CoX: Dusted

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.

Who is she? Probably just some Monolith employee.

If you work for the Protectorate, you probably have dealt with Dusty, if indirectly. She’s part of the tech infrastructure, often operating on her own doing specific troubleshooting jobs at various remote sites for the Protectorate’s projects. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t show up to more conventional hero work, though. Her vibe, her aesthetic, though, isn’t so much a hero for the people as much as she is a technician here to do a job. Yes, she looks cool as hell in her different control suits, and she has a very fashionable look for when she needs to do stealth work as the heroine Dusted, but by default, she considers her work to be about making a big noise where nobody hears it.

She’d like to sneak into a facility full of death machines and break them, and then come home for a huge paycheque. That kind of thing. Not big on glory, not big on pride, Dusty is a worker.

When you’re in the job with her, though, you’d most likely know her as a figure surrounded by a cloud of seemingly sentient sand. The sand follows her movement, deflecting blows, creating tiny point shields to shatter and defray projectiles and energy waves at her, and even protect her from radiation and telepathic intrusion. This smart sand is actually a cloud of sophisticated bio-derived nanites: she’s a technopath who wears a lot of specialised devices she can reconfigure with her mind. She wields swords that look and act like shock tasers for most organic impact and monafilament knives when dealing with inorganics.


For reasons that make sense later, Dusty has a truly staggering build in terms of cost. It’s a build that costs a lot to do all of what it wants to do, because I wanted her to be able to main tank for most content. That means she needed to have access to her Taunt, she needed to be tough against common axes of damage, and she needed a lot of area coverage to maintain that area aggro.

She’s a Dual Blades/Dark Armour brute, with the boring Physical Perfection epic pool. I defaulted to that on weapon users, because it used to be that swapping from one type of weapon to another involved an animation that locks you in place. Homecoming has brought that down, but it still works here. Her build has:

  • 45+% Smashing and lethal defense
  • 53% Melee defense, which means a single -def hit doesn’t give her cascade failures
  • ~86%resistance to smashing and lethal damage, and 63%+ to almost all other kinds of damage
  • 200% Recovery
  • 92% recharge, which with hasten means about 10 second downtime on hasten

It’s honestly not a perfect build. It needs some reconsideration for the past two pages of Homecoming. Particularly, the version I have of her hasn’t actually respecced since the change to the Infiltration travel power which is kind of perfect for someone who’s literally meant to be a highly skilled infiltrator.

But if you want to see the draft of her current build with all the expensive bits she already has in it, well, the current Mids build isn’t stable for this kinda thing yet.


Now you might notice that character bio is remarkably spartan and that’s true! It is! Dusty is a character who expected to never have anyone to interact with who wouldn’t know what the Monolith was, and never needed to be approachable to a general population. Anyone who assiduously investigated her would see that she was one of the oldest names in the character roster of the supergroup.

This is because Dusty is the oldest member of the group known as the Protectorate, which is still extremely important to my roleplay universe. Originally, she was a different character. She used to be Carcer. One of the things I love about City of Heroes is that when a character build works, but the flavour of the character attached to it doesn’t, I can just rename, re-customised and recreate the concept of the character, and very few things are locked in place. In this case, Carcer and Dusted only share that their powers flow from a mutation.

Carcer joined the Protectorate very early in its life. Carcer as a character though, was made as a first-ditch attempt to recreate something from live, and I was never that happy with how his mechanics and his powers lined up. When his character could be properly described as ‘punches things and does not die,’ and he could be rebuilt into a more proper Tanker build, I had suddenly, a level 50 mutant who was fun to play, but not Carcer… and they had a sign-in date for the Protectorate that predated almost everyone who didn’t found the place.

These ideas coalesced and formed Dusty: A woman who was not a founder of the Protectorate but a member of it since before its reformation. She was, back in the day, the plucky teen sidekick of the Protectorate before its first fall, and now she’s the mature cool aunt of the group, having been instrumental in destroying what almost led to the first Protectorate’s complete downfall. The specifics are vague – I literally don’t know – but the implication I’ve always had is that Dusty travelled the whole world and found every single copy of a piece of code on every computer in the world and manually deleted it, before returning to the Protectorate. Like, this is a woman who has spent a year doing something that, technologically speaking, sounds nearly impossible.

And now she’s back with the place that she gave her twenties to, from her teens, and dealing with the people who don’t, mostly, know what she did or who she is.

Dusty doesn’t get much play. The Protectorate, largely, are busy elsewhere these days. That’s okay! This was a season of game play, a story I got to be part of, and share with them. It’s okay that they weren’t permanently into something.

It was a joy, though and I really like what I got to be in that story space.