A Victoriana game for 3-5 players
- 3-pp of handouts, maps (supplied by GM) – per player
- Victoriana 2e Preview PDF – (hard copy supplied by GM, if needed)
- 10 d6 dice of one color; 10 additional d6 dice of a second color – per player
- 2 decks of Tarot cards (supplied by GM)
- Pencil and paper –per player
Despite the disapproval of the Eluminat Church, spiritualism has penetrated each and every echelon of Victorian society. Mediums, clairvoyants, seers, and card-readers of all social stripes are known to devise and host elaborate gatherings wherein they ply their esoteric trade and profit from their clients' potent concoctions of curiosity mixed with a raw need for consolation, or other such pangful motivations in seeking a glimpse beyond the veil of grief. Many mediums have established international reputations and become wealthy by hiring out their services to public spectacles, as well as to private more intimate gatherings...
This is a home-brew steampunk campaign developed in three parts, whose themes are situated halfway between fantasy and horror. Characters may be created by the players, as is always encouraged, or players may use pre-generated PCs supplied by the GM.
Possible Character Vocations
In terms of character creation, Victoriana is a skill-based game. Skills are combined to create vocations. The following listings are examples of the kind of vocations that can be built with the many skills afforded by the character-generation system, but are not nearly exhaustive.
- Detective: Corruption is commonplace and investigations are rarely anything near thorough. If you are good at what you do, you may be able to find work as a private detective--especially if you have a useful background in science, magical forensics, or else possess other "talents", perhaps even those which are frowned upon by the civil custodians of law.
- Guild Mage: A doctor of Thaumaturgy, chances are that you always had your head in a book growing up. Under the watchful eye of the Guild, your magical talents have blossomed. You are well aware of the Guild's duty to seek and quash the vile arts of Necromancy and Daemonology, but sometimes you wonder what it would be like to wield such power...
- Adventuress: Merchant's daughter or salon fashionista, she is one who seeks danger and excitement for its own reward. Possessing skills exotic to her station, she may have traveled extensively and formed graphic views on the world, it's cultures and politics. However, many people in society, including those in the Aluminat Church, consider her actions scandalous and may seek her downfall.
- Bounty Hunter or Mercenary: The world may seem civilized to those of privilege, but the Hunter lives underneath that veneer, chasing the most dangerous criminals, rogues, and other unspeakable quarry. Some do it in the name of civilization, some for money or Holy Mother Church. Others have their own... personal reasons.
- Hedge Witch: Or herbalist, or healer, as you may present yourself to customers. You look with equal contempt upon the faiths of Angels and Demons, as your kind were here before the Aluminat, the Romans, even before the Eldren. And Nuada as witness, you are confident that the Old Ways shall outlive this current age of unbalance.
- Petty Conjurer: You are a magic user, but not an academic of the Guild. Rather, you are one of those the guild would suppress--one accused, rightly or wrongly, of magical anarchy. Perhaps you are self-taught, or perhaps a special mentor sent you down your path. Like the Hedge Witch, you often find it to your advantage not to make your expertise public as it often causes mistrust.
- Adventurer or Soldier: You are or were a soldier in on of Her Majesty's regimental orders. You probably fought in the first Boer rebellions or in the conquests of India and Africa. If you are still in the army, then you could be shipped to the Crimea any day to meet your death at the hands of the Russian Matriarch's armies.
- Dodger: A cunning thief, rapscallion, or other adventuring street-urchin, you have been raised with an indomitable instinct to improve your lot, through legal means or otherwise. You consort with prostitutes, opium dealers, and other denizens of the underworld. It could be that, despite your rough exterior, there is a heart of gold beating under your breast. Or, perhaps it is a heart of lead.
- Professional Thief: You lead a secret life, perhaps as a dilettante antiquarian by day and a cat burglar or thief by night. Maybe you are hired for a considerable fee, or you just do it for the thrill. You are educated and cultured, a master of disguise, and this makes you very different from the common footpad of the slums, or so you keep telling yourself.
- Medium: You make a living by organizing seances or other demonstrations for those with an interest in the uncanny. Of course, your seances are merely acted out. Not because you are a powerless charlatan, but because you would never debase your authentic connection to the spirit realm just to satisfy the whims of some overstuffed Mrs. Pumfrey, desperate to make contact with the ghost of dearest Tricky-Woo, her long-deceased Pomeranian. Unless, that is, you really needed the cash.
- Necromancer or Daemonologist: The dark arts, aside from the mere fact that they are expressly illegal to practice, are dangerous in far worse ways. Of course, you reason, there should be no real danger, as long as one takes precautions, right? Perhaps you are an excommunicated Aluminat Priest with an ax to grind against the Church; perhaps you are a Guild Mage whose curiosity has brought you a little too close to the Fallen Ones, their terrible beauty; or else you find yourself seduced by Paline, Lady of Subversion, Goddess of Entropy. In the end it's no matter. You are destined for the Pale.
- Gadgeteer: You are a struggling student, a renowned scientist, or engineer. You are, in a real sense, the hero of the present age. Your ideas have fueled an industrial revolution and the expansion of the British Empire, upon which now the sun never sets. You are also, in a sense, the anti-hero of the present age. Your ideas have fueled urban poverty and the subjugation of the weak, put undreamed of power into the hands of madmen, or perhaps you are a bit mad yourself.
Part 1: The Three Charms of Polly Charms
How do the players come together as a party?
This is the question that will be addressed in part one, a relatively short mini-adventure (3-5 hrs.) whose outcome hinges upon the characters' attendance at a sideshow exhibit.
A hint, clipped from the Daily Intelligencer:
New Interesting Little Scientific Exhibit!—April 23, 1867—We found our curiosity well repaid for having traveled south to visit a little scientific exhibit at the old Gold-Beaters' Arcade in Brighton where we saw the already famous Miss Polly Charms, the young lady who fell into a profound sleep over thirty years ago and has not since awakened. In fact, she slept entirely through the raging cannon-shot of the Siege of Paris. The beautiful tragic Miss Charms has not seemingly aged a day, and in her condition of deep mesmerism she is said to be able to understand questions put to her by means of the principle of animal magnetism, to foretell events personal and public, and to answer all questions put to her without waking up; also for a small sum in addition to the small price of admission, she sings deeply affecting songs in French. Depending on the players' individual visions of their characters (i.e., their goals, their social class, their vocation, etc.), the protagonists of this adventure may each hold different motivations for their setting out... on a gray September morning, by train, or carriage, or perhaps via public sky-rail to the dingy seaside arcades of Brighton.
Of no mean talent as individuals, our intrepid adventurers nevertheless may find need to pool their fortitude as a party--especially if prepared to take an investigative stance toward the condition of the petite figure sleeping in the adult-sized cradle, her pale hair arrayed in two side-drawn tresses, or else pull back the curtains behind the curtains, the delicate hooded lids which guard the secret dreams of Polly Charms.
Part 2: Little Lamb, Who Made Thee?
Unbeknownst to our protagonists, one Lord Elgar Montrose Highgate, a well-esteemed philanthropist and collector of artefacts, was ensconced among the many souls in rapt attendance, and was shocked--as were all--to witness the grotesque denouement to the performance given by Miss Polly Charms and her handlers. Later, when thinking on the tangle of events that unspooled before his eyes that fated evening, Lord Highgate found himself impressed by certain competencies exhibited by our adventurers, also in attendance. Impervious to any memory of the event's trauma, the cries, the confusion, or the wild shouts for the bucket brigade, he has since taken to conjuring a different memory altogether; an old memory, its taste underneath his tongue like a penny gone to rust. "Ah, my dear Anna... I believe we have found those for whom we have long searched...Perhaps you shall be proud of your Papa, yet."
The following morning, even before The Daily Intelligencer had been unfolded from its silver tray, the inevitably garish detailing of Deaths by Fire at the Brighton Arcades! left yet un-ciphered, the Lord Highgate had already summoned his personal assistant, the elderly family gnome, Duncan, and had tasked him with the time-sensitive labor of sleuthing certain unknown identities and their unknown whereabouts, such that invitations may be extended to them on behalf of himself and the Lady Highgate.
"Duncan?" Asks Lord Highgate, before clearing his throat of copper.
"Yes, m' Lord."
"We do understand the importance of their attendance, and the discretion with which it must be assured, do we not?"
"Of course, m' Lord. Assured."
Feeling confident in his servant, his friend, who has never failed him (or his father before him), Lord Elgar Highgate turns to the window behind his great oak desk and exhales. Patches of sunlight are now visible, just barely, climbing the trellised gardens of Eaton Square. He speaks with unmodulated tone, as if under his breath, "The Equinox approaches. You see now that her belly hangs low as a sow's, gravid. Such ripeness will not be delayed.. Go now, Duncan. Prepare the invitations for her honored midwifes."
Arriving by Royal Post approximately three weeks subsequent to the incidents which led to the complete ruination of the Brighton Arcades Theater, a series of red wax-sealed invitations have made their way, one-by-one, to our unsuspecting adventurers' abodes. In impeccable gnomish calligraphy, each one reads:
You are cordially invited to Tea And Séance
The latter conducted by the esteemed Dr. Emil Novotony, Adept of the Guild of Prague
For the pleasure of his Lord and Lady Elgar Montrose Highgate and guests
At Highgate Manor, Eaton Square, Belgravia
Midday through Evening, Saturday, October 26
Your welcome is prepared at the southern entrance