The Great Hell-Bound Railway, short Railway, is a big project.
In terms of narrative, it is the project to connect London (more precisely Moloch Street) with Hell through a railway, enabling commerce and tourism.
Mechanically, it is a series of locations available to end-game players, and either directly or indirectly a requirement for increasing your main attributes up to 230 by raising attribute caps.
At the stations, collectively referred to as the Upper River, you don't have access to the Bazaar, but instead to the Upper River Exchange, where commerce mostly goes through Hinterland Scrip instead of pennies and echoes. A Scrip is valued at 0.5 echoes.
To begin the Railway project, you need to
- Become a Tier 2 A Person of Some Importance - (any of the four specializations work)
- Raise your (modified) Persuasive to at least 175
- With these requirements met, you'll draw Advertisements of a New Venture, where you need one of:
- 400 x Hinterland Scrip, 5 Notability
- 7 x Favours: Society, 10 Respectable, 7 Notability
- A Vast Network of Connections Wherever the Bazaar's Influence can be Found (from Ambition: Bag a Legend!)
- A Leasehold on All of London (from Ambition: Heart's Desire!)
- Newly-Cast Crown of the City of London (from Ambition: Heart's Desire!)
After starting creating your company, you'll need to convene a Board of Directors (accept as few as you can), bribe a few stakeholders (like Hell and the Bazaar) and deal with administrative issues.
Once this is done, you can get approval from the Board to start laying tracks, grind the materials necessary, and finally start to actually lay tracks. Railway Beginning (Guide) covers this part in the beginning, and Bessemer Steel Ingot (Guide) covers getting railway steel.
Getting approval from the Board involves convincing all members to vote for you. Every potential board member has their own agenda, and if your proposal opposes that agenda, it makes them harder to convince. You can apply leverage or remove members; Railway Board (Guide) covers this aspect.
After you have laid your stretch of tracks, you can build the first station, Ealing Gardens. Of course, you need board approval for building stations as well.
The Rhythm of the Railway
The progression towards building a new station typically goes in these steps:
- Have a board meeting to approve laying of tracks
- Lay the first stretch of tracks (see The Next Stretch of Track for which resources you need, depending on terrain), encounter an obstacle
- Call in a board meeting to remove the obstacle
- Lay the rest of the tracks
- Call in a board meeting to build the station (see Convene a Board Meeting of the Great Hellbound Railway/Building a Station for options, most of the early ones require a Puzzling Map)
- Build the station (see The Next Stretch of Track/Build the station; most options cost 20 x Hinterland Scrip)
- Explore and develop the new station
Convening a board meeting is time-locked by Time, the Healer. Until you have built the last station at Marigold, you get two board meetings per week, after that one per week. This means it takes at least three weeks to build two stations.
Unless you want to draw out the process, it is thus advisable to finish your two board meetings (and maybe the following actions like building tracks and stations) before Time, the Healer visits you.
In board meetings, you can also propose to increase the train qualities Train Luxuries, Train Defences and Train Baggage Accommodations. When you convince your board to do it, it also raises In Corporate Debt. When corporate debt raises above 5, it blocks you from any further actions that raise that quality.
Effect of Railway Qualities
In Corporate Debt
The quality In Corporate Debt is raised when the railway needs to spend money, for example for building a station or raising Train Defences. When it gets too high, you cannot do those actions anymore. The rough assumed price is about 5 echoes per CP of In Corporate Debt.
At level 5 or higher, you start drawing the A Word From Your Creditors card in London, which is not dismissable.
To lower corporate debt, you can (not an exhaustive list):
- Invite the Tentacled Entrepreneur to the Board, -15 CP, +10 Hinterland Scrip. You have to remove him in your next board meeting before you can invite him again
- Same with Invite the Gracious Widow to the Board, except that it also increases Seeing Banditry in the Upper River by 5 CP
- Bring His Amused Lordship back to the Board, but only reduces by 10 CP
- Raise funds for the railway in the Board Room, turns 5 x Rumour of the Upper River and 1 x Jasmine Leaves into a 3 CP reduction.
- If your club is The Parthenaeum, its associated opportunity card has the option Drum up a few investments for the Great Hellbound Railway, which costs 12 x Rumour of the Upper River and reduces In Corporate Debt by 6 CP.
Additionally, you need Train Defences of at least 3 when you want to deploy your train in the Parabolan War.
Train Luxuries unlock or give bonuses for some actions in some Upper River locations:
- Forget the biscuits, take the Solacefruit at Helicon House requires luxuries at 4.
- Sell Unprovenanced Artefacts at Jericho Locks a 1 x Hinterland Scrip bonus per luxuries level.
- Invite your companions to investigate Infernal Fashions from the Clay Tailor's opportunity card gives 10 x Jasmine Leaves per level of luxuries.
- Serving up dishes at Station VIII gives a 1 x Hinterland Scrip bonus per luxuries level.
Train Baggage Accomodations
Train Baggage Accommodations unlock or give bonuses related to smuggling items between London and the Hinterlands.
Of particular note, it unlocks the following actions:
- Sell an Infernal Machine to devils requires accommodations 1.
- Export the Skeleton of a Neathy Bird by The Dumbwaiter of Balmoral requires accommodations 3.
- Sell all your Jasmine Leaves via the contacts of the Gracious Widow on the same card requires accommodations 3.
- Smuggle in industrial materials on Engage in Some Minor Smuggling requries accommodations 4.
- Inviting Chuffy (for stags) and Selling unearthly fossils become more rewarding
Tracklayers' Displeasure generally increases when you build tracks and do not choose the "keep your workforce well-fed" option. To decrease it, you can play Present the union members with a good-will gift at any of your stations (except the last).
Tracklayer's Displeasure makes some Persuasive checks harder, notably when talking to the leaders of the tracklayer union, or when changing their leader. It does not lead to work stoppage or other severe mechanical effects.
|Next station||Railway Steel needed||Accumulative Steel needed||Obstacle|
|Ealing Gardens||30 or 40||30-40||Non-existent block|
|Jericho Locks||30 or 40||60-80||Excavation|
|The Magistracy of the Evenlode||40 or 60||100-140||Worker's Strike|
|Balmoral||60||160-200||Hellworms or Train through parabola|
|Station VIII||32||192-232||Bridge Troubles|
|The Hurlers||30||282-322||Board in disarray|
|Marigold Station||30||312-352||Tracklayers City|
When laying tracks, you'll either support the prehistorisists, the emancipationists or the liberationists. These choices will affect the kind of tracklayer's city you can build, as well as difficulties on several actions and immediate rewards.
|Faction||Additional cost||Effect(s)||Action changes|
|Supporting the Liberationist Tracklayers||5 x Perfumed Gunpowder, sometimes 1 x Hillmover||Advancing the Liberation of Night: increases||It gets harder to reduce darkness in some locations and/or reducing LoN. It gets easier to sell Perfumed Gunpowder to liberationists.|
|Supporting the Prehistoricist Tracklayers||25 x Survey of the Neath's Bones||Provides various bones|
|Supporting the Emancipationist Tracklayers||5 x Basket of Rubbery Pies||Lowers Tracklayers' Displeasure||It gets easier to sell Corrective Historical Narrative to emancipationists.|
Getting a station built usually costs 20 x Hinterland Scrip and an easy board meeting.
Tracks to Ealing Gardens
After the first one, you encounter an obstacle: a non-existent block. This unlocks Artisan of the Red Science, but also sets you back. You can either work through it, if you have an Impossible Theorem (which is not consumed), or have to build around it, requiring another track laid.
Once in Ealing Gardens, you should check out the exclusive Helicon House and the butcher's shop. Helicon is discovered with either opportunity cards or by spending Investigating.... More info can be found at Helicon House (Guide)
You can raise Ealing Gardens Commercial Development at the Offices of the Tracklayer's Union: Ealing Gardens Branch, which unlocks the butcher, which gives repeatable access to some bones that are useful for building skeletons at the Bone Market. If you give the butcher a Device for the Duplication of Bones, you can get those bones without killing the animals, though it costs some raw materials, usually Bone Fragments and Nodule of Warm Amber.
Tracks to Jericho Locks
- 5 x Perfumed Gunpowder
- 25 x Survey of the Neath's Bones
- 5 x Solacefruit, 5 x Basket of Rubbery Pies, Cellar of Wine
The obstacle this time is the remains of a prehistoric creature. You may either pave over the remains, or you may excavate it. Either way, you need board approval.
Excavating costs some extra food items, but provides some interesting lore. Paving over is less expensive, so doesn't increase In Corporate Debt as much, doesn't need as much convincing the board against own financial interests.
Once you've reached Jericho, you might want to take a visit to the canals there, with Canal Cruising in Jericho Locks (Guide).
You might also build a library, where you can Do Research.
Tracks to the Magistracy
This location requires another 4 stretches of tracks. In addition, you have a choice between two routes. If you have a Cartographer's Hoard you can go by the hills or otherwise by the plains. It takes 60 Steel to go by the hills versus 40 with the plains. Going by the plains will also cost Hinterland Scrip. The obstacle this time is a worker's strike. You may either pay the workers, give the workers a part of your company or you may just say no and take a hit to tracklayer's displeasure.
The route you take to the Magistracy which of two options to use Survey of the Neath's Bones is available to you, but the difference is very small, and you could add a short line to gain access to the other side if it's important at a later point.
Once in the Magistracy you will begin to hear rumours of a certain Clay Highwayman. More on that in Balmoral. In addition, A Day in the Life of a Novice Policeman will open after using some actions in branches in the Magistracy. This lets you discover a special area once it reaches 10.
Tracks to Balmoral
This location requires another 4 stretches of tracks. It takes 60 Steel to go by the hills, in addition to other supplies. The obstacle this time is a mountain side, which either has to be dug with Hellworms or you may choose to have your train transported through parabola instead. Having your train go through Parabola is beneficial when fighting Parabolan Wars, so this should be worth considering. This can be built in hindsight, however.
Once you've reached Balmoral there are several things happening. A first priority should be crowning a castellan with a board meeting, as this allows you to get a weekly item worth 125 Scrip. Other things worth considering is to build a Cabinet Noir as this is a requirement for Khaganian Intrigue in Khan's Heart. In addition to this, you may discover the Clay Highwayman's lair (which lets you steal Railway Steel directly instead of making it yourself, but at a pretty steep action cost) and learn more about Cornelius.
Things to check out related to Balmoral:
- Cover Identities (Guide), building cover identities in your Cabinet Noir
- Moonlit Woods (Guide)
- Painting in Balmoral (Guide)
Once you have built your Cabinet Noir, you can also track down Cornelius. You can tell he's important by him having a proper name, and tracking him down gives you more options in some of the upcoming obstacles.
Tracks to Station VIII
From now on, stations require less tracks. You only need 32 tracks in order to reach Station VIII (or St8tion for short) This location requires only 3 stretches of tracks. The obstacle this time is that Furnace Ancona is abducted, and you need to find a new (temporary) leader of the tracklayers. This could either be a tracklayer that is most likely a representative of Mr Fires, but if you have gotten to know Cornelius, he's another choice.
Once you've reached St8tion you should (probably) try to find Furnace Ancona. This will lead to getting to know more of the Bazaar's agreement with Hillchanger, and you will eventually be able to restore Furnace, or keep your temporary leader of the trackleaders, should you wish to do so. Mechanically, it allows you to unlock and/or increase Steward of the Discordance.
In order to use St8tion more efficiently, you must first restore it, and subsequently discover different areas inside the factory by breaking into it. Once you have discovered the dirigble mast, this allows you to raise your Watchful cap to 215 and then to 218, compare Raising Attribute Caps (Guide).
Other things to do in St8tion includes cooking. See A Kitchen for Artists (Guide) for more information about this.
Tracks to Burrow
You only need 30 tracks for each station from now on. The next area on the Railway is Burrow, a place in the middle of nowhere. That is, until you build a church there. This involves many expensive steps and can be read about in A Church in the Wild (Guide).
Of course, before you actually reach this station, there's another strike. The way to deal with this will depend on your leader of the Tracklayers. Anything from making the stations brighter to making a tracklayer mammoth. Yes, you read that correctly! (If you want to go that route, Cornelius must be the leader of your tracklayers, and you need a Mammoth Ribcage on hand in the board meeting where you resolve the blockage).
Tracks to Moulin
The next area on the Railway is Moulin, a small village which makes it profits by doing expeditions into the wastelands. That is, until you arrive and the Bazaar messes up everything. By helping the local community, you will get access to Moulin Expeditions (Guide) and eventually also monographs.
This time, you have a choice about which station to build; this choice influences how easy or hard it is to convince certain board members to approve. There are no long-term mechanical consequences to this choice.
Of course, before you actually reach this station, you have to deal with Hillchanger again. This time the obstacle comes up when building the station, not while laying tracks. To resolve it there are several options:
- you could have at least three "not entirely human" human board members ( The Tentacled Entrepreneur, The Bishop of Saint Fiacre's, The Drummer, Virginia, The Rubbery Yes-Man, and The Viscountess)
- You could have 3 experts of history ( Sinning Jenny, The Gracious Widow, His Amused Lordship, Feducci, The Bishop of Southwark, The Dean of Xenotheology, The Delightful Reverend, The Wandering Gondolier, The Hell-Scarred Gondolier, The Wry Functionary, The Dauntless Temperance Campaigner and The Implacable Detective)
- You could have the Calendar Council (at least three of Jovial Contrarian, April, September, January, July).
- You could spend 10000 x Moon-Pearl
Tracks to The Hurlers
The next area on the Railway is The Hurlers, a cold wasteland in the wilderness. Here you will be able to build a spa, do investigations in the ice and eventually learn more of *Redacted*.
That is, if you can deal with your board suddenly getting in disarray and some laboratory investigations related to this. This happens when you are proposing a plan for track towards The Hurlers. To be prepared, it is handy to have the following on hand:
- The Numismatrix as a researcher in your lab
- Justificande Coin
- a Cave-Aged Code of Honour and/or The Censored Census of 1862
Once you have gone through with it (trying to avoid spoilers here), a living story will start, and 24 hours later, you can finish it, and then actually build the tracks towards your next station.
After all the hubbub in the first board meeting, you do not need another board meeting to build the station at the Hurlers,
Tracks to Marigold
The next area on the Railway is Marigold Station, by the walls of Hell itself. Congratulations, you made it! Well, you'll first have to give the tracklayers a city of course.
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