Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Hilary`s Musings: Imagi-Nations & Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!

Hilary`s Musings: Imagi-Nations
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!
It all began, I suppose, as a small girl, going to see “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” in the cinema. It can`t quite have been when it first hit the big screen, because I would only have been a couple of years old at the time. But back in those days, it was common for films to `come round` again at the local cinemas, and so it must have been at one of these later viewings that I was first introduced to the film. I think I would have been about eight when I first saw it.
The evil Baron and Baroness Bomblast
I believe I knew even then, that this was something a little different.. a little special even. Yes, we had Mary Pippins, and we had Bedknobs and Broomsticks, but these were just lovely stories, set firmly within a Victorian and Edwardian time frame. Whereas Chitty Chitty was unusual. It started in pre world war one England, and quickly moved on a pace to an undefined barony ruled by Baron and Baroness Bomblast, and then this in turn was set within the fictitious country/kingdom of Vulgaria. So straight away we can see that England is in place, with early style motor cars, and zeppelins, and steamboats, and... well we know a time frame {circa 1910`s}, because Caractacus` Father “Bungie Potts” wears a khaki Colonial uniform (could be Fuzy-Wuzzy, could be Boar War) and talks of travelling:  “off to India” when he enters his portable outdoor toilet. To this we have what can only be described as German looking spies... actually, Vulgarian in the film, of course.
But all this helps us define where Vulgaria might possibly be located in a real world (in the book, Ian Flemming never tells the reader precisely where). When we enter Vulgaria itself, it becomes even more interesting, for here we have infantry wearing Napoleonic shako type hats, but also tricorn and what looks remarkably like dragoon uniformed attire, and best of all.. mounted knights in armour, very reminiscent of Crusader knights hehe. So wow, this is amazing: we have it all – racing cars, flying balloon ships, Germanic looking pre 1914 Great War spies, French Revolution looking soldiers, Napoleonic looking soldiers,  Knights in Armour, and at one stage early in the film, Caractacus Potts is trying to make a one man rocket back pack, so the mind boggles and the gaming options become rather large.
This really is an undefined imaginary make belief world, set within the real world (hence England is in it), but undefined in the sense that Vulgaria`s where-abouts is never mentioned. However the castle used for much of the film is the real life Neuschwanstein Castle (one time owned by Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria), so again this gives us another clue as to Ian Flemming`s thinking process. Another clue is that Vulgaria has a coast line... is it an island, or is it attached to an existing continent: Perhaps it is a land fictitiously placed between Romania and Bulgaria and the coast is the water of the Black Sea? The point I think here is, Vugaria can be anywhere you want it to be.. within logical reason of course.

Even the griffin on the side of the flying ship looks remarkably like an Iron cross, don`t you think?

In any case, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang had a big effect on me; and might in all possibility, be the reason why I found myself a minority woman at a young age, a female gamer interested in `boys` things, uniforms, role playing, and warfare. Unlike most boys however, I do find myself interested in the pageants, all the little stuff normally left out of games (servants carrying silver trays, chimney sweeps with their black faces, kitchen staff sweating away in the cook houses.. lining the soldiers up on the parade ground and taking lovely photos of them all marching up and down, with backdrops of hand drawn or card built castles and sundry buildings .. all that stuff). I find all this `little stuff` helps me bring a game, and bring an era or genre to life on the table, and through some nice trick photography, can really help that suspension of disbelief which all gamers need to get the most out of their hobby.
For a long time, I have wondered how much fun it might be to work on building up a wargame, a campaign and a role playing romp, in the colourful Vulgarian imaginary lands of Ian Flemming`s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
I never really thought I would ever see this idea in my head reach fruition, but then recently, something strange happened.
Stevie started to collect his 28mm tricorn wearing  “Lace Wars” type soldiers. Not only this, but carriages.. coaches and horses, and lots of civilians (I especially like his French citizen woman from the Revolution, bearing one breast, musket in one hand, a French flag in the other hand, no doubt shouting “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”).
In other words, I spotted that he was not just collecting the soldiery, he was really going for the `every-day life` scenic’s as well. I knew he was doing this for his American Rebellion project, and so I never said a word, but inside I found all this was making my thoughts of Vulgaria spring to life all over again. A think a wistful part of me was becoming interested in this notion, especially as Stevie asked me to and set me to task creating all his terrain (both assembling 4Ground buildings, and hand crafting some projects for him, like a large wood fort, timber log cabins, snake fencing, picket fencing, roads, river sections, and so on). In bits and pieces, then later in flourishing enthusiasm, I realised the dream of making an Imagi-nation to game in, actually could happen if the decision were ever taken to do so. But I stayed quiet. This was his project and I did not want to sink that boat for him.
But then he amazed me. One day he came to me and told me how he had studied so much, dozens of hours of documentaries, viewed book after book read (plus the entire Osprey series of books on the subject and uniform guides, devoured with a keen eye), in effect he had studied the subject to death: there was little remaining for him to learn on the subject. This is, remember, not a new subject to him. This was all merely brushing up on a topic he was already fairly familiar with. But he came to me and told me that although he loved the subject, although he would be more than happy playing French, Indians, Patriot and Loyalist Americans and Red Coated British forever more: a big part of him just wanted to take all he had in his collection, and play it all out using the sum of his historical knowledge but in a fantasy/imaginary setting, free from the confines of actual history and real uniforms and such like. At this my heart leapt, and in a quiet voice I said to him: “What about setting it all in Vulgaria?”  I knew he would know what I was talking about, as we had spoken before, long ago, about the idea of playing an imaginary game set within the wonderful world of that book and film. In fact the idea of painting all those made up imaginary uniforms is what really appealed to him, as much as to me.
Even the women of Baroness Bomblast`s Pageant Ballroom Parties wear the most strikingly gorgeous themed dresses and hair styles of Pink, Mauve, and Purple hue, the whole idea is simply marvelous. A sort of lace war gothic bonanza of colour.

A Few Vulgarian Uniforms
Stevie was silent for a while, sipping his mug of tea, tucking into a piece of Battenberg cake. After a while he replied that the idea was not altogether un-appealing to him.
And so, over the course of a morning, I spoke more and more of the idea, and by the end of it all, I must have instilled quite a positive image in his head, because he started to become rather obsessively enthused by the idea of it (that sharp flash of intellect behind the eyes, and the gleam of pearly white teeth as his smile becomes more and more pronounced). “yesssssss” he would say: “And my woodland Indians would be perfect too, this land is undefined so we can add a sort of `Peter Pan` lost boy theme into the thing.. only darker, more macabre, and with a bit of zombie theme going on as well hehe”  He was in full stride by now and continued: “And I can still paint my Blue Coats and Redcoats. These Vulgarians would need a few neighboring enemies to fight against, after all.. right?”
 And so it went on. By the end of about a five hour conversation, Stevie decided he wanted to tailor his project slightly, no longer just make it all colonial American, but would devote his energies towards steering the whole thing to becoming an imaginary world, where he can put anything into it. Zombies and knights in shining armour, alongside Napoleonic Ruritanian type soldiers, and Nelson style navies and sails of silver.. flying balloons, steam ships and steam trains.  What an eclectic theme, huh?
Baron Bomblast and his ever simpering cronies.
Knights in Armour are as common place here, as Shakos, Tricorns and Cannon Balls.
Tarot even piped up and suggested some Oriental themed Yakuza, Tongs, Priesthoods and Monks. Effectively, anything we care to include can be added into the pot and allowed to mature into a fine brew.
An iconic character from the film: “The Child Catcher.” This fictitious NPC still sends shivers down my spine, just from looking at the photo. Stevie has just made and painted a one off unique miniature of this person, and it pretty much wowed me how accurately he made him.

Baroness Bomblast singing: "You`re my little Chu chi-face"
Baroness Bomblast`s personal bodyguard and assassin: Hu`sin Heisyang {invented character of myself... now just have to find an appropriate miniature and paint}.
Tarot *smilingly.. knowingly* says she has already thought of just the mini to use, and will convert and paint her for me. So yaaaay!!! I`m going to have my very own `me` model soon *beams happily*
So it looks like “Liberty or Death” will now develop into an imagi-nation project, eclectically combining all the new figures Stevie has been collecting, alongside many others we already possess in our joint collection(s). This will create a somewhat farcical, whimsical, sometimes terrifying and macabre, and fun new world to play in.. and utilizes so much of our hobby into one huge great conglomerate of miniatures. And end of the day, he still gets to collect his AWI Liberty or Death.. that’s the beauty of it all. It will pretty much double up for either game.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a game world just waiting to happen.
Tarot just pointed out something rather interesting as well. “7TV {the rules system} is designed to recreate 60`s and 70`s tv and movies of that era right? And Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was made in 1968, which is slap bang in the middle of that time.. could you not use 7TVe2 rules to play this out, once you are ready to start?”
Hmmmm she has got me wondering now. Bryan.. anyone.. any thoughts on that?
Article by Hilary



  1. Could this project get any cooler? I think a big fat "Yes" is the answer. A suitable venue for an incarnation of Edmund Blackadder, methinks. Ooh, and proper Fae, like in Hellboy: the Golden Army. And maybe Revenant bounty hunters based on the look of Cryx Pistol Wraiths. Sorry, imagination getting away from me again...

    1. let the imagination roam wild and unchecked Jez haha, all ideas help lots. You just never know when an idea sparks a whole new sub project.

  2. hehe, all those ideas sound extremely doable, don't they Jez.

    I have always seen the merits of an Imagi-nation game world (as opposed to just a fantasy one, which most people do) but until now have never found an idea upon which I felt strongly enough to plant a flag. I have seen a few (not many) half hearted attempts over the years from people trying Vulgaria: mostly on the mass "Emperor Versus Elector" blog amalgamation site, but nothing ever that lasted. So if we do this, it will be nice because I think we might be the only serious one out there on line.. that I can see.

  3. incidentally, I actually already run an imagi-nation world blog, but haven't written in it for quite a long time. Take a look sometimes Jez.

  4. I am convinced this is a good call, and the inclusion of you in this Hils, now makes the project that much cooler. Yes I like solo gaming, as I had originally planed this to be; but there is no reason why I cant still do that as well, but to share this together is a wonderful prospect. Heck we share everything else, why not this too. So I say wooohoo and amen!!!!

    I might even start up the Sofia Scotia thing for you again and link it all together. Hmmm don't know yet how, but its all early days isnt it.. plenty of time to sort it all out smoothly. Tar` says she wants in (in a small way, just to help out a bit) and I think that's a great idea too. She will do all the graphics for us so we should be adding some pretty decent maps and images for the new world soon, once she gets her head down to it.

    Really nice article Hils. As usual :))

  5. Excellent article, Hils. I can see this is a project very dear to your heart and clearly it is a setting you can have a lot of fun with.

    You asked if 7TV2e would work for it? I'll say a tentative yes to that one. You'd need to do some tweaking to the rules but probably not too much. Also, it depends how many figures you want to use in an encounter. Smaller numbers work best. I can't be more specific than that because I don't know what kind of scenarios you want to run (combat, investigative, exploration, etc.). But in theory, 7TV2e should suit your purposes ideally. I'm sure you can make it work whatever rules set you choose.

  6. Thank you for that Bryan, I`m really pleased you enjoyed reading it.

    Basically, I`m thinking the scenarios shouldn`t be THAT different from any other type really. Ambush, Attack the farm, Break into the Fort, Kidnap the rich family from the carriage, Fend off the zombies, Hold out from the zombies attacking the farm, Assault the breach in the walls, Rescue the prisoner in the dungeon, Rescue the prisoner from the clutches of the guillotine, and so on. I am just thinking that if a show is made in the 60`s and 70`s surely it can be done using these rules, or are the rules only any use for set types of genre (Sweeny, Starsky and Hutch etc)?

    If the rules could work for, let us say, the old Davy Crocket series from about 1955, then I am sure it wold work for this too. Was just an idea really and wondered if it might work.

  7. Now that really is a poser. hmmm interesting question. I`m probably not the best qualified to answer this one, but having read through the rules myself I can at least tell you what I t-h-i-n-k may be the correct reply to that one. The rules could just about handle a game set in this era (by virtue of the fact it falls within the right era of TV and movie making, but the rules sure weren`t designed for... or took this kind of subject into consideration when they were made. Best example I can think of is to say... Zombicide could be set in world war one, of a star trek universe. But none of the stat cards or atmosphere filler will exactly FIT that ethos, but never the less, the game could be played that way. 7TV technically could be made to fit the mould you desire here, but it would lack any period specific atmosphere (in the form of appropriate cards and so on), and indeed might take some considerable effort to make it feel right on the table. Bottom line here, I honestly am not sure how good an experience it would be for you at the end of the day. Another more appropriate set of rules would probably work out better and give you more enjoyment.

    1. What you say is very true, Steve. In theory, 7TV2e can work for any period. In practice, your particular setting would need working on. But I'm not saying it couldn't be done. After all, the rules are not just confined to a contemporary setting (1960's onwards). They cover sci-fi with their rules for the likes of Blake's Seven, Space 1999 and Star Wars. At the other end of the spectrum they have rules for cavemen and dinosaurs. So, yes, anything is possible. Ultimately, only you can decide what is best for your needs.

    2. ah, yes I understand now thank you both. xx

  8. I like the dual nature of this. The very serious Rebellion/historical aspect that can satisfy Steve's need and love of the period and the imagi side that hints of darker things. Love it!

    Sorry for the brief comment on the lengthy article but pouring my limited blogging time into a couple of weighty posts that has in turn been inspired by this very blog!!

  9. Hey Andy, never worry about that sort of thing. we know you write when you can. I am sometimes the same with your blog, and I feel bad if I miss anything and fail to comment, due to being too busy that week or something.

    You are right as well, Stevie`s serious historical slant, and my own additions of imagi "what if" bits and pieces, seems to marry really well: and as you say "....and the imagi side that hints of darker things." is a very accurate way of putting it. I think it should work really well.

    Oh my, something here inspired you to write a couple of lengthy (that means deep) posts, Ooooo let me now when that's published and I`ll go read that for sure.

    1. The first one is nearly ready to go, probably tomorrow in time for Zombtober and then the next for Monday x

    2. and damn fine it is too Andy :))))

  10. I REALLY want to see this now, I cant wait OOo.

  11. I really want to see you turn this whole thing into a huge pirate adventure. That is the eventual plan, right?

  12. Yes that is correct sweetie. Although we've not mentioned it here at all as of yet, you are absolutely right: Stevie (and I as well now) will be taking all the Liberty or Death, adding a bit of eclectic personality from across our other existing model collections, and creating a secondary `back up` "Treasure Island" campaign (with a strong Caribbean, Jamaica and Southern America tone and feel). The Liberty or Death set allows us to do Portuguese, Spanish, American, British, and the colonial `buck skin` types, effectively doubling up nicely as native island buccaneers. Indigenous woodland Indians thus will have multiple uses. All rather near I think.

  13. You`re not wrong tar` hun. It dawned on us, the more we talked about it, that the entire L or D boxed set could be made to do two things. With some careful and colourful paint jobbing, the minis (in a large scale skirmish game) could be painted green coats for Portuguese or Colonial Militia, White coats for French or Spanish, blue and white for French of American, and Redcoats for Brits. Same time, because of the various colour schemes used in the colonies during this tricorn era, they would still fit nicely in a bog standard FIW or AWI campaign.

  14. This is all just too cool for words. Can I play?

  15. Of course you can darling.

  16. Yep...... but I want to join in the next Clix and Chibi games you play ^^

  17. UPDATE (December 19th 2016) This whole idea is massive and is taking considerable careful planning. With Christmas and New Year fast approaching, many guests (family and friends) arriving soon, and then recovery time after New Year while we settle back into routine.. combined with the fact we are also playing two other campaigns regularly and Stevie is studiously painting his Liberty or Death (as well as many other things as well) and probably will be for the entire of 2017 - this cool idea we have touched upon WILL be done, it WILL continue, but it will be a slow project, and probably not see light of day here at the game cupboard for a very long time to come. But rest assured it WILL happen.