The story of the third member of the original Paladins is almost a Greek tragedy, and full elaboration would require a book. Instead we’ll have to content ourselves with a brief description and stat listing for the most ill-starred member of Silver City’s “hard luck hero” team of the 1980’s: Traveller.

Ft. Dietrich, Maryland is the site of the U.S. military’s biological warfare development center; many odd ideas have been hatched there. One of them was an experiment which crossbred South American killer bees with their gentler-natured American cousins; how this was to be used as a discriminatory weapon is unknown. Some of the bees escaped confinement; their hive was later tracked down and destroyed. Unfortunately a young hiker named Ralph Parker had already been a victim of the renegade hive; he was stung nearly to death by a killer bee attack (and, though he didn’t die, he did lose his left eye).

A month after his recovery, odd changes began occurring to Ralph: he developed a set of wings and discovered that he could teleport himself from place to place. Shortly thereafter he met two other local men with metahuman capabilities; the trio formed the hero team called The Paladins, with Parker calling himself Traveller (deliberately misspelled in honor of Parker’s favorite role-playing game).

The Paladins tended to suffer from bad luck, and Ralph’s luck was worst of all. He was injured in a number of battles and, in one particularly vicious incident, was killed; only the quick actions of The Brain in kit-bashing a one-shot revivification device saved Parker’s life. Upon Parker’s return to the living he discovered that he possessed a new power: Darkness Control.

The new power seemed to suit Traveller’s own darkening mood. He’d suffered “survivor guilt” ever since The Brain chose to save Traveller instead of Manta-Man in one of the team’s early adventures (see my blog post “Where were you when Manta-Man died?”), and was wracked with feelings of inferiority each time he was defeated in a fight (as he felt that he wasn’t “holding up his end” as a member of the team). His self-esteem took an additional nosedive after Luna joined the team and became involved in a relationship with Deep Freeze.

When Traveller later found the Arcturan Sword (an alien device of enormous power) and began to wield it, his personality worsened further: he became considerably more aggressive and arrogant, and he began to take the lives of villains the Paladins encountered. The team fractured as a result and, in a destructive battle, the other members of the team were forced to fight Traveller; at the battle’s climax, another of The Brain’s “one-shot” inventions banished Traveller to a parallel dimension. The battle, however, destroyed the team; Deep Freeze quit the team (and vanished into obscurity for more than two decades) immediately after the battle, The Brain joined the N.S.A., and Luna returned to the stars. The Paladins were gone; no metahuman team would take their place in Silver City until Deep Freeze’s reappearance at the head of Junior Justice in 2008.

Traveller’s present location is unknown.

TRAVELLER

IDENTITY: Ralph Parker
NAME: Traveller
SIDE: G
SEX: M
AGE: 22 (b.1960)
EXPERIENCE: 224
LEVEL: 1
TRAINING: Strength
POWERS

  • Wings – as in V&V 2e rules
  • Teleportation – as in V&V 2e rules
  • Darkness Control – sphere radius 9″
  • WEAKNESS: physical handicap (missing left eye) – no accuracy bonuses

WEIGHT: 200 lbs.
BASIC HITS: 4
AGILITY MOD:
STRENGTH: 6
ENDURANCE: 11
AGILITY: 11 (14)
INTELLIGENCE: 5
CHARISMA: 6   REACTIONS FROM GOOD: -2 FROM EVIL: +2
HIT MOD.: 0.832
HIT POINTS: 4
DAMAGE MOD.:
HEALING RATE: 1
ACCURACY:
POWER POINTS: 36
CARRYING CAPACITY: 65.8
BASIC HTH DAMAGE: 1d3
MOVEMENT RATES: 31″ ground/217″ flying
DET. HIDDEN: 4%
DET. DANGER: 10%
INVENTING POINTS: 0.5
CASH: $405
INVENTING %: 15%
LEGAL STATUS: Member of The Paladins
OTHER INFORMATION: Carries a normal sword (per V&V 2e rules)

The stats provided are for Traveller just after his return from the dead and well before the discovery of the Arcturan Sword; the sword he carries is a normal blade. Traveller should be role-played as the stereotypical “dumb jock” — agile but weak, essentially dumber than the proverbial bag of hammers, and jealous of everyone he perceives as smarter, better-looking, and more capable (which encompasses nearly everyone).

It’s crucial to bear in mind that no one in The Paladins ever tried to make Traveller feel inferior — it was quite the opposite: The Paladins regarded Traveller as family and acted in all regards as his “support group”.

Some people just can’t “get out of the way of their own ass” (as an old, dear friend of mine eloquently put it) and that description fits Traveller to a “t”. He was so consumed by envy and negativity that he couldn’t see that the rest of us were always there for him. And that’s the real “Greek tragedy” aspect of Ralph’s story.

Copyright 2010, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.

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