On Thursday I received ‘The Laundry‘ in the post. The announcement came back in March so I was really excited to get the book in the post this week. I have now spent a few hours reading it (all but most of the rules – which is another flavour of BRP, familiar to any CoC player). The game is based on Charles Stross’ Laundry Files – which is a series of novels set in a world where fighting unseen menaces from beyond our universe is left to a civil service department not dissimilar to MI5.
“The books are Lovecraftian spy thrillers. The best elements from both genres are thrown together with a sprinkling of long lost Nazis, terrorist cultists, other foreign governments wanting a piece of the action, as well as Her Majesty’s Civil Service.” added Cubicle 7’s Angus Abranson.
The Laundry is a branch of the British secret service, tasked to prevent hideous alien gods from wiping out all life on Earth. Players take the part of Laundry agents, cleaning up the mess after things go wrong or, sometimes, even managing to prevent the manifestation of ultimate evil. Agents have access to the best equipment they can get their superiors to approve, from Basilisk Guns to portable containment grids to a PDA loaded up with Category A countermeasure invocations.
I’ve only read “The Atrocity Archives” so far in the Laundry series (I’ve also read Glasshouse and Accelerando by Stross – they’re more straight sci-fi – the former very similar to Culture novels, the latter very cyberpunk. Both great.)
so I’ve added “The Jennifer Morgue” and “The Fuller Memorandum” to my Amazon wishlist. I’ll be taking The Atrocity Archives with me on my trip to Paris – Lord knows there’s going to be a lot of downtime.
If you’re not sure if you’ll like them, then you can get a taster with some of the Laundry short stories.
Overall, it seems enchantingly similar to Delta Green but without the feeling of hopelessness that comes from being mostly alone in a universe that is cold, dark and hostile. It’s gotten me interested again.
This blossomed into a scenario where the PCs were sent to investigate a murder. A newcomer to a quiet US suburb was found beaten to death in his home. The house is trashed. And no-one else in the suburb heard or saw anything…
Anyone else have done something similar? Created a scenario out of a song? (And let’s face it. this song is pretty much the entire inspiration for Desperate Housewives. Imagine the pitch – “It’s like that Tom Waits track….but with boobs!”
We’ve begun an investigation as minor members of the Golden Dawn as a break from our Delta Green game. We’ve now got two more sessions before Graham goes on holiday and I doubt we’ll get things finished in time.
The game has progressed quickly enough with us witnessing assaults by re-animated blind men bearing heathen daggers. We’ve seen the effects of a powerful mentalist and his two Sikh guards. We’ve found the heart of Dr Dee’s sanctuary in Mortlake.
Guided by the Tarot, we find ourselves at the horns of a dilemma. We feel we must act quickly and put an end to the black, unfolding darkness. But doubt about the nature of our enemy has stayed our hands.
Graham plays Logan, a historian with a beard. He seems reticent and slow to act and I am afraid that his caution may be our undoing.
Fintan plays a doctor who has been called away from the action by a sick relative. We hope he remains to minister to our injuries which become ever more life threatening.
Jim plays Philip, a laissez-faire scoundrel who pretends at painting and Tarot reading when he is not drinking the Milk of Paradise. He is flanked sometimes by his man, Dai, a welshman and petty thief.
I play Franz Ritter von Becke, an Austrian nobleman and expert duellist. I bring my valet, Josef Bauer, everywhere with me and allow his taciturn wit to steer my intents.
Most recently we have found the very forces of nature arraigned against us. The oppressive English summer has attracted swooping ravens, stinging bees and the attacks of savage wild dogs which were no match for my sabre.
I fear we must act quickly. Upon our return to Henley, I will introduce my sabre to Kendall, the mentalist and his burly Sikh henchmen.
The game at TTN was delayed again essentially because in the middle of the afternoon my car died. I did eventually get a courtesy car but the day was so cocked up anyway, I just cancelled.
Today I’m reading the Gear Krieg RPG. It’s really really nice.
Tomorrow night, KinnyGraham will help us resume our madness in his popular Delta Green game and we’re also discussing a future Gaslight game under Michael’s guidance. I’ll be posting details of my character as I make him up!
Next week, we’re skipping TTN again due to family stuff.
With a start, Kruse sat up and rubbed his eyes. The close confines of the safe house were weighing on his mind. He glanced over at Jimmy and instinctively reached for his pistol. He was too far gone, too unstable for this kind of work. It was just too dirty. Kruse could probably take him in his sleep and wouldn’t that be a better way to go than impaled on the claws and beak of something….unearthly.
He felt his bile rising and choked it back. The noise caused Zoe to stir and he saw light glint off her eyes and knew she could see him. Then her eyes closed and she fell asleep again – the traffic was only starting to build and the quiet drone of the cars sounded like sea upon a distant shore.
Confident they were both asleep, he rose and went into the bathroom and stripped off his wet clothes. He took a towel and mopped the urine from his seat and then went to rinse himself, his clothes and the towel. In the shower he fantasised briefly about Zoe and Mrs Dengler and then remembered the unearthly thing. That killed his thoughts and he dried himself quickly.
Broken sleep and nightmares punctuated his stay in the safe house. He remembered waking, bedclothes sodden, as a child with only his blankets to protect him against the encroaching dark. He remembered a figure at the bottom of the bed, looking shadowlike over him. Until his tenth birthday he’d been an infrequent bed-wetter, a nervous child. And he could feel the shadow over him. Even here.
He had been chosen for this life, he had not chosen it.
As I may have mentioned, I’m in KinnyGraham’s DeltaGreen game. The other night, after losing one agent to the nameless horror and receiving a chewing from our DG contact, my character came to two startling revelations.
There is something horrible out there. Something unworldly. Something that wants to kill us. But it’s all separate incidents. There doesn’t seem to be an all-encompassing conspiracy.
The government is involved and our erstwhile allies, Delta Green, by telling us that if we get caught we’re on our own, are not on our side.
His reaction, therefore, is to bug out. He’s just had a friend killed, another ally has completely wigged out, he received a chewing from DG and a large proportion of the blame and now there’s some bossy hispanic woman too.
And what’s with the blame? He had the misfortune to be involved with DG (something they engineered). He’s been doing as he is told. And the reason he got the blame for this is because the other two are either a) dead or b) mad as a stick.
Would it be so bad to bug out? To run in a calm, calculated way rather than waiting to join his friends in either the morgue or the asylum? Would Delta Green come after him or would they assume that he just needed a longer leash? Would he find himself living the life of Jason Bourne…except being chased by both Deep Ones and his previous DG allies not to mention the conventional law enforcement officials.
And what would Graham think if I convinced everyone else to bug out? Would he be pissed? Would he want to run with the “DG-Rogue” campaign that I had thrust everyone into? Would he rather confiscate the character, insist I make another and then make it the order of the day that we track down our former comrade (my old character) and terminate with extreme prejudice. I don’t know.
The worst thing about going undercover is making it airtight. This means learning mannerisms. This means picking up habits. This means changing your diet and cutting your hair. It means holding Johnson with the correct hand and it means spending weeks fighting back against nicotine cravings that took months to shake the first time.
The meeting with Ms Green disturbed him. It sounded like there was a paramilitary organisation trying to take over something. Should he report it? Would he end up dead? Was this part of the plan? Either these Delta Green people were responsible for the disaster at Platte or they were fighting those who were. Either way, he was likely to be dead. Maybe O’Shea resisted these people. Maybe Dunsanay was unwilling to comply. He could guess why Lundy was dead. No loss to the gene pool there.
He decided to go along with it. And reached for the smokes.