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.
The conventional vision of the hard suits is that they’re hardware that makes everything else easier. Which, yes, technically, true; they can do things like manage gravity extenders or hard-light impact gauntlets. A hardsuit lets a normal human operate on the level of a superhero.
The problem is the suits themselves are heavy hard suits. They’re only doing so much of the work – to pilot one at peak efficiency, you have to be an extremely accomplished athlete, fit and extremely strong. And you can take the training and the parts, and strike out without them to much of the same effect.
When people first meet the ex-Hardsuit pilot – the hard-body hard-head Lita Kinamo – the question ‘What’s she like?’ is asked. The answer’s always the same: She lifts.
In the Paragon Police Department, there are squads of officers who are entrusted with the task of operating a PPD Hardsuit, which is basically a walking frame mecha. These hardsuits have a range of control and suppression tech in them, and usually come with stunning energy gauntlets, to help the officers subdue and then detain superpowered threats that will not respond to alterative methods of containment.
Lita isn’t one of them, any more. She was one, once, but transferring and politics and all sorts of other demands means that she wound up in the Paragon Police Department’s Special Offenders Unit, and had to rely on their alternative tech to replicate the hardsuit.
Taciturn, serious in a way that makes people uncomfortable, and more than a little bit angry at the way systems she’d worked to enable had treated her, Lita now works with the members of her small, unimpressive, and underfunded division to try and do superthreat containment without support from the main body of the PPD.
Lifts is a Gravity Control/Energy Assault Dominator, a combination famous on live for being one of the ‘slowest levelling characters that existed.’ If you’ve not looked at them before, Gravity Control has a really strong pet (available at level 32), and that means it’s not very good up until then – many of its control powers are slow to animate, or work in ways that teams don’t like. Also a bunch of its powers do knockback, which players are often not wild about having around. Energy Assault has knockback in its ranged attacks, and its melee attacks are kinda slow and ponderous, which can mean that levelling up naturally, you’re going to have a lot of time when you’re waiting for something that you can do to recharge.
Not fun, lemme tell ya.
Still, Lifts has a mature build. For Dominators, there’s a special recharge target number: 70% global recharge and a 95% enhanced Hasten. If you can hit that, you’ll be able to fire your Domination power before it’s run out, meaning that you avoid the ‘crash’ and the need to recharge. Domination gives you mez protection and knockback protection and makes all your control powers extra good, so it’s obviously desireable to hit that target.
- 33% defense to ranged attacks
- Soft-capped Smashing and Lethal resistance
- 100% global recharge and hasten, meaning she has permadom
- 30% global damage
- All her knockback powers are turned to knockdown powers
If you want to look at her build, check it out.
All cops, let’s be clear, are bad.
Time has not been kind to every character I made from back in the day, but some of the things that changed were not the characters as much as my view of the world around them. Back when Lifts was first made, she was a member of a group called the Special Offenders Unit, a joke based on the cop show. The idea, formed from a group of friends was that these were police, in Paragon, who operated within the Paragon Police Department as we knew and saw them, and then we asked the question: Why don’t these cops fix the problems in the city? Why Are Cops All Bad?
The answer comes back as to why cops generally don’t solve problems, of course. It’s a combination of perverse incentives and budget bullshit. The perverse incentives mean that cops aren’t rewarded for making things better, earning respect from their community, keeping people safe, ensuring people are healthy and any conflicts around their area aren’t simply determined by a function of who has the most immediate physical power. Typically, cops are rewarded for enforcing an image of the orderly that capital can exploit. The budget bullshit is the other side of it, where cops are not given adequate resources for things that are actually useful for that incentive system.
If cops have homeless people in their area, they don’t have access to budget to just house those people. If homeless people are a problem you address with the cops, the sensible use of police budget would be to house those people (or you know, deal with the system where homeless people can exist, but anyway). Buuut no room in that budget for that. Instead, cops have room in their budget for tanks.
“Um actually, it’s not a tank tank,”
Look you know what I mean and you know what it costs, so shut up.
That creative space was pretty fun to work with. It presented this group of superhero cops who were all being bound by bureaucracy, and having to respond to the demands and needs of a community around them that needed to call in a supercop to fix some kind of problem that it was too dangerous to use standard police force to deal with, but also doing it while being disrespected by standard police, and by being frozen out from access to the resources they actually need. Thanks to being a small force that had an assumed special standard of power, run by someone that the police didn’t like, they were regarded by other cops as being too good to deserve assistance and too bad to take their requests seriously.
Essentially, they were a small group of good cops, and therefore, were treated like crap by the non-good cops.
But still, I’m a firm believer in superheroes as fantasies for believing in the way things could be, for our own moral character that we could live up to, so I don’t think the idea of ‘what if cops, but good?’ is an impossible thing to imagine in a fantasy space of a MMORPG.
But look, there’s a reason we’ve largely stopped talking about this SG lately.