An Excellent Vintage
I had four players for this game, all of them women. I was a bit surprised by this, since I was rather expecting a WWI era pulp game to be more of a draw for men than women. Two other players had pre-registered for the game, but didn’t attend. (Aside – shame on you guys! If you aren’t going to attend a pre-reg game, go and drop it so someone else can register!). Of the characters, I found it interesting that the two who were NOT played were the ranking officer and the senior NCO.
I had originally planned this as a somewhat hardboiled pulp adventure, with unrepentant beating up of the Kaiser’s huns in a death trap castle from a mad scientist.
Five minutes after we started playing, I could tell that wasn’t going to work. The player who had Tommy wanted to play a far more zany game that I had anticipated, and the player who played the nurse was right there with her. The other two players were swept up in it, and all of a sudden it was pretty clear that a far more madcap pulp game was what everyone wanted. They were all fired up about being at the convention, and they wanted to run wild!
So out the window went the horrible death traps, the pathos of the dying Kaiser’s soldier, the grim human experiments, and any sort of big moral questions.
The PCs were gathered together by British High Command, to undertake a mission into the heart of the Bavarian Alps. The Kaiser’s scientific experts had recently begun analyzing a 1600 year old bottle of wine and Intelligence Services was concerned that they were developing an agent that could destroy France’s supply of wine, demoralizing the French Army. The PCs were to infiltrate Castle Neushwanstein, where the investigation was taking place, and steal or destroy the bottle. In addition, the Boffins back in Jolly Old had been working on a Super-Soldier program, and had currently researched it to the phase of animal testing. This had resulted in Tommy, the talking dog, who was being sent along for field trials and analysis.
So the game started. The Australian Corporal (promoted to Sergeant in order to lead the expedition) decided that he wanted to DRINK the wine. Tommy was all excited to finally be going into the field, and the nurse wanted to prove her worth. The poor sniper just wanted to do his job and get home. The castle was filled with Mechanosoldaten and two-headed werewolves designed by the evil Doctor Dippel (I got some of my ideas from this article about the worst mad scientists in history – not for the faint of heart). Various characters got trapped, separated, thrown into death traps, etc. But eventually the wine bottle was secured and the party escaped in a convenient dirigible.
Only to discover that they were contaminated by some sort of monster fungus that had developed in the wine (did I mention that the Australian DRANK the wine? No? Oops) that stood to destroy not only France’s wine supply, but also THE WORLD! The game ended in the fiery destruction of the dirigible over Dresden, and the presumed death of all aboard. But no bodies were ever found (dum dum DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUM!)
This game reminded me again of why I like FAE, despite having never much liked any of the Fate products that proceeded it. Above all, FAE is simple! It is easy to grasp by players who have never seen, heard or, or even imagined anything remotely LIKE the FAE system. You can pretty well understand the whole thing after 5-10 minutes of explanation and my feeling (after trying both FAE and FATE Core) is that there is very little in terms of roleplaying that you CAN’T do in FAE that requires the extra complexity of FATE Core. (for a good example of something that does, see the “Blue Rose” posting on day 3).