Wednesday 28 October 2015

Communications For The Masses

Thanks to Jubal of Exilian for the topic.

In a frontier land like Alyeska the ability for long distance communications can be critical to the survival of a settlement, whether it is under attack or running dangerously low on supplies. Originally such communications were made by the use of semaphore telegraph, a system of conveying information by means of visual signals, and post riders over short distances. Electrical telegraphy later came to the fore, providing many advantages over the previous semaphore system, but has now in turn been largely replaced by wireless telegraphy. Likewise, the post riders of old have been completely replaced by air mail.

There are two major forms of wireless communications used in Alyeska, the first is radioteletype and the other is two-way radio. Radioteletype is system of two or more electromechanical teleprinters connected by radio, this forms the bulk of the Alyeskan communications network and is used much like a telegraph service. Two-way radio is used to a lesser degree, typically only by the military, the Air Police and aviators. Both rely on the network of wireless stations scattered about Alyeska that act as rely stations to boost the signal and are capable of transmitting their own messages such as meteorological reports and relying aircraft distress calls. Whilst these wireless stations require a fair amount of manpower, they don't have to worry that much about lines being brought down by harsh weather.

Aside from radioteletype, the average Alyeskan has access to a postal service and a limited telephone system. The present postal service is virtually identical to the original post riders, save that aircraft have taken over from the horses. Mail is still delivered to a central location in a given settlement, usually called a post office, for collection by the townspeople. Most post offices are located in a settlement's general store, but much larger towns may have their own dedicated building to use as a post office. Those who regularly move about typically declare certain settlements for their mail to be sent to, though this can often mean that said mail is waiting for a number of months before it finally gets picked up. The post offices is also where people can use radioteletype, but it still suffers from the same problem that the mail service has in that the intended receiver still has to collect the message on the other end. Taverns can also be used as mail drop points by those wishing to avoid official channels for whatever reason. In the largest cities in Alyeska there is a public telephone service, mostly in the form of telephone boxes and private owners such as businesses or those who can afford a phone being installed. The service is limited to the city where its based, though the Commonwealth is looking at expanding the service.

News and general information are usually spread via the form of posters on notice boards, newspapers and cinemas. Notice boards are common in the smaller settlements, normally found in the town's general store along with a handful of weekly newspapers, and only really with local matters but are still a great source of information for new arrivals. Newspapers tend to be more popular in the larger settlements that are lucky enough to have their own printing press, more remote settlements tend to get newspapers that may be a week or so old whilst the biggest towns enjoy almost daily newspapers. Cinemas are the other means of spreading news, normally showing news reels in between films that run all day. The larger towns have the luxury of having cinemas that are open all week, others either have one thats only open a limited number of days or rely travelling mini-cinemas that stop off in different towns and show silent films that may only pass through once a month. However Alyeskans get their news some of it, especially if its from outside Alyeska, will be out of date by anywhere from a few days to a few months.

It has to be said that the Iron Collective has the most advance and reliable telecommunications service, one that outshines everything else in Darmonica. In the public spaces of virtually of the Iron Collective's towns and cities that exist television like screens that silently display messages and information all day long, the service can be edited to instantly display new messages if the authorities need to urgently inform citizens of key information like during an emergency for example. Thus far none of the other countries have anything that comes close to this system.

Wednesday 21 October 2015


Now I've talked a bit about the Ancient Terrans, that their civilisation collapsed centuries ago and some of their stuff was left lying around. Of the latter I've never really gone into much detail, so this week I seek to address that and offer some fodder for your games.


Without a question the most visible remnant of the Ancient Terrans is the frost-coated, crumbling ruins of what were once their cities and outposts. They are spread far and wide, many believe that some are even located beyond what has been 'explored' of Alyeska today and back up their claims by pointing to what appears to be the remains of a rail network. Others have even claimed to have found wrecks of Ancient Terran skyships, though if this was proven true then it would reinforce the theory of the Ancient Terrans' technological prowess and explain how their empire once covered large parts of Darmonica.

Elsewhere in Darmonica virtually all of the old ruins have been used as the foundations for modern towns and cities, adapted in some cases as sewers or just left as a warren of tunnels beneath the city streets.The same has happened in Alyeska, but on a much smaller scale and as such there are many ruins left virtually untouched. Amongst academic circles the Alyeskan ruins are considered prime sites for study, a lot of the ruins however lie within the Wulfland but hasn't stopped the odd researcher with more money than sense.

The most notorious of the Alyeskan ruins has to be the Monolith and, by extension, the Great Stones of the Chillwynd Marches. To this day nobody has found out why the Ancient Terrans decided to carve out a completely flat plain that forms a perfect circle, nor the purpose of the standing stones that ring it in an exact copy of a clock-face. Located at the exact dead center of the Marches and rising high into the sky like a spire stands the Monolith, this great structure has many mysteries contained within and a grim reputation for madness. Much like Marches that surround it, people have vanished without a trace in the Monolith as well. There are others, sole survivors of missing expeditions, that have returned with their minds broken by whatever they'd encountered and either wind up dead or eventually vanish.


Less common but probably something that the average person is probably more likely to see or hear about is an Ancient Terran Artefact. These range from simple relics through to arcane devices whose workings baffles even the most smartest scientist. Whatever they may actually be they are widely sought after by those with the money to acquire such items, though this has resulted in a large number of fakes doing the rounds as people let greed get the better of them. There tend to be three main groups that commission adventurers to seek out and retrieve artefacts;

*Nobles and successful businessmen of the upper classes are only interested in relics and artefacts to use as display pieces and show off to their peers, though it can and has been a very cut-throat business.

*Scientists are only interested in items that look like devices, usually with the hopes of discovering a 'new' technology.

*Unsurprisingly the military is interested in anything that could be used as a weapon, though since the end of the War it has become a rather low priority.

Out of all the Darmonican nations it is really only the Iron Collective that is actively seeking out any and all artefacts that it can get it hands on, though the Coalition comes a close second.

The Remnants

The Ancient Terrans have been gone for over 1800 years and only left behind crumbing ruins right?

 Now this where things get a little murky.

There have been reports over the years from those who've been exploring larger ruins, such as the Monolith, of being 'stalked' by somebody or something. They speak also of shadows briefly glimpsed, of footsteps heard that cannot be accounted for and even attacks by unseen assailants armed with unknown but very advanced weapons. Whilst many would simply dismiss as Windryders or self styled 'prospectors' trying to scare people off, the accounts rather alarming match one another on all they key points.

Could there be some actual Ancient Terran Remnants lurking in the ruins of their fallen empire? Even after all these years?

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Alyeskan Gazetteer: Prospector's Reach

Nestled in the north-western corner of the Alyeskan Outlands between the northern coast and the eastern boundary of the Chillwynd Marches is the town of Prospector's Reach.

It was bit of a poor reputation, it is cold grey virtually all year round and occasionally the whispering winds of the Marches blow in the town's direction. The townsfolk themselves are somewhat isolationists, surviving either as ice fishermen out on the frozen sea to the north or as wilderness hunters and fur trappers ranging to the south and east of town. None of the townsfolk dare venture into the Marches, those living on the western or 'Marchside' of town keep their west facing windows permanently shuttered. Lying only a scant few miles from the Marches people do occasionally vanish during the night in town as they do out on the frozen plain, locals dubbed this as 'being taken by the winds'.

Every month a new expedition to explore the Marches assembles in town, a new of businesses has sprung up to cater to these adventurers. Hotels, taverns, stores and workshops offer their services to those intending to set out west. In addition there is a sizeable mercenary population in town of guns-for-hire who offer themselves as guards both for expeditions and the trade caravans that cross the wilderness from the town of Purpleflint. Prospector's Reach does, like most settlements, has its own airstrip but the winds from the Marches and blizzards that blow in from off the frozen sea makes life difficult for aviators and so its not a favourite destination for pilots. Travellers typically arrive overland via the weekly trade caravans, though there are proposals to build a railway line out to the Reach but as of yet nothing as materialized.

Prospector's Reach is not a place that anyone actually wants to go to, most folk are usually planning on heading into the Marches in search of Ancient Terran artefacts that are rumoured to lie within the towering spire known as the Monolith. A lot of them return empty handed, some bring something that may prove to be of worth and the rest never return at all.

Wednesday 7 October 2015

October Update

First post of October is a news/update one.

Yarr! Pirates!

Sort of bad news in a way to begin with, least it gets it out of the way first.

Everyone's aware of internet piracy, primarily from the media amongst other things. Most people are probably aware of dozens of RPG PDFs that are floating around on the web, an issue for anyone selling digital products. I've regularly done Google searches to see if any of mine turned up on sites other than DriveThru.

Couple of days ago I found the Frozen Skies Setting Primer on a file sharing site.

I put in a copyright infringement claim on the website and contacted DriveThru about it, quoting the buyer's name and order number in the PDF's watermark. As you can imagine I was more than a little annoyed about it, especially since I'm making a pretty low return on my products as it it compared to the time and money that went into producing them. Even more so considering that the Setting Primer is technically FREE through DriveThru unless you want to support the publisher, which is the beauty of Pay What You Want.

Tis the first and only incident I've encountered, so I'm not going to be making any changes now or in the future. I'll continue to do some PWYW products and other products that'll have a reasonable price, unless I find piracy a major problem for me (end of the day my RPG may end up being my only source of income). I get that some people will have virtually no money to spend on things other than bills, food, etc which will be a factor in how I price products, though I am happy to offer discounts for people on a case by case basis.

Now, onto lighter things!


Those who follow the Facebook will/should already know that I've setup a Patreon with the view to help raise funds to get Frozen Skies completed. It'll be an ongoing thing and even if you just pledge a dollar a month it'll go a long way.

Moar Artwork!

And finally the latest bit of artwork for Frozen Skies, an expedition entering the Chillwynd Marches and the towering spire of the Monolith in the background.