A couple of years ago I joined my “other” game group. Tim had decided to start a D&D; campaign after a year of planning. As I was keen to get out the GM’s chair for awhile and the game was only twice a month, I added another game to the rotation. About six months ago the D&D; game fizzled and it seemed like that group may be on a long (perhaps permanent) hiatus. One of the other players, Dean, had gotten Spirit of the Century though and he wanted to give it a spin. Another stint as a player and a chance to try out a new game? Sold.
We’ve played a couple of sessions so far and it’s been a good time. We’re all pulp fans, so it’s been easy to get into the proper mindset. The core of the game is FUDGE, which is easy enough, but it has been customized nicely to give it that pulp feel. I think the best part of the game is the aspects, which are reminiscent of Pendragon’s personality traits but are wider in scope and even more useful in play. I also liked the way you could use aspects to build out your character background and reap mechanical rewards for doing so. A normal character has 10 aspects. The first eight for my character, Tristan Leclerc follow (the other two I’m still sorting). While many of the example aspects in the book are one or two words, I found that I liked creating more flavorful phrases. “From Paris to Peking” just sounds more exciting than “well-traveled.” I also tried to create a couple of “gimmes” for the GM, like Enemy of the People. These will not only make it easy for Dean to come up with plot complications that involve my back story, but will also give me a way to earn more fate points when he does so.
From Paris to Peking: Tristan’s father worked in France’s colonial administration. He spent most of his young life in places like Algeria and Indochina. He is familiar with many foreign customs and showed a talent for languages at a young age.
Connoisseur of Decadence: The colonial administrators lived in a different world than their subjects. This gave young Tristan an appreciation for the fine things in life, from wine and foie gras to cognac and cigars. During the war Tristan took particular delight in seizing such luxuries from the billets of enemy officers. To him such booty became synonymous with victory.
Demon of the Trenches: Ironically enough the longest period Tristan spent in France was during the Great War. He volunteered for the army to defend a country he had visited only a few times in his life. He developed into a fearsome trench fighter, eventually leading a unit of irregulars specializing in infiltration and close combat. Leclerc’s raiders were greatly feared by the Germans.
A Pox on All Generals: Watching the way his father was treated in the colonial administration gave Leclerc a healthy distrust of bureaucracies. During the Great War this blossomed into a full fledged hatred of hierarchies, and generals who led from the rear. The carnage of the trenches taught him that only the officers on the front line knew what was really going on. While these beliefs helped make him a highly effective combat leader, they also caused him to have no end of trouble with authority figures inside and outside of the military.
Allied Zeppelin Corps Veteran: After the war Leclerc thought he was done with the military. When he was offered a large sum of money to join a new unit called the Allied Zeppelin Corps, however, he changed his mind. This multinational force was posted to Archangel as part of the anti-Bolshevik effort organized by the victorious allies. Leclerc made a name for himself by thwarting the plot of Commissar Krasnaya to blow up the Zeppelin’s Corps headquarters.
Enemy of the People: The Soviets never forgot the Allied intervention after the Great War. Nor have they forgotten Leclerc. In addition to earning the enmity of Commissar Krasnaya, Leclerc also led a bombing raid that derailed Trotsky’s armored train. He has been dogged by Soviet agents ever since.
Brother of Heaven and Earth: Leclerc was cut adrift after the Allied Zeppelin Corps fell apart. He drifted across Latin and South America for several years working as a mercenary. He eventually ended up in China, where he was hired by the Kuomintang. There he became acquainted with several Triad organizations and the notorious Green Gang, who backed Chiang Kai Shek. These Triad connections have proved useful over the years.
Magnificent Butcher’s Apprentice: While in China Leclerc met Lam Sai Wing, “the Magnificent Butcher”. A famous martial artist, Lam had been a student of the legendary Wong Fei Hung and was later appointed the chief instructor of the army in the Fujian Province. Leclerc met him shortly after Lam’s official retirement. He convinced the old master to give him weapons training for six months, until events transpired that took the Frenchman to the USA.