Monday, January 3, 2022

31 Days / 31 Characters - BLACK ADDER

After 45 years of RPG and Comic Book Fandom, I've seen a lot of Superheroes.

Keep in mind that following Space Adventure Science Fiction, Supers is the genre I've run and placed the most. This makes it especially exciting for me when I feel the desire to post a Superhero character to this challenge. It says to me, 'Of the [possibly] hundreds of costumed crimefighters I've seen, people should know about this one"!

Character: Black Adder 

AKA: Real Name Unknown.

Player: Conrad Cleophat

System: Mutants & Masterminds, 2st Edition. 
 Dynamos Unlimited

Gamemaster (s): Adam Dickstein

Circa: 2003-2004

Origins: I am not sure what Conrad was thinking when he created Black Adder, except to say that he fully embraced the campaign's premise (See Overview) and paid homage to a very particular era of comics. 

Backstory: Black Adder was one of the first (if not the first) known Black Superheroes to appear in the Dynamos Universe (my original setting for the Dynamos Unlimited campaign). He was a very young man when he came on the scene in 1966 (the same year that Black Panther became the first Black Superhero in comics in the real world). 

He had an active career fighting bigotry, inner-city violence and drug abuse, gangsters, and the occasional Supervillain until sometime around 1977. It was then that he met, fell in love with, and eventually married his sweetheart, eventually having a child together. Unfortunately, the couple fell on rough times and were divorced by the late 80s. Black Adder attempted a brief comeback around this time but things just weren't the same and he eventually adapted to civilian life. 

When the call went out for heroes following the OMEGA-ALPHA Event, Black Adder (now in his early 60s) came out of retirement to fight the good fight once again. It became apparent pretty quickly that he was out of practice, showing his age, and didn't always see eye to eye with the younger Supers. At the same time, his heart and determination eventually won the respect of his new team. 

Overview: Following the defeat of an extra-dimensional menace known as Cataclysm, the world's greatest superhero team, The Dynamos, are largely decimated. This incident became known as the OMEGA-ALPHA Event. Only a few members of the team remained and many were in no shape to continue the fight against evil. 

With the need for heroes ever present, the International Suprahuman Intelligence Group Highly Trained (or I.N.S.I.G.H.T.) immediately went to work assembling a new team. The only remaining Supers were the old, the new, the hidden, and the forgotten. 

Basically, imagine if Marvel lost the Avengers or DC lost the Justice League and all that was left to replace them were 'B' and 'C' tier characters or older Superhero who might have been popular once but hadn't been seen in a long time. 

Conrad played Black Adder as a man a little out of touch but still bearing the swagger of Shaft. We always went in smooth and solid as a rock until is was clear he was in over his head. His cooler-than-ice facade would waver in the face of the more bizarre aspects of the modern Superhuman world or when his classic moves don't land the way he expected. What made him awesome was the dichotomy between the two aspects of the character; the famous in his day, badass Superhero and the blue-collar, regular joe trying to relive his glory days. 

The Highlights:

The late David Cotton had a character in the campaign called Impact; a 12 year old boy who's magical belt transformed him into an adult, superpowered wrestler. His mind was still the kid's. Whenever Black Adder would make a crazy suggestion or when he'd mess up, Dave would have Impact say (in a little kid voice), "What do we bring this guy?!" It became a running gag that Conrad fully embraced.

At one point Black Adder runs into an old arch-enemy, Jim Crow. The villain appears to be a scarecrow dressed in a Civil War era Confederate uniform and on fire. In addition, his face looks very Human. It is never made clear but he may be a supernatural entity of some kind. Jim Crow attacked Black Adder, the former not having a day and Conrad wisely used the local environment I described to jump into a fountain, protecting himself from his enemy's flames. With teamwork on the part of Black Adder and two other heroes, Adder managed to knock Crow into the fountain causing the entity to dissipate and vanish. 

Later in the campaign the heroes are on a scavenger hunt, racing against time and enemy forces to find a set of magical artifacts. I.N.S.I.G.H.T. gives them a list of potential opponents they might encounter and while reading it Black Adder has this exchange...

Black Adder: "The Hiroshima Shadow? That's a villain? Who's The Hiroshima Shadow?"

I.N.S.I.G.H.T. Agent: "They say he's the ghost of an atomic bomb explosion."

Black Adder: (Stares at GM/Agent for several seconds) "What the hell does that even mean?!"

Lastly, Black Adder would sometimes talk about his daughter, apparently a Superheroine herself named 'Baby Boom', who could charge things with Bio-Electric Energy and cause them to explode. He loved her but they had an estranged relationship. He thought about calling her to help the team a few times but didn't trust some of his team members around his little girl (who was in her late twenties). 

Game Info:

I can not find the character sheet for Black Adder, which sucks. He was built in Mutants and Masterminds 2nd Edition at 10th Level with around 150 points. 

He was slightly stronger than a normal person, considerably more agile, and a fairly skilled Martial Artist. His main power was delivering a Bio-Electric Attack by touch - The Adder Bite - that could either paralyze a person or knock them unconscious. It is very similar to the power that Marvel's Miles Morales/Spiderman has, though pre-dating him by 7 years.

Next up...

Dogs. They're Man's best friend but how are they with Rabbits? Find out as we meet BO - a Good Boy. A Very Good Boy.

Barking Alien


  1. As a Brit, it's hard to have a character called Black Adder and not think of Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson. Does this Black Adder ever have really cunning plans?