Monday, 28 November 2016

Albion


Albion

Land of mists and fogs, of bogs and marshes. 

A land of magic, lay lines, stone circles and druids. 

Probably.

Who knows?

Certainly GW were never able to make up their minds it seems. The mist and fogs weren't just literal but figurative as well, obscuring the true nature and even the true shape of this mysterious isle. Or is it groups of isles?






No. It's just one big island with a little island.



Sorry, I was more right the first time.

I think.

At least we know where it is.....



Erm.....


Anyway....

Albion is a nice idea, the analogue of the British isles playing up to the wacky old hippy image of a magical archipelago at the edge of the civilised world, wreathed in magic and mystery and keeping the magical root of the pagan ancestry of the continent alive on its uncivilised fringe.
The image of the celtic pagan and their closeness with the earth, their sky clad warriors charging into battle with their woad covered faces and their mud stiffened hair. The image has always differed to the invading barbarians from the east (think Goths, Huns Vandals etc) because they were the aboriginal race. They were there first, they are of the land, they were born of it, unlike the civilised race that came after, The Romans. More of that connection later.


Still, this wouldn't be Warhammer if GW had always stuck with the one image of a thing.

Probably the most famous diversion to the land of Albion was to play out the Tragedy of McDeath. 

For those of you that don't know, GW used to make lovingly detailed boxed sets that contained all you needed to run a series of battles in a short linked campaign. Everything except miniatures that is. 

McDeath was a series of four battles (five if you count the one published in white dwarf) with a distinctly Scottish feel and citadel were kind enough produce a miniatures range that you could purchase to play the games with.




The Clansmen in particular were cartoon variations on the traditional highlander trope with their beards and kilts and big bunnets.
What McDeath also tells us is a little bit about the kind of creatures inhabiting the mysterious Isles. As well as hairy humans you have plenty of Orcs (although as these are mostly mercenaries, they could have been imported from the mainland), Giants, Treemen, Dwarfs and the occasional Halfling.
The next visit to the Isles that we can focus on was when GW started to dabble in the world of publishing novels. Storm warriors by Brain Craig is set in the lands of Albion, more specifically the isle of Morien. It's part of the Orfeo trilogy which take the form of the titular hero telling his tall tales to his captor. In this story he tells the tale of the young King Herla and his attempt to save his kingdom from disaster when a group of mysterious elves are washed upon his shores.
It explains in the novel that Albion is divided up into small kingdoms with tribes ruling over them. If you know anything about the way Ireland was governed by many kings in the past then you'll get the general gist. White Dwarf produced some further background and stats (for WFRP) for several of the characters and the illustrations show the Albionions (??) as noble savages, the look of the celt. the wild men at the edge of the old world.

King Herla
Transplanting this onto the rest of the isles then you have a group of petty kingdoms with various capitals, possibly hill forts rising up form the bogs and the mists, fortified against the dangers and the enemies of the tribe, roads leading off to connect with the other capitals around the island.



Some natives came over to the Old world sometime later in the shape of Bologs and Cachtorr alongside Hengus the Druid. These were part of the Dogs of war range and like all the units from that august period came with a lovely little backstory. This one was based around the attempted invasion of Albion by the Tilean (he was from Remas you know, nudge, nudge) Curious Geaser (i'll wait......got it? Good. Told you i'd get back to the roman connection eventually). The giants were taken from Albion as hostages but escaped and began rampaging across Tilea, any general worth his salt would try and hire them as you'd expect. What the little story does do is reinforce the idea that Albion is populated by savage tribes and that Druids perform their magical duties in war alongside any giants that fancy a fight. 



The next installment in the flirtation with Albion was actually a campaign setting. Dark shadows took the form of a set of rules for fighting a campaign in Albion. You could add a druid and other bits and bobs to your armies (normal warhammery ones I'm afraid) as they fought to gain control of the ley lines that crisscrossed the island.  The back story explains that Albion is a magical island and that the standing stone circles are linked by powerful lines of magic. The Slann had used the Island as a control system for the warp gates at the poles of the world. This was the reason folk were fighting over poor old Albion again. From what I remember there was a good Druid and a bad Druid model released and they could both summon the Fen beast to do their bidding.



So. Albion. A group of Islands off the coast of Norsca and North West of the Old world. The island is divided into petty Kingdoms ruled from hill forts that rise out of the bogs and the forest which swirl with dank mists and impenetrable fogs. The people are savage and brutal, loyal to their tribe and to their king. The druids provide guidance and control the immense amount of magic that travels between ancient rings of standing stones. In between these dots of civilization Giants roam the land, fighting and throwing rocks at passing ships, roaring their savage war-cry's across the hills. Dwarfs have settled in places to mine the minerals that the land hoards and Orcs raid the coast and have many rough-hewn settlements on the coasts. Old worlders come to explore and trade with the northern savages and the Norse do likewise when it suits them, raiding and pillaging when it doesn't. Deep in the mists and fogs a secretive and monstrous race prey on the men of the Hillforts. Appearing with out warning and dissapearing with victims who's screams can be heard through the gloom. Some of the western tribe call the Fomorians. The old worlders call them Fimir.







(Well? Where the hell else do you think they live? You didn't believe that crap about them living near Marienburg did you?)

7 comments:

  1. Great post, was always fascinated by Albion as well as Ind and Nippon

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  2. Nice post! Some me some Albion lore. Course the fimir are from Albion. You get some lesser tribes on the mainland, but the real deal hails from geographically inconsistent Albion.

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  3. Fabulous post and a real trip down memory lane for some of the stuff. Thanks a million.

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  4. Of course Fimir are from Albion - it explains why GW did bugger-all with them for decades until recent years.

    Very nicely written mate. Trip down memory lane for sure.

    I want some spindly giants now....

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  5. Wonderful post with great history. Back in the day, Storm Warriors was my favourite WHFB novel. It always reminded me of a game of Mighty Empires.
    Anyway, thanks for posting those maps of Albion... they are great.

    And I have one nugget to add to your history of Albion. One of the early (1985) scenarios written by Rick Priestly for the prototype of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay was called "The Web of Eldaw". It was set in Albion too:

    http://www.oldenhammer.com/2014/09/the-web-of-eldaw-first-warhammer.html

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    1. Fantastic bit of extra trivia there, what a gem. Ta very much.

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  6. Great part of history!
    Thanks a lot!

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