What the Roman’s did for us
I have been thinking about starting a new period but using some of my existing figures from various nations/periods both fantasy; sci-fi and historical which got me to thinking a bit about imaginary countries/worlds, I wanted to use my imagination and some good old fashioned artistic license to pay homage to Tony Bath and his “Hyborian Campaign” and Jim Webster’s “Tsarina Chronicles” that appeared in Miniature Wargames 10 years ago. Now as an eager teenager before I discovered girls I read the Look & Learn Magazine primarily to expand my mind as my parents wanted me to be “smarter than the average bear” but unbeknownst to them it contained the Trigan Empire comic strip. Which was great as I had a weekly sci-fi story amid all the improving, educational stuff that my mum and dad really wanted me to read? It told the story of a planets culture that contained an educational blend of science and Earth-like ancient civilizations. A point that I stressed at every opportunity to my parents who were keen for me to “Get an Ology” and it must have worked because I got one.
The Trigan Empire was for me brilliant it was beautifully illustrated – by artists such as Don Lawrence; Oliver Frey; Gerry Wood; Philip Corke; Henry Winter; Ramon Sola; Ron Embleton and Miguel Quesada who all had a fantastic eye for scenery, figures and technology which they interpreted in their own varied and interesting styles, and their use of colour made it the best. The stories written by Mike Butterworth and Ken Roscoe were also easy for me to get my 14 year old head around. So much of the “mainstream” Sci-Fiction seemed to me too deep and meaningful; I wanted the action and adventure. Plus there was a real sense of history behind each Trigan Empire story (it had been running for over ten years by the time I started reading it). Also though, it was proper sci-fiction the strips looked to me like retelling of Homers Odyssey; Pilgrims Progress or Westward Ho! They brought a plausible reality to the planet where the stories were based that made them all the more believable where whilst the various characters and peoples had access to advanced technology (E.g. Hover tanks and cars) they lived in homes that looked contemporary. Although the horses of Elekton called Kreeds could be pale blue; green or green and blue palominos.
A number of the societies on Elekton to my mind seemed to be based on various ancient cultures that had existed in Earth’s history. Chief among these was the Trigan Empire, apparently modelled on the Roman Empire. This similarity even extended to capital city of the Trigan Empire being built on five hills, in a very similar fashion to the Seven Hills of Rome. Comparisons could also be drawn with Hericon, which one of the Trigans main rivals in power on the planet, whose appearance seemed to mirror that of the late Byzantine Empire.
The series was a strange blend of low and high tech with Zallus or Steppe Nomads armed with swords fighting Trigan troops equipped to my eyes like a 1980s Rogue Trader Army. Trigo was the founder of the Empire, with his two brothers Brag and Klud; he was the leader of one of the Vorg Tribes. At this time the bad guys the “Lokans” under King Zorth were starting a big military buildup with the intention of taking over the entire planet. However, Trigo had a vision of a union of all the Vorg peoples (Somewhat of a Genghis Khan Style figure), as he knew that Zorth was intent on world conquest and felt that if the peoples of the Vorg plains were not united they would be wiped out. When his initial plan to build a capital city on the plains of Vorg fails’, there is a fateful and opportune meeting between the refugees from the technically advanced nation of Tharv which has already been attacked by Loka. Among these refugees was Peric the greatest architect; engineer and scientist on the planet who agreed to help Trigo with his plans as long as his people are allowed to stay with the Vorgs. In future stories Peric seems to be behind many of the great accomplishments of Trigo’s Empire [This allows the Vorgs to go from steppe nomads to an advanced civilization in a matter of years rather centuries]. Whilst Salvia who is Peric’s daughter the main female character in the stores. She is skilled in Tharvish medicine, a trait that would serve the Empire well on a number of occasions, so if Peric is the wisest man on the planet a combination of an Albert Einstein; Sun Tzu and Alan Turing all rolled into one, it is not therefore surprising his daughter is combination of Marie Curie; Mary Seacole and Mary Anning.
The other key characters include Brag – Trigo’s brother, he is a well-meaning man and ever faithful to his brother. However, if Brag has any fault, it is that he can be easily manipulated by those cleverer than himself. Unfortunately this does happen on several occasions with near fatal consequences for the Trigan Empire. Finally there is Janno the son of Brag and nephew to Emperor Trigo. He is a courageous individual, who has a natural aptitude as a fighter pilot. He is friends with Keren, the son of Chief Imbala of the Daveli and Roffa from the City State of Ellul. Janno is often portrayed as a representative of Trigan City to other states, whether it is as an athlete in Olympic style games; as a diplomatic envoy the Nobes or as a Governor General to the Zallus.
The Peoples of Elekton
The peoples of Elekton use a wide variety of beasts of burden; aircraft and automobiles; in the earlier stories the aircraft looked more like spaceships, but they were apparently restricted to the atmosphere of the planet and in the case of Loka their flying wing strategic bombers always remind me of Commander Geordi La Forges visor. Although in later stories they did develop into something more of a hybrid 1940’s to 1950’s style aircraft (E.g. Jet powered Tiger Moths; MiG 15 inspired fighter bombers or a B-25 Mitchell with engines borrowed from a Gloster Meteor). The clothing of the various City States the Nobes; Ellulians; Trigans and Tharv’s were all very similar to that of the Greco-Roman world, with many of the wealthy members of the populace dressed in Toga-like garments, or in the case of the soldiery, in Roman-style armour. Although in some stories that seemed to be only the Palace Guards or the City Watch, whilst the front line combat troops were wearing stalheim style helmets and speztnaz style camouflage fatigues or in a story set in a penal colony they looked like members of Mordian’s Iron Guard. Whilst civilian dress varied from either looking like a Plebian from Attica or that of any rural community in 20th Century Europe. However, it must be said continuity was not a strong point in these stories but “was I bothered”. Then you had the wild Zallus from the borders of the Vorg province who to my mind dressed like South American Gauchos; the Hatashi Samurai style warriors; and my favorites the Daveli Green Skinned Maya who use dinosaurs like we use elephants. However, I still find myself asking the question that I asked aged 14: “If Trigo’s armed forces use space ships and lasers, why did they still fight with swords while wearing Roman style helmets?” That still makes little sense to me.
Therefore, the choice of figures is varied in most scales but my focus is the 28 mm [or as some say the heroic scale] because I’m so short sighted that painting anything smaller is not a good idea. This article I must stress is primarily to give you an idea how to create an imaginary world and you could equally develop a world like Afriborian or Ouargistan that are both situated in an imaginary world that resembles our own planet and its history, but events that took place in our world might be set at different dates or in different places in either of these Worlds, thus making any resemblance between them and real history, people, events and places purely a matter of imagination. Alternatively use Simon Hawke’s Time Wars series for your inspiration where the wars of the future are being fought in the past? Soldiers from both sides are infiltrated into armies of the past during historic battles. An impartial group of referees then evaluates the performances of the future soldiers to award points to the settle the future wars. However, what happens if some of the events and people that we believe to be purely fictional actually existed in the past and then future soldiers interact with them in the past? For example what if Jules Verne classic 20,000 Leagues under the Sea is in fact a true story about a Typhoon Class Ballistic Missile Submarine hijacked and sent back to the 19th Century to change the past and, therefore, history?
Now with the wide availability of plastic figures it would not be too hard for those gifted modelers amongst us to assemble squads of Greco-Roman style figures armed with weapons for the 41st Century. However, I prefer to take what is on offer in white metal and thus my Trigan style forces would be composed of say something similar in style to the Cadian Imperial Guard or i-kore’s Junker Praetorians and Gladiators that will allow you to have a horde of Greco-Roman Sci-Fi troops. Whilst the Hatashi would be easy as there are many excellent ranges of Samurai such as Dixon if like me you favour the heroic scale. Whilst regarding the various desert peoples then one needs look no further than Black Trees Designs Saracens or Ironclad Miniatures Martians. The Daveli would be Aztecs painted green and Copplestone Amazonians; Mirliton Aztecs or Necromunda Ratskins would fit the bill for me and then just add in a few Warhammer Stegadons; i-kore Juggernauts or Sandrunners for transport. Whilst for Trigo’s Palace Guard I personally prefer the Alcantani Dogs of War as a kind of Trigan Swiss Guard or you could ignore all of the above and either run a “Firefly” themed campaign and have a good old space western or base your campaign on Philip Reeves Mortal Engine’s series which would allow you to have squads of “Stalkers” robotic humanoid killing machines each containing a human brain hence giving you an opportunity to add a few Necron to your order of battle if you so desire.
That said the main point of this article is to get people to “think out of the box” for example I’m planning a Chelsea Pensioner Home Guard Unit based on Alternative Armies Dwarves of Krautia because as Jim Webster pointed out “just because something looks like a black powder musket does not mean it actually is one. Culture as well as function decides appearances so it could just as easily be a laser carbine…” For example one of the main characters from Philip Reeves book Darkling Plain the heroine Hester Shaw is armed with a hybrid Jezail/AK 47.
Some of the criteria that I’m looking for in any rules are that they are suitable for solo play; they have to be quick I do not have the time or space to leave a game set up for much more than a day, hence I like very simple rules to get started. Any complexity can always be added later if desired; and they must be fun as that is after all what it is about in the end? They must also work well with few figures per unit, as I do not the time or space or even desire to paint and store and game with hordes of figures. Therefore, here are the basics (very “fast and loose”) which are taken “lock; stock and two smoking barrels” from Donald F. Featherstone book War Games Campaigns published over 42 years ago! Plus ideas from the Old School Wargaming Yahoo Group.
The Campaign Zallus Uprising
The Zallus as mentioned earlier are a race of warriors living on the Border of the Empire, one day their dreaded cavalry poured over the frontier from their citadel of Skorpiad and attack with only one aim “Death to all Trigans”, their force consists of 56 cavalry and 105 infantry from the their Dryak allies. They had been encouraged to invade by Trigo’s brother Klud, the power hungry Klud was in turn being supported by King Zorth, as Loka is once again planning war with the Trigan Empire.
The 101th Ellulian Guards Regiment mounted on Kreeds (A force formed in two squadrons of I5 men each) and the 51st Tharvian Heavy Infantry (Seven companies of 20 men each) are based at Fort Gallas. Upon hearing that the Zallus have crossed the frontier the Commanding Officer Colonel Zelph moves his forces to intercept them, but he leaves one company of Tharv’s at Gallas and another at the main settlement of Hericon with Governor Mazaratto – They also have one of the new Tharv designed field guns. As this is a very mountainous and backward region of the Trigan Empire motorised transport is of little practical help and as the Empire is again about to engage in yet another life and death struggle with Loka there is no available air support.
Spotted around the province are four large settlements – Trigonium; Zabriz, Doum and Zootha, each of which is defended by five members of the local Thara Home Guard Unit.
The campaign can if you prefer be a combination map/war-games affair and is decided on the following points system:
Each Trigan Soldier killed counts 5 points to the Zallus, each Trigan officer is 10 points and the Commanding Officer Zelph is 20 points. Each Zallusian killed counts 5 points to the Trigans. Map moves are made and battles take place in the usual way when map contacts are made, but fighting for the settlements takes place on the map (unless those settlements are reinforced by the soldiers when normal fighting takes place).
Each settlement destroyed counts certain points to the Zallus, when the Zallusians reach a settlement an six sided dice is thrown I, 2, 3 there is a surprise and 4, 5, 6 the settlers have been warned. The settlement is then destroyed as under:
With surprise element:
15 Zallusians destroy the settlement and settlers in two moves, they win 25 points and but lose two warriors (10 points).
20 Zallusians or more destroy a settlement in one move, win 50 points and lose 3 warriors.
15 Zallusians take four moves to destroy settlement, win 25 points and lose 3 men.
20 or more Zallusians take two moves, win 35 points and lose 4 men.
If the Zallus capture Hericon or Gallas they gain 100 points in addition to those scored through killing Trigan soldiers. If a supply column is destroyed, Zallusians win 25 points. Destruction of the heavy mortar scores 50 points and may only be done if it is captured and 3, 4, 5 or 6 thrown.
The campaign is decided by the Zallusians gaining 500 points, or by the Trigans capturing Skorpiad. If the Zallus decide that they cannot possibly make this total they may sue for peace at any time and hand Klud over to the Trigans.
This is very much depends on your preferred rule sets for me as mentioned earlier I like to keep it very simple so Trigan Soldiers will move one square per move across country and two squares on roads, cavalry double. Zallusians move 1.5 squares across country and 2 on roads, cavalry 4 squares.
Again this is very much depends on the rules that you want to use and suits you best. However, I would suggest that if the Zallus attack the Trigans on a road running through woods or bluffs, etc., they may try to secure surprise if they can throw either a 4, 5 or 6 this is achieved and they have first move and first firing when within range.
After battle, throw a dice for each man killed all 1’s and 2’s are permanently out of campaign, remainder may count for future battles.
I know some may consider this a bit incoherent, and pretty sure it is not to everyone’s taste, but it works for me as a solo gamer, fighting a battle to see how the story played out. In many ways it is to my mind more like “playing with toy soldiers” the way I did when I was a little kid, before learning there were such a thing as rules sets (or even rules!) and we had Marathons and not Snickers for a snack between games i.e. it was fun!
I also tend to agree with the view put forward on the Old School Wargaming Yahoo Group that do we actually get more realistic results with more detailed sets of rules and regulations?.