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Joe Public (Batman Bloodlines) (DC Comics) crouching

Joe Public


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game
  • “Joe Public” is a phrase for an ordinary person, a random Joe from the public – an everyman.

Background

  • Real Name: Unrevealed
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed
  • Known Relatives: None
  • Group Affiliation: None
  • Base Of Operations: Gotham City’s East Side
  • Height: 5’11” Weight: 175 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Blond


Powers and Abilities

Joe Public can drain the strength of persons around him and reinforce his own might for a while. What usually happens is that he boosts his Physical Attributes (DEX, STR and BODY) while the persons around him feel very weak and fall to 0 DEX and 0 STR, perhaps even having difficulties to remain standing.

Such a drain is often short-lived – Joe Public can only drain 2 APs of STR from most persons, and these will be restored after but 2 APs of time. But given enough person “backing him up”, or the presence of powerful athletes or superhumans, Joe can achieve markedly superhuman levels of strength, speed and durability.

However, using this power seems painful and disconcerting (especially on superhumans and non-humans), and Joe doesn’t quite understand how it works and how to trigger it. It was pretty much his last-ditch weapon, despite the fact that with more experience, control and knowledge it could easily win fights.

Experience eventually allowed for using his power in basic brawls, though that still required careful concentration.

Other abilities

Beyond his power, Joe doesn’t have much going for him. He’s fit and athletic, but not to a remarkable degree – he just spends a lot of time practising various sports. While he can do some athletic stunts, he has no combat training and next to no experience in skills critical to a vigilante.

However, at one point he grabbed the trunk of a small, dead tree to hit an opponent with, which requires considerable physical strength. Perhaps he has a background in a sport requiring lots of raw strength and muscle, such as gridiron football. Perhaps this muscle is what led him to assume that he could be a vigilante.

After gaining his powers Joe seemed more agile and could reliably perform standard rooftop-and-swingline acrobatics – his Acrobatics went from a 3 to a 4. He got himself a swingline, which he used competently even in difficult condition (such as rain).

Though Joe is out of his depth as a vigilante – never mind a super-hero – he thrives in a team context. He is experienced in team sports and as a coach, and this translates fairly well to some aspect of working with a group of supers.

He knows how to take charge, give pep talks, encourage teamwork and the like ; he even seems to have Leadership, though his low amount of HPs means that he can only contribute a few points here and there.


History

Despite living and working in Gotham’s East Side, “Joe Public” is an idealist, wanting the society to be a better and kinder place. This might be why he chose to become a teacher. Not seeing himself as an academic, he focused on being a physical education teacher, working in a East Side high school.

In 1993, a group of senior students there procured pills of XTC from a street pusher and went partying. As it turned out one of the seniors, one Tommy Vance, had an heart defect and went into fatal cardiac arrest. His phys-ed teacher was devastated.

He started tracking down the pusher and investigating who was his supplier. Over several weeks of amateur sleuthing, he determined that the E had been coming from minor crime lord Happy Jack’s ring.

The teacher threw together a super-hero-ish costume with a patriotic theme, hoping that luck and his good but not exceptional physical condition would carry the day against hardened, armed criminals. His attempts to storm Happy Jack’s yacht in the harbour actually went pretty far.

However, he coincidentally intervened right as Batman was boarding the yacht to interrogate Happy Jack, and this led to Happy Jack escaping after stunning both vigilantes with his special electric pistol.

Though Batman chewed him out and told him to stop acting like a vigilante, Joe Public had spotted Happy Jack throwing a suitcase as he fled, and assumed that he would come back for it. He waited in ambush, and was proved right. However, he and the drugs lord were then attacked by a newcomer.

Public good

A number of alien “parasites” were then operating on Earth, killing innocents and feeding off their spinal fluid. One of the monsters in Gotham spotted the two men and snatched them, then flew to the small desert island where it held spare food.

The drugs dealer was killed and the amateur vigilante was overpowered, with the alien draining his spinal fluid and leaving him for dead.

As happens in about 1% of cases, the teacher not only somehow survived, but exposure to the alien’s metabolism gave him super-powers. Spotting the unconscious Joe, two other Gotham vigilantes tracking down the alien – Batman and Pagan – tried to drag him to safety, but they and the other humans on the island were soon overpowered by the parasite.

To his surprise, Joe instinctively absorbed the strength of all humans around him and engaged the alien in melee. He fared well, and when he realised that his power was waning used one of the throwing stars on his costume to wound his opponent and force it to flee.

Though victorious, and having received a quick explanation about how his power likely worked from Batman, Joe Public was shaken and considered abandoning his vigilante pursuits.

However, the situation with the alien parasites escalated to all-out war. Upon learning that about 25 survivors had gained powers from alien attacks, President Clinton called for them to volunteer and help. Only seven – plus Lionheart, a British citizen on US soil – responded.

These were Slingshot, Shadowstryke, Krag, Argus, Ballistic, Geist and Joe Public. Joe helped coordinate some of the younger superhumans on the scene, and the humans ultimately won.

False starts

Perhaps inspired by this, Joe Public made another attempt at street vigilantism. However he still lacked the right stuff for this type of work and didn’t quite know how to use his powers. Another New Blood, Geist, met with him to join forces and they tried to approach the Justice League.

Two aggressive New Bloods (the villainous Wildman and the vaguely more benign Loose Cannon) involved themselves in the situation, and the resulting fray led both Joe Public and Geist to the conclusion that they weren’t cut for superhuman fights.

For a few months, Joe Public nevertheless tried to help with local crises that looked manageable, as he felt that he should do *something* with his power. He also stopped a few muggers, feeling proud to make a difference even if it was just for a few people.

When the psychotic Deke Mitchel – aka the Corrosive Man – escaped, Joe Public tried to respond. Batman (Jean-Paul Valley) also responded and kept verbally berating Joe for his inexperience. Nevertheless it was Joe Public who won the fight by Draining the very painful powers of the Corrosive Man as long as he could, making it possible for Batman to stop Mitchel.

Joe Public hasn’t been seen since.


Description

See illustration.


Personality

Joe Public is an idealist, appalled by greed and predatory behaviour, and he’d like to do his part. He holds a certain anger within him about how evil some people act, and how society leaves so many issues to fester and people to rot. He also understands the good that heroes can do in a comic book world.

However, going from these feelings to action is way more difficult than he hoped it would, and Joe Public has gradually come to realise that he simply isn’t cut for superhuman crises or the tenser sort of police work.

The little successes he scrounged along the way made him realise that it was mostly a matter of training and being taught, but weirdly enough nobody ever showed interested in helping him develop his abilities.

There’s something in Joe Public’s values and way to speak that somehow always remember people of a high school teacher they knew as teenagers – a well-meaning mentor type who goes rather long on positive platitudes and rehearsed phrases about morals.

That doesn’t make Joe sound like an idiot, more like a stock character from a dated movie about baseball or somesuch.

Joe Public clearly sees himself as working class and a physical type rather than an intellectual, and seems to have a low opinion about his intelligence. This doesn’t seem supported by his actual abilities, as he appeared to be reasonably bright and observant.

Though his costume is rife with patriotic themes (eagles, stars, tricolour shields, military fatigues and combat boots, etc.) his dialogue and behaviour didn’t indicate any special nationalistic fervour. One gets the impression that he felt that a heroic costume needed to bear some symbols, and the only thing that came to mind that looked cool and he could be proud of were those of the United States.

Joe seemed pugnacious, but mostly in the long term. As the heroes he ran into kept acting like jerks and he didn’t get traction, he was visibly crestfallen and decided to give up on several occasions, but within weeks he came back to wanting to help people and putting his ability to good use.


Quotes

“This is what you’re looking for, scumball ? I knew your greed would bring you back ! Bloodsucker ! Peddling dope to school kids… you ought to be executed as a favour to humanity !”

“You’re Mongrel, right ? I’m not asking you to stop fighting this thing, I’m asking you to fight it together. Teamwork, my friend ! By combining your talents, you’ll find that you may complement each other in unanticipated ways.”

“All I ever wanted was to be a good teacher, maybe have a team in the national school football league.”

“I’d… kind of like to press on. It feels good, helping people. Say ! Would you be willing to teach me ? I’m not rich, but I could afford to pay you something.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Joe Public

Dex: 03 Str: 04 Bod: 03 Motivation: Uphold the Good
Int: 03 Wil: 03 Min: 03 Occupation: Teacher
Inf: 02 Aur: 03 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 003
Init: 008 HP: 015

Powers:
Power Drain: 12

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Power Drain can affects Physical Powers, DEX and STR
  • APs Drained from Physical Attributes can be assigned to any of Joe’s Physical Attributes
  • Joe Public cannot augment his DEX by more than 2 CSes
  • Power Drain is always resisted by APs/APs of the Power or Attribute being Drained
  • The Drained persons recover the Drained APs as Joe Public loses them, not through Recovery
  • Power Drain can either have an Area of Effect (0 APs radius) or a Range (3 APs), though it presumably can also be used as a Touch Range Power
  • Power Drain has the Multi-Attack 2 Bonus when attempting to Multi-Attack Powers and/or Attributes and/or persons
  • Draining a Physical Power carries a Minor Marginal Limitation
  • Draining from persons who are not human beings carries a Minor Marginal Limitation, which stacks with the Physical Power one
  • Joe Public has no training in how to use Drained APs of Powers, and will likely be unable to achieve much with these unless their use is simple and instinctive

Skills:
Acrobatics (Athletics, Climbing): 04, Weaponry (Thrown): 04

Advantages:
Leadership

Connections:
None demonstrated

Drawbacks:
Uncertainty

Equipment:

  • Visor [BODY 01, Shade: 01]. Huge late-1980s-style mirrorshade.
  • Stars (x4) [BODY 03, EV 03]. These are large edged projectiles carried on his costume. The largest are the size of a Frisbee.
  • Joe bought himself a super-hero-style swingline – a pistol-shaped projector shooting a retractile line with some sort of piton – and a police band scanner to help with neighbourhood patrols.

Design Notes

Most New Bloods have relatively few appearances, and thus end up with some generic-ish scores since there’s not enough material to benchmark them further. Though the Power may seem detailed, it’s not based on extensive observation (there’s way too little material) but on quick math to represent the two documented uses.


By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: DC Universe (Bloodline annuals)

Writeup completed on the 24th of September, 2011.

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