TOP SECRET DISPATCH // ULTRA HANDLING PROCEDURES REQUIRED // EYES ONLY // BURN AFTER READING
This is the first column in my new series, where I take real world people, places, and things and give them the Weird War II treatment. Julia Child is low hanging fruit for this sort of thing, since her history as an OSS operative is pretty amazing. Her dossier is fully available online.
Julia Child: Super Spy
We all know Julia Child — famous chef and TV personality. But Julia McWilliams, Smith graduate, copy editor, and not even an amatuer chef, was a top secret researcher reporting directly to the head of the Office of Strategic Services. McWilliams was too tall to serve her country in other capacities, so she got a job as a typist at OSS headquarters and quickly rose in importance. She kept track of operatives and officers for the Secret Intelligence division before being posted to Sri Lanka and later China.
From Shark Repellent to Culinary School
I think we need to pause for a moment and realize Julia Child also worked on developing a top-secret shark repellent to be used by the U.S. Navy. That’s right. Julia Child. Shark repellent. Why do we even need to write fiction? The world is weird enough.
Of course, after the war she moved France with her new husband and enrolled in culinary school. The rest is delicious history.
In Your Game
McWilliams makes a wonderful NPC for any Weird War 2 game rooted in espionage. She could easily be a contact and source of information for the PC’s. As an official contact, she could be the one giving PC’s missions, briefings, or dossiers on targets. There’s a wonderful chance to the GM to give mission briefings in her awesome accent. I think, however, she would work better as an unofficial contact of sorts. Her position as researcher makes lots of sensitive information pass through her hands. She’s an astute, capable, intelligent person who is very tall and athletic. But she’s also a woman in the 1940’s. Maybe she’s notices something, some sort of pattern with the information, some undercurrent of weirdness. And her superiors won’t listen. She’s just a glorified secretary. What does she know?
Well, what she knows is that the Japanese are using some solar ray to turn OSS agents into double-agents. Or they are building some sort of super-submarine at a secret base in the Indian Ocean. But only the PC’s can help, because only the PC’s will listen. If you want to use the agent-in-distress trope, Julia could go missing and the PC’s have to track her down. This could work wonderfully on the meta-level. Don’t let the players know who they really are supposed to rescue until you drop the accent on them when they first encounter her. Remember, she’s still Julia McWilliams in 1944. Make the players figure out who she is!
Of course, if you don’t drop the fact that she worked on developing shark repellent into your adventure you will have wasted what may be the potentially greatest gaming moment in history. Julia Child. Shark repellent. I just can’t get over this.
Don’t be Afraid of Weird
If you want to get really gonzo, you can base her entire cooking and media career on the dark secrets she learned at the OSS. Maybe getting the world to cook better is the only way to prevent the alien invasion or dissipate the lingering effects of Nazi mind-control. Either way, I think I’ve been reading too much Grant Morrison.
However you choose to incorporate her, Julia Child/McWilliams is a huge personality with lots of capabilities and tons of potential for a Weird War 2 game.
And the opportunity to use shark repellent.