So, what nerdy business has been happening with The Quail and Sister Superior of late? What have I been doing, apart from presumably continuing work on my ruined buildings?
Well, a week or two ago the two of us went round to visit Kenny who had invited us over to play Star Trek Attack Wing. Sister Superior was a little nervous about this - her patience holds out for board and card games but full on wargames can sap at her a little. Still, Attack Wing is kinda Kenny's bag so along we went for one of several nerdy gatherings I've had in recent weeks. Below you'll find some rambling on Attack Wing, a Sherlock Holmes board game and my latest RPG shenanigans.
|I have a bit of a soft spot for the Romulans, who seem far smarter villains than the Klingon but get very little screen time in contrast.|
|Kenny's homemade planet looms as the ships come to bear.|
My Romulan Warbird swooped in under cloak and opened fire very early, only to be on the receiving end of a volley from both Kenny and Sister Superior. He managed to bash away at my hull and she was all set to deliver the follow-up, though thankfully at the end of the carnage I still had one hull point left
She did deal a critical hit, though, which meant I had to flip a card over from the critical deck...
...and with that I was out on turn two, ladies and gentlemen. I own this game at home but I'm unsure I can convince the missus to play again, since she quite enjoys having a 100% success ratio against me.
|Sister Superior makes her feelings clear.|
Speaking of not very competitive games...
|Not easilly replayable but a lot of fun|
|The contents of the board game, including booklets and news papers for ten different cases|
The best way I can describe this game would be an odd sort of RPG/choose your own adventure book hybrid with a somewhat more sandbox feel to the usual linear game book. The booklet gives you the start of the crime investigation process, showing you the first few pieces of evidence and presenting you with the first witness details. Based on this information you might want to visit people or places mentioned - or perhaps more generic visits like the Coroner's Office, the newspaper reporters or Huggy Bear esque underworld contacts.
Each location or person has a unique code and the booklets provide the data for if you go to that location. Go to visit the coroner in case one and they'll tell you what they found on the body - which will of course be different in later booklets since the case will be different. Some people don't appear in your booklet because they aren't relevant - the tobacconist isn't going to pop up in every case! - but you'll find a bunch of red herrings, loose ends and surprising connections are possible.
|Possibly a better adaptation of Sherlock Holmes than a lot of "real" Sherlock Holmes stories|
I mostly enjoyed this game, partly because I felt like a genius when I got a fact about the crime right but also because it produces a good party game equivalent to a "real" RPG that normals can wrap their heads around. The main issue with the game would be that it's not really re playable since each booklet has a "right" answer. Admittedly with ten booklets you could play once a week and not run out of game play for two months - and that's before you factor in the existence of fan-made supplements. Still, it's not really viable to play old quests again with new people unless you use something that affects your short term memory, you serve as some sort of gamesmaster to the other players or you use something that affects your short term memory.
Speaking of games mastering...
|I need do very little original thought for a Doctor Who RPG - the Big Finish audio stories give me a wealth of plot ideas to nick, such as this one.|
The players are following the trail of a TARDIS passing through the Vortex found themselves on a BBC quarry-style planet, the distant colony of Red Rocket Rising. Here they ended up teaming up with a scientist who had a secret laboratory that had gotten him thrown in jail, and a politician desperate to use that scientist's gear to contact off planet for assistance. A surprise asteroid collision had caused massive dust clouds that blocked sunlight and communication, turning the marginal colony world into a hellhole.
But don't worry, kids! That off planet contact gets an immediate response from a passing starship. They'd love to come down and help - they are used to extinction events, actually. One happened to their homeworld.
|Straight out of TV Action and the Dalekmania of the sixties. None of your Davros here, mate|
The mad scientist previously mentioned, Martez, does indeed have shenanigans in mind. An expert in bio-engineering and with a strong interest in humans surviving on difficult worlds, he came to this distant colony to quietly work on experiments genetically engineering humans who could survive better in harsh climates and require less terraforming. The crash of a Dalek ship provides him with a huge bunch of exciting new DNA and technological samples and from that he comes up with an idea of how humans could be made... better.
Unsurprisingly it involves sink plungers and egg whisks.
|The colour scheme of Martez's new Daleks. (Picture from Devious, a Doctor Who fan film group)|
The players ran around trying to prevent Martez from inventing a whole new army of Martez-built Daleks and the Imperial Daleks from carrying out genocide on the planet of Red Rocket Rising to prevent the spread of "tainted Dalek genes." The players ended up coming up with a bit of a time travel-specific solution, travelling in their TARDIS and preventing the base from crashing in the first place.
Problem solved, right?...
Nah, this just causes hilarious paradox since the group remember a totally counterfactual history. Especially when a single person and a Martez Dalek are amongst the people who leave the now non-existant time line, walking around being all paradox-y.
The group, led as they are by a trainee Time Lord who doesn't quite understand the implications of this yet, go off in search of who tried to cause the Dalek base to crash in the first place. Hot on the heels of this TARDIS, their next stop is London in the early renaissance. After a bit of IDing they work out that it's 1605 and early november.
Wait a minute...
|Guest-Starring Alan Rickman as Guy Fawkes and Idris Elba as Sabbath.|
After a bit of running around and some time befriending the world's most famous Catholic terrorist, they start scanning for evidence of future technology and find that there's a TARDIS secreted in the tomb of St Paul's Cathedral. The Reader breaks in and finds it's been decorated in a goth style, all black with bone and ivory details.
It's also home to a Time Lord called Sabbath, and his companion - a Time Lord called... er.... Sabbath? Who has the same face as him even though they're different regenerations?
|Remember me? From the last Doctor Who Post? Well I have a name now...|
Things went a bit Animal Man as the players spoke more with Sabbath. We've ran a few Doctor Who games and although we've mixed and matched Time Lords and Companions we've never really bothered with "intro stories" to explain the new mixes - we just got going with The Doctor, The Minister of Chance or The Reader so we could get to the good bit. Sabbath claimed that all of these stories happened and that the fact the players couldn't remember how they met each other was in fact because they've been involved in Faction Paradox's plans before...
"Of course you can't remember why you left The Minister and started spending time with The Reader. This isn't the first time a Time Lord has interfered with us. We've had to deal with The Doctor, The Minister of Chance, The Corsair, Valentine... we've gotten very good at dealing with the opposition."
Thankfully the group still managed to save the day - they defeated one of the Sabbaths and stopped his regeneration from setting all the gunpowder on fire. Guy Fawkes was sent to complete his historically required fate... but the other Sabbath escaped, being rescued by a third Sabbath. The Reader and her companions went back to modern day Earth with computer files they stole from Faction Paradox to try and work out what they're up to - and how their on history has been messed by them.
While analysing the history of Earth they notice a weird phenomenon. Eleven days are missing from 1752 - though on closer examination this is just an oddity of the calendar caused by Britain moving from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. These 11 days don't REALLY exist, so they aren't missing.
But then, away from the players but for the benefit of the viewer, Sabbath mention they will go back now to Faction Paradox headquarters... the Eleven Day Empire.
Overall, Doctor Who seemed to go down OK- the players mostly seemed interested in playing it again, either with the existing system or moving to Primetime Adventures. Something Matthew was keen to try previously but I insisted we give the "real" system a longer play first. One possible problem was that Time Lord plus four/five/six companions is just a lot of people and some of them didn't get enough screen time - Ailsa and Matthew had clearer gimmicks for their companions, while Aaron and Dave often felt a bit fifth-wheel-like. Primetime Adventures might fix that somewhat though then we'd lose some of the combat crunch.
I think the Horror on Glam Rock, base under siege adventure was possibly the best and I really enjoyed the first parts of both the Dalek and Gunpowder Plot stories - though the second part of the Dalek story had a bit of a non-event ending when the players decided to solve things not with running up and down corridors but by making sure it was them that stole their dads keys. (Though in this case, they stole the keys a week before they went missing.)
I'd be curious to hear what my players think now they've had a few days to mull it over. Would we be up to playing a second block of this game? Are there any things you'd like to see in a second season? What rules-set should we use?