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Batgirl (Classic Cassandra Cain) (DC Comics)

Batgirl

(Cassandra Cain) (Classic profile)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

“David Cain… had some unusual ideas about combat. He experimented with infants. Trained them in isolation and deprived them of human speech. The goal was to adapt the language centre of the brain to interpret physical movement as a language. She can… read you. Your body. That’s why she understands what you’re saying when she doesn’t know the words. It’s why in combat, she knows what you’re going to do before you do it.”


Context

This is an authorial profile. As such it is solely the version of the character as written by Kelley Puckett, her main creator. Everything else is out of scope for this specific profile.

It covers everything from her first appearance as a nameless courier (Batman #567) up to Batgirl v1 #29 inclusive, though a few bits from later Batgirl issues were accidentally rolled in. There are many, many S P O I L E R S for these excellent comics.


Background

  • Real Name: Cassandra Cain
  • Other Aliases: “Miss Monosyllabic”, “Elvira“(nicknames from Spoiler)
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: David Cain (father, although long believed to be her adoptive father), Sandra Woosan (aka Lady Shiva, mother), Carolyn Woosan (aunt, deceased)
  • Group Affiliation: Member of the “bat-squad”
  • Base Of Operations: Her own “bat-cave” in Gotham City ; previously Oracle’s tower in Gotham
  • Height: 5’5” Weight: 117 lbs
  • Eyes: Greenish brown to nearly black depending on light Hair: Black

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) ready to fight


Powers and Abilities

Batgirl is, for all intends and purposes, superhumanly fast, strong and tough – and has borderline superhuman fighting abilities. Her movements are hard to follow with the naked eye, and she can knock out a half-dozen gunmen before they can even register that she is looking at them.

Batgirl has been known to vanish from somebody’s field of vision by the time they blinked. She can easily dodge bullets at close range after they have been fired, and is significantly faster than Batman. Batgirl once caught a volley of 4 shuriken thrown from a short distance away – by slipping a finger into the central hole of each throwing star.

Analysts watching her in action could only consider that she was superhuman, with a strength about 2.6 times baseline and 4.2 times human speed. While her individual moves take place at borderline superhuman speed, it is the speed at which she chains her moves that takes place at a pace not generally thought to be possible for a human being.

At least one analyst maintained that she didn’t have powers, though – and he was right.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) swinging on a line

Cassandra is trained in the handling of every deadly weapon Cain could think of (which is pretty much everything), and Batman has trained her in less-than-lethal and blunt weaponry. She’s also a highly skilled ninja type (accomplishing incredible feats of stealth) and was intensively trained by one of the world’s very best assassins.

Batgirl can penetrate practically any security perimeter with laughable ease. A common technique is to shadow a guard at very close distance (within arms’s reach), using her incredible stealth, great speed and small size to remain undetected.

This way she can pass all doors along with the guard, and she can even use equipment they carry (such as security badges stored on their belt) without them realising thanks to her huge Thief (Pickpocket) score.

Batgirl has a control over her own pain that matches Batman’s or Cain’s. While bullets will wound her and necessitate medical treatment, she will ignore the shock from being shot.

She can also burst open a professional-quality punching bag in a few blows or, given enough time, kick a hole through a solid stone wall. Cassandra Cain shattered 3″ of bulletproof quartz in 20 seconds via punches and kicks, and can sunder a high-quality sword with one thrust of her hand.

Batgirl knows how to break bones in a way that is practically impossible to fix, and how to painlessly paralyse people with a nerve strike (in game terms, this is a special effect of reducing them to 0 BODY).

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) dodging bullets part 2

Cassandra is preternaturally good at non-verbal communication, using touch and a sort of low-key mime to convey emotions and accurately sensing what other persons think or feel.

She seems nearly infallible as a human lie detector. Even before speaking she could easily understand what people said to her as long as it wasn’t completely abstract. She couldn’t understand a word but could easily decipher tone, facial and body expressions, voice inflexions, etc.. On one occasion, she even effortlessly deciphered the motivation of a giant mollusc-like alien.

She can recognise movements like most humans recognise faces, allowing her to completely ignore disguises as long as she pays attention. Batgirl has even recognised superhuman shapeshifters who did not know about her abilities.

Batgirl’s combat form is unique. To her it is pure instinct, not an art, science or form. She also has the ability to “read” the opponent, by spotting subtle clues in muscle tone, concentration, energies, etc. which allow her to determine what her target is going to do before they even know it themselves.

She has proven to be a match for the great grandmasters (such as Batman), and can replicate intricate martial arts techniques after seeing them but once – for instance, if they are used against her. She can also, with concentration, replicate less martial sequences of movement, such as typing a password she saw somebody type.

Although she seems superhuman against thugs (or even against crack military SWAT units, and anything between the two), she can be held at bay by the greatest masters in the world, such as Green Arrow (Connor Hawke) or Lady Shiva.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) dodging bullets part 1

Cassandra knows a number of very advanced techniques. For instance she can force her body to enter a healing trance. She can also stop a man’s heartbeat with a punch to the chest – and restart the cardiac muscle with another precise punch.

She can survive quantities of poison that would quickly kill a person twice her weight, and recover from their effects nigh-instantly, burning the remains out of her system. She also has resisted psycho-active drugs and tranquillisers by forcing her body to produce massive quantities of adrenaline.

At one point she even slapped Superboy on the nose through his supposedly impenetrable force field. How she did it and whether she could do that in an actual combat situation is unrevealed.

It is possible to beat Batgirl at her own game, by reading movements and reacting faster and more accurately than she does. Somebody who can do this will enjoy a significant advantage over her. However, the number of people on Earth who can do that presumably only includes two humans (Lady Shiva and Richard Dragon) and a handful of superhuman fighters such as Wonder Woman.

Batgirl does a lot of Take Away Manoeuvres. In DC Heroes terms, her AV and OV usually make that easy, even against multiple opponents. Removing weapons from the fight greatly diminishes the chances of anybody dying and is thus a priority for Cassandra.

Anybody who fights Batgirl can expect to lose any drawn weapon, probably before they can react – especially if it’s a weapon that might harm bystanders, such as a firearm.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) smiles and wave

The girl who wasn’t there

David Cain has erased all traces of Cassandra’s existence. There are no records about her and even the best governmental shadow databases come up empty. There are no DNA samples, no fingerprints, no coordinate clouds for her face, no birth records… and many of the documents that have some connection with her (such as the autopsy of the man she killed) have been stolen or destroyed.

There are new records about her (for instance the US government briefly had extensive video recordings of Cass in action, without a mask), but finding anything about her prior to the end of No Man’s Land is in DC Heroes terms an Herculean task for a Scientist (Research) roll – at best.


History

David Cain, arguably the most accomplished assassin in the world, was interested in his legacy. For instance, to train somebody in the vast répertoire of skills he had learned or developed. That way what was most important to him — his vaunted competence — would not be lost to old age and death.

Cain came up with a plan when he attended a lecture by world-famous neuro-semiologist Lewis Friedman. Professor Friedman made a short, spontaneous digression about using the incredible ability of children to pick up a language from their parents to other ends. Fascinated by the idea, Cain had a conversation with Friedman after the lecture ended, and started plotting.

Cain would procure a baby and start training them in combat and the martial arts intensively from infanthood, never exposing them to language. The idea was that violence and fighting would become the native language of the child, moulding their brain and world view. Cain’s body of fighting and stealth techniques, rather than words, would be their primary interface with the world.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) kicks through a wall

Cain’s first few tries with babies he presumably stole or bought were not successful. The brutal and inhumane training regimen killing them or turning them into completely insane, feral beings. Cain still considered that his idea had merit, and decided to just try harder – by carefully selecting a baby with superior genetic assets.

This quest led him to a prodigy in the martial arts, Sandra Woosan, who would later become one of the very best fighters on Earth as Lady Shiva. Cain and Woosan struck a deal. They had a baby girl, and Woosan abandoned her into Cain’s care, walking away to resume her training.

No one is innocent

The plan worked, and the baby, whom Cain named Cassandra, survived the ordeals and learned Cain’s skills as planned. Cain never told her that he was her father, never allowed her to hear any language until she was six or so, and never let her meet anyone, except for the occasional group of thugs hired for Cassandra to undergo some live fighting training.

Lessons included Cain shooting Cassandra in the shoulder with a .22 from behind while she was busy playing, to teach her never to let her guard down and always be aware of her surroundings.

The assassin exposed the child to nothing but combat, deadly weapons, martial arts, assassination techniques, stealth and infiltration. Before she was even 5, Cassandra could easily kill a man, fully use most guns and bladed weapons, penetrate decent security or handle herself in a combat zone.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) delivers a flying kick

Cain even had Professor Friedman visit his pet project. Through the academic was horrified to see what his off-the-cuff comment had wrought, he was fascinated to see how the child could read non-verbal communication just like other children could understand spoken language.

Knowing that there was nothing he could do and that Cain would kill him if he talked, he studied how Cassandra could beat him at games of paper-scissors-rock with a 100% rate by reading his body to predict what he would do.

When Cassandra was 8 or 9, Cain dolled her up with a pink dress and pigtails, and sent the little girl to conduct her first assassination contract. Looking obviously harmless, Cassandra Cain easily got close to her target despite the security. Then in an eye blink jumped on the man’s desk and clawed his throat open with her bare hand, using a distinctive Cain technique.

Seeing the man die at her hand was a profound shock for Cassandra, who did not know what death was. Horrified and understanding that she had done something terrible, she ran away and disappeared. Being but a random street urchin and having been trained in stealth for years, she was impossible to find even for Cain.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) in her civvies

Since she did not understand any conventional language anyway, there was little barrier to Cassandra regularly moving from one country to the next. When she was about 15, she ended up in Gotham City.

No man’s land

Gotham had just become a no man’s land and was sealed off by the government (see our Renee Montoya profiles for context). Many Gothamites chose to stay, and organised themselves to deal with what was essentially a post-apocalyptic environment.

In particular Barbara Gordon (aka Oracle) started recruiting scouts and couriers. These were usually teenagers who were lithe and swift enough to cross gang turf without being caught. One of her recruits was Cassandra, and it soon became evident that she was by far Barbara’s best runner.

Cassandra came to consider Barbara a friend, occasionally bringing her hard-to-find delicacies such as apples. Gordon returned the attention and started giving her a basic education. She also tried to teach the runner how to speak and read, but that didn’t work.

Cassandra’s brain was wired differently since her development had stressed different cerebral areas. She lacked many of the neural connections necessary for spoken or written language. Still, Cassandra came to consider that the friends of Barbara were also her friends, which was a novel experience for her.

This is at this point that David Cain found Cassandra.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) punches without looking

The master assassin had been hired by Two-Face, one of the warlords of Gotham. The job was to assassinate James Gordon – formerly the Commissioner of Police and now the leader of the Blue Boys gang, mostly made up of ex-police. Spotting the sniper, Cassandra shielded Gordon with her body. Recognising his daughter, Cain froze up then left since he couldn’t pull the trigger.

Cain made another attempt at killing Mr. Gordon, this time up close. His daughter violently interfered, even speaking her first word ever (“stop”) after Ms. Gordon’s painstaking lessons. While Cain was deeply moved at seeing Cassandra again and was amazed that she could pronounce a word, his daughter fought ferociously.

She eventually body-blocked him, defenestrating herself and taking Cain with her. Though Cassandra’s goal was to die to stop David Cain, Batman swooped in and caught them before they hit the pavement.

No hesitation

Batman, having trained with David Cain in his youth, soon figured out who Barbara’s top courier was and why she couldn’t speak. The two managed to communicate by going through sparring drills invented by Cain, which Cassandra used to convey ideas.

The youth was very impressed by Batman, who told her that he would stop Cain. Though he wanted the girl to stay out of the ongoing wars, Batman made the mistake of mentioning that it was Two-Face who had hired Cain.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) runs atop a prison wall

As soon as he left, Cassandra made herself a vaguely Batman-like mask, sneaked into Two-Face headquarters, and forced the psychopath to give her the money intended for Cain. She then threw the money at Cain as he was fighting Batman, to tell him that the contract on Gordon’s head had been cancelled.

Though David Cain was still overwhelmed by his paternal instincts, she made it clear that she utterly rejected him and was now on Batman’s side. With the contract over, David Cain left.

Batman having understood how skilled Cassandra was, he made her a part of his core group of operatives (Nightwing, Robin, Oracle and Azrael). He told the others that they could trust her as one of their own – though at that point she didn’t even have a name. Oracle and Batman agreed to give the youth a Batgirl costume, in the version that had been previously worn by Helena Bertinelli.

Batman detailed Batgirl to bodyguard Leslie Thompkins for a while. Cassandra immediately realised that Dr. Thompkins had raised Batman. Batgirl was also paired up with Jean-Paul Valley (Azrael) to locate and take out Nicholas Scratch, then sent to protect a gas station besieged by a gang.

During this later mission, the gas station owner, a talkative and stubborn man named Sanchez, taught her a bit about not giving in to rage. Later, she bonded with Azrael (but not Jean-Paul Valley), when he explained to her the similarities in their backgrounds.

As they continued to work together, Batman realised that Cassandra was filled with crushing self-loathing over something she had done – to the point of being suicidal. Her aggressive risk-taking during fights was an attempt at going out in a blaze of glory to redeem herself with a good deed.

Cassandra assumed that she having killed and being the pet project of Cain meant that she was intrinsically a bad person.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) takes out men with night vision goggles

During a tense rescue on a sinking ship, Batman came to better understand how badly Cassandra wanted to die doing something good. He realised that she would eventually find a way to sacrifice herself. After castigating her, he left her behind to either die or find a way out of the ship, ordering her to decide whether she wanted to live.

Batgirl understood that he wanted her to fight her demons rather than give in and die well, and swam out with her soul a bit lighter.

A short time later, the No Man’s Land situation ended and the reconstruction of Gotham City began.

No rest

At this point Batgirl still didn’t have a name, and was assumed to have been kidnapped by Cain at birth. She knew at most a half-dozen words despite Barbara Gordon’s best efforts, and nothing substantive was known about her past. Furthermore, she seemed only interested in intensive training and conducting patrols and missions as Batgirl.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) states that she doesn't kill

With Robin (Tim Drake) starting to move away from Batman’s shadow to become his own man, Batgirl came to regularly serve as Batman’s sidekick. Batman trained her in non-lethal techniques and weapons, which she learned at a superhuman speed.

Batgirl lived with Barbara Gordon, who also helped with the martial training but was chiefly interested in teaching her how to speak, and finding ways for her to have a more normal life.

Batman essentially became Batgirl’s new father. Though he was driving her hard and using her like an attack dog, he knew from his own training with Cain that it was the only thing Batgirl could understand for the time being. The constant combat training and sparring was the most meaningful form of communication for her.

Cassandra continued to make progress, learning a few more simple words (such as “what” or “no”). She even decided to learn how to write after she saw the effect a dead man’s last letter had on his widow. However, she was unable to make progress despite her best efforts.

For about 5 minutes, Batgirl also loosely associated with a replacement roster of Young Justice whilst the original members were taking a break.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) disperses a street gang

Cain, who had been devastated by being rejected by Cassandra, then struck back by sending to Batman the video of his daughter’s first and only murder. The blow connected, but Wayne had grown so attached to Batgirl that he decided that the video had to be a fake, and remained in denial for a long time.

No more silence

During a patrol, Batgirl found a hunted man – a bumbling but well-meaning guy called Jeffers. Jeffers had been granted telepathic powers during a medical experiment and was now hunted by his handlers. As he couldn’t find any words in her mind, he instinctively reconfigured her mindscape to put the language centers in the right place.

Suddenly, Cassandra could think with words. But she lost her fluency in violence, her newfound ability taking the place of her body-reading abilities. She wanted Jeffers to make her back as she was, perfect and without words, but the telepath was too inexperienced to undo the complex manipulation.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) takes out a man with a bazooka

At the same time, Batman confronted Cain to learn the truth about the murder video. The assassin who had started drinking, laughed at the Dark Knight’s denial and confirmed that Cassandra had committed murder. Batman persisted in denying that he was harbouring a murderer, though, maintaining that it some sort of deceit on Cain’s part.

The problem of Batgirl’s crippled skills was a more urgent one, though. Batman started training Cassandra to rebuild her fighting ability, and in particular her defensive skills. Since she could no longer rely on her instinct she had to be retrained from the ground up, which would take years.

Batgirl felt desperate, broken and useless, and couldn’t bear the thought of staying that way for what seemed to be an eternity. She wanted to be perfect again, and her suicidal tendencies started coming back as she saw herself as crippled and tainted.

For a time, Cassandra adopted a new identity not tied to Batman, with black clothing and a monster face painted on. Oracle soon deduced the truth, and though Cassandra was clearly careful about what she was doing, operating in Gotham meant that sooner or later she’d run into a situation that would get her killed.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) in her not-Batgirl costume and makeup

Non-Batgirl costume

When Lady Shiva — probably the greatest fighter on Earth — was spotted in Gotham, Cassandra couldn’t help herself and shadowed her. Seeing Shiva dispatch the bodyguards of a girl her age, Cassandra challenged her to a duel to save the girl’s life.

That had been Shiva’s intent all along. She had come to Gotham to fight Batgirl, and had just attacked the first credible target she came across to draw her out.

The duel was a disaster. Ms. Cain didn’t manage to land a single blow on Shiva, who slaughtered her. Amused by Cassandra’s fierceness and unusual technique — and probably sensing oddly familiar about her opponent — Shiva let her live.

With a broken arm, shattered ribs and fractured collarbone, Cassandra doggedly confronted Shiva again, and knocked her out with a lamentable sucker punch.

No better fighter on Earth

At that point, Cassandra was facing a choice. Train with Batman and approach her previous level of fighting perfection in about 10 years, or go with a crazy idea and have the deadly Shiva teach her.

During the duel, Cassandra had seen Shiva use the same movement-predicting senses that she used to have. This was something that even Batman couldn’t do. Shiva likely was the only person on Earth who could rebuild Batgirl’s quasi-superhuman combat sense rather than teach her new skills from the ground up.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) stops a mugging

Confronting Shiva again, Cassandra asked for training. Shiva saw what the problem was with her. She determined that she could quickly restore Batgirl to being one of the very best fighters on Earth. Her interest aroused, Shiva agreed to train her if Cassandra would meet her in a death duel a year later, when Batgirl would be at the pinnacle of her fighting proficiency.

Cassandra agreed to the deal. Though she knew that she would never fight to kill and that Shiva would thus kill her, she preferred to be perfect again for a year rather than mediocre for 10. Dying at Shiva’s hands was also the sort of death she was looking for, to expiate for her original sin in a dignified manner.

Not telling anyone what had happened, Cassandra rebuilt her full fighting skill with Shiva in mere days, and resumed being Batgirl. Batman and Oracle eventually figured out what had happened, though.

One of the first cases of the revitalised Batgirl was to investigate the disappearance of an Indian movie star (anecdotally, she saw a movie for the first time in her life during that case). Batgirl also helped during the investigation and manhunt to find the person who had nearly killed Commissioner Gordon, and had a short team-up of sorts with Superboy (Kon-El, then in his goofier phase).

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) hooded closeup

Continuing to affirm herself as a heroine, Batgirl intervened in an attempt by a US intelligence agency to eliminate one of their useful idiots, a marksman-for-hire who had fumbled a hit.

After she took out all armed resistance within a Federal building, the government had extensive footage of her in action. However, they then discovered that there was no documentation about her anywhere, since David Cain had thoroughly erased those few records that could be found about Batgirl’s activities in her childhood.

However, the footage meant that Cassandra couldn’t stay at Oracle’s place any longer. Batman took her to one of the mini-Batcaves he had installed for her. Oracle, Batman and Batgirl eventually organised a raid and destroyed the footage.

No future

Cassandra continued to work as Batgirl practically 24/7, slowly creating bonds with young allies Robin and Spoiler. She even secretly joined the all-women task force assembled by Wonder Woman to retake New York City from Circe, and later had a short team-up with Supergirl (Kara Zor-El).

Looking to prove herself in the eyes of Batman and Oracle, Batgirl ghosted into Arkham Assylum and took the Joker with her, challenging him to a fight. The situation nearly got out of hand, since the Joker’s body language was gibberish and couldn’t be read by Batgirl.

She eventually prevailed when she recalled how the first Batgirl had defeated the Joker once, by using his insanity against him.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) faster than anyone

Batgirl was active with the ’bat-squad‘ when David Cain tricked the world into believing that Bruce Wayne was a murderer. During that case, Batgirl (who had never asked any personal question to her mentor) deduced that Bruce Wayne was Batman, after watching his eyes on a photo taken shortly after the murder of his parents.

While Wayne was still a fugitive, the date for Batgirl’s death duel with Shiva came up. When Oracle revealed that she knew what was going on, Cassandra paralysed her with a touch so she wouldn’t try to talk her out of it.

Cassandra fought Shiva, but was clearly outmatched. The one-sided duel ended when Shiva killed Batgirl with a single perfect blow.

Mother reads aloud, child tries to understand

Shiva’s peerless power of intuition had led her to the realisation that Cassandra was her daughter a year before, when she retrained her. She had since prepared for the duel – but not just by developing and refining techniques to use against Batgirl’s unique fighting form.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) rushing in

Shiva had also gathered ingredients to prepare a special herbal tea. She further developed a more advanced version of a technique Batgirl had once instinctively used to stop then restart the heart of a man.

The tea was a unique preparation, its ingredients so rare that even Shiva would have been hard-pressed to gather everything a second time. The cardiac technique was so exacting that Shiva meditated throughout the year to build up the concentration needed to execute it.

After killing Batgirl, Shiva took her to a temple erected by cultists worshipping her. She restarted Cassandra’s heart with a punch and made her drink the mystical tea, resurrecting her.

After chatting a bit, she showed the temple to Cassandra. It was a morbid place documenting all the persons Shiva had killed, as the cult considered her to be the literal avatar of the Destroyer. Another feature was the corpse of the cult’s master, whom she had murdered before her duel with Batgirl.

Having recovered her full strength in minutes thanks to the tea, and her longstanding guilt having been washed away when she died, Batgirl reacted as intended. She tried to stop Shiva once and for all. Cassandra realised that Shiva was actually looking to lose the fight and had been provoking her by showing her the temple.

She was hoping that Batgirl would kill her just like Cassandra had been hoping that Shiva would kill her.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) eyes closeup

As the 2 fighters stood bloody and battered, Cassandra startled Shiva by telling her that she knew that she wanted to die at her hand. This created an opening she used to batter Shiva unconscious, before collapsing from the blows taken during the fight.

Shiva’s plan — to die at the hands of her daughter, whom she saw as worthy to give her the death she’d always been looking for — had been derailed. Both grandmistresses of the fighting arts were unconscious but alive.

Being the least severely mauled of the two, Cassandra recovered consciousness first and just left. Though she presumably suspected some sort of link between Shiva and herself, she didn’t seem to realise the truth.

The picture kept will remind me

Even with her healing trance techniques, Batgirl took a week to recover from the encounter with Shiva.

When she was able to return to the field, Batgirl determined that the woman supposedly killed by Bruce Wayne, Vesper Fairchild, had actually been neutralised using a specific nerve strike. This, and her observations as a martial arts and assassination expert, were the key that unlocked the case and led to proving the involvement of David Cain.

Meanwhile, through sheer determination, Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) convinced Cassandra to become her sensei. While sparring with Batgirl was an exhausting and very painful experience, Spoiler doggedly stuck to it, earning her young teacher’s respect.

Soon, the usually solitary and brooding Batgirl came to look forward to these training sessions. Despite their vast differences in personality, training level and verboseness, the 2 young women became friends. During one of their (somewhat one-sided) discussions, Cassandra even came to laugh for the first time in years.

Unfortunately, Spoiler then had to leave due to difficulties in her relationship with Robin (Tim Drake), leaving Cassandra alone again.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) crashes through a window

After a long investigation by Batman and his allies, Cain was captured. David Cain had indeed been hired to destroy Bruce Wayne, and during this mission had deduced that Bruce Wayne was Batman.

Thus, while he executed on his contract like only the best killer on Earth could, he also added a few personal touches to demonstrate that Batman was no better than him, and was not fit to be a substitutive father for Cassandra.

Batman also defeated that latter plan. While he had acted very poorly toward his close allies and family during the crisis triggered by the murder of Vesper Fairchild, he changed his ways. During the hunt for Cain, Batman made significant efforts to apologise, reaffirm his ties with his friends and family, mend fences and become less cold and overbearing.

Thus, by the time Cain spat out what he had hoped to prove, Cassandra knew that he wasn’t true. Despite his past mistakes and remaining failings, Batman was a more loving father figure than Cain ever was.


Description

At first, Cassandra only ever dressed in black – and pretty deep black at that. When she offered a lipstick to Barbara as a small gift, she naturally chose black. Although Barbara gave it back to her as she wouldn’t use it, Cassandra seems to occasionally use it.

She does not wear any accessory or jewellery, and goes for tight black jeans, tight black tank tops or sweaters and black running shoes. She has since relaxed a bit and occasionally goes for lighter colours.

In combat, Batgirl moves in a weird way – too fast, too strong, yet too stilted. She also seems too small and way too thin in relation to what she does, and her brusque moves are unnatural and stylized, like in some Japanese theater styles. This strangeness is lost on most opponents, however, who will see Batgirl mostly as a black blur.

Outside of combat she has proved to be able to be moving remarkably gracefully, notably when she dances. But even then this seems weird as she packs way too powerful muscles for her frame and moves too quickly.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) volunteering

Her body is also peculiar. Although she looks very attractive, it seems every gram of fat (except in her breasts) has been replaced by compact, well defined muscles a la Bruce Lee – her abs are particularly impressive. She also has almost entirely healed scars all over – although you have to look closely to see them, the number of bullet wounds is disquieting.

Due to her small size and slim waist, the utility belt she wears seems way too big for her, with the individual pouches silently flapping whenever she does acrobatics.


Personality

To convey Cassandra’s characterisation, keep it centred around some key themes :

Less-than-verbal

Originally, Cassandra couldn’t speak at all. She eventually learned a half-dozen simple words (“stop”, “what”, “yes”, “no”, etc.), but never managed to learn to read or write. Her brain was unable to process even a short note or an address ; she could draw letter shapes, but couldn’t tell what they meant or how they sounded.

After her encounter with Jeffers, Batgirl can speak, but this is neither intuitive nor pleasant. She’ll stick to the shortest, simplest possible sentences (“Explain”, “Be careful”, “This way”, “No killing”, etc.).

If she has to make longer sentences than that — say, a whole 3 words — she will audibly hesitate and have to think about how to say the next word. She’s less hesitant when saying ’“long” sentences to people she trusts, such as Oracle, but it still obviously requires efforts and is not natural for her.

Whenever possible, she’ll prefer non-verbal communication, such as nodding, pointing, or shrugging her shoulders. For loved ones such as Batman or Oracle, she will occasionally touch them to express caring – unfailingly leaving Batman embarrassed.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) inquiring about the training room

Batgirl seems ashamed of these difficulties, and they leave her a very lonely person since it is so hard to communicate. She is always quietly happy to have a friend near her, and is visibly (but silently) sad when they have to leave, even though little was said. Being such a high-speed, low-drag elite super-serious workaholic ninja doesn’t help at all – she has little to offer socially.

Furthermore, Batgirl is very intimidating. Watching her move and fight is unreal. Even Robin (Tim Drake) was obviously creeped out by Cassandra (especially after he saw her actually dodging bullets) and had to work to see Batgirl as something else than an inhuman, unapproachable super-assassin.

Batgirl’s taciturn manner and super-high-performance pace make her come across as very aloof and superior. Furthermore, it’s difficult for her to perceive the qualities of most people, since what she values in a person is speed, agility and fighting skill but she has few peers in those areas.

She has to be clearly shown the existence of common ground and how she can relate to people, since she has no experience to work with.

Guilt-ridden

Much like Batman, Batgirl’s world is defined by massive childhood trauma. But in her case the murder is not something that was inflicted on her, but something that she committed.

Cassandra’s guilt led her to consider herself as being intrinsically bad and broken, having been raised from birth to be a killer. This overwhelming self-loathing led her to admire heroes and those who fight to protect others.

She’s eager to help and be with such persons if she’s convinced that they are the real deal. Meeting urban vigilantes was a revelation for her, since it was something right even a “wrong” person like her could do.

Originally, Batgirl wanted to do something that could atone for her life, and go out in a blaze of redemption. Batman confronted her about that, obliquely pointing out that it was the easy way out. Real courage was to devote her whole life to confronting her past.

After this Batgirl no longer wished to die just to apologise for existing, but it never quite went way and clearly resurfaced in such situations as accepting Shiva’s offer.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) in a fighting stance

Seeing what she did as a child as unspeakably monstrous, Cassandra only wants to be Batgirl 24/7. Her goal is to spend her every waking hour working, patrolling or training. As she got more comfortable with her new life, she started relaxing a bit and tentatively experimenting with doing more normal things. But she didn’t really want to and had to be prodded into it by Oracle.

After her death at the hands of Shiva, her sense of guilt becomes less crushing and pathological. It remains her motivation and an extremely powerful driver, but it’s no longer completely consuming her. She doesn’t hate herself as much as she used to, since in a way her death restored a sort of balance for what she had done.

Batgirl’s guilt occasionally resulted in nightmares where her friends and love ones were accusing her of being a murderess.

Obsessed with perfection and saving lives

Like Batman, Batgirl is obsessed with acting with machine-like perfection. In her case, it is also because a great deal of her sense of self-worth is contingent upon how she perfect a weapon she feels she is. This is how she used to please her daddy, and she seems to consider that it’s the only thing she’s good for.

If she is deprived of her state of perfection, as happened after her encounter with Jeffers, she becomes nothing and life isn’t worth living.

Batgirl likes impressing her more boisterous foes by smugly doing something that looks impossible to vanquish them and teach them a lesson. People who profess having great skill and deadliness without actually being among the very best in the world particularly irritate her, and she feels pride and anger when it comes to demonstrating her own skills.

If she fails or is defeated, she can resort to childish, petty tactics to pull victory out of the jaws of defeat. She’ll look like a lamentably underhanded schmuck, but she won’t have to deal with having lost.

Batgirl doesn’t seek perfection for perfection’s sake, though. She doesn’t fight to punish criminals, or for justice, or to make a difference. She fights to save as many lives as she can and atone for the one she took. Her overwhelming motivation can be summed in 3 words – “nobody gets killed”.

Batgirl trains extremely hard despite being instinctively perfect. Her hope is that this may allow her, one day, to save one life she otherwise couldn’t have saved. She tends to feel very guilty when people die on her watch, even when it’s blindingly obvious that there was nothing she could have done about it – such as coming to the scene of a murder a few minutes too late.

She has never hesitated to take a bullet herself to protect some random murderous lowlife from friendly fire.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) above Gotham City

Accidentally killing someone would completely destroy Batgirl. When she seemed to accidentally kill the Shadow Thief as his weird physiology reacted to a specific strike, she immediately collapsed in tears and started crying for help, being too shocked to even check his pulse and realise that he was still alive.

Parental figures

Though she’s no longer a kid, Batgirl is at a point of her life where she needs to have parental figures to help her construct some form of identity.

She openly considers Batman a father figure. Early on she practically worshipped him and was pathetically eager to please him and be his good girl. Over time she adopted a more adult attitude, but Batman still rocks her world.

They share a deep bond over their respective childhood experiences and obsessive desire to make the world a better place – though of course they almost never talk about it. Cassandra accepts Batman’s authority unconditionally.

Oracle doggedly built her own space into Cassandra’s life, though initially the youth didn’t see the point. She taught her to talk, she taught her to have some scraps of normal life in her routine, she taught her to relax to some extent, she taught her to dress with something that was not completely functional and jet-black, and was the driving force in socialising her.

Cassandra eventually came to consider Oracle as a mother, though she was too shy to ever tell her.

On the other hand, Cassandra utterly rejects everything that is represented by David Cain – and first and foremost murder and killing for money. Howbeit she rejects everything that he does, not what he is – she could feel some pity for him or even try to please him in a small way as long as he’s not present as an assassin.

Strong emotions

Though she would seem to be carved out of solid marble due to her quasi-inhuman level of discipline, Batgirl is actually emotional and affectionate. However, she doesn’t really have a mean to express it, and thus remains utterly mission-committed. Furthermore, her cowl entirely covers her face (though one can see facial expressions through it to an extent.)

While her emotions are usually difficult to perceive and interpret, they are a significant driver of what she does. In her own way she wears her heart on her sleeve, and can easily be spurred into action out of sympathy, anger, altruism, cockiness and the like.


Quotes

Barbara Gordon introduces her best courier : “She doesn’t have a name. She’s been helping.”

Cassandra: (Draws Cain’s mark on a piece of paper. Points at Jim Gordon then Barbara Gordon ; points at the mark then herself)
Oracle “You’re Cain’s daughter ?”

Cassandra: (Raises her hand, puts her hand in front of her mouth, then makes a fist)
Batman: “You don’t speak any language, do you ? Except violence.”

“Stop.”

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) using a swingline

Batman: “Cain’s an assassin, Barbara. He never taught her stick-fighting. I did. Last week. Took 5 minutes.”

“Need Oracle. She fixes anything. Tried to fix me. Teach me. Bad brain — couldn’t learn the words.”

“I don’t kill.”

Oracle : “But what about your future ? What if you want to… go to school ? Drive a car ? Get a job ? They’ve got your face on file, you’re never going to be able to be anything… besides Batgirl.”
Batgirl (thinks a bit about the implications, then gently) : “So ?”

“People… dying ! My life… worth… more than theirs ? No.”

(After starting to train with Shiva): “Why… are… all people who… can help me… completely insane ?”

“Nobody… dies… tonight.”

Shadow Thief, fighting Batgirl: “Secret Koga-Ryu techniques ! Who taught you those ?!”
Batgirl: “You did. Just now.”

“No killing.”

(Cain is preparing a training session for a very young Cass)
Random hired thug : “Hey man, why you need the camera ? It’s a pro camera.”
Cain (smirking) : “High-speed film.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Batgirl III

Dex: 10 Str: 04 Bod: 06 Motivation: Seeking Justice
Int: 09 Wil: 08 Min: 07 Occupation: Vigilante
Inf: 07 Aur: 06 Spi: 08 Resources {or Wealth}: 000
Init: 040 HP: 070

Powers:
Detect (Lies): 10, Empathy: 10, Recall: 08, Regeneration: 03, Running: 04, Superspeed: 10, Systemic antidote: 01, True sight: 08

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • All Powers are Skilled Powers
  • Both Detect and Empathy have but a 02 APs Range
  • Detect (Lies) is Contingent on Empathy ; Batgirl must be able to see her target at a fairly close distance and track its body language, and it only works on humans and similar beings
  • Recall is limited to body language and ways to move – Cassandra recognises ways to move the way most people recognise faces
  • Regeneration can only work at full APs if she forces her body to enter a cycle where she sleeps twenty hours a day. Without such a cycle, she can only use one AP of Regeneration
  • Running is there to be Pushed, so she can perform a stupendous dash when needed
  • Superspeed can only be used to improve her Initiative, and to to accelerate the time it takes to learn ways to move, particularly when it comes to fighting techniques
  • True sight is limited to piercing disguises, illusions, shapeshifting, etc. She must be able to observe the person moving in both forms (and both forms must be comparable) to use this Skilled Power

Skills:
Acrobatics (Athletics, climbing, dodging): 09, Artist (Dancing): 08, Martial artist (AV, OV): 11, Martial artist (EV, RV)*: 10, Medicine (Forensics): 04, Military science (Camouflage, tracking): 07, Military science (Demolition): 05, Thief (Stealth, locks & safes, pickpocket, security systems)*: 10, Weaponry*: 10

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Martial Artist and Weaponry both have the Multi Attack 2 Bonus
  • Medicine (Forensics) only for analyses where she can apply her Scholars

Advantages:
Headquarters (provided by Batman), Iron Nerves, Lightning reflexes, Rich Friend (Batman), Sharp Eye, Scholar (Assassins’s techniques and strategies ; Martial arts techniques), Schtick (Bloodless Gunfighter, Fists of Fury, Goonbane, Pain Management (Low), Speed-shooting, Stance Assessment, Unfettered Fist), Misc. : Zeroed (see below)

Connections:
Batman (Bruce Wayne) (High, Powerful), Oracle (Barbara Gordon) (High, Powerful), David Cain (High), Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) (High), Nightwing (Richard Grayson) (Low), Alfred Pennyworth (Low), Robin (Tim Drake) (Low)

Drawbacks:
CIA toward saving lives, Guilt (until she is killed by Shiva), MPR (Halting speech), Traumatic Flashback (Killing someone), Socially Inept, Misc.: Illiterate, Power Loss : Superspeed drops to 0 and her OV is capped to 05 if she cannot read an opponent (no nervous system, not alive, utterly unpredictable opponents such as the Joker, etc. – the OV drop is only against that opponent, but the Superspeed loss remains as long as that opponent is around), Power Loss: Batgirl receives a +1CS Penalty to her OVs (and her own OV is penalised by one CS) against opponents with a Martial Artist Skill superior to her Superspeed

Equipment:

  • BAT-COSTUME [BODY 06, Blunting: 04, Flame immunity: 01, Shade: 01, Systemic antidote: 08, Ultra-vision: 04, Limitations : Systemic antidote only against airborne agents]
  • Grapple. A compact gun firing a 05 APs long, BODY 12 swingline tipped with a multipurpose piton/grapnel and able to reel in the line with a STR of 03. This is the standard Bat-crew tool for rooftop acrobatics.
  • Blunt batarangs (x7) [BODY 08, EV 04 (05 w/STR), Gliding: 01, Limitation : Gliding only to extend thrown range, Dart Bonus]. Batarangs can be fitted with a 05 APs long swingline (BODY 12)
  • Edged batarangs (x3) [Same as above, plus Claws: 04 (05 w/STR, 11 w/Martial artists, Dart bonus]. Edged batarangs are usually used to cut and slash stuff at a distance (never as a weapon against living opponents), but Batgirl occasionally uses them by grabbing the middle, wielding them as dual-bladed knives. These very expensive blades are sharp enough to cleave gunmetal.
  • Tracer batarangs (x2) [same as edged batarangs above, plus built-in TRACER [BODY 02, Miniaturization: 06, Radio coms (broadcast single signal only): 06, R#02], mostly to track vehicles.
  • HEADSET [BODY 01, Eye of the cat: 03, Radio communications: 09, Notes: Radio communications can relay Eye of the Cat, transmitting the signal through radio and cellular networks ; Eye of the cat is actually used by Oracle to receive video and sound from the cowl camera.] A flexible tactical headset with a radio, mike and colour video camera built into the cowl.
  • Batgirl also carries a full utility belt… and practically never uses anything from it. For all we know, she’s only carrying packs of Oreos in that thing – though when Shiva inspected it, it was full of sophisticated, hideously expensive gadgets… that Cassandra had never used. The few documented exceptions are :
    • Disposable plastic handcuffs (x6) [BODY 06]
    • C4 charge (with compact disposable timer) [BODY 02, Bomb: 08, Ammo: 01] used to open a stuck bulkhead door
    • A sort of scalpel blade
    • Capsules of smelling salts to wake unconscious people up
  • The small Batcave that she uses has a holographic combat simulator (a danger room, basically) set to her needs – maximum speed, maximum difficulty and all safeties off. The computers also have the full voice recognition and speech simulation suite.

Cassandra Cain owns your world and will beat you up

Batgirl III has a basically superhuman ability to efficiently engage multiple opponents at once, moving so fast as to only be perceptible as a blur and hitting like a truck. She is particularly good at engaging goons, and disarming five men before anybody can react or even register that she is moving is almost routine for her.

With her enormous Initiative, Batgirl will usually Press The Attack. Here’s a standard computation for Cassandra in action, sticking with the example of disarming five men. The penalties for this are +3/+3 CS for the Multi-Attack and the +2/+1 for the Take-Away. On Cassandra’s side :
-1/-0 CS for Pressing the Attack
-1/-1 CS for the Fists of Fury Schtick
-2/-2 CS for the Multi-Attack Bonus on her Martial Artist

For a total of -4/-3 , bringing the penalties back to a modest +1/+1 CS for a quintuple Take-Away. Assuming standard mob associate stats, that’s a 87% success chance for Batgirl (subbing her Martial Artist for EV), and if making it is particularly important she can spend HPs at a very favourable rate due to her Goonbane Schtick.

Of course, with her enormous Thief (Stealth) score, she is also often able to Blindside.


The tragedy of language

After her mind is ’fixed‘ to understand English, fighting and movement is no longer Batgirl’s only language and this devastates her style. That was a Power Complication Subplot, with the following consequences.

Right after the “fix” is done, her Physical AV and OV are capped at 05 ; though she manages to drag her AV back to 08, it proves impossible for her to go higher. Her ability to predict movements being gone, her defensive fu also remains stuck at 05.

She also loses Superspeed – Batman asseses that she is learning at a normal rate and that it will take her a year to restore her AV to 09 and OV to 07, and perhaps ten years to bring her back to AV/OV 10.

Her training will Shiva erases this whole Power Complication Subplot. A year later, during her second encounter with Shiva and after she is killed, some of Cass’s Martial Artist Subskills reach the truly epic level – 11 APs. Prior to Shiva, all of Batgirl’s Martial Artist Subskills were at 10.

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: DC Universe

Helper(s): Kal El el Vigilante, Danielle Mendus, Darci, RD Miles.

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