07. Bossa Nova

This page is a storage spot for information on this Steampunk/VSF/Magic-Realist war-game/story-telling campaign set in 1870’s/1880’s Latin America.

Bossa Nova is an island in the Pacific close to the Chilean coast of South America. It is probably the last tip of the ancient continent of Mu. Undiscovered or unregarded until recently, Bossa Nova bears strong similarities to Skull Island of Kong fame, and is closely modelled on it. It is the focus of the colonial rivalries of the great powers, and a theatre for continuation of the Guerra del Pacifico between Chile and an alliance of Peru and Bolivia. The reason for the sudden interest in this place is the large guano deposits, valuable in fertiliser and explosive manufacture.

To misquote Gabriel García Márquez, the land is new. So new that many things do not have names yet and it is necessary to point to identify them.

PLACES

Port Victoria – Also known as Fort Victoria, previously known as Port Philip or Devil’s Cove. The major modern settlement. Launching point for nearly all expeditions into the interior.

Shortly after sighting Easter Island in 1722, the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen continued and caught sight of the new island as he sailed through the Pacific. Unable to approach because of the treacherous currents and inhospitable coast, he named the place Skull Island and sailed away.

The next recorded visitor — Spanish Captain Don Felipe Gonzales — arrived in 1770, but he too had no opportunity to land. Then came the famous Captain James Cook in 1774 who sighted it, noted it, and commented that it appeared to have no scientific or commercial interest. The French managed a landing in 1786, but Captain le Comte de La Pérouse found the land so inhospitable that he quickly left.

Successive expeditions of Peruvian slavers had patchy success. Many never returned. Those that did told of cannibals and monsters in the hinterland that defied reason. When a crude settlement was made the remnants of much earlier Spanish expeditions were unvovered. It was then that the name Port Philip was reinstituted, but of these initial explorers, thought to have landed some time in the 1400’s, no living trace was ever found.

Finding the coastline so injurious to navigation and the natives so blood thirsty, the place was left largely to its own devices. Those charts that showed any presence at all vaguely indicated a mass called variously Skull Island, after Roggeveen, or Bossa Nova, after the disasterous original Spanish (or Portugese) missions. No one wantwed it, or cared that it existed. And so it may have remained until Alexander von Humbold, in November 1802,  studied guano and its fertilizing properties. It was that that the Peruvian leaders remembered Bossa Nova and its large guano deposits, and the first serious steps were made to make a permanent foothold.

Now, In 1880(ish), guano mining for fertilisers and more specifically explosives is big business. Almost simultaneously British, French, German and American interests claimed the island, along with Peru, Chile and Bolivia. Spain’s claim, while stronger legally, was reduced during the related Chincha Islands War (1864-1866).

British commerical interest is stronger, and so is its presence. As a consequence the main canton where most of the foreigners live is now called Port Victoria. The other name used is Fort Victoria, reflecting the bizarre and as yet unexplained gigantic wall that separates the spit of land with the port from the rest of the island.

Of the original inhabitants of Devil’s Cove, few are now in evidence. Those that survived the slave raids, smallpox and other civilising events have fled into the interior, where they pose a significant risk to any intruder.

An uneasy truce exists in Port Victoria between the embassys of Chile and the allies of Peru and Bolivia. Outside of the protective walls, however, the forces of these beligerants raid and counter raid each others’ mining operations and expeditions.

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