The Compleat Villain is intended to be a supplement for playing or running villain characters in super-powered roleplaying games such as Champions, Icons, or Mutants and Masterminds. Rather than include specific rules, it will give general guidelines that can be turned into rule-specific modifiers for your favorite games.
As an introduction, here's Silverline City, one of the three locations that will be detailed in the supplement.
Table of Contents
- Silverline City
- The City Today
- Major Figures
- Mayor: Carla Suarez
- Chief of Security: Marko Kovač
- Notable Scientist: Dr. Anna Gennadievna
- Notable Engineer: Li Chen
- Criminal: Drifter
- Criminal: Lupin X
- Criminal: Crimson Chief
- Variation: Origin
- Variation: Location
- Variation: Features
- Variation: Protection
The first thing visitors see is a massive shell, like a flattened egg. The top half is open to the sky. From the air, the buildings and streets are a riot of color. The broad streets struggle to stay organized. They disintegrate into arcs and tangled capillaries in the older neighborhoods. The buildings are tall, sturdy, and technologically advanced.
Heroes and villains soar the skies, doing battle with each other. Marvels of engineering emerge from advanced laboratories. And science pirates descend into the depths of Sector Zero in search of alien booty. The city was born under a cloud of tragedy, but every cloud has a silver lining.
Two decades ago, a formidable alien race dubbed the "Zeta" invaded the Earth. We fought them on the ground, in the air, and in space. It took the sacrifice of thousands, and the efforts of our best and brightest, but we beat them back. During the war, a massive Zeta mothership crash-landed on Earth. Satellite images showed the wreckage was about 30% intact. Experts realized that 30% of a miles-wide flying saucer was still a treasure trove of alien tech.
The military went in to scour the site and keep civilians from wandering in. Scientists went in to analyze the ship and its contents. Technicians came to assist the scientists. Civic engineers came to reorganize and rebuild the ship's innards. Hot dog vendors came to keep the civic engineers fed. Barbers came to give the hot dog vendors haircuts. And so on. It didn't take long for the fallen mothership to become a functioning city.
Silverline City's population is international and exceptional. Many people around the world live with the risk of bombs or land mines. It takes something extra to live inside a giant sleeping weapon. As a result, only the best of the best live and work here. The ramen chef by the train station knows he could die, or worse, if some Zeta weapon goes off. Then again, he gets to greet world-renowned physicists by first name in the morning. The city's populace is a close-knit family, thanks to shared danger and common purpose.
The city is the source of amazing technology. This makes it a prime target for supervillains, alien bad guys, and tech thieves. In response, many superheroes have emerged to fight them. Home-grown gadgeteers, mutants created by Zeta tech, or extraterrestrial champions all live here. Because of this, Silverline City has one of the highest super populations in the world.
The city leadership includes both civilian and military elements. The city's mayor is an elected official. "Chief of security" is the title held by the highest-ranking military officer. Civilians manage most of the infrastructure, such as lights and water. The military may override them in emergencies. By mutual agreement, each side respects the boundaries of the other. A civilian police force handles most peacekeeping duties. They can call in the military if a criminal has serious hardware, such as Zeta tech or energy weapons.
The ship's hull forms a solid wall around the perimeter. A dozen gates provide ground traffic with access to the outside. The top is open to the sky, letting in both sun and rain. The ship came down at a slight angle. The city thus has a noticeable slope, like San Francisco or Seattle. Several funiculars, or cable railroads, carry cargo and passengers up or down the hills.
The city's architecture reflects its international character. North American, Asian, and European influences blend together in an attractive whole. Buildings have organic lines. They are often made from concrete, faux wood, and high-tech glass. The glass acts as solar panels as well as transparent computer displays. Twisting towers, pyramids, and convex retractable roofs soften the utilitarian squareness of older buildings. Cupolas rise above tiled or thatched roofs. Sliding doors and interior partitions allow occupants to redesign the interior to taste. People use modular shelving, cushions, and mats in place of chairs or wooden furniture. Colorful mosaics line the interior walls. White concrete is often painted by residents to give a building local character. Gardens follow in the Persian style, divided into quadrants by water and pathways.
City planners divide it into "sectors", a holdover from the days of military control. Each sector has its own character and purpose. The city has many sectors, only some of which get a description here.
The monumental super-skyscraper known as Aspire dominates Silverline's skyline. Dozens of gleaming high-tech cones surround it, each a marvel of architecture. They play host to the beating heart of commerce in the city, and form the business and downtown area.
Silverline attracts corporations with low tax rates and special incentives. The city takes a very dim view of actual pollution, industrial sabotage, and the like. Anything that poses a danger to the citizens is anathema. City leadership will otherwise bend over backwards to make captains of industry feel welcome. Every business that operates in the sector is Invested in the Future.
Millions of dollars flow through the sector daily. Early supervillains targeted this flow of wealth. The corporations responded to their attacks by rebuilding their towers. The Science Sector's innovators contributed their latest research in exchange for fresh funding. Today, buildings use advanced composites and high-tech alloys. Some can heal, and others use armored walls and interior partitions. All come equipped with shelters for civilians, evacuation routes, and other safety features. Aspire lets its clients and residents know that whatever happens, We Will Rebuild.
A modern Empire State Building, Aspire accommodates both tourists and business clients. From the observation deck at the top, visitors can see the entirety of the city. The Gladwell Tower is a crystal skyscraper, shining gold and silver in the sun. The Gladwell Corporation works to use Zeta tech for humanitarian causes and rescue efforts. The enigmatic Colossus is a windowless ziggurat owned by the secretive ARES Consortium. They work to turn the alien tech into weapons of war. Some of their creations have already appeared on the battlefield. They are also sometimes recovered from members of powerful gangs.
International curiosity outgrew military caution. The city administrators finally designated a part of the city as "friendly foreign territory". Human nations, and friendly alien races, moved in and set up shop in the new area.
Statues of fallen heroes and murals to their glory line the streets. The flags of dozens of nations fly in honor of the sacrifices of their citizens. Children of every race, creed, and color play together. The green grass of the parks is as well trimmed as the buzz-cuts of the solders who stand guard over them. The whole sector serves as a Friendly Show of Strength by humanity at large. It's a reminder: "we don't want a fight, but we can win one."
City leaders have mixed feelings about the open-door policy of the sector. A few spies and saboteurs have made it in. But it's also helped to normalize international relationships and to forge lasting alliances. The administrators are willing to turn a blind eye to quite a bit, as long as it stays confined to the sector. Alien enclaves are full of strange smells, dazzling colors, and unusual sounds. The powerful strike deals in the back rooms of restaurants. The clever exchange whispered secrets over cups of coffee. It's said that Anything Can Be Found Here, if you know where to look or who to talk to.
Visitors to the sector often go first to Remembrance Square.
It is the largest of the many war memorials. There, they read the stories
of the many heroes and villains who fell in battle against the Zeta.
Stadfelt's Diner serves lunch to hungry tourists. The owner
Many laboratories sprang up to analyze the Zeta wreckage. For safety, they stayed isolated from the rest of the population. For convenience, they clustered together. The resulting sector took on a life of its own. Today, it's key to keeping the city running. Many ultra-tech heroes have a connection to the labs, or come to them for analysis and aid.
The sector is a tangle of buildings that wind together and spiral skyward, like metal kudzu. The towers interconnect with sky bridges, funicular lifts, and elevated monorails. The boundaries between one lab and another are hard to determine. It's a Dizzying Ultra-Tech Labyrinth. Regulars in the sector understand the arrangement. Visitors may take the wrong door and wind up in the middle of a high-energy physics experiment. Strange experiments run at all hours of day or night. The result is a spectacular rainbow glow shining out over the rest of the city.
The ivory towers that ascend to the heavens aren't the only feature of the sector. Hellish underground complexes do the heavy and difficult work of manufacturing. Networks of pipes funnel raw materials from place to place. They empty out into massive forges, metal molds, and complicated robotized assembly lines. Most of the city's goods emerge from this system of human know-how and Zeta robotics. Few surface-dwellers appreciate just what that entails. "Fire, Steam, and Sweat" is the motto of the gnomic masters of the manufacturing pits.
One of the busiest companies in the sector is Templar Technologies, run by Mr. Li and Mr. Kubota. They are veteran designers of powered armor and exoskeletons. Their designs serve police, military and private security forces around the world. AURA, the Anomalous and Unusual Readings Analysis laboratory, helps scientists puzzle out high-energy physics. Many leading experts in physics, chemistry, and other sciences work or have worked there. They also receive advice from extraterrestrial experts visiting from the Embassy Sector. To actually build something, industrialists contract with the Nightsmiths. These master craftsmen never meet clients face to face. Instead, they work through intermediaries and assistants. They take specifications and build the product using their advanced robot-driven factory. Their work is flawless, alien in its perfection.
Twenty years hasn't been enough to certify the entire alien mother-ship as safe. The frontier of human habitation pushes outward and downward. Everything that remains bears the innocuous name of "Sector Zero". The military welded thick steel plates over any areas they couldn't map or didn't trust. City security keeps careful track of the known entrances with motion sensors and cameras. But there are still many unexplored tunnels and secret ways inside.
The potential rewards are enormous for the brave souls who venture into the depths of the sector. The upper levels were sensor systems, navigational aids, and weapons. Much of the ship must consist of engines, factories, and other necessities. Some of this has discovered and smuggled out. The promise of contraband ultra-science lies at the end of Miles of Eternal Darkness. Criminal gangs, enterprising explorers, and high-tech thieves all seek such prizes. They are collectively known as "science pirates".
Even these brave and desperate hunters risk much. No official maps of the sector exist. The unofficial routes are well-guarded secrets. The factions that plumb the interior of the ship often set traps for each other. City security is ever vigilant for intrusions. The military has orders to shoot on sight if they spot anyone entering or leaving. All these dangers pale compared to the worst and strangest threat. The Glitchy Alien Automata are inhuman and unpredictable. In the dark tunnels, exotic Zeta tech can do worse things than kill you.
Three factions dominate the exploration of Sector Zero. Autogang is a criminal cartel that makes extensive use of robots and powered suits. They prefer flashy, high-speed vehicles. They loot Sector Zero for wheels and weapons. They engage in street and aerial races in Silverline City when they aren't spelunking. A masked figure calling him- or herself "Lupin X" runs a gang of high-tech thieves. They specialize in high-stakes capers, using stolen Sector Zero devices as tools. They sell their services, and findings, to the highest bidder. They keep their best loot for themselves, of course. The Red Brotherhood is the most dangerous gang. They focus on weapons and defensive tools. The Brotherhood is also the only gang that spends most of its time inside the Sector. They actually occupy some of its territory, daring the military to invade and root them out. They trade with foreign governments and hostile powers. The city leadership has established bounties for information about the gangs. Many gang members also carry their own high-tech loot. Bounty hunters sometimes take such things before handing over their prizes for the reward.
The characters here are all experienced, competent individuals.
Distinctions: Civilian Leader of Silverline City; Running in the Red
Queen's Race; My Assistant Will Handle It;
Mayor Suarez began life in the city as a biochemist. She received a promotion to management thanks to her skill at administration. She can balance the conflicting needs of her team members. People trust her with the gossip and back-channel information that allows groups to work. Eight years ago, she ran for Mayor to increase the city's science budget. She didn't realize just how busy the job would keep her.
She is a short, stocky Argentinian woman with a pleasing voice and a ready smile. She operates in high gear almost all the time and prefers to delegate whenever possible. Getting time with her will be difficult, but always rewarding.
Distinctions: The Old Man of Silverline's Military; We Have Bigger Problems; Attention to Detail; Vigilantism Must Stop; Secret Alien Lover
General Kovač is a Croatian soldier from a family of soldiers. His ancestors served with honor on battlefields throughout Europe. He balances spit-shine military discipline with an understanding that rules must serve right action. He sees armed gangs, tech smugglers, and rogue supers as threats to a vulnerable city. He takes a hard line against vigilante supers, but will work with organized teams.
He is an older gentleman, with a noble bearing, a bushy gray mustache,
and beetle brows. He is in a
Distinctions: Genius Polymath of AURA; For Science!; Safety Third; No Time For Pleasantries; Always Studying
Dr. Anna Gennadievna has several doctorates, but focuses her attention on high-energy physics. She is the chief scientist of AURA, the Anomalous and Unusual Readings Analysis laboratory. She has experience with fields of ultra-science such as dimensional physics and FTL travel. Her expertise has helped take down powerful supervillains and understand mysterious phenomena.
She has a striking, unkempt appearance. In the lab, she wears her wild black hair tied back in a rough ponytail, and a white lab coat. She wears goggles everywhere, due to working near brilliant energy discharges. She loves her work, and likes to talk about it with anyone who can keep up. She otherwise has no interest in social niceties or small talk.
Distinctions: Chief Engineer of Templar Tech; Armorer to Modern Knights; Tech Snob; Compulsive Gadget Builder; I Prototyped That In My Garage
Li Chen was always fascinated by knighthood. He was a skilled inventor, but as a pacifist he refused to use his own designs to fight crime. Instead, he saw himself as the quartermaster or armorer, equipping modern knights. His suit designs kept soldiers safe as they began the first phases of exploring the Zeta ship. Police would use his later designs to deal with high-tech criminals and runaway robots.
Distinctions: Thrill Seeking Leader of Autogang; Never Fast Enough; Tech Swashbuckler; Looking For Love in Under Ten Seconds; I'll Try Anything Once
"Drifter" is the alias of a Japanese woman in charge of Autogang. Her gang includes smugglers, mercenary engineers, and adventurers. They raid Sector Zero for Zeta tech, preferring vehicles and robots. They sell what they find, or incorporate it into their own vehicles. Many of them street-race for fun, or as a way of making new connections for a sale.
Drifter drives a modified Toyota Supra with jump jets and several
Distinctions: Mysterious Leader of the Lupin Gang; Gentleman Thief; Sector Zero Spelunker; Strange Powers; The Rumors Are All True
The person known as "Lupin X" models himself or herself on the fictional burglar Arsene Lupin. They lead a gang of cat burglars, black marketeers, and adrenaline-addicted explorers. Many people have observed Lupin X using strange abilities. Some say they fell victim to a trap or energy discharge. Others think they are a cyborg infected with rogue Zeta tech.
Lupin X is a skilled strategist and heist planner. They use subtle alien tech, cunning, and psychology to mastermind their jobs. They have a quirky sense of humor, and usually keep their word once given. They are never seen without plenty of covering, and a mask or thick scarf over their face.
Distinctions: Warlord of the Red Brotherhood; Nobody Messes With Us; Superhuman Physique; Obsessed With Aliens; Smarter Than He Seems
The Crimson Chief is a title given to the current leader of the Red Brotherhood. The current Chief is a massive, muscle-bound brute of a man. He led the bravest or craziest of his gang into Sector Zero, and they now occupy it as territory. They take the biggest risks, but have reaped the richest rewards. Today, the Brotherhood sells to international arms dealers, NGOs, and mercenaries. The gang often loses members, but the promise of wealth keeps new recruits coming in.
The Crimson Chief's strength, speed, and durability all exceed
human norms. He is either a super himself, or received a
What if the origin of the city wasn't alien? Pick an option you like.
The ship is a dimensional incursion or remnant of Atlantis. Maybe it didn't come from the sky, but from another plane, a dimension of magic, or even Earth's own mystic past. The city might even be the egg of a cosmic being, now hatched, whose residual magic still makes it a gold mine of opportunity for people.
Answer the following questions: did the original inhabitants survive the transition? If so, are any of them in power in the current city? What kind of supernatural creatures, like elves, dragons or demigods, live in the city?
The ship was built by supervillains or super-scientists. Maybe it started as a vehicle for conquest, but was shot down. If the world has an emphasis on legacy, the previous generation might have defeated whoever created it, and the present generation is responsible for protecting what people have made out of it.
Answer the following questions: did the original builders have good or bad intentions? Are any of them still around? Do any of them have ties to the current generation of heroes?
Where did Silverline City crash-land? Pick an option you like.
On unoccupied terrain. This is the most optimistic version. A few rural settlements might have been wiped out, but luckily the occupants were evacuated beforehand. The landing site need not even be on land. Heroic effort, or blind luck, might have sent the mothership into open water.
Answer the following questions: What is the local geography like — is the area forested, mountainous, desert, or even a lake or sea? How do people get there — new freeways, water traffic, or even by airship?
On top of an existing city. Most people were evacuated in time,
but many couldn't be. Some or all of the old city was destroyed,
and the rest is in bad shape. Local residents are now living in Silverline,
or trying to repair their old homes and workplaces. Monuments
to the fallen will be found somewhere in town. Much of the newly
built city's architecture will be reminiscent of the old. Major place
and street names will be
Answer the following questions: What existing city was displaced? How bad was the devastation? How do the old residents feel about the new ones?
In international waters. Most versions of Silverline are found within some nation's established borders. In this case, no single nation can lay claim to it. The city's defenses are strong enough, once activated, to repel a typical marine invasion.
Answer the following questions: is the city neutral, or does it ally with some nation or group such as the U.N.? Has anyone attacked it, and how did it work out if so? Is the city floating, anchored in place (or resting on a continental shelf), or entirely underwater?
Pick any of the following options you like.
The city has a psychic field. The Zeta aliens were a telepathic hive-mind, and their technology can connect to human minds, consciously or subconsciously. The city itself may be a thinking being, or it may just occasionally 'make things happen' in response to a strong feeling or community mood.
The city can reshape itself. The former mother-ship's interior is made of a malleable "smart matter" that can respond to programming, spoken commands, or even one's thoughts. Certain streets might be hard to find, maps can be unreliable, and hidden caches and secret passages are everywhere.
The city came with alien prisoners. Earth isn't the first planet the Zeta invaded, and they may have taken captives from their earlier conquests — perhaps only a few individuals, perhaps entire communities. When the ship crash-landed, many of these beings survived. A heroic alien character might have arrived on Earth in this fashion. If there are many aliens, they may live in the Embassy Sector, work alongside humans, and be a focus for racial tension.
Supervillains, foreign armies, or invading aliens could all threaten Silverline's citizens. What happens if someone tries to attack the city? Pick an option you like.
The city has military protection. The city itself isn't any better guarded than anywhere else, but its military presence is formidable. Ultra-tech weapons, powered armor, and special training will make anyone regret starting a fight here.
The city has a defensive shield. Military planners were able to
The city can float and move itself. The ship's anti-gravity systems are functional, but risky. The city can be lifted from its impact crater and moved from place to place, gliding slowly and majestically hundreds of feet off the ground. It's not maneuverable in any sense, but it could be relocated if need be. Nearly everything and everyone in the city would be disrupted, of course. Citizens would need to take shelter, dangerous laboratory experiments would need to be shut down, and anything not tied down (vehicles, furniture, silverware, etc.) will be shaken up or knocked over by the process.
The city can actually take off and fly. The ship's anti-gravity and thrust systems are functional enough to put the ship into Earth orbit. From there, it might be possible to reach the moon or other near-Earth objects. An invasion force would need to be equally mobile to catch up.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.