Heroes & Villains Design Journal #3: Blue Beetle, Part I

MEET THE BEETLES

My name is Seth
Johnson, and I love the DC Universe. A lot.

If there’s one
thing I love about the DC Universe, it’s Ambush
Bug
. But if there are two things I love about the DC Universe, it’s Ambush Bug and the legacies. Ambush Bug should be self-explanatory,
but let me talk about the legacies for a minute.

Growing up reading
DC Comics, I think the first time I was ever really aware of a legacy was the
early 1980s, when the name and costume of Robin
passed from Dick Grayson to Jason Todd. Part of me remained a Dick Grayson fan and followed him on to
his adventures as Nightwing in the Teen Titans, but another part was still
a fan of Batman’s sidekick and kept
reading about Robin. Then we had to
vote about whether to kill him or not, but we can talk about that childhood
trauma another time.

In the mid-80s, I
started noticing a new character popping up during the Crisis on Infinite Earths ― the Blue
Beetle
! Eagerly, I started reading the new Blue Beetle comic… and discovered that this was not the first Blue Beetle. The first Blue Beetle had been a two-fisted hero
powered by a magic scarab, nothing like the gadgeteer acrobat I knew about.
This wasn’t just a costume being passed from one teenager to another ― this was
a more interesting legacy, where a hero carried on the mission of the one who
came before, but did it in his own way.

I’m legally barred
from talking about the backroom deals and knife-fights among M&M
writers about who got to write up Robin
for DC
Adventures
, but I can tell you I was lucky enough to write up a few of
my favorites ― including the Blue Beetles.
It was a lot of fun to try and echo their very distinctive styles and powers in
writing them up, while also being true to that very real feel of legacy.

Blue Beetle I is a PL12 character, drawing on the full
power of the mystic scarab he discovered buried beneath the African desert. Yet
his power set is reasonably straightforward:

                Chainmail: Protection 4
4
points

                Kaji Dha!: Feature 1 (Change
into costume as a free action)• 1 point

                Lightning Blast: Ranged Damage 10
20
points

                Soar Like a Beetle: Flight 6 (120 MPH) 12 points

                Strength of the Scarab: Enhanced Strength 7; Enhanced Stamina 6; Enhanced Agility 3; Enhanced Dexterity 4; Enhanced Fighting 8 56
points

Only one of his
powers has more than one effect, as the scarab charges up mild-mannered
archaeologist Dan Garrett into the
azure avenger of Hub City.

Compare those
powers to those of Blue Beetle II. Ted Kord is a PL 11 character, a power
level that represents his experience but also his lack of the mystic power that
belonged to his predecessor. Dan Garrett
gave Kord the scarab and passed on his mission with his dying breath ― but
didn’t pass on the magic words Kaji Dha!
that would activate its powers. So in becoming Blue Beetle II, Kord was forced to rely on his own natural athletic
abilities and gadgeteering genius to create the weapons he needed for his war
on crime. His main weapon, the BB Gun,
is represented as a power array that gives him a variety of handy effects:

                BB
Gun
:
Array
(16 points), Easily Removable (-8 points)

                        • Blinding Strobe: Cumulative Cone Area Affliction 8 (Resisted by Fortitude;
Impaired Sight, Disabled
Sight, Unaware), Limited–Visual Only
16
points

                        • Air Burst: Cone Area Move
Object 3, Diminished Range 3, Instant Duration, Limited Direction: Straight Away • 1 point

                        • Air Hammer: Ranged Damage 8 1 point

But
Kord packed even more features into his flying fortress, the Bug:

                The Bug: Vehicle • 68 points

                        Huge; Str 8, Speed 8
(Flight), Def 8, Tou 9; Alarm 3 (DC 30), Navigation System, Remote Control; Swimming 6 (30 MPH);
Immunity 10 (Life Support); Ranged Damage 10; Feature 1 (Skywire allows pilot to move between flying Bug and ground),
Enhanced Skill 12 (Investigation
+6, Ranged Combat: Heavy Weapons +6)

Two characters that
couldn’t be more different, right? That’s why it’s particularly cool that
during the Final Crisis, in the
tragic aftermath of Ted Kord’s
murder, young Jamie Reyes found Dan Garrett’s scarab (or was it that the
scarab found him?) and was thrust headlong into a new heroic career as Blue Beetle III.

Still young and
inexperienced, Blue Beetle III is a
PL10 character. But he’s a PL10 character packed with the potential of the
Beetles who came before him ― reflected first and foremost in how he possesses
some powers very similar to Blue Beetle I:

                Strength of the Scarab: Enhanced Strength 4; Enhanced Stamina 2; Enhanced Agility 2; Enhanced Dexterity 2; Enhanced Fighting 3 26
points

                Beetle Wings: Flight 5 (60 MPH)
10 points

                Carapace: Protection 8
8 points

                Subdermal Scarab: Feature 1 (Quick Change to armor) 1 point

Yet Jamie Reyes has discovered the truth of
the scarab ― that it is, in fact, not a mystic artifact, but actually a
creation of the alien race known as the Reach,
symbiotically bonded to the young human. In that discovery, Blue Beetle III has a power array that
has a name familiar from Blue Beetle I
Khaji Dha, not magic words but the
name of the scarab ― and in calling upon it he has a whole new range of
effects:

                Reach
Infiltrator
:
Array (16 points)

                        • Khaji Da: Senses 8 (Analytical (Normal Hearing),
Analytical (Normal Sight), Counters Illusion,
Counters Concealment (Invisibility), Danger Sense, Darkvision, Radio, Radius (Normal Sight), Tracking), Enhanced
Advantage: Assessment, Enhanced Skill 5 (Insight +5)
 16
points

                        • Dimension Shift: Dimension Travel (Bleed) 1
point

                        • Dimension Step: Concealment (total), Unreliable (may cause Blue Beetle to skip forward in time up to +8 ranks of time he intended to
stay concealed)
1 point

                        • Energy Pattern
Disruption:

Effect Nullify 10 (Energy Effects),
Randomize
1 point

                        • Rocket Booster: Flight 5, Stacks with Beetle Wings (2,000 MPH)
1
point

But in my mind, Blue Beetle III’s connections to the
past aren’t only to Dan Garrett. On
his character sheet, Jamie Reyes has
one last power array that to me echoes the days of Ted Kord charging into battle with courage and his 16-point weapons
array:

                Reach Weaponry: Array (16 points)

                        • Energy Cannon: Ranged Damage 8
16 points

                        • Arm Blades: Strength-Based Damage 3 1 point

                        • Shield: Protection 4, Impervious Toughness 12,
Distracting
1 point

As a game designer,
it’s fun to try and play out the truths of a character in their game stats, to
try and capture the essence of a hero in powers and stats. But the real truth
comes when they make their appearance in your campaign and we see if they live
up to their heroic legacy. I hope you include one of the Blue Beetles in your game, so we can see where the legacy goes in
your series. They’re some of my favorite DC heroes.

Along with Ambush Bug. Whom I also got to write up,
thanks to winning a three-way sudden death overtime chessboxing match against
Kenson and McGlothlin. But that’s another story…

 

Blue Beetle I                                              PL12

Abilities

Strength        9                  Fighting         10

Stamina          9                  Intellect       4

Agility            5                  Awareness    2

Dexterity       5                  Presence        3

Powers

Chainmail: Protection 4
4
points

Kaji
Dha!:
Feature
1 (Change into costume as a free action)• 1 point

Lightning Blast: Ranged Damage 10
20
points

Soar Like a Beetle: Flight 6 (120 MPH) 12 points

Strength of the
Scarab:
Enhanced Strength 7; Enhanced Stamina 6; Enhanced
Agility 3; Enhanced Dexterity 4; Enhanced Fighting 8
56
points

Advantages

Fast
Grab, Interpose, Languages 2, Power Attack, Takedown, Ultimate Effort
(Athletics)

Skills

Athletics
3 (+12), Close Combat: Unarmed 5 (+15), Expertise: Archaeology 4 (+8),
Perception 6 (+8), Ranged Combat: Lightning Blast 7 (+12), Vehicles 3 (+8)

Offense

Initiative
+5

Unarmed
+15                     Close, Damage 9

Lightning
Blast +12          Ranged, Damage 10

Defense

Dodge               10               Fortitude          12

Parry                 11               Toughness      13

                                                Will                     7

Power Points

Abilities          38                Skills                14

Powers             93                Defenses        14

Advantages      7                Total           166

Complications

Sacred Charge: Dan Garrett is charged by an ancient
power with eradicating evil from the Earth as Blue Beetle.

Seclusion: Garrett takes his
mission as the Blue Beetle so
seriously that he has virtually abandoned his former life.

Real
Name:

Dan Garrett

Occupation: Archaeologist,
adventurer

Base:
Hub City, IL

Personality

Dan Garrett is supremely
focused on his mission to battle evil, with room for little else in his life.
Yet he maintains a passion for archaeology, and is often drawn to museums and
archaeological digs.

Powers &
Abilities

From
the scarab that gives him his name, the Blue
Beetle
gains superhuman strength, the ability to fly, and the power to
shoot bolts of a lightning-like energy. When he says the magic words “Kaji
Dha”, Daniel Garrett is
transformed into his costume, made of a chain-mail material the protects him
from harm.

Allies

Though
he has few regular allies in his war against evil, in his civilian identity Dan Garrett he is a mentor to Ted Kord, who would carry on his legacy
as the second Blue Beetle. However,
years earlier, when the alien Apellaxians
nearly conquered the planet, the Blue
Beetle
fought alongside the Freedom
Fighters
and the newly-formed Justice
League
to defeat the invasion.

Enemies

The
Blue Beetle’s enemies are many and
bizarre, from the insane ecologist known as the Praying Mantisman and the rampaging Red Knight to the lightning-powered Mr. Thunderbolt and the robotic Mentor
the Magnificent
.

History

Archaeologist
Dan Garrett was on a dig in north
Africa when he discovered the tomb of the Pharoah
Kha-ef-re
, and with it a blue scarab lying atop the pharoah’s tomb. Picking
up the scarab, spirits taught Garrett the magic words that would unlock the
power of the scarab and charged him to battle a never-ending war on evil
beginning
with the mummy of Kha-ef-re!

After
defeating the mummy, the Blue Beetle
returned to Hub City and carried out
the spirits’ mission, with only occasional breaks to return to archaeology as a
visiting professor. While teaching at Midwestern
University
he met student Ted Kord
and travelled with him to Pago Island
in the south Atlantic
where the Blue Beetle fell in battle, but passed his mission to fight evil on
to Kord, who would battle on in his name.

Continued in the next post!


All characters, their distinctive likenesses, and related
elements are trademarks of DC Comics © 2011. All rights reserved.

Jon Leitheusser

Jon Leitheusser is the developer for the Mutants & Masterminds game. He started gaming at the age of 12, has worked in the industry at a game and comic store, two distribution companies, as a publisher (where he originally published the Dork Tower comic book), as a game designer for HeroClix, as a freelancer, and finally for Green Ronin. He's originally from Burlington, Wisconsin and now lives in Renton, Washington with his wife and a really unfriendly cat.