October 19th, 2018

I mentioned committing diabolical crimes within the City a few weeks ago, and I have numerous fond memories of doing so. This was done via City of Villains, which was a complementary game released a few years after the original, City of Heroes MMO. The two took place in the same 'space', and when fighting crime became tiresome, you could log into CoV and literally wreak havoc at your leisure.

The first criminal I built for my misadventures within the Rogue Isles, the setting for CoV, was Smash Apostrophe. This guy was originally a chunk of the regenerating hero, Dash Apostrophe, which somehow grew into a fully formed clone of that hero. A cutting, if you will, which while physically the same, was a bit different in the head. Touched, and bent towards and overwhelming disdain for law and order.

Smash was built as a nemesis of sorts for Dash, even though the two could never actually meet - at least, until the Architect system of user-submitted adventures was added to the game. He was a rogue bit of that hero who, despite not having the blade which supercharged his regeneration, carved a small empire for himself out of the Isles. And he did this with the devastating power of twin concussion gloves.

While Dash was a scrapper, a character archetype built to be the flashy solo melee combatant, Smash was a stalker. These guys were essentially assassins, who specialized in ambushes and single-target damage. And Smash was an excellent stalker, because he hit hard even before the damage boost he received when striking from a hidden state. And when hidden beforehand... whoo.

He wasn't quite the mayhem machine you'd get when playing a brute, or capable of generating the sheer bedlam a mastermind can, but stalkers lent themselves to defeating their enemies most satisfyingly. And one could rapidly work their way through the vast, vast majority of missions with a stalker without bothering with most of the fights right before the end, so they could advance through the plot super fast.

While Smash was my first villainous character in CoV, he wasn't my favorite. But, the silver lining that came out of his origins is the notion of a nemesis for Dash that was an evil reflection of himself, literally as well as figuratively. Which, as you can probably guess, is the prime motivator of the plot in that book that I might someday manage to finish. Which might be easier if I worked on that instead of, say, this site.

The previous installment in this series.

I Would Say I Told You So, But...

October 13th, 2018

Soon they'll be selling 'anatomically correct animal part' accessories. Watch.

... that would be redundant at this point.


October 12th, 2018

One of my earliest characters who saw time in the City of Heroes, Alice Haberdasher was born into a life of heroism, though she didn't know it at first. While in school pursuing a business degree, the insomniac Alice grabbed an axe her mom insisted she hang on the wall of her cheap apartment, and used it to chase off several ne'er do wells who were loitering rather loudly outside her door.

Though she didn't know it, and neither did her family, the axe had been crafted with numerous special powers housed within. The product of an ancestor with technopsionic talent, it made her nigh-invulnerable to conventional, physical damage, and offered a few other bonuses, such as the ability to fly! Suddenly not caring about getting her degree, Alice decided to go into business for herself - as a bounty hunter!

Donning numerous green costumes over the years, some more ostentatious than others, Alice made a career for herself as the super-powerful Hacks. Sure, she's often confused with some sort of computer expert thanks to her code name, but Alice doesn't care. After all, most people seem to think of such experts as physically frail nerds, and if that helps them to underestimate her, so be it!

Of course, being a minor, super-powered celebrity is as much a blessing as it is a curse, and Alice soon found herself serving as a hero. A lot of the job skills required are the same as when hunting down fugitives from justice, after all, though admittedly the pay is a whole lot worse. But Alice takes it all in stride, because she's found that marketing herself more than makes up the financial difference!

Story aside, playing Hacks was rather fun. Sure, she was nerfed all to heck with the 'issue 5' release of the game, which cut her resistances down to mostly bashing and slashing damage, with a bit of energy resistance on the side. Even then, something about the character was satisfying. Another tanker, like my main tank, Crystalline, her damage output wasn't nearly like Dash Apostrophe's, but it was a hoot.

Though slow and unwieldly, the game's axe secondary just felt powerful when you did eventually connect with somebody. And nothing is quite so fun as chopping up bad guys with a double-bladed battle axe... for justice, naturally. Not just because you're having a bad day, and really need to disassemble a body, no sir. That totally wasn't why I took Hacks out for a spin so frequently. Not at all. Honest!

Bonus nerdery: Hacks written up for the nerd game I support on my nerd site. Complete with even more screenshot imagery!

The previous installment in this series, and the next.

(Sexually?) Harassed

October 11th, 2018

I was doing a few hours of overtime at work tonight, because we could really use the cash, and had been needing to use the restroom for hours. I try not to take care of that particular form of personal business while at work, because the restrooms are generally in a distressing state of cleanliness, and I've always had issues taking care of that at work - both of which I've expounded upon once or twice.

But matters came to a head, as it were, and the choice was no longer mine. So, waiting until my last break, I went into the upstairs restroom, only to find both stalls full of people texting, a state of affairs which has increased dramatically since the company took us back to the year 1900, and banned cellular telephones in the building. Well, only if you're an hourly employee, and not one of the salaried turds.

So I went to the closest restroom downstairs, and found much the same going on in there. Leaving that one, I journeyed to the third restroom in my circuit around the building, and found it empty. With nobody else to bother me, I went in and did my business, and was preparing to leave when I heard someone walking around in the restroom. Slowly. Leisurely. As if with an agenda which didn't involve relieving oneself.

Clamping down, I perked my ears and listened to him, and eventually he hit the urinal. And then lingered in front of it for a full two minutes before flushing. He then started shuffling away from that urinal, and looking up just in time, I saw him peering into the stall at me as I waited for him to leave so I could clean up and get back to work. For a few seconds, at that, before he slowly sauntered off.

Already creeped out by anyone being in the same restroom as I, my distress immediately went over the top when I saw this. He lingered long enough, in fact, for me to recognize exactly who he was. It was the incompetent head of maintenance would-be hall monitor. I'm not sure why he was doing what he was doing, but whether he wanted to get a look at my genitals or was looking for anything else, he crossed a line.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do about this, but I'm most definitely going to respond. And not just because I hate that steaming turd of a man, either. No, this creepshow made me feel uncomfortable in a way that shook loose a couple old memories, stuff that I thought I'd buried a long, long time ago, and I can't say I liked the feeling. No, I would go so far as to say I hated it.

So the only question here is how I retaliate.z

First, but not Foremost

October 5th, 2018

Perhaps the first super-hero character I ever made anywhere, quite possibly for the old Marvel Super Heroes Role Playing Game, was Firebomb. This guy was born with, yes, psionic abilities, but they were more physical than mental in scope. He could either move things or catch them on fire with his brain, sort of a telekinetic / pyrokinetic combo, I suppose. And I dug the character a lot.

Which is probably why he's wound up in most incarnations of most super-heroic things I've written, at least eventually. Strangely enough, I haven't directly plugged him in to my Variant Earth 13 material, though he's actually got a place there, in the form of the Universal Squad team. Yeah, I know, they really need a better name. But, sometimes, I fall flat there. Sorry!

So, naturally, it was a cinch that he wound up being the very first character that I built to roam about in the City of Heroes, back when the game was originally brought online. I mean on its very first day! Oh, sure, I didn't pre-order the thing, so I didn't get to play in its beta, or its pre-release event, but I should have if only to shut people up who thought that a badge of superiority.

Sometimes, I really hate nerds. Anyway, I found that the name I wanted for Firebomb was, in fact, taken. This was a bit of a conundrum, so I wound up calling this fellow Captain Char. The screenshots I took of him way back in the day are pretty awful, and they were taken before I knew how to edit out all the interface bits from the game. Which is why they are zoomed in and so pixely. Sorry about that.

The reason I went with an actual, different name was that one of my biggest pet peeves in this game, or any other online game, or even every single digital community I have ever belonged to, is when people just can't let a name go that someone else has already taken. I absolutely, positively despite seeing a name with random punctuation appended to it, or surrounded by Xs or Os.

You know the type. You'll be wandering around some forum or digital landscape, and you see some guy calling himself Han Solo' or xx Sephiroth xx or -Wolverine or whatever. I always make a point of 'pronouncing' the little extras in their unoriginal names when talking to them, which seems to irk them to no end. I guess unoriginal clods hate having their unoriginality waved in their cloddy faces.

The punch line, here, is that this is where the name for Dash Apostrophe came from. And, being the ultimate showboating loudmouth, everyone on the Infinity server saw his name - and his gibbering - just about everywhere. Thus, people who felt the same about those unoriginal names got a good chuckle, those who didn't were extra butthurt about it, and fun was had by, well, me.

But I digress. As per the norm. In time, I eventually abandoned Captain Char to play Crazy Hate, who had a completely broken power that wasn't nerfed until I had exploited it for all it was worth. I'm awful, I know. But the point is this guy fell by the wayside. I eventually rebuilt an actual Firebomb on a server outside Infinity, the one I created most of my folks on, once the name was freed up on the Freedom server.

Fitting, eh? I powered the revived Firebomb to level 50, and then once his name was freed up on Infinity, I moved him back over there. I guess whoever had it there had since deleted their own. So, I finally came full circle, and this guy once again became my primary blaster - that being a character who excelled in dishing out ranged damage, but was relatiely frail otherwise. The 'glass cannon', as it were.

The previous installment in this series, and the next.

I'm Lovin' It ™

October 2nd, 2018

I love developing a stress headache from getting so angry that I'm seeing red before I even leave for work.

I love almost dying twice because my onramp to I-70 west is so short and inundated with halfhearted patchwork repairs that nobody else seems to know how to drive on the thing.

I love having my boss' boss constantly roaming around my bench since my boss didn't bother to come in today, glaring at me condescendingly as if struggling to justify having to actually pay me for work - even though the company doesn't pay half of what said work is actually worth in the first place.

I love being driven up the wall by the Tea Party Princess while I work, trying not to stab anyone as she hums some godawful song right next to me as loud as she can for no discernible reason.

I love getting condescending emails from my boss while she's blowing off work, operating under the assumption that I don't know what I'm supposed to do, the giant pile of work heaped up on my bench clearly indicating otherwise.

I love repairing the results of other people's sloppiness for three hours out of my day.

I love my stress headache transforming into a full-blown migraine as a direct result of the Tea Party Princess' obnoxious humming transforming into her singing some insipid song at the top of her lungs for fifteen minutes prior to lunch, apparently because she's so bored that she has to make everyone within earshot miserable.

I love said migraine being further reinforced by the guy who refills the vending machine slamming sodas into the soda machine as loud as he physically can, even though he knows he's not even supposed to be in here until our lunch break is finished, because the room is too small to support the dwindling amount of people that work here and his giant cart full of overpriced garbage.

I love being insulted to my face by Professor Beatshiskids, right before he goes on to hold another sermon for the Tea Party Princess, hovering behind my bench as he does so.

I love a lot, and the work day isn't even over yet.

Of the Criminal Sort

September 28st, 2018

My favorite archetype while fighting and/or committing crime in the City was the mastermind. Sure, I enjoyed my sword-slinging stabber for justice, my fire-blasting burninator for freedom, and my plethora of psionic types, but nothing managed sheer mayhem like the mastermind. I could closely emulate that with the Jerk (what with all his spider-bots), but doing so took a lot of work.

Masterminds were basically a 'pet' class, a relatively soft character who surrounded themselves with minions they could summon pretty much at will. The weaker three were good for cannon fodder, the medium two were often possessed of numerous useful abilities, and the big one was a good match for your own ability. Or, if you had the Thugs set, you could occasionally summon a horde.

I had one of those, Mister Really Long Name, as well as Hate Ball, who utilized Mercenaries. But I think my favorite overall was Three Dollar Bill. This madman had Robots. These things were relatively tough, made with the pew pew pew, and could easily run rampant over everything. I never quite managed to get Three Dollar Bill to level 50, but he was fun every time I broke him out.

Already somehwat sturdy, robots could make force fields around themselves, which you could readily augment by having the force fields power set as a secondary ability. One that I am already quite familiar with, if you've been following my weekly, nerdy posts about my various avatars in the City. This made them nigh-invulnerable, especially when grouping with even more masterminds.

And that's really when the City of Villains went off the chain. A bunch of players summoning their gaggle of goons all at once could pretty much steamroll over most everything. Sure, you'd have to keep summoning them back up as the individual robots or thugs or soldiers or demons or zombies or ninjas or pirates or whatever were defeated, but these legions made it impossible for enemies to focus on you.

And since the mastermind is constantly buffing his allies, his minions, and his allies' minions, these waves of criminals quickly made a circus out of things. Not that this was a bad thing, of course. Abject bedlam was a great way to blow off steam, which I needed to do a lot when I was working at ADT, back in the day, before those scumbags laid me off. But I digress.

The previous installment in this series, and the next.