Arthur Conan Doyle
Writer, Doctor and Agent of The Club
by Olivier Legrand
As with his fellow authors, Jules Verne and Herbert George Wells, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the creator of Sherlock Holmes) occupies a very particular place in the world of Uchronia 1890: he is both an inspiration for the game and one its protagonists.
You may have noticed that what we've borrowed from the work of Doyle is most obvious in the realm of the Supporting Cast. Well read players will easily recognize Mycroft Holmes behind Sir Mortimer Grey, diabolic Professor Moriarty behind the equally evil Professor Barrymore and Moriarty's right hand man, Colonel Moran, behind our Colonel Thursdyke. Of course they've all been given a steampunk style as befits the setting. You can interpret these characters as simple homages to the writer or, in the game, as a "psychic echo" between our world and that of Uchronia 1890, between the fiction imagined by the real Doyle and the events "lived" by his uchronic alter ego. Keep in mind that the game is initiated in 1890 when the Sherlock Holmes stories are only beginning and none of the cast mentioned above had been introduced or imagined by their author. By uchronic logic perhaps it is Sir Mortimer who will inspire Doyle to create Mycroft, not the other way around...
DOCTOR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE
Vocation: Jack of All Trades
Assets: Accomplished Athlete, Hypnotist, Intuitive Mind, Medical Training, Nerves of Steel, Powers of Observation, Robust Constitution, Talented Storyteller*
|* Note: Apart from it's literary use the Asset Talented Storyteller that Dr. Doyle possesses can favor him in various situations, often making him a sparkling conversationalist who generally gets positive reactions in social situations.|
In 1890 Arthur Conan Doyle is 31 years old and practices medicine in London where he has recently settled with his wife Louisa. Previously he had been staying in Vienna where he received training as an occultist (see below). Since he has very few patients he has sufficient time to devote himself to his nascent literary career and to his more esoteric activities. Because, in the world of Uchronia 1890, Doyle is in fact an agent of The Club! He was recruited into this covert organization in 1888 following his involvement (as an amateur investigator) in the "Business at Bermond Hall" (a strange story concerning Professor Barrymore's experiments with the Fourth Dimension and the transportation of matter).
As previously mentioned the purpose of his recent visit to Vienna was not related to studying opthamology. Instead it was to have the noted Professor Hesselius initiate Doyle into the secrets of hypnotism and magnetism. As he continues to practice with his new and invaluable aptitudes will soon be considered an expert in the fields of hypnosis, psychic abilities and spiritual phenomena by his faction's superiors.
But if he becomes so useful to The Club what happens to his literary career? So far Doyle has published only two accounts of Sherlock Holmes: "A Study in Scarlet" and "The Sign of Four". They may have gained him some public notice by he is far from being a celebrity author. In our world the extraordinary Holmes phenomenon will not start until 1891 with the publication of "A Scandal in Bohemia" in the popular Strand Magazine. Perhaps in the world of Uchronia 1890 Doyle's clandetine activities will prevent him from becoming a literary legend... unless his new interests inspire him in new directions. Let us not forget that the creator of Sherlock Holmes was also the creator of Professor Challenger, the man who explored the Lost World and delved into the mysteries of the unknown... perhaps in Uchornia Doyle's actual experiences with the occult lends an authenticity to the Challenger stories that captures the imagination of the public and makes him more popular that Holmes!
The idea to make Doyle a specialist in the spiritualism and mesmerism is not plucked out of thin air but represents a uchronic reflection of the events that really happened to the author, only much later. Indeed it is after the First World War and the subsequent death of his son that Doyle immerses himself in spiritualism. He had been interested in the subject out of simple curiosity for several years but after his son's death he became one of spiritualism's most strident defenders. He began writing and lecturing on the subject with the aim of converting the general public to this new form of faith and hope of life after death. Sometimes his work led him to uncover charlatans but he was also duped himself, specifically in regards to the photographs of the Cottingley "Fairies".
In the world of Uchronia 1890 Dr. Doyle will become an expert in psychic phenomena but in a fashion that is much more involved than in the real world (thanks to the influence of The Club) and much earlier (he begins his training in 1888 as mentioned above). His understanding of the supernatural will also be more "scientific" than in real life, since the phenomena are real in Uchronia they are more measurable and quantifiable. Instead of being an enthusiastic proselyte the Dr. Doyle of Uchronia regards Spiritualist "philosophy" as a veil of fog masking a reality infinitely more complex and deserving to be explored to the limit of human potential. This drive will make him a true "Challenger" of the unknown.