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/qst/ - Quests

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It has scarcely been thirty years since Her von Graaf unveiled the miraculous Archimedean Apparatus, changing the world overnight. A device founded upon the arcane principles of Alchymy, able to generate lift "by displacing the aether from the dimensional interstitium" - and a lot more fancy words you aren't nearly educated enough to understand. But, you've seen yourself the massive ironclad airships powered by this apparatus. Enormous hunks of wood and metal, floating in the air, emitting huge stacks of black smoke as they plod along through the sky.

The Commonwealth - your birhtplace - whose vast riches are owed to centuries of maritime dominance, has been slow to adapt. Centuries of naval tradition have taken their toll, an error that could cost the great trade empire greatly. All over the Continent, merchant fleets of Archimedean-lifted, steam powered airships are popping up, undermining the supremacy of the once mighty trade empires, and throwing the economies of the entire Continent - and indeed, the entire Old World - into turmoil.

Though The Royal Navy, with all its traditions and lustre, guarded the shores of the Commonwealth for centuries from foreign invaders, its time seems to be coming to an end. Instead, the hour of the airship has arrived.

And yet here you are, enlisted in His Majesty Royal Navy, for nigh on eight years now. You can't help but feel a bit like the butt of a cosmick joke.

You are:
> A scion of a long line of naval officers. Your carreer in the Navy has always been a foregone conclusion, decided at your birth.
> A Gentleman of good Standing. You took a naval commission because it was a suitable carreer for a man of your skills and your station - or so it seemed at the time.
> the second son to a Peer of the Realm. The Navy is to you little more than a stepping stone to a future political carreer.
>> A scion of a long line of naval officers. Your carreer in the Navy has always been a foregone conclusion, decided at your birth.
>> the second son to a Peer of the Realm. The Navy is to you little more than a stepping stone to a future political carreer.
>> A scion of a long line of naval officers. Your carreer in the Navy has always been a foregone conclusion, decided at your birth.
>> A scion of a long line of naval officers. Your carreer in the Navy has always been a foregone conclusion, decided at your birth.
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You are a scion of a long line of naval officers. Your carreer in the Navy has been a foregone conclusion, decided at your birth by your father, who was a decorated captain, as was his father before him.

But of course, they served on ships from a previous age - wooden ships of sail. You knew what a mizzen sail was before you were taught letters. You did not so much read as breathe the histories and romances of the great maritime heroes. You could name every constellation of the night sky. You know every nook and cranny of the continental shoreline, every ridge and shallow marked on the enormous maritime map that was framed in your father's study. And, thanks to your father's influence, you were apprenticed to a ship of the line, the Troubadour at, the age of thirteen.

When your father died, two years ago, the funeral hall was filled to the brim with retired, old men, whose medals were polished but whose uniforms were dusty, whose hats were just ever so slightly frayed, and who still spoke of the old glories of service.

Of course, you had your share of naval action - for the Commonwealth Navy, the war had been going on for half a century. The only thing that changed was the flag of the belligerents. Sometimes it was the gold-on-white of the Vierre monarchists. Sometimes it was the red-on-green dragon of the Union of Domingo. At other times, the Colonies would rise up in rebellion again.

You take a letter out of your pocket. You already know the contents by heart, but you hope beyond hope that by looking at it enough times you will somehow change its contents.

It is addressed to you, Lieutenant ____

(we are rolling for name in the next post)
Make a d20 roll to decide on the tables below.
First to roll decides the first name:
19.SPECIAL - QM rerolls for a Greek mythology name
20.SPECIAL - secret sauce (QM rerolls)

Second to roll decides the family name:
20. SPECIAL - QM rerolls on a different table
Rolled 13 (1d20)

Rolled 19 (1d20)

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The letter is addressed to one Lieutenant Walter Glenister, of His Majesty's Royal Navy.

An average name, perhaps, but a name that has some pull in the Naval ranks. A name you hope you did well by, in the preceding eight years of loyal service.

You unfurl the letter and read its contents once more, just in case:

"By the Commissioners for Executing the Office of Lord High Admiral of the Commonwealth of Escott, Hadria, and Aecumenic Isles

To Mr. Walter Glenister, Lieutenant, HMRN

Given under our hands and the Seal of the Office of Admiralty this 16th day of Prairial, year 812 of the Aecumenic Calendar, in the 7th Year of His Majesty's Reign.

We hereby inform you that your Petition for Absolution of your Commission and subsequent Appointment into the Ranks of His Majesty's Royal Air Wing has been DENIED after much Deliberation.

With Seniority of Lord Admiral Talbott
Your would never, of course, have posted the request for transfer while your father was alive. He would probably have an apoplectic fit. But you hoped that where ever he was now, you were outside of his wrath's reach. But surely, even his shade would understand it was better to serve one's king and country aboard a ship - any ship, even a one that traverses on air - than to waste one's time endlessly stranded ashore?

Surely, they said at the Admiralty, a man of your lineage and performance record could expect a posting as soon as a new ship was commissioned.

The problem was, the Navy was de-comissioning ships left and right. Why wouldn't they? The bell tolled for the wet navies the moment the first airship lifted off the ground. An airship can do everything a navy ship can do, and much more.

Once again you ask yourself whether you unknowingly offended some influential commodore or admiral in the course of your service. Ever since the Fearless was unceremoniously sunk by a Frog airship off the coast of Eire, you've been languishing on half pay.

You tried your best to not sit idle, however. For the better part of the year, you've

> been practicing your swordplay, mindful of that time the Frog from that frigate you boarded nearly took your eye
> taken to hunting with the family's musket, and practiced with the pistol for good measure
> operated your private sailboat in the Gulf almost daily, so that your sea legs remember their place.
> spent most of your time in officers' club and parlors, playing cards and socializing. Not terribly martial, but a vital skill nonetheless, now that your father is no longer there to pull the strings.
> other (write in)
>> spent most of your time in officers' club and parlors, playing cards and socializing. Not terribly martial, but a vital skill nonetheless, now that your father is no longer there to pull the strings.
>spent most of your time in officers' club and parlors, playing cards and socializing. Not terribly martial, but a vital skill nonetheless, now that your father is no longer there to pull the strings.
Rolled 5, 6, 4 = 15 (3d6)

(Playing cards can quickly become a very expensive passtime indeed. Since you are a man of moderate means, and you were on half pay, let's see how well the cards treated you in this period. Higher is better.)
>spent most of your time in officers' club and parlors, playing cards and socializing. Not terribly martial, but a vital skill nonetheless, now that your father is no longer there to pull the strings.
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You tried your best to not sit idle, however. For the better part of the year, you've spent most of your time in officers' clubs and parlors, playing cards and socializing. Not terribly martial, but a vital skill nonetheless, now that your father is no longer there to pull the strings.

Your presence at the clubs was, at least initially, to catch the ear of a sufficiently senior officer, most ideally a captain in need of a Lieutenant (from either the Navy or the Air Wing - either would do fine by you). Just percolating in high society would have various benefits for you, long-term. Friendships went a long way in an officer's carreer.

However, you immediately discovered that you had the Devil's own luck when it came to the card-table. Or perhaps it was not luck. Whist is, after all, a game of probability and wits, not blind chance. All that fiddling about with the sextant and the cosine tables in your youth must have given you at least some edge. Soon, you turned your penchant for calculation into veritable profit. Perhaps it would be different if you were of a more genteel lineage, but for a naval man of modest means, stuck on half-pay for months, the winnings became your primary mode of income. Soon you forgot all about your initial motivation for frequenting the clubs, and the cards became a means unto themselves.

Soft murmurs and music reach your ears. Someone must have opened the door to the terrace. You snap out of your trance, sigh, take a deep breath of the fresh air, and put the letter back into your pocket. You turn around and walk back into the stuffy room of the Caledonian club, where you have spent every last friday evening over the past several months.
The room is thick with smoke and gossip. The evening is still young, but brandy has been passed around for a while. People are in good humour. At least half of the uniforms you see are the gaudy, sky-blue of the Royal Air Wing. You scoff. The Caledonian club used to be reserved for naval officers. Yet another way your branch is becoming obsolete.

"Walter! I was wondering where you went!" you hear a familiar voice. "Your timing is forunate. We are in need of a fourth."

It was Lieutenant Kenneth, one of your oldest friends from the Navy. You were midshipmen together, back on the Troubadour, and that counts for a lot, though the carreer has taken you to wildly different places.

He is sitting at a card table, and pointing to an empty seat. You do not recognize the two other gentlemen. One of them is clearly a civilian, the other one wearing the red uniform of Her Majesty's Guards. You prefer taking money from the puffed-up sparrows - a derrogatory term your service coined up for the members of the Air Fleet - but infantrymen will do just as well.

The civilian spoke first. He was a man in his early fifties, with graying moustache, golden spectacles, and clean, expensive clothes that did not fit him all too well.

"Most fortunate indeed", says the man. "If young Mr. Kenneth commands his broadsides with half the ruthlessness he displays at the card-table, I can't but wonder why we haven't won the bloody war by now."
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You outstretch your hand "I do not believe I've had the pleasure, Mister..."

"Hamilton, Professor Hamilton, of the Imperial University. And this is Sir Sebastian Webber--" you shake hands briefly with both men as you are introduced. - "of the Royal Marines."

"Guards", says Webber, correcting the professor. "105th Rifle Guards. You will learn to forgive the good Professor, I hope. I am quite sure, if His Majesty's troops were species of insects, he would never once misclassify them."

His accent is high-class, probably from Eire. You are in the presence of nobility. Though the name Webber doesn't really mean anything to you - but then, you never kept up with the heraldry. The Commonwealth is a large place.

"Lieutenant Glenister, at your service."

Of course, you accept the invitation - you can't but be intrigued by the presence of these two --characters is the only word that comes to mind. It almost seems unsporting to take their money. You are a firm believer in fair warning, so you say:

"I should warn you, Professor, Lieutenant, that I am a bit of a card player myself. I can't say I've had anything better to do over the past several months, you see."

"That is perfectly fine. Any losses we incur this evening we'll consider fair price, to share the table with the son of Captain Glenister", said Webber.

"You knew my father?"

"Sadly, I can't say I've had the honour. I serve under a gentleman who did."

He says no more, and you do not press him. There is plenty of time to talk this evening.

"Well, then, gentlemen, shall we start?"
The cards are dealt, and the evening moves on. You decide to tune out of the game - you've had plenty of good fortune recently, and do not really need to stoop so low as to fleece professors - so you turn to conversation, which your friend Kenneth and your two new acquaintances are more than happy to offer.

The discussion meanders, from politics, to war, to courtly gossip, to tales of sea-monsters. When it is your turn to deal:

> Sir Webber appears to have a fine eye for politics; ask him about the tensions with the Hanseatic League
> Ask Kenneth how the war with the Frogs is going for those fortunate enough to still serve on a ship.
> The professor seems to be highly keen on discussing new species of gigantic molluscs that washed ashore in the colonies.
> (other)
>> Sir Webber appears to have a fine eye for politics; ask him about the tensions with the Hanseatic League
>> Sir Webber appears to have a fine eye for politics; ask him about the tensions with the Hanseatic League
>> The professor seems to be highly keen on discussing new species of gigantic molluscs that washed ashore in the colonies.
>Sir Webber appears to have a fine eye for politics; ask him about the tensions with the Hanseatic League
> Sir Webber appears to have a fine eye for politics; ask him about the tensions with the Hanseatic League
>> Ask Kenneth how the war with the Frogs is going for those fortunate enough to still serve on a ship.
"You will forgive a sailor for asking, but most of what we hear about the international situation comes from the Chronicle. You seem a well-informed man, Sir Webber - what do you make of this recent business with the League? Trade blockades? Quite bold."

"As if the bloody Frogs weren't enough already," Kenneth chimes in.

"Indeed", says Sir Webber. "I do have a few contacts in the Foreign office, but I wager they don't know much more than we do at this table. The League has become increasingly... difficult to read in the latter years. It's the blasted Archimedean Apparatus--"

"Sir Webber!" exclaimed Professor Hamilton.

"Fret not, my dear professor, I've nothing against the technologickal advancement itself. I am more concerned about the Krauts wielding it. It really gave them a hand up. We were most lax in adapting, and now we are paying the price. Economically, yes... but perhaps also militarily. Everything we know about supply lines, projection of power... gone, overnight."

He continued: "I've had the good fortune of serving in Al Avraam during the rebellion of '09. The League deployed a full wing of their airships. The size of the Luftflotte... it has to be seen to be believed, Mr Glenister. "

"And this business with their friendly relations with Altmark, and the transcontinental railway they are building... they are one unification away from electing a bloody Kaiser. Nobody wants the repeat of the VII century."
"It is my opinion, for what that's worth, that the blockade they are imposing on our trade with the Orient is merely a show of force to extract some other diplomatic benefit. They will negotiate it away at the next summit, in exchange for what they really want. For some reason they've been sniffing around the Avicenes."

You know of the Avicenes, of course. A small set of independent islands in the Atlantean ring. Some plantations, but nothing that is worth provoking the wrath of the mighty Albion.

"They are conveniently placed a quarter of the way to the Western hemisphwere. Perhaps they want a convenient port - or an airship resupply depot?"

"Your guess is as good as anyone's, Mister Glenister. What's more worrying is that we know they are trying to do something, but we can't understand what. The Foreign Office was already caught flatfooted once with the introduction of the Archimedean. Our Air Wing is still paying royalties on the patent, for Gods' sake!"

"If nothing else, one saving grace is that they cannot afford a war with the Commonwealth at this time. If for no other reason than that Republican Vierre is our ally, and it is positioned to strike at the league's breadbasket in Karlstein."

"Which is yet another reason we must not allow the Royalists of Vierre to win the civil war."

"Personally", says Kenneth, "I would not trust a Frog as far as I can throw one."

Sir Webber's response is somewhat sharper than usual: "Surely, Mr. Kenneth, you can appreciate that Republican Frogs, as you call them, are the only thing holding Viscompte Herraud and the rest of the Royalists on his side of the channel."


There is a silence across the table, as you take the last trump card. You attempt to diffuse the situation by turning to professor Hamilton:

"Now, Professor, do tell me more about those molluscs."

The naturalist's eyes gleam.

"Forgive me, gentlemen, that I do not indulge much in this talk about petty politics, when one of the greatest scientific discoveries of the IX century is staring us right in the face! I have written several treatises on Lydian megafauna over the years, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be so decisively vindicated against those buffoons from the University of Hofgarten, when --"

It goes on for a while.
>"Which is yet another reason we must not allow the Royalists of Vierre to win the civil war."
This is going to come back and bite us in the ass later isn't it?
You have the feeling that the good Professor would go on about cephalopods until the Sun rose again. It is quite endearing, even though you do not recognize half the words.

A sharp voice rings out, somewhere from behind, none too subtle.
"I didn't realize you were still allowed at card tables in decent establishments, Mister Glenister."
The discussion at the table dies. You don't even bother turning around. The voice is, sadly, familiar to you, and the man behind it as well. In fact, you were fond of this club precisely because he had yet to sniff it out. Your fortune appears to have finally run out.

It was Somersley, because of course it would be. You and he had a ... history, one might say. Well, you must grudgingly admit, the rivalry was not entirely one-sided, or without cause. Somersley single-handedly renovated your stables, though not willfully, but through the fortunes of the card-table. Also, a woman was involved, as they often are, and then he accused you of cheating at cards, and one thing lead to another...

> "Does the Air Wing not teach manners, Mister Somersley? I am minding my own business with friends. Please kindly move along."
> We already had a discussion regarding my handling of cards once, Mister Somersley. It didn't end so well for you, if I recall."
> "And I didn't realize you were still not embarrassed to show your face in good company, Mister Somersley."
> (ignore him)
> (write-in a response)
>"And I didn't realize you were still not embarrassed to show your face in good company, Mister Somersley."
>> We already had a discussion regarding my handling of cards once, Mister Somersley. It didn't end so well for you, if I recall."
>We already had a discussion regarding my handling of cards once, Mister Somersley. It didn't end so well for you, if I recall."
>> "And I didn't realize you were still not embarrassed to show your face in good company, Mister Somersley."
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I'll wait for a tiebreaker, since I can't really find a way to reconcile the two options.
>"And I didn't realize you were still not embarrassed to show your face in good company, Mister Somersley."
I'm guessing the other choice means a duel
>"And I didn't realize you were still not embarrassed to show your face in good company, Mister Somersley."
>> "And I didn't realize you were still not embarrassed to show your face in good company, Mister Somersley."
[spoilerIf anything, giving insult, even in return for an insult, is closer to giving fresh cause I will also respect the spirit of your vote, since the player character shouldn't suffer just because the QM is a hack.[/spoiler]
Clear win. Writing now.
Without turning around, without so much as skipping a beat, while shuffling the deck, you say:
"And I didn't realize you were still not embarrassed to show your face in good company, Mister Somersley."

As you utter the words, you realized it's not the prettiest sentence ever spun in His Majesty's language, but Somersley gets under your skin that way. It's an insult - a brazen one, but then, he provoked you first. You have witnesses. His voice is suddenly colder, more focused. You make a conscious effort not to flinch. There is nothing this man can do to raise your heckles.

"Would you care repeating that insult, Mister Glenister? So that everyone could hear?"

In for a penny, in for a crown. You have guests, so perhaps a more diplomatic choice would work better. You wouldn't know. The only diplomacy you ever partook in was the kind enforced by broadsides.

"You heard me, Sir. I at least, should be embarrassed to show my face, were I in your shoes."

His hand drops onto your shoulder, and in a flash you stand up. You are of the exact same height as your accoster. If ever there was a face in His Majesty's service that needed a good punching, it is standing now inches to the front of you. You can smell brandy, which does explain a bit of the situation to you. The calculating bit of you can't help but think that Somersley could ill-afford an incident, unlike you at this point. What are they going to do, put you on half-pay?

You are suddenly aware that the room has grown more silent. At this point, Somersley is flanked by two officers in Air Wing sky blues. Whereas, it's only Kenneth by your side.

Good. Seems like a fair fight.
This shouldn't really be happening. You have him, in all the ways that matter. It reflects ill upon Somersley to bring up the very same charge that resulted in a duel last time, a duel which was resolved to your advantage, though without serious injury.

But he is a second son of a Peer of the Realm. And you? A lieutenant with a naval tradition, and nothing more. For this reason, you are just standing there, waiting. You will not throw the first punch. You cannot afford that. The rules are not the same for the two of you. They never will be.

That letter from the Admiralty suddenly starts chafing in your pocket. You'd dismissed the thought before - Lord Somersley would need to have a long arm indeed, to be able to outweigh the reputation you earned for yourself - but it was not outside the realm of possibility.

Kenneth decides to break the tension somewhat: "Hey, Walter. You need help with this sparrow?"

Somersley doesn't break eye contact. "I do not believe I've had the pleasure, Mister..." His voice is more a hiss. You can feel a drop of brandy-infused spittle land on your face.

"Kenneth. Lieutenant, HMS Pelagius."

"Somersley. First Lieutenant, HMA Grand Victoria. I have no business with you, Mister Kenneth."

"No, but your callous remarks regarding His Majesty's Royal Navy make it my business, Sir."

"I did not insult the Royal Navy, Sir."

"You insult one of her decorated lieutenants, and a man for whose character I personally vouch."

"I will gladly give any satisfaction you require, Sir. But I would prefer you let Mister Glenister fight his own battles."

An inter-service incident is one thing - those are frequent, and nothing wrong with a bit of sport, anyway. But the fool is drunk, and Kenneth could be dragged into a mess of your own making.

> "Mister Somersley, aren't you tired of this dance? The Grand Victoria is a most prestigious post. Whatever grudge you bear against me couldn't possibly be worth jeopardizing that."
> "Mister Somersley, I will not let my evening be ruined. Either demand the damn duel already, or let me enjoy my cards in peace, Sir."
> "I wonder if you would be so reckless were you not surrounded by allies, and shielded by the reach of your Lord father."
> (other - write in)
>> "I wonder if you would be so reckless were you not surrounded by allies, and shielded by the reach of your Lord father."
>Either ask for the duel, or slink off back to your glorified hot air balloon. Or are you nothing but hot air yourself? Your lord father must tire of covering for your drunken escapades, and this treatment is hardly fair to your friends in waiting.
>"I wonder if you would be so reckless were you not surrounded by allies, and shielded by the reach of your Lord father."
>> "Mister Somersley, I will not let my evening be ruined. Either demand the damn duel already, or let me enjoy my cards in peace, Sir."
>Mister Somersley, I will not let my evening be ruined. Either demand the damn duel already, or let me enjoy my cards in peace, Sir."
Solid write-in, but I feel it would be disingenuous to have it tiebreak in favour of "I will not let my evening...". So we are still tied, unless you want to amend your vote.

Rule of thumb is that I wait one hour, unless there is a clear winner (which also depends on the number of players)
> "Mister Somersley, I will not let my evening be ruined. Either demand the damn duel already, or let me enjoy my cards in peace, Sir."
>> "Mister Somersley, I will not let my evening be ruined. Either demand the damn duel already, or let me enjoy my cards in peace, Sir."
Alright, writing
"Mister Somersley, I will not let my evening be ruined. Either demand the damn duel already, or let me enjoy my cards in peace, Sir." The tired note in your voice is not an affectation - you truly wish for this to be over, one way or the other.

And also, you think to yourself, if he does issue any challenges, we can arrange it at dawn, when he will be too hungover to do any real damage.

"Nothing would give me greater satisfaction to even the score, but - have you been living under a rock, man?" To his credit, Somersley's sneer gives off an air of genuine puzzlement. "Members of the Air Wing have been barred from issuing or accepting any challenges until further notice."

You can't help but wonder which prominent member of the nobility in the service got stuck with the pointy end this time, for this order to be issued. It also helps to explain a bit more of this spoiled brat's behaviour. He can speak more recklessly, because you cannot demand recourse. But that also means he cannot do any real damage, not really, without further embarrassing himself.

"In that case, our hands are tied, and I should hate to keep my companions waiting any longer. I have nothing further to say to you, Sir." you turn around without waiting and sit down. It's a risky move, but the worst thing that can happen would be him hitting you in the back. You wouldn't - actually, you WOULD put that past him. No matter what else Somersley may be, he is still a commissioned officer of His Majesty's Royal Air Wing.

"Until next time, Mister Glenister."

The room is quiet enough that you can hear him and his lackeys leave - presumably for one of the empty tables, at the far end of the room.
When the observers realize there is not to be any unscheduled spectacle after all, there is a short wave of disappointed murmurs, and soon the regular hubbub of the club continues. The whole confrontation could not have lasted for longer than a few minutes, and it will just as soon be forgotten. Not by Somersley, to be sure. But that is a problem for another day.

"I do apologize for this ... unfortunate incident, gentlemen. That man and I share a history I would rather forget. Although I wager he wouldn't be so tough were it not for the long reach of his Lord father, Lord Somersley."

"A lordling? Well, that explains it." Kenneth interjects. Sir Webber turns to look at him, amused. Kenneth doesn't pick up on it. He shakes his head, waiting until the airmen are definitely outside earshot. "The sooner they slink off to their glorified hot air balloon, the better. Nothing but hot air themselves."

Professor Hamilton acts as if he has been waiting all evening for someone to make this analogy: "Actually, it is a common misconception, but the Archimedean Apparatus does not operate on principles of hot air at all. If it did, it should be three to four orders of magnitude weaker. While could be said that the hot air, being less dense than cold air and thus, occupying an identical volume with less mass, does in a sense operate on an archimedean principle of lift, it is a different principle to the true Archimedean, as described by Herr von Graaf, and the Alchymists' guild; or, at the very least, they can be considered different manifestations of the same natural law, the matter being no small cause for confusion in the scientific literature over the past thirty--"

It is Sir Webber who saves the present company from the doctor's gentle tongue-lashings:

"Do you have many enemies, Mister Glenister?"

"Thousands, Sir, or so I should hope. Just ask around the Royalist Navy of Vierre!"

Sir Webber laughs.

"You just held your own against Lord Somersley's son. And insulted him - two times, well, one and a half at least, by my count, though it was certainly provoked. You asked about the League - this was a good demonstration of the situation, I think. A man of considerable clout, drunk with power, posturing, but powerless to actually hurt you."

Kenneth raised a glass to you: "And here sits Commonwealth, undaunted and unbroken!"

The entire table raises the glass, so you do as well. The Rifle Guard lieutenant continues: "You know, Sir, a more squeamish man would attempt a strategy of appeasement."

"A more squeamish man would not get far in His Majesty's Royal Navy, Sir."
"Regardless, I daresay they could use more men of your stock in the service - well, perhaps not in the Foreign Office."

"I should hope not! I would not describe myself as diplomatic man.", as you take to shuffling the deck.

Sir Webber looks at the cards in your hands, and says: "But, pray tell me, Sir - would you describe yourself as a gambling man?"

All three parties at the table - the professor, your longtime friend Kenneth, and this noble-blooded Rifle Guard - are looking at you with some interest. You are keenly reminded that there should be no reason for any of them to be in a stuffy officers' club on a Friday evening.

Something tells you this question is not about Whist.

> "Yes."
> "No."
> (write-in)
>> "Yes."
>> "No."

You pass the hand for Kenneth to deal and laugh amiably.

"Sir Webber, I wilfully sought out a profession where you routinely get shot at, stabbed, drowned, burned, and worse. We risk our lives every day in the line of duty. Gods preserve us all, never have I seen a bigger den of reckless, wanton gamblers than the entirety of His Majesty's Royal Navy."

"So, you say the stake is our own lives. And the winnings?"

You think about it, then shrug. The best you can throw is a nine. Sir Webber is opposite, and therefore your partner. he follows up. You continue.

"You have it backwards, I think, Mister Webber. The winnings are never the end goal, as any gambler worth his salt will tell you. The winnings are, at best, one of the reasons why we gamble."

"And the reason you gamble, then, Mister Glenister?"

"Everyone has one, I am sure. For the King. For patriotism. For the money. For the reputation. For the girl. I, personally, do it because my father did it. And his father. Call it duty, if you must. I need no further reason."

"Mind, if the question was if I believed in random chance - I leave that sort of discussion to the Professor here. Fate, gods, determinism - well above my pay grade.

"I do know, however, that the game has certain rules. One cannot influence the hand one was dealt. But one can observe, adapt. Make choices. For example, I am willing to bet that the good Professor's highest trump is seven, or he severely misplayed the last two tricks."

"Commenting on the hand to your partner is strictly forbidden, Sir."

"Begging your pardon, Professor. I will reimburse you for this round."

The game resumes regardless.

"So, if you were, hypothetically speaking, called by your country upon a mission - or missions - of great risk? Which may require you to, as you so charmingly put it - observe, adapt, make choices?"

"That depends, Mister Webber. What is the stake?"

Sir Webber takes the last trick, and smiles wryly.

"The world, Mister Glenister. The entire gods-damn world."
"I never took you infantry types to have such a penchant for the dramatic."

"Do forgive me. The game carried me away a bit. I will explain.

"Now then, there is no hiding it that we are all three of us here this fine evening with no other purpose than talking with you. The good Lieutenant Kenneth was kind enough to serve as bait. He knew where to find you, and promised us a place where we could talk privately."

"More or less", says Kenneth. "I did say `more or less`".

"That a man of your talents and a penchant for - informed risk taking, shall we say, Mister Glenister - is being held on shore at half-pay is nothing short of gross mismanagement of His Majesty's resources. We, that is to say, the interested parties that we represent, are keenly aware of that fact."

"I will be honest, I am not very big on this hole-and-corner sort of business, Sir Webber. I prefer to serve His Majesty in a direct capacity. Who are these mysterious "parties" you represent? What do they want of me? Are they in the chain of command? If so, why didn't they approach me directly?"

"It's complicated. It is a matter of secrecy, yes, but I assure you, both the Admiralty and His Majesty's government are one hundred percent behind this. In fact, that is the reason your recent request for transfer was denied."

You do not know what to make of this. That was supposed to be a secret between you and the Admiralty. You eye Sir Webber coldly.

"Oh, don't get me wrong, Mister Glenister. By the end of the evening, if you still wish to join the Air Wing, and go in the footsteps of Mister Somersley, you have my word as a gentleman that we shall accommodate you. But I am here to offer you a new commission. One that has never before existed in the Royal Navy, or outside of it for that matter.
"Impossible. No new vessel is being commissioned."

"You will find, Mister Glenister, that you are quite mistaken."

You are half hoping that the Professor or Kenneth would help you - but their mouths are shut. Neither seem like an easy man to keep quiet, so for the moment you find yourself appreciating Sir Sebastian Webber, of the 105th Rifle Guards, just a bit more.

"Now, I presume that you will want more information before you--"

"I take it.", you say, calmly.

"Beg pardon?"

"The commission. I will take it. Whatever it is."

"How can you be so sure?"

You explain, calmly:

"It's a ship, clearly - you have Kenneth in on it. It is backed by the Admiralty, obviously - and possibly higher, since I severely doubt that you are here in the capacity of an officer of 105th Rifle Guards, Sir Webber. It's a secret, equally obviously, and a damn well kept one - because it takes years to lay a hull and there is no shipyard in the Commonwealth that I don't have a contact in, and I have heard nothing new being built, or at least nothing that is not skybound. I am too young to captain anything, but I have seniority on Kenneth, so I am probably being pegged for - what - second? First lieutenant? on this ship of yours. I am also unmarried, and have no debts - so nothing to blackmail me by, so I am not a liability, and nobody will mourn me if I am gone. You can also be reasonably sure of my loyalty, on account of my late father. And since you have the Professor on board with this plan, the last person I would ever expect to keep a secret - no offense, Professor -- "

"None taken!"

"-- to shoulder such a security risk means it has to be something where his knowledge of natural sciences is simply indispensable."

In the background, the parlor noise resumes as ever. But at the table, there is nothing but silence.

That is, until Kenneth decides to speak, with his usual amount of tact: "See? I told you he's too bloody clever for his own good."

Sir Webber offers you his hand.

"I must congratulate you, Mister Glenister. You got nearly every detail correct."


"Nobody ever said anything about a ship."
Aaaaaand I'm done for today. Quest should resume tomorrow late afternoon-ish UTC. Sorry for the infodumps, I couldn't find a way to introduce the characters one by one and still finish everything in a single day. If you have any questions / suggestions post them before then. Thank you.
Didn't manage to catch this while it was going, but I certainly look forward to playing! Love the Master and Commander sorta feel to everything already.
Kenneth used my line! Woo! I do hope he's on board the notship too.

- At one point Walter (AKA the PC, AKA you) addresses Sir Webber with "Lieutenant", which is false. Sir Webber never gave his rank. The insignia on Webber's uniform display the rank of junior major, which is something Walter would of course be able to recognize.

- Similarly, in another post, he says"the doctor" when he mean "the professor". While Hamilton has some medickal knowledge, as a result of pursuing the science of natural philosophy, he does not practice as a doctor in any capacity.

- some janky writing which we can't blame on Walter. Very few things are pre-written, so I often write against the clock to get as much mileage and worldbuilding out of the first thread as possible, while trying to not make it boring infodumps. Not saying it works, but that's the attempt at least.

All newcomers, welcome aboard.
On the third morning since that colourful parlour room meeting, you find yourself in a train car, speeding with frankly ridiculous haste to remote Woolwickshire, on the northwestern edge of Escott.

Nobody in the group would say much else that evening, even after you took every effort to ply Kenneth with brandy. He just smiled diabolically. "Look, I went through the same rigmarole scarce three weeks ago. They have a protocol. You will understand everything when you see her. I really can't say more or The Captain will have my head."

In truth, you couldn't care less. It was a new appointment, it was a chance to no longer be stuck ashore while other men were out there fighting and dying for their country.

At this point, if they gave you a steam sloop and told you to deliver mail, then by Jove you would do just that and sing all the way.

As the steam-engine streaks by increasingly rare hamlets and boroughs, and into a heavily wooded area, you unfurl your orders.
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"On the day 30th of Prairial, 812 Aecumenic Calendar

To Mr. Walter Glenister, Lieutenant, HMRN

Sir, you are hereby directed and required to report onboard His Majesty's Experimental Vessel Pelagius, not later than 3rd of Messidor, of the Year 812 Aecumenic Calendar, there to serve as First Lieutenant in strict Accordance with your Captain's Orders, and in Accordance with the Admiralty Regulations and Instructions, and the Articles of War. The Pelagius is expected to currently be undergoing Sea Trials at or about Woolswitch Cove.

It is further directed and required that you present these Orders of Appointment to the commanding Officer of said Vessel, Captain Barnabas Sloane, at his earliest Convenience.

Not you, nor any of you, shall fail in the Execution of these Orders except at your Peril.

Lord Admiral Talbott.

With the authority of the High Lords of Admiralty and the First Sea Lord."
pls be a submarine
fuck air right in it's gassy ass
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Even your journey is roundabout - since your destination is a naval port on a completely different isle, you would think you could reach it by steamship.

But, of course, that's not how it works. Woolswitch Cove and the entire surrounding 10-league area is off-limits to commercial traffic.

So, in fact, you had to buy a steamship ticket to Bristham, which was practically on the other side of the isle. Once you reached there, you rented a brougham to Kearing, where you boarded the 8:30 steam engine to Woolwickshire.

Very soon you arrive at the final terminus. The railway abruptly ends - there is nothing ahead other than woods. Only three people disembark at this station, including you. All of you are in uniform. The train is empty.

You notice a couple of horse-guards patrolling. The horses are apparently used to the train.

By the time you have finished struggling with your luggage, Kenneth is already on the terminus, with his full uniform and insignia.

"How was your trip, Mister Glenister?" he smiles.
Kenneth is leading you through something that someone clearly spent a lot of time making to look like an unassuming path through the woods. You scarcely pass three hundred yards before you can no longer hold it in:

"Gordon, you do know you are lower than a common knave."

"Why, Walter, whatever do you mean?

"You know perfectly well what I mean. Captain Sloane? CAPTAIN SLOANE? You have been serving under Brass Barnabas all this time - and you haven't told me?"

"For less than a month, and under strict orders of secrecy."

"You lot didn't have to go through any of that -- that -- showmanship the other day. All the three of you had to say was that I would be serving under the captain Sloane. Gods, man, how did they manage do get him out of retirement? Did you know, my father served under him at the Heraclians and in Theodorea?"

"Take it easy. I can't possibly keep up with all your questions. But I couldn't tell you, Walter, you have to believe me! Nobody is ever said a word about the project without Sir Webber's say-so, and he usually takes days if not weeks to decide. You were lucky to get away with only a single interview."

"I presume I have you to thank for the recommendation?"

"I did mention you, yes. But I am certain they already had you on a list. Sir Webber has all sorts of lists, you see. When Captain read your name, he requested you personally."

"If you are trying to rile me up, it is a very cruel jest. He only saw me once, at Father's funeral."

"Well, I was told they took me in on account of my being mentioned in the Dispatches - but I suspect my uncle had a hand in it. There is no shame in being consider'd due to one's name."

"For weeks now, ever since I was here, Sir Webber was out there, doing his interviews - much of what he did that evening. Not that he doesn't have files on every candidate - but he prefers to have a face-to-face with each one. By the by, the Professor doesn't usually come with, and neither do I - it happened to be our night off."

You pass the time jesting and recalling old times when you were middies on the Troubadour. You have a year on him, and though very new yourself, you were there to help him in those crucial early months when everything is new and scary. You were practically children then, but for two years, you were close friends.
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Finally, you see a thick fence and a gate, guarded by particularly grumpy looking Royal Marines. They know Kenneth, but you have to present your papers to them before they wave you in.

As you walk between the buildings and towards the docks of Woolswitch Cove, you think about how remarkably banal it looks. For thirty years it served as an unapproachable, secret port of the Admiralty. There were few things men in the service liked more than to speculate the sorts of nefarious experiments being run there. From it hosting an armada of ships crewed by men of clay and clockwork, to the entire port being a feeding ground for the Navy's pet Leviathan. You heard it all, and there were many you didn't hear.

In fact, - wait a minute. If the professor is involved, perhaps the Leviathan theory isn't so far-fetched after all.

Briefly you imagine yourself and your crew straddling a humongous mythological serpent all the way to Vierre, while Captain Barnabas Sloan yells profanities, holding its stirrups in one hand and waving his cutlass in the other.

It would certainly explain all the secrecy and pomp of the other day.

You chuckle at your own imagination, until you hear the sound of breaking glass, and a paperweight flies inches away from your face.
"NEVER, Sir, as I stand and live; never, do you hear me? Should His Majesty himself materialize in this office right now and COMMAND me to do it, I should still refuse it; do you understand me? That's seven tonnes - SEVEN TONNES - completely unplanned for, on the external hull, no less, after WEEKS of finetuning the bloody Archimedean. We could capsize, or sink, and wouldn't that be bloody ironic - and that is assuming the bloody Alchymyst doesn't turn me into a newt when I bring him the news. MY WORD ON THE MATTER IS FINAL. GOOD DAY TO YOU, SIR."

With an earth-shattering SLAM a man steps outside of the cabin where all the ruckus just originated. Presumably, the object of his erstwhile wrath is still inside, missing one paperweight.

Somehow, you do not need to be told anything - you already know the identity of the person in your presence, even before he turns around and you spot the eyepatch, the scar and the iron face that has seen a hundred battles.

"Mister Kenneth! Quit your dawdling, Sir, and go round up the dockyard crew, or at least the sober ones! I expect they shall presently have much work to do. And who might you be, Sir, and what are you doing in my port?"

"Captain Sloane, Sir, I am--"

"I know who you are, Sir. Now, give me your damn orders!"

You fumble a bit, until you find the orders and present them to the Captain. He inspects them, then you.

"Captain Sloane, Sir. Lieutenant Glenister, reporting for duty as instructed, Sir."

"No, you are not."

"I beg your pardon, Sir?"
"I said, NO, YOU ARE NOT. Are you deaf, Mister Glenister?"

"No, Sir. I just don't take your meaning, Sir."

"Your orders say that you are to report aboard the Pelagius, and to present me with the very same paper the orders are written on - in that order. Do they not?"

"Indeed they do, Sir."

"Did you already report to the Pelagius without my noticing it, Sir?"

"I did not, Sir."

"Are we presently on the Pelagius, Mister Glenister?"

"We are not, Sir."

"Are we, indeed, on a ship of any sort, Mister Glenister?"

"We are not, Sir."

"Do you see any ships around, Mister Glenister?"

"I do not, Sir."

He hands the paper back to you.

"You will take these orders back, then, and present them to me when I am on board the vessel. Is this clear?"

"Yes, Sir. Very clear, Sir."

He eyes you a bit more, as you try your best not to flinch.

"You're Edward's boy, then?" he says, in a slightly softer voice,

"Yes, Sir. My father always spoke highly of you, Sir."

"I am sure he would give you the same talking-to that I just did."

"I am sure he would, Sir."

"Well then, Mister Glenister. I suggest you report to the port master, stow your luggage in the officers' barracks, and meet me on the main dockyard. You have half an hour. If you are late, you swim."
I don't suppose this is this going to turn into atlantis, the lost empire?
If half the stories you've heard of Barnabas Sloane were true, you consider your first encounter with him - in a professional capacity, at least - a moderate success.

Despite the fact you had no idea where the port master or the officers' barracks were, you somehow manage. The main dockyard, at least, is hard to miss - though it is somewhat empty. Where are all the ropes, the barrels, the supplies, the work crews tripping over one another?

The one thing that is there in abundance are men. You can see some warrant officers, a few Royal Marines, and the unmistakable silhouette of the captain. They are all looking to the water.

"Mister Glenister!" says Kenneth - because, of course, he has to address you formally in the presence of other servicemen. "You are just in time! Here, here!"

Sloane also turns around and, to your surprise, waves you to come closer.

"Did you get settled, Mister Glenister?"

"I did, Sir."

"Good. Mister Kenneth."


"After today's drills, you will give a full tour of the premises to Mister Glenister here."

"Aye, Sir."

You can't but wonder what they are looking at. The dock gives a fairly comprehensive overview of the bay. There is nothing in sight as far as the eye can see except seagulls and clear waters.

Captain Sloane pulls out a Naval chronometer.

"I have fifty-seven minutes and a half. You?"

Kenneth inspects his own watch.

"Fifty-seven and a quarter, Sir."

"Close enough."

"They are already above tolerance."

"They will make it, Mister Kenneth. Have faith."

You strain your eyes, but can't for the love of you understand what is going on.
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Then, the sea starts bubbling some fifty yards away from you. Gigantic jets of water split from the surface and make for the sky, spraying seawater all over you. Nobody so much as flinches.

An enormous narwhal - no, a whale - a Leviathan, indeed - breaks the surface of the water and soars several yards into the air, almost hovers a for a moment before slinking back into the water with a prodigious splash. It is enormous - the size of a frigate, at least. If it's a whale, it is not a type you have ever seen, but every seaman knows seas hide many creatures unknown to man. Though its skin glistens in the sun, there is a sickly green tint to it, and although you see what appears to be an enormous eye on its side, it is far too large to fit it. It is loosely cylindrical in shape.

There are a dozen seconds, or two, of see-saw motions until it reaches equilibrium.

Kenneth looks at his watch again. "Fifty-eight and thirty seconds, Sir."

The beast spews more jets of water through its blowhole. You hear soft metalic groaning, and then a hatch opens. And who should you see crawling out of it but Professor Hamilton, sitting atop the creature, waving.

You wave back, because why wouldn't you?

"He can't see you. Blind as a bat at this distance.", says Kenneth, sotto voce.

"Well, Mister Glenister, what do you think about your new appointment?" asks Captain Sloane.

It is only then you spot "HMS(S) Pelagius" written on the "creature"'s side, in large golden letters. Large stacks of black smoke start pouring out from its sides, making the water around the vessel bubble and swirl.

It would be a lie to say you knew what awaited you here, though you had three days for some speculations. A submersible ship was one of the many things that came to mind, of course. But then, so was riding astride Leviathans.

But you leave such thoughts aside. Suddenly, all the pieces fall into place. There is only one thing on your mind.

Dear Gods., you think. We have just won the war.
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<<<<méli zampón
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(roll titles)

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the REAL title of our quest.

Although several of the sharper gentlemen have already caught on:
Ah, that's a bit of a shame. I quite like airships.
Well, write what you want.
Hm, thought it was going to be Master and Commander in the air, but I'm happy with 20,000 leagues under the sea. Nautilus here we go!
out of curiosity, would our career choices earlier have affected whether we boarded an airship or not?
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I did not put the airships into the setting for nothing.

So, I ask you NOW, while the flying-ship people are all here, to pick an option here:
> I would prefer an airship quest
> I would prefer a submarine quest
> any other (ambivalent, just give me more stories in this setting, I prefer variety, etc.)

Your votes WILL NOT influence the course of the currently running quest in any way. However, they might influence where we go after the Pelagius' maiden voyage completes.

The question was meant to be presented to Walter at the end of this quest in the form of an option of transfer. However, by that point I fear only the sub-lovers will stay and the airship people will have flown away, and the question would therefore be unfair.

Leaving this ooc post unspoilered because I want people to see this.
>> I would prefer a submarine quest
Airships are fun. I am definitely up for it after our maiden voyage. That said I would prefer variety and not being locked to a single quest mode.
I agree with this anon, though if there really is an atlantis I'd like to stay underwater. Maybe we can marry their princess and become king of the sea.
Though I would prefer an airship quest, I'm perfectly fine with a sub one instead. The writing has been impeccable so far, so I'm excited to see how it goes either way. Who knows, depending on how this goes, I might even vote to stay with the sub if it's fun enough.
I'm fine with either
>> I would prefer a submarine quest
>> I would prefer a submarine quest
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Thank you all. Trying to please everyone in a single quest is sure to result in disaster. For the submariner faction, I can promise I won't hamfist Walter into suddenly becoming an airman. For the airship faction, Walter is not the only pawn on the board, though this quest is about him and I won't presume to ask you to stick around on vague promises for the future.

Our story continues later today. I shall try to do one or two updates every weekday, ~11PM UTC, with more activity on the weekends.
>I would prefer an airship quest
Voting late, but I gotta say how I feel.
You drop the book on the bed. "A Treatise on some hydrodynamic and other physickal Properties of incompressible Fluids" has proven a tough nut to crack. You resolve to attempt again tomorrow.

The calendar on the wall shows it has been a fortnight since you arrived at Woolwitch Cove, while to you it seems it was only yesterday that you were still on that train.

From the second you saw the Pelagius, you were entranced. Such a powerful weapon! What depths of devilish ingenuity! The ability to dive freely, as a cachalot might - the implications would be immediately clear to any seaman. You had to admit to some desire to immediately jump in, take up the position of first Lieutenant, immediately use it to take quick and decisive action against enemy shipping, and end the war by New Year's. All such notions were, of course, promptly shattered by cruel reality.

The very same day you arrived, you were allowed on deck for a few minutes, for the formality of presenting yourself to the captain, after which you were unceremoniously shoved back ashore: "No offense meant to your no doubt considerable mariner prowess, Mister Glenister, but in terms of being a submersible sailor, you are a suckling babe, a veritable landlubber. I will not allow you onto the vessel without the proper training, which you will begin receiving forthwith. Needless to say, as a prospective First Lieutenant, you will be held to a higher standard, and will be expected to know every bit of this vessel's operation, every nail, sheet and tack. We only have until winter to get ready. I would ask you if you feel up to the challenge - but I would not insult your father's memory so. You are dismissed."

And that was that.
Later that day, Kenneth delivered an intimidating stack of books to you. "You have one week to read up on these. I've marked the bits that need to be memorized. Chin up, Walter. It was the same for me. They still don't allow me on board, and I've been here a month!"

With all the shocks and wonders you sustained, and all the new work they piled upon you, it's no wonder you don't recall those first several days all too well. In your memory, they all blend into a blur of reading naval charts, detailed technical drawings, endless lists of parts and supplies, and such riveting books as "Protocols of Proper Behaviour on Board a Submersible Vessel (tentative)", by one Capt. Sloan, or "Modes of Operation and Maintenance of an Archimedean Apparatus in the Service of His Majesty's Royal Air Wing". You recall the glee with which Professor Hamilton greeted you before sticking his nose back into some chart or another. Even Sir Webber called in upon you at one time or another, but you had no time for idle talk.

You also remember looking enviously when the Captain first let Kenneth board the submarine, after which they did a round around the bay (surfaced, but still), while you stood on the docks.

You remember all that, as you wash your face and make your way to Professor Hamilton's cabin. This is the first evening you have to yourself since you've arrived. The Professor (to everyone on site he is just "The Professor") has promised roast turkey and fine burgundy, and finer company.
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The turkey is certainly roast, pretty skillfully in fact - you suspect the Captain's lent his steward to the Professor for the evening. The burgundy is fine, and the company is - well, same as ever, really. Kenneth and the Professor are there. You are only missing Sir Webber, and a deck of cards. You remark so, which prompts the Professor to laugh.

"No, thank you, Sir! It would be a poor natural philosopher indeed, who by now would not recognize the pattern of destruction wrought by crossing broadsides with you two fine gentlemen."

This is the first relaxed evening you've had in the two weeks. Invariably, however, the conversation turns to the submersible. A scale model of it, made skillfully in wood, sits on a desk. There is also a plaque on the wall describing the internal layout of the vessel in some detail.

"Three decades! Three decades since Herr Von Graaf unveiled the Archimedean Apparatus - and all they can think of, all anyone thinks of doing with it, is attaching a bit of wood and steel onto it and calling it an airship. Preposterous! The same principles - the exact same principles - can be used for a submersible vessel. It is crystal clear, in hindsight!"

> "But how so? From what I read, the Archimedean can only achieve upward lift. It seems to me that in order to have a submersible you would need to go the opposite way."
> "Couldn't the variability in lift be achieved even before the Archimedean, though some system of pumps or `ballast tanks`, if you will?"
> "If the idea came so easily to you, don't you suppose someone else has already come up with the same idea?"
> (write-in : any other topic you might wish to discuss - this is your chance, as both professor and Kenneth are all yours for the evening. Just give me topics and I will format the question to the suitable style.)
>Couldn't the variability in lift be achieved even before the Archimedean, though some system of pumps or `ballast tanks`, if you will?"
> "But how so? From what I read, the Archimedean can only achieve upward lift. It seems to me that in order to have a submersible you would need to go the opposite way."

Changing my vote, in hindsight the process is simple.

> "If the idea came so easily to you, don't you suppose someone else has already come up with the same idea?"
>> "If the idea came so easily to you, don't you suppose someone else has already come up with the same idea?"
> "If the idea came so easily to you, don't you suppose someone else has already come up with the same idea?"

Would like to explore normal ballast, but this is more important I think.
Kenneth stops chewing the turkey long enough to ask:
"So if the idea is so blatantly obvious as you say, professor - then how come the channel is not already full of Frog submersibles?"

"Well, first of all, Mister Kenneth, how would we know it isn't?"

"You have me there, Prof", concedes your friend, while tearing off another drumstick.

"In all seriousness, we cannot exclude the possibility of other nations coming to the same conclusions as we have. This is a matter I was approached on multiple times by Sir Webber. But any fool can dream up a potential theoretick use for the Archimedean. Why, technically, the Archimedean itself is not even necessary for the concept of a submersible - you could just as well replace it with some other system of dynamic buoyancy - exempli gratia, pumps that would dynamically fill or empty tanks of water. It would be vastly inferior, and less space-efficient, but I suppose it might work. To an extent. Eventually.

"But The Pelagius is so much more than just a tube with a lift generator inside. I must begrudgingly admit that my contributions to the concept of a submersible vessel, while considerate and essential, would not be possible without the machinations of our Alchymists. I needn't remind you, gentlemen, that our fair Commonwealth is the world center of that noble art. Innumerable contributions, mostly to the science of materials, made over the span of several decades, have all culminated in the submersible being even remotely possible."
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"Consider that a vessel must move transversally underwater, as well as vertically - without that, it would be a poor submersible. How do we propel ourselves, Mister Kenneth?"

"The main propeller."

"Which is turned by?"

"Why, the steam engine, of course."

"Which requires?"

"Look, I read the bloody books, Prof. I know what you're getting at. The steam engine deprives the aer while underwater."

"Exactly. The steam engine, as every schoolboy knows, burns coal while using aer - much as you are right now, Mister Kenneth (although in place of coal, you shall be burning that turkey for a good while). Aer, as you know, is full of the phlogisticating agent which some in Vierre have started calling Acidogene recently, though I doubt the word will stick. Using up that aer for vital processes - of animal and machine alike - renders that aer into a dephlogisticated, unuseable state. In effect, the time we can stay underwater is limited - because if we do not surface, the steam engine will sooner or later dephlogisticate all our aer reserves and suffocate all hands aboard.

"Therefore, I posit, Mister Kenneth, that the real heart of the Pelagius is not the Archimedean. It's our hypercompression cylinders. They allow us to store frankly prodigious amounts of reserve phlogisticated aer, which can keep our Pelagius without the need to surface for a breather for as long as fifty-five hours at a time - and even much longer, if we douse the steam engine.

"It is that technology that we have every reason to believe is completely our own, and that it would take decades of Alchymical research for any other nation to replicate it. It is, of course, a most closely guarded state secret."
Professor's tone was very quiet at the end, and you were so immersed into the secrecy of this supposed miraculous technology, that when the knock on the door came, it gave you a solid fright.

"Ah, speak of the devil!"

Without waiting for a response, the door opens.

"Come in, come in, my friend!"

You turn to see a most peculiar person. A wiry, dessicated man of undeterminable age, but far from young. His hair is greying. He is clean-shaven, though he doesn't wear an officer's uniform, but a simple grey robe, with brown-red belt that has some symbols you fail to recognize. His eyes are of a most peculiar hue, almost reddish - you get the impression they could glow in the dark.

He addresses the professor:

"You have a good door, Hamilton. Solid oak."

There is an accent to his words - Eastern, perhaps. He is deathly pale, and his features are plain, neither Oriental nor Lydian. As he closes the door, he traces his hand across the entire width of it, then knocks it again, just to make sure. Then he turns to the three of you and says: "Very solid oak. Strong heart."

"Come, come, sit, my friend. I was beginning to fear you wouldn't be able to make it."

His voice is somewhat monotone, and he stares uncomfortably as he speaks: "The captain threatened to have me shot out of a cannon if I didn't leave the alcove. Did you tell him you invited me?"

"I may have let it slip in his presence, yes."

As if that concludes the conversation, the man asks no further questions, but rather sits down. He points to you, while addressing the professor: "I do not recognize this one."

"Mister Glenister, may I introduce my good friend, and a most essential member of the Pelagius' crew: the Royal Alchymist, Sartorius. Sartorius, this is Mister Glenister, the new lieutenant."

"Pleasure to meet your acquaintance, Sir", you say, and stretch out your hand to him.

He ignores your hand, looks at you for a few seconds, then nods. "Glenister. I will remember." He starts cutting into the turkey. Then, after another pause: "I don't suppose he would really shoot me out of a cannon, though. I think he was exaggerating."
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"We were just discussing your noble science and how it makes submersible machines from possibility into a reality.", Hamilton says.

"We serve.", responds the alchymist simply.

Though this meal is going far from expected, Kenneth and Hamilton do not seem to mind this man of weird mannerisms, so you decide you won't either. Perhaps you could break the ice somewhat.

> "So, Mister Sartorius, do you happen to play cards by any chance?"
> "I don't believe I've ever met an alchymist before."
> "I don't believe I've seen you once, Sir, and I've been here for two weeks."
> "Is it true that you can turn people into newts?"
> Say nothing.
> (write-in)
>> "I don't believe I've ever met an alchymist before."
> "Is it true that you can turn people into newts?"
> "I don't believe I've ever met an alchymist before."
> "I don't believe I've ever met an alchymist before."
>"If I may ask, sir, from what area do you hail from?"
> "I don't believe I've ever met an alchymist before."
> "So, Mister Sartorius, do you happen to play cards by any chance?"
> "I don't believe I've ever met an alchymist before."
>"If I may ask, sir, from what area do you hail from?"
>"I don't believe I've ever met an alchymist before."
>"Is it true that you can turn people into newts?"
> "So, Mister Sartorius, do you happen to play cards by any chance?"
>"I don't believe I've ever met an alchymist before."
>"If I may ask, sir, from what area do you hail from?"
I'm betting he's from Atlantis.
"I don't believe I've ever met an Alchymist before."

"I am not surprised. The order is by nature quite secluded and paranoid, and we have no purpose with the navy. Usually."

Until the good professor thought it wise to take one of those Archimedeans from the Air Wing and stick it underwater, you think to yourself.

"Is every Archimedean maintained by an Alchymist?"

"Would that the order were so numerous, to match the numbers of the King's air machines."

"They had to introduce the station of an Alchymists' mate in the air wing, as I understand it." Hamilton chimes in.

"Yes. The false apprentices. They are told as much as they need to be, to keep the ships afloat. Such are the times."

"But obviously, the Pelagius is a special case. It's the first time someone has ever attempted to put the machine underwater". Hamilton beams proudly at his own words.

"The vessel and its mission are of interest to the order. Therefore I see to these matters personally."
"Mister Sartorius --", you start.

"Just Sartorius - if you will. We do not use titles, with outsiders."

"-- very well, Mist... Sartorius. If you don't mind me asking, Sir, I detect a hint of an accent. You were not born on the Isles, were you?"

"I will not speak to that."

Since the alchymist is sitting opposite you, he can't see when Kenneth mouths A T L A N T I S to you. You are careful not to laugh. Well, you've seen your fair share of wonders recently, so at this point, nothing would surprise you.

"Our old lives are cast aside when we join the order. It is no secret, however, that I was ordained, as most of my generation was, in a small temple in Babylonia. I've been calling this land my home, however, for the past -- well. Decades."
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Kenneth breaks the silence:

"But is it true that you can turn people into newts?"

Hamilton nearly chokes on his burgundy at this unexpected remark. You busy yourself hitting his back, not quite sure whether he is choking or laughing, but most likely a bit of both.

"If I could, you would be the first to know, Ken-neth."

He sighs.

"I can hardly blame you for this jest - the order has done little to dispel such superstitions and confabulations, over the centuries. I fear it did more damage than good."

The professor, still red from laughter, finally catches enough breath to speak:
"Mister Kenneth, you should be relieved to know the most my esteemed friend could do to you is slowly transmute the iron from your blood into glassmakers soap, but that would likely take a few weeks, not to mention the blood would have to be outside of your body and sequestered into several retorts."

"Though, it is curious. You said newt, specifically - instead of frog, or mouse. Newt is a type of salamander, Hamilton?"

"Indeed it is - a type of one, or a sibling to it, there is yet some debate about that. Newts, or Tritones, as Ezthymius calls them, display much the same characteristics as what we would call "true salamanders", although they are considerably more aquatic in nature. There are those in Hofgarten - and we all know what THEIR opinion is worth - who consider that the family itself is much larger, and that people have been calling "salamanders" for centuries is they propose to call Urodela, while others think that it would be more accurate to restrict the term to merely the family Salamandridae, as..."

"Yes. The answer appears to be yes." Kenneth says, to the relief of all parties present, except perhaps the professor, who scoffs for just a second, before taking another sip from his glass.

The royal alchymist continues:

"Salamanders are a holy symbol of some significance to my order. They featured prominently on our temples in the East. Those murals probably gave rise to that particular... misconception."

The alchymist holds a piece of turkey on the tip of the fork and inspects it intently, seemingly lost in thought.

"Before they were all razed."
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"Though, an aquatic salamander, you say?"

You don't know what you expected, but it certainly wasn't the Alchymist bursting in laughter in front of the three of you, enjoying some inside joke: "Fitting. Very fitting."

While it doesn't seem like you can extract any useful information from this fellow, you know at least by reputation - and military regulation - that Royal Alchymists are trustworthy, as far as the interests of the Crown are concerned.

"I don't suppose I can interest you in a game of cards, Sir?"

"A boring exercise in combinatoricks and chance. I have no time to indulge."

"Time is the least of your problems. I must caution you to only accept going against Mister Glenister here if you are indeed able to transmute gold."

"Gold is forbidden.", Sartorius says, immediately, and with some more sharpness than you feel professor's remark would merit.

This short conversation certainly opened up many new potential topics, more than you could possibly hope to cover over the course of one evening. Although most of it is unrelated to your mission or submersibles in general, you must admit you are intrigued. You imagine not many naval officers get an opportunity to dine with a Royal Alchymist, and a professor. So, you ask:

> (If the above doesn't give you ideas for write-in topics of inquiry, nothing will)
>"The vessel and its mission are of interest to the order. Therefore I see to these matters personally."
"You mentioned something about this mission being of interest to your order, would you care to clarify on that?"
>The Pelagius
"Is there any... esoteric... significance to our vessel's name?"
Uh why were the old east temples razed, if that's a history lesson he can share of course
>"Gold is forbidden."
Why, though?

and also

what about other materials?
This is one I'm most interested in. I wonder how much our character knows about the Alchymists at all...
You consider yourself a decently informed man, albeit on a narrow range of topics. You never paid much attention to history lessons, except where it pertains to patriotic deeds of Commonwealth maritime heroes. Most of your education was dominated by naval topics - your late father saw to that. On occasion you would read some tidbit about the Alchymists in the Almanac. On the topic of alchymy you know, you think, less than many.

You know that Alchymy is ancient, though you are not quite clear how ancient. You know that ostensibly the order was formed in the pursuit of the Philosopher's stone and the secret of eternal life. Over the centuries, their research made them masters of transmutation - the process by which they could create new materials and amalgams, including some with peculiar properties not found in nature.

You know that there were some wars in the East - one way or the other, their order got involved, and it didn't go well for them. There was a time of great turmoil. They were declared heretics and blasphemers. Overnight they found themselves hunted, lynched, and executed where ever they were found. They fled every which way, until the last remaining few wretched remnants of the order were given safe conduct by His Majesty King Joseph III of the Commonwealth, grandfather of the current king, when no country on the Continent would. Needless to say, this did not make your homeland very much loved in Al Avraam and Babylonia - which is the reason you know at least this much, since it had profound political implications, which resulted in some naval actions over the decades.

And you know, of course, about Bel Hadad. A city, jewel in the east, an independent city state, where the alchymists' last citadel was. In their last act of defiance, they burned down the entire city to the ground - themselves, their attackers, and all - with, it is said, infernal flames which could not be doused for fourty days.

On closer reflection, there may be some embellishment to the story.
The only matter where you are even the slightest bit educated, is military applications of Alchymy in naval warfare.

For one, it is common knowledge that Commonwealth fleets have the upper edge in terms of firepower, pound for pound - because their cannon and powder are made of superior materials, which were achieved using applications of Alchymical research.

You also know that the Theodorean navy has for centuries now employed the devilish Hellenic fire, which is of Alchymical origins - and you thank the Gods the fleets of the Commonwealth never went into open war against the fearsome dromons of that majestic city-state.

There were also talks of introducing special cannon shells with increased explosive power, filled with some Alchymical wizardry or another - but it never came to pass, as the shells themselves were found to be prone to spontaneous ignition, which led to a few quite spectacular explosions. You remember the so-called Arsenal trials and you seem to recall they ended in the hangings of several speculators - though no Alchymists. Apparently someone in the chain of production decided to save on some of the more expensive materials.

You are also vaguely aware that the Navy started using a new caulking material shortly before you came into service, which was using some amalgam or another which was vastly superior to the old ones. "Alchymists' Mast rings" were a highly coveted item on any ship, said to be twice as durable as the regular iron ones - and they were usually reserved by the Admiralty for third-rates and upwards.
"The name Pelagius sounds... exotic. Could it be it has some esoteric alchymical meaning?"

You addressed that question to Sartorius, but the professor interjects: "Heavens, no! Sir Webber would have our heads if we were to name the ship in any conspicuous fashion, and especially if it would give any hints to the vessel's purpose. The project itself is, of course, absolute secret - but we need to have some sort of a front to it. The payrolls, the Admiralty lists - they can't all be secret, and falsifying them is more trouble than it's worth. So, I christened it - I literally came up with the most generic word possible. The ancient hellenic word `pelagos`, means `sea`. The closest translation is 'one-of-the-sea'."

"Now that I think of it, I remember Kenneth gave the name of the vessel to Somersley in public that evening. I didn't think it odd at the time, but I remember I noticed that he was transferred off the Majestic."

"And why shouldn't he mention it in public? It is officially his post, as is yours. As far as any Frog spy can see, by inspecting official documents, the Pelagius is a steam-powered frigate with a crew of 50 intended to retrain outdated sailors such as you and Mister Kenneth."

"While we are here, may I be allowed to know why this vessel is so important 'to your order', as you put it?"

"I am twice-bound to secrecy on this matter. I will not speak of it."

"Forget it, Walter. I tried, trust me. I think not even the captain has been told." says Kenneth.

"Me neither", says the professor, cheerfully.

You are not sure you quite like this business, but the project has the Admiralty's backing. And, at the end of the day, the man in charge of the vessel will be Captain Sloane, and somehow you do not see him being an errand-boy for this man and his mystical order.

As you ponder that, abruptly, the Alchymist stands up.

"I must leave. I thank you for the food. It was filling. Also, Hamilton. I will appropriate this. I need it for the alkahest." As he says that, he takes the fork that he used to eat.

"The Devil you do! That is my personal possession. It's pure silver!"

"Not at all. It is at least one-part-in-four Zincum, and around one-in-twenty pyrrhotite."

"Oh, blast it all. Just take it."

"It's for the good of the project." Sartorius bows. "It was a pleasure. Peace upon you."

Then, he leaves.
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Kenneth says: "I don't think I've ever seen the old warlock talk that much. He must like you, Walter."

"Odd. I got the impression I had to pry each word from his mouth with pliers."

Hamilton says: "He certainly drives me up the wall at times, but he is actually very amiable when you come down to it. It's just, well. Trying to get a straight answer from an alchymist is kind of like trying to draw water from a stone. Even if it's something that is not a secret, or common knowledge. If it has to do with their order, they will assume this mysterious air about them and say as little as possible. The entire order was built on mysticism, parlour-tricks and deceptions. They believe knowledge is a currency and do not trust in giving out charity. And then, there is also the matter of their near-annihilation a mere half a century ago. I dare say we should also be paranoid and somewhat secretive under the same circumstances, gentlemen.

"Professor, do you happen to know - what do you suppose that business about `gold being forbidden` was all about? I didn't get the chance to ask him."

"Oh, that. From what I've gathered, the last time the Order dabbled in transmuting gold, it didn't end well for them."

"Imagine if the Commonwealth could have gold on demand."

"You are imagining, Sir, death and devastation."


"What if I told you, Mister Kenneth, that all the gold ever dug up in the world would not fill a third of a cube whose one side is ten yards long?"

"That doesn't sound right."

"And yet right it is, in fact, I should think that is a generous estimate. Its scarcity is one of the reasons why we use it as a basis for world trade and currency - that, and the fact it does not spoil. Now, think what would happen if you could just... generate gold whenever you felt like it. You would inundate the world with this precious metal, and in the process devalue it so as to cause an inflation of prices and a crisis of apocalyptic proportions. Without a solid backing for our currency, the credit system would fall apart, banks would close down, and governments would be unable to pay their public servants."
"But no, I do not think it is solely macro-economickal concerns that guide our friends in these matters. I must remind you, gentlemen, just how difficult it is to extract straight answers from Alchymists. Fortunately, there exist alternate sources, and also fortunately, I happen to possess a sizeable library. From what I was able to piece together, by collecting independent scholarly sources, the Order was caught up in some form of a schism a long time ago, before they were driven out out of the East. The point of contention was something called "the Proscribed Transmutations", which is, as best I can interpret it, a list of nine restrictions on what may and may not be attempted in the pursuit of their arcane art. Apparently, great doom befalls those who ignore its warnings.

"Now, from what I can gather, the Royal Alchymists that were granted refuge in the Commonwealth are all of the orthodox branch, which is still true to the ancient rules of the order and obey the proscriptions. I can't stress enough, gentlemen, just how important to them these proscriptions are. Imagine religious phanatics clutching a holy text, as they slay infidels with righteous zeal. This is what an alchymist will be reduced to if they catch so much as a whisper of the Proscriptions being broken.

"Well, if the texts are to be believed, transmutation of metals into gold is possible, provided you have quicksilver, some platinum, and prodigious amounts of the universal alkahest. However, it is one of the four lesser Proscribed Transmutations. I cannot recall all of them, but I do remember that charcoal and water also fall under strict proscription. Also, transmuting anything `east of Bismuth` is equally forbidden, in those precise words - so I will let you be the judge of them."

"So by mentioning the transmutation of gold..."

"I committed what amounts to an act of heresy to our good friend Mister Sartorius. This, even in jest, few people would be willing to overlook."
The rest of the dinner was uneventful. Eventually, you and Kenneth excused yourselves and went to the officers' barracks. That night you tossed and turned, and dreamt of ancient orders and salamanders dancing on cubes of gold.
There isn't much to speak about the daily routine in the Cove. It was an uneventful life, full of endless repetitive exercises, but it would be a poor naval officer indeed who wasn't accustomed to monotony.

Hours blurred together and shifted into days, days into weeks - before you knew it, months had passed.

You were given freedom of the submersible by the Captain, after about a month. "Every bolt and tack, Mr Glenister! Remember that!"

You can't say you regretted your choice. Of course, it took unlearning and relearning EVERYTHING, and you were isolated from the outside world. Once or twice you got a few days of leave, which you'd used to visit the estate and see to it that your mother was in good health. But inevitably, scarcely a day would pass with you in the outside world, before you would notice a certain restlessness, a desire to back in the Cove.

Perhaps you were simply glad at the opportunity to set foot on a ship again. Perhaps you were itching with anticipation to exact revenge on the Frogs for sinking the Fearless. Or maybe it had something to do with the fact that this was the world's first and only submersible.

Captain Sloane was every bit as ruthless as his reputation would have you think. He demanded endless drills and flawless discipline, and by the Gods, the crew gave their all.

(training montage BEGIN)
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"As you know, the most difficult problem with a submersible is how to keep the water out as you descend. The most vulnerable part of the submersible is - Mister Kenneth?"

"Uhm. The stern?"

"Perhaps to enemy fire. But - what I was getting at, was that the most vulnerable part is also the most crucial - the crew.

The only reason we need such complex engineering is that we want to submerge not only a vessel, but also the people inside. Since we are by definition vulnerable creatures which can only operate at the pressures of about one atmosphere (although my research leads me to believe that up to one and a half could be tolerated, if not for overlong), where ever we go, we must by necessity take our atmosphere with us.

This precipitates the need to submerge not just the crew, but also the atmosphere this crew is surrounded in. We surround this atmosphere (and crew)with a thick steel wall.

And that is what causes the problem - having the pressure of one atmosphere on one side of the steel wall, and many atmospheres (as is the case at any reasonable depth) on the other side of the wall, means the wall is suffering an enormous pressure gradient. Water wants to get in. It will not brook the existence of air at such depths. Nature abhors a vacuum, and as far as the oceans of the world are concerned, the interior of the Pelagius is vacuum, or close enough. So the seas will want to fill that vacuum, and they will stop at nothing to achieve their goal. The water will attempt to bend, gnaw, tear, and crush the walls until it has achieved its ultimate goal of filling this space, this atmosphere, with itself. Every second we spend underwater, denying the water this goal, it will actively try to do it, and in the process end our lives by way of drowning, suffocation, crushing, or some other form of blunt trauma.

The water, at those depths, compresses all sides of a hull equally, and it only needs to prevail in one spot, no matter how small. So, the entirety of the hull is only as strong as the weakest point in the hull.
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"The most efficient shape to withstand the pressures of the depths would be a sphere, but spheres are not terribly efficient, nor are humans accustomed to operating in such structures. Therefore, we opted for a capsular arrangmeent divided into decks, which resembles in shape most modern ships.

In addition to the Capsule, which is also called the INNER HULL, or the pressure hull - there is also the OUTER HULL, which was created to house all the bits and bobs that do not need to be couched in our single atmosphere. The propeller, the rudder, the ventral fins, some reservoirs, our hypercompression cylinders et cetera - they are all housed outside. In addition, the outer hull is fashioned in the ellipsoid shape, which gives it more efficiency overall when moving under water. The outer hull is made of a very thin layer of wood and metal - it needn't be thick, since it will be filled with water both on the inside and on the outside, so it will suffer no pressure gradient.

The Pressure Hull is divided into five compartments, labeled I - V as we move from the front to the rear.

In the case of flooding, each compartment can be sealed independently of others, although some compartments are more vital than others. Most notably, compartment IV is of absolute importance, as it houses the boilers and the coal furnace of the steam engine assembly. Compartment III is also crucial, because that's where the archimedean is. It cannot function for long if flooded. Generally the front of the vessel is more forgiving to being flooded, as it houses no vital systems - but naturally if such a calamity happens, the crew will be distributed to the other compartments, and impede the operations of the ship.

The Archimedean has sufficient buoyancy reserve to lift us with one, or perhaps even two fully flooded compartments.

Naturally, there are pumps, et cetera, the principles on which they operate being known well to any seaman - but the leaks must be minimal if we are to defeat them with pumps."
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"There are multiple HATCHES and WEAK POINTS on the hull. Since a submersible has no way of surveying its surroundings, we have three main Observation-Windows, one Rostral and two Lateral.

Since these weak points break the perfect symmetry of the capsule-shape, they will be especially exposed to the water's pressure forces, and are therefore extremely reinforced. Each of the observation stations is composed of the finest and hardest transparent substance known to man, seven inches thick, specially reinforced by rubies through a secret alchymical process.

Regardless, if something goes wrong, there is a contingency: all the weak points are created so they can be sealed off from the rest of the pressure hull.

There are also three EXIT HATCHES, in sections I, II and IV. They are small and reinforced sufficiently that they are not considered true weak points. They are closed during diving action, but when surfaced are the only way to exit to the top deck of the vessel. In case of emergency they can be completely sealed off. In case all three are sealed off, it should still be possible to abandon the vessel through the gondola, if we are close to the surface. More on that presently.
"There is also the VENTRAL GONDOLA which serves as an Aer-Lock for the divers. The gondola can be sealed off from the main hull, and indeed it is necessary to do so if divers want to leave the vessel. They can do so even at extreme depths, thanks to this system:

- first, they enter the gondola from the main hull.
- the gondola is sealed off from the hull, and flooded with sea water slowly
- once the gondola is fully flooded, the divers may open the external hatch and exit the vessel, regardless of the depth.

The process is done in reverse when divers may want to return to the vessel. They must enter the gondola, shut off all doors, then it is drained of water by pumps, at the end of which process they may freely enter the pressure hull.

The divers are in a rigid suit, and are kept in a one-atmosphere pressure by the vessel's pumps, which are connected to the suits through an umbilical hose. Should the pumps fail, the results for the divers would be immediately catastrophic and absolutely gruesome, if mercifully painless.

Incidentally, the Divers' suits are also equipped with the ruby-glass."
"Are there any questions so far?"

> ask anything you may wish to know on submersibles, theory of diving, or anything else. You are just a surface seaman, and nobody expects you to know these things.

I messed up and forgot to say, these infodump posts are in the form of lectures the professor gave you during your training on the structure and operation of Pelagius.

You will be expected to know, if not all of these details, then at least general principles, moving forward. You are the first lieutenant, after all.
What exactly is this ruby-glass substance? Is it some obscure alchymical creation, or able to made some other way? Also, what is the procedure for when the hull is damaged or breached in some way, as terrible as that may be?
"Should flooding still occur while we are at depth, Gods forbid, what is the correct course of action?"

"The vessel is divided into the five compartments by the presence of four thwartship bulkheads. These bulkheads all have exactly one hatch-door, which can be sealed off. In doing so, you will doom anyone left on the flooded side, although I should say it is a preferable option to the entire vessel flooding, or the steam engine exploding.

"Therefore, in the case that catastrophic flooding of a section occurs, the only prudent course of action is to evacuate into the neighbouring sections with absolute haste, and seal off the flooded section. Whenever possible, retreat to the aft of the vessel, instead of the fore.

"The commanding officer of the vessel should at that point send a signal to the engine room to initiate emergency surfacing as soon as possible. If all officers are incapacitated, the Ship's Engineer and Ship's Alchymyst both have the authority to initiate the surfacing procedure. This procedure shall be described in due course."
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Kenneth raises an arm. "I want to know more about the so-called ruby glass, professor. I presume it is of Alchymical orygin? How rich would I be if I took it to a pawn-shoppe?"

"I wouldn't get my hopes up, if I were you, Mister Kenneth. If you want to be rewarded with riches, you would be better off taking it to Vierre or League agents. The substance in question actually has no official name yet. We have taken to calling it `ruby-glass` because the term is sometimes colloquially used to describe burgundy glass, which only has a decorative purpose, as a way to make red-tinted plates and does not, in fact, contain any rubies, but a colloid of gold. We hope any spies catching wind of its production might be so misdirected.

A more correct way to refer to this substance would be `pressure-glass`. It is created in a special alchymically-enhanced process where nine parts molten glass are mixed to one part molten substrate of rubies, with the further addition of some other materials. The molten mixture is then poured into moulds in layers, and cooled very gradually. The presence of rubies, as well as some other artefacts of the process, give it a most recognizable yellowish tint.

"I do need to warn you, however, gentlemen - while glass obtained this way is supremely resistant to pressure, do not make the mistake of thinking it indestructible. In fact, it is only slightly more resistant to mechanickal force than regular glass."
> "This is a ship of war. Don't those glass windows present an enormous risk in combat action?"

> So we are one Frog breath-diver with a hammer away from being sunk, then?

> "Isn't the visibility underwater usually low? The windows don't seem all that useful for the risk they introduce."
>> "This is a ship of war. Don't those glass windows present an enormous risk in combat action?"
>> "Isn't the visibility underwater usually low? The windows don't seem all that useful for the risk they introduce."
> "This is a ship of war. Don't those glass windows present an enormous risk in combat action?"
> "Isn't the visibility underwater usually low? The windows don't seem all that useful for the risk they introduce."
>This is a ship of war. Don't those glass windows present an enormous risk in combat action?"
"Isn't the visibility underwater usually low? The windows don't seem all that useful for the risk they introduce."
"This is a ship of war.", you say. "Isn't that glass an enormous risk that could sink the entire vessel?"

"Indeed it is, Mister Glenister. We would, of course, prefer to have the entire hull be one unbroken capsule of solid metal. However, this is not feasible. For one, the submersible must be steered while underwater."

"So you say, but I am given to understand that underwater visibility is quite poor."

"And you would understand correctly. Although in the low depths, when the waters are calm and the sun is high up in the sky, light can propagate upwards of two hundred yards, these are not conditions we can rely on. The deeper we go, the less sunlight penetrates.

"Fortunately, we have the galvanick dynamo, which is powered by the steam engine. The dynamo's current is directed through copper wires and ends up with a resistor amalgam - also of Alchymical origin, I must say - which can heat up and produce immense lighting without melting. We use an assortment of mirrors to reflect the light, as it were, and thus are able to illuminate up to several hundred yards as bright as day, even in the darkest of the aquatic abyss."

"Well, I will give you that. But that explains the rostral observation-window. But what about the two side-windows extending from the Salon in section II?"

"Ah, that." The professor flushes slightly. "Those are my doing. My idea was, why have a submersible if the gentlemen aboard cannot use it to look at the wonders of the marine life at depths?"


"Fret not! I was able to persuade the Admiralty engineers that we need functional auxiliary observation posts, should the main rostral observation-window be incapacitated. I am certain even you will agree it's preferable to running blind."

"I should more prefer running blind than running the risk of being drowned with all hands."

"For that very reason all the observation-platforms are actually separate chambers, protruding from the hull. They each have their own pressure door, and indeed, they are sealed off. The doors are only to be opened when a person wants to enter or exit.

"Furthermore, I should note that the vessel is so engineered that all the observation windows never break surface, and so they are not exposed in the case of enemy fire. I do not believe it is possible to impart sufficient mechanickal force under water to break the glass from the outside. I suppose a cannonball fired at close range, depressed downward to break the surface of water, would be able to shatter the glass. We are talking distances of twenty yards or less.

"So, keep at range from Frog ships. Noted."
"Now, gentlemen, let's discuss buoyancy. In designing submersibles, we take advantage of the fact that even a cylinder made of thick steel, if filled with air, will weigh less in total than the equivalent volume of water. This means that water will naturally strive to push it upwards. This means that no Alchymical tricks are necessary to achieve buoyancy - as long as you have a hull, and keep it full of air rather than water, it will tend to raise to the surface."

"Our Pelagius' pressure hull has a volume slightly less than 1700 cubic yards, which could fit 1200 tonnes of water. In scientific terms, we say the Pelagius has a displacement of 1200 tonnes."

"Professor, we passed our Lieutenants' exams. We know what bloody displacement is."

"Quite so, quite so. My apologies, gentlemen."

"Now, to fully submerge, this means that we want our submarine to weigh exactly 1200 tonnes. That way, it is in a state of neutral buoyancy.

"However, we want to use an Archimedean to control our buoyancy, and it can only create lift. For that reason, do three things:
- one, we keep the weight of the pressure hull, the external hull, the crew, et cetera, nominally around 1150 tonnes."
- two, we bolt on armour plates on the external hull for extra protection and ballast, to the magnitude of 150 tonnes. Pelagius now weighs 1300 tonnes, and will sink, since it is heavier than its displacement.
- three, we activate the vessel's Archimedean apparatus. The largest units used in Our Majesty's airships routinely achieve lifts of five-hundred tonnes. We do not need such power, and space in a submersible is at a premium, so we settle for a smaller unit, which can provide an output of two hundred tonnes of lift and, as far as the League patent office is concerned, is currently installed in an air-sloop in the Northern Airfleet called "The Phantom". Needless to say, no such sloop actually exists. I came up with the name", he beams.

"That way, by a simple turn of a knob on the Archimedean (though my friend Sartorius would have us all know it is a fair bit more complex than that), we can modify the effective "mass" of the submersible in the range of 1100-1300 tonnes - 1300 when the Archimedean is shut off, and 1100 when it is working at capacity - and thus freely control whether we rise or dive. Though in most operations, a gentler differential is sufficient, and the official guidelines we've come up with is that the Archimedean should usually operate in the range of +- 20 tonnes from the neutral buoyancy. You do not need to concern yourselves with these numbers, as this is the purview of the Ship's Alchymist and the Alchymist's mates.
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The Archimedean can also be overloaded to provide an emergency lift equal of an additional 300, or even 400 tonnes of lift. Once this process is started, Mister Sartorius assures me, it is irreversible, and will also cause the apparatus to explode after several minutes - at most. However, it is worth knowing. You will note this emergency lift should be sufficient to raise the vessel even with one fully flooded compartment.

"Now, one detail should be of concern to you. Perhaps you already know this, but in order for the Archimedean to output any lift at all, it needs constant mechanickal power supplied to it in order to operate a certain arrangement of pumps. We, in turn, need the Archimedean to stay afloat, or even achieve neutral buoyancy. For this reason, the coal furnace must constantly function to keep the steam boilers at high pressure. In the case we cannot power the Archimedean pumps, its lift will fall to zero over the course of seconds to minutes. This has implications on our coal usage, and also I would remind you that our time underwater is limited by the reserves of phlogisticated aer, which the coal furnace must consume to function"

"So if the engine malfunctions for whatever reason while we are underwater, we are doomed?"

"Well, I wouldn't say our prospects are that grim, Mister Glenister. If the furnace isn't working, it is not consuming our phlogisticated aer, which means we have a long time to attempt to repair it. We just need to execute a controlled drop to the bottom. Well, assuming the sea floor is above our implosion depth, of course."

"Our what?"

"Never mind that now, mister Kenneth. It will be covered in due course."

Kenneth turns to you: "Did you also hear the words `implosion depth` or is it just me?"

"... moving on. There is one last contingency for emergency surfacing, which should work even in the case that the Archimedean, or the steam engine, fail.

"You gentlemen will, I hope, remember that we added an extra 150 tonnes of steel armour plates to the external hull of the Pelagius. Well, it is possible to detonate a very small and strategically placed series of explosives in the outer hull. These explosives will work even underwater, courtesy of our good friend Mister Sartorius. These explosives will, if detonated, proceed to discard the armour plates while leaving the rest of the submersible ... fairly... intact, as I understand it. Assuming we haven't got a flooded compartment, this will reduce our mass to 1150 tonnes. This is sufficient to achieve positive buoyancy."

"Of course, this must be a last recourse. Without the armour plates, the Pelagius will not only be an easy target for enemy fire, it will also be completely unable to submerge until a lengthy refit."
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You and Kenneth are to be the only lieutenants on board. This surprised you somewhat when you learned it. The truth is, nobody knows how many lieutenants a submersible is entitled. In theory, such a vessel operates much like a frigate would - independently; a frigate is also entitled to three lieutenants. However, with the absence of rigging and cannon crews, there is simply no demand for the same amount of crew as would be present on a wood-and-sail ship.

The crew numbers merely eighty men, and a vast proportion of them are warrant officers or mates, in charge of various systems and contraptions such as are necessary to keep the submersible in operation. There are fully eight people required for the operation of the Steam Engine alone.

Although it makes sense to have no more than two lieutenants to eighty men, the submersible carries no midshipmen (on account of it being an experimental vessel, where every man has to be specially trained). This by itself already means that you and Kenneth will have your hands full, but it doesn't help that you are also performing the duties of a Sailing Master, and Kenneth those of a Purser.

All the crewmen on board are volunteers, and, apparently, hand-picked. Nobody was on the list without Sir Webber's say so.
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Length: 42m (pressure hull), 55m (outer hull + tail fin)
Beam: 6m (pressure hull), 8m (outer hull)
Height: 15m (including the dorsal fin)

Total weight: ~ 1300 tonnes, 150 of which is in discardable armour plates.

Submerged Displacement (volumetric): cca.1200 tonnes
Archimedean Apparatus Displacement (artificial): +200 tonnes (up to +600 in emergency Mode)

Cruising Speed: 10 Knots, or 4 Leagues per Hour (surfaced), 4 Knots or 1.6 Leagues per Hour (submerged).
Maximum Speed of 16 Knots has been achieved on the Surface, but at almost triple the Coal Expenditure.

Maximum underwater Time with Steam engines on: 56 hours (depending on the Air Reserve).

Hypercompression Reservoirs: 220 cubic Yards, rated for 150 Atmospheres
Time to recharge Reservoirs when surfaced: 5 Hours

Speculated implosion Depth: cca. 600 Fathoms (120 Atmospheres)
Divers' Suits maximum Depth: cca. 400 Fathoms (80 Atmospheres)

Coal Reserve: 250 tonnes.
Coal Consumption: cca. one Tonne per 10 Leagues at cruising Speed

Malachite Reserves (Archimedean Catalyst): 10lb
Malachite Consumption: cca. 1 Oz. per Week
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The Pelagius was not built for broadsides. Although it is sufficiently armoured to withstand enemy fire, it only has one cannon, and that is its deck's 8pdr Compression cannon. Apparently, the professor and the Alchymist tried everything they could to have normal, gunpowder-based cannons on the top (external) deck, but their every attempt failed, as the guns would, needs must, spend most of their time underwater, and then upon surfacing would be required to quickly fire.

The only solution was a compression cannon - a technologickal contrivance adapted (inferiorly) from League airships. You saw first hand what these weapons could do in sufficient numbers - your last ship, the Fearless, was wrecked by these very same weapons, mounted on Vierre airships.

They used hyper-compressed steam (and in the Pelagius' case, some alchymical amalgam) to propel shells. The range and ammunition velocity of these weapons are not to be envied - around half that of a regular smoothbore cannon, pound-for-pound. It also exhausts the hypercompression cylinders - but that is less of a concern on the Pelagius, because if you are shooting the deck-gun, that means you are surfaced, and if you are surfaced, that means you can refill the cylinders at will.

The cannon was installed to combat enemy airships, though they would still be favoured in a one-to-one fight, thanks to gravity working in their favour, slowing down your shells, and not doing anything to impede theirs.

Pelagius was never intended as an anti-airship weapon. However, approximately sixty percent of world commerce was still run on plain old navy ships. And here, the Pelagius reigned supreme, due to its only real shipboard weapon: the One-Ton Pneumatick Harpoon. You have heard the word "torpedo" being thrown around, but you it somehow feels too cumbersome to stick.

This weapon used compressed air to propel itself forward through the ocean. It could be fired from a submerged position (a convenient optickal device called the Polemoscope, situated in the bridge, helped with aiming in that case), and it had a theoretickal range of approximately five hundred yards

The tip of the Harpoon would embed itself into the enemy ship - be it wooden or iron - and explode with sufficient force to effect a sinking.

"Incidentally", you remember the professor explaining, "due to our window weak points, it is ill-advised to explode the pneumatick harpoon less than fifty yards away from the Pelagius."
(also willing to take any questions regarding the operation of the vessel at this time. Ask anything Walter might have learned that I skipped, or anything you think Walter may want to know, or anything YOU might want to know. There are no stupid questions. Don't worry about missing some of the infodump, I am consolidating everything into a pastebin for future reference, and you can always ask mid-quest as to what Walter SHOULD know about a situation. To those who made it this far, your efforts will be rewarded. We are almost done with the training.)

As First Lieutenant, you spend your days and weeks training and familiarizing yourself with the details of the vessel's operation. And while you don't have the luxury of neglecting any particular aspect of your training, because you need to be able to command every system of the vessel - that doesn't preclude the possibility that you find just a little bit of extra time for certain activities over the others. For example:

(pick any TWO, the two with the highest cumulative votes win)

> Getting to know each and every man in the crew personally, spending time with them and trying to earn their respect, although you draw the line at playing cards (a gentleman never puts his subordinates in a position where he would take their money)
> Practicing steering, submerging, and surfacing the vessel, by directing it from the Observation post, including personally guiding the vessel through tight crevices.
> Spending time with the chief engineer and his crews, working the boilers, the pumps, and picking up on how crucial ship systems operate and are repaired. You even pick up a wrench yourself a few times.
> Doing ceaseless drills in the diving-suit with the Chief Diver, until moving underwater and manipulating items while inside the so-called Lobster Suits is second nature
> Reevaluating everything you know about navigation, now that you know of the Pelagius' capabilities, until you have knowledge of every nook and cranny of the depth charts of Continent, the Commonwealth and the Colonies.
> Doing Pneumatick Harpoon targeting drills, including live exercises with uncapped harpoons against a decommissioned tug.
> Performing gunnery training drills and live exercises with the deck 8-pounder, on naval, land, and air dummy targets.
> Brushing up on fencing and pistol skills by sparring with the Captain of Marines. Pelagius is not intended for boarding action, but a gentleman should always be prepared.
> Practicing steering, submerging, and surfacing the vessel, by directing it from the Observation post, including personally guiding the vessel through tight crevices.
> Reevaluating everything you know about navigation, now that you know of the Pelagius' capabilities, until you have knowledge of every nook and cranny of the depth charts of Continent, the Commonwealth and the Colonies.
>Will we have to dock each time we want to restock on coal/weapons or are there deliveryships?

> Doing ceaseless drills in the diving-suit with the Chief Diver, until moving underwater and manipulating items while inside the so-called Lobster Suits is second nature.
Practicing steering, submerging, and surfacing the vessel, by directing it from the Observation post, including personally guiding the vessel through tight crevices.
Support. These two are the most important for a Lieutenant, and the others can be done over the course of the journey.

Since we're kitted out for coastal raiding, and we have diving suits, we can always loot the wrecks of ships we sink.
>> Practicing steering, submerging, and surfacing the vessel, by directing it from the Observation post, including personally guiding the vessel through tight crevices
> Spending time with the chief engineer and his crews, working the boilers, the pumps, and picking up on how crucial ship systems operate and are repaired. You even pick up a wrench yourself a few times.

Also, can we also ask engineering and maybe the alchemist to see if they can design anything like Scuba gear?
Steering and navigation it is. Writing.
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You remember asking the Captain at some point during your training: "What is the expected supply situation, Sir? It seems that our operating range is limited by the coal reserve we carry aboard. I've never served on a furnace-power'd ship before. Are there supply ships?"

He lead you aside and said in a quiet voice:

"You hit the nail on the head, Mister Glenister, though I would expect no less from you nor Mister Kenneth. We can't very well run back to Woolswitch Cove every month. But we are also under strict orders to not reveal our capabilities for now, nor come to in ports where we could be seen and closely inspected. I am assured we have the full support of the two Admiralties, for whatever that is worth. But ships are full of men, and men can and will talk. Such is the secrecy of our mission that we are to minimize even the daytime exposure to the eyes of His Majesty's sailors and airmen."

He unfurled a map and showed you a few spots as he spoke:

"Now, the Air Wing currently operates two colliers - surface ships, if you can believe it, converted fourth-rates, purchased from us by the Air Admiralty. One is the northern seas, here, and the other one in westernmost Glannoch, here (think Celtic sea). They normally service airships, but we could do our coaling at anchor with them in the event of an emergency. It is a hideous job, even in calm seas.

As for the other supplies... the Pneumatick Harpoons are the critical item, I believe. Needless to say, they are not stocked anywhere but in the Cove.

My one hope is, though I hate to say it, the Air Admiralty. I believe the most painless option is for Sir Webber to leverage them into providing us with dedicated supply airships whensoever our mission requires it, crewed by trustworthier men than the rejects they would no doubt send to man their colliers."
> Also, can we also ask engineering and maybe the alchemist to see if they can design anything like Scuba gear?

"Professor, I was wondering..."

"Yes, Mister Glenister?"

"I have done my drills in the lobster suit, and I can tell you now it's the most dreadful experience I've had yet. I never liked practicing in them, they are extremely cumbersome, and it takes minutes to do even simple tasks."

"Such is the price we must pay to be able to leave the submersible at depth. Did you get to fire the manual pneumatick harpoons?"

"Yes, and I missed the training dummy three times in a row, at ten yards' distance".

"They take time to grow proficient with. Or so I am told. I scarcely believe I'd be able to hit anything with a pistol on dry ground, let alone under the surface. Do you have anything on your mind?"

"It's just, I remembered, while I was serving on the Fearless, one of our assignments took us to the Eccleston Isles, east of the Malayis. There were pearl divers there, and other wonders. The pearl divers would use a system of ropes and weights to dive to extreme depths, with naught but the breath in their lungs. I've personally seen a man dive to twenty-five fathoms, and come back up, neat as you please, and with pearls in his hand."

"I wish I was there to see it - but I don't doubt it for a second!"

"I was wondering, we have these hypercompressed-aer tanks... couldn't we do away with the lobster suit and create some kind of arrangement where only the head, or ideally, the mouth, is in contact with gas cylinders?"

"I find myself uniquely equipped to answer your questions in this matter, Mister Glenister, though I must admit I've never ventured east of Lydia. My original seat at the College was that of a marine biologist, though I have moved on to other things since, as you can probably well imagine."
As the professor switches into lecture mode, you briefly have time to regret asking anything, before you are inundated with information:

"We do not yet know all the physiologickal effects of depths on man. What we do know is that as you go deeper you receive greater and greater pressure from the seawater around you. Around one atmosphere per five fathoms.

Now, I suppose, for purposes of shallow water diving, I suppose it is feasible to create some air-bubble or cylinder arrangement that would remove the need for cables and lobster suits. But at any depth below, say, ten fathoms, or twenty - this will never happen, I fear."

"But aren't there all manner of creatures living in the depths?"

"Their bodies are filled with water, much like ours is, and water is for all intents and purposes incompressible. Though it is questionable how our circulatory and nervous systems would work exposed to extremely high pressure, we might surmise we could actually get to great depths without destruction, were it not for one crucial detail where we differ from that marine faune, Mister Glenister: lungs. We have lungs which must in our case be filled with aer. Were the lungs filled with water we could somehow breathe - if we could grow gills, or breathe liquids, for example - then, I give you, we might leave the Pelagius at any depth without our ribcages getting crushed by the water pressure. But that just poses further challenges. The depths of the sea are cold, Mister glenister, very cold indeed. Without the protection of the lobster suit, even if we wouldn't suffocate, we would freeze.

So, no. If we are to exit the submersible at depths of two hundred fathoms, we must by necessity take our aer with us. Which means we must encase that aer in steel shells, which is our lobster suits."

"But why in the devil should we ever want to exit the vessel at such enormous depths?"

"Why indeed, Mister Glenister. Why, indeed. I would be no man of science if I wasn't curious about that myself. I was asked to design the suits to certain parameters. The reason they gave me was: repairs in case the vessel is stranded at depth. Most peculiar, at any rate"

And with that, he resumes writing down his notes.
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> Practicing steering, submerging, and surfacing the vessel, by directing it from the Observation post, including personally guiding the vessel through tight crevices

When Professor Hamilton first spoke about those damned ruby-infused windows, you didn't realize just how much time you would spend staring through one.

The bridge was all the way back in Section III, but it was built to communicate with all other compartments of note, including the observation posts, through a clever system of pneumatick tubes. Incidentally, the tube running from the observation post had its own small sealing mechanism on the place where it went into the hull, with four inches of solid steel.

You spent equal amounts of time on both sides of the steering chain, the bridge and the observation post. Sadly, no steering mechanism could be fit into the observation post itself, as it would be yet another thing to penetrate into the hull.

Additionally, you made it a point to also run the "no voice" drills, that presupposed some catastrophe which made the pneumatick system not work. For that purpose, a system of cables was ready, pulled through the inside of the hull, which could be used to signal the bridge and vice-versa, This could, in theory, work even if there were flooded compartments between the observation posts and the bridge. As a seaman, you were more used to using flag signals, so it took a while to learn this new method of communication.

It wasn't much time until you knew the layout of the depth chart of the Cove and the surrounding waters like the back of your own hand. In addition to schools of fish, the Cove had far more seaweed than you would have thought, a veritable forest of undergrowth. A more scholarly inclined gentleman would most likely appreciate the chance to examine at detail this subaquatic flora and fauna. To you, it was just seaweed and fish getting in the way.

You also made sure you kept Sartorius busy in the Alchymists' alcove, with all the submersion and surfacing drills you did. The Captain had entire crew lined up on the top deck and hatches sealed, then everyone would get in, submerge to twenty yards, touch the bottom, surface again, and get to the top deck, and seal hatches. This is called the "hatch-to-hatch" time and was supposed to be done in seven minutes.

You and the crew, under the merciless drills made by Captain Sloane, were able to shave it down to five minutes and thirty seconds.
Maneuvering the submersible slowly became your second nature over the months. Mercifully, its velocity was slower when fully submerged. With all the visibility issues, moving at ten knots when underwater would be a sure way into a disaster. In the end, you developed decent instincts for how the vessel maneuvered based on different conditions. You knew that the rudder fin would slightly trim to the left, yet when you measured the cables they were of identical size on both sides and not a thing in the world could explain it. You knew all about how it would lurch slightly when the Archimedean was set to increased output and you started surfacing. You knew how tightly it could turn when completely underwater, and when on the surface.

It was months and months of hard work, but at the end, you felt comfortable enough to the point where you could attempt the supreme trial:

The Hangman's Narrow.

It was named by some joker (you suspected Kenneth) before you even came aboard, and earmarked as the Captain as the perfect feature to practice manoeuvering the vessel at depth. It was a natural crevice which began some 400 yards off the shore, starting at a comfortable depth of around twenty fathoms. It expands and contracts along its meandering trajectory, but at no point is it narrower than the Pelagius, with all its fins. At points it narrows dangerously, with scarcely few yards of clearance on each side. The reason why it has been deemed ideal for practice is that it is not terribly deep, so even if something goes terribly wrong, people can still evacuate calmly through the gondola. And, at any rate, the attempt can be aborted at any time, because, by simply ascending five fathoms the Pelagius would be clear of the crevice.

The Captain was the one who pushed for the exercise, actually.

"Sir, it's a risk, isn't it? This is a one-of-a-kind ship. If we damage it, the whole project will suffer."

"Mister Glenister, it is wholly up to the Admiralty if we will spend most our time in the open ocean or slinking along like blackguards on the floor near enemy coasts. We are prepared for the former eventuality. By God, Sir, we will also be prepared for the latter. And if we are incapable of it, I say, we shall better serve His Majesty by all drowning now than running aground on shores of Vierre."

"In that case, I shall personally be in the forward observation room."

"I expect no less - and I shall likewise be at the steering wheel. We will commence the drill at six bells. Good Luck, Mister Glenister."

You nod and start to leave, but the Captain interrupts:

"Oh, Mister Glenister?"

"Aye, Captain?"

"No voice. Wire signals only."

"... Aye, Captain."

And that was that. Pretty soon, you find yourself in the observation room, and hear six bells. You hear the whirr of the Archimedean powering down, and the vessel starts to descend. You take a deep breath...

(Roll a d6. Higher is better. You do not want a 1.)
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>So, no. If we are to exit the submersible at depths of two hundred fathoms, we must by necessity take our aer with us. Which means we must encase that aer in steel shells, which is our lobster suits."

Was thinking of using Scuba gear and fins to swim around more shallow regions if the need came about.

I certainly prefer the option to be more mobile in such an environment.

>(Roll a d6. Higher is better. You do not want a 1.)

Oh man, i have a checkered history with these things...
Hamilton sort of skirted around that question. He was only asked to do high-pressure suits and so he did just those. Pushing for a low-depth more mobile solution was not part of the requirements. Although, it sounds like something you could easily talk him into researching in his free time, especially once you're out at sea.

> 6
Congrats, you didn't wreck the submarine! Writing.
By the way, GM, you ever played Subnautica?
Insisting on all those maneuver drills, including sometimes into late night hours, didn't exactly make you a favourite with the crew. But they were necessary. You only wish they were here, now, in the forward observation post (already nicknamed "the forward bubble" by the crew), to witness how you manoeuvred the vessel, and realize it was all worth it.

You remember how you trembled at the very thought you would have to navigate through those treacherous passes the first time you saw the Hangman's Narrow. Even today, it would be a lie to say you didn't take the communications wires with some apprehension. But the moment the propeller started turning, all thought was removed from your head. It was as if you had became one with the Pelagius, as if you had a new body, an enormous, steel, aquatic one, and you were its eyes and ears, and yes, the brain too, as you were able to effortlessly make it move every which way with a single twitch of your fingers.

And - you had to admit - the Captain did his damnedest too, back at the bridge, at the helm. You had a two-way connection with him, and though you could only use wires, through your fingers, you two talked as eloquently as the Professor could. No signal wasted.

Few men will ever experience this surreal feeling. Sixty lives, at your fingertips.

And you steered the vessel so neatly, so accurately, that not a single fin so much as scratched the rocks around and below you.

When the submersible finally surfaced, you could swear you heard some commotion from behind. At first, you were afraid you'd damaged the vessel after all, somehow. When you opened the hatch to the bubble, you and were greeted by Kenneth's daft grin. He was followed by at least twenty crewmen, which was quite a feat, in that narrow corridor.

"Three cheers for Wiggly Walter! Hip hip..."

As the crowd cheered, you realized you did not really take kindly to that nickname, and that you would do your best for it not to stick. You also started compiling a list of terrible words that would go well with `Kenneth`. Just in case.

"That was some impressive seamanship, Mister Glenister. Submersibleshipmanship? Either way. There were people in the gondola, and the side-bubbles. We saw the whole thing!"

"Are you lot insane? If I'd destroyed the windows on the gondola, even so much as scratched the side-windows... this is an egregious breach of discipline. The Captain will have our heads when he hears it!"

"Who do you think commanded us to be in there in the first place?"

Perk obtained: Rigorous helmsmanship training: +1 to Helmsmanship rolls when steering, observing, or commanding for the Pelagius.
Perk obtained: Wiggly Walter: reroll the first 1 on your Helmsmanship roll each session, when steering, observing, or commanding for the Pelagius.
> Reevaluating everything you know about navigation, now that you know of the Pelagius' capabilities, until you have knowledge of every nook and cranny of the depth charts of Continent, the Commonwealth and the Colonies.

Although the flashy business of navigating the Hangman's Narrow certainly did a lot to restore the affections of your grumpy crew, a much less ceremonious, but no less vital, part of your training was spent at the work-desk.

Many a sunset would find you with your face in navigation charts. You learned over the months that good depth charts of the shoreline are actually extremely hard to come by, and what little you did have was often contradictory. Between most of the maps, people rarely could even agree on where the shoreline was. The Longitude problem had only been solved recently, after all, and although the Admiralty did its best to maintain a list of up-to-date maps, it was a slow process and you had to barter and bargain to get some of the newer, unconfirmed books sent to you.

The Isles of the Commonwealth themselves were decently mapped, and the depths measured were usually correct. As for the shoreline of the Continent, there is no other explanation than that Vierre and League cartographers were either drunk, incompetent, or deliberately passed the wrong information for decades as an underhanded espionage tactic.

Every day, weather permitting, you made it a point to step onto the top deck of the Pelagius, sextant in one hand, compass in another. When Pelagius was afloat, it was easy to forget what she truly was: its deck was still a deck, the Sun was still the Sun, and the sextant still did its job well enough.

The vessel was, of course, not yet allowed to venture outside the safety and the strict naval quarantine that Woolswitch Cove enjoyed, and so, there was no practical way to test your skills. You did it regardless of the hubbub going behind you, regardless of the compressors filling the pneumatick cylinders with breathable aer, or the crew practicing with the 8-pounder.

It is not a job that will earn you the Captain's praise - few will even know you invested the effort. However, you will sleep just that much more soundly at sea, knowing that even should you lose all your maps, you would personally still be able to navigate the Pelagius through the shallows of most Frog harbours, using nothing but a compass and a spyglass.

(there are no rolls for this one, I cannot think how to make a navigation roll dramatic.)

Perk obtained: Rigorous navigation training: +1 to Navigation rolls. Passive: memorized the depth charts of all the major shorelines of the Continent and the Isles.
Since we started with the perks, here is to complete the character sheet, these are the other perks you have:

A Long Naval Tradition: You come from a naval family, and it has shaped your education from the earliest days. You are literate, and have learned from a young age a vast corpus of books about naval history. As a result you learned quickly while in service, and possess an above-average knowledge of navigation and operation.
+1 Navigation
+1 Shipcraft

The Devil's Own Luck at Cards: +1 when playing games of chance, and additional +1 for card games (though, you do know that gambling is prohibited on the ships of His Majesty's Royal Navy, right?)

Here are some guidelines of the stats you already have:

Navigation: used when you want to know your position at sea, and estimate directions. It is how precisely you can estimate a vessel's position and course, how meticulously you maintain your maps. It also includes the art of reading maps, and general knowledge of geography. At high levels of success it is possible to recognize a stretch of shore just from looking at it.

Shipcraft: shipcraft is how well you can estimate things about ships just by looking at them. This includes estimating damage by inspecting it, both on your own ship and also looking at remote ships through a spy-glass. You can also glean information about the ship status by inferring how heavy she lays, whether she leans on one side, etc. This also includes estimating wind situation and its effects on ships of sail... for whatever that is worth.

Helmsmanship: helmsmanship is the ability to make the ship move and behave as you want, which at sea is not always an easy proposition. Things such as : turning rapidly, avoiding obstacles, directing the ship through narrow passages, making it keep course in adverse conditions...

There are other stats like Gunnery, Marksmanship, Ship Mechanicks etc. Instead of maintaining them all, we'll just mention the ones we have. If there is justification for you being at least remotely proficient in something (hint: for all the operations of the Pelagius, you are), then even if you don't have a skill you can do an unmodified roll. I don't see this setting becoming crunch-heavy, but now you know where your strengths lie.
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(training montage COMPLETE)

As the sun slowly approaches the horizon, the entire crew of the Pelagius, even the Alchymist, is arrayed in front of the Captain, you and Kenneth.

The captain is holding a dispatch in his hand, and addresses the men in a booming voice:

"Gentlemen, I am pleased to announce that, as of this day, 21st Brumaire, in the Year of our Gods 812, the HMS(S) Pelagius has passed all of its sea trials, and has been confirmed by the Admiralty that it is to enter active service. By special order of the Admiralty, this ship is to immediately be put into commission. Much as I would like to have a proper commissioning ceremony, this will, as I am sure you will understand, not be possible, due to our unique circumstances. Mister Harkenney!"


The short, stocky Ship's Engineer comes to the fore. You have, of course, spent some time with him. He smoked harder than the engine he was maintaining, and he swore just as profusely at times, but overall, he was a competent man. Not a single one in the crew wasn't.

"Has the funnel leak been repaired?"

"Aye, Sir."

"And is the Coal Furnace capable of operating to full capacity, to the best of your knowledge?"

"Aye, Sir. I will vouch for it."

"And have the boilers been inspected? We will have no more untoward surprises?"

"Aye, Sir. That is to say, we won't, Sir. I've seen to it personally."

"Very well. Mister Glenister!"


"The roll-call will be at four bells. Ensure the vessel is in seaworthy state and ready to raise anchor."

"Aye, Sir!"

"Gentlemen, you've done well. On the morrow, we set sail. That is all. Dismissed."

"Dis-MISSED!", you yell, and as the crowd begins dispersing, you reflect a bit upon your training. Has it really been - what, less than five months? It seems unreal to you. There isn't a bolt on the vessel that you are not familiar with, just as the Captain demanded. But even so, you feel that you aren't quite ready. There are so many things you have yet to learn. You suddenly realize that the coast of Vierre is scarce 90 leagues away. You could be engaging enemy shipping tomorrow-evening.

As you look at the sunset, you clench your fist, and make a vow to yourself:
> I will honour my late father's memory.
> I will make a difference in this war.
> I will get revenge on the Frogs.
> I will acquire prestige and glory.
> (other)

Alright, that's it for training. Tomorrow we start sailing, and with all the infodumps behind us, we will return to a slightly more standard, hopefully more interactive quest format. I do not blame the people who skipped the walls of text, but I intend this thread to be "the reference manual" on the capabilities of the vessel for future quests. I am open to any questions and / or feedback.

> I will acquire prestige and glory.
>I will Win.
> I will acquire prestige and glory.
I will make a difference in this war.
>I will acquire prestige and glory.
> I will make a difference in this war.
Thanks QM! A bit long, but ultimately necessary. Looking forward to where we sail (?) to next.
>> (other)
I will master the depths like no man has ever dreamed.
>I will make a difference in this war.
I would support this, but I think the ship (heh) has long sailed for the others.
>> I will make a difference in this war.
I will make a difference in this war, you said to yourself on that day.
Of course, should some glory and prestige come my way as a side-effect, all the better.

Or so you thought at the time. Unfortunately, submersible warfare is so far proving a less glamorous sort of beast.

"Smoke off the starboard bow!"

You confirm the sighting with your spy-glass.

"Not another bloody airship!" you say, in frustration, even as you reach for the pneumatick tube that leads to the bridge. "Airship sighted, starboard bow. Commence dive preparations." You turn to the other seamen on the top deck.

"DIVE ORDERS! BRING HER DOWN! Rogers, get down, faster man! Ferguson, you and your division tear down the funnel! MacKinley, secure the eight-pounder! ROGERS, WHAT DID I JUST BLOODY SAY?! COME NOW, MAN, OR WE LEAVE YOU UP THERE. We have two minutes, WORK FASTER, PEOPLE!"

You are the last on deck, so you secure the hatch as you descend down to the bridge. As of now, you do not feel like you are making too much difference in the war. Prestige and glory seem similarly out of reach, for now. But then, it's only been two days.

The bridge is small, stuffy, dimly lit by two lamps - but sufficient for the three officers, the primary steering helm, several clock-like indicators, and a veritable jungle of pneumatick-tubes with such labels as BOILER ROOM, GALVANICKS, FORE CREW QUARTERS, ALCOVE, et cetera. Reports start incoming:

"All hands reporting at stations", a pneumatick tube reports.

"Engine room, funnel is laid down and funnel hatch is secure."

"Front section, hatch secure."
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The captain, bent over a map, says calmly, without raising his eyes: "That should be it, Mister Glenister. Bring her down to six."

"Aye, sir, bring her down, six fathoms" You take a pneumatick cylinder. "Bridge to Alcove, reduce buoyancy to ninety."

Not much would actually seem different to the untrained eye, but the acoustics of the sea penetrate even as far as the bridge, and gradually the quality of the sound around you changes, and the violent sinusoid motion of a surface ship subsides into a serene, steady course. You observe the depth needle on your instruments, until...

"Bridge to Alcove. Put her in neutral, Mister Sartorius."

"We serve."

From six fathoms depth, the polemoscope takes some time to raise above the surface of water, and the process involves both you and Kenneth heaving as hard as possible at a wheel larger than even the master rudder steering wheel, which is also on the bridge.

"We are unlucky. She appears to be going straight our way," you say, observing through the optickal contraption.

"So that's another two hours underwater, until she passes us by", says Kenneth, grimly.

You stare some more. "I make it a two-funnel. Probably ours. A Bristol or a Crombridge-class."

"Nine out of ten are our own.", Kenneth says.

The captain says, "Mister Kenneth, you have your orders. We are not to be seen by anyone. Friend or foe."

"But at this rate the war will be bloody over by the time we reach the shore."

"I should say we are closer than that, Mister Kenneth. Mister Glenister, you've been keeping our heading more accurately than I. Where do you suppose we are at the moment?"

You observe the map, and consult your chronometer.

(I need three separate d6 rolls please, while I write.)
Rolled 5 (1d6)

Rolled 1 (1d6)

Rolled 6 (1d6)

(With your +2 bonus, that's 7, 3, 8, where 4 is marginal success.)

One thing that surprised you was just how much time the Pelagius spent on the surface. It was tempting to think about a vessel hurtling through the deeps of the ocean, an invisible shark, never to be seen except when she needs to fill her tanks of aer or threaten enemy shipping. Unfortunately, this was far from the reality. The Pelagius was twice as slow when it was moving underwater, and it burned more coal per league crossed. "Simple hydrodynamics", as the Professor observed. So the vessel was surfaced as much as was possible for more efficient travels.

That made calculating your destination slightly more difficult, as you had to mark exact times of diving and surfacing, but it was no different than taking windage into account on the old ships you served with. With all the training and experience you have in the matter, a submersible was trivial.

Which, it turns out, was not very much, because every time an airship would be even so much as gleamed in the distance, your orders forced you to submerge.

"We are here", you indicate a point of the map with your needle. It is well inside the Bay of Bretogne, but still thirty leagues away from the nearest land. More importantly, you are approximately a hundred leagues away from the welcoming shores of the Aecumenic Isles.

"You seem certain of yourself?"

"I am certain of the latitude to within ten arc-seconds, Sir." That is insane precision, at sea with no land in sight.

"Ten arc-seconds! Are you jesting, Sir?"

"I vouch for it."

"Then I will believe you. And the longitude?"

You hesitate: "That wind this morning threw us about a bit more than I'd like. Perhaps two leagues either way."

"Excellent, most excellent, Mister Glenister. That would make the airship over yonder The Hellespont, one of ours, as this is its patrol area. So I dare say you are correct, within tolerance."

"Now, if we are to proceed with the current heading, how far until we sight the land?"

"Assuming we surface in two hours, and encounter no more airships during the day - Ten hours and fifteen minutes, I should think, sir." >>4496786 "No, wait - " You consult the wind gauge. "Make it ten hours fifty. Perhaps just short of eleven hours. The land wind will intensify as we approach the shore, especially this time of the year."
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"Very well, mister Glenister. I must say, Sir, should it turn out correct, that would be impressive seamanship."

"Thank you, Sir."

"Tut, tut. I did say, should it turn out correct. Don't let it get to your head."

"Aye, Sir. I won't, Sir."

"Now, Mister Glenister, we know we will have the shore in sight after nightfall. We must make preparations for our mission. Would you care to repeat our current orders?"

"Aye, sir. They're to..."

> locate, sink, burn, or take a prize The Impérial, a Vierre first-rate equipped with anti-airship weaponry, which is currently patrolling the Bay along with her escorts, undetected if at all possible.
> approach or enter the port of Point-du-Laval, and sink, burn or inflict as much damage as practicable on the present ships. We have intelligence that at least four ships are at port, undetected if at all possible.
> preserving utmost secrecy, rendezvous with an agent of the crown at a certain location on the shore of Vierre, pick up certain Despatches, and return to the Isles
> locate, sink, burn, or take a prize The Impérial, a Vierre first-rate equipped with anti-airship weaponry, which is currently patrolling the Bay along with her escorts, undetected if at all possible.
> locate, sink, burn, or take a prize The Impérial, a Vierre first-rate equipped with anti-airship weaponry, which is currently patrolling the Bay along with her escorts, undetected if at all possible.
>locate, sink, burn, or take a prize The Impérial, a Vierre first-rate equipped with anti-airship weaponry, which is currently patrolling the Bay along with her escorts, undetected if at all possible.
>> locate, sink, burn, or take a prize The Impérial, a Vierre first-rate equipped with anti-airship weaponry, which is currently patrolling the Bay along with her escorts, undetected if at all possible.
>> locate, sink, burn, or take a prize The Impérial, a Vierre first-rate equipped with anti-airship weaponry, which is currently patrolling the Bay along with her escorts, undetected if at all possible.
>> preserving utmost secrecy, rendezvous with an agent of the crown at a certain location on the shore of Vierre, pick up certain Despatches, and return to the Isles
> "Aye, sir. They're to locate, and then either sink, burn, or take a prize the Impérial, a Vierre first-rate. She is currently patrolling the Bay with her escorts. We are to execute our mission without revealing our presence, or our vessel's capabilities, to the enemy."

"You are correct. I believe it is safe to dispense with `take a prize`, Mister Glenister, given that our crew complement is vastly inferior to hers, or indeed probably any of her escorts.

Now, gentlemen. This particular ship has been a thorn in the Air Admiralty's pompous arse for a long while. It has already downed two airships last month. As navies abandon the wood-and-sail ships for armoured steam frigates and airships, it appears they have begun adapting them for various support purposes. The Impérial, we believe, is the first of a new kind of ship. It used to be a ship-of-the-line, but it has been heavily converted for airship hunting. Her broadsides were taken out, and instead she is fitted with three circular cannon-platforms, located at forecastle, quarterdeck, and main deck. The platforms each bear multiple cannon, possibly around a dozen each, and are engineered for easy adjustment of elevation and bearing of entire batteries at once."

"What about her escorts?"

"She is escorted by two other ships, possibly fourth-rates, or frigates. It is assumed these ships serve to engage any naval attackers. Surface naval attackers, that is. They are not the goal of our mission, although they make for good targets of opportunity."

"Can the Impérial turn her cannon on us, or other ships?"

"A good question. From the descriptions given by the survivors of one of the shot-down airships, it is not likely that she can depress them below the horizon. If she can engage ships at all, she can only do so at a considerable distance. Her escorts are more of a threat to us, and even that threat, I am assuming, is not much, on account of our armour-plates.

Besides, Sirs, I put to you, if it comes to a shooting fight, we have already failed in the task entrusted to us. Failing our primary mission is preferable to revealing that His Majesty's Royal Navy has submersibles in its service. The moment they learn of the Pelagius, every navy in the world will begin developing countermeasures or tacticks to thwart us. Therefore, the longer we keep the existence and the capabilities of this vessel a secret, the longer we shall possess initiative. If we engage the Impérial in our capacity of a surface ship, or are, Gods forbid, caught on surface, then we must play the part of a very strange armoured surface vessel, and MUST NOT EMERGE OR SUBMERGE within the sight of the enemy. This order is to be obeyed at all costs."

"But sir, won't us attacking the ship alert them to our presence?"

"That is the heart of the matter indeed, gentlemen. So, how do we sink a ship - one with escorts - without ourselves being detected?"

> ?
> ?
> ?
do we have torpedo tech?
Please consult >>4494264
>We can send out divers to cut holes in the hull/bottom
Could we send some divers with explosive tips to rig a bomb underneath the ship?

Also, where would one presume the ammunition storage of the Imperial to be? If we are to plant explosives, we could aim to place it there to make it seem like some faulty ammo went off.
frogmen with bombs
at 500 yards we would be spotted
Long story short: you cannot be even remotely certain where the magazine is. I will be generous and say one-in-six chance you luck into hitting the magazine if you explode a point below waterline.

(The magazine is always below the waterline, though its exact location varies from ship to ship. A first-rate ship of the line it could very well have more than one magazine, for example, one for and one aft.
I could have you roll Shipcraft to check if you know the layout of The Impérial, since you are a naval history buff, but she was heavily refitted, so your knowledge is obsolete).
>I could have you roll Shipcraft to check if you know the layout of The Impérial, since you are a naval history buff, but she was heavily refitted, so your knowledge is obsolete).
Yes please!
Give me 1d6, and I estimate this knowledge to be quite difficult, so 6 is success, 5 is marginal success. Remember, you get +1 so Shipcraft rolls on account of your perks.
Rolled 1 (1d6)

so, it begins
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> the captcha knows

You are deep in thought for a while. You vaguely remember reading about Impérial being commissioned in one of your father's naval almanacs. If only you'd paid more attention to her internal layout, you may have remembered where her magazines were... or, at least, where they had been, before she was heavily refitted. There is no guarantee they weren't moved around in the meantime.

But, there are more ways to sink a ship than hitting its magazine. Anything that would puncture a hole below decks would be enough, it's just a matter of making a big enough hole.

"Our lobster suits can be neutrally buoyant. Surely we can utilize them to approach the hull from below the waterline and cause all sorts of mischief?"

"I take your point, Mister Glenister. We could even ask our friend Mister Sartorius if he could provide us with some of that underwater explosive for that purpose. However, the Impérial is on patrol, which means she is always on the move. We are, when submerged, half as fast as she is. How are we to catch up with her? Or maybe we establish her patrol route and wait for her. Even then - how do we keep up with her for long enough? The divers have a 200-yard hose."

I really need to press professor Hamilton on those lighter, near-surface diving solutions, you think. But for now, it will have to wait.

The captain turns: "Do you have any ideas, Mister Kenneth?"

"Perhaps we are overthinking it. Why don't we just launch a Pneumatick Harpoon at her? That's what they are made for, after all?"

You shake your head. "They might spot us --"
"What do you mean? We can fire them from a submerged position. The only thing they'll see is the Polemoscope, but at those distances they will think it a bird, or a piece of debris."

"The Harpoon leaves a trail as it travels. They are sure to see the streaks."
another thing to consider would be timing. If we did this in the evening or at night, they'll be at a disadvantage to noticing the periscope or the streaks
Getting within 500 yards of the flagship surrounded by escorts without being spotted or revealing the possibility of submersible craft? Doubtful. We could pick off the escorts first but that would make it too obvious something was attacking them and we would have to make sure no one returns alive to tell the tale.
Kenneth says: "We could wait until she is becalmed, or has unfavourable wind. We have four knots guaranteed even when submerged."

The Captain says: "You are still thinking like surface lieutenants. You must unlearn everything you know about gallantry. Submersibles are, by very nature, sneaking blackguards, the rogues of the ocean. No honorable duels for us, gentlemen."

You interject: "So we engage at night. We will have the advantage on her, since she will have her signal lamps up. I am betting the formation will be at half sail, too."

"Excellent idea!" The captain is lost in thought. "Even if they are slow enough to keep pace with, at night, divers can't do their business well. Too much of a risk. And if we turn on the galvanick lights - not optimal, I should say. So how do we engage?"

Kenneth says:
"I was thinking. The orders are not to be undetected. They are that we are not to let on our capabilities. If it is at night, they will barely see anything. We could even surface if we wanted to. If the moon is new or obscured, they won't be able to see anything clearly at any reasonable distance. And if we engage them from upwind..."

"They cannot turn and chase us!", you complete. "Kenneth, you're a genius!"

You are right, it would definitely be a risk.
"That is cheating, Mister Kenneth. I explicitly said `without being detected.`"

"That's the best I can do, Captain, under the ridiculous constraints the Admiralty has placed on us."

"I do admit, gentlemen, our task is quite puzzling. I would prefer to have the Frogs think their ships have taken to spontaneously exploding. I suppose getting engaged by a ghost ship is ... an alternative. Well, we must find her first, at any rate. Her previous sightings have been given to you, Mister Glenister. Perhaps you can occupy yourself with extrapolating her likely patrol course?

"Certainly, Captain."

"Very well then, gentlemen. I give you time to think over our approach. Mister Glenister, you have first watch."

With that, he leaves.

You spend some time arguing with Kenneth, until he is relieved. You decide the best approach would be to:

> Engage at night with pneumatick harpoons (submerged? surfaced?)
> Engage at night with the 8 pounder (surfaced)
> Engage in the evening or morning from a distance (weapon? submerged?)
> Stalk her, and wait for an opportunity to present itself (at the risk that nothing happens, as it will depend on the dice)
> Engage at night with pneumatick harpoons (submerged)

Seems our best bet. If we manage to get the escorts too, nobody will know what exactly happened.
> Stalk her, and wait for an opportunity to present itself (at the risk that nothing happens, as it will depend on the dice)
This would be my first choice because it's the only one that might let us go undetected.
> Engage at night with pneumatick harpoons (submerged)
Out of all the other options this one is the best.
>> Engage at night with pneumatick harpoons (submerged?)
>> Engage at night with pneumatick harpoons submerged

additionally, let's try to hit for the middle of the ship, like, the exact middle. I'm mainly just guessing that would be the most secure place to store munitions.
(If you wanted divers with bombs, the port infiltration mission was the one for that.)


You and Kenneth are forced to agree that out of all the bad options, the one most likely to succeed, or least likely to result in breach of secrecy, was if you attacked the Impérial with the pneumatick harpoon during a night attack.

However, it was a reluctant consensus, and neither of you was really satisfied with the solution.

The risk to Pelagius was not the issue. It would never be in any real danger. It would be submerged to six fathoms, at polemoscope depth. At night, it would be undetectable, even should the entire Monarchist Vierre navy pass straight above it. The harpoons are expected to make some sound as they move, and they have visible wake, but how much would the watchmen even see? And if they did see the wakes, what would they think? That they were beset by explosive porpoises seemed just as likely a conclusion as an attack by the Commonwealth navy.

There were a few problems with the plan. First, you had to find and identify the Impérial - this had to be done during the day, of course. Then, you would have to not lose her until nightfall, and keep stalking her by nothing but the glow of her signal-lights (and try not to mix her up with her escorts) Then, you would have to execute the pneumatick harpoon shot, at range, with nothing but the lights to guide you. You did train, of course, as did Kenneth, but neither of you two considered himself a crack shot with the Harpoon, and you never did any night drills.

At least, if the harpoon misses, you would be safe in knowing that there was a valve which opens when the compressed air propellant runs out, and the interior of the harpoon fills with water. If it doesn't explode, it will, mercifully sink to the bottom of the bay, and Frogs will be none the wiser.
Since it was obvious the Impérial wasn't just going to appear in front of you, you decided to hold for the evening and resume your search in the morning. At least you had to look forward to dinner.

Usually, at the wardroom, it was you, Kenneth, Donovan (the Lieutenant of the Marines), and the Professor. That Captain Sloane tolerated the Professor's presence, him being a civilian, spoke volumes of his trust for the man. Captain Sloane would only occasionally make the appearance, and this was the first time Sartorius, the ship's Alchymist, appeared. "So he doesn't only eat quicksilver", Kenneth jibed under his breath.

The food was excellent, and though wine was served, nobody except the professor indulged. The Captain didn't drink on ship, and you and Kenneth would not be so crass as to not follow his example. Inevitably, the difficulties of your mission were brought up.

"- and there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. We are of the mind to attempt the pneumatick harpoon attack at night, although of course, the Captain has the final say on how we approach."

"I am at the moment as out of ideas as the rest of you gentlemen. But no warfare is without risk.", said the Captain.

The professor said:
"Gentlemen, this to me seems like a problem with too many contradicting equation to have a solution on the real axis, such that x at the same time equals 1 and 100. We can sink ships, or we can be undetected, but both at the same time?"

Donovan proposed that the Pelagius set itself in ambush in direct path of the enemy flotilla, at polemoscope depth and with divers on the top deck. When the ships approach, the Pelagius would dive and the divers would await the passing by of Impérial and its cohorts.

"It is not the worst plan I've ever heard. Our men would risk getting keelhauled, however. The problem is we keep presupposing the existence of some easily-available, hand-held explosives which would survive underwater operations, and are easily operated by our divers."
Sartorius says: "I've looked into the matter, Sloane. I cannot make any more of the fulgurant with the items I have on board. We cannot harvest the one behind the metal plates easily, and the alchymical torpedoes are made on a completely different basis, of the Red Powder, and will immediately detonate in contact with water."

The professor thinks: "That could work! If we had some sort of delivery device..."

"You mean," Kenneth says. "besides the bloody pneumatick harpoon?"

Donovan says: "The divers have hand-harpoons, don't they? Can't we do something with that?"

The discussion goes back and forth. The consensus is that the plan relies on too many unknowns to work, whereas it could endanger the divers and the submersible. But the Professor says "Well, we know now and will do better for the next time. Some sort of easily-released, easily-attachable mine, able to be held by divers..." He seems lost in thought, as the discussion resumes late into the dessert, when the professor snaps out of his reverie and says suddenly:

"Or we could just ram them."

"Beg pardon?"

"In retrospect, the front observation window is a flaw in engineering. If it were, instead, replaced with a ramming prow, or some sort of horn, like the narwhal has..."

"Which part of the word `undetected` did you miss, Prof?"

"Think, mister Kenneth, think! The ship is going about her business, when she sees - what? A shadow in the water? And that if it is broad daylight! If it is evening, then - nothing! Just as the shadow passes below them, they are shaken with a huge hit. By the time they know what happened, they are already busy pumping out water. We are made of solid steel, they are naught but wood."

"Even assuming we can get something to replace the window with a ramming prow - somehow, in the middle of the ocean, with naught but an alchymist aboard - I am not risking Pelagius like that. She is the only ship of her kind, and it has never been attempted. It is dangerous. The impact could embed us with the Imperiale, and leave us unable to dive. Or some systems on board are not rated for such a shock force. No, Sir. It is a good idea, but risky. Most risky! I will not allow it.

Well, the one saving grace is, we don't have to attempt anything foolhardy right away. We are sure to encounter her at least a few times, and we have no time limit on our mission.
Professor, would our explosive tipped harpoons not be sufficient for the operation?
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You spend nearly half of your next watch with a compass and map in hand, trying to extrapolate the route of the enemy squadron. On the morning, you submit your calculations to the captain, and he decides to set up an ambuscade at a certain spot, far away from any shore and onlookers, almost in the middle of the Bay, and set a course. You patrol a relatively narrow quadrant, and although you cannot be held liable for the movements of enemy ships, you would be somewhat cross if the Pelagius didn't, in fact, encounter its quarry. There are a few airship sightings over the next few days, and you make sure to spend the voyage at polemoscope depth. Then, on 28th of Brumaire...

(I will need you gentlemen to submit no less than five d6 rolls to set up the parameters of the encounter. The dice are to determine, in order:
- Time of sighting
- How well you judged her patrol route
- Weather conditions
- Wind direction
- Condition and formation of her escorts
If not enough rolls are made after 1 hour, I will complete the rolls. In all cases higher is better for us. I will apply bonuses as appropriate.)
Rolled 6 (1d6)

- How well you judged her patrol route
Rolled 6 (1d6)

(You don't get to pick. I will take them in order as they are made... >>4497310 nevermind lol he confirmed it.)
(I hope the convo went in the right direction for your liking, we posted at the same time.)
pretty well, all things considered.

Just hope we get lucky with those rolls.
Rolled 6 (1d6)

guess we need two more rolls. you want us to make them or do you want to do it?
Rolled 1, 3 = 4 (2d6)

Let me do it, you guys are hogging all the sixes
Alright, from this, I gather:
Time of sighting: 6 . Very opportune. Just before evening.
How well you judged: 6+2. Better retract that polemoscope, otherwise she is liable to run it over.
Weather conditions: 6. Winds and gales. A storm.
Wind direction: 1. You will be downwind of her when night falls, not crosswind as you had hoped.
Escorts: two, as expected, relatively close to her.

When sails were first sighted, a certain anxiousness went over you. It was too good to hope that your quarry will blunder straight into your projections, and yet...

The Captain spent minutes on end looking intently through the polemoscope:

"Well, I'll be. Congratulations are in order, Mister Glenister. The Impérial, as I live and breathe."

"How can you be certain, Sir?"

"Visibility is poor, but if it's not her, then some other ship-of-the-line, alone in the sea with exactly two escorts, patroling the exact same path where you said she would be."

"Thank you, Sir."

"Thank you, nothing. I literally cannot see her mizzen from her foremast; she is heading straight for us. We hardly need to move an inch. And here I thought I only had one sorcerer aboard.

And it couldn't have happened at a more opportune time, either. By my reckoning she will cross us in one hour, or a little later, about in time for sunset. I despair to think what our options should be if we'd encountered her at morning. Probably watch her go by with no recourse, or try to match her speed and lose her. And the weather, dear Gods! Nary a cloud in the skies for the past two days, and now all day we are beset by this unholy torrent, that just keeps getting thicker. The visibility is already bad; I daresay it will be even worse in an hour. Well, for that, at least, we cannot credit you. But it is most fortunate, Sir; most fortunate, indeed!"

"How about her escorts, Sir?"

"Here, take a look yourself. They are hugging her a bit closer than I should like. Two frigates. And you see that smoke plume?"

"Aye, sir. One is a steam frigate."

"Just so. Armoured, most likely."

"But my, they are running as if the Devil is after them. Their sails are full, the storm has given them good winds. They will zoom past us rather quickly, I fear. Possibly at ten knots. I had hoped for a crosswind. That way we could choose to position ourselves upwind of the squadron, in the case we need to run away."

"Well, not everything can go our way. It wouldn't do to tempt fortune too much, Mister Glenister."

"Aye, Sir."
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hm, potentially, we could just wait for them to move over use before shooting a hole in them?
Seems fairly simple. We wait until they're close, fire a harpoon into their bow, and dive. As long as we hit, which we should since we're right on them, we should blow a hole in their bow and considering the weather, they'll promptly sink. Nothing fancy I suppose, but it'll get the job done.
I guess the only thing else to worry about is moving out of the way when the ship sinks. It would be easier to move in the direction of the currents, yes?

We may also want to turn off all the lights in the observational windows and, potentially, the adjacent areas. There's a non insignificant chance that sailors will enter the waters and catch a glimpse of glowing lights otherwise.
There are two harpoon tubes, and it takes at least eight minutes to cycle them. You must preload and flood the compartments, it takes a minute to flood. You, or the captain, decide which tip to use. An explosive tip is sufficient to blow a hole that should sink any wooden ship, except on glancing hits. The alchymical tip is vastly more powerful, and can take out even hardened targets, but you only have four.

Note it takes several minutes to make a full turn when underwater.

There are observers on both ends of the ships. However, you are confident they will not be able to see anything in this weather, and you don't think it's possible they will see the wake of the harpoons in this blasted storm.

Kenneth chimes in: "If we position ourselves to let them pass, we can move in their wake and keep them in effective range for longer. Not to mention we can aim for the stern."

Stern is more vulnerable than the bow, because a hit there will usually immobilize or make a ship unable to maneuver. It is also more likely to store things that they'd rather not wrecked. However, below the waterline, the bow is not well protected and the hole should be large enough to sink a water ship regardless.

"Captain, are we to only target the Impérial?"

"With the first two harpoons, I should think, certainly. Her escorts are secondary. If they don't see us, we can leave them be. We aren't fit to take any prizes, and a couple of frigates are not worth any risk, in my opinion, gentlemen. Well, you will be at the controls, Sir. You will decide."


"You or Mister Kenneth, I care not which. You are both certified harpooners. Now, clear her for action, Mister Glenister."

"All hands, CLEAR FOR ACTION! Engine room, increase boiler pressure. Harpoon chamber, drain and open tubes one and two. Alcove, prepare for emergency maneuvers. Steering, secure ventral fin in transversal position. All hands clear the observation bubbles and seal off their hatches. Divers, to your stations. Lieutenant of Marines, proceed to armoury and arm your men. Divisions one and two, stand by at the pumps. Division three, stand by top hatch."

pick one:
> We will look in the direction they are coming from, our bow to them.
> We will look in the direction they are headed, so our stern will be to them, until they pass us. When they pass us, we immediately accelerate and engage them.

also pick one:
> I will launch the torpedoes
> I will let Kenneth launch the torpedoes, while I am in the observation bubble

also pick one:
> Tube 1 should be loaded with explosive tip harpoon.
> Tube 1 should be loaded with alchymical tip harpoon.

also pick one:
> Tube 2 should be loaded with explosive tip harpoon.
> Tube 2 should be loaded with alchymical tip harpoon.
>> We will look in the direction they are headed, so our stern will be to them, until they pass us. When they pass us, we immediately accelerate and engage them.

> I will launch the torpedoes

> Tube 1 should be loaded with alchymical tip harpoon.
> Tube 2 should be loaded with explosive tip harpoon.

Hit with the explosive harpoon first to open a hole, then follow up with the alchemical harpoon to give it easier access to the insides and spread further damage.

Also, GM, what are our comrade's opinions on this: >>4497472

> We will look in the direction they are headed, so our stern will be to them, until they pass us. When they pass us, we immediately accelerate and engage them.
> I will let Kenneth launch the torpedoes, while I am in the observation bubble
> Tube 1 should be loaded with explosive tip harpoon.
> Tube 2 should be loaded with explosive tip harpoon.

This will apparently give us more time in range.

The explosives should suffice against our wooden primary target. We should save the big booms.
(It is good of you to think about that. The submersible is actually very poorly lit, with some special oil-lamps, barely more glow than candles, really. The bubbles will be uncrewed and sealed anyway, and so kept unlit. It would need to be a very lucky roll indeed to have the second torpedo hit the exact same spot, but the way dice have been going all day, nothing would surprise me).
eh, wouldn't want to tempt fate too much.

Would we need to worry much about our stores of alchemical munitions? I assume we'd be able to restock when we got back to base.
(There are no currents in the bay, but the winds are driving the waves mightily. It takes a lot of time for a ship to sink, so you should be clear. Usually.)
(You can restock at the Cove, though you are not aware of how many are in stock there. It appears that Sartorius has to personally fill each one. It doesn't sound cheap.)
alright then, i suppose we could save the alchemical tips for later then.
Good idea for the lights, but we could use that to our advantage down the line. Glowing lights beneath the ocean, seen wherever ships are sunk? Sailors can be quite superstitious...
Guess I'll support using the explosive tips.
I'm hesitant to spread this as a superstition, because it might spur the enemy naval command to launch an investigation, maybe by creating their own sub
True. I'm just thinking we might be able to use it where a direct confrontation is necessary, or maybe a situation that isn't us destroying an enemy ship. Just a suggestion.
Would we do better observing or launching torpedoes, QM? We should know this after having done drills.
> We will look in the direction they are headed, so our stern will be to them, until they pass us. When they pass us, we immediately accelerate and engage them.
> Tube 1 should be loaded with explosive tip harpoon.
> Tube 2 should be loaded with explosive tip harpoon.
>We will look in the direction they are coming from, our bow to them.
> I will launch the torpedoes.
> Tube 1 should be loaded with explosive tip harpoon.
> Tube 2 should be loaded with explosive tip harpoon.
I needed that tiebreaker in the end, thanks. Writan'.
"Harpoon chamber, are the tubes drained?"

"Aye, sir", the tube reports.

"Arm explosive tip, tubes one and two."

"Aye, sir. Arming explosive tips, one and two."

The Captain says: "I would have allowed an alchymical tip, on my authority, but on second thought, those things explode rather conspicuously and with a bright red fire whose origin is quite unmistakable. I should think an explosive tip will be more in line with what we are trying to accomplish. Now, start bringing her about, Mister Glenister, seven-and-a-half to port. But slowly, slowly. We have time."

"Sir, harpoon chamber, tubes one and two, filled."

"Harpoon chamber, flood tubes one and two."

"Aye, sir, flooding, one and two."

One of the hardest things to get used to on a submersible is the lack of sightlines. There is only one polemoscope, and it is being used by the captain. The crew must have it even worse. There is nothing to do in the dimness of the bridge except wait, which is very much nerve wracking. If you were at the observation post, you could at least see - well, probably nothing, maybe several seconds of keel, murkily through the turbulent sea, if the enemy is truly close.

The Captain: "Cease maneuver... now. Prepare for emergency speed."

"Sir, Harpoon chamber, both tubes flooded and armed."

"That's her, alright. I can see the raised gun platforms. I confirm she is flying Frog colours. They are at eight knots, possibly, at mile-and-a-half. I give it ten minutes. Alright, Mister Glenister, will you be taking the shot?"

"Aye, sir."

"Then take over the polemoscope. Mister Kenneth, take the rudder. And Mister Glenister?"

"Aye, sir?"

"Do not overcomplicate it. As soon as she passes us, rake her. We will chase, but this is the best chance we get."

"Aye, Sir."

As the image of the Impérial grows ever larger in your polemoscope, you estimate that you are lying in wait exactly between her and her armoured escort, perhaps fifty yards away from each. It is getting darker as well - somewhere behind the clouds and the gales, the sun has begun setting.

"Two hundred yards."

"Less than a minute now."

"One hundred."

"Mister Kenneth, get us going, emergency speed, rudder neutral."

"Aye, sir. Boiler room, release governor valves, now! Full steam! Emergency speed."

Fifty yards. Fourty. Thirty. Twenty.

Your palms are sweaty, gripping the polemoscope. Oh, how you wish either you or Kenneth had done more training with the harpoons back at the Cove!

The Pelagius is capable of at most six knots when underwater, so it will not match the Vierre squadron.

"They are passing us!"

"Take it slow, Mister Glenister."

You did the calculations in your head many times over as she was approaching. You knew exactly by how much to lead the Impérial. You were trained in gunnery on a massive, 3-deck ship, and you trained until you could hit a mast in passing while both you and your target were bobbing and weaving separately.
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"Harpoons, fire on my mark..."

Steady.... Steady....


(For harpoons, we roll d2s, where 2s are successes. One success is a marginal hit (necessitates an additional roll to see what happened). Two successes is a confirmed hull hit.
- base: 2 dice.
- very close range: +1 dice.
- target is not aware or maneuvering: +1 dice
- target is not moving laterally, so no penalty.

That's a whooping total of 4d2, per harpoon.

I need two gentlemen to roll 4d2 each.)
Rolled 2, 2, 2, 1 = 7 (4d2)

Rolled 2, 2, 2, 1 = 7 (4d2)

Rolled 6, 2 = 8 (2d6)

Rollan for that extra secret sauce
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You feel that, should you command submersibles for fifty years, you will still never have better firing conditions in your entire life.

You can hardly see the trail of the harpoons in this weather. You cannot know if the sailors saw anything - at the very least, there was no sign of commotion on the Impérial right until the moment she was hit.

Enormous plumes of white water, vapour and splinters indicate that your shots hit true. You swear you feel the submersible lurch as the shockwave of the explosion reaches you. Both harpoons hit the target in quick succession, below the waterline, where it matters most. What ever is happening inside the ship has yet to reach the deck.

"Confirmed hit - two hits! Clean, as far as I can tell."

Kenneth whoops and the Captain says nothing, except puts his arm on your shoulder.

"Well done, Mister Glenister." He takes over the polemoscope.

"Seems you've gotten her keel off. She is listing already. One escort seems to have noticed it... I daresay she is filling up with water. They are heaving-to, but the armoured frigate hasn't even noticed, it seems.

"Sir, we shall never have a better opportunity than this. Shall we attack the escorts, too?"

"I should think not, Mister Glenister. They haven't noticed us, nor caught wind of our existence, it seems. Let them think it was a magazine explosion or an act of sabotage. Sailors do naught but drink and talk all day. Spreading uncertainty across a navy is much preferable to bringing down two frigates. Gods, she is sinking already. Men are jumping overboard. Mister Glenister, slow us down and bring us two points to starboard. I want to steer as far away as possible from this thing.

"Engine room, stand down, eight hundred revolutions.", you say, as you turn the rudder.

It was only now that you noticed, in the subdued semi-darkness of the bridge, just how much you were shaking.

"That went well, all things considered, gentlemen. Mister Glenister, bring her down to twenty fathoms and chart a course for the isles."
30th Brumaire
Nearing the shores of Escott, the largest Isle
141 leagues away from Woolswitch Cove.
Wardroom, USS Pelagius

The atmosphere on the vessel was festive ever since the Pelagius sunk the Impérial.

Since the submersible had no purser, all her expenses were covered by the crown, and the Captain decided it would do no harm to have the crew feast. She would soon let down the anchor in the Cove anyway, and would thereafter replenish her stocks anyway - there was no harm in it. "Double the portion of grog for the men next two days, compliments of Lieutenant Glenister", said the Captain, after everything had been done. The crew liked you after that, though there were a few drunken incidents you had to deal with. That episode alone spoke volumes, since Captain Sloane usually had an extremely stern view of drinking aboard ship. It was a necessary evil, according to him.

Compared to the cautious-yet-hopeful state of the crew scarcely a week prior, at the voyage's start, the mood in the wardroom was now very much different - boastful. Triumphant. Victorious.

The ship's cook outdid himself that evening - no doubt on the Captain's orders. You feasted as dukes. Everyone was in the wardroom: Captain Sloane, the Alchymist Sartorius, your friend Kenneth, the chatty and amiable Professor Hamilton, and the silent Donovan, the ship's Lieutenant of Marines. Oh, and, of course...

"To Mister Glenister, the man of the hour. His uncanny feats of navigation contributed to laying a damn near perfect ambuscade."

Cheers went around the table, and for once, you felt every bit like you deserved it. The Pelagius remained unknown to the enemy, and the Royal Navy of Vierre were short one quite important ship.

"It was luck, really, Captain..."

"Some of it, indeed! Luck is also a praiseworthy thing, in an officer. Do you know why I selected you, Mister Glenister?"

"I should think it had to do with my being Mentioned in the Dispatches, or who my late father was, Sir."

"That played the part. But we almost had a different First Lieutenant. More distinguished than you. Definitely more seniority. He is a commander by rank (but then, I am a pendant commodore, such is the peculiarity of our vessel). What was his name - Horatio something-or-another, was it?"

The captain leaned in:

"But there was one crucial thing, Sir, that made you the preferred choice."

"And what in the world could that be, Captain?"

"The man was six-foot-two - he would never stop bumping into the bloody bulkheads!!!"

Everybody, including you, laughed. You raised your cup:

"To luck, Poseidon, and the Pelagius!"

"Pelagius!!!", everybody cheered.
Just then, a sailor entered the wardroom: "Begging your pardon, Captain. Compliments of Mister Ferguson, and he informs you that a lighthouse was sighted off the starboard bow."

"Right on schedule. The day after tomorrow we may yet dine on terra firma, gentlemen. We will have lots of work in the cove ahead of us. Mister Kenneth, what do you think?

"I am thinking, get that piston sorted out on the Archimedean, replace the ventral fin, and fix the leaks in chamber five. A week, at most, I give it."

"A week. Just so." The captain turned to the Alchymist, Sartorius, who simply said:

"And then, the mission."

You were confused. No new orders had been received in the meantime - you would know: "Forgive me, Captain, but didn't we just complete our mission?"

"What we completed, Mister Glenister, was nothing but a field test. A shakedown cruise, if you will. You don't really suppose the Admiralty, His Majesty's treasury, and the Guild of Royal Alchymists spent eleven years and three and a half million crowns, bending every science and tecknology known to man to their very limit - just so we would harpoon a bloody Vierre sloop or two?"
Aaaaaand that's it for now. I will stick around in this thread for discussion and feedback.

The Pelagius' first quest was a resounding success, although aided by some devilishly lucky dice rolls. The Pelagius is still a secret, the Frogs are short one very important experimental ship and are none the wiser.

https://twitter.com/GeberQM for notifications when this continues.

Many thanks to to all the players - you made this quest go places I never thought it would, and it is all the better for it.
glad to have you, QM

hoping we get another episode soon!
Just read this in one sitting, QM, and I must say I'm getting the most delightful Trawler Quest vibes from this thread so far.
I certainly look forward to the next thread!
Cheers, welcome aboard. I'll include helpful pastebins and diagrams for newcomers to the next thread. I should get around to continue Trawler, then.

Can't say how soon, but it will happen. When it comes to scheduling, ask me no questions and I will tell you no lies.
Thread 2 never ever

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