Thursday, September 1, 2011

Foe Files

As I noted back in my In Broad Daylight review, with the revival of Villains and Vigilantes, Jeff Dee and Jack Herman have been getting back into the game, as it were. Lately, by going ahead with a rather strange idea for a product line. That idea being that for a buck apiece, you can buy a villain for your superhero RPG.

So far the line consists of three villains, and the first to be released was Omni-Primus. He was the villain seen fighting the Indestructibles from In Broad Daylight on the cover of the revised rulebook for the old version of the game (the one Fantasy Games Unlimited’s still using).

He’s meant to be a galactic overlord capable of threatening the entire world and fighting entire teams of player characters, the kind every superhero campaign needs every once in a while. He’s properly powerful and leaves a lot of room open for a resourceful GM to use him, but given how the Foe Files clock in at five pages counting the cover, no space at all is given to detailing the resources at his command. I’m not sure that was really wise, seeing as how in my experience villains like Omni-Primus are ones the players might never actually fight, let alone be in any shape to fight after getting past all of his flunkies. I guess I’m mainly thinking of Island of Dr. Apocalypse, which suggests to the GM that the PC’s might need some kind of miraculous healing treatment to be in any shape for the adventure if it’s run after Death Duel With the Destroyers (as it’s meant to be). Mine did.

The second pack consists of Rune, an exiled alien meant to be something of an ultimate assassin. Rune’s formidable enough, I guess, but I didn’t find the meaning of the name and thought the bird-like long nose on the suit to be pretty stupid. Particularly for this terrifying master assassin. Worse, Rune has that most reprehensibly cliched of villain quirks: pausing in pursuit of their evil plans to chat with their enemies. I could never see myself using Rune, at least not as-is.

Last for now is easily the most bizarre idea to come of this product line, the Jackal Jester, sort of a cross between the Joker and the wolfman. Yes, he combines the lycanthrope schtick with the killer toys schtick. He even shows some of the silliness of the real names used by characters in Dee and Herman’s earlier work (like Dreamweaver’s name is Donna Weston, Bull is “Big” Bill Buckford) in that his real name’s Eric Gagnard. The more I think about him, though, the more I think the two gimmicks are just a little too weird to use when combined.

The Foe Files are something of an interesting idea, but while they’re certainly affordable, the characters they contain just aren’t as fun as I’ve gotten used to seeing in these guys’ older work. I don’t think they’ve lost it or anything. Like I said, I really liked In Broad Daylight. I just don’t know that the Foe Files are the best way they could be applying themselves. Assuming these characters haven't all been sitting around for ages.

By the way, if that's supposed to be a display of the Crusaders' computer, which Crusader's mask is that?

Just asking.


  1. The mask looks like it belongs to character called Knight Owl. Jeff's given out some details on her over on the Monkey House Games website.

  2. Thanks for the info.

    And I really need to get going on my review of Ancient Evil.