| Rules Discussion
This is an early pulp setting, around 1910, give or take five to ten years. The characters are all members of or affiliated with the Venture Society, a gentlemen’s (and ladies’) club dedicated to pushing back the frontiers of human knowledge and exploration. It’s a big world with lots of dark and unknown quarters where one might find lost cities, strange races, bizarre artifacts and dark villainy.
This campaign uses the PbP system I am playtesting, called “Postal”. It’s very derivative of FATE and similar, and shouldn’t be that hard to learn. The system can be found here
, and discussion about it can be found here
. This is a playtest, so I welcome feedback on mechanics, or ideas to make it run better or more smoothly. Doubtless it will evolve as we play.Campaign BackgroundThe Venture Society
Found it 1810, by Charles and Abigail Venture, a husband and wife team of explorers and scientists, the Venture Society was set up to promote similar exploration and study of the fabulous world we live in. The main headquarters in in London, and is primarily used as a museum, but there is a private floor above the main museum used by members. Members are chosen through sponsorship of an existing member. Their duties and obligations are actually few, since the trust set up by the Ventures covers day-to-day expenditures. The club does sometimes sponsor expeditions, but this is usually through the patronage of retired members. The club area has meeting rooms, a gymnasium, a kitchen and dining area, drawing room, library and other amenities, plus sleeping chambers for occasional use. Club members have full usage of the main rooms. Each member also receives a ring bearing the VS crest upon it, guaranteeing them aid or succor from fellow members (or special attention from the club’s enemies).
Members are expected to render aid and favors to the Society at large in return. Wealthy members make donations, explorers lend or donate artifacts to the museum for display, scholars donate their expertise, etc. It’s an informal relationship, but it works. Very often, members are asked to make presentations or give lectures about their discoveries, inventions or achievements, as well.
The current president of the society is Sir Reginald Maybury, a 80 year old man, but still hale and hearty. He is a former adventurer himself, and a retired professor of archaeology, and former soldier (Colonel) of the Queen. The scholars and and explorers of the society call him Sir Reginald, former military types tend to call him Colonel Maybury, or just “The Colonel”.
Although the Venture Museum and Society Headquarters are in London, the Society has smaller establishments in Paris, New York and Rome. It also maintains offices in half a dozen other cities.
Members of the Society hail from all over the world, and although it still largely a man’s world (and a white man’s world at that) in the world at large, the Society is well-known for its egalitarian and cosmopolitan outlook. There are members of both sexes, and many races and nationalities.The World of the Society
This is the state of the world at the time of the campaign. Although I don’t plan to adhere religiously to historical accuracy, this is a rough and ready guide. PCs (and their enemies) can always have the opportunity to have more cutting-edge or unique personal equipment than what is described below.Communication
Telephones are available, but still rare in any but the homes of the affluent.Telegraph is the most likely way to get a long distance message somewhere quickly; there are no transatlantic calls. Radio is available, but not for broadcast. Most radio uses morse code, but the transmission of normal sound is beginning to catch on.Transportation
Cars are also only owned by the wealthy, as the mass-produced Model T has only been out for a few years. They do exist, but not in mass production—this is still the age of the horse. Flight is still very experimental, and the airship and the balloon are the rule of the day, perhaps more so than in real-world history. The Panama Canal has not yet been built.Warfare
Hand held automatic pistols and rifles exist. Tanks are just being invented. Hand grenades won’t be developed for a while yet, but dynamite is available. Cavalry is still a major player on the battlefield. The Great War and its rapid advances in general weaponry still lies in the future.Media
Photography is widely available, but still not in casual use. The gramophone is common, and aficionados may have home cylinder recording capability. Moving pictures exist, and a few theaters have appeared. Films are silent and short. the kinetoscope and similar technologies are being outmoded. The typewriter has been invented, but is not yet commonplace.Current Events
I will be intentionally vague on this point, partially to avoid the necessity of scrupulous research, and most;y because this is not really a feature of the source literature. Few pulps of the 20’s for instance would even give the reader an inkling that the worst world-wide depression in history was going on, other than occasional mention of bread lines or soup kitchens. Wilhelm is the Kaiser of Germany, Edward is the King of England. Roosevelt is the President of the US. Don’t worry about the exact year. It’s 1910-ish. Edward and Roosevelt are more colorful than George and Taft.
Colonialism is a going strong. The six major colonial powers are Great Britain, Russia, France, Germany, The United States and Japan. The latter two are only starting their colonial periods, and the protectorates and possessions of Great Britain are greater than the other five combined. Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and numerous other, primarily European, nations have many possessions as well.
English and French will make you understood in most places in the world.Geography
This is where I will play the most fast and loose from our own world. The literature of the era is filled with tales of unexplored reaches of Africa, Asia, South America and the far seas. There are countless stories of lost continents, lost cities, bizarre (non-human?) tribes, isolated plateaus, and so forth. Consider the bulk of the Non Western (i.e. Europe, The US and Russia) to be fair game for unexplored areas.Science
Assume the prevailing science theories of the time are accurate. Light is carried through space by the medium of the ether. Relativity is not how the universe works. Heredity is understood, but not modern genetics. No such thing as atomic power. Mars and Venus are likely candidates for life. Continents can sink or rise, but not drift.
At the same time, don’t feel hamstrung by those theories either. Life might be created by growing people in a vat. An “ether propellor” might some day take people through space. There might be materials out there with bizarre properties, like being light as cork but stronger than steel, or being able to defy gravity. Anything is possible, with a good enough SCIENCE! explanation.NPCsDr. William Wallace MacGregor
Scots engineer and theoretical scientist. Particularly good at interpreting technical subjects for the general masses. Charming and folksy in front of an audience, but pompous in private.Albert Swain
English Concierge of the London Society. Highly organized, adept at handling eccentric personalities, frighteningly efficient at remembering names and personal details. Always carries clipboard.Professor Horace Witherspoon, (ret.)
Brilliant philologist. His published work deteriorated in later years, but after his (forced?) retirement, has shown a marked and insightful renaissance.Lord Henry Ransdell*
One of the Society’s wealthiest members. Illegitimate (but adopted) son of the Earl of Drury. Larger than life, rugged and handsome adventurer type. Spends a lot of time in Africa, and is a favorite for Maybury’s successor.Sir Reginald Maybury*
President of the Society, a 80 year old man, but still hale and hearty. He is a former adventurer himself, and a retired professor of archaeology, and former soldier (Colonel) of the Queen. The scholars and and explorers of the society call him Sir Reginald, former military types tend to call him Colonel Maybury, or just “The Colonel”.Paulo Vitor
Retired Spanish Banker, living in Northern France. Father of Enrique Vitor Damo da Rosa (Enny).Professora de Matematica Marsella Fuentes
Retired Spanish Professor of Mathematics, though she still publishes. Living in Northern France. Mother of Enrique Vitor Damo da Rosa (Enny).S. Cavor
Obscure metallurgist. Possibly a crackpot. Hums incessently.Nawab
Famous gatka guru who trained Pachmar Uttamjodh Singh.