Card Catalog – The Cermak Street Irregulars

December 12, 2017

This round of card catalog characters are from FASA Games 1879 RPG.  1879 is the FASA Game steampunk setting that uses the CoreStep mechanic that is part of the Earthdawn setting, and is actually the future of Earthdawn.  For those fans of history, Shadowrun was the future of Earthdawn when FASA Inc. owned the intellectual property to both of those games but over 15 years ago, that IP was split up and FASA Games has the Earthdawn license while CGL now has the Shadowrun license.  

1879 is set in an alternate past in the year, surprise surprise, 1879. There are some significant changes, such as the advanced level of technology that you would expect in a Steampunk style game as well as the prominence of the British Empire, both the Union and Confederacy coming out of the American Civil War, and most prominently The Rabbit Hole.  A stable portal between Earth and what is being called The Gruv exists in London and its opening coincided with a surge of magical energy providing actual magic to Earth as well as the appearance of Boojums – elves, dwarves, snarks, trolls and the like.  In this world, your adventures await.  

Like Earthdawn, 1879 defines the level of prowess of a character in “steps” that are the result of combining and Attribute with a Skill or Power for a “Step Number” that tells you how many of what kind of dice to roll.  Every player will select a Profession which has a set number of Core and Optional Skills that fit within that archetype.  Unlike other games, however, the magic level is low and the opportunity for noncombat based challenges is high because Social Level is quantified in this game and the Professions include such things as Journalist, Investigator, and Scientist. When selecting your Profession, you get a limited number of slots into which you can use your starting ranks, and Free Skills that round out your character cannot be in the list of your Profession’s skills.  Gear is left a little loose and in the hands of the GM and your social level has its own rank and requirements for upkeep – both monetarily and in terms of social standing. The game certainly takes care and pains to have the setting fleshed out and reflected in the mechanics of the characters.

The Cermak Street Irregulars are a group of friends and acquaintances who habituate or live in the Hackney Borough of 1879 London.  The name is a tip of the hat to the original address of FASA Inc. on Cermak street in Chicago, but I’ll take a liberty to place a Cermak neighborhood in Hackney for these purposes.  This set of characters are all middle class or lower social levels.  These are a group of people who do not hold the keys to power in the British Empire.  Their exploits, however, may expose them to more and more of those powerful people and forces requiring them to see whether they can maintain a sense of self and honor while exposing the truth that is hiding just below the genteel surface of 1879’s London. In designing them, the importance of the Perception attribute, which also encompasses intelligence, became apparent.  There are some similarities between a number of the characters and they are light on the combat abilities.  Because I set them in London, rather than the other side of the Rabbit Hole, Soldiers and Military Officers didn’t fit as Professions and Saurids are not part of this group as a race.  

If there was a leader of this group, it would probably be Reginald. Having lost his family profession when he became a dwarf, Reginald has discovered that his love of writing could take him even further.  Learning etiquette, protocol, and the gossip of the aristocrats at the knee of his father has prepared him to place the hard questions before the aristocrats and powerful people in London all the while making it home to see his wife and disabled father.  A bit of a stubborn and prideful person, Reginald has a weakness for exposing the truth behind the honeyed words of the upper classes.

The son of one of the original Byrons who has a strong anarchist bend.  Byrons are the hackers of 1879 illicitly altering the programming of the Difference Engines and Analytic Engines being used to advance the world.  He sees the world as being too controlled by the powerful and that freedom from nations, from aristocracy, and from the difference engines should be the true goal of humanity.  Yes, the skills he possesses to manipulate these machines puts him at odds with the belief that humanity should find more freedom.  Both agile and mentally acute, Herbert is skilled with a sword and well as with the inner workings of the great Engines.

Flo is pretty well known in Hackney as a tinkerer and Brassman.  She is a sight, though, as a human shorter than some dwarves with a cigar puffing away and a mouth that would turn a sailor blue.  Flo knows her way around the seedy side of London and nobody has gotten her story out of her yet.  It’s probably for the best that the rst of Hackney doesn’t know her story, but for now she and Herbert are collaborating on some sort of clever or crazy or both experiment with Pleasance adding her expertise.  The most uncouth member of the Cermak Street Irregulars may also be the one that the Borough would most miss.

Most Americans who wanted to explore went West after the bloody truce of the American Civil War. After spending some time on the range, Richie Orlando went East.  Popping across the pond in a steamer ship after seeing everyone and their cousin already heading to the Wild West, Richie knew he could find the next step of his passage in London.  Sure, he has spent some time being hired on by Big Game Hunters and sharing his know-how with Brits, but he really wants a bit more for himself.  Big Game Hunters can hunt well, but they have their problems without the creature comforts of home and The Gruv means the basics of survival are needed by more and more people as they head to this new and wild land Richie hopes to visit.  Richie’s ten gallon hat and drawl make him stick out like a sore thumb, and coming down with Looking Glass Fever didn’t help any when he woke up a Snark. In Hackney, his skills of making do and basic sufficiency can be as handy in the crowded buildings that pass as homes, and with the Irregulars sometimes finding themselves out in the Country, Richie’s tagging along as the chance to get a ticket down the Rabbit Hole.

SCIENCE! is one of the greatest things of the British Empire! Here, Pleasance, pushes the boundaries of the world’s understanding of natural philosophy as a Scientist whose brilliance is not yet recognized! Her theories using phlogiston and electrostatic charges pushes the boundaries of what was thought lost 200 years ago.  Still on the outskirts of accepted theory, Pleasance has found Hackney to be a perfect place to continue her experiments and the Irregulars have been a perfect opportunity to field test her theories! And share a pint of bitter. SCIENCE! can be lonely at times.

1879™ is a Trademark of FASA Corporation. The Grosvenor Land™, The Gruv™, and the Samsut™ are Trademarks of FASA Corporation. This fan work does not claim or imply a claim to any marks or copyrights claimed by the FASA Corporation or other copyright holders.  Please visit FASA Games for more information about 1879.  

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