Worldbuilding Wednesday – Madripoor Royal Guard

I bought some ice cream the other day.  Normally I’m great at buying ice cream.  But this doesn’t taste great.  It tastes like ice milk.  Anyone else remember that?  In school at lunch, you’d be all excited because someone said there was ice cream that day.  But it wasn’t ice cream, it was ice milk. 

I intended for there to be at least 8 members of the Madripoor Royal Guard but I ran out of steam.  Please imagine your own superhero creations of super people as part of the group.  I’m sure you’ll spend a lot of time thinking about it. 

Speaking of, I was talking to my buddy Waxy Lou the other day and he said that he could never enjoy the Sony Venom-verse because he can’t like ancillary Spider-Man characters without Spider-Man involved at some point.  So I asked him how he would have liked Venom if they added in a legally distinct for copyright reasons facsimile of Spider-Man, Arachnid Lad or the like. 

He said that he would have liked that.  As would I.  For some reason I enjoy when they just tell the story anyway with a stand-in character.  But, I assume most people would be LIVID over something like that.  That’s not the REAL Spider-Man they would say.  And I would say to them, there is no real Spider-Man, it’s all made up bro, unless you mean Alain Robert.  But I’d I know very well what they meant, I’d just be saying that to be a jerk. 

The end of the Japanese occupation saw the reformation of the Prince of Madripoor’s Royal Guard.  In the past, this group had been made up of elite (but “normal”) troops directly reporting to the Prince serving not only as guards but also as an intelligence service and instrument of foreigner operations.  Going forward, the Royal Guard was to be a force comprised entirely of the best Non-Baselines that money can buy.  

When the old Royal Guard was informed that they were being replaced by NBH’s, many of their number volunteered for experiments intended to grant them superhuman abilities.  One of the few survivors is the current Captain of the Guard, Menak.  He is said to descend from a proud bloodline, though the names of his ancestors remain unknown.  Menak was a cadet during the period of the “old guard” and a resistance fighter during the occupation, proving himself an honorable person as well as an efficient warrior.  It is rumored that the rogue scientist Rust was paid 10 million US to turn Menak into a super soldier.  Whatever the source of his powers, Menak has been observed displaying wingless flight and projecting highly concentrated beams of energy from his eyes. The maximum temperature of these beams is unknown, but have been able to burn through the skin of several “invulnerable” NBHs.

The man known as Damar is one of those smart guys who never seemed to be able to make anything of himself.  He had every advantage in life but his taste for shortcuts always did him in.  He squandered all his advantages and good fortune, made enemies out of allies, learned the wrong lessons, and rubbed everyone the wrong way.  

All his vaunted intelligence and ego netted him a low paying construction job hauling bricks.  When he started taking on odd jobs for a gang running a gambling ring, he told himself it was so he could make ends meet, but really he was looking for something dangerous enough to kill him. By methods unknown, must have been a VERY odd job, Damar was transformed into a being of living rock.  

His first attempt at supervillainy with his rocklike body didn’t go well.  Angel (yes THE Angel) treated him to a tactic she often used (RIP Angel) against non-flying “bricks”. She threw him so high he would pass out from a lack of air and she could deal with him later.  That was the intent anyway. Instead, Damar bounced off a passing airplane and landed in the courtyard of one of the Prince’s mansions.  

Menak took him under his wing, training him not just to fight but to realize his potential. Soon enough, Damar mastered the ability to pass through rock and concrete, and also absorb energy from these materials.  Damar was blasted to pieces by the “particle beam power” of a potential assassin but the rocky pieces slowly reassembled themselves.  Given this event, it is unknown how, if at all, he can be killed.

The woman called Wulan was spoiled rotten since day one.  The only skill she mastered was manipulating adults to get whatever she wanted. Lazy and self-centered, she had no appetite for her schoolwork or any other kind of work.  At age 22, she had already been married and divorced twice over, astounded to discover that her ex-husbands’ lives didn’t revolve around serving her whims all the time.  Just most of the time?  Hell no!  She ended up back with her mother, where she did little more than watch television, order servants around, and burn through her inheritance.  

When she was upstaged at a red-carpet event by the appearance of a “superheroine” she decided that she needed powers of her own.  Shockingly, she succeeded in this goal, all it took was the entirety of her and her mother’s fortune.  After a series of high-profile crimes committed to return to her life of luxury, and several murder attempts on the woman who “showed her up”, she was given the option of joining the Prince’s guard or falling prey to her many enemies.  Her powers are wingless flight and the ability to generate and control electricity.  

Not many people would consider working for the Madripoor Prince as a hatchetwoman a moral step up from their last job, but most people don’t traffic in human lives either.  Calon Arang started as a victim of trafficking herself.  When her natural born superhuman abilities manifested, she used them to force others into bondage.  She was so good at it, eventually she killed her master and took his place – she had to kill several of his lieutenants as well before they got the message but she was fine with that.

Turning her own sister out wasn’t her wakeup call, that didn’t come until her sister was killed by a wealthy client.  Calon Arang set out on a roaring rampage of revenge which she had no expectation of surviving.  When she did survive, she didn’t know what to do with herself.  She realized that she had been broken and broken so badly that she did the same thing that was done to her to others.  When Menak approached her, offering a way to help people instead of hurt them (questionable), she never looked back.  Calon Arang has been documented to possess enhanced reflexes, killing hands, and the ability to project “stunbolts”.

Menak had originally conceived of an entire wing of elite guardsman in powered armor, but even for someone with the wealth of the Prince, there are limitations in that regard.  Turns out there’s a reason the militaries of the world are still mostly relying on tanks and planes instead of giant robots and men in powered suits – not only is that shit expensive but the cybernetic circuitry needed to control the armor stimulates regions of the brain that tend to cause total psychotic breakdowns.  Which is not ideal in a fighting force.  For the majority of pilots, even limited use of power armor has serious side effects on the user, including mental instability, nerve damage, and death.  The majority, but not all.  

If the CS military had known that “Jammer”, a Chi-Town native, was resistant to these effects, they would have pulled out all the stops to recruit him as a pilot in their RPA division – up to and including coercion.  But he was too busy being a gun-runner in and around Madripoor for them to figure it out.  Life as a black marketer taught Jammer to trust nobody but to be nice to everyone.  As a result, he’s very likable, even when he’s trying to kill you.  

Jammer pilots a powered exoskeleton of unknown origin that gives him superhuman strength, allowing him to lift 40 tons under optimal conditions for about 3 minutes. The armor’s high-carbon steel-alloy mesh and radiation shielding offers protection from most ballistic and energy weapons. The armor can fly via chemically-powered boot jets at a maximum speed of 250 mph for 3 hours and contains 30 minutes air supply for submersion or high-altitude flight.

Timun Mas grew up on the streets of Madripoor.  Life was hard, but it was simple at least – take what you can, hold what you need, if you can keep it it’s yours.  Timun Mas learned early that there’s two choices in life – get hurt or be the one doing the hurting.  The only path was to dish out more than you take.  She started with knives.  The key is to escalate conflict as quickly and wildly as possible – someone looks at you funny?  Cut their nuts off.  

She was destined for a short life and violent death until she was grabbed off the street and taken to Busan for enhancement.  Most of the other street rats that were experimented on died and died badly, but Timun Mas survived.  She never figured out if it was a jopok or Russian gangsters that took her, both seemed to be involved, but she didn’t care because she would never be unarmed again.  As long as they put her in a cage and let her cut up other people trying to cut her, it didn’t matter who they were.  

Eventually some goody-goody team of international superpeople broke up the fighting ring and chased away the gangsters that took care of her.  They said they “saved” her.  She slashed one of their faces off and made a run for home – the streets of Madripoor.  Timun Mas maintains no delusions of glory or honor to her position as a Royal Guard.  A job’s a job, and a fight is a fight, and a life is just money waiting to be earned.  

Timun Mas has highly advanced reflexes, retractable claws, and hardened skin roughly the durability of Kevlar.

Butho Ijo’s time in the army taught him a lot of things.  It taught him to shoot, but that was the least of it.  It taught him to be part of a team.  It taught him to trust others.  It taught him what it means for someone to trust him.  It taught him to lead.  It taught him patience.  It taught him the importance of being part of something bigger.  It taught him to be better.  

And none of those lessons meant anything when the Japanese Empire invaded.  The army was shattered in a matter of hours.  His country ceased to exist.  After ten years of service, he found himself sitting at a counter in Madripoor wondering how he was going to pay for his noodles.  He was nothing without a squad around him.  

The good and bad news is that Madripoor is the land of opportunity for trained killers.  Several drunken years and a mass of scars later, Menak pulled Butho Ijo out of the gutter and gave him an opportunity.  Killers are a dime a dozen (literally sometimes in Madripoor) what’s rare are leaders, people who can bring out the best in others.  Menak is the Captain of the Guard, but Butho Ijo is the leader of the Royal Guard.   Butho Ijo has advanced senses of vision, scent, and hearing as well as the ability to heal others by touch, enhanced bone density, short range telepathic communication, and minor appearance alteration.