Hey there FASA fans. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to write one of these blog posts, and I’ll get further into why in a moment as I cover an overview of what’s been going on behind the scenes and what you can look forward to coming around the bend.

First, a general state of affairs for the line. The Companions were our last set of books, and subject of our last blog entry, and at this point the Kickstarter campaign has been cleared and the last of the rewards have gone out (which means if you backed the campaign, haven’t received your rewards yet, and aren’t already in contact with us about it, please reach out via our Kickstarter Contact form here). After that campaign went into the post funding stages to finalize the product and go to print, we were full steam ahead on getting the books ready for the next campaign, which will cover the Fort Alice Sourcebook as well as the second part of our three part adventure, Saurids on the Grosvenor Express. At the time of production, our writing staff was lower than it is now, which meant I needed to be heavily involved in not only the usual line developer roles of reviewing, adjusting, and organizing submissions turned in for the books, as well as all the other general overview jobs needed for the line, I was also needed to produce a fair amount of the material myself. Given that there are only so many hours in a day, I had to pull the time from somewhere, which meant I did not have the time to handle writing out these blog posts. Hopefully you’ll agree that getting the next book created and in the best shape possible for you all took precedence over talking about the process of doing so. At this point, I can tell you the writing for Fort Alice and the adventure are all done, edited, and are currently awaiting layout. The books that will be coming out for the next campaign beyond that are in production, and we’ve brought on some additional freelancers to take the writing load off of myself, which means I now have more time available to put into the other duties involved with managing the line, including writing these blog posts. My intention is to keep these going regularly again, so you can look forward to further updates and discussions of what’s going on with 1879.

To that end, the next series of posts are going to delve into some of what will be in Fort Alice, giving you a taste of what’s in store. To start things off, I thought we’d cover a general state of the Gruv, going over how the stage is currently set primarily in colonial development and the war effort, as those are the biggest factors in the Gruv at the moment.

Our timeline has moved up roughly to the end of 1883 at this point. The British colonization of the Gruv carries on in force, and people flock through the Rabbit Hole on a daily basis, seeking to tame the wilds and claim new lands for themselves, discover new resources to develop and exploit, explore new areas and find hidden wonders, or just plain get out of London and go somewhere that has some air more suitable for breathing. New villages and towns are popping up all the time as people build communities around new resources that are found and the travel routes that connect them. Groups of people that find themselves oppressed or otherwise looked down upon on Earth come to the Gruv to form communities of their own, and free to create and exist by their own way of life. There is an appeal of colonizing a new world similar to what happened when the American colonies were formed, but enhanced by the fact that it doesn’t involve a months long journey over the ocean, just a train ride through the Rabbit Hole.

Not all of it is positive for these people, however. Aside from the usual hardships of building up civilization in an entirely uncultivated world, and the exacerbation that war imposes, the Gruv is entirely alien to anyone from Earth. Eclipses happen on a regular basis, given that there is a smaller, more intense sun and three orbiting bodies in the sky, which means everyone in the Gruv must have goggles on them at all times to prevent blindness when one comes up. The tectonic pressures on the Gruv are immense, and frequent earthquakes called the Shivers happen daily; shelves and cabinets require netting to keep things from falling, steps and ladders require extra care to be built secure with sufficient footing in the event of a quake, buildings and bridges must be made to withstand the shaking and occasionally fall down anyway. Other living things on the Gruv present threats too. Fierce and wild creatures roam the untamed lands, though it’s often the plant life that is even more dangerous. Night often is safer in the Gruv than the day time, as the more vicious plant species go dormant during the lack of sunlight, throwing much of instinctual evolution from living on Earth completely on its head.

As mentioned above, the war also takes its toll on people in the Gruv. The British have gone full force into the fight, fueled not only by the drive for territory, but by a moral imperative to end the threat of the Samsut and their practice of desecrating the dead to make soldiers and workers for themselves. Trench warfare has taken hold of most of the front line fighting, grinding progress to a halt as both sides struggle for every inch of ground, though recent developments have shifted that balance of power (more on that in later posts). What areas of conflict aren’t driven into the ground and creeping back and forth at a snail’s pace consist of thick forests where an understanding of ambush tactics and guerilla warfare are essential for survival. Soldiers must contend not only with the usual horrors of war, but with the additional trauma of potentially seeing their own fallen comrades turned to mindless servants of their enemy fighting against them. The additional psychological effects of this war are only starting to be studied, but in many cases are already being seen as profound.

The Samsut aren’t the only antagonists to this world either. Saurid tribes not allied with the British will perform raids on settlements and travel routes. In particular, the aquatic Saurids will set fire to and dismantle any ships bigger than a fishing boat that so much as come near the water, as well as the docks around them. Anyone unfortunate enough to be caught up in these raids may end up having their gnawed on bones returned in a pile on the shore as a warning to those foolish enough to try again. As to be expected, those people are becoming fewer and farther between. Not being able to get a ship in the water means the British war effort must rely almost entirely on ground movement, and given their tactical history being at their strongest when ground forces are supported by the navy, changes in strategy and logistics are needed. Airships help bridge the gap, but they are still limited in how much ordinance they can carry, and are prohibitively expensive to produce in bulk.

Central to all of this development is the railroad. The Alice and Gruv Railroad carries the lifeblood of connections between all major points in the Gruv. Of course, the majority of the direct funding from the Crown goes toward the military, with the remainder going towards communities who have a resource or industry that is considered essential to the war effort. Towns wishing to build themselves up that aren’t considered important enough must come up with the funds themselves to pay for a rail line to be added to their community. While expensive, it is most always worth the cost, as rail lines are not only the fastest method of travel available (aside from flying to avoid difficult terrain), they’re also the most capable of carrying massive loads of freight, bringing in needed supplies while also taking out produced goods to generate a profit. Despite the rail lines being regular targets for Samsut or Saurid enemies, on average they’re also the safest way to travel, as taking on a screaming metal behemoth of fire and steam is often enough to at least give such attackers pause. Even more so when trains are given armament and frequently have either professional soldiers or hired mercenaries for additional protection.

In short, the Gruv is a world filled to the brim with exciting potential, but also extreme danger. Whether you’re looking to make a profit, explore the unknown, or make an entirely new life for yourself, there’s something to draw in just about anyone. Even if your 1879 campaign is focused on exploring Earth and the possibilities created with the return of magic and new technology there, you’ll most likely still be able to find something in the Gruv that will grab your interest. The Fort Alice Sourcebook will provide details on what is available and resources on making them usable in a campaign. Over the next several blog posts, we’ll be delving into what some of these resources are and provide some previews of what you can expect. As we go through, if there are things you are particularly excited for and/or want to hear more about, let me know in the comments or on Discord.