Bedlam in London

by Erik Andersen


As our story begins, it is the month of June, during a bit of cold, damp, foggy, unpleasent weather. Of course, since this is London, it is always cold and damp and foggy and unpleasent... You are sleeping peacefully this damp June morning in an inn near Southwark Bridge when you and your companions are very rudely awakened by about 30 police officers, who arrest the lot of you and haul you off to the Coldbath Fields Prison,

where you are immediately put to hard labor.

After about half a day of backbreaking labor (You all take 3 fatugue points), you are brought to the Old Bailey Court,

where you are tried for murder.

The police relate to the judge how you recently moved to the area, that you possess pistols, that you were seen drunk at around 11 pm in the vicinity of the Southwark Bridge, that you are all freaky wierd, and generally seem like the sorts that are probably slimey, filthy, murderous, villinous, wretches. Fortunately for you, the judge upon hearing these flimsy bits of circumstantial evidance, launches into a complete rage at the incompetence of the police, their worthless efforts at railroading a group of poor innocents, their parentage, breeding, mothers, etc. He then sets you free. The chief of police eyes you suspiciously as he removes the handcuffs, and insinuates that he is certain that you are indeed the murderers, and that if anymore murders occur, he and fellow bobbies will not bother the judge next time. They will hunt you down, and they will take care of justice themselves... The whole platoon of them laughs slyly at this. This makes you feel very nervous.

You breathe a sigh of relief as the police walk away leaving you standing on on a London Street.

A paper boy is shouting "Southwark Murder Strikes Again!". Since you still have no idea what is going on, you decide to buy a copy of the Times.

Click Here to read The Times.

Bedlam -- The Royal Hospital of Mary of Bethleham

As You arrive, you are required to pay a shilling for admittance to view the freaks

The Chief Physician is a certain Baron Henry Brougham, who is happy to tell you of all his troubles. He complains endlessly about the madmen around him, the weather, the nurses, his wife, his dog, and his fortunes (which are not so good). He has lost much of hist fortune and estate and now is forced (by his wicked cousin) to operate this damnable hellhole.

It turns out, he has a lucrative side business. He lets wealthy folks come to the asylum, they chain up pretty inmates, and they pay big bucks for the chance to rape the lunatics. Quite an awful business. There is a book, with full evidence, names, dates, amounts of money, and scrupulous details on the entire evil business (i.e. If found, a conviction will be easy). This is kept in an upstairs room with no door (well, there is a door, but it is a hidden door with a complex mechanism that opens it. The mechanism has a lever that is accessable by removing a plank from the wooden floor in the infirmary. Pulling the lever opens the door from the inside. Henry Brougham is extremely protective of this area, which contains enough evidence to send him quickly to the gallows).

When you ask, he tells you the story of poor Marie Catherine Smith. She was insane from childhood. She is afraid of all men, and is only comfortable around women. She seems to hear voices and always wanted to wear a metal helmet to prevent the mind control rays of the Goblins that live in the Sewers from taking control of her mind. She had made a lot of improvement over the last several months, and they claim, they took away her metal helmet to help her adjust to society. She has since deteriorated - she even scratched a nurse one day! In reality the deterioration is primarily due to how she has been abused

They do not know where she came from, but she seemed to have been hatefully abused before arriving at Bedlam Hospital. She has been missing for about a week.

Also working at the Asylum is Chief Nurse Charlotte. She is hinest, hard working, and genually cares for the "poor, suffering folk" in her care. She is generally helpful and (most importantly) was always a friend to Marie Catherine.

Marie Catherine Smith

Stats for Marie Catherine Smith:
ST 7
DX 10
IQ 16
HT 11

Good Looking (Appearance +2)
ESP -- clairvoyance 17
ESP -- clairaudiance 17
PK -- telekinesis 20
Telepathy -- illusion 17 (group)
Telepathy -- telesend 17 (limitation -- "the voices" and "illusion" only)
Telepathy -- telereceive 17 (limitation -- "the voices" and "illusion" only)
Teleport -- autoteleport 17 (limitation, no clothes, untrainable, only under great stress, only when _not_ wearing her metal helmet (a deep seated, but erroneous belief))

Enemy -- people that raped her at Bedlam Asylam before she escaped
Social Stigma -- Insane, Poor, Female, Child (-20)
On the Edge
Voices (-15) -- modifier -- she believes that wearing a metal helmet blocks the voices. The voices don't like that, and tell her to kill, kill, kill...

Mary Catherine Smith has some very serious and long standing mental health problems, in part stemming from major abuse following early death of her parents (when she was about 4). She has been in Bedlam for years, and had begun to show signs of recovery of late. But then Evil Baron Henry Brougham began to chain her up and let men pay to rape her (she is quite pretty, and so was a favorite).

Unknown to anyone, she has tremendous latent psionic powers that developed as she hit puberty. These she generally kept to herself, feeling they were signs that "the voices" were taking over. She has developed a belief (false) that wearing a metel helmet prevents "the voices" (which she believes are "Goblins that live in the sewers") from controlling her mind. This also acts to prevent her from projecting illusions (when awake). Occasionally, she projects illusions when asleep. This has been noticed, but shrugged off ("just seeing things again...") by Chief Nurse Charlotte.

When Marie Catherine Smith was raped, she had previously kept her helmet on. When she was raped by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, her helmet was removed. Soon thereafter, no longer believing herself confined by the helmet, and under great stress, she teleported away from the asylum. She has begun hunting down the evil men that had raped her. She kills them by 1) finding them, 2) she projects an group effect illusion that makes everyone else in the area not see her or her victim, 3) she projects an illusion such that her victim believes himself completely alone, 4) she uses her TK to pick up some rocks, and 5) she throws the rocks at her victim (each hit computed as damage from a .44 Magnum).

She does not want to kill innocents, but will if cornered. or afraid. or "the voices" tell her to. Or...

Richard Brinsley Sheridan Home

Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Victim #1...

A Barrister, well respected. Visited Bedlam on occasion for amusement, and in a secret deal with the Chief Physician of Bedlam, Baron Henry Brougham, he arranged to have sex with the beautiful girl Marie Catherine Smith. He made her remove her helmet, had his way with her, paid off Baron Henry Brougham, and went his way. With her helmet gone, the voices told her to escape (teleport), to find Richard, and to kill him. Which she obiediently did. She used her TK on rocks, which she shot through him with the force of .44 Mag shells.

He is survived by wife Sarah Brougham, who will complain of his regular infidelity (most recently their maid, who she imediately dismissed).

Jeremy Bentham Home

Jeremy Bentham
Victim #2...

He hangs out in a Opium Den call the "Pit of Despair". He is a total and complete sleezeball. He also paid Baron Henry Brougham, and raped Marie Catherine Smith. Soon after her escape he got his just reward.

Lots of folks in the "Pit of Despair" have things to say about him (mostly bad -- if there is anything filthy, depraved, unseemly, he has been involved -- have fun inventing rumors). Basically, he is a total loser. If the charactors go to the "Pit of Despair", they will be challenged to a game of mumbeledypeg (throw daggers at ground, spread legs to match position of dagger). If they win, they will be accepted and can get info. If they lose they will (on a roll of 10 or less with 3d6) get in a bar fight with a bunch of Opium addicts, sailors, prostitutes, and whatnot. There is a huge man (Str: 16) named Big Bruno here, who is a pimp for all the local prostitutes. If the players get in a fight with Big Bruno, they will die. Make a pretence of rollplaying to make it seem like thy had a chance, but they don't have a prayer, since everyone in the "Pit of Despair" is a buddy of Big Bruno (there are roughly 30 pirates, cut-throats, opium addits, thieves, and prostitutes). There is a 50% chance that Big Bruno will be inibriated on Opium, and asleep.

There is a prostitute, Bubbles, in the area, who was frequently visited by George Canning.

Benjamin West Home

Benjamin West
Victim #3...

A senior clerk at Lindsay and Co. He is respected, competent, but dull. He simply looked like someone that had visited Bedlam (he never had), so the "voices" told Marie Catherine Smith to kill him.

Should the charactors go to Lindsay and Co., (they are an accounting firm in the employ of the East India Company, where they do regular audits and such) they will meet his boss,
Henry Fuseli
who is a fascinating conversationalist (Voice +2, Charisma +2, Guile, Wealth +2), who is a real loser, and completely pointless to the game at hand. He will distract them with sports, wist, talk of the racetracks, talk of his children, talk of the little tarts in his employ, etc. Total time sink....

George Canning Home

George Canning
Victim #4....

George was a thril seeker, and a regular to the Bedlam asylam to see the freak show. He had a wife and children, now left desolate. He was a loser, so they will not really miss him much, but they will miss his inheritance (which now goes to his brother).
George Canning's family
they will whine and moan. The only useful thing they can do is beg for mercy, complain about their landlady, Hannah More, who is about to evict them as paupers. George was a gentleman. Fond of the racetracks, a light drinker who frequented the
Gentlemans Club
with his playboy brother, Victor, who will now take over the inheritance. Victor boards at the Gentlemans Club, and frequently accompanied George on his expliits, including his frequent visits to see the freaks to Bedlam (though he knew nothing about the rapes at Bedlam or his brother's involvement in such a nasty business).

Should the players visit the Gentlemans club, they can visit with Percival Blakely, Phillias Fogg, Victor Canning, and other gentleman. They can play several games of wist, should they choose, and possibly win (or lose) up to 100 pounds (all genteleman default to Gambing-12, Ante is 5 pounds).

George Canning has a landlady named
Hannah More
who is again, a fascinating conversationalist, but another pointless distraction to the charactors. She will meet them as they leave George Canning's House (she will grant a free year of room and Board to Mrs. Canning, in light of her great loss). If they go with her, they will visit in her
where she will visit at some length about nothing. She will invite them to tea
in her tea garden
and waste lots of time telling them about her nieces, nephews, the balls she attended as a child, etc... (2 hours wasted chatting).

By The Southwick Bridge Water Front

By The Water Front
Marie Catherine Smith, when she is found, will be wandering aimlessly talking to "the voices" in the general area of the waterfront near Southwark Bridge. She only shows up at night (she sleeps wrapped in an invisibility illusion). Usually after killing one of her tormentors. If she has recently killed, she will be having a pretty serious fight with "the voices", and will really want to concentrate on that...

If the players force a fight, it will be to the death (somebody's death anyways).

1 extra char point if they can manage to keep her alive and return her to the hospital with a helmet on...

The Russian Social Club

At the Russian Immigrants Social Club, the preceeding night, A scuffle broke out at a lecture on women's rights and birth control. The featured speaker was Sophie Botkin, wife of Vladimir Boikin, the exiled Russian anarchist. According to the president of the club. Jacob Epstein, the disturbance occurred during the reception which followed the lecture and which was attended by close to one hundred women. One of the women apparently became outraged and had to be escorted from the building.

Of those at the Russian Social Club, such as Musical Tart 1, Tart 2, and npc-MusicalTart2-3.jpg, there is a stong progressive sentiment in favor of women's rights, birth control, sufferage, etc. They really hate the members of the Royal Academy, who they believe caused that disturbance, and who they believe are in favor of female oppression, and similar 16th century thinking.

They will be happy to chat on a good reaction roll, but will not be very helpful.

Elton Sherman's Estate

Elton Sherman's Estate is out on the countryside fringes of London. He has a lot of bloodhounds, since he breeds them as a hobby (and he makes a fair bit of money at it as well). He is well to do (when the players find him, he is fox hunting -- a sport he is excessively fond of) and lives well. He is not too bright, but loves to read The Times, and comment when possible. He is willing to rent out out bloodhounds for around 20 pounds (he has Merchant skill of 14, wealth +2).

The London Times Office

The London Times
At the London times office you find an up and coming reporter named William "Scoop"Pitt. He is anxious for a bit of glory, and wants to find a great story to print. The story of the nasty goings on at the asylum certainly constitutes a good story...


For the "London Times" not-at-all-real-newspaper above, I stole much of the content (i.e. I put it on a scanner of swiped much of the text unchanged) from the 1991 video game, Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective. I totally reformatted the text as HTML, and rewrote around 30% of it.

Sources of Pictures and Information

London in the 19th Century (A primary Source of material)
British History 1700-1920
Engravings of 18th- and 19th-Century British Portraits (where more people in this adventure came from)
Several nice images from "A Microcosm of London, or, London in Miniature", Published by Rudolph Ackermann, 1808-1811
Plates from The Seven Ages of Man, Coloured Prints by H. Alkin, 1824
Pictures and details on places around London
Language of "The Fancy"
A number of nice images from the 1800s
Some 1800's London images (little helpful text)
London in the Mid Eighteenth Century
Dicken's London
Booth's 1889 London Poverty Map
Map of London, 1859

Sources of Information on Bedlam Asylum

Solid background Text on Bedlam
Several Good Pictures on early Mental Health Care (if it can be termed that...)

Reference material Valuable to Game Play

Playing the Insane
Anatomy of a Victim