Backmatter Part 6: Liberum Scientia

High Concept: The Arabian Nights meets Neuromancer meets the Age of Sail

Genre: Compasspunk

Overview: In the year 955 AH, Taqi al-Din Mohammed ibn Ma’ruf (peace be upon him) started the Great Observatory of Istanbul and ushered in a golden age of scientific and technological innovation within the Sublime Ottoman State.

One year after the construction of the Great Observatory, a fisherman in Cyprus discovered a strange machine which was brought to al-Din for study. Ottoman scientists retasked the device into an effective tool for mapmaking and navigation, while other tinkers used the principles behind the device’s operation to process census data, plan crop rotations and provision armies. Sultan Murad III was so enamored by the devices that he sent out a fleet of specially-equipped ships to map the seven seas for the glory of Allah and the Sublime Ottoman State.

This brief flowering of technology ended in the year 958 AH, when al-Din’s calculations showed that, despite the sighting of a comet seen by the soothsayers of Sultan Murad III, his armies would not prevail against a smaller but better-prepared Persian army. The Great Observatory was destroyed and the exploratory fleet’s crews denied return to port.

Many of the ships made their way to Europe, where their crews were promptly detained and interrogated. The French were the first to openly accept the exiles, with la vie Sufisme informing discussion in the salons of the wealthy and French merchant ships receiving accurate maps of the Mediterranean and north African coasts. The other great powers followed suit, building their own “Hajji Devices” for their own use. These devices, and the maps they generated, were well-kept state secrets, allowing easy access to the wealth of the New World and the Indies.

… until a French ship’s captain named Mission disappeared with a Hajji device and, a few months later, the first “Libertatian Gazetteer” appeared in the sailor’s taverns of Marseilles, providing full access to the trade routes of the Great Powers and their tame merchant houses.

Thirty years later, the Spanish main bears the marks of all of these influences. Freebooters sailing under the flag of Libertatia trade booty for Hajj codes with artificers in the free city of Port o’ Clocks, while Sufee Levellers from the Republic of Rhode Island open safe harbors and open markets throughout the New World. Buccaneers speak with dread of the Scylla, a Hajji Machine set to watch over the treacherous bay of Cartagena, while Jesuit artificers of the Oculus Dei work toward a day when the machines will perfectly reflect every aspect of God’s creation.

System: Savage Worlds or Adventure!
Illustrator: P. Craig Russell
Director: Luc Besson
Potential casting: Aasif Mandvi, Salma Hayek, Hugh Jackman, Tim Curry, Natalie Portman, Djimon Honsou, Alan Rickman
Royalties paid in advance to: Gareth Hanrahan who came up with the name “Port o’ Clocks,” and Peter Lamborn Wilson, who came up with or presented well nigh everything else in this thing

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