19th-Century Wargames Imagi-Nation: The Nations of Pelia, Part 1

World of Pelia
Click to enlarge.

In my previous post introducing my wargame “imagi-world” of Pelia I covered the high-level information about the world, including the inspirations and tools I used to build it, introduced its three major continents, and shared a little about its religions, dating system, and cosmology.

In this post I’ll delve a little deeper into some specific nations including their histories, important personalities, unique military units, and flags!

A note on how I made the flags:

I used the free Flag Maker Jr. tool on Github for the majority of my Pelian flags, but since it only allows you to export files as .SVG files and has limited symbols for the flags themselves, I then also used Vectr (again free online) plus some free symbols from the Noun Project to modify my flags and to save them as .PNG files. I’ve also heard the free Tennessine flag maker is pretty good but it seemed more limited than the Flag Maker Jr. tool so I didn’t use it.

Below are the six major nations of the continent of Esk, plus Caleria which, though located on the Atelian continent, made sense to group with Alekser, as you will see.

The Alekserian Principate

alekser wargame imaginations map
Click to make bigger.
  • Toy soldier type: Green and light green Armies in Plastic Russians
  • Religion: Archaist Curanism
  • Government type: Absolute monarchy
  • Culture: honor bound, militarist, communal
  • Important personalities: Princip Eksiv Orgun, his sister Amay Orgun, Lord Admiral Toraeiv Dudreny, Calerian fifth columnist/revolutionary Solen Seleri (son of famous Calerian General Aman Seleri and childhood friend of Calerian Crown Prince Alandrus Calen)
  • Notable Units: Karruk light cavalry (tribesmen from the mountainous regions to the west)
  • Flag: Dark green and white with a golden scepter and golden stars
imagi nations flag alekser

The biggest nation on Pelia by landmass, Alekser also boasts a large and diverse population and army. Though also being the northernmost country on the planet, much of the Principate’s landmass is frozen and unarable ground, and so the major cities and farmlands are located almost exclusively in the warmer south of the country.

imagination wargame toy soldiers 1/32
Alekserian regulars, plus provincial militia in the old, lighter-colored uniforms.

The Principate is ruled by Princip Eksiv Orgun of the Orgul Dynasty, whose family claimed the throne in 803 A.C after driving the Cal Dynasty out of the country during the War of the Alekserian Succession. Unfortunately that war, with the loss of the wealthy Alekser colony on Atelia to forces led by the exiled Cal Dynasty, plus a series of internal rebellions encouraged by Calerian agents over the last 80 years, and a disastrous war with Proth that cost the Principate the Tun River Valley and its sphere of influence in Pelis, has severely weakened the once-great empire. Only an informal alliance with the mercurial Veltish has stopped even further Prothan belligerence, and with the failure of their third colony attempt in the Atelian Fire Archipelago, the Alekser Principate is desperate to find new revenue sources and regain their lost prestige.

The Calerian Empire

war game imagi nation map caleria
Click to biggify
  • Toy soldier type: White and red Armies in Plastic Russians
  • Religion: Curanism, Archaist Curanism
  • Government type: Absolute monarchy
  • Culture: honor bound, militarist, independent (or industrious?)
  • Important personalities: Crown Prince Alandrus Calen, his younger brother (still a boy, maybe captured and used as pawn in southern nobles’ rebellion) Milus Calen, General Aman Seleri (brilliant tactician behind the defeats of the sugar slave rebellions and the subjugation of the northern Berbin tribes, killed while taking the Mura city of Nidel with Crown Prince Calen), Emperor Intolus Calen, Noble Cavalier Mikriv Calus (will be leader of rebelling nobility when Alandrus takes the throne and outlaws slavery/institutes reforms)
  • Notable units: The Crimson Guard (elite units designated as personal guards of the imperial family members), The Crown Prince’s Own (Alandrus Calen’s own unit of Crimson Guard, fiercely loyal to the young prince)
  • Flag: White with crossed crimson swords in the center among a circular crimson crown/Corona triumphalis
imaginary flag Caleria

After the Alekser-funded discovery of the Atelian continent in 714 A.C., Princip Navrie Orskuv wasted no time in establishing several colonies up-and-down the Atelian coast, from the New Aleks peninsula in the north, to First Landing Island in the east, and all the way down to the Orsk River in the south.

Over the next hundred years the colonies grew and prospered, conquering and enslaving several native Zutuk tribes and driving Berbin horsemasters from their eastern grazing lands before coming up against the High Divine Mountains to the west, and the growing Veltish, Proth, and Berengian colonies to the north and south.

fantasy 19th century wargame
Calerian regulars and Crimson Guard troops.

The colonial nobility consisted mostly of impoverished smallholders from the rugged and inhospitable western Alekserian mountains who had emigrated to the new continent en masse to better their station and improve their prospects. Many grew incredibly wealthy with vast colonial landholdings and slave sugar plantations. In 797 A.C., when the ruling Cal Dynasty, themselves tracing their ancestry from the same western provinces of the Principate, and enjoying their highest support there and in the capital, found their reign challenged by the Orgul family after failing to recognize the legitimacy of a son produced by a marriage between the two families and instead elevating a minor cousin to the throne, the colonial nobles provided vast sums and conscript regiments for the Royalist armies. When this proved insufficient to hold back the tide of Orgul peasant levies in the home country, the colonies provided a safe haven for the fleeing royal family. Orgul sympathizer militias in the colonies were quickly stamped out by the reorganized Cal government-in-exile, but when a re-invasion of the home country failed spectacularly, the remaining Cal royal family instead declared the foundation of the Calerian Empire, officially making the colonies independent from Alekser. The Orgul Dynasty, exhausted by six years of constant warfare, was in no position to reconquer the rebellious colony, and a state of cold war has existed between the two countries ever since, with agents provocateur and fifth columnists active in each, attempting to bring down the ruling dynasty of the other.

In the almost one hundred years since the War of the Alekserian Succession, the Calerian empire has maintained its iron grip on the Atelian lands under its rule, putting down several slave revolts in the southern sugar plantations, winning a short war against the Zutuk Confederacy, and pacifying the northern Berbin tribes while expanding Calerian dominion in the north all the way to the Berbin slave trading city of Nadrar.  It only recently suffered a major military setback when an invasion of the two nations of the Northern Reaches, led by the famous Calerian General Aman Seleri, and the emperor’s heir, Crown Prince Alandrus Calen, ended with the death of General Seleri in battle, the capture and ransom of the Crown Prince, and the rout and destruction of the imperial army.

Prince Alandrus, after spending several months as the prisoner of the Mura and the Aelic during negotiations for his ransom, has now returned to the imperial capital of Calerlad, where he has been grappling with many of the ideas and curious notions he learned from his captors, (one of whom, the beautiful daughter of an Aelic general, may have been the most influential in his education…) particularly their intense distaste for the institution of slavery.

The Kingdom of Veltland

imaginary wargame map veltland
Clicky to biggy
  • Toy soldier type: Red A Call to Arms British and light tan Armies in Plastic Indians (as Chal Auxiliaries)
  • Religion: Reformed Curanism
  • Government type: Constitutional monarchy
  • Culture: Honor-bound, industrious, law-abiding
  • Important personalities: General Jor “Rezzelian” Orstuth (the famous general who halted the Dunster invasion of Rezzel, and ended the slave trade in northern Tolia), First Lord Elrakh Riftborn (the leader of the government, elected by the Almoot, and ‘first lord’ to the King), King Oder Werhem, Lord Captain Aler Sirsgard (Veltish Commander of the 33rd Chal Rifles, saved the king and queen of Pelis from an insurrectionary mob at great risk to himself), Captain Stur Asquith (Commander of the Veltish Marine detachment nicknamed “Asquith’s Devils,” distinguished himself leading the defense of the ridgeline at the Battle of the Sisters during the 1st War of Markic Unification)
  • Notable Units: Asquith’s Devils (marine), 33rd Chal Rifles (expeditionary)
  • Flag: Bright red, light blue, gray diagonal cross, jewel and oathring in center
imagination wargame flag veltland

Lying, as it does, at the western mouth of the Corican Sea, the island of Veltland has always held a key strategic position for controlling trade and movement between the nations of the Esk and Tolian continents. The large island with its rich timber forests and other natural resources was an important military settlement even during the days of the Corican Empire, and during the centuries of anarchy following the ancient empire’s fall the Velts became feared raiders and pirates all along the coasts of the inland sea.

Over the last two hundred years the Kingdom has built up a rich maritime empire, colonizing, conquering, or annexing large swaths of land on all three continents. While independence movements in Dunsterland and the Aelic Confederacy resulted in the loss of Veltish control of those territories, Veltish Chal (“The greatest jewel in the Kingdom’s Oathring”), on the eastern mouth of the Corican sea, and New Veltland, in Atelia, still remain wholly in the Kingdom’s possession. And of course the Rezzel Federation’s dependency on the Veltish government for funds, arms, and even generals to resist Dunster aggression makes them little more than a Veltish puppet government, while the League of Ormand’s similar desperation gives the Kingdom an outsize control in Markand as well.

marines army men wargame
Veltish marines plus Chal auxiliaries.

Veltland has been involved, either visibly or behind-the-scenes, in almost every war and diplomatic incident on Esk and Toria in recent times. When the kingdom of Pelis descended into bloody civil war, it was Veltish Chal Auxiliaries who fired into the mob and saved the king and queen from execution, and when the king of Torend invaded the Markand Peninsula, Veltish marines were among the first troops rushed to oppose their landing by the flamboyant Markic mercenary general, Arco de Garilo.

Veltish explorers and merchants have been crucial to opening up relations with the Jhenn, and Velt expeditions have even ventured far to the frozen poles of the north and south in search of further trading opportunities.

The Proth Empire

imagi-nation wargame campaign map proth
  • Toy soldier type: Blue Armies in Plastic Prussians
  • Religion: Reformed Curanism, Curanism
  • Government type: Absolute monarchy
  • Culture: Militarist, law-abiding, industrious
  • Important personalities: Emperor Riks Udeke, Admiral Storn Wellir, Princess Evia Udeke, Mekanan Wulls Ridekker (young engineer/inventor, thinks the guild system archaic and stifling, tolerated by the establishment for his genius)
  • Notable Units:
  • Flag: Dark blue with white shield and black gear
imagi-nation wargame campaign flag proth

A growing industrial power with pretensions to imperium, Proth has only recently begun to challenge Veltish control over the Corican Sea. With wealth from the vast gold deposits of Emperor Udeke’s new Atelian colony overseas, Prothan ambitions have magnified. The construction of a great steam-powered warfleet, financed by this gold and other recent conquests, has catapulted Proth into the position of a pre-eminent global power.

But it wasn’t until a stunning defeat of Principate forces during the Alekso-Prothan War of 895-896 A.C. that other countries, Veltland and Berengia in particular, started to see Proth as a very real threat. Proth’s not-so-secret support of Torend and the Noble Alliance has put it in direct opposition to Veltland in the current Markic war, and represents one of the most direct challenges to Veltish hegemony in almost a hundred years.

empire wargames 54mm toy soldiers
Prothan regulars.

Proth has also long been home to a culture of skilled artisans, whose guilds have gained power as the nation industrialized and their mechanical inventions became crucial to Prothan economic growth and military power. Even today Prothan Mekanan, like the brilliant young Wulls Ridekker, experiment with new machines for waging war, including steam-powered, armored landships, and new types of artillery and small arms.

The Holy Berengian Kingdom

wargame map berengia
  • Toy soldier type: Armies in Plastic French foreign legion
  • Religion: Militant Curanism
  • Government type: Theocracy
  • Culture: Militarist, fanatical, honor-bound
  • Important personalities: Arch Curae Valjan Retiri (absolute ruler and leader of the church, literally a minor deity according to the Kingdom’s laws), Warpriest Irian Emel, Heresor Usori Malierd (a young, zealous church agent in charge of hunting down and bringing to justice enemies of the state and those accused of heresy, a “heresy hunter” in popular parlance)
  • Notable units: The Berengian Legion (composed mainly of foreign volunteers, used for dirty work the holy regular army cannot/will not do)
  • Flag: Light blue with a golden lion in the center
wargame flag berengia

The ancient seat of the Corican Empire and its rich and powerful capital, Holy Berengia is ruled by the leader of the Militant Curanist Church, Arch Curae Valjan Retiri, who his people consider an embodiment of an actual god. Viewing it as their sacred mission to spread Curanism across the entire face of Pelia, the Berengians have waged several holy wars in the nine centuries since the fall of the Corican Empire and the six since the formal establishment of the Militant Church sect. In the 730s A.C. they became involved in the 20 Years—or “Pelist Intervention”—War (and were defeated by the Alekserians), and several wars with Veltland in the early 800s led to a permanent partition of Free Chal between Berengian and Veltish spheres of influence.

Legion imagi nation wargame soldiers
Berengian Legion and naval troops.

Their relative impoverishment in the last century, however, has significantly curbed their outward ambitions. The collapse of the price of gold due to Prothan imports from the New Continent, and the expense of maintaining Berengia’s own colony in Atelia, especially with an ongoing war against the Velt-funded Zutuk Confederacy, has drained the Church’s coffers. Many now see Holy Berengia as a paper lion, outwardly as strong and powerful as before, but in actuality a shadow of its former vigor.

The Kingdom of Pelis

imagination map pelis
  • Toy soldier type: Blue Armies in Plastic British pith, Blue Airfix and A Call to Arms Napoleonic
  • Religion: Curanism, Reformed Curanism, Archaist Curanism, Militant Curanism
  • Government type: Constitutional monarchy
  • Culture: Rebellious, fanatical, tribal
  • Important personalities: King Nazy Wiszeck, Queen Cateri Wiszeck, Jorgin Onin (an exiled Prothan and the infamous leader of the Black Fist revolutionaries), Han Szycek (the famous Pelisti patriot, leader of the liberal republican movement)
  • Notable Units:
  • Flag: Blue and white with a black eagle
imaginary flag pelis

Caught between Alekser, Proth, and Berengia, and with few natural defensive features, the Kingdom of Pelis has been conquered, reconquered, subdivided, and reconstituted as a buffer state for most of the last two centuries. Its military is weak, and its government—beset by aggressive imperial powers outside the borders and rebellious zealots within them—even weaker. It’s been dubbed “The sick man of Esk” by the other great powers and, despite its imperial pretensions, Pelis is, in fact, a basket case.

The weak central government has allowed Pelis to become a hotbed for clandestine espionage activity and radical political movements. In the capital city of Wors, Calerian agents plotting the downfall of Alekser rub shoulders with Berengian heresy hunters, Pelisti religious fanatics, and Prothan Black Fist revolutionaries. 

imagi nation toy soldiers
Pelisti Palace Guard.

Adding to its woes is the kingdom’s religious divisions, with every manner and sect of Curanism represented, often fanatically, within its borders. The civil war of 894 A.C. was a direct result of these divisions, as a visit by the royal family, themselves Reformed Curanists, to the eastern city of Pelcez, the regional capital of a heavily Militant Curanist district, touched off riots that led to full scale armed revolt when the King failed to genuflect deeply enough to a statue of the Curae of War. When their royal guard deserted them in the face of the angry mob, the King and Queen were only saved from death by the timely intervention of a Veltish Captain, heading up a nearby troop of Chal auxiliaries as an honor guard for a visiting diplomat.

The Free Chalate Kingdoms

wargames imagi-nation map free chal
Make to click big
  • Toy soldier type: Dark khaki Armies in Plastic Indians
  • Religion: Nistem, Curanism
  • Government type: Multiple absolute monarchies
  • Culture: Law-abiding, communal, honor-bound
  • Important personalities: Captain Indar Rehatme (young cavalry officer, served in the Veltish army for two years before returning to his home country, Poreb, in Free Chal, where he now serves the reigning Chal as trusted military advisor, fierce Chalish patriot and dreams of one day uniting all the kingdoms of Chal, very interested in the application of new airship technology out of Markand to warmaking)
  • Notable Units:
  • Flag: Red, khaki, blue
free chal war game flag

Populated, along with Veltish Chal, by Tolians migrating through modern-day Rezzel and fleeing the Croftish hordes after the downfall of the Corican Empire, Free Chal is “Free” in name only. Divided into Berengian and Veltish zones of influence, the minor princes and Chals of the region have little real authority. Money and diplomatic meddling by the two great powers is directed at keeping the small kingdoms fighting amongst each other and preventing any one from becoming strong enough to challenge their de-facto colonial rulers.

19th century toy soldiers
Free Chalish regulars.

Recently, both Prothan and Alekserian agents have been discovered seeking to foment revolt and discontent amongst the Chals: the Alekserians to hurt their enemy the Berengians, and the Prothans to do the same to Veltland. Though this is concerning, neither the Almoot nor the Arch Curae have any real fear of anyone being able to unite the squabbling Chal kingdoms to throw them out of the country. But they haven’t heard of Indar Rehatme yet.

More to come

Part Two exploring the countries of my wargames imagi-nation/world of Pelia will cover the peoples of the southern Torian continent, including authoritarian Dunsterland, declining Elessa, and the many squabbling republics of the Markand Peninsula.

And in the meantime I may have one or two posts on one of my many side projects including my resin 3D printer for wargaming and a set of homebrew fantasy wargame rules I’ve been working on…

Published in: on December 20, 2021 at 9:00 am  Comments (6)  
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6 Comments Leave a comment

  1. That is a thorough background. Will you paint the figures?

    • Thank you! And maybe but likely not (though I am planning on printing out some of the flags and converting some standard bearers for them).

  2. A very interesting and extensive background to your imagi-nations. They should serve you well for years to come.

    All the best,


    • Thanks Bob! I’m enjoying the process of creating them for sure.

  3. This looks like a mighty project! I’ll be avidly following the future history of Pelia’s struggles and wars…

    • Thanks Ion! I’ve been following General Jackson’s travails closely myself…

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