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Izabel the Horror (Saga comics Image)

Izabel the Horror


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

Context

Saga is published by Image Comics since 2012. It is an exotic space opera with an ensemble cast. The main theme is parenthood and raising children in a dangerous, semi-decadent universe with crappy politics. Saga met with rare commercial and critical success.

Our Saga profiles currently stop with issue #18 (the end of the third trade collection), and have plenty of S P O I L E R S for this excellent (and beautifully drawn) series. They include a lot of hypotheticals, since the book doesn’t do background explanations.


The Saga setting in brief

Saga is a science-fantasy setting with strong planetary romance elements, the core theme being parenthood and child-raising. The kitchen-sink nature of the setting is reminiscent of tabletop RPG milieux, and the tone is close to some Francophone sci-fi comics books – with a certain Star Wars ambiance on top.


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The key powers in the setting are Landfall, a giant planet, and its moon Wreath. Both are inhabited by humanoids species, but total war has been waged between the two for a long, long time.

The people of Landfall have formed the Coalition. They are very much like Humans but with wings, which resemble those of a variety of Earth animals. The people of Wreath have formed the Narrative. They are almost as close to Humans, but have horns (also based on various Earth animals) and lopping rabbit-like ears.

Coalition forces use advanced technology of the spaceships-and-blasters sort, whereas Narrative forces use magic. The two seem roughly matched.

Direct battle gave way to proxy wars as the conflict became a centuries-long quagmire without an end in sight. The Coalition and the Narrative are powerful and extremely rich, and apparently found it easy to turn people on other planets into client states and mercenaries.

Though the galaxy is a vibrant and diverse place with dozens of advanced humanoid species (mostly based on Earth animals), it was shaped by the Coalition/Narrative conflict much like Earth during the Cold War.


Powers & Abilities

Izabel exists as a sort of immaterial ectoplasm. Being a ghost, she can ignore physical obstacles and assaults, but remains vulnerable to magical ones. She doesn’t seem to require sustenance, but needs to sleep.


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Her main weapon is illusion – either changing her own shape or casting spells that disguise or alter the scenery. Her kind favours gory illusions involving carnage and monsters to scare people away, but is also capable of working on more subtle camouflage.

Even badasses like The Stalk could be fooled, though people with extensive familiarity with magical illusions may not be – and machines are very unlikely to be affected.

Izabel once demonstrated some sort of mind-probing ability, as she could produce an illusion of what Lying Cat was most afraid of (a bit like Mirage (Danielle Moonstar)).

As a Cleave ghost she has 2 main limitations.

  • She cannot leave her planet without anchoring herself to a living being born on Cleave – which she did with Hazel.
  • She also cannot exist by day, retreating into her host during that time and sleeping. As was pointed out, what constitutes “day” can be nebulous given the many and varied stars out there.

Izabel face closeup

Izabel is a very capable babysitter. Though her appearance is unchanged since her death she has a tonne of unlife experience, making her far more knowledgeable, competent and assertive than she appears to be at first glance. She possesses what reasonably can be called wisdom.

She also knows quite a few things about the world outside Cleave – how she gained this knowledge is unknown. For instance she knew about robot nobles or lying cats, though lying cats could conceivably be from Cleave.


History

Izabel is from the minor planet Cleave, which was an early battlefield when the Narrative/Coalition war spilled out of its native solar system. Cleave was apparently a fantasy-type magical world, with various naïve-sounding elements one would associate with a fantasy story for young teenagers – or perhaps a Little Nemo in Slumberland  story.

Cleave was utterly ravaged by the war, and the native population seems to be basically extinct. The planet has long since ceased to have a real strategic value, though a resource named “gunpowder fields” retains some importance.

A childlike map of Cleave

A map of an area of Cleave.

These are mostly controlled by the Coalition, but by the time of the Saga story some small-scale Narrative forces were mounting an effort to retake some of it.

Cleave was considered a shitty posting – devastated, unimportant, barely explored and haunted by something fearfully called “the horrors”. These unidentified creatures were said to horribly massacre and torture the unwary, making Cleave extra-dangerous.

The quick and the dead

Izabel is the daughter of a couple who ran with the resistance – the Cleave natives who unsuccessfully fought the alien invaders. She herself wasn’t political, but was killed anyway when she stepped on a random landmine.

Izabel died when she was, in Human terms, about 16. She mentioned that she had barely begun to discover life – Izabel had known but a single tentative romance with a girl her age, which crashed and burned due to her lover’s religious background.

Feeling bitter about her premature death and the war, Izabel wasn’t really interested in haunting the invaders using ghastly illusions like “the horrors” — actually the more patriotically-inclined ghosts — did.

Tales of forbidden love

Izabel and a small group of dead kids from her village stumbled upon a fleeing couple and their baby, right in a haunted forest. This is how she met Alana, Marko and little Hazel. The ghosts’ arrival also saved the fugitives from deadly bounty hunter The Stalk. Both parents wore magical translation rings, which allowed them to communicate with the ghosts.

Izabel kvetching

Between this unprecedented opportunity to communicate, and the fact that the baby was presumably born on Cleave, Izabel saw a once-in-a-deathtime opening to leave Cleave. She offered her services as a baby-sitter, and strong-armed Alana into allowing her to use Hazel as her anchor in return for helping her find components for a healing spell for Marko.

With her knowledge of Cleave, Izabel was invaluable in helping the young family flee off-planet. Though she could exist at night, she was also an important helper — albeit things did not necessarily go smoothly.


Description

Cleave ghosts appear as blood-red spectres, and look just like they were when they died – so they often sport ghastly wounds. In Izabel’s case everything below the hips was blown off, leaving part of her viscera to trail off.

The natives look quite human, though they have a much flatter nose and much larger ears. The clothing Izabel and her fellows wear is very much what you’d expect somewhat fashionable kids in a large American town to wear during the late 1990s.


Personality

Izabel seems to be in her late teens, though she’s actually far more mature than that. She’s sassy and pragmatic, with a strong common sense and a preference for sarcasm.

Izabel is clearly hiding quite a few things about herself. But she’s such a bubbly friend and devoted baby-sitter that everybody is pleased to have her around and forgets to ask questions. The ghost also seems very much benign, and has a clear interest in making little Hazel happy and helping the family overcome life’s difficulties.

Like many Saga characters, Izabel would be right at home among the younger middle class crowd in an creative/artistic/alternative area of a large US city. It’s the general social tone for the series’ core characters.


Quotes

“After us locals die, we get to live on…” (Izabel airquotes) “…as ’spiritual defenders of Cleave‘. But clearly, that’s a suck-ass evolutionary plan, since your two armies had no problem wiping our people off the map.”

“Your baby’s not hungry, she’s gassy. You’ve been burping her all wrong. You gotta get right between the wingtips with the flat of your palm. Don’t be afraid to really whack the crap out of her.”

Izabel discussing with Alana

“Shit, you lifers believe everything you see. Us floaty types are masters of misdirection, remember ?”

“Hold on, we’re seriously going home with the strange man who just puked all over an infant ?”

“Are you seriously trying to educate me about the costs of war ? You realize I’m fucking *dead*, correct ?”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Izabel

Dex: 02 Str: 00 Bod: 00 Motivation: Unrevealed
Int: 04 Wil: 05 Min: 04 Occupation: Spectre, babysitter
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 010 HP: 005

Powers:
Illusion: 06, Mind probe: 06, Self-Link (Spirit Travel): 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Self-Link (Spirit Travel) is Always On.
  • Illusion doesn’t affect machine-like mind and is resisted by Powers such as Magic Field or Iron Will.
  • Mind probe is presumably limited to finding material for a scary illusion tailored to her target.

Skills:
Occultist (Occult knowledge): 02, Thief (Stealth): 04

Advantages
Area Knowledge (Cleave), Familiarity (Baby-sitting).

Connections:
Horrors of Cleave (Low), Hazel’s family (High).

Genre:
Real.

Drawbacks:
Misc.: Izabel cannot exist during day ; Misc.: Izabel can only leave Cleave if bound to a living person born there ; Misc.: Izabel only knows her native tongue, and cannot communicate with other folks unless she’s within range of some sort of translation device.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Saga #1-23. Saga is a science fiction/fantasy comic book series by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples and published by Image Comics.

Helper(s): Darci, Ethan Roe.

Writeup completed on the 30th of September, 2014.

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