Greetings!, friend! Allow me to introduce myself - Francis Small - the humble host of this site. Shake off the dust from your journeys and allow me to give you a quick tour of these environs and how it came to be. I hope you will grant your host some forebearance if I ramble aimlessly a bit while thinking I wax eloquently, but then I will hardly notice if you slip out the side door as I prepare a new harangue in anticipation of showing you the next room.
This site is devoted to one of my many pasttimes - De Bellis Multitudinous - a set of minature wargaming rules covering the period of army-scale battles form its beginnings c. 3000 B.C. up to the effective use of gunpowder around 1500 A.D. The beginnings of this site go back quite far. Not quite to three millenium before Christ, but one could say they go back to just after the end of WWII in France, for it was then and there that my parents met. I have always been fond of games, especially of wargaming. My first experience was playing Avalon Hill's Battle of the Bulge where I was throroughly trounced, but somehow I managed to just as throroughly enjoy the experience. High school was spent on many other games in the Avalon Hill line-up, and I even briefly was on the Avalon Hill "top 50" list of play-by-mail gamers, although I suspect that accomplishment rates somewhat less than 15 seconds on Andy Warhol's stopwatch of fame.
In college I was introduced to role-playing by a group who's style is best described as the "story-telling" school of RPGs. By that I simply mean that we paid a good deal of attention to the stories behind our characters and their motivations, and not so much on having one's 53rd level mage get the better of the other's 45th level elf-fighter-druid-thief combo slice-a-matic. I suspect some of this is responsible for the care I have given to the development of various characters in my army.
After graduating from the University of Santa Clara in 1980 with a B.S. in electrical engineering came the usual transitions in life - marriage, children, joining the Society for Creative Anachronism. I was Childeric des Vosges, a 13th century Frenchman, and my wife Terri was the Scottish Aoibeann of Arran. I trained as a fighter for a half dozen years or so, but the SCA's biggest influence on me was my training as a herald and a scribe. Even now heraldic phrases such as "Azure, a cross Gules fimbriated, in canton a fleuf-de-lys, within a bordure Or" come trippingly off the tongue for me, especially since it describes my society arms. Also as a scribe I managed to complete two scrolls. The work done for the scroll for Aja des Jardins indicates that even at a younger age I was afflicted with an unnatural affinity for detail. We are no longer active in the Society, but our personae have been "borrowed" to provide characters for the two sub-generals in my army.
My introduction to DBM is fully the responsibility of Dave Lauerman, seen here plotting the destruction of my army. Dave and I, along with our respective wives all attended Santa Clara University about the same time, and we maintain close ties even today. Dave has a collection of lead and wargames that puts my modest holdings to shame, and eventually, inevitably, I was drawn into the world of miniature wargaming. My first DBM tournament saw me playing Dave's Mycenaean Greeks which garnered a medal for "Most Courageous". Doubtless this award was merely a brazen attempt by the other gamers to addict a newbie to the hobby thus providing easy meat for following tournaments. But what can you say? It worked.
Needless to say, I was soon compelled to paint up my first army. The choice quickly resolved itself to the Medieval French. The reasons were manifold. 1) It was French. My mother is French (still has a green card and a French passport) and I have been to France several times. A French army was a natural for me. 2) It was a viable tournament army. Later developments have enfeebled the French army somewhat, although I still have occasion to say: "You would have killed me but for the (S)... it's good to be French!". (Of course, this was never true for elephants. But, being French, we never speak of elephants.) 3) Being that the main troops were impetuous, it would be a good teacher for learning DBM. (I guess I like a challenge). 4) Being that the main troops were expensive, this would mean fewer troops to paint. (After painting the last of the 21 stands of hordes, I realized this particular reason was somewhat in error.) 5) Finally, being the Medieval French, it would give me a wonderful chance to paint fancy heraldic devices. I think I can safely say that I was absolutely correct in this regard!
In the end, it took about three years to paint the army. I decided that I had to paint each and every possible stand for the 1358 version of the army list. This date was picked because the 1356-1360 period allows the (admittedly cheesy) Jacquerie ally, and 1358 specifically because it is exactly 600 years before I was born. The standard bit of advice is to go with an army that you'll still love after you pick them up from a sound thrashing, and the French have no trouble passing that test. As mentioned above, I chose the arms and characters of my and my wife's SCA personae for the French sub-generals. For the army commander, I created another fictitious character based on myself: Francois de Fargniers. I figure that it's my army, so I can have as many characters based on myself as I want! Fargniers is the birthplace of my mother and is located in the northeast of France, about halfway between Paris and the Belgium border. The C-in-C stand also features Bertrand du Guesclin, a major figure for the French at this time, as well as Enguerrand de Coucy. Enguerrand was the main historical character of Barbara Tuchman's book about the Middle Ages: A Distant Mirror. I was stunned to learn that the Coucy domain included La Fere, a town merely four kilometers from Fargniers. (La Fere is also notable for the fact that a young artillery officer was once stationed there by the name of Napoleon.) Thus, I figured it would be historically accurate to portray Coucy as the Sire of a knight from Fargniers. As for why a vassal of Coucy would be the army commander and not du Guesclin or Coucy himself, you'll just have visit the Scriptorium.
The Chronicles of Pepin le Bref describe the results from the first tournaments that my army participated in. These battle reports, and the introductory material prepared to introduce the army and its major characters, satisfied to some extent my occasional aspirations to write. At various times in my life I've mused about writing as a career, but it never amounted to much. Today, with three children in private high school and college supported by an engineering career, writing as a profession is about as likely as making a living as a professional wargamer. Still, stories will occassionally float through my head, and I took the time to satisfy my muse by writing these "Chronicles". The whole experience was quite satisfying, if quite time-consuming. Each of the episodes took about ten hours to write, not including the time spent formulating the story-lines as well as the time spent obtaining a rudimentary knowledge of the Scots language. Studying Scots was really quite a kick, and I can now harangue others about how Scots is not Gaelic, and it is not a dialect of English, but a true language in its own right spoken in the Scottish lowlands and having branched from the same root as English about 1100 AD. I don't know if I will write more battle reports given the time involved, but who knows? Eventually the children will leave, and what will I do with all the time spent not arranging their lives?
I'm afraid that I don't get to spend much time actually playing DBM these days. Santa Rosa never was the hotbed of wargaming, although to be fair I have never made a priority in my life to spend a lot of time wargaming. Something about being married, raising three children, and finding lots of other interesting things to do. For now, this web site has been the major project commanding my spare time, although other activities from time to time have captured my time and imagination. Besides family and working as an engineer at Agilent Technologies, brewing and playing violin once a month for a small church choir group have taken up much of my recent spare time. I have something of a reputation as a good home-brewer, my signature brews being a Scottish ale and a soft porter. Alas, my latest batch has done nothing to enhance this reputation - not bad enough to dump on the garden, but not good enough to share with friends and family. I hope to brew again soon and restore my self-confidence. As for the violin, that goes back to the days of my youth. I got to be a pretty good violinist by the time I graduated from high school, but let my instrument collect much dust after I went to college. (That would be 1976, leaving quite a long time for the dust to gather.) In recent years, our church's "Women's choir group" (which nonetheless allows anyone to sing with them) who sings one mass a month persuaded me to start accompanying them on the violin. Doing this has been a real eye-opener for me. For one, I was quite used to always playing the melody as part of an orchestra's 1st violin section. As an accompanist I've had to learn about the subtleties of both composing and playing harmony parts. Even today as a singer I find it quite difficult to improvise on harmony - I always want to play the melody. The other lesson I'm learning is that I play much better if I'm not afraid that someone might actually hear me!
Excuse me, did you fall asleep? My apologies, I seem to have been going on for some time now before noticing you've dozed off. Perhaps you might find interest in some of the other rooms. Please feel free to wander about on your own, and welcome again to my site.