Zombie Master Notes
So, a zombie infection spreads through the lower classes of London at a rampant rate, while being more insidiously spread (and covered up) by the aristocracy across Europe.
Hopefully the Cast will have little chance of stopping the "rise" itself. Where lower class games would focus on the stopping of the zombies, they will be unaware of its spread through the European upper classes (a slow but inexorable spread). Should they eventually track the problem back to Victoria, it might be interesting to see the Cast plot a bit of Regicide.
In a similar way, the ministers and palace attendants have little interest in the events in the East End. By the time they begin to suspect, the "rise" should be well underway.
The Cast that has the best hope of affecting the "rise" would be Law characters, who in theory could move between the two "rise" scenarios. Have them come up against all sorts of blocks by the Palace and gossip from the staff. The direct threat should come from the East End, and the apprehending of Jack, and ZMs would be well advised not to let on that
Victoria is affected at all.
That would just spoil their reward when, for their heroic efforts (and for knowing too much), they are granted a private audience with the Zombie Queen herself . . .
A Tour of East End
Now that the Industrial Revolution is in full swing, London has swollen to an enormous size. Most of those who have come to the city have done so to find work that does not exist. Many who have come to London have ended up in the East End, and are no doubt regretting it.
The East End is wholly unfit for living. As the lower classes have moved in, everyone else has moved out. And so has the money. In their place have sprung up pokey, badly built, back to back housing, placed on incredibly narrow streets. Here a worker coming to the city can frequently expect to share a house with another family or two. With unclean water supplies and inadequate sewer systems waste either accumulates on the filthy streets or is washed directly into the Thames. Outbreaks of cholera and typhoid are common here, and many desperately strive just to exist.
Where so many of the poor and mistreated gather, crime follows quickly, and it is a growing problem, increasingly difficult to police. Around fifty percent of the population currently live in poverty here in the East End, but at least they have options.
There is the workhouse or factory, essentially the equivalent of slavery, where man, woman or child can work for in excess of fourteen hours a day for little to no pay.
There is crime, but with particularly brutal punishments (hanging is no longer as common as it once was but is still the penalty for serious crime; minor crimes see long imprisonment where hard labor and whipping await the convicts) have come particularly brutal criminals. More than one body has ended up in the Thames, stripped of all valuables. In the East End a belt buckle, a shoe or a coat fetches a higher value than a human life.
And hanging over it all, the wretched fog, that hides so much from the eyes of the world . . .
John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman describes London's underbelly in the later chapters (or you could, of course, just rent the video). The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers is excellent (and well worth a read whether you plan to play this setting or not). Alan Moore's comic From Hell is also extremely well worth a look (again, you could just watch the film).
For a more stylish take on Victorian London watching Bram Stoker's Dracula is time well spent (with the Doctor Archetype owing much to this film). While not Victorian, The Madness of King George is a great resource showing how much trouble was taken to cover the inadequacies of the crown, and Queen Victoria is well represented in Mrs. Brown.
Useful gaming products can be found in Space 1889, as well as Castle Falkenstein, but these may take things in a more fantastical direction. The best possible resource would be Cthulhu by Gaslight, which aside from containing more historical detail for a campaign than you can shake a rotting limb at, definitely has a better bibliography section than you'll find here.
Hope this helps. Enjoy.
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