Monday, 1 October 2012

Basic Concepts: Weird Science

For any Science Fiction game it is necessary to have some scientific MacGuffin on which to hang our hat, especially for SF games set in the past. In 1812: Napoleon on Mars it is an amalgam of Newton's laws of universal gravitation and motion leading to the discovery of the force of anti-gravity.

Once harnessed by the Montgolfier brothers in their Aerograv Réveillon military applications became obvious in a world already beset by global war leading to flying man'o'war and the exploration of the Moon and nearby planets with aerograv. Of course this does introduce opportunities for battles between flying sail ships and I suspect that is one avenue of many we will explore as we develop the background and game.

On Mars itself, as I have already touched on, the atmosphere has very little oxygen necessitating human troops to wear re-breathing apparatus to breath and clockwork primers on muskets to generate a small electric spark to ignite the priming powder. The Martians themselves use indigenous weaponry in the form of electro-muskets and cannon, but these are unable to hold sufficient charge for a long period which will result in the need to keep Martian units replenished in the game in a way that Human ones won't.

There is of course some tactical battlefield application of anti-gravity but I intend to explore the idea of aerial vessels and their impact on ground battles at a later stage, 1812 itself will focus strictly on land battles between the British, French and their Martian allies and enemies.


  1. How poetically striking the image of a wooden warship flying in the sky may be, on analysis it is quite silly. Without the resistance of the water under the hull the wind would probably put the ship 'head down and leg over'. Anyway, without the resistance of the keel the ship could not move at an angle to the wind. I suppose one would need *two* symmetrical sets of winds, one on each side -too bad for broadsides! Then skyships would be armed like *galleys*, with guns concentrated in the bow (and what the recoil of really heavy pieces would do to a rather delicate flyer?). Indeed the winds would be more of an hindrance and the 'cloudships of Mars' would be better without any sail at all. Note that to change direction a cloudship needs two (sets of) propellers working at different speed, a 'rudder' would be inefficient. Btw what to you plan to use as power source? Oarsmen, maybe?

    Efficient flyers -be they flying humanoids (eg Tékumel Hlaka), animal mounts or mechanical contraptions- would soon change the very nature of warfare, naval and siege warfare immediately. That's why for me when I toy about 'Lacepunk' ideas I prefer to have only dirigibles and more modest than these!), the high vulnerability of balloons preventing a too large 'butterfly effect'.

  2. Wessex Games, and now AB One Games introduces 'Napoleon and the Armies of Mars': great minds think alike?
    Anyway as a supporter of a potential '1745 - Maurice de Saxe on Mars' I can only be happy to see pre-Victorian SF becoming fashionable!