Welcome to the Card Catalog series on Castle Falkenstein! If you have not read the round up of both the system and the setting herre on Seize the GM, please take a look here! With that out of the way, I will turn my attention to the write up of the first of our series of cabaret goers who end up embroiled in high and low adventures in New Europa! While it took a good bit of words to work through the system in the overview, there are very few “crunchy” choices to make regarding character design, so the Design Notes will be more narrative and the Character Notes will be treated as excerpts from the Dramatic Persona Diary in proper Falkenstein form!
Olga Petrovna is a character who elides between two worlds in my design. She is first a footpad or common sneaky thief, but also finds a way into high society events and the Tout-Paris life in Belle Epoque Paris. She has claimed to possibly be the descendant of the first Tsarina of Peter the Great and few have challenged her claims, especially when unsavory characters have occasionally tried to snuff her out.
For the dramatic persona’s Abilities, you select one to be Great, four to be Good, and one to be Poor. The rest are Average. You can create new Abilities besides those listed in the book, but for the Card Catalog purposes, I will stick with the examples listed. Olga’s Great Ability is Stealth and her ability to be a sly and sneaky young woman in her footpad ways. As a way to assist in that, I will also provide a Good Athletics Ability. When I look at the other side of her story, which may or may not be true, Good Social Graces and Charisma go a long way to convincing the upper crust of her story. Finally, Good Marksmanship is something that perhaps many won’t expect from her. That said, she has little understanding of the human body when not in motion and her Physician Ability is Poor – do not ask her to bind a wound.
In creating a Dramatic Persona, you are also asked to think about a Virtue and Vice to help anchor your character. Olga is very much a Curious person with the virtue of wanting to know answers, but this also plays into the darker vice as she sometimes has trouble keeping her hands off of other peoples goods as a Footpad. Her personality is best described as Guarded and Secretive – her time in the Russian Empire between the secret police, the Leshye, and the World Crime Congress have left her somewhat reserved. In that vein, she likes the bright lights of Paris and the energy of a city that is alive at all hours and likes the way in which she and her friends may even criticize the Napoleon without an immediate response. She finds quite a bit dreary, though, in having to look at so many bricks and not enough trees. She likes the food for sure but does dislike the hot rains compared to a good proper snow.
Dramatic Personas are centered around what they value and who they are aligned with, so the next section of character generation focuses on that. For Olga, I am going to have her cling to a locket from her grandmother that could prove or disprove her claims about being a distant relative of the Romanovs. From her experiences and her avocation, she values Freedom greatly having had some truck with the World Anarchist Brotherhood and seeing the repression in the Russian Empire. Finally, the person she cares the most for is her cousin, Nikolai, who is as far as she knows in Poland. Every month or so, they exchange coded post recounting their adventures. Every Dramatic Persona has a Nemesis because it is very Victorian to do in the world, and so when I look to Olga’s history I am actually going to make her life interesting by splitting it between two groups – The World Crime Congress and the Russian Secret Police. The former because of her time as a Footpad in their employ and when she left their kind embrace after they got her out of Russia they took it personally and the latter because of her claims to be a Romanov which would throw off the lines of success for the current Emperor.
For her goals, Professionally she wants to show up the World Crime Congress by revealing their lines of communication while Socially she seeks to be accepted fully rather than conditionally by the Nouveau Riche of Paris. Finally, her Romantic Goal is to find a husband who can dance the same dance she does, between light and dark, as thus far none have been able to flit between the two.
Her greatest regret is being separated from Nikolai in leaving Russia which still worries her but it comes with her proudest moment of being one who escaped from the Russian Empire’s Iron Grasp.
While some of this is certainly written in a good narrative style, check below for the abridged diary version, and click the link for the PDF of the full diary sheet. For Olga, I’m going to present it as a letter to Nikolai rather than a straight diary for the sake of variety.
Dearest Nikolai, I do hope that the newest year finds you well. I know that our time apart has been difficult even though we have managed to forge a path outside of Russian. My time in paris has certainly been eventful and I am grateful for my soft steps and light touch [Great Stealth]. The architecture here in Paris can be challenging but our time spent running in the forest has helped me navigate the streets here [Good Athletics]. It is good that we learned at our Nona’s foot because the manners here are strong, even amongst the newest members of the Tout Paris Set [Good Social Graces] but they have taken a fancy to my winning ways [Good Charisma]. While I have kept my practice up with the Pistol [Good Marksmanship], I am still at a loss for how to stop the bleeding when I hit my target [Poor Physician]. Show me sometime how you understand the body so well.
* * *
Despite my Guarded and Secretive ways here in Paris, I have had many compliments on how I present myself. I certainly style myself a lady in exile from the Russian Empire and the conical crinoline dresses with embroidery show not only my place here in Paris but the slight flair from which we know the Russian Court prefers. The strong features of our family are similarly striking ehre where my dark hair and cheekbones are the toast of many at the Cabaret. I do wish that you could be here dear Nikolai as you mean the world to me. Along with Mother’s locket, you are my last thread to our family. While Freedom has given me a great deal, I do worry constantly that I shall not see you again in this life. I do worry that the Russian winters we left behind will instead of freezing our bones freeze our words.
* * *
Before you write back to ask, I have not found a husband yet. I would dearly love longtime companionship and the comfort that we saw our parents have but I have yet to find a man who can keep pace with me. I do feel that this could provide more of an acceptance here in Paris. While it is certainly a cosmopolitan city, I think a husband may take me further than on my own. Finally, keep yourself safe. I have every intention of letting the World Crime Congress learn that they cannot prey on our family. I love you dear brother. Stay safe and do find your way to Paris soon.
Read the entire Letter here for the full character
Castle Falkenstein and Cygne Dore’ Cabaret Overview Here