When I’m writing for game I often try and read things that help inform my storytelling and provide those little details that really make a world become a tangible place that the players feel like they can truly interact with. The trick I’ve often said is to create the necessary conditions for your players to suspend-their-disbelief and get fully immersed in the story. To this end in preparation for my return to a game that has seen its fair share of ship-to-ship battles, I’ve been trying to focus on books that will allow me to better talk to the realities of this type of setting.
Badge of Glory ended up not only delivering on this account, but also a great story of what life as a Royal Marine during Britain’s transition from the old wooden ships-of-the-line to the steam powered paddle ships that quickly became the wave of the future as the British Empire sought to bring the transatlantic African slave trade to an end in the 1850s. Funnily it turns out I was already acquainted with author Douglas Reeman having read one of his other novels under the pen name Alexander Kent. And under either name he does a great job giving his cast of characters distinctive and consistent voices.
Primarily we follow the story of Captain Blackwood as he returns to his commission aboard the H.M.S. Audacious and assumes command of the ship’s marine compliment. With the story taking us to the coast of Africa and a mission long out of contact with local authorities, the necessity of the marines traveling inland not only highlights the pros and cons of the new steam travel, but other technological innovations like the rifle and the impact it had on forces that were still using muskets.Interspersed amongst this Reeman paints the portrait of the career family that has long served, and the politics that come with such a distinction.
Badge of Glory is certainly worth the read.