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Swordfish (DC Comics)

Swordfish


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

Context

Swordfish is an obscure DC Comics character. He appeared in just one 1984 storyline, in World’s Finest Comics. The 44-year-old title wasn’t in the best of health, and would be cancelled some months later.


Background

  • Real Name: Unrevealed.
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed, presumed single.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: Partner of Barracuda.
  • Base Of Operations: The Spanish Main.
  • Height: 6’ (in both forms). Weight: 175lbs (in both forms). Age: Late 20’s – Early 30’s.
  • Eyes: Silver (as Swordfish), Blue (as Alter Ego). Hair: Black (as Swordfish), Blond (as Alter Ego).


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Powers and Abilities

In his super-powered form, Swordfish possesses powers “of flight and mastery of the sword.” He is agile, strong, and tough, although not super humanly so.

Swordfish’s non-powered form is seen only briefly in flashback. But there’s every indication that he possesses some ability with a sword as well as appropriate Skills for his pirate existence.

X’ult’s Tattoo

Swordfish, Barracuda, Null, and Void all bear on their palms the strange symbol that X’ult wears on his chest.

When any of these symbols contacts another, the bearers (with the exception of X’ult who always retains his powers) transform into their super-powered forms. This transformation expires after 10 minutes. It can be reset by once more bringing the symbols into contact before the time limit has expired.


History

Centuries ago during the age of piracy, an alien craft landed on the Caribbean island of Haiti. Or Costa Rica — see below. Among the crew of extraterrestrial explorers was X’ult, an aide to the second in command. X’ult was consumed by the desire to conquer. When the craft left Earth after its survey, the alien hid in the jungles of the island.

To survive, X’ult arranged for one of the crew’s environmental adapters to be ejected from the ship when it took off. But the adapter was damaged on its decent to Earth, its metallic skin melting into slag. By the time the machine reached the island it looked like nothing so much as a large stone.

One detail did survive, however; a strange symbol on one of the “stone’s” faces.


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Arrrr

Not long after, pirates attacked a ship carrying Swordfish’s unnamed alter ego. The hero-to-be was spared the grisly fate of the rest of the passengers and crew. That was because the pirate captain believed he might “fetch a fine ransom”. The unnamed man knew that once his ransom arrived he would be killed.

Among the pirate crew, however, was a young woman by the name of Abigail Kent. She took pity on the man. The pair fled the pirate ship and swam through the night until they arrived on the island of Costa Rica.

Almost immediately the two were set upon by natives of the island. These forced them to submit to a weird ritual that ended with their palms being branded by a strange stone. Unknown to either the unnamed man or Abigail, this stone was X’ult’s damaged environmental adapter.

Certain that they were both going to be killed, the unnamed man kissed Abigail who rewarded him by trying to slap his face. The man grabbed her hand and as their palms met they were transformed into Swordfish and Barracuda.

(In Null and Void’s origin story (World’s Finest Comics #304) the power-bestowing stone was found on Haiti. How it traveled between Costa Rica and Haiti is unrevealed. It may be simply an editing gaff).

Exulting in power

Using their newfound powers, Swordfish and Barracuda escaped the natives. They became the scourge of pirates across the Caribbean.

They soon came into conflict with X’ult who had used his time control powers to become a master pirate. X’ult froze time around the pair before they could touch palms and activate their powers. But the master pirate underestimated his own time-congealing powers and succeeded in entrapping himself in his own time field.

The weight of the time field (!?!) sent the ship on which the trio battled to the bottom of the sea.

No time like the present

Centuries later, the three figures resurfaced. Swordfish was freed from his time prison by The Batman and the newly reformed criminal Null, who had received his powers in much the same manner as Swordfish. Unfortunately, Null’s still villainous partner Void released X’ult, as well.

X’ult, in turn, freed Barracuda and placed Swordfish’s beautiful partner under his control. Swordfish, Null, Superman, and The Batman battled X’ult, Void, and the mind-controlled Barracuda. Barracuda attacked Swordfish and nearly killed him before he managed to break X’ult’s control over her.

In the end, Superman used his powers of superspeed time travel to destroy X’ult’s solid-time pirate ship. This sent Swordfish, Barracuda, and X’ult back to their proper era.


Description

While in his super-powered form, Swordfish wears a thin tabard-like tunic of black and white. It leaves his arms and most of his chest bare. He wears black leggings and dark red (in some panels they appear almost black) flared gloves. His high collared cape is white with a red lining and is fastened across his chest with a strap bearing an “S” symbol.

He has white buccaneer boots (naturally), a red cloth mask that trails long ties behind, and a thick, red sash about his waist. His boots, tunic, and cape are trimmed in red. He wears a scabbard on his right side.

His short hair is jet black. His skin is either Caucasian, silver, or chalk white depending on which issue of World’s Finest Comics you consult. The Caucasian skin tone, at least, appears to be a colorist’s error.

Alter ego

In his non-powered form, Swordfish is a Caucasian man with short blond hair who wears a pale purple vest over an orange / goldenrod colored pirate shirt. His breeches are blue, his socks white, and his buckled shoes are brown.

Upon his head he wears a red sash that matches a similar sash about his waist. He wears a black leather glove on his left hand and his scabbard and sword hangs on his right side.


Personality

Swordfish behaves just as one might expect an heroic buccaneer to behave. He is dashing and brave and quite the rogue. His threats, in particular, are quite colorful, peppered as they are with “authentic” pirate expressions.

Though clearly a good man dedicated to the cause of justice, his overriding passions seem to be a love of Barracuda and a desire for adventure.


Quotes

“You ask me who I am, matey ? Every mother’s son on the Spanish Main knows and fears me ! They call me Swordfish and my blade will show you why, if you don’t tell me what you’ve done with the Barracuda !”


DC Universe History

Swordfish and his adventures can easily have taken place in the post-Crisis DC Universe. In fact, the DCU age of piracy and Swordfish and Barracuda’s ongoing battle against the alien turned master pirate X’ult would make an interesting destination for a group of time-lost PCs.

Alternately, a post-Crisis Superman, lacking his pre-Crisis counterpart’s ability to reach time-shattering speeds, may have been unable to return Swordfish, Barracuda, and X’ult to their proper time. The Swordfish and Barracuda, stranded in the current DCU, might make an interesting and unexpected pair of NPCs to introduce in an adventure at sea.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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Swordfish

Dex: 07 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Thrill of Adventure
Int: 04 Wil: 05 Min: 05 Occupation: Buccaneer
Inf: 05 Aur: 05 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 018 HP: 040

Powers:
Flight: 08

Skills:
Acrobatics: 05, Charisma: 06, Thief (Stealth): 05, Weaponry (Melee): 11

Bonuses and Limitations:
Weaponry is a Powered Skill.

Advantages:
Insta-Change, Lightning Reflexes.

Connections:
Barracuda (High).

Drawbacks:
Alter Ego (Partially Controllable; See X’ult’s Tattoo section), Exile (Involuntary, from the age of piracy; during team-up with Superman and Batman only).

Equipment:
Basket hilt cutlass [BODY 05, Enhance (EV): 02 (cap is 06), Descriptor: Slashing, blunt].


Design notes

There are three iffy areas on this one.

First, as always, heights and weights are best guesses.

Second, the issues of World’s Finest Comics that feature Swordfish and his partner Barracuda suffer from having alternating art teams with wildly different styles. It is thus difficult to determine what Swordfish is supposed to look like. It is quite possible that he and his partner warrant the Distinct Appearance Drawback.

However, as with Null and Void, I have omitted it because none of the normal humans who Swordfish encounters react accordingly.

Finally, Swordfish’s unnamed Alter Ego appears in only a handful of panels. The stats I have assigned to him are almost pure conjecture.


Unnamed Alter Ego

Dex: 03 Str: 03 Bod: 04
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 04
Inf: 03 Aur: 03 Spi: 03
Init: 010 HP: 025

Skills:
Thief (Stealth): 03, Vehicles (Sea): 03, Weaponry (Melee): 03

Advantages:
Insta-Change, Iron Nerves.

Note:
During Swordfish’s recounting of his origin story he makes mention of the fact that he was spared death because a pirate captain felt he would “fetch a fine ransom.” This could indicate that his Alter Ego possesses the Rich Family / Friends Advantage, Connections to some powerful individuals or institutions of his time, or a high Wealth rating himself.

Considering Superman’s musings over whether Abigail (Barracuda) Kent might be an ancestor of his adoptive family, it might be fun, if a bit predictable, to make Swordfish a Wayne. The Wayne family has seemingly always been both wealthy and important, and the pirate captain might have recognized Swordfish as a member of that line.


The chain

During their encounter with the World’s Finest team, Batman used his own body as a conduit for the transformation when Null and Swordfish could not quite reach each other. If any character attempts this conduit maneuver they are jolted by an immense release of power.

Treat this as a Bashing Combat Physical Attack with an AV / EV of 7 / 7 and an OV / RV of the conduit character’s Bod / Bod. The Attack appears to be energy-based and it is up to the GM’s discretion whether Energy Absorption might be used to avoid this damage.


By Vincent P. Bartilucci.

Source of Character: World’s Finest Comics #’s 304-307 published by DC Comics.

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