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Tracer (Richard Bloom) (Marvel Comics)

Tracer

Richard Bloom


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

Background

  • Real Name: Richard Bloom
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: David Joshua Bloom (father, deceased), mother (deceased)
  • Group Affiliation: Tailor Group ; CEO of Bloom Industries
  • Base Of Operations: Stamford, Connecticut
  • Height: Slightly variable (circa 6’ base) Weight: Variable (circa 185 lbs. base)
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Brown


Powers and Abilities

Bloom has turned himself into a cyborg, and seems to have enhanced physical abilities and the power of Flight built-in. This is difficult to say, since when Tracer goes in the field he has been extensively configured to confront a specific opponent. Bloom’s body and the basic SUIT are a dock upon which to anchor additional equipment, weapons, sensors, etc.

Tracer’s payload thus varies from mission to mission. The procedure is a lengthy one – many of the weapons have to be designed and built to attack observed weaknesses, reconfiguring the systems takes time, and the calibration is largely achieved by testing, going through a number of VR simulations to approximate how well a given strategy or weapon system would work.

Depending on the quality of the data, these simulations may turn out to be accurate rehearsals… or actively detrimental to performance in the field.

A key asset is a flotilla of invisible sensor drones monitoring superhuman activity, presumably chiefly in the New York City area. This is what provides much of the data to set up Tracer, unless other sources of detailed information are available ; in game terms it results in a Familiarity with superhumans. The data that can be gained is not always the best, though. His team managed to determine that Spider-Man had some sort of early-warning system, but did not seem to understand how strong certain superhumans such as Namor, Titania, Wonder Man, etc. are.

From one diagram, it seems possible that Bloom has low-key regenerative and anaerobic capabilities – perhaps on the order of 1 AP in Regeneration and Water Freedom.


History

Rick Bloom is first and foremost the son of the great, late David Bloom – a Jewish-American near-genius and successful industrialist who built weapons technology manufacturer Bloom Industries nearly from the ground up. A charismatic captain of industry and a superb technologist, Bloom managed about 12,000 persons – chiefly in Stamford, Connecticut. David Bloom having been born in 1957, his company presumably found its legs circa 1980.

However a recession – either the 1981 one or the 1990 one – hit Bloom Industries very hard, and the company never quite recovered, slowly spiralling into debt despite Bloom’s desperate efforts. Though the financial orthodoxy would have been to fire workers, David Bloom was very protective of his staff and refused to destroy jobs in the middle of a bad employment market.

Tracer (Rick Bloom) on a white background

Bloom tried to find a way to deleverage without destroying jobs or assets. Observing how key companies such as Stark or Roxxon handled the economic shock, he started dabbling in an extremely lucrative market – superhuman enhancement. In complete secret, he used his skills to draft and prototype technology that could turn persons into cyborgs that could interface with Bloom Industries equipment.

(Marvel’s Dark Reign Files interprets a caption as meaning that Mr. Bloom used data from Stark, Stane and Roxxon to build the Tracer tech, but my reading is that David procured business intelligence about the activities of these companies about superhumans).

In 1991, David Bloom was killed during a fight between unidentified superhumans. Having very little to work with, the FBI soon closed the case as a probable accident.

The only son

David Bloom’s only family was his son Richard, as Mrs. Bloom had died when Richard was three. Like his dad, Rick was an engineer, and had been at this point slowly working his way up in the Bloom Industries ladder. To his surprise, Rick discovered that his father had willed the entire company to him, and ended up the CEO of a beleaguered large company overnight.

Whilst going through the records, Richard discovered David’s secret projects. Still dismayed that the FBI had dropped the investigation, Richard jumped to the conclusion that his father had been murdered by a superhuman operative so he wouldn’t become a presence in the metahuman world.

The somewhat irrational Bloom decided to have his revenge against all superhumans as part of a quest to discover who had killed his father. He started working on a project to enhance himself using his father’s notes. As he did, he discovered that there existed a huge market for the elimination of certain superhumans.

Hating all superhumans, he did not quite pay attention to the fact that the most lucrative bounties by far were those offered by unethical organisations for terminating super-heroes. Still, he knew that he needed to work in secret, which he rationalised as protecting his technology from industrial espionage.

Tracer

Basing his work on his dad’s technology, Bloom developed the Tracer concept and recruited a top scientific and engineering crew ; he also built a secret lab for them all to work in in secret. When everything was ready, in 1992, he went through extensive, painful surgery to become Tracer. Meanwhile, his team developed a flotilla of quasi-invisible drones to spy on superhuman fights and acquire data.

The technical team was named the “Tailor Group”, since their job was to come up with tailored solutions to take down specific superhumans.

Potential targets included Spider-Man, Namor, the Hulk, Wonder Man, Titania, the Wizard, etc. but the rewards on the villains were just too low and most of the heroes posed technical hurdles. Needing a lot of cash ASAP to recoup costs, Bloom focused on Deathlok (Michael Collins) since the Cybertek company had made the cyborg’s specifications available to design counter-measures – and was offering twenty millions POD.

With all the available information from Cybertek, the Tailor Group developed specific weapons that allowed Tracer to take down the very powerful Deathlok. However, when Bloom tried to take control of Deathlok to walk him back to his ship for delivery, he accidentally made contact with Collins’s memories and realised that he had been deceived.

Deathlok wasn’t, as he had been told, a robot – but a man converted into a cyborg soldier against his will. Horrified by what Cybertek had done to Collins, Bloom took Collins to a hospital in an attempt to make amends for his attack, then left and let go of the lucrative Cybertek contract.

Some among his team tried to talk him out of continuing the Tracer project, but the obsessed Bloom decided that he would just try harder and focus his simulation runs on Spider-Man.

Does whatever a spider can

A few months later, this paid off as one Detective Martin (ret.), actually the Chameleon in disguise, hired the Tailor Group to take Spider-Man out. Tracer engaged Spidey and was almost successful – but as Parker was about to pass out, he suddenly rallied by thinking about his wife and beat Tracer up. Spider-Man then explained to Tracer that he had been tricked by the Chameleon, which a quick search confirmed.

Tracer hasn’t been seen since, though some have noted that his absence after the Stamford catastrophe that sparked a Civil War among American superhumans was ominous.

The Tailor Group did not seem to be sustainable long-term, mostly due to Bloom’s neuroses. Whether Tracer remained active past the mid-1990s is unclear ; it is possible that the prosperity of the 1990s allowed Bloom Industries to recover and pay off the bulk of its debts so it could continue to operate, making Tracer’s activities more sustainable as he no longer needed to turn a strong profit ASAP.


Description

See illustrations.


Personality

Richard Bloom is not psychologically sick per se, but he has issues. He apparently grew up in the shadow of his brilliant and charismatic father, and lacks the greater-than-life quality that he had. Bloom overcompensates for his failure by acting like a stereotypical hard-nosed, powerful young CEO of the 1990s computer industry, but most people seem aware that this is an act and that his credibility isn’t that good.

Rick Bloom has knitted himself a tangled ball of resentments around the death of his father. He’s certain that *somebody* is responsible. Despite a complete lack of proof or even a genuine clue, he thinks that it was some sort of conspiracy, and that Very Powerful People are responsible. In this case he literally means very powerful people as in superhumans.

This seems to be a textbook pop psychology transfer, with Richard attributing his feelings of jealousy toward his father toward a mysterious, undefined enemy that embodies his own darker impulses and which he obsessively wants to destroy.

Bloom is in complete denial about it and will stick to this story and his goals no matter how clear it becomes that it’s not really making sense. All superhumans are bad people and must be punished because, errrr, because daddy died and now Rick is in deep trouble keeping the company afloat.

Though it doesn’t make sense outside of the context of Bloom’s neuroses, he has made sure that the Tailor Group would be an echo chamber by recruiting people who also hated and resented superhumans for their own reason. One of the researcher did challenge the Group’s culture and pointed out that selling the patents to the technology would be far more profitable, but Bloom rejects this in the name of his ill-defined revenge. 

Richard apparently goes out of his way to reject some Jewish practices such as eating kosher, which might be tied to his father issues.

Though he acts as a bounty hunter and essentially an assassin for hire (if he captures a target alive, there’s little doubt that the person will be tortured and/or executed), Bloom is not a killer – in fact he’s a man of good morals, and even with all the denial he can muster there’s a point where he will realise he’s doing something bad and forego the contract.

This creates an obvious problem in his line of work, and to an objective observer it is unclear how the work of the Tailor Group can be successful in the long or even the medium run given the blatant contradictions in Bloom’s mind and plans.


Quotes

“One of these #&$*#$ must have deliberately killed my father !”

“I never make the same mistake twice.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Tracer (Richard Bloom)

Dex: 07 Str: 05 Bod: 06 Motivation: Seeking Justice
Int: 05 Wil: 05 Min: 04 Occupation: Industrialist, Bounty hunter
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 011
Init: 023 HP: 040

Powers:
Enhanced Initiative: 06, Flight: 06, Power Reserve: 06, Weakness Detection: 12

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Power Reserve takes a lot of time, data and programming to configure
  • Power Reserve cannot push any AV, OV or RV beyond 11
  • Power Reserve can be used on his Physical Skills, and on Omni-Gadgets and Gadgets that are specifically integrated to his systems
  • Enhanced Initiative and Weakness Detection are both Contingent upon Power Reserve and can only be activated under the same conditions as Power Reserve can
  • Weakness Detection’s maximum RAPs are limited by the APs of information available about the subject, usually from the drone flotilla (GM’s call) — if there’s no information available on the target, Weakness Detection is useless
  • Weakness Detection cannot be used on non-living matter, cannot target OVs, and cannot bring any RV below 06.

Skills:
Gadgetry: 04, Scientist (Computers, Drawing plans): 04, Thief (Stealth): 07, Weaponry (Firearms)*: 07

Bonuses and Limitations:
Thief is Contingent upon Flight – Tracer’s flight is completely silent and he knows how to leverage that for stealth and ambushes

Advantages:
Familiarity (Superhumans), Headquarters (Expansive)

Connections:
Business world (Low)

Drawbacks:
Minor Psychological Instability (Slight paranoid tendencies), MPR (Cyborg body that requires maintenance, triggers metal detectors, etc.), Power Loss (the top 3 APs of DEX are Contingent upon Enhanced Initiative – note that it also impacts his Linked Weaponry Skill)

Equipment:

  • BASIC TRACER SUIT [/STR/ 09, Radio communications (Encrypted): 07, Shade (Sight, Hearing): 02, Skin armour: 02, Bonus: Skin Armour also works vs. energy attacks (+2)]
  • Two 8 APs ABC Omni-Gadgets – configurable under the same conditions as Power Reserve
  • Target-specific equipment, built as normal Gadgets. Bloom can use the entire Bloom Industries production facilities as a Lab by breaking new weapons project into unrecognisable parts assembled by unwitting factory workers. These Gadgets are prototypes and often have a R# in the 4-6 range, which is good since the design team needs to save on HPs.
  • A Quinjet-type vehicle, performance unknown.
  • A handprint analyser allowing him to compare the handprint of a person with a handprint found near the site of death of his father. The subject needs to be cooperative and/or immobile.

Tools of the trade – Spider-Man

When configured to take on Spider-Man, Tracer used his Power Reserve to enhance his Weaponry (Firearms) score to 11 and his Enhanced Initiative to 08.

Target-specific weaponry includes :

  • STUN GUN [BODY 02, Energy blast: 07, R#04]. Wrist-mounted blasters. The name indicates that it had a stun setting, but it was also able to deliver destructive energy blasts looking like lasers. With the amped Weaponry score of Tracer, this weapon could make impressive shots, such as shooting to bits a number of dangerous debris falling toward a crowd.
  • MARTIAL ARTIST (AV): 10 with the Limitation that it only works against Spider-Man as he was in 1993 and is a Powered Skill. This is an enhanced reflexes programming that anticipates moves from a studied foe.
  • WEB-REPELLENT VISOR. A single Dice Action will automatically peel sticky substances from the visor of the SUIT.
  • SMART-TARGETING GAS PELLETS [BODY 01, AV 10, Flash: 08, Fog: 05, Knockout gas: 06, Bonus: Flash and KO Gas are both Combined With and Active Throughout the Fog, Grenade Drawback, Note: Flash is a side-effect of the knockout gas, Shade doesn’t work against it but Systemic Antidote or Sealed Systems will]. These capsules can actually fly at high speed and aim themselves at the target – in game terms this is AV.
  • RADAR [BODY 01, Radar sense: 04, R#05]. Conservatively, this likely was just a system allowing Tracer to ignore the effects of the Fog of the PELLETS as per standard rules – but since it had its own R#, let’s treat it as its own system.
  • NET [BODY 08, Snare: 09, Note: shot using Weaponry (Firearms), Grenade Drawback]. This steel-mesh net was added to the arsenal after the initial set of simulations, and is used right after the PELLETS to capitalise on the Flash.
  • STUN CABLE [BODY 04, Lightning: 09, Stretching: 02, Limitation: Lightning has No Range but can be conducted through Stretching, Stretching has No Fine Manipulation and cannot be used to transmit EV, Drawback – Lightning presumably has limited Ammo, Note: can be shot using Weaponry (Firearms)]. An electrified cable that will wrap itself around a limb of the target, this was added at about the same time as the NET.

Tools of the trade – Deathlok

Deathlok was something of a special case – since the Tailor Group had extensive inside information about him, rather than have to rely on data gathered by drones. This allowed for up to 12 RAPs on the Weakness Detection Power, giving Tracer a huge edge.

The Power Reserve was set with Weaponry (Firearms) at 09, /STR/ (from the SUIT) at 11, and Skin armour at 03.

The mission-specific weaponry was :

  • SCRAMBLE-SCREEN [BODY 02, Obscure: 09, Limitation: Obscure only against sensors similar to those used by Deathlok cyborgs]. This was meant to prevent early detection so Tracer could ambush Deathlok, though it wasn’t entirely successful.
  • Computer virus [Neutralise: 12, Limitation: only against a Deathlok cyborg’s computer core, requires a breach into the circuits]. This virus took Deathlok’s computer offline, depriving Collins of its support. It was inject by a pair of darts trailing an armoured data cable, shot using Weaponry (Firearms) and able to inflict a superficial breach to somehow inject the virus. The same system was later used to read Deathlok’s memories – which was presumably made possible by Cybertek backdoors.
  • MARTIAL ARTIST (AV): 08 with the Limitation that it only works against Deathlok (Michael Collins) as he was in 1993 and is a Powered Skill.
  • Heavy Plasma Rifle [BODY 02, Energy blast: 10, Ammo: 10 plus EV (Area of Effect 2 APs): 13 which is a self-destruct system]. This rifle could be cybernetically controlled to lower output, for instance to stun civilians – or to go critical and be thrown like a gigantic grenade.
  • An attachment that allowed Tracer to use Deathlok’s weapons, which are normally locked against third parties. Presumably also the result of a Cybertek backdoor.

Design notes

Tracer has but few appearances, so a lot of the stats are speculative.


By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Marvel Universe

Writeup completed on the 10th of August, 2011.

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