Thursday, February 4, 2016

Mr. Bates Goes to War - Getting Ready for Weird War I

(The perfect music for this blog post is "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" from the Bioshock: Infinite Soundtrack.)

If you thought Sea Lion Abbey would be my only role-playing blog post concerning Downton Abbey you were wrong.  I'm back, and ready to share more gaming love for the hit PBS Masterpiece Theater television show!  

Preparing for Weird War I 

Last night I found out that Pinnacle Entertainment Group is preparing to launch its next Kickstarter campaign: Weird War I.  If you've been living off the grid for the last decade, the folks at Pinnacle are the masterminds behind Savage Worlds, Deadlands, Rippers: Resurrected, and so many other awesome settings.  I'm a sucker for anything historical, and loved what Pinnacle did with both Weird Wars Rome and Weird War II.

World War I was a pivotal moment in world history, as it marked the violent end of Victorian era chivalry and the advent of the utter destruction brought about by 20th century war machines.  Trench warfare, air-to-air combat, zeppelin raids, poison gas, the devices of World War I were truly terrible, and their use would set the stage for World War II.  

For a complete and amazing historical experience about the Great War, Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcast does a tremendous job.  Blueprint for Armageddon (on iTunes) features 20-hours of incredible facts and details about the human experience during this revolutionary conflict.  


Whenever I come across a great Kickstarter for one of my favorite systems I look for a way to celebrate, spread the word, and do something unique.  This time could be really special, as it coincides with the last season of Downton Abbey, a TV show that takes place around the same time period!

Mr. Bates Goes to War

So here's the plan, and I'd love feedback and advice.  

[Disclaimer: I have not seen ANY preview materials for Weird War I.  This is solely MY crazy, deranged, way-too-far-over-the-top idea for a sweet RPG session.]

I want to set up and run an actual-play on G+ Hangouts On Air of something I'd like to call "Mr. Bates Goes to War."  If you don't know, Mr. John Bates is a character on Downton Abbey played by Brendan Coyle.  He's sort of a quiet, proper, British badass.  While several characters in Downton Abbey go off to serve in the Great War, Mr. Bates wasn't one of them, as he's a bit older (in his 50's).  But then I started thinking...

... what if Mr. Bates "did" go off to war?

... and what if he did so in a suit of steampunk armor?  

My initial adventure idea features Lady Mary Crawley (played by Michelle Dockery) assembling a crack team of the Abbey's most fearsome operatives, in order to smash the Kaiser's forces head on.  But Great Britain won't send it's best agents into the trenches without some wicked, weird-science tech: battle armor, gas guns, tesla-coil-powered hot tea pots, the works!  

Think of this as the Red Baron meets Bioshock Infinite meets The A-Team meets Masterpiece Theater.

Of course a cigar chewing, double-pistol wielding Lady Mary won't be alone.  I envision Mr. Bates wearing lightning generating shock gauntlets, Mr. Carson in a steampunk-mecha suit, and perhaps the Dowager Countess Violet Crawley (played by Maggie Smith) hovering above the battlefield as a flying, maxim-gun wielding head-in-a-jar.

This could be a good time!

Off to the Trenches

Here's where I would love some feedback.  I've got a couple weeks until the Kickstarter is in full swing, and I need to start making characters.  If anyone has any suggestions or advice as to how to build these crazy proper steampunk monstrosities, please share!  

Right now I'm torn on whether to draw from the Savage Worlds Science Fiction Companion or the Super Powers Companion.  I could see either direction being awesome.

I'll also need to find a few players who A) have seen Downton Abbey and B) will be willing to give this G+ Hangout On Air a try.  If you find yourself in this mix, please let me know!

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