Welcome, son, to UnderLondon.
Above us is the greatest city on earth, me boy, make no mistake. Some of us have been here since it was just a tiny Roman settlement, Londinium by name. They say that the old druids who sacrificed war criminals to the sun - in the very neighborhood still called Ludsgate, after Lud, their old hoary sun god - weren't happy to be ousted at the end of a gladius, and so they lay a curse on the place.
The Romans seized this cushy spot by the River Thames, looking for a place of safety and comfort, and those old druids were determined to not give it to 'em. So, they cursed it, saying that as long as the stones of Roman craftwork stood one upon the other, London would attract all manner of monsters, and so it has. That means you, son. You and me.
UnderLondon is huge. Some parts are simply old caverns that have never seen the light of day. Others are ancient stonework of the Briton tribes and the Romans, and everyone who came after them, long buried. Still others are sewers, flood tunnels and other things that are the wonders of modern man, who has such a short memory that he builds something and then forgets its there in two small generations, leaving it to us.
This is a home for monsters, me boy, and so you'd best mind your manners while here. The Keepers of the Stones rules here, and no doubt. They're called that because each of them is a guardian of some piece of important Roman stonework. They take the curse of the druids very seriously, and intend to do their best to make sure that London is always a home to our kind.
Some monsters never leave this place, you know, remaining down here and away from the terrors that London Above - or The Smoke, as some of the old ones call it - holds for us. Others of us walk its cobblestone streets, careful to blend in. Whatever you do, don't attract the attention of the poor, pink squealing peoples that live in the Smoke. The Keepers don't like that, and what the Keepers don't like usually ends up as a bloody smear along some back cavern down here.
- The Keepers of Stones, the Hidden Masters of UnderLondon, and the Wardens of the Curse.
- Mad Maudlin, called the Queen of the Bedlam Boys, who eternally seeks Tom O'Bedlam.
- The Mummers, a small band of masqued actors who tell deeply inappropriate stories of lust, betrayal and murder...days or even just hours before those stories play themselves out.
Locations in UnderLondon
The Keepers each control one of the Wards of UnderLondon, save only the Keeper of the Wall, who claims as its demesne the dark, lonely tunnels of UnderLondon, which are the first bastion of defense the Hypogeans have against those who know of them and would see them destroyed.
- The Crossroads: The very center of UnderLondon, in function if not necessarily in location, the Crossroads is where most monsters find their way to first - there is something about it that calls the newcomers to it. A ramshackle place of half-fallen buildings of cast-off materials, tent bazaars, gin houses, taverns and places intended to serve those who have no lair of their own yet, everyone in UnderLondon comes here eventually - for some reason. At the center of the Crossroads stands the Great Arch, of Roman origin, domain of the Keeper of the Arch.
- The Gallerium: Province of the wealthy and socially elite among the horrors of UnderLondon, the mummery that goes on here is a faithful mockery of that found in London Above. Balls and artistic salons are the order of the day, and those who do not measure up to the aesthetics of the Gallerium find themselves the laughingstock of the day, at best. Eaten, at worst. Towering over the large cavern is the Gallerium proper, the vast glass palace of the Keeper of the Glass, in which is preserved the Black Mosaic, of Roman origin.
- The Hermitage: A vast, wild cavern in which vine-like lichens grow in vast profusion and a mist hangs low all the time, the Hermitage surrounds a fallen temple of Roman design: the Fanum, ruled over by the Keeper of the Fanum. Its original purpose is now hidden beneath centuries of vine-lichen growth, which twine about its pillars, heavy with bunches of grape-like spore-cluters, heavy with hallucinogenic poisons. The periphery of this wild glade is honeycombed with small caverns, which many of the Hypogeans with a mind to spiritual (or just ecstatic) lives dwell, in mockery of monastic reverence.
- The Infernum: The deepest portion of UnderLondon, the Infernum streets are intersected with grillework that constantly spews a sulphur-smelling hypocaustic miasma into the air. The people here are hard workers, who venture into the other regions of UnderLondon to tend their manual labors, and return to the relaxing steams of the Infernum. It is said that those who dwell here and then try to live away from its mists eventually enter murderous rampages. The lowest portion of the Infernum hosts the Brimstone, the simple stone keep which protects the Calderium, demesne of the Keeper of the Calderium and his Coalmen.
- The Redstreets: Lit by the ubiquitous red glass and paper lanterns of the area, the Redstreets are filled with taverns, opium dens and brothels. The party never ends here, and oft-times goes much, much too far. Those who live here favor the eternal fervor of the place, and usually work either providing pleasure or are rich enough to be its perpetual customers. At the center of the Redstreets is the Baths, the ancient Roman bathworks ruled over by the Keeper of the Baths.
- The Riverfall: Eternally filled with the sound of a groaning waterwheel spinning under the perpetual torrent of water, Riverfall is a cavern beneath the Thames with a crack in its ceiling through which a (relatively) small but steady stream of riverwater pours down into a subterranean river. It falls down, down, down into the great turning watermill that channels the water into the network of makeshift aqueducts and waterpipes, the center of which is the great Aqueduct, of Roman origin. In the shadows beneath this system of aqueducts dwells the Keeper of the Waters.
- The Sporefields: A vast echoing cavern filled with a low-lying mist of lightly floating spores, the Sporefields are a great source of food for many of the Hypogeans. The floor of this cavern is filled with centuries of rot and decay, and the myconidic life that grows here reaches mammoth proportions. Somewhere in this confusing, misasmic cavern lies the Garden, a simple Roman construction that once housed the most beautiful garden in Roman Britannia, but now is the home of the Keeper of the Garden. Those who come to this cavern seeking food tend to stay at its edges, and do not speak, for fear of earning the attentions of the witchlike Keeper. Indeed, some who come here simply never return.
- The Square: Built around an ancient Roman Forum, the Square is the most London-like of all UnderLondon, with houses and other buildings here were funded by some of the richest monsters of UnderLondon, seeking to emulate the luxuries of life in London Above without giving up the freedoms of UnderLondon to be what they are. The Square is where the noble and rich of UnderLondon live, and the Keeper's Arbiters do an excellent job of keeping the riff-raff out.
- The Tunnels of UnderLondon: Everything that connects the large UnderLondon caverns is the domain of the Keeper of the Wall, who works hard to preserve its safety and security. Somewhere in these confusing tunnels lies the Wall itself, a piece of ancient Roman masonry, originally part of the wall that surrounded Londinium in Roman times.
Locations in the Smoke (London)