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Lord Liaden

[Storytime] Birth of RAVEN

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Time: the recent past.

 

Menton paused outside the conference room door. Although he could hear no sounds from within, the mingled anger, suspicion and fear from the minds of those inside washed over his superhuman awareness. Menton smiled to himself. Forging a concensus among these huge egos will be an interesting challenge, he thought.

 

As Menton opened the door, the heads of the men and women sitting around the stately conference table swivelled toward him. "Greetings, everyone, and thank you for coming," Menton began in a friendly tone. "I hope the facilities of this resort have proven satisfactory, and that the publicness of the setting has helped allay any concerns you might have had over potential unpleasantness occuring here. I believe introductions are in order, as although each of you is aware of who I am, several of you have never met each other before. For the sake of discretion I shall refer to you only by your noms du guerre for the time being."

 

Menton nodded toward a man at the far end of the table: "Holocaust." The man scowled with barely-suppressed anger, his hand clenching reflexively. Menton turned to the woman beside him, lounging in her chair with the easy sensuality of a beautiful woman who knew it and knew how to use it: "Gravitar." She acknowledged him with a pleasant smile, but Menton could sense the anxiety beneath her studied nonchalance.

 

"Teleios." The master geneticist made no response, merely watching Menton with cool appraisal. Even Menton was slightly unnerved by the detached dispassion he sensed behind those cold blue eyes.

 

"Molnya." The Russian nodded, his hands steepled pensively in front of him. His expression was alert but composed, and Menton was impressed by the discipline of his thoughts.

 

"Stingray." The Atlantean wore some kind of magical disguise to conceal her true non-human appearance, but her nervousness was harder to hide. She toyed restlessly with a drinking glass in her hand, as though the proximity of water comforted her.

 

"Lamplighter." The old man's dark eyes danced with mocking laughter, but Menton could sense nothing more from him without forcing his way into his mind. Although Menton had no intention of doing so at the moment, something unnatural at the core of the Lamplighter made him even more reluctant to. Of all those gathered here Menton was least certain of this one, but the Lamplighter's value to his scheme was undeniable.

 

Menton turned to the last person at the table, a handsome man impeccably dressed: "Invictus." The man inclined his head in gracious acknowledgement, every gesture calculated for effect.

 

Menton settled into the chair at the head of the table. "I'm grateful to all of you for agreeing to this meeting. I'm hopeful that it signals the beginning of a new era of greatness for all of us, as partners in a most ambitious venture."

 

"You're grateful, are you?" Holocaust snapped. "I daresay you gave all of us little choice but to attend, threatening to reveal our secrets." Holocaust's eyes flared red, as though fires had been lit behind them. "Be warned that I do not take kindly to threats."

 

"Attend, cher," Gravitar said soothingly, resting her hand on Holocaust's arm. "Our host has gone to great effort to gather us all here. I think we should at least hear him out." She smiled again at Menton, but only with her lips; her eyes were hard. "We can always crush him if we do not like what we hear."

 

"I appreciate your patience, Gravitar, thank you," said Menton. "I believe that both of you will find my proposition to be well worth your time."

 

"And if we do not?" Stingray asked. The stress of the moment caused her disguising enchantment to flicker, revealing a glimpse of green skin and hair. "Are we to believe that you will let us simply walk away, without more forceful attempts at 'persuasion?'"

 

"I assure all of you," Lamplighter spoke up, his voice soft yet somehow ominous, "that I would know at once if our host attempted any such thing. Not even Menton could overcome me before I could warn you, and not even Menton would survive our combined wrath."

 

Menton spread his hands placatingly. "I fully understand your concerns, but the Lamplighter has pointed out a very pertinent fact: if it was my intention to influence you psionically, surely I would not have placed myself in such a disadvantageous position. No, my hoped-for future colleagues, for what I have in mind to be fully effective it will require your active and willing participation. I have faith in the persuasiveness of my proposal, but any of you who are not convinced when I'm done are free to leave without interference."

 

"Then this would be a good time to start convincing us," said Holocaust. He still sounded irritated, but Menton could sense that he was intrigued in spite of himself.

 

Menton smiled and settled back in his chair. "Gentlemen. Ladies. There can be little doubt that we here represent the pinnacle of the human race. By our intellect, experience, and most of all our innate power we are clearly far superior to the vast majority of mediocrities who populate this planet. By rights we should be counted among the rulers of this world. In a bygone era when superior breeding was acknowledged and rewarded, we would have been rulers, our rights unquestioned. The world would be steered by those with the clarity of vision to see what must be done, and the will to do it. Instead the world wallows in the rampant corruption and chaos of 'democratic' rule by the mob, or of petty dictators no better than the rabble they seek to control."

 

"What you say is self-evident," Teleios interjected. "Government by the inferior leads to inferior results. All of us here have attempted to take our rightful place at the head of world affairs, but the short-sighted opposition of governments and other organizations, and other misguided 'superbeings,' have presented obstacles. Eventually those obstacles will be overcome, however. It is a process as inevitable as natural selection."

 

"You are of course correct," Menton agreed. "Eventually we will achieve our goals. Yet the opposition you rightly identify has greatly delayed the achievement of those goals, and is likely to continue to do so. Even when one or more of us ultimately succeeds, the burdens of rulership are likely to be onerous and taxing. All of this will be true, if we continue to act individually. Collectively, however... ah! Think of how much closer and more easily our triumph will come if we act together."

 

"Menton," said Invictus, "are you proposing that we here should form some sort of 'supervillain team?'" He sounded mildly amused, but his scorn was plain in the sneer curling his lip.

 

Menton chuckled. "Invictus, I would never suggest that such as we should dirty our hands openly brawling with the costumed baboons who call themselves superheroes. We are meant for far loftier pursuits, deciding the fates of billions. I have found that power is most effective when it is wielded subtly, behind the scenes. And we here are supremely qualified to wield it. All of us have belonged to the elite of society. We have the training, education and experience to use power as it was meant to be used. Because of that, as well as our powers, we are truly the nobility of the modern world.

 

What I propose is the founding of an organization dedicated to a philosophy whose time has come again: rule by those born to rule! Past ages have recognized the divine right of kings, but the superior breeding of the nobility was not always immediately apparent to all who viewed them, and so their lessers could delude themselves into thinking that they were equals. In the age of the superbeing, however, our superiority is objectively, quantifiably demonstrable. It is undeniable!"

 

Stingray interrupted him: "Your 'philosophy' would be widely accepted in my homeland of Atlantis, where the wisdom of rule by the nobility is acknowledged. What makes you believe that you can convince the rest of the world to accede to governance by a minority, however gifted?"

 

"The concept would not be without appeal, if presented correctly," said Molnya thoughtfully. "I have learned that the majority of people are eager for simple-sounding solutions to complex problems. The ineffectuality of most current governments has led to widespread disaffection with existing political systems. It would be a matter of tapping into that disaffection, channeling it in directions that suit our purposes."

 

"And many societies already nearly worship the superhuman," Invictus said. "That's another trend that one could co-opt."

 

"It would not be necessary to convince the whole world," Lamplighter added, idly toying with the silver skull atop his cane. "Merely enough of them to enforce your will upon the rest."

 

"Exactly so," Menton nodded. "I have given much thought to the shape of this new organization, and have already begun to build its foundation. I have planted operatives around the world, in political parties, associations for the elite, institutes of higher learning, radical movements - wherever those dissatisfied with the status quo are likely to gather. The extensive contacts possessed by all of you would grant us inroads into even more such places. These operatives would screen their associates for beliefs compatible with our philosophy, and induct them into our true organization.

 

With followers at all levels of society, and our vast combined resources, we would have the tools to affect world affairs on a global scale. We would act subtly at first, to destabilize governments, disrupt economies, foment conflicts between all the hostile factions of the world. Without ever being identified as the cause, we shall spark sufficient chaos and suffering that the masses will rise up against their own leadership for its seeming incompetence. When they cry out for any alternative, we shall stand up and rein in these ills, and be welcomed as saviors."

 

Lamplighter laughed with relish. "A worthy objective, and an enjoyable path to achieving it." Menton repressed a shudder at the malevolence underlying his words.

 

"The result is logical," said Molnya, "but getting to it will be the practical challenge. You must still present your philosophy in such a manner that significant numbers of normal humans will be drawn to it, despite the fact that they themselves will never achieve the heights of power."

 

"Quite right," Menton agreed. "Since we will have need of a hierarchical system through which our lessers will implement our decrees, I propose that our organization be structured in tiers, with membership in each higher tier granting the member ever greater knowledge of our overall operations, and ever greater authority over those operations. Thus there would be plenty of room for normal humans of ability and ambition to advance and prosper. But make no mistake, the highest tier would be reserved for innate superhumans like ourselves. Membership in that, our global 'House of Lords,' would be reserved for and open to any such superbeing who shares our goals and philosophy."

 

"'Innate superhumans?'" asked Stingray.

 

"Beings with physical and mental powers that are the result of their own inborn abilty," said Menton. "Any buffoon can put on a suit of powered armor or have devices implanted in his body, but only those whose power is an inseparable part of themselves can truly be ranked among the superior."

 

"All right," Invictus murmured, "I can see how that could appeal to both superhumans and the common folk." He seemed to stare into the distance. "We could give members of each tier special titles reflecting their status within the organization. Something drawn from imperial Rome or medieval Europe, to evoke the inspiration for our group. That would give the organization a romantic cachet and sense of elitism to add to its appeal, and set it apart from other would-be world conquerors. We superhumans would be the domini, the lords of the world."

 

Menton smiled with pleasure. "Excellent suggestions, Invictus. This is an example of why I want your uncoerced participation, so that your creativity and initiative will be undiluted."

 

Gravitar shook her head. "Subtlety is all well and good, but sooner or later your group would become public, either through discovery or when you feel ready to take over directly. At that time there will undoubtedly be opposition, and some of it will be forceful. You would have to be prepared to meet force with force. And if we're 'too good to dirty ourselves' by fighting, how do you propose to handle it?"

 

"Perhaps we should take over VIPER first," Holocaust remarked half-jokingly.

 

Menton laughed. "I have no wish to associate us with an army of costumed thugs with guns. That has proven to have limited popular appeal. Instead I would favor a small but highly trained and equipped fighting force to strike at our enemies quietly, surgically, before they become a direct threat."

 

"I can provide the raw manpower for such a force easily enough," said Teleios.

 

"I had you in mind," Menton replied.

 

"But that would still not be sufficient," Teleios continued. "Any future opposition, before or after this organization stands revealed, would undoubtedly include superbeings. You would have to be ready to face them on an even footing, with a cadre of your own superhumans."

 

"Then we can draw from other supers who join our ranks," said Holocaust. "Let's be frank, most superhumans aren't 'superior' in ways that make them competent to govern. We can organize the most combat-effective of them as our elite troops for when we have to deal with super opposition."

 

"Our Praetorian Guard," Invictus said, grinning at Holocaust. "They would stand as a symbol to all our followers, and one day the world; a symbol of our superiority, our invincibility!" Inwardly Menton gloated. He could feel the excitement building among the others as his idea took hold, and knew that he had the momentum now.

 

Gravitar leaned forward, staring intently at Menton. "We've discussed much about what this organization as a whole will do, and what other members of it will do. What you've avoided to this point is any details of what those of us in this room will do. Exactly what role do you envision for us, Menton? And for yourself?" Tension gripped the room as the implication of Gravitar's question sank in, and all eyes turned to Menton.

 

Menton stood and gestured grandly. "My lady, in the truest sense of the philosophy I have articulated, all of us here are nobility. We were born to rule, trained to rule, and rule we shall. I propose that we divide the world into seven domains, each to be led by one of you. Each of you will be in charge of all of our activities within your domain, and when the world is in our hands your domain shall be under your governance. It shall be your personal fiefdom, to be held by you and your heirs, as with any proper lordship."

 

"I notice that you haven't included a domain for yourself," Stingray snapped. "I suppose our 'fiefdoms' will be in fief to you?"

 

Menton swept his gaze around the table, meeting the eyes of each of the others unwaveringly. "All false modesty aside, who else among you could have brought this gathering about? Who else has been able to conspire so freely around the globe, under the very noses of governments and power groups? Who else could assure you that any possible treachery within our ranks would be discovered, and dealt with?" Menton let the threat of that hang in the air a moment, then continued in a more relaxed manner: "But I seek only to set the overall direction of our group, and to settle any disputes that may arise between you. Direction of our organization, let alone governance of the world, would be too monumental a task for even I to conduct alone. I need to delegate authority to those whose competence I can trust."

 

There was a few seconds of uncomfortable silence as the group digested this, then Lamplighter cleared his throat. "So, does this proposed organization of yours have a name yet?"

 

Menton pressed a button beneath the table, and at the far end of the room a silken banner fluttered down over the wall. On a black field was a large white circle, within which was the black silhouette of a thin-beaked bird, wings uplifted. "Throughout history," Menton orated, "the raven has been a symbol of threatened doom, an omen to those who have offended the gods and the natural order. Yet the ravens of the Tower of London are considered good fortune, protectors of the destiny of the kingdom of England so long as they dwell there. For its twin virtues of threat and blessing, reflecting the bounty and the wrath that our group will bring, I have chosen the name RAVEN!"

 

"And perhaps for its sentimental attachment?" Molnya asked mildly, his quiet voice startling after Menton's impassioned speech. "The raven is part of your family's coat of arms, da?"

 

Menton glared at the Russian, startled and perturbed that he knew this much of his secret identity. Molnya met his glare calmly, merely cocking a quizzical eyebrow: "Surely you would agree that the trust between us must be mutual?"

 

Menton relaxed and sheepishly shook his head. "Your reputation for intelligence gathering is not exaggerated, I see. Yes, you are quite right, sir. There must be trust and openness between us, at least as far as is practical. We should put all our cards on the table, so that we may truly become greater than the sum of our parts."

 

With this concession Menton felt the reluctance of the others begin to evaporate. He looked in their eyes, and read his triumph there.

 

"There are still a lot of details to be worked out," grumbled Holocaust, a token resistance.

 

Menton sat down again. "Then by all means, let us begin."

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Behind the story

 

In the mid-1980s, Aaron Allston created his classic Super Agents supplement for Champions and Danger International, blending high-tech espionage with four-color superheroics. SA detailed several agencies both heroic and villainous. One of these, called RAVEN, was led by a group of old-world, old-money aristrocrats, who wanted to return the world to governance by those "born and trained to rule," i.e. blue-bloods like themselves. It was an intriguingly different motivation for a villainous group - well, to me at least, at the time.

 

That incarnation of RAVEN was engaged in ongoing research into advanced super-weapons with which to blackmail the world, a classic comic-book plot. However, in other areas it seemed out of step with the world of the comics, especially in the '80s. Its troops used contemporary weapons instead of sci-fi blasters, and its method of operation was low-key rather than flamboyant. Although it was subsequently incorporated into the official Champions Universe of the time, RAVEN coexisted uneasily with its more four-color neighbors IMO. I suspect that the writers and editors of Hero Games felt similarly, since they eventually turned RAVEN into a mere cash-cow for VIPER.

 

With the success of Hero's Dark Champions line of books focussing on street-level supers, Steve Long brought RAVEN into prominence with An Eye For An Eye. In that book the aristocrats of RAVEN (now just "Raven") became the preeminent world-threatening conspiracy, its covert approach much better suited to DC. I was very impressed by the richness of Steve's restructuring of the group: its hierarchy of "Mysteries" for its members, cool Latinate titles, much more thought given to recruitment and operations. Unfortunately, as a fan of four color comic action, I still didn't have much use for Raven, until it occurred to me how one might interpret "noble born" in the age of superhumans. Making the leaders of Raven superhuman brought a whole new level of threat to the group, and made its philosophy look a lot more relevant to the mainstream Champions Universe. Well, to me at least. :o

 

I used the "super" RAVEN quite a bit in my Fourth Edition Champs games, adapting a number of CU villains who seemed to have the right background and attitude for membership. Recently I noticed that there were enough such villains in the official Fifth Edition CU to fill the ranks of RAVEN's leaders. So I let my imagination play with how such a group could be formed and inserted into an existing CU campaign, resulting in the story above.

 

For people who are unfamiliar with the characters I used and would like to look up more about them: Menton, Gravitar and Holocaust are written up in Conquerors, Killers And Crooks; you'll find Teleios and Stingray in Champions Universe; the Lamplighter is from Arcane Adversaries; Invictus appears in Villainy Amok; and Molnya's writeup is in Champions Worldwide. I'd be happy to discuss why I chose these particular villains (and excluded others) if anyone is interested, but I really just wanted to offer this group as an alternative to some of the other published villain orgs, so of course you should use whatever characters you like that you think would fit.

 

The structural elements I suggested for the group are borrowed from An Eye For An Eye, with thanks to Steve Long (and of course to Aaron Allston for starting the whole thing).

 

I hope someone will find something in this concept that appeals to them. :)

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Very well written, and a good use of some under-developed villains. I know people have been complaining that not enough has been done with Menton, but I always felt that was part of his charm... You shouldn't know what Menton is up to... This is a good blend of the desire to do more with one of Champions' classic villains while keeping him in the shadows where he belongs.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Interesting Idea. Of course I expect that backstabbing would occur, even with Menton at the helm. But still a very worthy idea for a major villianous agency.

BTW, I always thought that the original RAVEN was partly inspired by THRUSH, from "The Man from Uncle."

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Thank you for the kind words, folks. :o

 

 

Very well written' date=' and a good use of some under-developed villains. I know people have been complaining that not enough has been done with Menton, but I always felt that was part of his charm... You [i']shouldn't[/i] know what Menton is up to... This is a good blend of the desire to do more with one of Champions' classic villains while keeping him in the shadows where he belongs.

 

Having been on his own for over ten years, it would make sense for Menton to have been plotting something grand. Since he doesn't favor flashy public actions, though, conspiracies like this feel more his speed.

 

FWIW I used Menton, out from under Dr. Destroyer's shadow, as the Grand Imperator of my 4E "super-RAVEN" as well.

 

 

Interesting Idea. Of course I expect that backstabbing would occur' date=' even with Menton at the helm. But still a very worthy idea for a major villianous agency.[/quote']

 

With one or two possible exceptions, I would expect every one of these villains to try to take control of RAVEN at some point. Almost all of them have world domination on their minds, after all. Much scheming will doubtless occur. :eg: However, they're all intelligent enough to appreciate that their chances of success improve greatly by working together, at least for the time being; and to recognize that nothing less than Menton could hold them together.

 

OTOH Molnya and Lamplighter are both described as being comfortable as the "power behind the throne" rather than having the title of ruler. Teleios is more interested in the freedom to perform his experiments without opposition or censure, than in actually ruling the world. Stingray is fixated on the throne of Atlantis, and probably hasn't thought much beyond that yet. So they may very well support Menton's leadership as long as it seems to be leading where they want to go.

 

 

BTW' date=' I always thought that the original RAVEN was partly inspired by THRUSH, from "The Man from Uncle."[/quote']

 

I never thought of that. :idjit: Of course the two groups have significant differences, but you could well be right. It would be very much in Aaron Allston's style to incorporate homages to popular movies and television shows. Super Agents alone has several.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

For people who are interested in using this concept, let me just suggest a few of the things I did with it to try to distinguish RAVEN from VIPER, DEMON and all those other capitalized villain groups.

 

RAVEN operates by misdirection. Whatever chaos it causes, someone or something else is going to be set up to take the blame. In my games RAVEN had its tentacles into any number of radical political or fundamentalist groups, dictatorships, unscrupulous corporations and organized crime syndicates. Members of these groups had no idea that they were being controlled by some greater agency, though. RAVEN would direct them in activities that fomented corruption and fear, but with no apparent connection to RAVEN itself. The GM should not make it obvious that various enemies the PCs encounter are all working to a common goal, until the time is right for the heroes to start putting the pieces together.

 

RAVEN wields enormous Noncombat Influence. Starting with the leadership I've suggested in my story, the group has money and connections out the wazoo. Any PCs who start to make nuisances of themselves will be dealt with first on that level: harassing lawsuits, censure by government agencies, hostile takeovers of their assets, negative coverage in RAVEN-controlled media, and so on. Only those heroes who persist in being obstructive, or who get too close to discovering the truth, will feel the full force that RAVEN can bring to bear.

 

OTOH you wouldn't necessarily have to stop using any RAVEN villains, even the leadership, in more straight-up confrontational scenarios. The likes of Holocaust and Gravitar enjoy demonstrating their superiority by openly humiliating their opponents. As long as they aren't yet generally known to be associated with RAVEN, they could continue to do so. Their individual schemes may benefit RAVEN's long-term goals, or simply the villains' personal agendas. However, in no case would RAVEN sanction visible activities by its most prominent members that would reflect badly on the group when it finally goes public: no mass murders, large scale destruction etc. In fact some of the RAVEN supers would doubtless begin performing flashy "heroic" actions to garner public support for them - some of which may be legitimate, but others doubtless staged.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

It would be very much in Aaron Allston's style to incorporate homages to popular movies and television shows. Super Agents alone has several.

 

RAVEN is credited to L Douglas Garrett and George MacDonald in Super Agents.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

RAVEN is credited to L Douglas Garrett and George MacDonald in Super Agents.

 

Thank you for giving credit where it's due, assault. :)

 

Because of the very positive feedback I've received for this idea, I'm considering expanding this version of RAVEN for a Digital Hero article. Steve Long very generously gave me permission to use an abridged version of his old 4E Raven material from An Eye For An Eye, since he has no current plans for the group. If I go ahead with an article I'll probably be back on the boards soliciting input on it from all you creative and helpful folks.

 

In the meantime I've had a few more thoughts about this org which I'll throw out for anyone thinking of using it:

 

I was frankly torn about whether to use Zorran the Artificer instead of Stingray as one of the new RAVEN's leaders. To be honest I chose Stingray mostly for a bit more gender balance. Switching the characters wouldn't change the dynamics of the group greatly since Zorran's background and motivation are very similar to Stingray's, but Zorran brings a lot more to the table: he's more powerful, a much more versatile and knowledgeable sorceror, and his skill with Lemurian magical constructs could be as valuable to RAVEN as Teleios's biological expertise. If I go ahead with the article I think I'll use Zorran instead; Stingray might have to be content with being "merely" the leader of RAVEN's superpowered Praetorian Guard. (Stingray's abilities are better suited to more straightforward combat anyway.)

 

However, both characters having knowledge of magic, either one would be suitable as the leader/director of the Dark Brotherhood, RAVEN's mystical cult. In the version from AEFAE the Dark Brotherhood was primarily another recruiting tool for RAVEN, drawing in malleable people looking for meaning in their lives who could be molded to RAVEN's purposes; although Steve did provide optional low-powered magic spells for Dark Champions campaigns that allow for the supernatural. However, in a full supers universe the Brotherhood could also be a means to identify and train those with "supermage" potential to add to RAVEN's ranks of the superior.

 

I can think of a few other published supervillains who might become particularly prominent domini of RAVEN. For example, as the foremost computer hacker in the world, the cyberkinetic Cybermind (from Conquerors, Killers And Crooks) could be a tremendous threat to world security if given focussed and intelligent direction. The shapeshifting master spy and assassin Masquerade (also from CKC) would probably appreciate having his/her superiority to common humanity formally acknowledged. Adding these two to their other resources would give RAVEN unsurpassed ability to steal secret information and covertly manipulate other parties according to their desires.

 

The mentalist/inventor Brainchild (another CKC resident) could likely be persuaded to design weapons and equipment exclusively for RAVEN's "merely human" operatives to match that of other super-agencies. Along those lines I had a thought for my article which long-term Champions afficionadoes might appreciate: I was thinking of equipping RAVEN's non-super combat force, aka "the Legion," with variable modular powered armor, which given RAVEN's borrowing of motifs from imperial Rome would be code-named the Testudo. :sneaky:

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

I don't have Arcane Adversaries, but does 5th Edition Lamplighter still hate mentalists? If he does, I suspect Menton is going to regret not making more of an effort to discern his motives... ;)

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

I don't have Arcane Adversaries' date=' but does 5th Edition Lamplighter still hate mentalists? If he does, I suspect Menton is going to regret not making more of an effort to discern his motives... ;)[/quote']

 

Yes he does, but only at the Common, Moderate level. With his Ego of 23 he should be able to repress that often enough to let him function under Menton's direction as long as it's in his best interests. When that's no longer the case, though, all bets are off. :eg:

 

As I tried to indicate in my story, while I can't believe Menton would unreservedly trust any of these other villains, and would keep a close psychic "eye" on all of them, he would have the most reservations over the Lamplighter. Lamplighter is himself a formidable mentalist and hard to sleuthe out, but Menton would surely perceive that he's motivated by desire to cause pain and suffering, and power is only a means to achieve that.

 

Nonetheless, the kind of large-scale behind-the-scenes manipulation that Menton proposes for RAVEN is exactly the Lamplighter's forte, by his power, skill and experience. He's simply too valuable not to use. For a campaign, though, he has the potential to be a liability if his sadism manifests too obviously, damaging RAVEN's reputation and/or drawing heroic attention. It would be up to the GM whether he wanted that to happen. :sneaky:

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Some dang good writin'.

 

After reading it, only one phrase comes to mind:

 

"Be afraid. Be very afraid."

 

Oh, I already am.

 

:)

 

Almost made Gravitar interesting to me, no small trick.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Almost made Gravitar interesting to me' date=' no small trick.[/quote']

 

Implied compliment gratefully accepted. :o

 

One thing that I was hoping to get across in my story is Gravitar's potential. By her writeup and background description in CKC she's very intelligent, poised and confident, socially adept, scientifically skilled, and creative in the use of her powers. She's still quite young and thus immature and impulsive, but with the implication that experience could make all the difference to her becoming a serious threat to the world. She'll certainly need to learn fast swimming with sharks like these.

 

OTOH I tried to show that Holocaust is the loosest cannon in the group, because his writeup hammers home what an arrogant, condescending, undisciplined jerkwad he is, despite his intellect and prominence. What makes him worthwhile for Menton to put up with is the tankerfull of financial and political capital that he brings with him. I'd still rank him as most likely of all these villains to do something stupid to jeopardise their whole operation.

 

To be honest, almost none of these villains play well with others. It would be necessary to run most of them as a little less vain, unstable, sadistic and paranoid than their flavor text makes them out to be, in order for them to cooperate. You'd be fine sticking to the letter of their Psych Lims, just tone down the embellishment. ;) Among the things I find most interesting about this version of RAVEN is that it isn't a unified, monolithic organization. The rivalries between leaders, their jockeying for position and attempts to subtly outdo or undercut each other, could make for some interesting situations for PCs to find themselves in the middle of, and their best opportunities to discover and exploit RAVEN's weaknesses.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Let me just add that I'm deliberately bucking the trend in Fifth Edition CU organizations of highlighting the agents, their different specialties, equipment and vehicles, while downplaying the supervillains of those orgs. This RAVEN exists for and is dominated by superhumans, and they're the focus of any significant confrontation with RAVEN. Their normal human agents are primarily used for mundane organizational activities and minor missions, or to provide support for their "betters" during major operations.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Here are a few additional plot ideas related to the characters I've suggested as leaders of RAVEN. Note that some of these draw from GM's Vault material from Hidden Lands and Champions Worldwide, so if you're wary of spoiling those books you should look away :) :

 

I would expect Menton to attempt to woo his sister Mentalla away from Eurostar and join RAVEN, but for the time being she's more useful to him where she is. Not only can she keep him apprised of Eurostar's activities, but she can help direct their rampages toward targets that will benefit RAVEN's long term goals. Destabilizing Europe's governments, economy and society will pave the way for RAVEN stepping in and seizing power; when the chaos there is at its height Menton will have Fiacho eliminated (as a cyborg he doesn't fit Menton's criteria for "superhuman") and absorb Eurostar's paranormal members into RAVEN.

 

I would suggest that over the years of Doctor Destroyer's disappearance Menton has effectively taken control of his powerful and influential clan, the Medinas, away from Destroyer, probably maintaining the official clan leader, his father Paccoro Medina, as his mindthralled puppet. Menton's precognitive great-uncle Jorge and supervillain cousin Rafael could both be inducted as domini of RAVEN. However, it would be to Menton's benefit to maintain the pretense that the Medinas still serve Destroyer to allow him to keep tabs on the Doctor's operations.

 

I would expect one of Molnya's first acts to be bringing both Slun and Beek into RAVEN. Together they could easily dominate Russian organized crime and raise its effectiveness worldwide. OTOH Molnya would likely use his increased influence to support Russian nationalist attempts to reestablish a Russian Empire.

 

Lamplighter might take a position as "advisor" to a dictator of one of the more agressive CU nations, such as Joseph Otanga of Lugendu or Garrastazu e Silva of Chiquador, pushing them to war with their neighbors and making the already turbulent African and South American continents even more explosive. In particular, Garrastazu e Silva's interest in developing his own cadre of superhumans would be a ripe field for RAVEN to plant their own recruited or created supers, who of course would actually be loyal to RAVEN.

 

With the powerful mind-controllers in RAVEN's ranks it would be practical for them to promote revolution in Atlantis that would lead Stingray to the throne, giving RAVEN a safe secluded base in which to operate. If Zorran were one of RAVEN's leaders he'd have his eye on Lemuria, but with the mighty Empyrean mentalist Arvad already on the throne that would be a harder nut to crack. However, Zorran would have a powerful enticement to gain support from Lemuria's nobility, the fulfillment of their greatest desire: practical immortality, via Teleios's cloning and mind-transfer processes.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Very, very nice.

 

I'd knid of expect Gravitar and Holocaust to end up as playthings of Menton by the end of this; maybe Molinya as well (don't know his write up off hand). I agree that Zoran would make a good addition to the gang.

 

I'll probably be using this once tweaked for my game. Will rep when I can. :)

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Very, very nice.

 

I'd knid of expect Gravitar and Holocaust to end up as playthings of Menton by the end of this; maybe Molinya as well (don't know his write up off hand). I agree that Zoran would make a good addition to the gang.

 

I'll probably be using this once tweaked for my game. Will rep when I can. :)

 

I thought for some time about whether Menton would leave his mental paddy-paws off his fellow conspirators, and came to the conclusion that it would be in his best interest to do so, at least for a while. First off, as I mentioned in my story, these villains are all very intelligent, and Menton guiding their thoughts too closely to his own way of thinking would stifle their creativity and initiative, which could be very valuable to RAVEN. Second, and perhaps more importantly, most of these villains are strong-willed and react badly to attempts to dominate them (high EGO and Psych Lims), so without constant supervision by Menton they could throw off his mental domination at any time. As soon as they realize they've been under Menton's control they'll likely inform their colleagues, and RAVEN will blow up in Menton's face. And even being Hunted by Dr. Destroyer wouldn't be worse than having these seven p!ssed-off masterminds on his trail. :fear:

 

That said, I would expect one of the first acts by the non-mentalist villains would be to recruit mentalists of their own, to at least warn them of psionic intrusion. I figure Gravitar would look up her countryman Le Bouc, and Molnya his fellow Russian Slun (both from Champions Worldwide, and both with the right temperament to be part of RAVEN). Teleios probably has a brain in a jar to serve as his psychic watchdog. ;)

 

And thanks for the props. :)

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

This vaguely resembles an alliance that was a plot thread in the old New Sentinels game, albeit on a much grander scale. I can *sooo* see RAVEN falling to internal conflict eventually. . . but in the meantime: :eek:

 

Seriously, even Dr Destroyer looks a little small compared with this alliance.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Seriously' date=' even Dr Destroyer looks a little small compared with this alliance.[/quote']

 

Who's to say that this alliance isn't ultimately the result of some deep-implanted instructions to Menton by Doctor Destroyer that are just now surfacing? The man is a chessmaster, and that means looking ahead MANY moves on the board. The creation of RAVEN may be the result of a plan he put into play years ago. :eg:

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