Tabletop Game: Unhallowed Metropolis
A rather bleak Tabletop Roleplaying Game
set in a dystopian future, Unhallowed Metropolis
presents a world where history departed from ours in a rather dramatic fashion
. In December of 1905, human civilisation almost ended
. Across the world, the dead began to rise
and feast upon the flesh of the living
. A years-long war followed, in which survivors desperately fought at first for mere survival, and later to reclaim the zombie-infested cities. Eventually, the more powerful nations of the time managed to return to something resembling a stable society, with large numbers of humans crammed into fortified cities while Animates (the 'scientific' term for zombies) prowled the Blighted countryside.
Skip forward two centuries to the year 2105 and things aren't much better. The game focuses primarily on what's going on in London, and portrays an exceptionally grim
view of life in a post-apocalyptic metropolis. The Plague
which gave rise to the animate hordes has mutated, producing various undead monstrosities. Bloodthirsty vampires
and human psychopaths
have come crawling out of the woodwork to prey upon the faceless masses. Many of mankind's attempts to fight or harness the Plague have backfired spectacularly, though they have also resulted in some unexpected and rather awesome
advances in the fields of medicine, alchemy and galvanics
This role-playing game provides examples of:
- Abnormal Ammo: Stake guns, syringe guns, alchemical rounds....
- After the End
- Alternate History
- Amazon Brigade: Mourners. Their Weapon of Choice? The kukri. Two of them if possible. And they get the best combat corsets.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: To various degrees.
- Badass Army: The Deathwatch.
- Badass Longcoat
- Blessed with Suck: Being a dhampir comes with a number of nice bonuses... and a few really terrible downsides.
- Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: By now, socialism and the labour movement are dead letters in politics, but there are still plenty of disenfranchised people who want to bring down the system.
- Brain in a Jar: A requirement for certain forms of reanimation
- Came Back Wrong: An inviolable rule of the setting. Anyone who comes back from the dead is, at best, no longer truly the person they were in life... and is more often a savage, ravening beast.
- Chainmail Bikini: Combat corsets. More practical than they sound — Corsets actually cover a decent portion of the vitals, and they mesh better with ordinary clothing, such as the mourning that serves as a uniform for the Mourners, than standard armor.
- City Noir: The Metropolis.
- Coat, Hat, Mask: The Deathwatch have bowlers, gas masks and trenchcoats as their standard uniform.
- Combat Sadomasochist: The local flavor of vampires.
- The Corruption: Every Player Character starts with a touch of it — because people who don't have at least a touch of it invariably die, becoming the victim of supernormal or mundane horrors.
- Crapsack World: Really, just saying it's a Crapsack World doesn't do it justice. There's been 200 years of zombies, 196 years of restless ghosts, 177 years of flesh-eating ghouls, 161 years of Thropes, and 152 years of vampires. Entire countries and regions no longer exist in any meaningful sense of the word. Bizarre blighted wastelands are expanding throughout the world. The dominant power of the world is a new Victorian Britain with its social inequities and depravities turned up to 11. France is ruled by a mysterious king who is almost certainly not human, and what little information on its state escapes its borders suggests that terms like "unholy" and "unnatural" barely suffice to describe what's going on there. The air in London is so foul that going out without a gas mask or at least a damp cloth can lead to unconsciousness and death. Anarchists plague London, failing to realize that although there are very real social ills, dealing with them by dismantling the government entirely will just end up killing everyone still living in the UK. On top of all this, it's hinted that the Zombie Apocalypse is actually the least of the world's problems — that the world has become wrong on some deep, fundamental level, and the rise of the undead is just the most obvious symptom. And the heroes? The only people who can make a difference, make things better? They're suffering from physical, mental, or moral corruption — as is anyone who isn't is doomed to inevitable death — and they're likely to just get worse as they fight for humanity's future. This is not a nice setting. If this sounds a bit much, you may want to head for something happier and more optimistic, like Warhammer 40,000 or the New World of Darkness.
- Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain: Acid rain, most likely.
- Dhampyr: A Player Character option.
- And they're Different. In addition to offspring of vampires, Dhampiri also include people who survive vampiric infection without proper medical care — only someone who's dead can be a vampire, but unless you receive a complete blood transfusion within a week of infection, you can't just shake it off and return to normal, either.
- The Edwardian Era: Aborted by a Zombie Apocalypse, which threw society back fifty years and froze it there. Now seen as something of a heroic age.
- Fire-Breathing Weapon: Flamethrowers are present.
- Fog of Doom: The smog of London is nasty, nasty stuff.
- For Science!: The motivation that led to, among other things, creating Mercurial Animates.
- Gas Mask, Longcoat: See Coat, Hat, Mask above.
- Gas Mask Mooks: Almost everyone wears a gas mask due to the smog.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: All attempts at curing The Plague, Creating Life or attaining immortality have done this.
- Gone Horribly Right: Dr. Merrifield's Pandemonious Timidifier was intended to harmlessly incapacitate rioters with paralyzing fear. Side effects include seizures, permanent brain damage and heart failure.
- Grey and Gray Morality: At best.
- The Grotesque: Common enough, in various flavors.
- The Hunter: Undertakers hunt supernatural creatures for fun and profit.
- Hunter of His Own Kind: Dhamphiri, due to their Undead Sense, are notoriously good at this.
- I Hate You, Vampire Dad: All dhamphiri rather dislike vampires in general.
- Lightning Can Do Anything: The basis of the science of Galvanics.
- Lightning Gun: Literal examples.
- Mad Scientist
- Not That Kind of Doctor: Averted, every Player Character Doctor is at least that kind of doctor.
- Not Using the Z Word: Partially, anyway. Most people use the Z-word, but the technical term is "animate".
- Played straighter with werewolves, who are universally called "thropes".
- Oddly, the actual depictions and descriptions of Thropes in the core materials describes them less as Werewolves and more as Mr. Hyde(s)
- On a related note, the material for the game avoids the terms "supernatural" or "paranormal", instead favoring archaic or disused terms like "preternatural", "supernormal", and "extramundane."
- Of Corset Hurts: Sometimes consciously averted; corsets are now designed to be something you can move and breathe in, and aren't tightened to impossible degrees, because you never know when you might have to fight for your life. While there are people who wear overlaced and inflexible corsets, they're not mandatory anymore.
- Of Corsets Sexy: Naturally, considering the setting.
- Our Ghouls Are Creepier: While technically undeadnote and deformed, the strain of the Plague they're infected with leaves them with some of their humanity; those who can curb their violent impulses are more or less tolerated. And by tolerated we mean being treated as an inferior minority to be exploited at leisure as long as they don't get uppity.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Vampirism can be passed as an STD. Just for a start.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: 'Thropes' are created by a Jekyll & Hyde-style serum that turns them into hulking, feral beasts. They're also half-lifers, a setting-specific form of undead — the setting uses the term "undead" strictly for things that are actually dead but still animate, such as vampires and animates, while half-lifers are things that aren't actually dead, but are no longer fully living in the conventional sense. Ghouls and dhampiri are also half-lifers.
- Our Zombies Are Different: Between animates, zombie lords, Mercurials, the witch-doctor-controlled zombies rumored to exist in Central Africa and the bizarre rule-breaking animates of Hong Kong, nearly every major type is represented in some form.
- Revolvers/Improperly Placed Firearms: One revolver shown in the "Sanctuary" introductory adventure is clearly a cap and ball LeMat Revolver. The Metropolis (While backward in many respects) has probably gotten rid of cap and ball by now. In their defense, LeMat revolvers do look cool. And more steampunk than your average revolver.
- Romantic Vampire Boy: Dhampiri are stereotyped this way.
- This Is a Work of Fiction: "THIS IS JUST A GAME. Keep in mind that if you play with THINGS MAN WAS NOT MEANT TO KNOW, the authors claim no responsibility, including, but not limited to breaking any law, tenet or tradition, temporal or divine, implied or in print. Galvanic reanimation may work in the movies, but in practice... It's really tough."
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Anyone who isn't at least a bit tainted will come to a bad end, likely sooner rather than later.
- Victorian London: The Metropolis
- The Virus: The Plague, in many different variants.
- Zombie Apocalypse