The Black Betties

Who are we? So glad you asked! Let me tell you a story...

 

The Black Betties stand as one of the most famous organizations in The Web . Based out of Shreveport, Louisiana in The United States, they are considered troubleshooters by the key players in the web but have, on more than one occasion, proven to be formidable in opposing the horrors of the world. The organization has a unique history, one that changes from time to time as each leader adds to and expands the often "forgotten" lore.

It isn't entirely clear whether they are making it up or telling a history that they intentionally organized to unfold over time. The Betties are legends in a literal sense. A staple of their organization includes telling their tales and actively utilizing word of mouth to allow those tales to grow. This ideology came from the very thing that inspired their name.


The Black Betty

 
The Black Betty is a weapon that has gained many abilities since it was first created and has done so due to its legendary status. The stories told about it and the woman who wields it forces both to live up to the expectation. The bat is lighter, and hits harder when she uses it. The leader of The Betties also finds that her wounds are always less several than they should be and heal quicker as well. She can take far more punishment than the average person could.

The idea of the weapon's tall tale came from the first wielder, Betsy, who began to notice these changes. When the next wielder broke the weapon and attempted to reforge it, she failed. It didn't work and would take her three more tries to make it close to the original. The weapon had to be intentionally sanded to give it the look of age, the weapon has to have the teeth attached at the end, and it had to be a black, wooden, Louisville Slugger.

The current wielder discovered that the legend of the wielder could be enhanced as well, giving different stories about how she came to join the Betties, even changing her name in each one.

   

Rock And Roll

The Betties trace their roots to the 50s, without the classic concept of the nuclear family, and the idea of a woman's place being at home, the founders would never have been able to take advantage of the narrow-minded view and escape the scrutiny of their husbands, who were either at work or sleeping during their hunts. Both Betsy and Elizabeth were fond of music, and that love carried on as well. The Black Betties have picked up many styles and added it to their own, but none shine through as much as the modern rockabilly style.

The group dress in all colors, though black is prominent in all of their outfits. Plaid is a common pattern as well as floral. Members can often be seen in attire not fitting their profession, such as swing dresses and pencil dresses. The nature of their legends dictate that these dresses never interfere with their hunts, however.
Other styles are also common like roll up, high waist, denim pants, cardigans, rip tops, tank tops (A more modern addition) and fitted button down shirts. Jewelry, bandannas, high heels, are common accessories. This list of course is not exhaustive and it's fairly common to see things out of the norm from time to time as the style of the Betties is so critical to their legends.

 

The Family Tradition

The leader is not the only member who cultivates a legend. Each member has her own legend that they spread actively. They are renowned story tellers, never giving the same origin story twice and even refusing to give their real names. Once the organization began a second chapter in California, the leader decreed that any chapter house of The Black Betties shall have no more than 24 members. This number by active members in the Shreveport Chapter house at the time.

When a new member is accepted, she sheds her old name in a sense, refusing to reveal it to anyone involved in the web. They adopt one of 24 names that have stayed true to this day, called personas.
Exceptions have been made, of course, especially in recent years. Examples include revealing names to other members, adding male names for female to male trans members like Cash, Dean, or Elvis, and starting families.
Members throughout most of the 60s and 70s could not have living family who would recognize them. If they did, it would disrupt their legend. Since then however their legend has attached itself to their names and style rather than the face who wears them.

Initially, rumors began to spread that The Betties never age. The first members of The Betties were in their thirties when they started, and since their names were still in rotation after they retired many began to wonder.
In the 90s, people realized these women were not immortal. As new members flowed in and older operatives in The Web began to notice the same names with different faces, hence the change in how the legend is applied. A member with your name in another chapter is referred to as a sister or twin.

   

A House Divided

Beatrice is in a rather difficult position with the current roster of The Black Betties. A major theme of the group is changing times. Beatrice is 40 years old, and finds it difficult to handle some of the younger members and their broader definitions of what defines a "monster" hunter.

Numerous incidents have occurred where the group broke its own rules, tracking down completely normal human criminals. While what these men and women have done can easily be understood as monstrous, Beatrice holds firm to what the organization has always done: Leave the humans to the lesser authorities.

This ideology has put her at odds with several members of the organization. While this is a problem, it never creates so much hostility that Beatrice is actively challenged. Her word is still law...for now.

Baby, Let's Play House

The Betties have had many women in their ranks and most have been victims of the world in one way or another. Runaways from broken homes, former forced members of a sex trade, domestic violence victims with no where to go, and more all find a home, a bed, and a hot meal at Rosie's Garage. Membership isn't based on skill, that can be learned. It isn't based on class, or charm, that can be taught. Members have come from all walks of life, believing themselves to completely useless.

Some of these women were even right. The Betties did not care. When you join, you become so much more. The personas give you charm on command. Your sisters will teach you what the persona cannot. All they care about is the will.
A woman with the heart to leave an abusive husband, twisted father, or threatening pimp? Hell...what better demographic for a fighter than that?

Rosie's Garage

Rosie's garage is a large building outside of town. The Black Betties use it as a base of operation. Every chapter has a Rosie's Garage that houses the members who don't have a home to go to, raises money for funding, and acts as a safe house for sisters from other chapters.

The garage is a three level complex. The ground floor consists of a basic common area along with garages lining the walls for customers during the day, and The Betties' vehicle storage by night. The second floor consists of living quarters. The basement level is where the armory is along with Cash's library and Della's apothecary.

"Go for a typical feminine ‘50s look...don't hide those tattoos though. Consider some Converse All Stars, (we do running, uh...sometimes). Maybe some animal prints, bandannas, and bright red lipstick...at least that's my shade... Make the style yours though. Do what you think makes it you. It helps...trust me on that.
— Beatrice

The Hot Rod

The Betties are known for extreme mobility. This comes from the fact that they routinely restore old cars...often with some modifications. The Betties have always been known for their love of the automobile. Elizabeth and Betsy, the first Betties, often ran down their prey in Betsy's husband's black 1950 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. Since then, The Betties have incorporated motorcycles as well. Beatrice is quite fond of her custom Harley.

Personas

Drop Down for The 24 Personas
The Black Betties utilize The Gift of Tall Tales, a power that comes from stories about their members. These stories come in the form of personas. There are 24 personas a member may choose from so long as another member doesn't have it already in the current chapter. This excludes trans-gendered members who may pick between Cash, James, or Elvis, and the leader herself who must simply choose a name that starts with the letter B. Most chapters only have 10 to 15 members at any given point, leaving many names available. It should be said that two members can have the same name origin, one can be named Becca, while another is named Becky for example.
Personas
DellaCharlotte
BeccaAdelaide
JaneJune
ConstanceDorothy
EdithDaisy
HoneyCherry
JudithJoan
RoseKitty
DixieNorma (Jean)
MavisPearl
MarylinDoll
IvyGinger

 
Each name carries with it a complex set of traits that the Betty inevitably adopts. It's not that the persona changes who they are or anything about them at all. Personas attract the new member to the name that fits them most. When a Betty chooses her name, it's always fitting. She has no say in the matter.

Over time she begins to adopt that persona, making slight changes in how she speaks and acts, but her personality is unchanged. This other self is who she is when she is on the hunt. It's hard to put down what traits one persona has, as in reality, it's hard to tell. The only one who can truly answer the question is the one who adopts the persona, who could easily be telling you something that isn't entirely true...yet.

The effect doesn't wear off completely after the hunt or even after retirement. This is what led to the concept of personas in the first place. They are alive in a way. Every twin both current and those that came before create it, making it seem like past members and twins in other chapters are connected, and always there to help.

Different members rotating at different times and ages in different chapters began to cause a rather peculiar effect. Since they had the same names, a Betty can tap into the legends of a sister in another chapter.
A member named Cherry, for example, may find that she suddenly has uncanny skill in marksmanship simply because the member named Cherry in the London chapter has the skill and became known for it.

It's often a wild experience to meet your twin from another chapter as the legend becomes erratic and the two begin to adopt each other's mannerisms, postures, general quirks, and essentially become the same person.

   

Betty and Betty

The Black Betties began in 1949 with two women. Elizabeth "Betty" Keirnan and Betsy "Betty" Myers. The two were neighbors and quickly became friends as they marveled at the coincidence of their lives.
They both preferred the name Betty, their husbands, were both named David and were both lawyers who worked at the same firm. The two families grew close and spent significantly large amounts of time together. A few years passed by. They had children by then, and planned a nice, quiet and peaceful life.

  Fate intervened, as it usually does, and in 53' the two found themselves in a difficult position. The two women were talking outside between their homes and heard a strange sound. A piercing wail that crashed into the night silence. It wasn't human, but they couldn't have known it. Who suspects a monster lurking in the suburbs.
  They looked, and saw a creature with burning red eyes, thin membranous wings, a gaping maw filled with rows upon rows of teeth. The black body blending in with the night, but when it moved it seemed to shimmer in the porch light. Fate did intervene, but it wasn't until this moment. The women stood in fear, paralysis set in firmly and by some lust of life, or momentarily burst of courage, they both sprang into action.

Elizabeth reached for a BB gun, Betsy grabbed her son's baseball bat, and together they attacked it. They didn't kill the thing. Don't believe what The Betties say. They merely drove it off. It fled at the sudden and unexpected attack of its prey. It left to lick its wounds. It settled in a nest of filth, defeated...and angry
Betty and Betty were hard at work. Their husbands were away and their children safe at school. They bought a gun, a Louisville Slugger, and after a quick trip to the hardware store, had all they would need to repel their unwelcome guest.

A Fateful Evening

It would take weeks, and even then it wasn't enough. The creature assailed them directly. There was no ceremony. There was no desire to see their fear. It swooped in, but they were ready. Gun fire went off in the night and then Betsy's scream. Again, it seemed, fate was prepared. Betsy's husband had remembered her birthday, and she happened to prefer silver. As a gift he presented a silver locket that held their wedding day picture within.
The beast grabbed her by the throat and shrieked as the silver burned through its skin. Betsy knew how to take a hint and, in a feat of daring strength, climbed on top of it and wrapped her anniversary gift around the creature's throat. Its cries died out soon after.

  The true horror wasn't the beast, nor the monster. It wasn't the cleanup either. These women were mothers. The horrors of birth were far worse than the decapitated corpse of this winged beast. They worked tirelessly, burning the body and their bloodstained dresses with it. They mapped up the blood and told not a soul.
That's when the true horror hit them. They sat there the next day, both shaken by the night before. They pondered it and the revelation left their skin cold. It was just wandering like a stray dog. What was it? How many more could there be? The beacon was lit and the two have been fighting monsters ever since.  

Poodle Skirts and Ak-47s

The years that followed were filled with long nights and longer days. The duo watched their quiet street ever vigilant of the next monstrosity that would grace their doorstep. They killed several in their time and each kill taught them more about what they were fighting. One day, however, Elizabeth was injured. They couldn't wake their husbands, so they took her to a house across the street. Lucy Payne was a friend, but never aware of their late night hunts. She saw the wounded Elizabeth and did what she could to save her. She failed. Elizabeth died at the age of 35 and her husband soon after. Her children were orphaned, fading from this story, and Lucy was left with many questions.
 

The Birth of the Legend

The concept of The Candlelight had yet to be discovered but Lucy was nonetheless exposed to the truth, and after an encounter with a beast herself, she took Elizabeth's place. Vietnam began and many of the women were left home alone as their sons and husbands went off to war. This was the rise of The Black Betties.
Betsy felt great loss after her friend's death but continued her hunts. She began recruiting the women of the neighborhood who all knew by now that something was going on. By the end of the 60s there were nearly 20 women in the organization. Betsy crafted the first black Betty, and named it such after her fallen friend, herself, and the bond they shared. The name stuck and soon came to define the entire group. They were all Black Betties now. As time went on, members died, retired or moved to other places in the world, leading to chapter houses. By the 80s their 7 chapter houses and The Betties started gathering a reputation. By the time Beatrice would inherit her role, they were firmly established into The Web.
Drop Down for a Table on the Leadership of The Black Betties
Leaders Modifications Status Membership
Betty
Born: Bettsy Myers of Shreveport, Louisiana
Nails of various compositions embedded in the head of the bat "For varmints with particularly thick skin." Retired/Deceased 1949-1956-Died in 65
Beverly
Born: Mirium Hill of Dallas, Texas
Restorative wrap around the handle after nearly dying of infection at the hands of a Ghoul she had been hunting in the bayou for weeks. killed in action, killed by a witch doctor in Baton Rouge 1956-1960
Bess
Born: Lucy Reyes of Nashville, Tennesey.
Razor blades embedded in the body. Done to add cutting power to glancing hits after fighting a Dimensional Shrike. Killed in action, Killed in a car crash on her way to visit a dying member of the chapter in Shreveport. 1960-1968
Barb
Born: Eden Noah of New York City, New York
Added stakes and knife blades to allow for stabbing after a run in with a Leshen. Retired-deceased 1968-1978
Batz
Born: Rachelle Duran of Las Vegas, Nevada
Added a "Crown of Thorns" to the weapon. A circle of nails three quarters up the body. She chose to do so to increase symbolic power. Retired-living 1978-1995
Beatrice
Born: █████████ █████ of ███████ ██████████
Silver barbed wire to dissuade from grabbing...or chewing on The Betty. Added after a Lycanthrope chewed through the center of the bat. Currently Active 1995 - current

Further Reading


Articles under The Black Betties



Cover image: by ivanmollov from adobe stock

Comments

Please Login in order to comment!
Journeyman RwbyMoon
Benjamin Andula
25 Feb, 2019 18:03

Extremely interesting reading! The fact that you only use text to describe an organization with sober and dark stories of family. Also, there is a mafia, dark and very mysterious aura that surrounds all this, and it makes me wonder what's behind the whole story of the Black Betties! The only major thing I may tip is to try up to make little-to-big-and-detailed articles on each Persona (or even a simple tooltip or excerpt), which would enlarge deeply all how works this system.

"Nothing great has been accomplished in the world without passion" -- G.W.F. Hegel
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
25 Feb, 2019 18:11

Expanding on each persona would force players to work with a person just because of its name. It is an rpg lol. I didn't want to give information on each individual persona for that reason I wanted players to be able to sit down and make their own additions to each Persona which would basically Define them how they wanted. As far as the hole behind the black Betty's thing that is actually listed in the history spoiler at the bottom of the article in the Footers it's optional but if you want to learn more it's there the mafia element was kind of intentional but the mafia is radically different the vet he's having much more personal connection to one another it's not so much about breaking the law or other they do end up on the wrong side of the law quite often

Redclaw123
Elias Redclaw
1 Mar, 2019 17:48

Wow now this article was dark. I really enjoyed reading it overall.   First of all, I get a really big paranoia RPG vibe from this article , especially with the early mention of troubleshooters. All around the article itself is nicely crafted and flows well. What seemed the best and most interesting thing about this article is the 24 personas thingy. It really adds a sense of originality to the article and reminds me of the Vindicare Assasins from warhammer 40k. I can’t spot any mistakes now since I’m so sleepy and it’s over 1 AM but all I can say is that it’s a fantastic article! Congratulations and keep up the great work!

3 Mar, 2019 20:57

I have to say seeing the continuation of the Black Betties as a full-blown organisation is good, especially with the soundtrack to help set the tone! I would say that you could instead of a table just use a list of all the possible names, maybe divide them in two rows too. As for the other table, I would say "modifications of the Black Betty" since maybe some don't know what the modification may be for. Also "Betty and Betty" in the history may better work as "the Betties".   Curiously, where did the 24 names come from? And why 24 and not say, 20 of the original 20 members? And how have these names been chosen as the "personas" throughout the history of the betties? Overal a great read! Loved it!

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
4 Mar, 2019 02:16

I play on moving the history to its own article and when i do ill change the heading cause I agree. The Louisiana chapter only had 24 members and really never had more that. When a second chapter was created and the leader at the time was notified, she made it so that no more than 24 members could be in it and those members must use the same names. Ot was an attempt to build legend around the names so that legend can be shared but it didn't really work until more modern times. These particular names are either common names from the 50s or achetypal names that have a rockabilly aesthetic. They were chosen throughout history as a display of that aesthetic. It's kind of an arbitrary number that doesn't have a specific reason. It just popped into my head and I used it XD thanks so much for the like and comment! Appreciated as always =]

28 Jun, 2020 18:24

Now I want to read a story about a lady who joins the black betties and afterward gets hunted down by her abusive ex, only for him to get trashed by her newfound bat-swinging skills.   Hmm... maybe a black betty could use a guitar as a bludgeoning weapon. That's on-theme, right?   It's interesting to me how the Black Betties might be one of the smaller organizations of the web; only 24 members per chapter and not a lot of those; but they're still the most famous because they spread their legends at every opportunity.   Because of the gift of tall-tales, would a Betty wielding a time-appropriate uzi be more effective than using a more refined modern AK-47?

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
28 Jun, 2020 22:00

Ehhhh. That's a lovely question. Oof. Hmmm. So, the first thing that comes to mind is their persona. If their legend calls for it, then yes. It would be better for her. The blend of historical accuracy + the legend would be powerful. MOST of the betties done have a weapon attached to their persona, more like a weapon type, but some do. Of course the leader weilds the betty, itself, adelaid weilds a family sword, (one she may or may not have bought at a local flea market), and cash is well known for his preferences of marksman rifles. Now having a specific weapon would be preferable, but its rare as there isn't a culture for it in the group. Definitely something ill have to think about. Thank you so much. sorry I've been quoet lately. I'm trying to get critiques done this week. I shall be hitting up your world soooon.

28 Jun, 2020 22:16

WOO! (:

28 Aug, 2022 10:01

I love this article.


Featured Articles in the Shadow War across Creation by Graylion

Roleplaying
Ruleplaying
Rollplaying
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
29 Aug, 2022 14:15

Thanks so much! Also thanks for the typo. I'll mop it up for sure.

Powered by World Anvil