One setting I have had bouncing around in my head for several years now has been one that many might think is a bit overplayed or cliché. Think of the pulp action stories of Nazi supermen, Indiana Jones styled crusaders, Warehouse 13 gadgets and artifacts and a generous heaping of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow to bind it all together.
Over the next few posts, I want to lay out some of my ideas and background. My hope is two-fold. First, I want to show any newer game masters a basic outline or framework that can be created. Second, I want to get any and all feedback I can to help me possibly flash this out a bit more before I begin running this in the coming year.
I plan on keeping up with my Cryptids of North America posts on Mondays or Tuesdays (when I have something to post for it!), and I’ll post more on this setting on Thursdays or Fridays. I do not know how long I will have these posts going, but I’m pretty sure I can get at least a handful out. Well, on to the post!
History of Technology
The industrial revolution began in 1782, with the invention of the assembly line style of manufacturing. This very quickly led to the advance of mass produced firearms and small machinery. By 1810 cartridge ammunition firearms, trains and steam powered trolleys became commonplace. The first transcontinental airship was launched the summer of 1820 from London to New York City.
The first concrete discovery of the aether, a natural force similar to that of magnetism and gravity, though functioning on a plane somewhere between the quantum and sub-quantum was made in 1882. This aether was shown to be connected to psychic powers, and as it was studied; schools of psychic training were started. Aether was found to be susceptible to the mental wavelengths produced by certain people. While the aether did not affect how psychic sensitivity worked, it was found to be the link that allowed more spectacular effects such as telekinesis could manifest.
It was quickly discovered that psychic powers were not the only thing that the aether could be used to manipulate. Machinery could be created that tapped into the aether field around a person. This could be used to manipulate the machine. The first use of this was to use the aether field to allow for functioning artificial limbs, creating the earliest cybernetic arms and legs. The field of science concerned with using a person’s aether field to manipulate machines became known as cybernetics and included any manipulation of machines through the personal aether field, not just machines attached to the body.
The world’s first computer, called the differential engine, was made in 1881 in New York City. It was able to perform an astonishing 500 calculations a minute. By 1900, there were seven more such machines in use; the most powerful one in Washington, DC could perform ten thousand calculations a minute. It was with the aid of these machines that the discovery of the quantum and sub-quantum ether elements was discovered in 1902. This allowed for the creation of the space impulse drives as well as cleaner energy.
Power cells made from synthetic crystals that were attuned to the sub-quantum ether could generate a large amount of clean heat for months before burning out. The first of these crystal power plants came online in 1915 in Chicago. By 1921, the process was miniaturized enough to allow planes to make use of the ether crystals for power.
These crystals took nearly six months to create, slowly growing them under very controlled conditions so as to allow them to be infused with the sub-quantum ether and attune to its unique frequencies. Once created, about one in ten proved to be flawed and unusable.
Using the power generating ability of the crystals, humanity started looking towards the heavens. The space race started in 1924 and by 1926, man had landed on the moon. A year later, the first permanent colony was started on the moon and the first mission to another world, Mars was launched. By 1928, there were colonies on Mars and humanity sent a ship towards her warmer neighbor, Venus.
Shortly after landing on Venus, it was discovered that the planet possessed a large quantity of naturally occurring crystals, called Venusium, that could generate even more heat and last nearly ten times longer than the synthesized ones could. Additionally, only one in about a thousand proved to be unusable.
The space impulse drive utilizes the quantum ether to generate a gravity pulse that propels a ship forward. These do not operate well when too close to a gravity well, such as that made by a planet. The ship needs to be high enough as to no longer be within the planet’s atmosphere in order for the impulse drives to function. When in an atmosphere, they drive can still make a ship appear lighter, effectively making its mass to be about half that of normal. This allows more traditional thrusters and turbo-props to be used when in atmosphere.
Another effect of the sub-quantum ether was in how radio waves filtered through an ether crystal could travel about ten times faster than the speed of light, and could travel through nearly any material other than some of the newer alloys from Mars. By creating devices that house small ether crystals as both a signal amplifier and power source, small mobile communications devices were invented. Soon after, scientists learned how to add video feeds to the boosted signal. These devices have an enormous range, estimated at about ten thousand miles when within a planet’s atmosphere and effectively unlimited when in the vacuum of space.
Next time, I give you more explanation of how I envisioned Quantum and Sub-Quantum Ether as well as the differences in Ether and Aether.
Let me know what you think about the history of technology in my own personal Pulp Action Hour setting!
Note: Cover image is from “DC’s MULTIVERSITY: SOCIETY OF SUPER-HEROES #1″