Cover Identities (Guide)
In order to construct a Cover Identity, you need at least 2 Cabinet Noir. Higher values of Cabinet Noir enable more advanced Identities with more available Cover Identity Qualities. The Cabinet Noir can be built and upgraded in Offices of the Tracklayer's Union: Balmoral Branch for the usual scaling cost of (50 x ( Balmoral Development + 1)) x Hinterland Scrip in addition to the other listed requirements.
Constructing an Identity
Starting a New Identity
A new Cover Identity always starts with Cover Identity: Elaboration 1. With Cabinet Noir 4 and either Favours to spend or Ambition items to show, it is possible to also set Cover Identity: Ties when creating a new Cover Identity. It is not possible to later add or change Cover Identity: Ties until you lose your current Cover Identity and start a new one.
Building Up an Identity
Cover Identity: Ties cannot be changed after the Cover Identity is started.
|Cover Identity: Elaboration||10|| A Player of Chess (4)
Shadowy (150 + 10 x )
|Cover Identity: Nuance||6|| A Player of Chess (4 + )
Bizarre (6 + )
|Cover Identity: Witnesses||6|| A Player of Chess (4 + )
Dreaded (6 + )
|Cover Identity: Credentials||6|| A Player of Chess (4 + )
Respectable (6 + )
|Cover Identity: Backstory||25 x Well-Placed Pawn||2 x|
|250 x Well-Placed Pawn||12 x|
|5 x Vienna Opening||6 x|
|50 x Final Breath||11 x|
|50 x Moves in the Great Game||11 x|
|100 x Unusual Love Story||22 x|
|1 x Mortification of a Great Power||26 x|
Selling an Identity
Clay Highwayman Grand Larcenies
When you are part of the Clay Highwayman's gang, you have the opportunity to perform larcenies across the Hinterlands. The highest level larcenies require Casing 10 and moderately advanced Cover Identities and reward you with 312.50 Echo items.
|Action||Card||Cover Identity Qualities||Reward|
|Eccentric Philosopher||Larceny at Ealing Gardens|| 10
|1 x Nodule of Fecund Amber|
|Seasoned Smuggler||Larceny at Jericho Locks|| 10
|1 x Fabulous Diamond|
|Inconvenient Royal||Larceny at the Magistracy|| Bazaar
|1 x Scrap of Ivory Organza|
|Palaeontological Yank||Larceny at Balmoral|| 10
|1 x Prismatic Frame|
|Precious manuscript||Larceny at Burrow-Infra-Mump|| 10
|1 x Legenda Cosmogone|
There are also a few one-off opportunities to use Cover Identities, such as erecting statues or advancing storylines.
|Action||Storylet/Card (Location)||Cover Identity Qualities||Reward|
|Put up a statue (Balmoral)|| Offices of the Tracklayer's Union: Balmoral Branch
|Put up a statue (Moulin)|| Offices of the Tracklayer's Union: Moulin Branch
|Identify yourself...|| A Conversation with Mr Fires
( Station VIII)
||Hillchanger Tower, Changed|
|Join the gang|| The Clay Highwayman's Camp
Assuming all checks are 100%, the baseline cost of a constructing a Cover Identity is ( Cover Identity: Elaboration + Cover Identity: Credentials + Cover Identity: Nuance + Cover Identity: Witnesses) actions. You may also have a cost of 1 Favour for adding Cover Identity: Ties. The cost in both items and actions of Cover Identity: Backstory depends on the options used to raise it, but can also be fairly approximated as 1 action per Backstory with some exceptions.
From this, we can determine that Provide an Urchin with evidence that she's a long lost heir, Sell an undercover identity to a constable, Sell a socially plausible cover identity to a Devil each cost 5 actions (not including travel) + 1 Favour to receive 2 Favours. We can also approximate that Put up a statue in honour of your Cover Identity (which is to say, yourself) costs 14 actions + 1 Favour, and Involve the Clay Highwayman's gang in industrial steel robbery (Non-Marauder) costs 73 actions + 1 Favour to receive 17-18 Railway Steel. Selling a very advanced identity to Devils or to to Spies costs around 530 actions to receive an Intercepted Document that results in a Reported Location of a One-Time Prince of Hell or Rumourmonger's Network, respectively.
We can also approximate that Fence this identity is upper-bounded at 2.50 EPA. Each point of Cover Identity: Elaboration, Cover Identity: Credentials, Cover Identity: Nuance, or Cover Identity: Witnesses adds one 2.50 E item to the reward and each 5 points of Cover Identity: Backstory adds one 12.50 E item. Spending a Favour to add Cover Identity: Ties when starting the identity does not increase the reward at all, but merely changes which 2.50 E items you receive. That said, while it does not compare favorably to other options as an Echo grind, this is a good source for some of the possible rewards.
The scaling difficulty check for increasing Elaboration means even top-level characters will not be able to guarantee success when building an Identity that require high level of Elaboration. The challenge to add a 10th point of Elaboration has a difficulty of 240, which would take Shadowy 400 to guarantee success. A realistic value of Shadowy 300 gives only a 75% chance of success. On average it will take attempts to achieve success.
The table below summarizes the scaling challenge, success chance, and cumulative action cost for a character with Shadowy 300. The scaling is not exactly proportional, but is somewhat close. A character with 280 Shadowy would take 11.78 actions on average to reach Elaboration 10, while a character with 320 Shadowy would need 10.74 actions on average.
|Elaboration||Challenge||Success %||Attempts Needed||Cumulative Actions|
There are several items which can be spent to gain backstory. Here's a breakdown on sources that give around 2.5 EPA or better of the items:
It's hard to get these reliably. With access to the Adulterine Castle at the Hurlers, this approaches 25 pawns/action ( x ~1 per action), which is still not very impressive. An alternative is working on stalemates (or failing epaulette mates) at the Chessboard; this reaches at most ~18 pawns/action.
These can be gained while playing chess at the chessboard, either for free for midnighters or for vital intelligence for others. They can also be gained slowly with opportunity cards, but you will always get 1 opening per action or less. If you have good sources for Esteem of the Guild, Fiddler's Scarlet may be an okay source. Alternatively, if you have a Counter-Church in Burrow-Infra-Mump and A Player of Chess at least 10, you can get 1 opening per action. The Edict of Towers also provides 1 opening per action. Overall, this ends up at x ~1 per action.
These can most efficiently be gained by writing monographs in Moulin, selling a skeleton to the Tentacled Entrepreneur or in the Hurlers ( x 7.2 per action). You may also get them by trading Bone surveys, which will be efficient as long as you have a newspaper or good lab equipment ( x ~4.2 or ~4.5 respectively per action). See Publishing a Newspaper (Guide) for more information on this. Breaths sourced from the Hurlers give x 1.4 per action.
If you have access to it, the Red epilogue of the Chessboard campaign works out to x 1 per action. Take tea with the Diplomat in the Khanate is a good source, using Incendiary Gossip from newspapers ( x 0.9 per action). Otherwise, writing monographs is a reliable source. Also consider Exchange some knowledge of the Eversmoulder on Halfway to Hell or maybe spending your Corresponding for them.
You can get these from the Statue at Station VIII, but this is dependant on opportunity cards and not very compatible with breaking into Station VIII, as that requires darkness. A better source is An Exemplary Work of Lapsarian Theological Art, which allows for 4 stories (and hence x 0.8 ) per action.
These can be gained in the Khanate for 15 actions each, plus actions to shuffle Airs and an offset for travelling; this approaches x 1.3 per action. Mortifications can also be reliably gained when Spelunking in the Sunken Embassy below Moloch Street at a rate of 18 actions per item, x 1.4 per action. Additionally, see diving at the Magistracy, which depends on an efficient way to get Final Breaths.