Saturday, February 5, 2011

Unfortunate Character Choices - Sledge

This week: another supervillain from 1982's "Enemies" supplement for Champions. The awesome concept making this villain worthy of a place in a supervillain supplement? He, uh, lost a hand and replaced it with a sledgehammer. Yep, that's it.

Now I kind of like the idea of the hammer-handed-hero (or villain) but everything about this one from the illustration to the mechanics is lame. Technical issues:

  • You have a hammer for a hand. What does that do for you in-game?  According to this it adds 2d6 to your Strength damage. With a 50 Str he already punches for 10d6, so the hammer takes it to 12d6, and that's it - no enhanced knockback, no armor-piercing, no extra Stun multiplier, no area effect slam or shockwave - it's just a rather weak damage bump. Wow.
  • Speaking of that 50 Str, where does that come from? He can lift 25 tons - he didn't get that from an NFL workout program, I don't care what kind of drugs he was on! Was it part of the experiment that took his hand? It doesn't say. Having a 50 Str is a far more important and life-changing ability than having a hammer for a hand, yet we don't learn a thing about it in the paragraph of description that we get here. 
  • Does replacing your right hand with a block of metal have any downside? Not according to the stat sheet. It offers no physical limitation (the most obvious disad) but it does generate a 15-point psych limit of being sensitive to insults about it.   
  • His other disads are just random - double Stun from sonics, explosions, vibration, and radiation attacks? Why? How are those things related? A pair of Hunteds, OK. Then, of course, Secret Identity - Really? How exactly? He's a big bad dude missing his right hand and he somehow maintains a secret ID? Being generous, we can assume the hammer unscrews or something but what if it didn't? Does he work as a pirate mascot of some kind? This is just really not well thought-out.
So let's see what kind of thought went into attacks and defenses. A 12d6 hammer-slap against himself would  do an average of 12 Body and 42 Stun. His PD of 25 (another unexplained ability) will stop the Body and let through 17 Stun. With a Con of 28 he's not going to Stun himself and with 53 Stun he can take 3 punches before he's in trouble. That's not terrible. In Champions a 50 Str is a typical starting point for a "Brick" character so he's alright there. He's in serious trouble though if he gets attacked by a Sonic or Radiation blaster though - ED of 15 and 2X Stun means that a 12d6 EB would inflict 54 Stun (Average 42 Stun, 27 get through his energy defense which is then doubled) knocking him unconscious in one shot. That's pretty weak for a Brick type character. I've noticed a lot of this in older Champions write-ups - there are way too many 2X Stun vulnerabilities tossed around, especially on characters with low defenses.

So yes, I think this is a rather weak character though not as ridiculous as some (Frizbe). How could we make it better?

  1. Better illustration
  2. Make the hammer matter. Give it a shock effect, maybe a 3d6 NND Stun attack. Make it armor-piercing vs. power armor suits and let him be a nemesis for your battlesuit player . Give him extra knockback from a wallop. Anything to make him a more memorable and more effective villain. 
  3. Give him a little bit more background. Many of the baddies in this book are tied to Viper or some evil organization - tie him to those and make him an enemy of them so you can set up an enemy-of-my-enemy situation with the PC's. 
For Atomic City I would probably recast him as a  cyborg and replace his whole arm with an obvious chromed replacement and something like a thunderhammer from Warhammer 40K The pro-athlete burnout/accident victim who seeks alternative means of power could work just fine as a superhero or villain. It just needs more than this guy got in 1982.


Adam Dickstein said...

I have the uncontrollable desire to redraw these characters in line with your updated ideas.

More Mooks Please!

Blacksteel said...

I'm all for that - draw away!

My drawing ability was "good" in my own opinion in about 9th Grade. Unfortunately it has remained there ever since so I will not be sharing on the blog. My game illustrations would best be described as "sketches" and even my players tend to make fun of them, so they will remain strictly analog. Thank goodness for google image searches.

I've seen the ones on the walls of your internet home though and I would be honored to help kickstart the the inspiration process.

Blair said...

The solution for this guy is to make him an Encounter Critical character...

Blacksteel said...

Even with my limited knowledge of EC (mainly from Jeff's blog) I can see where that might work.