One of the core concepts of Metahumans Rising is the idea of a retro-comic gaming. Taking the ideals of classic comics, dusting them off and giving them a fresh coat of polish. This is what inspired Starchild. Abducted at an early age Starchild spent a decade drifting in space, the test subject of intergalactic arms dealers the Ar’Dysis. Genetically altered, Starchild’s body was infused with cosmic energy giving him nearly unlimited strength.
Readers may have noticed the Power Level of previous characters. The Classic Power Level represents a wide swath of heroes, from superpowered city defenders to many of the core “X” characters. So far our Actual Play series have focused on this power level, placing characters like Arianna, Flux and Mentalos in the same general ballpark, even though each of their campaigns have different scopes and feels.
Unlike these characters Starchild is built as a High Powered character. We turned the dial up a notch Starchild as we hope to see him slugging his way through waves of starfighters and other spaceships. While he’s not going to be towing any planets into a different orbit any time soon he’s our boy scout. For a “Big Blue” the next step up in power is Cosmic, here we see the gods amongst men, supreme sorceress and slumbering horrors from beyond the stars.
Coming back to our retro theme, Starchild is an Ultrahuman, a term used for superpowered beings that exhibit heightened physical abilities, beyond the limits of a normal human. As a boy, Starchild dreamt of being a hero, and protecting others, as a nigh-invulnerable super strong hero, he specializes in taking blows for comrades. This willingness to sacrifice himself is rewarded mechanically through specializations, granting him bonuses to protect wounded allies.
The topic of niche protection often comes up when presenting characters that are capable of a number of feats. The flexibility of the Metahumans Rising character creation process allows characters to have similar strengths and still feel unique. While Starchild may be super strong, his focus is on protecting others. This leaves room for other physically driven character concepts such as the unstoppable force, or world’s strongest which might focus more of gaining power from taking blows or proving their personal valor in combat. Both of which would have very different feels from Starchild. As I’m writing this, I wonder if we might be able to develop a whole team, or league of heroes around this concept…
(The author has retreated to his lair, muttering something about the League of Extraordinarily Strong Cats, or the Real Ultimate Power Guys.)
Power Level: High
Creation Method: Standard – Balanced Array
In January of 2000, alien invaders, the Ar’Dysis, were routed across the globe. Crafting a makeshift jumpgate they escaped, taking with them a number of “test subjects.” Humans with the potential to become something more. Almost all of these victims were rescued by the Xeno Consortium, but not everyone was so fortunate. This is the story of Omar Washington, a six year old boy from Detroit, taken and unable to escape until a decade later.
Separated from his family, Omar was initially placed at an Ar’Dysis forward research station. Herded into large cells with the other kidnapees while the adults attempted to keep the children calm, turning to games and the like as a distraction from the horror of reality. Too young to fully grasp what was happening Omar took notice of how dejected the adults were and the lack of his Mother’s presence.
Taken from the holding facility, the alien troops loaded them upon a ship that appeared almost unnatural. A team of heroes attempted to rescue Omar and other the prisoners during transport. Some escaped, however, before the heroes could get into the ship, and rescue Omar along with the other kidnapees, the ship took off. More scared than he had ever been, the boy took what comfort he could from other’s escaping. Trapped far from Earth, Omar felt weak, wishing he could have brought himself to act. The memories of the Ar’Dysis attacking the heroes, how deadly their weapons were, it twisted him inside. In the end, it didn’t matter how scared he was, he couldn’t escape the idea that he had let others down.
Everything that followed was blurry, dream like. People moved through lines for different tests systematically poked, prodded and put on a cold metal things, Omar was separated, transferred to a holding cell that looked almost exactly like his own room on Earth. Except when he looked outside it was always night. On the worst nights a woman’s voice would crawl into his dreams soothing him. Nevertheless, the testing continued. Blood was drawn, injections were administered, and through it all Omar never saw other humans. The room never changed, but they kept moving him, from ship to station to ship, across the galaxy.
At the first station the Ar’Dysis scientists introduced Omar to a female alien, her appearance was like living porcelain. She told him that she was from the Zo Empire and that her name was Jennja, The scientists had asked her to help Omar adjust and to help with their research. The porcelain alien became Omar’s first real companion, teaching him languages and how to communicate with the scientists. This is how he learned he was the strongest candidate for a treatment called retro-gene alteration therapy.
Over time, Jennja helped Omar, preparing testing routines, helping the boy adjust to the researchers needs. In some ways her help felt like being trained. A large portion of the testing involved exposing Omar to different environments and situations. After being dropped on a mining barge, in a gas giant Omar began to perceive how much the therapy was changing his body. Everyone there, Zo, Ar’Dysis, and a half dozen other races had to wear masks to survive but Omar required no such breathing device.
Jennja explained that it was a combination of the atmospheric exposure and gene alteration that allowed his body to endure hostile environments. So the more varied materials he was exposed to the more versatile he would become. However, there were unexpected side effects. To keep him safe she provided Omar with a containment suit, which he was required to wear outside of his room at all times to survive.
After that the tests became harder the suit began to feel constricting, as if it was eating him alive. Everytime he left his room it felt like fighting himself to move. Around the same time, Jennja began Zero-G training with Omar, disconnecting the gravity in his room, allowing him free movement.
Gradually, Omar was given more freedom on the main ship. Although, he suspected he was monitored at all times. The testing became more complex, one common test was locating objects hidden throughout the ship and avoiding or disabling automated laser banks. Sometimes he would have to move Jennja safely through a deadly maze or work out routes in star charts.
As the test’s’ difficulty escalated Omar noticed a shift in how the Ar’Dysis reacted to him. At first the Ar’Dysis attempted ignoring his presence in the halls while others actively avoided him. Even Jennja would rarely see him outside of their classes together. Many of the tests were administered through robotic proxies. The isolation itself feeling like some kind of test.
Then came the dream. A familiar city burned as a woman screamed his name
“This was your mother.” It was Jennja’s voice. “The Ar’Dysis took you from her when you were a little boy.” Images of his journey across the stars spiralled out around his mother as she shifted to appear like Jennja. “You are not a test subject. You were selected to become a living weapon. A product for the Ar’Dysis to reproduce and sell. Only, they did not realize your full potential. The containment suit is a sealed environment. However, it was not designed to keep you safe, but to inhibit your powers.” The vision shifted to a control room. “The scientists are preparing to flood your room with lethal levels of ionized radiation. If you are to survive, you must escape.” Omar could see Ar’Dysis soliders moving towards his room. “Outside the suit you can fly. You don’t even need it to survive in space. You are ready. Escape this vessel, return home. With this map, you have everything you need. You must trust in your abilities and use them to escape.” The images faded and a star map appeared.
Waking, Omar gasped for air only to realize this was purely reflexive. It was as if a vice had been removed from his brain. His lungs contained enough oxygen to perform at peak levels for well over a day without needing to take a single breath. Willing himself up Omar hovered above the ground. A new found strength coursing through his body. With a thought he shot forward rending metal and breaching the hull. The sudden pull of the vacuum almost comforted him.
Drifting further from the ship Omar floated, orienting himself for the journey home. It was then he realized it was only a matter of time before his captors realized Jennja’s involvement. Diving back into the ship, Omar tore through room after room searching for his only confidant and companion. He found her, cowering as she struggled to put on a vacuum suit. Helping the frightened alien to her feet, he checked the seals and the pair escaped together.
It didn’t matter what had happened or what would happened when he returned. For the first time that he could remember Omar had hope. Hope for finding his mother, hope that Jennja would like Earth, And mostly, hope that one day soon he would be the one to save a small child before they could meet the same fate.
Issue 0 – Earthbound
It had been six days after returning to Earth and everything felt strange. Government officials had swarmed around Omar and Jennja almost the entire time. The strangest event was meeting with the hero Jack Lightning.
Taken into a private room, the hero stood with his head low.
“You may not know who I am, but I was part of the team who attempted to rescue you and the others.” Looking up, his eyes were ringed in red. “It wasn’t anyone’s place but yours to share your story but as one of the surviving members of the Consortium I am apprised of all events relating to the Ar’Dysis invasion. I just want you to know, I’m sorry I failed you.” Jack stood silently waiting. From what Omar remembered of the hero this was a feat.
“Sir, I’ve never blamed you for what happened. They left me to watch as they fought back. Actually, sir, I want you to know something as well. That day, I stood idly by…”
“You were a child.”
“That’s no excuse. I could have done something, but I was scared.”
“It’s only natur…”
“Please, let me finish. You inspired me. Through everything that happened, I remembered how hard you and others fought for us. The Ar’Dysis twisted me in knots with their experiments. At the same time, they imbued me with a power even they couldn’t control. I plan on using that power to help others, just like you. You tried to save me, and that’s all anyone can ask.”
“Kid, I’ve seen all the reports on what you can do. If you’re serious, you’re going to make one hell of a star.”
At a height of six two, Omar is tall for a 16 year old. He wears baggy clothes to hide his muscular frame. As Starchild he wears a modified version of his original containment suit, trading the helmet for a cape. When he pushes the limits of his powers his body glows with an aura reminiscent of a sunset exhibiting gold, red and purple hues.
Origin & Catalyst
Retro-Gene Alteration Therapy (Experiment)
Abducted From Earth
Never Allow Inaction to Cause Harm
Make a new home, for Jennja
No one left behind
History 16 (1 AP)
Strength 20 (4 AP)
Retro-Gene Alteration Therapy (Experiment) 16 (1 AP)
Abducted From Earth 10
Never Allow Inaction to Cause Harm 8
Make a new home, for Jennja 4 (2 AP)
No One Left Behind 1
Background (Raised by aliens) 5
Contact: Jennja 4 (2 AP)
Contact: Jack Lighting 1 (1 AP)
(S) Protect Wounded Allies 8
(S) Protect Wounded Allies 8
Provoke: Unwavering Confidence 6 (1 AP)
Study: Astrogation 3
(S) Spacecraft 3
(Starchild did not escape. He released for advansed testing.)
– Take the Hit: Defend Other – Attack
– Intercept: Move – Defend Other – Attack
Extra Stamina MA
No Need For: Breathing TY
Sealed Body TY
Brawn Supports Offense with Total Devastation MA
Discipline Supports Defense when Defending Others MA
Cost 10 AP
Celestial Reconstruction 15
– Support: Strength/Constitution
Added Support (Dexterity, Constitution, Sense) MA3
New Communication: Telepathic Speech TY
New Movement: Flight (Boost Speed, Rapid Acceleration, Faster Than Light) MA3
Secondary Role: Defense (Full Role) MA2
Armor (Boost Armor, Impervious) MA3
Defends Against: Might & Quickness TY
Passive Defense MA
Secondary Role: Offense (Full Role) MA2
Devastating (Boost Devastation, Total Devastation) MA3
Cost: 1 Power + 20 Boons + 20 AP
Starchild’s gene alteration therapy has transformed his body. Drawing strength from cosmic energy he is nearly indestructable and possesses near limitless strength. Capable of lifting a jet with virtually no effort even Starchild does not know his upper limits. His cosmic link also allows him to telepathically connect with anyone, overcoming language barriers. While he may speak English, they hear their native language and vice versa.
Willpower Current: 13 Max: 16
Starting AP 40
Attributes 5 + Talents 7 + Boons 10 + Powers 20 – Drawbacks 2
Initiative: 34 (Dexterity 8 + Intuition 5 + Perception 5 + Retro-Gene Alteration Therapy 16) Dice 4
Surprised Defense: 23 (Fortune 8 + Celestial Reconstruction 15) Dice 3 Armor 9
Normal Defense: 30 (Constitution 15 + Celestial Reconstruction 15) Dice 3 Armor 9
Mental Defense: 10 (Mental 10) Dice 2 Armor 2 (Science)
Impervious: Starchild takes no Damage from normal Attacks until the Start of his Next Turn. The Damage from Rolling 6s, the Penetrating Boon or Drain Attacks ignore Impervious. This Boon may be activated for Free whenever they would take Damage. Usable Once per Session.
Fitness: Reduce the the number of Actions Staggered by 2.
Intuition: Once per Session use Intuition (5) with Surprised Defense.
Outlast: Outlast may be used as a Supporting Talent for Death Checks
Perception: Once per Session use Perception (5) as a Supporting Characteristic for Normal Defense.
Tracking: Once per Session use their Normal Defense instead of Surprised Defense in any Combat where the Character has already seen their Opponent.
Favored Attack: Cosmic Powered Brawler 35 (Strength 20 + Celestial Reconstruction 15) Dice 3 Range Close Damage 11 Notes
Secondary Attack: Take The Hit 30 (38) (Constitution 15 + Celestial Reconstruction 15 + Discipline 10 – Combo 10 (+ Protect Wounded Allies 8)) Dice 5 Range Close Damage 15 Notes Starchild takes an Active Defense to block an attack for an Ally and delivers a counterstrike. If the Ally is at less than half their Stamina use the second Values. Intercept: Reduce the Defense Value by 10 and Move up to Medium Range.
Additional Attack: Unfettered Blast 40 (Strength 20 + Celestial Reconstruction 15 + Brawling 15 – Heavy Blow 10) Dice 4 Range Close Damage 23 Notes Uses Total Devastation Free Once Per Session or 1 Willpower. When the blow lands there is a minor explosion from Starchild’s aura.
Willpower Attack: World Crusher 10 (Strength 20 + Celestial Reconstruction 15 + Brawling 15 + Discipline 10 – Heavy Blow 40) Dice 4 (Double the Results) Range Close Damage 34/23 Notes Unleashing a full force attack, there is virtually nothing that can withstand a full force blow. Cost: 3 Willpower: Added Support: Discipline + Total Devastation + Explosive Roll. + 1 Add Defended By Quickness and use Damage After the slash (/).
Discipline: Add Discipline (10) to any Strength Roll or Physical Attack Roll after they have suffered (10) Wounds. This lasts for 1 Turn and may be used Once per Session.
Provoke: Once per Session take 1 Action to describe Provoking others causing foes within Close Range to suffer a – 6 penalty when taking actions against people other than Starchild. When acting against Starchild, foes use his Provoke (6) as a Free Supporting Characteristic. This effect lasts until the start of the Character’s next Turn.
Vehicle: Add 2 Wounds when using vehicle mounted weapons.