A good adage to follow: no politics, no religion!

This won’t be the place to discuss contemporary modern issues.

I have enough of that in my working life, or with those people I already have around me in my personal life.

So this is an environment safe from all of that, those opinions and perceptions are best kept for sharing elsewhere, and that allows this space to concentrate on what matters.


Dalliances with Danger – The Saxmundham Viking Treasure – Part 2

(This was the second part of the briefing for the same wargames weekend)

The SIAS officers, now reinforced by more volunteers, some of them armed, send out a patrol to establish just what has been going on in the countryside between them and the sea, while Judge Cooper and Mr Geach the Mayor put the town into a state of readiness. All set their hearts and minds to the task ahead and then grave news is announced – the Telegraph lines have been cut!

The two Police Constables finally make it back to town with their new ‘friend’. Hopefully, Old Jock Trubshaw is reasonably sober to have told of his midnight encounters “wiv some nasty ‘Uns..

But now more information is needed – as to how many, and where they are, and what’s their intentions in coming here? Who leads them in this odd ‘invasion’ of East Anglia – surely this isn’t some scheme dreamed up by the Kaiser? Is the ‘Teutonic Twit’ really that hair-brained? Or can it really be the Arch-fiend himself?

The Light Railway has already proven to be a valuable link to Leiston and the coast, and the Station staff and signallers have worked hard with the Enginemen in getting the light engines and carriages made ready for another venture out. With the sun slowly rising over the North Sea, time is crucial and the enemy must be found and observed.

The SIAS party and their growing band of volunteer forces must now defend the centre of the town of Saxmundham from these raiders, prevent them from looting and carrying off any spoils, and capture any of them to interrogate and find out why they are here.

The Judge and the Mayor have done a fine job in preparing the town against these foreign agents, and lookouts have been posted, a dressing station has been set up for any wounded, and gallons of hot tea and piles of bacon sandwiches are available for the gallant defenders of East Suffolk.

Now it’s known the enemy are coming straight for the town, but many rumours abound as to why. Some are saying it’s a deliberate attempt on the capital, seize the railway and ride into London, others say that Colchester is the real target, again by using the railway. But most have now heard from Old Jock that the raiders are after some sort of Viking item that’s here in the town – and yet no-one knows what or where it is. The Mayor has ordered a few trusted seniors to investigate further, but a scour around the Bell Inn, and the small Museum by the Market Hall have found nothing and now the town elders are pouring through the town records.

So all the defenders can do now is await the assault and to see where the attackers aim for – and hope to stop them in their tracks before they can plunder the town and escape.

This part of the briefing led all the players to participate in the tabletop battle, with a lot more forces present. The actual game saw Deveraux’s forces push aside some of the hastily raised and poorly armed civilian bands, and some deliberate evil naughtiness occurred when some of Les Enfants Perdu shot down some nuns that had been taken hostage. A typical Deveraux Outrage!!

Amongst all that panic and indignation the forces of villainy broke into Saxmundham Church to raid the crypt for the Viking treasure, and hot-footed it back to the coast. The SIAS re-mustered what they could, including some Volunteer Riflemen of the Suffolk Regiment who had dashed into town from Sudbury, but alas they could not prevent the ‘Man of Blood’ from departing.

All-in-all, it proved the variant SG2 rules worked, and that it was also possible to mix gaming styles together too, to satisfy both wargamers and role-players attending the same games weekend. It’s something I should plan to repeat again sometime this year, now that we have IHMN and TMWWBK – two sets of rules that lend themselves perfectly to this concept.

Dalliances with Danger – The Saxmundham Viking Treasure – Part 1

(A prequel campaign, this was used as a ‘tester’ of the adapted Stargrunt II rules at a wargames weekend several years ago)

That ‘Man of Blood’ is loose again in the world. After his deprivations in Imperial China – taking advantage of the feuding Governors and Warlords – he’s now believed to be running opium again back into Western Europe. It’s also believed that Von Ludecke is still with him – Beck is reputed to be somewhere in North America & D’Allange is said to be in the Middle-East.

Deveraux has been gathering his forces of anarchy and mayhem, and the Imperial Powers have managed to set aside their differences and recognise his threat to all their regimes.

His many acts of outrage – the raiding and sinking of French steamships in the Gulf of Lyons, the bombing of the Hotel Excelsior in Sarajevo, the abduction and subsequent ransom of Princess Elenia of Moldavia, and the derailment of the Ottoman Army’s Smyrna Military Train – are just the latest in a long line of sinister events all perpetrated by Deveraux and his minions, Les Enfants Perdu. Their exploits blaze across the front pages of the Western Press and all clamour for direct action against the Arch-fiend.

Now, strange sightings of lights afloat in the darkness off the East Anglian coast has prompted Horseguards to send some officers to Saxmundham to investigate. Before they are able to arrive however, the train journey is interrupted.

The northward train has been stopped just south of Saxmundham by unknown hijackers, who have removed the engine and tender, leaving the passenger carriages stranded. The party of officers have then resorted to walking up the line, in the dead of night, to the station and there they meet the Stationmaster and two Police Constables.  On the Platform stand Detective Inspector Symonds and Judge Cooper, who address the assembled throng of servicemen in the Passenger Waiting Room. The London-bound Express has also lost its engine and tender, blocking the line coming south from Norwich.

Peculiar happenings have also been occurring in this area, in the dead of night, close to the shoreline, and two Police Constables managed to signal earlier using Morse Code with their patrol lanterns, that they have under guard a valuable yet delusional witness. Gun flashes and then a considerable noise of gunfire were observed and heard from their direction, and Symonds now needs assistance in finding and bringing back his two Constables and their valuable witness.

To that extent, Judge Cooper has just proclaimed the Local Emergency Powers Act in the town’s marketplace and a small band of volunteers have been gathered, some armed with shotguns, to assist. What’s desperately needed though, is leadership and military training and that’s why the Judge and Symonds are glad of the officers arrival.

The town is buzzing with unusual night-time activity, the gaslights are burning brightly tonight, and the townspeople move about the shadows with a determined purpose – what mystery waits out there in the darkness. Some of the apprentice boys have been dispatched westwards, on bicycles, to pass on news of the situation and to seek more assistance.

This was the first part of the briefing for the game weekend and was resolved with some combined ‘kriegspiel’ and role-play, along with a few tabletop skirmishes. The participants soon got ‘into character’ – it only needed some reminders of Jeremy Brett and Basil Rathbone as that man Sherlock, and away the game went.

Dalliances with Danger – The British Make Plans

(More content from the Deveraux Campaign Journal)

The Special Investigative Aeronautical Service

Formed within the last few months and based at the mountain fastness of HMAS Collingwood, the Aerial & Telegraph Station in the Hindu Kush, the Detachment, as it’s more colloquially referred to, has the logistical backing of the Scinde Commissariat of the Indian Army Service under the guidance of the Procurement Section in the Foreign Office. The current main component part of the Detachment is the Aerial Gun Sloop HMS Alacrity.

And the Admiralty played its role too – placing a recruiting advert in the London Gazette, whereupon a special team then had to be drawn together to sift and interview the applications.

Gentlemen Officers To Be Recruited!

Gentlemen officers of either service actively sought after & encouraged to join the new Royal Naval Detachment – The Special Investigative Aeronautical Service.

Successful applicants should expect to serve away from Home stations & to barrack at the Aerial & Telegraph Station, HMAS Collingwood in the Hindu Kush. Service on board the Aerial Sloop HMS Alacrity will be taken at Naval pay equivalent to current rank, off-reckonings & mess bill accounts to be arranged with the Scinde Commissariat of the Indian Army Service.

Applicants can expect to serve all over the World as required by the Minister of War & the Admiralty. Life onboard HMS Alacrity will involve long flights & lengthy journeys, & we beseech you to consider this fully before applying – gentlemen of nervous flying dispositions & suffering from vertigo should consider that this service may not suit them. Able demonstrations of marksmanship will be standard & studies of anthropology & linguistics will be held as an advantage. The Detachment is keen to recruit medically & technically-minded staff as well. A familiarity with the Naval Aerial Service is preferred but not necessarily required. All applicants will be chosen on demonstrated merits, good conduct & excellent records of service.

The Detachment is also eager to encourage the recruiting of officers from the Dominions, Colonies & Dependencies of the Empire – in the case of the latter two, please provide a supporting letter of reference from your superior officer or civil administrator. Horse-riding & sports are actively encouraged as leisure pursuits. We regret that there are no facilities for Officer’s families & again beseech you to bear this in mind. Servants & batmen however can be provided accommodation & horse remounts will be provided for.

Duties will involve the positive investigation & prosecution of agents & provocateurs set on de-stabilising the trade & well-being of the Empire. An analytical mind is as valuable as a good strong sword-arm. Training & briefings will be regular & all Officers will be expected to attend. Battle drills will be carried out along with the Station’s garrison of Bluejackets & Sikh infantry & Officers will be expected to participate.

Interested parties should apply in writing in the first instance to:

Captain William H. B. Norris MC
Room 14 East, The Admiralty

For the main part, travelling expenses to the Hindu-Kush must be met in their entirety by the successful applicants. Advances may be made available.

This set the initial scene for the specialist British Imperial unit, it’s base and it’s initial vessel, for the very start of the campaign. Certainly the idea of a model of HMS Alacrity set a few of the gamers off with thoughts on modelling the Aerial Gun Sloop in 28mm scale.

The Gazette recruiting advert also made for an excellent poster in the right gothic font.

Dalliances with Danger – The Opening Innings

(More detail from the Deveraux Campaign Journal)

Les Enfant Perdus

The general term given to Deveraux’s own military elite, made up of a mix of military shades, all intensely loyal to Deveraux and his lieutenants.

In amongst this ‘Brigade of Brigands’ are the Colonel’s own Siamese henchmen, along with a motley collection of American outlaws, gun-runners and profiteers, D’Allange’s renegade Foreign Legion deserters, and a cosmopolitan mixed-bag of Central and East Europeans with severed ties to their own homelands, many of whom are wanted criminals, anarchists, deserters and escaped convicts.

Led and ruled with an iron hand by Deveraux’s devoted lieutenants, Hiram Beck, Gunther von Ludecke and Francois D’Allange, they are fearsome in their execution of Deveraux’s military schemes, ruthless and well-equipped and battle-hardened with many experiences of clashing with the forces of the European Powers.

His Other Elements

Deveraux recruits additional forces wherever he lays down roots – often manipulating the local populace to do his bidding by guile, blackmail, extortion or false rewards and promises. Often there is questionable loyalty and motivation, but always a concern nevertheless. Integrating himself in such a fashion into a region provides him some degree of perimeter protection and forewarning, when the locals warn him of newcomers and outsiders. The Powers have found that stealthy infiltration into his various lairs and domains is always so difficult and challenging.

But Deveraux has a consistent weakness, an appetite for learning and technology, and the men and women who delve in its creation. Warranted he only desires such advances to further his evil ambitions, but it is an aspect that can be used against him, by those clever enough to construct stratagems worthy to pit against him.

Opening Batsmen for the Home Team

As the British have agreed with all present at the Craigievar Conference to take the lead in the counter-operation, the Ministers looked to the Royal Navy and the Army to see if they had any acceptable contingency plans available.

Sadly, the staff at the Admiralty and Horseguards had to reply in the hesitant negative, but thankfully up stepped a relative unknown, Sir Tristram Monk, Under-Secretary for Procurement at the Foreign Office. In a detailed presentation, Monk outlined the new Detachment he had been commissioned to raise by Vice-Admiral Beckett. The Special Investigative Aeronautical Service, recruited with personnel from both Arms of the British military and indeed from several destinations within the Empire itself with a special article recently featured in the Naval & Military Gazette, would be based in a mountain fortress in the Hindu Kush. The Detachment, as it’s more commonly known, would be an excellent first choice to make the first responses and moves against Deveraux.

All present agreed with his excellent analysis and promised assistance towards the campaign where possible. Monk was then tasked with completing the preparations and after the conference ended, promptly left for India. The Foreign Office agreed to keep all those present informed of proceedings.

The Powers allowed themselves a momentary breath of relief.

This element outlined a bit more detail on Deveraux’s ability and motives, but it importantly provided a unit, the British SIAS, as a focus for the Old World Order forces.

Dalliances with Danger – The Craigievar Castle Conference

(More from the Deveraux Campaign Journal)

Just what stratagem Colonel Deveraux has planned to attack the British Empire with, yet again, is unknown. The British, as the principally threatened power have striven to track and contain the Arch-Criminal in whatever location he has now considered to use as his base for his nefarious operations. Much foot-plodding and hard investigative work has been made in the dark streets and alleyways of the European capitals, stealthily following his known associates, and tracing the funds that Deveraux never seems to be short of.

At a recent extra-special conference of the Investigating Agencies of the Imperial Powers, held in the remote confines of Craigievar Castle, a week of deliberation was spent in assessing the best counters to make against Deveraux’s destructive ambitions.

The Craigievar Conference settled on the following four examinations:

  The Case of the Swiss Merchant, brought to the conference by the French Surete

In a classic textbook operation of surveillance and entrapment, Monsieur Atage, a Swiss resident of Nice, was arrested and interrogated, releasing a horde of details about the arms procurement Deveraux had been known to be engaged upon. With many millions of Swiss Francs changing hands, considerable tonnages of arms and ammunition had been directed from French and German manufacturers to unknown destinations in the Mediterranean. Some of Hiram Beck’s key players, known gun-runners, had acted as go-betweens with a disreputable Greek shipping line, all investigated by Lloyds of London agents. French officials now surmise that these arms are destined for a major uprising somewhere in East Africa or the Middle-East, and have traced two sailing vessels, one to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, the other to the frozen wastes around Greenland. It is their belief that Deveraux has some vast new training ground at the latter.

  The Case of the Great Mirror, outlined at the conference by the Russian Okhrana

The Russian Delegation provided copious files on an ongoing investigation of one of their own scientists, Dr. Ivan Nossovitch. It transpired that Dr. Nossovitch was engaged in serious research into the manufacture of a ‘super reflector’ – a giant mirror lens that would enable the Russian Imperial Military to install their first Earth-based heliograph. Continued experiments with the ‘super reflector’ had discovered, by accident, it’s further potential as a weapon, when reflected sun-rays ignited several hundred acres of Siberian forest. With the experiment temporarily suspended pending an internal enquiry, visiting officers of the Russian Imperial Aerial Naval Flotilla arrived to find all trace of the Doctor, his staff and the ‘super reflector’ gone. A sweeping search was conducted using the 12th Cossack Cavalry Regiment, and evidence was discovered that the trail ran northwards, to the east of Novaya Zemla, and on into the frozen wastes of the Arctic Circle. The Okhrana’s presumption is that the entire experiment has, either voluntarily or under duress, been given to Deveraux at either his Newfoundland or Greenland base of operations.

  The Case of the Missing Zeppelin, read to the conference by the German Wache40

With a certain degree of embarrassment, the German Delegation announced that a certain party of Leftist terrorists successfully hijacked a Zeppelin from the marshalling sheds at the Imperial Naval yard at Wilhelsmhaven. The small garrison of Naval cadets were overpowered in an early morning infiltration, and at least 15 armed men removed a various amount of machinegun ordnance from the magazines, loaded the stolen property aboard L-13 and cast off, heading out over the North Sea. A small patrol Zeppelin gave chase but was driven off by light rocket fire. The Zeppelin was then discreetly tracked from a distance until lost in a high fogbank just 11 miles North-North-East of the Shetlands. An American merchant captain consequently reported sighting a ‘German dirigible’ approaching Greenland the following day. The Germans assured the conference that no other weaponry was stolen during the infiltration of their naval yard.

  The Case of the ‘Marie-Lucerne’, shown to conference by the British Special Branch

An ongoing investigation briefly detailed by the Special Branch was that of the merchant steamer ‘Marie-Lucerne’ boarded and taken in an act of piracy close to Foulness, Essex. The cargo was disclosed as amounting to 800 tons of high-explosive gun cotton, and the vessel was sighted off the Newfoundland coastline, after a failed recovery attempt by smaller Royal Naval vessels, and was last seen heading into Canadian waters. Lloyds will continue to monitor reports of sightings from the world’s sea-lanes, but enough evidence exists to confirm Deveraux’s involvement.

This part of the campaign briefing provided the Deveraux player four options to set into order of priority, as first operation, second, third and final task. From that, several clues would be written up for the players of the opposing forces of Old World Order to potentially sleuth out, depending on choices they made on where they spent their Investigative Resources. They also had to decide what elements of their forces they would ‘position’ to monitor and react to which of the four Cases. And of course, there would never quite be enough men and materials at the start.

Dalliances with Danger – Richard Deveraux – Arch-Opponent of Empires

(Another re-visit to earlier writings – and potentially useful for IHMN & TMWWBK – with some slight editing & updating carried out)

Escaping from HM Prison Dartmoor, where he had been sentenced to serve 20 years hard labour for his attempted bombing of the Houses of Parliament, and ably assisted by his dastardly Siamese henchmen, the Infamous Colonel Richard Deveraux sailed to rendezvous with his anarchist associates in Brittany before taking ship to his remote hideaway in Newfoundland. There, he will set in motion his latest venture to wrestle any amount of power away from the might of the British Empire and discredit them in front of the entire World.

Rumoured to have served in some far-flung post of the British Empire, possibly even as a young Lieutenant during the Abyssinian Campaign in the 1860’s and an Intelligence Officer in the Ashanti the decade after, this middle-aged man has done more to upset the rational order of statesmanship than any war of recent times. Of Anglo-Irish parentage, and purported to be rich from his mineral prospecting in the interior of Australia, Deveraux has sponsored more acts of terror against the European Powers than any other individual or force. Even the new blossoming powers of the United States and Imperial Japan have had cause to rue his attentions.

He will have with him his notorious ‘Les Enfant Perdus‘ – Deveraux’s own personal forces he calls his ‘Lost Children‘. Unknown in number and from many varied sources – Siamese pirates, Tong gang members, American outlaws, East European anarchists – he has a startling ability to recruit from anywhere, which many observers put down to his enchanting charisma. Along with renegade European officers followed faithfully by their specially-trained cadres, Deveraux has an amazing capacity to field effective armed forces to attempt to achieve his nefarious goals in all four-corners of the World.

As for his motivation, that has been difficult for all to pin down. Some in Western Europe, particularly the French of the Rive-Gauche, have considered him to be a gallant Republican fighting against the despotism of Absolute Monarchy. Others like his German Leftisch associates look to him as the First Socialist Activist fighting for the Rights of the Common Man. Many consider him an outright Anarchist, taking on all authority of the Old Order. The British Government label him a Fenian from his previous exploits against them, even upon their sacred hills and vales of England itself.

Now, free again to exercise his criminal intellect, Ministers and Generals meet in darkened rooms discussing how best to counter-act his next Outrage. It’s soon known that it’s not just the British who have concerns about Deveraux, and eventually Lord Napier obtains the Prime Minister’s consent to hold a secret conference in Craigievar Castle, Aberdeenshire. Lord Napier himself then hand delivers invitations to certain foreign Embassies in London, and the scene is set for the Craigievar Conference.

This was the setting I drew up, quite a few years ago, for a Space:1889 wargame & role-play campaign, set here on Earth, using an adapted set of rules from Stargrunt II. It’s always provided a useful background to dip back into every now and then, and seems suitably useful for both IHMN and TMWWBK.