As a roleplayer first and wargamer second, my preferences are often for characterful systems. Games where one can focus on the individual or small numbers are my cup of tea, and we’ve been spoiled for choice in recent years with the likes of Saga, Clash of Spears, 7TV, The Ministries offerings, Osprey publishing’s blue books,… the list goes on and on.
There has however been a system with an alluring setting that had always been on the list, but until recently I had never picked up. Having remedied that, and with our look at Scottish-themed offerings continuing, It’s time to take a wee trip to the World of Valon!
For those of a certain age, the exploits of Cornwell’s Sharpe, fantastically portrayed by Sean Bean, will have influenced their interests in the Napoleonic conflicts. For me, other than skirmishing in the Iberian Peninsula, the appeal of rank after rank of painted figures doesn’t really chime. But what if you sprinkle in a liberal does of fantasy and lashings of punny nomenclature? Well in that case I can certainly get on board.
With a strong community support both through traditional forum (CLICK HERE) and Facebook group (CLICK HERE), Valon is the setting for the Flintloque and Slaughterloo wargame systems. Think of it as a fantasy analogue for Europe in the late 18th/early 19th C and you won’t go far wrong. There are your usual tropes; the elves, orcs and ogres, and undead but also the likes of the Todoroni (frogmen) and the Rabbits of Burrovia. I’ve only really dipped my toe into the setting, having purchased the War in Catalucia book, but I found a lot of interesting ideas and the seeds of a roleplaying game have taken root.
Okay, “but what’s all this got to do with the run up to St Andrew’s Day?”, I hear you grumble Well, it just so happens that there is a Great Britorcn army. Quick aside, I like that whilst some of the writing inevitably has some bias, the peoples of Valon have their own agenda and few are specifically ‘good’ or ‘evil’. Sure, necromancy and vampirism are always a no-no, but you get my point. Well within these nations of The Great Britorcn army are the Ratmen of Joccia. These aren’t your nefarious ratmen, or indeed any of their vile kin! Instead, these rats are equipped with tunic, kilt, and black powder weaponry.
Detailed within the War in Catalucia book are a number of Joccian cavalry and infantry units. I mentioned the punny nomenclature earlier and here you’ll find things like the Coldscreamers of the Coldsream Guards or the Mangemouthshire Lights. Of course, cavalry takes on a new meaning in a fantasy setting with anthropomorphic nations. The Joccian Greys are no ordinary highland cavalry. Here, the rats ride on huge highland cattle delivering unstoppable charges. I mentioned in a previous article how the heilan coo is a quintessential Scottish image. Well I guess if you throw a kilted ratman on top, then it definitely fits our theme. If rams are more your thing, then perhaps the Joccian hussars might be more appropriate?
Accompanying the skirmish rules is a wide range of figures and I feel that some of the Joccian sculpts are amongst the nicest in the Britorcn range. There’s a lot of humour and old school vibe to these which is fitting for the setting; as well as providing plenty of scope for letting loose with your painting ideas. For me though there’s a broader appeal in the setting as a potential base for roleplaying games. Whilst the Nappy era might not be your first port of call when thinking of new worlds, the fantastical elements open up so many possibilities.
As a fantastical world you can also let your imagination run more freely and not feel constrained by the problems of button counting and maintaining historical accuracy. The opportunity for a bit of derring-do amidst the backdrop of steel and black powder is definitely intriguing. One could no doubt with a bit of work, modify the core skirmish rules for some simple OSR style roleplaying. Regardless, I hope that this quick look at the Joccians of Valon highlights something a little different to your traditional historical or fantasy genres.
The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster