Sunday, March 20, 2016

[Castle Falkenstein] The Flight of the Liberté

The launch of the Paris-Constantinople "Oriental Express" airship route brings three Dramatic Characters together to convey a vital document - and foil a Dastardly Plot. The conclusion of this Adventure Entertainment.

We also spend the first 20 minutes or so discussing what we're going to do next.


And...Edie the Dog.


  1. ...and so goes another campaign on eternal hiatus. To be remembered and on occasion shortly entertained. But everyone in their hearts totes knows it's done for and over.

    I enjoyed the stories you told. The character creation session was such fun. I would not have minded one bit to finish the story, but sometimes a game gets in it's own way too much. Combine that with unfortunate scheduling issues and the poor thing never had a chance.

    Future options: All great ideas. Not that you're asking, but I'd love some Achtung! Cthulhu, followed by Delta Green, followed by CoC Britannica London and then Orient Express. Accompanied by biweekly 3 hour Neon Masquerade bonus episodes and other goodies. Please. :D

    1. It was really my own incipient burnout--for a variety of reasons, I just never clicked with this game, and every week felt like pushing a stone uphill just to get ready to run things. I ended up improvising about 80 percent of every session, which led to a lot of amateur mistakes and omissions. Not my best effort, I'm afraid.

      I did joke off-mic that if we ever went to a Patreon model, one of our top tier rewards would be letting listeners vote on what our next game should be. ;)

    2. The weight of running this game could be heard on your voice during the pre-game banters, but I thought the sessions themselves were good. The story was enjoyable even though the game mechanic was lacking.

    3. Yeah, it sometimes sounds as if the group would be happier with a more conventional simulation system - that whole "I can't act this scene because I don't have the right suits for this type of thing" in the early episodes was a stumbling block.

      Either that go or full-blown narrativist, where you step back into author mode and explicitly bend the story toward or away from what you want, like FATE.

    4. Aye, we've all got simulationist tendencies at heart, I think.

      We did discuss switching systems entirely, and that's certainly what I'll do if I ever run in the Falkenstein universe again (which I'd love to do). Your suggestion of FATE is a good 'un, Roger: there's a very detailed conversion out there, and even a deck of cards available, so the game could remain card-based.

      We also discussed giving HeroQuest a look...

    5. I think the FATE system is a really good fit for your group. It lends itself to players really throwing themselves into scenes and suggesting little bits of background detail that they then pull into the current situation. Also even if you don't have the "right" skills, you can use what you do have to try and create temporary aspects that other people can trigger for a bonus.

      I'm GMing an infrequent Warhammer Fantasy RPG (3rd edition) and it is going quite well. I don't think I can go as deep into the endless horror as you can, but we've done three sessions so far and my players are horrified any time I suggest splitting up, so it's clearly setting the right tone.

    6. I think that improvisation is probably necessary here, because the GM needs to be prepared to work the story around the cards that the players draw.

      The cards are a good idea in principle, but there needs to be some mechanism for enabling people to draw new cards so they can, you know, do things, and also to move the action along.

      Here's one quick attempt at a house rule, that's designed to provoke genre-appropriate wild desperate attempts that somehow succeed and tragic failures that scar heroes for the rest of their lives.

      1) You get your 4 cards as before.

      2) If you attempt something, the GM tells you the suit and number that you need.

      3a) At that point, you can either play an appropriate card if you have one OR
      3b) not do the action OR
      3c) you can draw a new card from the deck. This card counts as any suit, BUT you must attempt the action.

      4) If you fail under 3c above, and the GM rules that the failure had significant negative consequences (for the plot, for the character, etc.), then you can draw a new card and keep it until you play it, or for the rest of the story.

      The idea is that 3c actually becomes the main mechanic for resolving actions in play, and the 4+ cards that you have are more like focused hero points that players will (if the card is a good one) probably hoard until the climactic scene.

  2. "They have procedures for what to do if a passenger dies on board."

    I imagine everybody at the side of the airship looking down, with the captain saying, "We really didn't think this 'burial at sea' thing through, wot wot."

  3. You can tell when the GM is tired with a game when you arrive at the climactic conclusion only to find that your enemy killed themselves in a fit of idiocy.

    Shame about the system, but there was just so much fun to be had with everyone's characters that you should try to salvage the character creation system if nothing else.

    1. Character creation is great. I found story hooks for these characters just occurring to me: "A friend is worried that her husband is having an affair, but there's something else going on entirely. It's Lady Windermere's Fan - but Mrs. Erlynne is also a magic-wielding secret agent who's been sent by the British government to bring Ronan Lynch to justice!"

      Although I have a feeling that I might prefer to tone down the overt steampunk/fantastic elements: the fiction that it's trying to replicate is often about people from the "normal" civilized world encountering the strange and uncanny, and I think one loses something without complacent Victorian normalcy as a baseline.

      But a world in which the players are in The Prisoner of Zenda one week, Dracula the next, The Woman in White the week after that, then The Lost World - this has tremendous potential.

    2. "But a world in which the players are in The Prisoner of Zenda one week, Dracula the next, The Woman in White the week after that, then The Lost World - this has tremendous potential."

      Agreed, and that's what will likely bring me back to the setting if not the rules. And I agree that I think the steampunk and fantastic elements are probably better in small doses. That's part of what knocked me off-kilter--that lack of structural direction meant we ended up with a group of characters who were much more fantastic/steampunky than I probably would have otherwise directed.

  4. It was interesting that you commented at one point that the group hadn't ever played straight D&D, because the setting struck me as one where the contrast with D&D tropes was part of the point. Or skewing of D&D tropes - of the non-human races, only the pixies seemed really Victorian to me. The dwarfs in particular seemed to me to be Tolkien/D&D dwarves with steampunk/Victorian fairytale gloss.

    I'm half-tempted to wish that you had put straight D&D on your list of possibilities, just to see what experienced players who'd never encountered it would make of it. But if you don't already know the tropes and so can't send them up in the course of inhabiting them, it's not likely to be a lot of fun.

    1. "I'm half-tempted to wish that you had put straight D&D on your list of possibilities, just to see what experienced players who'd never encountered it would make of it."

      I imagine we will definitely tackle that at some point. This time around, I wanted all our choices to be rooted in horror, since we're desperately missing that genre experience. But when we're ready to cycle back around to fantasy-ish gaming, I'll make a strong push for at least a 10-12 session old school D&D campaign. I've got a ton of material I can tap, and I think it would be interesting to explore some tropes.

      (Incidentally, Schimpff and I just started participating in on online D&D 5e campaign that's starting up. The plan is to record those sessions, albeit for YouTube rather than the EoRP feed. I'll post a link if the DM is cool with that--I'll ask him next session.)

  5. having listened to RPPR's game of Upwind, I think that it may've been made from the same developer. I simply do not like the idea of being unable to do a certain task because you haven't a card for it. So weird.

    Very fun setting, very majestic and gentlemanly. I could see this done via BESM or such.

    1. Yeah, the setting really deserves another look. A BESM version is intriguing! I'll add that to my list of possible systems.