The year is 1583. Elizabeth I (Good Queen Bess) has sat on her throne for 28 years but her reign is under constant threat from within and from without. Abroad the Spanish King is rumoured to be preparing for the invasion of England. The Papal Bull Regnans in Excelsis has excommunicated the Queen of England and labelled her heretic. The Pope has not only excused the people of England
from obeying Elizabeth but excommunicates any who do obey her. Catholic plotters are given carte blanche to plot against the Queen and her counsellors to the extent that assassinating the Queen is seen as a holy act.
The Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) have begun to target England, smuggling priests into the land for the succour of the Catholic faithful who remain under Elizabeth’s reign. These priests are regularly hunted and executed as spies as they are seen as agents of the Pope intent on over throwing Elizabeth.
Meanwhile Mary I of Scotland (Mary Queen of Scots) is held in confinement at Sheffield Manor. For many Catholics Mary is in fact the rightful Queen of England (rather than the bastard Elizabeth) and significant plots around assassinating Elizabeth freeing Mary are uncovered every few years. Protecting he Queen are her counsellors and foremost amongst them are The Lord High Treasurer William Cecil (Lord Burghley) and her Principal Secretary and ‘spymaster’ Sir Francis Walsingham.
In this game the players will take the part of confidential agents in the employ of Sir Francis Walsingham seeking out threats to Queen Elizabeth (and by definition to England). Walsingham’s spy network was a loose association of individuals from all parts of society and even included a number of known criminals. The simple fact is Walsingham didn’t care so long as you worked against the enemies of the state. Thus players may be from any walk of life and may be of any background or nationality or religion (for instance it is suggested that Giordano Bruno, an ex-Dominican Friar, spied for Walsingham during his time in England).