IntroductionThis page introduces the game and gives details about its setting. The full game background and rules that you need to play will be provided prior to the game by e-mail as a booklet in pdf format, along with your character sheet. They will also be provided in printed form at the game itself.
The Society for Lady and Gentleman Adventurers of GenevaThe Clockwork Café takes place during a meeting of the Society for Lady and Gentleman Adventurers of Geneva. The Society is neutral ground where all the great adventurers, from whatever side of the law, can come together to exchange tales of derring-do. Members must (and surprisingly do) remain polite to each other and any physical violence or threats of physical violence are strictly forbidden upon pain of permanent exclusion.
In the 10 years since it was formed by Richard Blanc and his co-host, Madame Helen Bach, the Society has gained a reputation as a Gentleman's (and Lady's) club for those of an adventurous nature. Tradition has it that members outdo each other with stories of their amazing exploits, and the swapping of tall tales is the order of the day (note that there is no formal mechanism for this; don't worry, we don't expect you to have to sit and listen to others going on about how great they are!). Another rule, strictly adhered to by its members, is that whatever is said within the Society cannot be used as evidence in any court of law. So, admitting that you were the one who audaciously stole the Crown Jewels of Lower Saxony won't land you in jail, but it might the show the Private Investigators of Europe (who will all be there!) where to focus their enquiries.
There are also no rules or conventions against using the knowledge you gain within the Society once you are outside of it. So, if someone admits to you that he murdered your father, there is nothing stopping you sticking a knife in his ribs once you step outside the Clockwork Café.
So, given all this, why would you attend the Society? Of course, those in the know realise that this is the wrong question! Instead, the correct question is why on earth wouldn't you attend? Frankly, anyone who's anyone is a member of Society, along with plenty who have aspirations to be someone. What self-respecting adventurer wouldn't be there, knowing that everyone else was? Besides, no-one will take you seriously if you're not a member.
Finally, on the subject of membership, the Society's founder, Richard Blanc, and his co-host, Helen Bach, are the sole arbiters of who attends the Society and who subsequently becomes a member. An existing member may bring guests along, but Monsieur Blanc and Madame Bach have the right to refuse entry and to withdraw membership to anyone they see fit.
Within the game, all the characters are either members or guests who will be given admittance. No-one is expected to spend the game outside the café while everyone else has fun inside. Similarly, no-one has a goal in the game of joining the Society; the Society is merely the setting for the game and not an end in itself.
In the world of The Clockwork Café everything is slightly larger than life. The heroes, heroines and villains of the fictional world actually exist; spies and adventurers live openly, although hidden behind their codenames. Only in the safety of the Clockwork Café can they meet under their real names and even then, the Master Criminals and Revolutionaries who frequent the café rarely do so under their own names. In attempting to picture this world, imagine Sherlock Holmes and Raffles (from the period) or James Bond; "real" people who live extraordinary lives (although fictional characters of the time DO NOT appear in the game). There are no superheroes or super-powers in the world of The Clockwork Café.
However, there is fantastical science. Clockwork power is a reality and is supplanting steam power in the way that the internal combustion engine did in the real world at the time. Obviously the laws of physics are being rather stretched here, but we are trying not to break them completely. The science in the world of The Clockwork Café is far-fetched rather than totally implausible. For example, man cannot fly unaided, although clockwork-powered airships have already made their appearance. Similarly, Clockwork Automata, which require precision engineering that hasn't been achieved in the 21st century in our world, let alone the early 20th, are a reality in the world of The Clockwork Café.
Just as the Society for Lady and Gentleman Adventurers of Geneva is part of the game rather than its focus, so it is with the technology. Clockwork power and other gadgets exist and play a part in the game, but they are not the focus of the game.
Politics and PowerThe politics of The Clockwork Café again mirrors that of Europe of the early 20th century. The Great Powers are vying with each other to either maintain or gain the balance of power in Europe. Each has Imperial ambitions around the world, while across the Atlantic, America cherishes her independence.
The emergence of clockwork technology is threatening to upset the known balance of power, with inventions such as the clockwork-powered airship threatening the supremacy of the British Navy and potentially triggering a new arms race. So far, the technology has not (publicly, at least) reached a level where these new inventions are anything more than proto-types, but in America, a new generation of industrialists have sprung up, poised to take advantage of these new developments. While Europe leads the way with famous scientists/inventors such as Geneva's own Professor Gerät, inventor of the Clockwork Automaton, America has pioneered the engineer/entrepeneur, with men such as Herbert Fforde and Harry Bridge at the forefront.
However, the political and social upheaval that characterised the period has a much more open face in the world of The Clockwork Café. There is a pan-European Revolutionary movement that is particularly active in Russia, but which has branches in all the major cities in Europe. Its leader, known only as the First Comrade of the Revolution, is rumoured to be a member of the Society (although if he is, he attends in secret under his own name). Similarly, the self-styled Dr Anarchy, who leads a political movement dedicated to the violent overthrow of current society, is a regular at the Clockwork Café, only attending under his assumed title. No-one knows his real identity.
The World in GeneralAs in the political world, so it is in the world of law and order. Silvestre Maison, the famous detective, publishes his cases in best-selling memoirs written by his friend, Dr Édouard Denis. Despite (or perhaps because of) this publicity, the rich and famous flock to have their cases solved by him. Both are members of the Society, although Maison has long since retired and some say perhaps even dead. However, Denis has been telling all that will listen that Maison is coming out of retirement and hinting that all will be revealed in his next book. Europe's foremost criminal, known only as Der Klein General, is also rumoured to be a member of the Society, although he too, if he attends, does so under his own name and not his title as the General of Crime (which was bestowed upon him in one of Denis' most famous books).
There are also the Agents of the Great Powers. Their names (the Iron Fist from Germany, France's The Fox, etc) are known across Europe, but it is only at the Society that they can relax and reveal their true identity (although only those in the know are aware who each of them really is). Deadly enemies and servants of their respective Governments without the confines of the café, within its walls, they seem almost friends, sharing stories and mutual concerns before resuming their deadly game of espionage.
Finally, the Society also has its other members, such as the famous American archaeologist, Dr Illinois Smith, who calls by whenever in Europe, and mysterious masked Vigilantes, such as Geneva's own The Squirrel who has made a name fighting crime from the city's roof-tops. Then there are others, such as the infamous Baron Schwarz, once called a "freelance megalomanic" by a journalist who died shortly afterwards in a freak accident. It is said that the Baron is only tolerated by the Great Powers because of his usefulness to them, working as he does for the highest bidder.
Join this illustrious band and take your place amongst the members of the Society for Lady and Gentleman Adventurers of Geneva for a night of high adventure where the fate of the world could be decided!