The Glass-Maker and the Rat Detective

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The Glass-Maker

Career: Archivist
Hobbies: Glass-making, baseball
Favorite Foods: Fresh bagels, strawberry cheesecake, red tea
Blood Type: AB
Animal: Dog
Age: Late 30s.

Step 1: Choose Your Name

Good morning, Professor! How are you doing today?

You may be doing well. A long time ago, you were a much angrier young man. You made a dragon out of glass, and sent it to destroy the world (along with a woman – or man – that you loved). Fortunately, it broke instead. Probably, your heart wasn’t really in it, and you’ve felt pretty bad about that ever since. This isn’t the story of that dragon, though. It’s the story of you. How you are trying to make amends, and how that has led you to help other people, so that they can avoid being in a place as dark as yours. You’ve opened an Archive, to gather information and to be a place that people can be safe, and in that Archive you have a little office, and the plaque on that office reads…

• Hideo, the Glass-Maker?
• or is it actually Hideko, also a Glass-Maker?
• Or someone else entirely?

For the purposes of this story, we’re going to assume that you are, in fact, Hideo. If you are not, you may need to make a few corrections to the text.

Step 2: Choose Your Family And Craft

You were born to one of the shrine families of Fortitude, one that was intricately connected to craftsmanship and to taking the dangerous dust of the Outside and making it… well, not safe, exactly, but safer. Beautiful. Normally, the family in question were the Hayashi, who crafted beautiful glass sculptures that were very slightly magical, and whose gifts you stopped using for many years after the ‘dragon’ incident.

But it might be that our information is wrong. It’s possible that you actually were born in…

• The Watanabe shrine family, who mix Outside dust into their sugars and make delicious candy. You tried to craft a dish so delicious that it would break the world, but your candy-floss dragon dissolved in the rains as it rose towards Heaven, and you stopped making candy for a very long time.
• The Vasili shrine family, who bind their children to potent elements. You were bound to steam and electricity, and built a massive robotic dragon to burn the world to ash, but its components rusted and its boiler burst, and you stopped building your wonderful machines.
• It’s just faintly possible that you’re from the Sosunov shrine family, and you read the dreams of your friends and crafted a terrible nightmare that would force the forces dreaming existence to wake in a cold sweat, but that nightmare dissolved in the light of day, and you slept many dreamless years before coming back to your art.
• It’s not very likely that you’re one of the Titov family, although if you were it would certainly explain why you tried to break everything rather than stay there. Seriously, though, you’re probably not so departed as you’d like in this case.
• Or maybe you’re from a different shrine family altogether? One that we don’t know much, if anything, about? If so, you’ll have to tell us what they made, and how you turned that knowledge against the world, and how it broke.

Step 3: Choose Your Favorite Scenes

So, what does it actually mean to be Hideo Hayashi (or whomever), on a daily basis? What are you most often doing? Are you…

• Out buying new books for the Archive?
• Hanging out in the tea shops of Fortitude, discussing philosophy?
• Tentatively practicing your crafts?
• Playing baseball with the Archive kids?
• Suffering terrible dreams?
• Working on a new research project?
• Hanging out on the Archive roof at night, watching the stars?
• Sharing stories with friends or strangers?
• Helping people with their daily chores and challenges?
• Offering unwanted advice?
• Cleaning up your Archive?
• Just spending some time quietly reading alone?

Pick two or three scenes that you think are of particular importance to you. These are good things to fall back on when you aren’t sure what you’re doing in a given scene.

Step 4: Review Your Goals

You’ve had a hard life, and while you focus on the good times, the hard times do tend to crop up. When left to your own devices, you tend to get wrapped up in your scholarly nature, alternating between going out teaching, and retreating into the Archive to fix things up and get things ready.

On the other hand, when things crop up, they have a way of pulling you out of your Archive and into other people’s problems. And that’s basically where you’re at right now.

Quest 1: You’re torn between your nature as a Scholar, in which you go out in search of knowledge and mysteries, and your calling as an Archivist, in which you catalogue and structure the information that you’ve learned. By shifting between the two, you manage your knowledge and pace yourself.

Quest 2: You can’t be a scholar full-time! You’re also concerned with the Archive Children, and you tend to keep an eye out for newly-arrived children in Fortitude and Old Molder who don’t have anyone to take care of them. A new child in this vein has just arrived in Town, but they may prove to be more trouble than you’d anticipated.

Quest 3: And, of course, there’s the Archive itself. You’re working to improve its libraries, its sculptures, and its structure. When you’re done, the Archive will be just that little bit safer, that little bit healthier, and more able to protect the people that you care about.

… unless you think the Archive’s actually just fine the way it is. Maybe, instead, you’re worried about…

• Restoring your glass-making skills to their former levels?
• Coaching the Archive baseball team?
• Restoring the Old Molder orphanage, which mysteriously burned down a few years ago?

Step 5: Choose Your Connections

Connections are a rough yardstick of how well you understand, get along with, and deal with someone. It can also measure how well you are adapted to living in a place. You always have a couple of these Connections:

• The Archive Kids (2). You take care of these kids, and you’ve gotten to know them well.
• The Prince of Thorns (1). You understand the nature of nightmares.

You can discard these Connections later if they don’t seem to work. You can also talk with the other PCs; if it seems like you and another PC should be friends, you can both start with a Level 1 Connection to one another.

Step 6: Review Your Powers

As a renowned archivist and glass-maker, you have a few powers worth noting. Of course, you can construct slightly-magical works of glass (or whatever else), but you’re not as good at that as you used to be. More directly…

• Your Archive is a vast and magical building. It helps people find what they need, and encourages connections between them. You can also create tools and guides out of the fabric of your library, usually by imbuing books with the literal power to teach the people who read them, and you can reshape the Archive itself when you need to.

• The glass dragon that you made exploded and filled your body with glass dust; you can release that dust to help people reach for their dreams, or use it to forge a connection to people that you particularly care for.

• You can provide advice and protection to people that you care about, shielding them with your own mind or lending them your skills and knowledge. You also have extra Will to help them, and know when they’re in danger.

Step 7: Props

Before you start playing, you’re going to want to…

  • Copy or print out a character sheet, to remind you of your powers and skills.
  • Print up copies of your quests, so that you can track them, and get your Scholar/Archivist card ready for flipping.

You may also need:

  • Eight Will tokens (I recommend white poker chips!)
  • Three Miraculous Will tokens, of a similar but not identical colour to your Will tokens (Blue is nice.)
  • Five (or more) MP tokens, of a different colour from your other tokens. (I generally use red.)
  • To look around the table to identify the other PCs. Then practice play by:
    • Saying ‘Aww’ and patting the Rat Detective on the shoulder.
    • Snapping your fingers to beckon over the Prince of Thorns to serve you.
    • Shivering in terror at the actions of the Serpent of Memory.
    • Sighing and rubbing your forehead over the Prodigal Sun.
    • Giving a big thumbs-up to the Swan Child for bearing up under strain.
    • Shaking your fist at the machinations of the Humble Lie and shouting her name.
    • Just staring in shock and horror or disgust at the Wrongful King.

The Great Rat Detective

Career: Detective (Retired)
Hobbies: Stargazing, Reading
Favorite Foods: Grilled cheese sandwiches, hot cocoa
Blood Type: A
Animal: Rat
Age: 13 (which works out to roughly 65 years old in human terms).

Step 1: Choose Your Name

Good afternoon, detective. Pleasure to make your acquaintance.

And sorry to bother you. I know that you’re retired, these days. You’ve had years of exciting investigative adventures, which are minor legends among the rats – the case of the Nightmare Mob, the case of the Fallen Arches, the case of the Forgotten Diamond. Wonderful stories! You’re happy enough to be retired, though. A lifetime of bumps, bruises, annoyed people in high places and tussles with the Mysteries has left you just about ready to relax in your garden and take a few days off. But we need your help, detective. We need you for one last case.

How should we address you, detective?

  • Alexandra Profokiev?
  • Or is it Alexander Profokiev?
  • Or, perhaps, it’s actually Alexandra Takahiro, and you’re connected to rat nobility?
  • Or, is it just Alexandra, and you don’t hold with family names. Smacks of uppityness.

We’re going to follow our notes and presume that you are, indeed, Alexandra Profokiev.

Step 2: Choose Your History

You were a private detective – one of the very best, in fact. And not the boring sort of Fortitude detective who finds lost cats or looks for evidence that someone is stealing from the family till. You were a detective of the most hard-boiled variety, with a fedora specially cut to show your ears, a long trench-coat that brushed the ground of the warrens, and a ready quip whenever you were about to go into battle against dark bruisers, vampire overlords, or the Mysteries themselves. You investigated, you learned, and you retired back to your home to grow vegetables and watch the stars.

I mean, probably. It’s possible that some of the details are wrong. Were you actually…

  • A police detective? Ten years on the beat in Horizon and Arcadia, and you always caught the criminal. They gave you the weird cases – the Tenth Floor Strangler, the Seventh Serpent, the Paste Diamond Thief – and you always delivered the goods. If this is the case, you’ll want to replace your “Noir Detective” skill with “Grizzled Cop”, and your assistant is probably some fresh-faced kid interested in getting a badge of their own.
  • Or maybe you were one of the Rat monarchy’s spymasters? A master of disguise, you uncovered the secret plots of Guy Jefferson, the Revolutionary Warrior, fought off the deadly machinations of Cardinal St. Lawrence, and saved your king from the dread Mystery known as the Hollyblood. But your king eventually died, and his replacement had no room for an old rat like you, so you’ve retired. You’ll want to swap out “Noir Detective” for “Spymaster”, and your assistant is probably one of your former spies, who’s keeping an eye on you in your supposed dotage.
  • It is faintly possible that you were a gentlewoman thief. Rob from the rich, give to the poor, that was your motto, and you stood against corrupt powers. You once stole the nose right off Lord Entropy’s face! (You had to give it back, though. There was an… incident). You’ve retired to a life of comfort and ease, but your finely honed opposition to corruption and greed may yet pull you back into play. You’ll be removing that “Noir Detective” skill, and simply replacing it with “Thief”, and your assistant is someone enamoured of your legacy.

But probably – you’re a detective!

Step 3: Choose Your Favorite Scenes

But how does a detective spend their days? Are you generally…

  • Sitting in the observatory on top of your small cottage, watching the stars?
  • Walking the streets, observing what’s changed since you last passed by?
  • Angrily solving a crossword puzzle in record time?
  • Drinking heavily at a local pub, with friends?
  • … or alone?
  • Writing your memoirs, while sitting on (or under) a park bench?
  • Working on a complex diagram showing the inter-relation of seemingly unrelated things?
  • Going for a jog to keep the old muscles fit?
  • Visiting an old friend in a nearby neighborhood?
  • Keeping an eye on some children for a friend?
  • Ominously watching someone you don’t trust?
  • Very, very quietly petting a cat? (You can’t help it! They’re kind of cute!)
  • Avoiding creditors?

Pick two or three things that seem particularly fitting. If you’re ever at a loss for what to be doing, you can generally say that you’re doing one of them.

Step 4: Review Your Goals

Your goals, ideally, should be to live a well-earned, very quiet life, occasionally complain about things not being as good as they used to be when you were younger (you know, five years ago), and have a good drink at the pub now and then.

Sadly, life is not ideal.

Quest 1: You have a lifetime of knowledge, and hard-won experience, and you frankly can’t believe that kids these days don’t understand these things! You’ve got to keep an eye out for when people are doing something wrong, or just not quite right enough, and then you can step in and show them the right way of doing things. You show people the right way of doing things a lot.

Quest 2: You are really bad at retiring from your work. Things keep cropping up to draw you back in, and you are starting to take the bait. There’s an old case you never quite cracked, and recent events are suggesting that maybe – just maybe – you can crack it this time. There’s a new case that just seems really interesting. Maybe you aren’t so old and washed up after all.

Quest 3: And then there’s the Mysteries. The rats are telling you that something is riling them up lately – Typhon, Hedge the Cat, even old Hollyblood. Probably this is something that you need to look into. Probably it is going to turn out to be a pretty big deal.

Step 5: Choose Your Connections

Connections are a rough yardstick of how well you understand, get along with, and deal with someone. It can also measure how well you are adapted to living in a place. You always have a couple of these Connections:

  • Melanie Glenn (2). Or maybe it’s Murray Glenn, but it’s probably Melanie. She’s your young rat assistant, and you get along really well with her.
  • The Serpent of Memory (1). You understand the nature of the Mysteries, but this one is throwing you for a loop.

You can discard these Connections later if they don’t seem to work. You can also talk with the other PCs; if it seems like you and another PC should be friends, you can both start with a Level 1 Connection to one another.

Step 6: Review Your Powers

You’re a great detective. A really, really great detective. This gives you a wide array of detective-based powers:

  • You can tell when lies are being told, either in a grand way or in specific situations.
  • You can distort your own words, making them seem truthful and encouraging people to respond truthfully to them.
  • You have a knack for finding clues to any investigation. Also, your investigations tend to reflect the problems and issues facing you in your personal life.
  • You have a real understanding of the stars and sky. (This isn’t really a detective power. It’s just a fact.)
  • You have extra Will that you can spend when life is just generally kicking you around.
  • And when the going gets tough, you can really double down and put out just that little bit of extra effort.

Step 7: Props

Before you start playing, you’re going to want to…

  • Copy or print out a character sheet, to remind you of your powers and skills.
  • Print up copies of your quests, so that you can track them.

You may also need:

  • Eight Will tokens (I recommend white poker chips!)
  • Three Miraculous Will tokens, of a similar but not identical colour to your Will tokens (Blue is nice.)
  • Five (or more) MP tokens, of a different colour from your other tokens. (I generally use red.)
  • To look around the table to identify the other PCs. Then practice play by:
    • Nodding seriously and putting your faith in the Glass-Maker.
    • Snapping your fingers to beckon over the Prince of Thorns to serve you.
    • Shivering in terror at the actions of the Serpent of Memory.
    • Sighing and rubbing your forehead over the Prodigal Sun.
    • Giving a big thumbs-up to the Swan Child for bearing up under strain.
    • Shaking your fist at the machinations of the Humble Lie and shouting her name.
    • Just staring in shock and horror or disgust at the Wrongful King.

Next: The Prince of Thorns and the Serpent of Memory

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