CoH: The Stories

So here’s the thing:
Every week, I post up the summary of stuff that happened with my gaming. There’s a problem with that at this point:
My roleplay gaming is all CoH right now — lots of reasons for this, most of them starting with “baby”, but that’s how it works.
And mostly, what I post up is who hit what level or who got what power… which is alot like posting up a Actual Play from one of my face to face games and just telling who rolled what numbers on the dice.
Boring. Interesting to ME, because I want a record of all that stuff, but empty if you don’t know the game.
And I noticed: these days, when I actually TALK about the game, I talk about what is going on with the character’s STORIES, not the LEVELS. That kind of thing is, in my opinion, of interest to anyone reading, if they’re gamers or just into a good story, so that’s what I’m going to try to remember to do here.
But I can’t start in the middle, so here’s a massive summary of all the story stuff I’ve got going on with…
everyone.
Frankly, the best stories and roleplay I’ve ever been involved with, period.
Brace yourself, Bridgett. Here it is.


Hang Time

Jason Marks was a normal guy until the day he made a pizza delivery to the Orion Labs research facility in Steel Canyon. Put simply, he was left waiting on the guy who’d ordered the anchovies and jalapenos for too long and started poke at things in the room.
Things that one ought not poke at.
There was a flash, an explosion, and something later referred to as a ‘containment breach’. After the smoke cleared, Orion agreed not to sue Jason… if Jason returned the favor. He didn’t tell them about the tingling in his fingers.
He still hasn’t, or about how he spends his days since quiting Paragon Pizza Pie, but he’s starting to think they already know.

That’s how it all started, almost a year ago. Since then, Jason’s powers got a little out of whack: they (the nanites in his body) have always reacted primarily to his conscious and subconscious will, so back in late March, when he started to feel invisible…
… well, you get the picture. It was while he was dealing with that problem (the fact that he was slowly fading from view) that he met Sabrina. (April Fools Day, actually) She helped him, he helped her, they found each other in a destined kind of way, and the rest is history. In the intervening time, Jason was ‘reclaimed’ by Crey Corporation and forced into their “powered personality” program for awhile before he used his inside access to crash their operations in another dimension and arrest the head of the company. Not too long after that, Sabrina went missing and Jason lost his memory (a magical attack) and it took almost a month to get those crazy kids back together. Once they finally did reunite, their were wedding bells. They both really good in white.
Plot-wise, not a lot goes on with Hang Time anymore (Sabrina still has some stuff going on), and in general I don’t really pull him out to do stuff very often, because (a) that would mean a high level mission that (b) Hyperthermian can also do, which is who I’d probably bring because (c) I don’t trust anyone else to tank, usually, unless War Bones is on. Most of the time, if you see him, he’ll be wearing an old t-shirt, a pair of sweatpants, a smile, and no shoes.
The man flies, and he’s semi-retired; what the hell does he need shoes for?
Play-wise, Hang Time is fun for those times when you’d got a meatshield to hide behind and want to dish out obscene amounts of damage. His invis powers offered a few fun tactical options in the later part of the game, as did the Epic Power Mastery he picked up later, with force fields and stuff like that.
Thing is… I always played him like a tank… never realized that’s what I really preferred playing until I made up…


Hyperthermian
Ashe got lucky: that’s really all there it to it. Born into near poverty in the inner city, surrounded by violence, crime, fear, and neglect, it almost seemed a foregone conclusion that he would end up a sad product of his environment — either a victim or one of the petty predators who hunted the sad streets of his youth — that he lost both his parents before he was three and manifested dangerous mutant abilities during his adolescence made the odds seem even more stacked against him.
And but for the grace and unrelenting care of his Zedeh (“zadie”: grandfather), that is exactly what would have happened.
Instead, Ashe thrived. Inspired by a man who had learned to read in a German concentration camp, Ashe achieved scholastic excellence. Raised by a man who had faced the worst in life and maintained a clear-eyed view full of humor and wit, Ashe faced his own challenges with a smile, even a grin.
He graduated at the top of the class in his underfunded inner city high school, went to college on the G.I. Bill, got his Bachelor’s degree, and served his country as a Specially-Equipped Soldier, and has since volunteered for service in the battle torn trenches of Paragon City.
If you asked him, he would say he’s had a good life so far.
Powers: As Hyperthermian, Ashe engages the enemy in hand to hand combat. He’s not exceptionally strong or large for a front line fighter, but his ability to massively shift the temperature in his immediate vicinity makes him a formidable opponent.
He’s also very selectively telepathic.
What’s that again?
Early in his career in Paragon, Hype found out about a planned theft of a magical artifact and took steps to prevent it. During the robbery, the thief (who was holding the artifact in question) tried to attack him. The artifact’s proximity affected the attack, and both Ashe and theif were nearly killed by the augmented psychic backlash that resulted, leaving them in a mystical coma and linking their minds together.
Hyperthermian’s influence on the thief since then has been a postive one (he hopes), and he now acts as her guardian, trying to provide Synoptic the guidance and focus she needs (relying more on his upbringing with his grandfather than he’s even aware of) to turn her life around as a registered crime-fighter for Paragon City.
Until recently, Hyperthermian was part of the Liberty Force, but personal (and unrevealed) issues with several members of that group led him to tender his resignation only two days after Synoptic celebrated her 18th birthday and became his partner instead of his ward.

Most of Hype and Syn’s story has revolved around their telepathic link and the kind of instant, open, unedited communication that comes from that. The other big part of it is the romance and the holding-off-on sex — Hype’s saving himself for marriage, and at this point both of them think the day really can’t get here fast enough… but they are holding on… barely.
Not too long ago, the two lost ALL ability to filter the thoughts going through their telepathic link, and they’ve been struggling with that a lot… there’s a few more big things to come with both their lives and that part of the plot before it all resolves.
Play-wise, these two are Invicible (literally: that’s what they’ve had the difficulty slider set to since level 12) — the combination of the two character’s powers means that the two of them can take on ALMOST anything in the game.


“The Strategist”
SUMMARY
One of the premiere tacticians and criminal profilers currently serving the international community, the Strategist has been a consultant for M.A.G.E., SERAPH, and one of leading officers responsible for moving the Enhanced Logistics for Insight and Tactical Excellence Section into its current role as one the premiere meta-support organizations in the world.
EDUCATION
Although his identity and education are unknown, Strategist demonstrates a thorough knowledge of Logistics, Small Unit Tactics, Anatomy, Forensic Biology, Ballistics, Small Group Dynamics, Psychology, Psychiatry, Chemistry, Psychics, and a number of schools of hand to hand combat.
WORK HISTORY
Covert Ops Coordinator, Freedom Phalanx EU :: 02/2003 – Current
Global Training and Research Specialist, ELITE :: 09/1989 – 01/2003
Consultant, SERAPH, Bangkok :: 12/1987- 01/1990
Minder Ops Coordinator; MAGE, Hong Kong :: 09/1987- 09/1989
Field Operative, Hero Corps :: 04/1987 – 09/1987
Agent, MI-7, London Office :: 07/1979 – 06/1986
Agent, Might for Right Program, CIA :: 10/1965 – 04/1977

Until I made up Epitaph and started writing stuff for him, I’d say that the background fiction I did for Strategist was the best stuff I’d written for a CoH character. Most of that stuff is here — the 13 or so posts from March 4 to March 7. Really happy with those.
Strat’s basically a combination of Batman and Jack Bristow, with a little backstory from MI-5 tossed in. I created him at the request of the Freedom Phalanx leadership, to put him into the role of a Tribunal in the group — a boss guy with a secret past and secret files on EVERYONE. He lost his family about twenty years ago in a bombing, and is just now daring to dip his toe back into the realm of romance. (Or something like romance — Strat has a REALLY complicated personal life.)
Playwise? Frustrating as hell from level 1 on up. Endurance problems… too squishy… just… ugh. If I didn’t have a really good IC reason for all that stuff (he’s in his early 50’s and has no “powers” at ALL), it would drive me batty. Issue Five and Six actually made him WAY more fun to play, since (a) he does more damage and (b) he can slot all his stuff with endurance cost reduction stuff.
In the last couple months, he’s worked alot with Savannah Star, who’s an energy blaster like HT. With the changes to Scrappers in the last couple issues, combined with the way Blasters have always worked, that means that these two TEAR through missions with amazing speed… and when things go bad, they faceplant FAST.
He’s fun to play, but he doesn’t get used very often because, in the grand scheme of things, I’m rarely in the mood to play him as much as I’d rather play someone else. In all fairness, with all my characters, the competition is steep.


The Epitaph
Real Name: Unknown. (Registered as John Doe Jones with Freedom Corp)
The hero registered with Freedom Corps as “Epitaph” came into being during the the Rikti War, when a kheldian energy-being discovered a human soldier dying from terrible wounds on the battlefield once known as Baumton. Moved beyond its own reluctance to merge with a human host, the Kheldian merged with the human whose will to live was so terribly palpable and strong. The merge was successful, although the human’s body took a great deal of time to successfully recover from its wounds even with the alien’s help, and still suffers from severe amnesia to this day.

Yeah… that’s the start. John is… GOD what a complicated character.
Here’s the guy’s diary:
here.
I started him out with just that basic idea, then I read the background for another player’s character called Pearl Thunder: here
Beth Wilson enlisted with the U.S. Navy fresh from high school. She met Tanner McClain, a Navy Seal, a year later, during a cross-training that eventually got her stationed to the same unit as a sniper. They married a year later. This in turn necessitated one of them leaving the unit — Beth relocated to work as a ‘solo’ sniper, sometimes assigned alongside John’s unit, but just as often loaned out to the CIA for months at a time — not ideal for a marriage, but they managed well enough; the arguments they had could always be traced back to “I miss you, I wish you were here,” though that sometimes isn’t obvious.
During the Rikti War (by this point in time both he was commanding a special ops unit, and she was being loaned out to the CIA regularly), Tanner was among the combined military forces already in Paragon for other reasons (dealing with smaller Fifth-Column bases, Sky Raiders, etc.) and dispatched to combat the invasion, leading a special ops unit that was wiped out during a Rikti ambush in Baumton. His remains were never found, but he was declared killed in action. Beth continued in the service for two more years, ostensibly clinging to the familiarity of the military while she buried her grief. She eventually, however, received a medical discharge for stress-related anxiety.
In the the past year, she has relocated to Paragon and enlisted with the Freedom Phalanx to continue to search for her husband.

So I said… “wow… it would be cool if Epitaph was really Pearl’s husband, but doesn’t remember.” In fact, I said that to Pearl’s player, and she agreed. Right. Tanner McClain is now “John”.
Okay, so… we’ve got some background… also, a character I needed to avoid until it was a good time for those two to find each other again.
Problem. John has amnesia. John met and started working with Midnite Tempest. Raene. She’s over here.
They hit it off, they start dating, et cetera. It’s looking more and more complicated for when Pearl and John finally meet up again.
Heh. Riiiiight.
Somewhere in here, John hooks up with War Bones for task force, and Bones brings along a friend of his called Hekuba — her real name is Ren. The odd thing here is that Hek and John are actually in the same super group, but they’ve never really worked together, so after the task force (which goes really well), they start chatting on the comms more. There’s a sense of familiarity there, a sense of understanding, because Ren is ALSO suffering from some pretty nasty amnesia for an entirely different reason. Check her stuff out over here and over here (which also has some stuff I’ve written in it).
The short version is that Ren used to be a homeless kid that the Fifth Column cum Council kidnapped and was experimenting on. John’s (Tanner’s) unit cleared the base and rescued her (this was about three years back or a bit more), and Tanner (She calls him “Mac”) took her under his wing and tried to help her get her life together.
That was working… when one day he just up and vanished (Remember the whole ‘almost dead and now has amnesia thing? yeah. that), and Ren’s life came toppling down… she’s just not started getting HERSELF together.
And John and Ren both kind of remember … something. They know … that they used to … something. Lots of strong emotions there, and not a lot of detail: that’s what they know.
So.
Tanner. John. Mac.
Pearl. Midnite. Ren
Big. Frelling. Mess.
I love it. It’s a car wreck that I can’t look away from and I Can’t. Stop. Grinning.
Playwise, I enjoy the hell out of Epitaph — he’s the ultimate mix of scrapper and blaster, with a great selection of different kinds of powers and abilities… a little of this, a little of that. Kheldians (which is a special Archetype you unlock once one of your guys hits level 50) have the ability to be just about anything you want, but unless you focus, they’re sort of jack-of-all-trades… more like suck-of-all-trades, so some focus is really required. John’s basically a human-form-only, Blaster/Scrapper, with heavy emphasis on his melee-range attacks and his defensive powers.


Gilly
Hmm. Short version, cuz I don’t have Gilly’s background down anywhere.
Gilly is a genius ten-year-old who’s daddy — one of the world’s great warrior-mages, was on the Omega Squad sent to the Rikti homeworld…
Yeah, the squad that DIDN’T come back. Gilly has taken daddy’s Gloves of Manos and is working as a hero (in between classes in magical theory and fluid dynamics) to try to figure out how to get him back home.
Cuz he’s not dead. No way.

Gilly’s one of the oldest characters I have — a riff off Gully from Battlechasers — also, one of the more ignored.
Playwise, Gilly is useless without a team and really won’t come into her own until she get’s better enhancements, but playing a tiny little hyper-active ten-year old who’s designated role is to TANK… that’s fun.
That said, I almost never play her, since I only roll her out when folks in her level range need someone to help them clear a mission or two. She’s languishing at something like level… 19? Maybe? Level 20 would be HUGE for her, since it means getting Stamina and more longevity in a fight… but I just can’t ever find time to play her.


Kethos
Mmm… my first bad guy for City of Villains (and first guy NOT on Champion Server — he’s on Virtue), Kethos is an old favorite of mine, revamped for the CoH setting. Born in Alabama, Daddy was some super villain or super hero with fire powers. Keth worked as a small-time ‘powered’ crook doing Tarrantino-esque one-off jobs — living alone until his half-sister (only about, what? fifteen years old?) was brought in by a state worker and remanded to his care.
The two became intimate about a year or so later, and things went on well enough, with Keth making more than enough for them to live comfortably while Myca went to school.
But Keth made enemies — guy like him, it’s hard not too — they double-crossed him and set him up for a job that would send him to prison.
Sound bad? Nah, that’s just the beginning. They went to his house, they got Myca, they gave her to a torture specialist called The Composer, and had him go to work on her.
Then they taped it, and sent the tapes to the prison.
Yeah, Keth pissed em off bad.
Some of that is recorded here but it’s not quite done yet.
Long story short, the two are in the Rogue Isles now, working as a team (Myca’s incarceration and the fallout from that helped her tap into her fire and sonic powers). Keth’s goal is to burn down the Arachnos Towers and dance a little jig on the ashes… he even started up an organization of like-minded individuals called Devil’s Night to move things along.
Love this character.
Playwise, Keth and Myca work really well together. “Dad’s” fire powers compliment each other really well, and they’re already set to “Vicious” on the dial and taking on +2 and +3 bad guys. Things get a little rough with really big groups, because the Villains are much better at dishing out the damage than soaking it up, and Keth has some endurance problems that SHOULD start to go away very very soon now.
And he needs Acrobatics.
But other than that… they really, really, REALLY kick ass, due to a number of synergies in play that are too numerous to list here.


Pummelcite
Lukacs Tolbathy, bastard child of a conniving war-witch and one of the Earth Princes of Utumno.
One of.
His mother might know exactly which one, but she’s not saying, and rumors of her misspent youth indicate no less than fifteen likely candidates and twice the number “possibles”.
The Elemental Courts may boast many Princes, but so did Meera Tolbathy.
With nothing in common with his mother and no connection to Utumno, Lukacs set out into the world of the mundane to find a life of his own. The Rikti Invasion in Paragon City provides him both a place where his native abilities are of use (in the role of a ‘superhero’), and where he stands some small chance of finding…
What?
It’s possible Lukacs himself doesn’t know.

Lukacs is basically a guy I did
(a) to use “Pummelcite” for a hero name, cuz it’s fun
(b) to mess around with the “Stone” tank sets.
(c) to provide a designated “Tank” to the Storm Knights — cuz they don’t have one.
Background-wise, I’m using a sort of amalgam of the Keep of the Four Worlds, from Amber, mixed in with a lot of Elemental magic and Court intrigue. It’s fun.
Playwise, he still feels really squishie to me, for a tank, but I hope that will start to go away as he gets better enhancements.


Shade Dancer
Name: Shade Dancer, a.k.a.: Fattana San
Background: here.
A young, attractive middle-eastern woman with bright blue eyes. Fattana San was merely a demure member of the minor Kurdish “Yazidi” religious sect when she was visited by the Malak Ta’us, the Peacock Angel — demiurge of her people — and asked to act on its behalf in the war for the souls of mankind. She comes to Paragon as an avatar of Malak Ta’us, bringing his dark epiphany to the eyes of unbelievers.
In reality, Fattana is a highly delusional member of a minor splinter cult to transformed a kheldian’s offer of a merging into a transcendant religious experience. Her pragmatic nictus symbiote is, frankly, willing to make use of Fattana’s willing self-delusion for as long as it is useful to do so.

Shade Dancer is a ton of fun to play, but Warshades tend to frustrate the hell out of me in gameplay, so she/he langquishes.


Barret
Short version: Barret’s a sexual sadist who was caught by an elder vampire who tore his tongue out before she turned him. Thus, he’s mute for the rest of his existence (which is a challenge to play online, lemme tell yah.) He’s a Dark/Dark Brute on Champion, and quite a lot of fun to both Roleplay and Gameplay.



Markov Chain
((Still not happy with his face. Needs work.))
Mark’s family and most of his friends were killed in the Hollowing — he went mercenary assassin, getting paid to do the stuff he used to do for his country.
Mark’s got that kinda Martin Blank from Grosse Pointe Blank thing going on — he’s really good at what he does, and he’s actually really got a taste for it…
“I’m not a psychopath; psychopaths kill for no reason… I kill for money.”
…but he does have doubts… about himself, about the choices that he’s made… that crop up when he’s not looking.
Anyway, there’s another character on the HERO side of things who was like Mark’s best friend’s younger sister who has, since the Hollowing, went the OTHER way with her life and become a Hero — she’s joining the Liberty Force, greets people with “Hiya, Heroes!” — the whole nine yards. She used to idolize Mark and her older brother (Mark’s best friend). We’re doing this as a study of how one event — the same event — can hit two people and how those two people will react and deal in dramatically different ways.
Anyway, eventually, once they’re high enough level to ICly interact and encounter one another (in Bloody Bay or whatever), they will do so, (they have a sort of story to tell, there, but obviously, by the very nature of the game, they aren’t going to be doing much together, in game) with her trying to reform him and him trying to convince her she’s being a tool.
She’ll become sort of the angel on his right shoulder. He’s also (I hope) going to have a devil on his left shoulder in the form of another assassin that he works with/is involved with over in the Rogue Isles, but still working out the particulars on this.
Play-wise: I haven’t played him a lot, but I like how stalkers play — in some ways, it’s really what Strategist SHOULD have been, and how I play him, but without the really helpful Stalker abilities that make it work… so I know I can enjoy this kind of character — great for teaming or soloing… I don’t even care.
And I’m really looking forward to the chance to roleplay him with the folks he’s going to be involved with.


And that’s it.


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