Help support TMP

"18th Century VSF?" Topic

26 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

Please remember that some of our members are children, and act appropriately.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Victorian SF Message Board

Back to the 18th Century Discussion Message Board

Areas of Interest

18th Century
19th Century
Science Fiction

Featured Hobby News Article

Featured Link

Top-Rated Ruleset


Rating: gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star 

Featured Showcase Article

Canine & Avian Levy

Dogs and Bird in Space?

Featured Workbench Article

Featured Profile Article

Land of the Free: Elemental Analysis

Taking a look at elements in Land of the Free.

Current Poll

Featured Movie Review

3,545 hits since 18 Nov 2006
©1994-2021 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

hitlers brain in a jar18 Nov 2006 11:32 a.m. PST

I know, it's a contradiction in terms. Still, it seems to me that it might be fun to extend VSF principles this far back. Maybe Benjamin Franklin invented steam tanks, tripods, and similar to fight the British?

Just curious if anyone has done this.

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2006 11:46 a.m. PST

Not only did he not invent stuff, he recommended adopting the longbow for arming Revolutionary troops. I think he may have been more focused on the flesh than the intellectual by this time in his life. Still a heck of a diplomat though.

hitlers brain in a jar18 Nov 2006 11:54 a.m. PST

Oh, who cares. Ole' boy invented the Franklin stove, and he got zapped by a lightningbolt when he went flying it out in the rain (great genius that, though maybe a little shy on common sense…). Anyway, he would make as good an inventor of this kinda junk as Eddison or Graham-Bell.

White Elks 10 String Guitar18 Nov 2006 12:07 p.m. PST

I had an RP hook where Franklin's Glass Harmonica fascination allowed him to tap into the Music of the Spheres, allowing bi-location ala John Carter….

Eli Arndt18 Nov 2006 12:12 p.m. PST

Funny you should mention this. For a Superhero game, I did just this. I had Paul Revere, Thomas Jefferson and Ben franklin invent a super-powered armor suit called the Iron Patriot.

The setting had a host of villains as well as a couple other Colonial Supers. Enemies included an iron-masked Hesian as well as British-made, steam powered woodenclad tanks that looked like big iron-belted barrels on steel-belted wagon wheel.

I have often thought it would be nice to bring these things into miniature for the likes of Superfigs or something.

Cyrus the Great18 Nov 2006 12:40 p.m. PST

Why make this stuff up? All you need to read are the British intelligence reports from the time. Franklin, in cooperation with the French, was supposed to be making a series of mirrors that would harness the power of the sun and be focused on the British fleet to burn their ships up. He was also constructing a giant cable that would run from Calais to Dover that would conduct enough electricity from lightning to electrocute all of England! See what you can learn on PBS?

Chris Palmer18 Nov 2006 1:38 p.m. PST

Have never done it, but given it some thought. Balloons and the concept of flying ships were certainly both in existyance at that time. There were compressed air powered riflesin existance. There was a drawing I saw for something like a tank that had horses mounted at the rear of a field piece so they could push it forward while it fired.
And the idea of a practical submarine was being toyed with.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2006 7:03 p.m. PST

I have thought bout taking it back to Leonardo daVinci. figures already exist, with a whole bunch of competing Landsknechts, Gendarmes, Polish winged Hussars, Hussite and Polish warwagons, etc.

But, the era of Franklin could also include the Royal Society, Baron Munchausen, Leyden Jars with electro Galvanic discharge engines, etc.

GASLIGHT alows improved ordinary weapnry, and who would ask for more than the Ferguson rifle? By an amazing coincidence, I am painting up Ferguson's rifles for a Brandywine game.

You also have the Brotherhood of the Wolf, although this may be more fitting for Gloire, but why not GASLIGHT as well?

reddrabs19 Nov 2006 11:26 a.m. PST

Avoid steam – the average size of an engine was almost (and often over) house size.
The work of Trevithick was at the very end of the century.

hitlers brain in a jar19 Nov 2006 2:30 p.m. PST

Cyrus the Great

Seriously, or are you making this up? If you are serious, I'd love to see the sources. Sounds like a GREAT basis for a game. Who's to say the British weren't right?

Cyrus the Great19 Nov 2006 9:28 p.m. PST

hitlers brain in a jar,

There was a PBS show on Ben Franklin just this last Thursday night and they read excerpts of reports prepared by British agents sent to spy on Franklin while he was in France. Truth is always better than anything you can make up.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2006 6:31 a.m. PST

Why avoid steam? The whole point behind VSF, to me at any rate, is that all it takes is a little improvement, and we can do anything. The laws of thermodynamics, and efficiency calculations are just vaguely grasped, if at all. VSF is all about taking existing technology, adding propable, or not so probable engineering improvements and running with it.
Science has not yet discovered that a coal powered steam aeroplane is not possible, so that means that it is possible.

abdul666lw25 Sep 2007 4:27 p.m. PST

Funny, I had never perused this board then and started a similar topic recently on the 18th board
TMP link
When minds converge…

Personal logo andygamer Supporting Member of TMP25 Sep 2007 5:55 p.m. PST

Shouldn't this be called Georgian Science Fiction?

Loren Wiseman25 Sep 2007 9:56 p.m. PST

"Shouldn't this be called Georgian Science Fiction?"

Technicaly, yes, but why spoil the beauty of a good acronym with inconvenient facts.

Loren Wiseman

abdul666lw27 Sep 2007 6:03 a.m. PST

With reference to steampunk as Sci-Fi in the age of Steam, I really like 'Lacepunk' for Sci-Fi in the 'Lace Wars' time (this expression is traditional among 18th C. xargamers). Thus the derivation Cyberpunk -> Steampunk is consistently extended back in time. OK, less and less 'punk' (though some 'Libertins'..?) and mid-18th C. -the Century of Enlightenment- would be spared the pessimism of Cyberpunk as Steampunk is (Jules Verne and Victorian colonialists were optimistic, each in their own way). But Steampunk is well established and understood, thus the acknowledged 'root'would allow to immediatly identify what kind of setting is described by Lacepunk: a backgound adding Sci-Fi elements to a given historical period, that of the Lace Wars.

As for the use of steam ('John te OMF' -no blog, no web page? You mention your Llama lancers, your Californian Camel Corps -with zambuck light artillery?- , we salivate, and then, no photo.. cruel behavior!)…
beware the risk of merely playing VSF with people in tricorns! To keep its different, original, proper atmosphere to a 18th C. setting, technologies commonly used by VSF times should only exist as *prototypes*. I tried to argument this link
even endvisaged 'ad hoc' hypotheses allowung to play 'Cosmos 1745' without changing everyday setting & way of life *on Earth*.

Perhaps because Lace Wars battlegamers are often people with an open mind, familiar with the idea of campaigning in fictitious countries with fictitious armies, more and more are curious about the possibility to add (at various degrees) Sci-Fi elements to their games (see the 18th C. Discussion board); The same at RPG scale (to play a crossover 'GASLIGHT * En Garde!). Such wargamers and roleplayers, how experimented they may be in their 'historical' domain, have a *LOT* to learn from VSF players, including modelling-wise (e.g. to build dirigible models inspirated from the Cloudships of Mars link
(substituting the sails with an oval balloon and adding airscrew for the 'Kite' type, having the Screw Galleys hanging under an oval balloon? The 'Terria' types are far too'modern' for a 18th C. setting, better to copy the Martian models but with a gondola-shaped hull -ref. the Munchausenmovie…).

Hoping some will be intrigued, and perhaps even interested,
best to all,

Robin Bobcat29 Sep 2007 3:05 a.m. PST

Hmmm… Bringing VSF elements to a Revolutionary War setting.. Interesting. Could also include Paul Revere: He was a notable silversmith, after all. No reason he couldn't tinker with something.

I would imagine the Redcoats would have some interesting fighting machines, painstakingly shipped over, and elegantly-built. Little more than mobile cannon, but available in quantity.

The revolutionary army would have more makeshift equipment, stuff cobbled together with what's at hand, with only the most crucial elements built. they would however be more effective for the hit-and-run guerilla style as opposed to rank fire. Might also include electrical elements. Lightning cannon powered by Leyden Jar 'shells'?

J Womack 9402 Oct 2007 7:06 a.m. PST

How about Leyden jar mines? A few metallic trip wires in the tall grass, a jar buried just under ground and a lot of handwaving, and voila, electric landmine. Place those in front of your ambush site and watch the Redcoats fry as they charge the treeline!

Up the Continentals! Down with George!

LTC Fraiser09 Oct 2007 7:07 p.m. PST

Just a brief note on potential inspiration for "Georgian SF" gaming :). A new writer has written four novels now in a GSF sort of theme. Her name is Naomi Novik and her novels are set in a Europe where there are dragons and they are used in the Napoleonic Wars era. Quite well-written, apparently appropriate speech and manners for the period, lovely dragons, and a nice feel for the warfare and weapons of the era as well. The novels so far are "His Majesty's Dragon", "Throne of Jade", "Black Powder War", and the most recent paperback release "Empire of Ivory".

Rather wants me to add dragons to my French & Indian War campaigns!

Personal logo andygamer Supporting Member of TMP09 Oct 2007 8:50 p.m. PST

Is there a unit of Dragon Dragoons, LTC Fraiser?

LTC Fraiser10 Oct 2007 5:24 p.m. PST

Actually, andygamer, no. laugh However, there are some intimations of a body of dragon-borne light infantry – might such a unit be called "Dragon Dragoons"? Or ought they be "Aerial Dragoons"? Perhaps "Aether Dragoons", although that title ought really to be reserved "…for those who venture into space…" to take a line from Mr. Heinlein's amendment to the Navy Hymn. Yes, I think a squadron or two of dragon-mounted infantry who dismount to fight on the ground might properly be titled, "Aerial Dragoons".

abdul666lw15 Oct 2007 11:02 a.m. PST

Perhaps quite dissimilar to the series quoted by LTC Fraiser, but set in almost the same time span: "For the Crown and the Dragon" by Stephen Hunt (1994). More VSF (steam-powered coaches & warships, airships..), but with orc-like creatures (!), dragoons but no dragons.

"It is the final years of the 18th century, but a world which few would recognise. The people of Europe shelter in small islands of safety, havens from the enchanted wilderness – the strange boundless forests men call the Tumble. It is across this demon haunted landscape that the low-born officer Taliesin must lead his men, caught up in the deadliest of intrigues while fighting wars for a noble class which despises him."

Warning: entertaining in places, but *not* great litterature!
The author appears to have recently published:'The Court of the Air': "A hugely engaging adventure set in a Victorian-style world -- a fantastical version of Dickens -- that will appeal to fans of Susanna Clarke and Philip Pullman." Not for wargamers, seemingly…

BTW, who remembers how this thread did start? The 1st message recorded (above – from 18 Nov 2006!) clearly refers to at least one previous post?

J Womack 9415 Oct 2007 6:21 p.m. PST


No reason to say it ohter than I simply like the word. It freaks my students out when I use it, too.

Anything to increase the weirdness quotient in the 8th grade.

abdul666lw17 Oct 2007 1:28 a.m. PST

Thanks to "Yours in a White Wine Sauce!" : H&M Sci-Fi (Napoleonic) rather than 18th C. -the shakos & also the 'jet' propellers are too 'modern' for the Lace Wars- but enjoyable and potentially inspirational nonetheless: link
[3Dmark 2006 rendered ! (Cannon Flight)]

abdul666lw21 Oct 2007 8:47 a.m. PST

I don't know of Naomi Novik's series, but in a 18th C. setting classical fire-breathing dragons would be too blatlanly 'tagged' "Middle Ages" for my taste. Now, giant pterosaurs as in 'Dinotopia'….

abdul666lw09 Nov 2007 4:47 p.m. PST

Somehow relevant to this topic, I added at the end of the correspong post on my blog:
a short description of a French comics series set in 'Napolonic Sci-Fi': «Empire»: in the very late 18th C. Bonaparte marched East from Egypt and conquered most of India. But, additionally and chiefly, technology had evolved sooner and faster than in ‘our' History : STREAM powers artillery tractors, warships and dirigibles; improved Puckle's MACHINE GUNS are not uncommon, and an ‘Enigma' CODING MACHINE uses perforated cards –Babbage's computer is not far away. The major conflicy between France & Great Britain takes place in India, with Russian ± undercover interference and Prussia waiting for the mutual exhaustion of the major protagonigsts.
Not bad, imho. Note that here 'comics! are ±A4 size and have a hard cover.

In not so older days it could have been unavailable outside France; now i suppose that with Amazon it may be ordered worldwide, but (besides the -overestimated- €/$ ratio and postage), being in French will drastically limit its diffusion, I guess.

Best to all,

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.