You didn't really think I could write a daily post about the upcoming release of Third Edition Villains & Vigilantes without dredging up The Acrobatic Flea did you?
I've tracked down (from a 2010 post) the earliest surviving character sheets for The Acrobatic Flea to share with you lucky people.
The Flea was, of course, my most enduring Villains & Vigilantes character from back in the day when Steve ran V&V for us almost non-stop.
I'm thinking this version of the Flea dates back to 1983/84, certainly early in his career - although he had already lost a leg at this stage (and had it replaced with a bionic version, courtesy of his long-time nemesis Doctor Bionics - there was a bomb hidden in it initially!).
Although the original intention of V&V was to play "yourself" with superpowers, I see from the sheet that this Flea was 26 years old (and seven months), although I was only probably about 18 at the time.
From faint scribbles on another sheet I can also see I'd rated myself (presumably at age 17) with the following statistics -
This contrasts quite strikingly with the nine-year-older Flea (by now gifted with increased Agility through his superpowers).
Charisma: 19 - I suspect this purely in his superheroic persona, and aided by his ultraloyal fan club!
Steve had us roll saves for the breadth of our fan adoration (lower the better, on percentile dice) and I rolled a '01'.
The Flea also, for some reason, had a souped-up car - The Fleamobile (ground speed maximum 400mph, capable to jet-powered flight to a maximum speed of 625mph).
I only remember using it in, maybe, one adventure.
We loved houseruling V&V for our games and so introduced percentage skills and a new combat system (borrowing heavily from Champions, Steve's second favourite supers games after V&V) that did away with the power vs power combat matrix in the rule book.
Combat, as written in the old V&V rules, was too 'fiddly' for our tastes and so we got rid of the tables and introduced a system, as far as I can remember, of "Offensive Combat Values" and "Defensive Combat Values" for each character.
The Flea was a member of a group called The Challengers, which included The Atomic Bull (Steve), Hurricane & Brutus (Pete's weather maestro and his robot sidekick) and Redfist. I have no idea who Redfist was, unless he was, maybe, one of Nick's characters, but I have no recollection of that character at all.
The Flea and the Atomic Bull also belonged to The Patrollers, probably our most enduring superhero group - certainly the one I have most records of.
The third leg of our milking stool of power, Pete, had a habit of changing his character with great frequency before he finally arrived at the partnership of Hurricane And Brutus. In the space of the first two issues of the HeroPress fanzine (when the game was still fuelled by V&V and before it went postal), his character changed from Blackhand to Jaguar to Wildcat!
The characters I remember Nick playing were the android Ace Of Hearts and 'Nick Law' - still one of my favourite characters to come out of the game, our world's answer to Doc Savage. Although Nick was never so into comics as the rest of us were, he had a name that simply lent itself to pulp adventure.
The sheet that listed the members of The Challengers also included this (see right) very unflattering self-portrait of how I saw myself aged 26 (and seven months).
I'm clearly no artist - but obviously slightly prophetic as I foreshadowed my actual tattoo (in reality a panther on my left upper arm, rather than these bizarre Popeyesque scrawls).
I think the only thing I got right was the hair cut and stubble...
According to various annotations around the sheets, The Flea (i.e. me) was 5' 5" and weighed in at 116lb (I've gained three inches of height and a considerable amount of poundage since then!).
The notes round off with the earliest sketch of the Acrobatic Flea costume, although - again sabotaged by my own lack of artistic talent - only the face mask design really bears any resemblance to the current incarnation, while the rest looks more like a boiler suit with a drawing of a small bird or a fairy on the chest!
However, what I really like about all of this, no matter how corny a lot of it was and how much was retconned out of later versions of the character, was the intense passion the game engendered in us all.
For those years we virtually lived Villains & Vigilantes and, as I have said many times before, without that game there would be no HeroPress.
The Villains & Vigilantes 3.0: Mighty Protectors Kickstarter is in full swing, so really you should hop on over and invest in the return of this fantastic game.
It's what The Acrobatic Flea would want you to do!