My Imaginary World:
The Adventures of Lord & Lady Bingly
(and a Host of Other Entertainments)
Guest Appearances by Lady Scarlet Blightingdale
and Count Milo De Winter
From the novelette by Stephen A Gilbert
"A Golorion Overboard"
or..... "oh crikey - Splash!"
Being in part... a`Gallic-Golorion & Wendigo War` colonial setting; but based firmly in the time of `The Armorkan & Tanikan Uprising` yet in truth... Ain`t it a part of both the above, with deep smatterings of `Imagi-fiction` besides!
"Armorka: A Nation Born"
~ A New Campaign in the Making ~
the glint in a parent`s eye
I had originally intended to start my new venture in the colonies, in 54mm, using the superb range of "All the King`s Men" toy soldiers - made by Ken Cliffe. I not only find his range of French & Indian War and American Revolution miniatures very exciting and complete, but the guy is a very friendly fellow, and really helpful to deal with on line.
In the end I found the perfect solution to my problem, and the ultimate answer to my dreams; strange really that my search for a miniatures company to collect from, should end up being a company so similar to the one I loathe with a vengeance (in fact, I am still not fully convinced they are not one and the same, with a different name. GW and WG... Coincidence or what? Reverse the letters and it becomes teasingly clear... interesting huh)?
For example, I am planning to play my own Imaginary World games set within an undefined but pre-supposed 18th century civilisation... s-l-i-g-h-t-l-y resembling the `real life` French and Indian Wars, plus bits of the American Revolutionary Wars, welded together into one.... sort of: but then this is where it starts to get interesting, because thrust firmly into the mix is a kind of low fantasy style Dungeons and Dragons/Pathfinder world of indigenous native American and Canadian Indian folk lore and a rich bestiary of macabre things to add. By choosing my pieces very carefully, I have ensured that I can use all of the figures to double up as appropriate quasi-historical facsimiles, which effectively allows me to `multi purpose` everything... i.e. a French infantryman of 1756 serves as a standard infantryman, or a grenadier of 1776; and not only for the French. But I can use a French Infantryman (aka Armorkan) to represent a British soldier (aka Tanikan) of the same era, or I can skip forward a few years and suddenly I have an American Militiaman or Patriot soldier (The Golarion Colonies) of 1783, even a German Hessian (Gothic Principality States)... or even more importantly to me, a French Revolutionary - 1792. Another sculpt might serve as a French, American, British, or German light infantryman.... and even as a Loyalist "Queens Ranger" infantryman. Or I can simply use it as a soldier in part of the army of any imaginary wars of my devising. The tricorn and the bicorn era of history is, indeed, very flexible like that.
Painted correctly, you can turn any sculpt into a host of different things for the happy wargamer to enjoy.
So often overlooked at the start: all the focus usually tends to be placed firmly on the miniatures... undercoating, deciding which wargame rules system to use (then basing the figures according to the dictates of those favoured rules), painting, and varnishing/purity seal; all this before even working on the `story` beyond a vague notion, perhaps, of the period to be envisaged and enjoyed.
No, a good imaginary world lives and breathes in those quiet moments of cogitation, the daydream contemplations of the mind. The inspiration we hold so dear. Precious and quintessential to the suspension of disbelief, which breathes soul and purpose into our make believe lands of never-where.
Even as I sit and paint... and paint... and.. oh boy.... paint yet more (yes I have a lot to paint... about 500 figures all told)... even thus, I plan, and scheme, and write (often just little notes to remind myself of important snippets of insight and facets of campaign infrastructure). I like to get started long before the bulk of my toy soldiers are painted and ready. Cameos of everyday life, the serious, the humourous, the macabre and the fantastical. Satellites of the shape of things to come.
Welcome to my world. Haha, yes maybe there is a mark of insanity there somewhere, that I spend so much time making plans and preparing to immerse in a world that doesn’t really exist *whispers* but in my mind`s eye - is does.
Indeed, I plan to continue this new imaginary world for many years to come, so it will develop and thrive at my own happy pace. My passion for historical type games, is, and always has been, the main hobby focus for me... and probably, all told, takes up a good 70% of my hobby time (leaving only about 30% for ALL the other things I do: I am simply that focussed on this more `in depth` side of my gaming endeavours). I just thought I would share some of it with you, so you can see how I do things. I dunno, I guess I hope you may find some of it interesting, and sparks something within you to want to immerse into your favourite gaming tipple. I know Bryan has just embarked upon a new venture into a long term Judge Dredd campaign, and I believe that will soon become, for him, every bit as deep as my imagi-nation quasi American colonial world is for me. Andy has his Bushido, and man oh man, his immersion into that subject is a perfect example of how dedicated focus in the hobby should be, if you wish to reap the true rewards it has to offer: because then you get results like.... well, like he achieves, which are a wonder to behold, and a banner for us all to follow by his example there-of.
So Where Did I Make My Start?
The first place, for me, was with my Tanikan Army Commander in Chief, Colonel Bingly. As my Liberty or Death collectors boxed set of Seven Year War miniatures get assembled and painted from my precious collection of sprues, I shall paint the Platoons, Companies and Battalions one at a time until the whole Regiment is ready and fit for on table action. Will my commander be a Scarlet Pimpernel type (Lord Percy Blakeney), or another Harry Flashman? Hmmm, we shall see.
Hardback copy - pages 309 to 311.... a really useful section called: "Adding Personality".
I know already that I want my Lord Bingly... good old "Bingo" to be married, and just coming up to middle age. So I will place him at 38 years old at the start of this existence in my game.
Using my trusty percentage dice (%) to determine my new Colonel`s starting character stats I thus proceed to the following table. I never cheat when I am using dice in my solo role playing or wargames, and always abide by the results no matter what. I have a saying "there are no such things as bad dice rolls... just interesting ones".
33 76 92 37 (95) 87 19
Intelligence 33: okay, Bingo isn`t exactly the brightest cherry on the bush, which fits my mind’s eye perception of this fellow perfectly. A true blood aristocrat, a bit dim, but as charming as a rather annoying but helplessly dependent puppy. "I sssay.... jolly good show.. wot!"
Initiative 76: A bit ` thick` Bingo may be, but professionally, as a soldier, he is sharp as a blade, and totally on the ball. Probably a card shark, a gambler, and a bit of an amiable rogue, especially with the ladies. He is the type who, if a woman even talks nicely to him, sees this as an `amber light` and a deluded personal invitation into her boudoir. He charges at things head on, with an intuitive zest for life... but never stops to consider the consequences of his actions.
Courage 92: unbelievably courageous, fool heartedly brave, a total madman. A very fine blade and no doubt a champion duellist (slow to anger; due to his low intelligence, he rarely even notices when someone is mocking him to his face or, heaven forbid, insulting his good lady wife). Once roused, he is a nightmare and hard to calm down again. The graveyards are doubtless littered with gentlemen who have come up against his deadly duelling blade or pistols.
Charisma 37 (95): I give this character two separate stats for Charisma, one in his private life, another as a professional soldier. As a private man... a Lord (actually an Earl) he is a bit of an amiable buffoon, a dim witted devilishly annoying fop.
As a Colonel of his own Regiment... i.e. in his professional status... he is capable, respected and trusted by his fellow officers, and instils unswerving loyalty in the men under him.
His ravishingly beautiful wife, the Lady Chase Bingly (maiden name Lady Chase Bunting) is equally flirtatious, sexually veracious, and as wanton as her over-zealous husband. She travels everywhere with her husband, and loves to inspect the troops... sometimes several times a day *grins*
Strength 87: Built like an ox. Anytime he is in danger of receiving a wound, throw the percentage dice, and if the roll is equal to or below his Strength, Lord Bingly can pretty much shrug off the wound with impunity. "meh! a mere flesh wound.... wot!"
Health 19: Sickly as a child, the family doctors predicted he would not live to adulthood. He suffered from endless colds, bronchial congestion (asthma), various allergies and a veritable legion of unhealthy and uncomfortable inflictions. To this day, he can often be found with his head buried in a bowl of steaming hot water, breathing in pungent aromas of eucalyptus and other equally strange and foul smelling medicinal unguents.
A Fox Hunt on the Bingly Estate... back in B`Tanika`s perpetual Green and Pleasant land.
.... and avoid feather beds, household dust, animal hair, bird feathers, and.... well, everything really.
I t-h-i-n-k the dice were for a Western Skirmish game called "Once Upon a Time in the West" which may even have pre-dated the first ever Dungeons and Dragons game available for purchase outside the USA.
But get past this flaw (and let’s face it, it is a pretty major frickin defect) and what you have here is one of the most amazingly atmospheric, historical role playing and wargame set of conditions and supporting supplement material ever written for the hobby. The campaign material is also top notch and extremely well put together. The history is fairly well researched, if not a little too biased at times... but I cannot fault its historical accuracy on pretty much all counts; despite the slant, and the bits on loyalist non patriotism, so obviously left out. Then throw in the game`s main `ace` card, and you have a whole new layer of make belief added to the cauldron - macabre gothic horror, and true monsters... a sort of "what if" history thrown in, but rather tastefully done.
To quote the rules book for a second:
Colonial Gothic is a world deeply mired in mysteries, secrets, and plots. The sense of darkness and horror your group will want to experience in your game sessions will rely heavily upon both the Gamemaster’s creativity and the players’ imaginations—and this book provides plenty of ideas and resources to stimulate both. Together, the Gamemaster and the players will craft a story in which the characters will face increasing wickedness and villainy in the world, discovering that while some enemies are all too human, others have never been human at all.
Whether your character is a soldier, grimly facing the brutality of war in the campaigns of the American Revolution, or a witch hunter relentlessly searching out and battling evil, is entirely up to you.
Colonial Gothic is designed with a simple premise: the occult and supernatural are real and extant within the world. Drawing upon history, Colonial Gothic’s perspective is that of the American Colonists: witches are real, devils and monsters run rampant in the world, and Magic can be worked—usually with terrible effect on all involved. Most Colonists have either chosen to deny the supernatural or rationalize it away, while others have been irreversibly damaged by their experiences with it. But some know and accept it for what it is and act accordingly, willingly choosing to place their reputations, faith, and sanity on the line to fight back. Seeing themselves as the last line of defence against the onslaught of evil, these characters war with the terrifying forces that lurk in the shadows.
Yep! pretty gripping stuff alright.
But so too is Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder or a host of other rpg games out there. So why this game in particular?
No! Colonial Gothic is different. First of all, it operates within the precepts of real life history, and simply adds to it all in a way that is quite delightful, and which I can only describe as `fitting nicely into the Imagi-Nation sensibilities`... which, of course, is exactly what I am looking for here. Secondly, it has an intense military feel to it all, with deep overtures of warfare running through its very core, yet nice and discrete in the background. But thirdly, and perhaps paramount to it all... the premise is sound and fully rounded as a conceptual whole.
Here is real history, real events, and real people, set in the time of a real French & Indian, and the American War of Independence, with all the tensions and atmosphere of, perhaps, the French Revolution, The Scarlet Pimpernel, the essence of Ruritania, The Son of Monte Cristo and the Prisoner of Zenda.... all rolled into one, yet totally separate from the European theatre, set in a mostly still unexplored New World, away from prying eyes... which allows me to play about with things, alter history, invent new stuff, and generally indulge in an `Imaginary` world of my very own.
I also like the way Colonial Gothic is written. I really enjoy regularly leafing through the many hundreds of pages of material I have accumulated for this package, and it has become like a favourite book I like to read in my study, or take to bed with me to read on those cold winter evenings.
So would I use the Colonial Gothic rules to play a full campaign. No... oh gosh, never! I really do like the D12 system Colonial Gothic promotes.... or rather, I want to like it, I really do! But the rules are just too clunky, too messy for me ever to pay them any serious consideration. But so as not to `throw the baby out with the bath water` I have used much of the `tone` Colonial Gothic evokes, allowed it to sink into my psyche and to inspire my imagination to kick-start in its own unique directions. I suppose at the end of the day, I am saying that I really like Colonial Gothic for the way it makes me feel, but it does this without giving me any desire to play the game. Its good reading material and a great source of neat ideas: no more.
Then it struck me one day as I was browsing through my Pathfinder RPG material... Pawns!
These are thick card, stand up tokens... characters, villains and monsters, used by gamers to stand in for role playing game miniatures (at a nice price tag). Actually, they are very attractive, and because they are flat, thick card tokens, they go rather nicely alongside my Warlord Games soldiers.... if only they were the same size as my 28`s.
... but wait!
I suddenly had an idea, and with excited... almost feverish hands, I snatched up one of these pawns (a gentleman merchant in very 18th century looking garb), and rushing into the hall where my glass cabinets full of my latest creations reside, and I placed my pawn beside a painted 28mm flag bearer, resplendent in his B`Tanikan red tunic.
Oh my goodness!
Because of the slight height adjustments... possible due to the plastic slot base the card miniature slides into; my pawn stood, near as damn it, shoulder to shoulder with my drummer. A perfect scale match!! By now I was very excited, and returning to my hobby room, I started to forage about in my Pathfinder pawns box for other pieces I might be able to use. By the end of a very pleasant half an hour of sorting things out, I realised I had just found myself a good couple of hundred nice new pieces to add to my games.
I then went on line and checked out Amazon.uk for additional Pathfinder Pawns, and lo and behold, there were a number of complete rpg sets which might prove ideal for my forthcoming imagi-nation games. I guess we all know what`s now sitting in my Amazon` wish list` ^^