by guest writer Quentin Long
©2006 Quentin Long

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Editor’s note: Unfortunately, Wanderer (the real columnist here) has been unreachable over the past several weeks. Given his admirable customary level of reliability, we rather suspect this is due to Internet service outages caused by the recent storms. Whatever the reason, we wish him well, and we’ve chosen to pinch-hit for him this issue—Y’r obed’t edit’r, Quentin

   There’s a not-inconsiderable degree of overlap between the furry community and RPGers (i.e., people who play Dungeons & Dragons, or Champions, or other such ‘pencil and paper’ role-playing games). Thus, we’ve decided to do something a bit different this issue: We’re going to take an existing character who’s tolerably well-known, and we’re going to write him up as if he were a character in a role-playing game. As you may already have deduced from the title of this column, we’re going to stat out the TBP character called Jubatus. As for the RPG rules we’ll use, there’s really only one choice: the HERO System. This rule-set is flexible enough to handle bloody near anything a body might throw at it—and frankly, we’re going to need that kind of versatility.
  This column is written under the presumption that its reader will have a basic degree of familiarity with the HERO System rules. For those of you who lack any such familiarity, don’t panic! HERO Games, the company which produces this rule-set, offers some free-for-the-downloading PDF (i.e., Adobe Acrobat) files that can help you get up to speed: Intro to the HERO System (2.7 MB), and Two-page Combat Summary (about 470K).
   The Reader’s Digest Condensed Version: When you’re creating a character in HERO System, you start out with a generic, middle-of-the-road persona, and you have a certain number of ‘character points’—the exact number is determined by the Game Master (GM) of the campaign you’re making your character for—that you can spend to enhance that persona’s abilities. You can spend these points on building up their physical characteristics (strength, dexterity, etc), on superhuman abilities (magical spells, superpowers, etc), on skills (knowledge of how to program computers, martial arts, etc), and various other things. If you don’t have enough points to pay for all the things you’d like your character to have, you can get more points by assigning Bad Stuff to your character.
   Since Jubatus was never intended to be used in a role-playing campaign, we’ve decided not to care about whether or not he ends up being a playable character; we’re just going to stat him out and let the points fall where they may.


   Jay Nelson Xavier, far better known as Jubatus Acinonyx, is a cheetah-derived animorph SCAB. He is what some refer to as a ‘high-degree’ animorph in that his body is, in purely physical terms, almost identical to that of a normal cheetah; the only significant points of difference are (a) an oversized braincase, and (b) the digits on his forepaws are a great deal longer and more dexterous than those of a normal cheetah (which isn’t saying much…). Since Jube is basically a normal cheetah, physically speaking, any attempt to write him up must necessarily reflect cheetah traits.
   Jube is also a chronomorph SCAB, i.e., he doesn’t age in the usual ‘one second per second’ manner. Unlike many other chronomorphs, whose anomalous aging is strictly a biological phenomenon, Jube actually manipulates Time, making it run faster or slower. This is good, because Jube lives at a rate 6 times faster than the normal world around him—that is, he’s permanently stuck at what he calls a ‘tempo of 6’. If he were unable to slow down Time, he would be incapable of interacting with other people in anything even vaguely like a normal fashion. Jube refers to his Time-shifting ability as ‘upshifting’ or ‘downshifting’, depending on whether he’s using it to speed up or to slow down. Since this power actually does affect the flow of Time, it has certain physical consequences that should be accounted for in his writeup.

SCAB traits

   In the TBP setting, it is quite common for victims of SCABS to be the victims of prejudice from bigoted members of the ‘norm’ community. There is also at least one extremely widespread ‘hate group’, Humans First, whose members make a point of going out of their way to harass and injure SCABs. Thus, obvious SCABs, such as Jubatus, have the Disadvantages ‘Social Limitation: SCAB’ and ‘Hunted: Humans First’.
   Jubatus is one of those animorph SCABs who does not suffer any ill effects from age. He should, strictly speaking, but his supercharged metabolism heals that sort of damage faster than the ravaging of aging can inflict it. Thus, Jube has the Power ‘Life Support: Longevity (Does Not Age)’.

Personality traits

   Jubatus is not a healthy person, psychologically speaking. He has never truly accepted what SCABS did to him, and his adamantine denial of (this particular aspect of) Reality is the root of a number of highly intense personal quirks. In the HERO System, undesirable personality traits can be represented by the ‘Psychological Limitation’ Disadvantage—or, in Jube’s case, several Psych. Lim.s: Self-Loathing, Antisocial, and Code vs. Causing Injury (by analogy with the Code vs. Killing that many superheroes have). He also has an ingrained habit of taking lots of gods’ names in vain, most notably those of the Greek and Norse pantheons; thus, Jube has ‘Distinctive Features: Polytheistic Blasphemer’.


   Jubatus is a highly competent individual, which I’ve represented by giving him Overall Skill Levels that can be applied to any task; Deduction; and Inventor. As a successful freelancer, he has Trading and Bureaucratics. Jube prefers to think of himself as a technical writer, and his expertise in that field is why he has Professional Skill: Technical Writer; Knowledge Skills: Writing and Graphic Design; and Cramming. He’s probably better known as a troubleshooter, in which capacity he exploits his Professional Skill: Troubleshooter; Electronics; Computer Programming; and various other technical skills. Jube’s ability to perceive and react with superhuman speed makes him an excellent driver—thus, Combat Driver. He reads a lot of stuff, hence he has Knowledge Skill: General Trivia. His readings include the holy books of various religions (how else could he be a polytheistic blasphemer?), hence he has Knowledge Skill: All the World’s Religions. Unlike most Americans, Jubatus is not monolingual; he has basic fluency and literacy in French and Spanish, not that he gets many opportunities to put these languages to use. And given the number of times he’s filed complaint reports with the police, because of property damage inflicted by anti-SCAB bigots, Jube has picked up a bit of Criminology.


   ‘Characteristics’, aka ‘statistics’ or ‘stats’, are numbers which measure some the innate capabilities of a character in a role-playing game. In Dungeons & Dragons, there are six stats; in HERO System, there are fourteen.

Cheetah traits

   Since Jubatus is all but indistinguishable from a normal cheetah, appearance-wise, he has the Disadvantage ‘Distinctive Features: Cheetah’. His forepaws are somewhat less functional than human hands; this means he has ‘Physical Limitation: Paw-like Hands’. Cheetahs have claws and fangs, but these built-in weapons are weak by comparison to those of most other predators, so Jube has 1D6 Hand Killing Attack (a significantly weaker attack than lions or tigers have). The claws could also help Jubatus climb things, by giving him a firmer grip on whatever surface, so he has the Power ‘Clinging’. His fur offers a bit of protection against injury, so he has the minimum amount of the Power ‘Armor’.

   Cheetahs can reach a top speed of about 70 MPH, and they can maintain this impressive velocity for all of 10-15 seconds before they’re forced to slow down to avoid overheating. This is obviously the Power ‘Running’—but how much Running? That all-out 70 MPH sprint is roughly (70 / 1.609 =) 112 KPH, which, in turn, is a bit over 31 meters per second. Converting to HERO System game-scale measurement, this works out to 16 inches per second. For humans, with a base SPD of 2 and therefore 6 seconds per Phase, that means 96"/Phase of Running. Since this is an all-out sprint, it’s got to be non-combat movement, which means Jube has 48" of Running.

   While cheetahs cannot speak, they can produce an unusually wide range of sound effects, far beyond what most other cats are capable of. In fact, cheetahs can do bird calls of such fidelity that they actually use this ability as the basis of a hunting technique! Thus, Jubatus has the Power ‘Images (Sound)’. Although Jubatus is technically incapable of normal speech, he can fake it by using his human intelligence to assemble appropriate sequences of sound effects. This ersatz speech is reasonably comprehensible, but it also sounds like nothing else most people have ever heard. Thus, Jubatus has ‘Distinctive Features: Bizarre, Inhuman Voice’.

   In the HERO System, there is a large suite of Powers which fall into the category ‘Enhanced Senses’. As you might expect, cheetahs, like many other predators, have a number of these Senses.

   Since SCABS altered Jube’s brain a bit, he has some ‘hard-wired’ cat-like behavioral traits. Most of them I’m treating as Skills; these include ‘Breakfall’, ‘Stealth’, ‘Shadowing’, ‘Mimicry’, and ‘Climbing’. In addition, his instincts are continually watching for possible threats… and if the instincts see something they don’t like, Jubatus upshifts involuntarily. The realtime threat assessment is the Talent ‘Danger Sense’; the involuntary upshifting is the Disadvantage ‘Accidental Change’.

Chronomorphic effects

   Jubatus lives 6 times faster than normal. Since a normal human has SPD 2, Jubatus therefore has SPD 12—which means that from his point of view, each day is about 150 hours long (or longer, depending on how much upshifting he does in that particular day). Having that much more time on his hands than anyone else, it should come as no surprise that a perfectionist like Jube can (and does!) catch errors that few other people would, and even so, he still can finish up the job faster than anyone else. As a result, Jube can not only take on more contracts than anyone else, but he can get away with charging higher rates, too. Thus, Jube has the Perquisites ‘Reputation (Very fast and competent)’, and ‘Filthy Rich’.
   As you might expect, Jube’s high-speed metabolism requires a vast quantity of calories; it’s been established that he tends to ‘crash’ badly if he hasn’t eaten anything in the past few hours. This is accounted for by the Disadvantage ‘Dependence: Food and water consumed within the past 4 hours’.

   The best game-mechanic for this is that Jubatus has the power to vary his SPD. Downshifting isn’t a problem; Jubatus exploits the fact that the HERO System rules allow any character to voluntarily reduce their SPD. Upshifting isn’t a problem either, but that’s only because I’m not paying attention to point-totals—Jubatus has some extra pips of SPD with the Limitation ‘Costs Endurance’. Since each pip of SPD costs 10 points, this gets expensive real fast. But, again, I’m not worrying about the point-totals. So how much extra SPD does Jube have? Well, in his stories he can upshift as high as 40-odd times faster than normal, which means he should technically have 80-something extra pips of SPD. However, there just isn’t any point to a SPD that obscenely excessive! Thus, I’m only going to give him +12 SPD, which is enough that he can hit SPD 24. Is SPD 24 excessive? Absolutely—but (a) it's a great deal closer to sanity than a SPD of 80-odd, and (b) if he didn’t have some degree of excess, he just wouldn't be Jube.
   Jubatus’ Time-bending power has certain side-effects. Consider gravity: Normally, under Earth’s gravity it takes 1 second for an object to fall 16 feet. But when Jubatus is running faster or slower than normal, it could take that object significantly more or less time to complete that 16-foot fall (from his point of view, anyway)! In effect, gravity gets weaker when Jube upshifts, and stronger when he downshifts. The way I’ve chosen to handle this is to give Jubatus some extra pips of STR which are only usable when his SPD is within a certain range of values. If Jube gains extra pips of STR when he’s upshifting, should he not also lose pips of STR when he’s downshifting? Yes, he should; that’s why I’ve given him ‘-5 STR when SPD <6’ as a Physical Limitation.
   When Jubatus is running X times faster than normal, he percieves all waveforms (light and sound, mostly) as having doppler-shifted to 1/X their normal frequency. When he’s running faster than normal (i.e., X > 1), this means high-frequency waveforms are getting dopplered down into the normal range of perception; when he’s running slow (i.e., X < 1), low frequencies are dopplered up. I’ve chosen to account for this by giving Jube some Enhanced Senses which are only usable when his SPD is within a certain range of values. Thus, Jube has ‘Infrared Perception’ that only works when he’s downshifted; ‘Ultraviolet Perception’, when he’s upshifted a little; and ‘N-Ray Perception’ (the HERO System answer to Superman’s power of X-ray vision) when he’s upshifted a lot.
   Since Jube spends so much of his life in reduced gravity, he‘s learned to handle himself more than competently regardless of his current weight; this amounts to the Talent ‘Environmental Movement (No penalties in reduced gravity)’.
   When Jubatus is upshifted, he is quite capable of dodging bullets, which are often the only objects that he percieves as moving in the first place. Thus, Jube has the Power ‘Missile Deflection (All Ranged Targets)’. And when he’s really upshifted, he may even be able to pluck incoming missiles out of the air and toss them at other targets of his choosing; this is the Power ‘Missile Reflection (Any Target)’, with the Limitation ‘Not Against Heavy Missiles’ (i.e., if he doesn’t have the strength to physically move the thing, he can’t redirect its flight path).

   And now, for your reading pleasure and edification, here is Jubatus’ HERO System character sheet:

Value Stat Base Cost
9 STR 10 -1
29 DEX 10 57
13 CON 10 6
8 BDY 10 -4
19 INT 10 9
24 EGO 10 28
18 PRE 10 8
10 CML 2 0
3 PD 2 1
3 ED 3 0
12 SPD 3.9 81
10 REC 5 10
100 END 26 37
20 STN 20 0
Total of Characteristics 232

3 Breakfall (DEX) 40 +4 Overall Skill Levels
1 Stealth (DEX) -- Familiarity (8=>) 3 Knowledge Skill: All the World’s Religions (INT)
1 Shadowing (INT) -- Familiarity (8=>) 10 Knowledge Skill: General Trivia (INT+7)
3 Mimicry (INT); sounds, not speech 1 Language: Spanish (basic fluency)
3 Climbing (DEX) 1 Language: French (basic fluency)
1 Criminology (INT) -- Familiarity (8=>)
3 Professional Skill: Troubleshooter (INT) 5 Cramming (INT)
3 Professional Skill: Technical Writer (INT) 1 Inventor (INT) -- Familiarity (8=>)
3 Knowledge Skill: Graphic Design (INT)
3 Deduction (INT)
3 Knowledge Skill: Writing (INT)
3 Computer Programming (INT)
3 Electronics (INT) 3 Cryptography (INT)
3 Systems Operation (INT) 3 Bureaucratics (PRE)
3 Security System (INT) 3 Combat Driving (DEX)
3 Trading (PRE)
112 Total of Skills

15 Filthy Rich: Net worth on the order of $10 billion
3 Reputation: Very fast and competent (the technical community, 14=>)
18 Total of Perquisites

32 Danger Sense (Works as a Sense, Out of Combat): PER + 10
4 Environmental Movement: No penalties in reduced gravity (including freefall)
3 Lightsleep
3 Speed Reading (10*)
42 Total of Talents

3 1/1 Armor
7 (10) Clinging (normal STR) --
-1/2 Requires a Skill Roll
160 (240) +24 SPD --
-1/2 Costs END
84 Characteristics: +42" Running (total of 48" Running)
7 (5) Characteristics: +5 STR
+1 0 END Cost
-1/2 Only when SPD =>15
5 (5) Characteristics: +5 STR
+1 0 END Cost
-1 Only when SPD =>18
4 (5) Characteristics: +5 STR
+1 0 END Cost
-11/2 Only when SPD =>21
3 (5) Characteristics: +5 STR
+1 0 END Cost
-2 Only when SPD =>24
9 Enhanced Senses: +3 Enhanced Perception (All Senses)
5 Enhanced Senses: Nightvision
3 (5) Enhanced Senses: Infrared Perception
-1/4 Only when SPD < 6
3 (5) Enhanced Senses: Ultraviolet Perception
-1/2 Only when SPD =>15
4 (10) N-Ray Perception
-11/2 Only when SPD =>21
3 Enhanced Senses: Ultrasonic Perception
5 Enhanced Senses: Discriminatory Smell
4 Enhanced Senses: +4 Telescopic Vision
5 Enhanced Senses: Tracking Scent
9 (15) +1D6 Hand Killing Attack (fangs and claws)
-1/2 Restrainable
-1/4 Reduced Penetration
20 Images (Sonic), -5 to observers’ PER roll
5 Life Support: Longevity (Does Not Age)
15 3D6 Luck
11 (20) Missile Deflection (All Ranged Attacks)
-1/4 Only when SPD > 12
-1/2 Costs END
25 (30) Missile Reflection (Any Target)
-1/4 Not Against Heavy Missiles
-11/2 Only when SPD =>21
-1/2 Costs END
385 Total of Powers

20 Distinctive Features: Bipedal cheetah (Not Concealable, Major Reaction)
10 Distinctive Features: Bizarre, Inhuman Voice (Not Concealable)
10 Distinctive Features: Polytheistic Blasphemer (Not Concealable)
5 Accidental Change: Involuntarily ‘upshifts’ to a SPD of 13-24 (GM’s choice, based on severity of threat) whenever his Danger Sense picks up on something (Common, Always)—only worth 5 points because its practical consequences (i.e., he sometimes expends END when he wasn’t expecting to) are rarely deleterious
20 Dependence: Food and water consumed within the past 4 hours (Very Common, Incompetence, 1 minute)—i.e., Skills are penalized
20 Dependence: Food and water consumed within the past 4 hours (Very Common, Weakness, 1 minute)—i.e., Characteristics are penalized
5 Physical Limitation: -5 STR when SPD <6 (All the Time, Slightly)—since the cost of 5 pips of STR is only 5 points, it would be stupid for a ‘lose 5 pips of STR’ Disadvantage to be worth more than 5 points
15 Social Limitation: SCAB (Very Frequently, Minor)
20 Hunted: Humans First (Less Powerful, Non-Combat Influence, Very Frequently)
15 Physical Limitation: Paw-like hands (Frequently, Slightly)
5 Physical Limitation: Can’t Hear Sounds <100 Hz (Infrequently, Slightly)
5 Physical Limitation: Poor Color-Discrimination (Infrequently, Slightly)
25 Psychological Limitation: Code versus Causing Injury (Very Common, Absolute)
25 Psychological Limitation: Self-Loathing (Very Common, Absolute)
25 Psychological Limitation: Antisocial (Very Common, Absolute)
25 Psychological Limitation: Perfectionist (Very Common, Absolute)
250 Total of Disadvantages

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