There were three
sessions at the British end of the November ’06 meeting of CLWG; no
doubt Daniel and Nick will enlighten us separately on what we missed
at the continental meeting. In order of appearance the attendance was
Trevor, Mukul, Jim, Brian, John, Peter Howland and myself. The
sessions were:

  • Torchwood.
    A Victorian roleplaying game run by Brian Cameron

  • Starship
    Marine. A classic figure game run by Jim

  • Remember,
    Remember. An old favourite re-run by both Jim and Brian covering the
    gunpowder plot of 1605.


Brian started this off
with a short clip from the end of the Doctor Who episode that had
inspired the game. The episode (titled Torchwood) involved the Doctor
saving Queen Victoria from a werewolf in the Highlands in 1879. At
the end of the episode (after QV has knighted and then immediately
banished the Doctor and his assistant Rose) there is the scene that
Brian showed us. QV says that there are clearly otherworldly enemies
out there and she wants Great Britain to be able to deal with them,
and with the Doctor should he reappear. To achieve this aim she has
the ultra secret Torchwood Institute established.

To work out the finer
details of how the Torchwood Institute should be set up Brian had us
as a hand picked group of Privy Councillors to form some
recommendations to Her Majesty. The Torchwood Committee was chaired
by the Duke of Cornwall (Trevor) with the Earl of Sutherland, Lord
Taunton, Sir Hardly Worthitt (Secretary) and Sir Rupert Effingham
(Page of the Back Stairs).

Arrayed in comfy chairs
we set about the task of establishing how Torchwood should be lead,
what it should do, to whom it would report and where the money would
come from.

There was much
entertaining discussion over the right sort of chap to provide the
necessary sort of leadership for the institute. Taking as read that
he’d been to the right school and wasn’t the sort to have gone to
University to become a dangerous intellectual (or worse still, a
liberal) the chap was to have a modicum of intelligence. He needed to
be an excellent judge of character so that he could recruit the right
people to get the job done. Lastly he needed to be of stout heart and
high in moral fibre (good for the digestion don’t you know). It was
felt that the best place to go looking for all these sterling
qualities was in the Admiralty. A check round those present suggested
that Admiral Hood was the soundest chap we could think of.

The conversation moved
on to discuss the merits of having other sorts of chaps as deputies
to the good Admiral to make sure that he would be well advised. The
committee agreed that it was vitally important to have a theologian
on the management of the institute and also a General. There was much
discussion on the merits or otherwise of engineers and the scientific
mechanical sort. It was resolved that a natural philosopher might be
useful as a deputy but that the mechanical aspects should be left as
humble servants. General Flashman VC, known as a stouthearted, loyal
and brave subject was selected as a suitable chap to provide military
expertise to the Institute, it also being remembered that he had been
involved in political activities in his younger days. The choice of
theologian was to be referred to Her Majesty’s chaplain for a
recommendation but that would need to be someone well versed in
divinity as well as being devout.

On the matter of
exactly what the Institute would do we recommended that there should
be a collation of information on strange phenomena, probably through
setting up a journal of some kind to collect these stories and paying
readers a bounty for submitting those that were felt fit to print.
The Institute should also be involved in investigating reports,
perhaps using some of the most advanced and modern methods being used
currently by the Special Irish Branch, whereupon it was felt that one
of their suitable chaps should be seconded to head such a section in
the Institute. There needed also to be a research arm to look into
the phenomena to see what we could learn about them and how to deal
most effectively when they should turn up. This latter point lead to
the need for an arm to respond to any incursions or clean up
otherworldly evidence after the fact.

Funding for the
Torchwood Institute would mostly come from the Admiralty Vote via the
Royal Dockyards. There would be some money from an endowment from Her
Majesty and the Institute would engage with loyal and trusted
entrepreneurs to ensure that there would continue to be sufficient
funds should there be problems in the future with obtaining money by
Vote whilst maintaining absolute secrecy as to its purpose.

As regards secrecy it
was felt that with the exception of the Torchwood Committee, the
Leader of Torchwood and his immediate deputies, there was to be no
acknowledgement to those involved of the exact scale of operations.
Each operation or arm and each area office would be kept in isolation
of each other. Those involved would only be told as much as was
necessary for them to do what was asked of them and the reports would
all be submitted to the Torchwood Committee by the Admiral as
required. There was discussion of telling the government of the day.
The prevailing view was that it would be only be appropriate to tell
Ministers of the Crown that came from the upper House and even then
only if it directly pertained to their responsibilities. Should Her
Majesty require one such to be briefed then she could perfectly well
have him admitted, as a Privy Councillor, to the Torchwood Committee.

Whilst not perhaps
covering every question with a detailed answer we had produced a good
basis for proceeding and what remained to be done could be achieved
by our chosen leadership once they had been formally appointed.

Marine (Jim)

The CLWG session
happened to coincide with the Full Moon in November. Usually there
are a group of us, mainly but not exclusively CLWG members, that
gather on a full moon to play in a campaign being run by Jim and set
in his universe. Currently we are playing the part of a group of
mercenaries. Rather than attempting to run two sessions in close
proximity Jim brought along some starship marines and a deck plan for
a merchant ship for us to have a training mission prior to our next
mission as mercenaries acting as starship marines.

Brian was nominated to
be the Group Commander in overall command, Trevor was his 2ic and
John Rutherford, Mukul and myself were the squad commanders. Jim and
Peter Howland ran the defending forces.

The ship was all on a
single deck with three concentric sets of rooms with two circular
access corridors running round them, each of these circular corridors
had two short linking corridors. There were two main airlocks at
opposite sides of the ship with two much smaller emergency air locks
at ninety degrees to the main airlocks. The control rooms (main
control and power controls) were in the centre of the ship. There
wasn’t a direct route from any airlock to either power control, you
would need to traverse at least a quarter of the circle between the
link corridors, however there the two link corridors did line up with
the main airlocks.

Brian’s plan was a
relatively simple one. My squad would go in first and secure the
entry point while blasting the doors on the access corridor. John’s
squad would immediately follow through and make straight for the main
control by the most direct route. Mukul’s squad would follow John’s
squad and deal with any resistance that had been bypassed. Once
John’s squad had moved though mine I would take my squad round the
outer corridor and make for the power control room. The Group HQ
would remain in the main airlock area and provide fire support as

Our plan largely
ignored what the enemy might do. In itself this could have been a
problem, but the feeling was that it was a straightforward operation
and there wasn’t anything that could go wrong provided that the
defenders weren’t too numerous.

On entry my squad moved
rapidly to the doors (which the defenders had left open in an attempt
to sucker us in). We put demo charges on all the doors within reach
and took up defensive positions. Sure enough one of the doors closed
cutting off a third of my squad from the rest. This was combined with
three enemy marines appearing in other doorways slightly further
away. A short fight ensued in which one of my marines was hit and in
return two enemy were downed. The third ducked back inside a room and
closed the door.

We duly blew the other
doors and placed a demo charge on the door of the room the enemy
marine had disappeared into. John’s squad moved through my
position, Mukul’s came in behind and we moved to cover the trapped
enemy marine.

The next turn saw half
of my squad dealing with the enemy marine and the other half
progressing up an empty circular corridor to the next link corridor
to get to power control. John’s squad also moved towards power
control and met some of the crew attempting to dispute their
progress. The results were no as one-sided as we would have liked,
but John’s squad wasn’t slowed much (although he did take a

John & Mukul met
the main enemy resistance and slowly overcame it in a spectacularly
bad display of shooting from both sides. My squad continued round the
ship and down the link corridor where we found some more crew and
took another casualty when we looked round a corner.

As we massed on the
outside of the door to power control to burst in after blowing the
door John’s squad was just breaking into main control. Yet more
appalling shooting all round kept this indecisive enough for my squad
to take a third casualty from some grenades as well as taking down a
fourth enemy marine in return. Almost as soon as we blew the doors on
power control the ship’s captain decided to surrender as they had
just lost main control.

Remember (Jim & Brian)

This was the last of
the three games. The players were all plotters in the Gunpowder plot,
although with varying degrees of ardour in their wish to come to
blows to improve the lot of Catholics. There was a copious amount of
briefing, a few pages on the general background, a page on the main
characters of the plot and then a couple of pages of character
briefing for each player.

The game started off
quite well with some in character conversation about our level of
grievance and what we could do about it. All the players skirted
around the suggestion of blowing up parliament and it took some time
before that was agree upon as a solution (and in fact there were a
couple of points where I thought that we might well do something
completely different).

Having resolved that
was what we were going to do we came up with a plan and then
allocated some plausible roles to the plotters. As my character had
been well educated and fought on the continent I was deputed to go to
Flanders and attempt to buy gunpowder. This I duly did while others
sorted out other aspects of the plot. Mostly what I did at this stage
was join Jim in planting fireworks in the card model of the Houses of
Parliament that he had been constructing while we were chatting
earlier. We also did some testing of fuses and powder trails to make
sure that it would be safe when we tried to set the whole thing off
later. Obviously the people at DTI who regulate firework production
have decided to stop people doing what we did as it was only with
extreme difficulty that we managed to ignite the contents of a

On returning to the
other plotters I found that there was disappointing progress on the
tunnel that we had been attempting but that a coal merchant who had a
cellar under the Houses of Parliament had suddenly decided to shut up
shop. We duly moved our wine importing business into the cellar and
made a habit of greeting the two guards that came round every night
to check all was well with a tankard of wine. This was a blatant
attempt to make them less worried about searching the cellar
thoroughly and more interested in getting their free drinks.

As the time approached
we moved the barrels of gunpowder into position over several days. At
the last minute the date of the opening was changed. Guy Fawkes
(played by Mukul) was a bit perturbed by this but I insisted that we
should stay and carry on with business as usual until it was time to
make things go bang. This might have been a mistake on my part. On
the night of the 4th of November a whole group of guards
came round to search the cellar, not including our usual two drinking
chums. It was obvious as soon as the arrived that they weren’t
randomly searching and that giving them all some wine wouldn’t
prevent them from searching. Realising that there was no escape for
me anyway I threw an oil lantern on the barrels of gunpowder and then
drew my sword to buy enough time for the fire to catch properly. The
outcome was a huge explosion.

As games went this one
was pretty one sided and it might have been more fun if both
protagonists had been player driven. However I did enjoy it a lot and
felt that it was pretty good as an educational tool to explain the
plot. I also felt a real moment of uncertainty when the state opening
of parliament was postponed. We’d gone to some lengths to ensure
that the plot remained secret, avoiding writing the letter that was
written in history to warn the Catholic Lords not to attend.

As an excuse to build
things and then blow them up it was second to none. We took Jim’s
lovingly constructed Houses of Parliament (complete with fireworks in
the cellar) out to the end of my garden and got Guy Fawkes (Mukul) to
light the blue touch paper before we all retired to a safe distance
to watch the fireworks go off. There was about a minute of coloured
lights and not much else until Mukul said, “It hasn’t really gone
off much”. This was almost immediately followed by a very
spectacular shower of explosions that made us all move further