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  • #36965
    Otto Schmidt
    Participant

    Campaign Report
    This is the report of the Narrative Campaign as started yesterday.

    The War of the Bazoomian Succession.

    INTRODUCTION
    I shan’t be using a lot of purple prose in this Campaign report. It is more or less an analytical report of how the rules for Narrative Campaigning as I have written them worked and so that people can understand the concepts behind them. The game is designed to center on the table top battle, and NOT force players to play another game to play a game. It is all done in Imagi-Nations and these are the type of Imagi-Nations Ubercommando hates, being very heavy on humor, whimsy and burlesque and short on sententiousness and seriousness.

    The game principles are simple. The game is designed to use as little record keeping and paperwork as possible and to get to the table top battle as quick as we can and have fun. We like to play with toy soldiers and as these are why we are there we don’t want to mess around with boring paper work. We are also there to have fun and to laugh, joke, eat all sorts of foods that are not good for us, drink, and have a good time.

    The campaign does this by focusing on the players. Each Player is the king of a country. He makes the strategic choices and sets the strategic direction for his country. There are twelve countries and the ones that have players at their head are “active” and the rest are “inactive.” These inactive players are managed by the umpire, and Tin Plate Hitlers who think these are easy pickings get squished like a bug. Not by me of course, but because the players who show up at a game all get to play, even if nominal kings of other countries, such “neutrals” always get forces and defenses, commanded by players so they are no pushover. All countries have personalities, and these are used by me for the inactive players to determine their responses, and while an active player does not HAVE to behave as the sovereign personality dictates, (they can be prime ministers and or Generals) the personality of the sovereign of an active player can be used as a departure for role playing, and trying to schnorr an odd victory point here and there. This almost all of the players caught on to pretty quick.

    The day began when Norm and Debbie Thime arrived. After a bit of socializing with the gamers, Debbie and my wife Dorothy (not the witch’s Dorothy) soon disappeared, off to the garage sales, flea-markets, thrift stores and antique stores in he area,

    THE CAMPAIGN.

    The campaign began with four players present. These were Norm Thime, who chose the country of the “Neverneverlands.” If you must have a real-life counterpart to peg it to, it’s Holland, but a little more impressive. ” Billy Smith chose “Flounce” obviously France.” “George Deppner chose “Gulagia” (with it’s capital at “Gullagin’s Island” which is modeled on Russia. Mike Lorenzo chose Spam (Viva Espamia) which kind of says it all. Harrison Deppner was supposed to come also, but he has a new hobby, called girls and he was out with one. It’s a very expensive hobby as he is finding out, but as my mother used to say “Youth is wasted on the Young.”

    We had two late arrivals who were there for the table top game but missed the “initialization” process . Later after the game and a sumptuous dinner , they chose countries. Sean Thorne chose “Bad Zu Wurst” and Pete chose “Swinnland” More of this anon.

    Immediately upon this set up we began. The game runs very simply. There is no map, we assume everyone can get to everyone, the only example being “Hungland ” (England) which is an island power and can only be attacked by someone with a fleet. As Hungland was an inactive power, as no one chose it. Those powers with Fleets were Flounce, Spam, Sweeta, The Grand Duchy of Gorgonzola and “The Colonies.”There are no economics, and each player has six resources, an Army, four brigades, and one fortress. All countries have special advantages, and Gulagia has TWO armies, and Neverneverlands has 2 fortresses.

    The strategies open to players however are unlimited! A player may do whatever he wishes, all he has to do it get it past the umpire (me). These strategies are called “intentions” and you write them down on a piece of paper, a bit larger than business cards (I made mine from 5″by 8″ index cards cut in quarters. These intentions may be no more than 20 words long, be in a complete sentence, and specify the resources used, if any, and may have conditions in them, but not “conclusions.” For example, The Grand Duke of the Grand Duchy of Gorgonzola could use a “Condition” in his intention by writing “I will attack Newt Rogina (say he’s playing Ikea) if he attacks Gulagia. If he does then the player running the Grand Duke would force a battle. If the ruler of Ikea (modeled on the Ottomans) does not, then effectively The Grand Duke’s intention is invalidated and the “No intention” default is invoked. A “Conclusion” is out and out illegal. For example Hungalnd saying “I will defeat a Sweeta army, and annihilate it by pursuing it with a cavalry brigade.” The “defeat” means it’s a conclusion, which the Hungland player would first have to effect on the table top. You can’t conjure it up out of whole cloth.

    So the players set down to writing their intentions and they handed in the following. I take all of these and compare them and decide if a battle has taken place and what it’s nature will be. Those that do not involve attacks or possible battles I resolve by whim and die roll on the spot. If no battle takes place everyone fills out a second set of intentions and so it goes until either we get a battle, or we have five such intention rounds without said battle, at which time the campaign is over and we count Victory points. Flounce has as one of its special benefits, that of starting the game with FIVE victory points. If the game then ends he would win. Therefore other players have the goal of getting more points than he, or getting him to lose points by unwise strategies. These of course can be anything your leedle old heart desires (or your twisted brain can cook up) and so it goes.

    These were the intention. All were written in secret.

    Mike (Spam) King Sangria holds a party inviting all monarchs BUT Ikea to propose alliances and a crusade against Ikea, solidifying such alliances with marriages between his sons and their daughters.” This is following Mike’s sovereign’s personality, which is. “King Sangria is an officious busy body who is always involving himself in foreign schemes and entanglements because he wishes each of his sons to sit on a throne and be kings. He is always intriguing, trying to get them on thrones or make kingdoms for them. I decided that as he was acting in character (and you must act in the manner your monarch to try and get these non-battle points, had a chance and I gave him a roll. 1 or 2 and he would get 1 Victory point, anything else no. So he rolled and got a 2. So 1 VP to Mike. This is the origin of the name of the war, The War of the Bazoomian Succession. Bazoom is a province of Ikea that Mike might want to carve a kingdom for sonny boy out of.

    George (Gulagia) attempted to ally with Ikea and go on a personal trip to his capital to try and cheer him up , The sovereign of Gulagia is Empress Sophia, a perky, chipper, chubby dumpling who is as cheerful and positive as Shah Na-Na is negative and morose. She’s always baking cookies, knitting mittens, working on church socials, and every night reads happy stories to the children of some poor Moujik and tucking them in. She makes the Ghost of Christmas Past look like a party pooper. Shah Na-Na of Ikea is called the “Nattering Nabob of Negativism” and is a morose, despairing pessimist. He sets upon his courtiers, even his harem with his defeatist and sorrowing whining of self pity and complaint that even his harem and vizirs often go looking for the mutes with bowstrings to end their misery. Emblazoned on the standards of his troops (and they really are in my collection of his army .

    “And now the wise words of Shah Na-Na, the Nattering Nabob of Negativism whose wisdom is as precious pearls more valuable than the Prophet’s “It’s hopeless, whaddy gonna do when your goose is cooked!, you can’t fight city hall, you won’t have Dick Na Na to kick around anymore, They’ve even started making fun of my little dog Fallafle. I tell you they’re out to get me! There’s a vast right-wing conspiracy, what’s the point, your ungrateful kids will stick you in a nursing home anyway, I tried to kill myself one day by laying down on the train tracks, but I found out the railroad went out of business years ago. I tell you, you load sixteen tons and whaddya get? Life’s a bitch and then you marry one,. It doesn’t even pay me to turn the key in the palace door in the morning…

    So I gave George a chance, 1,2,3 and he would gain 1 VP and 4,5,6 and he would LOSE 1 for listening to this litany for days. He rolled a 5, so he now had -1 Victory point.

    Norm in the Neverneverlands gave me “Build up the defenses and the army for future campaigns into new territories. The character of the Monarch, King Charles, is that he is in constant battle with his parliament and the government is at a stand-still. Part of the problem is Charles monumental stupidity and Parliament’s monumental stubbornness, so nothing gets done. While not directly a bit of role playing I ruled he was trying to get around parliament so I gave him a chance of 1 or 2 and he would get an additional temporary brigade for his resources, anything else not, and he made a 1. A temporary brigade is one that can be used only once and then goes away.

    Finally Billy in Flounce wrote “Having heard of the natural beauties of Gluagia, King Leonardo takes his family, on a picnic. He backed up this with an army and a brigade, and so… there was a battle. Bill of course insisted throughout it was a picnic only and he meant no permanent aggrandisment. The character of Leonard XV is “He shuns pomp and circumstance, and delights in the quiet and contemplative life. He is largely peaceful, delighting in his family life and the occasional mistress. He’d much rather go on a picnic or a progression than take to the field. He goes about the palace avoiding his kingly duties disguised as a lackey, servant, chambermaid, or chamber pot.” So as I said no one was deceived with the Army and Brigade along.

    Now.. As Umpire I had to resolve these. Most of which I did by a die roll. However Billy’s caused a battle. But George (Gulagia) had a different intention, and so as defender, he had the opportunity to oppose bill with any resources he had. He could use ANY of his resources. In the event he chose to oppose Billy with an army and a brigade. HOWEVER, Gulagia’s special abilities is that he has TWO armies, and that he has a vast and undeveloped country and any person attacking him MUST have one fo the units in his army be a wagon brigade. This carries supplies and has five extra wagons, but not much on combat troops, getting only one elite regiment and one dragoon regiment to add to his army. George couldn’t use BOTH armies, you can have a maximum of one. George however could take a brigade that gave him more powerful table top units and he chose an artillery brigade which effectively doubled the guns he had. He, as the defender was able to also chose which side of the table he wanted to set up on, and he obviously chose the one with a bit more defensible terrain, though the terrain was mostly flat. I had set up a very neutral ground as I did not know what would happen on this first time out. It meant however that bill was overmatched, but being flat the flanks were open to turning movements and off the board movements which could be devastating. I will deal with this in the battle report which will come out in a few days.

    I have separated this campaign report from the Battle Report to prevent it becoming too vast. The battle is now known as The Battle of Picnikov. While it was a very near run thing in which Billy gave as good as he got and better against superior odds, Nevertheless he would up on the short end of the stick by the battlefield victory conditions and George got 1 victory point.

    AFTER THE BATTLE OF PICNICOV

    About the end of the battle the womenfolk came back and said “we ran out of money and had to come home!” and we were packing up the table top. After the battle, dinner was ready and we packed up the troops and terrain and we set down to a wonderful dinner of Lasagne, side plates of sweet and hot sausage with peppers, garlic bread, and a few bottles of good wine, where we in true 18th century style discussed the battle, the campaign, and old stories.

    Pete and Shaun, who had arrived after the initial start up session but in time for the battle now chose their countries.

    Pete chose Swinnland who has the advantages of defensive terrain, and when ATTACKED (but not attacking) can replace four hexes with rough and four with very rough terrain on any battlefield and can give a free revival to any OTHER power. (I will explain this in a moment. The personality of the monarch is ” Ruffino IV” is besotted with money and wealth. He is incredibly cheap. He squeezes a nickle so hard the Indian comes out the other side riding the buffalo. He has even been known to tax his mistress for the gifts she receives from him. He wants to build a money-bin to rival Scrooge McDuck.

    Shaun Thorne took the country of Bad Zu-Wurst” This has the advantage of superior troops, getting +1 to all values and Faustus himself is a military genius, giving additional benefits. Faustus the Grump as they call him, but his bette noir is his brother Humberto is also a military genius but they have an intense sibling rivalry and all of their military dispatches start out very military and civil and degenerate quickly to name calling and arguments as to who mother loved best.

    Having been brought into the game, ALL players (now 6) gave me their intentions. These were

    Billy of Flounce – “Place a papier-mache statue of me on the throne and go on holiday in Sweeta to find a new mistress.” (Oh what fun I shall have with THAT intention. )

    Mike of Spam- Art (flattering portraits) is composed for all crusade leaders. Castle upgraded to impressive measures for daughter offered to my son in marriage.” This intention shows some of the limitations of trying to cram too much into the intentions. I noted to Mike that it could be interpreted he was marrying his daughter to his son, which would be a bit creepy, but I knew what he mean’s.

    George of Gulagia wrote “Turn our “picnic” area into a world class attraction and get Princess Trixie of Saxe Burlap to ally with us in business.” I think George has in mind a theme park with rides, and guides and shoe shops and outlet stores.

    Peter of Swinnland wrote “Ruffino has decreed a tariff on all cookies from Gulagia, and also t tax armies coming across the borders of other estates. ” Ok as it goes and I will have to see how to work this in provided Pete isn’t just messin’ with my head.

    Norm of Neverneverlands wrote “Form alliances with everyone but the strongest faction and attack that faction on all fronts.” This is kind of general and strictly according to the game I think he is starting an anti-Flounce alliance.

    Shaun of Bad Zu Wurst has as his intention ” Send brigade to border of Flounce to raid and plunder. Parade troops in capitol to prove I am a military genius.” This is technically an illegal intention being 21 words long. However there is a more interesting problem! I said to Shaun “Umm Shaun you said send a brigade to the border of Flounce to raid and plunder. Since you sent them to the border but not over it, are you raiding and plundering your own province? I mean, that’s OK, Faustus isn’t known as “the grump for nothing, and you might be teaching a lesson to some recalcitrant tax payers, and doing some collection yourself? Shaun said “Um no, he wanted to do this to Flounce. ” “OK ” sez I “So I will rewrite it as Use a brigade to raid Flounce’s border province. Parade troops in capitol to prove I’m a military genius, and that will be 19.” That was OK. I was then able to ask Billy what he wished to respond with, and he said two brigades.

    OK, so we have a battle for next month. Over the month I will determine the terrain, the battle, they will tell me which type of brigades they wish. One question in my mind is if I will interpret Norm (Neverneverlands) intention to mean that he will send a brigade to help Shaun in attacking and plundering Flounce? After all Billy has him two to one, and adding a brigade from Norm would even it up. Norm seems to want to do coalition building slowly and that’s why I’m not thinking of sending an army. One point will happen. As Faustus is parading troops in his capitol he will not be with the army bringing his special abilities, which is to chose flanks, position set up etc. Humberto will be in charge. Oh my, whatever wonderful write ups shall ensue from that.

    A note about Armies, Brigades, and Revivals. The resources open to a player are armies, brigades and fortresses. Armies and Brigades are STRATEGIC UNITS. Armies are not built up from brigades, nor do they break down into them. They are completely separate things. You might find it more comfortable to think of brigades as detachments. Anyway, All armies in the game are identical. Each country has the same number and type of TABLE TOP unit in their “ARMY” as a strategic unit. These are five line infantry, two elite (can be grenadier or Light infantry, your choice, and light infantry can be broken down into six stands of SCUM if you wish). Four regiments of heavy cavalry, four regiments of light cavalry, two heavy guns, two light guns, five wagons and 1 #4 rated officer, 2 #3 rated officers, 3#2 rated officers and 4 rated 1 officers. The officers are on individual stands. Brigades are of many types, but again the same from country to country. They consist of seven table top units, four of them are “of type:” and usually (but not always) one dragoon regiment, one light gun, and one wagon. They have 1#2 officer and 2#1 officer. You can have up to two units in any battle on your side, but only one of which can be an army. So the possible combinations are one brigade, two brigades, one army, and an army and a brigade.

    Fortresses are “get out of jail free” cards. They can only be used defensively (you cannot attack with them) an d if you are attacked you can oppose the attack with a fortress and bog down the attack in a fruitless siege. In this case there is no table top battle, but the forces you blocked off and the fortress go to the bank. They can only be gotten back by “revivals.” In the battle above George could have played his fortress rather than responding with an army and a brigade.

    Now here’s where it gets complicated.

    Revivals- When you use a resource it goes to the bank. You can revive ONE resource from the bank at the start of each round of intentions. So at the end of the first turn Billy had one army and one brigade in the bank, and George had one army and Brigade in the bank. Each of them got back ONE unit of their choice at the start of the second round of intentions and so each took back their army, leaving one brigade each in the bank. If they had two revivals they could have gotten both back, or Pete, as “Ruffino of Swinnland” could have allowed either of them that one free revival. He didn’t. BUT new round of intentions can only be begun AFTER all battles engendered are done. So if instead of one battle, we had three in the first turn, all of them would have to be resolved before any revivals and as we have one battle a month it would have been March before any could revive units.

    So the score of our kings so far is.

    Flounce (Billy) 5 (from his special ability at the start of the game. Note he didn’t lose any for losing a battle.
    Spam (Mike) 1 from his success at the crusade conference.
    Gulagia (George) he originally lost one, but winning the battle of Picnicov got him one victory point so he is back to 0.
    Swinnland (Pete) has 0
    Neverneverlands (Norm) has 0 but he did get an extra brigade he can use once.
    Bad Zu Wurst 0

    Hungland, SaxeBurlap und Schleswig Beerstein, Sweeta, The Grand Duchy of the Grand Duke of Gorgonzola, and the colonies are inactive. If you wish to see their sovereign’s personalities and special benefits you can see in the postings on here on TMP and here in Daisy what they were.

    Final notes.

    The game and campaign went very well. It achieved my goal of being able to mount a campaign quickly and get the players right into the thick of it without a lot of rules reading and designing and almost no record keeping. I juggle the resource cards between envelopes and the little chits with intentions form the permanent record of what they did. All of this can then be written up with a “purple prose” companion and kept with the above analytic analysis.

    Now to lift the curtain a bit.

    The rudimentary rules above are designed to get the players involved in the “narrative campaign” methodology. That is the framing of intentions and the results determined by umpire of the intersection of these intentions. It succeeded far better than I feared and in fact better than I hoped. This was NOT unexpected I had done this method twenty years ago with two gamers (one of whom was George of Gulagia) in a Renaissance campaign, against another player, now long out of gaming. It was “The Elvish Civil War” and it went on for 10 battles and dovetailed with an AD&D campaign at times. So I knew the basic method worked, the question could it be expanded to a multi player game. It could.

    Now… I have to tell you some other things. There ARE many more options and complications available which I have left out for now till the players become more familiar with the game. These include an alternate set of Victory determination, some economics, politics etc., but I didn’t want to get them involved. Right now those are aids and tools for ME as gm to frame what is possible in the game and what I will allow.

    Yes, there IS a map! But no one sees it and for new it’s immaterial except for Hungland who is an island power, and Sweeta, who has a fleet but is also the source of most of the naval stores of the world (it’s norther climate and huge pine and oak forests are an inexhaustible source of naval store and so no player WITH a fleet can attack it (they would cut off their stores and render their fleets unrepairable). The map however only gets in the way. I want the players to form clear strategic objective and to be able to let their fancies fly and have fun with their actions than get bogged down in minutia.

    Remember the aim of ANY campaign is to link the table top battles we have together in a narrative, and therefore that is why the table top battle is central and all the rest mere fluff.

    There are TWO fatal flaws in the game.

    The first is the umpire. The players have to trust the umpire and the slightest adversarial relationship will be deadly to the game. If you do not have confidence in the umpire you can’t get anywhere and people will always be trying to “sandbag” the ump, or squeeze him into a corner by nit-picking. In this game you have to accept that the umpire is the umpire and that’s it and take his dictates with good grace. I am fortunate here in having a large number of players who I have played with for years and they willingly give me the latitude, but they also know my attitude towards games and history which has far more of the Marx Brothers than Karl Marx. The umpire also must not be a hard case or too demanding otherwise he will kill the joy of the players, and the rules above all have to be guidelines, not hard and fast laws. The umpire must be far more like a Dungeonmaster than a classical umpire. He has to be the facilitator of the game

    The second weak point is the Players. I doubt this system will work with those gamers where their own egos are paramount and each one thinks they’re an unrecognized military genius, a diamond in the rough. Nor will it work with players who are going to be rules lawyers and try and squeeze every last advantage out of the game. They have to be friends and have a spirit of give and take. If you are the type of player who has to make of every glitch and lump a major issue, you will not like this method. If you are not gaming with friends this will be a horror because EVERY thing that goes wrong will be seen as one more emanation of a vast dark conspiracy against you.

    It’s a game for playing with toy soldiers. You have to have a sense of humor about it, which I think is entirely appropriate when you are playing with toy soldiers.

    It will take me about three days to do the detailed battle report of the Battle of Picnikov

    We shall see what happens.

    #36983
    Steve Johnson
    Participant

    Wow, that’s a very good overview of your campaign! I look forward to the detailed battle report.

    #37013
    Otto Schmidt
    Participant

    Here is the detailed battle report of the Battle of Picknicov.  It is just the text, no photos or maps. There’s dozens of those but I can’t upload them. If you want a folio of the whole thing, send me your snail-mail postal delivery address at [email protected].  You can get the gist of how it runs though from the text.

    UNITS FROM THE “Army Strategic unit.”

    Officers

    Marshall Claude du Pieces (1) commander

    General Cherfollie (4)

    General LeDouche (3)

    General Bosseau Noveau (3)

    Marshall De St. Mallomar (2)

    General Le Duc Du Daffi (2)

    General LaBanza (2) Part of the Wagon Brigade

    General D’Bacle (1)

    General; D’Espair (1)

    General D’Espond (1)

     

     

    Heavy Horse

    Cuirassiers de Fleu de Coupe

    Cuirassiers de Fiasco

    Cuirassiers Le Tout et Fruitti

    Cuirassiers Le St, Crueton

     

    Gendarmes (Dragoons) De San Mallomar

     

    Light Horse

    Hussars Lanbourgoine

    Hussars Bernaise

    Hussars De Banlon

     

    Artillery (heavy)

    Batterie Pompoudor

    Batterie Escaulator

    Artiullery (light)

    Batterie Purolaitor

    Batterie Kelvinautor

     

    Grenadiers

    Grenadiers Gorre and Daphetid

    Grenadiers Snivellie et Whinnie

     

     

    Line Infantry

    Regiment L’Arches D’Or

    Regiment Bois Hardi

    Regiment Duc Du Daffi

    Regiment L’Ornadunes

    Regiment Mal D’Mer (Royal Marines)

     

    THE WAGON BRIGADE

    Officers

    General L’ Estoil (2)

    General Le Duc du Bon Ami (1)

    General Sniveling et Whinnie (1)

    Gendarmes (Dragoons) De St. Quentan.

    Grenadiers Charlebraun

     

    There were 5 wagons from the army and 5 from the Wagon brigade but they were not put on the table top for clarity on the maps and the photographs. Their function is to recover from “Out of Ammunition Markers”

     

    The Army of Gulagia.

     

    Note. I did not use many of my Gulagian Army Units. Since I have retired I have been painting a lot and finishing a lot of units, including the big reconditioning project of refurbishing an old friends American Revolution Army of S.A.E’s which he bequeathed me. Because everyone is equal in “Mon Dieu!!! Tout saife un six! (Oh God! Anything but a six!”) it can easily be a “red army blue army” game, so that will account for the many Italianish names that appear for the regiments, along with a few for my Bad Zu Wurstian Army. As my Gulagian artillery figures are still completing in the box (I paint in oils, takes a long time to dry) I used the artillery from Sax Burlap und Schleswig Beerstein. No complaints from the Osprey Nazi’s out there. If Charles Grant in the War Game can Use French troops and Flags as Austrians for the battle of Lobositz, I can do this. And, if the real life War of the Polish Succession the major actions were fought on the Rhine and in Italy by the French and Austrians, there’s no  complaining about this.

     

    ARMY (the Strategic Unit )

     

    Officers

     

    Marshall Prince Peter of Pskov (4) (try saying his name with a mouthful of crackers).

    General Razumatazsky (3)

    General Baggodonutz (3)

    General Roustibuckett (2)

    General Dillgherkinsky (2)

    General Wydjaleevwidoutme (2)

    General Pandemoniumsky (1)

    General Xanthodontia (1)

    General Grubygrimetsky (1)

    General Toadstoolovitch (1)

     

    Heavy Horse

    Snazzynoff Cuirassiers

    Ekatikorner Cuirassiers

    Zuppozitorinsk Cuirassiers

    Guard of the Empress’ horse (former empress) Present empress Sophia I will have none of that. Horsing around.

     

    Dragoons

    Schlemeil Dragoon Regiment.

     

    Light Cavalry

    Alt Knickerbocker Hussars. This is actually a Bad Zu Wurstian unit I just completed. It is painted like the Prussian death head Hussars, and the standard is all black with a line drawing of the Headless Horseman on it in white complete with jack-o-lantern. Unfortunately I don’t have the command figure of this regiment ready, it’s still on my table. It is a figure of a colonel of the regiment, but he’s holding a jack-o-lantern in his arm, and he has, you guessed it, no head. His horse also has no head, and its stuffed mounted on a little four wheeled platform which is pulled by one of the Hussars of the regiment. The officer tag on the base says “I’m the Headless Horseman! (And I’m the Headless Horse!”)

     

    Der Koenigenfragen Hussars. This is another Bad Zu Wurstian unit I just completed. It’s quite colorful and snazzy, in yellow uniforms and red pelisse. The standard is red with a sphynx on it and in a circle around it is the Queen’s Question (which the regiment gets its name from, and the Question is “Does this dress still make me look fat!” One has to indeed be among the bravest of the brave to answer a question like that from one’s wife, let alone the queen. It is rumored that the Headless horseman is the only man in creation to say “Yes” when asked.

     

    Der Fusslange Hussars. (The Footlong hussars) This is another Bad Zu Wurstian unit. It’s pretty in light blue and yellow and the name is echoed on the banner, Inside a circlet of bratwurst is a picture of Rapunzel in her tower. The circlet on the ring of wursts is “I don’t let my hair down for any old brat!”

     

    The Riboflavinsky Hussars (I know… pretty boring after the above. )

     

    Grenadieri di Sardegna (Grenadiers of Sardegnia)

    Grenadieri di Sicillia (Grenadiers of Sicilly)

     

    Line Infantry

    Regiment “La Lupe di Tuscano” (loved this name on an Italian unit in the “Anzio” game.) “The Wolves of Tuscany!

    Regiment “La Minotaurio de Crete. (The Minotaurs of Crete)

    Regiment “La Reina de Atlantio” (The King of Atlantis)

    Regiment “Sparta”

    Regiment “Athenio”

     

    Artillery

    Again, as I said I used my Saxe-Burlap und Schleswig Beerstein guns for this, as the artillerists for the Gualgian Army are still tacky. (I used linseed oil instead of thinner, but it works much better.

    Heavy Artillery

    Battery Todt,

    Battery Kupfertopf

     

    Light Artillery

    Lord Delco’s Battery

    Battery Schwersterben

     

    5 Wagons

     

    THE ARTILLERY BRIGADE

     

    General Pitzkammer (2)

    General Orlop (1)

    General Popumpkin (1)

     

    Grenadiers of Schlemeil

    Dragoons of Hazerei.

     

    Heavy Artillery

    Battery Kraftmachtig

    Battery Krashenbummen

     

    Light Artillery

    Battery Rey O’Vac

    Battery Immerfertig

     

    1 Wagon.

     

    Like the Flouncaise forces, the wagons were kept of f the table for clarity and we assumed were where they were needed when a unit was out of ammo.

     

    REPORT OF THE BATTLE OF PICKNICOV!

     

    One of the defenders advantages is that they must set up first, so the attacker can see his dispositions before laying out his own troops. This advantage is balanced by the defender getting to chose the side of the battle he sets up on. This would be unfortunate for Billy, the commander of Flounce as it meant George, in addition to having a more powerful brigade (the artillery Brigade) would have the side with defensive terrain. This was a double disadvantage for Billy, but he made some clever dispositions and It was obvious that he intended to attempt to overwhelm the Gulagian right (his own left) early in the game and seize the advantage.  As umpire it is up to me to decide about flanks and so forth and I declared that as this was in Gulagia with the broad Gulagian plains, and the broad Gulagian rivers, and the broad Gulagian women, all flanks were open and short excursions off the table edge were allowed, as well as wide turning movements. Neither side took advantage of these in the game so we will move on.

     

    Billy’s  tactics were not necessarily foolhardy as in doing so he would get is troops out of the reach of most of the Gulagian guns of which George had a two to one superiority. Pete, following in the same idea wanted to tie down the Gulagian left by massing his grenadiers and some infantry and light cavalry support below the ridge line, making sure he organized himself for an assault on the left. From there one would have to see what one could do.  George, Mike, and Norm had decided that they saw no advantage to proceeding into the plain until the opportunity arose for a counter attack, and besides this movement would mask their own guns and throw away one of their greatest advantages. Note that they could only deploy up to two hexes from the edge, so this frustrated them in occupying all of the hills and was going to give Pete a little edge to cling on to. Pete’s strategy paid off as he was able to tie down the Gulagian left for almost the whole battle and gave as good as he got.

     

    Billy (Flounce) had the initiative but this doesn’t mean much at this point, only giving the initial advantages, AND the necessity of drawing the first card from the Event deck. This is a deck of 144 cards which specify special cases or events that will take place for THAT turn, and will not carry over from Turn to Turn. As Umpire I was able to veto any event that would be a pain to implement in the game. As is usual in these things I had to do so, when Bill pulled a :heavy rain card, which would have ended the game, and we didn’t set this whole thing up to not have a battle, so he pulled another. The cards apply to one side or the other or both, and in this case it unfortunately went to George who had the ability to make a “Master Maneuver.” This sounds a bit more grandiose than it is. This allows a greatly facilitated movement, but as George wasn’t moving anywhere and had some other restrictions on him, it really didn’t give him much. It did allow him to reshuffle some troops expeditiously but it was no great advantage. I will explain it when we get to movement.

    Turn 1. Billy, having the initiative, moves first and he has the advantage in movement There are four types of moment in “Oh God! Anything But a Six” but two of them are rather special and complex and we shall not explain them here as we did not use them. Normal simple moment is by rolling one die for a unit you wish to move and if you roll less than or equal to the “M” or movement value you can move that unit.  If you roll greater, the unit is stuck. You can use any officer you have within 1 measure (8″) of the unit and “tip him” before you roll (the tipping signifies he has been used) and apply his officer ability to the movement ability of the unit, thus increasing it and making it easier to roll less than or equal to.

    The officer then cannot use any of his abilities on any other ability of the unit. He is “tipped” for the turn and will be “untipped” at the start of the next turn.

     

    Now… the advantage of having the initiative is this. If you DO NOT have initiative you are limited to 1 measure “8″ for infantry and wagons, and 2 measures for cavalry and horse artillery. If however you DO have initiative you may move that unit as far as your leedle ole’ heart desires, so long as you do not enter Rough or Very Rough Terrain, or come within 1 measure of an enemy unit, in either case of which you must stop and end your movement. This means that as the person with initiative you can swing wide around behind the lines to attack on the other flank, take advantage of a gap that opens up in the enemy line and all those wonderful things.  Billy decided to eschew such dramatics and simply put his bold plan into action. He launched his massed cavalry, the “Household Troops” of Flounce, which he said were simply there carrying the picnic supplies and silver service for Leonardo, and wanted to prevent the uncouth Gulagians from crashing his picnic.

    The second type of moment is the maneuver.  This is where you can take a group of officers who are within 1 measure of each other, total up their officer abilities, and if you roll less than or equal to that total you can make a maneuver, which is where you may move any units within 1 measure of that group as one. Couple this with the ability to move unlimited which goes with initiative and it is quite easy to pull off movements like Frederick’s at Rossbach or Leuthen.

     

    In this case Billy was able to make his maneuver, shown by the blue arrow, which brought the whole of the glittering mass of cavalry down on the Gulagian right, while . Mike used his Event card to make his maneuver shown by the yellow arrow. Note that doing a maneuver does not change the initiative/non initiative status of either side. Mike could only move 1 measure with infantry and 2 with cavalry.

     

    Shown below  are two views of the Flounce Move, as the massed horsemen of both sides clash as Billy attempts to ride down the light horse and dragoons in front of them.  The bright yellow and red uniforms of the “Koenigenfragen” Hussars are at front with next to them the Fusslange Hussars and then a regiment of Dragoons. The Alt Knickerbocker Hussars are in support, the black coated troops in the rear.

     

    Below them are two views of the movement on the Flounce right, sneaking up to the base of the hill and using it as a dead zone to shelter from the Gulagian Artillery, and preparing for an assault next turn. Unfortunately for Billy’s plans, Norm moved his troops up to occupy the forward ridge.

     

    Apologies for the ugly base of the stanchion light, but it was an intermittently overcast day and I wanted to prevent darkness from shutting off the light too quickly.

     

    The assault on the Gulagian Left of course was the main event on the first turn. It became one of the deciding points of the battle as disaster struck both sides.

     

    Combat in “Oh God! Anything but a six! “ is simultaneous, and both fire and melee occur in the same phase. This phase comes just after the defender moves and it is done by means of a combat results deck. This is 120 cards about business card size which have various results on them. These can be “Eliminated,” “Officer Casualty,” “Retreat 1 measure” “Disorganized” which reduces all values by 1, “Broken” which reduces all values of a unit TO 1, “Shaken” which means the unit can’t move etc. If you get two broken cards on a unit it is eliminated, and if you get four retreat one measure, it also is eliminated.  Each side tosses down the cards from the combat results deck as they wish on any units within 1 measure (some units can fire two measures) whichever value they wish to use.  The “C” value of the unit is for charge or Melee, and the “F” for fire or musketry.

     

    When all cards are placed, each player then attempts to roll off the cards they have had placed on their units by their “S” – Stand or “to stand” value. Again any cards you roll less than or equal to your stand value are “rolled off” and any that you roll higher apply to the units.  You may break up cards among several targets and so forth.  In the deck of 120 cards there are 3 Eliminated cards, 3 officer casualties, four panic routs, twenty “No effect” thirty “Retreat 1 measure” and 10 each of “Disorganized, Broken, Shaken, Fatigued, Out of Ammo, and Out of Control. These last five have colored triangles on them and represent “state cards” so to speak which act as markers which persist on the units until rolled off in Rally (which is in the next phase) and again the method is the same. To roll off a card you must roll less than or equal to your “Rally” value, which is not the same as your “to stand” value.  There are also 10 cards with special circumstances like heroic rally, pursue, exploit etc.  One thing to be noted is that the game has twelve decks of cards on the table. All are mixed up and used repeatedly, so there is no resetting of the deck. You just take a pile of cards from anywhere and start tossing them, then rolling them off.

     

    Anyway as it transpired in turn 2 the event card was “Lost Forces” which if either side had been making off the board movements would have resulted in them being lost to the game entirely, and no one had any such forces the play continue. The fight on the Gulagian right continued the hammer blows of cavalry and on the Gulagian left, Norm hung on grimly to the hills by advancing to take the sheltering units below the hills in fire.

     

    In the photo above left Billy pulls the event card and prepares to come on again with his cavalry. In the photo at right of a panorama of the battle with Pete Frechtling at the far end. You can see in the foreground , the field after cards are placed and before they are “rolled off.”  While unsightly, it lasts only for a moment as most are rolled off or placed discreetly between the figures as marker.

     

    Shown at left from the last turn of the game is an extreme example. The Gendarmes De St. Mallomar have one of each marker.  The fatigued marker means it can’t use its charge value or move unlimited if the side has initiative, the broken marker means all it’s unit values are reduced to 1, the Shaken marker means it can’t move, and the out of control marker means it can’t use it’s officers to help it. The disorganized marker shouldn’t be there. Disorganized markers are tossed off when the unit is broken, as the disorganized reduces all values BY one and the much more severe broken marker reduces them to 1. The good Dragoons are in a parlous state.

     

    On the Gulagian left, Norm Thime (right) and George Deppner (left) doggedly hold on to the hills.

     

    Turn three was more or less a continuation of turn two, with the two flanks grinding away at each other. In the center Mike continued to press forward.  The event for this turn was “Battle Frenzy” which Mike could assign to one unit. It allowed the unit to ignore an Eliminated result from either the cards, or retreats. He assigned it to a Cuirassier unit in the center, and it did nothing.

     

     

     

    Turn four saw some dramatic things. Billy succeeded in pulling the “ Idiot with initiative card, which meant that he could move any and all units within one measure of an officer This he did, allowing Pete to take the first line of hills and throw the entire Gulagian left flank back On the right though he grimly held on in his pressure on the Gulagian right, but it was clear that he was not going to make any headway there. Below is a picture of the dwindling effort.

     

    The Battle maps and the photographs tell the whole story as Billy bravely and skillfully attempted to beat back the Gulagian Army, but he was clearly overmatched unless given some miracle by the event deck or some gross mistake by the Gualgian players, who are far too good table top generals to make such a blunder. In the end though, only a lucky roll of getting one more critical casualty card enabled George to eke out a minor victory and avoid a straight draw. On turn 4, the remainder of the Flouncaise attack on the left is cut off. And below is a picture of the last moments of the Bois Hardi Regiment.

     

    By turns 5 and six the battle was clearly lost and in the photo above the patched up center grimly holds on hoping for a miracle, or night, or dinner. It was at this moment that the “womenfolk” came back and though Mike was a little bloodthirsty and wanted to pay back Billie for the heavy thrashing he took earlier in the game, agreed with George that the humane thing to do was to allow the disappointed picnickers to pack up their luncheon on the grass and creep back to Flounce. Besides, the ladies were hungry and it would be the height of “lese majeste” to be so unchivalrous as to keep them waiting.

     

    All had a good time and enjoyed the battle immensely Billy put with a huge amount of razing about his insistence that “It was only a picnic.”  At the same time all admitted that he was overmatched a bit and struggled against superior numbers and terrain, but that the closeness of the battle (9 to 10) was a tribute to his skill.

     

    In the post mortems over dinner, many agreed that more should have been put into the charge on he Gulagian right , though I held that any more troops there would have simply been useless. My thought was that the far better thing was to remain out of range of most of the Gulagian artillery, surrendering the initiative to them. This could be done by Billy playing his “1″ card on turn 1 which meant that unless he threw a 1, the initiative would pass to Mike. Mike then would have to come off his hills and displace his artillery forward (not easy to do) or mask his batteries by moving forward his cavalry and infantry. This developed a minor debate on which was best, to keep the initiative, with all the various arguments pro and con.  Significantly even Debbie and Dot took part in this debate. Dot has proofread all my rules and knows them by heart, though she doesn’t game, and Debbie is regaled with all the details on the long drive home. The conversation then turned to all the usual subjects like toys, conventions, flea-markets, toys and so forth, while Pete and Sean chose their countries, and everyone wrote out their intentions for the next battle next month and the second turn of the campaign.

     

    For myself I was satisfied with the campaign so far. The rules worked well and while I was a bit worried that Billy was overmatched, that’s the way campaigns are .  What all the players quickly caught on to was that the Gulagian defensive benefit of an attacker having to take along a Wagon Brigade limited the combat forces he could field, at the same time it in no way gave the Gulagians an untrammeled advantage.  In a team up of two or three players against them they could be cut down to size, but even more by clever play they could be beaten. The option of many small attacks with brigades, or attacking George after he had used his armies offensively all came to mind. All were eager to continue.

    #37014
    willz
    Participant

    A nice long, interesting and informative report Otto, cheers for posting.  Some photo’s would be nice, as they say a picture paints a thousand words.

    #37038
    Otto Schmidt
    Participant

    Dear Williajn Harley

     

    If you wish a copy of the 11 page report with all the maps and pictures inside just send me your e-mail address and I will send them to you as attachmens.

    #37396
    Otto Schmidt
    Participant

    Here is the purple prose- fanciful report on the campaign. next will be that of the battle.

     

    The War of the Bazoomian  Succession.

    Music by Moe Zart, Libretto by DelMonte

    OVERTURE.

    Act one, Scene One. The Ducal Palace  Palace of the Duke of Gorgonzola, somewhere near Naples. Conferring in one corner of the stage is the Samgrio IV, King of Spam and his ambassador Don Praelino. As the overture ends, the King goes into his aria.

    All cry Viva Espamia- Viva Espamia  when my coach approaches

    All cry Long live the King Long Live the king  when my barouche goes by

    I am the very renowned King of Spam, the King of Spam,

    And all agree, that s none but me and I m quite a king I am.

     

    Chorus: He is the King of Spam he am,

    The only one in the land we see,

    He s well renowned, and royally bound

    Tis no one else but he.

     

    I ve got four sons I need to find, thrones to sit on and wives to bind

    They re an OK lot as princes go, Marco, Paolo, Raulo, Benito and Mario.

    One is stupid, one is ugly, one is fat and one is a lout, all so-so

    What you want as a mate, but not a bad lot as princes go.

     

    So here I am to advance my plans in Gorgonzola s sunny lands

    I ll see what alliance I can make to place my sons and frame the bands

    to marry them off and get them thrones, by plots both high and low

    It ll be hard, but what can I do, I ve got to get rid of them soon you know.

     

    Don Praelino: Excellent you majesty, Bravo, that was magnificio, It will certainly make a good impression on the Grand Duke.

     

    King Sangria IV: I have to admit it is a bit unusual, ….

     

    Don Praelino: (Becoming very excited and frantic.) Your majesty! You re majesty, remember, ala recitative! Ala recitative!!!

     

    King Sangria IV: (singing now in the style to the accompaniment of the orchestra.   Oh yes, you said so. Very well I find this most amusing that I a grand King must speak in cavatinas and tones, like some common street serenader, but if you say it will make a good impression on the Grand Duke, then so be it.

     

    Don Praelino (adopting a studied pose) Yes your majesty, it is the manner in this court and I would not urge it so strongly upon you re your royal personage did I not know the character of this Duke. It will go well!

     

    King Sangria IV: I hope so Don….(forgetting himself for a moment and falling out of tune into plain speech, but catching himself and starting again) I hope so, for I tell you my Good Don that my life has become a holy hell. My four sons, Marco, Raulo, Paulo, Benito, and Mario are a trial to my life. They are useful for nothing, and endless expense, and they wreck the furniture, eat my food, ignore me and leave their droppings in the corner! You have no children do you Don Praelino?!

     

    Don Praelino : No sire, but I have cats and I can assure you it s the same thing. At least they don t smell.

     

    King Sangria IV: Aha!!!… I see you ve never met Marco, Raulo , Paolo, Benito, and Mario!

     

    Don Praelno: Apparently not sire.

     

    After a pause, Dion Praelino says.

     

    Don Praelino: Please tell me sire, you have come here to find thrones for you four sons, but you keep mentioning five?

     

    King Sangria IV. Paolo and Benito are identical twins I am hoping to get one married off somewhere and slip in his twin unnoticed and thus get two for the price of one.

     

    Don Prelino: Ah, I see. But tell me your majesty, won t the quondam Queen of wherever who gets one of them, won t she notice that the king, the prince… will be ubiquitous!  that is constantly around?

     

    King Sangria IV: Please!!! Do not speak of such things, I really think it is highly impertinent of you, admittedly a minister of the most exalted level to speak of the matter so personal as the goings on in a royal bed. As you know the church especially forbids quondams, and at the same time er- ah- let us say that Prince Benito s ubiquitousness is a scurrilous rumor begun by my enemies, and I assure you that he is quite normal in all respects, and rumors of his collection of … er… particular portraits he keeps under his bed are completely false!

     

    Don Praelino: Of course your majesty, never would I think that such things would stand in propinquity to the royal family.

     

    King Sangria IV: Oh! You ve heard about that too! My goodness I wonder how my suit shall fare if the news has spread as far as Gorgonzola.

     

    Don Praelino: I would not fear your majesty, here is the Grand Duke Fortunato himself come to tell us all.

     

    Enter Grand Duke Fortunato with a chorus of courtiers.

     

    Grand Duke Fortunato: Yes, I m the Grand Duke and I have come to tell you all.

     

    Don Praelino : Yes he s the Grand Duke and he will tell us all.

     

    Chorus He s the Grand Duke and he will tell us all.

     

    King Sangria IV: Ah! The Grand Duke who will tell us all.

     

    Grand Duke Fortunato takes up position center stage and begins.

     

    Fortunato s Aria.

     

    All manner of titles and honors I attract

    I value them all the great and the small

    the fabled and farcical, the fantasy and fact

    And I write them down with letters so tall.

     

    Chorus: Oh It s the Grand Duke Fortunato,

    The sovereign of  Gorgonzolo

    His domains are here , his domains are there

    And he has domains quite anywhere

    All hail our Fortunato, the Lord of everywhere

     

    I m the King of Sicilly, the Doge of Vencie

    The King of Jerusalem and Pharoh of Egypt

    I ve even collected the title of Negus

    and King of Naples, Sardnia and Cyprus.

     

    I m the Shofet of Carthage, King of Illyria,

    The Lord of Atlantis, the Emperor of China

    The Duke of Athens and Lion of Judah

    In escutcheon and blazon my arms cant be finer.

     

    I have myself crowned wherever I roam,

    But of all of my lands and titles and areas,

    the one I love best, the place I call home

    is the my own Grand Duchy of Gorgonzola

     

     

    Fortunato: Ah Welcome my cousin! Welcome, I greet you as a brother, nay as my own son, or my uncle. Perhaps you have something I could inherit? A duchy or a principality I could add to my many thrones and crowns.

     

    King Sangria IV: Well Actually Fortunato, I was rather coming here to discuss the getting of crowns myself.

     

    Fortunato: Well of course, mind you I ve none to give away, and am in the marker for more myself. In fact I was telling my royal Council that I would especially like that of the Emperor of China, the Grand Mogul, and the Emperor of the Moon.

     

    Sangria IV: (a bit shocked) But your grace, can you actually lay claim to those?  Can you even get there?

     

    Fortunato: It makes no never mind, All I need is a few feet of soil to stand on when they crown you and it s done.

     

    Don Praelino: But don t the local rulers er-ah  object?

     

    Fortunato: No not at all, once a significant payment for the patch of ground is made they are quite happy to have the ready cash, and will in fact, provide the costumes, chorus, and catering for a right fine event! It gives marvelous employment to the locals.

     

    Sangria IV: Even the Moon?

     

    Fortunatio: Completely! My good friend Baron Munchausen has promised to take me there, or at least bring back a few cubic yards to stand on when I am crowned his celestial Lunar Majesty, the Loon of La Lune!

     

    Don Praelino: But pardon, your grace, doesn t it take a lot of money to do that, I mean to pay for the costumes, chorus and caterers?

     

    Fortunato: Indeed it does my good man, but you can easily recover it. Why –I am presently negotiating to become the Great Mogul. Once I have it and have come back here, I can go into my court and ask my and advertise that a whole slate of advisers, courtiers, positions, claquers, and hang-abouts has been opened up and that for a mere three thousand Florins, you can be named the Grand High Exalted Panjandrum- Igluk First Class (Acting) in the ministry of Justice.

     

    Sangria IV: Really, but aren t these meaning less titles?

     

    Fortunato: Of course, they are, but few know and it is not without it s reward, Consider how efficacious it might be for a noblemen to impress his chambermaid, milkmaid, or some local ingenue that one is the Grand High Exalted Panjandrum- Igluk First Class (Acting) in the ministry of Justice of the Grand Mogul?

     

    Sangria IV Well, I suppose…

     

    Fortunato: Don t you think it would be far more impressive to say you were the Grand High Exalted Panjandrum- Igluk First Class (Acting) in the ministry of Justice of the Grand Mogul than to say that one is the second under-intendant of the collection of animal offal for St. Stefano or somewhere?

     

    Sangria IV: I see your point.

     

    Fortunato:: I admit it s not as impressive as if you the Grand High Exalted this and that of the Treasury or the Harem, but those are available too, but at a higher price.

     

    Sangria IV: Hmmm you may be right.

     

    Fortunato: Of course then there are the residuals?

     

    Sangria IV: Residuals?

     

    Don Praelino : Oh! Your majesty- ala recitatif, ala-recitatif!!!

     

    Sangria IV: A slight bow as to excuse is indecorum) I apologize for my lapse your Grace, .. Residuals!!!

     

    Fortunato: Excellent!   I applaud your obligato alla Sforzando! I abhor Singspiel in all its forms.

     

    Sangria IV: I have heard, tell me do you have such antipathy because you dislike the Germans?

     

    Fortunato: Not at all, I like their sausages and schnitzels, and tortes and tarts… (aside as in soto voce- Especially their tarts  with a lascivious wink of the eye.) But I must support my own Italian singers here in Italy and they become enraged at the ideas of these Germans in attempting to put them out of business.

     

    Sangria IV. Well that s is all well and good, but now, can… can we… talk in private about… um.. The matters I have come here to discuss? (Sangria looks around uneasily at the clustering courtiers and busy bodies).

     

    Fortunato: No worry, go on, you can say anything you want here.

     

    Sangria IV: But your majesty, will not so many umm… ears and umm tongues hear and tell? I mean what of the secrets of state, the private arrangements to be made.

     

    Fortunato: Glancing around. Oh them, don t be worried, they are merely the chorus and nobody of particular. Some of them are high noblemen, but I have found that whatever you tell people they will inevitably mishear, misread, mangle and create such a load of rubbish out of the honest truth, that it works better than the most clever code or cipher. It is simply too hard to pick out the bits of truth from the gibberish people reduce it to.  And besides, All of these people have paid a lot of money to get tickets to be here and hear the proceedings of the ultra-secret deliberations of my cabinet! Why I can recall the debates on the populations of mules in the province of Calabria once held the entire capital spellbound for a week!

    Don Praelino: I remember that your grace! The crowd brought the house down with applause, and there were calls for encores after encore s for the  Braying Chorus  performed by the Ministers involved.

     

    Fortunato Yes, and we had to extend the debate for a whole week once word got around.

    The take was marvelous!

     

    Sangria IV: You mean to tell me that the top level secret deiberations of your cabinet are done as an opera?

     

    Fortunato: Exactly! It s much more entertaining and informative, people actually listen to what they are saying, and it brings in a nice purse of money at the same time. And then there are the residuals. The books, the pictures, the costumes, the latest recipes of Aida, or the chocolate chip cookies of Mary Stuarda.

     

    Don Praelino : And the costumes your grace, don t forget the costumes!

     

    Fortunato: Ah yes, the costumes and the outfit. I tell you the whole kingdom goes riot for the new costumes. Let me put on Lucia Di Lammemoor and the whole country must truck itself out in Cavalier and Royalist Garb. A purely second rate Boheme and everyone goes round dressed like starving artists. There was that Aida though, which we performed in mid winter and several hundred women were carried off by pneumonia as they tripped around in diaphanous Egyptian costumes but!…

     

    Sangria IV: Amazing. Astounding, wondrous!

     

    Fortunato: Of course there are pitfalls and risks as with any production. I remember once when we had a report on the level of prostitution in Naples , it started with a bang but the audience soon lost interest and trooped out. It was a perfect bust, the debate closed that night!

     

    Sangria IV: Really, and such a lively topic!

     

    Fortunato: And so thought I, but we did not, you see, show pictures or give any particular names, addresses or references, and he public acquitted it a great bore! I honestly think I missed on inventing the  infomercial.

     

    Don Praelino: How tragic, your grace!

     

    Fortunato: Not to worry! I had the producer pilloried. He s hanging around here somewhere.

     

    Sangria IV: Still your Grace, I would feel more comfortable, if we were a bit more sotto voce

     

    Fortunato: Very well, (turning to the chorus) I say… I say… I have just been given word that they are going to be a massive production of    Boris   down the road and they are going to need an especially huge chorus for that! So if you would like to go tryout….

    The scene is reduced to pandemonium as the chorus rushes out.

     

    Fortunato: Turning to Sangria IV. There! They are gone, so what do you wish to say.

     

    Sangria IV Well, your Grace, as you know you are the possessor of the foremost number of honors, titles and crowns in the world, and quite expert in getting your hands on them. I am trying to get my four sons , Marco, Raulo , Paolo, Benito, and Mario thrones, and I thought who better to come to than to you.

     

    Fortunato: Ah I see, now do you want these to be real thrones…?

     

    Sangria IV: Yes, they re a pretty rum lot but even they would notice if they had an empty throne with no one to rule over.

     

    Fortunato: I see, but you said four sons.

     

    Sangria IV, Yes but Raulo and Paulo are twins, and I figured I could get away with two for the price of one.

     

    Don Praelino: I thought you said Benito and Paolo were twins?

     

    Sangria IV. Oh yes that s right. They all run together after a while.

     

    Fortunato: Yes, a lot like that fellow Wagner. So you wish to acquire royal dignity for your sons.

     

    Sangria IV, mostly to get them out of the palace, they re very expensive and make a frightful mess. The royal hunting hounds are neater. Do you think it can be done?

     

    Fortunato: Of course it can be done, have you see then the state of royal princess these days! The only difference between them and the royal hunting hounds are that they ARE neater.

     

    Don Praelino: The dogs or the princesses?

     

    Sangria IV. Good, it will serve Marco, Raulo , Paolo, Benito, and Mario right!

     

    Fortunato: Do you have any idea of where you would like these thrones for your sons?

     

    Don Praelino: Well we thought that the Sultanate of Ikea might be the trick. It s large, poorly led, and the monarch is very unhappy, and it could be carved into several kingdoms . There are other things to recommend it besides!

     

    Fortunato: Such as?

     

    Sangria IV: It s on the other side of the world from Espamia.

     

    Fortunato: Yes, they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder so I see you wish to acquire a great love for your boys.

     

    Don Praelino: Yes they say that Marco, Raulo , Paolo, Benito, and Mario are an acquired taste.

     

    Fortunato: Well let s see, then we need a plan and for a good plan we have to find a good libretto… Let ms see (he walks over to stage right where there is a huge desk overflowing with manuscripts… Let me see.. Donna… No,.. Aida… no… Meistersinger … (ugh what a bore..) Manon … No… Porgy and Bess… definately not!..

     

    Sangria IV (perusing another pile, pulls out one thick folio) What about this! The War of the Austrian Succession!

     

    Fortunato: His face going ashen, his eyes popping wide the glasses falling off his nose… : That work!!! No No No, all wrong. It s a horrible piece written by one Frederick Von Hohenzollern and he has committed the worst mistakes of all. It goes interminably for seven years! How can you compress seven years into even four acts, let alone a comfortable three, and he seems to have made himself the star of the whole thing.

     

    Sangria IV: Incredible!

     

    Fortunato: Not only that he treats the soubrette  role shamefully and steals her land and house, and when she s all alone and forlorn does he do what any self respecting character in opera would do? Does he take pity on her  NO!

     

    Sangria and Praelino : No!

     

    Fortunato: Does he rush to her rescue NO!

     

    Sangria and Praelio , No!

     

    Fortunato: Does he marry her and live happily ever after! NO!

     

    Sangria and Praelino No!

     

    Fortunato: (thoughtfully pausing for a moment) It was wise to let the chorus go. If they were here I would have been forced to break into my second patter song and create the famous No! Trio

    It would go something like.

     

    No No, No Nonono La No, no no,

     

    Sangria and Praleino as chorus No! No! No!

     

    Fortunato (thoughtfully pausing again ) I must say your entirely adequate tenors, but your coloratura and accompiagetto is abominable.

    Sangria and Praelino : Ah me.. Ah me.. Ahh Ah… me.

     

    Fortunato: No no, I m certain this will simply not do. (He takes the libretto Sangria IV was reading and tosses it back on the pile.) Now.. Here we have something. L Italiani …it s a wonderful story. It s about a beautiful young girl who is captured and hauled off to Turkey where a lecherous old Pasha wants to make her his new wife!  She resists him and there s all sorts of light fun. We ll take that part of it blend it with a little  Abduction  and have the Pasha s son fall in love with her and contrive to have her escape…  It ll be wonderful!  I guarantee a triumph.

     

    Sangria IV: But your grace… umm. How will… I mean who will.,,,

     

    Fortunato: Oh, the Princess of Saxe Burlap und Schleswig Beerstein of course. A flighty, giddy, gorgeous girl of sixteen, interested in shoes, boys, shopping, boys, and boy toys. Who could be better, and a perfect soubrette! Her sister the Princes IN Saxe Burlap und Schleswig Beerstein can also be abducted! She s a good soprano, though merging into a mezzo! But there can be delightful duets and a bit of rivalry for the affection of Murad the son of Shah Na-Na, the Nattering Nabob of Negativism.

     

    Sangria IV: But your majesty! How will we accomplish that!

     

     

    Fortunato: Oh simple, we ll have her abducted by that great international Banditti Don Di Draino! I have him on retainer, he s always kidnapping people, switching babies, hiding princes and princess  with beggars and shepherds , and arranging to have the rescuing leads arrive at the right time! True we ll have to make some of his crew look like vile Easterners, but we can use the costumes from  Turk in Italy  and put on a bit of black face here and there…No, maybe those from Mithridates King of Pontus would be better.

     

    Sangria IV: But your grace… I don t see that this is at all a good idea!

     

    Fortunato: We shall Kidnap Princess Katherine of Saxe Burlap und Schleswig Beerstein, and sell her to the young Pasha of Ikea in the slave market!  He will bring her back to the Harem and fall in love with her. She will resist him. His leering lecherous father will want to possess her, but she will foil him by naming him her  Pappatazzi  (which the old fool will spend the rest of the piece trying to figure out the meaning of) and the Armies of the world will join in a crusade to invade and partition Ikea, giving you perhaps two and a half thrones.

     

    Sangria IV: Two and a half thrones?

     

    Fortunato: Yes, it will be easier for Paolo or Benito to have half a throne to disappear to.

     

    Sangria IV: ( a bit worried) I see, your grace!

     

    Fortunato: Then we will have a grand and glorious crusade, triumphal marches, romantic love scenes, secret missions, great battles, tremendous arias, duets, triplets, quartets and so forth with a climactic orgy at the main temple where the hero pushes out the pillars and brings down the temple on the revelers… No … wait, that s Sampson..:  But don t worry we ll ave a stirring rescue scene, and a grand finale! Maybe a slaughter of the Innocents! A runaway country fair, a riot, or I have it! The whole world will burn up….

     

    Sangria IV: (Hopefully) I say, could we have Marco rescue the Princess?

     

    Fortunato: Somewhat grimly… What is he?

     

    Sangria IV: Well, a prince, my son…

     

    Don Praelino: Um I think the Grand Duke is asking what voice does he have, tenor, baritone, basso.

     

    Sangria IV: Actually he can t carry a tune in a bushel basket.

     

    Fortunato: Absolutely unacceptable, we have to have a really star role for this. But perhaps a stand-in. Is he handsome and dashing?

     

    Sangria IV: (disappointed) well no, he s rather short and dumpy.

     

    Fortunato: There! You see.

     

    Don Praelino: But aren t we treading a dangerous course? I mean what will the princess think! Will she be willing to do this.

     

    Fortunato: Oh not at first, but think of it. All women, milkmaids to  princess  are drama queens and what more dramas can she have than this, dastardly abductions, revealing outfits, danger kept at bay, glorious rescues! Grand Chorus  and she in center stage in almost every scene! I tell you if we did not think of it she would have engineered it herself!

     

    Sangria IV: I am amazed that such a fanciful and outlandish idea could even be thought to become history.

     

    Fortunato: I see you haven t read much history! But tell me , have you made any arrangements in your project so far.

     

    Sangria IV: To tell your majesty the truth, I have intrigued with the King of Flounce to attack the Empress of Gulagia. I had spies tell me that she was attempting to make Shah Na-Nah of Ikea less morose and self pitying, and was sending a mission to the country. As this might mean an alliance in the offing, I thought to divert the Gulagian Empress from that project to the defense of her own lands and so isolate Ikea.

     

    Fortunato: Excellent work, timely done! How did the King of Flounce respond!

     

    Sangria IV. He positively sprang at it. Of course I first suggested that he might want to marry his four daughters to my sons, but he became acutely interested in Gulagian picnics  when Don Praelino mentioned it.

     

    Don Praelino: Yes Your Grace, he positively leaped at the idea.

     

    Fortunato: Excellent! We shall have to work him in on the plot somewhere perhaps a second act walk on will suit him.

     

    End Act 1.

    #37562
    Otto Schmidt
    Participant

    Dear List

     

    Here is the “purple prose” report of the Battle of Picknikov.

     

    THE KING’S PICNIC.

    The Royal Council of the King of Flounce had just convened. Few in that August body expected anything other than the normal round of inconsequential bickerings and ditherings, endless caveats and digressions that normally characterized deliberations.  As it began though, it was noticed that the Minister of War, the Grand Marshall, Claude DuPieces sat rotund and smug as a self satisfied statue of the Buddha, smiling discreetly. When at last all had wound themselves up into a dudgeon of indignation and argument, and then dissipated it all in fruitless debate and disputation, at last the Good Marshall began his expostulation.

     

    My dear Gentlemen, I believe I have accomplished something in the last week that shall be of inestimable value to the state (and then shifting his eyes from their magisterial gaze over everyones head at the sublime transcendent middle distance, to briefly, flickeringly affixing everyone s gaze eye to eye, he said.  I have been contacted by King Sangria IV upon the matter of a highly lucrative and profitable war against the Infidel Ikeans.

     

    Immediately groans of protest from the assembled ministers flooded the room.  Oh no, not that old chestnut of a Crusade again?!!!?   said the Duke of SanSimpleton,  Ah, does that man have only one song he can sing?!!? intoned the Count of LaDoubledouche.  With a casual wave of the arm the Marshal smiled and said  Oh yes, all of that, but this time something more!  This time there is no talk of refurbishing the fleet to carry the crusading army, and no chimeral overseas ambitions.

     

    The Marshal held forth.   It seems that the Empress of Gulagia, Sophia IV has taken pity on the poor, morose, despairing Shah Na-Na …   Called the Nattering Nabob of Negativism  broken in the Chevalier Di Petitfours   … and has sent an embassy to the Ikean Court , the Sublime Porte, The seat of the ottomans, the divans of the dervishes, and the Grand Celestial Purple Peacock Throne and Wet Bar of the Seraglio,  too personally try and cheer up the despairing ruler.     While the ebullient, cheery Tzarina is away, his majesty Sangria IV of Spam suggest that we attack Gulagia and catch it unawares, and thereby win a quick victory over it, extracting as a price for our victory some favorable trade concessions, in the form of cookie sales, fleecy mittens, and especially her recipes for tuna noodle casserole.  It also will help Sangria by diverting the one power which has a sympathetic and friendly relations with Ikea, and thereby isolate it, rendering it all the more vulnerable to Sangria s designs.  He then offers that when he has partitioned the land, to toss about a few titles our way, all of which , of course, would go to members of this council, and which would be an admirable enhancement to our incomes.

     

    DuPieces gave his words a few moments to sink in and while visions of baklava and curry, halvah and harem girls danced like sugar plums in their heads, he prepared his riposte for the objections sure to follow.

    He did not have to wait long.

    But it is entirely chimeral!   cried the DucDe Saint Smipleton.  His majesty will never agree, and besides even if he would, which I sincerely doubt, we have not been able to FIND his majesty for a month now. True we can easily find a King in the royal robes wandering around the palace a but inevitably we find it is one of the look-alikes and stand-in s the king has hired to impersonate himself and fool us, allowing him to shirk his royal responsibilities for the joys of quiet family life.  In the end, then we will not be able to get the king s approval so no matter how beneficial, glittering, and attractive the proposal might be, it will all be for naught!   The Count of LaDoubledouche  took up the argument.

    Yes Monsieur Le Marshall! How will you even find the king. He is an expert of disguise, and has been known to go about dressed as a lackey, an officer, a petitioner, one of the cooks, a butler, a chambermaid, even a chamber pot! Why, he might very well be masquerading as Monsier Le Duc de Debacle here…or.. Yourself!

    The Duc de Saint Simpleton began again   Yes Monsieur, in fact, so good are the powers of dissimulation of the king that he might in fact be masquerading as myself right here and I do not have the slightest knowledge of it!  Do you not remember that the last time we actually saw the king was in the matter of the Maitresse en tete?!   The Count of Fleu DeCoupe tugged at the elbow of Le Duc DuDaffi, next to him and said  Pardon Monsieur Le Duc but…

     

    The Duc inclined to the Count and said  It was before your time on the royal council . The king had just started employing about a dozen doubles and dopplegangers to impersonate him. It was a positively chaotic time! The only way we were able to find the king, so good and expert were they disguises of the doubles was that the king had forgotten one detail. That detail was that disguised as the king, these doubles were free to go about doing all the things the king would do in matters of state.  The  false Leonardo s  then began to insist that Le Maitress en tete, provide for them the services the same as for the King.  She naturally objected, and for a long time secretly betrayed to us who was the real king, as she was not willing to provide, how shall I say … umm the companionship.. Which she regularly granted to His Majesty.

     

    Really! But how could she tell the doubles and impersonators apart from the real King?  asked the Count of Fleu De Coupe.

     

    The DucDuDaffi looked at him for a moment while an expression of scorn passed over his face  She used her… um… woman s intuition.

    Ah Merci !   Said the count.

    Recovering his composure the Duc continued again  Yes , it was a good time, a happy time and we set several spies to watch Le Maitresse and see which one of the imposters was turned away with a look of disappointment on his countenance. It worked for a long time, and we would circulate a list each day of the costumes worn by the various imposters so we would know not to waste our time with them. But unfortunately that Idiot DuPieces, left his unattended, and the real king found it.

    What did he do?  the Count eagerly inquired.

    It was quite diabolical. Immediately there were a dozen doubles, look-alikes, and impersonator s the Maitresse En Tete, and so we didn t know who to watch. The doubles of the king were quite happy, and Le Maitresse was quite happy, even the king was happy!

    Yes I imagine he was, being able to continue his policy of royal anonymity and ruling incognito.  said the Count.

    Yes all that, and so good were the doubles of Le Maitresse, that the King himself could hardly tell them apart! Le DucDu Daffi pronounced.

    The count thought for a moment and then said  Oh Mon Dieu, did they have to do the same for the Queen, hiding her among a bevy of doubles?

     

    The Duc laughed  Oh Monsieur, such innocence, such naivete on your part. There was no need fo that at all. The King NEVER visits the queen and begs  favors  from her. In fact anyone doing so , and there have been a few, are immediately dismissed by the king as revealing their  masquerade!  To think! The king visiting the Queen! Mon Die, Sacre Blue, Oh it is too much! You are tres amusant my dear Count!

     

    The conversation had now reduced itself to a general agreement that the project was good, but the problem as one of FINDING Leonardo XV and getting him to agree to it. The Marshall had not lost his serene confidence and said  I have a solution to that!  he said. We can hardly hope to find the king in an expeditious manner, nor even if we did, hope to persuade him to fall in with he plan. However I have hit upon a means to get him to willingly come forward and agree to it, AND, moreover, lead it!

     

    At this the whole council chamber was immediately turned to hysterical laughing and insults as they thought The Marshall quite mad!  However are you going to do that! You know his majesty can hardly be brought to get out of bed in the morning?  and so forth. It was then that the Marshall said . Well, you know his majesty delights in the simple pleasures of family life and eschews the pomp and circumstance of his royal duties. He will eagerly go to the Postmans ball, or sit by the fire-side eating milk and cooquies waiting for Santa with his kids every Christmas.. Well I intend to announce to the King that he has arranged a family picnic in Gulagia for him, his wife, his mistress, Le Douphuss his heir, La Douphussette , his daughter, and his sisters and so forth.  I have, if I might take the presumption of saying so, cleverly put out a circular on the beauties of the landscape and natural wonders of Gulagia and that the Empress of that land has encouraged people to come and enjoy the hospitality of that land. I have also presented this to the Queen and all the Mistress  and it will undoubtably fall into the hands of the king and I imagine that any day now, in fact even this moment, the King, the real king, will arrive, not being able to resist such an intimate and family gathering.

     

    At that very moment, as if on cue, there was a knock at the Council Door, and as it swung open, his Majesty Leonardo XV came into the room and greeted his ministers.  Monsieurs I approve heartily of the picnic.!

     

    Of course it took time, and the king busied himself with menus and entertainments. All behind the scenes were the preparations for the invasion of Gulagia enhanced.  Of course this was all kept from the king who was told that the dedication of a full brigade of wagons was to ensure enough food, supplies and necessaries for the comfort and ease of the court and Royal Family were necessary and the Army itself was to be kept well out of the line of march save for the household cavalry of the King, who would provide a bodyguard.   Ummm I understand the need for wagons, Monsieur Le Marshall,   said the king,  but why are we taking so many troops for a simple picnic?   Sire, it is necessary. Gulagia is a vast land with many lawless sections and the personal safety and security of your majesty is of paramount importance to the Tzarina, as well as to ourselves. It would be an unthinkable international incident were your persons to fall into the hands of such outlawry as abound in these regions!

    Very so   said the King  but is it not possible to avoid such persons?

    It would be the best thing, of all, to do your majesty, but it seems that in Gulagia such persons also provide the local entertainment and quaint peasant dances and songs that the tourists much hanker after and so we are inseparable from them!

    Ah, I see Lord Marshall, I suppose that we would not wish to miss one smidgeon of local color!  I know the Queen is eagerly looking forward to the outing!

    Very well your majesty!

    And so the planning continued, always the king, now visible and totally known to his counselors, eagerly worked on the details fo the picnic, which grew larger and larger and began to consume more and more of the wagons of the army with traveling arrangements and impedimenta, till at last the day drew near. One detail intruded towards the consummation of this effort. It was announced a scant week before the departure date that Madamme De Primpanpreen, the Royal Maitresse en tete was to accompany the expedition! This was an unfortunate eventm, not for the extra baggage and supplies it required, there were already arrangements for sit-down dejeuners sur le herbe for 144, but it engendered an inauspicious event which seemed to cast a pale of impending dread over the whole party.

     

    It was on the day of departure when the King, the Queen, and the whole family were mounting the coaches to depart, when Leonardo, about to enter the coach with the Queen and the Maitresse en tete, turned to Madame Primpanpreen, and turned to her suddenly and said.

    Madamme- You are wearing scent!   You know how I despise scent!

    To this Madamme Primpanpreen retorted tartly  Yes I am wearing scent. I must wear scent. This will be a long journey and you are not in the habit of bathing often, so you stink I have to wear scent!

    The king, overcome with anger then slapped Madamme Primpenpreen whereupon the Maitresse en-tete hauled off and brought the king down with a vicious right hook. He then kicked Madame Primpenpreen and they both went down, struggling, wrestling, slanging at each other like fishwives, rolling around in the mud, dirt, and horse dung. Meanwhile watching on was the rotund Douphuss, the Douphussette, their children, and half the court. They were at last separated but not before the Douphuss was heard to ask  Why is daddy fighting with whore mommy!  1.

     

    Many have seen this as a providential sign that went unheeded as the disaster unfolded.

     

    The journey passed pleasantly as the Royal party, moving in the midst of the Royal army, (which marched incognito around them for a distance of several miles) wended its way to the frontier and then across it. At each stop a luncheon was served and in the Gulagian plains pleasant stops were made at Inns and manor houses of the great nobles.  Here a regular advance guard of two whole battalions of domestics, clean-up crews, maids, janitors, and engineers, ensured that each inn was scrubbed spotless, redecorated with the latest Gulagian gee-gaws filched from the tourist shops, and put on display for the Royal family. Several decorators and even hardened engineering officers of many campaigns had nervous breakdowns when they saw the miserable hovels they had to rehabilitate in 24 hours to be ready for the advent of the royal party. This of course was the palaces of princely estate I am speaking of, the normal Inns were simply razed flat and a whole battalion of engineers erected pre-fabricated inns and outbuildings of impeccable rustic charm to entertain the Royal Family on their perambulations through the Gulagian veldt.

     

    Of this journey we know that neither the Queen or Madamme Primpanpreen were the least taken in by the tergiversatious Inns and hostels, and even the King from time to time noted the odd sameness of them all, being fobbed off with an explanation from Marshal DuPieces, that it was the extreme success of Flouncaisse engineering and the Inn-Management that had captivated the imagination of the Tzarina s  hoteliers  and thus many had been rebuilt to the patterns in the book.  Amazing! Said the King  why they even have the ink spot by my night stand that I dribbled there the first night inadvertently when I woke from a dream!

    Erratta,, your Majesty, the Royal Periodical Service of your Majesty supplies them with all the latest addenda.

    Of the children of Leonardo XV, the trip was a great joy.  His son, his younger child, a pretty precocious boy of eleven years old and six foot circumference, had plenty to eat, and in between those times of shoveling his face and taking apart clocks (which alas he could never put back together) amused himself with his other past time, that of torturing small animals. He relished being able to dismember alive many examples of Gulagian wildlife that came his way, though several wagons of such bucolic victims from Flounce had been brought along just in case. The prince was much taken with the knew knowledge of science and naturalism, and whatever the prince experimented on found its way into the stewpot of the servants. His older sister, a pretty girl of sixteen delighted in dressing up in various costumes such as a milkmaid or shepherdess, or a local Cossack girl or the like. It was to be noted that here costumes tended to be a bit shocking with low decolletage and high hemlines, and her  Shepherdess  costume was reputedly quite risque.  The rather flirtatiousness of the young Douphussette was well noted by the Queen, and Madame Le Primpenpreen, as well as half the army when they visited the latrines and read  For a good time call…..

    The Queen asked Marshall DuPieces if there was a danger to her virtue in such outlandish garb if she was captured by the Gulagians.

    No madame, none whatsoever , however if she chose to go about costumed as one of her sheep neither I nor the entire Household Guards could assure her safety should she be captured by the Gulagians.

    While this royal progression through the southern reaches of Gulagia was under way, the servants of the Tzarina had not been idle. With the Tzarina away the command of the armies of Horse guards, foot guards, massed regiments of Moujiks and swarming Cossacks had been mustering under the command of Prince Peter of Pskov. This rotund boyar, who could match the Doufuss girth for girth, had moved the army to a blocking position at the town of Picknikov. This place offered some advantages of terrain, but had flanks which were wide open, and Prince Peter, it is believed, chose it because of the ironic likeness of name. Stabbing his finger onto the map! (Metaphorically speaking) of course because his arm barely reached beyond his diameter,) It is here he said that we shall give Leonardo a Picnic he will never forget!

     

    And so the disastrous day dawned.  The Marshall had chosen a stout walled enclosure of a garden wall in a small manor for the picnic that day.  When the king asked why two batteries of artillery were loopholing the front wall he was told hat it was for the fireworks to be launched later in the day.  Walking on the wall to admire the board Gulagian landscape they espied off to the left their own Horse Guards and Household troops drawn up in serried ranks. Across the way the Gulagian army was to be seen lining the hills and valleys. When the king asked  Who are those fellows out there?  The King was told that was a large collection of masquers and actors drawn up to represent the enemy army, and there was going to be a grand mock battle given for the families entertainment that day!   Marvelous, Marvelous  said the King! You know I occasionally miss these pleasures of a monarch, but I simply can t stand the stress and strain of the real thing.  Le Douphess asked if he could help the doctors  in the hospitals amputating the limbs of the victims  only to be told that it was not going to be a real battle, but a mock one. But does it matter,  the rotund little prince whined,  I can dissect them anyway! I m sure they, being actors, can produce the most realistic screams!   Marshall DuPieces patted the little tyke on the head and motioned to two of the horse guards in attendance to find a convenient tree for them to tie him to if he should get any ideas of carrying this scheme out.

     

    As the day began, the King, the Queen, Le Maitresse en tete, Le Douphuss, Le Douphousette and others stood on the walkway around the garden as the Horse Guards, Gendarmes, Grand Carabiniers, Mousquetiers du Roi, Le Mousquetiers du Mickey, and several regiments of Hussars swept by the garden walls and on to attack the Gulagian left.

    In tribute to their passing and to return their salutes, the King, the Queen, Le Maitresse en tete, Marshall Du pieces  and Le Douphuss raised their hats.

    Le Douphessette raised her skirts.

    Almost at that moment the whole party were almost swept off their feet by the discharge of the cannon at the loopholes below them, and the King noted  My word, isn t it a bit early to start the fireworks

    No your majesty, you see we have arranged with the actors across the way that their repertoire, their ballet, will be timed by the clever and complex reports of our guns.

    The royal family watched the proceedings for an hour, both on the right and the left, and then retired to have their lunch. When a few cannon balls passed over the enclosure the King was a bit taken aback. He was put to rest by the oily DuPieces who said that it was all in the name of  Verite  and that the actors prided themselves on their craft and were attempting to impress his majesty with their skill.  Unfortunately at one point a canon ball bouncing along the ground struck a large case of bottle of Bordeaume, chiliing for the fish course, and shattered it. The king, seeing this, said  Ah, this wine does not travel well.

    Du Pieces had expected the massed cavalry charge to sweep away the Gulagians in front of him and induce the Gulagian army tp retire thus drawing the curtain closed on  The Masque

    . Alas, it was not so and as the day wore on he was continually exercised in his wits to come up with explanations of why the Gualgian Masque was still going on.

    I say Du Pieces, those fellows are making an awful lot of racket over there  said the king.

    Sire, the actors insist that no diminution or abridgement of their craft can be allowed, they have their pride they say..

    But couldn t they take a break, an intermission, a recess, after all we aren t watching them now but trying to eat our lunch.  Questioned the king.

    Sire, that would be the custom with our Flouncaisse actors, but you see here in Gulagia, the opportunities for the actors are so few and far between, and   they are paid by the hour  to keep body and soul together they must work as much as they can.

    Really!?   The King said in surprise.  Is that so!   you mean they are not paid by the performance?

    Yes sire, it s the Union rules. And think of all the little moujiks and moujikas that will go hungry if you recess their performance.

    Well My Lord Marshall, if it s for the little Mouniks and Moujikas;…

    And so the battle wended through it s day until at last the Marshall could no longer hope for a Victory. Still he did not wish to give up the fond hopes he had treasured in the morning.

    Then at last the whole affair collapsed into ruins in front of Du Pieces eyes.

    Le Douphesette came running into the royal presence, dragging a handsome young man in a uniform the King did not recognize. She stopped in front of the king and said, breathlessly,

    Daddy Daddy, I met this really handsome hunky guy…

    Madamme Primpanpreein said in shock  Child! Your, decolletage, your skirts, your umm arrondismont.

    The young ingenue looked down and noticed and smoothed down her skirts, adjusted her neckline as best she could and put her hat on aright.  Daddy Daddy, this guy is from the Tzarina s Guard of the Cheval! He was telling me…

    What!   said the king in astonishment!  Do you mean he is not one of the actors!

    No Daddy, he s an officer in the Gulagian Army, in fact in the Tsarina s Guard of the Cheval!

    What is the meaning of this Du Pieces  demanded the king!

    Well sire, well, ere ah… let me explain…

    Daddy anyway he , I mean Boris here, was telling me that in the time of the former Tzarina she had this horse…

    Not now child!   The King said with impatience.  What is going on here! This is no picnic!  This is a real battle! Sir you have gotten me into a battle! You know how I abhor battle!

    Du Pieces was flabbergasted and began to defend himself in fluent Flouncaisse but soon under the yammering and bantering of the king began to lapse into his native dialect of Perdue,

    Umm ere ah.. hammena-hammena-hammena…

    Daddy, anyway Boris said they would winch up this horse…

    The Queen clamped her hand over the mouth of  Le Douphoussette and said  Not now dearest, Daddy s busy administering a royal reaming to the Marshall.

    At this point Le Doufuss himself came waddling up with a basket of parts from some animals and said  I found the loveliest squirrels legs, anyone want one!?

    Distracted by the intrusion of the Douphesss the King said  Umm not now my son, maybe later with desert. Then turning to The Marshall he said  I am leaving! You have played me very false Lord Marshall, and I shall not forget this! Your Majesty, Madame Primpanpreen, come we shall retire!

    The queen released her grasp on the Douphessette.

    Daddy, then Tzarina would…

    And so the army began to retire.

    Come daughter, do not bother your father with such things…  said the Queen…

    As the picnic began to break up and follow the army in retreat, the King was so angry he could not even be bothered to clap DuPieces in irons.

    His daughter said to Madame Primpenpreen

    Do you think Daddy will let me have a horse all of my own?

    I don t think so   the Maitresse un tete said, I think he s to occupied right now.

    Daddy, Boris followed me home! Can I keep him!  she said plaintively.

    He ll probably be cheaper than the horse.  Madame Primpenprean grumbled.

    The girl smiled and said  Yes, and we won t even have to winch him up!

     

    1. The story of the King and Queen and the Kings Mistress traveling in the same coach and the affair of the scent is a true one, but it is from Louis XIV and the Mistress was Athene de Montespan. History is replete with such actions so when you are tempted to dismiss such things, do not. Just imagine ole Le-etat cest moi,…  rolling around in the mud wressling with his doxy while the queen looked on.

     

    Napoleon was turned on by such oders. Once from the front he sent Josephine a letter announcing he would be back in Paris for a few weeks, and told her Do not bathe.

     

    Such my children is the influence of sex upon the great.

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