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Thread: Your Favorite Pulp/Victorian Villain

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    Default Your Favorite Pulp/Victorian Villain

    Most bad guys didn't survive more than one encounter with Doc Savage, The Spider, The Shadow, The Avenger, or even Wizard of Oz's Dorothy Gail. But a few of them were more durable and memorable and even had their own series of novels -- and later movies, radio shows and/or comic books. Cthulhu by Gaslight gives us write-ups and stats for the ever-insidious Dr. Fu Manchu, Professor Moriarty and Lord Varney the Vampire. Some other contenders for Worst Pulp Villain might include:

    Fantomas -- French master villain and master of disguise. He had multiple visages and secret identities in various portions of society, the better to keep tabs on his many schemes and potential victims. Only his aristocratic mistress knew his true face, and she was terrified as well as enamored by him. Fantomas specialized in extortion and blackmail, meting out weird dooms to those who didn't pay up. In his Fantomas guise, he appeared to be a tall man in a black top hat, cloak, and domino mask.

    The Grand Vampire -- From the same nation and era, the Grand Vampire organized and oversaw the outrages committed by the French gang "The Vampires," who performed their crimes with military precision and fiendish ingenuity. The Grand Vampire was aided by five or six lieutenants, each a specialist in a particular area of crime. Robbery, kidnapping, swindles -- no scheme was too low or too small as long as it was profitable. When the original Grand Vampire was killed, he was promptly replaced by another crook of similar intelligence and cleverness.

    Dr. Antonio Nikola -- Mad scientist with an occult bend, Nikola's goal was to live forever. He was totally amoral and ruthless in his quest. A small dark-haired man with hypnotic eyes, impeccable suit, and baleful black cat always perched on his shoulder, Nikola was a sort of Caucasian Fu Manchu (although he came first).

    Count Fosco -- Con man, former agent for an outlawed Italian political faction, master chemist, and hypnotist, Fosco was charming, outrageously fat, and a seemingly a comical figure until one realized how dangerous and unscrupulous he was. Not a real member of the aristocracy, he aided an English nobleman attempting to seize his fiancee's fortune, and succeeded in having the poor girl committed to an asylum while replacing her with a look-alike.

    Anyone else have a favorite villain? I'll skip a poll this time since there are so many bad guys to chose among.

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    Ming the Merciless
    "Mind like parachute, function only when open."
    (Charlie Chan)

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    That is a great list...I like the ideas. As I am not a connoisseur of pulp/Victorian stories, I can offer no additional personalities, but I do like this...

    -STS

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    Quote Originally Posted by sladethesniper View Post
    That is a great list...I like the ideas. As I am not a connoisseur of pulp/Victorian stories, I can offer no additional personalities, but I do like this...

    -STS
    Dr. Fu Manchu, Fantomas, and the Grand Vampire (movie serial Les Vampires) are all circa 1911. Dr. Nikola, Professor Moriarty and Varney the Vampire are from the 1890s. Count Fosco is from the 1850s (Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White). Fu Manchu, Fantomas and Nikola each had a series of novels about them, the first two with movie and radio serials and films to follow. The great thing about classic villains is that, like Dracula and the Frankenstein monster in the movies and Doctor Doom and Lex Luthor in the comics, they keep coming back after repeated "deaths" -- even after their original opponents aren't around. Dr. Fu Manchu's career in prose continued into the 1950s and in the comics into the 1980s. Dr. Nikola made cameos in Sherlock Holmes pastiche anthologies and Doc Savage comics.

    Dr. Mabuse -- A German arch-criminal, Mabuse combined elements of Fantomas and Fu Manchu. He was a master of disguise, a telepathic hypnotist, but above all, a master manipulator. He operated from behind the scenes, carrying out his complex schemes with the aid of an army of lesser crooks, dupes, blackmail victims, and hypnotized subjects who didn't realize they were doing his bidding. His hideout was the lunatic asylum in which he was incarcerated. Debuting in the popular novel Dr. Mabuse the Gambler (1921), the evil one continued his career on film rather than in print, appearing in 1922, 1933, six movies between 1960 and '63, 1972, 1990, 2013, and with another coming next year. Each time he was killed or confined, another "Doctor Mabuse" arose with a different physical appearance but with the same intelligence, methods, and powers.

    Ming the Merciless (Flash Gordon, 1934) began as sort of Fu Manchu in space but quickly developed a personality and style of his own depicted in films by Charles Middleton (and much later, by Max von Sydow). Although he declared himself Emperor, Ming's control of the wandering planet Mongo was never complete. There was always another exotic kingdom around the corner or beneath one's feet with a ruler willing to ally with Flash Gordon once the irrepressible Earthman had won his or her respect. And even his subjugated vassals had certain rights under Mongo's high-tech feudal system. Ming maintained his power with his armada of space battleships and with a well-funded corps of unscrupulous inventors always ready to present him with another gadget, weapon, or drug.

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    Quote Originally Posted by seneschal View Post

    Dr. Antonio Nikola -- Mad scientist with an occult bend, Nikola's goal was to live forever. He was totally amoral and ruthless in his quest. A small dark-haired man with hypnotic eyes, impeccable suit, and baleful black cat always perched on his shoulder, Nikola was a sort of Caucasian Fu Manchu (although he came first).


    "Totally amoral"? I say sir he was, at times a real bounder but, sir, he had a soft spot under that amoral appearance. "He is charming and genial in person, with obviously great intelligence, and despite his world-conquering aims (his exact goals are never clearly defined, and his goal at the end of his first book is to get the token of a medieval Chinese executioner--a small black walking stick. With this he plans to rule the world. Somehow) is relatively reluctant to kill, sparing Hatteras a number of times. When he kidnaps Hatteras' fiancée he acts as a perfect gentleman towards her, and at the end of the first novel, when Hatteras marries his simpering, milquetoasty bride, Nikola sends them a collet of diamonds with a note reading "With heartiest congratulations and best wishes to Lady Hatteras, in memory of an unfortunate detention and a voyage to the Southern Seas, From her sincere admirer, Dr. Nikola." http://www.reocities.com/jessnevins/vicd.html
    Last edited by Conrad; December 8th, 2013 at 16:14.
    http://www.basicrps.com/core/BRP_quick_start.pdf A sense of humour and an imagination go a long way in roleplaying.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Conrad View Post
    "Totally amoral"? I say sir he was, at times a real bounder but, sir, he had a soft spot under that amoral appearance. "He is charming and genial in person, with obviously great intelligence, and despite his world-conquering aims (his exact goals are never clearly defined, and his goal at the end of his first book is to get the token of a medieval Chinese executioner--a small black walking stick. With this he plans to rule the world. Somehow) is relatively reluctant to kill, sparing Hatteras a number of times. When he kidnaps Hatteras' fiancée he acts as a perfect gentleman towards her, and at the end of the first novel, when Hatteras marries his simpering, milquetoasty bride, Nikola sends them a collet of diamonds with a note reading "With heartiest congratulations and best wishes to Lady Hatteras, in memory of an unfortunate detention and a voyage to the Southern Seas, From her sincere admirer, Dr. Nikola." http://www.reocities.com/jessnevins/vicd.html
    Dr. Fu Manchu likewise sent an expensive gift and congratulations when Dr. Petrie (sidekick to foe Nayland Smith) married Karamaneh, Fu Manchu's former slave and agent. At the same time, he sent an indication to Smith that he'd swapped the fake archeological artifact that the policeman had tried to pawn off on him for the real thing, foiling Smith's novel-length attempt to foil him. You ain't been gotcha'd until you've been gotcha'd by Mister Insidious Himself.

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    I liked the Dragon Lady in Terry and the Pirates.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrywith1e View Post
    I liked the Dragon Lady in Terry and the Pirates.
    Va-voom! When the newspaper strip began in the 1930s, Dragon Lady attempted to seduce Pat Ryan, Terry's adult protector. In the late '40s or early '50s -- when Terry was now old enough to serve in the U.S. Army at the close of World War II -- she went after Terry himself.

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    We've discussed him in the Superworld thread, but he kinda belongs here:

    Dr. Mabuse

    Source: Dr. Mabuse: the Gambler (1922)

    Quote: “I want to become a giant – a titan, churning up laws and gods like withered leaves!”

    In 1922, German police were baffled by a string of mysterious crimes. First, the theft and mysterious reappearance of Dutch coffee contracts threw the national stock exchange into chaos, costing investors a fortune. Next, a string of wealthy Berliners were humiliated and impoverished while gambling at public and private clubs – either by losing catastrophically after amazing runs of luck or by being exposed as cheaters despite their previous sterling reputations. Based on similarities among the various cases, Chief Inspector Norbert von Wenck became persuaded that a single mystery man was behind them all.

    A respected psychiatrist and medical lecturer by day, Dr. Mabuse is a ruthless master criminal by night, manipulating and ruining the lives of others for his amusement and profit. He enjoys the loot, of course, but he thrills at the feeling of power he gets from using people as his puppets. Mabuse commits his outrages with the aid of a quintet of colorful henchmen, each of whom possesses illicit skills useful to his enterprises. His minions are fanatically loyal to him despite the fact that he’d cheerfully sacrifice them to save his own skin. This is partially out of fear; associates who are arrested and/or incarcerated tend to meet grisly ends even while surrounded by guards and cops. Their fellow agents do the bloodletting; Mabuse, the brains, stays safely in the background.

    His knowledge of human psychology and normal powers of persuasion are augmented by Dr. Mabuse’s formidable hypnotic abilities. He can control the perceptions and actions of others from a distance after making only fleeting personal contact. Eye contact and extended trance sessions aren’t necessary. The doctor is also a master of disguise and an accomplished actor, able to slide in and out of multiple identities. On of those identities is Sador Weltmann, a popular Berlin vaudeville hypnotist. The stage performances don’t earn him as much money as his fraud schemes, but Mabuse can’t pass up the opportunity to mesmerize a mass audience on a regular basis.

    Dr. Mabuse is a tall, thickset man in his forties. He has a fleshy oval face, an unruly shock of white-blonde hair, and large pale eyes. He’s able to make himself look older or younger or shorter, as his role demands. When not in disguise he tends to wear a dark suit, fur-lined overcoat, and top hat. He puts on an air of professional concern, but his general cynicism tends to come out during any extended conversation. Mabuse is utterly unconcerned with the feelings or well-being of others. He’s short with his goons and takes their obedience and successful performance for granted. He’s cold and calculating most of the time, but throws a tantrum if his expectations aren’t met.

    Though physically powerful, Dr. Mabuse will attack player-characters only if cornered without means of escape. If they inconvenience him, he’s much more likely to attempt to mentally force adventurers to do themselves harm or to send his goons after them. If his schemes start to unravel, he’ll try to pack up and leave town rather than confront the heroes or the authorities.

    STR 16
    CON 12
    SIZ 14
    INT 16
    POW 21
    DEX 11
    APP 11
    Move: 10
    Hit Points: 13
    Damage Bonus: +1D4
    Armor: None

    Attacks: Brawl 25%, 1D3+DB; Grapple 25%, 1D3+DB; Knife 25%, 1D4+DB; Pistol 20%, 1D6

    Skills: Command 43%, Disguise 48%, Fast Talk 43%, Gaming 52%, Hide 41%, Insight 45%, Perform (Acting) 43%, Persuade 64%, Research 56%, Science (Psychology) 48%, Stealth 41%, Strategy 39%

    Powers:

    Super Characteristic – +5 POW (15)

    Super Skill – +40% each to Mind Control, Persuade, Telepathy (12)

    Extra Energy – +100 power points (10)

    Psychic Abilities: Mind Control 61%, Telepathy 61%

    Failings: Sociopath (+3), Hunted by Berlin police (+2)

    Notes: Dr. Mabuse had 32 power points based on double his highest unmodified characteristic plus 5 more for Failings, total 37. He had 250 skill points plus160 personal skill points based on INT, total 410.

    At first, Mabuse doesn't seem that tough for a supervillain. A behind-the-scenes kinda guy, his combat skills are so-so. On the other hand, his likely opponents will be normal folks without much defense against his mental abilities -- Call of Cthulhu style investigators or Amazing Adventures heroes. Since the BGB doesn't detail mental super powers, he might even be able to give some superheroes a hard time.
    Last edited by seneschal; 4 Weeks Ago at 02:35. Reason: Add comment

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    I've just been reading the LoEG Nemo: The Roses of Berlin, where the good Herr Doktor makes an appearance. Reading your stats for the character scares me. Played properly by a GM, this character could be the downfall of many a pulp PC!
    http://www.basicrps.com/core/BRP_quick_start.pdf A sense of humour and an imagination go a long way in roleplaying.

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