Sunday, August 31, 2014

Surprise at Clearwater

Red Captain Ronald Whitfield is a source of constant irritation to the Oenotrian Empire.
Ever since Ronald Whitfield first became a Red Captain, he and his kite, the Cloud Leopard, has been a source of constant irritation to the merchants of the Oenotrian Empire. To date, the Cloud Leopard has captured a dozen prizes, all Oenotrian, and caused great damage to the sky fleets of the empire. As well, Whitfield's old first mate, Andrew Phillips, soon became a Red Captain in his own right, commanding the Sky Lynx, a small screw galley refitted with a steam engine. By working together, the two Red Captains have been able to defeat more dangerous opponents than ever before.
Before the arrival of the humans on Mars, Martian culture had reached a point of stagnation in which innovation had nearly died out. In the years before the onset of this stagnation, Martian engineers developed a number of interesting and innovative weapons, which have never entered common usage for one reason or another. Two of these items are listed below.
Thunderbolt Quick-firing Light Gun
The thunderbolt is a variation on the theme of Earth's 15th century Veuglaire, which uses a removable firing chamber. This removable canister allows the Thunderbolt to have a longer barrel than standard light guns, since the weapon need not be muzzle-loaded. The canister is held in place by one or more wedges in primitive models. After firing, the crew loosens and removes the expended cartridge, replaces it with a loaded one, and tightens it in place.
This means of loading raises the gun's rate of fire somewhat, although three gunners are required to crew the weapon. The canister must be loaded with powder and shot in conventional fashion, but a number can be prepared ahead of time, at leisure, ensuring a better measured charge than is possible in the heat of battle. The increased rate of fire is achieved at a loss of range, however, because the seal at the breach is usually poor (due to corrosive effects of Martian gunpowder), and considerable pressure is lost, with consequent reduction in range. Despite this, Thunderbolts are still popular with some captains.
Thunderbolt Table
Weapon Wt Pen Dv ROF Crew Rng Cost
Thunderbolt 30 0 1 2 3 1/2 600
click image to download the PDF ship chart
Lob Gun Incendiary Projectile
The incendiary round for lob guns is a projectile that combines some of the impact damage of the normal lob gun round with the incendiary traits of Martian liquid fire. In form, the incendiary round consists of approximately a dozen small, stone containers of Martian liquid fire, banded together with iron to form a projectile nearly the same size as a normal lob gun round. The containers are scored to make them fracture upon impact, even with a wooden-hulled ship. The round is loaded into a lob gun in the same manner as a normal lob gun round. When the projectile is fired, one of the stone containers sometimes fractures in flight, which gives the round the appearance of a fireball as it flies through the air. The remaining containers burst and spill liquid fire when the round strikes its target. The fire level suffered by the target is determined by rolling 1D6 and subtracting the range in hexes from the gun to its target.
The incendiary round also causes impact damage: A lob gun firing such a round is considered to have a penetration of 1 and a damage value of 3 (rather than the standard values of Pen 2 and DV 4). As well, there is some chance of a loss of trim critical being caused by an incendiary round, but because of the projectile's lighter weight, that chance is not so great as with a normal round. When an incendiary round hits a target from a lob gun, roll 1D6: on a roll of 1-3, a loss of trim critical occurs.
Because of the difficulty involved in constructing incendiary projectiles for lob guns, each round is considered to have a cost of £5. Players should be careful to keep track of exactly how many incendiary rounds a ship carries. If a hit occurs on a lob gun magazine containing incendiary projectiles, roll 1D6 for each such projectile to determine the level of fire that breaks out on the ship.
The Oenotrian Empire responded to this increased threat by stepping up efforts to locate and destroy the Cloud Leopard and its companion vessel. With great numbers of Oenotrian warships searching for them, Whitfield and Phillips recently headed north to prey upon High Martian pirates until the ire of the Oenotrians had cooled a bit. Unfortunately for the two Red Captains, a number of Oenotrian warships pursued them all the way to the Meroe Badlands.
A few days before the beginning of the scenario, the Cloud Leopard and the Sky Lynx stumbled upon a pair of Sky Runner class vessels. The Red Captains heavily damaged the two ships, but in the fighting, the Sky Lynx took a boiler hit, and the Sky Runners were able to escape.
Most of the drinking water on both Red Captains' ships went to replace that lost from the Sky Lynx's boiler. With the crews on short water rations, Whitfield and Phillips decided to set a course for the city of Mylarkt to replenish water and pick up other supplies.
While heading for Mylarkt, however, the Red Captains discovered an abandoned High Martian kraag and stopped to explore it. Upon entering the kraag, they found a spring at its bottom. With the Cloud Leopard keeping watch overhead, the Sky Lynx set down and replenished its water supply. Then, the two ships switched places, and the Sky Lynx kept watch. While the Cloud Leopard was thus occupied, a violent sandstorm swept through the region. Unable to climb above the turbulence, the Sky Lynx was forced to set down as well. Once the storm passed, the two vessels prepared to get under way, but a trio of Oenotrian warships had followed close on the heels of the storm. Spotting the two ships on the ground, the Oenotrians closed in for the kill. At this point the scenario begins.
The Red Captains' Vessels
The Cloud Leopard is simply a Swiftwood-class kite that has been refitted with British weaponry. The Sky Lynx was originally built in a Martian yard, but was later refitted with a British steam engine and weapons.
The Cloud Leopard has Crack crews on its four-inch long gun and the spar-mounted six-pounders. Its other gun crews are Trained. The Sky Lynx has Crack crews on all of its guns. Marines on both vessels have modern rifles and are Trained.
Both ships have a number of smoke screens and spike droppers, as indicated in their respective ship record forms.
The Oenotrian Vessels
The three Life's Ends in this scenario are new designs, not encountered by the Red Captains before. One of these vessels is equipped with Thunderbolts and has exchanged its forward heavy gun for a rouge gun.
Each of the three ships has one Crack, two Trained, and one Green gun crew (to be distributed, as the Martian player desires). The marines on all three ships carry muskets and are Trained.
Ship record forms for all ships in this scenario are included with this article, as is a map of the terrain over which the battle takes place. To play this scenario, you will need to reproduce this map on a two-inch hex grid (if this is not practical, the Kraag Barovaar map from Sky Galleons of Mars may be substituted in which case the starting points will have to be changed). The Cloud Leopard begins at Low altitude at point 4. The Sky Lynx begins on the surface (one step below Very Low altitude) at point 5.
Martian 1 begins at point 1, at Medium to High altitude. Martians number 2 and 3 enter the map at points 2 and 3 respectively, during the Martian player's movement phase of the second game turn. They also begin at Medium to High altitude.
Victory Conditions
The Oenotrians get 1 victory point for driving the Sky Lynx from the map, 2 points for destroying the vessel and 4 points for capturing it. They get 2 victory points for driving the Cloud Leopard away, 3 points for destroying it, and 6 points for capturing it.
The Red Captains get no points for driving an Oenotrian vessel off the map, but they get 1 point for each ship they destroy and 2 points of each one they capture.
Model Conversions
You can easily make specific models for the ships in this scenario using the standard Sky Galleons of Mars sprues.
Extra sprues of these ships were available from GDW in the packages of Martian Cloudships and Aerial Gunboats.
To make a Life's End, simply replace the forecastle of a large screw galley model with the forecastle of a small kite model, then carve or sand off the lob gun mount.
The Sky Lynx can be built from the hull of a small kite and the tail of an Aphid. Remove the fore gun from the kite and glue the tail of the Aphid in its place to create a quarterdeck. Finally, fill in the mast hole and sand it smooth.
The Cloud Leopard is built as if it were a Swiftwood, following the instructions included with Martian Cloudships. Paint the ships to your individual taste, and enjoy the game.

by Bret Foland and Lester W. Smith, ©1990; the article originally appeared in Challenge, #40 & #41, GDW's magazine of science fiction gaming. It is used here with the permission of Mr. Smith.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A View From the Bridge

It has been a productive month for Paleotechnic Press (if I do say so myself). As  I mentioned in my last View From the Bridge post, I had planned to move the blog over to a WordPress site, but after much trial and error, I wasn't able to get WordPress to look (and work) the way I desired. Despite the small setback, I kept plugging away at the Blogger template, and I was able to fix several of the javascript and CSS errors on the existing site.  Long story short, I don't feel the need to switch over any longer.
I was able to make some other updates to the template as well, including addressing the menu bar items and adding pages with the lists of the out-of-production GameTech and Houston's Cloudships miniatures, designed for Sky Galleons of Mars. These lists can be found under the 'Miniatures' heading in the menu bar. Adding these pages was essentially a proof of concept exercise for me; they worked well, so over time I will add images of the Sky Galleons miniatures to the pages, as well as adding the legacy pages from my 15/18mm Victorian Colonial/VSF miniatures list and the 'Foreign Ships' line, useful for Ironclads & Ether Flyers, from Houston's Ships (and others, I am sure).  I am still trying to decide what to do with the 'Hot Article' slider at the top of the page (as far as content goes), so that is next up on my list of 'to dos'.
There are several more Sky Galleons of Mars articles queued up (in various stages of completeness). Based on my work schedule, my plan will be to provide a new post every 10 days or so. Next up (this weekend) will be Surprise at Clearwater a scenario and couple of variants for Sky Galleons of Mars originally published in Challenge magazine.
I also have a handful of 'historical' articles that I trust will be of interest to readers. These articles similar to the Ætheric Signalling and How a Ship is Coaled posts. I just have to decide if I should modify the articles to take into account Victorian Science Fiction aspects of the blog's subject matter, or to leave them completely as is, for historical reference...
To that end, your questions, comments, and short speeches on any aspect of the site are always more than welcome, as are ideas, stories and interesting sites. As always, happy gaming!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How a Ship is Coaled

The operation of coaling is of course a matter of vital importance on board ship in these days of steam propulsion, but it is at the same time, to all concerned, one of the most trying and unpleasant of duties. That it is done cheerfully ad taken as "all in a days work"-being carried out where several ships are together in a spirit of the keenest rivalry, ship against ship as to which shall be done first and make a record--is another question. Briefly, this is what happens during coaling. The collier comes alongside, and the coal in its hold is placed in sacks by a party of bluejackets from the ship to be coaled, the sacks being then swung on board the battle-ship, where they are placed on barrows, wheeled to the coaling shoots, and emptied into the bunkers, to be finally trimmed and stowed away there in the smallest possible space. That is an outline of the process. In its details, coaling a battle-ship or cruiser involves a great many other things.
Coaling a battle-ship in harbour.
The first outward sign which shows that coaling a war-ship is, to say the least of it, a big business, is the covering up of all the breeches of the guns on board, large and small, the quick-firing guns and machine guns, with tarpaulins. After that comes the closing of all skylights and cabin ventilators, and all open spaces--except those required for the actual operation in hand--leading below from the upper deck. Practically the whole ship's company of all ranks and ratings, from quarter-deck officers to boys, take some part in coaling a ship, for which the officers turn out in their oldest and worst clothes. For the men a white coaling dress is provided out of a special allowance, known as the "C.D.B." The work begun, in a very short time the spotless upper deck and upper works of the beautiful man-of-war, whether battle-ship or cruiser, are completely transformed into a scene of grime and discomfort. The upper deck speedily becomes buried, from bow to stern, beneath a layer of coal dust, which insinuates itself everywhere and lodges itself in every nook and cranny. The bright barrels of the guns become smudged, and white paint everywhere looks grey. At the same time, down below particles of coal dust manage to find lodgment, floating in between decks and depositing themselves here, there and everywhere in thinner layers. To remain in the cabins or in the ward-room, should anyone be disposed to do so, is practically to court asphyxia, at the same time that, on the other hand, to be on deck means for everybody, from captain to cabin boy, the prompt undergoing of a transformation into the appearance of a coal heaver or of a Moore and Burgess Minstrel. It is difficult to recognize the smartest of officers in the dingy persons who are superintending the coaling parties. All in garb and face look like mourners in sack-cloth and ashes. So the work progresses, the coal coming on board in marvelous rapidity, sack after sack being whipped up over the side in endless succession, as it seems, until the last ton required has been safely received, trundled to the shoot, and stowed away and trimmed in the bunkers.
Bluejackets moving coal from the collier.
Cleaning the ship after coaling.
After that comes the cleaning up both of the men themselves and of the ship, during which latter process, fore and aft, the whole vessel becomes filled with a sound of rushing waters, the upper decks being flooded, while the scuppers run like brooks as the dust and dirt of an hour ago is swept into the sea in rushing torrents of water. The ship is washed and scrubbed throughout from end to end, the barefooted bluejackets working with such will that in a wonderfully short space of time, thanks also to the yards of hose and unlimited water at their disposal, the ship's toilet is speedily completed and the vessel herself restored to her former spotless condition. Then the cabins and skylights and ventilators are all thrown open, and fresh air and sweetness and light are let in once more.
Such is the scene at the coaling of a war-ship in the daytime. At night electric lamps fore and aft cast a brilliant light over all the scene as the work progressed being one that might well have inspired Dante, could he have seen it, to write another canto to his "Inferno." The black night, the louds of steam and coal dust, the clattering din of the winches, the crowd of dusky figures swarming everywhere as they work at top speed--the scene would make the fortune of an artist to depict.
Temperley Transporter
The operation of coaling, thanks to modern ingenuity, can nowadays be carried on as easily at sea as in harbour, by means of the Temperley transporter, and ingenious mechanical contrivance that is now fitted on board all our modern battle-ships and large cruisers. The Temperley transporter consists of a light beam attached to a derrick, along which a carriage travels, with a pulley attached, for the rope carrying the sacks of coal to pass over. By one continuous pull on board the battle ship the coal sacks are lifted clear up from the hold of the collier, conveyed directly up the side, and run on board oil to the deck of the ship taking in coal, where the men receive it and bestow it as already related. 
It is to a great extent by means of the Temperley transporter that our ships are able to coal as expeditiously as is done in the Channel and Mediterranean Fleets, where an average of over 120 tons an hour has been passed in the case of several of the larger battle-ships. The differences recorded among ships in commission in their rates of taking in coal are, in fact, the result of differences in the position of the bunkers, making it easy for some ships to coal quickly, while others cannot possibly do so.

The text of this article originally appeared in the November 26, 1897, issue of Navy and Army Illustrated (with a "hat tip" to Steven Gray's Blog for the reference).

HMS Viper

The HMS Viper is a conversion of a typical Oenotrian Small Bird class screw galley, after her captured and return to Syrtis Major as a prize. The Viper received a re-fit in the British yard there. During the refit, the Royal Navy's yardmaster added a small surplus boiler, replacing the turn crank and flywheel, and updated the weapons compliment with modern ordinance, including a 1 pounder pom pom gun in a bow tower mount.

Technical Specifications 
click image to download a PDF copy of the chart.

Armor: 0
Hull: 2
Speed: 3
Altitude: High
Crew: 3 + 3 + 22
 Bridge: C,H,T,S,O
 Deck: 2
 Maneuver: 2
 Gunners: 9
 Marines: 1 + 9
 3 9pdr (aft)
 2 1pdr HRC (bow)
 1 1pdr pom-pom (bow tower)
 1 tether mine


After receiving her commissioning pennant, the Viper's first action was defending a British convoy from an Oenotrian raider:

June, 1889

Lt Cdr Mitchell's first priority is to make sure that the merchant vessels he is escorting successfully reach the city of Haatt. However, he has been schooled in the Royal Navy tradition of Nelson, and the opportunity to engage the enemy can not be passed upon.

In a high risk, high reward scenario, Mitchell decides to risk splitting his convoy and engaging the Oenotrian's on his own, knowing that should he fail to stop the Oenotrian the convoy maybe lost.


Use either board, ignoring terrain, the encounter takes place over the dry sea bed between Syrtis Major and Haatt.

The Oenotrian enters from the Northeast corner of the board. The British enter from the Southwest corner of the board.  The convoy is off the south edge of the board.

Oenotrian Squadron

1 Endtime (screw galley)

British Squadron

1 HMS Viper (converted Small Bird screw galley)

Game Length

10 turns

Special Rules

The HMS Viper is undermanned and has no marines aboard (they planned to pick up the Marines in Haatt).

Victory Conditions

The British must capture, destroy, drive off, disable, or otherwise prevent the Oenotrian from exiting the Southern edge of the game board.  If the British ship is captured, disabled, or destroyed the Oenotrian player automatically wins.

The stats for the HMS Viper and scenario details are ©2014 by Joseph Boeke, and based on Matthew V. Jessick's battle report: A Naval Report

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Naval Report

To: Flag Officer Commanding,
RN Aerial Forces, Mars
Copy to:   Cdr. H. Villard
Commander, RN Light Aerial Forces, Mars
From: Lt Cdr Mitchell, RNVR, Commanding HMS Viper

Please inform their Lordships:

On June 17, 1889, the recently converted 200 ton prize HMS Viper left Syrtis Major, escorting 3 merchant vessels, pursuant to our orders. We steamed first toward Haatt where, due to the limited number of Royal Marines available, I would request a platoon of the Australian Mounted Infantry, with whom we had worked before, to assist in the defense of our vital convoy and fill out our complement of 29 officers and men.
On June 18, 1889, 10 miles SW of Haatt, while proceeding NE toward the city, we were intercepted by the RN Auxiliary vessel HMAS Swift, sailing out of Haatt. The Swift joined our stately procession toward the city. Immediately thereafter, at 1500 hours local time, another aerial vessel was sighted approaching us, also from the direction of the city. The vessel was large, 500 tons, and of the Oenotrian Endtime-class. The Swift was ordered to break from our track and circle downwind, escorting the convoy into Haatt while we dealt with the Endtime. As the wind was blowing strongly, the merchant kites would have no trouble outrunning the enemy vessel. The Endtime-class can make 15 knots, while the kites were making 35 knots in the near gale force winds. It was a great day to be flying. The Viper closed on the Endtime at 15 knots indicated airspeed and 30 knots closure. The Oenotrian could not escape us - we expected an easy victory. The battle turned out to be a very near thing, however.
As we entered gun range, 1200 yards, the Endtime fired its lob gun. We were holding our fire until optimum range (about 400 yards for our three gun battery of bow mounted quick firing guns), for maximum effect. Unfortunately, the massive stone projectile stuck the Viper hard. This was an incredible piece of luck for the Oenotrians. The thing hit aft. Luckily for us it was abaft the boiler. The ship pitched, nose up, and rolled sharply to the left. The helmsman caught her smartly, leveling her off laterally. This proved a great help to Petty Officer George Hitsman, our trimsman, as he struggled to regain trim control of the Viper. We passed through the horizontal at a large and growing pitching rate. Petty officer Hitsman regained control expertly, leveling the Viper out at high altitude - making our total altitude loss only about 600 feet. Many a ship our size would have crashed after taking such a hit from the massive Martian lob gun - our survival is due only to the expert skill of our fine trimsman.
It took us a minute or so to get ourselves straightened out and back aboard the ship (Several men were left dangling over the side, saved only by their safety lines; they had to be retrieved). This delay in our opening fire, caused by the precipitous drop and the loss of trim, gave the Oenotrians the opportunity to damage us severely with impunity. The enemy captain extended us no mercy, attacking viciously with a close range barrage from his two heavy guns, and his bow swivel-mounted rod gun. All of the weapons struck us, damaging the hull and causing several casualties. He then rammed us! Again, Petty Officer Hitsman again proved his skill by maintaining trim through an incredible impact. Our helmsman steered skillfully to minimize the impact, saving us further hull damage. With the Endtime two and a half times our weight, however, the shock was still extremely dangerous. Our nine-pounder battery aft fired on the enemy as he passed to our rear, the gunners having managed to return to their posts. Finally we could hit back! And strike we did, sending two of our three nine pounder starshell rounds into the enemy; starting an immediate fire (the reason for firing the special ammo).
I ordered hard right rudder and full ahead flank in order to bring our bow mounted rapid fire battery of two one pound Hotchkiss Rotating Cannon and an experimental one pound "Pom-Pom" gun to bear. The sluggish acceleration, which answered this order, was a great disappointment. The stone, whilst not smashing our hull to bits or bursting our boiler, had, however, seriously damaged our screw and steam drive system. Our maximum speed was a mere 6 knots. Now we were the caught, unable to escape while the Endtime pounded us into the ground from his superior altitude. I ordered a change to standard high explosive ammo for the nine pounders, as our lower altitude made the chance of giving him fires from the starshell rounds very unlikely.
All the rest of the battle, the Oenotrian captain used his altitude advantage to pour a withering rifle fire onto our decks, wounding man after man (they were using fine German Mausers, we later found). Once we got our bows on him, however, the tide of the battle turned. Our rapid-fire guns proved their worth, making continuous hits into and through their unarmored hull for the remainder of the action. Our furious fusillade had an immediate effect, causing a noticeable slackening in his rate of fire, and causing sufficient hull damage to bring him down to our altitude. Unfortunately, this just allowed him to ram us again! With our ship moving only slightly faster than a baby carriage, we braced for the impact. The hull splintering crash infuriated us. Again somehow, Petty Officer Hitsman maintained our trim through the terrible battering. We immediately slipped to low altitude, with over half our liftwood vanes jammed and otherwise damaged. Unfortunately, the Endtime barely missed colliding with the tether mine we had been patiently towing behind us during the engagement.
The bow battery scored multiple hits, but the enemy's fire continued to damage our hull. We were barely able to maintain very low altitude at this point. As one more unlucky hit could have sent us crashing to the Martian sand below, I ordered the ship to land. We would crouch there, and pound him on the way in. With luck, we might still damage him enough to drive him off before he finished us. We continued long range nine pounder fire as our tormentor turned back toward us. Unfortunately, firing up about 1200 feet made it very difficult to hit. At fifteen knots and low altitude, he made his last pass. Our nine pounders did telling damage. Only the murderous rifle fire was still emanating from the heavily damaged enemy ship now (after the battle, we surmised that all his guns were knocked out of action at this point). Yet still he closed on our crippled ship. We were all but shot down, we could barely rise the 20 feet needed to keep all three of our aft battery guns bearing as he came around, our propeller shaft vibrating wildly with each turn of the damaged screw. Our guns fired madly. I ordered the ship down again as his heavy guns came into range. If he did hit us, at least we wouldn't die from gravity.
A group of Royal Navy officers in Syrtis Major including 
Lt Cdr Mitchell (fourth from left, with hand in pocket).
The nine pounders aft went silent as he crossed above their training limits. Again the Oenotrian's damnable luck held as he avoided our tether mine one more time (the hope we placed in that silly tether mine shows our desperation). He was heavily damaged. We knew that once our formidable forward battery came to bear, we would shoot him into the sand. Yet still he came. Then in one flashing second of realization I knew what the fiendish Oenotrian captain had planned for us; why he had driven his badly damaged ship over ours, risking certain death after passing us if his plan failed. He had somehow brought two of the five hundred-pound stone lob gun shells to the sides of his ship. As he passed overhead, his crew rolled them through the bulwarks and onto us! They had to roll them off both sides almost simultaneously - a single seconds delay on one side would have tipped the ship too far to recover in the altitude they had left to lose. Their incredible gamble worked. They continued on, with nothing but a slight lateral rocking to mark their captain's diabolic audacity.
That my report is being read today, rather than his, is due only to the incredible luck of the Viper. Somehow, perhaps due to his having to dodge the tether mine, those vicious stones he dropped on our helpless, grounded ship missed. I will never forget the sight of those huge stones tumbling toward us. As he passed forward, the ship was totally silent - except for the rattle of the dirt raining down over everything. Even the wounded were shocked into silence. The stones had straddled us. They had seemed close enough to touch as they hurtled past the rails.
Realizing that his guns must have been silenced to try something so incredibly foolhardy, I ordered the ship up and around to follow as best we could. It was not necessary. The Oenotrian ship, burning fiercly, crashed after the fifth or sixth hit from the forward battery.
As we passed over the crash site at our shaky six knots we heard him still firing! This enemy ship was unbelievable. After the lob gun hit, the repeated ramming, the murderous rifle fire, and dropping the huge stones on us, we had shot him down. Yet still they fought on! At this point, I am sure many of my crew were as worried as I was. What manner of enemy was this madman? What would it take to make him strike? The aft battery continued rapid fire as we staggered around. When the ship came into view, I knew then what had happened. Our light guns had started a fire that was now raging out of control. The flames were roaring at least fifty feet high. I rang the cease fire alarm immediately. We all watched in horror, (well tempered with relief) as the last of his magazines blew. It was the magazine explosions that we had heard as we passed ahead of the crash site. We landed to give what aid we could to the shocked survivors.
Seventeen were taken aboard, half of them severely wounded. Alas, the enemy captain was not among the survivors. Even though he had caused the death of two of my men, and wounded eight more of our understrength nineteen man complement, coming closer to ending my career than any other enemy I had ever encountered, I was saddened by his death. He had fought with incredible bravery, incredible tenacity, incredible cunning, and incredible skill. He had, with little more than luck and courage, turned a battle that should have been suicide for him into a near victory.
Some will criticize my words of praise to a hated enemy. I reject that criticism. I respect this captain as my foe. What glory is there in defeating an unskilled enemy? Yesterday, many of my newly commissioned ship's crew were strangers to each other. Today, we have gone through the fire together. Tomorrow, we will fight as one. We now know what our ship can do. We can face the best the enemy has to offer, and emerge victorious - for we did so today.
Lt. Colin Mitchell, RNVR,
Commanding HMS Viper

About the Author

Matthew V. Jessick is a former aerospace engineer. Currently, he works at Motorsport Simulations (Motorsims) as a vehicle dynamics engineer. He resides in Texas.

This article originally appeared in issue #3 of GDW's "in-house" Space: 1889 'zine, the Ether Society Newsletter, ©1990. The article is used here with the permission of Mr. Jessick.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

New Ships for Space: 1889

A good game is one that you can play and enjoy. A great game is one that you can still enjoy years later. We have always considered GDW's Space: 1889 to be part of the later category. It is elegant from a design standpoint; a naval miniatures game, and a land-combat miniatures game all seamlessly interfaced and without an overbearing amount of rules.

Described herein are two ships that were developed for my own miniatures games. We encourage you to use them yourself, and to develop your own designs as well. Nothing enriches a game of this nature more than the combined efforts of those who enjoy it.

Download a PDF version of this chart

The Flame Eagle is a conversion of the Skyfire hull, which emerged shortly after the first Skyfire, was launched. It retains the heavier Rouge and Rod guns in the aft section, but replaces the midship Heavy guns and Tether Mines with Martian Fire droppers. There is known to be at least one in service with the Oenotrian Empire at this point.

The primary purpose of this vessel is to do battle with European armored ships. Oenotrian generals, frustrated by the ineffectiveness of their smoothbore cannon against armored European hulls, have abandoned older design models in favor of a ship that carries Martian liquid fire as its main weapon. The result is fearsome. While Martian Fire is awkward to use, a Flame Eagle, which managed to maneuver itself into position, could utterly destroy an undamaged British Triumph-class by releasing only half its payload. Neither to be ignored is its ram, which is backed up by enough momentum to send even the largest ships reeling out of the sky.

The Flame Eagle's low top speed was the subject of heated debates among the Imperial Oenotrian Construction Corps as this ship and its sister-class, the Skyfire, were in conception. One camp held that any ship that was to hold its own against the Europeans must have a protected hull, to keep the turncranks from being raked by machine-guns and repeating machine-cannon. The other side contended that the extra weight of a protected hull made the ship too slow to catch the European vessels, so that it would be pounded to flinders by the enemy's long guns without ever closing to do battle. The truth of the matter remains yet to be seen.


The Karl Von Zeug was one of Germany's first interplanetary warships. Constructed during the colonization of Venus, it was frequently used to cow the natives into submission, raking villages and war parties with no less than eight 1" Gattling machine cannon. Its six-inch gun was included as a defense against other European warships.

In 1887 the Von Zeug was relegated to the status of Armed Transport due to its small size and low interplanetary speed, which are no longer competitive with the ether warships of other nations. It has also been criticized by German commanders for its lack of a turret. Its low maneuverability, combined with the limited arc of fire of its main gun, leaves it vulnerable to being outmaneuvered and destroyed by atmospheric flyers. At present its only duties are the ferrying of valuable cargo between Germany and Venus, as well as occasional patrols through aboriginal lands of the Venusians.

Download a PDF version of this chart

About the Author

Vince Blackburn is a government attorney in California who grew up on the island of Kodiak in Alaska. He began gaming when he was seven years old with the original "Blue Box" Dungeons and Dragons set, and has been hooked ever since. Today he plays a variety of tabletop and computer games with friends at his home in the suburbs of Sacramento, and spends the rest of his free time with his wife Lisa and an extremely spoiled house-cat.

This article originally appeared in issue 13 of Competitive Edge, One Small Step's former adult gaming magazine, ©1997. It used here with the permission of Mr. Blackburn.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Coca Cola on Mars

In 1886, when prohibition laws were passed in some areas of the United States, Colonel John Pemberton developed the "soft" drink Coca-Cola -- a non-alcoholic version of his previous French Wine Coca. Initially, Pemberton sold Coca-Cola as a patent medicine for 5 cents per glass near soda fountains; he claimed Coca-Cola could cure diseases like headache, morphine addiction, and impotence. Beginning in the late 1880s and early 1890s, after Asa Griggs Candler acquired the controlling interest in the company, Coca-Cola was sold in bottles, and began to be advertised even more broadly.
Candler's aggressive marketing tactics led the company to its dominance of the world soft-drink market. With a foothold in the American quarter in Thymiamata, Coca-Cola looks poised to extend its influence to the red planet as well.editor


For Soda Water and other Carbonated Beverages.

The "INTELLECTUAL BEVERAGE" and TEMPERANCE DRINK contains the valuable TONIC and NERVE STIMULANT properties of the Coca plant and Cola (or Kola) nuts, and makes not only a delicious, exhilarating, refreshing and invigorating Beverage (dispensed from the soda water fountain or in other carbonated beverages), but a valuable Brain Tonic, and a cure for all nervous afflictions -- SICK HEAD-ACHE, NEURALGIA, HYSTERIA, MELANCHOLY, &c.
The peculiar flavor of COCA-COLA delights every palate; it is dispensed from the soda fountain in same manner as any of the fruit syrups.

Druggists, increase trade at your fountain by dispensing the delicious, refreshing beverage,
No fountain beverage ever increased in popularity so rapidly.
None will draw so many customers to your fountain.
Advertising matter from any branch free.
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