Over the weekend, Mojang created Catacomb Snatch as part of the Humble Bundle Mojam, and it’s a fun little game! While playing it, it struck me that the two protagonists, Lord Lard and Herr von Speck1, should have some back story which also happens to explain the features of the game. So, I wrote two letters from the rulers of Britain and Prussia to the two archaeologists – and the names of the monarchs and their advisors are historically accurate for the year 18042, just as a little extra touch. And I sent them to Notch, too :)
Hope you like them!
Friday, 17th February, 1804
My dear Lord Lard,
Thank you for your presentation of the 15th January to His Majesty King George III, detailing your plans to mount an expedition to the Catacombs of Neferfir. His Britannic Majesty was greatly intrigued by the demonstration of the power of your Voltaic Energy Gun, particularly the speed at which you were able to demolish large swathes of greenery in the gardens outside the Palace of Westminster. His Majesty also wishes to inform you that you will not be required to replace the statuary which was inadvertently destroyed when you invited His Majesty to fire the gun for himself.
Furthermore, His Majesty is confident that, with the aid of your Excavation Automata, any relics, artifacts or other treasures located within the Neferfir Catacombs will be safely retrieved for examination by the Empire’s most skilled Egyptologists.
I am given to understand, from recent reports of reconnaissance missions, that the Catacombs maybe be infested with bats and snakes. However, I am inclined to dismiss the claims that numerous mummified humans were also observed to be wandering the Catacombs. The climate in Egypt is excessively hot, and I suspect that the reconnaissance party may have been suffering from a case of heatstroke by the time they had reached their destination. Nevertheless, I would strongly advise that you take along a number of your Steam-Powered Automated Voltaic Turret Guns as a means of defending yourself.
In conclusion, I am pleased to inform you that His Britannic Majesty has advised His Government to approve the funding of your expedition, and wish you God-speed. If you are successful in your goals, your service to the Empire will not go unrewarded.
The Rt Hon George Legge
Lord Chamberlain of the Household
Earl of Dartmouth
17th February, 1804
Dear Herr von Speck,
It is with great pleasure that I am able to inform you that His Majesty King Friedrich III has instructed me to approve funding of your archaeological mission into the Neferfir Catacombs, further to your demonstration of your Voltaic Ether Gun earlier in the week. I am also relieved to note your news that the scalding sustained from your gun by your erstwhile assistant, Igor, is already starting to heal nicely. He strikes me as a very capable young man, and it is a joy to know that he will be able to remain in your service.
However, I regret to advise you that Lord Lard, the eminent British archaeologist, will also be present, attempting to steal the Catacombs’ treasures from under the noses of the Prussian nation. I hope, therefore, that you will be taking along your Automated Defence Turrets to protect your person and your findings, in addition to your marvellous Archaeological Automata and a plentiful supply of rails.
His Majesty has wished me to convey to you the necessity for speed in extracting the contents of the Neferfir Catacombs, lest they should fall into the hands of the contemptible Lord Lard. Please exercise particular caution when venturing into the Catacombs’ chambers, however, for I am given to understand that despite being sealed for many thousands of years, the chambers are populated with rather vicious bats and poisonous snakes. I was also informed that mummified people are wandering the corridors, although I would suspect that the observer in question had been partaking a little heavily of the local refreshment. I believe it is quite potent.
Karl August von Hardenberg
Minister President of the Government of Prussia
1 The use of Lord Lard’s name makes more sense when you learn that “Speck”, translated from German to English, is “bacon”…
2 The choice of the year wasn’t arbitrary: I wanted to use a year in the 19th century where February 17 was a Friday (since Mojam started on Friday, February 17). I originally used 1860, because steampunk mostly tends to be associated with Queen Victoria. But then I discovered that the flag used by the German side stopped being used in 1806, so I had to go with something earlier. Turned out 1804 was the closest. The More You Know…