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Doctor Faustus (Marvel Comics) (Profile #3) - wheelchair

Doctor Faustus

(Profile #3 - 1987-1993)


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

Context

This profile is part of a tight chronological series, which should be read in a perfect sequence to achieve the desired psychological impact. Or at least that’s what Faustus would say. The series goes :

  1. Doctor Faustus profile #1 (1968-1975) — start here
  2. Doctor Faustus profile #3 — this here profile

Background

  • Real Name: Dr. Johann Fennhoff
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Anna Fennhoff (mother, deceased), unidentified father (deceased)
  • Group Affiliation: Employer of the Wanderers
  • Base of Operations: Unrevealed, then the ruins of the Skull House, then Florida.
  • Height: 6’6″ Weight: 321 lbs
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Red


Powers & Abilities

Faustus’ abilities and technology continue to evolve, but his modus operandi stays generally similar. A wholly new factor appears, however… or maybe it doesn’t.

A general introduction to physioanalysis, part 1

During this era, Faustus starts displaying what certainly resembles a healing factor . However :

  1. No such thing is ever mentioned in either primary or secondary sources
  2. In the context of super-hero comics, it might be “normal” (scare quotes)

Still :

  • He has repeatedly recovered from massive shock and crippling, without apparent consequences
  • He has repeatedly survived wounds that should have been fatal, such as a .45 ACP headshot at close range by a professional
  • His date of birth is firmly affixed in history, so it’s impossible to cheat about his age using a sliding time scale. As this profile begins, Faustus thus is about 55. Yet he shows no sign of it, and his age makes his recuperative faculties even harder on the suspension of disbelief.

A general introduction to physioanalysis, part 2

In game terms this is fairly straightforward. Writeups.org uses evidence-based statting. So Faustus gets enough of a healing factor in his stats to explain his observed durability, irrespective of what Marvel Comics says.

In less game-specific terms, we suggest using our proposed Leòn Genetic Sequence framework. It’s a low-flash, unintrusive explanation of why so many people in the Marvel Universe do not seem to age much, and keep recovering from terrible wounds.

Doctor Faustus (Marvel Comics) (Profile #3) - in the Red Skull's house

Officially (going by his most recent profile, in the 2008 hardback edition of the OHOTMU) his durability is normal. But the entry does note that he presumably developed means to retard his ageing.

The latter is interesting. Faustus seems to have extensive knowledge of Captain America’s physiology. For instance by his first appearance he had developed a pill that could somehow cancel all anagathic  effects of the Super-Soldier Serum.

It is possible that Faustus gained some sort of exclusive knowledge about the Serum and used it to reinforce his own body against age and wounds. The simplest explanation is that it happened when Steve Rogers was his therapy patient.

Three contributions to the theory of mechs

Faustus’ new tech during this era includes:

  • Hallucinogenic gas greatly bolstering suggestibility, without the side effects of the emitters used against Mister Fantastic.
  • The gas was also laced with a strength-sapping compound, similar to the one once used against Captain America. However, it only affected the subject’s strength when striking moving objects, making it almost impossible to realise something odd was going on.
  • Holographic projectors that are less easily spotted, and produce even more convincing illusions
  • Android impersonators that are markedly more capable than the ones he used during his 1983 plot against the accursed Richards. These may have been sourced from the Mad Thinker or Machinesmith.

Civilisation and its discontents

Faustus also hires good, professional mercenaries, armed with assault rifles (mostly) and submachineguns (sometimes). Use shock trooper stats from our Stock Soldiers article, and note that these men are conditioned to follow any order directly given to them by Faustus unless it’s suicidal.

Faustus also worked with a half-dozen mercenary, unethical doctors (though they were clearly less competent than he, and thus simple hirelings) plus enough personnel to run a clinic.


History

After he was narrowly defeated by Reed Richards, Dr. Faustus had a nervous breakdown caused by his hallucinations of his mother.

While he recovered and escaped from prison, he also found himself stuck in a wheelchair due to the wounds suffered during the National Force plot.

As previously discussed, there’s a continuity glitch about the damage to Faustus’ back. Our proposed No-Prize Hypothesis  is that he healed quickly from the major damage – see the Powers & Abilities section for more. Thus, when confronting Reed Richards he was no longer in a wheelchair.

However, our No-Prize Hypothesis goes, he had started walking again too early, probably out of ego. Between not giving his body enough time to heal, and his immense body mass weighing on his back, Faustus undid his recovery. He was thus forced back into a wheelchair for his next appearance.

Get Rogers (again)

Wanting to gain revenge on Captain America for his crippled legs, Faustus discretely moved in into the base of Cap’s greatest enemy – the Red Skull (Johann Shmidt)’s Skull House. Once he was ready, he produced enough suspicious activity there to reel Captain America in.

The following preparations in the Skull House were textbook Faustus and can be used as a template :

  • He mined all the data he could salvage there, particularly the intelligence that the Skull had about Steve Rogers and information about the Skull himself. This allowed Faustus to craft highly credible lies.
  • Everything had been coated with a low concentration of Faustus’s hallucinogenic/hypnotic compound to reinforce the impact of the other manipulations. Furthermore, the chemicals were making Cap hit moving targets with much less force than he felt he was using.
  • A sophisticated hologram of the ghost of the Red Skull, with no nearby projector, greeted and challenged Captain America. Using the salvaged data, the hologram credibly established that it was the ghost of Shmidt. It further introduced a complex notion of the afterlife having to be balanced by Captain America’s death
  • The Skull then theatrically produced the “ghosts” of other men – the ULTIMATUM agent Cap recently had to kill, followed by three men who had died despite Cap’s efforts – MODOK, a Scourge of the Underworld and the Porcupine. These sophisticated androids proved to be impossible to knock out and kept coming back, largely because of Cap’s subtly sapped strength.
  • Even after Cap got rid of the LMDs , Faustus turned up the gas dosage and produced LMDs of Bucky Barnes, Sharon Carter (still believed to have died during the National Force crisis) and Cap’s parents.
    Those LMDs delivered more babble about the rules of the afterlife and how Cap had to die to atone for killing the ULTIMATUM agent a few weeks before. But they said he had to give his life freely, not by dying in battle as the “ghost of the Red Skull” had explained.
  • Given the chemicals Cap had been subjected to and his great guilt over the man he had killed, this very nearly worked. ”Sharon Carter” guided him to walk into the light, but Cap stopped a few steps short of what was actually a cremation oven and rejected the “ghosts”.

Infuriated, Faustus then activated all the traps in the Skull House, hoping that the weakened and battered Cap would fall prey to them. But as he rolled his wheelchair out of the command centre, he was suddenly confronted by what seemed to be the actual ghost of the Red Skull.

The spectre was incensed that Faustus was using his house and his library, and fighting his nemesis. It attacked Faustus and choked him. Though it did not manage to kill the huge man, it left him in a state of shock bordering on coma.

Get Monroe, part 1

Faustus fully recovered over the following years, and his legs and back healed too. He escaped from prison during the early 1990s. By late 1993 he was still often using a wheelchair, but could amble with crutches and braces the rest of the time.

He attempted to establish himself as the equivalent of the Kingpin for Florida. This likely was because by then he had no large criminal organisation to fund his activities, as the Secret Empire and the Corporation had once done.

Doctor Faustus (Marvel Comics) (Profile #3) - LMDs and hologram

The LMDs deployed at the Skull House, plus the hologram of Johann Shmidt.

This meant displacing the current crime boss, the Slug (Ulysses Lugman). To do so Faustus hired very minor mercenaries the Wanderers, who captured Nomad (Jack Monroe) while he was stinking drunk.

Nomad was at that point in Florida, and Faustus had experience with him back when Monroe was a “patient” at his Institute, before the National Force plot. Nomad had also almost killed the Slug in a previous clash.

Get Monroe, part 2

Using massive amounts of drugs, Faustus again brainwashed Jack Monroe. Since this time Monroe was the main subject, Faustus dug into his traumatic, repressed childhood memories. This was successful and turned Nomad into an obedient if savage hitman, convinced that he was a born Nazi and bloody-handed betrayer.

However, Monroe’s ally the shady Giscard Epurer warned Captain America in time for Cap to save the Slug and face Monroe. Shaken from Faustus’ control, Jack beelined back to kill the giant psychiatrist. However, Faustus stopped him by offering to erase Monroe’s childhood memory in exchange for dropping his vendetta.

Faustus started by unearthing the bulk of Monroe’s traumatic childhood memory, which was allegedly a necessary step of the procedure. As this segment ended, Monroe flipped out and attempted to kill Faustus. Captain America again stopped him, and Jack agreed to drop the gun and let Faustus go.

However, five weeks later, Nomad sneaked into the minimum security prison where Faustus was being held. He murdered Fennhoff by shooting him right between the eyes with a .45 handgun.

Return of the repressed

For more than a decade, Doctor Faustus was assumed dead. As it turns out, Johann Fennhoff was not only still alive, but his legs and back finished fully healing and he developed his brainwashing and hypnotic techniques to new heights.

Doctor Faustus would thus resurface in 2006, as part of the Red Skull’s incredible machination that killed Captain America.


Description

Cap once notices that Dr. Faustus is a nailbiter. That his nails are chewed to the nub might give Faustus away in some circumstances, I suppose.


Personality

No special changes in characterisation, though Faustus does seem a bit more on the sadistic side now. Perhaps his failures and his handicap have embittered him.


Quotes

“A mind — a body — no matter how ravaged — can always be put to good use, doctor.”

“Bring the chlorothiazide up six ccs… Another six… Another ten on the methaqualone, stat…”

(Sarcastically) “This session is over. I will send you my bill.”

“I can be persuasive when I want to, Captain. You know that.”


DC Universe History

At this stage Faustus is more of a bit player, though his assault on Cap at the Skull House was genuinely dangerous.

The equivalent would have been clashing with the Batman using the “ghost” of either Ra’s al Ghul or the Joker, then tangling with one of the forgotten 1990s DC Comics heroes, such as, say… Gunfire or Joe Public.


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Doctor Faustus

Dex: 04 Str: 05 Bod: 04 Motivation: Power
Int: 08 Wil: 08 Min: 07 Occupation: Criminal, psychiatrist
Inf: 06 Aur: 07 Spi: 06 Wealth: 007
Init: 018 HP: 025

Powers:
Growth: 01, Invulnerability: 05, Regeneration: 01

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Growth is Always On and Already Factored In
  • Invulnerability takes at least 20 minutes (9 APs) per roll
  • Regeneration cannot regrow missing tissue (such as a limb that was hacked off), but it can regrow *damaged* tissue. This allows Faustus to recover from crippling wounds that would leave a person permanently handicapped in the real world
  • However, this application of Regeneration takes years (unless you’re assuming a compressed time scale)

Skills:
Charisma (Interrogation, Persuasion): 09, Charisma (Intimidation): 05, Gadgetry: 04, Medicine: 09, Scientist (Drawing plans): 05, Scientist (Analysis): 08, Scientist (Research): 07, Weaponry (Exotic, Firearms): 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Faustus’ Medicine Skill treats MIND damage and conditions, not BODY. However he can also attempt to treat SPIRIT damage and conditions, but at +1 CS OV/RV.
  • Faustus’ Scientist (Analysis) Subskill can only discern psychological factors, not physical ones

Advantages:
Genius (Limited to applications having to do with the mind), Language (German), Scholar (Psychiatry and psychology)

Connections:
Underworld (Low)

Drawbacks:
Distinct Appearance (Enormous size, presence, intimidating red beard), MPR (Slightly nearsighted), Traumatic Flashback (Hallucinations of his mother), MIF of Heights, SPR (crippled/partially crippled legs – see below)

Equipment:

  • CONCEALED WAFER-THIN PARACHUTE [BODY 01, Gliding: 01, Miniaturization: 04]. Since it saved his life at least once, we’d assume he keeps wearing it.
  • NOSE PLUGS [BODY 01, Sealed systems (gasses only): 05]. Given the amount of gas weapons he uses, it is reasonable to assume that Faustus has a stock of concealed nose plugs, which will undetectably protect him against airborne pathogens, hallucinogens, etc.
  • As in the previous Faustus profiles, the mission-specific equipment is detailed in separate sections.

Crippled legs

Faustus doesn’t seem to have trained to fight in a wheelchair or with crutches – he’s neither Barbara Gordon nor Silhouette Chord.

That effectively reduces him to DEX 02 STR 02 BODY 03, as his handicap greatly reduces his range of movement. In some corner cases where crippled legs aren’t a factor (for instance he’s lying on his back and lifting away something pinning him down) he can use his nominal Attributes.


Design Notes

Faustus’ intellectual skills are slightly sharper than before. However note how his Connections, Hero Points and Resources took a hit.

This is where villain decay  set in for Faustus during this era. He’s still a genuine threat, but he’ll have to fold earlier than he would previously have.


Skull House it has a crowd, there’s always something happening

It’s interesting to ponder how Dr. Faustus rounded up such an arsenal without apparent resources. Perhaps everything was procured on-site at the Skull House, but if so why did not S.H.I.E.L.D. confiscate everything ?

Perhaps everything was booby-trapped to the nines, but Faustus had a way to neutralize this security (guessing passwords based on the Skull’s history and mindset, and the fact they’re both Germanophones raised in early XXth century Mitteleuropa ?).

Anyway.

Hallucinogenic gas

The main “weapon” at Skull House was an HALLUCINOGEN greatly increasing suggestibility. It works very much like the HIGH FREQUENCY SCRAMBLER once used against Reed Richards, but without the telltale headache. Like with the SCRAMBLER, it suspends suspension of disbelief and will let the subject’s mind fill in all the little blanks and help make illusions convincing. The subject will remain convinced that they are sceptical and not influenced, but their brain chemistry is betraying them at every turn.

The HALLUCINOGEN can simply reuse the mechanics of the SCRAMBLER – [BODY 02, “Mind” drain: 12, Limitations:”Mind” drain has the subject’s MIND/MIND as the OV/RV (Sealed Systems and Systemic Antidote both apply) but actually damages both INT and WIL (and any relevant Accuracy (Perception) Subskill) rather than MIND. It can only gain one RAP every minute with a maximum of 8 RAPs, though those RAP is deduced from both INT and WIL (and any relevant Accuracy (Perception) Subskill). This attack will usually Blindside.

One gathers that the hallucinogen was present both as an aerosol and as a coating on surfaces that would likely come into contact with the subject. The coating could penetrate even such robust fabric as Captain America’s gloves.

Strength-sapping gas

Quite similar to the one once used against Cap in Manhattan, but even more subtle. Detecting the effect of this new formula would still require Analytical Smell/Tracking Scent, but the OV/RV is now 12/12.

It is a Power Drain. To simplify it attacks BODY/BODY with 12/10 (Sealed Systems and Systemic Antidote apply), and the RAPs are subtracted from all EVs from muscle-powered attacks such as punches, kicks, grapples, most melee weapons, thrown weapons, archery… The EV cannot be lowered under 02. It is possible to Recover from those RAPs normally, once removed from the gas.

This effect only affects EV, and only applies on attacks against moving targets. For all other applications such as acrobatics or attacking immobile objects, the target’s strength is intact. It makes it practically impossible to detect that something is wrong.

Apparently, Faustus’ LMDs were programmed to “sell” the impacts (like a stunt person, or a wrestler in a staged fight, would), reacting as if hit with full strength. They do not actually take the RAPs, but they act as if they did, throw themselves back, etc.. This likely could be detected, but with the HALLUCINOGEN nobody’s going to be able to make that roll.

Note that the strength-sapping gas in an *assumption*, based on the fact that Faustus employed a strength-sapping gas before with similar effects. It could be that the LMDs were simply highly durable and the hallucinogens made Cap fail to notice clues about that.

Life Model Decoys

These LMDs  are the good ones, closer to being synthezoids . Cap was straining to detect whether they were robots, but hitting them was exactly like hitting a living person made of flesh and bones.

They come with DEX 04 STR 03 BODY 06, Regeneration: 06, and are programmed with Artist (Actor): 04 and Weaponry: 04. Both Skills have a limited span – Weaponry only applies to one weapon the LMD is armed with, and Artist only applies to the programmed role and to stage combat (such as “selling” blows as mentioned above).

They operate role-specific equipment:

  • ULTIMATUM agent gear: GOGGLES [BODY 02, Shade: 02, Do Nothing: 03] and a Uzi [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 05, Ammo: 07, R#02, Advantage : Autofire].
  • Scourge of the Underworld gear: .50 BMG carbine [BODY 04, Projectile weapon: 07, Ammo: 04, R#2] and GOGGLES as above
  • Ersatz Porcupine Mk2 POWER ARMOUR [/STR/ 06 /BODY/ 07, Claws: 06, Claws being: 04, Projectile weapon: 05]
  • The LMD impersonating MODOK was cosmetically modified (a “bighead” configuration) and riding in a FLYING POD [BODY 08, Energy blast: 07, Flash (Steady Illumination only): 07, Flight: 05, Growth: 03, Limitation: Growth is Always On and Already Factored In]

Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Marvel Comics

Helper(s): Dr. Piispanen, Eric Langendorff, Roy Cowan, Adam Fuqua, Darci

Writeup completed on the 24th of October, 2016.

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