The Danube Connection
Personality and Dossier
Sources of Stability
Sources of Stability allow you to recover from the stress of your life of lies, violence, and fear. These provide you with the strength, release, and hope to keep fighting the good fight. If ever your Sources of Stability are threatened, damaged, killed, or worse, it triggers immediate Stability tests. If you’re unable to tap your Sources of Stability, you cannot refresh Stability during or between operations.
Your three Sources of Stability are:
This is a non-human representation of something or someone you value: a religious medal or crucifix, your country’s flag or your father’s dog tag, a picture of your innocent niece or a voice mail from your dead wife. Seeing it or handling it — a few minutes of meditation or reverence — reminds you of why you fight, why you must stay intact.
This is the person you seek out for human contact, to make the pain and stress recede for the time being: your current girlfriend, a friendly bartender, your old handler. A name and identifying phrase are sufficient. You may not use fellow agents on your team; they go through the same stresses you do and remind you of the horrors you confront. It’s permissible, but risky, for multiple agents to lean on the same folks as members of their support network.
Relying on others is a source of strength, but also of danger. Once you come to the attention of monstrous conspiracies, they may use your loved ones against you. They may corrupt them, turn them to evil or inhumanity, or take the tried and true route of subjecting them to horrible tortures.
This is the person and place you would flee to without thinking: your old trainer’s cabin in the Alps, your mother’s house in Scotland, your best friend’s apartment in Paris, a beachfront condo in Ibiza you’ve bought under another name. Simply knowing that such a refuge exists gives you hope that you can some day escape the shadowy world in which you dwell.
It’s very poor tradecraft to actually flee to your place of Safety. Even if the vampires, hostile intelligence and security services, or other conspiracies don’t already have the place wired, your flight there would put your would-be-refuge in their crosshairs.
You got into the game to protect innocents from terrorists, or disease, or war, or tyranny. You’re no innocent yourself now, but that only lets you know just how much innocence normal people have left to lose. Without the necessarily compromised agency telling you what to do, doing the right thing becomes not just easier, but imperative.
You did something wrong: committing a crime, betrayed your friend, killed someone undeserving, allowed someone else to die or prosper who shouldn’t. Maybe nobody else would think you need to atone, but maybe those are the things you most need to atone for. Possible you want to clear your name; perhaps you just need to clear your conscience.
You might specify your sin during character creation, or at the beginning of play, or leave it open for a dramatic revelation at any time during the game. You can tell the other players, or just the Director, or keep it to yourself. If you choose to set up your past misdeed as a mystery, be sure to drop hints along the way, to increase the impact on the other players when the secret finally comes out. Alternatively, you could wait for an interesting possibility to arise during play, and then tie your past history into the current action. Clear it with the Director first, to make sure that the facts you’re adding to the narrative don’t conflict with the plot you’re investigating.
You might have been motivated by abstract or material concerns when you first dropped off the grid, but over the months or years, that all fell by the wayside. The real reason to be part of a crew, you came to realize, is for the intense bond between men and women who depend completely on each other for their lives and livelihoods. Your team might be a criminal gang, or a crew of mismatched and cynical professionals. But deep down, they’re like a family to you. The ties you’ve forged under fire are in many ways stronger than blood. No value is more important than personal loyalty. No people no matter more than your teammates. And for them to survive, you have to kill the things that want to kill them.
You are driven to solve a mystery: this might be a personal mystery (What happened to my old partner? What happened during my missing week? Who burned me with the Agency?) or a political mystery (Were the vampires behind the Iraq War? Behind the Nazis? Behind the Templars?) or an arcane mystery (Where do vampires come from? What does the Vatican know about them?). If you have a personal connection to the mystery, your motives are relatively clear; otherwise, you have one of those brains so very attractive (and attracted) to intelligence agencies, a brain that cannot rest without solving a mystery or tearing itself apart.
Nowhere Else To Go
After you got out of the service (whatever it was), you were a directionless vagabond. Despite the many useful talents you picked up in your old life, you were unable to make a go of it alone. Without family, friends, or opportunity, you bounced from one low-end, no-future job to the next. This dispiriting period may have been marked by addiction, depression, or some other self-destructive behavior. Your path crossed with one or more of your teammates by random accident. (You can decide how this happened now, or wait to improvise the details of this backstory incident so that it dovetails with a storyline in process.) Finally your real life seemed to begin, with all of those wasted years seeming merely a prelude to you. The team and their jobs have been your life; the vampires threaten that. You plan, act, and counter ferociously, as if afraid that a single failure will send you spinning back into those days of soul-crushing despair.
Just because you don’t wear the uniform or collect the paycheck any more doesn’t mean you stop loving your country. In your own way, you’re working to advance its interests and to protect it from the darkness you’ve seen rising. You might be trying to secure secrets for your country, or uncover traitors in its security police, or kill its enemies, or help its military in some occupation or brushfire war. Any of these goals might be counter to your last orders or to today’s official policy; any of them might involve the undead.
You are under some outside compulsion to hunt down and kill vampires: whether a supernatural compulsion (a geas, diving command, blood bond, curse, or possession) or a scientific one (covert mind control, psibernetic implants, brainwashing, or infection) the result is the same. Likely, your programmers designed your training and tactics with similar ends in mind. The specifics will depend on the Director’s specific campaign details, and likely parallel the nature of the vampires and their powers in the campaign.
You want to come back in from the cold. You want to rejoin your old agency on good terms, ideally on your terms. For that, you need leverage, and product: actionable intelligence (or an asset network) that only you can make use of.
Vampires hunt or killed someone you cared about deeply. Although you weren’t able to stop that tragedy — and you might not have even known they were vampires at the time — you resolved to hunt them down and punish them.
Decide whether you have already succeeded in taking vengeance on them, or (perhaps more interestingly) have so far been unable to find them.
In the first instance, you were left with your rage unslaked when you finally did catch up with the vampire who killed your mother or turned your son. You realized that vampires crawl in shadows all over Europe — maybe all over the world. Still feeling empty inside, you resolved to take similar vengeance on behalf of the myriad other victims who can’t do it for themselves.
In the second case, the Director will look for opportunities to weave your hunt for the bad guys into her scenarios. She may dole them out in stages, so that successful revenge against one of them puts you onto the trail of another perpetrator, and so on. Directors should be careful not to force you to choose between your vengeance and the investigation of the case at hand — they should go hand in hand. Should you finally achieve your vengeance you then, as above, choose to continue on bringing true death to those who remind you of your hated quarry.
Once you found out that vampires existed, you knew it was your life’s work to kill them. You understand that vampires are slavery, and disease, and poison, and everything that is wrong. Whether it’s instinctive repulsion, religious conviction, or the hand of destiny, you can conceive of nothing more important than destroying all vampires everywhere.
You joined up thinking of Rambo or James Bond. Maybe you just wanted to prove yourself at first, but now you know the truth; there’s nothing better than surviving danger. You feel a new kind of alive when you’re closest to death. Nothing beats live fire for high stakes; not sex, not sports, not gambling, not coke. Maybe your team calls you and “adrenaline junkie,” but they’re sure glad to have you take point. When you know where to aim, you go in guns blazing, pitying people who will never know the feeling.
You left the service because of the stultifying, crushing, distorting secrecy surrounding your job. There are legitimate secrets in wartime, but the culture of secrecy too easily becomes a culture of corruption, breeding in the dark, of lies told to support worse lies. You want the truth to get out; you want information to be free. When you discover the truth about vampires, you know the only thing that can truly kill them is sunlight. You may have to get a lot of proof to make sure the truth is believed when you reveal it, but the game is worth the candle