From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
Baron Craven started out as a plot device for an RP storyline, mostly to explain a loose end that hadn't been dealt with by the main story. He showed up again because of a suggestion from a fellow player that he'd be perfect for a Halloween story later that year. Finally, I just accepted that I had a viable villain for play-with some minor tweaking. If I was to play a "vampire character", there were worse concepts to work with. The character backstory evolved a bit further when an opportunity to explore it was offered by the Entropy Legion's "Secret Origins" month.
Craven tends to affect an "amiable monster" attitude. He converses with his would-be foes, he is vaguely amused by his enemies, and he tolerates the villains that tend to populate the Rogue Islands. He views himself as invariably superior to most he encounters-not necessarily in physical power, but as a total package. Craven's not a manipulator, but is canny enough to avoid being manipulated in turn. He'll work with such people-but only if it amuses him. In most encounters, he remains civil, polite, only rarely revealing the iron fist in the velvet glove.
Since giving up his original goals of bringing about Eternal Night, he seems to be looking to amuse himself with the sights and experiences the modern era has to offer. He's adapted swiftly-he has no problem utilizing smartphones, and can browse the Internet with the best of them. He readily acknowledges the advances in civilization since his era, and is more than happy to take advantage of all of them.
Despite all this, Craven is still a predator-and if someone encountering him should feel like he's being evaluated like a fine wine, well, that's normal. He has spent most of his existence believing himself to be a vampire, after all, and if one is not an equal, one is prey. Craven doesn't acknowledge many equals.
Baron Craven's powers seem to differ dramatically from what a "traditional" vampire is said to possess. He has no ability to change his shape, nor can he summon the "creatures of the night" such as bats or wolves. He does seem to have the durability and virtual immortality of an undead being, but aside from that, he seems to have little in common with the classic vampire. It was recently revealed that his "vampiric nature" was because he believed he had become a vampire, when in truth he became a conduit of the power of a dark god.
One of the things he does share with the classic vampire is his strength; greater than that of ten men. But this is supplemented by his access to a "dark energy" that is mystical in nature. This energy can sap the strength and vitality of those he fights, and can even allow Craven to recover his own strength and vitality at their expense.
Craven has a strength of will that has defied centuries (at least!) of undeath. He ignores minor wounds, and major wounds can't keep him down for long. There is speculation that his strength of will is what allows him to defy the power of the sun; certainly, his will seems to physically manifest as an aura of darkness around him, lending credence to this theory.
Craven, as noted above, does not possess much of the classic vampiric traits. He has occasionally displayed a talent for mesmerizing his prey, or women who interest him-but this may be more a function of his not-inconsiderable charisma. He has other abilities that serve him well.
The Baron, while unable to transform into a bat, can emulate their ability to fly just as well.
Craven's hand-to-hand combat skills do not solely depend on the dark power he demonstrates. He is strong enough to take hits without flinching, and isn't afraid to put a foot to the gut of anyone who thinks he is helpless.
Craven is no spell-caster, but he is familiar enough with the occult to have attempted to blacken the skies twice before using ritual magics. He has a knack for dealing with new technologies, although he prefers to let others believe he is a "backward" relic of a lost age. After all, why reveal all your strengths?
In the past, Craven demonstrated that he could create vampire spawn, and even "decoys" of himself. He has not demonstrated this ability for many months, leading to speculation that it is now beyond his power. It is more likely, though, that his ability was lost as he begins to lose his own belief in being a vampire.
Weaknesses and Limitations
For much of the time he has been active, Craven possessed the classic vampire weaknesses. However, he has systematically been stripping away those weaknesses via various rituals and ancient spells. These work because his weaknesses are psychosomatic; he believes he has these weaknesses, so he has them.
However, each ritual has also removed a traditional vampiric power; he has no special ability to transform into a bat, or own the allegiance of the "creatures of the night". While possessed of considerable charisma when he chooses to use it, he cannot mesmerize victims. Further, it is possible that with each weakness removed, he is becoming closer to allowing a dark god to take over his body entirely and be free again to affect the Earth for the first time in literal ages.
Another weakness would be his own personal code of honor. If he gives his word, he will keep it-and is uninterested in finding loopholes. His word is his bond, and has seriously inconvenienced him in a number of occasions-particularly when it comes to returning to Paragon City, as a vow prevents him from setting foot in the city unless he is released from that promise.
Finally, he does not seem to have many friends in graveyards. The ghosts of those he has slain over the centuries often congregate in graveyards he visits, where they shriek his name in rage. This is usually a good indicator of where he has been.
Once, there was a Roman Praetor named Cravenus, who was granted the honorific of "Magesterix" for his knowledge of the arcane and the occult. Unfortunately, there is little information on the man he was before he was taken by the Banished Pantheon as the subject of a ritual. Their goal was to bring back the banished god Lughebu, by incarnating him through Cravenus. The ritual was only partially successful, infusing Cravenus with Lughebu's power-but failing to overwhelm Cravenus's will. Cravenus repaid the Pantheon casters with a swift death, before vanishing from history.
As time passed, he would learn of the legends of vampires, and conclude that the ritual had transformed him into one. Unconsciously, he began to emulate the vampire's traits-drinking blood, for example. He also found himself afflicted by the weaknesses inherent to vampires, and he began to cast about for a way to overcome them. By the Middle Ages, he had become "Baron Craven", and had become constantly frustrated how he could only operate during night hours. He reasoned that if he managed to find a way to destroy the sun, he could hunt at leisure (in that point in time, Craven probably didn't realize the fact that the sun's loss would eventually extinguish his "food source").
However, his plans eventually put him in conflict with a group of self-styled "Adventurists", who buried him alive in an area later generations would call Croatoa. He was forced into a tomb and left to rot. A chapel was built over the site, but due to its dark history, it was swiftly abandoned by the mid 1800s.
By 2008, the chapel had fallen into disuse, and was lost to history. A historical society rediscovered it-but didn't know of the evil within. It would later come to the attention of Hyperion Force, seeking it in order to unlock an unrelated mystery. The presence of the heroine Mercurial Talon, having been recently touched by magic, was enough to rouse Craven to wakefulness; he gained much greater strength with the zombie outbreak of 2008, which revitalized him enough so he could leave his tomb, before Hyperion Force made a return visit to the chapel.
In 2009, his activities roused the ghosts of Salamanca, and the mayor there called in Aaron Richardson, an occult investigator, to learn why they were agitated. Richardson got close, but was nearly killed by one of Craven's spawn. He went underground for months, before feeling secure enough to contact Hyperion Force. The Force learned Craven was ready to use an ancient Circle of Thorns spell to snuff out the sun; they fought through his worshippers, spawn, and decoys to the real thing, and put an end to him once and for all...or so it appeared.
In October 2009, Craven was seen again, in conflict with the Devil's Chamberlain. He evinced an attraction to Mercurial Talon, and was willing to assist the Force in defeating the Chamberlain. After this defeat, he apparently left Paragon City for good.
A New Opportunity
Craven was next seen in early 2010 operating in the Rogue Islands, substantially weaker than his observed strength. Craven has not revealed what has happened in the interim, but it was in this period where he had begun succeeding in finding ways to reduce or remove certain weaknesses, such as gaining a resistance to the light of the sun; speculation on how this has happened range from dark magic, feeding on the superhuman dregs of Recluse's society, or something about the Rogue Islands themselves. Craven would not confirm nor deny any of these theories.
Craven eventually fell in with a "quaint" group of villains representing the Union of Dire Ambition. This strange group of villains eventually led him to the Entropy Legion, and he joined the group on the Union's recommendation. He did not participate in that group's constant infighting for higher position, seeing himself as above all of that-at the same time, however, he constantly undermined the authority of its leader, Radium Blight. Eventually, he tired of Blight's lack of ambition, and the Legion as a whole, and so he reduced his presence among them accordingly.
Of note is an incident uncovered by Arc Tangent that indicated that Craven had slain a mystic ally of Hyperion Force, and kidnapped a woman who bore a strong resemblence to Mercurial Talon. Over a year later, Baron Craven offered the woman to Mercurial Talon and Hyperion Force-along with full roster information on the Entropy Legion-in return for being released from his vow to never return to Paragon City. He added that if Talon refused, he would no longer have any motivation to keep the woman among the living. What he didn't reveal was the fact that he had already effectively killed her, turning her into a vampire-although given the Baron's true origins, just what exactly she is remains uncertain. Talon agreed to the deal; the trade was made.
The result was that the Baron had successfully angered just about everybody in the transaction. The woman herself was set loose into a world where mere survival would be difficult; Hyperion Force did not end up with the woman; and the Entropy Legion denounced Craven as a traitor when he admitted what he had done to them. The only person who ultimately came out ahead was the Baron himself, free to return to Paragon City. Not long afterward, the dark god Mot arose in Dark Astoria; there were some sightings of the Baron in Astoria afterward, but it was unusual; Mot was, after all, not Lughebu. Nevertheless, he began to put into motion a plan in association with the Pantheon in Astoria and the woman who had taken the name Baroness Hecate.
This plan, however, was interrupted and stopped by the intervention of the Devil's Chamberlain, still angry from the Baron's interference in one of his plots, and the Entropy Legion, who was more than happy to stick it to the Baron. While his deathless nature prevented a permanent slaying of the Baron, the Legion managed to trap him and store him in an incinerator in the PTS at Cap au Diable. One way or another, the Baron has been put away in torment until such a time as the PTS itself is shut down; that time does not look to be anytime soon.
- Baron Craven began "life" as a throw-away villain to wrap up one of the older Hyperion Force storylines. The character was supposed to have been destroyed after that, but when a suggestion came up that he be a part of a Halloween storyline, the character was given a chance to return-and eventually got his chance in the spotlight with the Entropy Legion.
|Primals||Heroes||Agent Repulse • Amazing Kane • Armored Battalion • Fighting Wolfman • Gatewarden • Invictar • Old Ranger • Qi'Lar • Skyshade • Spectral Fighter • Stellar Protector • Sunpulse • Timelost • Winter Tornado|
|Vigilantes||Nyctomancer • Occult Explorer|
|Villains||Devil's Chamberlain • Dracofire • Operative Rostov • Stellar Abyss|
|Rogues||Baron Craven • Ebon Thunderbolt • General Retaliation • Professor Dredd|