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Old 01-05-2014, 11:18 PM   #1
Icelander
 
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Default Monster Hunters by Gaslight - Whitechapel, London, Hell?

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This post has been edited, due to the campaign having picked up again six months later, when I once more had free time. By all means, contribute ideas, commentary or thoughts.

This summer, I started a new campaign of Victorian Monster Hunter (-esque) characters, with no preparation or background.

The year is 1888, end of November or start of December, thereabouts. Edit: I have determined since my original post that the start of play was around 3 o'clock, Friday the 2nd of November 1888.

What rapidly emerged from our improvisations was that the PCs were all at the wake of a Dr. Stanley, whom they all suspected for varying reasons of being involved in the recent 'Leather Apron' slayings, when things started going wrong.

Dead things turned out to be much more mobile than advertised, Dr. Stanley made a posthumous apperance, someone left a manuscript about the Great God Pan around, spatial dimensions played hooky and misty graveyards and deep woods replaced wine cellars or mundane hallways, shaggy goat-like creatures conducted loathsome omnisexual cannibalistic orgies and so forth.

Spring-Heeled Jack turned up for a romp, the maid cut off her own head only for it to be replaced with a rhino head trophy, leering demonic gargoyles came out of mirrors and spoke about the theatre in fluent Cockney, there were 8'-9' tall minotaurs who bellowed and charged and then there were guys with the heads of asses and chimps in suits eating humans arms like drumsticks. More stuff happened in session 2, see teaser.

Clearly, someone opened a path somewhere. Something unpleasant is here. Or Here may be somewhere unpleasant.

Assuming that I have an idea about the whys and wherefores, I'm looking for suggestions about more horrific things to emerge out of the fog in the East End.

See this post for the current status of the section of the East End where the PCs are. Here is a capsule description of the concepts behind three of the four PCs. The fourth PC was introduced in session three, as per here. Fourth session actually got a short recap.

The PCs consist of:

Col. H. E. Wilkinson: A military man, explorer, linguist, ethnographer, old India hand and Great White Hunter.
Father Brendan MacManus: A boozy and burly Irish-Catholic immigrant priest who ministers to the wretched in Whitechapel, with rare understanding for human foibles, as he himself used to be a pugilist and borderline-criminal in his youth.
Reginald St. John Woodsworth III (Reggie Woodsworth): An upper-class dilettante with impeccable lineage who belongs to a fast set with some strange and occult interests. Fancies himself a Great Detective and actually does have eclectic tastes and a very wide range of knowledge esoteric and otherwise, but the thing he was truly born for is the card table, with fortunes riding on every card.
George 'the Teapot' Frankton: A Whitechapel criminal and leader of a gang of swell mobsmen and East End hard men (see post about the Swell Coves), Mr. Frankton has overcome considerable prejudice against hairless albinoes to reach his current respected status as a neighbourhood fixture and community leader among the less fortunate. An English patriot (with an inclusive and multicultural definition of 'English', as his fellow Swell Coves include East European Jews and Irish Catholics) with a chivalrous streak, who always doffs his hat when faced with a portrait of the Queen. Perfectly reasonable and polite if possible, terrifyingly violent if he feels it warranted.

In this post, I set forth what weapons the PCs have managed to obtain so far. There is also a thread about the gun cabinet owned by one of the PCs, a Col. H. E. Wilkinson, which he hopes to get to in the next session, before a climactic fight. This thread talks more broadly about improvising weapons and armour in the East End, for the PCs, for other survivors and for villainous criminals, of course, with special emphasis on what the PCs can add to their current arms and armour in the ca five hour window of opportunity they have until they plan to assault the lair of the villains and rescue some 60+ fair maidens (well, Whitechapel whores for the most part, but who's quibbling?).

Here's a post about the state of the defences the PCs have left in place for the survivors and the location of police stations. There are also posts about Reggie Woodsworth secret occult hideaway/bachelor pad.

Recent events and queries I am most interested in having answered in this thread for my current gaming needs may be found here. I'm also looking for information about criminals and pirates, as per this post. Briefly, I'm looking for more rumours, cool threats to find and local colour.

Pending question 1: Is there any place on the way from Aldgate High Street to the Tower of London that has any vegetation at all, even weeds? I expect that the Tower Gardens qualify, but is there anything else?

Pending question 2: Would pigs be kept at any locations in Goodman's Fields, near Fenchurch Street or Aldgate?

Pending question 3: Where in my campaign area would most pigeons gather?

Pending question 4: The villains in the campaign are trying to take the Tower of London with an army composed of various criminal gangs, ethnic gangs and imported foreigners. Any suggestions for real criminal figures or leaders from the period to be part of it?

Pending question 5: In the East End, there may be found passionate Socialists, Anarchists, Communists and other -ists that may be prepared to take arms against a symbol of the royal opressors, the Tower of London. Does anyone have suggestions for characters or organisations that would be particularly appropriate? Are any famous potentially violent revolutionaries living in the East End in 1888?

Pending question 6: What about Fenians? Would it be inappropriate to have six Fenians who are veterans of armed struggle against British imperialism organising, training and arming Irish workers from the East End? Any suggestions for characters, in particular real historical figures?

More recaps: With luck and assuming unusual diligence for yours truly, I may over the holidays recap session five and six, already finished, not to mention any future sessions. Hightlights for session 8.
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Last edited by Icelander; 01-17-2015 at 12:29 PM. Reason: Updated to current events
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Old 01-05-2014, 11:49 PM   #2
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Default Re: Monster Hunters by Gaslight - Whitechapel, London, Hell?

"Pagan" themes were big in Victorian horror, with Briton, Gaulic, and Anglo-Saxon beliefs all being thrown into the pot. Arthur Machen's cannibalistic, underground Little People, descended from pre-Saxon Britons (discussed in GURPS Horror p. 83), Druidic human sacrifice, and the Wild Hunt all make for great imagery. Herne might show up as either an ancient god or the ghost of a royal hunter or poacher.
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Old 01-05-2014, 11:51 PM   #3
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Default Re: Monster Hunters by Gaslight - Whitechapel, London, Hell?

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"Pagan" themes were big in Victorian horror, with Briton, Gaulic, and Anglo-Saxon beliefs all being thrown into the pot. Arthur Machen's cannibalistic, underground Little People, descended from pre-Saxon Britons (discussed in GURPS Horror p. 83), Druidic human sacrifice, and the Wild Hunt all make for great imagery. Herne might show up as either an ancient god or the ghost of a royal hunter or poacher.
Indeed, pagan themes have been much in evidence and, players away, Arthur Machen is indeed the character who left that handwritten manuscript about the Great God Pan lying around in the Bad Place town house.

I will certainly keep the others in mind.
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Old 01-06-2014, 12:09 AM   #4
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Default Re: Monster Hunters by Gaslight - Whitechapel, London, Hell?

There are a wide variety of Black Dogs; perhaps the one associated with Newgate prison?
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Old 01-06-2014, 12:11 AM   #5
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Default Re: Monster Hunters by Gaslight - Whitechapel, London, Hell?

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There are a wide variety of Black Dogs; perhaps the one associated with Newgate prison?
Ah.

Unfortunately, the above list of shenanigans was not comprehensive, as there has already been a black dog/dire wolf/hyena/Barghest creature that stalked the characters, apparently at the bidding of its dark masters. There was also a pack of rotting mongrel mutts with jackal heads.
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Old 01-06-2014, 12:36 AM   #6
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Default Re: Monster Hunters by Gaslight - Whitechapel, London, Hell?

There's always Dracula; while the book won't come out for another 9 years, the events it portrayed were supposed to be in the past.
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Old 01-06-2014, 12:49 AM   #7
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Default Re: Monster Hunters by Gaslight - Whitechapel, London, Hell?

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There's always Dracula; while the book won't come out for another 9 years, the events it portrayed were supposed to be in the past.
Varney the Vampire was written (about) before 1888. There's also the Swiss Doctor and his monstrous creation.

And if I was GMing that campaign, I might throw in a certain consulting detective...
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Old 01-06-2014, 12:56 AM   #8
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Default Re: Monster Hunters by Gaslight - Whitechapel, London, Hell?

Really, GURPS Horror is invaluable, as I'm sure you're well aware. Victorians feared sex, madness, and ancient things that their shiny new world could neither understand or defeat. Mixing as many of these as possible makes it even better. Underlying all of this is the concept of taint, in the sense of evil that's imprinted deep into the flesh. Sexy vampires were just as popular in Victorian London as today, albeit in a more icky form.

One place that Victorians generally didn't look for scare is in modernity and technology. We recognize Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll as early mad scientists, but Victorians were much more worried about the past then the future. So including steampunk killer robots or the like introduces a very different feel, which may or may not be good.
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Old 01-06-2014, 12:56 AM   #9
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Default Re: Monster Hunters by Gaslight - Whitechapel, London, Hell?

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And if I was GMing that campaign, I might throw in a certain consulting detective...
I would tend to be inspired by A Night in the Lonesome October. Though people with too much time on their hands have determined that the actual year was 1887.
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Old 01-06-2014, 01:09 AM   #10
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Default Re: Monster Hunters by Gaslight - Whitechapel, London, Hell?

Spice things up (pun very much intentional) with some exoticism. Mummies and Egyptian sorcerers, golems and Hebrew magicians, Chinese wizards and horrors.
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