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Matthew Tate (Billy Wirth in Charmed) warlock

Matthew Tate


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

Context

Matthew Tate is a baddie who appeared in the first season of the Charmed TV show. If you’re not familiar with the show, you should first read one of the Charmed Ones character profiles, such as Piper’s.

He’s the most powerful opponent the sisters face in Season One. As a power thief, he could be an interesting foe for beginning Players Characters.

This writeup has SPOILERS for Charmed season 1, episode 9, The Witch is Back.


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Background

  • Real Name: Matthew Tate.
  • Marital Status: Presumed Single.
  • Known Relatives: None shown, but it’s very likely he had children.
  • Group Affiliation: None.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile; formerly Salem, Massachusetts in 1692.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Dark Brown.


Which Witch is Witch?

The differences between witches, warlocks, and demons are never clearly spelled out in the Charmed Universe. In popular usage, witches are female and warlocks are male. But that is not true in the Charmedverse; the show has both female warlocks and male witches.

The primary distinction seems to be that witches naturally grow more powerful over time, but warlocks and demons must artificially gain power from others.

Witches

A witch is born with a magical power which grows and develops over time. The Halliwell sisters each get stronger over the course of the first season of Charmed. An early second season episode shows that in ten years time each power will grow exponentially.


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The powers grow in complexity as well as strength, evolving and giving rise to brand new abilities. In seasons two and three, each of the Halliwell sisters spontaneously develops a new power. By the end of the show’s 8 seasons, each sister will have two or three distinct powers.

Melinda Warren, ancestor of the Charmed Ones, had three different powers. It’s never spelled out for us, but if the example of the Halliwells is any indication, Melinda likely started with one power and developed the other two as she grew stronger.

Melinda’s three powers — moving objects with her mind, freezing time, and seeing the future — were generally inherited by her descendants. But her descendants also developed their own variants. Astral projection, pyrokinesis, ice production, explosive powers, and empathic abilities are some examples.

So the powers of a witch, or a family of witches, grow in two distinct ways: gaining strength and birthing new abilities.

Warlocks

Warlocks and demons also possess some hereditary powers. Matthew Tate reportedly copied the power of Blinking (a form of teleportation) from a witch. At that time, in the 17th century, Blinking was a power of witches. By the 20th century, there were no longer witches manifesting that power/ This suggests that Matthew probably killed his power donor before the witch could have children.

But many 20th century warlocks have the Blinking power, so much so that it’s now seen as a warlock trait. The implication is that Matthew probably had one or more children sometime before he fought Melinda Warren, passing the Blinking power into the warlock bloodlines.

But while warlocks and demons inherit at least some of their powers, there is little evidence on the Charmed television show that those powers naturally grow or evolve over time, as with witches. Instead, warlocks and demons amass more power by killing witches, stealing their powers in the process.

Witches vs. Warlocks

My own personal hypothesis, NOT STATED ON THE SHOW, is that abilities stolen from a witch are “frozen” at the strength they had when stolen. They no longer grow or develop into new powers. My guess is that their inherited powers likely do not evolve either, at least not to the extent that a witch’s powers do.

Most warlocks and demons have more powers than the Halliwell sisters, having stolen those powers over many years. But quantity of abilities somehow does not override the quality of Halliwell magic. Demons have more abilities but less overall power.

The one exception I can see to this is a demonic seer in season 7 who talks about her own power progression. But if such progression does occur, it is much slower than for the Halliwells, happening over centuries rather than over months. Of course, that points out another distinction; demons and warlocks age much more slowly than human witches.

Another distinction between witches, warlocks, and demons is that warlocks and demons are predisposed to be evil. Witches, like normal humans, may choose good or evil. Witches on Charmed are given their powers to do good. Furthermore; they are sworn not to use their powers for personal gain or to harm others. (Well, others who aren’t warlocks or demons.)

Some witches have been shown to break those codes, however, and become dedicated to the full-fledged pursuit of power. It’s been suggested that evil witches can become warlocks if they go so far as to start killing other witches for their powers. Familiars who turn on their masters can also become warlocks.

Witch and Warlock

But a warlock’s descendants will all be warlocks, and like demons, those descendants seem to be evil from the beginning. Brendan Rowe, a powerful warlock who fought his evil nature and ultimately renounced his powers, is the exception proving the rule.

Brendan was a half-breed, a warlock whose mother was human. His human half gave him the capacity to fight his evil side, but the only way to permanently triumph over it and retain his free will was to give up his powers. Full-bred warlocks and demons seem to be universally evil.

Distinguishing warlocks from demons is even harder than distinguishing them from witches. Warlocks look like normal humans whereas many demons have obvious non-human appearances. But some warlocks, like the Rowe coven, have a secondary demonic form while some demons can appear human.

Indeed, in later seasons many of the most powerful demons will be fully human in appearance. Warlocks generally seem to have a lower status in the Underworld than demons do, but this is not a function of power; many extremely powerful warlocks have been seen.

One of them is Matthew Tate, who could potentially have been the most powerful of all time… if he’d not been stopped by Melinda Warren and the Charmed Ones.


Powers & Abilities

Matthew Tate is a warlock with the power of mimicry, which allows him to copy any magical ability used against him. After that, he is immune to the power which he has copied. Such copied powers are generally permanent, although they can be stripped away by means of a ritual spell.

In the 17th century Matthew copied all three of Melinda Warren’s powers. So for a short time he was telekinetic, could freeze time, and see the future. Melinda stripped those powers from him.

In the 20th century he was able to recopy telekinesis and precognition from two of Melinda’s descendants, Prue and Phoebe Halliwell. The Charmed Ones and Melinda again stripped those abilities when they banished him.

As those incidents illustrate, Matthew is able to gain immunity to powers, but apparently not to spells cast through ritual means. At least, he was not immune to that particular spell, which Melinda devised specifically for him.

Other assets

Matthew has other powers, presumably copied from witches he met before Melinda. One power is confirmed; there could be others. The verified ability is “Blinking”, the power to teleport over short distances with a blink of the eyes.

Matthew also demonstrated an unexplained ability to jump safely out of a 12th-story window, landing lightly on his feet without harm. It’s possible that this was a limited form of levitation, copied from some unknown witch.

It’s also been suggested that this may have been a creative use of Prue’s telekinetic power.


History

Matthew Tate was a powerful 17th-century warlock who fought Melinda Warren, the foremother of the Charmed Ones. Little is known of his past before meeting Melinda.

He met (and presumably killed) at least one witch before he met Melinda, taking the power of Blinking from his victim. Since his Blinking power was passed down to other warlocks, he presumably had one or more descendants.

During the time of the Salem witch trials, around 1692, he seduced Melinda Warren and had a passionate affair with her. In the process he apparently pretended to be a witch. Melinda knew he had powers and willingly shared hers with him.

Once he had all her powers, he exposed her as a witch so that she would be arrested and executed. He gambled, correctly, that Melinda would not expose him in return since that would confirm her own powers. She maintained her innocence and chose to allow her execution so that her infant daughter could grow up free of the suspicion of witchcraft.

Melinda’s revenge

It’s never stated why Matthew chose to seduce Melinda rather than attack her directly (as he later attacked the Charmed Ones). At a guess, he did not want to put Melinda on guard until he could copy all three powers. Had he revealed himself prematurely, she would have tried to avoid using her powers against him.

It may also have been a game to him. Matthew certainly reveled in his betrayal of her, visiting Melinda in captivity so he could gloat. This was a mistake.

Though Melinda had chosen to sacrifice herself for her daughter’s freedom, she didn’t intend to allow Matthew to go free as well. She cobbled together a ritual to strip the powers he stole from her and punish his betrayal. When he came to gloat, Melinda pretended to be overwrought and threw a locket at him, one he’d given her while they were courting.

Matthew caught the locket, smugly telling her he could give it to the next witch he seduced and betrayed. But the potion she’d put in the locket burst into flame, and Melinda recited the powerful curse she’d devised to imprison him inside.

He would spend all eternity in oblivion, outside of time or gain. Only Melinda herself or a witch of blood kin could open the locket and set him free. Legend passed down through the Warren line of witches stated that Matthew must never be freed, lest he destroy the Warrens completely.

The Warlock is Back

The present-day descendants of Melinda Warren were the Halliwell sisters, Prudence, Piper, and Phoebe. Prue, the eldest, worked at an auction house which had been infiltrated by two warlocks, Rex Buckland and Hannah Webster.

Rex and Hannah suspected that Prue and her sisters were the Charmed Ones, descendants of Melinda prophesied to become the most powerful witches ever seen. Rex arranged for Prue to receive the locket and assess its value. As he and Hannah hoped, Prue opened the locket while examining it, releasing Matthew.

Matthew immediately attacked Prue. He copied her power when she defended herself. When she proved to have only one of Melinda’s powers, Matthew deduced that Prue must be sharing the powers with other family members.

Stalker

Their fight attracted attention and Matthew chose to make his exit through the window of Prue’s 12th story office. He promised to track down her family, get back all of Melinda’s powers, and kill them all.

Matthew began a killing spree, tracking down anyone named Halliwell. Rex and Hannah decided he was drawing too much attention and offered to be his local guides to the 20th century. They helped him blend in and promised to show him where he could find the other Halliwell sisters. Rex and Hannah intended to betray and banish him themselves once he defeated the Charmed Ones for them.

However, Prue and her sisters magically summoned the spirit of Melinda Warren for help. Though Matthew copied the power of precognition from Phoebe Halliwell, Melinda helped the Charmed Ones gain the ingredients they needed to curse him back into the locket.

When the Charmed Ones released Melinda back into the realm of the dead, Melinda took the locket with her. This likely trapped Matthew for all eternity, as she intended.


Description

Matthew is a big man with shoulder length brown hair and brown eyes. Both Melinda Warren and Hannah Webster found him attractive… somehow. He wore ordinary clothing in 17th century Salem, including trousers, a white shirt, and a vest.

In the modern day Hannah picked out clothing for him, including a jacket and tight leather pants.


Personality

Matthew can apparently be a charmer when he desires, when seducing or otherwise gaining the trust of a target. His tendency to gloat and his taste for revenge were his undoing.


Quotes

“I had to make you trust me. It was the only way to share your power.”

“I tricked you into using your power on me. Now I have it.”

“I see Melinda’s here. Good. She will die at my hand.”

Matthew Tate: “This is not the end !”
Melinda Warren: “Yes it is.” (Said as she banishes the screaming Matthew into his eternal prison.)


DCU or Marvel History

Matthew could easily fit into the DCU or your campaign universe. See the writeups for Prue, Piper, and Phoebe for suggestions on incorporating the entire Charmed universe.

If you just want to use Matthew, he could easily have battled an ancestor of one of your PCs, and come after your players for revenge much as he came after the Charmed Ones. In the Marvel Universe, he’d likely target Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, or the Witch’s children Billy and Tommy.

Alternately, he might target the Salem’s Seven, and be in a three-way fight between him, the Seven, and the PCs.

Even Matthew wouldn’t be stupid enough to go to Shady Hollow and take on Grandma Pumpkin, though.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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Matthew Tate

Dex: 04 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Power Lust
Int: 04 Wil: 03 Min: 04 Occupation: Warlock
Inf: 04 Aur: 03 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 000
Init: 012 HP: 015

Powers:
Jumping (ML): 05, Adaptation (ML): 12, Power Immunity: 09, Teleport (ML): 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Adaptation can only be used on Powers that are first used against him (-2).
  • APs of Adaptation need not be split between Powers, so each copied Power is equal to the original, up to a maximum of 12 APs (+3).
  • Adapted Powers are Permanent (+3) unless Neutralized (-1), in which case they have to be copied again.
  • Jumping has the Catfall Bonus but can only be used for falls (as far as we know, -2).
  • Power Immunity — see the last paragraph of “Monster Mash” below.
  • Teleport lacks the normal +7 Range Bonus (-1).

Advantages
Attractive.

Connections:
Rex Buckland (Low), Hannah Webster (Low).

Drawbacks:
SIA to revenge on Melinda Warren; MIA to gloating.

Genre:
Action.


Design notes

He has only one appearance, so many stats are speculative. His ability to Catfall could easily indicate a broader self-levitation power, or it may simply be a creative use of the Telekinesis he copied from Prue Halliwell.

His Teleportation Range isn’t certain, but it seems that he definitely couldn’t teleport across San Francisco; he had to physically travel the distance from Quake restaurant to the Halliwell home.


Monster Mash

Matthew’s primary ability is to copy powers that are used against him. This is apparently permanent unless the copied powers are later stripped from him magically.

“Used against him” is a flexible term, not limited to attack powers. For instance, when Phoebe Halliwell touched him and saw his future, that triggered his ability and he gained the power to see the future as well.

Matthew’s power of Blinking (a form of Teleportation) is said to be a power he originally copied from a witch. His ability to land unharmed on his feet after a 12-story drop (Jumping with the Catfall Bonus) likely is as well, possibly some form of levitation. It’s also been suggested that it may have been a (very) creative use of the Telekinesis he copied from Prue Halliwell.

In the 17th century Matthew copied three powers from Melinda Warren, the foremother of the Charmed Ones. This allowed him to move objects with his mind, freeze time, and see the future. The exact limits of Melinda’s powers are unknown, but based on the powers of the Charmed Ones, Matthew would have had roughly Telekinesis: 05, Mental Blast: 05, Time Stop: 07, and Precognition: 11.

More mashing

Melinda stripped these powers away from him, but in the late 20th century he was able to copy two of them back. From Prue Halliwell he copied the power to move objects with his mind, demonstrating Telekinesis: 05 and Mental Blast: 06. Matthew definitely obtained Precognition: 11 from Phoebe Halliwell, and may also have obtained Postcognition: 11.

Once Matthew has copied a power, he becomes immune to it. This “Power Immunity” works like Flame Immunity — its APs add to his RV vs. powers he has already copied. So once he copied Prue Halliwell’s Mental Blast, he was effectively immune to her Mental Blast attacks and couldn’t be shoved or thrown away from her.

Presumably Phoebe wouldn’t have been able to see his future anymore once he copied her power.

Note that this only protects from direct attacks. Prue could still use her telekinesis to snatch a gun from his hand (she was affecting the gun, not Matthew) and could still telekinetically throw objects at him.

By Chris Cottingham.

Source of Character: Charmed (TV series).

Helper(s): Ethan Roe (for his collaboration on the writeups for the Charmed Ones), Sébastien Andrivet (Catfall Bonus), the Charmed Wiki  (a handy quick reference for all things Charmed — but double-check what you find there!).

Writeup revised on the 1st of November, 2014.

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