Blackwood Empire: The Rogues Gallery, Vol. I

Last week I did a Blackwood Gazette accompanied by a mock wanted poster. I had a lot of fun making that poster, so I decided to do a bunch more for some of the major players in these stories. Enjoy!

Keep away from cats!
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Steampunk Outlaw. Also, kind of a troll.
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That's quite the resume...
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Vintage Rinkenbach...
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He's his own worst enemy, really...
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Blackwood Empire: The Rogues Gallery, Vol. I

Blackwood Gazette #81: Government Projects Drawing Criticism in Wake of Blackwood Shortage

by Chester Seaton, News

18/12- With northern territories in one of the wealthiest, most developed Empires in the world going dark with no way to contact them this winter, critics have turned their eye to several projects associated with Crowndonian interests.

This year, Crowndon has announced two high profile, very expensive, and some would say frivolous projects: the first being the joint Imperial effort to build an ocean born super-prison, and the second being the development of a commercial fixed wing aircraft.

“Both of these imperatives are a slap in the face of the Crowndonian citizenry, in wake of recent events,” said renowned philanthropist and scholar Caridan Wellerby this week. “The cost of building and maintaining a prison like the one described is completely unjustifiable when weighed against the benefits to not only Crowndon, but the Triumvirate as a whole. And don’t even get me started on this ridiculous pissing match between Crowndon and Rinkenbach Research and Development. Let the man have his glory; it is just a drop in the bucket of his already numerous accolades. No one will notice.”

Advocates for both projects quickly issued a response.

“Mister Wellerby’s concerns are well intentioned, I’m sure,” claimed a statement by Pavil Lyons, Crowndon’s Secretary of Industrial Development and Oversight. “But they are unfounded. The prison project is being funded mostly by independent interests, as most everyone knows and complained about earlier this year. Any money spent by the Crown is limited to fees for services rendered. And since there is currently no prison, there are no services being rendered, and no coin being spent by the Crown.

“As for the Heisenberg Project…the fact that Rinkenbach is involved is the very reason why we shouldn’t just give it up. That man deserves a good humbling, I say, and Crowndon needs a victory in the industrial race with Nor Easter.”

Wellerby waved off the statement when asked to respond, and in his words one can almost visualize him shaking his head.

“This need for ‘victory’, and Crowndon’s insistence on trotting out ‘National Pride’ whenever the Heisenberg Project is mentioned reeks of desperation. It’s been stated so adamantly so many times, I doubt even Secretary Lyon’s believes it any more. There are people starving to death…if Crowndon wants to feel pride, it needs to find a way to reestablish contact to its northern territories and bring its people food and power.”

***

That super-prison in today’s post? It got built! Find out what happens to it in the full length novel, Where, No One Knows!

Blackwood Gazette #81: Government Projects Drawing Criticism in Wake of Blackwood Shortage

Blackwood Gazette #73: Journey to Lelina, Riverboat Raid, Part 4

By Adella Chatelaine

13/10- I found getting back to the boat a bit slow going. My head was still reeling from the events, mainly from coming face to face with the man behind so much horror here in the colonies, and from finding out I had helped a wanted fugitive.

The fact that Von Grimm had called the Rommsbachian ‘Mister Klaudhopper’ didn’t fully dawn on me until I was half way back to the docks, and it was only after seeing a poster for Klaus Klaudhopper that I fully put the picture together. I told myself that it was better that the only person who may be able to answer questions about what happened on Waystation Bravo should get away from Dr. Argyle Von Grimm, even if it meant he was still at large. However, I deigned to alert the proper authorities that Klaudhopper was in the area.

Once returning to the docks, I located a Marshall’s office and told the singular man working the desk what had occurred. he informed me that they were well aware of Von Grimm’s presence. They had not heard of Klaudhopper, however, nor did they seem particularly interested. Understandable, I suppose, given the more immediate threat of a bunch of mechanized hoodlums tearing the town apart. Since Von Grimm and Klaudhopper were both involved, I felt it likely that dealing with one may mean dealing with the other, so I did not push the matter.

It was only after returning to the boat that I realized that would not happen, for who did I find, standing on the deck, looking out over the river? Klaus Klaudhopper.

I must have gasped in surprised, or made some sort of noise, because he turned to me. Recognition came over his face and he smiled. He thanked me for helping him escape. It took me off guard.

While he struck me as a dangerous man, I did not think him necessarily an evil one, certainly not someone who would maliciously cause the destruction of a Waystation. I told him I knew who he was, and let him know who I was.

“Ah,” he said. “That’s very good. We can strike deal then, ja? You keep mouth shut, I give you exclusive on what happened at the station, once I feel safe.”

I agreed to his terms. Little did I know that we would not get the opportunity.

Blackwood Gazette #73: Journey to Lelina, Riverboat Raid, Part 4

Blackwood Gazette #62-Are You Ready for Some Fool’s Ball?

By Huxley Pruitt, Sports

5/9-The Imperial Fool’s Ball League, the sport that has swept Crowndon gaming to the detriment of all other athletic endeavors, opened its third season last night. Thousands of fans, all of them under the delusion that their team is the best and that they somehow personally contribute to said team’s victory, came out in droves last night to eat smoked meat products and be rude to each other.

The sudden popularity of the sport has sparked the interest of sociologists in Nor Easter last year, who this year have decided to study the game, the behaviors of its fans, and its impacts, psychologically, physically, and economically.

“It’s all so very fascinating,” said one such scientist, who asked to remain anonymous. “The behaviors on display. Adult men–Crowndon men, so known for their normally stalwart demeanors—painting themselves in the bright colors of their teams and wearing the uniforms of their favorite players; it is akin, I suppose, to the fans of things like ‘The Gutted Earth’ you see dressing up as their favorite characters. Although, you’re less likely to wind up in the hospital if you get caught dressed as the villain in that novel than if you get caught wearing an opposing team’s jersey. There also tends to be a lot less rioting afterwards.”

The rioting, this sociologist says, lays at the crux of his study. It is a strange phenomenon, he says, that does not appear to be contingent upon victory or defeat, nor does it appear to happen with any regularity.

“The conditions have to be just right,” he says. “It typically happens toward the end of the season, it is typically the home team that goes on the warpath, and it can be either a way to celebrate a win or decry a loss. That’s the most baffling thing about it all: adults, smashing through their own streets, because they’re happy. It makes no sense! But it happens.”

The proliferation of the sport has left many scholars baffled, particularly at the traction it has gotten in Crowndon, of all places. Crowndon is, after all, often characterized by their collective humorlessness. I asked a few fans what they saw in the game.

“Not sure if you have noticed this, good sir,” one fan answered. “But Crowndon has received quite the thorough beating this year. I think we deserve a little bit of an outlet.”

That’s not to say the game does not have its fans outside of Crowndon. At least one high profile Nor Easterner, Sir Rigel Rinkenbach, has taken an interest.

“Of course I’m a fan!” Rinkenbach said. “I invented the game, after all. Then I introduced the game to Crowndon, sat back, and laughed.”

Blackwood Gazette #62-Are You Ready for Some Fool’s Ball?

Blackwood Gazette #19-Industry Leaders Descend Upon Crowndon Capital for Industry and Innovation Conference

story by Alex Grosset, Arts and Entertainment

10/6-I sit in a darkened coliseum, surrounded by pillars of the Imperial community from all walks of life; military personnel, industrial leaders, respected authors, famous inventors. It’s 1200, and we’ve all been up since five this morning. We’ve been sitting here for three hours, packed in like sardines. It’s hotter than a boiler room in here, and I’m sweating through my note pad. The smell is nigh unbearable.

We’re hoping for a glimpse at the next “New Big Thing”, whatever that is. The presenters would have you believe it’s whatever they’ve come to show us, and there are a lot of presenters. I’m going to be in this seat for twelve more hours, listening to corporate vagaries trying to make out commercial endeavours to be some life changing thing. Right now, I’d settle with someone, anyone, inventing a machine that can keep a coliseum like the one I’m in at a decent temperature. Climate control…do you hear that, inventors of the Triumvirate? Get on that.

The first presentation is from a company called Velcom Technologies. These guys were little more than a start up last year, relegated to a small booth outside the fair ground. Now they’re opening the main stage. They show off plans for a new type of offensive explosive device that is activated by pulling a pin, which initiates a three second fuse. The Crowndonians in the room go nuts. The demonstration is less smooth, as the presenter blows off his own arm on stage. He’s rushed out of the coliseum, which is now filled with smoke.

“Perhaps Velcom should think about increasing the fuse to five seconds,” the host jokes nervously. Thankfully, no one laughs.

The presentations for the next two hours aren’t anything impressive–mild variations and improvements on items we saw last year, or the year before last. At 1300, we’re served rations of gruel. Again, I’d just be grateful if someone announced some sort of complete meal in a convenient bar that I can carry in my jacket pocket.

Finally, we get to the presser that everyone’s been waiting for: Rinkenbach Research and Development.

A group of fifteen women appear on stage, dancers by the look of them. They begin dancing and singing a song about the horizon, laced with lazy sexual innuendos. Rigel Rinkenbach himself appears on stage in grand fashion, lowered from up above by wires. He joins in on the song and dance routine, which culminates in an impressively garish pyrotechnics display. Sparks fall on the ground, but luckily none of them catch, like last year.

The dancers shuffle off stage, leaving Rinkenbach by himself to give the presentation. He looks winded, but other wise he’s as energetic as ever.

So what’s he unveiling? The world’s first commercial Planar Wing Aircraft.

When the plans are unveiled, I hear a loud curse from backstage. Ivan Klankenvroot is the next presenter, and with the recent enmities between him and Rinkenbach, it’s a given what Klankenvroot was planning to unveil. Sure enough, that’s exactly what it is: his own plans for a PWA aircraft. Half of the audience is snoring before the presentation is over.

The final presentation is given by a company I’ve never heard of: Foundation Inc. Their presenter tells us that he has nothing to show, but something to demonstrate, something that will change interior venues the world over.

I hear a clunking sound over head, and rattling coming from strange metal tubes lining the ceiling. After a moment, I’m beginning to wonder if something is wrong. Then I feel it…cold air, descending from the rafters like a refreshing blanket. There it is. That’s it. That’s what I’ve been waiting for.

Then I realize that Foundation could have given its presentation at the BEGINNING of the day.

Alex Grosset is an alum of the Empress University. Born and raised in Oeil de Fleur, he likes nothing more than enjoying a play by night, and ripping it apart by day. He was the first staff member hired by the Blackwood Gazette’s Nor Eastern offices.

Blackwood Gazette #19-Industry Leaders Descend Upon Crowndon Capital for Industry and Innovation Conference

Blackwood Gazette #18: Strange Ruins Discovered in Swamps of Lelina; Newland Academics Stumped

5/6-Disturbing news from the colonies today, as reports of strange ruins discovered in the swamplands around the colonial boom town of Lelina made its way to Imperial shores this morning.

The ruins were discovered last month by Daniel Tomlinson, aged 20, and his youngest son Jack, aged 6, while they were trawling the swamps for bottom dwelling fish and crustaceans.

“It was five stones, like fingers, sticking up out the water,” said Daniel. “Darndest thing I ever did see. I know these swamps like the back of my hand. Been doing this my whole life, right here in this swamp, and believe me, I ain’t never seen nothing like it before, no sir.”

Jack told his teachers the next week about the strange stones, and news traveled throughout the town. One of the teachers, Alexander Packard, went out to look for the stones, and never returned.

“I think he got ate by a gator,” said Jack.

Before disappearing, Packard sent a letter to his colleagues at the University of New Toring. When the University learned of Packard’s disappearance, they sent a team to investigate.

“It is a remarkable discovery,” said Donald Croshaw, Head of Newland Archaeology. “The ruins are similar to other sites found throughout the Newlands, except for two crucial details: these are made of some as yet unidentified element, and the surface is marked with a complex series of markings, much too small and precise to be done with a chisel, or any technology currently available to us.”

Other members of the team reported strange occurrences around the site and the camp they set up nearby.

“It was difficult to be around for too long,” said Marisol Calaveras, an intern from the university of Monteddor. “I swear, it felt as though the fillings in my teeth were rattling.”

Others reported feelings of unease and nausea throughout the first night, feelings that abated throughout the day, but did not return the next night.

“Probably just adjusting to the moist environment,” Croshaw said.

No sign of Packard was found. Croshaw stated that young Jack Tomlinson’s theory might actually be a working theory.

“Alligators are a proper threat out here, especially for a middle aged, overweight grade school teacher on his own in an unfamiliar environment,” Croshaw said. Packard had only moved to Lelina the year before.

Croshaw and his team continue to investigate the site. More on this story as it develops.

Blackwood Gazette #18: Strange Ruins Discovered in Swamps of Lelina; Newland Academics Stumped

Blackwood Gazette #17: Triumvirate Leaders Unveil Plans for Nautical Super-Prison; Reactions Mixed

3/6-Last week, high ranking officials from the member of the Imperial Triumvirate announced a massive joint project they promised would change the world. This weekend, it was announced that the project is a massive prison for holding ‘special cases and undesirable entities’ from around the Triumvirate.

“Once constructed, the prison will be run by a private organization made up of former Crowndonian and Monteddorian Naval personnel,” said Admiral Derval McTavish. “I myself will be stepping down as Fleet Admiral of Crowndon and assume the role of Chief Warden of the ship.”

The announcement was met with mixed reactions from all corners of society.

“Oh, look. Another prison,” said Samson Aldous, a Sarnwainian exchange student studying at the Empress University in Oeil de Fleur. “The only reason they are building the thing is because their prisons are already full, and their prisons are full because their system does not work. And now they are privatizing it! I bet a Crowndonian came up with it, and no mistake.”

“I think it’s outstanding,” said Elizabeth Dubois, a wealthy merchant from Toring. “We have a huge crime problem here. They like to use my storefront door for shelter from the rain. The nerve of them! Putting those filthy heathens on a ship in the middle of the ocean, and away from rational folk like myself, is exactly what society needs. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some downsizing to do. Word has it our taxes are going up for some reason. Stupid taxes.”

“I’m concerned,” said one Nor Eastern citizen, who asked to remain nameless. “They talk about ‘special cases and undesirable entities.’ What exactly qualifies as a ‘special case’, or an ‘entity’? That could be anything. Especially if you’re in Crowndon. I’m shocked and ashamed to know that Nor Easter has anything to do with this, to be honest.”

Oculus, self proclaimed ‘Editor and Chief’ of that smut rag The Exhumanor, wasted no time in gloating.

“See! It’s a prison! What did I say?! What did I say, people?! Didn’t I say they’d be rounding us up?! Laugh at me again, why don’t ya!”

We asked several of the Triumvirate’s most well known pillars for comment. As of this printing, only Rigel Rinkenbach as responded.

“I fear all that I can do is shake my head,” Rinkenbach said. “This is a bad idea. I should know; they didn’t ask me to consult. Something is bound to go wrong.”

Blackwood Gazette #17: Triumvirate Leaders Unveil Plans for Nautical Super-Prison; Reactions Mixed