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Raza of the Starjammers (Marvel Comics, X-Men)

Raza Longknife


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

Context

Raza is a member of the small crew of space pirates, the Starjammers. Like the rest he appeared in 1977, and has chiefly been an ally of the X-Men during their “space” adventures. Usually those involved the Shi’ar  Empire.

We flarking recommend that you first read the d’ast Starjammers team profile for context. Much smoother that way.


Background

  • Real Name: Raza Longknife
  • Marital Status: Widower
  • Known Relatives: Rion (son, likely deceased), unnamed wife (deceased)
  • Group Affiliation: Starjammers
  • Base Of Operations: HMSS Starjammer (mobile throughout the Shi’ar galaxy)
  • Height: 5’11” Weight: 250 lbs (incl. cybernetic parts)
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Reddish-orange supple feathers ; small black moustache

Notes about the background

Raza’s culture seems loosely inspired by the popular image of some American Indian warrior cultures. It appears to have a very wide and extensive notion of what family is. Thus, there are several instances where he addresses people by calling them “cousin” or “brother”, but I think that he means it figuratively and not in the strict sense of a blood relative.

Once Raza calls Gladiator “cousin”. This is likely an example of figurative use. Since Gladiator is at this point of unclear heritage but sports a mohawk and a “noble warrior” code of honour, it is vaguely possible that Gladiator’s and Raza’s native cultures share an history and address each others as “cousins” to mark this.

Raza Longknife with a rapier and a hand axe, over a white background

Raza also refers to Zenith of the Imperial Guard as his brother. In *this* instance it seemed to be actual kinship, but Marvel seems to have later decided that Raza meant it figuratively. Since Raza seemed to hate Zenith and consider it very important that he get to kill him, I would imagine that Zenith is one of the very few survivors of Raza’s culture.

A No-Prize Hypothesis  would be that Zenith survived because he was a traitor who had allied with the mainstream Shi’ar forces.

Hepzibah once stated that Raza was “blood-kin” to Lilandra. Though she was probably just referring to the fact both are Shi’ar, it is vaguely possible that there is more to it.

Background notes, part 2

To further confuse matters, Raza has referred to “his race” in a way that implied he considered it distinct from the imperial Shi’ar. Also, he once made a joke implying that Korvus was the only Shi’ar aboard the Starjammer.

I would assume that Raza was using the word “race” in the sense of an ethnic group (such as “white people”) rather than in the zoological sense (such as “human people”). But even his species is unclear.

Hepzibah stated that Raza’s people had been exterminated by the Shi’ar. This still fits with the hypothesis that they were a distinct culture within the Shi’ar species.

Raza did swear by Sharra and K’ythri, the official religion of the Imperium. But that does not necessarily means he worships them, and even if it does he might not follow the official religious practices. Since Raza once mentioned Imperium troops as “the infidel Shi’ar” religion is in fact the most likely root of the conflict.


Powers and Abilities

Raza is a professional warrior, favouring close combat with pistol and sabre. Being Shi’ar (well, we *think* he’s Shi’ar…), he is stronger than a human being.

Furthermore, Mr. Longknife has received extensive cybernetic replacements. The most obvious is his cybernetic arm, which has superhuman strength and very strong grip.

However, he also has :

  • a number of onboard computers (with translation software and energy tracking capabilities)
  • atmospheric filters
  • a sort of HUD
  • the ability to morph his artificial hand and wrist into a blade
  • the ability to enlarge his hand and turn his fingers into large talons
  • the ability to generate an arc for welding between his fingers
  • and probably other built-in systems

Apparently the main goal of the implants filling Raza’s body was to make an unkillable cybernetic soldier, who could continue fighting a war even when heavily damaged. Raza has theorised that he could only be killed by prolonged exposure to hard vacuum, a nuclear strike, or similar levels of force.

He apparently has already survived massive wounds, but we have little material to assess his durability and how it actually works.

Other assets

He also seems to be much older than the other Starjammers. But it is unknown whether this stems from his cybernetics or the natural life span of his kind.

Raza Longknife with a swing line and rapier, over a white background

The Starjammers are all fearsome fighters wielding the finest weaponry with great acumen. They have repeatedly proved able to successfully engage consequent military and/or superhuman forces, earning a remarkable series of victories and miraculous escapes.

Everybody but Cr+eee also speaks fluent English. They were apparently taught by Corsair soon after they banded together. However in Raza’s case it would seem that he “learned” English by instead using slightly outdated databases in his linguistic computers.

Corsair also seems to have trained most ’jammers to competently pilot spaceships, from starfighters to cruisers such as the HMSS Starjammer.

Cold steel

One of assets of the Starjammers is that, whilst they normally fight with energy guns, they are adept at switching to close combat with sabres, knives, claws, fists, etc.. This gives them a considerable edge over conventional troops if they can close in. Raza prefers to fight that way.

Raza is roughly on par with Nightcrawler when practising swordplay. But has considerably greater brutality and killer instinct than Kurt in an actual fight. In a duel to the death he seemed to perform somewhat below the expertise of the Black Knight (Dane Whitman), but not by much. When wielding his sabre with his cybernetic arm, he canst cleaveth a large car in twain, verily.

At one point Raza easily folds back some metal with his *unenhanced* arm. I wasn’t entirely sure how to interpret that, but it felt like an artistic mistake. I assume that it was meant to be his cybernetic arm.


History

The bulk of the history can be found under the Starjammers entry on writeups.org, as an experiment to see if this makes the individual writeups more readable. This section only includes material not covered in the team’s history.

Raza Longknife may be from a distinct Shi’ar ethnic group that is not considered to be a part of the mainstream Shi’ar race that rules the Imperium. Raza’s people have values that are very much centred on personal combat, glory and the demonstration of warlike courage.

Raza Longknife plays with a big knife while talking, on a white background

Or rather they had, since Raza’s culture was exterminated by the Shi’ar Imperium. They died in “loving combat” as their values demanded.

It would seem that those dedicated warriors were only armed with melee weapons and had a generally low tech level. Their biggest and last battle was stated by Raza to have occurred before the birth of any other Starjammer.

Super-soldier ?

Raza was, as far as he knows, the last of his people left standing on the battlefield. He was captured and experimented upon, receiving a number of Shi’ar cybernetic implants. The reason behind those experiments is unclear. It is possible that the Imperium, impressed by the ferocity and fitness of Raza’s people, used him as a Guinea pig for some cybernetic super-soldier project.

To Raza’s dismay, the experiments were quite successful. They made him exceedingly hard to kill, making it far harder to die honourably in combat.

We know that, during his youth, Raza became an apprentice to a famous smuggler, K’Qill Vor Don, at the edge of the Shi’ar Galaxy. He also had a son, Rion. Rion was dragged off in Shi’ar slave pits when he was about five and whom Raza never saw again.

It is possible that both Raza and his son were arrested and cast into the slave pits at the same time, then separated by the Shi’ar slavedrivers.


Description

Raza is an unusual-looking Shi’ar with orange skin and a silky, very long quality to his head plumage. His bright yellow/white/orange plumage hangs as a long ponytail from his otherwise bald head.

Raza Longknife thrusts with his rapier

His left arm, and the left sides of his face and chest have been replaced with metallic cybernetic appliances – in a way reminiscent of Tharok of the Fatal Five. The rest of his body is encased in a thick bodysuit of black and blue leather.


Personality

Raza is the noble warrior, the great honourable barbarian fighter. His culture had a very strong slant toward honour through fighting and the unwavering demonstration of courage. And Raza is definitely a product of that. He’s somewhere between a Cimmerian and the Noble Indian Warrior of Americana, with a good bit of machismo thrown in.

Being a good friend of Ch’od, he often affectionately calls him “lummox” or “big lummox”.

Raza Longknife charges in, on a white background

Raza will unhesitatingly wade in with guns blazing (and, unlike his Saurid buddy, they will not be set to stun). But he prefers the more macho ethos of man-to-man melee combat. Longknife will happily engage foes in a fencing duel if feasible.

He will fight pragmatically and is not purely after glory and the demonstration of his courage. But that still plays a big role in his behaviour in combat. He has even been seen wielding his sabre with his intact arm rather than his cybernetic arm when facing opponents who are not superhumanly strong, as fair play.

Blood and honour !

As part of the macho thing, Raza is loathe to kill women, and will normally strike to stun them. Due to his regimented views about ladies, Raza felt particularly awkward when he realised he was attracted toward Binary. He never told her anything and was embarrassed by his own feelings, but still considered he had a sort of bond of honour toward her.

Ch'od and Raza in prison

For instance he was quite reluctant to fight against Earth people, considering them to be Carol’s “clan”. Though he shared a deep friendship and some quasi-romantic moments with Danvers, he did not to speak about that as he felt it made him look soft. Still, Carol managed to convince him to do something he would have never considered after he nearly killed the Black Knight.

Though he is the big honourable macho type, Raza does not hesitate to use ruses de guerre , such as deception, playing possum or pretending to take hostages, if he’s pressed hard enough.

Other traits

The disappearance of his son remains Raza’s great tragedy, though he never talks about it. If given a chance to find his son, he will do just about anything necessary to pursue that lead. This is probably still true despite having had that wound used to manipulate him once already.

By the mid-2000s, perhaps during a stay in the US, Raza apparently updated his onboard linguistic databases. Thus, his English started being Modern American English – rather than the near-Shakespearian English he previously spoketh. It’s not very coherent, though – sometimes he has a poetic scansion and diction.

A possible explanation is that his English is modern and normal, but his common Shi’ar remains the dated and saga-like one that prevailed in his culture before its extermination.


Quotes

“Thou —! Thou wouldst not be content with the ravaging of worlds — thou must needs destroy all that exists to satisfy thy insane lust for power ! Thou art a murderer ! And thou will die a murderer’s death !” (hurls D’Ken into the M’Krann Crystal)

“We are warriors, sky-child. Our duty is to slay our enemies. If thou canst not abide that, stand aside !”

“Dost thou yield ?”

“Release Hepzibah, coward, and face a man !”

“But to find my son, I wouldst gladly dance with the devil himself.”

“Prepare thyself, Avenger ! For thy day is done !”

(Operating the Starjammer’s scanners) “Mine touch be gossamer, captain.”

“Yon coffee machine is misbehaving again, shipmaster.”

“We won, Keeyah. Our wounds are as nought, so long as victory sings in our veins.”

(2008) “Indeed. The Imperial Guard looked upon Vulcan with murder in their hearts. Rumour has it, he killed several of them when first they met.”

(2008) “The Imperial Guard approaches. That be Electron leading the charge. Felt his sting before, I have.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Raza

Dex: 08 Str: 05 Bod: 07 Motivation: Freedom fighter
Int: 06 Wil: 05 Min: 06 Occupation: Pirate, arrrr !
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 018 HP: 060

Powers:
Comprehend languages: 15, Detect (Specific energy signature): 10, Extra Limb: 08, Invulnerability: 14, Sealed systems: 14

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Comprehend languages has only be seen to act passively (to decipher languages, not communicate with sapients)
  • Though Raza’s Extra Limb (his left arm) replaces his missing arm, it still gives the Grappling bonus
  • Invulnerability rolls can only be done upon reaching 0 BODY and then every 7 APs of time after that (which is about 6-7mn)
  • Sealed systems is limited to filtering atmospheres, which must not be too drastically different from Earth-standard

Skills:
Vehicles (Space): 05, Weaponry (Firearms, Melee, Missile): 08, Weaponry (Heavy): 06, Weaponry (Sabres and cutlasses): 09

Advantages:
Expertise (scanners/sensors operator, Shi’ar starship maintenance and repair), Iron Nerves, Language (Common Shi’ar, and possibly a now-dead language from his culture), Slowed Ageing, Stabilisation, Misc: Guardsbane (Imperial Guard member cannot spend HPs when fighting the Character or people fighting along with the Character), Misc: Trained to use weapons in either hand, but not Ambidextrous or a Paired Weapons user in the game sense.

Connections:
X-Men (Low), Lilandra Neramani (Low), Carol Danvers (High), Starjammers (High), Clench worlds leadership (Low)

Drawbacks:
Exile (last of his culture), SIA toward a warrior’s honour, SIA toward finding his son if he finds clues about Rion’s whereabouts. When operating on backwater worlds like Earth, Raza may suffer from Distinct Appearance. The Starjammers usually, but not always, have a (often severe) case of the Mistrusts and a Public Identity.

Equipment:
The HMSS Starjammer has a well-stocked weapons locker with robust weapons, such as:

  • Heavy pistol [BODY 04, Energy blast: 08, Range: 05, R#03, Limitation: Energy blast has No Range, use the listed Range instead]
  • Heavy rifle [BODY 05, Energy blast: 12, Range: 07, R#02, Limitation: Energy blast has No Range, use the listed Range instead]
  • Boarding sabre, cutlasses, etc. [BODY 12, EV 04 (06 w/STR, 09 w/STR from bionic Extra Limb), Sharpness (EV): 01]. Those weapons are not conductive.

Raza usually packs two pistols, a sword and possibly a cutlass, plus some individual gear:

  • Large throwing dagger [BODY 07, EV 03 (06 w/Extra Limb) — can also be used in melee with EV 03 (06 w/STR, 09 w/Extra Limb)]. This big knife has a large, very heavy pommel – allowing Raza to deliver Bashing damage when throwing it if he wants to. Raza is also seen with a Bowie-style blade, which I have assumed to be the same weapon. At one point, he was seen with a light hand axe of alien design, but the stats should be close enough to those at the start of this paragraph.
  • Swingline [BODY 07, 3 APs length]
  • 6 APs ABC Omni-Gadget. Past examples have included:
    • COMBAT BOOTS (x3) [BODY 05, Joined: 02]. Those boots have something called “grip-sole”, which allows him to adhere to any surface. This is not Cling, as it is chiefly intended to allow him to fight in zero-G conditions and the grip is not strong enough to climb surfaces under normal gravity. Raza carries around two extra pairs of grip-soles, looking like slippers, for allies.
    • Vial of choking dust [BODY 01, Sensory Block: 06, Note: the “sense” being Blocked is actually the person’s voice, Grenade Drawback]
    • Electro-spike [BODY 04, EMP: 09, Limitations: EMP has No Range, No Area of Effect, No AV (it is wielded like a knife) and Ammo: 01 — not that the GM agreed to increase the APs for the Omni-Gadget’s EMP APs due to the Limitations]

By Kevin Mulder and Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Marvel Universe

Helper(s): Darci

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