17 May 1906 - Berlin Zeitung
The capital was rocked today by news of the loss of the Oldenberg, a fast cruiser class airship in the Luftskriegsmarine. The Oldenberg and a second fast cruiser, the Mainz, had been dispatched to study the unusual phenomena that have been reported near Phoenix Island. Both vessels cautiously approached the island, taking measurements and photographs as they travelled. The island, however, remained largely hidden from view behind a curtain of oddly-luminescent fog. After spending a day conducting a cautious survey, the captains of the two ships conferred, and resolved that one airship should attempt to approach, and ideally to overfly, the island.
The Oldenberg approached Phoenix Island cautiously. The two ships remained in contact via vox crystal as the Oldenberg began its approach. Ten minutes into its cautious approach to the island, however, the vox crystal apparatus on the Mainz lost its coherent connection, and communication became impossible. Reports indicate that the Oldenberg attempted to press on regardless. Approximately five minutes later, the Oldenberg was destroyed by an unknown natural phenomenon. Observers on the Mainz report seeing some sort of energetic discharge from the smoke and fog around the new island, followed immediately by the explosion of the Oldenberg. The Oldenberg was only lightly armed, and her store of munitions would not have sufficed to cause such massive destruction. An explosion of her Hotaether boiler system is similarly unlikely to have produced such an explosion. Scientists from the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität have theorized that a sufficiently powerful ambient electric field may have flash-heated elements of the airships metal framing, causing them to shatter and explode. They note, however, that such an occurrence would have required an electrical field of staggering intensity, and far greater than any heretofore observed terrestrially. All air and naval shipping is being routed around New Phoenix Island.
13 May 1905 - Mata Hari debuts in Paris
Exotic dancer Mata Hari wows audiences with her performance at the Musée Guimet in Paris, France. Mata Hari is reputed to be a Java princess of priestly Hindu birth from the Dutch East Indies, and to have been immersed in the art of sacred Indian dance since childhood. Her scandalous performance of erotic dance at the Musée Guimet is the talk of Paris. There are rumors she is romantically involved with famous French industrialist and world traveler Émile Étienne Guimet. Mssr. Guimet has been a leading proponent of the effort to exploit France’s arcane natural resources to feed his nation’s hotaether manufacturing industry, despite the protests of some prominent fraternal organizations of Arcanists.
8 May 1896 - The Philadelphia Inquirer
Murderer Herman Webster Mudgett, aka Dr. H. H. Holmes, aka The Archfiend, aka The Mad Alchemist, was hanged yesterday morning at the Moyamensing Prison for the killing of Benjamin F. Pietzel. After his conviction, Holmes confessed to the killing of twenty-seven men and women, though the authorities suspect he may have killed as many as two-hundred persons, many of whom met their end in his “Murder Castle” in Chicago during the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. According to investigators, some of the victims were locked in soundproof bedrooms fitted with gas lines that let the Archfiend asphyxiate them at any time. Other victims were locked in a huge soundproof bank vault near his office, where they were left to suffocate. The victims' bodies were dropped by secret chute to the basement, where some were meticulously dissected, stripped of flesh, crafted into skeleton models, and then sold to medical schools. There is also evidence that Holmes used some of his victims as experimental subjects, forcing elixirs of his own concocting on them, recording the gruesome results in journals not released to the public, but divulged to this paper by anonymous persons associated with the investigation. Holmes appears to have used himself as an experimental subject as well, as witnesses to the hanging report that after the trap was sprung, Holmes twitched and struggled for more than an hour before being cut down and taken away, where it is suspected more drastic means were employed to end the villain’s life.
2 May 1906 - The London Times
Officials speaking on behalf of the Royal Navy today had the grim duty of informing the public about a naval tragedy. The HMS Phoenix, a sloop on loan to the Royal Geographical Society, was reported lost off the coast of Iceland around noon on April the 24th. The vessel had been approaching the new Island which has appeared off the coast of Iceland. Reports from locals suggest that the ship must have suffered some sort of mechanical failure, as the Persistence was observed to explode in a manner consistent with a catastrophic engine failure as she approached the island. Authorities within the Admiralty have speculated that the stress of making a speedy run to Iceland may have been more than the frigate’s engine could handle, although Sir William White has vigorously rejected this hypothesis, and suggested instead that the ship may have run aground on some unexpectedly jagged spur of rock, and suffered a ruptured boiler as a result.
In light of the loss of the Phoenix, her crew, and three scientists who had been travelling on her, the Geographic Society has proposed that the new Island be christened New Phoenix Island.
26 April 1906 - The London Times
Strange occurrences were reported today near the island of Iceland. A new island may be rising from the sea to the southeast of Iceland. Reports from Reykjavik suggest that fishermen have been complaining of odd currents and failures in electrical devices or navigational instruments. Villages all along the coast have reportedly seen plumes of thick black smoke rising from the sea some ten to fifteen nautical miles off the coast. The smoke is reported to be interacting strangely with the Aurora Borealis, and to appear to shimmer and shift in color as it is observed. The noted volcanologist Thaddeus R. McElroy, of the Royal Geological Society, observed that such events have been observed before, and added that the relative quiet associated with the eruptions was likely a good sign, as it indicated that more violent volcanic activity in the region was quite unlikely.
17 April 1906 - Icelandic Weekly Ísafold Reports Strange Events at Sea
Several fishermen from the village of Sveitarfelagio report odd events at sea. The captains of a number of small fishing vessels report odd currents and smells in their usual fishing grounds southeast of the island. One larger vessel, the trawler Skopti, reports difficulty with both its engines and its compass, but returned safely to port.
11 April 1906 - Commander Peary’s New Vessel
The airship which has been especially built for Commander Peary’s Arctic expedition was launched on the seventh of April. Mr. Peary appropriately named her Roosevelt, in acknowledgment of the great interest taken by the President in polar work.
The vessel is described as a “a modified ZR-1 rigid frame airship of hotaether propulsion, with auxiliary diesel power.” Her principal dimensions are: Length over all, 182 feet; beam, 46.5 feet; height 52.5 feet, and max useful load of twenty tons. Her model is similar to other modern-built freight airships, but modified for longer range and cold-weather durability. Her hotaether boiler will develop 1,000 to 1,500 horsepower and her two Wright D3M diesel engines generate 250 horsepower each. Her cost when ready will be $100,000. The funds for the vessel’s construction were supplied by the Peary Arctic Club of New York. The expedition to explore the geographic North Pole is expected to depart in June.
4 December 1840 - British forces occupy Constantinople
Following the successful Anglo-Austrian intervention in the Egyptian-Ottoman War, Field Marshal Sir Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, negotiated a peace which left Egypt to Muhammed Ali and his heirs in perpetuity in exchange for withdrawing from Syria and Lebanon. The Sultan balked at losing the rich province of Egypt and refused to ratify the agreement. After negotiations with the Porte broke down, Wellesley acted without orders and marched on the undefended Ottoman capital at Constantinople and occupied it, making the young Sultan his “guest.”
November 1905 - American Explorers Missing in Turkestan
An expedition funded by the Carnegie Institution and led by noted explorer Mr Raphael Pumpelly has disappeared while searching for the “birthplace of civilization” somewhere in the wildnerness northwest of Samarkand. Mr Pumpelly was accompanied by Prof. William M. Davis, of Harvard University, and Mr Ellsworth Huntington. In early September, the expedition sent Mr. Huntington and a detachment of Turkmen to the city of Khiva for resupply, Mr. Pumpelly having claimed to have found the ancient city of Paikent. Upon his return to the site of the main encampment, Mr Huntington reports finding no sign of either the encampment or the ruined city they were beginning to excavate. The Carnegie Institution is said to be weighing a return expedition under the leadership of Mr Huntington.
20 October 1890 - Death of Cpt. Sir Richard Francis Burton
This October marks the fifteenth year since the death of Captain Sir Richard F. Burton, famous explorer and Orientalist. In the years since his death, public interest in the great man’s life has not waned, with yet another biography expected to be published next year in London. This new biography, though not yet published, has already generated a great deal of controversy, in that the author claims to possess secret journals of Sir Richard which survived the great literary satī perpetrated by Burton’s widow, Isabel Arundel, shortly after his death. The author, Mr. Thomas Wright, has publicly claimed that Sir Richard Burton was secretly a powerful lucid dreamer in the Sufic tradition and a dabbler in arcanism to boot. Mr. Wright also claims to have evidence that Cpt. Burton served as a spy for Her Majesty’s government for nearly the entirety of his military and diplomatic career. Advance subscriptions for the upcoming book are said to already number in the thousands, so Mr. Wright stands to profit handsomely, whatever the truth or falsehood of his allegations.
16 October 1893 - The Dragon of Messel discovered.
On this day in 1893, workers mining “imbued” coal, used in producing the highest-quality hotaether, at a Locus site near Darmstadt, Germany, discovered a remarkable fossil embedded in layers of bituminous shale. The bones uncovered revealed a hexapodal creature estimated at some thirty feet in length and possessing an extremely unusual morphology. The skull, in particular, has a truly frightening aspect, seeming more suited to to an insect than a mammal or reptile, but the creature has no apparent exoskeleton. Within twenty-four hours of the fossil’s discovery, local police cordoned off the area and agents claiming to represent the Kaiser’s government were rounding up witnesses. The only publicly available record of the beast now extant is a drawing made by one Gerhard Ganz, an engineering student from nearby Darmstadt Polytechnic, who happened by the site before the police cordon. Dismayed by the cover-up of the discovery, Mr. Ganz distributed copies of his sketch to a number of newspapers. After a campaign of harassment carried out by the authorities, Mr. Ganz left Germany and is now rumoured to be living in the Netherlands.
7 October 1904 - Death of Isabella Bird.
It is hard to believe that it has already been one year since the death of the great explorer, writer, and natural historian Isabella Bird. Miss Bird traveled all over the world, visiting Australia, the Sandwich Islands, the Shogunate of Nippon, the Manchu Empire, India, and the wild Great Plains of North America. She wrote prolifically about her travels, becoming a household name in the English-speaking world. "There never was anybody," wrote the Spectator, "who had adventures as well as Miss Bird." She died in Edinburgh last year at the age of seventy-four, while preparing for another trip to the Manchu Empire.
2 October 1905 - HMS Dreadnought, 18,000 tons, is planned to be the largest and heaviest Man-of-War afloat.
The Royal Navy has begun construction of the largest, heaviest, most powerful and most costly battleship ever built, and intend to have the pennant flying from her mast within sixteen months after the date on which the first keel plates are laid down in Portsmouth. This invincible and invulnerable war vessel is is to be named Dreadnought, and the Admiralty has designed her to be capable of equalling her name. She will mount more heavy guns than any two battleships now afloat; will be able to withstand an attack from a submarine, and will be able to repel attacks from the newest generation of attack airships. In addition to these enviable virtues, the Dreadnought will also have great speed, and, if she wants to “turn tail” her hotaether-driven turbine engines, developing a speed of 30 knots an hour, will enable her to outdistance any too pressing foe. Even if overtaken, the very thick armour plating will enable her to stand unusual punishment. Much mystery remains regarding the specifics of her capabilities, but it is rumoured that her design was informed by reports from observers of the annihilation of the Russian fleet by forces of the Empire of Aztlan in the Tsushima Straits earlier this year.
13 September 1847 - First Atmospheric Railway Opens
The South Devon Railway starts passenger service on a special track designed by famed British railway engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The system is operated by a number of fixed hotaether-powered pumping stations that create vacuum in a pipe laid in the center of the track so that atmospheric pressure propels the train. This atmospheric system formed the basis for nearly all later British rail systems.
6 September 1803 - Hotaether discovered
It was on this day that the first scientific description of the gaseous substance now commonly known as Hotaether was written in a laboratory notebook by famed British chymist John Dalton during the course of his research on energetic gases. The properties of this gas were so strange and unlike the other gases Dalton was studying that he did not publish his work on Hotaether for another five years, fearing the opprobrium of his scientific peers.
August 26 - Occult Groups Battle at Stonehenge
It is reported that fighting broke out last night between the well-known English neo-druidic group called “Ancient Order of Druids” and their splinter group, the “United Ancient Order of Druids.” Though the schism between these two groups occurred in 1833, there have previously never been outright hostilities between the two orders. The Ancient Order of Druids has been performing rituals at the Stonehenge site for some years but witnesses report that last night a large group belonging to the United Ancient Order of Druids appeared and demanded access to the ritual site. Details of the negotiation are unknown, but a scuffle started and quickly escalated to a full-scale battle making use of the arcane arts of the Magoi. It has long been suspected by the public that both orders of neo-druids have full-fledged arcanists in their ranks, but confirmation was elusive until last night. Neither lodge has come forward to make a statement at this time. The Wiltshire County constabulary are said to be investigating the incident. The number of casualties from the fighting is unknown, as each group departed with their wounded and dead and none have appeared at the Salisbury Infirmary. The MP for Salisbury, Sir Walter Palmer, has publicly announced his support for the Arcanist Registration Act in the wake of this violence.
8 August 1804 - Introduction of Physicane
On this day in the year 1804 Mr. J. R. Saffell introduced to the general public a tincture he dubbed “Physicane." This alchemical concoction was a refinement of Dr. Ebenezer Sibly’s earlier “Reanimating Solar Tincture.” Physicane was immediately noted for having more consistent healing results than its predecessor, which was as likely to harm the patient as heal them. The formula was quickly reverse-engineered by a number of unscrupulous chymists and Mr. Saffell died in penury in 1838.
31 July 1843 - Founding of the Choronzon Club in London
The Choronzon Club, located in the West End, was the first London gentlemen’s club whose membership was restricted to inoculated arcanists. That the only public outrage regarding the opening of the club centered on its practice of accepting members of both genders demonstrated society’s increasing tolerance, if not outright acceptance, of arcane practitioners.
26 July 1875 - Birth of noted lucid dreamer Carl Jung
Though only thirty years of age, the Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung gained a great deal of notoriety within the academic community with the publishing of his dissertation on lucid dreaming phenomena in 1903. The spiritual, one might even say occult, approach taken by Jung diverges starkly from the more accepted clinical approach taken by Dr. Freud and earned Jung professional scorn but popular fame. Late in 1904, Jung founded a private training academy for lucid dreamers in Zurich.
17 July 1693 - Sir Isaac Newton creates Lucidose
During the summer of 1693 it became well-known that Isaac Newton had experienced some sort of mental breakdown, suffering from insomnia and debilitating paranoia. The posthumous publishing of Newton’s journals on alchemy and dreaming revealed the truth; that on this night in 1693 Newton distilled and imbibed a substance he believed was the Elixir of Immortality but was actually the substance now known as Lucidose. His abrupt entry into the realms of dream drove him temporarily mad, prompting a five day bout of wakefulness, so fearful was he of further lucid dreaming. Newton gradually recovered over the next several months as he learned to control the lucid dreaming state and began to explore the realms of dream in a more rational manner.
10 July 1856 - Birth of Nikola Tesla
Today is the fifty-fourth birthday of the noted Serbian inventor, now an American citizen. After parting ways with investor J.P. Morgan in 1901, the inventor has acquired a new patron whose identity has thus far remained a mystery. Though visitors are not welcome, neighbors report that Mr. Tesla’s compound on Long Island continues to expand with construction of new buildings and strange tall towers. Reports of odd lights and sounds emanating from the property have become so commonplace that the local authorities have ceased to respond to them.
1st Edition Rulebook