Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Leaving Londinium (Part Two)

Let me introduce you to The Devil's Dozen.

That's the name the enlisted men of the Royal Magisterial Corps have for a circle of elite agents that act as Gull's field agents investigating supernatural threats. For the most part, they are player characters. (In the first episode of Season 3, I revealed the names of a few more of the Dozen who the players hadn't met -- including Victorian notables like gentleman adventurer Phileas Fogg, real (?) court psychic Robert James Lees, a shadowy character named Spring-Heeled Jack, and Alice Liddell -- once the charming young heroine of certain children's books, now a dangerous madwoman who has christened herself The Red Queen. There are others, but I digress...)

Miss Lucy Pelham, The Slayer. Lucy is -- there's no polite way to put this -- not a nice person. Prickly is a word that often seems to come up around her. We can forgive her lack of social graces, as Lucy has been groomed from an early age to serve at the whims of fate (and the Watchers Council). Now she has been pressed into service by Gull, who treats her even more like a piece of property than her former masters.

Megan was interested in playing a character that was at once both physically powerful and socially vulnerable. She was inspired by early suffragists who wore a symbol that marked them as "property of the English Empire", and this became a metaphor for Lucy's place in the world and also that of most of her teammates. They were designed to be heroes that existed in the margins, tools of a decadent and crumbling age. Unlike most of her fellows, however, Lucy has no intentions of accepting her lot in life.

Megan has described her as a "caged animal". I think of her as having a little of Johnny Rotten in her DNA. (There was always a bit of "punk" in this game.)

Dr. Bernard Gladwell, Former Ectomancer, Presently Ectoplasm. Bernard is a rebel among the Watchers, an expert on the occult who was transformed by his time spent in Africa on a quest for ancient lore about the Slayer's origins. He is a magician who specializes in magic focused on ghosts, and his life's work was a spell that summons a previous incarnation of the Slayer to serve as an advisor to the current wearer of the mantle. (Like many things Bernard did, this was done with good intentions but infuriated Lucy, who saw it as an indication that her servitude would continue even beyond her own death.)

Bernard returned from Africa profoundly changed by his experiences, and wanting to change his superiors' attitudes toward women in particular and other races in general. He was seen as a dangerous maverick -- he had "gone native" on his journey, they said, and they pushed him to the margins of the Watchers. Of course, Gull had no interests in Gladwell's political beliefs, nor did he care that the Watchers considered him a heretic. He saw a capable magician that could be used for Queen and country.

Throughout most of the game, Bernard has been tormented by the fact that he sees ghosts everywhere he goes, especially in the Tower of London itself. He has regularly turned to opium to keep an even keel, something else that Gull didn't care about -- so long as Gladwell was able to fulfill his duties.

And, oh yes, at the end of last season he was abruptly turned to dust through a series of unlikely yet inevitable events. This season, he's a ghost. More on that to come.

Tomorrow, I will introduce you to three more members of the main cast.

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