a 4th of july special! some ideas include Washington being visited by a angel (a Weeping one though this was more of a vision) at Valley Forge, the battle of Saratoga, and of course a Britain wins alternate history. You guys can suggest Ideas here
I believe the Laws of Alternate History require me to bring up the Ferguson Rifle, given it's such a popular 'What If'. Patrick Ferguson a British Army and an amateur inventor. He developed a reasonably effective system for sealing the breech end of a rifle after loading it, a great improvement on wither the muzzle loading rifles (accurate, slow to load) or muzzle loading smoothbore muskets (quick-ish to load but inaccurate beyond 60-80m). He has a number manufactured at his own expense. They saw limited use during the American Revolution but after Ferguson was wounded his experimental company was disbanded. The rifle appeared as a significant Jonbar Hinge in Stirling's Draka alternate history series and was also used by David Weber (though that was in the six hands of an alien race). A possibly more interesting historical divergence was at the Battle of Brandywine (11 September 1777) where Ferguson may have had the chance to shoot George Washington.
Now earlier this evening I was watching part of the documentary about Washington and one point struck me (other than that he was a mediocre commander, but I knew that); he started the pivotal 'French & Indian War' pretty much by a mix of accident and incompetence with the Jumonville Affair (wiki). Oh the possibilities....
Then there's stopping the French stirring up trouble with the rebellious colonials; without French support (especially gunpowder, ships and muskets) the colonists bid for independence was doomed.
On a different note: I give you the Silversmith. He was a silversmith by trade, though most of his work was in copper or iron, but also the first forensic dentist in the USA; he fought with his father over religion and was one of the ringleaders in the Boston Tea Party; he introduced new methods of labour organisation and industrial practice that revolutionised metalworking in the new United States. Twice he rode to rouse the colonial militia against British attacks, though the first (in December 1774) was a false alarm, and many of the hundreds of church bells he cast are still in use. His engraving of the Boston Massacre was accepted as being such an accurate depiction of the incident it was used in court. Politically he was a fervent Federalist. He was Paul Revere.
General ideas. 1. Meddling: to ensure the British win, or the nascent United States develop in a different manner.
2. Cpunter-meddling: to prevent the above.
3. Counter-counter-meddling: Time Agents from a future where the ARW went differently pop back to stop other time travellers from 'fixing' history.
4. Intruders from another world: all this dangerous meddling in the past have weakened the structure of reality. Now people from other versions of (let us say) 1768 Boston, cuasing consternation and confusion.The party must find tehweak point(s), construct a MacGuffin to close them and rescue those PCs (and NPCs) who've wander into a different Boston or been kidnapped by a local crime lord who's engaging in para-temporal smuggling, of arms from a world where the conical rifle bullet has been developed...
5. A spot of looting: there was a fair bit of violence during the prelude to the ARW (the "Sons of Liberty" were thugs). For example the looting and destruction on 26AUG1765 of the house of Thomas Hutchinson (lieutenant governor of Massachusetts and Chief Justice of the colony). Money and property were stolen the house was desastated and his unique manuscript and notes for his 'History of the Massachusetts Bay Colony' was burned. Boston's finest manions was reduced to a pile of rubble. (wiki) Governor Bernard ordered the drummers to beat the alarm for the militia but was told by Sheriff Greenleaf that the militia were amongst the looters.
6. A bomb detonates in The Bunch of Grapes tavern (32-34 North Queen Street, Boston) one autumn evening in 1765. The building is demolished and many are killed, amonst them Ben Edes, Ebenezer Macintosh, Sam Adams, Samuel Swift, Benjamin Church, John Hancock, James Otis, Paul Revere, Joseph Warren and Isaiah Thomas. PLus dozens more. The large three story brick building is reduced to rubble. The authorities suspect gunpowder was being stored in the cellars, many barrels of it from the violence of the detonation. But the detonation was unusually violent, and almost smokeless.What happened?
7. Fellow Travellers I: while visiting colonial New York (or elsewhere) the part notice some odd behaviour by a small group who claim to be merchants from Europe. Surveillance or the use of ultra-tech sensors detect some emanations from the rooms that appear to be anachronistic? Who are they and what are they up to? Well they're jaded tourists from the future, here to savour the sights (and smells) of the distant past. Soon the colonies will erupt into rioting and they'll be watching. Unfortunately the local patriots have also noticed some oddities of behaviour (perhaps their language skills aren't quite right) and are suspicious of spies. Or perhaps the British authorities are taking an interest. Or both.
8. Fellow Travellers II: a criminal (Harlequin?) or group of criminals (the Alexandrian Society perhaps?) are in town to steal something. Perhaps they plan to save Hitchinson's manuscript and arrange to find it in the future?
9. Fellow Travellers III: the American Revolution is an important bit of history (at least for a few centuries, then it blends into 'the old days'). And history needs to be properly documented and recorded, so a group of time travelling academics (possibly accompanied by people with less academic skills) are in town. Think of the things that can go wrong...
Anachronistic equipment can be lost to theft from tavern rooms, mugging or pickpockets.
A small drone orbiting the city monitoring events develops a fault and crash lands.
Someone gets drunk and inadvertently causes a patriot to miss a meeting.
A bugging device planted in a newspaper office, printworks, tavern or home is found. What is this strange device.
Someone fails a Stealth check and is noticed snooping. Obviously a loyalist spy. How long does it take to boil tar?
10. A more subtle plan. Over in France a meddler persuades Jacques Turgot (Comptroller-General of France) under Louis XVI to forgive the extravagances of Marie Antoinette and the Queen's court. Hence she doesn't force him into ignominious retirement in May of 1776. He retain the ear of Louis and counters the suggestion of the Comte de Vergennes (Louis’s Foreign Minister) to support the American rebels with arms, troops and ships. Turgot points out that such support was, besides being expensive, setting a dangerous precedent: His Most Catholic Majesty wouldn't want to support armed rebellion against a fellow monarch, even the King of England? The rebellion is crushed, both in America and France and absolute monarchy returns into fashion until the horrific series of wars in the mid-nineteenth century devastate Europe.
Won't somebody please think of the Fenway Flounder....?
But seriously. The BTP was one pf several protests about tea (a mighty important matter back then)and while it didn't ignite the ARW it did do a lot to create the climate. I consider it rather analogous to John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry; that didn't start the American Civil War but did push events onwards.
OK, for those of you unaware of the significance of the dumping of chests of tea into Boston Harbour I recommend you read this. There were two important factors in the whole 'tea party'; money and perception. Tea was taxed (technically duties) to support the British government, as a revenue stream. The main source of tea was the plantations of the East India Company, who had a more-or-less legal monopoly. But tea from the Netherlands was untaxed by that government and hence cheaper when smuggled into the UK or the colonies. Money was at stake, quite a lot of it.
Secondly the colonies has no representation at Westminster but were (from the 1760s) taxed by that parliament. "No Taxation Without Representation". It's important to remember at this stage there was little support for actual independence from Britain.
Now in the early 1770s the EIC was effectively bankrupt, and obtained a series of Acts of Parliament to allow it to dump tea, actually cheaper than the smuggled article, on the American colonies with a legal monopoly. Now quite a number of prominent colonists were very active in the smuggling
Like John 'King' Hancock, he of the elaborate signature. Though most of his money was inherited from his father (a smuggler on a huge scale) he was still active in the smuggling trade. Hancock lived in regal splendor in a huge mansion on Beacon Hill and was a noted patriot (i.e. revolutionary). While he remained mostly above the violence (at least until his ship Liberty was sized) he funded most of the radicals' activities.
Now there's an interesting possibility here; what if Lord North had been less stubborn and has accepted the advice to remove the 3d/lb tax on the tax that has generated such ire in the colonies? Things might have quietened down for a while.
So, four shiploads of tea were sent to Boston (with one each to New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston) which threatened to put the smugglers out of business, and also destroy the businesses of legitimate importers. Politics and profit combined, and while other cities 'persuaded' the EIC's tea consignees to resign this didn't happen in Boston (two of the consignees were sons of Governor Hutchinson [yes him]) and stood to become very wealthy. A mass meeting was called (by Sam Adams) and the ship was blockaded and stopped from unloading. A few days later a larger meeting (attended by perhaps 40% of the population of Boston) was held and 'doings transpired'. How it's questionable if Adams was entirely responsible for what happened next but a group (perhaps 30 people, perhaps many more) donned disguises and stormed the three ships. Eighty tonnes of tea was dumped into the harbour.
So, what else could have happened? 1. Well with a little suitable influence Hutchinson might have had armed men guarding the ships. Given the easy availability of weapons and the numbers of people at the mass meeting this would have turned nasty very quickly.
2. Might the views of people like Franklin and Murray have prevailed? With the tea paid for and the British mollified to a degree the 'Intolerable Acts' might have been avoided and a degree of calm restores for a while anyway Fundamentally there was a clash of cultures; were the colonies emerging "Englands in miniature" with governments mainly accountable to the King's subjects living there or subservient commercial enterprises mainly there to enrich Britain itself.
Time, time,time, see what’s become of me. While I looked around for my possibilities... My AITAS files.
Here's another ARW idea; kill Sam Adams or rather stop someone from killing him and seriously altering events. Let us say the PCs learn of a plot; perhaps, after just missing their most recent Time Meddler before he jumped through the Vortex, they find his notes and plans. He's going to Colonial Boston to kill Samuel Adams...
Background. Adams was an odd man, the real power behind the Sons of Liberty and a firebrand revolutionary. The son of Deacon Samuel Adams Sr, a very prosperous merchant (who owned an entire wharf as well as the notorious brewery on Purchase Street). As a young man Sam Jr, went to Harvard and lived elegantly (his classmates called him 'the last of the Puritans' because he was never known to smoke or drink, take snuff or consort with women) and was rated fifth in his class by social standing. Even in later life Adam liked to play up to the pious image (though he could, and did, drink most men under the table) At college Adams took his elevated social position seriously; he didn't eat with the other students in the dining room, dining privately.
But all of this changed practically overnight and fueled him live-long animosity towards Thomas Hutchinson.
Adams Sr. was director (and one of the flounders) of the 'Land Bank', which he and some of his associates had founded to try and stabilise the colonial paper money. Hutchinson was against it from the start, utterly opposed to the idea of the colonies printing their own paper money. He petitioned Parliament to prohibit the Land Bank, something they readily did.
A lot of people were ruined as a result and the Adams' lost everything. Sam was reduced to waiting tables in the student commons, serving the very boys he'd been too good to eat with. He did graduate with a Masters degree. He never got over it and his hate for the Hutchinsons grew pathological.
Even in his student days Adams Jr, was a fervent follower of John Locke and his ideas on the relations between government and the governed.
It is the right of the people to withdraw their support from that government which fails to fulfill its trust. If this does not persuade government to live up to its obligation, it is the right of the people to overthrow it.
Adams was a failure at pretty much everything he tried, except politics. After graduating he briefly worked in a counting house under Thomas Cushing and then tried his hand at business. He failed and ended in serious debt. His father supported him and took him into the family brewery business. He almost bbankrupted that too.
Adams's political career began almost out of a a sense of spite; his rather had been promised a place on the Colony's Council, but when a vacancy occurred, it went to Andrew Oliver instead. Sam ran for the Assembly, supported by Hancock, just so he could work against the governor. And then started up a small newspaper (the Public Advertiser) which he wrote almost entirely himself, under various names. Adams taught himself the art of propaganda; writing inflammatory editorials and, under different names, he'd write 'letters to the editor in support of those editorials.
After he started publishing the Advertiser his old classmates started to avoid him. He was considered something of a lunatic; disreputable and dangerous. Not that Adams minded, he preferred the company of his friends down on the waterfront.
Interestingly Adams never used a carriage or a coach, except when he rode with the wealthy Hancock. He walked everywhere, usually alone, and often late at night and in a perpetual state f distraction. A very easy target.
Now the PCs have to bodyguard him, while not being noticed too much and not altering the course of events. In a volatile city with Patriots, Loyalists, smugglers, tax collectors and soldiers.