Alternate Identity: Camellia Blume, M.D.
Base of Operations: Vibora Bay
Concept: "Moonstone meets Poison Ivy, with a dash of Venom, and side helpings of Elle Woods and Blanche Devereaux"
Table of Contents
Allies, Associates, & Enemies
Costume & Appearance
Current Role & Hooks
Personality & Motivation
Powers & Skills
Allies, Associates, & Enemies
Brother & Sister-In-Law
Camellia's younger brother J.B. is her fraternal twin, born a few minutes after her. He entered the workforce, got married, and started a family several years before Camellia did, only staying in school long enough to get his MBA. He and his wife, Pamela, have two small children, Abby and Alan. Pamela was Camellia's sorority sister and best friend in college. Camellia set the two of them up in the first place. She adores her niece and nephew, and the feeling is mutual.
Camellia Blume’s parents, Lena and Bernie, met while they were both students at Sinclair University. Lena was a cheerleader, and Bernie played football. They both stuck around long enough to earn Master’s degrees, hers in interior design and his in engineering. After graduation, she started her own design firm, while he went to work for Vibora Petroleum. He started as an engineer, but he quickly ascended to upper management. Her family also owns dozens of rental properties and restaurant franchises, in Vibora Bay and across north Florida. Her father and grandfather have both been members of the elite Mahogany Club since before she was born. Camellia is their little princess and there's nothing they wouldn't do to indulge her, but she tries her best to stand on her own two feet.
City of Vibora Bay
As one of Vibora Bay's official municipal defenders, Persephone works directly with the city government. A small handful of city officials, including Mayor Richenda Barker, even know her secret identity.
Camellia maintains contact with the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins on both sides of her family.
Professional Contacts & Sorority Sisters
Camellia was one of the vice-presidents of her chapter of the Omega Beta Gamma sorority at Sinclair University. She worked as a model and pageant contestant in her teens and early-to-mid-twenties, including during her year in Paris. She spent four years at the University of Vibora Bay School of Medicine, the most prestigious medical school in the state of Florida, and another four years completing her psychiatric residency at the world-renowned UFVB hospital. She's maintained all of her contacts from those worlds. Her Christmas card list includes models, photographers, newspaper and magazine editors, fashion designers, university professors, doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, and dozens of women who went on to become and/or marry some of the wealthiest and most influential people in every walk of life on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
The New Shadows
The pack of vampires Camellia destroyed on her first night as Persephone were affiliated with the New Shadows gang. The gang doesn't know that Camellia is Persephone, but they have figured out that Persephone is the one who killed their comrades. They haven't put a bounty on her, because, as a matter of honor and reputation, they want to be the ones to avenge themselves. But they are offering a reward for information about her and her whereabouts. The changes the alien symbiote has made to Persephone's biology make it unlikely that vampires would derive nourishment from her bodily fluids or that they would be able to transform her into another vampire, but they do intend to make her suffer and die for her affront against them. If repeated attempts to capture or kill her fail, then they may swallow their pride and seek outside assistance. If the gang got word of her presence in a particular place, then they could show up and make a bad situation even worse.
Costume & Appearance
A friend once described Camellia as “Grace Kelly’s head on Kate Upton’s body”. She has brilliant blue eyes set into a heart-shaped face, framed with a mane of shiny and thick platinum blonde hair which falls down well below her waist. She has the kind of hourglass figure that usually requires aggressive corsetry, and most of her substantial height is in her long legs. Her voice is heavy, breathy, and deeper than most people expect, with a slight Southern drawl. She carries herself with the calm, quiet confidence of someone who’s accustomed to being welcome everywhere she goes. She has a big smile, and it gets a lot of exercise.
When she uses her powers, her skin turns green, and her eyes and hair both turn purple. Her hair grows even longer, almost touching the ground, and it takes on a life of its own, gently floating and swaying as though she were underwater. She is a skilled seamstress, an asset she had already made extensive use of on her normal clothes before she ever got superpowers, altering them to better fit and support her body. After she became a superhero, she altered them further, fastening them with magnets to make them quickly and easily removable (a trick stage productions use to facilitate frequent costume changes). Her superhero costume is a leotard composed of thousands of overlapping leaves growing out of her own skin. When Camellia turns into Persephone, she triggers the pigmentation changes, grows the leaves, and snaps her civilian clothing off. She has the whole process down to less than a second. When it's time for Persephone to turn back into Camellia, she just snaps her civilian clothing back on, changes color, and lets the leaves fall off. They quickly dry out once they're no longer attached to her. There's usually a flower in her hair, growing straight out of her head. She can also release luciferns and their catalyzing enzymes into parts of her body, causing them to glow. She does this most often with her hair and eyes.
In her civilian life, Camellia has an extensive wardrobe; more than one person has joked that they’ve never seen her wear anything twice. Her personal style, heavily influenced by the Vibora climate, consists mainly of above-the-knee sundresses in bright colors and floral prints, paired with some kind of ornate sandals, more often than not with 4-5 inch heels that make her tower over most of the people around her. During the couple of months a year where the weather in Vibora Bay dips below 70F, she’ll switch to sweater dresses with higher necklines, swap out the sandals for closed-toes or boots, and add some heavy tights for extra warmth. In more casual settings, she sometimes trades the dresses for crop tops paired with denim short-shorts or short skirts, and on the beach, which she visits every chance she gets, she rocks the bikini. She loves jewelry; pearls are her favorite, and she owns pieces in every color of the rainbow. Outside, she’s rarely seen without both oversized sunglasses, some kind of a large, floppy-brimmed straw or silk hat with a bow or flower on the ribbon, varieties of which she also owns in every color. In professional settings, she wears decorative glasses with clear lenses, mainly in the hope that she’ll be taken more seriously once the “smart people have poor eyesight” stereotype cancels out the “dumb blonde” trope, but also because it gives her another accessory to play with.
Current Role & Hooks
Even when she was an independent superhero, Persephone tried to make herself available for any crime-fighting or disaster relief opportunities which presented themselves in the Vibora Bay metropolitan area. Now that she's one of the city's official municipal defenders, she has not just a moral obligation to do so, but a legal obligation as well. As far as she's concerned, there's no problem too small for her to help with. At one point she literally used her powers to bring a stuck kitten down from a tree, and she still considers it her best superhero moment. She lacks the power to cover a larger region, and even within the city, her mobility is limited. She can command local plants to ferry her around like a sort of relay race of ski lifts, but at only 25MPH, it's usually faster for her to just take her car. She would rather be loved than feared. She always tries to resolve a situation peacefully, and if things get violent, she always uses the minimum force required, and she's quickly becoming known for that. Even when she was an independent hero, she would gladly stick around long enough to make any bystanders feel safe, and to talk with and assist rescue workers, police, and the media.
Persephone is an exercise in taking tropes normally reserved for villains and making a hero with them instead. Her color scheme is the green/purple/orange combo colloquially known as "Secondary Color Villain", to contrast with the "Primary Color Hero". She's a blonde, blue-eyed white girl from the South. She used to be a cheerleader and a sorority sister. Her powers include Emotion Control, delivered by what is basically poison. She's a traditionally feminine and unashamedly sexual adult woman who wears a revealing costume and fights indirectly through what are basically summoned minions. Normally, all of those things would scream "villain", or, at best, "Character it's OK to kill", in any genre.
Persephone is as far outside my own wheelhouse as I've ever strayed as a role-player, an exercise in embracing and playing with tropes I used to avoid like the plague. She's both a Southerner and a "basic white girl", two types of people whom I used to hate, mock, and write off at first glance. I also used to look down upon any feminine and/or sexually alluring RPG characters, dismissively calling them "GM's Girlfriend PCs". Persephone was born out of the cultural and emotional evolution I've felt happening both in the larger geek culture and in my own life. A lot of us have been doing some growing up and waking up all at once to the nuanced truth that the declaration of all things soft-feminine to be "bad" is rooted in misogyny. What's "bad" is making one thing, whether it's one type of femininity or masculinity or anything else, the only available option, and forcing people to adhere to rigid stereotypes which don't fit them. Tomboys shouldn't be mocked or punished for not being girly-girls, but the reverse is also true. We're waking up to the fact that the whole idea of the "Mary Sue" character archetype in RPGs and genre fiction is rooted in that same misogyny, so, in defiance of that, I went ahead and gave Persephone several "Mary Sue" traits, like the infamous purple eyes. Similarly, while it's a problem when every female character in a work is forced to be titillating for an assumed hetero male audience, it's not an innately bad thing for a female character (or anyone else) to be "sexy", and cheesecake can be fun without being creepy, although everyone has their own boundaries when it comes to that sort of thing.
Camellia lives in a rented two-bedroom house in Atwater, one of the better neighborhoods in the worse half of the city. She could afford to live in Easton, where she grew up and where the rest of her family lives, but she's trying to save money, dip as little as possible into her trust fund, and achieve some semblance of independence. Like most Floridians, she has a small pool in the backyard, and both the back and front yards are dominated by her extensive flower gardens. At any given time, there are also multiple vases filled with fresh flowers in every room inside the house. She uses her second bedroom as a mixed home office, sewing room, and walk-in closet. The walls are covered with framed photographs of family and friends, occasionally broken up by art prints, mostly Monet and Van Gogh. She also rents a studio apartment in Far Weston, not as nice as Atwater but far from the worst neighborhood Weston has to offer. She uses the apartment as an office, so that she doesn't have to see clients in her home. It's her attempt to force some work/life balance, and to keep a professional boundary between her and her patients. The apartment-office is as filled with flowers as her home. It is furnished with a couch and several plush chairs surrounding a coffee table, a desk where she keeps her notes and her work computer locked up, and a mini-refrigerator she keeps stocked with a couple pitchers of sweet tea she always offers to her patients. Framed copies of her university and medical school diplomas and other credentials adorn the walls, along with some more Monet and Van Gogh prints.
Camellia Blume's family has roots in the east side of Vibora Bay going back at least as far as her great-grandparents on both sides. Her family are all wealthy, highly educated professionals, with real estate holdings across north Florida. Camellia beat her “little” twin brother J.B. into the world by a few minutes. She grew up in a Cluet Farms mansion, immersed in luxury and privilege. Her teens and early twenties were a hurricane of private schools, cotillions, debutante balls, modeling jobs, and beauty pageants, just like her mother before her. Like her mother before her, she was the queen of her high school. Unlike her mother, she was a benevolent queen, who never tolerated bullying. She attended Sinclair University, a legacy admission, like her parents before her. She joined the same sorority her mother had belonged to. She was a cheerleader like her mother before her. She even spent a year studying abroad in Paris, like her mother had at her age. But ultimately, she decided that, while dancing and modeling were fun, they weren't a fulfilling career. She wanted to spend her life helping people in a more direct manner. So after she graduated college, she applied to UFVB's prestigious medical school. At first, her parents did not approve, though they knew well enough to cloak their objections with polite euphemisms. But as far as they were concerned, a mostly-black school on the west side of the city, even a nationally renowned one, may as well have been another planet. Camellia stood firm. In 22 years, it was the first time she ever made a real decision for herself instead of just following in her parents footsteps. Her parents refused to pay for it, and even threatened to cut off her trust fund. But she'd saved enough of the money she'd made from a decade of modeling jobs and pageant prizes to take a big bite out of the tuition, and she was willing to take out loans to pay for the rest. The idea of their little princess taking on debt horrified them more than the idea of her living in Weston or going to school with black people, so they relented. After four years of medical school, Camellia chose psychiatry as her specialty, combining her academic prowess and her social skills to make the world a better place, one person at a time. After another four years, she completed her residency and obtained her medical license. She rented an apartment in Far Weston (separate from the rented Atwater house she lived in), and started her own practice out of it, living off of her trust fund until she accumulated enough patients to make her practice self-sustaining. Her refusal to charge patients more than they could afford, or to limit her clientele to the wealthy, slowed that process considerably.
Camellia kept a garden at home, and her office space was filled with flowers. This caused one of her first patients visible distress. But he wasn't floraphobic. Instead, he seemed to be suffering from auditory hallucinations, or some other delusion. He claimed that one of his wife’s plants was talking to him. No one else seemed to be able to hear the voice, but it was growing louder and more insistent, while not making any sense, and he was convinced it was coming from the purple orchid his wife had brought home a few weeks prior. After a few weeks of talk sessions and a prescription for anti-anxiety medication failed to yield any results, he brought the orchid in question to his session, and refused to bring it back home with him. She didn’t think it would help his recovery to force the issue, so she let him leave without it, intending to return it to him later.
The orchid was sitting on the front seat of her car during her commute home. That commute was interrupted when she drove by what appeared to be a mugging or assault taking place in an alley just off the street. She pulled off into the alley, flashed her lights, honked her horn, and shouted that she was calling the police, hoping to scare away the attackers. But the attackers were a pack of vampires affiliated with the New Shadows gang, and they weren’t mugging their victim; they were about to feed on him. They used their superhuman strength to flip her car over, trapping her in the alley. But as they started to drag her out of the wrecked car, she heard a woman's voice inside her mind, and it seemed like time froze.
The voice offered Camellia power, the power she would need to survive this ordeal and many like it. But she could only give Camellia that power if they were “bonded”. Camellia decided that, whatever that meant, it was better than letting herself or that poor man be killed, so she agreed. Time started passing again, and the orchid started moving under its own power, shattering its pot and pressing itself against Camellia. The flower somehow phased through her flesh and bone, sinking into her chest. She felt its roots expand throughout her body. It occurred to her that this should have been painful or terrifying or disgusting, but instead it was invigorating. Leaves and bark sprouted from her flesh, covering every inch of her skin. The vampires were shocked when they reached for a human but pulled out a humanoid plant-monster. Their claws and fangs couldn't pierce her bark-armor. Acting on instinct, she summoned plants to her aid, and they responded. Roots from a nearby tree stretched and snaked through the dirt before bursting bursting up out of the ground, breaking through the concrete like it was glass. The roots hardened into spears and impaled the vampires, who all collapsed into piles of ash. As soon as the danger had passed, the leafy armor dried up and crumbled off of Camellia’s skin. She used her cell phone to call an ambulance for the bleeding man and a tow truck for her totaled car, and she tended to his wounds as best she could while they waited. She told the police that she’d turned too fast into the alley and flipped over, which must have scared away “the muggers”. The wounded man didn’t contradict her.
Camellia spent the weeks after the incident telepathically communing with her new symbiote, learning what little the symbiote knew of her own history, and growing accustomed to her new abilities and the changes the symbiote was making to her body. The symbiote had been part of a race of semi-sentient plants engineered and grown as biological weapons by the humans of another Earth in an alternate dimension. That dimension fell to Omega, and this symbiote happened to be on a part of that Earth which wound up floating in the Terminus instead of being annihilated. When a rift opened up near the symbiote during the most recent Terminus incursion into her dimension, she pulled up her roots and let herself fall through. The symbiote offered to separate from Camellia if she so desired, but Camellia refused when she learned that separation would require intensive surgery which could kill both of them. Instead, Camellia decided to cope with whatever changes might come, and put her new abilities to good use, making the world a better place like she’d always wanted to.
Camellia invests a great deal of time and effort into maintaining her extensive network of family, school friends, sorority sisters, and coworkers (both from her modeling days and from the teaching hospital where she completed her residency). Once you're part of her world, you don't leave. She calls and sends cards for every birthday and anniversary, and she sends hand-written “Thank You” notes for everything else. Her psychiatry practice and superhero activities take up most of what time remains. When she somehow manages to squeeze a few more drops out of her schedule, she likes gardening, sewing, cooking and baking, and making occasional trips to the beach or to go out dancing at night clubs. She has no regrets about putting her personal life on hold for the sake of her career, but it's not on hold anymore. She has an active profile on ErosUnlimited, where she's hoping within the next few years to find a guy to settle down with, get married and have kids.
Personality & Motivation
Camellia's behavior comes from a combination of a naturally big heart and being raised in a semi-aristocratic subculture in which tradition was revered and courtesy was paramount. She strives to always be polite, modest, generous, and forgiving. She hates to see people suffer, even when they deserve it. She’s sensitive to the moods of the people around her, and it’s important to her to make those people as comfortable as possible. Her guiding principle in daily life is “Make everybody feel welcome, and never make anybody feel second-rate.” She greets everyone with a warm smile and an opening for as much small talk as they'd like, and she almost never swears or insults people. When someone else commits a faux pas, she’s far more likely to ignore it or attempt to cover for it than she is to draw attention to it or mock them. She values integrity, both in herself and in others, so she won’t lie to protect people’s feelings, but she will distract, deflect, and omit. Every child gets told at some point “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”, but unlike most children, she took that sentiment to heart, leaving the hard truths for one-on-one sessions behind closed doors. She detests bullying of any kind, and she won't hesitate to step in and put herself between the bully and their victim. She loves social interaction and embraces every opportunity for it. Everyone has a story, and she wants to hear them all. She likes attention, which is fortunate, because she’d get plenty of it whether she liked it or not. She doesn’t demand the spotlight, but she’s very comfortable under it. She’s a hopeless romantic who falls hard and fast both in and out of love. She doesn’t expect or demand old school chivalry, but she’s a total sucker for it.
Powers & Skills
Camellia Blume is a medical doctor with a specialty in psychiatric medicine, fully licensed to practice in the state of Florida.
The symbiotic alien plant which fused with her has transformed her body on the molecular level into an ambulatory plant. She looks human on the surface, but beneath the skin, her flesh, blood, and bone has mostly been replaced with cellulose, sap, and wood. Her plant tissues are more durable and resilient than her old flesh, her aging process has slowed considerably, and she can completely regrow any lost body parts. Her body engages in photosynthesis, so she doesn’t need to breathe or eat food, though she still does, both for the pleasurable sensation and because she can derive nutrients from it; it’s the equivalent of spreading fertilizer over crops. She can also extend roots from her body down into soil to obtain water and nutrients, but eating and drinking feels more familiar. The diseases and poisons of animals no longer affect her, although certain chemical fertilizers have effects on her similar to those of caffeine or alcohol when she discreetly adds them to her coffee and cocktails (which also makes those drinks toxic for anyone else). However, as a plant, she is more vulnerable to dehydration and extremes of temperature, her tissues are more flammable, and defoliants and herbicides which would be harmless to a human will kill her in a matter of seconds. But if she is killed, a piece of her corpse can be re-planted like a cutting, and, if it is able to take root and it gets the water, nutrients, and sunlight it needs, then it will eventually regrow her entire body.
Through the symbiote, she can psychically detect, communicate with, animate, control, and alter plants. She can make them move and act on her behalf, and she can transform them extensively, shaping them like clay, greatly increasing or decreasing their size, strength, and resilience, and making them sprout flowers which burst open to unleash sedative latex, or psychoactive pollen which can cause hallucinations and render the victim susceptible to suggestion. She doesn't strictly need to take any physical action to alter or control plants, but she uses physical gestures to help herself focus. In battle, she looks like she's dancing or conducting an orchestra. Most of the transformations she causes reverse themselves quickly once she stops exerting the mental effort to maintain them; permanent changes require greater effort. Nearby plants respond to her unconscious desires and survival instincts, moving out of her way, or moving and stretching to protect her, blocking or swatting aside incoming attacks. Her ability to shape plant matter with her thoughts also extends to her own body. She can make plant appendages like vines, thorns, leaves, and roots sprout from her skin, with whatever pigmentation or texture she desires. In battle, she often grows an extra layer of thick bark over her skin, harder than rock. She can release luciferns and their catalyzing enzymes into parts of her body, causing them to glow.
In a battle, engaging directly with supervillains is her last resort. Her first priorities are healing the wounded, and using her Create Object and Move Object powers to protect bystanders and other heroes, either by shielding them or by moving them to a safe place. When she does fight directly, she attempts to restrain or incapacitate her foes while doing as little harm as possible. She can create vines to whip or strangle, or thorns to cut and stab, either from her own body or by altering other plants, but she’s so loathe to inflict direct harm that she refuses to do so in all but the most desperate of circumstances.
Camellia Blume is born in Vibora Bay.
Camellia Blume begins working as a model and competing in beauty pageants.
Camellia Blume graduates from a private high school in Vibora Bay, and begins attending Sinclair University.
She joins the Omega Beta Gamma sorority and the cheerleader squad for Sinclair's NCAA teams.
Camellia Blume graduates from Sinclair with honors, and begins attending the UFVB school of medicine.
She joins the cheerleader squad for the UFVB Gators.
Camellia Blume graduates from the UFVB medical school, and begins her residency at the UFVB hospital.
Camellia Blume finishes her psychiatric residency, becomes a board-certified physician, and starts her own psychiatric practice.
During an attack by the New Shadows, she bonds with a symbiotic plant from an alternate universe and gains superpowers.
She becomes a superhero, taking the name "Persephone".
Storm of The Century: Persephone teams up with Cheval, The Immutable Betsy Brooks, Sagrado Corazon, Speed-Demon, Torque, and The Woodsman, to repel an incursion by an undead crocodile kaiju and its zombie horde.
Rough Draft: Persephone meets with the other heroes from "Storm of The Century" to discuss the mayor's offer to back an official Vibora Bay super-team.
Persephone becomes one of Vibora Bay's official city defenders.
Dragon's Harvest (IN PROGRESS): Persephone and the other Vibora Bay Defenders meet The Dragoneer at his home.
Even The Mere Reports of Such (IN PROGRESS): Persephone and the other Vibora Bay Defenders investigate a haunted house.
Deep Runs The Dreadnaut (IN PROGRESS): The Dreadnaut holds Vibora Bay hostage.
Transylvanian Mix Tape (IN PROGRESS): Persephone and Sagrado Corazon help The Immutable Betsy Brooks look into the local vampire problem.