In the past three weeks or so, more people have written op-ed pieces about Brexit and the ensuing fallout than actually voted in the referendum, but oddly, very few have discussed its effect on vampires (other than a few passing swipes at George Osbourne). What might Brexit mean for Dracula and your Dracula Dossier campaign?
(For those just tuning in from Promixa Centauri, there was a recent referendum on the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. ‘Leave’ won by a narrow margin in a victory that was unexpected even by most of the leaders of the Leave campaign, and has had the same effect on British politics as the rise of R’lyeh.)
Nothing Much… For Now
First off, the UK is still part of the EU, and will remain so for at least another two years. Probably longer – the process of leaving requires that the UK government activate Article 50, starting a two-year window for negotiation. However, this window can be extended, and there’s a lot of uncertainty over who’s going to actually press the ejection button and what needs to be done before the button’s pressed. Brexit need not affect your campaign at all – even the slowest hunters can hunt down and kill Dracula long before the breakup of the European Union.
That said, there’s a good argument that the Dracula Dossier works best as a creature of its times. Setting your game in, say, 2006 avoids unexpected geopolitical upsets intruding from the real world, and has the added benefit of making the survival of NPCs from the 1940s timeframe a lot more plausible. The Edom Field Manual has a longer discussion on future-proofing the Dossier, although it completely missed the possibility of Brexit, because it seemed absurdly improbable (absurdly improbable in a book about vampire spies, mind you.)
Even if the actual exit from the EU isn’t happening for some time, the referendum has already caused havoc in British politics. As I write, both major parties are in turmoil, and there are many questions over who’s going to be involved in the negotiations with the European Union. Anyone connected to politics in the UK or Europe is going to be preoccupied with Brexit and related matters for years to come.
- The Bureaucrat (Director’s Handbook, p. 108) might represent Romanian interests in the negotiations, or intercede with the British governments over attacks on Romanians living in the UK. If she’s a secret MI6 asset, her double loyalties may make her a key ally in the talks.
- “Mr. Hopkins” (DH, p. 117) is policy advisor to a Conservative MP – in the ongoing leadership battle for control of the party, he might decide having a group of deniable spies on his side is worth the risk. Just who leaked that email from Sarah Vine to the press? Could it have been your player characters?
- Philip Holmwood, Lord Godalming (DH, p. 43) might be seen as a pair of safe hands, and be given greater responsibility in the House of Lords, or even sent as a UK representative to NATO (to reassure them that Brexit won’t affect the UK’s military operations) or the EU (as a negotiator). If he’s one of Dracula’s minions, that puts the Count in a position to corrupt the Nato Liaison (DH, p. 125) or to advance the cause of Leutner Fabrichen (DH, p. 146)
- Iceland isn’t in the European Union, but it is in the greater European Economic Area, which is where the UK is also likely to end up. So, expect the Icelandic Diplomat (DH, p. 119) to be spending a lot of time in Brussels and London.
- The Journalist’s (DH, p. 120) phone goes to voicemail all the time now. Right now, “vampires exist and Count Dracula is real” might make page 4.
The Special Relationship
The alliance between the UK and the US isn’t going away, even though the US may bemoan the sudden loss of influence in Europe. Brexit may even increase the importance of Operation Edom, either with vampires as a bargaining chip – “you give us a trade deal, we give you the secret of the Seward serum for Nox Therapeutics” (DH, p. 162) – or as a cost-control measure, especially if MI6 positions Edom as more cost-effective than the alternatives. (“You could spend a lot of time and money establishing a network of agents, and tapping phones, and collating data, and then sending a drone in to do a strike that might hit that target – or, for one easy payment, we send in a vampiric assassin. I know we’re effectively selling our souls to the Devil incarnate, but that doesn’t show up on the Single Intelligence Account’s bottom line.”)
Violence & Racism
One of the most alarming effects of the referendum has been the increase in race-related abuse and attacks in the UK. Immigration was one of the major themes of the referendum, and the Leave victory seems to have brought the worst in British society out of the woodwork. Non-British player characters may attract unwanted attention; so might Romanians living in the UK. The Human Rights Activist (DH, p. 118) may need the assistance of the player characters in dealing with these attacks; the Satanic Cult of Dracula (DH, p. 55) might use racist thugs as cannon fodder against the player characters.
(Of course, one obvious reading of the novel Dracula is that it’s a warning about the horrors of swarthy Eastern Europeans emigrating to the fair shores of England, and no doubt Dracula used the open borders of the European Union to sneak his agents from Romania into England. As a staunch Guardian-reading Europhile, I must admit this is somewhat awkward.)
Scotland & the Vampiric Deterrent
Another possible repercussion of Brexit is the breaking up of the United Kingdom. Scotland voted to Remain in the European Union, and there’s already talk of a second independence referendum for Scotland so they can stay in the EU.
HMS Proserpine, Edom’s secret base (DH, p 169) is located off the Scottish coast on an disused oil rig. If Scotland became independent, the prisoners and any supernatural assets stored there would have to be relocated to England. It’s a lot easier to move a handful of illegal prisoners and (possibly) a vampire or two than it is to move the Royal Navy base at Faslane (for those who don’t know, the UK’s nuclear arsenal is based in Scotland…), but it would still be a major headache for Edom – and an opportunity for the player characters to do serious damage, if they ambushed the convoy from Proserpine on the way south. (Presumably, Edom would relocate its vampiric assets to its base in Exeter (DH, p. 167) or Ring (DH, p. 173), or to the old holding facility at Whitby (DH, p. 178) if it’s moving the assets by sea).
Alternatively, Edom has some experience in maintaining assets in other countries. It could resurrect the Treaty Ports solution mentioned in Hawkins Papers 17, relating to Dun Dreach-Fhola (DH, p. 235), giving Scotland independence but retaining control of a few key sites. Or it could run HMS Proserpine in secret.
(Gibraltar also voted to Remain, and there’s a secret Edom listening post there too, as per The Harker Intrusion in The Edom Files. Somewhere in Whitehall, Osprey (DH, p. 52) is getting extremely drunk with some despairing chaps from the Home Office as they contemplate sorting out this mess.)
Master of the Vampire Squid
Another potential casualty of Brexit is the City of London – the financial companies and bankers based there may be forced to move. Already, other financial centres in Europe are making overtures to the banks and fund managers – Frankfurt and Paris, Amsterdam and Dublin are all setting out their stalls. Why not Bucharest, too? Dracula would delight at the prospect of draining England’s financial lifeblood – mesmerising or suborning a few financial leaders could pay huge dividends, so to speak.
Financial uncertainty always drives up the price of gold, so Dracula might also take the opportunity to convert some of his hoarded coins to dollars while the Brexit chaos is in full swing.
Finally, who benefits from Brexit? Leaving aside the questions of British sovereignty and the economy, Brexit would definitely weaken the European Union, forcing it to look inwards to its own problems or even breaking it up entirely. Weakness in Europe emboldens Russia; could Dracula have helped cause Brexit’s unexpected win as part of his plans to seize control of Russia, as described in the Russian Roulette capstone (DH, p. 302)? Or did Edom – recalling days of Empire – decide that their control of Dracula made it all worth the gamble?