Wednesday, December 25, 2019



I always enjoys others' remarks on Imagi-Nations. This posting is my own take, inspired by other blog articles on the topic of Imagi-Nations or imaginary worlds.  Check out these;

Wargames MiscellanyWargames Miscellany - British Dammalia

My own tend to stay pretty close to history are are more like alternative histories rather than inserted ones. My Trockenbeeren-Auslese looks very Austrian, quite deliberately so, all the Imperial units based upon real ones, including their Inhaber. So my Trauttmannsdorf, Birkenfeldt and Anhalt-Zerbst Cuirassiers are based upon and paint as the real ones of the 7YW.

By and large, I don't like to dilate too much upon the internal societies and structures of my nations, apart from putting together what I hope to be sensible maps. The maps provide a strategic structure to the campaigns.

I do find a lot of fun with naming places and, especially, characters. My Archduke Piccolo was a sort of steal from Young and Lawford's Archduke Guitar. It didn't take long to arrive at Empress Harmonica (based on Maria Theresa), Emperor Violoncello (her father), Archduchess Viola (a rather wayward younger sister), and generals Baron Glockenspiel, Graf Tympani, Lord Kettledrum (an English volunteer), and Generals Zither and Sax.  I forget to mention the Irish Wild Goose General Brian O'Carina.

The capital of Trockenbeeren-Auslese is Schnitzel, lying on the southern bank of the Ister River.

If I want to do a fictitious campaign in a Napoleonic context, e.g. and Allied invasion of mainland Naples in 1809, the world of alcoholic beverages come to my aid. The Anglo-everyone contingent is led by Sir Arthur Whitbread; the Austrian Corps by Graf von Carlsberg, and the French (this was too good NOT to steal from Charles Grant) General Dubonnet (later to become a Marshal of France).


I think I mentioned elsewhere my Ionian Empire, based upon the Byzantine around the turn of the first millenium, presided over by Emperor Dementius, its armies led (if not by the Emperor himself) by George Maniaces (a real character from history), Demetrius Krazius and Michael Psychopathes. I seem to recall a Norman mercenary hight Roussel de Bolluxe, as well.

My 19th Chromatic Wars feature nations named for colours; Ruberia (RED), Azuria (BLUE) - with a side order of Turkowaz (TURQUOISE) - and possible additions of Grauheim (GREY) and Porphyria (PURPLE). 
My more recent foray into a fictitious South American War of Independence features the attempt of Gatonegro from the Empire of De La Reina. The name of the Bolivarian nation derives from the black cat 'passant guardant' on the flags of the rebel (Patriots). The army used is in fact that of the Landgravate of Jotun-Erbsten, itself an imagi-nation.... 

Unfortunately I never did get very far with my Latin Wars, between rival South American states. This was really just WW2 in a fictitious setting, with Orotina the 'Germans', Pan-Andean People's Republic the 'Russians', and Gran Bolivaria the 'British'. There could be a 'United States of Amazonia, but, not having an American WW2 army, it will remain merely a map location.


  1. I'm a big fan of Imaginations too, creating them and reading about other peoples' creations. Great photos by the way, especially the first one.

    1. Thanks Maudlin. What I like about imagi-nations is not so much the extent one can depart from history - I like to stay fairly close as far as the armies are concerned. Rather it is that they provide an historical 'tabula rasa' upon which to write a whole new, different or 'interstitial' history.

  2. It's interesting that your Imagi-Nations span different time periods and continents; too many people jumped on the "Old School" bandwagon fad of a good few years ago and created C18th states only. Sadly these were often derivative, lacking imagination and simply historic armies with silly names, formed into impractical sized units and never finished.
    For me the key component has to be some sort of internal consistency; whether that's through names or colours as you have done or by basing the project on novels, Tin-Tin comics or other such backgrounds.
    This is just the start however; the thing is you can then develop this further or just keep the bare bones or you can develop one aspect, such as designing uniforms or army lists. Where a lot of people fell down was starting here, but without the background consistency, stalled. The internet is littered with such attempts.
    Myself, I have been developing Imagination-Nations for more years than I care to mention. A long running project has been to bring to life the Nation states of GDW's "Soldier King" boardgame which gives a ready made campaign system, map and geography. More than 20 years ago I opted for 30mm Spencer Smith plastics for the armies and they have been evolving since then as GDW "Volley & Bayonet" units (I know you don't like these rules!).
    I also developed modern Latin American countries to fight out various internal conflicts; Costa Guano (with San Angeles and El Bravado as neighbours). In collaboration with my sadly deceased friend, Danny O'Hara, we had a brief existence on the internet as part of "el Mundo Mythico" for like minded states and players.
    For "moderns" I also created the "Central Eurasian Republic" a former SSR of the USSR coping with the breakup in the 1990s; in truth, it was simply an excuse to utilise the 1/87 Soviet models I had accumulated, without having to stick to historical organizations, as in many cases I lacked the correct models or had an unusual mix, such as JS III with T-54s and T-72s. Using the brief hints emerging from the various conflicts, this odd mix was perfectly feasible.
    The latter two projects had no map and only vague geography and scanty place names. Attempts at development actually hindered creativity as in attempting to anchor them to real places brought problems of consistency by way of real countries and locations. Costa Guano is vaguely Central American and the Central Eurasian Republic encompasses Caucasian flavours (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia etc.) with the steppes of Tajikistan and similar.
    I have also toyed with the idea of developing different historical periods for these Imagi-Nations, such as 1920-30s Latin American or Comic Opera versions of the Soldier King countries based on Czech, Hungarian or Romanian armies of that period. More latterly this has become more generic in the form of "Ruritania v Graustark".
    For me the greatest appeal in Imagi-Nations has to be in CREATING history not following it; as much as I enjoy historical research, there is also something deeply satisfying in being able to simply indulge in your own desires or delusions. No longer do you need to find a formation that used your favourite tank or search for a particular uniform colour combination, as if you so wish it, just create it without fear on censure. Likewise, if a historical battle captures you, but you lack the correct units or even armies, you have a set of proxies that can step in which will allow any result, not just the historic one.
    I was captivated by the Wargame by Charles Grant, especially the creativity of the VFS and have spent much of my wargaming life in convincing myself to indulge, rather than follow the crowd of convention. I just wish I'd done it earlier!

    1. Neil -
      Thank you for your delightful response! I like the sound of your imagi-nations already!

      One I didn't mention in this article was 'Harad', and invention of a friend, who having (after several years of trying) persuaded me to join in, moved up north to greener pastures. It was a kind Persian Empire that stretched as far as the Mesogesean (Mediterranean Sea), the non-Iranian bit being known collectively as Khand (at about this point I realised it was J.R.R. Tolkien's world transplanted to the Middle East). The time set was c.1980, with the Empire showing signs of fraying at the edges.

      I've used the idea for back history stretching back a century to encompass my 'Chromatic Wars' - the colonial aspects. Ruberia (RED) has a distant sub-continental empire, Rajistan. This has been the setting for my recent 'Long Live the Revolution', and 'the earlier' Mesofluvian campaign.

      Having got this far with my response, methinks there is another article in the making!


  3. Archduke Piccolo,

    Inspired by your recent blog entry, I’m currently dusting off stuff that I wrote for my defunct Colonial Wargaming website, and hope to feature it in my blog in the near future.

    All the best,


    1. Hi Bob -
      Somehow your Colonial war gaming site has passed my by, but now that I've had a look, I've 'followed' in anticipation of more to come. I'll be spending a little bit of time going back through the archives...
      Unfortunately, though I used to be able to 'follow' under my cognomen 'Archduke Piccolo', for some reason that no longer works. So my own name it has to be.

  4. Well you know my position of Imagi-Nations. Before Oronegro there were others in the works, more fantasy really. However, I decided upon Oronegro after that trip to Argentina in 2012. I distinctly remember hammering out the story of a covert meeting of world powers to discuss the little nation on the flight home. Such was Oronegro born.

    Since then it has become more than just a fictional nation for me, rather it is a prism to explore various things. A world in parallel where the rules are somewhat different. I can explore fantastical ideas with my D&D friends and more grounded ones with other wargamers.

    Part of the fun is of course building up this long history for a single nation. However, that does impose limitations. Although as they say limiting factors can actually be a boon when it comes to creativity. It is quite fun trying to string all these different threads together into one, mostly cohesive (ambiguity is left deliberately, some things in history are contentious, so should that of the imagi-nation) whole.

    1. I think you are right that what constrains creativity can actually encourage it. I have to admit I don't usually go in very much for 'back history', but have done so with Harad (specifically, the Nawabate of Tchagai) in order to do something with the concept!

      I don't generally 'do' fantasy (although in a very real way our imagi-nations ARE fantasy). However, I do recall now that about 20-odd years ago I DID come up with a high fantasy world that I was considering as a Club Project. It was called 'The Lost Kingdom of ...' I forget what I was going to call it. This kingdom had been separated for over a century from the Empire of which it had once been a part. The hundreds of miles of territory between the still existing Empire and this kingdom had long ago become desert.

      The Kingdom was bordered to the east by a vast ocean, to the northeast by a sea-going warrior people (Vikingish types), north by frigid wastes, to the northwest by more frozen wastes cut through by a great ravine, to the west by mountains, southwest by forest and to the south by desert.

      The precipitous Iron Coast of the desert was abruptly interrupted as the coastline turned westward into a great bay that stretched almost to the Western mountains and forests, and which divided the Kingdom into the main realm on the north coast of the bay, and the settled fringe along the south coast.

      The Kingdom was under pressure from all sides: Desert raiders, Iron Coast pirates, corsairs from the Eastern archipelago, uneasy relationships with the 'Viking-like' people, Orcish types (etc) to the north, Dwarfs from the western mountains, and Elves from the forests. Assorted other creatures peopled the realm and its environs.

      I did consider that somewhere beyond the Great Ravine, an obscure but apparently charismatic leader had emerged that threatened to bring together the disparate enemies and rivals of the Kingdom. He caused to be a built a mighty fortress as the basis for his ambition. I did consider that somehow he had been 'transported' from our own world by some magical means of summoning. His name: Napoleon Bonaparte...

      I even drew a map (I don't know if I still have it) but that is about as far as I got with it. I did toy with it as an idea for a children's fantasy novel, the central character a boy also 'summoned' (by mistake) in a sudden storm from a Christchurch yacht race. He'd barely survive, and be picked up by a Kingdom's dromon off the Iron Coast.

      That was about as far as I got with it. I haven't thought about that idea in well over a decade.


  5. I somehow missed this post, (Don't know what that says about the new year). I like the idea of fictional worlds but I'm afraid that a nearly pathological difficulty with languages and names (inc place names) other than English and French (a bit of Gaelic) as well as trouble with spatial relations makes it quite difficult at times to follow the story lines or remember who is who and which side they are on. Rather sad really and is one reasons why in my own settings I often end up borrowing names of both people and places from my own history when making up my own fictional storylines and maps.

    1. I have a lot of fun with names, but by and large, the names I choose are, one way or another, English, even when they aren't English. With a side order of Greek and Latin, maybe, and simple words from other languages, but usually disguised English.

      To name the Mesogesean Sea and the Medifluvian regions, I just swapped the etymologies of Mediterranean and Mesopotamia.

      I have an anti-Napoleonic memory for names - especially personal names. I have trouble recalling names of people I even know well, which is highly embarrassing. But the word games I play with my imagi-Nations I find help a great deal, though by now, I have such a volume of them that they are also becoming hard to recall.

      One idea I have had - I think Tony Bath might have suggested this in his 'Hyboria' book - is to write up a list of names for characters and places not yet identified or 'in use'. My RED (Ruberian) characters are all given 'red' names: Redmayne, Redford, Scarlett, Carmine. I have also a whole bunch of place names base on three consecutive notes of the musical scale: Dohremi, Remiso and Misofah have already been the scenes of 'Army Men' battles. In ascending order, they have a Middle Easter or African look. One can reverse into a descending scale: Miredoh, Somire, Fahsomi; or letter order: Imerhod, Osimer, Hafosim. The reversed letter order suggests (to me) an etymology different from the others, so they would be placed in a distinctly separate region.

      All this does not stop me nicking names from other people, places, histories. About 45 years ago a law student war games buddy took names from from the legal cases he was studying. I still remember the unhappy fate of Brig-Gen Scoones (CSA) whose isolated brigade was swept up by the rapid advance of a whole Union army. And sometimes a real name from history (e.g. George Maniaces) just begs to be included among one's Dramatis Personae...