Most people know me through my work on Vampire: The Masquerade or White Wolf/Onyx Path RPG books in general. Not many know that I also do a lot of work in fiction and on other RPGs, covering a range of topics. This “A Taste Of” series features samples of my work from areas most people might not know about, along with places you can buy the book to read more!
Moving away from the World of Darkness, Mark Truman of Magpie Games (and now, of Firefly RPG fame) asked me to write for two anthologies, both for games he Kickstarted that ended up acquiring anthology stretch goals. The first was for By No Means Vulgar, a collection of “remixed” Shakespearean stories. I decided to take a 1940s spin at Hamlet, which ended up being “I Knew Him.”
Danny Hamlet? Yeah, I knew him. He was a messed up kid, always talking to himself and changing his mind, but his heart was in the right place. And look where that got him.
For the record, my name’s Dominic Horatio. I worked for the Elsinore family, in the “organized crime” sense of the word. I was the guy who kept accurate records of the money, and another set of records for the cops to find. You probably know the story – old Don passes away (heart attack the coroner says, but some people whisper poison), his brother Claudius takes over, marries the pretty young thing the Don had who ain’t so pretty or young anymore, blah blah blah. His son Danny took the whole thing real hard. My own dad was killed by a bomb back in the Old Country, so we shared drinks and talked about lost fathers and trying to get on with life.
The problems all started when two of the boys, Francisco and Bernard, were packing up an old safehouse and found a thick envelope with Danny’s name on it. They gave it to me for some reason (they weren’t exactly hired for the size of their brains, if you catch my drift), and I recognized the Don’s handwriting right away. I called Danny over to my office and gave him the envelope. Unopened. Hey, I ain’t no snoop.
Once he was done reading it, he looked up at me. “My father thinks Claudius killed him, and he wants revenge.” Danny said it just like that – wants – like at any moment the old Don would walk in and start laughing and joking like old times.
“He was a good man, Danny.”
He put the letter into his jacket pocket. “I have to know, Horatio. I have to do it.”
“That’s crazy,” I said. I didn’t mean it like that, but it just… slipped out. Like I said, I always knew the kid was a little soft in the head.
Danny didn’t pick it up, lost in his own thoughts. “No, not crazy, but I’ll… I’ll pretend to be crazy, ranting and raving, you know? Then I can find out what really happened, and take Uncle Claudius down if I need to. Then my father will be happy. My real father.”
I didn’t have the heart (or maybe the guts) to tell him this was a bad idea, so I left him to it. I told myself it would be okay if I kept an eye out, just in case things got bad.
And brother, did they get bad in a hurry.