Serial Settings 1: Ubiquity ~ Week 44

The entry this week for Serial Setting 1 for Ubiquity further details a peculiar and somewhat rare effect of the South Pacific anomaly on the beautiful yet deadly Windlet Islands. The Serial Settings series of posts is intended to provide usable setting material for busy GMs. Series 1 is for those looking to run Daring Tales of Adventure or Hollow Earth Expedition.

44) South Pacific Anomaly – Strickland’s Lights, Windlet Island Chain

The Windlet Isles can seem deceptive to newcomers, with painful death lurking beneath every glorious blossom. Thanks to the concerted and ongoing efforts of Hatcher Strickland fewer and fewer newcomers have to learn that painful death can be found in the blossoms themselves.

Strickland, the titular head of Settlement and Company civil engineering concerns, is more of a field man than an administrator. Delegating the mundane, desk-bound tasks to trusted aides, he spends the bulk of his time actively at work with his teams, recreating the populated areas of the islands with more Eden and less death.

Despite his dedication and daily contributions to the communities on the Islands, Hatcher Strickland is known more for a discovery he made on his second day on Greater Windlet, more than 20 years ago; a phenomena now referred to as Strickland’s lights.

Visible at times in foggy patches at sea around the reefs, but more often inland in some of the more hellish stretches of jungle, Strickland’s lights are not unlike the will o’ the wisps of legend. Glowing a haunting green and seeming to drift just ahead of the viewer, the lights resemble nothing so much as the light of a lantern moving tantalizingly just out of earshot through the heavy growth of trees, creepers, and vines.

A more extreme version of this effect was discovered by Strickland and his team near the summit of Mount Cairn while doing the survey for the airship mooring tower, which with a little careful navigation and trimming of trees could have been visible from the main pier of the settlement, but much to Strickland’s dismay, the construction of the facility atop Mount Cairn seems to have disrupted or prevented the conditions which lead to the effect. A similar reduction in frequency for the inland phenomena has also been noted, since the completion and subsequent expansion of the Fence system – to the point where some locals have never seen the effect, and believe it is just a prank played by the surveyors.

The seaborne effect was also much rarer, but early visits to the island by Company ships reference the effect, and cite using it as a navigation aid more than once during periods of heavy, unnatural fog. Such fogs have not been seen since those early days of exploration.

Strickland’s name came to be associated with the lights after he issued a very stern public safety notice declaring that under no circumstances should anyone follow the lights into the jungle. With the advent of the Fence, it is practically impossible for anyone to do so by accident, but Fence Guards are expected to issue an advisory about the lights (which they may or may not do in actuality) to any who request permission to access the interior.

Usual Suspects:  Hatcher Strickland

Hatcher Strickland is a hearty man in his late 50’s with a military bearing, iron-grey hair in a severe brush cut, and piercing green eyes that miss very little. He works hard, and expects instant obedience from his crews. Those who can keep up with him find him to be staunchly loyal, and protective. Those who cannot, find themselves transferred to a department more in keeping with their talents – without animosity or second chances.

Strickland hails from Detroit, but has not left the islands since he completed the initial surveys. He has never married, and keeps a small, virtually empty house not far from the Three Brothers’. Those closest to him say that his bags are always packed and he acquires nothing he does not need for his work. They say he could up and leave the island on 5 minutes notice and leave nothing behind. His bags are already packed.

Rumours:  Usually heard among Fence Guards and work crews

  • He is the most frequent guest at the Administrator’s home
  • He once euthanized a research scientist that tangled with a venomous lizard on Mount Cairn
  • He has been planning a new approach to the Fence design, but has hit a snag
  • He believes all children should be removed from the settlements, but protects them fiercely
  • He is the most demanding survival instructor on the Company training rotation
  • He is a major investor in the company
  • He was wounded in an expedition and is not fully a man anymore
  • He believes the Fence is only necessary because of human stupidity

3 Responses to “Serial Settings 1: Ubiquity ~ Week 44”
  1. A little something to help you with setting the scene in Shanghai is on the way, Runeslinger: I loned you “Beyond the Neon Lights” for Kindle. You can view it for 2 weeks. You should be getting the email any time.


    • Runeslinger says:

      This has been a great book to read! Thanks a lot for loaning it to me~
      If you are into old SF, I would be more than happy to return the favour. I’m still building my Kindle library. When I finish the book I am reading now, it’s on to Cawnpore next.

      I believe you know the author of that one intimately… 😉

  2. Runeslinger says:

    Thanks a lot! That one has felt the pressure of my eye on it for quite some time~ I find I am liking Kindle more and more. The loan feature is excellent!

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