by Marcus L. Rowland
Copyright © 2004
THIS announcement and numerous articles referring to it might catch adventurers' eyes in 1895-1900. The remainder of the text below gives more details of the competition and its organisers, methods of reaching the Moon, etc. It does not contain detailed spaceship construction rules, but includes suggestions on methods and possible problems. FF II contains design rules for anti-gravity spaceships which can be used to describe hulls for other types of ship; some alternative forms of propulsion are described below. FF II also details a version of the solar system which might be useful in this setting, and describes equipment such as space suits.
With the twentieth century fast approaching all aspects of engineering seem to be developing at a rapidly-accelerating pace. At sea steam replaced sail, and the steam turbine is rapidly replacing the conventional steam engine. On land, horse-power is almost universally replaced by trains and automobiles. In the air dirigibles and heavier-than-air craft seem set to break all speed records. Communications are rapidly becoming instantaneous, with the telegraph and now the wireless replacing the heliograph and other primitive methods. It seems only logical that the next development must be a similar increase in altitude, and increased speed which will ultimately permit a voyage to the Moon, and exploitation of its minerals and other resources.
The Financial Times feels strongly that the Moon should be a British possession, or at the very least exploited primarily by Britain and the other Anglo-Saxon nations, and has set up the Lunar Prize Fund accordingly. Contributions to this fund will be matched by contributions from the Proprietors, donors will be given priority in the purchase of stocks and shares related to the new industries that are sure to be developed as a result of such an historic journey...
The remainder of the editorial and the entry form don't add much more information. The editorial speculates on resources that might be found on the Moon, from minerals to medicinal plants and new domestic animals. It outlines proposals for hermetically-sealed Lunar mines along the lines of the drawing to the right (part of a series by Fred T. Jane published in the Pall Mall Gazette in 1894-5; larger versions are on the FF CD-ROM) and speculates that there might be air in the deeper valleys of the Moon (see FF II).
The entry form requests a 500 to 1000 word summary of the proposal, including methods, anticipated problems and budget, and the proposer's name, address, etc., and seems to be relatively innocuous, except that it requires a 100-guinea entry fee and states that all entries become the property of the Financial Times; the authors are paying to have their proposals examined, and they can be published or edited as the competition organisers like, without payment to the authors.
The wording of the section on "Contributing to the Prize Fund" seems to say that the all money donated to the fund will be matched by the publishers. The small print adds the key phrase "to a maximum determined by the organisers"; in other words, they aren't promising to do so indefinitely. 5% of money donated will go towards "administrative costs", another 10% towards shares in the "Lunar Exploitation Corporation Ltd." whose charter states that it will develop the resources of the Moon following a successful expedition. It promises a minimum 25% per annum return on these investments; since as yet there is no evidence that there is anything worthwhile on the Moon this may seem a little odd.
These snags should be enough to deter cautious investors and donors, but there seems to be little to lose (apart from the initial 100 guineas) by entering the competition, and possibly up to five million guineas (£5,250,000) to gain. Within a few days the Financial Times will announce that the prize fund already exceeds a hundred thousand guineas, and that the rate of donations is increasing. It looks like there will really be a prize worth winning.
In 1895 various schemes for space travel are already under consideration: As soon as the competition is announced scientists, engineers, and Articles describing several schemes will appear in the next few weeks in the Financial Times. For example: As time passes more and more schemes will be announced, covering every possible combination of science, business acumen, and stupidity. Eventually, perhaps, one of them will reach completion, and the first men will visit the Moon.
While the lay-man imagines a flight to the moon by any of these methods as a simple matter of pointing the projectile in the right direction and firing, the reality is very different. The Earth and Moon are moving, and projectiles are accelerated and decelerated by gravity, their courses curved by gravity and the movement of the Moon. Most fiction on this subject, from Verne to the latest scientific romances, ignores or trivialises these complexities. Anyone actually planning a flight doesn't have that luxury. Computing such a flight, to ensure that the craft arrives at the surface of the Moon at a speed which will survive the landing, requires hundreds of hours of work and probably the help of a really good calculating engine. There are similar problems on the return journey, the craft must be travelling slowly enough to prevent the parachutes ripping away, and it would probably be nice to come down on land, and in a friendly country, rather than landing in the sea and sinking, or crashing somewhere where the passengers will be killed as demons. This suggests one way for adventurers to become involved in one of these projects, as mathematicians or scientists computing the course for a Lunar project. Of course they aren't mad enough to want to go there... or are they?
crackpots enthusiasts all over the world will start to devote time and attention to most of these ideas. Why should the adventurers be any different? One possibility is that they will try to come up with their own methods, another is that they will look for a likely winner and try to invest in it, or participate in the project so that they can earn a share of the prize and any subsequent profits. There are other possibilities, of course; they could invest in the Lunar Exploitation Corporation Ltd., try to set up to manufacture something that Lunar explorers will need, such as vacuum suits, or work out a way to defraud the competition organisers and steal the money.
In 1895 various schemes for space travel are already under consideration:
As soon as the competition is announced scientists, engineers, and Articles describing several schemes will appear in the next few weeks in the Financial Times. For example: As time passes more and more schemes will be announced, covering every possible combination of science, business acumen, and stupidity. Eventually, perhaps, one of them will reach completion, and the first men will visit the Moon.
Articles describing several schemes will appear in the next few weeks in the Financial Times. For example:
As time passes more and more schemes will be announced, covering every possible combination of science, business acumen, and stupidity. Eventually, perhaps, one of them will reach completion, and the first men will visit the Moon.
It's up to the referee to decide which methods, if any, will work. What follows are some VERY brief rules for designing spacecraft with these propulsion systems, modifying the design rules in FF II. Complex calculations have for the most part been avoided, so don't expect much scientific accuracy!
The FF II rules describe relatively large spacecraft whiche use the "R" or "Repulsive gravity" force for propulsion. Unless that is the means of propulsion you're using, make the following changes to reflect the propulsion method chosen.
Begin by specifying accommodation for all passengers and crew, airlocks, cargo, etc. using the FF II rules, but add 0.25 tons per occupant for the protective fluid; the passenger must be completely immersed before the gun is fired, or suffer multiple internal injuries. Empty holds filled with water can be used for this purpose. Since the projectile leaves Earth at 7 miles per second it should theoretically take only ten hours to reach the Moon - in practice it is slowed by the Earth's gravity and the initial speed of the return journey is considerably slower, so it is probably best to assume that the round trip will take at least a week when calculating supplies, ignoring time spent on the Moon.
Landing gear is needed if the craft is to be able to take off again. Minimal tripod landing legs good for a ship with a final weight up to 25-30 tons weigh 1.5 tons, occupy 6.0 cubic yards, and cost £150. For craft above this weight scale up the legs appropriately.
Since there are no complicated engines there need be no control room; switches controlling the rockets etc. might be fixed to the wall of the passenger compartment next to one of the portholes, along with binoculars, a slide rule, an optical range-finder, etc. An air-lock is needed if the passengers are to get out and explore while others remain aboard; if not, there must be a vacuum suit (space suit) for everyone aboard. This is probably a good idea anyway, and the weight is negligible.
After all components and supplies have been added double the total weight (including the weight allocated for cargo, even if the holds begin empty); the extra 50% of the total weight consists of rockets needed for braking and the return journey, at £50 and 2 cubic yards per ton, and parachutes for landing it all on Earth. All must be covered in a streamlined hull, adding more weight. The BODY of the hull is calculated normally; assume a minimum of 50 regardless of the size of the hull, prior to modifications for streamlining etc., since anything less will be destroyed by launching.
Designed for the White Star Line as a publicity exercise but never actually built (it was felt that the flight would be too expensive, and that a journey under the conditions aboard could do nothing to enhance the line's reputation for luxury), the Selene is a typical projectile-style ship which might be launched by cannon, catapult, etc. It is equipped for minor course changes after launch, for one landing and take-off from the Moon (using solid-fuel rockets), and for a parachute landing on Earth. It has the components shown on the right. There is no galley; food is eaten cold to save power and weight. Although there is an air lock, all passengers have vacuum suit; this helps them to stay completely submerged during the initial launch without drowning. Before launch the passengers enter the hold and lie in the water it contains; after launching the water is pumped to a separate tank, assisted by the passengers who must help to push the floating droplets into the drainage pipe. Once the water is clear they can climb out and enjoy the (spartan) comfort of the main cabin, which has padded walls and hammocks for each passenger.
Life support pumps and lighting are powered by batteries, supplemented by a bicycle-style generator which must be pedalled for at least three hours a day; this is the main exercise available to the passengers prior to landing, and all are encouraged to take turns to avoid atrophy of their limbs. This equipment's cost and weight is included in the figures for the supplies and accommodation.
Landing on the Moon is Difficulty 6, a failure may result in damage such as loss of air, premature detonation of the rocket engine and an unexpected return to Earth, or complete destruction. However, the hull is so strong (BODY 65) that this is very unlikely.
Assuming a vertical shaft lined with concrete and steel sufficient to allow it to be re-used, a space gun will cost £25,000 plus £5,000 per ton to be launched; for example, the Selene will need a gun costing £147,500. If the gun is to use multiple explosions, to launch the spacecraft less violently, add another 50%. Finally, add another 10% for the explosives needed for each launch, and another 5% for repairs after each launch if the gun is to be used more than once. For the Selene the price rises to £221,250 for the gun, plus £33,188 per flight for explosives and maintainance.
If the gun is to use a single explosive charge the passengers will be "attacked" by the force of the takeoff with "skill" 6:
Explosive launch: Effect 5, A: B+F, B: KO+F+I, C: C/K
Raise "skill" to 7 and Effect to 9 if they are not immersed in liquid.
If the gun uses staggered explosive charges for more gentle acceleration and the passengers are immersed the Skill is reduced to 3, Effect to 2, but the results are unchanged. It's entirely possible to die during a successful takeoff, even using a multiple-charge cannon.
The illustration shows a simplified view of a mine-shaft "cannon" using multiple charges; the main charge, consisting of many tons of cordite, is packed below the "shell", which sits on top of a dense mat of asbestos fibre several feet thick. The steel-lined side tubes, which radiate in all directions, are packed with explosives and topped with gun-cotton. As the main charge ignites the vessel is blown up the shaft; as it passes each of the side shafts the gun-cotton instantanesously ignites and detonates the rest of the explosives in the side tube. Some pressure is lost down the side tubes, but much more is released by the new explosion, with the effect that the pressure within the "cannon" continues to rise until the projectile leaves the shaft at 7 MPS.
Regardless of the mechanism used, a launch catapult costs about £50,000 plus £3,000 per ton to be launched; for example, Selene will need a catapult system costing £125,000. The good news is that the cost of fuel and other expendables is only 1% of the cost of the catapult, in the example above £1,250 per launch. Use these figures as a proportion of the cost in hybrid designs such as the train / steam catapult / rocket launcher mentioned above and described in more detail below. The Tachypomp describes another possible approach to attaining very high speeds, which might be used to launch spacecraft; needless to say a very large number of stages would be needed to achieve launch velocity. Some other possibilities include magnetic launchers (Tesla is said to be interested in the idea), long-arm catapults like a medieval trebuchet, etc.
|A Note on CavoriteThe gravity screening material described here isn't Cavorite as described by Wells. Most of the forms of propulsion mentioned here bend the laws of physics to some extent. Cavorite didn't just break the laws, it trampled on them and spat on the debris. Amongst other problems, Cavorite didn't just block the effects of gravity on objects it enclosed, just putting a piece of Cavorite underneath something was enough to make it fly off into space. This behaviour would make it easy to build perpetual motion machines, and as shown in the novel ignored most of the effects of inertia. Many of the events of the novel didn't even make sense in the context of Wells' description of this material. The version of gravity screening described in the main text seems a little less extreme. If despite this you would prefer to use Wells' version, remember that Cavorite is repelled by all other matter, so a spacecraft would fly off into space with great force, even from the Moon. Rockets aren't needed for the return journey. In all other respects costs etc. are the same.|
Ignoring development expenses, gravity screens cost £4,000 per ton of hull weight - it's the size of the hull that determines how much is needed, not anything inside it or the actual mass the screens are shielding from gravity. Weight is negligible, 0.05 tons per ton of hull shielded. For example, the Selene has a hull weighing 1.4 tons, so gravity screens will cost £5,600 and weigh 0.07 tons, about 150 lb., when not in use. They can be re-used indefinitely. This makes gravity screens by far the cheapest form of space propulsion, and referees should think very carefully before allowing their use, and remember that players may well think of other things to do with this technology. It's not quite as easy to build perpetual motion machines as with Cavorite, but it can still be done.
Even with gravity screens an armoured hull is still needed, since it must withstand all the stress of the return journey. As an optional complication, it might be necessary to dismantle the gravity screens and their supporting frames and bring the valuable screening material back inside the hull before attempting to land on Earth, or risk the screens ripping away in the difficult descent.
MAGIC is a characteristic, usually zero. There is also a skill, Magician, which is the ability to focus and direct the characteristic.
Everyone is born with the MAGIC characteristic; most people never use it, and it soon atrophies. Occasional children manage to keep a little MAGIC even into adult life, and they have learned how to reactivate it in others. Anyone who can be persuaded to completely believe in the existence of magic gains MAGIC  but no Magician skill. No form of deception will suffice; somehow the subject always knows he or she is being fooled.
Training and practice can usually only be used to boost the skill but not the characteristic; however, in some rare individuals the vestigial power isn't entirely gone, and can slowly be re-awakened by constant use. Even then the maximum MAGIC available is SOUL-1, and reaching even this level takes years of practice.
There are many types of spell, with teleportation one of the rarest. The Difficulty of teleporting somewhere is the logarithm of the distance in miles, rounded up or down to the nearest whole number (but always at least 1), plus the total BODY to be teleported. In the case of the Moon the log of the distance rounds to 5, so teleporting a BODY  man there will be Difficulty , teleporting the BODY  Selene there will be Difficulty .
Anyone who has the MAGIC characteristic can help someone else to cast a spell by adding some of their own MAGIC to its power, in the course of a prolonged magical ceremony, meditation, etc. However, there's a law of diminishing returns on this; the power available is related to the square root of the number of people helping (rounded to the nearest whole number), not the actual number. It's easiest to calculate the number of people needed by squaring the amount of MAGIC needed. For example, if Swami Lobsang Patel has Magician  and BODY , and is wearing a BODY vacuum suit, and wants to teleport to the Moon instead of visiting it psychically, the Difficulty will be ; to stand an even chance of success he will need to boost his MAGIC by 6, which needs around 6² = 36 helpers. The problem is that he can't take them with him to help him return... If instead the Swami wants to travel inside the BODY  Selene and use its rockets to return, and hopes to stand an even chance of success, he would need the help of about 61² helpers, 3721 people. Both of these numbers are approximations, of course, and a few people more or less won't make much difference.
Use similar figures to fly to the moon, rather than teleporting; this presumably takes much longer, so it's probably essential to have someone back on the ground keeping the spell going and ensuring that the magic doesn't fizzle out en route.
Magical items and beings such as the Carpet or the Psammead (see FF VIII) might have the power to take people there, but as usual it's essential to be careful what you wish for. Arriving without a vacuum suit, or without a means of return, could be a terminal mistake.
The equipment for this will cost about £25,000 for a minimal matter transmitter working at Difficulty 1 (e.g. transmitting a small object a couple of inches), once the initial problem is solved scaling it up should just be a matter of building bigger transmitters and aerials, improving speed and signal clarity, etc., and trying not to kill too many people along the way. Say another £5,000 per point of BODY or extension of distance. For example, to transmit a BODY  man to the Moon will be Difficulty , with the equipment costing £65,000. Teleporting a BODY  Selene there will be Difficulty , with the transmitter and receiver costing £370,000. Once built the only expenses are electricity, maintainance, etc., say 1% of the cost of the equipment, about £3,700 per transmission.
If sails are used it may be convenient to say that the ether is stationary, but the Solar System is moving through it. Sails "brake" a spacecraft relative to the Ether, although to the occupants it appears to be accelerating relative to the sun, moon, and Earth. The entire solar system moves at about 600,000 MPH (the speed with which it rotates around the galactic core), while the Earth rotates around the sun at 66,000 MPH and the Moon around the Earth at 2,300 MPH. Fortunately ether sails aren't very efficient, so the craft seems to accelerate away from the current directions of motion at a bearable rate, rather than a rapid velocity change of several thousand MPH which would splatter the occupants like bugs. Any journey within the solar system can probably be done, but it's often necessary to wait until the planets are in the right configuration so that the craft can will changing velocity in the right direction. For the outer planets this is probably too long a delay to be practical. A journey to the moon takes a day or so, but it might be necessary to wait two weeks to return, until the Earth is "downwind" of the Moon.
Ether sails are made of thin silk covered with a thin coat of gold leaf, usually inflated to their working shape by a small quantity of compressed air, in the manner of a soft balloon; once working the pressure of the Ether keeps them open, and the air quickly leaks out in space. They have an area of about fifty square yards per ton they are pulling, cost £5 per square yard, and with their rigging weigh 0.01 tons for fifty square yards, with a volume of 0.02 cubic yards. Additionally a special charging unit and batteries are needed, costing £500 and weighing 0.2 tons irrespective of sail area, volume 1 cubic yard. For the Selene, at 24.5 tons, 1225 square yards of sail are needed, costing £6125 and weighing 0.25 tons, volume 0.5 cubic yard. The sails can be switched on and off, and the force of gravity can be used used for "tacking" manoeuvres (for example, a slingshot manoeuvre around the Moon with the sails switched off could followed by use of the sails to kill speed), but rockets are still needed for landing, and for the return journey if the passengers can't wait for the Moon to orbit the Earth to until they can use the ether sails to get home.
The design used in George Griffith's Stories of Other Worlds (but there called "breathing dress") is a state of the art design for this era, and for convenience is repeated below:
These were not unlike diving dresses, save that they were much lighter. The helmets were smaller, and made of aluminium covered with asbestos. A sort of knapsack fitted on to the back, and below this was a cylinder of liquefied air which, when passed through the expanding apparatus, would furnish pure air for a practically indefinite period, as the respired air passed into another portion of the upper chamber, where it was forced through a chemical solution which deprived it of its poisonous gases and made it fit to breathe again.
The pressure of air inside the helmet automatically regulated the supply, which was not permitted to circulate into the dress, as the absence of air-pressure on the moon would cause it to instantly expand and probably tear the material, which was a cloth woven chiefly of asbestos fibre. The two helmets could be connected for talking purposes by a light wire communicating with a little telephonic apparatus inside the helmet.George Griffith - A Visit To The Moon (1900)
There is a lantern on the chest plate; some models have helmet lamps instead. Air pressure inside the helmet regulates the supply. An airtight collar stops air circulating into the rest of the suit, to prevent the material tearing or ballooning until it is impossible to move, but the interior of the suit is not a complete vacuum; a little air is bled in to maintain partial atmospheric pressure and protect the skin and body from vacuum-related injuries such as ruptured veins. For prolonged use it is advisable to wear elasticated underclothes, which help maintain the body's pressure. While it is possible to put on a breathing dress in minutes, fittings can take several days. They must be precisely tailored to the wearer's body, and repeatedly tested before they are worn in a vacuum.
These suits do not have any plumbing, or any arrangement for the supply of food or water without removing the suit. Maximum endurance is thus measured in hours, not the days claimed for the model; while the air does last that long, sooner or later the wearer will need to drink or use a lavatory.
Breathing dress acts as armour to reduce the Effect of all blunt weapons by 3, of all sharp weapons by 2. Since the helmet is isolated from the body, the wearer does not automatically suffocate if the suit is damaged, but any damage which actually rips the suit is automatically made worse if there is no air; flesh wounds become injuries, injuries become criticals, and criticals become kills. Double the Difficulty of first aid if a suit is ripped. The helmet windows have BODY 3 for purposes of resisting damage.
Because breathing dress is made of asbestos fibre, it gives some limited protection against fire. Reduce the Effect of all fires by 4 for 1D6 rounds.
The backpack has BODY 4. It contains lead-acid batteries, soda lime and other air purifying chemicals, and is linked to a supply of liquefied air. Any damage which affects the pack is likely to have catastrophic results, as the acid reacts with the soda lime or eats through a pipe. Referees should try to avoid killing characters instantly if their packs malfunction; it's more fun to describe fumes gradually contaminating the air supply, searingly cold liquefied air leaking down the character's back, the desperate race for the airlock before the final catastrophe, and so forth. Then kill them...
This section outlines some information that the adventurers may not initially possess about the competition, the entrants described above, etc., including some scenario ideas based on the competing projects. They don't all interlock into one plot, as such, they're just separate situations that arise as a result of the competition. Referees should feel free to invent or delete competitors and change things around to suit their own preferences. The Moon race can be the main focus of a campaign or something that's going on in the background and is occasionally mentioned in the press; alternatively, it might briefly become important in an otherwise-unrelated campaign. For example, the projectile for the Kaiser's Lunar cannon might be being built in the same factory as the Kobold (see Swiss Movement), members of the Queen's Own Aerial Hussars might be "volunteered" for the first flight tests of a British craft or assigned to make sure that Swami Lobsang Patel isn't using supernatural powers to influence his followers, and so forth. Meanwhile Lord Redgrave may quietly be building the first true spacecraft (FF II), having decided that he will only enter the competition at the last minute, and a group of children may be planning to make the trip by carpet (FF VIII).
Referee's Eyes Only
All information in this section is for the referee only. If you are planning to play a character in this setting please DO NOT read on.
The Financial Times
The FT was founded in 1888 by Horatio Bottomley, business entrepeneur, patriot and con man on an epic scale. Although it pretends to be an independent reporter on the financial scene, and to an extent has to be one to maintain credibility, it was founded primarily to "puff" the worthless companies floated by Bottomley and his cronies, and still does so in 1895. This is fairly common knowledge in the business community, and most shrewd speculators know better than to invest in his Australian gold mines and other worthless stocks. Fortunately for Bottomley there are plenty of mugs around who are taken in by him. Some of them may be adventurers...
The Lunar Exploitation Corporation and the competition are Bottomley's masterwork; no reputable expert is prepared to admit that the Moon might be reached at any time in the near future, and most doubt that it can be done at all, but there is a long history of Lunar projects in scientific romances and the popular press, which the Financial Times offer should bring to fever-pitch. Most laymen are ready to believe that it can be done, and even the press is half-convinced. The company is apparently owned by a consortium of investors, and Bottomley's name doesn't appear on the board; however, the investors are his puppets. He plans to raise money by attracting donations (which he will siphon off into his own pockets), by selling shares in the Corporation, and by selling mineral rights and other assets which will only be his if an expedition occurs, finds the mineral resources he has predicted, and claims them for Britain. It's a towering edifice of lies which will be supported by articles in the FT and other papers, by word of mouth, and in any other way that Bottomley can dream up. Only one thing can bring it down; a successful expedition to the Moon.
Horatio Bottomley (Journalist, Businessman, 1860-193)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Actor (public speaker) , Artist (author) , Athlete , Brawling , Business , Driving , Marksman , Melee Weapon , Psychology , Thief 
Equipment: All of the resources of a large newspaper, .38 single-shot pistol, £200,000 in various banks, country estate, racehorses, etc.
Quote: "I will buy bonds, and hand them over to trustees, and each year we will draw for the accruing interest. Your capital will remain intact, or at any time, if you wish it, you may receive it back in full."
Notes: While superficially a prominent businessman and newspaper proprietor, Bottomley is actually an indifferent businessman but superlative con man. He was an orphan who became a court reporter, later a journalist, and somehow a successful business tycoon. He founded the Financial Times in 1888 and will go on to become an MP (losing his seat when he is declared bankrupt) and prominent patriotic speaker (for a fee) in wartime. Late in life he will become an alcoholic, eventually losing everything before his death. More information can be found at BiographyBase and other sites, and in a biography by Julian Symons (2001).
Any entries received go to Bottomley's tame scientist, a gin-sodden physicist fallen on hard times. If he thinks that the proposal stands a chance of success he will warn Bottomley, who will look into ways of stopping it. If he thinks that the proposal mentions anything that might be worth patenting before the inventor gets round to it he'll look into that too...
Adventurers checking into the competition should soon recognise it as a publicity stunt, but may not realise the extent of the deception. On a Difficulty  Business roll Bottomley's role at the FT and reputation as a "warm" businessman, occasionally involved in dubious stocks, will be remembered if the adventurers are looking for something wrong. As yet he has no criminal record. Proving his involvement in the Lunar Exploitation Corporation will be work for a detective with access to Companies House and other financial records, and will take several weeks of digging at Difficulty . An early discovery will be a payment of 500 guineas from the Corporation to the FT for "publicity"; the competition. It isn't immediately apparent that this money is going from one of Bottomley's pockets to another.
Bottomley's cronies have access to a range of criminal help, including thugs, burglars, etc., and if he thinks that a project has a real chance of success he'll arrange for a few problems; a key worker might "accidentally" be beaten up by "debt collectors" who pretend to mistake him for someone else, an office might be broken into and a fire started. If all else fails he will use lawyers to harrass the project; there's usually something that can be objected to. He can't do much about the German project, but the German government and Kaiser have never formally entered the competition, so the prize won't have to be paid to them if they reach the Moon first. If they ever do enter he will be a very worried man. He has a few contacts abroad who may be asked to interfere with the other projects, but his real strength is in Britain, where any project that looks promising will encounter severe problems. He and his friends will stop short of murder - that might invite too many questions - but short of that anything's possible.
The Great Arkansas Railway Company Inc.
Having made his fortune in railway engineering, Cyrus P. Hackenbacker is bored with business (he mostly considers it to be too easy) and looking for something exciting to keep him busy for a year or two. He was experimenting with designs for a steam turbine train when he heard of the contest, and has decided to attempt to win it for the USA. He's aware of the risks but he's fifty, his wife is dead, and his son is already independently wealthy. If he is killed it'll be unfortunate, but the railway will be left in good hands. He hasn't yet selected a co-pilot, and will be actively looking for someone with suitable skills (such as Science (Astronomy), Mechanic, Pilot, etc.) nearer the completion of the project.
Cyrus P. Hackenbacker (Inventor, Businessman, and Adventurer, 1845-??)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Athlete , Babbage Engine , Brawling , Business , Driving , First Aid , Linguist (Cherokee, Choctaw, Mandarin Chinese, German, French) , Marksman , Martial Arts (savate) , Mechanic , Melee Weapon , Military Arms , Morse Code , Pilot (gliders, balloons) , Riding , Scientist (engineer) 
Equipment: A railway company, private train with workshop, laboratory, etc., selection of rifles and hand-guns, cavalry sabre, Bible.
Quote: "When someone tells me something can't be done, son, (spits into spitoon) that's when I maybe get a little interested."
Notes: The son of a US Senator and one of America's pioneer women physicians, Hackenbacker has a passion for gadgetry and invention that has made him a multi-millionaire and owner of a successful railway company. He has worked on flying machines of various types, from balloons to aeronefs, high speed trains and automobiles, even an improved bicycle with a six-speed gearbox. His adventurous career has taken him all over the world. His next project was to have been an attempt on the land speed record, now he has determined to combine that with the launching of his spacecraft. He confidently expects to win the prize if all goes well, or die trying. Useful models for this character include an older version of Tom Swift or "Doc" Savage, or the comic character Tom Strong.
Hackenbacker's ship, the American Eagle, is a stripped-down lightweight two-man craft weighing just over ten tons. He plans to land on the Moon, spend a few hours exploring, then return to Earth. The design is spartan - there isn't even an air lock, the occupants will both have to wear vacuum suit throughout the time they are on the surface of the Moon, and at any other time either wishes to exit the craft.
The American Eagle is to be launched in a three-stage process; it will be accelerated to the astonishing speed of 300 MPH by Hackenbacker's steam turbine train, at which point a steam catapult will fire and boost it to nearly 1000 MPH. As it leaves the catapult a supplementary or "booster" rocket will ignite and deliver the remainder of the velocity needed to take it to the Moon. Since the booster doesn't have to provide all of the impetus needed to get the craft up to speed it is smaller than that needed for a pure rocket craft, only five times the weight of the Eagle itself, costing £3,180. The booster takes the final weight of the craft to 68.8 tons, and must be replaced after each flight.
Game design note: it was assumed that the train and launch catapult do roughly two thirds of the work of getting the projectile into space, with the booster doing the rest. Components were priced accordingly.
Overall the launch train / catapult system costs £170,500 (nearly a million dollars) but it is completely reusable apart from the booster. These costs include the construction of the train and catapult and upgrades to a remote section of track in southwestern Arizona, near Fort Yuma, making the rails stronger and smoother than any other American railway. Hackenbacker doesn't own these tracks, they belong to another railway magnate who has taken an interest in the project, and is letting Hackenbacker use them free of charge - Hackenbacker is paying for the track repairs, of course - in exchange for a 5% share of any profits from the first flight. There will be rental fees for any subsequent flight. The track at this point runs completely straight for nearly a hundred miles West to East, mostly on a rising gradient that will add a little extra upwards momentum. Its location is good too; the railway is at 35°N, further South than any other comparable stretch of track in the USA, so the American Eagle will gain the best possible help from the rotation of the Earth.
American Eagle (USA)
2-seater catapult and rocket-launched projectile spacecraft.
2 x 4th class accommodation, supplies 2 x 1 week, hold 1.0 ton 3.0 Yds³, landing gear, rocket / parachutes for return flight.
10.6 tons, 31.0 Yds³, £1,550, BODY 50
Booster rocket for above 58.3 tons, 106.0 Yds³, £3,180, BODY 50
Launch train and catapult for above £170,500, expendables £1,700 plus booster.
Other Equipment: 2 x vacuum suits, prospecting supplies, camera, etc.
Notes: A spartan craft with a minimum of equipment for life support. Since there is no air lock the occupants must both wear vaccum suits if either leaves the vessel; in flight they must take turns on a bicycle generator to keep batteries charged for lighting and life support. This is basically a "proof of concept" craft, which Hackenbacker will scale up if it is succesful, and if the first flight finds resources valuable enough to make another flight worthwhile. Of course this depends on the resources; if diamonds were found, for example, the craft is large enough for a considerable fortune.
The illustration, a photograph taken moments after launching an unmanned prototype, shows the booster rocket beginning to ignite - in fact it failed to ignite properly and exploded moments later.
Hackenbacker has a proven track record as an engineer and inventor, and most American experts consider him to be the strongest contestant, if they consider the project to be possible at all. Edison has expressed an interest in investing in the flight; Tesla has offered his engineering services free of charge if Hackenbacker changes to an electric engine for the launch train, but Hackenbacker has politely declined.
While Bottomley knows little of engineering, his advisors will soon tell him that Hackenbacker is a credible threat, with the business acumen needed to put the project together, and the engineering and scientific abilities to get it to work. He has detectives hired in America to investigate Hackenbacker and find any weaknesses that might be exploited to stop the flight; this is done through second and third parties, of course, since Bottomley has little influence in the USA.
Scenario Idea: Grave Reservations
As Hackenbacker's project is nearing completion one of the local Indian tribes announces that the track was built across one of their former burial grounds. The ghosts that lived there were previously appeased by their ceremonies, but will surely re-awaken and bring bad luck to the whole area if anything as unnatural as the American Eagle is permitted to fly there. Cleansing the area of its ghosts will require a prolonged ceremony and ghost dance, taking nearly a week, and until this is done the Eagle cannot fly. They're willing to perform the ceremony for a modest fee, a few hundred dollars, but it must be done at exactly the right time. And exactly the right time is, of course, exactly when Hackenbacker plans to launch the Eagle... If Hackenbacker asks for help from the local military he'll be told that relations with the Indians are reasonably good; nobody in authority wants to see an uprising, so it's advisable to keep things friendly.
Are the Indians telling the truth, or is it some sort of scam? Could someone be putting them up to this, either by bribing them or through some form of deception? What do they plan to do if Hackenbacker doesn't agree to their terms? How will Hackenbacker react? Is there any other way to appease the ghosts? What will happen if they are real and aren't appeased? And how do the adventurers come into it? It's up to you to decide.
The Prussian Empire
The Kaiser loves the idea of sending Germans to the Moon, but his advisors are less keen. Germany needs to expand on Earth, not into space. Nevertheless the idea has a good deal of popular support, even amongst those who would normally object to military projects of similar magnitude. Gradually politicians begin to see it as a way to encourage patriotism and bring some dissident voices back into the fold of the Empire. And the Kaiser will be paying a large part of the expenses from his personal fortune, so the burden won't fall heavily on the tax payers or the budget. Accordingly the Imperial Lunar Expedition (Kaiserliche Mondexpedition) is nominally a scientific survey. That's why they're only taking two Maxim guns...
Prussia's craft is Der Adler (the Eagle), and it's big. Where Hackenbacker plans a quick flying visit, the first Prussian expedition will be a thorough investigation of the Moon's resources. Der Adler will carry a team of ten explorers, equipped to stay on the Moon for weeks. It will have a galley, a proper control room, and everything else needed for their comfort and survival. This of course means that the launch cannon must be truly vast. There's a big snag; Germany's location. The southern tip of the empire is in Bavaria, and even that's only at 48°N, a far cry from the equatorial location that's ideal for a Lunar launch. Fortunately Germany has colonies overseas, one of them being German East Africa, and it will soon become apparent that the Space Cannon (Die Raumkanone) is being built in mine workings near Dar-es-Salaam, an Indian Ocean harbour close to the equator at 7°S.
In order to make this work most of the components have to be prefabricated in Germany and shipped by sea; very little can be manufactured locally. This is a long difficult journey, via the Mediterranean and Suez Canal then down the African coast. Unfortunately Germany's West African colonies, otherwise more accessible, are too far South and have inadequate harbours. Needless to say Britain and the other colonial powers are not entirely happy about vast quantities of explosives being shipped to Africa, fearing that some may be stockpiled for use in a future war. Nevertheless construction of the space cannon is going ahead at a brisk pace, and observers who have visited Dar-es-Salaam have noticed the enthusiasm with which it is being built, and the eagerness with which the natives are working. This may be the result of generous wages, or possibly they simply like the idea of visiting the Moon.
Der Adler (Prussia)
10-passenger cannon-launched projectile spacecraft.
Control room, 1 x 2nd class cabin, 2 x 3rd class cabins, 7 x 4th class bunks, supplies 10 x 4 weeks, hold 5.0 tons 10.0 Yds³, air lock, landing gear, rocket / parachutes for return flight, heavy armoured hull, wireless transmitter.
Other Equipment: 10 x vacuum suits, prospecting supplies, cameras, 2 x Maxim guns, etc.
131.7 tons, 275.2 Yds³, £30,492, BODY 75
Launch cannon with staggered explosive charges £1,025,250, explosives £100,000 maintainance £50,000. These prices do not include the cost of transportation to Dar-es-Salaam.
Notes: The Bemanntes Raumgeschoß (Manned Space Projectile) Adler is to be a showcase for Prussian engineering, and everyone wants to be sure that nothing can go wrong. This means that it uses conservative Prussian engineering techniques and a thorough approach to safety - in other words everything is at least 20% stronger than theory suggests it needs to be, and a good deal more complicated. The hull is thicker than most theoretical studies suggest is necessary, the rocket engines are slightly over-specified, there's even a small chemically-fuelled generator to keep batteries charged so that nobody has to pedal, although it's strongly recommended for health reasons.
Although the craft is nominally owned by the Head of State, the Kaiser, he's also Commander in Chief of the armed forces, and it will be crewed by officers and men of the Imperial Army and Navy. Selection criteria will be severe, with every man chosen for his skills, experience, and fitness. If the mission is a success they will become the first cadre of the Imperial Prussian Space Corps (Das preußische Reichsraumkorps).
The illustration shows the craft being lowered into the firing shaft to check its fit prior to the placement of explosives.
The publicly-announced priorities of the mission are to look for evidence of valuable resources such as metal ores, rare earths, and other precious minerals, to seek signs of life, and to take photographs of the Earth and of the stars from outside the Earth's atmosphere. The explorers also have secret orders to set up their wireless transmitter as soon as they are safely on the Moon, then claim the Moon for the Kaiser. Commentators in other countries have guessed that it is part of the agenda for the flight, German sources have refused to confirm or deny it for obvious reasons; if the flight left with this announced intention and failed it would damage German credibility. Nobody, including the Kaiser, is entirely sure that such a claim could be enforced outside the immediate area of any German colonies, and there is always a slight chance that it could lead to future trouble, but it might be a useful trading point in future international negotiations.
Scenario Idea: Flash
The adventurers (who should have a reputation for solving tricky mysteries where the police have failed) are approached by Miss Greta Bechstein, a young German lady living in London. Her father is an expert on industrial chemistry, currently lecturing at King's College. She has an odd story: about a week ago her father vanished en route from the college to their home, and nobody has heard of him since. All attempts to find him have failed. The only thing she can think of that was even slightly unusual about his behaviour prior to his disappearance is that about ten days earlier he had her take a bulky letter to the German Embassy, addressed to the Ambassador and marked "Urgent". She has made enquiries at the Embassy, but they claim to know nothing of the Professor's whereabouts. They admit to having received the letter, of course, but all they are prepared to say is that it concerned a scientific matter and has been forwarded to the appropriate department, the Mine Safety Bureau in Berlin. The police are aware that he has disappeared, but have been unable to trace his movements; he set off from the university on foot, a journey of about a mile, but never arrived home.
If the adventurers ask more questions about his area of expertise, at the college or elsewhere, they'll be told that he's recently been working on the thermodynamics of explosions in the chemical industry; the causes and consequences of industrial accidents. It's a new field, and one that promises to make the chemical industry much safer.
If the adventurers check his study they'll find that there are a lot of fairly abstruse-looking calculations on blackboards and on the papers around the office, most of them so scrawled as to be almost unreadable. One odd note; a folder containing newspaper and magazine articles about Der Adler, which is due to be launched in less than two weeks, most of them with figures underlined or circled, and scrawled calculations in the margins. On a Difficulty  Science roll it should be clear that the calculations relate to the energy of the explosion that will propel the capsule into space, the temperature of the gases, etc. There are two other newspaper clippings in the file; one describes a grain mill explosion in America, another a colliary disaster in Wales, a catastrophic fire and explosion. These should be the clue that unlocks the mystery.
If the adventurers check they'll learn that the Raumkanone has been built in a worked-out coal mine seven miles outside Dar-es-Salaam. The engineers have deepened and widened the shaft and built in all the side tunnels required for the colossal cannon. To do this they have naturally had to excavate countless tons of crushed rock, most of it moved to spoil heaps around the edges of the construction site. Most of it contains a proportion of coal, and there are huge quantities of coal dust. For the launch the Germans are evacuating everyone within a five-mile radius of the mine, but Professor Bechstein's figures suggest that this will not be enough. The initial shock wave from the explosion will throw hundreds of tons of coal dust into the air, then as the projectile leaves the mine the flames that erupt from the pit will flash-ignite the coal dust. This will quadruple the size of the explosion, and most of it will occur above ground. If the figures are correct a shock wave of burning gas and dust will sweep out from the pit, spreading far beyond the evacuation zone before it loses its force. By his estimate most of Dar-es-Salaam will be destroyed.
Once the Professor's findings reached Berlin the authorities realised that a catastrophe was likely. The adventurers may possibly think that Bechstein has been kidnapped to keep him quiet; in fact he was met outside the college by embassy officials, and has been taken to Berlin to consult with the Kaiser, the military authorities and the Bureau of Mines, in an attempt to find a quick solution without delaying the launch. He meant to send his daughter a telegram, telling her he has had to leave on urgent business, but forgot. The embassy knows that he has been taken to Berlin, but has been told to keep the matter quiet; unfortunately this has been taken a little too literally.
If the adventurers act like adventurers usually do this will probably result in a high-speed dash to Berlin, attempts to "rescue" the Professor... and embarassment all round when they realise that he's actually there willingly. Nevertheless he'll be grateful that they helped his daughter, and he in turn now has the ear of the Kaiser and other authorities in Germany, which might be very useful in the future.
Incidentally, the Professor has already solved the problem; the spoil heaps need to be sprayed with hundreds of tons of water, with high-pressure fire hoses and pumps left running to ensure that any dust that's raised doesn't easily ignite. A battleship has been diverted to Dar-es-Salaam, and its fire-fighting equipment will be rushed to the mine and used for this purpose. Eventually, unless the adventurers somehow contrive to make things go wrong, Der Adler will be launched without hurting anyone on the ground. The safety of its occupants may, of course, be a different matter...
The Lunar Cheese Corporation Ltd.
With the odds seeming to favour the big guns (very literally), Wallace T. Grimsdyke is the rank outsider amongst the "real" entries, not exactly a crackpot but not taken very seriously by anyone who matters. This may be a mistake...
Wallace T. Grimsdyke (Inventor, Businessman, 1835-??)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Artist (musician) , [Babbage Engine , Brawling , Business , Driving , Mechanic , Pilot (balloons) , Scientist 
Equipment: The resources of a successful dairy products company. A small home laboratory and workshop, telescope, pocket watch, harmonium.
Quote: "I always say there's nothing like a good cup of tea. Put t'kettle on, Gladys, I'll be telling these gentlemen about the ether."
Notes: Grimsdyke is a successful cheese magnate, who has built up a small dairy into Northern England's largest cheese company. His company sells blocks and rounds of cheese to most of the shops North of Watford, and wax-packaged cheeses throughout the British Empire. The company has traded under its current name for twenty-five years, and its logo (suggested originally by Verne's novel) is a projectile craft above the moon, and a gentleman in a top hat leaning out to cut off a slice of cheese from it.
In his spare time Grimsdyke is a keen amateur astronomer and "natural philosopher", with an interest in the properties of the ether. While conducting experiments in this field he has recently found evidence that it really does exist, and could possibly be used to lift a vehicle to the Moon; in fact the main difficulty would probably be stopping there. He has built a series of demonstration models, but lacks the engineering resources to scale them up to a full-sized vessel capable of surviving the flight and returning to Earth. For that he needs investors, engineers, etc. Although it seems unlikely, he is a member in good standing of the Royal Society and owns several lucrative patents related to the cheese industry.
Good role models for the character can be found in the films The Man in the White Suit, The Dam Busters, and A Grand Day Out.
Two years ago Grimsdyke accidentally discovered that when thin sheets of gold leaf are charged to a high AC voltage at certain frequencies they suddenly start to vibrate then rip free of the charging apparatus with enough force to tear the gold leaf. By running this test many times, with the gold leaf held at different angles, he has established that the force with which this happens, and the direction in which the gold leaf moves, is directly related to the rotational and orbital motion of the Earth. He's now sure that it is produced by the Earth's movement through the Ether. When the competition was announced he realised that he might have the answer to cheap space travel, and set to work to prove it. He has perfected a demonstration of the system; a balloon coated with gold leaf carrying a small battery and an induction coil which produces high voltage AC. When switched on it takes a few seconds to charge then flies off with great speed, vanishing from view in a second, or smashing into the ground with colossal force. Again the direction and force can be directly related to the movement of the Earth. He can also demonstrate a small ether-driven generator which has charged "paddles" which rotate with enough force to power the induction coil that keeps them charged, and could potentially be scaled up to produce useful amounts of electricity.
Grimsdyke believes that larger sails will be proportionately more powerful, and has calculated that the optimum area would be about fifty square yards to pull a load of a ton; with larger sail to weight ratios he's afraid that the rigging will snap. After some experimentation with gold leaf, silk balloons, etc. he has estimated that gilded silk can be manufactured for about £3 per square yard, about £150 per ton to be moved. He also needs to redesign the power supply for the large sail area, and design a chemical filter to absorb the ozone that's an unfortunate by-product of its operation. His problems are firstly liquidity - he recently bought out a rival cheese manufacturer and has relatively little uncommitted cash - and secondly a lack of large-scale engineering expertise. He needs partners who can put up the money for the project and build the craft. The terms of the deal are simple; he's offering a total of £10,000 worth of shares in the profits of the first expedition (including the FT competition if he wins it), at £200 for a 1% share, totalling 50% of profits. Investors putting up £1,000 or more get a year's license of the patents he has filed. Investors who put up at least £2,000 are offered the opportunity to join the first expedition. Investors can put up the money directly, or by paying for the construction of the craft.
There's only one problem with this plan; Grimsdyke has greatly underestimated the total cost of manufacturing the gilded silk in quantity, and it will cost £5 a square yard, not £3. He's also underestimated some of the other costs. In all the project will cost more than thirty thousand, not twenty. While Grimsdyke can pay about half of this, he will eventually have to sell another £4,000 worth of shares.
The Gladys Grimsdyke (Britain)
6-passenger ether sail spacecraft.
6 x 3rd class cabin, Supplies 6 x 4 weeks, hold 10.0 tons 40.0 Yds³, landing gear, air lock, rocket / parachutes for return flight, armoured hull, ether sails and power supply
Other Equipment: 6 x vacuum suits, prospecting supplies, cameras, telescope, etc.
73 tons, 195.5 Yds³, £30,254, BODY 60
Notes: Named for Grimsdyke's wife, the craft is designed for ether sail flight but if necessary can return to Earth under rocket power, without waiting for the Moon to be in the right position to use the sails to return. It can travel to the moon in about ten hours.
An artist's impression of the craft in flight, an edited photograph originally published in the Illustrated London News.
While the Gladys Grimsdyke is the most obvious product of Grimsdyke's breakthrough, his generator is actually a more important and generally useful discovery. Scaled up it will be a clean free source of electricity, potentially on a vast scale. Of course that energy comes from somewhere, the Earth's motion through the Ether. In 1900 the energy requirements of the human race are still relatively modest; from 1900 to 2000 (in the "real" world) the human race will use more energy than throughout its prior history, and with essentially free non-polluting power that rise might continue indefinitely. It might take centuries or thousands of years for the effect to become noticeable, but gradually the braking effect of countless thousands of generators will start to slow the Earth's motion; the day will become longer, as will the year, while the Earth's orbit around the Sun gradually becomes more eccentric. Eventually the Earth might be left behind in space, slowing relative to the ether while (apparently) accelerating away from the Sun, with a new ice age beginning and the output of ether generators dropping since its motion through the ether is slower. It might be an interesting setting for a far-future campaign.
If you would prefer not to use the ether in your adventures, Grimsdyke is the victim of fraud. One of his assistants has been rigging the experiments, using conjuring techniques. The generators are powered by cunningly concealed compressed air jets; the prototype ether sails took off rapidly because an accomplice was reeling them in on fishing line from the tower of the local church (in this version Grimsdyke didn't try releasing one which would have gone downwards). This began as a joke, but now they plan to steal the sails (which will contain gold worth three to four thousand pounds if melted down; most of the cost of gold leaf comes from its manufacture) before the "flight".
Note that if the luminiferous ether exists the famous Michelson-Morley Experiment of 1887 will have shown that the velocity of light is different in different directions, the theory of relativity cannot be developed, and many other experiments will give different results. The foundations of much of modern physics will be almost unrecognisable. Or perhaps not...
Scenario Idea: Ether / Or
There's something strange going on. Nearly ten years ago the classic Michelson-Morley Experiment proved conclusively that the Ether doesn't exist. Now British scientist Wallace T. Grimsdyke has proved that it does, and other scientists are beginning to find confirmation in their own experiments. How can that be possible? Were the previous experiments defective, or has the universe somehow changed since 1887? Is it a natural phenomenon, or something that is somehow man-made? Or could it be made by something other than man?
An adventure beginning with this premise might lead to contact with aliens powerful enough to change the very nature of the universe, or the discovery that the universe is in some way an illusion, a simulation created for unknown reasons. Maybe the adventurers (and the rest of hunanity) are guinea pigs in some cosmic experiment, maybe they're just pawns in a strange game. Played with 2D6? It's up to you to decide.
The Temple of Enlightenment (Islamabad & Chicago) Inc.
Based in Chicago's exclusive Hyde Park district, the Temple of Enlightenment Inc. has spread its message of asceticism and enlightenment since 1893. Converts are asked to donate their worldly goods to a fund which Swami Lobsang Patel administers, which will spread his holy word and perform (very vaguely specified) good works. In return they may study and meditate at the Swami's temple. His followers include members of some of the wealthiest families in Chicago, all of whom seem to be very happy with their faith.
Swami Lobsang Patel / Sam Hannigan
(Mystic, 17??-1852 / 1852-??)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Actor (public speaking) , Ahlete (Yoga) , Brawling , Linguist (Urdu, Pushtu, Tibetan) , Martial Arts (pressure point attacks) , Medium , Psychology , Riding , Scholar (obscure mystic philosophies) , Stealth 
Equipment: Loin cloth (use of a chauffeur-driven car owned by the temple etc.)
Quote: (in badly accented English) "The true path to enlightenment is the renouncing of worldly goods. Only when this is done can there be opening of the inward eye of the lotus...."
Notes: Swami Lobsang Patel claims to be a reincarnated Eastern mystic, and if asked about his current body will admit to having been born as Sam Hannigan, a merchant seaman and masseur. He is vague about much of his previous life but mentions having studied in Islamabad, Nepal, and Tibet. Whether or not these claims are true is open to question, what is certain is that he appears to be capable of extraordinary feats of endurance, can disable a man by touching him in the right spot, and preaches a doctrine of self-sacrifice and asceticism which is attracting many followers.
One of his claims is the ability to assume an astral form capable of travelling to distant locations while he is in a trance. After such trances he has described distant locations with an impressive amount of detail. Soon after the Financial Times competition was announced he told his followers that he intended to use this power to visit the Moon, and draw on the power of true believers to take a camera with him and return with photographs of the Moon and samples of its minerals. He plans to make the attempt soon, then claim the FT prize and use it to spread enlightenment.
While the Swami has many admirers, there are others who are less impressed. The Chicago Police Department has twice raided the temple looking for evidence of prostitution (which they did not find) and several of the Swami's followers have had their estates placed into the hands of attorneys representing their families interests. With the Swami's new announcement the Temple has begun a period of intensive recruitment. Eventually, when there are enough followers and the stars are right, the Swami will begin his meditation, astrally take a camera to the Moon, and return with photographs, rock samples, etc. To do this he will need the help of hundreds of followers, all of whom must participate without reservation.
The odd thing about this is that the Swami is completely sincere and genuinely believes that he can accomplish the feat. If adventurers check they'll find that the temple has given thousands of dollars to charities and the poor, accounting for most of the wealth donated to it. The remainder has been spent on the temple, food for the worshippers, etc. The Swami keeps nothing, and genuinely leads the ascetic life claimed; he travels by car when he's on business because some of his followers insist that a holy man shouldn't walk, but that's his only luxury.
The Swami is actually Sam Hannigan, a former merchant seaman and masseur, originally from Dublin, who suffered brain damage as a result of hitting his head in a fall. Afterwards he somehow began to look much older and acquired a completely different personality, complete with languages, a complex and philosophically challenging version of theology, and an unusual fighting skill which seems to consist entirely of finger blows to nerve clusters, causing paralysis or unconsciousness. He believes that the original Swami died in 1851, and was immediately reincarnated as the infant Hannigan.
In fact he is completely wrong; he suffers from a form of schizophrenia caused by the brain injury, and has invented every detail of his "previous life", including most of the languages he speaks. Before the accident he was interested in Eastern philosophies and read books and articles about the mystic east, somehow he has converted this knowledge into the Swami's persona. If he is tested by a real linguist who actually speaks one of the languages he claims to understand he will insist that the linguist is trying to trick him by speaking some other language. If he is asked to read from books written in these languages he will do so, fluently and with no hesitation, but what he says has little to do with what's on the page. He genuinely has no idea that he is doing this. Similarly, his fighting style probably owes more to his extensive knowledge of muscles and nerves than to any genuine Eastern martial art; he has only used it in demonstration fights against poorly-trained acolytes of his temple, never in a real life or death fight.
His philosophy, such as it is, is a mish-mash of a half-dozen different beliefs, with reincarnation and ascension as a "higher being", redemption for sins if the believer is truly penitent, and all forms of indulgence not in themselves evil, simply distractions from the Path of Enlightenment. As described by the Swami it is an attractive philosophy which appeals to many who have no time for more conventional religions.
Depending on the direction you may wish your campaign to take he may simply be deluded, but it's more entertaining if he genuinely has psychic powers which will be boosted by sufficient worshippers, as described above.
- If you choose the "deluded" option he tries to reach the Moon, eventually announces that he has been there in a trance, and describes it in great (and unfortunately completely inaccurate) detail. He says that he took the camera with him, when the plates turn out to be blank he will say that he must have taken the camera's astral form, not the physical camera. It's unfortunate, but if he tries again maybe he'll be able to take the real thing. This will continue until someone actually gets to the Moon and proves the Swami wrong. Even then he will be sure that the landing must have been on a different part of the Moon, but he will begin to lose followers, and the temple will eventually close in 1904.
- If you want him to have genuine psychic powers he makes one attempt per week until he succeeds, vanishing from his crowded temple and reappearing about thirty seconds later with dozens of ruptured veins in his skin, a handful of dessicated pebbles, and a blurry snapshot of the Moon. If someone thought to provide him with a vacuum suit it was left behind when he vanishes; if not, his followers will insist that he get one made before trying again. After this initial success he will try localised teleportation, gradually gaining the ability to move around the temple, to take the vacuum suit with him, etc. Eventually he will try for the Moon again, returning after twenty minutes with five photographs and a bucket full of rocks. There are a few snags; he has no idea where on the Moon he arrived and the photographs won't do much to solve the mystery, he has no knowledge of geology and the stones are neither valuable nor particularly exciting for science. But by now he's convinced hundreds of people that he can do it, and some of them have begun to learn to teleport for themselves. As more and more people master this extraordinary skill they will eventually convince appropriate scientists, and sooner or later they will also master the power. Gradually a flourishing moon base will be built, most other forms of transport will slowly become obsolete, and the Swami will receive the plaudits of the world. To celebrate he decides to return to Tibet, attempts to teleport there - and is never seen again. He has somehow projected himself to the Tibet of his own imagination and can never return.
Scenario Idea: Revisionism
With the Swami vanished, apparently for good, his spiritual successors wish to study every detail of his career in Chicago, and his previous life in the East. Unfortunately the details don't seem to make sense when they're analysed. Most of the scriptures he quoted exist, but most of the details he gave are wrong. Nobody can find any record of his previous life, and again there seems to be little or no resemblence to the real Tibet, Nepal, etc. There are phonograph recordings of his speeches, which often included passages in the languages he claimed to speak; no reputable linguist can understand them. Revealing this would be a disaster for the Temple, whose leadership now seem to be unhealthily aware of the value of a dollar, and is charging substantial fees for teleportation training. The adventurers (who should have talents such as Linguist, Actor, Artist etc.) are hired to write a definitive account of the Swami's life, one that doesn't expose these dubious facts but instead speaks of an intimate knowledge of the Mystic East, to "restore" phonograph recordings of the Swami speaking the various languages he claimed to know, and otherwise reinforce the Temple's claim to be a legitimate religious organisation. The nature of the deception should be intimated gradually, with the job appearing to be legitimate at first. Will the adventurers agree, and how will they be treated if they don't? Its up to the referee...
Sooner or later someone will probably get to the Moon, so it's a good idea to decide what you want it to be like.
- The most obvious option, and by far the best documented, is for it to be like the real Moon. Rocky, airless, not particularly interesting to anyone other than a scientist, and not (apparently) inhabited. There may be mineral wealth, but it'll take finding, and the only water is possibly a little ice buried at the poles. It's not the most exciting setting for a campaign, but scenarios based on mining colonies or the pressures and dangers of exploration might work.
Scenario Idea: High Space Drifter
1910. There are several underground mining colonies on the Moon, all company towns or state enterprises. Some are heavily regimented, some seem to be more or less lawless. One of the latter is Tycho Gold Inc., an American-owned mining complex which seems to have attracted more than its share of dubious characters. Visitors will find that it seems to be run by fear; the company employs a few goons who make sure that the miners sell the gold through official channels, at a derisory rate, but does nothing else to enforce the law. The bodies of miners who die are simply thrown into the nearest chasm, and for every natural death four or five die in fights or accidents caused by inadequate equipment and the company's greed.
Eventually a new arrival - whom nobody can quite remember arriving - starts to challenge the authority of the goons and the company. It's a situation that the Management can't tolerate, so a crack team of enforcers is sent to handle it. Enter the adventurers, assigned to deal with a situation not wholly unlike the film from which the title has been stolen...
- A classic scientific romance Moon is described in Wells' The First Men in the Moon. It's normally almost completely airless, but at certain times plants appear, flower, and produce a temporary cloud of oxygen before they die. There's an intelligent race below the surface, with plans to conquer the Earth. The setting is interesting, richly detailed - and can't be described here in any more detail because it's still in European copyright! If possible you are strongly advised to take a look, it's available on line from various non-European sites if you can't find it in print. See, for example Project Gutenberg's release.
Scenario Idea: Whan I See An Elephant Fly...
The Grand Lunar (or whatever the Selenite leader might be called) has given up on plans for conquering Earth, at least for now; it's too hot and wet, the gravity is too high, the caves aren't really suitable for the Selenite life style, and you can't get a decent cup of l'potn'k'k. Accordingly he has decided to consider alternatives, such as trade. He's aware that humans like diamonds, and has quite a nice one to offer, roughly the size of a human head. All he wants for it is an elephant. A live one. Delivered to the Moon, naturally.
Depending on the space travel method used this should be difficult to impossible; if it's trivial he wants something more challenging, such as a sperm whale or a giant redwood tree. For example, sending an elephant to the moon by space cannon should be next to impossible, since elephants would almost certainly be killed by the launch (just as a fall that would leave a mouse unharmed can kill a human, the force of an explosive launch would be harder on an elephant than on any human - not to mention several days in free fall with a stomach that relies on gravity to function properly), and would weigh so much a special gun and projectile would have to be built. Is there any way to change his mind, or deliver an elephant despite all obstacles?
Needless to say any attempt to steal the diamond will be lethally dangerous, and leave the Grand Lunar and his hordes hostile to Earth. The adventurers will probably want to do business on the Moon again, and who knows what weapons he has at his disposal if humanity annoys him. He doesn't particularly care if they decline the offer, and won't be offended, just confirmed in his low opinion of human ingenuity. But it really is a very nice diamond...
- A bleaker but still interesting version described by George Griffith, again in A Visit To The Moon, shows it as a dying, near-airless world which was formerly home to a humanoid race, now living on as blind semi-aquatic degenerates in the deepest fissures where there is still air. They live on fish, small molluscs, and pond weed. Elsewhere there long-forgotten ruins and the debris of a vanished civilisation, vast pyramids, etc. See FF II for the full story.
Scenario Idea: Water Hole
The adventurers are anthropologists and other scientists assigned to the Moon to assess the newly-discovered natives, determine their level of intelligence (if any) and try to communicate with them. Their university also wants them to make a documentary film about the natives. The snag is that the natives don't seem to be interested, and are preyed on by squid-like animals that also live in their pools, and seem to be fast and vicious enough to pose a threat to humans.
As the project continues it slowly becomes apparent that the squid are actually the dominant species, faster and more intelligent than their prey. They actively farm fish and weeds to feed the humanoids, take care not to kill the young or pregnant females, and generally make sure that the herds flourish. In fact the humanoids would be extinct without them. How will the adventurers react to this revelation, and will they dare to bring the news back to a world which still preaches the natural superiority of mankind?
- One popular theory of the 19th century suggested that the far side of the moon might be very different from the side we see, with habitable areas, forests, and rich wildlife. If you choose this option it's necessary to explain why the near side is so different. Selenites (Lunar natives) for this setting might look much like humans, but they will be adapted for the environment of the moon; long spindly legs, huge chests to breathe the thin air, big eyes for the dim Lunar night, possibly wings for flight in the low gravity. Depending on how they're described, and on how habitable the setting is, they might be beautiful or horrific, hostile or friendly. There might be several habitable zones, each a separate environment, perhaps linked by caves that are dangerous enough to deter all but the most determined explorer. A setting like this is natural for tales of two-fisted adventure, with the heroes befriending a native who is kidnapped or killed by intruders from another zone. Another version of this idea (see stories by E.E. 'Doc' Smith, John W. Campbell Jr., etc.) has the heroes make contact with the evil side first, initially fall victim to their lies, then discover the truth - in pulp fiction the source of the truth will often be a beautiful native princess enslaved by the evil civilisation, of course. In the same tradition the "good" natives are usually attractive and ethereal while the "evil" tribe are ugly and somehow brutal - it can be fun to use this preconception to fool players, by making the beautiful natives cannibals or fiercely hostile, and the ugly tribes friendly.
Scenario Idea: Two Houses Divided
Although the Moon is largely airless, there is still air and life in some deep craters. Explorers from Earth find a pair of such craters, each about a hundred miles across, just a few miles apart on opposite sides of range of jagged hills. The natives are reasonably friendly and look very similar, and are obviously of the same species - but each group of natives denies the existence of any other enclaves of life. As the adventurers explore they will find a cravasse, obviously linking the craters and deep enough that it would contain some air, that has been completely filled with boulders and is totally impassable. It's a heroic feat of engineering that must have taken generations. Why was it done? What will happen if the adventurers clear the way, or transport a few natives from one crater to the other? And what will the adventurers do if it turns out that there was a good reason for doing this, and the results of their tampering are catastrophic?
- In a more fanciful vein, the Moon might be something like the world described by Baron Munchausen, home to creatures of near-godlike power who will feel that the adventurers are extraordinarily amusing little creatures. Here the main challenge will be persuading the natives to take the adventurers seriously rather than treating them as pets. Of course if they take the adventurers seriously they may decide that they are dangerous, which is likely to lead to more serious problems.
Scenario Idea: Playthings of the Gods
The first Lunar expedition lands - and while the adventurers are exploring their craft is picked up by a colossal native and carried into its home, placed on the equivalent of a mantelpiece about a hundred feet above the floor. The native doesn't seem to be able to see the adventurers, they're simply too small for its gigantic eyes. But it has pets, perhaps the equivalent of (elephant-sized) dogs or cats, which can see the adventurers all too well and might get the idea that they're interesting chew toys. Then there are pests, the equivalent of (lion sized) rats, lobster sized fleas, etc. Even if the adventurers can reach their craft, they still have the problem of getting it out into the open for takeoff. Meanwhile the native has noticed that its pets seem to be getting unusually excited, and got out a magnifying glass...
- One final possibility should be mentioned; the most popular theory of the nature of the Moon is that it is made of green cheese (in this context the word "green" may have originally meant freshly-made, rather than being a reference to cheeses containing mould). If that should somehow be correct all those hoping to exploit its resources will be very disappointed... with the exception of Wallace T. Grimsdyke, who will be very pleasantly surprised and will undoubtedly decide to import some to Earth, either as a one-off novelty item or a regular import, depending on shipment costs and its quality.
Scenario Idea: The Cheese from Another World
With the unexpected discovery of cheese on the Moon, and a distinct lack of anything else worth exploiting, the adventurers have loaded their hold with a few large slabs and set off for Earth. En route the slabs begin to change, exuding cheesy pseudopods and slithering towards the adventurers. Anyone stupid enough to stand their ground is engulfed by the pseudopods and assimilated into the cheese being. It can secrete acid to burn through doors and seems to be able to adapt to any attack; for example, if the adventurers try fire it will hurl gobbets of molten cheese at them. Anyone who ate any of the cheese starts to feel ill at this point. BODY x 1D6 hours after eating it they appear to die; an hour or so later the body stirs, sloughing off a layer of dead skin, hair, etc. to reveal the cheese creature within.
Once someone has been eaten, either from without or within, the cheese creature collective consciousness will be able to communicate with the survivors. It tells them not to resist, things will be less painful if they surrender and become one with it. After all, they'll live forever; they'll be cheese but they'll live forever.
There is no happy ending; even if the adventurers can somehow survive the initial attacks they will be trapped with tendrils of acid-tipped cheese bursting through the walls and floor to engulf them. If they try to wait it out, perhaps in space suits outside the hull, the cheese mind quickly learns to control their vessel and leaves them marooned in space, hurtling toward the Earth. They die screaming... and wake aboard their ship, a few hours before landing on the Moon for the first time. Apparently it was all a dream... except that all of the adventurers seem to have had the same dream, and the surface below looks curiously like cheese as they come in to land. Was the dream a warning, or just an extraordinary coincidence. It's up to the referee to decide...
Sooner or later someone will probably reach the Moon and return with proof of their exploit. If the competition hasn't already been exposed as fraudulent Bottomley will use ajudication and the precise wording of the rules as delaying tactics, in a prolonged attempt to avoid exposure.
The first relevant part of the rules states that "All entries will be judged by a panel of experts including the Proprietor and Editor of this newspaper, the Astronomer Royal, and such other eminent figures as may be considered suitable judges at the time of the landing." In other words, with the exception of the Astronomer Royal the panel can be packed with Bottomley's cronies, and it will take a prolonged legal battle to shift them and substitute "suitable judges" who are acceptable to both sides. When this initial dispute has gone on for as long as possible the prize committee meets for the first time - without the Astronomer Royal, since nobody has actually asked him to participate. Needless to say the rules are adamant that he must be involved, so there's another delay while he's approached and tries to make time in his busy schedule. Then, of course, some of the other judges won't be able to make it...
The next thing that's important is the actual size of the prize fund. Bottomley admits to having raised a little over a million pounds, which seems oddly little since a hundred thousand pounds were raised in the first few weeks - he claims that most of that was his own money, which he put in to get the fund off to a good start. Nobody expected anyone to actually make the trip so soon - this argument will be used regardless of the time it takes to get an expedition under way. There have also been expenses, legal fees, etc., and investment in the Lunar Exploitation Corporation Ltd. Since the competition began the rules have been amended several times, and nearly 30% of the money donated has been passed on to the Corporation - which of course is an entirely separate legal entity with no responsibility for the prize fund - and another ten percent for expenses, which have somehow come to include lavish entertainment aboard Bottomley's yacht, house parties, travel, etc.
The next area for disagreement will be the proportion of the prize that is to be awarded. The rules state that "There will be penalties for means which cannot easily be repeated, for means which are considered to be too expensive, and for means which are unreasonably dangerous, slow, or in other respects fail to meet this condition." Every part of this rule is open to interpretation. For example it might be claimed that building a space cannon cannot be easily repeated and is very expensive, or that a journey taking three or four days (cannon) or ten days (gravity screen) is too slow. Nearly all the means that might be used are incredibly dangerous! And of course the "penalties" were never specified, so this gives plenty of scope for arguments and more lawyers. The big dispute, however, will be the cost of the voyage. Bottomley's tactic here will be to base this on the total cost of the voyage, including all expenses however trivial, with any non-recurring elements (such as construction of Lunar cannon or launch catapults) considered to be part of the price of a single journey. It will take prolonged arguments and the help of a few lawyers to get a more sensible agreement; for example, an ether sail craft would cost very little to run after it was built, so the total cost per passenger should be low, mainly the cost of replenishing supplies and if necessary replacing rockets etc. The next argument is what is, and is not, reasonable expense. Bottomley's tactic here is to compare passenger and freight charges with a long Terrestrial voyage, such as a transatlantic passage, divide the total distance to the Moon by the distance across the Atlantic, and multiply the cost accordingly. Pointing out that if the same argument is applied to journey times the trip should have taken several months may help, but again lawyers will be needed to settle the argument.
Bottomley's argument: Third class fare on a transatlantic liner costs £8 for approximately 4,000 miles. The distance to the Moon is 250,000 miles, and the round trip 500,000 miles. Therefore a "reasonable" cost per passenger for the journey to the Moon is 500,000 ÷ 4,000 x £8 = £1000Similarly the transatlantic freight cost for a typical cargo (wheat) is about 7s a ton, volume about 1.5 yards³, so by this measure the cost per ton of cargo from the moon (a one-way trip) should be: 250,000 ÷ 4,000 x 7s = 437.5s = £21 17s 6d
Needless to say Bottomley will not use these calculations if the costs of a Lunar trip are anywhere near or below these figures; he will look for an argument that gives a lower cost per passenger or per ton.
There will be endless delays, and all of the corporate expenses of the negotiations will come out of the prize fund; the claimants must pay their own, of course. A year after the landing the Lunar Development Corporation announces that due to the legal complications surrounding the prize competition they will be unable to pay a dividend; when shareholders point out that the prize fund organisers say that the LDC is a separate company, the company spokesman (another of Bottomley's cronies) replies that their lawyers have told them that they cannot invest in Lunar exploration while there are still legal issues - since they haven't been able to invest, they can't pay dividends. The shareholders won't be happy, but there doesn't seem to be much that can be done about it.
Eventually, after at least eighteen months, if the full extent of Bottomley's double-dealing hasn't been revealed by the adventurers, some sort of agreement should be reached. Tens of thousands of pounds will have gone to lawyers, but the remaining million or so is to be divided between the winning entry and the Lunar Development Corporation according to the split recommended by the prize committee and lawyers. The LDC will invest in the winning entry, of course. Eventually...
Once this agreemant has been signed the Financial Times will duly pay out the remnants of the prize, after legal fees etc. have been deducted, to maximum publicity. With much less publicity the majority shareholders in the Lunar Development Corporation will petition to have the company dissolved, and its assets returned to investors, before they can be "squandered" on the Moon. Oddly enough the major investors are Bottomley and his cronies, who will receive ten shillings for every pound invested; the rest seems to have disappeared in publicity, entertainment, and other expenses. Smaller investors and those who are slow to make claims will have to fight over the remnants, eventually receiving a shilling or two in the pound.
If spaceflight actually looks like it might be profitable Bottomley will eventually invest in it, and adventurers remembering the earlier problems may want to try a scam or two of their own.
Sources, Acknowledgements, etc.
- Stephen Baxter - Anti-Ice
- John Brunner - Report on the Nature of the Lunar Surface
- George Griffith - Stories of Other Worlds (in FF II), The World Peril of 1910
- Robert A. Heinlein - The Man Who Sold The Moon, Requiem (both in The Green Hills of Earth
- Jules Verne - From the Earth to the Moon
- H.G. Wells - The First Men in the Moon, Things To Come
- Tom Wham - The Awful Green Things From Outer Space (board game)
Pictures are from a 1900 article on astronomy, George Griffith's Stories of other Worlds, Baron Munchausen, Bishop Godwin, Verne's From the Earth to the Moon and Georges Méliès' film Le Voyage dans la lune (loosely based on this novel), and illustrations in various period magazines, or were created for this release of Forgotten Futures.
Special thanks to Charles Stross and Bridget Wilkinson for laughing at the right places and to Andreas "Ozzy" Beck, Wolfgang Baur, sirernest, katemonkey, cdybedahl and other livejournal users who gave great help with German translations and advice, graphics suggestions, etc. in this and other sections.