Archive for the ‘Terrible Passage’ Category


Onward and upward

September 1, 2010

We’ve set up a yahoo group to do some private playtesting of Anubis games, but in the not too distant future a genuine web site will be set up to replace this blog, complete with a public forum for discussion and feedback.

It has been a long time coming, but it looks as though the quiet unseen gardening work over the years is starting to come into fruit.

Most, if not all of the material here will be migrated on to the new site, but this is just the beginning. Anubis Studios is poised to produce a series of professional games and game supplements, harnessing the creative forces of Greg Hallam, Alan Harrison and Andrew Boswell. This will be combined with the goodwill and solid support given by Nic Robson at Eureka Miniatures.

Thanks to everyone who has visited this site over the years. I hope that you will stick around with us as we transition into the new model, and I hope that we can provide you with some innovative and fun games in return.



The Scarlet Pimpernel – a perfect subject for Eureka’s Revolutionary era figures and Ganesha’s Song of Drums and Shakos

May 18, 2010

“They seek him here,
they seek him there,
those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven or is he in hell?
That damned elusive Pimpernel.”

The above passage contains some of the most famous lines of verse in English literature and is found in the classic novel, The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Emma Orczy.

Who was this lterary character who has captured the imagination of generations of readers, has spawned movies and popular TV series, and even provided the inspiration for a hit Broadway musical?

The Pimpernel’s character has his setting in the the streets of Paris, which are awash in blood as Robespierre and his henchmen send hundreds of French aristocrats to the guillotine. Against this backdrop one unknown Englishman and his brave band of followers leave their genteel lives behind to spirit the French royals to safety in England.

The question that France’s new leaders demand to know is: who is the Scarlet Pimpernel? The question the reader asks is: why does Sir Percy risk life and honor for a land not his own?

Whatever the motivation, the story of the Pimpernel and his gallant crew as they outwit the Committee of Public Safety and its agent Chauvelin again and again, is absorbing reading.

Aristocrats, clergy, shopgirls, even the Dauphin himself – no one is beyond the Pimpernel’s aid.

So who was he, this dashing character?

The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of the most famous heroic characters in popular fiction of the past century. Because the adventures of the Pimpernel were set in immediate post-revolutionary France, people these days tend to think the story has been around since the end of the 1700s, but the novel was first published in London in 1905. It’s all very French and very genteel English, but it was actually written by a Hungarian woman who was an aristocrat by birth, and actually became the template for a succession of Hollywood and comic-book heroes.

Baroness Emma Orczy (1865-1947), a “transplanted” Hungarian, wrote dozens of books but it is The Scarlet Pimpernel for which she is remembered.

The book tells the story of Sir Percy Blakeney, a late-Georgian British society fop who is known more for being a dandy than having an semblance to a swordsman and hero.

All is not as it seems, however, and Sir Percy leads a double life as “the Scarlet Pimpernel” -the rescuer of aristocrats and innocents during the Reign of Terror that followed the French Revolution. Sir Percy, feeling betrayed by his bride, French actress Marguerite St. Just, is pursued by his nemesis, the French Republican agent Citizen Chauvelin.

The central thrust of the Pimpernel – that of an unlikely everyman being capable of living a twin life, one of which is unbelievably heroic – has been copied time and time again since Baroness Orczy put pen to paper. How? Think about Zorro, Bruce Wayne/Batman, Clark Kent/Superman. The list goes on.

The story has been dramatised on television and on the big screen several times (most notably in 1935 with Leslie Howard, Merle Oberon and Raymond Massey). In the ’50s Marius Goring portayed what was arguably the best TV Pimpernel, after starring in a Scarlet Pimpernel radio series broadcast across the US. The 1982 TV series starring Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour and Ian McKellen was hugely popular. The BBC made a six-part film in 1998 and 2000 starring Richard E. Grant, Elizabeth McGovern and Martin Shaw. The Scarlet Pimpernel’s more recent popularity and notoriety is a result of the Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical by Frank Wildhorn and Nan Knighton, which made its debut at New York’s Minskoff Theatre in 1997.

The Scarlet Pimpernel is forever being reinvented and will live on for new generations.


Terrible Passage rules breakdown

May 7, 2008

This is how I roughly envisage the rules thus far:

1 page:  general intro

2-3 pages  background to the period

2- 5 pages  core concepts and mechanics of CoT (not sure how much will go into this..)

5 pages – one page for each troop type,  half of which is historical background as to what it did, and the other half is how they work in CoT..

 so thats 10-14 pages that covers the main rules n stuff….

then there’s:  optional rules(if any) , rules for individual scale, scenarios, glossary, tidbits.. shall we say 10-15 pages, depending on how many scenarios , and how detailed..

so at this stage, the rules will be a minimum 20 pages, max 30 ish….



Terrible Passage progress

May 7, 2008

The uniform details are decades wrong, but this carries the feeling we want from the rules.Recently, Greg and I threw around design ideas for the rules for the French Revolutionary period being contemplated by Eureka.

We settled the scale, or at least the scale principals, and agreed on the specific actions that the rules were to model.

In brief:

Scale: figure scale to model company tactics, but sliding to allow lower level light infantry tactics as well. The manoeuvre element is the 8 to 12 model Company. Figures are single based, moving in clumps. Formations such as line, column and square are not relevant as these occur at higher levels of organisation where several companies cooperate. Crudely we may say that the man to model scale is 1:20, but this might best be seen as the top point of a bell curve depending on the specific instance.

The specific actions we wish to model would be house to house fighting, bridge assaults (Napoleon at Lodi, for example), light company encounters before the main battle line, task force incursions, and so on. We really have to make it clear that these rules are not for modelling Valmy. There are other rules already available for that.

Movement is measured and conventional (curses! No grids!). A single model house represents a single real house.

The core mechanic is based on the Cast of Thousands (CoT) system, already employed for many of Anubis/Eureka offerings. This might appear to be a lazy cop-out, but Greg and I did discuss many mechanisms with the aim of finding the one that correctly modelled what we wanted to do.

Finally, the new working title for these rules is ‘Terrible Passage’, echoing Napoleon’s observations of his bridge encounter.

Next steps: 1) Greg and I need to get a closer understanding of the regional/cultural differences in the protagonists of the period in order to build the factors that will differentiate the sides in the game. 2) We need to do some more reading on the minor tactics of the day and double check that our core mechanism can be extended to cover them without making the rules a joke. 3) As figures become available we must have a sufficient and growing quantity painted up to rigorously test the system. In the meantime Greg and I have figures we can push around. But we want to get the real thing, with camera in hand, so that we can simulataneously capture scenarios for illustrative purposes in the rules.

It’s looking good.


Combatants in the French Revolutionary Wars

May 7, 2008

Revolutionary France


French Republic


United Irishmen


Polish Legions

Great Britain

Denmark – Norway


French client republics of Italy

Republic of Boulon (1794 – 1795)

French Royalist

Republic of Alba (1796 – 1801), annexed to the French Empire


Ligurian Republic (1796 – 1805), annexed to the French Empire


Bolognese Republic (1796), annexed to the Cispadane Republic


Cispadane Republic (1796 – 1797), formed the Cisalpine Republic

Naples and Sicily

Transpadane Republic (1797), formed the Cisalpine Republic

Ottoman Empire

Republic of Bergamo (1797), formed the Cisalpine Republic

Dutch Republic

Republic of Bergamo (1797), formed the Cisalpine Republic

Cisalpine Republic (1797 – 1802) transformed into the Italian Republic

Republic of Brescia (1797)

Republic of Crema (1797)

Republic of Ancona (1797 – 1798), joined Roman Republic

Roman Republic (1798 – 1800)

Tiberina Republic (1798 – 1799) capital Perugia, joined Roman Republic

Lémanique Republic (1798), today Vaud canton

Etruscan Republic (1799)

Republic of Pescara (1799)

Parthenopaean Republic (1799) capital Naples

Republic of Rauracia (Raurakische Republik/Republique Rauracienne), revolutionary French republic in Basel (1792 – 1793)

Republic of Mainz revolutionary French republic in Rheinhessen and Pfalz (1793)

Batavian Republic (1795 – 1806), Netherlands

Cisrhenian Republic (1797), Germany

Republic of Connaught (1798), accompanying Humbert‘s Irish expedition

Helvetic Republic (1798 – 1803), Switzerland

Here is a list of the nations, factions and republics (newly created) that took part in the French Revolutionary wars. The lists just go to Wikipedia at this stage.


A potted history of the French Revolutionary Wars

May 7, 2008

Rebellion in the Vendée 1792 France declares war on Austria. Austria allies with Prussia, Hess, Piedmont and French émigrés. Combined allied army invades France. Battle of Valmy results in French victory. France conquers Savoy and Nice. French raid into Germany captures Maintz and reaches Frankfort.

1793  Formation of the ‘First Coalition’ against France. France declares war of Great Britain and the Netherlands. France invades Netherlands. Austrians win in Belgium in battles at Aix-la-Chapelle and Liege. Rebellion in Lyon and Marseilles. The Vendée uprising. Spanish armies invade France, as do Sardinian and Austrian. Counter revolutionary forces hand over the port of Toulon to the British. British defeated at Hondschoote.

1794 Action against the Spanish. Action against the Austrians in Belgium. French armies drive Austrians, British and Dutch beyond the Rhine. Prussian counter attack is largely ineffective.

1795 France occupies the Netherlands, which joins the revolution and becomes the Batavian Republic. Prussia leaves the First Coalition. French continue into Spain, who make peace. British landing at Quiberon to support counter revolutionaries fails.

1796 Only Great Britain and Austria remain as part of the First Coalition. Napoleon takes over command of the army of Italy, where he achieves a number of stunning victories. French cross the Rhine for a number of encounters with Austrian forces.

1797 Napoleon continues his success in Italy. Austria attempts to assist in Italy but are defeated. French pushes across the Rhine cause Austria to sue for peace. Only Britain remains opposed to the French Republic. First Coalition ends.

1798 French invade Egypt as a way to disrupt British Mediterranean trade, led by Napoleon. French invade Switzerland and establish the Helvetic Republic. France tries to invade Ireland but fail. France occupies Rome and establishing Roman Republic. Revolt in Belgium against French rule. At the end of the year the Second Coalition is formed of Austria, Great Britain, Russia, French Royalists, Portugal, Naples and Sicily, and the Ottoman Empire.

1799 Napoleon abandons army in Egypt to prop up rule at home. British and Russians invade Batavian Republic, resulting in failure. Much fighting in Italy. By the end of the year French troops had almost been totally driven out. More fighting around the Rhine against Austria, who were successful in expelling the French back across the Rhine. Battles in Switzerland against Austria. Russia leaves Second Coalition.

1800 Austrian attacks in Italy. Napoleon takes command and leads a strategic outflanking action. Austrians leave Italy. Another Rhine crossing into Germany. Austrians again defeated, leading them to sue for peace. Battles in Egypt.

1801 Exhausted French in Egypt surrender. Second Coalition collapses without Austria. Most action is at sea against the British.

Treaty of Amiens in 1802 ends war between Great Britain and France. Some semblance of peace at the macro scale exists until 1804, when Prime Minister Pitt of Great Britain forges the Third Coalition and, with napoleon now Emperor, the Revolutionary Wars are over and the Napoleonic Wars begin.