The Infernal Crescent City
It is 1910. America, reunited nearly half a century earlier, now churns through the years of a second industrial revolution while still gripping tightly to its wild past. Locomotives have replaced wagon trains but automobiles still compete with horses and mules over the right of away through ever-sprawling streets of the modern municipality. Electricity now lights the homes and streets of burgeoning metropolises instead of gas, and replaces the noose as our means of execution. As immigrants pour into Ellis Island, they’ve taken to calling the nation a “Melting Pot,” even as former slaves struggle to climb out from under the American boot and Asian peoples are denied entry along the Western shores. Today Freud tells us that sex drives us all and that we are but mundane animals, while Jung hints at the light of the spirit and the darkness of the shadow. He nods to things that move with synchronicity.
There are those that agree with him. There are those who would prefer to silence him… for whatever reason. But there are things out there; things that go bump and things you will never see coming. Under all of this civilization, beneath the power lines and cobbled streets, there beats a dark and ancient heart. It is far from understood even by those who have seen it. It is an enigma behind the eyes of man and a tap-tap-tapping upon the window of his soul. But it is not alone.
From an office in downtown Cincinnati, an old cowboy-turned-lawman left the Pinkertons to start his own outfit: the McBride Detective Agency. It’s an unusual bunch; they deal with unusual things and they work for unusual people. It’s the sort of work that envelopes you and pulls you in until it it becomes you. It’s the sort of work that can get you killed. And it has. “The Agency,” as they call themselves, has lost a member. Jessie died in the woods, some great distance outside of town; torn to shreds by some manner of beast likely to frighten a grizzly. Chancy won’t talk about it but it’s on everybody’s mind. Still, he had to find a replacement and that replacement has arrived.
Theme: Supernatural Investigators in a darkened Edwardian Age (1910)
Mood: Somber and suspicious as a new recruit replaces a fallen comrade.
Character concepts: Characters are members of the McBride Detective Agency.
McBride recruits and hires those physically and mentally resilient individuals who show an interest in the supernatural. Such concepts might include veteran police or soldiers who have had brushes with death, those who have witnessed things they cannot explain, crackpots whose theories go unbleieved in the outside world, exhibitors of psychic ability, or members of the clergy or other religious institutions who have delved into forbidden subjects.
On Race and Sex in 1910 and New Orleans – While this is an imagined world, to better immerse yourselves in the era, understand that race and sex can affect your character’s life in ways perhaps unfamiliar (or too familiar) in the modern world. There are expectations and divides that go beyond the Jim Crow laws, which are very much in effect in the American South. Women seen as doing “men’s work,” such as detective work, might find themselves despised, not only by men but by women. It might go so far as shunning or bringing unwanted attention from police who think you immoral, and immorality is punishable. A woman seen as a clerk or secretary in a detective’s office, on the other hand, might find more acceptance. Ethnic races, one can argue especially blacks, are expected to stay with their own. Miscegenation, as the mixing of races is known, is a criminal act, though in New Orleans it might have been frowned upon just a bit less. They are also expected to stay below a certain economic level. A wealthy black man in the South is not going to find himself greeted kindly at the local Masonic Lodge, though he may be allowed relative comfort in areas of the city relegated for “negroes.” A Chinese man might wash a white man’s clothes or sell him produce at the French Market, but save for an extremely open soul, he’s not going to be invited over for Christmas. All of this is to say, an ethnic or female character might find themselves closed off from a large portion of society.
On the other hand, they will have a society of their own from which those same laws and bigotry keep out the unwanted and the untrusted. Secrets, cryptic modes of speech, underground markets unavailable to an “upstanding member of the Chamber of Commerce” could be at your disposal. A black character will have access to people and to truths that might otherwise be kept from a white character. Their Carnival experience among the Mardi Gras Indians will be vastly different. A female character will be able to enter areas where a man would find himself imprisoned for intruding. She might be able to assume a role or identity no man could pull off and get that much needed bit of evidence. So by all means, do not let the racial and sexual divides of the past keep you from playing any sort of character you want. Chancy is an exception to a great many rules and he will hire or have hired your character for their talents or perhaps just for the very reasons stated above. It’s whatever you decide.
Roles: The roles taken by characters determine how long they have been with “The Agency” and what route by which they gain their advantages in the supernatural world. The longer an agent has been working for Chancy, the more experience they will have to spend at character creation. Unfortunately, as they have spent more time delving into the maddening world of the supernatural, it also means they will take on more Flaws and Ability requirements to level them out. That is to say, they will be taking some Flaws automatically without the benefit of added Freebie Points and they will be required to purchase certain Abilities up to a certain level to represent their experience as investigators. When considering a role, understand that the rookie or “Greenhorn” is in many ways equal to the “Veteran” and above, as they are not yet burdened by the traumas, loss and vices that come from delving into this whirling storm of mystical insanity. Upon determining each players role, distribute the Character Role sheets as appropriate.
Limitations: There are four roles to be filled in this chronicle: Deputy, Warhorse, Veteran, and Greenhorn. There can be only 1 Deputy, 1Warhorse and 1 Greenhorn. Any and all other players must take the Veteran role. With fewer than four players, remove the Veteran role. With only two players (the “Duo” chronicle), there should be only the Deputy and the Greenhorn roles with adjustments made to the difficulty of the chronicle.
Blood Pools are available to the Deputy and Warhorse Roles to start. Blood Points are spent to increase Physical Attributes, representing a burst of Strength, Dexterity or Stamina that goes beyond human norms.
Veterans are availed small Blood Pools and a single sort of Psychic Dweomer, the latter limited to 2 dots. Dweomers are mystical, psychic or spiritual powers exhibited by the rare individual.
Psychic and True Faith Dweomers are available to the player who takes the role of “Greenhorn.” Two sorts of Dweomer are available to this character to start but such a purchase is costly and the character will lack in more —mundane tasks.
Cyberkinesis is restricted from play for any Role.
Sorcery and hedge magic are not available at the start but may be purchased with experience earned after character creation through game play.