Advanced Concepts and Rules
The first thing that needs to be understood by any would be GM of Steamshadow is the distinct classes of late Victorian England. The low class consisted of manual laborers; dock workers, rubbish collectors, factory workers, and draymen. The low class of London could include household servants and even shop owners and owners of houses of rest. The low class at this time were varied and spread across dozens if not hundreds of industries. Even within the low class there were various levels as a household servant was considered more respectable by far than laborer at a glue factory. Day laborers were especially loathed by many as their inability to get a steady job was considered flaw of their characters. The low class were also the backs upon which the industrial revolution was built. Their labor and dedication allowing for the rapid expansion of industry and the every growing wealth and influence of the middle class.
The middle class is generally what people think of when they think of late 1800’s London. The dapper man in a three piece suit, pocket watch chained to his waist coat, a bowler or top hat seated on his head. The middle class worked as clerks, tradesman, and successful and respectable shop owners. They were also generally the most conservative of the various levels of society, not wishing to show any undo propriety so as to improve their station in life. The middle class had ‘arrived’ and were as a group seeking ever more improvement. The middle class is generally considered ‘genteel’ and can possibly ascend to the lofty heights of the upper class.
The upper class are such by two qualifications; they are wealthy and they are considered respectable. Now the wealth may be accrued by any number of traditional ways but respectability is an interesting concept in Victorian England. Respectable people are god-fearing and devoutly attend mass. They are also safely ensconced in the web work of family. They are married and will often have one to two children. They live in the right neighborhoods and only associate with people of their own class. The upper class generally consists of very successful businessman and traders, high ranking members of various organizations such as law firms, accounting offices, Scotland Yard, and the military. Very often arranged marriages are made to both expand ones holdings and to keep the upper class membership ‘exclusive’.
Above the upper class are the incredibly wealthy and the nobility. In many ways this era was the beginning of the end for the nobility as up and coming middle class tradesman and upper class success stories rivaled them in money and influence and even sometimes eclipsed them. Also the power of the East India Trading Co. and it’s ilk could not be ignored as these organizations usually owned much of the nobility’s wealth in the form of debts and investments. The nobility were still strong however and could reasonably do just about anything they wanted to do. From selecting a pretty little thing walking down a London street in poor clothes as a ‘companion’ for the evening whether she was interested or not to letting some dock worker or day laborer take the fall for for a son’s indiscretions or beating a servant in full public view for the simplest of mistakes. The nobility truly are lords of their domain and enjoy great prestige and respect. They are generally considered untouchable by law enforcement unless caught in the most heinous of acts.
Criminal and Victorian Slang
Area sneak-A thief who sneaks down alleys seeing what he can steal on the spot (usually from kitchens)
Beaks, the-The Judges, as in judiciary judge, as in criminal trials with judges.
Boozing-ken-A public house or pub or inn or tavern.
Cannister-Head, ex. “I pummeled his cannister!”
Chirped-Informed (to the police)
Cly-A waist coat pocket, where most gentleman kept their coins.
Cracksman, a-The burglar.
Darkey-A dark lantern or a bullseye lantern.
Dubsman-A turnkey or prison staff.
Dumpling Depot-Stomach, ex. “he wanted to whallop him in the dumpling depot”
Fence-A receiver/seller of stolen goods.
Floating Academy-The hulks, a series of ships used as prisons, many floating in the river Thames, prisoners would cool their heels here before transport to Australia.
Ivories-Teeth, ex. “Gots me a thirst, sure wish’n I had something to sluice my ivories with.”
Lagged-Transported, as in transported to Australia as a criminal.
Mawleys-hands, specifically the hands of skilled criminals and some professional street fighters and thugs.
Nosed on him-Informer, informed on him’
Parish prig-Chaplain or Priest
Queer screens-forged money notes
Reglars, my-my share
Smashing-passing or using, usually in conjunction with forged money, “smashing queer screen” or “passing forged notes (money)”
Swag-booty and loot
Tuck up Fair-The gallows
Up the spout-Pawn it, ex. “he wanted to put the coat up the spout”
Wellington Duke, a-The equivalent of a street samurai, a real warrior with far more training and expertise than the average street thug.