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Black Mass of the Cadre (JLA enemy) (DC Comics)

Black Mass


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

For all the necessary context, you should *first* read our Overmaster’s Cadre team profile.


Background

  • Real Name: Geoffrey Thibodeux
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed
  • Known Relatives: None
  • Group Affiliation: Former MIT researcher, former member of the Cadre
  • Base Of Operations: Boston, MA ; later the Overmaster’s mountain ; later the Slab prison
  • Height: 5’5” (as Black Mass 9’9”) Weight: 100 lbs (as Black Mass 1,012 lbs)
  • Eyes: Light brown Hair: Bald


Powers and Abilities

Black Mass’s bracers allow him to increase his own mass and size and manipulate gravitons. He can make objects and/or himself float weightlessly in the air or even fly. Or he can suspend the effects of gravity on a mass of earth or a building, resulting in its explosive disintegration under the strain (in DC Heroes RPG terms, Bomb).

Black Mass presumably can increase gravity to, say, pin opponents to the ground or collapse floors. He also seems able to shoot jet black beams of gravitational force that act as a concussive blast.

He can extrude and push ’waves’ of matter from the ground (even if that is a rigid metallic floor) using a gravity ripple. He often uses that to create an obstacle or crush and immobilise opponents.

At the Slab, the insane Black Mass demonstrated an ability to trigger a sort of black hole by banging his wristbands, Captain Mar-Vell style. This black hole could suck in the entire island where the Slab was located. But somehow, nothing was destroyed or killed and the island was just spit back into a blank dimension called a singularity space.

More powers

Black Mass could also create a gravity distortion in front of his chest. It would send incoming projectiles elsewhere, or maybe just collapse them and their momentum down through gravity (Force Shield).

After he was killed, Black Mass became a very potent energy negator. However, this effect was only manifest within a short distance of his body. He later demonstrated the ability to form a black hole and selectively suck energy into it. It took less than 30 seconds for him to drain Dr. Polaris, who was at that point tapping into the comic power of a Controller.

Early on Black Mass was then tangling with the Elongated Man in a way that suggested enhanced strength and durability. One the other hand, he has been consistently knocked out by blows to the head, even when delivered with human strength.

A note

This entry lists all the things Black Mass was ever seen doing, which may convey the impression that he’s a powerhouse. It is thus important to note that :

  • Most of the powers appeared after he was brain-damaged
  • After he was brain-damaged, he evidences a low degree of initiative and doesn’t really know how to use most of his powers
  • Many of his abilities are, in DC Heroes RPG terms, Marginal. He can’t muster the focus to use them in most circumstances.

History

Formerly a pencil-necked physics prodigy at MIT , Thibodeux was recruited by an alien menace called the Overmaster to join the Cadre. As a Cadre member, he fought the JLA in its Detroit version. See our Overmaster’s Cadre article for more.

Prison breakdown, part 1

Arrested in unrevealed circumstances, Black Mass was incarcerated. he was sent to the massive prison for superhuman and inhuman criminals, the Slab. There he was shackled with Promethium alloy restraints, which wasn’t quite necessary as he behaved as a model prisoner.

However, his good behaviour changed radically when the Joker triggered a prison riot. The madman exposed all other prisoners to a special gas making them Joker-like, violently insane and loyal toward him.

Black Mass gleefully agreed to warping the entire island, starting with himself, into a black hole. Thought the expected result was annihilation, the Slab remained intact but was marooned in an empty dimension.

Prison breakdown, part 2

Still under the effects of the Joker chemicals, Black Mass and other demented inmates tried to kill Slab staff persons Shilo Norman (formerly the second Mister Miracle) and Dina Bell. Thibodeux was accidentally killed when a stray bullet hit him in the head.

His corpse was later used to shift the Slab back to Earth. This was done by having Multi-Man reanimate it and letting Mister Mind take over the zombie Black Mass’s superhuman powers.

Black Mass’s corpse was then used by Norman as a black body  to absorb excess energy from Doctor Polaris. This prevented a global electromagnetic catastrophe.

Always bet on black

Tibodeux’s corpse was thus left to absorb Dr. Polaris’ fantastic energies for months. That somehow healed and eventually resurrected Black Mass. When Polaris finally escaped, he magnetically made Black Mass capable of movement and restarted his brain. This granted Thibodeux a very small degree of speech (grunts, mostly) and initiative (like a very smart dog).

Polaris then assembled most of the Overmaster’s first Cadre, including Crowbar, Fastball and Nightfall. He also recruited a new Shrike called Starshrike, and a new Shatterfist.

Polaris’s Cadre conducted a series of thefts in high technology companies around California. But they were hounded by Skyrocket and some other members of the Power Company. Polaris used the stolen tech to assemble his master weapon — a satellite which could transmit a magnetic pulse over the entire planet.

The apocalypse gets cancelled

However the Cadre, minus the passive Black Mass, turned against their boss. They did not want to end civilisation, but rule it. They did not fare very well, since Polaris was tapping into the power of an alien Controller. This gave him Magneto (Max Eisenhardt)-level power.

The crafty Manhunter (Kirk DePaul) attempted to spur Black Mass into action against Dr. Polaris. He verbally provoked the shambling Thibodeux with elements from his past, hoping that something would stick.

Manhunter randomly discovered that Thibodeux remembered about Bobo, the kitten he had when he was in third grade. Exploiting this, DePaul told Thibodeux that Polaris wanted to kill Bobo.

Furious, the brain-damaged Black Mass took down Polaris single-handedly to defend his pet. He was then knocked out by Manhunter who hit him on the head with an iron bar. The addled Thibodeux never realised that Bobo had long since died of old age.

The Mass age

Even without exposure to Dr. Polaris’ magnetism, Black Mass seemed to continue recovering his mental faculties and agency – albeit at a very slow rate. He continued to associate with the Cadre villains.

For instance, he was present when Crowbar and Nightfall tried to flee the US but were stopped by Black Lightning. He also later accompanied Fastball II and Shatterfist II when they tried to rob a truck stop and were stopped by Flash (Wally West).

For some odd reason, Nightfall and Black Mass were also spotted in a crowd when many aliens living on Earth were summoned to Metropolis. Perhaps they were in Metropolis at that point and their alien bracers reacted to the summon due to that proximity.


Description

See illustrations.


Personality

Black Mass always has been a rather quiet person. The only appearances where he spoke more than a few words were a comedy appearance and while driven crazy by a Joker chemical. Since he was brain-damaged he’s even quieter and more passive. Thibodeux never seemed particularly aggressive, though he was loyal to the Overmaster.

Black Mass’s recovery from death is very slow – it took over a decade. Early on he was slow, clumsy, and could only grunt and follow simple orders.

Some random parts of his brain were more intact than the others. When those were simulated he could form rough sentences such as “Nooooo ! Nodd Bobo ! Yuu won’d hurdd Bobo ! I won’dd ledd yuu!” or “He falled down. Bobo safe now ?”.

By the late 2000s Thibodeux seemed mostly recovered, though he still doesn’t speak much – making an assessment difficult. He seems to be on the level of a slow, but not actually mentally handicapped, person with an IQ in the 70s or 80s. It is possible that he’s still rebuilding his ante-mortem level of intelligence.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Black Mass

Dex: 04 Str: 09 Bod: 07 Motivation: Mercenary
Int: 03 Wil: 04 Min: 03 Occupation: Mercenary
Inf: 03 Aur: 02 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 010 HP: 015

Powers:
Bomb: 10, Density increase: 02, Dimension travel: 02, Earth control: 09, Force shield: 12, Gravity Decrease: 12, Gravity increase: 12, Growth: 02, Mental blast: 10, Neutralize: 18

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Bomb only has half its normal AV (AV 05) — it’s a null-gravity explosion, so it starts pretty slowly and people have more time than usual to dive for cover
  • Dimension travel only goes to “the singularity space” and back to normal space (-4) but has a special +30 Bonus to the Volume it can affect (+6), though sucking in that much takes about 30mn (-1)
  • Dimension Travel is Serious Marginal
  • Force shield is Minor Marginal and only works against ranged attacks
  • Growth and Density Increase are Always On and Already Factored In
  • Gravity decrease allows him to fly at 06 APs of maximum speed (+0)
  • Mental blast is Minor Marginal, and is actually gravitic energy
  • Neutralize only works on energy-based powers such as, say Magnetic Control (-1) and is its own AV (+1 or +0 depending on house rules)

Skills:
Scientist: 06

Advantages:
Alter Ego (as Thibodeux, he has no Powers and all of his Physical Attributes are 02. He seems to have lost this when the wristbands fused to his body), Expertise (Physics)

Connections:
None

Drawbacks:
Uncertainty, Partial Attack Vulnerability (attacks specifically directed at his head encounter an RV of 02)


Blank Mass

After he suffered serious brain damage, all of Black Mass’s Mental and Mystical Attributes permanently became 01s. He lost all of his Skills and Advantages as well as his Motivation, Occupation and Wealth. His DEX looks like a 02 or so, making his Initiative a 004. He generally couldn’t access his HPs, but burned them all when he was persuaded that he was defending his kitten Bobo.

Black Mass has since recovered a bit. All his Mental and Mystical Attributes seem to be about 02 and he can access his HPs (though he’s down to about ten of those). Black Mass seems to find it difficult to use his Powers, though, and usually prefers to attack hand-to-hand.

Some panels imply that he now has Growth: 05, though the first two APs are still Always On and Already Factored In. Though one should always be wary about how sizes are drawn in comic books, this seems to make sense given the previously demonstrated flexibility of his abilities, his current tactics and the brain damage he has suffered from.


Game Stats — DC Adventures RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Black Mass — Averaged PL 10

STR STA AGL DEX FGT INT AWE PRE
-1 (08) 00 (09) 00 00 -1 (05) 02 00 01

Powers

Black mass body ● 48 points (Permanent) ● Descriptor: Overmaster enhancements, size, mass
– Growth 2 (Always On)
– Superhuman mass and strength — Enhanced Strength 8 (+1 from Growth), Enhanced Stamina 8 (+1 from Growth)
– Superior reach due to size — Enhanced Fighting 6

Can now apparently grow even bigger ● 6 points ● Descriptor: Overmaster enhancements
Growth 3

Gravity powers that he used to use before the brain damage ● 103 points ● Descriptor: Overmaster enhancements, gravity
– Gravity nullification — Perception Ranged Move Object 11, Limited to suspending gravity (usually to make objects/persons float up, or raise a portion of the ground as an attack or obstacle)
– Gravity nullification to make part of the ground rise and entrap people — Snare 8
– Personal gravity nullification — Flight 5
– Gravity amplification — Ranged Affliction 11 (Alt. resistance (Strength), hindered & vulnerable, immobile & prone, incapacitated & asleep (well, unconscious from the strain))
– Make things explode — Burst-area Explosive Damage 9, Limited 2 (only against things anchored to the ground, like buildings), Quirk (this attack is easy to dodge since the explosion is slow to occur – -4 to the attack roll unless the person cannot dodge)

Powers he used, like, once ● 112 points ● Descriptor: Overmaster enhancements, gravity
– Gravitic force beam — Ranged Blunt Damage 10
– Defeat projectiles by increasing their mass — Deflect 10
– Collapse gravity and sucks everything into another dimension — Dimension travel 1, Increased Mass 20
– Absorb other fundamental forces — Nullify fundamental forces 15 (resisted by Fortitude ; Broad, Simultaneous, Sustained)

Combat Advantages

None demonstrated

Other Advantages

None demonstrated

Skills

Expertise (Physics) 10 (+12), Intimidation 1 (+2), Perception 2 (+2)

Offense

Initiative +0
Unarmed +5, Close, Damage 8 (more with more Growth)

Defense

Dodge 5 Fortitude 10
Parry 5 Toughness 9
Will 2

Complications

  • Disability Black Mass suffered severe brain damage early on, though he’s been slowly recovering. His Intellect, Awareness and Presence are in negative values as a result – though it’s getting better. He seems unable to access his Skills and most of his Powers under normal circumstances, and his level of initiative is very diminished.
  • Vulnerability Specifically hitting Black Mass in the head lowers his Toughness defense to zero

Power levels

  • Trade-off areas Attack & Effect PL 11, Dodge/Toughness PL 7, Parry/Toughness PL 7, Fort & Will PL 6
  • Point total 285 Abilities 2, Defences 8, Skills 6, Powers 269, Devices 0, Advantages 0. Equiv. PL 19.

Notes

The PLs and point totals are based on his full abilities (hence the huge points total). This is a polite fiction, as his medical condition prevents him from using anything like his full powers. Adjust based on the range of abilities and the level of initiative you intent Black Mass to show during the encounter.

Black Mass will usually just use his extra Growth so his Damage is 11 (Attack/Effect becomes PL 8 ), and will be unable to access his gravitic and seldom-used abilities (making his point total collapse by about 200 points, back to PL6 or 7).

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: DC Universe

Helper(s): Roy Cowan

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