This character is an original creation. We often call these “homemades” or “homebrewed” – think home cooking or craft beer.
Many of these characters were created to take part in tabletop role-playing game sessions. Others were invented as a creative writing exercise, often as part of a community event.
This specific character was created for the 2014 DC Heroes list Halloween contest. She won the gold medal.
- Real Name: Anna Maria Zuccardi.
- Other Aliases: Nonna Zucca, Pumpkin Annie.
- Former Aliases: Bewitcher, Marie Cardy (stage name), Sin on Two Legs (nickname), Mamma Annie, Mamma Pumpkin.
- Known Relatives: Giuseppe Zuccardi (father; deceased), Theresa Zuccardi (mother; deceased), Antonio Zuccardi (brother; deceased), Lucia Spagnolli (maternal grandmother; deceased).
- Group Affiliation: None; formerly The Fiendish Five.
- Base Of Operations: Shady Hollow, New York ; formerly New York City.
- Height: 5’3” (1.60m). Weight: 100 lbs. (45 Kg.).
- Eyes: Brown. Hair: White (formerly Dark Brown, dyed Platinum Blonde as Bewitcher).
Powers & Abilities
Grandma Pumpkin has several mystical powers that relate to her study of Nature magic. Chief among these is the power to control plant life in all its forms (in DC Heroes terms, Plant Control). She can cause vines to trip or ensnare evil doers – or make trees pummel them into submission with their branches.
Vampires in particular have learned to give Shady Hollow a wide birth as Grandma Pumpkin has become adept at using her power over trees to stake the blood suckers from a distance.
Grandma Pumpkin is also preternaturally tough (Skin Armor) able to withstand even high caliber rifle fire. By drawing on the power of nature she can augment this toughness still further and even boost her otherwise meager strength (Power Reserve useable on Str and Skin Armor).
Fully augmenting her toughness alone makes her virtually impervious to physical injury. While fully channeling this same energy into her strength alone gives her the power to lift a pick-up truck — although she isn’t prone to such flashy displays. When using this ability, she tends to augment strength and toughness evenly.
In her role as Protector of Shady Hollow, Grandma Pumpkin employs a number of extra-sensory abilities. She can:
- Detect magic and magical energies (Magic Sense).
- Sense large scale events of a mystical nature (Awareness).
- View locations far from her current position (Remote Sensing).
- Sense imminent danger (Danger Sense).
In fact, she has learned to redirect this last power so that she can use it on another individual, allowing her to be warned when said individual is threatened.
Although stripped of most of her infernal powers years ago, Grandma Pumpkin still possesses one ability from her days as Bewitcher; the ability to mentally dominate a target (Control). She suspects that Mr. Infamous — or the demon that used his shell — left her that power in the hopes of tempting her back to the path of darkness. It hasn’t worked yet.
Grandma Pumpkin is a truly gifted practitioner of magic whose abilities have waned slightly in her old age (Occultist and Genius).
Furthermore, she is an expert at social interaction, getting her way… one way or another (Charisma).
The woman who would one day be known as Grandma Pumpkin was born Anna Maria Zuccardi in a small town in Sicily just outside of Palermo. She, her mother Theresa, and older brother Antonio immigrated to the United States when she was just an infant. The plan was to join Anna Maria’s father Giuseppe who had moved to the US several months earlier.
The Transatlantic voyage was difficult. Anna Maria’s older brother died of a flu-like ailment before they reached the States. Her mother succumbed to the same illness not long after reaching their new home in Shady Hollow, a rural community in upstate New York.
Facing the prospect of caring for the infant Anna Maria while dealing with the loss of his wife and son made Giuseppe despondent. He prayed for help. As if on cue, Theresa’s mother, Lucia Spagnolli, showed up at Giuseppe door. She took over the household and raised Anna Maria allowing Giuseppe to work and provide for the family.
As a young girl, Anna Maria loved cooking in the kitchen with her Grandmother or Nonna Lucia. As she grew older she realized that much of what she and her grandmother were doing wasn’t cooking at all but rather casting.
She became a student of the occult and soon learned to cast on her own, improvising ingenious solutions when presented with rituals that required hard to satisfy conditions, or difficult to acquire components.
Nonna Lucia recognized that Anna Maria had a deeper understanding of ritual magic than anyone she had ever known. She encouraged her granddaughter to dedicate herself to Gaia and follow the path of a nature witch.
A sour taste
Though Anna Maria grew into a beautiful young lady, her teen years brought a change in the girl’s personality. She became sullen and moody.
Realizing that Anna Maria’s negative emotional state could make casting rituals dangerous, her grandmother refused to teach the girl any more magic. This angered Anna Maria which worsened her mood and strengthened Nonna Lucia’s resolve.
The girl began to hate Shady Hollow, feeling that the tiny community held nothing for her. Her dreams, she decided, were in the big city. At the age of 17, Anna Maria ran away from home and went to New York City to seek fame and fortune.
Almost immediately upon arriving in Manhattan, Anna Maria was approached by a man claiming to be a talent agent. In fact, the man was Sidney Strauss, a minor conjurer who sensed the girl’s vast potential. Sidney took Anna Maria under his wing, dyed her dark brown hair platinum blond, and rechristened her Marie Cardy.
Over the next several weeks Strauss arranged for a series of minor stage roles and chorus girl parts that played to Anna Maria’s strengths, her beauty and charisma.
As the weeks turned to months, Strauss began to exhibit an almost Svengali-like influence over the young woman. By the time he renamed himself Mr. Infamous, Anna Maria was completely under his power. Infamous convinced Anna Marie and three of his other thralls to barter with infernal forces in exchange for power.
Infamous dubbed his Hell-empowered group The Fiendish Five. And Anna Maria, granted a host of mind and emotion controlling abilities, became Bewitcher.
The Fiendish Five
As Bewitcher, Anna Maria was the very definition of a femme fatale, with a smoldering look or a sexy sneer for any occasion. She and the Fiendish Five took to a life of crime with gusto, beginning a citywide crime spree that soon brought them to the attention of the newly formed super team, The Liberty Brigade.
The Five and the Brigade fought many times during the 1940’s. Bewitcher rarely missed the opportunity to flirt with Brigade mainstay, the Crimson Owl.
Over the years, Mr. Infamous’ criminal schemes became more esoteric. While the rest of the Five were happy robbing Fort Knox or ransoming a kidnapped Mayor Fiorello Laguardia , Infamous began directing the group to steal seemingly random museum artifacts of little value.
Unknown to Bewitcher and her teammates, Mr. Infamous had become possessed by the demon Gebbilon the Thrice Cursed, his Sidney Strauss personality all but wiped from existence in the process. The demon was using Mr. Infamous to assemble these pieces of ancient bric-à-brac as components for a ritual that would shift the island of Manhattan to the Hell dimension.
The Liberty Brigade learned of Mr. Infamous’ plan and interrupted the ritual. Bewitcher and her teammates leapt to their leader’s defense, but soon changed allegiances when they discovered what Infamous was attempting.
In return, Infamous struck back at his traitorous underlings. He caused their powers to run amok and kill them one by one. Bewitcher was the last of the group to feel Infamous’ wrath. As his power reached out to claim her life, Anna Maria cried out to her Nonna Lucia for forgiveness.
All was still.
Before the frightened woman appeared Nonna Lucia — or perhaps it was Gaia wearing a familiar face. The old woman comforted Anna Maria and cleansed her of any infernal control. Then she disappeared and the battle resumed.
As Mr. Infamous closed in on her, Anna Maria instinctively struck back with powers over nature she had never before displayed. Working with The Liberty Brigade, Anna Maria ended the threat that the ritual posed and vanquished Mr. Infamous. The fiend seemingly perished as the mystical energy summoned by the aborted spell imploded.
When the danger was passed, Anna Maria surrendered to the Crimson Owl ready to pay her debt to society.
Home Again, Nonna Zucca
Anna Maria spent the next 15 years in a minimum security prison. When she was released she made her way back to Shady Hollow. She took up residence in the ramshackle old farmhouse left to her by her now deceased father. By that time her Nonna Lucia was gone, as well.
But Anna Maria found all of the old witch’s cookbooks and resumed her study of nature magic where she had left off.
She also reached out to the community, reestablishing old friendships and forging new ones. Before long everyone in town was calling her Mamma Annie.
In the early 1970’s, Mamma Annie became Mamma Pumpkin after a group of schoolchildren, out way after their bedtimes, spied Anna Maria drawing power from nature to battle a lycantropeA werewolf. In RPGs, it broadened to encompass other creatures with a bestial form..
Shortly after her 65th birthday, Mamma Pumpkin transitioned to Grandma Pumpkin.
And Grandma Pumpkin is the name Anna Maria uses now. Oh, some of the women in town who are closer to her in age call her Pumpkin Annie and that’s fine, too. But Grandma Pumpkin is the name that the children of Shady Hollow all know and love so that is the one Anna Maria chooses for herself.
Although, if you want to be one of her special favorites, call her Nonna Zucca.
Grandma Pumpkin is a stoop-shouldered old lady with a slight humpback, boney fingers, and a twinkle in her eye.
She wears a bone-white knit shawl over a simple black long-sleeved dress with a white lace collar. On her feet she wears battered old sneakers that were once white. Or big black galoshes if it’s the muddy season.
She has long pure white hair that sticks out from under a rotating assortment of hats. Her hat is the only part of her wardrobe that changes on a regular basis. Sometimes she wears a simple knit cap. Other times a battered baseball cap or a bright yellow rain hat.
She is always clutching her canvas tote bag full of common spell components. Herbs, spices, candles, and the like.
When Grandma Pumpkin augments her toughness with power she draws from nature, her skin becomes orange and rough like that of Ben Grimm shortly after he first transformed into The Thing. It is this effect that resulted in her being dubbed Grandma Pumpkin.
Grandma Pumpkin is a warm, funny grandmotherly sort who thinks of the citizens of Shady Hollow as her family.
She loves teaching the children of the town simple spells and regaling them with fantastic stories of the exploits of her own grandmother, Nonna Lucia. Some of the stories are even true.
Grandma Pumpkin is always pleasant, even when dealing with evil forces. She tries not to overuse her powers in her day-to-day life preferring instead to employ her Occultist skill when necessary. However, when faced with the supernatural she will not hesitate to bring to bear her full mystical might.
While she’s always happier when she can deal with a threat to the citizens of Shady Hollow without displaying her more outlandish powers in front of them, she understands that this is not always possible. However, Grandma Pumpkin will always try to shield any children from witnessing the more extreme measures she must sometimes take to protect them.
Grandma Pumpkin has long ago come to terms with her checkered past. She feels no guilt about using the ill-gotten gains she squirreled away in her youth to fund her current crusade. In fact, if you get her in the right mood, she’ll tell you a story or two about her days in the Fiendish Five.
Grandma Pumpkin (addressing a young child who is surrounded by a group of vampires): “Don’t be afraid, little one. It’s me… it’s your Nonna Zucca… your Grandma Pumpkin. And there’s no way that your Grandma Pumpkin will let these silly men harm you.”
Vampire 1: “The boy is our prey, old woman. Leave us or share his fate.”
Vampire 2: “’Share his fate ?‘ I’m not drinking that old buzzard !”
[Laughter from the vampires.]
Grandma Pumpkin (smiling sweetly as she continues addressing the child): “Close your eyes now, little one. Keep them closed tight and don’t open them until I tell you to. That’s a good boy.”
[Sounds of creaking wood followed by screams. Then silence.]
Grandma Pumpkin (placing her hand on the child’s shoulder): “Okay. Open your eyes. The men are gone.”
Child (looking around): “Where did they go, Grandma Pumpkin ?”
Grandma Pumpkin: “I asked the men to leave Shady Hollow and they left.”
Child (incredulously): “They just left ?”
Grandma Pumpkin: “Nonna Zucca can be very persuasive when she wants to be. Now, let’s get you home.”
A Large Group Of Children At Grandma Pumpkin’s Door: “TRICK OR TREAT !!!!!”
Grandma Pumpkin: “Oh, me ! Oh, my ! What scary, scary ghoulies I have at my door !”
Young Girl Dressed As Cinderella (indignantly): “I’m not scary, Gramma Pun’kin. I’m a princess.”
Grandma Pumpkin (lightly ’beeping‘ the girl’s nose with her gnarled index finger): “And you’re so pretty it’s scary.”
Cathy: “Grandma Pumpkin, the book says we need demon’s blood for this recipe.”
Grandma Pumpkin: “Okay, demon’s blood… demon’s blood… let’s see… Hannah, get me the pickle brine. The jar is on the top shelf in that cupboard there. Joey, take this plastic bag out to the barn and fetch me some nice, fresh dung. The stinkier the better. We’ll need about the weight of an apple.”
Hannah: “Demon’s blood is made of pickle water and doody ? Yuck !”
Grandma Pumpkin: “Gather ’round, my little witches, and listen close ’cause Nonna Zucca is about to teach you the most important lesson about casting magic that you’ll ever learn. It’s a lesson my grandmother, Nonna Lucia, taught me when I was a just little girl, younger even than you, Nicky. And all through my many, many years I’ve found it to be true. ’anna Maria,‘ my Nonna Lucia said, ’if it smells bad enough no one ever takes a taste !‘”
[Laughter from Grandma Pumpkin and a chorus of “Yuck !” and “Gross !” from the children.]
“Shady Hollow is my home. The people who live here are under my protection. I’m their Nonna Zucca.” (Pumps Power Reserve into Str and Skin Armor). ”And Nonna Zucca wants you to leave.”
“Oh, look at you — all brimstone and bad attitude. Nonna Zucca is not impressed. She went through the same phase herself years ago.”
“You should have seen me back in the day, young man. I was quite a beauty. A first class, top shelf, grade A stunner, you might say. They called me Bewitcher and, believe you me, I lived up to the name. I had the face of a movie starlet and the figure of a pin-up queen. I could turn a blind man’s head. The Crimson Owl – you remember him, don’t you – he called me Sin on two legs. Oh, the Crimson Owl. There was a man. If only… if only…” (mumbles followed by snores)
Grandma Pumpkin: “You and I have something to discuss.”
Demon: “Ah, it’s Auntie Squash, or some such. You’ve come to retrieve the boy’s soul, no doubt. Well, I am sorry but he has signed my contract and he has received his payment. And that means… He. Is. Wait for it, now … Mine.”
Grandma Pumpkin: “You know, back when Tommy was just in Junior High School his older sister drove me over to East Haven one Saturday to get my hair done and my nails painted and to just be pampered a little. And while we were gone, Tommy and his two brothers came to my house and fixed the roof of my barn and painted it a nice, bright red. I didn’t ask them to do it. Their parents didn’t tell them to do it. No, they did it out of pure love, as a surprise for their silly old Grandma Pumpkin. So, no, demon, Tommy isn’t yours. He’s mine. And you can’t have him.”
Demon: “You and I both know that the only way Thomas Hanlon avoids eternal damnation is if I freely renounce my claim on his soul. And that I will never do.”
[Grandma Pumpkin lets out a heavy sigh. Then she reaches into her tote bag and produces a handful of Scrabble tiles. She closes her eyes and mumbles some gibberish then tosses the tiles into the air. The titles hang in the air for a split second then transform into moths and flutter away. The demon is amused.]
Demon (chuckling): “And what was that piece of gutter magic supposed to accomplish ?”
Grandma Pumpkin: “Read Tommy’s contract now.”
[The demon produces the contract with a flourish. He reads a few lines and begins howling in rage.]
Demon: “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE, CRONE !?!?!?”
Grandma Pumpkin: “Your eyes and your head, they don’t communicate with one another so good, anymore. I think they call it… Dyslexia ? Now, if you ever want to write another contract… you and I have something to discuss.”
DC Universe Adaptation
(This section proposes ways of using this character in DC Universe stories).
Grandma Pumpkin and the town of Shady Hollow could easily fit into the DC Universe.
If the DC timeline being used allows for a Golden Age of heroes during World War II, Anna Maria may look back fondly on her encounters with the Justice Society. Maybe it was Dr. Mid-Nite or even a Golden Age Batman that dubbed Bewitcher “sin on two legs”.
Of the practitioners of magic in the DC Universe, Grandma Pumpkin would most likely find John Constantine a kindred spirit while, at the same time, forbidding him from ever setting foot in Shady Hollow. Their shared heritage would make Zatanna one of her favorites. And she might have some fun stories to tell Zee about her father.
Grandma Pumpkin would dislike Dr. Fate or, rather Nabu, as he is a possessing entity little different in her mind from the demons she’s faced in the past.
Madame Xanadu would be too pretentious for Nonna Zucca’s tastes and she’d be uneasy around the Spectre, viewing him as a world destroying event just waiting to happen. Grandma Pumpkin would feel a deep sadness for The Phantom Stranger sensing that he is still paying for a sin for which he’s has already atoned many times over.
Interaction with The Stranger would always make her thankful that the she has been forgiven her own sins and, no doubt, she would wish that same peace for him.
Of the plant based characters in the DC Universe, Grandma Pumpkin would find Jason Woodrue, The Floronic Man a detestable scoundrel while Pamela Isley aka Poison Ivy would elicit in her only pity. Of course, Nonna Zucca would have a special relationship with the avatar of the Green, Swamp-Thing.
I’d like to think that she’d be invited to appear before the Parliament of Trees at least once.
DC Heroes RPG
A Randomly Generated Character.
|Dex: 03||Str: 01||Bod: 03|
|Int: 05||Wil: 03||Min: 08|
|Inf: 05||Aur: 04||Spi: 05|
|Init: 011||HP: 012|
Awareness: 04, Control: 05, Danger Sense: 09, Magic Sense: 05, Plant Control: 07, Power Reserve (STR, Skin Armor): 07, Remote Sensing: 06, Skin Armor: 06
Bonuses and Limitations:
- All Powers are Mystic Linked.
- Danger Sense has the following Bonus: Grandma Pumpkin may choose a single living target to be the object of her Danger Sense Power. If the chosen target is in danger, the GM should resolve the Danger Sense roll in secret with the APs determined by the threat that is posed to the target.
RAPs indicate that Grandma Pumpkin knows of the danger to the target. This effect expires after APs of time equal to APs of Danger Sense used in this effect. Range of the effect equals APs of Power used in this effect. If the distance between Grandma Pumpkin and the target exceeds this Range, the effect fails.
It will not automatically resume if the target moves back into Range of the effect but Grandma Pumpkin may expend an Automatic Action to reestablish the effect.
- Power Reserve: Use of Power Reserve to augment her Str and/or Skin Armor Power by even 1 AP gives her the Strange Appearance Drawback. The Drawback is lost when Power Reserve is deactivated.
Charisma: 07, Occultist: 05
Familiarity (Italian Language, Botany), Genius, Iron Nerves, Magical Background.
Age (Old), Authority Figure (Protector of Shady Hollow).
Upholding The Good.
Retired Super Villainess, Town Protector.
Type of character: Magic Wielder
Magic Origins: Personal, Universal, and Dimensional Energies
Number of Powers: 5
Magical School: Nature Magic
The Genius Advantage and occultist
“Hannah, fetch me the Oregano”
Genius represents Grandma Pumpkin’s occult ability to create impossible spells far beyond those of anyone else’s ability with but simple necessary components that wouldn’t usually be acceptable for such elaborate Rituals.
Further, it enables her to regularly exchange rare and expensive necessary components of found Ritual descriptions with cr-p and still successfully manage to cast the Ritual as if she had used the right ingredients. Her spells have taken even major supernatural forces by surprise as no one in existence was supposed to be able to do what Grandma Pumpkin just pulled off!
Well, some disastrous rolls for Physical Attributes were followed by many good and a few really great rolls for Powers and the like. Rolling GM’s Decision for one of my Powers was truly key, allowing me to take Power Reserve. I added 1 AP to my Power Reserve AP roll by taking the ’orange and lumpy‘ Limitation which I don’t think is too abusive of the system.
Rolling Nature or Order as a magic school and then rolling Plant Control was probably the luckiest part of the whole process. Nope, not going to choose Order now! Another key moment was finding a way that Plant Control and Skin Armor could fit together thematically. And Dr. Peter’s description of Genius as it pertains to Occultist is fantastic.
Nonna Zucca’s high Wealth score means most mundane spell components are within her means which is a killer combo with Magical Genius. I just love the idea of an old woman causing dyslexia in an Archduke of Hell with nothing more than a handful of Scrabble tiles.
My wish list for this character:
Skills – Medicine: 04 coupled with a Scholar (Folk Remedies).
Expansive Headquarters – Nonna Zucca’s Farmhouse.
Schtick – My Playground, My Rules encompassing all of Shady Hollow and the environs.
Connection – The Green [Low].
Source of Character: Homemade – Halloween Character Contest 2014 using the System for Magic DC Character Creation.
Helper(s): Dr. Peter S. Piispanen for giving us the System for Magic DC and for posting the neat Genius Advantage write-up that I happily swiped. Bil for supplying additional DC Universe ideas. Darci for help with all my spelling and grammar errors. I lost your email but hopefully I remembered all that you had spotted. Everyone for their encouragement.
Writeup completed on the 31st of October, 2014.