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1/30/2011

The Sorceress

"As villains tend to be defined by their vices, it's only natural then, that female villains would gravitate towards vanity."  TV TROPES: Vain Sorceress
Last night I dreamed of a woman who possessed magical powers. She was beautiful in the physical sense -- sensual, smooth-skinned and of ideal proportions -- but this beauty was merely a shadow of the deeply attractive quality that was revealed by her every movement. It was impossible to resist her. Men obeyed her implicitly, and not because they were afraid of the penalty for disobedience. It was unthinkable to disobey. They simply wanted to please her, to be near her.

I believe this is the essence of the sorceress. She does not seek men out to do her bidding. They come to her like pilgrims, for she evokes a sort of religious devotion that is not easily denied. She is vain because she is intimately aware of her power over men and revels in it. This is the most finely wrought weapon in her arsenal -- a weapon she uses to achieve her nefarious goals. (Conquest and/or vengeance come to mind as distinct possibilities. Or perhaps the upper hand in rivalries with her sisters.)

Demi Moore: Modern Sorceress
The maintenance of her physical beauty and the cultivation of her personal magnetism are the practicalities every sorceress must keep in mind at all times. Not goals so much as means-to-an-end, without these qualities she is little more than a withered old crone, probably subject to the effects of dementia due to her unnatural lifespan.

It's important to make the distinction that while the sorceress' beauty may be magically fueled it is not illusory. That's trickery and witch-stuff and not the purview of the true sorceress. She's the real deal.

In D&D terms, we're dealing with a specialist magic-user here. One that's probably super-saturated her body with charm person potions and commands a wide variety of fey-like abilities and spells. In fact, I kinda like that fey angle. What if she needs to bathe in the blood of immortal elves periodically to maintain her hotness? That opens up all kinds of hooks for the adventuring party. Do they sympathize with the elves and put an end to the sorceress' homicidal shenanigans? Do they work for her and wander into fey-territory to bag some fresh elf-meat? What happens when the party starts to fall under her spell? Do they start working for her pro bono (much to the players' dismay)?

Has anybody used a sorceress like the one I describe above in their home campaigns? How did it play out?

4 comments:

  1. I've not, but this is a smart take on the idea, adding real motivation and less usual ways of working the figure in.

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  2. I have not used a sorceress like you describe, but I think its a very good idea. :)

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  3. My Pendragon campaign will soon be seeing a greater focus on sorceresses and power dynamics between ladies and knights--thanks for these illuminating thoughts!

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  4. I used Morgan le Fay as a behind-the-scenes villain for a while, but none of the characters ever met her. I always envisioned her as Barbara Steele.

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