Campaigning on Valkae (Elaine’s Version)
“Menalippe of Asteria here presents her research so that all that has happened to the Valkae might not fade from memory. May the great and wonderful deeds of the Amazons and the barbarian nations of men be sung, as well as the causes that led them to make war upon one another.” – The Histories of Menalippe (986)
Why write a campaign guide to Valkae? The answer is simple, because I’m anal. We all have visions of what mythical places and events are like. It is often the first person who writes about a mythical place that sets the tone for the body of literature that follows.
Tolkien’s masterpieces are a great example. He set the tone for fantasy adventuring in a Northern European-type world with civilizations like those found in the poems and sagas of the ninth and tenth centuries. I’ve also read and edited RPGs where the author’s imagination included things that were so far out of character that there was no way I could suspend my belief enough to enjoy reading or playing the adventure. Prime examples are Old West manuscripts I’d been asked to edit where Texas Rangers befriend Indians. It just didn’t happen. Where buffalo hunters happen to have a cannon left over from the civil war and assault ranch houses where ranch hands and Indians are defending buffalo from the hunters. It just didn’t happen. I realize that in this age of political correctness people are eager to fantasize a world where indigenous cultures and natural resources are defended, but even a fantasy world needs to be plausible.
One of my favorite games jumped the shark when they announced that the all female faction of warriors were getting an elite cavalry unit, the sable guard. The game is set in icy Northern lands and I envisioned noble cavalry women wearing sable hats and cloaks lined with elaborate fur. Instead they sculpted women riding giant weasels. And the weasel sculpts are hideous.
So what does all of that mean? That means that I like the Amazons of Greek myth and I don’t want to game a fantasy world filled with women in chain mail bikinis riding saber-toothed cats and unicorns that can’t reason beyond “all men must die.” Valkae is a Greek world that has been isolated from the rest of the world. Valkae is a huge island continent and should include a diversity of peoples and cultures. So maybe if I write it first, bikini clad women riding giant mutant weasel-rats won’t become the official mode of transportation on Valkae.
When you first look at the map of Talomir, you see the island of Valkae in the Kimean Sea. If you are looking at the map in RRtK (Rally Round the King) and have read the army lists where the Amazon army of Valkae is equivalent to a Classical Greek army, then the island Valkae becomes reminiscent of Sicily and the Syracuse campaign during the Peloponnesian War. However, that is not the case. Talomir is a huge place. The map lulls you into making comparisons with Europe and Africa, but the land is much, much bigger.
I asked “How big is Valkae?” on the Two Hour Wargames group site. When Warrior Heroes: Armies and Adventures (WH:AA) came out, Ed placed additional maps of Talomir in the files section of the group site. These maps had hexes on them. Well, gamers being gamers, we asked Ed how big were the hexes? Ed replied that they are 75 miles from one side to its opposite side.
The maps only showed partial views of Valkae. Sean Squires was kind enough to overlay two of the maps & produce a map of Valkae complete with the dimensions in miles and kilometers. I’ll always be thankful for Sean’s work & the files are still in a folder on the Two Hour Wargames group. And not only maps of Valkae, but also of many other parts of Talomir.
Valkae’s size made me rethink how I wanted to game in the world of Talomir. There was now no need to raid & make war on nations across the sea. Indeed, with the current level of technology in Talomir, it takes a full day with good winds for a Trireme to row to the nearest land mass. The distances are so large that any fleet that dared to attack Valkae would have to be committed to victory, because they would need to rebuild their ships to be able to return home. So the Amazons have to campaign on Valkae itself.
There are other peoples living on Valkae. Some have been subjugated by the Amazons, some have not. The Amazons arrived on Valkae at the beginning of the current era. They originated on the steppes of present day Hykar. At the end of the great war, most of the Amazons chose to sail for Valkae rather than be absorbed into the Tropilium Empire, which was at its height at the end of the great war. The ancient Amazon form of government was done in threes, there have always been three queens. The original queens were daughters of the Nymph Harmonia & Arpoxais, a chieftain of a tribe of Horse Lords.
Valkae is divided into three parts, one for each of the Amazon queens that arrived in the first year, Asteria, Nica, & Latona. Asteria & Nycenae are separated by Valkae’s longest river, Planetakore (“the Wandering Maiden”). Asteria & Nycenae are separated from Latona by one of the highest mountain ranges in Talomir, the Slumbering Dragons. There have been no reliable passages through the mountains found to date. Travel to & from Latona has to be done by sea.
After the great war, the Amazons were not the only ones to seek new lands. Many dragons were exiled to slumber on Valkae. The Valkae Amazons claim that the island was given to them by the dragons on condition that the Amazons guard the land & tend the land while the dragons slumber.
So there is a lot to be fleshed out on Valkae. There are forests which are home to Wood Elves, feral Beastmen, & other creatures. The hills are filled with tribesmen who oppose the rule of the Amazons. There are centaur living on the plains. In the mountains, there is a small colony of escaped Dwarven slaves & sightings of Rodentmen.
Who knows, there may even be a giant mutant weasel-rat capable of being ridden… I hope not.