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La Belle dame sans merci

Walter Crane (British, 1845-1915) La Belle Dame  Sans Merci, La Belle dame sans merci
Walter Crane (British, 1845-1915) La Belle Dame Sans Merci

Where the beautiful maiden once stood, now a sapphire-bluespider the size of a horse waves its forelegs in a mockery of the maiden’s gesture.

Relics & Rituals: Excalibur

© 2004 White Wolf Publishing, Inc. Distributed for Sword and Sorcery Studios by White Wolf Publishing, Inc.

By Evan Jamieson, Lizard, Aaron Rosenberg, Christina Stiles and Relics & Rituals: Excalibur team

The La Belle dame sans merci is an intelligent, shapechanging spider with enchantment powers, and is believed to be a distant relative (or forebear) of the aranea. In its natural form the belle dame resembles a large sapphire blue spider with a 4-foot-long body, an 8-foot leg span, and it weighs about 160 pounds.

However, La Belle dame sans merci’s are rarely encountered in their natural form. Instead, they alter their form to appear as beautiful maidens. In this form, they use trickery and enchantment to secure a suitable mate and host for their offspring. First, they seduce their prey to mate with him in human form; then, they enchantment spells). They prefer illusions, charms, and protective spells but avoid fire spells, as they usually make their homes in forests.

An unnamed knight who has encountered a mysterious woman who is said to be “a faery’s child.” It opens with a description of the knight in a barren landscape, “haggard” and “palely loitering.” He tells the reader how he met a mysterious but very fair lady whose “eyes were wild.” The damsel told the knight that she “loved him true” and took him to her “elfin grot,” but upon arriving there, she “wept, and sigh’d full sore.”

Having realized something that the knight does not yet understand, the mysterious maiden sets the knight to sleep. The knight has a vision of “pale kings and princes,” who cry, “La Belle Dame sans Merci [the beautiful, pitless damsel] hath thee in thrall!” He awakes to find himself on the same “cold hill’s side” on which he continues to wait while “palely loitering.”

Belle dame
Medium magical beast (Shapechanger)
Hit Dice5d10+10 (37 hp)
Speed50 ft. (10 squares); Climb 25 ft.
Armor Class16 (+4 Dexterity, +2 natural), touch 14, flat-footed 11
Base Attack/Grapple+5/+6
AttackBite +7 melee (1d6+1 plus poison) or web +9 ranged
Full AttackBite +7 melee (1d6+1 plus poison) or web +9 ranged
Space/Reach5 ft./5 ft.
Special AttacksSpells, web, Paralysis, poison
Special QualitiesChange shape, Darkvision 60 ft., Low-Light Vision
SavesFort +6, Ref +8, Will +5
AbilitiesStrength 12, Dexterity 18, Constitution 14, Intelligence 14, Wisdom 12, Charisma 19
SkillsClimb +15, Concentration +7, Craft (weaving) +7,Escape Artist +9, Jump +8, Listen +6, Spot +6
FeatsImproved Initiative, Spell Focus (enchantment), Weapon Finesse (bite)
EnvironmentTemperate and warm forest and underground
Challenge Rating6
TreasureStandard coins; double goods; standard items
AlignmentAlways neutral evil
AdvancementBy character class
Level Adjustment+7

Web (Ex): In spider form (see Change Shape, below), La Belle Dame sans Merci can cast a web up to six times per day. This is similar to an attack with a net but has a maximum range of 50 feet, with a range increment of 10 feet, and is effective against targets of up to Large size. The web anchors the target in place, allowing no movement. An entangled creature can escape with a successful DC 20 Escape Artist check or burst the web with a successful DC 26 Strength check. The web has 6 hit points and takes double damage from fire.

Paralysis (Ex): Those failing a save against the La Belle Dame sans Merci’s poison are paralyzed for 1d6+4 hours.

Poison (Ex): Bite, DC 15 Fortitude save; initial damage 1d6 temporary Strength, secondary damage Paralysis.

Change Shape (Su): A La Belle dame sans merci’s natural form is that of a sapphire-blue, Medium monstrous spider. It can assume one other form: a beautiful human woman. Changing form is a standard action. In human form, the belle dame can cast spells, but it cannot use its web or poison attacks, and its movement rate is 30 ft. (6 squares). The belle dame remains in one form until it chooses to assume a new one. A change in form cannot be dispelled, nor does the belle dame revert to its natural form when killed. A true seeing spell, however, reveals its natural form if it is in human form.

Skills: Belle dames have a +2 racial bonus on Jump, Listen, and Spot checks. They have a+8 racial bonus on Climb checks and can always choose to take 10 on Climb checks even if rushed or threatened.

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