This popped back in to my head recently after a couple of twitter posts in my feeds regarding number stations and home -brewed gaming settings. As with previous entries about Brunnen 1795 this was a work in progress as a hack of Simon Washbourne's most excellent Barbarians of Lemuria/Everywhen system, before I got distracted and moved on to other things. It's underdeveloped and no doubt grammatically terrible, but has some of my ideas for a weird science/horror/russian Quatermass style game. I may dust it off again at some point though. Thanks to Old Scouser Roleplaying (@nfbenson on Twitter) for the interest.
Радио станция УВБ-37
(Radio station EOD-37)
And a good morning to you tovarisch.
As it's past noon and the factory is closed for Sunday afternoon, I'm sure you'll all join me in raising a glass to our fine leader, and Hero of the Union, Comrade Kruschev.
Of course our comrades in the electronics and radio workshops will have knocked off already (part timers).
So, for brevity, it is 1960. You live and work in the small southern Russian town of Beslan in the North Ossetian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.
Beslan has a population of approximately 15,000. Its chief industry is assembly of tractors and heavy machinery, but it also has a number of other opportunities to serve the Soviet Union, including land work, textiles, and within the chemical plant a distillery that keeps Ossetia largely self-sufficient in terms of vodka.
In many ways, being a caucasus republic, Beslan is part of the great Soviet cultural bulwark against the influence of Western decadence that seeps across borders and weakly carries on the ether, nevertheless polluting the airwaves with rock and roll, the imperialist BBC and US Armed Forces Europe, and even the revolutionary, youth driven Turkish pirate radio stations.
Turkish jazz comrades!!!
Even the muhammadans are susceptible to the morally weak Western traitors.
As it is just 15 years since the great patriotic victory, you may have served in that greatest endeavour, the defeat of Nazism.
Man or woman, you answered the call.
Women under 32 may have attended the Beslan technical college, studying electronics, engineering, textile design and manufacturing or something else useful to society.
Ossetians are also deeply spiritual, for the most part, and the high percentage of ethnic Georgians give the area an unusual concentration of Georgian Orthodox chapels and churches, particularly in the open country and the hills to the south that border the Republic of Georgia. The sepulchre in the Church of St Ekaterina has been a key focus of festivals and ceremonial formalities for generations.
This of course does not mean that Marxist-Leninist Atheism is not heavily represented in Beslan, particularly in the more political classes, but by and large the opposing belief systems just make for animated debates after a late night on the vodka.
In recent years Kruschev's great electrification programme has lit up the republics and ensured fair and equitable access to power for all. For some corners of Ossetia the light bulbs we take for granted in the towns and cities are a thing of wonder...
Even as some stubbornly resist change (as is their right, earned by hardships endured to usher in a brighter future for all comrades in our new paradise), but Babooshkas are wise in their wariness... New power and technology brings wonders, but also dangers...
BUT WITH IT, AND WITH OUR INDOMITABLE SOCIALIST SPIRIT, WE WILL CONQUER THE AETHER!
You may be a radio engineer, a producer, a presenter, a janitor or any combination of the above.
The Station is overseen by Comrade Doctor Bukovsky, the head of radio and electronic studies at Beslan Technical Academy.
If you are a radio technician / electrical engineer you studied with Bukovsky and he recruited you. He's kind of... Groovy... But very serious about the business at hand.
He takes your work extremely seriously and often spends weekends at the station, surviving on rye bread, thick black tea and Petra brand cigarettes whilst intensely tuning and re-tuning the wavelengths feeding his black, war era headphones. They rarely leave his ears, even when he sprawls his long limbs and torso on the old, moth-eaten divan by the West facing window that overlooks the foundations of C-mast.
Things are looking up in Beslan. The land is yielding bumper harvests and the state has relaxed the once ubiquitous rationing in the last couple of years. Nevertheless, the memories of the ravaged land you grew up in are reinforced everywhere you go, in everything you see.
Families vanishing from their homes, even before the Germans arrived...
Chasing cats and dogs through rubble... Then when they were too hard, or too few, helping your mother cut shoe leather into strips to boil with nettles and roots...
Doing your best to ignore the foetid smell of the recent dead when filling old pots and pans from the river...
Dodging patrols to loot meagre rations from dead and dying comrades, or the salty, dry biscuits and cured meats from dead Germans, although there were always far fewer of them...
Despite current lines of thinking and 'official' history that suggest the Germans died in their droves before our vengeful comrades, their always seemed to be far fewer corpses dressed in their field grey. And they were always more rigorous in policing their dead, at least in the early years.
By the end of course, all that remained after the thaw in Spring 1943 were corpses, often in various bizarre states of undress as their 'kamerads' had taken to desperately looting their dead to combat our greatest ally, the harsh winters that had blown in from the east.
Today, they are long gone, buried in pits, the stains of their presence replaced by the recovery of the things that were there before. Even managing to steadily grow around and over the wreckage of their machines... As if reclaiming them... As if they'd always been part of the land.
It took many years for the land to fully recover. Your bellies still ache from the hardships and sacrifices of post-victory. But your experiences were transformative. You, the people, the land, the war, even the vanished, all are part of the progress that will ensure a glorious future for our people. That hard won peace enables us to live, learn, grow and, most importantly, work for the common good and achieve our goal of a socialist utopia that works for the good of all.
We enter a new decade looking not to the past and dwelling on loss, but to the future. As Professor Bukovsky regularly says, technology is the key to achieving the socialist dream.
By navigating the rivers and the oceans we were able to conquer even the furthest horizon.
Soon, rocket power will see us conquer not only the sky, but beyond.
But here, and now, we are conquering the very air around us... The aether...
Despite the pollution of the airwaves from the west, and increasingly from all stations of the compass, there are depths and... spaces... as yet untapped. At least by us... (Bukovsky is rather passionate, to the point of wild eyed obsession at times, particularly after vodka).
It is June 1961. The national holiday, declared by Comrade Kruschev to celebrate the heroic orbit of the Earth by Hero of the Soviet Union Yuri Gaga run, is over. This great, socialist achievement encapsulates the distance we have travelled since the yoke of the Tsars was broken and cast aside, swiftly followed by the power of the church. Spirituality is not a crime against the people, but mindless devotion to a sect is.
"There is no god"
Hunger has been conquered by the strength of collectivity!