5726 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Neil Shaw (Wesley Snipes in The Art of War) in a suit and bow tie

Neil Shaw

Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game
  • This character was a more heroically capable version of Snipes’ usual action characters. Notes for representing his more realistic characters are also included.


  • Real Name: Neil Shaw
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: None
  • Group Affiliation: None, formerly United Nations
  • Base Of Operations: France, formerly mobile
  • Height: 6’ Weight: 180 lbs
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Black

Powers and Abilities

Neil Shaw is the lead field agent for a covert UN team specializing in espionage and has the skills to match, along with excellent combat training.

Shaw’s single most notable ability is his incredible perception — his detective abilities allow him to detect danger with the slightest signs, and to make deductions from very minor clues (except, in true action movie tradition, he missed the blatantly obvious plot twist).


Shaw’s history prior to joining the United Nations covert security team is unknown, and all records of that life have been eliminated. It can be presumed that he had been in part selected because he had no close friends or family.

Shaw was at some point several years ago recruited to lead the covert operations team of the United Nations’ security department. His team’s mandate extended far beyond security, however, becoming actively involved in intelligence gathering for blackmail purposes and thus assuring success in any number of UN negotiations. Shaw has been injured several times in the line of duty.

Recently Shaw was framed for the assassination of a Chinese ambassador during delicate negotiations. Shaw’s investigation into the murder lead him to his own teammate, Bly and his boss Eleanor Hooks, Head of UN Security. After taking down Bly and Hooks, he faked his own death (with FBI Agent Cappella’s help) and retired.


Shaw is a handsome, athletic African American with short hair and either a light smile or an intense stare. He wears whatever clothing is appropriate to his current identity, and adopts the speech and mannerisms to match.


Shaw is an achetypal strong silent type, and is marked both by his ability to remain calm in any situation and his dry wit. He is innovative and fearless (almost to the point of recklessness), and uses these traits to find unexpected ways to resolve situations.

He is used to facing tense situations with minimal support and can face incredibly dangerous and difficult situations on his own without any visible stress.


“Perhaps I will quit and go work at McDonalds. At least they have a health plan.”

DC Universe History

Shaw could be incorporated into the DCU without any alteration. He could be encountered as a covert operative during his time at the UN, or as a Connection for a PC or important NPC after his retirement.

To incorporate Shaw more fully into the history of the DCU, he was one of the sons of Sassy, a fortune teller/street informer who knew Mark Shaw (a.k.a. Manhunter) when Mark was a child. Neil was inspired by Mark to get involved in law enforcement and eventually became the head field agent of the UN’s secret security branch. He had little in the way of official records to begin with, so making him disappear was easy ; he took the name of Neil Shaw as an homage to his inspiration.

When his superior was revealed to be a Manhunter agent (whose secret agenda he was unwittingly furthering), he took her out and went into deep cover. He is currently using his knowledge and hidden resources to pursue other conspirators, Manhunter or otherwise. In this case, give Shaw a High Connection to Mark Shaw and Scholar (Manhunters).

Neil might have also worked or even trained with Thomas Tresser (a.k.a. Nemesis), since they share a common modus operandi. Given the events of the vertigo Unknown Soldier mini-series, Shaw might also be considered as a potential replacement by the Soldier. He has no friends or family to speak of, he has extensive experience with covert operations and international politics, and he seems to be comfortable doing dirty work when necessary without going to excess.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Neil Shaw

Dex: 06 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Seeking Justice
Int: 07 Wil: 08 Min: 07 Occupation: Former UN Covert Operative
Inf: 05 Aur: 05 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 05
Init: 022 HP: 030

Acrobatics: 08, Artist (Actor)*: 05, Detective: 09, Martial Artist: 07, Military Science: (Danger Recognition): 09, Thief*: 06, Thief (Stealth): 07, Vehicles (Land): 04, Weaponry (Firearms, Melee)*: 06

Area Knowledge (New York), Intensive Training, Iron Nerves, Lightning Reflexes, Scholar (International Politics), Sharp Eye

FBI Special Agent Cappella (Low)

Dark Secret (Covert Ops work)


  • RADIO EARPLUGS [BODY 01, Radio Communication: 07. These earplugs also have induction microphones, allowing the wearer to communicate with others wearing similar earplugs without any visible apparatus (barring an intensive search)]
  • Scope [BODY 01, Telescopic Vision: 05. The scope was just a palm-sized telescope with rangefinder]
  • Silenced Pistol [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 04, Thief (Stealth): 05, Ammo: 13, Limitation: Thief only indicates difficulty to detect noise of gunshot]

The early Shaw

Prior to the events of the movie, Shaw had both a High Connection to Eleanor Hooks, UN Chief of Security, and Credentials for entering United Nations Events (always under an alias). While employed by the UN he had Resources: 08 and 3x 6 AP C Omni-Gadgets, representing various spy gadgets à la James Bond (examples from the movie include a hidden parachute and spectacles with a built-in camera).

If you want to include his Confidant (and eventual enemy) Bly, you can use the Corporal Hicks stats (both were played by Michael Biehn) in the Database (movies section) ; just add one AP to DEX, make Acrobatics a full Linked skill and equip Bly with the same items Shaw has.

Shaw often used hand-held computers for espionage work [BODY: 1, Interface: 04, Recall: 06, Bonus: Interface can only work through either cellular phone connections or infrared comm ports].

Less cinematic Wesley Snipes characters

Wesley Snipes’ characters are usually a bit more Realistic in terms of abilities – Shaw is tougher than even the classic Snipes-played heroes. One of these characters would make a fine addition to the Gotham City PD or the Metropolis SCU. To represent one of his typical street-level action characters, make the following changes.

  • Lower Mental Attributes by 1 AP — his characters are quick-witted and adaptable, but not usually to the degree that he was in Art of War.
  • Acrobatics, Detective, and Martial Artist are all linked (thus lowering APs as appropriate), drop Military Science and the Separate Thief Subskill.
  • Change Scholar to suit the character’s job (typical examples are Airline Security, Interpreter, and Homicide Investigator), drop Dark Secret, and add Credentials (Medium) for whatever agency he’s working with, usually local or federal law enforcement.
  • He typically has a High Connection to a former or current colleague who serves as a sidekick and/or confidant — use typical Police Officer stats with +1 or 2 APs to Mental Attributes and Skills.
  • Finally, remember: “Always bet on black.”

By Roy Cowan

Source of Character: The Art of War (movie), character played by Wesley Snipes

Helper(s): Philip John Mason, Sébastien Andrivet

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