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Zaeed Massani (Mass Effect 2) high resolution face

Zaeed Massani


Context

Mass Effect was a landmark video game trilogy released from 2007 to 2012. It included multiple ties-in such as novels, comics and an animated movie. Further games will follow in 2016 and beyond, although they will form a separate storyline.

It is a science fiction story, of the starships and space aliens kind. Most of the action takes place in a military context, as an apocalyptic threat against the galaxy emerges. It’s one of my favouritest games ever.

Writeups.org offers extensive Mass Effect coverage. The core articles are setting for Mass Effect 1 and the setting for Mass Effect 2, plus the profiles for the heroine – Staff Commander Mandala Shepard.

Unless you are highly familiar with Mass Effect, we recommend reading these articles first.


  • For now it only covers the second game.
  • This has S P O I L E R S, particularly about Zaeed’s loyalty mission.
  • This profile assumes a specific video game playthrough – see our video games writeups FAQ for more.
  • This profile features tabletop RPG mechanics about the video game’s gameplay – see our video games writeups FAQ for more.
  • This profile features non-canon hypotheses about in-game events and mechanics – see our video games writeups FAQ for more.

Background

  • Real Name: Zaeed Massani.
  • Other Aliases: Veteran (Cerberus callsign).
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: Currently with Commander Shepard’s operations team.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile aboard the Normandy SR2.
  • Height: 6’ Weight: 223 lbs.
  • Eyes: One dark green, one pale grey and artificial Hair: Brown, starting to grey.


Powers and Abilities

Zaeed Massani is extraordinarily good at killing people in combat, and even better at not being killed.

He can kill stuff with a rifle. He can kill stuff with a pistol. He can still stuff with grenades. He can kill stuff with a sharp stick. He can kill stuff with his goddamn hands. He might be able to kill stuff with harsh language.

Massani has survived odds that would make a Krogan give up and cry. If something can be used to kill someone — including terrain, nearby machinery, ad hoc explosives, the environment… — Massani will be able to use it. He’s even taught himself hopelessly archaic skills such as knife throwing. He apparently uses those to kill time.

Survivor

Being the last man alive on the battlefield is something he’s quite familiar with. In DC Heroes terms, Zaeed always uses his Luck to survive odds that should kill him, and carefully keeps part of his large Hero Points  stock to endure damage.

Zaeed Massani portrait over a white background

He’s a mediocre fire team leader. This is because he fights solo, concentrating on killing what’s in front of him and surviving to the expense of his unit’s safety. However he’s an excellent soldier, following orders well and taking good tactical initiatives to execute on the battle plan.

Zaeed is a mainstay on Shepard’s personal fire team, operating an Incisor. He uses it to provide short-range rapid-burst-fire precision shooting, and rapidly pick off the opposition as they try to react to Shepard’s advance.

This offensive fire support role is completed by liberal use of his personal recipe of incendiary grenades. Thus, Zaeed’s most common approach is to set people on fire then shoot them in the face.

See our Mass Effect 2 Weapons Locker article for much more about the ordnance and tactics.


History

Massani’s biography can be summed up as “he went everywhere, he did everything, he killed everyone”. He has decades of military and mercenary experience, often for Special Operations-type work. His body count in the high hundreds if not the low thousands.

His age is difficult to ascertain. His face is heavily scarred and his lifestyle punishing. But Humans in the Mass Effect future have a long lifespan and remain healthy at an advanced age. Zaeed’s known to have co-founded the Blue Suns mercenary organisation with another human, Vido Santiago, more than 20 years ago.

It is conceivable that Massani is aged 70+ and has fought for five or more decades.

His career as a fighting man likely precedes the discovery of the Prothean cache on Mars. Much of it may thus have taken place Earth-side. He’s thought to have been a Systems Alliance trooper during the early years of mankind’s discovery of the galaxy, before he struck out on his own.

It’s the mileage

Most people in the Mass Effect pay little attention to human national and ethnic origins. These things tend to look insignificant after dealing with space aliens. Howbeit Zaeed might be Mediterranean.

Zaeed Massani head model rotation

“Zaeed” is likely an Anglicisation of the common Arabic first name سعيد (meaning “felicitous”). “Massani” is usually an Italian last name, though it could easily be a deformed Anglicisation of an Arabic last name.

If something involves armed violence and a paycheque, Zaeed likely did it many times on many planets. However, he doesn’t seem to associate with organised crime. Still, he’s a commando-for-hire, a merc, a bounty hunter, a NCO-for-hire…

And then there’s the odd jobs. Such as recovering missing persons thought to have been kidnapped, or repossession of highly sensitive goods or data. You don’t hire Massani to deliver cake and flowers, but for a lot of damage brutally applied.

Zaeed has been hired both for very public and spectacular operations – and for operations where he’s the only person alive who knows that something happened. Over the decades, he developed an impressive reputation as a merc, bounty hunter and “last resort contractor”.

Blue old sun

The one semi-documented episode in Zaeed’s life is that he co-founded the Blue Suns with another human, Vido Santiago. This is not common knowledge, as the records were erased. The Suns are one of the three main private military contractors in the Terminus Systems. They lie halfway between a organised crime mob and an army.

They have fingers everywhere, and operate a lot of more or less shady companies (including a huge private prison). Many of their affiliates operate as a combination militia/street gang ruling over turf.

Zaeed Massani accusingly points his finger

Back in Zaeed’s days, the Suns were a much smaller operation and were just guns for hire. That was in the early 2160s, and Humans had discovered aliens but a few years prior. Vido ran the books and sales, and Zaeed ran the men.

As the Suns grew, Vido made deals with the Batarian Hegemony. He enlisted Batarian criminals their government wanted to get rid of. Zaeed hated Batarians and objected to this. But the Batarian deal was key to the Suns’ growth, and Vido came to realise that Zaeed was now more a problem than an asset. He was a hell of a fighter but not much of a leader or entrepreneur.

Betrayed

Santiago soon betrayed Massani. He had six men restrain him then shooting him point blank in the face.

Impossibly, the hard-boiled Massani survived. While he was disfigured and one of his eyes is presumably artificial, there doesn’t seem to have been significant brain damage. Though admittedly with Zaeed, it can be hard to tell.

Massani continued to operate as an independent gun for hire. He took all sorts of tough jobs and some impossible ones. He occasionally clashed with Blue Suns mercs hired by the opposition, to his satisfaction. For 20 years, Zaeed had one main goal in life – kill Santiago.

Enter the dragon

In 2185, Zaeed was approached by the Cerberus terrorist conspiracy — just another client to him. He was to serve under the living legend, Commander Shepard.

They obviously wanted to hire him pretty bad. They offered an enormous bonus and made it clear that the mission was extraordinarily risked. They knew that this would pique Massani’s interest. However, one suspects that an even more important deal about Mr. Santiago was also struck.

Zaeed Massani face closeup

(Though this is not mentioned in the game, one suspects that it was Cerberus who tracked down Vido Santiago. They then told Zaeed Massani where exactly he could find him. Neither the Illusive Man nor Massani tell Shepard this, stating that this is just a job that Massani had agreed to do just before Cerberus hired him to join Shepard’s crew.)

(That this job “just happens” to give Massani a clear shot at Santiago is one hell of a coincidence. One supposes that Cerberus was also the client who hired the Blue Suns for a supposedly low-risk job on Zorya on condition that Santiago personally lead it. Then they confirmed to Massani that Santiago had taken the bait and all that was left was to drag Shepard along.)

The refinery job

Zaeed told Shepard that there was a job he needed to close before he could move on and work for her. Sensing that something was forced in the deal, Shepard agreed to do the job immediately. The goal was to clear Blue Suns mercenaries from a refinery on Zorya, which they had recently occupied and confiscated.

It soon became obvious that the actual job was an all-out murder run of Massani against Santiago. Shepard and her lieutenant Miranda Lawson had been brought along to stomp the Blue Suns unit accompanying Santiago.

Shepard was not amused.


Description

Zaeed’s deep, gravelly voice has something of a British accent. Most of his sentences are laced with military-style profanity for emphasis, vigour and just because he likes to swear. His voice actor was the late David Sachs .

The traditional Blue Suns tattoo can be seen on Zaeed’s neck, though it is now a bit faded. He also has ink on one arm, and perhaps on his back.

Below is a video that chains all the war stories Zaeed tells in the second Mass Effect game.

Zaeed has a definite swagger to him. He is a charismatic man projecting a strong impression of being a ruthless killer and grizzled warlord. He never hesitates to speaks his mind. Wherever he is, he struts around like he owns the place.

Massani used to be handsome. Though it’s difficult to get past his disfigurement, looking at the intact half of his face and imagining the rest provides an approximation of whom he was.


Personality

Zaeed is the very model of the grizzled badass. He has an overclocked killer instinct and a genuine taste for deadly violence. It’s not that he doesn’t mind death and carnage – he actually finds it pleasant. He thrives on being challenged and surviving difficult odds.

Being shot at and shooting back provides that in spades. Zaeed seems unable to adjust to situations that can’t be summed up as “kill or be killed”.

His favourite memories are of situations so tense and deadly that he was the only thing left standing on the battlefield. He’s actually interested in quasi-suicidal and impossible-looking missions as ways to push himself and his skills.

Veenngeeaaance !

For 20 years Massani was devoured by a primal need to gain revenge against Santiago. He doesn’t seem sane about it. His near-death apparently left him with a massive PTSD  kept under control by obsessing over killing Santiago.

He reportedly felt a flash of adrenaline every time he heard a gunshot or felt pain as he thought of killing Santiago – not exactly the reaction of an undamaged individual.

Zaeed Massani ejects a thermal clip from his pistol

Zaeed strongly projects the impression that he’s a completely amoral butcher and killer who’ll slaughter anyone and do anything for money. This is not actually true. Although he readily admits that he’s done “some very bad things” during his long, blood-soaked career, Zaeed responds with surprising aversion to some of the evils he sees in his work.

This seems especially true for grave mistreatment of children. He reacted with obvious, lasting disgust when he saw how biotic kids had been imprisoned and tortured on Pragia. His dislike for Batarians may also come from the fact that many Batarians thrown out of their native systems are ruthless slavers who do not hesitate to trade kids of various species.

The ability to ignore and overcome pain is very important to Zaeed. He’s obviously contemptuous of persons who let injury and suffering overwhelm them. As far as Zaeed is concerned, no wound is ever serious and you just have to tough it out.

The price of revenge

After Shepard and her team helped Zaeed kill Vido, the veteran is left empty and aimless.

He knows it’s time for him to retire. But he just can’t come up with an idea and his thoughts gradually drift toward the morbid. Usually it’s some variant of going out with a huge bang that kills a lot of people whom he hates. Mostly he’s deluding himself. It’s obvious from the outside that Massani will never be able to retire.

Zaeed Massani talking

In this context, Shepard and her mission are important to him. He thinks it’s his last hurrah and a chance to die well and be remembered. He also obviously likes Shepard herself, admiring her resolve, charisma and unmatched military skills.

Zaeed would like to transmit what he knows to Shepard so his experience lives on in a great warrior. To his delight she’s genuinely interested in his innumerable war stories and experience.

Massani can talk for hours about, say, ambushes he laid or was caught in and what he learned from those. Zaeed also likes the idea of fighting for a good cause and be a hero of sorts. Especially if that is what closes his biography as a fighting man and gives him good epitaph material.

Old geezer

Since Vido’s death, Zaeed mostly lives in the past. He’s organising and cleaning up his souvenirs — many taken from people whom he killed — and reminiscing about old cases.

One particular souvenir is “Jessie”, the HK Lancer assault rifle he fought with for years if not decades. This is an old model still using heat dissipation rather than thermal clips.

Zaeed has a creepy fixation on this rifle, which seems more important to him than most persons he knows. He’s obsessed with repairing it so they can fight together again. Yet repairing “Jessie” is probably impossible.

Strange kind of woman

After the mission on Zorya to kill Santiago, Shepard was pissed off. Massani’s fanatical brutality had caused the accidental death of an unclear number of workers as Zaeed set fire to the refinery they were supposed to liberate.

Furthermore Shepard suspected that the mission had been arranged between Massani and the Illusive Man without telling her. She also strongly suspected that she took the wrong decision when assessing the feasibility of saving the workers. During the job she was still diminished and suffering from crushing migraines after her resurrection.

Zaeed Massani behind cover

Though she was furious and actually floored Massani with a punch right during the mission, Shepard came to realise that Zaeed wasn’t quite in control of his actions. He had 20 years of rage and traumatic stress overwhelming him.

If indeed it was possible to save the workers, then the mistake was hers to shoulder as the operation’s commanding officer, and it was she who made the wrong call.

Murder uncle

Massani soon made a awkward and veiled apology. He told Shepard that killing Santiago had solved many problems for many people and made the galaxy a better place. He also assured her that she had done the right thing despite the appearances.

An unlikely friendship developed during the various shouting matches that followed the incident. Massani came to greatly respect Shepard. He wanted to give her the most valuable thing he had – both to apologise for Zorya and because he wanted to have a legacy of sorts.

He thus began sharing his experience over innumerable beers in seedy bars, telling Shepard about how numerous missions had gone, what he had learned and his bag of tricks. As he realised that Shepard was depressed over personal matters, he also started talking about what he had learned from life in general.

As Joker put it Massani is sort of like Shepard’s wise old uncle, only more like a maniacal axe murderer who takes cheques.


Quotes

Shepard: “You survived getting shot in the face ?”
Massani: “Yeah. And you survived your ship gettin’ disintegrated. A stubborn enough person can survive just about anything. Rage is a hell of an anaesthetic.”

“Bring it on, you sons of a bitch !”

“Shepard ! I was just waxing goddamn nostalgic ! Want to hear about an old mission ?”

Zaeed Massani points his Predator pistol

“I knew a bar out on the front a lot like this. Me and some friends got stupid one night. Long story short, tempers flared, followed by pistols. We all got out except my buddy Narko.” (beat) “Places like this are slaughterhouses dressed as night clubs, I shit you not.”

“He ran the books, I led the men. Worked real well for a while. Then Vido decided to hire Batarians. ’Cheaper labour’, he said. ’Goddamn terrorists’, I said.”

“For 20 years I’ve seen that bastard every time I closed my eyes. Every time I sighted a target. Every time I heard a gunshot. Don’t you call that a goddamned ‘grudge’.”

“Let these people die. Vido dies, no matter what the cost.”

Zaeed Massani stands in front of an explosion

(Assessing the ops area) “In’s gonna be easy. Out’s gonna be a bitch.”

“Hey, don’t touch. That rifle’s older than you are. I call her Jessie, that’s my lucky charm. More men have been killed with that gun than in the Skyllian Blitz.”

“Doesn’t matter who you are – you got a gun in your face, chances are good you’ll do what the other man says. Only two types don’t buckle at that point: trained killers and psychopaths. Lots of people can’t tell the difference.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Zaeed Massani

Dex: 05 Str: 03 Bod: 05 Motivation: Mercenary
Int: 06 Wil: 04 Min: 05 Occupation: Merc, bounty hunter
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 006
Init: 020 HP: 050

Powers:
Regeneration: 01, Systemic antidote: 01

Bonuses and Limitations:
Regeneration and Systemic Antidote are Form Function.

Skills:
Gadgetry: 03, Martial artist*: 05, Medicine (First aid): 02, Military science (Demolition, camouflage, danger recognition): 05, Vehicles (Land): 03, Weaponry: 07

Bonuses and Limitations:
Gadgetry is limited to maintenance, repair and power user operations.

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (Known galaxy), Combat Shield Restoration, Expertise (Military protocols and equipment), Familiarity (Zero-G Combat), Iron Nerves, Language (Council Trade), Lightning Reflexes, Luck, Schtick (Pain Management, Low).

Connections:
Crew of the SSV Normandy (Low), Mercenary scene (Low), Shepard (High).

Drawbacks:
Creepy Appearance (Zaeed’s face was obviously surgically rebuilt, though many aliens may not notice), Guilt (disappears after he’s killed Vido Santiago).

Equipment:

  • M-3 Predator pistol [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 06, Range: 04, Ammo: 12, R#02, Drawback: Shield and Barrier RV is considered one CS higher against this weapon, Limitation: Projectile weapon has No Range, use the listed Range instead]. Seldom used in combat, but a convenient sidearm.
  • M-15 Vindicator battle rifle [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 09, Ammo: 07, Telescopic vision: 03, R#02].
  • M29-Incisor precision rifle [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 10, Ammo: 5, Telescopic vision: 03, R#03].
  • HIGH-END ARMOUR WITH HIGH-END MEDICAL SYSTEMS [BODY (Hardened) 10 /BODY/ 04, Cling: 04, Cold immunity: 03, Flame immunity: 03, Invulnerability: 05, Lightning immunity: 03, ME2 Defense (Shields): 20, Radio communications (Booster): 02, Regeneration: 05, Sealed systems: 12, Shade: 02, Skin armour: 03, Medicine (First aid): 04, Limitations: Cling only works on metallic surfaces and reduces movement speed to 0 APs, Invulnerability takes five minutes per roll, Medicine (First aid) is Self Only, but works automatically, Skin Armour doesn’t work vs. Blunt or Structural damage]
  • Omni-Tool [BODY 01, Data storage: 12, Radio communication: 13, Superspeed: 01, Limitation: Superspeed only for tasks involving processing information using the omni-tool, Advantage: Translator (10 pts)]
  • “Massani Special” underslung shotgun [BODY 03, EV 05 (Planned Knockback only), Projectile weapon: 07, Bonus: EV is Combined with Projectile Weapons and ride its Range, EV has Scattershot, Limitation: Can only be fired every third Phase]. This weapon is usually mounted under the Vindicator.
  • Disruptor coax gun [BODY 01, Sharpness (Projectile Weapons) (only against Kinetic Shields): 02, Paralysis: 08, Bonuses & Limitations: Paralysis only affects Mass Effect-powered weapons, is tested against BODY/BODY, and lasts for at most three Phases ; Paralysis is Combined with Sharpness and thus the Projectile Weapons score of the main gun – it has No Range of its own but rides Projectile Weapons’ Range ; Paralysis is a Mass Effect field]. One is mounted on the Vindicator, and one on the Incisor.
  • Incendiary grenades [BODY 02, Flame Project (No Range, Explosive Radius, Continuing Damage): 09, Grenade Drawback].

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Mass Effect video game trilogy.

Helper(s): Darci. Enhanced textures by Jean-Luc Fortier .

Writeup completed on the 5th of May, 2012.

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