I’m going off-topic again today. I have to. My favorite NPC of all time isn’t a D&D NPC. (Yeah, yeah. I know I could write about my favorite D&D NPC instead of my favorite NPC, but I don’t feel like it.)
Way back when, we played a lot of TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes Roleplaying Game. Pretty much from the get-go we decided we’d play our own heroes rather than established comic book heroes (although such heroes did make cameos once in a while). Established comic book villains were used more often, but we also enjoyed facing our own villains.
Which brings me to Volt.
When I first introduced Volt, he was an electrical martial artist loosely patterned after the Shang-Chi villain Shockwave. Volt was one of a baker’s dozen of street-level bad guys who figured what they lacked in individual power they’d make up for in numbers. This gang of villains initiated a city-wide crime wave intent on overwhelming first responders in order to bring the metropolis to its knees.
Their plan didn’t work. The heroes captured all of the villains except Volt.
A couple of adventures later, I decided Volt needed to show up again. I reworked his powers a little, making him a bit tougher. I also made him the leader of a group called the Sinister Six: Mastermind (wicked mentalist), the Clown (high-tech prankster), Ogre (mentally challenged muscle), Blindside (mute speedster), and Raven (bird-winged feral woman, who later reformed and became an ally of the heroes). The Sinister Six staged a daring public abduction of the U.S. President, snatching him from his motorcade en route to a conference. Again, the heroes defeated the villains, and Volt escaped once more.
More adventures passed, and then Volt came back again, rebuilt to be more formidable and with a richer background and personality. He’d morphed from a small-time villain to a mercenary with an international reputation for ruthlessness and a warped sense of honor related to his current contract. He had a new Sinister Six. The Clown was replaced by Gravity’s Angel (gravity manipulator) and Raven was replaced by Machine (psychopathic technopath). The Sinister Six had been hired by an evil wizard known as the Evoker. Evoker was attempting to assemble the fractured pieces of an ancient artifact, and the Sinister Six were doing his heavy lifting, robbing museums, et cetera.
What Volt didn’t know was the Evoker’s real plan was to assemble the artifact and then sacrifice the Sinister Six in order to achieve god-like power and rule the Earth after it had been transformed into a hellscape. The heroes uncovered this plan, and they confronted Volt and the Sinister Six with the full truth. Volt did not take kindly to being hoodwinked by his employer, so he joined forces with the heroes in an epic smackdown against the wizard and his demon horde. During the fight, the Evoker and Volt were both sucked through an interdimensional vortex, and the Earth was saved.
More adventures passed, and Volt returned again, mutated by his exposure to alien worlds so that he was powerful enough to no longer need a team for back-up. At this time, Volt entered semi-retirement, but the damage to the heroes’ psyche remained. The mere hint that Volt might be up to something was enough to put the heroes on high alert.
Volt made appearances in other game systems as well. I had a Champions version. Volt tore up parts of the DC universe in Mayfair Games’ DC Heroes when I was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. No matter what the game system, Volt remained the villain who was never caught.