Monday, September 11, 2017

Commencement of Hostilities

From The Times of Mindon - March 4, 1854 AUT

Occiterran troops force border crossing near Urell
Our correspondents in Lutens and Rugen have confirmed that a state of war now exists between Occiterre and Elabrun. This follows years of tensions between the continental powers over the North Seridian question, and Emperor Jules III's repeated statements of support for the rebels in Melaponte and Pollograta...

Reports from the frontier indicate that the Occiterran First Army have seized the crossing at Rougepont, but that the Elabruner Army des Westens under General Graf von Kettefurt has repelled a two-pronged attack on the town of Urell. If the Occiterrans can take the town, they may be able to capture the key passes of the North Canton that lie beyond, threatening to sweep into the disputed provinces along the Fredda River...

A response is expected shortly from the government of the Republic of Seridia, which has also supported the North Seridian rebels. Chief Minister Athelby and the House of Thanes have reaffirmed that Stratland will remain neutral...

This past weekend, the armies of my 19th century imagi-nations, Occiterre and Elabrün, finally got their first outing. Dad and I played three games using Neil Thomas's "One Hour Wargames" rules, using the some of the scenarios included in the book. I wanted something short and simple that would require only a limited number of units, and these certainly fit those requirements. The games were fast and entertaining enough, but maybe a little too simple - it seems like the side that is forced to move is at a distinct disadvantage, since units can't move and fore, and there are no distinctions for long vs. short range. On the other hand, the combinations of slightly randomized armies and classic scenarios offers a good amount of replayability that could be carried over to a different ruleset.

Occiterran infantry crosses a river with artillery support

The first game involved the Occiterrans crossing a river, with the Elabrüners attempting to gradually withdraw their forces while holding off the Occiterran advance. While the Elabrüner troops in the town did hold off the Occiterrans for a while, by the end of Turn 15, the Occiterrans had secured the bridge and proceeded to advance across the board.

Elabrüner infantry and jaegers defend a key hill

The second game involved a small Elabrüner force defending a hill against a larger Occiterran force while waiting for reinforcements. Elabrün was fortunate to have some light infantry available in this game, who stationed themselves in the small patch of woods at the base of the hill and proved a nuisance for the Occiterrans the entire game. The Occiterran assault petered out, and the Elabrüners were able to reinforce their position.

Occiterran forces press an unsuccessful attack on a town

The third game saw the Elabrüners once again taking a defensive position, this time in a town, which the Occiterrans were required to capture. Unfortunately for the Occiterrans, their forces this time included two units of cavalry, which by the rules were not allowed to enter the town, and their infantry was not able to carry the day alone.

So, overall score at the moment is Elabrün 2, Occiterre 1. So far Elabrün seems to be holding out pretty well against the invasion; maybe a counterattack will come next, or maybe Occiterre will bring more forces to bear...

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Encyclopedia of Proxia

A bit of background on some of the countries from this map, the setting for my 19th-century Imaginations wargaming project:


Dobria first appears in the annals of history as a vassal of the Maxenian Empire during the early Chivalric Age, founded by a tribe of nomads from the Procalan Steppe. Dobria’s fortunes waxed and waned alongside the Maxenian Empire - when the Maxenians were strong, Dobria became a province, ruled by a Maxenian governor. When the Maxenians were weakened by wars in the Procalan provinces, the Dobrians broke free and built a substantial kingdom in Eastern Proxia. As the Maxenians regained their strength, the Dobrian kingdom was reduced to vassalage once more, and when Maxenopolis fell at last, Dobria took on a similar relationship to the Koraman conquerors. In the last century, as the Koraman Empire in turn has weakened, the Dobrian princes have regained independence once again, this time with covert aid from the Elabruners and Gospodinians.


The Emperor of Elabrun rules a vast large and diverse realm, from the plains of the east to the mountains in the west, and his subjects speak a dozen languages or more. This Empire has been slowly patched together since the Chivalric Age by the Falkenburg family, who started as Dukes of a small Nordoric state in the Nivean Mountains. Through advantageous marriages and shrewd alliances, they expanded their realm, and by the end of the Chivalric Age, the Falkenburgs ruled the sizable Duchy of Rugen and had holdings as far away as northern Seridia.

With the fall of the Maxenian Empire, the Falkenburgs found themselves in the path of the Koraman advance, as the victorious nomads swept through Stecjia and conquered the city-states along the Muriatic Sea. However, the Falkenburgs were able to raise an army of their own from among their vassals, and held off the Koraman invaders in the great siege of Rugen. Throughout the Rational Age, the Falkenburgs regained much of eastern Proxia, unifying it in what became known as the Empire of Elabrun, after the Falkenburgs’ original domain.

As the Empire grew, it came into conflict with other powers besides the Koramans. The Haumont kings of Occiterre resented Elabruner expansion into northern Seridia, and many of the Nordaler states were wary of their southern cousin, which often tried to expand its influence in the north. With the fall of the Haumonts, Elabrun became entangled in the Fraternal Wars, and was a frequent foe of Jules I after his rise to power. The long period of war strained the Empire, and many of the far-flung provinces began to see calls for independence. 

With peace once more reigning in Proxia, the current Emperor Maxim IV has been working to weld the Empire into a more cohesive whole, and to develop good relations with the now-unified Republic of Nordalen to the north. But the recent independence of Stecjia and Dobria from the Koramans has caused some of the southeastern provinces to grow restless, and worse still, some of the Seridian provinces have risen in revolt, no doubt inspired by their compatriots across the border. The recent ascension of Jules III in Occiterre has sparked fears in the court at Rugen that he may intervene on the side of the North Seridian rebels...


Flussland has always depended on trade. Its origins lie in the Chivalric Age, as a defensive pact between a number of merchant cities along the Sleeve. At its height, the city of Plewen was one of the busiest ports in the world, and the Flusser Republic rivaled Stratland and Occiterre in power, with profitable colonies around the globe. However, the economic tides turned, and a series of wars with its rivals left Flussland exhausted.

Nor did Flussland fare well during the wars of Jules I. The country was conquered by Occiterre, and even after the death of Jules I, Occiterre retained two of its southern provinces. The remainder of the country regained its independence, but the republic was abolished, and a cousin of the Stratish monarch was made king. These days, though neutral in theory, its interests largely align with those of Stratland, which sees it as a potential foothold on the continent. Meanwhile, the old mercantile families are using the years of relative peace to rebuild their trade networks.


This vast country stretches far to the east, across both forests and steppes. Much of Gospodinia was once ruled by nomads from these steppes, who were slowly driven back by the ancestors of the Gospodinians. Because of its size, the country has never been subject to a strong central authority--the Grand Hetman is elected by the nobility, and the greatest magnates rule domains the size of small kingdoms. Most of the population are peasants, tied to the land in a way of life largely unchanged since the Chivalric Age. 

Since the disastrous Occiterran invasion forty years ago, the Gospodinian nobility have started to take more of an interest in the affairs of Western Proxia. Several of the recent Grand Hetmans have come from the Narostki family, and have been trying to increase the power of the central government. A key part of this effort has been to build a modern national army and navy to supplement the nobles’ levies. However, a recent attempt to test these new forces in an invasion of the Koraman Empire came up against opposition from the western powers. This culminated in an intervention by the Stratish, Occiterrans, and Seridians on behalf of the Koramans, and a lengthy siege of the port of Strelopunsk.


The Koramans were once a single tribe among the nomads of the Procalan steppe, raiding the borders of the Tyran Empire. When the Tyrans lost their western provinces, the emperor Maxenius built a new capital in the east, which he named Maxenopolis. For centuries, the Maxenian Empire held sway over the Archian islands and much of nearer Procala. The Koramans fought against the Maxenians as well, even as they grew to lead a confederation of the steppe tribes. Over centuries of war and peace, the Koraman-led confederation gained the upper hand, forcing the Maxenians out of Procala, until at last the Empire was left with little besides the city of Maxenopolis.

By this time, the Koramans had become an Empire in their own right, one of the greatest of the late Chivalric Age. When Maxenopolis fell to them at last, it sent shockwaves through all of Proxia. Koraman armies swept west, subjugating the mountain kingdoms as far north as Rugen, and Koraman fleets threatened the Seridian city-states. Only an alliance led by the Duke of Rugen was finally able to halt their advance, after a long siege of Rugen itself. Throughout the Rational Age, the Koraman Empire remained a great power, but the Elabruner descendants of the Dukes of Rugen have gradually retaken much of their eastern Proxian holdings, and in the past few decades, some of the mountain kingdoms have regained their independence. The Koraman Empire these days is a shadow of its former self, propped up by some of the western powers as a counterbalance against the increasing strength of Gospodinia.


The Nordoric peoples have inhabited this mountainous land since time immemorial. Though regarded by their Tyran neighbors as barbarians, the Nordoric tribes of the Classical Age also had a reputation as fierce warriors, and as the Old Tyran Empire weakened, many tribes crossed the frontiers into the western provinces. The new kingdoms they founded kept ties with their kinsfolk who had stayed behind in the Nordoric homeland, and the Chivalric Age saw a shared culture develop across much of Western Proxia that combined Nordoric vigor and Tyran sophistication.

However, the Nordoric heartland remained politically divided, as ancient tribes became baronies, duchies, and kingdoms, who fought among themselves in their narrow valleys as often as they faced Gospodinians or other foreign invaders. The Falkenburg dukes of Elabrun gained influence in many of the southern realms, but the north remained a tangled web of kingdoms, free cities, and trade leagues even as the ideas and ideals of the Rational Age spread throughout the continent.

The advent of Jules Brasfort and the Fraternal Wars finally changed all of this. Like few had done before, his Occiterran armies swept through the Nordaler states, and to help ensure the security of his new Empire, he set up a Confederation of Nordalen as a buffer to the east. This did not last long beyond Jules’ death, but the experience of the Occiterran invasion and the unity under the Confederation had a deep influence on a generation of intellectuals in the Nordaler cities. About twenty years ago, a wave of revolutions toppled many of the surviving noble houses, and Nordalen was united again - this time as a Republic. The new Republic has been rapidly industrializing and modernizing in the decades since, emerging as a new power on the continent and alarming both Occiterre and Elabrun.


The history of Occiterre dates back to the fall of the Old Tyran Empire, when Nordoric barbarians overran many of the western provinces and set up numerous petty kingdoms of their own. One of these was the kingdom of Lutens, centered on the former Tyran city of Lutenium. Over time, the kings of Lutens expanded their holdings at the expense of their neighbors, and by the end of the Chivalric Age, they reigned from the Stratish Sleeve to the Gulf of Lucra. By this time, their realm was more often known as “Occiterre”, the “western land”. 

As Proxia emerged from the Chivalric Age into the light of the Rational Age, Occiterre took its place as one of the great powers of the continent. Under the Haumont kings, Occiterre contended with Stratland, Pelendia, Elabrun, the Flusser Republic, the Koraman Empire, the city-states of Seridia, and the fractured fiefs of Nordalen.

But sixty years ago, with the death of Omri XII, the Haumont dynasty came to an end and the Fraternal Wars began. There were many claimants to the throne of Occiterre, both foreign princes and scions of its own noble houses. Alliances were formed and broken, and in some places the peasants and bourgeois rose up, calling for the end of the monarchy. 

It was with the help of some of these radical factions that Jules Brasfort first came to the fore. A minor noble and distant relative of the Haumonts, he was a captain stationed in the port of Mayon when Omri XII died. When the Pelendians invaded, he organized the defence of Mayon, then raised an army to repel the invaders. After this victory, the people of Mayon acclaimed him as Tribune of the city. The next year, Jules marched north to Montchemin, where he defeated the army of a prince who was supported by Elabrun. In every city he passed, he gathered the people together and had them choose a Tribune to govern them. Soon he arrived at Lutens, and the people of the capital threw open the gates for him. Jules called for all the Tribunes to come to Lutens, then told them that they must choose someone to rule all of Occiterre. Naturally they chose Jules, who was crowned as the first Emperor of Occiterre.

This was the beginning of the end of the Fraternal Wars--there were still some provinces in the west that did not acknowledge Jules as Emperor, and even today there are still some “Haumont'' pretenders who claim to be the rightful king of Occiterre. But soon Jules I had unified all of Occiterre and turned his attention to the rest of Proxia. He decided that the best way to keep the Occiterran people united was to lead them against their neighbors. So he began campaigns against Pelendia and Elabrun, and set up new states in Seridia and Nordalen. The Stratish became worried about his domination of the continent, and joined an alliance against him. For twenty years, he fought up and down Proxia, winning victory after victory. But finally, in far-off Gospodinia, his luck ran out when a wound from a stray musket ball festered.

His son, Jules II, was only fifteen when his father died, and so a regency was set up. The generals and statesmen of the regency council negotiated an end to the wars and began rebuilding the country. Once he came of age, Jules II continued these policies. Under his rule, the first railroads and telegraphs were built in Occiterre. Trade flourished, colonies were set up in far away lands, and Occiterre became a great power in Proxia once more. But new powers were on the rise as well: the Confederation of Nordalen that Jules I had set up soon collapsed, but from its ashes emerged the Republic of Nordalen. And in the south, the Seridians also formed a Republic, whose leaders still look north to those territories still held by the Empire of Elabrun. Occiterran governments greeted these developments with cautious optimism, hoping that these new nations will be allies against the old powers of Stratland and Elabrun. 

Two years ago, Jules II died, and his son took the throne. Jules III is a brash young man who idolizes his heroic grandfather and wishes to see Occiterre dominant in Proxia once again…


Like Occiterre, Pelendia was once part of the Old Tyran Empire. But while other provinces were overrun by Nordoric invaders, Pelendia instead fell to tribesmen from the deserts to the south. Throughout the Chivalric Age, the invaders were slowly driven back or assimilated, until at the beginning of the Rational Age, Pelendia once again stood united. This was the golden age of Pelendia, as explorers mapped new lands to the south and west, and precious metals flowed into the coffers of the Pelendian kings. But just as quickly, that gold went to fund wars with the Stratish overseas and the Occiterrans over the Seridian cities. During the Fraternal Wars, Pelendia was a battleground for Occiterran and Stratish armies, and the country has been slow to recover since, locked in a struggle between consevative nobles and a queen who dreams of rebuilding Pelendia into a modern nation.


The Seridian peninsula was once the heartland of the Old Tyran Empire, one of the mightiest powers of the ancient world. Bolstered by the Archian diaspora after the fall of the Islands, the Tyrans built an empire that spanned much of western Proxia and nearer Procala. But that empire collapsed thirteen centuries ago, in an invasion by Nordoric peoples from the north, who even sacked Tyra itself.

Throughout the Chivalric Age, Seridia was a backwater, sometimes dominated by foreign powers and sometimes by city-states that rose above their neighbors. But when Maxenopolis fell to the Koramans, the Seridian cities became havens for the new Diaspora. The advances in arts and sciences brought by the fleeing scholars of the east marked the start of the Rational Age, and the city-states of Seridia were among the first to benefit. For centuries, they were unsurpassed in culture--yet politically they remained weak, and often influenced by Occiterre, Elabrun, Pelendia, or the Koramans.

It was not until the wars of Jules I that Seridia was united once more. Jules conquered both the northern regions--then controlled by Elabrun--and the Pelendian-backed kingdom in the south. In their place, he established a republic, harkening back to the pre-imperial traditions of Old Tyra. This republic did not long survive Jules’ death--the Elabruners reconquered the north, and a king was restored in the south following the Treaty of Rugen. But it endured long enough for a generation to come of age knowing Seridia as a united country.

One of these was Alessandro Capporossa. Born in Zampogna, he was a student in Tyra when Jules captured the city. He served as a representative for Zampogna during the First Republic, and when the king was restored, he fled overseas to the Pelendian colonies, where he fought in aid of the revolutionaries there. Twenty years ago, with the death of King Luigi III, Capporossa returned to Seridia, with a force of three hundred fellow exiles. Together they marched on Tyra, and proclaimed a new Republic. Despite the efforts of Elabrun, many of the southern cities raised the Green Star once more.

Now an old man, Capporossa still dreams of liberating the north from Elabruner rule. Seridian patriots in Turchino, Melaponte, and even Trampoli have repeatedly risen in revolt, but still Elabrun has maintained their hold. With the ascension of Jules III, the Seridian government has renewed hopes that Occiterre may help them regain the lost provinces.


The Stecjians are distant kin to the Gospodinians, and settled in Eastern Proxia while it was still under the sway of the Maxenian Empire. After the fall of Maxenopolis, the Dukes of Stecjia put up a fierce resistance to the Koraman invaders, and the last Duke had a particularly brutal reputation that has sparked many sinister legends. Even after his mysterious disappearance, the land did not rest easy under the Koraman yoke. Constant rebellions wracked the country, which in turn brought down further repression by the Koramans. The Elabruners were always happy to fan the flames, but over the centuries the Stecjians have grown to resent their meddling almost as much as the Koramans, especially as much of what was once northern Stecjia now lies within the Empire of Elabrun. Southern Stecjia has recently broken free of the Koramans to regain their longed-for independence, but now hotheads on both sides of the border with Elabrun have started to agitate for unification.


This island country has long been the premier naval power in Proxia. Known to the Old Tyrans as the Tin Isles, when the Empire fell, the islands were conquered by Stratic raiders from across the Cold Sea, cousins of the Nordoric tribes. In the early Chivalric Age, the Stratish frequently raided the coasts of Occiterre and Flussland, until finally an invasion led by the bastard son of the king of Lutens crossed the Sleeve and brought the islands under control. The descendants of Martin the Bastard set up their own kingdom in Stratland, which would prove to be a great rival of Occiterre throughout the Chivalric and into the Rational Age. Since the beginning of the Rational Age, much of the power is held by the House of Thanes, some of whom are hereditary, but others of whom are elected from among the free yeomen.

Despite their long rivalry with the Haumont kings of Occiterre, the Stratish were no happier to see Jules I on the throne. The formidable Stratish navy fought many battles against his empire, and the profits of Stratish trade and industry funded alliances against him on the continent. Since the death of Jules I, the Stratish have been content to maintain the balance of power in Proxia, even cooperating with their old Occiterran rivals in some cases. Stratish interests are increasingly taken up with trade and colonization abroad and booming industries at home, fueled by the islands’ rich resources of coal and metal.