5782 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Nikolai Dante (2000AD comics) portrait by Simon Fraser

Nikolai Dante


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

“Y‘know, Dante, I’m beginning to wonder if you really are ‘too cool to kill’… or just too dumb to die.”


Context

Nikolai Dante is one of the classic series in 2000AD, the big British sci-fi comics magazine. It was created by Robbie Morrison and Simon Fraser in 1997.

It takes place in the 27th, where Earth and its colonies is ruled by the Russian Empire.

The setting mixes highly advanced technology, and a society that is more reminiscent of the late 18th century Imperial Russia.

Nikolai Dante, a swashbuckling ne’er-do-well, discovers that he’s a bastard son of the powerful Romanov dynasty. His genes give him access to certain equipment, and that sets into motion chaotic events of global import.

This covers up to the end of the ninth collection, Amerika.


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Background

  • Real Name: Nikolai Dante.
  • Other Aliases: Kolya, The Gentleman Thief, Quentin Durward, The Hero in Rudinshtein, The Butcher of Vladigrad.
  • Former Aliases: Nikolai Romanov.
  • Marital Status: Widower.
  • Known Relatives: Eloise de Janissaire (wife, deceased), Katarina Dante (mother), Dmitri Romanov (father, deceased), Aleksandr Romanov (brother, deceased), Aleksandra Romanov (sister, deceased), Andreas Romanov (brother, deceased), Arkady Romanov (brother), Jocasta Romanov (aunt), Konstantin Romanov (brother), Lulu Romanov (sister), Nastasia Romanov (sister, deceased), Valentine Romanov (sister, deceased), Viktor Romanov (brother).
  • Group Affiliation: Formerly the Family Romanov, agent of the Tsar.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile.
  • Height: 5’10” Weight: 140lbs.
  • Eyes: Green Hair: Black


Powers and Abilities

Naturally athletic, and a skilled thief from an early age. His fighting style has improved over the years from one based primarily on luck, to one of training and experience.

Nikolai’s abilities have been enhanced by his Crest.


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Romanov Weapons Crest

Derived from other-dimensional  technology, the Romanov family Weapon Crests merge with a host of the Romanov bloodline. It provides them with superhuman abilities – and a confidante, as the Crest’s artificial personality battle computer communicates with the host so only they can hear it.

Nikolai’s Crest is also charged with teaching him to fit into society. After almost a decade it’s pretty much given up on this.

Nikolai Dante blocks gunfire with his cybernetic hand

The abilities it gives its host vary according to the host. But it always make them resistant to fatal wounds, and allow them to heal quickly from damage. It can access nearby electronic devices, taking over most Terran technology with ease. Nikolai has taken advantage of this to dabble in cyber-crime.

It can also detect life forms in the area, scanning their vital signs.

It can make itself invisible against the host’s skin.

The crest has given Dante the ability to transform his arms into metallic shapes, primarily blades. But he has been known to transform one into a shield.


History

Born to the infamous pirate Katarina Dante, Nikolai grew up on her pirate ship, with her all-female crew. When his mother caught him with getting a bit too close with Lauren, a stray in her care and of his age, she left him to be raised by nuns. But Nikolai didn’t stay there long, burning the place to the ground in his escape. Alone on the streets, he grew up a thief.

By his late teens, Nikolai had met runaway Eloise de Janissaire. Thieving together, they were married one drunken night. After a successful theft, the pair were located by Eloise’s mother. She was the head on the Warlords, the most infamous mercenary group in the empire.

Nikolai resisted. But when faced with the choice of saving their loot from the fire, or fighting to free Eloise, he chose to flee with the loot. He promised to rescue her later, although he never managed to.

The Romanov Dynasty

In 2666, following an incident with an imperial seductress and the Tsar’s Own Hussars, Nikolai was arrested by Tsarina Jena Makarov and Count Pyre. He was brought before the Tsar for judgement. The incident also led to the flailing and execution of Captain Abratov of the Tsar’s Own Hussars. This began his family’s running feud with Nikolai.

Given the option of following Captain Abratov in his punishment, or being enlisted into the Raven Corps, Dante opted for the latter.

The Tsar’s people had discovered from an examination of Nikolai’s DNA that he was related to the Romanov family, the second most powerful family in the empire. The Romanov dynasty was the main threat to the Tsar’s supremacy.

Their main asset was the mysterious Weapon Crests. These were devices bonded to those with Romanov blood which gave them great powers. Covertly shooting down a Romanov ship carrying a new Crest, the Tsar dispatched Dante as part of the squad investigating the crash.

Crested

The squad was led by Jena Makarov, who proved resistant to Nikolai’s charm. They found the Crest, which recognized Nikolai as a valid host, and bonded with him.

Nikolai Dante points a musket at a robot

Before he could be returned to the Tsar’s clutches for vivisection, they were confronted by Aleksandr and Aleksandra Romanov. The twins were uninterested in Dante’s relation to them. Rather, they were trying to kill him to keep the Crest out of the Tsar’s hands. They fought, and Nikolai managed to kill the pair. He then fled from Jena.

Turning up at the Romanov family home, the Winter Palace, he was reluctantly accepted into the family. This was mainly due to the Tsar arriving on his heel to demand Dante be turned over to him.

Scenic Rudinshtein

His first mission as a Romanov was to rescue the young Arkady Romanov, the intended recipient of the Crest he now wore. Arkady was held by a warlord who’d taken over Rudinshtein, the poorest and most poorly governed region of Romanov lands. Rescuing Arkady, Dante insisted on freeing the poor enslaved by the warlord. Then the Romanov’s attacked.

After suppressing the warlord’s forces, the family offered to allow the warlord to remain as governor under their power. Incensed at the thought of leaving such a monster in power, Nikolai killed him in single combat. Hailed as a hero by the locals, he was given governorship of Rudinshtein.

Celebrating his newfound position and wealth, Nikolai threw an extravagant, and extended, party at the Hotel Yalta. It was the most expensive hotel in the empire, their motto “no one here gets out alive without paying their bill”.

It’s my party, and I can steal if I want to

After a confrontation with another Captain Abratov, Nikolai learned that the Romanov’s wealth was drawn on the regions they governed. He also learned that his partybill would bankrupt Rudinshtein, and see its people sent into gulag to repay the debt.

Assuming the identity of the Gentleman Thief, he began robbing the Hotel’s other guests. This resulted in a manhunt led by Abratov. Nikolai eventually got the Crest to hack into the Hotel computers to transfer his debt to Abratov.

The Hotel manager, unwilling to cast doubt on the security of the Hotel, forced Abratov to pay, for which the Tsar had him executed. Free of his debt, Nikolai nevertheless lost his stolen loot to the Countessa de Winter, another thief.

Alien people and alienated rulers

Dante was assigned to act as bodyguard to the alien Khara on her journey to the gulag world Samovar. He learned that the Crests were from her dimension. There her people were split into two factions, one of which, the White Army, had transformed themselves into cybernetic beings. The Army was battling with Khara’s faction, the Red Guard, to likewise convert them.

Nikolai Dante and the Rudinshtein Irregulars group shot

Dante protected Khara from a White Army Reiver, which had arrived on Samovar through the portal to their dimension located there. He then learned that the Crests were a trade in exchange for prisoners, who served as untainted genetic material for their war. Helping Khara get home safely, Nikolai was given her Huntsman 5000 gun in thanks.

Nikolai was then dispatched to Britannia to aid Romanov ally King Henry Windsor McKray. McKray’s raving insanity was making him be seen as a potential embarrassment by the authorities. Nikolai saved him from a coup by his own daughter, gaining Henry’s friendship, and would save him again over the years.

Va, va, Valentine

Following the theft of the Darkstar weapon, capable of opening a black hole, Nikolai met his older brother Valentine. Valentine had been the first to be joined with a crest. He also was the head spy for the Romanov. This spy network was run by Jocasta Romanov, sister to Dmitri and mother to the Romanov children through genetic engineering.

Learning that the Warlords appeared responsible, Nikolai was reunited with Eloise. She was now in charge of them following her mother’s death. Learning she’d been betrayed by her deputy, they fled. The pair followed the trail of the Darkstar.

Valentine was bitter at the damage done to his body by the first, experimental, Weapon’s Crest. As a consequence, he now sought to destroy Earth in revenge. He took Eloise captive, to enable his escape from Nikolai. But Valentine killed her anyway, leaving her to die in Nikolai’s arms.

Joining forces with Jena, also on the trail of the Darkstar, Nikolai hunted down Valentine. He then turned the Darkstar on him. Nikolai and Jena then destroyed the weapon before either of their families could get their hands on it.

Family business

As part of his introduction to the family Romanov, their holdings, and plans, Nikolai spent time with each of his siblings. He developed a friendship with the quiet Viktor. He also became a buddy of Andreas, who was mainly an older version of Nikolai himself. Andreas had been the black sheep of the family until Nikolai’s appearance.

Nikolai Dante shoots a man armed with swords

Following in Andreas’ footsteps, Nikolai became the second person to survive the Hellraiser Gauntlet. This trial of pure unadulterated pleasure to test the male endurance was carried out in the House of Sin, a vast mobile pleasure palace. During the Gauntlet he made enemies of the Church of Skoptzy, puritanical warrior priests.

With Konstantin, however, he developed a mutual antipathy. Especially when he forced Nikolai, using the identity Quentin Durward, to seduce Ingrid Wagner, Lady-in-Waiting to Jena’s younger sister Julianna. Konstantin then forced her to become a spy for the Romanov’s.

The Courtship of Jena Makarov

Dante’s relationship with Jena Makarov continued to be complicated. Every time she started to warm up to him, he’d end up, usually accidentally, giving her more reason to hate him.

Having gained access to footage of him in the House of Sin, Jena secretly backed a smear campaign. It was done by plastering embarrassing pictures of him on a series of gigantic floating billboards throughout the empire.

In 2668 Nikolai was shocked at the announcement of Jena’s engagement to Mikhail Deriabin, Patriarch of House of Bolshoi. The Bolshoi were the empire’s primary media owners.

Dante nevertheless accepted the role of her bodyguard when her life came under threat. The Tsar only offered him the position so that the Romanov’s wouldn’t try to assassinate her. This was because the marriage would seal a powerful alliance between the Tsar and House of Bolshoi.

Secluded at Castle Volga, Deriabin’s retreat, their defences were overwhelmed. They were attacked by the forces of a former lieutenant of the Tsar’s, Sir Richard Hawksmoore, who wanted Jena for himself. Despite his best attempts, Nikolai was unable to prevent him taking Jena. Only Nikolai and Julianna Makarov survived the slaughter.

On the run again

Despite Julianna’s protestations, Tsar Vladmir sentenced Nikolai to death for his failure. This action gave the family Romanov the excuse they needed to begin moving openly against the Tsar. Nikolai escaped custody before he could be executed, intent on rescuing Jena himself.

Nikolai Dante next to Wanted posters

Working out Deriabin’s culpability in the abduction, he questioned his right hand man. Dante thus learned that this man was to meet up with Hawksmoore soon, and that Hawksmoore didn’t know what he looked like. Dante went in his place. But he did not realise when he greeted them that he was standing in front of one of the floating billboards Jena had hired.

His plan blown, he survived the fight. But Hawksmoore was able to return to his war zeppelin with Jena, believing Nikolai unable to follow.

Nikolai had his Crest take control of the billboard, and used it to charge Hawksmoore’s zepplin. Storming it, he freed Jena. He then sent her away while he battled Hawksmoore aboard the falling zeppelin.

Reunited days later, before they reached home, Nikolai and Jena finally admitted their feelings. But one night was all they had together. The next day they encountered refugees fleeing the war, and learned that hostilities had broken out after the Romanov’s had murdered Julianna. Jena fled, never wanting to see Nikolai again.

Tsar Wars, part 1

The war in full swing, Nikolai was assigned command of the Rudinshtein Irregulars. These were comprised of prisoners freed to bolster the Romanov armies, and usually given the most suicidal jobs. Most of them would happily shoot Nikolai in the back. The only one he could trust was Sergeant Elena Kurakin, who became his second in command.

One of their first missions was infiltrating a fortress. The goal threin was to destroy the Conqueror Cannons, able to unleash a devastating attack over long distances. A secondary objective was to execute the imprisoned Ingrid Wagner. She had been tortured there at the Tsar’s command for her part in Julianna’s death.

Through more luck than planning, they destroyed the place. Nikolai also rescued Ingrid, taking her back to Rudinshtein, intending to reunite her with her family. Unwilling to face them, she hanged herself.

Tsar Wars, part 2

Nikolai became increasingly embittered over the course of the war. Especially when he had to face Jena again, and they nearly killed each other. As a consequence, he decided to try fully embracing his father’s lineage. He began calling himself Nikolai Romanov.

Nikolai Dante next to a billboard ridiculing him

Learning that Konstantin had personally murdered Julianna, Nikolai attacked him. He was nearly killed for his effort. He briefly put aside their animosity as the Romanovs attacked the Tsar’s seat of power, New Moscow, in the battleship Potempkin. They were ambushed by the massive Imperial Palace, which quickly overwhelmed the Potempkin.

Konstantin planned to stay aboard long enough to aim it towards the Moscow palace Vladimir had built in his image. Nikolai returned before he could abandon the Potempkin. He stabbed Konstantin in the back and left him to die with the crashing battleship.

Tsar Wars, part 3

During the continuing war, Nikolai was separated from his company, and left badly wounded. His uniform was unrecognizable, so his allegiance was unknown.

He was assumed a Tsar loyalist by the three sisters who took him in and cared for him. Unfortunately they were Abratovs. They became beguiled by Nikolai, who accidentally slept with all three in one night. He was found out when their brother arrived to check on them, with his battalion. Nikolai had to flee troops and angry women.

Returning to the war, Nikolai learned that the rest of the Irregulars had gone missing on a mission into Darklands. It was a fiefdom of the vampires, their domain kept in eternal night by some of the Tsar’s satellites. He partnered with the Imperial Slayer, Emmanuelle Chekhov, herself a vampire.

They found the surviving Irregulars, and slew Lord Selene. Nikolai allowed the severely wounded Chekov to drink from him enough to recover.

Tsar Wars, part 4

With a surprise strike on St. Petersburg, the Romanovs appeared on the verge of victory. But the Tsar unleashed his armoured Lord Protector, who killed Anastasia… and the bulk of the imperial forces, who were closer than they were supposed to have been. The bulk of the Romanov forces were also broken, their remains forced to retreat, initially to Rudinshtein.

Nikolai Dante next to a busy avenue with flying cars

Dmitri decided that the Romanovs would retreat to their Winter Palace, leaving the less elite troops to die in a hopeless defence of Rudinshtein to buy them time. Nikolai refused, renouncing the Romanov name. The other Romanovs departed, apart from Andreas, who chose to stay and help with the defence.

The Tsarist forces soon lay siege. They used serpent wire within sight of the walls to slowly kill prisoners, including members of the Irregulars, so their wailing reaching the city walls. With his Huntsman the only weapon capable of reaching far enough with any accuracy, Nikolai had to put them out of their misery.

The enemy forces attacked soon enough. Despite a valiant defence the end was inevitable. Andreas and most of the Irregulars died in the battle. Nikolai found himself in single combat with Count Pyre. When Pyre turned into a dragon, Nikolai allowed Pyre to swallow him. He then cut his way out, killing Pyre. He collapsed at the end of the fight, falling into imperial hands.

Concurrently with the assault on Rudinshtein, the Tsar led the successful attack on the Winter Palace.

  • Viktor was apparently killed.
  • Dmitri committed suicide rather than surrender.
  • Lulu surrendered, but escaped custody soon after.
  • Arkady, under his father’s orders, allowed himself to be taken as the Tsar’s ward.
  • Jocasta, spurning Vladmir’s advances, was allowed to retire to a convent.

Nikolai awoke in Jena’s custody, the war over. But she let him go, warning him to run and hide, as she’d have to kill him if they met again.

Hell & High Water

(There’s a slight date discrepancy in the Hell and High Water collection, with one of the earlier stories put at 2671, but a later one put at 2670. The next story is then noted as being in 2672, so I’ve decided to take 2671 as being the year his post-war adventures begin in the History.)

By 2671, the war was over. Alone and on the run, with an enormous price on his head, Dante refused the Crest’s advice to lay low. Instead, he returned to his old habits of partying and theft. He again ran into the Countessa de Winter, who, calling herself First-Sister Charlize, had become head of the Church of Skopty.

Pretending, unconvincingly, to renounce his old life, Dante joined her in the theft. They absconded with the loot, despite her possible attempts to betray him.

Heist

Their attempt to celebrate was interrupted by Papa Yeltsin, unofficial Godfather of the Mafiya clans of the Thieves’ World. He came to berate Nikolai for not paying him his share. He forced the pair to join the group he was assembling to steal the Romanov family fortune from the Tsar’s forces.

The theft went off without a hitch. But then the crew began dying off, and Yeltsin, having been found by the Tsar’s forces, betrayed them. Escaping the Tsar’s forces, Nikolai and the Countessa fled. But he confronted her about her part in killing the rest of the crew, and she abandoned him in their crashing escape craft.

Adrift on the seas in the wreck of the craft, the first ship to cross his path was that of a woman. She was fleeing with her children, Mina and Karl, from their father, the pirate Kraken. Dante didn’t reach them in time to save the woman, but did manage to kill the Kraken’s men before they could take the children.

Pirates

Trying to get them to a safe port, their boat was captured by Akita Sagawa’s Black Dragon Yakuza society. Akita, head of the Sagawa Clan, governed the waters on the Tsar’s behalf. Katarina Dante was the main opposition to her rule. She held the children hostage to force Nikolai to help her capture his mother.

Reuniting with his mother, in the midst of an orchestrated attack by the Black Dragons, Nikolai was reluctantly accepted by her. He was given his own ship to captain as part of her fleet, based out of her stronghold at Escondida. She didn’t let him have any of her crews though, forcing him to assemble his own.

Dante began on his first solo pirating mission. This is when he ran across Spatchcock and Flintlock, the only survivors of the Rudinshtein Irregulars still at large.

It took a while to build his crew and reputation, gaining additional ships under his control. But rumours began to spread that he’d be taking control of the fleet from his mother. He continued to follow her orders, though, but there remained a distance between the pair.

Another secret weapon

Dispatched to rescue a spy of his mother’s, he met Lauren again, and they began a relationship. The information she brought was regarding the Tsar’s experiments on a mysterious secret weapon being developed on an imperial outpost in the Caspian Sea.

Sagawa was also interested in the weapon, and instructed Nikolai to secure it for her rather than his mother when he, Lauren, and his mother’s lieutenant, Marguerite, infiltrated the platform. They broke in too easily. The imperial forces had already been killed by the Kraken and his Reivers.

The weapon turned out to be an alien creature, retrieved from the ocean bed. It had lain dormant there for millennia. Possessing shapechanging abilities, it would infect a host, reading their DNA to add to its collection of shapes, and kill other life forms so it could find a stronger one to inhabit.

Released by the battle, it killed all the Reivers but the Kraken, who managed to dominate it when it took over his body. He tried to kill Nikolai, and did fatally wound Marguerite, before being apparently killed.

Pirate takeover

With Nikolai’s reputation growing, he challenged the other pirate lords, including his mother. A duel took place for control of all their fleets, which he won. Forcing his mother to retire, he escorted her to retirement, actually handing her over to Akita. But Akita betrayed him, taking Katarina and leaving Nikolai for dead.

Nikolai Dante stands on a red flying car

Rescued by the pirates led by Lauren, he was to be killed for betraying them. He tried to convince them it was all part of a plan with his mother to end Sagawa power, and that they were supposed to attack Pacifica, the oceanic stronghold of the Black Dragons, in force. They did so, but with Nikolai tied to the prow of the lead ship, laden with explosives.

Managing to free himself in time, Nikolai boarded Pacifica. Therein he found his mother, Mina and Karl. He also discovered that Akita’s new artificial warriors, the Dragons, were actually cloned from the recovered form of the Kraken.

Seeing his daughter reawakened the Kraken’s personality. Then he took over the Dragons, killing everyone aboard, including Akita. Buying his mother time to get Mina and Karl free, Nikolai stayed to battle the Dragons. Overwhelmed, he’d probably have died had the imperial forces not arrived. The Lord Protector killed the Kraken and took Nikolai to the Tsar.

Sword of the Tsar, part 1

It was 2673 when Nikolai was brought before the Tsar. Since his experience was needed to deal with a secret invasion by the White Army, Nikolai was offered the role of Sword of the Tsar. Having little option, and embracing the opportunity to work with Jena again, he accepted. The pair soon found another infiltrator.

However, the White Army were soon aware of his involvement. They lured the pair into a trap. They only survived with help from Khara, the last surviving member of the otherdimensional Red Army.

She returned with them to the imperial palace. But Khara was soon revealed to have been infected by the White Army, and to have used Nikolai to get close to the Tsar. Nikolai killed her with the Huntsman, the gun she’d given him.

Sword of the Tsar, part 2

Nikolai continued to operate as Sword of the Tsar, since Vladmir was hoping to end Dante’s popularity with the masses by having him seen as an imperial agent. Dante arranged to have Elena Kurakin released from gulag to be his bodyguard.

Nikolai Dante shows a golden eagle shoulder tattoo

He was assigned to track down Lulu, after her latest terrorist action against the empire caused outrage. Dante did so, apparently killing her.

Nikolai returned to Rudinshtein. It had become an alienation zone following the war, cut off from the rest of the empire. He dealt with the bandit lords who had taken over. In this way the region would be accepted back into the empire, as part of his deal with the Tsar.

While there Nikolai learned that Viktor had survived the war, and was living a peaceful life with a local girl. He kept his brother’s survival a secret.

Sword of the Tsar, part 3

When the Tsar’s oracle, Odessa, was kidnapped, Nikolai was sent to rescue her, which he did with ease. A fan of his, Odessa revealed that the Tsar had asked her before offering Nikolai his current post whether he’d betray him. She had lied.

Dante was dispatched with Jena to Amerika, to try and rein in the terrorist groups fighting imperial occupation. He found a populace less enamoured of him, and was injured by a suicide bomb within a teenage girl. This disrupted talks with the insurgent groups. The technology of the bomb proved to be of White Army origin.

Jena and Nikolai learned that the invaders had managed to infiltrate a good portion of the Manhattan populace. These were now their unwilling slaves. Allying with the insurgents, Nikolai and Jena attacked the White Army’s base in Manhattan. They barely escaped before the Tsar bombed the city, killing infected, insurgents, and innocent bystanders alike.

Enraged by the senseless slaughter, Nikolai held his temper until he got close enough to Tsar Vladimir. At this point, he stabbed him. He didn’t get to finish the job though. The Lord Protector subdued him, only stopped from killing him by the Tsar, who wanted Nikolai to suffer first.

An Army of Thieves and Whores

His Crest disabled, the Tsar’s finest torturers worked on him without success. They were joined by the Lord Protector. The Lord revealed himself to be his brother Konstantin, saved by the Tsar’s men after Nikolai left him for dead.

Nikolai Dante over a metropolis, riding a horse-shaped flying bike

Dante suffered a month without telling them anything. Then the Tsar had Odessa blinded before him, and threatened worse should Nikolai not reveal who he’d been plotting with.

However, when the Imperial forces moved on them, the Rudinshtein Irregulars were missing from their barracks. Media surrounded the place to prevent reprisals on the populace. And Katarina Dante’s palace was rigged to explode on the Imperial forces sent to take her.

With Jena’s help Nikolai escaped. He fled both Imperial forces and bounty hunters and eventually met up with the Rudinshtein Irregulars, led by Elena. Joining with his Mafiya forces, Jocasta’s spy network, and a growing army of those who saw him as the last hope to oppose the Tsar’s oppression, he began the revolution in 2676.


Personality

Nikolai is irreverent and cheerfully disrespectful of authority figures. He can’t help puncturing inflated egos, or toppling petty despots, although experience has made him more cautious in the toppling of powerful despots. He’s still driven to do so, but will now plan such things rather than barrelling in.

With anyone not overwhelmed by their own importance, or some women who are, he tends to be open and friendly, treating everyone equally.

Swashbuckler unbuckled

Originally Nikolai was very much a devil-may-care swashbuckler. He impulsively reacted to situations rather than thinking. His temper could be set off with little effort, cooling down almost as fast. And he pretty much chased every attractive woman who wasn’t actually trying to kill him, and a few who were.

Nikolai Dante with allies and an army

The war changed him greatly. He became more embittered, hating the actions of the Romanovs as much as those of the Tsar’s forces. Dante lost much of his earlier happy-go-lucky attitude, becoming more inclined to think things through before acting. Although maybe not all the way through.

By the end of the war he’d lost pretty much everything. He had an almost suicidal recklessness for a while, as he tried to recapture his earlier attitude, if only in imitation.

Other traits

The end of the war also left him determined to see an end to Tsar Vladimir’s rule. But he began approaching it in a slower, more methodical manner. He began recruiting allies even as he served as Sword of the Tsar. His main goal now seems to be the fall of the Empire.

Despite his regular protestations of “honour be damned”, and his general disregard for the nobility’s notion of honour (treating your betters with respect, and those below you with disdain), Nikolai is one of the most noble people around. He treats others as they treat people, regardless of their social class. He defends the weak from anyone who would oppress them.


Quotes

Nikolai Dante

“I’m too cool to kill.”

“Honour be damned.”

“Bojemoi !”

“Diavolo !”

“Fuoco !”

“The things I say to get into people’s pants !”

“So ! Which one of you noble scumbags is my father !?”

“How come every woman who hits on me these days turns out to be an alien shapeshifter after my blood instead of my other bodily fluids ?”

“When it comes to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, there’s not a man alive who can touch me.”

“No one says things they don’t mean with more sincerity than me.”

“I’m a hard man to kill. Just wish I didn’t have to prove it quite so often.”

[Just after the war, to an old “friend” holding him at knife point, planning to collect the bounty].
Nikolai: “Tanya. I’ve had more attempts on my life than you’ve had clients as a seductress. They call me a war criminal. They say I raped and murdered and looted. They say I gunned down soldiers who were begging to surrender, then waded into the corpses and slit the throats of the ones still alive. They say I burned women and children, then pissed on them to put out the flames. What do you think, Tanya ? Could I do what they say ? Is that who I am ?”
Tanya: “P-please, Nikolai. D-don’t hurt me.”

Odessa (the Tsar’s oracle): “Don’t you want to know how it’ll all end ?”
Nikolai: “Win or lose, people I care about will be hurt, killed. I’ll do things I’ll regret, things I’ll hate forever. If I knew too much, I’d never do anything. And it needs to be done.”
Odessa: “There must be something. Everybody wants to know something. What about Tsarina Jena ? Don’t you want to know what happens between you and her ?”
Nikolai: “Nah, it’d spoil the fun. Can’t have that. Listen, for tonight it’s enough to know that you’re safe. You don’t get to meet too many good people in my line of work.” [Starts walking away. Stops, turning back] “Ah, fuoco. Okay, you got me. How am I going to die ?”
Odessa: “Spectacularly.”
Nikolai: “Spectacularly. I can live with that.”

Weapon Crest

“Please maintain a semblance of dignity. In addition to combat duties, I am bound to educate you in the ways of the aristocracy and mould you into a potential ruler of the empire. Not an easy task.”

“There are strange gaps in my databanks – no doubt due to having bonded with your inferior genes.”

Nikolai: “Okay, Crest. Give it to me straight. What’re the odds of me surviving this ?”
Crest: “Well, I don’t wish to alarm you, but I’ve given up formulating possible escape strategies and am currently compiling your obituary. A scandalous read. Care to hear the first draft ?”


Marvel Universe History

The White Army were captive Phalanx, enslaved by a race trying to use their technology, who eventually fell prey to them.


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Nikolai Dante

Dex: 08 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Seeking Justice (a hint of Thrill of Adventure remaining)
Int: 05 Wil: 05 Min: 06 Occupation: Rebellion Leader; former thief, Raven Corps Captain, Romanov family member, Governor, fugitive, pirate, Sword of the Tsar
Inf: 07 Aur: 07 Spi: 08 Resources {or Wealth}: 006
Init: 022 HP: 075

Powers:
Chameleon: 04, Claws: 07, Invulnerability: 08, Regeneration: 03

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • All Powers are provided by his Weapons Crest (see below).
  • Chameleon only allows duplication of retinas and voice (-1).
  • Claws may be used for Blocking (+1).

Skills:
Acrobatics: 07, Charisma (Persuasion): 07, Martial Artist: 06, Military Science (Danger Recognition, Field Command): 06, Thief: 07, Vehicles: 07, Weaponry (Firearms, Melee, Missile)*: 08

Advantages:
Attractive, Local Hero (among the oppressed), Luck, Pet (Weapons Crest).

Connections:
Jena Makarov (High), King Henry Windsor McKray (High), Russian Mafiya (High).

Drawbacks:
Authority Figure (Revolution), MIA (Attractive Women), Mistrust, Unluck, Loss Vulnerability (Should the Crest be temporarily neutralized, Nikolai would lose all his powers except Invulnerability and Regeneration, which would both lose an AP, and his Physical Stats would all drop an AP).

Equipment:
Huntsman 5000 [BODY 10, Projectile Weapons: 08, Sharpness (Projectile Weapons): 10, Misc. Advantage (If fired by anyone but Nikolai, the attack turns upon them)].
From the same dimension as his Weapons Crest, the Huntsman 5000 is a self-reliant, multi-purpose weapons system, whose shells are instantly adapted into the most efficient means of terminating the target, and can bring down small fighter craft.
The gun is coded specifically to its wielder’s genetics, so if anyone else tries using it, the shot reverses trajectory after leaving the barrel, targeting the wielder. Ammunition is created internally, and automatically replenished.


Weapons crest

Dex: /// Str: /// Bod: /// Motivation: Programmed
Int: 08 Wil: 08 Min: 08 Occupation: A.I.
Inf: 05 Aur: 05 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: N.A.
Init: 013

Powers:
Chameleon: 02, Interface: 10, Life Sense: 08, Self-Link (Gadgetry): 10

Bonuses and Limitations:
Chameleon only affects the Crest itself (-1).

Skills:
Military Science (Cryptography, Danger Recognition): 10, Thief (Security Systems): 10

Advantages:
Omni-Scholar.


Previous Stats

His Mistrust has come and gone over his career. Prior to joining the family Romanov he was on the run from the Tsar’s forces for a brief period. His family connection gave him protection from this, as well as Special Credentials (and Authority Figure in Rudinshtein, although this has also fluctuated in how much of his attention is required).

During the war he had Mistrust from the Tsar’s forces. He became a more general Mistrust following the war, when he gained a hefty bounty on his head. One scene has it as 50 million for him dead or 75 million for him alive, but a later scene has it as much lower. Possibly they were in different currencies.

Nikolai Dante in a fencing stance, with his gentleman thief bandit mask

He lost the Mistrust after becoming Sword of the Tsar, when he again gained Special Credentials. These were lost after he tried to kill Vladimir, at which point he regained his Mistrust, and soon gained the Authority Figure (Revolution).

Prior to the war he had the Thrill of Adventure Motivation, and prior to the end of the war he had the Enemy Drawback for his enmity with Count Pyre.

During his time back with his mother’s fleet, he had a Dark Secret with regards to his reasons for joining.

From the beginning of his career he had an Enemy Drawback with the Abratov Family (see below). But this seems to have been less frequent since the end of the war.


The Honour of the Family Abratov

During his first encounter with the nobility Dante embarrassed Captain Abratov of the Tsar’s Own Hussar’s. This resulted in his flailing and eventual death. This was taken as an offence against the Abratovs, an extended family whose members are officers in many branches of the military.

As a result they’ve adopted a vendetta against Nikolai, and he frequently runs across them, being forced into duels or suchlike, inevitably increasing their obsession. The Abratov’s, while often elite soldiers, rarely offer any real challenge for Nikolai, being more of a nuisance. But their authority could be a problem, dependant on his current circumstances.

He encounters them around every third adventure, and they’re regularly a ½x threat.


Design Notes

  • The Crest allegedly give him enhanced senses, but there’s little evidence to base stats on.
  • His Weapons Crest has been modelled as a Pet since it can operate relatively independently, accessing nearby machinery without distracting Nikolai from combat.
  • There’s one scene where he transforms a hand into a small shield rather than a sword. Rather than give him Self-Manipulation with Limitations, which just seemed complicated when I tried it, I’ve allowed his Claws to be used for Blocking.


By Gareth Lewis.

Source of Character: Nikolai Dante strip in 2000A.D..

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 23rd of May, 2010.

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