FORBIDDEN FANTASY THREATENED
THE FEDERATION in
The Fantastic Empire
The Tsars Are Right
A Tale of Mistaken Genius
Marcus L. Rowland
Copyright © 2001, portions Copyright © 1993-2000
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THE adventurers are Americans living in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or the near vicinity, and have an important mission; to deliver the inaugural Mary Shelley Award for Scientific Romance to America's premier fantasist, Howard P. Lovecraft. Little do they know that their mission will take them into strange territory...
No special skills are needed for this adventure, but optionally some knowledge of the law may be useful. To generate a character as a lawyer or law student spend points on Scholar (U.S. law / Federation Law / Trial Procedure / etc.), Business, and Actor (oratory). F.I.B. agents (see the Worldbook and adventure 2) can be involved, but they should be introduced some time after the start of the adventure as described below. Several NPCs need F.I.B. identification cards. Initially all characters should be generated as young adults on 18-21 points depending on their ages (see adventure 1).
Readers familiar with the early history of science fiction fandom will appreciate that I have taken considerable liberties, mostly in assuming that in this world the Revolution and other events have led to the continued popularity of Scientific Romances and the development of fandom, with conventions and fan publications appeared much earlier than in our world. A prosperous world with free travel and cheap postal services makes this development somewhat more plausible.
This adventure can be run as it stands, but is most useful as a campaign subplot or as a series of background events, with participation in the subplot left optional. The dates suggested below can be changed as you prefer without serious effects.
With some obvious exceptions all magazines, fanzines, newspapers, agents, places, etc. mentioned in this adventure are entirely fictional, and any resemblance to real equivalents, or to persons associated with them, is purely coincidental. All hotels, bars, police etc. mentioned are entirely imaginary.
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OCTOBER 1936. Just days ago you were in New York, attending the fifth annual Federation Scientific Romance Convention; now you are returning home, but first you have undertaken a side trip to Providence, Rhode Island, where you will have the honour of delivering the Mary Shelley Award, a silver statuette for the most outstanding Scientific Romance of the year.
Almost inevitably it is going to one of America's most beloved authors; Howard P. Lovecraft, the humorist, poet, and children's fantasist who is best known for his tales of the gentle bat-winged giant Cthulhu and his bumbling attempts to make friends with mankind. Every child knows the series, especially the collaborative Cthulhu in Oz, written with L. Frank Baum shortly before the latter's death in 1919.
Lovecraft's most recent novels have taken him in a new direction; The Guns of The East and Motherland are already acknowledged as classics. They are scientific romances on a grand scale, a variant history set in a world where Alexander and Natas died young, the Revolution never occurred, and Russia is ruled by a benevolent reforming monarch, Tsar Nicholas II. It's a compellingly logical fantasy setting once the startling premise is accepted, and several other authors are already using the same background, or other parts of the "Nicholas" world, for their own stories. The concluding novel of the series, The Man in the High Kremlin, has been announced for publication early next year.
Unfortunately Lovecraft couldn't attend the convention, and you happen to live closer to him than any of the other attendees. It's a pleasure and an honour to help out the committee by going a few miles out of your way to deliver the award. With luck you may even be able to spend some time with Lovecraft, if he can make room for you in his busy schedule!
As your train glides along the light railway into Providence station you gather your belongings and prepare to step out into the mild autumn afternoon, ready to meet a living legend...
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LOVECRAFT'S work has attracted critical acclaim; it has also bought him to the attention of an over-zealous official.
The recently-appointed Deputy Regional Superintendent for North America, John E. Hoover (yes, the "E" does stand for "Edgar"), is a very ambitious man. He wants to be personally responsible for a few high-profile cases which will establish him as the ideal man to promote to Regional Superintendent when the current incumbent, Elliot Ness, is promoted to Director. Unfortunately Hoover has no scruples or sense of proportion, and in the absence of many serious crimes he has decided to look round for technical breaches of Federation Law that can be talked up into major prosecutions. In his eyes the "Nicholas" stories fit the bill. Technically the first two novels may verge on being pro-Romanoff propaganda, a criminal offence under Federation law although it has never been enforced in America before. He has issued orders accordingly.
Although it has been kept from the newspapers, Lovecraft didn't attend the convention because he is under house arrest pending a full investigation of his work and influence as an author. Where "investigation" is spelled "witch hunt"... While the charge is being brought in America, Hoover is senior enough to ask the rest of the F.I.B. to co-operate in enforcing this decision. Unless Lovecraft is acquitted it will be a criminal offence to publish his work in the Federation, especially the third book of the Nicholas trilogy.
The aim of this scenario is to involve the adventurers in Lovecraft's eventual martyrdom as a banned and exiled author, the fight for the freedom of the press, and samizdat publications of his work. They may even be able to bring about his release and a change in the law. Try to keep the legal situation and arguments as Kafkaesque as possible; the courts have all the advantages and Lovecraft and his supporters have none, unless they are unusually resourceful. The legalities of the situation are described below.
Once Lovecraft is imprisoned the adventure has been left open-ended; if adventurers do nothing he will eventually be released, the actions they take will accelerate or delay the process, and may have other consequences.
A campaign to free Lovecraft can potentially involve hundreds of supporters; most are sympathetic to Lovecraft's cause, but amongst them will be F.I.B. agents pretending to be fans while looking for evidence of Tsarist involvement, real Tsarist sympathisers who see a chance to discredit the Federation, and a fair proportion of trouble-makers of one sort or another, most of whom see the campaign as a stalking-horse for their own interests.
Because of this diversity of interests, it may be preferable to involve only one or two characters in the initial scene, then introduce more gradually as news of Lovecraft's arrest spreads and more fans join in. As each adventurer is introduced the referee should privately discuss their real motives for involvement, and make sure that the character has an appropriate story. This approach works very well if you are running this adventure as a subplot in a campaign with larger scope. Some of the interests that might be represented include:
Examples of most of these points of view appear below. Adventurers can act alone, or may be connected to one or another of these subplots.
October 1936 Sun Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 November 1936 Sun Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Without direct or indirect help from the adventurers Lovecraft will not be allowed to submit the third book of his trilogy as evidence, so its anti-Tsarist message will not be considered by the court. If its contents somehow become common knowledge it is likely that he will be acquitted. If the book is published after he is convicted it may lead to a retrial and acquittal.
This adventure is unusual in one respect; any use of violent methods will almost always make the situation worse. What's needed here is the ability to fight the system, not human opponents...
Because of this adventure's nature it is likely that players will come up with unusual solutions to the problem, which haven't been considered below. They won't necessarily interact with any of the NPCs described below, other than Lovecraft himself, or may choose to involve them in ways that the author hasn't anticipated. Referees should be prepared to consider all ideas on their merits, even if they involve some extra effort, and to add new characters and locations to meet the needs of these plans. Try to avoid saying "this won't work" or "I don't know". There is a list of "random fandom" characters with brief statistics at the end of the adventure; they can easily be converted into police, security guards, sewer engineers, taxi drivers, or whatever else seems appropriate to the needs of a new plot.
The "Nicholas" Trilogy
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IT'S likely that the adventurers will want to know more about the plots of Lovecraft's "Nicholas" novels. They are huge masterpieces of plotting and characterisation, with a cast of hundreds, and subplots range from humour to romance, with a strong element of satire. It is impossible to summarise these aspects of the story briefly, but the main events are as follows:
The Guns of the East (1933) is set at the end of the nineteenth century. In a long prologue the assassination of Alexander II in 1881 leads to a round-up of suspected dissidents including Israel Di Murska (who in the real world eventually became Natas). In this world he is killed resisting arrest, and his extraordinary effect on history is nullified. Although the Nihilists have other leaders, they are never so effective, and lack his peculiar ability to predict the future and forge links with other socialist organisations.
The main story begins ten years later, with the Tsarevich Nicholas surviving the 1891 Japanese assassination attempt with minor injuries, rather than the paralysing disability of the real world. A false report tells Alexander III that he has been killed. Alexander mobilises for a war on Japan; when he learns the truth, he decides that the Japanese must still be taught a lesson, and dispatches the Russian fleet to shell Tokyo and annex Hokkaido once Nicholas is safely out of the country. Learning of this plan during the Russian Navy's long passage to Japan, Nicholas persuades his father to call off the shelling, and the fleet is intercepted with new orders. Eventually the invasion is a bloodless success, and Hokkaido becomes Russia's equivalent of Hong Kong; a bustling trade centre profiting from the Orient. Nicholas is made the island's governor, and his skill as an administrator and ruler becomes obvious. He even manages to pacify Japanese opposition by convincing the Emperor that Japan will also benefit from Hokkaido's prosperity.
The novel ends in 1895, with Nicholas receiving news of the death of Alexander, assassinated by Nihilists.
In Motherland (1935) Nicholas is crowned Tsar and begins a programme of reforms designed to eliminate the problems that led to the assassination of Alexander. Rather than cracking down on dissidents, he persuades the Russian Orthodox and Catholic churches to mediate with the Nihilists, Bolsheviks, and other revolutionary factions. By effective leadership and moral example he brings Russia into the twentieth century, a modern industrialised nation rivalling Britain, Germany, France and America in world trade. Needless to say the other great nations are unhappy about this transformation; eventually Germany launches a trade war, attempting to undercut Russia in every market.
With intense pressure to compete conditions in Russia's factories and mines start to deteriorate, and there is growing industrial unrest, culminating in a general strike, the fall of the Duma, Russia's parliament, and the election of a Socialist government. This should mean the end of the Tsar, but by sheer force of personality Nicholas persuades the new government to help him create a true constitutional monarchy along British lines (there are frequent favourable references to the British system of government in all three books). By pouring his personal fortune into industry he saves Russia's economy; Britain and France start to buy Russian armaments instead of German, and eventually the Germans back down.
In an ironic final scene Nicholas receives news that his Moslem provinces have revolted; in serving trade and industry he has ignored the spiritual realities of Russia, now Russia must pay the price. Overall it is a much darker novel than the first, with disturbing hints that Nicholas is only seeing parts of the picture; repeatedly events catch him unawares, and it is apparent that his courtiers are reluctant to give him bad news.
If these two volumes are read in isolation, they give the impression of moderate approval of the Russian monarchy (and monarchy in general) which an unimaginative reader might interpret as pro-Tsarist propaganda. A perceptive reader will soon realise that there is some deeper intent, and that the first two books are setting up Nicholas for an eventual fall.
The third novel has only been read by Lovecraft's agent, publishers, and a few friends. The manuscript and proof-reading copies etc. have been confiscated by the F.I.B. More copies exist, but finding them won't be easy; there are some suggestions on means of doing so in later sections.
The Man in the High Kremlin (TMitHK) chronicles the final decline and fall of Nicholas - while dealing with the Moslem uprising he discovers that his courtiers have conspired to conceal the truth about every facet of Russian life since he took the throne. The workers have been systematically exploited and abused, the factories he has visited were carefully "sanitised" to make sure that he sees nothing that will offend him, the "democratic" parliament has become a corrupt sham, its members puppets of the nobility. The Ochrana used Nicholas' money to exterminate thousands of Nihilists and Bolsheviks, leaving nothing for industry - far from winning the trade war, Russia is on the verge of bankruptcy. Every attempt to solve these problems makes them worse, and the novel ends with Nicholas a despairing prisoner in an old mountain fortress, the "high Kremlin" of the title, taking his life to force an end to the sham. In a chilling epilogue his courtiers discuss his replacement; he has no heir, but an actor can easily take on the role, he has always been so remote from everyday life that the ruse will never be detected by the people.
It's a bleak, powerful novel, a glimpse into the abyss of madness and the corruption of power. And it is proof, if proof were needed, that Lovecraft never intended to support the Tsar. It throws the ironic humour of the first novel and darker tone of the second into context, together they are a powerful indictment of the ignorance and tyranny implicit in the old Russian system of govenment, and of tyranny in general.
The Cthulhu Stories
While the focus of this adventure is the Nicholas novels, Lovecraft is actually more famous for a series of eleven children's books, the Cthulhu novels. They are aimed at children aged seven to twelve, and feature a lovable but clumsy giant with bat wings and tentacles who lives on an isolated Pacific island, and (since he is 300 ft. tall) has problems relating to humanity. For example, in Cthulhu and the Castaways (1917) a ship is wrecked on his island; when Cthulhu tries to help fix it his enormous strength smashes the hull, and the sailors try to attack him with cannon they've salvaged from the wreck. Eventually he builds a giant raft from tree-trunks and sends them on their way. In Cthulhu's Long Nap (1923) he falls asleep for several years and natives build a village on top of him; when he starts to wake they think that a volcano is about to erupt and flee the island in terror - by the time his eyes are open they are gone, and Cthulhu never even knows that they have been there. There have been two films based on the series, Cthulhu In New York (1934) and Cthulhu Meets King Kong (1935), both filmed using the stop-frame techniques pioneered for The Lost World and King Kong. There have also been two Cthulhu collaborations; Cthulhu In Oz (1919) was an early story written with L. Frank Baum shortly before his death, What Ho, Cthulhu (1922) was a musical written by P.G. Wodehouse, with additional dialogue by Lovecraft - it flopped.
In a famous review Dorothy Parker describes the series as "...light-hearted fun, if you think that a three hundred foot giant treading on a house is funny. There's no accounting for taste."
An Enemy of the People
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SOON the adventurers reach Lovecraft's home at 66 College Street, a three-storey Colonial building now split into apartments near Brown University. The bells indicate that he occupies the top floor. When the adventurers ring, the door is opened by a stocky man in his late forties who lets them into the lobby but seems to want to know a lot about them and their business (including names and addresses) before he'll let them in. He doesn't ask for proof of identity so anyone who thinks quickly can get away with giving a false name and address. If his right to ask questions is queried he produces an F.I.B. identification card which identifies him as Field Commander Thomas Ripley.
While Ripley is questioning the adventurers more agents walk in and out, ferrying boxes of papers downstairs and out to a waiting car. Ripley is older than any of the adventurers and regards them as "kids", not adults, so doesn't take them very seriously. Once he is satisfied about their reasons for visiting he says that Lovecraft is "helping us with our enquiries", but he will allow them to see him briefly and present the award. Why is Lovecraft under arrest? "He's helping us with our enquiries into pro-Tsarist Propaganda. Nobody is under arrest." Anyone protesting that his stories are just fiction is told that it's up to the Federation courts to decide that "If we bring charges". Ripley will also make a note if the adventurer associated Lovecraft's novels with Tsarist propaganda without being prompted.
If anyone runs off or attacks Ripley or any other agent, at this point or later in the visit, they will be stopped and arrested by the F.I.B.; there are several agents in Lovecraft's apartment, and more in a car outside. If necessary they will shoot to wound, firing to kill if he or she doesn't stop. The least to be expected is arrest and a long period of questioning before the F.I.B. decides that they are idiots and releases them. Naturally they will not be allowed to see Lovecraft.
Eventually, if he isn't antagonised, Ripley will give the adventurers a few minutes to see Lovecraft in his study in the top floor apartment. Needless to say Ripley and another agent remain in the room, and they will take notes and confiscate anything (other than the award itself) that changes hands. This may annoy anyone who has bought along valuable first edition copies of one or another of Lovecraft's novels for an autograph...
Despite the mild weather there's a fire in the grate of Lovecraft's study, a large book-lined room with a powerful telescope on a stand by the window, rows of his novels and awards on the mantelpiece, and a large cuddly toy Cthulhu occupying one of the chairs. The room is uncomfortably hot, and Lovecraft is a gaunt haunted-looking man who looks decidedly unwell. As he talks to the adventurers he absent-mindedly strokes a cat which eventually jumps down from his lap and wanders out.
Once they have explained their mission and he understands that they aren't F.I.B. agents, he apologises for the warmth, which he blames on his (unspecified) medical condition, and graciously accepts the award. Despite appearances he's moderately cheerful, sure that the F.I.B. will soon realise that they've made a mistake. After all, what he wrote was just fiction, not anything that anyone could take seriously. "I'm sure that they'll eventually realise that. It's probably going to delay the last book of the trilogy, my publishers won't be able to go ahead until this is cleared up."
Although Lovecraft doesn't discuss his illness with strangers it isn't much of a secret. He suffers from poikilothermism, a rare condition in which the body (like that of a reptile) has no internal control of its temperature. He will eventually collapse if he is outdoors without artificial sources of heat in winter; even October conditions are a little too cold for him. All of the usual Federation penal colonies in America are in areas that get very cold in winter; if he is sent to one he will probably die.
Additionally, and as yet undiagnosed, he is suffering from stomach cancer, which he thinks of as chronic indigestion.
Unless they have done something to attract F.I.B. attention they will not be followed or questioned further; however, they won't be allowed back into the house. If someone "accidentally" leaves something behind an agent will fetch it.
As they leave the adventurers should realise that they have an awesome responsibility; Lovecraft is in peril, it's up to them to make sure that all of S.R. fandom knows, and somehow rises to the challenge of obtaining his release...
What if the adventurers don't want to save Lovecraft? After all, they are children of a socialist state which holds up the Tsars as being akin to Satan. Maybe they'll decide that his predicament is none of their business, that the F.I.B. doesn't make mistakes, or assume that they have somehow missed the Tsarist propaganda that is implicit in the novels. In that event the campaign to free him will gather momentum without their help, and they'll gradually notice that all their friends and fellow-fans are involved in it. There should be a lot of moral pressure to join in, but if the adventurers don't want to go along with the herd the fuss gradually dies down after Lovecraft is convicted and sent into exile.
Six months later the samizdat publication of TMitHK begins without their help; since they didn't get involved in the earlier campaign (or have opposed it) nobody trusts them to help with the story's distribution. As the compelling narrative unfolds it becomes obvious that Lovecraft has been unjustly convicted; a few months later he is released by decree of the President of the Federation, and the fans responsible for the campaign become international celebrities. The adventurers get nothing.
We Need... Information
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Providence (population 275,000), a seaport and semi-capital of Rhode Island, U.S., on a river of the name, 44m S.W. of Boston; it is a centre of a large manufacturing district, and has a large trade in woolens, jewellery, and hardware; has a number of public buildings, and institutions, churches, schools, universities, libraries and hospitals, as well as beautiful villas and gardens. Served by light railway from Boston, and electrified main railway from Boston and New York. There is a Federation Navy submarine base and repair depot, formerly a U.S. Navy dockyard.Federation Enyclopaedia, 1935
THE adventurers know that Lovecraft is being held before it becomes common knowledge; they may be able to do something with the information. Hopefully they will decide that they need to know more; who is behind the arrest, what steps are being taken to prevent the publication of TMitHK, etc.
This section summarises the information that's available in and around Providence, and describes various useful contacts. Note that it is impossible to meet many of these contacts without spending several days in the town; accommodation etc. are described below.
So far the press has said nothing about Lovecraft, yet it must surely be a major news story. It's obvious that the F.I.B. hasn't made a public announcement. Maybe the adventurers can tip off a few papers in return for favours or information. Even if they don't, the story appears four days later, a brief paragraph announcing that Lovecraft has been held for questioning, without further comment. At first the press will toe the party line, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, later there may be cautious criticism if more facts come to light. Initially there may even be editorials in the yellow press attacking Lovecraft for using his privileged status as an author to spread Tsarist propaganda, despite the fact that he hasn't yet been formally charged, or articles analysing his children's stories in an attempt to find evidence that he has used them to convey propaganda.
In the early stages of the case, with few facts available, adventurers who want to spend more time trying to convince the press of the rightness of Lovecraft's cause will soon be put in their place, by stories describing them as dupes of Lovecraft's pernicious influence. Once such stories appear they will be treated with suspicion by everyone who knows them; business contacts will find excuses to sever the connection, family and friends will treat them with a certain reserve, and so on. Those still in school or college will run into trouble with their class-mates, fraternities, etc.
Later, as more of the facts get out, the press may gradually move towards criticism of the F.I.B. handling of the case; Lovecraft will be presented as misguided or a Tsarist dupe, rather than evil.
Press Contacts: The following reporters will be in Providence before the trial and cover the trial in Boston. The trial itself will attract more reporters, but they are less likely to become involved with the adventurers:
One nugget of useful information can be extracted from the newspaper stories. Ripley is described as being in charge of the case; anyone with any knowledge of the F.I.B.'s organisation (which is no secret) will be aware that a Field Commander is much too junior to instigate such an operation. He is also mentioned as being from the F.I.B.'s Washington offices, not the local headquarters in Boston. This strongly implies that the orders in this case are coming from a very high level, such as the Regional Superintendent's office in Washington. Harold King and Laurell Lord know more about this, as mentioned above.
Law enforcement contacts (as described below) can confirm this. It's odd because the Regional Superintendent for North America, Elliot Ness, has a reputation as a hard-hitting crimefighter, hardly the sort of man who would go after Lovecraft on such flimsy grounds, or stay out of the investigation if he organised it. In any case Ness has other fish to fry; he's rumoured to be next in line for Director of the entire Bureau, even though he isn't an Aerian citizen, and has far more important cases to handle.
Ness's deputies are the next layer of authority. Their names can be found by checking old newspaper stories etc.; Doyle, Floyd, Hoover and Webb. It's possible to learn more about all four from press, police, or F.I.B. sources:
It should be emphasised that the adventurers are very unlikely to meet any of these men; their secretaries, staff, and if necessary armed guards keep them from any unwanted contact with the public. It may seem likely that Hoover is giving the orders, if the adventurers get this far. What they can do with this information is debatable; Hoover isn't doing anything illegal, it's the Bureau's job to prosecute active Tsarists. Adventurers may imagine that he might back off if the case seems to be making him or the Bureau look foolish; in fact he's ready and willing to use Ripley as his scapegoat - Ripley regards himself as Hoover's protege and doesn't yet realise that he is expendable.
There are a few players stupid enough to believe that this situation can be resolved by finding and killing the person who gives the orders; in this case John E. Hoover. They couldn't be more wrong. If Hoover (or any other F.I.B. agent) is killed any remaining sympathy for Lovecraft will evaporate; the public believe that F.I.B. men are heroes, and an assassination would lead to an all-out manhunt for the killers and anyone associated with them. It will be presented to the Federation and public as the murder of an important official, obvious evidence of a counter-revolutionary plot involving Lovecraft. With thousands looking for the assassins it's inevitable that Federation air-ships will eventually sweep from the skies to annihilate them.
Another possibility is an attempt to blackmail Hoover; players may know that Hoover is believed to have been a homosexual, and thus vulnerable to this form of "persuasion". Remind them that their characters have no knowledge of this, and no reason to believe that Hoover can be blackmailed. Optionally Hoover is a happily married man in this world.
Law Enforcement Contacts. Various members of the local police and F.I.B. are in the area before Lovecraft's trial, and might be befriended or persuaded to disclose a little information. They will not help adventurers break the law, of course, but might possibly bend it a little...
The P.P.D. is currently undermanned, and advertising for two more officers in the Police Gazette. If adventurers don't seem to have any other ideas the advertisement could come to their attention; it asks for experienced officers, but adventurers might be able to fake such experience for a day or two, and find some way to see Lovecraft or learn more about the case. The job pays $22.50 a week.
Many locals know Lovecraft; although he is a recluse, he has lived in Providence for most of his adult life. They will uniformly be surprised and puzzled by his arrest. Mostly they don't have any unusual access to Lovecraft, but there are some exceptions:
Living in Providence
There are numerous boarding houses and hotels in the area, since it's close to the college. Unfortunately term has started and there are very few spare rooms, especially since various F.I.B. agents and reporters have added to the crowd. There are no rooms in any neighbouring house. Anyone who does find a room in a boarding house further afield will be next door to one of the F.I.B. agents on a 2D6 roll of 8+; anyone in a hotel will be on the same floor as an F.I.B. agent on 5+, and next door on 8+.
Although the standard of living is high in the Federation, with most forms of transport free, communications subsidised and many other essentials supplied by the state, there is relatively little unearned wealth; it's unlikely that many citizens (especially impoverished S.R. fans) have the means to spend weeks or months in the area without getting a job or finding some other form of income. There are some jobs on offer, of course, whether the adventurers will want to take them is another matter. Most are only available for men. At this time a basic living wage for a single person is about $15 a week.
While the Lovecraft case is presumably the adventurers' main reason for being in town, many other things are happening there; there are college football games, concerts, plays, occasional parties, fraternity hi-jinks and hundreds of other events, the daily activities of any city. Remember that this is a successful socialist society; while there are still some rich and poor, the division is much less evident than in our world. Members of the sanitation crew attend the premiere of the latest play, their children attend college, very few illnesses go untreated since medical care is free.
The S.R. Community
As S.R. fans the adventurers should have plenty of connections with other fans, and should be aware of various professional and amateur magazines in the field. These contacts are potentially very useful - there are fans in most of America's cities, and in most walks of life. They tend to be loyal to their friends and their interest in scientific romances, even when it conflicts with other activities. There are disadvantages, of course; many fans are obsessive to some degree, few can keep a secret, and the vast majority are inclined to substitute words for deeds.
Professionally-published American S.R. magazines include Air-Ship Stories, Worlds of Wonder, Astounding Scientific Romances, Spicy Scientific Romances and Interplanetary Tales. All have carried Lovecraft's work in the past, but none are involved in the current case; Lovecraft's work is popular enough to have a sizeable mainstream audience, and TMitHK was to have been serialised in The Saturday Evening Post in the U.S.A. and Pearson's Magazine in Europe, to be closely followed by publication by Tower Books in Britain and America. The manuscripts have been confiscated by the F.I.B. As a result Pearson's has rescheduled its next few issues and will be running another of H.G. Wells' interminable humorous serials, the Saturday Evening Post plans to carry some articles on etiquette, and book publication is on indefinite hold. While nobody is advertising these facts, it's no great secret, and scizines (amateur scientific romance magazines) will soon carry sketchy reports of the situation.
Specialist S.R. magazines will soon know about Lovecraft's arrest, but have been warned that their editorial license doesn't extend to commenting on anything more than the bare facts of the case, and that they may attract unwanted official attention if they don't cooperate. While newspapers can probably get away with defying the F.I.B. occasionally, these relatively small companies don't have the resources to defend themselves. The Federation Constitution does not guarantee the freedom of the press; while the American Constitution does, and is still operational where it is not superseded by Federation law, all businesses have to obey hundreds of regulations. It's almost impossible to comply with every one of them, and the threat of visits by safety inspectors ("This paper should be marked to show that it's flammable..."), the public health department ("...you should have a block of soap for every three point five employees..."), the Post Office ("...this advertisment might constitute mail fraud...") and so forth is enough to make any editor sweat. Most fans should be able to learn about this easily, if they ask a few questions; gossip soon gets around, and too many people know about it to keep it completely quiet.
Since the Federation keeps postal charges low, S.R. enthihusiasts often publish "scizines" (amateur scientific romance magazines). These have circulation in the hundreds at most, but most fans see two or three a month. It would be easy to spread the news that way - whether it will be believed before newspaper stories appear is another matter, scizines are notorious for hoaxes and other pranks, and there has been a rash of them recently. While it's unlikely that anyone will have the time to print and distribute a scizine before the official news stories break, when stories do appear they are likely to be more sympathetic to Lovecraft than the newspapers. At this time the most prominent scizines are:
Scizines can be useful in background research on Lovecraft and his work; as well as the specific contacts mentioned above, he's a prolific letter writer and until his arrest maintained voluminous correspondence with most of the more prominent scizines in North America and Britain.
Apart from the real reasons for Lovecraft's persecution, which can't be found solely in fandom, there are several specific questions which the adventurers will probably want answered; most importantly, what will the third Nicholas novel be about, and is there anything in it that can help Lovecraft? Adventurers may decide to look in scizines without prompting; if so they will find the information below. If the adventurers have already spent some time looking into the matter without results, and without thinking of scizines, try to drop subtle hints that there might be some clues there; if all else fails, tell them that they have vague recollections of reading something about the book in a scizine recently. In fact there have been four recent references; finding each of them will take 2D6 man-hours of reading. Roll randomly for the order in which they are found, if adventurers don't say which scizines they will read first:
These clues may lead the adventurers to one or another copy of the manuscript, as described in a later section.
Players who are familiar with Lovecraft's history, or the history of SF fandom in our world, may want to follow up other leads; for example, they might assume that August Derleth would be a useful contact. In this world the response is "August who?"; Derleth's father died in the 1904 revolution, and he was never even conceived. The death of Howard is another case in point; in our world he committed suicide after the death of his mother, in this world he accidentally shot himself and was survived by his mother. Other familiar names of the period either have nothing to do with fandom in this world, or don't even exist; for instance, thanks to socialised medicine Robert A. Heinlein's tuberculosis was diagnosed and cured before he was invalided from the Federation navy, and he is now a successful submarine commander with little time for, or interest in, scientific romances. In this world, as in ours, Lovecraft's marriage ended in divorce, but here his ex-wife is a successful author in her own right, and has not remarried. In these and all other respects the history of S.R. fandom is what you say it is!
It's likely that the adventurers will want to involve other fans in their activities; to recruit someone, use Psychology or the average of MIND and SOUL to overcome the recruitee's MIND (assume MIND 3-4 for most fans). Wherever possible ask for this to be acted out, by the adventurer making a stirring speech in defence of Lovecraft, truth, justice, the abolition of censorship, or whatever else seems likely to appeal to the targeted recruit. If trying to recruit several fans by such a speech assume that the collective MIND is 2-3, not 3-4 (a basic principle which can explain the success of most politicians, auctioneers, and other rabble-rousers). Use the results on the following table:
If adventurers want to contact Lovecraft they'll be blocked by the F.I.B.. The telephone has been disconnected, letters will be intercepted (and dossiers started on their senders), and there is always at least one agent on duty at his house; after the first few days it will be someone less senior than Ripley, but there will always be an F.I.B. agent or a policeman there. It might be possible to impersonate one of these officers, as described above, but it would be very risky.
Ingenious players may think of other ways to contact Lovecraft. Since he's a cat lover and feeds most of the strays in the neighbourhood it might seem to be possible to attach a note to a hungry cat, possibly attached to a collar; the usual result is the rapid departure of the cat for parts unknown. After several attempts one of the cats will actually go into the house, and come back without the note. There will never be a reply.
A slightly more plausible method would be to signal him; he has an astronomical telescope and might see a light. Doing this without the F.I.B. noticing won't be easy; Lovecraft is mostly interested in the planets (and at one time edited the Scientific Gazette and Rhode Island Journal of Astronomy, a respected amateur astronomy magazine), so his attention is directed towards the plane of the ecliptic, which drops behind trees to either side of the house. To attract his attention it would be necessary to get a light into the narrow field of view of the telescope, possibly by climbing a tree and putting it there; there is then the minor problem that Lovecraft doesn't actually know Morse code. However, it would certainly be possible to put a note somewhere where Lovecraft could read it with his telescope, once his attention was attracted. Whether this will actually do much good is open to question...
Deliveries to the house include newspapers such as the Providence Post; a carefully-phrased advertisement might go unnoticed, if (for example) it was couched in terms of references to Lovecraft's Cthulhu stories or the Nicholas stories and contained some sort of code. Remember that other readers of the paper will know Lovecraft's stories and some will be able to decode such a message; if anything too incriminating is said it might be spotted by someone who passes on the information to the F.I.B.. Slipping a note into the paper won't work, since the paper boy will immediately report the contact to the F.I.B. as described above.
If someone does somehow make contact with Lovecraft, they'll learn that he is prepared to wait for trial, since he believes that any just court will find him innocent. This is unfortunately proof of Lovecraft's naivety, but convincing him of this will not be easy.
Finally, adventurers might want to try more drastic measures, such as rescuing
Lovecraft at gunpoint. The main snags here are that
Assuming that this isn't tried, several weeks will pass before Lovecraft is finally charged and bought to trial.
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SOONER or later the adventurers will probably go looking for a copy of The Man in the High Kremlin. There are three possible sources in the USA and one in Germany; the German source is available for the first two weeks and finding out about it isn't easy - the others should only produce a copy if the adventurers have investigated all of them. For example, the adventurers might draw a blank with Lovecraft's ex-wife and agent before finding a copy in Texas, or fail in Texas and Manhattan before Sonia Lovecraft produces a copy:
The trunk is currently locked in a storeroom along with hundreds of other donations, and unlikely to be disturbed since an obscure S.R. and fantasy writer like Howard is very low on the library's list of priorities. The adventurers will have to come up with a reason to see the documents, such as a research project which needs some background on the writing methods of Howard and other authors.
If the adventurers have previously investigated both of the other possibilities they will finally find Lovecraft's manuscript in the trunk, in a bulky envelope with the last page of a typed covering letter from Lovecraft. Getting it out of the library won't be easy; it runs to two hundred pages, all the second or third carbon copy of the typed document, it's on thin paper but the packet is nearly two inches thick. Nobody is actively looking for the theft of documents, but even so removing it without attracting attention ought to be tricky.
If the adventurers haven't looked elsewhere they will find the last page of the covering letter but the typescript itself is missing. Amongst the scraps of paper in the trunk is a postal receipt for a package posted from Howard to Lovecraft in July. Howard returned it to Lovecraft with some corrections and suggestions before he died, and it was confiscated by the F.I.B. However, the page of the letter that is left strongly suggests that the manuscript will not support the F.I.B. case if a copy can be found. There's also a reference to Sonia, Lovecraft's ex-wife, but if the adventurers don't know that she exists it is probably more puzzling than useful. None of Howard's relatives know who Sonia might be.
If the adventurers try to break in to steal the chest or its contents there is a good chance that they will be detected by the museum's guards. The guards aren't armed but most are strong ex-servicemen with good Brawling and other combat skills. Anyone caught will be questioned by the police then the F.I.B. and held for trial, which will be several weeks after Lovecraft's case ends. If the adventurers use any violence they should be hunted by more guards (with dogs), the local police, and the F.I.B. Getting away should be very difficult.
Lovecraft is one of McDevitt's main clients, and he has naturally seen the manuscript. If anyone asks he'll readily admit that he had a copy, but passed it on to the publisher once the contract was signed. Adventurers should get a feeling that he's uneasy about something when this is discussed, and may notice him glancing towards the filing cabinets - roll Psychology or Detective skill against Difficulty 5 to spot this - as they talk. He refuses to discuss the plot of the book; he's been visited by the F.I.B. and warned not to do so.
If he's challenged directly he'll deny that anything is going on, but covertly glances at the filing cabinet again. During office hours there are always at least eight people in the office; McDevitt and his partners, three typists, two messengers and a receptionist, so there will be no opportunity to investigate the cabinet.
It's likely that adventurers will think of coming back at night. To do so they will have to get past the downstairs receptionist (not too big a problem; many of the offices are open late into the evening for one reason or another) and through the office doors. This might pose some difficulties; the next-door office belongs to Acme Dental Supplies, a company which sells equipment, supplies and drugs to most of the dentists and dental laboratories in Manhattan. This means that they have to keep gold, mercury, and a range of drugs on the premises, a tempting target for any thief. As a result the Acme offices have a modern burglar alarm system on the doors and windows; since they share a wall with the literary agency they have paid for it to be extended to cover them. Briefly, the alarm uses concealed switches and will sound if any door or window is opened; cutting the wires also sets it off. It can be defeated by short-circuiting the wires or slipping something into the gap to hold the switch down. If the alarm is tripped bells ring in the corridor and downstairs in reception, and security guards will soon investigate. Getting past the alarm without setting it off requires the Thief skill against Difficulty 6 or Mechanic or Science against Difficulty 7. Any failure sets off the alarm. Searching the filing cabinet takes at least 20 minutes, since McDevitt has taken the precaution of hiding the manuscript in another drawer, and Lovecraft's file is empty. They will eventually find a bulky envelope in a lower drawer, addressed to Air-Ship Books, a children's publisher in Mexico City.
If the adventurers have previously investigated both of the other possibilities the envelope contains TMitHK with a letter explaining the circumstances of Lovecraft's arrest and suggesting that the publisher should produce an English-language edition and sell it in the USA by mail once Lovecraft has been convicted - "If we play our cards right there ought to be thousands in it for us, and of course Howard won't be around to complain." The letter makes it clear that McDevitt has been skimming Lovecraft's profits on Mexican sales for years.
Otherwise the envelope contains the manuscript for Cthulhu at the North Pole, a new Cthulhu novel allegedly by Lovecraft but actually ghost-written for McDevitt by one of his cronies. He plans to publish an English-language edition in Mexico and ship it into the USA by mail order once Lovecraft is out of the way, on the assumption that anything new by Lovecraft will command high prices, especially if there is a hint of illegality. The novel is very poor, inferior to any of the genuine Cthulhu stories, but as McDevitt says "If we play our cards right there ought to be thousands in it for us..."; as above the letter also reveals that McDevitt has been skimming Lovecraft's profits.
What the adventurers can do about this is debatable; they've found out about McDevitt's scam illegally, while committing a crime that the F.I.B. would consider much more serious. If McDevitt is planning to publish TMitHK they may decide that the best thing to do is to put the book back and let sleeping dogs lie; his plan ensures that the book will eventually appear and exonerate Lovecraft. Unfortunately this will later prove to be a bad idea:
As the adventurers leave, regardless of how careful they have been, they are spotted by some burly garbage-handlers en route to an evening meeting at the Allied Waste Workers Union office, down the hall from the agency. They are unarmed but will set off the alarm and chase the adventurers out of the building. When the intrusion is reported to the police the F.I.B. also respond. They already have a file on McDevitt, and will search the office and find the manuscript if it is still there. If this happens McDevitt is arrested for fraud (if the fake Cthulhu book is found) or obstruction of justice (if it is TMitHK). In either case he is also charged with tax evasion. If the adventurers have taken the book and letter McDevitt will say he has no idea what the burglars were looking for, and evade prosecution.
It's possible that the adventurers will try more violent means to get their hands on whatever is in the filing cabinet; if this happens the manuscript will be the fake Cthulhu at the North Pole, and if anyone is harmed the F.I.B. will launch a full-scale investigation to find the attackers. If McvDevitt is attacked he will go straight to the F.I.B. and become a witness against Lovecraft, claiming that he was attacked by Tsarist goons, presumably on Lovecraft's instructions. It's a way to ensure that Lovecraft won't be coming back to ask questions in a hurry.
Contacting her isn't difficult; getting her trust is. Despite the divorce she is still fond of Lovecraft; she is aware of his situation, and doesn't want to do anything to make things worse. She didn't like the idea of handing over the manuscript to the F.I.B., and guessed that they would soon ask for it, so put it somewhere safe. Currently it is in an oilskin packet buried in the pot of an orange tree on David Niven's patio. He has no idea that it is there.
If she is the first lead the adventurers have tried she will listen to their story then apologise and say that she knows nothing about the book; one of the reasons for the divorce was their diverging literary careers - Lovecraft dislikes the movies, she feels that he's wasting his talents on children and scientific romances. He usually sends her a copy when a new book is published, but he wouldn't ask her opinion. It's a bold lie, but almost impossible to disprove. She'll also mention that the F.I.B. have already asked for it. It should appear that the adventurers have drawn a blank, but see below.
If she is the second lead she will deny knowledge of the book, as above, but (if they convince her of their good intentions) promises to ask some of Lovecraft's friends and see if she can find someone who has a copy. She won't give the adventurers the names of these friends. At this stage she's still testing the adventurers; if the F.I.B. start to tap her phone or search her house she'll assume that they've talked to the authorities; if this doesn't happen she will eventually decide to give them the manuscript after they have drawn a blank with both of the other possibilities. This option can also be used if the adventurers find the manuscript at the agents office but let it fall into F.I.B. hands as described above. If she is confronted with the note in Howard's chest she will deny receiving the package, claiming it must have been lost by the post office while she was in Europe.
If she is the last contact tried she'll listen to their stories, laugh, then drive off, coming back a couple of hours later with the manuscript. She makes them promise to do everything in their power to get it published and save Lovecraft, then sends them on their way and gets back to work.
It's possible that someone will try to get the manuscript from Sonia by force. If this is tried she'll do her best to resist, then pretend to give in and direct the adventurers to the location of the packet - which she says is in the loft above the garage at Edward G. Robinson's house. She knows that Robinson has recently been burgled, and has hired some guards to protect his home. They're off-duty police officers, licensed to carry handguns. Anyone they catch will "fall down stairs" a few times en route to the cells at the local precinct house, and will be held long enough for Sonia to bring charges (if she has survived the encounter) or for the body to be found and the police to spot the connection with Robinson. The adventurers will have a lot of questions to answer, and face life imprisonment, the standard punishment for assault in this period.
Sources outside the USA may also be considered:
Braun has translated most of Lovecraft's books, but he isn't involved in S.R. fandom or known to the public, and it's a common name, so it might appear that there is no easy way to contact him directly. However, he is listed in the Munich telephone book as a translator, so it isn't entirely impossible; the German embassy in Washington has directories, and transatlantic calls to the Munich telephone operator can also find him; since the call is being made inside the Federation the cost is 5¢ a minute, exactly the same as for a local call, but it will take several hours to arrange the connection to Munich, and several minutes on the line (which is extremely poor) to find Braun's number and make the connection.
Once Braun is contacted he will readily admit that he's translating Lovecraft's book; if approached without mentioning the F.I.B.'s interest in the book he might be bribed to part with the manuscript, for the equivalent of $50-$100, since translation doesn't pay very well. If the F.I.B. is mentioned he will immediately get scared and return everything to the publishers, who will turn in the papers to the local office. Any attempt to contact Braun via the publishers will remind them of his existence, and lead to the confiscation of the book and translation.
If all goes well Braun can be persuaded to post the typescript to America, and tell the publisher that it has been lost, destroyed, or stolen from his home. He won't do so until he receives payment, which will take six days by transatlantic post and train; while it's possible to wire money to Germany, this leaves an obvious trail which can be followed back to its source. Sending American cash is also a bad idea; that sort of amount in foreign bills would be difficult to explain when Braun is questioned by the police and F.I.B.
Travel to Munich is also possible, of course, but it will take nine days to arrange a booking and travel to Germany from the USA. Someone based in Britain could do this in three days; Jonathan Shortwater (publisher of S.R. Digest) might be contacted and persuaded make the trip. Alternatively, Germany has its own S.R. fans, but nobody in American fandom knows them very well, so finding a trustworthy contact isn't easy. Again, Shortwater could make this connection if asked, he knows a few names.
Overall this is a risky way to get the typescript but might succeed if the adventurers move quickly and carefully, and work hard to cover their tracks.
Eventually, if they follow up these clues, the adventurers should either have the typescript, or will be in such deep trouble that Lovecraft's fate is the least of their worries. Try to time things so that Lovecraft's trial is well under way before they have the manuscript; if necessary alter the timetable of the trial accordingly.
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EARLY in November Lovecraft is charged, unless something drastic changes the situation, with the trial beginning in Boston on November 16th.
The Federation courts work somewhat like the old Soviet legal system in politically-related cases. Trials are either delayed indefinitely or rushed through the courts to make political points, and the defence is appointed by the State. Some cases are tried behind closed doors, others are given maximum publicity, according to political expediency.
It is possible that some players will know considerably more about the real Soviet system than the author and/or referee. Ignore them. Federation law is what you say it is, and there are very few experts outside the official system; the "reforms" of 1911 largely got rid of them. Many legal nicities have been dropped from this streamlined system; in particular the F.I.B. doesn't need search warrants, there is no equivalent of a "Miranda" warning, and no disclosure requirement - the prosecution need not inform the defence of the names of witnesses or documents that will be produced in evidence.
Any attempt at complex legal arguments can be brushed aside by quoting clause 5 of the Federation Constitution, which states that "In all countries the Civil and Criminal Codes of Law will be amalgamated and simplified by a committee of judges. No man is expected to obey a law that he cannot understand; the Supreme Council will not uphold laws which are so complicated that a legal expert is needed to explain them.". In practice this means that the laws are simple enough for the judges, who are state appointees, and largely interpreted by them, and that they can reject any argument, regardless of its true simplicity or complexity, by saying it's too complex.
The trial is to take place in the Federation Courthouse in Boston, a purpose-built high security facility intended to hold the most dangerous counter-revolutionaries. The courthouse is guarded by Federation soldiers and the F.I.B., there is no realistic way to "rescue" Lovecraft, and anyone stupid enough to try it should come to a very sticky end. Some of the court's features include completely separate corridors for the movement of prisoners, an armoured glass booth holding the prisoner with the only entrance the stairs down to the cells, armed guards at the doors, and electrically-controlled riot doors at various points in the building. If there is any disturbance the judge or any of a dozen guards can shut the building down and summon help from a nearby barracks housing several hundred soldiers.
The judge is to be The Honourable Robert Henderson, who has a reputation as a stern upholder of the law; in practice this means that he is a "hanging judge" who tends to go along with the F.I.B. unless there is clear evidence of a miscarriage of justice. His unspoken assumption is that prisoners are guilty until proven innocent. There is no chance of an adventurer being appointed to the jury; the F.I.B. vets all names and any hint of involvement in S.R. fandom or any other pro-Lovecraft organisation will be grounds for jurors to be rejected.
Unless the adventurers can come up with a credible alternative, Lovecraft will be represented by Harry Allen Jr., a court-appointed defender. He's moderately competent but has bought into the idea that the law is what the judge and Federation say it is; he will accept claims that his defence is too complicated if they're made. If possible an adventurer with appropriate skills should take his place, or participate in the defence in some capacity (such as an expert witness).
If there has been any attempt to free Lovecraft, there have been obvious attempts to steal copies of the manuscript, or any form of violent protest is taking place, the trial will be closed to the public, otherwise the courtroom will be open. If there is a peaceful protest (such as a picket by S.R. fans) the court will remain open, but obvious sympathisers will be excluded. There is room for approximately fifty spectators in the court; unfortunately at least sixty will turn up every day. Unless the adventurers have official reasons to be there (for example, they are lawyers, reporters, or F.I.B. agents) roll 1D6; on a 6 they are unable to get into the court that day.
The remainder of this section outlines the events of the trial as it will take place if the the adventurers do not intervene, and shows how the prosecution will treat various types of witness. With adventurers participating the details may change, but the treatment of witnesses and the final result should be much the same, unless there is startling new evidence - referees should use their own judgement on how such evidence might be treated, remembering that the prosecution and/or judge may object to its inclusion. If adventurers are not closely involved in the trial it is probably preferable to give them a VERY brief summary, rather than spending a lot of time describing its events.
|Monday 2nd November||Lovecraft formally charged with publication of Tsarist propaganda.|
|Monday 16th November||Trial begins in Boston; the court sits on weekdays only.|
|Thursday 19th November||Prosecution completed.|
|Tuesday 24th November||Defence completed.|
|Summing up by prosecution and defence.|
|Thursday 26th November||Summing up by judge. Jury consider their verdict.|
|Friday 27th November||Lovecraft found guilty, with a recommendation for mercy. Defence asks for his medical condition to be considered. Judge adjourns for medical reports.|
|Medical report read to the court describe his poikilothermism and reveal that he is suffering from cancer. Lovecraft is sentenced to five years imprisonment; in view of his condition the sentence is commuted to time in a Federation penitentiary in Florida, where full medical facilities are available, rather than exile to Alaska.|
The prosecutor is Frederick Helford III, who is also Boston's District Attorney. He has every intention of proving Lovecraft guilty, although he doubts that the "propaganda" really matters; he just likes to win, and knows that a few successful Federation cases will virtually guarantee his future political career. He intends to call six witnesses and introduce the two earlier Nicholas books as evidence. He plans to exclude TMitHK from the evidence, and object to its inclusion by the defence, on the grounds that it was written to counter accusations of Tsarist support in the earlier books. The witnesses he'll call are as follows:
Cross-examination won't shake this story, since it is entirely true; however,
when asked when this happened he will think for a while then say
that it was in October 1933, three years ago. Why wasn't action taken sooner?
He has no idea. Where did he make the report? At the F.I.B. headquarters in
Washington. At this point the judge will intervene and ask where these questions
are leading. If Harry Allen Jr. is cross-examining he will have no further questions,
but some others might be asked
Has Clarke has ever reported any other books? he has, a list of a dozen or so titles, none of which have ever been prosecuted. They include such apparently blameless items as a travel guide to St. Petersburg which describes some Tsarist palaces without expressing disapproval of their rule, and D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover, on the grounds that it shows approval of inherited titles and servants.
The name of the officer to whom the report was made: Superintendent Hoover
If the first question is asked, perhaps at an adventurers' prompting, it should be obvious that he is at least a little unbalanced on the issue of inherited titles, and that his judgement of Tsarist propaganda may thus be unsound. The answer to the second question should mean little or nothing to the adventurers.
Again, Allen's cross-examination won't do much more than establish that
Mrs. White is a narrow-minded busybody. Some additional questions might again
Why did Mrs. White read the books? They were left at the DotSAR offices in July, with a note suggesting that they were pro-Tsarist propaganda of the worst sort. She agreed, and reported them to the authorities.
Who left the books? They were left anonymously.
Who did she complain to? The Washington offices of the F.I.B., of course, a man named Ripley. Throughout her testimony it should be obvious that she feels that she has done her civic and patriotic duty to America and the Federation, and is astonished that anyone should question her motives for doing so.
After reading the novels and articles he decided that Lovecraft was spreading Tsarist propaganda in "..an extremely subtle and pernicious form.."; readers of his works would feel sympathy for a Tsar who never was, and since they were reading a work of fiction there would be no evidence to contradict the viewpoint presented by Lovecraft. He also "..learned that Lovecraft was engaged on a third book in the series, which would reinforce the effect of the earlier volumes..", so decided to move to question Lovecraft and prevent publication of his book. Lovecraft repeatedly betrayed pro-monarchist and pro-Tsarist sympathies in questioning - he gives half a dozen examples which, out of context, seem questionable - so he eventually arrested him. Any incidents that have occurred as a result of the adventurers' interest (such as attempts to contact or "rescue" Lovecraft) will be cited as proof of Lovecraft's pernicious influence.
Allen's cross-examination concentrates on the differences between propaganda
and fiction. Ripley is adamant that fiction can serve both functions, and that
in his view Lovecraft wrote the books accordingly. Some additional questions
that might be asked:
Has Ripley read the third novel, and what did he think of it? Helford immediately objects, claiming that since the novel has not been published it is not relevant to the case; amazingly, to those unfamiliar with the Federation courts, the judge agrees and rules that the contents of the third book may not be introduced as evidence.
Why wasn't Lovecraft investigated in 1933? Because the report was made in Washington but referred to activities in the Boston area it was referred to Boston for action. Somehow it was misfiled as requiring no action. This is believed to have been a clerical error; an internal enquiry is under way, to ensure that the error wasn't the result of Tsarist sabotage, but he can't discuss the details in court. In fact this is untrue; at the time the report was briefly investigated, then filed because it was a nuisance complaint with no substance. The agent who handled the complaint has since retired, and won't be mentioned or called as a witness. Unfortunately this has long been forgotten by any Boston F.I.B. officers who are in court, but Special Agent George Banks (above) of Providence was involved in the earlier enquiry and knows that it was investigated, not misfiled. He will give evidence of this if someone brings Ripley's testimony to his attention; he is involved in another case by the time Lovecraft's trial begins and doesn't have time to read law reports. If this occurs Ripley will say that the clerical error must have lost the report of the earlier investigation, which was obviously inadaquate. It weakens his case a little, but not enough to secure Lovecraft's acquittal.
Why was Ripley sent to investigate in person, rather than handing the case over to the F.I.B. in Boston? To ensure that there was no repetition of the 1933 mishap.
Overall Ripley tries to present himself as a dedicated officer of the law who was surprised to find that there was some substance in the charges against Lovecraft. It's an effective pose if nobody knows better.
Cross-examination shows that King has not distinguished between conversation
and description in the novels; when Allen asks if the words are, in general, the
flattery of courtiers and other associates of Nicholas, King reluctantly agrees.
Some other questions that could be asked:
Has King analysed the third novel? No, he wasn't asked to do so, and hasn't seen a copy.
Does he know why he wasn't asked to analyse the third book? No.
Overall King's evidence does Lovecraft little harm, once Allen has established that his analysis contains this major error.
Cross examination will reveal that Agent Anatoly has seen this only two or three times. Most Tsarists don't own copies of Lovecraft's books. If he is asked if he has seen any negative response from the Tsarists, he will think for a moment then say that he once saw one denounce the book for portraying Nicholas as a "liberal".
"Anatoly" has nothing else to add, and any attempt to find out more about him will be blocked. The fact that some Tsarists regard the books in this light is damaging to Lovecraft.
Under Allen's cross-examination he'll admit that he doesn't think that the novels actually break the law, as he understands it, but Russia still has problems with Tsarists and he would prefer to avoid trouble with the authorities. Further questions show that his concern is genuine, but he is more worried about the authorities than the Tsarists. He has read the first two books in their German translation and doesn't think that they present the old Russian monarchy in a favourable light; while Nicholas is shown as benevolent, if somewhat misled, his father is shown as a vindictive tyrant and it is apparent that his influence is nullified by the plotting of his government and court.
Overall his evidence appears to do the defence little harm if he is cross-examined properly.
Unless the adventurers have somehow found more evidence which will be admissible in court the defence case must rest on definitions of Tsarist propaganda, Lovecraft's intent in writing the books, and character witnesses:
In his cross-examination Helford asks Chester if he feels that Aerians are typical citizens of the Federation. Chester admits that they are not. Helford goes on to persuade Chester to admit that it is possible that most Aerians are so far removed from everyday life that subtly worded Tsarist propaganda "such as these insidious novels" might simply be perceived as an interesting novel, without "their subtle pro-Romanoff message" being noticed. It's a damaging admission for Lovecraft. He also asks if Chester has received any letters attacking the Nicholas books for their stance on these issues; he reluctantly admits that there have been a few, mostly from DotSAR members who were apparently prompted by "some woman named White" who "evidently has too much time on her hands, and nothing better to do than make trouble". Mrs. White is in the court and is not amused. When he's asked why he didn't mention these letters earlier, he has no good answer.
Doyle's explanation of the meaning of this law, as it has hitherto been enforced, is long and complex, but seems to suggest that it is applicable to articles, posters, advertisements and other forms of "factual" material, but not to fiction. After fifteen minutes the judge interrupts, stating that the explanation "...is way too complicated. The guiding principle of Federation law is that the Supreme Council will not uphold laws which are so complicated that a legal expert is needed to explain them. I must regard any attempt to add complexity to the jury's understanding of these laws as a violation of this principle. The jury must go by what the law says, not what a Harvard professor says it says." He adds that he isn't prepared to admit Doyle's evidence. The jury must disregard it completely, and no questions will be allowed.
3.1 Any publication presenting the restoration of the Romanoff Dynasty as desirable, or otherwise advocating the cause of the Tsars, is hereby banned.
This is a major blow to Lovecraft's defence, since Allen has no other expert available who might be able to to present the legal issues more effectively. If any of the adventurers can do so, their evidence should be treated in the same way.
In cross-examination Helford tries to make Piper admit that while the books can be read in this way by "a knowledgeable critic such as yourself" a more naive reader, or one disposed to favour the Russian monarchy, could take their depiction of the Romanoffs at face value. Eventually Piper reluctantly agrees, adding that he doubts that such a reader would find the books interesting. Overall his evidence favours Lovecraft, but seems to bore the jury.
Cross-examination won't shake these opinions, but Helford reminds the jury that they are just that; subjective opinions.
Helford briefly cross-examines Gibbs, establishing that Lovecraft did no other work for the charity, then produces his own copy of the book and turns to a page which he reads to the court; a passage praising the institution of monarchy. Although it is obviously praise for the King of England, it is phrased clumsily and could equally well apply to the Romanoff dynasty. He invites the jury to draw their own conclusions.
Helford's cross-examination concentrates on Lovecraft's pro-monarchist stance, which he does not deny. Lovecraft genuinely believes that the first American revolution was one of history's greatest mistakes; America should have remained a British colony, and eventually a member of the British commonwealth of nations. The downfall of the Presidency in 1904 shows the faults of the democracy that replaced British rule, and the Federation's rule, analogous in many ways to participation in Britain's old empire, shows the strength of a centralised rulership based on the natural affinities of the English-speaking peoples. He makes a strong case, but Helford suggests that his admiration of the principle of monarchy may have seduced him to the Tsarist cause. Helford quotes a dozen passages from the first two volumes which can be read as uncritical admiration of the Romanoffs; in most cases Lovecraft can point to later passages which show that what he is describing is in some way corrupt or likely to lead to tyranny. Any attempt to bring in the contents of the third book are rejected by Helford, with the judges's support. Eventually Helford quotes Lovecraft's own words, in his articles on Nicholas (mentioned in Ripley's evidence), which seem to imply some regard for the Romanoff dynasty and Nicholas Romanoff. Can Lovecraft really claim that he has no admiration whatever for the Tsars and the Romanoff dynasty. Lovecraft tries to answer, but hesitates for a fatal moment, and Helford cuts him off with a quiet "No further questions."
In his concluding speech Helford argues that Lovecraft's admiration for the institution of monarchy has led him to admire the Romanoff dynasty, and commit the criminal offence of publishing pro-Tsarist propaganda under the guise of fiction. He calls for the usual penalty for a first offence, five years in a prison camp such as Kodiak island, where the remnants of the former American government are still imprisoned. He also calls for the books to be banned.
Allen analyses the plots of both of the earlier novels and tries to show that they are written to attack the institution of the Russian monarchy, directly and by satirical exaggeration of the "virtues" of the imaginary Tsar Nicholas. He is hampered by his inability to quote from the third book, but does his best to find earlier examples which support his case.
Finally, the Judge directs the jury that they must return a guilty verdict if they feel that there is any evidence of pro-Tsarist propaganda in either novel, even if they feel that it may have been unintentional. The effect of propaganda isn't necessarily related to the intention of its creator.
The next day the jury returns a guilty verdict, with a recommendation for mercy. Allen asks for Lovecraft's medical condition to be taken into account before sentencing, and the court is adjourned for medical reports. A few days later the court is told that Lovecraft's poikilothermism means that he will die if exiled to a cold climate. He is also suffering from a digestive complaint which may be bowel cancer; if so he will require medical treatment that would be unavailable in any of the usual penal colonies.
After some deliberation the judge sentences Lovecraft to five years in the Federation penitentiary outside Miami, Florida. The climate should suit his condition, and there is an excellent hospital nearby. Allen thanks the judge for his consideration, and the warders lead Lovecraft away for transportation to Miami and his sentence.
Significantly, the judge says nothing about the legal status of the Nicholas novels. Theoretically the books could still be sold; in practice the publishers will withdraw them to avoid further prosecution. This may give adventurers an interesting opportunity, especially if they have found one of the manuscripts for TMitHK and aren't too worried about copyright.
Officially there is no appeal from the sentence of Federation courts. In practice the President of the Federation can reverse decisions or pardon prisoners, but it is very rare. Appeals need to go through official channels; while in theory anyone can appeal to the President, in practice layers of bureaucracy insulate him from casual contact with outsiders. Petitions will be accepted and (allegedly) passed on to him, but there will be no obvious results, and no appointments will be available until long after the trial.
Inside the S.R. community there is little contact with Aeria, but the scizine Tunguska! has several Aerian readers and someone may think of sending letters to them. There is no reply, but the letters will eventually come to the President's attention.
However the President is contacted there will be no immediate result, but a few weeks later, on his next visit to the USA, the President will ask Elliot Ness to look into the matter. The eventual result will be the posting of James E. Hoover and Special Agent Ripley to Alaska. This won't actually do Lovecraft any good, since neither Ness nor the President is willing to over-rule a Federation court without more evidence, but there will never be another prosecution of this type. There will be a similar result if the adventurers contact Ness directly. More active measures are needed to get Lovecraft out of jail.
Appeals to US authorities such as the President, senators etc. are fruitless; the Federation courts have the final word.
A Day In The Life...
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ONCE Lovecraft is convicted he is transported to Florida by train (the journey takes 48 hours) and incarcerated in the Federation Penitentiary on the outskirts of Miami. The penitentiary was originally a luxurious estate owned by a member of the Ring of industrialists who were responsible for the plot to betray Britain to Russia in the 1904 war. It was subsequently converted into a prison for certain classes of prisoners; basically, those whom the Federation will eventually wish to rehabilitate such as valued scientists and artists, spies from outside the Federation who have been caught and wish to co-operate with the authorities, and other VIPs. The regime is relaxed; prisoners are confined to their rooms at night, and are required to attend three political rehabilitation classes a week, but are otherwise free to roam the extensive grounds, work in art studios, use the library, etc. There is an excellent symphony orchestra, a small theatre company, a cinema, a gymnasium and a baseball team which regularly plays against an F.I.B. team or the guards. Breaches of the rules lead to confinement in a real cell block, tastefully screened by trees from the rest of the site, which has a complement of moderately sadistic guards who generally feel underworked and appreciate opportunities to flex their muscles. This building also holds the prison hospital; it doesn't have all the facilities needed to treat Lovecraft's cancer, and is mainly intended for emergency treatment of wounds and routine treatment of minor illnesses.
Think of the prison as a cross between a university campus and The Village (see The Prisoner etc.). It has barbed wire fences (incorporating alarm wires) and other security features, and an adequate complement of armed guards, but life is reasonably pleasant for anyone who is prepared to co-operate. Lovecraft isn't convinced that he has done anything wrong, but is ready to go along with the joke.
Once in Florida, Lovecraft is accessible to visitors if anyone wants to make the trip. He is allowed one one-hour visit a week, but has no living family apart from various relatives, who are too elderly to travel, and his ex-wife, who is too busy to see him often. While he will be allowed to write during his captivity, he will not be permitted to give manuscripts (or anything else) to visitors. Although nothing is said, it's easy to guess that all conversations with visitors are monitored. Lovecraft is accommodated in one of the accommodation blocks shown on the plan (choose one randomly), but spends a few days a month in Miami's best hospital, guarded by a couple of bored F.I.B. agents. During these visits he is treated with a cocktail of drugs and radiation, and too ill to stir from his bed.
If the adventurers do nothing:
If the adventurers intervene this timetable may be accelerated (for example, by much earlier samizdat publication of the books), or Lovecraft's situation may be made worse by wrong-headed rescue attempts, badly conceived protests, and other problems. Violence and other illegality will not help him.
Use the information and characters above and below to determine his fate and develop the remainder of the story; try to ensure that there are triumphs and failures, heroism and betrayal during the long process of restoring Lovecraft's freedom.
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Special Agent Thomas Ripley (age 36)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Brawling , Detective , Driving , Linguist (Russian, French, German) , Marksman , Stealth , Thief 
Quote: "Come quietly or there'll be trouble"
Equipment: Large handgun (magazine pistol), handcuffs, notebook, badge, the resources of a large international crime-fighting and intelligence organisation.
Notes: Ripley is a man of a type most law enforcement agencies seem to produce occasionally; he is amoral, cynical, and mainly motivated by self-interest and greed. If the mobs still existed he would be on the take, as it is he has hitched his star to the most promising looking candidate for high office, hoping that Hoover will remember him when he achieves his next promotion.
H.P. Lovecraft (age 46)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Artist (author) , Linguist (Old English, German, French, Russian, Greek, Latin) , Science (chemistry, astronomy) , Scholar (numerous obscure topics) 
Quote: "The Second American Revolution partially corrected our greatest mistake - we should never have rebelled from Britain"
Equipment: Typewriter etc.
Notes: Lovecraft is a polymath, informed on dozens of arcane topics. He is also an eccentric recluse, rarely venturing out of his house, and an author beloved by hundreds of thousands of children. He suffers from the rare medical condition of poikilothermism, an inability to regulate his own body temperature correctly, and thrives in a warm climate. He seems to be a magnet for cats, which he loves. He has many odd beliefs including an assumption of Anglo-Saxon supremacy (shared by most Federation citizens), spelling reform (he wants to resume 18th century usages), and admiration of the British monarchy (he thinks that the first American Revolution was a bad mistake).
Harry Cash (fan and gun nut) (age 22)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Brawling , Marksman , Melee weapons , Military Arms , Scholar (Military history, war gaming) 
Quote: "Politeness is for losers."
Equipment: 12-gauge shotgun (legal), crate of magazine-loading rifles and ammunition (extremely illegal).
Notes: Cash is a hot-head who thinks that violence is the answer to every problem. Use him to create a few problems as needed. He is often accompanied by one or two friends, with the same stats (except BODY ) and skills.
David Baxter (fan, escapologist and magician) (age 20)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Actor (magician and escapologist) , Artist (author and editor) , Athlete (climbing, gymnastics) , Psychology , Stealth , Thief .
Quote: "Before your very eyes..."
Equipment: Pack of cards, handcuffs, lock picks, a few small conjuring tricks, five juggling balls, pocket knife with numerous tools.
Notes: Baxter battled chronic teenage shyness by becoming an amateur magician and performer. Somewhere along the way he learned to pick locks and thwart simple alarm systems, which he will put to use in a good cause. He is double-jointed.
Robert McDevitt (literary agent) (aged 38)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Business , Thief 
Quote: "Look, what's the worst that could happen?"
Equipment: Copy of TMitHK OR a forged Cthulhu novel.
Notes: McDevitt is a respected literary agent but is extremely greedy and will leap at any chance to make extra money from Lovecraft's imprisonment.
John E. Hoover (F.I.B. Deputy Regional Superintendent) (age 41)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Brawling , Business (especially politics) , Detective , Marksman , Stealth 
Quote: "What's in it for the Bureau?"
Equipment: Large handgun (magazine pistol), handcuffs, notebook, badge, the resources of a large international crime-fighting and intelligence organisation.
Notes: Hoover sees the Bureau as a stepping-stone to power. He hopes to eventually become Director of the entire Bureau, accept Aerian citizenship, and become Federation President. He has no scruples, and his path to power is paved with victims of backstabbing and double-dealing. It is unlikely that the adventurers will meet him. OPTIONALLY Hoover has a dark secret, such as homosexuality or a mistress, which will be fatal to his career and embarrassing to the Bureau if it ever gets out.
The Honourable Robert Henderson (judge) (age 55)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Actor (rhetoric, oratory) , Business , Marksman , Psychology , Ride (Polo) , Scholar (American law, Federation law, penal system) 
Quote: "Have you anything to say before I pass sentence..."
Equipment: 4-shot .38 derringer (legally owned), gavel, various law books
Notes: Henderson is a hanging judge within the letter of the law. He won't actively break it, but tends to favour the prosecution in every trial.
Frederick Helford III (prosecutor) (age 40)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Actor (rhetoric, oratory) , Business , Psychology , Scholar (American law, Federation law, penal system) 
Quote: "...Really? And you expect the court to believe this?"
Equipment: Various law books.
Notes: Halford sees the law as a game and plays hard to win, but won't knowingly present a false case.
Harry Allen Jr. (defence attorney) (age 35)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Actor (rhetoric, oratory) , Business , Psychology , Scholar (American law, Federation law, penal system) 
Quote: "Please explain in your own words, sir."
Equipment: Various law books.
Notes: Allen is an up-and-coming lawyer who handles much of the defence work in Boston. He tries to do his best for his clients, but is handicapped by lack of experience and an unwitting assumption that the courts are usually in the right.
|Ada Balfour||4||3||6||Artist||Artist (painter) , Medium ||yes|
|Frazier Barton||5||3||2||Chemist||Mechanic , Scientist ||yes|
|Peter Blake||5||3||2||Football pro||Athlete (football) , Martial Arts (Boxing) ||yes|
|Rene Corday||4||6||4||Astrophysicist||Babbage Engine , Scientist ||no|
|Arthur Elton *||6||3||1||Soldier||Melee Weapon , Military Arms , Marksman ||yes|
|Philip Johns||2||4||4||Journalist||Artist (Writer) , Detective ||no|
|Kenneth Kent||5||3||2||Craftsman||Mechanic ||no|
|3||4||5||Designer||Artist (Interior design) ||yes|
|Ernest Neil **||1||3||2||Veteran||Military Arms , Chemist (explosives) ||no|
|George Norton||2||3||4||Cartoonist||Artist ||yes|
|Kate O'Flynn||3||5||1||Teacher||Linguist (any 4 languages) ||no|
|Bruno Pike||2||3||3||Clerk||Business , Marksman ||yes|
|Burt Roland||1||3||4||Accountant||Business , First Aid ||yes|
|Karl Silver||2||5||1||Railway driver||Drive , Morse Code ||no|
|Alan Tate||2||5||6||Engineer||Mechanic , Scientist (engineer) ||yes|
|Has sworn an oath to serve the Federation, will not act against it.
Partially paralysed veteran of Revolution; cannot use any skill but can advise others.
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THERE is one obvious variation on this plot; Lovecraft really has sold out to the Tsarist hordes, and the third novel is a paean of praise for the Romanoff dynasty, who ultimately triumph against their enemies in and around Russia. Needless to say this won't be apparent until the adventurers see the manuscript, but Tsarist sympathisers are also trying to find a copy and their underground presses will soon flood America with amateur-looking copies of the book, leaving S.R. fandom to take the blame... unless the adventurers can point the finger where it really belongs.
A more radical alternative is to have the adventurers play F.I.B. agents assigned by Elliot Ness to investigate the conduct of the Lovecraft case. He has suspicions of Hoover, but won't tell the adventurers why he is concerned in case it affects their objectivity. This can be combined with the "Lovecraft as Tsarist sympathiser" plot; Hoover can be in the right for once, but it's funnier if Hoover believes that he is up to one of his dirty tricks. The down-side is that this may eventually end with Hoover promoted...
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AN entirely different plot involving Lovecraft appears in the adventure outlines. It can't easily be combined with any of these plots, except possibly as a sequel to the "Tsarist Lovecraft" variant, set a year or two after Lovecraft is released or escapes.
If the unmodified plot is used Lovecraft can turn up as a useful NPC in almost any adventure; with his cancer cured he can live much longer than in our world, and with the money earned from the Nicholas trilogy he can finally afford to take the time off work to do some global travelling (travel is free, but money is still needed for hotels and other expenses).
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Experience is calculated very easily; using the timetable above, award one bonus point for each month subtracted from Lovecraft's imprisonment, to a maximum of 5 points per adventurer, and another 2 points per adventurer if Hoover and Ripley end up in Alaska. Additional points should be awarded for all the usual reasons; effective portrayal of fans, making the referee laugh, weird and wonderful ideas, and anything else that seems appropriate.
If things go disastrously wrong and Lovecraft serves his full term in prison, or his cancer goes untreated (resulting in his death before he is released), award no bonus points.
Appendix: Samizdat Publication
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SAMIZDAT publications are most common in regimes where printing pressess are under tight government control, and even possessing the equipment without a licence may be a criminal offence. Fortunately it is rare for all methods to be rigidly controlled. Several alternatives to conventional printing are so widespread that limiting them would be virtually impossible, and might plausibly be used by S.R. fans. Those available in the 1930s:
Ink Duplicators are common in offices and schools. They use a waxed paper stencil which can be "cut" by typing or a stylus. The printing method involves fixing the stencil to a porous belt or drum; the belt is inked from behind and ink seeps through the "cut" parts of the stencil (where the wax is missing). The advantages are relatively high speed (up to 40-50 copies a minute), high output per stencil (several hundred copies are possible), and ease of use (the services of a typesetter aren't needed). Unfortunately the equipment is expensive and tends to need frequent adjustment and the process is very messy.
Spirit Duplicators are also common in commerce and education. A master copy is made by typing or writing on a piece of glossy paper which is fixed to a sheet of "spirit copy carbon paper", containing an aniline dye, so that a mirror image of the text is left on the back of the master. This is then fixed to a rotary drum. The master copy is sprayed with industrial alcohol then pressed against another sheet of paper, transferring some of the dye. The advantages are cheapness, moderate speed (20-30 copies a minute), up to a hundred or so copies per stencil, and the possibility of using colours (when coloured carbons are available; the most common type is purple). The disadvantage is that the print tends to be pale, becoming unreadable as the master copy loses its ink.
Both of the above methods are widespread enough to be very difficult to control. However, they do require expensive equipment and supplies which are difficult to conceal.
Typing with carbons may suffice if only three or four copies are needed. The typist alternates several layers of thin typing paper and "onionskin" carbon paper, types hard, and hopes that the bottom copy will be legible. While this may sound impractical for mass production runs, Russian dissidents routinely produced entire typed books; the reader was expected to type copies and pass them on.
Finally, jelly duplication is a dye transfer process which in some ways resembles spirit copying. It is slow and very labour-intensive, but fifty or more copies can eventually be produced from each master. Almost all of the supplies needed can be found in most homes:
Steve and Jenny Glover provided detailed instructions for jelly duplicators, based on methods used in South Africa before the fall of Apartheid. They have been edited to remove references to materials and equipment that would not be available in the world of the Revolution. Additional comments from Bridget Wilkinson were also very helpful.