The Granite Madams Want Snow White's Head

By William J. Keith


She's partly Snow White, but also Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and many other examples of the Damsel in Distress. She's every chaste and virtuous maiden who in unjustly imposed hard times soldiers onward, secure in the knowledge that Right will prevail, Evil will be defeated, and all she needs to do is wait... for her Handsome Prince to carry her of to a perfect life of never-ending happiness.

This is the kind of thing that really gets the Granite Madams' panties in a twist.

For those of you who don't know, the Granite Madams are a society of angels of Stone who happen to prefer the female outlook on life. They also focus on helping women to shed weak stereotypes and take charge of their own lives. So when an Ethereal of this nature flounces down to Earth, be assured that they're not going to put up with it. And because she's landed in this particular beat, the PCs are being drafted.

This particular Ethereal is properly the Optimistic flavor of the ubiquitous Damsel in Distress. It's arguable whether she's really sentient, but she has some qualities that can make her very sympathetic. She really is usually to be found in bothersome and difficult situations; she is pious, generally in a European Catholic sort of way; she's sweet and gentle, and sincerely quotes innumerable platitudes about forbearance and patience. She generally prefers a traditional feminine name like Belle or Grace.

Now for the downside. Grace got herself into whatever situation she's in -- her m.o. is to appear on Earth with nothing but the clothes on her back, wandering around and looking vaguely lost. She comes up to strangers and asks if they know where her relatives are: she can give reams of information, all of which is detailed but never enough to find anyone. Eventually, she needs a place to stay, and looks for the cheap side of town. She offers labor for her keep (eats and sleeps on a human routine, although she eats very little and doesn't sleep much either). Now then -- beautiful, female, none too bright homeless outsider heads to the bad part of town and offers labor for room and board. You do the math.

Once she's there, she waits. She picks up whatever skills are required of her: she knows quite a lot of domestic and janitorial skills, plus a number of less legal skills. All, though, are mundane. The only Song she's known to use with any reliability is the Ethereal Song of Attraction, usually on handsome men. they desire to protect her, generally from her current boss, which leads to a suitably shocking and climactic fight scene, whereupon he whisks her away from all this. Unfortunately, what he whisks her off to is usually not unending Paradise, and so as her nature reasserts itself and manipulates the situation her relationship degrades until she's little better off than where she was before.

Throughout all of this, her lack of initiative is remarkable. She is willing to stay with any authority figure or boyfriend who will assert the slightest bit of dominance or show the least bit of emotion. She will work (or worse) for them, see the best in them (making it up, if necessary), and do nothing to relieve her situation until a possible rescuer comes along, even though she admits her "hardship" to anyone who shows a listening ear. The cycle will repeat itself, tempting humans into exploitation, violence, and codependence, until she is sent back to the Marches.

The Granite Madams want it fixed. They (a collection of woman veterans, cops, athletes, and other angels that take their feminism seriously) have swooped into town on the hunt -- Grace's last boyfriend abandoned her somewhere around here, and they're asking for the PCs' help in finding her. (Alternatively, the PCs may have reported her, and the Granite Madams are coming to help.) When contact is made, the first order of business is to separate Grace from the human or humans she's fallen in with, who will already have a vested interest in keeping her around, and may even be honestly won over by her charm, simplicity, and virtue.

Once the humans are out of the way, the question is how to deal with Grace -- off her? A pious, sweet Ethereal (who wouldn't strike anyway, much less first, and don't think the Madams don't notice that)? Escorting her back to the Marches, and somehow assuring she remains there? Or trying to get her to break free of her cycle of codependence? This latter route will require somehow integrating "Damsel who can darned well save herself" characteristics into her basic personality... if you can do it. Should you choose this route, the Granite Madams, being after all angels of Stone, whose purpose is to strengthen others, may very well give you their help -- in their own inimitable way, of course.


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