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loki100
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Heading for a clear bright sun

Wed Dec 28, 2016 8:18 pm

Table of Contents

Part 1: 1850-56. A Plot is set in place

Preliminaries

A Troubled Meeting
An unsure conversation
New Years Day ... part i
New Years Day ... part ii

A partial explanation as to what is going on

Death in Moscow
Love in Italy
Betrayal in St Petersburg
Death in Siberia

War in the Caucasus







[1] The title is adapted from the classic folk song: Katyusha (for reasons that will become clear)
Last edited by loki100 on Fri Jan 20, 2017 7:10 pm, edited 8 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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loki100
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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. In WW2, the Soviet rocket artillery was so secret when it was deployed it had no designation apart from the letter 'K'. Soviet troops nicknamed them Katyushas as this was the title of a popular folk song in the Red Army about a soldier writing to his lover. The tune was re-used by various West European partisan movements during the war, perhaps best known as the Italian song 'Fiscia il Vento'.
[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.

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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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