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Rough Guide to the UK
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Rough Guide to the UK
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Rough Guide to the UK
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games Inc.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/07/2019 10:18:24

Essential reading aimed at 'punks contemplating visiting the UK, much of it is written 'in character', and it makes some grim reading. Apparently, the UK has been under martial rule for some time, but this has just been overthrown and the monarchy restored. The downfall began in 2016 when the Scots rebelled, and more and more service personnel diserted on the grounds they hadn't signed up to oppress their fellow countrymen. The Introduction covers these recent events in considerable detail - apparently despite the restoration of the monarchy, the rest of government hasn't got sorted out yet. Now they are bickering on how Parliament is to be elected. The new monarch is Queen Victoria II, who is actually identified as Princess Beatrice, the elder daughter of Prince Andrew (who, like most of the Royals had been murdered in the early stages of the establishment of martial rule... which is inaccurately referred to as 'martial law' throughout). Her mother, Sarah Duchess of York, had fled to America with both her daughters in an attempt to escape. These are real people, by the way, if you don't happen to know the British Royal Family.

This initial recent history explained, the next chapter deals with Politics and Government, which as mentioned is still in a state of flux. The restoration was engineered by a cartel of corporations, but the new Queen is showing some distressing signs of independence from them. The country is divided into sixteen adminstrative districts (a hangover from martial rule), and travel between them is restricted although it's not hard to bypass the checks if you really want to. It appears that dire as the state of the UK is, in this reality they have remained in the European Union, and are taking great advantage of this status.

We also meet two corporations - Imperial Metropolitan Agriculture (IMA), who took full advantage of martial rule to enrich themselves, and the Hillyard Corporation (which was involved in the restoration). There are quite a few others, including a reimagined English Tourist Board (ETB) that has got rather big for its boots. There's a long description of taking an ETB tour that somewhat reminds me of touring China in the 1980s. This chapter includes a section on law and order with crimes and punishments listed. The UK still maintains an anti-gun stance, at least as far as private ownership goes, and also views cyber-crime in a dim light. Police, courts and prisons are also covered here. Needless to say, in an oppressed country, organised crime and gangs have flourished, they too are described in this chapter. Apparently 'soccer violence' - which was a problem in the 1980s but has been sorted out in the real world - is also still a problem in this alternate reality, and has been joined by 'youth culture violence'. The Armed Forces are also discussed, with sufficient information for the generation of military characters if so wished. Finally, weapons and equipment are detailed for all the gun-bunnies to drool over.

This makes for a very long chapter, it could perhaps have been broken up a bit more. The next chapter is The Nomadic Movement. As you can imagine, the 'travellers' and other non-conventional peoples did not get on well with martial rule, and it took a lot of campaigning and direct action (read: terrorism) to gain concessions to live life as they pleased. Now the fight is on to retain those concessions under the new regime. There's discussion of paganism and some of their leading personalities, as well as descriptions of the main 'tribes' involved... which include biker gangs and highwaymen as well as more conventional travelling communities.

Next up, The Media. As you can imagine, the press was censored heavily during martial rule and they are now struggling to regain the cherished freedom of the press that they used to enjoy. Of course, the likes of pirate broadcasting flourished, albeit influenced by whatever corporation funded them, under martial law. There is still censorship in operation at the present. There are three newspapers (apparently British people still like reading their news off a paper copy!), and the BBC is still around, having become the mouthpiece of the miliary rulers. A sample day's programming is provided, this could make good flavour for your game. There are also 'independent' TV stations. There's a section on working in the media along with some notable personalities that might be encountered or at least seen on the screen.

This is followed by The UK: A Visitor's Guide. This covers travel, geography, food and drink, music and the arts, and a wealth of local information. Bears and wolves can be found in remote forests once again, indeed outside of intensively farmed areas, Britain's countryside has quite a mediaeval appearance. The food and drink section is quite entertaining, there's a list of recently-released albums and a section of slang, as well as some discussion of sport. There are two NFL franchises and a semi-pro league for those who prefer their football grid-iron, but for most in Britain, 'football' means 'soccer' and that is the main spectator sport. Then we move on to descriptions of the sprawling conurbations where the majority of people live.

Finally, England: A Regional Guide provides a pretty comprehensive gazetteer. This includes places to visit, notable locals and notes on what to watch out for and be wary of. There are rumours, too, and useful local contacts. North Wales has apparently gobbled up my house in Crewe, which was in England last time I looked! Apprently it's a quiet town with a club called Beechings... an in joke, as its the railway hub for the entire country, and a 1960s politician called Beeching tried to close many railway lines! Yes, despite being called England: A Regional Guide, this section covers Wales and Scotland too.

This is a magnificent exposition of a Britain that isn't, with enough ideas for Britain-based adventures to run an entire campaign... even if these ideas are ones that spawn as you read the text, rather than are explicitly mentioned. The one thing that isn't mentioned is exactly why the UK ended up under martial law. There's a vague reference to an army coup in 2001, but no indication what prompted it. Still with the oppressive nature of that period graphically described, perhaps its origins have been lost to the historical record. A thoroughly entertaining read, and a good place to send your 'punks to seek adventure.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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