Arkham Asylum: Introduction

Below is a compilation of a Storium game. Published with permission of those involved. This first post is the background details provided to the players prior to the start of the game.

Welcome to The Elizabeth Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane. The premier psychiatric hospital of Gotham City. Located on the outskirts of the city, Arkham Asylum serves as home to numerous criminals considered to be either legally insane or that have unusual medical conditions which prevent them from staying in a regular prison. In the past, Arkham has not had the best record. Escapes were frequent and those who are ‘cured’ and released tended to re-offend. Several staff members, including at least one director, have ended up as residents. However under the direction of the latest Warden, Quincy Sharp, things are about to change…

History of the Bat

Ten years ago, Gotham City was changed forever when a masked vigilante started showing up in the night. No one knew if he was a friend or foe at first but, after one particularly long Halloween, Gotham City began to trust him. Over time, Gotham became synonymous with the Batman. His family of crime fighters has grown over the years and his presence has attracted other vigilantes to the city. The city has come to depend on his watchful protection. There is a darker element, for which some claim, the Batman is responsible. These odd psychotic villains were unheard of before Batman’s arrival. Ten years ago greed, corruption, and vice flooded the streets but it was run by street gangs or organized crime syndicates. These insane costumed adversaries of the Batman are a plague that many trace to Batman’s arrival in Gotham City. Cause or effect, the role that these villains and vigilantes have had on Gotham City is immeasurable.

Arkham History

On February 7, 1852, Cyrus Pinkney gave Amadeus Arkham plans to build the “greatest asylum the world has ever known”. Amadeus Arkham named the Elizabeth Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane after his mother, whom he euthanized as treatment for her dementia. Building it on the old grounds of his family’s historic mansion on the outskirts of Gotham City, Amadeus personally treated its first inmate — Martin “Mad Dog” Hawkins, who had killed Arkham’s wife and daughter. After administering fatal electroshock therapy to Hawkins, Amadeus lost all grip on sanity and was admitted into his own institution. This started a trend that would continue well into the asylum’s future. Ownership of the institution passed to Amadeus’s nephew, Jeremiah Arkham, who ran the Asylum until last year. A massive breakout, unlike anything in Gotham’s past, tore apart the island, killed Jeremiah, and resulted in the whole facility being condemned. The Blackgate Penitentiary became the defacto penal facility in Gotham City, hosting sane and insane patients alike. Riots were common before but after the closure of Arkham the overcrowding caused them to became far too regular. Discussions based on the idea of reopening the facility cropped up only days after Arkham was closed down. A month later Quincy Sharp, a political activist, revealed his intentions to reopen Arkham Asylum. His goal was to create a facility for Gotham’s most insane criminals unlike any that came before. Arkham Asylum has been up and running for eight months now and the patient listing is already intimidating. Over a dozen of Gotham’s worst are now housed in Arkham Asylum. Most of them are what Jack Ryder calls ‘Batman’s B-Listers’ but there are a couple notable inmates in the asylum. Victor Fries and Pamela Isley were among the first to be relocated due to their special containment requirements and Sharp’s willingness to build personalized cells.

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