Unhallowed Metropolis by pkfan2004
IntroductionOriginal SA post
Lemme just preface this by saying that I like SLA Enterprises and I like the treatment Traveller gave it. That's how I found this whole series in the first place. It's a game about urban horror filtered through the lens of Scotland in the 90s and it just rolls with its own take on the urban horror genre and it's...I don't know, I just
Unhallowed Metropolis, I don't like so much. And that's what I'm gonna talk to you about.
UNHALLOWED METROPOLIS is a "gas mas chic" tabletop RPG set in London in 2105 where Neo-Victorians eke out an existence on a dead/dying/undead Earth where the dead walk and everything really should have given up the ghosts years ago but they endured. If this sounds like a good time to you, it's really kinda...not.
See, in SLA or Warhammer 40K or even Paranoia, there's hope. In SLA, if you work hard enough, you can leave Mort and go somewhere else or take certain drugs to make your own new universe nested within the World of Progress' reality . In Warhammer, there's Tzeentch and the idea that one day the wars will stop somehow, even if everyone but one group dies. And in Paranoia, there's hope that you'll have fun being a little bit crazy and maybe you can be a High Programmer one day (and you might! There's a sourcebook for that).
There's no real hope in Unhallowed Metropolis. London is a city on life support besieged by the undead and it'll take one bad failure to bring the last bastion of (British) civilization tumbling down into Hell. In fact, being corrupt and having darkness in your heart is a character feature. The game draws its inspiration from 19th century authors like Poe and Mary Shelley and it sure as hell nicks its characterizations from Lord Byron. What few innocent, what few good remain in Unhallowed Metropolis are given death quickly and early in their life. Only the bastards survive.
So why the hell review this game? Recently I got my hands on the revised edition which cuts out about, oh, seventy pages from the core book (which was a smidge over 400). I read the first edition a bit back and I want to share this new edition and share what they did/didn't change from the original (because at a glance they sure as hell didn't change some shit). And who knows, maybe you'll like it too. It sounded cool to me too at first. It's just that the execution needs a good polishing and there's gonna be a lot of headscratching and mild confusion pretty damn fast.
Chapter One: Unhallowed Ground (or a brief history of how everything went to shit, what the world is like, what other places are like, not actually that brief it's like 68 pages).
Chapter Two: Playing God (or making them characters and making them assholes, killers and thieves).
Chapter Three: The Formula (or how to play the game).
Chapter Four: Tools of the Trade (or your standard money and equipment chapter).
Chapter Five: Anatomy of Horror (or the nitty gritty of all them dead things what want to kill your fancy British ass dead).
Chapter Six: Miracles of Science (or mad science and how it's all shiny and retro and Victorian).
Chapter Seven: Smoke and Mirrors (or the GM chapter).
Appendix A/B/C/D: Neo-Victorian Glossary/Bibliography/Index/Deathwatch Uniforms.
I'll be back to tuck into Chapter One as best as I can later. Also I'll be trying to show some of the art; they hired a bunch of pretty good artists and even in black and white it's kinda nice.
Chapter One, Part OneOriginal SA post
I'll take a look at Hot War later because that does sound sorta neat. And on a related note, the people behind Unhallowed Metropolis made another game called The Day After Ragnarok, where the Allies nuke Jormungandr after the Nazis try to cause Ragnarok and the resulting giant snake corpse lands on the Earth and poisons most of the Americas and some of the ocean. So it's pretty safe to say that the Atomic Overmind wheelhouse is history-derailing apocalypses where the world is being slowly poisoned to death.
Anyway, Unhallowed Metropolis Chapter One.
CHAPTER ONE: UNHALLOWED GROUND PART ONE
Imagine a pumpkin that's been taken off the vine. Imagine you're taking that sucker home and you're gonna carve it and put it on your porch. And for a while, it's a nice looking squash. It's healthy, it's holding up well, it's looking good. But eventually that pumpkin is gonna get a little bit of mold and a little splotchy. And that mold is gonna spread and so will the splotches. Ever see a pumpkin that should've been thrown in the compost heap months ago? It's flat, it's putrid, the mold and decay is rampant. It's not even a solid object anymore, it's a wet, sloppy, bacteria-ridden mess. And it's just the gradual process of decay and decline. That's what happened to Earth in Unhallowed Metropolis. The pumpkin started to go bad.
Map of the United Kingdom, 2105. Over 70% of the land can no longer be inhabited by living humans.
The book starts off with a minor recap of the Victorian Era before it moves into the first stage of the new history: The Plague Years. On December 9th, 1905, the dead rose from their graves all around the world and started attacking the living. The big question is why and really nobody knows why. They ran rampant through the cities and the countryside, and no country was spared from the attack of the walking dead. Within days the cities across England were mostly abandoned as the military beat a desperate retreat to safety with as many civilians as they could rescue, destroying the bridges of London along the way, firing the guns of the Royal Navy and lighting fires in the streets in an attempt to bring the zombies (aka Animates) down. But a burning Animate can still run around and raise all sorts of burning hell and that's pretty much what happened. The survivors that didn't follow the British military ended up isolating themselves in abandoned factories and places of industry in the cities of England, using them to build weapons and fortifications. The rest ended up in refugee camps policed by the army and were rife with outbreaks, starvation and disease.
By 1908, 18 million Brits (out of a historical 419 million) are dead from a mixture of The Plague, starvation, disease and mass hysteria and the fate of England is uncertain. Parliament passes laws that say private property is suspended for a while so the survivors can use the factories as bunkers. As the survivors start to arm themselves and fight back, the British military starts instituting laws of hygiene, executing any soldiers or civilians who might be infected and start fighting to reclaim the countryside to help feed and make space for the civilians. And for the first time since the Plague (and starting the beginning of a recurring trend) shit gets worse.
How so? Well, on top of Animates, ghosts start freely roaming around the Earth. And on top of the ghosts, there's The Blight. The Blight, like the zombies, began to spread slowly on every continent of the world. The ground started becoming dirty and wrong, any crops grown on it came back twisted and mutated, anyone dead on Blighted soil comes back from the dead faster and of course it's slowly spreading. And when you're living on a series of islands like the United Kingdom, usable land is kind of a big deal! The resulting earth, known as The Wasteland, is the natural home of free roaming undead, ghosts and all manners of beasts and creatures that have resulted from eating mutant flora and living there. And on TOP of that, some people start gaining minor psychic powers. Which will be addressed if I ever get around to the expansion book.
So fun fun fun times all around for the people of England. All of this happening made the survivors panic and start building their walls higher and higher and the military starts focusing on retaking cities, surrounding them, cleaning them out of the undead using fire and munitions, knocking them to the ground and rebuilding. By 1927 most of the country is clear of Animates and the military tries to retake Leeds in 1931. After successfully cleaning out the city, one soldier gets bitten and tells nobody. By the time the builders show up a week later, the soldiers holding the city are all Animates hungry for more flesh and they have to retake Leeds again . They finally succeed in 1946.
FYI, from here on out, this happens a lot .
By 1935 the army launches an attack on London's West End in the start of the Reclamation, an act of taking London back from the Animates to use it as a new city to fortify against the walking dead. The Reclamation effort institutes the new plan the army follows in addition to killing anyone with a cough. Sections of the city are squared off, secured, cleared of undead, demolished, reopened to citizens and rebuilt. In 1940 the Labour Representation Committee is formed to help organize the rebuilding effort, putting refugees to work and reintegrating strongholds of survivors and their factories into society. Meanwhile, scientists and alchemists work on trying to create a super soldier immune to the Plague and once again shit gets worse. Their efforts create werewolves. No, really. The Thropes end up being immune to the dangers of the Wasteland and the infectious bite of the Animates but they're completely feral and their bite is infectious.
It's not until 1959 that London is a city free of the Animates.
Even More Bad Stuff: 1959-2015
London, as it stands, is a big ol' megacity of walled sectors, each one with gates and locks and security systems to give each sector the ability to lock down in case of an outbreak. Current procedure for an outbreak is to seal a sector, send in the Deathwatch, kill everyone infected or compromised, raze the compromised buildings and send workers in to rebuild. It's worked ever since the reclamation of the city and it's gonna keep being used until the city collapses.
The original London was quickly demolished and rebuilt with high walls surrounding the metropolis with farms and coal mines on the outside still being in operation to help provide power and food for the city. Every year the city would grow outwards a bit more and the usable land would decrease as the Blight spreads. To feed the city, scientists invent a mono-cell protein food that is grown in tanks (for the record, this is in 1953) and hooked up to the sewer system as a filtration system, growing and subsisting on plants and food from the farms along with sewage to create a mass-grown food for the populace. Called "scop", it's baked into cakes or porridge and it keeps the water drinkable and the people fed, even if it's greasy, tasteless and fed by shit-water. Of course, the farms are getting smaller and smaller and making less nutrient-rich food to put into the scop and of course there are rumors that the scop is being fed cadavers to beef it up. Which besides being a Soylent Green rip-off, it's a really terrible idea to do that when any corpse runs the risk of being a zombie after death. This is beginning a big, long trend of "necessary life aspects that are doomed to fail".
To compound making things worse, hordes of ravenous Animates are lead by sapient Animates wielding control over the others, crashing thousands of them against the walls of London and using the pile to get over the wall to attack. This is the first of many such attacks lead by Animate overlords and Deathwatch is formed in response, five divisions of soldiers and mercenaries welded together into a national public defense force. Deathwatch, however, is underfunded and in response to the response the citizens of London are allowed to be as armed as they want to be and can now apply as bounty hunters/freelance operatives (or Undertakers). Undertakers are licensed to hunt the undead and bring back proof of their eradication in exchange for a bounty.
While this is happening, the factories are made private again and the aristocracy immediately resumes putting their feet on the throat of the working class and middle class. As time goes on the industrialists keep making more and more bank rebuilding the city over and over and they have those stuffy old labor laws undone so women and children can work more at the factories. However, the main problem is that the beast of industry roars into motion again, requiring more and more coal and oil to feed it. The coal mines, as a whole, are mostly in the Wastelands. You can do the math there. The majority of the miners are criminals forced into 20 year shifts in the mines, and the mines in the Wastelands are the most dangerous holes in the ground. There's a damn high turnover rate and an outbreak in the mines would bring London to its knees. And that's two possible causes of death.
And on TOP of this is the rise of vampirism in the city. Vampires are rough-around-the-edges, Old World brutes that hunger for blood, tear people in half and are spread by a STD that acts like tuberculosis then brings them back as vampires. The diseases ended up spreading like wildfire for a bit when a whole mess of hookers caught it and passed it on, dead and alive. The main reason why the vampires didn't up and kill everyone is that the majority of the citizens are armed and know how to shoot to kill, so they tended to mistake vampires for muggers and thugs. Vampires are kept in asylums and studied for a while before Parliament decides that vampires no longer constitute as people so that the upper class cannot become vampires and keep all of their stuff forever. So as of 1986, vampires can be hunted and their ashes can be redeemed for a bounty.
The rich end up getting the last laugh when life-extension medical procedures are announced by scientists and begin funneling their money into funding them. The procedures completely restore life and vitality, but every additional shot brings less and less potency. If you have the money, you can live to be 300. Not like there's gonna be anything left in 150 years.
To add even more problems onto the city of London, doctors attempted to bring the dead back to life through scientific means and instead created the occasional rampaging alchemical superman. Reanimating the dead with alchemy quickly became illegal but a thing that still happens. Also illegal is creating wholly new forms of life. One such doctor attempted to create a new race of humanoid that could survive the Wastelands and breathe the polluted air of London and instead created a child-murdering sociopath that was killed alongside its maker in an act of mob justice.
And mob justice is a problem that keeps escalating as unemployment rises, scop runs out, coal runs low and the rich get richer. Anarchy and terrorism is a constant threat Deathwatch tries to keep an eye on, cells of bombers and attackers eschewing any affiliation or ideology, dedicated to bringing down the great city of London with their bare hands. It's completely, absolutely suicidal and it makes no sense, but they're irrational and no longer fear death, and for every one cell brought down two more spring up in its place. Again, another thing that might bring the death of London.
Finally, there's the fog of London. Ever since the city was reclaimed, it's been running on coal. And ever since the coal fires started burning near constantly, it's the law that the majority of dead citizens must be cremated to prevent any big outbreak. The mixture of the coal smoke and burning dead has added a sharp layer of teeth to London's fog, creating a toxic, choking ashy smog. Anyone outside has to wear a respirator of some kind, from a gas mask to a wet rag on your mouth and nose for the poor. Most buildings have airlocks that vent the outside air when going in and out to prevent it from getting in, and there are also fine mesh nets put up as physical filters that have never been replaced in the slums of the East End. The fog causes ash and poisonous chemicals to build up in the mouths of the citizens, annihilates the immune system and causes the majority of respiratory illnesses in addition to acid rain. In the winter, when the cold is bad enough, the fires burn hotter and longer and the city practically goes dormant, choked under a thick layer of smog that tends to kill poorer citizens, who then reanimate and go on a killing spree. The only thing that comes close to winter smog is when there's no smog, when the mere presence of sunlight and clean air causes the citizens to panic and riot.
Oh and on top of that the Thames is a toxic waste dump that all of the factories dump their garbage into, giving it a thick deadly miasma that can combine with the fog into a killer gas.
So far, things that can go wrong and destroy London:
The Wasteland grows too big, everyone mutates or dies, city brought to its knees.
The coal runs out/the mines cannot be mined, city brought to knees.
The farms can no longer provide to the scop/too many tainted corpses in the scop, mass starvation/death leads to mass outbreak, city brought to its knees.
Killer fog smothers citizens, causes big enough outbreak, city brought to its knees.
Animate leaders smother city in army, city brought to its knees.
Mass vampire/thrope uprising, horde descends on/emerges from inside London, city brought to its knees.
Terrorist attack destabilizes London, city brought to its knees.
- Out-of-control alchemical experiments dooms everyone somehow, city brought to its knees.
I'm not even done with the first chapter.
Next time is Part Two: Life in London and the fact that other countries have managed to survive.
Chapter One, Part TwoOriginal SA post London is eternal. The metropolis is a living, breathing city, constantly growing and reinventing itself under the strains of tradition and pragmatism. With a population of nearly nine million souls within the breadth of its fortifications, the city itself is divided into twenty-eight boroughs which constitute greater London and its outlying suburbs. London, the center of the Neo-Victorian world, is the greatest city on Earth. In its two-thousand-year history, it has survived countless calamities, including fire, pestilence and civil unrest.
Just two minor points of note: the population of all of the British Empire, in 1900, was about 419 million. There's only about nine million left. Every time there's a major outbreak in a district, "only" 1-3 thousand die minimum. Either they didn't do as much math as they thought they did or they're fucked harder than they realize. Also if London is the safest place on Earth, that says a lot doesn't it? Either way, time for more Unhallowed Metropolis!
CHAPTER ONE: UNHALLOWED GROUND PART TWO
So I really had to split this in thirds because this is so full of fluff and backstory. There was a LOT more in the first edition of the book, which went a lot more in depth with the history of food riots, anarchic bombings and political disputes and law decisions and even then it's still pretty damn heavy. This time around we're gonna focus on a more in-depth look at London.
So there's a giant money gap in between the social classes. The rich have airlocks for their doors, the poor have to wear wet rags over their faces constantly indoors. Malnutrition and starvation is rampant in certain districts, the pollution literally kills, everyone's armed, sickness like cholera and tuberculosis still spreads and some citizens decide to take up serial killing to pass the time. But hey, there's no gender discrimination and racism anymore; women have been Prime Ministers and racism doesn't matter much when you're facing down the apocalypse. Alpha Complex looks well-adjusted compared to Neo-Victorian London.
THE WEST END ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3j2NYZ8FKs ) : The West End is home to Parliament, the Palace, the upper class and the aristocrats. Seeing as how the Royal Family is still in power, the West End is the heart of power in London. This means that they're rich with certain luxuries their ancestors worked hard for them to get and they repay that hard work with being assholes. The locals rarely leave and live in well-fortified manors, using manpower to control their affairs in the rest of the city.
THE EAST END : The East End is basically cursed. There is so much bad history, restless ghosts and misery there that it's responsible for the majority of the outbreaks the city faces. London refuses to close its borders, taking in any immigrants from any nation, and they tend to end up in the slums of the East End in a rowhouse. There's barely any running water, basic sanitation is a joke and flooding from the Thames and the fog tends to kill people often. And to top it off the police pretty much refuse to go there anymore and let them police themselves. The East End has a lot in common with a Cannibal Sector but with better construction.
ROOKERIES : Rookeries are ramshackle derelict buildings that end up leaning together to form a rats nest of slums. Large groups of criminals, thieves or terrorists tend to live in rookeries and they pop up in almost every district. Most of the time the police respond to the presence of one by firebombing it and shooting the survivors then pave over the ashes but another one always forms.
THE CITY : Home to the financial center, it holds all the banks of England and is the center of commerce. That's pretty much it.
NORTH LONDON : The rare middle class live in North London. It's very hilly and very village-y and kinda boring. "A lot of significant minority populations live there" says the book, such as Indian and Jews. Aside from that, North London is pretty boring if affluent and doesn't get more than a paragraph.
SOUTH LONDON : Home to the other half of the slums, the South Side of London was a suburb that was absorbed into the city proper during rebuilding. The industrialists live and operate there, building big fancy houses that tower over the workhouses and slums. It tends to make the poor there pretty damn angry if they don't work for them.
THE THAMES : Polluted to hell and back and home to most of the industry, the Thames literally has a fierce, dangerous miasma to it. Deathwatch also rebuilt the bridges and refitted them for riot/outbreak control. The smell and danger doesn't stop riverfolk and sailors from living there.
SUBTERRANEAN LONDON : The new London is built on the ruins and ashes of the old, and there's a LOT of space underground. Anyone who can't hack it or doesn't want to live in Neo-Victorian society tends to abandoned the slums to go to the Underground which is full of abandoned buildings and tunnels people forgot after the Plague. The government never bothered unsealing a bunch of areas, so really you could go down to someone's basement and end up breaking down a plastered-up wall that leads to a tribe of ghouls. Speaking of ghouls, the main inhabitants of the Underground are:
Humans who cannot deal with surface life anymore and live alone or in tribes.
Ghouls who live in tribes and subsist in a place of relative safety. They tend to play nice with their neighbors and make agreements and pacts for mutual protection.
Vampires who don't want to take the risk of hunting gun-toting civilians even on the foggiest of days and would rather snack and make their own territory underground.
The occasional Thrope or Anathema (Anathemas being escaped man-made lifeforms).
Unknowable monstrosities that even the Vampires and Ghouls stay away from that one day might slither out through a sewer tunnel and kill everyone. Sometimes Undertakers get hired to find proof of them or shoot them to death. This might be a plot hook. This might also be a good way to destroy London.
Basically they adapted the love of industry, commerce and richness and royalty into their society, replacing the rest with the right to never not be bearing arms, quietly surviving unspeakable horror and attempting to keep the world in order as it quite literally goes to shit.
Aristocrats : One of the big problems of the aristocracy is that WWI never happened and they never realized you should stop fucking your relatives. The royal lines that survived the Plague bred like Australian bunnies to rebuild and remake their fortunes and ownerships and ever since people are pretty sure the aristocrats are really fucked up. There's rumors of severely inbred mutants living behind the golden doors of manors that will never see the light of day. If you're infertile hoo-doggy are you screwed and if you piss off your family they will stick you in a room you can never leave or cut off your rights and leave you on the streets of the East End. Despite all the hell they're giving everyone else, the aristocrats are just as fucked as the poor.
Industrialists : The Industrialists are the real evil compared to the Aristocrats, making money off the suffering of the masses left and right while talking about how they're salt of the earth men who worked their way up by tugging on their boot straps and having a whole mess of gumption. They live a lot better than the Aristocrats, ensuring that the great machine of London keeps running on the flesh, blood and bones of the poor.
Middle Class : Merchants, artists, craftsmen who actually believe in the moral fortitude the Aristocracy preaches. They're always trying to move on up to the West Side but they're never going to make it short of a corporate buyout or good inheritance.
Lower Class : Everyone else, a miserable oppressed lot of malnourished malcontents who alternately dream of being rich and powerful or killing the rich and powerful. A lot of them join Deathwatch, the Undertakers or criminal gangs, a lot of them work themselves to death in the factories or make bathtub "gin" out of scop.
THE MONARCHY AND THE CHURCH : I'm gonna be honest, I really don't care about these kinds of aspects. The monarchy involves the Crown and Houses of Parliament. Big issues involve the rights of civilians, scientific research, foreign trade and aid and making sure that the government doesn't collapse.
The church has lost a LOT of power over the years, what with people being born into a nihilistic bleak existence. A lot of agents of the church still try to run charities despite the soup kitchens and poorhouses always being overcrowded, broke and empty. A lot of clergy preach that this is the end of times, the time of Revelations, or that Judgement Day is just around the corner. A lot of people still believe in Christianity and a lot don't. It's hard work being a priest, seeing as how any act of faith in your fellow man and believe in the Lord has ended in being eaten alive or killed in the past.
DEATH RITUALS : In a nutshell, if you're not super rich you get cremated. The rich can afford to have their bodies interred in aboveground family tombs and everyone is expected to mourn a death across all social groups. The Mourners Guild is responsible for monitoring actual burials and funerals, a guild full of stoic women wearing veils, corsets and kukris in sheathes on their belts who stand watch over the wakes and funerals of the dead for three days and three nights, waiting for the possibility of reanimation. They don't take breaks, they sit in a chair and wait with a knife in hand, immediately cutting the head off should the dead stir.
Mourners are playable characters, FYI. They're the melee badasses of this game to the Undertaker's firepower badasses.
THE SPIRIT WORLD : Ghosts and dark shades of the dead are common occurrences and there are a lot of occult societies, either scholarly or amateur, invested in exploring the Afterlife. They're basically trying to make contacts with the dead to learn more about the spirit world, what's wrong with Earth and see if there's an actual afterlife. News of an actual existence of Heaven and Hell would be a massive boon to the people if proven, and a massive morale hit if there is nothing after death. The occultists are basically playing with fire that can make or break the faith of what's left of mankind, but a lot of their opponents claim that ghosts are nothing more than smudges of a soul that can still interact with the living.
UNDERTAKERS and THE OFFICE OF URBAN DEFENSE : The OUD pays the Undertakers for bounties and helps equip them with weapons like flamethrowers, stake guns and holy water and they're also responsible for taking the proof of bounty. Proof of bounty differs depending on the specimen; intact Animate heads fetch five silver pieces, 65% of a dead Vampire's ashes net you ten quid after they make sure you're not giving them tobacco ash and dust and enough bits of a Thrope to prove death are worth twelve quid. Signing up for being an Undertaker is ridiculously easy (the illiterate can sign their licenses with an X) and if you die, you die. People are trying to get the Undertakers shut down, saying that armed killers shouldn't be employed so easily and not really kept in check. They tend to be shut up by the people who ask them "well why don't you go kill a Vampire and keep us safe then asshole?".
Undertakers tend to wear long leather coats over armor plating, armored gas masks, tight and low hats, heavy studded leather gloves, pack enough heat to destroy a building if need be and tend to carry kits and bags on them to carry tools like medical gear or small dustpans and vials.
DEATHWATCH : Undertakers are mercenaries and SLA Operatives. Deathwatch Soldiers are the Imperial Guard and SHIVERs. Dressed like they belong in the trenches of WWI, Deathwatch is made up of the brave, the foolish and the desperate who want to guarantee they have a roof over their heads. They're the acting army, responsible for war and protection of the great city of London, responsible for firebombing a district and putting up the barriers to rebuild the next day. It's a safer job than being in a factory at least.
COPS : The cops are responsible for upholding the law unless Deathwatch takes over. They make arrests, they have a PSI Branch just like Judge Dredd and they're the police. They're not that fancy, really, but they do get a lot of pages dedicate to them!
CRIME : Crime am bad. Crime does pay though. Burglars, thieves, prostitutes, con-men, thugs, they're all there and they all managed to survive. On top of that you have Resurrection Men who hock dead bodies to institutes and mad scientists by managing to save corpses from cremation. You also have hired killers and psychopaths and if you were afraid Jack the Ripper isn't gonna be mentioned at all he gets a obligatory nod. Infanticide is a distressingly common thing that's really on the rise and I'm pretty sure this ties into the notion that the truly innocent do not survive in this world. Punishment can range from a slap on the wrist to 20 years in a Welsh coal mine to public execution.
DRUGS : Opium, duh. There's also tobacco, laudanum, cocaine, heroin, slap (which is fermented scop) and "gin" (slap but fancier), marijuana and opiates galore. If you're wondering, like I did, why they bothered to keep growing plants for drugs despite the scarcity of land, well wonder no longer. Opium and hemp grow free of any taint in the Wasteland. It actually THRIVES there. There's a big market for drugs as a result where the dealers got the dope from Wasteland farms run by the brave and the stupid.
So that's what a more in depth look at London and what life in the Unhallowed Metropolis is like. It sure is fun, ain't it? Well, fear not! I'm gonna take a quick break, contemplate my interest in this game and then come back and hammer out what the rest of the world is up to and then launch into my biggest, neckbeardiest complaint about this game.
Just a reminder: I'm still on the first chapter. If you're ever legit interested in this game, good on you, find a copy and read it. There is a LOT to it and there is a lot I skipped because frankly I couldn't be bothered to give a shit. I'm so neck deep in worldbuilding I literally cannot remember how to play this game anymore.
NEXT TIME: The rest of these poor miserable sadsacks and I will FINALLY finish Chapter One.
Chapter One, Part ThreeOriginal SA post
I need sleep but London needs me more.
CHAPTER ONE: UNHALLOWED GROUND PART THREE
After the Plague, nations fell, splintered, disappeared, went kaput or managed to survive. 95% of the world as most folks in our 1906 would know it does not exist in any meaningful way anymore. During the Plague, most of the countries stopped communicating with each other on a global level, straight-up abandoned their colonies and foreign interests and now most of the world is in the dark.
But as previously mentioned the Royal Navy did in fact manage to survive the Plague and it survived well into the Reclamation. Good for them sailors. The rest of the world really can't hold a candle to the Royal Navy in 2105 but they can sure as hell try. So the big benefit of having the Navy still functioning means that the British can revisit the places they left to fend for themselves. They can reclaim lost colonies and rebuild their empire. And in doing so, the British Navy can help them rebuild to a certain degree and weather whatever hardships they face. And on top of that, royalty has managed to survive abroad! You can fuck someone who isn't your sistercousin or brothercousin! In theory. In reality, they're all pretty much doomed to the spread of the Wastelands.
However, let's not put the cart too far in front of the horse. Let's start with the United Kingdom. The railroads are the main means of going from country to country in the UK, and they often have to clean the trains pretty hard using automated water jets because they tend to become marred with the stench and gore of the dead the moment they leave London. The trains are faster and safer and that's how everyone traverses the Wastelands, if they ever have to.
IRELAND : The Irish got over that whole "church and independence" problem when the dead rose. The fact that the army was more focused on saving England meant that Ireland got fucked quite hard and quite fast by the Blight and the Animates and now Dublin is the only hospitable city in Ireland. A session of begging for help got the Irish readmitted into the Empire and now the Catholic country is under firm British control. Supposedly people along the coast are managing to survive, and supposedly the British are ferrying scientists in and out of the Irish Wasteland for reasons unknown.
SCOTLAND : Scotland got wrecked, to be blunt. Glasgow and Aberdeen are inhabitable but nowhere else is because of the power of the Blight; it destroyed the Highlands faster and harder than the Animates ever did. Everywhere north of Glasgow is occupied by tribal ghouls who are living a happy little life for themselves and the Scottish refuse to bow to the English desire to rebuild Hadrian's Wall to keep the ghouls in because that would mean giving up the last two livable areas of Scotland.
WALES : Wales did pretty alright. The coast, mining villages and some castles managed to survive the Animates and Wales is the most habitable country now which means they get to keep their homes and live outside of London for now. As previously mentioned, they provide the coal that keep the fog running and the machines on and they're also generally the overseers of the mining penal colonies along with Deathwatch. Wales is generally getting more and more mixed racially because it's livable and not all immigrants and British want to stay in London.
NORTH ATLANTIC OCEAN
ICELAND : Iceland managed to survive and it managed to make friends with England. The two are now bestest buds and really they're the one alliance England has that can best be considered an actual alliance friendship. They help supply the English with oil and food,
MAINLAND EUROPE : Rule of thumb here is that if I don't mention it, it's a mostly damned mess of tribes and flailing city-states living amongst the Ghouls, Animates and Vampires. Spain gets offhandedly mentioned as having its ass firmly kicked.
THE PRUSSIAN EMPIRE : The Prussians are one of the few groups who managed to survive and actually do well to a degree. While the English focused on building walls, the Prussians never disbanded and instead instituted fastidious cleanliness programs to deal with infection. When Kaiser Wilhelm II died holding the line in the defense of Berlin in 1907, his son Wilhelm III took over and immediately approached this from a different angle. Using an existing prototype of a zeppelin, Wilhelm III hired Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin to make the blueprints for and assemble working zeppelins. By 1916, the Prussians had their OWN strategy: orbital bombardment platform zeppelins would fly over an area, drop their ordinance and scorch the Earth, then the Prussian army would steamroll anything left standing. The Prussian Empire is a series of walled cities and walled farms being patrolled by their zeppelins and guards watching what few roads there are, and life in the air is as commonplace as life on the ground.
Airships ended up becoming the bread-and-butter of the Prussian way of life and a formidable match to Galvanic Technology (what's that? I'll cover it later when we get to America, I left it out on purpose but it's a Big Deal). The British and the Prussians keep getting into minor fights and yelling matches when it comes to the North Sea oil fields, seeing as how both need oil to power their empires and their technology. They almost went to war after a bunch of Navy ships whupped some zeppelins in a fight but cooler heads prevailed and they continue to be frenemies a hairs breadth from having passionate hate-filled sex.
But if there's one group the Prussians really hate, it's the French. See, one day the French said "hey, give us Alsace and Lorraine, this is not open to negotiation." The Prussians responded by launching a land campaign and so did the French, creating a trench war in the 1970s in continental Europe. The Prussians also decided to up the game by launching eight fully-stocked zeppelins and put them on a course for the trenches to annihilate the French from above. They told them to open fire and...nothing. The attack never came, this was the "only" battle of the war, the Prussians hastily gave Alsace-Lorraine to the French after suing for peace and to this day whenever the Prussians get scared of the French they beg the English for an alliance to destroy them.
A little digging by British agents revealed that seven of the eight warships mysteriously began opening fire on each other with full armaments as one entire ship killed themselves. Through a mixture of self-sabotage and sedition, the attack was destroyed and the survivors remembered nothing. On top of that, when reinforcements inspected the trenches, every single Prussian soldier was dead . Nothing remained but a bunch of corpses with looks of horror on their face and the rest that reanimated. And after that Prussia decided to leave France the fuck alone. Speaking of.
FRANCE : In 1929, the French forces managed to retake Paris and re-establish the government. The ruler, Charles XI (who was of obscure blood that survived and managed to inherit the throne) immediately declared two things. One: the current government was to be abolished and replaced with an absolute monarchy where he ruled over a Council of Six, hand-picked. Two: he was no longer Charles XI, he was to be called le Roi d'Or , the Golden King. Claiming that this was a grand return to the Golden Age of France, the gendarmes took to the street, arresting and killing any opposition and any Animates that continued to live in France. All foreign diplomats were kicked out of France, and all French diplomats claimed asylum on foreign shores and refused to go home. France went silent for years, limiting interactions with the country to sailors and border guards, all of which tend to be described as gaunt, stoic men with dead eyes.
In 2105, The Golden King is still alive , a fact that tends to scare anyone talking about France. In the 1960s Charles became The Golden King for good and had all past records to the contrary destroyed. He has not aged a day and the populace of France is basically terrified of the man, and probably for good reason. France stands on the global stage and all it does is stare at everyone, slowly breathing with its mouth open as it smiles and stares. It never sends out any spies, and any spies dumb enough to enter France never returns. On top of that, nobody knows what life in France is like these days and it tends to make the politicians and royalty very, very nervous. Everyone is pretty sure the entire country and the King is in league with the Devil or something much, much worse.
But lately, France has been snatching up city-states across Spain. And the Royal Navy made the rounds in French IndoChina to find that, despite being abandoned for years, every single French colony across the world fanatically worships The Golden King, even if it's impossible for them to have ever known this. And for every bit of land they take, the Prussians get more and more insistent that England should help them stand up to the empire of The Golden King and protect the rest of the world together.
THE PAPAL STATES : During the Plague, the Vatican fled to Venice after the fall of Rome and Italy, using the canals as defense to slow down the Animates. On the plus side, it worked for them. On the downside, the Vatican is out for the blood of heretics. See, during the Plague and the banishment of the Papacy, Italy was full of whackjobs spreading their own version of God's love at knife-point. Even self-flagellation made a return and the Pope decided that just would not do . The Inquisition rose again and with a devotion from millennia in the future they retook Italy and the Papal States with sword, shield and the Word of God. And by 2077 the Pope was the most powerful man in unified Italy and began to send holy soldiers to the rest of Europe to eradicate heathens, heretics and Animates.
The big downside they face, besides being the blind militant swordsman of an angry clergyman, is that all of Italy is home to very angry, very powerful ghosts and a very high reanimation rate. Something has made Italy a hotbed of supernatural activity and they just keep fighting at home as much as much as they do overseas.
AUSTRIA : The death of Franz Joseph, the partial/almost total collapse/death of the Habsburg Dynasty and the bad decisions of Emperor Franz Ferdinand resulted in Austria's power and populace being relocated to the Adriatic Coast where the country ended up becoming lawless and corrupt. But then the leadership of Count Hotzendorf after a political marriage brought Austria back to Vienna to wage war to reclaim their capital.
At the cost of burning Vienna to the ground and getting a lot of people killed.
Franz "dies mysteriously" in 1912 and the Count takes over, rebuilding Austria back into a world power and they focus on retaking as much land as they can. Which ends up eventually putting them at odds with Prague in 2023, who whups them in a war over ownership of Prague. The sole survivors of the war were one regiment whose leader decided to throw a coup and ended up killing almost the entire royal family in their coup d'etat. As a result, Austria is a schizophrenic, splintered nation with multiple claims to ownership but is by all accounts a nice place to live except for the roaming Animates that crop up from time to time from violent political coup and terrorist attempts.
Oh, and Vienna burned to the ground again during the first coup.
PRAGUE : The Czech managed to quarantine the majority of the city ASAP during the first days of the Plague and set about reinforcing what they had then used natural barriers to their advantage when it came to clearing out Prague of the Animates. Mix in the fact that some of the smartest, keenest people were in Prague during the Plague and you end up having a nation who is always on the cutting edge of alchemy and invention, using their vast knowledge to defend themselves from attackers like the Austrians or Prussians. Prague is still doing pretty well for itself, so good for them.
THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE : They collapsed, plain and simple. As soon as the dead started walking, the Balkans threw an uprising and everyone started killing each other across the board. The Animates tore their dying empire to shreds and sent them running across the Bosphorus Strait. Also the Armenians had an uprising but nobody's heard from there in a century, so.
SWITZERLAND : The Swiss survived by retreating into the Alps and staying there for safety. They're still a neutral territory and they make a living with the global economy and intel retrieval. They're also pretty afraid that the British, Prussians, French or Papacy will force them to get involved in a war they want nothing to do with that will destroy Switzerland.
CRIMEA : The Crimeans built a wall across the Isthmus of Perekop to protect themselves from Asia and ended up repeatedly building bigger walls on top of that. Now the Crimeans are cloaked and hooded mysterious traders who sail the seas, masters of the industry of commerce and trading but tight-lipped about what they're up to and how they managed to get all of those spices and precious metals if China refuses to let anyone in.
AFRICA AND THE ORIENT :
EGYPT : For some reason, the Suez Canal is blocked. The rest of the Arabic Peninsula is empty of human life and there's reports that there might be some civilization in Jerusalem but nobody's been able to make it there. Egypt is essentially off-limits unless some die-hard explorers want to try and get through the desert.
THE REST OF AFRICA : Uh. Nobody knows. See, like I said, those colonies are abandoned (except for the French ones who love that Golden King, that rascal). Occasionally people go on expeditions into Africa to try and see what still is there. The ones who return are generally crazy and, uh.
Sorta...claim that there's a bunch of voodoo empires made up of witch doctors feeding human sacrifices to legions of enslaved dead, capturing people to feed to dark jungle gods who hunger for sacrifice and attention.
HONG KONG : Under quarantine. See, all of the Animates who were walking at the start of the Plague are still walking. And the Royal Navy just does not want to deal with that shit.
CHINA : Hello Englishmen. We have everything under control. The border is closed. Please do us a kindness and fuck right off.
INDIA : Being abandoned by the British resulted in infighting between different ethnic groups and ideologies. And on top of that, India is now a hotbed of vampire activity to the extent that over 300 species of vampire make their homes in India. Nobody really wants India anymore so they just let them slowly...y'know, die.
SINGAPORE : Singapore managed to hold its in a small town nestled in its territory. When asked how they survived, they politely smiled and refused to comment on why they were not dead but thriving. As a result, a lot of Navy seamen are kind of scared of Singapore, trading with them but not trusting them, keeping them under quarantine until they can clear out the area, rebuild and get a straight answer.
NORTH AMERICA AND SOUTH AMERICA :
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA : Washington DC was the city that managed to survive because they had lots of soldiers and lots of guns compared to civilians. The process of the American Reclamation resulted in a general shift towards state's rights, seeing as how the federal government was kinda eaten alive and the states did what they could to help their populations survive. The Northeast was retaken slowly with the help of..drum-roll please...
NIKOLA TESLA, MAKING HIS MANDATORY APPEARANCE!
Yes, Nikola Tesla, he of the lightning and coils and the shocking and the death ray. Tesla invented an electrical relay system where "aetheric energy" is broadcast into the air from coal-powered towers, removing the need for electrical cables and creating a nation where every state has at least one giant lightning machine that powers EVERYTHING that needs electricity by pumping the ambient air full of aetheric energy. In fact, thanks to Tesla helping reestablish America's communication infrastructure, America was able to reestablish communications with Britain and give them the plans for the Tesla Towers, so now Britain is full of completely wireless free energy too.
Aside from this, America is very reliant on train power to get around too and has been hit pretty hard by the Blight. Everywhere west of the Red River and Mississippi River is lost to the Wastelands and day by day Texas is getting more and more consumed, which is a problem because Texas is responsible for the majority of America's oil. As a country, America would rather play by itself and keep tending to its own needs, thanks. But they're still willing trading partners with Britain, France and Prussia and they allow travel to and from them. And seeing as how France is being all weird to everyone else except America (who has a pretty good history together with them, all things considered), Americans might be more privvy to some secrets than anyone else.
MEXICO : Is doing well. Probably. There's nothing about Mexico besides "Mexico is doing okay". So good for you, Mexico.
HAITI, CUBA, ATLANTIC ISLANDS : Willing to make contact with British and American traders but very shy and isolationist.
SOUTH AMERICA : Abandoned to the Blight and Animates. Nobody knows what the fuck is going on down there.
CANADA : Canada survived due to having a big population that was scattered over dozens and dozens of thousands of miles. They retook what they needed to from small armies of Animates then rebuilt the railroads and came back together to politely declare freedom from British rule. Canada is implied to be doing pretty well, except for the whole "sub-Arctic" environment wreaking havoc on their desperately-in-need-of-repair rail system that might end up dooming the country if it breaks.
So that's the world. Also, please note, that Australia is not mentioned anywhere. At all. You'd think they would mention "oh we went to Australia and here's what happened" but no, fuck poor Australia, leave all those poor Aboriginals, colonists and criminals to the fate of the Animates.
See, the neglect of Australia really sets me off. The game has a WHOLE mess of world-building for places we'll never go to, ever, because London Is The Most Important City In The World. No offense to Crimea, but in the context of this game who gives a fuck about Crimea because all they do is be mysterious sailors. And in the first edition it was a lot worse! For starters, India and Egypt didn't get a damn mention in the slightest. Yeah, sure, they're landlocked and the land is full of the undead but come ON. It mentions that the Brits are reclaiming their empire but it doesn't mention them or Australia? Why? And when they're mentioned here they literally have three to four sentences summing them up because ultimately, yeah they're sorta important to hear about at least even if they're never gonna be traveled to. There are literally two sentences for India:
Without a powerful British presence in India, the region fragmented into a number of smaller countries dominated by rival ethnic groups. Its densely populated cities were reportedly decimated by the Plague, and India remains a haunted land where over three hundred documented species of vampire prowl the night.
"WHOOPS INFIGHTING. ALSO LOTS OF VAMPIRES." They realize that they kinda messed up world building by not including important places but then just get some kinda lazy plot hooks too. And that sounds interesting, damn it! An adventure where you're a bunch of heavily armed Brits taking on a horde of Indian vampires who do weird shit because they're exotic and new? That sounds cool! But this game doesn't want me to play anywhere outside of London even though LONDON IS THE LAST PLACE I WANT TO BE. Yes this world is gonna fucking die and everyone is screwed and has a dark heart and blah blah blah but at least give me some freedom of choice to try to help prolong the life expectancies of other countries who aren't heavily polluted, socially-inequal, on-the-last-breath-before-death hellholes. Being set with a Victorian theme does not inherently mean I have to be only in England. I do not want to see people from other countries come and go like passing ships in the night whenever a dignitary visits.
And they're never gonna make a spin-off France or Prussia splatbook because really the mechanics and the atmosphere cannot work anywhere but London but I don't want to be in London anymore. I want to know why the hell France is so weird or if Australia got mysteriously swallowed up by the great beast Leviathan and that's why we're short a major country who should be important. That's ultimately the biggest failing of Unhallowed Metropolis. It sets up this big, sprawling unappealing meal that is all about a doomed place, gives me a fork and knife to dig in and then it teases me with things I might actually enjoy more than being a Brit in a gas mask shooting vampires but I can't play it because that's not the game. It gives me massive creative blue balls and a headache and yet...I still think about this damn game at times and how it's taunting me with a whole bunch of dirty little secrets it will never reveal to me.
So yeah, next time mechanics and shit.
NEXT TIME: MECHANICS AND SHIT
Chapter Two, Part OneOriginal SA post
Alright. I'm recharged, I'm ready to talk some more about Unhallowed Metropolis and I hope y'all are ready to hear about what kind of characters you can make. So without further ado, London beckons.
CHAPTER TWO: PLAYING GOD (or A TREATISE ON THE NEO-VICTORIAN AND HOW THEY ARE TRULY SCREWED)
PART ONE: BASIC CHARACTER CREATION AND CORRUPTION
Unhallowed Metropolis wants you to have a character you can step into and role-play and empathize with. I would assume if your players break down weeping because their characters are faced with the shadow of death and failure then you've got the right players for this. Or don't make a character you like. Whatever. Unhallowed Metropolis isn't the boss of you. Just enjoy London.
Character creation isn't particularly hard and I'll outline the basic framework before I get technical.
Pick a Calling, AKA a class. There's eight callings in this book and I'll be going over them and what they entail.
Select starting attributes. You have a minimum of 1 point in each Attribute and you have 25 points to spend. Raising costs points equal to the new value, so it's 3 to go to 3 from 2, 9 to go from 1 to 4, etc. Any unused points are saved for later.
Select Skills. Your calling gives you some skills for free that you can bump up from their starting rank or you can buy new skills that start at 1 for 1 point. Increasing a skill costs points equal to the new value, you have 25 points to spend, any unspent points are lost to the aether.
Pick your character's corruption. I'll talk about Corruption a bit before I get into step one.
Spend custom points. Any unspent attribute points are multiplied by two and added onto the 5 Custom Points you get. They're used to buy stats you wanted but couldn't access at the previous stages, so it's coming back and polishing it up.
Pick Qualities and Impediments. Qualities give you bonuses, Impediments hinder you but give you custom points. You can take up to 20 points in Impediments and as many Qualities you can take. If you want to.
Buy equipment then finish your description.
CORRUPTION : Corruption stems from
Aura of Deformity: You just have this palpable sense of dread menace that rolls off you like stink on wet dog. You can actually use this to your advantage but when you're at that level, everyone is afraid of you and not in a good way. See, fear leads to hate leads to mob justice or maybe you just cannot live in society any longer so you flee into the Wastelands to find solace in the company of other monsters.
Cursed: This is the equivalent of taking Bad Luck in any other game (aka don't take this). The big problem is that it never actually happens to you, it happens to
in the area around you. This can range from stubbed toes to higher rates of reanimation to life being constantly full of death traps. Get this too high and you'll end up the epicenter of a massive catastrophe that takes you and a lot of other people with you.
Illness: Cancer, poison, The Consumption, bitten by a hobo and given a wasting disease. There's something wrong with your body and it's slowly killing you. You can't have the Able Bodied or Long Living Qualities and at higher levels you're more and more debilitated. At Rating 4 you should be spending 12 hours a day on bedrest and you're not really up-to-snuff to do anything when you're out of bed. At its highest rating, you pass away and Reanimate.
Monstrous: You're mutated and misshapen. Maybe you're ugly or sliced and scarred, but the influence of the world keeps causing these grotesque features to get worse and worse. You can't have the Haunting Beauty Quality nor can you take the Defect Impediment. As it progresses you go from having an ugly mug to being twisted and swollen and tumorous like the Elephant Man with stretching, distending limbs and a curled spine. Eventually your body will fail and you will reanimate.
Ravenous: You like eating a lot more than scop. At first you're just hungry constantly, always snacking and carrying things to eat on you, needing to beat rolls to not have some food on you and being agitated in the presence of others without it. Then you have a favorite food that you need to focus. Then you have to eat every two hours, like a pig, or you can't handle other people. Then you have to eat raw meat and can't stomach cooked food. Then raw human meat fresh from the source. Then you lose your mind to the urge to devour living people and stalk the streets gorging yourself on anyone in reach. Luckily, this is London and everyone is armed, so you won't be too long like this.
Addiction: A pretty common thing in London, addiction means you can't function without your fix. At 3 you are no longer a functional addict, followed by living to feed your addiction, followed by being an empty shell of a person. If you go past 5, you disappear into the depths of London to keep chasing their addiction and are never found again.
Anhedonia: You can no longer feel joy. Which...is a really bad thing because yeah you can't be happy anymore but you're equally not ready to die. At first. So you keep going through the motions and become more and more depressed, unable to function in society. Eventually you kill yourself or fall into a catatonic state. And you can be carted off to the local sanitarium or just left to die in the streets.
Defiler: This is the trait that, uh, certain "kinds" of players would take. It involves sex and it involves pursuing the innocent and the beautiful until you can destroy them and mar their beauty with your conquest and share new desires with them and yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. If you go totally corrupt, a mob of just citizens will find your ass and stomp it and nobody will stop them.
Hedonist: A little bit of Addiction, a little bit of Defiler, boom. Hedonism. You become more and more obsessed with pursuing pleasure until you end up reaching an ironic death, like death by VD or being murdered by a jealous lover or sky-diving off a zeppelin and landing in the Thames. I may have made the last one up.
Obsession: You get hooked on thinking about or focusing on one thing. Maybe it's theories or bits of string or having trophies. Eventually you will waste away while worshiping it and die in squalor thinking about it.
Consumed: You have one purpose in your life and your work is not yet done. Maybe it's galvanic reanimation, maybe it's building a life-size naked female body model out of spend bullet casings. Your ideas are beasts that will devour your mind and FUCK SLEEP. Eventually you will work yourself to death, finished or not.
Craven: You're a coward and you will do anything to protect yourself. You will throw others into the line of fire, you will suck that dick, you will curl up and cry on the floor and pray it doesn't try to hurt you. Eventually you'll die of a heart attack from anxiety or die in bed in the night curled up under your sheets praying the sun will come and protect you.
Dissolution: Nothing you do will matter. No matter your works, they will become undone. You go from making small mistakes in things to having children born dead to having absolutely every success brought low by one tiny overlooked flaw. Eventually a small mistake will undo the life of your character and kill them.
Killer Instinct: You're callous, a cold-hearted motherfucker. Everyone is a means to an end, the expendable can be eliminated and destroyed and eventually murder becomes the fastest solution to getting anything you want. Eventually you will lose your mind to your instincts to kill and slink off into the city narrows, feared by citizens and hunted by the police and other killers.
Twisted: You like to kill. Serially. More specifically, you're interested in science and medicine to a dangerous degree. You want to explore the secrets of the flesh (and not using your cock) so eventually you become more and more obsessed with seeing how people work. Using a scalpel. At its highest point, you will take yourself apart and see how your own body operates and it never ends well.
There's also Devil's Luck. Devil's Luck can be invoked once per session and what it does is it forces the GM to pull your certainly-doomed ass out of the fire so you can live to fight another day. Invoking Devil's Luck, however, invites the GM to give you a touch of karma for your action, rough you up in the escape and add another point to your Corruption Track.
So how else can you gain Corruption? Repeated exposure and repeatedly doing certain things in game can result in it being assigned to you. Say you keep doing heroin in game. Eventually your ass is gonna be Addicted to Heroin, yeah? You can gain multiple Corruption Tracks this way. Or you can do something bad , something so bad the GM punishes you with it. GM punishment can't raise your tracks past 3, though, and it raises it 1 point per Track.
It's also advised that the GM tries to tempt you with your Corruptions, but some of them probably won't come up in game unless they throw things intentionally your way. It also doesn't totally make sense for you to raise some of your Corruption through doing stuff in game. Like, killing children would result in raising your Killer Instinct. How the heck are you supposed to raise your Monstrous Corruption or your Cursed Corruption? It's a good idea but it's not executed particularly well.
You also have the option to redeem yourself and lower your corruptions. Every attempt needs to be roleplayed and requires you to take efforts to behave yourself for a number of sessions equal to the number you want to reduce. You also can't spend any Second Chances during redemption and must declare you're redeeming yourself step by step. Physical corruption can be redeemed through abstinence, exercise, therapy and surgery. Beating physical corruption requires help from others and coming to terms with what's happening to yourself. Reducing desire requires abstinence and might need to involve isolation, meditation and religion. This requires your friends to leave you alone to handle it and work it out by yourself. To lower drive, you have to try to life a healthy, better life. You have to sleep better, live better and not obsess on things and friends and family should help them keep their minds off work.
Like I said, this requires multiple campaigns. Most of these rules don't really apply if you're doing one-shots or small campaigns and unless your GM is pulling some punches and trying to keep a long-term thing going, a bullet or a claw through an artery is gonna kill you before you can become a better person.
But that's London for you.
NEXT TIME: Character classes, assets, stats and skills.
Chapter Two, Part TwoOriginal SA post
Escaped Russian psychic gunslinger ambling about the Mojave Desert, trying to outrun Nazis who want him for his SPECIAL BRAIN.
Also someone said London three times so you know what that means. LIVE FROM AUSTRALIA, IT'S...
CHAPTER TWO: PART TWO (or ASSHOLES, ASSHOLES, ASSHOLES AND THE DOOMED)
Okay, so Callings. Let's start with callings. Callings are classes, every calling gets some little aspects (called Features) that let them customize what it is they do appropriate to what the characters want. The Callings are Aristocrat, Criminal, Deathwatch Soldier, Detective, Dhampir Vampire Hunter, Doctor, Mourner, Undertaker.
ARISTOCRATS : Aristrocrats are rich! Aristocrats tend to get better learning or eclectic learning from multiple tutors and they get class bonuses from the Etiquette skill. Their Features are Blue Blood which means you can call on familiar or friendly relationships to get doors open for them (just don't be a dick about it) and Deference which means if you do some bad shit in front of people like the cops, so long as you are nice to the cops about it and display that you're an Aristocrat you can get away with certain things.
The other Feature they get is Intrigant. It has different stat bonuses and for every level in Etiquette they get another one they can select.
Allegiance: People in your service love you and don't want to disappoint you so they'll do shit for you to the best of their abilities.
Big Game Hunter: You go on Safari in the Wastelands because you're crazy as hell and your trophies tend to terrify people who aren't nuts like you. You get one free reroll on any Survival skill related to the Wastelands and you also get a free elephant gun or heavy revolver and gun brace.
Casanova: You can reroll a failed Seduction roll once. You also get +1 to dealing with any character you previously seduced.
Duellist (sic): +1 to intimidate anyone who knows the fact that you will gladly kill people who try to fuck with you. You also get +1 to seduction as honorably killing people gets prospective dates wet. You can kill anyone in a duel and get away with it if you do it in a honorable and fair duel but if you cheat your ass is grass.
Gossip: You can add Etiquette to Intellect rolls for info on current events because you're a gossip.
Innuendo: You can encode things in doublespeak to say things aloud that the average unwashed idiot can't understand. He does not realize that the gun represents your penis. Listeners can make a Charm roll to understand what a thirteen year old boy understands the moment he watches stuff on TV.
Military Family: You're a fortunate son. +1 Charm rolls to military stuff and you can get the benefit of joining a branch of service for any job you want. Your parents might disown you if you join Deathwatch though. You also might be able to ask for some favors to get soldiers to help you out but don't abuse it.
Personage of Distinction: You're so goddamn Aristocratic that lower class and middle class wanting to hurt you have to pass a Will roll equal to your Etiquette+11 and if they don't succeed they kinda just slink away.
Social Predator: You can get one free reroll Interrogation and Intimidation rolls because you're a sharp-toothed beast who ruins shit with your poison tongue.
Stirring Speech: You know how to talk loudly and emotionally. If you have to represent yourself, you can reroll a failed Credibility roll.
Untouchable: You can get away with a
. You can only get caught if you're actually holding the flamethrower you used to burn down the orphanage and even then you only get in trouble if it gets in the papers.
Vogue: You're stylish. One free Charm reroll when you're talking to Young Sexy Rich People.
good at lying. One free reroll to a failed Guile roll.
CRIMINALS : You live by being, uh, a criminal. You get the Feature Flash Thief which means that you get to pick an amount of bonus stats based on your Streetwise level.
Adventuress: You're an upper middle class folk down on your luck doing their damnedest to be be an aristocratic consort and you gotta act like it. You can get some bonuses from your aristocrat friends but don't be a dick about it.
Alibi: You can always have someone vouch for you who follows what you told them. They can be reputable or crazed homeless but there's no shortage of them.
Broadsman: You're a card sharp and you get one free Gambling reroll when cheating at cards. Don't get caught.
Cant: You get Rank 5 Thieves Cant and Rhyming Slang, that weird thief language where everything rhymes and is sorta like saying the actual word, like how Solomon Grundy stands for Soiled Undies. If you can actually RP this, you're a crazier man than I am.
Casanova: Same as if you're an aristocrat.
Cat Burglar: A free reroll on Climbing or Coordination because you know how to break into people's houses.
Confidence Man: Ey bruv. Got a real good deal for you. One free reroll for Guile rolls, yeah? Fell off the back of a Prussian zepp, swear on me mum.
Cracksman: One free reroll on Safecracking rolls because you're damn fine at it.
Escapist: One free reroll on Escapology rolls because, once again, you're good at it.
Fagin: You got a whole mess of moppets and urchins who serve you along with a den to keep them and their stolen gear in.
Ghost: When you get on the streets, everyone goes mum on who you are or where you are. You also get a free safe house.
Gut Feeling: If you get Surprise Attacked, it misses. You have a canny danger sense.
Man of a Thousand Faces: Reroll failed disguise rolls and you have a bunch of different personas to adopt.
Mobsman: You're a thug! You work for a boss in a gang and do jobs for him in and off-screen in the game.
Negotiator: You know how to, uh, negotiate. Free reroll for Credibility, good at it, etc.
Nobbler: +3 to Intimidate anyone you've physically hurt because you're good at inflicting specific, intense pain with minimal effort. Should you torture someone, you can do damn near any damage to them without trying.
Phantom: Free Shadow reroll, good at it, etc.
Procurer: Know a guy, good at it, reroll Streetwise to find what you need.
Rothschild: You're good at pretending to be rich and well-off. Use Streetwise instead of Etiquette when making a roll to lie to the rich and you get a free pair of Rich Clothes with which to wear while lying.
Screwsman: Lockpicking, free reroll, etc.
Tooler: Pickpocket, rerolling, etc.
DEATHWATCH SOLDIER : Join Deathwatch! See people! Shoot people! Shoot lots of people! Burn their houses to the ground! Go back to base, exercise until you can't feel anymore and cry yourself to sleep in your bunk! There's an available Quality and Impediment related to being in Deathwatch. The Quality is being in the Deathwatch Rifle Brigade, a prestigious team of marksman soldiers who excel at sniping. The Impediment is being in the Penal Corps, which means you're an expendable crook not given the full benefit of their training and loyalty programs. You get three Features. Familiarity: Animate means you never have to make a fear test face to face with Animates, Plague Resistance gives you +2 to fight off and avoid The Plague and you also get Military Training which gives you bonuses based on Survival.
Broad Shoulders: Your armor doesn't reduce your Coordination stat.
Bullet to the Brain: No attack roll modifier for called headshots.
Field Medic: No penalties for bad operating conditions because you're so used to digging around in someone's body in the middle of a pile of rubble and not giving them a lethal staph infection.
Hold Off: You can parry while grappling due to training with bear-hugging Animates.
Keen Eyed: Reroll Perception rolls to notice things.
Peak of Vitality: You're healthy and BUFF AS HELL. Free Strong Man Quality and you can reroll some physical rolls.
Supply Chain: You know how to requisition some extra gear from a friend in the supply depot. Break, lose or pawn anything and you are FUCKED next time you need a gun.
War Hero: You've seen things, man. And Britain smiles upon your service. Free Credibility rerolls.
Wastelander: Reroll failed Survival rolls that do with the Wastelands due to actually being there and seeing some shit.
Wrench Free: You can escape the grips of the undead and get a +3 to breaking grapples.
DETECTIVE : Law is the necessary fist that squeezes crime out of the city. Something something metaphor. You can be associated with the cops or not. Either way you're a private dick with a gun, a mask, a duster and penchant for asking questions to crooks. Your Feature is Investigator, which gives you bonuses based on Forensic Science.
By the Book: You can use Forensic Science instead of Wit when it comes to interacting with crime scenes. If your Wit is higher, you get +1 to your Wit.
Cleaner: Using a Forensic Science roll you can tamper with crime scenes to make things seem different then they really are.
Cryptanalyst: Reroll Cryptography, good at it, etc.
Dark Lantern: You can operate where the law doesn't want you to. You can reroll Guile rolls.
Encyclopaedic Knowledge: Reroll General Knowledge if you need to.
Inside Knowledge: You have a buddy on the force who tips you off to things if you need a clue.
Insight: You can make a Wit roll to see if people are lying to you.
Investigative Journalist: You write about your cases. Add Forensic Science to Writing to write better for some extra cash. You can also reroll Writing if need be. Can't take this if you're a Police Detective or Illiterate.
Manhunter: You're good at tracking. You can reroll Tracking if you're following a person.
Man of a Thousand Faces
Master Detective: Reroll Forensic Science to see if you missed anything. You're good at it, you see.
Police Detective: You're on the force and you have some leeway and assets as a copper that can be taken away if you abuse them or act outside of allowable limits.
Renowned: Reroll Credibility because you're kind of a big deal.
Stone Faced: Reroll Interrogation/Intimidation because you're a cold motherfucker.
DHAMPIR VAMPIRE HUNTER : Goddamn you better ready to be a pretty, nimble, fey motherfucker. I mean that, the book calls you tragic, romantic anti-heroes. Basically you managed to catch Vampirism somehow but you overcame it. Good news is you're not a vampire and people think that's awesome and you're interesting so come to this high-society party and do cocaine off tits with me. Bad news is you're a Dhampir. Dhampirs are half-lifers like ghouls, love the taste of blood and get some trippy vampire powers powered by blood even though it's YOUR CURSE and you really shouldn't drink the stuff. When we get to Vampires, I'll explain what some of these bonuses mean. Dhampirs get Alien Grace, Blood Drinker, Half Lifer, Hatred of Vampires, Heightened Vision, Immune to Vampiric Mind Control, Sense Undead, Unnatural Passions, Vampiric Transformation. Your big Feature is Blood Legacy, meaning leveling the Concentration skill lets you use other vampire powers at a lower level to help you out.
the first thing you can get lets you get laid faster.
Dustman: You're damn good at staking vampires. No penalties for making a called melee heart shot.
Immortality: Never age. Ever.
Lingering Vitality: Drinking fresh blood from a living donor gives you longer bonuses.
Noctuary Agent: You hang out with other professional vampire killers in their clubhouse. You get +1 to charming the other agents and can use the organization to your advantage.
Paragon of Inhumanity: You reside in the Uncanny Valley. You were hot, now you're hot in a predatory, creepy killer way and people can't help but notice. You get the Quiet and Haunting Beauty Quality.
Secrets of Blood: Drink blood, learn about the source. Drink a vampire's blood, learn EVERYTHING about them and their sires.
Sol Invictus: You focused really, really hard and now sunlight doesn't damage you ever again.
Tempered Passions: You can reroll failed Hatred Against Vampire rolls.
Transfixing Gaze: You can Transfix. LOOK INTO MY EYES.
Vigil of the Damned: You don't need to sleep anymore. Fun fact: this can drive you cuckoo bananas. Roll to fall asleep and give your sanity a rest.
DOCTOR : Be a goddamn doctor in anything you want. Nothing is off limits and it's actually expected that you learn multiple fields of science and medicine. Because let's face it: a lot of people are dying and the more that die means the less people can specialize in shit. Be a chemist, be a reanimator, be a philosopher, be all three. Your main Feature is Black Bag, based on your Medicine skill.
Alchemical Reanimist: Get a free reroll when it comes to bringing the dead back to life with alchemy using Alchemical Reanimation. It's a hell of a dangerous field though, and failures can be as bad as a success.
Chemist: Reroll when it comes to Alchemical rolls for chemistry.
Credentials: Your name has weight in the field. Keep up a good rep and you can have good amounts of patients and other scientists to call on. You can also add Medicine to Charm rolls for dealing with other doctors.
Euthanasia: You can roll to kill people and patients surreptitiously and make it look like they succumbed to their wounds.
Forensic Pathology: Use Medicine to autopsy and study the dead to find out who killed them, why and how.
Healer: Anyone you tend to recovers in half the time they would normally take.
Heal Thyself: Stave off immediate death by doing what you can, taking no penalties to operate on yourself at death's door.
Legally Sanctioned: You can perform illegal experiments because the government lets you and keeps up to date on your work. Just keep it under wraps.
Life Bringer: You can reroll failed Manufactured Life rolls whenever attempting to make Homunculi or make Anathemas.
Peerless Surgeon: Reroll a failed Medicine roll when you're knife-deep in someone's chest.
Plague Doctor: You can help someone infected with the Plague or Vampirism escape their effects by repeatedly tending to them. Being treated by a Plague Doctor can let you reroll an attempt to stave off or fight off infection.
Promethean Surgeon: Good at creating Galvanic Life, you can reroll failed Medicine or Galvanics rolls related to making and giving them life.
Street Doc: Free Murder of Crows plus a bunch of grateful working class patients who can aid you.
MOURNER : You're trained to kill with knives and you're very good at it. Mourners are also bodyguards of the rich and famous and a Mourner tends to become a family attachment, keeping watch over the family members living or dead. You're basically an exemplar of purity, loyalty and duty and you must keep quiet with a stiff upper lip at all times. It's a hard, lonely life as a Mourner. Her main features are Exculpus Mastery (their trademark weapons), Familiarity: Animate and Guild Training which depends on her Concentration.
Body Mastery: +1 to Initiative and dodge due to years of training.
Death Councilor: Mourners are surprisingly good grief councilors, giving them Credibility bonuses to comfort any upset or grieving characters.
Decapitator: Any called attacks to the head that deal an incapacitating wound or greater instantly lop off the head of the victim.
Disciplined Mind: She can no longer fail any Fear rolls and gets a free reroll when dealing with psychic attacks, possession or the mesmerizing gaze of a vampire.
Disconcerting: You're more than a wee bit creepy, lass. +1 to Intimidating.
Focused Healing: You recover from wounds and heal in half the time through force of will.
Force of Will: Use Will instead of Vitality for Vitality rolls. If Vitality is greater, +1 to Vitality for the roll.
Head Taker: No penalties to using an Exculpus for called head shots.
Latent Medium: Constant exposure to the dead and dying has given you Second Sight. You can't take any further psychic abilities.
Permanent Situation: You're the house Mourner of a family who has hired you on for good. You're the bodyguard and have Wealth 6 to start with along with a room of ones own. But you have to behave and not tarnish their name.
Twin Blade Fighting: Use
Exculpi at the same time with no hindrances.
Undertaker : You decided to kill for a living for your own reasons. Money, to help the weak, money, kicked out of Deathwatch, because you were broke, money money money. Undertakers are freelance monster killers and shitkickers who almost always start work as boisterous, eager young folks bragging about their conquests who quickly become quiet, callous and efficient. London is miserable and steeped in death like a tea bag in a cup, and the people who know that as much as Criminals are Undertakers. Undertakers have Familiarity-Animates, Plague Resistance, Tough (which doesn't inflict any hindrances for being Seriously Wounded and can remain awake when Incapacitated) and Monster Hunter which depends on Survival.
Bullet to the Brain
Deadeye: You can spot the dead on sight regardless of distance or conditions. Translation: reroll Perception if you need to.
Eviscerator: You can destroy an Animate's whole ability to move with a Fatal hit to the torso. It can still bite, though. Be careful.
Huntsman: Reroll Tracking when it comes to following the undead and Thropes.
Lore Master: Free reroll for Parapsychology.
Mortifier: You can impersonate an Animate for a brief bit through a Survival roll. Just be careful other people with guns don't fall victim to your illusion.
Thought Mask: Reroll Will to resist Mental attacks.
Weapons Expert: You can use any weapon at skill level 2, regardless of training.
There are also rules for Custom Characters. In a nutshell: limited skills, limited features, limited qualities, point-buy. Translation: custom characters tend to suck hard.
So those are the different callings. In any other game, or under less bleak circumstances, I might be so inclined to think that some of these guys are awesome or fun to play. And I'll be honest: don't ask me if they're balanced or not because I really don't know. But we're getting close to the end of character creation, so next time I'll talk about skills and attributes and things that help or hinder you.
NEXT TIME: FINISHING CHARACTER CREATION
Chapter Two, Part ThreeOriginal SA post
Actual changes between editions: it turns out the original edition only had six Callings. The revised edition added Deathwatch Soldier and Detective to the list. Other changes of note: Dhampirs didn't have multiple features that depended on the level of a skill, they just had trippy vampire benefits. Guild Training for Mourners were set benefits and they also had Meditations which let the Mourner sit perfectly still and motionless for up to three days so you could actually roll to do a vigil over a corpse/win a staring contest. You could select some of the Exculpus bonuses under Exculpus Mastery. The others that do have selectable bonuses also had much less to offer. Undertakers didn't have a wealth level, lived in tiny rundown flats and they had landlords that were terrified of them. So once upon a time you could be The Soldier as portrayed in TF2's comics.
Halloween Jack posted:
The writers of Victoriana also just put down the history books when they came upon the subject of anarchy, and decided that the "Nihilists" really were nihilists who wanted to blow everything up and loot and rape what was left. It's almost as if steampunk geeks are a lot of servile petty bourgeoisie.
I dunno about you, but I feel like an asshole right about now.
CHAPTER TWO: PART THREE (SKILLS, QUALITIES, ETC.)
So your Attributes are Vitality, Coordination, Wit, Intellect, Will, Charm, Prowess. Or Strength/Constitution, Dexterity, Wisdom, Intelligence, Charisma and Combat Modifiers. Some of your Attribute levels are hindered by your age.
Vitality: High means you're BUFF AND HEALTHY, low means you're weak and sickly. 0 Vitality means you dead, son. An important skill. Helps boost melee combat rolls and reduce damage/environmental effects rolls.
Coordination: Dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge. Helps determine Prowess.
Wit: High means sharp senses and observation, low means you're kinda just dumb and ignorant. Helps determine Prowess.
Intellect: Knowledge and smarts, limits your Academic Skill levels.
Will: Strength of mind and focus, helps you resist psychological trauma and seeing dead scary people, scary dead people or some unholy hybrid of both.
Charm: Lying, intimidating, smooth-talking, picking' up ladies.
Prowess: Helps determine how often you act in Combat. Add Coordination and Will.
And then there are Skills. The game advises you be creative with their uses. Don't tell me what to do, game! Having a 5 in a Skill is generally the human threshold but you can have up to 6 if you beg your GM or have the Qualities that let you.
: Academic Skill limits are set by your Intellect. They are Alchemy (chemistry+pharmacology), Cryptography, Forensic Science, Galvanics (using Galvanic weapons and making/fixing them), History, Hypnosis (a complicated thing to try), Law, Medicine, Natural Science (biology, earth science, etc), Parapsychology (psychic knowledge, supernatural folklore skill), Psychology, Thanatology (studying the undead, the dying and death itself), Theology.
: Skills anyone can learn. Acting, Arts, Concentration (helps Will rolls), Demolitions, Disguise, Drive Carriage, Etiquette, Gambling, Interrogation, Language (the level of each language handles how fluent you are in it), Performance, Performance, Photography, Ride, Seduction, Survival, Swim. Swimming has some more background information: water can become tainted, like the Thames, and sometimes it has to be purified. There also tend to be things worse than Animates, Thropes and Anathemas underwater, big squamous whatevers that like eating folks.
: Do fighting better. Every rank in a Combat Skill lets you pick a bonus to that kind of fighting like when you select bonuses from a Feature, like quick draw, resisting grapples and using gun butts to clock people in the face. Archery, Artillery, Pistol, Rifle, Thrown Weapon, Unarmed Combat.
: Stuff bad people do that you can do. Escapology, Forgery, Lock Picking, Pickpocket, Safecracking, Shadowing, Streetwise.
WEALTH : Your Wealth stat is just a general reflection of your quality of living and if you ever need to scare up some extra cash then this is what you can expect to find.
0: You have no money. Ever. If you ever manage to find anything, it goes towards tiny amounts of food and you're utterly reliant on other people's help. You're probably gonna starve to death and you lose all starting Assets.
1: You're really really poor. You're hand to mouth but you can afford food at least at the cost of not owning any bed with a roof over it.
2: You're lower working class and probably make money through illegal means. You've got the means to support a small family at the cost of stretching everything pretty thin and make about 12 shillings a week.
3: You're poor but well employed, like a servant or lazy Undertaker. 25 shillings a week, most of it goes towards food and shelter.
4: Lower class but successful. You're probably on the way to doing better for yourself. 40 shillings a week.
5: Lower middle class. You can afford a warm home and good doors and window to keep the smog out. 60 shillings.
6: Middle class with a good income and 80 shillings a week.
7: You're pretty good in your field and make 6 quid a week on top of better living.
8: Very successful and very well off. 10 quid a week.
9: You don't have to work for a living anymore! 25 quid a week and servants. Also criminals probably want to burgle your house.
10: Rich as hell and decadent to boot. 50 quid a week but a lot of it goes towards keeping up your lifestyle.
Ran out of drawn art for this chapter so I'm dipping into the live-action women with goggles and corsets vault.
QUALITIES AND IMPEDIMENTS : You can have 20 points of Impediments and Qualities have costs that you can spend Custom Points on. I'll list them down here by Qualities and Impediments.
: Animal Empathy, Believed Dead, Business (variable, many levels), Club Membership, Connections (variable), Credentials, Creditor (variable, you're owed a debt or two), Criminal Associations, Estate (aristocrat only), Expressive Eyes, Love (variable, talk to the GM, "talented boy prostitute" is listed as an example of, uh, true love. If you're into that.), Murder of Crows (network of friends, associates, etc. who watch out for you), NCO Rank (Deathwatch only, variable, lets you be a corporal or Sgt. Major, get relevant bonuses), Nondescript, Officer Rank (Deathwatch, variable, be a LT., Captain, Major), Patron (variable, don't be a dick and abuse your privileges to sleep in the crisper drawer
), Private Anatomy Theater (no, this is not porn), Private Laboratory, Private Library (variable), Reputation (Street or Underground), Rifle Brigade Marksman, Safehouse, Savings, Title (Aristocrat, variable), Trusted Servant, Upper Class, Veteran (can't be taken by current Deathwatch), Wealth.
Supermundane, aka Supernatural But Victorian
: Bad Tasting, Dreamer (very very very minor and unreliable precognition through dreams), Incorruptible, Poison Blood, Quiet (sneaking so well that even vampires might not be able to find you).
: Able Bodied (heal better), Ambidextrous, Gigantism, Haunting Beauty (so goddamn pretty you get +2 to non-intimidation Charm rolls versus sexually compatible characters), Light Sleeper, Long Lived, Strong Man.
: Faith, Linguist, Photographic Memory, Resolve (failing a fear roll shakes you but doesn't need another fear roll), Savant, Time Sense (internal clock).
: Criminal Record, Debt, Disowned (aristocrat only), Immigrant (yeah so I was wrong about there being no more racism. But c'mon, you kinda figured, right?), Nemesis (variable, higher levels ensure your doom), Nomad, Notoriety, Penal Corps Soldier, Poor, Secret, Thick Accent (I yam not a Communist, fellow citizen. You are to be thinkink incorrectly, da?), Unlicensed (Undertaker only meaning congrats you're an unofficial killer for hire who has to get another guy to turn in his proof of kill and the police can harass you over it), Wanted, Ward (aka Millstone NPC).
: Daylight's Curse (Dhampir only. The sun burns but doesn't kill), Good Tasting, Infectious Bite (Dhampir only, be careful when feeding), Malignity (+1 corruption in any path. I...am not sure why you'd take this except for the "bonuses"), Plague Kissed (you
become an Animate after death), Sadist (Dhampir only), Weak Blood (Dhampir only. You can't heal from blood, you age normally, you don't get some Dhampir abilities others might).
: Accelerated Decrepitude (you age 3-4 times faster than normal. This is apparently becoming a big problem for people being born. There's a lot of downsides to this, dying from this turns you into an Animate, and this is now Yet Another Thing that might bring London to its knees), Albinism, Allergy (variable from "achoo" to "ergh dead"), Amputee (variable depending on what's missing though prosthetic replacements do exist), Asthma (variable, a terrible idea considering the
), Blind, Consumptive (you have tuberculosis and there are a lot of downsides to it), Deaf, Defects (very common, can only be taken once and then they're determined, perfect for playing an inbred aristocrat), Evil Eye, Fits (variable, causes seizures, why would you take this), Glass Jaw, Haemophilia (historically accurate but not a good thing to take), Lame (as in bad legs), Leper (
why would you take this
, make monthly rolls to see how you're doing), Lost Eye, Midget, Mute, Prosthetic Oraculum (a replacement eye), Rattler (a
creepy voicebox grafted to your throat) or Ticker (replacement heart), Syphilis (apparently not recommended for PCs because y'know you automatically lose skill strength and if you take it the GM is recommended to punish you for being an idiot. I guess they never figured out that penicillin cures it).
: Amnesia (variable), Dim, Fastidious, Hypersensitive, Illiterate, Melancholy, Night Terrors, Sleepwalker, Superstition, Uncontrollable Temper, Weak Willed.
Catatonia: You tend to be depressed and fall into a torpor if exposed to too much negative stimulus or triggered. If triggered, you have to roll to muster the willpower to get out of your slump.
Delirium: Delirium, uh, actually reposts all of the stuff regarding Catatonia. So I guess we'll never know what Delirium for a character is like. Or maybe it's
doing it to confuse me.
Dementia: Sleep issues and tricks of the eyes trip you up, making you hallucinate and mistake things for something else.
Hysterical Blindness: Sometimes you just go blind, especially under stress. Roll to resist blindness and roll to resume control over your sight.
Narcolepsy: Roll and succeed to not suddenly pass out.
Necrophilia: Yes, this game can let you share a coffin for two. Apparently it's not uncommon among aristocrats and other people, which is why vampires prostitutes are still around and resurrection men can peddle non-Animate corpses to folks who love stiffs. Failing a roll means that you're immediately preoccupied with getting it on with someone dead or a person you've paid to soak in ice water but not to the extent that you will run the fuck away to go do it. Succeeding means that you have a -1 to all rolls because it's still on your mind until you're satisfied. I...wouldn't recommend taking this.
OCD: Requires some roleplaying to handle. If your tic or routine is interrupted, you have -1 on all rolls for 1d10 until it can be completed.
Panic Attack: You're prone to panic attacks. Fail a roll to resist and you're incapacitated for a spell.
Paranoia: Requires roleplaying and control checks to not fly off on a delusion.
Phobic Disorders: You're scared of certain things and if you can't run from them you have to roll to resist a panic attack or overreacting and trying to destroy it or do something stupid to escape it.
Shell Shock: You have PTSD. It's a very, very common disorder in UM. It's always active; you roll to pull your mind in order for a spell and focus. If you get startled, you have to roll to resist retaliating with excessive force.
Zoophagus Mania: I immediately wondered where the hell you'd find animals to have sex with before I read it closer. This one is weird. Very weird. It's like OCD but you have an obsession with feeding animals to other animals then eating them. Like, say, feeding flies to spiders then eating the spiders. Or flies to spiders to birds to cats to...you. Or up to and involving cannibalism and forcing others to engage in it. If the ritual of the feeding cycle is interrupted, you get -1 to all rolls if you make a composure roll. If you fail, you single-mindedly obsess over completing the cycle. I don't know who the fuck would take this or think it's a good psychological disorder to ever use ever.
So that's a hell of a thing to end on, huh? Eating animals that ate animals that ate animals that ate animals. So how do you improve characters? Well you get 1 point playing, extra points for doing well, 1-2 for participating in major events, 1 point for the conclusion of a scenario and extra points for doing a really good job. Pretty standard stuff. The prices are located in the box above and maybe you can get free levels in things during play if you need them the most or do a very good job. I'll admit, I'm not the best GM when it comes to handing out EXP, but this strikes me as pretty similar for stuff like nWoD.
So those are all the steps and aspects of character creation you need to make an actual character. I asked some of my friends for character ideas and I'm gonna do a mock-up of character creation to put it all together next time. Thanks for sticking around to see me draw it these chapters, and believe me when I say I'm condensing stuff . Right now I'm 155 pages in out of 338 and all that has been backstory, world building and character creation. I haven't even gotten to the rules of gameplay yet. Oh well. When I get there, I'll get there.
Chapter Three, Part OneOriginal SA post
Yeah if the fact that the first half of the book was solely back-story, world fluff and how to make a character wasn't clear, UM is not a game that demands a lot of dice-based attention. It is, however, gonna make it really hard to heal your damn character without the help of a Doctor. It's a real stickler for "realism", you see. This is a game where Gigantism is a benefit and a curse and Albinism is a straight-up curse. A lot of other games would let you say that you have tuberculosis as part of your latent Illness Corruption but this game actually lets you take Consumptive as an Impediment because yeah why not make sure your character is gonna die.
So without further hacking, coughing and wheezing, here's Unhallowed Metropolis.
CHAPTER THREE: THE FORMULA (or LONDON SUCKS, THEN YOU DIE)
So I sure hope you have some d10s because that's what you need. ATTRIBUTES AND SKILL ROLLS are really, really easy. Roll 2d10, add the relevant Attribute or Skill. Beat the Difficulty Rating? Congrats, you succeeded. Didn't? Whoops failure. The GM is encouraged to set the DR themselves and add modifiers as appropriate. A common one is "you can do the job in half the time at -2 penalty" or "you're in bad conditions to do this, -x modifier" or "you took the time to do this properly, +y modifier".
You automatically fail impossible tasks because, uh, they're impossible. This is a common sense thing and depends on what you're trying to attempt. An example:
SIMPLE TASK : Buying cocaine from your dealer friend Sampson.
MODERATE TASK : Making your own cocaine because Sampson ran out.
COMPLEX TASK : Convincing a policeman to let you go because you tried to sell him cocaine, idiot.
HARD TASK : Getting a guard to let you into a higher society party so you can sell your cocaine to aristocrats.
VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE TASK : Convincing Princess Lotte of Prussia to do cocaine with you because sex is better high.
IMPOSSIBLE TASK : Convincing her mom, Queen Nadja, to join you.
Failures depend on what it is you're doing. In that previous (intentionally dumb) example, you could blow up your lab, get arrested and sent to jail, get the guard mad enough to detain you, anger a Prussian princess into calling her guards or probably being straight-up kidnapped and executed. Sometimes failure means you have to look in another library for that book, sometimes failure means you didn't defuse that anarchist's bomb and now there's a bunch of police gibs raining from the sky. Failure also might make success increasingly harder and unlikely in future attempts: that party guard is gonna remember that you're the dickhead who only tried to slip him a couple of shillings to get you in so you better be a hell of a lot more persuasive.
On that note, CONTESTED ROLLS are pretty easy: you both roll 2d10+modifiers, higher number wins, no DR involved.
There's also CRITICAL SUCCESS and CRITICAL FAILURES which come from Snake Eyes and Double Tens respectively. Both should be memorable in their own ways.
ATTRIBUTES IN PLAY
The number written on your sheet is your Base Attribute, which means you can take a whole bunch of drugs to get temporary super strength, or you can get shot repeatedly in the chest with a revolver, but one way or another your Vitality is gonna return to the number on your sheet. In the meantime, though, you use that modified number until you're your normal self again.
VITALITY gets some bonus abilities depending on level. 1 is weakling, 2 is normal, 3 is exercised and fit, 4 is BUFF, 5 is BUFF , 6 is SUPERNATURALLY RIPPED , 7 is AN AFFRONT TO THE GODS OF MUSCLES . Anyone can dead lift but you need to have 3 to be able to kick in doors and 5 to be able to bend bars with your bare hands. And more maybe! Seriously, there's some leeway for the GM to let exceptionally buff characters do strong things.
COORDINATION handles climbing and falling. You can fall Coordination x 3 and not get hurt but every 3 feet extra adds +1 damage to a damage roll. What's a damage roll? We'll see in a bit. Coordination also handles leaping.
WIT can be rolled for Perception which really is the same catch-all HEY YOU NOTICE THIS IMPORTANT THING roll.
INTELLECT handles general knowledge and research.
WILL is necessary for Fear Rolls. Fear Rolls are always Everyone's Favorite Thing Ever because oh boy do I love my character being forced to do stuff. Failing a fear roll gives you -1 to all skill rolls while you're within range of the thing freaking you out and you have to make another fear roll. Pass that and you stand and st-st-stutter and shake like it's Scooby Doo. Fail and you run for it and then you have to keep making Will rolls to stop running aimlessly away from danger (and if the GM is a dick into other sources of danger).
CHARM has Credibility and Guile and Intimidation and those are pretty much what they sound like. I could stand here and explain to you that Credibility is all about convincing people that you are doing/can do/am/am not certain things and it depends on how convincing you are and if you have the walk to back up the talk but fuck that because after this section is COMBAT.
COMBAT : Hey so fighting hurts and kills people easy. So you need to be quick and you need to be accurate. INITIATIVE is determined by rolling 2d10 and adding your Prowess to it. Your Prowess gives you a variable bunch of actions you can make per round and your turn is over when you make all of your actions. Highest Initiative goes first, if tied the character with a higher Coordination goes first. This order doesn't change. There are also SURPRISE ATTACKS which is when someone says I ATTACK before combat is officially declared. You resolve the attack before it initiative is rolled.
For example: Lord Humphrey is challenged to a duel by Baron Reynolds and frankly Humphrey just cannot be assed to deal with this shit because Reynolds is just a dick and needs to be taken down a peg. So, on the dueling grounds, Humphrey's player rolls to attack before the GM asks for an initiative to roll for the duel, casually shoots Reynolds in the leg and smacks him in the face with his glove for good measure (although now Humphrey is gonna get some flak for being dishonorable).
So in combat you can hold an action, which means you can reserve some extra actions (if you have them) to immediately respond to something. Like say being shot at and using the held action to return fire or dive for cover. You have to announce that you're holding an action and you also can't use it to interrupt an action. You can use it to run away from the anarchist with a bomb, but you can't shoot the bomb in his hand before he throws it as he throws it.
To attack, roll 2d10 and add the appropriate skill to it. Unaware (or should I say Flatfooted) targets have a DR of 11 to hit, aware have 11+Coordination+relevant GM/action modifiers to hit. Man they really did crib quite a bit from D&D for this. Beat the DR and it hits. Oh and offhand weapons are -3 to hit because y'know D&D. Remember that your Combat Skills can have modifying Combat Stunts depending on what level they are. Critical Successes are relative to the attack, Critical Failures are too (but they do recommend accidentally shooting an ally or something).
Movement: moving costs an action. Running forfeits all actions and lets you run Coordination x 10 feet. You can take Evasive Action which is really just running fast and weaving but it forfeits all future actions. If you're attacked and have held actions/have not had your turn, you can parry or dodge thrown weapons or melee attacks.
Melee: 2d10+Vitality to do damage, plus or minus modifiers depending on where you hit and what you're using, then subtract relevant armor. That amount determines the kind of wound the character suffers and we'll get to that later because you really need to know right now that Improvised Melee weapons have -2 to hit or parry. However a solid blow to the head with one has a good chance of causing a Serious Wound or knockout. Unarmed attacks also require 2d10+Vitality and include Biting (-5 to hit if not grappling), Kicking (+3 to kick legs, -8 to kick someone in the head/-3 damage unless target is prone), and Punches (nothing special for punches). Kicks and punches have a higher risk of doing Serious damage to someone's head and knocking them out.
There are also GRAPPLE RULES which amounts to: roll Unarmed Combat+2d10. If it hits, they are grappled. A max of five people can grapple one person at once, make a Vitality+Unarmed Combat+2d10 contested roll to escape a grapple. You can choose to pin someone or strangle them to death, it's up to you and both have rules that amount to "make an action to do that, roll to do that, see if you did that". Using them as a human shield is different because you can just automatically do that.
Ranged: roll 2d10 and add the weapon damage and modifiers to an attack, only add Vitality if it's a thrown weapon, then remove armor. You can throw a balanced (meant to be thrown) weapon Vitality x 10 feet or unbalanced (anything else) Vitality x 6. There are modifiers, see the chart, it's nothing special. But you know what is special?
Getting shot in the head/vital squishy bits adds +5 damage to an attack. Hands or feet adds -3. For everything else there's no modifier. You only suffer the penalties of your greatest wound and they don't add up unless there's Complications (to be explained). Tracking health and wounds is...weird and kinda different. It's not like D&D's hitpoints, it's not like nWoD's damage track. If you suffer a Fatal Wound, you die. If your Vitality is reduced to below zero from multiple wounds or injuries or circumstances, you die. If you have enough Incapacitating Wounds that are untreated equal to your base Vitality score, you die.
FLESH WOUNDS: -1 to all skill rolls until treated, if the hand is injured you have to make a Coordination roll to not drop something, no long term complications, heal in two weeks maximum. Cut and scraped knees, lacerations, bruises.
SERIOUS WOUNDS: Big cuts, big wounds, minor breaks, blood loss. If the leg is hurt, make a roll to not fall over. If a hand/arm is hurt, roll to not drop things. Serious Wounds inflict -2 Coordination and Skill rolls until treated. You may have your Prowess temporarily reduced for a while but Coordination can't drop past 1. After treated but not fully healed characters have -1 to Prowess but everything other hindrance is removed. Serious Wounds heal in a month maximum.
INCAPACITATING WOUNDS: Immediately life threatening and bleeding heavily. Roll to resist passing out and going into shock. If you fail, you succumb for a spell and are helpless. -3 Coordination and Skills, reduced Prowess, Coordination can't go lower than 1. If your leg is hurt, you collapse. If your arm/hand is hurt, you drop anything you're holding. You also end up with a Complication (to be explained) either when someone inspects your wounds or when combat is over.
FATAL WOUNDS: Thou art dead.
COMPLICATIONS : Hoo doggy. So Incapacitating Wounds are a pain in the ass because they leave behind long-term effects that kick in when the wound is treated. You roll on a chart depending on where you've been wounded. Sometimes they happen automatically depending on what happens, like a man with a bat breaking your knees. Basically the best way to handle a Complication is to see a doctor immediately and do your best to get what you need fixed. And even then actual medicine is gonna disable your character for a spell depending on the damage done. I'm gonna share these because they can range from minor issues to "whoops your arm is gone".
Severed Artery: massive blood loss, bed rest for three months max, requires a doctor's care.
Amputated Hand: massive blood loss, your
hand is off
. A doctor can put it back on or if you can't get your hand back then they can clean the wound before it gets infected. A stump takes six weeks to heal, a reattached hand takes two months and the hand can't be used until the end of that wait.
Severed/Destroyed Fingers: Can be fixed or reattached, depending. Six weeks for not fixed, two months for fixed. Either way the hand can't be used for that span of time, if not fixed you get a permanent -2 to rolls involving the bad hand.
Broken Fingers: -2 to damage and skill rolls, a month to heal if set or six if left unchecked. If not reset, permanent -2 to using that hand.
Torn Muscle: -3 to Skill rolls and ow that hurts. Heals naturally over two weeks if you take it easy, a month if you don't.
Broken Arm: Ouch. Can't be used until it's healed fully, takes two months to heal regardless of whether or not you have a doctor set it. If you don't set it, you have -2 Vitality to all Vitality rolls regarding that arm because it's now permanently weaker.
to be tended to by a doctor within a day or you
get an infection from having a big ol' hunk of bone jutting out. Takes two months to heal, leaves no lasting issues.
Amputated Arm: Well shit. You now have to contend with massive blood loss and having a missing limb. If you don't reattach it, you permanently lose it and the stump heals in two months. If you do, it takes three months to heal.
So with that, here's what happens if you get hit in the head too hard.
Severed Artery: Three months in bed.
Destroyed Jaw: It ends up severed or completely shattered and gone. A doctor needs to see you so you don't get an infection from it. -2 charm, can't talk, you're gonna have trouble eating anything that's not a thin liquid (like scop or gruel). A doctor can reattach or reconstruct your jaw and it takes two months to fully heal, during which it's kinda hard to talk.
Dislocated Jaw: No speaking or biting until it's reset somehow. Pop it back in place and it's fully fixed in two weeks.
Concussed: Concussions are actually a status effect that will be covered later.
Disfiguring Scar: -2 to all Charm rolls except Intimidation but you get +1 to Intimidation due to having a massive scar on your face. You can have a doctor treat you before it starts to heal for -1 to all Charm but no Intimidation bonus. If we were playing Prussians, you probably could lie about it being a cool dueling scar, but we don't get to play sky pirates right now.
. One of your eyes is out of its socket. If you don't have a doctor put it back in within two days, you lose the eye. If not treated in a day, it gets infected. If you lose the eye or it hasn't been put back in/replaced yet, you take -2 to all Perception rolls and Skill rolls involving vision. If you do get it treated, -1 until it heals. Losing the eye or keeping the eye takes three weeks to heal.
Lost Eye: Bam, gone this time. Needs to be tended to in a day or it gets infected. You can get your eye replaced or keep the empty socket, but so long as it's empty you get the same -2 hindrance as Disoculated. Takes three weeks to heal.
Shattered Skull: The big whammy of this chart, it'll knock you out immediately and must be treated. If the doctor fucks up their medicine roll treating you, every failure costs the injured 1 Attribute point
due to brain damage. After a successful treatment, the patient wakes up two hours later and needs to spend three months in bed with a taped-up dome.
Severed Artery: Three months in bed and no points to Gryffindor.
Amputated Foot: Crap. Massive blood lost and amputation ensues, until it's back on you have -2 Coordination (down to 1 Coordination) and you can no longer run, kick or dodge. If left a stump it heals in six weeks, if reattached it heals in two months. Either way you can't be on that leg.
Broken Foot: -2 coordination, can't run, kick or dodge, your foot needs to be set. A set foot heals in a month, during which you should be careful on your feet. If not treated, it heals in six weeks and permanently costs you -1 Prowess.
Torn Muscle: -1 Coordination, take it easy for two weeks to heal or if you still have to do things it'll take a month.
Broken Leg: -2 Coordination, no running, dodging or kicking, no jumping off the high dive into the pool. If tended to it'll heal in two months, if not it takes three and you permanently lose -1 Coordination.
Compound Fracture: Your leg goes one way, the bone goes the other. It has to be healed or you risk infection. You end up with -3 Coordination (down to 1), you really can't do anything but hobble and cry, and it has to be reset by a doctor. When treated it heals in two months.
Amputated Leg: Blood everywhere! It leaves you unable to do anything other than hop weakly, reduces Coordination by 2, heals in two months if left a stump or three if sewn back on.
Damaged Heart: Like a severed artery but with a cut on your heart. If a doctor doesn't tend to your massive internal bleeding fast, you're probably going to die. Recovery consists of resting in a bed for three months.
Spinal Damage: This is the kind of thing that immediately puts your character in time out for a spell. You can't do anything until you go to a doctor and frankly this is not the kind of thing you would just "sleep off". If a doctor messes up poking around in your spine to heal you, your Vitality or Coordination permanently drops by 1. If either hits 0, you don't die but you are permanently a paraplegic. Recovery requires two months of bed rest with a doctor keeping an eye on you.
Fractured Hip: You can't stand without help and lose 3 Coordination temporarily (down to 1). Getting treatment results in two months of healing and rest and not going to a doctor takes three months and permanently reduces Coordination by 1.
Broken Ribs: Temporary -1 to Vitality until healed. Seeing a doctor gets you healed in six weeks, sucking it up heals in eight. Don't be such a baby, ribs grow back.
Major Organ Damage: Well you're pretty much left screaming in pain as something gets ruptured. If in combat, you have to make a Will roll to resist collapsing in pain, unable to do anything. You
to go to a doctor due to internal bleeding and potential organ failure. So long as it's untreated, the character has -1 Vitality inflicted per hour until death. A medicine roll will stabilize the patient and getting medical treatment will stop all future damage. Healing this requires six weeks of bed rest and every week after treatment your Vitality recovers by 1 point until it's back to normal.
Collapsed Lung: Major Organ Damage's ugly meth-smoking sister, a collapsed lung results in massive bleeding and the patient needing to be stabilized. Medical attention results in a month of bed rest, it's not something you can just deal with because you will die otherwise.
Disemboweled: MOD and CL's inbred mutant brother, Disemboweling means that the character can do nothing but scream and try to put their guts back in as they bleed everywhere. Medical treatment can result in surviving with a permanent -1 Vitality (to a minimum of 1 Vitality) and four weeks of bed rest recovering from
being disemboweled and surviving
Getting treated in a shithole by anyone who doesn't have Field Medic training results in them having -3 to treatment rolls.
So that's what it's like to get your ass kicked in London. My apologies for the general lack of actual art and if I was too long-winded or blathering. That's the majority of the chapter done with a bit more to come and then that's all the mechanics done. And then we can move onto the real fun, like monster rules and big ol' tables of equipment! Oh I can hardly contain my excitement.
NEXT TIME: LIMB TRANSPLANTS, CONCUSSIONS, GETTING SET ON FIRE, DROWNING, BREATHING PURE SMOG AND MORE FUN THINGS TO DO IN LONDON
Chapter Three, Part TwoOriginal SA post
That is a lot of dumb colors.
CHAPTER THREE PART TWO
So we're gonna finish this chapter with some more RULES RULES RULES and then I've got a little example of character creation courtesy of a gracious friend. So let's get traumatic.
All of those issues with the Complications (massive blood loss, concussions, etc) are real conditions your character can deal with. Concussions lead to temporary status effects where you're basically rendered flatfooted and you have to make a Will roll at the start of your turn to see if you recover. You keep rolling until you succeed and basically being concussed is a Very Bad Thing in the wrong situation. Infections lead to making daily Vitality checks and failing leads to -1 Vitality. When you get treated, succeeding in a check restores 1 Vitality or lowers it by 1 if you fail. The checks end when you get back to base Vitality and seeing a doctor daily helps lower the DR. Getting knocked down forces you to spend an action getting back up. Getting hit hard enough on the head requires a Vitality roll to not pass out. A success resists the trauma, a failure knocks you out and then you keep rolling to get your shit together and wake up from the blow. Massive blood loss requires repeated Vitality rolls until someone stabilizes you, and then you should be bandaged and treated. From there you require 1 Vitality a week.
A neat little thing they included is rolling 1d10 whenever a character is shot. On a 1 or 10, the bullet goes through cleanly and on any other roll it's lodged in the wound. What's not so neat is it has to be removed or you risk infection and you can't regain Vitality from the infection until the object is gone. If you want to be all realistic and technical, you don't have to have a bullet removed because the when a bullet goes in it's hot so it cauterizes the wound behind it but I really think they just want an excuse to make your character suffer. I'd definitely alter this rule for my own uses.
SEVERED LIMBS: So it turns out that if you lose your arm or leg you're not doomed to deal with having a stump for the rest of your life. If you can't recover your original limb, or if it's been madly mangled and mauled and reconstruction is gonna be hard, a doctor can sedate you and sew a new limb on from a donor (or a corpse). This can also be done if the wound has already healed and the character has had a stump for a while. The book claims that medical technology has come a long way for them and it doesn't mention needing to take anti-rejection drugs so y'know your body isn't going to try to rot off your new leg due to Handwavium. No information on whether or not you can pop new eyes in like it's American Horror Story but personally I'd allow that shit.
DESTROYING THE UNDEAD: Yeah yeah aim for the head and brain. But it's kinda cool how it goes out of the way to explain the rules for undead. Animates and vampires can take a beating and suffer no issues from Flesh and Serious Wounds and there's no limit for how many Incapacitating Wounds it can sustain. Incapacitating Wounds to the arms make them drop things and be unable to use their arms and hands, Wounds to the legs cause them not run or dodge or jump and reduce Coordination by 2 (down to 1). You can destroy the arms and legs of a Vampire or Animate and they'll still have Coordination 1. Somehow. Fatal Wounds to limbs destroy them, Fatal Wounds to the torso reduce Vitality by 1 (at 0 they die for good), shots to the heart kill Vampires and anything dies if a Fatal Wound is inflicted to the head.
OTHER FORMS OF DAMAGE
ELECTROCUTION hurts the undead and regular people, avoiding armor. Flesh Wounds cause minor internal muscular damage at the point of contact and muscles spasm, forcing you to drop what you're holding. Serious Wounds make you drop things, fall to the ground and you end up concussed by the shock. Incapacitation ups the pain by making you lose control of all bodily function BUT you don't get dealt a Complication for it. Fatal Wounds cook you alive. There's no info for recovering from this damage, so I'd say...assume based on previous injuries.
EXPLOSIVES hurt anyone six feet within the blast and damage drops by 1 per three feet. You get a Flesh Wound minimum and shrapnel becomes a problem, Serious Wounds knock you down. You need Demolition to level a building without just putting bombs willy-nilly and enclosed spaces are a death sentence. Hand grenades and molotovs require two actions: pulling the pin or lighting the fuse and firing. Critical failures mean they go off in your hands or fall at your feet and anyone can run the hell away in response. Jumping to the floor and covering your head removes 3 damage from the blast's attack and jumping on the grenade doubles the damage. You can cook a grenade with a successful Will roll so when it's thrown anyone in the blast can't try to defend themselves. A failure means you hold onto the grenade and still have to throw it. A critical failure means goodbye working arm.
BEING SET ON FIRE requires a Will roll to not panic and run around screaming. You keep making Will rolls until you succeed or burn to death. Being on fire adds 3 damage to damage rolls and Flesh Wounds mean the fire goes out. You can stop, drop and roll or shed armor or jump in water (the Thames is not recommended) to put yourself out which turns the +3 into a -2. The rules for being on fire are rather...broken and they don't make a hell of a lot of sense. You take initial damage from the attack, the extra burning deals extra damage and it's not clear if anything higher than a Flesh Wound means that the fire stops. Maybe it means that it keeps doing Serious/Incapacitating damage until it dies down to Flesh.
SMOG requires an actual gas mask or breathing mask for you to go outside with 100% safety. On a normal day you end up filthy quickly and it gives you -1 to Prowess and Skill rolls. If you're unprotected, you can handle the smog with no ill consequences for hours equal to your Vitality and at that final hour it'll be reduced by 1. Every hour after that, Vitality is reduced by 1 down to 0 where the victim passes out. If kept in the smog for another half hour, you die and reanimate. If you're at 0 and taken to a safe place you wake up in 20 minutes. After that you regain Vitality at the rate of 1 per day as long as you keep yourself protected from the smog. Real masks provide 100% protection for a set period of time, wrapping your head in rags and cloth doubles your safe hours dictated by Vitality. There are rules for Lost Days too: even protected exposure reduces Prowess by 2 and Skill rolls by 2. Unprotected exposure results in Vitality loss every five minutes until death or you're brought to safety. With these rules in place, you really would assume that a lot more people would choke to death.
SAMPLE CHARACTER CREATION
So James is running a game of Unhallowed Metropolis and Caleb is one of his players. Caleb asks to play a Criminal named Keith Reeves, a crook who dabbles in terrorism and anarchism from time to time. Warning that the other characters will probably want to kill him if they know their teammate is a terrorist, James accepts the character and sets about making the character with his player.
STEP ONE: Pick a Calling. Caleb has already done this and provided a backstory for his character. Keith Reeves was born to middle class parents and was given a touch of education, but their untimely deaths and the machinations of his family resulted in him ending up poor and forced to toil in a factory to survive. The owner of the factory, Wolfgang Benedict Gibson, decided that it would be cheaper to have his workers killed rather than pay them. So a few days before payday, Gibson phoned in a false Animate outbreak in the worker's rookery where they stayed and Deathwatch shut down the district and firebombed the rookery. Barely able to survive, Reeves escaped the burning wreckage and took refuge in Gibson's empty house, truly realizing the disparity between the working man and their industrialist master. Years of planning later, Reeves burned Gibson alive in his sleep and put his anger and education to work as a one-man terrorist cell.
STEP TWO: Caleb takes the 25 points and divides them up into Vitality 3, Coordination 2, Wits 3, Intellect 3, Will 3, Charm 2, Prowess 5. Reeves is a reasonably fit, strong-willed, smart and canny man, making him a big threat to his targets. He saves the spare point for later.
STEP THREE: Caleb picks Reeves' skills from the list and adds others in he thinks are appropriate for a terrorist criminal who had a moderate education. Reeves has Streetwise 2, Acting 2, Melee Weapon 2, Thieves Cant 2, Alchemy 3, Demolitions 3, Thrown Weapon 2, Lock Picking 2, Shadowing 2, Forensic Science 1, Law 1, History 1. For Melee Weapons he selects Riposte and Snap Reaction, for Thrown Weapon he picks Improvisation and Trick Shot. Reeves can attack after being attacked or hold an attack to later inflict on someone who is about to attack and suffers no penalties for improvising and can hit people behind cover. He's also very good at what he does with explosives. For his Flash Thief bonuses he selects Alibi and Ghost to help cover his ass.
STEP FOUR: Caleb picks ANHEDONIA for Reeves. His treatment at the hand of Gibson still haunts him and he is basically kept ambulatory by his desire to seek revenge and inflict punishment on the corrupt and industrialists. Somewhere a part of Reeves is dead and rotting already and he knows what awaits him if he gets caught, so let death come when it comes.
STEP FIVE/SIX: Caleb has seven points to spend on Reeves and picks Private Lab so Reeves can make his own bombs and Nondescript so Reeves can blend in and get around easier. He also buys Business to have his own shop for some extra money coming in and to be a Legitimate Business as a cover, staying above the shop and using his safe house from Ghost as his lab. For Impediments he takes Superstitious and Secret: Is a terrorist so he can pocket the extra points to use for later.
STEP SEVEN: I'll go more in depth with equipment next time but Caleb spends his money on a respirator, some filters, a combat knife with attached brass knuckles in the hilt, some throwing knives, sinks some money into making his own flasks of alchemical fire and a few half-gallon containers of lab-grade ethanol as propellant, buys some clothes and saves the rest.
And that should do it for Keith Reeves. Let's take a look at his sheet.
Attributes: Vitality 3, Coordination 2, Wits 3, Intellect 3, Will 3, Charm 2, Prowess 5.
Skills: Streetwise 2 (Alibi, Ghost), Acting 2, Melee Weapon 2 (Riposte, Snap Reaction), Thieves Cant 2, Alchemy 3, Demolitions 3, Thrown Weapon 2 (Improvisation, Trick Shot), Lock Picking 2, Shadowing 2, Forensic Science 1, Law 1, History 1.
Qualities: Business (The Lost Mate Pub), Criminal Associations, Reputation: Street, Nondescript, Private Laboratory, Safehouse.
Impediments: Secret: Is A Terrorist, Superstitious.
Money: 1 pound
Corruption: Physical-None, Desire-Anhedonia 1, Drive-None.
Equipment: Combat knife w/brass knuckles, throwing knife x4, respirator, filter x4, Alchemical Fire x3, 3 gallons of ethanol, assorted clothes.
And that's all she wrote for mechanics and character creation. Next time we'll briefly discuss some of the weapons and armor available and then we'll get on to the bestiary of the dead, the half-dead and the artificially-alive.
NEXT TIME: EVERYONE'S FAVORITE, THE CHAPTER ABOUT SHOPPING AND 85% MINOR THINGS YOU WILL NEVER NEED
Chapter Four, Part OneOriginal SA post
99.995% of the game is saying that it has to be in London and honestly if it was outside of London it would require another book or at the very least a lot of GM planning. But there actually is that 0.005% in the game which I'll get to when I reach the GM chapter. That being said, the nature of the core rulebook basically provides no real info for doing that and doing so would require a lot of work on the part of the GM. For example: aetheric generators only exist in America and Britain so a lot of the galvanic weapons that don't have internal batteries wouldn't be able to function as well in Prussia, and because France is eschewing most technology for
they would probably not be available to a French character.
Supply and demand, baby.
CHAPTER FOUR: PART ONE
So just a preface before we begin: UM uses British currency. Specifically, it uses pence, shilling and pounds. 1 pound equals 240 pence or 20 shillings, 1 shilling equals 12 pence. It's a little bit of a pain in the ass because I'm so used to copper/silver/gold or cents/dollars or just straight-up credits but this is UM.
If you can't find what you're looking for through regular stores and means, there's always the Black Market. It takes a Streetwise roll and a few ingame days of searching to find things depending on how illegal they are, or you can have a Criminal ally who can shake the tree of the criminal underground for some leads. The game says that supply and demand are important and depending on rarity and availability you should price stuff but blah blah blah I knew that already. And frankly unless you're discouraging your characters from flooding the market with their own products, that's rarely an issue.
So, without further ado, the ingame market. Throughout this update I'm just gonna scatter some extra charts and segments that don't really need to be elaborated on, stuff that's your standard D&D style stuff-to-buy.
Black clothing is in because of course it is. First-hand clothing is generally fitted and expensive, it's not hard to pick up second-hand clothes that doesn't have too much blood on it. Rubber clothing or cloaks are also relatively in and common as are hats and things what cover heads. Gas masks never go out of style and come in eye-covering or mouth-covering style with filters that can be plain or perfumed or with a bit of ether inside because fuck being sober. Depending on how much you spend on a respirator, they protect more and more and look fancier and fancier from rubber and glass to gold. Tattoos are also relatively popular and fashion for ladies involves looking doll-like or pale and delicate like a warm-blooded vampire waifu.
So let's talk about underpants.
Specifically, corsets. Apparently for years doctors have been telling people "you're mutilating yourself wearing those damn things!" but everyone ignores them because thin waists and big bosoms are worth the pain. A lot of women have been using them for years, becoming literally reliant to not bend over without them, and some have actually had ribs removed by surgeons. And some guys wear them too.
But then there's the combat corset, which is actually a somewhat effective form of armor. Sorta. See, the combat corset either has leather or rubber on top of spiraled steel and shifting plates that let the wearer be able to move and be flexible on top of having some chest protection. Mourner corsets are a guild secret and their design is kept a trade secret. The majority of combat corsets go from under the breasts to the top of the hips and provide a relatively solid form of protection for the torso. They're also not really nearly as tight as the fashion corsets; they're tied to fit and squeeze a little so you can have the look and flexibility. They're not perfect, of course, but they exist to help protect from disembowelment or lower attacks from Animates, Vampires and Thropes. See, Thropes tend to attack with punches and swings of their hands and Vampires might claw at a stomach or an Animate might grab someone's torso and if those fingers break the skin well you might get infected. Or maybe a thug is going to punch you in the kidneys or shiv you in the guts and you don't want them to know you've got armor. Or maybe someone is going to shoot you in the stomach to disable you for a spell. The point is that yeah combat corsets are actually kind of handy. If you want full-body protection, you want to invest in Deathwatch armor or getting a good set of gear an Undertaker would appreciate. Combat corsets are for people who want to conceal their armor and get a little protection for a really reasonable price compared to armor. Because armor is kinda damn expensive.
The average Undertaker will wear reinforced leather armor which has some metal plates beneath it for protection. The leather protects against the bites of animates, the rubber helps keep it clean and adds some protection, the plates protect against the piercing teeth of the undead and some munitions. The problem? That shit is expensive . An Undertaker gets 5 shillings for an Animate's head, 10 pounds for a Vampire's ashes (and that can take weeks to properly determine if it's proof of a dead bloodsucker) and 12 for a bunch of Thrope bits. Most of the time you're going to be collecting heads or living zombies and a full set of reinforced leather armor costs 25 pounds. That's a down payment of 50 Animates, not counting operating expenses, and even from starting a new Undertaker that's half your money gone right there.
So yeah, armor is expensive and also not entirely handy, sorta. You can only have 4 armor on one part of your body, armor encumbers you and can reduce Coordination and full sets of armor are pretty expensive. If you ever suffer an Incapacitating or Fatal wound to a certain area, the armor there is reduced by 1 until repaired.
Armor comes in chain mail, Deathwatch, lacquered, leather, reinforced leather, plate, rubber and rubber reinforced. Chain mail and plate can be specially insulated to protect against galvanic weapons and leather or rubber can be worn under other armor as a thin supplemental armor if you buy it for that. Deathwatch armor is excellent, providing 3 armor to the whole body and you can put some plate on top of certain places. If you're a Deathwatch soldier with the right perks, you can just dick around with 4 armor all over your body and have no Coordination downsides. Rubber armor squeaks and provides -1 to stealth rolls and also you're wearing a full body suit so you tend to get...squeaky and wet and gross.
You can stack armor and that's generally a good idea. Specifically, you can wear some kinds of armor under pieces of armor that cover specific parts. You can wear leather and rubber under anything, reinforced leather and rubber, plate and chain can only be worn on top of something. This armor comes in helms, gauntlets, bracers, leggings and boots. You can also buy armored coats and of course corsets. A poorer citizen would buy a set of leather armor and corset and then wear reinforced leather on top of that in places, an Undertaker would wear reinforced leather with an armored coat, helmet and gauntlets, a Deathwatch soldier would get some plate installed on top of their gear. This can range from expensive to cheap, from plate to rubber, but underlying layers cost less to get.
So how does armor actually look in play?
Example: Jon is a Deathwatch soldier with plate-enhanced armor. He has 4 armor all over his body and he gets stabbed in the chest with a bayonet when another soldier fucks up in the heat of the moment. Bayonets have +2 damage and his buddy has 3 Vitality so that's 5 damage off the bat, and the GM rolls a 7 and a 3. That's 15 damage reduced by 4 to 11 so now Jon has a Flesh Wound from an accidental stabbing. Now, yes, you automatically suffer at least a Flesh Wound, but all armor really does is help reduce the likelihood of a Serious or Incapacitating Wound considering how Flesh Wounds are 11 and down, 12 to 16 are Serious, 17-20 is Incapacitating and 21+ is Fatal.
In summation: armor is handy but don't go nuts and think it's absolutely mandatory, it really just helps tilt the scales a little between each possible wound you can get. 4 armor downgrades possible damage by one category automatically but it's really expensive to get that much protection all over.
Weapons, though, are mandatory. I'll explain what some of these are and go into background fluff as necessary; I'm pretty sure you know what half of these are at the very least.
Combat knife w/skull crusher: Like a WWI trench knife, a knife with brass knucks in the handle. Good for brawling and stabbing.
Combat Syringe: Used to put drugs in people in a melee fight. The effects depend on what you put in the syringe, they suck against armor.
Exculpus: a damn kukri with a fancy new name.
Headsman's Axe: a six-pound head-chopper with a foot-wide head, favored against Reanimates by Undertakers.
Holy Water Sprinkler: fancy talk for "bit of wood with sharp things in it".
Polearm: five feet long, voulge/bardiche style.
Bows: with high Vitality, on a roll of 7 or more when using a bow you might accidentally snap the damn thing in half. WHOOPS.
Derringer/Semiautomatic: Derringers come in two one-shot 22 cal. pocket guns and are pretty useless. Semiauto Derringers hold four shots and are still pretty useless.
Elephant Guns: come in different bores and you need a brace or you might tear a muscle/hurt yourself shooting it for a -1 to using that hand.
Flamethrowers: really heavy, really illegal.
Grenades: also really illegal. They use white phosphorus or fragmentation.
Kramer 2013: discontinued five-shot rifle model, can use a sight. Still a favorite and pretty cheap.
Kramer 2086: ten-shot .303 rifle, pretty accurate, a Deathwatch soldier's best friend. Can take a scope.
Magwitch 10 Bore: An Undertaker's buddy, the Magwitch is a pump-action five-shot gun that uses slug or shot. You can also put a bayonet on and it's overall good for fucking up the shit of the living and dead.
Magwitch Reaper: A bunch of people decided to sell the same gun to Undertakers BUT WITH A REAPER BLADE ON IT THAT POPS OUT WHEN YOU HIT A BUTTON. It's...hard to use and a lot of Undertakers don't like it but some do because it looks cool. You have to empty the gun before you swing it because the way it's designed to be held lends to a lot of accidental misfires.
Magwitch Terminus: The mutual friend of Undertakers and Deathwatch, the Terminus holds 9 12mm bullets and has a big trick up its sleeve: a secondary trigger that trips a compressed-gas cylinder that propels a metal-tipped stake from a secondary barrel at the target. It's good for using against Vampires or Animates but the gun is really heavy and needs two hands to wield and fire.
Custom Revolvers: expensive and take a while to make but they're for you to use like it's a natural extension. As a result, you get +1 to attacks.
Balefire: a flamethrower easily available if you're licensed, but the cops hate giving out licenses because it's really easy to burn down a building with this. It doesn't need a back-mounted tank; the fuel comes from tanks on the gun. It's hindered by low ammo capacity and the fact that a flaming Animate still needs some time to die.
Requieter: a pneumo-powered stake gun that holds ten stakes and can fire semi-auto. Handy for fighting vampires but the pneumo tank is only good for 20 shots.
Syringe Gun: developed as an anti-Thrope weapon, it fires needles loaded with alchemical solutions pretty rapidly. Sounds like a shit weapon for anything else, yeah? Well the needles are made of steel, it holds ten and fires them semi-auto so it can tear up organs and break bones if you need to.
Vickers Machine Gun: needs a bunch of people to operate, highly illegal, highly expensive, only for military use. It's the everyone's favorite trench-mower, alive and well.
Executioner: Deathwatch's best friend, a 12mm pistol that's nice and accurate and clip-fed.
Firebrand: single-shot 40mm grenade launcher, can shoot flares, grenades and nets. Ridiculously illegal because it's favored by Anarchists seeing as how even the flares can be used to burn down buildings.
So there's actually more to come in the field of Galvanic equipment and Alchemy tools and I intentionally skipped all of the general Fashion and Tools and Equipment sections because well they're pretty much your standard pants and ten-foot-long pole segments. Galvanics and Alchemy is weird it gets kinda cool (and really expensive) so hopefully that'll be easier to swallow than the standard fare.
NEXT TIME: GALVANICS AND ALCHEMY
e: wow Aletheia got nuts in a fun, awesome, abuse-your-powers for greater enlightenment way.
Chapter Four, Part TwoOriginal SA post
Gimp: You're welcome dude. Now let's get galvanic.
CHAPTER FOUR: PART TWO
So Galvanic Weapons are A: pretty expensive and B: varying in legality. A lot of them don't have internal batteries and just use the ambient aetheric energy provided by the coal-powered Tesla Towers, so as long as you're anywhere within London's walls you can just use galvanic tech. It's actually pretty neat, you can just whip a desk lamp out of its box and turn it on and boom, light. The weapons also deal extra damage against people clad in metal armor, like chain mail and plate. Galvanic technology and weaponry has some big limitations, though. First of all, they carry charges that need time to replenish. Second of all, they're sorta fragile, and a hard drop or impact can give them hindrances to hit without being fixed. Third, you generally need to wear aetherically-grounded gloves when operating these things or else you run the risk of electrocuting yourself when firing the weapon. Those extra galvanic capacitors are basically like batteries for if you ever take them out of the city or if you want to use them without waiting for a recharge.
Dr. Merrifield's Pandemonius Timidifier : Dr. Merrifield was an English scientist who was kinda bummed out by the fact that the army and Deathwatch were perfectly happy to kill rioters despite the whole decline of population issue . So Dr. Merrifield worked on inventing a gun that incapacitates its targets without hurting them or killing them. And it worked! Kinda. It was mass-produced after the first round of tests and then they started the second round...and it turns out some of the first test subjects were either catatonic, brain-dead or insane. See, it works by firing an invisible alchemical jolt of energy to the brain. Anyone shot with the beam has to make a will roll to simply pass the fuck out. If you succeed, you go to sleep for a while. If not, you have painful seizures for a few minutes. On a critical failure, it results in instant catatonia or brain death. Any victims who don't die from getting shot have to make another will roll, and failure results in gaining a new or amplifying an existing mental disorder. And a critical failure results in permanent brain damage.
So yeah, Dr. Merrifield was horrified and begged them to pull the weapon so he could make it safer. And the industrialists said "meh, no, too much work".
And so Dr. Merrifield killed himself.
The Timidifier doesn't work on the dead and it uses an alchemical solution as ammo. Every bottle of solution is good for five shots.
So yeah, I think this weapon really sums up NeoVictorian England and their smug attitudes as a whole.
Electro-Pulse grenade : a taser grenade that has a six-foot electrocution radius that shocks targets into submission. It recharges in a hour to be thrown again. It was made more for fighting people than robots so I don't know how well it works on Galvanics.
Stun Cane/Prod/Gloves : A taser-cane, a stun baton and a pair of heavy gloves that have a battery pack on the user. Stun canes or prods can be used at light or full strength; light uses one charge, strong uses three, and the batteries of a cane and prod hold six charges and nine respectively.
Van Haller Death Ray : Remember the gun Simon Phoenix uses in the second half of Demolition Man, the blaster rifle or whatever? It's a little bit like that. The Van Haller Death Ray is a ridiculously illegal two-handed shitkicker that fires a large ball of energy at targets. It holds four shots and can be recharged at a shot per half hour, or you can use a built-in crank to recharge a shot in thirty seconds. The energy ball leaves a thirty-foot diameter crater when it collides with something and anything within fifteen feet of the blast is knocked prone and set on fire on top of feeling the blast. Anything hit by the energy ball tends to be vaporized. The main reason why it's illegal is because you can easy bring down a building without wasting all of the shots, and if they were to get into the hands of anarchists London would be screwed. I don't even know how in the hell a PC would end up with one of these things besides making their own, and without a government license your character would be sent to prison for life.
Van Haller Lightning Gun : The Lightning Gun is Deathwatch's favorite mad science buddy. As accurate a rifle, pulling the trigger forces an ionic corridor to open up between you and the target. In the time of a blink, the target is hit with a bolt of hand-made lightning. It tends to explode targets, cook them instantly, set them on fire or knock them on their now-flaming ass. Like the Death Ray, it has a minor area of effect that Deathwatch gleefully uses to take out crowds of animates. Holds six shots, a shot recharges in ten minutes or can be cranked in thirty seconds.
SCIENCE AND ALCHEMY
Alright so look at those friggin' prices. A Doctor starts with 40 pounds with which to spend. 40 . And being a Doctor is a lot like being a Mad Scientist in Deadlands so making trippy shit is gonna be as important as performing back-alley surgery on your teammates. Unless your GM is gonna set some game time aside to run a few sessions where everyone takes missions for the explicit intention of getting money, you want to do two things. First, take the Qualities that let you have access to a private lab and private anatomy theater and the Doctor bonus that gives you government approval to experiment. Two, put some of your money aside for the ingame cost of upkeep of those facilities and stocking of reagents and supplies. Yeah, you actually have to spend ingame money to get the supplies you need and pay rent/upkeep of facilities and machines. If you have a reasonable GM (and I would do this), he would probably count some of the equipment necessary to artificially make life (like artificial wombs) as being included in the package and just make you eat the operating costs. For example: you're using a provided government facility with other doctors. If you don't, I would start stockpiling as much cash as you can. We'll look more in depth in the Alchemy chapter, but here's some of the stuff you might get to play with as a doctor.
Alchemical Lab: Everything you need to make potions, drugs and more. Has to be restocked from time to time. The travel version is, well, a travel version but also pretty delicate.
Anatomical Preservation System: Jars and containers and tanks to keep limbs and organs and other important squishy bits viable for experimentation and transplant up to six months. Necessary for keeping the parts you're gonna use for galvanic reanimation or if you have amputation-prone buddies.
Artificial Womb : These tanks let you grow artificial or living fetuses to term at whatever speed you want, letting you monitor and control gestation along the way using an artificial umbilical cord with an input on the outside. Anathema-grade tanks can be used to birth anathemas or normal human children as a surrogate, homunculus-grades are used to make homunculi.
Biogalvanic Reanimation Lab : This sucker helps you create biomechanical stuff, like prosthetic limbs, Galvanic automata and this and that. It comes with an anatomical preservation system installed, but having your own is good for storing spare parts. It can hold up to the contents of one whole person at a time, depending on what you're working on.
Interface Jar : Sweet fungi of Yuggoth, it's a Mi-Go jar! The Interface Jar lets you plop a human brain in that sucker and keep it on life support for transplant. The more complex the jar, the more it keeps the brain active and the more active the brain, the longer it takes to decay, deteriorate or go insane. The best jars can simulate all five senses and let the brain talk in a synthesized voice.
Oraculum : Oraculums are prosthetic eyes. Ideally, they would just be eyes but that would be make sense. Oraculums let the user gaze into the spirit world and sense the presence of the dead. They can also be used to see auras and when first installed they have a tendency to cause sleeplessness and mild terror. There are detriments to living with the eye at first but after a while the wielder will get used to it, though they tend to wear their prosthetics behind eye-patches unless they need to see the spirit world. They're kind of distracting and creepy otherwise and most wielders don't like them unless they're into seeing ghosts.
Rattler : Rattlers are like talk-boxes for people with esophageal cancer. They're small metal boxes that are slapped onto the throat of people who have black lung, throat cancer or a variety of smog-related diseases. They also sound really creepy with a dull, shaky mechanical monotone and most people with Rattlers prefer to never use them because they scare people. Using a Rattler gives you a -1 to all talking things besides Intimidation.
Ticker : How much fun would a clockwork artificial heart be? Answer: not very. Tickers are very rare and weaker than real hearts and need to be wound every six hours through a dial on your chest. A lot of people with Tickers have watches they monitor their hearts with. Most people with Tickers tend to live for a year and half due to the fact that artificial hearts are not as strong as real ones, and they have to take anti-rejection drugs to keep going. Someone with a Ticker has to make a monthly Vitality check and failure means that eventually you'll die. The one upside? Not having a working heart messes with the prey sense of Animates so it's harder for Animates to find and eat you.
For kicks, here's some Undertaker gear to finish the chapter up.
Animate Restraints : Restraints for Animates come in a rig of leather and iron that cover the hands, bind the wrists and ankles, hood the head and put a bit in their mouth. Then you can lug that dead asshole to the local UOD bounty shop to get paid. The big problem with the restraints, though, is needing to grapple the Animate and wrestle it into submission before putting the bit in and going from there. A failure means it can bite you and that doesn't often end well. Side note: the game graciously informs me that aristocrats like buying the gear so they can play Sexy Zombie. I'll let you ruminate on that thought.
Dust Kit : Dust kits are small kits of brushes and little bins used to collect vampire ash. They're pretty much necessary if you're going to ever hunt vampires because the streets are filthy and windy.
Piercing Irons : Piercing irons are a pair of cast iron tongs that you can put on an Animate's (or person, or vampire) and squeeze together to destroy the brain with puncturing spikes. Handy for putting down immobilized zombies/anyone you want to kill gruesomely.
Vampire Hunter's Kit : A regular kit comes with stakes, a mallet, a mirror, a cross, garlic, a bag of salt, some wolfsbane, knives, needles, rope, a saw, a crowbar, an electric torch, vials and two doses of Stitch and Warlock (which are alchemical solutions). The deluxe kit comes with a heavy revolver, six silver bullets and a mold to make more. Both kits have lots of storage space too and some secret panels. Vampire hunting kits are handy assets for the PCs to carry around. While most of the time you need a sharp bit of wood and a loaded gun to kill a vampire, the kits are stocked with folkloric odds and ends to give you a helping hand if the vampire is not the common London type or prone to various manias and phobias. One of these kits would probably be a big boon in India.
And that's all of Chapter 4 done with. What have we learned? Apparently you do need anti-rejection drugs for certain things, Neo-Victorian doctors have managed to do limb transplants with no problems and can put a brain in a jar but they can't replace an eye with another eye, everything medical is really damn expensive and despite galvanic weaponry having tremendous potential it's pretty inefficient, fragile and expensive. Shit only comes in small explosion or big explosion varieties if it's ranged and the melee weapons don't really have much of a charge arsenal either. They are handy and they do pack a punch but a knife or swordcane doesn't need a charge and metal armor can be reinforced to resist an electrical charge.
There's still more fun to come, though. Next up is Chapter 5 which talks about the rules for Animates, Vampires, Ghouls and Dhampirs and then after that is the Mad Science chapter about Thropes, Galvanics, Anathemas, Homunculi, Mercurials and having your own magical Neo-Victorian science adventures. What are most of those things, you ask? Good question! I only really talked about them in brief because they're only mentioned in brief. Let's just say I hope you're looking forward to carnivorous second-class citizens that slightly smell of racism analogues and vampires being emotionally and physically abusive assholes.
NEXT TIME: CHAPTER FIVE with HALF LIFERS, UNDEAD AND LOTS OF ANATOMY PICTURES
Chapter FiveOriginal SA post
I like all that weird "spooky" art in The Everlasting. It looks like stuff I'd see in an early 2000s spooky flash game like ExMortis or whatever.
While I'm here, have another type of vampire.
The so-called "Anatomy of Horror" chapter has a LOOOOOOOT of fluff and in-character writings from the point of view of scientists doing presentation on half-lifers and the undead and for the sake of brevity I'm gonna just briefly address them. They're literally presentations or snippets from in-universe books and dissertations and as a result there's a lot of in-character stuff said that is immediately repeated. If you want to, I would try to share the actual write-ups with anyone, but I kinda doubt it. So let's get down to brass tacks.
The fluff is about a professor showing his anatomy class an Animate kept by the college that used to be another professor. He bequeathed his body to the university so they could study the gradual decay of the undead in a safe, controlled environment. But let's talk about the meat of the matter. Animates have stronger bone structure to a certain degree and their repeated biting turns their entire jaws into ragged, toothless maws of sharp jawbone. Animates swarm people and bite them and it's generally the blood loss or trauma that kills the victims. But there's also the chance a bite will kill your ass with an infection that's a combination of gangrene and influenza. There's no cure for a Plague bite; drugs, amputations and cauterizing does nothing. You can either try to ride it out and see if you live or die or just have someone shoot you in the brain. In play, a Serious Wound or higher inflicted by an Animate automatically passes on the Plague. You're good for a hour before your body starts panicking in response. But you can make a Vitality roll (at DR 20) at the initial bite) to just let the infection not take hold. If you fail well then buckle up buttercup. You're in for seven straight hours of fever, chills, vomiting, tenderness and pain radiating from the festering, infected bite. But during the seventh hour there's a sort of brief intermission from the pain and you can make another DR 20 Vitality roll. Failure means you will die and reanimate, success means the fever breaks for good and you just have an infection and wound to take care of before you can recover fully. And should you fail the second round, the Plague commands the future Animate to run for it to ensure that you can reanimate in peace. In a nutshell, you have two attempts to not die and if you fail the second it would be a mercy for the other PCs to kill you.
Also, Animates are fuckin' magical sons of bitches. See, Animates come in three forms: raveners, shamblers and husks. Raveners are recently turned Animates that run fast, grab everything in sight and do what they can to maul and eat. Animates actually have to eat too; though they can't digest it, they somehow are able to absorb the Vitality and meat of their victims to keep themselves going. So long as they're raveners they don't decay and they can keep running as fast as they want, putting no wear and tear on the body. Raveners that go a year without eating become shamblers and that's when things get gross. Shamblers putrify, shamblers rot, skin sloughs off in chunks and their intestines liquify and make gross messes everywhere. They swell up with corpse gas, hair and teeth fall out and the shambler is forced to shuffle instead of run. On top of that, their eyes rot out and their senses fail en masse, forcing them to rely on their inherent prey sense ability to hunt for food. From there, the husk stage takes years to achieve depending on the atmosphere. Insects avoid the hell out of Animates so it's really just the environment and bacteria going to town on the Animate until they become Husks. Husks are starving Animates who have lost a significant amount of their body weight through decay. Their bones are brittle and light, their tendons and skin become papery and thin, their senses will fail and they'll end up looking like dessicated mummies. They navigate very slowly using their prey sense and eventually they will be rendered immobile due to the structural collapse of their weakened limbs. A husk will finally sit there on the ground unmoving, occasionally using a burst of energy to try to bite any living beings that come close to them.
However, like I said they're magical. Kinda. The moment a shambler gets a mouthful of human flesh, their decay halts immediately and the Animate actually recovers damage sustained by decay, turning them right back into raveners. They cannot, however, recover any lost portions of their anatomy. Husks can eat their way back to shamblers but can never be raveners again.
From a mechanical sense, a lot of information is being repeated here. Animates can only be destroyed with sufficient cranial trauma or decapitation and depending on where you die you may or may not reanimate faster. Their presence also causes a Will roll against fear unless you're one of the classes that doesn't feel fear in the presence of Animates. On top of that, Zombie Lords are statted out. One in ten thousand animates are reborn as zombie lords and they have a 10% chance of their bite creating a new lord. On top of that, they're sapient and can control all Animates in a five mile radius with their mind. They tend to hide amongst their kin as they control them and need to keep feeding to resist decay like the rest and they focus on grappling and wrestling their prey into submission for feeding instead of mindless grabbing and biting.
Animates are, in short, plenty virulent, rather resistant to natural decay and most of the time they'll never have to worry about long-life rules because the game is set in London and Deathwatch is trigger happy.
Vampires are asshole sadists. I'm not being colorful, assholery and sadism run high in vampires. The fluff is really just everything I'm gonna go over, so let's get into it. Vampirism can be spread either through putting vampire blood in another person or through drinking vampire blood. On top of that, vamprisim can be contracted as a STD if you're penetrated by a vampire or put your dick in one. Luckily, a still-living person with latent vampirism can't pass it on to someone uninfected (otherwise London would have collapsed years ago) and it takes multiple sexual encounters with a vampire to get infected. Most people who are fed on a vampire against their will won't ever catch vampirism, because the vampires tend to strangle or stab them to death when they've had their fill to cover their tracks and not arouse worry.
Vampires look pretty much human except for the a tightening of the skin that causes their bone structure to become more pronounced, giving them a predatory, angular appearance. Their bones become stronger and tougher and the jaw muscles get buff fast, giving them a high tensile bite to let them break the skin of victims. The skin cools to room temperature and the larynx and lungs still work to let the vampire talk, albeit in much more reserved tones. Vampires only need to drink blood to survive and it's absorbed directly into their skin. If they try to drink animal blood, they slowly gain dementia and crippling insanity until they can get some human blood. They need to drink once every three days to maintain this mostly human appearance. With a willing partner it can be a gentle bite or it can be done forcefully on other victims. Doing it by force kinda involves a lot of heavy biting and flesh-rending. They don't decay like Animates; they just become more and more grotesque looking, their skin and organs drying and shriveling. Eventually the vampire will become borderline comatose, curling up in a hiding place and waiting for anything living to come by to grab and drain. Consuming blood rejuvenates the vampire, helping them regenerate some damage (but not lost limbs) and regain vitality lost to hunger. When sufficiently deprived, a vampire will curl up, go dormant indefinitely and can only be roused by having blood poured into their mouths.
Oh and also vampires can't get people pregnant or get pregnant. I know, I know, you were so concerned, the question was burning in the back of your mind.
Vampires come in two flavors: feral and...not feral. Feral vampires are the most common, animalistic throat-biters who squat in abandoned buildings or the Underground. Feral vampires have some big defining characteristics. They get long, thick claws, tend to become filthy and wild-eyed and they eat chunks of human flesh. Because they can't actually digest things, they tend to smell terrible due to rotting flesh sitting in their full stomachs. They tend to be more openly sadistic as well, killing and drinking its fill from two victims a night before taking a third home to torture and nibble on. If a feral vampire creates a dhampir, it's because it got bored torturing some prey and let the victim escape. Feral vampires don't really live particularly long; they're sloppy, careless animals who bite off more than they can chew and easily attract the attention of heavily armed Undertakers or vigilante justice mobs.
Smart vampires are a different breed. See, all vampires are heavily territorial and they will gladly fight each other over turf disputes or if one becomes too powerful. Smart vampires will let you know that you are in their territory and therefor their property. They fall in love and tend to kill their lovers after falling into fits of melancholic violence, convinced their lovers want to leave them and kill them. They hang out with the rich and powerful and mark aristocratic families as "theirs". They're as social as they are vicious and because aristocrats love them it's not hard for them to find a steady source of blood and money to live comfortably. And all the while they hurt and torture people. They nurse blood from hookers and cut them with their claws and knives, using them as sex objects to mark and disfigure as they see fit. They become the center of attention at "Cirques du Sang" parties where aristocrats fawn over them, experience a gentle feeding from their party guest and watch the vampire hypnotize a cleaned-up abducted youth from the slums and feed from them violently and fatally. They even tend to get their pain and pleasure centers mixed up and delight in being tortured and hurting people around them.
In short, they're sadistic, undead asshole rapists.
Mechanically, vampires get heightened senses and the ability to hypnotize victims, turning them into "brides" over time and psychic vassals that can be controlled by thought. Vampires are weak to sunlight but not killed by it. On rare days when the sun shines, vampires get a -5 to all rolls and act irrationally. A heavy caliber bullet to the head is enough to kill a vampire and it takes the destruction of the head or brain to kill them. Staking paralyzes them for as long as the stake is in the heart, cutting off all of their senses and making them immobile and easy to kill or take to the UOD for your bounty. And finally, there are rules for vampiric infection. If infected, a victim has a week to get a full transfusion of blood through their veins and they'll have no ill consequences. The GM isn't supposed to tell the victim this, though, and they have to figure it out for themselves. The first three days of infection are full of light aversion and interrupted sleeping patterns along with a reduction in Vitality and Coordination which is the sign you should have a doctor check you out. A successful check leads to treatment, a failure leads to continuing decline. After a week the victim loses weight and gains enhanced senses and it's too late to treat them. After two weeks the victim loses color in their skin, their eyes get shiny and bright, they lose more Vitality and Coordination and their surplus weight is gone. Every two days after the victim loses 1 point of Vitality and Coordination. When the victim reaches 1 Vitality they make a Vitality roll. Failure means the victim enters a coma and rises the next night as a vampire, success means the victim becomes a dhampir.
The most common way someone becomes a dhampir is through the last minute success in fighting off a vampiric infection. The second most common way is for a woman in a late-term pregnancy to be turned. Pregnant vampires will, uh, eject the baby from their bodies and if the baby is saved from their early birth there's a high chance it'll grow up to be a dhampir. Born dhampirs progress like normal kids, albeit taller and thinner, until they turn 16 and hit Vampire Puberty. They basically become tall, slender and sexy with features like their vampire daddy and long teeth to boot. The infected-from-a-bite kind just become thinner, fitter and sexier.
Dhampiri are half-lifers which means they're not entirely human. They drink, eat, breathe and sleep but they don't need as much of all four and they're a slight step away from humankind. They can exist without ever drinking blood , but a smidge of blood lets them heal fast and gives a mojo boost to their abilities (and can do it gently or violently and need a LOT less blood). On top of that they age a lot slower than humans do and some don't age at all. They also have some drawbacks: light sensitivity, sterility, being slaves to heavy emotion and the knowledge that when they DO die they'll rise as full-blooded vampires.
Their other bonuses/hindrances are:
Alien Grace: +1 Intimidation/Seduction
Blood Drinker: lower the severity of a wound by one step depending on how many points of Vitality you take from drinking someone's blood and gain +1 Vitality and Coordination for a hour after feeding.
Hatred of Vampires: Make will rolls to resist instantly charging into melee to kill a vampire when you see one. You get a berserker bonus but you also lose your damn sense for a second.
Immunity to Physical Corruption: If you had any, it disappears for good.
Immunity to Vampiric Mind Control
Unnatural Passions: make will rolls to not be such a damn drama queen when the going gets tough.
Ghouls are probably descended from people who lived in the Wastelands who were formed by a combination of the Blight, eating mutant food and inbreeding. They speak their own weird bastardized version of English that nobody can decipher but are actually still pretty smart (most are as smart as normal people) and able to speak the Queen's English if taught. They're half-lifers too and carnivorous in nature, able to eat damn near any meat and survive in the fog and Wastelands. They also walk like gorillas, about five-feet tall, and they're sorta buff like chimps. They can rip, they can tear, they can leap and they can climb with ease. They're like monkeys wearing Victorian clothes.
They're also second class citizens and technically classified as pests so they have no rights under English law and are kinda stand-ins for weird "inhuman" immigrants if you think about it.
Ghouls also have some pretty major biological differences. For starters, they breed like rabbits and have two heat periods a year. Female ghouls can birth from two to ten children per cycle, though they let three survive on average and eat the rest for varying reasons. A ghoul is weaned at four months, grow to adult size in five years and can reproduce for the first time at age twelve. They have weak eyes but strong senses of smell and hearing, their eyesight slowly diminishing as their ability to smell the dead and spirits get strong enough to compensate. Ghouls have expandable stomachs so they can stuff themselves silly and let it slowly digest and as I previously mentioned they can eat ANY meat. They do generally prefer ghoul or human meat though, as eating Animates tend to have issues and it's very hard for a ghoul to eat vampire or Thrope. Ghouls slowly become more and more sluggish as they get older and they also get fatter; by the time a ghoul loses its eyesight it's gone from a light-sleeping nimble acrobat to a heavy-set, slow-moving adult. The longer a ghoul lives, the fatter and slower it gets until the point where they're immobile and need to be rolled around by younger ghouls. On top of that, their mental facilities start to decline, going from quick-witted and canny to obsessed with food and sleeping constantly and wanting more food and when did you last get me food FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD.
Ghoul society is tribal/clan in nature and ghouls mate for broods of children. They're not particularly monogamous and it doesn't matter who you're fucking because inbreeding actually has no detriment at all for ghouls. Ghouls live with an eye-for-an-eye code, the matters judged and sentenced by the fat elders of a tribe who also pick out who carries out the sentencing. As a result, ghoul societies are very insular but they're also pretty stable. The elders who are too old to think straight or require too much food are generally a hundred, and when that hundredth year rolls around the young ritualistically devour the elder to gain their strength and wisdom. City ghouls tend to also work for coin to buy meat from underground markets because Neo-Victorian society looks down on them and blames them for a lot of social ills (like the kidnapping of children) so some either get honest work as a laborer or become criminals to pay for meat. Oh also some ghouls picked up Catholicism because they really liked the idea of transubstantiation.
In play, ghouls have some extra mechanics:
Aging: Ghouls are basically immortal unless killed violently or eaten. And most of the time they're killed violently or eaten.
Flesh Eater: eat
meat no matter how rotten it is.
Half-Lifer: immunity to prey sense and physical corruption.
Heightened Hearing and Smell
Pain Fit: Ghouls respond oddly to being hurt. If hurt bad enough, a ghoul must roll to resist going into a berserker frenzy, dedicated to destroying the source of their pain, laughing madly as they smash and claw and bite.
Smell Spirits: By Nirvana.
Twitch: there's a downside to eating Animates. Some ghouls basically end up getting kuru from it and are forced to make Vitality rolls when they do. A success means vomiting and expelling the meat, a failure means that the ghoul contracts Twitch. Starting with their sweat and breath smelling like decay and escalating to insanity and schizophrenia followed by coma and death, most ghouls with Twitch are killed by their tribe members or kicked out to fend for themselves. You can't eat someone with kuru, after all.
And that's Chapter Five all wrapped up in one single post. You know what would be cool? Being able to play as a ghoul, being a plug-ugly little monkey man with a taste for meat and a loping gorilla gait and a shotgun. The game actually encourages that ghouls be treated as (dangerous, possibly lethal) comic relief characters involved in slapstick and general monkey business. Well as luck would have it, there are stats for all of the people in this chapter. If you really, really wanted to, you could use them as a general template for what kind of stats and treatment a ghoul character would get, although there is no official rule for playing as any of these besides Dhampiri. I'm just saying, though, that having a ghoul Criminal teammate would be a good source of tension-reliever. But that's just me, I'm biased towards the little guys.
NEXT TIME: CHAPTER SIX: MIRACLES OF SCIENCE or THE SMART, THE DEAD AND THE REALLY REALLY UGLY
Chapter Six, Part OneOriginal SA post
From my heart and from my hand, why don't people understand my intentions?
CHAPTER SIX PART ONE: MIRACLES OF SCIENCE
So I would in fact like to print a public apology in regards to the complaining about Victorian technology. They can in fact transplant eyes and some other organs and bits. It's still damn expensive though.
Anyway in case you forget what this book is about, the intro fluff sets a good tone for what's to come. It's framed as a partially-destroyed private journal. A Neo-Victorian doctor uses a pregnant woman's womb to help gestate reagent for creating Mercurials and intentionally poisons her to keep her body temperature up to help create different types of reagents to extract. He uses it to bring a corpse back as a Mercurial and it promptly responds by killing his assistant and he burns down his lab to make sure everything gets eradicated. This is kind of a running thing as you will see in Unhallowed Metropolis' section on Neo-Victorian super science. Yes the mad scientists in Deadlands may have created a neutron bomb that runs on the souls of the dead but a lot of them didn't intentionally poison pregnant women repeatedly for "alchemy". There is a general schism in focus in alchemy. The Vitalists believe that the Earth itself is depleted of energy and that's causing some kind of rot and decay and that's why Animates hunger for living flesh. The Vitalists have invented the anti-agapic treatments and experiment with half-lifers. Another school believes in Aristotelian science and in the importance of elements and that this bad shit is caused by an elemental imbalance. They tend to search for the Philosopher's Stone and use alchemy to make Mercurials and Galvanists, thinking that you can flush corpses with matter and correct these imbalances to make them live perfectly. Frankly, I'm with the Vitalists to a certain degree, especially when the alternative is going back to believing in humours.
Either way you slice it, they both commit atrocities but it's generally done in a sunk cost/survival fallacy way. "We've already killed a bunch of children in the process of testing this Plague cure so why let their sacrifice be in vain by stopping?" or "We have to do whatever we can to survive, damn morality".
Alchemists are capable of making drugs out of herbs, bombs out of chemicals and a whole mess of hard opiates. A lot of alchemists experiment with natural materials taken from the Wastelands. Every alchemical solution has a DR to beat and needs a sterile environment to cook in or you take -4 to the creation. They also have a production time and you can make a roll to see if you have what you need out of a random assortment of chemicals to make stuff. The production has a price on top of time and a sales price; frankly, if you want to make money and have a good amount of time on your hands, you can make a bunch of highly illegal substances and have your Criminal friend hock it on the black market. Manufacturing the drug requires a successful Alchemical skill roll with use of a proper collection of materials to cook with. However, if you fail a roll to cook you can make another roll to salvage. A failure means a total failure and you need to remake the batch from scratch. A successful salvage means it comes with side effects and any future attempts to make the formula will include the side-effect unless you make it from absolute scratch again.
2: Taste of Death: Turns the imbiber into a half-lifer, giving them sterility, slowed aging and immunity to all illness, the Plague and smog. Also they get a Defect, the process gives them a seizure, and they become creepy and glum.
3: The Wasting: Make a Vitality roll every 4 hours for a day. Every failure removes 1 Vitality, you can die at -1 Vitality total.
4: Permanent Cosmetic Alteration: Gives the imbiber a Defect related to the drug. Repeated use of the drug doesn't give additional defects. This can be benign or gross as hell.
5: Temporary Psychosis: Deal with a chronic mental illness for d10+14 hours and wake up healthy and confused the next day with no side effects.
6: Hallucinogen: Flip the fuck out, chase spirits and have -5 to Skill, Wit and Intellect rolls while freaking.
7: Explosion: The lab detonates with a +6 damage roll. WHOOPS.
8-9: Sickening: Uncontrollable vomiting after d10+10 minutes, -2 Coordination and Vitality for d5 hours.
10-11: Weak Solution: If it was supposed to be permanent, it lasts d10 months, weeks last days, etc.
12-13: Temporary Isolation: Causes total sensory deprivation for d5 hours. Whoops.
14: Gas: The attempt to cook a compound instead creates a gas that knocks folks out for 5+d10 hours. WHOOPS. The gas lasts for a day and the lab needs to be cleaned; attempting to enter before that day is up requires a Vitality roll against napping.
15: Toxin: Poisons the imbiber for a half hour, requiring a Vitality roll every five minutes, removing 1 point of Vitality per failure. Can result in death.
16: Fire: Lab catches fire, cooker is at ground zero. Whoops.
17: Rage: After d10 minutes the imbiber goes berserk for d5 hours. The imbiber has no memory of this and will attack everything in sight.
18: Addictive: Welp. Going a week without another dose costs you -1 to all Attributes and all rolls until you take another hit. Failure to dose for a month raises it to -2. After three months of sobriety the stat losses disappear.
19: Permanent Psychosis: Substance causes extreme mental imbalance and a new-found disorder.
20: Permanent Mental Damage: -1 Intellect and Wit, slack-jawed stares and other stereotypical behavior, can only affect an imbiber once.
Alchemical creations, drugs and not-drugs, are:
Alchemist's Fire: that stuff you carry around to kill gelatinous monsters in D&D.
ALS2: Artificial womb nutrient broth. Comes in ALS2(1) and ALS2(6) for preserving body parts and gestating artificial life respectfully.
Angel: temporary Plague suppressant. One dose freezes symptoms for a hour. After that you have to make a Vitality roll for every dose. A success keeps the Plague at bay for a hour, a failure means Angel can no longer help you ever again and it resumes.
Anti-Rejection Drug: So yeah it turns out that doctors can tailor replacement body parts to be the same as your body's or you can just take
neuropozyneanti-rejection drugs for the rest of your life. Going without it reduces your Vitality by 1 per day, taking the drug lets you regain 1 point weekly.
Clarity: Detox drug, instantly forces every bad drug out of your pores in a thick bloody druggy sweat. Make a Vitality roll. Success means nothing, failure reduces Vitality by 1 for a day.
Corpse Flower: Makes you look like an Animate, helps you elude Prey Sense. When it wears off you get wicked thirsty for ten minutes. Doesn't work on half-lifers.
Crone: Crone is a paste that makes you look old and gross to help disguise you. It comes in temporary or permanent form. Don't mix with anti-agapic treatments or your body will sustain permanent damage. You can also whip up a cure to help make it wear off faster than d10 hours.
Hyde: Since the Thrope serum has been lost for years, Hyde has been made to pick up the slack. Hyde gives you +2 Coordination and Vitality for 5d10 minutes along with -3 Intellect and Charm. There are hundreds of brands of Hyde and each one transforms you into a different-looking inhuman, rampaging, mindless murderbeast devoid of a conscience. Once the drug runs out, a Vitality roll leaves you with a loss of either 1 or 2 Vitality and Coordination for twelve hours, and for the next two weeks the character must make a Will roll when faced with stress to not succumb to a temporary freakout that makes them transform again for 2d10 minutes. Can't be used by half-lifers.
Jack's Blessing: a prepared cut of herb that gives you +2 Perception while chewed.
Maiden's Heart: a cooked and prepared herb that lets you ignore Wound penalties for hours equal to your Vitality. If eaten daily while injured, healing time is reduced by a day.
Masque: a solution that causes a thick putty to be excreted from the skin that can be sculpted to disguise your face. A variation can be made that is either permanent or causes spikes to grow through the face, disfiguring the imbiber for a while. The effects last for a day and Masque can't be used for another day or else the user suffers a Flesh Wound from their face becoming too unstable.
Nectar: Extracted from a Wasteland creature called a "nectar swampcat" (which apparently looks like a cross between a cat, oily sea otter and an iguana), Nectar causes the imbiber to sleep and dream for days on end. Using it requires a Will roll to resist addiction. When addicted and using, they make Vitality rolls, losing 1 per failure until going comatose and dying. Depriving yourself when addicted results weekly Will rolls. Will 0 means that the user needs to take Nectar in order to regain the lost will. You can't actually quit Nectar; addicts either die of insomnia because they can't sleep and dream without it or die in a starvation coma.
Ravager: An injection-driven compound, Ravager is normally used in syringe guns. It causes the target to have painful seizures and lock up in contorted positions as their muscle paralyze, bone spurs burst through their skin and a layer of flesh grows over their eyes. Over time (after 60+6d10 minutes) the changes will revert with no lasting damage, reverting all Attribute damage back to normal. Doesn't work on half-lifers or they'd just use this constantly on Thropes.
Remembrancer: Made by extracting and distilling cerebral fluids from recently dead humans or half-lifers, Remembrancer lets the drinker experience the memories of the dead. You have to roll to be able to reconcile the new memories with yours and a critical failure gives you multiple personality disorder that switches between you and the dead.
Repose: a simple liquid sedative that gives you a nap. Used for surgery.
Reversion Serum: Forces Thropes to turn back into humans for d10 hours.
Stitch: A healing drug and coagulant that stabilizes massive blood loss and cuts healing time in half if applied daily.
Styx: Why they didn't call this Lethe, I don't know. Distilled from the fruit of the Wasteland plant known as "The Forgetting Tree", the drug causes poison dreams that can destroy a subject's memories and replace them with the memories of the dream. With a successful roll that doesn't happen. Using it for mental rewriting is punishable by hard coal mine labor.
Thrope Suppression Drug: A dose inhibits a Thrope's ability to transform willingly for 24 hours. Every three times you fail a roll to resist transforming, you need an extra dose to have it suppressed and the duration is reduced by two hours. Eventually it won't work on you anymore.
Thrope Tranquilizer: A heavy sedative that puts Thropes out like a light. If used on humans, they have to make a Vitality roll to take a nap as opposed to have a heart attack.
Truth Seeker: a nootropic mutagen that adds +2 Intellect and Academic Skill rolls when used. Addictive like Mentats, withdrawal causes insomnia and weekly Will rolls. Failure reduces will by 1, when 0 the addict takes a coma nap for d5 days and wakes up fully refreshed. There's no cure for Truth Seeker addiction.
Vitriolic Shell: Acid-inna-flask.
Watcher: Made by distilling Jack's Blessing, Watcher adds Prowess and Perception bonuses while it lasts. Or it causes a headache. Mourners and Undertakers tend to use it.
Werther: Made from an attempt to refine Maiden's Heart, Werther instead causes massive internal bleeding. Anyone using it has to make a DR 20 Vitality roll or die in three minutes of internal hemorrhage.
If Neo-Victorian medicine is so damn advanced, why haven't they figured out that penicillin cures syphilis. Oh well. Basically hospitals do quality work for a high price and a lot of doctors and students cut their teeth working on patients in hospitals attached to colleges. Hospices are run by Mourners who keep an eye on the terminally ill; the Hospice of the Quiet Sleep, run by the Sisters of the Quiet Sleep, caters to the poor of the city. Transplants and organs are taken from corpses that have been cleared of the Plague (mostly) through hospitals but if you can't get what you need, try the black market. You can in fact clone organs and limbs but it costs a good deal. On top of this, anti-agapic research continues using half-lifers as the basis for immortality serums. Basic treatment costs 10 pounds per month and reverts the age by 15 years down to age 18 without prolonging life, only smoothing it out. Advanced treatment requires six days of treatment at 300 pounds a pop and can take 20 years off, but repeated use loses its oomph and only does so much. Bryant Center treatment costs 1000 for a three week treatment and must be topped off monthly at 100 pounds per visit but slices off 30 years and completely halts all aging for 10. And on top of that, madhouses and sanitariums are prevalent. The mad are used as free labor in places or subject to experimentation and lobotomy in others or given actual therapy and hypnotism in others still. There's no gold standard of care and most of it sucks because why wouldn't it.
I'm gonna gloss over diseases (they're still there and everyone's shockingly ineffective at curing shit like fucking syphilis) and reproductive technology (they're sooooo over hysteria and wandering womb, good for them, but some people still think contraception is immoral) to get to the good stuff that I want to focus on for the rest of this update: Anathemas, Homunculi and Lesser Homunculi.
Artificial wombs are used to A: make new life and B: grow babies outside of the woman's butt. It's apparently "more of an art than a science" which I consider to be...not reassuring at all. And I did some playtesting with other players to demonstrate all this ensuing babble.
For starters, all artificial life are created with the Bad Taste quality; the walking dead hate to eat them. Anathemas are near perfectly identical to human beings but are prone to mental instability due to "the artificial womb and nutrients lacking something". Why you can't just put an anathema embryo in a surrogate mother's womb is never explained and frankly would save you expenses for the ownership and use of artificial wombs and material. It takes a month to design an Anathema embryo and twelve hours to assemble it. Homunculi are humanoid and generally used as servants and helpers, looking like humans but off. The game says that homunculi look disfigured and ugly, but I personally like to think that they just look like they're a little deep in the Uncanny Valley. It takes three weeks to design a Homunculus embryo and eight hours to assemble it. Lesser homunculi are basically made of human DNA with other DNA slapped in as filler and are generally animalistic and kinda dim, used as test subjects and grunt labor. They're designed in a week and made in six hours. Both forms of homunculi have the bonus of not being born with a mental illness and only needing five months to gestate instead of nine to ten for anathemas. All of these forms of artificial life are discriminated against and feared, painted as insidious intruders who want to fuck up your society and shit. But in reality, they're probably going to inherit the Earth, especially if you put the time into designing them right.
It's a DR 16 to make an Anathema, 14 to make a Homunculus or 11 to make a Lesser and you make an Alchemy roll, needing a minimum of Alchemy and Medicine 3 and the proper facilities and materials. Using compromised materials and a dirty workplace adds a -2 modifier to the roll. You can rush the time it takes to research to create the embryo which halves the time but adds a -4 modifier to your roll, or spend time and a half to make sure the research is right and get a +2 modifier (which you lose if your research is ever interrupted by, say, plot). Further altering the DR is genetic tampering, which can let you change how the life form turns out. The main adjustments are Accelerated Decrepitude, Accelerated Maturity (born fully grown and reaching intellectual maturity in months), Ambidextrous, Animal Appearance (lesser homunculi only), Clone (of the creator, anathema only), Flawed Senses, Gigantism, Haunting Beauty, Immunities (to smog, the Wasteland and toxins), Mindless, Tailored Addiction (being is hooked on substance creator makes for loyalty), Tailored Appearance (looks exactly how you want), Tailored Attributes (allows for enhancement/limitation of Attributes) and Wild Mutations (randomized mutations that add +4 to the DR and give the GM license to kill your creation). Each tampering raises or lowers the DR of creation and it can be pretty easy to create an impossible DR for yourself pretty fast. And from here you make your roll.
Now a failure doesn't mean a failure. A failure means you can roll again to salvage the creature as Flawed Life. Flawed Life means that the creation is wrong somehow and you don't tell the player that they failed or created flawed life.
Flawed Life :
2: Horror: The resulting creation should not exist but does, a horrific mess of body parts and flesh. It will continue to live (with assistance) unless euthanized.
3: Crib Death: creation dies in 2d10 days after being born.
4-5: Monstrosity: Ugly as sin and barely able to survive birth, it survives with 5 mutations.
6: Complications: The creation needs a month of constant care to keep it alive through daily Medicine rolls. Survival gives the creation one mutation.
7-11: Flawed: Close but not quite right. One mutation.
13-14: Mutant: Creation is born with two mutations and gets another at age 20 then another every 5 years it lives.
15-16: Little Monster: The creation breaks out of the artificial womb before birth and hides from the world in the sewers, feeding on anything it can get its hands on until it matures. A surviving creation gets two mutations and probably needs a bunch of Undertakers to take it out before it becomes too much of a threat.
17-18: Psychotic: The creation is born nuts, gaining a mutation and a Chronic Mental Disorder.
19: Brain Death: The creation has no higher brain function.
20: Killer: The creation is a born sociopath and must kill one person a month or it will freak the fuck out.
So say you made a good embryo or a flawed embryo. You can do two things here: either pop the sucker into a tube or divide the zygote. Dividing the zygote lets you create up to eight cellular cultures you can put in an artificial womb, but each division has a DR of 16. If failed, you can roll again to salvage the division as a Flawed Life. If you succeed and it was a good embryo, the ones that are salvaged are simply Flawed Life different from their brothers. If the original embryo was Flawed, salvaged zygotes have an extra mutation. All mutations/flaws incurred from splitting are relevant to the resulting entities and not its other siblings. When all's said and done, an Anathema needs thirty hours of attention per week while gestating, a Homunculus needs 20 and a Lesser Homunculus needs 10. You also need to pay upkeep and cycle out ALS2(6) monthly or they will die.
So let's see how this actually works in play.
Doctor Geiger, Doctor Devin Conwell and Doctor Laura McHale are all doctors in the employ of the Royal College. They all have Medicine 5 and Alchemy 5, can reroll failed rolls for making life and work for the Royal College so this is legal and they have access to a lot of artificial wombs. Geiger decides to make an Anathema, Devin decides to make a Homunculus and Laura decides to make a Lesser Homunculus.
Geiger rushes his development and design, taking a -4 to creation. He uses a collection of genetic material taken from servants and workers to create a pale, slender, androgynous anathema beauty in the popular style of the day. He doesn't tamper with the embryo, so the DR is 16. His first attempt, an 8, is a failure. He rerolls and gets a 13, another failure. He gets a 17 on the attempt to salvage so his Anathema design is Flawed; the GM rolls and gets a 17 so his design gets an extra Mental Condition and a 4 on the Mutation chart means they get Haunting Beauty. Geiger decides he wants to cultivate six Anathemas so he splits the zygotes five times. Four of the five divisions are successful except for #3, but another roll succeeds and gives #3 the Defect mutation. So Dr. Geiger set out to make six servants and ended up making six emotionally disturbed, so-hot-it's-a-curse assistants and one of them is wildly different than the others.
Devin takes his time and a half, getting a +2 to his roll and he decides to make a fit, tan, healthy worker homunculus, giving them Ambidexterity and Accelerated Maturity. That's +1 DR for Ambidextrous and +2 for Accelerated Maturity for a total of DR 17. His first roll comes up short with a 16 but his reroll succeeds with a 21. He decides to split the zygote only once, succeeding with a 19, creating twin worker homunculi that emerge fully grown and need a few months of teaching before they can be on their own.
Laura decides that she likes ghouls so she grabs a handful of monkey DNA, mixes it in with a dash of ghoul DNA and fills the rest with random human DNA. She takes Immunity for the monkeyghouls and Tailored Attributes, raising their Intelligence so they're not so limited mentally. She beats the DR of 15 with a 16 and decides that she wants as many monkeys as she can, splitting the zygote seven times into eight monkeyghouls. Of them all, half end up flawed and the rest end up fine. The flawed monkeyghouls end up a mutant and three Flawed ghouls. The mutant ends up deaf and an evil eye, one of the flawed gets Chronic Fits, the second gets Leprosy and the third is Lame. Laura set out to make eight identical monkeyghouls and only half of them ended up according to plan.
This is a thing that takes months. This is a thing that is harder to do if you don't want them to take months. When an artificial life form is born, unless it has Accelerated Maturity it has to grow up like a normal person so you have to make sure it doesn't get a damaging education that causes it to go crazier. And these suckers are gonna be the probable future of mankind, inheritors of man's throne and education.
Maybe they'd all be better off dying.
NEXT TIME: MERCURIALS, THROPES, GALVANISTS AND OTHER ERRATA, I PROMISE TO NOT BE SO GODDAMN VERBOSE AND SPACE-CONSUMING
Chapter Six, Part TwoOriginal SA post
My fucking browser crashed in the middle of typing this damn update in the browser (like the idiot I am) so now I'm nice and mad at UM. In the perfect friggin' mood for this now.
CHAPTER SIX PART TWO
So, Mercurials. Mercurials are undead who have been preserved and injected with an alchemical reanimation solution in an attempt to purify the body of elemental imbalances that cause death. It's absolutely full of fringe science and a lot of other scientists would rather focus on things that might not end in failure. Mercurials are pretty big rip-offs of the walking dead from "Herbert West, Reanimator" and they follow the fresher=better rule. The big issue is procuring a super fresh corpse and that's where people like the Lux Ex Morte come in.
The Lux Ex Morte are a secret society whose members operate independently. They have a signature weapon called a Tiger's Claw that lets them inject alchemical solutions in hand-to-hand combat. While most people either keep corpses fresh using ALS6 and preservation systems, pay a Resurrection Man or corrupt cremator or by dragging vagrants into their workshops to kill them before preserving them, the Lux Ex Morte have a variety of alchemical tricks up their sleeves. Their main tools are Serum #29 and #57. #29 is basically rohypnol that shuts down memory and makes the subject pliable and #57 is a poison that kills the subject and is circulated through their dying heartbeats to preserve the body. They use both tools to get absolutely fresh test subjects to create people resistant to Plague by killing them and trying to reanimate them. Of course the Lux Ex Morte has its opposition, the Order of Reason. The Order exists to basically arrest and kill anyone making stupid experiments involving harming innocent people and acts where the law can't. Both are pretty good summations of the state of science in London.
Mercurials themselves are true undead not beholden to the same laws as Animates. Some desire to eat flesh, some don't. They have no heartbeat, no need for any sustenance. Every Mercurial is decaying, though. They're always inherently breaking down at a rate depending on how they came to be after death. A normal Mercurial is good for a few weeks, needing to make a Vitality roll weekly, losing 1 point of Vitality or Coordination per failure. At 0 the body goes inert and can't be used to work again.
So a reanimator needs a way to store and keep the body fresh, a place to whip up a serum and hold the body and they also need supplies to make the serum. Every reanimator has a different serum; you can buy it but it's illegal so most make their own. It's DR 14 to make your own reanimation serum and if you mess up you can salvage it as a flawed serum.
2: Mutagen: The serum works but disfigures and mutates the Mercurial wildly, forcing a Fear roll.
3-4: Putrifier: The serum doesn't reanimate the dead, it liquifies them. You need a new corpse and a mop to clean up the mess.
5-9: Fast Acting: The serum works in seconds, not minutes.
10-12: Weak Solution: The serum isn't as potent as you hoped, giving you -4 to reanimation rolls.
13-17: Slow Acting: The serum works in hours, not minutes.
18-19: Localized Reagent: It only reanimates wherever you stuck the needle for a while before it settles back down and you can try again with the same body.
20: Gas: Instead of a liquid you accidentally make a Trioxin gas leak that brings all corpses in the lab back to life.
4-5: Mindless: You bring them back with the mental capacity of a sedated cow. The Mercurial does nothing more than wander around in ignorant bliss for the few days it has to exist before decaying.
6-8: Death Rattle: The corpse successfully revives. And immediately has a violent fit, thrashing and struggling on the slab as it tears itself apart with both hands and its flailing. Soon you've got plenty of corpse confetti all over the lab and a dead body.
9-10: The Mercurial opens its eyes and screams at the top of its lungs for up to 20 minutes, shrieking endlessly. After 2d10 minutes it stops screaming and collapses, inert.
11-12: Plague Spawn: The corpse was a little bit infected with the Plague. It comes back as a mindless, violent killer that exists only to kill everything living in sight and infect it with the Plague and die naturally in a few days.
13-15: Berserker: Like a Plague Spawn but not infectious with the Plague. All it wants to do is maul everything in sight and consume human flesh, so let's hope you tied those restraints nice and tight. Berserker Mercurials only live for a few days.
16-17: Revenant: Revenants have some of their memories and a hunger for human flesh. They can't always be reasoned with, as their intelligence wanes from time to time. They also have trouble resisting the urge to eat people and just live their lives in a half-aware meat-hungry stupor.
18-19: Lunatic: Lunatics have most of their memories and mental faculties intact but still have an issue with wanting to eat specific parts of people. They can act more human than the ones before it but they can slip up and end up in a blood hungry frenzy at times. They're also nuts. On the plus side, they're long lived and only make decay checks yearly.
20: Reborn: Rarely Mercurials come back to life perfectly. Reborn are those lucky few who come back with their minds permanently intact but with a few issues. Those issues tend to be depression and melancholy and dealing with suicidal thoughts along with only feeling kinship in the presence of the dead. With the help of a good therapist they can have a long undead life.
Thropes were invented as part of a super soldier program in the 1940s. Ideally, they were resistant to damage, Plague-immune and tireless, able to be deployed against heavily populated areas and clear out Animates. The original Thropes were soldiers dropped off with a vial of Thrope serum that they could chug to transform. They would basically just keep groups of soldiers around to take them back to base after their transformation wore off. But then they stopped needing the serum and started regenerating from injury while human. And then they started biting their allies while transformed, and THEIR wounds knitted shut in a day. And then they stopped being able to turn back into human form after five years. By 1951 the Thrope program was discontinued when the majority of the Thropes escaped into the Wastelands, and the scientists and army most of the notes and the original formulas. This hasn't stopped people from trying to make the "true serum" again, mind.
True Thropes are crosses between Mr. Hyde and werewolves, as evidenced by the pictures. They're big, they're burly, they regenerate from damn near anything, their bites are infectious and they can't be human anymore after ten transformations. They also are functionally immortal short of overwhelming force or an accident (like suffocation or starvation). The Thropes of the Wastelands can have multiple kids per pregnancy which are called Purebred who will never have a human form and have a feral animal intelligence. They live in packs with literal fights for dominance and spend their days hunting and feeding and fighting. If the ghouls don't inherit the Earth, the Thropes sure as hell will. But a lot of human knowledge and creation will be lost in the process.
Because it's hard to make the true serum, the only way to become a real Thrope is to be bitten by a Wasteland Thrope. The DR to make the true Thrope serum is 28 and frankly you might as well just say "you'll never make it". Any attempts to make a serum generally require a second roll (DR 20) to make a flawed serum. The big thing about Thrope serums is that A: there's a ton of them and B: the first time you drink the serum always has the same effect. The drinker gets huge, regenerates any wound, wrecks shit and then transforms back to normal. The real killer is the second transformation unless otherwise stated.
2: Killer Transformation: The first transformation is grotesque and cancerous, causing the victim to just balls-out mutate and turn into a twitching mass of bone and flesh that dies quickly.
3-4: Weak Serum: The drinker turns into a Thrope BUT can't pass it on with a bite, is not immortal and can't regenerate. The act of becoming human inflicts a Serious Wound and other Thropes think you're a wuss. You're also sterile, just to rub salt in the wounds. The upside? You retain your mind in Thrope form and you don't fly into homicidal rages. You can't drink another serum to fix this.
5-6: Mutagen: The next time you transform you become a misshapen monster, not a Thrope. Bad shit happens to you and you look
. You also have one or two attributes permanently reduced by 1. Whenever you transform, you turn into your monster form from now on and you have a permanent Defect. You can't drink another serum to fix this.
7-8: Partial Transformation: Your first transformation stops halfway through, permanently putting you in a state between forms. +1 Vitality, -1 Charm and you have a Defect. You can't drink another serum to fix this.
9-11: One Shot: You feel the anger overtaking you and...nothing happens. Your dose was only good for that first transformation and that's it, you're not really a Thrope. You can take another serum if you want, but a one-shot Thrope serum is pretty perfect for gaining the massive benefits briefly with no downside.
12-13: Killing Machine: Your second transformation turns you absolutely apeshit. You see red during that second turn and have to spend the whole time sedated or restrained. Otherwise you'll go on a massive killing spree, breaking everything in your path. When you turn back to normal, you are no longer a Thrope. You can drink another serum if you want.
14-15: Degenerating Form: Every time you transform it takes a toll on your body. You have all of the Thrope benefits except for immortality and your bite. Sometimes you only transform halfway, sometimes the Thrope mind gets stuck in your body. Every time you return to human form you have to make a Vitality roll where failure reduces it by 1. Hitting 0 paralyzes you, going beneath that kills you because your body couldn't take the strain of irregular, stressful transformations. Should you ever hang with other Thropes, they can smell your condition and mercy-kill you. You can't take another serum to fix this and it will probably kill you.
16-17: Flawed Transmogrification: Your first transformation only affects your limbs, twisting and warping them. You end up Lame and with a Defect, unable to transform again or drink another serum and gain its benefits.
18-19: Weak Serum.
20: Killer Transformation.
Being a Thrope sucks. Every time you gain a Serious Wound or feel sufficiently threatened you have to make a DR 11 Will roll to not transform. Every time you fail the DR goes up by one, and willingly transforming to help others or free yourself counts as a failure. And every time you transform it lasts longer and longer and you're harder to control and transformation is faster and easier. After you transform ten times you abandon society and go out into the Wastelands to find your own path. Maybe it's better out there for someone like you, someone damned like you.
What are Galvanists? Shoehorned. I think they forgot they needed to have an overt Frankenstein reference so they threw this in at the last minute. Galvanists are people reanimated through aetheric energy. They're a lot like Mercurials but with galvanic technology filling gaps instead of using alchemical solutions. They come in two forms: Prometheans and Post Cadaverous Automata.
PCA are what happens when you make a Victorian Manchine a la SLA Industries. PCAs are brain tanks in mechanical bodies. If it's organic and still attached to you, it's because it serves a purpose like using a heart to pump nutrient preservative fluid through your body. For the most part, though, they're walking life support systems that are 90% mechanical and used to do things normal people can't do, like construction or mining. PCA Galvanists are still technically alive though, but they're still treated as machine men. Most of the time they have one limb wholly replaced with a tool to work with or don't even get anything more than a Rattler to use to talk. Prometheans are different. Prometheans are made when a doctor preserves and stitches body parts together to make a whole body. A PCA has an internal aetheric energy system that requires batteries or hand-cranks to recharge or it just draws on the power grid. PCAs need maintenance weekly. Prometheans are 100% alive. Not half-lifers, alive. They have beating hearts, they can age, they need to eat, they don't need aetheric energy.
Either way making a Galvanic is hard work. You need to collect the parts, store the parts, build mechanical parts if need be and then figure out how to deliver the spark of life properly to the soul. The other big problem is getting your hands on a suitable brain. It's a lot harder to keep a brain in a preserved state than an arm, so you generally need a jar to help keep it alive for a while. The process of making any sort of Galvanic is to make a few Galvanic or Medicine rolls to assemble the body, perfect the body, smooth out scars and make adjustments. From there you put the brain in and make the proper rolls to see if it gets LIFE. Unlike all other experiments, failure means that you have to fix the body a little bit before trying again. Another failure means the whole thing is a wash and you need to start over again. Which is a problem because it can take ten hours a day for at least a month for work, even more if you're gonna sew it without scars and push yourself to the limit to get it done faster and done right
Galvanists can get experimental enhancements installed that raise the DR of the task of animation. Such enhancements are Armored Form, Beautiful, Dead Ringer (make the Promethean look exactly like someone), Giant, Graceful, Hardened Skeleton, Heightened Senses, Industrial Equipment (for PCAs only) and Reproductively Viable (Prometheans only). Yeah, that's right. You may have brought them to life with 100% life but they can't actually make babies unless you want them to. PCAs can be taught skills, look hideous, need maintenance and need life sustaining things. Prometheans come back to life with any possible mental issues and may have problems with memories of their past life flaring up, but galvanic reanimation isn't necessarily harsh on them and they don't come back gaining any extra baggage besides a touch of melancholy. They come back as blank slates that need some education and some care, and if the maker took the time to do it right they can even come back without stitches. It's not the best kind of second life...but when you consider some of the other options, it's not that bad of a deal. Also your creator may be a naked woman in a leather apron, so there's that to look forward to.
NEXT TIME: CHAPTER SEVEN, THE GM CHAPTER and REVISIONS BETWEEN EDITIONS and MY THOUGHTS ON THIS WHOLE THING NOW THAT I HAVE READ THE FULL DAMN BOOK
Chapter SevenOriginal SA post
This is how London ends; not with a bang, but with a whimper.
CHAPTER SEVEN: SMOKE AND MIRRORS or THE GM CHAPTER
Before I get into the actual substance of the chapter, let's talk about the fact that this is in fact the Revised/2.0 edition. What exactly changed in between Unhallowed Metropolis and this edition? Well, for starters, there's some mechanical issues. There are new classes in the form of the Detective and Deathwatch Soldier, every class gets some extra bonuses they can take and there's some new equipment and changes to it. There's no changes to the actual mechanics or anything, it's all pretty much the same. And you can originally play as an Anathema but you have to have one Mental Disorder, one extra unremovable point of Physical Corruption, two benefits and one mandatory defect. Animates can be Modular, which means that they can split up into ambulatory parts to run around and attack. The sole changes to Corruption is the addition of Ravenous, Craven and Obsession. There's two big changes: rules for having installed galvanic prosthetics and therapy through galvanic shocks, and the elimination of a LOT of of fluff text. There's an assload of just fluff and text that they excised, like Neo-Victorian politics and what their political parties do and a lot of text about Animates and this and that. They just cut out a TON of background info and throw it away wholesale and that's really all that's changed.
The chapter proper pretty much starts off with this.
Yeah so you can set Unhallowed Metropolis somewhere besides London. You have the blessing of the developers. Go spread your wings and fly across the Wastelands for adventure~
Except your GM would have to make up the majority of what the hell is going on in most of those places. We have a gist, sure, but broad strokes do not a good setting make. You can have your adventure elsewhere but it's sure as hell not gonna be 100% true to the core rulebook experience. For example: you know how the smog of London is a giant deadly force and gas masks are super cool life-saving fashions?
The smogs only apply to London. You can go a few miles outside of the walls of London into the Wastelands and taadaa, you can breathe easily. The Welsh, Scottish and Irish still living in their homes don't have to wear respirators and never go batshit nuts on days where you can see the sun. London is, frankly, a goddamn crazy place so wrapped up in its delusions it thinks it's the best place on Earth and shares the madness with anyone who wants to call it home.
So this chapter is full of GM tips and how to use different things as different antagonists. How to make parties, how to scale encounters, how to scare your players, it's all full of that standard "how to run" flavor. And for the first time it really starts to acknowledge just how lousy things are in London, but never focuses on them for particularly long. And it does want you to play some kind of long-term campaign, but that's if you want to. And they do include some campaign seeds.
: A Doctor or Aristocrat gets a letter from a friend who claims a colleague in charge of a private sanitarium has delved into dark sciences and he's gonna go talk to him, asking for help publishing any findings. The friend disappears but his wife asks the PCs to find out what happened. Spoilers: the friend is still alive but the doctor has been experimenting with alchemical reanimation (Mercurials) and in addition to the crazed patients there are pissed-off Mercurials frothing at he mouth in private cells.
: An Aristocrat gets a tip from one of their allies asking for help retrieving a letter that never was delivered by a servant of another noble. Turns out the servant was killed by a gang who hocks the bodies and possessions of people they mug and kill and you're gonna have to contend with them to find the body and the letter.
The Lost Children
: A bunch of kids get lost in the Underground and the PCs have to go deep beneath the streets of London to find them. This one is pretty carte blanche for GMs to just figure out what they find and who/what has the kids down there.
: Mr. Gaunt himself is a neighborhood doctor in the East End who helps people in exchange for favors. If Mr. Gaunt ever helps the PCs then he'll ask for their help with finding and stopping a serial killer who preys on young women. Good news: the killer isn't hard to find. Bad news: the killer is a feral vampire who has rigged his destitute lair with dozens of boobytraps.
: Two thugs ask a Doctor PC for help with their sick sister, kidnapping them if necessary. Problem: the sister has been bitten by an Animate, and the thugs make it perfectly clear that if she dies, the doctor dies. Bigger problem: it's a Lost Day and the fog is thick with eminent death for the PCs going to rescue their ally. Even bigger problem: there's a third brother hiding in a closet who was also bitten and is much closer to death than the girl is; he didn't tell his siblings and the closet door is thin.
: The PCs are hired to go out into the Wastelands to find the wreckage of a crashed train that was carrying a Top Scientist for a company who had a new top-secret formula in his possession. It's been a day since the crash and the company is afraid a rival company will steal their secrets and their scientist. It's the GM's chance to let the players live life (briefly) outside of London and see what's going on in the Wastelands.
Watcher of the Dead
: A Mourner PC is hired to stand watch over a recently deceased aristocrat scientist's funeral and she and the PCs get to go their fertile farmland estate for the vigil. Unfortunately it turns out that there's a monster who has been seen by the farm workers and it's particularly violent. Turns out the deceased was kind of a dick and tested Thrope serums on his wife without her knowing. She doesn't know she's a Thrope and feeling intense emotions at her husband's funeral is not the best scenario for a wereHyde.
Rand Brittain mentioned A Manual of Ambition a while back on page 10 and that really feels like what a long-term campaign and project would be like, especially if you're using science. If you didn't look at that, the point of A Manual of Ambition is that you have an idea, and it's about the road to hell being paved with good intentions executing it. Over time your goals and ambitions get warped and you get more and more corrupt as your morals are thrown by the wayside to accomplish your deeds. The three example scenarios in the book are about a commander going insane with paranoia and zeal when trying to retake a lost colony on Earth in the future, a doctor trying to make humanity free from sin by removing their higher mental functions, and a scientist trying to figure out if zombies can regain their souls through experiencing religious epiphanies through chemicals. This idea would be right at home with Unhallowed Metropolis, but the creator decided to make it separate with its own mechanics and own forms of Corruption. Some example scenarios using A Manual of Ambition as a base:
A group of doctors try to create a sapient Thrope through serum experimentation and examining the mind and intelligence of a real one versus one from a flawed serum. The big stepping stones would be procuring a true Thrope, a flawed Thrope and experimenting on them both and reproducing your findings on test subjects using your own theories.
Scientists attempt to make stable Anathemas through correcting some measure in artificial gestation. Maybe they try to use a surrogate mother to birth the designed embryo, maybe they try to make their own, new womb or nutrient fluid that replicates uterine conditions perfectly. How would you measure and compare this, what effect would an Anathema embryo have on a human mother, where would you find the test subjects for this?
Workers and scientists are desperately trying to negate the effects of the encroaching Blight and Wasteland. If the Earth is dying or poisoned or becoming something undead, just how in the hell are you going to try to bring the spark back to the tainted, mutant lands?
The PCs join the British army or a scientific expedition to the bloodthirsty country of India, hunting rare and exotic forms of vampires as they search for clusters of survivors to help bring stability to the country.
The French try to invade a country that is still doing relatively well, like Prague. Actions like this can't go ignored, and soon the world war that this Earth never knew starts to surface with countries taking sides.
The PCs get sent to America to help their Yankee allies in the oil fields of Texas which are slowly consumed by the Blight day by day. Their job is to help create a crack legion of soldier Homunculi and use British-developed super science to help the workers stay safe and keep the oil derricks pumping.
The PCs are hired by a strange reclusive aristocrat to kill his siblings so he can have a clear bid for the House of Lords with them gone, planning to truly help Britain from a seat of power. The downside is that his brothers are a Wasteland big game hunter and an industrial magnate who the anarchists want to kill first, and his sister owns a series of vampire brothels and might be feeding secrets to the French.
Zombie Lords attack the city en masse, forcing the PCs to go to war against a relentless wave of undead or go out into the Wastelands to draw attention away from London. They might even be sent on a suicide mission to kill the Zombie Lords on the front lines.
A vampire assassin is hired by unknown benefactors. His target? Prussian royalty visiting London for policy and allegiance talks. The PCs are hired by the police to figure out who is behind the attacks, who is being targeted and how they're going to try and pull off the attacks.
The PCs are scientists part of a group trying to build the best damn creations they can to compete in a professional science and alchemy exhibition/wonder fair to secure funding for the next ten years and governmental approval.
The PCs are on a merchant vessel that is wracked by a storm and unknown creatures from the deep that forces them to run ashore and get trapped on continental Europe. The big problem is that they've wrecked on the coasts of France far past the borders and the French don't take kindly to trespassers.
A PCA worker goes rogue and escapes from its owners, desperately trying to claim the human organs and parts it thinks it needs from innocent civilians.
It's not stated if Thropes exist anywhere else in the world, but friends of London would be interested in studying them and the idea of regenerating super soldiers. Unfortunately, a British Thrope is not as sedated as its captors thought it was, and now a highly infectious killing machine is loose in the streets of New York City.
Unhallowed Metropolis is a game that always manages to stick with me. I don't like how they want me to play it but at the same time...I just can't forget some aspects of it. Maybe I'm a sucker, maybe I'm interested in crap, but there are some genuinely good ideas here, just presented pretty badly and incompletely. I want there to be source books for France and Prussia and I want there to be a shot at happiness. But I guess in the end, that's up to me and anyone else who'd like to give this a shot. So if you're interested in this game, go ahead. Go forewarned with knowledge. Breathe your own life into London and hope it blows away a little bit of the smog and stale death. For me and my presentation, this is where it comes to a close.
But even in the end of Unhallowed Metropolis...something undying, something immortal still stirs and lurks, and it's coming for the living.