The winter of 1865, and storm clouds gather over Europe. The constant struggle between the great national powers, whether carried out on the field of battle, or in the far colonies, or by espionage and plot, or in the field of scientific endeavour, fills the daily broadsheets. But wiser opinion may suspect that the great, stately dance of powers conceals a sharper interplay. Philosophers have theorized that the great advances in technology, wealth and authority over one's surroundings that the 19th Century have seen have only been possible thanks to this ceaseless conflict – almost as though the world's swords were being sharpened by cutting against each other.
If such fears are true, what manner of management might this shadowplay demand? Who might the puppetmasters be, pulling the strings to set all Europe dancing? It is December 1865, and you have just received an invitation, the acceptance of which might hold the answers to these questions – and which might hold unguessable benefits for you personally, in the shape of gains both material and intangible. But with these gains will doubtless come risks...
Every character in Inferno has as the game starts just received an invitation to join the Inferno Club, a body located in London, meeting annually, about whose antecedents, purposes, membership, hierarchy and administration they know nothing beyond what is contained in the letter. The first turn will consist of this introductory meeting, during which they will get to know a little about the Club, their chosen House, their fellow members, and the privileges and duties of membership. From that point on their futures will be inextricably bound up with those of the Inferno Club and their fellow members: it is a case of once in, never out.
Each year the Club will meet again, on New Year's Eve, and members will be encouraged to report on their doings during the previous years, establish friendly contacts with each other, and where possible cooperate to help extend the Club's influence over wider and yet wider aspects of world governance. Members are not so crude-minded to imagine that it is only the rulers of countries who can exercise such influence. A widely-read novelist might have more power in his pen than the mightiest of generals does in all his armies, when it comes to shaping the popular will. Thus it is that the twelve Houses seek to complement each other and combine their capabilities in a synergistic fashion.
Of course, no gathering of humanity is without its black sheep, and no doubt there will be those members who seek, rather than cooperating with their fellows, to do them down and to profit at their expense. If they are wise they will keep such antisocial practices secret from the rest of the Club, and particularly from House Libra: but a little healthy competition could well be thought to be within the spirit of the organization. Particularly if you don't get caught.
There will, no doubt, also be those who seek to pierce the veils of secrecy that surround the Inferno Club itself, and to penetrate through to learn more of its history and its aims. Such activity may be considered impertinent, and meet with dire punishment from on high. Or it may be considered to be showing initiative, and meet with reward and seniority. Who can say? Attempting to guess the minds of the unknown is always a risky business.
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.
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