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Monday, 11 June 2018

Something from the past...

This weekend while I was looking through some of my old university texts, I found a wonderful treasure –an old  NATO map of Nabburg and its surrounding area. Carefully folded, and tucked into the front cover of  A History of Russia, by Nicholas V. Riasanovsky it lay forgotten for eighteen years. What is so wonderful about this you may ask? Well, on its own nothing, but in the context of Imaginations many things.  

In the winter of 1999  I was an optimistic graduate student, a few years out of the military and in full academic mode, busily working on my thesis, and living a semi-reclusive life. What little free time I had in between research and TA'ing (is this a word?) was spent with either my then girlfriend, or the group of miscreants that I socialised with at the Graduate Student's Pub. At the pub, in addition to downing pints and smoking too many cigarettes, there was Nabburg. Although a real town in Bavaria, Nabburg became a Duchy for myself and two of my university friends. Carefully unfolding the map, we spent hours, over pints, detailing the lives of its many inhabitants, and telling each other stories that were made up on the spot. What was at first an "intellectual exercise" quickly degenerated into a cross between Baron Munchausen (yes he has a house in Nabburg) and Monty Python, with a lot of Blackadder thrown in as well. There was the Cabbage War of 1739 when Nabburg's neighbour, the Kingdom of Leutonia, led by King Schmenge himself, invaded the Duchy because of the tax imposed on all Nabburger Cabbages marked for export. As everyone knows, there is nothing that a Leutonian loves more than cabbage rolls and coffee, and he will do anything to get them! There was also the Battle of Rattenberg when a group of marauding Saxons somehow found themselves in Nabburg and proceeded to burn the  first village they entered, only to be driven away by a hoard of rats emerging from an abandoned mineshaft nearby that had drawn in the smoke from the burning buildings. The more absurd the better, and many a celebrity, or professor, or student found their way into our stories. Even the great Antonio Salieri (of course as portrayed by F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus) once thrilled Nabburg society with an impromptu concert when he got lost on the road to Vienna.   

Dramatis Personae

First and foremost there was Prince Heinrich von Hacker-Pschorr, of the Nabburg Hacker-Pschorrs, a distant and minor cousin of  the Habsburgs, a relation ten times removed to the Stuart kings, a knight of the Order of the Dragon, A Knight of the Holy Ram, a master of der alte Orden der Steinmetze, and the hereditary ruler of the Royal Duchy of Nabburg. There was also Konrad Krank, Grand Marshall of the Ducal Armies, boon companion of Heinrich, lecher and drunkard who once challenged Maurice de Saxe to a duel, only pass out stone-cold drunk a minute before the event was to take place. Maurice, being the gentleman that he was, felt that honour was satisfied when Konrad fell face first into a pile of mud and pig dung. Nor can we forget Stephan Schimpf, the so-called "Mad Monk of Mainz," Prince Heinrich's spiritual and scientific advisor, from whose chambers in the ducal palace strange sounds, and even stranger odours emerge with alarming frequency. He claims to have discovered how to transmute lead into gold, but has been ordered by the Almighty not to reveal the secret. There are whispers that he has a copy of the dreaded Krankenhammer, a book of vile darkness and demonology even more dangerous than the Necronomicon! There was also Haji Chan-Chan, the Prince's Blackamoor valet, interpreter, fixer and general dogsbody. Haji, who spent many years as an "honest sailor" in the Caribbean and the Americas is a named share holder of the Ostend Company, but for some reason cannot show his face in a British or Spanish port, and has vowed never to "go to sea again effendi."  Brother William, a Premonstratensian Monk (also known as Norbertines), who along with the venerable Brother Ubertino have been given Ducal Charters to investigate any crimes, and prosecute any criminals within the borders of Nabburg.

These characters, and many more, were created, or borrowed from literature, during that winter, and brought to life for a few short months. Although the creators of Nabburg may have lost touch over the years, the characters and the Duchy remains.

Having crossed the bridge into land of Imagination I think I will see about developing Nabburg with an eye towards war gaming. Back in "Ye Olden Dayz" (as my friend is want to say) all battles were simply resolved at the pub table with a d6 –I roll high I win, you roll high you win, we tie, then let's negotiate, or more often a coin toss. I think I will use a somewhat more sophisticated system. Furthermore, although Blagovia did not exist back then I will have to have them as an ally of Nabburg, and possibly a neighbour. Duke Borislav simply has to know Prince Heinrich! Certainly Leutonia, Nabburg's rival and sometime enemy, will play a prominent role in any future battles, as may the Turks of Totun-Bey.

Lets see what mischief Prince Heinrich has gotten himself into after all these years, shall we?

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