The beginning of this piece will be the actual creature Herself (eventually I’ll have some art done) and a table to use. This explains a bit of history, role, etc. Afterwards I will explain the drastic changes (if anyone gives two poops) that have occurred to the Widow.
Wailing Widow Info
Very few dangerous creatures are tolerated in Vornheim and only one, the Wailing Widow, has the regard of being protected by the law.
This creature is both pitied and feared by the people of Vornheim. The Wailing Widow was once a human woman who died violently at the hands of her father, brother, or lover. The spirit of the girl is unable to rest and becomes twisted, full of hatred, rage, and vengeance. On the anniversary of her death the spirit returns and to slay the man who brutally took her life. Once this goal ha been achieved the Wailing Widow retreats to dark abandoned areas of the city to continue to hunt men who happen across her way. A Wailing Widow will hunt women, but will always go for a man first.
The Wailing Widow looks like a woman wearing a black traveling cloak and veil. This works to her advantage as she blends in with the darkness and can strike quickly. When in a frenzy or about to attack her cloak opens showing the gown the girl wore when she was murdered and her veil flies of revealing a woman with mad rolling eyes and abrasions and cuts along her face, evidence of her violent death. Under her dress dark smoke billows out and spider legs and be seen skittering towards her intended prey.
Wailing Widows have several weapons that make them dangerous. They attempt to lead men into their traps by crying and begging for help or asking someone to stop hurting them. It is believed that these creatures constantly relive the last moments of their death constantly. Once a victim is close by the Wailing Widow releases scream that can jar a person, stunning them for a few seconds. The most dangerous of her weapons is the webbing which she is able to shoot out of her mouth. This pinkish translucent webbing creates a euphoric effect to those caught in it making it easier for the creature to feed of their life energy and kill them.
The webbing of the Wailing Widow is highly sought after for its euphoric effects. When dried and mixed with a few choice herbs a powerful psychotropic drug, which has been dubbed Wisps of the Web, is produced.
This drug is a strong cash crop for Vornheim since the material isn’t found anywhere else. By law of Vornheim the slaying of a Wailing Widow is highly illegal and the offender faces possible jail time, steep fines, or indentured servitude. Only if there is no other course is a person allowed to slay the creature, however it is almost impossible to prove this (and many whisper that the officials of Vornheim just turn a blind eye to the truth), so usually everyone is found guilty.
Many people venture into the old abandoned areas of Vornheim in an attempt to harvest the webbing. It is an extremely dangerous job, but pays well. It can be made more dangerous when multiple Wailing Widows group in the same structure.
I wanted to create a pretty random set of circumstances for when a person uses Wisps of the Web. I wanted a few negative ones, but I needed some interesting effects that would keep people using it and the cash flow still coming into Vornheim coffers.
Wisps of the Web Reaction Chart
1: Have a prophetic vision that you interpret correctly about: 1) Yourself; 2) Friend; 3) Family; 4) Enemy; 5) Vornheim; 6) Other Location.
2: Have a prophetic vision that you interpret incorrectly about: 1) Yourself; 2) Friend; 3) Family; 4) Enemy; 5) Vornheim; 6) Other Location.
3: Euphoric trip that makes you feel popular. +2 to Charisma during trip (6 hours).
4-6: End up blacking out and waking up in strange place. See Carousing Table.
7: Assaulted with strange visions from beyond the Void. You begin ranting incoherently about what you see -2 to Charisma for trip (6 hours).
8-12: A nice hallucinogenic trip.
13-16: The trip started out nice, but has now gone awry and is no longer enjoyable.
17: You can see ghosts and they come to you and begin to tell you their problems, whether you want to hear them or not.
18: You believe that you are invisible.
19: You believe you have super powers.
20: You become empathic and are able to read the emotions and some surface thoughts of people.
Evolution of the Wailing Widow
When I started to develop my Vornheim and I decided I wanted it to be a huge city set in a world that is not quite a dead, but ravaged by something long forgotten and unknown to the living, that makes it dangerous to venture outside of the city I knew I had to create a means of survival that wouldn’t make it a constant struggle.
I created the Portals, Baby’s Tears, and Wisps of the Web. The Portals and Baby’s Tears are major cash cows and very important, but I won’t really spend any time today covering them.
I thought it would be interesting to have a drug that the State is not only cool with, but actively protects its investments. I didn’t want the drug to come from the standard arenas (plants) so that left animal/insects.
I decided to go with a spider that had webs that created a euphoric effect on the poor hapless creature stuck in it. Obviously that effect would want to be duplicated/utilized by alchemists/etc to make money.
The name Wailing Widow popped in my head then and just kinda cemented itself there. I liked it. However I didn’t want just a mundane giant (or even small) spider to have this name. Vornheim is Weird Fantasy after all and this beast should reflect that.
So my brain then went to a normal trope of the Drider. Again I didn’t really want that as it has been done and I’m just really reskinning. However I left the modeling there and moved to the creation of the beast.
As described above this is a woman who died a violent death at the hands of a close and intimate male figure in her life. I knew her creation, however I had gotten stuck on her habitat.
Due to the initial spider idea I had built up the idea that the Wailing Widows lurked in the Shattered Mines, which would create a problem for miners attempting to gather Baby’s Tears and create a problem for the people going deep into the mines to harvest the webs of these creatures. It just didn’t sit right with me however.
I was going over all this with my girlfriend and after bantering back and forth a bit I decided that the creatures should be in Vornheim itself because this presents a unique problem for the city. They want this drug because it makes money in the city itself and through the Portals, however you have people going missing, dying, etc.
I thought that the legal protection of these creatures (except under the most dire of circumstances) would add an interesting layer to how someone/the players interacts with this challenge.
Once that had developed Angie gave me a great idea for the look of the creature (which is described above). I liked the idea of this much more and, to me, it actually makes it more horrifying. I took it in a more disturbing direction of actually seeing the physical abuse on her face and body (that is visible). I want these creatures to hit that uncomfortable spot in the brain of pity and perversion.
Here is someone who had a hard life, was killed by someone who should have loved them and protected them and now they are these creatures, forever tortured by the last moments of their lives, doomed to repeat it for all eternity.
Yet while being pitied and feared they are also used and their eternal suffering and murdering of the populace is governmentally backed.