Friday, 5 June 2020

The final plainclothes Syldavian agents

Well, here are the two final plainclothes members of my Syldavian secret policemen. As previously, they are from the North Star Steampunk range

The eagle-eyed amongst you will note that they are duplicate poses to two of the others. I don't see this as any kind of a problem, because they have been painted in different colours. I think that the chap on the left looks a bit like Neville Chamberlain. I expect that he takes a much firmer line with miscreants and ne'er-do-wells though.

I can see these figures in all manner of settings. Blasting away fruitlessly at Shoggoths in Cthulhu-based games is a distinct possibility, as are supporting roles on Pulp games too.

So, now I have to paint up some uniformed members of the Königliche Gendarmerie. That should be fun. When they are done, that will mean that my Syldavian company for  In Her Majesty's Name is complete.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Some more information about Syldavia

In 1878, the 21-year old Miss Dorothea Huntley-Palmer travelled to Syldavia with her parents, Sir Arthur and Lady Caroline, for the coronation of the new King, Muskar VII. Sir Arthur was travelling in an official but unspecified capacity as a representative of Her Majesty’s Foreign Office.

      This image is by Edward Lear of the Albanian city of Durres.

The Huntley-Palmer family had a long history of visiting Syldavia, dating back to Captain (later Sir) William Huntley-Palmer of the 11th Dragoons, who travelled widely in that country in the mid-18th century at the behest of the British government, first visiting Syldavia in 1753 on the orders of General Sir George Augustus Melchett, a relative and his superior in an unnamed government department. William Huntley-Palmer lived in Syldavia for a number of years and in 1763 married the 22-year-old Doroteja Svinjske-Klobase, a member of a noble family related to the Syldavian Royal House of Almaszout.

Before visiting the country, Dorothea (named after her Syldavian ancestor) investigated the journals and papers of her illustrious forefather and because of family connections was able to consult many documents contained in the Melchett Archives.

William Huntley-Palmer was resident in Syldavia between 1756 and 1764 and wrote at length about the people, customs, places and history of the country. Dorothy was most interested in the capital city Klow (variously pronounced as Klau, Klov and Klor), because that is where she would be residing initially. In one report, Sir William describes Klow as;
"an ancient but well-preserved city, constructed of pale yellow limestone with several grand palacioes in the Venetian style, possessing a number of fine antique ruins from the Roman period. The Basilica of St Budvar gives the appearance of great antiquity and was surely constructed by mighty engineers from imperial Rome or Constantinople in the years of its glory This great church is decorated in the Byzantine manner, with many mosaics and icons and has a great dome of ancient and ingenious construction. Much of the water supply to the Old City comes from a still-functional Roman aqueduct. The Old City, which occupies the long ridge overlooking the confluence of the Wladir and Moltus rivers is still known by its Roman name of Klovinus and is dominated by the great mass of the mediaeval Castle, formerly the Royal Residence and location of the Royal Court, although nowadays there is a modern Royal Palace built in the French style facing the Castle across the main square. The Castle itself is of a stern aspect and strongly built in the old Italian manner, with all manner of machicolations, arrow slits, round towers and fortified gateways.

Sir William writes at length about the Old City, noting that many mediaeval buildings were razed to allow the building of the New Palace, which was only completed in 1742, although construction had begun in the 1720s. Sir William himself spent some time residing in a mediaeval tower house in the Old City, once the residence of Sidekar Krutusne, a famous warlord of the Slavonic Hvegs in the 15th century. Close to the Basilica, the house bore a bas-relief indicating that in 1464 its owner had been made one of the founding Knights of the Order of the Black Pelican. The carving above the entrance to the house showed a Pelican Rampant, bearing in its beak a scroll emblazoned with the Latin phrase “hoc signo vinces nigrum onocrotalus and dated 1464.

Sir William also describes the newer parts of the city of Klow, which are mainly on the south bank of the River Wladir, although there are many houses and warehouses of the 17th century on the slopes outside the Old City Walls that lead down to the wharves that line the northern bank of the river. To the north of the city, he describes the market gardens and small farms that have sprung up over the centuries to feed the urban population. He also notes the remaining Roman ruins at the western end of the Klovinus ridge, enclosed in a walled park which forms part of the modern Royal Palace. In his words;
The remaining vestiges of Roman Klovinus, which was built on the site of an Oppidum of the Illyrian tribe of the Kallipians, are to the west of the Palace and are part of the parklands in which King Ottokar, his wife Queen Octavie and their children may be found taking the airs and enjoying musical performances in the simulacrum of a small Roman theatre which has been reconstructed from the stones left from the destruction of much of the mediaeval city. The remains themselves consist of two pillared temples, one still with its roof, the lower floor levels of a great villa, some statuary and a square building which had been decorated with mosaics in the Christian period of Roman rule. The famous aqueduct, which is one of the marvels of the country, lies elsewhere, entering Klovinus through a tunnel through the walls further east, filling the great cisterns beneath the Castle. These waters come from the north, transported by this great Roman enterprise from springs high above the fortress of St Vladimir, which was rebuilt in the manner of Marshal Vauban in the early 1700s.”

Discussing modern Klow, Sir William says;
The Lower City, the Extra-Muros, dates mainly from the 15th and 16th centuries. It is found on the Right Bank, that is to say the northern side of the great River Wladir. Much of the building is in the Venetian style and there are a number of fine Palacios belonging to merchant families. At the western end of the Extra-Muros is the Quarter of the Musselmen, where the tall towers of their temples, known as Mosques, dominate the skyline. There are also numerous residences on the terraced slopes leading down from the Old City Walls, which were once the mansios and hotels of various Syldavian lords and gentry, although these are mostly now much decayed and occupied by those artizans and workers of the Old City whose homes were razed to build King Ottokar’s father’s new palace. The Lords and Gentlemen have decamped to a location to the east of Klow, in the tongue of land between the Moltus and Wladir rivers. Formerly the fishing village of Sankt Budvarius (there is a shrine to the saint situated close to the river), since the middle part of the 17th century this village has been built up into a sophisticated suburb with a theatre for the Opera and other musical diversions. South of the Wladir, the Left Bank may be reached by three great bridges. New Klow proper can be found here. Close to the river, there are many enterprises and manufactories and the houses are small and close together. This area was formerly known as die Häfen, that is to say, The Harbours. This is where the urban poor and labouring classes of New Klow are concentrated. South of these warrens, past the New Market of Klow, built in 1670 by the order of King Muskar IV (grandfather of the current King), there is much new building, including districts of fine houses when the new middling classes reside. At the western edge of the New City lies the Champs de Mars (named in the French way) and the main depots and barracks of a number of regiments of the Syldavian army. None of New Klow is walled and the city is extending southwards as the population grows”

Dorothy notes that her family will reside in a mansion in Sankt Budvarius which is currently the British Embassy. Since the 1760s, Sankt Budvarius has developed into an administrative centre, with a number of government ministries and foreign legations and embassies located there.

In her journal, Dorothea writes that her family and personal servants would travel across Europe by train to Venice, before taking a steamer to the main Syldavian port of Dbrnouk, from whence they would complete their journey by train to the capital. She expresses a desire to explore the old town of Dbrnouk and practice her watercolour techniques by painting the ruins of the Venetian castle. She tells us that she is much taken with the story of the first King of Syldavia, Muskar I, recorded in mediaeval documents as Muscarius Hivegiorum, that is to say Muskar Hveghi or Muskar of the Hvegs, who became king in 1127, leading an army of Hvegi and Istrovni supported by Venetian and Carinthian mercenaries, overthrowing the last Turkic khan of Lower Syldavia at the Battle of Zileheroum. Legend tells that the night before the battle Muskar dreamt of a giant black pelican who flew out of the dawn bearing in its beak a scroll inscribed with the words “hoc signo vinces nigrum onocrotalus”. This legend will much later on give birth to the Knightly Order of the Black Pelican.

Dorothea writes that the Hvegi and Istrovni were Slavonic tribes who had migrated into the region in the 6th century, and who were later “enslaved” by Turkic-speaking tribes from the area north of the Black Sea, who conquered the Duchies of Klovinia, Zympathia and Istrovia in the 10th century. The first recorded Slavic ruler of the area was Budvar I, known as Budvarios Sclavenios in a document from the reign of the eastern Roman emperor Tiberius II Constantine. The inhabitants were referred to as the Klovinioi. The 8th century Notitia Syldaviarum tells us that the peoples (populi Syldavari) of Upper and Lower Syldavia are comprised of the Illyrian Ghogs, the Syldavi (descended from Roman colonists), the Gothic Tervingi and the Slavic Istrovni and Hvegi.

Other things that Dorothea discovers in the Melchett Archives date from the end of the 18th century and the early years of the 19th.One of these is that Admiral Nelson spent some time in the southern port of Cataro with Lady Hamilton in 1799, while his ships were refitting in the great Cataro Lagoon, a safe harbour for many ships. Another is that her grandfather Sir Robert Huntley-Palmer (b.1794 d.1867) met Lord Byron in Klow in 1819, while visiting the country as a guest of Count Otto Svinjske-Klobase, a member of his grandmother Doroteja‘s family. Dorothea expresses the hope that she will also meet her Svinjske-Klobase relatives while staying in Klow. She writes, somewhat colourfully, of her desire to meet dashing young Syldavian Hussar officers and being able to attend glittering balls and soirées where she can spend her time dancing amidst the cream of Syldavian society. She notes that her great-uncle Lt. Col Henry Huntley-Palmer (b.1801 d.1889) was British Military attaché to Syldavia in the 1850s and was an observer present at a number of engagements between Syldavia and Borduria in the War of 1859-1863, which eventually led to the end of the Bordurian Autocracy and the rise of its present Dictatorship.

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

More Syldavian Secret police

Following on from my previous post, here are three more members of the Syldavian Security and Intelligence Service, the Vohunska.

You will note that the left-hand figure is the same pose as in the previous post. It isn't really an issue and, in any case I have painted him differently.

The middle figure is a second character, an assistant to Inspektor Eugen Jaegermann. He is Detektiv Samuel Tylenburger. Unlike his blunt and plain-speaking boss, Detektiv Tylenburger likes to think of himself as a man of the future and, as a graduate of the Institut der Wissenschaft in Klow takes a scientific approach to his work. A younger man, the Detektiv comes from the coastal city of Douma, where his family has roots going back to the early 18th century. His father, a leading merchant is currently the Bürgermeister of Douma and has been a member of the city council, the Stadtverwaltung for around 20 years.

Like the first three, these are also from the North Star Steampunk range and will serve as other things than just Syldavian agents. I will use them as Scotland Yard detectives and anywhere else where I need some chaps in plainclothes. I will use them for games of  In Her Majesty's Name and pulp and Cthulhu Mythos games.

Sunday, 31 May 2020

The first of the Syldavian Secret Police

In a previous post, I talked about the Syldavian Security and Intelligence Service, officially the Varnosti Policija but popularly called the Vohunska i.e. "the Spies". Here is the start of my company of Vohunska agents and their uniformed assistants in the Königliche Gendarmerie.

Represented here is a senior agent of the Vohunska, Inspektor Eugen Jaegermann flanked by two of his agents. The Inspektor is a feared figure amongst the Syldavian Underworld, both with normal criminals who remember him from his days as a detective in the Königliche Gendarmerie and also with subversives in anarchist and other political groups. He is hated by the Bordurian Informat, who have put a price on his head because of his work exposing and eliminating clandestine operatives and saboteurs in Bordurian emigré communities. Jaegermann comes from the city of Travunje, south of the capital, Klow and joined the Gendarmerie after his mandatory period of conscription in the Syldavian Army. He is known for his blunt manner and his ability to get results where others have failed.

Vohunska agents work in plainclothes and officially they are part of the Syldavian Ministry of Justice, unlike the Gendarmerie who are part of the Army. They have a wide-ranging brief, which encompasses internal security and intelligence-gathering, as well as operating as intelligence agents in other countries. They may also, under certain circumstances work with the Gendarmerie's Bureau of Investigations, the Untersuchungsbüro. 

In many operations, the Vohunska will call upon support from the uniformed Gendarmerie when extra manpower is required.

These figures are from the North Star Steampunk range and will serve as other things than just Syldavian agents. I will use them as Scotland Yard detectives and anywhere else where I need some chaps in plainclothes. I will use them for games of  In Her Majesty's Name and pulp and Cthulhu Mythos games.

n.b. Eugen Jaegermann is a sort of Germanised version of Gene Hunt from the TV series "Life On Mars"

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

And now, I really have run out of Bordurians ..............

.......... well, for the moment, at least. These are my final four Bordurian clandestine agents, dressed as ordinary dock or factory workers.

Nothing new to add. Like the rest, they are Copplestone "Back of Beyond" Bolsheviks and I'll be using them for  In Her Majesty's Name and pulp games.

I've really enjoyed doing these. They are terrific sculpts and casts, lots of crisp detail and they take paint really well.

Now, on with the Syldavians!

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Almost the last of my Bordurian agents

So, I am coming to the end of my late-19th century Bordurian active service unit. As well as the assorted intelligence agents and military and security operative, any unit operating undercover in a foreign country will have agents and operatives working as agitators, agents provocateurs and saboteurs. These will often be drawn from the ranks of the Politzya Militar, as well as from the Sekuritat and will usually be living in working class areas and working in factories, ports or on the railways. Here are four clandestine typical operatives;

Living and working in the industrial areas of Syldavia, their main role is to spread revolutionary ideas amongst the workers of the Syldavian proletariat, create dissent and organise strikes. Their secondary role is as fighters as necessary to further the political ends of the Informat. They can also be found operating secretly in the forests and mountains along the Bordurian/Syldavian borders as smugglers and saboteurs.

They will be used for Pulp games as well as for  In Her Majesty's Name.

These are also figures from the  Copplestone "Back of Beyond" Bolshevik range. I have four more of these guys to finish and then I shall be starting on their Syldavian opponents. 

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Four members of the Bordurian Military Police

The Bordurian Army also has a security unit, one that is dedicated to rooting out counter-revolutionary activities among the troops, in both the officer corps and the rank and file. That unit is the Politzya Militar, the Military Police. Here are four members of this unit. First an officer and an NCO;

Next, two rankers (known as "specialists") from a military police company.

These figures are once again  Copplestone "Back of Beyond" Bolsheviks.

The uniform of the Politzya Militar is the same as that of the rest of the army and you will note that the army conscripts both male and female soldiers.

Each infantry, artillery and cavalry battalion has a company of the Politzya Militar attached to it. In addition each company, squadron or battery has a junior officer, an NCO and a section of 10 specialists imbedded.

At higher levels. i.e. Brigade or Division, there are additional units of the Politzya Militar, led by experienced senior officers. These higher level units also contain officers from both the Sekuritat and Informat.

In addition to the anti-subversion role of the Politzya Militar, they are also tasked with ensuring that correct revolutionary discipline is maintained by the regular officers and NCOs and  that infractions of military regulations are identified and punished. In combat, the PM has a political role, ensuring that orders are obeyed and that deserters are executed. 

Unlike the rest of the Army, whose ranks are filled with conscripts who serve a five year active term, followed by a further 20 years as reservists, the PM is made up of volunteers. Anyone who has served at least six months as a conscript may volunteer for the selection process, which consists of a rigorous political screening as well as physical and aptitude testing. Anyone who passes this process joins the PM for a minimum of 10 years, starting at the rank of Junior Specialist. In practice, PM officers identify possible recruits early on and after the appropriate period suggest that putting themselves forward might be a good idea. The officer cadre of the PM is around 50% seconded from the Sekuritat and Informat for a period of two years and 50% promoted from the ranks. All NCOs are promoted from within.

As an aside, all Bordurian army officer cadets, since the end of the revolutionary wars have been selected from the most able conscripts within their first year and sent off for assessment. Therefore, it is generally considered to be more prestigious to be identified for the PM than it is to be chosen as an officer cadet.

Trusted PM officers, NCOs and specialists are often seconded to serve alongside Informat and Sekuritat agents in active service units. This is considered a great honour for those involved and is often a stepping stone to joining the ranks of the Second and Third Directorates. Veterans of the PM who have completed their  mandatory minimum 10 years service may opt to leave the PM and apply to become Political Commissars of the Watch, the local militia-based police whose patrol units are found all over the country.

As with the rest of my figures, these are intended for In Her Majesty's Name and Pulp games.