“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. These are things we do not know we don’t know.” - Donald Rumsfeld CLICK HERE FOR THE IC There are things out there, in the weirder reaches of space-time where reality is an optional extra. Horrible things, usually with tentacles. Al-Hazred glimpsed them, John Dee summoned them, HP Lovecraft wrote about them, and Alan Turing mapped the paths from our universe to theirs. The right calculation can call up entities from other, older universes, or invoke their powers. Invisibility? Easy! Animating the dead? Trivial! Binding lesser demons to your will? Easily doable! Opening up the way for the Great Old Ones to come through and eat our brains? Unfortunately, much too easy. That's where the Laundry comes in - a branch of the British secret service, tasked to prevent hideous alien gods from wiping out all life on Earth (and more particularly, the UK). You work for the Laundry. The hours are long, the pay is sub-par, the co-workers are... interesting (in the Chinese curse sense of the word), and the bureaucracy is stifling - but you do get to wave basilisk guns and bullet wards around, and to go on challenging and exciting missions to exotic locations like quaint, legend-haunted Wigan, cursed Slough and Wolverhampton where the walls are thin. You may even get to save the world. Just make sure you get a receipt. INTRODUCTION OVERVIEW STUFF TO BEAR IN MIND CHARACTER CREATION THE STRUCTURE OF THE LAUNDRY ON MAGIC (ie. COMPUTATIONAL THAUMATURGY WARNING FOLLOWING DOCUMENTATION IS CLASSIFIED 'HECTER ELLIPSIS' READING WITHOUT THE EXPRESS CLEARANCE WILL TRIGGER LEVEL-3 WARDS WARNING To whom it should concern, Please find enclosed the minutes from the recent debriefing of the three Laundry agents who survived the attack on our facility in Peckham, an incident henceforth designated HECTER ELLIPSIS. In the month since HECTER ELLIPSIS, it has become clear to the head committee of Ops Division that the security of the service at large must now fall under suspicion. Such an attack on a secured, hidden Laundry facility could not conceivably have been orchestrated without the assistance of someone within our organisational structure. To confound matters their motivations remain unknown, as does their identities and operational capacity. Older assets and teams can no longer be viewed without impunity, as the extent of this threat within the service is not currently known. To make up for the resulting deficit in operational capability (as per ISO8007 regulations) you have now been promoted to FIELD OPERATIVE status, effective immediately. The events of HECTER ELLIPSIS and/or your recent admission to the service means that you are a candidate that can reasonably be assumed to be unworthy of suspicion. As per regulations on newly promoted Field Operatives, mandatory training exercises at the Laundry's training facility in Dunwich is deemed necessary. Please find enclosed information pertaining to your travel arrangements. Disclosure of the nature of your assignment is strictly prohibited. All you are cleared to reveal to any line managers/co-workers/flatmates is that you have been selected for a training course. Your relevant department heads will be informed. Please retain this documentation. Loss or damage will result in punitive measures being taken against you. Please have all paperwork filed and ready for submission in advance. Sincerely, - MANAGEMENT The spy life isn't all its cracked up to be, it turns out. Long hours, copious amounts of red tape, bureaucratic strangleholds and the knowledge that if you mess things up bad things are going to happen and it will be all your fault. Not to mention the fact that if everything goes right, no-one will ever know all the overtime you put in, all the sacrifices you made to ensure things didn't ever get out of hand. 'The Laundry Files' is a series by Sci-Fi and Horror author Charles Stross, focusing on the exploits of a few employees of the Laundry, an intelligence service for the United Kingdom with a slightly unorthodox purview. See, the Laundry doesn't tackle domestic threats. It exists to contain and conceal the supernatural forces of the universe, employing everything from surveillance, sabotage to computational thaumaturgy (what the public might call 'magic') to keep gribbly horrors from beyond space and time from tearing through the streets of Britain. The stories blend comedy, bureaucratic despair and a large helping of Lovecraftian horror to create a uniquely amusing (and sometimes terrifying) take on the espionage genre. - - - You know how all roads lead to Rome? Dunwich is sort of like that. In the exact opposite sense. Unlike its Italian counterpart, no roads lead to Dunwich. Neither do any maps. It has been struck from the record of public consciousness and public knowledge, the roads leading in and out of it erased, wards placed to drive off inquisitive souls. Dunwich is an old village, hoary and grim and stinking of fish. Most of it has sunk beneath the waves, as the cliffs crumble away a little each year and more of the shore is eaten by the tide. When the waves are high, it is said that you can hear the bells tolling in the deeps. Not church bells, of course – the people here trafficked with the Deep Ones in centuries past and there are still a few villagers who have the pallid flesh and vestigial gill-slits of their ancestors. When the Ministry took over the village in the ‘40s, they shipped everyone who lived in Dunwich and the neighbouring hamlets to an internment camp. Some of them were allowed back in later years, under certain conditions, as a good-faith gesture to their watery cousins offshore. Today, Dunwich is one of the Laundry’s training facilities. It is the first port of call for the majority of new field agents, though it also houses secured areas for more advanced and esoteric training. The sort of training that's so far beyond your clearance level it's not even funny. NO PRIOR KNOWLEDGE OF THE LAUNDRY FILES IS NEEDED TO JOIN THIS GAME. With that established, here are a couple of ground-rules: Have fun. That is the golden rule. We're aiming to combine comedy and horror with equal measure. Amusing characters, possibly hopelessly out of their depth, trapped in terrifying situations. Keep this in mind. Bad shit can and will happen to your characters. Regular posting keeps the momentum of the game going. Try to keep the posts coming, and do encourage the GM to do the same (since I'm fucking useless at that sometimes). Seriously. Have fun. How a character came to be recruited to the Laundry can vary quite immensely from person to person. Some might be former military figures recruited for their unique skill-sets. Others might be established members of the British civil service brought in to fill administrative jobs. Many new arrivals might also be “recruits” in name only. These are people who independently stumbled across aspects of the bigger picture of the cosmos and who the Laundry discovered before they could wreck any serious havoc. Naturally the agency isn't keen on letting people who can tear holes in the fabric of reality through the power of applied mathematics just wander about without supervision, so they're not really given much of a choice about joining. One thing that I need to stress: your character MUST be a British citizen. The Laundry doesn't recruit foreign nationals; they have their own paranormal intelligence services, after all, and the Laundry usually doesn't get along with them (especially the Americans). CHARACTER TEMPLATE CRAFT NAME: ((Laundry agents never use their birth names: what is the craft name your character has chosen?)) GENDER: ((Male/Female/Potato/Etc.?)) DEPARTMENT/SECTION: ((What department has your character been assigned to at the Laundry, and what section do they work in within that?)) SKILLS: ((Everybody's good at something. Where does your character shine in terms of ability? Some of these will likely be job related, but they can be outside of their assignment area too.)) FLAWS: ((Nobody's perfect, after all. Where does your character fall short? Are there things they're particularly inept at?)) BACKGROUND: ((Tell us a bit about your character. Who are they? How did they land up working for an obscure agency like the Laundry?)) IMAGE: ((Please provide an image of what your character looks like.)) ADMINISTRATION DIVISION DEPARTMENT OF AUDITING On paper, the Auditing Department is here to ensure transparency. In practice, it's here to make your life hell. They're in place to make sure protocols are followed, paperwork is being filed and everyone's doing their jobs. Auditors: The Auditors are the departmental enforcers, and ranking up their amongst some of the most terrifying people in the agency (which is no small feat at the Laundry). High-level mages specialising in truth compulsions, they are dispatched to interrogate wrong-doers and sweep through any clusterfucks that might ensue in the line of duty. Financial Control: Money is tight when you're an obscure, esoteric operation like the Laundry. Financial Control is in place to see that nothing goes overboard, assigning departmental budgets and making sure that no-one's trying to spend more than they ought to be. Quality Assurance: The Laundry is big on quality assurance (ISO9001 Certified, and all that). This is essentially a fancy way of saying the Laundry loves itself some protocols and paperwork. The QA bods are lords and masters of the paperwork. Everyone hates them for it. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES Ancient enemy of the Ops Division and inter-office boogeymen, controlling the day-to-day running of Laundry business. Everyone needs them. Nobody likes them. Which is fine, though, because they don't like you either. Health & Safety: In addition to the standard dangers of espionage work, the Laundry comes with its own "unique" risks (like deadly arcane artefacts and on-site shoggoths). The health and safety guys are the unfortunate souls tasked with trying to make sure everyone is following the procedures for these sorts of affairs; everything from your number of cigarette breaks to ensuring you're following correct summoning procedures is their domain. Housing: Security concerns (and also the price of London property) mean that Laundry employees can only live in houses vetted by Internal Security and the Housing Section. They manage the property that the Laundry owns in and around London, and are the folks who assign your flatmates. So treat them nicely, lest their ruin your home life. Inhuman Resources: Not all Laundry employees can be called human. Some do look vaguely human, like those fishy types up at Dunwich, but plenty more are far stranger and come with their own special... needs. Inhuman Resources co-ordinates and oversees the welfare of such... individuals. Medical & Psychological: The job can take a toll. This is a fact the employees of the Laundry know all too well, and though Med & Psych's bedside manner might not have changed since 1941 they still provide some of the best health care on the NHS. Payroll: Possibly the one ordinary section amidst a sea of increasing weirdness, Payroll handles employee finances. They've not quite caught up with this newfangled electronic banking business; you get paid by cheque every month, and should probably be grateful they're not still trying to pay you in shillings. Personnel: Managers of new staff, co-ordinators of old staff, assigners of training and task-masters of holidays and sick-leave. Residual Human Resources: Bodies tend to rack up at the Laundry, and for reasons of operational security not all of them can be released to the normal authorities. That was when some bright spark thought of a use for them, and the RHR section was born. RHR looks after the Re-Purposed Human Entities (don't call them zombies) employed throughout the Laundry. Training: The folks tasked with making sure everyone knows what they're doing in this place. A mission only slightly less impossible than the fate of Sisyphus. DEPARTMENT OF INTERNAL LOGISTICS The spine of the Laundry (hunched and twisted as it is), and second only to HR in terms of size. Armoury: The taskmasters and managers of the Laundry's eclectic weapon supply, managing everything from your standard pistols and shotguns to heavy ordnance like Javelin Anti-Tank missile systems and 50-cal rifles. Not to mention the downright strange, like the Basilisk Guns and the HOGs (Hand of Glory's). Catering: The suppliers of the endless cups of tea and inedible sandwiches that keep the Laundry running. The long-running dispute about who is responsible for procuring souls has finally been resolved in Catering’s favour (you cannot stick a fork in a soul, so it is not their problem). Enchantment & Production: What Q Division dreams up for mass-use, E&P makes a reality. They're the folks churning out the wards, warrant cards, banishment rounds and other supplies the Laundry needs in bulk. Facilities: Someone's got to have the unenviable task of mainting the Laundry's physical structures, ensuring their stability and that nothing too weird is bleeding through. Facilities are those unfortunate somebodies. Information Technology: You'd think that the agency carrying on the legacy of Alan Turing's greatest computing discoveries would have decent tech support. Instead the IT bods are stuck in a civil service dungeon maintaining ancient rigs that probably still run Windows XP. Further confirmation that life isn't fair. Purchasing: The guys who have to take the Laundry's pitiful budget and try and ensure that the entire agency has enough supplies to keep running semi-efficiently. Don't ever try to use mind-warping spells to make them tamper with budgetary decisions. You wouldn't believe what happened to the last guy. Maintenance & Janitorial: Though mostly dominated by RHE's (don't call them zombies), Maintenance still has a few living bodies in charge of keeping the Laundry's facilities clean and tidy. Not an easy task, when you consider the sort of fluids that can get into the carpets round here. Switchboard: Don't ask how it works. No-one's really sure. All anyone knows is these guys are inhumanly efficient at putting you in touch with the people you need to speak to (if you ask them nicely). They handle phone monitoring across the UK as well, which is nice of them. Just don't hold the phone to close to your ear when you're talking to them. Trust me. You won't like what you hear in the background. Transport: On most occasions agents are expected to make use of their own vehicles or public transport, but the Laundry does have a small, specialised motor pool. Warded Bentleys and cars equipped with invisibility spells number amongst them. DEPARTMENT OF LEGAL AFFAIRS Even if you're part of a clandestine agency tasked with safeguarding the nation from supernatural threats, you cannot escape the lawyers. Black Assizes: A court dating back to the time of King James VI & I, and the only court in the country legally allowed to convict a mage. It's not a court you ever want to find yourself being tried before, given that they can literally condemn you to Hell. Contracts & Bindings: You know how some people joke about lawyers making deals with the Devil? Yeah. These guys basically do that. Someone's got to wrangle the various alien powers of the universe into binding deals, after all. Legal Affairs: The guys who will let you know when you've done something extremely fucking illegal and what to do now that you've done something extremely fucking illegal. Internal Affairs: The mundane counterpart to Contracts & Bindings, handling any legal issues and strife within the Laundry. DEPARTMENT OF INTERNAL SECURITY IS has been getting shuffled back and forth between Admin and Ops divisions every few years since time immemorial; both sides want the power, but neither wants the headaches that come with it. Counter-subversion: The division where the Cold War never ended. Counter-subversion is in place to ensure no leaks, moles or double agents are at work in the Laundry. And given some of the agency's rivals, it's a good thing they're about too. Media Relations: Because "cover up" is such a dirty word these days. The folks tasked with keeping the weird things that go gribble in the night from reaching the headlines. Operational Oversight: Operational Oversight exists to ensure that field ops are carried out properly and correctly... and their committees exist to make your life hell if you fuck up on such a mission. INTERDEPARTMENTAL LIAISON GROUP A small department-level group within the Laundry, created in early 2002 to consolidate the organisation’s links with other security and law enforcement bodies. They work with everyone from the Home Office to the police, the army and the air force. DEPARTMENT OF RECORDS The Department of Records is a musty maze of files staffed by equally-musty clerks. Asking for one of their beloved files is like asking for their first-born; woe betide you if you get coffee stains on anything. Acquisitions: You know that massive warehouse at the end of 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark'? Acquisitions is basically that. Only creepier. Archives: Known around the Laundry as "the Stacks", the Archives section is hidden deep underground in a forgotten tube station: fifty kilometres of of gloomy, claustrophobic shelf space, staffed mostly by RHE's (don't call them zombies). Try not to get lost. Document Restriction Magic: All Laundry documents are warded with DRM to ensure that only the right eyes are allowed to read them. The DRM office is in charge of making sure these documents are warded properly. Monitoring: Keeping an eye for occult activity across Britain is no easy task, but the Monitoring section has to do it. They employ copious amounts of data-trawling demons and have access to the ECHELON database to see this task through, but that doesn't stop them from trying to foist their work off on other departments when they can get away with it. Translation & Analysis: Most of the old (pre-Turing) occultists were grade-A nutcases and their writings are one part genuinely useful information to six parts paranoid ranting. Still, the Laundry needs that one part of genuinely useful information, so T&A section gets to track down obscure occult tomes, scan them in, translate them and then work out what the hell the writer was on about. OPERATIONS DIVISION DEPARTMENT OF WAYS AND MEANS The Department of Ways and Means is simply in charge of allocating the black budget to other Ops projects, sharing this funding with MI5 and MI6. Any rumours that claim Ways and Means is the new home of the Laundry's ultra deniable black bag jobs are most certainly unfounded, and should be ignored. DEPARTMENT OF FIELD SUPPORT A combination of in-house Laundry talent and friendly resources, such as the Territorial SAS, support teams are the folks you call when the shit hits the fan. Of course, support teams are also damnable expensive and their costs come out of your department's budget. No-one is saying that you should sacrifice your own life instead of calling in the occult cavalry, mind. But think twice before calling. 'Baggers': Occult support and control, specialising in securing dangerous substances and creatures. Also known as the guys you ring when you want some stuffed into a black bag and taken somewhere far, far away. 'Cleaners': When your cover is blown and you need help, you call the Cleaners. Most of the time they're around to remove unwanted bodies and bloodstains, but they can also make living people vanish, erase official records and even wipe memories if needed. 'Plumbers': The Laundry's field sorcery unit, specialising in exorcism, memory suppression, counter-possession and banishings. When you need to convince a bunch of people that they most certainly did not just see what they thought they saw, you call these guys. 'Toshers': The underwater support unit, Toshers are the men and women boldly going where no man wanted to go before. OCCULUS: When things are spiralling out of control fast and need to be contained rapidly, OCCULUS are the guys brought in. Their deployments consist of a control vehicle, a bunch of extremely scary soldiers, sorcerers, enough armaments to start World War Three and the authority to do whatever it takes to prevent the apocalypse. DEPARTMENT OF ARCANA ANALYSIS One of the few departments that has survived, unaltered, since the first days of the Laundry back in World War Two. Only the name has changed. Counterpossession: The occult counterpart of Counter-Subversion, put in place to ensure that no Laundry personnel are being ridden as meat puppets by alien beings or else are secretly worshipping Elder Gods on their off hours. Diplomatic Office (Unconventional): The Laundry has all manner of treaties and deals, both with national authorities and foreign powers, that the DO(U) is tasked with overseeing. Pray we're never called to use them. Special Projects: Special Projects, also known as the Laundry Basket, is a catch-all section for various projects that do not fit neatly into the current organisational chart or who no-one wants to touch without the safety precaution of an intervening layer of non-accountability. DEPARTMENT OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT The Department of Research is the one place where you are allowed to play with tentacles and higher mathematics without finding yourself in a lot of trouble. Computational Demonology: CompDem specialises in developing and expanding magical theory, which amounts to sticking your head into the depths of the dark anthropic zone (that hoary region of the multiverse where the Old Ones dwell) and shouting "hello! Anybody home?" Mathematical Modelling: The Mathematical Modelling section is staffed by a bunch of very smart boffins who use maths to explore strange new universes. Their calculations are carried out in shielded conditions or the shadows they throw on the platonic realm of pure mathematics might grow tentacles and ooze back into our little cave. Occult Forensics: Essentially the magical CSI department. They handle everything from discovering the murderer by raising the corpse of the victim and asking him some pointed questions to comparing the dental patterns of Shoggoths. Predictive Branch: Also known as the Weather Service, Predictive Branch uses a variety of divination methods to foresee the future. They're one of the oldest Laundry sections still in existence, spending their early years trying to determine the movements of German tanks through the entrails of seagulls. Their predictions are notoriously vague... except when they are absolutely specific. Q Division: Where the Laundry gets all of its wonderful toys. The boffins and mad scientists down there have been making weapons since 1941 – they started with containment grids disguised as handkerchiefs and fire-and-forget demon summoning, but they have graduated to basilisk guns, Ibn-Ghazi aerosols and are working on pin-point polarised gateways to higher-energy zones and auto necromantic talismans for field agents. Magic does not have much of anything to do with wands, brooms or pointy hats (although there is nothing to prevent a magician from wearing a pointy hat if they are so-inclined). Instead, magic is the ability to directly affect the fabric of our own reality or even the fabric of other realities. Performing magic also always requires computation of some sort. This computation can be performed by some ancient weirdo playing with magic squares or manipulating complex symbols or it can be performed by some modern weirdo of the type we commonly call geeks, using a cheap netbook, a massively parallel supercomputer or even a smartphone. Someone sufficiently crazy or desperate can even perform these calculations solely in their brain, although many people who try this never perform magic or much of anything else beyond advanced drooling, ever again. Regardless of how the computation is performed, the result is the same. Mathematics does not just represent the structure of reality; it actually is the structure of reality. When you perform sufficiently complex calculations or symbol manipulations of just the right type, the entire multiverse responds to them. This response can be anything from making you temporarily invisible, to providing you with information about a distant location, to opening a hole in the fabric of space and letting all manner of foul and hungry entities from another universe into our own. Unfortunately, the later sort of result is often easier than either of the first two and thus organisations like the Laundry must occasionally go around and prevent talented software engineers from accidentally reformatting their neighbourhood or perhaps even their entire home town. People have been dabbling with magic since we first figured out how to paint symbols and chant harmonies. The highly dangerous nature of this particular interest, and the rather horrific things that can result from getting it even slightly wrong, meant that it remained a highly fringe hobby; not unlike Russian Roulette, most would-be sorcerers either did not last long enough to cause much trouble or they got a clue and after a few useful successes gave sorcery up for safer pursuits. This all changed near the conclusion of World War Two, however, when Alan Turing discovered that computers and advanced mathematics could be used to do a whole lot more than just decode Nazi messages. No longer are symbols, rituals and weird-smelling candles required components for any aspiring mages. These days all you need is a computer, the right programs and a bit of know-how. The government has been trying to keep a lid on advanced cryptography and various fields of mathematics since the mid-1940s, but since the onset of the digital revolution and the easy access to technology this has proven increasingly difficult. For the sake of safety and sanity, modern computational thaumaturges utilise computers and other electronic devices to handle arcane rituals. After all, if you need a series of eldritch phrases chanted perfectly you can memorise them and practice a lot and hope that you do not forget a line when you have got a demon trying to break out of its summoning grid and eat your brain, or you can use a speech synthesiser program and worry about other details of making the spell work. There are very few new spells. The vast majority of computational thaumaturgy is not about doing something new, it is about doing something powerful that works exactly the way you want it to. CAST LIST NEWS Paul Ascott (Department of HR/Training) - @Grumpy Alexia McAllister (Department of R&D/Occult Forensics) - @Angelic Fusion Emma Burns (Department of Legal Affairs/Legal Affairs) - @Vay Penny Thistlewhitt (Internal Logistics/Catering) - @Diana Henry Pendragon (Department of Records/Acquisitions) - @Arcadius Chandler Blackwood (Department of Field Support/"Plumber") - @Melon Cole Blackbruise (Department of Human Resources/Residual Human Resources) - @Mglo Harrison McCoy (Department of Field Support/'Bagger') - @Mjr.Chaos Christopher Arkwright (Department of R&D/Q Division) - @Arcadia 06/04/16 WE NOW HAVE AN IC. IT CAN BE FOUND HERE. It's also linked at the top, too, cos I'm nice like that. All accepted characters so far have been added to the Cast List. I'll get more added as they arrive and are accepted. 31/03/16 THERE IS NO NEWS YET. WE'RE JUST STARTING. GO MAKE A SHEET ALREADY.