31 Days Character Creation Challenge Day 15: Leverage
Val is a nice, smiling lady of around sixty-seven. Looking at her, you wouldn't credit that she used to be a phone phreaker, wrote a few articles for Abbie Hoffmann's YIPL, and possibly even briefly dated someone who went on to found Apple. Her early background is pretty much a mystery, but she will cop to being of the Canuck persuasion.
Val soon discovered that life was so much more pleasant taking people's money than worrying about 'beating the Man'. Toll fraud, phone scams, Val did it all.
|Do not underestimate.|
When the internet came along, it was like a license to print money. For several years she managed to siphon off astronomical amounts of money by running involved long cons on Milinet. To this date, there are Pentagon and NSA people hunting for her, albeit without much luck.
When the network opened to commerce in the late 80s, Val considered just pulling off one big scam and retiring. It surprised even herself that she couldn't. There was something irresistibly tantalizing about pitting her mind against a problem, repeatedly proving that she was the smarter person.
The turning point for Valerie was when she encountered what seemed to be a New Age religion for the wealthy, the Cosmic Beauty Foundation. A thin coating of mumbo-jumbo about otherworldly intelligences seemed to cover nothing but the usual meditation and dieting crap.
Val posed as a contractor, and made a deal with the church to build them a church in Southern California. This was unsatisfyingly easy, Val thought, but the money was good.
She had taken the church for millions, pulled the plug and relocated (to be on the safe side) when some… thing tracked her down. She never found out how it found her, how it got into her hotel suite (kindly paid for by Kansas City Public Works Department), but there it was, leaking blood and liquid putrescence on the white carpet. The way Val tells it (and she rarely does), it was a female corpse, skinless and rotting, with teeth and eyes of rusted iron. It lunged, she ran.
Now, Val is no action woman, but she made it out of there. Two hotel security guards died at the hands of the thing. Val feels guilty about this. They didn't sign up for that, just showed up at work.
After that, Val went to ground. Deep. Fortunately she had a lot of money. Still, you need to go out some time, and it was in the check-out line at Piggly Wiggly she ran into Vance. Vance Burke. The man with the plan. The Midwest Moriarty. Smartest damn guy in the room and a legend in his own mind. Fucker.
Against her better judgment, Val took up his offer of a cup of coffee. After a slice of sweet potato pie he told his story. To her surprise, Val found herself telling hers.
“I'm putting together a team” Vance said. “The best and the baddest. Someone needs to protect the citizens against, shit, the darkness at the edge of town I guess”
Val balked at this. She wasn't going to be in no monster's sights! People are on their own, that's just a sad fact of life. Vance didn't care though, but hammered on the one place where he'd make any headway: her intellectual pride. Who else was there to protect the little people? Who had the brains for that job? No authorities, that was for damn sure.
Aware that this was crass manipulation, but also true, Valerie accepted the offer. “I'm apparently old enough to work for a charity now”, she said. “Just get me a sensible print dress and a dozen cats while you're at it”.
Today, Valerie is the crew's hacker and all-round tech lady. She has had to pick up some forensic and medical technology, but that's just an interesting challenge. She's also been in harm's way a lot more than she's used to, and she really doesn't like it. Physical altercations are certainly not her thing. “I am not, nor will I ever be, 'street'”.
In person, Val is pleasant, if a little reserved. She can easily turn on a low-key charm if necessary, just don't ask her to play a fuddy-duddy old granny.
Even though Val is on the front line of the fight against evil, Val is not a hero by any stretch. She is still the person who conned people and organizations out of their money, and she continues to do as needed. After all she's providing a public service of the highest importance. Don't depend on her sweet nature.
And the corpse-thing? There was this time in Pittsburgh where she thought she saw it, or one of its sisters sniffing around the dumpsters at the motel they were working out of. It scared her so bad that she considered just running. She didn't, and nothing came of it. There is no doubt in her mind that it's still out there though.
Distinctions: Smarter Than You Dear, Favorite Aunt, Old-School
Specialities: Department of Defense (Hacker), Counterculture Cred (Grifter)
Fake Money, Real Problems*
Most finance is done on computers these days, which means you can shut it down pretty easily.
Activation: You are making a Hacker roll involving the Mark’s money or resources. Spend a Plot Point for an additional effect.
Effect: Add a d8 to your roll. If you spend a Plot Point, nullify one Trait of a Supporting Character
that relates to his wealth or material resources, for one scene only.
You have an artist’s eye, and you’re quick about it.
Activation: Use your Hacker die in a roll involving creation of forged artwork, documents, or photographs, including ID cards.
Effect: You complete the task in a fraction of the usual time: hours rather than days, or minutes rather than hours.
*This Talent is not in the Leverage corebook book, but was created by the mighty Steve Darlington. Thanks, Steve!