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Marie LaSalle le Tocsin (Jimmie Dale ally)

Le Tocsin

Marie Lasalle


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Background

  • Other Aliases: Marie LaSalle, The Silver Mag, and others
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Peter (father, deceased), unnamed mother (deceased), Henry (uncle, deceased)
  • Group Affiliation: None
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile, within New York City (circa 1915-20)
  • Height: 5’5” Weight: 114lbs Age: 20s likely
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Brown


Powers and Abilities

Marie “Le Tocsin” LaSalle is one of New York’s few inhabitants worthy of the title “mastermind.” Despite her well-hidden identity and the terrible danger of her presence being known, she is entirely on top of everything that happens in New York’s underworld. Not a single theft, murder, or swindle occurs without her hearing about it long beforehand (Scholar, Contacts, and Detective).

On top of this, Marie has almost exclusive and total control of an “agent,” Jimmie “Gray Seal” Dale, the best burglar to walk the rooftops of New York.

Marie is also, by necessity, very good at concealing her identity, even in cases where she would appear to have tipped her hand. For example, when dropping off a letter to Jimmie Dale in person, he thought he had her when he read her license plate. The plate turned out to be a counterfeit of one of Jimmie Dale’s own cars.


History

A more complete version of this, in Marie’s own words, can be found in the text described above, Part Two, Chapter IX, appropriately entitled, “The Tocsin’s Story.”

Generations ago, the LaSalle family left France for a new home, somewhere in the western United States. Among the few possessions they carried was a ring bearing their family crest within—a quaintly-designed bell, surmounted by a bishop’s mitre, atop the tiny scrollwork motto, “Sonnez le tocsin !”—”sound the alarm”, or literally, “sound the bugle”. Apt in the past and, unbeknownst to any of them, to be very apt in the future.

Over time, the only surviving relatives of this branch were brothers Henry and Peter. Close as they were, though, their lives diverged in practical aspects, Peter becoming a great businessman, and Henry moving to the Australian bush to become a sheep rancher whose sheep seemed to be lost every so often. His brother, though, was always keen to help the latter out of his latest fix.

Letters passed in an almost continual stream around the world, so that Henry knew of Peter’s daughter Marie, and the passing of Peter’s wife—Marie’s mother—a few short years later. When his wife died, Peter visited New York on business and, on corrupt advice, had a new will drawn up by one Hilton Travers.

In itself, this was safe—in the event of Peter’s death, Marie would inherit the estate, an estimated eleven million dollars, and appointed his brother Henry Marie’s guardian and estate executor until Marie’s twenty-fifth birthday, in exchange for one hundred thousand dollars. However, this safe-seeming lawyer, actually in the employ of the nefarious “Crime Club,” and new will set in motion a sequence of events behind the scenes that would not be visible for years to come.

The first part of this plan was to work on Henry LaSalle. One last time, he would lose his flock. However, before he had the opportunity to contact his brother again, he was given the opportunity to manage a highly successful ranch in New Zealand. He wrote to Peter about this change in status, well-satisfied.

Or, rather, someone posing as Henry LaSalle wrote—more specifically, typed—to Peter about this. Henry LaSalle was killed on the boat ride over, and an impostor stepped off in his place, as the next step of the Crime Club’s secretive and patient plot.

Meanwhile, Peter LaSalle was quite impressed with Travers, and brought him more business each year. After five years, as all of his business was moving through New York, anyway, he and Marie moved to the city, retired from the active aspects of his business, and began feeding his personal affairs through Travers’s office, as well.

With retirement upon him, Peter began to consider the long-desired possibility of visiting his brother, and taking his daughter to do the same. The plans were easily arranged, but “Henry” needed to cancel at the last minute, being sent on an emergency purchasing trip by his employer. Mere days later, Peter LaSalle was dead, supposedly by inoculation, but in reality, murdered with an untraceable poison—a specialty of the Crime Club.

Marie was introduced to her uncle and, sadly, life went on. For a week or so, at least. Marie, in a fit of insomnia about a month after the death of her father, overheard Travers and her “uncle” arguing with an unknown man.

The gist of the argument was simple : in order for the ringleader to benefit from the carefully-crafted, decade-long situation, the estate executor needed to be the sole inheritor of the estate, as well. This meant murdering young Marie LaSalle, in addition to her father and uncle, something against which Travers was taking a stand.

Knowing his life, too, was at risk, Travers abandoned the Crime Club, helped Marie escape from her own home, and set out for Australia and New Zealand to look for evidence of Henry’s murder and replacement, arranging to signal Marie on his return in the Morning News-Argus personal column.

Then, for five years, Marie was a woman on the run, living always in varied disguises, in all walks of life, though slowly establishing herself as “The Silver Mag” in the lower-class districts—an old hag who distributed silver coin to the families of convicts. In return, she won the loyalty of those families, and criminals in general, who all supplied her with information on crimes, particularly those that might be related to the LaSalle case.

After only two years, though, Marie stumbled upon help that she might enlist: Jimmie “The Gray Seal” Dale. Jimmie Dale, in haste, accidentally stole a string of pearls. Knowing him to be ethical and moral, and concerned about his family name, she chose to blackmail him into helping. For three years, the unique pairing saved many lives, thwarted potential Crime Club schemes, and indirectly gathered information on the ersatz Henry LaSalle and his cronies. Always, she would secretly pass him a letter with details of his mission, and always, he would escape successfully.

Over time, her secrecy slipped, here and there, mostly due (ironically, considering her hold over Dale) to haste on her part. A telephone call giving away her voice, a secret visit making her potentially recognizable to Dale’s butler, allowing the sight of her hand, and—most potentially damning of all—losing her glove and ring (with family crest) when breaking into his car.

Of course, she was too careful in other fields to supply Dale with enough information to discover her identity, which was important if he were to stay clear of Crime Club attacks, but it was dangerous, nonetheless.

Then, finally, the moment Marie had been waiting for arrived. Travers returned, and arranged contact. The proof existed, and was in his hands. Marie sent Dale to retrieve the package from the ex-lawyer, hoping that this would be sufficient security, but the Crime Club had tracked the old man, and had him killed in a traffic accident, with Dale in the car. Dale, knowing nothing at the time, and not having the package, yet, was released, but watched.

Eventually, he managed to escape his own home, and Marie went to him to tell him the entire story.

Armed with the truth, and the sight of the woman he had grown to love in absentia, he set out to make things right. After meeting with a long series of mishaps, that night, Dale confronted the ringleader of the Crime Club, himself.

Luck was on the hero’s side, and the Crime Club was destroyed on the spot. Unfortunately, it was at the expense of his “Larry the Bat” identity, which had served he and LaSalle so well, over the years. He raced to Larry the Bat’s tenement to destroy any evidence of Jimmie Dale’s contact with the place, followed quickly by Marie.

The two barely escaped the destruction of the tenement but, safe now, were able and willing to walk off into the sunset.


Description

We are never treated to Marie’s true face. The closest we come is: “The cape and hood had fallen from her, and with the hood had fallen the gray-streaked hair of Silver Mag—and now as she smiled at him it was from a face that was very beautiful and very brave and very full of tenderness,” and Jimmie Dale’s elderly butler Jason describing her as, “Very ladylike, sir, in her dress and appearance, and what I would call, sir, a beautiful face. I wouldn’t call her fair or dark, something between. I didn’t take particular notice, and it wasn’t overlight outside the door.”

Supposedly, she was also one of the most beautiful girls who had ever made her entree into New York society.

Beyond that, nothing.


Personality

Marie LaSalle has a rather contradictory persona. On the one hand, she is merciless and driven, sending even Jimmie Dale and Hilton Travers to almost certain death to procure some obscure piece of her puzzle or to help someone who may be in need. In this way, she bears more than a superficial resemblance to a certain Dark Knight whose exploits would be published a few short years after hers were complete.

On the other hand, though, Marie is very much a product of her era—or at least the fictionalization of the era—and is at least partly a fragile woman on the verge of collapse when things (particularly things that strike her close) begin to go wrong. She hates what the world has caused her to become, and what she has done to people who would have been her friends, as a result.

Despite this dark side, however, she is mostly a lighthearted character, reveling in the good she and Dale do, and also greatly enjoyed the game of cat and mouse she got to play with her partner over the years.


Quotes

“We are safe here, Jimmie, for a little while—but, oh, Jimmie, what have I done! What have I done to bring you into this—only—only—I was so sure, so sure, Jimmie, that there was nothing more to fear !”

“I am not wonderful, Jimmie. I—I’ve brought you into this—probably to your death. Jimmie, tell me what happened last night, and since then. I—I’ve thought at times to-day I should go mad. Oh, Jimmie, there is so much to say to-night, so much to do if—if we are ever to be together for—for always. Last night, Jimmie—the telephone—I knew there was danger—that all had gone wrong—what was it ?”

“But we do not hold many trumps, Jimmie. You have seen something of this Crime Club’s power, its methods, its merciless, cruel, inhuman cunning, and you, perhaps, think that you understand—but you have not begun to grasp the extent of either that power or cunning. This horrible organization has been in existence for many years. I do not know how many. I only know that the men of whom it is composed are not ordinary criminals, that they do not work in the ordinary way— to-day, they set the machinery of fraud, deception, robbery, and murder in motion that ten years from now, and, perhaps, only then, will culminate in the final success of their schemes—and they play only for enormous stakes. But you will see for yourself. I must not talk any longer than is necessary; we must not take too much time. You count on three days before they begin to suspect that all is not right with Jimmie Dale—I know them better than you, and I give you two days, forty-eight hours at the outside, and possibly far less.”


DC Universe History

No doubt, Marie would have moved to France after the occupation, and become Mademoiselle Marie during World War II. Sébastien points out that this is fairly absurd based on real world history. Seeing as how the DCU only marginally recognizes the history of the real world, I don’t see this as much of a problem.

For those who would like something with more realism, Marie would have been recruited into the O.S.S., and may have been dispatched, at least once, to serve as translator and liaison for Sgt. Frank Rock and Easy Company. One of the best way might to have her become special agent Fleur of the O.S.S.

On seeing the horrors of war, she would have transferred (legally or otherwise) into one of the Jedburgh Teams.

The Cat

As mentioned in Jimmie Dale’s writeup, I’m fond of the idea of he and LaSalle marrying and having a daughter named Selene. As a teenager, Selene is taken by Jimmie on a trip to Europe, but the plane crashes, rendering the girl amnesiac, and leaving her the sole survivor of the craft.

Selene marries a rich man, mostly for purposes of survival, but finds him to be abusive. She gets a divorce, but he threatens to have her killed. So, to raise enough money to effect an escape, she breaks in—using skills she learned from her father (and, through muscle memory, retains)—and steals some money and jewelry.

Feeling the thrill that her father must have, Selene becomes a burglar, herself, under the identity of the Cat, more or less the Golden Age Catwoman.

In standard comic book tradition, this was, in fact, staged by the man secretly behind the Crime Club. Seeking revenge on the enemies that nearly destroyed him, he has waited decades, and arranged not only the plane crash to kill Dale and break LaSalle’s heart, but also Selene’s violent marriage to guarantee that Selene would use her father’s talents for crime.

William suggests none other than Ra’s al Ghul as the devious mastermind behind the Crime Club.

The Bat

Upon discovering the Cat, Marie concludes that it must be her daughter. Unable to track the girl, herself, she takes a page out of her own book. She scours the underworld, looking for someone with the proper abilities and personality.

She comes across a burglar, newly arrived from the West Coast, who I’ll call Robert Kane. For the sake of moving the story along, I’m going to claim that Kane, on his trip east, stumbled upon Earl “The Bat” Westfall’s caverns, and planned to use that identity on his arrival.

Not coincidentally, Kane is also precisely Selene’s “type,” in hopes of attracting her attention that much more quickly.

Marie, like she had done twenty years before with her late husband, blackmails Kane without revealing her identity. Over the years, she sends Kane on various missions, sometimes doing good deeds, and other times directly pursuing the Cat.

One mission, in particular, sends The Bat to Scotland, to investigate rumors of a Nazi invasion of the United States. On Kane’s arrival, he runs across two other “mystery men,” Green Lantern and Hourman. Their gasps of surprise, however, give their position away, causing their capture and imprisonment in Berlin until the arrival of Dr. Fate.

This assemblage would eventually form the Justice Society of America at the suggestion of President Roosevelt, but Kane declines formal membership, knowing that his mysterious blackmailer would never approve, and not entirely trusting these others.

Not long after the Justice Society’s formation, Kane picks up a local orphan boy to act as his eyes and ears on the street. But, when Kane is captured by criminals, Marie directs the child to Westfall’s glider. The boy repaints the glider a bright red, and flies in to save his mentor as the Red Wing.

Meanwhile, time passes, and Marie eventually passes on. Kane, however, finds that he prefers helping people, and continues to do so. Lacking Marie’s resources, however, he joins the police force for inside information.

The Huntress

In the years that follow, the Bat eventually does capture the Cat, but secures her release soon after, for her help in capturing a maniac drugging the city water supply with hallucinogenics. The pair succeed, fall in love, and marry.

Their daughter, named Helena, of course, becomes the second Huntress, when her mother is blackmailed and killed by one of her former henchmen. This Huntress goes on to join the JSA, taking the place that her father rejected, and later, Infinity, Inc.

There’s probably more than enough wiggle room in the DCU to make Kane Gotham City’s Police Commissioner immediately preceding Jim Gordon, during Batman’s first year or so, which means that Kane gets to play the Golden Age Batman’s part in the JSA’s first revival.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Le Tocsin

Dex: 04 Str: 02 Bod: 02 Motivation: Seeking Justice
Int: 08 Wil: 08 Min: 07 Occupation: None
Inf: 07 Aur: 08 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 002
Init: 019 HP: 055

Skills: Artist (Actor, Writing): 07, Detective: 08, Military Science (Camouflage, Cartography, Tracking): 10, Thief (Stealth): 08

Bonuses and Limitations: Marie can use her Military Science/Camouflage Subskill to obscure her “trail” even in the nonphysical sense. To wit, anyone attempting to determine her identity adds (AP-wise) her APs of Camouflage to the existing OV/RV of the roll. Like in Character Interaction Attempts, the roll may be modified, or even obviated, if the parties involved would prefer to roleplay the analysis process.

Advantages: Area Knowledge (New York), Attractive, Connoisseur, Leadership, Local Hero (In the Underworld, as the Silver Mag), Scholar (Underworld happenings), Sharp Eye

Connections: Street (High), Jimmie Dale (High), Hilton Travers (High)

Drawbacks: Dark Secret (True Identity)


Future Statistics

By the end of the book, Marie’s Wealth is as high as 15 APs (though she might not have access to it, since she’s probably not yet twenty-five ; in this case, raise her Wealth to 5 APs and give her the Rich Friends Advantage), and her Dark Secret has been removed, possibly replaced by a mere Secret Identity, if she continues her Silver Mag guise.


Design Notes

  • Like the Gray Seal, revealing the Tocsin’s true identity is an almost certain death sentence for her, and certainly ruins her “career.” Therefore, she gets Dark Secret, rather than Secret Identity.
  • I gave her Attractive more as a genre convention than any actual evidence. It’s well in keeping with the character concept, I think.
  • Height and weight, of course, are rough guesses.
  • I considered giving her Traumatic Flashbacks, since she all but turns into a puddle whenever she thinks about her father’s murder. Eventually, cooler heads prevailed, and it was written off as roleplaying.
  • After due consideration, I also kept the modified Military Science/ Camouflage. It’s not perfect, but it covers all the bases I want covered without stretching anything too far.

By John Colagioia

Source of Character: The Adventures of Jimmie Dale by Frank L. Packard – available on IBiblio.

Helper(s): Sébastien Andrivet, Jay Myers, William A. Peterson, Kal El

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