Written by Dennis Detwiller and illustrated by Todd Shearer, © 2007.
The Odd Squad is a group of four strange superhumans that emerged in the decades following World War II, when Talents emerged who were not limited by the seeming laws that had governed wartime superpowers during the era of GODLIKE. The Odd Squad wreak havoc in the postwar timeline of Wild Talents.
Name: Red Scare AKA Mister X
Weight: 190 lbs.
APPEARANCE: The Red Scare is a nondescript man with deep-set eyes and dark, thinning hair. First appearing the early 1950s, the Red Scare has not aged normally. After more than 50 years in the public eye, his hair has only recently gone gray. Most believe another power besides his telepathy is at work.
KNOWN SUPERHUMAN ABILITIES: The Red Scare was the first Wild Talent to read minds. He could “read” memories, thoughts and feelings from dozens of targets at once, and had the ability to even “transfer” those concepts to a third party. He also had the ability to rewrite the memories of targets, though few knew it; that power was so insidious no one detected it until the 1960s.
The main problem with the Red Scare’s powers was that he was easily influenced by the strength of the ideas he “read”. The stronger the feelings, the more his own personality was “dampened” and changed. The effect of “reading” Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1951, for example, has remained with Red Scare now for 50 years, only slowly lessening over time.
HISTORY: No one knows who the Red Scare really is, not even the Red Scare himself. As far as he can recall his power has always been at work, but he remembers only back to the early 1950s and McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee, where his powers came to light. He became the star of the proceedings, startling people with his ability to read minds, something never before seen in Talents. He was McCarthy’s secret weapon, and the Senator jealously guarded him from military interests and corporate offers. Unconsciously, the Red Scare had been swept in by McCarthy’s derangement, and found himself viciously “exposing” those with even the most marginal exposure to “communist influence”.
As HUAC collapsed following the exposure of McCarthy’s various extramarital affairs, the Red Scare was “taken into protective custody” by the American military. He vanished from the public eye and was interred under the watchful eye of two Army Wild Talents known to be immune to his abilities. For 11 years, the Red Scare was used as an agent of interrogation by the military, and because of his “anonymous” status—his lack of identity—he was continuously denied due process of law.
By 1962, the Red Scare began to degenerate. His power seemed to lose its influence on others, and then it vanished altogether. In 1966, as part of Project JUNG, he was moved to Gafton Air Force Base along with Old Glory, S.A.M. and IAM as part of a military experiment to “cure” deranged Talents.
The experiment was a wild success, but not in the way the military had hoped. The group of Wild Talents escaped, and soon became the most popular subversive superhuman group in the United States.
The Red Scare was the first publicly known telepath, and for a short while it seemed every world government was searching for Wild Talents with the capability. It soon became apparent that telepathy was, at best, imperfect. The telepath’s thoughts, memories, ideas and opinions often affected the reading, and not all information recovered from unwilling targets could be trusted. In short, it was as subjective and unique as the telepath’s own perception, and many, many telepaths suffered from mental problems.
Despite several attempts to introduce telepathy into the American legal system, the case Fuller vs. Wisconsin brought the concept to the Supreme Court in 1967, which overturned the use of telepathy in legal proceedings altogether. The tool was deemed too “uncertain”—the equivalent of super-powered hearsay—and from that point on was consistently thrown out based on that precedent.
This did not stop the world militaries from employing telepathy on a large scale. Both the American armed forces and Soviet army and air force employ mind-reading, remote viewing and other mental powers to direct attacks, predict first-strikes and more. These uses, of course, are classified and are not known to the general public.
Sensationalistic rumors have persisted since the birth of telepathy that certain famous individuals were “controlled” by powerful, hidden telepaths (the claims implicated that the individuals included Stalin, Douglas MacArthur and others). During the late 1960s a series of shocking sex crimes in Kansas City were linked to a known telepath, who was later convicted. This brought with it a wave of anti-telepath sentiment.
Known telepaths have suffered as the average individual is both fearful and quick to assume the worst about any known telepath. By the 1970s, odd discrepancies in normal power distributions among reported Wild Talents were noticed by the U.S. Department of the Army. These numbers indicate that many telepaths have simply chosen to conceal their powers altogether, to avoid the stigma which comes with them.
The Red Scare (‘The Odd Squad,’ circa 1969)
Point Total: 500 Points
Archetype (15 pts): Human+
Stats (103 pts)
Body 2d (10 pts)
Coordination 2d (10 pts)
Sense 2d (10 pts)
Mind 2d (10 pts)
Charm 2d + 3d hyperstat (22 pts)
Command 2d + 3d hyperstat (22 pts)
Base Will 16 (18 pts)
Willpower 17 (1 pt)
Motivations: Loyalty to the Odd Squad (8); Passion for Anti-Communism (8).
Skills (50 pts)
Knowledge (Chemistry) 2d (4d), Knowlege (Electronics) 2d (4d), Knowledge (Forgery) 1d, Language (Dutch) 2d, Language (French) 2d, Language (German) 2d, Language (Russian) 3d, Language (Chinese) 2d, Language (Japanese) 2d, Perception 2d (4d), Persuasion 3d (8d), Stability 2d (7d).
Superpowers (332 pts)
Telepathy 4d+2wd (A D U; 18 per die; 216 pts)
Attacks (psychosomatic shock) Extras and Flaws: Go First +2, Non-Physical +2. Capacities: Range.
Defends (sense threats and avoid them) Extras and Flaws: Go First +2. Capacities: Self.
Useful (read minds) Extras and Flaws: Controlled Effect +1, Go First +2, Interference +3, Personality Displacement –3, Radius +2, Subtle +1. Capacities: Range.
Effect: See page 156 for Telepathy’s effects. The Red Scare also has Radius and Controlled Effect, so he can choose which minds to read within a 10-yard radius, and Interference, which allows him to disrupt others’ actions in the same radius.
Personality Displacement is a Flaw based on “Loopy.” Each time the Red Scare succeeds at using his Telepathy to read a target’s mind, he must make a Stability roll. If he fails, he becomes that target mentally until the end of the current scene or situation (see Duration, page 124). During this time, he is effectively out of commission. He cannot attack, use his powers, or even share useful information; he’s a babbling mess. After the Flaw wears off, he must make another Stability check. If that one also fails, he must change a number of points of one of his motivations to one of his target’s motivations. The amount that changes is equal to the width of the Telepathy roll, the GM chooses which motivations are involved, and the effect is permanent.
Perceive Humans 5d (U; 2 per die; 10 pts)
Useful Extras and Flaws: None. Capacities: Range.
Effect: The Red Scare can sense the presence of other human beings at a range of 160 yards.
Dead Ringer 1d+1wd (U; 6 per die; 30 pts)
Useful Extras and Flaws: Duration +2, If/Then (Variable Effect is limited to changing shapes) –1, No Physical Change –1, Variable Effect +4. Capacities: Self.
Effect: The Red Scare can take on the appearance of anyone he wishes. This is a telepathic effect, so it does not actually change his physical appearance or his size; a photograph would show him as he really is.