Wednesday, 3 March 2021

From Prussia with Rubber Gloves: A Bond Film for 7TV2

Chubby Brusselsprout presents:
The New James Bond Film!

From Prussia, With Rubber Gloves

Professor Ogilvy is interviewed beside the cylinder by 7TV anchorman Karl

No-one would have believed, in the last years of the twentieth century, that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than our own. The chances of anything coming from Mars were a million to one, they said.

Which was, they calculated, a considerably lower chance than the real and present dangers of genetically modified dinosaurs, time-travelling robotic assassins, various types of zombie apocalypse, or the reappearance of the Nazis that had been hiding on the moon since 1945. But all of these threats (surely) were just things brought on by the overenthusiastic imaginations of frustrated scientists. There were no such things as tyrannosaurus parks, eradicators or walking corpses. And the Nazis hadn't gone to the moon, of course.

They are here

The Nazis hadn't needed to go to the moon. 

Years before the Third Reich, scientists working under Bismarck had kidnapped both H G Wells and Jules Verne and using their combined knowledge of space and time had already established a substantial base on the dark side of Mars, where descendants of the Prussian aristocracy had been living in secrecy and relative comfort for decades, waiting for the right time to return. Attended by their robotic servants, they kept themselves isolated from the earth, where, they concluded, things really didn't seem to be getting a lot better as the years advanced. 

These Prussians were peaceful, brilliant, and highly advanced. Their computers and robots had replaced all menial labour, and they lived a life of luxury. That is, until they made one particularly-super-computer called Netflix responsible for their planetary defence system. Within microseconds it had concluded that the best way to protect the planet was to remove all the troublesome Prussians, and duly launched a nuclear strike that obliterated the entirety of the planet surface.  

After Judgement Day, the surface of Mars looked much the same as before

Fortunately, some of the robots survived, and in the years that passed since what became known as "Judgement Day",  an ideal new robotic society based on scientific absolutes and Prussian traditions arose. From the great central pickelhauber-spiked castle, moustache-waxed aristobots ruled over the beer-swilling cybersausage-eating robo-peasants who worked in the Combined Central Brewery and Cyber-Sausage Factory, while smartly-polished T-200 eradicatorbots marched up and down outside with strict discipline, with no-one to eradicate and nothing much to do but look splendid in their smart blue uniforms and spiked helmets.

But then came the fateful day when Netflix declared that the situation was never going to get any better and therefore the time was right to return to earth. The aristobots planned their strategies, the robo-peasants prepared extra provisions of beer and cybersausage, the armybots sharpened their helmet spikes, and the reconbots, who would be the first on the scene, pulled on their masks and rubber gloves* and lubricated their probes in the hope of soon finding an earthling or two to investigate.

*H G Wells had advised long ago that germs on the earth would be a possible problem for a Martian invading force, hence good hygiene is recognised as very important, especially if you intend to take samples of the local population using some sort of probe.

Screenshot of the game in play, via Zoom

This is the narrative of the next episode in a series of games of 7TV2 increasingly loosely based on the titles of Bond films, played in sequence. Many thanks to Al (heroic cast) and Andrew (villains) for playing the game. The episode was played during lockdown on the Zoom platform with additional cameras provided to give a whole table view and a model-eye view of the action, and the dice rolling. I moved the figures around as instructed and refereed the action.

Q Branch make final preparations for a new insurance claim

As they finally got the fires under control and the smoke began to clear, Q emphasised his point again. "And that is why you must always remember to turn the catch on the briefcase the other way before opening it."

"Now pay attention, 007," Q continued, changing the subject. "If you recall where we left things last time, we were investigating some highly interesting alien material you recovered from the arctic."
"A #54 torque ratchet, I seem to remember," Bond casually replied. He was on form today, smart and sophisticated at the same time. Shame it so rarely stayed that way after a few Martinis. Q, who seemed to be slightly irritated, stared at him.

"If I might continue," he continued, "We've discovered quite a few interesting things about it, you understand. It's made of an alien material unlike anything on the earth, and it's got some strange alien symbols on it. For a while we didn't think we were getting anywhere. Every time we switched it on it just seemed to crackle a bit and give off a smell of ozone and bacon. But now we realise that when we do that, rather odd things happen in the vicinity."

"You're referring to Moneypenny's hair?" Bond interrupted. For no apparent reason, she'd had a change of style recently and Bond had thought the new pink look rather fetching. 

"Do pay attention," Q continued. "All sorts of odd things, though nothing particularly serious. Lab technicians disappearing, lost socks reappearing, inanimate objects moving around, small animals turning up in unusual places, Moneypenny's hair changing colour for no apparent reason. That sort of thing. At first we thought someone was playing a trick. But now we realise that every time the object is activated, it affects the dimensional stability of the surrounding area and quantums of oddness are released."

"I know what you're going to ask," Q enthused. "Well, there are an infinite number of dimensions, all of which exist completely independently of each other. When the dimensional stability is affected, these  come into contact. Now certain advanced civilisations appear to use this as a means of travel through the universe, making precise adjustments to the stability of spacetime with a tool like this #54 torque ratchet. It's an extremely sensitive process, which if not made with perfect precision can result in the release of quantums of oddness, which are localised changes to reality that cause strange things to happen. Well, we hope they're localised. We've released quite a few of them recently."
His voice tailed off as a call came through on his earpiece. "I'm sorry, 007," Q said, "We'll have to continue this fascinating talk another time. If you'll excuse me, I need to check up on some hamsters that have appeared in M's drinks cabinet."

I wasn't going to ask that, Bond thought. I only came down to Q Branch to check if the Aston was ready.

Far, far above Horshell Common, unseen by anyone on earth, several squadrons of pickelhauber-spiked assault ships, brimming with laser-musket-armed spiked-helmeted T-200 eradicator assaultbots, their robo-faces hidden behind their leather  respirators, rubber gloves covering their robo-hands, ready to march out onto the unsuspecting earth, moved into their invasion formations, waiting for the recon team to report back, and the attack orders that would almost certainly follow.

Top-down view of the table

SETUP

The table represents a park in suburban England. There is a central lake , a road at one end (heroes), a crashed spiked cylinder at the other (Prussians), and various features between, including a bandstand and a hut selling refreshments.


Bond watches from the Aston, while the police ready themselves in their own vehicles

Many miles below, gazing out of the window of the Aston, Bond sighed again. He'd wanted to spend the evening with that rather attractive new girl in the typing pool, not go to Surrey. He hated Surrey. He'd tried to tell M this was a job for the police.  But after the last mission he was now the expert on aliens, apparently, even though everyone knew the chances of anything coming from Mars were a million to one. And, I mean, really? Another crashed alien spaceship? Couldn't these script writers come up with something original for once?

Bystanders in cosplay outfits

Through his binoculars, he surveyed Horshell Common. It was an almost-typical summer evening and people were, in general, going about their business as if nothing unusual had happened at all. Groups of people, their picnics finished and packed away, were bathing in the last warm rays of the sun around the lake. Some hungry folk in cosplay outfits were eating chips from the refreshments stand, while some shiftier types were smoking beside the bandstand, trying to look cool and keep away from the unusually heavy police presence, while closer to the spiked cylinder sticking out of the ground on the other side of the park, which had been fenced off with 'POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS' tape, the scientist Ogilvy was being interviewed for the lunchtime news.

Jake and Elwood try to avoid the attention of the police

Bond heard the sound of shuffling feet nearby and lowered the binoculars. A filthy tramp, a shock of grey hair sticking up out of his dirty mac, was approaching. Concerned about possible contamination, Bond made to move away. The tramp started to say something, then broke out into a violent, hacking cough. When he'd finished, he spoke again, with a strong Glaswegian accent and a stronger smell of whisky.

"Could I borrow a match?" The question caught Bond off guard. The tramp, realising there was a problem, quickly searched his pockets and after revealing a half a packet of extra-strong mints and an empty whisky bottle, pulled out a curved pipe with a wooden body of a style that had gone out of fashion at least twenty years ago. 

"Sorry," the tramp said. Bond remained confused. The tramp was clearly waiting for something.

"Er... No." he replied, thinking quickly. "Here, have shome change and pish off, will you."

A filthy tramp approaches the Aston

The tramp's eyes scanned the scene, while he whispered through his teeth. "You're supposed to say 'I use a lighter'."
"What?" Bond said, still confused. "Look, here'sh a fiver. Now bugger off."
"Then I say 'Better still' and you say 'Until they go wrong'. It's a code."
"Oh!" Suddenly Bond recalled the secret code and paused, trying to remember what came next. "It musht be shettled the gypshy way," he continued, confidently.
"Of for f** sake," the tramp responded, "Look, I'm DI McGuffin. I'm here to help you investigate."
Bond looked the tramp up and down. "Do you alwaysh dressh like thish?" He asked. "Can't chapsh like you afford a deschent tailor?"
"Don't be stupid," McGuffin responded, "I've gone undercover so as not to attract the attention of the press. Normally I wear a tie when I'm working."

THE CASTS

You can download the 7TV2 cards created for this episode by clicking on their names below. 

The police

James Bond and his Heroic Cast
James Bond, Action Hero (Star, 10 ratings)
Jock McGuffin, Tough Detective (Star, 10 ratings)
Sergeant Burke, Police Sergeant (Extra, 3 ratings)
9 Policemen (Extras, 3 models for 5 ratings)
Ogilvy the Scientist (Extra, 2 ratings)
Police Car (Vehicle, 4 ratings)
Police Van (Vehicle, 4 ratings)
The Aston (Vehicle, 8 Ratings)

Total 56

Space Prussians from Mars

The Villainous Robo-Prussian Cast
Baronbot Von Panzer (Star, 10 ratings) 
Dogbot Von Schnauser (Co-Star, 6 ratings) 
Arnie Das Kriegsmaschine, Giant Robot (Co-Star, 10 ratings)
8 Reconbots (Extras, 3 ratings each)

Total 50

The six points difference between the casts was made less relevant given the objective of the episode and the fact that Ogilvy starts the game in an extremely vulnerable location. And in any case, it's about the narrative, not who wins.

The 7TV van and news team

One additional vehicle was also available, the TV crew's van - mainly provided for visual appeal.

There are also a number of innocent bystanders in the park that effectively count as objectives - see Victory Points below.

Innocent bystanders find things to do in the park

SPECIAL RULES

All vehicles can be driven by any model except the giant robot and the robot dog. Any robot must first make a MIND test after entering a vehicle before it can operate it at all; anyone except  Bond trying to use one of the special effects of the Aston must make a mind test first each time this is attempted.

VICTORY CONDITIONS

The Prussians represent an advance reconaissance unit who have arrived on earth to check everything is ready for the arrival of the main invasion force. Their objective is to abduct and probe (for information) any and all bystanders and members of the opposing cast. The heroes are trying to stop them.

At the end of the game, the Prussians gain 1 victory point for every abducted model. The heroes gain 1 victory point for every surviving non-abducted bystander model. Other victory points are allocated as normal.

At the end of the game the tally of victory points will determine whether the invasion has been repulsed or not.

AND... ACTION!

Bond leads the police into action

With a squeal of tyres, Bond sets off in the Aston, accelerating into the park. Mud flies up into the faces of dodging bystanders as the manicured grass is ripped apart by the tread of the Aston's tyres. Behind, McGuffin jumps into the squad car.

"Follow that secret agent!", he shouts.

The professor pauses during the interview as a noise comes from the cylinder

On the other side of the park, a strange rasping sound emanates from the cylinder as its lid unscrews. Perhaps there is a man trapped inside? Unfortunately it turns out to be alien robots trying to get out.

Pedestrians dodge out of the path of the police

From the driver's seat of the Aston, Bond senses danger ahead, as Ogilvy and the TV crew stand dumbstruck, gazing at the top of the mysterious cylinder as it opens.

"AAARGGHH!" screams Ogilvy in panic

Just in time, Ogilvy realises the danger. He turns and runs in panic back towards the refreshments hut, desperately hoping Bond will save him from whatever is coming out of the cylinder. Or that he will at least be able to get a refreshing cup of tea.

Beside the cylinder, Karl of 7TV and his cameraman continue their commentary, oblivious to the danger.

"Just look cool, Jake. Try not to attract their attention."

The police van, appropriately filled with policemen, drives past the bandstand. Jake and Elwood play innocent as, ignoring them, the van continues on, heading for the far-more-suspicious-looking cosplayers.

"Halt! Zere is no escape, earthling!"

First to exit the cramped interior of the cylinder is the Prussian leader, von Panzer. Initially disoriented by the light and the open air around, he cannot resist chasing after the fleeing scientist. Holding his hand to his helmet, he attempts mind control but Ogilvy stubbornly resists.

"Must. Probe."

Karl and the cameraman are less fortunate. Two Prussian reconbots exit the cylinder and charge, suspicious attachments fitted to the barrels of their stun muskets. The unfortunate journalists are duly probed and prepared for abduction. 

Clearly there is more space inside the cylinder than appears from outside

A third reconbot leaves the cylinder, followed by Arnie the giant robot, who despite his size has no difficulty at all exiting the cylinder.

The giant robot advances towards its target

"No problemo", Arnie confirms.

The giant robots advances toward the cosplayers, who watch in awe. That is probably the coolest outfit they have ever seen.

"Right you lot, let's be 'aving you!"

But the police have other ideas. Ignoring Jake and Elwood, the van screeches to a halt beside the cosplayers and an excessive number of policemen jump into action.

The view from the cylinder

Too slow, Arnie and the Prussians can only watch in disappointment as the police round up the bystanders.

"Freeze, Prussian!"

With a turn of speed, the squad car drives between the lake and the refreshments hut and screeches to a halt. As pedestrians dodge to safety, McGuffin leaps out of the car, pistol ready, and shouts a warning at the approaching Prussian Aristobot.

Ogilvy moves to the rear of the car, hoping to jump in to safety, while out of shot and some distance behind, the Aston unexpectedly finds itself stuck in the mud and temporarily unable to move.

A view across the table. Note Rover camera.

The TV crew are unceremoniously rounded up by their abductors and taken back inside the cylinder. Von Schnauser, the Prussian robot dog, provides some support as Arnie continues his relentless advance.

"It's for your own safety"

Policemen quickly take statements from the cosplayers, who are duly rounded up and put in the van.

The Aston launches a rocket strike at the giant robot

Mud flies as the Aston gains purchase and Bond drives it around the hut so as to have a clear shot at the giant robot. Stealing the scene, he chooses this moment to launch its missiles.

There is a large explosion that causes some superficial damage to Arnie, who ignores it, concentrating on his target. He'll deal with Bond in a moment. 

Arnie focuses on his target

The Prussians continue their slow advance toward the police van. Arnie charges his heat ray.

"In the van, please, Ladies"

The police van turns, stopping alongside the girls playing beachball, and a police constable herds them into the back.

"Form a line!"

On the other side of the van, another constable escorts Jake and Elwood to the van as well. Despite their pleas of innocence, into the back of the van they go.

Sergeant Burke orders the rest of the police squad to form a line, though precisely how she intends to deal with the advancing giant robot is unclear.

"You cannot escape..."

Just a little too far from the action, all Arnie can do is watch disappointedly as the police do their best to take his targets away. But he then advances into range and chooses this moment to fire the heat ray at the police van.

All of a sudden, it is uncomfortably hot inside the van

Having ushered the bystanders into the van, two policemen are left outside. Unaccountably, they survive the blast of the heat ray. Unfortunately, those inside the van, all of whom are instantly roasted by the robot's weapon, do not.  

The trauma of this tragedy will stay with those two constables for many years.

"Reverse!!!"

The police give the order to pull back to safety. The patrol car reverses to pick up bystanders, leaving McGuffin to defend the position. Ogilvy, who is left behind, chases after the reversing police car.

"Wait for me!" he cries.
McGuffin is shot with a stun musket 

Suddenly, McGuffin finds himself in the open and vulnerable, and under fire from Prussian stun muskets, with Arnie now advancing in his direction. Left stunned and wounded, he is fortunate that the Prussians are too distant to attempt to probe him yet.

The Aston's machine guns prove ineffective, so Bond winds down the passenger side window to shoot with his Walter PPK.

"You. Vill. Come. Mit. Uns."

Von Schnauser and von Panzer leave Bond and McGuffin for Arnie to deal with. Unopposed, they lead another team of reconbots to abduct two bystanders who seem to have escaped the attention of the police. These unfortunately are dutifully probed and captured.

Maguffin resists the advancing robots

"Not so fast, robot," McGuffin cries as he regains consciousness and recovers, standing to face his enemy. Bond provides covering fire from the Aston.

"BOOM!" - where did they go?

Meanwhile, there is an inevitable explosion, to which the Prussians prove invulnerable but their probed victims do not. Two bystanders are spared the indignity of abduction by being blown to smithereens instead.

McGuffin shoots the reconbot

A shootout between McGuffin and a reconbot leaves the robot wounded, but Arnie's steady advance continues.

"Hasta la Vista, detective"
As McGuffin falls to another musket shot, the giant robot moves in and captures him in its giant pincers. Stunned, the policeman can do nothing to resist.

It is the last turn of the finale. Bond shoots from the car window in a desperate attempt to save his companion. Using the laser scope, one shot hits a vital area and Arnie falters, and with a last burst of action, another shot finds its mark and this is all it takes to stop the robot in its tracks.

The giant robot falls to the ground

In an epic final scene to the episode, as if in slow motion the giant robot falls to its knees and crumbles, crashing to the ground. McGuffin's abduction is prevented as Bond's final action saves the day.

EPILOGUE

Seeing their giant robot fall, it is clear to the Prussians that these earthlings are not quite as easy to defeat as they had suspected. Retreating to their cylinder, von Panzer relays the message to the high command. The invasion must be called off, at least until improvements are made to Arnie. Maybe he needs to be bigger?

Seeing the Prussians leave, and sensing the importance of the result, those survivors who are left alive and conscious cheer with relief.

----------------

"Two policemen and eight civilians burned to death, two vapourised and two unaccounted for, presumed abducted by aliens," M continued. "It's really not very impressive, is it, 007."

Bond wasn't quite sure what to say. He wanted to point out that he was licensed to kill, although there was an unwritten assumption that this didn't apply to innocent bystanders. Oh well.

"Shorry, ma'am," he conceded.

CREDITS

Players:

The Space Prussians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Andrew Sherrington

James Bond and the police . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alan Hall

Models:

James Bond . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Crooked Dice Miniatures

DI Jock McGuffin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Killer B Games

The police . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Killer B GamesCrooked Dice Miniatures

Von Panzer and Prussian reconbots . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Ironclad Miniatures

Von Schnauser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . WIld West Exodus

Arnie the Giant Robot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Crooked Dice Miniatures

Arnie's helmet . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Green Stuff

Bystanders. . . . . . . . . Studio MiniaturesSpectre MiniaturesKiller B GamesCrooked Dice MiniaturesWargames Foundry

Most of the scenery scratch-built by the author from cardboard and MDF

7TV2 Spy-Fi game from Crooked Dice, with custom cards produced for this episode from the 7TV Studios Casting Agency

No robots were harmed in the making of this picture.

"I'll be back"

James Bond will return, too, in his new adventure:

FISHFINGER

Coming to a cinema near you soon

2 comments:

  1. Fantastic report, Andy. Thanks also for doing all the hard work and providing a great game. Look forward to getting fishy!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Brilliant report always love reading them such great narrative!

    ReplyDelete