The Crusaders were a team created for the RPG game Villains & Vigilantes by Fantasy Games Unlimited as part of a campaign module titled Crisis at Crusaders Citadel. It was the first role-playing game designed by Jack Herman and featuring illustrations by Jeff Dee. Publishing the first edition of Villains and Vigilantes in 1979 and the second edition of Villains and Vigilantes was published in 1982 with significant rule revisions. Finally the mini series was produced by Eclipse comics in 1986 and it told the whole story as it followed the RPG original gameplay. The scripting and editing was done by Jack Herman and the penciling by Jeff Dee.
In the city of Indianapolis the superhero group known as the Crusaders take a will deserved break from their usual affairs of fighting crazed megalomaniacs, giant monsters, and armies of galactic invaders. The Crusaders consists of the group's leader Manta-Man, high flying gadgeter and millionaire business man. The former espionage agent turned force field wielding hero the Enforcer. Mistress of the mind, Dreamweaver. The hotheaded teenage heartthrob Laserfire. Cool tempered polar powered Blizzard the newest recruit to the team. And finally Evergreen, a Dryad princess from a magical realm with total command of all vegetation.
All the time a miniature villainess named Marionette is mind controlling the warden of the local prison to free herself. Mentally manipulating the guards at the prison she orders them to kill him and escapes her former incarcerators. Her purpose is the reunite the villainous Crushers, a group of super powered villains of varying abilities and adding new recruits to further her leaders plans at terrorizing the city. Soon she gathers Bull, Hornet, Stormlord, the Mace, Manstar, the Hauntress, Temper, Shocker, and the Mercury Mercenary. The ingenious yet crazed robot known as Mocker has returned to take his plans of controling the Crusaders base and ending their lives has begun.
Now completely reassembled and with an army of vicious super powered criminals they set out to overcome the cities primary crime fighting super team the Crusaders. Defeating the heroes one by one, following them after uncovering their secret identities and ambushing them separately. Shortly the Crusaders are soon prisoners in their own headquarters, the Crusader Citadel. The Crusaders base is actually on the top four floors of the Harmon building in Center City and no one is aware that the heroes are now captives of the Crushers. The Crushers than begin trying to reprogram Teacher, the Crusaders near-sentient computer of Ultra-advanced design. With the heroes now captive under their own roof they attempt to gain their top-secret knowledge.
Outside the Citadel two young heroes by the names of Condor and Shatterman are at the door asking entrance, hoping to apply for membership in becoming the next Crusaders. They try to gain access to the citadel, only to be turned away by Teacher. To tie up any loose ends Mocker sends Manstar and Bull to follow the two young men and eliminate them. Fighting them at a local public storage rental the two would be Crusaders defeat the villains and soon realize that the Crusaders are captives at the citadel.
Returning to Manning Enterprises they attempt to enter the Crusaders Citadel and investigate what is happening inside and what has happened to the Crusaders. Condor and Shatterman are able to enter through the roof of the Citadel and defeat a small handful of the Crushers, mostly due to the villains inability to work well together. Freeing Manta-Man, Enforcer, Laserfist and Evergreen they escape from the Harmon building leaving behind Blizzard and Dreamweaver in their catatonic states inside gas filled plexi-glass containers. Unable to free the last two Crusaders due to their vital signs being dangerously low.
Deciding to assess the situation they contact local police forces and government agencies, Manta-Man being well aware of the dangers that are within the Citadels walls and Teacher being in Mockers grasp. Returning to the Citadel the Crusaders attempt to take back their base of operations and unravel whatever plans the Crushers are attempting to do with Teacher. Splitting up in two teams Condor, Manta-Man and Shatterman fight a few of the Crushers atop the roof of the Citadel but are defeated and taken inside. Evergreen, Lasefire and the Enforcer enter the building and fight the Hauntress, Shocker, the Mercury Mercenary and Bull but are also defeated by the outnumbering forces of the Crushers.
Taken into captivity the Crusader members are placed in restraints in the citadels movie theater, with the exception of Dreamweaver and Blizzard who are still in status. While in another chamber under their own restraints Condor and Shatterman are placed under the teams space shuttle directly televised to the theater. Mocker than explains his plans the heroes of complete satellite takeover, that way making him the absolute master of worldwide communications and military powers. Hearing that he will also kill all the heroes and destroy the citadel itself Shocker objects to this move, stating he was promised Evergreen as his part of the deal. The Mercury Mercenary knocks out Shocker leaving him where the bombs are set and counting down. However waking up he gathers himself and frees Evergreen and the rest of the Crusaders when he cuts his wrists allowing his acid blood to access the theater in which they captive in.
Now free the Crusaders obtain the containers in which Dreamweaver and Blizzard are contained in and deactivate the bombs within. With the Crushers scattered or defeated within their own ranks both Mocker and the Mercury Mercenary escape into the space shuttle continuing with their plans for satellite control. However both Condor and Shatterman free themselves and enter the shuttle before the launch through the access hatch below the shuttle. Once onboard both young heroes find themselves in orbit and attempt to defeat the two villains. Mocker exits the shuttle once it arrives to the satellite and begins to attempt to change its programming. Shatterman also exits the shuttle and with his energy based powers is able to attack Mocker and take his giant ball shaped head off his artificial body. At the same time Manta-Man is pleading with the United States government military to abort their defense of the satellite by sending a giant spacefaring robot to attack Mocker and stop him in his tracks. Convincing the military they stop the protocols on the robot and pull back, allowing Shatterman to narrowly avoid the collision.
Back on Earth and landing the shuttle at a local airport the Crusaders meet up with Condor and Shatterman and explain what occurred while they were up in the sky. With the Crushers defeated and incarcerated, the military looking into the Crusaders heroic practices more closely, and Teacher and their Citadel needing some serious repairs Manta-Man has a sit down with both aspiring members. Condor and Shatterman are than told that the Crusaders are unable to offer membership to the two at this time, with all the expenses and issues with local and government authorities. However they are told that they are first on the list once everything turns around for the team and the resent wounds of the Crusaders are healed. Understanding but deflated both Shatterman and Condor return to their U-Haul-It rental and continue on the road again to return home and hope for new prospects in the super hero business.
- Manta-Man - Manta-Man is the no-nonsense leader of the superhero team called the Crusaders. He is also the wealth which not only houses the team and backs its adventures. His powers stem mainly from his, uniform, glider cape, and electrical sting blasts.
- Dreamweaver - The masked heroine called Dreamweaver has an amazing array of mental powers reaching deep within her psyche to pull fro her dreams, now having the power to create illusions. She joined the Crusaders from Indianapolis in hopes to gain resourceful allies in her fight against evil.
- Enforcer - Enforcer is an ex-CIA agent who gained superpowers and donned an outfit to fight for justice out of the prying eyes of the law. He carries dual pistols and can project a force field around himself, he also joined Indianapolis's greatest hero team the Crusaders.
- Evergreen - The beautiful wood nymph called Evergreen has the power of Mother Nature itself and is able to control all manner of plant life. She is also a member of Indianapolis's premiere superhero group the Crusaders.
- Laserfire - Laserfire is the youngest member of the Crusaders. He can surround himself with flame and emit laser beams. He has been learning to control his hot tempered attitude of his youth becoming a powerful member of the team.
- Blizzard - The hero calling himself Blizzard is a mutant with cold based powers. He grew up idolizing comic heroes and took up his identity as Blizzard to fight crime, early on in his career he joined Manta-Man's well respected team the Crusaders.