Friday, August 3, 2012
A Devil in Jersey: Cast of Characters
Last year, I ran a Colonial Gothic campaign. Colonial Gothic is a set of RPG horror/supernatural rules set against the background of the American Revolution. I gave it the narrative treatment similar to that I used with Roxy Smothers. I'll be posting the story periodically over the next few weeks/months.
This particular campaign introduced a new set of characters involved in a search for the Jersey Devil during the midst of the Trenton Campaign. Although the game included a lot of fantasy and supernatural elements, there was very little "weird science" as in the Benk Franklin's War games. As in most of my games, Ruritanian royals play a significant part.
The Reverend Samuel Longwynde of Lancaster County - Born in Massachusetts in 1733, he studied divinity at the Sandburns Theological College in Arkham, and was ordained a minister in the Presbyterian Church in 1754. Unable to acquire a “situation,” he served as a chaplain to the Massachusetts provincial troops in the French and Indian War. Arriving in Philadelphia prior to participating in the Braddock campaign, he met Eliza Grier, the only daughter of a wealthy landowner, Judson Grier, from Lancaster County and they were married in 1756. After the surrender of Montreal (1759) he obtained a position as a chaplain for the 42nd Highland Regiment. His last campaign was during Pontiac’s Rebellion in 1763, fighting for his life at the Battle of Bushy Run.
After the war, he was named a minister to a small church in the Cumberland Valley. He and Eliza had three children, David, born in 1757, Jonathan, born in 1761 and an adopted daughter, Rebecca, a Conestoga (Susquehannock) Indian, who was born around 1760, and who they rescued from the Paxton Boys Massacre in 1763. Eliza died suddenly and mysteriously in 1770, the victim of a witch’s attack. Samuel discovered that it was the work of the same witch who had instigated the Massacre. Using half-remembered knowledge from his college days, he destroyed the witch. Since then, Samuel has studied the occult and has fought viciously to destroy the power of evil in America. He has become a member of the American Philosophical Society as a result and has become friends with Benjamin Franklin. He is quite well off, having inherited the Grier fortune when Judson died in 1771 and he lives on the family estate near Lancaster when not fighting the wicked.
He is indifferent to Independence and believes the war is a distraction from the real struggle against Evil. Although he strongly opposed it, his son David joined the Continental Army and is in Canada. His son Jonathan had been studying at the College of Philadelphia but recently returned home due to the approach of the war. His daughter Rebecca has far too many suitors.
Moll Daggett (Margaret Mary O’ Hanlan), Widow - Born in County Donegal in 1753, she was abandoned at birth and raised in an orphanage run by the Sisters of Perpetual Repetence. At age 16, she rebelled against their plan for her to enter the convent and was caught in flagrante with the young gardener. She ran away, ultimately to London where she entered into a life of crime. After two years, she took up with a young sea captain named James Daggett and became his mistress, joining him in his life as a smuggler and sometimes pirate. In 1774, things having gotten too hot in British waters, they sailed for the Americas. However, instead of the West Indies, they plied their trade along the coasts of the Carolinas before settling in that notorious pirate haven, Delaware. Although having no love for the crown, Daggett refused to join the Patriot cause, even as a privateer. Unfortunately, this decision coincided with the establishment of the Pennsylvania Navy. Shortly after the declaration of independence, in a demonstration of sovereignty, the Pa. Navy caught up with Dagget’s ship, the Bonnie Charlie, which was sunk and Dagget is believed to have gone down with the ship. Moll was captured in the ship’s long boat with some of the crew. All except her were sentenced to be hung. She claimed a false pregnancy and so was spared and her sentence commuted to seven years indentured service. This was done at the behest of a Lancaster County minister, the Reverend Longwynde who agreed to take her into his service. She has been acting as cook and maid of all works in the Longwynde household for nearly six months when a letter arrived summoning the Reverend to Philadelphia.
Joachim Zizendorf, Manservant, Formerly Corporal, the Von Seydlitz Hussars - Born in village in East Prussia in 1740, he was conscripted into the Prussian Army at the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War in 1756. He was posted to the cavalry. After distinguishing himself at the Battle of Zorndorf, he became the orderly of General von Seydlitz, the Prussian Army cavalry commander. This did not gain him a spot behind the lines and he served in every major battle of the war. He continued to serve the general after the war. When von Seydlitz died in 1773, he was left to fend for himself, drifting from one job as butler or manservant to another. He came to America in 1775 hoping to find a place in the growing German community there. The outbreak of the War of Independence has not helped his prospects but he has just taken work with a minister in Pennsylvania.
Gabriel Fenniman, Sergeant, 1st Continental Regiment of Foot (Pennsylvania Rifles) - Born on the Pennsylvania frontier near Ft. Bedford in 1745, he grew up during the French and Indian War, losing most his family in that conflict by the time he was 12. After the war, he and his father became trappers in the Ohio country, even traveling to the Great Lakes area. When they returned to Pennsylvania, his father became involved in the Black Boys anti-British movement and Gabriel participated in the attack on Ft. Bedford in 1769. His father was later hung by Crown officials on trumped up charges. When the war broke out in 1775, Gabriel was among the first to enlist in the Pennsylvania Rifles. He served in the Invasion of Canada under Benedict Arnold. During the disastrous attack on Quebec at the end of 1775, he was severely wounded saving the life of a young Lieutenant, David Longwynde. In gratitude, the Lieutenant arranged to transport Gabriel to the Longwynde estate in Lancaster County. There he was cared for by the Rev. Longwynde and his household; otherwise, he would have died. Nearly recovered, he hopes to rejoin his regiment.
Doctor Winston McCleane of Trenton, New Jersey - McCleane was born in 1732 in Lowland Scotland. He studied medicine and natural philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. He came to America as a regimental surgeon for the 42nd Highland Regiment during the French and Indian War. After the war, he settled in Trenton, New Jersey. He became a member of the American Philosophical Society at the behest of his friend the Reverend Longwynde.
He has developed an interest in spring mechanisms and believes that they are key to developing innumerable mechanical devices that will better mankind. So far all he has invented are ones that fling sharp objects about.
Recently, he has discovered that a series of murders has occurred in the village of Crosswicks, a small village he occasionally visits to treat patients. It is said the killings were done by an unnatural beast from the Pine Barrens. He has written to Benjamin Franklin seeking assistance in investigating the killings.
Mde. Adele de Bauffremont (nee de Chalunac) - Born in 1749 to an old but somewhat impoverished aristocratic family in Provence, she was raised in the free spirit of that Mediterranean society, including exposure to ancient Cathar mysticism. As a result, Adele became a student of magic and alchemy at a young age.
Hoping to find a suitable husband, she was introduced into the Royal Court and the salons of the Parisian philosophes. Her enjoyment of this life style was cut short in 1769 by her marriage to the Comte de Bauffremont, a brutal, drunken lout who horribly abused Adele and kept her as a virtual prisoner.
Adele attempted to escape this loveless marriage by murdering her husband. Unfortunately, her plans fell awry when the poison administered to her husband was expelled because they did not mix well with the huge amount of brandy he had drunk. His illness was suspicious and he attempted to have his wife charged with attempted murder.
Hoping to avoid a scandal, Court officials arranged for the Comte to be posted to India and his wife sent on an indefinite tour of Europe. This worked far better for Adele than she could have hoped since she was free to travel and study at her leisure, supported by a secret royal stipend. But there was a quid pro quo. She was approached by French agents who informed her that her stipend would continue only if she worked for them as a spy and agent provocateur. It was arranged that she would travel to America and report on the rebellion there, aiding in any effort to hurt the hated English.
In that capacity, she made the acquaintance of the famous alchemist, Benjamin Franklin, a member of the Continental Congress. She learned much from the old sorcerer but who would have thought he was so… energetic!
Prince Leopold Ruprikt Ladislas Radziwill, Duke of Leutonia - Born in 1760, Prince Leopold is the third son of King Radoslav Ladislav of Ruritania and Queen Ludvika (formerly Graffein von Schnitterboch). As a younger son, his life was dedicated to serving in the Royal Army. He was present at his first battle at the age of 7 and later participated in the endless series of wars that ravaged Ruritania as the kingdom contended against the Turks, Austrians, Graustarkians, and Transbalkanians. An unexpected peace broke out in 1774, so Leopold was sent on a Grand Tour of western Europe under the tutelage of his tutor and equerry, Valery Zagloba. It was while he was in Paris that he first heard of the rebellion in American. With his dim brain half-filled with vague ideas he heard in the Paris salons, he determined to go to America to help fight in the cause of “Fweedom and Wibewty!” (He is afflicted with the hereditary speech impediment of the Radziwills, the “Ruritanian Lilt”)
Hoping to court the favor of a European monarch, the Continental Congress gave him an honorary rank of Brigadier General (with no pay or real command) and sent him off to join Washington’s army.
He arrived just in time for the Battle of New York. As the American army broke, Leopold attempted to stem the British tide by rallying some of the troops and leading them in a suicidal charge. However, after an initial success, he was knocked unconscious (“By a cowawdwy Bwitish cannonbaww, no doubt!”) and was taken prisoner. He was released on his parole, a promise not to take arms against the British until he is properly exchanged. He has returned to Philadelphia to await events with Zagloba and his bodyguard, Postman Yap.
Valeri Zagloba, Equerry to His Royal Highness, the Duke of Leutonia - Born in Zenda, Ruritania, in 1738, to a notoriously hedonistic Polish-Ruritanian noble house. Being forced to flee from his debtors in 1760, he tried his hands at being a mercenary during the Seven Years’ War. First, he obtained a commission in the Austrian army but shortly after deserted with the regimental treasury. When his funds ran out due to gambling and carousing, he served briefly in the Saxon army before absconding with the regimental treasury. In the following two years, he served in no less than 11 different armies, but never once being involved in any of the fighting. When peace broke out in 1763, he traveled through Western Europe claiming to be a writer and phreneologist. He lived for a time in Paris then moved, ahead of his creditors; to London where he worked for a time as a Grub Street hack. During this period, he met James Boswell and through him became an acquaintance of Samuel Johnson, although he never, as later claimed, accompanied them on their famous journey to Scotland.
By 1775, down on his luck, he found himself in Paris, where he wheedled his way to serving as tutor to Prince Leopold, then on the Grand Tour. Unfortunately for Zagloba, Leopold impetuously left Europe to join the Revolution in America.
Granted an honorary major’s commission in the Continental Army as Leopold’s aide, Zagloba saved Leopold’s life at the Battle of Long Island by knocking him unconscious when the young fool tried to lead a desperate charge against the British. Captured, the pair was later paroled and has arrived in Philadelphia, to await being formally exchanged. Zagloba is all in favor of returning to Europe as soon as possible.
Akmed Yap, Postman First Class, Royal Ruritanian Postal Service - Yap was born in 1752 into the Muslemized Avar tribe, last remnants of a nomadic people that had swept into Europe in the Dark Ages. The Avars dwell in the lawless steppe region of Ruritania known as the Trans-Ister, granted land and privileges in exchange for serving the Crown. After serving for several years in the Royal Army during which time he was decorated for bravery, he was recruited into the Royal Postal Service. One of the few functional bureaucracies in Ruritania, the Postal Service also serves as the country’s secret service. Yap has been assigned to protect the third son of the King, Prince Leopold on his Grand Tour of Europe. Unfortunately, the dim prince became distracted and ran off to join the Rebels in America. Yap was forced to follow and has helped the Prince’s equerry, Zagloba, save the Prince from his own folly on a number of occasions.