Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Limehouse Tale: GURPS Horror Noir in London's Chinatown

The gaming group's first foray into GURPS went quite well.  They are playing as agents for the Directorate for Esoteric Affairs, a paranormal intelligence branch of the British government in 1933.  Their first mission was to solve the murder of a 16 year old girl in Chinatown - a bizarre strangulation that left a putrid green disembodied hand wrapped around her throat.

The mystery led them through a tale of star-crossed lovers, gang warfare, construction of the London Underground, ancient Chinese mortuary rites, snazzy nightclubs, opium dens, a rotting opera house, a dragon lady, and a one-handed, hopping, undead, chi-stealer.  What else does a story need?  While I intended for it to last only one game session - I clearly don't know where to trim - so the adventure took three times as long.  It turned out to be very fun.  Well, at least I enjoyed it. :)

The adventure focused a lot on the investigation of the murder and the piecing together of what happened, and whodunit, by the players.  I don't know that I've ever done so much planning for this type of game.  There were only two combats during the three sessions.  Well, there was a third, but it was over in a second (really - ONE SECOND) with two punches to the face.  GURPS can get nasty like that.

I found an old map from the 1700's of a section of the Limehouse district, studied it, compared it with the Google maps of the same area, and did some extrapolations of how the area might have looked like in 1933.  Then I did some downright 'making shit up' by deciding that Ropemakers' Field Street would be a more middle class area controlled by the local tong, and The Fore Street would be a more lower-class dock area controlled by the up-and-coming Hong Kong controlled triad.  The whole rival gang thing screamed 'Montague and Capulet' to me, so I had to add in a pair of unfortunate lovers, and the story just kind of wrote itself.  Well, that and discovering that the whole area was being dug up for expansion of the London Underground that year.  Improperly handled Chinese corpses have a nasty tendency of causing havoc, doncha know.

I'm going to be posting some of my notes on the game - notes I wrote before I started, as well as annotations about where my ideas changed as the game progressed.  So stay tuned!

- Ark

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