The Black Widows

This bloodline is somewhat of a modern night phenomenon. An offshoot of the Gangrel line, its members are almost entirely female, although a few effeminate men have joined its ranks. The hallmark of this line is its affiliation with spiders, obviously. More to the point, the members of this bloodline can manipulate and emulate arachnids with startling efficiency. Where others find that arachnids and insects are impossible to control, and the information gleaned from them worthless, the Black Widows find effortless manipulation and a goldmine of secrets. After all, not even the most jaded elder fears the prying eyes of the miniscule vermin inhabiting his lair. That is, unless he’s heard of this bloodline. Most, however, have not learned of the Black Widows. The bloodline’s founder was only embraced in the 19th century. A follower, or some would use the modern slang ‘groupie’, of Alistair Crowley (1875 - 1947), she was a modern-day occultist. The Gothic trend has stayed with her, and to a great extent, the rest of the bloodline, with many members truly fascinated by death, the occult, dark arts, and demons. The founder’s name is Elizabeth Bately, and she is rumored to still be active in England. Being Gangrel as their parent clan, all Widows suffer from the weakness of thought. Many joke that this is the reason that many Widows are mired in pseudogothic rites and pagan rituals, rather than the truer forms of occultism as practiced by the Ordo Dracul and the Circle of the Crone. However, those few who have joined those factions can be surprisingly scary. In addition to the Gangrel weakness, the Black Widows suffer from a form of curse, such that they may never be loved by mortals, without the death of that loved one. This leads many to eschew their dealings with mortals, and few if any Widows make ghouls, as they never last. Parent Clan: Gangrel Nickname: Black Widows Covenant: Most of the Black Widows are unaligned, and like it that way. They try to make personal connections with each other vampire they meet, rather than side with one faction and be restricted to those members. However, some few Widows do find themselves part of the Ordo Dracul or the Circle of the Crone, as both seek the occultism many Widows seek. No Widows are yet part of the Carthians, The Lancea Sanctum, or the Invictus, as all three spend too much time on government for the tastes of most Black Widows. Appearance: The archetypal Black Widow is a stunning gothic beauty a la Morticia Addams or Vampirella. Other than a spark for the darkside, though, individuals run the gamut from punk raver to boardroom secretary. All, however, are marked by the sign of the clan, the red hourglass of their namesakes. This appears as if a tattoo, in the small of the Widow’s back, between the shoulder blades, or at the base of the skull. An individual can move the mark to any of those areas with the expenditure of a willpower point, but can never cause it to disappear. This ability has saved several Widows embarrassment or shame when selecting certain attire. After all, Goths are nothing if not fashionable, and open-backed dresses can be popular. Long hair can easily hide the mark at the base of the skull, as long as no one is looking for it. Havens: This bloodline, like all Gangrel, can find their havens just about anywhere, thanks to the Protean discipline. In fact with a little trick passed from Widow to Widow, the bloodline can hide in a cocoon, if they know the right Devotion. It doesn’t protect from sunlight, but it will protect from other assaults when other suitable materials (like soil) cannot be found. It is not subtle, however. No mortal is going to like finding a six-foot cocoon in their basement. When the Black Widows can settle down, they tend to favor old mansions and haunted manors, crawling with spiders everywhere.

Background: As stated previously, most Widows are embraced from gothic hopefuls. Those that are searching for something dark in this world, don’t usually regret the change. Let’s face it , what selfrespecting Goth likes sunlight? Character Creation: Social and mental attributes tend to be the most common among the Black Widows, the Gangrel weakness notwithstanding. Social merits are also common, as the Widows make their webs of social ties. It’s also not uncommon for most Widows to be well-versed in the occult (or equally, mired in the bullshit of modern occultism). Some Widows, however, have Physical primary attributes, and make wonderful dancers… or assassins. Favored attributes: Composure or Stamina. Bloodline Disciplines: Animalism, Gossamer, Protean, Resilience. Weakness: In addition to the Gangrel weakness, the Widows are forever barred from Mortal Companionship. Mortals who drink the Widow’s blood are slowly poisoned. The first two times a mortal partakes, nothing happens. They may be addicted, ghouled, etc. However, upon the third taste of a Widow’s blood, the mortal dies a most horrifying death, as his nervous system is slowly and painfully destroyed by the poison in the blood. Therefore a Black Widow may never create a blood oath in a mortal. In Kindred, something even more insidious happens. Instead of the Blood oath, the unnatural love of the regnant, a Blood Curse is created. The would-be thrall finds themselves reviling and despising the Widow, and seeks to do harm to her at every opportunity. Note, however, only the third taste creates the Blood Curse. The first two tastes create the partial Vinculum’s that all other vampires’ blood does. This can make the break all the more painful for the Widow, as love turns to hate. As a tradition in the bloodline, no new fledgling is

told about this weakness. The Widows believe that the new vampire must learn the pain of trying to make someone love you, only to have them destroyed. Organization: The bloodline is organized like a loose web. All Black Widows either know, or know of, all other Black Widows. Some form covens of 3 to 5 members to perform or learn occult rituals. Widows may call on each other for help, but there is always a price to be paid for such. The clan knows no titles or positions, nor do they acknowledge any leader, not even the creator of the bloodline. Each Widow is her own person, at the center of her own web. But any intelligent spider keeps tabs on where each strand of that web goes, and attempts to maintain the connection there-in. Thus, to be powerful in this bloodline, is to know, and have the respect of, the most other Widows. Concepts: Goth Chick, Raver, Pagan Spiritualist, Entomologist, Socialite

Stereotypes
Daeva: A lot of passion, but they go nowhere with it. If only they knew the sorrow of our souls. Mekhet: They like the shadows too. Be sure to have our little spies in their shadows. Nosferatu: They are kindred spirits, as their souls suffer like ours. Oh the humanity! Ventrue: Fucking bureaucrats! I’ll give you some bugs to shove up their with that stake up your ass!

***
Lupines: You can have the wilderness. The urban sprawl is ours. See, now we’re both happy, no rending of limbs necessary! Mages: Oh! To only know what they know! They are truly the shit when it comes to spells and hexes. Mortals: Try not to lament over them too much. They are lost to us as anything more than food and temporary company.

New Discipline
Gossamer:
Gossamer is the Discipline of spider-like abilities that the Black Widows possess. Arachnid Acumen: This basic power gives the Black widow her powers over arachnids and insects. While providing no real benefit on its own, it does modify other disciplines, making it easier to control vermin, or providing other spider-based powers. Animalism: Black Widows are able to command all arachnids and insects the size of a penny or larger, without the penalties. That is, they are treated as normal mammals as far as modifiers are concerned. In addition, the vermin are treated as if they had intelligence 1, instead of zero. No eye contact needs to be made; the user merely has to look at the creature. This is ONLY for spiders and insects. Normal eye contact must be made for other creatures. Feral Whispers: The most useful, the character can speak with a host of spiders at the same time, and is given an amalgam of the creatures’ experiences, if asked. They can obey only simple commands, and only one at a time. Obedience: The character needs only look at a small host of vermin, and issue commands, the group will attempt to perform the request. Call of the Wild: As normal, but be careful. Summoning every spider in a oneblock radius could be overwhelming! Protean: Possessing Arachnid Acumen allows the Widow to change into large versions of spiders. Shape of the Beast: As a 3 point experience expenditure, the character may buy a large spider (about the size of a rat) form. The results are: Strength reduced to 1, Dexterity gets an additional dot, the user may climb up walls and ceilings, and defense is increased by 3. Bites do lethal damage, but by spending a Vitae for Claws of the Wild, the bite does Aggravated damage. Strands: This is the signature power of the Black Widows, the ability to make strands of webbing like a spider does. The strands emerge from under the fingernails, and can be made to any length. The cost for the discipline is one vitae per scene (though the storyteller may increase the cost for truly extravagant creations). No roll is generally needed for the discipline to work, though making netting or a web to catch foes will take a Dexterity + Crafts + Gossamer roll, as will other creative uses. The successes on the roll create the Structure of the web, how much damage it can take before being swept away. Since the strands are supernatural, they take on different properties according to the powers of the Black Widow in Question. If the user possesses no Vigor or Resilience the strands created are identical to those woven by normal spiders. It’s slightly sticky, but not enough to restrain animals or humans, and easily ripped down or torn with one dot of strength. However, for each dot of Vigor the user possesses, the stickiness of the strand increases. Each dot of Vigor possessed translates to that another dots of strength required to break free, or successes needed on a feat of strength roll. As for Resilience, each dot possessed increases the durability of the strand, making it harder to break. Each dot of Resilience is one point of Durability. Example: Zara the Black Widow is forming a webbing to block a passageway in the tunnels below the city. She spends a vitae and rolls Dexterity + Crafts + Gossamer, in this case 9 dice. She gets 4 successes, thus the web can take 4 damage before being swept out of the way. However, she also has Vigor 2 and Resilience 3. This means that the web has Durability 3, and anyone touching the web must have strength 3 to pull free of the web.

Later on, Arnold the nosferatu comes across the web in his tunnels, and seeks to rip it down. He brazenly swipes at it with his hand. He rolls an attack of Strength + Brawl and gets 3 successes. To his surprise, the web remains unharmed, having the strength of steel, with Durability 3. In addition, he finds his hand stuck to the web! Using his 4 strength, he easily rips his hand free from the strength 3 stickiness. Realizing this is a supernatural web of some kind, he activates his vigor and grabs a lead pipe. He is now rolling Strength + Weaponry + Vigor +3 (for the pipe) for a massive 12 dice. He scores 6 successes. He exceeds the durability of the web by 3 dice, and the web takes 3 damage to its Structure of 4. The web is torn badly, but still in place, with 1 Structure left. He will have to take another swipe at it. He begins to wonder what manner of creature is in his lair… This discipline also creates a new ability for possessors of Protean’s Haven of Soil. As a 3 point experience expenditure, the character may buy a cocoon haven, where the Widow makes a cocoon of webbing around herself. It does not protect against sunlight or fire, but it is as tough as the webbing produced by the vampire, and so may protect her from other forms of harm. Finally, the webs last until they are touched by sunlight, or until the Widow touches the web with the desire to dissolve it. The Widow’s own web never sticks to her, so it may be used as rope or other such without hindrance. Spider Gait: This ability allows the Widow to literally walk like a spider. Her limbs supernaturally stick to any surface, allowing her to walk up walls, hang from the ceiling, or any other such maneuvers. If something tries to pull her off the wall, it is a contested roll between the puller’s strength, and the Widow’s Strength + Gossamer. The cost is one vitae per scene to activate the power. Carapace: By spending a vitae this power is enacted for a scene. The Widow’s bones dissolve and then form again on the outside of the Widow’s skin, forming an armored carapace. The effect is most disturbing for onlookers, as the Widow’s skin seems to turn black and shiny, and is almost always a breach of the Masquerade. Many practitioners of this power develop spiky or haired versions, to match their favorite form of spider. The result is that the Widow now has an armor rating equal to her Stamina. She cannot add this to any other armor, she must choose between this protection or the other. Also, for all purposes except intimidation, Presence drops to zero. Venom: Widows with this power have the weak venom in their veins turned into a powerful neurotoxin, similar to the actual black widow spider. But unlike the spider, the Widow need not bite her victim to administer the poison. Spending an additional vitae per square yard of web, she may envenom anyone who touches the web with bare flesh. The Widow rolls Stamina + Gossamer, the result of which is the virulence of the venom. Anyone who touches the web with bare flesh must roll Stamina + Blood Potency. Mortals who fail the roll die a slow painful death over the next 4 hours, as if they were bit by a large spider. Kindred who fail the roll take a number of aggravated damage equal to the difference in the rolls (the extra successes the Widow rolled). The venom is a once-and-done thing. The web loses its venom after the first person touches it with bare skin. The web must be re-woven in order to re-venom it. It is this discipline that allows for the Black Widows to be such successful assassins. In one night, the Widow could leave webs where mortals would innocently touch them, or worse, the strands could be used in an attack. Such as an envenomed strand shaped like garrote-wire, or even just the lone strand lowered from the ceiling to brush against a mortal’s cheek as he sleeps. The venom leaves no traces as to how it entered the body, but autopsies will reveal the neurotoxin in the blood.

This document © 2004 by Aaron Keener Inspiration drawn from Raoul ''Violence'' Borges’s Bloodlinebook: Black Widows, and White-Wolf’s books and supplements.

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