Set in 1916 in London during the first World War, Last Flight of the Albatross is set in a London apartment where a secret seance is convened to learn the truth about a German airship brought down over Salisbury Plain…
This game has been run twice: initially at Fallcon in Oxford in 2001, secondly at a Cambridge convention in 2004.
- Number of players: 13
- Setting: A society apartment
- Time to run: 3.5 hours (including setup and debrief - actual game lasts for about 2.5 hours)
- Space Requirements: Large room
- Author: CJR
- Publisher: n/a
Easter 1916. The German Zeppelin ZXIII, nicknamed Die Albatross in German Army Airship circles because of its unlucky designation number finally left the safety of the Belgian shore and headed out along the Channel towards it's rendezvous with fate. Two previous missions had been aborted owing to technical problems, and the crew prayed that it might be third time lucky.
Their commander, Baron Max von Carlshof of the German Army had no time for such nonsense. The weather was clear and a low easterly drove the huge ship over the Channel like a majestic bird, the summer sun playing warmly on the smooth seas below. It was a daylight raid, and the Baron took delight in explaining the workings of the ship, navigation and the unfolding panorama to the two civilains who watched anxiously from the control car.
At 5pm the ship slid gently over the English coastline, passing north between Portland Bill and Poole in Dorset. The craft had followed the Channel and the favourable wind for some time, but now turned it's ne north east, and slowly crept over the summer patchwork of green fields and sleepy villages below. Dorset, then Wiltshire, and finally, as the sun sunk low over Slaisbury Plain, the great ship began to lazily circle, lower and lower…
I'll let the correspondent of the London times take up the story…
German Airship Crashes, Salisbury Plain -
Extraordinary scenes were today reported from Wiltshire where a German airship crashed last night.
A few minutes after this the great zeppelin began to make a high pitched sound, which Mr Applethorpe compares with a noise of a crowd of flies disturbed on a freshly dead lamb. A storm was brewing from nowhere in the clear summer evening, and the sky darkened, a phenomena noted by all of the dozen or so witnesses to the final act of this dreadful drama. At 6.17pm the ship suddenly seemed buffeted by a sharp wind, and rose some hundred foor, spinning. The crew screamed in terror, and it seems certain that from that moment their fate was sealed, for the ship flexed and groaned and the screaming of metal girders was clearly audible from the ground, as was a tremendous roaring sound which it may be assumed was the lighter than air gas escaping the stricken vessel.
Moments later a great gout of red flame was seen to flare towards the tail of the craft, which dropped suddenly, and whirling crazily the ship plummeted to earth. Within seconds of impact it had been entirely consumed by fires as of hell, and the crew were all lost before any assistance could be brought to bear.
By ten pm the crash was the talk of Salisbury, and a large crowd, estimated at perhaps five hundred folk, had gathered to look at the great blackened skeleton of the airship. By the time this correspondent arrived and despite the potential dangers sightseers had already made off with parts of the wreckage and crash debris, and the flames had left very little apart from the great gaunt skeleton of the terrible bird of war.
A company of soldiers from a unit which must remain anonymous owing to reporting restrictions arrived by one a.m., and collected what debris was easily portable, as well as arranging for the hideously burnt corpses of the crew to be collected and removed for interment. Thye also are believed to have assessed the damage done to the area by the bombing, which seems peculiar in that previous zeppelin raids have concentrated on Londonand the ports, whereas this raid seemed to have no function apart from scaring sheep which were grazing on the great plain.
One wonders what the ghosts of the Druids made of the terrible carnage they witnessed, and whether they were reminded of ancient fiery sacrifices which Caesar assures us were once practiced on this very spot?
Nonetheless the recovery of the zeppelin will doubtless be of great interest to the War Ministry, and First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill has already expressed his delight at the capture of this example of perfidious Hun technology.
Well that is the story as far as you have seen it so far, from the crash three days ago. A wall of silence fell almost immediately, but the crash has been talk of the town, and several pub ballads sing the praises of Farmer Applethorpe who brought down a Zeppelin with his shotgun!
Now it seems a Society Baroness has been asked to host a top secret seance to discover the truth of what happened… so the players gather, and the game begins!
Cast of Last Flight of the Albatross
- Andrew Harvey Squadron Ldr, Royal Flying Corp
- Donald Andrew George MacFraser], The Laird - sinister occultist
- Harry James, Disreputable Ghosthunter
- Lady Alice Wardour de la Fleur, Formidable society matriarch
- Colonel Derbyshire, Military Gent
- Delphine Giddens, Governess
- Richard Hannay], Adventurous chap
- Lawrence Henry Spratt, Bookish Soldier
- Lieutenant Thomas Henry Higginson, Soldier
- Mabel Hawthorne, passionate American mystic
- Clovis Sangrail], (male) Sardonic wit, bright young thing
- Eoghain O Neil], Irish Mystic & Civil Servant
- Madamoiselle Clarissa de Compiene, Beautiful French Young Lady
Steve Hatherley's review of the October 2001 run at Fallcon: Last Flight of the Albatross was unusual - heavy on the background (I had eight pages to read) and with some spooky props - but lots of fun. Set during the first world war, the Albatross was a German airship that crashed on Salisbury Plain. Something rum was up, however, and we were holding a seance in London to try and uncover what the Germans were up to. The game was excellent at creating a deep sense of foreboding: I was a survivor of the trenches and witness to the Angel of Mons. Deeply weird things were happening to me - and my sense of dread and foreboding gradually increased throughout the game until the final climax. When, having done what I needed to do (I won't go into it exactly - hopefully this will be played again), I was completely and utterly shattered. Excellent.