WFRP: Where the fog is the thickest, the Ruinous powers hide

My shameless mining of the works of Charles Dickens continues. This time, the writing comes from Bleak House.


Altdorf. The Chill Month lately over, and our Lord Chancellor sitting in his gilded courts of law. Implacable Ulriczeit weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Jabberwock, forty feet long or so, waddling like a humongous lizard up Imperial Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snowflakes—gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. Dogs, undistinguishable in mire. Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. Foot passengers, jostling one another in a general infection of ill temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if this day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest.

Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls deified among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Reikland marshes, fog on the Hagercrybs heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Drecksack pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little ‘prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a dwarfish balloon and hanging in the misty clouds.

Gas looming through the fog in divers places in the streets, much as the sun may, from the spongey fields, be seen to loom by husbandman and ploughboy. Most of the shops lighted two hours before their time—as the gas seems to know, for it has a haggard and unwilling look.

The raw afternoon is rawest, and the dense fog is densest, and the muddy streets are muddiest near that leaden-headed old obstruction, appropriate ornament for the threshold of a leaden-headed old corporation, Temple Bar. And hard by Temple Bar, in the Courts of Justice, at the very heart of the fog, sits the Lord High Chancellor in his High Court of Chancery.

Never can there come fog too thick, never can there come mud and mire too deep, to assort with the groping and floundering condition which this High Court of Chancery, most pestilent of hoary sinners, holds this day in the sight of heaven and earth.

Adolphus Altdorfer
Angestag, Kaldezeit 2, 2523 IC

WFRP: To dream of a garden of green, a sky so blue

And now for the next reworking of the writings of Charles Dickens. I turn again to a short paragraph from Nicholas Nickleby.


I was working late at the coaching house. I closed an account-book which lay on my desk, and, throwing myself back in my chair, gazed with an air of abstraction through the dirty window.

Some Altdorf houses have a melancholy little plot of ground behind them, usually fenced in by four high whitewashed walls, and frowned upon by stacks of chimneys: in which there withers on, from year to year, a crippled tree, that makes a show of putting forth a few leaves late in autumn when other trees shed theirs, and, drooping in the effort, lingers on, all crackled and smoke-dried, till the following season, when it repeats the same process, and perhaps, if the weather be particularly genial, even tempts some rheumatic sparrow to chirrup in its branches.

People sometimes call these dark yards ‘gardens’; it is not supposed that they were ever planted, but rather that they are pieces of unreclaimed land, with the withered vegetation of the original brick-field. No man thinks of walking in this desolate place, or of turning it to any account. A few hampers, half-a-dozen broken bottles, and such-like rubbish, may be thrown there, when the tenant first moves in, but nothing more; and there they remain until he goes away again: the damp straw taking just as long to moulder as it thinks proper: and mingling with the scanty box, and stunted everbrowns, and broken flower-pots, that are scattered mournfully about — a prey to ‘blacks’ and dirt.

Adolphus Altdorfer
Backertag, Brauzeit 14, 2523 IC

WFRP: The friendless tides, the empty faces

This installment of my reworkings of the writings of Charles Dickens turns to a short paragraph from Nicholas Nickleby. It neatly illustrates the bleak aspect of Altdorf that is present in many texts covering the city.


There are people enough in the world, Heaven knows! and even in Altdorf, but few complaints prevail, of the population being scanty. It is extraordinary how long a man may look among the crowd without discovering the face of a friend, but it is no less true. Everyday I look, and look, till my eyes become sore as my heart, but no friend appears; and when, growing tired of the search, I turn my eyes homeward, I see very little there to relieve my weary vision. A painter who has gazed too long upon some glaring colour, refreshes his dazzled sight by looking upon a darker and more sombre tint; but everything that meet my gaze wear so black and gloomy a hue, that I will be beyond description refreshed by the very reverse of the contrast. Some colour, some freshness, some vitality to lend succor to my troubled mind.

Adolphus Altdorfer
Backertag, Erntezeit 12, 2523 IC