The Pyramids of Hertfordshire, episode 6

Ant­o­nia and Marsh play with really big guns; Con­stantina takes a tumble.


17th June 2010.

Dramatis Personae

  • Lady Ant­o­nia deVorea Heav­ily-armed Aris­to­crat.
  • Miss Con­stantina Spita Rebel­li­ous Debutante.
  • Cap­tain Ben­son Cur­ruth­ersa Mil­it­ary Police­man.
  • Jack Pren­tiss – a Dodgy Ped­es­tri­an.
  • Miss April Sharpea Self-taught Invent­or.
  • Rod­ney Marsha Par­tially-reformed Thief.
  • Mr Erasmus Rooke – the Boss.
  • Mr Chester – a For­eign Gen­tle­man of the Sci­entif­ic Per­sua­sion.
  • Jack­son – an old Asso­ci­ate of Cur­ruth­ers.
  • Two Anonym­ous Sci­ent­ists.
  • A Scep­tic­al Com­mand­ant.
  • A num­ber of Heav­ily-armed ‘Game­keep­ers’.
  • A large num­ber of Sham­bling Corpses.


Pren­tiss sprin­ted for the power­house, burst­ing through the door, then duck­ing at the last moment to avoid los­ing his head to a shovel wiel­ded by a pan­ick­ing stoker. Marsh arrived behind the zom­bie fight­ing Cur­ruth­ers, returned to human form and, nearly decap­it­at­ing it, fol­lowed up by bow­ing iron­ic­ally to his com­bat train­er. Lady Ant­o­nia decided to try and help the guards while Miss Sharpe powered up her weapon and aimed it at the top of the mast, soak­ing it in a stream of cor­ros­ive liquid. Miss Spit fol­lowed Pren­tiss into the power­house, arriv­ing just in time to see him pull a thick cable out of the steam-powered dynamo, caus­ing a massive shower of sparks which made up for the lights going out.

Pren­tiss staggered as the engin­eer whipped a huge span­ner across his throat from behind and attemp­ted to strangle him while the dynamo sped up, its whine rap­idly rising in pitch. He man­aged to turn his attack­er to take the full brunt of the blast as the build­ing exploded in a shower of flames and shrapnel…

Miss Spit was still stand­ing in the door­way and was thrown in a spec­tac­u­lar arc across the square, land­ing with cat­like grace near the trans­mis­sion mast. Pren­tiss was appar­ently bur­ied in the rubble.

All around them, the zom­bies pressed their slow but relent­less attack; small groups of sol­diers des­per­ately try­ing to hold the gaps between build­ings against up to twice their num­ber. As the remainder of the team tried to decide what to do, sev­er­al of the sol­diers went down scream­ing and Cur­ruth­ers and Lady Ant­o­nia leapt to help shore up the defences, closely fol­lowed by Miss Sharpe and Miss Spit, each head­ing for a dif­fer­ent group. Marsh, spot­ting the col­lapsed guard tower, rever­ted to rat form and scur­ried out of the battle zone.

Lady Ant­o­nia grabbed up one of the large rifles used by the sol­diers, a magazine-fed ele­phant gun, and put her marks­man­hip skills to good use, blow­ing sev­er­al zom­bies to pieces in quick suc­ces­sion. Miss Sharpe made sim­il­ar use of her ‘ect­oray orgon­at­or’ while Miss Spit, using her deflec­tion spell to avoid dam­age, charged straight into battle swinging a make­shift club. Cur­ruth­ers arrived just in time to see three men fall and found him­self hold­ing the defence togeth­er, using the bay­on­et on the end of his ele­phant rifle.

Pren­tiss pulled him­self out of the ruins of the power­house and, grabbing the huge span­ner as a club, looked around to take in the situ­ation. Spot­ting Marsh in the ruins of the tower, he burst through the line of zom­bies to join him, where he found the little thief attempt­ing to set up a Max­im machine gun. Between them, they got it braced and pro­ceeded to spray the nearest group of zom­bies with bul­lets, stop­ping fre­quently to unjam the weapon.

Gradu­ally, the tide of battle turned, although by the time the zom­bies were all des­troyed, so were all but four of the soldiers.

As a res­ult of run­ning out of time, the fol­low­ing was not actu­ally played through.

Once the battle was over, the sur­viv­ors picked through the bod­ies, sep­ar­at­ing the wounded from the dead and the undead. With his remain­ing troops secur­ing the peri­met­er, the Com­mand­ant gathered the team togeth­er in the mess to thank them for their help in fight­ing off the zom­bies. Over­com­ing his pride, he admit­ted that they had been right and that there was obvi­ously a link between the exper­i­ments and the zom­bies. Turn­ing to the sci­ent­ist, Mr Chester, he informed him that the exper­i­ments were over until they had been thor­oughly examined by oth­er mil­it­ary sci­ent­ists. Chester, his tem­per flar­ing, stalked out of the room, swear­ing to take his ideas to the Amer­icas where they would “appre­ci­ate the genius!”

The team were escor­ted back to Lon­don by the Com­mand­ant him­self, where reports were made to Mr Rooke, and mat­ters between the Min­istry and the Roy­al Eso­ter­ic Guards were taken ‘upstairs’. The team were con­grat­u­lated on their hand­ling of the affair and Cur­ruth­ers, Marsh and Lady Ant­o­nia were finally pro­moted to full Field Agent status. 


The Roy­al Eso­ter­ic Guards are the mil­it­ary equi­val­ent to the Min­istry and form the sixth of the elite Guards regi­ments. As well as reg­u­lar sol­diers of the line, trained in com­batting super­nat­ur­al as well as mundane foes, their organ­isa­tion includes a num­ber of autonom­ous research and intel­li­gence teams, enabling them to deal with most prob­lems without help from oth­er mil­it­ary units that might not be able to cope with the same kind of con­di­tions. If Cur­ruth­ers had remained in the Army, he may well have joined them. Obvi­ously, they are still cap­able of mak­ing mistakes.

As mass battles go, this one actu­ally went quite quickly, it just did­n’t seem like it.

Sav­age Worlds is def­in­itely quite good at hand­ling large num­bers of bat­tling char­ac­ters; the “two hits and you’re down” approach to Extras is much easi­er to track than hit points, just requir­ing mark­ers for Shaken fig­ures. The play­ers quickly real­ised that ganging up on oppon­ents is the key to suc­cess, both for the +1 mul­tiple attack­ers bonus and for the guar­an­teed kill on a Shaken Extra. I was also able to hand groups of five sol­diers to indi­vidu­al play­ers to man­age, tak­ing some of the pres­sure off me.

The prob­lem was basic­ally with the num­ber of play­ers. We had an extra play­er this week, tak­ing us to sev­en, which slowed things down enough to get in the way. The play­ing card ini­ti­at­ive sys­tem can also cause delays, as play­ers fre­quently for­get to hand them back after their action or at the end of the round. Even hand­ing the whole ini­ti­at­ive sys­tem to a play­er did­n’t work as well as I’d have liked. Chat­ter amongst the play­ers is always a dis­trac­tion and the only way I can see around this would be to reduce the num­bers – or start delib­er­ately killing off characters!

One ele­ment that did­n’t get to play out was that Pren­tiss and Miss Sharpe’s two-pronged attack on the elec­tric­al trans­mis­sion sys­tem was suc­cess­ful: the zom­bies were about to col­lapse of their own accord when the battle ended for the even­ing. In ret­ro­spect, I prob­ably should have upped the num­ber of zom­bies to increase the appar­ent danger then had them col­lapse at a suit­able dra­mat­ic moment, but I’m try­ing to avoid too much GM’s fiat – even for effect.

We did­n’t quite fin­ish in the main ses­sion, although the battle was vir­tu­ally over, so the wrap-up was kind of assumed.

The game is now on hold until the autumn.