We placed the Committee in London, and pretty quickly decided that we wanted to fight a lot of Nazis and find the source of the Amazon. There should also be dinosaurs.
Our list of hazard ideas went smoothly. I was going to type it up but apparently it got left at the game venue - Stef, try and rescue it for next session!
We then decided that the main points on the journey would be Nazi Germany, the Amazon, and a lost city at the source of the Amazon. The secret is 'a crystal skull of doom'.
Next we made up characters. Our cast were (with the attributes given by other players):
- Sinister Poe, gentleman thief. Daring high, good all-rounder. People refuse to gamble with him, he's good with a knife, he has a gammy knee and a trained cat called Twinkles. His desire is to gain eternal youth.
- Donald "Fluffy" Dermont, socialite. Charisma high. He is chased by creditors, has demanding aunts, is a crack shot with his father's Webley and is an amateur pilot. His desire is for a good cup of tea.
- Reginald Sutcliffe, county cricketer. Charisma high. He is stalked by a sports reporter, secretly chases the dragon, has poodle boots (game group in-"joke") and is reputed to have bribed umpires. His desire is to open for England at Lords.
- Washington Smythe, ex-Marine, smuggler, trapper. Daring high. Once worked as a bearded lady, never harms a woman, was an artillery spotter and has torn enemie's throats out with his teeth (we don't know how many). His desire is to retire and never be called on again.
- Dr Matthew Abernathy, Professor of Archaeology. Genius high. He carries a jar of beetles, smokes disgusting cigars, is quite the ladies' man and his tenure is under threat. His desire is to gain a peerage and thus his sweetheart's hand in marriage.
Our cliffhanger happened as a Nazi superhuman, almost defeated, transformed into multiple copies of herself as we fought on the schwimwagen, driving hell-for-leather towards the sea.
As that short summary implies, the action was great and often ludicrous.
I'll go into some details of the rules now, and how they worked.
Character generation was great fun, especially adding traits to the other characters. However our group - never the most serious - did add a few that were silly or disadvantageous. Perhaps an instruction to aim for things that are good or bad situationally would be useful? Or maybe it is just us. The fact that the mission is brainstormed first also adds something - you know the sorts of things you are to face and can bear that in mind.
The way scenes work is that the person whose turn it is explains how the group got from the last scene to where they are now, and what that is. They state what they want to do next and then their opposition player (picked randomly at the session start) thinks up some opposition for them. Play goes on until it comes to a conflict. Then dice are rolled, so that the opposition total is known. A three-minute timer is started (in theory a sand-type eggtimer, but we only had an electronic one). The protagonist pushes forward a die, adding it to their total and narrating what they did. Then the opposition player narrates a complication. This is repeated until the total is reached or the timer runs out.
This use of the time limit adds an urgency to the narration that worked really well. All the narration came out fast and snappy, and when your mind blanks briefly it makes it all the more exciting. The tension added is perfect for this pulpy Indiana Jones style game.
There's some more complex rules for group resolution, unexpected hazards and end of session cliffhangers, but the essence is the same and they work just as well.
The other major piece of the rules that I have not yet mentioned is the acclaim economy. Acclaim points are your score and also allow you to be better in play (or hinder the others). This is fine, but I found there were too many things to keep track of about Acclaim. For example, you invest points in ideas on the log sheets (our Berlin sheet has 'Death cult', 'Schwimwagen', 'superhuman', 'Nazis', and 'Parking warden'). If people reuse these concepts in their narration, both of you get Acclaim (but there's a choice of how to gain it each time this happens). You gain or lose Acclaim from meeting or failing challenges. You gain Acclaim when two other players laugh at your narration or raise a glass to you.
I found that this often got left out or slowed the pace of the game. I can see why the rules are all there, but I feel like a streamlined version would help the game move faster. Personally, my preference would be to remove the Acclaim related to ideas on the log. Maybe players could reroll one of their dice if they narrate in one of the listed ideas? That's a little less significant, but probably easier to do (and do fast) in play. The log then becomes an ideas sheet that gives you some advantage when ideas are reused (which seems to be the objective) rather than something to use tactically (yes, Daniel, I mean you and your 'Nazis' there).
Despite those small issues, this is a great game. Look out for the published version (I'm not sure what the timescale is going to be, of course).