One of the more challenging design goals I set for myself when developing the core “good guys” in the Sons of Liberty — a sort of early 18th-Century American Avengers — was to ensure that every character had a relatively familiar counterpart in the meta-myth of the comic book universes players were likely to me familiar with. The characters are deliberate pastiches, or more directly, blatant rip-offs of familiar archetypes. Having begun with a remixed time-traveling Superman, it seemed only natural to follow with an homage to the Batman.
Even though I planned to set most of the adventures of the Sons of Liberty in the early 19th Century, I wanted to continue the trend of grounding the origins of the heroes (and, honestly, many of the villains) in the American Revolutionary War. For a faux-Dark Knight, the legendary Francis Marion — the Swamp Fox — seemed like a good fit. Although the real Marion’s victories against the British were not particularly significant in setting the direction of the war, his cleverness and ability to turn the local terrain against his enemies had made him a legend even in his own lifetime. After the war, Marion was a successful and wealthy planter, echoing the fabulously wealthy Bruce Wayne.
There was only one major problem: the real Francis Marion died in 1795, about 10 years before the first adventure I’d sketched out was supposed to take place. I’d previously noted that I wanted to ensure that at least a few of the Sons of Liberty were daughters, not least because I expected one of the regular players for the series of short con-games would be our own d20blonde. Unfortunately, my plan to introduce one of Marion’s children as a second Swamp Fox carrying the name into the 1800s hit another snag: Marion died without producing any acknowledged heirs. I have to admit that I had a long internal debate about how to proceed before deciding that, in an alternate history that already included an invincible flying blacksmith with x-ray vision, I could plausibly give the Swamp Fox a vengeful daughter without seriously further disrupting the time-stream.
And so the entirely fictional Elizabeth Marion was born. It’s worth noting here that although this version of Elizabeth Marion is known to be Francis’s daughter by his wife, Mary, you could put an interesting twist on the idea by making her an unacknowledged heir born to one of Marion’s slaves (which has the slight benefit of being easier to fit into the outline of real history, and gives the original Swamp Fox a more ambiguously heroic air). If so, you’d probably want to identify a less direct source of training and mentorship for the second Swamp Fox, and different benefactor who could provide the Swamp Fox with some of her more advanced equipment since Marion’s wealth would presumably be unavailable.
Everyone knows that Francis Marion, was a clever, merciless, and matchless guerilla fighter throughout the Revolution. It is this reputation that earned him the nickname “Swamp Fox,” a name carried on by a series of vigilantes operating after the war ended. What people don’t know is that this “series” of vigilantes was actually Marion, donning a mask to protect the young nation that he had helped create, even as he publicly gave up the identity. But even legends like the Swamp Fox age.
Marion’s daughter — Elizabeth — was only 10 when he began training her, using the plantation’s profits to hire the most talented swordsmen and detectives from around the world to help further her education. He knew that she would eventually replace him as one of the nation’s protectors, but he could not know that she would have to replace him so quickly. She found him one night in 1795, just inside the doorway, mask askew, blood surrounding a chest wound that he must have gotten hours before. He had been ambushed. Murdered. The nation mourned the loss of Francis Marion, war hero and state senator, but they had no need to mourn the Swamp Fox. She donned the mask and cloak, and took your father’s sword – and his mission – as your own.
In the ensuing years, Elizabeth has honed the Swamp Fox identity: the swamps are her undisputed domain, and she is a nearly unparalleled warrior and detective even when out of her element. Of course, she’s not the only one to draw inspiration from the original Swamp Fox’s career: the Scarlet Pimpernel, an Englishman last seen operating in Revolutionary France, is certainly a student, and she’s begun hearing rumors that the Spanish have their own shadowy Fox in distant California. Though others have chosen to follow the elder Marion’s path, Elizabeth has sworn that vengeance for his murder will be hers and hers alone.
Don’t you know by now? The Swamp Fox is always one step ahead…
Solemn and taciturn, the Swamp Fox is quiet, unwilling to waste words when the situation would be better served by action. Attentive to even the smallest detail, Swamp Fox is coolly analytical to point of seeming cold, though her detachment can turn to menace in an instant. Swamp Fox is careful not to allow any emotion show through her serious façade, which is no less protective than the leather plates sewn into her costume.
Compact and muscular but no less graceful for it, Swamp Fox is often seen as little more than a shadow beneath a low-hanging branch, or a flitter of movement in the trees. The glint of a well-warn officer’s saber glints menacingly in the moonlight beneath a dark, hooded cloak. Her eyes, cool and calculating, glint in the starlight. She never shows fear, though she is not so foolish to pretend that she doesn’t feel it. She maintains a coiled, brooding stance, hinting at violence with her every movement.
Swamp Fox is not a powerful combatant, especially when compared to her compatriots. However, she can more than hold her own as long as she can surprise her enemies, assaulting them from the shadows or darting in with a clever feint. She’s at her strongest in melee combat, though she can use her boomerangs or bolos at range.
The Swamp Fox (PL10, 150pp*)
Strength 3, Agility 7, Fighting 8, Awareness 5, Stamina 3, Dexterity 7, Intellect 5, Presence 4
All-out Attack, Close Attack 4, Daze (Intimidation), Defensive Attack, Defensive Roll 2, Equipment 5, Evasion, Fascinate (Intimidation), Favored Environment (Shadows), Grabbing Finesse, Hide in Plain Sight, Improved Critical 2 (Sword), Improved Disarm, Inventor, Jack-of-All-Trades, Power Attack, Precise Attack 4, Ranged Attack 5, Set-Up, Startle, Takedown 2, Tracking
Sword of the Swamp Fox +12 (Tough DC 23, Crit 18-20)
Fox-darts +12 (Tough DC 23, 35 ft. range increment)
Unarmed +17 (Tough DC 18)
Grab +12 (Tough DC 18)
Throw +12 (Tough DC 18)
Toughness 8 (3)
Acrobatics 4 (+11), Athletics 7 (+10), Close Combat (Unarmed) 5 (+13), Deception 3 (+7), Insight 3 (+8), Intimidation 7 (+11), Investigation 6 (+11), Perception 3 (+8), Persuasion 0 (+4), Sleight of Hand 2 (+9), Stealth 4 (+11), Technology 0 (+5), Treatment 0 (+5), Vehicles 0 (+7)
Costume [Protection 3], Hook and Line [Movement 2: Safe Fall, Swinging], The Sword of the Swamp Fox [Strength-based damage 5: Slashing, Tough DC 23, Improved Critical 2], **Flash-Bang [Burst Area Dazzle: Visual and Auditory, Fort. DC 13, 30 ft. radius sphere], **Bolos [Snare 4, Dodge DC 14], **Fox-darts [Strength-based damage 5, 35 ft. range increment], **Compact Chirurgeon’s Kit [Healing 6], **Sleep Gas Pellets [Cloud Area Affliction 5: Dazed/Stunned/Asleep, Fort. DC 15, 15 ft. radius sphere], **Smoke Pellets [Cloud Area Concealment Attack 4: All visual senses, Dodge DC 14, 15 ft. radius sphere]
Honor: You will kill your father’s murderer, but you’ve sworn that no other will die at your hand. You will work tirelessly to capture and imprison the guilty for their crimes, but even the worst Mankind have to offer deserve life.
Identity: No one knows that the prosperous young daughter of prominent plantation owner Francis Marion is the Swamp Fox, except for a few of allies in the Sons of Liberty, like the Minuteman. The Swamp Fox will do whatever you have to do to keep it that way.
Motivation – Justice: The Swamp Fox was trained from childhood to hold to the ideals of the young American nation, even if it meant that she would sometimes have to work outside the law from the shadows of the Carolina swamps.
Power Level 10, 150 PP; Abilities 84 + Powers 0 + Advantages 37 + Skills 11 (*44 ranks per 4 skill points/pp house rule) + Defenses 18. **Alternate powers.
Image Credit: Brian “d20Monkey” Patterson