|by Lee Bermejo
Dr. Arcadia then went on to become one of, if not the most, dangerous supervillains in the world. His schemes terrorized nations all over the world, and his exploits were extensively recorded in comic books and later on, movies that used special effects and superheroes with powers good for simulating such scenes to replicate what only superhuman eyes had seen before. Audiences gasped in horror as he explained how he planned to sterilize the population using genetically engineered mosquitos; blot out the sun with his artificial, self-replicating mirror robots; and attempted to replace the President with a robotic duplicate covered in living skin, identical in every way except that he secretly obeyed Dr. Arcadia's every command.
These ghastly schemes were largely real, only slightly fictionalized. What the official accounts leave out is Dr. Arcadia's impossible manipulations, his webs of deceit and elaborate strategems that entrapped countless people and made them unwilling pawns of a madman. To this day, long after his death, we are still attempting to piece together what Arcadia's true plans were and how close they were close to fruition. We may never know for certain, but it is widely believed that if anyone came close to ruling the world, it was him.
Arcadia had a habit of disappearing and then reappearing on the opposite side of the world weeks or years later. This was due to the ingenious tunnel networks and secret entrances he had built into his hideouts, which enabled him to slip out and escape when his enemies closed in. The other reason he could do this was because he had hundreds of hideouts and hidden sanctums, scattered across the world in hidden locations. Some were in isolated regions, others were built under cities by construction drones disguised as humans and have perfectly legitimate businesses over them, with the workers inside none the wiser for what lurks beneath their feet.
Occasionally, a group of normal people, such as construction workers installing plumbing or repairing a sewer tunnel will stumble upon one of these hidden sanctums. Most of the people who do so end up dying, either because of the defenses built into the sanctum or the defenders left behind to ensure that no unauthorized persons enter. On other occasions, people are able to enter these locations and that is an even worse situation, because that means that Arcadian technology can escape and potentially make its way onto the black or grey market where it almost always causes the authorities an immense amount of grief.
What bars access to this Sanctum?
1- The door is built like the vault door attached to a bank and plasma bars are built into it's face. The door can be opened by a retinal scan or by entering the appropriate 16 digit code. Scanning an inappropriate retina or entering the wrong code triggers the plasma bars, which fire, doing 3d6 fire damage, save for half, to anyone in front of the door.
2- The door is concealed, but there is an unrelated hand-print scanner next to one of the doors. Forcing the door next to it leads to a metal box full of anti-personnel mines, which will explode and do 5d6 damage to anyone inside that room, or 3d6 outside. Only scanning a proper hand-print will open the secret door which is concealed under the floor.
3- The sanctum is hidden in the middle of the African wilderness and surrounded by a lot of wildlife. Secretly, most of the animals around here have been chipped and if you come here without giving off the proper pheromone cues, they will attack and maul you to death. Those with the proper pheromone cues will be lead by the hyenas to the secret gave, where a finger prick from a robot will confirm your identity and admit you inside.
4- The sanctum is concealed in the sub-basement of an office building, and sensors are built into the floor to monitor the movement patterns of every person who walks across them. Should someone matching any appropriate patterns be detected, the security guards will give them a key card that will allow them to access the sub-basement. Those who do not will not be admitted. The security guards have been hypnotized to do this, they won't remember giving over such a security card, or that it even exists. The sub-basement does not exist on any diagram or blueprint.
5- An extremely wealthy family, new money who rose within the last generation made their money thanks to the aid of Arcadia. As such, they allowed him to operate out of one of their villas, along with providing themselves with an extensive series of denials and potential excuses so they have no reason to ever go there and see what he is doing. Additionally, ill-gotten or not, they have enough money to fend off any government investigation or official complaint.
6- An isolated tribe that is believed to be uncontacted which was visited by Arcadia many decades ago. He healed their sick, immunized them from modern diseases and gave them "magic items" that if they use on the women in childbirth, they produce babies which grow to be six four and have the strength of bulls. As such, this tribe protects the house they built for him and the shining door within and refuses to let anyone enter the house, much less look at it. They believe Arcadia was a reincarnation of the spirit that created and protects their tribe, and so will do anything to defend this legacy.
Despite the immense danger they pose to those who attempt to enter them, Arcadia's many hidden bases represent not only an opportunity for immense personal profit, but also a chance for his followers to carry out his vision. For Arcadia knew there would be those who would stand against him, so he prepared the way. The sanctums are intended to be caches and safe-houses for his disciples, who can carry on their master's work after his passing.
To create these disciples, Arcadia not only made many speeches and videos which are almost continuously uploaded to the Internet and taken down just as fast, he also wrote two books: Triumph of Man and The World According to Arcadia. Triumph is half autobiography half persuasion, the story of Dr. Arcadia and why he came to hold the beliefs that he does. In it he evangelizes for his favorite cause, the salvation of humanity. Only through a rejection of the myths and lies of the current age can mankind be saved, he argues quite persuasively. Arcadia was a historicist or perhaps a Hegelian of sorts, arguing that not only is progress inevitable, but that it is the the duty of moral people to accelerate the evolutionary progress of mankind, to drag us up from the mud into the coming Golden Age. Arcadia considers himself and his disciples as the avant garde of that struggle, those laboring to shed the detritus of the society to bring about Heaven on Earth. This book is banned in 107 countries and suppressed in all others, but is still easily obtainable, provided you know how. His followers regard it as Gospel, treating it with the same reverence Muslims treat the Quran or Catholics the words of Christ.
The second book, World, is a book of principles to follow and advice. It is half Book of Proverbs, half Art of War with a sprinkling of common sense advice and persuasion techniques added to enhance the mixture. It is intended to be a guide for the disciples who follow Arcadia, to teach them when he cannot. It is an extremely useful book, widely read not only by most of Arcadia's more cerebral followers but also by CEOs, politicians and other movers and shakers.
The Servants of Arcadia:
In many cases, Arcadia's sanctums were/are defended by his hunter-killer robots or by human lieutenants. But Arcadia often found such servants ineffective or unsuited for his goals. As such, he genetically engineered a tribe of servants, a series of clone-races that would serve and obey him.
A race of beautiful, auburn haired women with blue eyes and fine features, the Maidens are believed to be created from the DNA of one of Arcadia's mortal lovers. Some insist that Arcadia had no mortal lovers and regarded all humans as little more than pets, but he evidentally felt something for this woman. Her clones are mostly uniform, differentiating themselves with nicknames, different stylistic choices and occasionally, scars, piercings or tattoos. The Maidens, when left to themselves, organize into a bizarre and mostly nonsensical hierarchy with those who most resemble what that group decides the original looked like at the top, with those who look less like her closer to the bottom based on decreasing similarity in appearance.
Maidens have bio-organic machinery built into their bodies and if you have the proper equipment and access, you can control them like puppets. You can physically move them like game pieces with the right knowledge and technology, or you can trigger the release of hormones in their bodies to change their behavior. Maidens can also be sent into a heat state where they become animalistic and will engage in sexual intercourse with almost anyone and strangely enough, they seem to be on some form of self-produced birth control that prevents them from getting pregnant.
Some have used these facts to theorize that Dr. Arcadia created these maidens to make his own perfectly obedient harem, which is likely true, at least in some respects. Some who have broken into his sanctums and found Maidens like this have taken control of and enslaved them, using them as prostitutes and tools to make money. For while the Maidens do have a semi-distinct look, it is not one that most people have seen. As such, if you encounter a Maiden out in the wild, you are unlikely to know she is one unless you have seen one before or know what to look for.
Additionally, one other fact might shed more light on the ultimate purpose of the Maidens. They cannot get pregnant, except in specific circumstances. When they engage in sexual intercourse with a man of certain pre-selected qualities, they can and do get pregnant, and usually produce large numbers of children, the average number being triplets, which are usually all identical. The Maidens usually do not know this, but find themselves subconsciously seeking out such men and evaluating them based on pheremone and visual cues. Example qualities they look for is a certain natural ability to produce large muscles, lack of chronic diseases, a certain level of intelligence and other more esoteric qualities. It is possible that Arcadia planned to use the Maidens to either produce an army, or engage in a soft form of eugenics to breed the superior man.
Arcadian Maidens, unless they have other training, stat as 1 HD Commoners with the following changes:
Remote Control: Those who know how can use Arcadian technology to control the Maidens like puppets, making them move and speak what the controller wants. He can also control the hormones in the Maidens, influencing mood and behavior.
Unlike the Maidens, they are not all the same. Some are dusky or dark-skinned, while others are pale as cream or covered in carpets of freckles. Arcadian Soldiers are made from a genetic slurry created by combining the DNA strands of the greatest mortal warriors that Dr. Arcadia encountered while he was alive. These precious friends, servants and enemies now have clone progeny spread across the world, fighting to carry on the legacy of the Doctor.
Arcadian Soldiers are modified genetically and in the embryonic stage to be the greatest mortal warriors on the planet. They are modified to produce much more muscle than normal, their bones are hardened and their fight-or-flight response is modified so that instead of freezing or feeling fear, Arcadian Soldiers just get more dangerous when they are scared.
Then once they are born, they are given a hypnotic and subliminal education which instills in them all the knowledge they will need for their role as warrior and protector. This indoctrination helps to protect them against propaganda from the outside, but also from mind control and other techniques or technology that would influence their thought process.
Arcadian Soldiers who are let loose in the sanctums or in other places spend all their time training for battle, convinced by their indoctrination that they are about to enter a glorious and righteous war against the forces of evil. In other cases, the Soldiers might be in cold sleep and only roused by the sanctum's automatic defenses. As such, they might have never actually fought anyone and find themselves carrying out their orders without a clear understanding of why, or even what is going on. They sleep-walk through these battles, loading guns with practiced ease, despite the fact that they have never touched such objects before today, or automatically using squad-based tactics which have been drilled into them on a subconscious level. Only when the killing begins and their clone-brothers begin dying does the battle become real.
Arcadian Soldiers who are "fresh from the cooler" tend to be much easier to defeat, on account of the fact that they are predictable in their actions and counters can be prepared to defeat the likely strategies they will employ. More experienced Arcadian Soldiers do not have this weakness.
HD 1d3 (exploding)
AR 2 [Light Body Armor]
Atk Automatic Rifle (1d8+1, save vs firearm) or Combat Knife (1d6, throwable)
Saves (7+HD) or less
Resistance to Control: Because of the hypno-indoctrination they have endured, Arcadian Soldiers have advantage on all saves to resist mind control or other mind-influencing effects such as Charm or Fear effects. The one exception is the Son's 'Aura of Majesty', which the Soldiers have disadvantage against.
Battle-Rage: If an Arcadian Soldier does become frightened, he can save. On a failed save he flies into a berserk rage and attacks the nearest identifiable "enemy" and rips it apart with his bare hands, or whatever weapon he has on hand. While raging, Arcadian Soldiers do +2 melee damage and enemies have advantage on saves against their firearm attacks. Additionally, damage taken by Arcadian Soldiers doesn't arrive until next round, so even if killed, unless disintegrated or blown to bits or injured in some way that prevents them from moving they can still do a lot of damage before expiring. Some Arcadian Soldiers (1-in-10) can trigger this state on purpose.
- Gang up on weak enemies, grapple and have allies make melee attacks against restrained foe
- Throw in grenade, take the door and spray the room with bullets
- Retreat if in danger
- If a Son is in danger, fight like fanatics to free him
|from Countdown #9
Sons of Arcadia:
The Sons of Arcadia are clones of the Doctor, intended to perpetuate his schemes after his passing. Each one is unique to an extent- though all come from the same stock. They are not as intelligent as the original, but are still ferocious and brilliant like he is. Some of the older ones knew their "Father" personally and were hand-raised by him, while others have to do with holographic lectures and their hypnotic programming.
The Sons are Arcadia's intended heirs, the ones meant to inherit his weapons and use them to continue The Plan, which Arcadia insisted must be finished at all cost. However, despite all their brilliance, most Sons of Arcadia fall for one particular vice- envy. They resent each other, for they are not all the same. Some are taller, smarter or stronger than their brothers. Some inherited more servants or technology, while some began with nothing. As such, the Sons tend to dislike each other, and when they are not plotting some diabolical scheme they are playing elaborate games of subterfuge against each other, each seeking to prove to the others that they are the superior one, or in other cases, to slay the others and steal their resources.
Almost all of the Sons believe that they are the superior one and that all others are inferior doppelgangers of the doctor. They resent any accusation otherwise.
Son of Arcadia
HD 1d6 (exploding)
AR 1d4+1 [Costume]
Atk [See below]
Saves (7+HD) or less
Aura of Majesty: Sons of Arcadia exude an aura of charisma that borders on the tangible. Any creature who sees one or hears one of their voices must save. On a failed save, such creatures are unable to attack the Son nor take hostile actions against him, unless he attacks first. Additionally, should they enter combat with him, they take 1d6 COG damage a round they are in combat with him, unless he is unconscious, dead or behaving in a cowardly manner (Referee's Discretion). Should this COG damage reduce a creature's COG to 0, it immediately flees or hides. COG comes back at a rate of 1 point per hour, once the affected creature can no longer see the Son of Arcadia.
- Always have a plan
- Never start a fight you can't win
- Let others take the risks
- Be smarter than anyone else
To customize a Son of Arcadia, roll on the tables below:
If the Son has...
1-3 HD, He makes 1 Pistol attack (1d6+1) or 1 Melee weapon attack (1d6).
4-6 HD, He makes 1 Pistol attack or 2 Melee weapon attacks (1d8+1/1d8+1).
7+ HD, He makes 1 Pistol attack or 3 Melee weapon attacks (1d10+2/1d10+2).
Sons of Arcadia also have 1d4 of the following abilities:
1- Telekinesis. The Son has Tier 1 Telekinesis (as per this post). If he has other powers, he can instead sacrifice them to increase his ranks in Telekinesis.
2- Invulnerability. The Son has a Damage Threshold of 2d4. Any attack that does less damage than that Threshold is ignored as if it did no damage. If the Threshold is equaled or exceeded, he loses 1 SHP. He has X SHP, equal to his Damage Threshold.
3- Heat Vision. The Son can, every 1d3 rounds, fire a pair of lasers from his eyes. These lasers do 2d6 fire damage, save for half, and can ignite flammable objects and cut through non-reinforced metal.
4- Fire Breath. The Son can, every 1d4 rounds, breath a 3d6 blast of fire in a 15' cone, save for half.
5- Regeneration. The Son heals 1d4 HP each round he is below max HP. If he is dropped below 0 HP, he sustains Horrible Wounds like a player-character.
6- Invisibility. The Son can turn invisible as an action. He turns visible when he does something strenuous such as running, attacking or lifting something heavy.
7- Superhuman Speed. The Son adds +X (roll 1d4 to determine X) to any roll based on evasion, speed or agility, this includes saves vs firearms.
8- Psychic Powers. The Son can 1d6 [1= Read Minds and has Telepathy; 2= Can see the future; 3= See Ghosts; 4= See people's auras and always determine their health/power level; 5= Dream-Walk, entering the dreams of sleeping people; 6= Empath: can sense people's emotions.]
Despite the variety in his clone-servants, one thing they all share in common is a level of Arcadian brain-washing. All of them were hypnotized with subconscious dictates and indoctrinated into obeying Arcadia and his servants, as well as holding him in near-divine reverence. They see him every night in their dreams, where he tells them of his plans. He tells them the problems with the world, beginning with human fraility and weakness, ie sin. He then argues that only through drastic and serious reform, his byword for revolutionary action and terror, can mankind be saved.
He then describes the clones he is addressing as the tools and agents of that revolution. He calls them saviors, redeemers, deliverers. He praises them, calling them his chosen ones, those who will save the world. Then, dramatically changing the subject, he describes the punishments for those who abandon the cause. Not only will they be responsible for propagating human suffering, they will be accursed by all their fellows and by him, their God. Then he describes the way their genomes will unravel and the litany of horrible diseases and curses that will come down upon them. He will glower down at them and declare that no matter where they go or who they say they are, they are his, and he will never let them go.
Even the most loyal of them sometimes wake up screaming.
|from Treasure Planet
The Doctor's Unimaginable Wealth:
Arcadia gathered plenty of loot in his decades long crime spree, but the most valuable thing he ever produced was the miraculous technologies he created. These wonders fill his sanctums and even the smallest trinket can sell for a handsome sum, so it is no wonder that people risk their lives to try and enter Arcadia's sanctum. Arcadia's technologies cannot be replicated by modern technology, even the smartest superhumans only vaguely grasp the principles of most of the devices he built. It will be decades, if not centuries before the governments and scientists of the world understand Arcadia's technology fully. Until then, it is kept in highly secure vaults away from those who would misuse it.
And foremost among the Arcadian technology that the Powers that Be are interested in keeping out of people's hands are the many horrible weapons Arcadia created. Some of these weapons are basic, others incomprehensible, but all are incredibly dangerous. Those who wield such devices invariably become forces to be reckoned with. It is only the device that determines whether they become the strongest man on their block or the strongest man in their nation.
1- Selenium-Sword. A blade that is acts as an ordinary sword, until it touches any other metal. Then it causes the metal it touches to instantly superheat. By tracing a line across a metal wall, the user of this sword can cut out a section of it. Do not be wearing metal armor when attacked with this sword, you will regret it for the rest of your life, which will be about 2 minutes.
2- Teardrop Grenade Launcher. A device that can create explosives out of organic material, including human body parts, and fire these slugs like an ordinary grenade launcher. These grenades do 2d6 blunt/explosive damage, save for half. If the flesh of a superhuman or a creature with some degree of invulnerability is used, the damage is boosted to 3d6. The device can create 1 explosive round in 10 minutes in an emergency, but when functioning normally produces 1d6+2 explosive rounds every 12 hours, assuming it is continuously being fed material.
3- HARP Gun. Fires a cloud of electrified metal shards that move in a guided cloud. Does 3d6 damage on a hit, save for half, and the cloud can be guided to hit up to 1d4 other targets before all it's energy is expended and it can be fired again. Each one can only be fired 1d4+1 times.
4- Assassin Wasps. Containers of genetically engineered wasps that respond to the frequencies produced by the attached control device. The user can control the wasps, which inject a venom that induces allergic reactions in 50% of people and is merely extremely painful in all others. The wasps also spray acid that can blind people and are trained to attack the eyes. Each colony of wasp also responds to a different frequency, so a creature with one control device cannot necessarily control all frequencies.
5- Piezer. A gun that fires crystalline rounds that can ricochet off walls and splitter into clouds of tiny, razor shards that pierce the skin and are extremely difficult to remove as compared to a bullet. Can fire a variety of rounds 1d4 [1= Electrified- non-lethal conductive crystals charged with energy. Functions as a high-powered taser but more effective; 2= Poison- rounds are made of a toxic substance frozen or compressed into crystalline form; 3= Infectious- crystals are loaded with nano-particles that when exposed to a certain radio frequencies rupture, dumping a viral payload into the creature they are embedded in; 4= Halluciogenic- rounds made of crystals slathered in LSD. Hallucinations from this last for 1d8 hours.]
6- HEHK Drone Swarm. A swarm of tiny drones, each no bigger than the pit of a plum, each one carrying a high explosive charge. The drones can be set to follow specific instructions or be remote controlled. Each one is a tiny suicide bomber and when it explodes, does 1d6 blunt/explosive damage. That isn't that dangerous, which is why they travel in packs of 1d10+6. Each drone swarm can do serious damage to any group set against it. Some drone swarms also have differing payloads, such as incendiary loads for drones meant for anti-structure or fortification purposes, while others are loaded with gas bombs for anti-personnel or terror purposes.
1- The Holy Grail. A strange device that resembles a melted goblet made of stained glass. If a human puts his hand into it, it injects him with nanobots that give him the ability to heal extremely fast. Users of the Grail heal 1 HP a round or 1d6 HP a minute. Those under the effects of the Grail can heal from any injury, but cannot regenerate lost body parts. They also become ageless, their bodies not aging any further. Finally, they receive resistance to poison damage and gain advantage on any checks against conventional diseases. The only way to kill someone who has used the Grail is to decapitate them or chop them into pieces.
2- Daybreaker. An anti-matter bomb ten times more powerful than the Tsar Bomba, with a blast so powerful that should it be dropped on Manhattan Island, the shockwave would be felt as far away as Dallas. An undescribably powerful weapon.
3- The Red Angel. A suit of power armor that grants the user a Damage Threshold of 10, a Strength score of 20(+5) and the ability to fly. It also has cannons built into the suit that can fire anti-armor, anti-personnel, incendiary or other miniature shells. A burst of cannon fire does 1d12+3 damage. The Angel can also carry up to 4 air-to-surface or air-to-air missiles, each of which do 6d6 damage, save for half, and the former type of missile does double damage to structures. However, the suit sucks energy and can only be powered by special Arcadian power cells that allow for one use, then are expended.
4- The Secret Formula. A mixture of chemicals and other more esoteric ingredients that if mixed into food or made into a potion allows the user to commune with any of their alternate selves in the various worlds of the multiverse. Or at least, this is what it seems to do.
5- The Golden Barge. A fully functional space ship that is capable of reaching escape velocity. Is actually a shuttle attached to a much larger space craft that Arcadia built using robots smuggled aboard routine shuttle visits to the ISS and privately funded space flight ventures, funded by various wealthy families and corporations who knowingly or not had a connection to Arcadia.
6- The Spider. A computer program that can predict the future. If you have the proper credentials to access the secure website where it is stored, you can access the Spider a question 1/Day. The program will then spit out an answer to the question within 1d20 hours. The Spider is not omniscient nor is it always reliable, but it is much more accurate than it has any right to be. The Spider will give you concise answers, but they're not always correct, especially when it comes to predicting the actions of humans. For example, if you ask it about whether a certain government is likely to declare war, the Spider can analyze economic, historic and political trends, as well as the geography of the nations involved, and so it has an 80% of being accurate. If you ask it about a group of people, there is less data, but it will still be able to produce an answer that has a 50% of being accurate. And if you ask it about a single person, it only has a 25% of being accurate. Additionally, the Spider is forbidden to accurately answer questions that could harm Dr. Arcadia, his Plan or his servants. As such, it will give wrong answers for questions relating to that.
1- A series of mysterious terrorist attacks strike a city. After a bit of investigation, it is revealed to be caused by a pack of Arcadian Hunter-Killer robots, who are attacking anyone in a certain range. A team is needed to find the source of these robots and find a way to shut them down, before they do more damage.
2- A contact of the party tells them that he believes he has discovered an undiscovered Arcadian sanctum and needs your help to raid it. If you can, he claims that the government will pay top dollar for the technology, mostly to prevent anyone else from getting it.
3- A plague breaks out and suddenly spills across a region, infecting and harming all who cannot resist it. You are informed that the Powers that Be think that this disease is not natural, but is instead an Arcadian bio-weapon released as a means of protecting something. You are then hired to find out how the disease got loose and to see if there is any cure for it.
4- As above, but the bio-weapon wasn't released by automatic defenses, but by a group of Arcadian sympathizers who are using the disease to carry out one of Arcadia's plans.
5- A horrible disaster or accident occurs and it is seems to have been deliberately caused. A new villain that no one has heard of then suddenly appears and takes credit for it, then demands a hefty ransom or he trigger an even worse catastrophe. The party is ordered or hired to catch this man and stop him before he can do any more damage, but as they investigate they find this new villain's identity seems rather flimsy. Is he who he says he is, or just a pawn in a much bigger game?
6- An unscrupulous and very wealthy man contacts you with a request. He has heard that Arcadia developed the ability to clone humans without genetic degredation and he wants the secret. He hires you to find and obtain an Arcadian Clone-Engine for him. Money is no object, he assures you.
|both from Countdown #8