King Snake (Robin and Batman enemy) (DC Comics)

King Snake


King Snake is a DC Universe crime lord, who chiefly clashed with Robin (Tim Drake) and Batman. He first appeared in 1991.

He’s a merger of various archetypes from martial arts movies, cinematic  crime stories, men’s adventures, pulp novels, etc. but competently done and very much workable.

King Snake is a solid choice for a recurrent antagonist in some street-level games, particularly in stories where the martial arts play a big role.



  • Real Name: Sir Edmund Dorrance.
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed.
  • Known Relatives: Bane (possible son).
  • Group Affiliation: Leader of the Ghost Dragons.
  • Base Of Operations: Formerly Hong Kong, later Gotham City.
  • Height: 6’2” Weight: 220 lbs.
  • Eyes: Milky white Hair: Blond

Powers and Abilities

King Snake is a deadly master of the martial arts. Although a grandmaster like the Batman can defeat him without too many problems, he’s a deadly threat for a minor master like Robin.

King Snake is particularly adept with one-blow, one-kill techniques (in DC Heroes RPG terms, the EV Subskill). While he’s blind, he has turned the dark into a weapon and has extremely acute senses. In this regard he evokes Nick Parker.

King Snake is an extremely dangerous man, with great resolve and willpower, and a master crimelord. His formidable ruthlessness allows him to quickly build major criminal concerns whenever he so wishes.



Edmund Dorrance went from the London slums to a captaincy in the Royal Artillery of the British army by his 24th birthday. Many suspected that blackmail was involved, but Dorrance never was charged. Thus, it was as an officer of the Queen that he came to Hong Kong. There, he used his rank to facilitate smuggling illegal goods from Asia to the ports of Europe.

After leaving the Army, he and several of his friends acted as anti-Communist mercenaries in the early 1960s. They saw the Cold War as a bit of a crusade – although they turned a healthy profit from it. While operating in war-torn Santa Prisca, Dorrance had sex with a local woman. It is believed but not proven, that the woman went pregnant with Dorrance’s child.

However, Sir Edmund and his buddies were soon attacked by commandos from the communist government. Dorrance was taken by surprise as he was in bed with his Santa Priscan lover, and a bullet took out his eyes.

(Two accounts of how King Snake lost his eyes appear to be contradictory. I have favoured here the most recent version over the one in Who’s Who in the DC Universe.)

The Communist regime regained control over Santa Prisca. As a result, the woman and her child were judged in absentia for the deeds of Dorrance and his mercs. They were condemned to several centuries in the harshest prison, Pena Dura. The child would grow up to become Bane.

Meanwhile, Dorrance, now blind, left the mercenary life to start the criminal empire of which he dreamt. He took up residence in Kowloon  and began a ruthless campaign to make himself a major player in the Asian crime world.


From this home base, Edmund Dorrance sought to learn from the greatest of the martial arts masters. He proved to be an eager student and traveled from school to school until he had mastered every form of combat but one.

This style was taught by a man named Koroshi, though by some to be the greatest master of empty hand fighting on Earth. Dorrance learned from him then challenged him to a fight. Sir Edmund won, leaving the crippled, disfigured, broken Koroshi to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

In Hong Kong Dorrance, with the aid of a street gang known as the Ghost Dragons, carved his niche in the hugely lucrative heroin trade. Murder and extortion were his tools, earning him the nickname King Snake. Always concerned with making his riches legitimate, Edmund became one of Hong Kong’s wealthiest landowners. He built a business empire on money made from the sale of drugs.

Dorrance was awarded the Order of the British Empire at age 40 for his generous work in the area of children’s charities. This generosity had been made possible by the millions he’d made in narcotics.

Preparing for China’s return

With the impending return of Hong Kong to the possession of mainland China in the year 1997, Sir Edmund attempted to move his crime empire to Gotham City. He started liquidating his assets so he could move with a formidable war chest – entire shipping containers full of bills.

But first, he opted for a scorched earth strategy. He was certain the Communist Chinese would completely fumble Hong Kong and ruin it, and resolved not to leave anything behind him.

His James Bondian plan involved recovering germ warfare agents in a forgotten 1940s German lab on French soil to spread them over Hong Kong. He also wanted an antique Spanish water clock of great precision and bulk to serve as the timer.

KIng Snake had the entire Spanish contraption moved and rebuilt in Hong Kong, while a team of Ghost Dragons led by his newest street aide, Lynx, recovered most of the German biowarfare gear.


However, four persons attempted to stop him. DEA agent Clyde Rawlins and Robin III teamed up after fighting Ghost Dragons in Paris. Lady Shiva was also looking for Snake, as he was reputed to be the most dangerous man in the world and his victory over Koroshi interested her. She allied herself with Robin, who became her pupil.

Last but certainly not least, the formidable manhunter Henri Ducard was also paid by the French government to get Dorrance.

Rawlins, Robin and Shiva managed to defeat King Snake. However, Rawlins was killed by Snake while seeking his revenge. Robin left King Snake hanging precariously from 50 stories high, and Shiva then let him fall to his apparent death. Ducard came in a few minutes later, wrapping things up with the authorities.

Some time later, following a tip from Ducard, Robin intercepted some Ghost Dragons and Lynx as the containers full of money were arriving in Gotham. It looked like Snake’s empire was dead at last.

I will survive

The King Snake, however, had hit a ledge and survived his fall, albeit with a broken back. Extensive surgery, implanted steel rods around the spine and intensive physical therapy were necessary to let him move again. Still, it seemed King Snake had lost a bit of his prowess to the accident.

He also suffered from nightmares from his fall. A recurrent motif was being taunted by Robin as he fell, though that’s not what had actually happened.

Snake moved to Gotham and retook control of Lynx and the local Ghost Dragons. These were pretty much all of what was left of his previous empire. Undaunted, he started rebuilding from that base.

First we take Gotham, part 1

The Ghost Dragons quickly became a major gang presence in Gotham. But, at first, Batman and Robin assumed somebody was cashing in on King Snake’s fearsome rep by pretending to be the supposedly dead crimelord.

They only realized he was the real McCoy when a large shipment of assault weapons intended to arm the Dragons to the teeth was intercepted by the ATF … and then retaken by Lynx and her troops.

King Snake was ready to make his wrath known, and had a clear target : Robin. In his confused memories of his fall, he remembered the Boy Wonder kicking him to the edge of the building, but not Shiva having him fall.

To make his message clear, he dressed a dead Ghost Dragon in a Robin costume and left the body to be fished out of the bay by the police. Lynx later added her own touch by leaving a dead robin (the bird) for Commissioner Gordon to find.

First we take Gotham, part 2

Batman started working Gotham’s Chinatown, taking several bullets in the process. Meanwhile, he tried to have Robin stay away from the action since he was directly threatened. He tracked King Snake down and walked into his trap, fighting him in the pitch black hold of a cargo ship.

Using night vision goggles, Batman quickly evened the odds and beat King Snake down in single combat. Robin intervened to save him from Lynx’s sniper shot at the last second.

During the fight, Batman told Snake that it was actually Shiva who had pushed him off the building. He added that she didn’t intend to kill him – he had been beaten, and was no longer the most dangerous man in the world. King Snake then recovered the correct memories from his accident.

King Snake continued working on his power base in Gotham. He grew powerful enough to directly confront a particularly dangerous Russian criminal organization, the former KGB faction known as The Hammer. The Ghost Dragons and the Hammer clashed over the control of an advanced printing press which had been primed to produce fake Euro bills before the real thing was even in production.

Leading the Dragons, King Snake successfully defeated the Hammer’s operatives. He even narrowly vanquished the KGBeast by fighting him in the dark. However, they later discovered that the presses had been sabotaged by Robin – the magnetic strip in the bills now read “money can’t buy me love”.

International crime

King Snake was then seen in Transbelvia, where he was fixing a weapon deal for three megabucks with the local warlords. The deal went sour when the Transbevian superhumanly fast martial artist Dava sunk the weapon crates.

Transbelvian representatives tried to slay King Snake, but he easily handed them physically. They were force to agree on a new shipment, for which they would pay a 50% overcharge.

However, the second deal was also broken by the appearance of Dava, who had teamed up with Robin. Neither Snake and his men, or his clients, could oppose a significant resistance. The Transbelvian fled, but were blown up by a booby trap they had intended for the King Snake due to their previous humiliation.

Snake himself faced Lady Shiva, temporarily endowed with superspeed. Dorrance somehow managed to survive the impossible odds – presumably by being left for dead.

Horse and snake

The Ghost Dragons continued to prosper despite this setback – until King Snake’s arrogance led him to commit a formidable error.

Much of the Golden Triangle’s heroin trade had been united under the leadership of a Shan Triad figurehead, General Tsu. The Shan representatives told their distributors that they would tighten their control over the heroin flow and, presumably, raise prices. This infuriated King Snake, who killed the emissary and his bodyguards – thus declaring war with his own providers.

This turned his aide and probable lover Lynx against him. Thus, she sought to wrestle control of the Ghost Dragons from him. When the struggle became a physical battle, King Snake showed uncharacteristic mercy toward his lover, throwing her back instead of killing her immediately.

Snake and monkey

As Lynx and the Dragons attacked again, the fight was broken up by Robin III and the Huntress. King Snake engaged them, but Robin’s intervention sent him, Dorrance and the Huntress falling down from three stories. All three were unharmed, but Robin’s action meant King Snake had left the fight without crushing the rebels.

Therefore, Lynx was now the Ghost Dragon’s boss, and King Snake was on the run. He boarded a ship in Gotham harbour but the enforcer sent by the Shan Triad, the Silver Monkey, caught up with him. Unfortunately for Snake, the Monkey was one of the top martial artists in the world.

Still, as they fought on the top of a container suspended by a crane, Sir Dorrance managed to knock the Monkey off and the assassin fell into the harbour. Dorrance then tried to engage the nearby Robin, but the container fell into the sea, and the harbour patrol fished him out and arrested him some time after.

Kobra takeover

King Snake escaped and somehow infiltrated the Kobra organisation. Kobra had lost its original leader, the Naja-Naja, Kobra himself.

King Snake ruthlessly worked his way up the Kobra ladder, and was soon taking control of a good chunk of it. His supporters gradually assassinated his opponents. Dorrance also allied himself with the poisonous Eve, Kobra’s former concubine, who also became his lover.

As the next part of his plan, he had the twin brother of the former Naja-Naja kidnapped. As in every reincarnation, they had been twins joined at birth. One was “evil” and one “good”. Daniel Temple, the future new Naja-Naja, was the “good” half of the pair – but he was also a student at Robin’s school, and a friend of Tim Drake.

Thus, Robin began tracking Temple down. He eventually made it to the Himalayas, locating the Kobra base where King Snake, Eve and Daniel were. Robin was intercepted by Eve. King Snake had spoken about him, and she knew he secretly feared the teen. Eve and Robin then witnessed the “crowning” ceremony of Daniel Temple. At this point, King Snake made his move.

The snake among the Kobras

Daniel had only been needed to open the special lock which gave access to one of Kobra’s best kept secrets, a Lazarus pit. The Kobra base was apparently a former base of Ra’s al Ghul. Snake threw Temple aside, and had his men, who comprised all of the armed guards at the ceremony, hold the assembly at gunpoint.

Then Dorrance bathed in the pit. It could restore his eyes at last, rejuvenate him, and allow him to finish his daring coup.

When he emerged from the pit, Dorrance saw Robin held at knife point by Eve. He engaged the lad in combat, thrilled he could see him and that he would soon see him die. Robin managed to somewhat hold his own as Dorrance was unused to work with visual information, but the outcome wasn’t in doubt.

At this point, all Hell broke lose. The previous Naja-Naja was back, and had taken control of one of the base’s two super-powerful combat robots. He attacked the ceremony and his robot took on King Snake’s men. In the firefight, the ceremonial cup of cobra venom was knocked into Dorrance’s eyes, destroying them and making him blind again.

Hail Naja-Naja

Daniel Temple, who had left the room after he was shoved aside by King Snake, then came back. He was now clad in a suit of power armour intended for the Naja-Naja, and accompanied by the other combat robot. He and Robin rushed outside as the raging fight pretty much destroyed the base.

They were on the mountain’s steep slope when King Snake caught up with them despite his blindness. However, all three were caught in an avalanche. Daniel Temple and Robin escaped using the armour’s boot jets, but Dorrance was swept away by tons of snow, into the abyss

The entire Kobra organisation entered a phase of vicious infighting worldwide, with none of their leaders emerging from the destroyed arsenal.

King Snake, however, survived yet again. But the base was inaccessible, and he couldn’t hope to trek all the way back to civilisation. He lived as a cave hermit for weeks, eating snow and small animals, and waiting for something to happen.

Enter Bane

Meanwhile, Bane came across information that his progenitor was King Snake. Knowing from Robin where Sir Dorrance had last been seen, he climbed the mountain and found the hermit. King Snake confirmed it was quite possible he was his father.

Shortly after, a Kobra squad who had been searching for the destroyed arsenal found them. But King Snake had read many of the secret scrolls and knew the hypnotic command that could turn any Kobra soldier immediately loyal to him. With the tools the soldiers had brought with them, Bane, King Snake and his retinue could enter the base.

King Snake took control anew of one of the super-powerful combat robots, as well as a container filled with a super-powerful chemical weapon. However, they were at that point interrupted by Batman and Robin.

King Snake aggressively wanted his son to take his side, rule the world with him and maybe give him one his eyes. But the reformed Bane sided with Batman. Furious at the perceived betrayal, King Snake used a nearby assault rifle to gun down Bane, who then threw the chemical weapon at him. Both Dorrance and the weapon fell down a nearby bottomless fissure.

Bane then had Batman drag him to the Lazarus pit, and was reborn anew from the mortal wounds King Snake had inflicted on him.

Bane had hoped that his father would be a great man, like Thomas Wayne. But having seen King Snake’s evil, Bane decided that he would become a new man.


King Snake often wears dark glasses and a very expensive white business suit with black tie.


King Snake has a small problem with tremendous megalomania. His Will is supreme, and is, by definition, unquestionably Right. All persons and events who would object to that are annoying insects that should be crushed without a second thought. He will kill anybody who annoys him, and threaten with death anybody who *might* annoy him, such as a service provider.

This arrogance can be quite irrational. Telling his own providers from the Golden Triangle to get lost because they implied they may want a greater control on distribution was a nigh-suicidal move.

But King Snake knows he has obvious superiority from blood, martial might, ruthless intelligence, vast wealth, title and a mighty criminal empire. If he wants, he should get, without tergiversation. He’s utterly rigid and predictable about it.


Sir Dorrance also has the stereotypical aristocratic English concern with doing things with good form. His word is a gentleman’s, and once given will not be taken away. Likewise he will refuse any help during a duel of honour.

That doesn’t mean he fights fair. But given his crippling handicap, manoeuvring to fight in pitch darkness can be seen as more of an equaliser than an unfair advantage. A part of his insistence on following good form, of course, is that he has trouble accepting that somebody could genuinely defeat him.

Due to his values, King Snake sometimes find it unbecoming to directly order the death or kill a woman or child. However, this cannot be relied on. Instead, he’ll probably order the offending person to be crippled by an underling somewhere else. And he certainly does not hesitate before indirectly sowing death through his criminal activities, or even attempting genocide.

Cold warrior

Having grown up during the height of the Cold War, he strongly distrusts all kinds of Communism. He views them as incompetent regimes and part of the Red Tide. After having been betrayed by Lynx, then Eve, and after what he perceived as betrayal from Bane, he also seems on his way to becoming paranoid.

King Snake has something of a James Bond villain flair. He will plan on a grand scale if he can, such as destroying Hong Kong or taking over the Kobra organization.


“This is between Batman and myself. Whoever wins walk away. Whatever else, we *must* show good form.”

King Snake : “The King Snake does not ’guarantee‘. A guarantee from me implies a threat from the General and the Shan triad. Tell the man how I respond to threats, Lynx.”
Lynx : “Not kindly.”

“You are fast, young man. But not as fast as this. Not as fast as a snake.”

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

King Snake

Dex: 08 Str: 04 Bod: 06 Motivation: Power
Int: 08 Wil: 07 Min: 08 Occupation: Crimelord
Inf: 07 Aur: 05 Spi: 07 Resources {or Wealth}: 015
Init: 027 HP: 030

Analytical smell: 05, Directional hearing: 06, Hypersensitive touch: 01

Acrobatics: 06, Charisma*: 07, Detective: 04, Martial artist (AV, OV, RV)*: 08, Martial artist (EV): 09, Medicine (First aid): 03, Military science: 04, Thief (Stealth): 06, Weaponry (Firearms): 05, Weaponry (Melee)*: 08

Area Knowledge (Hong Kong), Connoisseur, Expertise (international drug trade, Kobra secrets), Iron Nerves, Language (Cantonese Chinese), Schtick (Under cover of the dark, 10 pts).

Underworld (High), British aristocracy (Low).

CPR (blind), SIH of Robin and Shiva, Serious Rage, Secret Identity, SIA to arrogance.

Blind fury, part 1

King Snake is blind. In game terms this make him immune to various Powers such as Darkness, Fog, Flash, forms of Hypnotism or Control requiring eye contact, etc.

This also greatly complicates most actions in everyday life. It further makes some of his Skills nearly useless (such as his firearms Subskill – unless his target is talking) or difficult to use without assistance (such as his demolition Subskill).

His highly developed senses, partially compensate for his missing sight. In particular, he has no difficulty sensing the position and movements of an opponent who is within melee range. Thus, his close combat skill is not penalised by blindness. He can be completely Blindsided by stealthy opponents – but most such opponents will have to breathe at some point.

Some actions at extreme melee range can also confuse King Snake. Robin once tricked him by swinging his staff by holding it by the end with an extended arm, leading King Snake to the conclusion Robin was much closer to him than he actually was.

Blind fury, part 2

Other things are also problems for King Snake. Frex, identifying persons if he cannot recognise their voice and scent (he has an excellent memory for those, however) and the like. Most of the time, he will turn his handicap into a deadly weapon, by fighting against opponents in the dark.

In such conditions, King Snake receives a +2CS to his OV, while his own senses allow him to ignore the darkness penalty. With such an enhanced OV, King Snake is usually free to concentrates his Martial Artist Skill on EV substitution.

King Snake’s Schtick (Under cover of the dark) allows him to maximize his advantage by also diminishing the opponent’s OV by one CS. This only applies if the opponent is in darkness and has no ability to negate the darkness’s effect.

Enter the Ghost Dragons

The Ghost Dragons are a huge Chinese street gang. So huge they’re a player in the world of the international mob, and have strong Triad contacts. Their gross is considerable, especially in the narcotics department, and they are known as a ruthless bunch extremely skilled at street fighting.

The Ghost Dragons prefer to settle matters with fists and melee weapons, but they are no fools. If they think they are likely to encounter opponents with firearms, they will pack pistols, machine pistols and submachineguns.

A good Ghost Dragon fighter has the following stats :

Dex: 03 Str: 03 Bod: 03 Motivation: Mercenary
Int: 02 Wil: 02 Min: 03 Occupation: Gang member
Inf: 02 Aur: 02 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 009 HP: 005

Acrobatics: 03, Martial artist: 04, Thief (stealth): 02

Credentials (Ghost Dragons, Low), Language (Cantonese Chinese).

Street (Low).

Generic martial arts or streetfighting melee weapon [BODY 04, EV 03 (04 w/STR, 05 w/Martial Artist)]. They will pack if they expect opponents with guns, however – pistols, machine pistols, submachineguns and even some assault rifles.

Design Notes

The statistics above are for King Snake after his first defeat by Robin and Lady Shiva. It is possible, but not demonstrated, that his DEX, STR and DEX-related skills were higher by one AP before he fell from that building.

By Sébastien Andrivet (based on v1 published by Mayfair).

Source of Character: Bat-books.

Helper(s): Roy Cowan, Kal El el Vigilante.