Friday, 7 February 2014
Dusting off the collection
Up until around 10 years ago I was a pretty dedicated wargamer but family and work commitments meant that my collection ended up being stored in boxes and stowed away in various cupboards. Amongst the boxes was a fairly large collection of Westwind Gothic Horror 28mm models that had been professionally painted and which I loved, but had never seen the tabletop as neither my son, or wargaming mates showed any interest in the rules or subject.
Having been made redundant I found I had quite a bit of time on my hands and I started to catch up on my erstwhile hobby and discovered the In Her Majesty's Name rules published by Osprey. This is a gaming system based on a fictional or alternative history based around the Late Victorian era, popularly called Steampunk. The rules themselves have a fairly simple combat and shooting system, a dice drived morale matrix which can be picked up very quickly, so hopefully I can get some non-gaming mates interested in giving them a go.
IHMN also includes a section on mystical powers, as well as steam driven scifi weaponry and weird science, although there is no section of Gothic Horror rules the system lends itself, in fact encourages players to develop their own rules and scenarios to meet their requirements, so it seemed to me that the whole thing was worth a punt. At least pulling all of this together would fill my free time, which I was finding quite a bit of.
So checking through my figures I had plenty of Eastern European villager types, vampires, werewolves as well as Polizei and Ruritanian/Prussian military types. Looking online there are plenty of ranges available that would fill any gaps so I started thinking about a back story for my games. I have always loved the cinema, and one of my favourite films has been The Prisoner of Zenda based on Antony Hope's novel, so it was a no brainer that Ruritania became the playing backdrop. merging that into the IHMN game scenarios with a touch of Biggles Goes to War and Hammer horror films including Raputin the Mad Monk was an easy thing to do so long as you ignore a slight stretch of historical reality
Basing the backstory in the Northern Balkans in the 1890s allows me to include the Austro-Hungarians, Tsarist Russia, Prussia, Ottoman Turkey, Serbia, Greece and numerous other emerging or submerging states in the region. So Ruritania moved a few hundred miles down the Danube valley to help develop the game. The historical powers of the Late Victorian period provide a number of options for scenarios. I also added an international criminal/terrorist organisation, an emerging fictional Nationalist group, crazy scientists, dictatorial corrupt politicians and rulers, as well as multinational vampirical factions manipulating the human societies for their own advantage.
Typically for me this all meant that I needed lots of additional figures, and that meant they had to be painted, and my eyes are really blurry and my hands far less steady than they used to be so it has been a long haul getting everything together to actually start playing but I am almost there now.
Finally I needed to check my terrain. When my marriage ended a lot of my wargames terrain was handed out to other players as I had nowhere to store my collection. Luckily IHMN is designed to be played in a smaller arena than most wargames a square metre being the norm. Emptying my store cupboard, and spare drawers I found a number of French Indian War cabins and fences that can be used for Eastern Europe, plus a trawl of E bay delivered a number of suitable resin cast items at a very reasonable price. Ainsty Castings provided a great selection of bits and bobs like barrels, piles of sacks and boxes. Finally a few trips to Costa left me with enough stirring sticks to build palisades and fences to help fill out the table.