I just saw that this post won an award, I noticed the Muro award icon at the bottom of the screen for awhile now but never clicked on it. Thank you Muro and Scras. You have written something worth talking about here.
Go to Comment
"You start with the briefing, which is good, it tells you everything you need to know about the atheistic of the setting, the powers at play, and the goal of the PCs. Then you get a GM aside, fine, but that slips back into descriptions of the game world. There is extension of the briefing in the GM aside, when the nature of Soviet Union’s spy detection is discussed, so it is like GM is getting the briefing. In a GM section reality is flexable, and what we have here should prep GM as to how to handle the logic of the world and more importantly how the setting has been designed to support the narrative. If this is meant to be information for the GM so the PC can have a Q and A with St. James then it could stand a little more fleshing out. Or at least instructions as to what the writers think the GM should flesh out on his own.
Then we have the dossier on Dr. Pegasus, he is all back story, but there is nothing here that gives the PCs the flavor of Emil. We gather he is a survivor, we gather his chief connection in life has been with his work (not with a person), but we do know anything about him. And perhaps the PC handout should share little actual information about, a list of enigmatic facts may be more suspenseful afterall Martin Sheen’s character (and the audience) knew only what Kurtz had done and could speculate as to why. But this write up then deviates from a list of facts to a list conclusions. “For several years, Dr. Pegasus was in a state of professional nirvana” How did the DCO reach that conclusion? Also if you want to make this “realistic” sounding handout, consider who wrote this, what was their source information and most importantly what is their margin for error. After all didn’t one of you once post that uncertainty is the core of drama? The last paragraph doesn’t belong in the dossier, it belongs back in the briefing.
But never in this post, even outside the dossier, do you give Dr. Pegasus any humanity, or make him at all interesting. You might give us GM information about the character here, his will dos and won’t dos. Is he going to trust another government? Can the PCs trust him? Yes the GM using this could answer these questions, but it hard to believe that the answer to these question’s are not part of your vision for this write up. Also if the GM must answer these questions then why write up the character at all, it could just be “a scientist”, as it stands know there is nothing that makes Dr. Pegasus more than that. There are some hints, his rough up-bring, the clippings on his walls but you wrote nothing that will make a GM say “d**n, I can’t wait for players to meet that guy”. Instead he is just a McGuffin that spits out steam weapons. The fact that he has tyrannosaurus arms and is French, gives a GM only shadows. Player gets the Shadows, a GM should get the flashlight.
Next we have some events, the Zepplin ride and Odessa. As it is written know the Zepplin ride is nothing more than a description of a setting. Sure the PCs could yuk it up while they order cognac and coffee on the DCO’s tab and the Face character could seduce a Carpathian Countess, but really there is nothing here. Then there is Odessa, which sets the transition from safe Western opulence to dangerous eastern corruption and desperate poverty. GOOD! The PCs have to deal with the Russian mob. What for? Are they going to be the deus ex machina, or a brief violent encounter to cement the PCs’ status as unit. Again you give us nothing, other than you enter a mob run town. If that is all you are giving us why even write more than that?
But the Zepplin and the town are also a problem inherent (or limit) whenever you write an odyssey (a group trying to get from A to B). An odyssey is just one d**n thing after another, they need not be connected. I would suggest making this a chase or race. Perhaps the PCs spot a group of Japanese “tourists” on the Zepplin as well. A rival extraction team, the PCs now must not only to cross a hostile wilderness but they have to do it faster and better than their rivials or defeat them as well. Perhaps there are Prussian agents on the Zepplin, the Russians and the Prussians may be more frenemies than allies. The Prussian’s may be on to DCO mission, but not willing to share their intelligence with the Russians. You get my drift. If you are going to make it one thing after another fine, but make sure the events are substantial, help to set a tone and move the narrative.
Then you have a dossier on the agents at the Lab, this is fine except you break form again and reference Goebbels.
Then we get to the heist, you call it hide and seek and it could be series of recon moves and stealth moves (a maze). Which is fine But you could also do this a heist, give the PCs some more information and let them plan an entrance. But I guess a maze is fine, except a maze often comes down to single choice. Ideally in a group RPGs you have each player taking actions as part of a team, thus each gets a choice and a role. Here one player could make the choices keep the map without any help from other players
Finally, where is twist, where is the decision point, the story here is very linear, but at what point are the PC confronted with a novel or unforeseen crisis? When do you give your players a chance to flex their moral muscle, to fall back on all that back-story they wrote to make a decision in character or to come up to a solution to a problem that wasn’t foreseen in the GMs original plan. If the PC are smart resourceful and lucky, then almost nothing has happened the way this adventure is written. They get in they get out, the blow up the dam or the lab and move on. They could do it without speaking a single line of dialog."
You talk about the Shock and Awe effect of one of these, but I can imagine that the enemy would rarely see this peice of equipment. It would launch attacks for dozens of miles away. I can't imagine this being a forward unit. That said I think this is solid write up with a nice sprinkling of "history".
You could always take some of the traits of this system and drop it into a culture you are writing up. In that case nice well organized cultural systems are useful to have. Besides there is a history of posting these sortss of ranking systems on the site for use in games.