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tatterdemalion, modern day adaptation

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A couple of years ago, I adapted Tatterdemalion for use in a modern setting. It was not a hard thing to do, as the scenario is not specifically grounded in the 1920s through historical or technological references.


I loved the scenario but felt that my players would enjoy it more if it was played out in the contemporary art/theatre/fashion setting, due to increased familiarity with its mores and I felt that this would add more depth to the characters when they would be played out. I also felt that I could have more fun treating the proliferation of semi-talented hangers on, ruthlessly ambitious and well-connected divas, commercialism in art and the contemoprary tendency to encourage everyone to consider themselves an artist, which I felt would fit nicely within the trippy Hasturian setting of this scenario if I were to set it in the 2000s.


Here are the backgrounds of the four characters and some of the handouts, I can provide character sheets made in byakhee upon request. I hope you will find them to be truthful adaptations of the excellent characters from the scenario.


Signorina Bianca Vindici

Signorina Vindici is descended from an old and noble Italian lineage. Her grandfather, Pierpaolo Vindici, chose to emmigrate to America during the postWWI political upheavals. With his family, he settled in the ‘little Italy’ part of New York and through his connections set up a business importing Italian wine to USA. Bianca grew up in a typical Italian environment of communal, family life, enamoured of great romantic operas of Verdi and Puccini, imagining herself as the great diva of the Met. Through her family connections and wealth, she managed to get into Julliard, and ruthless ambition did the rest. Her rise to fame was rapid, not so much because of her actual skill, more because no other American singer could rival her conviction and natural flair in performing the Italian romantic operas, well suited for her colorative soprano. Quickly, she rose through the ranks to become a soloist at the Met, and now she is the Prima Donna herself. Heavens help those who stand in her way, for she has seen to the ruin of many rivals who dared question her talent and competence. The strain of fighting to keep her position at the top has taken it’s toll, however. Her voice is starting to show the effects of prolonged stress and age. Rather than be pushed out by some up-and-coming young starlet, she has decided to step down while the going is good. Two years ago, she began her “Final Farewell US Tourâ€. This proved such a success that she staged another one last year, and plans for a third are already under way. One of the many ways in which Bianca maintains her standing is to keep both ears on the ground; she collects rumours, and isn’t adverse to spreading a few of her own devising. With a network of trusted friends always ready to talk (Bianca’s Library Use skill is used to tap into this particular network to find out gossip), she combs the musical and theatrical world for any snippets she can find, and her meticulous memory stores enough tasty titbits to ensure she can always get the better of just about everybody. One never knows when they will be useful – to help a friend, or crush a rival; for example, that irksome little playwright, Anthony Carmichael. More than anything, Bianca hates being upstaged.


Herr Volker Rheinhardt

A German-born artist living in New York, Volker produces hermetic conceptual art using many modes of expression (video art, installations etc.), dealing with topics reflecting contemporary detachment from moral discourse induced by technologisation of reality. Or rather, he did. Since coming to the US, Volker has been forced to prostitute his Art, painting ‘pretty’ portraits and landscapes in order to make any money – food is, alas, a habit which has proved a necessity. His hoped for ‘big break’ came last year, when the ‘enfent terrible’ of the New York theatre scene, playwright/director Anthony Carmichael, comissioned scenography for his latest play Sodom. Hoping the play’s assured success would bring him fame, Volker created a multimedial scenography that embodied his artistic ‘credo’, reflected his heart and soul. Unfortunately, the play bombed, and he was instead ignored. After weeks of brooding in his spartan garret, he began to paint again: the popular way, the succesful way. A hateful way. At least Carmichael, with his hauntingly perverse style of writing, stayed true to himself in the face of failure. Now Volker hopes to find a new patrion similar to Carmichael (or even the man himself, should things get better for him), and escape the bastardised corner which he has painted himself into.


Mr Algernon Chambers

As a young man, Algernon burned with a desire to write a Great American Novel, to follow in the footsteps of Faulkner, Scott Fitzgerald, Pynchon... He honed his skills, studied the work of others, and geared himself up for the task. However, when he actually embarked on the project, he found that he had raised his standards to such a point that it was impossible for his own writing to match up to them; disillusioned, he gave up. However, his years at college doing literature left him with a pretty mean capability to assess other people’s work, and so he turned this skill into his career. By and by he drifted into the most lucrative and glamorous area of the field: Theatre Criticism! His brutal, vitriolic, yet insightful style proved popular with the readers, and before long he was writing for The New York Times. Through his work, he made the acquaintance of many of the rich and famous; actors, directors and playwrights flattered him with gifts. One of the few who sincerely enjoyed his company, rather than merely toadying to him, was Anthony Carmichael. Algernon followed the plays Carmichael wrote and produced with interest, managing to see past the superficial outrageousness to the true genius beneath. Carmichael’s work was a postmodern outtake on the turn-of-the-century decadence theatre of Oscar Wilde, bringing the 1890s topics and atmosphere into the 1990s,with campness, cynicism and conviction that made them truly timeless. Beloved Dead was first, shocking the crowds with its necrophiliac theme. His Master’s Voice dealt with Satanism (“an inspired work, rising above the tawdry subject matterâ€), and was followed by Heart’s Blood (“lushly paganâ€), then Poison’d Love (“Romeo and Juliet deconstructedâ€), and most recently (last year) Sodom. This last play however Algernon found banal and tiresome. Carmichael, it seemed, had lost his touch, and Sodom closed after less than a week. With the failure of the play, his friendship with the man broke up, and he has heard nothing of him bur rumour since then. But there are plenty more theatrical fish out there to be fried…


Miss Jessica Barnfield

With the death of her parents when she was six, Jessica was reared by her Grandfather on a small farm in upstate Massachusetts. A fervent “fire and brimstone†Catholic, he brought the girl up with a stong awareness of good and bad, sin and righteousness. However, after her Grandfather’s passing, the firm religious beliefs wore off a little, as the world proved itself not to be as cut-and-dried as he would have her believe. The best vow that Jessica could make was to maintain her own scruples.

Creditors claimed the farm, and for a climactic change of scenery she moved to New York. After many trials, she began work as a typist. Being in the city though gave her a chance to try out something she’d always wanted to do: appear on the stage. Ever mindful of her promise, and in memory of her Granpa, she took care to only take part in productions which were good and proper. She loved it, and happily and steadily worked her way from the chorus to minor speaking parts. The excitement of rehearsal contrasted with her quiet home life. Last year, in what was in fact her last production, she caught the eye of Anthony Carmichael, the famous playwright. Coming backstage afterwards, he offered her a fair-sized part in his new work, Sodom. Imagining it to be some sort of a religious parabole, Jessica accepted. A reading was arranged soon after, but to her horror, she discovered that Sodom was extremely immoral, positively oozing with licentiousness. She quit of course, and the play itself was punished with failure; but this revenge was too late for Jessica, who was so upset that since then she hasn't had the courage to seek out another part. So for her nowadays it's five days in the office, and back home to sit in an armchair and dream of the footlights...

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That totally works! I'd love to see the character sheets.

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