Wednesday, 27 November 2013

A further quick note on Steam & Aether.

For those that have not read the background story or followed my project, the miniatures that I've spent so long making and developing are designed to represent the first two opposing sides for the ruleset and world setting that I've been working on for that past year or so, the eponymous "Steam and Aether".
 For a tabletop wargame I've always wanted a set of rules that are simple to learn yet aren't boring or too generic and so that's what I've set out to create. The game will be powered by  just a couple of easy mechanics allowing you to focus on play and narrative.  I'm currently playtesting the rules but I hope to release a "beta" version within 6 months for anyone interested. Mark Latham will be on board to help me develop the rules further and set them out the way a veteran games developer knows best. I intend to make the rules freely available in PDF form to everyone once they're ready and have an online "living rulebook" incorporating player feedback where suitable. I'm not going to give much more away at the moment but stay tuned, I'll be keeping you all up to date.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Kickstarter figures rebased.

Now that 99% of the Meridian Miniatures KS is done with and shipped I've been able to sit down and continue work on the Steam & Aether ruleset, miniatures and setting again. 

For those of you that don't know, I work as a full time miniatures sculptor so I have to try to balance my schedule to include personal work alongside the bread as butter of paid commissions. Over the last couple of days I've made time to rebase the painted figures that I used to promote the Meridian Miniatures KS. 

The Steam and Aether setting wasn't fully set in stone when I painted them so I stuck with my default basing scheme. I've chosen to refinish the bases to represent the post catastrophe landscape of industrial France. I've simply removed the grass tufts and added (overscaled) miniature bricks and tiny cogs (both from eBay) with some pieces of card create nice bits of loose paving. This all received a coat of dark grey plus a black wash, then a little brass and brick red to pick out the details. Next came a light grey drybrush plus some orange on the bricks and the odd patch of ground. A little chestnut ink was added to shade the brass. I hope you'll agree that they've turned out to be very effective and evocative of the setting for relatively quick jobs.
The next sets that get painted will be experiments with speed painting, that won't be for a little while though I'm afraid. Plenty more to share with you in the meantime though.

Sunday, 20 October 2013


The Aether
The French scientists of the Consulate of Peace spent many months ensconced within the extraterrestrial installation, deep beneath the Jura Mountains. There they happened across greatest discovery in human history, the discovery that would change the world forever: Terrestrial Aether.
            The truth behind Terrestrial Aether was never revealed to the world. Only the products of French ingenuity and the marvels that this new element could make possible stood testament to the discovery. And yet the scientists laboured on, determined to discover how such a wondrous material could have come to be. After deciphering knowledge from the complex’s many libraries and glowing logic engines, the greatest minds in France were awed to learn that there were many dimensions in existence, and the Aether was the very stuff that bound them together. All space and time exists by virtue of the Aether, and all matter and energy is created and conducted through it.
            Beyond the veil of our own reality, manifold dimensions lie. Some are like our own; some are utterly alien—planes of scintillating light and Stygian darkness, and everything in-between. And with knowledge of the Aether, distilled into its purest form, mankind could conceivably traverse the planes of reality, and even cross the cold void of space to worlds far beyond our own. And yet in these myriad places, unimaginable forms of matter and life exist. Alien intelligences lurk at the fringes of reality, waiting hungrily for the chance to cross into our world, were they only given the means to traverse the Aether…

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Part 5

The Present: 1867
When the Aether storms miraculously calmed, both Prussia and Great Britain dispatched science expeditions to assess the safety of France. They found that, as long as precautions were taken against noxious fumes and strange atmospheres, it would be possible to explore the desolate country. Early indications were that many of the ruins of the French towns, not to mention the great industrial complexes, were ripe for exploration, and would certainly yield a great bounty in unique artefacts and advanced technology.
Former cities house untold technology, much of which was never released to the outside world. The vast industrial plazas that once covered endless acres of land lie abandoned, ruined factories brim with wares, engines of manufacture lie unguarded, and secret caches of Aetheric materials surely wait to be discovered. Even Louis-Napoleon’s super-weapons now sit dormant along France’s borders, standing silent sentry against innumerable plunderers. Perhaps, it was argued, the source of the Terrestrial Aether discovered by the French all those years ago still existed. If it did, then perhaps it could be made safe, and the scientists of the age could carve success from the failure of the Consulate. Whoever achieved such a feat would be wealthy beyond measure and, if the rumours of Terrestrial Aether’s other properties were to be believed, practically immortal.
            And yet the dangers of exploring the mist-shrouded ruins of France were immeasurable. Dangerous storms are like to flare up without warning, with winds that can strip flesh from bones and lightning bolts capable of cutting through entire companies of men. Some regions of France remain entirely inaccessible by land, sea or air, as they seem engulfed permanently by conflagrations of multi-coloured fire. Sometimes, towns and landmarks that had been wiped from the map flicker into existence, offering up their secrets for a tantalisingly short space of time before blinking out of reality once more, taking with it anyone unfortunate enough to be nearby. What befalls such unlucky individuals is unknown, but none have ever been seen again. Worse still, rumours persist of strange beings, terrifying to behold, appearing as if from nowhere, sometimes with messages for travellers, and sometimes with murderous intent. There are places where time and space are damaged beyond repair—places where time runs backwards, or more slowly, or even stands still; where a traveller might find himself aged twenty years in the blink of an eye, or else find himself at his destination in moments, whilst his companions have all aged several years, or are long dead.
            Drawn together by the dimensional flux, even more strange elements have coalesced from the realms beyond, and melded with Terrestrial Aether into myriad strange and exotic materials. Boulders and sometimes whole villages are left lighter than air, gently drifting dozens of feet from the ground; forests of bizarre, glowing crystalline trees have sprung up across the wasteland, and rich seams of extraterrestrial minerals run through the rocky mountain ranges.
            Some ‘survivors’ of the Aether catastrophe have become something less than human—hideous, walking corpses, shambling revenants of humanity whose grotesque forms have become hosts to inter-dimensional parasites. Dead bodies have been found with crudely-written decrees pinned to them, decrees apparently written by King Charles X. Could it be that something still stirs in the ruins of Paris, the city worst affected by the catastrophe? Could it be that Paris is ruled over still, by the king of the revenants?
Other beings, strange and ravening, also wander the land. From which hellish dimension they came, no one can be sure, but their nightmarish forms are myriad. Whilst some keep to specific regions, perhaps bound by particular conditions or drawn to exotic alien minerals, others drift across the wasteland, searching for living things on which to feed.
            But not everyone in France is dead or cursed. Some natives live still, in the few remaining rural settlements, or makeshift communes in the hill country. From all walks of life, these dispossessed people have banded together, fearful of strangers and rightly so. What remains of the French militia does its best to look after these pockets of civilisation, but it has its work cut out. Some groups of soldiers have long since forsaken hope, and operate as pirates and rogues, their knowledge of the harsh wasteland unsurpassed. Legends are whispered by the ragged denizens of the communes that Napoleon III still lives, and fights against revenants, murderous rebels and invading foreigners alike. They whisper that he has somehow remained untouched by the catastrophe; the only man in France to remain pure when all around him has been corrupted. Whatever the truth of the matter, Louis-Napoleon has become a folk hero, his stories told around campfires at night to ward off evil.

The Race for Supremacy
With so many horrors, and with France still very much in a state of Aetheric flux, it seems foolhardy for any nation to contemplate expeditions into the wasteland. And yet the Prussian central ministry and the Royal Geographical Society of Britain have put together several expeditionary forces to foray ever deeper into old French territory. And they are not alone—several of Britain’s more partisan regiments have disobeyed orders and entered France in search of riches. Mercenary warbands from rival nations delve into the wasteland unaided. And all this, for the merest opportunity of fame, fortune and the advancement of science beyond measure.
            These expeditionary forces must face all the dangers of the wasteland, and doubtless other, as-yet-undiscovered terrors from alien dimensions. Until more of France has been explored, neither side dares launch a full-scale military invasion, and so instead smaller forces push ever deeper into the chaotic realm in search of untold treasure.
            Britain’s forces are primarily well-organised expeditions, led by the greatest explorers of the age and supported by well-drilled elite Yeomanry. Regimental expeditions, however, tend to be less well prepared, and are usually dispatched at the whim of a mercurial regimental commander whose only interest is garnering more glory for his regiment. These missions are likely to change at the drop of a hat, as officers in the field become greedy for more personal wealth, filled with battle lust, or lose their nerve entirely in the face of extraterrestrial horrors. Some British regiments are even said to be in the pay of the exiled French Duke, Louis Antoine, who pledges his assistance to any force that promises to preserve French wealth and national treasures, so that one day he may restore his kingdom and sit the throne that is rightfully his.
            The Prussian states send out legions of border forces into its ravaged western territories daily, primarily in the hope that, once secure, it can be restored to its former glory. Their troops are patriotic and well-drilled, after two decades of border patrols, but they are also weary of the bureaucracy from the capital, and the endless politicking of their leaders. Those that press on into France do so under orders from their regional controllers, and often find themselves competing with regiments from other regions of Prussia. They are almost always burdened by over-complicated chains of command, manifold objectives, and secondary targets which much be achieved meticulously, all the while recording their every manoeuvre for the central ministry.
            Added to this, private companies from both sides often set out to stake their own share of the wealth. From Britain, individual explorers, scientists and trading companies often venture into the wasteland, backed by foreign mercenaries, hired muscle or bribed soldiery. Only the most determined and well-prepared get past the first few days of perilous exploring, but those who do return so laden down with riches that they always inspire another group to have a go. Likewise, the civil institutions of Prussia form coalitions of brave, foolhardy and disenfranchised militia to delve into the wastes and bring back what treasure they can find. Many towns put together their own private expeditions, waving official papers signed by backwater local politicians as a passport to adventure. Scientific institutes pool their resources to pay off the Prussian border guards, sending in small teams to study the French ruins, determined not to let the Royal Society of Britain beat them in the race to scientific discovery.
            Even less prominent nations have found their way into France—small forces of Spanish guerrillas seeking wealth to rebuild their country; Nordic and Mediterranean nations risking their tiny fleets over the still-treacherous seas; and even Russian and American mercenaries have been found in the wastes, usually at death’s door due to their distinct lack of Aether technology.
            Only the bravest of the explorers ever survives long enough to reach the interior of the nation. Those that meet inevitably come into conflict. The stakes are too high for either Prussia or Britain to contemplate sharing the spoils and so, in the no-man’s land that is France, all treaties are set aside and hostilities are commonplace. Of course, it is no place for the unwary commander. Entire regiments can appear as if from nowhere, falling upon their enemies out of thin air; hordes of shambling revenants can suddenly stumble from the buildings of a seemingly deserted settlement; and armed exploratory forces will stop at nothing to stalk a rival who has the relics that they seek. Whatever the dangers, everything is at stake for the side willing to gamble; a whole nation lies under a pall of chaos, its secrets waiting to be revealed.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Part 4

The New Balance of Power
The cosmic strife persisted for almost two decades, remaining mercifully confined to France and the surrounding environs until one day in 1867, quite suddenly, the storms calmed. The sun rose into a blue sky for what seemed to be the first time in eons, and the world held its breath. No-one knew what had befallen France and its people. No-one knew what the other nations had been up to during the time of isolation. But the race was on to find out.

Great Britain
During the storms, Britain had become more isolated than ever before. Robbed of its naval strength by the Consulate’s decrees years earlier, and denied egress into Europe by the Aether catastrophe, it would have seemed to outsiders that Britain’s dominion had come to an end. However, that would be to discount the resourcefulness and tenacity that had for so long characterized the people of Britannia.
            Great Britain had managed to use its navigational heritage to maintain contact with the Indian subcontinent, braving long and perilous sea journeys to secure a source of wealth via trade routes with the exotic east. Thousands of Queen Victoria’s Indian subjects were welcomed into Britain, bringing the finest minds, skilled labourers and military commanders from the farthest reaches of the Empire to London. Eastern food, religion, music and culture became increasingly popular, as the ruling classes of Britain embraced new ideas after being so long cut off from the cultural centres of Europe. The cities swelled with industry, culture and commerce.
Meanwhile, Britain’s greatest scientists, the elite of the prestigious Royal Society, had never stopped their efforts to unlock the secrets of the Aether technology gained from France. It was whispered that the most radical thinkers of London’s intelligentsia had taken to distilling Terrestrial Aether with opiates, in order to expand their minds sufficiently to give them greater insights into the inter-dimensional secrets. Whether this was successful or not, British scientists certainly made great strides into Aether technology, and began to finally develop military devices—Aetheric airships, ocean-going dreadnoughts, and super-charged personal weaponry foremost among their discoveries.
However, due to France’s restrictions on foreign military power decades previously, Britain’s army had become a fragmented organisation. In order to find a way around the sanctions imposed by the Consulate, the Duke of Wellington had disbanded the central command of Her Majesty’s Army, handing control of individual regiments to trusted local commanders. As a result, regiments fell back upon centuries of history and tradition, becoming autonomous fighting units answerable only to the Queen, yet sometimes behaving in the manner of privateers or self-aggrandising guilds whilst fighting for the interests of the Empire. To keep some semblance of order, the Iron Duke elevated the territorial Yeomanry—traditionally a ceremonial force—into a permanent fighting force, which trained in secret to become an elite army. Under the command of the bullish commander in chief, General Sir Colin Campbell, recently returned from fighting in India, the new Royal Elite Yeomanry became a feared strike force. Though primarily used for domestic defence, they were just as often called upon to undertake secret missions in the Empire’s interests, or even to police the more capricious excesses of the great regiments.

Suddenly finding itself the greatest continental power still standing, Prussia set about unifying the remaining German states, cementing bonds that had been set in place by the well-meaning Consulate of Peace. Seeing no profit in retaining their independence, Bavaria and Austria joined the Unified Prussia, and their vast, ponderous standing armies swelled the ranks of King Frederick’s already unwieldy forces. Of the largest nation-states, only Hungary remained independent, solidifying its position as the second most powerful state in Europe.
            King Frederick himself suffered a stroke in 1857, so severe that it should have forced his abdication. However, aided by Aether technology, the Royal surgeons managed to prolong his life, augmenting the king’s frail body with beautifully-wrought mechanical prosthetics of brass and gold. Frederick became increasingly bitter and militant the more his body was changed by subsequent surgeries, and his ministers faced a constant battle to keep him from sending his forces sweeping into Hungary to claim the stubborn state by force. To rein in the king’s excesses, his son—a liberal and staunch supporter of the Consulate’s ideology—used his political guile to make Otto von Bismarck prime minister. Von Bismarck had long proved himself capable of quelling the king’s irrational rages, whilst maintaining cordial relationships with foreign powers.
            Von Bismarck’s first initiative was to divide the Prussian armies into smaller forces, so that they could not easily be deployed en masse against Hungary or anyone else. However, he remained wary of leaving Prussia defenceless, so he ensured that each force was sent on constant manoeuvres on the borders of Prussia, under the control of regional commanders. This directive kept them ever alert and battle-ready, and yet ultimately under the control of the hideously bureaucratic ministry at Königsberg. The duty of furthering Prussia’s military technology was also given to the regional commands, with military guilds forming to accomplish their assigned tasks. Prussian regiments, therefore, tend to be armed and uniformed as dictated by the innovations and rules of their guild, rather than by the central ministry.
            For all of its wealth and might, however, Prussia was still left comparatively isolated by the Aether catastrophe. To the west of the country lay a vast wasteland, an irradiated steppe where nothing grows and nothing can live. At least, nothing natural. Westphalia and Hanover were abandoned, and beyond them lies what is left of France. To the east, the minor independent states clung to their sovereignty, engaging in petty squabbles with each other, and in effect providing a buffer between United Prussia and the old power of Russia.
            With uncertain foes and fickle friends all around, von Bismarck’s armies set about securing the borders, creating hundreds of miles of defensive lines, unbreachable by foreign aggression, and from whatever perils lurked within the Aether storms.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Part 3

La Catástrofe Aethér
What the Consulate scientists were working on in the lowest, most secure levels of the extraterrestrial complex will perhaps never be fully understood. However, the pinnacle of their work was surely the invention of portal technology—the ability to transport a living person from one place to another almost instantaneously, by passing through a portal of pure Terrestrial Aether. Philosophers posit that the Aether is in fact the building block of all matter in every dimension, existing simultaneously in all time and space. By passing through a portal, one effectively folds reality itself, stepping out at the pre-defined point unharmed. Although the initial test subjects reported strange sensations, unexpected side-effects, and glimpses of realms beyond the veil, the invention is celebrated as the future of French dominance over the world. Work commenced to iron out the problems, and in the spring of 1849, the ‘Port du Aethér’ was constructed, with stations situated all across France and the Low Countries. The Consulate is jealously protective of this technology, as the builders of Aetheric portals required access to pure Terrestrial Aether—the very substance from which France had derived its new-found power.
            However, the construction of portals large and small, and in such vast numbers, had never before been tested. Most were man-sized portals, designed to send travellers to their destination in single-file. Others, like the ones in Paris and Calais, were large enough for steam-engines to pass through. However, when the Port du Aethér was finally brought on-line, disaster ensued. No longer confined to simply transporting a single person between two points, the intricate web of portals and inter-dimensional routes caused confluences of raw Aether and other alien matter to pour into our dimension. The energy of distant stars, radiation from parallel universes, and sanity-splitting extra-dimensional beings flooded through the gates, and continued to do so until all of the energy that powered the Port du Aethér was expended. Cosmic storms wracked the land, coruscating energies washed over the skies, and great dimensional fluxes blinked randomly into existence, wiping town and cities from the map in an instant.
            Overnight, the Consulate was destroyed, along with most of France. The nation that had flirted with ultimate power became nothing more than an irradiated wasteland, inaccessible due to the otherworldly fires and clouds of noxious gases that continued to erupt across the land. The Low Countries did not escape unscathed; huge tracts of coastline fell into the sea, and the major towns were leveled by gigantic tidal waves, which flooded the land and killed tens of thousands of people. From the North Sea to the Straits of Gibraltar, the oceans roiled with chaotic energy, making travel by sea an impossibility in those regions. Western Germany, the Iberian Peninsula, Northern Italy and Switzerland also felt the after-shocks of the most horrendous catastrophe in the history of the world—a catastrophe that threatened to wipe every man, woman and child in Europe from the map.

            Despite the calamity inflicted on the west, the main power of Prussia escaped the worst of the fallout from ‘La Catástrofe Aethér’, as it had became known, and King Frederick suddenly found himself the ruler of the most powerful nation on the continent. Great Britain, meanwhile, found itself isolated from the rest of Europe, cut off from the continent by churning, unnatural seas and violent electrical storms.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Part 2

A New World Order

Though France controlled all commerce in Aetheric goods across Europe, the benefits for all could not be denied, and many common people in Unified Prussia and even Britain reaped the rewards of the new age of invention.
In Prussia, the finest architects embraced Aether-forged building materials and labour-saving industrial machinery, transforming the capital, Königsberg, into a gleaming marvel of towering iron and glass structures, rising almost to the clouds and serviced by passenger airships. In Britain, steam-conveyances zipped along city roads, fuelled by Aetheric carbon. All manner of mundane tasks began to be carried out autonomously by clanking devices of brass and iron, programmed with analogue task disks of Aetheric copper, or logic maps cut from slivers of Aetheric silicon or crystal. Whilst the death of the service industry in Europe signalled the rise of self-made men and the lower-middle-class, in nations such as Great Britain the cultural shift was a step too far, and the poorest people were made poorer still by the lack of manual work on offer.
The tale of hardship was repeated tenfold in Spain and Portugal. With no monarchy and a fractious government controlled by France, the countries quickly fell into misrule. Guerilla fighters took to the hills, fearing another French invasion, and eventually became feared bandits, preying on the very peasants they had once sworn to protect. To the north of France, the Dutch monarchy similarly fled to the East Indies. The Consulate, not wishing to repeat its mistake on the Iberian Peninsula, moved to take control of Holland immediately, setting up a trade alliance with the East Indies to take advantage of the newly strengthened links between those nations.

Over the following two decades, Europe flourished in spite of the animosity and problems. Trade in non-military Aether technology finally reached Russia, the Americas and the Orient, sparking never before seen technological expansion in those far-flung corners of the globe. Meanwhile, France continued its transformation into the centre of Aetheric development on Earth. Entire regions were given over to industry, and countless factory complexes churned out new contraptions, materials and weapons around the clock. Acres-long warehouses are built to store the newly forged wonders, and the smoke from factory furnaces blotted out the sun. Much of the rolling hills, pastoral forests and isolated villages that once characterized France were irrevocably transformed by mile upon mile of landscaped brick and iron concourses, cobbled roads and industrial complexes. The Consulate ruled supreme over this new regime, believing the sacrifice worthwhile in the name of worldwide peace, profit and progress. All the while, their scientists continued to unlock ever more ancient secrets from the strange, subterranean alien city; the existence of which remain the most closely guarded secret in the world.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Part 1

In the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, peace descended on a troubled Europe for the first time in living memory. It was an age of reason, of enlightenment, and progress. An age where the ingenuity of mankind scaled heights previously unimagined. And yet, it was not science or intellect, nor even conquest that was to change the world. It was the discovery of something older and far more mysterious than anything humanity could have dreamt; something that had lain dormant since the dawn of time…

…the Aether.

The discovery of this wondrous, alien element was heralded as the greatest achievement of the modern age. It brought unimaginable wealth to those who knew its secrets, and allowed the greatest minds of the nineteenth century to realise their wildest theories and create inventions to be marvelled at around the world. And yet the expansion of industry and prosperity made possible by the Aether proved to be a short-lived phenomenon; for it was no natural force, to be harnessed by mankind as they saw fit. With Aetheric experimentation came hidden dangers, both physical and metaphysical, and dabbling with this unknown force was to cost the world dear.

France, 1815-1830
Following Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, the Bourbon monarchy was restored, and Charles X reclaimed the throne of France. Though France finally had peace, few were happy that their dream of democracy and freedom from the yoke of tyranny had finally been quashed. Fewer still were happy that their ruler was a puppet to the British, with whom they had fought for so many years. As Charles X introduced ever higher taxes in order to rebuild his nation, the people suffered, and animosity festered.
            In darkened meeting-houses and taverns across France, a new revolution was planned. A secret order of wealthy industrialists, scientists, free-thinkers and haute-bourgeois radicals formed a covert society, calling themselves the Consulate of Peace. They quickly garnered the support of the old National Guard, who had been disbanded by King Charles; yet although they sought a change for France, the Consulate did not want another Reign of Terror. Instead, they sought to install a new republic based on reason and liberty. Through enlightenment, they argued, France would not only be restored to glory, but also lead a new world order.
Led by the radical politician Adolphe Thiers, and the nephew of Napoleon himself—the bombastic Louis-Napoleon—the Consulate drew support from a veritable army of scientists, explorers, philosophers, writers, ex-soldiers and philanthropists. They began a decade of expansion and exploration, growing ever bolder with each political and ideological victory. They bought land, factories, mines and safe-houses across France; they delved into the history of the nation, recovering lost archaeological relics that told of the glories of the past, restoring national pride and gathering more supporters wherever they went.

The Consulate’s Discovery
It was during such an archaeological expedition near the Jura mountain range that an amazing discovery was made. Ancient caves long-overlooked were accidentally opened up, and the Consulate explorers followed the strange, labyrinthine tunnels deeper and deeper beneath the mountains, until finally they came across a marvel to science. Lying dormant for millennia, a sprawling complex of unknown origin gave up its secrets to the explorers. Who had built the cyclopean palace, none could say. Yet at the presence of living men, glowing lights of unknown design flickered to life, and consoles of illuminated glyphs activated at a touch. The Consulate discovered a veritable city devoted to some alien science; a buried repository of technology and knowledge, its endless corridors and chambers filled with strange devices and libraries… and weapons.
            The seeds of unrest within the ranks of the Consulate were sown. Even a cursory exploration of the devices on display convinced Louis-Napoleon—by then Napoleon III—that they could retake France by force, even with the meagre numbers of National Guard at their command. Yet Thiers had his way, and the Consulate spent many months in their new headquarters, deciphering ancient scrolls, learning to use bizarre logic engines, and making scientific discoveries that would have made da Vinci weep. The greatest of these was a new element, found in abundance at the glowing core of the monolithic facility. It seemed to be the source of power for the entire complex, and everything in proximity to the roiling, crystalline material seemed to warp and twist. They called this element ‘Terrestrial Aether’, and learned much of its practical application.
The complex was greater than the fabled library of Alexandria, and soon the Consulate had learned enough to put some of their new inventions into practice. Giving new instructions to their factories across France, the fires of industry burned day and night. With the application of Terrestrial Aether, metal could be made both lighter and stronger, any number of devices could be powered without coal or oil, medicines of previously unimagined potency could be concocted, and mankind could at last take to the skies in small airships, the likes of which had never before been seen. Most interesting to young Louis-Napoleon, however, was the use of Terrestrial Aether in machines of war. He commandeered a munitions factory in the south of France, and within a week had them producing Aether-powered rifles, gigantic cannons that spat beams of ferocious energy, and armoured, horseless carriages impervious to musket shot. He knew that, for all of their ideological superiority, the Consulate needed his Aether weapons to rid France of the monarchy, and keep her enemies across the Channel at bay.

Revolution and Conquest
When the Consulate of Peace finally revealed their intentions in the summer of 1829, all of France was in awe at their power and invention. Napoleon III, like his illustrious uncle before him, marched from town to town, gathering old soldiers and idealistic volunteers to his banner, and arming them with Aether weaponry. At first, the monarchy and their royalist army resisted the will of the people, but that soon changed when Louis-Napoleon unleashed his super-weapon upon the Palais Bourbon, sundering it with a shot launched from over a mile away, and reducing it to ash. His army then marched into Paris in a display of power, and as the people cheered and shouted for a new Emperor Napoleon, Charles X relinquished the throne.
            Dismayed that the Consulate of Peace had resorted to military might, Adolphe Thiers nonetheless continued his plan. He swiftly set his supporters in place as a new National Assembly, and began dismantling the old monarchy and last vestiges of Catholic power. The cathedral of Notre Dame was rededicated as the home of the Cult of Reason. Charles X was imprisoned for his crimes against the people, but his son, Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême, was exiled to Britain, under orders to take with him messages from the Consulate. Despite their newfound military might, the Consulate was still determined to establish an era of worldwide peace—albeit one under their yoke.
            Though he secretly harboured ambitions of conquest, Louis-Napoleon did as he was bid. He set about installing his Aether-cannons around France’s borders, as a dire warning to any nation who would attempt to thwart the Consulate’s power.

            And so, under the shadow of unprecedented military threat, Europe’s nations one by one fell into line, signing new agreements of peace and trade with France, and with each other. Armies of all the great nations were curtailed, regiments disbanded at France’s behest, and even the mighty Royal Navy was halved in size. The Consulate continued to experiment with Terrestrial Aether, reverse-engineering almost every common technology and material in a bid to become the most advanced nation on the planet. Slowly, derivative Aether-based technologies began to find their way into the hands of other nations, first illicitly, and then through open trade—although the secrets of the Aether-weapons remained a closely guarded secret. France’s immediate neighbours felt the economic squeeze most keenly and, fearing the return of the French Empire, dared do nothing to anger Napoleon III. The rulers of Spain and Portugal abdicated and fled into self-imposed exile in South America, leaving France no option but to assume rulership of a dispossessed people, hostile to their every move. Prussia, a proud and militaristic state under King Frederick William IV, began to plot the downfall of France, coveting their remarkable weapons for themselves. Great Britain, meanwhile, concentrated on unlocking the secrets of Aether for itself, resentful of the restrictions that France placed on international commerce and its long-standing naval dominance.

More to come tomorrow and every day for the rest of the week.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Over the last few months I've been musing over and planning out the background story and game world for my ongoing project. To compliment the miniatures that I have sculpted I wanted to create a new setting, separate from traditional Victorian Scifi and still different from the newer and established steampunk settings. So with the the concepts and story all set out I decided to approach a professional writer to coalesce my imaginings into a solid backstory. Mark Latham has done a marvellous job for translating my ideas, approaching the subject matter with great enthusiasm. I'll be publishing the backstory over the next week starting tomorrow. I hope everyone that decides to follow it enjoys what we have created. The next stage is the continued development and playtesting of the Steam and Aether ruleset, if you want to stay abreast of what I've got coming then please follow the blog and I'll keep you all updated.

Many thanks

Andrew May

Mark Latham is an author, editor and games designer from Staffordshire, UK. Formerly the editor of White Dwarf magazine and head of Warhammer 40,000 for Games Workshop, Mark is now a writer of short stories, books and tabletop games, such as Legends of the Old West, and Waterloo.

Mark has been ensconced in the worlds of science fiction and fantasy for many years, but his real passion is for history. Mark has a deep obsession with the past, especially the nineteenth century; an affliction that can only be salved by writing on the subject for far longer than can be considered healthy.

Mark’s Facebook page:
Read Mark’s blog here:
Or follow him on Twitter: @alostvictorian

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

New artwork by Des Hanley

I actually had these commissioned a while back but they ended up being finalised a little later on. Des did a fantastic job of translating my figures into images, I hope you find them inspiring, they'll be popping up again in the future.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

First batch of master castings arrives.

I'm happy to say that the first batch of master castings for my Kickstarter miniatures arrived today. It includes all of the standard troops and 75% of the head sprues. Griffin moulds did a fantastic job as ever so I'll be sending back some masters to make production moulds from while I get the greatcoated figures finished.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Full steam ahead...

Hello everyone and welcome to my project development blog. Many of you will have come here via the page for my first Kickstarter project, the project is funded and working toward fulfilment but head over and take a look if you're not familiar with my miniatures. The miniatures that are now half way to production are the first public step towards creating my own gaming system set in an alternate history of my imagining, I'll be using this blog to document the goings on that will bring that world to life. Please follow the blog and check back often if you're interested, I'll try to update at least a couple of times a week. 

That's all for my first post apart from to thank Dave Needham aka: Zhu for designing the "Steam and Aether" logo you can see at the top of the page, he was also responsible for designing the Meridian Miniatures logos for me. Whilst I'm just one person carrying out this project it's great to be able to call upon other talented folk in the gaming community to contribute towards realising my project.