A 19th-Century Wargames Imagi-Nation: The World of Pelia

World of Pelia wargames imagi-nation
Click to enlarge.

Inspired by a raft of semi-recent posts about creating 19th-century imagi-nations for wargaming, including from Man of Tin, Archduke Piccolo, Scott Larson, and Tony Adams, not to mention Ross Macfarlane’s Atlantica setting, I decided to publish some of the world-building work I’ve been doing for my own wargames world.

If you’ve read either of my previous battle reports (Skirmish at Tun Creek or Battle of the Sisters) you’ll have seen some of my “imagi-world” already, and the map above will be somewhat familiar.

World-building for me is fun and an end in itself, and so I find it’s easy to get carried away with writing up and inventing detailed histories, peoples, and geographies. But it’s important to me that the toy battles I fight have some meaning beyond just the ephemeral moments they occupy on the tabletop, so the world-building aspect of the hobby is necessary for me. Even for one-off battles I’ll usually invent some imagined pretext for the fighting and some wider, fictional, historical context to give the battle itself some emotional heft.

In fact, just such an occurrence is what led to the creation of my present “imagi-world.”

We had temporarily moved into a smaller place, with the result that I had to choose a fraction of my toy soldier collection to accompany me for a few months while the rest went into storage along with our furniture and (far too many) books.

The armies I selected were such a mish-mash of 19th-century troops (mainly 54mm Armies in Plastic) that no historical battle could reasonably be fought between them so I fell back, quite happily, to inventing some imaginary nations for my little battalions to belong to, which then required some casus belli so I they could get stuck in.

first northern compact war
Those shotgun shells are city barricades and that ribbon counts as a road…I was obviously making do with what materials I had...

The First Northern Compact War was the result, and I fought three enjoyable games in a linked solo campaign (using a map hastily made on Inkarnate) on the apartment floor before we finally moved into a place big enough for me to be reunited with the rest of my forces.

But the nations I made for that little campaign, the Empire of Caleria and the Northern Reaches Compact (consisting of the Mura Divinity and the Aelic Confederacy) and the little backstories and characters (the hotheaded Crown Prince Calen, the honorable High Murama Ch’indell, and the unlucky General Saleri) stuck in my mind. I kept returning to them mainly because of the questions I still had after I finished the campaign:

  • What type of world did they inhabit?
  • Who were the other major peoples and nations that had shaped their political situation?
  • What did the rest of the planet look like?
  • What would happen next?

And it was with these unfinished questions that I finally sat down and started building out the rest of the world from around the kernel that was Caleria and the Northern Reaches.

Tools and Inspirations

Like any good world-builder, I started first with a map.

oh i do love maps
“I have quite a collection.”

My first map, as I mentioned, was a quick one thrown together on a mapping tool called Inkarnate, and it showed just the border area between the Empire of Caleria and the Northern Reaches Compact.

the northern reaches of atelia in pelia
The numbers show the hex-positions of different opposing armies.

This was a nice start, but to expand it into a whole world I needed a tool with a bit more capability, so I started playing around with a free, browser-based tool called Azgaar’s Fantasy Map Generator.

This free tool can auto-generate a whole world for you, complete with political borders, country names, cultures, languages, geographic features, cities, roads, weather patterns, military units, population, trade routes, major historical events…the list goes on.

But you can also take control of all those things yourself and build a world exactly how you want to, so that’s what I did, and the result is the map you saw at the beginning of the post.

Now, to populate the map with countries and peoples, I took inspiration from a number of sources. Primarily history (though “twisted” a little so it doesn’t quite resemble its inspiration, like a Viking British empire) but also fiction, especially seminal steampunk works like Miyazaki’s movies Howl’s Moving Castle, Castle in the Sky, and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

wargames imagi-nation

I love the bright, steampunk aesthetic of those movies and wanted to imagine nations and armies similarly depicted.

steampunk imagi-nation
steampunk wargame
alternate history wargame
steampunk soldiers

Another big inspiration was Archduke Piccolo’s Jono’s World with its “not quite our world” feel (despite being more dieselpunk than steampunk), and Ross Macfarlane’s cozy Atlantica setting.

Of course I then took things much too far and, over the resulting months, built up over 10,000 words of setting background including brief histories of every major country, key figures and elite military units, a timeline of major wars in the last 200 years, plus the two battle reports appearing previously on this blog.

I also wrote out some of the foundational, physical facts about the world which I realized I would need later, as well as a little intro, which, without further rambling, I present below.

The World of Pelia

World of Pelia
Click for make big.

Pelia has three major continents, Esk and Toria in the east, and Atelia (or, “the third/new continent”) to the west. Esk and Toria encircle the Corican Sea, named for the ancient empire that dominated its shores on both continents. Esk and Toria’s proximity has meant the two land masses have been connected by trade, migration, and war ever since ancient times, but Atelia was only discovered in 714 A.C. by the Berengian explorer Warpriest Emmanu Atel, leading an expedition financed by the court of Princip Navrie Orskuv of Alekser.

Atelia, separated from the other two continents by the vastnesses of the Tyrannic Ocean to its east, and the Penitent Ocean to its west, developed largely in isolation. It is believed the native inhabitants are descendants of lost mariners and traders from a semi-mythical seagoing empire on Toria that predated even the Coricans.

Major Pelian Religions

Pelian religions
  • Curanism: Polytheistic descendant of the state religion of the Corican Empire. Five main gods representing the cardinal directions plus two-faced death, and a host of minor deities called Curaes.
  • Militant Curanism: Devoted to spreading the faith through force. Elevates War from a Curae to a sixth major god.
  • Reformed Curanism: Less strict/all-encompassing version. Emphasizes individual path to paradise not reliant on hierarchical ritual.
  • Archaist Curanism: Claims to be true Curanism as it still retains all the ancient rituals and language of the Corican empire. Highly based on ceremony and pomp.
  • Nistem: Monotheistic descendant of prehistoric Torian religion. Worship of the earth god.
  • Divinism: Nontheistic worship of balance and the inherent human divine.
  • Harmonic Divinism: Highly ritualized Divinism, focused on hierarchies of divine spiritmen within an institutionalized and permanent church.
  • Tecanism: Polytheistic worship of animal spirits.
  • Shamanic Tecanism: Entering altered states to interact with the spirit world. Shamans interpret spiritual signs for others.

Dates and Time in Pelia

Pelia orbits its sun in a little more than 360 and a quarter days. The Pelian year is divided into 12 months, each of 30 days save the final month of the year which, every fourth year, has 31 to account for the orbital irregularity. The names of each month, roughly translated from ancient Corican, simply mean “the first month,” “the second month” and so on, as one might expect from such an eminently practical people as those who built and maintained the Corican Empire.

Pelian months:

  • Primar
  • Segumar
  • Termar
  • Quermar
  • Quimar
  • Seaxmar
  • Sepmar
  • Ocmar
  • Nunmar
  • Decmar
  • Pridecmar
  • Segdecmar

Years on Pelia are measured in B.E. (Bereg Empore, meaning “Rule of the Empire”) and A.C. (Arre Curae, meaning, “Year of the Curae,” but which is often expressed colloquially as, “After Corica,” since the fall of the ancient Corican Empire so closely matches the change in dating systems). While years in B.E. count backwards to 1 B.E., years in A.C. count forwards from 1 A.C. There is no year “0” between the adoption of the two dating systems.

Pelian Cosmology

Pelia orbits a young yellow star, and Pelian astrologists have identified at least seven other heavenly bodies that also orbit the sun, with some recent telescopists claiming as many as fifteen.

pelian moon vordis

A single moon, named Vordis for its singular green color, orbits Pelia itself. Some naturalists originally claimed the color of the moon was evidence of plant life, but recent observation by ever more powerful telescopes has shown instead it is likely a gas which covers the whole surface of the little planetoid.

Next time: An overview of some of the major nations on Pelia in the year 897 A.C.

Plus flags!

Published in: on October 5, 2020 at 7:00 am  Comments (12)  
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12 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Thanks for the mention in your blog – I like the troops on the carpet with improvised terrain. Very H.G. Wells!

    Your world building is far more developed than mine. Interesting map including the curious face shape of the right hand continent.

    I enjoyed the manga screenshots, interesting uniforms, I have not seen these movies in full. They remind me a little of the Mortal Engines trilogy of books (not seen the film version yet).

    • Thanks! Haha I’ve since graduated to a little better-looking terrain…

      And yes, I really enjoy the Miyazaki movies because of the steampunk influence. There seems to be a fair amount of it in anime compared to western media.

      • Great stuff with some lovely detail Aducknamedjoe , I am now following by email and I am looking forward to future posts.
        BTW you have a link to my blog Pauly Waulys Other Wargames but the address got nicked by some Indonesians. Can I give you a link to the new address https://paulsotherwargames.blogspot.com/ ,you may also like my 18th imaginations blog… https://paulywaulyswargamesblog.blogspot.com/ which confusingly now has some 19th toy soldiers as the latest posts.

        • Paul, thanks for the heads up! Just updated the link and sorry to hear about the old site being nicked. Hope you were able to save the content from it at least?

          I’ll check out your other site as well.

  2. Hi –
    I enjoyed this posting – most entertaining and full of ideas. You certainly go in for a deal more background and character development than I have tended to do!

    Thanks for kind remarks in respect of ‘Jono’s World’ and my 19th century campaigns.
    Cheers, Ion (Archduke Piccolo)

    • Thanks Ion! I’ve really enjoyed following your imagi-nations content on your blog. And yes, I probably go a bit overboard with the background, but I enjoy it at least…

  3. Hi. I like your approach to imagi nations. I too very much enjoy world building. I have wondered if I had gone too far in scene setting and in the creation of a history but you have gone even further and I like it. Clearly the battles and wars are important but it is good to have a context. I look forward to future chapters. My imagi nations are at “woodscrewminiaturearmy” blog. Regards Tony

    • Thanks Tony! Your series of posts was one of my inspirations to publish this actually. I think we have similar approaches to world-building.

  4. Followed over from MeWe and finally found a moment to read this. I regret not reading it sooner! 😉

    The Miyazaki reference shots are well done and a good choice. I like the quietly optimistic world his movies seem to share with the greatest villains being governments or those looking to establish their own.

    I eagerly look forward to the next installment, especially the promised flags.


    • Thanks Patrick! I agree very much about the optimism in Miyazaki and am working on those flags…

  5. […] one (long) blog post on my wargaming blog detailing the (really nerdy) history of my “imagi-world” where most of my wargame battles take […]

  6. […] my previous post introducing my wargame “imagi-world” of Pelia I covered the high-level information about the world, including the inspirations and tools […]

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