Notes: Atlas Adventures is set in a world very similar to ours, but nevertheless a fictional version of it. The campaign world you will play in is based on real-life 1911 Morocco, but is our own version of it with new rules, possibilities, and maybe even a different past and future. In general, real-life history is the same as game history, except as otherwise defined in this book or during events. There is no guarantee that history once we begin game play will proceed as it does in real history books. In fact, as you interact with and change the Atlas Adventures world, it is very likely that it will not.
Puerto de Maio is colloquially pronounced "poo-EHR-toh MAH-ee-oh". The "de" is dropped.
Morocco, 1911: The great powers of the world are engaged in bitter political struggles over foreign holdings across the globe, and nowhere is the rivalry of these wealthy, influential nations clearer than in Morocco. Situated at the top of Northern Africa, Morocco forms the southern shore of the Straits of Gibraltar, a narrow seaway that separates Europe from Africa and is critical to one of the most important trade routes of the time. Trade means money; Africa is a new land to be explored, civilized, and exploited. Morocco is the gateway to all this and more. Spain, France, Britain, America, Germany: There is hardly a modern nation that hasn't made its presence felt in this mysterious land. Competition for export goods, land holdings, trade rights, ancient treasures, diplomatic influence, and historical discoveries has driven each nation to contribute a significant consular corps to the country, which extends from the start of the Atlas Mountain Range in the northeast to the Western Sahara in the southwest. The notion that in truth, the nations vie in Marrakech and Rabat, in Tangiers and Fez and Casablanca to establish the Kingdom of Morocco as their own protectorate and colony is on the lips of every native, even the Sultan. It may be true.
But some places in Morocco hold a draw even beyond exotic treasures and cultural curiosity. Prompted by the dual discovery of a powerful and magical Locus point as well as extensive ancient crypts on the island of Puerto de Maio, a University Consortium Project is underway there. A collaboration between Oxford University in England, Harvard University in America, and The Sorbonne in France, the Consortium plans to fund several research departments in Puerto de Maio, offering grants for studies in a broad range of topics, including Ancient Studies (offering Archaeology, Egyptology, Classics, and (reportedly) Magic), Galvanism, Philosophy, Anthropology, Necrology, and Metaphysics (including Phrenology, Cryptozoology, Geomancy, Mesmerism and Spiritualism). Leaders in each field have been recruited from the Consortium Universities and others to found this project. Researchers, scientists, academics, students, and interested professionals and amateur colleagues from all walks of life in Europe and the Americas have begun flocking to the region to participate and observe. Puerto de Maio's unusually diverse natural and cultural history lends itself readily to extensive study by all of the University Departments. Moreover, the Sultan has recently allowed licensing for foreign parties to excavate the labyrinth of crypts situated under the town; preliminary reports indicate that these ancient sites were constructed prior to 2000 BCE when the Egyptian Empire extended into North Africa, but most portions have yet to be dated or even unearthed.
Naturally, the eruption of activity, news and gossip in Puerto de Maio has aroused to action a great many others who are keen on the prospect of adventure, knowledge, and profit. Art dealers, publishers, and wealthy patrons of all kinds have arrived to calculate the opportunities inherent in such collaboration. Importers and exporters of fine goods, collectors of antiquities, connoisseurs, treasure hunters, and independent experts have already sent reports of inestimable fortunes to be had. The famous British Adventurer's Club has organized a permanent presence and is actively recruiting in Puerto de Maio; the game hunting branch of the Club has been scouting the surrounding forests as well. It is rumored that its most renowned members, such as Commander Robert Peary, Nellie Bly, and Sir Ernest Shackleton, have taken a close interest in the region. Daily, members of the international Press Corps arrive, and journalists, photographers, chroniclers, and correspondents of all kinds have begun wiring fantastic and, at times, scarcely believable reports.
On the perhaps less surprising side, word of petty crime and some civil unrest in Puerto de Maio has reached the public. Some of the tumult seems to stem from typically mundane disorderliness, such as thievery, trading in illegal goods, and other avocations in which the n'er-do-well typically finds amusement and profit. More worrisome is the rumor of growing tension between diplomatic missions in the region, most notably the consular corps of Spain, France, Britain and the Americas (most of which include at least a token "protective" military presence). Of late, French Foreign Legionnaires have been mentioned in the news for skirmishing with various parties - mostly in the local recreation establishment. A war in between Moroccan tribes competing for control of Puerto de Maio rages on the nearby mainland. There have also been inconsistent and conflicting wire bulletins that the native population, or the ruling Sultanate of Morocco (or both), may be showing signs of apprehension regarding the large influx of influential, wealthy and powerful nations in their midst. Disturbing and darker rumors of violence in the area have emerged, ranging from unusually vicious local wildlife, to strange and fearsome Occult activities, to tales of mythological figures that have been revived with the surge of interest in the area. Still other reports describe alarming attacks but do not seem to name their source. Thus, a number of military personnel, bodyguards, and professional soldiers have come to Puerto de Maio to offer their services to those who may require them. An interesting challenge to these martial men and women is the complete failure to operate of most modern weaponry (indeed, of most mechanized devices altogether) in Puerto de Maio - a mystery, it seems, to be unraveled by those more mechanically apt (see below). As one might expect, the militarily-inclined have stalwartly replaced modern conveniences such as the repeating sidearm with more outdated but serviceable weapons, such as swords, hunting pikes, and single-shot pistols.
With the need for arms surely comes the need for medicine, and local embassies and organizations are said to be sending requests for additional physicians and other medical staff to see to the proper treatment of the community. Doctors and researchers in the area apparently have found a variety of flora from which beneficial new poultices and extracts are being made. It also appears that the more intrepid in the medical field are considering a creative approach to their work in Morocco: some visiting physicians are said to be considering contacting local inhabitants, particularly the ancient Berber tribes, to gather information on their traditional medicine. This quaint notion may provide a fascinating look into the practices of a population not yet arrived into Modern Times, and there is no doubt in the minds of visitors that advanced Continental medicine will benefit the native people.
The press in Morocco has also sent word of several landmarks noted in Puerto de Maio. These include a venue referred to only as the Theatre Moderne. Rumor of the owners and performances are varied and thin, but all accounts name the entertainment strange, fantastical and at times magical, dazzling audiences and mystifying the more scientific-minded. Reports also say the entertainers' pay is very good - steamers to Puerto de Maio are said to be flooded with artists, from American suitcase vaudevillians to Paris Cancan Girls to turbaned Clairvoyants. Another landmark of note seems to be a very large Clocktower in the midst of the city, the surface of which is covered in an intricate, unfinished gearworks. Information on this curiosity is the most scant of all, but descriptions claim that it seems to keep a form of time that defies explanation. One theory suggests that the total malfunction of all but the most basic motorized and mechanized devices that has plagued visitors to the area may indeed be related to proximity to the Clocktower. This revelation has lured many mechanical engineers and designers to Puerto de Maio, who have discovered quite a large and unexpected cache of disassembled gearworks amongst the various ancient and ancestral sites in the area. The brightest Engineering minds are said already to have descended on Puerto de Maio to investigate the Clocktower, as well as to research and design mechanized devices that can be used successfully in the vicinity. University Galvanists and Engineers have begun studying this find as well.
Those trained in Mentalism, Spiritualism and Magical and Occult Arts also have reason to take note of Puerto de Maio. The presence of a large graveyard with markers ranging in period from ancient to modern-day has excited the interest of many whose stated talents lie in contacting the World Beyond. Individuals claiming to be talented in these mystical pursuits report that the region has a rare abundance of spiritual energy available both for the martial forms of Mentalism, and for those who wish to commune with spirits for informative purposes. According to Geomancers and other experts, Puerto de Maio is also home to a Locus point, which reportedly allows those with mystic abilities (and, oddly, skilled entertainers) to restore the spirit of a dead person back to its body, bringing the person back to life. Despite growing evidence, the controversy in academic circles over whether such fields of study are even legitimate continues, and only further experience in the area will bear out the truth. What is clear is that reports made on a related topic by credible archaeologists are true: a large collection of heretofore unknown Magical Incantations has been unearthed, more than doubling the world's store of previously-known enchantments. These new invocations have been circulated among scholars of the field and are already in use. The discovery has drawn an ever-growing multitude of scholars and treasure-hunters to the island, eager to unearth even more of these treasures.
Copyright © 2003 Atlas Adventures. All rights reserved. Reproduction is forbidden without express written permission from Atlas Adventures.