Tonight was supposed to be our Shadowlands D&D 3.5 game, run by my friend Clint, but we had to cancel because one of the players is sick*. So, four of us were sort of at loose ends, looking for something to do rather than just call the evening off. I suggested some board games, but Clint asked if there was any one-shot I was prepared to run.
Now, running some one-shots is one of my goals with my change in gaming priorities, so I suggested possibly Mutant City Blues or Trail of Cthulhu, two games that I’ve been wanting to try, but haven’t got around to, yet. The problem was prep time; This was at about 1:00, and game time was 7:00. I didn’t have time to adequately prep the games, create characters*, re-read the adventure, and get back up to speed on the system, and also take care of the other stuff I have to do today.
And then I remembered Spirit of the Century.
Some time ago, I came up with and organized a Spirit of the Century Pick-Up League, with the bold plan of encouraging the play of the game in our group. We created characters, posted our character novels, and played a session. Everyone had a good time, and we agreed we should do it again.
That was more than two years ago. Life gets in the way, sometimes. But tonight was a great opportunity to resurrect the League, throw together an adventure, and play SotC again.
That’s what I did.
I broke some of the rules in the League Charter*, in the interests of time. I cribbed the adventure from the adventure design section of the rulebook, where they have the skeletons of five or six different adventures mapped out for the GM. And I didn’t send out an invite, both because of the time and because I wasn’t hosting the game. I cobbled together two pages of notes, shoved the rulebook and my Fudge dice in my bag, and away I went.
I started with the characters – Sky Knight, Artemis Argo, and Myra Hawkridge – going on the maiden voyage of the New Golden Hind*, a galvanic turbine driven ship designed by Dr. Hubert Toynbee. The ship, designed to run at a steady 70 knots and to withstand extremely rough seas, was going to make a crossing from Liverpool to New York, and the members of the Century Club were going to go along for the ride.
On my notes, this section of the trip took up about half a sentence. In play, it ran to about an hour, because everyone was having fun with the idea of the trip, and I kept elaborating on the ship, and playing up Toynbee’s intense scientist mode. So, we stuck with this bit for as long as people were enjoying it.
When I felt the time was right, and there was no more to explore on the ship, I moved on to the next scene: the terrible storm that wrecks the ship and strands our heroes (and a bunch of extras) on a mysterious jungle island in the North Atlantic*. There they found a cave for shelter, and spotted some old ruins up the side of an extinct volcano.
After getting shelters set up and water found and food gathered, our heroes took off to explore the jungle. They were called back to camp by gunshots, and found that velociraptors had attacked*, carrying off one of the sailors. Being pulp heroes, the characters set off into the jungle, following the trail. Along the way, they fought some velociraptors of their own, and some pterodactyls, and a sabre-tooth tiger*.
Then, of course, the Ultramegasaurus showed up and chased them. This was a (completely fictitious) dinosaur that was too big and fierce for them to actually hurt, but Argo used a great little feature of the game to declare that the thing’s vision was movement-based, like a frog or a T-rex, and he and Myra froze while Sky Knight lured it away.
When the group made it up to the ruins, where the trail led, they found a mostly-insane scientist had saved their sailor from the dinosaurs, and was trying to use him to bargain for a way off the island and away from the evil Dr. Methuselah – one of the game’s iconic archvillains, with the ability to use math to alter reality. It seems Dr. Methuselah was planning to bring through a host of Ultramegasauri through a time-gate that had already brought through other dinosaurs, smilodons, and the tropical climate*. As the poor deranged scientist was begging to be taken away, Dr. Methuselah solved him out of the reality equation, and he vanished.
Which led to the showdown in the time lab, which ended with Argo throwing a stone chair through the time machine and Sky Knight and Myra co-operating to decapitate Dr. Methuselah, thanks to their arcane or hyper-technological abilities.
Of course, that didn’t stop Dr. Methuselah from continuing to talk.
So they stuck his head in one box, his body in another, and, now that the time portal wasn’t messing with radio transmissions anymore, Sky Knight called in the Draco to pick everyone up and snow started to fall.
The game was a blast, and everyone had a lot of fun. I think that I’m going to have to start working to revive the League, have another character creation session for those that don’t have characters, and get things moving again.
Because I want someone else to run a game so I can play.
*Hope you feel better soon, Fera. Back
*Y’know, Pelgrane Press, some generic pre-gen characters for your GUMSHOE games downloadable from your website would be a great thing to add. Just sayin’. Back
*I made ’em, I can break ’em. Back
*It started out called The New Argo, but then Tom chose to play Artemis Argo, so that name didn’t work anymore, and I had to come up with a new one on the spot. I think I did pretty good. Back
*Yeah, I know. But it’s a pulp game, and when you get shipwrecked in a pulp game, it happens on a jungle island. And probably dinosaurs will show up soon. Anyway, I explained it in-game. Back
*See? Dinosaurs! Back
*I did mention this was a pulp game, didn’t I? Back
*Told you I explained it. Back