Saturday, September 12, 2009

I am a Wargamer

What's wargaming?

Wargaming is a hobby that involves using painted lead soldiers, models, dice, and rulers to recreate historical, fantasy, or sci-fi battles. There are two very different aspects of the hobby. One half is the collecting and painting of the figures. The other half is the fighting of the battles. I've been wargaming since the mid 90's. This includes both friendly matches and tournaments.

What does wargaming have to do with Eternal Knight?

The novel is a fantasy novel, and as such includes elements of magic and the supernatural. However, I like to think of it as an uber-realistic and gritty fantasy novel. The willing suspension of disbelief is tremendously important to me. I want you to believe in what is happening on the page. This is especially important in action and battle sequences. As soon as the reader frowns at the novel and says, "That can't happen!" the writer has lost. Wargaming has been hugely helpful to me in two ways.

First of all it has made me very well versed in the history of warfare and military technology. A history nut will recognize that I've set the technology level of the novel at approximately 1350 CE (in Western Europe). I chose that technology level, and I stuck to my guns. You won't find wildly incongruous combinations of weapons and armor. I once read a fantasy novel in which one of the protagonists (unarmored and wielding a rapier) defeated a plate armor clad knight. Of course he won because the knight was so encumbered by his armor that he could barely move. AARRGG! It was a ridiculous depiction of what this combat would have looked like in real life. If armor so encumbered knights that they could be defeated in such a manner, knights never would have worn so much armor.

Wargaming has also helped me understand the big picture of a battle. The rules include elements such as morale and fatigue. Fantasy novels are filled wiht armies fighting to the death. Except in rare circumstances, this just doesn't happen. Fear and fatigue take a terrible toll on armies. Self-preservation is a powerful motivator--I don't care if you are a human, a goblin, or a dragon. Now, sometimes in history a unit has managed to fight its way out of impossible odds. It happens in wargaming as well. But when it happens in a book, the author needs to work twice as hard and make me BELIEVE IT!

If you'd like to take a look at some of my historical wargaming tournament battles just follow this link.