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Lord Liaden

[Storytime] Birth of RAVEN

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Here is another element to the new RAVEN which draws inspiration from the older material, but takes it in IMHO a fresh new direction:

 

RAVEN Infiltration and Subversion Corps (RISC). Like RAVEN's elite combat force, the Praetorian Guard, RISC is a specialized corps of superhuman operatives. Unlike the Guard, however, the members of RISC are chosen for powers and abilities which emphasize subtlety, deception and manipulation, including the shape-shifting spy and assassin Masquerade, the cyberkinetic "super-hacker" Cybermind, and the mind-controlling Esper. While the Praetorians are known throughout RAVEN, the inspirational symbols of superhuman superiority, the very existence of RISC is known only to the highest leadership of RAVEN.

 

If the Guard is a sword, RISC is a scalpel. It exists to spread distrust, foment conflict, and eliminate opposition which cannot be practically destroyed through force. It specializes in acquiring closely guarded damaging information, and in spreading disinformation; in manipulating or coercing people into performing "services" for RAVEN; and in controlling or impersonating individuals who are obstacles to RAVEN's objectives so as to destroy their credibility and effectiveness. When RISC performs a theft or assassination it is either of the "locked room" variety, unexplainable without knowledge of the superpowers used, or else it leaves deliberate clues leading to a predetermined scapegoat.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Am I alone in beginning to think that RAVEN would make a great counterpart/enemy to the IHA? Or maybe some of the RAVEN folks are :supporters: of the IHA? You know, slide them some supertech weapons, let them take down a few annoying heroes, and scare otherwise undecided metas into joining RAVEN, even if only out of fear for their own lives.

 

Wasn't something like that being done with Genocide in the 2nd Ed book The Mutant File?

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Am I alone in beginning to think that RAVEN would make a great counterpart/enemy to the IHA? Or maybe some of the RAVEN folks are :supporters: of the IHA? You know, slide them some supertech weapons, let them take down a few annoying heroes, and scare otherwise undecided metas into joining RAVEN, even if only out of fear for their own lives.

 

Wasn't something like that being done with Genocide in the 2nd Ed book The Mutant File?

 

You're not alone. ;) I realized shortly after I decided to incarnate this group in the 5E CU that it would become Enemy Number One to the IHA the moment they discovered its existence. This RAVEN is the Institute's worst paranoid nightmare made real: a worldwide conspiracy of paranormals dedicated to subjugating all "normal" humans. I personally would not want to have RAVEN provide limited support to the IHA - I dislike major superuniverse conspiracies manipulating other superuniverse conspiracies - but you could certainly go that way if you chose.

 

You're right that there was another agency in The Mutant File, called IMAGE, that was the opposite number to Genocide - a pro-mutant force whose leader had the same vision as Magneto. That example highlights another reason why I would dislike trying to make the IHA a pawn of RAVEN: IMAGE tried to do that with Genocide, to scare mutants into joining them, but they helped make Genocide so powerful that it became a major threat to IMAGE. Not that there aren't plenty of real-world examples of pawns of the powerful coming back to bite them. :rolleyes: Of course if you wanted that to happen, it is a great excuse to "upgrade" the IHA.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

In the Champions of Vancouver Universe - The Institute for Human Advancement is the parent organization of Project Genocide and the Minute Man Robots are the result of a buisness arrangement with ARGENT.

 

Cheers

 

QM

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Of course, the problem the IHA would have here, is that RAVEN could more or less crush them like a bug. The ruling council has vastly more power than anything the IHA could conceivable throw at them, and several of the members ( notably Menton and Invictus ) are conspirator/masterminds at least on a par with IHA.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Of course' date=' the problem the IHA would have here, is that RAVEN could more or less crush them like a bug. The ruling council has vastly more power than anything the IHA could conceivable throw at them, and several of the members ( notably Menton and Invictus ) are conspirator/masterminds at least on a par with IHA.[/quote']

 

You highlight a point that's worth keeping in mind. RAVEN as described here is a very potent organization and conspiracy, easily on par with VIPER, DEMON or Doctor Destroyer. Introducing it would logically lead to a major shift in the villainous power balance in the CU or campaigns derived from the CU, so adding it should be considered carefully. RAVEN would readily lend itself to being the primary antagonist in a campaign.

 

Of course, since RAVEN thrives by keeping its existence out of the public awareness, it might take some time for the various powers of the world to become aware that numerous supervillains and masterminds are in fact acting in concert. Come to think of it, it would make sense for RAVEN to try to maneuver its rivals into fighting each other to weaken the competition before it steps onto the public stage.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Come to think of it' date=' it would make sense for RAVEN to try to maneuver its rivals into fighting each other to weaken the competition before it steps onto the public stage.[/quote']

 

Isn't that the default condition in the CU? The Circle of the Scarlet Moon retains control over the US government only because the other conspiracies are busy fighting each other? ;)

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Nah, the Circle doesn't have *control*. It has influence, same as a bunch of other people have.

 

And it retains said influence mainly by staying as low key as possible. Though, frankly, I'm vaguely surprised Luther Black hasn't gotten DEMON to crush them like a bug at some point, just to close up a little loose thread in his past. . .

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Nah, the Circle doesn't have *control*. It has influence, same as a bunch of other people have.

 

And it retains said influence mainly by staying as low key as possible. Though, frankly, I'm vaguely surprised Luther Black hasn't gotten DEMON to crush them like a bug at some point, just to close up a little loose thread in his past. . .

 

Well, he might need some black magicians to sacrifice to the forces of darkness at some point, and he can't kill all his Morbanes.

 

Seriously, if LB hasn't crushed the Circle by now, then either they're just too tough for him to do it, they're too weak to bother, or he has something truly vile in mind for them.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

You highlight a point that's worth keeping in mind. RAVEN as described here is a very potent organization and conspiracy, easily on par with VIPER, DEMON or Doctor Destroyer. Introducing it would logically lead to a major shift in the villainous power balance in the CU or campaigns derived from the CU, so adding it should be considered carefully. RAVEN would readily lend itself to being the primary antagonist in a campaign.

 

Of course, since RAVEN thrives by keeping its existence out of the public awareness, it might take some time for the various powers of the world to become aware that numerous supervillains and masterminds are in fact acting in concert. Come to think of it, it would make sense for RAVEN to try to maneuver its rivals into fighting each other to weaken the competition before it steps onto the public stage.

 

Hmm, if it were me... I'd let the PCs meet all these characters as individual villains first, just so they know how dangerous they are. Then, as they're fighting VIPER (or whoever), RAVEN slowly gathers in the background. So when the PCs have finished VIPER once and for all (Supreme Serpent jailed or dead, their bases destroyed and their agents scattered)... RAVEN prepares to make its great strike from the shadows

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Well' date=' he might need some black magicians to sacrifice to the forces of darkness at some point, and he can't kill [i']all[/i] his Morbanes.

 

Seriously, if LB hasn't crushed the Circle by now, then either they're just too tough for him to do it, they're too weak to bother, or he has something truly vile in mind for them.

 

No way is it the first one. We've seen what a typical Circle Archdruid has available. Mystically, they have more versatility than a typical Morbane. . . but its alot weaker and more limited. Resource-wise, they've always got contacts and influence and such. . . but so do a whole lot of Morbanes, not even bringing in the Maleficia dedicated to such tasks. Plus, societal influence doesn't do you much good against a Morbane who brings along a bunch of Initiates and Brothers to go burn down your house with you in it. Only secrecy helps.

 

I tend towards the second one myself.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Hmm' date=' if it were me... I'd let the PCs meet all these characters as individual villains first, just so they know how dangerous they are. Then, as they're fighting VIPER (or whoever), RAVEN slowly gathers in the background. So when the PCs have finished VIPER once and for all (Supreme Serpent jailed or dead, their bases destroyed and their agents scattered)... RAVEN prepares to make its great strike from the shadows[/quote']

 

If the heroes are capable of destroying VIPER primarily through their own efforts, RAVEN might not *want* to reveal itself. :eek:

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

No way is it the first one. We've seen what a typical Circle Archdruid has available...

Well, this would all depend on how a GM views the Circle in his campaign. Remember that the Circle took out the Archmage early in the 20th century, and that old Luther fears the return of an Archmage. Granted the Archamge of last century would be weaker than the one that would pop-up post-1938, but so were the sorcerers of the Circle back then.

We could also be underestimating what the Circle can call upon for help. They have access to a lot of lost mystical paraphernalia that probably would be on any character sheet, and would only be brought out for exceptional circumstances. Nothing on the scale of the Hellstone, but it could be potent nonetheless. Also the agent of the Infernal Hierarchy would be very enthusiastic in helping against DEMON.

Then again, you could also have LB just believe them to be to dangerous to take on. He isn't exactly stable you know. ;)

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

If the heroes are capable of destroying VIPER primarily through their own efforts' date=' RAVEN might not *want* to reveal itself. :eek:[/quote']

 

When something major and earth-shaking occurs ina campaign, the PCs should be involved somehow.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Ah, so its not so much that "The PCs destroyed VIPER" as "A major push by sundry good guys and organizations, prominently involving the PCs, destroyed VIPER"? Gotcha.

 

Its just, I'm not sure if even a team of 1000 point PCs could single-handedly take down VIPER.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Cool, dialogue. :cool:

 

I think the coexistence of DEMON and the Scarlet Moon in the CU is due in no small measure to the differing objectives of the leadership of both organizations. The Edomite is very focussed on his final goal, to which all other concerns are secondary. As is mentioned in the DEMON sourcebook, if the Edomite turned the organization's resources to acquiring temporal power DEMON would be even mightier in that arena than it is. OTOH the Circle uses magic primarily as a means to acquire temporal power. I would guess that their interests don't clash enough for the Scarlet Moon to be a priority for the Edomite. Also keep in mind that DEMON has been cut off from the grapevine of the Mystic World for some time, since its true allegiance became known. Given that the leaders of the CotSM are experts at masking their activities, the Edomite may have no idea of who they are or where to find them.

 

(However, IMHO the real reason they coexist is to give the GM in a modern-day Hero Universe campaign both a heroic-level and superheroic mystic foe for either class of PCs.) ;)

 

Now if one were to use my suggestion for the mystically-aligned Dark Brotherhood (need to find another name for that :think: ) as a component of RAVEN, I'd expect direct conflict between them and the Scarlet Moon for world power in the magic arena. RAVEN would try to absorb the most magically-gifted of the Circle's members into the Brotherhood and co-opt their wealth and influence, while destroying those who would not join or who aren't "super" class. This conflict could be a good way to introduce RAVEN into a mystically-focussed campaign.

 

If PC heroes are capable of bringing down the likes of VIPER, it would be RAVEN's style to covertly help them along, with information and maybe a little surgicaly applied force. :sneaky: Trying afterward to find out who was backing them up would be one route to bring the PCs into direct conflict with RAVEN.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Hmm' date=' if it were me... I'd let the PCs meet all these characters as individual villains first, just so they know how dangerous they are. Then, as they're fighting VIPER (or whoever), RAVEN slowly gathers in the background. So when the PCs have finished VIPER once and for all (Supreme Serpent jailed or dead, their bases destroyed and their agents scattered)... RAVEN prepares to make its great strike from the shadows[/quote']

 

Whether or not another agency was involved as an opponent, I agree with introducing RAVEN piecemeal into the campaign. Not just the individual masterminds, but dustups with Praetorians, covert ops against PCs by RISC, DNPCs drawn into one of the RAVEN recruiting schemes, etc. Eventually when the heroes discover that all these pernicious foes are in fact part of one big nastiness, they should react... well, like most of you have been when you first read this: :eek:

 

;)

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Ah, so its not so much that "The PCs destroyed VIPER" as "A major push by sundry good guys and organizations, prominently involving the PCs, destroyed VIPER"? Gotcha.

 

Its just, I'm not sure if even a team of 1000 point PCs could single-handedly take down VIPER.

 

Yeah, basically.

 

And I agree. If any one superhero team could take down VIPER, even PCs, they'd be long gone.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

So how many points do you think the PCs should be built on before taking on Viper or, since this is their thread, RAVEN?

 

If it's a level that PCs will not attain even after years of play, that makes the organizations useless to a GM except as background material. "You can peck around the edges as long as you don't make the real bad guys too angry at you and get squished" is not particularly Super-Heroic.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Personally, I've always held that a villainous agency with long-term recurring foe potential should be scalable, so that it can be used over much of the life of a campaign. Beginning PC heroes should run afoul of some of the agency's minor schemes and draw fire from its lower ranks, but as the heroes delve deeper into the organization's affairs - and grow in experience - their opponents should have the resources to comparably raise the challenge.

 

In the case of RAVEN, which is replete with supervillains, scaling combat encounters would be mostly a matter of matching the numbers and/or power levels of the villains to the heroes. The climax of a campaign featuring RAVEN would likely involve confronting whichever mastermind they've most run afoul of. If they defeat him or her RAVEN would probably suffer a severe shakeup, particularly since much of the group's secrecy would have been compromised in the process. OTOH I think only taking out the ultimate leader, Menton, would have a chance of causing the whole structure to collapse. I don't believe anyone else could hold such a group together.

 

So, how many points would PC heroes have to be built on to face off against Menton, possibly with one or two more of his chief cohorts beside him, backed up by a half-dozen or more other supervillains and a few score agents? :eg:

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Well, I played in a brief 1000 point campaign, where we could and did take down a guy wearing Dr Destroyer's armor in a two turn or so fight.

 

I seriously doubt they could beat this team, full up, even if we assumed just the leadership and not any subordinate superhumans. As for VIPER, they could do a hell of alot of damage, but VIPER is simply too big for them to eliminate before it adapts to them, and at least becomes much less vulnerable.

 

That said, both RAVEN and VIPER have exploitable vulnerabilities. In the case of RAVEN, its Inner Circle conflicts. Putting stress on the organization, in the form of opposition and complication of its plots, should up the likelihood of catastrophic Inner Circle infighting. In particular:

 

-Anything that frustrates Holocaust is good, because a frustrated Holocaust is a Holocaust who doesn't work as well with others

 

-Invictus' entire involvement is a big risk, since if his public heroic persona gets tainted with supervillainy, say goodbye to politics. Ergo, he has to maintain much higher secrecy than the others. . .and has a greater temptation to betray the lot if it looks like RAVEN will lose, or his identity will get busted

 

-Zorran the Artificer is at least nominally in exile from Lemuria. Granted, King Arvad intends him to find the rest of the Mandragalore while he's out there, and thus monitors him periodically. However, I doubt he'd approve at all of a Lemurian who was exiled for trying to overthrow him getting together with a group of superhumans powerful enough to do just that

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Rereading the original vignette, I would actually suggest going back to favoring Stingray. On one hand, she's not as powerful as Zorran, and is also almost as crazy as Holocaust.

 

OTOH, she's not as weak as I thought I remembered her being. She can draw in a potential source of further support, in the form of any disloyal segments of Atlantean society that follow her ( come on, there's gotta be some ). And her involvement in RAVEN won't draw the hostile attention of any 1500 point megavillains. :)

 

( also, I assume your toning down Menton's "proclivites" a bit, seeing as someone who raped people and then framed an innocent for it, for kicks, probably wouldn't be overly creeped out by the Lamplighter )

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