Cox: Dead Beat

Time to time, I write up an explication of characters I’ve played in RPGs or made for my own purpose.  This is an exercise in character building and creative writing.

Magic didn’t go away with industrialisation, it just had to catch up, and fast. It used to be that for a thing to become a magical signifier, it needed to be squirrelled away in an old book, a curse with a thousand days of practice, a single phrase empowered with the tragedy of a century, and all that jazz. Now you can print out the magic words a million times in a second, and the problem isn’t finding the magic, it’s drawing it out.

Inevitably, we have the new mages.

The MP3 – a way to treat performances of songs as replicable numbers – was developed in 1993, and at that exact moment of the first release, Cooper Owl was born. We all get into hobbies in high school, and his was magecraft, which he got into to impress hot goths.

He did find magic, woven in the songs that meant the most to people, the songs that lingered after the singers were gone, their dead beats.

Never impressed any hot goths.

Dead Beat, or Cooper to his friends, is one of Paragon City’s many wizards. Thing is, he’s not a Greatest Of His Generation wizard. He’s not one of the stylish ones with a grand magical heritage. He’s just some dick who studied it in the same way that someone might have picked up guitar in high school, turning it into a gig job that he could keep doing night after night, on commissions and using the skill to extend what money he had.

Do it enough, though, and you start asking questions of why shouldn’t I try? And the result is one of Paragon City’s middleweight mages. When there’s a major gang of skull-themed goon criminals using magic, it can seem so easy to take up arms against them and just do magic better, down at the level of gangs and drug deals.

That’s what he does. He’s got an identity, a mask, and through the power of music, a soundtrack to his magic.


On the numbers, Dead Beat’s design doesn’t push too hard. It’s good, but it’s extremely cheap, since it relies on some sets that are overall quite cheap on Homecoming. Sets like Kinetic Combat and Enfeebled Operation give you good defensive bonuses, and the build doesn’t even use the Blaster sets (which are absolute houses, power-wise).

  • Smashing, Lethal and Melee defense at 45% or better
  • 50+% resistance to Smashing and Lethal damage
  • 65+% global recharge
  • 25% global damage

It’s not that the build gets nothing out of IO Enhancements. It’s just that the IO bonuses it gets are less interesting than the things the powers themselves already do. Particularly, it has two similar AOEs that feed off each other, in Deafening Wave and Irradiate, which give out -res and -def in sequence. As a blaster, the endurance supplement power of Sound Barrier means that you can get really sloppy with toggles, and if you build for recharge, you wind up needing only a small number of your best attacks.

When Dead Beat is cycling in combat, he can fire off the first AOE, then the second AOE, and then in only three seconds more, he’s firing them off again, layering their debuffs. He’s even got as damage -res aura to make that even better, and that’s probably all he needs to do in a group environment against a group of targets.

When you’re built that way, there’s a lot of room for Blasters to just goof around with fun utility or pool powers. In Dead Beat’s case, it’s the teleports and Fold Space. He can drag a chunk of the enemies into his aura, then spam debuffing attacks on them.

If you want to push this kind of build, there’s a lot of easy ways to do it. Just obviously, you could pick up the Blaster sets and add a lot of recharge. Purples would also improve the recharge. Getting various accolades would also make him tougher.

If you want to check out Dead Beat’s Build via a data link, here’s the link!


There’s basically nothing here. Dead Beat was made because the sonic resonance set was released for blasters and I was really curious about it. The mechanics of it are cool, I like what it can do, and what it’s for. I tried to treat him as a sort of ‘do your homework’ build; I didn’t start levelling him until I had at least five costumes for him, including casual outfits, and a description to go with it.

There’s no story there, then, just a little mechanical exercise, which is part of why he isn’t an expensive or elaborate build.

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