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Prends tout en gré, ne te chaille de rien.

Context

Tiffany d’Arc appears in a pair of 2006/2008 French graphic novels, by writer Yann (Yann Le Pennetier) and artist Herval (Hervé Nau).

It is strong work. With crisp writing, strong characterisations, old school crime novel plotting (within the limits of 45-pages comics), and a clean and airy art style.

But it’s not going to work as an export. There’s a *high* density of culturally specific jokes and references.

This profile doesn’t detail the investigations. But it S P O I L S an important event that happens about two-fifths into the first GN.


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Background

  • Real Name: Tiffany d’Arc.
  • Other Aliases: “Tif”.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Jeanne d’Arc (great-great-great-etc. aunt), Donatien d’Arc (brother, deceased), Dr. Edwige d’Arc (mother).
  • Group Affiliation: Tiffany detective agency (owner).
  • Base of Operations: Paris.
  • Height: 5’7″ Weight: 105 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Black.


Powers & Abilities

Tiffany makes most of her living as a maître d’armes (“master of arms”) — a fencing instructor.

She seems to have a high level, though perhaps not quite an Olympic competitor one. Keeping in mind that France is traditionally one of the “big five” in Olympic fencing, so the competition is a stern one.

She seems to study historical French and Italian fencing styles.

Tiffany has of course a robust fitness regimen. She can also throw a decent punch.

Ms. d’Arc is a solid amateur sleuth. She has a good power of observation and deduction. She lacks the experience of a real police detective, but she has a stronger general knowledge base than most.


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Guided by voices

Tiffany can frequently “overhear” the internal monologue of persons near her. But she cannot probe minds. It has to be a formalised thought that the person is having right now, and Tif has to focus her attention.

She can also overhear thoughts without focusing, if they are about her. But normally that’s limited to sensing lustful thoughts from nearby guys. So that part isn’t the greatest super-power.

Her gift stops working when she’s in love. It doesn’t seem to be the specific emotion, but its intensity. When d’Arc falls in love, she jumps in with both feet and that eats up much of her mental bandwidth.

OTOH, knowing precisely when you fall out of love is useful information.

Curiously, her gift also works on incoming phone calls. She can predict a few seconds beforehand who is going to call and what they want to say.


La pucelle

Ms. d’Arc is a direct descendant of one of the brothers of French national heroine Jeanne d’Arc (1412-1431) .

On the face of it, I’d say Pierre d’Arc. However, if the story doesn’t specify it’s presumably to avoid “overwriting” actually existing descendents of Jeanne’s brothers. So we might also imagine that Tiffany is descended from a fictional, additional brother.

Likewise, the ancestral castle of the d’Arc family is fictional. As is the town of Sainte-Claire-la-Bretèche where the Castle d’Arc is located.

That Tiffany d’Arc can hear the inner voices of others is a reference to Jeanne d’Arc famously hearing the voices of saints and angels encouraging her to pick a sword and kick butt.


Soundtrack

As it happens, a few years before the graphic novels came out there was a tasteful album by the scion of the de Truchis de Varennes lineage. That works pretty well here.

I quite liked On Eteint (“Kill the light”). It’s more akin to morbid poetry set to sparse music, but for those who like how French sounds it can work. And she’s got a nice voice.

Available for download on Amazon, more or less .


History

Tiffany grew up in the ancestral Château d’Arc. However, it became necessary to hurriedly sell the ruinous property, perhaps after the death of her father.

Her mother is a cold, distant workaholic. A physician at the Bichat Hospital  (in the North of Paris), she’s fanatically devoted to saving children.

The nurses unaffectionately call Dr. d’Arc “the Hyena”. This is because of her success rate at strongarming parents of just-deceased children to authorise harvesting the corpse for urgent organ transplants.

Tiffany’s brother Donatien is an unsuccessful private detective. Essentially, he read too much noir as a kid.

Donatien’s main successes come from having cajoled his sister into coming over to overhear the mind of witnesses or clients. And the agency’s continued survival comes from cash infusions from Tiffany.

(“Tiffany” wasn’t historically a common given name in France. The main idea association with it therefore remains the Tiffany’s jewellery store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. Likewise, “Edwige” or “Donatien” as given names are strong signifiers of old-fashioned upper class persons.)

The castle of her heart

Donatien enlisted her sister’s help on a new case. To her dismay, she realised that the clients were the new owners of the Château d’Arc. She took an instant dislike of them.

Tiffany d'Arc - Comics bande dessinée - Yann and Herval - Grey outfit

Still, Donatien took the job. He was to establish the character and antecedents of a potential suitor for the current castellan .

However, Donatien was soon killed in an apparent traffic accident.

Not a gumshoe

Tiffany was approached by a street lad who told her it was a murder. But the young man was an undocumented immigrant. Thus, he was too wary of the police to bear witness.

Without substantive elements, the police summarily brushed Tiffany off.

To investigate, Ms. d’Arc succeeded Donatien as the owner of the Tiffany Detective Agency. She also kept Donatien’s two employees, Sherry and Momo, on the payroll.

Her work as a determined detective debutante would soon unearth a sordid criminal conspiracy. As well as the reason for her brother’s death.

The Ambassador’s receptions are noted in society

After this case, Tiffany continued to run her agency with Donatien’s two helpers (and a cat). She also kept on instructing in fencing, to maintain a regular cash flow.

Tiffany d'Arc - Comics bande dessinée - Yann and Herval - Fencing scene salle

Her agency is known as a good fit for investigations pertaining to the French nobility. This usually means inheritance and genealogical issues. She knows this world well, and her clients prefer to work with a reputable peer.

Thus, one day, she was contacted by the solicitor for the late Général Sylvestre Icare de Sassy. The irascible and aged general had abruptly, oddly changed his testament days before dying.

Now his entire holdings were to be inherited by descendants of his son Thibaud. However, Thibaud had died in 1943, without any known children…


Description

Ms. d’Arc is usually found in either :

  • A fencing jacket and breeches.
  • Exercise clothes.
  • Or upper class Parisienne chic. Which rests on a large, discreetly-branded, costly but understated wardrobe.

The parted short pixie cut, the black Mini Cooper , the small expensive purses, the old-fashioned raincoats, etc. are other signifiers of a specific Parisienne lifestyle.

Tiffany has an unusually slim, sylphlike physique. She tends to emphasise this with tight fitted clothes and stretchy trousers. It’s all impeccably tasteful, colour-coordinated, textures-coordinated and well-designed, of course.

Her facial expressions and body language are unusually open and expressive. She seldom has any reason to conceal her feelings, and she took many levels in “Part Of My Charm”.


Personality

Vivacious, sharp as a tack, elegant, high-status, sharp-tongued, cultured, assured, charming, tasteful, highly ethical.

Si je n’y suis, Dieu veuille m’y mettre…

Ms. d’Arc is firmly part of the Old World’s knightly scene.

Tiffany d'Arc - Comics bande dessinée - Yann and Herval - Paris street scene Mini Cooper

Her lineage is noblesse d’épée (nobles of the sword ), and her last name has been one of the most recognizable in France for centuries. This is a specific subculture, with specific norms of behaviour.

Tiffany embraces the tenir son rang ethos. This means never dishonouring her lineage, and proving worthy of it at all times.

The martial excellence and impeccable appearance are part of this, but it also means stringently ethical behaviour for its own sake, respect for tradition, contempt for the nouveaux riches (and ostentation in general), etc..

Though Catholicism was of course fundamental in Jeanne d’Arc’s short career, Tiffany isn’t religious.

While she’s upper-crust, Tiffany can easily adjust. This doesn’t mean any code-switching, but she treats everyone with the same level of respect and attention.

… si j’y suis, Dieu veuille m’y tenir.

Tiffany never intended to become a P.I.. But she had to investigate Donatien’s death once she knew that foul play was involved. This allowed her to defeat a squalid plot.

From there she considered she had to continue to help. Furthermore, she was reluctant to fire her two newfound employees and leave them on the dole.

Ms. d’Arc is a white hat. She works to help the innocent and stop predators.

She’s fond of children, haute cuisine, only swearing in English (that’s less vulgar), designer clothing, and tall handsome men.

The later is a significant weakness. When in love, she spends much of her time daydreaming about romantic stuff and being useless.

Touché

The GNs arc back… so to speak… to the “constant comedic wit in dialogues” school of Francophone comics. It evokes older stories – Gil Jourdan is specifically referenced.

Therefore, most characters speak with a dense pattern of witty remarks, articulate repartee, hand-picked cultural references, selected jokes and puns, points-scoring rapier wit when an exchange gets heated, etc..

Heaven forbid that anyone come across as being dull, ordinary or boring.


We be the crew

Tiffany is assisted by two employees.

These are somewhat shady. But they’re loyal friends and they have the practical investigative experience that d’Arc lacks.

Momo

Presumably short for “Maurice”. Your friendly neighbourhood skinhead, complete with a rottweiler, a broken nose and criminal experience. He doesn’t much like rich people or cops.

Still, Momo is a good friend and a decent investigator. He knows a lot of little tricks about B&E, shadowing, etc.. And he has decent people skills as long as said people aren’t posh.

Momo’s cultural references are always movies, songs, etc. that were chiefly popular among the working class and lower middle class.

His dog, Kärcher, is messy and none too disciplined.

Sherry

Sherry is the daughter of a cat burglar and the prison doctor. She seems Eurasian, or perhaps French-Vietnamese.

At her dad’s behest, she has a certification in locksmithing.

Like Momo, she has clear class markers. Howbeit, hers are about stealing upper-middle-class clothing, cultural references, language, etc. without betraying her working class underworld roots.

Her cultural references are also more modern than Momo’s, and her wit is dryer and more sophisticated.

She and Momo often have verbal fights, as Sherry is irritated by Momo being too lowbrow. Or Momo makes fun of Sherry for acting posh. These generally involve barrages of creative insults (say, “triple-buttocked bonobo”).

They occasionally have sex together.

Both Sherry and Momo know that Tiffany can overhear minds. But in the story it’s just considered a cool oddity, not something of major scientific import.

Lieutenant Colarro

Ms. Colarro is a police detective. She’s with the police judiciaire, a sort of Major Crimes Unit.

The LT likes Tiffany – she finds her funny. Having such a friendly police contact is of course a major asset for a private detective.

Colarro is a seasoned, competent, driven professional – and scrupulously honest. However, she can be flexible in order to stop criminals. Such as bending the rules a little for Tiffany. She’s aware that Tif can read minds, making d’Arc a good asset to cultivate.

Lt. Colarro is jovial, butch, a smoker and just as witty as everybody else. Her jokes and cultural references are lower-middle-class, and relies more on constant puns than the others’.

Célimène

The Tiffany Agency’s office pet seems to be a female lilac tabby point Birman cat .

I think.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

Tiffany d’Arc

Dex: 03 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Uphold Good
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 04 Occupation: Sleuth/fencer
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Wealth: 005
Init: 011 HP: 015

Powers:
Mind probe: 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Mind probe has a Range of 01.
  • Mind probe can never get more than 1 RAP.
  • Mind probe doesn’t have to probe for a subject, but it is limited to the person’s *current* internal monologue.

Skills:
Charisma (Interrogation): 04, Evasion: 05, Vehicles (Land): 03, Weaponry (Fencing): 05

Bonuses and Limitations:
Evasion is limited to Melee, Contingent Upon Weaponry (Fencing), and requires wielding a fencing weapon.

Advantages:
Familiarity (French nobility lore, French history, General knowledge), Language (French).

Connections:
Parisian society (Low), Lt. Colarro (Low).

Drawbacks:
Partial Attack Vulnerability (- 1CS RV vs. Persuasion attempts done by a guy she’s in love with), Power Loss (Mind Probe, when in love).

Equipment:
MINI COOPER [STR 04 BODY 06, Running: 06, R#2]. Presumably a MkII.


Design Notes

The Charisma is there for those with house rules about Skilled Character Interaction.

Physical combat numbers are eyeballed, since the stories have very little of that. I used Evasion for the usual setup to make her an excellent fencer without also making her a master brawler.

Predicting phone calls and their intent is just considered a little SFX without in-game applications.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Tiffany GNs.

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 24th of January, 2020.