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The Last Dispatch - An Actual Play #1

This will be the first of an Actual Play series discussing the Journalistic TTRPG Last Dispatch by Symbolic City. If you would like to learn more about this game, I strongly suggest you watch this TTRPG Talk about the game's basics.

The TL;DR is this: You are a journalist (usually a foreign correspondent) covering "the final days of a nation." It uses a six-sided die and a deck of standard playing cards to create general situations that you, the player, then interpret to best fit the context of your nation.


Actual Play - Part 1

So, now it is time for us to begin! In this first post, I will be going over the nation our game is set in, introducing our reporter, and discussing the starting factions. Just to clarify, we will not be playing in a modern setting, but rather instead a mid to late 19th century-inspired setting.

The Nation

The flag of Straillyn: A triband of Aquamarine, Black and Brown with a White chevron on the hoist side.
The flag of Straillyn

The Nation we will be reporting from is Straillyn. This is a temperate, relatively small country (~24,600 km2, about the size of Rwanda or Vermont) and a population of around 3.5 million. Traditionally a nation focused on forestry and agriculture, Straillyn is in the beginnings of a heavy industry boom thanks to the discovery of major copper and zinc deposits just as its neighbors are beginning increase the mechanization and electrification of their own countries. This has resulted in great increase in demand for lower-skilled labor in urban areas as mines, refineries, and infrastructure capacities increase.

This nation is governed by a timocracy, that is to say that the right to participate in government (voting or serving in political office) is restricted to those who own property. This leaves out anyone from the lower-middle class downward out of civic life in urban areas, though there are a small number of small-holder farmers who are able to participate. The group left our obviously includes many of those lower-skilled industrial and infrastructure laborers I mentioned previously.

A map showing the city of Crothy, a harbor town with a river running through it. The city districts of Old Town, Harbor Ward, Wheatmill, Night Tower, Meatbridge, and The Garden are labled
A Map of the city of Crothy

The majority of our action is going to be happening in the capital of Crothy, the map of which is below. I will be using English translations of the Strailli names for each of the districts should we need to reference a particular area.

Our Reporter

Another thing that will be a bit different from the original Last Dispatch scenario involves our reporter. The original scenario assumes you are a foreign correspondent, likely making dispatches for an organization like the Reuters, AP, or some other international news agency. While I like the idea of reporting for an international audience, I would rather the reporter in this case be a citizen of Straillyn who may work for our foreign news agency.

Therefore, our dispatches will be written by Orfre Telth, a Strailli working for the The Daily Advisor, a high-reputation newspaper that focuses on international news. The dispatches will be sent by telegraph. While I will not be using code or "cablese" like a period correspondent to limit message size, I will try to replicate this feel by limiting my dispatches to roughly 560 characters or two full tweets.

The Starting Factions

As I mentioned in the video, a game of Last Dispatch normally has at least four factions involved, one for each suit. These, in turn, each represent a different segment or aspect of the society in question.

Here are our starting factions and the suit that represents them.

  • Hearts: (Ideology) This suit initially represents the Strailli Social Union. They are a group of classic upper middle-class liberals seeking to introduce increased levels of socialism in society, but they are seeing an increasing number of lower middle-class technical laborers joining the cause because of their lack of franchise.

  • Clubs: (Force) This suit will initially represent the National Guard. Imagine them is being like the Straillyn gendarmerie or paramilitary initially under the command of the government.

  • Diamonds: (Economic Value) This suit represents the old wealth of Straillyn. Most of these are landlord-agriculturalists or the initial industrialists that sought to exploit Straillyn's lumber for shipbuilding and trade. Because of the political system being based around property, these folks have long been the core of the voters and politicians.

  • Spades: (production) This suit will initially represent the new industrialists. The owners of the mines and refineries that are springing up in the country to feed the international trade. They likely had enough wealth to have political power in the past, but their influence is growing.

And that is that! I will be making another post here on the blog in about a week with all of the turns that have occurred since then along with the card results, but I expect to be posting in-character dispatches on Twitter so if you want to see them in real time, be sure to follow me @hessan_yongdi to not miss any of them.

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