White Ladies

Copyright Julien Buseyne © 2008

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

"She has alabaster skin, a pale complexion, and silvery hair and eyes. At night, her eyes shimmer with a faint halo of light."

White Ladies

Level 5 (special) Size M MS/AQ Special
Move Special Max pace Special MM Bonus Special
Hits 60 Crit- AT(DB) 1 (40)
#Enc 1 Treasure None Exp bonus
Attacks None
Habitat See description
Behavior Protector

Introduction

The white ladies are creatures who, unlike many ghosts and specters, have not been forgotten by the living. Actually the constabulary frequently obtains statements from people who claim they met one of these specters. Some even say they owe them their lives.

Because of their white, ghostly garb, white ladies look much like standard ghosts. However, they differ greatly from ghosts in terms of demeanor. Some white ladies only seem to appear to announce an imminent death in a household; these white ladies serve as Death's messengers. They are related to the Irish Bean Sidhe. This type of white lady will be addressed in a future article.

The other kind of white lady appears either along the side of the road or in the middle of the road. In the former case, people who have allowed the white lady to enter their vehicles all tell the same story: she rarely speaks, suddenly warns of a coming danger and, once the danger has passed, she vanishes. If she is on the road, she vanishes once the approaching vehicle stops.

Details

The white lady is a creature that can be adapted to any time period and any setting, including those that are magic-poor or magic-rich. The description below assumes a campaign set in the Middle Ages.

Behavior

The white lady is a type of ghost—the lingering soul of a nubile woman who died a violent death on a road before she could give birth for the first time. Only these pure souls come back from the dead to protect the living.

She haunts the area surrounding the place where she died. She wears a white dress made of wool or linen, and clear, soft leather shoes, with a belt of embossed silver. She has alabaster skin, a pale complexion, and silvery hair and eyes. At night, her eyes shimmer with a faint halo of light. She looks like a translucent and pale double of the person she was when was alive, but although her skin is incorporeal, anyone "touching" her skin finds it to be cold as stone.

Her power is closely linked to the power of the moon, and we can assume that her existence is linked to a power or deity that has strong affinities with this celestial body.

Originally linked to the place of her demise, she hails travelers who are not aware of a peril threatening them and asks if she can accompany them. If a traveler accepts, she will travel with him until she wards off the danger ("Look out for this rock!") and will vanish afterwards. If he refuses her company, he can avoid the peril using normal means. However, if he is violent to her, the peril will surely strike him harshly.

The more lives a white lady saves, the more powerful she becomes. She progressively frees herself from the place of her death and gains power: changing the weather, breaking an axle or making the shoes fall off a horse are a few examples of what she can achieve. The most powerful white ladies can heal wounds or cause deadly accidents.

The white ladies cannot abide harm befalling anyone in her domain. Whoever commits blood crimes on a road haunted by a white lady gets himself into big trouble. A weak lady will curse the criminals, making their lives miserable (e.g., their food will rot very quickly, they will find pebbles in their shoes, they will get frequent splinters in their fingers, their campfires will burn out, their gruel will continually spill all the time, etc.) until they leave her domain. If they stay, she will not hesitate to appear, manipulating them until they slay each other. A powerful lady will act more directly: leading a group of warriors to the criminals'camp or waiting until the criminals find themselves in a fight. In the latter case, she will cause the criminals to shoot their arrows into the backs of their companions, to break their weapons as they draw them, to stumble on invisible obstacles, etc. Most of these accidents will lead to serious or deadly injuries. However, a white lady is loath to take lives and only does so when she cannot convince the criminals to leave. Every life taken makes her weaker.

A white lady can also choose a traveler to be her lover. If the traveler truly loves her and the pair manage to conceive a child, the white lady can lead a new life with her partner. She will then keep most of her powers, and her child will inherit them to a lesser extent. When her lover passes away, she will travel with him to the afterlife.

If a white lady's territory encroaches on the territory of another undead, she will try to reach an agreement with it. In the world of the afterlife, a white lady is almighty on her road, so she nearly always finds a way to forge an agreement with the other creatures of the afterlife.

It is possible to make the white ladies the servant ofa divinity or pantheon, such as a benevolent god of fate, protection or the moon. They will then act in a selective manner, aiding the faithful and refusing to help the enemies of their faith. It is advisable not to misuse this possibility as the white lady truly is powerful on her territory.

Game Mechanics

A white lady does not like to fight, wound or kill anyone. She always gives her adversaries an opportunity to flee or to make amends. However, a few stubborn souls do not accept these opportunities and the lady then has no other option than to fight using her substantial magical arsenal.

Power points

A white lady has 5 Power Points per level, which she recovers only when the moon is up.

Level

A white lady is a level 5 creature when she first appears. For each life she saves, she earns its value in experience points. For each life she takes, the opposite happens. She earns levels normally based on the experience points she earns.

Affinity with the moon

A white lady's power waxes and wanes with the moon. For example, a white lady's curse (see below) becomes progressively more problematic as the moon waxes. In game terms, modify a white lady's level based on the phase of the moon. During the full moon double her effective level for the purposes of determining power points and casting spells (or using powers). During the new moon, she can neither use her powers nor does she have any power points. Her effective level scales between these extremes based on the phase of the moon.

Movement

A white lady can instantly appear wherever she wants to within her territory. When she appears to a mortal, she moves like anyone else, at a steady pace. As her feet are hidden under her dress, she seems to float slightly above the ground.

Ubiquity

A white lady can exist in different places at the same time, but she can only manifest at a single location. Thus, she is usually aware of all activity in her domain, but she can only use her powers at a location where she has manifested.

Curse

A white lady can afflict mortals with a curse, or lift her curse, according to her will. Note that a white lady's curse loses its effect when the victim leaves the territory of the one who cast it. The curse of a white lady is worse than rotten luck: pants that fall off while running, being knocked off one's horse by a low tree branch, milk that goes sour, meat that becomes gamey, etc. The curse is not directly lethal; the purpose is to make the victim understand that he is not welcome in the lady's domain and should leave. However, if the victim doesn't get the hint (or is particularly stubborn), then these events might take a tragic turn.

To curse someone, the white lady must manifest, point to the victim, and say in a loud and clear voice: "[Name], I hereby curse you for your transgressions!" This event along may be enough to make the superstitious flee (the power of the curse allows the white lady to identify her victim by name).

A curse cannot be cast during the new moon, and is extremely powerful during the full moon (i.e., the victim gets no RR). Otherwise, the target can make a RR vs. a Mentalism attack (based on the effective level of the white lady). Failure indicates that the target is affected by the curse, based on the phase of the moon. Success indicates that the target cannot be cursed by this white lady until the next full moon (or later). A white lady can sustain as many curses as lives she has saved.

Healing

A white lady can heal with her touch using Holy Healing. However, all recovery times are halved.

Bewitchment

A white lady can bewitch anyone who looks into her eyes and fails a RR vs. a Mentalism attack (based on the effective level of the white lady). Women are particularly susceptible (−50 RR) to bewitchment.

Once bewitched, the victim cannot choose to leave the territory of the white lady. Moreover, he will resist any attempts to remove him forcibly. After the first full moon, the victim will be compelled to protect travelers that enter the lady's domain. After the second full moon, the victim can be controlled by the white lady at will. Once the victim has fully fallen under the sway of a white lady, involuntarily severing this connection may fracture the victim's mind. (If the victim is forcibly removed from the domain of the white lady, he must make a RR vs. the actual level of the white lady (−5 for each month under her sway) or develop a mental disorder linked to the moon.)

Gift

A white lady can choose to transfer any or all of her powers to a mortal with a touch.

Immortality

When a white lady is killed, all of her curses, bewitchments and gifts are lifted. Also, like other non-corporeal undead, her body materializes into a corporeal form. However, the body promptly vanishes, as if it were an illusion. People who witness her death report glancing away for a moment, and when they look back, the lady is simply gone, as if she never had existed. (I.e., unlike standard non-corporeal undead, her body cannot be destroyed simply by reducing her to zero concussion hits.) At the next full moon, the white lady manifests anew.

Spells

In addition to Holy Healing, white ladies have access to the following spell lists (treated as Mentalism spells). Assume she knows all spells of her (actual) level or below.

  • Wyrd Mastery
  • Mind Visions
  • Illusion Mastery
  • Lofty Bridge
  • Arcane Shield

The GM may choose to give a white lady additional spell lists. If so, recall that the white lady's effective level is tied to the phases of the moon.

Option

Instead of using a character's level for RRs vs. a white lady's powers, consider using the character's SD modifier (treat modifiers of 0 or less as level 1). Using this option, the white lady can seriously threaten even high-level characters.