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|Age / Birth||35 / GI0986|
|Ht. / Wt.||185cm / 65kg|
|Skill levels||Government Lv1 (?), Magical Metallurgy Lv1 (?)|
|Appeared in||Kichikuou Rance, Rance IX|
|Mentioned in||Rance 03, Rance IV|
Stessel Ignon, better known by his alias Stessel Romanov, was the Prime Minister of the Helman Empire in the years leading up to its eventual shift to Democracy and the primary antagonist of Rance IX. An exceptionally cruel and villainous man, his actions as Prime Minister resulted in the already declining Helman to fall even deeper into destitution and corruption.
A direct descendant of Pillow Ignon, one of the five founding members of the Holy Magic Sect, Stessel was taught the forgotten organization's rich history and countless secrets from birth. This knowledge caused Stessel to develop a deep-seated belief in the superiority of his bloodline over others. Over time, these feelings grew into a lust for absolute power, which culminated in Stessel utilizing his knowledge of the Holy Magic Sect's technology to devise an intricate plan that would allow him total control over The Continent. Stessel knew of the existence of Toushin MM, the personal Toushin of M.M Rune, founder of the Holy Magic Sect and the most powerful user of the Magic Arts in history, hidden in the depths of the Helman palace at the capital of Lang Bau. As Toushin MM possessed a level of destructive power fearsome enough to potentially destroy the entire population of the Continent, Stessel intended to utilize the threat of activating it as a bargaining chip to convince the Human nations of the world to submit themselves to his rule. After gaining control over all of humanity, he would then offer his territory to the denizens of the Monster Realm in exchange for being made into an all-powerful Dark Lord.
As a young man, Stessel put his plan into action by obtaining a position as a low-ranking clerk in the Helman Government. Through cunning and manipulation, he was able to quickly improve his standing until he became capable of directly communicating with the Helman imperial family, eventually leading to him becoming the Prime Minister of the nation at the unprecedentedly young age of 19. At this time, Stessel successfully seduced Empress Pamela Helman, the second wife of the Helman Emperor, who had grown lonely and frustrated due to the great age difference between herself and her husband. During their trysts, Stessel introduced Pamela to a highly addictive aphrodisiac that caused her body to gradually become dependent on receiving sexual intercourse from him after certain intervals of time.
Not long after becoming Prime Minister, Stessel impregnated Pamela. The child that resulted from the pregnancy, a daughter, was presented as having been fathered by the Emperor, and was recognized as a member of the Helman imperial family despite not possessing any of its blood. As the daughter, named Sheila Helman, grew, Stessel began to push her superiority as a potential heir to the Emperor to the members of Helman's royal court over the current heir and the Emperor's true son Patton Helman. While Patton was well-liked by the people of Helman, Stessel emphasized his crass nature and seeming lack of intelligence as evidence for his unfitness as a successor, which successfully caused the majority of Helman's elite to turn against him. This sudden lack of support caused Patton to lose the motivation to work harder, leading to the prince entering into a life of delinquency which only further supported Stessel's claims. Throughout this period, Stessel instructed Pamela to raise Sheila to become docile and subservient in order for her to function as a figurehead that he could easily control the actions of.
In the year LP0002, Prince Patton announced his plan to invade and conquer Helman's longtime rival Leazas in a reckless bid to prove his legitimacy as his father's successor. Seeing the perfect opportunity to eliminate his greatest political rival once and for all, Stessel supported Patton's campaign, allowing him to carry it out despite countless protests. The sole division of the Helman Army that accompanied Patton on his assault was the Helman 3rd Army, which was led by general Thoma Lipton, a national hero and member of the country's council as well as one of Patton's most steadfast supporters, who Stessel hoped to get rid of in the process as well. Stessel also formed an alliance with Minerva Margaret, a high-ranking, ambitious and ruthless member of the 3rd Army, who agreed to sabotage the war effort in exchange for being made General of the 3rd Army afterwards.
Throughout the 7th Leazas-Helman War, Stessel intentionally denied all efforts to send reinforcements to Patton's army, causing it to steadily fall against the growing strength of the Leazas Liberation Army. After the Liberation Army had successfully retaken Leazas Castle, Minerva returned to Helman leading the small remnant of the 3rd Army that survived the conflict and reported both Patton and Thoma as casualties. With his opposition seemingly disposed of, Stessel began to subtly poison the Emperor of Helman, causing his already poor health to steadily decline until he finally passed on. With the Emperor dead and Patton gone, Sheila was recognized as the country's heir-apparent.
During the events of Rance IV, in the period between the Emperor's death and Sheila's ascension to the throne, Stessel ordered Pamela, who was acting as the temporary ruler of Helman, to authorize a search of the recently discovered floating city of Ylapu. Aware of the city's true identity as a Toushin Toshi, Stessel hoped to acquire the floating fortress as a weapon and bolster his power even further. Stessel also ordered for Hubert Lipton, the son of Thoma and best friend of Patton, who had grown suspicious of the government's involvement in their supposed deaths, to be sent as part of the search team in order to keep him from exposing his treachery. The search proved to be a complete failure, with the floating city crashing into the earth and the majority of its technology getting permanently lost. In addition, Hubert, along with the Helman councilman and Holy Magic Sect remnant Freak Paraffin, who had secretly followed the search party to the floating city in order to destroy it, were found by Patton's guardian Hunty Kalar. Hunty informed the duo of Stessel's involvement in the Helman army's defeat against Leazas, as well as the fact that Patton had survived the war and was living in obscurity in order to train himself to become strong enough to win back his country from the corrupt politician. Hubert and Freak quickly reunited with Patton, which resulted in them forming the Patton Faction, a group intent on retaking Helman from Stessel.
After Sheila assumed the position of empress, Stessel immediately took advantage of her submissiveness towards him in order to seize total control over the country. With Sheila at his mercy, Stessel had all members of the government who did not agree with him either assassinated or imprisoned as enemies of the state, replacing them with incompetent and subservient people in order to ensure that his decisions would go unopposed. In addition, he filled several of the five divisions of the nation's military with spies who would report any plans of rebellion to him. Finally, he imposed steep taxation on the citizens of the country, using the money for his own personal use and pleasure. Under Stessel's shadow rule, Helman became a dictatorship and fell into an even greater state of decay than it already was in, with all but its absolute elite suffering from severe poverty, famine and sickness.
In February of LP0003, Stessel entered into the depths of the Helman palace in order to investigate Toushin MM. While he was able to find the toushin, he learned that it was incapable of activating without first being infused with Rune's soul, which was in the possession of the AL Church, and one of either Chaos the Darksword or Nikkou the Lightblade, two of the only weapons capable of penetrating the Invincibility Fields that protect Dark Lord's from conventional damage, both of which were in unknown locations. While disgruntled by this discovery, Stessel's search ultimately proved beneficial in a way that he had not anticipated. Alongside Toushin MM, Stessel found the Tousho Bastet, one of the most powerful tousho ever created. As Bastet was the servant of Pillow Ignon during the time of the Holy Magic Sect, Stessel was able to activate and gain his absolute servitude with ease. With the nearly unbeatable Bastet now serving as his personal bodyguard, Stessel began his search to find the materials necessary to activate Toushin MM.
In the year LP0004, Stessel learned of Patton's survival. Paranoid that the prince would attempt to stage a resistance against him, Stessel hired the assassination group the Dark Wings to hunt for and kill him. During this time, a large scale bubonic plague swept across Helman. As Stessel was completely uninterested in assisting those beneath him, he delayed providing relief for the outbreak for several months. By the time the plague had passed, it had left 12,000,000 deaths in its wake, countless of which could have been prevented had it not been for Stessel’s indifference.
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During the events of Rance Quest, Stessel took advantage of the death of Duran Teyuran, the pope of the AL Church, in order to advance his goals. He agreed to have Helman support Roule Enron, a bishop who had served the Church across three generations of popes and was one of its most influential members as a result, in his effort to become the next pope in exchange for the box containing M.M Rune's soul. Enron, who was both extremely corrupt and desperate to finally become leader of the Church, accepted Stessel's demand and gave him the box. Overjoyed at having one half of the materials necessary to activate Toushin MM, Stessel gleefully showed the box to Sheila, describing it to her as "the key to destruction" that would grant him absolute power. Frightened and appalled by Stessel's declaration, Sheila stole the box and resolved to escape from his clutches at the urging of her personal maid Peruelé Kalette, who agreed to impersonate her as empress while she lived as a civilian.
By the time of Rance IX, the Patton Faction, now dubbed the Helman Revolutionary Army, finally amassed the forces necessary to launch an attack on Helman. While the group initially planned to gradually wear down the nation's forces over a period of three years, it was pushed into using much more aggressive tactics by the warrior Rance, who had been recruited into its ranks by Patton to act as a shadow leader, due to his belief that it could be done in the unthinkably short time span of just three months. Rance’s recklessness proved to be highly effective, as Stessel had not anticipated getting attacked so quickly and fiercely. As a result of his negligent ruling, Helman’s army, historically seen as the pinnacle of military excellence, was severely ill-equipped, and poorly-prepared to defend against enemy attacks, and steadily began to fall to the opposing forces. Stessel fell into a state of panic as the Revolutionary Army continued to march towards Lang Bau, tossing aside every attempt he made at impeding it without fail.
Just as Patton’s forces approached Lang Bau, Stessel discovered that Rance was in possession of Chaos, the final item he needed to activate Toushin MM. Preferring to exterminate all life over losing, Stessel resolved to activate the unstoppable mechanical menace, and ordered Bastet to kill Rance and bring Chaos to him. While Bastet initially proved to be too powerful for even Rance and Chaos to defeat, he was eventually defeated by an enraged Hubert, who succeeded in unleashing his weapon Shiranui’s full power, killing him in a single attack. Without Bastet around to serve as his bodyguard, Stessel was left defenseless, and was quickly killed by Minerva, who had taken advantage of the confusion of the war to stage a coup and obtain the throne for herself. Done in by his own manipulations, Stessel’s ambitions were decisively shattered post-mortem after Patton miraculously succeeded in destroying Toushin MM. Though the world was finally rid of his evil, the consequences of Stessel’s actions continued to weigh heavily on the ruined Helman, which began the slow and difficult recovery process towards a new beginning.
Stessel’s fate differs somewhat in Sheila Helman’s non-canonical route. In it, he hides inside Lang Bau Castle's hidden chamber after catching word of Minerva attempting a coup d'etat. Confident that the Outlaws, the Revolutionary Army's elite fighting force, will be unable to break through the barrier he activated over the castle, he details his plans of world domination to Pamela. Once the Outlaws reach the throne room, Sheila makes a final attempt to reason with him to surrender peacefully, but Stessel, having been driven to insanity by his failure, refuses. In a last ditch effort to defeat his enemies, Stessel unseals the legendary monster Valentine to combat them. Following Valentine’s defeat, Sheila orders for Stessel to be captured alive, after which he, along with Pamela, is put on trial for his crimes. During the trial, Stessel, his mind broken, remains completely silent while a regretful Pamela pleads for them to be declared guilty, causing them both to be sentenced to execution.
Alternatively, should the Outlaws fail during the final stretch to take Lang Bau, Stessel will capture both Sheila and Chaos. With all the pieces necessary to activate Toushin MM in his hands, Stessel injects Sheila with a massive dose of the same drug that he had been giving to Pamela, instantly reducing her to a catatonic state, and violently rapes her in celebration of his achievement.
Stessel’s role is largely the same in the non-canonical Kichikuou Rance, acting as the shadow ruler of Helman behind Sheila. Unlike in the canonical timeline, however, he has already revealed himself to Sheila as her biological father and begun injecting her with the drugs that he had been giving Pamela. With the last of Sheila’s willpower fully dissipated, Stessel freely takes her on as his sex slave, and she makes no attempts at going against him. Also unlike in his canon portrayal, Stessel is not suggested to be of any relation to the Holy Magic Sect, and his ambitions seem to be limited entirely to ruling Helman rather than conquering the entire Continent.
After Leazas conquers Helman, Stessel will flee from Lang Bau to avoid capture, taking the entire cache of one million tons of gold hidden underneath the Helman palace with him. Rance can then choose to levy several Helmanian territories in order to obtain information about his location, eventually learning that he fled into the Monster Realm. If Rance acquires this information prior to going to war with the Monster Realm, it is revealed that Stessel was found in a crazed state by the Dark Lord Warg, who transported him back to her tower in order to use as a guinea pig for her dream-giving powers. Warg subjects Stessel to a nightmare where he is chased and killed by each of the people that he manipulated to gain power, causing him to fall into a state of hysteria that results in him jumping out one of the tower’s windows to his death.
Personality and Appearance
Stessel was a pale man of above average height with a lean build. He possessed short and slightly wavy gray hair and a face with soft, handsome features. While he almost always maintained a composed smile on his face, his true nature was revealed by his striking yellow eyes, which were devoid of any light, giving him an incredibly sinister appearance no matter his expression. Stessel’s appearance stood out considerably when opposite the majority of Helmanian men, who are notoriously large and robust-bodied, causing him to appear immediately suspicious to almost all who interacted with him. His clothing consisted of gold-lined purple and white robes with a matching purple cape and a pair of glasses.
While Stessel's appearance was relatively similar in Kichikuou Rance, his hair was instead black and much longer in length, kept tied back behind his head with a large red ribbon, and his eyes were blue. His clothing was colored blue and white with short sleeves. He also possessed a strange green gem on his forehead, similar to those of the Kalar.
A deeply sociopathic and narcissistic man, Stessel was driven entirely by his desire to satiate his enormous ego. Convinced that his lineage placed him above all other beings, he spent every second of his life attempting to gain total control over the Continent, believing it to be his right and duty to rule over every living thing. While he was very capable of presenting himself as being charismatic and charming, he held no regard for other people, considering them to be trash that was unworthy of his time, and only formed relationships with individuals who he believed he could manipulate to his benefit. This lack of concern for the well being of others resulted in him doing things that negatively affected millions of people without even a second thought, as he perceived their needs to be far below his own. Stessel was incapable of understanding the viewpoints of others, calling those who disagreed with his actions “narrow-minded fools who can’t understand true power”, and would go out of his way to have them killed or imprisoned for doing so.
In addition to his selfishness, Stessel was also incredibly sadistic, and took great pleasure in watching those he saw as beneath him suffer, often intentionally performing actions that led to widespread pandemonium simply for his own amusement. Above all else, Stessel did not place any amount of trust in anyone, surrounding himself with incompetents who were easy for him to totally control while pushing away those he saw as threats to his power. This eventually led to his undoing, as his paranoia severely weakened Helman’s national power, allowing it to fall when pitted against the Revolutionary Army.
Besides his cruelty and egoism, Stessel was also an incredibly cowardly individual. He relied entirely on others to carry out his plans for him, and would immediately run and abandon them the second that they failed. When faced with the possibility of being proven wrong, Stessel was quick to become panicked, and would do whatever was necessary to prevent himself from having to confront his failures. After he had been decisively defeated by Patton and his allies, Stessel completely lost his mind and entered into a state of cackling insanity wherein he resolved to exterminate all life in order to avoid losing.
Stessel’s most longstanding and loyal pawn was Pamela Helman, who served as the second wife to the Emperor of Helman during the time when he first became Prime Minister. Stessel took advantage of Pamela’s naivety as a sheltered noblewoman and loneliness as a trophy wife in order to seduce her. Pamela was instantly charmed by Stessel’s good looks and suave charisma, and allowed him to sleep with her. When the two slept together, Stessel injected Pamela with a highly addictive aphrodisiac which exponentially increased her pleasure during sex. Over time, Pamela became completely dependent on being regularly given the drug and having sex with Stessel in order to continue functioning, causing her to be reduced to his obedient servant who blindly followed his every command without hesitation.
In contrast to Pamela’s devotion to him, however, Stessel was disgusted by Pamela, describing her as a “pig” and a “whore” for falling for him as easily as she did. When it appeared that Helman would fall against enemy forces, Stessel was quick to abandon Pamela to save himself, showing that he truly did not care for her well being at all. This final act of betrayal allowed for Pamela to come to her senses and recognize Stessel’s true character, expressing both hatred of him and regret for having been his accomplice.
Stessel maintained an incredibly unhealthy incestuous attraction toward his biological daughter Sheila Helman, who was the one person that he loved in any capacity besides himself. Due to Sheila possessing his genetics, Stessel believed her to be the one and only woman perfect enough to be worthy of his love. When having sex with her in Kichikuou Rance, Stessel demanded for Sheila to refer to him as “father”, showing that his attraction to her was based entirely on her relation to him. Despite this, Stessel canonically hid both his relation to Sheila and his desire to have sex with her in order to take her virginity as a reward for fully accomplishing his plans for world domination, though he still interacted with her in a highly predatory manner. Stessel’s attraction to Sheila being based in his own narcissism was further displayed when he groped Peruelé Kalette, who was impersonating Sheila during the events of the Helman Revolution, where he instantly lost all interest in her after she expressed resistance to him, showing that he only loved Sheila as a submissive doll and had no interest or care for her actual thoughts or feelings.
Though Sheila was unaware of Stessel’s identity as her father, she remained highly distrustful of him, only following his orders through a combination of her own timidity and her love for her mother. Sheila was finally pushed into opposing Stessel after he revealed to her his possession of the box containing the soul of M.M Rune. While he did not reveal the exact contents of the box to her, his describing it as the “box of destruction” was enough for Sheila to become suspicious of his true agenda, causing her to escape from the imperial palace with the box in tow. Despite her hatred of him, however, Sheila still insisted on allowing Stessel a proper trial for his crimes after successfully capturing him in her respective route, showing that her dedication to law and order overpowered her desire to have her revenge against the man who ruined both her life and her country.
Stessel was an incredibly cunning man who was highly skilled in manipulation and treachery. He possessed a Government Lv1 Skill Level, which granted him a natural understanding of politics that allowed him to quickly rise through the ranks of the Helman government until achieving the position of Prime Minister, the nation’s highest authority outside of the imperial family, at the incredibly young age of 19. Unlike other individuals in possession of the Government skill level, Stessel did not utilize his talents for conventional governing, instead using them to exploit Helman's political system into directly benefiting him as much as possible, sacrificing the stability of the rest of the country in the process.
As a direct blood descendant of one of the founding members of the Holy Magic Sect, Stessel also possessed the Magical Metallurgy Lv1 skill level. This allowed him to be one of the few individuals on the Continent with the ability to activate and control the incredibly powerful ancient magical technology used during the age of the Sect. In particular, Stessel was able to assume the role of master to the legendarily powerful tousho Bastet due to its previous master being his ancestor Pillow Ignon. With Bastet serving as his personal bodyguard, Stessel was made virtually untouchable, allowing him to act without fear of being killed by one of the countless enemies that he had made as Prime Minister. Besides Bastet, Stessel's bloodline allowed him the potential to activate Toushin MM, the most powerful toushin in existence, as well as the only one capable of damaging Dark Lords. Due to not being a blood relative of M.M. Rune, however, Stessel was unable to directly control Toushin MM after activating it, meaning that he would be as susceptible to its immense powerful as any other being.
Despite his insistence on his superiority to all other humans, Stessel was not particularly notable physically. While he possessed a decent Level Cap of 22, he had no combat skill levels to speak of and made no effort to build himself into a fighter, instead relying entirely on those he manipulated to perform labor for him. Stessel's lack of combat ability proved fatal during his final moments, as, without Bastet around to defend him, he was left completely defenseless against the powerful Minerva Margaret, allowing her to kill him with very little effort.
- Stessel is heavily inspired by Grigori Rasputin, a Russian mystic who rose from obscurity to become the advisor to Tsar Nicholas II and his family. Like Stessel, Rasputin utilized both manipulation and seduction to further his power within the nation, becoming the lover and confidant of Tsarina Alexandra and ordering her to fill several government offices with his own personally chosen candidates. Rasputin was speculated to have had near total control over the Russian Empire throughout his time as the imperial family's advisor, and is viewed as both the person responsible for its descent into corruption and the person responsible for its eventual destruction as a result of inspiring the Russian Revolution. In addition, Stessel false last name, "Romanov", is derived from the Romanov dynasty, which was the name of the ruling family that Rasputin served as an advisor to.
- Despite the intricacy of Stessel's plan, it is unclear how he actually intended to be made into a Dark Lord, as the current Demon King, Kurusu Miki, has not fully awakened to her position and instead lives as a fugitive. As the Demon King is the only being capable of creating Dark Lords, Stessel would be incapable of becoming one until either Miki embraced her powers or after another being killed and replaced her as Demon King.
- Stessel is the only major antagonist in the Rance Series to not be physically confronted by Rance at any point in the game that he is featured in. Notably, he and Rance only ever interact during Sheila Helman's non-canonical route in Rance IX, and even then only to a very limited degree.
- Stessel is not mentioned or alluded to at any point throughout Rance III, suggesting that his character had not yet been created. This is changed in its remake Rance 03, where both Stessel and his involvement with the events of the game are mentioned multiple times.
- Stessel came in 25th place in the "Males and Others" category in the Rance IX: Popularity Poll.