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Heading for a clear bright sun

Wed Dec 28, 2016 8:18 pm

Last edited by loki100 on Sun Feb 26, 2017 7:56 pm, edited 17 times in total.

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Facing up to a problem

Wed Dec 28, 2016 8:21 pm

"So we have an experiment that has been out of control for 25 years - why not just end it now?"

The older person in the room turned to face the questionner.

“Well two reasons …. one is we have a rogue agent”

“So, terminate the experiment … terminate the agent”

“If you will let me finish. We have both a new opportunity and an unusual problem. She was interogated and provided some information. We know from other experiments with this timeline that the event she was to change is not critical … just very important. So we can learn, maybe, how to reset a desired sequence. Second she made it clear she betrayed us for love – in the end she could not force … {the transcript here is unclear] to do as we wished as she could not see him sent into exile, losing his lands and titles. So we can maybe speak to her again, find out why she turned against us – something that we can maybe control better in the future”

“Valid but why not extract her and interrogate her here?”

“well she has made it clear she has no interest in speaking to us”

At this an image appeared behind the speaker. Around the room various people gasped or stared in disbelief.

“She did that … and left it in the open”

Turning to look at the remains, with wires and circuits readily visible.

“Yes, she went with her son to Siberia, it appeared her husband could not save her … nor did she wish to be saved, her beliefs were too well known for her to avoid exile - his loyalty was not enough, especially as her son was one of the main organisers.

The remains are in the east of that region, an uninhabited area, so we have no immediate reason to fear discovery”

“So we have a disaster but maybe we can learn. Maybe we can use this to learn how to restore an experiment. We know from this point we can still achieve our desired goal … all we have lost is some certainty due to the earlier error.

But we can no longer leave this world to its own devices. It will need close guidance from now on – not least some of its inhabitants now work against us”

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Wed Dec 28, 2016 9:29 pm

During his PON AAR Loki spoke of possibly doing a Russian campaign of the game. Could this be it? Seeing how entertaining "Manufacturing Italy" was this should be worth the read reguardless.

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Sat Dec 31, 2016 9:37 pm

clandini5 wrote:During his PON AAR Loki spoke of possibly doing a Russian campaign of the game. Could this be it? Seeing how entertaining "Manufacturing Italy" was this should be worth the read reguardless.


Yes, after 2 and a half years of no sustained PoN play - testing events etc doesn't really count - I've succumbed to the lure of what I still think is the best game ever coded up (for all its ommissions etc).

However, have decided that I have done my share of 'how-tos' etc and have long had the view that the characterisation and event system of AGEOD games lends itself to a more narrative/fictional style of presentation - so this is a test

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A conversation

Sat Dec 31, 2016 9:40 pm

As the room emptied one of the younger members hung back.

“Maister”

“Yes”

“Forgive me but I am confused. I thought we never operated alone within a new timeline … just so that this problem could not happen?”

“Ah, you ask what happened to the others who were sent? Most of the fools in this room failed to see that.

Answer me first --- What is our purpose?”

“Maister?”

“Come speak freely, you are no fool or you wouldn't be here now”

“To change key events so we can be sure that humanity will avoid the critical error that threatens the destruction of many, if not of an entire world. So we experiment, with preconditions, to see if any make a fundamental difference … and, if so, set them into the next test … until ...”

“Yes, a good repetition of the theory”

“Maister?”, this time said with mounting concern … “so what are we doing”

“You know the problem of our world … well we do not just want to learn how that happened but ...” At this he fell silent. “No, for the moment, be assured, there were others, this test is not just of altering key events but trying to influence the ongoing development of a world”

“But ….”

“Yes, not quite the academic historical process we usually use, but this time there are reasons. Even if we have to ignore some ethical issues”


“No, that is all I will say for now, go now. We will speak again”.

As she left the room, he turned back to his papers and muttered 'even the most astute can't see what we really need'

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Sun Jan 01, 2017 6:28 am

OMG - this is great stuff. All I can say is I am in awe of your post as I am in awe of this game.

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Thu Jan 05, 2017 10:08 pm

Durk wrote:OMG - this is great stuff. All I can say is I am in awe of your post as I am in awe of this game.


thank you ... hope I can keep it up, few more posts before we move onto the main events though ...

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A busy New Years Day ... part 1

Thu Jan 05, 2017 10:12 pm

Moscow, 1 January 1850

“Ekaterina [1] – make sure you are ready soon, Boris Stepanovic is visiting … and then your grandmother”.

My mother does not do anything so base as to shout – but Siberia teaches you how to be heard at a distance.

Well ... I turn back to the mirror. So Boris is back in Moscow. I had heard his regiment was still in the Ukraine [2], but he must have leave.

My mother can communicate so much with so few words. Both word order and intonation indicated which of our visitors was the most important. So Boris Stepanovic has returned to woo me.

To my mother this represents the chance for our family to regain our former status. If he, loyal (and I think rather stupid), is prepared to marry the daughter of a convicted rebel, born in exile, then we have really served our sentence and are ready to re-enter court society.

So it seems the future of the family rests on me being a worthy catch. Naturally attention will then shift to Olga, my younger sister, but it will be I who opens the doors. Then, again, mother can speak with those who make the decisions as to who to favour, who to raise, who to remove from positions of power.

For me, I want to see Grandmother. Despite her age [3] she always seems so much younger than my parents ... sometimes even than my friends.

[1] In Russian, Katja is the common informal version - in turn Katyusha is used between friends or lovers.
[2] As an aside a substantial Russian army took part in the campaign against the Hungarians in 1849 – some of whom were rather slow to leave the newly conquered territories.
[3] 78 … for reasons that will be explained.
Last edited by loki100 on Sun Feb 26, 2017 7:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:54 pm

Changing history, one event at a time, looks very promising!

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:15 pm

Pocus wrote:Changing history, one event at a time, looks very promising!


and where better to do that than in game where the event sequence is open to any who wishes to push history in a given direction?

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A busy New Years Day ... part 2

Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:18 pm

Moscow, 1 January 1850

'Baba'

'Katyusha .. no not so hard, I am old and infirm, hug me like that and you break my bones'

I stepped back to look at Grandmother. Small … yes, but then she has always been small. Infirm … no, I have long suspected the walking stick is for show not use.

'Baba, I am sorry, just after a morning of Boris … I feel so alive when I see you'.

'But Katja, I am not your fidenzato … pah your жених … I am sorry at my age my memory is going and I revert to the language of my childhood'

Again I step back and look. No the eyes are still bright, there is no evidence that she has lost her mind in the week since I last saw her.

'But dear child, tell me, are you to be married .. your mother indicated great hopes for the family'

'Oh Baba, I don't know. He is …', here even I stumble over my words, 'well so stupid. For an hour he tells me about Vienna, how wonderful the barracks are, how wealthy is the officers mess.

...

How decadent and doomed is the West. How their current problems with liberals are so unimportant. How he heard of worse men, socialists, anarchists, communists and how those men are seeking to destroy not just the West, but Holy Mother Russia.

All about politics and the army.

And of course all the time he makes sure I can see how wonderful he looks in his uniform

So Baba, my possible husband is vain and boring … you see what I have to endure.'

At this my grandmother laughed. 'Katja, you are no novice at these conversations, he must have done something unusual to offend you so much?'

Again, I find it hard to say what I want.

'Yes Baba, I think he is not wooing me … it is Olga he really wants'

This time my grandmother steps back and looks at me.

'Ekaterina Dmitryevna'

This startles me, even more than Boris' boasts. My grandmother never uses my full name – even my first name is only used when she wants to tell me off. Even worse, she actually seems to be worried.

'Be careful of Boris, he may not be the fool you think him …

Anyway, darling girl, tell me of your plans for the evening … do you go to Natalia Ilyinichna's reception … your dress, tell me of your dress.'
Last edited by loki100 on Sun Jan 15, 2017 1:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Thu Jan 12, 2017 8:38 pm

Loki, this is fascinating. This is a very creative and interesting way to present this information. Thank you so much for sharing this, and I encourage you to continue!

Regards,

Vaalen

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Re: A busy New Years Day ... part 2

Sun Jan 15, 2017 12:58 am

blank for now

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Re: A busy New Years Day ... part 2

Sun Jan 15, 2017 1:03 am

vaalen wrote:Loki, this is fascinating. This is a very creative and interesting way to present this information. Thank you so much for sharing this, and I encourage you to continue!

Regards,

Vaalen


thank you, I've long wanted to use the characterisation and event system in the AGEOD games for a more narrative/character driven AAR. But it will work closely to an emerging game as well.

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Just to place things in context ...

Tue Jan 17, 2017 6:14 pm

Before any more jumping around probably best to explain what I am trying to do.

The norm for AGEOD AARs has always been reporting game play and this makes sense as many AARs are based on PBEM tussles. I've always felt this is a bit of a pity as the historical accuracy of the games and detailed rendition of key personalities seems to present the chance to use a more narrative and character driven style of writing. So, begging your indulgence, that is what I intend to do in this one – not least I do feel I have repaid some of my debt to this superb game in terms of detailed 'how to' guides and so on.

I'll be open about any modding and will probably put in a few posts here and there as a discussion of the game engine or suggested event modifications.

Equaly I have always been fascinating by 'what if' questions and what might, or might not, have occured otherwise.

Answering this is never easy. We are often faced with unique events, such as the French Revolution of 1789-92, with so many variables and, critically, no chance to hold some aspects steady while allowing others to change. Thus any exploration of alternatives is not a science, more a narrative art. Even in the context of a game this is a challenge as they are often quite complex systems.

One solution of course would be to have the capacity to create multiple copies of earth at a particular point. And then vary this or that factor and let the history rerun itself. Done often enough and you can move from speculation to detailed theorising.

However, such an approach is – of course – beyond us (again hence the attractions of historical strategy games?). It also implies a degree of lack of concern for humanity as it is quite possible that in changing events, the final outcome is worse. Finally what happens if such an experiment starts to develop a life of its own? Perhaps if people become aware that someone is trying to ensure a certain event?

The inspiration for this AAR comes from two main sources. The first is Alastair Reynold's Century Rain which posits the idea of an 'Earth 2' that diverged from our own timeline at a key point (in his the German attack on France in 1940 failed, ending WW2 but also cutting off a number of important scientific discoveries that emerged from military research during the war). He then has 2 factions from 'our' earth engaged in a struggle for the future of this alternative.

As an aside, his other books deal with the issue of inter-stellar civilisations with space travel limited to the speed of light. This avoids all the easy fixes of many Sci-Fi treatments and creates some fascinating implications.

The other was the Director's A Special Providence written based on Victoria 1. Probably the best narrative AAR I have ever read, its a joy to follow from start to end. He too has external agents interacting on our world, but this is interlinked with a fascinating insight into American history in the nineteenth century and switches point of view from his main characters (and their wider narrative) to in-game action.

As you will see, some of both of these approaches have survived – and I strongly suggest reading both.

Since I am playing Russia, it may be easy to guess what pivotal event I am interested in. As a clue it occurs almost at the end of the PoN timeline.

But for various reasons, I am using the Decembrist revolt in late 1825 as the key thing that should have been changed. As will be clear it happened as in our history and that is going to have a lot ramifications. The idea was that it would have succeeded, potentially setting Russia on a very different path ... but to what end?

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A death in Moscow

Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:47 am

Moscow 1813

Moscow in January 1813 was a bleak place. Outside were layers of snow, soot, ash, and more snow – almost laid out with archaeological precision. Many homes had been burnt to the ground. The grander houses mostly survived the hasty French arson but were damaged.

Slowly the residents were returning to their shattered homes and lives. No longer was Moscow of any importance, the war was well to the West. Talk was of Berlin, Vienna and Paris … Moscow had served its role and was now cast off.

The fires had not ended when the French left. The local criminal gangs learnt quickly. The threat of fire, or the demand for protection, was far more lucrative than their traditional activities. Equally control of the few intact buildings gave them income from excessive rents.

In the context, the outbreak of new fires or explosions was not so unusual.

The Bashutsky residence was typical. Fire blackened, fine furnishings mostly destroyed, windows boarded up but physically intact. Inside sat a noble woman. She sat close to a small fire in a large grate, in her lap was a book, on the table to her side was a pistol.

The deserted mansion was noisy - wind, damage, rats, and thieves all gave it the appearance of life. Even so some sounds are deliberate. Opening a door that is badly hung is not something that happens easily.

'Ah you have come back to your lair'. The man looked around. 'This time our plans work well, we do seem to have learnt how to manage Napoleon. His defeat will now set off the changes we want. Then your work will be done'.

The Contessa looked up. 'Why do you think I will betray Paul Jakovlevich? [1]'.

'No, you cannot betray, because that implies he has a different future'

'Oh he does' Gazing around the damage, she continued 'You have harmed him, and others, needlessly already. This war was avoidable, you knew how to stop it. This damage to his life was avoidable. I will not see him stripped off all he loves again'.

'Not … Gabriella? … oh don't be surprised - let us use our names in this world, we must maintain illusions. Of course I could use your popular name ... la strega [2] …these Slavs are perceptive They sense something of your true character. Not … no that is not a choice we can make. … He has a set role, he must carry it out and we are here simply to guide him and others towards that outcome'.

'Well then we waste words when we have nothing to say to each other. I will not betray him'.

'In that case, we have one solution. If you are not here to prevent him acting then at least there would be a chance that he makes the right choice.'

As he spoke, he reached for the gun beneath his over-cape.

Unfortunately in many violent confrontations one side has decided on violence long before the other is even aware of the threat. This is can be more decisive than simple physical strength. Even as he reached for his gun, Gabriella raised the pistol and fired.

The man slumped back.

'Why waste your time, you know I can repair the damage from the puny weapons of this place'

'Check your wound, I used one of our weapons … you have been careless in where you hid them'.

Soon afterwards a slight woman slowly moved down the dark street dragging something. To a passer by it may have been valuable firewood - not that there were any passer-bys that cold snowy night.

Shortly afterwards, a large explosion lit up the sky near the destroyed Krimski Bridge.

Few really bothered, to most it was yet another episode in the re-organisation of the city's geography.

[1] Paul Jakovlevich Bashutsky was a real person, I'm going to take a few liberties with his life and biography but the key issue is he was commander of the St Petersburg garrison when the Decembrist revolt took place.
[2] Witch in Italian

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Fri Jan 20, 2017 4:49 pm

Now you have me checking the forum every day to see if you have posted another installment of this fascinating AAR,

In appreciation,

Vaalen

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Fri Jan 20, 2017 7:02 pm

vaalen wrote:Now you have me checking the forum every day to see if you have posted another installment of this fascinating AAR,

In appreciation,

Vaalen


well since you asked so nicely ...

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Love in Italy

Fri Jan 20, 2017 7:09 pm

Outside Cassano, 25 April 1799

Poruchik [1] Bashutsky was exhausted … and scared.

He carried dispatches critical to the old man's campaign. Not that he would ever refer to Field Marshall Suvorov in such terms – at least not outside the safety of his own head.

Late yesterday afternoon he had stood to attention while General Bagration prepared his dispatch. The capture of Lecco secured the flank of the Russian army allowing it to push onto Milan. No military roads stretched north along Lake Como and into the Alps so the French could no longer hope to outflank the main army.

But first the Field Marshall had to know. And this was his job. Ride over 70 miles along the muddy tracks of the Adda in its late winter spate. Evade any French cavalry patrols, avoid thieves and brigands.

That was the real threat. He had already had one horse wounded in an ambush while carrying messages.

For some reason Bagration trusted him. Perhaps because he spoke Italian – a product of an aristocratic governess on the family's Polish estates. Perhaps because the more senior staff officers were even more exhausted. Most likely, Bagration had not even thought about his choice - simply summoning the nearest person.

So here he was. If his map was to be believed he was somewhere near the small village of Gropello [2]. The only building he could see was a typical square stone large farm building. In effect the usual fortress style building where nobles and peasants … and animals … lived for security [3].

Normally, especially in the early dawn light such a building would be of no interest to him. Avoid it and the locals would avoid him. This was not their war, outside the cities there was no sympathy for either French or Russians. They simply wanted the armies to go away.

But his damn horse was dead. The last ford, taken too hastily in the dark, had been deeper than he expected. Just as it reached the bank the animal had stumbled and broken its leg. So he needed a horse and that meant entering the farm.

Maybe Bagration had made a wise choice in his messenger.

In any case Paul Jakovlevich Bashutsky was to find his life changed for ever due to a clumsily ridden horse … at least that is what he believed till the day he died [4].

As he hammered on the door he hoped that some of the labourers were already going to work. Unlikely so early in the year, and with two armies camped nearby, but he could hope.

After what seemed to be an age, he heard someone pull back the bolts and demand to know who was there. In response Paul simply stated his need for a horse and the promise of prompt payment once he reached Cassano. In his fatigue he had not really listened to the voice, simply assuming it would be a labourer or overseer.

As the door swung back his tiredness fell away. Standing in front of him was a stunningly beautiful young woman.

'Come inside … quick'.

'Contessa, I simply need a horse … I must be gone'.

'Well if all you need is a horse … then you shall have one. But I have need of a man … an escort … so maybe you can help me too. All the men have fled, my father is trapped in Milan [5], I have lived in fear for the last week that soldiers would come looking for food. Take me to Cassano'.

Paul Jakovlevich was somewhere between bewitched and offended. That this beauty wanted his protection appealed to his sense of chivalry. That a woman dared to make impertinent demands of a staff officer of the Imperial Russian Army offended his sense of importance.

However, he was also a practical man. She would not slow him over the short distance he still had to ride. And it would be easier to be offered a horse rather than have to take one by force.

He quickly followed her to the stables and a few minutes later they both rode south towards Cassano. He turned to his companiion and asked:

'Contessa, what is your name?'

'Gabriella di Gropello ... but I doubt you will ever remember it. Our business will be ended before the morning is much older'.

[1] Roughly equivalent to the rank of Lieutenant
[2] Google maps are incredibly useful for this sort of thing
[3] Lombardy is full of these, large solid buildings with an open internal courtyard. Two wings were used for storage of food and animals. The farm workers slept in another while the final wing would house the local aristocracy. The grandeur of the building varied according to the wealth of the ruling family.
[4] Of course, dear reader, it was not quite the accident it appeared.
[5] In other words behind the French army facing Suvorov

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Sat Jan 21, 2017 12:43 am

Thank you. Great read.

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St Petersburg, December 1825 - August 1826

Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:46 am

St Petersburg, December 1825

25 December [1]

The long dark night of the soul maybe a cliché. But for some people, at some times, it can be true.

Paul Jakovlevich could look back on a career with many highlights. Yes he had missed the battle of Austerlitz but had led a battalion at Eylau and then a regiment at Friedland. Both with distinction, and he gained further honours fighting the Swedes. Recalled by Bagration himself, he had been in that hell of Borodino and served in Germany before being wounded in a small skirmish in late 1813.

Even then he was lucky. Convalescing in Vienna, he had been added to the Russian delegation at the Congress. Now with both political and military backers he gained steady rewards. Finally, he had been appointed as commander of the St Petersburg garrison. Now all his career seemed to have led him to this point – where he faced an intolerable choice.

His loyalty lay to the Tsar, even one who had only been in power for 13 days [2]. His only son, Pyotr, had told him he would join in the planned revolt and 'modernise Russia'. Paul knew their calculations. If he ordered the garrison to join they would have the numbers to overwhelm the Imperial Guard, if he stayed loyal they were doomed. He was not a suspicious man, nor was he particularly religious, but he had a strong feeling of being manipulated towards a decision he did not want to take.

26 December

Anyone who had fought a battle would recognise the noise. Even if the firing was intermittent there was something unmistakable about the sound of musketry.

Image [3]

Paul Jakovlevich faced the officers of his command.

'Gentlemen, many of you fought for Russia and the Tsar against a foreign enemy. In many ways that is an easy choice. Today we will have to fight our fellow Russians.'

At this he paused for breath … public speaking had never been his strong point.

'However, there is no choice, no decision, no dilemma. Our oath is to the Tsar and to the person who occupies the throne. As soldiers we must obey out oaths. Muster the men and join the Guard, we will again protect Russia, even if against our fellow Russians'.

As he stood down, he reflected on how his doubts had fallen away. Gabriella, as always, had helped him in a moment of doubt. Last night he had gone to her for advice. She had pushed him to protect the family name and lands. Yes, Pyotr, if he survived, would face exile, but the Bashutsky lands would remain intact,

She had also forced him beyond staying neutral. As she stressed, she was a foreigner, suspected in her youth of being a French spy. At this he smiled. The memory of that day they had ridden into Cassano, him in his muddy uniform, her, beautiful and aloof at his side, was one he still cherished. Even if his fellow officers had been quick to accuse him of consorting with the enemy and … she had been less than honest. Her father had not been trapped in Milan. He had fled there. As a well known local Jacobin, he had fled fearing retribution as the French retreated.

Equally, she knew she was called a witch. If he was disloyal and the revolt failed, she would die.

So in the end, her existence may have led him to this day, but she had made it easy for him to choose.

1 August 1826

Paul Jakovlevich still refused to believe in curses.

But the last year had been a bitter one. Yesterday his son had been sentenced to exile in Siberia. Even as the announcement was made, he had been summoned to the Court. There he was politely told to retire, his lands and titles were secure but the father of a known traitor could not hold the keys to the Peter and Paul Fortress.

Worse was his final conversation with Gabriella. Since the revolt she had returned to their house in Moscow rather than face the gossips of St Petersburg. All the old allegations against her had resurfaced and to this was added that she had bred a traitor in the very heart of the Russian state.

Last night she had been in their rooms in St Petersburg when he returned from the Court. There she had told him she would accompany Pyotr to Siberia. At the time her arguments had been logical – he was young and naïve, he needed someone to help him, she feared she would taint Paul's future if she stayed. But for the first time Paul felt she lied to him, or at least did not tell him all. She seemed afraid for Pyotr, more than just the normal fears of a parent. And she was determined to go.



That was the last time he saw her, or his son [4].


[1] For everyone's sanity (including mine) I'm going to use the Julian calender dates for any real events from Russian history. But in case of confusion, the real Decembrist revolt did not take place over Christmas but on the 14 December 1825 (under Russia's then calender).

[2] Alexander died on 1 December (old style), his older brother Constantine decided not to accept the crown so his younger brother, Nicholas, took the throne.

[3] Since this has been all text so far, here's a picture. Captures the extent that the uprising was a social event for many of the citizens of St Petersburg who came out to watch but took very little part in the proceedings.

[4] For my own purposes I am going to assume that some Decembrists were pardoned in the 1830s, in reality this happened in the mid-1850s after the accession of Alexander II.

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Death in Siberia (part i)

Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:54 pm

15 September 1832

Early Autumn in Siberia was always unsettling. It carried false impressions of living in a benign land. The heat and flies of summer had died away, the all encompassing cold of winter had yet to arrive. Even after 5 years, Gabriella found in unsettling. But it was not just the weather, something else nagged at her [1].

She should be content. Exile suited her, and Pyotr had embraced the simplicities of Siberia. To the extent of courting and marrying the daughter of a local noble. And yesterday, Gabriella had had the strange sensation of becoming a Grandmother. Quite what her grand-daughter would inherit was unclear .. but it seemed strange to now have a future in this world.

Today she had gone to the muddy pier that jutted out into the river. An all too rare transport boat had arrived. This would be the last of the year, bringing mail, fresh convicts, maybe new guards for the prison, carrying what passed for trade between the isolated small settlements. All welcome, new sensations made a difference in an unchanging land.

Of course, she always took care to scrutinise new arrivals. She knew that her actions in St Petersburg and Moscow would attract retribution. With a new grand-daughter, she oddly felt a renewed determination to live herself. There had been several new arrivals worth closer scrutiny, but tonight she gave herself to grief.

She had known there would be mail yesterday. Her closest companion had confided in the 'Contessa' who among them would receive letters. Even after five years here, she remained surprised at the efficiency and accuracy of local communications.

And that the title 'Contessa' had followed her. She had presented herself as a Russian noble-women come to share her son's exile. After 30 years, she knew she spoke with no accent. But the title had come, unbidden, along with her.

She had no doubt that the other name, 'la Strega' followed too. Here of course it was a term tinged with fear and admiration. For if a woman could look younger than her sixty years, and stronger than her small frame should be … well she needed to be treated with respect in a world where witchcraft was seen as a fact of life.

But tonight was a time for grief.

Paul Jakovlevich had died. Age played a part but so did loss. He had lost his place in society, his wife and child - keeping his titles and lands was no real compensation.

His last letter to her was strange. Great care had been taken to set out the terms of her inheritance and to confirm that her family lands in Lombardy had been regained. But he also berated her for abandoning him when he really needed her.

As she sat back she wondered if she had really done him a kindness that day in Cassano. Why had a young, tired, dusty cavalry officer stolen her heart by asking so politely for a horse? She knew the role he was meant to play, why he came to that particular farm. But no one planned on falling in love – especially in such a trite way … at first sight.

But if she had really loved him, perhaps she should have ridden away that morning. Leave him to the random winds of fate … he would have found another, he would have had his own life. Was she really so selfish as to have offered him so much only to deny him at the last?

And if so what could she do to make amends?

[1] If anyone is interested in life in Siberia for those exiled in the Tsarist era, suggest reading The House of the Dead. Not least, as with the British in respect of Australia, while exile was used as a form of punishment, it was also designed as a policy to settle a new country. For many, once the actual sentence had been served (or reduced by periodic pardons), they were expected to settle down and help 'Russify' the new land.

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Mon Jan 30, 2017 4:34 pm

Loki, this just gets better and better.

Thanks again for the gift of this AAR.

Regards,

Vaalen

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Tue Jan 31, 2017 4:48 pm

vaalen wrote:Loki, this just gets better and better.

Thanks again for the gift of this AAR.

Regards,

Vaalen


two more posts then into the game proper ... war, trade, colonialism, international intrigue - all the fun to be had from PoN :D

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Two deaths and one birth

Tue Jan 31, 2017 4:57 pm

17 September 1832

Well that had not taken long. The curiosity of an isolated community is never to be under-estimated. Strangers and newcomers are welcomed – but they are also scrutinised. That a man arrives in Siberia with elegant leather boots produces comment – and the more decisive see him as an easy source of money. What else does he lack? What else might be need to survive the winter?

Well Gabriella had ended their dreams of riches. Unfortunate really, she liked her fellow citizens and saw little wrong in their small acts of avarice. Even worse, no one would be able to sell his fine boots to the next unprepared arrival.

Her own suspicions had been raised when he seemed too eager, too keen to force matters. That did not fit with the slow routines of life here – where after all were any of them going to go before next summer?

So when she went for a walk beyond the edge of the settlement she went well prepared. Sure enough he soon appeared, as if by accident, asking her advice on this or that. It did not take long to walk far enough that they were surrounded by the wilds of Siberia.

Sure enough he resorted quickly to threats. Not just to her but to her beloved grand-daughter. Well that settled his fate even before he resorted to violence.

Afterwards she threw the damaged remains into a marsh. Sudden explosions could be ignored in Moscow in 1813, but tended to attract attention in Siberia. This one she decided to risk leaving as it was. However, for her own security, before the body was dispatched, she took out her mirror [1].

Well not really a mirror but all who saw it assumed it was a small vanity for a still handsome old woman. In this case a record might help deter any other attempts on her family.


Postscript - August 1836

Four years later the small village had a second quick death of a recent arrival to gossip over. No-one knew for sure that the first was dead but he had left the village wearing those fine boots. Well in a few weeks the cold would have killed him, if he survived that long. Some hunters had looked for him … well for the boots, for they were truly valuable.

Over time he gained a minor part in local folklore. In the end he was to kill all their descendants [2].

This one was different. Found dead outside the Bashutsky household even as the family hastily packed to catch the last boat of the year. Soon the river to Lake Baikal would freeze and then they would not reach Irkutsk before next summer.

However, even the demands of timetables have to wait for childbirth. Pyotr's second daughter, Olga, had just been born and the boat was delayed for 2 days.

His pardon had arrived by the same boat. He was fully free to return to Russia. The family still had friends at court. Also their extensive lands in western Ukraine and restive Poland needed to be managed. There was enough unrest without major estates falling into neglect.

As they hastened onto the boat, Gabriella was worried. The woman's death seemed wrong for her body bore no signs of violence, she had seemed perfectly fit the day before. The wrong person at the wrong place at the wrong time. Well there was little she could do now. But she feared her inattention to a small detail would have long term consequences.

[1] Her 'mirror' will re-appear several times
[2] As a hint … 1908

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London 1850

Tue Jan 31, 2017 4:58 pm

London 1850

It is said that becoming an Empress changes a woman. Well Victoria had some time before her new duties changed her. It is said we … the guardians [1]… can be cruel, I think I was kind to her. She had 3 days [2], before I visited her. After that, yes she was changed … one could say a new woman, an Empress indeed.

It is an unfortunate consequence of living in this world. Our lives become limited and we are left with four choices. Simply dying of old age holds no attractions. Taking a body before the personality is formed is the easiest … but of course one must live with the consequences. Taking a body when it is fully occupied is a little bit … brutal. But effective. Well she would never have been happy as Queen.

The ill effects could be passed off as a delayed reaction to the dramas of recent days. Disposing of my old body was a little bit more difficult. Still Scotland has many wild empty places [3].

Maybe I make a mistake in writing so openly, but I am safe from the technology of this world. Writing on a mirror is ephemeral, they cannot trace where the words are stored.

So why make my move in 1838? My sister told me she had visited Paul Jakovlevich just before his untimely … actually it was very well timed … death in 1832. Then my sister had disappeared in Siberia and I knew that the Bashutsky's had returned to Moscow by 1838. I had to assume she had failed.

We were both aware that Gabriella had destroyed one of the helpers in 1813, the other had been lost in Siberia. Perhaps an accident? Probably not.

It was clear that Gabriella had sabotaged the formal mission, but she had never known what the true goal was. That was never written down … not even on a mirror. But we had always had a second plan. If we could not manipulate a state from within then we could place it under pressure from without.

Now I have to assume I am alone. My sister and our helpers have disappeared – I assume all are dead or destroyed. The other sent to aid Gabriella in our public mission vanished long ago. He was last seen in Vienna in 1816 helping Paul Jakovlevich establish himself within Russian society. Since he had no further formal role in the experiment I assume he stayed in Vienna.


[1] I'll use the next post to explore this in a bit more detail, but my model is that each test involves six individuals. Two are sent to ensure the planned changes happen, two are sent to guard and protect them (or intervene if they are likely to fail). These are assisted by two robots (ie helpers).
[2] Her coronation was on 28 June 1838
[3] Am playing a bit with the timeline here – she first visited in 1842 and did not acquire Balmoral till 1852 - as an aside an estate formed by land grabbed during the Highland Clearances.

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An intervention is planned

Mon Feb 06, 2017 12:31 pm

Trying to solve a problem

The tall man was already displeased. Even as he entered the room and created a chair to sit on, he had realised that only five people were present.

The sixth, he assumed, was late. A man given to great care in everything, he was easily annoyed by the poor attention to detail of so many of the younger staff. Especially, now when everything hung on small issues.

Even as he prepared himself, a young woman bustled in.

'Domine, I am sorry, the meeting went on and then I tried to get him to tell me more”

“Well, be careful … at this rate you will be late for your own funeral. But tell me, what you found, it must be of value to have kept me waiting?”

“Domine … well he thinks it is still a secret, that no-one suspects this is anything but an experiment gone wrong. But … well … he seemed to be prepared to say more then went quiet”.

“So not really worth making me wait … well I am sure you meant well”

Turning to the others, he laid out documents and images on the table in front of him.

“So what do we know? Well there is a problem that someone has destroyed most of the records. But we can assume the usual team of six was sent [1].

We know that Gabriella has killed the two helpers?”

Here he turned to the young woman who nods in agreement.

“We do not know where the other three human members of the team are. By now they are either very old or have changed form.

We have to assume that this is not just a normal test but till we know more it is hard to intervene. I would like four volunteers to go into this world”.

At this he looked around the room, only one hand, tentatively, was raised.

“I see you are keen to serve our order. Well let me dampen your enthusiasm even more.

You know that once a world is set in motion we are limited in what we can do. We can send humans but not machines. In theory it is possible for us to return. If not you will have to face the challenge of ageing.”

Looking up he saw surprise on most faces.

“Yes you will age, and die of age if you go to another world … do they teach you nothing in training? Anyway, there are solutions. Find one of the safe places we installed and you can repair yourself – you may also find weapons that we can no longer transport. Or take the body of a human. Easiest done when they are just born – but of course you then have to live as a child for many years and will only slowly recover your original memories.

Or … and be warned this is not easy. Take the body of an adult. But you will inherit their memories, some of their personality and the pain they felt as you crushed out their life.

You may want to avoid doing that too often – our records show that done too often you cease to be yourself”.

Looking around, surprise had been replaced by a horror on the faces in the room.

“Come, you know all this … Now who is willing?”

This time two hands are slowly raised, and, as he stares around the room, the younger woman nods in agreement.

“You, no, I need you here, we have to tackle this challenge at both ends.

You two … yes, that is probably enough. Prepare yourselves to be ready soon. This world will enter a period of unrest [2] – always a good time for strangers to appear”

“Do we go together?”

“No, look at this material, we know too little to be sure what he plans. So you will need to go to different regions until we are sure. We know the focus is Russia but we do not know if the goal is something that happens within Russia, or something that Russia does to the wider world”.

“Who can we trust?”

“Well we only know where one of the original team are now. I would be cautious with Gabriella. She clearly no longer trusts anyone from our world … and she must either die or change very soon, so we may lose track of her. The other three – if they live – are probably best treated as hostile.

As I said the records are poor, but we do know where one safe base is located. I believe the local legends keep away the unwary [3] … but of course there are other protections in place”.

Image

Image


[1] Two to oversee the planned change, two to protect them plus two helpers

[2] ie the revolutions of 1848-9

[3] Lago di Pilato in the central Appenines was reputed to be the burial place of Pontius Pilate. As such it became very popular with would-be witches and warlocks in the Middle Ages till the Church walled up the entrance to the valley. In our modern age such legends are no longer believed – but having climbed there it is still a spooky place … a bit like Glencoe.

[4] And as a reassurance that there will be lots of PoN in this … game settings. From experience I find the harder setting seems to give the AI a better handle on its economy. If the game slows down in later years I may remove the 'more time' option .., but best left on if I can.

Image

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Moscow: March 1850 - a tale of family troubles

Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:26 pm

Moscow March 1850

I hate my sister.

There ... I have written it down, I hate my 13 year old sister [1]. There that must make me the worst woman in Moscow. I mean who else hates their younger sister. I am almost 18, probably almost engaged ... well maybe ... and my sister irritates me more than anything else in this world.

I don't care if she flirts with my maybe-fiancé (is that a word?), but she knows I have always been Grandmother's favourite. So why does she follow her around the house whenever she visits. I have not had a private talk with her for weeks.

Not that Grandmother is helping. Father has banned her from his study. Every time she visited she would go in there – 'to see where her beloved Pyotr died'. Well, it maybe harsh but he has been dead for 18 years – hah, I must be a bad person. So why now is Grandmother obsessed with where he died?

And Boris. What can I say? He tells me I am too young to be engaged, especially as he has been ordered to the Caucasus. He struts in his uniform as if already riding across the Southern Steppes.

Image

Boasts of his mission to serve the Tsar, rescue the East for the Orthodox church, undo this or that battle that happened 900 years ago. Apparently it is the mission of the Slavs to restore the Empire of the Greeks – oh I find myself not really listening.

So now I have to wait, till my conquering hero returns from his wars. Half fiancée, half unattached young woman. Believe me, in Moscow society this causes no end of trouble – who is allowed to dance with me, who can ask me to walk outside, who can come to visit – all 'difficult', at least according to my mother.

And it is worse. I know he is vain, I think he is also boasting to make his mission to the south seem important. According to the newspapers there is no war, just a decision to send some petty criminals to populate the region. Thus it will be secured for Orthodoxy – well more likely it will be a den of thieves.

Image

Boris is trying to hide the true nature of his mission. He will spend the rest of his life guarding an empty steppe – if so I do not want to be his bride. Now I have written that, I have to admit – I am a very bad person.

And now I hear my sister calling for me ….


[1] As in: this post

[2] Gameplay comments – fast turn processing, far easier to manage the Russian economy at start than Sardinia-Piedmont, just some small shifts to optimise production of state capital.

[3] Edit - have replaced the hard to see images, had forgotten some quirks of this forum

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A Rough Wooing

Thu Feb 16, 2017 1:08 pm

A Rough Wooing [1]

Russia in 1850 was confused – as it had been for almost 150 years. Was it a bastion of tradition, with a mission to spread itself east and south? If it was to face towards the West, then the question was to what end? To learn, modernise, emulate – to run the risk perhaps of ceasing to be Russia or to ensure that the settlement of Vienna was maintained?

These questions divided Russia. Those who saw St Petersburg as the heart of the Tsar's realms tended to emphasise a western policy – even if they disagreed as to what this might be. Those who believed that Moscow embodied all that was traditional and good about Russia tended to emphasise staying aloof from the West – Russia's destiny was into the uninhabited lands to the East.

Tsar Nicholas embodied these contradictions. Born into the wars that followed the French Revolution and coming to the throne to the sound of musketry in his capital made him a cautious, reactionary ruler.

Image

However, he was a child of St Petersburg. Born there long after the capital had moved to this strange, invented, city. So the West was his natural focus and he was happy to be seen as the protector of the Europe forged at Vienna. He visited Moscow only when he had no choice. To go further east was beyond his reasoning – the only ones who went further east were exiles or peasants trading serfdom for the dubious promises of a new life.

Image

On one thing did they all agree for it fitted with the desire both to engage in the West and to maintain Russia's uniqueness. The South mattered.

It was not that long since the Turkic tribes had threatened Moscow, in the wars of the eighteenth century the Prussians had made an alliance with the Crimean Tartars to attack Russia from the south. So the South was a threat.

By the early nineteenth century Russia had finally asserted its control over the northern shore of the Black Sea and the ancient Christian kingdoms of the Caucasus.

But her rule was weak. In the northern Caucasus, loyalty to the Tsar was increased by the simple application of the Cossack's knout.

Image

Even the supposedly grateful Armenians were restive. Well how better to bring peace than by war?

Image

So the south was something all could agree. Those who wished to expand Orthodoxy could dream of Constantinople and restoring the old Greek Empire. Those who wished to challenge the West saw the chance to stall British and French claims. Those who wanted to go East could see the need to secure the region, before taking the step into Central Asia. For some, especially those with very small maps, the end point was India as much as Siberia.

So the South was an opportunity.

And if the Ottomans proved to be strangely resistant to Russia's designs, well Persia offered much too. Another route to India? To a Russian fleet sailing on the warm waters of the Southern Seas?

But if the south was obvious to Russia's rulers, it was obvious to its enemies. They too were watching for signs of Russia committing itself to the West, the East or the South. And they believed they had already seen the clues.


[1] Title is taken from the name given to English policy towards Scotland in the middle Sixteenth Century. The goal was to convince Mary Queen of Scots to agree to a Union via a combination of bribery and violence. As we will see it is a good fit to Russian policy in the Middle East.

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Fri Feb 17, 2017 7:41 pm

Ah, this is getting even better with the integration of the PON screenshots and interface.

This is so far my favorite AAR of all time, and I continue to check every day.

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