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The Sphinx (Wes Studi in Mystery Men)

Sphinx

(Mystery Men movie)


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

Context

Mystery Men was a 1999 super-hero comedy, depicting a non-team of lamentable would-be heroes attempting to rise to greater heights. It had it’s-okay-but-a-bit-chaotic movie critics, bombed commercially, and was considered awesome by many who wanted to see a super-hero comedy.


Background

  • Real Name: Unrevealed
  • Marital Status: Presumed single
  • Known Relatives: None
  • Group Affiliation: Mystery Men
  • Base Of Operations: Champion City’s best taco stand
  • Height: 6’ Weight: 190 lbs Age: 50ish
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Black


Powers and Abilities

Aside from being “a big-time hero down South” (even minor-leaguers like Shoveler and Raja have heard of him), Sphinx is able to slice guns (and, one might assume, other objects) in half with the power of his mind. He can spout platitudes better than Confucius or Yoda.

Sphinx has demonstrated a strange ability to quickly create an effective fighting force out of a group of disparate individuals, regardless of whether the individuals were effective on their own.


Video

World-class training under the enlightened (and mysterious) tutelage of the eerie… Sphinx !


History

The Sphinx is a mysterious crime-fighter from “down South”. This might be a reference to Mexico rather than the American South, if one assumes Champion City is on the American West Coast).

When Furious, Shoveler, and Blue Raja decided to look for help in rescuing Captain Amazing from Casanova Frankenstein, they mentioned seeking the help of the Sphinx, but did nothing to locate him.

The Sphinx turned up anyway, saving the heroes and their new recruits from death (while drunkenly celebrating their first victory) at the hands of the Disco Boys.

After scornfully taking them to task for their lack of professionalism, Sphinx took the lot of them under his wing. He taught them how to be heroes and helped them defeat Casanova Frankenstein. His never-ending fortune cookie advice helped forge the Mystery Men into an efficient team of heroes.

The original script called for a brilliant scene, which was filmed but not included in the final film.

In it the Shoveler, Blue Raja, and Mr. Furious go to the local Mexican restaurant, where rumor has it the Sphinx may be contacted if one orders the correct combination of food items. The 3 of course make themselves ill on Mexican food trying to discover the correct combo, only to have Sphinx (the busboy) follow them when they finally leave the restaurant.


Description

The Sphinx is a terribly mysterious figure, and his costume reflects this. Initially he wore a simple dark cape and cowl with a mask, reflecting the “mysterious stranger” image he likes to project. It ties into the “dark avenger” stereotype like Batman or the Shadow.

Sphinx’s second costume was an odd combo of a more traditional superhero garb and a Mexican luchador outfit, though still in dark colors with a cape and mask.

The Sphinx was played to perfection by Wes Studi.


Personality

The Sphinx has been on his own for a long time. A *very* long time, which might help explain his oddities.

Sphinx is a Zen guru of superheroism without any students to his name (at least to start). He works hard to impress his potential pupils with his mysterious nature and his wisdom.

Unfortunately for Sphinx and the group, Mr Furious sees right through the platitudes. This is possibly because he sees the Sphinx (and to a lesser extent, all the new members) as a threat to his own non-leadership of the group.

To everybody else, though, Sphinx is the elder-statesman, to be looked to when advice or guidance is needed. Fortunately, not all Sphinx has to say is hot air.

For instance he advises “The lack of manpower may be made up by the addition of firepower”, which leads Shoveler to recall Dr. Heller’s offer of weaponry. This directly contributes to the team’s ability to combat Casanova’s gangs.

Sphinx’s weird aphorisms were played mostly for comedy in Mystery Men, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be used as a serious character, or that he lacks for real advice or guidance when it’s necessary. The effectiveness of his training, after all, is undisputable.


Quotes

“We are number one ! All others are number two, or lower.”

(Lecturing the heroes)
Sphinx: “The wise man knows he is weakest where he thinks himself strong.”
Bowler: (whispering) “Whoa.”
Spleen: “This is serious.”
Blue Raja: “Terribly mysterious.”
Sphinx: “You are not ready to face so great an enemy. Not until you have vanquished the enemy within yourselves.”
Invisible Boy: “This is so cool. He goes right up to the point of being… like, confusing.”

Sphinx: “Why do you stand aside while the others practice ?”
Furious: “That’s not practice. It’s group hugging.”
Sphinx: “He who questions training only trains himself at asking questions.”
Furious: “WHAT ?!”

Sphinx: “How many weapons do you wield ?”
Shoveler: (holds out his shovel) “Just one, Sphinx.”
Sphinx: “No. The knee, the fist, the elbow, the head. You must lash out with every limb, like the octopus who plays the drums.”

Sphinx: (to Mr Furious) “Your temper is very quick, my friend. But until you master your rage -”
Furious: “Your rage will become your master ? That’s what you were gonna say, right ? Right ?”
Sphinx: (pause) “Not necessarily.”

Furious: “Why am I doing this, again ?”
Sphinx: “If you can balance a tack hammer on your head, you will head off your foes with a balanced attack.”
Furious: “…And why am I wearing the watermelon on my feet ?”
(Long pause as both of them look down at the watermelon on Furious’ feet)
Sphinx: “ I don’t remember telling you to do that.”


DC Universe History

The Mystery Men (in the movie) are definitely part spoof and part homage to the “mystery men” of early comics history. As such they can be inserted dang near anyplace, but the feel of their movie is slightly skewed… They don’t feel very Golden Age, and don’t fit the humor genre.

But as low-level supers in a street-level campaign they actually might work, as long as they aren’t overpowering their foes. Their main bad guy ought always to be one who is on the surface more than they can handle.

In a mainstream DC campaign, Sphinx replaces Max Mercury, the “Zen-Master of Speed”, as the grand old-timer with advice for every occasion.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

The Sphinx

A 418 Point Character (does not include Gadget fee for the Shrinker Beam, which belongs to Dr. Heller)

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Responsibility of Being Terribly Mysterious
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 04 Occupation: Busboy/Superhero Guru
Inf: 05 Aur: 03 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: 003
Init: 013 HP: 020

Powers:
Mental Blast: 08

Bonuses and Limitations:
Mental Blast is Indirect (+3), counts as a Cutting/Slashing type attack where it matters (0), and may or may not work Only On Guns (-3 if applicable)

Skills:
Charisma (Intimidation): 06, Detective: 04, Weaponry (Firearms): 05, Thief (Stealth): 05, Military Science (Field Command): 05, Military Science (Blitz): 02

Advantages:
Leadership, Local Hero (Down South), Area Knowledge (Champion City), Shtick (Mentorship)

Connections:
Mystery Men (High)

Drawbacks:
CIA (Making Cryptic Statements), MIA (Being Terribly Mysterious), Secret Identity

Equipment:
Shrinker Beam [BODY 04, Snare: 06, R#: 2, HP Cost: 19. Bonuses & Limitations: Snare works by Shrinking the target’s clothing, requiring an Object of Opportunity, i.e., clothes to shrink (-1)]


The Power of Being Terribly Mysterious

Sphinx has the Shtick of Mentorship, which gives him the ability to dramatically improve the performance and overall effectiveness of any super (or, one suposes, any other person) he takes as a student.

The effect of this is that anyone whom Sphinx takes on as a student of his teachings immediately enters a “training” subplot (of however short a duration), that results in up to one full standard HP award (when the subplot is concluded rather than at th end of the adventure) that may only be used for advancement.

This helps to explain the sudden increase in general “hero-ness” of the Shoveler and Blue Raja in the film.

Ed. note: In case this wasn’t clear, I really really recommend keeping this Schtick for NPCs — it makes little sense on the character sheet of a PC.

By Pufnstuff

Helper(s): Adam Fuqua, Dr. Peter S Piispanen, Jobe, International Hero for thumbnail history and illo, original Mystery Men script 

Source of Character: Mystery Men (Film)

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