My Hot Little (Virtual) Hands Wednesday, Apr 21 2010 

Apologies to all and sundry, but today’s Gateau Method article will be a little late. I met a stunning influenza at a wedding a week and a half ago, and we’ve been rolling around in bed together ever since. (Incidentally: congratulations, Dan and Claire! Best! Wedding! Evah!)

But what’s really stopped me in my tracks is the PDF release of Delta Green: Targets of Opportunity, which I downloaded about an hour ago. I’m so excited about this that I’d almost wet myself—if Jewel wasn’t sitting directly beneath my chair and didn’t have a history of attempting to shred my genitals with her razor-sharp claws.

It’s finally here! It’s a couple of days later than expected, but seriously, after two years, what’s a couple of days? Poor Shane Ivey (the project’s editor) has been posting brief updates to the Delta Green mailing list over the past few days, and they read like he could use a house call from Dr Herbert West—he’s done an awesome job, but there’s still the hardback to come in a couple of months. I’m sure I’ll be just as excited when that makes its way to me through the mail.

In other news, I start work at Centrelink next Tuesday. Whilst I’ve been less than charitable with my opinion of Centrelink in the past, I really am looking forward to working for them.  Our old office in Sydney was so poor—and they lost our documentation so many times—that Mim and I would take a 30 km round-trip out of our way to their Sutherland office in order to get anything done. In contrast, the Cowra office has been wonderful and their service has been impeccable. Is it a country-town thing? I dunno.

I’m sure I’ll have more to tell on both Centrelink and Targets of Opportunity in the coming days…


United States Colour-Coded War Plans Saturday, Apr 17 2010 

Not a War Plan—until such time as DARPA perfects the gay bomb, of course.

See here for a brief introduction to the Gateau Method.

Back when we looked at War Plan Red, I hinted that the US had come up with a number of other “coloured” War Plans in the 1920s and 1930s. Twelve plans in total were drawn up to deal with wartime contingencies:

  • Black: the invasion of Germany, in the event that France fell during WWI, and Germany attacked the eastern US or tried to take possession of French colonies in the Caribbean.
  • Brown: the suppression of rebellion in the Philippines.
  • Gray: a generic plan for the invasion of a Caribbean republic. (Note that during much of the early 20th Century, a good number of Caribbean republics were already US-occupied.)
  • Green: invasion of Mexico to suppress rebel forces and install a pro-American puppet government.
  • Indigo: occupation of Iceland.
  • Orange: war with Japan; a combined Plan Orange-Red existed until the Anglo-Japanese alliance ceased in 1924.
  • Purple: another generic plan, this time dealing with the invasion of a South American republic.
  • Red: war with Great Britain. (Note that the text of Plan Crimson—the part of Red which dealt with the invasion of Canada—may be found here.)
  • Tan: intervention in Cuba (which, again, was US-occupied for much of the first half of the 20th Century).
  • Violet: like Gray or Purple, only this time dealing with Central America.
  • White: dealing with a domestic uprising, probably by Communists; historically, parts have been used during the Bonus Army uprising and pretty much every major disaster or civil disturbance on US soil since.
  • Yellow: intervention in China during the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945.

In addition, rumours circulate concerning a number of additional War Plans. Many of these, particularly those dealing with nations of the British Commonwealth, take their names from colour designations other War Plans, such as Emerald (Irish Free State), Garnet (New Zealand), Ruby (India) or Scarlet (Australia). Non-Commonwealth areas included Citron (Brazil), Gold (France and its possessions), Lemon (Portugal), Olive (Spain), Pink (the Soviet Union), Silver (Italy) and Violet (China, but with regard to intervention in internal conflicts). Some areas share their hypothetical colours with others already listed: Brown for the Dutch East Indies, Gray for the Azores archipelago and Purple for the Soviet Union (again). In all these cases—actual and hypothetical—the US designated itself Blue. More details can be found in this article and this one, too.

Towards the end of the 1930s, the Joint Planning Board (later to become the Joint Chiefs of Staff) scrapped the coloured plans and replaced them with five Rainbow Plans:

  • Rainbow 1: enforcement of the Monroe Doctrine, extending to latitude 10°S; this plan also preceded all other Rainbow Plans.
  • Rainbow 2: the suppression of European Fascist powers with the assistance of France and Great Britain; under this plan, the US was also to maintain dominance over the Pacific Ocean.
  • Rainbow 3: invasion of the western Pacific and US hegemony over the entire western hemisphere.
  • Rainbow 4: occupation of the southern end of South America, followed by a naval invasion of Japan, once the situation in the Atlantic allowed naval forces to be transferred to the Pacific Theatre.
  • Rainbow 5: invasion of Africa and/or Europe with the assistance of Great Britain and France.

All of this gives us an opportunity to further examine the state of the Gateau Method world.

India has already been covered in broad strokes, but other flashpoints no doubt exist elsewhere in the world, particularly in China. As we know it, China probably wouldn’t exist as a single, unified state. Most of the east and northeast of the country would be under Japanese control, with enclaves of southeast China ruled by France and Britain. Other segments might possibly be American protectorates, guarded by US Forces for the benefit of a reinvigorated and reintegrated Standard Oil, or smaller German- and American-controlled industrial giants. The north would fall at the edges of the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence, whilst much of Tibet and the west would be a seething mess of petty empires, each ruled by its own warlord, much as China was in our own timeline, prior to the Civil War.

The Philippines are torn between Japanese-backed insurgency, and pro-American loyalists, petitioning for full statehood. Indochina is still mostly French, but its own insurgency boils beneath the surface. The Dutch East Indies have become the Republic of Indonesia, although this was more due to the collapse of Dutch overlordship than any actual struggle for independence—the Japanese never invaded—and Indonesia carefully considers both potential British suzerainty and a future political union with Malaya.

The Middle East is a hodgepodge of puppet-states, most notably the pro-American kingdom of Persia. Nonetheless, much of western Asia and northern Africa are still European possessions. Italy chafes at the British conquest of Libya. The fires of pan-Arabism burn hotter in the Gateau Method world, leading to a stronger, more unified Ba’athist movement, and a spectre of Arab terrorism that rises nearly two decades earlier than in our own timeline.

Much of Africa remains under British and French rule, although larger, more self-sufficient nations such as Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa have varying degrees of autonomy. Nonetheless, the Mau Mau Revolt is underway, despite wider and more brutal British reprisals; the horror of the emergency in Kenya inspires other colonies to throw off the European yoke.

Germany has absorbed the Netherlands and parts of Belgium; other parts are now under French control, and it has ceased to exist as more than a historical curiosity. The Nordic countries strenuously maintain their neutrality, and the states to Germany’s east are battlegrounds for endless intrigues between Germany and Russia. Small portions of eastern France find themselves under German and Italian control, but by-and-large, the French maintain their borders with the Central European powers with greater strength than in our timeline.

Spain and Portugal—though technically neutral—look as though they might support the German-Italian-American alliance in times of war, although Spain is suspicious of the Americans given the past few decades in the Caribbean.

Aruba and the Dutch Antilles are now German territory, but the rest of the Caribbean region falls under greater or lesser degrees of American control. Likewise, the Central American isthmus comprises a series of banana republics; notably, however, Costa Rica proudly maintains its independence. Surinam is another windfall for Germany, and French and British Guyanas are both under American control, but for the large part, South American nations remain carefully neutral with regard to world events. Despite their leaders’ best efforts, Marxism thrives in Latin America, and the threat of American imperialism has made the region the most prolific source of anti-US terrorists.

Canada now has some nominal autonomy and has been grudgingly “liberated” from the Crown; nonetheless, much of its radioactive remains are uninhabitable and large portions of the eastern half are under American control. Somehow, the tiny French dependency of St Pierre and Miquelon survived intact, albeit because nobody in America even realised it was there until after the Armistice was signed.

Thus, the US has largely achieved its dream of banishing Europe from the Americas.

Eternal Flame Wednesday, Apr 14 2010 

Eternal Flame Falls, Orchard Park NY

See here for a brief introduction to the Gateau Method.

Let me make this clear from the outset: this post is not about the Bangles’ song, which is fortunate because I can’t get it out of my head at the moment.

Legend has it that people began using eternal flames as memorials when Moses built the Tabernacle during the Exodus from Egypt; the Tabernacle found a permanent home in Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. Other religious traditions had similar practices: the Vestal Virgins tended a flame in Rome, the Delphic Oracle maintained another, and eternal flame still features prominently in Zoroastrian and some Hindu worship.

These days, however, most artificial eternal flames stand to honour the dead, particularly those killed in times of war. Natural eternal flames are usually due to the ignition of large subterranean sources of fossil fuels, such as the Eternal Flame Falls (above), Turkmenistan’s Door to Hell or Australia’s Burning Mountain, which has been alight for some 6000 years.

Whilst the K’n-yanis may depend on fossil fuels, they’re less reliant than the United States; in a doomsday scenario, they might be tempted to literally enact a scorched-earth strategy by igniting the petrochemical deposits over their heads. Perhaps they use this threat to deter the US’ planned inundation of their subterranean realm?

On the other hand, the Silver Shirts‘ nationalism may well have an environmental bent—as many early Fascist groups’ did—so they might come to regard sites such as Eternal Flame Falls as sacred. Such a site would see a number of ceremonial uses, from initiations, to memorial services, to devotional rites celebrating both the grandeur of God’s creation and the symbols of his Paradise-on-Earth: New America.

The Person from Porlock Saturday, Apr 10 2010 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

See here for a brief introduction to the Gateau Method.

In autumn 1797, Samuel Taylor Coleridge awoke from an opium-induced slumber to pen his famous poem Kubla Khan, or a Vision in a Dream:

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

Unfortunately, as Coleridge penned the poem’s fifty-fourth line, he was interrupted by an unwanted visit from an unnamed person from Porlock, a village on the nearby Somerset coast. All sorts of conjectural identities have been assigned to the enigmatic visitor from Porlock; whomever they may have been, they rapidly became a literary trope.

But what if the Person wasn’t really a person at all? What if they were some sort of supernatural mercenary, taking payment in order to stalk the brilliant and disrupt their thoughts before they can even fully form. Perhaps Doc Brown isn’t absent-minded at all—he’s just the victim of repeated attacks from this preternatural predator.

So who sent the Person? Someone from the government, desperate to keep state secrets under raps? The K’n-yanis, hoping to keep the surface peoples’ technology in check? Or maybe even Brown himself, aware that his inventions could do terrible harm in the wrong hands?

How do the PCs contact the Person to call off the attacks? And what sort of payment does he, she or it demand?

Veerappan Wednesday, Apr 7 2010 

See here for a brief introduction to the Gateau Method.

Koose Muniswamy Veerappan Gounder, better known simply as Veerappan, was one of modern India’s most notorious bandit warlords, responsible for at least 184 murders, as well as kidnapping, elephant poaching, and smuggling vast amounts of ivory and sandalwood. His many victims included police, forestry officials, informers and high-profile targets such as movie stars and former government ministers.

Veerappan’s motive was apparently revenge—he blamed police for the deaths of his brother and sister—and ostensibly to champion the poor. He was also an ardent devotee of the Hindu goddess Kali. He rapidly developed a “Robin Hood” image, and his cult of personality was such that numerous films have been made about his life, featuring him both as hero and antagonist, many whilst he was still alive.

Despite the size of his band—at times numbering hundreds of troops—Veerappan and two accomplices were ambushed and killed by Tamil Nadu state police in 2004.

We very briefly covered India here, but let’s have a closer look. In the Gateau Method world, the subcontinent is still (barely) under British control. India is the jewel in the Imperial Crown, but that jewel is about to shatter into a multitude of pieces. Remember that historically, British India consisted of native “protectorates” and areas directly administered by the Crown, and spanned not only what we think of today as India, but also Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar (Burma) and parts of Afghanistan.

Not only do men like Gandhi agitate for independence from the Crown, but internal ethnic, social and religious conflicts rage across the territories. The worst offenders are sent to the penal colony in the Andaman Islands, where thousands of Indian political prisoners have died under the pitiless gaze of British warders; even if they can escape the colony, there’s disease and cannibals and then some 300 kilometres of open ocean to overcome before reaching the Irrawaddy delta.

Although America and Germany publicly support Indian independence, nominally neutral Russia actually supplies the most aid to rebels. Through contested territory in Tibet and western China, the Soviets covertly supply Marxist dacoits—bandit warlords—with the weapons and expertise they need to overthrow not only British rule but also the many layers of corrupt Indian bureaucracy without which the Raj would crumble from within. Although often led by members of the high-born Kshatriya varna (which traditionally formed the bulk of armies in India), these militias also attract vast numbers of Dalits and other low-born Indians, who see Communism as an escape from millennia of caste-based oppression.

Thus, Gateau Method India takes on many attributes of our timeline’s Indochina, save that the British—rather than the French and Americans—struggle to hold onto their colonies. Even if a man of Gandhi’s charisma or Ho Chi Minh’s ruthlessness could keep India intact as it separates from the Crown, he’d struggle to keep such a vast, sprawling and most importantly diverse nation from years of brutal civil war.

But in the process, he’d deal a telling blow to the British Empire.

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