Noir Revolution: Pacific Star – Episode 1: Pilot/Shanghai Express (Actual Play)

26 July, 2013

Last night, having finished the cast, we finally sat down to play the Pacific Star one-shot using Fate Accelerated.

Steaming awayThe scene open in media res with Sun Chan, Dr. Alabaster Oxford, Hamish Sinclair and the Old Man aboard a hurtling train under attack from three light biplane bombers, Sun Chan throwing open the window to blaze away at them with her chromed .45 pistol.  Cut to: the ‘Piggy’ (a PBY flying boat) spewing smoke from her port engine as Trixie banks the plane in a hard left as Lefty and Dr. Philmore Cornelius react to the ambush by two biplane fighters.

Roll opening credits with a jazzy soundtrack and then cut to The Monastery of the Serene Way, eight hours earlierThe characters are there negotiating with the Abbot Wu the transfer of a copy of the treasure of the monastery, an early copy of the Diamond Sutra, to the safe keeping of the Nationalist government in Peking before the Japanese overrun the monastery and steal it.  The Abbot is prevaricating, not convinced that these -mostly foreign- people are right for the task.  Lefty and Trixie notice that suddenly there are a lot more monks around, pointing out the fact to their team mates just before the mock monks throw off their robes to reveal that they are heavily armed bandits led by the ex-monk Lu who demands the Sutra.

Violence, unsurprisingly, follows.  Lu shows off his mastery of the three-section staff and briefly holds the Abbot hostage.  The bandits prove their value in getting beat down in a variety of ways.  Sun Chan mows down numerous mooks in best Hong Kong action hero tradition.  Trixie acquires her motorcycle from outside and uses it to confuse and evade the bandits.  Lefty topples a statue sending out a cloud of dust and incense which Dr Oxford promptly ignites.  Hamish and the Old Man free the Abbot, only to end up with Hamish be caught in a choke hold from Lu’s staff.  Dr Cornelius conjures a fog and then chilling ice when Big Sword Kow, a troll bandit with a sword as big as he is appears and tries to cut Lefty down to size.

Lu exits (using his stunt of “Always has an escape route”) giving it up as a bad scene after Hamish free himself, Sun Chan shot Lu and he was splattered by burning lamp oil.  While Big Sword Kow is slowly worn down by freezing winds, Lefty’s punches, Trixie using a bandit’s sword as a lance and charging on the motorcycle and Sun Chan’s .45.  The Abbot reveals that he had already sent the Sutra to safety and gives them a token to identify themselves to the monk who has them . . . and who will be boarding the train the Shanghai that afternoon.  Just then, a young monk appears, yelling that the Japanese are coming and the characters make haste: one group heading for the train and the other for the ‘Piggy‘.

I had a Chase! scene planned where the character would have to avoid Japanese cavalry and outwit a tankette, but we were running late, so we took that as read and moved back to the train.

Sun Chan’s .45 put some holes in the Ki-3 light bomber but failed to take it down, Hamish used the lightning gun built into his cane to disorient the crew of one while Dr Oxford put together a Magnetic Polarizing Inverter with help from the Old Man who fed him parts, the invention worked!  Once.  Magnetizing the bomb of the third bomber to its engine, the crew leaping clear just before it exploded.  The remaining bombers strafed the train ineffectively and failed to hit the engine with a bomb.

Meanwhile, on the ‘Piggy‘,  Dr Cornelius summons a storm to provide them with cover from the Type-92 fighters, Trixie takes them down to treetop level while Lefty climbs out on the wing to repair the damaged engine.  Overtaken by the unexpected storm and not prepared for the daring flying of Trixie, the fighters fail to do more than punch a few holes in the wings of the ‘Piggy’.  Dr Cornelius blows the tip off of one of the fighter’s wings with a lightning bolt, while Trixie maneuvers the other into a tree with a burst of speed provided by Lefty fixing the damaged engine.  The other fighter broke off pursuit, Dr Cornelius dispelled the storm and the ‘Piggy’ flew off, framed by the setting sun.

Yes, something like thatBack aboad the train, Sun Chan draws her special pistol, loads a huge bullet circled by Chinese characters and shoots the Ki-3 she had shot earlier and it explodes in a sequence of firework bursts.  The bomber catches fire and the two crew men leap off before the fireworks reach them and the plane explodes in a shower of beautiful red and silver flames.  The last bomber goes down to the combined efforts of the last energy of Hamish’s lightning gun and distractions provided by Dr Oxford and the Old Man.  They are cheered as heroes by the no longer panicked passengers.

As the train stops to take on water, the ‘Piggy’ lands on the nearby lake to retrieve the rest of the team and the Sutra.  End scene is the team at the Canidrome having drinks.  Roll credits to another jazzy tune.

Notes: All things considered, FATE Accelerated ran quite well considering we had a group of seven people, six of whom had never played FATE before.  Things took a little longer than I had intended but it seemed that a good time was had by all.  We may play some more but I am not running anything else (except for one already scheduled game of Shadowrun) before GenCon as I need to buckle down and get my scenarios finished.

You can find photos for some of the cast, the Canidrome, the ‘Piggy‘ and more on the Noir Revolution – Pacific Star pinterest board.  The (much delayed) next episode is here.

Train photo from Wikimedia Commons and is in the Public Domain, Caster image from Outlaw Star owned by Bandai and used without permission.

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