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Old 05-25-2021, 06:11 AM   #1
scc
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Default Steampunk National Security Character Type Help Needed

So the situation is in a very weird steampunk timeline with Russia successfully launched the worlds first (manned) orbital rocket Britain is in a bit of a scramble to catch up and Lord Whathisname has been put in charge of the project to correct this. Now such a project of Great Importance will need security, which is where the PC's will come, but what sort does Lord Whathisname hire for the job.

Military personal are mostly out of the picture, as this is a battlefield of whits and words, not weapons, but the rocket-pack (really rocket powered gliders/ultra-lights) commandos the setting will feature are too cool not to include and would work well as both simple muscle and for various snooping around. A staff officer might also work, although I'm not sure what they bring to the table.

A detective and/or some sort of criminal are next on the possible list, but is it a good idea to build a party with such a split in it? And would a criminal be employed by the government in such a role?

Would a Demimondaine or similar women be employed for such a job?

A Gentleperson of Leisure or similar high-class personage is more a matter of figuring out what there is for them to do.

A engineer for the wide variety of technical skills.

Sorry I'm rambling a bit, I think that's because I'm trying to break a cycle based upon can be a party member, which affects what skills the party has, which in turn affects what challenges they can face, which circles around back to skills, some how. That said I've identified 2 (there was a third but I can't remember it) different plots I can run the party through: A spy or saboteur they've got to detect and a labor dispute. This second suggests that maybe the party isn't just security, but rather are the people that are running the whole affair under Lord Whathisname.
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Old 05-25-2021, 06:16 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steampunk National Security Character Type Help Needed

Obligatory real example of turn-of-the-century British spy, Sidney Reilly.

Other than that, military officers, Colonial Service and Foreign Service chaps.
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Old 05-25-2021, 08:10 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
O

Other than that, military officers, Colonial Service and Foreign Service chaps.
......of good birth and good connections. Considering what got Lord Whatisname his job he's going to pick people like himself.

Most males of that class are going to have experience in the military and international travel (The Grand Tour) anyway. Even speak at least French (though probably badly). They may have been on a safari or two as well.
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Old 05-25-2021, 04:57 PM   #4
johndallman
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Default Re: Steampunk National Security Character Type Help Needed

If Lord Whatisname does a good job, he'll be looking for people something like this:
  • Someone of proper class to be in charge. He's likely to have military experience. and with any luck, attended Oxbridge first. The Guards regiments are very fashionable, but someone who was selected for brains might be a better choice: Royal Engineers, or Royal Navy.
  • Someone with policing experience. The Metropolitan Police Special Irish Branch is the place to look for them. They might well come with an Ally in the form of an experienced Sargent.
  • Someone who knows about telegraphs, the new-fangled telephones, and other forms of communication. Capable of operating, tapping and sabotaging them. They might come from the General Post Office, or the Eastern Telegraph Company, which does overseas communication.
  • Someone who knows about transport: railways, ships, even the new motor-cars and airships. Capable of operating and/or sabotaging as many of them as possible.
  • Someone who has lots of society and artistic contacts, welcome at upper-class events. This is the best slot for a female character.
  • Someone who does stealth, lockpicking, eavesdropping, and maybe the odd stabbing. Strictly in the cause of national security, of course, but they're likely to have a criminal background.
Everyone should be handy with a revolver, of course.
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Old 05-25-2021, 06:21 PM   #5
dcarson
 
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Always the classic Lord with extensive survival and tracking skills from an incident when he was a child. (Tarzan)
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Old 05-25-2021, 09:17 PM   #6
Rolando
 
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Default Re: Steampunk National Security Character Type Help Needed

If Lord Whatisname is a bit eccentric and kind of a "goofy genius" character he will pick people for their skills and traits and you will have a very eclectic force, with some "generic" goons, administrative personnel and soldiers/commandos.

He will choose from aristocracy, bourgeois and lower classes, even criminals, some discredited scientist and even a foreigner or two.

Maybe The Crown don't see space as a good investment, don't have the vision for the future, and because of that Lord Whatisname was chosen. Some prominent noble recommended him as a man that can do no harm and maybe even do some good, also can be discarded easily if things go wrong, but in fact this prominent noble knows Whathisname (it's an old friend) and knows he is a bit goofy but also a brilliant man and with the right vision for the future.

This will allow your player to be almost anything if they are competent and loyal to England. The rest of the institution/office/project is more standard and conventional, with some interesting characters here and there.
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Old 05-26-2021, 04:14 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steampunk National Security Character Type Help Needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by scc View Post
A detective and/or some sort of criminal are next on the possible list, but is it a good idea to build a party with such a split in it? And would a criminal be employed by the government in such a role?
Plenty of popular fiction of the period had reformed criminals on the side of virtue, sometimes even in lead roles. (Holmes seems to have had plenty of fairly shady contacts.) The Victorians were perfectly capable of entertaining the idea of reform, at least if it got you an interesting character with useful skills in a story. And, of course, in reality, the police would be perfectly willing to employ informants, slipping a few quid to small fry if it helped them catch the bigger fish.

If you want a character who moralistic and narrower-minded people would believe had reformed, showing them as having found Religion is a quick solution. They may have a police record as long as your arm, but if they go to church and sing hymns on Sundays, and occasionally refer to their past careers in tones of deep regret, they must be acceptable.

Female characters may actually be a bit harder to justify if you're being deeply realistic -- one can reform from a life of crime, but being of the weaker sex is permanent. But I'd bet that in practice, even in reality, efficient intelligence officers wouldn't have been above trailing fallen women past susceptible targets. And more to the point, a specialist steampunk intelligence outfit is by definition going to be seen as eccentric, so dropping in a trained scientist from Girton or an upper-class widow with a list of high society contacts (and a list of weaknesses and foibles for each of them) would hardly be extreme.
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Old 05-27-2021, 05:22 AM   #8
scc
 
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Default Re: Steampunk National Security Character Type Help Needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
If Lord Whatisname does a good job, he'll be looking for people something like this:
  • Someone of proper class to be in charge. He's likely to have military experience. and with any luck, attended Oxbridge first. The Guards regiments are very fashionable, but someone who was selected for brains might be a better choice: Royal Engineers, or Royal Navy.
  • Someone with policing experience. The Metropolitan Police Special Irish Branch is the place to look for them. They might well come with an Ally in the form of an experienced Sargent.
  • Someone who knows about telegraphs, the new-fangled telephones, and other forms of communication. Capable of operating, tapping and sabotaging them. They might come from the General Post Office, or the Eastern Telegraph Company, which does overseas communication.
  • Someone who knows about transport: railways, ships, even the new motor-cars and airships. Capable of operating and/or sabotaging as many of them as possible.
  • Someone who has lots of society and artistic contacts, welcome at upper-class events. This is the best slot for a female character.
  • Someone who does stealth, lockpicking, eavesdropping, and maybe the odd stabbing. Strictly in the cause of national security, of course, but they're likely to have a criminal background.
Everyone should be handy with a revolver, of course.
These are all very interesting, but I'm just as interested in dramatic templates, or at least the dramatic component of them, as the occupational component.

Being handy with a revolver is probably the limit of combat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolando View Post
If Lord Whatisname is a bit eccentric and kind of a "goofy genius" character he will pick people for their skills and traits and you will have a very eclectic force, with some "generic" goons, administrative personnel and soldiers/commandos.

He will choose from aristocracy, bourgeois and lower classes, even criminals, some discredited scientist and even a foreigner or two.

Maybe The Crown don't see space as a good investment, don't have the vision for the future, and because of that Lord Whatisname was chosen. Some prominent noble recommended him as a man that can do no harm and maybe even do some good, also can be discarded easily if things go wrong, but in fact this prominent noble knows Whathisname (it's an old friend) and knows he is a bit goofy but also a brilliant man and with the right vision for the future.

This will allow your player to be almost anything if they are competent and loyal to England. The rest of the institution/office/project is more standard and conventional, with some interesting characters here and there.
This project is of great interest to The Crown however, this is set in a very different timeline on one of several habitable moons of a gas giant, where the other moons will play the part of Africa. This means space-flight plays a far bigger role culturally. It also means no empire building yet. So selecting far out the choices would have very well justified,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Masters View Post
Plenty of popular fiction of the period had reformed criminals on the side of virtue, sometimes even in lead roles. (Holmes seems to have had plenty of fairly shady contacts.) The Victorians were perfectly capable of entertaining the idea of reform, at least if it got you an interesting character with useful skills in a story. And, of course, in reality, the police would be perfectly willing to employ informants, slipping a few quid to small fry if it helped them catch the bigger fish.
I'm thinking more along the lines offered this job in lieu of jail time
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Old 05-27-2021, 08:44 AM   #9
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T
I'm thinking more along the lines offered this job in lieu of jail time
That might give you an "asset" to be used for some limited purpose while being closely supervised but if you're trying for an _agent_ who will act in your best interests on a dependable basis it doesn't work so well. They'll resent and or outright hate you and seek to escape at the first opportunity.

At least that's the way it works as an rpg trope in my experience. When it's been done to my PCs by some authority figure in past games I set destroying the authority figure as a long-term goal. You can't gain loyal service through extortion.
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Old 05-27-2021, 12:03 PM   #10
Phil Masters
 
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I'm thinking more along the lines offered this job in lieu of jail time
If enough people in authority were prepared to accept that the ex-criminal genuinely regretted their past, and was serving the Crown as a way to make amends, I donít see the problem. This might just mean that a criminal who wanted a short, exciting penalty rather than a long, boring stretch inside had put on a good act, of course.

In a more cynical game, well, needs must when the safety of the Crown is at stake, donícha know. Wellingtonís army was notoriously full of the scum of the Earth, and they saved us from Bonaparte. Itíd be easier if the fellowís record didnít involve too much harm to innocents, obviously.
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