It was the first superhero game I ever played. One guy built a hero that essentially read “superman v2” named Olympian, and the power-gamer took abilities that made him adapt to almost anything if he makes a couple of save throws named Adept who was kinda like Martian Manhunter.. There was one other ‘vigilante’ dude that was like Rorschach met TRON, who was a wiz with computers named Protocol.
Our DM had also decided to run two villains in tandem to the heroes. I played a bombastic mad scientist named Doktor who was prone to mad cackling, was bald, and spoke with a super heavy German accent. My friend, who was extremely patient and loved roleplaying, played a simple street thug named Solomon. No real powers, but instead dumped all his points into arbitrary skills like assembling explosives and picking locks, things minions resorted to. He did, however, apparently enjoy my character OOC whenever we met, but IC, Solomon was quiet, thoughtful, and had almost no backstory. He didn’t even really have a costume, just wearing the simple white tank top, a medium length trenchcoat with a hood, and a hat with the local baseball team logo on it.
As the game progressed and we gained levels, the Adept became infamous for his flawless streak of crime solving and defeating the villains of the week, Protocol became the Batman of his city and foiled thug after thug, the Olympian slowly became the Superman of the world, becoming adored and famous to almost everyone.
The problem came when we realized that Olympians player was becoming That Guy with no turning back. With every level, he became more and more enamored with himself, and starting mixing up his OOC speak with his IC taunts. On more than one occasion when he and Doktor fought, the Olympian would actually let a few racial slurs out. He shrugged, thought ‘meh, he’ll get over it’. But he didn’t. He got worse. Much, much worse. And then as if it was the icebreaker, both Protocol and Adept began to follow suit.
Slowly, the three ‘heroes’ became even more dickish than the villains they were fighting, often using their oh-so-subtle influence to get themselves free shit from the city they were protecting, the one that they we’re supposed to because it was the right thing to do. Doktor and Solomon continued their operations, which converged quite a lot and we found ourselves become steadfast allies, honor among thieves and all that. I, being the one with the most connections, supplied us with various NEFARIOUS TOOLS OF EVIL, while he sunk points into stealth to the point that most people couldn’t pick him out of a lineup, he was so ‘uninteresting’. He acted as my hands, and we became brothers in blood.
Until we failed the heist.
I do not blame Solomon (If you’re reading this, I know it was a bad roll man, and I’m sorry this happened to you) for the series of unfortunate events that unfolded, but what eventually happened was we were discovered by Protocol, who called in Olympian and Adept to help him pummel the two criminals and their henchmen into the ground. Both Solomon and I were not designed for combat, so after they inevitably cleared out our goons, they attacked us. Doktor went down after his exoskeleton failed, and was promptly thrown against a wall, dealing a massive amount of damage. Solomon tried to help, but Adept becomes as strong as Olympian and begins to toss the broken body of the Doktor back to Olympian in a sick game of catch, laughing when the purposely miss the rolls and let my soon-to-be-corpse splat aginst the ground. This went on for an hour in game, and I broke character to ask them to stop. That only made them take it farther. Olympian picks up the Doktor, who is a bleeding mess of pulp, shattered teeth, and more than a few crushed organs. The Olympian looks over at Solomon, smiles heroically, and just flicks his finger under my chin. With superhuman strength. DM rules I’m as dead as they come, at least for the moment.
He threw my corpse in front of poor Solomon, who to this point, was upset that his partner-in-crime had taken such a beating from the so called ‘heroes’. OOC, Solomon asks for a time out and turns on Olympian and the heroes, asking them what posessed them into thinking that was how heroes acted, and why they thought it would be okay to be such monsters fighting a villain like that.
Olympian shrugged and said that’s how heroes work. As long as the bad guy is defeated, he’s the hero, and therefore, he’s right. I asked the DM if I could have my brain saved, and he allowed it, lest we had to roll a new villain for the setting. Solomon decides to sneak away, and slips from his bonds before sneaking away into the night, carrying the body of Doktor into the secret lab and allowing the machines to place his brain in a jar and sticking him into a new version of the exoskeleton.
Overall, I was upset they took me so easily and so cruelly, but Doktor set back to work and quickly got used to the lack of a body. Not Solomon. He just got very, very quiet. He started working seperate from me, popping in to purchase explosives and equipment, often trading it for simple tools, a few tips about what was going on in the NEFARIOUS UNDERWORLD the Doktor was a part of. I thought he was playing it safe, not trying to draw attention to his actions or anything so he could just continue on forever, but he had different plans apparently.
In the middle of the halftime show for the city, the lights went dead before rebooting up in the middle of an inning. Suddenly, all the screens boot up to show a video of Protocol fighting crime. It was a clip from the local news that was used in the latest ‘Who is Protocol?’ segement to talk about his vigilantism. It wasn’t anything new, not to the crowd, until it started playing longer than it most clips, and showed Protocol taking the beating a little too far. After leaving the thugs for dead, Protocol begins to sadistically torture them and then takes cash out of their wallet. What stung most for the Protocol player was that this wasn’t edited; He actually did this on numerous occasions. The player demanded the feed stop, but the DM says that the video is being streamed from a private server with a direct cable connection, and there’s no way for Protocol to stop the hundreds of clips and images of his once heroic visage being shown to be just as cruel as the thugs he fought. The final image? Protocol without his mask. And the words: “HYPOCRITE. HE IS JUST AS DANGEROUS AS THE CRIMINALS.”
Solomon, it turns out, had dumped EVERYTHING into sneak points, effectively becoming an un-person with such little presence that he was free to go where-ever the hell he wanted without a hero noticing him. He used this to trace Protocol and film him without his knowledge, gathering evidence whih he then streamed from, and here’s the kicker, Protocol’s own home computer. Protocol was killed by cops when they attempted to arrest him and he responded with a threatening motion that would have activated some kind of electric weapon had the cops not shot first.
Now the heroes are mad, and the city is in uproar with the idea of non-cops having a say in the justice system. Olympian, however, still has enough sway to calm them down and keep them happy with Adept and Olympian serving the public good. They devote a considerable amount of gametime to trying to locate Solomon for JUSTICE, but no dice. Doktor is approached by him, gives him a device called the ‘phase-net’ that I had made to create a containment field for Olympian. He promises me he’ll put it to use and I give it to him on credit.
Adept goes about is job, foiling a few crimes by himself. He chases after a few droids made by DOKTOR INKORPORATED, which lead him into a small brick room before stopping and promptly being smashed by his temporary strength. As he turns to leave, the door locks and the phase-net activates, stunning him momentarily before the DM informs him his head is starting to hurt.
See, in the game, there are two kinds of attacks: Physical and Other. Physical is fists, kicks, physical force, etc. Other is energy, magic, or spiritual. The phase-net operates using psychic energy as a weapon to stun characters, but because Olympian is so bullshit, he powers through it because reasons. Adept was trying to, until Solomon pointed out a flaw in Adept’s power description: He adapts PHYSICAL defenses, not Other.
Adept screams and grabs his head as the psychic power overtakes him, Solomon describing the setup as ‘Gerry-rigging the power source into the city’s power-grid’, meaning the pain would only go up until the city ran out of power, and this is a metropolis size city we’re talking about here. Adept tells the DM he needs to adapt out of the psychic hold, and the DM asks him if he’s sure he want’s to adapt, and Adept says he’s absolutely sure. Because Adept can’t adapt an Other defense, and because his power is described as ‘nature making the straightest line between a problem and solution’, Adept automatically adapts the best trait for the current ‘psychic damage’ predicament: His body breaks down his brain and leaves him without any cerebral tissue more advanced than the functions needed to keep breathing. Since his ability to adapt and change MUST be a conscious choice to do so, he is stuck in his current adaptation with no method of revival. Solomon drags the drooling, brain-dead hero to the front of a hospital and leaves him in the care of the nurses who happen upon him in the morning.
By this point, Olympian was PISSED. The players for Adept and Protocol demanded that they get rescued/ revived, and that Olympian bring both Solomon and I to justice. Olympian sweeps the city and urges a marshal law into effect, turning the entire city into a nightmare. Police gun down Vigilantes left and right, superheroes save for Olympian have all but gone into hiding, and Solomon is still one stealthy bastard hiding amongst the dark alleys and secret tunnels, with no hop of rolling high enough to locate him by this point. Olympian flies through the streets at nearly subsonic speeds, and I narrowly avoid his rampage through my lab (After last time, I had learned that as long as my WUNDERFUL MIND survives, I’m okay, so I built a heli-bot into my suit that took my brain away faster than he could fly), and still no sign of the thug named Solomon.
And then he gets the call.
Olympian bursts through the roof of a hotel room filled with electronics and finds Solomon standing in front of him, not a glimmer of emotion on his face. The chat box is tense as the DM describes the room as dark and unremarkable save for the random webcameras strewn around the room. Olympian OOC tells the DM to shut up, and the chat goes silent for a moment.
Olympian launches into this description about how his fist is about to explode from anger and how he readies himself to kill Solomon with one punch.
And then Solomon turns the cameras on. All around the city, televisions turn on and stream the confrontation, Solomon revealing in his hand that he’s carrying a small button, a detonator. TO what? He explains, very calmly: “In my hand is a detonation tool. Somewhere, in this city, a random room with a citizen will explode. And then, 30 seconds later, another one will. And then another. And so on, until this city is reduced into the largest graveyard the world will ever see. That happens if I press this button.”
Olympian tries to move for it but Solomon continues: “If you so much as touch me on this pressure plate, the detonator activates anyways, and the scenario plays out, so you stand there and look pretty while I talk a bit more.”
Solomon doesn’t rant, he just calmly watches Olympian cross his arms, obviously annoyed at the standstill.
“To your left, there is a container full of toxin. You are going to drink that or else I won’t turn off the mechanism. Don’t drink it, and I press the button, mechanism activates. Stop me from pressing the button, the mechanism activates. You leave, I press the button, and the mechanism activates.”
“I’m not going to kill myself.”
“It’s for the city, hero.”
The DM informs the group that another server activates, and starts streaming the terrible cruelty that Olympian had done to every television and news outlet, revealing every gruesome detail, every racial slur, every death they blamed on ‘accidents’. Olympians super-hearing informs him that people are seeing him doing these terrible things, and now they’re starting to think he’s not so much a hero as he thought.
“You have one minute to choose. The City, or yourself.”
Olympian smashes the toxins, and punches Solomon, impaling him with his fist and gutting him. Solomon smiles as his organs spill, and Olympian listens for the first explosion.
But it never comes. There are no explosives.
Olympian picks up Solomon, who only has moments left to live, and demands to know what trickery this is. Solomon then tells him that he can’t kill Olympian, and he can’t drop enough weight to crush him, so he did the next best things.
“I killed the city’s faith in you. And now I’m dropping the world on you.” “You can’t kill heroes, you’re a villain.” “Then it’s a good thing you’re not a hero, you bastard.”
Solomon died, and the setting’s equivalent of the Justice League shows up to investigate what happened. Olympian tries to charm his way around them, saying he had no choice, and that he would have had to kill himself to save the city and that Solomon would have blown it up anyways, but the League, and the DM by extension, is done with his routine. The league points out that there were no explosives, and that killing a man like that on live television was barbaric. When he argues the toxins again, the leader of the League asks him if he was vulnerable to toxins in such a small dosage, if vulnerable at all. And then they realize that his hand he used to smash it is covered not in some scientific experimental super-toxin, but a simple mixture of lemonade. He didn’t try to roll perception on it.
Olympian then tries to argue that he has the right to protect people how he sees fit, but the League leader raises his hand to silence him, and then points to the screen behind him, showing him tossing the broken corpse of Doktor with a smile on his face.
The fight was brief, but in the end, no matter how powerful the Olympian is, he simply can’t fight an army of superheroes by himself. The player left the game and the DM informed us Olympian is serving his life-long sentence on a super-dense giant that renders him as weak as a toddler, watched over by machines with lasers trained on him at all times. He has no chance for parole.
Doktor recovered Solomon’s body, but he was already gone, and instead made him a memorial in his lair. The anti-vigilante force of police in the city continue their crusade to this day, and doctors try to find any way to prompt Adept back to normal from inside his padded cell (serving 40 to life for accessory, low security) and the town rips down the statue of Olympian that stood in the center of town after many agreed that he had risked the entire safety of the city for his own revenge.
When the game ended, Protocol was the only one who apologized for his behavior, Adept ignoring the chat and eventually leaving. When he asked Solomon why he didn’t kill Olympian, Solomon responded with a very calm, calculated response:
“When someone sees a Hero, they don’t care about the man. They care about the faith they have in him, his records. Killing Olympian still left him a hero. SO I did the next best. I killed the city’s faith in him. Maybe this time, they can have a real hero, and not some monster with the right look about him.”
And that’s how a single thug defeated a world’s Superman, Batman, Martian Manhunter. I refuse to be play against him in any form to this day.