It’s time for another imaginary movie with Barbarians of Lemuria (etc.) stats for the major players. This time, let’s check out a completely fictional East German science fiction “classic.”
In 1974, after the success of Stanley Kubrick’s film of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Andrei Tarkovsky’s version of Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris, the East Germans decided to get in on the deeply philosophical (and sometimes psychedelic) science fiction film action. Thus was born Einsatz zu Enceladus (Mission to Enceladus), which tells the story of a group of international explorers traveling to (oddly enough) Enceladus, one of the moons of Saturn. This being East Germany in the thick of the Cold War, the film is replete with Communist/Socialist propaganda despite its initial conceits of an East-West partnership in exploring space.
Under the auspices of the IWP (Internationale Weltraumforschung Partnerschaft, or international space exploration partnership), a crew comprised of an American soldier, a British scientist, a Russian cosmonaut, and an East German engineer set out in a Soviet spacecraft for Enceladus after a number of radio transmissions – in ancient Greek! – are received from that icy moon. The first half of the film or so consists of slow, largely silent shots of the crew performing their assorted duties and looking at very nice computer readouts, rather like the filmmakers were aping 2001 very closely and carefully.
The propaganda starts to creep in about the time the crew passes Mars (the Red Planet, get it?). At this point the swaggering, cartoonish American soldier, Colonel Rick Carson, begins hitting on the taciturn yet beautiful (and intelligent!) Soviet pilot, Commander Valentina Yegorova. Carson tries to buy her affections with stories of American excess. He breaks into a musical number (yes, it’s wildly out of place) in the style of Elvis movies. And ultimately he tries to force himself on her, only to be stopped with a strong punch to his glass (lantern) jaw by the ugly yet honest and upstanding (and intelligent!) East German engineer, Lieutenant Knut Volkmann. Being a creature of much bluster and little-to-no substance, Carson backs down immediately.
Throughout all of this the British scientist, Professor Alec Baxter-Pearl, is shown to be a weak-willed (and incompetent!) lackey of the domineering American.
Once the ship reaches Saturn the movie turns back towards the somber. For what feels like a very long time, we are treated to some slightly less stunning visuals and more of the slow, quiet shots. Eventually, an outpost is sighted on the surface of Enceladus – an outpost that looks for all the world like the Parthenon perched high atop an outcropping of rock rising from the icy seas that cover the moon.
The ship’s landing module, piloted by Yegorova, descends to the surface, with all four crew members aboard. Once on Enceladus, Carson, Volkmann, and Baxter-Pearl set out to explore the “ruins” and perhaps make contact with whoever lives there. Yegrova stays behind to helm the landing module in case of any trouble.
The three explorers discover a set of long stairs cut into the rock and ascend to the summit. They poke about the marble structures and are eventually greeted by a sole white-furred, yeti-like being wearing Greek-style clothing. The creature converses with Baxter-Pearl, revealing himself to be Hephaestus, the blacksmith of the gods. When he is told that the Olympian gods are no longer found on Earth, he flies into a rage and vows to destroy the planet for its insolence. Or something like that.
Baxter-Pearl tries to calm Hephaestus, spouting off incessantly about all of the Greek ideals that live on in the world (Democracy comes up more than once), but the “god” is having none of it (“Democracy is for fools!” he shouts back in response). Carson, back in stereotype mode, tries to fight Hephaestus, is beaten, and begs for mercy, offering to sell out the entire planet so that he may live on in service to the god. He is slain for his troubles, and Baxter-Pearl is destroyed as well (on principle, one presumes).
Volkmann escapes and returns to the landing module, where he manages to stammer out a brief explanation of what has transpired. Alarms then go off, indicating the launch of a missile from the west (which just happens to be painted red, white, and blue). Volkmann and Yegorova spring into action, launching from the moon intent on intercepting the projectile – even if it means their own doom. Instead of dying, however, the crafty engineer devises a way to “fire” the landing module at the missile and deflect it back to the surface where it might just destroy Hephaestus.
The plan works. The East German and the Russian embrace. (A) god is destroyed. The world is saved by Marxist-Leninist ideology. And the credits roll over brass-heavy closing music.
- Astronaut/Cosmonaut as a career is meant to cover all of the things that go with being an astronaut, like vacc suit operation, piloting, operating communications arrays, etc.
- Scientist as a career represents an overall science background, while specific careers like Archaeologist or Physicist represent the more specific fields of study identified by their names.
- Spacesuits are rated Light, Medium, and Heavy. Light suits provide little defense and are not rated for extravehicular or direct contact with hostile atmospheres/environments for more than 1 hour. Medium and Heavy suits provide more protection at a cost to mobility and are capable of 2 and 4 hours EVA/hostile environment activity.
- Laser Weapons are incredibly accurate and grant a +1 to Ranged COmbat Ability.
Professor Alec Baxter-Pearl / Lifeblood 9 / Hero Points 5
Attributes: Strength -1 Agility 0 (-1) Mind 3 Appeal 2
Combat Abilities: Brawl 0 Melee 2 Ranged 1 Defense 1
Careers: Archaeologist 2 Poet 1 Scientist 1 Astronaut 0
Languages: English, Russian, German, Greek
Equipment: Medium Spacesuit (d6-1), Archaeological Tools, Hand Computer
Colonel Rick Carson / Lifeblood 12 / Hero Points 5
Attributes: Strength 2 Agility 1 (0) Mind 0 Appeal 1
Combat Abilities: Brawl 1 Melee 0 Ranged 2 Defense 1
Careers: Soldier 2 Astronaut 1 Musician 1 Politician 0
Equipment: Laser Pistol (d6), Medium Spacesuit (d6-1)
Commander Valentina Yegorova / Lifeblood 10 / Hero Points 5
Attributes: Strength 0 Agility 2 Mind 1 Appeal 1
Combat Abilities: Brawl 2 Melee 0 Ranged 1 Defense 1
Careers: Cosmonaut 3 Physician 1 Scientist 0 Farmer 0
Languages: Russian, English
Equipment: Laser Pistol (d6), Light Spacesuit (d6-2)
Lieutenant Knut Volkmann / Lifeblood 12 / Hero Points 5
Attributes: Strength 2 Agility 1 (0) Mind 2 Appeal -1
Combat Abilities: Brawl 2 Melee 0 Ranged 2 Defense 0
Careers: Engineer 2 Astronaut 2 Soldier 0 Bureaucrat 0
Languages: German, Russian, English
Equipment: Laser Rifle (d6+2), Heavy Spacesuit (d6)
Space Yeti Hephaestus / Lifeblood 20
Attributes: Strength 4 Agility 1 Mind 2
Combat Abilities: Defense 1 Protection d6-2
Attack with Fist +2; 2d6