Complex 214 – The Dee Sanction

Deutsch: John Dee

I have a few upcoming conventions to prepare for, where I hope to get the chance to run a couple of Complex 214 games.

One will be based around the dystopian future colony background I have already referenced in my game pitch post and elsewhere. The other will take me back to my History degree and the interest in Elizabethan England that drew me to write for the Arion Games reprint of the classic Maelstrom game a few years back, when I also compiled the rather detailed Beggars Companion, offering more than 20 alternative vagrancy options for the die hard player.

For this variation on the Complex 214 system, the focus swings to the latter period of Queen Elizabeth’s reign and those who would seek to both provide her counsel and defend her realm from enemies unseen:

In 1583, an adept gnostic team was sent to Prague by court spy-master Sir Francis Walsingham on a mission he didn’t commit to public record. These men journeyed through rough and ill-begotten lands engaged in a task of maximum-security in the defence of the realm from increasing Catholic-fuelled aggression. Today, still engaged in secret activities for Her Majesty’s government, they survive as scholars of fortune. If you have a supernatural problem… if no one else can help… and if you can find them… maybe you can hire… The Dee Sanction.

I will be putting together limited playtest changes for running this latter game – to support the planned con games. It will need a few appropriate Unethical Ends, a handful of Hermetic Flaws (instead of Mutations) and a smattering of flavourful Secret Affiliations. In the longer term, I will put together an expanded pack of character generation cards for this variant.

Much of the reading for this, over the last 12 months, has been both fascinating and intellectually taxing – although, the atmosphere I’ll be going for might prove a little more on the Universal Monsters side of the fence. The gnostic thinking of Dee and his predecessors – covered in Yates’ The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age – shows the complexity of occult and religious thinking at this time and the attempts, by many thinkers, to find a single thread or core at the very heart from which truth and power might come.

More generally, The Queen’s Conjuror: The Life and Magic of Dr. Dee: The Science and Magic of Dr.Dee deals with the passage of Dee from obscurity, through influence, and back to wretched obscurity again through Tudor and Stuart monarchy. Here – and in wider reading around Dee and his associate Edward Kelley – I found the kernel of potential for The Dee Sanction. Somewhere between Elizabethan James Bond – under the auspice of Walsingham’s spy network – and a sort of monster-hunting venture through Brothers Grimm-type territory, via Stoker, Lovecraft and similar.

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2 thoughts on “Complex 214 – The Dee Sanction

  1. Hi Paul,
    I’m thinking of joining you for your sessions of the Dee Sanction at Dragonmeet, but I have a question. Will this game take place in Elizabethan times or modern times?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Maurice,

      The Dee Sanction adventure takes place in Elizabethan times – but you have no need to know anything about the period to play. If you enjoy investigation gaming, you’ll be fine.

      Thanks for the comment! — Paul