Cathy Grant is Captain Danger’s Sister

“Your female characters all sound alike” -the irony, oh the irony

I’ve mentioned before how, when I used to GM a lot, I had a tendency to keep secrets. Deep secrets. Long secrets. Sometimes for years. Longer than most people would consider sensible. Like back in the old Doven campaigns, it was almost ten years before anyone figured out the fundamental structure of the world.

When I buried secrets, I didn’t count on the players ever figuring them out. They were there because they were truths of the world, not because I wanted the players to discover them. Ultimately they were there for me. If the players put the pieces together, that was entirely to their credit. They cracked the code all on their own and could feel proud of their sleuthing, like when parties uncovered hidden treasures in West Marches.

But there was also the opposite case, where I intended the players to figure a secret out, because it was something they needed to know to understand what was going on. A necessary revelation, even if I had no idea how or when they would put the pieces together. Like in our New Century City superhero campaign, the players needed to figure out the big “worlds-in-collision / this is Terra” reveal, because until they did they couldn’t do something to fix it. Did I guess the reveal was going to take nearly a hundred game sessions? No I did not.

This story is also about New Century City, but it isn’t about a big secret, it’s about a very small one. A secret that had no real impact on the main plot, but was just an interesting bit of character development. It was also much shorter, kept hidden for only about a dozen games before the truth came out. This campaign was also a million years ago, so I’d probably play the whole thing quite differently now, as I’ll talk about later.

So let me tell you about the time Captain Danger’s sister fooled everyone…

In This Episode, Guardian Gets A Sidekick

Guardian was Seth’s character, a Superman-like hero (if Superman was sometimes a total jerk) complete with a Clark Kent secret identity as a reporter for the local paper. At the start of Episode 25, “High Society”, he got saddled with a completely green new assistant, Cathy Grant. Cue hijinks as he has this plucky but inexperienced sidekick following him around who he has keep out of danger, all while hiding his superhero identity, etc. An incompetent Lois Lane sans romance. Classic stuff.

What I didn’t tell him was that “Cathy Grant” was not really a new character. She was actually someone who had been in the game since the very start, all the back in Episode 1, “Enter LiveWire”: she was Captain Danger’s sister, Felicity, using a fake name.

Captain Danger was Ping’s character, and she and Felicity had a tempestuous relationship from the start. Felicity didn’t know her sister was one of New Century City’s most prominent superheroes, she just knew she was always behind on her share of the rent for their apartment, because she was secretly too busy saving the city to hold down a temp job. Their main dynamic was bickering and getting on each others’ nerves. Constant sibling rivalry.

The other players were all very familiar with Felicity, having watched numerous scenes of the two sisters going at it, but their characters had never met her, because they didn’t know Captain Danger’s secret identity either. So to Guardian’s eyes, this was honestly someone he had never seen before.

(And yes, because it was a superhero game I named every episode at the start, comic book-style)

So I introduce this situation and in my mind I start a countdown clock. And if this clock had a label it would say “time until everyone does a spit-take and realizes this is the same person”. Because I think it will be a hilarious reveal. And ultimately this is all just a setup for what comes after, which is seeing what Captain Danger thinks about her stay-at-home sister going out and getting a life, and putting herself in danger in the process. What is Felicity doing butting into her superhero life? Doesn’t she know who the main character of this story is?!? That’s the real question we’re building towards. The deception is just a fun way to get there.

Interview With A Superhero

Adventures happen, Cathy Grant keeps making appearances, but no one thinks anything is fishy.

A crowning moment (for me) came in Episode 31, “Interview With A Superhero”. Ping normally played Captain Danger, but she had been running a new up-and-coming B-team hero, Avatar, for a series of side adventures. This whole session was centered around Cathy Grant, junior reporter, landing an interview with Avatar and asking her all about her recent adventures, how awesome it was to work with Guardian (ahem), and then intermixing the interview with flashbacks to play out those interludes. A super fun framing device.

But I also knew this would be the first time Ping would be in a scene talking to Cathy Grant. Would she notice the similarities and realize this was really her other character’s sister??? After all, I was doing my best to role-play Grant as ‘Felicity trying to pretend to be a real reporter’, since that’s exactly who she was.

Late in the session, in a perfectly glorious moment, after Avatar and Grant had been talking for hours, Ping looked at me, scrunched up her face, and dryly commented how my “female characters all sounded alike”.

Did I manage to keep a straight face? Yes I did. Barely.

Next up: Part 2, in which my hilarious reveal falls completely flat…

    Ben Robbins | February 19th, 2024 | , , , | show comments