Greg and I ran a fully open Mythic session the other night, starting with only a vague idea of the type of story we wanted to tell, and with only a general idea of the time period.

The main parameters were as follows:

  • Late Victorian Era.
  • Romanticised, though technologically historical (not steam punk).
  • Mystery.

Through a few Brewer’s searches we found:

  • Flanneur – a lounger or gossiper.
  • Palindrome – codes and ciphers.
  • God child.

From this we concluded that we were part of the idle class with contacts in fashionable clubs that feed us gossip. There was something to do with secret messages, which implied political intrigue. Finally, Queen Victoria was the God daughter of Tsar Alexander.

Therefore, a Russian contact in a club passed us a coded message. His dying words (of course) were that we had to get the message to the Queen. The message said, “Let all your views be only for the moment to amuse, to keep them in amazement and distraction.”

So far, so good. But who were we?

From Une we got:

  • Bankrupt Merchant – William Barlow. Supplier of uniforms to the military.
  • Dependable Officer – Algernon Plumbly. Low ranked officer in a not-very-fashionable regiment.

[Scene 1] We had no access to the Queen, of course, so we decided to visit London’s most famous mind: Sherlock Holmes. However (interrupted scene – Persecute Extravagance), outside the building there is a protest underway by Methodists decrying drunkenness and extravagance in fashion. As we tried to push our way through we were separated and Algernon (Greg) was knocked senseless. I (William) pursued as fast as I was able, finally clearing the crowd and following the escaping coach in another.

[Scene 2] At a Methodist Temple, Algernon was unloaded, but carried around the back. The back half of the building was used by The Modern Thinkers League, a group of radical Darwinists. Determined to brass it out, I entered the building and snooped around until I was discovered by a member. After a quick scuffle I knocked him out, found Algernon, and we made our escape.

[Scene 3] Algernon remembered his nephew at Oxford mentioning a Professor James Murray who was working on something called the Oxford English Dictionary. We make for the university to consult with the Professor, but (altered scene – Control Bureaucracy) we are held up in the outer chambers because the Professor is too busy to see us. “He has a new shipment of words and cannot possibly see you.” “But we have an important quote that we think he will want to see,” we claim.

Luckily the Professor overheard the conversation and invited us to his chaotic study. When we showed him the quote he identified it as Goethe and immediately pulls out a matching quote. This one spoke of a foolish king, and fleas.

At about this time Greg and I decided to change the scale of the action. There was probably not much more a couple of individuals could do. We decided to take our enquiries to the organisational level. Now we were representing entire government departments – nameless individuals orchestrating large movements of men and materiel.

This is what we concluded:

  • The note was given to William because he was a clothes dealer. It is about material. What material was England famous for? Wool.
  • The radical Darwinists put us in the mind of evolution and the development of new species.
  • Therefore, Professor Murray interprets the message to mean that a ship laden with French sheep, infected with a parasite hosted in fleas, was bound for English shores. If released, they would destroy the English wool industry. The message is spirited to the Horseguards, and the arms of the British Security apparatus swing into action.

[Scene 4 (for what it was worth]. The ship was (dice roll) 6 hours from port. A long night was spent in the department as the top minds orchestrated the strangest switch in history. There were no fifth-columnists on the ship – it all had to be done once it reached port. Consideration was given to sinking it mid-channel, but it would be too easily discovered.

Greg and I tossed around many plans, acting as if we had the resources of the Empire to draw from. Where necessary we made rolls to see if the necessary equipment would be ready in time – again, the ticking clock gambit.

[Scene 5] The ship pulled into dock and the sheep were unloaded down specially constructed ramps which were in turn roped off from bystanders by a good 10 feet (fleas can’t jump more than that, can they?) They were herded directly into large warehouse. As the doors closed them away from prying eyes the officers in charge of the cargo were taken to a nearby tavern to complete the paperwork. The warehouse had been carefully partitioned with good clean Leicester sheep in the other half.

After what seemed a natural period of time, the back doors where opened and the English sheep were herded out. Careful crowd control (a Mythic roll confirmed) that no spy had managed to see both the entrance of the carrier sheep and the exit of the clean sheep. Any subsequent observer would not know the difference.

Britain was kept free of the dastardly French diseased sheep. Hoorah!

And to rub salt in the wound, a week later a ship detailed to carry English sheep back in an exchange program was loaded back up with the same French sheep. So they got their own rotters back, and serves them right. We had planned to burn the warehouse to the ground, killing the animals and destroying the evidence. But this was a much more elegant (and humane) solution

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This was the first time that we tried moving the scale away from the individual character. We need to work out how to play that: how to generate questions and twists, but this experience has been enough to encourage me to try this again.

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