Scenario doctors: The Queen-Empress' Birthday Bash

Gentile Dottore:

I have in mind (and recorded on assorted electrons) a very incomplete scenario that I thought of running at a convention but ended up not being able to complete. Perhaps it would make an interesting exercise for the forum to figure out and repair its problems. It’s called


Genre/Setting: A comic adventure for five misfits in a faux-Victorian Europe where the Scientific Revolution has smashed the State. Each mad scientist rules an area around his castle determined mainly by the range of his death-rays; clockwork automata, reanimated patchworks of human parts, and experimental beast-men roam the airships. Life for ordinary people is too exciting for most tastes; Mary Shelley, Charles Babbage, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells are being burned in effigy. Phil and Kaja Foglio have been keeping clear of Effigy for years.

Romance! Adventure! MAD SCIENCE!

Situation: Freiherr Dr. Theophrastus von Funke went to England to attend a Great Exhibition. He has been a guest of the Queen-Empress Gloriana at Windsor Castle, and is weeks overdue to return to his own Schloss Tüftler. There is some concern that the Queen-Empress might marry him at any time, and in particular at the Stupendous Gala scheduled for her birthday: Gloriana doesn’t like being a widow on her birthday. If they marry he will never return to his castle and trifling domains at Tüftlerstadt: Gloriana doesn’t like her husbands wandering off.

The staff remaining in the Schloss Tüftler do not themselves have the Spark. and know that they cannot hold the populace in subjection. The folk know it too, and are stockpiling not only torches and pitchforks but tar, feathers, and rails. Obviously Dr. von Funke’s henchmen they have to infiltrate Windsor Castle and rescue the freiherr doktor before it is too late. That is, during Her Royal and Imperial Majesty’s Birthday Bash. They are:

The PCs:

  1. The Freiherr Doktor’s vain and scheming Beautiful Daughter, Pandemonia

  2. His Deformed/Deranged Assistant

  3. His Construct Chief Mechanic, Lohengrin Krimskram, man of parts*

  4. Klirrender von Bolzen, the Clank Captain of his Clockwork Cuirassiers

  5. His latest Abominable Experiment, Julius Tintenfisch, an uplifted octopus in a tank†

⓵ So what’s the adventure? All I’ve got is that Windsor Castle has been mounted on tracks, with excavators at the front and belts to convey spoil to the rear, so that it can steam at seven knots through soft loam (and more slowly through soft rock), leaving a “wake” of churned earth and ruined infrastructure. I think it might already have crossed the Channel, but I don’t know why.

⓶ What’s the rules system? Would Fate Core be perfect if we could wrap our heads around it?

Help me, O Consulting GMs!

* He has the hands of a Swiss watchmaker, the legs of a decathlete, the “package” of a ballet dancer, and the head and torso of two separate statuary’s models….

† The tank is a glass fishtank on top of a steam-powered carriage with tank tracks and waldo arms, like a steam-powered dalek with the motive system of a Renault FT tank.

Well, how could one solve this problem?

  • Find someone else for Gloriana to marry
  • Find a new overlord for Tüftlerstadt
  • Steal Dr von Funke back from the Castle

The last of those is probably the most practicable. Perhaps one might aim for something along the lines of drawing-room farce (I tend to the Wodehousian) with a cast of NPCs who all have to be juggled into the right alliances?

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They locate Dr Von Funke, he is the planned groom, he would love them to join him in Gloriana’s retinue but there are specific individual reasons why each cannot do so. Dr Von Funke is very sorry but given the choice between loyal servitude in luxury and putting down the next peasant revolt while battling assassin, beef-eating ravens he is staying put.

They could work together and he could assist them covertly to overcome the objections of the ladies (and assorted) of the bedchamber. Except where mutually exclusive.

Outside that approach, it seems inevitable that Windsor Castle grinds Schloss Tüftler to pieces at the end of the game a lá Looney Tunes if any PCs actually cared about it.

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The drawing-room farce in my mind leaves Gloriana with a better prospective partner, so she gently lets down the good Doctor with expressions of regret (“but do come back next year, I may be a widow again by then”).

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“Walk wide of the Widow of Windsor…”

And now I’m getting Lolth-y vibes.

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So Windsor Castle alters course imperceptibly while she grins grinding just enough of the nascent peasant uprising (or its gathered materiel) to pieces so that the PCs and the released Dr Von Funke can have good sport putting it down?


Or the mob is howling at the gates, when the returned Doctor steps out onto the balcony and cries “tremble before the might of the Doom Beam”… and the peasants say “oh, good, the world is back to normal, let’s go home”.


Now that Professor Bell_West has done a splendid job of enlarging our community, I would like to try attracting a few more minds to this problem.

Hey out there SU&SD expats!

Presumably the Queen-Empress’ frequent changes in spouse mean that the honour of husband-to-be may not be something particularly desired by the Doktor. How is he being compelled to go along knowing that marriage to the Queen-Empress is a short lived enterprise? Simple force of arms, technological tricky, or is Windsor Castle mobile because it is threatening the Docktor’s lands to keep him in line?

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It had been my idea that Gloriana was simply so charismatic, so intimidating, and so technologically fascinating that the Herr Doktor would be swept along by his enthusiasm like many before him, though perhaps quite willing to run away if he thought he could get away with it. _Heaven hath no rage like love to hatred turned, nor Hell a fury like a woman scorned".

But I suppose that if she has some specific hold over (or interest in) him that would make a suitable target for the PCs to attack.