This page describes a gentleman’s club and the NPCs that may be encountered there, or while on adventures sponsored by the club. It is inspired by the Epiphany Club series of books by Andrew Knighton, which is used here with permission. The books are set in a steampunk Britain around 1870, but this will work equally well in a historical Victorian setting.
Clichés are given for use with Risus, but the setting should be suitable for any rules.
Located on an inconspicuous street outside Manchester’s city centre, the club building is deliberately mundane and unremarkable looking. The building exterior is kept clean and is deliberately unremarkable. Nothing about the exterior suggests that the building houses a gentleman’s club, especially not a prestigious one. Nonetheless, the Epiphany Club is held in very high regard by those who know about such things.
It has a well-stocked bar, a brightly-lit games room, a large dining room where excellent food is served, and a large, fine library. The library has many unique artefacts and documents from a wide variety of civilisations. Its members include some of the greatest scholars and adventurers in the British Empire.
Most of the club’s members are British, and either aristocratic or well-heeled scholars. There is no formal link to the British government, but finds made by club members are often shared with the government. If the government were to make a request, many club members would see it as their patriotic duty to help.
“There’s no need to shout. I’m not deaf, you know. In fact, these keen senses saw me through a number of scrapes when I was your age. I remember this one time in Egypt…”
The club president, Professor Barrow is nearly seventy years old but still fit and active. In his youth, he was a famous explorer and adventurer. He has many stories to tell, and will tell them to anyone willing to listen. His memory not being what it once was, different tales sometimes get mixed together. They are always entertainingly implausible.
“There aren't a lot of camels in the home counties. Though I have some ideas on how one might make a mechanical engine that mimics their movement, to help with transportation in inhospitable climes.”
Sir Timothy is very rich, clever, and easily distracted. Despite always being dressed in very fine clothes, he still manages to look slightly shabby. He is easy-going to the point of being somewhat naive. Knowledgeable in many fields, he always carries a pencil and notebook so that he can work on his various inventions.
He finds it virtually impossible to focus on anything for long, and will get distracted by a new idea or chance to learn something at the slightest provocation.
“I have struggled all my life to get to where I am now. I have never let a man stand in my way once my course is set, and I am damned if I will let you.”
An aristocrat, Mrs McNair rails against society’s expectations of her gender. She is not actually married, but finds that having an imaginary husband makes life a little easier in some respects.
She is always well-mannered, but her razor-sharp wit can be very sarcastic. Her dress and mannerisms are those befitting a wealthy lady of impeccable pedigree, but if the occasion warrants it, she can hold her own in a fight.
“I don't work for my own government any more. I'm not working for somebody else's. Especially not when they brought trouble on our heads.”
Dynamo is an American and a veteran of their civil war. He previously worked for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, and is an excellent tracker. He is physically very strong, and works out almost constantly. Very aware of his lack of education and intelligence compared to his close friend Blaze-Simms, he is always on the lookout for any opportunity to improve his knowledge.
“I do apologise, sir. Household silverware is never as effective as a good cosh.”
The club’s senior butler, Phillips wears a black tailcoat and white gloves. He moves silently in the shadows, appearing exactly when and where needed. Phillips is supremely calm, never getting agitated, regardless of the provocation. When absolutely necessary, he is perfectly capable of holding his own in a brawl.
“What did you think, that this would be like something from Shakespeare? The rogue confesses himself and gently accepts defeat, content with 'at least I am an honest villain'?”
When trying to acquire important historical artefacts, the Epiphany Club often find themselves in a race with The Dane. He is unscrupulous in his methods, but the Club are uncertain whether his motivation is that of a criminal or a dedicated collector.
The following is unknown to the Epiphany Club:
A master criminal, The Dane controls around half of the crime committed in Europe. Despite his pseudonym, he is French, and previously worked for French intelligence. A committed republican, he left French Intelligence when Napoleon III became emperor, and became a career criminal.
“Then you aren't getting my help. And unless you've gained some manners and a way to make yourself useful, please bugger off out of my office.”
George Braithwaite appears to be a straight-talking, no-nonsense, Yorkshire businessman. He is physically tall and muscular, with a large, bushy beard.
His claim to be a businessman is a cover. In fact, he is a devious and cunning spy, working for British intelligence.