5702 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Shadowoman of the Secret Defenders (Marvel Comics)

Shadowoman

(Jillian Woods profile #1)


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

Context

Shadowoman is a very, very minor Marvel character who first appeared in 1993. You get no points for guessing that she has shadow powers, but it’s worth nothing that she’s a magical undead protector.

Since we *like* obscure characters (especially those who feel like Player Characters ), she gets two profiles. Later on, she undergoes change and adopts a new identity as Sepulchre.


Background

  • Real Name: Jillian Marie Woods
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Unidentified parents
  • Group Affiliation: Secret Defenders, former member of the Shock Troop.
  • Base Of Operations: Boston, formerly San Francisco.
  • Height: 5’9” Weight: 140 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue-green Hair: Black


Powers and Abilities

The nature of Jillian Woods is unclear. She’s reportedly a ’shade‘, but the word seems to refer to a category of magical beings rather than a specific species. As far as we know she is a rekindled human soul that occupies the shadow of what was once her body.

However, Jillian can turn into a living, breathing woman whenever she wants and for as long as she wants. She seems to have a normal body working in all the usual ways when she does.

When she assumes her natural shadow form, Woods can become intangible, fly, project concussive jets of Darkforce and create fields of preternatural darkness. Her form is usually the shadow of a human female, but she can expand to become a much larger, amorphous volume of Darkforce .

Shadowoman can also survive seemingly lethal damage and quickly regain consciousness. She can slip through strong binding spells that should be able to hold a creature like her.

Ties with the Darkforce

Her shadow form seems to be a mystical gate to the Darkforce dimension. This is where the additional volume of Darkforce (for instance to shoot blasts) comes from. This interface can also be used for some very specialised purposes – for instance to absorb creatures from the Darkforce dimension and dump them back home.

Another stunt is to diffuse Darkforce into the body of a supernatural creature such as an undead animated by the stuff, to reinforce them. However that requires Woods’ full concentration and she’ll usually ’ride‘ as an intangible shadow within the creature she’s feeding when she does that.

Dr. Druid referred to this as “compress[ing her] shadow into a minute pocket of non-being [which would] effect a trans-temporal null-space”. Whatever that means.

In DC Heroes RPG terms it is possible that Shadowoman has some sort of Darkforce-related Omni-Power. If so Druid fed her Hero Points  through Leadership so she could actually use it. The stranger applications of her properties were all performed under direct instructions from Druid and conveniently matched the problem at hand.

Love of the common people

Woods is somewhat charismatic and seemed personable, but she has a terrible track record when it comes to friendship and romance.

There seems to be some odd property about her that pushes people away. This apparently was the case even before she became a shade. It is possible that this is tied to a previous life of hers – perhaps one where she had magical powers.

Whether animals react strangely to her is unknown, but is certainly possible.


History

Jillian Woods had an unremarkable life, marred by poverty and difficulties in establishing lasting links with people. As a child she had more imaginary friends (named Annandale and Tennyson) than real ones. Her father left with another woman, leaving her mother to struggle with constant financial problems.

Woods drifted away from home as she hated the sort of men her mother was dating. She had a long string of short-lived minimum-wage jobs, usually getting fired for disagreeing with her manager. However she did qualify for financial aids to go to college, and enrolled at the USF .

Her student life was mostly spent partying, drinking and chasing men, but her above-average intelligence allowed her to graduate anyway.

Of the occult and taste in men

Some years before, one of the flakes her mother was dating had given her New Age stuff such as tarot cards and crystals. Woods felt a connection with those and developed an interest in the occult. Thus, when Dr. Anthony Druid came to the USF to give a lecture, she attended.

They were instantly smitten with each other, and Druid determined that they were the reincarnation of a couple. In their previous lives as an English noblewoman (Druid) and a wandering Celtic alchemist (Woods), they had shared a romance during the reign of King Arthur.

The alchemist was found and slain by the brethren of the Englishwoman, but swore with his dying breath he would find his love again in another life. Soon, the present-day Woods and Druid (re)started their relationship, and she came to live in his place in Boston.

The transmigration of Jillian Woods

Jillian insisted on accompanying Dr. Druid during some of his outings, though her lover was concerned about the risks. While recovering artefacts, she tripped a mystical ward and was killed by a demon.

Shadowoman flying in shadow form, over a white background

A small spark of life remained. Refusing to see his lover die and full of hubris, Druid used his mastery of the unknown and a nearby mystical statuette, the Bride of Slorioth, to fan that spark. Once this bit of life force was stable, Druid transfused it into Woods’ shadow.

Woods’ thus didn’t pass on to the afterlife – and to keep her going Druid tied her soul to his.

When Jillian awoke, Druid lied to her – as he does. He told her that he had repelled the demon in the nick of time and the attack had somehow given her shadow powers. Unbeknownst to Woods, Druid often “stored” her in the statuette, releasing her to serve him like a genie when she was needed or wanted.

Unbeknownst to Druid, his actions and repeated use of the statuette drained his soul. This fed Slorioth – the demonic creator of the statuette.

Shock Troop

Some time later, Druid assembled a team known as the Shock Troop to help him police occult threats. Jillian was a member and made herself a super-hero costume obviously based on the original costume worn by Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew). She took the name Shadowoman.

Shadowoman fighting magical animations

The other two members were N’Kantu (aka the Living Mummy) and John Scully (aka the second Blazing Skull).

The Shock Troops was seen but once. It would seem that N’Kantu and Scully’s participation was not wholly voluntary and they left quickly. During that case they fought Darkforce creatures and allied with Quasar and some Shi’ar Imperial Guardsmen ; the Darkforce-powered Shadowoman found these creatures easy to handle.

Secret Defenders

After Dr. Strange cursed Dr. Druid to take up his duties as protector, Druid assembled another group, called the Secret Defenders. Woods was the founding operative as Shadowoman.

The two men who were in the field with her for the first mission, Deadpool and Cage, were just mercenaries. Druid used a little mesmerism as well as a paycheque to persuade them to take the mission.

When Shadowoman survived a wound that should have been fatal and wondered what was going on, Druid erased her doubts using hypnotism. Though Woods’ doubts about her true nature slowly grew, Druid would just have her absorbed by the statuette, where no time passed, to keep her out of his hair.

Agamotto’s Pale Horseman (later known as Cadaver) joined the Secret Defenders. The other members beyond him and Shadowoman continued to be manipulated into joining for a short while.

All that remains… is a living sepulchre !

One day, Jillian became aware whilst “stored” within the statuette. A demonic-looking shadow giant (actually Druid’s evil nature, which was taking over him) confronted her there. The giant shadow told Ms. Woods that she was actually dead and that Druid was keeping her tethered and manipulated.

These revelations fanned Woods’ anger as intended. As a result she somehow evolved into a different form, changing her name to Sepulcre (or Sepulchre for us European types).

Sepulcre then burst out of the statuette, intending to have a showdown with Druid.


Description

When living with Druid, Woods adopted a distinctive manner of dress. She looked all sorceress-like through her choice of accessories, occult symbols and black clothing.


Personality

During her early days as Shadowoman she was enthusiastic and somewhat flippant. She seemed confident and light-hearted, and spouted fairly bland super-hero banter.

This was all an attempt at hiding her lack of experience and acumen, though, and not a very good one either. That Woods didn’t quite know what she was doing and missed the extraordinary qualities of a genuine super-hero was visible.

All the lonely people

Jillian’s odd social “curse” made her feel bitter and hunger for affection and friendship. Still, she has her dignity and will not usually come across as needy.

A lifetime of subtle ostracism made her feel a bit off. She also developed a problem with authority as her curse resulted in her often getting singled out by folks in charge as the black sheep.

Her long alienation has made her a sucker for emotional manipulation. Romantic predators can often sense this. She spends a fair bit of time prowling for guys in single bars, and while her attractiveness brings success her overall track record consists of one-night stands or one-week wonders.

Jillian drinks too much, especially when she’s stressed or afraid – and socially. This may be a side effect of spending too much time in bars, or maybe a way to cope with her weird life and the knowledge that she is on some level a demonic undead shadow thing.


Quotes

“Hey, ‘dark forces’ are my speciality ! Let’s move out !”

(Examining a powerful artefact) “This little thing’s what the fuss is all about ? Not much to look at ! I’ve seen better jewelry at K-Mart !”


Sharing

The links to follow us and/or subscribe to our monthly newsletter are at the bottom of this page.



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Shadowoman

Dex: 03 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Responsibility
Int: 04 Wil: 03 Min: 04 Occupation: Occult investigator
Inf: 04 Aur: 03 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 018 HP: 020

Powers:
Darkness (Self-Linked): 08, Dimension Travel (Banishing) Being: 10, Dispersal: 05, Enchantment: 04, Energy Absorption: 10, Flight: 05, Invulnerability: 08, Mental blast: 07

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Dispersal is Contingent on Darkness (Self-Linked)
  • Energy Absorption is limited to Darkforce, and perhaps very similar shadow energies
  • Dimensional Travel (Banishing) Being is Contingent on her Energy Absorption
  • Dimensional Travel (Banishing) Being is only effective against things and entities made of Darkforce, and perhaps very similar shadow energies
  • Invulnerability allows for a special Desperation Recovery Roll as soon as it drags back Shadowoman’s BODY to 00 or above, at no Hero Points cost
  • Enchantment requires Shadowoman to stay Dispersed within the subject as long as she wants the Enchantment to last
  • Enchantment requires all of her Actions to maintain and has but two possible uses:
    • to Enchant creatures with Self-Link (Animate dead), Self-Link (Darkness) or similarly powered and sustained by negative or ’dark‘ energy (-2)
    • to Enchant a Dimension Travel Power whose destination is the Darkforce Dimension

Skills:
Accuracy (Mental blast): 05, Occultist (Identify artefact, Occult knowledge): 04, Thief (Escape artist): 12, Vehicles (Land): 02

Bonuses and Limitations:
Thief is a Powered Skill, is Contingent on Dispersal, and only works on Mystical and Mystic-Linked restraints

Advantages:
Insta-change, Misc.: Shadowoman is not considered to be a living being for most effects that specifically target those. It was also implied she has the Immortal Advantage.

Connections:
Dr. Druid (Low ; since deceased), Cadaver (Low)

Drawbacks:
Partial Attack Vulnerability (-1CS RV vs. emotional manipulation), MIA toward Dr. Druid (now inactive), MIA toward Alcohol, Secret Identity, Socially Inept (see “Love of the common people” below), Misc.: Using a mystic ritual (casting time 1 Phase, component the Statuette of Slorioth) Jillian can be bound into or manifested from the Statuette – see “Tether” below.


Tether

Whenever needed, Druid could have Jillian be absorbed into the Bride of Slorioth – a 20-25cm tall golden statue of a woman stepping forward in a long stride. Once she was in, he could release her with another mental effort, though several hours had to pass between absorption and release.

While within the statuette, no time passed for Shadowoman – in fact she was unaware that she had been absorbed and trapped into the statuette. She is ’stored‘ in there with her belongings – such as clothes, shoes and jewellery.

The magical operation seemed easy – something in the vicinity of full RAPs using Occultist (Identity Artefact) against an OV/RV of 06/06 might be sufficient to learn how to do it without a roll. However, using the Bride of Slorioth turned out to have subtle deleterious effects – it weakened Druid’s soul and fed the creation of a dark manifestation of his evil, further empowered by Slorioth.

The statuette was presumably not sufficient by itself, though, and the core of the corruption was likely the evil deeds of Druid.

The current location of the Bride is unknown – perhaps it is now in Slorioth’s dimension.


Game Stats — DC Adventures RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Shadowoman — Averaged PL 5.6

STR STA AGL DEX FGT INT AWE PRE
00 (01) 00 (02) 00 01 01 01 01 01

Powers

Augmented vitality ● 22 points ● Descriptor: Shade nature
– Enhanced Strength 1, Enhanced Stamina 2, Enhanced Fortitude 4
– Immortality 10 (Limited 1 – doesn’t work if her link to the Darkforce is severed)
– Defensive Roll 1
– Feature (Jillian is not considered a living being for those effects that only affect the living)

Darkforce powers ● 61 points ● Descriptor: Shade nature, Darkforce
– Expanding herself into a darkness field — Insubstantial 2 Linked w/Burst Area 2 Concealment Attack 5 (all Visual senses, Concentration Flaw)
– Darkforce blasts — Ranged Damage 6
– Flight 4, Move-by Action
– Darkforce-proof — Protection 10 and Enhanced Fortitude 10 (both Limited 3 to Darkforce and similar energies), Second Chance (Darkforce)
– Slippery, shadowy, silent — Sleight of hand 18 (+19)

Darkforce dimension interface Array ● 9 points ● Descriptor: Shade nature

  • Dark energy infusion — Enhanced trait 4, Affects Only Other, Concentration, Can be applied to any trait with a Descriptor such as Darkforce, Shadow, Dark Energy, Necromancy, Undead, etc.
  • Suck back to the Darkforce dimension — Movement 1 (Dimensional travel to Darkforce dimension), Reaction, Attack, Limited 2 (Only affects creatures from the Darkforce dimension or a very similar one)

Combat Advantages

Close attack 2, Defensive Roll 1, Move-by Action

Other Advantages

Second Chance (Darkforce), Ritualist

Skills

Athletics 1 (+2), Deception 1 (+2), Expertise (Occultism) 8 (+9), Insight 1 (+2), Perception 3 (+4), Persuasion 1 (+2), Ranged combat (Darkforce blasts) 6 (+7), Sleight of hand 18 (+19), Vehicles 2 (+3) (Limited 2 to common land vehicles)

Offense

Initiative +0
Unarmed +3, Close, Damage 1
Darkforce blasts +7, Ranged, Damage 6

Defense

Dodge 4 Fortitude 6
Parry 2 Toughness 3/2*
Will 6

* Without Defensive Roll

Complications

  • Vulnerability Jillian craves companionship and is thus easily manipulated
  • Identity Weak secret ID
  • Disability Jillian has some mystical property that makes most people dislike her
  • Vulnerability Shadowoman can be stored into the Bride of Slorioth without realising it
  • Addiction Something of an alcohol problem

Power levels

  • Trade-off areas Attack & Effect PL 7, Dodge/Toughness PL 4, Parry/Toughness PL 2, Fort & Will PL 6
  • Point total 126 Abilities 10, Defences 10, Skills 11, Powers 92, Devices 0, Advantages 3. Equiv. PL 9.


Tether

Whenever needed, Druid could have Jillian be absorbed into the Bride of Slorioth – a 20-25cm tall golden statue of a woman stepping forward in a long stride. Once she was in, he could release her with another mental effort, though several hours had to pass between absorption and release.

While within the statuette, no time passed for Shadowoman – in fact she was unaware that she had been absorbed and trapped into the statuette. She is ’stored‘ in there with her belongings – such as clothes, shoes and jewellery.

The magical operation seemed easy – something in the vicinity of a DC35 Expertise (Magic) check might be sufficient to learn how to do it. However, using the Bride of Slorioth turned out to have subtle deleterious effects – it weakened Druid’s soul and fed the creation of a dark manifestation of his evil, further empowered by Slorioth.

The statuette was presumably not sufficient by itself, though, and the core of the corruption was likely the evil deeds of Druid.

The current location of the Bride is unknown – perhaps it is now in Slorioth’s dimension.

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Marvel Universe (chiefly Secret Defenders issue)

Helper(s): Darci, Kal El el Vigilante, Chris Cottingham

Subscribe to our MINI-NEWSLETTER !

One bare-bones e-mail per month. Plain text. Short. To the point. Learn more.