Sunday, 25 October 2020

Thieves of Book Row (Bookhounds of London)

This is going to be a little cheeky, since as of time of writing I haven't finished the book I want to recommend to Bookhounds Keepers: Thieves of Book Row (New York's Most Notorious Rare Book Ring And The Man Who Stopped It), by Travis McDade. My copy's the 2013 Oxford Uni Press paperback. 

OK, there are now two books and two books only I highly recommend if you want to run Bookhounds of London, and both are about the US book trade. Frustrating, I know. I work with what I've got. 

The first is Ruth Brown Park's Book Stores and How to Run Them. The second is Travis McDade's Thieves. 

I want to say right up front that this is an academic text. That means, as you might expect, the text is occasionally dry. However the subject's a kicker, and Travis McDade's a clear and clever writer. He's not going to pound you to death with polysyllables or bore you silly with academic trivia. These are thieves, bad guys, the villains of the piece. 

They come off the page just as bad as you'd hope. 

Sneaks with lists and capacious coats or bags, they drift from library to library looking for likely targets. Once stolen any identifying marks are cut away or, if they're prepared to take a little care, bleached right off the page. Then off they go to the booksellers, more or less witting conspirators in the trade, and sell their loot for a fraction of its value. It's a trade that continues to this day, though of course the methods have changed since the 1920s and 30s. 

You will never look at libraries the same way again. Constantly under siege, they had to develop extraordinary protocols to keep their books safe - and even the most secure, like the NYPL, suffered losses. If ever there was a setting for a particular kind of heist movie, this is it. 

I'm not going to go into the hows, whos or whats because, as hinted in the opening paragraph, I haven't finished the blasted thing yet. Just take it from me, if you like this setting you will find at least a dozen period story ideas in the first two or three chapters. Edwin White Gaillard's career alone is worth its weight in plot gold. 

What I will do is steal a throwaway bit from the early chapters and give you a plot seed.

At the end of his work, Gaillard came to believe that at least three men were operating together as a sort of book theft team. One man did the initial investigating of the library, another did the stealing, and a third stole the books ...

Three Blind Mice

The London trade knows them as Percy, Blunt and Nash, though they have half a dozen different identities. Legend has it they met during the war when all three flew for the jolly old RFC, and later teamed up as thieves when civilian life turned out to be less than they'd hoped. Whether or not this is true they're closer than brothers, and just about the most efficient book thieves the characters know.

Percy always pretends to be clergy, and scouts out the job. He's the one who poses as almost blind, so he has an excuse to totter around and ask questions. Blunt, gifted with a face that remains perpetually young, is the one who actually steals the stuff. He pretends to be a fellow of Oxford, Cambridge or, in a pinch, Trinity. The stuff vanishes into his capacious carrying case, which is equipped with several hidden pockets. Nash is the dealer. To the outside world he's a Dilettante with occult leanings who 'inherited' his collection, parts of which he occasionally sells to fund other purchases. He has a rather nice house in Bloomsbury, where he hosts parties and generally bolsters his reputation as a well-heeled lover of literature.

There's not many places they won't go to make a score. On more than one occasion they've gone by boat and train to the Continent, but their knowledge of libraries private and public in the UK is prodigious.

Rumor has it the three are, if not falling out, certainly at risk of a rift. This makes everyone nervous. If one of them should peach to the authorities it won't just be the Blind Mice who suffer. Everyone they've sold a hooky first edition to - including the Hounds - might find themselves up before the beak for receiving stolen goods. Embarrassing, certainly - the sort of Downfall a shop might not recover from.

What upset the Three Blind Mice? 

  • A recent theft proved toxic, when one of the Mice read a section of the Cultes des Ghoules. Now they have an appetite for human flesh, and though they're trying to keep their impulses in check it isn't going well. The other two are trying to help but realize the consequences if they fail are severe, so they're simultaneously planning exit strategies. The two who aren't tainted won't say which one of them is. 
  • One of them has started dealing on the side to a prominent member of one of London's cults. It might be the Brotherhood of the Pharaoh, Keirecheires or some other organized group, but the key point is they're dangerous as hell and the Mouse didn't appreciate how dangerous until they were already in the trap. The other two are furious and looking for a way out, but they don't want to leave their pal in the soup if they can help it. Meanwhile the cult is aiming the Blind Mice at their most valuable prize to date, and the consequences if they fail are unthinkable. That said, the Hounds are just as interested in the prize as the cult is, and if they're clever about it they might be able to sneak off with the loot - so long as they don't mind leaving the Mice to rot.
  • There are no Mice. There is one Mouse with three faces, that he (?) got through eating the other two's brains years ago. That worked fine for a long while, but nothing lasts forever. The Mouse is losing grip on at least one of its personalities, and wants to ditch its failing personas for younger models. Plausible, bookish models. After all, it doesn't do to abandon a con game it's been working for so many years. Perhaps some fresh faces can be found in the marketplace. One or more of the Hounds may find themselves targeted by the surviving Mouse, as potential replacements ...

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Plague Ship 2 - the Plaguening (Esoterrorists)

This post is inspired by a recent Reuters photo montage about the declining cruise ship industry. Faced with a tourism product that's basically dead and stuck with some very expensive white elephants, cruise lines are sending their ships to the breaker's yard. The images are very evocative, and Reuters had them courtesy of Turkish photojournalist Umit Betkas.

You can see the cruise line's POV. Even assuming a vaccine is developed within, say, the next six months and rolled out planet-wide, people aren't going to be booking all-in cruises anytime soon. Confidence is shaken, the economy's in tatters, banks are calling in their loans, dogs and cats living together, that sort of thing. So unless they have bottomless pockets - and they really, really don't - the company's got to look at its stock and consider which can be mothballed for the future and which ought to go to the knacker's yard now, while there's still some value in their carcasses. 

An awful lot of them are going now.

Look at that picture. So many of these ships seem designed to a pattern, don't they? The same services offered, the same entertainment; the only things different, really, are the routes they take, and the total capacity of a particular liner. Some have been rotting for years, and others might have arrived yesterday. The staterooms probably still have some of their old furnishings and fittings, the stuff the line couldn't get rid of quickly enough. There's probably still a little fuel, definitely some contaminants of some description - nobody's ever quite that careful when throwing rubbish in someone else's bin, which is effectively what's happening here.

Once upon a time I wrote an Esoterrorists article for Page XX about a cruise ship stricken with Glistening, and now seems as good a time as any for an update. The article can be found here.

Briefly: the Glistening is an Outer Dark entity that spreads like a disease, infecting humans and controlling their actions. One, the Sessile, becomes the home base; this is a former human whose transformation is complete. The Sessile can't move or do much of anything, but it can act through its kinda-not-really human subordinates. It spreads like a disease but it behaves a bit like a beehive, with the Sessile as queen. The Sessile has a limited lifespan so the Glistening is always looking for potential replacements, which is what kicked off the Page XX scenario.

As an aside, Glistening infestation markers - a slightly elevated temperature and occasional nausea - could be interpreted as COVID symptoms, which would provoke an immediate medical intervention, followed by contact tracing. This is a problem for the Glistening. Its whole shtick is that it passes unnoticed. That's not possible if, at the first sign of nausea and a temperature, the person infected rushes off to the emergency room. Ordo Veritatis definitely has medical informants in place for just such an occasion, though by now those teams will be stretched very thin. One of the few benefits of COVID, in an Esoterrorists universe, is that it really cuts down on the Outer Dark infections.  

In the (pre-COVID) scenario a Sessile established itself near the HVAC system supply of Nautilus Cruise Lines' Festival Allure, and Ordo Veritatis became involved when a whistleblower sent compromising security footage to Ordo. That was the kick-off for Operation VENICE BEACH, but in the course of the scenario the agents had the chance to discover that the Sessile was a refugee from a previous Operation, QUEEN PAWN.

Now Ms. Verity wants you for follow-up: Operation YELLOW DOG. 

Whatever happened in the previous scenario or its veil-out, Festival Allure went on its merry way. Its reputation may have been tarnished, it may even have suffered structural damage depending on how gung-ho the agents were. However the ship survived, and Ordo's never been entirely happy about the situation. Sure, everything that could have been done was done, but what if the Glistening or one of its Slaves got away? Hid itself somewhere deep in the bowels of the ship? 

Festival Allure's career since the incident has been much less profitable - bad news tends to sink careers. For that reason when the time came to decide which ship to keep, Nautilus sent Festival Allure to the breaker's yard in Turkey with scarcely a second thought.

In stepped Ordo Veritatis. This time they'll make sure the Glistening's dead. 

The action takes place in Aliaga, Turkey. Aliaga has an ancient heritage; the Aeolian city Myrina once stood very near Aliaga, and another ancient city, Gryneum, is also very close.. These days Aliaga gets much of its cash from shipbreaking and oil refining, with a bit of tourism thrown in. The town's quite small, barely 60,000 people - significantly smaller than Woodbridge, New Jersey, which is the smallest city on Wikipedia's handy list of American cities by size. It has some nice beaches, the seafood's good, and just across the way - the shipbreaker yard, with its spotty occupational health & safety record, pollutants, and diseases. To attract European business the breakers are improving, but it's a slow process. Turkey has a significant terrorist problem and no doubt even a place as small as Aliaga has a few al-Qai'ida sympathizers. 

Which could be a darn good excuse for an Ordo Veritatis incursion force.

This follow-up scenario is a mix between Investigation and Counter-Ops Response. Ordo strongly suspects enemy action, but doesn't have the best relationship with Turkey and would rather not go toe-to-toe with Turkey's government. The agents use EU cover stories to get in, acting as advisors for one or more environmental investigation entities. However if it turns out that Ordo's worst fears are coming true then the heavy mob will show up looking for "al-Qai'ida." At that point the authorities will be on board - so long as the civilian body count's low. 


  • No Sessile, but ... The Glistening outbreak was pretty well contained the first time around, and there's no threat from that quarter. However, all is not well in the breakers yards; that lackadaisical attitude to health & safety gives rise to all sorts of peculiar things. Blood Corpses hide in dead ships during the day, sneaking out at night to prey on unwary tourists and urban poor. The authorities have noticed, but think it's more likely low-level crime or, at worst, a very small wannabe terrorist cell than anything more sinister. More worryingly there are a few Scourgers hanging around as well. Does their presence mean something more dangerous has its eye on Aliaga?
  • Festival No More. Ordo was right; there were some remnants left behind after VENICE BEACH. Shattered, caught on the back foot, but something did survive. A Sessile's hiding in the bowels of the broken ship, sucking in shipyard workers. It wants out; it's terrified of Festival Allure, after what happened last time, and is working towards relocating somewhere safer.
  • Long Legged Beasties. Well, the Festival's not really the problem any more. The bigger issue by far is that many of the ships brought to Aliaga had Glistening outbreaks of one kind or another, and now they're all in one place ... It's gone way beyond Sessile now. One ship in particular is host to a massive entity that's busily spreading its essence far beyond Aliaga. Those tourists who come to play on the beach or visit historic sites are fodder for its overall plan. Not that Sessiles really plan, per se, but something that large and alien, who knows what it's capable of? Counter-Ops Response incoming!

Sunday, 11 October 2020

The Roleplayer's Guide to Heists (San Jenaro Co-Op)

Disclaimer: I backed this collection of 35 Heist scenario seeds published by San Jenaro Co-Op on Kickstarter, to PDF level. I've no other connection with the product or the Co-Op.

OK, first things first: is it brilliant? God no. Is it good? Yes. Is it good enough for you & your game?

In any collection of 35 scenario seeds, no matter what the theme, there are going to be some you think are great, some utter garbage, and the rest doable with a little effort. Speaking personally I disliked a few, the one with the dead God floating in the sky reminded me of those old 1970s-ish trippy flying ship posters students buy for their dorm rooms, and some I want to run. Especially the haunted ships Piracy scenario, which sounds like an excellent way to spend Halloween. I'm not sorry I backed it - now there's a glowing endorsement!

San Jenaro, for those who aren't familiar, is a US-based 100% creator owned profit-sharing group. The writers on this particular product are Liam Ginty, Olivia Hill, Kate Jeanne, J.R. Zambrano, Keith Evans, Ren Ginty, JW van Heerden, Chris Falco, Heather Rusk, Amanda Allen, Alvhild Sand, Jon Garrad, K. Rountree, Jay Henningsen, and Heather Rusk. Artists are Dyer Rose, Hector Rodriguez, Daniel Walthall, Brian York, Donald Kirby, Galen Evans, and Federico Sohns.

Each seed in this collection contains the basic outline of a heist scenario of one type or another. The majority are set in the US in the modern day, with a couple fantasy and sci-fi heists thrown in. Though intended for any RPG most are fairly standard urban fantasy stuff whose appeal will greatly depend on whether or not you like the source material. If you're not a Harry Potter fan, for example, the Harry Potter theme scenario will not appeal to you. If you don't really get on with Judge Dredd or Harry Dresden then the sci-fi scenario set in an arcology will not appeal, and so on. 

That's inevitable. Let's not talk about the inevitable. Let's talk about the meat.

The format for each scenario is broadly the same. Introduction (plus image & teasers). The Site/Building. The Score. Security. Getaway. Descriptive text as per normal, important stuff in bold. Each is about four pages long. It's all stat-free and since this is meant to be improv none of the scenarios give you more than the basics. No detailed maps, no list of important NPCs (with some exceptions), no in-depth 'this is how you're supposed to crack the vault' box. You do you. 

This is one of those emergency collections Dungeon Masters buy as insurance against that fatal day when you realize you haven't got anything planned for tonight's session and are feeling just a wee bit desperate. There's just enough meat on the bones you won't feel lost, and not so much detail you feel as though you have to slavishly follow what's on the page. 

It has problems. One or two writers, naming no names, need a placard next to their monitor: Omit Needless Words. Either that or tattoo it onto their pet's shaved backsides, whichever works. Kill Your Adverbs is also good advice. Some of the collection's four essays feel tacked-on; two are wanted posters, and while I liked the idea once I saw the first one I was expecting more than just two. The tables (fantasy loot, different locks or lockboxes, security systems and so on) were a good idea but some of them (Mooks in particular) needed more work. 

Its biggest issue is that it feels very lopsided. Of the 35 scenarios, one is set in the US in the 1890s, thirteen in modern day US (mostly California), two on islands in the modern day, seven in modern day locations elsewhere in the world, seven fantasy, five sci fi, and of the sci fi locations one's in New York and another a NASA base. 

So if you're, say, a fantasy or sci-fi Keeper looking for inspiration, you're going to feel left out. Ditto if you're a gamer looking for material set anywhere other than North America in the 2000s, really. The problem's fixable - change up some names, fiddle with the locations. Still, with about 40% of the scenarios set in the US or a US-centric location, mostly modern day, the collection feels unbalanced. 

That might be a Me problem. I don't live in the US, and as I live on a small island I have to look outside for inspiration. If I only wrote about Bermuda I'd quickly run out of source material - or at least, source material anyone wants to read. So I'm happy to research locations I've never lived in or experienced first hand, and alternate time periods. Whereas if I lived in California, which is larger than Bermuda, perhaps I'd think that California was the center of the universe and everyone wants to hear about California. 

 Enough teasing. The verdict:

This is a well-thought-out product currently selling for $20 at DriveThru, and if you want a closer look without shelling out dosh there is a free preview. If you run a game set in the modern day - Nights Black Agents, say, Vampire: the Requiem, or Esoterrorists - you will probably be able to harvest three or four of these straight away and another ten or so with a little work. Exactly which ones will depend on you and your group. Alternatively if you just want something you can run as a one-off any of them can be slotted in for a night's worth of fun. In fact some of them can really only be run as one-offs; I can't see the Kraken scenario as anything other than a one-off, for instance, unless there's someone out there running campaigns of Toon

It could work really well with modernish games that have a tinge of strangeness or sci-fi, so something like Troubleshooters or The Strange. I don't play The Strange often enough to make a judgment call, but several of the scenarios seem well suited to its lets-change-up-the-setting gimmick. The Troubleshooters is eagerly awaited ... [gnashing of teeth.]

It's less useful to any Keeper playing in a time period other than the 2000s, so Call of Cthulhu, Trail, Bookhounds, Dreamhounds, and similar. The McGuffins are often very modern, or the situation/setting and adversaries are similarly unusable outside a game set in the present. Also, those of you hoping for material for your swords & sorcery or sci-fi setting might be disappointed. There'll be something here for you, but it's a small something in comparison with the material in the rest of the book. 


Sunday, 4 October 2020

Dirty Dick's (Forgotten London)

Until it was remodeled in the 1980s, Dirty Dick's Pub in Bishopsgate, (East End/City of London), was covered in cobwebs, filth, and long-dead mummified cats and rats. There was one cat in particular that visitors were encouraged to stroke for good luck, and it was fitted with a spring so that it leaped when touched. Fun times were had by all, I'm sure.

Allegedly the pub got its memorabilia from the estate of eighteenth-century eccentric Nathaniel Bentley, who was to marry his sweetheart - but she died on the wedding day. Heartbroken, he refused to leave his rooms and when he died fifty years later he was cocooned in muck. Apparently he was very fond of cats and when one of his pets died he refused to bury it, letting it mummify in his collection instead. The pub got its pick of the best bits and carried on the tradition in Dick's memory.

There is an alternative version of this story. From the History of Signboards (1866):

The name of Dirty Dick, which graces a public-house in Bishopsgate Without, was transferred to those spirit stores from the once famous Dirty Warehouse formerly in Leadenhall Street, a hardware shop kept in the end of the last century by Richard Bentley, alias Dirty Dick, in which premises, until about fifteen or twenty years ago, the signboard of the original shop was still to be seen in the window. Bentley was an eccentric character, the son of an opulent merchant, who kept his carriage and lived in great style. In his early life he was one of the beaux in Paris, was presented at the court of Louis XVI., and enjoyed the reputation of being the handsomest and best dressed Englishman at that time in the capital of France. On his return to London he became a new, though not a better, man. Brooms, mops, and brushes were rigorously proscribed from his shop; all order was abolished, jewellery and hardware were carelessly thrown together, covered by the same shroud of undisturbed dust. So they remained for more than forty years, when he relinquished business in 1804. The outside of his house was as dirty as the inside, to the great annoyance of his neighbours, who repeatedly offered Bentley to have it cleaned, painted, and repaired at their expense; but he would not hear of this, for his dirt had given him celebrity, and his house was known in the Levant, and the East and West Indies, by no other denomination than the “Dirty Warehouse in Leadenhall Street.” The appearance of his premises is thus described by a contemporary:—

“Who but has seen, (if he can see at all,) ‘Twixt Aldgate’s well-known pump and Leadenhall, A curious hardware shop, in generall full Of wares from Birmingham and Pontipool! Begrimed with dirt, behold its ample front, With thirty years’ collected filth upon’t; In festoon’d cobwebs pendant o’er the door, While boxes, bales, and trunks are strew’d around the floor. ....... Behold how whistling winds and driving rain Gain free admission at each broken pane, Safe when the dingy tenant keeps them out, With urn or tray, knife-case or dirty clout! Here snuffers, waiters, patent screws for corks, There castors, cardracks, cheesetrays, knives and forks; There empty cases piled in heaps on high, There packthread, papers, rope, in wild disorder lie.” &c.&c.&c.

The present Dirty Dick is a small public-house, or rather a tap of a wholesale wine and spirit business in Bishopsgate Street Without. [note: that means it's on the East End side of the Bishopsgate border, between City of London and East End,] It has all the appearance of one of those establishments that started up in the wake of the army at Varna and Balaclava, or at newly-discovered gold-diggings. A warehouse or barn without floorboards; a low ceiling, with cobweb festoons dangling from the black rafters; a pewter bar battered and dirty, floating with beer; numberless gas-pipes, tied anyhow along the struts and posts, to conduct the spirits from the barrels to the taps; sample phials and labelled bottles of wine and spirits on shelves,—everything covered with virgin dust and cobweb,—indeed, a place that would set the whole Dutch nation frantic.

Yet, though it has been observed that cleanliness of the body is conducive to cleanliness of the soul, and vice versa, the regulations of this dirty establishment, (hung up in a conspicuous place,) are more moral than those of the cleaner gin-palaces,—as, for instance:—“No man can be served twice.” “No person to be served if in the least intoxicated.” “No improper language permitted.” “No smoking permitted;” whilst the last request, for fear of this charming place tempting customers to lounge about, says, “Our shop being small, difficulty occasionally arises in supplying the customers, who will greatly oblige by bearing in mind the good old maxim:—

‘When you are in a place of business, Transact your business And go about your business.’”

The great thing about Dirty Dick's, from a gaming perspective, is that it covers a wide range of possibilities, from Victorian to Call to Trail to Bookhounds to Dracula Dossier, or Esoterrorists. Who knows what secrets lie under a pall of ancient dust? Mind you, I can't help but have sympathy for the no smoking rule - imagine what would happen if that place caught fire! You wouldn't have time to blink before the whole thing went up like Guy Fawkes, and good luck finding an emergency exit. 

It must have been interesting trying to justify all that to the Liquor Licensing Board and whichever body handled fire safety - probably the local council, in the 1980s. Still, for it to survive for more than a century argues it must have been profitable; not a gold mine, I suspect, but it paid its way.

Technically there's still a Dirty Dick's in London but somehow I don't think it has the charm of the original. It does claim to have some relics of the old pub kept under glass, which extends the plot life of this location into the 21st century. This PubWiki has some photos of the old Dirty Dick's, but not that many shots of the interior which seems a shame. 

What kind of stories can be told with a backdrop like this? Trail? Bookhounds? Dracula Dossier? 

There's one obvious story that can be told in any setting: the McGuffin. Somewhere in that pile of God knows what is a relic, weapon or other item that is critical to [insert plot here.] Someone thought it would be a good idea to hide it in plain sight, and it can be difficult to find a specific tree in a forest. 

So they squirreled it away in Dirty Dick's, perhaps when it was still a warehouse. Naturally whoever it was wouldn't leave it unguarded, but as to what or who that guard is ... if it's a Mythos entity of some description then Dust or Rat Things seem logical choices. It could also be someone like the Enigmatic Monsignor (Dracula Dossier) - in a Protestant country that's historically been very anti-Catholic for centuries, somewhere like Dirty Dick's might seem an attractive hiding place for a Catholic relic. It is Bishopsgate, after all, and Bishopsgate Without is home to some of London's ancient churches, as well as the old Bedlam hospital; plenty of story fodder there. Or some ex-Edom bigwig like the Boffin might have camouflaged something in his favorite drinking hole. It could even be a fake McGuffin, a ruse planted to attract the unwary.

Trail is technically a 1930s setting but there's nothing in its mechanics that prevents you from playing in the late Victorian period; you wouldn't even have to change the skill list, beyond making a note that Driving applies to horse and carriage. Though if the characters want to be one of the first to drive a car Frederick Bremer and Frederick Lanchester are making them in the 1890s. Dirty Dick's could also be a good Yellow King backdrop. As for what kind of story you'd tell in a Victorian setting, why, a ghost story, of course. Why waste all those cobwebs? The darn thing's practically screaming Gothic. Mummified cats! Need I say more? 

Dirty Dick's could be a good location for a time travel story. Your Trail investigators find, say, an iPhone buried in the other rubbish, and try to work out how it got there. Is there some strange Yithian device at Dirty Dick's that's inadvertently pulling in items from other time periods? Alternatively are Ythians or Mi-Go secretly operating Dirty Dick's, using its well-known squalor as an excuse for why everything seems just a little odd? Is that mummified cat crouched atop a brain case - and just how mummified is it, really? Or one of the vampire types that play with reality could be using Dirty Dick's as a kind of interstitial safe house - an alien stone hidden amongst the cobwebs fractures space and time while spreading its vampiric influence across London. 

Or Dirty Dick's could be a cult node, disguising its malign influence as an innocent, if eccentric, public house. With a name like Dirty Dick's (note - don't Google, unless you enjoy watching folks doing unspeakable things) this seems like the perfect place for Bookhounds' Keirecheires, but it could as easily be somewhere for the Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh or the Witch Cult to hang out. After all, in its heyday Dirty Dick's warehouse was known across the empire; a globe-trotting organization like the Brotherhood might have snapped it up as a London base for its activities ages ago. Or a more local organization like the Witch Cult might be hiding a Dark Grail or some other artefact amongst the other rubbish, to be used in strange ceremonies.

Dirty Dick's could be a gateway to other places as well as other times. Where better to hide a Gate to the Dreamlands, the Library of Celano or some other mystic haven? There's a reason why Dick's is dirty and it has nothing to do with branding; the best way to hide magical chaos is under a grimy pile of mundane chaos. It could even be a means of passage from Earth to other worlds - Eversink, for example. Imagine vanishing behind a cobwebbed barrel only to reappear in another version of Dirty Dick's, in a different reality altogether.

Megapolisomancy might use Dirty Dick's as a kind of landmine, or it might already have been used as a landmine and exploded, hence its current condition. It's no longer really part of the city and can't be used as an anchor, but if you get too close your Magick might be scrambled. Just as a radioactive device leaves radiation behind so too do powerful Megapolisomantic activities leave marks of their passing, like cancers growing in the body politic. Maybe Dirty Dick's is spreading its filth across Bishopsgate, and maybe it's thanks to some protective working placed in the long-ago that it hasn't already spread beyond Dirty Dick's. Of course, if some foolish investigators look too close they might upset that delicate working ...