Saturday, April 9, 2011

I is for: Ironhead

Iron Man is my favorite Marvel hero. As a kid I liked the usual Batman, Superman, etc., but once I discovered Iron Man he quickly shot to the top. I think part of it is that like Bruce Wayne he's a wealthy playboy type but unlike him he likes it! He's not a tortured soul warped by a childhood event - he enjoys being a superhero! I think that one change makes a big difference and I was happy when the movie captured this pretty well instead of trying to make him a dark avenger. I was also happy that they used the main story from Iron Man 200, one of my favorites. I do like the do-it-yourself superhero concept, and I like to play around with it when I make super-characters. One example of this is below.

The typical power armor guy is either a millionaire that builds his own, has someone build it for him,  or is a guy who works for some government agency that provides the suit. What if none of those were true? What if there was a guy who wasn't a millionaire but was just a regular guy who slowly pieced together his own suit of hero-armor? He would probably be smarter than the average guy, at least when it came to electrical and mechanical stuff and have some creative sparks as well. Sounds like some of the guys who work on cars, especially custom show cars. So what would happen if a talented gearhead decided to take a stand for justice? Well you might get something like you see in the below picture:

That's "Detroit Fury" from the Paul the Samurai branch of the Tick comic family. I'd link to a site about him, but he seems to be internet-swamped by the arena league football team of the same name that played a whole 4 seasons -ah well.

Discussing car-based supers I feel like I should mention The Turtle from Wild Cards here too. Not exactly powered armor and not exactly a car guy but he was a regular guy in most ways and one of my favorite things about that series so I'm dropping him in here. 

But what if the suit was not an actual car, but was just built by a guy who liked to work on cars? You might get something like this:

This is American Ironhead. He's an armored flying hero who can project electrical energy and who has all kinds of interesting gadgets at his disposal. He's not a billionaire playboy so his suit is not as sleek or graceful or high-tech as it could be, but it gets the job done. 

The background concept is that Chip Barris  runs a domestic car-repair and customization business in a not-so-great part of town. He finally got tired of the criminal element in the neighborhood and decided to do something about it. Not being trained in the martial arts, lacking any convenient mutant powers, finding no radiation to expose himself to, and as it tuns out also not the son of an ancient god, he turned to the one thing he did know - how to bend metal. Thinking of it as the ultimate customization project, he finished the Mark I and went into action against the local gangs.

Finding some success he continued his one-man war on crime and continued to refine and develop his armor as well. His identity remains a secret to all but his assistant manager Jose, who helps him work on the armor and covers for him when he has to head out during the hours the shop is open. Chip went with the all-American themed paint job because he prefers American cars to imports and this carried over into his superhero persona.

Chip has refined the armor into the Mark II with faster flight and a new targeting system and better sensors.  There are definite limits to what he can accomplish considering his armor is being built and maintained in a garage by himself and one other person and uses a lot of car parts, but never underestimate the ingenuity of the American gearhead when it comes to solving a problem!

Oh NO! Ironhead is trapped in a cage of electricity! Will he survive?

American Ironhead (Mark II) for ICONS:

Prowess: 4 (Good) While not a martial artist he has been in enough scraps at this point to hold his own against regular guys
Coordination: 5 (Excellent) He has pretty good dexterity 
Strength: 6 (Remarkable) He tries to stay in shape and the suit helps out here as well, boosting his strength just a bit
Intellect: 6 (Remarkable) He's a smart guy and especially good with devices 
Awareness: 4 (Good) He pays attention to what's going on around him 
Willpower: 5 (Excellent) He's a pretty strong-willed guy but he doesn't have any special training or protection

Stamina: 11
Determination: 2

Origin: Gimmick (+2 to one mental stat - Intellect)

Specialties: Mechanics (Expert) +2, Electronics, Shock Punch

Blast - 7 (Incredible) -  Electrical Blast/Strike 7 - Shock Punch

Super-Senses - 5 (Excellent) - Radar, Infra-Red, Enhanced Vision +1, Enhanced Hearing +1, Extended Vision 1
Invulnerability - 5 (Excellent) - Armor Suit
Flight - 7 (Incredible) - Rocket Boots

"One of the guys" - Ironhead thinks of himself as a regular guy, not a super hero or someone with a special destiny. He listens to what regular people have to say, doesn't assume that he knows best just because he has a suit, tries to obey the law as much as anyone, watches TV and goes to work just like everyone else. The super-thing just stated as a kind of hobby, and even though it's grown beyond that it's how he still thinks of it.   

"Non-Sponsored" - The Ironhead suit is built from steel and car parts and consumer electronics for the most part. Specific functions of the suit can and do break down at times and fixing damage sustained in a fight can take days. It's not made form some exotic self-repairing material either so the suit does show scars even after it has been repaired.

"Working Man" - Chip runs a shop that's open 5 days a week. he has clients and vendors to meet, payroll to make, and bodywork to do. This cuts into his time and availability to go adventuring. He also keeps his identity a secret. 

AI comes in at 58 points, still a little higher than recommended but not over the top. He has fairly broad abilities but since his strongest powers are 7's, he's going to face some challenges if he runs into seriously high-powered opponents. In Champions terms I would give him a multipower for various electrical attacks including a stun and an entangle and probably a small gadget pool for things he can whip up in the shop. For ICONS a lot of that is going to have to be stunts. Down the road he could add some life support (finally got some decent seals) and some additional area attacks or stuns as well. For some fun I could see a support van and maybe some kind of pit crew to help get him back into a fight faster if he gets hurt or damaged in some way. Just keep in mind that the idea here is that even though it's a power-suit he's not super-strong and not really super-tough - he's on the lower end of the power scale.

He's here for when these don't work
Anyway that's American Ironhead. Too many street-level heroes boil down to martial-arts guy or guy with guns, and I wanted something different. Over time I could see him becoming powerful enough to move beyond street-level adventures but I see him as always being connected to the neighborhood and his business, making him more grounded in the "real world" than many supers are even when they start out.


Barking Alien said...

I like this character. He's neat and definitely rocks the DIY hero concept to the T.

I do not get how ICONS comes up with its point base for characters. The average NPC hero and villain in the book are close to or over 60 points. Saying AI comes in a little higher than recommended at 58 points seems OK and no surprise to me because there is almost no way to make a decent character in ICONS for the recommended 45 points.

Now obviously that's just IMHO. I was highly disappointed with ICONS and it just rubs me the wrong way for a lot of reasons. Still, a 60 point base would seem to make sense to me when compared to the NPCs and the starting characters in most Supers games (like Champions and M&M).

Blacksteel said...

Thanks BA. I agree with you on the ICONS points thing. After statting up these characters I think 50-60 is a more reasonable range. I saw some of your comments on some other blogs when it came out and I agree with many of them. It does make for an easy translation step between different games in some ways and that's one reason I'm using it here. Writing up all of these characters for Champions or even M&M would take more time than I really have. I'm working on some of them in my free moments and I'll probably put those up at the end of the month.