Better Angels — Bloodskull and Captain Stars

Written by Greg Stolze and illustrated by Kurt Komoda, © 2013 respectively.

Bloodskull and Captain Stars are featured in the Better Angels short story, “Soul-Catcher In the Rye.” Here they are in game terms. This write-up has spoilers for the story, so read the story first.

Bloodskull the Soul-Catcher

‘Bloodskull’ is retired.  A notorious supervillain known for killing Rusty Stoebel, grievously injuring over a dozen people during a riverboat robbery, and claiming to have driven a half-dozen teens to suicide, he vanished from the scene two years ago. He was a horrid creature, looking like a monster sculpted from mucus, and known for spitting burning, flaming skulls at people.

He disappeared just about the time a burning giant (skinny and young, but giant) called “Mister Vigil” started raising hell among the criminal underworld, and given this new crime-fighter’s refusal to confirm or deny the rumor that he killed Bloodskull, most people have guessed that he did it.  Nobody suspects that they’re the same person.

Edgar Brinks is a surly teenage towhead with a bad attitude and a learning disability that didn’t get diagnosed until he was 15.  By that time he was already shoplifting, and one of the things he stole was a pen-knife at a flea market, a pen-knife with a horned devil-head carved into its wooden handle.

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That stolen pocketknife was the amulet of Malagdun the Iniquitous, self-described as an Archduke of Hell. He was the perfect tool for a bitter, rebellious loser.  Or, perhaps vice versa.

Ed tried to quit Malagdun, as described in the story “Soul Catcher in the Rye.”  In the end, he couldn’t, but he could heap the blame for a series of suicides on his ‘Bloodskull’ persona before reinventing himself as a ‘hero.’  His demon, Malagdun, seems to have a wry affection for his young host.  But that could well be a ploy to put Edgar off guard.

CUNNING 1, PATIENT 1
Greed 2, Generosity 1
Espionage 2, Knowledge 1

SLY 3, OPEN 3
Cruelty 3, Courage 1
Cowardice 3, Endurance 1

DEVIOUS 3, INSIGHTFUL 1
Corruption 2, Nurture 2
Deceit 3, Honesty 0

POWERS: Dominator Strike (Hot), Armor

ASPECTS: Giant, Flame-Wreathed

PRIMARY SINFUL STRATEGY: Sly

Captain Stars

Ryan Wouk had everything handed to him on a silver platter and it always made him nervous and uneasy.  He didn’t like having it better than everyone else.  He felt like it was only a matter of time before his fortunes reversed.  This may have been due to his Catholic upbringing and the influence of a terribly strict spinster aunt who babysat him a lot when he was a kid.

She left him her pendant of black drusy stone, which seemed like an odd choice until he held it and felt a second consciousness flow into his body.  Earnest, hard-working A+ student Ryan had become a host to an angelic consciousness. He became Captain Stars, a walking pitch-black shape with pinpoints of brilliant light shining from within. He became a superhero.

It made him miserable.

He did not enjoy the powers.  He felt obligated to rush around putting out fires and rescuing sinking boaters and intervening in domestic disputes.  Any time he found out about a injury or fatality that happened when he was asleep or in school, he felt a terrible pang of guilt, that he could have saved that person if he’d only been a little less selfish.

If only he’d been more Captain Stars and less Ryan Wouk.

Better-Angels-Captain-StarsThe worst of it was fighting with Bloodskull who, while vicious and antisocial, had a freedom that Ryan was appalled to find himself envying.  They fought a lot, and then Bloodskull brought in Multi-Beast from Portland, a woman who could change into animal forms (among other powers).  Where Bloodskull had teased and taunted him, Multi-Beast just took hostages and started killing them until he turned up and surrendered.  It was Bloodskull who told her “Hey, that’s enough!” and, when she didn’t stop what she was doing, pulled her away long enough for Captain Stars to escape.

Ryan killed himself not long after that.  The drusy pendant is buried with him.

CUNNING 0 (+MD*), PATIENT 2 (+MD*)
Greed 1, Generosity 2
Espionage 1, Knowledge 2

SLY 1 (+MD*), OPEN 3 (+MD*)
Cruelty 0, Courage 4
Cowardice 1, Endurance 2

DEVIOUS 0 (+3 weapon bonus**), INSIGHTFUL 1 (+MD*)
Corruption 0, Nurture 2
Deceit 3, Honesty 2

POWERS: Meek Endurance, Righteous Arm

ASPECTS: Wings, Halo

* These bonus Master Dice come into play only for mundane tasks in keeping with the angelic Code of Conduct, when the angel is invoked.

** This bonus applies at all times, but can become degraded if the Code of Conduct has been violated while the angel is perceptive.

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