5704 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Nicholas Cage as Johnny Blaze (Ghost Rider) with a cowboy hat

Ghost Rider

(Nicolas Cage movie version)


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

“During the day, you’ll be normal. But at night, in the presence of evil, the Rider takes over.”


Context

Ghost Rider was a 2007 movie starring Nicholas Cage and the ever fetching Eva Mendes, and loosely based on the comics. It was critically panned (26% on Rotten Tomatoes  is… bad) but the general public thought it was more or less OK – especially the Extended Cut release.

This profile covers the Extended Cut, though as parenthetical italicized notes. This is because it is unclear whether the additional details from the Extended Cut are considered canon or not.

On the other hand the profile was written well before the 2012 sequel (17% on Rotten Tomatoes , if you must know. Ouch).

This profile has more speculative notes than most. This is because the full extent of some of Ghost Rider’s abilities are as yet unclear, with the speculative material being clearly noted but left in to serve as possible fodder for GMs or players using the Rider.

Now… let’s ride!


Background

  • Real Name: Johnny Blaze, a.k.a. “Mr. Invincible” (by the fans) and JB (by Team Blaze)
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Barton Blaze (Father, deceased)
  • Group Affiliation: Team Blaze
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile
  • Height: 6’1” Weight: 185 lbs
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Brown


Video

Movie trailer, available in 1080p.


The Devil’s Bounty Hunter

The Ghost Rider is a uniquely powerful creation of the Devil, in part because of qualities to ephemeral to be noted in our game stats. One ability of note is that the Ghost Rider can manifest on hallowed ground (cemeteries, churches, etc.) where most demons cannot pass. In game terms this is not an Advantage for the Rider so much as a lack of a Limitation commonly possessed by other demonic entities.

Furthermore, the Rider is empowered with hellfire. This makes him particularly effective at battling other satanic creatures. Attacks enhanced by hellfire inflict extreme damage to demons. Hellfire could be put to extremely versatile uses by Ghost Rider — see Powers and Abilities for details.

(In the extended cut there is a conversation between Mephisto and Blackheart that gives more emphasis to the threat that hellfire presents to demons. The Rider is feared by them in part because he is empowered by it, enough so that Blackheart and his Fallen allies are noticeably concerned when first told that the Rider is coming for them. Ghost Rider might thus have the Reputation Advantage limited to affecting demons only.)

The Ghost Rider (Nicolas Cage) racing his precessor

As is typical in mystical tales, creating such a powerful servant has certain restrictions. The Ghost Rider cannot be summoned as an independent entity but instead must be fomented inside a human host. The host’s abilities appear to be important to determining those of the Ghost Rider that manifests from him, which causes the Devil to be particular when selecting said host.

Furthermore, in exchange for the Ghost Rider fulfilling the mission he has been summoned for, the Devil has to return the host’s soul.

This might explain why the Ghost Rider is one of Mephistopheles’s most powerful creations. The Devil effectively has to relinquish a valuable soul to bring the Rider forth and it is a common trope in magic stories that greater power requires a greater price to be paid.

It may also account for the rarity with which Ghost Riders are summoned. It is usually once per generation, at best. It had been 150 years between the summoning of the last Ghost Rider, Carter Slade, and Blaze’s activation.

Being forced to give up a purchased soul to create a Rider would explain why the Devil saved it for only the most valuable missions such as recovering the San Venganza contract and stopping his rebellious son Blackheart.

This also adds an extra poignancy to Slade’s and Blaze’s ultimate defiance of Mephistopheles. By refusing to relinquish the Ghost Rider’s power, they were giving up the chance to regain their souls.

However, Slade hoped that he had earned redemption in another way by keeping the San Venganza contract out of the Devil’s possession. Blaze probably had a similar hope in mind when he swore to use the Rider’s powers to thwart Mephistopheles’s schemes on Earth.

Riders may well feel a subtle connection to one another. After his first manifestation, the Blaze Ghost Rider’s last act before sunrise was to ride to the place where Carter Slade lived though no previous connection to that location had been established and Slade himself was clearly a stranger to Blaze.

Likewise, Slade had a intuition of Blaze’s curse even though he seemingly had not witnessed Blaze’s transformation. This may imply another very specific Detect Power at work.


Powers and Abilities

Blaze is a world-renowned stunt cyclist, a career aided by the resistance to injury he shares with the demon inside him. That demon, the Ghost Rider, is a flame-headed diabolic bounty hunter, strong enough to win a tug-of-war with a police helicopter (somehow remaining rooted to the ground while lassoing and flinging the helicopter away) and able to shrug off massed small-arms fire and severe impacts.

The Rider’s hellfire aura is powerful enough to melt metal bars on contact and to affect even demonic creatures that would be expected to be immune to normal flames. It is also extremely versatile in application – Trick Power applications have included:

  • ensnaring an air demon by forming a flaming vortex with his hellfire-sheathed chain
  • throwing up a wall of fire to force a group of police to retreat
  • superheating clumps of earth for use as thrown weapons

Johnny can only transform into the Ghost Rider at night and in the presence of evil. These limitations are fairly flexible. Even at sunrise, Johnny could still transform those parts of himself in shadow from the sun’s rays into the Rider.

Likewise, even the presence of an evil artifact such as the San Venganza contract, which held one thousand souls owed to Satan, was enough to allow the change.

The Ghost Rider (Nicolas Cage) rides in a tunnel

Of all the Rider’s abilities, the one generally considered the most potent is the Penance Stare. By locking eyes with an evil person, the Rider can paralyze them by making them mystically experience all of the pain they have inflicted on others (in DC Heroes terms, Phobia).

This process usually leaves the victim catatonic and with their eyes burnt to cinders (Magic Blast, Pyrotechnics). It is unknown if either of these mystic wounds will eventually heal or if they are permanent.

With further practice, Blaze may be able to use other abilities of the Rider even in human form.

For instance, while working to use “the flame element within” him to “control the possessing spirit” (the Rider), Johnny inadvertently generated and flung a fireball. This did take place at night, but apparently not in the presence of evil and without any other sign of the Rider manifesting.

A short time later while speaking to a person lighting a cigarette, the flame from the smoker’s lighter suddenly turned at a 90-degree angle toward Blaze even though there was not any noticeable air current in the room.

The Rider may be able to access control of other elements in addition to fire. For example, his ability to morph metal objects such as his equipment and elongating the spikes on his leather jacket and gloves might indicate some form of the Metal Manipulation Power. However, this is only speculation.

Though Blaze has studied the occult and gathered various tomes, some of which proved helpful in overcoming aspects of his curse, his knowledge still seems very limited. Most tellingly, he was unaware of the history of the Ghost Rider until Carter Slade explained it.

Infernal devices

Chain

During his first battle Ghost Rider was momentarily entangled in this mundane chain by his demonic attacker. Upon freeing himself he took it as a weapon, transforming it into a tougher, chromed version of its original form.

The Rider could change its length to suit his needs and charge it with his hellfire to inflict extra damage when he chose to do so. In combat he used it as a whip or lasso as well as sometimes wrapping it around his fists to add damage to his punches.

Bike

One of the Ghost Rider’s first acts was imbue Johnny’s favorite motorcycle, Grace (his most prized inheritance from his father), with some of his hellfire and thus transform it into the Hellcycle.

As the Hellcycle, the bike was morphed into a chrome perversity of its former self, with a monstrously warped skull forming the front plate and wheels of flame that melted whatever surface it was in contact with.

Whenever the Ghost Rider manifested thereafter, Grace would also transform into the Hellcycle even if it was not in the Rider’s immediate vicinity and could even drive itself to him (hence the INT and Vehicles Skill). The Hellcycle could move up walls and even underneath or on the surface of water.

While the Hellcycle’s heat normally only affected surfaces the tires were in direct contact with, it sometimes had environmental effects. This was most notably seen during Blaze’s initial uncontrolled transformation when, in DC Heroes terms, everything with 1 AP of the Hellcycle was attacked with Flame Being: 08.

It later eased to only affecting nearby fragile objects in a dramatic manner — shorting out neon signs, incinerating small animals nearby, etc.

This ability is not included in the stats since it is purely a thematic effect and the GM or player using Ghost Rider are encouraged include this description simply to emphasize the Rider’s presence when driving through an area.

It is possible that the Ghost Rider could similarly empower other vehicles, but it seems more likely that Grace has a unique connection to the Rider.

Mephistopheles seemed to have specifically selected that bike out of all of Blaze’s motorcycles for use by the Rider. He even reassembled it for that purpose (shortly prior to Mephisto’s arrival Grace could be seen partially dismantled for repairs in Blaze’s loft).

Grace had also been present when the Devil had originally tainted Blaze with hellfire and it responded to the Rider’s commands even before he first transformed it, driving to him when summoned. It is unknown whether the Hellcycle is simply an extension of the Ghost Rider’s powers or if Grace has itself been possessed by another demon.

The Ghost Rider (Nicolas Cage) stands next to his demonic motorcycle

This appears to be a common ability to the Ghost Riders. Carter Slade had a horse that he was able to empower in a similar manner, with the horse assuming the appearance of a flaming skeleton just like the Ghost Rider when transformed and running at speeds fast enough to keep pace with the Hellcycle.

Hellgun

In its mundane form the Hellgun was a Model 1887 Winchester lever-action shotgun originally possessed by Carter Slade and passed down to Johnny Blaze. While a formidable firearm in its own right, the Rider’s hellfire could transform the shotgun in the same manner as the Hellcycle, making it a silvery monstrosity of a firearm.

The Hellgun had fearsome effects on demons, almost completely vaporizing the Legion-empowered Blackheart (though Blackheart’s powers allowed him to reform from even this brutal assault).

As with the Hellcycle, it is unknown if the Rider could do this for any weapon or if the Hellgun is a uniquely-empowered artifact; it is also possible that each Rider chooses a signature weapon when it first manifests (as the Blaze Rider chose the chain) but can also use other Riders’ weapons.


History

As a young man, Johnny Blaze made a deal with the devil. At that time he was working in a carnival stunt show with his father. He learned his father was dying of cancer on the same day he decided to leave the stunt show with his girlfriend. Mephistopheles appeared to him and offered to cure his father’s cancer in exchange for Johnny’s soul.

Johnny took the deal. The next day his father awoke completely cured of cancer…only to die that same afternoon in a motorcycle wreck during a stunt.

After being confronted by Mephistopheles, who gave him an inkling of his curse, Johnny rode away from the stunt show and from Roxanne. Much of the intervening 20 or so years is unknown. During that time Johnny became the world’s greatest stunt rider, touring the country with his “Team Blaze”.

On a number of occasions he survived fatal wrecks during stunts, laughing them off to the unease of his team. He also studied the occult, focusing on deals with the devil.

As Johnny prepare to perform his greatest stunt yet – jumping over 6 Blackhawk helicopters – Roxanne reappeared in his life as a sports reporter. The two still had a connection, but their possible reconciliation was interrupted by Mephistopheles.

The Devil called the deal due and made Johnny into the Ghost Rider, tasked with stopping Mephistopheles’s son Blackheart, from acquiring the San Venganza contract, an artifact containing a thousand evil souls.

Johnny, in form of the Rider, battled Blackheart and his Daemons several times. During the course of these conflicts he came into contact with a previous incarnation of the Ghost Rider, former Texas Ranger Carter Slade, now known as the Caretaker.

Slade informed Blaze of the Rider’s origins and abilities as well as the history of the contract Blackheart sought.

The Ghost Rider (Nicolas Cage) fires a demonic rifle

Blackheart finally used Roxanne against Johnny, forcing him to turn over the contract in exchange for her life. Slade provided Blaze with both the contract and a new weapon, the Hellgun, and led him to the ruins of San Venganza itself, where Blackheart was waiting, before fading away as he used the last of his own Rider’s mystic energies.

Blaze and Blackheart battled brutally. In the end Blackheart was destroyed by the very power he sought as absorbing the souls in the contract left him uniquely vulnerable to the Rider’s Penance Stare — no longer soulless, Blackheart now had a thousand souls to burn.

Afterward, Mephistopheles returned to fulfill his end of the deal, wanting to retake the powers of Ghost Rider and restore Johnny’s soul to him. Johnny rejected the Devil and retained his “curse” as Ghost Rider to seek out the guilty and punish them, foiling the Devil’s plans whenever he could.

Though he left Roxanne once again, the two had reconciled before he left this time.


Description

Johnny Blaze is a stunt rider in his early 40’s in awesome physical shape, with a long face accented by hound-dog eyes. He is most often seen in black biker’s leathers and clothing, but wears flashy red and white leather outfits during his stunt shows.

Ghost Rider is a flaming skeleton usually clad in biker’s leathers as well since he is attired with whatever Blaze was wearing when he changed. His flames are usually a mix of orange and yellow, but change color to indicate his physical and emotional condition.

When he is stunned the flames may temporarily waver or die out and Blackheart’s mystically poisonous touch made the flames cloud with a black smoky look.

When the Ghost Rider looked at Roxanne, he would take on more tentative body language and his flames took on a “calmer” blue color (which would indicate a higher temperature in normal flames, but in this case the color appears to be more symbolic than physical).

The Rider has fine control over aspects of his appearance. He can alter metallic items on his person (making small studs on his jacket extend into spikes, for example) and his flames do not burn items he touches unless he deliberately extends an aura of heat. Even in the latter case, the heat does not affect the items he wears.

One eyewitness described the Rider as follows: “He was tall, broad shoulders, and thin, really thin, like bony. And he had this rad chopper, it was all flames and stuff. Oh, and his face was a skull and it was on fire. Yeah, like (makes, whooshing noises, holds hands out at mid-shoulder width), like that much fire. And I know it sounds weird, but it looked okay on him. I mean, it was an edge look but he totally pulled it off.”


Personality

Johnny Blaze is a highly confident stunt professional. His bravery borders on foolhardiness, especially behind the wheel. While Blaze is a fan-favorite of the stunt riding set, recognized on-sight by most aficionados, he remains socially isolated even from his support team. Even Johnny’s closet friends do not know him well. He is a mystery to everyone.

The two Ghost Riders riding in the night

Blaze carried the guilt over his father’s death with him as well as his fear that the Devil controlled his life. This made him an odd contradiction of confidence and unease; This unease is part of the Guilt Drawback, since Blaze did not exhibit anything like the Uncertainty Drawback.

To distract himself from these concerns, he avoided potentially depressing things such as alcohol (which gives him nightmares) and regularly indulged in innocuous delights such as decanters full of jellybeans, documentaries and comedic movies about monkeys, and the easy listening music of Karen Carpenter.

He sometimes faced his fear of Mephistopheles by studying occult texts, though these did not provide succor at the time and ended up being used to help prop bikes up as he repaired them; The information he accumulated from those books did prove valuable after he became the Rider, however.

After realizing that the Devil chose him for his skill rather than granting it, and finding redemption in taking ownership of the Ghost Rider identity, Blaze seems to have overcome the guilt stemming from his deal with the Devil, though this remains to be seen.

(In the extended cut DVD, it was further explained that While Johnny wanted to cure Barton Blaze’s cancer not just for his father’s sake but also because he could not run away with Roxanne in good conscience while his father was ill. In making his bargain with the devil, he was as concerned with his own future as he was with his father’s. This added to his guilt and further explained why he felt the need to separate himself from loved ones and friends.)


Quotes

Mack: “You should be taking a dirt nap after that ragdoll (crash) today.”
Johnny Blaze: “I got lucky.”
Mack: “I got a huntin’ dog named Lucky — he’s got one eye and no nuts. Luck don’t cover it, JB. Man, you got an angel looking after you.”
Blaze: “Yeah, maybe. Maybe it’s something else.”

Roxanne: “Most of the time the press focuses on the crashes, the broken bones, the costs of what you do. Are there any other costs ?”
Blaze: (After a long contemplative pause) “Yeah.”

Mack: (Panicked after seeing that Blaze intends to do a stunt jump over 6 Blackhawk helicopters) “Why, J.B. ? Why helicopters, man ?”
Blaze: “My dad thought it would be cool.”
Mack: (Sighs) “He was right.”
Blaze: “Yeah.”

Caretaker: (Speaking to Blaze after his first night as the Rider) “You all right ?”
Johnny Blaze: “Yeah, I’m good. I feel like my skull’s on fire, but I’m good.”

“Thanks for the info. I feel much better now that I know I’m the Devil’s bounty hunter.”

Blaze: “Now, you’re gonna have to trust me.”
Slade: “Why is that ?”
Blaze: “[The Devil] may have my soul, but he doesn’t have my spirit.”

Ghost Rider (Confronting a street criminal): “You. Guilty. Look into my eyes. Your soul is stained by the blood of the innocent. Feel their pain !” (Unleashes his Penance Stare)

(As Ghost Rider prepares to slay an air elemental) “Time to clear the air.”

Ghost Rider: (As he lassos a pursuing police helicopter with his chain) “YEEE-HAW! Come here !” (reels helicopter in) “You’re pissing me off !” (hammer-throws helicopter away with his chain)

“I’m the only one who can walk in both worlds. I’m the Ghost Rider.”

(Blaze, quoting his father as he rejects Mephistopheles) “You can’t live in fear.”


DC Universe History

During the events of Knightfall there was a time when no one held the title of Batman. During this period Nightwing, Robin, Huntress and others did their best to fill the gaps. The villain known as Scarecrow picked this time to unleash a particularly potent batch of his fear gas into the city via the sink-traps and drains of the city’s water.

Many of the weak-minded responded to this fear with violence. Gotham was more out of control than it would be at any other time up until the events of No-Man’s Land.

Johnny Blaze was in Gotham doing a stunt show during this time. Tim Drake figured out who Johnny was after the events depicted in the movie and, as Robin, approached the Rider for help.

Johnny, without confirming or denying he was the Ghost Rider, told Robin that he was not Batman and that was not why he was in the city. Even with that said, Johnny took his show bike out into the city and as Ghost Rider showed true fear to the drug-maddened citizens of Gotham.

As they were largely but not completely innocent, most were spared the full effects of the Penance Stare but the Rider’s presence was enough to make the populace retreat back into their homes rather than continue rioting. Nightwing and Robin also helped to calm the situation while the Huntress searched for Scarecrow.

By the time Jean Paul arrived in Gotham as the new Batman, the Huntress had arranged a meeting between Scarecrow and the Rider. It is not known what the effect on Scarecrow will be when he is revived from his Penance Stare-induced catatonia.

Later, while Etrigan was in Boston, the Rhyming Demon found himself in a tough quandary. Of two men, one had betrayed him to the Rhymer Lord and the other was his staunch defender. He had no way of telling which was which. Etrigan summoned the diabolic bounty hunter to him. Johnny denied the Demon to his face, claiming to be nothing but what he seemed.

Etrigan declared that if this was the case then Blaze was useless and belched his flames upon the stunt driver. Ghost Rider emerged from the flames but still refused to take part in Etrigan’s hunt.

Etrigan let him leave but, not to be thwarted, arranged nighttime encounters with both questionable men for Johnny. This exposed the traitor and the resulting conflict between Ghost Rider and the hidden manipulator, a Rapper Demon named RunDMiC, threatened to engulf the Back Bay.

RunDMiC’s power was overwhelming to even Ghost Rider’s colossal abilities; as even Rapper Demons have no soul the Penance Stare was of no value.

Luckily Etrigan had no such limits. Johnny drove away as the battle between the Rapper and the Rhymer faded into the higher realms and away from the physical world of men. He vowed to stay away from both kinds whenever possible.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Ghost Rider

Dex: 06 Str: 08 Bod: 09 Motivation: Responsibility of Power
Int: 05 Wil: 05 Min: 06 Occupation: Stunt Rider, the Devil’s bounty hunter
Inf: 04 Aur: 06 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 008
Init: 015 HP: 070

Powers:
Detect (Innocence/Guilt)(ML): 08, Flame Being (ML): 12, Invulnerability (ML): 07, Joined (ML): 06, Magic Blast: 08, Phobia: 14, Pyrotechnics: 03, Stretching: 02

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Detect has a Range of 2 APs (-1)
  • Flame Being is a heat aura which can be projected to a range of 0APs — the flames continuously wreathing the Ghost Rider’s skeleton are a mystic effect and normally do not burn anything they touch (+1)
  • Flame Being functions as normal underwater (+1)
  • Flame Being can be extended along Ghost Rider’s chain (+1)
  • Phobia does not create an image of the target’s greatest fear, but rather the pain they have inflicted on innocents — the OV of the target may thus be modified by how much or how little pain they have inflicted on innocent people at the GM’s discretion (+1)
  • Phobia can only be used on a single target with whom Ghost Rider is in close eye contact (usually face-to-face) (-1)
  • Phobia affects neither innocents nor soulless creatures such as demons (-1)
  • Magic Blast can only be used on targets paralyzed by Phobia (-2)
  • Pyrotechnics can only be used on targets brought to negative Current Mind Condition by Magic Blast and only affects their eyes (-2 total)
  • Stretching can only be used on Ghost Rider’s chain and only to extend its length (-4 total)

Skills:
Occultist (Occult Knowledge)*: 04, Vehicles (Specialization — Motorcycles): 08, Weaponry (Firearm, Melee, Missile)*: 06

Advantages:
Local Hero (Racing/Stunt Fans), Iron Nerves (Only when driving)

Connections:
Team Blaze (Low), Roxanne Simpson (High)

Drawbacks:
Alter Ego (see Controlling the Rider), Enemy (Blackheart and Mephistopheles alternately), Guilt (His father’s death), Strange Appearance

Genre:
Action

Equipment:

  • Chain [BODY 10, EV 03 (09 w/ STR)]
  • Grace [STR 03, BODY 05, Running: 06, R#: 02] which becomes…
  • …The Hellcycle [DEX 04, STR 05, BODY 12, INT 01, INF 01, SPI 12, Initiative: 006, Cling: 05, Flame Being: 02, Running: 08, Swimming: 06, Vehicles (Hellcycle)*: 04, Bonuses & Limitations: Flame Being functions as normal underwater (+1FC); Flame Being only applies to the Hellcycle’s tires (-2FC); Running speed is limited to APs of Cling while driving up walls (-1FC)]
  • Shotgun [BODY 04, Projectile Weapons: 07 (Diminishing), Range: 02, Ammo: 05, R#: 03, Advantage : Scattershot, Limitation: Projectile weapons has No Range – use the Range given next instead, Drawback: Long reload time] which becomes…
  • … The Hellgun [BODY 10, Flame Project: 12, Bonus: Flame Project is a bolt of hellfire rather than a stream of flame (+1 FC)]

Note:
Demons usually suffer a Partial Attack vulnerability of at least -2CS to RV versus hellfire.


Alter-Ego

As Johnny Blaze, he has all of the above stats except that STR and BODY drop to 03, he loses all Powers except Detect and Invulnerability, and he no longer has Strange Appearance. Blaze may eventually learn to use of powers of the Rider without transforming (see Powers and Abilities for details).

Blaze spent much of the movie in a Power Complication Subplot. When the Rider first manifested Johnny was compelled to do the Devil’s bidding and only vaguely remembered what happened to him during his escapades. He also had extreme difficulty holding the transformation back when he wanted to do so.

By the end of the film Johnny has full control of the Ghost Rider persona and can manifest it at will so long as the usual conditions are met or suppress it despite those conditions if he chooses. This can be seen as him buying down the Alter Ego Drawback from Uncontrolled to Controlled.


Penance Stare

The Rider’s Penance Stare, his ability to make the guilty feel the pain they have inflicted others, is a combination of several Powers. The first is Phobia, which is used as noted above in Bonuses and Limitations.

If the target is paralyzed by Phobia the Rider can then attack with Magic Blast and finally Pyrotechnics as described above. The OV for Pyrotechnics is usually 0 since the target will likely be paralyzed by that point.

By Mike Winkler and Roy Cowan

Source of Character: Ghost Rider (2007 movie), character played by Nicolas Cage

Helper(s): Adam Fuqua, KalEl el Vigilante, Eric Langendorff, Sébastien Andrivet

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