Monday, July 31, 2023

RPGaDay 2023 - Content Anniversary

It's time for the RPGaDay Challenge for 2023 and it's the 10th Anniversary of the event! Happy Anniversary!!!

OK, hmmm...Happy may be a bit much. Cheerful? Glad? Content? Content Anniversary seems more appropriate.

For the big 10th Anniversary we get...the same kind of prompts we've seen the last few years. I mean, they're not terrible but they don't seem particularly gripping. Many of them seem like questions that have come up on dozens of times before, even from this particular event. I may answer some of them together in a single post as they basically ask variations of the same question.

I think some of these can be fun but I am a tad disappointed it isn't something even more special. I do see a few interesting ones, mostly later on down the line.

OK, let's give this the benefit of the doubt and see what comes of it. 

Stay tuned,

Barking Alien

Sunday, July 30, 2023

A Really Good Bad Guy - Kineto

By the end of the 1970s, the threat of general supervillain crime and violence was secondary to the danger of two supervillains fighting each other. The major metahuman villains had gone to war and Human society was caught in the crossfire. The Champions and other heroes made the decision to go on the offensive to remedy this situation, tracking down and defeating the big players before they could cause more harm. Sadly, Kineto and Sundown remained at large. 

These two men truly hated each other. Kineto viewed Sundown as a megalomaniac, a would-be world conqueror completely wasting his intellect on a meaningless quest for personal power. He could be benefiting Humanity with his knowledge and intelligence. To Sundown, Kineto was the world's biggest hypocrite. Kineto's high and mighty attitude and moral code hid his desire to control the planet and its people the way he controlled kinetic energy and inertia. 

In 1982, Sundown and Kineto decided to end their feud with a showdown. The Champions found out about the duel and planned to intercept and prevent it., as well as apprehend the two villains. Unfortunately, an argument broke out among the members of the team on how to proceed. Garrison quits the team. The rest of the group arrived on the scene too late; the battle had already begun and numerous civilians had been injured by incidental exchanges by the villain teams. 

The Allies of Kineto
Left to Right: Icewing, Firebird, Doctor Helix, Battlefront, Passion Storm, and Gigaton

Initially, Legionnaire and Tachyon focused on thwarting the henchmen and lieutenants of their antagonistic adversaries while Omni protected the citizens of New York. This and similar actions cemented Omni as a favorite, trusted superhero among the common people in spite of him being an alien. Meanwhile the Champions team leader, Tower, scaled a building just below Sundown using his size-changing powers to aid in his sneaky approach  At some point, Sundown descended to the roof of said building and generated a force field of intense heat around himself. He then began to form a medicine ball sized Sun over his head which rapidly increased in circumference, becoming roughly 50 ft. in diameter in under a minute. 

Sundown threatened to release it towards New York City's Madison Square Garden as PRIMUS's re-enforcements arrived to assist with crowd control and medical aid. Tachyon immediately disengaged from fighting two of Kineto's gang to try and talk Sundown out of the attack, all while preparing to absorb as much of the energy as he could. Kineto himself, hovering over Madison Square Garden, started to draw in kinetic energy and compress it into a shield to protect the edifice and the citizens therein. As things drew to a very tense head, Tower leaped at Sundown from behind, increasing to his maximum height of 100 feet and tried to grab the villain, his hand and arm sizzling from Sundown's heat field. That's when Sundown suddenly increased the heat in a blistering wave! Tower fell backward in pain and shock, tumbling off the building and crashing to the street below. 

Sundown launched his Sun Sphere - now almost 300 feet in diameter - and Tachyon teamed with Kineto to stop it. As the former absorbed massive amounts of radiation, taxing himself beyond his limit and reducing the sphere's size and power, Kineto altered the attack's trajectory. Along with his kinetic shield, he managed to deflect the mini-Sun into space. Then, before anyone could react, a short, sharp 'CRACk' - a clap of thunder the size of a firecracker - pierced the din of battle. Sundown toppled over, blood boiling out from what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the head. Everyone and everything stopped and the entire scene held its breath. A sniper had somehow taken out Sundown with a clearly high-tech rifle and a bullet coated with atmospheric re-entry level heat shielding. A heartbeat later and crowds on site and watching their TVs nationwide cheered, mostly for Tachyon and Kineto. 

Kineto departed here along with Gigaton and Passion Storm. No attempt was made to follow as there would be time for that later. Tachyon's powers had overloaded, preventing him from ever activating them again less he release the stored energy accidently. Tower was dead. The Champions disbanded amid their own guilt over what had happened and public opinion that it was really Kineto and an unknown sharpshooter, probably working with PRIMUS, that saved the day. Legionnaire retired to continue his research into Parallel Worlds and Alternate Dimensions. Omni took a short break and then returned to crime fighting alone.

Kineto laid low for a bit after this, rebuilding his forces. Passion Storm left his group, though on good terms. Things had gotten too brutal for the aging activist. Icewing, Firebird, and Battlefront were now in prison. 

About two years later, the United Nations Tactical Intelligence League - UNTIL - calls upon Omni to help establish and run a world wide superhero response network for dealing with supervillains, natural disasters, and the like. In short order UNITY is organized and implemented to great success.

The Kineto 'Family'
 Left to Right: Terminatrix, Adamant, Kineto, The Druid, and Inferno. 

An ally and confidant of Kineto at this time was one Professor Felix Henrich, also known as Prof. Helix. Unable to track down Dr. Genius (who went into seclusion in the 50's and has not been seen publicly since), Kineto recruited Helix to assist him with all his scientific and engineering projects. These projects include things such as secret bases, the super-science of superpowers, and the development of weapons and equipment for his henchmen. Kineto not only shared his goals with the Professor but various personal concerns and regrets as well. Kennison confessed that never having had children pained him greatly. 

During the Winter of 1984, Professor Henrich wanted to gain favor with his employer and used the medical technology he installed in Kineto's largest base to clone the King of Kinetic Energy. The result was 'Adam', a 'son' who was nearly identical to Kipling Kennison at a younger age. Initially, Kineto was ecstatic and took to the lad immediately.

Unfortunately, there were some issues: Adam aged rapidly, though Prof. Helix was able to stop his accelerated progression. Adam appeared to be about 20 in the end and following his treatment aged extremely slowly [like Kineto himself]. Adam's powers manifested quite differently. He was only able to manipulate the movement and energy of his own molecules. This manifests as the ability to transform himself into different materials. He normally touches an object, locks in on its molecular structure, and then changes himself into it: steel, wood, volcanic rock, aluminum, and a practically endless selection of others. Adam is unable to fly like his 'father'.  Adam took on the super-moniker 'Adamant'. 

Over the next few years, Adamant served as a key part of Kineto's plans but there was a lot of trouble between the two of them behind the scenes. Adamant, who liked to work out and wasn't particularly interested in philosophy and the sciences, was viewed as 'dim' by his 'father'. Kineto talked down to his 'young son' and gave him very little to do beyond 'muscle work'. Finally, they disagreed about Kineto's endgame but more on that later. 

Professor Helix wanted to try again. This time he informed Kineto of his plan and suggested that instead of a traditional clone, this one should be a biological hybrid - a 'clone' meets in vitro fertilization - a test tube baby combing Kineto's DNA with that of a female counterpart. Kineto knew exactly who he'd like the donor to be and traveled to England. There he infiltrated a diplomatic function being attended by, among others, Maiden Fair. While in disguise as a foreign military leader, Kineto danced with Maiden Fair who seemed under the weather. She soon had to sit down and grew visibly pale. Kineto offered her his handkerchief which she coughed into, confiding that she had very recently been injured in battle and was still recuperating. The disguised Kineto requested an attendant assist Maiden Fair back to her room to rest and regain her strength. He then excused himself, noting blood on handkerchief. 

I like to imagine he thought twice about what he'd obtained but made the poor decision to go through with the scheme anyway. This does not go well. Unbeknownst to Kineto, Maiden Fair had been part of an international strike team who went after the villain known as Plague. Plague had afflicted Maiden Fair with a superhuman virus that caused rapid cellular degeneration. Only her superpowers - increased Strength, Speed, Vitality, and Healing based on 'how much the people of England love and believe in their country and her' - were keeping her alive. Thankfully, she was much beloved by the public in Britain and beyond. 

Kineto and Professor Helix combined the DNA of Kineto and Maiden Fair and created a daughter - Katherine - but before they could celebrate their success the young woman began to literally decompose. Some mysterious virus (See above) was destroying her cells at an alarming rate. Helix did everything he could to stop the process as Kineto simply broke down in silent tears, pain, and anger. A stasis field with life support capacity saved what remained but Kineto took one look and told the Professor, "Get rid of it. When I return, I want it to be as if this was never done. This was never here."

Unfortunately - or perhaps fortunately depending on your perspective - the Professor couldn't do that. He contacted a colleague at the Advanced Research Genetics and Engineering Network Team - ARGENT - to see if their Super-Science could save 'Kate'. At a top secret lab they did just that, integrating the remains into the most advanced cybernetic body ever developed - complete with a host of deadly weapons and defenses. When Kate woke up she understandably freaked out and murdered all the ARGENT scientists in the room. She escaped the facility and after laying low for a while she resurfaced as Terminatrix, an assassin for hire who would only take contracts against superpowered targets. Terminatrix refuses to kill normals, even super-normals*. She makes her first public appearance in late 1984 or early 1985. She despises her 'father' Kineto as she can clearly remember his last words to her deteriorating body. She is unaware of her mother's identity. 

A third attempt to create a 'child' for Kineto was made a few years later by Lord Dweomer, a supervillain mage and alchemist who asked for Kineto's aid with a complex scheme of his own. Dweomer offered this as part of the payment to Kineto for the latter's help. Magic was always a concern for Kineto as it's something he doesn't completely understand and which his powers sometimes have trouble effecting. The end result was ''Hermes', also known as 'The Druid', whose powers are mystical in nature and deal with the control and alteration of living matter. Fanatically devoted to Kineto and his father's cause, Druid tries too hard, viewed as a 'brown noser' and 'suck up' by Adamant. Kineto has little respect for him either, seeing him as a 'yes man' of the worst sort. Additionally, Kineto mistrusts him because of the magical nature Druid's arcane abilities.

The Druid's power over living matter enables him to shape-change. 
He often takes this form to appear less physically imposing and dangerous.

There was a fourth but he came to be much later. We'll address him in the next and hopefully final chapter in the life and times of Kineto...

Coming Soon,

Barking Alien

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Kineto - Portrait of a Supervillain

Welcome to part two of my biographical profile of Kineto, a Supervillain NPC created by my friend Willian Corpening for his epic, long running Champions RPG campaign, 'The Age of Champions'.

Kineto is, without a doubt, my favorite Superhero genre villain and it is my hope that this post, in conjunction with the one that came before it, will give you some inkling as to why.

Now more than 40+ years old, Kineto still appears in my Champions RPG campaigns to this day. In fact, the version I am covering is the one that appears in my current 'Champions: UNITY' game, set on the parallel world of Champions Earth-Alpha Delta-1A.

Following the tragic death of Kineto's wife and his violent reaction, Kipling Kennison disappeared for nearly two decades. Neither friend nor foe, nor authorities mundane or extraordinary could find him. Many tried. What is now known is that Kineto spent this time amassing resources, allies, building hidden bases, and making plans. 

The 1950s saw a steady decline in superhuman activity. Even more superheroes [and supervillains] passed away or retired and fewer new ones were appearing. Paranormal and super-physical events were likewise rarely occurring. By the end of the decade, the Champions were down to three full-time members who rarely teamed-up or needed to. The greatest hero group on Earth only largely existed in name only. 

By the early 1960s this situation had changed. A small number of new heroes and villains appeared around the world, with more heavily populated areas naturally seeing higher numbers of them. In the mid-60s a new team of Champions formed with a membership consisting of both recently appearing heroes and legacies, those caped crimefighters descended from heroes of the past. It wasn't until the 1970s however that the presence of the superhuman community blossomed and the time was right for Kineto to make his return. 

The 1970s iteration of the Champions (aka 'The Silver Age Champions') consisted of Garrison, The Legionnaire, a teenage Omni, Tachyon, and Tower. Their first major mission together had them face off against Doctor Destroyer - Yes! THE Doctor Destroyer - who resurfaced after years of hiding in the (fictional) South American country of Madoras*. The evil Doctor set out to steal an experimental variant of the Avenger Super-Soldier Formula, itself based on his own Destroyer Formula. As the Champions and Dr. Destroyer's forces engaged each other, Kineto appeared to complicate things. 

The Silver Age Champions
Left to Right: Omni, Tachyon, Garrison, Tower, and The Legionnaire

Kineto announced himself and his own team of minions in heroic fashion, declaring he was there to finally put an end to Destroyer's villainy. A longtime adversary of Dr. Destroyer, the heroes initially saw Kineto as helping, a powerful ally in this fight. Once Destroyer's henchmen were defeated and the Avenger Formula variation secured, the Doctor himself escaped. Instead of giving chase, Kineto went to seize the formula. This brought him into conflict with the Champions - arguing at first and then partaking in a physical battle. The experimental serum was vaporized during the conflict. With his prize eliminated, Kineto and his team departed. 

This would establish the MO of many encounters with Kineto, painting him as the anti-hero or even as a 'Heroic Supervillain'. He would show up to fight another bad guy, acting like his old superhero self, and seemingly helping the PCs. Then you would find out he did it because the villain was doing something counter to Kineto's own plans or so that Kineto could take the MacGuffin for himself. In the case of former Golden Age villains whom he had a history with, such as Doctor Destroyer or Baron Nihil, Kineto would honestly want to defeat them because they were evil - any additional benefits of doing so were just icing on the cake.

After a number of similar confrontations, Kineto enacted his first truly villainous action. At an international summit on the subject of 'Superpowers and The Superpowers: How Governments Deal with Supers', Kineto showed up unannounced with an entourage of other supers and demanded to speak. Because of his previous activities, positive and negative, there was a delay in deciding how to react to his presence. Ostensibly, Kineto was there to talk on behalf of the 'Superhuman Community' and wanted to make sure he and his fellow metahumans were heard. This didn't quite hold when his associates didn't let anyone leave the event while Kineto was talking. The scenario began to resemble a hostage situation and a number of UNTIL Agents and other security personnel sprung into action to ensure the safety of everyone present; a number of heroes were also present providing additional protection. As the situation escalated, several members of the Champions, the New Knights of the Round Table, and a handful of others were called in. Kineto was peacefully talked out of any hostilities by Omni and Britain's Maiden Fair.

Maiden Fair (Silver Age Costume)

Kineto was quite smitten with Maiden Fair, whom he'd met in England some years earlier. She was unaware of this as he had been in disguise at the time. In addition to resembling his deceased wife Margret Miller, Maiden Fair was definitely Kennison's type - British, blonde, beautiful, smart, and selfless. Over the years, Kineto's crush would develop further but his past tragic loss made him reluctant to act on it more directly. 

It should be noted that here we first start to see several of Kineto's conflicting quirks and traits. He has an agenda, one which he was slow to reveal but which he assured everyone was for 'the greater good' - allow Supers a greater say in the laws and regulations governing their activities. Eventually this will be expanded upon.

Furthermore, Kineto still sees himself as the hero ultimately but realizes sometimes even good guys need to bend or break the rules, use excessive force, etc. At the same time, he has his principles. He won't directly fight a woman unless he has to and then only defensively. He wants to appear honorable and reasonable in the eyes of the public so he won't fight if provided sufficient reason or incentive not to. He always keeps his word and won't go back on promises he makes. On numerous occasions this has been used against him by Omni and others.  

Kineto gets into a violent confrontation with the supervillain Sundown that threatens to cause a near nuclear explosion at a energy research facility in Pennsylvania. This is their third encounter and the two men despised each other. Gigaton, a former US Marine whose powers come from a similar experiment to the one that created Sundown, shows up and sides with Kineto. The Champions arrive and team-up with The Masked Patriot II and Flint in order to break-up the fight. Some of the villains are apprehended but Kineto, Sundown, Gigaton, and a few others on each side manage to retreat and escape. 

The Arch-Enemies of Kineto
Doctor Destroyer, Mechanon, Sundown, and Holocaust

Kineto and his villainous opponents began to divvy-up the super-criminal community, picking team members like children in a schoolyard game. Kineto's 'gang' largely consisted of people who didn't see themselves as villains and who were down with his general message: Superbeings are super - as in superior - to normal beings and as such, shouldn't be subject to normal Human judgement and control. Only supers are worthy of judging supers and only superhuman leadership will ensure a safe and prosperous future for the Earth and its people.

This didn't mean all supers were inherently good in Kineto's eyes. Rather, it meant good supers could achieve a greater good than mundane good people could. Likewise, supervillainy had the capacity to cause greater harm than any mundane evil. It was up to the Superheroes, the 'Good Guys' of which Kineto was surely one, to take charge of solving this situation. The Champions? In Kineto's view they were good natured supers who meant well but they still took orders from normal people and would therefore never come to understand what really needed to be done. 

Part III is coming soon...

Barking Alien

*Madoras, the fictional country in South America where many former Nazi's hid, ruled by Doctor Destroyer, and eventually taken over by Professor Muerte and Terror Incorporated is named for the a similar fictional location in the 1968 film 'They Saved Hitler's Brain'. 

Saturday, July 15, 2023

The Rise and Fall of Kineto

In my previous posts about our current Champions Superhero RPG campaign 'Champions: UNITY', I've often mentioned the Superhero-turned-Supervillain-turned-It's-Complicated-OK character Kineto.  

Kineto is the creation of my friend William Corpening or at the very least he created the version of Kineto that appeared in his decade+ long 'Age of Champions' campaign. If a 'Champions Canon' version exists I am not familiar with it. 

I have run a number of Champions campaigns set in variants of Will's universe as I completely fell in love with it after playing in it as a player for about 3 1/2-4 years. Will's version of the setting is referred to as Champions Earth-Wilcox Charlie-1. My incarnations have included Champions Earth-Alpha Delta-1, Champions Earth-Alpha Delta-A, and presently Champions Earth-Alpha Delta-1A. 

By popular demand (OK, Tim Knight. By Tim Knight demand), I've decided to write a profile on this character, who I have often described as one of the Greatest Supervillains of All Time and definitely my personal favorite. More so than Darth Vader, Doctor Doom, Voldemort, or Thanos, I fear and adore encountering Kineto. 

This is his story....

This post specifically reflects the Alpha Delta-1A version of Kineto. Your universe's variant may differ.

Before He Was Infamous

Kineto was born Kipling 'Kip' Kennison in New York City in the Spring of 1925. His parents were a US Army Officer and a British ex-pat School Teacher. The Kennisons loved books and read to young Kip often, especially the works of Charles Dickens, obviously Rudyard Kipling, H.G. Wells, and tales of King Arthur and Robin Hood. Kip loved these stories and learned to read quite well at a young age. 

It's established early on that Kineto has a very distinct sense of morality and honor. His upbringing makes it make some sense. His Dad was an officer in the US Army. His Mom told him about Chivalry, Honor, and Right over Might. Kineto often comes off as a cross between a romanticized Knight and Captain America. 

In 1940, while visiting London, Kipling's parents and numerous others were killed in the bombing of the city by the German Luftwaffe. The Blitz left fifteen year old Kipling an orphan, forcing him to live on the streets for the next year. Using skills learned from his Army Officer father and the Boy Scouts, Kip found shelter, stole food and medical supplies, and planned to contact the British military for help. One day in 1941, after taking some fruit and vegetables from a cart, Kip found himself pursued by policemen. Kennison evaded them by hiding in the basement of what appeared to be an abandoned building.

The basement turned out to be the secret laboratory of renowned scientific recluse Jean-Louise Jeanis, also known as 'Doctor Genius'. Astounded by the young man's ability to infiltrate the hidden facility, Jeanis insisted Kip be allowed to stay when Allied Intelligence Agents came to arrest the boy. The often grouchy 'absent-minded professor' took on Kipling as an assistant and brought the lad with him when Jeanis was added as a supporting member of the Allied Powers' 'Project: Champions'.   

Dr. Genius - Jean-Louise Jeanis 

Enter The Golden Age

In response to the activities of the Axis Übermensch  - most notably Dr. Albert Zerstoiten, aka Doctor Destroyer - the Allies assembled their own team of superpowered soldiers to counter the enemy's activities. The Allied Champions were revealed in to the public in 1942.

After a year of adventures alongside the Allied Champions, the clever and athletic young Kip become something of a mascot to the group. In addition to helping Dr. Genius with his inventions and science projects, Kennison did everything he could to assist the team. He got along well with everyone and was especially close with The Masked Patriot and Sir AlbionIn an interview with The Masked Patriot during the war, the hero described Kipling as 'Everybody's Sidekick'. 

Near the beginning of 1943, Dr. Genius invented a unique weapon in hopes of providing an alternative to atomic bombs - The Kinetic Energy Converter Cannon! The cannon was designed to absorb kinetic energy, slowing the inertia of everything in its range, and then focusing that energy into a precise beam of destructive power. Unfortunately, right before the first full fledged test, the device was sabotaged by Axis Agents. Moments after the weapon was activated and charged up with kinetic energy it exploded! The force of the blast was tremendous, sending tanks and artillery flying.

Kip had been making adjustments to the machine's targeting equipment and should have been killed instantly. Instead, he survived and discovered he'd gained superpowers of his own - Kipling had Super Speed! He donned a costume inspired by the outfit of a Knight's Squire and took the name Kineto, The Kinetic Kid!

The Allied Champions (aka The Golden Age Champions)

From Left to Right:
Sir Albion (Britain), Winger I (USA), The Crimson Cowl I (USA), Kineto (USA), The Masked Patriot II (USA), American Eagle I (USA),
The Crusader (Britain), The Night Soldier (USA),White Wolf I (Canada), and The Lady in Black (USA).

A Teenage Superhero Goes to War!

Kineto was an overnight sensation with both troops and the folks back home. A wholesome American boy with good looks, a ton of personality, and a tragic backstory, Kineto was instantly popular. He was also effective, his Super Speed saving the day on numerous occasions just months into his Superhero career. Kineto still saw himself as a sidekick or mascot at this point but the press promoted him to full on star! Kip was a morale buster for the Allies and absolute pain in the keister to the Axis.

A few months after obtaining his powers, The Champions found themselves regularly teamed up with Major Victory, an independent American superhero fighting the Nazis as well. Kineto idolized Victory and the two developed a friendly mentor/student relationship. During one mission, the bold and headstrong duo interrupted an experiment by Doctor Destroyer that accidentally resulted in the creation of the villain Baron Nihil. Nihil would periodically emerge from hiding through the decades to come, harassing both Kineto and VIctory's descendants.

Major Victory
First in a long legacy of superheroes

Kineto was very headstrong, almost foolishly brave, and it served him well. He didn't learn to be cautious or careful as his bold actions usually paid off in the end. Yes he made mistakes and yes they were pointed out and corrected by the adult Champions. Looking at the big picture however, Kineto's approach won the day more than not.

Over time, Dr. Genius surmised Kineto had more going on than just Super Speed. Kineto's power was control over inertia, kinetic energy, and velocity itself. It could allow him to move fast, slow those around him, stop the forward momentum of bullets, or take away the speed of a moving motorcycle and apply it onto an Axis soldier, sending the man hurtling away. As he honed his abilities, the upper limits of what Kineto could potentially do became more and more difficult to determine. 

Kineto met a young woman at a USO/Central Pool of Artists/CSE event in December of 1943 and the two fell for each other almost instantly. Margret 'Maggie' Miller was a volunteer hostess as well as a nurse. They danced, laughed, and talked for hours. Kineto's popularity made it difficult for the pair to avoid attracting attention but Kineto used his powers at times to give them peace from prying eyes. At the end of the event, he promised to see her again. 

Margret Miller

Kineto saw in Margret the American Dream he had thought denied to him by the death of his parents. A wife, kids, a house with a white picket fence, etc. Maybe in the USA, maybe in England, it didn't matter to him so much. Thoughts of this woman and this goal carried him through the rest of the conflict. 

By the onset of 1944, the Axis Forces that saw Kineto on the field of battle downright panicked. There was no way to counter the 'Golden Boy from America' (a common nickname given to Kineto by the enemy militaries). Kineto began to show signs of being a little too big for his britches at this point; his ego having been inflated by the fact that he seemed, quite literally, unstoppable. 

Maggie and Kineto got together the night before the plan to launch the Enola Gay and Bockscar. Kineto knew the final preparations were being made and surmised the Allied Champions would receive a call to action as well. The two talked about future plans, Kineto confessed being in love with and she with him. A night of happiness and peace before the coming storm. 

In 1945, despite the pleas of Dr. Genius to find an alternate solution, Allied command ordered the atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Axis Übermensch, under the leadership of Dr. Destroyer, attempted to prevent the Enola Gay's take off from Tinian Island but we're intercepted by the Allied Champions. The two groups fought the single largest superhuman battle in recorded history up to that point. 

Kineto displayed several new applications of his powers for the first time in that fight. He could now fly, create walls of kinetic force and compressed air, and strike with a 'Kinetic Punch'. He could also accelerate a person's metabolism or the friction in the air around them in order to make them overheat and pass out. If used to the extreme, Kineto could make a target appear to 'spontaneously combust'. In fact, he used this very tactic against Dr. Destroyer, forcing the villain to flee the conflict. 

Dr. Albert Zerstoiten / Doctor Destroyer

The more he expanded and improved upon the use of his power, the more brutal Kineto became when fighting, especially against Nazis.  

Kineto single-handedly defeated four members of the Übermensch, injuring three of them very badly, including Destroyer. The Allied Champions beat the Axis supers and with the deployment of Little Boy and Fat Man, World War II moved toward a close. Germany surrendered in May of 1945 and Japan in September.

The first inklings of Kineto's developing outlook has its roots in this period immediately following the atomic bombings of Japan. Kineto, like Dr. Genius, felt it was unnecessary but his reasoning for why differed. Kineto thought that Supers could have been used more strategically to target key Axis military targets, greatly reducing or eliminating civilian casualties. Regular people seemed to underestimate and underappreciate what Super people could achieve. 


In the years following World War II several members of the Allied Champions retired or otherwise disappeared from public view. Canada's White Wolf returned to Canada and stayed active for some time. Britain's Crusader literally vanished into thin air.  The remaining members and a few new ones were given a headquarters in downtown New York City, later moved to 'The Cloisters' in Upper Manhattan. The name of the team was officially changed to simply, The Champions.

Dr. Genius went to work for the US and UN providing scientific and technical knowledge, as well as assistance with the world's slowly but steadily increasing Superhuman presence.  

The McCarthy Era, aka The second Red Scare, reduced the presence of Superheroes in the US, with fear and concern over their activities being fanned by right-wing elements of the government. There were a few heroes who continued to be trusted by both the public and government alike, including American Eagle, the Masked Patriot, and Kineto. Kineto was the most vocal against McCarthyism but did so with his usual charm and easy, authoritative demeanor.

As a result of Kineto's televised speeches on the subject (and other factors inspired by Kineto), the extent and length of McCarthyism was greatly reduced on Champions Earth-Alpha Delta-1A. Secretly, Kineto increasingly believes Humanity is ill equipped to avoid another World War or even lead itself to a progressive future. Superhumans really should be taking a bigger role in helping normal Humans to achieve a greater society. 

Kipling Kennison and Margret Miller married at some point in the early 1950s. A year later, following the Champions' successful battle against the would-be world conqueror Holocaust, Kineto took a leave from the team to go on his honeymoon. The newlywed Kennisons take a cruise on a passenger liner traveling from New York to London. 

A Dark Turn

As their ship neared British waters, the vessel struck a submerged mine left over from WW II. The resulting explosion breached the hull causing an immediate emergency situation. After telling his wife to get to as safe a position as possible, Kineto consulted with the ship's Captain, Chief Engineer, and the man whose company owned the vessel. The three men informed Kineto of the best way to save the most people. Kineto disagreed with their assessment. He insisted that his powers, which had increased even further and with which he was highly skilled, could be used to lift the entire liner out of the water or at least dramatically slow its sinking, allowing help to arrive in time. The others, particularly the ship's Captain, were firm that this wouldn't work, causing the hull too much stress. 

Reluctantly, Kineto agreed to follow their plan and as he feared, it resulted in numerous passengers falling into the freezing waters of the Atlantic. Among those lost was Margret Kennison, Kineto's wife.

Kineto's reaction to the situation was intense. After saving as many people as he could and searching for his beloved, Kineto confronted the three men. He started by chastising them for telling him how to use his powers.

"How could you possibly know what I can and can't do? You are Human. Only Human. You are bound by the laws of physics and traditional engineering. I can bend those laws. I can break them and put them back together the way I want them to be.  Why? Why do Superhumans listen to mundane Humans? Why do we let you tell us what to do and how to save people? You can't even save yourselves! That's why we do what we do! If Humans continue to run the world this way, more of you will die. Perhaps all of you! Only Supers can save this planet."

Kineto then used his most deadly attack for the first time: Almost without thinking, he made the atom's of the Captain's right hand fly away from each other in random directions at hundreds of miles an hour. He absorbed the velocity and inertia of the boats, the sea, the air around them to essentially vaporize the commanding officer's hand. He then left the scene, flying high into the night sky and using yet another new ability, 'Geosynchronous Teleportion' (locking himself in place relative to the rotation of the Earth. The Earth turns below him so he seems to disappear, moving West at 460 meters per second or roughly 1000 miles per hour). 

Kineto would not be seen again for some time and when he did reappear...things would never be the same again...

More to come,

Barking Alien

Sunday, July 9, 2023

The History of A World - Part II

Continuing my rough history/catalog of major societal events from my current Champions campaign, 'Champions: UNITY'. 

These events take place on Champions Earth-Alpha-Delta-1A, my present take on the campaign setting created by my good friend and the greatest GM I've ever known, William Corpening. His 'Age of Champions' game ran from 1982 to 1993 [if I'm not mistaken] and was set on his original world of Champions Earth-Wilcox Charlie-1.

I was a part of that game during the period William referred to as 'The Age of Chaos', which is the era I will be going over below. In reality, it took place between 1986 and 1989. I've expanded the period and moved up the timeline to enable my current players and I to play in the world with the same events and characters being relevant to the present. 

Note that this isn't even close to all the events that occurred in our old campaign nor in the history of my current one. I have focused on elements that point out the differences between the game world's history and our real world history, especially as it applies to the normal Human populace. There are many things the supers community and secret intelligence community know that the common people don't know. The information here is know to or available to the average person. 

'The Age of Chaos'


The popularity of superheroes reached an all time high during the mid-80s. The number of members of UNITY increases across the globe. While prejudice against aliens continued to mount, the world populace still adored Omni; he was viewed as a calm, well spoken, and rational man and a great leader. 

Superhero products and merchandise such as clothing, action figures, and even breakfast cereal were in great demand, with proceeds going to various charitable organizations. While the heroes themselves had varied opinions on the matter, the people loved it and loved the idea that it supported worthwhile causes. 

'The Maroon Marten', the long running Television Sitcom/Dramedy, celebrated its 200th episode in 1983. While its popularity had gone up and down in the Nielson Ratings over the years, it never left the top ten most watched shows in its time slot. The series centered around a fictional up-and-coming superhero (the titular 'Maroon Marten') and his relationships with family, friends, and next door neighbor/romantic interest while living in LA. Little superheroics were ever seen on camera, with the Maroon Marten or more often his secret identity of Mark Mulligan always heading out to fight crime or just returning from doing so in the show's cold openings. The series won numerous Emmys over its 9 seasons (up to that point) for writing, direction, and both the male and female leads had won Best Actor and Actress. 

The Maroon Marten Television Show Logo Beginning with Season 3
This version was used for the majority of its run.

NBC, the National Broadcasting Company, commemorated the 200th episode with a surprise appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson by none other than the Real Maroon Marten! Yes, the actor who played Mark Mulligan/Maroon Marten, one Paul Baron, shared the stage for the first time with the mysterious real life superhero of the same name who first appeared on the scene thwarting a grocery store robbery in 1976 (around the time of the TV series' second season). This quelled a popular rumor that the two men were the same person. This was clearly disproven when the real Maroon Marten displayed his Super Strength in front of a live audience, lifting a weight neither Paul Baron, Johnny Carson, nor several stagehands could. 

The show remained on the air until 1989. Baron went on to play several dramatic roles on TV and a small but very well received cameo in a Mel Brooks motion picture parodying Supers. The actual Maroon Marten appears to age very slowly and is still active in 2023. In 2022 a new Maroon Marten series made for Streaming aired on Netflix. It did very well and follow up seasons seem likely. 

The creators of the website Superhero Hype were so good at covering superhumans that it almost seemed like they had inside information. They were contacted by UNTIL and it turned out their staff included a number of low level supers. UNTIL decided to hire them to create a channel only members of the superhero community could access. While Superhero Hype is basically an amateur or fan site for the public, the new 'SuperHype' is a professional/industry site 'by superheroes, for superheroes'. There is a lot more to this element of the setting than this but this is what most civilians in the world know. SuperHype eventually evolves into a combo Streaming Service, Social Media Site, and an Information Archive for Superheroes and their international intelligence allies such as UNTIL but not PRIMUS and the other national groups (it is considered a perk of UNTIY membership and is not usually accessible to non-UNITY/Independent superheroes)

Mann Enterprises, a corporation known for its development of eco-friendly fuel, transportation, and ergonomic product design, wins the exclusive rights to extract resources from the 'Lost World' by a United Nations council on the matter. Mann is awarded this near-monopoly based on the company's long history of environmentally conscious business practices. The key material that Mann extracts from the Lost World is 'Polybioplast': a naturally occurring, thick liquid polymer made from the remains of ancient plants, animals, and bacteria found in the Lost World's unique biosphere. Flexible, extremely durable, and enabling other materials to bond together on a molecular level, Polybioplast allows for the creation of many other incredible alloys and compounds. Mann allows other companies to purchase limited quantities of the substance from them for remarkably reasonable prices given the practically priceless nature of Polybioplast. 

Kineto, the former teenage superhero of the Golden Age turned supervillain, gives a speech while he and his group of super-terrorists battle UNITY in New York. The speech is televised by a number of local and national news outlets. Kineto's message and motivations are clear to the average person for the first time. While the fear many have of him is reinforced or even increased, many others see his point of view. Many superpowered beings, hero and villain alike, are given much to consider. While his team is defeated, Kineto himself escapes. 

Scaramangler Industries creates Impervium, the most indestructible material in the known universe. It is formed by dispersing and recombining the molecular structures of an equal amount of Stellar Titanium, magical Adamantine, and Polybioplast. The resulting metallic alloy substance absorbs and reflects back all energy, including kinetic. If a disc shaped shield were made of Impervium, it could be thrown by a strong normal person but if thrown by someone with super strength it might only travel a short distance, reflecting the force back at the thrower. It definitely couldn't be bounced off people and objects the way Captain America's can. Instead it would hit the target and the target would go flying backward as if it had run into the shield at speed. The British Superhero Crusader gets such a Shield and learns to throw it but again, he can not safely throw it partially far. It should be noted that while very strong and athletic, Crusader is not Super Strong. 

After the kidnapping of his sister, a popular television newscaster, the semi-retired Tachyon activated his powers for the first time since his initial overload of energy appeared to neutralize them. In doing so, two novice superheroes were vaporized by the intense blast while another - an android - was badly damaged. Instantly traveling to the Mediterranean island hideout of the criminal kingpin Mr. Grimm, Tachyon was still too late to save his sister from being murdered by the criminal. Grimm was eventually killed by the superhero Night Force in self defense. Tachyon turns himself in to PRIMUS custody, pleads guilty, and is sent to Stronghold Super Prison where he remains.

The sentient robot supervillain Mechanon, after years of menacing organic life, is finally and permanently defeated by a combination of UNITY New York and UNTIY California (aka The Protectors). It is reported to the public that the key to Mechanon's destruction involved Communication Satellites, Omni's Telemetry power, and Christian Scaramangler's technical genius. This will come up again later. 

An alien superbeing representing 'The Pleiades Imperium' and calling himself Starguard begins operating on Earth, regularly teamed with the members of UNITY's New York group. Little is known about him and his initial relationship with Omni seems more frenemy than staunch ally. Rather quickly, Starguard proves himself every bit the hero and his boisterous attitude and striking appearance make him very popular, especially with young people.

Adamant, a member of Kineto's supervillain inner circle, goes on a drunken rampage through the Rockefeller Center area of New York City. After defeating Starguard in battle, Adamant is confronted by Omni who is able to talk him down without a physical fight. Adamant allows himself to be arrested and get help while in prison. Omni is known to visit him regularly. 

A young boy named Pablo Nestor Nunez, aka 'Neutronium Boy', ran away from home in an attempt to reach the Scaramangler Foundation building in New York City. Young Pablo had discovered he had a Mutant Power he couldn't control and sought the Foundation for help. During his 6 hour struggle to get to his destination, the boy's body transformed, slowly at first and more rapidly as he became stressed, into a being made of extremely dense, heavy, neutron-degenerate matter. Using a payphone, Nunez was able to contact the Scaramangler Foundation for help but he was lost and scared, unable to pinpoint his location. The Foundation contacted UNITY for help.

As UNITY searched for the boy with police assistance, Nunez found himself pursued by a group of supervillains hoping to use him or his power in some way. Eventually, the available UNITY members engaged the villains as Nunez's transformation into 'Neutronium' made it virtually impossible for him to move. At just over 4 feet in height the boy weighed hundreds of tons. The dull metallic material covering him went over his joints making it even harder for him to continue. In the end, Pablo reached the front 'courtyard' of the Scaramangler Building as no more than an inert rock. 

Omni was there, holding the boy until Nunez no longer showed any signs of life (confirmed by Omni's Telepathy). Following funeral services, a statue and plaque honoring Nunez was permanently installed in front of the Scaramangler Foundation Building on nearly the exact spot where Nunez ended his journey.

The front of the Scaramangler Foundation Building in New York City
featuring the statue of Neutronium Boy. May he rest in peace.


The world at large becomes acutely aware of the existence of Parallel Earths when the villains of three different ones - ours and two others - combine forces to merge the planets into one. The resulting Earth would have 7 billion people. Since that was the rough population of each world, it was understood that 14 billion would die. The heroes of Champions Earth-AD-1, Challengers Earth-Mu-AD1, and Champion League Earth-Delta Ceti-AD1 united to save the three variant planets in what would come to be known as 'The Dark Trinity Event'. In the aftermath of the incident, some heroes and villains were trapped on the wrong Earths, with travel between dimensions now far more difficult than ever before. 

Payphones, still in operation across most of the world, got a major upgrade at this time thanks to Scaramangler Industries. Benefiting from S-Phone and improved satellite technology,  the modern payphones were built into ATM-like kiosks that provide internet access and one button emergency services contact. This includes the ability to alert one's local Superhero Team/UNITY base. Emergency service calls are free. All other uses can be paid for by cash/coinage, credit card, or charged to your home or business communications provider. 

S-Payphone by S-COMM
A Telecommunications Subsidiary of
Scaramangler Industries

A US Covert Operation in the Middle East goes incredibly poorly when the target turns out to be protected by superhuman bodyguards. UNTIL and UNITY are sent in to rescue the American operatives but encounter a team of Black Ops Supers working for PRIMUS. After a team-up between UNITY and the PRIMUS group, First S.T.R.I.K.E., several members of the latter turn on and attack the former. One member, Overload, switches sides to help UNITY while nearly all the rest are arrested after a short but intense battle. Unfortunately, a First STRIKE operative code-named 'Inkblot' goes absolutely insane, killing several PRIMUS and UNTIL agents before ultimately escaping. Sometime after returning to the US, Overload is cleared and joins UNITY. 

Christian Scaramangler went missing and a series of attacks against UNITY New York followed, largely undertaken by a variety of extremely advanced and powerful robots. When Scaramangler reappeared he claimed he'd been the captive of technologically superior alien entity he did not recognize. 

Adamant, aka Adam Kennison, is released from prison on probation due to good behavior and into the custody of Omni. The two have become friends and Omni takes a personal interest in Adam's rehabilitation. Adam get's a normal job and works hard to his villainous past behind him. 

A number of world-threatening situations occurred in the 1990s that the public had no knowledge of. This obviously occurred throughout history but this period saw both a large number and scenarios with massive scope and consequences. 

Damage during a battle with supervillains reveals Christian Scaramangler to be an android! It is assumed he had been so since his disappearance/abduction a year prior. See above. In a very public battle, the False Scaramangler is seen engaged in combat with several members of UNITY New York, fighting them to a standstill.

The alien hero Starguard challenged the pseudo-Scaramangler to Pleiadean Ritual Combat. The Android refused at first, until Starguard threatened to call upon the entirety of his team The Protectors of Pleiades. At that point the Android and Starguard announced their one-on-one fight would be on Earth's moon 12 hours later.

In the interim time, investigations revealed that the Android had been behind several crimes and responsible for numerous attacks against Omni and Starguard, as well as others, since the imposter 'returned' from his supposed capture. A long time friend of the real Christian Scaramangler who had benefited from the Scaramangler Foundation, John Gideon, decided to join UNITY until the false-Scaramangler situation could be resolved. Under the code-name 'Sword of Gideon', John aided the New York team by handling local, low-to-medium scale threats.

Starguard managed to destroy the Scaramangler Android...or so he thought. It returned several times after this battle in different bodies, all utilizing Scaramangler's advanced technology. The entity was eventually discovered to be using an upgraded version of Mechanon's 'Consciousness Transfer' system to 'survive' each fight. See way above. Once they knew this, Omni and the other UNITY heroes were able to permanently eliminate this villain in a similar way to their defeat of the Mechanon robot. Exactly who they were was not uncovered. The real Christian Scaramangler was never recovered and was presumed dead.  

The Invasion: Earth War which ended 6 months prior to the start of my current campaign is considered one of the biggest milestone's in the history of Champions Earth-AD-1. It began with a fleet of alien spacecraft attacking and landing their troops at various coast cities and islands all over the world. UNTIL and UNITY mobilized immediately, showing the benefits of a such a network. In spite of Earth's efforts, the invaders were able to siege and hold several locations. Sadly, these actions only constituted the first wave. 

A second and much larger fleet arrived soon after, once again descending upon coastal regions, islands, and even areas of open ocean. It would be revealed that three out of the five alien races unified in attacking the Earth - the Gadroon, Hzeel, Qularr, Roin'Esh, and Vilarians,  - were amphibious or largely aquatic. Once this was determined, UNTIL and the United Nations coordinated with the seagoing Navies of its member countries. Navy and Coast Guard personnel became extremely important during the conflict but also suffered the most casualties. Aquatic superheroes weren't numerous so UNITY's strategy in many cases was to draw their opponents inland. A side effect of this approach was that many local/regional superheroes who weren't UNITY members were able to join in. It should be noted that only a handful of Roin'Esh were involved, making no claim to be representative of their species as a whole

The Invasion: Earth Alliance: Gadroon, Hzeel, Qularr, Roin'Esh, and Vilarians

Within 24 hours the entire world, Human and Superhuman alike, were united in defending the planet Earth. Many supervillains joined in to help defeat the invaders as well. Most notable were members of CLOWN, Doctor Silverback, Kineto, and Mr. Fiacho and EuroStrike. Adam Kennison, formerly the villain Adamant, teams up with UNITY members to fight the enemy as well. Meanwhile, Omni, Starguard, and a small team of other supers left the planet in an attempt to negotiate for some assistance from the Pleiades Imperium and Mandaarian Republic. The Mandaarians are Omni's people. 

After an intense three day conflict with many lives lost on both sides, the alien invasion forces surrendered to the United Nations of Earth. Our victory was largely thanks to the efforts of Humanity and its allies, as well as reinforcements from the Mandaarians and Pleiadeans, including the alien superteam The Protectors of Pleiades.  

Following the Invasion: Earth War, the Mandaarian Republic and Pleiades Imperium signed a pact to mutually protect but not otherwise interfere with the planet Earth. Omni spent 3 months reworking the Mandaarian government and negotiating a more lasting peace between it and the Pleiades Imperial government. 

A section of Central Park in New York City was dubbed Heroes Row and dedicated to super and non-super heroes who'd fallen in the war. Numerous statues were added depicting those who perished. Christian Scaramangler receives a stature at the Scaramangler Foundation Building. John Gideon retires his Sword of Gideon superhero identity and becomes Chief of Security Operations for the entire Foundation. 

The overall attitude towards alien beings became far more diversified and nuanced. The Invasion so many had feared had happened but extraterrestrial allies helped win the day. Generally speaking, aliens were now viewed as just people from far away. 

Whoo! That was A LOT. I hope I didn't overdo it.

Did you all like these posts? Please let me know in the comments. 

We'll talk soon,

Barking Alien