Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Character Profile: Khan

Posting this for blu since he doesn't know how to use the interwebs 100% yet:

An Osmanli fighting noble (Ottoman Empire) who left during the modernization of the Ottoman Empire. Caught up in the elation of the time in Turkey, he finally admitted that though promising, the Ottoman Empire was doomed, having traveled and seen what the rest of the world powers were up to. He left his country quietly in the night, though not without a promise to his Grand Vizier, a long time friend. He would send back what information he could. It was his information and connections that later brought the Ottoman Air Force into being in 1909, after arranging for 2 Turkish pilots to attend the Internation Aviation Conference in Paris.

Khan lead the Akiunci (frontline cavalry), and later the Sipahi (elite cavalry). He lead decisivly these forces, who could at once attack as well as defend, attack brashly and then melt away quickly. Of course the Ottoman Empire was the first military force to employ the musket (smoothbore long guns), and to this day still make the best firearms.

Not much else is known of Khan. He must fight publicly, but all else he keeps private. It is assumed that his connections range far and wide, and in many places, high as well. An inscription seen on his gear translates "Ever victorious".

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Screw Starting, It ENDS HERE

I am well aware I keep posting and linking about gadgets and making things. Sorry. I can't stop. I could not in good conscience keep this one to myself though. I might actually miss some games, as it looks like I'm going to have to leave Canada, travel to Japan, and apprentice myself to the guy who made all of THESE.

Either that, or I'll shortly be slashing my wrists and bleeding out. The world might not be able to contain this much beauty.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

It all started with ...

Okay, I posted about architectural salvage, but for me it all started here. Aside from the crap faux marble base, that thing is perfect. Apparently Geo has been messing around with some stuff, and its possible that he and I have a few other tricks up our sleeves to augment the game room, which has a decidedly swords & sorcery theme bias.

Taking a look over that site, if anyone has any other ideas toss em on into the ring. I'm sure that more than just myself would love to collab on a cool project to step things up a notch or three.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Cool Gaming Environments, Guest Stars and Proposed start dates

Okay...so how cool would it be to game an episode of Steam Lords on board the Railway Saloon Car at Fort Edmonton Park? It's $150 if during the daytime, so maybe we could do it for a birthday game or something (Rusty requested one...). Being at Fort Ed for a game would really add something to the experience!

I was also thinking, given the chagrin of some of the significant others attached to our proposed group, that the occasional guest star wouldn't be a bad idea. Get some other people in occasionally, or fill vacant spots when our regulars can't make it.

AND...I think Monday, September 10 would make a good start date. If Monday doesn't work, we can use another night, just not Thursday or weekends for me.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Character Profile: Mr. Harland Wyndham

Mr. Wyndham is not well known in most circles, although in rare moments observant folks think maybe he was, or should be, or has been. Those who had known his former self would have trouble recognizing him, and he was never well liked anyways.

Upon meeting Wyndham, the question most on people's minds is "where are the bottom halves of your legs?", but most gentlemen and ladies would not presume to ask that and Wyndham has never been heard to volunteer the information. These people usually recover from this train of thought by focusing on the chair he rides around on, which tends to remove the focus on his lack in the leg department with little effort or demonstration.

He is well spoken, but quiet. Often thought to be thinking, brooding, or sulking, his grizzled appearance is rather offset by his well made, if a bit tired clothing. Neither of these do much to balance his brisk manner with those around him. He isn't really old, but most would guess him to be 10 to 15 years older than he really is. From time to time a memory twigged will light Wyndham up like an arc welder, but once he's done glowing he will typically grow quite shadowy, throwing himself into very focused work.

The chair offers clues to his past. The parts can be traced back to a formidable rail baron, where Mr. Wyndham was well paid for his work on a secretive project that has still not come to light. He was well paid, and well respected, grudgingly. His talents were valued, until an explosion claimed his legs just above the knee. The resources pulled together to assemble the chair he would spend virtually all of his time in rival the yearly revenue of most small countries. With this chair, he could continue his work with little inconvenience.

Wyndham was told to leave when it was seen that he could no longer focus and had become a danger to himself and those around him. He was no longer trusted, and so he was no longer valued, respected, or, sadly, paid. His parting gift was the chair.

Having been a mercenary, he is no longer in good standing with his school. He still has the Art, but no longer has the resources he had become accustomed to. He is smart enough to know that the explosion was no accident, but has never discovered just who was responsible. For this reason he trusts no one, suspects almost everyone, and obsessively avoids people from his past. He appears to have no living relations, and very few friends.

His personal project is constructing himself some new legs. It is primarily secret, and revealed only on need to know. Unfortunately for him, they are complex enough that he will need much assistance before they can be completed.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Plate Techtonics

Could it be that the movement of techtonic plates is not a geologically ancient event, but the aftermath of a tremendous explosion a few thousand years ago. (Since mass extinctions did not occur in this time frame this could not be a meteor impact, but an energy driven explosion, say a billion megatons or so.) Now could analytical engines simulate the movements of the plates, and extrapolate backwards in time and geography to the explosion mid-atlantic? Would Captain Nemo be interested in exploring this spot? What will he find? Are Steam Lords tapping into the same energy that caused this explosion? Inquiring minds need to know.

Brainstorm: Train Punks

The rail barons rule the railways. But renegade Steam Punks with confiscated trains also ride the rails...the question is...how do they do it?

Do they build their own lines of track and intersect the main rails until their track is scrapped by the barons?

The dangers are high (unless you have train schedules)...but the rewards in terms of speed are great.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Who are the Steam Lords?

Given that steam is the greatest energy source on Earth in this alternate history, the search for better and more efficient ways of using steam occupies the great thinkers of every nation. Some schools of magic utilize the four basic elements of Creation - earth, water, fire and air...but generally most users of the Art can only manipulate one of these elements. The discovery that four mages working in tandem could produce intense amounts of steam energy resulted in athe major powers recruiting mages to produce energy. While this is seen as the worst form of mercenary values by the Sorcerous schools, the riches and power given to such practitioners outweighed allegiances to the Schools. This has resulted in the Schools attempting to assassinate such defectors.

Recently it has come to light that there are rare individuals, who can use all four elements. These rare individuals are highly prized in the growing energy rivalries between nations, and sought out at astronomical prices. These individuals are known as the Steam Lords, and are guarded closely by their benefactors.

The Summer Wanderer

In the alternate history of Steam Lords, the Airship owned by the Stewart family was commissioned by Benedict's father, Lord Somerled Stewart from Charles Renard and Arthur Constantin Krebs. The original designs for this airship were improved upon by Lord Somerled's engineers prior to his death in 1893. When Benedict returned home from his adventuring to attend to his father's estate, he made the construction of The Summer Wanderer (the translation of Somerled into modern English) a top priority. The Summer Wanderer made several successful flights before it became apparent that a rigid skeleton would improve upon the overall design; in 1898 Benedict commissioned The Summer Wanderer II, a rigid airship which would remain unsurpassed until WWI, when Zeppelins would be able to match The Summer Wanderer II in speed. (By then of course, Blaine's character will have designed something even better!)

World Inspiration

Something I have been checking out a lot lately is Architectural Salvage places, and being rather inspired by things like this. It started as plans for when we lock down a house, but its obviously blending well with this effort as well. I'll toss in a few links to some sites that show some pretty cool stuff, that might get you thinking.

Architectural Salvage Inc.
The Brass Knob
Old House Salvage
Ohmega Salvage

I just visited that first one, down in Denver, on the weekend. I wanted to take half the place with me. That push plate I linked up top was tough to walk away from, even at $95. Trying to reason out how I'd get mantles and oversized doors home in my suitcase has haunted my dreams since.

Definition of Steam Punk and a Summer Reading List

Blaine was asking -- so I thought I'd help out here.

Wikipedia states that:

"Steampunk is a subgenre of fantasy and speculative fiction which came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of "the path not taken" of such technology as dirigibles or analog computers; these frequently are presented in an idealized light, or a presumption of functionality. It is often associated with cyberpunk and shares a similar fanbase and theme of rebellion, but developed as a separate movement (though both have considerable influence on each other). Apart from time period and level of technological development, the main difference between cyberpunk and steampunk is that steampunk settings tend to be less obviously dystopian."

Check out the rest of the article HERE.

Our game is going to be set in the 19th century, so here is a list of books that are steampunk in the 19th century:

19th century setting

Novels set in the Victorian era include:

· Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon (2006)

· Anti-Ice by Stephen Baxter (1993)

· The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers (1983)

· Celestial Voyages series (2003) by Jeff Provine -- Interplanetary expeditions are launched in 1901.

· The Difference Engine (1990) by William Gibson & Bruce Sterling -- the designs of Charles Babbage led to the wide usage of mechanical computers in Victorian England.

· Fata Morgana by William Kotzwinkle (1977)

· Homunculus by James Blaylock (1986)

· Imperial Moon by Christopher Bulis (1980) -- A Doctor Who novel set in 1897 when Queen Victoria sends a mission to the Moon

· Infernal Devices by K. W. Jeter (1987)

· Larklight, Mortal Engines, Predator's Gold, and Infernal Devices by Philip Reeve (2006)

· The Light Ages, House of Storms by Ian R. MacLeod -- Set in an England where aether has been harnessed as a power source

· Lord Kelvin's Machine by James Blaylock (1992)

· "Ned the Seal" trilogy by Joe R. Lansdale:

· Zeppelins West (2001) [1]

· Flaming London (2006) [2]

· The Sky Done Ripped (TBA)

· The Steampunk Trilogy by Paul Di Filippo (1995)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Character Profile: Master A Aaron Addle

Aaron, was son of a telegrapher James, and sickly mother Anna. He grew up rather impoverished, owing to the fact that James had to spend all of the spare income and more on medicinal herbs for Anna, who suffered repeated bouts of multiple herb resistant TB. As a result, Aaron was raised in James' workplace. He learned [Morse] Code as a toddler, and it is in reality his first. He, along with a select few of his peers (kids who learned Code as toddlers) could communicte with key faster than anyone could follow, or dream of. He was also an mechanicist, who as a child dissassembled the wall clock in James' office, and reassembled it. Despite having three cogs left over, the reassembled clock had two new chime sounds, kept much better time and needed winding only once every other week. His most significant invention was a Code Key that worked far faster than the manual models, and allowed him to communicate with his many distant friends. (Yes, he Black Boxed the Telegraphic Web and consorted with Steam Punks, though unknowingly.) His communication skills were rewarded when, in a chain of events too long to tell here, he was recruited into Her Majesty's foreign service as a communications officer, responsible for secure, encrypted communication with London. His amazing talents obviously worked for the Royal High Commissioner, but Aaron longed for a little more adventure, and even more for the opportunity to better his financial lot, so he could afford to marry--no impoverished family for Aaron! He was fiercely loyal to Her Majesty, and, naturally, a staunch Anglican (his sovereign being defender of the Faith, after all). He was bespeckled with the wierdest of mechanical spectacles, which had interchangable lenses able to adjust from near to far vision, microscope to telescope. He carried a kit box with an incredible variety of mechanical and personal items, tucked into a seemingly endless number of tiny compartments, some of which were well hidden, sometimes even from Aaron himself. Though the picture of English gentlemanly eccentricity, an image he cultivated with relish, Aaron's impoverishment as a child, and the necessity to obtain herbs far too expensive to purchase through legal channels, gave Aaron a secret underground background, and so he was exceedingly street wise.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Character Profile: Benedict Ulysses Stewart

I'm thinking of a mix between Sir Richard Francis Burton, Roland the Gunslinger, and Allan Quatermain; he likely had ties to Colonial England but has long since done away with these, frustrated by the ethnocentrism of the British nation. If there are other reasons for Michael's anti-colonial attitude, he has not revealed them. He attended Oxford, then traveled the world on his father's money (he has a background in nobility), spending his fortune on adventuring, womanizing and philanthropist activities in destitute countries. He maintains a fair estate, although he is rarely ever there, choosing instead to travel the globe in an airship. He is working on a written account of his exploits but realizes that so far they mostly amount to going to exotic lands, seducing women and then donating money to church orphanages. As a result, he is looking for something really grand to devote his attention to. His favored weapons are two Colt Dragoon Revolvers (amazing given their rarity) and a cutlass he won off of a pirate while in the British Navy stationed in the Caribbean. He is a theological Anglican, but a bit of a rogue in practice. He has been married, but at 28 is already a widower. He has no children to his knowledge, but keeps hunting dogs on his estate. He has a passion for Appleton rum and expensive cigars.

Mechano Analytical Engine

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Some cool steampunk art


We'll definitely have to get some new miniatures, whatever we decide about the sets. I think we should continue our tradition of $10/game to generate the necessary bling for things.

I've come across a couple of good possibilities for our miniatures for the Steampunk scenario proper if it's set in an alternate history, not a secondary world:
We can use PAPER figures...it would definitely be cheaper. Victorians...gunfighters...pulp heroes...pulp sci fi...
GURPS Steampunk Box Set
Call of Cthulhu figures - click on the links, look around at the sub-menus for Call of Cthulhu, there's some good stuff there.
Some great historical figures...at a size pretty close to traditional gaming figures (1/72 scale - we use 25-28mm currently)

And a shout out to the best collection of miniatures I found available online...

Another possibility are the figures for "Horrorclix", because they have stuff like this figure. Trouble is, it's a collectible figure game - so we'd be paying for individual figures out of box...which makes it again more work. But there's definitely some cool stuff.

My old fantasy fave, Reaper miniatures has some good figures as well - a cowgirl, a Monster hunter and others hidden in the depths that might work well for us, but it's going to be work tracking down good figures for this campaign, that much is blatantly obvious.

Anyhow. Just some late night surfing, with the hope of finding some kick-ass figures.

So I did some thinking...

And thought...okay, we've got all this great gaming gear...aka our Dwarven Forge stuff. And I was doing some searches for miniatures, and our best bet is going to be paper ones from RPGnow. So then I got my brain chewing on a fully secondary world as opposed to alternate history. Don't know if this appeals to our steampunk sensibilities our not. There are secondary world steampunk styled storylines...Avatar: the Last Airbender comes to mind, especially as regards the Fire Nations' weapons. Or a bunch of the artwork in Magic: The Gathering had a steampunk feel. Battle Chasers was also influenced by Steam Punk. And that started allowing for the possibility of really having some powerful fantasy elements vs. Victorian with computers. A bit more swordwork could be involved as a result. We'd still have black powder, and all of what SteamedinEdmonton already spoke about, but I thought it would give us more room to play with the secondary world, without tying it too tightly to real world history.

Depends on what we want to do I guess. Me, I want to have a good time, but I'm also a perfectionist when it comes to representing the physical environment, so I guess it makes me think it would be cool if it all took place in castles, and had barons and lords and knights and what not, but the knights might be "gunslingers" ala Stephen King's Dark Tower series.

Then again, I love a good car chase in an early Ford. Or a monowheel, ala Steamboy.

Just thinking out loud here on the blog.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Spanish American War

It is war, and Generalisimo Santa Anna, having conquered Texas, is in the process of doing the same against General Lee's United States army. How can this be? At every turn, Lee's strategy is both anticipated, and countered with greatest effect. The situation is dire. Queen Victoria's scientific advisory board has programmed the Royal Analytical Engine to ananlyze the situation, and with an 89.4% certainty, the Spanish forces are using temporal displacement to guide their battles. Since Her Majesty does not want a hostile Spanish presence along the southern boarders of her North American Colonies (Upper and Lower Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, etc.), she commandeds that her crack time machine detection and elimination unit take action.

The Aether Vortex Discriminator

This is a picture of my latest, greatest invention, the aether vortex discriminator. It is extremely useful in locating the spacial coordinates of time displacement devices.

The Setting for Steam Lords

Steam Lords is the working title for a roleplaying campaign world that myself and some friends are currently getting ready to play in. To facilitate discussion and to anticipate gaming posting being a vital part of what will make Steam Lords kick some major ass (or gas?) I'm putting up this low-budget blog.

Here's the initial setting, as written by the Geomancer:

Based on history up to 19th century and diverged at that point.

Charles Babbage was sponsored by British Empire to construct and perfect his steam powered analytical engine.

By replacing some mechanical linkages with steam based pneumatic linkages, the analytical engine was adapted to solve many harmonic type equations. (This created, among other advances, steam techno music.) This actually produced analytical engines capable of calculations impossible to digital technology of our benighted modern era.

The analytical engine solved Maxwell’s equations, resulting in early discovery of high velocity solutions (special relativity: E=Mc2 etc), black body radiation (quantum mechanics) and accelerated solutions (general relativity: black holes etc.). Out of this, steam driven mechanickal anti-gravity devices were developed. (Flying super dreadnaughts, space travel etc.) Simultaneous solutions for general relativity and quantum mechanics were calculated, resulting in perfection of quantum string theory, and practical harnessing of zero point energy. (Mechanickal generators both tiny and huge, with virtually unlimited power—limitations only that the device had to be large enough not to be melted or vapourized by its high power output.) Zero point generators in the middle of boilers yield both tiny and huge steam driven machines of unlimited power. Zero point generators in the middle of furnace brick yield heaters, while inside of high temperature ceramics yield light sources, no electricity required thank-you.

Detectors of brain waves were developed and analyzed, again by use of analytical engines. It turns out brain waves are so analogous to zero point energy waves that by proper biofeedback training, meditative techniques could harness zero point energy. The difficulty is avoiding frying your brain with the energy. (This is “magick”.) Analytical engines also analyzed life auras based on Yin-Yang models of eastern origin, calculating DNA sequences, and were used to sequence plants to grow health or death dealing herbal remedies. Multiple brain systems were calculated. Queen Victoria herself took great interest in these calculations, which modeled yielded a governance under her Monarchy so clearly superior, that many countries adopted her as their Monarch, greatly increasing the scope of the British Empire. Calculations based on Malthus’ results demonstrated the need to conserve, so no new technology was developed if old technology worked. Personal transportation was outlawed, and rail and water based (oceans and canals) mass transit only was used. The onset on an ice age was calculated, so coal and petroleum reserves were tapped and burned just enough to increase the greenhouse gasses enough to stabilize world climate. The Empire faces threats, however, like monopolistic empire straddling railroad and shipping corporations seek to usurp Her Majesty’s power , end of the world fanaticism (zero point energy, unlimited in power, makes this a dire threat) and several international and interplanetary rivals.

Curious feed back loops in analytical engines were always present, indicating that opposites always occur together. Political stability must always be accompanied by instability. Thus the global telegraphic net which united the Empire always attracts hackers who periodically bring it down, thereby invigorating it (steam-punks especially!) The only way to deal with end of the world fanatics (an inevitable consequence of harnessing zero point energy is that some people become these fanatics) is through rivalry and limited conflict (steam cold war) with other states. Society must be both utopian and dystopian. Privilege and under privilege must accompany each other. Social equality must always come in an unequal society. Techs and anti-techs go together. Nobility and street punks coexist.

Strangely, certain calculations always break an analytical engine. Calculating the existence or attributes of God, for example. Humans trained in zero point control (magick) can perform these, but if they begin as atheists, the calculation maddens them, and if they begin religious, they remain religious. Nobody outside of their religion will trust their calculations.

Occupations include: noble, steam punk, fanatic, scientific dabbler, mechanickal artificer, mechanickal operator, magick user, military person, spy, analytical engine operator (like programmer), telegrapher (all communications, and input and output of analytical engines are by telegraph), engineer (two kinds—civil and steam engine operator), cleric, rail-road/shipping baron, detective (schooled in the Sherlock Holmes detective agency), herbalist, medicinist, surgeon, military person (various ranks), navigator (sail the oceans, or skies or space), captain, scrap recycler.