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Ragman ignoring gunshots

Ragman

(Rory Regan) (Post-Crisis version)


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

Context

DC Comics reinvented their obscure super-hero the Ragman after the Crisis on Infinite Earths. This wholly revised version, who appeared in 1991, was based on European Jewish culture and folklore. It was essentially a protector golem made of magic fabric.

This profile was written during the early 2000s, so it doesn’t incorporate later appearances by the Ragman (who kept appearing with surprising regularity).


Background

  • Real Name: Rory Regan
  • Marital Status: Divorced
  • Known Relatives: Gerry Regan a.k.a. Jerzy Reganiewicz (father, deceased)
  • Group Affiliation: Shadowpact (previously the Sentinels of Magic), formerly none
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile
  • Height: 5’11” Weight: 165 lbs
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Brown


Powers and Abilities

Though Rory is in excellent physical condition, whatever combat skills he had from his service in Việt Nam seem to have atrophied. By the time he became Ragman, he was no match for the pair of common thugs. He did have some basic intrusion skills, including some ability at picking locks, though security alarms were too sophisticated for him to deal with.

Albeit his adventures since becoming the Ragman, he has learned some basic occult lore. Rory had occasional precognitive dreams, though they were too vague to provide useful information. A gamemaster could still use them as narrative hooks.

מאַגיש שטאָף

Regan is the latest Ragman, an avenger and protector empowered by a mystical suit. While the wearer is bonded to the Ragman costume, he is almost impossible to destroy. While his durability is only slightly superhuman, any damage sustained is repaired in seconds.

However, the rags are extremely vulnerable to fire, a weakness added by the Rabbis who created the Ragman as a security measure in case the suit fell into the wrong hands.

The suit also has several modes of transportation. It gives the users prodigious leaping ability, can slowly float through the air, or discorporate and reform great distances away. The latter form of discorporation can also be used in a more limited manner to avoid physical attacks by allowing the rags to simply flow around objects as well as to ensnare nearby opponents by smothering them in a cloud of rags.

סטילער פון נשמות

Perhaps the most macabre of the costume’s abilities is the stealing of souls. The suit is drawn toward evil souls. It can sense them in its vicinity and is compelled to seek them out and attack them. This compulsion is also inflicted upon the wearer if he has the costume on.

The evil acts of people who have been detected in this manner can also be sensed by the Ragman. Rory could not do this at first, having to learn of those crimes in a more mundane manner, but this writeup assumes he simply had not learned so in those earlier stories. This sensing of sins does not work on those people or beings who are not evil.

The suit can steal a person’s soul as long as it is still touching his body. Ragman will usually subdue a target (knock them unconscious or stun them) to minimize their ability to resist, but this is not necessary. In DC Heroes RPG terms such fights also encourage the target to spend Hero Points , further reducing their ability to resist.

Once a soul is absorbed, the body is left a brain-dead husk and the mind and spirit become yet another rag on the costume. The stolen soul is not affected if the physical body subsequently dies.

בעל פון בייז נשמות

After a soul is incorporated into the Ragman suit, it can be used in several ways. Its energy can be directed into boosting the wearer’s strength, speed, coordination, and fighting prowess. When the wearer uses it in this manner, he can become such a skilled combatant that he can easily defeat a roomful of armed men without being struck in return a single time in the process.

This energy can also be directed into making the Ragman’s influence more formidable. When concentrating on such actions, the mere presence of the Ragman can make groups of armed gunmen stop attacking or even flee the scene.

Ragman (Rory Regan) on a white background

The wearer can also look into the memories of the absorbed soul and extract any information therein as desired. It is also possible that the wearer might be able to use some of the abilities possessed by the souls in the rag suit — using a captured sorcerer’s memories to cast spells, for example — but this is only speculation.

Powered by redemption

There is an implied redemption of evil souls contained within the rag suit, but no mechanism for this has yet been shown. Rory’s comments seem to indicate that this redemption is linked to the soul willingly assisting the wearer in his mission and thus slowly working off its moral debt. This process has been stated to take a century or more.

While the souls power the suit, no single soul seems to make a noticeable difference in the Ragman’s power levels. Accordingly, the acquisition or loss of souls as time goes by is usually not a serious concern to the current trustee of the costume.

The costume can steal souls that are not evil. Indeed, on two occasions the ability to absorb the souls of good people was essential for keeping the suit under control.

On another occasion, Rory attempted to use the suit to absorb the amoral soul of a mystic servitor. He was able to begin the process but the servitor fought it off, indicating that the suit has difficulty absorbing the souls of mystically-powerful creatures.

Psychic links

Like all of those who have trained in the use of the suit, Rory has formed a rudimentary telepathic bond with the Ragman costume. He can communicate with the suit’s collective personality. Though he speaks out loud, only he can hear the suit’s replies. Rory also uses this trait to summon the suit to him over short distances.

Though detailed exchanges are only possible at short range, those attuned to the suit in this manner can still get a general sense of its disposition while active, and vice versa. For example, the Rabbi who trained had trained Gerry sensed when the suit became active again (when Rory first put it on) and where it was despite being an unknown distance away.

The suit also sensed when the Rabbi passed away. It relayed that information to Rory even though the Rabbi was no longer in the same city as Rory and the suit when he died. Rory has not as yet developed this second talent. It may require additional special training in Jewish mystic rituals such as the Rabbi had.

Because the Ragman was created as a symbol of hope to protect communities, he can over time form a limited psychic bond with the people of a given neighborhood. When this process is complete, the people of the community will find themselves acting as one with the Ragman to confront local threats.

Once this occurs, the Ragman’s work is finished and he will move on, teleporting to a new place that needs his help. How the suit determines where the Ragman is needed next is unknown.

The suit has an additional failsafe that compels the wearer to teleport away if the battle for a neighborhood is hopeless. The Ragman was meant to inspire hope, so staying to fight a lost cause would be futile. The suit’s creators felt it was better to have the Ragman live to fight another day rather than be destroyed.


History

(Taken from Batman #551, wherein Rory relates the full history of the Ragman, with editorial notes in parentheses.)

“The 16th-Century Prague ghettos were filled with oppressed and impoverished Jews in desperate need of a protector. Rabbi Loew, versed in the mystical secrets of the Kabbalah, set out to create such a guardian, forming an indomitable yet obedient creature of clay — the “Golem,” literally meaning ’body without soul.‘

Uneasy about being defended by a soulless monster, however, a council of Rabbis replaced the Golem with a “living costume”. It was animated by a human agent and passed down through the generations from one avenging Ragman to the next.

From Warsaw to Gotham

“Just prior to World War II, the costume was inherited by Jerzy Reganiewicz, who became defender of the Warsaw ghetto. He suffered crushing defeat when the Nazis invaded Poland. As “Gerry Regan”, he moved to the United States after the war.

He opened a junk and pawn shop in Gotham’s worst slum (named “Rags’n’tatters”). All the while he shielded his son from the terrible responsibility of the Ragman’s failed cloak.

(Gerry’s desire to protect Rory became even stronger after Rory returned from the Việt Nam War as a traumatized wreck. Rory married and lived a life separate from his father’s for a while, but his marriage fell apart. This in conjunction with other failures eventually drove him back to his father’s pawn shop.)

“Some gangsters wanted to use the junk shop as a front for drug sales. They murdered Gerry Regan and left his son Rory — me — for dead. Only (then) did I discover my inheritance — hidden inside an old suitcase. With the help of my father’s Rabbi, I was able to master the tattered costume and its powers. I’ve used them to defend the weak and downtrodden ever since.

(End of Batman #551 excerpt)

Wherever I may roam

Once Rory had cleaned up his original Gotham City neighborhood, he traveled wherever the suit took him. Though he has roamed quite a bit, few details of these adventures are known. Regan has ended up in both Gotham City and New Orleans on several occasions. He has also made at least one trip to Blüdhaven.

On the mystic front, the Ragman joined a group of Earth’s mystic defenders, the Sentinels of Magic. Thus he aided in resolving the Day of Judgment crisis in which the demon Neron claimed the power of the Spectre.

More recently, Regan collaborated with a new iteration of that same group, now called the Shadowpact. He thus confronted the mystic crises that threatened the world during the Day of Vengeance and the Infinite Crisis. He became a full-time member of the Shadowpact after the Infinite Crisis.


Description

The Ragman is a terrifying figure to behold. He wears a suit of rags that blows around him independent of the wind, making him seem like there are grasping hands all around him. His identity is entirely obscured by the suit. Ragman, when pursuing an evildoer, will sometimes call out their sins as he chases them down.

When not wearing the rag suit, Rory is a somewhat homely man with thinning brown hair and a thin but wiry build. He has a series of scars all over his body, a remnant of the attack that left his father dead and him the inheritor of the Ragman costume. These scars have faded over time and even the diagonal scar across his face is no longer evident to casual inspection.


Personality

Rory was initially hesitant about the responsibilities of being the Ragman. But he eventually began to take pride in the idea of fighting evils and working to bring communities together.

Rory has a strong moral sense of right and wrong. At the same time, he truly cares about the souls of those he captures and hopes to help them find redemption. This concern for others originally even extended to trying to convince the less-hardened criminals to give up their evil ways.

Years of cleaning up the dregs of society has had its toll, though. Rory has become almost jaded about it. Now, Ragman is just someone with a job to do. He thinks of it no differently than being a street cleaner. Someone needs to clean up the human garbage and that someone happens to be him.

On matters beyond his primary quest to garner evil souls, he is still a selfless hero willing to give his all to better the world.

Emotions in motion

While Rory has become somewhat inured to his role as the Ragman, he has oddly become more temperamental and excitable about other subjects. When he first became the Ragman, Rory was amazingly resilient. Even when suffering multiple serious setbacks such as being beaten nearly to death, having his father killed, and losing everything he owned all at the same time Regan responded with quiet, calm resolve.

He now gets slightly panicked or flustered more easily than he did in previous years. This is probably due to a combination of the horrors he has seen during his work and the continued corrosive influence of the souls of the suit, which take every opportunity to mock or defy him.

The Ragman suit’s souls formed a collective intelligence of sorts. This group-mind often engages in subtle psychological warfare with the suit’s wearer.

In addition to inflicting the suit’s compulsions upon the wearer, the group-mind will often make spiteful comments about the wearer or relay troubling or upsetting facts. Examples of the latter include telling the Rabbi that Rory had absorbed repentant souls and informing Rory that his beloved Rabbi had died while he was in the middle of a very challenging fight.

While Rory at one time simply thought of the collected spirits as “the souls,” he has since become familiar enough with the suit that he now regards each of the souls as an individual as he draws upon their energies.


Quotes

“Bringing the authorities into the situation may complicate matters, but I do have feelings. Innocent lives must not be imperiled… In addition to feelings, I have patience. I have kept these men away from the stairwells while the building is being evacuated. Thus, patience has its rewards. And thankfully, its limits.”

“I allow the rags to rustle and swirl in the building’s still air and make sure that the thugs notice them. It is important that there be no doubt that the rags are alive…and that they are invincible.”

“I serve not myself, but those who need me.”

(While tapping the energy of souls for strength) “They scream bloody murder all the while, but they give up the goods. I notice Joe doesn’t pitch in yet. They never do at first. He’ll learn or he’ll be part of the suit long after I’m no longer the poor sucker wearing it.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Ragman

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Responsibility of Power
Int: 05 Wil: 06 Min: 07 Occupation: Adventurer
Inf: 06 Aur: 05 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 006
Init: 015 HP: 040 Genre: Action

Skills:
Occultist (Occult Knowledge): 02, Thief (Locks & Safes, Stealth): 04

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (his home neighborhood of Gotham City), Expertise (Jewish occult lore), Local Hero (his home neighborhood), Pet (Ragman costume)

Connections:
Batman (Low), Betty Berg, proprietor of Rags ’n’ Tatters (Low), Black Alice (Low), Rabbis (High) Phantom Stranger (Low), Sentinels of Magic/Shadowpact (High)

Drawbacks:
Secret Identity


Riches to Rags

Rory’s SPIRIT was a 07 at the time he first began using the suit. It had fallen to 06 by the time he returned to Gotham City seeking help to control the Ragman suit. His continuing travails have since lowered his Spirit to its current 05.


The Ragman tatters

/BODY/ 07 INT 04 AUR 04 /SPI/ 12

Powers:
Alert: 06, Detect (Evil): 10, Flight: 04, Fluid Form: 06, Invulnerability: 12, Jumping: 01, Mind Probe: 05, Personality Transfer: 06, Power Reserve (Jumping, wearer’s DEX, STR,&INFL): 07, Regeneration: 14, Snare: 10, Telepathy: 02, Teleportation: 14

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • All Powers are Mystic Linked (+10 Base Cost each)
  • Alert is Usable on Others with an Area Effect of 11 APs — In other words, it can warn all other qualified people in that area simultaneously (+4FC total)
  • Alert is only Usable on Others in places where the Ragman has become a Local Hero and only upon persons who are part of that focus group (-2FC total)
  • Alert notifies the qualified people that “a friend” needs help to defend their community and where to gather in order to do this (+1FC total)
  • Fluid Form cannot be used for heightened travel speed (-1FC)
  • Fluid Form, Invulnerability, and Regeneration cannot be used against fire-based attacks (-1FC each)
  • Mind Probe can only be used on those the suit has Detected or has captured through Personality Transfer (-2FC)
  • When Mind Probe is being used on a Detected target, it can only reveal that person’s sins — this Limitation does not apply to Mind Probing of souls absorbed into the suit (-1FC)
  • Personality Transfer is Only Usable of Others and only to transfer their souls to the Ragman Suit — the attack against the target is still resolved as usual as usual (-2FC)
  • Personality Transfer does not allow the stolen soul to actually possess the costume but only places the soul inside one of the rags — the only action a transferred soul can take is to communicate with the wearer of the costume or the other souls within it (+2FC Bonus, since this benefits the suit and its wearer)
  • Personality Transfer only has a Range of Touch, which does include Snared targets (-1FC)
  • Personality Transfer is Mystic Linked, so the OV/RV is based on the target’s INFL/AURA (-0FC)
  • Personality Transfer is Permanent (3x Base Cost)
  • Personality Transfer leaves the target’s physical body behind — since the transfer is permanent, the transferred soul is not affected by anything that happens to the body (-1FC)
  • Power Reserve cannot add more than 04 APs to DEX, INFL, or Jumping — Rory’s default distribution is +4 to DEX and +3 to STR (-1FC)
  • Regeneration only reduces time to recover from Killing Damage (-1FC)
  • Snare can be used for strangulation without needing to make a Trick Shot (+2FC)
  • Snare only has a Range of 1 AP (-1FC)
  • Telepathy is limited to those who have trained with the Ragman suit and their heirs (-2FC each)
  • Telepathy is Always On — the suit will always pick up a trained user’s orders and respond to them (-1FC)
  • Teleportation is Minorly Marginal (-1FC)

Skills:
Acrobatics (Climbing): (Linked to wearer’s DEX), Charisma (Intimidation): (Linked to wearer’s INF), Martial Artist: (Linked to wearer’s DEX)

Bonuses and Limitations:
Linked Skills increase along with the Linked Attribute when that Attribute is raised by the suit’s Power Reserve (+1FC to each Linked Skill)

Drawbacks:
Catastrophic Rage, Partial Attack Vulnerability Drawback (-2CS to RV versus fire), MIA (attacking evil beings that the suit has detected), CIA (Fleeing hopeless battles), Miscellaneous (The Ragman costume usually cannot perform any actions other than Detect (Evil) while it is not being worn by someone; however, a successful Detect (Evil) Check followed by a failed roll against the suit’s MIA will result in the rags flying toward a target hoping to Snare and then Spirit Drain it whether the suit is being worn by anyone or not).


Sewing a Mystery

The Ragman costume was created using the same ritual that had been employed to create the Golem of Jewish legend. The exact details of this ritual are not known, but in both cases a humanoid figure is created out of clay or a costume is made out of rags and then the artifact is completed by emblazoning the word “Emet” — “truth” — upon the head or cowl of the respective objects.

Both items apparently draw from the same source of mystic power, so the Golem can only be created while the Ragman suit is inactive and if the suit is activated while a Golem exists, the clay warrior will begin to deteriorate.

Note that this same limitation also applies to the Golem and the Ragman suit separately — as long as one of those artifacts already exists, another cannot be created. This was why Ragman’s rabbi did not make another Ragman suit during the original Ragman’s absence.


Community Policing

A theme of the first mini-series was that the Ragman was not simply a guardian of a neighborhood but also an inspiration. By bringing people together he would not just protect them but also show them how to protect themselves. This is in part reflected by the Alert Power as noted above.

It was also implied that once this process was complete and the community had learned to act collectively for its own defense, then the Ragman would move on to another community in need.

The precise mechanism by which the Ragman senses where he should go next is unknown, but probably related to his overall ability to detect evil and is reflected in the stats above by the Precognition Power.

This idea seems to have been dropped in subsequent appearances, with the Ragman behaving only as a reactive vigilante who stops individual evildoers as he encounters them without any larger goal.

However, if ones uses the Ragman in a campaign it would be easy enough to rationalize that later approach as a consequence of the same psychological factors that are eroding his Spirit and to reintroduce that earlier approach as a sign of Ragman overcoming those factors.

The place that the Ragman would be summoned to next can simply be determined by GM fiat, since it is not something under the Ragman’s control anyway. If one needed to put an AP number to it (for example, if someone was trying to misdirect the Ragman through some mystic means), use the Detect (Evil) Power for that purpose.


Unravelling Tapestry

The Ragman has had frequent Power Complication Subplots in which the IA will rise to Serious or even Catastrophic, representing Rory losing control of the suit. On both occasions, he has resolved this Subplot by absorbing a good spirit.

The first time during his debut mini-series, he absorbed the Golem, another Jewish mystical protector whose inherent goodness helped balance out the evil souls within the suit. In the second mini-series, the Golem’s spirit was freed by a sorcerer and Rory began struggling for control again.

He finally overcame this during his appearance in Batman #551-2 by absorbing the soul of a dying Rabbi, who volunteered to help Rory regain control of the Ragman suit.

The suit will also sometimes attempt to Persuade Rory to take actions that would have bad consequences for him or simply demean him in an attempt to lower his morale. These can be represented as standard Character Interaction maneuvers using the costume’s INFL/AURA.

Stealing souls counts as Killing Combat for the purposes of Catastrophic Rage, but does not count against the wearer for HP reward purposes. This means that if the wearer of the suit gives in to Rage, he will often steal the target’s soul to avoid taking the HP penalty even if he was not planning to do so before.

By Mike Winkler and Roy Cowan

Source of Character: DC Comics (1991 Ragman mini-series, Legends of the Dark Knight #51, Ragman: Cry of the Dead mini-series, Batman #551-2, Day of Judgment mini-series, Robin #143-5, Day of Vengeance mini-series and one-shot, Infinite Crisis mini-series)

Helper(s): Sébastien Andrivet

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