Saturday, 4 May 2019

Heroes Unlimited: Phenomenal Paragons: Ms. Fury (Magic: Bestowed)

Dahlia Drake grew up on a diet of her great grandmother Marla's tall tales of her adventures as the wartime adventuress Miss Fury. After her passing Dahlia found herself in possession of, or perhaps possessed by, Marla's panther skin catsuit. Now she patrols Guardian City, against the neo-Nazi threat, as Ms. Fury.

This is the fourth character in my Phenomenal Paragons series. The introduction to which is here. It is inspired by Jacob Pisson's World's Strongest series, here.

Miss Fury was the first female super hero, beating Wonder Woman to print by six months. She was the also the first created and written by a woman. June Tarpe Mills, came up with Miss Fury as a reaction to the usually tepid woman found in the early golden age comics. Mills was a fashion illustrator who turned to comics creating a character who was a mix of action and high fashion.

I first learned of Miss Fury when Google recommended a news article about her, all the way from Australia. You can read it here.

Miss Fury is now a public domain character. The last big comic company to hold her rights was Timely, ironically making her a Marvel character. Thankfully those rights have now lapsed. More recently Dynamite Comics published two, possibly three, distinctly different takes on the character. One is a viscous and violent cat burglar who fights Nazis across time and space and singularly misses every beat and is tone deaf to the source material. That Miss Fury is written and drawn for the male gaze. The other is closer to the original, although it is suggested that her powers come from a feline spirit that possesses her. That story can be found in the trade paperback Miss Fury: The Minor Key and I highly recommend it. The third was in the Masks comics, a collective re-imagining of the classic pulp heroes. I've yet to read any of them. Those characters belong to Dynamite and are distinctly different from the original.

This means that my take on the character can't take anything from either. So no time travel and no possession-by-panther. However the mystical angle is from the original so I take that as my root. Instead of transplanting the original character to the modern era I decide on making my Miss Fury a Legacy character.

The rulebook has a section on Legacies. Uncharacteristically for a Palladium game there are no mechanical effects; it's all roleplaying. It asks the right questions and suggests some answers. In this case it confirms my original intent; that the power and name of Miss Fury has been passed down the Drake line from mother to daughter since the end of the war.

Only Marla didn't have a daughter but a son. An adopted son at that (The offspring of an ex-beau, and her nemesis). Having the current Miss Fury be Marla's granddaughter, be my generation and thus my age, didn't feel right. So I went with great granddaughter instead.

The original Miss Fury was more like a Physical Training character than a mystically bestowed one, with Marla Drake depending more upon her 'natural' abilities and skills than the suggested magic of her catsuit. Indeed in her entire career she only wears the thing five times; apparently fearing the curse supposedly attached to it. But reading between the lines it appears to me that the suit could be considered to be the source of her abilities.

This gives me two options for her character class: Enchanted Object or Mystical Bestowal. Enchanted object felt right but I wanted to go with mystical bestowal instead. Perhaps it is only an enchanted catsuit, except to the heir of a true wielder. Perhaps there is no magic there at all and its every power comes from some outside source; Perhaps she is chosen by some spirit of vengeance to be their agent upon the world. All things that could be explored in a game.

The Usual

The book just launches into telling us what bonuses we get as a mystically bestowed character but we know the drill by now. 11 for every attribute.

Then there is the transformation. Every bestowed character gets their transformation sequence. Say a magic word, or something, and the hero is transformed into their heroic persona. Very magical girl. It doesn't say how long this takes beyond being "instant". So less than a single action. For this character I'd choose to handwave it. "You go to change and realise that you already have..."
What's more important for us right now is the effects of the transformation. +2d6 M.A. and P.S. as well as +1d6 P.P. These have a minimum of 18, 20 and 18 respectively. Spd is multipled by 5 and has a minimum of 24. Finally there's +3d6x10 SDC. This gives us +7 M.A., +7 P.S., +3 P.P., +100 SDC and a +4 to saves versus Anti-Magic (given our abilities are magical in nature then they can only be nullified by magic).

There's a bit more about the transformation and the duration of dispelling effects upon the character before move onto some, thankfully optional, rules for giving the character "Physical Limitations". This comes close to the territory of the Empowered class from the second Powers Unlimited volume, which I'll deal with in another post.

Type of Bestowed Ability

We have a chart of possible combinations of powers, combat abilities and magic spells. Having some idea of what I want I select the option of 1 major power and 2 minor powers combined with Expert hand-to-hand.

For my major power I go with Animal Abilities: Big Cat.
This increases muscle mass by 30 lbs, grants natural climbing and prowling skills, doubles normal eyesight and grants 100' nightvision. +30 SDC, +3 P.S. and +5 P.P..  She can jump 20' straight up, 40' across and fall or drop up to 80' without being harmed (and she lands on her feet). She has a roar that can be heard up to a mile and a half away and can control 4 of any type of cat and one time, plus an additional cat per level. So she starts with the ability to control 5 cats. Nice.
Up to the roar everything fits with the original character, sort of.
Both roaring and cat herding make sense within the rough powerset and theme of the character and it's believable that since Marla spent so little time wearing the suit she might not have been aware of its full capabilities.
For my first minor power I select Physical Perfection:
This power is something of a figurative double edged sword. The character appears to be at the peak of human perfection, which means that they look 1d4 levels higher than they are and thus draw all the aggro. Thankfully the character is actually slightly more capable gaining, in our case, +2 M.A., +2 P.S., +1 P.P., +1 P.E., +7 P.B. (with a minimum of 19), +4 Spd., +17 SDC, +7 HP, and +5% to save versus Coma.
The second minor power is Claws:
This an effective hand-to-hand attack and a canonical one for the character. Although I suspect that they're supposed to be more wolverine than kitteh but there's no "small claws" power.
Claws do 3d6 damage plus any bonuses from strength. They get +1 strike and disarm, +2 parry and pull punch.

We're given how much PPE (magic points) we get. In our case 30 points.

Special Bonuses and Abilities:

Again we're reminded about the transformation; "Creates a costume or "battle dress" out of thin air." We get a +1 save versus magic, a +1 save versus possession (with increases at later levels), +2 save versus horror (ditto), +2 initiative and +2 pull punch.

Other Stuff for the Mystically Bestowed:

Now for everything else.
Alignment is Scrupulous.
I decide that her education is at the level of a Bachelor's degree. Which is 4 scholastic programs with +20%, and 10 secondary skills. A degree in journalism seems suitable; a Lois Lane type of investigative journalism who hides her identity under a byline. I double down on the Journalism program, selecting the following skills:
Computer Ops,
Surveillance Systems,
Pick Locks,
Streetwise, and
Interrogation. I double again on the last skill to get a +10% to it.
Next I pick the Physical program as I see her as an active girl, always off on adventures somewhere, like her great grandmother, looking for the next big story. I select:
Acrobatics, Kick attack at 2d4 damage, +15% climb, +5% prowl, +2 roll with impact, +1 P.S., +1 P.P., +1 P.E., +3 SDC.
Gymnastics, +5% climb, +5% prowl, +2 roll with impact, +2 P.S., +1 P.P., +2 P.E., +7 SDC.
Martial Arts Hand-to-hand, I initially pictured the character having Basic hand-to-hand in her normal identity and the transformation granted Expert hand-to-hand in her super identity. However the rules are clear, that's not allowed. So I take my Basic hand-to-hand pick, add it to the two-pick equivalent Expert hand-to-hand to get the three-pick choice of Martial Arts hand-to-hand. This is available in either identity, bringing the character concept back towards the original, who was a scrapper whatever she wore. I feel less bad about it as I spent one of my scholastic picks when I could have used a secondary skill instead.
Running, +1 P.E., +10 Spd., +3 SDC.
For her final program I choose Piloting. She's adventurous so she knows several forms of transport. I choose:
For her secondary skills I select:
Athletics, +1 parry and dodge, +1 roll with impact, +1 P.S., +3 Spd., +5 SDC.
Body Building, +2 P.S., +10 SDC.
Radio:Basic, as she'll need to know how to use radio as a pilot and sailor.
Land Navigation,
W.P. Whip, +1 to strike, +0 entangle.
Wilderness Survival.
Hand-to-hand and attacks per melee are already sorted. As for armour and weapons, she has a bullwhip and Great-granny's Webley is oiled and in a box ready for use.
When it comes to SDC, in her normal form she has a base of 10 and gets +10 from being mystically empowered. in her super form she has a base of 60.
finances wise she had the £7,000 in savings nearly all these characters start with. She lives in the house she inherited and drives a 2017 VW Golf in charcoal grey. There's a beautifully maintained Vincent Black Shadow in the garage if she ever feels in the mood.

Name: Dahlia Alena Drake
Super Identity: Ms. Fury.
Level: 1, Mystically Bestowed Abilities
Height: 5'7", Weight: 140/170 lbs (nearly all of it muscle)
Alignment: Scrupulous.
Disposition: Tough loner. Tends to dive into trouble head first and fears taking others into danger with her.
Team: The Furies.
IQ 11, ME 11, MA 11/20, PS 17/29, PP 13/24, PE 15/16, PB 11/19, Spd 24/140
Hit Points 18/26, S.D.C. 38/235, P.P.E. 30
Transformation: When wearing her costume her attributes become those after the slash and she gains +4 to all saves versus anti-magic effects. Changing into her costume is an instantaneous effect.
Animal Abilities, Big Cat:
  • Natural Climb
  • Natural Prowl
  • Twice normal human vision and hearing 
  • Nightvision out to 100'. 
  • Leap 20' straight up, 40' across, and drop/fall 80' without harm. 
  • Can utter a roar that can be heard a mile and a half away.
  • Can control 5 cats of any kind. 
Physical Perfection.

Natural Skills.
Charm/Impress 45%, Climb 85% (Rappelling 75%), Prowl 73%, Trust/Intimidate 60%
Scholastic Skills.
Acrobatics (Balance 62%, Tightrope 63%, Rope Climb 72%, Back Flip 55%), Basic Maths, Computer Ops, Gymnastics (Balance 53%, Bars & Rings, Rope 63%, Climb 62%, Back Flip 72%), Horsemanship, Interrogation, Martial Arts HtH, Photography, Pick-locks, Pilot Airplane, Pilot Automobile, Pilot Motorcycle, Pilot Sailing, Read/Write English, Research, Running, Speak English, Streetwise, Surveillance Systems, Writing (Journalism).
Secondary Skills.
Athletics, Art, Basic Radio, Body Building, Cooking, Land Navigation, Seduction, Swimming, W.P. Whip, Wilderness Survival.

Coma/Death: +9%
Harmful Drugs/Toxins (15+): +1
Horror Factor: +2
Magic (Spells 12+, Circles/Wards 13+, Ritual 16+): +2
Poison (Lethal 14+, Non-Lethal 16+): +2
Psionics (15+): +0
Possession: +2

Initiative: +5
Attacks per Round:  2+2
Strike: +5, +6 (Claws), +6 (whip)
Damage: +2/+14
1d4+2 Unpowered Punch
 1d4+14 Powered Punch
 2d4+2 Unpowered Kick/whip
 2d4+14 Powered Kick/whip
 3d6+14 Claws
Parry: +6, +8 (Claws)
Dodge: +6
Roll with Impact: +3
Pull Punch: +10, +12 (Claws).
Disarm: +1 (Claws)
Entangle: +0 (whip)

Carry Capacity: 340/580 lbs; Lifting: 680/1,160 lbs
Stamina: Carry Max 60/64 minutes, 30/32 minutes while running or fighting. Lifting for 15/16 rounds (225/240 seconds; 3.75/4 minutes)
Ground Speed: 16.8/98 mph for 15/16 minutes
Swimming Speed: 51/87 yrds (153/261ft.) per round for 15/16 minutes.
Leaping Distance: 4/24ft. high; 8.5/48.5ft. broad. 8/88ft drop.

Dahlia Drake never really believed her great grandmother Marla's tall tales of her war time exploits. But inspired by them Dahlia made her own pale adventures in the form of extreme sports and a nose for a good story. As a child it was climbing trees and finding lost cats but as an adult it became parkour, flying, base jumping, covering activism and uncovering corruption. Dahlia recorded everything anonymously on her blog, which she had named in honour of Marla's alter ego, giving it a modern twist at Marla's suggestion; "Ms. Fury".

When the old woman passed a few years north of a century Dahlia unexpectedly found herself the inheritor of the old holiday home on Ennor. Led through the Spanish Ward manse by a cryptic letter she uncovered a hidden room. Within were Marla Drake's secret journals, souvenirs of her escapades, and a slinky black leather catsuit. With an attached cat-like hood and a selection of lined capes.

In spite of its age the catsuit was as good as new, supple and strong. To say it spoke to Dahlia would be nonsense. No actual words passed between woman and garment. But yet she could not resist its siren call all the same. It was foolish of course. In her youth Marla had been lithe and sensual whereas Dahlia was broad and muscular. Homey, rather than beautiful. Yet still as she slipped naked into the suit she found it fit her perfectly. She felt strong, flexible, powerful and, regarding herself in a full length mirror, sexy.

Unexpectedly keen senses were alerted to a noise outside; a cry for help. Curiosity piqued, Dahlia pounced through a window and across the rooftops of the Spanish Ward. A clowder of cats led her to a ledge beneath which three men wrestled with an unwilling woman in a dirt strewn alleyway. As they tore at  the woman's dress Dahlia felt rage burn in her breast. Where once she would have hesitated in fear now she did not falter. In the spirit of the sorority of womankind she launched herself down three floors into the rubbish filled alley below. The first man fell beneath her, taking the full impact of her descent. She crouched above him and let loose a feline howl. The other two men suddenly forgot their victim as the found themselves beset upon by the black cowled she-cat. One. Two. They fell to Dahlia's fists as she fought with a ferocity and skill she had never felt before. The woman that they had assaulted fled the alley without thanking her rescuer, but it did not matter.

Back on the rooftop Dahlia exulted. She realised that the stories were all true. Marla had truly fought against fascism as Miss Fury. Now, in the twenty first century, with the evil of fascism on the rise again, misogyny still strong, and dozens if not a thousand other evils, Dahlia decided that it was long past time for the return of the night-garbed dynamo. Ms. Fury.

Join me next week as I create an...  85... Hardware Hero... 77...

Analytical Genius!

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