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Monday, February 23

Heroes Unlimited: Mystery Men

Time Frame: Early 21st Century

Much of the events of Mystery Men take place in Champion City. Champion City is a lot like Las Vegas. Lots of clubs, neon signs, and normal diners in the middle of it all. Even the suburbs are affected by tacky, garish colors. Mystery Men is part comedy, part reality. The villains are ridiculous, but they carry guns. Superheroes die.

Champion City's superheroes are treated like atheletes. They're in the public eye, and they know it. Product endorsements rule. It's not strange for a superhero to be approached by several high profile companies to wear their endorsements like a race car driver.

This makes for an interesting twist on the hero concept. The closest parallel is an episode of The Tick wherein seven superheroes face off against the Chainsaw Vigilante, and an equally disturbed Oddman realizes his power of just being odd is no match against a maniac with a chainsaw. You can play this sort of campaign as a one-shot, or as a stress reliever. It's not generally recommended to drop "normal" superheroes into this kind of setting, because they'll need to come up for air. However, there is great possibility for this sort of campaign to start out comical as the characters are predictably weak, and then become more serious as more powerful and dangerous villains face off against them. Mystery Men is about new heroes, not just the unknown ones, and as a result it can make for a fun setting for a new campaign. Note that in all cases, no character has more than one power at most, which requires some tweaking of the Heroes Unlimited system.1

You can use the Mystery Men (who still have not agreed on a name for their group) as foils, as opponents, or for a prolonged campaign as the main characters. In fact, the Mystery Men's powers could be a lot of fun to expand upon: Will Invisible Boy ever get over his need to not be seen? Will Mr. Furious ever manage to control his rage? Will The Spleen ever learn to fart without someone pulling his finger? This and other pressing questions could be played out in a superhero campaign. Just remember: not everybody can play the Bowler!



A Mystery Men campaign is decidedly underpowered. This is because these are new superheroes who don't know what they're doing, and more importantly, who aren't defined by their powers so much as themselves. To this end, they tend to refer to each other by first name, argue in public, and otherwise act much less like a superhero team that's got a reputation to think about. This is because, despite their freakiness, they're normal people. Note that the majority of their statistics are well within the average range. See the movie for better descriptions and insights into their powers.

Blue Raja (Stage Magician)

DESCRIPTION: Jeffrey (The Blue Raja) lives at home with his mother, where he spends his time locked in his room, burning incense and throwing forks and spoons at pretend attackers. The Blue Raja speaks with a British accent, and while very knowledgable about the history of Britain, is not British at all. He's fond of making terrible puns involving the words "fork" and "spoon." He (indeed, all of the Mystery Men) does not believe in guns, and refuses to use knives, because then "someone might get hurt."
STATS: IQ 9, ME 9, MA 12, PS 9, PP 15, PE 9 PB 11, SPD 9, HP 12, SDC 30, #A: 5, LEVEL: 1
NORMAL SKILLS: pilot automobile, card sharp, concealment, palming, imitate voices
SPECIAL SKILLS: sleight of hand, juggling: 5 throwing attacks per melee at +1 to strike up to 30 feet inflicting 1 point of damage.

The Bowler (Enchanted Weapon)

DESCRIPTION: The Bowler is daughter of the late Carmine the Bowler, whose skill with a bowling ball leaves criminals shaking in her path. She regularly speaks to the skull of her father, which only she can hear, and who just happens to be encased in her crystal bowling ball. As a result, The Bowler should probably be thought of more as a duo, as her father apparently has a lot to say about everything. The Bowler's original deal with her father was vengeance which, once achieved, would then allow her to go back to graduate school. She isn't fully aware of Carmine's power (she figured he'd be destroyed in an explosion, which he wasn't). It seems they're stuck with each other.
STATS: IQ 9, ME 9, MA 9, PS 9, PP 9, PE 9 PB 9, SPD 9, HP 12, SDC 42, #A: 2, LEVEL: 1
NORMAL SKILLS: w.p. targeting
WEAPON OF GOOD (Carmine): Carmine isn't the usual enchanted weapon. He has a mind of his own and once thrown, directs his own path. As a result, Carmine may pick targets The Bowler didn't have in mind. He does have the following abilities however:
  • Indestructible: The Bowler didn't know this, but she does now.
  • +1 to strike/parry
  • Base Damage: 3D6
  • Affects all being, including invulnerable superbeings.
  • +3 to save vs. magic
  • Returns to wielder when thrown: 100 foot range, this counts as two attacks (one to hit, one to return).

The Shoveler (Physical Training)

DESCRIPTION: Clad in his son’s baseball vest and roller-blading kneepads, Eddie (The Shoveler) is an expert at wielding a shovel. He desperately longs for support from his family, but instead is teased by his children and scolded by his wife. The Shoveler is the most even-minded and straightforward of the team, and a good friend to Mr. Furious. He has only recently begun using a smaller garden shovel as a parrying weapon in addition to his normal shovel.
STATS: IQ 9, ME 9, MA 9, PS 9, PP 11, PE 9 PB 9, SPD 28, HP 18, SDC 20, #A: 6, LEVEL: 1
NORMAL SKILLS: w.p. shovel
SPECIAL SKILLS: Defensive and Fast Combat: paired weapons, disarm, back flip, body flip/throw -- all these abilities are performed with his shovel, which inflicts 1D6 points of damage.

Invisible Boy (Mutant)

DESCRIPTION: Invisible Boy, after years of being overlooked, has developed the power to turn invisible—only when no one else is looking.
STATS: IQ 9, ME 9, MA 12, PS 9, PP 9, PE 9 PB 9, SPD 9, HP 12, SDC 29, #A: 2, LEVEL: 1
SPECIAL POWERS: Intangibility: Although Invisible Boy thinks of this as invisibility, it really isn't -- his clothes fall of when he becomes intangible, which is definite proof of his intangibility. This means he's inevitably naked when he finishes using his power. INSANITY: Invisible Boy's power suffers from an insanity, Power by Association. If anyone is looking at him, his power doesn't work. This doesn't include security cameras or electrical devices, but people looking at him -- and he must believe they aren't looking at him (regardless of whether or not they actually are).

The Spleen (Mutant)

DESCRIPTION: The Spleen is the victim of an old Gypsy woman’s curse, who is now the purveyor of noxious fumes. As the story goes, he blamed the woman for his own odiferous flatulation, and in retaliation she cursed him to have the most foul-smelling gaseous expulsions. That means his farts are so vile as to knock people out. No, really.
STATS: IQ 9, ME 9, MA 9, PS 9, PP 9, PE 9 PB 6, SPD 9, HP 12, SDC 20, #A: 2, LEVEL: 1
SPECIAL POWERS: Choke/Gag Opponent: Farting twice per round, The Spleen can do some serious damage. Anyone who suffers his wrath has the following penalties: -2 attacks per round, -10% to skills, -10% to SPD. If the victim's number of attacks reach zero, he must make a save vs. poison or be knocked unconscious. This lasts for one round. Using this power has a Horror Factor of 10.
INSANITY: Like Invisible Boy, the Spleen suffers from a peculiar insanity, Power by Association. In The Spleen's case, to trigger its effect, he asks someone to "pull my finger!" One finger per attack must be pulled. Whether or not the Spleen can pull his own fingers and trigger his attack is unknown.

Mr. Furious (Mutant)

DESCRIPTION: Roy (Mr. Furious) has a dead-end job at a junkyard. He has the boss from hell, whose hollering and constant put-down’s serve as a daily test for him to keep his powers in check—his violent temper, which he projects upon anyone who dares to cross his path. Mr. Furious wasn't even sure if he had a super power, as his one demonstration of it in the past (he threw a bus) has since proven untrue. Mr. Furious is very image conscious, and tries to act angry in everything he does to keep his image up.
STATS: IQ 9, ME 6, MA 9, PS 9, PP 9, PE 9 PB 9, SPD 9, HP 12, SDC 20, #A: 2, LEVEL: 1
SPECIAL POWERS: Extraordinary Physical Strength: Mr. Furious' strength is affected by his emotions. So far, his powers have been enhanced once and gone wild once (against Cassanova Frankenstein). If he goes wild, he can't pull punches (he doesn't anyway). Being that his power actually activates, his PS increases to 26, and he can carry 2,600 lbs and lift 5,200 lbs. Maybe he DID throw that bus after all.

The Sphinx (Latent Psionic)

DESCRIPTION: The Sphinx is a mysterious crime-fighter from down South, who has the power to slice guns in half with his mind. He doesn't really speak in English, but instead spews a steady stream of platitudes and wise sayings. He is the most experienced of the team and isn't afraid to use weapons when it comes to fighting crime. He prefers to stand back and direct the action. STATS: IQ 9, ME 11, MA 11, PS 9, PP 9, PE 9 PB 9, SPD 9, HP 12, SDC 30, ISP: 62, #A: 2, LEVEL: 2
PSYCHIC POWERS: Telekinetic Push: The Sphinx uses this power to slice up metal. It inflicts 4D6 SDC to objects.

Doc Heller (Hardware Weapons Expert)

DESCRIPTION: Doc Heller is a weapons specialist, who doesn't make weapons that hurt people. He specializes in weapons that disable people instead. Doc Holler lives in a run-down amusement park in Champion City, where he lives in peace with his chickens.
STATS: IQ 15, ME 9, MA 12, PS 9, PP 9, PE 9 PB 9, SPD 9, HP 12, SDC 20, #A: 2, LEVEL: 1
SPECIAL WEAPONS: Whirlwind In A Can: This whirlwind snatches anyone and anything within 20 feet and weighing less than 700 lbs. It will toss that person 20 feet and inflict 4D6 points of damage. It lasts for one round.
Blame Gun: As per the Empathic Transmission power, a shot from this gun causes targets to blame each other. It has a range of 60 feet. Victims are 60% likely to attack, kill, harm, or betray those they dislike, gain +1 to strike them, and -1 to parry and dodge.
Fabric Shrinker: With a range of 100 feet, the effects of this ray depend on the amount of clothing worn. Any being wearing underwear will be painfully squeezed and drop to the ground in agony for 2D4 rounds until the fabric breaks.


  • Mystery Men: Based on the Dark Horse Comic Created by Bob Burden -- Lara Rice Bergen; Paperback


Role-Playing Games

  1. Heroes Unlimited -- Kevin Siembieda; Paperback


posted by Michael Tresca at 9:51 PM

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