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KISMET'S REVIEW OF THE GLOBETROTTER'S GUIDE TO LONDON

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Image from the full color map released through the Kickstarter

The Globetrotter’s Guide to London is a book by Triple Ace Games that I received in hard copy and PDF via backing the Kickstarter. I also have the full-color map as a digital copy, the gloriousness of which you can glimpse above. It is the sort of guide I was hoping for previously (particularly when hoping to run Victorian Lost for Changeling) but could not easily find. Its focus is not a design flaw but a feature, and that should be kept in mind. Instead of promising everything to everyone, it offers something specific to a specific audience.

The book itself is printed in black and white (though the cover is in color), with a neat and consistent two column layout with clear titles and enough decorative touches to keep it stylish without bogging it down. Sidebars are well organized, art occurs enough throughout, and specific game statistics are not so esoteric as to get in the way. You can easily convert one set of stats to another, if you wish.

The book begins with a reasonable “Overview,” namely of its limitations, since there is no way to produce an exhaustive and 100% historically accurate guide to the world that London was at the time. It continues swiftly into aspects of daily life and death in the late Victorian era - such as entertainment, policing, and funerary arrangements - that are tightly and engagingly summarized, without too many references that might slow you down. There are mentions of globetrotters but you don’t have to know what that means to use this guide for your own games. Even the list of clubs globetrotters might be part of is fodder for whatever you want for your own campaign, regardless of system. There aren’t so many stats or special terms that you can’t muddle your way to what you need.

The book hits its stride in the “Brief Tour” chapter (only the second chapter; you don’t have to wait long), in which numbered sites are detailed but kept in numerical order as you refer to the map. There are minute details to be found (such as operating hours for the British Museum of Natural History), as well as dates (though they can be changed or ignored, as generously stated in the opening) and histories (a la Bedlam - errr, Bethlem Royal Hospital, which moved to its site in 1816), but somehow the writing manages to remain open to whatever gamers need. The book captures the sites the time apart from their modern incarnations, casting you back to Then.

The map of London in 1898 divides the book almost exactly in twain in black and white, neatly numbered for reference and clearly delineated within a certain radius. It is actually helpful that the book does not try to be all things to all people because that means it gets to focus on providing what it promises - a look at London from the inside at a particular cultural moment.

The third chapter is “Denizens,” offering birth dates, death dates, and statistics for many inhabitants in alphabetic order, from Sherlock Holmes to Oscar Wilde, including basic stats for common faces like cab drivers and barristers and names and dates for known dignitaries like ambassadors and religious leaders.

The last chapter has some reference to globetrotters in particular before getting to a slew of adventure seeds that call upon globetrotters but are easily employed elsewise. This is a pointed, ready-to-use sort of resource. If you are looking to set a game somewhere else in the British Empire in Victorian times, you need another book. If you want to visit London through the latter half of the nineteenth century, the Globetrotter’s Guide to London is there for you. Getting it in hard copy is not a bad idea if you are going to be spending significant time in Victorian London during a campaign.

(Since I did not obtain this book via DriveThru, I offer my review here.) 

 
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