Friday, May 23, 2014

The Sham

Where you have super beings you will have super shams. It's a fact that most super beings are very outgoing about their powers and abilities. They'll tell you they're vulnerable to wood or yellow or mayonnaise or that they can withstand the explosive force of a hundred pounds of dynamite. This is one of their tropes: convenient exposition. It makes it easy for new readers to catch on but it is unnecessary and pretty foolish. Eventually some wise guy is going to trick you into a yellow, wooden room with two hundred pounds of dynamite in a mayo factory.

Far better to let everyone think you're an ordinary guy who happens to wear a costume and fight crime.

The Sham (Risus)
Phony Vigilante (4) (Making mysterious entrances and exits, not revealing your powers, acting like that right hook hurt)
D-List Super (4) (Bulletproof, bending low grade steel over your knee, leaping that borders on flight, heightened senses)
Detective (2)
Questing Dice [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] (Keeping his powers a secret
Lucky Shots [ ] [ ] [ ]
Background: The Sham has a decent set of powers. He can pick up a car, hurdle a tall building and it takes a hand grenade to even phase him. He adopted the guise of a masked vigilante and passes his powers off as martial arts, acrobatics, and other forms of athletics. He's a vigilante who escaped death traps many times (without witnesses to see him bend bars or walk through sheets of flame.) He claims to wear a bulletproof vest but that's just for show, as is the barely functioning line launcher he's always fooling with.

Hook: No one must know his secret!

Note that many characters in other genres/settings are shams for various reasons. Psionics in Traveller face prejudice on many worlds and hide their powers. In Lord of the Rings Gandalf was a bit of a sham. He never used his full powers to avoid attracting the attention of Sauron's minions. The original X-Men hid their mutant powers when they formed a new team X-Force, making it seem they used exotic equipment. They avoided anti-mutant prejudice while they sold their services to remove mutants causing trouble (saving quite a few of their fellows for cash.)