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Melinda Warren (first Charmed witch) (Tyler Layton)

Melinda Warren

(Charmed)


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

Context

This is a profile of Melinda Warren from Charmed, one of the more successful 1990s TV serials about the supernatural. It ran for a robust eight seasons and acquired a large and dedicated following. In 2018 the CW rebooted the show, but this profile is based on the original series.

Charmed chronicled the struggles, both mundane and magical, of three sisters who discover that they are witches with magical powers and a shared destiny. Known as the Charmed Ones, the Halliwell sisters are further armed with the mighty Book of Shadows, their ancestral grimoire. Though it occasionally veered into camp or even “jiggle TV”, at its heart the show was about family and the bond between the sisters.

Writeups.org’s Charmed profiles are dedicated to the memory of Phyllis “Figgy” Ann Flannery Kyle, killed by a drunk driver on Jan 18th, 2008. Charmed was her favorite show.


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She wrote the book

Melinda Warren was the first witch in the Warren/Halliwell family. She began the Book of Shadows. She also made the prophecy that three sisters descended from her would become the most powerful good witches ever seen – the Charmed Ones. She foresaw their destiny. They inherited her legacy.

Melinda was portrayed by Tyler Layton  and appeared in episode nine of Charmed season 1 (1998-1999), “The Witch is Back”. This profile is part of an arc of writeups based on the original TV show and it contains S P O I L E R S for the first season. There are also small spoilers for season 3 (Melinda’s mother appears in episode 4, “All Hallows Eve”).

The connection with the Marks family of witches is not mentioned until season 8 (episode 15, “The Last Temptation of Christy”) but it isn’t a true spoiler.

This profile does not use non-canonical information from Charmed novels or comics.

Meeting Melinda was a pivotal event for the Charmed Ones, as it showed them how their magic could cement and strengthen their family bonds.


Background

  • Real Name: Melinda Warren.
  • Marital Status: Married (likely widowed).
    Known Relatives (Partial List – no non-canonical sources outside the television show are used, nor are any relatives from beyond season 2 to prevent Spoilers):

    • – Charlotte Warren (mother, deceased).
    • – William (last name disputed; husband, deceased).
    • – Prudence Warren (daughter, deceased).
    • – Priscilla Baxter née Johnson (great-great-great-great granddaughter).
    • – Penelope “Penny” Halliwell (great-great-great-great-great granddaughter).
    • – Patricia “Patty” Halliwell (great-great-great-great-great-great granddaughter).
    • – Prudence “Prue” Halliwell (great-great-great-great-great-great-great granddaughter).
    • – Piper Halliwell (great-great-great-great-great-great-great granddaughter).
    • – Phoebe Halliwell (great-great-great-great-great-great-great granddaughter).
    • – Assorted other Warren/Russell/Baxter/Bowen/Halliwell etc. descendants including Briana, P. Russell, and P. Bowen.
      See the Charmed Wiki for a complete listing.
  • Group Affiliation: The Warren Line of witches, probably an unnamed local coven in Virginia and then in Salem, Massachusetts.
  • Base of Operations: born in Virginia; moved to Salem, Massachusetts where she died.
  • Height: 5’5″ Weight: ? Age: 21 at the time of death.
  • Eyes: Blue? Hair: Light Brown/Blonde.


Powers & Abilities

Melinda is inherently magical, progenitor of a line of magical witches. This is somewhat like the DCU’s Homo Magi or the Marvel Universe’s New Salemites. Melinda’s magic was noticeable even before her birth.

As a magical witch, she can cast ritual spells and brew magical potions. She would be able to perceive most ghosts, and perhaps other magical creatures that are typically invisible to humans. She also developed three magical superpowers usable at will –

  1. To move objects with her mind.
  2. To freeze time in a small localized area.
  3. To see the future.

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I put a spell on you

During Melinda’s single appearance, she avoids using her powers. This is to prevent the warlock, Matthew Tate, from copying them.

As such we have little data with which to model her powers. I’ve assumed that they are functionally equivalent to the abilities of the Halliwell sisters in season 1, although Melinda didn’t seem to have difficulty “Calling” a premonition on demand.

Witch powers in the Charmed universe evolve over time – gaining strength but also evolving into new abilities. Prue Halliwell, the telekinetic, developed astral projection. Piper, who could freeze time (molecular immobilization), also gained the power to create explosions (molecular combustion). Phoebe started with premonitions and developed levitation and then empathy.

Similarly, Melinda probably started with one power. Telekinesis or freezing time, at a guess, as those are the powers that appear most often in the Warren/Halliwell line. Over time Melinda would have gained a second and then a third ability.

My guess is that each of her powers started somewhat weaker than the power shown by the Halliwells in season one – they are after all the Charmed Ones, the most powerful witches (potentially) ever seen. But Melinda’s powers would have grown over the course of her life.

So I assume that Melinda’s powers at the time of her death, as an experienced witch who’d been using her powers all her life, were roughly equal to the Halliwell sisters as new witches in season one. In time, each of the Halliwells would surpass those power levels.

Other assets

Melinda has a high degree of occult knowledge and the skills to create original potions and spells of her own.

She records most of her knowledge in her Book of Shadows. The book was passed on to her descendants, with each generation adding more lore and spells.

The spell to banish Matthew Tate was NOT in the Book. She was executed before it could be added.

The Price of Magic (part 1)

In the Charmed Universe, as in the DC Universe, magic has its price. In this case, good witches like Melinda have four Subplots constantly hanging over their heads.

First, warlocks and demons are constantly out to kill witches and steal their powers. Melinda is subject to attack at any time, any place, without warning.

She is also sworn to defend the innocent, typically defending them from the warlocks and demons already mentioned, giving such creatures two reasons to want Melinda dead.

The Price of Magic (part 2)

The DC Universe often portrays magic users as bound by a Magician’s Code. Similarly, in the Charmed universe good witches are sworn not to use their powers for personal gain. Breaking this rule will always lead to unforeseen consequences which the GM should inflict as appropriate. Generally, the spell or power used will backfire in some way.

Examples seen on the show include a spell to attract true love causing dozens of men to fall for the witch and fight over her. A spell to cure disease shifted the illness to someone else. Depending on the degree of personal gain (and the mood of the GM), the consequences may be dire.

They will often also be embarrassing, inconvenient, and sometimes silly (almost as if the characters are on a sitcom…).

Finally, witches work to conceal their identities and the existence of magic. This is especially important in Melinda’s time, when belief in (and fear and hatred of) witchcraft is widespread.


Video

Original curse

Second curse

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4JOEC5KQE8


History

Melinda Warren is an ancestor of the Halliwell sisters, Prue, Piper, and Phoebe. In occult circles these three are known as the Charmed Ones.

Melinda is the first witch in the family. She developed magical powers which she passed on to her descendants. She began the family’s ancestral grimoire, the Book of Shadows, recording her magical knowledge and passing it on to future generations.

She foresaw the eventual birth of the Charmed Ones and prophesied their destiny: to become the most powerful witches ever seen, defenders of the innocent who would vanquish all kinds of evil.

Melinda Warren died young but she passed on to her daughter and her descendants this legacy: the powers, the Book, the prophecy, the destiny. Melinda began it all.

To the Magic Born

Melinda Warren was born in colonial Virginia, shortly before midnight on October 31 in the year 1670. Her mother was Charlotte; her father unrevealed. Charlotte was a normal mortal woman and an associate of a local coven of witches.

These women possessed no innate powers but had much wisdom about herblore and nature magic. Due to local prejudices they kept their coven hidden, but they sought to do good and worked to protect Charlotte and her unborn child. It was prophesied that Charlotte’s child would be powerfully magical and be an important figure in the battle between good and evil.

However, there was also an evil witch in the area. A practitioner with money and influence enough to ensure that local witch hunters worked under her direction. This woman, Ruth Cobb, also knew of the unborn Warren baby’s potential and coveted that power.

She kidnapped Charlotte shortly before she was due to give birth. Her talismans and her gang of misguided witch hunters kept the local coven at bay, unable to rescue Charlotte.

Thanks to the intervention of three powerful witches from the future, Charlotte was rescued only hours before giving birth. The trio rescued Charlotte and acted as midwives. They delivered Melinda safely within a protected magical circle, ensuring that she was born free of evil influences.

Over the next 21 years, Melinda became a powerful witch who developed her innate magic into three signature powers. She had the ability to move objects with her mind, freeze time, and see the future.

The Next Generation

Melinda married a man named William. They used a blessing cup in their wedding ceremony that would become a family heirloom. Melinda became pregnant and had a daughter named Prudence. One non-canonical source says Prudence was born in 1689.

Melinda Warren (first Charmed witch) (Tyler Layton) period dress

At around the same time, Melinda relocated from Virginia to Salem, Massachusetts. It’s unclear whether Prudence was born in Virginia and moved with her mother, or if she wasn’t born until after Melinda moved to Salem.

The fate of Melinda’s husband William is also unclear. It’s not known why Melinda and Prudence used the last name Warren instead of his name. It’s also not clear if he came to Salem, stayed behind in Virginia, died, or something else.

As the witch trials began in 1692, Melinda allied with powerful British witches, the Marks family. That was to help those accused of witchcraft find shelter and safety. She also began a passionate affair with a man she met in Salem, named Matthew Tate. Melinda believed him to be a witch who could copy powers, and she willingly allowed him to copy hers.

Bewitched, Bothered, and Burned

But Matthew was actually a warlock. An evil being who sought to kill good witches. He had been using her in order to gain her powers. Once he had her abilities, he reported Melinda to the Salem town council. Melinda was arrested and imprisoned for witchcraft.

Matthew knew that Melinda would not expose him in return. She couldn’t do so without confirming that she really was a witch, which would also bring suspicion on her daughter Prudence. Instead Melinda maintained her innocence and allowed her trial to proceed.

When she was sentenced to death, Melinda did not use her powers to escape. Instead she let herself be burned at the stake on March 1, 1692. In doing so, she ‘proved’ to the town that she was innocent. Prudence Warren could grow up free of the suspicion of witchcraft.

As she died, Melinda foresaw that each generation of Warren witches would grow stronger. Until finally three sisters were born who would be the most powerful good witches ever seen – the Charmed Ones.

(In the actual historical Salem witch trials, the condemned were executed by hanging. You could correctly consider Melinda’s execution by burning to be a mistake on the part of the show’s writers. Or you could make it a plot point. Perhaps Matthew was able to arrange it, out of vindictiveness or to make it more difficult for Melinda to survive)..

A Curse

Melinda did avenge herself on Matthew Tate and ensure he could not hurt anyone else. Before her execution, she devised a curse that stripped her copied powers from Matthew and imprisoned him in a pewter locket.

Melinda Warren (first Charmed witch) (Tyler Layton) locket magic glowing

The locket could only be opened by a Warren witch. So long as it stayed closed, the warlock would be trapped. A folder of family history kept in the Halliwell attic reads as follows: “And because the warlock had stolen her love, she cursed him into the pewter heart, where he could spend eternity knowing the sting of betrayal.”

The Witch is Back

More than 300 years later, Melinda’s ghost was summoned by the Charmed Ones. Matthew Tate had been freed from the pewter locket and he was threatening the three sisters.

Melinda was able to save them, cursing Matthew for a second time and putting him back into the locket. She then wore the locket so that it would vanish with her when the Charmed Ones reversed their spell and released her back to the realm of the dead. This likely trapped Matthew for all eternity, just as she intended.

Melinda is in many ways the “favourite ancestor” of the Halliwell sisters. She helped them learn to appreciate their gifts and was able to foresee the birth of many more generations of their family. In years to come, the first-born daughter of a Charmed One would be named Melinda Halliwell, in honor of Melinda Warren.

She herself is featured in the Book of Shadows as well as in several family history books and albums held in the Halliwell manor. Her portrait hangs by the manor staircase.


Soundtrack

The Charmed theme song, of course – How Soon Is Now as covered by Love Spit Love.

Available for download on Amazon .


Description

Melinda was an attractive young woman with brownish blonde hair of shoulder length. She had blue eyes and, in her own words, “great cheekbones”.

She was of average height for a 20th century woman (between 5’5″ and 5’7″), which would have made her taller than average in her own time.


Personality

To extrapolate from her own words, Melinda is a handful, a free spirt with a strong will and a short temper. She is adventurous and adaptable. She views her powers as a gift which are meant to protect and heal. When wronged, she can be vengeful.

Melinda’s love for her family and her desire to see them live strong and happy lives was probably her driving character trait. She did not hesitate to sacrifice herself for her daughter. When briefly called back to life by the Charmed Ones, she put herself in harm’s way for them without a thought for her own safety.

When offered the chance to stay in the 20th century, she declined. She felt her time had passed and did not want to interfere with the destiny of the Charmed Ones.


Using Melinda in the DC Universe or Marvel Universe

Melinda and the Charmed Ones could easily fit in a superhero setting. They are basically super-powered heroines with a magical “flavor” and secret identities.

In the Marvel Universe, Melinda would be remembered as a hero in the town of New Salem, home of Agatha Harkness, Nicholas Scratch, and the Salem’s Seven. Melinda is known to have helped many witches escape from the Salem witch trials before being caught and executed herself. Some of those she saved were among those who founded New Salem.

In the DC Universe, the people Melinda saved would have been Homo Magi, and perhaps may have included ancestors of the JLA’s Zatanna.

She would obviously figure in time travel adventures, and could have encountered any number of Marvel or the DCU’s immortal types. Encounters with Klarion the Witch Boy (not that one) and Jason Blood would be natural.


Quotes

“I’m taking back the powers you stole from me. Outside of time, outside of gain, know only sorrow, know only pain !” (The warlock Matthew Tate vanishes, screaming, into Melinda’s pewter locket.)

“Blessed be !”

“Phoebe, I can’t change the past, but I think I can protect the future.”

Phoebe: “I was not a troublemaker, I was just…”
Piper: “A pain.”
Phoebe: “A free spirit.”
Prue: “A handful.”
Melinda: “A Warren. It’s a family trait. So are the short tempers, the great cheekbones, the strong wills, and of course, the powers. All blessings, all signs of where you came from.”

Melinda: “You think I won’t stop you ?”
Matthew: “How ? You made your curse before, and you still burned.”
Melinda: “And yet I’m here now, aren’t I ?”
Matthew: “You’re nothing more than a dead witch watching over stupid girls who are about to die themselves.”
Melinda: “You won’t touch them.”

Phoebe: “Why can’t you stay here and have the life you should have had ?”
Melinda: “Because this isn’t my time. It’s your time, and Prue’s and Piper’s.”

“You three give me great joy. I’ve seen the Charmed Ones; good witches, women of strength and grace.”

“I see the future ! Many more generations of my beautiful daughters ! I see my dreams fulfilled ! Oh, thank you for that.”

“Blessed be, my daughters. I love you.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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Melinda Warren

Dex: 03 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Responsibility of Power
Int: 05 Wil: 04 Min: 05 Occupation: Witch
Inf: 05 Aur: 06 Spi: 06 Wealth: 003
Init: 013 HP: 030

Powers:
Mental Blast (ML): 05, Precognition (ML): 11, Sharpness (Time Stop): 03, Telekinesis (ML): 05, Time Stop (ML): 07, Speak with Spirits (ML): 01

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Mental Blast and Telekinesis are Indirect (+2) and invisible (+0).
  • Precognition receives a maximum of half RV in Knowledge Points (-2).
  • Precognition differs in some ways from the version in the Rule Book. See “Unfogging the Future” below for details (+0).
  • Precognition may be Minor Marginal in some circumstances (-1). Again, see “Unfogging the Future” for details.
  • Sharpness (Time Stop) is Derived from Time Stop (-1).
  • Sharpness (Time Stop) only applies against normal (non-magical) humans, not demons or warlocks (-1).
  • Time Stop is resisted by Mystical Attributes rather than Mental Attributes (+0).
  • Time Stop has a regular Area Effect of 1 AP rather than the normal diminishing Area Effect (+1), but when indoors is limited to people in the same room as Melinda.
  • Time Stop has a Range of 2 APs (-1).
  • Time Stop does not affect good witches (-1).
  • Time Stop requires at least one hand free to gesture (-1).
  • Opponents frozen in time can roll to break the freeze early, as per normal; however, they roll against her APs of Power (07/07) rather than the RAPs from her Time Stop attack (+2).

Skills:
Occultist: 06

Advantages:
Familiarity (Shakespeare), Expertise (Herbs and Witchcraft), Magic Background, Scholar (curse against Matthew Tate).

Connections:
The Marks family (High).

Genre:
Mock Real.

Drawbacks:
Price of Magic (see above), SIA toward protecting her daughter and descendants, Secret Identity.

Equipment:
The Book of Shadows. It was begun by Melinda, and is smaller and less potent than it will become as each generation adds to it. Stats are completely speculative but in Melinda’s time it probably has 06 APs of Occultist and perhaps an Expertise in Witchcraft and another in vanquishing demons.

Rituals:
Eternal Banishment (The Locket Spell)
Effect:
Dimension Travel (Banishment): 10
Casting Time: 08
Components: 02 (cost) for assorted herbs, a leather bag, and a locket.
Special Restrictions: A feather from a spotted owl, and the following incantation: “Outside of Time! Outside of Gain! Know only sorrow! Know only pain!”
Combine the herbs and make it into a fine powder. Put the powder into the leather bag and add the owl feather. Put the bag into fire and let it burn while chanting the spell and holding the locket open, pointing at the target.

The ‘dimension’ the target is Banished to is within the locket. If the locket is opened, the Banished subject returns. However, only Melinda or a blood descendant can open it.

Note that when casting the spell, Melinda is able to use both her Expertise (Herbs and Witchcraft) and her Scholar (curse against Matthew Tate). This gives her a +3 CS when casting the spell.


Design notes

This writeup based on a single episode from Season 1, “The Witch is Back.” With such a limited sample size, there is a great deal of speculation involved. Very little use of her powers was seen, so I have assumed they are roughly equal to the power levels of Prue, Piper, and Phoebe in season 1.

She may have one or two more APs of any of the powers listed here. She may also have some of the sub-powers developed by her descendants, such as Reflection/Deflection derived from Telekinesis.

See the write-ups for Prue Halliwell, Piper Halliwell, and Phoebe Halliwell for more details.

Melinda Warren (first Charmed witch) (Tyler Layton) reading


Unfogging the Future

Assuming Melinda’s power of Precognition works like her descendant Phoebe’s, there is a rationale at work in what she sees. Melinda’s visions are part of her calling and are in service of her destiny. They are intended to help her protect and heal the innocent. So her powers work differently than in the Rulebook.

Rather than determining OV/RV of a vision by using APs of time, as in the standard form of Precognition, I suggest the GM set a Difficulty Number on the Universal Modifier Table.

  1. OV/RV should be based on the importance of the vision to Melinda’s calling as a witch and her destiny as the ancestor of the Charmed Ones.
  2. The more closely connected the vision is to protecting an innocent or helping someone avoid hurt, the more likely she is to see it.
  3. She is more likely to have visions that pertain to magical threats than mundane ones.

Her most powerful visions (like the one of the Charmed Ones, 300 years in the future) involve her own family and its magical destiny.

Some examples:

  • Foreseeing a winning number for a lottery ticket or an opponent’s hand in a card game has nothing to do with her calling. It is also forbidden as a form of personal gain, so that vision is Herculean (OV/RV of 12/12).
  • Seeing a mundane accident, like a fall from a horse, involves protection but from a non-magical threat. This would be Strenuous (OV/RV of 06/06).
  • Brushing against a warlock and seeing him attack his next victim would only be Difficult (04/04).
  • However, if the warlock is aware of her and her power and wants to avoid her notice, as Matthew Tate did, then treat it like a Perception Check. Use her APs of Precognition as AV/EV against the villain’s INFL/AURA as OV/RV.
  • In the specific case of Matthew, Melinda was in love. She suffered the penalty of being Awestruck/Enamored – making the difficulty 2 Column Shifts worse.

If a GM needs a quick and easy way to begin an encounter, having Melinda suddenly get a vision will do it. Much of what Melinda sees will simply be crafted by the GM in advance to start off a Story or Subplot.

In those cases it won’t be necessary to worry about dice rolls or other game mechanics. The GM can just relate the vision s/he has prepared to Melinda’s player (perhaps in private or in writing, so only Melinda’s Player can see it and has a chance to Roleplay it for other Players).

Calling a premonition

On some occasions Melinda’s Player may decide to try and ‘call’ a premonition. This means a vision that doesn’t fall into the categories mentioned above (designed by a GM, involving danger or healing, involving magic, relating to a threat to the family destiny, etc.).

In these cases, it may be helpful to revert to the standard form of Precognition, and use the APs of time to set OV/RV.

For her descendant Phoebe, this kind of vision doesn’t happen often. It is thus modeled as Minor Marginal, costing HPs to use. This is likely true for Melinda as well.

In all cases – whether a vision is ’scheduled‘ by the GM, triggered on the UM Table, or called by the Player – the vision can’t be allowed to foretell everything or there’s no tension in the game. So her visions will always give partial information, represented in Game terms by the half RV Limitation.

This means there will always be something left out of the vision, requiring Melinda (or her Player) to figure some things out.

By Chris Cottingham.

Source of Character: (the Charmed television show, season 1, episode “The Witch is Back”).

Helper(s): Darci, Ethan Roe, Sébastien Andrivet — all of them witches !

Writeup completed on the 16th of February, 2019.

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