In 1878 the Polish genius Rynchowski isolated an electrical fluid with remarkable lifting capabilities. A single, pivotal event that would change the world.
The smartest military minds of the coming generation—Zeppelin, Jellico, Fisher and others—diverted their attention to the glorious new technological revolution and sea-going battleships were abandoned around the world. In their place, armored giants took to the skies.
In 1906, Great Britain launched the HMS Leviathan, the first of the “super air ships”, sparking an arms race around the world. By 1910 the most powerful nations boasted large High Fleets, and the start of small skirmishes left the world uneasy…welcome to Leviathans!
Leviathans is a game in development by Catalyst Game Labs that simulates combat between warships that have taken to the air in an alternate history/steampunk 1910. The king leviathans, the battleships, are the largest vessels. Maneuvering in support are the smaller ships of light cruisers, destroyers, and others ships. Will you captain your fleet for king and country, expanding your nation’s power and becoming legend? Or will you fall from the sky, forgotten?
You will determine the outcome!
WHAT IS ALTERNATE HISTORY?
Alternate history focuses on a single point of divergence from the history of our own world, then develops that world as closely to real-world history as possible, while evolving into something unique because of the divergence point.
From Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle (1962) to Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (2007), a host of major writers have explored this theme. Starting in the 1990s, a boom of popular fiction versions of alternate history exploded on the scene and is still expanding.
The most prolific and widely accepted master of alternate history is Harry Turtledove, a NY Times bestselling author with dozens of novels to his credit in this genre.
WHAT IS STEAMPUNK?
At its core, steampunk is a subgenre of fantasy literature that includes technology powered by archaic methods (often, but not exclusively, steam) and an emphasis on hand-crafted, individually produced mechanical artifacts.
The actual application of steampunk in a medium (clothing, movies, games, literature and more) is wildly divergent. The roots of this genre revolve around the Victorian/Edwardian time frame; today’s technology seen through the eyes of the late 1800s/early 1900s, a time when science embraced the hope of the future.
The golden century of science fiction (the mid-20th century) promised awesome technological gadgets and the hope of a better tomorrow with less human misery and more triumph. Yet while today’s world has brought much of that technology into reality, the hope has vanished as our tomorrows look even darker than our today. Steampunk celebrates the concept of turning back the wheel, yet retaining the technology we love…of figuring out what went wrong and then doing it right.
The following are just a sampling of movies/TVs/computer games you may have seen/played/heard of, all of which have some aspects that makes them fall into “yeah, that’s steampunk”:
Movies/TV: Howl’s Moving Castle, The Prestige, The Golden Compass, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, 9, War of the Worlds: Goliath, Warhouse 13
Computer Games: Space: 1889, Final Fantasy IX (many in the series carried the aesthetic, but it’s most prevalent here), Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends, Bioshock, Arcanum; even World of Warcraft has a touch of steampunk.
For a larger discussion of steampunk and how it specifically applies to Leviathans, click here.
The following individuals make up part of the core Leviathans Crew developing the universe and game system.
Doug Chaffee’s artworks range from paintings for NASA, the military, and the book and gaming industries. His paintings are owned by top-ranking military officers, corporate executives and famous authors including Tom Clancy, as well as a shuttle astronaut. Chaffee did the official program painting for the Trident submarine and his work has hung in the Smithsonian, the JFK Building and the American Airlines museum, and has been featured in Air Force, Think, Newsweek and US News as well as several military and science magazines.
Randall N. Bills has worked in the Adventure Gaming industry for a decade and a half. With two Origins Awards and an En World Award to his credit, he’s lead the development and publication of over a hundred sourcebooks, rulebooks, box sets, and game aides. In an addition to writing eight novels and a host of on-line fiction, he’s been the continuity editor for over forty novels—as well as a half million words of online fiction—set in the sprawling, dynamic BattleTech universe, celebrating 25 years in 2009.
He’s currently the Managing Line Developer for Catalyst Game Labs, overseeing the strategic development of the perennial BattleTech and Shadowrun properties and coordinating the launch of a new novel publishing program. Additionally, he’s overseeing the development of several new core hobby related properties, as well as directly developing a host of casual games.
He’s the line developer for Leviathans.
Steven Mohan, Jr. is a writer and a former line officer in the United States Navy. He left the service as a lieutenant qualified in surface warfare and enlisted submarine warfare.
Steve has written more than a half-millions words for BattleTech, MechWarrior, Shadowrun, Eclipse Phase, and now, Leviathans. Catalyst Game Labs tapped him to write the lead publication of their new novel publishing program. A Bonfire of Worlds is due out in late 2009.
His original fiction has appeared in Interzone, Polyphony, and a number of DAW anthologies, as well as many other places. His stories have won honorable mention in The Year’s Best Science Fiction and The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and he’s a former nominee for the Pushcart Prize.
Blaine L. Pardoe is the author of over 50 books covering a broad range from science fiction to military history. He has been a writer in the BattleTech/MechWarrior line since the first technical readout.
Blaine is the author of two military non-fiction books, both covering naval warfare (The Cruise of the Sea Eagle) and aviation (Terror of the Autumn Skies) during the Great War. Blaine is a highly recognized 20th century military historian and has been a featured speaker at the U.S. National Archives, the U.S. Naval Museum, and the New York Military Affairs Symposium. Blaine has appeared on the O’Reilly Report, Fox News, MSNBC, NPR and CBS News and numerous radio programs speaking about his books.
He has another book coming out in the next year on World War One aviation, titled Final Fate. Blaine brings to Leviathans a strong background in the gaming industry combined with a keen understanding of history during this exciting period.
John Haward was born (according to carbon dating evidence) some time before the wooly mammoth became extinct on the icy plains of southern Ontario, Canada. Due to his father’s job as corporate razor-man for a multinational company, he spent the first twenty years of his life spending no more than 3-4 years on any one continent, finally settling in Australia.
John studied Meteorology at university, being (for some years in the 1980s) Australia’s leading expert on the paleoclimate of the planet Mars (due mainly to lack of competition).
A long-term wargame grognard, the first wargame he purchased was Jutland by Avalon Hill, marking his lifelong passion for giant floating things with guns. He was introduced to RPGs at University, yet avoid the whole LARP thing thanks to a chance encounter with a boxed game bearing the image of a Macross Excalibur on the cover, under the name Battledroids. This marked the beginning of a lifelong passion for giant stompy robots with guns which continues to this day.
He’s a minor minion, occasional fact-checker/contributor and frequent nuisance to The Powers That Be of Catalyst Game Labs. So when inspiration struck in 2008, it was only fitting that he send an email entitled “A Modest Proposal” to Catalyst, and thus was born Leviathans.
Jim Rapkins started wargaming with FASA’s BattleTech back in the 80’s, before moving onto other games like Advanced Squad Leader and Warhammer 40K. University brought about a hiatus in gaming, and an increased interest in low-intensity conflicts, specifically those fought in the post-Vietnam era. Studying Politics and International Relations, Jim developed a keen interest in the Transcaucasus and break-up of the former Soviet Union.
It was this interest that led to positions working with several commercial computer wargames developers, most notably John Tiller’s Squad Battles series for HPS Simulations. This experience led to further roles working with professional milsims developers, with a specific focus on Operations Other Than War (OOTW).
Returning to his wargaming roots, in mid-2006 Jim started as a writer, fact-checker and general gofer for the then FanPro US BattleTech line. Since then he has worked on numerous projects for Catalyst Games Labs, often bemoaning the time difference between his native Australia and the Pacific Northwest.
When not working, Jim can be found holding onto what little hope remains for supporters of the Melbourne Football Club.