drcpunk (drcpunk) wrote,

Spoilerific Write Up of 1897 Larp

I played Sarah Bernhardt, French actress and spy. Her loyalties were to France first, although she wanted to help the Poles (her daughter in law was Polish nobility) and Jews (she herself was Jewish), as well as Oscar Wilde.

Like a few others, I had the Fascinate ability. This worked really well because it was worded carefully. Characters had to tell her something that was not common knowledge, in an attempt to impress her, but exactly what was up to the player. Most folks didn't give me their deepest secret -- but did try to give me something juicy, rather than taking the easiest way out. This ability is a great conversational ice breaker and lets folks reveal things they want to get out, but haven't figured out an in character way to reveal.

I found Dear Oscar quickly, and gave him the first of my three Favored by Sarah Bernhardt cards. I got his agreement to put me in his latest play. I also touched base with Dear Bertie, aka Prince Edward, and with Dear Felix, aka President Fauvre. Poor Felix was in such a dreadful state, as we'd, ah, lost the Eiffel Tower made of diamonds to give to the Queen. (As I understand it, this wasn't stolen, but was misplaced back in France, pre-game.)

I joined forces with Irene Adler, Sigmund Freud, and Comte Raoul to try to learn the truth behind the death of Comte Raoul's brother, Philippe. This was particularly important as Philippe had been a spy for France. I never did solve the mystery, but I did learn the important thing from Mrs. Kingsley: Philippe had been brainwashed by Thuggees. He attacked the "Opera Ghost", not the other way around, and not for the glory of France. Poor Philippe.

Sigmund Freud had a field day psychoanalyzing me (oh boy, did Sarah have Mother Issues), and Sarah learned that he was Jewish, and learned of the Zionist movement. She sent a telegram to her contacts to learn more about that, and learned of their representative at the jubilee. Freud took a sample of Sarah's blood.

Sarah was able to prove, to her own satisfaction, at least, that she was a better spy than Marie Curie. Marie, as far as I know, never knew Sarah spied for France. She made it clear that her own first loyalty was to Poland, something Sarah had long suspected. This wasn't really a problem. I think Sarah needed to be the alpha female around, and clearly, Marie was no threat to her. And, Sarah put Marie in contact with crowned heads she'd met so that Marie might free her father from one of the Tsar's work camps.

This gave her the idea of a World Tour for World Peace, and meant I now had a goal that took work, but was accomplishable. This tour happened Saturday night, after game. Sarah carried messages and smuggled things for France, the Jews, the Poles, and the new feminist conspiracy that Margarite Durand told her about. She thought that last was rather silly, but had no intrinsic objection to it.

She saw Harry Houdini's performance and overheard Roosevelt asking him to break into the rooms of Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie (thanks to a Keen Hearing ability), and weaseled out of Houdini that he did not believe in magic.

She showed up at the International Convocation before it started, getting theoretical permission from Kaiser Wilhelm and Franz Joseph to do her tour. The Kaiser's wife invited Sarah to sit with her, and so I actually got to attend this event. I did try to be quiet, but when Tsar Nicholas got confused with all the accusations, counter accusations, offense given and taken, attempted apologies and resolutions concerning the railroad, when all the poor man wanted to do was announce Russia's alliance with France, I did try to translate for him.

Sarah (indicating Salisbury and Mycroft): They are sorry. Build your railroad. If Afghanistan attacks Britain, will you help, and what do you want in return?

Other good lines:

Lord Salisbury: Prince Edward, would you hunt down Count Dracula for me?

On questions about whether the French or British troops should leave the Fashoda first:

Lord Salibury: They can leave holding hands for all I care!

I gave Carnegie a note about what I had overheard from Houdini and Roosevelt. I'm not sure what the upshot of this was, but he was grateful, and also approved of the World Peace tour, even though he didn't have the cash to sponsor it. President Fauvre did, and gave it to me, in the middle of trying to solve crisis after crisis. I don't approve of everything the man did, but I must say he tried his best to look after his own.

Sarah had been quite impressed by Prince Edward's attempts to involve himself in politics at the International Convocation, so I gave him the second of her Favored by Sarah Bernhardt cards, and I gave President Fauvre the thrid.

Sarah spoke with the Zionist representative, Lou Andreas Salome, and then with President Fauvre, who agreed that France might well host the Zionist conference. He had reasons for not wanting the Dreyfus Affair reopened, and Sarah understood those (not realizing that the president was mistaken in some of his assumptions), but the ill feeling that generated might be mitigated by hosting the Zionists.

Nelly Bly recruited Sarah for her competition with Phileas Fogg, which was how Sarah got to meet Queen Victoria, a goal of hers. The Empress of Germany got her in, and the Queen was patient, although she saw right through Sarah's flattery, and did want to know exactly what Sarah expected her to do about the competition. As Sarah didn't actually know what options the queen had, she asked the queen to talk to Fogg. The queen readily agreed, and said she'd talk to Lord Salisbury as well.

But, the competition was to go forward as planned. When Sarah learned this, she asked the Princess of Wales if the queen minded her participating on Bly's side. The Princess doubted it, and later confirmed that the queen didn't mind.

This put Sarah much more at ease, and she attended a rehearsal of Dear Oscar's latest play, An Ideal Husband. She quickly rearranged the casting to her liking, seizing the role of the older woman on the grounds that she was too old to play young ingenue types. That could be for Lily Langtry, who did a fine job of delivering Mabel's lines. Irene Adler played Mabel's beloved, while Aubrey Beardsley gave a passionate performance as the husband of Sarah's character. Bram Stoker played Mabel's father, while Oscar had an author's cameo as a servant. He promised to make more copies of the script, and thus left with the only copy we had of it.

Meanwhile, Sarah spoke to Mr. Stoker, and used her Fascinate ability on him.

Lisa (perhaps too honest): So, you don't have to tell me your deepest, darkest secret --

Nat: Oh, no, I think I want to.

And so, Mr. Stoker mentioned his stay at Dr. Seward's asylum following memory loss and nightmares. Sarah made the connection to Freud's similar situation, and mentioned the nightmares the doctor had, a hand covered in blood. Poor Mr. Stoker was so stricken that Sarah ran to fetch a doctor at once. She found both Seward and Freud, but Mr. Stoker had vanished from the ballroom, even though she returned within seconds!

After dinner, some recasting was necessary, as Lily Langtry was, ah, no longer available. Fortunately, Florence Farr was willing to fill in. Unfortunately, Dear Oscar never arrived, and thus, neither did the script. Fortunately, Mr. Stoker was able to save the day with the aid of Sarah's 1896 edition of Idylls of the King (aka my edition of same).

This meant that Mr. Wilde was already scandalized when the Bly-Fogg competition began. Count Dracula won a fairly close fencing match with some impressive moves, while Tesla conceded defeat in an Applied Physics debate with Lord Kelvin. Then, the fashion competition began, with Dear Oscar representing England and the Empress Elisabeth representing foreigners.

The Empress displayed an impressive multicultural ensemble. Mr. Wilde, wearing a trench coat, said that she had merely proven that she could spend lots of money and collect an outfit to make her look beautiful, which was something many people did. He then opened his trench coat, revealing a red X of body paint covering... most... of the essentials. He bowed, then turned his back and bowed again.

Queen Victoria: Mr. Wilde, you are excused.

So, the score was 2-1 in favor of the foreigners, or of the women, depending on which version of the contest one followed, with everyone doing their best to expedite the competition. Annie Oakley won for the foreigners in the shooting competition, leaving foreigners / women the victors, regardless of the results of the final competition.

This was a storytelling competition between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sarah Bernhardt, which was very cordial, and which the queen pronounced a draw. Sarah privately believed that her own performance had been the stronger and that the queen was being diplomatic.

At this point, Sarah's dramatic obligations were done for the evening, as Mr. Budge's Egyptian Exhibition had, ah, been canceled. She had already had evening entertainment from young Aleister Crowley, who boasted of his victory in the masked baccarat game.

And, Sarah found money literally lying on the floor. That is, someone left an A/B/C influence card behind, and I had no way of returning it, as there was no name on it. Sarah spoke with Mr. Carnegie and Queen Marie, and tried to determine whether to give it to the Jews, the Poles, or Mr. Carnegie to figure out how best to use. But, as he and Queen Marie both agreed that education was paramount, she decided to give it to the Polish Flying University.

Alas, such successes as Sarah enjoyed were shadowed by Queen Victoria's illness. Sarah was able to bring both Holmes brothers and Ayesha to the queen, as asked, but beyond that, there was little the actress could do. She told the men guarding the queen to send for her if the queen wished to laugh.

The next day, Sarah returned from her worldwide tour. The queen was not doing any better. England was in a precarious state, and President Fauvre prepared to leave for America with Aleister Crowley, both men talking about magic. Fauvre told Sarah to go back to France, but she delayed, wanting to help the queen, if she could. She joined Dear Oscar, and put him in touch with other people working on mystical means of curing the queen, even though she still did not believe in magic.

There then followed a long sequence of people visiting the ailing queen while Sarah stood in the doorway. Mrs. Fogg tried something that worried people, but apparently, this did neither harm nor good. Oscar apologized to the queen for his recent behavior, and went to gather his forces for a ritual to contact the spirit they believed responsible for the queen's condition to ask if they could appease it. They also had a ritual that might bring the recently deceased back to life, but Prince Edward absolutely forbade it.

Bertie: No zombie queens!

Sarah confirmed that Queen Victoria herself was quite opposed to the idea.

The prince and princess of Wales discussed matters of state with their mother, who was unwilling to knight or ennoble Oscar Wilde.

Prince Edward: Then, will you at least pardon him?

That she agreed to do.

Finally, the ritual took place outside the queen's quarters. The goddess Kali, speaking through Mrs. Fogg, explained that she hated the British because they had destroyed her cultists, who sounded like very unpleasant fellows indeed. She said that there was nothing they could do to appease her, and that queen and country were falling, and the British Empire would die.

Kali: And the irony of it is you did it all to yourself. I didn't have to do a thing.

At this point, I fear Sarah was responsible, at least indirectly, for Oscar Wilde's death. She asked the queen if the queen wished Sarah to move a chair for her to see what was going on, and the queen agreed.

Sarah: Ah, your goddessliness, the queen of England would like to speak with you.

Kali: What do you want to say, bitch?

Queen Victoria: I did not say I wished to speak to her. I wished merely to listen.

Kali: Your empire's dying. So are you -- sorry about that. Nothing personal against you.

The queen decided that she had heard enough, and she retired to her chambers.

This is where Dear Oscar proved himself brave and noble, but not at all wise. While he made no serious objections when Kali called him names, he strenuously objected to her calling the Queen of England a bitch, so he slapped her. She struck him down with lightning, and then killed the queen's (NPC) guards when they tried to retaliate. Then, she walked off.

Sarah relayed this to the queen, who, even though she was the one dying, tried to comfort the actress, asking if they were close, and if it would make Sarah happy if she ennobled Wilde posthumously.

Sarah: I think he would like that, but would your people?

Queen Victoria: I like it. And, if I like it, my people will like it.

One more attempt was made to save the queen. It seemed that there was some odd kind of medicine that cured some odd kinds of ailments. Alas, it could not save the queen. It did buy her a very little more time, and made her less reluctant to do things like walk.

So, there was a presentation of diamonds for her after all. Sarah joined this, as the only French PC (dumb enough to still be) in England. She had one small diamond, given to her by Hugo for bringing his characters to life in a play, but it was better than a misplaced Eiffel Tower from a French president hiding in America and commanding his nation to worship Kali.

The queen accepted all gifts, announced Wilde's ennobling, knighted a few of her subjects, including Sherlock Holmes, and ennobled Mycroft, much to his chagrin. And then, she fell down dead, as the game ended.

I am told that, while the British Empire is doomed, England will not be destroyed, so Sarah can actually make her way back to France. I am also told that Kali is not likely to be walking the Earth for long, given that she has what she wants and will go back to sleep. If so, I wonder if Sarah might be able to become the President of France. Lord Salisbury was willing to endorse that, although he doubted that his endorsement would mean much.
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