30 Snow Hill blended in with the rest of the neighborhood and certainly, to my eye, did not really stand out as being unique, and yet Holmes insisted its pedigree was quite something. Without going into further detail, he led us through the building’s front door and we scanned the name plates at the foot of the landing.
Discovering an “A. Cussler” on one of the plates, we ascended the stairs to locate and investigate 30D Snow Hill. We found the door to the young lady’s flat unlocked and slipped in.
A quick search about discovered no signs of trouble or indications that anything was particularly amiss. Holmes did find, however, a receipt for a garment dropped off at the Snow Hill Menders, dated for pickup on the day of Miss Cussler’s disappearance. I should say that this professional establishment would more than likely have to be our next stop.
With mender’s receipt in hand, we alighted from the handsome carriage in front of the Snow HIll Menders. We entered to find a sole occupant, the shopkeeper, a rather mousy looking fellow, who immediately enquired as to our needs.
We described to him Miss Cussler and presented him the receipt. He did indeed remember her, confirming that she was indeed one of his regular customers. He could not recall when he had last seen her but did have one of her garments that she had dropped off for mending and cleaning.
Upon close examination of the garment Holmes quickly decided upon our next stop. When I gave him a quizzical look he observed that the hem of the garment had the scent of a particular grease, a grease, he assured me, that was quite unique to the horse drawn Omnibuses that ran throughout the city…
The Snow Hill Omnibus slowed enough for Holmes and I to leap aboard. The horse drawn vehicle then lurched forward, as the driver released his brake and prodded his steeds to continue up the street.
Despite his Yorkshire-borne reticence, the driver, after a period of questioning that included three stops, a furlong of lurching travel, and several schillings begrudgingly handed over, indicated that he did indeed remember Abigail, that she was a regular passenger on his equine driven conveyance, and that she’d hurriedly alighted on the night in question, near the Snow Hill Public House.
After but a moment the driver then suddenly recalled that she’d left behind a pamphlet, which he dutifully produced, which he’d found in her customary seat. It's decidedly Socialist content, and the manner of Miss Cussler's disappearance, gave us the distinct impression that she had consciously decided on a new life for herself, and thus we concluded this "game" was over.
We brought our London-based game of Osprey's In Her Majesty's Name to the halls of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, in support of its run of The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes. We were set up just outside the entrance to the exhibit, in a major thoroughfare through the very heart of the ground floor of the Museum, a great location! My thanks to Barry and Rob, and Rob's two daughters, for actively participating in the game and helping to make our mission there successful. Barry and I began the game with the Scotland Yard and Moriarty (aka Lord Curr) Adventuring Companies, respectively, and when Rob arrived we further divided up the figures of the two sides between the five of us, using cards drawn each phase of a turn rather than one initiative die roll at the beginning of each turn. Borrowing a little from Blood & Plunder, spades beat hearts which beat diamonds which beat clubs for descending numeric initiative order.
The roughly 6' by 38" setup depicted a rough approximation of the Snow Hill area around Saint Sepulchre's in London. Highlights of the table included 4Ground buildings, a facade for St. Bart's hospital built for the game by Daniel, and a Department 56 Fenway Park ceramic piece re-branded as Holborn Viaduct train station, all sitting on a Cigarbox felt mat. Street lights and pedestrians were by Ironclad, fences by Blotz, vehicles and horses by Warbases, and figures by North Star. My special thanks to Kurt for lending me his beautifully painted companies.
Scotland Yard's main objective was to solve the mystery of the missing Abigail Cussler, while Moriarty's objective was to prevent same from occurring. Holmes in the first instance, Watson if Holmes was eliminated, needed to visit a series of locales around Snow Hill, collecting an envelope from me when they reached their next destination, which contained a story snippet that sent them on to their next locale. There were six such special locations and, depending on the first one they chose to visit, the thread of clues leading from one to the next would be different, resulting in one of six different final outcomes that would explain what ultimate fate had befallen poor Abigail.
Special rules were designed to simulate a busy London. Vehicles were moved autonomously along city streets by 2d10" at the end of each turn. Figures could end their move and attempt to leap on a moving vehicle by passing a Pluck test. Success allowed them to make a second, optional, Pluck test to wrest control of the contrivance from its driver, allowing them to control its movement the following turn and making success for other allied figures wanting to leap on automatic. Borrowing from an article I read about Gangs of Rome in Wargames Illustrated, large squares in city streets represented "Crowds". To shorten movement distances on a large table like this, figures could end their move on a Crowd square and with a successful Pluck test, vanish into the Crowd, to be placed exiting any other Crowd on the table the following turn. This led to a great bit of chasing and second guessing where figures were heading through the busy streets of London. Crowds remained stationary but were displaced or relocated when I decided the gunfire or the vehicles in an area were getting too alarming or getting in the way.
The game was great fun and ran surprisingly smoothly despite having to pause a lot to explain to onlookers what we were about. Highlights included Moriarty (Curr) being taken out of the game by a lucky shot on the first turn. Cinematic moments as figures lept on and took control of vehicles only to have adversaries do the same and engage in hand-to-hand aboard those vehicles. Major fisticuffs occurring in the "flat" which Holmes and Watson needed to enter but that Moriarty's men happened to choose to take refuge in on the first turn. And a finale involving a struggle for control of the Omnibus in the center of the table.
There were passing members of the public that were casual admirers of our setup, families with kids that were in awe and stopped to look at what we were doing, and many folks who told us they were gamers too and had experience playing this of that. We shared with those who paused to look what we were doing and why and, if they looked a little more than casually interested, told them about our club, about the venue we meet at (Tea + Victory) and handed out our club's business card.
All in all a great day that we'll happily repeat again in late August (look for another, shorter, post-event report tagged on to this one then).