Since the day Monte Cook Games launched the Kickstarter for The Strange RPG, I have been itching to run a campaign. Like most RPGs, the players create characters that they make decisions for during the game. Unlike other RPGs in the Strange you are not tied to one specific genre. In fact, the amazing aspect of the game is that you can play through a variety of genres in several or even one session.
The basic premise of the game is that you play a person, called a Recursor, who can translate through this mysterious, dark web called the Strange that surrounds our world. All of our myths, legends, stories and tales feed into the Strange can create recursions based upon them. For instance with all of the revitalizing attention that Sherlock Holmes has received in the last few years, there is a recursion called “221B” based upon the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As a recursor, you could translate to it, and find yourself living inside the “Sign of the Four” or “Reichenbach Falls”.
This part of my blog is going to be dedicated to detailing the story of the campaign that I am running, stolen from the long-running comic book and movie, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” pays homage to their stories, while working to be new and unique. Let me know what you think in the comments below, like and share on social media, I’ll send you $5… ok, no really, but I’ll love you for it.
Cast of Characters
To be able to follow any story, you need to know who the good guys are, who you are going to support. The game currently has four players, and each of them was tasked with creating a cypher system character, based upon a literary character. Like the comic books and movie, the idea is that, in the Strange, these literary figures have become self-aware and are now working to save not just their world, but the entirety of the Strange. When creating a character in the Strange, there is a simply sentenced that is used “I am an Adjective Noun who Verbs”. This is the basis for every character and gives a whole host of options to make someone unique.
Taken from the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Clayton, or Tarzan as he is best known, is the most physical character of the group. He is direct, blunt and protective of those he is involved with. He is a Strong Vector, who Excels Physically. He was found during his search for the scientist Jane Porter, and because of his new insight into the Strange, translating, recursions and cyphers has come to the notion that Jane may also have been a recursor.
Pulled from the pages of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s masterpiece, Dr. Frankenstein is part of the intellectual side of the group. He is a smart, quick, intelligent scientist who fits well into the story. He is a Mad Paradox, who Conducts Weird Science. Tieing into the book, Victor is concerned that his creation may have awakened as he has and has been able to traverse the Strange.
From Neal Stephenson’s 1992 cyberpunk novel “Snow Crash” comes the character of Hiro. A counter-culture hero, hacker, and fighter, Hiro brings a skillset to the group that the other characters do not possess, or in some cases may not understand. Hiro is a Lucky Spinner, who Works the System. Despite his computer and technology background, he finds himself, with the others, thrust into Victorian England.
The final and fourth member of the group is none other than F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby. Found nearly dead in the swimming pool of his West Egg mansion, Gatsby is returned to life, and shown how to travel the strange. While the rest of the group is strong, intelligent, crafty and combat inclined, this character brings a social side to the group. Jay is an Appealing Spinner, who Entertains.
“A Portrait of Everyman”
Having not yet been fully formed, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, currently consisting of Tarzan, Dr. Frankenstein and Hiro Protagonist, under the wing of the mysterious Jacob Marlowe, brought together in a Victorian London recursion. They are given a base of operations in the highest levels of Big Ben and allowed to acclimate themselves to the city. One morning. However, Jacob comes to them with a request. The British espionage agency, MI6, has suffered a rash of employee home break-ins and attacks. The most recent, the home of a Mr. Derks was broken into, and a local constable chased the would-be thief through the home and into a closet, where he vanished. The League agrees to investigate it and heads to 1894 Ecclestone Square.
At the home, they interview the constable, one Belfour Bellamy, who explains exactly what he saw, what he did and the results. The aged constable seems quite flustered and upset, as he is now the laughing stock of Scotland Yard for chasing a vanishing thief into a closet. While Hiro continues to interview the Bellamy, Victor and Tarzan enter the home to see what they can find. Following Bellamy’s story, they find the closets, and after Tarzan unceremoniously empties the entire space, they find two footprints in the center of the closet, and no way to escape.
Hiro also enters the home and begins to search the area where the thief was first encountered. As he sifts through shelves of books, he finds a handwritten journal out of place that could very well have been the thief’s target. As he reads through, he discovers that the owner has foolishly documented several names of high ranking members of MI6, including it’s head “M”, who the writer notes as “Mr. Gray.”
It is at this moment that a strange sound can be heard upstairs. Victor and Tarzan investigate the noise to discover a mysterious hooded and masked man climbing out of a window and into the nearby trees. Without hesitating, Tarzan follows him into the trees. Victor rushes downstairs to inform Hiro, who sprints out of the house in hopes of helping Tarzan. Meanwhile, the two men swing through the trees, as the masked man heads for the opposite side of the road and the rooftops of the houses there to escape. Victor tries to slow him down by mentally causing a branch in his grasp to shatter. The masked man is still able to make the eaves of one house and turns to face both Hiro and Tarzan. As they watch, the man grips his wrist, and right before their eyes, splits into two versions of himself. One running to the right, and one to the left.
The two Gentlemen split, following separate copies of the thief. At the corner of the buildings, as the man attempts to swing up to the roof, Hiro draws a pistol and shoots him in the shoulder, sending him tumbling to the ground. Upon hearing the crack of the pistol, Tarzan turns from his prey and runs to help Hiro. Working together they pin the man to the ground.
Back at the house, Victor enters the foyer. There he finds a third copy standing in the room holding the leatherbound journal. He draws his pistol and moves forward, but the man reaches out a gloved hand, and Victor is paralyzed, frozen in place. The man pockets the journal and leaves. As he does, the duplicate, pinned to the ground beneath Tarzan disappears.
The League regroups in the house, discovering a few items, cyphers (unique objects that can perform amazing, one-time effects) on the floor and take them. They head back to Big Ben to report to Jacob what they have discovered.
Jacob seems worried about the story they tell and leaves to search out more information. During this time, Hiro ventures across the city to search for his own at Kensington Gore. There he ties the owner of the home to a prominent MI6 agent known as Mr. Ralph Ansely. When he returns, he finds the Jacob has found credible information that Ansley may be the next target of the masked man. The League is sent to his home to protect him.
Arriving at the home, the League sets to work surveying the security of the home, interviewing Ansley and making a plan to protect him. They decide that Hiro and Tarzan will remain on the first floor hoping to catch the thief, while Victor and Mr. Ansley hide in a basement safe room. Hours pass, as they wait for something to happen.
It is during this time that Mr. Ansley confesses to Victor that while he does not keep documentation of his work at MI6, “M” had entrusted him with a codex for coding system he was creating. Pulling out one of the cyphers they’d found, a vial of purple liquid, Victor speaks telepathically for a short time to Hiro. He explains the oversight, and Hiro heads to the bedroom where the safe is. Upon returning, he finds the masked man standing in the foyer.
It is during this time that a rattle can be heard in the air shaft above the safe room. As they watch, what looks like a coconut, drops onto the floor and begins emitting a gas. Victor grabs Mr. Ansley and forces him out of the safe room.
Upstairs a fight breaks out, as the masked man once again, duplicates himself. Battling against Hiro and Tarzan. In the kitchen, Victor finds himself face to face with a third duplicate of the man. Tarzan leaves Hiro to face the two opponents and rushes to the kitchen to help Victor. Hiro makes quick work of both, and Tarzan, through brute strength crushes the man to the floor.
The League heads upstairs to defend the safe, only to find their passage blocked by a fourth duplicate. They battle, Hiro stabbing the man through which his sword, and he vanishes, as all of the duplicates have upon death. In the bedroom, they find the bed moved, the carpet pulled back and the safe empty.
With everything was done, and no more leads found to track the mysterious masked man, Jacob brings a sleek carriage to take them home. Inside they are introducted to “M”, Dorian Gray, who has a task for them, He wants them to take his portrait to a different recursion for safekeeping. He states that they will work with the Implausible Geographic Society to find a suitably safe one. With this information the League is dropped at Big Ben and told to rest up.