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Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) doing acrobatics

Spoiler

(Stephanie Brown) (Profile #1)


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

Context

Stephanie Brown is a minor Batman character. She appeared in 1992 and was primarily a supporting character for Robin (Tim Drake). As she developed as a character and became Tim’s girlfriend, she gained something of a fan club among Robin readers.

Her core theme is psychological resilience, hard luck, and overcoming obstacles through sheer resolve. Her original costumed identity was the Spoiler, but she later was Robin then Batgirl.

This profile is the first in a chronological series. It stops when Steph gets training and equipment from the bat-squad (starting in Robin #87), and thus covers the 1990s. It is followed by our Spoiler (Early 2000s) profile.


Background

  • Real Name: Stephanie Brown.
  • Marital Status: Single (minor).
  • Known Relatives: Arthur Brown (aka the Cluemaster, father), Agnes Bellinger-Brown (mother), David Bellinger (uncle), child (name and gender unrevealed).
  • Group Affiliation: Informal partner of Robin (Tim Drake).
  • Base Of Operations: Widowstone Creek.
  • Note: The neighbourhood for Mrs. Brown’s house is Widowstone Creek, which isn’t mentioned in sourcebooks. It seems likely that it is a suburb of the Bristol Township (which includes the Brentwood and Gotham Heights neighbourhoods), probably adjacent to Gotham Heights and not too far from Gotham Island (which might mean it’s relatively close to Wayne Manor).
    The comics once mention “Holden Street, Manchester” for Mrs. Bellinger Brown’s house. That doesn’t match the 2005 sourcebook. But that may simply mean that this suburb isn’t on the shorelines covered by the sourcebook. Manchester would thus be in Gotham’s hinterland.
  • Height: 5’4” Weight: 100 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue-green Hair: Blonde


Powers & Abilities

Stephanie Brown has an abnormal level of athletic talent, particularly when it comes to acrobatics. Though she’s clearly not comparable to hyper-gifted persons (such as Dick Grayson or Tim Drake), she operates on a significantly higher level than ordinary athletes.

For instance she can run the “rooftop express” — super-heroic urban acrobatics — with just a rope and a grapnel.

She evidences talent as a hand-to-hand fighter and hits surprisingly hard. On the other hand, there is only so much she can do to compensate for her lack of stature and formal training. She can thrash thugs fairly reliably, but being outnumbered or facing genuinely good opponents may lead to disaster.

Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) leaping on a white background

She is courageous and fairly intelligent – though her full potential in these areas has yet to bloom. She managed to get a decent education despite being impoverished, and has some talent as an amateur sleuth – though this isn’t really reliable.

Brown is a solid piano player, and probably had the potential to become a noted professional. However, her parents couldn’t afford the necessary lessons. She’s also a good gymnast, though she’s much better at free form real-world action than at formal gymnastics.

Robin taught Brown some crisis management skills, such as dressing gunshot wounds, and more advanced acrobatics and martial arts (chiefly aikijutsu ).

Techniques

Spoiler is already using two of her signature fighting techniques :

  • Her right roundhouse punch packs impressive power – way more than what anybody would expect from a slight teenager. However this is a slow technique, and it can normally only be used against opponents who are not looking at her.
  • When facing an opponent who’s too heavy for her, Spoiler will occasionally run away toward a wall. She then runs up the wall for a few steps, does a back somersault above her chasing opponent, and delivers a kick to the back of the person’s head while still in the air. This normally sends them crashing face first into the wall. However, perceptive opponents with quick reflexes will likely not fall for it.

Steph also gets a lot of mileage out of surprise attacks, particularly when taking out small groups of thugs. Most of her knock-outs occur against flat-footed run-of-the-mill opponents, often with a jump kick or by swinging feet first into her target.

If she’s fighting alone and loses this momentum against a group of street toughs, she’s in hot water and she knows it. In such cases she’ll sensibly retreat using her acrobatic prowess.

Gear

Beyond her cool costume, Spoiler just uses cheap commercially-available equipment she scraped together :

  • A cheap Radio Shack shotgun mike  (only seen once – it may have broken down).
  • A Honda motor scooter and a helmet.
  • A length of basic construction rope (and presumably a grapnel).
  • Large caltrops – probably useless against people, but these will puncture most tyres.
  • Robin later gave her a vomit gas riot control grenade and slim night vision goggles. He may also have given her the caltrops.
  • A distinctive gift from Robin is a handful of marbles that collectively act as a flash grenade. It’s not a SWAT-grade one, but people don’t expect marbles to detonate either (or expect masked vigilantes to throw marbles at them).

One Young Justice appearance depicts her as having some mini-grenades, a motorized line-and-grapnel projector and a ninja-style shortsword, but these are never otherwise seen.


History

Stephanie Brown grew up in a dysfunctional household. Her father was the minor but nasty criminal the Cluemaster, and her mother was a nurse with a heavy history of antidepressant, alcohol and painkiller abuse.

Though her mother meant well she was frequently too stoned to help, and the Cluemaster was a toxic mix of weakness and evil. The Cluemaster made a strong initial showing (at least pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths) but soon degenerated into a loser D-list habitual criminal, forever defeated by Batman and associating with low-rent criminals. He also often hit his wife.

Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) landing on a rooftop at night

When Stephanie was 11, the Cluemaster briefly reformed and got a job in manufacturing. It was considerably more lucrative than his life of crime. He also forced his wife into cold turkey — under threat of murder.

However, one of his best buddies turned out to be a paedophile – and the clueless Arthur Brown had him baby-sit Stephanie whilst he was forcing Agnes to quit her pills.

The kid fled in time and hid until her parents returned. Her aggressor later turned up dead, presumably murdered in secret by the Cluemaster. For several years, Stephanie remained prone to anxiety attacks when finding herself alone with a male.

Spoiler rising, part 1

Having nobody she could trust, Stephanie taught herself to be stealthy, self-reliant and to solve her own problems – using force if necessary. Meanwhile, the Cluemaster also made progress of a sort. Therapy allowed him to get rid of his compulsion to leave clues about his crimes. This unexpected break in modus operandi briefly made him quite successful.

Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) sitting in a tree

This made Stephanie furious. To bring her father to justice, she carefully sent clues to the police in his stead. From there she developed the costumed identity of the Spoiler so she could anonymously spy on the Cluemaster and send more clues.

She succeeded in getting Batman (Bruce Wayne) and Robin (Tim Drake) involved, though they swiftly discovered her identity and forbade her to accompany them.

Spoiler predictably disobeyed them. She was instrumental in foiling what would have the Cluemaster’s greatest heist. Though her father unmasked her, she took him down and might even have killed him had Batman not calmed her down.

Spoiler rising, part 2

A few months later, by late 1993, the Cluemaster had escaped and allied with two other criminals, Titus Czonk and the Electrocutioner. Steph resumed being Spoiler to investigate, and ran into Robin. The two youths defeated the trio of scoundrels, with Spoiler saving Robin’s life.

In 1995, the Gully Carson criminal crew kidnapped Stephanie. That allegedly was to force her father, who was still in prison, to plan their operations. However, Steph soon realised that it was her dad who had suggested kidnapping her as insurance when negotiating with Carson.

Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) kicking a gang member

The heists ran smoothly, but Carson got greedy and Brown ratted him out to Batman and Robin. Robin found Stephanie in the nick of time, and they escaped together – eventually taking down Carson. Stephanie then visited her father in prison. She thrashed him thoroughly in retaliation, with the guards turning a blind eye.

A few months later, Spoiler followed on a hunch of her mother’s. Agnes had sensed that Steph’s gym coach was a fellow addict. Despite Stephanie’s doubts, Agnes Brown was right and Spoiler exposed Coach Lewis as a drugs dealer. After this incident mother and daughter slowly started rebuilding bridges.

Agnes’ addiction also slowly improved. Through the cold turkey her husband had forced some years before hadn’t held for long, she was making sustainable progress now that she knew she wouldn’t see Arthur Brown again. By mid-1998, Agnes Brown was essentially cured, which also considerably improved her finances.

Suburban vigilante

Though Batman and Robin still objected, Spoiler was occasionally active as a minor vigilante in and around the Gotham Heights suburbs. She continued allying with Robin on some minor cases throughout 1996/97.

From practically day one, there was a strong romantic tension between Drake and Brown. As it happened, Tim’s relationship with his girlfriend Ariana Dzerchenko  was disintegrating. As a result, and despite Steph’s constant and ham-fisted flirting, Robin and Spoiler grew increasingly comfortable with each other.

Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) and Robin

Brown remained realistic as to her chances of seducing Robin, and for a while she dated some guy named Dean. They split in 1998, during the big Gotham earthquake. Minutes later, Stephanie again confronted her father and some of his associates with the help of the Huntress (Helena Bertinelli) – but she let Arthur Brown escape as she feared that the Huntress would slay him.

After Drake and Dzerchenko separated, Robin started dating the considerably worldlier Spoiler. Though things were going swimmingly, Steph soon discovered that Dean had left her pregnant. Despite being 15½, she decided to keep her baby – and then arrange for an adoption, as she was well aware that she was too young to be a mother.

Though Robin was out of his depth, he supported her in her travails. He occasionally switched to his Alvin Draper identity – a squalid young tough – to accompany her. He even managed to be present when Brown gave birth, by disguising himself as a nurse. Mrs. Brown then handled the adoption procedure.

From No Man’s Land to Splitsville

When Gotham was closed off by the government, Stephanie was on the right side of the river. Gotham Heights was not part of the no man’s land.

Albeit her mother finally found Steph’s Spoiler costume, she reacted well – though she didn’t want her daughter to resume risking her life as a vigilante.

Of course, Stephanie promptly disobeyed, and for her first outing she put her uncle Dave behind bars – since he actually was a Z-list thug. However, her relationship with Robin started falling apart, as personal difficulties kept Drake away from her. Stephanie came to resent Robin having a whole secret life away from her – while he knew everything about both her lives.

Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) leaping from a construction site at night

Partly out of spite, Spoiler left for a bit as she convinced Black Canary (Dinah Laurel Lance) to give her some real training, beyond what Robin could cram in the now meagre time they could spend together. How this arrangement turned out remains unrevealed.

Spoiler then dumped Robin, and investigated his secret identity. Excessive teenage emotions and her baggage led her to entangle herself into unsubstantiated jealousy and feelings of abandonment and betrayal. She followed a completely wrong lead, as the girl she persuaded herself was Robin’s other girlfriend was just an acquaintance.

After a few weeks of this, Batman (Bruce Wayne) approached Spoiler… with an unexpected offer.


Description

Spoiler seems to be about a year older than Robin. Even in her civvies, she almost always wears a purple or eggplant-coloured top – it’s her signature colour.

Early on her mask, briefs, gloves, boots, etc. are dark blue. Eventually they’ll became black, which also allows for the distinctive “Marvin the Martian ” effect with the flexible eyepieces on her mask.


Personality

Early on Steph is depicted as angry and aggressive, hating her father for having wrecked her life. The anger eventually recedes from her characterisation. As a result of her crush on Robin, she puts significant effort into appearing perky, sassy and cool to be more attractive. It works, too – she’s good at acting this way, and quite funny.

This aspect of her behaviour is the beginning of an important part of her character. Stephanie refuses to let herself be brought down by the misery of her life. She tries to face everything with strength, willpower – and a quip and a smile if there are friends of her around. She’s not as polished in this as she’ll later be, though, and occasionally her anger resurfaces.

Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) in her civvies punching her father the Cluemaster

While she’s initially out for justice by taking her father down, she discovers that she likes being Spoiler. It becomes an adrenaline thing, as she enjoys the risk and action. Being Spoiler also allows her to be near Robin. However, her tastes also make her too impulsive in the field.

Albeit Stephanie comes from a broken home in a so-so neighbourhood, she has a robust vocabulary and commands a wide range of cultural references. She’s also unusually mature for her age, presumably because she’s so used to being self-reliant.

It thus seems a bit out of place for her to keep a diary at her age, but she does – probably because she’s always been her own best friend.

Rockin’ Robin

Though Spoiler is originally pragmatic and streetwise, Robin soon convinces her to adopt ethics closer to his own – such as fighting to subdue and risking one’s life to save even their enemies. She’s not as rigid as he is when it comes to never bending the rules, but she wants to please him and the habit eventually rubs off.

On some level, Steph thinks that Robin is too good for her. Her self-image issues aren’t yet apparent, but she clearly thinks she’s super-lucky to have found a decent, smart, honest, brave young man who’s interested in her. As a result she makes sure to appear positive and low-maintenance, as her “onward and upward” personal ethos is starting to emerge.

Though she’s fairly good at it, it’s not her usual behaviour. She has difficulty hiding her occasional feelings of jealousy if Robin pays attention to another girl, and will sometimes need clear proof that Tim cares about her.

With people who aren’t Robin, she’s markedly more in-your-face, sarcastic and stubborn. This seems to be mostly out of habitual wariness, as she tends to assume that people are out to use her and control her. If faced with an authoritarian person, Steph will just keep rebelling and escalate. To an extent that includes Batman, even though he scares her.


Quotes

“In your dreams, birdboy. To the Spoiler belongs the victory.”

Robin : “Do you have to remind you we have a warehouse full of killers looking for us right now ?”
Spoiler (starry-eyed after having kissed him) : “Isn’t that romantic ?”

(Teasing Robin) “You named your car. That’s so boy.”

“Maybe Gotham needs a Spoiler. You and Batman handle all crime in the city. The suburbs don’t have anybody.”

Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) crouching over a white background

Agnes Brown: “Since when have you started watching crime shows ?”
Stephanie: “How else am I ever gonna see dad ?” (beat) “Sorry, mom. Bad joke.”

(As Spoiler nervously backs away from the edge of the roof of Wayne Tower)
Robin: “You’re not afraid of heights, are you ?”
Spoiler: “Only as long as they’re suborbital !”

“I’ve never been very good at doing what I’m told.”

(To herself) “Dear diary : embarrassment level critical.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Spoiler (Early)

Dex: 04 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Justice/Thrill
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 04 Occupation: High School Student
Inf: 03 Aur: 03 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 001
Init: 013 HP: 020

Skills:
Acrobatics (Athletics, climbing, dodging): 05, Artist (Gymnastics, pianist): 04, Artist (Sewing): 02, Martial Artist (AV, OV, Techniques): 05, Martial Artist (EV): 03, Medicine (First Aid): 02, Thief (Stealth): 04, Vehicles (Land): 02, Weaponry (Thrown): 05

Advantages
Area Knowledge (Bristol Township).

Connections:
Robin (High).

Drawbacks:
Age (Young).

Equipment:

  • Cheap shotgun mike [BODY 01, Extended hearing: 05, R#04].
  • Motor scooter [STR 02 BODY 03, Running: 05, R#03].
  • Vomit gas grenade [BODY 01, Fog: 03, Chemical attack: 06, R#03, Grenade drawback, Bonus: Chemical attack is Combined With and Active Throughout the Fog].
  • Flash marbles [BODY 03, Fog: 03, Flash: 03 (Area of effect 1 APs), Sensory block (Hearing): 03, Note : all Powers are Combined, Grenade drawback, R#03].
  • Night vision goggles [BODY 02, Ultra-vision: 03, Miniaturisation: 01, Limitation: Ultra-vision only vs. poor lightning, R#02].

Even earlier Spoiler

Before she associates with Robin, Spoiler has lower stats :

  • WIL is 03.
  • HPs are 015.
  • No Medicine, and no Techniques to her Martial Artist.
  • No grenade, no goggles, no marbles.

Signature techniques

The two signature fighting techniques described in the Power and Abilities section are handled like this :

  • Spoiler’s roundhouse right starts by Pressing the Attack (she has to have the Initiative), then doing a Critical Blow and using her Martial Arts for EV. She will also increase her AV by two APs if she can afford it. During that Phase, Steph thus ideally has an AV of 06, an EV of 03 and an OV of 03, while her target receives a +1CS to their OV and a -3CS to their RV.
  • Spoiler’s run-up-the-wall technique can only be done in a Phase where the Spoiler has the Initiative, and pits her DEX/Acrobatics (Athletics) against her opponent’s DEX/INT. If she gets positive APs, she can Blindside her opponent in the next Phase. She will usually add HPs to that kick and Press the Attack.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Batman and Robin comics.

Helper(s): Craig Clark, Darci, the DCU RPG’s Daily Planet guide to Gotham.

Writeup completed on the 9th of March, 2015.

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