By Marcus L. Rowland
Copyright © 2005, portions Copyright © 1993-2002
Back to It's A Kind of MAGIC...
This document is copyright, but you are encouraged to make copies and print-outs as needed. You may make modifications for your own use, but modified versions MUST NOT be distributed. If you find any of these files useful you are asked to register.
The first release of these rules was originally converted to HTML by Stefan Matthias Aust, to whom many thanks.
This copy of the rules has been split into several separate files. A version consisting of a single large file is also provided. These documents should be accompanied by several files including larger versions of the game tables and a short summary of the main rules for the use of players.
MOST of the source material for this game has its roots in Scientific Romances, the predecessors of science fiction. It's a genre that tends to emphasise weird science and technology, so most of the worldbooks and adventures have included examples. Here are a few; rules for designing them, and many more useful(?) gadgets, can be found in the rest of the material published for the game.
|Postal Packet 162
A fast metal-hulled lighter-than-air airship from the world of Kipling's Aerial Board of Control, Postal Packet 162 is owned by the Post Office and used to transport the transatlantic mail. It is essentially a featureless cigar-shape with a detachable carriage holding mail and several sorting clerks who organise the mail in flight. See FF I for the background, details of the propulsion system, etc.
The Astronef is a spacegoing yacht built to accommodate two (or possibly more) passengers in luxury. It has three decks, the upper of which is glass-domed. It flies by the "R" or "Repulsive" force, one of the components of gravity; essentially it presses against the nearest planets, and uses the push to accelerate. See FF II for background, engine design, and other rules.
|The Redgrave Patent Breathing Dress|
Unless they are passengers on the largest liner, all spacefarers inevitably spend some time in breathing dress, or space suits. The design that follows was described in the source material for FF II, and has since also been used in Mummies, The Next Generation and FF IX.
The Redgrave Patent Breathing Dress resembles a diving dress but is much lighter, made of asbestos-cloth lined with rubberised fabric and padded with quilted cotton or lambswool. The helmets are aluminium covered with asbestos, and contain a small telephone. There is a lantern on the chest plate; some models also have helmet lamps. The backpack contains equipment to regulate and recycle liquefied air, released from a cylinder below the pack. Efficiency is very good, with endurance measurable in days. The pressure of air inside the helmet regulates the supply. An airtight collar stops air circulating into the dress, 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.
|The Carnacki™ Electric Pentacle
An efficient defence against Ab-natural entities (see FF IV), considerably improving on the protection offered by a pentacle alone, developed after disappointing experiments with "bare" pentacles and manufactured under license by the Radium Patent Light Company (RPLC Ltd.) of London. Purchasers included Aleister Crowley and the Psychical Research Society.
The pentacle is an arrangement of mercury discharge tubes wired in parallel, powered by a group of lead-acid accumulators (rechargeable batteries) with an induction coil used to boost the voltage. Induction coils were noted for their noise (a loud buzz), unreliability, and smell of ozone. Carnacki overcame the first and last of these problems by keeping the induction coil in a box surrounded by layers of asbestos wool and absorbent charcoal; the reliability problem could only be overcome by careful maintenance and adjustment.
|The Psychic Idealiser
Designed as a means of making thoughts visible, the Psychic Idealiser is in fact a means of travel to parallel worlds, invented accidentally by the eccentric philosopher, phrenologist and scientist Dr. Pyotr Plokta (of Utrecht, the Sorbonne, and Imperial College, London) in 1898, as part of an abortive search for the Platonic Ideal.
The main components are a helmet bearing hundreds of fine wire coils arranged around the appropriate "faculties" of the head, mapped by careful phrenological probing. The coils connect to antennae arranged around a circular glass cylinder with a flexible diaphragm at its base, containing a quantity of fine powdered magnesium, an extremely light metal, electrified by a Wimshurst machine. The volunteer is instructed to meditate upon some common object, such as a chair, and try to visualise it in its Ideal form. As he does so a clockwork mechanism vibrates under the diaphragm, throwing the dust into the air of the cylinder.
Plokta hoped that the dust would be controlled by the amplified brain waves of the subject, momentarily adhering to form a crude replica of the Ideal object. Eventually he obtained a fuzzy image of Wren's original design for St. Paul's Cathedral, which differed in many details from the version built. During the next experiment, with more power, he and his assistant suddenly found themselves standing in the plaza in front of the revised cathedral, wearing strangely old-fashioned clothing and with blurry double memories of two lives; their lives in the world where Plokta invented the machine, and in this new world, in which Britain was at war with France and medicine was still waiting for the discovery of germ theory. It was obvious that their personalities had somehow transferred to the bodies of their equivalents in the new world.
Plokta built another machine, hoping that they might return to their original world. In the next St. Paul's Cathedral was much as they remembered, but London was criss-crossed with elevated railways and everyone spoke an Americanised form of English. Neither could stand the pace of this new society, so they built another machine and tried again. And again... Now, a score of worlds later, Plokta has established the basic principles of dimensional travel:
A semi-rigid airship consisting of a large fish-shaped canvas "envelope" filled with several ballonets of hydrogen. A skeletal metal "car" or gondola below the gas bag carries three passengers, a small petrol engine, and up to a ton of cargo. It literally swims through the air, using two rippling wings of canvas and metal struts for forward (or backward) motion, several steerable sails, and a fishlike tail to steer. It is designed to carry special bombs to precipitate rain and disperse smog. See FF V for more on the circumstances that led to its use.
|Radium Healing Rays
Healing rays are used to speed the body's own repair processes. The treatment time (in hours) is their Effect, attacking the recovery Difficulty of the injury, any success halves the recovery time. For more on this and other rays see FF VI.
The Ariel and her sister-ships are æronefs, heavier-than-air flying machines built in 1900 by The Terror, an anarchist group dedicated to the overflow of the Tsar and creation of a socialist Utopia. They are built largely of aluminium, with some wood and other metals used where necessary, and designed primarily for war against ground forces, balloons, and other greatly inferior foes. Their primary advantage is Arnold's fuel, an incredibly powerful binary chemical which powers the engines and can give astonishing power-weight and fuel-distance ratios, and is also usable as a powerful explosive. For more about The Terror and its technology, use in combat, etc., see FF VII.
|The Amulet, Magical Time Machine
The Amulet is primarily a transport device, but can only take travellers to a place or time where they might be able to find its missing half. Since its existence spans several thousand years this allows plenty of scope, but once complete it loses this ability. When activated (by holding it in the direction of the rising sun and reciting the name inscribed on it, "Ur Hekau Setcheh") the Amulet grows to archway size, allowing travellers to walk to the past or future. For more on this and other magical devices see FF VIII
The Krupp Stahlwächter (steel guard) is a Prussian automaton used to protect the Imperial Calculating Engines and other important facilities. For this important job the Prussians have takem the unusual step of adapting the "terrain" to the automata. Sites on which they are used are levelled and surfaced to a high standard, and in buildings ramps replace stairs. This allows the use of a wheeled design with very little ground clearance, the wheels being covered by armour plating. An aluminium chassis minimises weight and electric motors reduce noise. Generally considered successful, although they are slow to react and vulnerable to attacks which damage the "terrain" or push them over; they cannot right themselves. An unusual feature is the telescopic eye, which is moved in and out on bellows and improves the accuracy of marksmanship. The down-side is that the eye has a restricted field of view, so that the automaton is easily attacked from the side, although sites where this model is used are generally designed to limit opportunities for such attacks. For more on these machines and other automata see FF IX.
|American Eagle (projectile spacecraft)
The American Eagle is a two-seater spacecraft designed to be launched to the Moon by the combination of a train-borne steam catapult and a rocket engine in a three-stage process; it's accelerated to the astonishing speed of 300 MPH by a special steam turbine train, then a steam catapult fires and boosts it to nearly 1000 MPH. As it leaves the catapult a supplementary or "booster" rocket ignites and delivers the remainder of the velocity needed to take it to the Moon. This is basically a "proof of concept" craft, which will be scaled up if it is successful, 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. See FF IX for more on this and other projectile craft.
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