History (in-game, part 1)
(Some of the events near the end are technically out of sequence. As I couldn’t tell beforehand the correct order for the quests. Ain’t no big deal.)
Mahsuri’s defective pod was found and forced open by one Cass Ducar. This Irathient information broker/mercenary spy had been investigating the area on her own.
Most VBI personnel aboard had died in the New Freedom crash. Furthermore, the ERA troops had taken bad casualties and were pinned around the wreck.
The area was controlled by mutated EMC remnants. They kept brutally attacking, but ERA survivors performed well in holding them at bay.
Short on everything but trouble, the ERA’s commanding officer enlisted Mahsuri’s help. He paid her to relieve pressure on his troops, and recover VBI supplies and equipment.
Meanwhile, Mahsuri was struggling with the new presence in her head – the EGO implant’s AI. As she got used to it she named it Oxomo , after the Aztec mythological figure.
The New Freedom had crashed near New Tranquility. This was a historical site – where the Battle of Defiance had taken place at the close of 2030.
Cass Ducar was looking for backup in unearthing sellable information within the New Tranquility ruins. She also sought to understand what the infamous Von Bach was up to.
Though Cass wasn’t the trustworthiest, she and Mahsuri worked well together. They soon began repeatedly teaming-up, along “you scratch my back” lines.
Their explorations did expose some secrets about New Tranquility’s final months. Though at the Earth Republic’s prompting, Mahsuri agreed to erase data (wrongly) implying that it was the Earth military that had bombed the area during the Battle of Defiance.
The boss man
Eventually, Mahsuri and Cass managed to free Von Bach from an EMC mutants military base.
Von Bach’s project was to use an immensely valuable Ark-Core to power salvaged Votan terraforming tech. This could potentially undo much of the damage done to Earth.
The Bay Area seemed to be the region with the best odds of finding exploitable arktech from still-falling debris. Therefore, Von Bach had sought to rebase there with the ERA’s backing.
But the New Freedom crashing meant a plan B was sorely needed.
Meet the locals
At Cass’ suggestion, Mahsuri liaised with Lawkeeper Jon Cooper. Cooper reluctantly agreed to have Mr. Von Bach couch-surf at his ranch, as a favour to the New Freedom captain.
However, Von Bach’s arrogance and lecherous remarks were threatening the nascent alliance with, respectively, Cooper and Ducar.
To keep the show on the road, Mahsuri offered to reinforce the Lawkeepers. As a result, she spent days roaming across the local farms. She helped with the likes of Hellbug invasions, or analyzing invasive mutations in flora.
Information also came up about where to find an Ark-tech McGuffin to complement Von Bach’s Ark-core.
However, Raiders were sent to invade Cooper’s ranch and steal Von Bach’s Ark-Core. Mahsuri and the Lawkeepers slew these in time. But it was now clear that Mr. Von Bach couldn’t stay at the ranch.
Let’s simply have the main musical theme from the Defiance TV show, eh ?
It was pretty cool, actually.
History (in-game, part 2)
Cooper had Karl Von Bach consult with Ara Shondu.
But the impatient Von Bach preferred to strike a deal with the robber baron Varus Soleptor – the richest person in the Bay Area. Soleptor was willing to trade intelligence about the McGuffin for having Mahsuri strike at Raider operations.
As *everybody* suspected, Soleptor was stringing Von Bach along to advance his interests. He was making bank from the facilities liberated from Raiders, while lying about the McGuffin.
Karl Von Bach even came to assume that Varus was the one paying the Raiders to come after him. Which wasn’t unreasonable, really.
Mac, mac, McGuffin, lover of the Votan things
Mahsuri minded little, as Varus was paying well.
Furthermore, her work for Soleptor Enterprises gave her a bit of a rep with the House of Tarr, a feared Castithan family. Mahsuri was noticed as a solid agent by Stahma Tarr , unofficially the House’s mistress since the death of her husband Datak.
Working with the increasingly reliable Cass Ducar provided much better intel than Soleptor’s. Mahsuri and Cooper raided the San Quentin prison , where Ducar had located the McGuffin.
However, the Raiders were double-crossed by their unidentified Votan clients. These seized the McGuffin, killed nearby Raiders and left. That was seconds before Mahsuri and Jon Cooper reached the scene.
Nolan and Irisa
However, Nolan seized an opportunity to double-cross Varus by stealing invaluable arktech for himself. As an apology, Nolan left behind one of his rifles for Mahsuri.
(This theft occurs shortly before the beginning of the TV series. Running away with the goods (which get stolen back by Raiders) is how Nolan and Irisa end up in St. Louis – where the show takes place.)
(Yes, there’s a continuity issue. Since Datak Tarr is still alive in the show.)
Rosa rosa rosam, rosae rosæ rosa
While Von Bach was wasting time with Soleptor, Ara Shondu suggested that they instead work with Top Notch Toolworks.
That proved far more fruitful. Especially since Rosa Rodriguez was about Karl Von Bach’s equal in technological mastery. This doubled the available expertise.
Mahsuri also found a new home at Top Notch. Still, Ms. Niren encouraged her to continue working for Von Bach, given the stakes.
Rosa Rodriguez’ raging revenge
Within a week, a crisis hit Top Notch. Eren learned that Joe Teach had resurfaced as a mighty 99er cyborg.
Teach was the man who had murdered Rosa’s father, and assaulted Ms. Rodriguez as a kid.
In an attempt to protect her lover, Eren went to investigate – but was kidnapped by 99ers.
Unfazed, Ms. Niren started treating those 99ers who had Indogene brain implants like her own. This lasted but briefly, as Rosa and Mahsuri came loaded for cyberbear and freed her.
Mahsuri and Rosa then raided Joe Teach’s HQ. Just as Dark Matter troops did, as they had determined that Teach owned key arktech salvage to make the McGuffin work.
In the end, Teach was slain. And Mahsuri grabbed his arktech from under Dark Matter’s nose.
History (in-game, part 3)
By this point, Mahsuri was de facto Cooper’s top deputy, and the special security guy for Top Notch Toolworks. Cooper thus requested her help arresting an Irathient vagabond leaving a trail of destruction.
Rynn, the Irathient lass, knew how to control Hellbugs. But she was chased by E-Rep soldiers attempting to weaponise this – hence the fights.
Cooper had a terrible opinion of this E-Rep commander, Colonel “Hammerhead” Gretch. Who was widely thought to have become insane. He therefore suspected that Rynn was in the right, and just defending herself.
After studying the project, Eren agreed with Rynn that E-Rep’s prototypes should be destroyed. The three raided a clandestine Earth Republic base on an island in the Bay.
There, they destroyed the monstrous artificial Hellbug that had been grown to control the others.
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
By this point, Von Bach and Rosa had pieced together the meaning of the repeated clashes with the Dark Matter commandos.
These were doing the exact same thing as Von Bach. Namely, assembling terraforming machinery from arktech salvage. But their goal was to finish terraforming the Bay Area – to kill off Earth life therein.
Dark Matter had also been the party repeatedly hiring Raiders war bands. To cover more ground and/or serve as canon fodder.
Mahsuri was therefore sent to San Francisco to hit the elite Dark Matter troops. This both would derail their plans, and bring Von Bach’s much closer to completion – by stealing their stuff.
Eventually, Mahsuri snatched the McGuffin.
First woman on Earth
The signal intelligence Mahsuri was gathering was supervised by VBI’s Senior Technician, Uvan Johaar.
He treated Mahsuri like an attack animal, which revolted Oxomo – her EGO implant.
The increasingly independent AI in Mahsuri’s head couldn’t frontally oppose Johaar, but swore to get back at him to protect her partner.
(This intriguing bit likely was a seed for future storylines, wot never came.)
Meanwhile, the Raider threat was worsening. Multiple warbands had converged in the area, and were coordinating. Cooper soon had to request Mahsuri’s assistance.
The Raiders also had some energy weapons. These were assumed to be Votan, but Oxomo determined that these were actually wartime EMC prototypes. This unstable ordinance had been banned and supposedly destroyed after the war.
Oxomo’s deduction was confirmed correct when the Raiders started deploying light EMC artillery to shell the locals.
Get Mok back
Meanwhile, Cooper enlisted the help of another of the Defiant Few still living in the area.
Torc Mok, a towering Sensoth military engineer, had left his previous life behind. He didn’t want to get involved in anything.
But he reluctantly agreed to help. Cooper convinced him that Dark Matter’s plan could easily be as bad as the strike that had obliterated New Tranquility back during the war.
Dark Matter and mercenary Raiders then attacked Mok’s transit depot to get the McGuffin. This large assault would have overwhelmed any other local fortified site.
However, one of Mok’s specialties was automated defence emplacements. His hidden artillery made the site just defensible enough. But the Bay Area was again becoming a war zone.
I recorded this one for no special reason. Just a short ride to a mission, in the San Francisco area.
This is near the end of the storyline. So at this point, vegetation is much more present in the area than when you first come in.
History (in-game, part 4)
Mok had a simple plan for a strategic strike :
- He knew where feared Raider leader Santana Murphy was based.
- He had some advanced weaponry that made a raid on this base possible. Starting with his own custom launcher, “Roxy”.
- Mok, Cooper and Mahsuri could be in the place and shooting before the badly disciplined Raiders could improvise a response.
The raid worked. With Murphy dead, Dark Matter would have a harder time contracting with Raiders.
We didn’t start the fire
Furthermore, the New Freedom’s commander had just established how his stratocarrier had been shot down. There was a secret, wartime EMC weapons bunker in the area.
This installation, the New Cronkhite, was the control centre for a Nova-Strike ionic beam. This wasn’t a ground-to-air system – it was an orbital weapon.
Cronkhite also was the likely source of the EMC weapons now in the hands of Raiders.
And that’s the way it is
Raiders had indeed somehow breached the top secret bunker. Mahsuri, Cooper and Mok went in.
Not only could they take control of it, but Karl Von Bach took over the Nova-Strike controls.
With such a weapon, it was now feasible to attack Dark Matter in San Francisco. They had just deployed an enormous Monolith-class mech to control the Golden Gate. The Nova-Strike ammunition was expended to destroy it.
However, the reconnaissance team fell into an ambush. Nim Shondu, Dark Matter’s mad leader and Ara’s supposedly dead brother, slew Von Bach and took his Ark tech components.
He let Mahsuri, Cooper and Mok go – as the unhinged nihilist wanted them to see the destruction of the Bay Area at his hands.
(There is another hanging subplot there, as Von Bach was seemingly “possessed” by Ark tech before his apparent death. Furthermore, his body is never found. Likely a seed for an expansion that never came.)
Ara Shondu didn’t get how her wicked brother could activate the terraforming Ark tech. Cooper and Mok then reluctantly explained that they knew first-hand that it was easy to use. And what had destroyed Fort Defiance back in 2030.
The bulk of the effort against Dark Matter troops was shouldered by E-Rep troops – the survivors of the New Freedom crash.
Mahsuri was detailed to a series of special projects, including :
- Taking over large chunks of the Dark Matter comms with Cass Ducar. Their biggest success was cutting the second Monolith giant mecha off the network, leaving it inert.
- Developing means for Rosa Rodriguez to turn their automated gun emplacements against Dark Matter.
- Allowing Eren Niren to override the “queen bee” signal coordinating a bunch of Scrappers. These robots thus became her army.
- Ms. Rodriguez then built upon all they had learned to take control of the inert Monolith mech, reactivating it.
- A demolition raid on a Dark Matter artillery emplacement at the Bay Bridge. Mahsuri, Cooper and Torc took it out, making it possible for ERA troops to cross the Golden Gate Bridge in force.
- Locating some odd pools of liquid gulanite, which could be used as ad hoc fuel for the ERA’s vehicles.
- Liberating captured medics after Varus’ Echelon mercs failed to protect them. This actually was a Dark Matter ambush – but they relied too much on their cloaking shields. And by that point, Mahsuri excelled at spotting the telltale shimmers in the air.
Another special op was identifying and assassinating a Dark Matter lieutenant doing too good a job at holding a key position. Parts of a downtown block still stood (more or less), and had been well fortified.
Dark Matter officers having no identifying marks, Mahsuri acquired DNA data about the LT from compromised Dark Matter data drives. But even then, it was still possible to obfuscate EGO scans, forcing her to assassinate several decoys to get to the actual officer.
The inevitable showdown
The assault, by a mix of locals and ERA expeditionary forces, started well.
But Dark Matter performed solidly against the Scrapper attacks, presumably used to soften them up. Nim Shondu’s troops even managed to cripple Rosa’s mecha.
Losing the Monolith opened a gap in the front. This allowed Dark Matter troopers to launch a counter-attack to stop the commando going after their leader.
Mahsuri, Cooper, Cass and Mok had invaded the Presidio Bunker, where Dark Matter had assembled their terraforming spire. At Cass’ suggestion, the last three formed a rear guard element. They would delay pursuing Dark Matter troops.
Meanwhile Mahsuri would engage Nim Shondu. Shondu also being EGO-enhanced, only Mahsuri stood a chance against him in a duel.
Flashlight nightmares and sudden explosions
Nim Shondu gained the upper hand during the fight.
But he wasted that by firing up the terraforming spire and rambling about everybody witnessing his victory. In the meanwhile, Mahsuri got back up and attacked anew.
Not only did she kill Nim, but she also managed to rip the McGuffin away from the spire. The explosion nearly finished her off, but she did crawl out of the Presidio.
As Ara Shondu expected, the death of her brother demoralised Dark Matter. They fell back further into San Francisco’s ruins.
The linked threats of Dark Matter and the Raiders were thus neutralised. Though the Bay Area was still a rough place of many dangers, this war was over for now.
Mahsuri’s features are mostly Asian, but her skin is a reddish dark brown – much like an Amazon Native.
Said features aren’t too discernible anyway, due to the black and white stylised skull tattoo all over her face.
She usually keeps her hair up in a fauxhawk, using cheap gel (or engine grease if there’s no gel left).
Mahsuri later fell in love with a pair of badass-looking, red-tinted polarised milspec sunglasses. They’re genuinely useful, and with the skull tat they make her look like a death metal album cover.
She still wears a Earth Military Coalition uniform for Mexican units. The unit patch was a way to sneak back Mexican colours onto this uniform, with red and white on a green sleeve patch.
Mahsuri speaks Spanish with a strong coastal Mexican accent – rural version. So she speaks real fast with vowels kinda mashed down and unarticulated.
By contrast her English is highly enunciated, with a pitch-perfect bilingual-TV-announcer-from-New-Brunswick accent. That’s what was in Lanma’s neural implants under “English”.
Not that you’ll hear either much – she’s one taciturn lass.
When she does speak, there are odds it’ll be copious Mexican swearing to handle stress. Often heartily encouraging listeners to perform sex acts on donkeys.
Many different sorts of donkeys get invoked. They have clothing (chiefly hats), notable physical features, drive certain cars, do various drugs, etc.. So many donkeys.
Mahsuri feels out of place all the time, everywhere. This is less marked once she’s made some friends, but most of the time she says little – and looks rigid and closed.
She grew up in an Immortan Joe-style toxic hell of an environment where everything was about death, honour, death, strength, death, crushing your enemies, hearing the lamentations of their women, death, etc..
But she was also largely raised by an aged Indogene who was all about calm politeness, rationality, scientific inquiry, work ethics and contributing to team efforts.
With these conflicting models, Mahsuri prefers to find somebody smart and just follow orders. Though if that person turns out to be an arsehat, her loyalty quickly dwindles to become paycheque-sized.
The Bay Area — and specifically Top Notch Toolworks — is the first time she feels a sense of belonging. So she’s tentatively considering laying roots, such as finding a man and stuff.
DC Heroes RPG
|Dex: 05||Str: 05||Bod: 05|
|Int: 04||Wil: 04||Min: 04|
|Inf: 04||Aur: 04||Spi: 05|
|Init: 022||HP: 050|
Enhanced Initiative: 04, Regeneration: 04, Running: 05, Sealed systems: 04, Ultra-vision: 05
Bonuses and Limitations:
- Sealed systems only to protect vs. background radiation.
- Ultra-vision only vs. low light.
Artist (Rapper): 03, Evasion: 06, Gadgetry: 03, Martial Artist (EV): 06, Medicine (First aid): 02, Military science (Demolitions): 03, Military science (Danger rec): 04, Thief (Stealth): 03, Vehicles (Land): 03, Weaponry (Infantry weapons): 06
Bonuses and Limitations:
Gadgetry is limited to maintenance and repair.
Combat Shield Override (see below), Credentials (Von Bach Industries, Low ; Bay Area Lawkeepers, High ; Top Notch Toolworks, High), Familiarity (Military equipment & protocols), Languages (Spanish), Lightning reflexes, Schtick (Lightning Reload, Fast Draw (Knife)), Misc.: tolerance for fatigue and sleep deprivation is tripled.
Cdr. Grant of the Earth Republic Army (Low), Lawkeeper Jon Cooper (High), Ambassador Chondu (Low), Rosa & Eren (High), Torc Mok (Low), Varus Soleptor (Low)
Creepy Appearance (Facial tat).
- BODY ARMOUR [BODY 06, Blunting: 02, Enhance (Ballistic, Energy, Slashing, Piercing, Acid RV): 02 (cap is 09)].
- SHIELD [BODY 03, Damage capacity (Physical): 12, Bonus: Damage capacity has the Full Recovery Bonus].
- MICROSENSORS + ADVISOR [BODY 02, Data storage: 22, Detect (VBI transponders): 04, Detect (Movement): 02, Detect (Specific, documented DNA signature): 03, Enhance (Military science (Danger rec, Demolitions)): 01 (cap is 06), Enhance (Gadgetry): 01 (cap is 10), Radio communications (Encrypted): 11, Superspeed: 04, Detective (Clue Analysis): 05, Medicine (Forensics): 04, Military science (Carto, Crypto): 06, Military science (Tracking): 03, Scientist: 05, Expertise (Signal intelligence, Comms management), Bonus: Data storage includes a HD camera, all Tasks can be carried out without additional equipment and in the field without penalties, Limitations: Superspeed only for Mental Tasks and Initiative, Scholar (Votan tech maintenance & repair, Terran tech maintenance & repair).
- Kevlar-reinforced gloves [/BODY/ (Hardened defences) 07, Limitation: this only protects the hands].
- Favourite sunglasses [BODY 01, Shade: 01].
- QUAD [STR 04 BODY 06, Detect (A specific transponder): 08, Flash (Steady illum only): 04, Running: 06, Vehicles (Self): 03, Limitation: Vehicles only to reach the specific transponder].
- Modified pulser [BODY 04, Energy blast (Autofire): 06, Sharpness (Energy blast): 06, Range: 04, Ammo: 15, Limitation: Energy blast has no Range, use the listed Range instead].
- Modified Sovereign battle rifle [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 07, Sharpness (Projectile weapons): 02, Ammo: 07, Range: 06, Telescopic vision: 01, Rec. STR 02, Limitation: Projectile weapons has no Range, use the listed Range instead].
- Pulse grenades (x6) [BODY 01, Sonic beam (Area of effect 1 AP): 07, Sharpness (Sonic beam): 02, Grenade drawback].
- BAS-7 Derailer [BODY 02, Projectile weapons: 08, Sharpness (Projectile weapons): 02, Range: 10, Telescopic vision: 04, Ammo: 12, Rec STR 02, Limitation: Projectile weapons has no Range, use the listed Range instead].
- Shockwave “shotgun” [BODY 04, Shotgun Blast (Range: 02): 08, Sharpness (Shotgun blast): 02, Ammo: 01, Recommended STR: 03, Misc.: reloading expends a Dice Action].
- Casa Aragòn Comando trench knife [BODY 04, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 05), Descriptor: Blunt, Piercing, Slashing, Bonus : +1CS OV/RV to resist Disarm attempts]. A 22cm stainless steel, Bowie-style blade with spiked handguard.
- Sweeper shotgun [BODY 04, Shotgun Blast (Range: 03): 06, Sharpness (Shotgun blast): 02, Ammo: 08, Recommended STR: 02].
- Detonator [BODY 04, Mental blast (Area of Effect 0 APs): 07, Sharpness (Mental blast): 01, Ammo: 10, Drawback: Long reload, Rec STR 02].
- Rocket Launcher [BODY 01, Bomb: 04, Projectile Weapons: 09, Sharpness (Projectile weapons): 04, Ammo: 02, Bonus: Projectile weapons and Bomb can be Combined (Bomb rides the Range of Projectile weapons), Schtick (Trajectory calculation)].
Combat Shield Override
This is vaguely related to the Mass Effect 2 Combat Shield Restoration Advantage. But let’s make it even simpler.
This Advantage allows :
- For doubling the efficiency of Last Ditch Defence to a SHIELD’s Damage Capacity APs. That is, each LDD’d RAP prevents two RAPs.
- For halving (round down) the Recovery Time of a SHIELD’s Damage Capacity. Frex, Recovery Time in the Action Genre is 15 APs. With this Advantage, a SHIELD gets a Recovery Roll every 7 APs of time (and high-end shields have the Full Recovery Bonus).
Happiness is a loaded weapon – and a short cut is better by far
The Pale Wars gear is known to be better than ordinary weaponry. But we have no scale to work with. Everything is level-scaled.
Furthermore, the very first thing you do in the story is acquire a more advanced weapon. Since your starting one is stated to be insufficient. We never get a decent sense of what a normal firearm would do.
However, most Dark Matter troopers are in full body armour. We can also observe that people that still have EMC Ninth Division gear (such as Cooper and elite EMC remnant mutants) wear some sort of advanced body armour.
So I’ve gone with a simple Sharpness: 02 for advanced weaponry, with some hybrid weapons presumably having Sharpness: 01. That means that troops with advanced weapons and armour can withstand much more gunfire, and almost ignore normal Earth ballistic protections.
The way of the gunslinger
Defiance 2050 is a soloable looter-shooter. So one character constantly wins fights where they are hideously outnumbered.
In Defiance 2050 we know that the rationale is the EGO. But in practice the fights are won because the opfor’s AI is daft AF. Most fights are won :
- By using cover while the enemy doesn’t.
- Kiting and circle-strafing.
- Leveraging their poor navigation around obstacles.
Need for speed
It’s difficult to wrap the reality of gameplay into something that’d feel credible in another medium.
One weak angle could be to draw from the “gunkata” concept used in Equilibrium. But it just doesn’t fit in.
The final in-game fight against Nim implies that EGO-assisted super-soldiers have some form of superspeed. And that the best such soldiers are impossible to fight, even for top-drawer non-enhanced soldiers.
However, this doesn’t align well with the in-game experience. For instance, if you come under copious fire without cover and bump into something whilst strafing blindly, you’re dead. So modelling the Player Character that way would be weird.
(If you want to go that way anyway, I suspect that a high DEX score (and adjusted Skills) would be the way to go. Based on the Nim fight, and how Cooper describes Nim’s performance during the Battle of Defiance).
(If using that approach, 09 would be about right for Nim, and for the Player Character at the end of the story. Almost everybody else has realistic AVs and OVs, so a 09 comes across as superhuman. But again, that’s modelling what’s stated rather than what’s observed.)
It’s all in the mind
Another possibility might be that the EGO messes with perceptions from hostiles. Not to a Shade the Changing Man level, but still confusing and misdirecting them.
Perhaps hallucinations make the exact position of objects unclear, and make the Player Character appear to move in a strobe-like, distorted way. That would be a fair rationale for observed gameplay.
Like most video game characters, the Defiance 2050 Player Characters respawn after being killed. We can just consider that a genre convention.
However, if you go with the “clouding men’s minds” approach for the EGO above, respawning can be worked in.
Namely, there’s a separate mental Illusion effect that makes it look like the character has died. Meanwhile, they actually crawl away to heal their wounds.
If the wounds are severe enough, the EGO implant might be able to take over, making the unconscious character move while using nanites to staunch blood loss.
The people demand stats for this !
- For the “clouding people’s minds” stuff, use the Fog v2 Power. It specifically has a Limitation for being a Mental effect rather than Physical obscuration. In Mahsuri’s case, 8 APs sound about right.
- There are 8 APs of Illusion, with a 2 APs radius Area of Effect. It can be done without any Action, but it only fires when the Current BODY Condition is lowered to zero, *and* it only casts an illusion of the Character’s death while camouflaging the actual Character.
- There are 8 APs of Invulnerability. However, once it kicks in the Character can only perform Automatic Actions as long as they haven’t fully Recovered their BODY Condition.
Other design notes
The guns in Defiance 2050 were infamously homogeneous. So here I’m going more with the stats they should have, than what’s in play.
Otherwise they’d pretty much all have the same EV.
Body armour is untested, top-of-my-head stats, since we haven’t yet revised modern body armour stats.
Source of Character: Defiance 2050 video game.
Writeup completed on the 25th of April, 2021.