Posts by Robert Fairbanks

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Bourgundian Parfumier: A Background

Not all (dramatic) changes to one’s lifestyle, calling, or ambitions are a result of social or financial decline. Some are simply decided upon. Regardless of your motivation or incentive for change, you have accepted that a comfortable life of research, science and business is—at least for now—a part of your past. As befits a native …

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Gambler: A Background

Blackleg or handicapper, punter, card-sharp or dicer, all far from flattering titles to be sure. Titles said to be born of avarice or desperation, addiction or recklessness. Many of those saddled with such colorful, yet shady depictions, might call them unfair or inaccurate. But to make one’s living by speculation, confidences, or games of chance …

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Smuggler: A Fifth Edition Background

Knife blades and harness buckles smeared with black soot; muffled oar-locks and a moonless, midnight-rendezvous, torchlights on the moors and signal lights beyond the breakers . . . Throughout the ages and across civilizations, there has and will always arise the inevitable desire, demand, even desperate need, for those things regulated or forbidden. These desires and …

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Gravedigger: A Fifth Edition Background

Yours was the dark cart that creaked down the predawn lanes with hooves, wheels, and driver shrouded in black cloth. Criminal or courtesan, rich man or rat-catcher; they all veered aside, seeking doorways and side streets at your approach. You served as the gallows-man, the night-wagon, and, at times, the plague-wagon. You may have been …

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Jan Matejko - Astronomer Copernicus Conversation with God

Astronomer’s Assistant (Apprentice): A Fifth Edition Background

Yours was to be the limitless heavens. As your master before you, you set your course to become a great navigator and cartographer of the stars and astral bodies. Later you would evolve into a revered soothsayer, advisor to kings and historians, or a renowned researcher and academician for the great churches, colleges, and wizards’ …

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1601 Adam Elsheimer, Judith Beheading Holofernes, 1601-03

Headsman: A Fifth Edition Background

What is missing or present that allows—or drives—an individual to ascend the scaffold and stretch taught the creaking rope? Or to flourish dramatically for the crowd before sending ringing steel through bone and wood? Is it greed, tradition, civic duty, or bloodlust? At best the secret lies within, whether known or buried deep. Who can …

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"Rattenfänger F 18Jh" by Anonymous (French) - Dobiaschofsky Auktionen. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

Rat Catcher: A Fifth Edition Background

Born into poverty and squalor, you spent your younger years unsupervised — hustling and haunting the shadier low districts and the crooked backstreets of the urban sprawl. Whether arrested (falsely accused?) for a string of petty infractions or answering the call of a city plagued with vermin, the city magistrates put to good use your …

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