March 2011 Archives

MEET THE BEETLES, Part II

We continue with our look at the Blue Beetle legacy with the write-up of...

Blue Beetle II                                            PL11

Abilities

Strength        3                  Fighting         8

Stamina          3                  Intellect       7

Agility            6                  Awareness    4

Dexterity       6                  Presence        2

Powers

BB Gun: Array (16 points), Easily Removable (-8 points)

        • Blinding Strobe: Cumulative Cone Area Affliction 8 (Resisted by Fortitude; Impaired Sight, Disabled Sight, Unaware), Limited--Visual Only 16 points

        • Air Burst: Cone Area Move Object 3, Diminished Range 3, Instant Duration, Limited Direction: Straight Away • 1 point

        • Air Hammer: Ranged Damage 8 1 point

Equipment

The Bug: Vehicle • 68 points

Huge; Str 8, Speed 8 (Flight), Def 8, Tou 9; Alarm 3 (DC 30), Navigation System, Remote Control; Swimming 6 (30 MPH); Immunity 10 (Life Support); Ranged Damage 10; Feature 1 (Skywire allows pilot to move between flying Bug and ground), Enhanced Skill 6 (Investigation +6, Ranged Combat: Heavy Weapons +6)

Other Equipment: Blue Beetle has 7 points to spend on other equipment.

Advantages

Agile Feint, Benefit 3 (Millionaire), Contacts, Defensive Roll 4, Equipment 15, Evasion, Improved Initiative, Instant Up, Inventor, Luck 3, Move-by Action, Power Attack, Redirect, Uncanny Dodge, Weapon Bind

Skills

Acrobatics 6 (+12), Athletics 6 (+9), Close Combat: Unarmed 4 (+12), Deception 5 (+7), Expertise: Science 6 (+13), Investigation 8 (+15/+21*), Perception 6 (+10), Persuasion 3 (+5), Ranged Combat: BB Gun 8 (+12), Ranged Combat: Heavy Weapons 6 (+12)*, Technology 10 (+17), Vehicles 6 (+12)

*While in the Bug.

Offense

Initiative +8

Unarmed +12                     Close, Damage 3

Blinding Strobe               Close, Cumulative Cone Area Affliction 8, Resisted by Fortitude

Air Hammer +14               Ranged, Damage 8

Defense

Dodge               14               Fortitude            7

Parry                 12               Toughness 7/3**

                                                Will                     8

**Without Defensive Roll.

Power Points

Abilities          78                Skills                34

Powers             10                Defenses        20

Advantages    36                Total           178

Complications

Blue and Gold: Blue Beetle is best friends with Booster Gold, and their shared misadventures and sense of humor is notorious.

Legacy: After he was injured saving Ted Kord's life, the dying wish of the first Blue Beetle was that Kord carry on and continue his battle against evil. Kord's adventuring as the Blue Beetle is a never-ending effort to live up to the name and wishes of his predecessor.

Real Name: Theodore "Ted" Kord

Occupation: Inventor and Entrepreneur

Base: Chicago, IL

Personality

The Blue Beetle fights crime with a grin on his face, trading quips with his friends as he trades blows with his foes. Yet beneath the humor he takes his crime-fighting seriously, always improving his equipment and studying new tactics.

Powers & Abilities

The Blue Beetle has no meta-human abilities, but combines his skills in acrobatics and hand-to-hand combat with his own genius inventions, including the non-lethal "BB-Gun" and the flying craft he calls the "Bug."

Allies

Blue Beetle's best friend is the time-travelling hero Booster Gold, a partnership that has led to as much trouble as success over the years. Together, they served as members of the Justice League, and later as part of the "Super Buddies." He has also been a technical advisor to Oracle and her Birds of Prey.

Enemies

Blue Beetle's own rogue's gallery includes the indestructible battlesuit Carapax, the motley mercenaries called the Madmen, and the living pharmacopeia Catalyst. Alongside the Justice League, he battled the robotic Manhunters, the forces of Darkseid, Master Disaster's Injustice League, the intergalactic conqueror Despero, and the interdimensional villans called the Extremists. Yet the villain who in the end defeated the Blue Beetle was someone he once called friend: the mind-controlling businessman Maxwell Lord.

History

The first Blue Beetle was mortally injured defeating a robot army built by the uncle of young genius Ted Kord, and charged Kord with carrying on the legacy and the battle of the Blue Beetle. Unfortunately, Kord was unable to use the scarab that gave the Beetle his powers, so instead constructed his own costume and equipment to become the new Blue Beetle.

For a time Blue Beetle fought crime in Chicago while running his research company Kord Omniversal, until he joined a new incarnation of the Justice League. There he met Booster Gold, and between titanic battles with villains like Despero and Starbreaker the duo found time for misadventures that included founding a Justice League-themed casino on the Pacific island of Kooeykooeykooey. But his time with the League also involved more serious challenges: for a time, Blue Beetle fell under the mental domination of the Queen Bee, and while trying to prevent Doomsday from reaching Metropolis, Blue Beetle was beaten so badly that he was in a coma for several months.

Yet the Blue Beetle stuck by the friends and teammates he made as part of the Justice League, even when businessman Maxwell Lord formed a new and somewhat low-rent team he called the "Super Buddies". He also helped other teams of heroes, such as the Birds of Prey, providing funding and financial assistance.

When money began disappearing from Kord Omniversal, Blue Beetle tracked an increasingly worrying series of clues to a castle in the Swiss Alps, where he discovered that the international espionage organization Checkmate had been taken over by Maxwell Lord, who planned to use Checkmate and his powers of mental domination in his bid for power. To keep his secret, Lord killed Kord.

Along with other heroes of the Blue Beetle legacy, Booster Gold travelled through time to save the life of Ted Kord. Though they were successful, saving the Blue Beetle created an apocalyptic alternate timeline. To save the world and restore history, Ted Kord returned to the time of his demise and accepted his fate.

Blue Beetle III                                          PL10

Abilities

Strength        6                  Fighting         4

Stamina          4                  Intellect       1

Agility            4                  Awareness    2

Dexterity       3                  Presence        2

Powers

Beetle Wings: Flight 5 (60 MPH) 10 points

Carapace: Protection 8 8 points

Reach Infiltrator: Array (16 points)

        • Khaji Da: Senses 8 (Analytical (Normal Hearing), Analytical (Normal Sight), Counters Illusion, Counters Concealment (Invisibility), Danger Sense, Darkvision, Radio, Radius (Normal Sight), Tracking), Enhanced Advantage: Assessment, Enhanced Skill 5 (Insight +5)16 points

        • Dimension Shift: Dimension Travel (Bleed) 1 point

        • Dimension Step: Concealment (total), Unreliable (may cause Blue Beetle to skip forward in time up to +8 ranks of time he intended to stay concealed) 1 point

        • Energy Pattern Disruption: Effect Nullify 10 (Energy Effects), Randomize1 point

        • Rocket Booster: Flight 5, Stacks with Beetle Wings (2,000 MPH)1 point

Reach Weaponry: Array (16 points)

        • Energy Cannon: Ranged Damage 8 16 points

        • Arm Blades: Strength-based Damage 3 1 point

        • Shield: Protection 4, Impervious Toughness 12, Distracting 1 point

Strength of the Scarab: Enhanced Strength 4; Enhanced Stamina 2; Enhanced Agility 2; Enhanced Dexterity 2; Enhanced Fighting 3 26 points

Subdermal Scarab: Feature 1 (Scarab AI and Database), Feature 1 (Quick Change to armor) 2 points

Advantages

Extraordinary Effort, Language (Spanish), Power Attack

Skills

Close Combat: Arm Blades 7 (+11), Close Combat: Unarmed 6 (+10), Expertise: Tactics 3 (+4), Perception 7 (+9), Ranged Combat: Energy Cannons 9 (+12)

Offense

Initiative +3

Energy Cannons +12                       Ranged, Damage 8

Arm Blades +11                                 Close, Damage 9

Defense

Dodge               8                  Fortitude          12

Parry                 8                  Toughness       12/16*

                                                Will                    7

*With Shield.

Power Points

Abilities          26                Skills                16

Powers             84                Defenses        21

Advantages      3                Total           150

Complications

Family and Friends: Jamie Reyes has shared the secret of his super hero career with not just his family, but also a circle of friends, all of whom help and support him in his adventures.

Hybrid Hero: The Blue Beetle was born when Jamie Reyes merged into a unique symbiotic relationship with the scarab named "Khaji Da." Together they are still figuring out the exact nature and extent of their abilities.

Identity: Blue Beetle isn't always super-powered, sometimes he's a normal teenager -- with an alien probe implanted in him. Regardless, when the scarab isn't active Jaime doesn't have any powers.

Lone Star: Blue Beetle is not only a new hero, he is a hero in a Texas city that has not previously had many super heroes.

Real Name: Jamie Reyes

Occupation: Student

Base: El Paso, Texas

Personality

The newest Blue Beetle is a young hero, and along with his youthful enthusiasm comes inexperience but he has also proven more than willing to seek out and accept help when needed.

Powers & Abilities

The scarab bonded to Jamie Reyes can surround him with a suit of shape-shifting armor that enhances his physical abilities, grants him protection, and allows him to fly. It can also manifest a variety of weapons from blades to energy cannons, provide him with a variety of enhanced senses, and allow him to slip into the transdimensional space known as the Bleed.

Allies

Jamie Reyes greatest ally is the scarab, which has named itself "Khaji Da." Jamie's family and friends also know of his adventures and help when they can. Jamie is a member of the Teen Titans and made a number of allies through the legacy of the Blue Beetle, including Danielle Garrett (the granddaughter of the first Beetle) and the second Blue Beetle's friends from the Justice League and the Birds of Prey.

Enemies

The alien Reach vow to destroy Blue Beetle, and he has already tangled with a wide number of Earth's villains, including the Parasite, the Ultra-Humanite, and Eclipso.

History

Jamie Reyes was walking home from school with friends when he discovered a strange scarab in a vacant lot and took it home. That night, the scarab bonded to Jaime while he was sleeping and the new Blue Beetle was born. After helping Batman defeat the orbiting Brother Eye satellite during the Infinite Crisis, Jaime returned home to El Paso and launched his heroic career with a lot of help from his family and friends.

Investigating the true nature of the scarab, Blue Beetle discovered it had been created by an alien race called the Reach, ancient enemies of the Guardians of the Universe who had designs on conquering Earth. With the help of the scarab and his many allies, Jamie defeated the Reach. He continues to defend El Paso and adventure alongside the Teen Titans and his many allies.

 

All characters, their distinctive likenesses, and related elements are trademarks of DC Comics © 2011. All rights reserved.

MEET THE BEETLES

My name is Seth Johnson, and I love the DC Universe. A lot.

If there's one thing I love about the DC Universe, it's Ambush Bug. But if there are two things I love about the DC Universe, it's Ambush Bug and the legacies. Ambush Bug should be self-explanatory, but let me talk about the legacies for a minute.

Growing up reading DC Comics, I think the first time I was ever really aware of a legacy was the early 1980s, when the name and costume of Robin passed from Dick Grayson to Jason Todd. Part of me remained a Dick Grayson fan and followed him on to his adventures as Nightwing in the Teen Titans, but another part was still a fan of Batman's sidekick and kept reading about Robin. Then we had to vote about whether to kill him or not, but we can talk about that childhood trauma another time.

In the mid-80s, I started noticing a new character popping up during the Crisis on Infinite Earths ― the Blue Beetle! Eagerly, I started reading the new Blue Beetle comic... and discovered that this was not the first Blue Beetle. The first Blue Beetle had been a two-fisted hero powered by a magic scarab, nothing like the gadgeteer acrobat I knew about. This wasn't just a costume being passed from one teenager to another ― this was a more interesting legacy, where a hero carried on the mission of the one who came before, but did it in his own way.

I'm legally barred from talking about the backroom deals and knife-fights among M&M writers about who got to write up Robin for DC Adventures, but I can tell you I was lucky enough to write up a few of my favorites ― including the Blue Beetles. It was a lot of fun to try and echo their very distinctive styles and powers in writing them up, while also being true to that very real feel of legacy.

Blue Beetle I is a PL12 character, drawing on the full power of the mystic scarab he discovered buried beneath the African desert. Yet his power set is reasonably straightforward:

                Chainmail: Protection 4 4 points

                Kaji Dha!: Feature 1 (Change into costume as a free action)• 1 point

                Lightning Blast: Ranged Damage 1020 points

                Soar Like a Beetle: Flight 6 (120 MPH) 12 points

                Strength of the Scarab: Enhanced Strength 7; Enhanced Stamina 6; Enhanced Agility 3; Enhanced Dexterity 4; Enhanced Fighting 8 56 points

Only one of his powers has more than one effect, as the scarab charges up mild-mannered archaeologist Dan Garrett into the azure avenger of Hub City.

Compare those powers to those of Blue Beetle II. Ted Kord is a PL 11 character, a power level that represents his experience but also his lack of the mystic power that belonged to his predecessor. Dan Garrett gave Kord the scarab and passed on his mission with his dying breath ― but didn't pass on the magic words Kaji Dha! that would activate its powers. So in becoming Blue Beetle II, Kord was forced to rely on his own natural athletic abilities and gadgeteering genius to create the weapons he needed for his war on crime. His main weapon, the BB Gun, is represented as a power array that gives him a variety of handy effects:

                BB Gun: Array (16 points), Easily Removable (-8 points)

                        • Blinding Strobe: Cumulative Cone Area Affliction 8 (Resisted by Fortitude; Impaired Sight, Disabled Sight, Unaware), Limited--Visual Only 16 points

                        • Air Burst: Cone Area Move Object 3, Diminished Range 3, Instant Duration, Limited Direction: Straight Away • 1 point

                        • Air Hammer: Ranged Damage 8 1 point

But Kord packed even more features into his flying fortress, the Bug:

                The Bug: Vehicle • 68 points

                        Huge; Str 8, Speed 8 (Flight), Def 8, Tou 9; Alarm 3 (DC 30), Navigation System, Remote Control; Swimming 6 (30 MPH); Immunity 10 (Life Support); Ranged Damage 10; Feature 1 (Skywire allows pilot to move between flying Bug and ground), Enhanced Skill 12 (Investigation +6, Ranged Combat: Heavy Weapons +6)

Two characters that couldn't be more different, right? That's why it's particularly cool that during the Final Crisis, in the tragic aftermath of Ted Kord's murder, young Jamie Reyes found Dan Garrett's scarab (or was it that the scarab found him?) and was thrust headlong into a new heroic career as Blue Beetle III.

Still young and inexperienced, Blue Beetle III is a PL10 character. But he's a PL10 character packed with the potential of the Beetles who came before him ― reflected first and foremost in how he possesses some powers very similar to Blue Beetle I:

                Strength of the Scarab: Enhanced Strength 4; Enhanced Stamina 2; Enhanced Agility 2; Enhanced Dexterity 2; Enhanced Fighting 3 26 points

                Beetle Wings: Flight 5 (60 MPH) 10 points

                Carapace: Protection 8 8 points

                Subdermal Scarab: Feature 1 (Quick Change to armor) 1 point

Yet Jamie Reyes has discovered the truth of the scarab ― that it is, in fact, not a mystic artifact, but actually a creation of the alien race known as the Reach, symbiotically bonded to the young human. In that discovery, Blue Beetle III has a power array that has a name familiar from Blue Beetle IKhaji Dha, not magic words but the name of the scarab ― and in calling upon it he has a whole new range of effects:

                Reach Infiltrator: Array (16 points)

                        • Khaji Da: Senses 8 (Analytical (Normal Hearing), Analytical (Normal Sight), Counters Illusion, Counters Concealment (Invisibility), Danger Sense, Darkvision, Radio, Radius (Normal Sight), Tracking), Enhanced Advantage: Assessment, Enhanced Skill 5 (Insight +5) 16 points

                        • Dimension Shift: Dimension Travel (Bleed) 1 point

                        • Dimension Step: Concealment (total), Unreliable (may cause Blue Beetle to skip forward in time up to +8 ranks of time he intended to stay concealed) 1 point

                        • Energy Pattern Disruption: Effect Nullify 10 (Energy Effects), Randomize1 point

                        • Rocket Booster: Flight 5, Stacks with Beetle Wings (2,000 MPH)1 point

But in my mind, Blue Beetle III's connections to the past aren't only to Dan Garrett. On his character sheet, Jamie Reyes has one last power array that to me echoes the days of Ted Kord charging into battle with courage and his 16-point weapons array:

                Reach Weaponry: Array (16 points)

                        • Energy Cannon: Ranged Damage 8 16 points

                        • Arm Blades: Strength-Based Damage 3 1 point

                        • Shield: Protection 4, Impervious Toughness 12, Distracting 1 point

As a game designer, it's fun to try and play out the truths of a character in their game stats, to try and capture the essence of a hero in powers and stats. But the real truth comes when they make their appearance in your campaign and we see if they live up to their heroic legacy. I hope you include one of the Blue Beetles in your game, so we can see where the legacy goes in your series. They're some of my favorite DC heroes.

Along with Ambush Bug. Whom I also got to write up, thanks to winning a three-way sudden death overtime chessboxing match against Kenson and McGlothlin. But that's another story...

 

Blue Beetle I                                              PL12

Abilities

Strength        9                  Fighting         10

Stamina          9                  Intellect       4

Agility            5                  Awareness    2

Dexterity       5                  Presence        3

Powers

Chainmail: Protection 4 4 points

Kaji Dha!: Feature 1 (Change into costume as a free action)• 1 point

Lightning Blast: Ranged Damage 1020 points

Soar Like a Beetle: Flight 6 (120 MPH) 12 points

Strength of the Scarab: Enhanced Strength 7; Enhanced Stamina 6; Enhanced Agility 3; Enhanced Dexterity 4; Enhanced Fighting 8 56 points

Advantages

Fast Grab, Interpose, Languages 2, Power Attack, Takedown, Ultimate Effort (Athletics)

Skills

Athletics 3 (+12), Close Combat: Unarmed 5 (+15), Expertise: Archaeology 4 (+8), Perception 6 (+8), Ranged Combat: Lightning Blast 7 (+12), Vehicles 3 (+8)

Offense

Initiative +5

Unarmed +15                     Close, Damage 9

Lightning Blast +12          Ranged, Damage 10

Defense

Dodge               10               Fortitude          12

Parry                 11               Toughness      13

                                                Will                     7

Power Points

Abilities          38                Skills                14

Powers             93                Defenses        14

Advantages      7                Total           166

Complications

Sacred Charge: Dan Garrett is charged by an ancient power with eradicating evil from the Earth as Blue Beetle.

Seclusion: Garrett takes his mission as the Blue Beetle so seriously that he has virtually abandoned his former life.

Real Name: Dan Garrett

Occupation: Archaeologist, adventurer

Base: Hub City, IL

Personality

Dan Garrett is supremely focused on his mission to battle evil, with room for little else in his life. Yet he maintains a passion for archaeology, and is often drawn to museums and archaeological digs.

Powers & Abilities

From the scarab that gives him his name, the Blue Beetle gains superhuman strength, the ability to fly, and the power to shoot bolts of a lightning-like energy. When he says the magic words "Kaji Dha", Daniel Garrett is transformed into his costume, made of a chain-mail material the protects him from harm.

Allies

Though he has few regular allies in his war against evil, in his civilian identity Dan Garrett he is a mentor to Ted Kord, who would carry on his legacy as the second Blue Beetle. However, years earlier, when the alien Apellaxians nearly conquered the planet, the Blue Beetle fought alongside the Freedom Fighters and the newly-formed Justice League to defeat the invasion.

Enemies

The Blue Beetle's enemies are many and bizarre, from the insane ecologist known as the Praying Mantisman and the rampaging Red Knight to the lightning-powered Mr. Thunderbolt and the robotic Mentor the Magnificent.

History

Archaeologist Dan Garrett was on a dig in north Africa when he discovered the tomb of the Pharoah Kha-ef-re, and with it a blue scarab lying atop the pharoah's tomb. Picking up the scarab, spirits taught Garrett the magic words that would unlock the power of the scarab and charged him to battle a never-ending war on evil beginning with the mummy of Kha-ef-re!

After defeating the mummy, the Blue Beetle returned to Hub City and carried out the spirits' mission, with only occasional breaks to return to archaeology as a visiting professor. While teaching at Midwestern University he met student Ted Kord and travelled with him to Pago Island in the south Atlantic where the Blue Beetle fell in battle, but passed his mission to fight evil on to Kord, who would battle on in his name.

Continued in the next post!


All characters, their distinctive likenesses, and related elements are trademarks of DC Comics © 2011. All rights reserved.

Vigilance Press Podcast: DC Adventures Actual Play

The Vigilance Press Podcast guys asked to use some of DC characters for their latest "actual play" podcast. They wanted to use the Teen Titans and chose Cyborg, Blue Beetle, and Red Devil and you can hear how the 2-hour game went here!

They do an excellent job of explaining rules as they come up and even give a peek into how the characters are written up. 


Be on the lookout for more previews and information about DC Adventures: Heroes & Villains, Volume I in the upcoming weeks! Layout of the book is going well and looking great! 

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