Monday, January 31, 2011

Catalan/Galatan Army Flag plates

Yesterday night I proceeded uploading a complete, revised series of printable flag plates of all the currently active Regular Regiments in my Imagi-Nation's army. There are 4 different plates covering all of Horse and Foot regiments as well as some minor or irregular units, besides of Citizen Militiae.

The majority of these Colours are specific to our fictional Imagi-Nation so that, despite most of the units they represent correspond to historical WSS Catalan Regiments, I've slightly re-drawn some of their flags, so that the resulting Imagi-nated Colour actually shows some differences with respect to their historically known counterparts -quite slight in fact, mostly consisting of replacing the original Habsburg Spanish Coat of Arms by the Galatan one. Such design changes affect all of the "Senior" (=historical junior) and "Junior" (=fictional) regiments. Only "Senior High" units (and not all of them) have been strictly kept their historical Colours -when known.

These military flags plates have been uploaded to our National Library page, along with those already existing on Land and Sea flags of Galatea and their neighbours. Hope them will be useful to those proxy gamers waiting for a chance to fight any of the battles our 1713-1714 campaign is about to produce shortly!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Rescue (7): Jaws in the dark

Miravet ferry, 26th August 1713

When the rescue party arrived in he Ebro river banks, they could watch the Templar castle of Miravet silhouette sharply cut against the last rays of twilight in a cloud-free summer sky. They would come to the cable ferry location shortly after the last remnants of sunlight would have vanished.

Barceló, Copons and Mireia silently shrank by the path leading to the ferry, while Canals and Albesa watched the Ginestar road. For a short while, Albesa ruminated his discomfort with Mireia; he wouldn't have allowed her to come with the party, because he had started believing the girl would bring misfortune to them, besides that she would be more a hindrance than a help in case of fight. He absently watched as the advancing party slipped in a little hut by the river bank -probably a refuge for the ferryman. For their movements, he guessed they had seen something on the opposite bank, and forced his sight looking in that direction: true, a similar hut on the other bank was being used as a shelter by a small group of Two Crowns' soldiers.

A sudden movement behind Canals and Albesa put them in tension and made them look around in alarm. Violently stirring the bushes, a movement wave was advancing at full speed through the reeds towards them, surrounded by a confused murmur of anxious breathings and scratching of claws on the rock. They distinguished some blurred shapes approaching runaway, or helter-skelter jumping through bushes. The determination these things were progressing towards them freezed blood in their veins, and Albesa couldn't avoid thinking of the Tivissa boy's words about dips. "Hell with the boy!" -he thought, while hurriedly drawing out his hatchet. Canals also discarded using any firearm but his sword instead, not to alert the Two Crowns' soldiers, and both men stood close together firmly handling their weapons, with their hearts rapidly beating.

Albesa had barely time just to bend down when some roaring thing leaped like a shadow over his shoulders, while he thrusted laterally his axe against a second beast throwing itself against his throat. The old Miquelet could hear a few sharp cries of pain amidst the din of cracking rods to his rear, but didn't pay any attention to it, because the animal he had just hurt was still seeking his throat with unleashed fury, in a fool mad mélée of claws, jaws and axes. It was Canals' blade what finished off the beast. Both men stared to each other, anxiously breathing, before the sound of broken bush came to their ears again... they seemingly wouldn't get out of it -but it wouldn't be without a fight. They drew out their pistols and pointed them towards the shadows, while retreating step by step.

At the sound of fighting, lieutenant Barceló threw himself out of the bank river hut and went up the slope as fast as his legs allowed him to, while the Aragonese trooper Copons stood by young Mireia, who had started suffering violent convulsions and uttering incoherent words. Barceló saw, as an instantly lightning amidst the dark, how Canals and Albesa shot their firearms; still running, the Miquelet officer handled his blunderbuss and shot it point blank against one of the monsters, and afterwards drew up one of his pistols. The silence of night became abruptly filled with an odd pandemonium of barking and roaring, shooting and cursing.

A dip suddenly emerged through the shooting smoke, projecting itself towards Albesa with the mouth wide open, looking for his throat. He instinctively tried to stop the beast bringing his forearm. The old Miquelet experienced an excruciating pain when the animal violently closed jaws on its left forearm -but he stubbornly overcame the beastly charge, firmly wedging both feet -for if he fell down to ground, he could be taken for dead. He could smell the dip's stinky breath, and become certain that behind those pale red eyes Devil himself was staring at him.

A sudden explosion, and a lightning. Fragments of skull and brain flying all around, the monster collapsing and releasing its prey... Barceló was staying close to him, his pistol still in smoke -he'd shot it right against the dip's head.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Rescue (6): A decent burial

Tivissa, 26th August 1713

During the night spent at Tivissa, the rescue party lead by the Miquelet lieutenant Pere J. Barceló was able to obtain from villagers some information about the Imperial Aragonese troopers captured by the Spaniards. According to most accounts, Two Crowns' soldiers had spoken several times about Miravet castle. In fact, it seems that one entire Infantry company did not follow the Spanish Army march towards Tarragona city, but they took the opposite direction instead, taking the prisoners with them back to Ebro river.

Miravet town laid not too far from Tivissa, and Barceló believed it would take no more than four or five walking hours to arrive in there -except for a non-neglectable detail: Miravet was on the river Ebro opposite side, and there were no bridges in the nearby crossing that huge (for the Peninsula standards) river. To reach the other side, they should go to Ginestar town first, where they would find a manual ferry ("pas de barca") that for a few coins would lead them to Miravet... provided the Spaniards wouldn't left any detachment on guard there!

They had spent most of the morning helping Mireia find the corpse of her boyfriend Albert. She was persuaded that the body of the young Miquelet had not been buried and started desperately asking villagers, with so deceiving results that she nearly lost all stamina and started weeping bitterly, as she complained about her unability to find where the boy had died. Deeply commoted, Barceló exprimed himself in an effort to remember. He was there on that bloody day, but his own battle memories were so confused... He finally managed to remember, so the party was able to locate the boy remains under a demolished wall close to the church. There was little to watch at these pityful remains, except for a few personal items Mireia could recognize: a small Virgin Mary medal around the neck, the waistcoat silvered buttons she herself had sewn up, and little else. The body was piously buried after a mass.

The rescue party were anxious to get on the march again, before it was too late in the afternoon. When they were about to leave the town, Mireia went to meet them and remorsefully asked for their agreement to let her going with them. The group got a little surprised at the request, because the girl was expected to stay at her home town -except maybe for Barceló: he had already noticed a subtle, progressive suspicion increase among some villagers towards young Mireia, likely due to having slowly been recalled about the circumstances her family left the town -just some hours before the Spanish army arrived. Superstition was insidiously winning the match to decades of good-heartness, no matter the selflessness Mireia's relatives had always shown towards their neighbours. Barceló eagerly assumed the responsibility of deciding, and invited her to accompany them -once again, with some undeclared disagreement of Ramon Albesa.

Late in the afternoon, the small party finally left the tortured town of Tivissa, heading down to the Ebro river valley.

The new Line Infantry Regiment

Cardona, 29th August 1713

The new Regiment of Line Infantry raised by Marquis of Poal among the male inhabitants of Cardona has been given the name of Saint Raymond Nonnatus, in behalf of the Patron Saint of that town. Appropriate uniforms and flags have already been ordered so that -as you can see by the picture above-, the new unit will be dressed in royal blue with dark orange facings. It will take some time to see the regiment properly dressed and equipped, but Marquis of Poal is persuaded blue-dyed coats' stocks at Barcelona are plenty enough to allow some hundreds to be delivered in a short time, so that only a minimal amount of work will be necessary to adapt them to the new unit's features.

However, Marquis of Poal is still doubtful about which names to propose for the new regiment's command employments. As a matter of fact, his negotations with Cardona Municipality led to assigning its Colonelship to the town's Major; but he'd rather prefer to see a capable professional military in charge of the Regiment on field, so has just sent word to General Villarroel asking for a Lieutenant Colonel assignation to be done. Quite diplomatically, he has suggested the name of Pau de Thoar, a skilled officer currently in Our Lady of Conception Regiment. Let's wait and see results...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gathering all available hands

On the Catalan side, 28th August 1713

News arrived pretty fast in Barcelona city, spread by merchant ships crews recently arrived from Naples and Morocco: Spain had already completed their withdrawal from Sicily, after the shipment from Palermo of a last big convoy involving several warships and transports. According to accounts, the Spanish convoy would likely have already arrived in Valencia harbour, carrying up to 11 complete Infantry regiments.

Anyone at the Catalan Army Headquarters could easily imagine which one would be these units next destination, once disembarked in the Peninsula; so that urgent orders were delivered to all field commanders: expriming the countryside manpower had become dramatically prioritary, so that no effort should be spared for stimulating conscription. Following such imperative orders, those Catalan generals with some recruiting chance plunged themselves with no delay into persuading local authorities to help promote and finance conscription -or even, in some cases, excercising some coertion. Through such various ways, Desvalls brothers and General Moragues were able to convert up to 3 peasant militiae into Mountain Fusiliers battalions, while Marquis de Poal himself also obtained the collaboration of Cardona town Council to mould their militia into a Line Infantry regiment.

Of course, only the easiest part in the formation of a handful of new Regular regiments had been done. Now it was time for adequately arming and training all these men, a job that would most likely take not less than 4 weeks. Time barely enough before a newly arrived dozen of tough, experienced Spanish regiments were thrown upon them...

At least, one piece of good news for the Catalan Army HQ: after much negotiation and a wise dose of coertion, the Council of Manresa (the fifth largest Catalan city after Barcelona, Perpignan, Mataró and Tortosa) had agreed joining the patriot side. The Municipality had not offered yet for action their Coronela urban militia, but their formal commitment to the cause was a key political success, for it would henceforth ensure loyalty of a large portion of the Catalan central countryside.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Rescue (5): Tivissa town

Tivissa town, at night

The rescue party cautiously walked along the village streets in silence as furtive shadows, with their muskets ready, until they arrived to the local church rear crane. They had found no one so far. Canals then climbed up to one of the apse windows to watch the temple interior, took a glance and carefully went down again: -There are several dozens of people sleeping inside. Civilians. -He said.

When Albesa opened the church gates and slipped inside with his musket ready, followed by the rest of the party, a number of people who where sleeping there hurriedly stood up, looking at the newcomers in confusion and fear. However, all scaring quickly ceased as soon as Barceló and Mireia were recognized by them, so that the party was finally welcome into the temple by the leading man -the local priest, whom they had been talked about at Tarragona. The willful priest's congregation consisted of some fifty people, mostly men, whose appearance denoted fatigue and some hopelessness. The church interior showed a pityful look. It had been spared from flames, unlike from looting or vandalism. The banks chipped remains had been pushed against the nave walls, fragments of the baptismal font had been carefully stacked in one of the chapels. Neither images of saints, or chapels, or the altar itself had escaped some degree of destruction.

They were invited to a frugal dinner that passed among soft talkings. The Tivissa survivors anxiously asked for news of their families displaced in Tarragona city, and Mireia was able to inform most of them: she cared to explain to each one some amount of little details on their family, friends and neighbours, so it acted as a soothing balm to these souls tortured by uncertainty. On their side, the Miquelets party were acknowledged about the villagers arduous tasks of the first days: taking down the victims of the diezmo de horca and giving them a pious burial, collecting the corpses of the those infortunate fallen during the battle... They were explained the recovery tasks the priest had started organizing with enviable energy. Sad and stubborn, Tivissa town had begun its own rebuilding a few days after being scorched by the flames.

-Why have you lit so many bonfires at the town entrances? -suddenly asked Albesa while exhaling smoke from his pipe. Canals didn't miss the significant glances crossover among some of the villagers. The priest hurriedly responded, as if anxious to provide them an irrefutable version:

-I'm afraid we've got wolves in the nearby. We've heard some howlings lately and found many dead animals, especially goats and sheep lost by shepherds before the battle. A number of horse bodies have been devoured too, for sure that hungry wolves have been attracted by the high amount of corpses everywhere. We thought the fires would...

-These howlings had nothing to do with those of wolves, Mossèn. Besides, wolves do not eat dead flesh -a young boy then contradicted the priest. The comment was immediately followed by a spontaneous outburst of small conversations, and the group understood it wasn't the first time the issue had aroused controversy in the small community.

-They do, if hungry enough. -Albesa calmly replied; he then left aside his pipe and stared to his young partner: -And so, what is that round out there, boy?

People ceased their comments, while the boy swallowed: -Dips. They're dips.

-Hell boy!... now that I was about going outside to pee!

The small community and newcomers broke in an open laugh, after which the legendary beasts' image faded away, as quickly as it had appeared in their minds. Only Mireia remained aside, immersed in her own ominous thoughts.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Rescue (4)

Tivissa Range, 25th to 26th August 1713

The group marched overnight with almost no obstacles -except for a patrol of Spanish dragoons, who did not detect them. When they arrived in Hospitalet de l'Infant, they rested for a short while and deliberated to choose a route running through little frequented crags of Tivissa Range. They spent all night in their painful path through a rocky terrain with scarce trees, dotted here and there by thick bushes and permanently swept by a persistent wind. They only stopped twice during their route, while Mireia and the Miquelets discussed what direction to take next. They finally got to Tivissa not too later and watched it in silence from the heights. The town remained quiet and ominous in the dark, its spectral look intensified by the effect of dozens of fires seemengly following its perimeter -they got intrigued by such fires, the largest ones of which were located in front of the village main entrances.

Young Mireia got lost in gloomy thoughts while the group prepared to descend in the town, fattening the muskets in silence. Suddenly, a discordant, tortured howl overlapped the monotonous sound of sticks and wind. At the horrible howl's sound, Mireia violently trembled and had to strive to control a wave of sudden terror. The men would never notice her scaring. When the group restarted their march, Mireia had already recovered her serenity, although she had got fatally certain that something was going terribly wrong.

Amidst a growing horror, Mireia began experiencing apparently unconnected alien feelings whose origin was unknown to her, as if coming from someone else in the dark: first of all, a rapid and intense heartbeat; afterwards an insatiable hunger accompanied by an anxious breath. While the group approached the silent town, she experienced the visceral euphoria from someone (somewhat?) who was about to catch their prey. Nearly certain that something bloodthirsty and brutal was about to fall upon them, Mireia desperately struggled not to panic, consciously following the path marked by her mission mates. And suddenly everything got away from her mind, just while she crossed the fires sorrounding the desolate town. Still puzzled, Mireia had the feeling of emerging from a nightmare and accelerated her steps to join the group, who has already penetrated through the silent streets of Tivissa.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Heading to Versailles

Monte-Cristo, 23rd August 1713

Claire Baizanville's first impulse was to burst in anger with Marquis de Vilana, but the Catalan legate's peaceful resolution attitude puzzled her for a while, until she managed stuttering: -But... then... Friedr... ahem, Lieutenant Leibnitz is not accompanying you? Is he... ahem... are your retinue sailing in your xebec ship?

The Marquis said nothing, he just nodded head with concern. Then Claire continued, taking a sharp tone: -The Spanish galley did also sail, a short while after your xebec. In pursuit of it, for sure.

Vilana closed eyes and fell silent, thoughtful. After a while, he gently responded: -My dear Claire, Lieutenant Leibnitz is a responsible young man, a true soldier committed to his duty. I'm persuaded you know what I am talking about. He and all my retinue knew and accepted the risks this might take.

For an instant, the girl's face got muddy. She hadn't so far noticed the affection that the young Austrian soldier had awakened in her, and such knowledge perturbed her. Struggling not to be taken by sentimentalisms, she swallowed and fought to get rid of the strange thoughts invading her mind. She prevailed, not without a huge effort: -And you, Sire?

Given the inquisitive silence of Vilana, the girl continued: -I wouldn't like to be misunderstood, but... I don't believe it wise travelling alone through a still considered hostile country, with no other retinue than two men, Sire.

-What do you mean? I can not imagine any obstacle from French authorities, Claire.

-Most likely not -she admitted. -However, France is not just its authorities, Sire. That country has been as torn by war as the rest of Europe, even more. The State is exhausted and impoverished, its power over society has become fragile and not always apparent, and deprivation have made people become surly and bad-tempered. Further if facing to some mysterious foreigners... Why are you so confident in that no nasty obstacle is to happen at any lost stop in your journey?

The Marquis stared briefly at the two soldiers escorting him, whose gaze was hesitant. He understood they were aware of their own limitations: they couldn't speak French, had no proper credentials and were carrying pistols only. Then Claire added: -Listen Sire, you are probably taking no difficulty in Provence: language similarity and friendly character of locals will let you travel with just the normal precautions, as if you were at home. But further north, the locals you are going to meet will behave with suspicion and even hostility towards any perceived foreigner. Someone might take you as spies, or even worse...

-And what are you proposing then? ...It's my duty going in Versailles, even though risking my life -at this point, his voice was slightly trembling.

-Let me come with you, Sire -she quickly answered. -Now I'm returning back to town, for I wouldn't leave without a due permission or some baggage -she then humourously smiled -but we can meet at the French border, by the road to Aix.

-Meet you there in three hours' time, then. -he agreed.

-I'll be there, Sire.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

7th turn: events by the Country

Just to help us put our thoughts in order, we've checked for eventual random events in the rest of Europe before starting our next wargaming turn. Results are to us quite enygmatic -once again:

1 - Ottoman Regencies of Tunis & Algiers: 35 ... failure
2 - Morocco: 33 ... failure
3 - Great Britain & Ireland: 81 ... failure
4 - Netherlands, Flanders & Lorraine: 51 ... failure
5 - Spain (Castile): 55 ... failure
6 - Aragon & Valencia: 53 ... failure
7 - Portugal: 82 ... failure
8 - Naples & Milan: 93 ... failure
9 - Savoy & Sicily: 22 ... failure
10 - Pontificial States & Malta: 62 ... failure
11 - Venice: 48 ... failure
12 - Genoa, Florence & others: 4 ... success
13 - France: 91 ... failure
14 - Austria & Bohemia: 38 ... failure
15 - Hungary: 29 ... failure
16 - Bavaria: 7 ... success
17 - Hannover & Prussia: 98 ... failure
18 - Saxony & Poland: 78 ... failure
19 - Rest of Germany: 44 ... failure
20 - Scandinavia, Russia & Turkey: 6 ... success

Excited by such a high success degree if compared to last turn results (3 possible events! wow!), we've checked against Mythic GME tables the nature of them, and have obtained the following:

12 - Genoa, Florence & others: - focus 24 (NPC Action) - action 78 (Cruelty) - subject 90 (Danger)
16 - Bavaria: - focus 60 (PC negative) - action 10 (Communicate) - subject 57 (Tactics)
20 - Scandinavia, Russia & Turkey: - focus 07 (Remote event) - action 33 (Stop) - subject 71 (A representative)

A bit discouraging, if in the hope to obtain any clear results. It seems to us that the two first events can be neglected, for we currently have no PCs or NPCs in the involved countries. However, the third one gives at least some expectative, because it seems referred to a remote event, with no compulsory participation of any PC or NPC. And this is the point: "Stopping a representative?". Is is that a Catalan/Galatan (or enemy) diplomat has got in trouble in any of the involved countries? A real enygma. Any suggestion?

Monday, January 17, 2011

End of 6th turn

To put to an end this campaign's 6th turn, we were to check eventual civilian rebellions in Two Crowns' occupied towns; however, we've finally agreed no to roll any die for those under Spanish control, in order to simulate the terrifying effect of the diezmo de horca retaliations launched in the latest weeks. This way, we've had to check only the unrest level in towns controlled/occupied by France, with a negative result: no critical unrest index increase among civilians of French controlled areas.

Afterwards, we've also checked for an eventual activation of France, currently at a 10% probability rate, due to the 2 episodes of Imperial troops siding with the Catalans happened so far (Tivissa and Castellciutat), at an individual rate of 5% each. We've rolled 1D100 at https://dicelog.com and have obtained 22: Duke of Berwick's army keeps inactive. Good.

Another step else was to check for Her Britannic Majesty's health. Here the cypher was at a 10% death probability, at a stated increase rate of 2% each turn. A 1D100 dice roll gives us a 57: Queen Anne's health is excellent so far. Good to Her.

Our latest event to be tested -lately suggested by Jean-Louis-, is health of Maria Luisa of Savoy, Queen consort of Spain. We've assigned to her death an initial probability of 1%, eventually increasing at a 1% rate each turn. Our 1D100 dice roll gives a result of 19, so that Philip V's young wife enjoys an enviable health too. Good to all.

Catalan/Galatan recruitment status briefing: the Regiment currently being raised by Sardinian tradesmen in Alghero city has reached a 6 companies strength. On the other hand, prestige and hard work of Colonel Corradó in Majorca brings as a fruit the enlisting rate acceleration of the 2 regiments he had been commissioned to raise, which currently sum 5 companies altogether.

Last but not least, Sant Feliu de Guíxols town's dockyards have just finished adapting a felucca ship (similar to a xebec but smaller, let's say), which has been upgunned to 10 cannons. It has been given the name of Sant Elm and Mr. Josep Capó has been appointed as her captain. [Historically, he was given command of a captured French frigate but, as in our campaign we haven't had opportunity for such a valuable capture yet, well... better a felucca than nothing!].

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Count Wallis' anger

Tarragona, 26th August 1713

-Our troops are coming, Sire -the aide explained to Count Wallis -Their column can already be seen from the northern ramparts.

-God bless them! -he spontaneously exclaimed -Any incidence?

-No troubles, Sire. It seems that our recommendations to General Areizaga took their effect, for our men passed through the Spanish columns undisturbed.

-Excellent, excellent. -Count Wallis answered -Do you already have their effectives listing?

-For sure, Sire. Heading the column, Hamilton's Dragoons. Following them, O'Dwyer's and Geschwind's regiments, one battalion each. Besides, there are the 2 remnant companies of Laborda that hadn't been able to come in before, who are escorting a light battery.

-...and what about Bagni's regiment? -the general asked, suddenly concerned.

-Er... 3 companies only, Sire. We are missing the bulk of the Regiment, no one knows where they are. Perhaps they had some kind of trouble in their way. -the aide responded -As a matter of fact, their withdrawal route was to run quite close to Ponts battlefield...

-Hum, true. Let's order messagers to be urgently dispatched to the zone, with letters either for Spanish commanders and for Bagni himself. Anything else?

-Yes, Sire. Colonel Hamilton's couriers have denounced the presence of a considerable proportion of French troops in Areizaga's columns. Hamilton's rangers have detected the presence of Anjou's IR in full strength, as well as one battalion belonging to Charolais IR. Besides, I've been reported that O'Dwyer had also detected French troops in the Spanish Army Group Centre, currently stationed close to Igualada town. To be precise, La Couronne IR in full strength and one Irish battalion, apparently belonging to Dillon's regiment.

-WHAT!!?? -Count Wallis shouted in anger. -This is a VIOLATION of the truce terms!! ...King Philip was expected to GET RID of the French troops under his command and let them withdraw back home, just as we are doing!!

After his initial explosion of anger, Count Wallis stood for a moment, and then told to his aide, in a calmly voice again:

-All right, it's their choice. Now listen to me: urgent words must be sent to the Spanish commander-in-chief Duke of Popoli, with no delay. These must be written in the roughest threatening tone permitted by due politeness, stating that all French troops under Spanish service must be immediately removed from first line service. Otherwise, we shall consider the truce as broken and accordingly perform. An immediate response will be claimed for. -After a short pause, he added: -with copies to Duke of Berwick in Perpignan, and to His Imperial Majesty in Vienna, of course. And please, would you mind to ask our recently arrived Colonels to meet us in Balsells Palace for an urgent Council of War?

-Jawohl, Sire. Of course! -the aide eagerly answered, his face lit up with excitement.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Rescue (3): Departure

Tarragona, 25th August 1713

Old Ramon Albesa hadn't opened mouth long after the group had gathered at the canteen. He emptied his mug while Pere J. Barceló explained the situation. "Good chap, this Barceló", he thought. The young man had spontaneously taken the expedition reigns. To his own respect, the matter was as plain as a pikestaff, so he hadn't hesitated for even a second before accepting Barceló's proposal to take part in the mission, due to the news from Tivissa had put some old internal fury in fire. He had been involved in several other wars time ago, quite more confusing than this one. This time, Spaniards and French were at the very same side, and it wasn't his own one. Far better, he detested ambiguities. Albesa ceremoniously lit his pipe and smiled to himself while studying Canals' face. Someone had considered that popinjay would be necessary to the group. Subtlety, ability, languages ease and so, he hed been told. "Collonades!" (="Bullshit!"). He soundly spat on the ground.

The Aragonese cavalryman Blasco Copons had left a few things clear as a result of his interview with Colonel de Córdova: there would be no official Imperial support to the mission, neither men or supplies. It solely depended on themselves getting information, leaving out of Tarragona and freeing the prisoners. They wouldn't perform under Imperial command, so their actions would fall outside the guarantees offered by the truce terms with the Two Crowns, so that their chances of being respected their lives if captured were nearly zero. However, Barceló had pointed this otherwise meant complete freedom to plan and execute actions. No rules or conventions, they would make war their way. "What a novelty!", smiled the old, carious teethed Miquelet. Such an amount of obvious stuff had turned him thirsty, so he asked for a second mug, while the group continued planning.

Some of the Tivissa refugees had found accommodation in houses of relatives, friends or charitable citizens. The rest was distribuded among different improvised tent camps along the Rambla dels Jesuïtes (=Jesuits Avenue). Barceló and Albesa had agreed to seek information among them, so they first went to Santa Clara Convent & Hospital, where many of those most disabled or wounded were being attended. There they met a pretty young girl who was taking care for the wounded, and Barceló identified her as Mireia Perelló. The girl behaved as a living source of serenity amidst the tragedy, calmly walking from patient to patient with a bundle crossed the chest and a jug of water, occasionally kneeling and whispering reassuring words; a number of attendee would thereafter remind of her as an angel. However, when she realized Barceló's presence, all her strength seemed to abandon her. She had crossed occasional words only with the Miquelet before, but now Barceló became her only living link to her beloved Albert. A sudden remorse reappeared in her mind, the absurd idea that, if she had not fleed from Tivissa, maybe her Albert would still be alive. Half fainted, she embraced the Miquelet and asked: -Albert is dead, isn't he?. Barceló could not guess whether it was a question or a statement.

Mireia helped them to ask for information among the refugees. The only relevant information they obtained was that some survivors had certainly escaped, but did not arrive in Tarragona instead. After the quest, the girl said: -You're going to Tivissa, then. -she evidently expected no response, as well as no authorization to her later statement: -I'm coming with you. The girl firmly held the gaze of Barceló. She would not bother to the group, she said: she had a knowledge on roads, mountains and neighbors, she could walk for hours without showing signs of fatigue, she knew how to sew a wound and how to clean it and take care for it... She needed to find her Albert's body for a last time and give him a decent burial. Barceló finally agreed, despite old Albesa's ruminations.

In the meanwhile, Blasco Copons had no trouble in accessing Saint John's Gate Bastion, thanks to his condition of Imperial officer. Once there, he held some talk with the sentinels, carefully asking them for the Two Crowns forces outside. Afterwards, he sought a viewpoint behind a battlement and verified their informations with the help of a long range monocle. Thus, Copons located the encampment of a Spanish battalion, close to the road to Reus, and carefully identified each of their guard posts, patrol itineraries and eventual entrenched detachments.

On his side, Vicenç Canals had gone to meet Colonel von Leipzig again. Although he had told the group they shouldn't expect any help from the Austrians, Barceló insisted in that visit, so that Canals practised his best diplomacy until acknowledged on the next midnight change of guard at Jesus and Sea Bastions, as well as the detachment officer's name. Better this than nothing. Von Leipzig indifferently dismissed him, showing a genuine lack of interest in knowing why such information was needed.

The group's last initiative was to obtain some weapons and ammunition. Canals and Copons persuaded the arsenal's officer to be granted access -with the valuable help of some falsified credentials-, as well as to be delivered 120 musket cartridges, 120 pistol rounds, a bag of lead pellets, a small gunpowder barrel and a box of eight metal grenades.

Close to midnight, the group finally met at the foot of Jesus Bastion. An Austrian officer lead them up to the battlements looking directly towards Sea Bastion, and Canals crossed a few words with him in a whisper: it was due to wait until the Spanish round was away, and then to perform swiftly and in complete silence. Barceló picked up a rope and started his descent to a complete, waiting for the rest of the group under shelter of the shadows. Mireia was surprised by her own ease down the rope. Once all the group was outside the wall, she had to suppress a feeling of euphoria. She found herself suddenly full of energy. Her senses had become tuned and adjusted to the darkness, she could feel the smell of sea, the light nightly breeze. Free from encircling walls, she found to have recovered something she had been anxiously missing. Something wild, old and new simultaneously.

The group swiftly walked westwards and melted into the darkness.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Rescue (2): Interview

Tarragona, 24th August 1713

The interview Second Lieutenant Blasco Copons was holding, at the Imperial Headquarters in Tarragona, had turned into a really exhausting, humiliating experience. He had been forced to swallow an actually severe admonition with the stoicism of a military facing unavoidable facts -as he was. At least, he had been clever enough to keep his mouth firmly shut up and obediently assent to each of the scoldings Colonel Gaspar de Córdova had been keeping for him -or for any other eventual survivor of his defeated and captured Horse Regiment. To a certain degree, Copons could understand the contradictory feelings of his Colonel, who had mortgaged riches and efforts to raise a regiment that would later prove as excellent. Excellent, even at the time of disobeying the explicit HQ orders they'd been given with respect to Tivissa town. The affair had grown enough to become an encouragement to Resistance for the Catalan naturals. And now, the only cavalryman in his regiment who had managed to avoid death or captivity was seemingly decided to stubbornly worsen the situation! ...Organizing a rescue of survivors? "At least, the option of a Council of War has been discarded" -thought Copons to himself with relief. The meeting was privately hold into the small office of Colonel Friedrich von Leipzig -a second in command to Count Wallis-, who was observing the severe admonition with some concern. He himself felt some empathy towards the stubborn Aragonese military, despite his comrades rashly resistance face to the Two Crowns had put into a likely risk the peace meeting results at Rastatt; however, it should be admitted the defence of Tivissa had been brilliant from a military point of view, a laudable achievement in a completely inappropriate moment. He then decided to soften a bit the scene:

-Perhaps Second Lieutenant Copons has forgotten to mention the captured standards of your Regiment, isn't it? I understand his loyalty towards his comrades in arms, or his anxiety to help them, might cause him to unvoluntarily forget this matter... I'd suggest that restoring the lost standards might be a worthy feat -such kind of feat capable of straightening a military career-, besides of a due full honour restoration to a brave regiment. -von Leipzig then turned toward Gaspar de Cordova: -I'm sure you'd agree with me, dear Colonel, that a Regiment is by no means lost to History, if keeping their standards, being lead by a dedicated Colonel and including a hard core of veterans... Naturally, there is still the... er... unpleasant affair of having disobeyed orders regarding the relief of a town, but I sincerely believe this might be conveniently put aside by now. In any case, I understand that Second Lieutenant Copons' offer is entirely voluntary and at his own risk. If I am allowed the comment, Colonel... there is little to lose on your side.

Outside of the office where Copons was holding the interview, Mountain Fusiliers Lieutenant Pere Joan Barceló -who was to become later famous under the nickname of "Carrasclet"- had been able to clearly hear the interview first half. Certainly, the boos upon Copons had been quite substantial. Anyway, he looked well on him. In fact, he owed his life to Copons, who had picked him up to his horse nodes during the last, desperate Tivissa defenders attempt to break their encirclement and flee from the almost lost town. Copons' poor horse fell exhausted some leagues beyond, but at least this allowed them to seek refuge inside Tarragona with the first dawn of 11th August. Barceló felt by no means surprised at Copons proposal of rescuing his captured brothers in arms, and he accepted with no effort. Nobody in Tarragona city knew that one of the Ebro Riverside Miquelets had survived the Tivissa carnage, where he had lost most of his friends and his elder brother. At his 34, he had spent over 5 years fighting alongside a number of those fallen at Tivissa, and the experience had thrown him into that kind of stunning that usually follows next to a major loss; so that he had felt no kind of hurry yet for reporting himself to any superior command. These days, his only joy was the reunion with Ramon Albesa, a friend of old of his own family. Albesa was on old miquelet, a veteran in former wars who had lately decided to stand in arms again, after his wife's death.

Inside, a military salute was followed by a sound door slam and Copons left out the office, with the expression on his face reflecting the ordeal he had been forced to face. But when a mocking smile suddenly lit up his face, Barceló knew that they had been given free rein. And a chance for revenge.

After the stubborn Aragonese officer had left the room, Colonel Gaspar de Córdova seemed to relax. He then wearily stood up and said goodbye to Colonel von Leipzig after appreciating his suggestions. Once he was finally left alone, the Austrian military adopted a pensive air and turned towards his assistant -an individual in civilian clothing, an apparently anodyne accountant holding a heavy bundle of papers-, who had been discretely staying close to a corner so far. Vicenç Canals had been efficiently serving him with fidelity since the 1706 siege of Barcelona. The Colonel knew nearly nothing about his past -except for a stay at seminary. Canals had an innate ability for languages, great ability to evaluate human motivations and an astonishing ease to assume any character. In fact, Colonel con Leipzig vas persuaded that his bland appearance of efficient secretary was just one more of his countless masks. Some of the missions he had been assigned were genuine temerities. Information and disinformation, a game as old as war.

-I guess you would agree, dear Mr. Canals, in that the possibilities of such a hypothetical operation would increase with the involvement of someone with your abilities...

-You are most kind, Sire.

-...and that it would be completely undesirable that such a hypothetical action might embarrass the terms of truce His Imperial Majesty has compromised His honour in.

-Absolutely undesirable, Sire.

-If such a hypothetical case, it would also be very reassuring that someone was explicitly looking after the standards, whose release should never be forgotten, or put aside in exchange for other intended targets.

-Most thoughtful, Sire.

-I trust you, Mr. Canals. And for God's sake, come back in one piece. Do not be fooled by the fighting will of a young lieutenant. I'd greatly dislike having to dispense with your services.

-It would be a terrible misfortune, Sire.

At Almudaina Palace

Majorca City, 24th August 1713

After a few days of quiet and uneventful trip, the Barcelona convoy carrying Lady Elisenda and General Prado perceived the imposing, unusual silhouette of Bellver Castle and, a handful of hours later, the ships anchored in the calm Bay of Palma. That night, the imperial viceroy of Majorca, Marquis de Rubí, organized for the travelers a lavish reception at Almudaina Palace, where they were invited to stay while in the island.

-Glad you decided to call at our port, my friends -Marquis de Rubí told to his guests-, because I've been summoned to Vienna too, and was hesitant on how to do the journey. Here in Mallorca, we only have a single armed vessel, the Sant Josepet felucca, so that I'd regret taking it for my single protection, therefore leaving the island waters unprotected.

Josep Boixadors, Marquis de Rubí, was an exuberant and extrovert man from many points of view; but his loquacious, Epicurean appearance concealed a restless spirit, permanently unsatisfied with the contemporary world's limitations and weaknesses. Lady Elisenda was quite aware of such circumstance for, as a founding member of the Acadèmia dels Desconfiats, the Marquis de Rubi had been one of her most attentive mentors inside the Illustrated Institution -along with Marquis de Vilana, of course. After the official reception, newcomers were invited to a private hearty dinner, which lasted until the wee hours of the morning amidst a number of philosophical brooding and musings, duly accompanied by generous doses of North Majorcan sweet wines and the not less sweet scents of Antillian pipe tobaccoes.

General Prado would intensely remember for a long time one of the good Marquis latest thoughts: -I'd wish you to hardly deliberate later to yourselves what I'm going to tell you, my friends; for I suspect that in hands of those my guests of today lies the future of our young Nation: what will the so desired liberty serve for, if such liberty is to definitely close for us the Americas' gates from now on? ...we had raised in arms to fight for free trade with America for all the Nations of Spain, in favour of a new King who would abolish the Castilian monopoly on the Americas, ans so we eagerly got allied to England and the free nations of Europe against the puppy of King Louis... But where to go, now our only chance of survival lies in secession from Spain... and by this to ourselves closing forever the doors of America, for sure.

Such quiet reflections had raised a chorus of protests among his guests, but the Marquis soon calmed them in a smile: -No my friends, do not get me wrong. I support without a question the cause of our Nation, as you can imagine through my current office of Imperial viceroy. However, I insist that you, younger ones -and saying this, the old Marquis looked intensely at Lady Elisenda- must rethink this Nation's future, for it needs to be built on a quite different bases from those we had imagined not so long ago.

That said, guests retired to their respective rooms, not without first agreeing the convoy's departure date and conditions. As their mission had been accomplished, most of the transport ships would return to Barcelona, conveniently loaded with supplies and ammunition for the Principality and escorted by St. Francesc de Paula xebec. Colonel Corradó and two companies of his aborted Seven Sorrows Regiment would stay at Bellver Castle, where they'd begin the task of forming two new regiments -one of Marines and a second one of Line Infantry, as agreed with the Tradesmen Guild and the Marquis himself. Meanwhile, the Maltese frigate would continue her route to Sardinia carrying aboard Lady Elisenda and her assistant Fiona McGregor, along with Marquis de Rubí and General Prado. The vessel would be duly accompanied by Santa Eulàlia xebec and the Majorcan Sant Josepet felucca, on whose boards the remaining company of Colonel Corradó's regiment would be installed.

Some days later, the convoy left the Majorca City, leaving behind Colonel Corradó along with his burdensome task of building two new regiments and organizing the island's citizen militiae.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Rescue (1)

Chronicle of a RPG adventure set in the Principality

Under the label of "The Rescue", from now on you'll find here the narration of a RPG adventure played by a group of Catalan gamers, who are following the evolution of this 1713-1714 Campaign of Catalonia refight, and would like to contribute to the slow building up of this Imagi-Nation's alternate history. The gaming group is using a variant of GURPS ruleset and consists of 4 players, directed by Marc -their GM. They started gaming on last weekend, and expect to complete it in the next weeks. My wargaming mate Jordi and I are enjoying this our Imagi-Nation's autonomous proof of life, and eagerly (nearly anxiously) looking forward the result of it all. I'll be doing my best to properly translate it into an acceptable English in the next weeks; I beg your pardon for eventual errors in text, and wish the narration pleases either usual or occasional readers, despite the errors it will for sure contain.

Introduction

For over three weeks, Tarragona inhabitants and Imperial soldiers had been anxiously hanging from news coming from Tivissa town. The unexpected resistance of the Gaspar de Córdova Imperial Cavalry to surrendering the town to the Two Crowns had been received with unbelief both by civil and military authorities. At first it was a common opinion that Sergeant Major Lanuza, who was in charge of the unruly Aragonese regiment, would order a withdrawal after an initial murky incident -otherwise fully understandable due to tensions inherent to the garrisons replacement process. But when later news from Tivissa confirmed that Lanuza troopers would not leave the town without a fight, a wave of genuine sympathy towards the Aragonese soldiers shook the city. Their brave attitude of resistance, deprived of subterfuges or excuses, represented a real breath of fresh air for Tarragona and the whole Principality. During the following weeks, the old city held breath while the Tivissa drama inexorably unfolded. To the wondering why Lanuza's Aragonese would not surrender the town, the most accepted popular explanation was "For their guts", an explanation easily understood by people, but hardly palatable to Imperial authorities in current circumstances.

After the Catalan Ebro Riverside "Miquelets" Regiment unxpectedly joined Lanuza's troopers and helped them rejecting against all odds a first Spanish assault, the events came to turn into a legend. The joint exploits of Aragonese and Catalan soldiers grew higher and brought to everyone reminiscences of past glories. Everyone realized the resistance of that handful of braves would crack sooner or later, but on the air of canteens' improvised chats it could be elusively felt that everything was possible. The reinforcement column lead by the Military Deputy of the Principality was exaltedly cheered by demonstrations of popular enthusiasm all around. Somehow, despite all the odds, strategies and agreements, Catalan Authorities were finally doing what was due.

Given the circumstances, it is not surprising that the fall of Tivissa, on August 10th, was a terrible blow to the morale of Tarragona inhabitants. News talking about a victorious extreme resistance gave then way to radically different ones, referred to retaliations on non-Imperial combatants so terrifying than many believed that such kind of accounts -massive executions or diezmo de horca on civilians- were no more than exaggerated rumours. But the arrival in city of the first refugees not only confirmed such terrible events, but also it was known the set on fire of the town. The shadow of Tivissa and the fate of its defenders got hovering on Tarragona inhabitants as a baneful warning...

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Uniforms & Colours webpage, re-modeled



I've taken some advantage of these latest days of reduced activity to completely re-build this website's webpage listing the Catalan/Galatan WSS Army. In place of completely replacing the old stuff, at the moment I've chosen to add a new webpage ("1713 army") without deleting the old one (http://what-if-catalonia.blogspot.com/p/army-of-galatea.html), so that eventual differences can be easily seen. At a later stage that "old stuff" page will be deleted, or re-used to host a Later Army listing... (congenital optimism, this of mine)

Except for those of Commanders and Hussars, all plates have been substantially re-modeled. Horse units plates are still using the excellent WSS trooper template kindly provided by David, but the Foot ones have been more thoroughly modified, because the template I had been using so far was actually that one of SYW times French Infantry, and I've gone progressively unsatisfied with my former choice; so in the end I've done some kind of merging between David's templates and those provided by the Catalan excellent "War of Spanish Succession Virtual Museum" (www.guerradesuccessio.cat) -Creative Commons licensed.

My knowledge on some historical details has been increasing a bit lately, so that I've taken advantage to re-draw some of the flags and standards shown in plates: that one of Aragon Line Cavalry, or Brichfeus' Dragoons, which are now closer to historical descriptions; or Lady Elisenda's IR 9, whose flags coats of arms no longer are showing the Royal Crown of Spain, but that one of Aragon instead -this latest change, by consistence with the Imagi-Nation's own general storyboard. This way, it can be clearly seen an definite evolution in flags, from "Senior High" regiments flying purely Austro-Spanish devices, to those "Junior" ones that show strictly "Imagi-National" emblems...

Later in the next months, I'll also be adding the name of each unit's Colonel and/or Lt. Colonel. And some new 15mm miniatures photos will be added soon; for I've just painted up, or am about to finish painting, two Infantry regiments, artillery and hussars. Lady Elisenda's Daughters of Minerva Regiment, among them ;) ...I'm quite happy with the overall result, I must say :)

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Departure

Monte-Cristo, 23rd August 1713

Once the Catalan legation had completed all due protocolary formalities, the xebec crew went aboard and focused on departure preparation. Short time later, a small but solemn parade left the Paris H. Palace Hostel. Preceded by the flaming regimental flag they had been entrusted, the Royal Catalan Guards detachment marched with full pomp and ceremony around the carriage normally used by the Marquis de Vilana, followed by a picked band of the Monte-Cristan Gardes de l'Etrier. The parade looked as if designed for popular entertainment and so it was, because dozens of citizens stopped to watch it and enjoy the splendid brightness of the Catalan Guards uniforms, yellow with red facings.

At the city-state port, Sous-lieutenante Claire Baizanville was resentfully watching the parade. Marquis de Vilana had not informed her about any of his departure details -although few things would escape to her acute observation sense-, so that their unveiling had made her feeling quite angry. This is how the Catalans were to pay her restless concern? Underestimating her in the last minute?

When the stagecoach stopped in front of the Catalan xebec, its occupants hurriedly went up the ship without much ceremony. Then the soldiers hurriedly followed them, so that within minutes the ship had untied moorings and sailed for open sea, while flying a number of Catalan and courtesy flags. Claire watched the fast procedure with some astonishment: something was wrong and she couldn't guess what it was. She then observed a sudden activity increase aboard the Spanish galley of Marquis de Ordoño. With amazing efficiency, the war galley soon had its moorings untied too, and swiftly stumbled harbor showing the discrete steadiness of a predator stalking its prey, after the Catalan xebec footsteps.

Still puzzled, Claire thought for a moment. Apparently, the Spaniards were on notice of the Catalan legation departure, albeit this was by no means any secret: Marquis de Vilana had not hidden his intentions to return back home, and even had explicitly referred to it several times... Claire's sixth sense got her on guard, as a warning that something was far from going as expected. She suddenly understood. Fueled by a sudden feeling, Claire climbed onto her horse with the agility of a panther and galloped to the hotel.

At the hotel's backyard, Claire intercepted a small and discreet coach about to leave through the back gate and, without hesitation slipped inside it, while pulling out her pistol. Inside, two Catalan soldiers in civilian clothes also pulled out their pistols; Marquis de Vilana was sitting between them, discretely dressed in a trader's clothes. After the initial surprise, the Marquis smiled placidly:

-Dear Claire, it seems as if nothing could escape to you!

-Marquis, what the hell are you doing? -she exclaimed.

-I'm leaving the Presipality, my dear, but...

-...But?

-...I wouldn't let the Spaniards know my actual destination, Claire. I'm not going back home, but to Paris instead.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Expanding

I'm most proud and happy to let you all know that the Defiant Principality project is steadily expanding. A lot of weeks ago, while justifying my targets behind the project launching, I stated to wish our Catalonian 1713-1714 campaign to be used as a source for other gaming ideas, any kind of games; either for obtaining wargaming scenarios, or to develop basic storyboards for role playing.

Well, I must say this website is beginning to collect some first successes in this matter. Besides of the strategic level, overall wargaming campaign my mate Jordi and I are playing, we have also started obtaining some first tactical clashes that can be set on a tabletop. For sure this was expectable, so nothing to get amazed at so far. It is just fun for we both, no more.

However, some other gaming groups have started getting interested in our story development and aftermath, so that a club from Lleida city lead by one Andreu have expressed their will to proxy gaming our battles. They've already got a taste using one of our latest turn battle scenarios, with a quite satisfactory result as it seems. Of course, that first proxy battle is not to have any effect on our campaign yet, because it was no more than a trial; but as soon as they feel comfortable enough with the ruleset chosen, we'll start rebounding their battle results on the campaign, of course.

The other success is related to role playing: after having followed for some time the events and individual stories told at our website, a group of players lead by Marc of Sant Sadurní d'Anoia town will be roleplaying this weekend a scenario based on one of our most dramatic storyboards: the Tivissa battle. A group of adventurers starting from Tarragona city are planning an infiltration behind the Spanish lines to rescue the flags and men captured by the enemy at Tivissa...

A rather popular young female character will be their guide (can you guess which one?). During their adventure, they'll have to face not only well-known risks (the Spanish army), but also unexpected, unknown hazards from beyond... Of course, you'll be acknowledged on the adventure... Thrilling, isn't it?

Wish those first samples keep growing and expanding...

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Awaiting enemy moves

El Bruc, 22nd August 1713

General Bellver inspected once again his maps with high concern. Taking advantage of the indecision of the Spanish Army Group Centre, the Barcelona Headquarters had asked him to send a couple of battalions to Vilafranca town, where the Military Deputy was likely to face a huge Two Crown's column. Understanding the delicate position his own army might be thrown into if Vilafranca was lost, he obeyed order with no arguing.

However, his troops were also facing a not less formidable threat. True that his unsurpassable defensive positions along the Col of Bruc were granting him a good degree of safety if the enemy was foolish enough for launching an attack through that narrow pass, but his own rival was General Vallejo, one of the most brilliant enemy commanders. Early in the morning, he had been reported enemy horse troops marching along his army's flanks, and such notice had seriously disturbed him. Such troops, several squadrons strong, were probably seeking an alternate pass that allowed them avoiding the hazardous Col, but it could not be discarded some other kind of cunning manouvre. Which one? General Bellver couldn't even guess, so that he promptly ordered scouting detachments to be dispatched beyond their flanks.

It was then when a courier came in his tent: -...Your permission, Sire?

-Any news? -the general simply asked.

-Colonel Brichfeus has already arrived in the camp, Sire. He's leading his own Horse Regiment.

-God bless you boy! Please ask the Colonel to join us at my tent as soon as possible.

General Bellver mentally took a fast account: they had at their disposal three Infantry battalions -the dreadful Royal Catalan Guards among them-, besides of a regular Mountain Fusiliers battalion and two companies of Aragonese volunteers; after the arrival of Brichfeus' squadrons, there were also Line Cavalry and Dragoons, in number of one regiment of each. Not to forget the field artillery battery... According to previous reports, the enemy force was not too larger: under Vallejo's command there were four infantry battalions -two French, one Spanish and one Swiss-, two heavy and two light horse regiments, a field battery and finally a heavy siege battery. As for the cavalries theoretical unbalance, half the enemy forces were in fact dispersed in scouting duties... Maybe it wouldn't be that silly taking the initiative and attacking the Spaniards by surprise -on the understanding he managed to find a way to actually surprise them, of course.