CoX: Woodfall

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.


They call it Eden, now.

Crey and the Devouring Earth and Nemesis do battle there, clashing over resources, over powerful ancient leylines, over strands of the great thorn tree the Circle claim as their own. When the labs broke down he was left there. The Green crept in. The ancient trees whispered secrets. They told him things that nature knows.

When he stood up again, he could remember nothing what he was, but enough of what he should be.

In time, the new things would die, they would go, and what was before would return. It needed only to be fostered, to be protected. It would be what it was once more.

They used to call it Woodvale.

What gets called Woodfall is an athletic, humanoid figure that trails streams of green acid-like venom, sprawling vines and thorns. It’s not clear what Woodfall is or how someone relates to it – but when Woodfall appears and engages with Crey and the Devouring Earth, it’s with sprawling vines and a deep toxic scent.

At this point, I haven’t played Woodfall much. The idea is definitely like ‘humanoid nature monster’ like a Swamp Thing, but it might be like a Swamp Thing that wants to keep connected to humanity, or it might be a nature monster that uh, doesn’t give a thundering fuck? I dunno.

Mechanics

Woodfall is a reasonably expensively built Fire Blast/Plant Manipulation Blaster. I chose this simply because I found that the Plant Manipulation gives a character a really cool looking layer of vines and thorns and leaves that can serve as a sort of ‘costume piece’ that isn’t normally part of the way the costume builder works. His build hits these goals:

  • Soft-capped (45%) smashing, lethal, and energy defense
  • 32% or better in melee and ranged defense; this is valuable because it means he can eat a purple inspiration and blunt any alpha and avoid almost all mezzes
  • A truly absurd 4.9 end recovery a second
  • 95% global recharge
  • 31.5% global damage
  • Knockback protection
  • The Musculature Total Radial Revamp.

Blasters were not this good on live. There was an update coming that I never got to play with where blasters were given tools that both immensely increased their survivability and improved their endurance management. I was already happy with where blasters were, so suddenly blasters ramped through the roof for me.

One thing I really like in this is that because his survivability needs are met, and his endurance needs are met, there’s a room for him to pick up the Musculature Incarnate Alpha tree. Musculature is a really rare joy – it increases all your damage, above the normal limits. Normally, I use the Alpha slot to round out survival and endurance options, because I am very, very lazy about managing my endurance.

For a blaster, Musculature seems almost perfect. First, when the game gives you a damage bonus, it checks to see what your base damage is. The blaster has the highest base damage in the game; so, increasing a blaster with +damage gets you more damage than anywhere else. Second, it does this by increasing the damage enhancement in all your powers, which are the highest damage powers available. There are some other perks to it — like in this case, I picked the Alpha so it also improved his endurance pool.

If you’d like to see the build, click this link.

History

Woodfall started out because I thought that the Plant Manipulation set looked good. I don’t have a lot of blasters – it represents unexplored territory for me, and I do like the things you can make blasters do. Back in March of this year, I simply went ‘well, this is interesting’ and levelled him up and tried out a build. The result is something I find really fun and exciting to play, which I then had to pour a theme into to make it work.

There is a measure to which Woodfall is inspired by the Swamp Thing, with the idea of the Green. Well, hell, a lot of stuff with Swamp Thing is pulled to bear on Woodfall. There’s a human corpse, there’s an infestation by something that may be super science or may be magical, but whatever it is, it slowly inflates the space into a kind of superheroic paganism. It’s not that Woodfall is necessarily a specific thing, as much as the character fills the space of a sort of avatar of a space filtered through the experience of an angry human. There’s some of the idea of undeath and vengeance there, there’s some of the confusing mythicism of the inhuman.

What I am curious about, looking at Woodfall is, uh… what gender is going on here?

I don’t mean this flippantly. I know I defaulted to ‘him’ because I used a masc body, but the more I look at this character who is, until they’re solidified by playing with other people, kinda in vitro, the more I wonder what gender is to a pagan aggregation of powerful rage against environmental harm, corporate greed, and the undeserved loss of life by the deprived. Is it a man? is it a person? Is it a force of nature?

I’m reluctant, of course, to up front just go ‘oh look, it’s another nonbinary character to add to my roster,’ even if that’s where I end up, because I don’t want to treat ‘nonbinary’ like a catching tray. It’s not that it’s a problem when a character who isn’t assigned a gender chooses not to jump into that particular puddle, but it is a problem if I start with ‘I want to make more nonbinary characters’ and the only characters that wind up there are inhuman, monstrous, robotic or crafted. After all, I have Heartbeep, who is a robot who decided to be a girl, it’s not like gender is hard.

Anyway, writing this article I’ve gone back and forth on it and now there’s just ?? in that space.

Another thing about Woodfall, though, is how they are a character of City of Heroes. The location, the place of it, is important. Eden, what was formerly Woodvale, is a location that is, despite being public and easily accessed, one of those places people forget or fail to recognise, a hazard zone in the city’s lore. It’s a place that’s as much a war zone as it is a narrative space for people to create their own narrative in this space.

I like Paragon as a place. I like the idea of it, and I like the city and its zones and their character. I like them as open spaces to represent types of characters. I don’t know many that would know what Woodvale was, or that it was now known as Eden. That’s a thing that I find interesting about the whole thing. It’s a little niche in the place, a place for me to create something that matters to me.

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