Time keeping by Nomography

Sunday, January 31, 2016 0 comments

Let the Sun shine in!

Last time I presented a link to the fascinating world of graphical calculations known as Nomography.

Now in Steampunk there is an emphasis on the mechanical. Time keeping being probably the greatest illustration of this. From tiny mechanical watches to massive clockwork calculating machines the imagery of gears and clocks are everywhere. But there are older ways of measuring time, using the motion of the Earth and the apparent motion of the Sun and other heavenly bodies with sundials and sextants, astrolabes etc.

This paper has some exotic patterns and calculations for devices that would make wonderful additions to our gadgets: 

Regiomontanus, Apian and Capuchin Sundials by Fer J. de Vries, Mac Oglesby,William S. Maddux and Warren Thom

So how would using this old "primitive" technology be used in Steampunk?

Perhaps hidden in our Mad Scientist's notebooks, or printed on our clothing, buried in the shapes on our gadgets, or or on the covers of our children's beds.  The mathematics used in creating these designs and the decorative possibilities of the shapes and patterns, while actually being usable to tell time, would make for some interesting hidden "conceits" don't you think?

Here is an actual card sundial from 1533.
Yes this is "primitive" in the sense that it is not mechanically complex but there is an elegance of form to the curves and shapes.

Elegant AND functional, scientific and technical, the Steampunk aesthetic on display indeed.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed, and your water iced.

Role Play Serial Story from the Messdeck Part VII

Saturday, January 2, 2016 0 comments


Here is the next part of the serialized tale from our role play group "The Messdeck".

You can start from the beginning here.
 Previously Max and his crew aboard the aged HMAS Doris have arrived at Davaar, the manor of Doctor Christine Pearse, the Duchess of Argylle. They are on their way to the remote Naval Airship base at Scapa Flow. Christine was the the medical officer aboard their previous ship, the experimental HMAS Velvet Brush. The journey north in the dead of Winter has been exceedingly cold and Max and his crew are enjoying the cozy hospitality of their shipmate.

The evening has been progressing with much laughter and good cheer.

All is not as quiet as it appears however...
Frozen Sky
A serial story from The Messdeck.
Part VII
Collected and edited by Kevin Jepson 
What follows is a slightly edited transcript of the role playing we did for our visit to the Manor at Davaar.
Max and his crew are relaxing in the spacious parlor of the manor. The good food, good companionship, and excellent hospitality of the good Doctor has been a welcome respite from the cold of their journey North.

Christine laughs. "Well, I suppose this new rule of "ankling" in parasol duels might bring about some prettier shoes, boots and stockings."

Sgt Fraser is now going a bit red faced. "Hmmm... maybe I need something more then tea..." he says and pulls out a flask.

Miss BB suddenly pauses in her attempt to add some shortbread cookies to the stack of food in her bag. "Do you hear that? Scratching sound? Do you? Huh?"

Max takes another drink of tea "No Lieutenant, I don't hear anything but my ears ain't anything like yours!"

Everyone stops talking and starts to listen intently. Miss BB, as the communications officer, has an acute sense of hearing so everybody takes her seriously.

"Turn on the listening device. Turn it on, on, on." says Miss BB reaching past the food into her bag and pulling out a large hardbound book.

In the silence, Iveta closes her eyes to better get a reading on the sound, turning her head slightly. "You said the rats were effectively gone, Doctor. But something is scratching. Something smaller than a rat."

Christine nods. "Yes, there haven't been any sign of the rats since we left. This must be something else. It has to be new as well, it's been as quiet as a tomb until now."

*Cooke and Fraser stop eating and listen.*

Sgt Fraser puts down his flask. "Cooke, get your gear going lad."

Cooke grabs his bag. "Aye aye Sarge."

Miss BB looks at Cooke and says, "Is it on? Do you hear? I can hear."

Cooke looks up. "I don't hear anything Ma'am, I'll know more in a minute."

Miss BB having pulled her book and a pillowcase out of her bag, scattering cookies across the rug in the process, says, "I'm going out there. Cover me."

Sgt Fraser stands and looks across at Max who standing as well says, "Carry on Sergeant go and check it out!"

Miss BB already at the door to the hallway turns and says, "Come on you sissies. Don't make me go out alone?"

Sgt Fraser half smiling says, "Aye Aye Ma'am!" and draws his side arm and heads into the hallway.

Cooke takes out a gauntlet that contains his short range signalling gear and starts to power it on.

Watkins and Simpson, watching the Marines and Miss BB, look over at Max. "What's all this Sir?"

Max says, "Seems somebody is checking up on us, best get up on the ship and make sure nothing is untoward. Keep yer eyes and ears open."

"Aye aye Sir" and they follow the big marine and Miss BB into the hallway.

Max turns to Christine. "I hope we haven't brought along more trouble to your home Ma'am. It does seem to follow us though."

"As long as it's not that wolf creature Commander, I'm sure we'll be fine." Christine rings for Mr. Gears and when he appears whispers to him directions regarding the children. He disappears, heading to the schoolroom.

Miss BB standing just outside the hallway door mumbles, "Rats, smaller than rats. scratchy things."

Looking around, Iveta spots a few flying insects, and points. "Have you seen these before? I'm sure not many insects are comfortable in this climate?"

Christine says, "It's not the right time of year for flies or moths."

Miss BB thumps her book against the wall. "Ha! Got one."

Cooke looks to where Iveta is pointing. "Bugs!? Not again!"

Miss BB picks up something from the floor and brings it to the corporal. "What do you make of this Mr. Cooke?"

"Looks like some kind of little automaton."

Sgt Fraser calls out form the hall, "All clear here sir! Going to take a peek outside."

Max trying to spot the little machines says, "Might be like them spiders in the ship while we were in Africa. Blasted spies!"

In the hovering cloaked airship, a technician mumbles, "One down, sir. They've rumbled us."

Cooke looks at the smashed bug, then sweeps his gauntlet over it. "Similar, but... different..."

"Is it dead? Did I kill it?" asks Miss BB.

"What do you make of it Corporal any signals?"

*Christine moves over to the draperies and gives them a good shake.*

Cooke picks up what's left of the little machine. "It's dead, I need to get my gear from the ship, this gauntlet is only good for a few feet."

*Miss BB takes aim at another bug, being careful not to kill it she bangs the wall with a thump and quickly grabs the bug and stuffs it in her pillowcase.*

Miss BB says "Don't go out there alone. The bugs will get you. They will go into your ears. I just know it. Cover your ears!"

Miss BB says to herself, "When he comes back we should check his ears. Then, if he is OK we should see if we can track the signals back from this not dead one."

*Outside in the courtyard Cpl Cooke scrambles aboard the Doris and grabs his backpack while Sgt Fraser goes to the trunk they had unloaded before and unlocks it, grabbing a pair of rifles.*

Miss BB looks out the window and sees the guns. "I wonder if they brought the ray gun. Maybe they will let me shoot it this time."

When Watkins and Simpson get near the ship Fraser calls out, "Over here lads!" He holds up a rifle. "Best to arm yourselves."

Watkins snickers, "That's a bit big for these critters don't ya think Sarge?"

Sgt Fraser smiles. "It's not the bugs I'm worried about, it's the ones controlling them."

About Gears, Goggles, and Steam oh My!

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