"Most countries have an army. Raubenstadt is an army that has a country."
von Sinsheim, Imperial Knight
I've been fooling around with wargaming ever since my fellow third grader, Matt Lore brought some of his 20mm plastic Greek figures to show and tell in 1963. They were different from my beloved "Armymen"; for instance my little sister hadn't chewed on them, and there were rules. No rubber band barrages, no dirt clod bombs - dicerolls governed how far they moved, how well they fought, what casualties they suffered. It was all very exciting and heady stuff. We had just studied the Trojan War, and the general conclusion of Mrs. Hawk's class was if the Trojans were dumb enough to tear down their gate to admit the horse, they deserved what happened to them! If only King Piram had had one of Mrs. Hawk's bloodthirsty little devils to advise him, Homer might have told a different story.
Fast forward four years. I came across a copy of Joe Morchauser's "How To Play Wargames" in the school library. Multiple troops mounted on "stands" brought into focus fuzzy concepts like tactics, strategy, and army organization. In the theater of my mind the clash of sword on shield was replaced by rolling vollies of musket fire, and the rumble of passing tank columns. The entire panoply of military history lay at my feet. (Joe had provided Jack Scruby's address in the back of his book; and Mini-tanks and Airfix guys could be purchased, within reason, at Dad's favorite Hobby Store on the Southside of Indianapolis.)
High School came around and other interests beckoned. (Cars and girls, or was it girls and cars? It depended on the moment, state of my finances, and a lot of other variables.) The wargaming stuff was boxed and stored away, yet the seed of the idea remained.
In college (again at the library), I came across Charles Grant's "The Wargame", and all the pieces that had been stewing around fell into place. Inspired by his writings and those of Peter Young, I came up with the idea of "Raubenstadt", a petty German state of the 18th Century.
Raubenstadt is loosely (very, very loosely) based upon the ol' Meltzer ancestral stomping grounds of Heidleburg in Baden. The main premise is that at some time during the Thirty Year's War, a band of refugee mercenaries stumbled across a power vaccum and promptly filled it. The local citizens could not resist the power grab, and eventually resigned themselves to the situation. (This plot line brought to you by "The Last Valley", starring Michael Caine and Omar Sharif.) So there they are; armed to the teeth, hard to get to, supported by the locals, and not worth the effort to root them out.
The years roll on....Raubenstadt gains a measure of respectability, as the line of robber barons, now take the title, "The Markgraaf of Raubenstadt". They eventally discover the delights and profits to be gained from taxation rather than raiding. ("It's good to be the Markgraaf!" - Mel Brooks.) Although the "old ways" die hard. The barge traffic up and down the Rubberneckar River does have to deal with a tricky passage, but no one will admit to fiddling with the channel marker buoys, so accidents happen frequently, and Raubenstadt has very liberal "salvage laws" on the books. (This plot line brought to you by "How the West Was Won", particularly Walter Brenan's character.)
The next time I'll outline some of my cast of characters and give some detail to the armed forces that follow the Markgraaf. In the meantime, since this whole "Nobility" thing is still a work in progress as far as the Markgraaf is concerned, two slogans are under consideration for the coat of arms. 1. "If he wanted a fair fight, he should have gone somewhere else." - ("Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean", starring Paul Newman. )
2. "Let the wind out of him. Shove a rock in, and roll him over the side in deep water." - ("Rob Roy", starring Liam Neeson.)
Does anybody know how that would translate into Latin?