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Author Topic: The Regressive Era  (Read 3581 times)
WINGED NEMESIS
Owlbear
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« on: November 18, 2012, 09:22:24 PM »

Out of Character

This setting is meant to be used with sparkletwist's Quick & Dirty system and as such, is intentionally pretty vague. Originally inspired by the latest trailer for Bioshock Infinite , it sort of exploded into a grab-bag of turn-of-the-century weirdness, a hybrid of steam, diesel, and biopunk. I'll probably add more to it myself, but what I really want to hear is anything you all come up with. Don't feel like you have to come up with any sort of backstory: as long as it's somewhat period-appropriate, chances are I'd be more than eager to add it to the list.

Enjoy.

The year is 1910.

The filth, corruption, and inequalities of the Gilded Age, the decadence and hypocrisy, are finally threatening to explode into open violence, the tenuous social order buckling at the seams.

President for Life Theodore Roosevelt has been styled by Congress Emperor of All Americas after his conquests of Cuba, Panama, and the Philippines. His Great White Fleet is on its maiden voyage, ivory-hulled battleships demonstrating the wealth and beneficence of American democracy, gilded guns leaving ports burning in their wake.

The robber barons, pirate captains of industry like J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller, lord over sprawling factory complexes that poison the skies and blot out the sun. Private legions of Pinkertons and strikebreakers keep their workers laboring like medieval serfs by any means necessary, savagely opposing the efforts of labor unions and anarchist revolutionaries. In the perpetual, smog-choked twilight of cities like Pittsburg and Detroit, the streets run red with blood.

In the heartland, Christian socialists execute those guilt of the most heinous crime of all, capitalism, by crucifying them upon crosses of gold.

Heavily-armed, iron-jawed angels, the Petticoat Amazons burn down brothels and workhouses, bomb distilleries, and gun-down opponents to temperance, equality, and universal suffrage.

In the West, First Nations warriors wage a bloody guerilla war against United States forces, emboldened by the success of the Ghost Dance and the massacre of the 7th Cavalry at Wounded Knee. In Mexico, the revolution is already threatening to spill over the northern border; there’s even talk among the caudillos of trying to reclaim the lands that were stolen in the Mexican-American War. With the country in the throes of the Yellow Peril, there is still no law against killing a Chinaman, but the secretive tongs promise death by a thousand cuts to those who would prey on the already-persecuted immigrants.

Sons of the Confederacy want nothing less than the restoration of the Confederate States of America, and there are rumors of whole regiments being trained in secret in Mexico, Brazil, and the Bahamas. They are sworn enemies of Marcus Garvey and his United Negro Improvement Army, who intend to claim the entire Black Belt as a new African homeland.

Knowing he is nearing the end of his life, Andrew Carnegie, the second-richest man who has ever lived, pours his limitless wealth not only into grandiose displays of philanthropy, but also the creation of a secret army. It’s mission: to bring an end to imperialism, once and for all, by any means necessary.

In India, Queen Victoria’s bastard daughter, the product of a tryst with a Hindu Raja, has led a violent uprising, shattered the British East India Company, and crowned herself the first queen of a new Maratha Confederacy.

In major metropolitan areas like New York, it is not uncommon to see buildings floating overhead, held aloft by great turbines and gas-filled balloons. Sky-rails loop and curl around towering skyscrapers; originally intended only for carrying freight, enterprising citizens have begun using them for rapid travel and death-defying aerial acrobatics.

It seems that man has finally conquered the air. Airships and dirigibles of all shapes and sizes sail among the clouds, held aloft by lighter-than-air gasses that only occasionally ignite and explode. Far faster and more nimble are the aeroplanes, rickety-looking, multi-winged craft of wood and canvas piloted by only the bravest and most suicidal of daredevils.

Darwinists use the science of unnatural selection to fabricate all manner of monstrous beasties: elephantines, pseudobears, tigeresques, vitriolic lizards, and even stranger conglomerations of flora and fauna.

The Immortal Genovese himself, Dr. Victor Frankenstein, has perfected his Promethean process by which a twisted mockery of life might be returned to dead flesh. He is currently touring Europe with his two companions and assistants, a monstrous couple that were also his first creations.

In Long Island, the brilliant inventor Nikola Tesla is slowly driving himself mad as he labors to complete his Wardenclyffe Tower. The once-compassionate genius’ mind has darkened and he now creates weapons of hideous destructive potential, like the kind he used to incinerate George Westinghouse. Only one man does not fear his terrible intellect: the Wizard of Menlo Park and Tesla’s former master, Thomas Alva Edison.

Created from all manner of unstable, dangerous, and often highly-addictive substances, Vigors grant the imbiber powers and abilities that can only be described a superhuman, but always at a cost. One might let you throw fireballs from your fingertips, but char the flesh from your hand until the effect wears off, or cause the flesh of your arm to painfully swell and bubble as it becomes home to a swarm of stinging insects.

Spiritualism is all the rage. Mediums channel the spirits of the departed, who grant them knowledge of the past, present, and future. The ectoplasm they sometimes exteriorize as a result of such channelings is said to have supernatural properties of its own. First Nation shamans and medicine-men summon manitou and other ancient, powerful spirits. With the Great Beast himself at its head, the hermetic mystics of  the Ordo Templi Orientis are beholden to only one principle: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. In Providence, Rhode Island, a young poet by the name of Howard Phillips Lovecraft has his mind hollowed-out and consumed by some unknowable evil, his soulless body used as a vessel though which to spread messages of cosmic blasphemy.

Against such insanity, Charles Fort stands armed only with the cold light of rational inquiry and a loaded .38.

Like sharks smelling blood in the water, European mercenaries flock to America, bringing with them the most cutting-edge of weaponry: fabricated creatures, mechanical walkers, aero-fighters, gun-laden armatures, and more. They are haughtily amoral as they pour more fuel on what already threatens to erupt into a fire the likes of which the world has never seen.
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Straight Outta Johto
Giff
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« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2012, 10:10:09 PM »

Is this supposed to be like a "Leviathan" prequel. I'm asking because of the last part talking about fabricated beasts. Cause if it is i'm behind it! Love those books! Plus I'm a Dieselpunk fan so anything resembling that is bound to get my attention.
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WINGED NEMESIS
Owlbear
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« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2012, 10:40:20 PM »

Newb Again..

Is this supposed to be like a "Leviathan" prequel. I'm asking because of the last part talking about fabricated beasts. Cause if it is i'm behind it! Love those books! Plus I'm a Dieselpunk fan so anything resembling that is bound to get my attention.

Not a prequel, but I did shameless pinch a few elements from that novel.
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Straight Outta Johto
Giff
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« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2012, 10:43:36 PM »

Superbright

Newb Again..

Is this supposed to be like a "Leviathan" prequel. I'm asking because of the last part talking about fabricated beasts. Cause if it is i'm behind it! Love those books! Plus I'm a Dieselpunk fan so anything resembling that is bound to get my attention.

Not a prequel, but I did shameless pinch a few elements from that novel.

I have ripped those books off too for my own settings so go on good sir!
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Modron
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« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2012, 12:09:58 AM »

Haha! Found it interesting.
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Gelatinous Cube
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« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2012, 02:57:35 PM »

I like this quite a bit.

And not just because it's designed to be used with my system! grin
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WINGED NEMESIS
Owlbear
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« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2012, 08:49:58 AM »

Out of Character

These are some of what I was thinking of in terms of Vigors (name still pending). Mechanically, I'm not sure how I'm going to balance them: most of them are meant to either fortify an existing skill or inflict a disadvantage onto foes. And as before, submissions of your own are definitely encouraged.

Beelzebub’s Embrace spawns a hive of vicious hornets to bedevil the user’s foes with their venomous stings.

Mephistopheles’ Kiss sets the user’s hand alight, letting them cast forth streams of hellfire.

Bag of Winds produces a localized gale powerful enough cows like bowling pins.

Atlas’ Strength multiplies the user’s strength exponentially, letting them lift incredible burdens.

Murder of Crows summons an inordinate number of ill-tempered corvines to peck and claw at an enemy or quickly strip bare a corpse.

Dragon Scale temporarily hardens the user’s skin, making it all but impervious to the bite of blades or the sting of bullets.

Spring-Heeled Jackboots give the user to ability to leap to incredible heights, summiting shorter buildings in a single bound.

Puppeteer allows the user to lift and manipulate light objects from several arms’ distances.

Chinese Lightning briefly grants the user reflexes faster than a bullwhip, making it seem as though the rest of the world is moving though cold molasses.

Ninth Circle creates a bitter cold that can freeze water into ice and even turn men into winter sculpture.
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The Godsmith
Flail Snail
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« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2012, 02:19:25 PM »

Superbright

Out of Character

These are some of what I was thinking of in terms of Vigors (name still pending). Mechanically, I'm not sure how I'm going to balance them: most of them are meant to either fortify an existing skill or inflict a disadvantage onto foes. And as before, submissions of your own are definitely encouraged.

Beelzebub’s Embrace spawns a hive of vicious hornets to bedevil the user’s foes with their venomous stings.

Mephistopheles’ Kiss sets the user’s hand alight, letting them cast forth streams of hellfire.

Bag of Winds produces a localized gale powerful enough cows like bowling pins.

Atlas’ Strength multiplies the user’s strength exponentially, letting them lift incredible burdens.

Murder of Crows summons an inordinate number of ill-tempered corvines to peck and claw at an enemy or quickly strip bare a corpse.

Dragon Scale temporarily hardens the user’s skin, making it all but impervious to the bite of blades or the sting of bullets.

Spring-Heeled Jackboots give the user to ability to leap to incredible heights, summiting shorter buildings in a single bound.

Puppeteer allows the user to lift and manipulate light objects from several arms’ distances.

Chinese Lightning briefly grants the user reflexes faster than a bullwhip, making it seem as though the rest of the world is moving though cold molasses.

Ninth Circle creates a bitter cold that can freeze water into ice and even turn men into winter sculpture.

Oh god, the flavor.  So delicious.
I love the whole alternate history thing, although I've always been too overwhlemed by the plethora of options to ever tackle such a project.  Reinterpreting myths as fact is also a fantastic method by which you can create some amazing differences in the past, especially fun when applied to the rituals of the Native American peoples that were meant to restore balance to North America after the European Invasion.
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Previously: Natural 20, Critical Threat, Rose of Montague
- Currently working on: The Smoking Hills - A bottom-up, seat-of-my-pants, fairy tale adventure!

WINGED NEMESIS
Owlbear
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« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2012, 11:20:53 AM »

Other Goings-On

Everyone knows the United States is a powder keg eagerly expecting a spark. Many sit in the wings, waiting for their turn to act as soon as the opening blows has been thrown; others are perfectly willing to unsheathe their swords first and are merely biding their time until the opportune moment presents itself. Should war break out, an Uncivil War, it is inevitable that the Great Powers will descend en masse like a flock of carrion birds.

However, should Roosevelt somehow manage to keep the nation united in the face of overwhelming domestic strife and discord, the threat of cataclysmic war still looms. The Great Powers of Europe grow increasingly uneasy with the President’s growing imperial ambition and they fear he has his sights set on territories they have already claimed as their own. Since he has personally foiled repeated attempts on his life by foreign agents, there are whispers of an alliance the likes of which has not been seen since the Napoleonic Wars. The conflict that might result, a world war, would be greater than any ever witnessed, pitting America against Europe, the Old World against the New…assuming that the continental powers can keep their hands off of each other’s throats long enough.
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WINGED NEMESIS
Owlbear
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« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2012, 11:01:13 AM »

The Burning Sword of Science

Out of Character

A slight addition to sparkletwist’s system that I’m thinking of making is the addition of weapon qualities, which I shamelessly pinched from Apocalypse World. Examples are Hand, Close, Far, Automatic, Reload, Area, Messy, Loud, Quiet, Implanted, etc. So for example, a repeater might have Automatic and Reload, meaning that it can unload its entire magazine to hit multiple enemies in a single turn, but the shooter would then have to spend the next turn reloading her weapon. Just food for thought.

For the common man, the tools of violence in this century remain largely the same as they were in the last: revolvers and pepperboxes, shotguns, and rifles, both bolt and lever-action. Semi-automatic weapons are also growing in popularity among those who can acquire them, legitimately or not, but they represent but the iceberg’s tip when it comes to the awful progress the past decade has seen.

An innovation by the Brits and Germans, new “repeaters” take the machine gun’s terrifying rate of fire and put it in a package no bigger than a hunting rifle: some of the smaller models might pass as an exceptionally-bulky pistol!

Among the many hideous weapons of war Nikola Tesla has developed in his melancholy are his “teleforce guns”, though those who have seen one in action prefer the more common sobriquet: death rays. Discharging bolts of artificial lightning, a direct hit can reduce a man to a charred, crackling husk in an instant, those there is always the risk of some of the static discharge rebounding on the user. Similar in both design and purpose are his nemesis Edison’s heat-rays: though there is no risk of electrical conduction, they will ignite anything their searing beam touches, be it cloth, wood, or flesh. Based on the still-esoteric research of the Curies, radio-weapons project a beam of “radiation”, an invisible energy that not only horribly scalds blisters the skin, but also incurably poisons the victim.

Out of Character

More might come soon. Final projects for school are eating up both my time and will to type, so apologies for these being so short.
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