Monday, May 14, 2007

A Morning at Murdock's --

First let me thank all of you who wished me better health. I'm feeling a lot better than I was, but as Murdock can testify, I've still got a wicked persistent cough.

I finally had a bit of free time and there was supposed to be some "Hordes of the Things" being played at Murdock's this morning, so I drove up there. It was exactly 30 minutes from my door to his . . . a big change from the two and an half hours I had to budget when I had to take the ferry.

As it turned out, due to Mother's Day and a few other developments, no one else was able to make it. So the two of us mainly worked on other projects and talked about various gaming subjects.

Much of our discussions (naturally) revolved around the "Wars for Arcadian Glory". I was able to explain some of the newer facets of the rules I'm writing. We also got into a discussion on our "grand overview" concept of our battles merely being a small side-show for the great wars between the Emperor and the Elector.

Now our plan has been (and continues to be) one that will allow new players to join either side with very small forces. Anyway, while discussing this, Murdock had a brainstorm.

We certainly have not worked out all of the details . . . well, let's be honest here . . . we haven't worked out any details. But his idea was that there are numerous 18th century bloggers out there . . . many of whom have no opponents . . . his thought (which I like) was to see if we could find some way to incorporate a number of you into this overall "Emperor vs Elector" conflict.

He had a number of ideas . . . some of which he might blog about . . . but my basic question is "who might be interested in participating in such a campaign?"

Obviously battles would have to be fought where they could; and we (or others) would have to "proxy" your various forces.

I should point out that neither Murdock nor I have any intention of being either the Emperor or Elector . . . indeed, we sort of envision someone out their in "internetland" taking those roles . . . or perhaps a committee of advisors for each "grand monarch".

It is possible to have a blog with multiple posters (not just comments) . . . and that is what Murdock envisioned. A space where insults could be traded and events related. This would not replace any of our individual blogs, but would be a "communal blog" that supplements our various blogs.

Oh yes, the way we see it, any of our small countries would be completely free to switch sides at any time.

Is anyone interested?


-- Jeff of Saxe-Bearstein

10 comments:

Snickering Corpses said...

Given the newly established friendship between Saxe-Bearstein and Hesse-Engelburg, I'm sure that Their Graces would take great distress at any attack upon Saxe-Bearstein, and might be drawn into such a conflict.

Snickering Corpses said...

Another thought...you two might want to hit up Alte Fritz for a chat, since he was looking to establish an Emperor at the next BIG Battalion game. Maybe the two plotlines could be rolled together?

Oldsmoblogger said...

I could bring the Union Real de Scandalusia y Cuatrofenia into the question. We are located other side of Gallia, about where you'd expect on the Iberian peninsula.

Bluebear Jeff said...

oldsmoblogger, I need an email address and your country's blog address. You can email them to me directly at . . .

bluebear@uniserve.com

East Riding Militia said...

As the representative of the Bishopric of Uber Gruntshuffen, I will be informing Lord Heinrich of this proposal with the utmost haste. I have no doubt however that our gracious Lord will partake fully in aiding the political forces acting upon all civilised states.

Yours etc

Hubert von Speckmann

Bluebear Jeff said...

east riding militia,

I also need your email to send you an invitation to join.

People please remember that unless you have your blog identity set to include your email, what I get is an address of . . .

"noreply-comment@blogger.com"

. . . which doesn't get you invited to join. I need a real address (which you can send directly to me at bluebear@uniserve.com


-- Jeff

Richard Brooks said...

His Imperial Highness, Protector of the Divine Mistress, and Lead Worshipper of the Moon Goddesses, Bob the XXIst of the Reconstituted Byzantium sends his felicitations to Saxe-Bearstein requesting an audience.

Sorry no blog spot, also I have my own 1750s world but am willing to travel to your world to take part.
richard@theheliograph.com

MurdocK said...

I knew there was just enough interest to get this started Jeff.

The first step should be to establish some 'discussion boundaries'.

Our overall plan should be to have a deadline date set (preferably by either the Elector's or the Emperor's making some sort of completely unreasonable demand of the other) so that the 'army of observation' will have to face an attack (thus generating a tabletop game) on that given date.

I sugggest late summer or early fall, since the food stocks will be full and breweries/distilleries working flat out!

abdul666 said...

THE PRESIPALITY OF MONTE CRISTO

This obscure country reached its peak of happiness and welfare (if not glory) by the ‘Tricorn’ times. It was later submerged by the tsunami of revolutionary and napoleonic wars, and so forgotten that a french novelist could later use its name for an explicitely fictitious county without prompting any comment.
(If Montecristo is preempted, as are Montecarlo, Montenegro, Montevideo & thus Monteaudio, and Montezuma, one can resort to Montebianco, -rosso, -verde,- aranciato,- ,-violo, -lavando, -illalico, -ventosi, -scosceso, -benedetto, -maldito, -indifferente, -gelato, -pizzario, -vincitore,- vittorioso,-giance -modesto or even MontedeVenus /Montevenusio (a little « too much » ?, there not to mention Monte Casta-Piana or Monte Verolato…).

Geography.
It is said that "Happy peoples have no History": more importantly perhaps "Happy peoples do NOT appear in other peoples Histories", and Monte Cristo was blessed by geography. Do not search it on old maps : not only its territory is really tiny, but Monte Cristo is *always* under that thick black line marking the border between France and the County of Nice (belonging then to the Kingdom of Savoy). So none was sure of who owned it, and while both kingdoms have the border watched by their customs officers, none sent tax collectors – more important for the Monte Cristans than any national allegiance. Topographically, Monte Cristo is not even a true peninsula like Monaco ; rather an island linked to the main land by a rather long isthmus so low and narrow that it would be flooded half the time is the Mediterranean was tidal. So, unless having some real business to do in Monte Cristo, no one would bother to make a detour to visit this Pearl of the Cote d’Azur.

History.
The recorded History of Monte Cristo starts at the end of the french Wars of Religion – they have not spared the peninsula, the monestary, all records, all churches and what passed for a town had been thoroughly burned down. Here came one François des Entommeures, defrocked abbot turned successful warhound, with his now loot-loaded but unemployed free company. Now, as most soldiers, pirates and other blooded adventurers, François and his men just dreamed of a farmer’s quiet end of life, in a quiet removed corner of the world. Where someone holding revolted memories of the past (ex)actions of the Black Company (as it was known – François had a good sense of communication) would have a hard time to find them. For instance, all those capitains and brothers in arms in other bodies who discovered the disappearance of their silver teaspoons and other war treasures, coincidently just after des Entommeures company had left the camp. So the Black Company settled here; on the ruins of what had been a rather small town they built for themselves the equivalent of an imperial roman ‘villa’ – a self-sufficient, mainly agricultural domaisne. They had the required skills, most of them having began life doing a peaceful job, before total destruction left them with no other possibility than join the soldiery.
François wished to be accepted by the population to be immergeed within it is the best way to pass unnoticed by outsuders, but he was also an humanist at heart) and to fully integrate it in what was the equivalent of the political life. In the Black Company, like among a pirate crew, harsh discipline was associated with a rough form of democracy, so des Entommures submitted his leadership on their new country to a vote. It was the very first time in human memory that someone cared to ask the Monte Cristans for their opinion, and they were begininng to really *like* those armed strangers who did not rape nor took what they want and burned what they could not carry away. So of course they approved any proposal, including the rather heretic view that women were voters the same as men (for François, the female camp followers were as respectable veterans as any of his men, and full members of his Company). Voting right for women, like abolition of slavery, was later forgotten in the Code Napoléon. So it was instituted that the rule of the Prince, and of his proposed heir later, had to be validated by public acclamation : hence his title of Prince Ovationné par le Peuple comme Président (Prince ovationned as President by the People), POPP for short, and the designation of Monte Cristo as a Presipality. Actually François, no longer capitain, was nicknamed ‘Padre’ for his religious background, and the unofficial but affectuous title passed to his successors.
Some of the initial decrees were rather drastic. To prevent the return of religion-base bloodshed, rebuilding any chapel or church was officially forbidden. Unofficially, everybody knew that ‘La Désolation’ was not a new agricultural building but a chapel dedicated to Virgin Maria de la Desolacion (the priest who consecrated it was a spanish jesuit), and that the merry burgess living here was a catholic priest with civilian clothes and habits. For the newcomer, the most striking discovery was that bells marked the hours rather than the daily and weekly rythm of the religious practice. Another decision, based on the observation that individual wealth gives power and that power corrupts, was that any enterprise that could not be carried out at the lower familial level had to be cooperative. Since serfdom had never been officially abolished, every acre of land, the mill, the baker’s owen, the public foutain… were theoretically the property of some unknown Lord: to receive full property of their lands and homes was enough to satisfy the ambitions of any Monte Cristan for several generations. And, because of their natural inclinations, the next generations preferred the lenient rule of the Padre to the feverish influence of some hyperactive greedy entrepreneur. The restrictions on hunting were also willingly accepted (until then he activity had been strictly forbidden, anyway): not to overexploit the fauna for fear of exhaust it suited perfectly the natural tendency of Monte Cristans not to overexploit themselves physically for fear of exhaustion. Those mad keen on shooting gathered regularly to shoot down berets – the most propicious piece of garment to be thrown as a flying target. On special occasions team competitions were organized, the winner having punched most holes in the berets of the other team color.
Besides, and perhaps with more long-term effects, the first POPP invested highly in two directions : education and distillery. Education previously was the duty of the Church ; now it was free, non-religious and compulsory up to the age of twelve. The credo of the Padre was that education gives freedom of choice. You can chose to forget what you learned at the university and go sheppherding, but what choice has one who never left the company of his parent’s sheep? So a good part of the (respectable) loot gathered for years by the mercenary was initially used to invite competent teachers. Allowance were paid for those wishing to keep studying after twelve, as a compensation for their absence at the family farm, shop or workshop. Generous grants were alloted to the few wishing to study further in foreign universities, provided their discipline was deemed useful for the Presipality. A few jurists – the less the best, but you need some solicitors on the french model to write honest contracts, and a few judges. But barristers/ lawyers none ; lawyers (and insurance brokers) are free game and shot on sight in Monte Cristo. Mainly teachers, doctors, surgeons, apothecaries, veterinarians.
Like many other, the burned monestary had distillated –as a medecine, of course– his strong green liqueur. It had the repute to heal anything (for a moment at least), from foot corn to headache, from hemorrhoids to toothache, furuncles and broken hearts. The recipe had been recovered, so the POPP built a large, up-to-date distillery in his ‘Ville Neuve’, with an eye on export. Locally the liqueur was highly appreciated, but used only as a medecine. It was common knowledge that at least 37 different plants had to be progressively added during the 3 years maturation process, but as the monks had said it required also ‘a lot of human sweat’, no one among the uninitiated (now everyone except the POPP and very few chosen apothecaries involved in the production) knew if it has to be taken figuratively or litteraly, and silly rumors about other human fluids were wispered. Of course, to be efficient a medecine has to be somehow disgusting, but as an apperitive or digestive spirit… But as an export the ‘Green Monte Cristo’ (some 78% alcohol) was a confirmed success, specially when the custom was instituted to place a green lizard within each bottle, as a very distinctive trademark. The profits represent a large part of the Presipality income and help to keep taxes at a very low level (for the natives – the sojourn taxes for foreigners,merchants or the occasional tourist are one quite another register).

Next generation, the Constitution proclamed (and approved by referendum) by POPP Pausole ‘the Thelemite’ :
-art.1 : Do no harm to your fellow man,
-art.2 : This fairly understood, live as you wish,
insured a rather quiet political and social life.
Another law introduced by POPP Pierre Louys ‘the Tryphemite’ stipulated that ugliness only being obscene, young and faily built people can go all naked (though most still wear shoes, and some form of head protection against the sun at its hottest) while old or ugly are to wear a complete burka. But, as most Monte Cristan laws, this one was officially declared ‘incitative rather than coercive’. Male foreigners who misunderstand the nakedness of nubile Monte Cristans soon feed the lobsters and crayfishs – a major product of local fishing.


Monte Cristo by the mid. 18° century.
Life is essentially rural. Taxes are low and the living is easy. Among remnants of old feudal duties is the ‘Saracens Watch’, each male in turn having to pass some time in one of the small igloo-like watchposts that crown every hight along the shore. These millenium-old hemispherical huts are totally covered by ivy, the shadow within is extremely pleasant, so nobody complains to be dispensed periodically from work to keep the watch. To maintain the roads and bridges is also a collective duty, but traffic is low and landslides quite rare. A weak corps of vigiles, 1/4 only being full-time professionals, is quite enough to police the Presipality (the Monte Cristans are as paceful as they are vocal), and double as firefighters. The military is limited to a platoon of Presipapal Guards, retired from service in foreign armies.
Monte Cristo exports mainly salted anchovy and products of its agriculture : dried fruits (abricots, figs, several types of grapes), and from themid-17° century its candied fruits are known all around the western mediterranean sea. The local weak rosé wine is only drunk locally, but its recent bubbly variant is gaining a (probably excessive) reputation. Symetrically the ‘Double A’ , a strong decoction of anise and absinth to be used as a ‘long drink’, is rather shunned by the natives (they know better) but widely exported. Since the last years of Louis XIV of France the POPPs encouraged and subventionned floriculture, mainly as a source of perfumes. Either as crude essential oils or processed into lotions, oils, milks, toilet waters, expensive perfumes, unguents or salves, the products of Monte Cristan perfumery are said to be known, and even used, from Gibraltar to Edimburg, from Lorient to Saint-Petersburg. All products are ‘directly from the farm’ or from cooperatives. Additionally the first POPP created a small artistic glass-workshop in his Ville Neuve, and the creations of Monte Cristan glass-blowers, as delicate as brittle, are highly appreciated in the highest Courts.

Recent developments of international relationships
The current POPP is fully aware of the ominous boots and saber rattlings that shake the whole continent, and perfectly conscient that being, small, inocuous, retired and deprived of any strategical value would not suffice to protect Monte Cristo from a general conflagration. Memories of the Wars of Religion are not forgotten. As for an ‘armed neutrality’, Monte Cristo is not Switzerland and would barely repel two Xebecs-loads of pirates from the Barbary Coast. So to save the neutrality of his little country the POPP took a rather innovative approach. In time of war small neutral countries not only are swarming with spies and agents of every kind, but –specially if the weather and cooking are pleasant– are the place of choice for those secret, unofficial contacts that always precede open negotiations. Such places soon become of such importance for the belligerants (and powerfuk neutrals) that all tacitly agree to respect and protect their neutrality and sovereignty. Having a bank recognized for its total discretion is a bonus in such circumstances, so the POPP created oone, vaunting its secrecy and system of back doors (as in any well-kept bordello, those who leave do not meet tose who enter). Then, its heavenly weather notwithstanding, people need a credible excuse to come to such a backward place as Monte Cristo. Fortunately the country has several hot thermal springs, which had some repute for water cures in the late medieval times, specially when one enterprising bishop linked them to the popular legend of the Three Saintes Maries de la Mer. The POPP rebuilt the thermal bath and, in an additional stroke of genius, invented what we know now as ‘thalassotherapy’. Flyers abundantly describing the new cure, the perfect weather blessing Monte Cristo and the odd vestimentary habits of the younger part of its population, were distributed in any Court of Europe, from the most powerful ones to the 300+ minor in the Holly Empire. The bait for undercover diplomats was set .
THE PRESIPALITY OF MONTE CRISTO

This obscure country reached its peak of happiness and welfare (if not glory) by the ‘Tricorn’ times. It was later submerged by the tsunami of revolutionary and napoleonic wars, and so forgotten that a french novelist could later use its name for an explicitely fictitious county without prompting any comment.
(If Montecristo is preempted, as are Montecarlo, Montenegro, Montevideo & thus Monteaudio, and Montezuma, one can resort to Montebianco, -rosso, -verde,- aranciato,- ,-violo, -lavando, -illalico, -ventosi, -scosceso, -benedetto, -maldito, -indifferente, -gelato, -pizzario, -vincitore,- vittorioso,-giance -modesto or even MontedeVenus /Montevenusio (a little « too much » ?, there not to mention Monte Casta-Piana or Monte Verolato…).

Geography.
It is said that "Happy peoples have no History": more importantly perhaps "Happy peoples do NOT appear in other peoples Histories", and Monte Cristo was blessed by geography. Do not search it on old maps : not only its territory is really tiny, but Monte Cristo is *always* under that thick black line marking the border between France and the County of Nice (belonging then to the Kingdom of Savoy). So none was sure of who owned it, and while both kingdoms have the border watched by their customs officers, none sent tax collectors – more important for the Monte Cristans than any national allegiance. Topographically, Monte Cristo is not even a true peninsula like Monaco ; rather an island linked to the main land by a rather long isthmus so low and narrow that it would be flooded half the time is the Mediterranean was tidal. So, unless having some real business to do in Monte Cristo, no one would bother to make a detour to visit this Pearl of the Cote d’Azur.

History.
The recorded History of Monte Cristo starts at the end of the french Wars of Religion – they have not spared the peninsula, the monestary, all records, all churches and what passed for a town had been thoroughly burned down. Here came one François des Entommeures, defrocked abbot turned successful warhound, with his now loot-loaded but unemployed free company. Now, as most soldiers, pirates and other blooded adventurers, François and his men just dreamed of a farmer’s quiet end of life, in a quiet removed corner of the world. Where someone holding revolted memories of the past (ex)actions of the Black Company (as it was known – François had a good sense of communication) would have a hard time to find them. For instance, all those capitains and brothers in arms in other bodies who discovered the disappearance of their silver teaspoons and other war treasures, coincidently just after des Entommeures company had left the camp. So the Black Company settled here; on the ruins of what had been a rather small town they built for themselves the equivalent of an imperial roman ‘villa’ – a self-sufficient, mainly agricultural domaisne. They had the required skills, most of them having began life doing a peaceful job, before total destruction left them with no other possibility than join the soldiery.
François wished to be accepted by the population to be immergeed within it is the best way to pass unnoticed by outsuders, but he was also an humanist at heart) and to fully integrate it in what was the equivalent of the political life. In the Black Company, like among a pirate crew, harsh discipline was associated with a rough form of democracy, so des Entommures submitted his leadership on their new country to a vote. It was the very first time in human memory that someone cared to ask the Monte Cristans for their opinion, and they were begininng to really *like* those armed strangers who did not rape nor took what they want and burned what they could not carry away. So of course they approved any proposal, including the rather heretic view that women were voters the same as men (for François, the female camp followers were as respectable veterans as any of his men, and full members of his Company). Voting right for women, like abolition of slavery, was later forgotten in the Code Napoléon. So it was instituted that the rule of the Prince, and of his proposed heir later, had to be validated by public acclamation : hence his title of Prince Ovationné par le Peuple comme Président (Prince ovationned as President by the People), POPP for short, and the designation of Monte Cristo as a Presipality. Actually François, no longer capitain, was nicknamed ‘Padre’ for his religious background, and the unofficial but affectuous title passed to his successors.
Some of the initial decrees were rather drastic. To prevent the return of religion-base bloodshed, rebuilding any chapel or church was officially forbidden. Unofficially, everybody knew that ‘La Désolation’ was not a new agricultural building but a chapel dedicated to Virgin Maria de la Desolacion (the priest who consecrated it was a spanish jesuit), and that the merry burgess living here was a catholic priest with civilian clothes and habits. For the newcomer, the most striking discovery was that bells marked the hours rather than the daily and weekly rythm of the religious practice. Another decision, based on the observation that individual wealth gives power and that power corrupts, was that any enterprise that could not be carried out at the lower familial level had to be cooperative. Since serfdom had never been officially abolished, every acre of land, the mill, the baker’s owen, the public foutain… were theoretically the property of some unknown Lord: to receive full property of their lands and homes was enough to satisfy the ambitions of any Monte Cristan for several generations. And, because of their natural inclinations, the next generations preferred the lenient rule of the Padre to the feverish influence of some hyperactive greedy entrepreneur. The restrictions on hunting were also willingly accepted (until then he activity had been strictly forbidden, anyway): not to overexploit the fauna for fear of exhaust it suited perfectly the natural tendency of Monte Cristans not to overexploit themselves physically for fear of exhaustion. Those mad keen on shooting gathered regularly to shoot down berets – the most propicious piece of garment to be thrown as a flying target. On special occasions team competitions were organized, the winner having punched most holes in the berets of the other team color.
Besides, and perhaps with more long-term effects, the first POPP invested highly in two directions : education and distillery. Education previously was the duty of the Church ; now it was free, non-religious and compulsory up to the age of twelve. The credo of the Padre was that education gives freedom of choice. You can chose to forget what you learned at the university and go sheppherding, but what choice has one who never left the company of his parent’s sheep? So a good part of the (respectable) loot gathered for years by the mercenary was initially used to invite competent teachers. Allowance were paid for those wishing to keep studying after twelve, as a compensation for their absence at the family farm, shop or workshop. Generous grants were alloted to the few wishing to study further in foreign universities, provided their discipline was deemed useful for the Presipality. A few jurists – the less the best, but you need some solicitors on the french model to write honest contracts, and a few judges. But barristers/ lawyers none ; lawyers (and insurance brokers) are free game and shot on sight in Monte Cristo. Mainly teachers, doctors, surgeons, apothecaries, veterinarians.
Like many other, the burned monestary had distillated –as a medecine, of course– his strong green liqueur. It had the repute to heal anything (for a moment at least), from foot corn to headache, from hemorrhoids to toothache, furuncles and broken hearts. The recipe had been recovered, so the POPP built a large, up-to-date distillery in his ‘Ville Neuve’, with an eye on export. Locally the liqueur was highly appreciated, but used only as a medecine. It was common knowledge that at least 37 different plants had to be progressively added during the 3 years maturation process, but as the monks had said it required also ‘a lot of human sweat’, no one among the uninitiated (now everyone except the POPP and very few chosen apothecaries involved in the production) knew if it has to be taken figuratively or litteraly, and silly rumors about other human fluids were wispered. Of course, to be efficient a medecine has to be somehow disgusting, but as an apperitive or digestive spirit… But as an export the ‘Green Monte Cristo’ (some 78% alcohol) was a confirmed success, specially when the custom was instituted to place a green lizard within each bottle, as a very distinctive trademark. The profits represent a large part of the Presipality income and help to keep taxes at a very low level (for the natives – the sojourn taxes for foreigners,merchants or the occasional tourist are one quite another register).

Next generation, the Constitution proclamed (and approved by referendum) by POPP Pausole ‘the Thelemite’ :
-art.1 : Do no harm to your fellow man,
-art.2 : This fairly understood, live as you wish,
insured a rather quiet political and social life.
Another law introduced by POPP Pierre Louys ‘the Tryphemite’ stipulated that ugliness only being obscene, young and faily built people can go all naked (though most still wear shoes, and some form of head protection against the sun at its hottest) while old or ugly are to wear a complete burka. But, as most Monte Cristan laws, this one was officially declared ‘incitative rather than coercive’. Male foreigners who misunderstand the nakedness of nubile Monte Cristans soon feed the lobsters and crayfishs – a major product of local fishing.


Monte Cristo by the mid. 18° century.
Life is essentially rural. Taxes are low and the living is easy. Among remnants of old feudal duties is the ‘Saracens Watch’, each male in turn having to pass some time in one of the small igloo-like watchposts that crown every hight along the shore. These millenium-old hemispherical huts are totally covered by ivy, the shadow within is extremely pleasant, so nobody complains to be dispensed periodically from work to keep the watch. To maintain the roads and bridges is also a collective duty, but traffic is low and landslides quite rare. A weak corps of vigiles, 1/4 only being full-time professionals, is quite enough to police the Presipality (the Monte Cristans are as paceful as they are vocal), and double as firefighters. The military is limited to a platoon of Presipapal Guards, retired from service in foreign armies.
Monte Cristo exports mainly salted anchovy and products of its agriculture : dried fruits (abricots, figs, several types of grapes), and from themid-17° century its candied fruits are known all around the western mediterranean sea. The local weak rosé wine is only drunk locally, but its recent bubbly variant is gaining a (probably excessive) reputation. Symetrically the ‘Double A’ , a strong decoction of anise and absinth to be used as a ‘long drink’, is rather shunned by the natives (they know better) but widely exported. Since the last years of Louis XIV of France the POPPs encouraged and subventionned floriculture, mainly as a source of perfumes. Either as crude essential oils or processed into lotions, oils, milks, toilet waters, expensive perfumes, unguents or salves, the products of Monte Cristan perfumery are said to be known, and even used, from Gibraltar to Edimburg, from Lorient to Saint-Petersburg. All products are ‘directly from the farm’ or from cooperatives. Additionally the first POPP created a small artistic glass-workshop in his Ville Neuve, and the creations of Monte Cristan glass-blowers, as delicate as brittle, are highly appreciated in the highest Courts.

Recent developments of international relationships
The current POPP is fully aware of the ominous boots and saber rattlings that shake the whole continent, and perfectly conscient that being, small, inocuous, retired and deprived of any strategical value would not suffice to protect Monte Cristo from a general conflagration. Memories of the Wars of Religion are not forgotten. As for an ‘armed neutrality’, Monte Cristo is not Switzerland and would barely repel two Xebecs-loads of pirates from the Barbary Coast. So to save the neutrality of his little country the POPP took a rather innovative approach. In time of war small neutral countries not only are swarming with spies and agents of every kind, but –specially if the weather and cooking are pleasant– are the place of choice for those secret, unofficial contacts that always precede open negotiations. Such places soon become of such importance for the belligerants (and powerfuk neutrals) that all tacitly agree to respect and protect their neutrality and sovereignty. Having a bank recognized for its total discretion is a bonus in such circumstances, so the POPP created oone, vaunting its secrecy and system of back doors (as in any well-kept bordello, those who leave do not meet tose who enter). Then, its heavenly weather notwithstanding, people need a credible excuse to come to such a backward place as Monte Cristo. Fortunately the country has several hot thermal springs, which had some repute for water cures in the late medieval times, specially when one enterprising bishop linked them to the popular legend of the Three Saintes Maries de la Mer. The POPP rebuilt the thermal bath and, in an additional stroke of genius, invented what we know now as ‘thalassotherapy’. Flyers abundantly describing the new cure, the perfect weather blessing Monte Cristo and the odd vestimentary habits of the younger part of its population, were distributed in any Court of Europe, from the most powerful ones to the 300+ minor in the Holly Empire. The bait for undercover diplomats was set .

abdul666 said...

From solo wargaming to world-wilde campaigns (and back again)

Some of us wargamers live in a desert, hobby-wise, and are condemned to solo gaming. They can then feel somehow marginalized, despite the possibilities of exchange via the Internet. But now they can play a more active part in a collective effort. Web campaigns (such as the one on the 'Emperor vs Elector blog) associate players from different continents: it will happen that the armies of John in Ottawa will challenge the forces of James in Sydney. Unless both are millionaires they cannot meet face to face to play the battle. Having the game played by only one of them with a local friend would be highly unsatisfactory for a lot of reasons. Now, they are battlegamers to the heart, they do not want the decision to rest on several dice throws - they want a detailled battle report, where the exploits & failures of each & every general and regiment is precisely recorded. They need a proxy to fight the battle for them and report it.
Here enters our solo wargamer, isolated say in Rio de Janeiro. What rules he uses is irrelevant - anyway no good battle report refers to the games mechanisms: would you imagine a witness of Fontenoy describing the battle in a letter to the Court, who would interrupt the entralling flow of events for a discussion of the physics of a cannonball trajectory, or the physiology of the exhilarating effect of black powder smoke? No matter if he uses big batallions or DBx-scaled skeletal units. What minis he deploys on the tabletop is meaningless, no one will bother -or even know- if he has to muster WWI russians &/or unpainted indians and cow-boys to field the required number of units. The only point of importance is a strict, unambiguous, one-to-one correspondance between the OB and the forces (characters and units) deployed on the tabletop. Actually, to feel unbiased, the battle gamer don't need to know the nationalities of the two armies. He just has to know the map, the exact composition of forces A and B, their initial dispositions and general orders; but he don't have to know who is A and who is B. It would be the duty of some kind of scribe, secretary, to act as a go-between the campaign players and the battle gamer, and to translate the OB into coded, unrecognizable names, so that he can easily translate back the detailled battle report written by the battlegamer into a text understandable by the 2 campaign players, with the actual names of their generals and regiments (the 'replace' function of Word comes nicely!).
Solo wargamers are often of a solitary disposition: note that it is emphatically NOT required that they bother to be part of the campaign, all what is expected from them is to agree to play a battle as proxy and send a report to the 'secretary'. But thus they would be part of a common effort, with just the tabletop game to play if they don't wish to be more involved.
Of course such type of participation as "proxy tabletop generals" is in no way restricted to solo wargamers. Pairs of friends meeting regularly can agree to play a battle 'for others'. I'm thinking for instance, among mythical SYW groups of gamers, to the Aldoberg-Holstein/ St Maurice and Rubovia/ Empire pairs or to the Mieczyslaw/ Duchy of the North/ Saxe-Bearstein troika.. Will a wargamer, the impedimenta of Real Life™ allowing, decline an opportunity to bring his army to life on the tabletop? Will this peculiar battle be integrated in their own campaign & storyline is of course entirely up to them.

Hoping to promp some interest, and perhaps to arouse a few vocations,
Best to all,
Jean-Louis