History


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I have a class I teach that deals with time and the creation of “time” as we think of it, but this video is a pretty good primer for those that haven’t thought about it.

Time standardization wasn’t a thing until 1847, when the railways in England needed to simplify their scheduling. As the video points out, most towns set their clocks from the point the sun was the highest in the sky. But even in a small area like Britain, the difference between noon in Yarmouth and noon in, say, Penzance — a whole 120 or so miles from one side of the island to the other — is different. Train schedules necessitated time be “standardized” in Britain.

This is why the scheme was known as “railway time.” For those of you running games before 1847, there’s no time zones. There’s no fixed time save local; there were trains, however, and getting to a place when you thought you would was often problematic. You might wind up spending an evening on a railroad bench waiting for the next train because it left a few minutes before you arrived.

By 1855, all of Britain was on GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), but Time Zones as we know it didn’t come into being until 1883 when the American rail companies adopted the “one hour” time zone similar to what we know today. Most of the world was on some form of standardized time zones by 1900, but there were loads of local variations. In the US, actual implementation of the StandardTime Act was in 1918, so even those with Victorian or Wild West period games can work this in — it might be noon on the town clock, but it’s 11:45 on the rail platform.

 

Here’s a documentary Back to the Source from the Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) regarding how traditional views of sword fighting were crafted by stage and movie performance, not reality.

Here’s a site with flooplans for an assortment of pre-WWI apartment buildings in New York City that should be useful for pulp games set in the 1920-1940s.

Maybe she wasn’t based specifically on Doyle, or the hundreds of other women that served in OSS, SOE, and other agencies during the war, but it’s a worth title.

The young New Zealander Doyle joined Women’s Auxiliary Air Corps in 1941 following the death of her godmother’s father — whom she considered her grandfather — by Nazis. She was quickly recruited into the Special Operations Executive and her most famous exploit was parachuting in behind enemy lines prior to the Normandy invasion, where she posed as a French girl named Paulette. She bicycled around the combat zone selling soap to Germans and collecting intelligence on them. Her 135 messages helped craft the battle plan for D-Day. She frequently lived off the land. Her combat skills were on par with male agents. She was taught by a cat burglar to scale buildings.

She didn’t tell her kids about any of this until 1999 when a son discovered her story while researching D-Day. And just this November, after 70 years, she was awarded the Chevalier French Legion of Honour Medal, one of the highest military awards the French have.

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Then there’s the rest of them…

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You can read more about her here.

Something for the Hollow Earth Expedition crowd:

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