The Roustabouts

While the Great War raged, the eminent fighter against supernatural evil, Doctor Silence, found himself locked in a struggle with a nascent demon lord. Their battleground was a circus, and in the ensuing struggle a fire was lit. While Silence managed to send the demon back to Hell, he had occasion to witness three of the circus performers save many people from the inferno. These people exhibited extraordinary powers, and as a result were soon ostracized from their former companions in the circus, despite their heroism. The Doctor gathered these three and made them the core of a team of extraordinary people that could work for the good of all. They are known as the Roustabouts.

ELASTO (Marcus DuPres, Sideshow Freak)
Born in New Orleans, Marcus learned early on of his strange gifts and hid them from the world. A gangly man with only a mediocre intellect and education, he wound up working in a sideshow as a rubber man, and it was in this job that he met Doctor Silence. Marcus isn’t sure he wants to help normal folks, but he has a crush on Hot Toddy, who is quite taken with the idea of being a hero.

Adventurer Level 8 (10,000 XP)
STR 2 | DEX 16 | CON 4 | INT 2 | WIL 4 | CHA 4
HP 38 | DC 19| ATK +6 melee, +11 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Elasticity (4,000 XP), Invulnerability (1,000 XP), Super Dexterity (10,000 XP)

MINERVA (Candace Green, Strongwoman)
Minerva was one of the three original Roustabouts, a circus strong woman who could lift nearly anything short of a full-sized bull elephant. She has a sweet and amorous demeanor, but a terrible temper when riled.

Adventurer Level 10 (15,000 XP)
STR 16 | DEX 5 | CON 5 | INT 1 | WIL 3 | CHA 4
HP 57 | DC 11 | ATK +13 melee, +9 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Super Strength (10,000 XP)

HOT TODDY (Delores Webb, Dancer)
The third of the original Roustabouts, Hot Toddy was a dancing girl employed in the sideshow who did some interesting things with fire. In fact, she can control flames and even disappear in a burst of flame and leap out of other flames in the immediate area.

Adventurer Level 6 (7,000 XP)
STR 2 | DEX 6 | CON 2 | INT 4 | WIL 5 | CHA 6
HP 27 | DC 11 | ATK +5 melee, +6 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Dimension Hop (5,000 XP; via fire only), Flame Body (10,000 XP), Pyrotechnics (3,000 XP)

UNCLE SAM (Samuel Prescott, Veteran)
Uncle Sam is an immortal who fought in the Civil War in the New York infantry. A failed business man, he has a deep, abiding love of his country and a desire to serve it and its people. Despite his aged appearance, he is quite rugged and an excellent soldier.

Adventurer Level 10 (15,400 XP)
STR 5 | DEX 4 | CON 6 | INT 3 | WIL 6 | CHA 3
HP 43 | DC 15 | ATK +9 melee, +9 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Color Spray (1,000 XP), Invulnerability I (1,000 XP), Potent Attack (1,000 XP), Shield Other (3,000 XP), Strike True (1,000 XP), Super Will (2,000 XP) / Revolver (600 XP)

SWASTIKA KID (Grant Johnson, Cowboy)
Note: Before its use by the Nazis, the swastika was merely a sun symbol and, in the United States, a sort of exotic symbol of luck.

At first glance, Johnson appears to be a typical cowhand. He is tall and handsome and has deep, knowing green eyes. During one cattle drive, he found himself separated from his friends chasing down a rogue. Lost in a storm, he stumbled into a cave where he met The Old One, a strange little man who claimed to be a Tibetan monk. He nursed the injured cowboy back to health, and then taught him the mystic secrets of the Orient.

Adventurer Level 11 (18,800 XP)
STR 5 | DEX 6 | CON 5 | INT 2 | WIL 6 | CHA 3
HP 42 | DC 15 | ATK +10 melee, +10 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Invulnerability (1,000 XP), Protection (1,000 XP), Read Minds (3,000 XP) / Two Six Shooters (1,200 XP)

THE MERMAID (Alice Jones, High Diver)
Alice Jones was a bathing beauty and high diver who, during a stunt, struck her head on rocks and sank beneath the waves. Her body could not be found, and people assumed her dead. It turned out, though, that she had the mutant ability to breathe water, and did not die. Her appearance later that night sent folks into a panic, and she now lives with the Roustabouts. She is the on-again, off-again romance of Sockdolager.

Adventurer Level 9 (14,000 XP)
STR 3 | DEX 6 | CON 7 | INT 4 | WIL 2 | CHA 5
HP 56 | DC 15 | ATK +7 melee, +8 ranged | SPD 2 (Swim 3)
Powers & Gear: Invulnerability I (1,000 XP), Super Constitution (4,000 XP), Water Breathing (6,000 XP)

LITTLE DANDY (Paulina Besser, Actress)
Paulina was a glorified extra in silent movies who one day received an electric shock and found herself shrunk to the size of a doll. With Doctor Silence’s tutelage, she learned to control her powers, and now serves as a part-time heroine, part-time actress still trying to make it big.

Adventurer Level 6 (7,000 XP)
STR 4 | DEX 5 | CON 4 | INT 3 | WIL 3 | CHA 7
HP 38 | DC 11 | ATK +6 melee, +6 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Shrink (15,000 XP), Super Charisma (1,000 XP), Super Strength (2,000 XP)

SOCKDOLAGER (Ambrose Gorse, Prize Fighter)
Ambrose is a bare-knuckle boxer with the very useful mutation of unbreakable bones. A very coarse man, his relationship with the Roustabouts is often strained, though he looks on them as his family. He is deeply in love with the Mermaid, but not very clever at showing it. Ambrose is a died-in-the-wool fan of the Boston Nationals.

Adventurer Level 9 (13,000 XP)
STR 5 | DEX 5 | CON 7 | INT 2 | WIL 4 | CHA 2
HP 55 | DC 15 | ATK +8 melee, +8 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Invulnerability II (6,000 XP), Regenerate (6,000 XP), Super Constitution (1,000 XP)

TOP HAT (Unknown, Thief)
The man known as Top Hat is a gentleman thief who is permanently invisible. Captured by Doctor Silence, who saved his life, he now does his best to turn over a new leaf with varying degrees of success.

Adventurer Level 7 (9,400 XP)
STR 3 | DEX 6 | CON 3 | INT 6 | WIL 2 | CHA 4
HP 32 | DC 11 | ATK +6 melee, +6 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Invisibility (15,000 XP) / Stout Cane (600 XP)

THE WAIF (Jessie Knox, Pick Pocket)
Another former criminal taken in by Silence, Jessie is a young woman with the ability to pass through solid objects. While she respects Silence and looks at him as a sort of father figure, the Swastika Kid is her “true love” (he doesn’t know) and Sockdolager is like a big brother to her.

Adventurer Level 3 (2,500 XP)
STR 3 | DEX 6 | CON 5 | INT 2 | WIL 3 | CHA 6
HP 9 | DC 11 | ATK +3 melee, +4 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Etherealness (7,500 XP; must hold breath, only 3/day, cannot pass through metal)

Yen Lu was a woman working as a fortune teller in Chinatown who was caught up in a tong war. Rescued by Doctor Silence, who realized she had a great potential as a sorcerer, she now works as his apprentice. She claims to be an exiled princess from China, but this is highly questionable.

Sorcerer Level 9 (13,500 XP)
STR 3 | DEX 4 | CON 4 | INT 6 | WIL 6 | CHA 5
HP 35 | DC 11 | ATK +4 melee, +5 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Force Missile (500 XP), Hypnotic Pattern (3,000 XP), Precognition (3,000 XP), Sorcery (5,000 XP)

THE DOVE (Celeste Cross)
Celeste was a child preacher taken in by Silence when her itinerant preacher father died in a hail of gangster gunfire. She is a bit preachy for anyone’s taste, but her heart is in the right place. She aims to one day save Top Hat’s soul. The Waif is like a sister to her.

Adventurer Level 1 (0 XP)
STR 2 | DEX 3 | CON 2 | INT 2 | WIL 4 | CHA 4
HP 3 | DC 10 | ATK +1 melee, +1 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Calm Emotions (3,000 XP), Heal Wounds (12,500 XP; 1/day) / Bible

THE MECHANIC (Rajmund “Ray” Nowak)
A Polish immigrant who fell into factory work, Ray soon learned he could repair things simply by touching them. Over time, he learned to turn raw materials into wondrous machines. He now serves as the Roustabout’s resident inventor and mechanic, keeping their machines in working order.

Adventurer Level 9 (13,900 XP)
STR 5 | DEX 6 | CON 5 | INT 5 | WIL 2 | CHA 3
HP 51 | DC 11 | ATK +8 melee, +8 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Fabricate (7,500 XP – metal only), Make Whole (3,000 XP) / Monkey Wrench (600 XP)

DOCTOR SILENCE (Occult Investigator and Medical Doctor)
Dr. Silence was an independently wealthy man who became a medical doctor and soon got into occult investigations as a hobby. Now in his 60’s, he created the Roustabouts to help defend humanity from evil.

Sorcerer Level 11 (19,000 XP)
STR 2 | DEX 3 | CON 3 | INT 5 | WIL 6 | CHA 4
HP 27 | DC 10 | ATK +5 melee, +5 ranged | SPD 2
Powers & Gear: Protection (1,000 XP), Sorcery (10,000 XP)

Deviant Friday – Leinilyu Edition

Playing some Space Princess with the daughter tonight. Had a brief skirmish between her crew of 6 and a sapphire space dragon. She lost her gynoid star warrior, but they finally finished off the dragon. Now I’m looking at the next artist in line for a Deviant Friday spotlight, and I see that it is Leinilyu, who happens to have some nice sci-fi art. Leinilyu brings Travis Charest to mind – very nice lines, understated and beautiful, but some great action work as well. Enjoy.




Digital Girl



Nike bot



Keeping Up With the Joneses









Serenity Cover



Sworn Sword Cover



Happy Thanksgiving, Mystery Men! Style

To start off, I want to give thanks for what has been a pretty good year for me. A couple years ago, I wouldn’t have thought I’d now be making a few bucks writing game material and even publishing my own games. I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had and for the support folks in the game community have given me. I’m even more thankful for my wife, daughter and family and friends. Things are going well today, but I know that things can change, and I’m determined to be thankful for what I have while I still have it.

Now then, on to the goodies. When I was a kid, we used to do these book orders in elementary school. One of the items we could get from these four-page “catalogs” was a subscription to one of two magazines (I think one was four younger kids, the other for older kids, though which is which I don’t remember), Bananas and Dynamite. One little article from Dynamite that stuck with me was about “Zero Heroes”. Apparently, these less-than-stellar superheroes were created by B. K. Taylor as a set of stickers. Years later (now, in fact) I managed to find them online (amazing, isn’t it) and happily present you a hero for the holiday (well, kinda).

The Great Gobbler
According to the back of the sticker, the Great Gobbler had some exciting adventures, but his series was finally cancelled because, no matter how exciting they were, people couldn’t get over the fact that he was just a big turkey.

Cover image above from retroCRUSH.

Deviant Friday – Laemeur Edition

Happy Veteran’s Day, folks – especially to any genuine veterans reading this blog. Thank You!

Today’s delve into DeviantArt takes up to Laemeur, a hipster with beautiful line work and lovely colors. Much of his work that would interest gamers concerns ’80s pop culture, but there’s all sorts of goodness on his DeviantArt page. I can’t think of any project – comic book or gaming – that couldn’t benefit from his illustration skills. Go take a look.































Happy Halloween from the Mystery Men

‘Tis the season, and all that. Thought I’d write up a few heroes who seem appropriate for the holiday.

Bogey Man
Bogey Man is author Kendall Richards, a famous crime novelist who is forced to go undercover when a gangster called Blade steals his latest book, in which he has concocted the perfect crime. Once he gets his book back, he continues fighting crime as the Bogey Man.

Destroying Demon
Secret agent Bruce Blackburn is forced to go undercover as a traitor to break an un-American spy ring (no, that’s not political – they actually called themselves the Un-American Group). Most folks think he is dead, but he actually fights crime and spies as the Destroying Demon. His main weapon – a bungee cord that allows him to jump from building to building.

Fantomah is a jungle goddess who deals out grim punishment to evil-doers in Africa. She can either take the form of a beautiful blonde jungle girl or a blue-skinned, skull-faced hellion.

Purple Zombie
Zoro – if that’s his real name – was a corpse that was revitalized by a ray invented by Dr. Hale and Dr. Malinsky. Malinsky wants to create an army of zombies to take over the world, and when Dr. Hale opposes him he shoots Hale. The zombie, in return, strangles the evil scientist and then goes on a rampage. He is finally captured, but it turns out that Dr. Hale is still alive and is able to control him. The court releases Zoro to the doctor and embark on a life of adventure.

Happy Halloween Folks!

Sunday Grab Bag

Just a few random images harvested from a grand tour of the internet.

Dang It’s a Great Day Department

Did Superman Ever Star in a Diorama Fighting a Cyclops? Department

Yes. Yes he did. At the World’s Fair, in fact.

Geeks Come Out of Your Shell Department

Handy guide to the popular dances of the day. Don’t miss a chance to shake your geek thing.

G.I. Jump the Shark Department

This is the point when your toy line has take one step to many. See also – William “The Refrigerator” Perry with a football flail action figure.

Halloween Peaked in the 1970’s Deparment

Let’s just be honest about it and move on with our lives.

Theo Ortner Kicks Ass Department

Those teeth are going to leave a mark.

Keep it Clean Department

Yeah, ending it with the bowel gnomes.

Silver Age Shenanigans

Is your superhero campaign getting a little staid – a little routine – maybe boring. Would you consider bringing the insanity of DC’s Silver Age into it? Can your players handle the challenge, or are they a bunch of mopey, modern age cry babies who think getting turned into a gorilla is some kind of punishment? If you answered yes and/or no to the questions in the appropriate order … oh Hell – here’s a chart. Roll a dice.

I think my next MM! Google + campaign will draw heavily on the imaginary stories from DC’s Silver Age, though I have no idea how as yet.

Edited to correct an error.

Deviant Friday – Eric Canete Edition

KAH-reload seems to mostly work in comic book images these days, though I remember some really nice fantasy stuff once upon a time. His style is maze-like – it draws in the eye and then gives it a roller coaster ride. They contain so much energy they make me feel like the paper is straining to hold them.


















I recently had another reason to look at some New Mutants material. It was really a fine piece of work back in the day.














What If?

Over the weekend, I was sitting with the daughter on the couch, watching MST3K Gamera movies and old Spider-Man cartoons on Netflix and watching her use Fabrica Herois to make public domain superheroes. While she was doing that, an idea popped into my head of what Spider-Man might have looked like had he been invented in 1938, and likewise what a 1960’s Superman might have looked like. So, seizing the laptop I put together some notions on interposing Spidey and Supes, and then Daredevil and Batman. Here, then, are my “What If?” origins of these characters and their little costume sketches.


Daily Bugle photo-journalist Peter Parker has been everywhere and done everything while snapping pictures for his hard-nosed publisher, J. Jonah Jameson. Maybe his most fantastic adventure occurred in Cairo, when he was accosted in a dark alley by a desperate old man who pressed a strange little golden amulet into his palm. The man, it turned out, was on the run from art smugglers. Putting on the amulet, Parker discovered he gained the powers of a spider! Using these powers and quickly crafted mask, he foiled the smugglers and turned in the expose’ to Jameson. Back in New York, he continues to fight crime as the mysterious Spiderman, all while dueling ace reporter Betty Brant and dallying with fashion model Mary Jane Parker. His aunt, May Parker, still lives in the Forest Hills section of Queens.


Young brainiac Clark Kent lives with his parents, John and Martha Kent, in the suburbs of Metropolis. Late one night, Clark gazes at the sky with his telescope and sees a meteorite streak out of the sky, striking nearby. Clark sneaks out of the house on his bicycle and discovers the glowing green meteorite in a nearby park. It bathes him with its rays, and Clark soon discovers by accident that he has gained tremendous powers. Enjoying his new power, he becomes a show-off and misses a chance to save his father’s life when he suffers a heart attack. Realizing his error of his ways, he dedicates himself to helping people with his powers. Clark now tries to balance high school, crime fighting and a job as a cub reporter at the Daily Planet – not to mention his love interests – ambitious fellow cub reporter Lois Lane and pretty girl next door Lana Lang.


Matt Murdoch grows up in Hell’s Kitchen with his father, a boxer. When gangsters of Boss Fisk kill his father, Murdoch makes a solemn vow to destroy all crime in New York City. To this end, he trains mind and body, becoming a crusading lawyer as well as studying under Tibetan yogis, who teach him to “see without eyes”. He adopts the guise of a devil in order to frighten criminals who are a “cowardly and superstitious lot”. While his arch enemy is Boss Fisk, the “Kingpin of Crime”, his most interesting foe is the seductive Russian-born cat burglar known as “The Black Widow”.


As a youth, Bruce Wayne is struck blind when he is struck by a radioactive rod that flies out the back of a van driven by gangsters who have just stolen an x-ray machine from his father’s medical practice. The rod steals his sight, but gives him the echo-location abilities of a bat, along with other super senses. He soon discovers that his father, a widower, has been killed in the robbery. Inheriting his wealth, Wayne builds it into a vast industrial fortune that he uses to bankroll his war against crime in Gotham City, which he fights as Batman, the Man Without Fear.