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[SUPERS] Better Angels: A Setting Idea

GregStolze

Go Play REIGN!
Validated User
Esther Minges was driving home from work in her Honda Fit, trying to figure out how to stretch her budget across five line items when there was really only money to do one of them properly. She was paying sufficient attention to the road, but not to the sky, which was why she was profoundly surprised when something swooped down, picked up her car, and wrenched open the roof like a hungry teen tearing into a bag of Fritos.

When she saw the distinctive mask of Desecrator Dread, well-known as the most forthright and direct of the Villainous Nine, she screamed, and she kept screaming as the razor spurs on the heels of his costume sliced through her seat belt. The car fell with a thunderous crash as he plucked her out of it (like a single curled chip, to continue the Frito metaphor, though corn chips don't scream) and swooped out into the night.

"AAAAIGH! NO, PLEASE, I WANT TO LIVE!" Esther shrieked.

"You'll live," Desecrator Dread replied.

"Let me go put me down please please please..."

"Not even a 'thank you'? Clearly I caved in too quickly on letting you live," he said, and then they'd arrived.

They were in the mountains, somewhere. A campfire burned before her, and as her eyes adjusted she took in the bulk of the infamous Cat O' Nine Tails, the air/sea/land assault craft of the Villainous Nine. She swallowed, hard, and then recognized the distinctive profiles of the seven figures emerging into the red glow. Ripperclaw. The Mess. Violator. The Big Shot. Guts and Brains, always more dangerous together than apart. And then, arising from the fire itself, their leader: General Null.

"Hi," Null said.

"Please let me go this must be some mistake I'm nobody important oh God please don't kill me..."

"No one's going to kill you," Null said, and she noticed that his frightful fanged faceplate was unsnapped on one side, dangling loose and revealing a slight double chin and chapped lips. "Look, calm down. Violator, d'you mind...?"

"Right." A nod from the peculiar helm of the Nine's premier psychic, and Esther found herself clear headed, so calm it was almost eerie.

"So," Null continued. "We're bad guys. You know this, you've seen us rob banks, hold various nations hostage, kidnap heads of state, threaten to blow up the moon and so on..."

"Everyone knows you," Esther said warily.

"Ever wonder why we do it?"

"Um... I guess I just figured... er..." She trailed off.

"Insufficient mommy lovin'?" asked The Big Shot in his distinctive Texas drawl. "Yer a social worker, right? Maybe even had some sympathy for us, I reckon."

"What do you want?" she asked.

"You're surely aware that Doomslaughter got captured, right? Front page news, triumph of good, yadda yadda, he's being held in an impenetrable prison beneath the earth's crust and so on."

"I caught that, yes."

"So we're one short."

Esther blinked. "You... think I can help you get him out? I can't... I mean, I run a homeless shelter."

"Doing a fine job you with limited resources, too," Brains added, and Guts grunted in agreement.

"You're a good person," Violator said, in that eerie echoless voice that always sounded as if it was right behind your ear. "Genuinely decent inside. Just like we were, once."

"What?"

"Did you ever wonder where we all got these crazy powers?" Ripperclaw asked.

"I figured... radiation accidents, mutations, experiments...?"

"Naw, 's all demons," Guts said. "An' them damn fool heroes? All freakin' angels. Lucky bastards."

"I'm not sure I follow."

"Angels are spirits that want to do good, and demons are spirits that want to do bad. That's clear enough, right? So what happens when an evil spirit gets into the body of an evil person?"

"Um..."

"EVIL!" The Mess barked, his breath making her flinch. "The rider I got in me, Shaklakar the Potent? Used to have Ghengis fucking Khan as a host. Rampaged across Asia and Europe leaving piles of heads and thousands of rape victims behind him. Sure, I've burned down a few forests, I killed the last Lesser Spotted Prairie Chicken, kept the eastern seaboard browned out for three days but I don't think there's anything on my conscience to compare with the Golden Horde!"

"Mess used to be a beat cop in Detroit," Null said. "We recruited him after he was forced off the force for whistle-blowing. Like you, he was a normal, every day good person."

"I used to teach in an inner-city high school," Brains said.

"Civic reformer," Ripperclaw rumbled.

"Null here was a no-shit Zen priest," Desecrator said.

"I don't believe you," Esther muttered. "This is some trick."

"Do you have a better explanation?" Brains asked. "I'm a genius who invented a super-sonic plane that runs on water, along with a material stronger than diamond, flexible as tissue, and selectively adherent depending on what kind of electrical charge you run through it. With a few patents, I could be a multibillionaire and then go about undermining small African nations for my personal amusement or, or funding genocides or making nukes for nuts if I wanted to efficiently maximize my production of human suffering. What have I done instead? The Chicago Giggles Plague? Holding America's highways hostage? C'mon."

"You killed Morris Stanwick," Esther said quietly, and Brains looked away.

"Yeah," he said. "I killed Stanwick. Rider got the better of me that day... no way out." His voice had become sad, and bitter. "But the rest of those feds just got shot in the legs. Talked it into that, told it they'd suffer longer and slow down the rest of the pursuit."

"So you see how it is," Null broke in. "You have to walk that line. Keep your demon... entertained. It loves death and sadism and carnage but... sometimes even more, it loves spectacle. If you're flamboyant enough, you hardly have to kill anyone at all."

"Do the heroes know this?" she asked, head spinning.

The Mess shrugged. "Some don't care. Some don't know. Some don't believe. They ain't the real problem anyhow."

"No," said Null. "They're not. The real problem are people who have demons and get along with them just fine. They're the ones who don't dress up, don't take wildly evocative names, don't rob armored cars with their bare hands or steal the Liberty Bell."

"Or people who fought the good fight, cagers like us, but went over the edge."

"Doomslaughter," The Big Shot said grimly.

"They're covering it up, but those Lightning League pussies couldn't stop him before he wiped out a couple hundred civilians. Hell, they wouldn't have even caught him if Null here hadn't shot him in the back with that bazooka."

"It's called the 'Nullzooka'," the General said mildly.

"So you want me to... to be like you? A 'host' for a demon parasite?"

"Yep," Brains said cheerfully. "Think it over, but not for too long."

"Take this," Ripperclaw said, holding out a strange necklace. "If you're wearing that, it'll draw Doomslaughter's spirit when it gets loose."

"Wait, I thought you said Doomslaughter was... imprisoned, trapped beneath the earth's crust. You said it was a prison that no one could escape."

"Oh, we're not going to help him escape," Null said. "That's flat impossible. But if we destroy the whole place, he'll die."

"No," Esther said, flinging the amulet to her feet. "No, I won't. I can't."

"Okay," Null said, and turned towards the plane. "C'mon troops, we're burning starlight here."

"That's... that's it?"

"You were expecting a 'No one defies the Villainous Nine' speech? Nah. We have to leave right now to kill our old pal." He paused, with his back to her, and when he spoke there was an edge of malice in his voice. "Of course, if you don't put the fucking necklace on, who knows what kind of host Doomslaughter's familiar is going to find? They aren't perfect judges of character, but ol' Doomy was a philanthropist surgeon who left a lucrative Boston practice to take penicillin to kids in the Congo. And he went ballistic after a while. But hey, if your faith in the average man is strong enough, roll the dice. Actually, it'll probably be the somewhat-less-honest-than-average man. But who knows? The demon could screw up royally and wind up stuck in someone even better equipped to restrain it than a woman who has, if you'll pardon the observation, sacrificed her youth and her whole life to the downtrodden, addicted and insane. If you think that's likely, or that your conscience can handle the possibilities... sure, drop the necklace or give it to a co-worker or whatever. But don't think too long. We're icing him at midnight."

-G.
 

Bailywolf

bwakbwak
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Fuck yes.

You write, I buy, my crew and I play.

-B
 

HyperBear

Formerly 'agoodall'
Validated User
I'd buy it, and I wouldn't even have to force my group to play it.

One question: is "Doomslaughter" pronounced like "Doom Slaughter" or "Doom's Laughter"? Because they both fit...
 

robertliguori

New member
Banned
I want mechanics.

Can spirits possess and leave hosts at will? Does the amulet inhibit a spirit leaving? Do spirits have lesser options for influencing the world than possession (say, being genius loci, or riding animals)? Can you lock away a spirit in a brain-dead body, or does that just get you a very weak but totally unresisting of demonic influence supervillain?

Finally, are there any mechanics by which spirits can interact with the world other than them engaging in possession? Say, can you rip them out of a host, put them into a bottle, and have General Null launch the bottle into a temporal null-zone?
 

Sayter

Registered User
Validated User
Definitely want to see mechanics for fighting the inner demon here. I imagine willpower would be the primary factor involved.
 

TavishArtair

Half-Lurker Elf
I want mechanics.

Can spirits possess and leave hosts at will? Does the amulet inhibit a spirit leaving? Do spirits have lesser options for influencing the world than possession (say, being genius loci, or riding animals)? Can you lock away a spirit in a brain-dead body, or does that just get you a very weak but totally unresisting of demonic influence supervillain?

Finally, are there any mechanics by which spirits can interact with the world other than them engaging in possession? Say, can you rip them out of a host, put them into a bottle, and have General Null launch the bottle into a temporal null-zone?
I'm willing to bet that's a "no" on the possess and leave hosts at will thing. it sounds like the amulet is just a hook, not a cage. The real cage is the human. They probably are powerless when not attached to someone, even, likely not even capable of communication. If they could interview their hosts, they'd be a lot better at finding "good" ones.

My guess is that, inside a brain-dead body, they'd be freely capable of using their powers however they will. Sure, they may not be able of getting up and walking around normally, but what if they're telekinetic? Then it doesn't even matter if the legs or arms don't work.

I don't know if it's even possible to hold demonic spirits in anything but a body, and without the host, the demon probably can just wander anywhere. Inside a host who is totally unwilling, it seems like they could do whatever to make that host's life miserable, in order to drive them insane or kill them. The cagers have to dance for the demon's amusement, so holding out probably cuts their term short.
 

Chogokin

Registered User
Validated User
That is an awesome setting idea. Question:

If costumed supervillains are actually decent people who attempt to minimize the amount of destruction they are forced to do by engaging in ridiculously flamboyant acts of evil, rather than say, using their demonic powers to become politicians or CEOs and wreck economies or start wars, what does that make superheroes?

Could superheroes in this setting be basically evil, selfish, or narcissistic individuals who engage in ridiculously flamboyant acts of superheroism because it slakes their thirst for violence and attention without accomplishing much real social good, which they might be able to do if they used their angelic abilities instead to heal the sick, educate the ignorant, or uplift the downtrodden?
 

Zartes

Magnificent Bastard
Validated User
You sir are a legend. And one who must have somehow known I got Sorcerer yesterday :D
 
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