Capers!: Gloom the Scion
Nicky Laskaris aka. Sunbright [hero alter ego] / Gloom [villain alter ego]
Playbook: The Scion
Villain Name: Gloom (Offscreen) Hero Name: Sunbright Real Name: Nick Laskaris
Look: Slim, lanky, Mediterranean-looking young man dressed like someone in a grunge video: checkered flannel shirt with rolled up sleeves and blue jeans.
Abilities: Energy Projections Telepathy/Telekinesis
What Ability Was Denied: Wondrous Invention (access to the Akashic Network)
Assets: A Base and A Suitcase of Cash
Labels & Conditions
|Danger:||⬤||⬤||Afraid; (-2 to Directly Engage or to Cow or Rebuke)|
|Freak:||⬤||O||Angry; (-2 to Abscond or Pierce the Mask)|
|O||Doubting; (-2 to Unleash Your Powers or Exploit Weakness)|
|Superior:||⬤||⬤||Insecure; (-2 to Provoke Someone or Reject Other's Influence)|
|Menace:||⬤||⬤||Paranoid; (-2 to Distract Someone or Assess the Situation)|
|Influenced By: Mirrormask, Mockingbird|
|Holds Influence On: Mockingbird,|
Danger: 0 Freak: +1 Trouble: -1 Superior: +2 Menace: +1
Born to Lead: Born to lead:Born to lead:Born to lead:Born to lead:Born to lead:Born to lead: Born to lead:Born to lead: Born to lead:Born to lead:When you mastermind a caper, add 1 Plan to the pool. When you take charge during an action scene, ask your peers if they’re with you. Everyone that’s with you takes +1 forward. Everyone that’s with you takes +1 forward. Everyone that’s not, takes Influence over you.
Inside Man: You have insider knowledge of the superpowered community, either from the perspective of a superhero, or at the side of a diabolical archvillain. When you first hear an important name in the superpowered community (your call), roll +Superior. On a hit, say the most important detail you remember from your studies. The GM will tell you what, if anything, seems different from what you learned. On a 10+, ask the GM a follow-up question; they will answer it honestly.
Birthright You have been denied a Birthright, something that represents supremacy in some way. It might be held by a hero or a villain. All that matters is that you think it’s yours. The Birthright comes in some symbolic form, something that can be taken or stolen, though not necessarily physical. It could be magical, technological, or mundane in nature. Choose the symbol for your Birthright:
- The Brainjewel
Your predecessor is the current one who holds the Birthright. They once named you as their heir, but no longer. They expected much of you, and suppressed equally much. Which Label do they expect, and which do they repress?
- Expects: Freak
- Represses: Superior
When time passes, roll + Infamy. On a hit, your predecessor has taken note of your actions. Choose one: shift up the Label they repress and down the Label they expect, or the exact opposite shift. On a 10+, they will interfere directly very soon or make their opinions known. On a 7-9, choose one.
- They will try to manipulate you through your peers; someone involved gains Influence over you.
- They will damage your reputation; lose 1 Infamy.
- They will send your replacement; mark a condition when they appear.
You can steal you Birthright given the right circumstances. While you possess it, take +1 ongoing, except on taking a powerful blow. However, you will inevitably lose it once more, due to circumstance or your own mistakes. The only way you can take permanent possession of the Birthright is by the relevant advancement.
When you meddle in the plots of others, ask if you’re expendable or valuable to them. If they say you’re expendable, mark a condition and Curses! If they say you’re valuable, clear a condition and give them Influence over you.
When others meddle in your plots, it’s your turn to decide whether they are expendable or valuable, as everything is defined in those terms, are they not? If you decide they’re expendable, clear their Influence over you. If they’re valuable, add 1 Plan to the pool.
When you stop to gloat about your master plan, tell them to send a message back to your predecessor. Roll + Infamy. On a hit, your message will be delivered, and you can either clear a condition or shift any Label up and any Label down. On a 7-9, choose one:
- you take +1 on your next when time passes Birthright roll
- they know you care; someone tied to your Birthright takes Influence over you
- you lose the respect of someone related to you or your Birthright; you lose Influence over them
Who were you before?
"Just a kid, the next in a long line of firstborn children whose powers would make me a part of the Akashic Army, which my father led. Imagine his disappointment when my powers never showed up... and my moronic brother Alex ended up being the one to carry on the line. When they gave up on me, I found myself filled with rage... I would reclaim my rightful place... and my father's love and respect. If only..."
Who or what made you this way?
"I did. I mean, not that I knew this was how it's turn out, but... and I definitely don't blame myself for Sunburst. He's the opportunity cost, that do-gooder twit who uses the same body as me, always trying to meddle in my plans.
Who, outside your peers, thinks they can save you?
Nowadays? Almost nobody: my family thinks I don't realize they've caught onto Sunburst's secret—that he turns into me every time he collapses into sleep.
Why don't you just hide yourself away from the world?
“Why don't you stop eating and drinking water? I mean: because the world is still out there. And my rightful place in it isn't going to just come back to me without some effort."
Why do you put up with the others?
"Allies are an asset, I know: I did without any for a long time. But it's more than that: when I'm with them, I feel real... I feel seen. Even when they're mad at me, they're mad at Gloom, not weak and powerless Nicky. There's respect and even fear in their reaction, sometimes. It reminds me of why I need to fight.
I think Sunbright is the one who's Gloom's biggest rival, but I think Gloom's attitude about it shifts based on whoever's foiled him most recently. Alex pitied him and now is disgusted with him (which he thinks is hypocritical).
His father was heartbroken but didn't advocate for him, and has acted—behind the scenes—to foil him, which enrages him and looks like a weakness to Gloom... the same weakness that made his father forbid him to do anything risky in pursuit of developing his powers. Gloom resents that, and resents anything his father does to foil his plotting.
And Sunbright, well... he's always there, nosing around and screwing things up before Gloom can get the ball rolling again... but Gloom has never seen Sunbright, for obvious reasons, so it's only when Sunbright has really blown away his plans that he zeroes in on him. Sunbright thinks he knows Gloom intimately, fears Gloom, but also believes (somewhat dogmatically) that Gloom has good in him and that if—under the right conditions—the two personalities can be merged and the villainous side will evaporate, at which point he'll have the full suite of Akashic Army member powers and more, and ascend to his rightful place as leader. Sunbright has kept these beliefs to himself, though.
I think right now, it's probably Gloom's dad who's at the top of that list.
His immediate family know, but are in various stages of accepting it:
Sunbright/Gloom's mom is deeply depressed by it, to the point over-immersing herself in the Akashic Record. (Think of a relapsed substance abuser.)
Dad is in denial: he's convinced himself that Gloom isn't a different personality, but is just Nicky acting out his frustrations and rage... but he knows enough to deny Nicky/Sunbright access to the Akashic Record.
Alex knows for sure: Gloom became Sunbright in the middle of a fight with him, and he saw the transformation firsthand. Sunbright confessed that he'd dosed himself with an experimental chemical to gain powers, and Alex was horrified and basically cut him off.
Nicky's family is being cagey about letting anyone else know exactly what's going on: they want to handle it themselves, but know it's kind of getting beyond that point now, so they've communicated vaguely to their allies that harming Gloom will probably result in Nicky (or Sunbright) being harmed, and is to be avoided. Their allies have responded with varying degrees of compliance.
Nicky does nap—not much, just a few hours here and there—and doesn't need more: the chemicals that effected his transformation wildly restructured his brain. Instead of just undergoing rapid neural growth and developing the powers the rest of his family has, the heavy neural growth resulted in a kind of "repartitioning" of his brain: basically, he ended up with a lot of redundancy, a "second" version of himself that can run independently. When one is awake, the other sleeps. When the active one sleeps or goes unconscious, then the inactive one can be activated, though it's not always what happens.
He believes that if he can get both versions of himself running simultaneously and can get the personalities to integrate, then he'll not only develop the powers he sought, but also unprecedented new ones nobody's ever had before.
If the universe were a computer, the Akashic Record would be the boot drive and the contents of its hard drive. The Akashic Army performs a task that has been passed from family to family and species to species over the lifetime of the universe: maintaining the integrity of the universe's "data" against the metaphysical equivalents of bitrot and corruption and "hacking" attacks from within and without, and against impermissible degrees of apparent self-contradiction.
Of course, have command line access to the universe inside your own brain and a superuser password has certain perks, and comes with certain risks. So while maintaining the integrity of the universe, they've also maintained a fairly lavish lifestyle, and a high profile as superpowered heroes and servants of the public good. Nicky was raised believing he'd develop his powers as a teenager and join the Akashic Army's ranks... but that day never came.
Does the Army have some kind of special regalia like a crown or ring that goes to the heir apparent that Alex got instead of you? Might be worth stealing some time. I hadn't thought of any such thing, but since you're asking, I'll take it you'd like one, so here goes, and let me know if there's a problem with any of it: I think it should be harder to steal, and also harder to use. I'm thinking maybe Alex got a jewel embedded in his brain. The jewel went in the first day he manifested his powers, and was placed in his brain using psychic surgery (plus some judicious editing of the Akashic Record). At the moment, it's not active: it's still "learning Alex" and supposedly won't actually activate until their father's brainjewel deactivates.
An active brainjewel acts as a kind of "router" through which the memories of members of the Akashic Army become stored in a special part of the Akashic Record; this allows their memories to be verified, sorted automatically, and accessed with ease.
The "nodes" on this network are jewels implanted in the solar plexus of all Akashic Army members except the leader, and if someone ever ascends to leadership who wasn't (like Alex) implanted with an inactive brainjewel, the jewel in their solar plexus is removed and modified to be installed in their brains. The thoughts and experiences of al Akashic Army members are "broadcast" from the solar plexus jewels to the leader's brainjewel (where they are accessible, as a sort of multiplex stream), and then bounced directly to the Akashic Record.
The brainjewel is as much a tool that helps the leader sort through the thoughts, experiences, and memories of Akashic Army members as it is a router mediating transmission to the Akashic Record. It does this by maintaining a "clone" of the mind of the person it's implanted in, which monitors the stream and alerts the leader when something important is happening.
(Effectively the brainjewel bestows a passive, under-the-hood bicameral mind on the owner.)
Nicky, having been kept out of the Akashic Army, was never implanted with a solar plexus jewel; and since he never properly manifested powers, he never got a brainjewel the way Alex did. Every Akashic Army member can see the jewel glowing within his father's mind at a glance (but not Alex's, since it's not active yet); however, Nicky can't.
Does Gloom have a secret plan for integrating his triple personality with Evil on top? Yeah, basically.
But, note: it's just a double personality! "Nicky" got split between the two personalities and doesn't exist anymore, except as a kind of "cover identity." There is no discrete Nicky anymore, just Gloom and Sunbright.
Who among the other team members have you entrusted with your terrible secret? Is there anybody you're trying to keep it from? Laura Lentil/Spark knows. She was there when Gloom fell off a viaduct and, after he woke up, was Sunbright (doing his best at pretending to be Gloom; he's only ever seen snarky videos left behind by Gloom, so he did a clownishly bad job of it) and she caught on, which caused Sunbright to flee).
Later on, when Gloom showed up and was back to his normal self, she probed the issue with him in private till he realized what must have happened. He was going to lie, but something—maybe it was the beginnings of a crush on Laura, or maybe just frustration and panick, or perhaps it was some conscious fragment of Sunbright within his mind—made him tell her the truth.
He didn't dare try to swear her to secrecy, but asked her to keep it to herself for now, till he can sort his condition out, and has tried to avoid others finding out. Who knows what they'll do if they find out, after all?
And is there an obvious way to tell Gloom from Sunbright? From the names, I'm imaging a warm sunny aura vs. a cold blue one, but I dunno. Yeah, it's mostly about mood and personality, and of course the things they're willing to do. Sunbright is more naive, so back when this stuff started he always left response vids for Gloom and never put on a voice or exaggerated mannerisms. Since he was just being himself, Gloom had a lot of material to draw upon when imitating Sunbright, and is better at this than Sunbright is at imitating Gloom.
OOCly, if the proper circumstances come up and Gloom turns back into Sunbright, would you prefer that he become an NPC, or would you rather still play him as a hero (until your team members do something about it)? Interesting question. I kind of envisioned Sunbright mainly being an offstage character—I expect not to play him, but expect Gloom to have to deal with the fallout of whatever Sunbright does when he's in control—but I don't want to go silent for long stretches or bog things down, so...
How about this? When Gloom "sleeps," he experiences dreams that contain fragments allegorizing whatever Sunbright's doing; how he interacts with the dream contents can impact Sunbright's actions subtly (the way Gloom confessing his condition to Laura Lentil might be something that Sunbright nudged him into doing while in a similar "dream" state). I figure the dreams themselves would not be retained after waking, beyond the odd (insignificant) detail, and the character would in any case have no access to what the alter-ego is doing while in control. At best, they might wake with some remnant emotion experienced by the other during that period. (Like, if Sunbright cracked the password on Gloom's computer, Gloom would wake up feeling proud and excited, which of course would be his cue to worry and and go figure out what Sunbright's done now.)