Thursday, 28 April 2016

Might Makes Right: The Artian Confederation

Another of Darmonica's great powers was a nation birthed in the forge of war over a century ago and unsurprisingly has a very militant culture. Named after Ares, the Darmonican deity of warfare, the Artian Confederation ranks high in military might and could quite easily give the Commonwealth a run for its money. For now its attention is divided between its eastern border with the Iron Collective and maintaining control over Tylander territory that it has occupied since the end of the Great Darmonican War, though it does have ambitions further afield.

Those ambitions include Alyeska.


The lands that form the Confederation are no strangers to war, having been the battlefields between the Tylanders and the Sodkans for centuries. Prior to the Tyland-Artian War in 1741 AF the Confederation was little more than a loose collection of city-states and scattered farms, used by then to the armies marching to clash with one another. But conquest of the future Artian states rarely occurred to either side as the foresaid states acted as a nice buffer between Tylander and Sodkan territory.

Least until 1741.

By the early 1700s the Kingdom of Tyland made it clear that it had territorial ambitions proven by its conquest of the United Provinces, which included a Commonwealth defeat when it tried coming to the United Provinces' aid. The Artian states were growing increasingly warily, especially when an arranged marriage occurred that linked together the Tylander and Sodkan royal families. Fearing that plans were in motion that would lead to a Darmonican superstate some of the Artian came together and formed the League of Artia, a defensive union that was soon put to the test in 1714 when the Royal Tyland Army attacked and smashed its through through the western states.

The Tylanders made huge advances but were ultimately stalled upon the banks of the River Bhein by a hastily assembled Artian mercenary army and the fighting entered a lull during the winter of 1741-2. Unfortunately for the Artians a fair number of the mercenaries either quit or accepted Tylander coin, by the spring of 1742 the invaders had established footholds on the east bank of the Bhein and held a number of key bridges. By summer a series of battles saw a number of the Artian state armies routed and the situation was looking increasingly dire.

Enter Viktor Wilstein.

Wilstein was the Chancellor of the State of Uthermark and a veteran of the various Sodkan wars where he had honed his tactics. He put a call out to the other states to rally their soldiers at his capital of Utherheim, though much to the surprise of the other states Wilstein's city was prepared for siege and had extensive earthworks in a ring round it. Many thought that Wilstein was mad and was inviting his own destruction, thus refused to commit their soldiers to defend the city. But a few either guessed that Wilstein had a secret plan or saw an opportunity to make one last valiant stand, regardless of how Wilstein's own army was supplemented by a handful of others who stood ready when the Tylanders arrived to lay siege.

Days, then weeks went by and Wilstein made no move which led many to question whether they ahd made the right choice in supporting him. Weeks eventually turned into months as the city endured a battering from near constant artillery fire and supplies started to run low. Many begged Wilstein to throw open the city's gates to the conquerors, but the Uthermark chancellor refused. Then word arrived that the Commonwealth had landed troops to liberate the United Provinces, catching the Tylanders by complete surprise. Upon hearing the news Wilstein gave orders for a beacon in the city to be lit, which was a signal for an army that Wilstein had kept hidden in the nearby Utherwald Forest to attack. Wilstein's secret army smashed into the flanks of the enemy army and the city's defenders stormed out the gates to support them, by day's end the besiegers had been routed and the siege lifted.

It took another year but the Tylanders were finally driven out of both the Artian States and the United Provinces by Wilstein's forces and the Commonwealth respectively. Wilstein himself would go to become the Archchancellor of the newly formed Artian Confederation in 1746 and help foster good relations with the Commonwealth that paid off during the Great Darmonican War half a century later. Though Tyland's defeat ultimately led to that very same War.

Present Day

In the decade since the end of the GDW relations between the Artians and the Commonwealth have turned sour, the main reason being the continued Artian occupation of Tylander territory. Admittedly towards the end of the War there was a growing rivalry between the two powers and there is little wonder that a cold war style situation as sprung up between them. But like everyone else the Artians are still licking their wounds from the War.

The present Archchancellor of the Confederation has three main priorties;

*Defend eastern border against a possible attack from the Iron Collective.

*Deal with insurgents in Occupied Tyland.

*Find an edge over the other great powers.

This last priority has seen the Archancellor dispatch agents to Alyeska in search of Ancient Terran artefacts, thus ending up in conflict with the agents of other nations. Some say he has become obsessed with rumours of some Ancient Terran weapon, even to the point of ordering his agents to ignore 'petty gizmos'.

Is he aware of something that nobody else is?

~ ~ ~

Quick Shoutout Time!

Utherwald Press will be at this year's Diceni show in Norwich (UK) this Sunday!

Love to see folk come and say hi at what is such a great event.

Wait, thats not all...

A little treat in the form of a Work-In-Progress snapshot of artwork currently being done for Frozen Skies.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

April 2016 Update

Another case of "Hey, haven't done one of these posts in a while..." sort of deal, plus stuff has happened since the last post of this type. I also wanted to give an update on and confirm some event details.

So, without further delays...

Frozen Skies

A few updates here, so I'll split them up into their own little bits;

*Artwork - Finally gotten more artwork in the pipeline with the artist currently working on the first of three pieces. A Work In Progress preview can be found as a Patrons only post over on the Patreon page, this preview will be posted on this blog probably next week.

*Writing - Ian Liddle, who previously did the layout for the Setting Primer, has joined the team to help get the writing properly organised and even do some writing of his own. So a big thank you is owed to him!

*Names & Books - Decided to do the current book as a sort of Player's Guide with everything needed to run games, though it'll probably be called something along the lines of 'The Aviator's Companion'. Couple more books are planned with one being a world guide with location details called 'The Alyeskan Gazetteer' and a book called 'Skies of Crimson' that'll focus on sky pirates and the pirate haven of Broken Spires.


OK, there are at least two confirmed events that Utherwald will be in attendance at.

Diceni - This is a local gaming event that Utherwald has attended since its beginnings. It'll be taking place at the Forum in Norwich (UK) on Sunday 1st May from 10am to 4pm with free entry.

Exilicon - Slightly further afield in Cambridge, Exilicon is a convention of creative geekery thats in its third year. This year it'll be at the St Andrew's Baptist Church in Cambridge on Saturday 22nd October, again this is a free entry event. 11am-5pm

NOR-CON - Otherwise known at the Norfolk TV, Film and Comic Con takes place on Saturday 8th October at the Norfolk Showground. This is a potential event, have yet to book a trade stand so wait for confirmation.


Mulling the idea of giving Kickstarter another shot, or maybe even Indiegogo. Biggest problem is setting the rewards, chiefly what to offer and how to tier it. Thoughts on the matter would be most welcomed.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Skyships "Full Power To Engines!"

A follow-on from last week's post, prompted by a comment made by Perry Chalmers (thanks for the idea). Effectively settled upon an engine design and means of propulsion, one that ties into the Weird Science angle of the setting and makes use of the so-called 'glimmer rock'. At the same time it also rather beautifully ties into the method to make the skyships actually fly through the air.

But before we delve into all that I just wish to announce that on the Patreon page I'll be making a Patrons-only post within the next couple of weeks. The link to the Patreon page can be found in the links on the right hand side of the blog and just $1 will grant access to the Patron only posts made there.

Below (or via link below) is the meat of this week's post.

The Machine's Heart

Most machines typically have what could loosely be described as their 'heart' usually in the form of some sort of engine, be it steam or diesel powered. Skyships are no different and whilst at first glance they may some unusual they still have a firm grounding in real life principles...up to an obvious point.

The core of a skyship's engine is glimmer rock that sort of functions as both an accumulator and as a heating element, the latter not being that much different from an electric kettle. When fed with an electric charge the core heats up and in turns heats the water surrounding it, eventually turning it into steam. After the steam is created it is then fed into two different turbines depending on which pipe system it is in, basically very much like fossil-fuel and nuclear power stations. The smaller of the two systems feeds into a turbine thats connected to a generator that provides electricity to the vessel and also to the engine's core, it is also the system thats nearly constantly running. The other system is much larger and is typically running at a much higher pressure, this basically runs turbines that propel the vessel forward (or in some cases backwards).

With the propulsion turbines in particular they work in very much the same way to a typical steam turbine, though the output is similar to a jet engine. High pressure steam is used to turn a mini-turbine that is connected to much larger turbines via a shaft, these larger turbines in turn suck air in through the front end and (obviously) out through the back end. There are tubes round the mini-turbine for the air flow without the steam pipes blocking said airflow. In some respects it could almost be described as a steam powered jet engine, course that are also rudders on the back end of the turbine assembly that direct the airflow and thus allows the vessel to turn.

Hopefully that should give people a better understanding of how the skyships are suppose to work, though I have realized that an updated post on glimmer rock is needed sometime soon...

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Skyship Design Thoughts

Bit of a recent windfall of cash has meant money to throw at more artwork and get me a step closer to Frozen Skies getting properly released. Hoping over the next few weeks to show a preview of one of the new pieces of artwork I've had commissioned, but this week I wish to talk a little about another piece of artwork thats in the pipeline.

That of a Skyship.

Getting The Look

Probably the easiest part was the general shape and look of Darmonica's Skyship, heavily inspired by those in the webcomic Alpha Shade which are loosely based upon WW1 & WW2 era warships. Granted the ones active in Darmonica have at least one difference, namely the gasbags for the 'Lift Gas' which I envision being on either side of the vessel and occupying the central third of its length. So at the moment we're looking at a WW1 era warship kept aloft with a pair of zeppelin style gasbags.

With the core basic concept in mind we move onto other things such as control and means of propulsion, factors that will effect the design. For control at least the obvious would be a rudder, though have considered the possibility of biplane (or monoplane) wings mounted on either side of the fore-end of the vessel. These forewings would effectively function similarly to canards, basically acting as elevators and also help the rudder to steer the vessel.

Propulsion is a little trickier to decide upon.

At presently I'm favouring Alpha Shade style turbines, a sort of steam powered jet engine if you will. The advantage of this is that the airflow from these turbines can be used in conjunction with the rudder to turn the skyship, course the related machinery and fuel is going to take up space. The other option is having wing mounted prop engines like WW2 bombers such as the Lancaster and B-17, though we'll see.

In Closing

I'd love to hear people's thoughts on this, the actual look of the Skyships is still very fluid at this stage and feedback can help refine the design.


Previews will go up on the Patreon before eventually being posted on the blog, you can get in on the act for only $1 and help bring Frozen Skies that bit closer to release.