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Stumptown - Dex Parios P.I. - Hand raised

Dex Parios, P.I.


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

Context

Ms. Parios is the heroine of the Stumptown comic book series of miniseries. Yes, this sentence would be simpler if the English language had a singular form for the word “series”. But you take what you can and bill the rest.

Them’s written by WORG-favourite author Greg Rucka , and drawn by Matthew Southworth  (then Justin Greenwood ), and published by Oni.

Our profile covers all stories up to 2016, which IIRC means four collected volumes. It *doesn’t* discuss the investigations themselves to limit S P O I L E R S, but it covers everything we know or can guess about Dex’s past.

RCTID

Stumptown are noir investigation stories set in 2010s Oregon, primarily Portland. They’re not whiz-bang high action, nor Cluedo whodunit puzzle stuff. It’s more of a slice-of-life, atmospheric, human interest material.

While I was collating my notes I randomly learned we were but months away from a TV adaptation (starring Cobie Smulders ). So I guess I can remove the comparison to a TV series from the previous paragraph, and note that any TV material isn’t covered in this profile.

Oh, and “Stumptown” is one of the nicknames of Portland.


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Background

  • Real Name: Dexedrine Callisto Parios.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Ansel Parios (brother), Fuji Cassandra Parios (sister).
  • Group Affiliation: Owner, sole employee and primary investigator of Stumptown Investigations.
  • Base of Operations: 1305 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Portland, OR.
  • Height: 5’4″ Weight: 135 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown. Hair: Brown.
  • Other Distinguishing Features: Ring tattoo around the right biceps ; multiples tats around the left biceps and shoulder ; three piercings on right ear (covered by her hair).


Powers & Abilities

Dex is a licensed and bonded Private Investigator. The “bonded” part means that she’s been vetted by a bond deposit agency, giving her clients an insurance against being defrauded.

She’s experienced, smart and observant. However, the stories are realistic. What she manages is within the bounds of what a competent real-world detective can achieve.

Ms. Parios initially avoids being armed, though she may wear a concealed bullet-resistant vest. This gradually changes as she runs into more cases where being armed is necessary.

But she doesn’t routinely carry a firearm, she doesn’t use less-than-lethal ordnance (such as sprays), and she’ll work to avoid violence even at personal risk to herself. If she expects an armed confrontation to take place, Dex won’t barge in with three shotguns and an axe. She’ll call the cops, unless there’s a reason not to.


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Other assets

She has brawling experience, and presumably unarmed combat training. However, since these are realistic stories, she won’t be able to make much headways against people with 50+ lbs on her. Unless she can catch them flat-footed.

Dex also has significant military training and experience. Howbeit, its nature is unrevealed. It presumably included human-source intelligence gathering (as opposed to electronic sources) and interrogation.

Parios doesn’t use any specialised equipment. Generally, her finances are such that she can afford very little, unless her client is forking for it. Even dressing up might be a problem, as the entirety of her presentable wardrobe can be crammed within a midsize backpack.

Still, she does have a camera with a big telephoto lens, for surveillance. But it doesn’t look recent.

Checking out the reports, digging up the dirt

As with most realistic investigators, Dex relies on her people skills. Depending on the need she can be charming, intimidating, authoritative, approachable and friendly, etc..

Stumptown - Dex Parios P.I. - Smirk and bruise

Reading people is at least as important as deductive intelligence in her line of work. She’s also good at making people feel that it’s okay to talk to her. It doesn’t work on everyone, but people who’d like to talk about their problems often feel that they can confide in her.

Dex Parios can remain uncommonly collected under stress. It’s not entirely reliable – depending on fatigue, her emotional state, etc.. But more often that not, she can enter dangerous situations with a cool head.

She’s also resistant to intimidation. This too isn’t an absolute, but the more pressure is exerted to scare her off, the more she pushes back.

One of Dex’s few friends is Tracy Hoffman, from her soccer team. Tracy is also a police detective with the Portland Police Bureau . Though their interests do not always converge, Det. Hoffman is normally willing to help Ms. Parios by doing quick database checks, ensmoothening procedures, and the like.

More assets

Ms. Parios is a remarkable driver. One gets the impression she took tactical driving classes. This is not a normal part of her activity, but on the few occasions where she was involved in a car chase or tactical maneuvering, she did so with genuine skill.

She is more knowledgeable about soccer than any 12 non-Latinx, non-Cascadian, non-lesbian Americans. She’s also an adequate goalkeeper.

One the other hand, she frequently knows ill luck when it comes to random damage to her car, and spilled beverages.


Soundtrack

Okay, Portland circa 2010… Uh, there’s a lot of choice here. And most of them will have irate people yelling “hipsters !”, which is great.

But in actuality, I’m just trying to cover the fact that it was going to be Sleater-Kinney in any case.

(I almost picked the version with Gerard Way instead since, well, we’re primarily a comics site. But the album version works better as a soundtrack, though it has no Way, José.)

 

Available for download on Amazon .


History (part 1)

Dex Parios’ full given name is “Dexedrine”, which I’d argue constitute extenuating circumstances for parenticide.

Dexedrine is a brand name for a type of amphetamines. It is usually prescribed for ADHD . Or any condition that was discussed at the expensive symposium the physician was invited to by the pretty lady with the fitted business suit.

It is also commonly used as a stimulant and party drug, with a robust chunk of the US population being on Dex, Adderall or comparable dextroamphetamine at any given point.

(I almost made a joke about dextroamphetamines and Turian physiology. But even by writeups.org standards that would be sort of geeky.)

Dex has a sister, Fuji. Fuji paints, but this earns her too little and too irregularly. As a result she lives as a conniving parasite, running tiny grifts, abuses of trust/hospitality and emotional manipulations. She seems completely irresponsible, amoral, and unable to think long term.

Their parents also seem dysfunctional, though nothing specific was mentioned.

Since Dex remains capable of reciting Shakespeare, one can imagine that she was with the theatre club during her studies.

Chromosome 21

Dex is also the primary caretaker for her younger brother Ansel, who has Down Syndrome . He evidences the typical physical manifestations (such as slanted eyes and poor muscle tone), mild stuttering, and a mild intellectual disability – with an IQ in the 70s or so.

He seems to function at about the level 12-year-old, and is emotionally vulnerable. Ansel is also scared of being alone at night.

Ms. Parios takes great care of her little brother, making him feel safe and loved. This allows Ansel to act in a friendly and trusting manner, making him a popular young man.

Ansel works part-time. Though this is minimum-wage shelves-stocking stuff, Dex commented that on some months Ansel earns more than she does.

Ansel spends a lot of time on his Xbox, playing Halo and soccer games. It also helps him manage his anxiety when he fears that his big sister is in trouble.

Like his sister, he’s a soccer fan and a Portland Timbers supporter.

Strength through intelligence

Though she hates talking about it, Dex is a former military officer. While it wasn’t confirmed it would seem that she went to West Point, was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, then went on to take the Human Intelligence Collection courses at the Army Intelligence Center in Arizona.

Stumptown - Dex Parios P.I. - House and mustang

From there she joined the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion. This in turn meant deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Her exact role(s) are unrevealed, as the 519th does many kinds of jobs.

In unrevealed circumstances, Captain Parios resigned from the service. It was mentioned that it wasn’t too long before she’d make Major, so she presumably served for nine years.

Chronologic

Now, we have the usual issues with chronology in comics. The stories began in late 2009. But we don’t know how much time passes for the characters, or whether there’s a “sliding time” effect.

However, from a storytelling standpoint, two *possibilities* are :

  • Dex enlisted after the 2001 Al Qaeda terror attacks, and left circa 2010. The Stumptown stories all happen in the early-to-mid 2010s.
  • Dex enlisted during the 1990s. She was discharged during or after the wanton torture, rapes, etc. the 519th conducted during the early 2000s. The Stumptown stories take place during the late 2000s.

History (part 2)

In unchronicled circumstances, Dex Parios established herself as a Private Investigator in Portland. This is presumably her hometown, as she seems intimately familiar with it.

Her chronicled cases :

The case of the girl who took her shampoo but left her mini

The grand-daughter of Mrs. Suppa has gone missing. A friend of Dex and Ansel, the hard-knitting Suppa matriarch also runs a large off-reservation casino near Portland. I guess she’s from the Lower Umpqua folks .

Dex’s casino tab being way bigger than her income, she has little choice but to take the job. But she soon uncovers inconsistencies about Charlotte Suppa’s disappearance… and the most dangerous crime lord in Oregon seems involved.

The case of the baby in the velvet case

The guitarist of the nationally acclaimed Portland rock band Tailhook had her favourite guitar stolen. Since hard-partying artists and the police do not mix, she hires Stumptown Investigations to find her beloved instrument.

The case seems straightforward enough, though the client is unusually naïve and spacey. But Dex’s investigation soon runs into murderous skinheads, and a pair of D.E.A. agents who do not quite seem to get this “civil rights” thing. Something nasty is going on…

(The client, musician Miriam Bracca, is also the protagonist of Greg Rucka’s novel A fistful of rain .)

The case of the king of clubs

After a heated soccer match between the Portland Timbers and their eternal Seattleite rivals, one of Dex’s best friends, Mercury, is beaten into a coma. This does a number on Parios’ nerves, dragging back PTSD  triggers as her friendship with Mercury dates back to her Army days.

As Dex starts coming apart police, mob and political pressure quickly mount to avoid the appearance of hooliganism in US soccer matches. But with the help of Ms. Banes, a PI from the reviled “fishing village” (Seattle), Ms. Parios begins to understand who assaulted Mercury and why…

The case of a cup of joe

Dex is hired as a courier, to ferry a grotesquely expensive sample of kopi luwak  for a Pacific Northwest coffee millionaire.

Parios doesn’t have the palate to grok  connoisseur java of debatable value. But what she does realise is that odd people are after the coffee samples. And they are entirely willing to use violence and corruption to get it…


Video

A short (four minutes) TV segment about the Portland Timbers Army, the ultras who count Dex Parios as a tifosa (and play a major role in one story arc).

It shows some of the tifo’s  traditions, colours and brief bits of the chants.


Description

Dex is a White woman in her early 30s, with straight shoulder-length hair.

Some art has her with green eyes, other with blue, some with medium brown, some with dark eyes. Because comic book colourists hate us characters profilers personally and want us to suffer for no damn reason. If they’re doing it because of the incident with the dog, once again it wasn’t me.

(Since Cobie Smulders has light grey eyes and people pay way more attention to TV than to comics, I suppose we could make that Dex’s stated eyes colour.)

She’s almost always dressed in a casual, practical manner. Leather jacket, polo shirt or plain tee, slacks or jeans, sensible shoes.

It’s not rare for her to sport bruises from a bad encounter.

Multiple characters comment about her attractiveness. She’s no big-time knockout, but despite her crappy lifestyle she’s pretty and in fine shape.


Personality

Dex smokes too much, drinks too much, gambles too much, sleeps too little, and couldn’t manage her finances if the banknotes bit her when she spends them. So I’d guess she’s be pretty average, eh.

When judged by pre-Great Recession mainstream standards, Dex’s life is a small dumpster fire. She seldom has more than three digits on her bank account, no reliable source of employment, no relationships, erratic hours, is routinely exposed to physical danger with no backup, etc..

But though she’s well aware of that, it’s not genuinely important for her.

What’s important for Ms. Parios is to help people in trouble. This isn’t readily apparent in her everyday behaviour, as it seems that she’s simply doing the job and taking the cheque. But it’s her actual, core drive and what makes her life worth living. She’s just a good person, and she despises injustice.

Though she has a heart of gold, Dex is also a pain in the arse. She’s passionate about her work, she has a temper, and once she’s on the warpath she ain’t gonna stop for anything.

Darkness on the edge of town (part 1)

As a P.I., Dex is largely outside of society. She mostly accepts that, and that she’ll never have an ostentatiously successful, happy, instagrammable life. She lives in the margins and in near-poverty, in a twilight world full of violence, abuse and treachery.

Stumptown - Dex Parios P.I. - Car chase and joke

Ms. Parios’ role in the universe is to be the last chance for desperate people in deep doo-doo. Though of course the bulk of her cases are less dramatic than that, and more about marital indiscretions or thefts.

She usually acts in a congenial and funny manner, though stress will get in the way of that. However, if she feels that she’s facing abuse that society won’t check, Dex will gradually harden and become more ruthless until she can put an end to it.

Darkness on the edge of town (part 2)

There’s a vibe that Parios is trying to atone for something. But it’s a mostly reactive process. Normally she’s just working and doing surveillance, routine leads-checking, interviews, etc.. But the more threats and pressure are applied against her, the harder she’ll hit back. The higher the stakes rise, the tougher and more fearless she gets.

Since she fits the legacy of literary American gumshoes, Dex has a firm but unspoken code of honor. She never betrays a client even if offered a much larger sum, she maintains client confidentiality even when threatened, she always defends the defenceless, etc..

She also reacts… strongly whenever anybody hurts her brother in any way.

Other traits

Dex doesn’t do well with authority figures, even though she has a military background. The more one tries to corral her and make her behave, the more insolent she gets. She’s also terrible at toning it down. She’s loud-mouthed, and she’s *absolutely* not going to shut up and ignore injustice.

Dex is bisexual. In practice she usually ends up with blokes, though she likes it when a cute woman flirts with her. However, Parios seems unable to handle relationships beyond one-night stands. This is presumably due to PTSD issues. If some sort of lasting romantic rapport rears its ugly head, she’ll emotionally freeze and semi-ghost her way out.

Her PTSD is kept as firmly locked down as she can, and one suspects she’s on meds (Zoloft would be the usual). It manifests when she’s scared of losing friends from her youth and Army days, and when she’s afraid of creating ties with people she might then lose. Parios likely hasn’t made any friends since she mustered out.

She has a good sense of humour and can be pretty witty. However, she doesn’t run around making jokes. The wit mostly comes out when she’s trying to be charming… or insufferable. She excels at both.

Gooooooaaaaaaaaallllllll

Ms. Parios is an avid soccer fan in a city that loves soccer. She strongly supports the Portland Timbers , as does her brother Ansel (who is also a Barça  fan).

Dex plays with the Real Pain club, which I *assume* is with the Northwest United Women’s Soccer league . Fittingly, she’s a goalkeeper – the last line of defense, away from the rest of the team, at the edge of the field.

(“Real pain” is presumably a reference to the Real Madrid Club de Fútbol , a *major* Spanish club. So it’s the Spanish word “Real”, not the English one, meaning “Royal”. Yeah, explaining the pun kinda kills it.)

Her RCTID attitude (“Rose City ’til I die”, “Rose City” being another nickname for Portland) also means that she has to detest Seattleites (or “flounders”) and their sports teams. It is *mostly* a joke. But joke about it long enough…


Quotes

Dangerous crime boss: “You’re looking for Charlotte Suppa and please, spare me the asinine denials and claims of confidentiality. Who hired you ?”
Dex: “I can’t answer that.”

(On the phone) “… because when I went to meet her, I found two guys who tried to kill me, instead… […] No, of course I’m not dropping the case…”

“I didn’t blackmail you. I offered you a deal, but since it looks like you won’t honour it… now comes the part where I do blackmail you. I made copies of the laptop’s hard drive, Mr. Marenco. Three copies, actually.”

Client: “Don’t you want to talk terms ? A contract ?”
Dex (shaking her head and smiling): “500 dollars retainer, we’ll work an hourly rate. I’ll talk to Mr. Pullano, take it from here.”

Irate DEA agent: “I asked you a question.”
Parios (smirking): “Yeah, but I just asked you a better one.”

“Okay, I can see this going a number of ways. First, you guys do something dumb and I get to shoot you. That’s honestly my preference. I really don’t like you guys. You’re racists, you’re idiots, you’re violent, and you broke into my office… so the self-defense plea is a no-brainer, really.”

“They shot a cop, Mim. They don’t have anything left to lose. Hold on.” (pushes her old Mustang to 105)

(Muttering to herself as she runs) “They can’t have gone far… unless they left in a car in which case they *have* gone far and I’m totally fucked… which would be par for the course, really, way things have been going…”

“There are two kinds of people who hire me to find out if their spouse is cheating on them, Mrs. Bowman. The ones who hope they are, and the ones who are praying they’re not. Let’s go answer your husband’s prayers.”


Other Universes History

As a P.I. in a non-coastal city, Dex can exist in practically any modern-ish version of the US. And with the noir vibe, she can easily exist even in settings with a pulps-ish vibe such as the Nocturnals, as long as women aren’t too societally constrained to be detectives.

Part of Stumptown’s charm is being firmly set in Portland, with heavy use of real places, buildings, localisms, etc. to make it all feel grounded and credible.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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Dex Parios

Dex: 03 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Upholding Good
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 04 Occupation: P.I.
Inf: 03 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Wealth: 003
Init: 010 HP: 015

Skills:
Charisma (Interrogation): 04, Detective (Clue analysis, Legwork): 04, Medicine (First aid): 02, Military science (Cartography): 03, Vehicles (Land): 04, Weaponry (Firearms): 03

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (General Portland area), Familiarity (Military equipment and protocols, Soccer, Shakespeare plays, Organised crime lore (particularly the maras)), Misc.: Dex has a P.I. license.

Connections:
Portland Police Bureau (Low), CK Banes (Seattleite private investigator, Low).

Drawbacks:
Debt 1 (Keeping her car running, only during the first two TPBs), MPI (PTSD)

Genre:
Real.

Equipment:

  • Cellphone, obvs. It doubles as a flashlight, and can record a fair bit of video.
  • 1964 convertible Ford Mustang. Given the disparaging remarks about Dex’s first-gen pony car, I’d assume it’s a V6 engine. Since it’s a ’64 model, it had a 3-speed manual transmission. The car routinely needed repairs due to its age, and sucked a good part of Dex’s income. It was wrecked during a case.
  • Fifth generation Ford Mustang convertible. Dex is gifted this brand-new car (which she’d never afford on her own) to replace her ’64. It’s not identified as a Mustang, the art isn’t detailed, and I’m not a cars guy – but the general styling match the early 2010s Mustangs.
    Though no air intakes are visible, it sports the signature stripes of a Mustang Shelby. It thus might be a 2013 GT500. If so it sports a 650hp 5.8 litres supercharged V8 block, meaning big girl performances (200+ mph top speed, 0.98g lateral acceleration, etc..)
  • CONCEALED BALLISTIC VEST [BODY 03, Blunting: 04, Limitation: Partial coverage (Vest), Drawback: Real armour].
    Presumably a level IIIA vest, worn without trauma inserts. She doesn’t wear it often – when she was definitely seen wearing it, she had to dig it out of storage. It looked more like a gender-neutral cut than a women’s contoured vest, so it presumably gets uncomfortable after a few hours.
  • Dex occasionally packs an unspecified .45 ACP handgun, presumably a M1911 variant. Since she was so attached to her ’64 Mustang, I suspect that her .45 might be a vintage model with an aura of cool.
    One random stab at it would be a 1970s Gold Cup National Match. These were specially-made for handgun marksmanship competitions among the military. No game stats difference, but these are particularly well-made and accurate .45s. As well as a small bit of American military history.
    [BODY 03, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 08, R#03].

Design notes

Dex’s Medicine and Military Science Skills are *assumed* from her Army background. They’re not demonstrated in the stories.

The stats for the vest are still in our 2000s style, since the revision of body armour stats hasn’t reached modern armour yet.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Stumptown comic books up to 2017.

Writeup completed on the 5th of July, 2019.

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