Ours is not the only existence – not the only time stream on which there is an Earth. There are others and, like the planets in space, there are an infinite number…
Luther Arkwright, Roleplaying Across the Parallels, is a supplement that has been developed for Mythras (RuneQuest 6), based on the worlds created by Bryan Talbot in his great comic strip from the 1980s. Back in the Imagine episode of the podcast, I pledged to convert The Fire Opal of Set, an adventure that appeared in issue 14, from Traveller to Mythras and run it at ConVergence, the new convention in Stockport.
The player characters are Valhalla agents, with special traits, who are sent to eliminate disruptors who are manipulating the time-streams with various nefarious schemes.
It came round faster than I anticipated and the conversion required more work than I appreciated (I’d forgotten the effort required when creating Mythras pre-gens and NPCs), but on Saturday I had a fantastic time, overcoming my recent GM doubts to participate in a cracking 6 hours.
The success was down to the original scenario written by Bryan Talbot and James Brunton as it’s an incredibly inventive, full of imaginative twists and turns, and down to the players, who were all very engaged with the their characters and were up for having fun in the story.
Here’s my 6 part digest of what happened – 5 great moments, and a duff fumble – that’s the format.
1.Escalation Dice – The scenario sets up a race against time as they have to seek the FireFrost codex which is concealed on a disruptor knight known as Monkton. The FireFrost is a powerful weapon that threatens the very fabric of the multiverse.
The original scenario was intended to be run over several sessions, but this was a one-shot, so it needed forward propulsion to keep things moving. The player characters travelled through the time-streams via the TPV (a glorified TARDIS, but with pipes), otherwise known as ‘The Van’. It’s a precious bit of kit, so it would disappear if they didn’t get back in time, which would leave them trapped in time.
My big escalation dice made its debut appearance … they raced on quad-bikes – falling off and being attacked by wolves with human-like faces. Later, they defied the entropic effects of FireFrost that almost sent them plunging to the Earth from the charter flight. There were several races against time to make sure they reached the van. The big dice worked perfectly to create the tension as time counted down, encouraging them to move on to the next parallel.
2. 00-66-74 Post Urban Collapse
The team are in search of one of Monkton’s indigenous pawns by the name of Snorty Hargreaves in a London that has been affected by successive chemical attacks. The atmosphere is toxic.
The Thames is arid and the ruins of London are overgrown. Snorty is dead. They discover that he is a revered supplier of much needed drugs to the people of TomsTown.
Through questioning and slight of hand the team discover that his death has been faked and the drugs he is supplying the town are contaminated by poisonous substances.
A zither was playing as they made their exit.
3. 03-02-47 Cha-no-yu on a Dark Afternoon
After some bargaining, the team agreed to trade some of their precious luck points in exchange for additional ‘game changing’ equipment. This included a unique Hokusai print that is only available on one of the time parallels.
They arrived at a parallel where Japan dominated Earth and the disruptor pawn was the Emperor’s geisha. Fortunately, she had weakness for exotic items so they used the print to get into the Emperor’s Palace.
Following an elaborate infiltration scheme they avoided being drugged and ended up with the geisha slung over their shoulder as they made a getaway in a chopper.
They extracted the information they needed and reprogrammed the TPV to head towards their target!
4. 00-73-87 Puritan Protectorate Variation
The TPV was destroyed on appearance on the banks of the Thames.
They headed for The Maze, a rag-taggle buildings in a London where the fire of London hasn’t brought in ordered town planning… yet. Cut-throats, pimps and other n’er do wells gather in the mean streets.
A new NPC voice was added to my repertoire as I characterised Harry Fairfax (one of Luther’s contacts from the comics) as Danny Baker. He gave them a lead to Monkton and built up the tension, “He’s a crackshot, he never misses, I’ve seen him take out gorrillas!”
“He’s been out with a gorilla?” a player asked tentatively.
The sadistic and brutal abilities of Monkton filled the team with dread when they finally hunted him down to the Merry Widow, where he was stripped to the waist using a woman as human shield, with his mad piercing, blue eyes.
“His brown eyes are blue, the codex is hidden on a contact lens!” they realised as hell-fire broke lose as they tried to apprehend him.
5. The Valhalla Team
They managed to recover the codex and head to St Pauls’ Cathedral to Monkton’s TPV to return to Zero-Zero as incendiary devices ignited around the city.
It was a testament to the ingenuity of the players that they all managed to survive a deadly adventure using a deadly system. They were innovative in the application of their traits: The gadgetry of Vladek Kasyatkin got them out of some tight spots, Persephone McPherson’s analysis of drugs revealed the treachery of Snorty Hargreaves, Boston Singh nutted the geisha with his steel skull cap when she tried to drug them, Mycroft von Neuman devised schemes and launched grenades to provide cover for escape and, last but not least, Orlando Bridgeman*, the leader, used his slight of hand and tactical approach to give the team an impressive edge over the disruptors.
Thanks to Ed, Ste, Ian, Neil and Tom – it was great!
Also, thanks to Snowy and Kris for organising the event, Element Games is a good venue (with beer!) and highly recommended. I’m already looking forward to the next one!
6. Dice Loss
Every time I play somewhere away from home, I always lose a die, this time I lost 2 D12. At least I won’t miss them much.
*Interesting Bolton fact – James Brunton, the author of the scenario, lived in Bolton. Orlando Bridge is a railway bridge in the town!