Series Info...These Are The People In Your Neighborhood – Part I

by Gareth-Michael Skarka
February 6, 2001

Howsitgoin'? It's been a while. I missed last week's installment... I hope that nothing interesting happened without me.

I've checked out the discussion boards, and I was disappointed to see that there hasn't been any suggestions made regarding possible stage settings for ARCANA. Ah, well. As folks in my neck of the woods are wont to say: Whattaya Gonna Do?

This installment, I've been thinking about what I like about Castle Marrach, and how such things could be applied to ARCANA. My favorite part of CM, to be honest, are the non-player personalities... the "big wigs" of the Castle. They truly seem an integral part of the setting... more so than the characters brought in by the players (don't get me wrong... in the best cases, player-characters also reach that level of "right-ness" for the setting, but, in my experience, it's hit-and-miss).

So, my thoughts turn to non-player, setting-specific personalities for ARCANA. Now, obviously, to really give this topic some thought, I need to have a setting in mind.

Lacking any concrete input from the players, I'll go with one of the settings that appealed to me: The Manor House. Actually, I've sort of combined two of the settings... by mixing the Manor with the village setting I also had mentioned.

If you'll remember, the idea was that there is a weekend soiree hosted by a scandalous, eccentric Lord, at his Manor House in England in the 1920s. The setting would include the house itself, and the surrounding property. I will also expand the setting to include the nearby village and, just to make the setting perfect for the genre, let's include a moor, barren and desolate, surrounding it all (which not only gives us a genre trope, but also gives us a method of constraint... because anyone who has seen American Werewolf in London knows to Stay Off the Moors!).

So what sort of people would populate this setting, other than the players?

Well, first up, we have the Lord of the Manor himself. The needs of the story dictate that he is a bit off his rocker, and the subject of some scandal. He should be an enigma-the players should not know where his loyalties lie. Is he a devil-worshipper, who has brought his guests here to be sacrificed to his dark gods? Or, is he secretly a member of the Arcana, who has invited diabolists to his home to be "set up" and taken out by other members of the Arcana?

Our eccentric Lord will be named Sir Victor Blake, the 8th Baronet of Ravensmoor. His family was awarded the Manor and the baronetcy in return for support of the crown during the Civil War (English, obviously... not American). The family has never risen above the lowest rung of the aristocracy, due to a certain stain on the family reputation. Each Ravensmoor has had the air of scandal about them. One was a famous gambler, who nearly lost the entire family fortune. One was a shameless womanizer (lending some doubt as to the lineage of the following son... ), and one (the father of our current Lord of the Manor) strongly advocated an Alliance with Germany in the early years of WWI.

Sir Victor Blake is a wealthy, single man, and rumors abound about his lack of female companionship, and his seclusion in the great house on the moors. When the invitations go out, inviting complete strangers to a weekend at the Manor, the curiosity is too much to bear... they all come, eager to see what Baronet Ravensmoor has planned.

Among those partygoers are the players... and perhaps something more.

We'll talk again soon. As of this week, this column is going to a bi-weekly schedule. So, instead of my usual, I will now say...

See ya in 14.

your opinion...