1879: The Grace of Siméon d’Hivers

Continuing the series of Personalities, forthwith, a Fiddler making his living as a political fixer on the outskirts of the French government. Within the next month, we’ll release a more complete version, as a $1.99 PDF, with five Connections, three Adventure Hooks, and three Goodies consisting of two clockwork devices and a magical amulet.


In his youth, Siméon d’Hivers discovered that a quick, glib tongue and an ability to negotiate spared him from the local ruffians and ingratiated him with those in authority. While he picked up a number of skills the gendarmerie would not have approved of, he was charming, and quick, and knew a few things about those in power that gave him a bit of leverage in case of emergency. Such a person, ingratiating without being annoying, charming without being oily, and well versed in how things work and the peccadilloes of those in power, can make quite a tidy living on the periphery of any government. That of France, sometimes more than most, given its lack of stability, the tendency of its rulers to antagonize other countries, and the occasional interruption by communist revolutionaries.

Thus, Siméon started off running errands, moving small items from pocket to pocket (sometimes without people knowing it was being done), and generally making himself useful to the political fixers who kept things running while the official government thrashed about like a pig in a net. He moved up quickly, negotiating minor deals, taking care of small affairs, making introductions to the right people for a modest fee, the sort of work that nearly everyone who has to deal with an imperial government sooner or later needs. He made rather a reputation for himself, as a man who could Get Things Done, someone who Knew the Right People.

Of course, it wasn’t all champagne and croissants. There were times Siméon had to get his hands dirty, sometimes quite literally. He took up tinkering with clockwork, and then larger machines, learning enough about mechanisms and vehicles that he could not only stroll off with one whose owner had thought it reasonably well secured, but ensure that a lorry would have a breakdown at a predictable point in time, rendering it vulnerable to interception or just delaying its delivery long enough to set off a chain of events.

The French government’s move to Versailles in 1870, after the communards seized Paris, gave Siméon his greatest opportunity yet. So many shipments to organize, so many palms to grease and permits to obtain, such a massive logistical effort and of course the government was in disarray, and short of official funds, in the wake of the uprising and the abrupt necessity of relocation. Only the most senior were allocated budget for relocating their personal households, as always the rank and file being left to shift for themselves, told they either found a way to Versailles or the government could find someone there to do the job in their stead. Such a lot of minor officials ended up owing Siméon favours and monetary debts that he may not live long enough to collect them all. Of course a lorry could be found, and workers to load the papers and the furnishings. Certainement, he could arrange transport for the bureaucrat’s family and their possessions, and even connect them with the right people in Versailles to find proper lodgings and not be squirrelled away in a garret like those poor souls over in Revenue.

The decision just recently to move back to Paris presented another considerable opportunity, but then of course the Fall interrupted that. In the midst of organizing and putting into action the plans to return the capital from Versailles to the City of Lights, the news from Paris had the same general effect as tossing a firecracker into a chicken pen. Those with cool heads realized that the disaster created its own opportunities. Siméon has been terrifically busy these days, what with revisions of relocation plans, getting departments moved back to Versailles, some of which were on the road halfway between cities when the hellpits erupted, and then there’s all the personal fallout, leases to be renegotiated as the tenants suddenly needed to stay instead of leave. A gentleman who can arrange relief supplies, tools, electric vehicles, and so on can make quite a fortune in the midst of such turmoil.

There had to be a fly in the ointment, of course. Just as the government was reaching its decision to return to Paris, the Fever struck Siméon, reducing him in stature, leaving him dwarven in frame and with considerable residual pain. He’s had to take to laudanum a few too many times of late just to get to sleep. Worse, since his transformation, he finds himself a bit more irascible, a bit less charming. All those years he’s spent working on his ability to grease the social gears, and all it took was one bout of Looking Glass to set him back a decade. With all bad news comes the chance to earn a sou, though. While recovering, Siméon spent time with a mystic, who not only taught him ways to overcome the pain of the physical changes, but to find a new power dwelling deep within his own mind. In the months since, Siméon has learned to share his thoughts with others. Being able to hold a silent conversation in a crowded room gives one a terrific advantage. He’s learned to see past the physical and into the astral plane, and is only beginning to delve into the advantages granted by being able to read someone’s emotions and intent. He’s even learned how to create a temporary pocket into the astral realm, handy when one has just filched a key and knows a search will be forthcoming.

Who knows what opportunities tomorrow might bring? Magic returns, people change, Paris explodes, but there’s always a deal to be made, an introduction required, and a small fee for the trouble.

Character Sheet

See the PDF, and note the following.

  • Siméon’s Profession abilities are:
    • The character gains +2 to their Social Defense (incorporated on character sheet).
    • The character gains +1 to their Physical Defense (incorporated on character sheet).
    • The character gains +1 to their Recovery Step (incorporated on character sheet).
    • The character gains +1 to their base Karma step (incorporated on character sheet).
    • The character may spend Karma on any CHA-only Test.
    • Plausible Deniability: The Fiddler may put forth any vaguely reasonable explanation for why they are someplace they shouldn’t ought to be or doing something they perhaps shouldn’t be doing. The character makes a Graceful Exit Test (or raw CHA Test) at +2 Steps against the target’s Social Defense, and spends 2 Strain. If successful, their explanation is accepted, and will not be doubted unless the situation changes. Extra successes increase the Target Number by +1 each for disbelieving the explanation at a later date. On a Rule Of One result, the Fiddler’s cover is blown, and their target immediately takes action against them.
    • Haven’t You Wondered?: The Fiddler may Undermine someone who is not present. The character spends 5 Strain to target the individual. On one success, the audience’s Attitude shifts as if the target were present. On two or more successes, the effect (both to Attitude and to the target’s Social Defense) lasts for the Fiddler’s Undermine Rank in hours, giving time for (among other things) word to get back to the target and impact their Social Defense. On a Rule of One result, the audience’s Attitude toward the Fiddler drops by one degree, and remains there until action is taken to change it, representing the Fiddler’s loss of credibility.

Tally Ho!