Armies for F/SF Gamers
1. The Malacia Militia
by D F Stuckey
One of the prime critiques that "serious" wargamers have against any SF or fantasy army is the lack of research behind them. Personally I back up all of my futuristic forces with a file of clippings and xeroxes of articles on the weapons and systems under development that feature in my armies. Often though this is too long winded and doesn't give a quick overview.
Also, as a few of my personal favourite fighting forces have been overlooked, judging from Ragnarok articles. So, both to give the historicals a quick rundown and to stir up some interest I present a series of verifiable SF and fantasy armed forces.
SOURCE: Malacia Tapestry by Brian Aldiss
Malacia the Unchanging is a large provincial area in the north of Italy, much like other Renaissance city-states or principalities of the age (historians point out no political system up till now theorised was not first thought out and tried in 16th century Italy.), with several minor exceptions:
Firstly, Malacia and its people are under a magical impetus to remain socially and scientifically static until the end of Time, placed by the founders of the city. This is seen variously as a blessing or a curse depending upon the mood of the citizens, but all abide by it to a general degree.
Secondly, the level of Malacian science includes hot air balloons, primitive photography and extensive use of steam power, as well as more usual 16th century devices. However, the rulers of Malacia, a council of nobility similar to the Venetian Doges restricts such developments to such uses as may not disturb the fabric of society eg. the use of photography is being restricted as the inventor planned to use pictures of the poor as part of a revolution inspiring broadsheet in social injustice.
Third and most surprising. Malacia's extensive farmlands and estates are the homes of the "Ancestral Animals", basically Late Cretaceous period dinosaurs, such as Triceratops, Ornithomimus, Allosaurus and small Pterosaurs. (Allosaurs were Jurassic and by the late Cretaceous only the large pterosaurs were still extant - the webmaster shows off his dinosaur geekdom) Philosophers of Malacia claim that these Ancestrals' are the last of the original inhabitants of Earth before the corruption that brought mammals into being. Malacia's population, while human in appearance are thus, they claim, a saurian species that closely parallels humankind in physical form, even down to hair and mammary glands (a sound biological possibility, if a little far fetched). Although declining in numbers, especially the larger species, the dinosaurs are used as hunting prey, beasts of burden and as decorous parade animals, while apelike species are used as a low class servant in some areas.
Thus Malacia stands alone in the world in the world. Even its religions; both Deism and Magic appear in harmony in this unique society.
As with most such states of the period, the standing army was minimal and consist of men from the bodyguard of a noble house, backed up by mercenaries hired for times of conflict. During the period of time the novel covers, the Turkish army is not far from the border of Malacia, and mercenaries from Verona are arriving to back up the forces of the city. No fighting takes place within sight of the city as the Turks are put to flight by a large decorated hot air balloon carrying a mounted man and a warhorse of some size and mercenary cavalry pursue the Turkish forces into the East.
A typical militiaman of Malacia would be armed as most of the soldiers of the period - pike, halberd, sword and possibly a matchlock pistol; with the usual noble, armoured and mounted on either a horse or an "Ancestral". These latter could very probably be used as terror weapons against strongly cavalry armies and are well worth considering. Artillery was not mentioned, but Malacian science is certainly advanced enough for gunpowder and cannon, and these could be even more accurate than their rivals, given the advanced state of Malacian technology in many fields. As for uniforms, highly decorative and colourful items would be the norm in this age and for the decadent and artistic Malacian character.
6mm: there are Renaissance figures in this scale from Heroics & Ros and Irregular Miniatures that would be entirely suitable. The latter make some useful dinosaurs although following the book accurately would exclude several of this range, since not all the dinosaurs are Late Cretaceous types.
15mm: a large variety of figures are available in this scale, notably Redoubt Enterprises and Irregular once again. Dinosaurs are available from a variety of companies; Iron Brigade Miniatures, Tabletop Miniatures and Irregular come immediately to mind.
25mm: more common Renaissance figures in this scale from most companies, if you really want stand out figures then Citadel's Brettonians are very useful indeed. A lack of dinosaurs can be remedied by using the plastic and resin display miniatures available from the Natural History Museum or Carnegie Institute, usually found in children's bookstores or larger toyshops.
Ed Note: Brian Aldiss' Malacia Tapestry is currently out of print in the UK (along with much of Aldiss' work). For gamers interested in the idea of humans using dinosaurs as mounts etc, James Gurney's Dinotopia (published by Doling Kindersley) and its sequel The World Beneath are well worth looking at, both crammed full of superb colour artwork and excellent ideas.
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