Moral Victories

Recently, I was watching “Patriot Act” one of my favorite episodes of Justice League Unlimited. It’s terrific because it has a WWII scene with Nazis and Spy Smasher (in black and white, no less), the General, Green Arrow being a smartypants, Vigilante being his good ol’ Wild West self, and Seven Soldiers of Victory and Newsboy Legion homages, but what really makes it one of my favorites is the final confrontation between Sir Justin, the Shining Knight, and the General, and it’s scenes like these that inspired some of the additional game-system tools I wrote up for the upcoming Icons Team-Up sourcebook, notably pyramid tests, maneuvers, and the idea of using them for alternate types of wins. Let’s take a look at the scene in Icons terms with these options in play, shall we?

Warning – Possible Episode Spoilers

The General (possessed of powers sufficient to fight Superman) has taken out all of the members of the Justice League present except for Shining Knight, who defiantly confronts him.

In spite of his magical armor and sword, Sir Justin is no match for the General, who has just taken out six other heroes, including Stargirl and STRIPE. Safe to say Sir Justin has earned the “last hero standing” award (Icons, page 20) giving him sole use of any remaining Team Determination. Let’s say he’s got 4 points available. His player is also smart enough to know that a direct physical confrontation is going to be next to impossible, even with those points: the General is nigh-invulnerable, a trained soldier, and dishes out a lot of damage.

So he goes with a different approach to try and achieve the massive success needed for victory.

SHINING KNIGHT: “Do your worst. I’ll not let you harm another.”

THE GENERAL: “I do what I do in service to my country.”

SHINING KNIGHT: “Once, at the word of my lord King Arthur, I was ordered to lay waste to an entire village. I knew my king’s heart could not be so unjust—so I spared them all.”

Sir Justin’s player tells the GM he’s looking to provide an inspiring example, using sheer Willpower against the General. The GM approves, asking the player for a Willpower test against the General’s Willpower. He rolls and succeeds, but it’s only a moderate success – he can’t spend Determination yet because he hasn’t yet tried and failed and this isn’t his last chance … yet. Shining Knight fills in one of the moderate boxes at the base of the pyramid: he needs three more (or one more moderate and a major) to achieve total success.

THE GENERAL: “Then you’re a lousy soldier.”

The sneering General punches Shining Knight. Sir Justin’s player attempts to defend, but fails. Although his armor takes some of the damage, Shining Knight still loses 5 Stamina out of his 12, bringing him down to 7.

SHINING KNIGHT: “There it is: the creeping moral decay of the past thousand years.”

Needing more of an edge, Shining Knight goes for a maneuver: his player declares that he swings and misses, then asks to make a Prowess test against the General’s Intellect. He succeeds and imposes the “Overconfident” aspect on the General, who is now assured of his victory.

SHINING KNIGHT: “Arthur thanked me, oaf! Had I been wrong, I would have handed over my sword and left the court in shame.”

The General catches the Shining Knight’s blade and flips him, doing 5 more damage and disarming him in the process. Shining Knight is down to just 2 Stamina and the General isn’t hurt at all.

THE GENERAL: “Save yourself a hospital stay and stand down. That magic armor won’t help you.”

SHINING KNIGHT: “Have at thee!”

Sir Justin defiantly charges, rolling a Willpower test against the General, unfortunately, he fails. The General double fists him into the pavement, taking him down to 0 Stamina. Shining Knight’s player spends a Determination point on recovery, bringing him up to 6 Stamina as he starts to stir.

THE GENERAL: “You’re a relic. In this world, power is the only thing that matters. You, and those other no-name heroes, you’re just people. In the great scheme of things, nothing you do has the least bit of significance.”

That “Overconfident” aspect is really starting to show, isn’t it? The General uppercuts Shining Knight and slams him, sending him sprawling, and taking him down to just 1 Stamina. 

THE GENERAL: “I’ll waste you and a billion like you before I let any power rival America’s. It’s my duty.”

SHINING KNIGHT: “You don’t know what the word means.”

THE GENERAL: “You can’t win.”

SHINING KNIGHT: “I’ll die as befits a knight, defending the weak.”

Moment of truth time. Shining Knight’s player points out that he has failed a test to achieve his victory against the General. Moreover, he’s down to 1 Stamina and has used his one recovery in this chapter, so this is his last shot. He declares a Determined Effort to win, looking for a massive success, and applying the free tag from the Overconfident aspect placed by his maneuver and the remaining 3 points of Team Determination to activate his own aspects of True Knight, ‘Tis a Good Story, and Have at Thee!. With his Willpower 6, he needs a total effort of 11 or better. He only rolls a +0, but the Determination puts him over the top with a +8 for a total of 14. Massive success!

THE GENERAL: “Why don’t you give up?”

SHINING KNIGHT: “Why don’t you?”

The GM describes how the General drop-kicks Shining Knight down the street, leaving him lying helpless and grabs a car to use to finish him off.

THE GENERAL: “Superman and your Justice League are a threat to a safe and stable world.”

Then an old woman’s voice interrupts his rant…

“Drop the act. You think killin’ Superman will make the world safe? Or killin’ this boy? Or us? Tell me: how many of us do you have to kill to keep us safe?”

The crowd closes around Shining Knight: If the General wants to kill him, he’ll have to go through them. He’s lost, and he knows it.

One thought on “Moral Victories

  1. Pingback: Re: Animated • Justice League “Fury” – Part 2 | Steve Kenson

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