Penny Dreadful Character in Tales of Justice | World Anvil

Penny Dreadful

Adapted from page 114 of
Justice, Not Law
by Steven S. Long et all,
published in 1993 by HERO GAMES

Penelope Bookman

Penny Dreadful commits two broad categories of crime:  
  • Crimes targeting a book, author, or printing press.
  • These can sometimes be astonishingly straightforward heists: Penny Deadful analyzes the potential obstacles between her and her target, between her target and a successful getaway, and from the end of the initial getaway to her final destination at a secluded hideout. If the Boys currently on hire are not sufficient to the job, she drafts a contract through the Henchmen's Union, conducts a few interviews, sends current Boys to do a quick background check so she is not hiring a Hero in disguise, and assigns appropriate literary code names to the new hires.
    Theming is important: Penny may provide costuming for the Boys, but never slacks off on her own presentation. Depending on the target, her customary ensemble may already be appropriate. If she is after a collected set with an original printing of The Birds of America by naturalist and painter John James Audubon, alongside its companion piece Ornithological Biography, or, An account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America by Audubon and William MacGillivray, she might wear a black frontier-style coat with bright fur trim and moccasins. The coat will be cinched in to accentuate Penny's figure. The planter hat will sit atop her head at a rakish angle. She might disguise her Taser Wand as a paintbrush, or use fog grenades tinted in watercolour hues.
  • Crimes themed to match a significant event in a book by her latest favorite author.
If Penny has fixated on a "political thriller" novelist who tried to cash in on the popularity of Tom Clancy, she might send letters to newspapers (never to television!) in which she claims to have discovered a lost WMD which she is going to offer for sale at a United Nations charity event. Attached to the letter would be "Penny's Recommended Reading List", a long list of books and poems with emphasis on public domain works and mass-produced out of print titles. Obviously the items in the list are meant to be clues as to the location of her merchandise -- or, possibly, of the true target of her impending crime. Only an avid reader could decipher the clues speedily enough to confront her!

Physical Description

Apparel & Accessories

If not themed for a crime or crime spree, Penny wears a masculine-seeming pinstripe suit with a rose in the buttonhole. She has a matching dark-colored wide-brimmed hat worn just so to partially shade her left eye.

Specialized Equipment

In a shoulder holster, Penny Dreadful carries what appears to be a Glock 17L -- a traditional "gangster's gun" as depicted on many a pulp magazine cover of the early 1900s -- which is probably a disguised Gadget purchased from a villainous Gadgeteer.   Somewhere on her person, Penny also keeps a Taser Wand.   Some adversaries have reported a weaponized "book" that can fire razor-sharp "pages", but this customized Gadget does not appear on every caper.   In the inside breast pocket of her suit coat, Penny usually has a spare pair of disposable gloves and a set of magnifying goggles, in case she needs to make an immediate inspection of a rare book right away. She keeps an assortment of sealable acid-free opaque bags folded neatly in the pocket of her slacks.

Mental characteristics


Masters in Library Science from Blüdhaven College


Penny Dreadful is what happens when a reticent young librarian gets a dose of mutagen and goes very, very, very bad.  

Intellectual Characteristics

Penelope Bookman was described by her fellow Blüdhaven library staff as "meek" and "reticent" and "shrinking" and "always hiding in the stacks to read", if they thought to describe her at all. They often forgot that she existed. More than once, she realized the time only because the lights shut off and the library door locked.
Penny Dreadful is
  • flamboyant
  • vivacious
  • openly scornful of the "subliterate masses"
  • vicious when enraged
  • spiteful
  • egocentric
  • erudite

Personality Characteristics


Penny Dreadful's ultimate goal is to have The Greatest Library Of All Time. She wants to fill it with rare and important volumes from all cultures, ideally in multiple versions. She seeks to protect all books, great or coarse, from the dullards of the world who fail to value and preserve them.  

Savvies & Ineptitudes

Penny Dreadful is not much of a combatant, and she knows it. It's one excellent reason to employ contractors from the Henchmen's Union -- tough, burly men who know their business, so she can get on at applying her own skillset. She is a savvy researcher, an expert appraiser of antique printed matter, a well-read student of military tactics and financial strategems, but she is a mediocre shot and a relatively wimpy melee fighter.  

Likes & Dislikes

Penny hates adaptations, especially recorded visual media adaptations. She loathes Disney movies, reviles Peter Jackson and everything he touches, despises Francis Ford Coppola, and begrudgingly makes exception for Dale Wasserman's body of work only because Man of La Mancha provided the soundtrack for Penelope's one pleasant romantic relationship during college.  

Virtues & Personality perks

Penny Dreadful is many terrible things, but she is an unwaveringly loyal boss to her Henches. She offers medical benefits, a prepaid anonymous bail fund, and PTO in her Henchmen's Union contracts. She never sends her Henches to stall the Hero while she escapes alone. When hospitalized during the Will of the Earth caper, her first urgent thought was for the safety and future of her "Boys".  

strawberry blonde
Quotes & Catchphrases
"Innocence has no contract with bliss." You cling to your supposition of innocence all you like, missy, but if it is bliss you wish, you had best suddenly recall the combination to that vault door. I will give you four seconds, shall I?
— Penny Dreadful likes to quote lines from a variety of literary sources when she makes her threats.

Known Languages
  • American English (native, New Jersey shore accent when distressed)
  • French (fluent, slightly antiquated 1800s vocabulary)
  • Latin (fluent reader)
  • Spanish (proficient reader, conversational speaker but not adept at understanding most spoken variants)
  • Mandarin Chinese (basic)
  • Swahili (beginner written, often with a translation guide handy for frequent reference)
  • Mi'kmaq Listugu (beginner reader only)
Penny occasionally sets out to learn a language so that she can properly evaluate and appreciate the literature of other cultures, but gets frustrated when her progress is too slow. She tells herself that she will continue her studies later, when she has enough unscheduled time to immerse herself properly. In the meantime, if she really needs to understand a text for its own sake, she will acquire a native speaker and make them serve the document as its interpreter.


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