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[FitD] Gangs of Old London at LongCon

#1
For LongCon (Website) this year I'll be running a game called Gangs of Old London using Blades in the Dark. If you are interested in playing in the game drop me a line.


The Elevator Pitch is:
A dozen gang members from a modern Tottenham street gang find themselves trapped in Victorian London and decide to make a name for themselves.


When is it set:
After an initial scene set in 2018, we're going to jump to 1888. However, I've taken some liberties with history, moving some events by up to 18 months to ensure its an 'interesting time'. In addition, I've taken a few people, events and factions from popular fiction of the time.


Will there be magic and the arcane?
The opening event which shifts the gang to Victorian London is definitely mystical.

The 19th century is often thought about as the era of secularisation, a period when the disciplines of modern science were founded. Whilst this is true the 1880s were also a period of mystical societies and a magical revival. London became the home of the Theosophical Society and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. It's the era of William Butler Yeats and Aleister Crowley. Mesmerism, spiritualism and ghost stories were popular and most Londoners believed in the supernatural.

Against this backdrop, I feel it would be missing a great opportunity not to have some of this be true. So yes, there will be magic...

Tone:
Whilst I've done a fair bit of historical research, I'm aiming to give the game a definite Guy Ritchie tone. The game is also informed by the works of Arthur Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, and Robert Louis Stevenson. After all 1888 is the year the Picture of Dorian Gray was written, Sherlock Holmes first appeared in print the year before, and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was only written 3 years before.
 
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#2
If you are interested what options will be available to you, initially six crew playbooks will be available to players. These represent the street-gang members transported to Victorian London.:

  1. The Tonk is the muscle of the crew. Both boxer and punching bag: she can absorb force and dish it back out, whether its physical or social pressure. She's around to help with carrying heavy things, getting into fistfights, acting as a bodyguard, or being threatening and menacing. Whatever the obstacle, they can crush it, by word or by deed.
  2. The Mash Man or Mash Woman is the eliminator of the crew. Both detective and assassin, they are experts in infiltration - someone who locates a target, gets close and takes them down. They infiltrate the target quarters ahead of the crew, often in disguise, identify its key areas and hot spots, and inform the crew of what is likely to await them as they go to pull off the job.
  3. The Batcher is the wizard of the crew. Someone who understands the secrets underpinning the physical, electrical and chemical realms, and how to exploit them. She builds all the special stuff you need, can create crystal meth for the unsuspecting Victorian public, generate power using improvised turbines or tear things down vaults with explosives that won't be invented for a hundred years.
  4. The Dragger is the mover of the crew. Both parkour master and driver, she can move quickly, brashly, without a care, climb to inaccessible locations and somehow come out on top. Draggers are also lock and safe-cracking experts
  5. The Wide Boy or Wide Girl is the face of the crew. Both speechmaker and dealmaker, someone who razzles and dazzles with fine words and good looks. She usually does most of the conning and people manipulating. The wide boy or girl is also the guy (or gal) who has the steadiest hands, performing any job that requires pickpocketing, sleight-of-hand stealing of security cards and the like.
  6. The Conductor is the mastermind of the crew. Someone who given a target, hatches a scheme and then puts it into motion. They can think through any situation, foreseeing problems and improvising in the moment.

And there are two additional roles which will open up later. These represent talents which will either need to be recruited from Victorians, or skill sets which will need to be learned from Victorians.:
  1. The Mirage is a master of illusion, the ultimate stage performer, they achieve their effect through a combination of "suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship". Mirages will often be stage magicians, fortune teller, mesmerists or mediums using cold reading and suggestion to present themselves as possessing powers they don't really have.
  2. The Cabalist is a student of the heretical arts. They study the occult, ritual and ceremonial magick. Sexuality plays an important role in the cabalist's arts. Magick carries a very real risk as it involves dealing with extra-planar beings: fae, spirits and demons.
 
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#3
I've updated the post above with links to the draft versions of the playbooks for the Tonk, the Mash Man or Woman and the Batcher. The other playbooks are written up, but not yet laid out. I'll post links as soon as they're done.

If you happen to be reading the playbooks and spot an error please tell me. These are first drafts so I expect there to be error, but unless people tell me I can't fix them.
 
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#6
That's it. I now have a full set of playbooks (all now linked above). All of them are first drafts - I need to get my friendly proofreader (my wife) to look at them and point out my more obvious mistakes.

Keep eyed readers will note that the Mirage is not as described. This mirage has most definitely got power. The mirage is now the representation of the Mesmer/Medium school of magic, based on showmanship and private seances - a little real awareness padded out with a lot of sleight of hand. The cabalist, by contrast, follows the Thelema (Alistair Crowley's belief system) and consorts with real Demons for power.

There are probably lots of issues but I'm really happy to have got all 8 playbooks to this stage.
 
#8
All the characters playbooks have now been past two proof-readers and had lots of issues fixed. I've re-uploaded them as v1.1. One minor concern is that some of the print is quite small. I'm wondering if I should blow these up to A3 for LongCon

I've also started on the Crewbooks. This feels a bit like overkill since only one playbook will be used but creating a set of them gives the players a little choice. In addition, I'm hoping to get two playtests in before LongCon, so it helps to have multiple crewbooks for them:

Whilst the playbook doesn't limit what may occur in the game, it does detail how the gang makes its primary living and gives the GM a good idea what the players would like to see in the game.

The playbooks I'm working on (linked where a draft is available) are:

Assassins - make a living for themselves as hired killers
Bravos - are thugs who deal in extortion
Hawkers - trade illegal vices (drugs, alcohol and gambling).
Smugglers - transport contraband
Shadows - are burglars, thieves and spies.


I've also started on a blank Crew sheet and a Prison claims sheet:

[Blank Crew Sheet]
[Prison Claims Sheet]


Because I don't want to go into LongCon with an un-tested mini-hack, I'll be playtesting 'Gangs of Old London' at Go PLay Leeds on the 6th May. For that playtest I'm only going to offer two crewsheets - the Bravos or Hawkers crew sheets as I believe these are the two most likely to be used at LongCon.