Why I Came to Polythreme

Author: David VC / Labels: , , , ,

I could not bear to have him order me away again. For once, my clothes ceased to pull at me as I dropped to my knees, sobbing.

I told the Clay Priest what I had never told another soul. I told her about what happened to the Comtessa, all those years ago. He stood motionless as I confessed to him. The very air seemed to hush to overhear me.

"I swear! I was trying to free her! I had no idea she would..."

I felt his massive hand wrap around my shoulder.


He lifted me to my feet gently, then slowly lumbered back towards the shrine.

Again, I was tossed about like a scarecrow through deafening streets of Polythreme. I still so distraught that I made no effort to resist my own vestments, and they carried me twice as fast as they had before.

With a running leap not of my own volition I landed prone on the deck of the Caravel. Once my head stopped spinning I sat up I best I could, and stared down at my twitching gloves.

"Yes. You're quite right. I'm done here."

Musings: d20 Fallen London

Author: David VC / Labels:

Some thoughts on running a Fallen London campaign with D&D 3.5 rules.

Why not? It's certainly a "level-up" sort of game.

DEATH: This of course is the BIG BIG change. My suggestion: every time a player dies, he returns 1d20 hours later, but with a negative level as if struck by an Energy Drain attack. When his negative levels equal his class level, he becomes a Tomb Colonist. (Undead, -4 Charisma)


BARD: A good choice for the Bohemian, the journalist, the Anarchist, the Stage Magician...

ROGUE: The eternal and universal class. If you ever hope to visit the Topsy King you better learn to climb.

WARRIOR: Allow trade of Heavy Armor for Firearms Proficiency. Allow trade of Shield skill for a Rogue skill (except for Constables, who probably need riot shields). Also consider the Thug variant. Perhaps a Pit-FIghter specializing in unarmed combat.

MAGE: The average Londoner didn't believe in magic before the Fall. But the fact that the Masters have strict edicts against sorcery is enough proof that it's out there.

Most likely the hobbies of certain Society folk in secret lodges. (What really goes on at the Parthaneum?)

The factions of the Glass and the Veil at Mahagony Hall, certainly. Possibly Prestige Classes.

The Ministry of Public Decency is on the lookout for anything resembling a spellbook. Perhaps a visit to Clathermont's is in order...

Geometers in the Shuttered Palace?

Scholar of the Correspondence would be a Prestige Class.

CLERIC: If the Bishop of Southwark's not a D&D Cleric I don't know what is!

MONK: Yes, we've seen one...

BARBARIAN: Not a local, that's for sure. Perhaps from the Surface or the Elder Country?

DRUID: Even more unlikely. A lonely hermit living in peace with the swamp creatures or passing through Prickfinger Wastes without a trace...

RANGER: A Hunter in the marshes would be the perfect Ranger. Also consider the Urban Ranger Variant for a Constable Detective. How about a job at the Labyrinth?

ARTIFICER: LOTS of potential with this one. WIth the Arcane classes hunted and the Divine spells certainly impeded (they're right next to Hell after all...) this may become the more powerful class. Especially if you're a Rattus Faber or want to build a Zubmarine later...

Familiars/Animal Companions: Most animals talk, don't they?

Homunculi: Perhaps "living clothing" like the Exceptional Hat or Voracious Gloves would count.

Paladin: Who besides the Bishop would want to charge Hell on a holy mount?

PSIONICIST: Are the Rubbery Men related to the Illithids?

Dossier: Dr. Mason

Author: David VC /

Name: Darien James Mason
Age: late 40's
Gender: Male


Height: 5'9"
Weight: 180lbs.
Eyes: Dark Blue
Hair: Brown, characteristic handlebar mustache and tuft on chin.
Face/Complexion: Caucasian
Build: Superbly Fit
Defining Marks:
Dress Style:
Formal: Dresses impeccably in a black suit top hat with white ruffles. Some call it "classic", some call it "hopelessly out of date."

Possessions always on his person: Never seen without his doctor's bag. Especially fond of his radium goggles. Carries a bejeweled cane with him at social events.
Manner of Speech: American accent (Marylander), subdued by decades of life in Fallen London.
Manner of Movement: "quiet, purposeful strides"
Physical Health: Very healthy, occasional bouts of laudanum dependency
IQ: Brilliant
Extrovert/Introvert: Extrovert. Easily prompted to elaborate on his studies.
Mental Health: Very strong-willed, but always slightly off-kilter. Only two recorded stays at the Bethlehem Hotel.
Goals/Dreams: To unlock the secrets of Fallen London and reconcile the differences between the physical laws of the Neath and the Surface. Also an avid pursuer of the Correspondence.
Hobbies/Interests: Avid reader and collector of scientific, medical, and anthropological literature.
Talents: Drawing, writing.
Vices: Has been known to get slightly tipsy at parties.
First Impression: A mustachioed American
Philosophy of Life: "Hatred and Jealousy are bad for your blood pressure."

Occupation: Doctor and Surgeon (that burdensome division between the two professions in English medicine vanished after the Fall)
Education: Privately tutored at the Mason Plantation outside of Baltimore, sent to medical in London. Completed his training after the Fall. Barred from the University after that business with the ______________.
Home: Primary Residence is a three-room flat at the Bazaar. Also has several hideaways/offices in less grandiose sections of Fallen London, including a luxury townhome, a spare room over a gambling den called the Sixes and Sevens, and a cottage near Watchmaker's Hill.
Finance: Unquestionably wealthy. Well connected in the highest social circles. Published various works of fiction and non-fiction. Acknowledged connection to the Brass Embassy through his adopted daughter Ama, a half-devil, who works as an assistant to Mr. Bloodwing, a senior devil at the Embassy.

Marital Status: Single
Sexual Preference: Unknown. Has been spotted visiting houses of ill repute with doctor's bag in hand, ostensibly for "business calls." Further questioning invariably leads to the discussion of his Black Ribbon pin.


Animal: Koen, a black kitten with red socks, tail and ear-tips he rescued from a game of Pass the Cat.
Color: Teal
Drink: First Sporing, Caligula Coffee (Special Blend)
Food: Frequents a kosher delicatessen on Ladybones Road.
Scent: "There's nothing like the smell of a freshly-sanitized operating theatre!"
Thing to Do: Research

Least Favourite:

Animal: Giant Thunder-Bats
Drink: Black Wings Absinthe
Food: Rubbery Lumps
Thing to do: Wild goose chases at Wilmot's End, bailing his brother out of jail, theological husbandry

thought for food

Author: David VC / Labels: , ,


Gabriel stared for a few seconds before he closed his mouth. He shut his eyes, swallowed, and gathered the strength to stare his brother in the face again.

"You just ate..."

Dr. Mason set the platter stacked high with cracked beef ribs aside, and dabbed the edge of his lip with a napkin. It was a stark contrast to the savage hunger he had just exhibited.

"Thank you. I needed that."

Gabriel pulled up a chair, finally daring to sit across from him. He looked behind him for a moment, up through the window where the silhouette of the Bazaar loomed uncomfortably close.

"So do you mean it this time? You've given up on that Well business?"

"Yes, Gabriel. I...I reached the precipice where Science could no longer..." He rubbed some of the grease off his fingers. "In the third cabinet..."

"I already had a look." He grinned as he reached under the table and set the two large brown bottles on the linen. "I always thought you preferred wine, brother. Is this some new venture of yours? Like the acid mints or the spore toffee?"

Darien shook his head. "Open one."

A flick of his ring, and the cap spun onto Darien's pile of bones. Gabriel held the neck of the bottle under his nose. He grimaced, placing it arm's length from him on the table.

"Are you KIDDING me, Darien? That's VILE! I've smelled better things in the Rookery!"

Darien gazed back through eyes reddened from lost days of sleep. "I took a sample of what they used...He wanted me drink it all in one sitting. Drink to oblivion. And that was the least repulsive suggestion."

"And what made you stop?"

"He wanted me to betray you. Or to be more exact...arrange for you to betray me..."

Gabriel leaned back and shook his head, covering his eyes. "What kind of Biblical nonsense...!"

"We promised after we saved Wren..."

"We would never betray each other..."

"Not for the Game. Not for the War we never fought. Not for the devils." He pointed towards the swirling cloud of bats that obscured the lights of the Bazaar. "And especially not for them."

Gabriel looked up, and chuckled as he cracked a weak smile. "And that goes double for Mr. Eaten!"

The brothers jumped from their seats at the sound of the shrieking bats and flapping wings, just on the other side of the window.

Wren ran into the dining room to Gabriel's side. He coddled her as the terrified black-and-red kitten in her arms arched his back and yowled.

"Hear, Hear..." mused Darien as he closed the curtain.

chase to the cut

Author: David VC / Labels: , , ,

"Wake up!"

The iron bars of his cage clattered from a savage kick. He woke with a start, and he smacked his head against the bars of the cage.

The cage was perhaps large enough for a marsh wolf, but the man imprisoned with in was forced to curl up in a ball. The powdery ash of the Forgotten Quarter stung his eyes and left his throat as dry as parchment.

The lantern hanging from a remnant of an equine statue bathed the area in gold. At first he thought it was a woman looming over him, with shoulder-length scarlet hair that matched the tailed jacket. But as his tears drained the dust from his eyes he saw the horns that arced from beneath the locks. Then he beheld the malevolent stripes of black and red that framed the bone-white face in a perpetual scowl....staring straight at him with eyes burning like coals. He began to tremble.

"Mr. Thomas Griffin..." Bloodwing knelt beside the cage, brushing some ash off his boot with a white glove. "You were apprehended trespassing on the grounds of the Brass Embassy, in the act of burglarising several offices...including my own." He rose to his feet again. Thomas recognized the devil's style of dress from old pictures from the surface. Pictures of fox hunters.

"It wasn't my idea! It was Jameson's!" He shouted. "It was the Lord's work, he said!"

The devil shook his head, and grinned very slightly. "A common misconception. In fact...stealing from Hell still counts as a sin..." He slammed the ball handle of his brass cane against the cage. "YOU JUST MADE IT PERSONAL!"

"J-J-Jameson..." Thomas whimpered.

"Oh, your friend?" Bloodwing pointed with his cane to the gentleman behind him. He was likewise dressed for the Hunt, but only his burning eyes could be seen. Had has skin vanished like a ghost? No...a flash of fangs as he licked a streak of ash from his lips. His skin was the same shade as the absolute darkness of the Neath.

"Roger Jameson was ransacking the office of my coworker, Mr. D'Wir'X. He made the astoundingly stupid mistake of fiddling with his favourite telescope..."

A wet smack as D'Wir'X hurled something large against the cage that dropped to the ground. A head caked in ashes stared back silently at Thomas, frozen in a scream. A feathers of a long dart protruded from an eye socket.

The other devil hissed, "Beware of Medicis bearing gifts." Thomas screamed and shook the bars of his tiny prison in desperation.

Bloodwing continued as he drew a key from the inside of his jacket. "I read you're quite the accomplished mushroom-hopper. I so crave a real challenge." A turn of the wrist and a heavy click. "That's why I've waived the manacle requirement." A tap of the cane and the door of the cage swung upen with a long deep groan.

Thomas rolled out of the cage into the ashes. He stumbled a couple times before he rose to his feet. His working-class brown outfit was ruined, and his shoes were missing.

"After we catch you, the contest will be between which of us will rip you open to find your soul first!" He aimed his cane towards the desolation of the ancient boulevard of shattered stones that once was the Fourth City.



Author: David VC / Labels: , ,

The Clay Men are not known for their stealth. But this one barged his way out of the inky mists like a smuggler's steamer racing for the last open dock. A faster, more calculated lumbering than the gait of most of his ilk. He closed in upon the slower one from behind. He carried an axe behind him, his fist gripped the inverted weapon near the head, which was already smeared with fresh clay and grit. He gained speed as he flipped the weapon around and raised it over his head to strike.

Ash spun at the last second, closing in with his fist arcing upwards. The thunder of crashing rock echoed through Wolfstack Docks. Unblinking eyes beheld his attacker, writhing on the cobblestones with a pulverized jaw and a dented skull. He felt the sand in his veins escaping the wound in his shoulder. With the hand that bore the ruby ring of his allegiance he tugged the axe blade free from his earthen flesh.

Was Jack of Clay shrieking incoherent curses at him through half a face as he rose to his feet? He could not hear to tell. But the finger he raised to him told all. You. You are not supposed to fight back. You are not like the others. You are Unfinished.

"I may not be Finished..." Ash mouthed as he loomed over his foe, "...but you are."

The haft shattered to splinters as a steel wedge cracked through Jack's sternum.

The Show Must Go On

Author: David VC / Labels: ,

Dearest Brother,

Well Darien, you've certainly come out on top this time. Why the citizens of the Neath would want to read your mad scribblings is beyond me, but look at you, swimming in Echoes and holed up in the Bazaar with your hooded friends!

No, I'm not going to ask you for another loan. Not that you need me to pay the other ones back now, do you? [Think again, brother.] Seriously, I've got a new job now. I'm the new Stage Engineer at Mahagony Hall! Imagine, that degree came in handy after all!

I've been busier than a deck of zailors tripping over a broken crate of glass eyes lately. Mondays is light entertainment...my play The Inconvenient Aunt is going over quite well! Remember that joke about the spirifer's fork in the orderbs? [Hors' douvres? Good Lord! your spelling is still as atrocious as ever!] It's brings the house down! Not a real spirifer's fork, of course. And a mouthful of radium-infused spagetti... [Radium WHAT? That sounds more dangerous than a real spirifing! I better check for glowing fingerprints on this letter!]

I work behind the scenes on Wednesdays preparing the stage for the Clay Man Group. [What madness is this?] I have to reinforce the floor for their clowinsh antics or they would fall right through the stage. [I have my contacts. He's weakening the floor, not strengthening it. The bowing planks under the clay-smeared human actors make them seem heavier than they truly are.]

Fridays, the place is packed. Mademoiselle Jennette was booed off stage last month. I could tell the moment she plodded on stage that the stupid cow sold her soul! That pale devil patron of yours was cackling from the balcony! We now have the lovely Miss Scarlet as Friday's headliner. She sings that song...oh that song...Fallen London!

Encore after encore! To watch from the behind the stage...the crowd all singing along with glassy eyes as if they're searching their own souls or the hollow pits that used to hold them!
[Alright, now I'm jealous. Can you get me tickets? I'll write off one of the loans..?]

Saturday's? That's the true test of my engineering skills. Oh I'd love to show you my blueprints, but I'm bound by contract not to reveal their secrets. I hope you understand.

Sunday, the Kashmiri XXXXXXXXXXX Princess! [Hiding something, Gabriel?] So enchanting! Especially when you're that close to the frankincense.

Best part of working for the Hall? The cast parties. Sorry I can't invite you.

[Sorry I can't invite you to meet Mr. Chimes, you pompous buffoon!]

Sincerely Yours,

M. Gabriel Mason

P.S. Wren lost another gas canister, please send another? Better yet, can we come pick one up?

[You lost your lease at bookstore, didn't you?]