I’m surprised at myself for having forgotten this one. It was on a different shelf, but is still covering the same basic topic. While the exact details of this supplement are even less likely to be used, there are still some useful atmosphere pieces. I could well see this as the basis for the Lost Civilisation element deep in the jungles.
Wargame rules seem to be fairly stable in my mind now, and I will post a pdf f them soon. For the story telling elements, should that ever arise, I will run with my Enquiry chart and modified Mythic approach. This is a tried and true method for me. In the even less likely circumstance of a conventional role playing game, I would advocate Savage Worlds, but should the players baulk at something new, the BRP system as articulated in Call of Cthulhu would do. Not that it matters.
So now I come to some housecleaning thoughts about the setting. The date, as mentioned earlier, is 1880ish. The place is Bossa Nova (aka Skull Island, the Island of dread, the Island of the Ape). It is large, probably around 200 kilometres long, and is found in the Pacific Ocean, off the coasts of Chile and Peru. How it has remained undiscovered till today remains the mystery of the age. Outlying islands are barren and dry and are mounded with valuable bird guano, demanded in modern munitions manufacture. Occupation and exploitation of these islands is hotly pursued and contested. Bossa Nova itself is mountainous and predominantly covered with jungle. A massive wall separates a small area of land from the bulk of the island and it is here that the modern people have their enclaves. Who built the wall and when is a mystery. The why is partially understood in reference to the horrors sighted, and the poor record of survival of those who explore inland. Dinosaurs are hinted at, but discounted by any scientist worth his salt.
Modern technology is explicable to any reader who has seen a Western movie, or Zulu, and probably most films depicting the American Civil War. Though in that last case the muzzle loading weapons are considered hopelessly old fashioned. None the less it is probable that such weapons are common. Pistols may be revolvers but not automatics. Repeating weapons such as the typical Winchester lever action beloved in Westerns are called carbines and are comparatively low powered. Proper rifles are single shot breach loaders, either bolt action or lever action falling block, or any other of the many variations. Shotguns are double barrelled. In all cases the propellant used is still black powder, with all that is implied for smoke, power and range. Machine guns are not man portable. They are the carriage mounted Gatling gun, for example. Artillery can be muzzle loading or breach loading.
Communications are carried out with heliographs (light reflecting mirror devices) or by telegraph. Wireless has not been invented. Telegraph wires have not been laid into the interior with any degree of success. The method of message transmission is by morse code.
Steam power is well known and exploited. However, it is unlikely that much railway track has been laid on Bossa Nova. But that won’t preclude me from designing a juicy train scenario if I can.
Politically, the island is influenced by three vastly different motives. The first is Imperial machinations of the British, French, German and American embassies. Each of these maintain their on (tiny) military forces and use these to extend the commercial interests of their respective powers. Control of the guano islands is primary, but also high on the list is the penetration of the secrets of the interior for subsequent exploitation. On the surface there is a high degree of civilised cooperation. Underneath, however, the powers support or hinder local forces with the cynical intentions of hindering their opposition.
The second political current in Bossa Nova concerns the volatile relationship between Chile, Peru and Bolivia. At this time the three are engaged in the Guerra del Pacifico, competing for control of the Atacama desert. In the civilised canton, Imperial forces prevent open fighting between the three, but outside of those walls the war on the mainland is extended to the token forces on Bossa Nova. Raids and counter raids are common, disrupting expeditions and supply lines.
Finally, in a further departure from strict history, the internal politics of the three South American representatives affects the people on Bossa Nova. Government in these countries is still in a recent post-colonial (Spanish) embryonic state. While the trappings of democracy are present, the reality is that governments are led invariably by Strong Men whose notion of public service is limited to an appreciation of ‘who controls the till’. All elections are rigged, and even if not, no one really believes the outcome. As a result, revolutions, civil wars and coup d’états shock the respective nations with saddening regularity.
Rather than try to characterise each of the infinite variety of contestants in such disputes, I will use the system implied in 100 Years of Solitude. There are two factions: the Conservatives and the Liberals. The Conservatives believe in the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, the sanctity of the family, the inviolability of property rights, and respect for age, tradition, and authority. In short they uphold the traditional aristocratic values that some people are better than others, as represented by wealth, and that these privileged-by-God people should rule. Their catch cry might be ‘Stability’. The Liberals believe in the application of law equally to all citizens, the redistribution of wealth and land to those who might put it to use, the abolishment of all forms of slavery, and many other new-fangled and outrageous ideas that may include universal healthcare, education, the rights of women, and so on. Their catch cry might be ‘Justice’. It goes without saying that both sides claim to be fighting for Freedom.
Whatever strongman is in power, one of other of these factions are planning his downfall. If he came from the Liberals, the Conservatives will be gearing to start a civil war, and vice versa. However, power corrupts, and regardless of what side he started from by the time he has fought his way from the provinces to the capitol he stands on a pile of corpses. Not only military enemies but also political ones. To consolidate his power deals had to be made and inconvenient agitators eliminated. He now stands a paranoid despot no different, except in uniform, from the tyrant he went to war to overthrow. He is surrounded by flunkies bought with the money unjustly wrenched from the population and a slew of favours and titles hastily invested. The fruits of his victory are the seeds of his inevitable demise.
And so on Bossa Nova we may see reflected this instability. Friends and allies one month may be foes the next. From a game point of view, this allows me to pit almost any force against any other.