Her Majesty's Finest [UnMet]
How to Play a Fate Freeform
What Will Players Do?
Players in Unhallowed Metropolis take control of the finest subjects in Her Majesty’s Empire. Incredibly proficient in various skill sets, and armed with customized devices, you will defend the Empire against internal, external and outside threats.
The Game System
The mechanics of Unhallowed Metropolis are powered by Fate Accelerated, but several things have been changed to better align the mechanics with the themes of the setting.
This document can’t hold all of the mechanics for Unhallowed Metropolis, it’s intended to be a primer, a guide, to show you where the rules in Unhallowed Metropolis deviate from those in Fate Accelerated.
How to Play
Following are the rules changes made to Fate Accelerated for the Unhallowed Metropolis setting.
Contests: Using Style
And now, ladies and gentlemen, here on the next few pages, I present the only rule you need to understand to play Her Majesty’s Finest.
In the tabletop game, players settle their scores with risks. Here, in Her Majesty’s Finest, we settle things with Contests. There really aren’t any dice or playing cards or any other random number generators. Nope. What we’ve got is spending Style.
The key to the Parlor Game is Style. If you want something to happen in the game, spend a Style and it happens. Want to add a secret door to the room you are in? Spend a Style. Want to say Lord Willford is your uncle? Spend a Style. Jump across rooftops or pick a lock? Spend a Style.
If you want to prevent it from happening, you have to spend more Style than the other guy.
If you modify any existing character or object in the game with a Style Point, you must give the owner of that character or object the Style Point. If he accepts your suggestion, he gets the Style you want to spend. If he doesn’t, you can either submit and accept his “no” taking your Style back, or you can start a Contest. Let’s go through it, step-by-step.
If you want to modify something that isn’t owned by a character, like the environment, then you must give three points of Style to the Storyteller. It’s easier to resolve issues with the owner of a character, isn’t it?
First, an important rule. In fact, it may be the most important rule.
You cannot use Style to replace roleplaying. In other words, if you want to convince another player to act against his better interests, you cannot simply offer Style and be done with it.
If you don’t roleplay a contest, you cannot spend Style.
If another player tries to give you Style without making an effort to roleplay the reason for spending the Style, you may ignore the entire contest, calling “Rule Zero.”
Step 1: “Is It True?”
First, remember what I said just above about trying to replace roleplaying with Style.
Next, if you want to say something is true in the game — that you and another character were once lovers in a younger and more innocent age or that a secret panel exists in the wall or that a particular library contains a particular book — offer a Style to the appropriate player (who has a relevant Aspect), explain your suggestion and ask, “Is it true?”
You may offer as much Style as you want: one, two, three, fifteen. Offer all the Style you want.
If your target says, “Yes,” give him the Style you offered and your request is fulfilled.
If your target says, “No,” you have three choices. You can persist, desist or insist.
- If you persist, you simply offer them more Style, upping your original offer. If your target says, “Yes,” the contest is over.
- If you desist, you give up the attempt and put your Style pack in your pocket or pouch. The target has said “No” and that’s enough. The contest is done.
- If you insist, move on to Step 2.
Step 2: “But, I Insist…”
This is where you step up the game. Your target has refused a friendly offer of Style.
As soon as you say, “But I insist…” any Style spent by any player involved in the contest is lost. No player gets any Style after someone invokes “But I insist…”.
The acting player (the one who started the Contest) and the reacting player (the one the Contest is about) both spend Style as they wish. You can wait to see how much Style your opponent is willing to spend to outbid him or you can make an offer of your own.
One loophole to this rule: You can spend Style to invoke a Profession(Rating), a Personal Aspect (2), a Stunt (probably 1, unless its a rules loophole) and/or Situational Asset (2). Anything that you’ve brought with you, but only one of each.
These count as Style equal to the above rating. You can add extra Style to these, but any style spent to invoke these is not counted.
Whoever is willing to spend the most Style has privilege (as per the core game) and may narrate the outcome of the Contest.
Again: all Style spent after players invoke “But I insist…” is lost.
Character Creation Summary
Aspects: Come up with your character’s Calling and Drive aspects.
- Professions: Rank your Professions with the following ratings – 3, 2, 2, 1, 1, 0
- Name: Name your character.
- Phase One:Describe your character’s first adventure.
- Phases Two and Three: Describe how you’ve crossed paths with two other characters.
- Aspects: Write down one aspect for each of these three experiences.
- Stunts: Pick or invent three stunts.
- Refresh: Determine how many style points you start play with (usually 3).
Stress and Consequences:Determine how much of a beating your character can take (normally 3).
In place of skills or approaches, Unhallowed Metropolis uses a middle ground: professions. Your professions describe your collective innate talent, training or experience in an area of expertise. They are added to nearly every dice roll you make and reflect your character’s broad base of knowledge and ability.
The professions are:
The Academic thinks and discovers. Interpreting the world around you, recalling knowledge and gathering relevant information are all part and parcel of what it means to be an Academic.
Overcome:Academics can apply their knowledge to achieve a goal, like deciphering ancient text on a tomb wall or recalling a bit of information they may have researched in the past. Academics can also able to uncover unknown information through researching old tombs or performing inquiries with relevant contacts.
When disputing facts or discussing some kind of social issue, a contest is usually performed to see who wins the debate.
Create Advantages:Academic is one of the most versatile professions for creating advantages. As long as you’re willing to take the time to do some investigative research. Most of the time, you’ll use Academic to create a story detail, some obscure bit of information that you uncover or know already. By studying, searching or analyzing a subject, you can create an aspect representing what you’ve discovered about nearly anything in the setting that your character could reasonable unearth or know. This is also useful for assessing the aspects on another character’s sheet or getting a read on their emotional state, provided you have some kind of interpersonal contact with them.
Attack:Academic is not usually used for attacks, and any attacks using this profession, such as Psychics or Hypnosis, are likely to cause Stress to the attacker.
Defend:Academic is the profession used to defend against social actions taken against you by seeing through false information or figuring out their intentions, such as when a Scoundrel tries to get you to believe a lie or an Aristocrat’s attempts to sway your opinion or mood.
The Aristocrat influences and socializes. Aristocrats are adept at fitting in at a party, negotiating treaties and intimidating a Triad thug to stand down by virtue of their authority.
Overcome:Aristocrat is used to influence others to do what you want, either through charm or coercion, and to establish connections with others. Entertainers charm their customers, corrupt officials intimidate citizens and merchants barter their goods or services. For nameless NPCs, this is a single overcome action, but for named NPCs and PCs, you may have to enter into a contest.
Create Advantages:Use Aristocrat to create advantages representing momentary emotional states, like Enraged, Shocked, Hesitant, Joyful or Excited. You can also establish positive moods in a scene or get someone to trust you. You could give a speech to Inspire, or stir a crowd into a Crazed Mob, or simply make someone Talkative or Helpful.
Attack: Aristocrat only performs attacks as part of social duels. (See Dueling, pg. XX)
Defend: Aristocrat defends against any attempt to damage your reputation, change a mood you’ve created or make you look bad in front of other people.
The Explorer evades and navigates. Whether it’s behind the yoke of an airship, hiking the Kausao mountain range or navigating the streets of the City, Explorer’s are masters of their terrain.
Overcome:Explorers overcome obstacles by moving over, under or through them, or just by moving the object. Explorers are physically fit – capable of running, jumping, swimming, lifting and climbing – adept navigators – capable of plotting courses and knowing directions – and skilled pilots, capable of guiding airships through difficult maneuvers and landing sequences. Explorer is also the profession you use to chase or race in contests involving those types of actions.
Create Advantages:When you’re creating advantages as an Explorer, you’re jumping to high ground, performing dazzling acrobatic maneuvers, throwing objects into your path or flying your airship through terrain that makes it difficult for any opposition to follow.
Attack:Explorer is not meant to attack. If you want to use your airship or other mount to ram something, you can attack with Explorer, but take the same shifts of harm that you inflict.
Defend:Explorer is a catch-all profession for avoiding physical harm. An Explorer’s reflexes are honed to avoid environmental dangers and violent attacks with the same level of proficiency. You can also use Explorer to defend against advantages being placed on you by another’s use of Explorer, and to stop characters trying to move past you, if you’re in a position to physically interfere with whoever’s making the attempt.
The Scoundrel sneaks and deceives. Masters of lies and infiltration, a Scoundrel can sneak past guards, come up with a good cover story and commit acts of crime.
Overcome:Scoundrel’s bluff their way past guards, tell convincing lies and misrepresent a situation to get something out of it. For nameless NPCs, this is just an overcome action, but for named NPCs or PCs, it requires a contest – the target opposes with Academic to see through your falsehood. If their believing your lie could help you in the future, winning such a contest justifies the creation of a situation aspect on the target.
Scoundrels don’t just lie and cheat, however, they’re capable thieves. This profession is used to create convincing disguises, sneak past a guard, pick a pocket and create a convincing cover story in case you get caught.
Create Advantages: Use Scoundrel to create momentary distractions, cover stories, false impressions or concealment. You could feint in a duel and put your opponent Off-Balance, hide in the Perfect Spot for an Ambush or establish a Wealthy Aristocrat Cover Story to get access to an upperclass event.
Attack: Scoundrel is a great profession for setting up ideal opportunities to strike, but it doesn’t attack directly.
Defend: Scoundrels can throw off investigations by placing misinformation and efforts made to discern their true motives.
The Soldier attacks and maneuvers. Either as members of a formal military or focusing on personal combat, Soldiers are trained in the use of a wide-range of weaponry and combative techniques.
Overcome:Soldier is used to conduct duels of combative skill (see Dueling, pg. XX), as well as commanding troops in large scale battle.
Create Advantages:Most advantages created in a battle are created by a Soldier. Any number of special moves can be covered with advantages: a targeted strike to stun, tripping, disarming, etc. Any action that requires technical, combative skill to perform.
Attack:This is where the Soldier shines. You make physical attacks with Soldier at all ranges and with all weapons.
Defend:You can use Soldier to defend against create advantage attempts from Soldier, representing having better technique than your opponent. Soldier can also be used to defend against melee attacks by parrying.
The Tradesman builds and sabotages. Tradesmen are gifted with advanced technical expertise, able to perform refinement processes, build clockwork devices or steam engines, and sabotage machinery.
Overcome: Tradesmen build, break or fix machinery, presuming they have the time and access to a workshop or the proper tools. Often, actions performed by a Tradesman are one component of a more complex situation, making it a popular profession for overcoming challenges.
Create Advantages: Probably the primary use of the Tradesman profession is to create advantages representing aethertech devices and, if you want them to stick around, turning them into assets (see Assets, pg. XX). But an advantage created by an Tradesman could be a temporary feature added to a device (Armor-Plated or Targeting Scope), or they could represent something useful the Tradesman notices (Flaw in the Cross-Sectional Support Shaft or Hastily Put Together).
Created advantages by Tradesman can also take the form of a quick and dirty sabotage or jury-rigging on mechanical objects. For example, you might create a Makeshift Pulley to get to get to a location above you, or mess with the iron sights on an opponent’s weapon before a duel to make it Hard to Aim.
Attack: Tradesmen use heavy weapons, like cannons and siege weaponry, to attack airships and buildings (or something that’s typically not a character). Tradesmen can also attack mechanical assets, provided they can muck about with their gears and wiring in some way.
Defend: Tradesmen can defend their own crafted items from being sabotaged, but unless they are controlling a piece of machinery that allows them to block, Tradesman isn’t used to defend.
This aspect provides permission to purchase many Stunts later in character creation and the game, and so it is wise to carefully consider this Aspect).
Adventuress – High class courtesans and paramours, an Adventuress spends her time seeking out various undertakings that will give her a reputation for being a thrill seeking daredevil. Some just like being able to be their own woman, to spend time out doing things that most wouldn’t dare think of doing. Others are just in it for the action- to get her unusual exploits both in the papers and to give her access to many a lover’s bedroom (Additional Callings, p.1).1
Airship Pilot – The Naval Airships Division is the elite of the elite of her Majesty’s Royal Navy, freshly minted since the purchase of outdated Prussian airships. One thing is clear, the call of the open skies is never quieted. Even after animates ran rough trod over the world and the landscape became a blasted wasteland there are still brave men and women who find the thought of flying exhilarating. (Additional Callings, Page 3).1
Alchemist – The secrets of life and their unseen forces, the workings of action and reaction into something far grander than their original design, and metaphysics all seem to captivate the Alchemist’s heart. They work beyond reason, in a realm of possibilities where everything is mutable, and knowledge is the key to their power. Some find them arrogant to believe themselves to be the hand of God, others find them very useful for supplying whatever narcotic fix one may require in the darkness of the Metropolis. (Additional Callings, Page 5).1
Alienist – Neo-Victorian science has pursued the mysteries of life and death to extremes. However, the mind of man is still a blank map. Neo-Victorian alienists are unwilling to settle for vague definitions of consciousness; cogito ergo sum is no longer acceptable. Human thought may be invisible, but its effects and outcomes are certainly tangible, and alienists require nothing less than a final and total empirical understanding of the mind. None have succeeded, and many have gone mad in the pursuit. (UnNec Rev, Page 33)
Aristocrat – The Blue-Bloods, the Quality of Britain. Born to a life of privilege, they nevertheless struggle to gain their ends. While they begin with many material and social benefits, they are ever mindful of how they look and of the looming specter of scandal. (UnMet, Page 119)
Invoke: Deference – May split the consequences of social effects amongst multiple tiers. This probably means a small scandal, covered up, and the characters chequebook withdrawn for a week.
Compel: Privelage – An aristocrat has never known true hardship. Let them eat cake, and all that.
Criminal – The Family, the dishonorable sons and daughters of the streets. The Metropolis is both bolt-hole and hidey-hole to them, and they know its ways like nobody else. Prone to making their livings by any means necessary; experts at marshalling unusual resources. (UnMet, Page 122)
Detective – A Detective may be a plainclothes policeman, an expert in criminology sought after for his professional opinion, or a private investigator representing the interests of paying clients. In whatever capacity, they are individuals who make their livelihoods seeking the secrets of the metropolis. (UnNec, Page 44)
Deathwatch – The Domestic Security Force (DSF), Britain’s bulwark against the Plague-animated dead, are ruthless, indiscriminate killers bringing low innocent lives and undead monstrosities alike. They are lauded and feared by a populace that would all too likely be wiped from existence without them. (UnMet Rev, Page 87)
Dhampir – The Elegant Half-Alive Almost-Vampires. Beautiful, passionate and dangerous anti-heroes who have won their place in Society. While powerful, they are plagued by their strong emotions and their half-alive state, and their tendency to fly into a berserk fury when confronted by a vampire. (UnMet, Page 125)
Doctor – The men and women of Science pursuing knowledge, often beyond the bounds of Reason and Common Sense. To be sure, they are well-versed in Medical Arts; but also know Alchemy and other lores that might give pause if discussed in common company. If you’re hurt, then you must turn to a Doctor – best to consult one you know well. (UnMet, Page 127)
Exorcist – Exorcists are devoutly religious individuals who have devoted their lives to delivering humanity, great and small, from the predations of the invisible world. Relying on the power of faith and their sheer force of will, exorcists cast out the spirits of the dead, forcing them to relinquish their hold on the physical world. (UnNec, Page 48)
Industrialist – Industrialists are captains of industry. They run the businesses that power the Neo-Victorian landscape. As the movers and shakers of industry and the heart of much of the technologic and financial booms that has helped shaped Neo-Victorian society, Industrialists still occupy a strange space. Wealthy beyond many in the aristocracy they lack the social power that an old family name provides. Yet, the businesses they run are the lifeblood of Britain. Without the Industrialists pushing ever forward, society would crumble, but those who run the society look at Industrialists as annoyances rather than boons. Some in the aristocracy worry that one day their own power will be eclipsed by the power the Industrialists wield (UnMet ORE, Page 54).2
Medium – Throughout the world and recorded history, there have always been those who could speak to the spirits – not just able to perceive them but also peer into the mists of the spirit world. For the medium, gazing into the spiritual landscape is as natural as drawing breath, for they possess the Second Sight (UnNec, Page 53).
Mourner – The Neo-Victorian Sitters for the Recently Deceased. No mere sin eaters or professional weepers for the departed, the Mourners are the Witnesses for the Perfumed Dead of the Aristocracy. Masters of melee combat, they can be relied on to end threats to the Quality with a very sharp blade, even from the risen recently-deceased (UnMet, Page 130).
Parapsychologist – Relying on wits, intuition and an array of aethertech devices, the parapsychologist is an intrepid student of the invisible world. Differing from the methods of occultists and spiritualists, the methods of a parapsychologist are scientific and rigorous (UnNec, Page 56).
Psychic – Psychics are people of rare and incredible supermundane power. They might be able to levitate through the air, gaze into the future, move items without touching them or ignite fires with a glance… but at the price of peace of mind. The greater the talent, the more unbalanced and unstable the human mind wielding the inhuman powers becomes (UnNec, Page 59).
Undertaker – The Stars of the Penny-Dreadfuls and Heroes of the Common People; Brutal and tough professional bounty hunters who keep the streets of the Metropolis clear of the Undead and the Half-Alive, whether it be Zombie, Vampire, Ghoul or Thrope. (UnMet, Page 132)
Being Under Class
An under-class person might typically…
…Collect a debtwith physical force if it isn’t repaid in the expected fashion. If one is unable to execute such threats, then there are men more than willing to wield the cosh in your name for a percentage of the debt collected.
…Pursue an affairas openly as desired, with the only worry being angering someone hurt by it. But with many women of this class resorting to casual prostitution to make ends meet, there is a pragmatic attitude to how one’s organs of generation should be employed.
…Answer an insult with a sharp comeback, or violence. It’s a bawdy sort of a society this far down, and insults which would result in duels to the death among the Quality are bandied about casually and with little malice. But someone can always decide to take things the wrong way, particularly with the poisonous quality of the liquor available to those of little means.
…React to tragedy openly and with little restraint. Wailing, rending of garments, and all the other loud rituals of grief are common.
…Expect from othersmostly bad things. Living hand-to-mouth teaches people that when pressed, humanity is a bitter, savage animal. Loyalty is expected from family and particular friends, and betrayal of personal loyalty is a grievous hurt. Among criminals, betrayal to the authorities is frequently punished by death.
A Chimneysweep’s View of London
“I’ll cut you up a treat, I will!”
Uncommon Street Urchin
Gypsy of Ill Repute
Being Working Class
A working-class person might typically…
…Collect a debtby issuing an invoice or letter describing the debt, then by asking for it in person, possibly making such requests physically memorable. If all else fails, the debt might be pursued in the courts, but the backlog and waiting makes this an unattractive prospect.
…Pursue an affair by keeping those who might be personally angered by it ignorant of the affair. Secret polygamy wasn’t unknown, especially with traveling tradesman, who might have wives scattered here and there. Working-class women also sometimes found themselves with multiple husbands (common-law and ceremonially wed). Others of this class may approve or disapprove, but the compulsion to keep to the moral and upright (and be seen doing it) is much less serious than in the middle classes.
…Answer an insult by answering it back, with insulting comeback or physical escalation. In many quarters violence is always a waiting possibility, right under the surface, and if the drink has been flowing it is not far under the surface at all.
…React to tragedy with open sorrow, grief, and anger as appropriate. In the slums of London it isn’t unknown for mobs enraged by grief to drag those guilty (or suspected) of causing tragedies out into the street for beatings and worse.
…Expect from others that they mind their own business, stay civil, and keep their word. But living hard also teaches one to expect opportunism, shady deals, and predation.
By the Sweat of My Brow
Respectable to a Fault
“’Ello, ‘ello, ’ello! Wot’s all this, then?”
Born in a Factory
Being Middle Class
A middle-class person might typically…
…Collect a debt by referring the matter to a solicitor, or pursue it in person with carefully-worded letters. If the moneys are not forthcoming after reasonable steps are taken, then the matter might be taken to the courts.
…Pursue an affair quietly and with great discretion, lest reputations suffer, employment be threatened, and neighbors gossip. Men have a certain leeway, but middle-class women are expected to be saints. Even an unjust accusation can wound a reputation badly.
…Answer an insult with anger and harsh words, or by emulating the rigid dignity of the upper classes and answering with icy contempt.
…React to tragedy with an effort to keep strong emotions under control, but without the upper-class taboo about seeming publicly out of control. Victorian men could weep openly in joy or sorrow and not be considered unmanly for it.
…Expect from others proper deportment, civility, and professionalism — as well as nosiness, rumor-mongering, and constant judgment.
On the Brink of a Better Life
Stiff Upper Lip, and All That
Respected Harley Street Surgeon
“I’ll be at the club, dear”
Being Upper Class
An upper-class person might typically…
…Collect a debtby passing the matter to a solicitor or secretary, if the issue is a serious one, but cannot be seen to pursue a debt too hawkishly. Debts among the upper classes are often matters of honor (such as gambling losses) rather than ones of serious financial hardship, and social pressures see most of these resolved satisfactorily. Matters of business are delegated to people paid to handle such things.
…Pursue an affair with discretion (if a lady, with utmost discretion). In a matter of the heart, letters might be written; in a matter of the loins, assignations arranged. To a point, it is rude and unseemly to point out the affairs of others of quality, but those of lower classes would happily print such scandal in the newspapers, threats of lawsuits or influence notwithstanding.
…Answer an insult with a level of outrage appropriate to the class of the person issuing it. Those of this rank do not take insults without answer, unless it is to their advantage to do so. An insolent challenge by a bounder of the lowest class might be met by having footmen set the lout right with a beating, while an insult from a tradesman would be met with angry words and an effort to see the man denied the custom of any friends or relatives. From a middle-class person, it might be answered with icy contempt, anger, or dismissal. From one of equal class, overt hostility and social and economic antagonism; duels are so gauche, after all. From one of superior class, rigid dignity and reserve.
…React to tragedy with reserve and dignity. Emotions of grief and sorrow are private things, to be reserved for only the most intimate company.
…Expect from others deference and respect. From equals, courtesy and friendly society. From underlings, obedience and unobtrusiveness. From the lowest of the low, distance, unless contact is specifically invited (such as if slumming or doing good works).
The Idle Rich
A Gentleman’s Gentleman
All Title and No Estate
Born to Privilege
Former Commander in the Crimean
The City and the City
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 centre 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.
The West End
The West End has been the refuge and playground of the aristocracy since it was first built up between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries as a collection of town houses and upscale shops. Upwind of the smoke drifting from the factories and habitations of the densely crowded East End, it is the natural home for Whitehall, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and the British Museum.
At the beginning of the Reclamation, walls were built to further isolate and protect the quarter and its inhabitants. The checkpoints leading in and out of the boroughs of the West End are the most secure in the whole of the metropolis. These gates have been built with the intention of keeping out both the surplus population and the animate hordes. While the rest of the inhabitants of London choke on poison air and live out their lives in constant fear, the aristocracy hides in private estates behind an array of fortifications, entirely secluded from both the horrors of the Plague and the common man. Seldom do the inhabitants of these gilded fortresses venture outside the confines of their own boroughs, preferring to leave their business pursuits in the hands of networks of capable agents and couriers. Instead they remain sequestered in their posh neighbourhoods, which are heavily patrolled by the very best private security and police forces available. The lavish manors of the West End are maintained by armies of servants that pour into the quarter from across the metropolis. A number of gated communities in the West End are accessible only by residents, their servants, and the residents’ invited guests.
The East End
The majority of London’s poor dwell in the vast slums of the East End. Stretching from Bethnal Green and Whitechapel to East Ham, Walthamstow, and the eastern parts of Essex, the very names of the boroughs comprising this quarter of the metropolis have become synonymous with hardship and desperate poverty. Here, nearly four million souls live in cramped misery in the tumbledown labyrinth of the slums.
The East End is home to a large portion of London’s industry. Among the most impressive structures in the East End is the vast Grand Terminus, a massive rail hub and central shipping depot. Though factories were once decentralized throughout London, the East End has become the primary industrial sector since the Reclamation.
Though the factories provide much needed jobs to the destitute of the quarter, they render the East End among the most dangerously polluted sections of the metropolis. Long the source of cholera and worse, the putrefaction of the Thames is at its worst level since the height of the Victorian era. Poor sanitation, general ill-health, epidemics, and caustic environmental factors ensure a high rate of mortality. Worse yet, fuelled by centuries of misery and death, the rate of spontaneous animation is far higher in the East End than anywhere else in the metropolis.
With the cheapest rent in the metropolis, the East End, and especially Spitalfields, has been flooded with waves of immigrants too poor to settle elsewhere in the city. Notorious for its few, but much discussed, opium dens, Limehouse is London’s nefarious Chinatown. Racial tensions remain high as newcomers must continually compete with more established inhabitants for jobs and shelter.
Rising like islands of squalor, rookeries are run-down hives of rampant criminality where no law holds sway. Any network of neglected architecture may become a rookery; the colonization by derelicts and criminal elements is the only necessary step, provided that the locale goes undisturbed by police for long enough to allow a firm presence to be established. Not to be confused with the slums of the East End, rookeries exist alongside the middle-class, suburban landscape of North and South London. Despite the best attempts of Neo-Victorian planners to create a city free of such deplorable habitations, rookeries naturally coalesce over years of neglect.
The City is the historic Square Mile at the geographic heart of Greater London. The financial centre of the Neo-Victorian Empire, the borough is dominated by the industrialists, their powerful corporations, and the great banks of London. It is said to be a city of clerks, and nearly three hundred thousand flood the gates into the City daily in a race to reach their desks before the clock strikes nine. It is not possible to count these black-coated crowds with accuracy. By day, the streets of the City are a frenzy of activity but are vacant after dark. Only about ten thousand souls actually dwell within the confines of the Square Mile.
The City is proud of its history of self-reliance. During the Plague Years, the largest concentration of survivors living within the metropolis dwelt within the Square Mile, and by the start of the Reclamation, the City had already reinforced its walls and operated autonomously of outside organizations with a population of over six thousand people. Throughout the Reclamation, the City was a major staging ground for military operations into other areas of London. Now, at the request of the City of London Corporation, the Deathwatch maintains only a very small garrison within the Square Mile, just enough to operate the wall defences. In the event of Plague outbreak, the City of London Police are charged with quarantining and protecting the Square Mile.
The City of London Corporation, based on a model of governance dating back to 1111, is the municipal governing body of the City of London. The Corporation regards itself as “the oldest local authority in England.” Its status as such came about through the City’s role as the centre of finance and trade in England; it was seen as so important to the national interest that it was given considerable autonomy by the monarchy. The Corporation exercises control only over the City and not over Greater London. It includes the Lord Mayor, the Court of Aldermen, and the Court of Common Council. The City is heavily patrolled by its own police force, the City of London Police. The City Police are an institution separate from the Metropolitan Police and answer to the authority of the Lord Mayor and the Corporation of London.
North London is a haven for the middle classand includes the suburbs of Hampstead and Highgate, which retain a village atmosphere. North London has more hills than the south, and many of them give excellent views across the city. Large parks include Hampstead Heath and Alexandra Park; Hampstead Heath includes Parliament Hill, notable for its fine views over the city, and the Hampstead bathing ponds, and Alexandra Park is the site of Alexandra Palace. Many areas have significant minority populations: Stamford Hill is home to a large community of Orthodox Jews, and the Green Lanes area of Harringay has large Turkish and Greek communities. Islington is one of the more affluent areas in North London.
Though South London exists within the city’s great fortifications, it has been traditionally thought of as a suburb of London proper. The “Surrey Side,” as South London is known, occupies all areas of the metropolis south of the Thames, including the boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Greenwich, Kingston, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Southwark, Sutton, and Wandsworth. Separated from the rest of the city by the river, South Londoners have long felt removed from the people of the North.
Since the end of the Reclamation, South London has become the playground of the industrialists. Underdeveloped and sparsely populated, the industrial barons were originally drawn to South London by the low cost of property. Here they built great manors and towering citadels south of the poor districts. These are structures that rival the greatest manors of the West End. Architecture is less tightly governed in South London, where the industrialists are allowed to create the world of their dreams.
Beneath their great edifices dwell the destitute of London’s “Surrey Side.” A world removed from the wealth that surrounds it, the multitudes of Surrey live in the largest slums outside the East End.
Before London, there was the Thames, the Silent Highway. It was upon this great waterway that the Romans built the first outpost that would grow into the metropolis. The Thames, the divide between northern and southern England, is the major entry from the sea that made London the world’s greatest port.
Traditionally industry was centred in the Lea Valley, but between the construction of the protective walls around the metropolis and an inexpensive workforce, more and more industrialists are focusing their efforts on the East End since the Reclamation.
Across the river on the Surrey Side are Rotherhithe, home of the extensive Surrey Commercial Docks, and much of the rest of South London’s dock works. The area is home to dockworkers, sailors, watermen, and others who make their living from the river.
The Fortified Bridges
During the blackest period of the Plague Years, the survivors remaining in London demolished the bridges that spanned the river, cutting off the rest of the city from the tens of thousands of animates making their way into the city from South London. Though the situation in the East End was little better, the decision to destroy the bridges no doubt saved countless lives while dooming thousands more to isolation away from the relative safety of less populated and more easily defended areas of the city. Even with the newly restored bridges, the Thames still represents a natural boundary that may be used to isolate outbreaks of the Plague. Today’s bridges are equipped with easily sealed gates manned by crack Deathwatch personnel.
The metropolis of London has been occupied for centuries. Over this time, it has acquired a vast number of subterranean landmarks. The Underground not only refers to the complex network of transit tunnels beneath the city’s surface but also to the no man’s land of forgotten tunnels, the cellars of the ancient city, abandoned train tunnels dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, closed stretches of the Tube, lost sewer lines, and over a half-dozen rivers. The subterranean rivers of London are the tributaries of the River Thames and River Lea that were built over during the growth of the metropolis. Since it is difficult to stop water from flowing downhill, the rivers now flow through underground culverts. Many have been converted into sewers.
The denizens of the Underground are a crafty lot, always looking for undiscovered treasures and hidden expenses. Occasionally their excavations result in releasing masses of walled-up animates that rampage from the Underground into the streets of the metropolis. Things still worse than the living dead are to be found in the labyrinths beneath the city; the legends of the poor districts are filled with monsters that come from the darkness. Many Undertakers have made their entire careers hunting the monstrosities that dwell in the tunnels.
The depths of the Underground are home to entire tribes of ghouls who fight endless wars for turf and available resources. Men seldom venture into the areas claimed as ghoul warrens. The ghoul tribes’ own laws prohibit them from hunting humans so long as these men remain within their own territories, but trespassers into the territories of a tribe are considered property of the tribe.
Vampires have likewise found the accommodations available in the Underground to their tastes. The tunnels are also home to the odd thrope or escaped anathema as well as legions of restless spirits. In addition to these known inhabitants, the dwellers of the Underground speak of other, more terrifying creatures in the tunnels. The ghouls believe in formless horrors that devour all light and of a host of animates led by a single sentient abomination. Though the truth of these tales remains in doubt, it is certain that the Underground is not a place for the faint of heart.
The West End
The Houses of Parliament
The British Museum
The East End
Whitechapel’s In My Bones
City of London Police
City of London Corporation
Court of the Alderman
Court of the Common Council
Hampstead Bathing Pools
Also known as Trouble Aspects in FATE, these are Aspects which draw your character further into danger. Some examples are listed below:
In The Blood
Thirst for Knowledge
“My word is my bond.”
Torn Between Two Worlds
“Oh, I’ve seen it all, my dear boy.”
“I believe I know a fellow who can be of some assistance.”
Secret Fighting Arts
Woman of Will
Man of Action
The Mystical Amulet of Marcus Fontius
The Soul of a Poet and the Face of a Monster
Always Repay a Debt
Never Take Charity
“For Queen and Country!”
Before Victory, Honor
Secrets to Keep
Protect My Reputation
Get the Proper Respect
Defend The Innocent
Loyal to Her Majesty’s Finest
Power at Any Price
A Woman’s vengeance
Church of England Clergy
Murder of Crows
Private Anatomy Theater
Psi Branch Investigator
Reputation – Street
Reputation – Underground
Secret Government Agent
Secret Occult Society Membership
Immunity – Smogs
Immunity – Toxins
Unhallowed Metropolis has a large list of Stunts and Advantages for inspiration. Additionally, Calling Features could also be treated as Stunts, as long as the character has the appropriate Calling Aspect to grant Permission.