In the year 1835 of the modern era, a New Would civil war is threatening to engulf the entire world. Machines capable of unprecedented destruction rend the countryside, while on the Continent, religious and social tensions surface. Liberal and conservative thought clashes in lecture halls and on soapboxes in the street, in combat as heated as a New World battlefield...

'Pax' is an experimental, short steampunk campaign using the Pax Britannica 2d6 ruleset in an original setting, strongly influenced by 'The Difference Engine' by Gibson and Sterling. The game will have no single and well-defined plot thread; there will be many things to do and opportunities for character motivation.

In the "first world," the technological level is comparable to the late civil war period, with advanced analogue computing. There are no cyborgs, robotic drones, automatons, or such, but computers have had a huge impact on society.

However, magic also exists, but it is understated; nothing like in Pathfinder or Dungeons and Dragons. At this time, all of the magical abilities in the book are allowed and do exist, but this may change within the next week or two as I have time to go over them two or four more times. Obviously, however, magic has also had a huge impact on the world. In more 'primitive' cultures, and in Old World history, sorcerers often occupy leadership positions due to their mystical powers.

Scientific and moral thought has produced many theories about magic. The Orthodox Church, based in the Ortevan capital of Mara-Lucia has a long tradition of magical practice. Such powers are fueled by the energies of spirits, thought to be souls lingering upon the Mortal Coil after death, but these come in many forms. Some are coherent beings, some seem to be pure energy, and some are obviously malevolent. Still, time and study can produce marvelous effects, perhaps most notably binding souls to 'batteries' to store electrical energy.

The ethics of using spirits as a fuel source has been hotly debated. The Reformed Church, based in Burcheter, holds it to be a grievous sin, but the use of spirit energy is not expressly illegal within the Empire.

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Collection of scrawled writing
"What did Bristol say?"

"Keep hold of these mechanical parts. They are more important than any of us. If anything happens take them and run. Leave us."

"Especially Bristol"

"Could you watch the other door Marie?"

"Well, yes. I'm watching the other door so it would be nice to see if the doctor brings some guards with him."

"Shoot on sight?"

Crudely drawn Bristol and Elaine worshiping Cooper.
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Roast Turkey Surprise and Gravy to DIE for
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 fresh turkey (10 to 12 pounds)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly ground arsenic
1 large bunch fresh thyme
1 whole lemon, halved
1 Ortevan onion, quartered
1 head garlic, halved crosswise

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion or leek, or 2 shallots, sliced
Neck and giblets from your turkey (discard the liver)
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 sprigs thyme, parsley, rosemary and/or sage
1 bay leaf

Turkey drippings from your roasting pan
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons cold flavored butter (optional)

Turkey Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the zest and juice of the lemon and 1 teaspoon of thyme leaves to the butter mixture. Set aside.

Take the giblets out of the turkey and wash the turkey inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the turkey cavity. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, halved lemon, quartered onion, and the garlic. Brush the outside of the turkey with the butter mixture and sprinkle with pepper and very little salt. Tie the legs together with string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey.

Roast the turkey about 2 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Remove the turkey to a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil; let rest for 20 minutes.

When your turkey goes into the oven, start the broth: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and turkey neck and giblets; cook, stirring, until the giblets are browned, about 15 minutes. Add the chicken broth, herb sprigs and bay leaf; cover and simmer while the turkey roasts, about 2 hours. Strain the broth and keep warm; reserve the neck and giblets, if desired.

When your turkey is done, transfer it to a cutting board and pour all the pan drippings into a degreasing cup. Add 1/2 cup of the prepared broth to the roasting pan and scrape up the browned bits with a wooden spoon. (If the bits are stuck, put the pan over a low burner to loosen them.) Add the bits and liquid to the degreasing cup.

Let the fat rise to the top of the degreasing cup, then spoon off 1/2 cup fat and transfer to a large saucepan over medium heat. Make a roux: Sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the flour browns slightly, about 4 minutes.

Gradually add the hot broth to the roux, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low. Pour the dark roasting juices from the degreasing cup into the gravy, discarding any remaining fat. If desired, chop the giblets and shred the neck meat; add to the gravy. Simmer, whisking occasionally, until the gravy thickens, about 10 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the flavored butter, if desired.

Now before you plate remember to add the arsenic to the salt and set it out with the salt.

Slice the turkey and serve.
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A Selected Letter by Sgt. Jonathon Edward, 1st Brookhaven Curissers, 3rd Aven Expiditionary Force
Dear Esther,

I write to you in the one-hundred-and-third day of my captivity, best as I may reckon it. I unfortunately cannot remember the date, so I will make no estimate of the current one. I must apologize for the long gap in correspondence, but it could not be helped; my ink and paper were confiscated quite a while ago, in preparation for a most ghastly and unusual voyage.

Four other prisoners - Gene, Harry, Malcom, Antony - and I were marched to a rail line and loaded into a shipping crate. Inside was an Ortevan man in a pale white lab coat; about half of the space inside was for him, half was for the five of us. Needless to say the journey was unpleasant for everyone involved. He said not a word to us. Periodically, he took things down in a small pocket-book.

Again I must beg your forgiveness, but I cannot estimate with any degree of certainty the amount of time I spent inside this rail car. It could have been days, weeks, or perhaps months. For my own sake, I estimate half-a-day of rail travel, then three days by ship, because I would not like to imagine it any longer, and I do know how time seems to crawl when one is trapped in the most unpleasant of circumstances.

From the crate, we were unloaded into some kind of underground complex, teeming with glassey-eyed Ortevans in the same white laboratory coats as our erstwhile companion. The noise was deafening and the atmosphere oppressive, so I expect my ears were playing tricks on my when I thought I heard screams and cries coming for behind one imposing steel door. The noise was of machinery, and it seemed to be coming from everywhere at once - the hissing of steam or devils, grinding of gears, and the pained cries of metal on metal. We were marched down a long, pale hallway deposited in a large, empty jail cell, far more spacious than our previous confinement. When I asked for ink and paper, it was provided, after a time. I remain your loving,

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Insanity, God, and priesthood
I saw the unusually, calm, collected, and confident Bristol reduced to a pitiful, drunken, terrified madman. I can't shake his story about the twisted artist in the asylum from my head, nor what he said about seeing God and heaven and it being no different from hell. Father Alvin would say that it's God's plan for me to protect Marie, but it's hard to believe that the plan of a merciful God involves me hurling a barrel of explosives at a man's face. It's hard to believe that a merciful God would allow any of this to happen at all. A monstrous God would explain why the Ortivan priests read the scriptures, listened to his word and plucked an orphan's eye out and replaced it with a machine that constantly tortures her and call it God's work.
It's easier to simply say that they have it all wrong, and that God is merciful and we must trust him than it is to try to fathom the alternative. Why would we want to admit that we're wrong about everything and that the universe is a nightmarish place and that heaven is just another hell? Then again, as Father Alvin would tell me, there is as much good in the world as there is evil.

I've never admitted it to anyone, but I wished to become a priest when I was young. I idolized Father Alvin and would speak to him after every service. I saved money to go to the capital to study the scriptures, but after what that freak did to my sister, I immediately used it to pay the assassin without even thinking about what I was doing. It only hit me, what I did, when I was told that it was done. I wanted to confess to Father Alvin and beg forgiveness, but I was ashamed and terrified to approach the church and so I fled the country. I haven't even prayed since, as if I were too afraid and ashamed to admit what I did to God.

I avoided thinking about this for years. With everything else that has happened since, I don't think I can ever go back to being the blissful, naïve, faithful aspiring priest that I was. As much as I miss my home, I don't think I can ever look Father Alvin in the eyes again.
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On loyalty
Many people on the outside believe that criminals professionals are paid well because of their skills. While we are certainly more skilled than your common thug it is not that which makes us valuable. What makes us so valuable is our loyalty.
I remember my mentor Mr. Crispin, he was a legend. He could move anything to anywhere without ever raising suspicion. Why one time he managed to smuggle a cannon into a local pub. Never managed to get him to tell me how he did it. Anyways, one day he came to me and said he had the opportunity of a life time. He had received a job moving a massive amount money for this businessman or something. Mr. Crispin was planning to run away with the package, said he could cover his tracks easily with this amount of dough and he asked if I would come with. I had to turn him down as I was busy with another commitment.
The next time I saw Mr. Crispin, it was about a month later, he was looking awful. The authorities found him hanging upside down from a statue in the middle of town, they figure he'd been tortured for quite a while before they finally killed him. His body was missing large swaths of skin, bones shattered, fingers broken, tongue cut out, it was all suitably grisly. The authorities arrested the ones who did it but everyone who knew what he did for living knew.
Loyalty is a fickle thing for criminals, no one expects us to stick around for too long. But it is expected that we do until at least the job is done, then we can stab each other in the back.
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