The above newspaper exerts will be used in the game to announce to players the very broad sweep of events in the game, which differ from real history. The players will need this information as it underpins what happens in the next 16 years that the game is played over. Several of the articles will be background for adventures, such as the rescue of Nikola Tesla from the Black Baron.
Alternate History Edit
Nikola Tesla discovers an improved battery which substantially changes the balance between electric and petrol engines. The new battery is rechargeable and holds a greater charge the larger it gets. Its only restriction is how small it can go, which is about the same as a modern 12v car cell battery. During the war (WW1) Tesla works with Henry Ford to improve the internal combustion engine to allow better performance, which allows better zeppelins and better aircraft. Finally he will develop the IonJet engine around 1930 (perfected around 1934) which will allow RocketPacks and IonJet planes.
Prof Eccles (an english mad scientist) will develop an improved U-Boat by the end of the war but will sabotage the British development of this program, whilst leaking secrets to the Germans. The Black Baron will steal most of this technology when he leaves Germany. Prof Eccles will also work on various other weapon related advances, such as the sonic ray-gun.
In Nov 1918 the Germans will accept an armistice, ending the fighting on the western front, but they do not go on to sign the Treaty of Versailles which formally ends the war. Instead the Kaiser will abdicate and a military junta of top generals will take control of Germany. The German army in the west will withdraw and set up a new defensive line to be known as the Siegfried Line. Marshal law is declared in Germany and unrest is ruthlessly oppressed. As such WW1 does not end, it merely bogs down into a stalemate with the Germans unable to mount any new offensives, and the allies lacking the will power to finish them off. The United States will also quickly turn away from the european powers when it becomes obvious that England and France will have nothing to do with President Wilson's peace plan, which the germans are willing to accept.
In early 1919 the ex-Kaiser Wilhelm will flee germany with a loyal group of military and scientific personnel. He will take with him all of Germany's remaining zeppelin fleet and all of their proto-type u-boats developed from the leaked plans of Prof Eccles. They will also take with them a large share of the germany gold store to fund their coming endeavours. Kaiser Wilhelm will rename himself the Black Baron and the zeppelin fleet will secretly travel to England to pick up more followers there, and then onto the Azores Islands. Here they will take control, secretly at first, and begin the construction of a underground base. Apart from the Azores isolation, it also dominates the north atlantic, and the German's had also secretly identified that there were large supplies of helium under the island. Over the coming year a steady stream of German and English personnel will join them, boosting their numbers.
The Black Baron will develop zeppelin and u-boat technology considerably in advance of the rest of the world. They will also kidnap Tesla and put him to work, plus they will still be getting leaked reports from Prof Eccles. Once safely established in the Azores they will start pirating selected merchant ships from the north atlantic to gain raw supplies. Eventually they will become the Federation of the Air (FOTA), declaring themselves a new nation.
Zeppelin's will play a huge role in the story line, dominating the air and suppressing the development of heavier than air craft. Many of the problems inherent in zeppelins will be solved by the Black Baron and his scientists over the next 10 years. Larger zeppelins (able to lift more than a 1,000,000 kg), and zeppelin aircraft carriers will eventually appear to ensure the security of the Azores base. Whilst the rest of the world tries to catch up the zeppelins will dominate the world naval forces in a similar manner to how aircraft carriers will during WW2. HG Wells "War in the Air" will become a reality.
Germany will remain under the rule of the Junta until the early 1930's, when the National Socialists will promote a revolution and take control. WW1 will never officially end and Hitler will be able to use this to perpetrate his plans even earlier than he did historically, although some of the adventures of the players may alter the times lines here. Germany will take control of a large portion the Austria-Hungary Empire (Austria will surrender in 1918) and incorporate it into the Greater Germany much earlier than Hitler did. Russia will make a pact with the Junta similar to the one that Stalin makes with Hitler, giving Russia back most of its lost lands in return for peace and resources to fuel the german economy. The Iron Curtain will become the Iron Wall of the Siegfried Line, a german version of the Maginot Line, but done properly along the Rhine River. Holland and Belgium will be absorbed into Greater Germany.
The Great Depression of 1929 will still occur, but should be moved around so the players can't be sure when it will happen, anytime between 1928 and 1930.
America will turn isolationist right from the end of WW1, especially resenting the English and the French for their treatment of Wilson. All american troops will leave europe by the end of 1919.
The initial run of adventures will end around 1936-39, whenever WW2 would have broken out. At this point the aliens will make contact with all the earth governments and offer them space travel technology. This will prevent WW2 from happening. The game will shift 15 years into the future and will use the RocketShip Empires story line. In this the pre-WW2 nations will move into space and set up space empires (with space Nazi's). The players will re-invent themselves and become characters in the space saga (ala Spirit of the Century rules that players stop aging at some point).