Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

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Re: Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

Postby EricoBard » Mon Mar 06, 2017 4:19 pm

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Hard Drive- A low-grade technology thief and hacker who made do by robbing ATMs in his early days, "Hard Drive" (Real name unknown) made the leap up from petty theft to full on felonies when he got his hands on the piece of technology which would make him infamous; The Surge Coat, or Surge Suit.

It is unknown where he got his hands on such a valuable piece of potentially dangerous equipment, but he first put it to use in the show by going after highly classified military blueprints for next generation weaponry. His next appearance in Metal Urgency had him in control of a next-gen Enforcers Tank, "The Behemoth" under development at Pumadyme, equipped with energy shielding on par with Dark Kat's Fear Ship; On par, because it took only one Megavolt Missile against each defensive energy shield to let the SWAT Kats gain the upper hand. In his second appearance, he was without his Surge Coat, indicating that it had been confiscated. However, on his third appearance in Season 2, he was once again in possession of it.

Throughout the show, Hard Drive's motivations are more larcenous than they are based on power or control. His plan for the stolen military secrets were merely to sell them and profit, rather than to use them for his own benefit. His appearance with the Behemoth Tank's hijacking is unexplained, although it can be inferred from dialogue that he meant to sell it after taking it for a joyride. And in SWAT Kats Unplugged, his motivation for taking the weapons scrambler from Dr. Ohm was to give him an edge on any pursuers during his latest operation to steal gold from a moving train.

On his own, Hard Drive can be a particularly irritating nuisance when in possession of either his Surge Coat or whatever high-tech gear he has on hand. The Coat gives him the ability to transmute himself into living energy, allowing him to travel at significantly slower speeds than regular electricity along power lines while also giving him the ability to access various electronic systems and circumvent firewall protections. Given its high energy status, it also grants him use of electricity as an offensive weapon. Without his Surge Coat or other gear, Hard Drive is a somewhat emaciated kat, typical of the "Skinny Nerd" he likely started out as, given his hacker background. His intelligence is certainly high, and he's ego-driven enough to favor one-liners and witty dialogue when engaged in his criminal enterprises.

Whether by personal choice or a lack of motivation, Hard Drive seems to hold no higher ambitions than his next big score. Unlike the other supervillains the SWAT Kats go up against, he has no grand plans for taking over Megakat City, be it overtly or through control of its criminal underground. This makes him something of a free agent among the power players, and he seems to actively avoid becoming entangled with other supercriminals. The one time he was pulled into an arrangement, it was with Dark Kat, and his fear at their first meeting was quite visible.

Left unexplained is his backstory; what was his real name? Hard Drive appears to be his "Hacker Name", the moniker he would have used online and during illegal endeavors. Additionally, given that his penchant is for information theft rather than engineering, where did he get his hands on the Surge Coat? Was that why he struck at the Defense Center's databanks first, returning to the scene of a previous hit in order to see what else he might get his hands on?

Whatever the story is behind Hard Drive, he remains an interesting individual to consider, and a useful one-off menace. In a future continually more dominated by an internet and cyberwarfare, Hard Drive might adapt to become one of the most damaging threats to Megakat City, were he to constantly continue his thieving ways and undermining the city's defense. Rome, after all, did not collapse from an external thread, but fell apart from within.

What to Avoid With Hard Drive: Hard Drive prefers to work alone, being either unwilling to share the spoils of his efforts with others, or perhaps considering himself in a different class from the other villains. The only person he has worked with was Dark Kat, and even then, it was done unwillingly, even if he did eventually come to enjoy the possibility of hijacking the Turbokat and shutting the SWAT Kats down. Ever since that disastrous outing, Hard Drive has continued to maintain himself as a solo act only.



NEXT Time: The Pastmaster
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Re: Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

Postby Cait » Tue Mar 07, 2017 3:38 am

Really love this one about Hard Drive HardDriveIcon
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Re: Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

Postby EricoBard » Tue Mar 07, 2017 7:31 pm

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The Pastmaster- Take one part practicing magician, add a one-sided love interest with a side of megalomania, then add 800 years of imprisonment, and you are left with the bundle of chaos that is The Pastmaster. Among the SWAT Kats' many foes, The Pastmaster is unique in both his madness and his method.

The Pastmaster's backstory is something which the show has never touched on, and is something which hasn't been of apparent interest to SWAT Kats Fanfiction writers either, at least not to give him a thorough explanation. Thus, we do not know what sort of kat he was in life, nor even what his real name was, or where/how he trained in the Arts.

Hailing from an age where high magic was still a part of the world, The Pastmaster is a short-statured creature known as a Lich; a specialized form of undead that exists as a withered husk of their former selves and lives eternally thanks to the use of a Phylactery. This is confirmed by his corporeal form, as his radius and ulna are clearly visible in the show, and lacking any muscular or visceral attachments. In The Pastmaster's case, it is very likely that his Phylactery, the object which contains his immortal soul and is the key to both his power and his defeat, is in fact the golden pocketwatch he is never without. The Pastmaster uses the Pocketwatch as the primary conduit for his magic; When deprived of it, as he was briefly in A Bright and Shiny Future, his combat capabilities are severely restricted, making him little better than the "Ugly Troll" he is commonly scorned as.

The Pastmaster has two primary motivations; The first being to bring the 'modern world' to its knees and restore the Medieval age he is accustomed to. The second is his fanatical obsession with Queen Callista of Megalith City, a powerful magic user in her own right, whom he desired to make his wife. This was the focus of his efforts in the past, and during The Deadly Pyramid, it led to him kidnapping Deputy Mayor Calico Briggs, who closely resembles her distant ancestor. It is very likely that Queen Callista was the one who eventually succeeded in capturing The Pastmaster and entombing him in the sarcophagus he was found in 800 years later.

He has used his pocketwatch to fire energy beams, to energize long-dead creatures, and also to conjure up creatures out of raw materials, such as making a dragonsnake in A Bright and Shiny Future to capture the Turbokat and force the SWAT Kats into another time portal. While his pocketwatch grants him the ability to open up time portals large enough to draw in the Turbokat, the Pastmaster's more dangerous abilities require the use of additional magical artifacts. The first one he went for was his Tome of Time, which had the spells and necessary augmentations needed to 'force' the summoning of Megalith City over its modern day counterpart. Thankfully, his defeat at the hands of the SWAT Kats resulted in the loss of the Tome of Time, preventing a future repeat of his mad scheme. In Season 2, he would acquire the mystical Headdress of Katchu-Picchu, which allowed him to summon the ancient pyramid and gain control of the enormous giant mummies within. Deprived of the more thorough means of conquest which his Tome of Time would have allowed, he opted for a blunt-force approach in The Deadly Pyramid, with no greater success. During his tenure as the primary foe of Megalith City in the distant past, he also had access to an enormous enchanted kettle that allowed him to summon up mythical monsters via clay surrogates and which also gave him Scrying abilities.

The Pastmaster is unique among the SWAT Kats' Rogues Gallery because of his methods; he is the only recurring villain they have faced that is capable of using magic. (There's also the one-off Madkat, but it could be argued he did not use magic so much as he was possessed and used as a conduit for the jester in the box relic.) Key among his accomplishments, however brief, is that The Pastmaster has succeeded not once, but THREE times in sucking the SWAT Kats from their proper era (Although it was purely by accident that he did so in Bride of The Pastmaster, which he immediately regretted, as they disrupted his plans rather readily even with limited weaponry). The first time he did so, they managed to fly back through thanks to the open time portal (Possibly kept open due to the immense chronal spell energies he was conjuring for his ritual at the time), and the third time he meant to seal them in the future, but was denied first by the Metallikats and then thanks to Razor's quick thinking and reflexes. Were he to conjure up a portal, send them through, and then SEAL it before they could make good their escape, he would finally have succeeded where every other villain has failed.

The Pastmaster, like Hard Drive, is not one who plays well with others. His own brand of madness runs at cross-currents with the other villains, even more so than Dark Kat and Viper, who would presumably like to keep some aspects of modern technology around were they to assume command. (Viper's affinity for Biochemical warfare would imply he needs SOME of the modern conveniences for his experiments, after all!) Only once has The Pastmaster worked with another villain, reviving the Metallikats from the evidence locker to create a Dystopian future to strand the SWAT Kats in. Following their betrayal, it is unlikely that the lich will ever trust anyone ever again; but then, why should he? The Pastmaster is the stereotypical lich in many ways, especially when it comes to his attitude. If a lich ever agrees to work in concert with someone else, it is only because they do it for their own benefit, not some nobler or higher goal or ideal.

Powerful as he is, the Pastmaster can be paradoxically short-sighted. For a creature to whom time is a meaningless factor, he never plays the long game. All of his schemes are abrupt, violent affairs; Instead of doing the Megalith City conjuring ritual on the night of a thunderstorm where he would attract little attention, he performed it in broad daylight and summoned up hordes of dinosaurs that ensured a dramatic military response, including the presence of the SWAT Kats. His performance during the Katchu-Picchu incident was slightly more successful, but there again, he relied on untested weaponry, failing to take note of the mummy's achilles heel (Or Achilles Visor, in their case) prior to sending them out to wreak havoc on Megakat City. And instead of merely sending the SWAT Kats through the time portal to Metallikat City and then sealing it behind their jet, he insisted on going through as well to gloat at their defeat, which resulted in him being stranded as well.

Unless he is restricted to Dr. Who rules (He cannot interfere or travel to times where he has taken previous action, etc), The Pastmaster would likely have far greater success were he to operate at a much more low-key level, slowly building up resources, perhaps starting an evil cult or two dedicated to him, controlling countries and then corporations through subservient thralls, setting up dominoes to trip over multiple crises all at once so that there could be no full response to whatever mad scheme of his he wished to see succeed without a risk of failure. As he has already proven that he can go back in time to the Medieval era (How else would The Pastmaster recognize the SWAT Kats, who he would not meet for another 800 years?), it would be the simplest thing possible to go back before his past failures. Were he to operate by Gargoyles chronological rules, he could literally be in two or more places at once, even have conversations and team up with himself. Were this an impossibility, and were he further limited by taking no actions that would jeopardize his prior actions or else risk the disintegration of the space/time continuum ala Back To The Future, he would still be able to go back just after the death of Queen Callista, when he was buried and entombed, and undertake a series of actions going forward 800 plus years which would see him rise to prominence shortly after the scene of all his past failures.

That he fails to do this could be blamed on the format of the show itself; half hour episodes, each crisis resolved resulting in a return to the baseline with no overall changes. However, this is the easy explanation that fails to take into account his psych profile. Given how he reacts, how he rambles on, and how he exudes madness in his plans and his dialogue, we might consider ourselves fortunate that The Pastmaster, as of the end of Season 2, shows no signs in changing his core personality, and the flaws therein that forever make him someone with all the time in the world, and nothing to show for it.

Or who knows? Maybe he really did finally die in The Deadly Pyramid. One can dream of the possibility, however unlikely it is. As the show's particular scheme of space/time interactions has never been firmly established, we will likely never be rid of the Pastmaster. In this timeline, at least.

-------------------------------

What To Avoid With The Pastmaster: Essentially, the only ironclad rule here is to keep The Pastmaster as a solo villain, because he's a lich and liches do not play well with others. However, the one part of him that isn't very lich-like is his emotional state, his brash actions and impatience that are uncharacteristic of a creature to whom time and death hold no threat. If one wishes to adhere to the canon interpretation, The Pastmaster prefers grandiose acts and gestures, and has an impatient attitude that stands at cross-purposes from his desires. In short, The Pastmaster is his own worst enemy. That aspect of himself, the folly of hubris and pride, is a long-standing part of storytelling in mythology and the ancient epics of Beowulf and Odysseus, and is reflected in The Pastmaster as well.

Perhaps The Pastmaster could be capable of more, but writing as such requires the Fanfic writer to walk away from his canon psych profile and assume that after enough failures, he would be capable of standing back and realizing just how poorly he's been playing the game. That risks the sometimes infamous label of "Fix Fic", which if done well can be marvelous as a what-if, and if done poorly, merely seems like rage venting on the part of the author.

Besides. Among the pantheon of villains, there is already one great master strategist...the most chilling villain of all. The one treated by both the Fanfic community and the Tremblays and company as the absolute worst of the Rogues. And there is no more fitting villain to conclude the Villains Review of "Staying In Character" with.

Next Time: DARK KAT.
Last edited by EricoBard on Sat Jul 08, 2017 8:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

Postby Kooshmeister » Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:02 pm

One thing to note about the Pastmaster is that in his first episode he lets Jack and Tom escape ("Let them go!") after they've been disarmed. I'm not saying he was being merciful, exactly, just pragmatic; the decision ame after they'd already climbed over the cemetery wall and were simply too much trouble to continue going after.

He'll hurt or kill anyone who gets in his way, but once they've ceased to be a threat or are otherwise retreating, he, generally, seems content to just leave them be. He's very mission oriented and doesn't seem to go out of his way to be evil just for the sake of being, not because he's honorable, but because it just isn't worth his time (no pun intended). This would seem to be contradicted by The Deadly Pyramid where he sics the mummies on Randall, and then Dr. Sinian and Henson, but that situation was different from the one in The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice. There, he didn't particularly care who knew about him (he was pretty brazen, all in all), and had no larger goal beyond "find book," something that the grave robbers escaping wouldn't affect.

But in The Deadly Pyramid, he has a definite plan in mind, and may want the element of surprise; allowing the archaeological team to escape risks warning Megakat City of the coming mummy army, so he has to kill them. Interesting, he doesn't seem to pay much attention to them until they enter the pyramid (nor did he seem to recognize Dr. Sinian), I'm betting that this is because they knew about the pyramid, but not the mummies, which was the big surprise. Possibly his original idea was to resurrect the mummies, then continue on to the city before anyone at the dig site could raise an alarm.

But Randall forced his hand by finding out about the mummies, and then Sinian and Henson found out, too, so the Pastmaster immediately leaped into "Kill them all!" mode in an effort to contain the situation, which became moot once the SWAT Kats and the Enforcers showed up a few minutes later for reasons unrelated to Sinian and co., after which, you'll note, the Pastmaster forgets all about them - the cat (kat?) is out of the bag, so there's no reason to continue trying to kill them.
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Re: Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

Postby EricoBard » Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:09 am

You confuse me most days, you know that Koosh? The points you are making do not seem to change my Psych profile of him in any way. So he considers most kats a non-threat; that's hardly a surprise, given his egomania. And he moves to address a nuisance; who wouldn't? He's a busy guy! He doesn't need some idiot with a flash camera interrupting him while he's manipulating delicate control spells to get his mummy army up and running. You give his fear too much credit.

Just because he reacts to immediate problems does not make him any less impetuous, or unable to play the long game. Were he truly concerned with Dr. Sinian's expedition to Katchu Picchu, he would have eliminated the threat of their interference from the start. What was to stop him from sneaking in at night and slicing their throats open, or just blasting them to ash with energy blasts? But no; he arrives in dramatic fashion with the headdress, ignores his surroundings, and continues on as normal. He had more control of the situation in Bride of the Pastmaster, when he at least was able to conjure up enough of an army of monsters to capture Queen Callista. His capture of Deputy Mayor Briggs in The Deadly Pyramid was sheer luck and happenstance; her being in the wrong time at the right place.

The Pastmaster acts rashly, is impatient, and fails to take advantage of his nature of a lich for best effect. As they say, Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. We should be glad he's short-sighted, and, considering the points I think you were trying to make, reactionary with a side of dismissive and lich-superior.

Anyhoo. No changes to The Pastmaster's IC Bio required; I'm moving on to Dark Kat.

-Erico
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Re: Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

Postby MoDaD » Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:06 pm

EricoBard wrote: The Pastmaster is unique among the SWAT Kats' Rogues Gallery because of his methods; he is the only villain they have faced that is capable of using magic.

Would it be more accurate to say he's the first villain they encounter who can use magic? Unless we're completely disregarding later characters such as Madkat, the Red Lynx, and Volcanus (and later Katrina Moorkroft and company if we include that as an example of canonical intent), as I know you're not concentrating on one-off characters for this show bible concept, but one of the major themes of SWAT Kats that I always thought was neat was the whole technology-grit VS the supernatural. While the Pastmaster is easily the most noteworthy in that regard, I've always thought that, from a canonical perspective, one of the reasons the SWAT Kats are different from the Enforcers is their unique (and often inexplicable) ability to go up against villains who use magic, and identifying the Pastmaster as the sole villain character who encompasses that seems a bit misleading. But, I could be wrong :lol:
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Re: Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

Postby marhawkman » Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:17 pm

And now I have to wonder how long the Pastmaster has actually been alive. Also while he's obviously undead, we don't know how the rules for that work in this universe. Which could mean we don't actually know what kind of undead he is either.

But yeah, he treats that watch the same way a wizard treat their favorite wand.

Speaking of which..... pocket watches are not a 12th century item. I don't think they were invented until the 17th or 18th... at least IRL. Maybe this means that he met Callista after traveling to the past from his native time?

About Feral:
If he was to ever become truly desperate, I could see him bending the rules regarding the definition of Enforcer tactics and equipment. The Blue Manx, for example, was a prototype for a new class of Enforcer hardware meant to rival that of the SWAT Kats and Dark Kat's tech. Also, while I agree that he wouldn't work with villains, he might be willing to use tech confiscated from villains. At least as long as he can do so with the villain in question behind bars.
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Re: Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

Postby Kooshmeister » Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:07 pm

EricoBard wrote:The points you are making do not seem to change my Psych profile of him in any way.


Where did I claim I was trying to do that? If anything, I was attempting to contribute to what you'd written by pointing out an aspect of the character that I feel is sometimes overlooked, his pragmatism in regards to killing people vs. that of other villains'.

EricoBard wrote:You give his fear too much credit.


I was just trying to come up with sensible reasons for why he'd be unconcerned with one group of ordinary kats (Jack and Tom) and try to pursue and kill another (Dr. Sinian and co.).

EricoBard wrote:Just because he reacts to immediate problems does not make him any less impetuous, or unable to play the long game.


I never claimed otherwise.

EricoBard wrote:Were he truly concerned with Dr. Sinian's expedition to Katchu Picchu, he would have eliminated the threat of their interference from the start.


My point was he only showed any concern for them at all after they'd found out about the mummies. Up until then, they were a non-issue for him. So I was trying to reconcile this with his earlier ignoring them, i.e., that he only tries to kill them when they interfere with/become a threat to his plans in some way.

In any event, I didn't disagree with anything you said in your psych profile.

EricoBard wrote:Anyhoo. No changes to The Pastmaster's IC Bio required; I'm moving on to Dark Kat.


I didn't ask for any. TboneSwearCait

MoDaD wrote:Volcanus


While Volcanus can breathe fire and form fireballs with his hands, Shard can do similar things with crystals; is he a magic user? Despite the scientific origins of his condition and abilities, his powers basically amount to magic.

marhawkman wrote:And now I have to wonder how long the Pastmaster has actually been alive.


We also don't know whether he looked the way he does now when first buried, or whether his current physical appearance is eight-hundred years' worth of being entombed.

marhawkman wrote:Speaking of which..... pocket watches are not a 12th century item. I don't think they were invented until the 17th or 18th... at least IRL. Maybe this means that he met Callista after traveling to the past from his native time?


While it isn't canon, I've seen described on an old site as "an undead clockmaker from the Middle Ages." So while pocketwatches aren't from that time period in our history, they may be in the SWAT Kats universe. Remember, this is the same universe that uses World War I-era biplanes in its version of World War II.
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Re: Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

Postby MoDaD » Wed Mar 08, 2017 8:35 pm

Kooshmeister wrote:While Volcanus can breathe fire and form fireballs with his hands, Shard can do similar things with crystals; is he a magic user? Despite the scientific origins of his condition and abilities, his powers basically amount to magic.


Volcanus, aside from having the "fire demon" title, is established as a supernatural entity due to the exposition by the guy in the festive shirt who warns the construction workers, Manx and Mr. Young, etc. about disturbing the talisman stone - a talisman being by definition something that has magical properties. This isn't a 100%, bulletproof conclusion, but I think it's enough evidence to assert that Volcanus is a literal demon in addition to being a giant monster of the week.

Shard's transformation is strictly rooted in "science" as it's the unintended result of Dr. Greenbox's Gemkat 6000 mining device when it gets bashed with a rock by the user and subsequently explodes. Now, if Shard came back in a future episode and sought out a means of transformation (as Lance Falk had intended him to), but, he chose a method rooted in the supernatural, then that'd be a different story.

That's also an interesting parallel you draw - makes me wonder if Volcanus could've used some dialogue...but that might've required a full episode :lol:
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Re: Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

Postby Kooshmeister » Wed Mar 08, 2017 9:00 pm

I dunno, he could've still had lines with the screentime he was allotted. :lol:
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