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Author Topic: Origin Story and Beyond?  (Read 1196 times)
Mme. Ratchet
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« on: May 24, 2016, 11:31:08 pm »

So I'm thinking about writing an origin story for my character, mostly for fun. I have a general idea, but I'd really like to sit and try to write a story about her. I think it would be a very interesting experience, and it could possibly move further on in to her exploits as a privateer in the employ of her royal majesty Queen Victoria, sailing in the orient and East Africa with her loyal crew and ban of fierce Gurkha mercenaries. Would there be any interest in reading such a story? If you all want, I can post the general idea I have to help give a rough outline of the character.
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« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2016, 12:31:55 am »

We're waiting and watching...

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Captain Trellis
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« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2016, 12:40:29 am »

I do enjoy a good origin story and a lady privateer sailing with a band of Gurkha mercenaries is definitely original.

My interest is piqued.
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Mme. Ratchet
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« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2016, 01:13:46 am »

Well, since there's some interest, I'll tease you all a little bit more, if you'll indulge me.

So, the general idea I am working with is that of a young girl of 17 years, who grew up on the Texas frontier at the outbreak of the American Civil War. Only months after the firing on Ft. Sumter, feeling incredibly loyal to her state and its decision to secede from the union, she disguised herself as a man and enlisted in the Confederate Army, and was a part of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. In 1863, she was ordered to a guard position considered to be low risk, where she was guarding a Confederate Ironclad project, the CSS Frontier. The project and its surrounding encampment were attacked by the Union Army of the Potomac, and in a haste, she took charge of the defense, and ultimately fled aboard the then complete, but comparitively un-armed CSS Frontier, along with many others. Sneaking away as best as she could with an Ironclad warship, she made her way down the southern coast, but could find no way to get past the Union Blockade, and so decided to sail to Canada, where they took provisions and sailed for England. In 1865, weeks after Lee's surrender, they appealed to Queen Victoria for a letter of marque, and somehow miraculously received it, with orders to have the ship dis-mantled and to take command of a new British ironclad, and that they would receive their orders directly from the Queen herself.

Later on, many of the crew's fighting men were massacred in a land battle against unruly tribesman in the Indian sub-continent, and she decided to take on two platoons (60 men) of Gurkha volunteers, paid at a rate of 75 pounds a month, to continue to fight for the Queen of England. In 1907, she finally retired from military life with a generous pension in the North of Scotland.

So there you go, that's the general idea of the character's story.
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« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2016, 01:08:52 pm »

You may wish to research pay scales in the time period you're writing about. Using online calculators, currently 75 pounds equals $110.11*, which in 1870 would have been equal, in 2016, to $1,925.25. Multiplied by 60 men, that's a monthly payroll of $115,515. I'll grant this is in no way my field of expertise, but that sounds like extremely good pay for a soldier of the period. But, if your privateering is really that profitable...

Additionally, by the historical time period you're working in, privateering was, for all intent and purposes, outlawed by the Paris Declaration Respecting Maritime Law of 1856, with the United Kingdom as a signatory. However, you are allowed to change real-world history in your own world-building.

Looking forward to see how this turns out.



*I don't know if there are any online tools for calculating the value of the pound to the dollar in 1870 (or whatever previous year strikes your fancy), as I haven't looked...yet.
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Mme. Ratchet
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« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2016, 04:09:02 pm »

Yeah, I had looked in to the privateering things at the time before. Since existing would be blatant disregard to that law, the easiest method is for it to simply not exist, so that's what I've gone with.

As far as pay, considering the reputation that the Gurkhas have, and that they are mercenaries rather than proper soldiers in the employ of the crown, I figured it would make sense for them to be paid significantly more than what an ordinary soldier might expect.
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RJBowman
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« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2016, 05:32:42 pm »

Better still: privateering is illegal, the group works for the crown but are considered outlaws by the world, and the crown will disavow any knowledge if the group is ever captured.
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Mme. Ratchet
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« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2016, 05:51:47 pm »

I like that, too!
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« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2016, 10:33:41 pm »

Steampunk IMF!

"This wax cylinder will self-destruct in five seconds."
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Cora Courcelle
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« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2016, 11:41:07 am »

Do they have a secret landbase for re-supply?  Perhaps an island somewhere or maybe a Cloudbase? (IMF meets Captain Scarlet .......)
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Mme. Ratchet
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« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2016, 02:47:17 pm »

Typcally, upon making port in areas of operation, stock of supplies is taken and fresh supplies are taken on-board.
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CPT_J_Percell
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« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2016, 06:45:24 pm »

£75 per months what are they, lords of the realm?
Yes, recheck your pay,
seamen would be earning on average 15s (£1.80p) to 16s 4d (£2.08p) pcm
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Mme. Ratchet
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« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2016, 08:28:28 pm »

Honestly, I just sort of pulled a number out of the air.
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Cora Courcelle
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« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2016, 08:31:37 pm »

Trouble is, are they going to be happy to take a reduction in pay?  You don't want a mutiny on your hands ...
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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2016, 08:50:50 am »


*snip*

 Sneaking away as best as she could with an Ironclad warship, she made her way down the southern coast, but could find no way to get past the Union Blockade, and so decided to sail to Canada, where they took provisions and sailed for England. In 1865, weeks after Lee's surrender, they appealed to Queen Victoria for a letter of marque, and somehow miraculously received it, with orders to have the ship dis-mantled and to take command of a new British ironclad, and that they would receive their orders directly from the Queen herself.

*snip*



It seems to me the US Civil War period tends to wake up the imagination of American Steampunks, and in particular you seem to have chosen the same period to start the story as your heroine begins her adventure as a result from the US Civil War.

One thing you need to consider is the perceived sympathy for the Confederate cause in the Port of Southampton... Seems to me to be a perfect landing / destination for the ironclad. Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston was a strong sympathizer of the Confederate States, but while the upper classes favoured the South, the lower classes favoured the Union. In the End Britain declared itself neutral, and the CS, US and Britain had to abide by certain rules of engagement between ships.

British Sympathy for the South:

http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/civil-war/1862/may/british-confederacy.htm

http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/38202

Details on the blockade:

https://history.state.gov/milestones/1861-1865/blockade

What is the motivation for dismantling the Ironclad?  To keep it secret from the US (and hence any sticky political entanglements?)

Policy and diplomacy between European powers and the US and CS States in America.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diplomacy_of_the_American_Civil_War

I wonder about the capability of the ironclad to move at speed and distance, noting the extra weight of the armour on the ship. It seems to me that the ironclad should have a higher level of technology than we hear about when we read about real-history ironclads. In that case, it's a shame to dispose of the ironclad.

Here's an interesting article on Confederate Blockade Runners
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockade_runners_of_the_American_Civil_War

Confederate Blockade Runner "Advance"


« Last Edit: May 29, 2016, 10:44:25 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged

J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2016, 10:14:35 am »

That period above is the same as that for my introduction of Captn. (eventually Admiral) Johannes Wilhelm and the Austrian(?) Luftshiffengel "inter-gender" character (who incidentally still has no name).

Drafting an origin story is a daunting process. To be honest I shied away from creating a plot from the get go, because 1) I never have time to sit down and write for hours on end, and 2) I feel like I'm jumping into a void when I dive into writing, and I'm going to force my characters through impossible plot lines that I will have to dis-entangle later on.

Instead, I'm very much taking the back door approach, used by JRR Tolkien, where I create the universe around the characters first, without any time table or pressure for me to develop a plot, and the actual plot will eventually and necessarily develop from that universe as it "unfolds." That is, the main characters are just following the sequence of events.

Frankly, right now I'm just concentrating on the alternate historical background that fit my interests first, namely the Mexican Maximilian Period which overlaps with the US Civil War Period. My penchant for amateur history is doing all the heavy lifting for me right now. This approach also helps me keep all the historical details straight, and the plot just "drops" from the possibilities in the timeline.

So far I have populated my universe with two main characters who start from opposing sides and eventually find themselves in the same place, but as I developed the back story I could find the "excuse" to develop the characters and their story.

Admiral Wilhelm's origin story follows his immigration from Germany, possibly as a child, and involves military service on the side of the US Union (US) after Cesession from the Southern States and the start of hostilities (Civil War) as we all know it. The character has strong engineering and science aptitudes, but his sense of adventure gets the better of him during his youth. Eventually he'd become a high ranking Science Officer serving the US Armed Forces.

Closer toward the real history end of the Civil War proper, the turn of the alternate timeline happens during a failed assassination attempt on President Lincoln after secret agents sent by President-in-exile Benito Juarez alert the Americans of the plot, which was arranged by Emperor Maximilian during a Mexican diplomatic visit.

As it happened in real history, Emperor Maximilian is an Austrian Hapsburg prince who was offered the Mexican crown by Napoleon III from France and was accepted by the Mexican nobility, as having a legitimate claim of the crown by way of the 1500's inheritance from Charles V and Philip II when the Spain with the New Spain and the Austrian Empire were joined (again this is all real history).

~ ~ ~

So you set the stage for the second character to come in.  The so far unnamed Lufschiffengel, was an Austrian engineering crew serving on a CS/Austrian airship (eventually the CSAA Alamo), and zirs* presence on the airship is the result of a diaspora of "Engelfolk," or "Angel People" who mostly come from Southern Germany and Austria and Switzerland (thank you for the latter Mr. Atterton), namely regions with a significant Catholic presence.

The Engelfolk are a "third gender" or "inter-gender" people, who I presume to be traditionally incorporated to the region's Germanic society since antiquity (fictitious plot). For literary purposes, I envision these Engelfolk to vaguely resemble elves in fantasy stories, except that these are real human beings instead of fantastical creatures.

These Engelfolk are tolerated by the Catholic Church on condition of life-long celibacy and separation from "sexed people." But when the Northern German States, and Prussia, who are predominantly protestant, start to have a greater influence in the politics of the various German Republics (several incarnations of it - this is real life history), then these Engelfolk become persecuted by Lutheran politicians (adaptation of real life history into a fictitious plot).

This persecution results in a diaspora for the Engelfolk, but naturally there is an escape route for these people (I need to re-read real world history related to diaspora in other time periods).

Having the unusual combination of being acclimated to cold thin-air environments, as well as having a low fear of heights, and also having stereotypically female attributes, such as finesse, light weight, flexibility, and multitasking, and combining with males attributes, such as strength, mental focus, and tolerance for pain, these "Angel People" become a valued sought-after type of crew.  This means that many Engelfolk end up in the service of Airship forces throughout Europe, and typically end up in engineering and maintenance positions.

Their role in aeronautical engineering eventually will lead these Engelfolk to be known as "Airship Angels" or Luftschiffengel. With the passing of time, the Luftschiffengel will form a global secret society dedicated to the their own protection as well as the development of the aeronautical sciences, which will be known as the "Angel Guild," or simply "The Guild." (For those of you who know what I'm talking about, do you see what I'm doing here? I'm setting myself up for the far future Wink

~ ~ ~

In the meantime, the failed Lincoln assassination attempt results in an expansion of the war into Mexico. France and Austria ally with the Confederate States (CS), into an "Axis," effectively turning the tide of the war in the favour of the CS side.

The tide is turned mainly through the use of massive Austrian airship fleets over the Confederate territory and the unincorporated territories of the American West, and also by way of French ground troops massing along the US Mexico border. The Mexican Empire led by Emperor Maximilian (former Prince of Austria - same as in real life), have been promised the return of vast areas of the American Southwest back to Mexico in exchange for Austria's help in turning the war in favour of the Confederate States who were already desperately weak.  

Abraham Lincoln, of course, is obliged to declare war against Mexico, Austria and France. The British started the US Civil War by declaring neutrality as the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston was somewhat sympathetic to the Confederate cause.  However, seeing as France was in the mood to acquire territory, and in light of the Austrian and Confederate alliance, rather than help, a French invasion of the South could simply potentially steal away valuable cotton markets away from Britain.

At that point Lord Palmerston is "strong armed" in secret, and the British resolve to keep the French out of North America, thus breaking away from neutrality and ally with the Union (US); thereafter, the fight washes down to Mexico, by way of multiple "Pincer maneuvers" performed from both combatant sides, and which take US/UK and Austria/CS air fleets into the Sonora Desert, and possibly further south (I have not decided how ugly the war is going to get). So you now have a potential Mini World War.

And this is how our Luftchiffengel character ends up serving aboard the CSAA Alamo, and Austrian/Confederate airship, which according to my earliest notes several years ago (2009?) is a high altitude vessel capable of climbing to the lower Stratosphere (a goal that is quite achievable and being sought after in the real world today with certain technological advances).

Now, at this point, during a battle over the Sonora Desert the young Capt. Wilhelm commandeers the CSAA Alamo, and along with it we have a Lufschiffengel crew. The idea is to have the Austrian Engels be imprisoned and eventually offered freedom on condition of service aboard the captured Alamo, now re-christened the USAS Orca, which would survive the Franco American War into the Reconstruction Period and beyond. It is rather convenient that Captain Wilhelm also speaks German. You can at this point start making vague associations between The Angel Guild and the US Military.  Roll Eyes See how the plot develops naturally?

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

So you can see I'm in no hurry  Cheesy  Grin But I confess I have to start pulling it together soon.




« Last Edit: May 29, 2016, 10:34:22 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged
Mme. Ratchet
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« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2016, 07:16:36 pm »


*snip*

 Sneaking away as best as she could with an Ironclad warship, she made her way down the southern coast, but could find no way to get past the Union Blockade, and so decided to sail to Canada, where they took provisions and sailed for England. In 1865, weeks after Lee's surrender, they appealed to Queen Victoria for a letter of marque, and somehow miraculously received it, with orders to have the ship dis-mantled and to take command of a new British ironclad, and that they would receive their orders directly from the Queen herself.

*snip*



It seems to me the US Civil War period tends to wake up the imagination of American Steampunks, and in particular you seem to have chosen the same period to start the story as your heroine begins her adventure as a result from the US Civil War.

One thing you need to consider is the perceived sympathy for the Confederate cause in the Port of Southampton... Seems to me to be a perfect landing / destination for the ironclad. Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston was a strong sympathizer of the Confederate States, but while the upper classes favoured the South, the lower classes favoured the Union. In the End Britain declared itself neutral, and the CS, US and Britain had to abide by certain rules of engagement between ships.

British Sympathy for the South:

http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/civil-war/1862/may/british-confederacy.htm

http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/38202

Details on the blockade:

https://history.state.gov/milestones/1861-1865/blockade

What is the motivation for dismantling the Ironclad?  To keep it secret from the US (and hence any sticky political entanglements?)

Policy and diplomacy between European powers and the US and CS States in America.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diplomacy_of_the_American_Civil_War

I wonder about the capability of the ironclad to move at speed and distance, noting the extra weight of the armour on the ship. It seems to me that the ironclad should have a higher level of technology than we hear about when we read about real-history ironclads. In that case, it's a shame to dispose of the ironclad.

Here's an interesting article on Confederate Blockade Runners
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockade_runners_of_the_American_Civil_War

Confederate Blockade Runner "Advance"





That's quite a bit of info! Very useful! The reasoning behind having the ship dismantled is two-fold. The first reason is of course that a ship like that wouldn't be top secret and guarded and stuff if it weren't special, so naturally the British would want to dismantle it to find out what makes it special. The second reason is more political. Avoiding a brush with the US over harboring Confederate fugitives and having a Confederate ironclad (The US was already upset with them for building two ships for the Confederacy during the war) that the US knew existed and was un-accounted for would be kind of hard to explain away if caught. So the British can dispose of an international relations problem waiting to happen *and* find out what was so special about the ship at the same time!

As far as your... wall of text that I'm still reading through... I think I understand what you mean by it developing naturally from the circumstances and environment you've created. That's a neat idea.
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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2016, 08:45:12 pm »

As far as your... wall of text that I'm still reading through... I think I understand what you mean by it developing naturally from the circumstances and environment you've created. That's a neat idea.


 Grin Take your time.  Basically this is the amalgamation of all my own characters' background  Grin  I guess at some point I have to start putting this in (structured) writing. I was waiting for the background story to reach a "critical mass" so as to become a good scaffolding for a novel. I think I'm close to that.  What I could do is finish a "background plot" and then build the "subplots."

For example, I think that the Luftschiffengel character can have zis own story. There is so much background already

http://brassgoggles.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,20391.msg923528.html#msg923528
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RJBowman
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« Reply #18 on: May 29, 2016, 08:58:22 pm »

Is this a stock Ironclad ship, or is it like an Artemis Gordon ironclad?
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Mme. Ratchet
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« Reply #19 on: May 29, 2016, 10:02:13 pm »

An Artemis Gordon ironclad?
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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #20 on: May 30, 2016, 12:26:29 am »

Is this a stock Ironclad ship, or is it like an Artemis Gordon ironclad?
An Artemis Gordon ironclad?

I think Mr.  Bowman is referring to Artemus Gordon,  one of the characters in the original Wild Wild West TV show.

Quote
The Wild Wild West told the story of two Secret Service agents: the fearless and handsome James T. West (played by Robert Conrad), and Artemus Gordon (played by Ross Martin), a brilliant gadgeteer and master of disguise

The character was played the actor, Ross Martin,  who in real life was an impressive polyglot.

Quote
Martin was born Martin Rosenblatt to a Polish Jewish family in Gródek, Poland. His family emigrated to New York when he was an infant.[1] He spoke Polish, Yiddish and some Russian before learning English and later added French, Spanish and Italian to his repertoire.

Martin attended City College of New York where he graduated magna cum laude. He later earned a law degree from George Washington University.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2016, 12:33:23 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged
Mme. Ratchet
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« Reply #21 on: May 30, 2016, 01:33:45 am »

I was hoping for a photo example of what he meant by that type of ironclad...
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GCCC
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« Reply #22 on: June 01, 2016, 05:21:36 am »

Is this a stock Ironclad ship, or is it like an Artemis Gordon ironclad?
An Artemis Gordon ironclad?

I think Mr.  Bowman is referring to Artemus Gordon,  one of the characters in the original Wild Wild West TV show.

Quote
The Wild Wild West told the story of two Secret Service agents: the fearless and handsome James T. West (played by Robert Conrad), and Artemus Gordon (played by Ross Martin), a brilliant gadgeteer and master of disguise

The character was played the actor, Ross Martin,  who in real life was an impressive polyglot.

Quote
Martin was born Martin Rosenblatt to a Polish Jewish family in Gródek, Poland. His family emigrated to New York when he was an infant.[1] He spoke Polish, Yiddish and some Russian before learning English and later added French, Spanish and Italian to his repertoire.

Martin attended City College of New York where he graduated magna cum laude. He later earned a law degree from George Washington University.

He was also a classically trained violinist and an adept fencer.

I was hoping for a photo example of what he meant by that type of ironclad...

Think one full of gadgets disguised as normal, unobtrusive items. See any episode of the series featuring the train. For that matter, the movie version (otherwise horrible) has a great many such devices in a variety of different vehicles.
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Mme. Ratchet
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« Reply #23 on: June 02, 2016, 10:31:37 pm »

I see! It will likely fall in somewhere between the two.
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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #24 on: June 03, 2016, 06:34:20 am »

Where in Canada did the ironclad set anchor?  Perhaps include some sort of archaeological find along the way, or a Viking memento from in L'Anse aux Meadows?  Grin
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