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Who is the MOST Annoying Villain you have Encountered?


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Let's have a discussion about villains. When playing Champions who do you think has been the most annoying villain you have encountered. Whether they be powerful or weak it does not matter. But those villains who just annoyed your character and seemed to be the kind you never could truly get rid of. Could be ones from one of the Hero books or one that your GM created themselves, does not matter.

Edited by Gauntlet
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For the past 35 or so years I've been the one running the Champions games in our group, so as a player I'd have to go back to 1st or 2nd edition Champions, and trust in my notoriously weak memory.  That said, there was a home-brew villain from my first Champions GM's game, whose name I don't recall right now.  He only had one attack, which IIRC he could only do like 3-4 times a day but could burn through a bank vault door.  However, his build was abusively over-defensive - his defenses were so high that when our brick martial artist attacked him from behind with a pushed, haymakered Martial Kick, the resulting 42d6* attack didn't even CON-Stun him.  Most everybody else's attacks pretty much bounced without doing any STUN damage.


* Midnight, our blind brick martial artist, had 60 STR.  In the bad ol' days of 1st edition Champions, a Martial Kick did 2x damage, and Haymaker did 1.5x damage.  So pushed STR (14d6) x 2, x 1.5 = 42d6.

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19 hours ago, Barton said:

Foxbat, my players hate him the most.


17 hours ago, Gauntlet said:

Ahhhhh... I love Foxbat, he's my most favorite hero.


1 hour ago, Hermit said:

Much as I love him, I've had to cut down on my use of Foxbat for my players' sake :)


To show how much I like Foxbat...  see below.


In a past Champions campaign, I created the Foxbat Five (25% better than the Fantastic Four, because... Five).  They were always a lot of fun, both for me to play as well as (I believe) for the players to battle.  The best was when the Foxbat Five dressed up as villains from the 1960s Batman TV show and tried to kidnap Adam West and Burt Ward at a mall opening (forcing them into ill-fitting Batman and Robin costumes).  Without knowing the FF were going to show up dressed as Joker, Penguin, Riddler, etc. the heroes decided to wear costumes for the *same* villains.  It was epic.


But yes, he can get tiring with over-use.  You need to create just the right adventures for Foxbat.


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Absolutely no contest.  No other annoyance, no other published or homebrewed villain has ever come close.  Even as an amateur etymologist, I am completely at a loss to find any words (that wont get me banned) to describe what a horrible, horrible, horrible idea CLOWN was in every possible way, or how unfathomably desperate ICE must have been for something to publish.  Never in the history of the written word-- and I am including fan fiction and furry porn here-  has anything so absolutely awful ever been put to paper.


CLOWN has ended not one, but two different campaigns under two different GMs for me.  I was a player in a then-six-year campaign.  The GM had bought CLOWN at some point, and had been itching to use them, and finally worked up just how to insert them into our game.


Keep in mind that we had gone through, if I remember correctly, about eight story arcs with this campaign-- we were all young and single,and gamed a four-hour session on Wednesday evenings and all day on Sunday.  It was an old-time comic book kind of game--  as you all know, I am not comic savy, but I believe it was what you call Golden Age: there was still a strong feel of the pulp era's two-fisted justice, heroic characters were good of heart, thought, and deed; villains were simply born to villains, and moral ambiguity was the most impossible of fiction.


We were the clear-cut good guys, glib with our one-liners, delivered as surely and consistently as our blows with every sock to the jaw, and in our off time we sponsored school events, electoral participation, fiscal frugality, and children's toothpaste.  The public loved us, the police thanked us for our help, and the President would call and tell us how swell we were.


And we- stalwart examples of ultimate goody twoshoes, all costumed and superpowered Jesi to a man-


were driven to brutally murder each and every member of CLOWN-  not even with rays of mystic energy from magic amulets or cosmic beams of radiation or even a merciful sniper's bullet, but with brute force- bare fists and bludgeons.


Their propensity for escape and the beyond irritating, hyper-stupidity of their very concept was so insanely irritating that we, the players, about the third time they made an appearance, made a pact, and the next time we captured them, rather than take them to jail and let them wreak,even more havoc, we tied them to poles and beat them like concrete pinatas until there was nothing left but a thick liquid on the floor of our secret cavern headquarters, then turned ourselves in for it.


Six year campaign, done.  Eight players, and to this day, none of us regret having done it, and that particular GM, so far as I ever heard, ever attempted to use CLOWN with us or any other group.  


Totally worth it.


Fast forward four years or so to a different game under a different GM:


There were six players, myself and one other from the group that murdered CLOWN.  This campaign had been in play for just over two years, playing six-hour sessions on Saturday mornings (while the GM's two little kids watched cartoons, finished homework, etc).


One day we raced to a crime scene to find CLOWN fleeing the scene in that obnoxiously-concieved car of theirs, dealing life-threatening mischief to bystanders even as they fled.


Five of us begged off and quit the game on the spot.  Apparently only her brother (the sixth player) had never been exposed to CLOWN before.


For my opinion?  Save Wings of the Valkyrie.  The worst thing in it was the emotional and ethical dilemma over the necessity of having to save Hitler.  That absolutely pales in comparison to having to endure the existence of CLOWN.  Only one HERO Games product has ever been pulled from shelves and banished from official preservation.  Unfortunately, it wasn't the best possible choice for such treatment.



Edited by Duke Bushido
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Don't beat around the bush, Duke, tell us how you really feel. :P


I believe one or even two members of CLOWN would make for a humorous change-of-pace scenario without becoming onerous. Merry Andrew, for example, makes a fine analogue for Silver Age Joker. Silly without being lethal, annoying in a fun way.


You put a dozen of the CLOWNs together? That's like achieving the critical mass of annoying. 😖


I've never been a fan of silly supers, but I do appreciate inserting them once in a while to keep a campaign's tone from getting too heavy. But what I strongly object to is a character whose only purpose is to annoy PCs. For me the worst offender in that category is The Champ, from Alien Enemies. He's not actually a villain, he has the best of intentions. But as written, he exists solely to get in the heroes' faces, and to be impenetrably oblivious to how insufferable he is. Even his write-up asserts that with the way it recommends using him, "Soon a visit from the Champ will be as welcome as a battle with Dr. Destroyer." :thumbdown


What makes it even worse, if that's possible, is that the Champ's background and history have so much potential for a much deeper, more compelling character. But that's just thrown away in favor of a one-note parody of a socially-conscious superhero.

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1 hour ago, Duke Bushido said:



Absolutely no contest.  No other annoyance, no other published or homebrewed villain has ever come close.  Even as an amateur etymologist, I am completely at a loss to find any words (that wont get me banned) to describe what a horrible, horrible, horrible idea CLOWN was in every possible way, or how unfathomable desperate ICE must have been for something to publish.  Never in the history of the written word-- and I am including fan fiction and furry porn here-  has anything so absolutely awful ever been put to paper.


Someone, somewhere on these boards (maybe Hermit?) had (IMO) a great idea for revising CLOWN.  IIRC, their pranks were changed to be more socially / environmentally conscious.  So if a bank was using unfair practices in signing customers up for loans / credit cards / etc., CLOWN might decide to paper the town with loan / credit card applications featuring the actual financial info for the bank's CEO and executive officers.  A company guilty of dumping toxic waste might have such waste sprayed throughout their offices (at night, after first removing from the building the night watchmen and any employees working after hours).  Remove any potential lethality (and IIRC, they were supposed to be non-lethal anyway) as well as remove the likelihood that they might target the player character heroes, and give them a goal that's fairly laudable (even if their execution is not to the players liking).  I'd think most players would then have less of an issue with them.

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I just remembered a home-brew NPC hero I created to apply to join the PC hero team.  Not someone they hated, but rather someone they definitely didn't want on their team, nor fighting alongside them.


Stalwart (formerly Major Justice, Captain Incredible, Lieutenant Freedom, Longhorn, and Flying Thunder) was a flying brick.  He had been a member of (or otherwise affiliated with) a number of superhero teams over the prior 15 years.  He was practically invulnerable, had a good STR (50 to 60), and could fly decently fast (about 45 mph).  


He had two problems.  One was in his approach to crimefighting - very much in-your-face berating of criminals (and sometimes fellow heroes) with a very black-and-white, no-shades-of-gray view of good vs. evil and adherance to the law.  While it wasn't proven, he had reportedly gotten several NPC heroes he'd worked with investigated or arrested for playing fast and loose with legalities, and in a few cases for stepping over the line into outright illegal behavior.


The bigger problem involved his invulnerability.  Basically, he avoided a good chunk of physical and energy damage coming his way by converting a portion of it into kinetic energy directed away from him.  In other words, if he was hit with an attack, he automatically took double Knockback.  Not good for a flying character.  He'd spend most battles getting hit and subsequently blasted through a wall / building / etc., and then having to fly back into the fray.  He racked up quite a good amount of collateral damage, with some unintended bystander injuries as well (though to his mind, that wasn't really his fault).  IIRC when the PC heroes contacted other hero teams for info on Stalwart, NPC heroes referred to him as "Crash Bandicoot" and "Captain Destruction."

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1 hour ago, Lord Liaden said:

Changing the targets of CLOWN's pranks from the PCs to socially-reprehensible people and groups would make them at least less unpalatable. IME many players would rather their characters be killed than humiliated.


A laudable idea, I think, but I feel it would be more prudent to create a whole new team.  Anyone exposed to "OG CLOWN" would still be choking on their own bile when they heard "CLOWN has struck again" on the evening news.



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I think a more salutary approach to an annoying super team is the Flashmen, from the 4E Allies Champs supplement. The Flashmen aren't pranksters, they're con men who have built up a completely undeserved reputation as sterling heroes. They excel at public relations by staging events at which they "save the day," and at claiming credit for the actions of other heroes, including the PCs. They function best as rivals to PC heroes, swooping in to "rescue" them or otherwise outshine them in the public's eye. Player response to their actions tends not to be a desire to kill them, as with CLOWN, but rather to publicly expose them as frauds.

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I ran a game once with Clown where they were rather vicious. They definitely loved pranks, but people died for their pranks (or at least were seriously hurt). And like the Joker they absolutely loved to go after NPCs. They normally didn't go to kill the heroes, just the ones around them to show them that they were worthless. In fact, they definitely tried to not kill the heroes, wound them even severely definitely, but not kill them. This was a multiple reality game, so the players fought both versions of Clown, and they definitely hated the evil version more.

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18 hours ago, starblaze said:

Why so much hatred for CLOWN?



I can only answer for me, and, given the lateness of the hour and all the drawbacks inherent to my mode of access to this site, I am reasonably certain that I can't do proper justice to the honest explanation I will try to make.


Foremost, however, I wish to acknowledge that the author did something I never did: he got a product officially licensed and published by HERO Games (sort of; there was the ICE thing) and during what most fans remeber as the Golden Era of Champions.  Well done, and my hat is off to you.


I also want to say that if you are the author, it is vitally important to me that you understand I am not mad or disrespectful at or of _you_.  Seriously: you have an official product to your name.  HERO authors is a pretty small group, and you managed to get into it.  I do not have any unkind thoughts _for you_.  If you thought othwise, I want to apologize here, publically:


I am sorry-  really, truly, _deeply_ sorry that you wrote CLOWN.  I strive every day to forgive you.  One day, I am sure I almost will.


So to start......


Well, they are clowns.  Honestly, what else do you want?  What else do you _need_?!  According to the American Pychological Society, more people are uncomfortable around clowns that there are people who fear dogs.  Let's make our main "villains" something that is going to immediately jade people into disliking the entire concept and having no interest in deeper pursuing the workings of these characters.


Second off, they aren't super-powered.  They can have gadgets and gizmos, but at the end of the day, they can't take even the slightest bit of "rough handling."


They aren't villains because they aren't generally engaging in any sort of plot to defraud, steal, damage, or harm anything or anyone other than whatever hero or group is this week's infatuation.  Careless fallout of slapstick gags can have accidental spill over into civilian casualties, or tie the heroes up so that they aren't available for some crisis or other, but they aren't likely to do more than immobilize a hero for a bit.


Nothing you can do about it, again, because they are just normals.


Let's see....  Irritating and vulnerable to accidental death....  So if I say "The Gilt Complex was the greatest Champions Adventure ever written!" I would-- quite rightfully-- get slapped so many times my grandkids would be born nauseous. Agreed?


So why is it okay to cover them in greasepaint and try it again?  We can say "oh but" this and "oh but" that, but at the end of the day, they are characters who are insanely easy to kill (believe me!  I _know_!) who have decided to dedicate their themselves to making you want to do that very thing.


Some of (maybe all; it never came up when I was exposed to them, and even though my collection includes that book, I have no interest in re-reading it for anything, ever; it is simply part of the collection) them are tech geniuses: like Tony Stark super-computer / "my tuxedo is a tank!" kind of genius inventors.


What do you do with this incredible talent?  Not make money.  Not fight crime.  Nope.  We are going to be bullies.  We are going to be bullies to people who who are doing their best to be _good people_, who are doing their best to help the helpless and answer the unwinnable challenge.


They aren't villains; they're just dicks.  Dicks!  How super-HERO genre is _that_?! And in the paradigm of the game, we are to treat them as villains and take them seriously and take the game seriously while dealing with opponents who are not serious, nor taking the game terribly seriously.  So Captain Justice and FireMan have King Konquer on the run after having just saved five hundred people from the sacrifice ritual meant to start a demonic takeover of the earth.  Good luck, Lads!


Bystander 1:  Oh, thank you for saving my son from that crazed psycho, FireMan!  If ever you need anything within my power....


Bystander 2:  he went that way, behind that waterfall!


Guy from CLOWN:  Imma draw a penis on your back and take pictures....



I used to believe with all my heart that Lex Luthor had the absolute stupidest motivation for becoming a villain of all time:


"He saved my life but it made me bald; the world must suffer!"  That is just unbelievably dumb.  (Yeah, I understand that there wasn't a lot of source material guidance back in the day, but _still_...)


And what does Lex do along the way?  Well he uses his incredible intellect to invent amazing things, build a megacorporations, gain fabulous wealth, travel to other planets and if my son is right, to become President of the US.  Now he hasn't given up on trying to kill Superman; he has simply accepted that it is impossible to a be one-dimensional one-trick pony and actually resemble anything like character, and certainly such a lack of character development would make for a lack if audience interest.


Our genius clowns build a car that-  well, it forces the "clowns are funny!  Hurr hurr hurr!" thing at you in an absolutely _painful_  cringefest of stereotypes and mechanized slapstick--  not even the good slapstick like the Stooges, but the "I am so embarrassed for you; maybe people won't remember that you actually tried this" slapstick of Dick Van Dyke (who then went on to try it over and over again anyway.  Same vibe from the CLOWN car).  It just crams it all down your throat:  look!  It's funny!  It's classically funny!, it's traditionally,clown-related funny!  Oh wow, this is funny!


It isn't funny.  It is predictable and stereotypical and embarrassing to watch unfold.  If you were a big fan of I Love Lucy, you might feel different.  I couldn't watch that, either, because of the overwhelming embarrasment I felt for the actors and writers for having to portray characters dumb enough to stumble helplessly into whatever easily-avoided antics were scheduled that week.  I have that same embarrassment for whoever  wrote CLOWN and _especially_ whoever came up the-- forgive me; I didnt name it!--  "Tee Hee" (get it?!  Get it?!  GET IT?  GET IT?!  "TEE HEE?!"  Tee-hee?!  Like a laugh?  Like when someone laughs?   Because it's funny?!  And they're clowns?!  Get it?!  Get it?!  Hunh?  HUNH?!)  The CLOWN car.  I give "the CLOWN car" as an expression a pass because this tiny micropun actually kind of works, and would probably be respectable if someone handn't spent seven Sundays poring through the thesaurus to justify T.E.E. H.E.E.   That is the same level of cringe for "Supreme Headquarters International Oh gives a crap, make it spell SHIELD!"


But it is thematic and funny, see?  Did you miss that?  Did you miss how hillarious the whole thing is?


It is like putting in your contact lenses with a ball peen hammer.



Even this car-  this crowning achievement of AI-  comes off as a hardcore ripoff of Scatman Caruthers' short lived Rickety Rocket.....



Anyway, we have guys capable of this level of genius and creativity, and who are given extensive and in some cases affluent backgrounds, and a range of talents and no small amount of intelligence--  potential Lex Luthors or Tony Starks or even straight up psychotic killers, and yet this is what they do:


Interrupt busy people and beg to be killed, finding buttons and pushing them.  Playing with emotions, icons, and dangerous situations, yet _somehow_, we are supposed to accept that this is supposed to embarrass _the heroes_:


Oh, Dude!  Oh, wow, Dude!  You totally had him!  You totally had the Masked Bomber and had almost saved the orphanage _and_ the children's hospital.  But then that clown came out of nowhere and pantsed you, forcing you to trip and drop the bomber, who ran to the detonator that your sidekick was trying to dismantle, and then he pressed the button, and then--  well, they are all dead now, and it is your fault because you weren't wearing clown-proof longjohns, and aren't you totally embarrased, because this is obviously all on you...


Oh no!  Clown is all about embarrassment, not what you described!


Shaving cream pie in the face?  Okay, great.  Why did it work?  Was the HERO not expecting it?  Why not?  Because he was running somewhere?  Chasing someone?  So the villain gets away because some geniuses with six-year-old intellects went out of their way to make it happen, but somehow this is an embarrassment to the heroes.... How?


Because it funny; hurr hurr hurr!


Absolutely nothing about CLOWN works with any other part of it.  Absolutely nothing about CLOWN is particularly sinister, or evil, or funny, of has any kind of actual point beyond being as annoying as possible, which can only continue to work because the GM has decided to press it-- tie your hands here, gag your voice there, and break impossible luck in their direction.

Clown can only work the exact same way that the Gilt Complex can only work: fudge the entirety of the universe to give these guys success that actually looks bad on the heroes but not the guys the public sees _actually causing the problem_.


It is the Gilt Complex with greasepaint, failed-yet-repeatedly-forced humor, characters who's 'thens' and 'nows' cannot be reconciled with anything short of repeated blows to the head, whose motivations don't hold water in a universe where characters have to feed themselves, and frankly, I think super-powered people beating them like concrete pinatas was ultimately far too kind, as it did in some way suggest this was worth reacting to at all.


Again-  i am sure I missed a lot, or failed to deliver in certain points, but doing this by phone doesn't lend well to formatting or re-scanning to see what has been covered and what hasn't.



Edited by Duke Bushido
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Without diminishing Duke's points, one reason I see that a lot of players HATE CLOWN is the preponderance of "no, you don't get to run your character tonight - instead your character departs your control entirely to do something entirely silly and out of character" powers.  It's the worst of those Silver Age "Thugs robbing the art museum - why are Superman and Batman playing Twister instead of stopping them?" stories.  Could they possibly be used in better stories?  Undoubtedly, although with their abilities, it would take a lot of work.  Each one looks like a one-appearance villain in one of those "What is wrong with you so-called heroes?" stories, and we just slap them all together as a team because the heroes are a team.

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For a real-world analogy, CLOWN is like this new wave of eco-protestors that we are seeing except they are protesting the PC's. You know like, the idiots who sit down in streets, deface art and interrupt entertainment and sporting events. They may actually have a real message but they're so obnoxious you'd rather beat them down to drive them off than listen to them.

Edited by Grailknight
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As I've asserted before, CLOWN is overkill. One annoying gag villain can be a welcome change of pace in a superhero game. Putting a dozen of them together reaches critical mass of annoying.


Thanks to their numbers, and resources like a hidden base and vehicle, untraceable bank accounts, and cutting-edge gadgets, CLOWN's "pranks" are often grandiose in scale, and are frequently aimed directly at embarrassing and humiliating heroes. They use team tactics and back each other up, so they're very hard to definitively defeat. And collectively they have enough honest-to-God power that they can't just be caught and dealt with like other "gag" villains. Their incarnation for 4E in Classic Organizations even introduced CLOWN's secret patron, an actual freakin' cosmic embodiment of Chaos.


5 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:


Well, they are clowns.  Honestly, what else do you want?  What else do you _need_?!  According to the American Pychological Society, more people are uncomfortable around clowns that there are people who fear dogs.  Let's make our main "villains" something that is going to immediately jade people into disliking the entire concept and having no interest in deeper pursuing the workings of these characters.


Second off, they aren't super-powered.  They can have gadgets and gizmos, but at the end of the day, they can't take even the slightest bit of "rough handling."



Those points are not wholly accurate, I'm afraid. Only Merry Andrew, the leader of CLOWN, affects a guise resembling an actual clown. The styles of the rest vary widely, only being "clowns" in the metaphorical sense. But even then, many of the members, even if they have a superficially silly style, aren't really "funny." They act rebelliously out of anger or resentment, or because they're easily led.


A number of the CLOWNs do have genuine significant superpowers, and several are capable of mixing it up with "standard" superheroes quite effectively. Others who are less combat-oriented have powers that are guaranteed to p!ss off PCs (and their players), such as Mind Control and Transform.


The intention of the creator of this group may have been to use them for laughs, but their power and their attitudes often make it hard to treat them as a laughing matter.

Edited by Lord Liaden
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