Cabaret Cygne Dore’ – Mary Louise Barton

January 22, 2019

Welcome back to the Card Catalog series on Castle Falkenstein! If you have not read the round up of both the system and the setting here on Seize the GM, please take a look here! We are following up our look at a Dragon Lord last week with a look at a Fae character to continue our non-human roll going!  This week, I will make a Fae Duelist with the optional rules from The Memoirs of Auberon of Faerie because you always want at least one character always ready to throw down and honestly, a boisterous and loud female duelist from the fae does amuse me greatly.

The Fae in Castle Falkenstein are a race that includes a wide variety of creatures and they each have their own strengths and strictures, which we shall review when we get to that part of the character build, but their real history isn’t fleshed out in the original book but rather the subsequent supplement The Memoirs of Auberon of Faerie. Without going into the hundreds of pages of work in the original books, these fae are tangible forms that inchoate energy beings are locked in when they are in this universe and world.  They are functionally immortal absent Cold Iron or Star Iron’s use but lack the ability to use Sorcery save for the oldest and mightiest of them, like Auberon and The Adversary. I’ll do my best to work through the character creation in the design notes but as a reminder, there are very few “crunchy” choices to make regarding character design, so the Design Notes will be more narrative and the Character Notes will be treated as excerpts from the Dramatic Persona Diary in proper Falkenstein form!


While other members of the party are capable in a fight, nobody yet is really excited to get into a fight and since the Duel is it’s own special thing in Castle Falkenstein, I wanted to make sure I had a Duelist in the mix.  I also saw a chance for a salty and boisterous faery character and decided that the two should go together. A fae lady who prefers to get into fights palling around with a disgraced russian noble, consulting detective, and an anarchist leaning mastermind could be a great story to tell.   Any type of Faery could contribute enough energy when mating with a human to create a Daoine Sidhe, of Seelie or Unseelie persuasions, and I am going to have one of the Baohbhan Sidhe Vampires, normally unseelie and self centered to an extreme, have a change of heart a few hundred years ago and forgo their own energy passing on to this Faery Lord existence.  This gives me an “in” on choosing a Nemesis later and role playing opportunities about family traditions compared to her choices – when Mom’s old pals come calling and you don’t want to take part in a Wild Hunt, things will get a bit dicey!

The options for making a Faery Lord were presented as a regular Dramatic Persona creation in the regular rule book, but the aforementioned Memoirs provided for an alternate way to create Faery Dramatic Personas. Normally, you would select one Ability to be Great, four to be Good, and one to be Poor.  The rest would be Average. For the Fae, they have a large number of Abilities that are already defined because they have bound themselves to certain stories.  Each particular “breed” of fae had a certain set of Abilities that could not be changed to begin. For a Daoine Sidhe, or Faery Lord that is partially human and partially descended from the Tuatha de Danu or other faeries, begin with Great Athletics and Physique and also Good Fisticuffs, Perception, and Stealth.  There are also a handful of specific Faerie Abilities, and the Faery Lords have Enchantment and Glamour at Good, but Etherealness and Shapeshifting at Average.  I’ll go into that a bit more later.  There also must be two Poor Abilities selected so I will start with Tinkering as an utter inability to comprehend machinery and also Connections. We’ve already done a character who isn’t human that doesn’t understand Social Graces, so that wasn’t something to repeat.  Poor Connections means Mary Louise is mired in the lower class members of society which also makes sense with some of the drunken antics she gets up to. To make a Duelist, though, I need to add Fencing, so I look to the rules from the Castle Falkenstein Book to have another Great Ability and I can achieve that with a single Poor Ability to compensate and just to make it a complete joke I will add a Poor Marksmanship Ability – great with the swords not so much with these human inventions like guns. I had thought about increasing Courage or Comeliness as well but I don’t think I want that many Poor Abilities since they all must come from the main Castle Falkenstein list . Also, as with all player fae, Poor Sorcery prohibits the use of magick like humans and does not count towards any increased Abilities.  

Mary Louise’s personality seems to be summed up as Brash and Boisterous. She very much delves deeply into the pleasures and indulgences of a physical form – she understand both the formlessness of the true fae but also the allure of the physical as only the Daoine Sidhe seem to.  In creating a Dramatic Persona, you are also asked to think about a Virtue and Vice to help anchor your character. This brash, boisterous, and impetuous fae duelist does possess a singular virtue of Adventurousness. Her Vice, as many of her kind seem to have, is a thoughtless Arrogance. The general belief in fae superiority is easy to understand and it’s not like her mother, even reformed as she may have been, provided a greater empathy for mere humans. This leads to some high handed behavior and insults barely smoothed over as well as charging in where perhaps discretion is better warranted. Her Adventurousness is not quite fearlessness nor Courage as much as the desire to experience this world and she will drag her fellows along to ensure they do not miss out.    

Dramatic Personas are centered around what they value and who they are aligned with once firmly set in our mind is the basic character of our Hero.  Creating a Faery is a little different, because the person, item, and concept cherished and rewarded may be terribly different especially if the additional context of the Memoirs is used. For an item so revered is a piece of her history – a small memento from her father left behind after her birth – a knife roughly hewn and well used though with no explanation of why from her long dead father nor from her mother’s lips. A person she so protects is a dear friend in Spain she sees rarely, but well when she makes quite the noise.  Enrique is a connection for her to the world that isn’t something all fae share and could create a repetition of what happened with her mother, should she ever learn that truth.  Finally, she values Epicureanism – the indulgence in the joys of this world and life, though not in as lewd a manner as gluttony – in it’s modern usage rather than the classic philosophic search for The Good. Her  greatest nemesis is in fact Lord Dracula – in many ways a dark reflection of her own life.  They share a history as children of Vampires and Daoine Sidhe, but they took different paths since.  At every chance, Mary Louise reminds Dracula of how his mother sided against him with The Adversary and lashes out seeking to ruin her attempts to not be drawn into the fae politics and fights beyond the Veil.  He and his agents, in his tour of New Europa’s capitols can always show up with ill intent. Thankfully, she has not gone without friends as being a Fae is worthy of some repute in New Europa generally and the Belle Epoque City of Paris doubly so.  Her time with Lord Ladoni has seen her be far closer to a relationship with the Dragons than most fae and she is also not an unknown person to Napoleon III’s Court. These help insulate her but Lord Dracula is never far from her heels.

Her goals are all that are left to determine. Romantically, she knows that she could have a life and children, with a mortal, though the chance of surviving her creating another Daoine Sidhe is much smaller, but she is drawn to Enrique in ways other solid forms have not drawn her in before. Socially, she has been well taken care of as a Daoine Sidhe, and taught the secret history of her race and the secrets of the Veil, but she wants to be accepted in fae society as much as she is in human society and for that she will need allies. Professionally, she has a drive to be recognized as a the greatest of the duelists in New Europa – simply but still taking some effort yet to achieve.

While some of this is certainly written in a good narrative style, check below for the abridged diary version, and click the link for the PDF of the full diary sheet.  Anatole will provide a look at a more classic Castle Falkenstein Diary beginning, not unlike the one found in the original book as an example.

Special Fae Rules

First, player character Fae do not have Sorcery – all Fae have Poor Sorcery.  The last two of the Tuatha, including Lord Auberon and his Daione Sidhe surviving children, have Sorcery but that is not generally a character available.  Fae have additional Abilities that humans do not have like Etherealness and Shapeshifting. All fae have these powers which determine the ability to manipulate mass and form respectively.  Mary Louise has them at Average for the time being. Finally, there are Kindred Powers which is the catch all Ability for the special powers of each type of Fae. For the Faery Lords and Ladies, Enchantment is their power which is stronger than other fae allure powers. This means that they can make an opposed feat against the target’s Courage that they can see to have the target find them to be a boon companion, best of friends, or close lover until otherwise chosen by the fae.  Powerful indeed.

As a drawback, there are mythological and faery tale prohibitions that occur as well for all fae.  First is the Cold Iron issue – while more about “Star Iron” which is apparently from meteorites in the Castle Falkenstein world, Star Iron causes not only pain and discomfort but can cause instant death in sufficient amounts just by being near Fae.   It also causes a final death rather than allowing the fae to return across the Veil and reform their inchoate energy selves to return. It is bad news for the fae. The Daoine Sidhe, and the Seelie Faery Lords particularly, have the following bans – A discomfort on the holy lands, symbols, and accoutrements that is part of their very being; while the “Cold Iron” ban exists, the Daoine Sidhe may treat their Courage as a step higher to resist fear or panic of it; and finally if their spouse sees them change shape, they must return to the otherside of the Faerie Veil until that person has died.  


The Memoirs of Mary Louise Barton, Faery Lady of the Daoine Sidhe

Volume the Third

This volume of my memoir begins on the Twenty Second of January, 1870 as the humans tell time in this solid place.  I, Mary Louise Barton, have continued my life endebted to the suggestion of Lord Auberon amongst humans and in the midst of this Belle Epoque in Paris on New Europa.  While the lands of the United States and the Bear State Empire do attract my attention, for now I shall remain in New Europa. If you were not aware, I am fae and a Daoine Sidhe born of the intermingling of the blood of faerie and human.

* * *

I found that the ways of war were what I desired – the flash of swords and the celebration after were what appealed to me.  As such, despite not needing to learn how I threw myself into the world of a duelist. You may say, as all my kind are, that I  am exceptional of my physical pursuits [Great Athletics] and of my fortitude [Great Physique] with a well developed sense for recreation [Good Fisticuffs], pastimes [Good Stealth], and being able to discern the difference [Good Perception]. I also have some facility with the way in which the glamour may be woven [Good Glamour] and that mortals may be shaped by it [Good Enchantment].  While we Faery Daoine Sidhe are not known for our Etherealness nor Shapeshifting, they are not beyond our abilities[Average]. I chose to ensure that I was of some renown with a blade [Great Fencing] but I must shamefully admit to not understanding these firearms that the humans use [Poor Marksmanship]. They are so impersonal, but they also have built these constructs and machines that elude my understanding [Poor Tinkering].  I also seem to get along better with the humans who have a dreary existence than the ones who want to be like the fae [Poor Connections] though the ability of the humans, and dragons, to weave specific knots of energy is as foreign to me as all my kind [Poor Sorcery].

* * *

It is what my mother has left me of my father, this knife.  I keep it close, though the metal is not always comfortable.  I don’t know what this rough hewn and well used blade meant to my father nor why my mother has passed it to me but it connects me to something more than other fae.  I worry for Amando in Spain these days. After Queen Isabella was deposed and is here in France, the Cortes do not seem to know who should lead them. I may need to visit Enrique again and make sure that he is safe while this question of “nation states” is being resolved in Spain. I shall make the most of what time I have here on this Earth in their stead.  I seem to have been called an “Epicure” here as well, where I dive deeply into the sensations and feelings that this solid world offers in terms of food, drink, arts, and life. I value those who will drink as deeply as they can from this rare gift.

* * *

The previous few years shall be a bit of a blur.  The first two Volumes of my memoirs should suffice for those interested in what can truly be called the past.  Since keeping my own path apart from my mother’s vampiric and Unseelie family, I have sought to make something of this life for myself. It was easy to spend the time in Spain, amongst the duelists and their Magic Circle.  It was easy to ignore the world and the growing power of Lord Dracula and Otto von Bismark in my own corner of New Europa. Then the war happened and Lord Auberon stepped onto the field, with the Bayernese Aeronavy and the Magical Engines redefining the world’s boundaries.  My wine, sherry, ballestro, and blade could no longer ignore that meaning could be found in larger circles than just the Magic Circle of a fencer and her opponent.

Read the entire Diary entry here for the full character

Castle Falkenstein and Cygne Dore’ Cabaret Overview Here

Castle Falkenstein, Steam Age, New Europa, and all characters and creations in the book are trademarks of R. Talsorian Games Inc. Castle Falkenstein is © Mike Pondsmith, 1994. Seize the GM is a fan work using the trademarked and copywritten components for noncommercial criticism, review, and explanation.  No claim of ownership is intended or implied.
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