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Simlasa

A Clockwork of Orange bibliography and tropes?

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So I got the first installment of the Clockwork of Orange campaign last week and I've been reading it through.

It does have a good chunk of historical and quasi-historical detail, but I'm finding that 17th century Germany isn't a setting/era that I quite 'get'... yet. I'm not at all sure what the 'tropes' are.

Like, I can riff on the 'Wild West' and vaguely medieval England all day long... but the Holy Roman Empire isn't something I've got a visual or fictional mental reference library for. Names and places are things I have to look up to get anything close to authentic in atmosphere.


Any suggestions for literature, movies, comics... or entertaining historical overviews of the setting?

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The Last Valley - Michael Caine in decent form as a mercenary captain in the Thirty Years War. There haven't been many depictions of that war in film so you'll be hard pressed to find anything else in English, Might want to take a look at Cromwell for another period piece but that's English Civil War, same period just not set in Europe, A Field in England is interesting but probably a bit weird for a representation of the period (it's ECW again). Witchfinder General (Conqueror Worm in the US) for another period piece that could easily be transported to Europe although again it's 17th century England (East Anglia - the low-lying bit that sticks out towards Europe on the right hand side of England). There might be some Polish films of the period, you'd have to check as many will feature the wars against the Russians rather than anything more European.

The British Film Institute rates some 17th century set films as well.

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Thanks for links.

One movie I've turned up is a comedy, The Emperor And The Golem. I think comedies can be helpful for getting at the broader strokes.

Edited by Simlasa

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Really an excellent question!

I didn't suspect the Thirty Years War existed until I stood in the Old Square of Prague in 2013 wondering what the 27 crosses painted there represented.  The Thirty Years War hasn't gotten much play in English, though the daughter of King James, Elizabeth, was a key participant.  It is therefore more difficult for modern folk to assemble a coherent picture.  That is also a great opportunity for writers in English, to popularize what was never popular.  Fascinating histories to unearth!

I have hundreds of books on the subject, most of them historical.  Peter H. Wilson, R.J.W. Evans, C.V. Wedgewood are just a few of the great historians who wrote about the period.  I also really like "The Sleepwalkers" by Arthur Koestler, which underscores the changes going on in the cosmology of the times with the likes of Brahe, Kepler, Galileo.  Giordano Bruno said it best when he recognized the implications of Copernicus' heliocentric theory in asking the question, "which way is up?"  The whole picture of the universe that comforted people in the middle ages was quickly fading away, but not without a struggle!  Bruno was burned at the stake for heresy in 1600.

From a literature perspective, one of the very first novels, Simplicissimus, written by Johann Grimmelshausen in 1668, is all about The Thirty Years War.  This was also a period of enormous literary achievement in England - the Alchemist, by Ben Jonson, and The Tempest, by Shakespeare, were both written and performed about the time of the story (I rather liked Helen Mirren as "Prospera" in the 2012 movie version).  Don Quixote was published in 1605, the Man of La Mancha of musical fame..   

From an art perspective, this is the time of the Dutch Masters - Rembrandt, Steen, Vermeer and Hals - will really give you a flavor for the times.  Rembrandt's heads of Jesus didn't come from Greek art, Hercules, but rather from the Sephardic Jews who were his neighbors in Amsterdam.

Music - well, hearing The Ring of the Nibelung, an abbreviated one night version, in Vienna, still lingers.  The overture to Das Rheingeld was what came to me when I was travelling up the Rhine from Amsterdam to Switzerland.

From a more modern perspective, I really enjoyed the 2005 movie The Headsman by Simon Aeby.  Gives you a good flavor of the times, leaves a mark!  Here is a link to 10 movies set in the 17th century you might want to consider, though some will doubtless be difficult to obtain:

http://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/news-bfi/lists/10-great-films-set-17th-century

There are also any of Oliver Potzch's novels (e.g., The Hangman's Daughter) to consider, the Captain Alatriste series (also a movie with Viggo Mortensen in the title role) by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, and the somewhat erotic Witch of Cologne by Tobsha Learner.

But I tend to elaborate based on historical sources.  Mad Princes of the Renaissance by H.C. Eric Midelfort made me realize there was a lot of cray-cray and therefore Cthulhu potential in the 17th century.  Neil Gaiman has an entertaining book entitled Norse Mythology and unashamedly admits he was a huge fan of the Thor comics.  Me too!  There was even a series of them on the Ring of the Nibelung, in comic form.  Excelsior!

Hope you visit the Rhineland itself some day and view the shattered castles overlooking the river, particularly Heidelberg!  This all happened, but German history beyond the World Wars was never much part of the Anglo curriculum.

Edited by Julich1610
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You should read 'Warwolf: A Peasant Chronicle of the Thirty Years War', by Hermann Lons. It's historical fiction set in Germany and translated to English. It's given me some great detail and seeds. https://www.amazon.com/Warwolf-Peasant-Chronicle-Thirty-Years/dp/1594160260 (Make sure to get some fruit from the trees lol, you'll know what i mean if you read it)

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Saw "The Day of Wrath" tonight on Amazon Video.  What is really interesting to me is that the beautiful, young wife in the movie, the luminous Lisbeth Movin, became the old widow in the film version of Babette's Feast, based on the book by Isak Dinesen.  In fact, it seems the director Gabriel Axel of Babette's Feast rounded up the survivors of Carl Theodore Dreyer's films, "The Day of Wrath" among them, to be his dark and gloomy villagers so memorably well-fed.  There is also an oblique, tributary reference to "Babette's Feast" in The Heydelberg Horror.      

Edited by Julich1610
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There is a short piece in the prologue of The Alchemist's Revenge set in the conflict, but I'd be wary of encouraging the author too much by buying the book :)

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On 23.7.2017 at 4:23 PM, Julich1610 said:

Hope you visit the Rhineland itself some day and view the shattered castles overlooking the river, particularly Heidelberg!  This all happened, but German history beyond the World Wars was never much part of the Anglo curriculum.

Unfortunately, the German role-playing scene isn't very good at exploiting my home-country's rich history either. Example: This adventure by an Englishman, Warhammer RPG - THE German background Fantasy RPG -  by English authors. There is supposed to be HeXXen 1733 by Ulisses in the works (since 2015 ...) which is based on a Thirty Years War that simply went on and on and on but that's about it. Here an there a scenario, a lot of VERY historically accurate researched material for Cthulhu but nothing that really takes German history and uses it as a background.

A pity - because I could easily give you a list of very interesting periods and topics:

1. The Legend of Arminius - fight the Romans in the Teutoburg Forest and adventure in free Germania

2. Siegfried - Norse mythology German style with larger-than-life-heroes, including the barbarian migration period

3. The Reign of Charlemagne - as mythic or realistic as you wish

4. Kurland - a campaign/ game set in the Baltics based on the explots of the Deutsche Orden (crusaders of the East)

5. A Mighty Fortress - a game set in the Reformation, Peasant's War and the Kingdom of the Anabaptistes in Münster - or defending Vienna against the Turks

6. Überall ist Krieg - a Thirty Years War campaign

7. At the King's Service - a "musketeer" campaign in service of Frederick the Great

8. Blood is red, powder is black, golden shines the light of FREEDOM! - a rather diverse setting starting with the fight for liberty against the occupying Napoleonic French and getting a mystery/ espiongae setting after the reactionary restauration leadng to the Vormärz Revolution in 1848 for a united and democratic Germany. Maybe more tha one setting

9. Berlin 1880 - a "Victorian" setting. Just in this case it is "Wilmeninean"! Can also include adventure set in the Wild West and the Near and Far East, emulation the greta stories of Karl May, a period pulp author still quite popular and well known in Germany (there are dozens of German movies from the 1960s, all Christmas classics!).

10. The Great War - fighting and espionage from the german perspective

11. The Golden 20s - were not so Golden in Berlin but there you have all and everything (street fighting, organized crime of te Ringvereine, canibal killers etc) for a Pulp campaign

12. Spaniens Himmel The Thälmann Battaillon was the biggest of the International Brigades fighting for the Spanish Republic

13. Das unsichtbare Visier - actually the title of an East German Espionage TV-series ("The invisible visor") but the cold war is of course part of German history. Take teh part of the Bundesnachrichtendienst or the Stasi and fight the good fight for Democracy - or Socialism!

14. Tatort - "crime scene" is the title of the most popular crime/ detective TV-series in Germany running since 1970 every Sunday!

Alas! We have NONE of it. Why? I don't know.

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Yes, know about it. And as soon as it hits the store-shelves in dead-tree I will most certainly throw my hard-earned €uros Kaiser Karls's way! Looks great and I always liked the Pendragon system!

BTW: TSR published a Charlemagne sourceboo for AD&D 2nd Edition back in the 90s, as they did A Mighty Fortress for the 16th and 17th century ans several others (Romans, Celts, Greeks, Vikings). I did also hear that there are plans for The Devils Playground for All for One (Ubiquity), featuring the Thirty Years War.

I just wanted to inform you all that German topics in rpg are usually dealt with by people outside Germany. Maybe because Das Schwarze Auge and Cthulhu dominate the considerably smaller German-speaking market - and/or historical settings don't sell that well. But dunno for sure, really.

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49 minutes ago, Der Rote Baron said:

I did also hear that there are plans for The Devils Playground for All for One (Ubiquity), featuring the Thirty Years War.

That would be interesting. I enjoy the Ubiquity system as used in Desolation. I've never played All for One though. If that comes out, I will have to look into it.

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The thing that befuddles me most, is the complex arrangement of nobility, family, factions, etc... interconnected across Europe.
Having grown up in the U.S. it's something I have no intuition about... no faculty for making up anything that would feel even vaguely authentic or plausible.

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You could look at how many of the political families of the US are linked and how many people get jobs in the various state and federal government departments  based on who they are related to. It's pretty much the same thing.

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The thing that makes it so bewildering and maybe less approachable for writers and story-weavers (be that for books, TV-series or game adventures) than for example British or French history is the fact that the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation has no capital or center as such. Even the head of the whole affair, the Kaiser, has nowhere as muc influence as the English or French king - although he has formally a much higher noble rank as emperor and "heir" to the Roman title Ceasar!

He is not a heritary lord of the realm - he is voted into office by the electors who are dukes, margraves and bischophs in title but actually really like kings of their territories. The "realm" itself is like the EU-border - defendable against outside aggression but flexible when it comes to getting occupied by foreign powers. Thus parts where actually (at some point) ruled by the Danish, French or Swedish kings but were still (not just as a make-believe-exercise) part of the Reich and the mentioned kings part of the nobility as princes of the Reich - and just "happened" to be also kings of some other territory. When they tried to connect their territories in the Reich with their state outside it the Emperor as keeper of the Reich would declare war against the offending prince and would gather troops (with the help of other nobles, the electors in the front-line) and defend the integrity of the Reich. Did not always work out that way (see: Netherlands; see: Switzerland) but even the Deutsche Bund did exactly that to Denmark in 1866 (even after the dissolution of the Reich) when Denmark wanted to integrate Holstein and Schleswig to form a compact state.

So, you have hundreds of great and small noble houses, a weak or not so weak Kaiser (e.g. Karl V. was Kaiser of the Reich, holding Austria as Arch-Duke, Burgundy, Belgium and  the Netherlands as Duke,was King of Castille and Aragon, and King of (respectively) Sardinia, Naples, Navarra and Sicily - and lord over the Spanish territories in America) , a realm that consists of 683 (!) territories, counties, sovereignities, Free Cities, clerical dominions etc. - each with different laws and sovereigns. Plus: They were also interconnected multiple times and organized in different estades of the Empire with a voice in the Reichstag, the parliamnet of the Empire.

In contrast, the conspiracies in "Game of Thrones" are "Realm-Making 101" for absolute beginners in regard to everyday affairs in the Reich!

That was the Real "Game of (the Kaiser's) Throne"!

Edited by Der Rote Baron
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Reich.thumb.jpg.bf52341e649ff508f6ce99413e0c160b.jpgIt is a daunting task, even approaching the complexity of the Realm known as The Holy Roman Empire.  In fact, I purchased Realm Works from Lone Wolf Development to help organize the material.  This flag helped me understand the top of the hierarchy - the Emperor and the Imperial Electors:

At the center is the double-headed eagle, arms of the Habsburg Emperors; next, at one o'clock, the Archbishop of Mainz; at 3 o'clock, the Archbishop of Trier; at 5 o'clock, the Count Palatine of the Rhine; at 6 o'clock, the Duke of Saxony; at 7 o'clock. the Margrave of Brandenburg; at nine o'clock, tat 9 o'clock, the King of Bohemia; and at 11 pm, the arms of the Archbishopric of Koln.

Easy, huh?  There will be a pop quiz.  

 

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Nice picture.

Only one thing: The Double Eagle is the Coat of Arms of the Reich and the Kaiser as its representative, not in that sense of the "Habsburg Emperors".

It does not matter if the Kaiser is from the noble house of the Habsburg, any other Kaiser would bear the same coat of arms. It just "happened" that most of the time a candidate of the House of Habsburg got elected as Kaiser (often he then made sure that his son and heir was elected "King in Germany" - the Kaiser was "elected Roman Emperor" - thus keeping the right to the august crown within the family).

The Coat of Arms of Habsburg / House of Austria is a red rampant lion with a blue crown walking/ looking left on a yellow/ golden shield. And on the crown feathers of a peacock. The Arch-Duchy of Austria has the colors red-white-red, sometimes combined with some elemnts of the Habsburg Coat of Arms since House Habsburg - Austrian Side ruled Austria (the other branch ruled Spain, sometimes both were connected - see: Karl V).

Another side-note to the "Arch-Dukes" of Austria: Actually, originally there wasn't such a title like arch-duke. The Duke of Austria usurped/ invented it for himself hi elevate his standing because he felt miffed because of his lower status in comparison to the Electors. By "becoming" Arch-Duke, he was more than any other noble in the Reich but almost on par with the Electors. And when elected Kaiser FAR MORE than they were.

 

All rather simple, neh? But as the German expert in constitutional law akob Moser said so aptly in the 18th century:

"Germany is governed in the German way, and in such a way that no scholastic word or very few words or the way of governing of other states can really make understand our way of ruling."

A little bit like the European Union, but waaaay cooler. And it worked for about 900 years through all kinds of crisises, catastrophies and wars.

 

Hope to see the sencond part of the triology real soon, Jülich! :)

Edited by Der Rote Baron
typos
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Working on it, Baron!  These things take time and not my day job, alas!  Much progress has been made, nonetheless.

Prepare for a boat ride down the Rhine from Heydelberg to Koln, where political turmoil, guild clashing with guild in the Alter Markt and Rathaus, and supernatural horror, confraternities not what they seem, await in the Free Imperial City where nothing except the air is free.

My ancestors took that ride all the way from the Palatine to Rotterdam, at the invitation of William Penn, following the devastation wrought by the Sun King, thence to the new world.  It was a great pleasure for their descendant to take the boat the other way!

Hope you will find it worth the wait...

Edited by Julich1610
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Oh, so you are in the Colonies! thought you were from Blighty. I live at the Ruhr - so that is a mere 50-60 km (Cologne is 80) from the campaign setting.

Nice to adventure close at home. ;)

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You should definitely add Highroad to the Stake by Michael Kunze to the list of books.  It deals with actual historical events in Munich 1600 but told in a way that brings to mind the life of those times, particularly the lives of the destitute for the most part, who lacked title and often hope.

Edited by Julich1610
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