Monday, May 3, 2010

STRIKER: The Trotsky of Iron Men

[Note: This begins the Villains Reimagined series. These first few posts are drawn from my current 1970's campaign and hit on a lot of Bronze Age tropes. Additionally, most of these are Second-Class villains--the kind who act as aides to the Master-Villain or who group together to take out heroes they can't handle on their own.]

Name: Anthony Hecht
Motivation: Fight the Power!
Fight:20 (all normal-scale)

Weakness: Obsessed with fighting the Man

Excellent [+2] Gadgeteering
Remarkable [+3] Impassioned Trotskyite
STRIKER Suit (Incredible [+4] Battle Suit, Limitation: Damage Ranks require time and materials to repair and cannot be replenished with Second Wind)
--Average [+0] Jet Boots
--Average [+0] Adaptation (Limitation: Half-Hour Air Supply)
--Remarkable [+3] Super-Strength
--Incredible [+4] Power Cannon
--Incredible [+4] Sonic Cannon (target must beat TN 11 to act coherently)

Origin: Tony Hecht was an engineer at Alpha Industries, a large electronics firm in Industry City. He was erratic in his work--occasional flashes of genuine invention followed by long periods of lackluster performance. When he was assigned to the team working on the STRIKER project--a powered battle-suit commissioned by the Think Tank--he found himself inspired and contributed some key ideas. But he grew increasingly frustrated when he felt his moderate contributions went unnoted and unrewarded and he wanted to patent certain ideas that AI legally owned. In the end, he stole the STRIKER prototype and declared war on Capitalism, which he felt ground down the contributions of men such as himself.

As STRIKER, Hecht feels that he is a cross between Robin Hood and Lev Trotsky, fighting the bourgeois power structure, using the tools of industry to destroy industry.

Commentary: This villain is based on the character F.I.S.T. (Flying Infantry Shock Trooper) from the module, "There's a Crisis at Crusader Citadel" by Jack Herman and Jeff Dee.  At first sight, F.I.S.T. is just another minor power-armour guy: jet boots, power cannon, and battle-suit.  Aside from Jeff Dee's expressive illustration, what was interesting to me about F.I.S.T. was his motivation.  When I use this fellow, the heroes can expect more than a fight with a B-grade baddie: they can expect some seriously annoying speechifying:

"Come!  Face the righteous fury of the proletariat!"

"I shall destroy you just as I shall destroy the entire bourgeois-capitalist tyranny!  With my Power cannon!"

"Don't see you see that you are nothing more than the lapdogs of a decadent bourgeois democratic revolution?  Join me and together we can create a worker's paradise!"

It is boring to punch Armour-Man; it is very satisfying to plant one on this guy.  That's what makes him an interesting villain.

Conversely, there is real potential for moral ambiguity here.  When STRIKER targets some fat-cat business that is exploiting 3rd world labourers, are the heroes actually doing good by stopping him?  I could even see STRIKER gaining a small counter-cultural following on university campuses and in burned-out post-industrial ghettos.  Nothing galls a super-hero like nailing a bad guy only to have the crowd begin booing.  Player's remember stuff like that.

Even further afield, after having his iron-butt handed to him by the heroes a few times, I could see STRIKER creating a a new Red Army--call them the Iron Army--equipped with minor gadgets and whatnot.  The players are unlikely to expect silly old STRIKER to be the mastermind behind the newest threat to their beloved city.

Illustration by Jeff Dee. Use here does not constitute an attempt to infringe upon his rights.


  1. Ha! I have a F.I.S.T. in my upcoming supers campaign (BASH) as well- but it's a government agency like S.H.I.E.L.D. (Federal Investigative and Strategic Taskforce).

  2. Excellent. Perhaps he could inspire a group that equipped themselves with smuggled ex-Red Army powered armor. They could be "the People's Strike Team".

    Actually, that could be quite fun as a running background element. The 'Strykers', the sort of black wearing 'anarchists' that show up protesting at the World Economic Forum and such but backed by minor league supertech. Enough to make them difficult for the police to deal with.

  3. @Aos: Bill Willingham's Destroyers/Dr. Apocalypse modules had a federal agency called F.I.S.H., which always cracked me up, although I must admit I no longer remember the acronym.

    @seaofstars: great ideas. There's a lot of potential with the character.