Thursday, February 21, 2013

From London To The Hollow Earth

Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett's "Boilerplate":
The Vision for Vanadine Ironsides

The other big game - big as in 6 hours of play - that I ran at Con of the North was a marathon session of the Leagues of Adventure RPG, a steampunk RPG driven by the Ubiquity engine. The scenario was divided into two parts, the first of which was a two hour session set in London. In that session, the PCs were recruited by one Nathaniel Walker, the younger brother of the notorious filibustero William Walker, for a rescue mission to the Hollow Earth. 

Treason Broadside source:
This was an alt history game. In this 19th Century, the American Civil War was a three way battle between the Union, the Confederacy, and the revolutionary Black Republic formed after John Brown and Harriet Tubman's successful raid on Harper's Ferry. (See Terry Bisson's Fire on the Mountain for my inspiration.)

Ed Harris as William Walker in Alex Cox's "Walker"
In this 19th Century, William Walker's second expedition to Central America was really an expedition to the Hollow Earth. He departed for there in 1859. The current year was 1861. After receiving a mysterious letter from his older brother written on a strange, scaly/leathery membranous parchment, Nathaniel Walker was determined to either rescue his brother from the Hollow Earth, or bring back evidence of his death (there is the matter of an inheritance to consider, after all).

Enter the PCs, a motley crew of Americans and Britishers, with one metallic French citizen and a Ruritanian military officer thrown in for good measure:
  • Fury Grummersum, a British big game hunter and gourmand in search of Big Reptilian Meat; he was a member of the Epicurean Society
  • Lady Cornelius, an female member of the Brittanic Ladies' Speculative Society, whose player-created background has more than a little in common with the late Kage Baker's Nell Gwynne's Scarlet Spy
  • Doctor Crisis, an American inventor of intelligent automata and a member of the Armorers' Guild of Philadelphia
  • Vanadine Ironsides*, one of Doctor Crises creations who escaped from him on a tour of Europe, secured refuge and citizenship in France, and has now patented himself. Vanadine Ironsides belongs to The 1848 Society, a League of anarchists, socialists, and advocates for the emancipation of the working class.
  • Lieutenant Rudolf of Ruritania, one of the numerous and not-yet-united German statelets, and a member of the Dueling Club
  • Mays, a daring American female aviator from the Eccentric Society 
  • Nathaniel Walker, an American and a member of the Hollow Earth Society
The "Leagues" in Leagues of Adventures refers to the fact that each character belongs to some kind of social, political, reform, service, or academic club or society. This gives PCs access to additional skills and resources. Each character also had a henchman, a lesser NPC who was played by another player in the group. Some of these included: 
Svejk illustration by Josef Lada
  • Pepe, Fury Grummersum's personal chef
  • Schultz (yes!), a rather Svejk-ian "mule/gopher" 
  • Nigel, a highly effective bomb-throwing anarchist (everyone should have one of these)
  • Pip, a street urchin
The players' charge in the first two hours was to steal a Royal Air Navy airship. This would facilitate the journey to Central America where there was an opening to the Hollow Earth. The PCs succeeded. A lot of explosives were used. On a police station. That created quite a distraction. In the process,  the PCs disrupted the airship factory's extensive use of child labor. 

I think even Charles Stross might have approved of this adventure. Well, maybe.

More to come!

*This character was not only inspired by "Boilerplate"; it was inspired by "Take Your Time, Gentlemen" an amazing JonCon '08 convention scenario created by Jon Cazares. 

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