Bryce Brogan. He’s a fast-talking former journalist with impeccable fashion sense and a taste for the better things in life, both fueled by titillating stories of demons corrupting young lovers, intriguing mysteries of ghosts lost in time, and the sordid dealings of ancient cults bent on resurrecting their dead gods through rituals of blood and lust. It was an impossible lifestyle to maintain, and it all came crashing down when on of his scintillating exposes targeted the person with just the right — or maybe just the wrong — connections.
They ruined him … and made him all but untouchable by the city’s broadsheets. Armed with a silver tongue and extensive knowledge of the stranger parts of the city, he’s funding his vices through the only avenue left open to him: crime.
Bryce is my my character for Blades in the Dark, which I’m playing online with friends via Roll20. I’d originally envisioned him as Eames from Inception — the suave faceman who could sell hot tea to a sinner in hell. Three sessions in, it’s become clear that is who he used to be. Now Bryce is someone who’s life is coming off the rails. He always indulged his passions, but now Bryce spends coin as fast as he gets it. He lives on the edge, constantly seeking out the next euphoria-inducing experience that reminds him — at least temporarily — of the life he once lived. He’s fallen in with a cult that worships the old god Tiabede, a sinister and alluring being. What began as just another lark has become something more serious, perhaps as serious as a noose slowly strangling him. Or maybe it will end up being a gateway to ever more esoteric forms of knowledge and pleasure.
It’s certainly exacted a cost. His black three-piece suit is frayed at cuff and the collar and there’s a stain or two that’s nerving coming out. More often than not he’s slumming it, wearing still-sharp trousers with suspenders over a collared shirt. He’s still got the good suit hidden away in his apartment for special occasions (or capers) but most days his only nod to his formerly fashionable state are his silver-rimmed glasses.
Bryce is a native of Akoros, the “largest and most industrialized land in the Imperium and is home to the capitol city as well as Duskwall itself. They’re known for their diverse conglomeration of cultures that have grown together in close proximity for centuries, somewhat like Europe.” (Blades in the Dark p. 53)
Born and raised in the capitol city, Bryce attended the national university of Akoros, where he double majored in Literature and Philosophy, and spent most of his free time participating in the Drama Club (he was rarely the lead, as he was too distracted by his romantic pursuits to consistently memorize large swaths of dialogue). He also dabbled as a stringer for the city’s various newspapers, and after graduation parleyed that into a reporter position at the Sentinel, a 50,000 circulation broadsheet newspaper in Doskvol. Initially assigned the sort of workaday stories that fill the back pages of any newspaper, Bryce soon found his natural ability to put people at ease — and to get them to tell him things probably best left unspoken — made him an excellent crime reporter.
That’s where the end began. Covering some of the city’s most sensational felonies was thrilling but no so thrilling as uncovering the weirder, darker tales that lie at the intersection of crime and the supernatural. He found himself drawn deeper into the criminal underworld, eventually leading him to Byrl, his once and future drug dealer. It was Byrl who sold him the very best illicit wares … and who inadvertently gave him some of Bryce’s best story ideas. It was also Bryl who — when he realized that he was the unnamed source who’d exposed an up-and-coming crime lord — unmade the young journalist.
Enraged, Byrl leveraged contacts within the Greycloaks to expose Bryce’s addictions to his employers, as well as a certain unfortunate dalliance with the daughter of a certain city noble. The scandal cost Bryce his high-flying job, his plush office, and his sizable income and was sufficient to drive him from the newspaper industry. None of the reputable broadsheets would touch him, and he couldn’t bring himself to work for the tabloids (more because of the terrible pay than because of any highly held journalistic standards).
Bryce couldn’t help but indulge his vices though, and that meant he needed coin … preferably a lot of coin. It was Klyrn, the owner of the Weeping Dragon tavern, who put him in touch with the antiquarian named Hutchins. A dabbler in the strange and weird, Hutchins in turn connected Bryce with the the Cult of Tiabede.
His fall was complete. He still harbors a secret desire to get back in with the Ink Rakes (the loose association of journalists in the city) but in truth he’s far more interested in pursuing the weird — and profitable — jobs that the cult offers.
Bryce is a Slide, which the game describes as “a subtle manipulator and spy.” He has three dots (or ranks) in Sway, which often puts him the role of the gang’s faceman (at least when we need to convince someone to do a thing). His special ability is Rook’s Gambit, which lets him take stress to and — with a good story explanation — use Sway in place of another skill.
His other skills are Consort (1 dot), Skirmish (1 dot), Hunt (1 dot), Study (1 dot), and Survey (1 dot), all of which reflect his former life as a reporter scrambling after stories.
He has the academic background, which is the closest I could get to journalist. It’s a good fit for Bryce’s former life and comes in handy for his new one. (what did this get him?)
His heritage is Akoros. (what does this mean and what does it get him?)
His vice is pleasure, which he derives from the finer things in life. That could be expensive clothes, 50-year-old scotch, a night in one of the city’s most costly hotels, or experimentation with a pricy new drug. The poison may change, but the underlying principle remains the same: it must cost a lot, and he must be seen spending money on it. One must, after all, keep up appearences.
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Cover art from the Blades in the Dark role-playing game. Credit: Evil Hat Games