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The Masters of Silence (Iron Man characters) (Marvel Comics) charging

Inazuma, Kaze and Kaminari (Lightning, Wind and Thunder) – the Masters of Silence


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game
  • They’re called “the Masters of Silence” – and that alone should seal the deal.
  • They’re also a scenario that practically writes itself, and can be encountered as either friends or foes.
  • The appearance of Meredith McCall was definitely a blast from the past – I don’t think we had seen her since… Iron Man vol. 1 #28 in the summer of 1970.

Powers and Abilities

The Masters of Silence are highly trained, powerful warriors who are masters of numerous traditional Japanese martial arts schools. They favour a range of traditional samurai melee weapons (but not the bow, which was the original symbol and preferred weapon of the samurai), including of course the daisho — but also infiltration and stealth skills most martial arts flick enthusiasts would tend to associated with the ninja.

Their one known superhuman power is the ability to cloud the mind of men and disappear – even highly observant people cannot perceive them until they choose to reveal their presence (when they appear they can do so in a cloud of blue smoke, which is likely performed by a small Gadget in their armour).

However, the most sophisticated surveillance systems can sometimes spot them – and I do mean the very best, since while some cameras at a critical Stark Enterprises plant could spot them, even the systems at Justin Hammer’s famous floating villa could not see the Masters of Silence.

Their psychic invisibility talent even allows them to fight invisibly, though they consider this to be dishonourable against a worthy foe and will become visible and issue a challenge before taking on a such an opponent.

The ageing of the Masters might be slowed down as they are bonded with the spirits – Daichi Sakamoto was clearly an aged man. On the other hand, having older persons still perform at peak physical efficiency is common in both comic books and various genres of demon-hunting fiction throughout Asian countries, so it might mean little.

The Masters are outfitted with highly resilient armour – they could basically ignore repulsor fire from Iron Man. These armours incorporate some sort of image inducer, allowing them to appear as if they were wearing conservative business suits (though Iron Man’s sensor could still detect they were actually very heavily armed and armoured). The suits also have strengthened striking surfaces.

The Masters wield weapons charged with some kind of energy that allow them to basically slice through a tank. The provenance of this gear is quite unclear – it could be Earth technology, it could be enchantments, it could be alien technology, or it could be something else entirely.

From context and some intelligence James Rhodes mentioned, it would seem this is technology – perhaps this arsenal was given to them by a Japanese super-genius as payment. It is likely that in the past, the Masters used masterwork weapons and armour, possibly magically enhanced.

The Masters of Silence were accused by a traditionalist Chinese mage of using ’motorbikes and electronics’, though they’ve never actually been seen riding bikes. While it may just have been a turn of phrase on the mage’s part, they have to move around in some fashion… and motorbikes would fit their general “kewl 1990s hard-edged” vibe.

Brothers in arms

Whenever a Master is fatally wounded, the corresponding spirit sent by the storm kami bonds with a new, worthwhile volunteer – a person of great courage and significant fighting skill or talent, who accepts to dedicate themselves to the path of vengeance for the rest of their life.

Traditionally this role has been held by men ; it is possible, but not confirmed, that McCall is the first Mistress of Silence.

Note that the fatally wounded Master will be unable to die until a successor volunteers – the storm spirit is shackled to his flesh and keeps it going until it can transfer away and let his previous, suffering host expire in peace.

Though I don’t think it is worthwhile to write it up in game terms, this is basically a complicated Enchantment and Invulnerability. The person instantly gains at least the stats, Skills, Advantages, Drawbacks, etc. of a typical Master above ; the case of McCall also demonstrated that the newly ordained Master becomes fully fluent in Japanese if that was not the case before.

The knowledge or personality of the previous Master is not transferred, however – the new Master has to be initiated in the history and secrets by the oldest remaining Master, and McCall did not gain any special insight about the complexities of Japanese society despite her instant fluency in the language.

Being possessed by a storm kami’s samurai spirit creates an instant bond of understanding between all Masters, which McCall described as stronger than that of family or lovers. The Masters thus always operate as a trio.


History

The tradition of the Masters of Silence dates back at least two centuries, when a shinma, a powerful demon from the Japanese world of evil gods, came to Japan. Called Kao-Goto Suru (the Face Thief), the evil shapechanging god took great pleasure in leading men to their doom through their own actions.

Soon, the shinma killed the lord Tezuka-sama and stole his face, taking the shape of the great daimyo, reputed for his wisdom and honour. He led Tezuka’s armies into a futile and shameful war against the Emperor ; at the end of the campaign, only three of Tezuka’s faithful samurai remained.

Discovering that a demon had taken the place of their lord, these three fighters swore vengeance ; yet they knew that no man could hope to kill an evil god. Thus they prayed to the Three Storms, requesting divine assistance for their quest. Their pleas were answered, and fierce spirits were bonded to the warriors, giving them great skill and the power of invisibility.

In return, the warriors pledged that they would follow the cherished path of the kami who had blessed them – the path of vengeance – even beyond death. The three avenging samurai presumably then defeated Kao-Soto Suru.

The Masters of Silence gradually became well-known in Japanese folk legends and… certain social circles (the yakuza, basically). Through certain yakuza dignitaries, they could be petitioned by a wronged person ; after studying the issue, the Masters would determine (using whatever intelligence techniques and yakuza contacts they could muster) whether the person presented as the guilty party was indeed deserving of death. If so, the burden of vengeance would become theirs.

Apparently, the wronged person can never call upon the wrath of the Masters of Silence ever again ; and it also seems that it is customary to offer gifts to the Masters (and likely to the yakuza representatives) once the case has been solved.

Masters of Silence vs. War Machine

This tradition endured into the modern day, though from time to time the Masters of Silence would hunt down and defeat the returning Face Thief to prevent it from leading yet more mortals to their doom.

At one point, the Face Thief slew one Yuki Nakagawa, a loved one of Daichi Sakamoto – who was, or later became, Kaze. The last clash before modern times took place “decades ago”, and may have been the conflict during which Ms. Nakagawa was killed. At its conclusion, the Masters managed to imprison the shinma in a 16th porcelain mask – presumably a magical demon-hunting artefact.

It is possible that Sakamoto-san had mystical skills allowing this, since he later demonstrated some paranormal skills.

Takahishi-san

In their first documented appearance, the Masters of Silence were summoned by Rei Takahishi, the CEO of energy company Akane Fusion Developments. A disaster caused by defective boron safety valves resulted in the death of 59 employees, and great shame and financial loss for Takahishi-san, who had personally recruited many of the victims.

The Akane staff determined that the substandard valves had been sourced from Stark Enterprises. Through underworld acquaintances, Takahishi-san requested vengeance against Stark, which the Masters of Silence accepted.

Soon, the Masters located Tony Stark, and invisibly broke in. The extremely sophisticated security systems managed to spot them, however, and they were confronted by Iron Man before they could reach Stark. At this point, Stark was suffering from a crippling medical condition and was practically paralysed ; thus the armour was a remote-controled unit. Using Team Attacks, the Masters of Silence dispatched the armour.

Despite the potential damage to his nervous system, Stark then had an entirely new suit of Iron Man armour, which he could wear despite his impairment, produced – the War Machine suit.

Stark retreated to a sort of danger room facility with extremely advanced holographic facilities, and engaged the Masters there, wearing the War Machine armour. Even with the considerable power of this suit, the confrontation might not have ended well for him, but the spectacular and very disconcerting illusions (especially the “War of the World tripods invasion” sequence, unfamiliar to the Japanese warriors) turned the tide.

However, it was Rhodes who solved the situation, after getting information from S.H.I.E.L.D. demonstrating that the paper trail for the boron valves had been forged by agents of Hammer Industries through Stane International. The Masters stopped fighting and requested time to verify this information, discovered that Rhodes’s data was correct, and returned to express their apologies and great shame.

Stark, still encased in his War Machine armour, offered them to join him in vengeance against their common foe, and they offered their swords in his service.

Despite support from Hydra and the Hand, the defences available to Hammer proved negligible against the onslaught of Iron Man and the Masters of Silence. Stark dictated his terms to Hammer, including exonerating him so he could regain his face, and arranging a huge zero-interest loan to Akane Fusion to rebuild the company after the disaster. The deal was to be enforced by the Masters of Silence if anything went wrong.

McCall-san

The Masters of Silence next appeared when an American captain of industry, Creighton McCall, was possessed by the Face Thief. While meditating, Kaze saw that the evil god had returned, but did not know much about whose face had been taken — and their usual yakuza contacts were not optimal to investigate American old money.

Wanting to strike as soon as possible, the Masters travelled to meet Anthony Stark, requesting his help in identifying which businessman had been killed and replaced by the evil god. Explaining how the face thief usually operated, they helped Stark scan private databases for matching patterns of business practices, until they were all pretty certain that it was Creighton McCall.

Masters of Silence vs. Justin Hammer

McCall was a very familiar name for Stark – he and Howard Stark used to be vicious business rivals and bitter personal enemies. McCall’s daughter Meredith and Tony Stark even had a Romeo and Juliet moment while they were seventeen, but their respective fathers forcibly separated them and Meredith was sent to finish her studies in Europe.

Stark briefly saw Meredith again years later, during a plot of the Controller at the Pinewood sanatorium. Though Iron Man saved her from the Controller, Stark also discovered she was now an employee at Pinewood – and a married woman.

Meredith’s beloved husband Richard Stevenson was killed by Kao-Soto Suru ; her distress was compounded by the outrageously heartless and even threatening behaviour of her father, now secretly replaced by the Face Thief. At the wake, Stark was both reunited by the distraught Meredith (through a Stark LMD he was remotely controlling, due to his worsening paralysis) and able to scan ’Creighton’, confirming he was not a human being.

The next night, Stark and the Masters launched a two-pronged assault on the McCall mansion, with a remote-controlled Iron Man suit taking on the entrance while the Masters of Silence stealthily took out the rest of the security. At the same time, the Face Thief was holding Meredith in his study, threatening to kill her.

McCall clawed at him with her long nails, ruining his face and thus his mystical disguise as Creighton McCall, revealing its shinma form. The four armoured fighters then engaged the evil god, after confirming to Meredith that the Face Thief was not her father.

Consumed by rage and a desire for vengeance,McCall grabbed weapons from the unconscious security guards. By the time she joined the fray Kaze, who had engaged the Face Thief ahead of the others, had been fatally wounded by the evil god. Supported by McCall’s gunfire, the surviving Masters and Iron Man destroyed the evil god.

Ms. McCall was then chosen by the spirits to become the new Kaze.

Tsui Wu-san

The Masters of Silence continued their international operations, hearing in Hong Kong one Tsui Wu, a representative of dozens of Chinese peasants who had had their children disappear while attempting to clandestinely emigrate to the US.

While Wu was Chinese, the daughter he had lost to the clandestine emigration railroad had a Japanese first name ; it is possible his wife and the mother of his child was a Japanese woman with some yakuza contacts, thus explaining why the Masters of Silence went abroad to consider a plea.

The Masters of Silence found the States-side end of the emigration underground ; when they ghosted into the building, they soon faced the Ghost Rider. After an initial misunderstanding where the Masters assumed he was a demon guardian and started carving him up with their blades, they stopped when the indestructible Rider mentioned that he was the Spirit of Vengeance, and soon identified each others as fellow travellers and allies.

The immigration ring was protected by Golden Fist triad ninjas, and run by Chinese necromancer Tsin Hark, who was using it to collect gallons and gallons of innocent blood for his magics, and turned the leftover corpses into gynosii – Chinese-style ghouls.

Though the Masters and Ghost Rider managed to fight through an army of gynosii, the ghouls bought enough time for Tsin Hark to complete his Ritual with the blood, summoning an endless army of darkness which he hoped would destroy all the technology in the world and return it to tradition. The Ghost Rider finally defeated Tsin Hark while the Masters were fighting his army, casting him into a netherworld where his undead servants followed him.

Shamed Japanese parents

The Masters of Silence were later briefly seen again back in Japan, where they were hired by the parents of a gang of heavily-armed motorcycle hooligans. The Masters killed the hooligans, restoring the familial honour.

Masters of Silence vs. ghouls


Description

See illustration.


Personality

Inazuma is headstrong, bold, decisive, full of fire — and he’s now the leader and spokesman of the Masters. As such, he affects a formal, extremely serious tone and mode of speech, and will often be the sole Master speaking.

Kaminari is obsessed with physical mastery and works out almost constantly ; his rigourous self-discipline may be his way to wrestle with inner demons of his own. He never speaks, and may in fact be mute.

Meredith McCall as always felt trapped by her gender, and was raised in a world of macho captains of industry and great male engineers who never paid attention to her or genuinely saw her as a full person. Trapped in this very conservative environment, she tried several roles that were okay for a woman – upper-class suburban wife, successful professional, dutiful daughter – without ever finding her true self.

The death of her father and husband pushed her over the edge, and she angrily claimed her freedom and chose the path of the warrior and agent of vengeance.

McCall discovered that her fellow Masters, despite being traditional Japanese warriors, were oddly devoid of misogyny and fully considered her an equal – perhaps because of the soul bond they share. Still, early on, she was aware she did not understand the Japanese culture and the full heritage of the Masters of Silence, and she does her best to be a quiet and respectful student of Inazuma, who has been turned into the eldest of the three with the death of the previous Kaze, his teacher.

The Masters are warriors, and their normal approach is to state their mission and execute the wrongdoer (and possibly his allies) ; however they seem quite open to alternative modes of vengeance mediated by an honourable third party, such as a very large repayment to the wronged persons.


Quotes

“Your situation is know to us, Rei Takahashi. We have examined your plea. We find this gaijin Anthony Stark without honour and deserving of death. We relieve you of the burden of vengeance. Do not seek us a second time.”

“Be warned, tin man – to oppose us is suicide.”

“If this is the truth… then we have nearly murdered an innocent man, and thereby broken our most sacred oath. We respectfully request the opportunity to verify this information. If it is true, then we have wronged you and your employer. Rest assured, if we have been deceived, the Masters of Silence will not rest until those responsible have been punished.”

“Pardon our rudeness. We have travelled a great distance, with considerable haste. We respectfully implore you to allows us to meet with your employer.”

“The Masters of Silence are more than the hired killers you believe us to be. We are instruments of vengeance, with a tradition stretching back generations.”

“I share your concern, my friend. But this is neither the place nor the time to confront our enemy. There are too many innocents there.”

“We [only] act in service to others. We [now] answer the pleas of the families to whom you have brought dishonour by your hooliganism. We come to avenge the unendurable shame your thievery and violence have brought to their houses. We were hired… by your parents.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Generic Master of Silence

Dex: 07 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Honourable duty
Int: 06 Wil: 04 Min: 06 Occupation: Agent of vengeance
Inf: 06 Aur: 04 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 006
Init: 023 HP: 040

Powers:
Invisibility (ML): 12

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Invisibility has its APs halved (i.e., reduced to 06) against artificial surveillance systems such as video cameras (-1)
  • Invisibility still casts a normal shadow (-1)

Skills:
Acrobatics (Climbing, Dodging)*: 07, Martial artist*: 07, Thief (Security systems, Stealth): 08, Vehicles (Land): 06, Weaponry (Traditional Japanese weapons)*: 07

Bonuses and Limitations:
Acrobatics (Dodging) can be used against explosions even if they are entirely within the detonation’s range (+1)

Advantages:
Headquarters (Expansive – the top floors of a skyscraper in Tōkyō, with the rooftop being landscaped to look like a piece of a medieval Japanese village), Language (Japanese, Cantonese Chinese (and presumably Mandarin Chinese)), Lightning Reflexes

Connections:
Yakuza scene (High)

Drawbacks:
SIA toward the bushido

Equipment:
Each Master of Silence has a wakizashi tucked into his or her obi, plus one or two special weapon from the following list and a suit of body armour.

  • MASTER OF SILENCE ARMOUR [/STR/ 05 /BODY/ 09, EV 02 (06 w//STR/, 08 w/Martial Artist), Fog: 01, Skin armour: 06, Insta-change, Limitation; /STR/ is a built-in garrotte in one forearm, and can only be used when making Blindside attacks ; Notes: Skin armour works vs. energy/force attacks, but *only* against those]
  • Wakizashi [BODY 12, EV 03, Sharpness (EV): 09, Note: The Masters can actually throw those without any penalty]
  • SPORTS MOTORBIKE [STR 03 BODY 05, Running: 07, R#02]. See the Powers & Abilities section.

List of additional weapons:

  • Katana [BODY 12, EV 05, Sharpness (EV): 09, Note: The Masters can actually throw those without any penalty]
  • Two-tined spear [BODY 12, EV 05, Sharpness (EV): 09, Can be thrown]. This weapon has been identified as a sasumata, which does not sounds accurate.
  • Kusari-gama [BODY 12, EV 04, Sharpness (EV): 09, Snare: 12, Stretching: 01, Limitation: Stretching has No Fine Manipulation ; Snare has No Range but can be used via Stretching]
  • Large remote-controled shuriken (x3) [BODY 10, EV 04, Sharpness (EV): 09, Flight: 07, Limitation: Flight can only last for three Phases or until impact, Dart Bonus]

Masters of revenge

All three Masters have the same stats – but they also have some specialities, as follow:

  • The previous Kaze (wind ; green armour ; Daichi Sakamoto ; since deceased) had an Awareness ritual and an Expertise in Meditation Techniques ; it is possible his Awareness only worked to detect the Face Thief.
  • Inazuma (lightning ; white armour ; Arashi Wakayama) has Scientist (Computers, Research): 04 and is an Unix sysadmin. He tends to favour the katana as his main weapon and often packs shuriken.
  • Kaminari (thunder ; red armour ; Kiyoshi Kurata) has Acrobatics (Athletics): 06 and is a highly-trained athlete and acrobat. He tends to favour the two-tined spear as his main weapon. He might be mute.
  • The new Kaze (wind ; green armour ; Meredith McCall) has Weaponry (Firearms): 02 (though she does not use it as a Mistress of Silence) and some unrevealed professional skillset, perhaps having to do with a managerial role in the healthcare industry. Like her predecessor, she tends to favour the kusarigama.

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Marvel comics (chiefly Iron Man stories)

Helper(s): Loki, Expletive Deleted

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