Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Diceni - This Sunday

Just a reminder to anyone who might be in the region that Diceni is taking place in Norwich this Sunday.

There will be games, cosplay, LARPers, re-enacters and of curse, trade stalls.  More details here.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Of Cults and Cultists...

My post the other day in which I mentioned Sid the Mast Beast seems to have garnered some interest.  It has also set my mind thinking about cultists in wargaming.

Before we start, I know some people are uncomfortable with playing with the occult (much as many others are uncomfortable with playing SS units).  If that's you're feeling, I respect that - you needn't read any further if it's going to bother you.

Also, I must admit to having no particular knowledge of this - these are just the thoughts that occur to me.  If anyone wants a study of horror tropes in gaming I'd recommend reading James Holloway's blogs The Gonzo History Project and Gonzo History: Gaming Edition.

Artezan? Coplestone?  Pulp Figures?

Most of the cultists we meet in gaming seem to be based on the Klu Klux Klan (or at least the comic version of the KKK we're used to from movies such as O Brother Where Art Thou?).  So we get comic hillbillies wearing pillow-cases and carrying tommy guns.  Is that simply because most pulp horror games are set in 1920s and '30s America?

Eureka Miniatures
Most of these games are loosely based on a Lovecraftian mythos - is this how he and his followers depict cultists?  Somehow I suspect the true type are more like those dark hooded figures, whose visages we never see (because they may not be quite human).

But as anyone who has ever seen The Wicker Man (before Nicholas Cage got involved) knows, the UK can provide cultists enough to scare the pants of anyone.  However, stripped of context, its cultists look a little silly...

...and Alester Crowley always looked much scarier in mufti...

But rather than the Occultists with their sham Orientalism, I'd prefer to go with some authentic British folk customs (OK, OK, we'll gloss over just how ancient some of these customs are!).  So we're back to Sid..

So, we have Morris Dancers and scary scarecrows from Woodbine Designs

What else is out there?

Friday, 24 April 2015

Loose Ends...

Ave Salute!

I hope everyone who is going to Salute has fun and managed not to spend too much money.

Me, I'm saving myself for Diceni and hoping I have some spare cash when it comes around.

Sid the Beast

After writing about snap dragons and 'obby 'osses yesterday, I remember that you can buy such a beastie of your own.  He's Sid from Fenris Games, and fits in with their Faceless Cultists range.  It's a range that's often tempted me.  He might also do well with the armed Morris Dancers if you put flowers in his hair.

Hey Goomba!

This morning in writing about BigT from Pigeon Guard Games I suggested that what we needed was a Paulie Walnuts.  Well, word on the streets is that a 'Wally Peanuts' might be joining the gang.

Order Received, Processed and Completed

Does anyone understand Black Tree Designs methodology?  

I placed an order with them on 29 Mar and received an acknowledgement that day; on 1 Apr I had an e-mail saying that the order had now been 'Processed' and on 23 Apr one saying it had been 'Completed' and dispatched.  Does anyone know what BTD means by all this?  I know the money was taken off me at point of sale and that as 'found stock' the figures didn't need to be cast or (a favorite one of there's) shipped from the US?  Personally, when I receive an order at Diplomatist Books I try to 'process' and 'complete' it that day...


It wasn't my cup of tea, but here's a cry-out to Michael and Jo at Oathsworn for their successful Burrows and Badgers Kickstarter (£15,520 pledged on a £4,000 target).  Oathsworn are old hands at Kickstarters and mange them in an exemplary manner - there will be some happy customers once the figures are sent out.

Free Stuff!

We all love free stuff. don't we?

Sally 4th had produced a couple of pdf's to dress their Terra-Block system.  Those lucky enough to go to one of their workshops at Salute will get the whole room (blocks and all) free.  The rest of us can download the pdfs here.

Nice as the system seems to be, I'm afraid it doesn't fit in within my budget limitations.  However, I thought to myself, why not download the pdf and use it anyway?  (olde-time readers will remember I had a some success with a cardstock Egyptian tomb).  I'll keep you apprised.

Shiny! (Or Its Resin Equivalent)

On Monday I was notified by a sharp-eyed Friend of the Blog (thanks Christopher!) that I had won a draw being held on the Pigeon Guard Games Facebook page.  I high-tailed over there, gave them my details and yesterday morning received this splendid guy.

He's BigT (surely Tony) a Wise Guy with a distinct Jersey or Miami feel.  He's very nicely sculpted by Ian Mountain.  I understand from the Pigeon Guard website that he may eventually be cast in metal, but for the moment there is only a limited edition run of 100 (mine is number 20) in resin.  The spare hand isn't giving you the finger, but is holding a cigar.

I'm not sure what to do with him - he'd obviously be at hope in a modern city (capping Zombies or facing-off to Batman?), but that's not my scene.  My initial idea was to put in in that box 'for when I do a Blog giveaway', but I've decided he's far to nice for that!  Even The Wife was rather taken with him.  But now we need to find Paulie Walnuts.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Happy St George's Day!

OK, no stuff here about why today should be a Bank Holiday.  Nothing about why we should recapture pride in England from the extremists.  Instead, let's look at the True Meaning of St George's Day - dragons!

In the past my 'Only in Norfolk' posts have prompted a lot of interest.  Here's something for the fans of that kind of thing (you're welcome Robert!).

This Snap the Dragon in the Norwich Castle Museum,  Snap is an example of the tradition of snapdragons (and snap-horses* - the best-known is the Padstow 'Obby 'Oss).  

In common with many English cities, Norwich had a Guild of St George, founded as a religious guild in the fourteenth-century to  to honour St. George and keep his feast day, to pray for its members past and present and to offer alms to the poor and needy within the Guild.

On St George's Day, the guild held a grand parade.  George and Margaret, the maiden he rescued, were represented, but the undoubted star was Snap, rushing around, taunting the crowds with wings flapping and smoke shooting from his mouth.  The earliest reference to the dragon comes from the minutes of the Guild Assembly of 1408 at which it was agreed 'to furnish priests with copes, and the George shall go in procession and make a conflict with the Dragon, and keep his estate both days'. 

Norwich Guildhall (with Special Guest)

The guild became one of the most powerful and wealthy in the city and developed close ties to the city government.  By the end of the sixteenth-century the Mayor was the ex-officio head of the guild (now a livery company) and City Aldermen and officials formed its council.  Guild Day merged with the swearing-in of the city's new mayor.  The Company had rooms in the Norwich Guildhall.

Mayor-Making, 2010

The Reformation stripped the guild of its religious aspects, but its civic links ensured its survival.  . Although St George and Margaret no longer featured in the procession, Snap remained** and the procession evolved into a grand civic occasion.   In the 1720s reformers attacked the legality of the Company's actions, the outcome of which was the surrender of all their goods and possessions to the Corporation in 1731.   

An antiquarian has left a description of an eighteenth-century parade:
The outsides of the houses were hung with tapestries and pictures, particularly the new Mayor's house. From here the dignitaries then paraded on horseback to the house of the retiring Mayor where a substantial breakfast of pasties, roast beef, boiled legs of mutton and wine were provided. The procession then set out for the cathedral.  
The way was cleared by six Whifflers and two Dick Fools accompanied by the dragon. Mackerell says 'The Dragon, carried by a Man in the body of it, gave great diversion to the common People: they always seemed very much to fear it when it was near them, but always looked upon it with pleasure when it was a little distance from them'. The Whifflers were dressed in a distinctive costume of scarlet satin breeches, white satin jerkin and a hat decorated with a cockade of feathers and ibbons. They carried swords which they brandished and tossed in the air. Helping the Whifflers were the Dick Fools, who wore painted canvas coats with red and yellow cloth caps adorned with fox or cats' tails and small bells.
Throughout the country such activities were increasingly seen as part of a corrupt system of local government and swept away by the reforming Municipal Corporations Act of 1835.  Snap and his ilk refused to go quietly, though.  In Norwich the tradition was maintained by the Pockthorpe Guild, founded in 1772***.  With the 'election' of a Mock Major and mock officials, the Pockthorpe ceremonies were a a rowdier take on the official ones.  The focus was firmly on the dragon, who would snap at hats and caps in his jaws, holding them to ransom, accompanied by the chant 'Snap, Snap, steal a boy's cap, give him a penny and he'll give it back'. 

Watch that cap!
In 1997 a Morris group, the Norwich Whifflers revived Snap, and as you can see he is once more part of the Lord Mayors' celebration.

Whiffler and Dragon
But the fun doesn't end there!  Since 2008 Norwich has held an annual week-long Dragon Festival of arts and events.

A modern  recognition of Norwich's dragon links in the Castle grounds

Later this year, a sculpture trail around the city will feature decorated dragons****.

A Go Go Dragon (with another Special Guest)

* Writing this reminds me that whippets are also known as 'snap dogs'.  As the flies have been out and bothering Zeppo, I see why.
**  From the 1553 minutes,'there shall be neither George nor Margaret; but for pastime, the Dragon to come and shew himself as in other years.'
*** Then an hamlet, Pockthorpe is now a suburb of the City.
****Previous years have seen similar elephants and gorillas.

Royals in Medals: Prince Philip's New Order

Prince Phillip's insignia
It's been quite a while since I made a Royals in Medals post and I recently received a slight rebuke for not mentioning the controversy over the Duke of Edinburgh's appointment as a Knight of the Order of Australia.

The controversy is down to three points.

First, there is the political dispute over the grade of Knight/Dame itself.  When the Order was created in February 1975 (under a Labor government), the Order consisted of three grades: Companion, Officer and Member.  Just under a year later (under a Liberal government) the grade of Knight/Dame and the Medal of the Order were created, only for it to be abolished in March 1986 (under a Labor government).  In 2014 the Liberal Prime Minister Tony Abbott recommended to the Queen that the grade be re-established, and Letters Patent were issued to that effect.  As one can quickly guess from these to-ings and fro-ings, the whole matter is tied up in party politics: the Labor Party has said it will again abolish the grade when it is next elected.

Secondly, there is the matter of the announcement of Prince Phillip's appointment.  The announcement itself was made on Australia Day, 26 January,  2015: this was the first that senior government ministers had heard of the matter and they felt aggrieved to be included in the backlash (and ridicule) which followed Mr Abbott's unilateral action.  The upshot is that A.bbott was forced to relinquish the Prime Minister's power of patronage in the Order - which is now held by an independent body.

The third point is a more fundamental one.  The criteria for appointment to the Knight grade of the Order is 'extraordinary and pre-eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree in service to Australia or to humanity at large'.  Does the Prince meet that criteria for his long service as consort to the Queen of Australia?

All questions aside, the Queen presented the Duke with the insignia of the knighthood on 22 April.

...having first checked it was genuine.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Anyone Fancy Nabbing a Kite and Have a Go at the Hun?

Clint has announced that he is recruiting for a PBB game to take place later this year.

You will remember that he hosted the successful (and very enjoyable!) Napoleonic sea battle last year.  This time we will be taking to the air above the trenches.

I have asked if I can be the dashing French pilot Capt Reynard, better known as "The Flying Fox".

Capitaine Reynard "The Flying Fox"

And I need to buy a flying coat for Moley...

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Wednesday Welcomes

Welcome to two new followers, bringing the total to three marvelous figures

  • Paul O'G.  Surely some mistake?  Paul's been here for ever.
  • Gordon Richards of I have wrote my simple plan...  Gordon does wonderful IHMN stuff with aquarium furnishings and has a nice line in comic-format AARs.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The History of Wargaming Project

Earlier in the week John Curry put an interesting post on the History of Wargaming Blog outlining various options for the future of the Project.

It seems that there are no shortage of interesting options, and John has thrown them out for comment.  I'm rather surprised therefore that there haven't been any comments so far.  I urge my wargaming readers to go across there and chip in (knowing my readership I suspect you'll all clamour for more from the Paddy Griffiths ouvre rather than NHS emergency planning!).

A declaration of interest - Diplomatist Books sells publications of the History of Wargaming Project in our Modeling and Wargaming category.
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