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Superman (Kaleb from Legends of the Dead Earth) (DC Comics) flying

Superman

(Kaleb)


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

Context

This is the Superman from a far future, who appeared in the Legends of the Dead Earth Superman Annuals in 1996.


Background

  • Real Name: Kaleb
  • Marital Status: Married (Kaleb and Lang were never stated to have been officially married, but their relationship appeared to be that of a married couple for all intents and purposes)
  • Known Relatives: Lang (wife), unnamed son
  • Group Affiliation: The Rebellion
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile ; formerly Hydros
  • Height: 6’3” Weight: 235 lbs
  • Note: Height and weight are estimates based side-by-side comparison between Kaleb and and Kal-El.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Light Brown


Powers and Abilities

Though he is not a Kryptonian, Kaleb demonstrates most of the same abilities at similar levels once exposed to stellar radiation. He possesses vast strength, durability, flight speed, and is able to fire beams of heat from his eyes.

Unlike Kryptonians, Kaleb can also fire concussive blasts from his hands. Furthermore, he has learned how to open up warps in space-time that allow him to instantaneously traverse interstellar distances. Those warp-holes can also be used to observe others from afar without their knowledge.

Even in his very first battle with his powers, when he had only been charged up to 24% of his full capacity, Kaleb was capable of engaging imperial military starships one-on-one. At this stage he could still be overwhelmed by multiple such vessels, particularly when they were armed with weaponry specifically designed to exploit his weaknesses.

Now that he has reached full capacity and become proficient with his powers, he is routinely capable of crippling three cruisers or a single battleship within seconds. He simply punches through their center-of-mass at top flight speed.

Other assets

His early life as a fisherman on the primitive world Hydros left Kaleb with extensive experience as a mariner and fisherman. It also gave him a high degree of general athletic skill. The rebellion provided the necessary knowledge and skills for Kaleb to properly coordinate his actions with other rebel military forces.

His ability to adapt quickly to the profound changes in his life demonstrate an overall high intelligence and mental fortitude.

Visitor from Another Planet, part 1

Hydros’s sun was red with a slight magenta tinge, as were Kaleb’s eye-beams and many of the energy attacks used by Luthor’s forces (which were apparently specifically intended to exploit weaknesses of Kryptonian-like superhumans).

I am assuming for purposes of this writeup that these radiation wavelengths fall under the general umbrella of “red sun radiation.” This is thematically similar to Kryptonians and Daxamites, both of whom were powerless under red sunlight and fired red beams from their eyes.

It may be easier for GMs using this character to simply write off the magenta tinge as a creative team error and assume the energies in question were plain red.

“Green hydrosite” was never referred to as such in the stories. However, the unnamed material was derived from core elements of Hydros just as green kryptonite was derived from core elements of Krypton, so our suggested name seemed apt.

When Kaleb appeared in the present day, rays simulating green kryptonite affected him in the same manner as green hydrosite, which might suggest that the materials and their effects are as generic as the varieties of red sunlight above.

Visitor from Another Planet, part 2

However, that same simulated kryptonite, refined by subsequent experimentation on Kaleb and then later refined again using samples of Superman’s DNA, would only weaken Superman temporarily. To confuse the issue further, Dominus later stated that the simulated green kryptonite would have worked had he not secretly sabotaged the research.

GMs can go two different directions with this, depending on their campaign needs. To use green hydrosite and green kryptonite as interchangeable materials, the simulated kryptonite can be assumed to be an accurate recreation from the beginning with Dominus’s sabotage taking place soon after it was first developed.

If the GM would prefer the two materials to be distinct instead, then the simulated kryptonite is assumed to be inaccurately replicated at first in a way that coincidentally duplicated green hydrosite. Dominus only intervened when Luthor got closer to properly simulating green kryptonite while using Superman’s DNA for his later research.

In the latter scenario, green hydrosite only weakens those vulnerable to kryptonite for but a phase or two before they can throw off its effects, and vice versa.


History

In the far distant future, humanity had spread to many systems throughout the stars. Most of those worlds fell under the dominion of the Empire, centered on the planet Metro-Pole and led by Lex Luthor the 60th. The Emperor was in fact the original Lex Luthor of the 20th Century, reborn again and again in successive clone bodies.

Luthor suspected that his arch-enemy Superman still lived somewhere in the universe, for his enemy had been believed dead before only to return anew. He thus had his armies pursuing the “Krypton Protocol.”

They scoured space for any planets that might host humanoids similar to Kryptonians, humanoids that had the potential to develop superpowers when exposed to sufficiently powerful stellar radiation.

When such worlds were discovered, Luthor’s legions would descend upon them and eradicate every person living there. In part, this was because Luthor assumed Superman must be living somewhere like his native Krypton that negated his powers – otherwise his old foe would never have let Luthor’s plans get so far.

But it also removed the potential threat of other Kryptonian-level powerhouses taking up the never-ending battle themselves.

Chronological note

The era in which these events take place is not specified, but there are some clues for reaching a tentative number. There are 59 Luthor clones at the start of the first story, assuming original Luthor was Luthor the 1st, and Luthor the 60th is an elderly man.

The clones are artificially aged to adulthood and Luthor inhabits each body until it is about ready to die of natural causes due to the difficulty of making the transfer. This allows him 60-80 years per clone, though some clones may have died early for various reasons. Luthor’s advanced technology might also extend the age of each clone.

These basic numbers could place Luthor the 60th’s era anywhere from the 40th to 50th Century.

The Rebellion

The rebels opposing Luthor’s brutal regime learned of the Krypton Protocol. They sought to use it for the very end that Luthor strove to prevent: finding a hero who could topple his empire. Though the rebels did not know the parameters of the Krypton Protocol, they were able to get a list of such planets known by the empire.

36 teams were sent to try and retrieve suitable candidates from those worlds before the empire arrived. 35 of them were too late and destroyed in the attempt.

Superman (Kaleb) flying in space

The 36th team arrived at Hydros concurrently with the Empire’s forces. Hydros was a relatively primitive waterworld with no knowledge of life off-world until that moment. The rebel team managed to find the last remaining Hydrosian, a fisherman named Kaleb, as he fled Luthor’s armored troops.

The imperial troops’ attack on the team convinced Kaleb that they were allies. He risked his life to save a wounded rebel agent, Lang, though he himself was injured while retrieving her. The rebels then spirited Kaleb away from Hydros.

Last survivor of a doomed world

Charging the wounded Kaleb with stellar energy quickly healed him. This also proved Luthor’s theories correct as he began to exhibit abilities similar to the original Superman’s.

The rebels told Kaleb of the Empire, the Krypton Protocols, and the legend of Superman. They then asked him to assume the identity of Superman to not only fight the Empire but also inspire those who would stand with the rebellion. Kaleb accepted the burden.

As Superman, Kaleb began with attacks against isolated imperial forces and outposts. He developed his proficiency with his growing powers and letting rumors of his fight against the Empire spread. Soon he moved to more populous areas, inflicting major losses against the Empire and inspiring more and more of its citizens to join the rebellion as they remembered and retold the legend of Superman.

Kaleb also began a romance with Lang, one of his closest colleagues among the rebellion and one of the few people with whom he could simply be himself.

In an attempt to strike directly at the heart of the Empire, the rebels planned a more subtle mission than usual for Superman. He assumed the role of a regular citizen competing to join the elite Imperial Guard. The intent was for Kaleb to eventually let his cover slip, be taken prisoner, and inevitably be brought before the gloating egomaniacal Luthor.

The rebellion believed this to be the only way Superman would be able to get close to the Emperor.

Down with Luthor!

Though he was exposed sooner than planned, the plot worked as the rebels thought it would. This was in part because the somewhat senile Luthor believed that Kaleb was the original Superman and was foolish enough to blunder in alone. A team of rebel assassins got in and free Kaleb. Superman then kept Luthor’s protective forces occupied while they attempted to take the Emperor out.

They had underestimated Luthor’s defenses, which included a powerful personal force field and a green hydrosite ray. The rebels were ultimately forced to flee, but not before Kaleb destroyed the new clone body Luthor had almost finished growing.

The battle between the rebellion and the Empire raged on. Luthor was now desperate to stop the rebels. His clone bodies took years to prepare. Thus, he was afraid that they would be able to mount a second assassination attempt before he could prepare a new body to transfer to.

Superman then manifested a new ability to generate spatial warps, allowing him to instantly transit between stars and thus conduct his campaigns against the Empire with even greater celerity.

More Kryptonian-like recruits?

The rebellion also acquired the parameters of the Krypton Protocol. Thus, they identified a new as-yet-unnamed world undiscovered by the Empire from which they could recruit an entire super-army.

Debate raged about the use of the Protocols. Some rebels desired the reinforcements, which could bring the Empire down in days. Others feared the possibility of such powerful beings becoming oppressive monarchs in their own right. They preferred to follow Luthor’s policies.

The debate was finally settled by Kaleb, who noted that either dragging the people of that primitive agrarian world into a war they knew nothing about or exterminating them all as a potential threat would make the rebels the same as the empire. Instead, he convinced the rebels to simply conceal the existence of that world and let them find their own destiny.

Some time later, shortly before the final assault that would bring the Empire to its end, Kaleb and Lang travelled to that same planet, landing in secret well away from any natives. Lang was now pregnant. The had doctors advised her to have the baby there where it would not yet have any powers that could complicate the birth.

This also served as an idyll for Kaleb and Lang before the final battle. Both had been fighting without respite for their entire time with the rebellion. They planned for their future together after the end of the Empire, on the planet now called Solitude. (Superman: The Man of Steel Annual #5)

Could it be the last push?

Despite the rebellion’s optimism about the last push to topple the Empire, Lex won the day through treachery. Now housed on his latest clone, Luthor the Sixty-First crushed the rebellion and resumed his Krypton Protocols. The few surviving rebels pinned their last hopes on sending Kaleb into the past, using technology based on Kaleb’s spatial warping ability.

Kaleb’s arrival in modern-day Metropolis was inadvertently presaged by the appearance of other anachronisms. These futuristic attack vessels and dinosaurs that rampaged briefly before returning to their native times. Kaleb eventually arrived in Metropolis and tracked Luthor down… only to be blocked in his assassination attempt by the original Superman.

The two Supermen had a brief, relatively even fight before Luthor had Kaleb subdued with rays simulating green kryptonite radiation. This radiation coincidentally had a yellow glow similar to Kaleb’s time-warps. This obscured that Kaleb had not returned to his own time as it seemed.

He had been blasted and then spirited away by Luthor’s men through a hole torn in the street during the preceding fight. Luthor later gloated over Kaleb, whose unconscious body now rested in a containment tube. Lex saw the event as confirmation that he would live far into the future and rule the entire universe. (Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #11)

Trapped in the distant past!

For the next few months Luthor’s scientists continued to refine their simulated green kryptonite. They used Kaleb as a test subject while still keeping him unconscious at all times to prevent any escape attempts. This project, dubbed Operation: Greenlight, was assisted by the Department of Extranormal Operations (DEO). They wanted some means to stop Superman should he become a public menace.

While the simulated kryptonite actually worked, the powerful entity Dominus surreptitiously tampered with the final result. Dominus insured that it had little effect on Superman, as he needed the Man of Steel alive for his own insidious plot.

Unaware of Dominus’s sabotage, Luthor continued his efforts to make the simulated kryptonite work. He now used samples of Superman’s DNA taken from S.T.A.R. Labs by the DEO.

Superman’s actions became increasingly drastic due to Dominus’s mental influence. He eventually traced the simulated kryptonite back to Luthor. Superman got rid of the remaining stock of replicated kryptonite and the lab by throwing the top half of Lexcorp Tower into orbit.

Luthor made one last effort to destroy Superman using the simulated kryptonite. He contrived to have the lab fall from orbit onto the Fortress of Solitude. However, Dominus’s tampering ensured that even the large supply of faux kryptonite in the lab was only sufficient to weaken the Man of Steel.

Superman eventually overcame Dominus’s influence. Soon afterward, Luthor’s efforts to simulate kryptonite were quashed by the DEO. The DEO believed that the effects of Luthor’s replicated kryptonite might have contributed to Superman’s delusional state under Dominus’s influence.

Furthermore, the DEO noted that Dominus’s tampering had hopelessly corrupted the available data. Further testing along those lines was now moot (“Superman – King of the World” storyline).


Possible later events

Once Luthor abandoned Kaleb as a test subject in favor of using Superman’s DNA samples, no further mention of him was ever made in the story itself. A subsequent letters page editorial response indicated that Kaleb was believed dead, with the caveat that nothing was confirmed yet.

(The following is a suggested addition to Kaleb’s history to address that open plot point and provide some opportunities to use Kaleb in campaigns.)

Team Superman

Kaleb’s containment tube, which was also stored in the kryptonite lab, was shattered when Lexcorp Tower fell upon the Fortress of Solitude. The radiation from the various forms of simulated kryptonite present weakened Kaleb enough to keep him unconscious for some time afterward. After the radiation had faded, he awoke and escaped the wreckage.

Kaleb was wary of engaging Luthor directly again after his previous defeat. Instead, he sought out Kal-El to reconcile with him and seek his advice and assistance. Superman was still rebuilding the public’s trust in him in the wake of his Dominus-influenced world takeover. He asked Kaleb to work alongside him, hoping that the future Superman would see the potential dangers of unilateral action.

While this indeed cause Kaleb to reconsider his original plan to simply assassinate Luthor, he also pointed out to Superman that his unusually sweeping actions had in fact accomplished some positive ends (Based on the “Superman – Rebuilding Trust” storyline).

Soon afterward, Kaleb acquitted himself well as a member of “Team Superman” (which also included Superboy, Supergirl, and Steel) in their battle against the Anti-Hero. The Anti-Hero was an extraterrestrial who liked to capture powerful heroes through the universe and steal their powers before torturing and killing them. He had taken Superman as his latest trophy and only through Team Superman’s efforts was Kal-El saved (Based on Team Superman #1).

Afterward, Kaleb asked the grateful Superman and his friends to help him with a new plan to alter the future. Kaleb had come to realize that killing Luthor would wreak havoc with the thousands of years of history between the modern day and his era, with unknown but possibly even worse results than those Kaleb already feared.

Coming up with a plan

Furthermore, Kaleb had consulted with time travelers Booster Gold and Rip Hunter about the problem while trying to find a means for time travel now that his vest was gone. They both suggested that such profound attempts to alter the timeline might well be undone by the elastic nature of history.

Simply put, sometimes history had an inertia of sorts and changes that altered the flow of events too drastically might be undone or even prevented ab initio by various means.

Instead Kaleb asked his new friends to accompany him back to the future on the eave of the final assault. With their help, he hoped to keep Luthor’s treachery from completely undermining the rebellion. Kaleb believed that this more subtle change would avoid any of the major issues that might arise from tampering with the timeline.

Despite their initial misgivings about changing history even in this limited way, Superman and the others ultimately agreed to Kaleb’s plan but insisted on doing so covertly to further minimize the effects of their presence.

Superman (Kaleb) spying through a warp

The team used technology borrowed from Rip Hunter to travel to Kaleb’s era. Returning to the future as the rebel fleet closed around Luthor’s capital world of Metropole, Team Superman went to war. Kaleb, Superman, and Supergirl intervened directly, never staying in one place long enough for anyone to get a good look at them.

Fight for the future

This allowed them all to be mistaken for the Kaleb of that time. This ruse was made all the easier as Kaleb was known to rapidly warp from one location to another during engagements, so his apparently being in multiple places at once was not particularly remarkable.

Meanwhile, Steel and Superboy snuck about using their respective abilities of technical prowess and tactile telekinesis to sabotage imperial ships and to foil sabotage attempts by traitors among the rebellion. (If the traitors were acting under some means of coercion, such as having family members held hostage by the Empire, Steel and/or Superboy might have instead worked to resolve that situation so the traitors were no longer under duress.)

While the rebellion’s forces were still routed as they had been originally, the defeat was no longer devastating enough to completely reverse the tide of war. The weakened rebellion was still able to oppose the Empire on even terms.

The survival of the rebellion also meant that Kaleb’s family was no longer lost to him. Their mission accomplished, Team Superman returned to their own time immediately afterward.

The never-ending battle

The older Kaleb quickly met with his younger counterpart in private, telling him what had happened and wishing his younger counterpart well. As the changes in the timeline took effect, the two Kaleb’s merged. The younger Kaleb remained, but now had the older Kaleb’s memories of their alternate future. With hope for victory still alive, Kaleb returned to the never-ending battle.

As the Empire continues the Krypton Protocols, it is possible that Solitude or other newly-discovered planets could be drawn into the war. Once the Empire intervened, Kaleb’s non-interference policy would likely become one of direct intervention to help the people of those worlds. He might well recruit his own Team Superman from particularly promising candidates.


Description

Kaleb is a handsome young white male with a shoulder-length mane of wavy hair and a strong but not quite square jaw. He has a muscular build with broad shoulders. His preferred civilian garb is tight-fitting athletic wear that leaves most or all of his limbs bare.

As Superman he wears a version of the original Superman’s outfit slightly modified for a more futuristic/military bearing. When Kaleb flies he is surrounded by a nimbus of yellow energy with red sparkles that trails behind him. Kaleb’s space warps and the concussive blasts from his hands have the same visual effect.


Personality

In classical heroic tradition, Kaleb began as an Everyman of simple circumstances, respected for being a capable and hardworking fisherman and brave enough to risk his life without hesitation to help a stranger even as everything he knew was being torn asunder.

Though he was appalled by the carnage the empire had wrought on his world, Kaleb’s first instinct was not to seek revenge but to use his powers to find a new home away from that same violence. This thought passed almost as soon as it had formed, for Kaleb realized that to do so would be to abandon others to suffer the same fate.

Though Kaleb recognizes in the abstract that carrying the banner of Superman gave the subject of the Empire hope, he is motivated on a more direct personal level by his love for Lang. He had become infatuated with he at first sight. He came to respect her all the more as they worked together to plan strategies and tactics for rebel actions.

Perhaps most importantly, when he is with her, he can simply be Kaleb and not Superman.

Though Kaleb had a general reverence for life similar to the original Superman’s, he did not consider battlefield killings or assassinations out of line as part of his work for the rebellion.

When he first fled Hydros, Kaleb tended to use many marine-related references in his speech, as would be expected of a waterworld native. He quickly adapted to a more general, albeit somewhat formal, pattern of speech as he became familiar with larger galactic culture.


Quotes

“If she’s an enemy of yours, sharks, then she’s a friend worth having — and this is one kill you’ll have to do without !”

“What, five of you — to bring in one of me ? I’m impressed ! Well, what are you waiting for ? Let’s show these good people just how scared they should be of you ! Come on ! COME ON !”

“Those people down there — This is not their fight, not their war. To drag them into it against their will — or worse, to kill them all for what they might someday become — it’s slavery or genocide. It’s the Empire, all over again.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Superman a.k.a. Kaleb of Hydros

Dex: 09 Str: 25 Bod: 18 Motivation: Upholding the Good
Int: 07 Wil: 08 Min: 08 Occupation: Rebel Agent
Inf: 08 Aur: 07 Spi: 10 Resources {or Wealth}: 010
Init: 023 HP: 080

Powers:
Energy Blast: 15, Flight: 20, Invulnerability*: 18, Laser Beam: 12, Remote Sensing: 55, Warp: 55

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Laser Beam uses APs as AV (+1 or 0 depending on house rules)
  • Energy Blast has no AV, using DEX instead (-1 or 0 depending on house rules)
  • Remote Sensing is Contingent on Warp (-1FC)
  • Remote Sensing manifests as a warp-hole, allowing others alongside Kaleb to see through them as well ; despite this property the warp-holes apparently remain one-way as those Kaleb observes do not seem to notice them despite their close proximity (+1FC)

Skills:
Acrobatics (Athletics, Dodging): 06, Vehicles (Sea, Space): 06, possibly some Subskills of Military Science and Weaponry at DEX-Linked APs as Kaleb is a trained rebel field agent and intelligence gatherer.

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (Imperial Space – the Empire is stated to rule over a thousand worlds but the exact size of the area under its dominion is unclear), Expertise (Deep-Sea Fishing, Low-Tech Seamanship, Military Resources of the Rebellion, Space Battle Tactics), Life Support (No Need to Breathe, possibly No Need to Eat/Drink either), Popularity

Note:
“Military Resources” above refers the location of bases and equipment caches, disposition of fleets, location and means to contact local rebel cell groups, etc. In conjunction with his High Connection to the rebellion, this allows him to requisition any resources he might reasonably need.

Connections:
The Rebellion (High), Lang (High), [Superman Family (High), if using the proposed expanded history below]

Drawbacks:
Fatal Vulnerability (green hydrosite radiation, 1 AP of Current BODY Condition lost per phase of exposure), Enemy (Emperor Luthor and his armies), Partial Attack Vulnerability (-3CS to RV versus attacks based on red sunlight), Power Loss (green hydrosite radiation or being under light from a red sun, reduces Physical Attributes to 6/4/4, negates all Powers and the Life Support Advantage)

Equipment:

  • Kaleb had a device on his person that translated foreign languages for him when necessary [BODY 02, Comprehend Languages: 15]; though not specified, it may have been a limited version of the more broadly-functional telepathic earplugs of the 30th Century.
  • TIME TRAVEL VEST [BODY 08, Time Travel: 36; Limitation: The vest’s Time Travel Power can only be used by a Hydrosian with the Warp Power and is contingent on that same Warp Power (-2FC); Miscellaneous Drawback: Use of Time Travel tends to create temporal anomalies at the target site, with creatures, people, and vehicles temporarily displaced from various eras past and present into the target era — the GM can use this to foreshadow the time traveler’s arrival]
    This vest was developed by the greatest of the remaining rebel scientists as part of Kaleb’s plot to assassinate Luthor before he established his empire. The experimental device was based on Kaleb’s ability to generate spatial warps. It was taken off of Kaleb while he was Luthor’s prisoner and was likely destroyed along with rest of the lab Kaleb was being held in during the Lexcorp Tower crash.

Design Notes

Many of the AP scores for the Powers are somewhat tentative, There were almost no instances where Kaleb seriously exerted himself, which would have helped to more clearly establish upper bounds. Also, most of his opponents were largely unknown quantities that only provided very rough bases for comparison.

Kaleb may well have other Kryptonian-like abilities that have yet to be demonstrated or that may develop at a future date, including a higher DEX, sensory Powers, Superspeed, and Systemic Antidote.


By Roy Cowan and Azrael

Source of Character: Superman: The Man of Steel Annual #5, Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #11, Superman: King of the World storyline (DC Comics)

Helper(s): Chris Cottingham, Darci

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