Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Blue Rose: Who is Admiral Celeste Vorcolio?

Admiral Celeste Vorcolio
Often, very often, the NPCs I will put into a game or adventure will be drawn from either someone I know or a previous character of mine.  St. Johan Werper in the Guidebook to the Duchy of Valnwall Special Edition is/was my first ever D&D character. Nearly every non-player character in my Night Worlds "Generation HEX" and "Ordinary World" in NIGHT SHIFT were characters in my long-running Chill/Buffy/Ghosts of Albion games.  The Editor in "Weirdly World News" in the Night Companion was based on the director for the play "The Front Page" I was in several lifetimes ago. 

But who is  Admiral Celeste Vorcolio of Six of Cups?

The folk hero of Garnet in Aldis, in the World of Aldea, is not based on any real person nor character of my past.

Since I was modeling the City of Garnet after my childhood memories of Alton, Illinois I took it a step further and thought about the stories I was reading then. While the Tall Tales of Paul Bunyan or Pecos Bill wouldn't really be appropriate for what I wanted, there was another one.  I remembered reading, the stories of a giant sailor named Stormalong

After reading mythology, I followed up with the American equivalent, the Tall Tale. While I liked the tales of Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan it was A. B. Stormalong that would actually feel like an adventure.  Pecos Bill was essentially a drunk cowboy soon to be upstaged in his antics by his younger, dumb brother "Florida Man." Paul Bunyan was a giant, but all he ever did was cut down trees. Stormalong, well he fought the Kraken! The idea that he boarded a ship and signed his name "Stormalong, A.B.," which would go on to mean "able-bodied sailor," stuck with me decades later.

I knew I wanted an admiral in the Aldean Navy.  I knew I wanted Garnet to be the heart of that Navy. So someone from Garnet needed to be the one that made the Navy into what it is today. 

I started with the idea of Stormalong, someone young and ready for adventure, jumping onto a ship and doing whatever they needed to do to be on that ship and rise up through the ranks.  The idea jelled for me when I thought about Star Trek The Next Generation.  Gene Rodenberry had described the characters of Picard, Riker, and Wesley Crusher as all being different parts of Horatio Hornblower.  Though originally "Wesley Crusher" was going to be "Leslie Crusher." Which gave me the idea of instead of Horatio Hornblower, why not Honor Harrington

If her adult form was Honor, then who was she as a (very) precocious child?  I mean, like annoyingly precocious. I saw her jumping on the ship and announcing to the crew that she was "Vorcolio, A.B. the greatest sailor in the world! And you will all be taking orders from me soon!"  Who from my readings would fit this mold? Easy. Pipi Longstalking.  Very soon a picture began to emerge.

Celeste, at age 12 runs away from home and jumps onto a ship to be a sailor. The laws at the time said she had to be 16 to join up, but she lied (her first lesson) to get on board.  She quickly proved that while she was a lot of talk, she was also willing to work hard. She took any and every job on the ship no matter how menial or difficult. She would whistle to herself and tell the crew that she wanted to know how to do everything on a ship so she could be a good captain.  When it was discovered that she lied about her age they were already too far out at sea.  The punishment for this was 10 lashes (it was a while back) she admitted she had lied and submitted herself to her punishment. All her other crewmates moved by her work and her willingness to stick to the rules, offered themselves up instead. In the end, the Captian agreed to not give her the lashes until a later date, but she had to learn the job of every crewman on the ship and be able to do it as good as they could.  She remained on that ship for years and when the time came to give her her punishment the Captain instead made her his first officer claiming that would be punishment enough.

She would later go on to have adventures of her own, find her Rhy-fen companion Jarry the Dolphin,  enroll in the Naval Academy where she would butt heads against other officers, fight giant sea monsters and pirates, battle with other Navies, and generally lived her life on the deck of on ship or another.

I don't know how she died.  I don't know when she started a family. I am inclined to say that in her later years she adopted a child and raised them as her own. I think that like many sailors, before and after, her only true love was the sea. 

There are no character stats for Celeste. When you get to Garnet she will have been dead a hundred years, unless you believe the talk of old sailors and they say she is still on the deck of her ship, The Stormalong, sailing the clouds of the storms.  If you listen close you can hear her shouting orders to her crew and laughing at the thunder and lightning.

Welcome to Garnet

Green Ronin currently is taking pre-orders for print of Six of Cups.  Order now and get $5 off AND for just $5 more (so retail price) you also get the PDF right now!  That is a hell of a deal.


Dick McGee said...

Well cripes, with those inspirations she ought to be awesome. You're one of about four people I've ever run into who knows the A.B. Stormalong stories, and I'm afraid Ms. Longstocking isn't well-known these days.

Tim Knight said...

I'd heard of those other Tall Tales, but Stormalong was new to me. This is a brilliant piece of background work, Tim. I'm guessing there's probably a statue to Celeste in the city?

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Yeah old Stormy's tales don't get the retelling these days.

@Tim. There is! For years the statue of Adm. Vorvolio stood in the city square, but when Jaelin (also from Garnet) was chosen as Sovereign her statue went up in the square, and Celeste's was moved to the atrium of the Naval Academy.