Earthquakes, Old Parr, and Dracula’s Guest

(Esteemed KARTAS patreon-backer Loius Sylvester asked some questions about The Dracula Dossier, and they were marginally more my wheelhouse than Ken’s, so…)

I have been reading Dracula Unredacted alongside Klinger’s New Annotated Dracula and I am about halfway through both books. I have a few questions.

1) The dates in Unredacted do not match the Annotated. In fact, the events are off by half a year. Why is this? Surely the reasons are deeper than because Stoker changed his mind while editing.

 This one has a simple answer – to match the dates of historical earthquakes. The earthquake that destroyed Dracula’s castle genuinely happened. (So, for that matter, did the 1940 quake and the 1977 quake – and, admittedly, lots of other quakes.) Stoker’s edits hides the vital connection between vampirism and tectonic activity, giving cover to Edom’s earthquake machine/the telluric nature of vampires/whatever else you’re hanging off the ‘earthquake’ peg.

 2) Why did Ken decide to push back the return of Jonathan Harker to London in Unredacted? How does the altered timeline affect the story for players of the Unredacted campaign?

 The original inspiration for the delay in Harker’s return was added so we use the events of Dracula’s Guest. For those who aren’t up to date on their Stoker trivia, Dracula’s Guest is a short story that was originally part of the opening sequence of Dracula ­– an English traveller explores a tomb and encounters a female vampire. We moved it from the start of the story to the middle, and wanted to put Quincey Morris (who’s tragically underused in the edited version) in as the unlucky explorer.

A lot of moving of narrative parts ensued; we ended up justifying Morris’ trip by having him escort Mina to Budapest to find her husband Jonathan Harker in hospital, and having him travel on from there. If Quincey’s goes with Mina, then Mina can’t leave for Budapest until after Lucy’s death; if Mina’s in England during the time when Dracula’s preying on Lucy, then Mina must not be in London, so we moved her to Exeter. That meant we needed more links between London and Exeter to pass messages back and forth, which gave Kate Reed more to do. I could go on for a long time about the juggling of timelines and texts, but the point is: our goal wasn’t pushing back Harker’s return, our goal was sending Quincey Morris off to star in Dracula’s Guest. Harker’s delay was a side effect of that change.

That said – delaying Harker’s return works quite well. It adds tension, as now there’s more time for Mina to worry about her husband, and it let us have more material involving Peter Hawkins, Kate Reed and the other Unredacted characters like Cotford, Singleton and Aytown. It also means Harker’s experiences at Castle Dracula were more traumatic to him, as it takes him much longer to recover.

3) How is the legend of Old Parr connected to vampire lore?

Old Tom Parr was a Shropshire farmhand who allegedly lived for 152 years. It’s much more likely that confusion arose between his and his grandfather’s date of birth, and that Parr either chose not to correct this misapprehension or was himself hazy on how old he was – he never claimed to be able to recall historical events from the previous century. Parr became a minor celebrity for his longevity (and for fathering a child out of wedlock at the age of more than 100). The Earl of Arundel brought him to London to meet King Charles I, but the strain was too much for him, and Parr died. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.

He’s mentioned in Dracula as an example of a natural phenomenon that science cannot explain. There, he’s just a throwaway reference – but if you want to tie him more closely to the Unredacted experience, there are some suggestive hooks in his tale.

  • The 14th Earl of Arundel, Thomas Howard, was both ambitious and well-travelled. He’s known as the ‘Collector Earl’ – he collected sculptures, drawings and manuscripts on his travels across Europe. Who knows what secrets he uncovered in the vaults of Rome or Istanbul – or Bucharest? Even if Howard didn’t bring a vampire back to England, he may have discovered clues that would later inspire Operation Edom or the X Club. The Earl’s collections have mostly ended up in various British museums – finding out what went astray along the way may be illuminating.
  • It’s interesting, too, that he arranged for Parr to be autopsied by William Harvey, the physician who wrote De Motu Cordis, a landmark analysis of the circulatory system of the body – just the man you want if you suspect supernatural influences in the blood!
  • Old Parr lived near Alberbury in Shropshire. Notably, in World War II, the British army constructed a huge ammunition depot in the area, and one section was built under Alberbury – specifically, under the grounds of Loton House, an ancient country house outside the village, complete with a 14th century ruined castle. We’re not saying that Old Parr was the Renfield of a vampire who lived in Alberbury and was later captured and imprisoned by Edom in a purpose-built underground bunker disguised as an incendiary weapons dump, but…
  • A final note – the Earl of Arundel’s London home has, through many reconstructions and changes of ownership, ended up as the headquarters of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, an international affairs & defence think-tank who are just the sort of people who’d write a white paper on the question “hey, what should we do with the tame vampire we’ve got locked up under Loton Park?

The Dracula Dossier reveals that Dracula is not a novel. It’s the censored version of Bram Stoker’s after-action report of the failed British Intelligence attempt to recruit a vampire in 1894. Kenneth Hite and Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan have restored the deleted sections, inserting annotations and clues left by three generations of MI6 analysts. This is Dracula UnredactedFollow those clues to the Director’s Handbook, containing hundreds of encounters: shady NPCs, dangerous locations, conspiratorial nodes, and mysterious objects. Together they comprise The Dracula Dossier — an epic improvised, collaborative campaign for Night’s Black Agents, our award-winning vampire spy thriller RPG. Purchase the Dracula Dossier starter kit bundle in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

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