It's time for another installment of Digital Shoebox, the series where I post a complete, usable character, both for my own archives and so that you, dear reader, might take it and make of it what you will.
Past entries have featured characters intended for use by players, but this week's entry is presented instead as a resource for game masters. Specifically Keepers, as we venture into the realms of Call of Cthulhu with a most unusual potential patron...
Our man is Jacob Ruppert, the real-life owner of the New York Yankees from 1915 to 1939. (Technically, he was co-owner of the team from 1915 to 1922 with the intriguingly-named Tillinghast L'Hommedieu Huston.)
Baseball aficionados will know that Ruppert is one of the most significant owners in the game's professional history, taking a marginal also-ran team and building it into an unstoppable franchise, inaugurating a tradition of excellence that continues to this day. It was Ruppert who acquired Babe Ruth for the team, who built Yankees Stadium, who oversaw the developments of the "Murderer's Row" and "Bronx Bombers" lineups.
What people may not be aware of are Ruppert's singular personal eccentricities.
Born in 1867, Ruppert was the grandson of German immigrants. In spite of the fact that he was raised in New York City, Ruppert spoke with a thick German accent his entire life. (It is often remarked that pronounced Babe Ruth's name as "Root," for example--he addressed everyone by their last names.) His father ran the massive Ruppert Brewery, located in Manhattan's Upper East Side and sprawling over three city blocks, from which Ruppert inherited his millions. He served in the National Guard, eventually rising to the rank of Colonel, and was elected by the Tammany Hall machine as a Democratic Congressman for four terms (1899-1907), but otherwise devoted his life to beer and baseball.
A great collector of ephemera and exotica, the unmarried Ruppert filled his massive mansion with books and art, particularly jade carvings, as well as animals: dogs, horses, and what was called "America's finest collection of small monkeys," in the words of Harvey Frommer.
Ruppert maintained a second home, a 400-acre estate, in Garrison, New York (on the Hudson across from West Point). Within the stony walls of that stately home, Ruppert set up a room--a shrine, really--devoted to his dear, departed Mutti, Anna, after she died in 1924. The room was kept stocked with everything Anna Ruppert would need in the event she came back to life.
So there's that.
Also of note is Ruppert's deep interest in exploration. He helped bankroll Richard Byrd's 1933 Antarctic expedition, providing one of the steamships (modestly christened the Jacob Ruppert) that took the expedition to the chilly shores of that icy continent.
Ruppert has obvious utility as a patron for player-characters interested in expeditions to foreign lands; in particular, he will be interested in acquiring rare and valuable jade relics. He may be inserted as a direct or associated sponsor for any published campaign expedition (including the infamous Carlisle Expedition), or as an interested party.
Then there is the matter of his maternal shrine in Garrison. What books sit lowering in the darker recesses of Ruppert's library? Perhaps works on necromancy and re-animation of the dead? Or is the shrine merely the sign of a lonely man isolated by his wealth and perennial bachelorhood? Ruppert could equally make for an unlikely sorcerous villain for New York-based campaigns or a fun, innocently eccentric red herring for any baseball fans in your group.
And, lastly, just what on Earth did Ruppert need all those small monkeys for?
JACOB RUPPERT, Eccentric Millionaire
STR 55 CON 60 SIZ 75 DEX 40 INT 85
APP 40 POW 80 EDU 73 SAN 80* HP 13
* Lower if Ruppert is indeed a sorcerer.
Damage bonus +1D4 Build 1 Move 4
Fighting (Brawl) 45%, damage 1D3+1D4
Firearms (Rifle/Shotgun) 60%
Firearms (Handgun) 50%
Skills: Accounting 65%, Animal Handling 40%, Appraise 50%, Archaeology 20%, Credit Rating 95%, Fast Talk 25%, History 30%, Intimidate 35%, Language (English) 35%, Language (German) 70%, Law 30%, Library Use 30%, Mechanical Repair 20%, Natural World 35%, Occult 25%, Persuade 80%, Psychology 55%, Ride 40%, Spot Hidden 50%.
- Keepers who so wish could make room on Ruppert's library shelves for one or two books of Mythos or occult lore. Suitable choices include The Emerald Tablet, The Golden Bough, The Key of Solomon, Malleus Maleficarum, Thaumaturgical Prodigies in the New-England Canon, True Magick, and Unaussprechlichen Kulten.
- If Ruppert is a necromancer, he should also own a copy of Cultes des Goules, although he will not keep it in a publicly-accessible place. He will also be limited by his lack of proficiency with the French language. Presumably, the book sits near a French-German or French-English dictionary and a dog-eared notebook. Keepers should feel free to give him as many or as few spells from that dark tome as they feel is reasonable for his years of diligent translation.