Liminal: Pax Londinium
London is an ancient city. One of mystery both above and below the city’s streets. However, beyond that, there is the hidden world of Liminal. This hidden world is by no means exclusive to London. But unlike other cities in England, London has a long-standing agreement called the Pax Londonium, which keeps a semblance of balance and harmony.
Pax Londonium, by Neil Gow, is the first supplement for the Liminal roleplaying game by Paul Mitchener. Whereas Liminal itself provides the rules and basic English-centric setting for the game, Pax Londonium brings the game smack dab into the country’s capital.
If you are unfamiliar with Liminal, please check our review of the core game – The Hidden World of Liminal.
We must first define the Pax Londinium to fully appreciate what this supplement brings to the game. The Pax Londinium is not an ancient arrangement. It only dates to 1952 when the mayhem of Liminal London came to a head when a rogue weathermonger’s spell backfired, resulting in the Great Smog of ’52. In the aftermath, all factions operating in London, south of the Thames, met within the court of the Queen of Hyde Park, and all parties agreed to the Pax Londinium. This treaty creates boundaries along the Thames. North of the river, Liminal beings are free to live and scheme as they see fit. South of the river in London, Liminal activity is to be kept to a minimum. Several factions actively maintain the Pax Londinium.
Within the pages of this book are nine short chapters designed to give you enough information to set your game in London. You will find summaries of all the factions operating in London, strange mysteries, gods and goddesses and cults dedicated to them, a series of interesting encounters, new rules for chronomancy, and a fully developed crew.
Each chapter, while brief, is concise and tightly written and edited. The brevity makes reading enjoyable and immersive; to me, it amplifies mental imagery much like a work of literary fiction. What you won’t find is overwritten chapters with extraneous information.
I found Chapter 3, “Factions of the Hidden World,” to be fundamentally one of the most useful. The heart and soul of any Liminal game is the interplay of the various factions operating in whatever city or town that is set in. Factions, as presented, are rich and dynamic. From the court of the Queen of Hyde Park and her Duchess of the Bridges, whose trolls guard all the bridges over the Thames to restrict the passage of Liminal beings south of the Thames, to the familiar P-Division with their London branch nicknamed “The Watch.” Additionally, both Chapter 4, “A City of Mystery,” and Chapter 7, “Encounters in London,” end up high on my list for their evocative descriptions and, in turn, for their ability to get my creative juices flowing. Aligning to these chapters and then some is a beautiful keyed map with 38 locations annotated.
Pax Londinium comes in two formats, digital through DriveThruRPG and in hardcover. The physical size is close to A5 but is noticeably larger at 6 3/8″ x 9 1/2″. The talented Jason Behnke richly illustrates and lays out the interior; nearly every spread has at least a small piece of artwork, and numerous full-page art pieces adorn other pages. Pax Londinium carries the style and layout of the Liminal core book.
Pax Londinium is so concise and tightly written other writers and publishers should use it as a model for their future supplements. Furthermore, it spurs creativity without all the extraneous verbose fluff getting in the way. There are no cases in the book; this is the only area where I think the book is lacking. It would have been nice to see at least one case in the book to highlight London’s hidden world and nuanced mysteries.
As good as the Liminal is, Pax Londinium makes it that much better! Neil has done a wonderful job of giving readers just enough information to bring Liminal London alive, yet leaving them plenty of white space to tell their own stories. The book is a compelling, evocative reading experience that I think fans of Liminal will enjoy – I know I did. If you are a Liminal Gamemaster, Pax Londinium is a must-have. It’s just damn brilliant!
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