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Pest Control in a Superhuman World


Steve
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Regular rats and termites are already annoying enough, but what might it be like to have an enhanced infestation of some kind? They don’t necessarily have to have full-on bulletproof superpowers. How about a hive of termites with a sentient Queen controlling them, or rats with minor gremlin abilities to disrupt things?

 

Dealing with a sentient termite swarm might not need Mighty Man to solve it, but it would seem like PRIMUS of UNTIL might need to be called in, or someone with a bit more ability than the local exterminator.

 

Does this sort of thing get mentioned in the CU anywhere? Pest control might make for an interesting super agents or low-level superhero campaign.

 

Ghostbusters or maybe Men In Black would be examples, I suppose.

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What an interesting notion. I can't remember offhand any examples of mutant insects, rats, or the like making a nuisance of themselves in the official CU, although obviously there's much potential for that due to scientific or magical accidents or deliberate meddling. The examples I can recall involve supervillains controlling and using such creatures as weapons or spies, as with the minor god of insects, Marmoo, in Australia (Hidden Lands), or the mutant called the Lord of Rats in India (Champions Worldwide). There are also what appear to be a unique and aggressive species of flying insect in the Amazon jungle, an attack from which resulted in the origin of the villain Hornet (Champions Villains Volume Three).

 

Officially, I don't think it's happened often enough for someone to make a living as a specialist super-exterminator. That could change, of course.

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In the CU the likeliest persons to deliberately create such things would be Teleios, just to see what would happen; and Hornet, because they'd be relatives. ;)

 

1 hour ago, Greywind said:

Well, there's those bugs that parked their ship in the Detroit River.

 

The alien Qularr, you mean? They do breed swarms of small insects, and larger individual "firebugs," that they can control as weapons. It's possible some of those could have been left behind after Qularr attacks, and might have gone wild. They would make a particularly dangerous invasive species. (Qularr are detailed in Champions Beyond.)

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Random thought.  Someone afflicted with some horried "death field generation" (that's a GW reference) type superpower might not want to be a mass murdering villain and also might not see too much potential for heroing with a power that only kills - but, if controlled and used cautiously enough, could be one heck of an exterminator of conventional pests.  There's probably any number of AE and nastier CE type powers that might be used that way.

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Marvel has Swarm, a nazi scientist who merged with a mutated hive of bees. It is unknown if the scientists mind still exist in the human skeleton or if the body is merely food and home for the hive.

 

And someone also ate the original spider which bit Peter Parker and it somehow became a hord of spiders in a human skin suit. I forgotten what they called this thing. Update: It calls itself The Thousand. Your welcomed for the nightmares the image of a thousand spiders in a human skin brings.

 

It is possible that someone in the Champions universe is basically a human pile of vermin hunting for their communal existence. Whose to say.

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On 5/30/2021 at 8:00 PM, steriaca said:

Marvel has Swarm, a nazi scientist who merged with a mutated hive of bees. It is unknown if the scientists mind still exist in the human skeleton or if the body is merely food and home for the hive.

 

And someone also ate the original spider which bit Peter Parker and it somehow became a hord of spiders in a human skin suit. I forgotten what they called this thing. Update: It calls itself The Thousand. Your welcomed for the nightmares the image of a thousand spiders in a human skin brings.

 

 

 

There was also the intelligent cockroach swarm that could possess human bodies, that infiltrated and destroyed the SHIELD Helicarrier in the 1985 Sensational She-Hulk graphic novel.

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22 hours ago, Armitage said:

 

 

There was also the intelligent cockroach swarm that could possess human bodies, that infiltrated and destroyed the SHIELD Helicarrier in the 1985 Sensational She-Hulk graphic novel.


I think this and Swarm are the real answer to pest control in a superhuman world.  The genre convention isn't that they become super-organized pests that we have to live with (ala Joes Apartment, if anyone remembers that) its that once a swarm gets intelligent enough it gets a cape, organizes into a humanoid shape and starts making supervillian speeches.

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11 hours ago, Jhamin said:


I think this and Swarm are the real answer to pest control in a superhuman world.  The genre convention isn't that they become super-organized pests that we have to live with (ala Joes Apartment, if anyone remembers that) its that once a swarm gets intelligent enough it gets a cape, organizes into a humanoid shape and starts making supervillian speeches.

Seems to me one dropped supervillain homage Hero could of done. An intelligent man-shaped ant colony or such (or even an ant-shaped colony...whose to say bipedal humanoids are the most advanced shape in evolution?).

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5 hours ago, steriaca said:

Seems to me one dropped supervillain homage Hero could of done. An intelligent man-shaped ant colony or such (or even an ant-shaped colony...whose to say bipedal humanoids are the most advanced shape in evolution?).

 

You know, there's an alien species in the Champions Universe that could fit into that role. The Krsst are a hive-mind species that evolved from creatures somewhat similar to army ants or bee swarms. Each hive effectively constitutes a single organism, usually covering roughly a 2-4 meter radius area when assembled. Krsst hives communicate by direct transmission of nerve impulses from individual to individual, along with a battery of scent cues. They are sensitive to poisons and drugs, and a good dose of soapy water can disrupt the swarm’s scent communication. (See Champions Beyond p. 274.)

 

Mutate a Krsst hive for the desired powers, add plot-appropriate personality traits, and drop them on Earth.


 

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The closest thing to the Swarm supervillain concept that I've seen for Champions was written by the esteemed Scott Bennie for Digital Hero #24, the adventure, "And There Was Blood Everywhere!" A brutal, ruthless ethnic civil war in a fictional African country has fed ancient malevolent spirits on blood, hatred, and suffering, giving them the strength to manifest as a two-kilometer-wide cloud of billions of blood-bloated biting flies, controlled  by a central intelligence. The cloud seeks to spread and feed even farther. Some of the swarm have infested the corpses of the dead, and can animate them like puppets through a sort of magical telekinesis. The resultant "fly zombies" are superhumanly strong.

 

Needless to say, any "pest controllers" called for this problem would be facing a situation like the climax of the movie Ghostbusters.

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The infamous Skitter a.k.a Taylor Herbert from the Webseries Worm springs to mind.

(She had/has absolute control over every Insect within several blocks)

In her Universe she was not allowed by Law to work on the private sector due to circumstances she became a feared crimminal.

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Off hand, two 4th Edition references come to mind:

 

Alien Enemies: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/207037/Aliens-Enemies-4th-Edition

There's a variety of alien races that you can use or modify into a hostile swarm or invasion. Of particular note are also the Eliminators, a group of xenophobic bunglers who are really bad shots but have really powerful and unstable weapons. They're basically a variation of the Ghostbusters team taken to the extreme. I'm adapting them for 6th Edition to use at the next game convention event once in-person gaming resumes on a large scale (hopefully in spring 2022).

 

Invasions: Target Earth https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/208565/Invasions-Target-Earth-4th-edition

Some more alien and supernatural options for your consideration.

 

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6 hours ago, fdw3773 said:

Alien Enemies: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/207037/Aliens-Enemies-4th-Edition

There's a variety of alien races that you can use or modify into a hostile swarm or invasion. Of particular note are also the Eliminators, a group of xenophobic bunglers who are really bad shots but have really powerful and unstable weapons. They're basically a variation of the Ghostbusters team taken to the extreme. I'm adapting them for 6th Edition to use at the next game convention event once in-person gaming resumes on a large scale (hopefully in spring 2022).

 

 

The "Ever-Eating Karrg" (or "Kaarg," the spelling is inconsistent) from Alien Enemies could be particularly fun, as they're basically played for laughs but pose a deadly long-term threat, rather like pumped-up Tribbles. As they're also sapient and non-violent, dealing with them can pose a significant moral dilemma. Throwing the Eliminators into the mix would add to the hijinks.

 

6 hours ago, fdw3773 said:

Invasions: Target Earth https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/208565/Invasions-Target-Earth-4th-edition

Some more alien and supernatural options for your consideration.

 

 

Closest thing in that book to a "pest" would be an "Alien Breeder," but it's essentially a stand-in for a Xenomorph from the "Alien" movie etc. franchise, so dealing with them would be less a job for exterminators, more for military or superhero combatants.

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One of my last "Avant Guard" campaign adventures included a bit of super-pest control. The PCs had offended the mad super-biologist Helix by trying to plant a nuke in his base. He found it, disarmed it, and decided to return it to sender with an announcement that it would go off in New York City in a few hours. And he suggested people would let him destroy the city, in order to limit the damage from the genetic abominations invading the city... some of them contagious.

 

One PC had recently acquired an apprentice of sorts, a young mystic who'd crafted a Blasting Rod that, as per the description in the grimoires, could do weather control. The apprentice (tentatively using the pseduonym Stave) insisted on coming along to fight the monsters, and a good thing too: As the PCs gather, they see a cloud erupt from the summit of the Chrysler building. They know it's a swarm of hornets engineered to carry Helix Fever, one of Helix's engineered plagues. They have no way to fight a giant insect swarm.

 

Then Stave says, "I've got this." He raises the Blasting Rod, recites a Bible verse (Matthew 8:24 if anyone's interested), and concentrates as clouds swiftly gather overhead for a Turn, and KABOOM! With a roar of continuous thunder and lightning, the clouds drop a deluge of rain driven by a gale-force wind aimed straight down. The Helix Fever hornets are swept from the sky to be crushed against buildings and pavement, and drowned in the driving rain. (All done through Change Environment.)

 

A minute later, the Blasting Rod splinters and the storm stops, but Stave is exultant. Nearby people had caught all this on their phones, and Stave -- true child of the social media age -- leans into one to say, "See that? Thant's magic! You think you're all that, Helix, but  I just owned you!"

 

The PCs then saved the city, but they are sure Helix will not take Stave's declaration in good humor. We shall see how this develops.

 

Dean Shomshak

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I'm sure I have Helix's response. 

 

"Magic? Magic? I got your so called magic, which is only a psionic tapping into an extradimensinal energy well, and raise you a swarm of hornets which can also tap into an extradimensinal energy well. As they say, two can play the same game."

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