Tales of the Venture Society
The World of the Venture Society
This is an early pulp setting, around 1910, give or take five to ten years. The characters are all be members of or affiliated with the Venture Society, a gentlemen’s (and ladies’) club dedicated to pushing back the frontiers of human knowledge and exploration. It’s a big world with lots of dark and unknown quarters where one might find lost cities, strange races, bizarre artifacts and dark villainy.
This campaign uses the PbP system I am playtesting, called Postal. It’s very derivative of FATE and similar, and shouldn’t be that hard to learn. Discussion about it can be found here. This is a playtest, so I welcome feedback on mechanics, or ideas to make it run better or more smoothly. Doubtless it will evolve as we play.
The State of the World
This is the state of the world at the time of the campaign. Although I don’t plan to adhere religiously to historical accuracy, this is a rough and ready guide. PCs (and their enemies) can always have the opportunity to have more cutting-edge or unique personal equipment than what is described below.
Telephones are available, but still rare in any but the homes of the affluent.Telegraph is the most likely way to get a long distance message somewhere quickly; there are no transatlantic calls. Radio is available, but not for broadcast. Most radio uses morse code, but the transmission of normal sound is beginning to catch on.
Cars are also only owned by the wealthy, as the mass-produced Model T has only been out for a few years. They do exist, but not in mass production — this is still the age of the horse. Flight is still very experimental, and the airship and the balloon are the rule of the day, perhaps more so than in real-world history. The Panama Canal has been built (a few years earlier than in our world)
Hand held automatic pistols and rifles exist. Tanks are just being invented. Hand grenades won’t be developed for a while yet, but dynamite is available. Cavalry is still a major player on the battlefield. The Great War and its rapid advances in general weaponry still lies in the future.
Photography is widely available, but still not in casual use. The gramophone is common, and aficionados may have home cylinder recording capability. Moving pictures exist, and a few theaters have appeared. Films are silent and short. the kinetoscope and similar technologies are being outmoded. The typewriter has been invented, but is not yet commonplace.
I will be intentionally vague on this point, partially to avoid the necessity of scrupulous research, and most;y because this is not really a feature of the source literature. Few pulps of the 20’s for instance would even give the reader an inkling that the worst world-wide depression in history was going on, other than occasional mention of bread lines or soup kitchens. Wilhelm is the Kaiser of Germany, Edward is the King of England. Roosevelt is the President of the US. Don’t worry about the exact year. It’s 1910-ish. Edward and Roosevelt are more colorful than George and Taft.
Colonialism is a going strong. The six major colonial powers are Great Britain, Russia, France, Germany, The United States and Japan. The latter two are only starting their colonial periods, and the protectorates and possessions of Great Britain are greater than the other five combined. Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and numerous other, primarily European, nations have many possessions as well. English and French will make you understood in most places in the world.
This is where I will play the most fast and loose from our own world. The literature of the era is filled with tales of unexplored reaches of Africa, Asia, South America and the far seas. There are countless stories of lost continents, lost cities, bizarre (non-human?) tribes, isolated plateaus, and so forth. Consider the bulk of the Non Western (i.e. Europe, The US and Russia) to be fair game for unexplored areas.
Assume the prevailing science theories of the time are accurate. Light is carried through space by the medium of the ether. Relativity is not how the universe works. Heredity is understood, but not modern genetics. No such thing as atomic power. Mars and Venus are likely candidates for life. Continents can sink or rise, but not drift.
At the same time, don’t feel hamstrung by those theories either. Life might be created by growing people in a vat. An “ether propellor” might some day take people through space. There might be materials out there with bizarre properties, like being light as cork but stronger than steel, or being able to defy gravity. Anything is possible, with a good enough SCIENCE! explanation.