About Dottie Underwood/War Widow
(Mutants and Masterminds 3e)
Name: Dorothy “Dottie” Underwood (birth name unknown)
Dottie's String Board
Uncanny Dodge You are not vulnerable when surprised or otherwise caught off-guard. You are still made vulnerable by effects that limit your mobility.
Improved Disarm You have no penalty to your attack check when attempting to disarm an opponent and they do not get the opportunity to disarm you.
Improved Trip You have no penalty to your attack check when attempting to trip an opponent and they do not get the opportunity to trip you.
Improved Grab You can make grab attacks with only one arm, leaving the other free. You can also maintain the grab while using your other hand to perform actions. You are not vulnerable while grabbing.
Improved Hold Opponents you grab suffer a –5 circumstance penalty on checks to escape.
Fast Grab When you hit with an unarmed attack you can immediately make a grab check against that opponent as a free action. Your unarmed attack inflicts its normal damage and counts as the initial attack check required to grab your opponent.
Grabbing Finesse You can use your Dexterity bonus, rather than your Strength bonus, to make grab attacks. You are not vulnerable while grabbing.
Chokehold If you successfully grab and restrain an opponent, you can apply a chokehold, causing your opponent to begin suffocating for as long as you continue to restrain your target.
Assessment Choose a target you can accurately perceive and have the GM make a secret Insight check for you as a free action, opposed by the target’s Deception check result. If you win, the GM tells you the target’s attack and defense bonuses relative to yours (lower, higher, or equal). With each additional degree of success, you learn one of the target’s bonuses exactly. If you lose the opposed roll, you don’t find out anything. With more than one degree of failure, the GM may lie or otherwise exaggerate the target’s bonuses.
Taunt You can demoralize an opponent with Deception rather than Intimidation. Targets resist using Deception, Insight, or Will defense.
Languages 2 In addition to her native Russian, speaks English and German fluently
=BACKGROUND (warning: stupidly long)=
“Dottie Underwood,” real name erased from record long ago, was orphaned at a young age and assigned to a prototype of the Red Room project, the assassin training program that later produced Natasha Romanova. Forced to do horrible things to survive, including (but certainly not limited to) snapping her only friend's neck at the age of 12, the training slowly excised Dottie's humanity. The sole graduate of her class, she was conditioned into becoming highly capable, obedient soldier and spy. For her "graduation ceremony," she was treated in an experimental project that sterilized her but left her able to resist disease and heal from injury faster. She discovered much later another side effect was aging much more slowly.
The young woman was a ready soldier for World War II when she graduated from the Red Room in 1942. She assisted Leviathan in recruitment efforts (killing the disloyal and uncommitted) and joined a Red Army Sniper units, after Lyudmila "Lady Death" Pavlichenko was injured.
After the war, she was assigned to covert operations in the United States: the first so-called “Black Widow” (a barely-used moniker at the time) to be sent to the country. In 1946, she was assigned to seduce Howard Stark into revealing the location of his vault where he stored failed projects from his wartime developments. Unfortunately for the Leviathan agent, this mission was hijacked by Viktor Ivchenko/Johann Fenhoff, who wanted to manipulate what should have been a fairly simple theft mission into a a convoluted revenge plot against Stark ((canon note: in season 2, Masters notes Fenhoff tricked Dottie into helping him, hence this interpretation)). The plot kept going awry and changing--and further was disrupted by SSR Agent Peggy Carter. So, the young "Widow" was first assigned to keep an eye on Carter after killing loose end Jerome Zandow. Here is where she became "Dorothy Underwood," named after Judy Garland's famous role and a typewriter. She did not know then this would be the identity which she ended up defaulting to from then on. Dottie started growing obsessed with Peggy--friendly, classy, mostly competent--a potential rival she could actually respect. However, Fenhoff ordered Dottie to kill Peggy when he realized she was the one SSR agent who was putting the pieces together well enough to stop him. By this point, knowing they should have just secured the desired technology and returned to Leviathan, Dottie knew Fenhoff was planning far more mayhem than even Leviathan had planned. Furthermore, she figured that if Fenhoff succeeded on his assault on New York, it could spell war, something the USSR could not afford so closely on the heels of WWII. Dottie was too brainwashed to consider utter disobedience--and Fenhoff with his hypnosis abilities was a dangerous man to disobey--but she managed to stall her kill order, instead poisoning Peggy with her own "Sweet Dreams" lipstick. Peggy, taken unconscious by the SSR, was able to set everything straight, saved Howard, and arrested Fenhoff in the end. Dottie was cut loose by Leviathan for the failure of the mission--the only "favor" her agency did her, knowing she had been working with a traitorous handler, was leave her in the wind rather than send an assassin after her. Indeed, even before it happened, Dottie was aware she was likely to be cut loose--while goading Peggy into kicking her out of a window so she could escape, Dottie entered a half-crazed monologue during their fight, musing that, “Now, I can be anything I want! Maybe I’ll be an SSR agent next!”
Dottie seemed to want to become Peggy in particular, the powerful lady agent who commanded respect. Indeed, the next time she encountered Carter, Dottie was dressed in Peggy’s own style, down to the custom red Stetson Stratoliner hat. Moreover, Dottie was investigating an organization, the Arena Club, she knew was “secretly making all the decisions in this cesspit of a country.” She was working as a mercenary for a mysterious employer who was trying to protect the U.S. from the corruption of the Arena Club, and so in her own, twisted way, Dottie was investigating matters that should indeed have been concerns of the SSR. And soon enough the Arena Club was in fact trying to subvert the SSR’s efforts.
Daniel Sousa: "We can't trust anybody from the SSR, that's become painfully clear. And I'm not about to send a civilian into the jaws of that lion without sufficient training. No, what we need is a highly skilled, unknown face who can blend in with the glamour and throw down in the gutter. I don't know anybody besides you who can pull that off."
Peggy Carter: "... I have a terrible idea."
Against her own wisdom, a wounded Peggy Carter recruited Dottie to help her secure a sample of the “Zero Matter” (Darkforce) controlled by the soon-to-be new Mistress of the Arena Club, Whitney Frost (Dottie witnessed Frost's rise to power more closely than she'd like). Unfortunately, trying to continue her own mercenary investigation of the Arena Club while obtaining the sample, Dottie ended up being captured (she did leave the sample for Jarvis to retrieve) and tortured by Frost. Peggy rescued her (to Dottie’s delight and surprise) but promised Dottie she would return her to prison as soon as possible (to Dottie’s consternation). Dottie later escaped after shooting a police officer who didn’t have the sense to obey Peggy’s orders and leave Dottie alone while Peggy attended to a friend nearly killed by Frost. During Dottie’s encounter with Peggy, she kept implying--but was too proud to ask--that Peggy needed her continued assistance. Dottie was aware powerful entities were trying to infest the SSR and feared Peggy was too idealistic to be able to put a halt to it properly. “Your naivete will kill us all.” Peggy was much too concerned about other circumstances at the time to take note of the “us.”
Eventually, however, as Peggy continued to encounter powerful individuals in the Federal government who kept trying to either overtake the SSR or shut it down as obsolete, she had to admit the rogue assassin might have been right about how much the "rot ran deep" among the agents around her. Dottie moreover kept just happening to appear at the best/worst time, helping and hindering Peggy simultaneously in enemy efforts to subvert or destroy the SSR. The “us” Sank in--Dottie was a very loose cannon, but one invested in halting this corruption. Not that Dottie cared about protecting the United States government, but both her mercenary employers and she were invested in keeping the government agencies from becoming more corrupt than they already were--and keeping valuable, ethical operatives like Peggy alive.
Peggy herself ultimately realized it was best to keep one’s enemies closest. To Peggy’s surprise, General Phillips agreed--as they were setting up SHIELD, they needed an asset who thought like their Leviathan enemies, and who didn’t trust the former Nazi advisors the government was forcing them to work with through "Project Paperclip." With Phillips' blessing to make Dottie an offer, Peggy encountered Dottie at a seemingly abandoned Roxxon facility, where they were storing stolen Isodyne technology. Peggy told Dottie that she could find a way to make Dottie’s sentence more interesting than rotting in prison indefinitely. IF the rogue behaved, Peggy could give her work, more reliable than mysterious mercenary employment. With Peggy's admission--finally!--that she needed Dottie at last, Dottie agreed. Dottie criticized Peggy’s idealism, but knew Peggy was nigh-incorruptible, and actually believed in the ideas of freedom and equality she said she fought for. Dottie was a soldier and assassin, unafraid to kill on command--she believed, as she was raised to believe, that she was to fight wars and do terrible things so civilians could wake up the next morning and go to work in peace. She did what she had to by any means necessary, but for a better world. She trusted Peggy also truly wanted that "better world," not wealth (ick!) or power (a lie at the best of times). The fact that Peggy always treated Dottie with respect--even with a reasonable amount of wariness and a very short leash--also led Dottie to be inclined toward Peggy's side--no one else ever treated her like an actual person. When Peggy told Dottie her standing order was to protect the people, and only kill or harm others when there was no other way not to, Dottie did her best to obey that order. Out of duty and admiration for Peggy, rather than out of a personal sense of altruism, but did so nonetheless.
Thus, Peggy's "terrible idea" came to stay. Dottie became one of SHIELD’s earliest Black Ops agents, setting a precedent not only of course for their eventually hiring the likes of Natasha Romanoff (her successor in more ways than one), but also other enhanced assassins and thieves like Ghost. Sometimes she did lighter undercover work or strange odd-jobs Peggy couldn’t find anyone else to do. Dottie was kept in a restricted-area dwelling when not on missions, a prison with better furnishings. Her freedom grew over time as she proved herself to SHIELD. Dottie had few friends, but did establish a few relationships with co-workers, and she and Peggy became best-frenemies. If Dottie possessed a concept of the word, she might have said she loved Peggy. A feeling she never possessed for anyone else, before or since.
Peggy in turn respected Dottie's resilience and confidence, and even came to understand that Dottie chose to take her orders as a concession (if begrudging) to being a better person. Phillips liked her because she got results. Dottie never respected Stark--in part because he could never remember her name no matter how often she punched him--but few ever outright disagreed with her on that matter either.
As Peggy got older, the command structures were changing, with the National Security Council taking more control. Dottie felt uneasy with the changes. SHIELD's scientists were also giving her the eye, seeing she was hardly aging as years passed. Dottie had little interest in being anyone’s guinea pig. She found out from Peggy that SHIELD scientists had tried to replicate scientist-adventurer Hank Pym’s shrinking technology, going behind both Peggy’s and Pym’s back--not a good sign. Dottie knew Peggy had tapped a capable fellow to take the reins from her, but even so, there were too many dark influences on SHIELD were coming into play, just as they had been in the SSR years ago. These observations, when shared with SHIELD leaders, were considered the paranoid ramblings of a mentally, if not physically, aging assassin. Seeing the writing on the wall, she convinced Peggy to ensure that Dottie’s sentence was considered “worked off” in good order. When Peggy Carter retired in 1991, on the heels of Howard Stark’s death, Dottie resigned as well (perhaps even to the relief of some of the superiors she had been questioning).
But while they were close to the same age, Dottie was still relatively speaking in her physical prime. Wanting to investigate some of the entities she was suspicious of, but unable to act as a SHIELD agent, Dottie returned to mercenary work during the 1990s.
(As an aside, she was a little hurt, perhaps, at how quickly she was replaced at SHIELD -- but having witnessed Natasha in action from afar, she decided the girl was obnoxiously and impossibly a goody two shoes, so she trusted could not be corrupted further by darker forces inside SHIELD. Moreover, Natasha was exactly what Fury needed as his left hand, and so Dottie never interfered with the girl. It’s unknown whether Natasha, or any other Red Room affiliates, is even aware of Dottie’s existence.)
In 2000, she traced some strange activities to a Roxxon facility, where nearby townsfolk were being poisoned and energy fluxes were occuring. Investigating, she saw people she recognized as SHIELD agents working with Roxxon on devising new energy sources that had terrible side effects on the area around them. Even she didn't believe the exchange she heard between some of the individuals involved: “Hail Hydra.” She took surveillance of the exchange but was nearly caught, and ended up having to fight for her life versus several capable SHIELD and HYDRA agents. In the process, the corrupt agents activated the facility’s self-destruct mechanism, killing nearly everyone in the facility and endangering those in the nearby town. With doctored security footage, Dottie was framed as the cause of the explosion rather than the corrupt agent. Always having been hostile toward Roxxon and other “corrupt capitalists,” Dottie was too easily found guilty by a government and a society eager to find an obvious villain, rather than make an effort to pursue the real story. Dottie tried to get the real truth to Nick Fury, including her surveillance footage, but he didn't believe at the time that such a betrayal was possible. Rather, he figured that since leaving SHIELD, Dottie simply had returned to her villainous ways outside of Peggy Carter’s influence. Peggy, aging, retired, and starting to show signs of dementia, was herself unaware of the full story. Dottie wrote a letter to her to insist she had not destroyed the facility and to trust she had been trying to protect Peggy’s legacy in SHIELD… but to this day, Dottie has no idea if Peggy got the message, or if she ever believed it. Dottie was sentenced indefinitely to the Raft.
14 years later, she was somewhat vindicated--HYDRA did indeed emerge from within SHIELD, stopped only by Captain America, Black Widow, and Falcon. Even she heard about that from within the high security facility. That “Peggy’s Dead Boyfriend” and her sort-of successor helped stop it was at least nice to know. Even nicer was a little strip of fortune cookie paper that appeared in her evening sandwich: a message from “Foxtrot.” “We should have listened to you. If I wasn't dead, I’d come to get you out myself.” Cold comfort in prison, but comfort nonetheless.
Two years later Fury found an opportunity to make it up to Dottie, and pulled his last favor from one of Earth’s mightiest heroes, who happened to need to get into the Raft to rescue some friends. She didn't expect Peggy’s Dead Boyfriend to show up personally to break open her prison door two years later--but there he was. “A mutual friend of ours says you’re also a friend of Peggy’s. I…” and there, his face broke, and it looked like the world’s greatest hero was about to cry. “Her funeral was last week.” Something inside her broke too, though she was better about maintaining a neutral expression.
A fellow--the Falcon, she assumed--next to him interjected. “Cap, Creepy Eyes is in here for a reason, you shouldn't just go breaking everyone out of here.”
The good Captain fixed his gaze on her once he steadies his nerves. “I promised a friend I'd do this. And I don’t care what you've done, miss. As long as you go out there now and do her proud.”
“From one Allied soldier to another--yes, sir.” Dottie saluted.
Dottie had her marching orders. She would return to the world. And she would do Peggy proud.
But that might be a terrible idea.
One very important thing to understand about Dottie is she is definitely not a hero. She does not believe in Cap’s “sacrifice play.” She does not possess much empathy at all, let alone personal regard for individual human life. To say, after her particular upbringing, that she has sociopathic tendencies, is probably generous.
But Dottie does have her own sense of honor. She is a soldier, and while by any--ANY--means necessary--she still believes her duty is to protect and serve the world. She is loyal, determined, clearsighted, and eschews greed on all levels. She hates corruption. She is even bizarrely honest--she can lie if need be, of course, but she more often prefers to deceive if she needs to with twisted truths than baldfaced lies, and there is often a whisper of truth even in her most devious deceptions. She hates being “wasteful” --this includes of her own resources, but also of anyone’s life, limb, or property that isn’t necessarily lost in the line of work. She has no interest whatsoever in wealth, power, or glory and cannot be convinced from her path with bribes in those directions.
Dottie will readily kill to defend herself or to complete a mission. Death is a comforting certainty in life--at least when it’s other people’s--and she doesn’t deny it to anyone who foolishly gets in her way, or is determined a valid target. At the same time, she is seldom actively cruel. Most targets she takes down as quickly as possible, disinterested in wasting time causing unnecessary pain or fear. She does enjoy a good fight, but in the action, the competition of it. Dottie doesn't so much enjoy killing than she enjoys doing what she is good at. She just happens to be extremely good at killing.
Dottie isn’t greedy, but growing up in the Red Room during the Depression, she is protective of the few things and people she believes are hers. She likes to take trophies from her enemies, as well as steal enemies’ weapons to use against them. This also reflects a strong competitive streak, engendered by life in the Red Room, and she likes to “show off” by proving she is better at using someone else’s toys than they were.
She is not the brainwashed soldier she used to be, but still tends to think of things in terms of tactics and survival. She rarely connects to people on a personal level, but when she does and becomes fond of someone, they have a fierce--if frighteningly so--protector. Part of her, the child within that was warped by the Red Room, is delighted simply at the fact that she has managed to be alive and live all this time. Therefore she can seem to take things in with an impish delight, the more everyday, the more delightful. Her sometimes child-like nature still however belies a savvy, alert warrior nature always ready for conflict. She has no tolerance for fools and bullies, and readily bounces between innocence and sass as she navigates social interactions.
Dottie is a tall, fit woman with pale, freckled skin and startling blue eyes. Her naturally blonde hair is currently dyed black. When working, she wears inconspicuous outfits easy to move in--say, dark trousers, athletic shoes, and a protective leather jacket--but can adjust to any fashion required for a particular occasion. She favors black and white with a splash of red. Her wrists bear faded scars from 20+ years of being chained to a bed in her early life. While she eventually learned to sleep without feeling the need to be chained up, the marks remain an ever present reminder of that time in the Red Room and literally the impression it made upon her. She usually wears long sleeves, or gloves, or bracelets to help cover them, if only to avoid awkward questions, though of course they are distinguishing marks those hunting her would also know to look for.
Despite being a nonagenarian, she only looks to be in her 30s, though she complains of arthritis in her right hand and says she can’t shoot firearms as well as she used to. Compared to most, her acuity is still more than acceptable, however, and she moves with the practiced grace of a dancer--and a warrior.
Success : The damage has no effect.
Failure (one degree): The target has a –1 circumstance penalty to further resistance checks against damage.
Failure (two degrees): The target is dazed until the end of their next turn and has a –1 circumstance penalty to further checks against damage.
Failure (three degrees): The target is staggered and has a -1 circumstance penalty to further checks against damage. If the target is staggered again (three degrees of failure on a Damage resistance check), apply the fourth degree of effect. The staggered condition remains until the target recovers (see Recovery, following).
Failure (four degrees): The target is incapacitated .
The circumstance penalties to Toughness checks are cumulative, so a target who fails three resistance checks against Damage, each with one degree of failure, has a total –3 penalty.
If an incapacitated target fails a resistance check against Damage, the target’s condition shifts to dying. A dying target who fails a resistance check against Damage is dead.
A hero using extra effort gains one of the following benefits:
ACTION: Gain an additional standard action during your turn, which can be exchanged for a move or free action, as usual.
USING VICTORY(HERO) POINTS
EDIT SCENE: You can “edit” a scene to grant your hero an advantage by adding or changing certain details.