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Dr. MID-Nite

Shapeshifting plot...

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Ok..here's the scenario...a villain is going to impersonate a hero and frame him for some crimes. He can imitate someone to the cellular level. My snag is I need some feasible way for the hero to exonerate himself. As he's a teleporter, saying he wasn't there at the time won't work as the counter argument is he can port to another spot instantly. I want some tension, but I do want the hero to be able to clear his name in the end. Ideas?

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3 minutes ago, Dr. MID-Nite said:

Ok..here's the scenario...a villain is going to impersonate a hero and frame him for some crimes. He can imitate someone to the cellular level. My snag is I need some feasible way for the hero to exonerate himself. As he's a teleporter, saying he wasn't there at the time won't work as the counter argument is he can port to another spot instantly. I want some tension, but I do want the hero to be able to clear his name in the end. Ideas?

 

A confession from the villain?

The materials/equipment used by the impersonator seized?

 

Or...

He doesn't clear his name, and has to start over with a new Hero ID?

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2 minutes ago, pbemguy said:

 

 

A confession from the villain?

The materials/equipment used by the impersonator seized?

 

Or...

He doesn't clear his name, and has to start over with a new Hero ID?

 

By confession I mean arrogant confession: "I totally fooled you all, so ready to believe your paragon had fallen, so quickly duped." Or the Wonder Woman rope trick would work too.

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2 minutes ago, pbemguy said:

 

By confession I mean arrogant confession: "I totally fooled you all, so ready to believe your paragon had fallen, so quickly duped." Or the Wonder Woman rope trick would work too.

 

By "Wonder Woman rope trick" it could be sodium thiopental.

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Have the players figure out next crime the shapeshifter will do. Then have the Heroes show up [maybe with  a invited reporter]. And of course you have to have to have the "shoot him" / "no shoot him" scene.

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Perhaps the original character has a bodily feature the shapeshifter doesn't know about or can't duplicate, even with his powers.  A birthmark--a tattoo--a scar--a missing or deformed toe--things like that.  Ask the hero and his duplicate to expose where the feature would be--the one who has it is the real hero.

 

Alternately, the hero could use it as a bluff.  "So--your left middle toe is missing, after all.  That's interesting--because my friend has all his toes intact!"

 

Hope that helps.

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how about for one or more of the crimes the hero can prove he was somewhere at the exact time the crime was being done. Time stamped security tape at a police station with several police officers that can testify that  the fifteen minutes the crime took place at the hero was in their sight and never left.

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Can the shape shifter teleport? If not, then he either left the scene of his crimes in some other manner -- which would be highly suspicious in itself -- or he used another means to simulate teleporting, such as holography. That other means may have left clues behind that can be traced back to the villain: a bit of overlooked but distinctive technology, a fallen-off shipping label, residual "energy signature," or the like. Finding the villain could lead to surveillance or infiltration to get exonerating evidence.

 

Turnabout in scenarios like these is classic comic-book irony. Any shape shifting PCs or NPCs your hero's friendly with? Once you've tracked the villain to his lair, the friendly shape shifter can pretend to be an associate or flunky of the villain, to get close enough to him to find the needed evidence.

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4 hours ago, Dr. MID-Nite said:

Ok..here's the scenario...a villain is going to impersonate a hero and frame him for some crimes. He can imitate someone to the cellular level. My snag is I need some feasible way for the hero to exonerate himself. As he's a teleporter, saying he wasn't there at the time won't work as the counter argument is he can port to another spot instantly. I want some tension, but I do want the hero to be able to clear his name in the end. Ideas?

 

Get their gloves.

 

Even twins with identical DNA have different fingerprints.

 

Perhaps the villain used something during his frame up -- some chemical agent or even snatched a snack from a bystander and ate it-- to which the hero is allergic / susceptible to.

 

Perhaps he completely fails to recognize one of the hero's contacts, DNPCs, or friends.  Sure; it's lousy in court, but it helps his friends to believe he's innocent.

 

At some point, the chameleon is seen in the presence of the hero-- perhaps not even close to each other-- two blocks apart, blissfully unaware of each other, but one bystander with a camera phone.....

 

The villain gets a power or signature move / catchphrase totally wrong or reacts extremely out of character-- maybe once; maybe twice.  Enough that there is doubt in the minds of that one police captain that has known the hero for years.....

 

 

 

39 minutes ago, Lord Liaden said:

Can the shape shifter teleport? If not, then he either left the scene of his crimes in some other manner -- which would be highly suspicious in itself -- or he used another means to simulate teleporting,

 

Like running around the corner and turning into a dumpster or a hobo. ;)

 

 

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My immediate thought was that the courts seem likely to exonerate the hero.  This is a ploy by friendly law-enforcement folk to flush out the villain.  When the villain doubles down (see what I did there?) and commits another crime, the real hero turns up to capture him.

 

It is classic four colour stuff, enough that friendly heroes may not be able to know whether their team-mate or the villain is victorious...

 

Doc

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Having the real hero and imposter in the same room together, ideally somewhere with a camera (security or media) wouls at least allow for the public to believe it is reasonable to suggest a duplicate. Then its just a matter of proving that the hero did not perform the crimes.

 

If it is not possible to get the imposter in the same room as the hero, then you have the classic mind-control defense strategies. Once you can prove that the shapechanger was in town the same time as the hero, it becomes a reputation discussion. This does not save the hero's reputation, but can present plausible doubt to a jury. It may also allow a guilty meta to get off of a crime they DID commit, once accepted.

 

There is also the question if the skin and blood of the shapechanger stays like the hero's after it is shed. This evidence could also exhonorate the hero, though their victims may still blame the hero.

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3 hours ago, dmjalund said:

other option get a friendly shapechanger pretend to be the enemy shapechanger pretending to be you, and have them confess on camera

But then the enemy shapechanger pretends to be the friendly shapechanger not pretending to be anyone and confesses on camera to lying in their last confession on camera. 

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1 hour ago, Gnome BODY (important!) said:

How do you prove the telepath isn't wrong?  Or lying?  Or the shapeshifter?  Or worst of all, inadmissible evidence? 

 

Some supers settings have rules in place to verify telepathic scans, and make them admissible in court. GURPS Supers' world of the International Super Teams (IST) employed a "Three Telepath Rule," where any mental scan must be conducted by three telepaths to corroborate each other's findings. For the United States in the official Champions Universe, a telepath has to be connected to a mentaphone, a device which records the impressions the telepath obtains from a subject's mind. (That's in states which allow such scans at all.)

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4 hours ago, Gnome BODY (important!) said:

How do you prove the telepath isn't wrong?  Or lying?  Or the shapeshifter?  Or worst of all, inadmissible evidence? 

 

LL had good points.  Plus, the telepath is reading the *hero's* mind...not the villain's.  It presumes, yes, that there are trusted telepaths, but such a thing would be hugely important to counter shifters or mind control.  There's no issue of coercion;  I'm assuming the hero is willing, even the one initiating the request.  It need not even be the case that it'd be inadmissible, so long as it's enough to raise enough doubt to broaden the search past the hero.

 

The teleport special effect point is trying to prove a negative...because there won't be the teleport special effect, but that says nothing.  Or are you suggesting the villain teleported by some means?  That could work, if the villain's teleport doesn't match the hero's, AND if it was recorded.  Then you might be able to use the SFX...but how long would such traces last?  Does the hero's teleport have a drawback that it's leaving such an effect...and for how long?  

 

Getting the hero and impostor in the same room...how?  No one knows who the impostor is...Shape Shift is a very nasty power in that regard.  If there's a visual record, you can use that to look for minor discrepancies in, say, clothing or mannerisms.  The villain may well want that record to blame the hero...but by the same token, is that reasonable that the visual record is there at all?  That's just stupid on the hero's part.  (Yes, a very smart villain takes out the obvious cameras and leaves the unusual that MIGHT be missed.  So this isn't perfect.)

 

If the villain does this as a one-off crime, then clearing the hero without a telepath's assistance is going to be very tricky.  The setup presumes the hero can't be alibied by someone else...so, for example, not in court testifying about something.  After the first time, then a full time tracking device is enough to show he didn't do the others.

 

 

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Shape shift and mind control are *bitches* when you're the target/vic.  Proving your innocence is potentiall HARD.  There's also 2 crimes...the crime committed at the scene, and the crime against you.

 

I've had a longstanding principle, mostly in fantasy, that proof that A used mind control on B, to get B to commit an act, elevates the crime enormously, and unless the crime was fairly minor, the punishment should A be found guilty, is something like death or power stripping (if that's supported.)  Pretty much zero tolerance.  With supers, the shape shift can be good enough that the same arguments apply...zero tolerance.

 

So if powers have been around for a while, then these issues shouldn't be new.  

 

If powers are fairly new, then you might have an Agatha Christie on your hands...you'll need to detail tiny little nothings that the villain did wrong, or that can somehow connect the villain to the crime, rather than the hero.  The problem is whether the players will realize those little nothings are the key to the solution...largely the Agatha Christie trademark.

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3 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

Some supers settings have rules in place to verify telepathic scans, and make them admissible in court. GURPS Supers' world of the International Super Teams (IST) employed a "Three Telepath Rule," where any mental scan must be conducted by three telepaths to corroborate each other's findings. For the United States in the official Champions Universe, a telepath has to be connected to a mentaphone, a device which records the impressions the telepath obtains from a subject's mind. (That's in states which allow such scans at all.)

But if "Telepath(s) read my mind and say(s) I'm being honest when I say I didn't do it" is admissible in a court of law, where the standards are way higher, why is the situation outlined in the OP a threat at all?  Surely there's some reason that the hero can't just walk over to Mentat et al Legal and Mental Services and get their name cleared in a five-minute session? 

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Any superpowered friends with some special detection powers, to discern an impostor from the real one.

 

Example: in some anime, characters can sense different energies/ki/spiritual prescense of others.  Could the shapeshifter, copy ki/spirit enrgy (or whatever it be called in the setting.

 

Note: Ki may or may not apply to your world.  But,  potentially thinking of possible extrasensory ways to note a difference in impostor and real, that might be something the villain can not mimic.

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34 minutes ago, Gnome BODY (important!) said:

But if "Telepath(s) read my mind and say(s) I'm being honest when I say I didn't do it" is admissible in a court of law, where the standards are way higher, why is the situation outlined in the OP a threat at all?  Surely there's some reason that the hero can't just walk over to Mentat et al Legal and Mental Services and get their name cleared in a five-minute session? 

 

Have you ever been stripped and cavity-searched by an officer of the law? This could be the mental equivalent. Having someone extract your personal thoughts and memories can easily be seen as the most humiliating, intrusive violation of privacy. On top of that, even innocent heroes often have something to hide -- secret identity, loved ones they want to protect, past mistakes or even crimes they're ashamed of. This is why in the CU, many American states don't allow telepathic scans to be used as evidence at all, and those that do put very strict definitions on what circumstances warrant them.

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But those are involuntary searches.  Would the hero allow the mind probe?  That's different.  Yes, I agree that a telepathic probe might obviate the entire scenario, or make it too trivial.  That said, it's a point of criminal proceedings the OP must address before he can try this.

 

Also, say it's not allowed in the court of law...even this kind of voluntary setup.  It doesn't have to be.  Have the telepathic proceedings create sufficient doubt that the investigation remains open...and the hero remains only a suspect, not THE suspect.  One thing you definitely don't want is to have the character locked away, and thus leave the player hanging.

 

If you can create doubt, that's huge.  The villain will have made mistakes;  it's very hard not to.  (And trying to solve a crime with no mistakes is extremely hard.)  So...develop the crime in detail.  Where are areas mistakes COULD have happened...things the hero *can't* have done, or numerous places where it's not his normal mode of operation.  (Picking a lock with his left hand, when he's right handed...that's blatant, but a number of smaller things where the wrong hand is being used, can add up.)  With cell-level shifters...when they shift back, does any trace hair/skin/blood revert, or remain the (shifted) same?  If you don't have a cell-level shifter this may not be something you've considered.  It's subtle enough that it's probably GM discretion.  The shifter's carriage might offer clues...little missteps, like being hunched over a bit when it's not necessary...because his regular form is 4" taller.  Or going to reach for something...and having to half-step because it's slightly too far away.  Again, the shifter's used to being taller.  The shifter does stuff on the computer at the scene...he actively switches the mouse to his left hand.  The hero's computers always have the mouse on the right side.  

 

Badger:  the problem with the special detect is, it's not at the crime scene.  You'd have to, again, get the 2 of them in the same place.  

 

 

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Sudden thought.

 

Heinlein.

Stranger in a Strange Land.

The notion of the Fair Witness.

 

In the book, they're completely impartial observers...silently watching.  With perfect recall.  Terms of disclosure were variable, but whatever the disclosure terms were, the Fair Witness would describe the events as best he or she could.  Anne was one...licensed to testify in the High Court.

 

Many of the same effects can be used with telepaths...and the telepaths would have darn good reason to pursue this kind of legitimacy.  This is separate from admissibility in a court of law;  that ties into cross-examination and self-incrimination rights.

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