Friday, 24 December 2010

The Mystery of the Fourth Wargamer: or The Devil Throws the Dice


let me invite you to close the curtains on the snow swirling outside. Draw closer to the fire and settle back with a glass of something to fortify the nerves.

I was chatting the other day to my old chum Harry Pearson, you remember he did a lot of research on the origins of Wargaming when he was writing up his Magnum Opus 'Achtung Schweinhund'. One of the fascinating aspects was the close association that developed back between the wars between wargaming and the study of the occult. Harry records how the great beast master Alistair Crowley and Dennis Wheatley, author of the Devil Rides Out were both keen wargamers.

However Harry is a little vague on what role, if any, the wargame played in Black Magic Rituals. Was a unit's reaction, for example, decided by counting factors or reading the entrails of a Black Cock . I decided an outright question was the best approach but all Harry did was turn pale and mutter something about not meddling in affairs best left alone before hastily leaving.

However I could not just leave it and I believe I have discovered evidence that the wargame may have had a more central and sinister place in the occult practices.
Look at the picture above. Published in John Garratts Model Soldiers 1959 it purports to show a wargame in progress. But does it ? Look at the central figure chanting from a book, the two identically posed acolytes surely those grins denote a state of drugged frenzy. And what do you make of the background? Why are they playing in front of a giant and rather ragged paper screen? What horrors do they wish to conceal.

"Oh enough," you scoff, "This is merely fanciful stuff".

So be it, but, look again gentle reader and tell me who is casting the fourth shadow?

Consider, the light is falling from the left and casting a shadow to the right of the figures. Three shadows are clear but who does the central one belong to? He cannot be out of picture since the shadow of the left hand gamer (or should I say worshipper) falls OVER his shadow. He could be behind the paper but look at the top of the wall no gap is apparent and if a door was behind we would see the outline of that as well.

No only one answer fits the facts a fourth gamer is about to materialise in the middle of the group. I would go as far as to be certain that the Prince of Darkness is about to appear to his followers.

In fact,.. Just a moment I can hear a scratching at the window, I must go and make it secure, I will be right back...................


Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Barking... absolutely barking.... :o)

Merry Christmas, John!

Ross Mac said...

Prince of Darkness? What rot John! What use would he be? That's a Horse & Musket game, Napoleonic I think though its hard to be sure. No, that's the Shade of the Iron Duke, they have conjured his spirit from the grave to advise them on how to win the game.

Sort of a Ghost of Conflicts Past if you will.

Bluebear Jeff said...

Ah, John, thou shouldst not dabble in matters best left to "The Fourth Shadow" . . . for who knows what folly may follow?

And, above all, do not expose your dice (nay, not even a single "die") to that Fourth Shadow . . . for to do so may result in consequences most DIRE on the table top.

Finally, sir, be sure to have a most Jolly Christmas and a Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

-- Jeff

AlFront said...

Brilliant stuff! It's why we missed your blogging.

airhead said...

Top stuff, I've seen some strange sights on the front at Tywyn. This could be part of the explanation?

Merry Christmas and all the best for 2011.