IntroductionIntrigue in the Clouds is set in the Victorian age of a world similar in many respects to our own, but different in a few crucial ways.
Politics and HistoryIn the world of Intrigue, the Egyptian Pharaohs continue to rule an independent Egyptian nation. It has remained independent for millennia under the Pharoahs except for a brief time a century ago when Egypt was conquered by the French armies of Napoleon Bonaparte (Emperor Napoleon I) and the Pharaoh was forced to flee. The French looted Egypt of many treasures and much of its wealth before they were forced to abandon Egypt during France’s European wars.
The Pharaohs have never forgiven their grievances against the Napoleons, and relations between the two dynasties remain strained. Egypt, however, lacks the wealth, the armies and the technology it would need to battle the mighty French war machine. Egypt does, however, sit in a strategic location in an age of world spanning empires, and so cannot be ignored by the Great Powers.
Napoleon Bonaparte (Emperor Napoleon the First) survived his Waterloo, and remained on the throne of France. His heirs, including the present Emperor Napoleon, have ruled France since that time. France has the largest armies in Europe, if not the world.
France is now challenged for dominance on the European continent by the mighty Prussian Empire, which has been assembled in the past century from a number of the Germanic kingdoms. As Prussia expanded to the west, there were inevitable frictions with France. The Franco-Prussian war ended inconclusively several years ago, but hostilities between the two rival nations could re-ignite at any time. Prussia’s Kaiser is young and ambitious. The Prussian army, while not yet as large as the French, is modern and efficient.
The nation we know as Great Britain is known in the world of Intrigue as Britannia. Victoria is its Queen. It is a Great Power, whose strength lies in its navy, and its world spanning empire (on which the sun never sets). Great Britain has long counted on the geographic protection of being an island to keep it safe from its European rivals. The power of France along with the rise of Prussia today make that security dubious, particularly considering the development of airships and their military potential.
Prussia, France, Britannia, and the aging Austrian Empire are the dominant European powers, existing in a precarious balance of power that might tip at any moment. Each uses diplomacy and secret agents to prevent the others from gaining any advantage, while searching for a military advantage that will give them victory when the war inevitably comes.
TechnologyThe technology of this modern age is similar to that of our world, with a few significant differences. There are airships – lighter than air vessels that can traverse the world. These have only become practical in the past few years. There are commercial vessels like the Royal Victoria, but also military vessels, the full potential of which is only now being realized.
One of the unexpected consequences of the development of airships, has been the appearance of a few airship-based pirates, such as the notorious Jeanne LeFoot, who have preyed on both airships and seagoing vessels.
The wireless telegraph has also recently been invented, allowing instantaneous transmission of telegrams, without wires!
Weird inventions, like those of pulp fiction, may also be possible.
As in our history, the world of Intrigue contains those, like the notorious Alexander Crawley, who claim that there are genuine occult powers in the world. Most sensible people, however, do not accept such fanciful notions.