Saturday, 15 June 2019

Heroes Unlimited: Phenomenal Paragons: The Steel Goth (Bionics)

A moments decision changed the life of mobster Gaute Balodis forever. An assassin's bullet intended for his boss's youngest daughter instead left Gaute paralysed from the neck down. Forever grateful his boss commissioned an autonomous life support mechanism, a cyborg body, and had Gaute's disembodied brain transferred into it. Now he is the enforcer known as The Steel Goth.
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This is the ninth character in my Phenomenal Paragons series. The introduction to which is here. It is inspired by Jacob Pisson's World's Strongest series, here.

I'm going to be honest here. I don't like the Bionics/Cyborg characters in these rules. It's partly because they haven't updated the technology since the 1980s and also because it's so off-the-shelf. Bionics feels like something that should be added to a character and not something they should be built around.

The classic Bionic Man, Steve Austin, is an astronaut and a test pilot before becoming a cyborg secret agent. But he had the secret agent skillset to begin with, he was just too busy with the astronaut stuff. The bionics made him super but he was already most of the way there skills wise.

Likewise Misty Knight was already a kickass kung-fu cop before getting her Stark-built prosthesis. She didn't need the bionic super-strength to kick names and take arses but it helps. Unless you try to build her in this system, where bionics disrupt Chi powers... In which case it gets in the way.

Which brings me to the other thing I dislike about how bionics are handled in Palladium. They are awfully ableist. For a start they nerf all the power points pools, P.P.E., I.S.P., C.H.I.... No wait the last one is just "Chi". These are halved. As are the range, duration and effects of anything they power.

Why? Balance, apparently. Not that these actually balance anything. Nor is any other part of the system balanced like that. Indeed, especially in Rifts, balance is something that happens to other systems. In truth it's just to stop people building characters with all the abilities and the replacing their bodies with 'invulnerable' bionics. But in fact all this does is make the characters less able. The whole purpose of prosthesis is to counter disabilities, not cause them. if losing a limb doesn't reduce Chi, or any of the others, then neither should replacing said limb with bionics.

Suffice to say it's not how I'd handle the issue. That is a post for when I get back into game design.

 Step One: The Usual.

Elevens across the board as per. There's a note about not worrying too much about physical attributes as they are liable to being replaced by the cybernetics. Ditto with the SDC. There's no note about P.P.E.; I can't decide if I should use the default supers value (20), or the default value for normal people (10). In the end, and knowing that it's going to be halved anyway, I go for 10.

Step Two: Education and Skills.

I decided to use the expanded education table I used for Aditi. I rolled up Trade School and a roll on the sub-table gave me a Basic Thug. This gives me the Rogue: Thug program and an additional rogue program. These and the default skills are at +5%. I also have 8 secondary skills. This set of packages limits me alignment wise. I pick Anarchist because it maximises options.

The default skills I get are: Native Language, Native Literacy, and Basic Maths.

Rogue: Thug gives me: Pilot Motorcycle, Running (+1 PE, +10 Spd, +3 SDC), and a pick from a short list of Weapon Proficiencies. I take Blunt, Chain and Knife.

For my second rogue program I go with Rogue: Enforcer/Bodyguard. This gives me Hand-to-Hand Martial Arts, Body Building (+2 PS, +10 SDC), Boxing (+1 attack per round, +2 parry and dodge, +2 PS, +1 roll with impact, and +10 SDC), I swap out Running for Wrestling (+1 roll with impact, +2 PS, +1 PE and +14 SDC). I also get Pilot Automobile, and Pilot Truck. Both with an additional +5%. Finally I get to pick a firearm and go with W.P. automatic Pistol.

Lastly comes the eight secondary skills. I pick: Athletics (+1 parry and dodge, +1 roll with impact, +1 PS, +3 Spd, +5 SDC), Swimming, SCUBA, Cooking, Fishing, Preserve Food, Pilot Motorboat,  and Basic Mechanics. Obviously the character owns a boat and likes fishing.

Step Three: Budget.

Budget is always maximum. In this case 10 million dollars pounds.

Step Four: Building a Cyborg.

Full Brain Transplant Cyborg.

Yes I'm going all out here. It's a predesigned package which simplifies my choices into a few options.
Every part of the character, except their brain, is cybernetic. These cybernetics gives us a PS of 24, PP 22, and Spd 120. The cyborg body has 350 SDC but is coated with an armour with AR 18 and 900 SDC. The armour penalises prowl, climb, acrobatics and similar skills by -30%. They have Advanced Optics (whatever that is; I can't find it in the bionics section) including an eye weapon. I go for a Laser Eye. Advanced Sensors (again, no idea), including Radar and Mini Computer. An energy weapon, I go for a Laser Rod, two Large Retractable Forearm Blades and two chest mounted Mini-Missile Launchers.
This is priced at £9.5 million.

Searching through the rules I discover that Advanced Optics are from the robot section.
Advanced Optics gives colour vision, 3D analysis, night sight, IR and UV vision. All out 2000 feet.
There are no "Advanced Sensors", but Advanced Audio from robots grants stereo audio, amplified hearing x5, inaudible frequencies, and a wide range (50 mile) radio receiver. 
There's two types of "micro-radar" which have identical statistics. Being able to identify 15 targets and track 6 within a mile radius.
There's no "Mini Computer" but there is a Combat Computer which adds +2 initiative, +1 strike, +1 parry and dodge. It also adds 10 simultaneous targets to radar tracking.

No wait. I found the mini-computer. Someone forgot to hit return at the end of the paragraph for the internal calculator above it. The mini-computer is a micro-processor with a whole 640K of memory and costs £300,000...

Urm. I can't find any commercially available computers in that price range. This part of the rules has  not aged well.

Step Five: Background Data.

Condition:

Acute Spinal Injury

Sponsor:

Secret.

Motive:

Criminal.

Status:

Ejected from program. Sponsor hostile.

Okay let's put this together. A common criminal; enforcer/bodyguard, suffers a spinal injury which leaves them paralysed. A secret criminal organisation then shells out 10 million in turning them into a cyborg. Then for some reason they get kicked out and are allowed to keep their new cybernetic body. Instead of just being killed and the cybernetics recycled for a more deserving volunteer. The organisation must have really owed the character.


Name: Gaute Balodis
Identity: The Steel Goth
Height: 6'6", Weight: 500 lbs. Age: 32
Alignment: Anarchist
Disposition: An emotional hot head with a temper.

IQ 11, ME 11, MA 11, PS 24, PP 22,  PE 13,  PB 11,  Spd 130.
Hit Points: 16, S.D.C.: 350 (900, A.R. 18), P.P.E.: 5.

Cybernetics.:
See above.

Skills.:
Scholastic Skills.:
Basic Maths, Body Building, Boxing, English Language, English Literacy, Hand-to-Hand Martial Arts, Pilot Automobile, Pilot Motorcycle, Pilot Truck, Running, W.P. Blunt, W.P. Chain, W.P. Knife, W.P. Pistol, Wrestling.
Secondary Skills.:
Athletics, Basic Mechanics, Cooking, Fishing, Pilot Motorboat, Preserve Food, SCUBA, Swimming.

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

Combat:
Initiative: +4
Attacks per Round: 2+2+1
Strike: +1; (+2 forearm blade, +3 laser eye)
Damage: +9
 1d4+9 Punch
 1d6+9 Club
 1d6+10 Large Forearm Blade
 2d6 Laser Eye
 4d6 Laser Rod
Dodge: +4
Parry: +4 (+5 forearm blade)
Roll with Impact: +3
Pull Punch: +6

Benchmarks:
Carry Capacity:  lbs; Lifting  lbs.
Stamina: .
Ground Speed: 91 mph.
Swimming Speed:  yards ( ft.) per round.
Leaping Distance:  ft. high,  ft. broad from a running start.  ft. high,  ft. broad from a standing start.

Background:
Gaute Balodis, Norwegian mother and Latvian father but Ennor born and raised. His family fell into hard times and Gaute fell into a life of crime. He was drawn into the Strickland mob and used his imposing height to good effect as first enforcer and then bodyguard for higher ups in the mob and members of the Strickland familia. It was while he was doing the latter that his life changed completely.

While guarding the birthday party of the youngest Strickland, Dorotea, a group of triad assassins attacked seeking to disrupt the celebrations. They were fought off but not before Gaute took a bullet, intended for the birthday girl, to the spine. Having deliberately put himself in the line of fire.
He should have died then but the family rewarded his loyalty by keeping him alive. They spent a fortune in resources replacing his paralyzed body with a mechanical one.

By the time he'd recovered the Stricklands had used their more esoteric resources to take revenge on the Triads. Denied revenge, Gaute began to blame the Chinese community as a whole for his injury. His ire spread to other immigrants and drew him to the attention of the White Knights, a white supremacist front for the Ebon Lords. The knights guided Gaute to "approved" targets for his anger.

When the Stricklands discovered Gaute's dual loyalties they cast him out from the mob. Now he works as a mercenary selling his criminal talents to whomever can pay or provide for his maintenance.


And that's all for now.
If you're reading these words it means that I've failed to keep up to date with character write-ups and Versus battles. Which means that there's likely to be a wee break while I catch up. It's not like I've no characters. I've many. It's just that writing them up takes time and sometimes I stall. Usually on backgrounds.

It currently takes me around 2 weeks to create and write-up 3 characters, and about another fortnight to plan and write a Versus battle. I have some characters in reserve but not written up. However I lack a Versus right now. As I write this I have 10 days to get it planned and written. If I can get something sorted in the next 2 days you won't even see these words.

So join me next time, whenever that might be, for some more...

Phenomenal Paragons!

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