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Making PETA a PITA


BoloOfEarth
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One of the player characters in my Boston Champions campaign is Honey Badger.  He's the team's damage sponge - Good defenses, Damage Reduction, and many exotic / unusual defenses (Power Defense, Mental Defense, Flash Defense, some Life Support).  Outside of heroing, he makes his living as an exterminator, with the quirk that he most often eats the pests infesting a client's location.  Got a rat infestation?  Honey Badger will probably show up with a fork and a bottle of ketchup.

 

He also has a Watched which has not yet come into play:  PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).  He has them as More Powerful with NCI, a situation I didn't notice until too far into the campaign to really worry about.  However, since he has gotten 10 points for that Complication, I feel fully justified in making them so.

 

Brief aside:  I'm not wanting to offend anybody here who belongs to PETA, so I'll say that the organization in my Champions campaign isn't necessarily the same as the one in the real world.  In other words, they can be as over-the-top as needed to make them a thorn in the side of Honey Badger (and by extension, his teammates).  So please, don't take offense at anyone's suggestions in this thread. 

 

Also, keep in mind that they are a Watched (not a full-fledged Hunted), so direct attacks to capture or kill Honey Badger aren't really what I'm looking for. 

 

Should they have a superpowered cadre?  And if so, I'm open to suggestions on that cadre's membership and tactics.

 

How can I use (my-world) PETA to complicate Honey Badger's life?

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A few side details:

  • Honey Badger belongs to a hero team (Just Cause) that has 6 other members:  Circe (mentalist), Maker (gadgeteer), Malarky (mage), Nexus (spirit-talker mage), Pops (teleporter), and Shadow Boxer (PI with darkness powers)
  • HB is publicly known to be dating an NPC college student / superheroine:  Pop Tart.  So I'm open to ways that PETA may try to screw with that relationship
  • HB does not have a Secret ID (though he doesn't have a Public ID either). 
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Is your PC team publicly known? Have an identifiable headquarters? Make appearances at charity events, or give scheduled interviews? In any of these cases, you can expect protest demonstrations or harassment by more radical elements of your world's PETA, or its associates. A negative public image can often be more damaging in the long run than a supervillain's lasers, making it harder for heroes to elicit cooperation from the public or authorities. It's also possible that protestors could get caught between the heroes and their villainous foes during a fight, greatly complicating matters for the PCs.

 

Your PETA may or may not have supers as members or on their payroll, but supers sympathetic to their cause might cooperate with them in attacking Honey Badger, or just take it upon themselves to "teach him a lesson." The official Champions villain, Menagerie (CV3), is one likely example.

 

It's also possible that the local PETA has been infiltrated by another criminal group, who are manipulating PETA to degrade some of their superhero opposition. Said group could even have supplied them with weapons normally beyond their means.

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If he really shows up at clients' homes with a fork and a bottle of ketchup you could have PETA go nuts and start protesting outside his exterminator business or even Just Cause, demanding that they "Fire the vile, animal abusing, cannibalistic, ......"  More activists members might "red paint" him during superheroing activities with the "blood of innocent animals" which might cause issues.    PETA could put political pressure on local governments if, for example, Honey Badger had been given psuedo police power or otherwise explicit or tacit permission to engage in assault, battery, property destruction (y'know Superhero stuff).

 

PETA sympathizers in the IRS could have Honey Badger audited;  Building Code Enforcers could be dispatched.  Honey Badger could be reported to the Human Rights Tribunal (like in Canada).

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PETA sympathizers in the legal profession could start filing lawsuits against him, forcing him to spend time and money away from superheroing and exterminating. Every minute he has to spend in court is not only money he has to pay an attorney but loss of income because he's unable to make a living.

 

If it is known what school Pop Tart is associated with PETA could due more protests, media campaigns, raids against supposed animal testing research done at the collage. Put enough pressure on the school and it might threaten to expel and/or cut financial aid to Pop Tart. How would it affect Honey Badgers and Pop Tarts relationship if she had to choose between him and school?

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It sounds like they will probably be attacking him mainly through the press and public opinion.

 

Pop Tart could be recruited by PETA. If she has sympathy for animals, perhaps they could do something with that.

 

Also, don't neglect looking for a possible synergy with another Hunter. Maybe PETA can't attack him with superpowered villains, but they could combine their Non-Combat Influence with another Hunter to really make his life miserable. Look at all of his Hunters and see how they might work together against him.

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Just Cause does have a publicly-known front location - basically a spokesman / PR hack -  but they're paranoid of innocents getting hurt in the crossfire so they rarely do charity appearances.  Protests at the front location are easily do-able, though.

 

I really like the idea of them red-painting him.  Also throw in a noxious-smelling ingredient (which could mess with his tracking scent, in addition to making people not want to be near him). 

 

Regarding lawsuits, his mother is a lawyer, so he wouldn't incur a lot of legal costs, but it would be an irritant and a time drain.

 

Pop Tart is widely (and correctly) suspected to be a Boston University student (she co-founded Snak Attak!, a group that patrols BU) but does not have a public ID, so going after her financial aid wouldn't work, but I could see them putting pressure to shut down Snak Attak! (with a message of "stop dating him and we stop the protests") to drive a wedge between the two lovebirds.

 

I also like Steve's idea of PETA trying to recruit Pop Tart, but it seems like that would conflict with putting pressure on BU, so it's either one or the other.  Hmmm...  I'll have to think on that.

 

Heh.  HB is also Hunted by Willard, though since Willard protects himself from attack by covering himself with a "coat" of live rats, he may not be on PETA's "best friend" list either.

 

And I like LL's idea of PETA working with or infiltrated by other supervillains / criminal groups.  This could actually explain why they haven't really had an in-game presence before -- previously, they were like the real-world PETA but the alliance / infiltration now makes them a more viable problem.  Something the heroes might discover if they dig into it.  I could see PETA being used by the Empress of a Billion Dimensions - she could send a group of alternate-dimension animal-type supers over to volunteer to "work with" PETA.    Yeah, I really like that idea.

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The recruitment and the pressure don't necessarily have to be working at cross purposes. There could be public pressure coming down on her super ID, but the recruitment angle could be coming at the same time from a family member or close friend who can spin PETA's grievances to her Secret ID in a really sympathetic manner (maybe using a good Persuasion skill). The recruiter would have no idea that she is Pop Tart, but their words would work with the public pressure to make her wonder if being with this guy is such a good idea after all. Since it's an NPC having things happening to them offscreen, you just have to make it seem logical to yourself then bring the effects to the table.

 

For an infiltrator, perhaps someone like King Cobra and his reptilian gang of henchmen and henchwomen are working with PETA behind the scenes for their own reasons. What better enemy for a mammal hero to have than reptilian villains?

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No public base.

 

As to his diet, it's partway a running gag -- for instance, when they fought the Mi-Go, he was talking about wanting some melted butter and grilling them up.  Pop Tart has never flat-out asked him if he eats vermin.  They established early on in their relationship that each has a public persona that they play up, so she could easily have assumed vermin-eating was all just part of his "Honey Badger" image.  So if, say, PETA were to set up a hidden camera at a "rat-infested" (more like rat-seeded) site, and then hired Honey Badger to clean it up, they might get footage that could burst her bubble big-time.

 

I'll need to plan out what I'm doing, so too much doesn't happen at once.  I don't want to pick on him, just complicate the character's life.

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I like the idea of sham articles slamming him in tabloids.  And since I do a weekly news sheet for the players, doing up a tabloid would be a fun diversion.  (I can also have an article about Nexus talking to some dead celebrity, maybe something accusing Maker of causing cell phones and tablet computers to ignite / explode wherever she goes, etc.)

 

Thank you, all for some great ideas.  I'm sure Honey Badger's player would not approve.  :winkgrin:

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I love using organizations like this as the basis for a villain group.  The best way to handle it is to have a counterbalance: some pro-hunting group that targets endangered species, or an evil bunch of chefs, something to push the other side to the ridiculous as well.  Something to show the group that you're not on a soapbox, just goofing on stuff.

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Expanding on my comment above, there could also be synergy to have them work with another character's Hunter. How could PETA work in combination with a Hunter of Circe or Shadow Boxer, for example?

 

No reason to let Honey Badger have all the fun. ;)

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If you do have an villain org infiltrate your version of PETA, some of the larger and/or more subtle ones have operatives within the news media, perfect for spreading damaging stories about interfering heroes.

 

Invictus is obvious (and has the media connections), so let's look at other possibilities...

 

For an intriguing variation, how about Franklin Stone?  He may not have the media connections, but he does have business, government, and high-society contacts which could be just as effective if used cleverly.  Heck, even have him make anonymous donations to PETA (which of course cannot be traced to him) on the understanding that they be used against Honey Badger...

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I don't think it would be safe to dismiss Franklin Stone as not having media connections. His corporation, Advanced Concepts Industries, is described as having tentacles in every field of business where there's profit to be made, including illegal ones. Stone's holdings are so diverse, and his criminal activities so carefully shielded, that it's possible Honey Badger could have interfered with an operation of his without realizing it had any connection to Stone.

 

Ditto the Circle of the Scarlet Moon, a vast occult conspiracy which always strives to operate under the radar. Subtle use of magic has allowed its members to amass vast collective wealth and influence, with almost no trail that will hold up in court. They typically counter threats first through financial, legal, or social channels; but if Honey Badger isn't used to dealing with magic they could provide an interesting change of pace.

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While I like Doc D's mockup of the Sun, I'm creating a local tabloid (the Boston Beacon:  "The News THEY Don't Want You to See") so I can also include other articles.  But I'm keeping the headline because it was too good.  Here's what I have thus far (though I plan to add more to it):

 

 

 

     Local middle school student Lois Parker is in tears after so-called superhero Honey Badger allegedly ate her pet hamster Subsonic Thursday.

      “Our landlord told us Honey Badger had been hired to clear our apartment of roaches,” said Steven Parker, the distraught pre-teen’s father.  “Instead, it looks like he gobbled down Lois’ pet like it was a calzone.”

      Making meals of pets may not be all that strange to the furry strongman.  There have been reports of missing dogs, cats, and other animals from within or around nearly all locations that Honey Badger has performed his “extermination” services over the past several years.  Individuals at the ASPCA and Boston-area animal shelters would not speak on record whether there are ongoing investigations into Honey Badger killing and eating animals.

 

I'm particularly proud of the last paragraph, which is vague but (technically) truthful while painting HB in the worst possible light.  After all, any time he clears rats from a building, "other animals" can safely be reported to be missing from that location.  And so long as you don't specify whether the dogs and cats went missing at the same time HB was there, and don't pin down how far away "or around" is, you're good to go.  Finally, "individuals" and "not speak on record" could simply mean they asked the night janitor whether he was willing to testify in court if a case was brought against HB, and he said no.

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Ditto the Circle of the Scarlet Moon, a vast occult conspiracy which always strives to operate under the radar. Subtle use of magic has allowed its members to amass vast collective wealth and influence, with almost no trail that will hold up in court. They typically counter threats first through financial, legal, or social channels; but if Honey Badger isn't used to dealing with magic they could provide an interesting change of pace.

 Archdruid Airetach: "Acolyte, we have spent several months preparing to summon and bind the Rat King. Please explain what you mean that someone ate the host population. Succinctly, if you please."

 

Dean Shomshak

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