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Thessaly (Sandman / DC Comics Vertigo)

Thessaly


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

Context

The witch Thessaly was a minor character in the great run of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. She first appeared in 1991. She was intriguing enough that it was agreed to have more books, albeit not Gaiman-penned, about her. Though this sort of thing is risky, it worked out this time. She had two Limited Series, in 2002 and 2004.

She is a powerful, shadowy, ruthless, immortal character wielding immense occult knowledge. What could possibly go wrong, eh ?


Background

  • Other Aliases: The Thessalian, Larissa, Orthea.
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Base Of Operations: Globally mobile.
  • Height: 5’7” Weight: 130 lbs.
  • Eyes: Green Hair: Light brown


Thessalia

(The following is from Dilos.com , a tourism site of all things.)

Thessaly is a sort of plateau in central Greece, walled by mountains. It was known in Classical times as a wild land of dangerous men, the finest horses in Greece, and centaurs.

Thessaly or Thessalia is surrounded by high mountain ranges bordering Macedonia to the north, Sterea Ellada to the south, Epirus to the west and the eastern shoreline is on the Aegean. It has a higher percentage of flat land than any other part of the country.

The mountains Pindos, Othrys, Ossa and Agrafa surround the entire plain. Among them Pinios river flows draining into the Aegean Sea after passing through the area of Tempi. This part was the home of ancient gods and Centaurs.

History

Thessaly was a rich country and a major supplier of horse to Athens and other parts of Greece, governed by a few noble families owning most of the land and controlling the cities, especially Larissa, Crannon, Pheres and Pharsalus.

During the 5th and 4rth century B.C. Thessaly was a “federal” state that could, in time of war at least, be placed under the supreme leadership of a commander in chief called the Tagos. It was divided into four major regions :

  • Hestiaotis in the northwest.
  • Pelasgiotis in the northeast.
  • Thessaliotis in the southwest.
  • Phthiotis in the southeast.

However it is not clear enough how united they were.

People in the regions surrounding Thessaly, such as Dolopes from the Pindos range, Magnetes from Magnesia, Achzans from Phthiotis were at times subjected to a tribute by Thessalian kings (Xenophon ’s Hellenica, VI, I, 19). Thessalia was playing a major role in the protection of the sanctuary of Delphi as a leading member of the Delphic Amphictiony .

Myths

Mythology knows of several heroes named Thessalus. They are supposed to have given their name to the region. One was the son of Heracles and Chalciope, daughter of Eurypylus, king of the island of Cos and a son of Poseidon. Heracles killed him on his way back from Troy because he didn’t want to let him land in his island.

This Thessalus became king of Cos as had been his grandfather and had two sons, Phidippus and Antiphus. These took part in the Trojan war (Iliad, II, 577-579) and, after coming back, settled in Thessalia. They gave the region its name in memory of their father.

Another Thessalus was a son of Jason and Medea who escaped his mother’s wrath. He fled to Iolcos to become king of the place at the death of Acastus, the son of Pelias.


Powers and Abilities

Thessaly is quite probably the most badass witch in the world. She knows thousands of rituals, and has truly vast experience of both the mundane and the occult. She can impose her will on mind and matter without apparent effort (in DC Heroes RPG terms, Sorcery). Howbeit, the big stuff will require rituals.

For instance she can place a geas  on people so they will not leave a room (see quotes). Or she can have more than a dozen persons simultaneously leave a dinner she’s lunching in, each being convinced they have perfectly good reason to leave and everything is all right.

Her use of the synchronicity highway is quite impressive. She can drive from Italy to America with a pickup truck in a few days, or have the stairway of her apartment effortlessly become a stairway into the allegorical subway.

Badass

Thessalian witches were, according to myth, feared by the gods themselves. And Thessaly is the last, most powerful and baddest of them. She is also incredibly charismatic, ezspecially with the backing of her magic (in DC Heroes RPG terms, Sorcery mimicking Shouting) to utterly confuse her opponent and manipulate him.

Although she doesn’t looks like one, she’s a pretty mean knife fighter. Thessaly has proven very handy with an axe, too. She can easily kill several persons, especially if she has some form of blade.

A common tactic of hers when entering a trap is to create a doppelgänger and hide herself nearby. She will then change the battlefield to her convenience as he observes what is happening.

The allegorical subway

The allegorical subway appears to be the Realm of the Just Dead, as seen from a very specific angle. It is nearly identical to the New York City subway system, except it is populated by the dead. Feel free to showcase as many dead characters from fiction as you can manage.

The allegorical subway is particularly powerful as a ground for quests. You can take highly standardized fantasy quests here.

For instance it’s easy to have the traditional three encounters each protected by a traditional guardian, who is traditionally ten time as powerful as the previous and ten times less powerful than the next. And yes, they will offer traditional challenges in a mix of traditional settings and the A line.

Thessaly has read all the books and knows all the myths. As a result, everything in the Subway is a trite cliché for her. This means that the quests will be trivial for her, especially given her abilities. But they have the advantage of being nigh-unblockable divination. If the entire quest is done, a question asked by the questers will be answered.

Thessaly occasionally uses the allegorical subway to divine who and where are her enemies. Then she kills them.


History

Thessaly is the only surviving witch-woman from the lowlands. She was born “in the day of greatest darkness, in the year the bear totem was shattered”. Presumably, that’s pretty far back in prehistory. She seems to be homo sapiens sapiens — either cro magnon or modern — but that may mean little.

She once lived in the Thessalian temple in Knossos, and killed a drunk man who urinated on its walls. She apparently has struck various bargains with mystical entities, extending her lifespan in exchange for services.

A game of you

Dream of the Endless and Thessaly once met in a skerry. He took an interest in her, as she wasn’t impressed, but she didn’t reciprocate. However, she came to dream of him, and thus spend time in his realm. She let herself be courted, and they had a relationship.

This eventually came to a very cold end. But what happened is only known through Thessaly’s words. She will not admit even to herself what her true feelings were, and how they changed.

In 1991, Thessaly was studying art history in New York. Then the dream world once inhabited by a young woman named Barbara was hijacked by a mystical entity, the Cuckoo. Barbara was Thessaly’s neighbour. When the Cuckoo ordered his agent to release projections to kill everyone in the building, Thessaly killed the projections and the agent.

The deadly witch then interrogated the corpse and created a moon path to travel to Barbie’s dream world and kill the Cuckoo.

The kindly ones

Thessaly continued to study in the US. She spent time in Chicago, then heard about the library in UCLA and transferred to Los Angeles. At some point she started calling herself Larissa.

When Hippolyta Hall went to the Kind Ladies to have her vengeance on the King of Dream, Larissa, who still felt vengeful herself for her past relationship with Dream, bargained with the Ladies. She exchanged a few thousand years of additional lifespan in return for finding Hall’s mortal body and protecting it against any attempt by Dream to destroy him.

Dream came to confront her. But by his nature had to abide the rules, and Larissa coldly rebuked him. She told him that it had been established there’s nothing she wanted he could give him anyway. Eventually, Dream died, the Furies’ task was done, and Larissa let Lyta Hall go.

(See the aforelinked Lyta Hall profiles if, through some unfortunate circumstances, you’re not familiar with this story. Also, seriously, read Sandman.)

More adventures

More recently she hunted down four gods of death. These were after her soul for spiritual nourishment after Hell had invaded their death-realms.

Thessaly also confronted a peculiar fetch. It was an amalgamation of the thousands she had killed during her long life, and had fallen in love with her.

She also destroyed a thaumic null, a supposedly indestructible entity who was bent on destroying her.


Description

Thessaly usually comes across as a stern, dull young woman – the stereotype of some kind of librarian. In recent years she has been drawn as cuter and perkier, though.


Personality

Thessaly is badass. She isn’t afraid of anything or anyone. She just want to be left free to live as she sees fit, and study. If something tries to kill her, she is capable of boundless violence. She will go to any length to coldly demolish anything that has threatened her.

She is ancient, and powerful, and of great will. Oce she has decided something, it will happen, and she doesn’t care at all for the free will of others.

She has been threatened many, many times by entities of great power. That means many, many terrible things will happen if she ever dies. But she doesn’t really care. She know she’ll always be smart and powerful and resolute enough never to die, and to ultimately overcome or outmaneuver them all. Gods, angels and demons all have tried to kill Thessaly, and all have failed.

On serious Earth

Thessaly has no sense of humor whatsoever. She doesn’t make jokes, is quite intense all the time, and will usually assume people around her aren’t joking or being sarcastic.

She’s more vengeful than she’s careful. The witch can take considerable risks and trigger considerable collateral damage to get to somebody who tried to hurt her, even if that person didn’t know who she was.

For instance, her actions once triggered a violent hurricane in New York, killing several. This happened after she metaphysically lowered the moon to New York in order to walk her path to the Dreaming. But she didn’t care as her point had to be made. And her point was – don’t cross Thessaly.

Thessaly’s calm when it comes to the occult is amazing. She thinks nothing of butchering the skin of a man’s face, then plucking the eyes out and ripping the tongue off with her teeth so as to interrogate him beyond death. Or of cutting a 400 pounds man into very small bits with a butcher’s knife, then pushing the bits into a very small jar, one by one.

She also treats zombies like somebody who’s used to dogs might treat potentially dangerous mutts, being very comfortable and not feeling any fear.

Low profile

Thessaly lies low. She moves around, learn things, read books but never involves herself in anything. She’s content being Thessaly, and has no ambition beyond that. She doesn’t let most people close to her, although she will be a good neighbour and a member of the community. She’s pretty much asexual.

Although she’s a ruthless killer when necessary, she’s quiet and polite with most people. She’s not kind, but she will help if there is a problem.

Being a smart person and a connoisseur, Thessaly is a tea drinker. Among other things she enjoys red zinger, mint madness and a cramp-bark and chamomile blend of her own.


Quotes

“I’m really sorry. I don’t think I’m explaining things very well. Uh – let me try this again. You aren’t going anywhere. You aren’t calling anyone. None of you can leave this room unless I want you to. You can try it if you like. ”

“Like I said – I don’t make jokes. I just never got the knack.”

Hazel : “Witchcraft ? You mean, like New Age stuff ?”
Thessaly : “*New* age ? No. Quite the opposite, really.”

“Here do I charge you and command you in all things to speak the truth, holding back nothing. Else I shall summon the hounds of Hell to whip your shade through the world until the moon falls and the sun grows cold.”

“Gorgo, Mormo, Ereschigal : three-face woman. I fetch you, tie you, bind you ; there are none left to save you in this old world, none to beat cymbals, and distract you with sharp cries. We have walked together in the past, you and I. I have bound you as a hare, as an owl, as a lantern. I have bound you in your house in the heavens ; now I call you down to me. We are old friends, you and I. She who dies and lives and never dies, be here for me.”

Hazel : “Why did you do that ? Kill her just like that ?”
Thessaly : “She needed to be taught a lesson.”
Hazel : “But you just *killed* her.”
Thessaly : “Yes. That was the lesson : you don’t get a second chance.”

“She attempted to harm me. Her life is mine.”

“Do you know how hard it is to find a black lamb in West Hollywood ? I had to order this one from an exotic pet shop. She’s going to be your guardian” (sacrifices said baby goat with her butcher’s knife)


Later quotes

“Careful, old ghost. If you start enjoying this trip, you may accidentally forget to think of me as a terrible, horribly repressed mass murderess out on the bloody trail of vengeance.”

“Hebrew magic, yes. I do it all. At the level I practice, magic loses most of its cultural barriers. And all of its limitations.”

“Let that be a lesson for me, Lyta, and for you too, if you can hear me. Nothing is harmless. Nothing is too cute and sweet to be dangerous. Nothing is safe.”

“I don’t have a television machine.”

Guardian of tomes : “You’re already far too dangerous by most accounts, Thessaly. Now you want me to exacerbate that condition by giving you access to the most destructive collection of spells in every known creation ?”
Thessaly : “Calm down. I know most of them already. I crafted many of them. And I only need to learn one more.”

“I’d take a shower, and then start running, if I were you. Lots of people are going to want to hurt you or kill you for what you’ve done.” (long, cold pause) “Including me.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Thessaly

Dex: 05 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: A quiet, scholarly life
Int: 07 Wil: 10 Min: 09 Occupation: Witch
Inf: 10 Aur: 10 Spi: 12 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 021 HP: 080

Powers:
Magic sense*: 07, Sorcery: 09

Bonuses and Limitations:
Sorcery has an Area of Effect.

Skills:
Animal handling (horses): 05, Artist (sculptor): 05, Occultist: 14, Vehicles (land): 03, Weaponry (melee)*: 05

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (Allegorical subway), Familiarity (butchery), Iron Nerves, Languages (Ancient Greek, Italian, French, Russian, Hebrew, and presumably dozens of others), Scholar (History, art history, mythology and presumably others), Misc.: Thessaly owns dozens of houses across the world, Misc.: Although Thessaly is not directly immortal, she has always been able to obtain centuries of additional lifespan in exchange for services.

Connections:
Magic Community (High).

Drawbacks:
SIA to vengeance, MPR (near-sighted).

Equipment:
Thessaly usually carries a small folding knife – and occasionally something bigger, like a very sharp butcher’s knife [BODY 04, EV 03]. Her houses are full of components for rituals, and she’s likely to have procured a guardian – for instance she could have built a golem [DEX 05 STR 08 BODY 02 Skin armour: 07] .

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: DC Universe

Helper(s): Danielle Mendus, Eric Langendorff, Evan May.

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