Thursday, August 6, 2020

Lohwand: The Legions of the Tharkallan Empire

Legio II Augusta

Equites Singulares

Scorpio Bolt-shooters

All of the above are 60mm scale Early Imperial Romans by Expeditionary Force, Singapore, otherwise known as XForce. These figures are a large part of the reason I wanted to get into large scale gaming. If XForce didn't exist I might not have bothered. Or, at least, had I given it a go, the Lohwand campaign would have been many times more difficult.

The Tharkallan Empire in my campaign has always intended to be a Roman inspired force, but I have waffled between Empire or Republic. These figures are Early Imperial Roman so I think I am going to end up with the Tharkallans resembling the legions of the Principate, at least in part. 

I did have a list of Tharkallan Legions named after gemstones, but now I'm not sure I like the idea. The original intent was to make the armour the appropriate colour as indicated below, as if it was lacquered:

The Carnelian Legion - Orange or Red/Orange

The Obsidian Legion - Black

The Sapphire Legion - Blue

The Topaz Legion - Golden Yellow

The Emerald Legion - Green

The Amethyst Legion - Purple

The Ruby Legion - Red

XForce makes five different designs of legion figures, including the Praetorians. And then there are the Auxiliary, making six options. This is another reason XForce attracted me to the scale and range: the variety. Each of those options could be used to represent a legion. To start the ball rolling I've ordered Legio II Augusta, which I intend to use for the Carnelian Legion. Assuming, of course, that I stick with those names.

To be at least semi-historical there should be ten cohorts with the first cohort being double strength. I am waffling between one box or two representing a cohort. I think two is probably better. However, I am not going to collect twenty boxes of each of the variants! (Not unless I win the Jackpot anyway.)

So, probably, a legion of the tabletop will be assumed to only be part of the force, the rest distributed in garrisons around the place. Again, probably, a first cohort with maybe three boxes (so not quite double strength) and then two other cohorts of two boxes each will be a field legion. That might be a reachable long-term goal. It might also allow me to field multiple legions on the table at the same time which would be visually appealing. 

Each legion would also have a command element. I think during the Principate the Romans were lacking in cavalry so maybe a single unit (two boxes) per legion. Would they be uniformed to match their legion, I wonder? This may be one way the Tharkallans differ from the Romans. Hmmm...

Lastly, each legion would have support from a pair of scorpio bolt-shooters. Luckily, that is a single box from Xforce. 

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Lohwand: The Year of the Comet

Animation of the path of the Neowise Comet
Created by Phoenix7777
(Source: Wikipedia)

Last night I came up with a timeline for the Tharkallan Empire. Of course, I hadn't really considered a dating system or calendar for the Lohwand Campaign, but last night the "Year of the Comet" came to me - inspired by the old movie of the same name, I suppose. I had "Year 0" - the current year, the starting year of the campaign. Only "Year 0" is useless for relating to all the nations. However, a significant event that applies to all, that would work. And so campaign year 0 is now "The Year of the Comet".

The Year of the Comet

By Tharkallan reckoning the Cometes Draconis was first observed during the Summer Solstice of the 605th year of Imperial Splendor. The Court Magisters could find no record of the celestial body in the Imperial Library in Thark, and nor could the Magisterial Council of Arolanit, though their records purportedly go back over two thousand years. As such, its appearance in the heavens was taken as a momentous event. The Imperial Astrologers declared that the comet, with its long red tail, foretold an era of great prosperity and wealth. The Emperor himself pronounced its name: the Cometes Draconis.

The siting of the comet was not restricted to the Tharkallan Empire, of course, as it was visible all across Lohwand, both in the North and in the Southlands. Each nation observed its approach with wonder or fear in accordance with their own legends and culture. Each nation was affected in a different way as a result; for one, each giving the comet a different name. How the phenomena affected the nations of Lohwand will be explored in detail as each nation is fleshed out more fully.

In the Empire, despite the celebrations in Thark and the buoyant spirits of the Imperial Court, in the provinces of Voria and Bisset, less than 500 tsan* distant, people were looking skyward and making very different prophecies!

* a tsan is approximately 1.33 km. Its actually a Tsolyani unit of measure, from the Empire of the Petal Throne (Tekumel). I've decided to use it rather than miles or kilometers. For one thing, nobody on Lohwand has heard of Napoleon!

Lohwand: A Tharkallan Empire Timeline

The Year of the Comet?
(Neowise Comet, Source:

The Provinces, in order of incorporation into the Empire:

Jharkor: 605 BP, 0 AF;
Dharjiin: 590 BP, 15 AF, (15);
Dharijor: 563 BP, 42 AF, (27);
Doblian: 482 BP, 123 AF, (81);
Dorel: 390   BP, 215 AF, (92);
Bisset: 275 BP, 330 AF, (115);
Voria: 205 BP, 400 AF, (70);
Kostaddi: 125 BP, 480 AF, (80); 
Karasal: 120 BP, 485 AF, (5);
Nemedia: 60 BP, 545 AF, (60);
Filkhar: 15 BP; 590 AF, (45);
Granbreton: 7 BP; 598 AF, (8 );
Arolanit: 5 BP; 600 AF, (2);

Current Year: 0 BP; 605 AF

BP = Before Present; AF = After Founding

So the current year is '0' - in My Reckoning, the "Year of the Comet" perhaps? - and in Tharkallan reckoning it is the 605th year of Imperial Splendor.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Lohwand: The Tharkallan Empire - a First Look

The Tharkallan Empire 
(in red)

The Tharkallan Empire is meant to be the main evil protagonist in the Lohwand campaign. In my Mind's Eye it is a mix of Early Imperial Rome, spliced with the Lunar Empire (from Greg Stafford's Glorantha), and Michael Moorcock's Melnibone. You can see that reflected partly in the naming of the provinces. The capitol city, Thark, is located in the province of Jharkor. Where did I steal that name I wonder? ;-)  

I was initially tempted to call the provinces Satraps or Sultanates, but decided that I am going to have enough of those elsewhere in Lohwand, so I went with boring old "Provinces". Each province is ruled by a Provincial Governor. I'm thinking that they will be subdivided into Prefectures, ruled by Prefects. 

Borrowing again from Glorantha, I decided that six of the provinces are considered the "Heartland Provinces", that is, where the so-styled Tharkallan peoples originate from. I've worked out a bit of background to the empire. For example, I know that the provinces, in order of incorporation into the Empire are:

1) Jharkor;*
2) Dharjiin;*
3) Dharijor;*
4) Doblian;*
5) Dorel;
6) Bisset;
7) Voria;
8) Kostaddi;*
9) Karasal;*
10) Nemedia;**
11) Filkhar;
12) Granbreton;
13) Arolanit.

* considered “Heartland Provinces”. Originally consisting of just the first four regions; Kostaddi and Karasal were added after they were taken in consideration of those regions being part of the “Ancient Homeland” of the Tharkallan peoples.
** First of the Ilmioran city states to come under the Tharkallan yoke. The province is completely absorbed into the Empire and the citizens little or no memory of their former independence.

Arolanit is the last province to be incorporated into the Empire; I mean, of course, "most recent" as the Empire has a voracious appetite for conquest and is continually seeking new territories to conquer. The province held out so long in no small part due to the powerful sorcerers who reside there. Now, the survivors serve in The College of Magic, part of the Tharkallan order of battle. That, or they are languishing in the dungeons far beneath the Imperial Palace. Some might have escaped of course, but that hasn't been determined yet.   

Friday, July 24, 2020

Lohwand: The Lormyrian League

The Lormyrian League

This region is intended to be my Greek City State/Trojan War area. I had thought initially that I would call it the Ilmioran League, but then I remembered that I should let the stats determine that:

The Stats

Looking at these I decided that Lormyr was a better choice for the head of the League. Ilmiora has "lack of imagination" for both past and future which doesn't say "leadership" to me. However, "Duty" for the present implies that they might back a league with perhaps Lormyr at its head. Lormyr also has "lack of imagination" for the past, and "shallowness" for the present, but its virtue is "Recognizing the Larger Problem" - which in my mind is Tharkallan aggression, so that puts them on top, IMO.

I should note that when thinking things out I had already decided that Nemedia was the first of these city states to fall under the Tharkallan yolk. So there is a threat, even if it is not immediate.

The green highlighted areas are ones where the results imply possible conflict. In the case of Ilmiora I think I highlighted it because of the soldier/duty reference. I've since changed my mind andI don't think that this means Ilmiora is currently at war. There is "peril" as a virtue, which might mean that the Tharkallan conquest of Nemedia has awakened them to the need to do something.

The other two instances are Sylila and Kroy, which are adjacent to each other; you might have already guessed that Kroy is my version of Troy. And - straight up, no fudging by me - "destruction" is part of Kroy's past! And the fault is "energy sapped". Sylila on the other hand, has "war: great effort" as its fault and its past is "energy". 

My interpretation is that Sylila and Kroy have recently fought a war, ending with the sack of Kroy, which is now a client state of Sylila. Furthermore, Corlay has a fault of "decline" with "inexperience" in its past and "weakness" as the present, but with "rebirth" as its virtue. So my reading is that Corlay is related somehow to the Krojans and that probably survivors have taken refuge there, hence the rebirth. I am also tempted to also categorize Ossary as a related nation as well, but their stats were so lackluster as to suggest they had first failed to aid the Krojans and then  probably turned any away that showed up at their shores. I do note that Ossary's future is "recognizing the larger problem" so perhaps they will support the league. Sylila's future is "indulgence" which I think means they are riding high after their victory and are likely to give the league short-shrift, even if they do nominally support it; Kroy's future is "nuture", which I take to mean that they are licking their wounds and no doubt plotting their revenge. Their virtue of "ceasing fruitless labour" seems to reinforce this view.     

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Lohwand: a First Look at the Southlands

The Southlands 

Here is a look at the unfinished Southlands map. I decided to expand southwards because I wanted to expand Haradwaith and Stygia a bit, and also because I had places - and ideas for factions - that I hadn't used in the Northlands map. The Isles of the Ethereal Bells, for example, originally from the Judge's Guild "City State of the Invincible Warlord" maps ("Wilderlands of High Fantasy").

Its not finished. I need to expand that eastern mountain range southwards, and add some more major rivers, among other things.

I've also started "drilling down" - or "Zooming In" - and doing detail maps of regions, adding national borders. 

The Atlan Confederacy

The Shield Lands

Like Tony Bath, in his Hyborian Campaign, I am mixing eras, but I am also adding a bit more fantasy and allowing magic. Also note that, per Arthur C. Clarke, and in regards to early gunpowder weapons: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

On the large map "Baradur - the Cannon Cult" is shown. This is straight out of Greg Stafford's Glorantha (and Dragon Pass board game). In that the Cannon Cult is one of The Dwarf's gifts: a sect of human servitors who worship their great cannons as gods, the massive guns being drawn by blind cave-oxen. In my campaign, the Cannon Cult is a mercenary unit that can be hired out to various factions. The massive cannons all have names like Hellmouth, Deathspitter, Hellroarer, and similar. Baradur is also the source of the arquebus and jezzails used by some factions (in strictly limited numbers, of course.) These are all considered magical units in the campaign.

Regarding the mixing of eras, the Shield Lands is a series of Medieval kingdoms. Their principal adversaries are themselves, Thule (Vikings) and the barbarian tribes that ring their territories. A related faction, Dol Amroth does indeed have Swan Knights, which under my interpretation are something like the Knights of St. John. Maybe I will get a chance to do the "Siege of Malta" at some point! :-)

Ologog, Oronin, and Oraya comprise the Atlan Confederacy, and are Amazons. They were set up to be my primary "good" faction to fight the Tharkallan Empire, my primary "evil" faction. However, being "limited by the counter mix" the conflicts are probably going to occur elsewhere first, as I build up my forces. 

Also, per the Everway cards, the initial conflicts are pre-determined to a certain extent. Subject to my interpretation of the card results. For example, that snapshot of my spreadsheet (see below) shows the results for the Confederacy:

Everway Fortune Card results

I did a reading for the Confederacy as a whole and then for each country. The cards predict "War with Honour" in the Future, presumably with the ever-expanding Tharkallans. Oronin has "Destruction" in its Past, and the Present is "The Soul Prevails". I think I am going to interpret this as a civil war which tore the country apart, but has now been resolved. I'm thinking this was probably as the result of some dastardly Tharkallan intrigue. It also means I have a justification for using amazon allies - the losing faction - with possible Tharkallan forces in the upcoming war. I also note that the Present for Ologog is "Treachery"; what's that about I wonder?

This is why I really like the Everway Fortune deck: so much a source of inspiration. 

I suppose one might use a typical tarot deck, but I suspect the Everway deck has been slanted specifically towards gaming. Another example: the results for Umbar, which in my mind is my version of Carthage, shows its Fate as "Destruction"! I swear I did not fiddle the results in any way. This is straight up how it turned out!

Monday, July 20, 2020

Lohwand: Using the Everway Fortune Deck 2

Lohwand Campaign - The Northlands

Here is the latest iteration of my campaign map, showing the "Northlands". I've almost finished the "Southlands" map but it still has some tweaking to do so I won't show it yet. I've also started "zooming in" and showing areas close up with borders, minor rivers, and eventually cities, towns and a road network. The latter depends upon how I want to handle things; I might just stick to area movement, and not try to get too tactical.

Last post I went on about the Everway Deck, and how I was using it. I now see that I've repeated myself. Follow the "Everway" tags to find my previous posts on the subject. I had looked for those before, at least I thought I had, but I guess I must be blind or I was looking on a different blog, my Heroes of the Age blog, probably. Anyway, my earlier posts say the same thing, only different words.

Moving forward, the next step is to use the Everway Deck to generate a result for each Nation or Faction. Or any entity, really. If you scanned my previous Everway posts, you will have seen what I mean.

Basically, for each entity, the Everway deck is used to generate a "Past", a "Present"  and a "Future", as well as a "Virtue", a "Flaw" and a "Fate". As I put it previously:

The Past, Present and Future results serve to describe the overall tone for each of those time periods for each entity. 
The Virtue and Fault results describe strong characteristics about the entity. 
The Fate result describes the end result for the entity in very general terms.

The Kingdom of Olokand
Past: 3-1 = The Griffin, Valour
Present: 4-2, reversed = Nature, Energy Sapped
Future: 2-6 = The Fool, Freedom
Virtue: 5-2 = The Smith, Productivity
Fault: 3-4, reversed = The King, Tyranny
Fate: 6-2 = Trickery, Deceit
Result: The Kingdom of Olokand has long stood as a bulwark against the forces of darkness. Its people are strong, brave and industrious but the long struggle has left the nation spent and the coffers empty. The current ruler is a ruthless tyrant who is squeezing the people dry. In the future a rival within his court will rebel and release the people from his oppression.

(Note that this is not the result for the Kingdom of Olokand in this current iteration of Lohwand.)

 The next step was to set up a spreadsheet to record the data. That ended up looking like this:

As you can see, the headings list the Past/Present/Future, Virtue/Flaw and Fate characteristics with the Entity listed down the left hand column.

The numbers, shown 3 - 2 - 1 for example, are the D66 roll (3 - 2) followed by the even/odd roll. Instead of rolling all the dice myself, I used to generate a row of 18 6-sided dice results at a time which I then read off in order and filled in the table that way. I then went back and added the Everway meanings for the numbers.

3D6 in Order

About this point I also realize that there were 6 categories and by using 3D6 I had essentially a means to generate D&D stats for the leaders of each nation or faction. This I have also added to the spreadsheet. By leaders I mean starting i.e. current leaders.

I have had a lot of inspiration from Tony Bath's book "Setting up a Wargames Campaign" in which he describes his famous "Hyboria Campaign", an iconic part of wargaming history if there ever was one.

His book provides other ways for detailing rulers, and the Pendragon RPG will yield other ways. I think having D&D style stats will complement those methods.

I might, for example, be able to use INT or WIS tests to determine what a ruler does, and a CON test to see how effective that poisoned ale was...and so on. Maybe some sort of opposed CHA test, ruler vs Ambassador when doing diplomacy?

Lots to think about!