|Real Name||Croyd Crenson|
|Aliases||The Sleeper, Typhoid Croyd|
|Wild Card Traits||Metamorphosis, immortality|
|Place of Birth||United States|
|Citizenship||Citizen of the United States with extensive criminal record|
|Occupation||Criminal, ace-for-hire, mercenary|
|Event Participant||The Typhoid Croyd wild card epidemic|
|Base of Operations||New York City|
|Relatives||Carl Crenson (brother), Claudia Crenson (sister)|
|Allies||Bentley, Black Shadow, Jube the Walrus, The Rox, Zoe Harris|
|First Appearance||Wild Cards|
The Sleeper is Croyd Crenson, a man who transforms every time he sleeps, each time waking up with a new appearance and new powers. Sometimes he is a powerful ace, sometimes a pathetic joker. Croyd sells his services as an ace for hire; he is a well-known figure on the streets of New York City. He is a fixture in both the ace and joker communities. While he is not a bad sort at heart, the Sleeper is addicted to amphetamines, prone to violent superpowered episodes when he is far gone into drug psychosis. Croyd became a wild card in 1946, and has been around since the beginning of the wild card age.
History[edit | edit source]
In 1946, Croyd was a completely average 14-year old boy, just starting ninth-grade at school. In September 15, when the wild card virus was released over the skies of New York City, Croyd was coming back from school. He was infected and fell into a deep coma-like sleep. When he woke up weeks later, he was taller and stronger, looking like an adult. But that wasn't all, he also had fine red hair covering his whole body and the ability to turn invisible. That would become a routine for Croyd: sleep for weeks, sometimes months, and waking up always with a different body, with a new appearance and new powers. Sometimes he wakes up as an ace, sometimes as a joker.
Croyd's father died from the wild card virus, and it was up to him to feed his family in those troubled times. Due to his transformations and unusual sleep-cycle, Croyd was unable to return to school or lead any sort of normal life. Instead, he started to use his powers for crime, stealing to help pay the bills and support his mother and siblings. In the first years of his criminal enterprises, he was tutored by Bentley, a minor criminal with a skill for planning capers. Fearing the unpredictability of his transformations, Croyd soon developed a terrible phobia of sleeping. He started to use amphetamines to stay awake for longer, and soon was addicted to the pills. In short time, Croyd's mother had a mental breakdown, his sister married, and his brother opened a business of his own. Feeling more and more alienated from his family, Croyd drifted away.
Croyd eventually abandoned his career as a thief and became an ace for hire, selling his services to whoever can afford them. In the following decades, he has been a constant presence in both the ace and joker communities. His appearance always changing, the Sleeper has become something of an urban legend in New York City. Even though he is pretty well-known, Croyd isn't really a celebrity ace, keeping to the streets.
The most infamous of all his transformations took place in 1988, when Croyd became a superstrong albino with the fearsome ability to infect others with a mutant strain of the wild card. This incarnation of the Sleeper was nicknamed "Typhoid Croyd" and spread terror in New York City, before being stopped by the crimefighters Modular Man and Black Shadow.
In the 1990s Croyd teamed with Black Shadow to escape imprisonment on Governor's Island. The two then travelled to Washington DC where they sought revenge on the Card Sharks conspiracy. After killing or imprisoning most of the Card Sharks they travelled to Afghanistan to seek revenge on Dr. Pan Rudo who was performing humanitarian work there.
By the early 21st century, Croyd was back in Jokertown. Sometime in 2009 he drew an ace, which let him transform his hands/feet into crablike claws.He spent most of his time searching for the killer of Jokertown Clinic nurse Stephanie Winters, his sometimes dealer and lover. In 2010 he developed the ability to duplicate objects and used it to pirate DVD's, thus earning the ire of the local gangs who he refused to pay protection money to.
Wild Card Traits[edit | edit source]
Croyd is one of the most unusual wild carders. He sleeps for weeks, sometimes months, lapsing into a sort of hibernation. While he sleeps, his body slowly transforms, and he wakes up with a new appearance and new powers. Sometimes he wakes up as a powerful ace, sometimes as a hideous joker. When he is an ace, Croyd usually has superhuman strength, endurance, and speed, and also one other power that is different every time. Croyd has manifested many different abilities with the years: invisibility, flight, mind control, precognition, ice generation, and sonic projection are just some of them. When he wakes up, Croyd usually isn't sure what his powers are this time around, and must perform several little experiments to discover them.
Croyd's appearance also changes completely while he sleeps, and he never looks the same twice. Apparently even his fingerprints change, so there is no way to identify the Sleeper physically. While sometimes his appearance is totally human, Croyd's transformations frequently include some joker traits even when he has superhuman powers. Examples include multifaceted eyes, albino skin, scar-tissue plates, and fine colorful hair all over his body. Occasionally, Croyd wakes up in a hideous joker body with absolutely no powers, such as when he resembled a humanoid skink. About two-thirds of his incarnations are aces or joker-aces, and one-third are pure jokers.
One intriguing fact is that Croyd's most recent power and appearance seem to depend on the emotional state and subconscious desires he had when he last went to sleep. For instance, if he goes to sleep feeling cold, next time he can wake up with heat powers to compensate. If he goes to sleep feeling trapped, he can develop flying abilities next. If he goes to sleep in a very rotten mood, he can wake up as a pure joker next.
As a result of an experiment conducted on Croyd while sleeping, he now permanently possesses the minor ability to cause music to be played from available sources, such as radios, and even the buzzing wings of insects. While he can consciously activate this power, on at least one occasion the power manifested subconsciously. Croyd was particularly agitated at the time, which may have weakened his control over the ability.
Croyd's hibernation has several other interesting properties. While he sleeps, Croyd's body regenerates, so that he heals from any wounds, even regrowing amputated body parts. A side-effect of this regeneration is that Croyd doesn't age. He remains as vigorous now as he was in 1946. And while his sleep periods can last months, he also can stay awake for a much longer time than an ordinary human. At least one week, sometimes much longer. He often tries to extend his awake periods even more by drinking lots of coffee and taking amphetamines. Croyd can't be affected by alcohol, since his metabolism while he is awake is much quicker than a normal human's. His appetite is also superhuman, and Croyd must consume enormous quantities of food, particularly right after waking up.
One last uncommon trait of the Sleeper is that his mind is able to absorb information and knowledge while he sleeps. Croyd usually sleeps with a radio turned on, so that he wakes up with a subconscious knowledge of news and events that have transpired while he slept. As possibly related side-effect, Croyd's mind is very vulnerable to hypnotic suggestion.
Appearance[edit | edit source]
Always changing, see above.
Personality[edit | edit source]
Croyd usually is a lovable rogue with a charming, down-to-earth attitude and a disarming sense of humor. He is capable of violence, but mostly he only harms those who deserve it. He has adopted a deadpan attitude to all the strangeness that is his life. After decades of witnessing weird events, there is little he hasn't seen. Most of the time, while he sees nothing wrong in doing something illegal, Croyd is a moral person with a sense of honor.
His greatest fear is going to sleep, because that always means yet another unpredictable physical change. He is afraid of dying during one of his comas, or maybe turning permanently into a hideous joker that won't need sleep. It has been theorized that what Croyd fears most of all is to wake up insane like his mother.
To postpone going to sleep, Croyd uses drugs. When he is far gone into amphetamines, Croyd ceases to be a friendly outlaw and gradually becomes a raging paranoid. He is more prone to acts of extreme violence and believes everyone is against him, becoming particularly distrustful of nats (though he will gleefully fight any aces who try to stop his rampages).
Croyd is nostalgic about the normal life he had before September of 1946. His humorous complaints that he never got to learn algebra stand in for all the perks of a normal life that he never had.
Quotes[edit | edit source]
Croyd started ninth grade, but like many others he never got through the first month: September 1946...
Sleeper waking, meals taking. Sleeper speeding, people bleeding.
"There is one individual in this city who's an old hand at wild card. Who is reinfected with the virus every time he sleeps. How many times has he transformed over the past forty years? A dozen? Twenty? Thirty?"
"They're after me again," he says in a voice full of doom & hate & speedfreak rage & paranoia. "They're all after me."
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- Croyd's powers resemble comic book characters like Dial H for Hero, but a more obvious influence may be Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis."
- The Sleeper is a very popular character both among wild card fandom and wild card writers. From all the characters introduced in the first novel, he is one of the few that are still around, although many of his appearances are in a background role.
- Croyd's creator, Roger Zelazny, died in 1995. He had at least two more Croyd stories he wanted to tell.
- Croyd has appeared in the Wild Cards comic books published by Marvel and later by Dabel. His character sheet has also appeared in both incarnations of the Wild Cards RPG.
Selected Reading[edit | edit source]
- Wild Cards Volume I: Wild Cards - "The Sleeper" (Croyd's origin story and his first year as a wild card)
- Wild Cards Volume II: Aces High - "Ashes to Ashes" (Croyd is hired to do an unusual job for Jube the Walrus)
- Wild Cards Volume III: Jokers Wild - "Concerto for Siren and Serotonin" (Croyd gets involved in a gang war in 1987, and later spreads a mutated version of the wild card virus)
- Wild Cards Volume XIII: Card Sharks - "The Long Sleep" (A lost tale of Croyd's past, as a psychiatrist offers to cure him of his never-ending changes)
- Wild Cards Volume XIV: Marked Cards - "Feeding Frenzy" (Croyd and Black Shadow fight the Card Sharks)
- The Hard Call (Croyd is framed for a crime he didn't commit)
- Wild Cards Volume XXI: Fort Freak
- Wild Cards Volume XXII: Lowball
- Wild Cards Volume XXV: Low Chicago