The Heliograph Office

Shifting Sands

Player Guide


A heliograph is like a telegraph but with the signal being transmitted via flashes of light instead of electronic pulses along a wire. There is an extensive network of heliograph stations in orbit around the inner planets of the solar system, and this is the primary method of communication between them.

The Heliograph Office

The Heliograph Office aboard the Duchess will be happy to transmit messages for you. Just drop your message in the outgoing mailbox or hand your message to any of the Countess's staff and they will make sure the message is delivered safely. The heliograph office is the main connection between a character and the outside world while they are in game. This will allow you to submit influence actions, tell the game staff what actions your character may be taking between games or anything else you might want think of that requires staff attention.

Important note: Heliographs are considered 100% safe communications. Players will never be allowed to read heliographs that were submitted into the outgoing mailbox. While perhaps not logical in-game, this is an out-of-game conceit we have instituted to ensure players feel confident in using it. Heliographs cannot be interfered with or intercepted. The Countess's staff cannot be bribed into compromising its security (though they may be bribed for other reasons). Attempts to read or interfere with other people's outgoing mail will be considered out-of-game cheating and dealt with accordingly.

Players are encouraged to write their heliographs as if they are sending a message to someone specific. This will help flesh out some of your character's background NPCs (non-player characters) and may result in some of these characters being portrayed in future games. If you have trouble making up NPCs, please talk to a member of the game staff and they can help provide ideas.

Submitting In Between Time actions (IBTs):

To use influences to affect the world, you need to collect all the influence cards necessary for the action and submit them through the Heliograph Office. Influence cards may be your own personal influence or that of other players or some combination. You will need to write up a heliograph for what you are intending to do (possibly a separate one for each type of Influence) and then staple the cards to your heliograph and drop it off in the mailbox. Influence actions will not be considered valid without the cards or submitted to staff in any other form than via the heliograph. It is best to get a GM to read it first so we can make sure all the pertinent information is included and that we can read your writing.

Remember, all influence cards are only good for one game session. At the end of the game and intervening IBT submission period, any influence not submitted to the game staff through a heliograph is considered expired, and is no longer usable in future games. All Influence returns to the original owners at the beginning of the next game.

Which side sessions will be held will be determined by the messages sent, and which will add the most to the game. Note that we have limited bandwidth and space, and will not be able to support all requests. If it is decided that a side session is needed, the staff will contact players to determine the best time for such a session and let them know the details.

Examples of In Between Time actions (IBTs):

Here is an example of using the heliograph to let the staff know your character will be leading an expedition to Mercury between one game and the next.

Dear George,

Please see that the University sends those funds that I need for my upcoming expedition to Mercury. We need to book passage soon and start acquiring the necessary scientific equipment if I am to make my timetable. The Germans are also attempting to prove the existence of a lake of molten gold and we cannot allow them to claim these resources for their own!


Sir Jacob

  • Influences attached, x2 Monetary (British), x2 Science (Geology)

Not all actions require Influence, as in the following example: 

Mrs. Thistlebottom,

Please prepare the London house to be ready for my return on the first of next month. Also prepare the blue bedroom, since my niece and her husband will arrive a day or two later (for an indefinite stay). The following weekend, I will be hosting Lord Fishwell and the rest of the Board of Directors for dinner. You and I will finalize the menu on my return, but prior to that please ensure that we have an ample supply of Lord Fishwell's favorite alcoholic beverages.


Lady Upperton

The staff would prefer that most IBTs be submitted at game, but some players may need more time to figure out what they need to do. The staff will accept IBTs for 2 weeks after the game. Any IBT actions submitted after the deadline will likely not be considered valid for the next game.



Fête Fatale Home  Shifting Sands Home   Player Interest Form