Welcome back 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! For our second Castle Falkenstein character, I am going to look at the Consulting Detective concept! In the world of Castle Falkenstein, the Consulting Detective is an example archetype and you are honestly thinking about whether you could build Sherlock Holmes. For this character, as a contemporary of Holmes in New Europa, I wanted to make a somewhat tortured or flawed hero that could also provide an entry to the larger Castle Falkenstein world outside of New Europa. I’ll do my best to work through the character creation in the design notes but as a reminder, 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!
Anatole Clemenceau is an archetype I love – the Consulting Detective! In Victorian era stories, you will see a detective character like Sherlock Holmes who is not always a member of the constabulary engaged to solve mysteries. I actually used one of the inspirations for Holmes in the backstory for Anatole. Anatole has returned to Paris after missing the entire Prussian aggression because he was in the middle of the American Civil War with the Pinkerton Company after travelling East until he came around to North America.
For the dramatic personas 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. For Anatole’s Great Ability, I choose Perception which is a requirement for good Consulting Detectives. For his Good abilities, I choose Connections, Education, Charisma, and Fencing. This however isn’t quite right for me. You can choose additional Great or better Abilities, but you have to match them with additional Poor Abilities. I upgrade Anatole’s Connections to Great because I want him to have a person or friend in every corner of the world from his travels. His Good Education covers not only the book learning but his on the job work with the Pinkertons while his Charisma shows his usual method of noticing and asking questions to solve his cases. His fencing comes from his own French background but then I will add a Good Exchequer Ability – this is money and wealth. Anatole has done well for himself and is honestly a member of the nouveau riche in Paris. Sadly, though he is Poor in Tinkering being a throwback to an earlier time and Poor in Performance as his ability to lie, even for Art, is limited.
In creating a Dramatic Persona, you are also asked to think about a Virtue and Vice to help anchor your character. Truthfulness fits for the Virtue in Anatole’s character. It makes sense for his difficulty in Performance and for his job as a Consulting Detective to root out the truth behind the mysteries, though honesty is something different than the truth. His Vice is much more viceral than a reverse of his virtue – he dips too often to the glasses of champagne and absinthe in the Belle Epoque. It is a way he carefully covers his ongoing pain of a lost family using inebriation in the place of grief.
As a person, Anatole is sharp witted and charming. In many ways, Anatole has a bit of a cutting wit that can sometimes set people off the wrong way, perhaps another manifestation of his own wounds but is also at the same times a charming person that is kept around. You know this very type of person today who, with disarming snark can set people off but has a smile that seems to salve over all wrongs.His dislikes are far easier to find, as he is still haunted by the loss of his wife and child – prams in particular can set him off on a trip to visit the green faerie. No, absinthe not a literal green faerie but in Castle Falkenstein that is a fair question. His likes are about the focus that his job provides to extricate himself from the permanence of memory such as balls, sport, and large gatherings of people where he can lose himself in just observing humanity’s folly around him.
Dramatic Personas are centered around what they value and who they are aligned with, so now we turn the items and allegiances that help give Anatole some real depth. As an item to which he most clings, the baby blanket that his daughter had outgrown remains something he cherishes. Sadly, he doesn’t have a person he clings to – this facilitates his actions as a tragic hero and one who is flawed in that he isn’t always ready to continue. Similarly, he mostly values as a concept Loyalty, even above his own truthfulness, as it is what has shown him threw and where he has seen gentlemen lose their way. As far as allegiances and memberships, Anatole maintains strong ties to the North American continent from his time with the Pinkerton Detective Agency and his work with the United States Secret Service – President Lincoln was very impressed with him and by extension the Masonic Order secretly controlling the U.S. Upon his return to New Europa, he also ensured that he had ingratiated himself to the Explorer Society as well as joined a fashionable Club … that limited its clockwork appurtenances. As far as a Nemesis, the World Crime Congress has a particular dislike of Anatole as he has on multiple continents gotten in their way. This also gives him a reason to become close to Olga, who is also hunted by the same Congress, while working for Lord Lagoni. Anatole does have goals – his Romantic goal is to forget the pain of the loss of his wife for a widower is only sad so long as they cannot move forward. His Social Goals now focus on becoming much more of a true landed noble under Napoleon III taking as his exemplar Chevalier de Fronsac a century past. Professionally, his goal is simple – to retire as a gentleman of leisure and take the detecting only for when it strikes his fancy.
His greatest regret is actually having had a family – it isn’t the loss, but that he let himself be able to be so pained that he regrets for having loved and lost is far superior to having never loved at all once you know that difference. His proudest moment is professional – solving the mystery of the Brass Bishop and earning the favor of eastern Dragon Lords can not be undersold.
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. Anatole will provide a look at a more classic Castle Falkenstein Diary beginning, not unlike the one found in the original book as an example.
In the Year of Our Lord, One Thousand Eight hundred and Seventy, the Eighth of January, I, Anatole Clemenceau, do recount the life of service and history that came in ways unexpected for this diary and memoir.
As a child growing up in France in the 1830s and 1840s, few things were straightforward. It was still recently that Napoleon I had faced his defeat and not yet had Napoleon III found his way to the Second Empire’s greatest strengths. My parents had but one child, and I would never be enough to keep the farm going for long. It was a simple and humble life of produce and livestock for my parents, but one I saw through early in my youth. Blessed by God with an insight and clarity of mind, I saw the future in Paris and the great cities of New Europa. My loving parents agreed and worked themselves to death to finance my education. As I would tell Monsieur Dupin in my apprenticeship, they loved me like parents are intended to love their children and regretted only that they had but one child. I shall return to my journeys later, but to set this image to your head, allow me to digress.
* * *
I must be honest in that my clear eyes and developed intellect are my greatest asset [Great Perception]. I am also well endowed with a great number of friends, acquaintances, and contacts through the globe both in New Europa’s finer circles as well as the continents of Asia and North America [Great Connections]. My training both in the formal halls of the ecole and in the field [Good Education] have helped me maintain a comfortable standard of living even through these difficult years [Good Exchequer]. That is not to say that I am a dandy, for I can handle myself well in a duel [Good Fencing] and have a certain pleasant mien enough to ensure I am invited to the best of social events [Good Charisma]. Sadly, though, these events seem rife with songs and poems for which I have no talent [Poor Performance]. I cannot quite see the way of the arts that are less than a truthful look at the world. Similarly, these newfangled contraptions confound me [Poor Tinkering]. I shall remain observant with a clear eye, a pad of paper, and a pencil over these clockwork abominations.
Perhaps it is apparent that I strive for and am known for my Truthfulness. It is a Virtue that signals good breeding but also that provides a structure and knowable form to the world. Sadly, I must admit to being a bit overly fond of Champagne and Absinthe that so readily flows these days. It seems easier, and perhaps an ill advised Vice, but they offer respite from my own mind when I cannot have it stop turning. When it is the faces of Claudine and Lili that I see. Yes, I do tend to hold tightly to Lili’s Baby Blanket. It was what kept her safe and only when she no longer had it did tragedy befall her and her mother. I have no one else near as close – my parents, my wife, my child have all passed before me. I shall make the most of what time I have here on this Earth in their stead. In that vein I do value Loyalty. The money, clockwork, and magick that fuels this Age can distort and subvert those who are true. Loyalty is what will bind us as men and gentlemen, or men and dragons, or men and fae. One’s word should be more than one’s bond.
* * *
I took this opportunity to depart the Asiatic lands and come to North America. As I approached San Francisco, I saw that the still newly formed Bear Flag Empire was celebrating Emperor Norton I. It was a heady time to be in the Empire and far superior to the war in the United States. I could not, however, stay away, and I proceeded across the 20 Nations Confederation to the United States and took up with the Pinkerton Detective Agency in Chicago. I had amassed no small amount of funds, but I found that regular employ or at least time spent working as a detective kept my mind occupied. I honed skills with these brash Americans working as a detective for the Pinkertons. The railroad barons there are very much like the Lords of Steam in England – constantly looking for new profit and working to find ways to enhance what they already have. At the conclusion of the War between the States, my reputation as a world traveler and detective had even reached the ears of Pres. Abraham Lincoln. I helped the United States Secret Service start, and while I cannot fathom their unhealthy obsession with trinkets and gadgets, I was honored to help stop the Masterminds who seemed to be coming from the woodwork.
Read the entire Diary entry here for the full character
Castle Falkenstein and Cygne Dore’ Cabaret Overview Here