[HfL] Heir to the Spy Throne

Started by Sebastian K. Hickey, August 13, 2010, 11:24:35 AM

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Sebastian K. Hickey

"What about family of royal spies?" That was the question that got me buzzing at the tabletop.

I wanted to put this up a few weeks ago, to be all zeitgeisty. But after I released my game I felt really, really tired, as though someone had replaced my bones and brain with soggy Weetabix. Did you feel like that after you released your first game?

"Okay, so we're a family of royal spies, on the run from the International Spy Bureau, trying to eradicate the puppeteers of global conflict."

That's the sort of twisted cheese that I enjoy in Hell for Leather. When you start the game you have to invent a scenario and an adversary (e.g. contestants on a televised blood sport). It seems to suit darkly comic, violent, action-film plotlines. For this game, we wanted to tell the story of the royal heirs to a "spy monarchy" (called the "ISB"), hunted by the same organisation because we would no longer permit their corruption. Yada yada.

If you want to play along, see below for the scenario and character details. If you dig through the characters there, you might see some fun clashes. Like, I was playing this snotty nosed, torturous scumbag who seduced his older brother's fiancée! I hated the character, but I loved playing him. Especially later on, during a rest scene, when I decided to try to reform him. I'll put that rest scene bit in a quote here, to show you how it played out:

QuoteI set up the rest scene so that my character, Jacques, who had already been exposed as a sonofabitch, looked like he was going to torture a child for information. We introduced Pierre into the scene, the character whose fiancée Jacques had once seduced. Pierre knew that Jacques was twisted. He also knew that torturing a kid for information was going too far.

In this scene, Christian decided to play his character (Pierre) as the loving brother. There was an undertone of "I forgive you" going on, which I thought Christian pulled off nicely. He drew on Jacques gripe (that he was beaten as a child) to try to persuade him to change his ways. That was a nice way to use the character's attribute as inspiration.

Finally, Pierre convinced Jacques to spare the kid, reminding Jacques that he was once a kid too, and that he once needed protection. It was very emotional. Sniff. After that, I got to change Jacques' Flaw from "Twisted" to "Overprotective of The Kid." It was cool to be able to turn my character from a shit-head into a hero. Cheesy, but cool fun.

Anyway, enough about my character. The game ran smoothly, mostly, except we all failed our rolls really badly at the start. That is, we ended up knocking over the Heat stack (the big tower of dice) loads of times, injuring all our characters really quickly, so that we had to roll with our off-hands for the rest of the game. To compensate, we used loads of Violence to get the bonus dice.

One of the funniest parts of the game is the two star violence rule in which you must describe at least one bodily fluid in your narration. It lead to eyeball juice being squirted everywhere, a spleen rupturing against a windscreen and, if I remember it right, a man weeping as he realised his impending death.

By the third checkpoint everyone had a chance to add narration and to stack dice, but we knew the end was nigh. In the space of three challenges, Daniel's character got frazzled while trying to disrupt the Hadron Collider and my Jacques got squashed by an enormous cog in an effort to protect him. That left Christian's Pierre.

He fought bravely, dying on the last roll. It was funny, exciting, and deadly, in a way that you can't really explain in 800 words. You know when you need that d20 to turn up as a 20... and instead you get a 1? It's the kind of catastrophic failure you deserve, you understand, and, with your hand over your eyes, you enjoy.

This was Christian's second story game experience. His comment afterwards was:

Quote"The thing that surprised me was how easy it was to learn the rules, and how you don't have to do any preparation...You get a lot of story covered in a really short time."

Daniel, who has played the game from the very beginning of the project (and is therefore horribly biased), told me:

Quote"One thing that's really, really great about this game is that even if you fail, it's still great fun. We all died in that game, and it was still awesome!"

Prologue: Spies, modern, action film
Adversary: International Spy Bureau
Gore Threshold: 5
Connection: ISB Royal Family (discovered that the ISB are puppeteering a massive global conflict)
Drop-Off/Destination: Siberian missile silo / Geneva Spy HQ

Checkpoint 1: Nuke ourselves!
Checkpoint 2: Steal €100 million!
Checkpoint 3: Destroy the Hadron Collider

(My character) Jacques LeGrand, the ginger haired interrogator kid, Flaw: Twisted, Gripe: Beaten by Phillipe, Talent: Manipulative.

(Daniel's character) Phillipe LeGrand, the thug, Flaw: Nasty, Gripe: Pierre embarrassed him in front of their father, Talent: Intimidation.

(Christian's character) Pierre LeGrand, the heir to the ISB, Flaw: Short-tempered, Gripe: Jacques seduced my fiancée, Talent: Hacker.