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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Marvel Reboot Designer's Notes: Ant-Man

The Astonishing Ant-Man
     Hank Pym.  Scientist.  Engineer.  Inventor.  Mentally unstable.  Reputed wife-beater.  Has had six heroic identities: Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, Doctor Pym, and the second Wasp (when Janet was dead... long story).  Also (in the comics, not the MCU everyone seems more familiar with) the creator of Ultron, and was once acknowledged by the cosmic powers as Earth's Scientist Supreme - because he achieves through science what should be scientifically impossible (though Loki later claimed to have been impersonating Eternity, remember that this is Loki; nothing can be taken at face value where he's concerned).
     One of the things I wanted to do with the Reboot was to redeem Hank.  Despite it being acknowledged as an artist misunderstanding the writer's intent - Hank was supposed to flail about and accidentally hit Janet, which turned into a full-on send-her-flying backhand - Hank has never been been able to lose the stigma of being an abusive husband.  (This later crept into the Ultimate Marvel imprint which got quite graphic in his abuse of Janet, right down to a can of bug spray!  I'm sorry, I never did like the Ultimate Marvel imprint, and this is just a minor example why.  Except for in the Spider-Man titles, everyone was either a sociopath or too dysfunctional to live!)
     So, the first thing I did was to reset the clock.  Back when he was introduced in 1961 (Tales to Astonish v1 #27, cover date January 1962, probably published in September '61), even before taking on the Ant-Man identity, Pym was a bachelor; Janet hadn't yet been introduced. Mainstream!Hank is divorced from Janet, Ultimate!Hank started off married to herI turned the clock back only slightly; Reboot!Hank
     The next thing I did was to make him much less mentally unstable.  In the comics, he's suffered from schizophrenia (which is why he became Yellowjacket in the first place), though that didn't happen until '68 as the Silver Age was beginning to give way to the Bronze Age.  Mine just suffers from an inferiority complex; he's constantly holding himself up to folks such as Reed Richards, Tony Stark, and Dr. Doom, and seeing himself come up short.  In many ways, this is a callback to his time between Yellowjacket and Doctor Pym, Scientific Adventurer, from the early West Coast Avengers.  This could make him (or anyone for that matter) slightly irritable at times.
     Although it's his longest-lasting identity, as he keeps coming back to it, I don't think I'll make him Giant-Man just yet, if at all.  In the comics, he was turned into Giant-Man by the writers because the artists kept forgetting visual cues to his reduced height, so that he didn't appear to be any different from anyone else in a skin-tight bodysuit; from an in-universe perspective, he became Giant-Man because he felt inadequate next to Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man.
     In the comics, he started out as a chemist; I've turned him into a physicist because of the nature of the "Pym Particles" used.  He's one of the best multidisciplinary scientist/inventors on any Marvel-Earth, really second only to Reed and Doom.

Defining the "Pym Particles"
     The following is pure "rubber science", if not outright "superscience".  The key here is not to get the science 100% correct, but to make sure that it is not blatantly wrong!  I am trying to keep it plausible and internally consistent, not necessarily scientifically accurate.
     The size-changing powers in the Marvel Universe are all attributed to the interactions of a sub-atomic particle known as the "Pym Particle".  This particle interacts with matter to permit access to a sidereal aspect of the universe where mass is "virtual" or "potential".  This sidereal aspect can also be used to add mass to an object, increasing size and/or density.
     Because of this, mass shunted to the sidereal dimension is stored as virtual or potential mass rather actual mass, and is still tied to the object it was originally a part of.

A Full Set of Size-Changing Powers
     Ant-Man has two main powers: the ability to shrink down to 1/2 inch size while retaining his full strength, and the ability to converse with ants and other "higher" insects (such as bees) via a cybernetic helmet; he also had the shrinking powers as Yellowjacket and Wasp.  As Giant-Man and Goliath he can grow to about 250 feet tall, with a proportionate increase in strength, though his usual combat size tended to be in the 10 to 25 foot tall range.  As Doctor Pym, he was able to cause objects he was touching to grow and shrink.  What follows are write-ups for some of the abilities I came up with for Pym and others who had similar abilities.

Size Reduction
12/27/43/57/77/92/114/130/156/173 points for levels 1-10
     This ability allows you to reduce your size by one Size Modifier per level while retaining your full HP and damage capability.  Normally you can carry up to your light encumbrance with you.  The shift takes only a second.

Statistics: Shrinking 1 (Can Carry Objects: Light Encumbrance, +20%; Full Damage, +100%; Full HP, +30%; Super, -10%) [13]. Level 2 adds "Variable, +5%" and "Reduced Time 1, +20%" [27]. Every two levels after adds another level of Reduced Time (+20% per level).

Shrink Object
45 points at level 1, +5 points per each additional level
     This ability allows you to shrink an object up to the SM difference specified by the level of the ability. The objects shrunk by this ability remain that way indefinitely until you specify otherwise.

Statistics: Affliction 1 (HT-0; Accessibility (Not On Living Beings), -20%; Advantage (Shrinking 1), +50%; Cancellation, +10%; Extended Duration: Permanent, +300%; Low Signature, +10%; Melee Attack: Reach C, -30%; Persistent, +40%; Super, -10%) [45]. Each additional level adds another level of the Advantage (+5%) [+5 points per level].

94/191/267/349/440 points at levels 1-5
     You are able to grow in size. Each +1 to SM is accompanied by an increase in not only size but also ST, DR, and Injury Tolerance (Damage Reduction).  In a more "realistic" game, the fourth level (roughly 10 yards/30 feet tall) will be the maximum level before the character becomes unable to support his weight under an Earth gravity, due to the Square-Cube Law.

Statistics: Growth 1 (Super, -10%) [9] plus Extra ST +5 (Growth Size, -10%; Super, -10%) [40] plus Injury Tolerance (Damage Reduction /2; Super, -10%) [45].  Each level adds one level of Growth [+9/level].  In addition, at level 2 increase IT:DR to /3 [68] and increase Extra ST to +15  with Growth Size (-20%) [105]. Level 3 increases IT:DR to /4 [90], and Extra ST to +25 with Growth Size (-30%) [150].  Level 4 increases IT:DR to /5 [113], and Extra ST to +40 with Growth Size (-40%) [200].  Level 5 increases IT:DR to /10 [135], and Extra ST to +65 with Growth Size (-50%) [260]. Greater sizes are available; increase IT:DR to the next level, and increase Extra ST, with a final ST score calculated by taking 5 times (the final height in yards) and subtracting 10.

     I have to be honest; I haven't yet given Reboot!Ant-Man more than the Size Reduction ability.  I built the others for a Hank Pym expy character I played in a game (which ended after two sessions when the GM decided to start world-building mid-session than running the plots, because he objected to a player OOCly using "google" as a verb because it didn't fit his "throw out your frame of reference" vision...).

Super-Normal Traits
     Even without his powers, Hank would be an excellent super-normal scientist/inventor.  This was most apparent in his "red/purple jumpsuit" days as "Doctor Pym, Scientific Adventurer", and also came into play during his time as the second Wasp.  For the Reboot, I've maintained his invention ability, giving him Artifice Talent 4, Gadgeteer (though not Quick Gadgeteer), and Inventor!-16 (with a note for a conditional +4 from Artificer; it's not RAW, according to Power-Ups 7: Wildcard Skills, to combine Talents and Wildcard skills like that, but I haven't found it to break anything by permitting Talents to have conditional bonuses.

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