Below are the 25 most recent journal entries.
Site warning - ntlworld.com
There still seem to be many links from other sites to my old ntlworld site. Please be aware that I now have no way to modify or update this site, and can't even check that it is virus free. The current sites are www.forgottenfutures.co.uk for my general activities, and forgottenfutures.com or forgottenfutures.org for the Forgotten Futures RPG. This entry will stay at the top of this news section until the ntlworld site is finally deleted, check the entry below it for recent news!
Most recent post below - 11th April 2013
A useful resource for Forgotten Futures:
This map superimposes Google maps and Victorian Ordnance survey maps of London circa 1893-1896. I've already found some interesting surprises including a row of houses across the road from my house that was demolished to make room for railway lines some time between then and the 1940s.
Some more web sites with old maps:
1746 and 1869-80 surveys
Scotland (and the rest of the UK) - lots of different maps
Aerial images, 1919-1953:
PDF character record
I've made a simple PDF character record form; to use it, download it then type into the boxes using Acrobat, Adobe Reader, or any other PDF reader that supports data entry into forms. The first page should have room for most character details; the second is just a follow-on page with a single big text field. Save it under the character name. I haven't locked or encrypted it, so if you have Acrobat or another PDF creation program that supports forms you can mess around with the format, but please don't put modified versions on line. File size is 74k.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to include a way of putting a picture of the character into the record - that needs Acrobat Pro, which costs several more arms and legs than I can afford.
This seems to work correctly, please let me know if you have any problems.
British Library - LOTS of illustrations on line
The British Library has put a load of illustrations from books on line for free use, as a huge flickr set.
For example, one of the first I found was a larger version of this:
an illustration from The Angel of the Revolution - I have larger versions on the FF CD-ROM, but there isn't room on this site.
At the moment the quantity is vast and tagging is minimal, actually finding anything is difficult. But if enough people take an interest it ought to eventually be a very useful resource.
Xmas Card 2013
This year's Xmas card is on line here.
The illustration is here.
Wishing everyone best wishes for the holidays, and a Happy New Year.
Quart, Meet Pint Pot...
I've run into a small hiccup with the Forgotten Futures CD-ROM; the next release, version 8, is already too big to fit on a single CD-ROM, and is nowhere near finished! I've got a LOT more material to add.
While I could take things off the disk, I don't think that's fair to users. Instead I'm planning to go over to DVD-R for the next release. This would let me include more without too many worries about space, and wouldn't add additional postal costs.
The Forgotten Futures RPG distribution disks are a lot smaller and for now at least will stay on CD.
This isn't an immediate crisis since I'm running massively late and the next release of the game is still a long way off - apologies to everyone for the endless delays - but I need to start sorting it out. To begin with, it would help if I had some idea how many people will actually run into problems with this. If you think it will cause difficulties - e.g., if you don't download the CD contents and can't read data DVDs - please email me and let me know.
I posted this a couple of years ago, but in case you missed it...
Are you using any of the Forgotten Futures material for educational purposes? If so I'd be VERY interested in knowing what subject, syllabus, etc. you're using it for. If you've developed work sheets or other educational resources related to this material I would very much like to put them on line - I can't actually pay anything for them, but it's a good opportunity to give your school, college, whatever a teeny amount of publicity, and you may be helping others to expand their syllabuses (syllabi?)
Please contact me via the usual address, myfirstname dot mylastname at gmail dot com, if you have anything I can use.
This year's Dragonmeet adventures
I've just been reminded that I haven't announced the games I'll be running at this year's Dragonmeet in London on December 7th.
Adventure title: Pyramid Scheme
System: Forgotten Futures
4-6 Players, pregenerated characters
Summary: In the aftermath of the Sirian invasion there are some unusual opportunities for entrepreneurs. Some of them seem too good to be true... but why on Earth would the government pay anyone to dismantle and ship a pyramid to Mars? This is a test of a new setting and scenario and some delays and problems are possible.
This is another test of the setting for Forgotten Futures XII.
Adventure Title: It's The End of the World As We Know It...
System: Diana: Warrior Princess
Summary: The world is ending, the human race is dying... and the adventurers need to get to the one place on Earth that gives them a hope of survival. If they all pull together they might even make it... but as usual things really aren't that simple. This is a test of a new scenario and system variant and some delays and problems are possible.
This is another test of the Fanfic RPG variant of the Diana: Warrior Princess rules.
Hopefully this will be a lot of fun, if my voice just holds out, and I hope that I'll see some of you there.
With the Night Mail and As Easy as A.B.C.
Further to my recent post; as well as updating As Easy as A.B.C. with pictures from its original publication, I've taken another look at the first story of the sequence, With the Night Mail and fixed a lot of small errors. I've also put together a PDF of both stories with the best illustrations. All of which can be found on line here:
Update 23/10/13 - Since this was posted I've fixed a few problems and added another colour illustration to the PDF. If you copied it in the first few hours please download it again, there are some real improvements.
Update 4/11/13 - fixed three minor PDF errors (pages 1, 7, and 21 if you wish to reprint them). Also reduces file size slightly.
As Easy as A.B.C. - Illustrated!
I've been able to get a copy of the original magazine publication of Kipling's As Easy As A.B.C., and scans are now on line. There are some minor textual differences between this and later versions, listed at the end of the story.
More new articles, and one that got away for now
At the prodding of Roger Todd, who has gone through vast quantities of old magazines so that you don't have to, and suggested some material I'd previously missed, I've been putting some more Victorian and Edwardian articles on line. As always open them in a new window/tab, some of the illos are big! Please let me know if you spot any typos, OCR errors, etc.
From Pearson's Magazine:
The Gentle Art of Killing. A "light-hearted" history of rifles, with some interesting predictions of their future.
A visit to the Yerkes observatory - The Greatest Telescope on Earth by Walter George Bell
A look at transatlantic cables, including pictures of the "telegraphic alphabet", punched tape messages, equipment used to lay cables and receive messages, etc. etc.
Under Water in a Diving Torpedo Boat - an 1899 account of the Holland submarine and a brief glimpse of French experiments.
And from The Strand Magazine
An engagingly loopy and (despite appearing in April 1903) I suspect seriously-intended) proposal to build an enduring tomb and monument of the Empire in London.
And one that got away...
An article which I unfortunately couldn't put on line is The English Home of the Future, from The Strand Magazine in 1903, which contains contributions by several eminent architects and an essay by H.G. Wells. Unfortunately Wells is still in European copyright and the current copyright holders want me to pay £100 to use it, so it isn't going to happen until September 2016, when his copyright expires. If this article happens to be on line in an area where it doesn't violate copyright laws please let me know, and I'll add a link to it.
War on the Water - George Griffith & Fred T. Jane
Newly added; an 1896 article by George Griffith, with illustrations by Fred T. Jane (of Jane's Fighting Ships fame), predicting the future of naval warfare.
Several years ago, to publicise Forgotten Futures X, I printed a couple of hundred dragon coins in six designs and hid them around a convention site. Anyone who found all six designs got a copy of the distribution CD. Some of the designs ended up in the back of the RPG, others were used in the cover illustrations, but I never got around to putting them on line as a printable sheet until now. The coins are single sided, the second side was an ad for the game, but should still be useful as game counters etc., and I think they're quite pretty - most of the illustrations are by Hugo award winning artist Sue Mason.
I'll link to them on the FF X page eventually, but for now this link will work:
The file is about 135k, A4 page format.
The Original Flatland Role Playing Game (The Flattened Remix)
Sales of The Original Flatland Role Playing Game, which is sold in aid of Doctors Without Borders, have been slow recently. I've decided to try an experiment; I've put the complete game rules and two adventures on line as a free download, omitting another adventure and some adventure outlines, the cutout characters, the wargame, the "serious scientific stuff", the novel, etc. I'm hoping that this will be enough of a "taster" that people will be tempted to buy the complete game. It's a bit over a megabyte download, accessible here:
If you like it, why not buy the complete game from e23 or Drivethru RPG and support Doctors Without Borders?
And don't forget that there's a Forgotten Futures / Flatland crossover adventure in The Forgotten Futures Compendium:
If you've been trying to download the Forgotten Futures Compendium and having problems, many apologies. It was one of the directories affected by the site problems earlier this year, and somehow got missed when I fixed the damaged files. The link should now work properly.
I'm sorting out my finances for the last financial year, including the money I've raised for charity over the last few months.
Forgotten Futures has raised exactly £91 for Cancer Research UK, which I've topped up to £100 and donated today, taking the total raised to date to £2094.50 - since these donations have qualified for Gift Aid the true value to the charity is over £2600.
Sales of The Original Flatland Role Playing Game have continued to be poor, raising only $57.60 (about £37.61) for Doctors Without Borders; I've topped this up to £40 and donated it, taking the total raised to £255 plus gift aid.
Finally, another reminder that my old home-page
is a "dead" site - I can't update anything on it apart from this news, a lot of the information on it, including all contact details, is out of date, but the hosting company won't take it down. PLEASE use
The Pulpomizer! You never knew you wanted it, but you do...
And this is the sort of thing it does...
I suspect that I shall be making use of this in e.g. adverts for games at cons etc.
To prevent this happening again the hosting company has disabled FTP file uploading, from now on I will be using the secure FTPS protocol. I've also changed all passwords and made them considerably harder to crack, and deleted email accounts which are no longer used.
Once again, my apologies; I hope that everything is now OK and will do my best to keep it that way.
This year's online Xmas card is here
It's about 560K, hope you'll enjoy it!
No more Usenet presence
My current ISP doesn't offer a free Usenet feed, so I've been using a paid feed. But for one reason and another I rarely look at Usenet and don't really have the time or patience to keep up with things. My subscription ends soon, with regrets I've decided to let it lapse.
Any news for Forgotten Futures and my other RPGs will be posted to my web site:
The feed for this is an insanejournal account
The same news is posted to a livejournal account
Finally, my day to day blog is
These are the adventures I should be running at Dragonmeet at the beginning of December.
System - Forgotten Futures
Adventure Title - The Ether Thieves
Adventure Description - In the 23rd Century the Anglo-Saxon Empire's economy depends on elemental forces extracted from the Ether. When the crew of the trawler Nostromo learn that the ether in their allotted area of space has been badly depleted, it's time to look for the culprits. Load the guns, me hearties, and sing a space shanty or two as we track them down...
Note - this is a play-test of a setting and adventure still in development, occasional rough patches are possible.
System - Diana: Warrior Princess
Adventure Title - Monster Mash
Adventure Description - America, the 1950s. You just want to meet with your friends, chug a few beers or some blood or brains, and maybe go out and terrorize the neighbourhood a little. But the locals seem to have weird objections. Well, that's what being a monster is all about, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise, but somehow it always hurts. But not as much as you're going to hurt the locals...
Note - this is a play-test of a system variant and adventure still in development, occasional rough patches are possible.
Hope I'll see some of you there.
Tooth and Claw - UK Edition
I'm very pleased to say that there is finally to be a UK edition of Jo Walton's Tooth and Claw, the source for Forgotten Futures X. If you haven't already read it, you really should; it's a fantastic little book.
Long-range engines for the Weinbaum universe
In FF XI it isn't easy to design ships capable of reaching Pluto and returning without various fudges such as in-flight refuelling, drop tanks, etc. which don't seem to fit in the spirit of Weinbaum's original stories.
Following some discussion, Rob Garitta has suggested a couple of fixes - Long Range Engines, which convert fuel more efficiently but can't put out huge amounts of thrust, and some support infrastructure for the premier pirate, Red Peri:
I'd like to suggest the following fudge: long range engines. They are limited to .015 gees cruising speed and a maximum emergency speed of 1.5 gees. They cost +50% and weigh +25% (coincidentally the same as racing engines!) When cruising the ship uses fuel half as fast. Long range engines can't also be racing engines. Frank Keene's ship and the Uranus expeditions probably used in flight fuel transfers as you said. The Peri probably has fueling facilities on Pluto.
In the case of the Red Peri I made up the following:
Peri MacIane (genius that he was) produced the tetrahedral design for the stability it affords making a wilderness landing. Three points define a plane and panding gear mounted at each corner and a center firing engine would make the ship nearly impossible to roll. In addition he designed the engine mountings to allow the quick change of several engines. So the Peri has a long range and racing engine for her ship at each base and mounts the proper engine for the job. She might even have several engines in a major base using uranium, radium or protactinium according to available fuel. The result to League investigators is that her ship seems to be able to go anywhere and catch anything.
I'm assuming she had/has several bases with additional engines, one on Pluto (that she moved to Uranus thanks to Keene), one on the dark side of Venus, and one on Iapetus.
Both of these ideas work - in the case of the long range engine use the design rules and template; select racing engine but maximum thrust must be 0.15g, maximum emergency thrust must be 1.5g, and halve the fuel consumption. I'd suggest that referees come up with their own locations for the Peri's base (if it still exists) since players may read this.
One thing I would suggest adding is that the difficulty of piloting rolls during take-off and landing should be +1, since there is so little power to play with. Getting caught by cross-winds would be seriously bad news.
This is a neat fix which doesn't unbalance things too badly, since most players will want a faster flight on the shorter routes. I recommend it, but make sure that players know that there are disadvantages.
Congenial - and possibly off line over the weekend
I'll be at Congenial, the Unicon / RPG con in Cambridge, over the weekend.
Please note that I may not be on line much during the convention - the site apparently won't have WiFi, and I'll be dependent on public access points etc. This may lead to delays in processing Forgotten Futures registrations and other mail etc., for which many apologies.
I'm currently involved in three programme items, all on Saturday:
Saturday 11:00, Council Room: So you want to be a Mad Scientist?
Two teams of would-be mad scientists compete to prove which are the bright sparks, and which are the missing links. It's not rocket science, it's a silly game brought to you by Peter Wareham and Gwen Funnell.
Saturday 13:00, Council Room: … never survives contact with the players
How to cope with this, and work around it, while always remembering the players’ inevitable combination of twisted ingenuity and failing to spot the bloody obvious.
Saturday 17:00, Long Room: Only Connect
A quiz about connections, presented by Diana Cox.
At some point I hope to run two scenarios - probably Jellystone (for a fanfic RPG I'm developing based on Diana: Warrior Princess rules, and Bone Hunters (previous title Marooned on Jupiter) for Forgotten Futures. I ran both at Dragonmeet last year, and Marooned... at Continuum three weeks ago, but hopefully there will be some players there who don't know them.
Hope I'll see some of you there!
I'll be at two university RPG cons in July and August:
Continuum in Leicester on July 20th-23rd. I've only booked a few days ago and haven't received confirmation of my membership yet, so this is not 100% definite, but I can't think of any reason why it won't happen. Guests include Robin D. Laws.
Congenial, which is a university SF convention combined with the British Role Playing Society RPG convention, at Murray Edwards College (formerly New Hall, Cambridge), on 10th-12th August. Guests include Phil and Kaja Foglio.
I'll probably run a couple of games at each con, but I'm not sure what at this stage - probably something for Forgotten Futures, and something using the Diana-based Fanfic RPG idea I'm developing. I'm not going to be launching anything new.
Both of these are fun conventions at excellent sites, and I've greatly enjoyed their predecessors. I hope I'll see some of you there.