INFERNO - The Greatest Story Never Told

Inferno is the newest game from Undying King Games, the people who breathe new life into postal gaming. It's a radical and innovative design combining the best features of role-playing and competitive power-gaming, in which you play a member of a secret club dedicated to manipulating and controlling the world. Read on to find out more!

======== LORD HARTLEY JARVIS SLAIN The only son of the Duke of Jarvis was murdered by an unknown assailant in June of this year. Persistent rumours that his death was the result of an affair of honour involving his sister, the Honourable Clarissa Jarvis, have been denied by the Duke's spokesman. The disappearance of Mersuavin Powers, recent heir to the title of Lord Crail, to Paris is thought to be coincidental. ========

Inferno is set in an alternate Victorian Age, with a 'steampunk' flavour. Much is as we might expect from our own history - Britannia ruling the waves, the great nations of Europe drawing wealth from their colonies, the United States of America beginning to make its presence felt as an industrial power - but much is different. For one thing, there is no electricity - the industrial revolution here has been entirely steam-powered. Today's inventors depend heavily on clockwork for their precision mechanisms, and on steam for their motive power. But achievements are possible with these rather limited power sources that may be less than strictly practical in our world. Think of the novels of H G Wells and Jules Verne, and let your imagination lead you onwards. Then think of The Difference Engine, The Prisoner of Zenda, The Man Who Would Be King, and the Illuminatus! trilogy...

======== RUSSIANS, PRUSSIANS CLASH The town of Kernow on the Prussian-Russian border was the scene of a bloody skirmish this year when Brigadier Kropotnik clashed with local Prussian militia. Order was with difficulty restored only after the belligerent Brigadier had been felled by a lucky musket shot between the eyes. The increasing bloodthirstiness of the Russian people must be a source of great worry to their Prussian neighbours, especially given the instability of the current Tsar. Given his threatening behaviour towards France too in recent years, can he be mad enough to believe that he can take on the whole of Europe with the might of his armies? ========

We identify three significant political units in the northern half of Italy: Grand Duchy of Florence Ruled by the Medici Grand Dukes since the Middle Ages, this is the wealthiest principate in Italy. It is also the nation's banking centre. The Medici, traditionally linked to our rivals in House Aquarius, are hugely decadent and corrupt, and there is a great deal of popular discontent against their rule. Venetian Republic Venice is primarily a trading power, although they have some naval strength in the Adriatic. The Council's rule is relatively benign and enlightened. Grand Duchy of Milan This is a buffer state based on the historical Grand Duchy of Milan, extended westwards to keep the French out. The Grand Duchess Adriana Sforza is an inveterate political gambler and is keen to recover the French holdings for which she hankers. [taken from a House Gemini political report]

======== HUMAN-POWERED FLIGHT Dr Peter Tavener, the prominent Oxford scientist, has developed a human-powered device capable of flight. Based on the motive principle of the bicycle, the apparatus allows a single aviator to achieve height of several feet and speeds comparable to that of a cantering horse. ========


One of the most important things about the Inferno world is, of course, the technical innovations and inventions that are changing the face of society, and making everyone's life better. But what can and cannot be done? The essence of steampunk science is that Big is Best. None of your micro-technology here - the paying public like to see what they are getting for their guineas and florins. Creations must look impressive, as well as being magnificent. If this means that they must have vast spinning flywheels, thousands of brass knobs and pipes, thundering pistons and choking clouds of steam and coal smoke, then so much the better. Tiny, subtle, inventions just don't get a look in. Even the scientists of House Taurus - taken from the world's greatest creators of gadgets - know the value of size in an invention: an adding machine may well be included into a wrist time-piece, but note also the interconnected boxes of workings hanging from the belt, the convenient power source in the inside pocket of the gentleman's jacket, and the steam pouring from his trouser-legs.

======== PRESS BARON EUGENE SUE SLAIN The French-Bavarian press baron and industrialist Eugene Sue was found dead last Friday near the docksides of Marseilles. Mr. Sue was apparently kidnapped and bludgeoned to death with a piece of lead piping. It is not clear how his press empire, including the mighty Suddeutsche Zeitung and most Hungarian industry, will react.========

House Cancer (Conjurers)

The Magickal College that became House Cancer specializes in the magick of conjuration. Cancerian magicians are capable of drawing vast amounts of energy from beyond the veil and shaping it into almost inconceivably destructive shapes. Considered unsubtle by other mages, and somewhat shown up by House Scorpio's recent successes in cementing its power in Europe, no-one can deny that the raw power is at Cancer's disposal - what use they will put it to remains to be seen.

======== BRITISH DETECTIVE SOLVES THE CASE OF THE TEMPESTUOUS PARROT The famed British private investigator Meridian Macey-Dare yesterday announced the completion of her toughest case to date. Scotland Yard police officers were said to be 'baffled' as to how Miss Macey-Dare was able to piece together intricate clues that led to the arrest of Archibald Snee for the abduction of Lady Wimona Williks. Lady Wimona - freed from two weeks of captivity - said she was 'profoundly and deeply grateful' for the skill and daring of Miss Macey-Dare, who also rescued Lady Wimona from Snee's hide-out. ========

House Virgo (Technocrats)

Dedicated to creating a better world by bringing scientific application to bear on the masses and improving the quality of life thereby, House Virgo has a well-developed hierarchy headed by Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace, pioneers in the field of Analytical Engineering. They are known to have a certain amount of political and financial backing, and as the most worldly of the scientific Houses are the most likely to find a foot in the door of the European political scene.

======== PRE-RAPHAELITE BROTHERHOOD THROWS PARTY IN PARIS The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood - artistic and cultural movement - has been spreading its influence into France. The party was attended by many of the prime movers in the Bohemian society of the Left Bank, and was declared a great success by its hosts. ========

III. Elections

Elections will be held every five years within this Cell to establish individual positions of authority. The number of votes given to each Member will be dependant on prestige based on calculations made by the House Libran analytical computation engine, using data from international newspapers, the international stock exchange, parliamentary voting patterns, telegraph wire communications, international banking credit ratings, military dispatches, etheric resonance patterns, academic publications, patents pending, and social ruminations. A positive vote of no confidence in a member with a position of authority will result in elections being called for that position. [from the Charter of the Inferno Club]

======== CLOCKWORK SEAPORT Great Britain's spanking new seaport opened for business this December. Designed by noted technologist Professor Hugo Victor and powered entirely by clockwork, Victoriaport, located near Plymouth and readily accessible by rail, will allow Britain's merchant traders unrivalled deep-sea access. Eat your heart out Johnny foreigner! ========


Competence, manual dexterity, natural athletic ability. A high Dexter will allow you to react swiftly and decisively in situations where quick thinking and reactions are required. Scientists may find a high Dexter useful for operating their devices in tense situations and effecting emergency repairs, so Dextrous individuals are as advantaged in House Taurus as they would be in House Aries.

======== THE WORLD OF LETTERS Alfred Tennyson has been granted a life peerage for his services to poetic endeavour. The playwright Henrik Ibsen is gaining success throughout Europe for his modernization of the dramatic form, and Sarah Bernhardt's new Parisian theatre is proving most popular. Charles Dickens is also said to be 'fit as a fiddle' after the fitting of his steam pacemaker. ========


Creativity. The prime stat for scientists, Uptake represents inventiveness and the speed with which you find solutions to problems - a high Uptake allows the successful realization of several projects in one year. Again this stat is generally useful to all characters, as it entails swiftness of planning, and as such the reliability with which you can get away with multiple or convoluted actions on your turnsheets.

======== METEOR SHOWER HITS AMERICA Reports have reached us of a freak meteor shower in America: sizeable meteorites were seen to crash to earth over a period of several days, across the nation. ========


Manipulation, charm and the ability to appear honest. Ability to inspire Trust is one of the chief weapons in the armoury of any politician, or indeed of anyone who wishes to interact significantly with NPCs or win the loyalty and friendship of others. Those with a low Trust score may be earn the animosity of normal God-fearing folk and be hounded out of their castle retreats by armies of torch-wielding peasants.

======== CIRCUSES BUT NO BREAD FOR RUSSIANS Proof of the growing decadence of the Russian Empire, if any were needed, is to be found in the legalisation of real gladiatorial combats as entertainment for the population. Will the Tsar fiddle as his nation burns? ========

Countess Irena Korseva (House Scorpio)

This young woman, whose real name is only known to us as 'Eva', has gained admission to Bavarian Court circles through her assumption of the guise of the Countess - the real Countess is a bedridden invalid. She has of course used her powers of enchantment to achieve this end. We believe that she has designs on the person of King Ludwig, or failing that on his idiot brother Otto. We suspect her of having strong links with Miklos 'Mad Dog' Toldi, leader of the Hungarian nationalists, who is a fellow Scorpian. If she achieves her ends this House will gain effective control over the key pivotal nation in central Europe. Members of House Libra are urged to keep a close eye on 'Countess Irena' lest she become a destabilizing influence within the Inferno Club through gaining excessive influence for her House. [taken from a House Libra briefing document]

======== DR SCHRECK DIES IN FREAK METEOR SHOWER Renowned scientist Dr Schreck perished earlier this year in a freak meteor shower which utterly destroyed his laboratory complex. Readers will recall the good doctor coming to prominence when he rather wildly announced to the Prussian Congress of Deputies that the world was to end in sixteen years. 'His death may be seen as a merciful release,' one colleague who wished to remain anonymous commented. ========


Inferno is a game for 60 players, and it runs to fortnightly deadlines. Each turn, which lasts a year of game time, you have to decide one major and three minor actions for your character to attempt: these actions must be expressible as a simple order, such as 'conquer the Ottoman Empire', 'seduce Prince Albert', 'invent the velocipede', 'foment rebellion in Florence', 'launch new newspaper', 'crash Rothschild's Bank', 'develop spell to protect from psychic attack', 'investigate House Aquarius'. You can add as much extra detail in the form of plans, resources you want to use, role-playing extras and so on as you wish, and these will be factored into the overall assessment of the level of success you achieve - together, of course, with the effects of other characters who may be trying to help or hinder you.

You can play a figure from history - such as Prince Albert, General Helmut von Moltke, model Elizabeth Siddal, impresario Herbert Beerbohm Tree - or a character from fiction, such as dilettante Gideon Stargrave, explorer Professor Challenger, mad scientist Dr Moreau - or a character you invent yourself to fit into the Inferno setting in precisely the way you desire.

Some will be playing Inferno for the enjoyment of creating and playing a character, and interacting with the world and with the other PCs, but others will be playing to win, and for them we have victory criteria. Each turn, all the characters will be ranked according to their power and influence in the world at large, their rank within the Inferno Club, the panache they have displayed, their credibility in the eyes of the other PCs, and, most elusively of all, their Victory Points - a calculated measure based upon combinations of the other ratings and also on their character's interaction with the Grand Plot - for the game will not last forever. Vast, mysterious events are afoot which will change the shape of the world, and the members of the Inferno Club, as the world's secret masters, will ignore them at their peril.

Each turn you will get a textual report on your own actions, plus a report of the Club's annual meeting and the events thereat, including any information other PCs have chosen to pass on to you. Furthermore you will receive a summary of the year's top stories in the Times newspaper, that great organ of knowledge, some examples of which are scattered throughout this document: these will often serve to alert you to the doings of your fellow-members.

The game will last around 25 - 30 fortnightly turns, so about a year's gaming. It holds 60 players only, so if you're keen to play you should sign up fairly swiftly: we don't plan to take on any more players once it's started. The startup pack, including rules, background and your first 3 turns, costs 10.00 - further turns after that are just 3.00 each for what will quite frankly be pages and pages of stuff - which some players will spend hours poring through and assimilating, others will skim for the most entertaining and relevant passages. It's up to you.


To play in Inferno, just send GBP 10.00 to cover your setup and first three turns. Further turns are GBP 3.00 each. Please make cheques payable to Undying King Games. You will receive a copy of the rules, huge wodges of background material, and advice on how to create a character.

Like all our games, Inferno can be played by post or by email, as you find convenient.

Undying King Games, 57 London Road, IPSWICH, IP1 2HF, United Kingdom

Mail us!