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". (and don't forget Hope Hopkins's Kravonia, or R.L. Stevenson's Gerolstein!)
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!
My Reply: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 of 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!
Now that I think about it, I too 'jumped upon the 18th century bandwagon'. That is where Archduke Piccolo came from, the rival realms: the Wholly Romantic Empire, centred upon the Archduchies of Trockenbeeren and Auslese (Trockenbeerenauslese - a German language wine term for a medium to full body dessert wine); and the Electorate (later Kingdom) of Altmark-Uberheim. Later were added the Grand Duchy of M'yasma; the Principality of Ursaminor (for my daughter Ursula); the Landgravate of Jotun-Erbsten (for a friend's daughter, the name being an anagram, including the hyphen, of their surname); and later including the late Barry Taylor's Herzogtum von Rechburg. That last Duchy featured, not altogether peripherally, in the affair of the Ulrichstein Revolt, 1738....
|Action at Zaltpig, during the Ulrichstein Revolt. It was|
a disguised scenario based on the Battle of Paltzig, 1759.
Gowan James Ditchburn: 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.My Reply:
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 (The Dragon's Bight) 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, just before it gets attacked by three corsair vessels.
That was about as far as I got with it. I haven't thought about that idea in well over a decade.Cheers,Ion
Ross Mac 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.
My Reply: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. (see map above)
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.
|An early Jono's World action: the Battle of Dohremi.|
In ascending order, they have a Middle Eastern or African look (though to begin with, they were used for an entirely different world: Jono's World). 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...
Jono's World, by the way, was the brain child of one 'Jono' (the only name by which I knew this young guy) who turned up at the club one day with folders under arm and some 2-3-inch Army Men figures. I was the only club member in slightest bit interested, but, in the event I might have been too interested - taking the thing where Jono wasn't that interested in going. He disappeared, but the ideas didn't, so it remains a project in being. Here's Jono's map of Kiivar and Omez...
...and my adaptation.