Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gaslight & Brass

Look out that window and tell me what you see. No, don't be shy about it.

London? Yes, but what else?

A Jäger? Really? Point it out to me. This close to the Palace...

Amazing, truly; but slightly off topic I think. What else?

A dirigible. More. People? Feh, what else? Mecha? The Lightning Rail? The Steam Engines? The infamous Towers of London?

Can I tell you what I see? No, don't flinch. I'm not going to hurt you.

Marvels. Miracles. We live in an age of Wonder, friend. An age of Triumph. The empire stretches across a full third of the known world. The Queen has laid claim to the Moon itself; and I am not alone in believing it possible to actually travel there. We have dragged the savage world around us, kicking and screaming into the modern era; and we have given them - even the Jägerkin - Utopia.

I awake each day and I am honestly and perpetually astonished at the marvels of the 19th century. We are gods of the Earth, my friend. And we will be gods of the Moon, if the Queen's Education Pope is to be believed. What?

Yes, I know about the Aether quandry and I've read McCrarey's - what was it called? "The dispersion of Solar Heat in the Outer [whatever]." I think it's poppycock.

They told Galileo he would never measure the speed of light. They praised Newton for his physics, but laughed him out of Cambridge when he claimed to be able to transmute base metals. Da Vinci almost never flew because of the skeptics. Can you imagine a world where that never happened?

Because I can; and it's horrid. We overcome. Science, I mean. Men of Knowledge, of Wisdom and Reason. Men with the SPARK. We overcome. Even if McCrarey is right about the - what did he call it? Radio-what? Ah, Radiation. Well, fitting. We'll overcome it. We always do.

We live in the Age of Science! The Age of Reason. As I've said, the Age of Wonder.

Do you know what they call it in the pubs and common houses? Shall I tell you? You must already know.

When they're being polite and a little less blasphemous, they call it the Age of Iron. Euler's Eyes. Iron! Half of what's useful isn't even made of iron any more. What?

Oh, well. When they're well into their sauce and their tongues are good and loose, the call it the Age of Absinthe. Feh.

They think the SPARK has gone out of us. They imagine - in their depraved commoner imaginings - that we no longer create of our own talent. They say the Empire is doomed because the Science has gone wrong.

And I'm so afraid that they're right.

Already there is open talk of dissent in the American Colonies, perhaps stirred on by this remarkable Tchaka fellow in Africa, I don't know. Maybe it's been brewing for a long time.

Rumor alone of the Queen's mighty intellect was once enough to cow even the most fervent anti-royal assassins. I haven't had to bring one of you poor bastards up here for nearly fifty years.

No, don't start blubbering now. You've done so well. Stiff upper and all that. It's distasteful to me too, you know. Not to mention untidy and unseemly. But the law is.

Here. I hope the noose isn't too tight. It's got to have enough slack in it so that your head doesn't come loose when you hit bottom.

I'm sorry.

Listen. I deplore this; but an example must be made.

How's this? I promise you, on my honor and the Queen, after two days, I'll find some excuse to bring in your body. I'll put it in the ground. I'll even have a preacher speak for you if you're a religious man, no?

Oh well, a priest perhaps. I nice eulogy about the forgiveness of time and the persistency of energy or some such. I'm better at understanding things, really, than talking about them. If you've family, at least they'll get to see you buried properly. Not in one of the Queen's mass graves.

Ah well. I've other duties to attend, my friend. I hate to treat the advent of your end in so ignominious a manner; but I'm afraid I must depart.

Be grateful we're not in Paris with King Louis's deplorable Glass Cages. This will be quick at least, if you show yourself out the window.

Please do. I know the Beastmen Her Majesty employs for the job enjoy cleaning up after those who can't or won't and instead starve themselves up here in the Tower waiting for rescue that never comes; but they smell horrible for weeks afterward. And if you don't end this quickly, I cannot collect your body to bury it.

So you see? It will be better for all if you just get on with it.

Ah, the doom bell. That'll be our Jäger, I suspect.

I must be off. Two in one day...

Goodbye, friend. It really was an ingenious plan. I am quite beside myself with amazement. I suppose it's just lucky for the Queen that not all of us must rely on the Absinthe to see through to the heart of things, yes?

Oh. You've already gone. That's good, at least. Maybe there's a next life, like the Celestials say. We'll have a drink down the pub in a few years. My treat.

It started out as a Star Wars story. It wasn't that I particularly really wanted to run Star Wars - I like it, really - but my main draw to Star Wars gaming is that I don't have to create the setting.

Now don't get me wrong. I love creating campaign worlds. I love it too much. I'll put together a game based on some new setting or gimmick; and that will be it. The story will fall flat because once the newness wears thin (pretty quick sometimes, because I find it hard to articulate certain things "in-game") the story is just another "Go there, fetch this, bring it back and defeat the villain with it" deal.

So I started putting together a Star Wars story because (like a number of my players), I was tired of not finishing anything. My D&D game isn't one that can be finished. It's just adventure. A sandbox. So I wanted something with meat. I put it together and I was ready to go.

And then we didn't game. We haven't played in - more than a month. Months? I miss it.

But I didn't want to give up on this story. I didn't want to start working on something else. So I started flailing around a bit for my gaming fix.

And then I discovered Girl Genius. It's sweet as hell (won a Hugo); and got me interested in Steampunk. In Victorian England. In Jägermonsters and Brass Mechs and Dirigibles. Then I remembered the Steampunk Star Wars, which was awesome. And then I remembered why I was using Star Wars in the first place. So I wouldn't let the story get bogged down in my love of set design.

Only now I had a story. A pretty awesome story I think; and I very intentionally tried to steer away from focusing on Jedi things because Star Wars is (or was before the Prequels) about so much more than the Jedi. So I started working out the setting. 19th Century London with Steam-tech and Clockwerks thrown in, a rabid Protestant church and a Vatican City given over to Science.

A world where men of Intellect may have "the Spark" - that special something that spurs genius and allows for the fantastic in the Age of Science. Science so advanced, it may well be magic. A world where, sometimes that Spark falls flat, and can be spurred by the Green Demon, Absinthe (a very similar, but very different concoction than our own history gives us). A world of Science and Sorcery and grand adventure in the tradition of the old Pulp Fictions.

It's pretty much an Operatic, Swashbuckling adventure of Good vs. Evil set against the backdrop of a corrupt Empire bent on the subjugation of all life amidst a ragtag band of rebels fighting for independence. So... Star Wars. In the 1840's.

Hope someone wants to play.

No image used with permission. I pretty much just yoinked 'em.

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