Saturday, May 26, 2012

Unfortunate Character Choices Returns! - The Ruler of Crime

I thought I was out of worthy candidates for this special honor - but I'm not! Picking up some older Champions material that I had never read has revealed another Unfortunate, and I'm calling him a Top 3 candidate. I give you the Ruler of Crime:

I really laughed out loud when I saw this near the back of Enemies: The International File. Wow, that is just terrible. I don't think Superfriends stooped that low. With that costume and that name the only crime this guy is qualified to commit is stealing Hostess Fruit Pies. I'm glad they left him mouthless as it makes quite a bit more menacing - until you see the numbers down his side.

Wait, I found another possible home for him:

"Hold it right there Crime Ruler! It looks like your plan has come up short!"
(I can play this game all day)

I was thinking that surely he was some kind of gimmick growth/shrinking guy with a humorous background. Oh no, we can't do that - he has a completely serious backstory as a genius child prodigy who sidekicks for a villain named the Sniper and then takes over for his Aryan scientist father as a criminal mastermind in Brazil. What are his powers? Let's take a look.

Now this book came out in 1988 so we see the soon-to-be-very-familiar 4th edition style statblock. His first two powers are "Shrinking Gas grenades" and those next two are from his "Tape Measure belt" which generates a protective forcefield and will shock anyone who touches him. He also has flash defense, UV vision, and life support from his costume. So he's spent over 100 points already on gadgets that have nothing to do with his actual powers!

Then we get to Elemental Control - Detection Abilities. Sure.

  • Detect and analyze distances - seriously? Mechanically how often is this going to be useful? The game doesn't restrict measurements during the game anyway? Has anyone had this arise as a challenge in any super RPG session? "Oh, if only we knew how far away that guy is." Realistically I know that we had laser rangefinders in 1988 so is this really a superpower? 
  • Detect and analyze trajectory? Again, when does this come up? How does it help?
  • Detect and analyze size and weight? OK if Indy has this at the beginning of Raiders then it's a less action-packed opening sequence but is that really a 20-point super power? 
Aren't all of these really more of a talent like "Bump of Direction" - note: BoD is 3 points in the BBB. I know everything wasn't quite integrated yet but going by the visual design it was clearly being worked on. To continue:

  • Telescopic Vision - fine, but it can still be replaced by binoculars or a scope
  • Danger Sense - At last, a useful power. It's explained in the text as some kind of minor telepathy springing from his super-brain. I'm not sure I'd allow it in an EC when it's conceptually different from his "uncanny ability to know the exact distance between any two objects" but we're on pretty shaky ground already with this guy.

Combat: He's supposed to be a behind-the-scenes mastermind but he has a force field and a damage aura so I think he's fair game. What if some rival copied his famous tape-measure belt and touched HIM? We would have a 6d6 energy attack vs. 16 points of ED. That's going to average out to 21 Stun and 6 Body. With 35 Stun and an 18 Con he could actually take that for awhile with no ill effects

Say he gets hit by the generic 12d6 Energy Blast - that's 42 Stun and 12 Body. That's going to let 26 Stun through, stunning him (Con 18 remember) and the second hit is going to floor him even if he gets a Recovery in there. So he's not particularly tough, and with a OCV/DCV of 6 his Speed of 5 is best used to run away. At least he doesn't have any x2 Body or Stun disadvantages.

He does have a pile of disads though: Arrogant, Overconfident, Ruthless, sees others as disposable, addicted to drugs, dependent on drugs - wow, that is an excuse for any kind of bad behavior the DM wants to engage in. He's also hunted by four different agencies, which seems like a fairly significant problem.

So we have a puntastic name and a ridiculous concept topped off with a weakly themed set of powers - what's not to like? Well, there's also a disconnect with the background. He is described as not being an action-seeking guy preferring to let his soldiers do the work but his powers are all dependent on direct action! The only thing useful out of combat is maybe his Forgery skill and his 28 Int! Even his tertiary abilities seem to be direct action-focused: Disguise, Security Systems, and a 30 point Gun Pool! Shouldn't he have minions or agents of some kind in their little ruler-themed uniforms? Maybe some kind of distance-distortion gun - mechanically an entangle that takes no damage from attacks? Maybe a flash attack themed as a cloud of numbers clouding one's vision? Some kind of telescoping ruler that is a monofilament blade? "I have discovered Measurement Zero! - Now taste it's edge!" I mean if you're going to crack open the can of goofy, then let's go all the way! Where is his nemesis hero Mister Metric? Come on!

Missile Deflection vs. all attacks, self only, OAF Ruler-fan, 10 points
(This really isn't that hard once you embrace the madness)
So there he is in all of his glory, the Ruler of Crime, likely the least-scary 597 point villain in all of Champions lore. I'll be keeping my eyes open for more like him as I read through some classic Champions material, but I don't know if I can top this one.


Jayson said...

Cool! Forgot how much fun these posts were.

Mick said...

Do not forget "Vulnerable to Mind Scan". For a crimelord whose first concern is to be undetectable and manipulate pawns from behind the scenes it looks like the perfect Disad.

Justin S. Davis said...

Ugh. European Enemies was THE WORST.