Blackwood Gazette # 148- Pernicious Platitude Shot Down Over Pharassus

By Chester Seaton, News

29/6-After what we can only assume has been weeks of terrorizing the skies of Sarnwain, we’ve received reports that the Pernicious Platitude, the ship belonging to air pirate Roderick Beauchamp La Pierre, has been shot down.

According to Sarnwainian news outlets, the Platitude was sighted in the skies near the capital city of Pharassus in the early morning hours this Sarnsday. Pharesian ground forces mobilized immediately, and tracked the ship to a canyon where it set anchor within. The Pharesian army moved in several cannon to the edge of the canyon, where they were able to fire down on to the Platitude.

“I have to say, I’m surprised,” said Admiral Winston Johannes, commanding officer of Crowndon’s Air Corps. “Since Sarnwain lacks a major air presence, the idea of them being able to take down one of Crowndon’s best air warfare strategists seems unlikely. But I believe La Pierre, whose arrogance led to his defeat at the end of the war with Nor Easter, let that same arrogance blind him to what capabilities Sarnwain does have. He didn’t see the ground forces coming, because he wasn’t looking for them.”

After opening fire, and taking out the Platitude’s main balloon and two of its reserves, the ship was still able to limp away. The Pharesian infantry say they have tracked the downed ship to some ruins in the middle of the canyon.

“We are monitoring the situation,” said Pharesian General Malik Auduam in a press release. “We have a constant vigilance on the pirate. We think he’s making repairs, and his crew is sheltering in the ruins. Unfortunately, he is out of range from the canyon ridge. We are working on ways to get infantry down into the canyon, but that may take a few days. We also have two airships coming in from Thankaen, to the east. I have no doubt that we will accomplish what the Triumvirate, in all its incompetence, failed to do. Typical, no? They created this monster. We must kill it. All the more glory to Sarnwain.”

Admiral Johannes reply to that last part of the statement can best be described as terse.

“They’re welcome to it.”

Blackwood Gazette # 148- Pernicious Platitude Shot Down Over Pharassus

Blackwood Gazette #147- Empress Marcellete Bastian Orders Government Seizure of Rinkenbach R&D

By Ada Herschel, Science and Technology & Hunter O’ Leary, Business

25/6- In the wake of Sir Rigel Rinkenbach’s sudden flight during the Industry and Innovation Conference last week, the Empress Marcellete Bastian has issued orders for the search and seizure of Rinkenbach Research and Development.

The order of a private citizen’s business to be seized by the government has been met with some controversy, yet the Empress stresses that the measure is necessary.

“I do not like this at all,” Her Imperial Majesty said. “And were there any other option, I would take it. But the technologies that Rigel Rinkenbach was developing are of grave importance to the security of not only the Nor Eastern Empire, but the Triumvirate.

“Already we’ve heard reports of thieves and other shady types, how do you say, ‘casing the joint.’ If we don’t seize it, put it under lock and key and guard it, someone else will take it. And judging from the reports of my men who are currently on site cataloging their findings, you do NOT want that to happen.”

Rumors of what has been found are shocking to say the least. The items range from innocuous (plans for some sort of ‘electric toothbrush’) to the deadly (fifteen hundred different types of previously unknown poisons and twice as many devices to administer them) to the plain weird and esoteric (a box, full of wires and boards, with a glass front and metal poles sticking out of the top).

The most popular rumor, however, is that the Empress’ insistence on protecting Rinkenbach’s contraptions is merely a smoke screen, and that she is actually searching for something in particular.

“This is about Blackwood,” said conspiracy theorist Oculus in his weekly rag The Exhumanor, and for once, he may be on to something. “It’s always been about Blackwood. The Empress’ goons are rooting around that old compound looking for Rinky Dink’s formulae. Everyone knows it, but everyone’s afraid to say it: those who control Blackwood control the Triumvirate and, by extension, the world.”

Blackwood Gazette #147- Empress Marcellete Bastian Orders Government Seizure of Rinkenbach R&D

Blackwood Gazette # 146- Pixie Sinclaire Detained in New Crowndon; Taken to See Governor Ancroft

By Hil Spencer, Crowndonian Correspondent

24/6-Wanted as a war criminal in Crowndon, and revered as a war hero in Nor Easter, many were curious what fate would befall Pixie Sinclaire when she arrived in the colonies. The answer, it seems, is rather ambiguous.

When Sinclaire arrived in New Crowndon last night, she was met at the docks by an envoy consisting of New Crowndon militia and the personal guard of Governor Berclay Ancroft. Witnesses report that after a brief exchange, Miss Sinclaire was detained and led to the Governor’s mansion. It is reported that she was cooperative, and she did not appear to be under arrest.

Her current status is unknown, but it shouldn’t be assumed that she’s found her way into a cell; even though New Crowndon is owned by Crowndon, it is governed by its own laws and is overseen by the Triumvirate as a whole. Only a small portion of the city’s government have strong ties to the parent nation, and none of them have ever expressed a particularly strong opinion concerning the Dividing War between Crowndon and Nor Easter three years ago.

One possibility is that the Governor has a job for Sinclaire; given her background in espionage, Sinclaire would be a valuable tool in any number of current situations, such as quietly defusing the dispute between the colonies and territories, or uncovering the secrets of political rivals in light of the upcoming Imperial audits.

Blackwood Gazette # 146- Pixie Sinclaire Detained in New Crowndon; Taken to See Governor Ancroft

Blackwood Gazette #145- Scouting Parties From Territories Spotted Along Newland Frontier

By Hil Spencer, New Crowndon Correspondent

23/6- The tenuous peace between Imperial colonial interests and the Territories continues to be tested this week, as several scouting parties bearing the markings of the Duv-Ayid and Moc-Torgue tribes were spotted beyond the Plasty Meridian.

Sightings were sporadic for a week before one such party was spotted outside of Fort O’Connor, well into colonial lands.

“We sent out men to parley,” said the Fort’s commanding officer. “The riders did not flee, but they did not respond to questions, either. Eventually they turned around and left, but at their own pace.”

A similar incident happened farther south, outside of a small Ranger camp.

“It was disturbing, but they didn’t attack us,” said one Ranger. “Most disturbing thing though were their weapons. They were carrying repeaters. Gun trade with the territories is supposed to be controlled, yeah? Nothing but single shot muskets and matchlocks, for hunting. These guys, though, looked like they were ready to take on the whole fort. They had better weapons than most of us.”

Imperial authorities are at a loss as to how the Duv-Ayid and Moc-Torgue scouts came by such gear, as no shipments have been raided, and the weapons described do not match any known Triumvirate make or model. Suggestions that the weapons were provided by the Von Grimm gang have been dismissed as ludicrous. Despite the open display of the weapons, the Marshals and Rangers alike are stressing restraint.

“Any unprovoked hostile action against these scouts will be met with the harshest consequences,” said First Marshal General Job Stoll. “So far they have made no aggressive moves against colonial interests, other than to show up. And if you remember, we broke that treaty first. It’s my belief they’re just sending a message, for now. Please remain calm.”

Blackwood Gazette #145- Scouting Parties From Territories Spotted Along Newland Frontier

Blackwood Gazette #144-IIC Wrap-Up: Is Rinkenbach Rinken-Done For?

By Hunter O’Leary, Business

19/6– In the wake of his disastrous behavior in Greenlille and his less than stellar showing at this year’s Industry and Innovation Conference, the market has begun to question the continued validity of Rigel Rinkenbach’s claim to being the foremost innovator in the Imperial Triumvirate.

Rinkenbach R&D stocks plummeted after the reveal of the Clockwork Butler Mark IV, with many citing that the lack of anything cutting edge in the new model indicates that Rinkenbach is simply resting on his laurels.

“Wow,” said one industry analyst. “Gyroscopes and a creepy voice box. I’m sure the wealthy will be lining up for a clockwork butler with goofy hands that can question their orders and scare the crap out of their children and pets.”

“He’s peaked,” said another. “Today, he’s revealing a feature that could easily be retrofitted onto his current model (and is indeed something many have already done with Mark III’s), and another that no one wants. He’s begun following trends instead of setting them. He’ll soon fade into obscurity, I reckon.”

Perhaps the most shattering thing to people’s faith in Rinkenbach is the fact that he’s disappeared. The Gazette has tried several times to reach Rinkenbach for comment, but no one in his offices seems to know how to contact him. We also have it on good faith that Rinkenbach has not been seen at the Empress’ court, and there are rumors that Imperial Authorities are searching for him as well.

Rumors abound as to the cause of his going silent; some say he might be embarrassed, but those who know him claim such a thing is poppycock. Many have suggested that his sudden disappearance is linked to the rumors that he’s making headway on the Blackwood Dilemma. If so, we wonder, has he gone into hiding for protection? Or has he been silently done away with, to protect the interests of the Desantana Blackwood Refining Company? One thing is for certain, any of these possibilities could hold dire consequences for the Triumvirate.

Blackwood Gazette #144-IIC Wrap-Up: Is Rinkenbach Rinken-Done For?

Blackwood Empire #143-Michel Pertifour Unveils Portable Gramophone

By Alex Grosset, Arts and Entertainment

18/6- After the horrifying displays I was forced to endure during the IIC military presser, I was barely able to scramble across the expo center and find a seat for the Pertifour conference. Pertifour always comes up with new and interesting things, so I was excited.

The reality of what he brought has stirred in me mixed feelings, however. After an extended introduction that would have seemed more at home before a Rinkenbach presser, Michel Pertifour appeared on stage with nothing but a small satchel draped over his shoulder.

“Have you ever walked down a crowded street, with nothing but the inane conversation of your fellow pedestrians and the droning buzz of the city filling your skull?” He asked. “Have you ever wished you could drown it out with the sweet sounds of Alicia Sols soprano voice or stirring overtures of Bethelvart? Well, now you can!”

Pertifour opened the satchel to reveal a small wooden box with a wax disk held in place by a pin. A small needle was positioned over the disk.

“Introducing the world’s first portable gramophone!” he announced. “With his device, you can listen to the greatest oratorios, concertos, and waltzes of our time!”

He reached into the satchel and pulled out a pair of ear horns and three more disks.

“The music can be listened to through these horns, without disturbing those around you. These discs, a new design intended to make better use of space than cylinders, each hold up to fifteen minutes of audio. That’s the entirety of Johann Martz’s opening movement of his fifth symphony, right in your pocket!”

The device was powered by a spring mechanism, which Pertifour winded up. Even though I was in the back row and still had ringing in my ears from the military presser, I could hear the music coming from the horns, which seems to undercut his claim that you could listen without disturbing. It also seems to me that something so loud would cause permanent damage.

Someone in the front row asked if you could adjust the volume.

“No!” Pertifour said, proudly. “And why would you want to?”

He then announced that the portable gramophone will be available next month, with a library of twenty disks, with content ranging from music, to audio plays, to academic dissertations. Be prepared to shell out over one hundred imperions for the device and a disk.

Blackwood Empire #143-Michel Pertifour Unveils Portable Gramophone

What is the Blackwood Empire?

So, I realized today that I’m coming up on 150 installments of the Blackwood Gazette, and I imagine that it’s probably starting to seem a bit impenetrable to any potential new readers. So I threw together a little primer of sorts to give you guys the broad strokes on what the Blackwood Empire is, and just what is going on within the Gazette. If you find this primer insufficient, feel free to leave any questions or feedback on the page you’re taken to by the following link, and I’ll try to answer them accordingly:


What is the Blackwood Empire?

Blackwood Gazette #142-IIC Military Conference Brings Out the Big Guns (Literally)

By Alex Grosset, Arts and Entertainment

16/6- Only one thing went through my mind as I found myself seated (in the front row, no less) of the Industry and Innovation Conference’s military technology presser: this must be some sort of prank, right? Surely, the editor of the Oeil de Fleur office was waiting in the wings to tell me he was just having a run at me, and tell me that I could leave and get in line for the Pertifour showing. Alas, no such shoe dropped, and thus I was stuck there, surrounded by Crowndonian troglodytes.

In any case, the show. The conference started off with a very loud bang, one that left my ears ringing for the rest of the day, as Stravaski Arms (formerly Velcom, re-branded after that hand grenade debacle last year) wheeled out a new gun-helmet.

“Whatever you look at, you can shoot!” said the presenter with blood thirsty fervor, a nervous looking demonstrator standing next to him with the gun helmet strapped to his head. “You simply turn your head toward the target and blow into the triggering tube. Your breath of life then inflates a bladder within the helmet, triggering the mechanism and ending the life of whatever unlucky [expletive removed] just happens to fall under your gaze. A demonstration!”

The demonstrator looked to his left, at a Chernoskian rat-monkey locked in a nearby cage. He blew into the tube, and I waited for the rat-monkey to disintegrate in a red, pulpy mist. Alas, the recoil from the helmet knocked the demonstrators head back, and the bullet went ineffectually into the wall. The presenter made a nervous joke about working out the bugs, and the curtain fell to sporadic applause.

Next up, Hornsower’s International rolled out a wagon covered in strip fed, crank operated monstrosities. What appeared to be a blanket covered the bottom half of the wagon. The man next to me snarked something about ‘skirts’. Very droll, I’m sure.

“What you see here, is nothing new,” the presenter said. “Battlewagons have been a part of the battlefield for hundreds of years, but as anyone who fought at the Battle of Des Anges can tell you, getting them where they need to be over terrain blasted by craters and littered by the soulless husks of your fallen enemies can be a chore. We at H.I. believe we’ve overcome that obstacle.”

The blanket was dropped and the bottom half of the carriage was revealed. There were no wheels on the carriage, not in the traditional sense, but metal tracks wrapped around a complex series of gears. The crowd went nuts.

“Introducing the Hornsower repeating track system. A battlewagon equipped with these is guaranteed not to get a wheel stuck in a hole, or its front end lodged in a trench. Get your guns and your men where they’re needed most with Hornsower!”

The presentation ended and the rest of the presser went on in a manner I’m sure most of these military conferences go…new models of guns, improved jacketing of ammunition, more potent gun powder. It all blurred together into a feverish mish mash of death and smoke filled zealotry. I doubt the smell will ever come out of my suit. But there it is, dear readers. THE FUTURE!



Blackwood Gazette #20: Velcom Rep Calls Demonstration Disaster a “Fluke.”

Real World Inspirations: Albert Bacon Pratt’s Helmet Gun (1916), via

Blackwood Gazette #142-IIC Military Conference Brings Out the Big Guns (Literally)

Blackwood Gazette #141-Rinkenbach Announcement Smashes IIC, but Not In the Way Anyone Expected

By Ada Herschel, Science and Technology

15/6- As I entered the coliseum in Oeil de Fleur for this year’s Industry and Innovation Conference, a success story from last year’s conference hung, quite literally, in the air. That success is, of course, the Foundation Inc. interior climate control system. Given that it made the three hour wait between seating and presentation all the more bearable, and that Rinkenbach Industries was the first showing of the conference, I found myself more excited than I have been in a long time for the IIC.

That excitement quickly soured, however, as Rinkenbach hit the stage. The man known for flashy entrances, such as launching himself from a trap door under the stage, or descending from the rafters suspended by wires, or appearing in an explosion of smoke and flame, simply stumbled out from backstage. He was pursued by someone I’m assuming was a PR rep, trying to stop him. When the PR rep realized that thousands of people were watching him, he quickly about faced and headed backstage, throwing his hands up.

“Good evening, Oeil de Fleur,” Rinkenbach said in opening, despite the fact that it was nine in the morning. “And Welcome to Rinkenbach R&D’s IIC conference. We’ve got a big announcement today, that’s going to change EVERYTHING!”

With a flourish of his hands, two buxom assistants wearing sequin gowns rolled out what appeared to be a man on a dolly. I immediately knew what it was…the new model of clockwork butler. Apparently everyone else in the room knew it, too, because when Rinkenbach revealed the mech, it was met with middling applause.

“The Clockwork Butler Mark IV,” Rinkenbach said, his voice more than a little slurred. “I know you’ve all been waiting for it, so, here it is!”

The middling applause didn’t grow any louder.

“Ahem. Alright then. Moving on. The Mark IV hosts a veritable, um, host, yes, of improvements over the popular Mark III, making it the premiere automaton on the market. For instance, new gyroscopic attachments for the arms ensure that your daily tea will no longer get spilled.”

My colleague, industry analyst Jerald Doramus, sat two seats down from me. When I interviewed him after the announcement of the Mark IV several weeks ago, this development was one of two possibilities Doramus offered, the other being a free thinking doomsday machine. Needless to say, Doramus looked relieved.

“That’s really a small thing, however,” Rinkenbach said, continuing on. “For now, the Mark IV is capable of something no other automaton has been capable of before.

“This unit has a name. Francois. Hello, Francois.”

“Good morning, sir.”

The coliseum was deathly silent as the automaton not only spoke, but responded to inquiry.

“Morning? Don’t be silly, Francois. It’s evening.”

“No, sir. It’s morning.”

“Oh, dear, how embarrassing. There must be a glitch in Francois’s time configuration.”

“There is no glitch,” Francois said. “Check your watch.”

This elicited a round of laughter from the audience. I looked again at Doramus. He’d gone completely white, and held his head down in his hand.

The implications of Rinkenbach’s unveiling are shocking. Not only was the voice coming from the automaton of striking clarity and even warmth, but it was adapting to the flow of the conversation. Any reservations that this could have been a put on were laid to rest when seemingly random members of the audience began asking questions. More than a few times, the Mark IV was unable to answer, but one question in particular not only garnished a response from the automaton, but a panicked reaction from Rinkenbach that cut the show short and raises some serious questions about the future of the Triumvirate.

“Is Rigel Rinkenbach working on the Blackwood Formulae, and how far has he gotten?”

“Yes,” the robot answered. “As of this morning he has computed more than fifteen point six five nine three two percent of the formulae, according to his own est—“

The automaton went silent, and I could see Rinkenbach standing next to it with a large box, smoking wires dangling from the bottom, presumably ripped from within the machine

“Thank you, Francois,” Rinkenbach said. “That’s quite enough. Um, thank you all for coming! Enjoy the show.”

Rinkenbach rushed off stage as a deluge of questions were shouted at him from the audience. I, like many other reporters at the conference, tried to set up a one on one interview, but it seems that Rinkenbach has left the city. In any case, the bar has been set for this year’s IIC.

Blackwood Gazette #141-Rinkenbach Announcement Smashes IIC, but Not In the Way Anyone Expected

Blackwood Gazette # 140: Julianos Forces Make Landfall in Monteddorian Colony of Sal Diello

By Hil Spencer, New Crowndon Correspondent

12/6-Reports are coming in that the mysterious fleet of Julianos ships spotted crossing the Barrier Ocean has made landfall in the Monteddorian colony of Sal Diello. According to Colonial Authorities, Marshals are on site, monitoring the situation.

Details so far are scant, but early reports indicate that armed presence is at a minimum. For the most part, the crew of Julianos’ ships appear to be comprised of civilians, and its cargo comprised of what appear to be supplies for mining.

Nearly twenty years ago, rumors of gold in the region led to an influx of settlers to the area. Conflicts, many of which persist to this day, broke out between the Monteddorian colonists who first settled the area and colonists from Crowndon and Nor Easter. In the end, all the hard work of prospecting and bloodshed amounted to nothing; nothing but the scantest deposits of gold were found in the nearby riverbed, its source deduced to be in the impassable mountains to the south, deep in the region known as the Deadlands.

Could a renewed interest in the region be underway? The Marshals have their doubts, saying that the newly arrived group looks ill prepared for an expedition into the Deadlands, a journey from which no explorer has ever returned.

Colonial authorities plan to send a retinue to Sal Diello shortly. Hopefully, details on Julianos’ interest in the region will be forthcoming.

Blackwood Gazette # 140: Julianos Forces Make Landfall in Monteddorian Colony of Sal Diello