ffutures: (Default)
Dragonmeet was... interesting, mostly because the Forgotten Futures adventure I was a bit dubious about went very well, while the Fanfic RPG scenario I thought was OK turned out to be a bit of a disaster.

Briefly, the FF adventure was based on something [livejournal.com profile] james_nicoll mentioned, the Bone Wars between rival paleontologists in the 19th century. I changed this to the 23rd century and set it on the (habitable) Jupiter of A Struggle for Empire. don't read on if you might want to play this at some point )

The Fanfic adventure didn't go as well,mostly I think because the players ignored my request that they put together a plausible team of crime-fighting park rangers and instead went with a group that made no sense; Gaius Baltar, Gaius Julius Caesar, JD Dorian (Scrubs), Napoleon Solo, Christian Bale (studying the park ranger service for his next movie and prone to method act to a ridiculous extent), and Fox Mulder. Don't read on if you might want to play this at some point )

Anyway, two interesting but exhausting sessions - I stayed on for the auction (which raised £1460 for charity) but couldn't afford anything I actually wanted, then decided I'd skip going for a meal or to the pub and went home and got an early night. Next time I really need to pace myself a bit better...
ffutures: Blasters and ammo magazine cover (Blasters)
In The Struggle For Empire, the source book for FF XII, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are earth-like and habitable, just very big (but don't have crushingly high gravity). So I've started to think about what things would be like there, ignoring the sheer implausibility of this idea and assuming Earth-normal temperature, pressure, atmosphere etc.

One of the questions to cross my mind is if it would be possible to see things coming over the horizon. Which leads to the question "how far away is the horizon?" Fortunately someone has already worked that one out:

So the next question is how far it is theoretically possible to see through the atmosphere at sea level pressure? The answer seems to be more than far enough - the definitive source for this is probably Ringworld, which has visibility in the thousands of kilometers, and it seems plausible given that we can see stars from the bottom of our atmosphere. Anyone able to confirm this? And what would refraction effects do? Extend the distance?

While looking up Ringworld I found this rather nice animation

and there appear to be dozens of others on Youtube, Nifty!
ffutures: (Default)
After a rethink of the way I've laid out the section on the project to re-align the Earth I ended up with about a third of a page unused. So naturally I wrote a scenario outline...

Sicilian Gambit )
ffutures: (Default)
This one is based on an image generated by a freeware program called Alternative World Map Creator which has a few problems on my PC but seems to do a reasonably good job of creating the sort of image I want. I've edited the image to replace some ice with sea, make Greenland green, and add the equator.

My reason for looking at this is that I remembered I used to have a similar DOS program that generated vector-graphics maps; can't find it anywhere now, but this seems just about suitable for my needs, and won't require me to re-draw the map to get around watermarking etc.

big map )

Any thoughts?
ffutures: (lost world)
Here's an attempt at a map of the Earth which I think works a little better, because it was done by distorting a vector graphics image rather than bit-mapped; the small version of the image will be this bit-mapped conversion, there will also be a full-page map. The text that goes with it makes some small changes, since there is now a little more space available.

The Polar Adjustment )
ffutures: illos from the novel by George Griffith (Angel of the Revolution)
The best local pound shop turns out to have 6" globes for a quid, this is my first crude effort at the re-aligned Earth of The Struggle For Empire; it's eventually going to be a political globe, there may be a geophysical one too if I can find the time.

The Earth - Mark 2 )

These pictures probably won't be in the RPG, the globe thing is mainly a check on the maps and a fun prop for game sessions.
ffutures: (Google Earth)
I've looked at the various options for changing the position of the Earth's axis - see previous posts - and decided that I'm going to go with a relatively small change, moving the North Pole about 15 degrees south along the 180 degree meridian, a little west and north of the Bering strait between Alaska and Siberia. This means that London is now at 35 degrees north, not 50 degrees, so hopefully enjoys a mediterranean climate (about the same as Algiers). The North Polar ice cap is probably going to end up close to or touching Siberia and Alaska, but they're used to cold weather there anyway, while the South Pole moves closer to the tip of Africa, and hopefully nothing too drastic happens to the rest of the world. It's still going to be a more or less recognizable map, just a bit distorted.

Niamey in Niger is now on the equator, I think the northern tip of Australia is too, Ecuador is now very slightly south of it, and so forth. You can visualise this to some extent as a sine wave plotted on a normal map of the Earth, with the peaks 15 degrees North of the current equator at the Greenwich Meridian, 15 degrees south at 180 degrees.

The snag is that what I will need is a map of the earth plotted with the new equator as a straight line, and the land masses shifted accordingly. I can probably fake this to some extent by distorting a normal map, but all map projections lie to some extent about the position and size of land masses near the poles, and changing their position without changing the relative sizes will make this worse. I'm not enough of a geographer to get this right. If anyone has software or the skills to do this properly, or can think of a better way to do it, I'd love to hear from you.

I'm not too sure what to do about the degree of axial tilt. 20 degrees or so seems to work well for having seasons and forming nice big ice caps, but would anyone stupid enough to do this in the first place think of that?
ffutures: (Default)
Mists, fogs, cold rains, and other nuisances of the older civilization, have been abolished, for the pole of the earth has been tilted round so that an almost tropical climate prevails through the whole of England.
The Struggle for Empire - Introduction

Assuming that (a) you could change the earth's axis of rotation to any line through its centre of gravity without harmful side effects, (b) you wanted to give Britain a warm climate, and (C) you don't want to make the American or German climates much worse, where would you put the North and South poles? Technology available includes antigravity, force fields that can keep heat out, and apparently limitless powerful sources.

later Forgot to say that I'm trying to think of a way of doing it that doesn't make Alaska, Canada and New Zealand and Australia a lot colder. I forgot to mention that in the original post, for which my bad, but there's so much mineral wealth in Alaska that I suspect the Empire would be VERY reluctant to see it under an ice cap.

Also forgot to say that I'm thinking in terms of a Mediterranean climate for Britain, so 15 degrees further south (as suggested by [livejournal.com profile] dsample is probably about right.

[livejournal.com profile] timill has suggested putting the N. Pole somewhere in Siberia rather than Alaska, which works well with the history of the setting and a defeated Russian empire, that puts the S. Pole nearer the tip of S. America - again I can live with that, though I'll need to sit down with some maps and work it out properly. Before I go with that and start drawing maps etc. (or looking for something that will do the job for me) does anyone have any other suggestions?
ffutures: illos from the novel by George Griffith (Angel of the Revolution)
This time I've made the object being towed a gigantic lump of sapphire, made it a more regular shape, added some flare, and some more complicated rigging. I think it's about as much as I can stand to do...

Ship again

Aug. 30th, 2011 10:57 pm
ffutures: (lost world)
Revised version of the ship picture from yesterday.

Deeper colours and a less obtrusive star field.
ffutures: illos from the novel by George Griffith (Angel of the Revolution)
One of the passages in The Struggle for Empire mentions mining ships towing cargoes of rock etc. back to Earth. This is my first stab at one, using bits of submarine, electricity pylon, crane, rock, and a NASA star field.

I think I'm calling it Nostromo and saying it's near a red sun...

ffutures: (Default)
To the British Library again, where I had a look at Robert William Cole's other books, which are even more obscure than The Struggle For Empire. I was hoping that one or more would be another scientific romance, but no such luck. Quick synopses (bearing in mind that I skimmed them fairly quickly):

His Other Self: The Story of a Man with a Past - 1906
A former wastrel who has found love and turned over a new leaf is intermittently possessed by his rakish past self, who does all the things that the hero no longer wants to do - boozing, chasing loose women, etc. - to teach the hero some sort of moral lesson. Eventually the hero is prepared to renounce his fiancée to ensure that her life will be happy, even if he is miserable. This apparently proves that he is worthy, and the haunting ends.

The Death Trap - 1907
Germany, France, and Russia go to war with Britain (the French under duress, the others willingly), destroy the British fleet, and invade southern England. Britain is nearly defeated, and comes close to revolution due to dastardly German agents and government bungling, but a heroic general leads Britain to victory, aided by the Japanese navy (the Japanese apparently remember Britain as allies from their war with Japan) who take out the German fleet at the eleventh hour - the French quietly switching sides just before the battle. I suppose it is technically a future war story, but there are none of the tropes of scientific romance; the technology is what was available at the time.

The Artificial Girl - 1908
Very disappointing - it sounds like it's about androids, actually it's about transvestitism! The hero (for want of a better word) disguises himself as his sister so that he can attend her finishing school and pursue the girl he loves. Amazingly, this ends without him being arrested, sued, or kicked in the goolies, and with the girl he has pursued possibly falling in love with him. I suspect that they hadn't quite developed the concept of stalking in 1908...

I also checked on the magazine publication of Kipling's As Easy As A.B.C. and confirmed that there was a version in The London Magazine, March 1912, though I wasn't able to confirm if it was illustrated. But given that the date's right, I shall try to get hold of a copy if I can.

Total walked today about 6.7 miles; I walked there, had a salad in the cafe at the library, and walked back by a less direct route. Feeling rather pleased.

Cover story

Aug. 1st, 2011 09:56 pm
ffutures: (Phrenology)
The cover of The Struggle for Empire is fairly plain, just the title and author's name, and publisher's name on the spine.

I've just used an art program to make a reasonably good facsimile of it - don't know if the proportions are exactly right since I didn't have a ruler, and the font may be slightly off, but I think it's acceptable. It's basically just the text on a corduroy background, with the lettering overlaid with a gold texture.

Given that it's not hugely exciting, I think I'll put it on the back cover of the PDF and fairly small, and maybe use it as the cover if I produce an epub version (which will probably happen).

Does this seem reasonable?

cover )
ffutures: illos from the novel by George Griffith (Angel of the Revolution)
...was game-related.

A nice stroll to the British Library, by a slightly indirect route that ended up at about 3.4 miles, where I sorted out my reader's card, reserved the first edition of The Struggle For Empire, and had lunch and took a look at the current British Library / Science Fiction Foundation SF exhibition while they were bringing it up.

Spent a couple of hours on a read through and made a few corrections of my scans, nothing very serious, and arranged to have it kept in the reading room for another session tomorrow. After that I visited the book shops on the other side of Marylebone road (nothing terribly exciting unless you're a Twilight fan, they have the books for £2 each), looked in on a few shops in Tottenham Court Road (no bargains whatever), and took the bus most of the way home, walking the last mile or so to visit a couple of shops. The total distance walked appears to be 5.8 miles, which will hopefully make up for the chicken and bacon sandwich I had at the museum...
ffutures: illos from the novel by George Griffith (Angel of the Revolution)
OK - one of the adventures I want to run in a few weeks will be a story of pioneering Americans heading off to the stars aboard their trusty spaceship, which may or may not be called Serenity. Their aim is to found a new American Republic in another solar system.

However, for game purposes America has been part of the Anglo-Saxon Empire and largely Anglicised for the last 150 years or so, and the gallant crew get most of their ideas of the romance of the Old West and America filtered through a very British lens.

So... I think that the Firefly crew would work for this, if suitably modified. E.g.
The Reverend Book (strict C of E)
Miss Inara Serra (of the Bombay Serras), a gentlewoman and adventuress
and so forth.

Anyone want to give me versions of River, Mal, Jayne, etc.?
ffutures: (Space Patrol)
At home because I've felt like death for the last couple of days (probably just man-flu), which gives me the time to meditate on important(?) questions...

In FF XII London is going to be the largest city in the world:
The largest city on Earth, London extends from the Channel coast to the suburb of Cambridge, from Swindon to the Thames Estuary, and merges seamlessly with towns as far to the north as Manchester, unified by a complex network of roads, high-speed tube railways, and aerial services. Much of the French coast south of London is effectively a continuation of the suburbs; three high-capacity tube and road tunnels ensure that commuters can usually reach the heart of the city in 45 minutes by rail, less than 30 by air.

I'm going to be saying more about the city and its infrastructure, e.g. the hundreds of freight trains from Ireland etc. that bring in produce to keep the city alive, but the main question that's bugging me right now - for the header to this section, is London the King or Queen of cities?

Googling on "London King/Queen of cities" gives me "About 96,700,000 results" for King, and "About 56,600,000 results" for Queen. It's a victory for King, but I'm still not convinced it's so overwhelming that I can rule Queen out of contention completely.

So, if cities have a gender at all, would the ridiculously large expanded London I'm describing here be the King or the Queen of cities, and if so, why?
ffutures: (Phrenology)
Here's how government works in the Empire - I'm basing this on the few clues in The Struggle for Empire, since the Emperor is never actually mentioned I've had to be a little inventive there...

Meritocracy & the Weighted Vote )

Yes, this is supposed to be a dystopia; why did you ask?
ffutures: (Default)
This is a sidebar that I think some readers may find offensive, but probably needs to be included since the source material does mention nearly everything in it.

First, a disclaimer that will be at the start of the game:

Opinions ascribed to citizens of the Empire in this setting are not those of the author, and some may possibly be considered offensive to a modern audience. These include implied sexism, racism, colonialism, capitalism, jingoism, various forms of double standards, etc. etc. The setting, society and events depicted are not intended to be pleasant or desirable!

Bearing that in mind, here's my version of how race etc. are viewed in the Empire:

Eugenics )

Does this sound like plausible doublethink?
ffutures: (lost world)
I need to describe the evolution of a primarily technological meritocracy:

Meritocracy )

That's a bit vague on the American and German equivalents - any suggestions that were around from say the 1920s onward that I can insert reasonably easily?

Grammar Schools - 11-18, offered a broader curriculum than e.g. public schools.

Technical Colleges - 16+, aimed at working men in engineering, science, etc.

Imperial College - the first university in the UK to emphasise science over the classics etc.
ffutures: (Default)
Here's a passage from The Struggle For Empire - I've italicised a couple of bits pertaining to the USA:
The great European war, for which preparations were being made during the latter part of the nineteenth century, broke out with tremendous fury early in the twentieth. England, Germany, and the United States stood arrayed against France, Russia, Austria, Turkey, Italy, and a number of minor States. The earth was shaken by the convulsion. Torrents of blood were shed; armaments, the greatest that the world has ever seen, were totally annihilated in the terrible whirlwind of shot and pestilence. For a long time it seemed as if Great Britain must sink, overpowered by the vast hosts that beleaguered her, but she eventually came out of the struggle triumphant. Gigantic naval battles were fought at Dover, Gibraltar, Cairo, Constantinople, in the midst of the Atlantic, and in the Indian Ocean, and at last her enemies had not a ship or a colony left.

Then the drama was concluded on land. Germany crushed France and Austria in her iron grasp, and England subdued the rest, but not until some millions of her brave sons had perished on the field of battle.

The result of the war was that England obtained the whole of Turkey, a vast piece of the Russian Empire in Asia, and important ports and strongholds in France, Italy, and Spain; while Germany obtained as her share a good slice from France, Italy, and Russia. Shortly afterwards the United States were reunited to England, and the latter entered into a federal union with all the Teutonic States of Europe.
I need some sort of plausible reason for the USA to go along with this. My best guess here so far is secret treaties and one heck of a deal on post-war conditions - e.g. the USA ends up ruling Canada and gets help from its allies to conquer Central and South America etc.

Any better suggestions?

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