For those of you who don’t pay attention to such things Monday was: Samahain if you are a Pagan, All Hallows Eve (or All Saints Eve) if you are a Christian, and Halloween if you just like dressing up and convincing people to give you sweets…
So though Wednesday’s Arcane Scenery posts are generally about history, we thought that we might celebrate this most auspicious festival with some Halloween and wargames connections. (Okay I wanted a semi legitimate reason to talk zombies).
Since zombies are in mind, we might as well start with these little brain munchers. Aside from obviously being quite a hefty component of our fantasy based friends’ games and the only good part of Call of Duty: World at War, they could play a role in a one-off spookier game. The Wargames Factory Zombie Horde (for zombies always travel in hordes) though looking quite 21st century in the picture below, could be painted to play some more three dimensional Nazi Zombies.
Don’t try brain eating at home folks. Aside from not being very tasty, a gamut of fatal prion diseases such as Kuru await you.
Keeping on the Nazi theme Hitler is long suspected to have had quite an obsession with the occult, and Von Ribbentrop seems to have had no problem believing that the Führer might give him some orders after he had shot himself . Certainly, despite a hatred for all things non blonde and blue eyed, he had no issue with appropriating the Hindu swastika and a gamut of other religious symbolism. Of course as all Indiana Jones fans know, Nazis spent a staggering amount of time hunting around the Middle East looking for the Ark of the Covenant and the Spear of Destiny (no not that one) – it’s a miracle they ever got time to wage war on the rest of the world. Most recently our favourite quirky WW2 item was the Out for the Count vampire Nazi set from Warlord – watch out for the wolfen set out next week!
The second world war leads us neatly onto the next Halloween stalwart. Witches…
On 25 November 1941 the British Queen Elizabeth Class battleship HMS Barham was sunk by U331, taking with her a crew of over 800. During World War 2 the British government held information about major fatalities close until after having told all relatives, and until it seemed unlikely to diminish morale. So when Scottish medium Helen Duncan revealed at a seance, in the same month, that the ship had sunk, the Royal Navy were curious. The information was not in fact publicly revealed until the January of the following year. In 1944 the Navy’s curiosity was steaming ahead and Helen Duncan was taken to court in the 1735 Witchcraft Act. Regardless of what means it was that she had got the information, the government were not happy. The fears of potential spies, the threat to public morale and the risk to grieving relatives meant that Helen Duncan served nine months in prison. Churchill, however, was reputedly unimpressed with the time and effort spent on the trial.
Duncan was not the last person convicted under the Witchcraft Act though, that distinction belongs to Jane Rebecca Yorke in the same year, who was investigated by undercover officers who pretended to have relatives on the front, who she in turn pretended to contact. However, the 72 year old Yorke was not jailed. Instead she was fined and bound over.
And though we don’t like to disparage a lady we think the Napoleonic Vivandiere could make a rather fetching witch.
The monster that many of us wouldn’t mind if it existed, albeit we probably couldn’t meet it, lest we drop dead/implode/ruin the space time continuum, is our double (who hasn’t dreamed of sending a clone to work). One of the most popular fictional motifs from Shakespeare’s comedic confusions in The Comedy of Errors and Twelfth Night to Poe’s considerably darker William Wilson the double is many a worn out person’s dream. But as twins (triplets and quads) will tell you having an opposite number isn’t always as great as it should be. For many cultures the Doppelgänger is a portent of something most displeasing happening. Usually the real life counterpart’s death. For the ever morbidly obsessed Victorians, the vision of Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon walking through a party in his Belgravia drawing room, whilst he should have been aboard HMS Victoria off the coast of Portugal could only have meant one thing. And apparently they were quite right. The Victoria collided with another British vessel the HMS Camperdown whilst they were practising manouvres near Lisbon, and the Vice-Admiral was drowned.
Evidently not everyone believes in the chaos of the double since several commanders and those involved in conflicts have reputedly contracted doubles; including Stalin, Rudolph Hess, Saddam Hussein, and Field Marshal Montgomery…
The Vice -Admiral and the HMS Victoria.
If you do fancy adding some belated spookiness into your game without going whole hog to the “other side” (no, not the afterlife – fantasy) , or want to be prepared for next year we have a rather fetching dice carrier …………..