created providing an additional non-movement action. Note that no weapons are generated by this power and extras must be carried if the caster wishes to wield them.

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Exiles #21 Hemogoblin

As far as I’m concerned, Ned Leeds IS the original Hobgoblin.  Spider-Man vs. Wolverine is STILL probably the best one shot comic I ever read.  It’s so good, that the revelation of the Hobgoblin’s true identity is almost a throw away scene.  The obvious difference between Spider-Man’s and Wolverine’s outlooks and the way they were displayed and the fact that the only person Spider-Man ever really killed died in this book was just groundbreaking for me.

That being said, I recently read Hobgoblin Lives where the creator of the Hobgoblin finally wrote who he considered to be the real Hobgoblin and I read a book that was the first 18 issues of Amazing Spider-Man.  In both those books, Betty Brant stood out for me.

I’ve been toying with Hemogoblin as a name and as a derivative of the Hobgoblin for a while.  This was another of those confluences of ideas.  So, here it goes.  Morbius just got thrown into the mix because he was a good vampire in Spider-Man.

Hemogoblin

Betty Brant Leeds

Fighting:     EX

Agility:      RM

Strength:     IN

Endurance: AM

Reason:       EX

Intuition:     EX

Psyche:       EX

Health:        140

Karma:       60

Resources:   EX (20)

Popularity: 0

Powers:

 Pseudo-Vampirism: She is required to make a Psyche FEAT once per day or be forced to feed on human blood. Unless she takes steps to avoid it, her victims become pseudo-vampires.

 Gliding: Hemogoblin can fly at up to poor air speed (60 mph.)

 Claws: In melee, Hemogoblin can employ her claws to do Excellent Edged Attack damage.

 Fangs: Hemogoblin’s bite is powerful enough to do Excellent Edged Attack damage.

 Regeneration: As a pseudo-vampire, Hemogoblin has the Amazing ability to rapidly heal physical damage.

 Pseudo-Vampire Antidote: A dose of this serum has the ability to prevent a victim from becoming a pseudo-vampire. Unfortunately, because of the interaction with the Goblin Serum in her system, it doesn’t work on Hemogoblin.

 Equipment:

 Body Armor: Hemogoblin wears a suit of armor which provides him with Excellent protection against physical attacks and Remarkable protection against energy attacks.

 Glove Blasters: Both of the Hemogoblin’s gloves contain devices which can discharge pulses of high frequency electricity. The range of these weapons is 2 areas and they do Remarkable damage.

 Random Fire Mechanism: In order to overcome the advantage which Spider-Man’s Spider Sense gives him in dodging attacks, the Hemogoblin has installed a device in his armor which causes his arm to jerk about randomly while he is firing his glove blasters. In combat, this induces a -1CS on attacks, but makes it almost impossible for Foes to predict exactly where the next shot will be aimed, forcing them to take a -1CS to any attempts they make to dodge.

 Pumpkin Bombs: These explosives to Excellent damage to everything within 20 feet.

 Smoke Grenades: These devices release a cloud of Typical obscuring smoke.

 Knock-out Gas Grenades: Releases a gas of Incredible intensity which causes unconsciousness.

Incendiary: Detonation unleashes a volatile substance which produces flames of Incredible intensity.

 Spider-Sense Negator: This Unearly intensity chemical negates Spider-Man’s Spider-Sense for at least 24 (and possibly as long as 36) hours. At the referee’s option, it may or may not affect other characters with similar abilities.

 Throwing Bats: These bat-shaped throwing blades inflict Good edged weapon damage.

 Goblin Glider: The Hemogoblin employs a turbo-fan powered flying sled which has the following characteristics:

Control: IN (40)          Speed: TY (6) Body: IN (40) Protection: None

 Talents: The Hemogoblin has the Journalism, Criminal, Repair and Tinkering skills

 Contacts: As Brant Leeds, she has free access to the staff of the Daily Bugle.

Background: Betty Brant was a classmate of Peter Parker at Midtown high. She dropped out in her senior year to get a job in order to earn money to help pay off the gambling debts of her brother. She was the secretary for the Daily Bugle’s publisher, J. Jonah Jameson when Peter Parker became a freelance photographer for the paper. A budding romance with Peter was cut short when her brother was killed in a fight in which Spider-Man was a participant. From that point on, she dreaded the idea of Peter exposing himself just to take photographs. Realizing that if Betty couldn’t even accept the dangers associated with photojournalism, she would never consider a life with Spider-Man, Peter cooled his relationship with her. The relationship was ended completely when a rival for Betty’s attentions entered the picture, reporter Ned Leeds.

Betty eventually married Ned and had a somewhat stormy relationship with her husband until his death. Unknown to her, Ned was the costumed villain known as the Hobgoblin, and he was killed as a result of his criminal activities.

After some difficult times getting over Ned’s death, she followed in his footsteps and became an investigative reporter. Though her boss, Kate Cushing tried to give her softball assignments, she wanted a bigger challenge.

She also wanted to honor her former husband so, on her own, she picked up one of his unfinished assignments, namely investigating the Hobgoblin. Betty started by reviewing her husband’s notes and found a list of hidden locations. She only had to explore the first to realize that it was a list of equipment stashes for the Hobgoblin but the first several she found had all been cleaned out.

Finally, she found one that had not been raided. Much to her surprise, in addition to the weapons and equipment of the Hobgoblin, she discovered research notes and a diary written in the unmistakable hand of her husband.

Shocked, Betty at first did not believe what she’d discovered but the deeper her investigation went, the more undeniable the evidence became. Now uncertain about her marriage, Betty withdrew from the world for a time. After weeks of soul searching and questioning she decided to honor the husband she knew and try to redeem him rather than the stranger who was a criminal she didn’t know.

Betty padded one of her husband’s costumes to hide her very different figure and, equipping herself as the Hobgoblin, went out searching for the imposter who had taken over her husband’s former criminal identity and was continuing his life of crime.

Betty was able to track down Jason Phillip Macendale, the man who had taken over the mantle of the Hobgoblin, but was almost killed when she confronted trained killer. Only the intervention of Spider-Man saved her and she managed to retreat.

Seeking a way to get an edge over the other man, she found a supply of Oz, the serum that gave both the Green Goblin and the original Hobgoblin their super strength. Fortunately, she had the formula that Ned refined that did not have the side effect of driving the user insane.

Betty started martial arts training, but did not have the patience to wait to become truly proficient. She continued her quest to stop the Hobgoblin imposter, her obsession growing so great that her personal and professional lives suffered.

Peter Parker noticed and dropped in on her unexpectedly to check up on her. He caught her returning home in her Hobgoblin gear and was about to confront her as Spider-Man when he realized who she really was.

Parker tried to talk Betty out of what she was doing, but she refused to listen and, instead, he was forced to watch her as Spider-Man. This lead to a number of clashes between the two of them, but Spider-Man soon had other problems to deal with. A number of unusual attacks on the ESU campus lead Spider-Man to investigate.

So obsessed with the Hobgoblin that she could not believe that Spider-Man would spend time on anything else, Betty assumed that he had a lead and tracked him down. But, that only made her a target. Morbius, the Living Vampire was stalking the buildings of ESU and, in one of his frenzies, attacked Betty in her Hobgoblin guise. Though it was a close fought battle, Betty was still no match for Morbius and he overpowered and bit her.

Spider-Man arrived on the scene soon after and chased Morbius away. The damage was done, however and when Betty awoke the next day, she was already suffering the first effects of pseudo-vampirism.

The other Hobgoblin was forgotten for a time as Betty came to grips with her new life and she and Spider-Man focused on tracking down Morbius. It took a few weeks but they managed to find him soon after a feeding when he was reasonable and wracked with guilt. Morbius had developed an antidote for his affliction though it did not work on him. He was happy to provide it to Betty as a sort of penance for attacking her, but, much to everyone’s chagrin, the Pseudo-Vampirism affliction had interacted with the Oz Serum in her system and the cure did not work.

Betty further withdrew from her everyday life and revised her alter-ego, changing her name to the Hemogoblin. The interaction between the Oz Serum and Pseudo-vampirism caused a change in her personality, as well, making her wilder and more eager to take risks.

In the course of their investigation of Morbius, Spider-Man’s true identity as Peter Parker was revealed. Now that she also had a secret identity and was able to defend herself, she and Parker began to renew their failed romance.   She was also drawn to Morbius, however and her romantic life became a complex web involving both men.

Still, Betty was focused on her original goal and managed to hunt down the Hobgoblin imposter. The imposter had joined with a new Sinister Six and what followed was an all out battle between he and his allies and Hemogoblin, Spider-Man, and Morbius. In the course of the battle, Betty managed to kill the Hobgoblin but Morbius was also killed in the process.

Betty found herself without purpose now that her quest for revenge was over and full of sorrow after losing another man she loved. When the Exiles came to recruit her, she was happy for the chance to start her life over.

And as usual…you can buy my novels and games at blackguardpress