So you’re a villain now? Let’s see if you survive the experience. Fallen Hero: Retribution is a work of interactive fiction by Malin Rydén, and the second installment in the Fallen Hero series of bad decision/identity porn/PTSD simulators. It stars a telepathic, bodyhopping ex-hero trying to balance the challenges of their new villainous career with their personal life, their other personal life, their other other personal life, their mental health, and the past that threatens to catch up to them. For those just tuning in, we played the first game in this thread. You'll probably want to read that for context! About this LP This is a choose-your-own-adventure game with regular choices, all of which will be decided by readers! Vote for your preferred option(s) in the thread (or by hitting "Agree" on someone else's vote if you're not feeling talky). If you have no opinion/can't decide and don't want me waiting on your vote, you can let me know by saying so or by silently hitting "like" on the latest update. (You don't have to, but it helps me keep track.) Once everyone has had the chance to vote, or a single option has majority support, I'll move forward with the thread's choice. In case of a tie, I'll nudge the thread to see if people want to tiebreak themselves or leave it up to me/a coin flip. Content notes Below the cut are a few blanket content warnings for the game and details on what I currently do/don't plan to warn for. (If you have questions or would like to request I warn for something specific, please feel free to ask here or DM me!) Spoiler: Content warnings We play a telepathic supervillain with a dark past. Expect consistently high levels of the following, which will generally not be warned for: • Mind reading/control/manipulation/alteration • PTSD symptoms ranging in severity from "moderate" to "borderline psychological horror" • The kind of dubious ethics and consent issues inherent in deceiving everyone you know Suicide/suicidal ideation: Part of the backstory centrally involves suicide, and the player character in this playthrough suffers from suicidal ideation. I'll try to warn for anything bigger than a passing mention. Self-harm: Past self-harm is occasionally discussed or mentioned. I'll try to warn for anything bigger than a passing mention. Medical/institutional abuse: Depicted in some scenes, evoked or alluded to in many others. I will try to warn for scenes that focus on it, but references and implications may go unmentioned. Violence: While most descriptions are more matter-of-fact than gratuitous, this game isn't shy about depicting serious, sometimes gruesome injury/pain. I'll warn for the worst instances. Sexual content: Some romance routes contain optional sex scenes. The scenes themselves are short and not super detailed—think roughly an AO3 M rating—and generally offer a fade-to-black option. I figure if we end up hitting one, I'll check whether anyone wants to play through it, and if so will a) do so under spoiler tags and b) include the text of the fade-to-black option afterwards so that anyone who wants to skip it can follow along. Resources & Recaps The following two posts will contain story and gameplay reference info for anyone who needs a refresher. (Character and story details include spoilers up to the latest update.) Our Stats Fallen Hero has a stat screen that records various character details. Since it's accessible at all times in game, I include it under a cut at the end of each update (with new changes highlighted in bold). Viewing is optional: this is a story-focused game, so stats are mainly used to make the story responsive to player choice. There's no way to lose the game or narrative bias for success over failure. Spoiler: Sample stat screen with explanations CLASSIFIED Subject: Anathema Secret Identity: Josie Jacobs Gender: Non-binary. Description: A tall mixed person in their thirties with brown eyes and short and styled curly dark brown hair. They have a short, scruffy beard and mustache. Standard of Living: Josie is well-off. Josie is living in a comfortable apartment. Josie Jacobs is a seasoned, tech-savvy tactician. That last part shows traits we picked in Book 1: Josie is a tech whiz and a better tactician than fighter. Physical Status Stamina: You are rested. Willpower: You feel calm. Injuries: You are fine. Stamina is physical fatigue, willpower is mental strain and focus, and injuries should be self-explanatory. All generally recover once we've had time to rest, though serious wounds may take longer to heal. Telepathy Strength of Mind: 50% ████████████████████ Subtle Manipulations: 74% ██████████████▒█████ These measure the strength of our telepathy; you can think of them as roughly equivalent to Strength+Defense and Skill+Dexterity, respectively. Strength of Mind is raw psychic power, enabling us to wield our powers over greater range and through tougher defenses as well as strengthening our own shields. Subtle Manipulations is subterfuge and finesse, increasing our skill at tricky precision work while making our mental intrusions harder to detect and others' easier to spot. Anathema Anathema runs a criminal syndicate. Infamy: 47% / Obscurity: 53% █████████▒██████████ A summary of our public reputation. If we were known to be a telepath or a murderer, that would be mentioned here. Armored Suit Anathema's suit is a shadow with a mirror for a face, revealing nothing. The cape conceals and obfuscates what's underneath. In its left hand, the suit has a neutered colony of nanovores, functionally similar to having disintegration touch. The suit is also equipped with telepathic boosters and enhanced speed as well as jump-jets. Armor Status Need Repair: 0% / Fine: 100% ████████████████████ Leadership: 28% █████▒██████████████ Leadership measures how good we are at directing teamwork. Used mostly, though not exclusively, with our crew. (I have no idea why it's all the way down here.) Psychological Profile Arrogance: 18% / Anonymity: 82% ███▒████████████████ Ruthlessness: 33% / Empathy: 67% ██████▒█████████████ Daring: 50% / Caution: 50% ████████████████████ The game uses these stats to gauge overall trends in our mindset and characterization. They affect internal monologue, how we come off to others, and how well-suited we are to certain tactics. Arrogance/Anonymity weighs the desire to be someone vs. the need to avoid drawing attention. Higher Arrogance brings greater presence and the confidence to bask in it; higher Anonymity prioritizes staying under the radar. Ruthlessness/Empathy represents our willingness to hurt people. Higher Ruthlessness means fewer qualms about using or harming others; higher Empathy increases misgivings and efforts to minimize harm. Daring/Caution tracks our inclination to take risks vs. play it safe, particularly in a fight. Higher Daring encourages springing into action quickly and decisively; higher Caution keeps us defensive and on alert. Back in the day, Sidestep was known as a vigilante working with the Rangers. Main Puppet Name: Barbara Puppet Status: She is fine, and has no serious wounds. Description: A tall white woman in her twenties with blue eyes and long straight blond hair. Allies and Enemies This section lists relationships between us (in our various identities) and other major characters. Most entries have two parts: a label that defines the nature of the relationship, and a number that measures either how close a connection both parties feel or how positive an impression the other character has of us. Charge Josie's Relationship with Ortega: Friend and ally. Ortega's Connection with Josie: 83% ████████████████▒███ Ortega thinks Anathema has made some good points. Barbara's Relationship with Ortega: Flirting. Ortega's Connection with Barbara: 59% ███████████▒████████ Dr. Mortum Barbara's Relationship with Dr. Mortum: friend. Mortum's Connection with Barbara: 63% ████████████▒███████ Lady Argent Josie's Relationship with Lady Argent: Distant. Lady Argent's Impression of Josie: 1% ▒███████████████████ Lady Argent thinks Anathema is a cheater. Marshal Steel Josie's Relationship with Steel: Former ally. Steel's Connection with Josie: 24% ████▒███████████████ Marshal Steel thinks Anathema needs to be brought in. Herald Josie's Relationship with Herald: Distant. Herald's Connection with Josie: 20% ████████████████████ Herald thinks Anathema is a villain. Other Characters (Note that most stat changes have diminishing returns at higher/lower values—e.g., the same stat boost might grant +9 when the stat is at 10% and +1 when it's at 90%. Stat checks account for this: the game's most extreme checks use a threshold of 80/20, and most are lower.) Notable Characters & Groups Spoiler: Characters Self & Close Associates Our Hero Villain Civilian identity Josie Jacobs. Now better known as the villain Anathema, an up-and-coming mob boss taking the name of a late hero. In our younger, more innocent days we fought alongside heroes as the masked vigilante Sidestep, though our identity and powers were known to only a select few close allies. Now, years after our supposed demise in the Heartbreak incident, we've returned to Los Diablos in secret to plot our revenge against the people who hurt us. While an untimely encounter with an old friend has revealed our survival, we've kept our new career—and the fact that we still have powers—secret. Telepath whose powers have grown dramatically since our hero days: in addition to reading and influencing minds, we've learned to seize direct control of others' bodies. 50% paranoia by body weight, skilled at blending in and avoiding notice even without the added help of telepathy, though we draw the line at remembering what a gender is. Certified angsty loner who only makes friends by accident. Drinks too much coffee and gets too little sleep (the latter's more to do with the nightmares). Long-time sufferer of suicidal ideation, but we're handling it. Barbara Our main puppet, a comatose woman we "rescued" from a hospital two years ago. So named because she's essentially our Barbie doll (and looks the part). At night, we do our dealing with the criminal underworld in her easily-controlled body while our own sleeps, acting as our own henchwoman. Though she lacks our telepathy, we've learned to leverage her good looks into confidence and charm to get our way. Trains in aikido for emergencies. The Rat King Five psychic rat brains in a jar. Stolen from Psychopathor's cannon, which they used their formidable telepathic awareness to aim; now employed in our armor to provide telepathic support and nanovore wrangling. Possess at least basic sentience, though it's unclear how much they truly understand other minds; if nothing else, they seem to like us. Anathema's Crew Our core team of henchmen, trusted with access to our base. Along with Barbara, our second-in-command who is definitely not us, the team consists of: Rosie Boost who scrapped her villain career as The Riveter in favor of more reliable hench work. Rescued Barbara once and has since become her main underworld contact—and something uncomfortably close to a friend. Pelayo Mod. Former Wolfpack mercenary who quit after a job got his team ambushed by the Special Directive. (Oops?) Oldest and most experienced of the group; calls the shots in our absence. Seems to have slept with Ward and is awkward about it. Ward Mod. Canadian. Former Wolfpack mercenary who quit with Pelayo. Seems to have slept with Pelayo and isn't awkward about it. Nehal Driver. Not boosted or modded. Youngest of the group and eager to prove herself. ZaZa Sniper. Largely unmodded. A good shot, but a bit trigger-happy. Other Villains & Criminals Dr. Mortum Eccentric but well-mannered mad scientist with a French accent and an interest in forbidden tech. While we have our doubts about the former, her undeniable skill with the latter led us, as Barbara, to commission our new armor from her. Though we initially encouraged her attraction to Barbie for pragmatic reasons, we've come to like her and admitted we'd rather be friends. Thinks Barbie's boss is bad for her and she should get out while she can. Joe Owner of Joes, the hive of scum and villainy where Barbara does our villainous networking. Employs strict security, including against telepathy, to ensure customers' privacy. Psychopathor Dangerous villain we almost died fighting back in the day. Huge, heavily armed and armored, and as sane as his name implies. Apparently captured by the Special Directive after we sicced them on him. The Catastrofiend Dangerous villain that nearly killed Ortega back in the day. Big, bladed, and as nightmarish as its name implies. The Void Yet another villain we and Ortega narrowly survived back in the day. Heroes The Los Diablos Rangers Heroes deputized by the federal government to keep order. Wear blue for team spirit. On rocky terms with local law enforcement. We worked with them back in our hero days, though we were never an actual member. Charge Long-time member and former marshal of the Rangers, better known to us as our old partner Julia Ortega. Modded after an accident in her youth; now boasts basic mobility, enhanced strength and speed, lightning powers, and endless medical debt. Immune to telepathy as a side effect of her epilepsy. We worked closely with her in our hero days and, despite our best efforts, succumbed to her persistent friendliness; now, after a chance encounter, she's managed to drag us back into that friendship. Also had a surprise meet-cute with Barbara when they turned out to attend the same dojo and now they're flirting, we guess? We're pretty sure all of this is her fault somehow. Marshal Steel Long-time member and current leader of the Rangers. Civilian identity Captain Wei Chen, transferred to the Rangers from the Army. Pilots power armor that interfaces with his extensive cybernetic replacements. We worked with him as a hero, though he was always suspicious of us. Asked us to stay away from the Rangers now that we're back. Lady Argent Hero with a body of nigh-invulnerable metal, superhuman strength and speed, clawed hands she can extend into blades, and some sort of multi-spectrum vision that can see circuitry through walls. Her durability doesn't mitigate pain, as we learned in her body. "Angie" to her friends. Itching to get her hands on whoever possessed her; thankfully, she barely seems to notice Josie exists. Herald The Rangers' newest member, a boost with the powers of flight, durability, and photogenic smiles. The public and media love him; we do not. Dated Lady Argent until recently. Kept looking at us funny when we visited the Rangers. Other Heroes Anathema Former Ranger, a boost with an invulnerable body and the ability to secrete powerful acid. Died before our eyes in the Heartbreak incident when their acid unexpectedly proved stronger than their invulnerability. Was one of LD's only other openly nonbinary heroes. We worked with them and had a good relationship; now, as a villain, we've taken up their name. Locus Young alpha-level telepath acquainted with the Rangers. Has been missing for months. Other People, Beings, & Groups Nanovores Swarm of self-replicating nanites programmed to devour organic matter, first seen in the deadly "Nanosurge" disaster we stopped nine years ago. Controlled by a sort of artificial hivemind which we can, with effort, tap into. We keep a small, safely-reprogrammed sample in our suit's left glove where we can release them at will to disintegrate inorganic matter. Lou Carter Late city treasurer and contender for LD's Most Corrupt Politician. Killed in a bombing that brought down his mansion before we could get intel out of him. "Heartbreak" What we saw at the epicenter of the Heartbreak incident: a brown-eyed woman in hospital scrubs, nearly dead on her feet, trailing severed cables and projecting an overpowering aura of despair that drove all within its radius to suicide. Our nightmares recall a sense of familiarity and kinship. The Special Directive Top secret black ops force that employs Enhanced humanoid weapons called Re-Genes: lab-grown human bodies distinguished by blue-gray skin and vivid warning tattoos, boosted and modded to degrees few humans could survive and implanted with artificial minds. Deployed overseas, with a few teams reserved for domestic threats. We anonymously tipped them off to ambush Psychopathor while we stole the Rat King.