The Let's Play Archive

City of Heroes

by Cleretic

Part 4: Incarnates - S.D.

Hello everyone! Sorry for the lateness of this, but I've been engrossed in studying this weird little light phenomenon. I can see it, and I think I can detect some kind of tachyon discharge from it, but I can't seem to interact with it at all...

Anyway! Let's talk about Incarnates. Some of this is rumor and conjecture, based mostly on what little the Paragon Information Desk has gotten from other heroes - they don't tend to be a chatty bunch to us folks in City Hall! So, once again:

Because I'm going to use this header as much as I can, dammit

Incarnates are people who have been granted powers by the Well of the Furies, an otherworldly entity who has been transforming and empowering select people throughout history. As such, it can be an Origin all of its own - ordinary people who were granted power directly by the Well - or as supplementary powers to a person's own abilities (such as a Technology Origin hero/villain gaining incarnate powers).

The Well itself is sentient, and has been known to speak through other Incarnates. Its motives are unknown - it is not necessarily benevolent, nor does it seem to care who it empowers beyond whether or not they're 'worthy'. Some hypothesize that the only thing the Well cares about is power itself, and one's ability to gather it regardless of the consequences to others.

In the modern age, there are four well-known Incarnates - two of them being alternate dimension versions of the first.


Born Marcus Cole, Statesman was the first superhero of the 20th century. Statesman originally claimed that his powers came from unlocking the power of his 'Inner Will', when in truth he received his powers by drinking from the Well of the Furies while searching for a cure to Mustard Gas exposure from his time serving in World War 1.

Statesman had been active through most of the 20th century up to today - from founding the Freedom Phalanx in 1932, to stopping Lord Nemesis' invasion of Washington in 1945, to the Amerika Korps attack in the mid-80s and the first Rikti War in 2002, Statesman has lead the way for all the heroes after him, until his recent, tragic death.

Statesman wielded the Incarnate powers of Zeus, the Greek God of Lightning. This was most commonly expressed by his ability to call down the lightning around him during desperate battles in order to murder defeat his foes.

Lord Recluse

Also known as the Count of Cruel, the Master of Evil, and the Archvillain of Anarchy, Lord Recluse was born Stefan Richter. Once friends with Marcus Cole, they both traveled together in search for a cure to Cole's Mustard Gas poisoning, eventually leading them both to the Well of the Furies.

The enmity between him and Statesman has never been openly explained (beyond their mutually exclusive goals), but may be personal in nature - Statesman is his brother-in-law, which also makes him Ms. Liberty's grandfather.

Recluse has the Incarnate powers of Tartatus, the Greek God of the Underworld. This is most visibly expressed by his glowing red eyes and the eight spider arms coming out of his back.

The Reichman

The Marcus Cole of dimension Delta Zeta 24-10, a world named Axis America by Portal Corp researchers. In a timeline where Nazi Germany defeated America in World War 2, this Marcus Cole, calling himself the Reichman, lead the superpowered Amerika Korps as its rulers. The first preliminary experiments into dimensional travel by Portal Corp lead to here, which in turn lead to the Amerika Korps invading THIS earth.

While Statesman and M. Bison Reichman were evenly matched, the rest of the Freedom Phalanx beat back the Amerika Korps, and their combined strength eventually overcame the Nazi superman. Reichman was then captured, put into suspended animation, and enprisoned in the Phalanx's old headquarters in Baumton (now "Boomtown"). Recently, the 5th Column released him from his stasis, and he has taken the reins of that organization in order to raise havoc and take over the world.

It's not known what God or Gods Reichman is an Incarnate of, but it is likely Zeus as well.

Emperor Marcus Cole

The Marcus Cole of dimension Upsilon Beta 9-6, more commonly known as Praetoria. Using his powers to tame his Earth and rally its people from their ongoing war with the Devouring Earth, this Marcus Cole rules as Emperor of Praetoria and as the savior of mankind.

Much can be said about this Marcus Cole and his Praetorian Guard which goes beyond talking about Incarnates, but he was not nicknamed 'Tyrant' for his easygoing disposition. He is known to have the Incarnate powers of both Zeus and Tartarus, having murdered his world's version of Stefan Richter before he could claim his share from the Well. He may also be the current Champion of the Well of the Furies, a position that doubtlessly conveys even more power.


So what powers does the Well of the Furies give?

The powers fall into ten groups, of which only five have currently been discovered.


Enhance your abilities to beyond their maximum potential! Alpha is a universal enhancement that affects all powers (where applicable), even beyond their regular maximum values.

The first Incarnate slot, and an important one if only because it provides a level shift while you're exemplared to level 45 or above (the level shifts from other Incarnate slots are only active during Incarnate trials or in Incarnate content like the revamped Dark Astoria).


Summon the power of fire, ice, lightning, negative energy, or, uh, kicking people in a massive area-of-effect attack that will obliterate all of your foes around or in front of you!

To quote someone else: "Judgement is the 'Yeah No' power. 'Oh look, an ambush of--' 'Yeah, no.'" Nothing says ultimate power like a giant blast that will destroy pretty much anything that isn't a Boss or higher!


Add additional effects to your attacks! Make your attacks slow targets down, drain their endurance, or just DO MORE DAMAGE (the most popular choice).

Interface adds a chance for effect to most of your attacks - usually a mild debuff (like lowering enemy defense or tohit) and/or additional damage. It sounds underwhelming, and it is, to an extent - the actual numbers tend to be low and the debuffs don't last long. Interface is nice to have, but it's not a game-changer like some of the other Incarnate powers.


Summon allies out of thin air to aid you in battle! From balls of light to robotic drones, to even alien beings like the Rikti or the Rularuu, these pets are guaranteed not to die from a single fireball like Mastermind pets do! I'll take 3, maybe 4 tops

Lore powers summon 1-2 controllable pets that attack your enemies and/or buff you and each other. They only last about 5 minutes and take another 10 before you can re-summon them, but they can be a handy source of additional damage in a pinch. Lore Incarnate powers can also grant a level shift for Incarnate-specific content when upgraded enough.


Need to protect your team, the team beside you, and everyone else in a 60 foot radius? Destiny can heal, add a shield, or grant protection against status effects to everyone around you, even if you don't mean to!

Destiny powers are large-scale team buffs centered around you. These buffs will even work on ally NPCs in missions - although things can potentially get ugly (or tedious) if the mission causes those NPCs to attack you shortly after you've buffed them. Like Lore powers, Destiny powers can also grant a level shift for Incarnate content with enough upgrading.


Gain the characteristics of other Archetypes! Want to increase your damage by attacking like a Brute, or strengthen your control powers like a Dominator or Controller? Then Hybrid is the power for you!

Another somewhat underwhelming power, Hybrid replicates some of the different Archetype features (like Brute Fury, or the status protection that melee classes can get), and puts it on a 2 minute timer. You also get a passive bonus for just slotting the power (for example, +damage for slotting the Assault Hybrid, or +regeneration for slotting the Melee Hybrid). While useful, the Hybrid powers aren't nearly as good as the abilities they're imitating, and the numbers on passive bonus generally feel low unless you get to the 3rd or 4th tier of the power.

What other well-known Incarnates are there?

Hero 1

Granted his powers by the sword Excalibur and his patron the Lady in the Lake, Hero 1 was the leader of Omega Team, a legion of 50 magically-based heroes who laid down their lives at the end of the Rikti War by shutting down the alien reinforcement portal from the other side.


Only spoken of in legends, Stheno was a human who was changed into a snake Incarnate by drinking from the Well. Little else is known of her, but her descendants - giant snakes that strike up from under the sands - roam around Mercy Isle.


The first known Incarnate, Imperious was ruler of the ancient land of Cimerora, a small Roman-esque kingdom somewhere in the Mediterranean. Few historical records remain about the man or the kingdom, both of which have been lost to time.

Why are there so many Incarnates running around now?

Hard to say! The secrets of ultimate power are difficult to hide in this day and age, and the allure of having and using them would be very tempting for most. Perhaps the Well is creating more in a sort of survival of the fittest, seeing who might come out on top. Or maybe it's granting powers to see who it can control.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to continue my analysis of this light. I wonder where it's from...