Though I have previously made claims to the contrary, it’s now obvious that the only reason Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Europe was because of the intervention of aliens. Or maybe time travelers from the future. That other stuff about a secret pact with Dagon (or his ultraterrestrial ilk)? Utter nonsense. Allow me to explain.
A Chip On His Shoulder (and In His Skull)
According to a number of dubious news articles (whose ultimate sources are more dubious, yet) researchers discovered a small computer microchip embedded in the former Emperor of France’s skull during a government-funded investigation of Napoleon’s remains. Dr. Andre Dubois, the (supposed) researcher behind the discovery has his bet on the alien hypothesis.
Until now, every indication has been that victims of alien abduction are ordinary people who play no role in world events. Now we have compelling evidence that extraterrestrials acted in the past to influence human history – and may continue to do so! I was hoping to learn whether he suffered from a pituitary disorder that contributed to his small stature, [but instead] as I examined the interior of the skull, my hand brushed across a tiny protrusion. I then looked at the area under a magnifying glass – and was stunned to find that the object was some kind of super-advanced microchip.
But when did it happen? Dubois continues:
Napoleon vanished from sight for a period of several days in July 1794, when he was 25. He later claimed he’d been held prisoner during the Themidorian coup – but no record of that arrest exists. I believe that is when the abduction took place.
Making a Game of It
As the starting point for a game of secret history, this hook is tough to beat. Every one of the un-answered questions could underpin an entire game. What did the chip do? What other major historical figures were similarly enhanced? Does this practice continue? Maybe the political and economic elite of the modern world periodically disappear into Bilderberger summits — or gallivant off to Bohemian Grove — for hardware upgrades from their secret masters. But you don’t have to play it quite that straight. It also makes a great hook for a four-color supers or time travel game. Come on — you can’t tell me you haven’t ever thought that the 19th century conquest of Europe was probably a sinister plot by a time-traveling Brainiac.
The great thing about the time-travel angle is that you don’t have to pick a solution. Maybe your game is a carefully plotted game of cat and mouse in the shadows of real history, with the PCs subtly repairing the damage to the timestream caused by your antagonists’ intereference. Or maybe you want to go nuts with the idea — after all, balance is really all your trying to achieve.
Maybe the way to defeat Cyborg Napoleon isn’t to disable the microchip, it’s to provide comparable enhancement — a little help from somewhere else in the time-stream — to his opponents. They did call Wellington the “Iron Duke” — maybe he just needs some power armor to even the odds. Just a minor anachronism. Nothing the bosses at Time, Inc. (or TimeWatch, or whatever you’re calling it) need to concern themselves with.
Still, someone’s probably going to eventually notice the nuclear submarines they gave to Admiral Nelson.