World of Tropes

Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The sewer system beneath Ostley, which can not only house gigantic scientific monstrosities but also a small colony of undead. The absurdly spacious and CLEAN sewer beneath Verne also qualifies.

Accidental Marriage: Dizzy and Nneka, who both seem quite happy with the way things turned out. Was almost Sienna as well, whose prize for winning the horse races at the tourney was, among other things, a wife.

Action Girl: Much of the female cast would qualify, though a special mention goes to Nergui, who seeks out mooks in need of thrashing simply because she is bored.

Adoring the Pests: Beatrice, one of the zombies of the Scorn, tries to name every rat in the Ostley sewers.

Adventurer Archaeologist: Dr. Irons’ travels have taken her all over the world and into some terrifying situations, from sweltering deserts to frigid wastelands. And they’re all filled with horrors, plus knowledge.

A Foggy Day In London Town: Ostley smog is legendary both for its potency and for the residents’ defensive love of the stuff.

Air Vent Passageway: In fairness, Rose’s Warehouse of Evil was a rented space, and was not initially designed to hold prisoners. The vents were too small for Krauss, who stayed behind to stall their captor while Noelle and Elizabeth foiled her plans.

Alchemy Is Magic: And, with it, we can do anything. ANYTHING

Amazonian Beauty: Nneka. Also applies to Nsia and every other woman of the Mogathi Jaguar Tribe.

And I Must Scream: Leah’s situation might be this. We really, really hope it’s not.

Animal Testing: A mainstay of Krauss and Elizabeth’s research. To try any of these techniques for the first time on humans (or sapient zombies) would be inhumane!

Animals Hate Him: Most animals fear Dr. Halsey, whose alchemical blood smells entirely wrong to them. A few of Ostley’s stray cats, though, are made of sterner stuff.

Annoying Laugh: “Hon hon hon!”

Anti-Climax Boss: The experiment-scrubbing clank in Verne. Just shoot the pilot!

Apocalyptic Log: Subverted somewhat with Thorn’s journal in the fungal caves. It chronicled the end of the students’ days… while Thorn himself emerged unscathed.

Arbitrary Skepticism: Despite the mounting evidence that something is deeply and fundamentally wrong with this world, Team Science continues to insist that there must be a perfectly rational explanation for it all….

Arc Words: “I have not given you permission to die.”

Armor-Piercing Question: “Her date of birth?”
Something of an Ignored Epiphany, though it shocked Krauss enough to force him to dial back his cognatogen abuse, at least temporarily.

Artificial Limbs: Johan Brauer is working on these, with considerable success attributed to his strange, nerve-impulse-connecting goop which allows full control of the prosthetic. His son Hans successfully operates a mechanical arm, after having lost the original to a wolf.

Art Major Biology: Or, rather, Victorian Science-Fiction Writer’s Biology. The story’s versions of cloning, invisibility, reanimation, and medical alchemy in general, are outright impossible no matter how far you were to stretch real-world science. But they would have worked for Jules Verne or H.G. Wells, and in this campaign, that’s what counts…

Asshole Victim: Victor Franklin.

Badass Bookworm: Every third person we encounter, it seems, but primarily the current party.

Badass Grandpa: Nigel Chesterfield, veteran of the Great Offscreen War. Nergui’s late grandfather was also a badass.

Bare-Fisted Monk: Nergui’s Tiger-style.

Battle Butler: Arguile.

Battle Couple: Dizzy and Nneka.

Be Careful What You Wish For: "I wish I could spend some time with [Henry and Elizabeth] in person…”

Bedlam House: The Peaceful Hills Sanatorium.

Bedouin Rescue Service: Not exactly friendly, but the natives in the Wastes provided the party with the antivenom to save Elizabeth from her crippling spider bites… right after pointing swords at us, and before demanding that we leave the ruins immediately.

Berserk Button: Threaten James or Halsey in Elizabeth’s presence. Go on, just try it.

Bit Part Bad Guys: The “Caravello Tax Collection Service.” Really just a bunch of pointless mooks shaking the party down for easy cash.

Big Creepy Crawlies: Giant fire ants, giant bot flies, giant beetles, giant spiders, giant death worms…

Black and Grey Morality: The setting boasts few unblemished heroes, and our protagonists are no exception. At best, they are concerned with their own causes and agendas, and dangerously shortsighted about the potential fallout. Their enemies, though, from warmongers and terrorists to Lachlan Smith and the Airship of Evil, are so much worse…

Blackmail: Krauss resorts to this tactic — aided by Noelle’s jury rigged voice-recording device — to pressure the Eoghain brothers to cut ties with the CLA.

Blow Gun: Used in combination with Poisoned Weapons by Mbiraru, initiate of the Poison Dart Frog tribe. Papa Francois gets one good!

Body Horror: Professor Halsey’s case may actually be a comparatively minor one….but the less said about Krauss and Elizabeth’s early attempts at rat cloning, the better.

Born in the Saddle: The Tengriin, horse-riding people of the Golden Plains.

Brain In A Jar: Leah Shaugn-Krauss.

Break the Cutie: Poor James…

British Stuffiness: Elizabeth’s entire modus operandi.

Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Scarlet the Scarf-Girl. Snarky, quirky, and just plain weird, but she is obviously quite a competent covert operative who runs circles around the protagonists. Could also overlap with Genius Ditz in the case of Roxie Smalls.

By-The-Book Cop: Cornelius Thatcher.

Calvinball: Much to Krauss’s consternation, this is how the Travelers play überball.

Came Back Wrong: At first, this seemed to be very much the case with Professor Halsey, who went on a furious, near-mindless rampage through the streets of Verne. As time passed, though, he gradually recovered his personality and memories, becoming a trusted ally of the protagonists.
The Scorn seem to run the gamut from those, like Sheppard, whose minds and identity are quite intact, to others who have been scarred more deeply by their return from the grave. None of them, to the best of our knowledge, are evil monsters, though the same cannot be said for their creators.

The Captain: In Season 1, Sienna Zadra. In Season 2, Sky Pirate Sean “Lucky” Finnegan was promoted to Captain.

Casual Danger Dialog: Team Science is fairly bad about this, beginning with the first encounter against the Otyugh in the Ostley sewer and often getting downright silly. ("Wait, did you mention the tertiary nerve cluster? By The Two, I’ve been mistaken this entire time…") Overlaps occasionally with Elizabeth’s tendency to vastly understate dangers or injuries.

Chekhov’s Gun: The Mad Optometrist’s invisibility potion.

Chronic Hero Syndrome: Krauss, largely because he is certain that it is What Leah Would Do.

City of Weirdos: Verne. The average undead abomination careening madly through the streets doesn’t seem to so much as faze the residents. The clanks will take care of it.

Clockwork Creature: Arion and the rest of Noelle’s clanks.

Cloning Body Parts: Krauss’s ultimate goal for Leah is an extreme version of this. He wants to clone everything except her brain, which is alive and well and in need of a new body. As he insists to anyone who questions the morality or sanity of his work, this differs only in degree from an ordinary organ transplant.

Cool Airship: The Kestrel.

Cool Old Guy: Elder Xeeqi. He shall be avenged…

The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: The citizens of Ostley are expected to believe, regardless of the fact that hundreds of residents witnessed the bombing and the arson that followed, that the incident in the Foreign Quarter was the result of a gas explosion. What’s worse is that half the city actually buys the tale.

The Coup: The assassination of the governor on La Croix.

Crossing the Desert: The long trips back and forth between the port towns and the ruins, in the Western Wastes.

Crowning Moment of Awesome: Professor Halsey’s heroic last stand against the ghouls of Festaa. (Made no less noble by the fact that he actually managed to survive it!)

Cursed With Awesome: In one sense, Halsey’s fate is not altogether terrible. Nearly unkillable, super-strong, and maybe even functionally immortal …once we learn to reverse the remaining nerve and brain damage and educate away the social stigma of zombiehood, it could someday be seen as a tempting retirement plan! (Though the people of Festaa might have their own opinions.)

Cyanide Pill: Victor Franklin’s second death, during Krauss’ interrogation.

Dashingly Dapper Derby: Henry was never seen without one.

Defiant to the End: “You won’t have much to say when I crush your throat!” “Are you afraid of what I might say?” Part of a bigger, somewhat scarier plan; see below.

Deliberate Injury Gambit: When trapped and in danger of being crushed to death by a Metal Man, Elizabeth maneuvers her body and deliberately goads Lachlan so that both she and the Man will be at the center of the explosion when the pressure breaks her bomb vials. It works, as she is sent flying and is freed from his grasp, but she takes massive injuries in the process… and the Metal Man self-destructs soon after.

Despair Event Horizon: James Fartham, learning of Elizabeth’s true work on the Brain In A Jar. After suffering addiction, painful detoxification, kidnapping, and emotional torment, Elizabeth’s perceived betrayal could only be the final straw.

Determinator: Krauss at his finest moments. The man will hear no argument, back from no challenge, and — depending on the cocktail of chemicals in his system — may actually be unkillable in his quest to restore Leah’s life.

Dirty Cop: Every constable in Ostley, it seems, except for Cornelius Thatcher.

Do Wrong, Right: Dr. Victor Franklin may be guilty of terrible crimes against nature and a leave-no-witnesses approach to their aftermath…but to Team Science, his unforgivable crimes are shoddy experimental technique and terrible record-keeping.

Don’t Call Me Sir: Sienna Zadra never liked to be saluted, or even to be addressed as “Captain.” Krauss, conversely, found it maddening to refrain from saluting a superior officer, and would sometimes salute in her direction once out of sight. Noelle also refuses to be called Engineer Deslys.

Earn Your Happy Ending: It is still possible that this will happen…

Eccentric Mentor: Langley Chesterfield, to his niece Elizabeth. He imparted his love of science as well as a particular interest in herpetology. Also unmarried, ever-traveling, and peculiar in dress and mannerism. Henry could also qualify.

Eldritch Abomination: Thotth-ogo, the Destroyer.

Emergency Impersonation: Bernard Astor impersonates a sleeping Kriegerian guard, after having disabled said guard and stuffed him behind a bush. The guard’s buddy comes looking for him shortly thereafter. (Bernard Astor puts on his best Kriegerian accent. “What are you staring at? Can’t a man take a piss in peace?”)

The Empire: The Kriegerian Empire. While not outright evil, it can be described as tightly controlled, isolationist, and heavily militaristic.

Engineered Public Confession: Granted, the only “public” they were confessing to was their boss, ‘Kitten’ Foley. But Noelle’s recording device caught Jarlath and Flannan Eoghain spilling enough CLA secrets, and talking enough trash about Foley herself, that we hope they will steer clear of their old CLA cell for a very long time.

Everything’s Better with Dinosaurs: The Mogathi Reaches.

Evil Chef: Jean-Baptiste LeFromage.

Evil Inc.: The Airship of Evil, and possibly the Westinghouse munitions factory.

Expy: “Gentleman Jim” Jenkins and his crew of adventurers, to the cast of Zigg’s old Zombies game.

Extreme Omnivore: The Mogathi are a Type One. Creepy squirmies and crawlies are always on the menu!

False Reassurance: Elizabeth’s affirmation that Krauss had done “nothing in particular” during his time hypnotized in the fungus caves wasn’t literally a lie… if only because Nergui’s strength and Elizabeth’s alchemy stopped him before things got truly ugly.

Famous Ancestor: Victor Franklin will lie, cheat, and cut Faustian deals in his desperation to live up to the legacy of his much more brilliant grandmother.

Fantastic Drug: Aether commands a high price in the Ostley slums, and gang members take to harassing the clinic over whatever small amount of it they can get.

Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The world consists of nothing else, really…

Fat Idiot: For Jarlath “Porky” Eoghain, there is no nicer way to put it…

Fate Worse Than Death: The punishment in Verne for dabbling in forbidden experimentation. Those convicted are sentenced to be test subjects for the remainder of their natural (or unnatural!) lives, and the testing isn’t always what you would call humane.

Faux Affably Evil: Lachlan Smith has this down to a science. Every smile, term of endearment, and false promise of friendship serves only to drive home the thinly-veiled smugness behind it.

Festering Fungus: The mind-eating mold in the fungal caves. It even briefly takes over Krauss.

Fictional Sport: Überball, in all its rules-heavy glory. Also the Gentlemen’s Clank Combative League.

Field Promotion: Bernard Astor jumps from Corporal to Sergeant between one-shots.

Fiery Redhead: Most of the Celden we meet. Saoirse Murphy stands out, if you mess with her tavern.

Fighting Irish: Damn near every Celden in the game, but Dizzy O’Reilly especially.

Fire-Forged Friends: Happened in record time between Elenora and the rest of the party. Angry mobs and explosions helped.

First Name Basis: Quasi-Victorian manners being what they are, many of the characters are very slow to progress toward this level of informality.

Five Stages of Grief: By Ludwig Krauss’s estimation, Stages Two through Five are unnecessary if one handles the Denial stage effectively.

Forced Prize Fight: Infiltrate a Thunderdome, and what do you expect?

For Science!: A not-insignificant portion of Team Science’s motivation.

Foreign Cuss Word: Alita Esparza speaks fluent Victorian, but for curses and insults, from the mild and friendly to the brawl-inducing, she prefers the sound of her native Castillian. Krauss is less likely to fling curses intense enough to require a language shift, but on the rare occasions when his composure breaks, he will combine Kreigerian, Celden, and Victorian in a blistering multilingual tirade.

Four-Temperament Ensemble:

  • Sanguine: Elenora Sommerset
  • Choleric: Ludwig Krauss
  • Melancholic: Elizabeth Chesterfield
  • Phlegmatic: Noelle Deslys

Frankenstein’s Monster: Jonathan Philip Halsey.

French Jerk: Jean-Baptiste, and how!

A Friend in Need: To her comrades in the Brotherhood, there is no doubt that Leah falls in this category. Convincing them of exactly what she needs, though, can take every shred of Krauss’s persuasiveness.

Functional Addict: Krauss walks a fine line with his cognatogen habit, using the brain-enhancing effects to speed his research while staying just clear of a spiral into neurological collapse. For the most part, it has not impeded his function, though the long-term consequences are uncertain.

Funetik Aksent: Sammy from Gordon’s clinic — and really most of the people in the slums have got the Cockney turned Up to Eleven. (“Now chinas, yer know that I’m a stand up lad ’oo’s never gotten in Barney Rubble! Blimey! Nope! Oi! Not once! Struth! ’onest truff! Oi!”)

Gadgeteer Genius: Applicable to Gilles LeStrange, mysterious clank collector of LaCroix. Overlaps with The Prankster.

Gaining The Will To Kill: Miss Chesterfield, in the control room, with the lead pipe. Self-justified in that there was no reason to hold Rose captive and no sense in setting her free. It hasn’t happened again, but it’s no longer out of the question.

The Generalissimo: The detestable Papa Francoise.

Genghis Gambit: Implied that the Great Khan has used this to try and unite the clans of the Golden Plains.

Genre Blindness: Possibly related to Arbitrary Skepticism, or its cause. Most of the party seems happy to careen past red flags, Eldritch Abominations, and warning signs in pursuit of the goal. That is, except for…

Genre Savvy: Noelle. Hailing from the City-State of Verne, she’s seen and heard stories of where the darker depths of For Science! may lead.

Gentleman Adventurer: Henry Chesterfield, before his illness left him too weak and addled to travel. Alexander Quartermain appears to be this as well.

Germanic Depressive: Dr. Sven Ljung, Njordlanter and perpetually sour-faced archaeologist.

Germanic Efficiency: The Kreigerian Empire pride themselves on it!

Go Mad From The Isolation: Only a little…

Good Cop/Bad Cop: Alois and Krauss tried this on Jarlath Eoghain while the party interrogated him and his brother in the Ostley sewers. Whether the information we got from them was useful or genuine, and whether they have really been scared away from Ostley’s CLA cell for good, remain to be seen…

Good is Not Nice: Krauss will save your life when it seems impossible, but do not expect much in the way of bedside manner (or more than the strictly necessary dose of painkillers) from an Imperial-trained surgeon.

Good Shepherd: Father Sheppard embodies this in name, profession, and role in the afterlife. Where he used to be a priest of the Two, these days he finds himself guarding a completely different flock…

Gratuitous Spanish: Well… Castillian. Alita designates every crew member a Castillian nickname, out of either humor or sheer laziness. That said, you try and pronounce “Ludwig Krauss” with a Castillian accent.

Great Offscreen War: The war between the Empire and Victoria, some 50 years before the start of the campaign. Plenty of folks still haven’t gotten over it, and even officially the truce is uneasy at best.

Grim Up North: Location of Festaa, City of Evil and Horrible Things.

The Guards Must Be Crazy: After being pulled from the rubble at the site where one of Lachlan’s Metal Men had detonated, we expected to be arrested as terrorists. Fortunately, the agents of Verne’s Gaming Commission and the Warehouse and Property Authority took to arguing so vigorously about jurisdiction that we realized we were superfluous to the scene, and simply walked away.

The Gunslinger: Sienna Zadra.

Hard on Soft Science: Dr. Ljung laments that his field of anthopology receives no respect in his nation of Njordlant. When last seen, he was feeling more optimistic, at the prospect of signing on to Captain Javier de León’s undersea mission of discovery.

Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Nneka can match her husband drink for drink, and finds it hilarious when she has to be the one to carry him home.

He Who Fights Monsters: Team Science’s neverending tightrope walk over the abyss of people who are doing sort of the same things we are, but more evilly.

Healing Herb: Elin, the healer of the tribe that helped Dr. Irons’s expedition survive the return trip from Festaa, gave Krauss a crash course in herbal medicine. She also left him with several prepared doses of healing salve and a generous supply of Stagweed, its key ingredient, which may yet prove significant to our research.

Heroic Albino: So far, Alois’s good-guy credentials seem unimpeachable. (Assuming, of course, that he and his colleague really had nothing to do with the bad old days at Peaceful Hills…)

Heroic BSOD: Krauss and Elizabeth experienced one after meeting with James and Gordon to discuss the true nature of the canister on the lab table. James didn’t take it well.

Herr Doktor: Ludwig Sebastian Krauss.

High-Altitude Battle: What airships are made for! Once against Marloux, more than once against sky pirates. The Kestrel remains more-or-less undefeated.

Horrible Judge of Character: The entire world except for our protagonists seems blind to the vileness that is Jean-Baptiste.

Hostage for Macguffin: The rescue of Ceallagh McMahon’s family from the Duchess, in exchange for a shipment of aether. Leads to the obvious double-cross, and quick action becomes necessary.

Hulking Out: The deliberately-non-lethal battle against James in the slums, at the height of his addiction.

Hulk Speak: Olof is the king of this. (“NO! Olof only eat Olof food! Tiny man is not Olof food!”)

I-Know-You’re-In-There-Somewhere Fight: The party against Lachlan’s Metal Man. Though he wasn’t a friend, it was clear by that time that he was human, and through the course of the fight there were hints that Lachlan’s brainwashing was powerful, but not complete. (“We are not your enemy! … If ever you were a man, FIGHT HIM.”)

Improvised Weapon: While traveling through the Mogathi jungles with a broken leg, Elizabeth at one point attempts to trip a charging dinosaur using one of her crutches. She ends up with a broken crutch as a result.

Inconvenient Hippocratic Oath: Krauss is first and foremost a physician, and considers it his duty to drop what he is doing to treat an injured bystander, or even a fallen enemy.

Industrial Ghetto: The slums of Ostley serve as this.

Initiation Ceremony: As outsiders seeking to join the Mogathi Tribes, Nergui and Dizzy were permitted to undergo the same coming-of-age ceremony as young tribesfolk. It began with gloves full of angry bullet ants, which Nergui endured more quietly than Dizzy, and, presumably, would have grown more challenging from there had not even an even worse turn of events intervened…

Inventional Wisdom: A gigantic, exposed cockpit for clank pilots to enjoy the midsummer breeze… and also the bullets from crafty Caravellan crackshots.

Invisible Jerkass: Rose is one by the time the protagonists meet her, quite possibly as a side effect of the invisibility serum itself.

Invisible Streaker: Rose, and even with her scattered costume the party didn’t realize until it was far too late.

Involuntary Suicide Mechanism: The Final Measure. Lachlan’s Metal Men tear their torsos open, exposing a bomb within their chest cavity before detonating at Lachlan’s command. A particularly cruel example of Self-Destruct.

Iron Lady: Would apply to Dr. Irons even if it were not her actual name.

Ironic Nickname: “Wee Dan” Callahan of the Brotherhood, and “Big George” of the Pug Uglies.

I Want Grandkids!: The source of Margaret-Anne’s obsessive criticism and complaints. Elizabeth’s pushing thirty, and given her less-than-stellar relationship track record, it’s likely Margaret will be waiting a long, loooong time.

Jekyll & Hyde: James Fartham. Fortunately, he kicks the mutagen habit.

Just Got Out of Jail: Krauss, at the beginning of the game. No sooner does he leave prison than he finds himself in the middle of a suspicious neighborhood bombing, and surrounded by Dirty Cops to boot.

Just Think of the Potential: The speed with which Dr. Somerset adopted this mindset after learning the true nature of the Scorn may have worried Sheppard, but it helped convince Team Science that she is, indeed, One of Us.

Kangaroo Court: The trial of Professor Thorn, at Verne University. Averted by Dr. Irons and her badass, axe-wielding intervention.

Karma Houdini: Lachlan Smith has made a career of letting the consequences for his actions fall on everyone around him, while he escapes with his skin and his reputation unmarred.

Karmic Jackpot: Team Science volunteers to first assist and then defend the colony of Scorn in the Ostley sewers. Following a series of horrible injuries and disasters, the Scorn not only survive the city bombing but are still available and up for a chat so that the party can get the information we were promised. We also received an actual jackpot of zombie goop, plus some extra Mystery Science Goop for our trouble. If that’s not good enough, the zombie goop turns out to be better than the stuff we originally had, and Halsey’s function is not only restored but makes a sudden leap for the better. It’s hard to overstate our satisfaction!

Kick The Morality Pet: We didn’t mean to, but James ended up fleeing in tears anyway, and Gordon followed right after. Led to a Heel Realization, and the promise to someday make amends… or just stay out of the way.

La Résistance: The LaCroix rebels, and at their more proactive moments, perhaps the Celden Brotherhood as well.

Last-Second Chance: Krauss offers Zombie Franklin the chance to cease his foolishness and redeem himself through Science, but the professor is too consumed by self-pity.

Late to the Tragedy: The party visited a cave at the hazy insistence of the recently-risen Professor Halsey, who seemed to have a nagging memory of the place. What we found upon arrival was a mind-eating fungus, hostile wildlife, and the remains of eight dead students in an expedition Gone Horribly Wrong.

Leave Behind A Pistol: Krauss briefly considers this for the disgraced Count of Caravello, after his son’s murders are brought to light.

The Little Shop That Wasn’t There Yesterday: Not a shop, but the house of the Crazy Old Man of the Northlands. The house and its owner appeared fortuitously when Elizabeth, Noelle, and Krauss were in desperate need of shelter and cryptic advice. When they returned a few days later, there was no sign that the place had ever existed. More than any other event of the story thus far, this seems impossible to explain without technology so advanced that it is Indistinguishable From Magic. The travelers themselves have concluded that, in their confusion and snow-blindness, they must have misread the (quite unambiguous) landmarks…

Living Crashpad: Chesterfields of all generations are notorious for this. Nigel Chesterfield once killed two Kriegers in the war just by falling on them from a great height. Henry fell through a pit and landed square on Dr. Irons during an archaeological dig. Elizabeth falls and lands on Krauss after trying to climb her way out of a ruin while intoxicated. In a rare non-Chesterfield example, Bernard Astor falls on top of Mireille LaChance while attempting to sneak through a window.

Lotus-Eater Machine: The intoxicating aroma of the purple goo in the fungal caves lures unsuspecting victims with hypnotic visions and delusions of their deepest desires, enticing them to remain in the caves and consume the goopy secretion. Once they do, the fungus can take hold… with tragic results.

Lovable Rogue: Bernard Astor, especially when trying to impress Mireille LaChance.

Love Makes You Evil: The depths to which Krauss may sink to return his beloved to life are still unknown, but frightening to ponder. In addition, while Rose was probably already crazy and evil already, her all-consuming infatuation with Lachlan didn’t help matters.

Ludd Was Right: Nergui’s general anti-science sentiment, with ancestor worship for flavor.

Lured Into A Trap: Twice in two days during our stay in Verne — first lured into submission and the warehouse of evil by Rose’s trail of discarded clothing, and then into the clank arena by a sufficiently-sympathetic-looking Metal Man. With the Metal Man the protagonists really saw no other choice.

The Mad Hatter: Henry Chesterfield, increasingly during the final few years of his life. Justified as he suffered from delusions due to mercury poisoning.

The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life: With heartbreaking results.

Manipulative Bastard: Lachlan Adam Smith.

Mathematician’s Answer: At the awarding of service medals after the tank battle on La Croix. (“How did a wee slip of a girl like yourself stand up to quite a monster?” “Very carefully, Commander.”)

Mechanical Monster: Lachlan Smith promoted his Metal Men as these, thoroughly obedient and relentless war machines. The truth was far more horrifying.

Mistaken For Romance: Happens often enough that Elizabeth has stopped arguing.

Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: Somewhere around 2.5. The setting and particular pursuits on the part of both Team Science and the world’s NPCs make this a World of Phlebotinum, fantastic but consistent and within the limits of the world’s already-accepted scientific knowledge, where we’re not actively pushing that.

Morality Chain: Ludwig Krauss does not consider himself a good person. His wife, in his view, is, and as long as she is indisposed, it falls to him to act in the world on her behalf.

Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Just… everyone.

My Beloved Smother: Margaret-Anne Chesterfield.

My Greatest Failure: As a husband, as a physician, as a Brotherhood advocate, and as an officer of the Empire, to Krauss the events of Winter 1860 were a string of unmitigated catastrophes that he failed to anticipate or avert. His driving goal in life is now to set right as many of these disasters as he can, culminating with the greatest one.

The Nameless: A literal translation of “Nergui.” Her parents had hoped a nameless daughter would escape the notice of the evil spirits they blamed for the deaths of their first three children…and with Nergui’s birth, of her mother as well.

Nested Story Reveal: “Daaaaad…mummies aren’t real!”

Nice Hat: Leah sports an impressive pirate’s hat…and back in his day, so did Henry Chesterfield!

Nightmare Fuel: So many examples…

  • Upon searching the lost ancient city of Festaa, the party came upon a crying child, skinny and long-haired, turned away from the party as it quietly sobbed… and then it whirled around to reveal its true nature, once we had gotten close enough to comfort it. Horrifying reveal complete with gaping toothy screeching mouth, dead white eyes, and fleshrending claws.
  • Lachlan’s Metal Man tearing himself apart to reveal his dead internal organs — and a bomb lodged between them — is more than a little disturbing.
  • Swarms of giant botflies in the Mogathi Jungle. So abhorrent even the bold natives go into hiding when they appear!
  • Early attempts at rat cloning produced unfortunate results that were shriveled, twisted, had too many limbs and eyes, or were otherwise barely even identifiable as rats.
  • The Count of Caravello arc had the party discover a grisly altar to some otherworldly horror, in addition to a reeking pit full of dead young women who had been murdered by the Count’s evil son.
  • In the town of Almeria, a bomb strike led a soldier to be blasted to pieces right before our eyes, leaving nothing much but an arm where he had once been.

Night of the Living Mooks: The zombies that accompany the newly-risen Franklin to the not-so-secret meeting and end up attacking Gordon in the alleyway. The party’s first hint that there’s more to this zombie thing than just one incompetent, lazy crackpot.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Promises, promises everywhere…

No Hero to His Valet: Exactly how Upuq acquired the debt of honor that binds him to Jack Hancock is unclear, but he is thoroughly unimpressed at Jack’s claims to genius. Arguile seems to take a similar, albeit more polite, attitude toward Alexander Quartermain.

Not Good With People: Elizabeth doesn’t necessarily dislike her fellow human beings, but she is far more comfortable in the company of abominations against nature. (As long as they are polite abominations, of course.)

Now Let Me Carry You: The party takes care of Professor Halsey, taking it upon ourselves to clothe him, shelter him, care for his medical needs, and accompany him toward a better life. He repays the party and then some by coming to our rescue in the frigid north, standing alone against a small army of ghouls while we make our escape, overwhelmed. Immediately switches back again, to become a literal interpretation once Elizabeth returns to find him and carries him back to camp.

Oh My Gods: “By the Two!” (“Flame and Ash!”)

Old Master: Nergui’s late grandfather, who taught her the Tiger Style of Tengriin martial arts.

Only Sane Man: Constable Thatcher toward the beginning of the game. Alternated between Sienna and Nergui as the game went on; currently Noelle.

Opium Den: Residence of The Duchess, aether addict of the Ostley slums.

Our Ghouls Are Creepier: Bloodthirsty, once-human Lovecraftian horrors whose ancestors may have meddled once too often in Things Man Was Not Meant to Know.

Our Zombies Are Different: And how.

Painful Transformation: James Fartham, during his bouts with mutagen addiction. The Disguise alchemy extract is also painful as it’s taking effect, since massive reshaping of muscle and bone are required for the process.

Paper-Thin Disguise: Jean-Baptiste’s mop wig. Possibly also Elizabeth’s parasol cover shortly afterward.

Parasol of Pain: Elizabeth’s parasol, which doubles as an umbrella-sword for emergencies. Roxie Smalls has an umbrella rifle.

Perpetual Frowner: Krauss, of the “serious and focused” variety.

The Power of the Sun: The mind-eating cave mold could only be destroyed by sunlight. The sun also terrifies and blinds the ghouls of Festaa.

Professor Guinea Pig: Krauss will not hesitate to try out a new cognatogen blend or other alchemical enhancement on the one test subject who is always reliably available: himself.

Public Secret Message: The series of tap-tap-taps indicating membership in the Brotherhood, which everyone can hear but only members would recognize. Backfires hilariously in Almeria, where Krauss nearly gets a thump from two drunken Celden who are NOT members of the Brotherhood, and think he should quit that soddin’ tapping!

Rambling Old Man Monologue: Ol’ Benson may have taught Grandpa Simpson everything he knows about rambling. Of course, back then we didn’t call it rambling. We called it gnilbmar, because if we said our words forward, Kreigers would steal ‘em right out of our mouths. Sregierk, I mean. Back then, we always got straight to the point of a story, because if we DIDN’T get to the point, there were crack squads of raccoons that would — wait, you probably think I mean LITTLE raccoons like we’ve got now. No, these were raccoons the size of airships, and they SMELLED. We used to stuff our noses with paraffin to block the stench. Well, we CALLED it paraffin, but really it was…

Rebel Leader: Laurent LaChance might be this, as he seems to have a wealth of connections and plans…

Reduced to Ratburgers: Elizabeth never told the party where she got the meat for that stew she made during her watch, on the cold march out of Festaa…

Replacement Goldfish: Well, if the first goldfish isn’t really dead in the first place…

The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The Celden Liberation Army.

Riddling Sphinx: Professor Devinette seems to speak and understand nothing but riddles.

Rodents of Unusual Size: The dire rats in the Ostley sewers.

Rule of Cool: Basically the whole reason any steampunk story works.

Sadistic Choice: Rose engineers this intentionally, forcing Elizabeth to choose between saving two of her oldest and dearest friends. Elizabeth’s Third Option ends badly for her tormentor.

Samus Is A Girl: Nergui. Some people — including Elizabeth — never realize Nergui is a woman until she’s long since left the party.

Sand Is Water: The Western Wastes are home to the Olgoi-khorkhoi or Death Worm, which can travel through the sand like a shark through the sea.

Scale of Scientific Sins: Team Science leans heavily, but not completely, toward a 6.

The Scapegoat: Gordon, and it leads to his expulsion from University and his failure to acquire a medical license. He ends up operating out of a rickety shack in the slums just to get by.

Screw The Rules, I’m Doing What’s Right: Krauss set out on this path when he first met Leah Shaugn and her badly-injured brother, and has never turned back. By some improbable mental gymnastics, he has persisted in thinking of himself as loyal to the Empire, in principle if not always in specific detail.

Sewer Gator: Not quite gators, but the Otyugh and the Froghemoth might certainly qualify.

Shout-out: These are ubiquitous, from character names (Victor Franklin, Noelle Deslys, Dr. Halsey, Alexander Quartermain, the mathematician Gilbert, the industralist Westinghouse) to places (Verne) and philosophies (Tengriism.) A name which is not an overt shout-out will still often be meaningful (Dr. Irons, Professors Sharp and Thorn, Roxie Smalls…)

Sky Pirate: Encountered en route to the Mogathi Expanse shortly after the Foreign Quarter bombing, and again on the way out of Caravello toward Ostley and the Wastes. During the second encounter, Sean “Lucky” Finnegan mutinies and defects to the Kestrel.

Sliding Scale Of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Toward the cynical end of the scale, though the triumphs — when there are triumphs — are monumental.

Slimeball: Jean-Baptiste is the king of them.

Slowly Slipping into Evil: An ambiguous case, and we can give meticulously logical reasons for everything we are doing…but wasn’t there a time when it went without saying that Team Science would never try to duplicate Victor Franklin’s work?

Specs of Awesome: The Tiny Glasses see all!

Spy Speak: Upon arrival on the revolutionary war-torn island of La Croix, the party were instructed to ask their contacts for directions to The Queen’s Road Inn. (Spoiler: There is no Queen’s Road Inn.)

Status Buff: Applied through the use of Noelle’s various bracelets and gadgetry.

Stink Bomb: Dr. Algernon Paysworth III weaponized one at the World’s Fair exhibition in Verne. Krauss naturally butterfingered it, and much agony ensued.

Stoic Woobie: Elizabeth.

Sugar and Ice Personality: Elizabeth.

Super Serum: Any number of alchemical enhancements from ability/status buffs to mutagens and cognatogens. More like Psycho Serum in the case of the mutagens — and while Higher Understanding Through Drugs is a key component of Krauss’ life, there have been some side effects just to remind us that Drugs Are Bad. If it’s in-universe and it affects your body or mind somehow, it’s getting to you in a needle.

The Swarm: Fire ants in the jungles! Buzzing bugs in the Wastes! When they’re not busy being gigantic, the bugs we encounter choose to terrorize us in large groups.

Tall Tale: A staple of the Chesterfields’ survival and apparent unshakeable resolve in the face of mortal dangers. Henry Chesterfield told a great many during his life, all based on true events but perhaps exaggerated to entertain his young daughter… and Elizabeth has taken up the mantle, keeping spirits high by narrating fantastic accounts of her exploits to the more vulnerable members of any given expedition. The students Trace Granger and Xaviera Wilmer get the full round of them, as does Leah after every mission. Most likely a coping mechanism.

Technicolor Science: From alchemical serums and explosive concoctions to muta/cognatogens and Biological Goop, glassware filled with brightly colored fluid is a constant feature of the protagonists’ world.

Technobabble: Alchemically flavored and with only a loose connection to real-world science, this is a mainstay of many characters’ conversations.

Temple of Doom: The ancient mummy-inhabited ruins in the Wastes, as visited by Henry and Dr. Irons. The spider-inhabited ruins as revisited by Dr. Irons and the party also qualify, complete with giant creepy statue in the center. May also apply to the ancient city of Festaa, though that’s probably more a Landmark of Lore.

There Are No Therapists: …wait; now there is one! Whether Alois’s command of the nascent science of psychology can put a dent in the levels of crazy exhibited by most of the main cast, is an open question.

They Called Me Mad!: They call us that a lot, actually. They’re probably just jealous.

This is Something She’s Got to Do Herself: To Nergui, every fight is a test of skill and courage. She hates accepting help, especially in dishonorable forms such as Krauss’s alchemical augmentations.

Throw Down The Bomblet: Elizabeth’s weapon of choice.

The Thunderdome: The clank-fighting pits in Verne, where the party had their Forced Prize Fight against Lachlan’s Metal Man. Wide enough and deep enough for two very large clanks to battle without harming the audience around them. Smaller Thunderdome variants occur, such as the fighting pit in The Smuggler’s Den where the party wins 7,000 Reales for defeating a Tengriin Deathwolf.

Time Travel: John Hancock, Upuq, and Roxie Smalls actually succeed at this.

Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Nneka stands a head or more taller than her husband Dizzy. This might also be a case of Ugly Guy, Hot Wife, but that’s in the eye of the beholder. Nneka herself doesn’t seem to find him bad-looking…

Too Dumb To Live: What did Victor Franklin think was going to happen? He makes OUR plans seem well thought-out…

Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth: When the Froghemoth decides to eat Elizabeth alive and whole, it quickly realizes the folly of its ways… and after a couple of detonations from within, it spits her back out again.

Took a Level in Badass: Once a timid bookworm who would hide behind Krauss’s coat at the first sign of violence, Elizabeth has become a dangerous combatant who Krauss can calmly ask to go deal with a rampaging battle clank so he can concentrate without distraction on a patient. Which she will proceed to do, while on fire.

Torture Cellar: Rose’s Warehouse of Evil.

Tournament Arc: The grand tournament in the Golden Plains, held by the Great Khan between all the world’s nations and attended even by a king. Source of Sienna’s humorous Accidental Marriage, as a result of her win at the horse races.

Trademark Favorite Food: Just guess.

Trauma Button: Just the sight of Lachlan Smith’s face sends James into a screaming, hyperventilating wreck.

Tube Travel: Verne’s mass-transit system.

Turn Out Like Her Father: Much to Margaret Chesterfield’s dismay, Elizabeth has inherited her father’s zest for exploration and unorthodox science, as well as his utter indifference to family responsibilities or the ways of respectable society.

Undying Loyalty: Krauss’s neverending devotion toward his wife, beginning in Rottingen and going on to span disasters, years of imprisonment, the crossing of most of a continent, and then the world. Elizabeth’s tireless work in keeping Leah’s brain alive, hidden, and happy, which ends up costing her more than she ever planned on losing. The Celden Brotherhood also qualify — though in their opinion loyalty means something different — however, ultimately the message is the same. For Leah!

Unholy Matrimony: Rose and Lachlan, at least from Rose’s perspective.

Unobtainium: This comes in a wide variety of flavors, and securing reliable sources of them is a constant preoccupation of Team Science.

Vagueness Is Coming: “They hate the sun! It’s the storm! The storms! Like clockwork! … KEEP YOUR BACKS TO THE SUN!”

Victorian London: Ostley, basically.

Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Krauss gets a spray of the stuff from a mobster during the rescue of the midwife’s husband Oliver. Poor Krauss.

Wangst: Victor Franklin’s pathetic self-pitying at his new undead state, as if he hadn’t brought it entirely upon himself. Could also be Narm, if you find that sort of thing amusing.

Weak, but Skilled: The entire party, at present. Physical strength takes a backseat to syringes, explosions, pistols, and badass clanks.

We ARE Struggling Together: The Celden Brotherhood and the Celden Liberation Army. The only thing they despise more than the Empire is one another.

We Named the Monkey Jack: It’s not entirely clear who had the original title to the name: Henry Chesterfield’s dog Elizabeth, or his daughter Elizabeth. Howard the Cat is named after Elenora’s father, Henry the Cat is named after Henry Chesterfield, and Henry himself named his bowler hat Margaret, after his wife.

We Used to be Friends: Michael Shaugn, both to Krauss and to his old comrades from the Brotherhood.

Weather Machine: Professor Storms and his Hurricane Machine! (“Storms was not his real name of course.”)

Well-Intentioned Extremist: Michael Shaugn probably qualifies, though his current intentions are unclear…

What Have I Become?: Halsey upon first seeing himself in his wife’s vanity mirror. It’s less melodrama and more a long, disbelieving stare… likely because his memories have yet to fully return. Comes complete with the eventual mirror punch.

What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Basically the whole theme of the campaign. Halsey suffers much of this, regarded either as a failed experiment that must be scrubbed from the record, or an abomination against all that is proper and holy — either way, someone few would consider it a crime to set aflame. Father Sheppard’s flock suffer the same status, and resign themselves to a life of seclusion because of it. Applicable even to Leah herself, who must constantly be protected by the party who ensure that she’s treated like a person, instead of so much medical waste.

What The Hell, Hero?: Nergui calls Krauss out on his obsessions more than once, going so far as to call him a monster. Later on, Krauss and Elizabeth get compared to Lachlan Smith during the planned brain reveal.

What Were You Thinking?: Krauss is…not unaware that this question could be asked of Leah, regarding her handling of Michael’s betrayal. He is certain that her answer, once her health permits her to give a full explanation, will make irreproachable sense.

When Trees Attack: The moonflower, a massive treelike monstrosity that feeds on the creatures addicted to the Maiden’s Kiss flower. It almost ate Krauss alive.

While Rome Burns: The city is half in ashes, rioters and looters are breaking down the door, and a gaggle of murderhoboes have invaded her front parlor — but Lady Leanne Quartermain will not so much as hint that there’s any reason to let the tea go cold.

Wide-Eyed Idealist: Gordon Graham Marwick.

With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Implied to be the fate of all those who become invisible by way of the Mad Optometrist’s potion.

Wrench Wench: Noelle Deslys.

Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: Pretty much how Ziggy DMs the game.

You All Meet In An Inn: The introduction of PCs and the first major conflict of the game, immediately before the Foreign Quarter bombing.

You Can’t Go Home Again: Krauss and his fellow expatriates from the Empire, who gather when they can in Verne for good Kriegerian stout and a decent game of überball. (There’s even a society for them, aptly named the Kriegerian Exile’s Society.)

You Have Failed Me: The presumed reason that Prof. Franklin’s sponsors decided to assign him a different role in their research.

You Rebel Scum!: Marloux toward the residents of La Croix. The Empire toward the CLA.

Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The Celden Liberation Army.

Zombie Advocate: Elizabeth is the spearhead of this point of view, but it seems like most of our protagonists are lining up to defend the Scorn not only against the Airship of Evil, but against a world that would hate and fear them as monsters.

World of Tropes

World of Gears PabloIchiban Krauss