Thursday, October 20, 2005

Superb Beings

UPDATED WITH BONUS PHOTO!
Earl J. Woods in one of his early secret identities: The Oscillator!

Back when I was in high school, I played Villains and Vigilantes with my friends Brent Cantelon, Dave Ticheler, Mike Parlow, and our Gamemaster, Stephen Fitzpatrick - who, incidentally, created the portrait above. Villains and Vigilantes was a tabletop roleplaying game with an unusual conceit: instead of creating characters from whole cloth, you played yourselves, only with super powers. You were supposed to estimate, as fairly as possible, your own strength, intelligence, charisma and so on, using that as the basis for your in-game avatar. Then you chose super-powers and augmented those natural characteristics with whichever abilities you thought would be most interesting.

Being young and naive, I chose the vaguely obscene Vibratory power set. Yes, as the Oscillator, I could vibrate any part of my body at super-speed. Sadly, it never crossed my mind to use this ability on scantily-clad supervillainesses, geek that I was.

In any event, fought crime by vibrating fast enough to phase through solid objects, by shooting out "vibratory waves" from my hands to stun my foes (ha ha), and I had the additional advantages of heightened strength, invulnerability, and super-speed.

One day, perhaps Steve will be good enough to tell the story of when we faced off against a nuclear bomb - he's an excellent talespinner, and it's the kind of story that needs a more objective perspective.

I will mention, though, that the Oscillator later appeared in a campaign with another group of high school friends: Paul Ravensdale, Jeff Pitts, Ray Brown, and Vern Ryan. I don't remember who the gamemaster was - I seem to think it was Jeff - but I do recall that, sick of our antics, he came up with a great way to teach us a lesson in humilty: he sent Godzilla after us, and gave him appropriately godlike stats. Invulnerable, strong enough to knock down buildings, radioactive breath - there was no way we were coming out of this encounter alive. And indeed, Godzilla did manage to knock Vern's character, Good Guy, out of the sky to his doom - he landed on a fire hydrant, as I recall.

Appalled, I told the GM my plan.

"I grab a pickup truck by the roof."

"Okay."

"I fly towards Godzilla at super-speed."

"Okay." Clearly, Jeff was thinking that I was going to use my favourite attack, a "cannonball," which consisted of hurling my nigh-invulnerable body at a villain at high speed. Usually, this was sufficient to give any foe pause, but against Godzilla, it would be a futile strategy, even with the added mass of the pickup truck I was carrying.

But that wasn't my plan.

"Okay, I phase." (Turned myself, and the truck I was carrying, immaterial.)

"Uh...okay. You fly INTO Godzilla."

"All right...as I fly through the heart, I let go of the truck."

"WHAT! WAIT!"

Naturally, letting go of the truck removed it from the sphere of influence of my phasing power - in other words, it stopped vibrating and became solid. Right inside Godzilla's heart. And, since two objects can't occupy the same space at the same time, Godzilla wound up with the world's biggest heart attack.

Worked like a charm, and I don't think Jeff's forgiven me for it, even twenty years later.

Vern Ryan, Jeff Pitts, Paul Ravensdale: Unamused

5 comments:

Sean Woods said...
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Sean Woods said...
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Sean Woods said...

I always picture "Good Guy" bent over backwards on top of the hydrant, his fingertips and heels touching concrete.

I didn't even play in this campaign, yet I remember it all so clearly.

< gasp > Does this make me a bigger nerd than you?

= (

Magic Word: "fapfnh" I imagine this is the noise made by a truck when depositied in a giant reptile's heart.

Edit: Nice drawing, Steve.

Edit 2: This is actually the third time I posted this comment. Horrid spelling mistakes forced me to post again!

Stephen Fitzpatrick said...

Ah, the memories. I recall the bomb incident going something like this: The players are trying to stop the summoning of some extra-dimensional entity or other, whose minions have constructed an adamantium platform built around a destructive device (at least as powerful as an h-bomb) which will sunder the dimensional veil to facilitate his Infernal Majesty's entry to this plane, etc. In the fight leading up to this, one of the team has been knocked unconscious, and everyone is looking a bit worse for wear just getting to the damned thing.

Me (GM): "Looking at the device, two things are immediately obvious to you: it has armed itself, and you have absolutely no hope of disarming it."
Dave (Exocet): "I grab Evermore (Mike's character) and drag him under the platform. That might dampen the blast enough for us to survive."
Mike (John Paul Evermore): "Thanks man."
Me: "Brent? What does The Freak do?"
Brent (The Freak): (snorts)"Not much I can do. I haul ass over to Exocet and Evermore and throw myself over them. Anything that gets through the adamantium, my body should stop."
All: (hushed silence)
Brent: "Who knows, I might even live."
Me: "Uh, wow. Okay Earl, that just leaves you. There are ten seconds left on the timer, what is The Oscillator going to do about the explosion?"
Earl (The Oscillator): "I outrun it."
(Pandemonium ensues, peppered with cries of "Holy crap...", "No shit?!" and "You can do that?"
Earl: "If I take off *right* now, I'll be in the troposphere when it goes off, then fly back and evacuate you guys."
Mike: "Go Earl! Go!"
Me: "Be quiet and act unconscious."

Of course he did outrun it. Well, most of it anyways. And good manged to survive long enough to triumph over evil at long last. But Earl's simple pronouncement of "I outrun it," will live eternally in my gaming memories along with "I uncloak now."

Earl J. Woods said...

Awesome recollection, Stephen - thanks for sharing it! I seem to recall being down to one hit point and six power points after the blast...caught the edge of it, if I remember correctly. Came pretty close to passing out, which isn't good when you're several thousand metres above the planet's surface!