The Pescadrix Sun, 6th April 1748

INVASION?

April has hardly begun, but it seems the belligerents are keen to have at one another. First of all, we had reports of shots being fired in the bay north of Castell Sebastian, currently guarded by our wonderful cousins from Prunkland; and then late yesterday evening, rumours reached us of foreign horsemen tumbling across the border with Kap Ludwig/Cap del Dit del Pen on the opposite side of the bay to Castell Sebastian. The message was brought to us by a breathless courier, but it seems very clear that horsemen have been pushing along the coast, forcing back a contingent in the pay of Randy Raoul of Grenouisse. Quite where this will end up, we don’t yet know, but we shall of course keep you posted.

 

GELDERSTAAD GETTING GRUMPY?

There are rumours – and we’ve no idea who started them – that the cloggies over the border have been rolling their cheeses in anger, causing Randy Raoul no end of worries. Talk is that Pickled the one-arm is having to dash hither and thither, not sure where the enemy might be.

Meanwhile, our man in Donderminde has been scouring the coffee-houses, braving the whiff of waccy baccy, and has so far found nothing more warlike than a pile of Arabica beans and some round cheeses wrapped in red wax that wouldn’t make especially fearsome cannonballs.

In fact, from what we hear, the much-loved Colonel Groanagain of the Koffee Party is on a yacht somewhere in the southern oceans, with warfare being the last thing on his mind, being smeared with coconut oil by nubile maidens, by all accounts keeping his sabre safely sheathed. Phoarrr!

A fancy wooden clog

A fancy Gelderstaadian clog. Those cloggies really know how to live.

Gelderstaadian artillery cheese

Crafty cannonballs? We don’t think so!

BANGING ON AGAIN

People living on the south-east coast of Granprix were woken with a start on the evening of 4th April when someone’s navy decided to stage a gunnery practice.

“I knew there was somethin’ goin’ on because it made the house shake,” said Mrs Toast, 46, of Vexillology Way, Galleda de les Escombraries near Cap Grumollós. “All of a sudden, like, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM and me hyacinth fell orf the mantelpiece. Gave me quite a turn, it did!”

The thunder-like noise and vibration, together with bright flashes of light, seemed to be coming from the direction of Castell Sebastian or Montaña Viejas to the south-east. Pedro Pescador, 72, of Virgins Terrace, who was visiting Mrs Toast at the time, added, “I reckon it was some kind of sea battle. I remember seein’ a few o’ those when I was a kid, and all that flashin’ and’ bangin’ were just like I remember.”

Our reporters have been unable to substantiate these reports, which appear to be widespread, of any kind of battle at sea, but if the reports be true, the Bahia Grumollós may well be hiding something big.

A sea battle

A sea battle, with ships making a noise very much like those heard recently

 

OO ERR, YER MAJESTY!

What an exciting week it has been! The weather has been scorching, and Mrs Carlotta of Fish Street, Toxaneros reports hearing the first cuckoo of the year. And talking of interlopers sitting on nests where they aren’t wanted, just where is King Raoul of Grenouisse, I hear you ask? Well, rumour has it that he’s been frequenting the pox-houses of Pescadrix with his slimy bedfellow, the Marquis de Cress. We’ve had our paparazzi painters pursuing him all week, and it certainly seems like he’s more interested in picking a peck of pickled pepper than issuing orders! Good job for him that he has the doughty General E Pickled in charge of the troops – even with one arm, he can wrangle with the best!

Could this be HM Raoul?

Could this be his most regal majesty King Raoul at play in Pescadrix?

 

LORD PEELER GOES FOR A WALK

Over in Xipona, our fashion editor tells us that Lord Peeler, holder of the local award “Most Uncouth Visitor Ever”, has been rousing his boys out of their drunken stupor and appears to be preparing for departure. No doubt the local hostelries and whore-houses will protest, as their business has gone through the roof at the same rate as the town’s reputation has gone down the pan. The more genteel townsfolk will no doubt rejoice at having some peace and quiet again, and may even mourn the departure of Peeler’s allies from Hunmanby who have been much gentler with the local girls.

Pescadrix Times Newsflash: Assassination Attempt!

4th April 1748

General E Pickled

General E Pickled

News has just reached us that an attempt has been made this afternoon on the life of General E Pickled of the Gateway Alliance. Early reports suggest that an individual fired a single shot from undergrowth beside the coast road near the village of Calamar (W25). The general, escorted by a substantial number of cavalry, whilst being wounded in the arm, appears to have escaped serious injury and was immediately surrounded by bodyguards who took him swiftly along the road to the east until out of sight of witnesses.

“He didn’t ‘alf yelp!” said Mrs Fems of Mont de Abono Street, 33, unmarried, wearing a blue bonnet and pale blue skirt. “I reckon that gave ‘im a right shock, an’ the feller wot done it got right away, too. Them blokes on ‘orses got in a right tizz lookin’ fer ‘im, but it’s the undergrowth an’ thorn bushes, see, it’s dead thick ‘ere, you could hide a cow an’ it’s field an’ never find it.”

Mrs Fems (widow) continued, “Mind you, it’s good for the village. Not much ‘appens ‘ere and now we can make souvenir mugs and tea towels wiv that fat general’s ‘ead on ‘em to flog to posh folk. The landlord of the Pelican’s Bum is already thinkin’ of changin’ its name to “The General’s Arm” an’ you should see the pile of manure they left behind, not all of it from ‘orses, neither. We’ll ‘ave a good crop of cabbages this winter.”

No further reports of the General’s whereabouts have yet come in but, judging by the activity in the east of our country towards the province now known as Kap Ludwig, it is likely that his destination lay thither.

Tension Grows in Granprix

The citizens of little Granprix are gathering in coffee shops, inns and hostelries, and the buzz of conversation flows out into the streets, around the squares in towns and villages, along the pews in churches, amongst the market stalls and along the docksides.

War is coming.

Who can have failed to notice the nervousness of the foreign nations stationed in Granprix following the debacle of Byzarbia? Men from far-flung places in the pay of the disgraced Kind Raoul of Grenouisse, barely able to speak their own language, let alone the clever dialect of Duke Zigor’s kinsmen, eye the townsfolk nervously and the hard country folk, tough as their beloved hills, more warily still.

Fisherfolk report great fleets of ships lurking offshore, merchantmen and men’o’war too, their huge masts o’ertopping the great castles of the coast. And travellers, freshly checked by the customs men of Prunkland who man the barriers separating Granprix from the lately-annexed Cap del Dit del Pen, now known as Kap Ludwig, share scuttlebutt of a province stuffed with men of many nations, of uniforms of white and blue and green and scarlet and gold, of tattoo-armed sailors filling the portside ale-houses.

From further afield, rumours of armed men speaking languages not recognised, of strange beasts and wild ceremonies carried out in the dead of night, of virgins taken from their pleading parents and dread sacrifices to terrible gods by savages from another planet.

Curiosity and terror, excitement and fear, hopes of liberation and secret apprehension.

Shadowy figures move stealthily in the shade of forest foliage. The sun breaks through the branches of an overhanging tree, and steel sparkles suddenly on high.

A young officer spots the glittering glade. A telescope is taken from its sheath and brought to eye. He watches for a moment; a minute; and then a minute more.

“Laddie,” he says softly to his sergeant, “those trees are hiding men, and men that are not ours.”

Paper and pencil are quickly put to use, and an anxious-looking rider gallops up. “To the Baron at Castell Sebastian,” says the officer, “and I want you there ‘ere noon.”

Grenouisse ascendant 1748 144dpi

A Campaign Newbie Question

One of the participants in this year’s Ayton imagi-nations campaign has asked a question that is so screamingly obvious that I kick myself for having made the assumption that he knew what was required. An old grognard such as myself, with a love of campaigns, needs to be aware that not everyone understands or can easily make the leap from controlling units of miniatures on a battlefield to commanding armies in a campaign that, for most of the time, are just dots on a map. So, here’s what I replied:

You need to read the campaign rules you were supplied with, look at the map you were also supplied with, and decide what you want to do in the campaign, i.e. either sit on your arse and wait for the war to come to you, or get off it and get stuck in!

You are in command of your own contingent, so you don’t have to obey anybody, but you (in your case) are in the pay of His Majesty King Raoul of Grenouisse, and his Chief of Staff General E Pickled of the Gateway Alliance is issuing orders on his behalf.

So, when a message arrives, respond to it, either by moving yourself and/or your troops or by sending a message back. All this goes via me, so if I judge there to be any delay or cock-up due to Fate, you will become aware of that – but not necessarily immediately. It might not become apparent that a message hasn’t got through until you realise that several hours/days/weeks have passed and you’ve had no reply or nothing has happened. Just like in real life, in other words! (Just think of the famous “the cheque’s in the post…”)

If you feel completely lost, lean on others who have campaign experience or, in effect, hand over command of your contingent to Iain or Peeler to do with as they will and you can just sit back and then shove the pieces around the battlefield and roll dice when it comes to the weekend.

Much campaign stuff consists of messages to and from me, asking questions like “Can I send out a reconnaissance to X and find out if Y is up to Z” or “I want to question the locals about X, what do they tell me?” and “Please dispatch the following message via courier to General X asking him to this, that or the other”.

What I’m doing is co-ordinating the whole thing, keeping track of who is doing what, to whom, with whom and where, and at what time, including calculating journey times, the difference a change in the wind and weather can make, judging loyalties and subterfuge and manipulating forces about which the players know very little indeed for most of the time. Which is why, by the time the weekend comes along, I am completely knackered.

But the bottom line is this: if you and your troops are nowhere near the fighting by the time the weekend arrives, and aren’t even within marching distance to provide reinforcements at a critical moment, you’re going to have a very dull weekend, perhaps just helping someone else to fight with their troops.

OK?

Grenouisse Ascendant: the Ayton Campaign 2014

I have just sent out the first Umpire’s Email to the participants of the forthcoming “Grenouisse Ascendant” imagi-nations campaign and weekend. The big get-together is scheduled for the Bank Holiday weekend of 2nd-4th May, to be held, as usual, in East Ayton in Yorkshire.

Once again, I had completely forgotten how much work is required just to set the thing up, decide who is on which side, prepare the campaign background and so on. I must be mad!

I shall be revealing who is on the side of King Raoul of Grenouisse and Duke Zigor of Granprix in due course. Can Raoul hang on to his ill-gotten gains in the face of a vengeful Duke Zigor and the notorious Granprixian partizans? Can Zigor and his allies, including the mighty Prunkland, wrestle the tiny duchy back from the usurper and his cronies? All will be revealed.

You will be able to follow progress here in the coming weeks.