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flashgordon-serialGreg and I ran a Mythic session set in the 20’s – 30’s Planetary Romance, rockets and rayguns, retro-future. Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers in other words.

This report records more of the decisions made using the Mythic system, while still trying to retain some kind of narrative. As usual we used Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable to generate some of the big picture contextual material. We also used the Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors to generate names. This little baby is like a pocket Brewers: full of unrelated and entertaining snippets of information.

We, Nagar (Greg) and Verwoerd (me), were square jawed palace guards to the tyrant of Cisorium, Baron Ruthven. The baron had negotiated an arranged marriage for his daughter, princess Hygeia, to the son of King Franconi of Flamstead (pronounced ‘eed’, not ‘ed’). Franconi’s son, Consordino, and Hygeia had been on a ‘getting to know you’ meeting on the Island of Pleasures in the middle of Cisorium when forces unknown attacked and kidnapped the princess. Though Consordino survived, King Franconi was outraged and demanded that the princess be furnished for the wedding as scheduled or the alliance was off. To back this up a Flamstead fleet was dispatched, ready to launch invasion. ETA: two days.

CisoriumCisorium was typical planetary body for this setting: obscurely shaped, floating in an air filled universe. Vaguely resembling a gigantic cylinder, Cisorium’s main civilisation lived on one of the flat ends, a disc a few hundred miles across. The shaft of the cylinder was pitted with thousands of caves where the bestial Grodzisks lived. They attacked the end periodically, but were generally seen as irrelevant untermenschen. These creatures were believed to be the culprits for the abduction of the princess and therefore were responsible for the threat to the Cisorium’s liberty.

[This information was generated by a lengthy period of to and fro description. Greg and I took turns to propose the architecture of the world and the universe, the political structure and circumstances of our adventure. It all started from the central premise of kidnapped princess. We tested our impressions against each other, and if the other agreed with that image it became fact. Many elements did not come up once we were ‘playing the adventure’ but it was all informative background material. For example, Greg proposed that there were rumours of a Shangri La deep within Cisorium in the caves of the Grodzisks. We never followed this up, but just knowing that rumour told us something about the attitudes of the people and possibilities of the setting.]

Scene 1. Starting the mission.

So, dressed in grey and red uniforms, complete with shiny boots and jodhpurs (Greg supplementing this with a black leather jacket) – mmmm, fascist retro-future fashion – we prepared to bust a few heads for the baron. We refreshed ourselves with general knowledge about the Grodzisks.

[Do the Grodzisks really ever kidnap people? 50/50, chaos 5. Roll 49. Yes they do but it is very infrequent.]

[Has anyone ever escaped from them? 50/50, chaos 5. Yes they have – Roll 22: random event. Move away from a thread/A path.]

[The main thread we were investigating was Grodzisk abduction and escape, so we figure that this event is about that.]

A man dressed as a worker (blue overalls, Metropolis style, he even had a spanner) appeared at the door of our barracks. He claimed to have information that might help us find the princess in the Grodzisk caves because he had escaped from there himself. There was something about his behaviour that did not seem right so we pressed him for more information about this escape.

[Brewers roll gave us ‘Fanning’, as in: fanning a revolver to shoot fast. This is a Hollywood move, not a real one.]

So his story of over powering the creatures and shooting his way out sounded too cinematic to be real. We pushed him harder. He then told us that he was a former servant of Consordino who witnessed the abduction. Then he and everyone else were sacked and dumped in the gutter.

[Did the Grodzisks do it? No.]

I called the Secret Police to hold him for further questioning while we continued our investigation.

Scene 2. The Island of Pleasures.

The island was a volcanic plug in the middle of a water filled volcanic crater lake in the centre of the flat end of Cisorium. The inner crater walls were dotted with the mansions of the rich and famous, peeking out between the lush vegetation. The island was densely vegetated with thousands of paths that weave their way to sheltered picnic spots, secluded grottos, temples, pavilions and bathing pools. The weather was probably regulated, now that I think about it.

As we approached the central palace on our rocket cycles the radio, a hand held box on a spiral cord, informed us that we could not land there. Due to maintenance we were instructed to land behind the main hangar. Then the signal was cut off.

Landing behind the gigantic, zeppelin capable hanger, we found ourselves in field. A few hundred yards separated the jungle edge from the hanger. A ditch ran down the middle of the field. Grass grew tall, clearly mown periodically, now about knee height.

[Time for some Brewer’s inspiration. To crack a bottle. meaning: party, gathering, celebration]

We noticed the remains of a picnic hamper. It was broken open and the contents strewn about as if it had been dumped, possibly from a height. As we are investigating the hamper looking for clues we heard gunfire. It was old fashioned projectile weapon gunfire. This was significant as there are detectors that can analyse energy rays and find out all about them. Bullets, however, are untraceable.

[Are we being shot at? 50/50. Critical yes. Greg has been hit. 50/50 chance.]

phonedialThe bullet catches Nagar in the shoulder, spinning him round and throwing him to the mud. At the jungle’s edge a bunch of figures emerge, charging towards us, firing on the run. I hoist Nagar over my shoulder and leg it to the hangar. There I chuck him into the handy rejuvenation chamber (no place of industry should be without one). The rejuvenation chamber was similar in shape and size to a phone booth. On the outside was a rotary dial selector. Beside it was a long printed menu of options. For example, 2253 will replace lost hair. 2279 will repair cavities in teeth, and so on. I dialed 7468 – combat induced non-cauterised deep puncture wounds – and went back to the hanger doors to see what was happening.

No less than eight, five limbed creatures were crossing the field at frightening speed, shooting as they came. Bullets clanged on to the walls of the hangar.

[Were the attackers humanoid? Critical no.]

There were definietely not Grodzisks. They were Pargana, perennial pest and foe to human kind.

The rejuvenation chamber went ‘ding’ and out stepped Nagar, good as new.

Together we drew our radium pistols and calmly gunned them down before they could close.

[Here we used the basic Role Play (BRP) Opposition table after fist randomly establishing how good we were with the weapons. I had a score of 12 (from a simple d20 roll) and Greg had 13. The Pargana were good, so Greg assigned them a defense of 14. We rolled as they approached, rolled well, and put them to the slaughter.]

Scene 3. The central Palace.

It was becoming clear that the Grodzisks were being set up as patsies for the abduction. The Pargana were often employed as mercenaries, but only by disreputable regimes, for disreputable purposes. They were untrustworthy. Pargana stood roughly eight feet tall on their solid running legs. Above this they had three functional arms which allowed them to shoot, conduct melee and hold a walkie talkie all at the same time. Formidable foes indeed.

We piloted a levitating tractor up to the palace through the winding jungle paths. Externally, the palace resembled a gigantic collection of native huts with thatched roofs. Inside it was all gleaming brass and polished mahogany, stylised internally lit lotus feature windows, and triumphant archways. At first we perceived no one around.

[However, we rolled an Altered scene and got Carelessness, A plot.]

antique_radio_microphoneA closer look showed that there were bodies behind sofas and crammed into spaces. They had been shot and slaughtered in a variety of ways. The ‘clean up’ had been sloppy. Blood pooled in places. Most unsavory.

We made straight for the radio room where we discovered the sparkie’s body slumped over his desk. The valves  were still warm and the speakers live. We grabbed the microphone and tried to call back to base.

[Did we successfully make the call? Very likely. No!]

Someone had cut the cables to the aerial up on the roof.

Scene 4. Outside, we searched for tracks or other clues that would lead us to the where the attackers went.

[Altered scene. Altered, Release evil.]

A roar alerted us to the atack. The creature was huge: a lizard made of claws an muscle. It crashed through the jungle towards us, clearly having been left by the invading Pargana in order to patrol the area and destroy any pursuit.

I fired my radium pistol at it, but it seemed to do no good. Before we had a chance to get off more than a couple of shots it was on us, snatching Nagar up in its jaws. He shoved his pistol up its nose and blasted its brains out. Even then I had to hack with sword and the desperately injured Nagar bashed it with his electroduster. (The electroduster, or electronux, is a powered gauntlet. Violin-style tuning keys run up the arm allowing the wearer to adjust the electrical discharge, the weight of the fist, and the density of the field.)

[We used BRP to resolve the combat.]

Again fireman lifting Nagar to the tractor, I turfed him into the rejuvenation chamber back at the hangar, this time dialing 2483. In less time than it takes to reconstitute a three course meal from a food pellet Nagar was back on his feet.

Scene 5.

6a00d8341bf7f753ef00e54f211c4f8833-800wiWe searched the bodies of the pargana we had killed earlier, finiding the homing device that they used to find their ship. It was a box with flashing lights that light up when pointed in the right direction – like a silent geiger counter. We followed it till we found the parked rocket. Six pargana guards paced the perimeter.

[Altered scene. Carelessness, Outside.]

But the guards were slack and soon settled into a huddle on the far side of the clearing. We geared the tractor, dropped a brick on the accelerator and while the guards hared off after it we stole up the gangplank.

Once inside we clanged along the corridors until we found a set of interior hatch windows. Through them we could see a cargo bay with a long ramp leading to the outside. Pargana workers were wheeling up carts full of ore. We could see that they were Fire Diamonds, a rare gen caused by extreme volcanic conditions. Apparently there was a hoard on Cisorium, located underneath the Island of Pleasures. So that was what was so important. But who could have wanted it so bad that they broke up the royal wedding?

Nagar switched on his automatic camera to record the scene.

On the far side of the bay we could see a high balcony. At the balcony edge stood pricess Hygeia, her hands tied behind her back. And beside her stood none other than prince Consordino. As we watched he was talking to the princess who flinched away from the repulsive dog. The plot became clear to us. King Franconi and his son had learned of the Fire Diamond hoard and had plotted a royal alliance in order to exploit it. But when the princess had learned of the true motives Consordino had called in the mercenary lizards, kidnapped the princess himself and so had set in motion the imminent invasion of Cisorium. And he gets the princess as well. What a swine!

Before our eyes, Consordino dragged Hygeia off, and we knew that no-good was about to befall that gentle creature.

Scene 6

We dashed to the rocket control room and using our handy allen keys opened panels into the bread-board and valve wiring. We stripped a couple of wires with our useful pocket knives short circuited the controls to blow up the ship. After a moment’s thought we set up a timer for ten minutes. That should give us plenty of time to find the princess, battle the guards and escape before the rocket and the surrounding jungle are vaporised like a tiny sun with the mighty power of the atom, we figured.

[Do we set the up everything correctly? Critical no! To add spice I check my watch for real-time ten minutes. Greg and I had to start talking and acting fast to beat our own silly deadline.]

Alarms go off all over the rocket as it is detected that the wiring had been tampered with. Pargana swarm around banging and dogging blast doors, but they pay us no attention, presumably because they assumed we were part of the Flamstead military.

[Do we find the princesses stateroom? Yes, but only just.]

The metal door was bolted closed from the inside.

Nagar powered his electroduster to eleven(!) and smashed in the door. With three mighty bashes the door was thrown aside. When we stepped inside we were confronted with a blood quickening scene. Consordino held Hygeia cruelly by the wrist. She was in obvious pain. Tears welled in her eyes and worst of all her dress was ripped at the shoulder. By gum that Consordino was a cad of the highest order. It was obvious that he was in the process of forcing his attentions on that delicate creature.

Incensed with rage I jumped forward, sword in hand, but Consordino was too good for me. His own sword defeated my coarse attack and wounded me in the shoulder.

“No time for fancy stuff,” said Nagar and deftly stoved in the prince’s  skull with his still overcharged electroduster.

[Combat using BRP.]

We three sprinted to the picture windows and out onto the balcony. There we found a warm rocket cycle, which we boarded and roared away upon (precisely nine minutes and 45 seconds real time later).

Fa-boom.

Scene 7. Wrap up.

Nagar used the rocket cycle radio to contact base and report. The Flamstead fleet was called off from attack. But king Franconi insisted that Consordino was trying to negotiate the release of the princess, and was not involved in the scheme. His lies were exposed when Nagar held up his micro camera (only the size of a coffee mug) that had recorded everything to the walkie talkie and projected the recorded images to base.

Franconi was revealed as a double dealer and his son was revealed as a bounder. Strong men shook their heads and turned away when they read the news in The Times the next day.

Princess Hygeia’s virtue and person were saved, and life on Cisorium continued untroubled by general war. A great and successful mission all around.

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