Miniature Wargames


A wargames legend in a Fantasy Film: The concluding part

- Words by Peter Adkinson Peter Adkison is the owner of Gen Con and in a prior life was the founder and CEO of Wizards of the Coast. In 2012 he started a film company and his first major production, Chaldea, is on: worldofcha­

A wargames legend from the USA: the conclusion.

Over the last two months Peter Adkinson offered to allow us a glimpse into a very special piece of wargaming history. This month he concludes his narrative! Ed.

In the first two parts I told the story of how I met Uncle Duke and bought some of his “Extravagan­zas” to put in to a fantasy film series, Chaldea. And then invited him to co-star in it.

Not long after buying the airline tickets for Uncle Duke and his wife, Annette, to fly to Seattle, Duke gave me a call. “I have a big problem with this story, Peter,” Duke said, with concern in his voice. Duke continued, “You have a Roman legion fighting a Babylonian army. This doesn’t make any sense. The Babylonian­s were conquered by the Persians in 539 BC and the world won’t see proper Roman legions until...” and then Duke started speculatin­g on the date depending on how you defined it and so on.


Eventually, I had to interrupt him and calm him down. I explained that Chaldea is a fantasy world. I use real-world places and time as sources of inspiratio­n because I love history. And these cultures cut across a broad path of history in our world. I have kingdoms based on ancient cultures, like the Babylonian­s, Hittites, and Egyptians. I also have two kingdoms based on the Romans; and I have kingdoms in Chaldea inspired by medieval cultures like post-norman England, Japan from the Murumachi period, and Kiev ‘Rus pre-mongolian invasion.

Duke decided this was an acceptable explanatio­n, and I could hear the relief in his voice. After all, he really wanted to make this film! We also talked a bit about how bronze might fair against iron and steel and other balancing issues of ancient armies versus roman or medieval ones. I said, “Hey, it’s fantasy. We take some liberties.” Duke just laughed and agreed, “Okay, okay, as long as you know that’s what you’re doing, I’m okay with it!”

We also talked about how part of the story is set in Uncle Duke’s toy shop, which is also his home, and he interacts with his wife who helps him out in the shop. I asked if Duke’s real-world wife would like to do the voice-over for the Chaldea version of Duke’s wife and she agreed and was brought into the production. Now it was a family affair!


I suppose at this point I could say “the rest is history.” Duke and Anne flew out to Seattle and we

made this little movie. There was some anticipati­on about whether Duke could perform well on camera, since I hadn’t properly auditioned him and there were no “reels” of him acting in other films or plays. But he did great. It didn’t take long for everyone on set, crew and cast alike, to fall in love with Duke. And when I’ve played this film for others I often get asked, “Where did you find the actor who played the old toy maker? He really did a great job!”

Duke and Annette both performed voice-over acting for the lines that went with the comic art versions of their characters and they both did a great job at that as well.

Most importantl­y, we simply had a really fun time. Duke and Annette and my wife, Dee, and myself, we were all immediatel­y best friends. Duke and Annette returned to Wisconsin soon after we wrapped, of course.

Within a few months we finished the post-production of the live action portion of the film and all the comic book art and motion graphics for the comic art portion. Finally, Steve and I had a chance to watch the completed work and ask ourselves, “Do we like this?”

Yes. We absolutely loved how it turned out. We showed it to Duke and Annette and they loved it too. Duke was so proud of it. He really liked his line, “What colour is an orc?” and how his character didn’t know what an orc looked like. He thought wargamers who knew him would find this very funny because he had painted so many thousands of orcs during his career. And I felt really happy to have been able to bring this great man on one final adventure, so late in his life.


I hope you like this story of how Duke came to be in a film and that you’ll consider watching it. I’m sure if Duke was still with us he would urgently recommend it! ■

 ??  ?? ABOVE Uncle Duke with co-star, Stefan Hayek, as Reiswitz.
ABOVE Uncle Duke with co-star, Stefan Hayek, as Reiswitz.
 ??  ?? ABOVE Uncle Duke with Cast and Director, Peter Adkison.
Duke instructs cast member, Yasmine Aker, on where to move miniatures.
ABOVE Uncle Duke with Cast and Director, Peter Adkison. LEFT Duke instructs cast member, Yasmine Aker, on where to move miniatures.
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