Friday, January 13, 2012

Let's Try This Again

As you can see below, I made an abortive attempt to start a blog a few years ago but the press of real life prevented me from developing it into anything worthwhile. This is another attempt at it and I hope to be more successful.

So what is this all about? I've been doing RPGs and miniature wargaming for over 30 years now. I've sort of combined the two and run games that are RPGs played out on table top usually with full miniature scenery. On some of our more "epic" campaigns I've tried to do write-up of each week's session, almost in novel form. The link to one of these, Doctor Sandorius, is posted below.

Which brings me to Ruritania. This is NOT the Ruritania of Anthony Hope's novels (Prisoner of Zenda, Rupert of Hentzau, and The Heart of Princess Osra) although I borrowed some elements from these novels.

No, this all started with Space 1889, Frank Chadwick's wonderful Victorian Science Fiction RPG setting. In Space 1889 canon, several countries from 19th century fiction were real, Ruritania, Graustark, and Transbalkania but were all located in the western Balkans. Also, one of the rules of character creation provided that female characters needed to be properly chaperoned (or at least escorted) by an NPC of some wherewithall but little brain power. One of the ladies in my group wanted to play an "Adventuress" character and, rather that some stuffy English twit as her "traveling companion", I created Crown Prince Ladislas Ruprikt of Ruritania. In addition to impressive combat skills, absolute fearlessness, and incredible good looks, he also had a hereditary speech impediment, pronouncing "R" and "L" like "W" Think a more swashbuckling Elmer Fudd. The female character was a French inventor and former Follies Bergere dancer named Gigi La Facile.

So the concept was originally based in VSF and that's how we started playing them. I wondered what the countries would be like fifty years on and switched the emphasis in the games to a pulp feel. I also then added the two countries from the Marx Brothers' Duck Soup, Freedonia and Sylvania, which is a great source for interwar imagi-nations.

In this world, Ruritania is a constitutional monarchy, the ruling Radziwill dynasty being descended from a not-too-bright member of that famous Polish-Lithuanian family that made a wrong turn on the way home from the Siege of Vienna in 1683 and ended up liberating Ruritania from the Turks. The monarch at the start of World War II is King Ruprikt III, the incredibly dim and speech-impaired septuagenarian who had been the youthful hero of our VSF adventures. Because of the Radziwill connection, Ruritania, especially its army, borrows heavily from pre-war Poland. The connection is also why Ruritania is attacked by the Nazis in 1939. Nikola Tesla is a proud son of Ruritania and his army of robots and death rays assist the Ruritania army in its unsuccessful defense. Tesla had also been enamoured of Queen Gigi as will be described more fully in my next series of posting,'Roxy Smothers and the Lost Treasure of the Kurgans."

Graustark is Ruritania's western neighbor. It's population is descended from those Visigoth and other Germanic barbarians who lacked the ambition to go on to sack Rome. In World War II, Graustark is a fascist country allied closely with their Teutonic cousins in Germany and it is from here that the Nazis attack Ruritania.

Transbalkania is Ruritania's eastern neighbor and a Communist ally of the Soviet Union. Sylvania, a former Venetian colony is strongly influenced by Italy and Spain. Freedonia is an odd enclave run by a group of American ex-patriates who helped liberate the area in World War I

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