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Snowbird (Alpha Flight) (Marvel Comics) portrait

Snowbird

(Classic Alpha Flight) (part #2)


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

Context

This profile is the second half of Snowbird’s character profile for the classic Alpha Flight era – Byrne’s run. It starts right where ended, so they should be read in order.


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History (continued)

Over the second half of the 1970s, Department H developed rapidly. It reached its full manpower with a full team (Alpha Flight), a training team (Beta Flight) and a set of recent recruits (Gamma Flight).

The powerful and rapidly-maturing Snowbird was on Alpha Flight – along with Shaman, who was now willing to operate in the field.

Alpha Flight

The operations of Alpha Flight during the late 1970s are largely undocumented. Alpha Flight twice clashed with the X-Men, out of pressure to reclaim Wolverine. The team did not perform well during these engagements, and Trudeau’s  interest in keeping Department H active steadily waned.

Relations with the X-Men later improved. Thus, Wolverine and Nightcrawler came to help half of Alpha Flight — including Snowbird — to hunt down a Wendigo in the Great White North.

During the battle Snowbird turned into an actual wolverine to overpower the Wendigo. Though she savaged the monster, she quickly lost control to the powerful instincts of her animal form. This lasted until Wolverine talked her back into human form, saving her from forever remaining a beast.

This led Narya to change her mind about him. She apparently had disliked him ever since their association within the Flight and his later desertion.


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Love actually

After the 1980 closure of Department H, Narya carried on her vigil in coordination with Shaman, spending most of her time as Anne McKenzie. However, Chief-Inspector Cranmer died. And there was no Department H to instruct his successor (CI Hamilton) to ignore Anne McKenzie’s erratic hours.

In 1983, Chief-Inspector Hamilton ordered an investigation of MacKenzie’s activities, during which the corporal was to be imprisoned. However, within hours, McKenzie sensed the arrival of the Great Beast Tolomaq. She left after punching a large breach in the wall of her cell. Snowbird engaged Tolomaq alone, and narrowly won.

By that point Snowbird saw her secret identity as being more a hindrance than a boon. She let go of it. After a few weeks she flew back to the MacKenzie district, since she thought that she owed an explanation to her one actual friend there, Sgt. Douglas Thompson.

She explained to Thompson that she was Snowbird and wouldn’t be back. But as she left Thompson told her that he loved her.

Snowbird lacking any real-life experience, she had no idea how to handle this. Though she initially intended to turn down the offer, she realised that she liked Thompson well enough, further confusing her. In an attempt to explain why this was a bad idea, she showed Sgt. Thompson a glimpse of her true form, as opposed to her beautiful quasi-human form as Snowbird.

Thompson overcame the shock from this frightful sight and they started a discreet relationship anyway.

Binder of evil

In 1985, Snowbird first met Elizabeth Twoyoungmen, the estranged daughter of Shaman. Narya immediately saw that she was the reincarnation of Talisman, a great protector of mankind arising to fight off Llan the Sorcerer and other menaces. She saw it as her duty to uphold Elizabeth and help her in her fight.

Snowbird over a red background

However, Elizabeth was spooked by Snowbird’s determination. This evolved into anger since she never was given a choice about being the Talisman.

Minutes after discovering Elizabeth’s role, Snowbird joined Shaman, Puck and Talisman for an Alpha Flight mission in the past. They jumped back to 1884 to prevent a future possession by the Great Beast Ranaq. Though Snowbird was easily blasted unconscious by Ranaq, the Great Beast’s host was destroyed and the mission was a success.

Tanaraq

Despite the victories of Snowbird and her allies against Tundra, Tolomaq and Ranaq, Narya was chastised her mother, grand-father and once-removed first cousin. They disciplined her through mystical pain, and berated her for allying with a Beast. They then revealed to an uncomprehending Narya the true nature of her team-mate Sasquatch.

Snowbird instinctively flew to Douglas Thompson to recover from the pain inflicted by her relatives. But once she could stand she flew straight to Sasquatch to kill him.

After Snowbird wounded him, Sasquatch revealed that he was indeed the Great Beast Tanaraq. He had recently fully taken over Walter Langkowski, after years of resistance. As Talisman ran interference, Narya cleverly used her power to duplicate Tanaraq’s form. Technically, he was a “beast” and this body had been “born” in the Great North.

The overconfident Tanaraq ranted about how Snowbird’s “diluted blood” made her too weak. He realised too late than Snowbird was, in this form, even stronger than him, and she ripped his heart out.

Though her teammates were in shock to see Langkoswki dead at her hands, the perceptive Puck realised that it was still possible to save Walter’s spirit. Snowbird agreed to lead a combat rescue mission to the dimension of the Great Beast to bring back Langkowski’s soul.

Into devastation

Snowbird was accompanied by Puck, Shaman, Talisman, and Aurora. She also compelled Northstar to come with them. In the forlorn and mystical Arctic crater called the Eye of the World, Shaman opened the barrier and the team entered the Realm of the Beasts.

There, Snowbird soon ran into Somon, eldest of the Beasts. Somon summoned the Beasts Tundra, Kariooq, and Tolamaq, and suspended their mutual hatred so they would fight the intruders.

Snowbird face closeup

However, Somon underestimated the immense strength of Snowbird’s bear form, and was soon mauled. This disrupted his control over the other Beasts. Shaman stopped Snowbird from killing Somon so as to force his cooperation in finding Langkowski’s soul. But all Somon did was betray them through half-truths, and Snowbird killed him in retaliation.

With Langkowski’s soul’s assistance, the team completed its mission and returned to Earth with no casualties.

Mission accomplished

With all seven Beasts destroyed, Snowbird announced that her mission was done, and that she was leaving Earth. However, what she actually did was to clandestinely return to her lover Sgt. Thompson. Her plan was to stay with him and learn about human life.

However, a few months later, Snowbird sensed that her team-mates were in great danger. Thus, she flew to join them in Edmonton. Alpha Flight had been ambushed by the robot Delphine Courtney and renegade Beta and Gamma Flight members.

Snowbird arrived too late to help. But she rejoined the group to help them handle menaces against her homeland after Talisman left in anger.


Description

Snowbird has a number of different appearances. Beyond her varied white animal forms, she has appeared as at least two different mortal women :

  • A skinny blonde in her early 30s (her Anne McKenzie form).
  • A youthful, athletic woman with long white hair (her most human-looking form in the early 1970s).

Her default form as Snowbird is that of a beautiful near-human woman. Her eyes are white discs over solid black orbs, and her mane-like hair has an unusual implantation, with a wedge-like pattern in the front and a hairline extending down the back of her face. This body is almost as thin as Anne McKenzie’s, bellying her real strength and endurance.

Snowbird’s real form is a pitch-black humanoid with glistening white fangs, eyes of red flame and purples lines and ridges all over her skin. This is apparently her unfettered divine form, and is called her “true fires”.


Personality

Essentially an aloof, mysterious Elven princess with mystical perceptions and a regal attitude.

Though she grew up at an impossible rate and quickly came to master simple skills (such as the English language or her filing job as Anne McKenzie), Harfang is a very young person. She lacks experience, even with her own powers.

Snowbird showing a glimpse of her true face

During the late 1970s and early 1980s she was still making rookie mistakes, and occasionally experienced brief moments of fear. For instance she had never bled before Tolomaq cut her. Narya was so frightened by the experience that she had to pull herself together over the course of several seconds.

Her most common mistake was sheer overconfidence, as she kept assuming that she was more powerful than she actually is. This is presumably a result of her inexperience and not using her powers correctly yet.

Cheap the bullet

Narya is essentially a weapon. She was conceived at significant cost for but one purpose, to fight and kill the Great Beasts. Her mother becomes very cross if she strays from that. Snowbird herself as an almost animalistic hatred of the Great Beasts, which induces rash actions and poor planning when confronting these powerful opponents.

She is adamant about fighting evil. Even if it involves summarily dragging other powerful people (such as Talisman or Northstar) into battle without giving them a choice. She never had one herself.

Snowbird is a disciplined magical soldier, and her disciplinarian relatives treat her little better than an attack dog. She doesn’t have much room to relax and enjoy herself. But she obviously loves flying in the wilderness in quasi-human form, and hunting as a owl for as long as is safe.

Part-human

After the Beasts were apparently all killed, she decided that she was fed up with her duties. She wanted to have a private life, have sex and take an interest in mortal life. But at the first emergency she resumed being Snowbird.

Shaman is Snowbird’s foster father. She values and follows his advice and mentorship even though her childhood lasted but a few years.

However, she is a demi-goddess and outranks him in matters mystical. The Inua seem to have a strict pecking order, as was demonstrated when Snowbird immediately prostrated in front of Talisman. This makes for an interesting dynamic between Shaman and Snowbird.


Quotes

“O Nelvanna, my mother, grant me the power I will need in this awful place. The energies of destruction mass, your ancient enemy rises again…”

“I am as one with the North lands. This blackness touches my very soul.”

“Look past my mortal guise, Kolomaq. Look upon my true fires, and see now who it is you face.”

“There are mystic barriers here of which no White man has knowledge. If Langkowski accidentally sundered one of them…”

“Save your prayers, Michael Twoyoungmen. You may have greater need of them before this day is out.”

“I am a creature of the clouds and winds, Michael. Would you deny me [flight] ? Would you tell the otter not to swim ? The caribou not to run ?”

“Beast, thy hour is struck ! In the name of Hodiak, god of the Northern Lights, I curse thee – and I condemn thee ! DIE, BEAST !”



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Harfang

Dex: 06 Str: 10 Bod: 07 Motivation: Responsibility
Int: 05 Wil: 04 Min: 08 Occupation: File clerk, champion of the Inua
Inf: 06 Aur: 05 Spi: 12 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 017 HP: 050

Powers:
Awareness: 09, Chameleon: 01, Cold immunity: 03, Dimensional anchor: 08, Flight: 08, Magic sense: 09, Power reserve (Zoomorph): 05, Regeneration: 01, Telescopic vision: 02, Zoomorph: 25

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Awareness is restricted to mystic menaces against the Great North, and the Great Beasts. It will also pick up when a mystic invokes the name of the Great Spirit, giving Shaman a way to “page” Snowbird.
  • Chameleon allows her to change the details of her current human form, and that’s it.
  • Zoomorph is limited to beasts native to the Great North.
  • All the animals she turns into using Zoomorph will have white fur, feather, skins, etc..
  • While using Zoomorph, average Snowbird’s INT and WIL with that of the animal (rounding down). There also exists a risk of being locked in animal form – see “L‘odeur animale” below.
  • Shifting directly from one animal form to another is a 05/05 Physical Attack against her BODY. Thus, she normally resumes her human-like form then morphes again.
  • Zoomorph has a time limit – – see “L‘odeur animale” below.

Skills:
Charisma (Intimidation): 06, Detective (Police procedure): 03, Military science (Tracking): 03, Occultist: 12

Bonuses and Limitations:
Charisma (Intimidation) is Form Function and is achieved by revealing her “true fires”.

Advantages:
Expertise (Canadian First Nations mythologies, Inua lore), Immortal, Insta-change, Language (Inua language, language of the Great Beasts, and presumably a number of First Nations language, particularly those in the far North), Security Clearance (RCMP, Low).

Connections:
Shaman (High), Alpha Flight (Low).

Drawbacks:
Secret ID (early on), Fatal/Loss Vulnerability (see below), Minor Rage + MPR (see “L‘odeur animale” below), SIH of the Great Beasts, Creepy Appearance.

Rituals:

  • Mark ally. Such an ability is hypothetical, but the following two Rituals are best explained if Snowbird as the ability to mystically “tag” a person as an ally for ritualistic purposes. This presumably requires some time and components.
  • Locate ally [Casting Time: 1 Phase, No Components, Effect: Detect (Specified ally): 08 with a Special +12 Range Bonus].
  • Compel ally [Casting Time: 1 Phase, No Components, Effect: Hypnosis: 08, Limitation: Can only be used to “draft” a person into fighting the Great Beasts along with her as an obedient soldier. If she indeed marks allies, it can only be used against marked persons].
  • See the past [Casting Time: 3 APs, No Components, Effect: Postcognition: 15, Limitation: limited to visual information, cannot see beyond six hours in the past (13 APs)].
  • Mystic healing [Casting Time: 1 Phase, No Components, Effect: Damage transference: 06, Limitation: only usable once per day, Damage Transference is between her and Canadian soil – which she must be touching]. This magic spell repaired both her flesh and her costume in a blaze of energy. Since it’s both useful and seldom used, we have assumed limitations (the 1/day limit and having to stand on earth).

With glowing hearts we see thee rise, the True North strong and free !

Snowbird can exist in Quidlivun (the dimension of the Inua), in the Realm of the Great Beasts, or in Canada. Dr. Twoyoungmen bound her life force to Canada to allow her to survive on Earth.

If she crosses Canada’s borders she will go sick, weaken and start dying as she loses touch with her Canada-bound life force. Presumably, the same phenomenon might occur in other dimensions.

The weakening effect is rapid – Snowbird loses one AP in every score of hers every Phase, including BODY. Once at zero she is dying and ageing rapidly, but though she’s powerless she doesn’t die easy. She can hang on for several days on her own, more with medical and/or magical support.

Snowbird is a creature of magic. If some effect collapses the local mana level (as Loki’s Firefountain once did) she will be affected exactly as if she had left Canada.


L’odeur animale

When she shifts to an animal form, Snowbird’s mindset starts resembling that animal. Furthermore, she gradually loses her memories from her previous states. If she remains too long in animal form, she might forget who she is and mentally become just a smart animal of that species.

This limitation was much more problematic in during her early years – until roughly 1982. Back then, she had a Limitation akin to a Serious Rage, where the “Rage” was losing herself in her animal instincts, usually as a result of a fighting frenzy.

It was still possible — with an Animal Handling, Animal Friendship, Speak with Animals or other roll — to help her cool down, recover her sapience  and shift back to quasi-human forms. Fiercer animal forms (such as a wolverine) could be saddled with an arbitrarily higher Rage Number to reflect their bloodthirsty nature.

After the early 1980s the risks of such an accident are much lower (Minor “Rage”). By then, Snowbird gradually growing animalistic and forgetful is closer to a role-playing thing than a formal Limitation.

How long she can stay in animal form before it becomes problematic is fuzzy. 10-20 minutes, maybe – the loose equivalent of a Minor Physical Restriction in severity. Barring a Subplot she can collect herself and shift back to human shape before things become hairy.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: The first 28 issues of Marvel’s Alpha Flight plus flashbacks to that time or before — which is what we refer to as the “Classic” era.

Helper(s): Capita_Senyera, Chris Cottingham.

Writeup completed on the 9th of November, 2011.

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