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Lord Liaden

[Storytime] Birth of RAVEN

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Ah, I thought you meant inducting someone high in PSI onto the ruling council. Minion picks, he can't do anything about, but council members he should be able to manage a veto ( through his own vote and influence peddling with others ).

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Holey Moley!

 

This is not only a great initial concept, but well-thought out introduction. :thumbup: There are just a few changes I would make that I can think of off-hand: 1) Change the name from RAVEN to Raven (the all-caps is overdone, IMHO), 2) include PSI into the fold, either under Menton directly, spread out amongst the members who would want them, or as a special task force for the organization, and 3) include good and perhaps some misguided supers into the organization. There should be a few supers out there who are current caped heroes or maybe some on the sidelines who think that life would be easier and smoother if the physically and intellectually superior beings were in charge.

 

Along with Monsoon and Obelisque, Telios has created Teen Dream (Kristina Speers) from Teen Champions, p. 144-5. I think he created some simulacrum to a winged, fire-breathing tyrannosaurus, but I can't find that write-up.

 

As for Telios being able to create superhumans, while I agree with LL's take, I also believe no one would consier that an option. IMHO, creating a super doesn't necessarily change their DNA. And what's the point in having a superhuman breeder if his/her offspring are going to be...normal.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Thank you, Kirby. :) For my part, I see PSI as being distinct enough from RAVEN (or "Raven") ;) in style, motivation and focus that they need not be incorporated into one group. OTOH I could definitely imagine RAVEN trying to absorb PSI's operations into theirs, possibly leading to a nasty covert war between them - both groups trying to stay as low-profile as possible.

 

However, when you put concepts like these out there, it's with the expectation that people are going to change them to suit their own campaigns, which is as it should be.

 

Thanks also for the note on Teen Dream. I haven't scrounged up the swag to purchase Teen Champions yet, so I hadn't read her background. FWIW Teleios's flying firebreathing T-Rex, aka "Monstersaurus," follows his own writeup in Champions Universe, although I don't know whether it's included in T's reprint for Evil Unleashed.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Ah' date=' I thought you meant inducting someone high in PSI onto the ruling council. Minion picks, he can't do anything about, but council members he should be able to manage a veto ( through his own vote and influence peddling with others ).[/quote']

 

You're probably right about Lamplighter being influential enough to block possible replacement members of the Septumvirate if his objection is strong, but one point needs to be emphasized: no one in RAVEN gets a vote on anything. The whole organization is dedicated to the concept of authoritarianism. Rulers command because they have the right, and their followers obey because that's what followers do. Now while Menton is the Grand Imperator and supreme authority, being intelligent he will doubtless pragmatically accept and even solicit input from those immediately below him, and other trusted advisors, in their areas of expertise. That's both good policy and good politics. Once he's made a decision, though, there is no further debate. Anyone who can't accept that may choose to withdraw from RAVEN... assuming they're willing to count the entire remainder of the group as their enemy.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Thank you' date=' Kirby. :) For my part, I see PSI as being distinct enough from RAVEN (or "Raven") ;) in style, motivation and focus that they need not be incorporated into one group. OTOH I could definitely imagine RAVEN trying to absorb PSI's operations into theirs, possibly leading to a nasty covert war between them - both groups trying to stay as low-profile as possible.[/quote']I could see that also (since PSI wouldn't mind taking out Menton if the opportunity presented itself); however, PSI's current goal is to take control of the government of Millennium City and work their way up the political power ladder. I could see a possible alliance in the works here (with seeds of betrayel being fostered soon after success), due to the overall goal. Also, for whoever has plans on ruling North America, PSI could definitely be used as a test on how to (or how not to) take over a government body. If PSI succeeds, they are rewarded and start up another plan, if PSI fails, well, they're captured and terminated, if necessary.

However' date=' when you put concepts like these out there, it's with the expectation that people are going to change them to suit their own campaigns, which is as it should be.[/quote'] Woohoo! :rockon:

 

This thought just came to me: The Scions from the San Angelo campaign setting would fit in nicely here. Perhaps change their names to Medina and you have Menton's family. :)

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

"I had you in mind' date='" Menton replied.[/quote']

First, I think this should be Menton's quote! ;)

I propose that we divide the world into seven domains' date=' 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."[/quote']As for this, who did you have planned for each of the seven domains? A few I can figure out, (the Russian for Asia, Gravitar for Europe, Stingray for the ocean), but since I don't know all of them or their backgrounds that well (and a bit too tired to go research right now), I'm curious to who you would choose.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

First' date=' I think [i']this[/i] should be Menton's quote! ;)

 

Heh. I always liked Menton's line from Classic Enemies, although it's a little dated now: "Your mind will be a terrible thing to lay waste." :eg:

 

As for this' date=' who did you have planned for each of the seven domains? A few I can figure out, (the Russian for Asia, Gravitar for Europe, Stingray for the ocean), but since I don't know all of them or their backgrounds that well (and a bit too tired to go research right now), I'm curious to who you would choose.[/quote']

 

Well, IIRC Steve Long in An Eye For An Eye divided the territories into North America, South America and the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, the former Soviet Union, the Far East, and Australia and Oceania. The various leaders of these territories carried the title "Dominus" plus a numeric designation, i.e. "Dominus Primus" through "Dominus Septimus." I think I would keep these basic divisions, but shift the boundaries somewhat for greater balance, e.g. put Indonesia within the Australian dominion.

 

Given the villains I chose for the Septumvirate, I agree that Molnya is the logical choice for the Soviet territory, and Gravitar for Europe. North America is the trickiest decision, since Holocaust and Invictus both have their power base there. However, Invictus has a far more sophisticated political network in the United States, so I would cede that territory to him. Holocaust I would rationalize as having business interests on the Pacific Rim, and so would grant him the Far East.

 

I very much want Lamplighter in Africa, because he's a natural to play his familiar role of "secret advisor" to Joseph Otanga of Lugendu. Reading of Otanga's various activities and ambitions in Champions Worldwide, I kept thinking, "I could certainly see Lamplighter guiding him to do this." It would be very easy to insert Lamplighter as the secret mastermind behind Otanga's campaigns, particularly since Otanga has such potential to destabilize the whole continent.

 

Teleios I would put in charge of South America. Its vast barely-explored wilderness areas offer plenty of room for hidden laboratories, and the countless exotic species there hold great potential for experimentation. Teleios already has a laboratory in Nicaragua IIRC, which he could expand. I also see him making a "deal" with the dictator of Chiquador, to supply him with the superhumans he wants for his national army in exchange for resources and a safe base of operations for Teleios (and RAVEN).

 

That leaves the Australian/Oceanian/etc. territory. As I indicated after my initial RAVEN origin story, I now favor Zorran the Artificer over Stingray as one of the Septumvirate (although Stingray would still be welcomed into the organization, and would be set to assume the throne of Atlantis in RAVEN's name if and when RAVEN brought that about). This is arguably the least important of the seven regions, but it is within spitting distance of Lemuria which Zorran has his eye on. It also includes some locations that in the Champs Universe have great mystic significance that should interest him, the Well of Worlds in Australia and the ruins of Nan Madol on the island of Ponpei.

 

Mind you, if you did want to keep Stingray among RAVEN's rulers she also has the mystic cred to deal with those sites; and since there's so much coastline in that territory her aquatic abilities would doubtless help her operate there. As long as we're talking substitutes, I also suggested upthread that one could justify using Taipan as one of the organization's leaders. His Skill set would suit leadership of either the Australian or Oriental regions.

 

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the matter as far as current official CU villains go. FWIW my own campaign's version of RAVEN drew heavily on villains from the 4E CU, so that lineup was quite different.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

That leaves the Australian/Oceanian/etc. territory. As I indicated after my initial RAVEN origin story' date=' I now favor Zorran the Artificer over Stingray as one of the Septumvirate (although Stingray would still be welcomed into the organization, and would be set to assume the throne of Atlantis in RAVEN's name if and when RAVEN brought that about).[/quote']You could go ahead with the story as written, with Stingray one of the original Septumvirate. However, her inclusion into Raven made her overconfident enough that she left enough clues to the existance of Raven that Zorran figured it out. He confronted the others with his knowledge and how he came by it, prompting Menton to strip Stingray of her title and put Zorran in her place. The others have been mollified by the gift of the Hoplites and the fact that he does bring more to the table than Stingray. Meanwhile Stingray chaffes at her position in subservience to Telios (the deep seas also provide interesting lifeforms), Zorran and Menton have both made a concerted effort to assure her that they support her goal of taking her rightful place as Atlantis' ruler.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

To be honest, I'm actually thinking of a much cozier relationship between Zorran and Stingray. With her own background in the mystic arts, Stingray could be Zorran's chief lieutenant in the Dark Brotherhood (RAVEN's occult cabal), and his main intermediary to his minions. Her amphibiousness would greatly assist him in another project I had in mind for Zorran's territory, the construction of an undersea crystallos-domed base like the domes of the Lemurians.

 

In fact, given the many similarities in background and motivation for Zorran and Stingray, I would readily accept their alliance becoming more than professional. IMO that could easily develop outside of introducing RAVEN to a campaign.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

To be honest' date=' I'm actually thinking of a much cozier relationship between Zorran and Stingray. With her own background in the mystic arts, Stingray could be Zorran's chief lieutenant in the Dark Brotherhood (RAVEN's occult cabal), and his main intermediary to his minions. Her amphibiousness would greatly assist him in another project I had in mind for Zorran's territory, the construction of an undersea [i']crystallos[/i]-domed base like the domes of the Lemurians.

 

In fact, given the many similarities in background and motivation for Zorran and Stingray, I would readily accept their alliance becoming more than professional. IMO that could easily develop outside of introducing RAVEN to a campaign.

:eg: I forsee a reoccuring theme in my campaign...

 

…in fact, I think it deserves a thread of it’s own.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

I very much want Lamplighter in Africa' date=' because he's a natural to play his familiar role of "secret advisor" to Joseph Otanga of Lugendu. Reading of Otanga's various activities and ambitions in [i']Champions Worldwide[/i], I kept thinking, "I could certainly see Lamplighter guiding him to do this." It would be very easy to insert Lamplighter as the secret mastermind behind Otanga's campaigns, particularly since Otanga has such potential to destabilize the whole continent.

 

Ohh, yes. I love that idea, and it would serve as a great intro for Lamplighter and possibly Otanga. Myself, I'd like to use the latter as a seeming normal-but-nasty crimelord/dictator for a time, before the PCs finally go after him for real and learn just what he really is.

 

And I bet Zorran or Stingray would be very interested in that altar of Otanga's...

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

-Invictus' entire involvement is a big risk' date=' 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.[/quote']

 

I was thinking about this, and remembering the suggestion from Scott Bennie's Build Me a Villain Team thread that Invictus could adopt a "supervillain" guise for when he wants to act in the field without tarnishing his heroic image; and it occured to me that some of the other RAVEN villains with Secret IDs could reverse that tactic, adopting superhero guises in order to build their public credibility for when RAVEN reveals itself. RAVEN could hire supervillains or goons to enact crimes which the new "heroes" would conveniently thwart, under thorough coverage by RAVEN-owned media:

 

"Uh, is this mike on?" *Ahem* "Villains! Surrender at once, or face the righteous wrath of... The Eye of Ra and Femme Force!"

 

"Psst! You are laying it on a little thick, amant."

 

;)

 

I can visualize these faux-superheroes allying with PCs to take down groups like VIPER or DEMON who present obstacles to their plans, even as their villainous guises battle PRIMUS and UNTIL. As long as they can keep their true civilian identities a secret through all this, it would all be to their advantage. Of course if they happen to run into PC heroes in both their guises, the heroes can start to put two and two together... :sneaky:

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

That would work. It doesn't reduce the ultimate risk to Invictus, but it does leverage alot of what the group has to offer.

 

OTOH, there is one potential snag: while its not a huge issue, there is the chance that, given her desire for respect and accolades and suchlike, Gravitar might find that the cheers she gets in her heroic ID and more fun than the fears she inspires as a villain, and consider switching sides. ;)

 

( come on, its a plot element that has to come up any time you have villains pretending to be heroes )

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Here is a different type of component to the new RAVEN that I'm thinking of adding. I've used it in the past as part of a different conspiracy, but the nature of it makes it easy to add to just about any sizeable villainous group with money and access to advanced technology:

 

Janus Security Systems (JSS): Although a fairly recent entrant into the "super-agency" game, Janus Security Systems has already built an enviable reputation and widespread recognition, due in large part to aggressive marketing and solid financial backing. JSS offers a range of services to its clients, from diverse defenses for physical property, to protection of computer and communication systems, to fully equipped and trained guards, all employing cutting-edge technology. The company's personnel requirements are rigorous, and all potential employees are subject to exhaustive background screening. Pay and perks are generous by the standards of the industry, so willing candidates are never lacking.

 

JSS has numerous notable corporate clients, and has begun to be hired by the governments of several countries. Its membership is dedicated and professional, proud of giving their clients the best service available, and have no tolerance for illegal activities by their employees or their employers.

 

What no one in Janus Security Systems knows is that their company was founded by RAVEN (or the GM's villains of choice), which continues to supply their funding and technology. All of their RAVEN-built communications equipment and data storage systems have sophisticated, virtually indetectable taps built into them. RAVEN is thus able to access all the sensitive information which JSS has acquired about their clients in order to better protect them: important installations, key personnel, secret projects. While RAVEN is cautious of using this information for fear of damaging Janus's credibility, it can provide them with a crucial edge when dealing with a particularly tempting or troublesome person or group. RAVEN members in the know point to the subversion of JSS as an example of the inferiority of technology compared to innate superpowers.

 

A GM can introduce Janus Security Systems independent of its parent organization, as rivals, allies, even sponsors of the PCs. Ideally the heroes should develop a relationship with the agents or leaders of JSS, preferably including respect for the dedication and integrity of its personnel, before discovering its villainous backers. How to deal with those backers without ruining the good people of Janus should make for interesting roleplaying opportunities. :sneaky:

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

As I said upthread, I'm considering turning it into an article for submission to DH; but I really don't think I have the writing chops yet to create a HPA. Even if I thought I did, I expect I'd have to convince Steve Long of it before he'd let me play with Hero Games's IP.

 

Baby steps. :)

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

...but I really don't think I have the writing chops yet to create a HPA.

What does HPA stand for? :confused:

 

 

 

 

Sorry, it was either that or just type in "/bump" and now I get to test the 'spoiler' tag as well. :)

 

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Assuming that question wasn't just a bump pretext ;) , it stands for "Hero Plus Adventure," Hero Games's electronic format short adventures such as their pulp series, or mini-sourcebooks like the one for Dr. Yin Wu. The standards for those are more demanding than for most Digital Hero articles, particularly since so many of the characters I'm using in RAVEN have already been published. That's a deliberate choice BTW; I wanted this group to be compatible with what's been established for the Champions Universe so that people can use those character writeups for it. At the same time, there's certainly room to substitute original characters from individual campaigns. If I turn this into a DH article I'll be adding writeups of several original characters to RAVEN's membership.

 

For those of you now reading this thread, I feel I should at least provide some more tidbits about how RAVEN is evolving in my mind. :)

 

Those members of RAVEN below the rulers in the Seventh Mystery have been deliberately misinformed about the history of their organization. The official party line is that RAVEN is much older and more established than it is, having its roots in several related European aristocratic families which have long produced superhuman scions. These families wielded great power in world affairs, but were often rivals and worked at cross-purposes. However, after WW II, facing the increasing erosion of their traditional status in the face of shifting political realities, the families joined together under the first Grand Imperator to form a united force. RAVEN propaganda gives the organization credit for several notable developments since the second half of the Twentieth Century, including the fall of Communism in Europe and the ongoing turbulence in the Middle East. The story is intended to enhance the group's prestige in the eyes of its members, and make them feel that they are among the "secret masters of the world."

 

(This concept borrows from both previous incarnations of RAVEN, as well as the Families from Aaron Alston's Strike Force world. In the 4E campaign in which I used this interpretation of RAVEN, it was the group's actual history.)

 

In the case of the Legion, RAVEN's non-super soldiers manufactured by Teleios, this history is part of the false memories that Teleios has programmed them with. The Legionnaires believe that they come from families with a tradition of generations of service to the aristocrats of RAVEN, so they are fanatically loyal to the organization. Note that if you choose not to use Teleios as a member of the group, but do incorporate Menton or another mentalist with the Psychic Surgery power, RAVEN will have recruited trained soldiers and altered their memories to conform to this fabricated background. (Again, this background to the Legion borrows from the first version of RAVEN in Super Agents.)

 

Let me just add that should I go ahead with a DH article, I've decided to equip the Legion with real-world weaponry instead of supertech, as was the case with previous incarnations of the group, even though this one is part of the four-color Champions Universe. It just wouldn't be in keeping with RAVEN's philosophy to give their human minions technology that appears to let them rival the innate powers of superhumans. Besides, RAVEN does not wish to draw attention to its existence, and this way when the Legion is called into action it's more likely to be taken for a common organized crime or paramilitary force, albeit well trained and armed. A GM could use this to his advantage, though, once the PCs start to become a credible threat to RAVEN's operations. Imagine the heroes' dismay when they track down what they believe to be a small group of gun-toting radicals, only to find them backed up by a powerful team of supervillains. :eg:

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Sweet! I like the additions you've...added. :o And honestly, I didn't know what HPA stood for (IHA: yes; HPA: no) so that was legitimate, even though I wanted to bump the thread.

 

On a side, are you content/determined with it being seven instead of say eight? I might keep Stingray in it along with Zorran the Artificer. (That shouldn't be a conflict, should it?)

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

For my own use of RAVEN, I like seven members. It's an evocative number, and easily fits Steve Long's geopolitical divisions from his RAVEN writeup. And IMHO, "Septumvirate" sounds cooler than "Octumvirate." ;)

 

But neither I nor any of my burlier friends or relatives will come to your house forcing you to use seven. If you can redistribute the leaders' territories to your satisfaction, use whomever and however many you wish. Like I said upthread, I expect people to make changes to suit their campaigns. :)

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

I've noticed that some folks continue to show interest in this thread, so I wanted to reward you with an additional tidbit. Once again, this draws inspiration from older material for RAVEN and for the villains in the group, but puts a slightly different spin on it:

 

One of the logistical challenges of any large conspiracy is developing an efficient and secure communications system. VIPER, for example, deals with this issue through its closed Serpentine computer network. RAVEN has taken a two-tier approach to the problem. The "merely human" operatives in RAVEN's lower ranks send and receive sensitive messages primarily via a system called Bellus, which employs a sophisticated computer-generated cypher developed by Tesseract, transmitted through concealed taps in existing satellite systems put in place by Cybermind. Detecting the taps requires a Computer Programming roll at a penalty of at least -8, while decoding the messages would need Cryptography at a similar penalty.

 

However, for exchanges between the higher ranks, the RAVEN supers have pooled their abilities to craft a unique and exceptional communication system. Teleios extracts a single cell from Menton's brain, which Zorran then encases, like a fly in amber, within an enchanted amulet of sapphire-colored crystallos shaped like a five-pointed star about one inch across. The holder of one of these amulets can initiate a Mind Link with Menton or with any amulet possessor, from anywhere on Earth. Each of the Septumvirate have one of these amulets, as do the leaders of the Praetorian Guard and RISC. The Septumvirs have also each been given two or three additional amulets to communicate with their most trusted underlings. Menton does not employ this device, his own powers being more than sufficient to locate and converse with any desired mind.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

First, thanks for the bump. I don't think I'll use that aspect, but it is a neat concept.

For my own use of RAVEN' date=' I like seven members. It's an evocative number, and easily fits Steve Long's geopolitical divisions from his RAVEN writeup. And IMHO, "Septumvirate" sounds cooler than "Octumvirate." ;)[/quote']

Something I just thought of for those of us (just me?) who want eight. Menton could still call themselves the Septumvirate. When the heroes finally manage to locate the leaders, they say "Eight? We thought there were only seven? We planned on only seven! Why eight of you?"

 

"I'm Menton, I **** with people's minds." :hush:

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Well, if you're counting Menton, there already are eight. Menton is the "Grand Imperator," supreme ruler of RAVEN (borrowed from Steve Long's treatment of the group in An Eye For An Eye). "The Septumvirate" is just the title I came up with for the regional rulers below him; together they make up the "Initiates of the Seventh Mystery" of RAVEN.

 

BTW all the other paranormals in the group are automatically Initiates of the Sixth Mystery, and carry the title dominus or domina within the organization. Normal people can rise no higher than the Fifth Mystery.

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

I just finished reading my copy of Hidden Lands and have been thinking about the Zorran/Stingray partnership, as well as RAVEN's "commitment" to help her take control. With Zorran being in the Australia/Oceanus region and Lemuria looks to be in the Indian Ocean while Atlantis is in the Atlantic, would RAVEN truly be trying to assist her? If so, how would they, or if just Zorran, he, go about this? Riptide is the only water-themed villainess I can think of off-hand.

 

Opinions?

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Re: [storytime] Birth of RAVEN

 

Huh, didn't expect to see this thread again anytime soon. :)

 

In answer to your first question, Kirby, I don't see why RAVEN would not help Stingray gain the throne of Atlantis. It's a potential base of operations difficult for surface dwellers to keep tabs on, and Stingray is a legitimate claimant to the Atlantean throne who one would expect to be sympathetic to RAVEN's overall motivation and philosophy. Moreover, any mystics in RAVEN, particularly Zorran, would doubtless love to gain guaranteed access to the world's only known source of the magic metal oricalchum.

 

As for how they would do it, Mind Control is the obvious route. Just among the leadership, Menton, Lamplighter and Zorran are all powerful Mind Controllers. The first two can exert their control from great distances, but even Zorran has spells to allow him to operate underwater, and invisibly. These villains could easily stir up the Atlanteans against Queen Mara, and/or cause the Queen and Prince Marus to behave erratically, alienating them from the populace.

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