Character Concept: The Blue Streak

My habit for character generation seems to be shaping up like this: during Sunday night's session, he's no more than a set of numbers and a vague concept. During my drive home, he transforms into a real character with a backstory. By Monday afternoon, he's an overly elaborate concept with more history than he could ever possibly need. That, of course, is the stage I'm at now.

Therefore, I present to you my over-long character concept for the Blue Streak. I suspect Scott (and probably others) will want to tear his hair out at my pseudo-science. Hey, it's a comic book, remember? Comments are welcome, and if anyone else wants to post their character concept, that would be great.

Brandon Marsh — the Blue Streak

Most of Brandon Marsh's friends would describe him as “a good guy.” He's dependable, bright, a hard worker, and above all, loyal. Brandon's not only the kind of guy who'll not only help you move, he'll show up early, carry more boxes than anyone else, and stay to help you unpack, all without asking for a beer (although he'll certainly take one if you offer). He's not the life of the party, and he's not known for crazy schemes, but he's fun to be around. Brandon's co-workers know him as a guy who believes that if a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing right, even if it takes extra time and effort. Brandon doesn't stand out as an exceptional employee, and he may not have management potential, but his work is always thorough and complete.

Brandon grew up in a small house in the Great Northeast section of Philadelphia, the youngest of three siblings. His parents own a hardware store, and have always stressed the value of hard work and customer loyalty. As a kid, Brandon got along well with the other kids on his block; he always fit into groups easily. He idolized superheroes, like most of his friends, but not any more than professional athletes or entertainers. At school, Brandon's grades were good, but not excellent. He seemed equally skilled at all subjects, and he never gravitated toward any particular area of study, not like the kid down the street who always wanted to be a doctor. He played sports with his friends, but he was too small and slight to really contribute at football or basketball. In high school he enjoyed gymnastics because of the emphasis on individual performance, but he knew it wasn't a “cool” sport, so he never pursued it competitively, and practiced just to keep fit throughout college. Strangely, he never thought about running track.

He attended college at the University of Virginia, which was his first extended time away from home. While there, his friends teased him for his tendency to start sentences with “Back home in Philly…” Brandon discovered that although he enjoyed meeting new people, he was really attached to his home and the people there. He subscribed to the Inquirer so he could keep up with local news, and followed the Philly sports teams religiously. He didn't focus on an area of study immediately. An architecture class with a really dynamic professor sparked his interest, but he didn't have the creativity to really excel. He eventually ended up with a degree in architectural engineering, with a minor in civil engineering.

He immediately moved back to Philadelphia, got a job with the City Planning office, and rented an apartment downtown. He loved living on his own in the city, and spent time exploring the shops, galleries, and restaurants of the various small communities inside the city. Between his job and his off-hours explorations, he figured he knows the city about as well as anyone can.

One day last year, at the age of 25, Brandon was the victim of an accident, although nobody knew it at the time. He was part of a team from the city sent to evaluate the safety conditions at a Penn's experimental new linear particle accelerator — experimental because it was small enough to fit in a single building. The plans had been approved long before construction started, but now that construction was complete, the team was inspecting to make sure the safeguards had all been implemented properly. Brandon wasn't able to understand all the science, but he was only one member of the team. During the inspection, the particle beam was turned on for just a split second, to test the shielding. The shielding had a minute flaw, and Brandon was bathed in a beam of accelerated strange matter particles, but for such a short time that he didn't notice any ill effects, and neither did anybody else.

Later that afternoon, Brandon was writing up his report. His manager had set an unreasonable deadline, and Brandon was trying to hurry. He first noticed that something was amiss when the speed of his typing burned out his keyboard. He told his boss he was sick, took the rest of the afternoon off, and discovered that he had the power to move at super-speeds. He rearranged his apartment in 15 seconds, read a novel in two minutes, and shattered the world record 100-yard-dash time in a deserted alley. Since he'd grown up in a world with superheroes, it wasn't hard for him to guess what had happened to him, and to connect it with the particle accelerator. (He reported a possible flaw in the accelerator’s shielding to his boss, and an expert team found and repaired it. Brandon never said why he suspected the flaw, but he got a good notice for it during his next annual review.)

Having grown up in a world with heroes, he knew what to do with his new-found powers — he fought crime. He cared deeply about his city, and he finally felt like he'd found a useful way to give something back. He got himself a costume and started foiling car thieves and purse-snatchers in the downtown area. He soon drew the attention of the local police, and he was careful to get their approval for his freelance activities. He's cultivated friends on the force, and is always careful to cooperate with them while trying not to upstage them. (Aside: He probably knows Doug's character, and may even be friends with him.) He carries a cell phone with a number known only to the senior officers at the local precinct, so they can call him when needed. He can still keep his regular job — since a full day's work takes him about 15 minutes now, he can take a coffee break, run down a carjacker on I-95, and be back before anyone notices he's gone. So far, he's been dealing exclusively with small-time crime and strictly normal human criminals, so he hasn't faced anything beyond his abilities yet.

In his spare time, Brandon works out (at normal speed) to build his strength, and runs around the city to train his powers. He quickly learned that there's no way to watch TV at super-speed, so he reads. A lot. He reads the newspapers from all the major U.S. cities cover-to-cover every day, along with all the major news magazines, and a bunch of runner's magazines (you never know when you'll find something useful). He's also working his way through the contents of the Free Library, in order. He alternates between fiction (where he's up to C) and non-fiction (up to around 150 in the Dewey decimal system), just for variety. (It's up to the GM to decide how much of this stuff he actually retains…he shouldn't be a human encyclopedia on top of his other powers, but he's probably a master of useless trivia, and well-informed on current events.)

Sometimes, Brandon worries that his powers will vanish as abruptly as they came, and he's not sure whether or not that's a bad thing. Other times, he worries that he'll lose the ability to slow down to normal speeds. As he practices, he can tell that he's gradually getting faster, and he doesn't know what his ultimate upper limit is. Most of the time, though, he's content to live in the moment, because a moment is an awfully long time for him now.

Physically, Brandon is small and slight, around 5'7″, maybe 130 pounds tops. He appears to have no body fat at all. He has dark hair, brown eyes, and an open, honest face. At work, he wears inexpensive suits, usually off-the-rack stuff from Strawbridge's. At home, he tends to wear t-shirts with baggy jeans or sweats. As the Blue Streak, he wears a spandex suit in metallic blue and silver. He wears gloves and boots with slight points on them, and orange wraparound goggles, but other than that, his costume has no extraneous capes, padding, or pockets (wind resistance, you know). He carries no weapons of any kind.

Blue Streak's primary power is his speed (4 ranks): he can currently run up to 5000 Kph (about 3100 mph, or somewhere around mach 4). His perception and thought speed are similarly modified so he can see where he's going and make decisions in time to alter his course. His powers protect him from air friction at those speeds (not sure how that works, though). He can also engage in everyday activities at those speeds (reading, cleaning, shuffling cards). However, he can easily slow his speed and perception to normal human scale without any ill effects. He's light-footed, so he can run across snow or sand without being bogged down (although he can't run over water…yet), and he has exceptional balance, so he can run at high speeds on a rope or ledge without trouble. He has a special attack (500 mph punch) and special defense (high-speed dodge), along with extra attacks per round, all a result of his speed. His accelerated metabolism enables him to heal wounds quickly (Regeneration). (Note: I have no idea how his accelerated metabolism would affect his need to eat or sleep. That could easily become annoying, so I'll leave it up to the GM.)

Blue Streak knows the city like the back of his hand, both from personal interest and because he's had time to study it, which gives him the City Knowledge, Navigation (Philadelphia only), Street Sense, and Urban Tracking skills. His gymnastics practice gives him the Acrobat skill, and he learned the Slight of Hand skill because he thinks it's funny.

To outsiders, Blue Streak appears rash and impulsive. He's not; he just considered all the possible courses of action in a few seconds. Most of the time, he goes for the direct solution — why bother with clever traps or cunning plans when you can simply disarm the bad guy before he even knows you're there? He doesn't use his powers very creatively, because he hasn't needed to so far. He understands that crime-fighting is serious business, but because events appear to be in slow motion when he uses his powers, he finds it hard to be as serious as other crime-fighters or police officers. He tends to appear relaxed while working, and often cracks jokes that others may not appreciate. (This carries over into his civilian life as well, but he's careful to keep up an act. His friends have noticed that Brandon is more relaxed lately, but they don't think he's turned into a carefree joker.) He knows that he's new at this hero business, though, and he usually defers to those with more experience, be they other heroes or police officers.

Brandon maintains a secret identity, as much because it's traditional as to protect his friends and family. He has told his parents, because he dislikes lying to them, but on their advice, he hasn't told anyone else, including his siblings.

Brandon's parents, Ron and Diane Marsh, are still living, and still own and manage a hardware store in the Northeast, but they hope to retire before long. His brother Rick is a patent lawyer in San Francisco, and doesn't come home often. His sister Megan is an HR rep at a bank branch. She's married, has a six-month old son, and lives in upper Bucks County. Aside from Rick, the family is quite close and gets together at the parents' house about once a week. Brandon has had a few short-term relationships, but he was single when the accident happened, and since then he's been reluctant to date for fear of exposing his secret. He has a number of “old friends from the neighborhood” as well as several co-workers he's friendly with.