Background/History: Merriya Highwolf was born in 1976 in the town of Maple Creek, Saskatchewan. According to Merriya, her mother "was a full-blown First Nations flower-child, hence my unusual first name," who had gone so far as to change her own name from Susan to "Sunflower." Her father's identity is still unknown (not that Merriya has expressed any great interest in finding out who he is) although there’s some speculation that whoever it was, he’s also a post-human. After a precarious early childhood, in which Merriya spent a lot of time traveling around Saskatchewan with her transient mother, she ended up in the care of her grandfather, Christopher Highwolf, and spent the the next twelve years growing up with him.
It was while growing up on her grandfather’s farm that Merriya first began display heightened physical and mental capabilities. Her strength was phenomenal, especially for someone of her age and size; she almost never became sick; her hand-eye coordination and reaction time was matchless; and basic IQ tests indicated a remarkably high level of intelligence. By the time she reached high school, she could bench press roughly 300 pounds with ease, and could outrun anyone on the track squad. In an effort to assist his granddaughter in dealing with her virtually superhuman abilities, Christopher Highwolf enrolled her in a local karate school, where she learned the basics forms of Shotokan.
Upon entry into college, Merriya was approached by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They were in need of paranormal operatives, and Merriya was almost perfect for the part of an undercover agent. Intrigued by the offer, Merriya accepted, taking both her regular college courses and RCMP training classes. She completed her final training in Shotokan Karate (achieving black belt status), before continuing on to the highly aggressive arts of Bando and Lethwei, where she concentrated mainly on weapons techniques. She also received training in various espionage skills, dealing mainly with infiltration and surveillance. Finally, after graduation, she was given her code-name (Koyotie), armored costume, and weapon (a carbon-fibre bokken.) Since then, she's worked all over North America, ranging as far north as the Arctic Circle, and as far south as Mexico.
Personality/Motivation: Long-term undercover work has had a rather interesting effect on Merriya Highwolf. In order to better blend in to different environments, she’s created a series of distinct characters, each one designed to deal with a different aspect of her assignments. So far she’s exhibited five, but may have more “on-line” that haven't been needed as of yet. As the RMCP deals mainly with Merriya herself, they’re largely unaware of the other identities aside from Koyotie. These personalities are;
Koyotie: Named for Maca the Coyote, a Sioux trickster god, Koyotie can be best described as an idealized female version of a male action hero (or a male idealized version of a female action hero). Highly confident of her physical skills (almost to the point of foolhardiness) Koyotie is quite impulsive, prone to taking unneeded risks and will rush into a dangerous situation without a second thought. Simply put, she’s an adrenaline junkie, somewhat short of temper, who won’t back down from a confrontation (especially if alone), and thrives on conflict (of all sorts.) In addition, she’s has been known to dress provocatively when needed (or not) and has perviously used her physical charms to distract and/or entice foes or informants.
As the Warrior Aspect, Koyotie has full access to all of her martial training, including all maneuvers, Skill Levels, and Damage Classes. She has her full Characteristics to call upon. Her Psychological Limitations are defined as Impulsive and Overconfident.
Mary Tower: Mary is almost the complete opposite of the dangerous and hotheaded Koyotie, and is the default "secret identity" Merriya adopts for undercover operations. She enjoys life, is full of laughter and wit, and verbally spars with her current "boss" constantly. As a risk-taking photographer, Mary will go to great lengths to get her photos, but isn't stupid. She knows when to run, and has used the line "I can make you famous" as a defense against paranormal and post-human criminals unhappy with their picture being taken. Needless to say, she also a bit of a smart aleck, although that's part of the charm. She also tends to play up her heritage, often wearing Stetsons, blue jeans, boots, and shirts with assorted slogans, such as: "Homeland Security—Fighting Terrorism since 1492" or "FBI—Full Blooded Indian." At best guess, Mary is the closest to Merriya's original persona.
As the Civilian Aspect, Mary Tower has access to her Karate training. This includes all Karate maneuvers and Skill Levels but no Damage Classes. Her Characteristics are high for a normal human (DEX of around 18, SPD 4) but within reason. Her Psychological Limitations are defined as Reckless (when in pursuit of a story) and Smart-Mouthed.
Danielle Silverheels: This recently developed character was created to fight in the illegal underground no-holds barred fighting matches held in St. Louis. Danielle is a strong, powerful warrior, who prefers to analyze a foe before entering into conflict. However, once the fight starts she’s merciless, seeking only to defeat her opponent as quickly as possible. Due to the circumstances dealing with Danielle’s infiltration into the underground fighting matches, “Danielle” may only exist for a short period of time, especially since Danielle is supposed to be Koyotie’s “Secret Identity.”
As the Alter Ego Aspect of Koyotie, Danielle Silverheels has full access to all of her martial training, including all maneuvers, Skill Levels, and Damage Classes. Her Characteristics are the same as Koyotie’s. Her Psychological Limitations are Student Warrior (which means she will seek out tougher foes in order to improve herself by fighting them, but also tends to initially hold back when fighting) and Merciless In The Ring (which means once she’s sure of her opponent’s power level, she’ll go full out and fight to win).
Merriya Highwolf: Merriya is the true “Secret Identity” for Koyotie. She is a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Inspector who believes whole-heartedly in the RCMP’s motto of Maintiens le droit or “Uphold the Law” (also “Uphold the Right”). She’s polite and formal (playing to the stereotype of Canadian’s being ‘nice’,) attentive to detail, and comes across as "all business." She also dresses the part, wearing suits (often a men's suit cut for a woman), dress boots, hat with feathered band, and so on. She carries a laptop, briefcase, a notebook, her badge and ID, and if needed, a handgun. If true formality is required, she will wear her RCMP Inspector’s uniform—red coat and all. As a follower of the system, she will use proper channels to accomplish tasks, but will back off if told no or denied access (only to return in a different guise). This is the face the RCMP sees and deals with on a regular basis.
As the Secret Identity of Koyotie, Merriya Highwolf has access to all of her martial training, including all maneuvers and Skill Levels but no Damage Classes. Her Characteristics are high, as Merriya is a trained fighter and known to be a Post-Human by the RCMP. In Canada she’ll have Koyotie’s Characteristics, but if in the States, she’ll scale her DEX and SPD back to around 25 and 5. Her Psychological Limitations are Uphold The Law/Right and Sense Of Duty To The RCMP/Canada.
Michelle Tahu -- This rarely seen persona is used when Merriya needs to go deep undercover. As Merriya is rather tall (standing 5'10") with a well-muscled physique, Michelle is an attempt at "hiding in plain sight" by simply blending into the background. Michelle's hair is bound up in a tight bun, she dons fake glasses, and wears conservative attire (often long-sleeved blouses and long dresses). Personality wise, she acts shy, is soft spoken, and shows a distinct lack of her normal self-assertiveness.
As The Mouse Aspect, Michelle Tahu has no access to any of her martial training. In addition, her Characteristics drop down to normal human levels (DEX of 15 and SPD of 3), although her STR will remain at its proper level (i.e. 25), but this is only exhibited in times of great stress (say trying to escape from being grabbed or slapping someone rude and abusive in the face.) Her Psychological Limitations are Introverted/Shy.
All of these personas are aware of each other and are aware of whatever Merriya is trying to accomplish. At best guess, each one is an idealized and/or exaggerated facet of Merriya’s real personality. She will don them as needed, and tend to remain in one until events warrant otherwise. Changing personalities does require her to change her clothes—if dressed as Koyotie, Merriya will act as Koyotie, and not as Mary Tower or as Michelle Tahu. As stated, Mary Tower seems to be the closest to Merriya’s original, pre-RCMP personality—that of a young woman who enjoyed nature, the outdoors, and life in general. Right now the major fear is that Koyotie will slowly take over, and the other personas will be diminished, eventually becoming mere shells to be donned when needed and only for brief periods. It is unknown how the RCMP will react to this sort of event.
Quote: "Nine on one? Those aren't fair odds, there really should be more of you."
Powers/Tactics: Merriya is a mutant, albeit a rather covert one, with the power of rapid adaptive evolution. Unlike most mutants, her abilities aren’t particularly visual, but instead have modified her body internally, giving her phenomenal levels of strength, agility, endurance, intelligence, and will. In short she’s at the peak of development in all levels of human performance. This, coupled with her rather unique metabolism, is responsible for her well-developed physique, rendering her a nearly "perfect" person. In addition, tests have show Merriya to be constantly evolving. It is theorized her body reacts to outside stimuli and works to improve itself to counter or deal with said stimuli. For example, it’s theorized that if Merriya was forced to work at night or in dark areas for an extended period, she would develop infrared or ultraviolet vision to compensate. Another theory believes that once Merriya starts to age and show down, her body may “refresh” itself, making her young again, meaning Merriya might be effectively immortal.
Merriya is highly trained in a variety of infiltration skills and is a master of Shotokan Karate, Bando, and Lethwei, and often attends training seminars for other styles as well. She likes to experiment with fairly obscure and unique martial arts styles (such as Bando and Lethwei), figuring most people will have never seem them before and thus might not be able to respond to her attacks as effectively as compared to her using a more conventional style, such as karate or judo.
When in the field she is normally armed with a bokken-like weapon made from composite materials. It is extremely durable, nearly impossible to break, and virtually undetectable by current metal detectors. For protection Koyotie wears a fully-covering suit of flexible Spectra-Cloth armor. An additional tunic of Spectra-Cloth is worn over her torso. Composed of several woven layers meshed together, it’s meant to defeat penetration by armor-piercing rounds.
Koyotie's combat tactics rely on the fact she is usually so much faster than most everyone else. She will often Dodge or Block attacks on a Phase where she and her opponent act together and then throw high-OCV strikes on the Phases where she acts alone. Against agents and low-powered flunkies she often fights unarmed, using her sword only if her foes pull weapons, or if they prove to be much tougher than they look.
Appearance: Koyotie stands 5'10", and weighs about 150 pounds, with an amazingly well-defined athletic physique. Her hair is deep black and comes down past her shoulders, complementing her dark green eyes.
Her typical costume is a medium blue armored jumpsuit, with long fringes set along both arms. To this is added white elbow-length gloves and white fold-over boots to her knees. Her body armor is white, covering her from the shoulders to just past the groin, with has a white fringe set along the back in line with the sleeves. A gray sash is worn as a belt at the waist, along with a gray head band. A bokken is slung through the belt. Since she has counted coup in combat she wears two eagle's feathers in her head band.
If required to wear a much less noticeable costume, Koyotie will dress in the classical career-woman outfit, i.e. sport coat, white blouse, thin black tie, trousers, boots and sunglasses. She will also wear the headband (minus feathers). An armored vest (DEF 5, Act 8-) will be worn under the blouse. If acting in any sort of official capacity, Merriya will dress in her RCMP uniform, which includes the Red Serge jacket, midnight blue riding breeches, boots, and so on.
Designer’s Notes: Koyotie is one of my oldest characters, dating back to the mid-1980s or so. She was first built using 3rd Edition rules, and was a very basic character—30 DEX, 15 BODY, 20s in the rest of her Primary Characteristics, and 20 points of Martial Arts. She saw sporadic play with the Northern Lights (a game featuring a Canadian superhero team) and was nearly killed in one adventure when she took 5 BODY fighting one villain, and then another 10 BODY and 100 STUN when her armor failed to activate after a second villain tossed a bomb at her feet.
I revised and updated Koyotie (and re-wrote her origin) for her appearance in the 5th Edition Vendetta Rhapsody “Seared” Champions game. She ended up around 425 points and proved to be very effective, especially versus minions and agents. Once again, however, she was nearly killed, taking 13 BODY in a single shot from the sword-wielding Claymore.
At one point, I decided to try and recreate the original 250-point Koyotie, then develop a version for each superhero benchmark (i.e. Low-Powered, Stating, High-Powered, and so on.) I’ve taken those character sheet and updated them to 6th Edition, further revising and developing the character to produce what I hope to the definitive form for Koyotie.
(Koyotie created by Michael Surbrook)