The Historical Record and Its Impact on WritingThread

This is a slight detour, so I’ll answer briefly, then if you wish, we can start a new thread or go private; I am an armchair historian so I like civil and productive exchanges and discussions as well.

The vast majority of the recorded military encounters support the idea of few women involved. There are the celebrated instances such as Matilda, Joan of Arc and others that show that women did fight, militarily (The Norman Sicilian Queen of Robert is another less famous front-line combatant) and politically.

It is also true that many uncelebrated local encounters involved women Chatelaines defending their property and feudal obligations while their husbands/brothers/uncles and cousins were away crusading or traveling on pilgrimage or whatever.

My point here is, the historical record, as we know it today, is rich enough to support different story arcs and different game development. As an author, there is enough in the historical record to allow inclusive protagonists if you desire in the Medieval ages.


To kind of add to this digression (because you know how much I like rambling about historical minutia), one thing I learned when I was doing the research for HMS Foraker was that contrary to popular belief, women were actually kind of a mainstay aboard men of war. While most of them were only aboard in home waters, the wives of sailors (especially commissioned and warrant officers) often stayed aboard during long cruises, especially if the Captain was well disposed towards them. HMS Goliath had more than fifty women aboard at the battle of Aboukir Bay, and they pulled their weight in battle, cooped up below-decks with the nasty and vital duty of making up cartridges for the great guns.

Likewise, during some unrelated research, I also found out that while people have, in the past, complained about the unrealistic nature of the male protagonist in The Affairs of the Court climbing the slippery pole to power by garnering the romantic attentions of a powerful Queen through charm and wit and “blueballing”, there is a perfectly good historical example of this actually happening in the Spanish Court.


Not a problem. When I mentioned political correctness, it is simply the culture of getting offended at everything and if you don’t share the same viewpoint, then you’re a . . . fill in the rest

Like here, for instance, you were with me till a certain point. I haven’t attacked you, and you haven’t attacked me.

So essentially, I think we have the same thoughts. If you say something offensive, then you deserve any flak you get. Part of the problem as well is that language is losing its meaning. Words are used wrongly, and it feels like many are out of touch with reality. You certainly were not sexist for saying what you did, based on what you said.

No idea regarding this, honestly. I was talking in reference to a clip of a UK show where a person of color was suggesting that a statue be pulled down and replaced with another. At least I think that’s the case. Honestly, I cannot remember, and yes, I do deserve flak for that. :wink:

I can understand that. When I typically use the word, I generally think of the Norwegians or Danes.

Recently bought Guns of Infinity and I’m going to read through it soon, though I have a feeling my character will do poorly due to the fact I received a warning about my import’s stats being low. Still, looking forward to it.

Regarding how many units, I again have no idea. :wink: Seems to be a reoccuring theme/answer that, right? But you’re right.

I think with regard to World War 2 and women, that was largely due to the factors at play in the conflict as a whole? The Soviet Union being desperate and women wanting to defend their country. Basically, circumstances dictated what happened. I’m well-aware of people being under threat of being shot, if not shot, as well if they ran.

The death toll and destruction from the conflict was really . . . yeah. A lot of desperation all around.


Decided to reply separately here.

I’m easy really with opening a new thread or discussing things privately. I should be doing some writing, but I have a bit of free time.

Far be it from me to dictate what happens and what should be said, but I think this thread has run its course anyway. I don’t really think there’s much to be said other than ‘respect the author’s wishes’. If CoG starts pumping out titles where there’s not equality and such though, then it’s worth having the discussion, definitely. It would go against the whole point of CoG. I think, as a whole, the amount of gender-locked Hosted Games are minimal as well? I could however be wrong about that.

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Not necessarily. The Soviets espoused gender equality as a policy - or at least gave lip service to it. A lot of women received military training before the war and were effectively called up as reserves by the hundreds of thousands, if not millions.

In retrospect, the mobilisation of women was one of the major factors bringing about Allied victory. Nazi Germany’s failure to mobilise women en-masse for war industry work and auxiliary roles (blinkered as they were by the misogyny of Nazi ideology) helped exacerbate the administrative and logistical inefficiency and incompetence which already hamstrung their tactically and operationally proficient armed forces.


Well, I honestly didn’t know that. I believe you. I always thought Soviet women would have been fighting out of sheer necessity. Shows that I have a lot of research to do really.

I think I’ve heard about the Nazi incompetence as the war wore on. I don’t know if you’re aware of it, Cataphrak, but while I’ve not played it, there’s a game called Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa, where you have to try and please all of the different commanders who want certain things.

Anyway, I’ll stop posting here for now and if another thread’s been created, I’ll take the discussion there.

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“Everyone’s equal under the state” It was a huge draw for them. Heck the women’s march played a huge roll in their revolution.


I haven’t even heard of the women’s march. Most of my knowledge is gleamed from what I’ve read and seen regarding the big battles, or from documentaries like World War 2 In Colour (which I started watching a bit of on Netflix). Or from games such as Hearts of Iron 4, Graviteam Tactics (which actually focuses on the more unheard of battles on the East front), or Combat Mission. Of course, in the other thread, this is pretty much Cataphrak’s point. We only hear about particular stories.

American Civil War wise, as we’re talking about multitudes of eras here, I’m pretty much limited to the films Gettysburg and Glory. Glory being about the first black regiment. I do, however, have the old Starbuck Chronicles books by Bernard Cornwell. I haven’t read them all and what I did read was years ago, when I was a teen.

Napoleonic times . . . again, Bernard Cornwell stuff. The Sharpe television series and then there’s Hornblower, the tv series of that. Have the boxsets here. Not the same time period, but I did have The Patriot film with Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger in as well, about the revolution. Liked that film. (Frontier is also a decent series, about the fur trade in the 1700s. Features two rather strong female characters, that series, which are believeable.)

Medieval times . . . learnt a fair bit from GoT, even though it is of course a fantasy story. There’s The Last Kingdom from Bernard Cornwell as well, about King Alfred and such. I’ve watched a bit of The Vikings too.

And there’s of course the roman stuff and the Alexander the Great movie. I can’t remember much of the Alexander film though, unfortunately.

(Not really a sterling historian, am I?)

As of right now unfortunately, depending on the types of stories being told, I can only think of Joan of Arc really. And well, GoT. I know that there would be people like Brienne in real life. Or well, I wouldn’t say it’s not possible. But of course, this is simply tackling fighting. Being involved in the big melees. There is plenty of room for women being prominent in other kinds of stories where they’re not front and centre, on the frontlines.

I’m going to go and do a search though, see if I can dig anything up because it is of interest to me, regarding women and fighting. While it won’t change how I’m going to approach my writing, it’ll be interesting reading.

Also, I can’t remember where it was in the thread this is a spinoff from, but I remember Flogian talking about and linking to an article/post about women in Victorian times (I think?).

The Women’s march on Petrograd (it was international women’s day) sparked the revolution against the Tsar, Nicholas 2, who was growing increasingly oppressive due to fear of liberal ideals (it did not help that his predecessor got killed following those), though the main issue was food shortages and soon others joined the women’s march and full on revolution happened. This revolution took down the Tsar and set up the provisional government and made way for the Bolshevik revolution.

And regarding the war effort, they do have the infamous night witches.


As a follow-up of sorts to Cataphrak’s points about elites taking most of the screentime, the 101st Airborne at Bastogne shared it with other units, including the 969th Artillery Battalion, a segregated unit that acquitted itself very well; other segregated African-American units also displayed noteworthy courage during the Battle of the Bulge, but they’re not as well-covered as the Harlem Hellfighters or black regiments in the ACW. Equally, during the Battle of France the Tirailleurs Sénégalais suffered heavy casualties, and there was a detachment from the Indian Army Supply Corps at Dunkirk. They were there; a minority, definitely, but present, nonetheless.

There are all sorts of unexpected things popping up in different areas, some more significant, noteworthy and impactful than the rest. While there’s some debate over how prevalent female warriors are amongst the Nordic groups of the Migratory Period, the earlier Scythians and Sarmatians almost certainly did have women participate in warfare to some extent - this is attested to in literature by the Greeks and Romans (though doubtlessly some of it is posturing against the “barbarians”) as well as archaeological evidence. They were probably a minority in the fighting populace, but significant enough for authors to comment on.


I’m going to start you off by referring you to Constance, Queen of Sicily, Empress of the Holy Roman Empire and (later) Empress Dowager of the Holy Roman Empire. This ruler accompanied her husband on campaign and even while pregnant, she followed behind but still on campaign. Later, she even fought her husband, besieging, capturing and forcing her husband to sign a peace treaty in 1196.

This is not the only Norman Queen to fight and campaign but it is easy to verify for yourself.


Cheers, Elwynn. I’m going to look into that. I’ll probably pop by again in the evening, should I have managed to find the relevant info. First though, writing and toad in the hole (bet non-brits won’t know what that is).

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Here is a couple of links to help anyone with more research …

Female Warriors of the Medieval Ages

Five Amazing Women Warriors

General scholarly work on Medieval Women


There is a broader discussion here and you’re all very well educated on these matters, so I must beg you to forgive any apparent ignorance on my part. I’m posting here more to be educated than to educate others, though I’ve tried hard to write a cohesive and intellectually stimulating post.

Mostly what’s been discussed has been protagonist gender so far - however the other big requirement of CoG games is the inclusion of a variety of sexual preferences for the protagonist to select. Though there are real times and places throughout history where gay / bi / whatever seems to have been accepted in the mainstream, they are largely few and far between, and occurred in specific environments. Sure, the ancient Greeks loved a bit of bum fun, but that’s not the same thing as it being commonplace across Europe, or indeed the world, in the same time period.

Thus, while conceding that women ladies people of vaginal inclination have had many past glories which are largely unrecorded or underrepresented due to the historically patriarchal nature of our civilisations, it remains unrealistic to have historical fiction in which our characters to romp freely through multi-gender relationships as though Tumblr standards of behaviour have been around forever.

Many of you will be aware of actual real examples of serious homophobia in the modern age and the violence and hatred it can engender. I’m sad to ponder what violence has been committed in the name of fear and misunderstanding in the deep mists of the past (particularly when these acts are done in the name of the gods). Therefore it can detract from the overall feeling of immersion in a historical fiction when afforded the chance to be a polygamous pansexual transgender in a medieval Christian society. This last sentence in particular appears to be a very bold statement in this community - having glanced through the gender lock thread it’s clear it’s a most contentious issue.

Please note, I’m quite clear that we’re discussing this in the context of writing fiction, and therefore we’re happily afforded as much flexibility as we desire. I used the word unrealistic earlier - it was a valid point, sure, but equally… who gives a shit? It’s fictional. If I want to set a story in Victorian London with (gay?) mecha robots… well, who can stop me? Thankfully we don’t live in a thought-police society as exists in some parts of the world; this is one of the greatest strengths of fiction, IF, and CoG/HG in particular: its open-mindedness with regards to bending reality to its whims.

Reading back over this I seem not to have made a particular point except to touch upon the notion that “in olden times you couldn’t be openly gay so therefore it’s not historically accurate to produce historical fiction IF where you can choose a variety of sexual preferences.” Which seems like something everybody knows - the issue seems to be whether you think it’s a problem or not. Of course it’s not a problem, but just as there’s a place for inclusive historical fiction where you can indeed play a poly pan trans Christian medieval crusader, there’s a place for historical fiction where you can play that same character and promptly be murdered in a most violent way for your supposedly evil, awful heretical ways.

In conclusion, I’d say there’s plenty of room for everybody to have their styles, niches and preferences in these matters. Though that’s not a very controversial way to end this.

So, where have I gone wrong, or right? For me these are largely new topics so any guidance or critiquing of my logic would be most welcome. Thanks!


I’ve been working on a story set in the 17th century, I’ve got a few female warriors but they’re all from upper castes, including the player if they choose to be woman. In the interest of remaining mostly historically accurate most armed forces are male in my story.

Depending on your time period there were quite a few renowned female warriors, Boudicca is one that springs to mind, although her status as a good warrior are rather questionable. There was a Nefertiti in Egypt who was depicted slaying enemies and taking captives, though it’s hard to tell how accurate this was exactly. Cleopatra (the really famous one) raised a mercenary army in rebellion at one stage. Cynane is a personal favourite of mine, Alexander the Great’s half sister, she was a very respected warrior and tactician, who apparently slew the queen of the Illyrian army personally


The main difficulty I see with doing a story with an inclusive protagonist is not “history,” it’s that it’s very hard to portray a gender-constrained setting, with all the storytelling potential that said gender constraints entail, without in turn constraining the protagonist. As the introduction to @Cataphrak’s Infinity stories explains, the Infinity series is a story built on the constraints and expectations placed on a young male of a particular status, just as The Courting of Miss Bennet is about Elizabeth Bennet.

But on the subject of Pride and Prejudice, remember Charlotte’s role in that story: She was a woman who, because of English inheritance laws and the impossibility of taking paying work, was faced with the choice of either selling herself into marriage or starving. Again, gender-based constraint.

Now, obviously, Vendetta is creating a story where you can play a man or a woman in a setting where their expected roles are very different and accepting the extra work involved. But it’s a lot of extra work.


It seems fairly simple: there’s equality, realism, and story simplicity. You can have two of these, but not all three. If you have women fighting in the Civil War right next to men like it’s no big deal, you get equality, and it won’t involve much extra writing. But it’s unrealistic.

If you want to accurately represent the subterfuge and complexities of being a woman in conflicts normally reserved for men only, you get equality and realism but it’s going to require a lot of gender-specific writing, so simplicity is out. Or you make it men only, and get simplicity and realism but sacrifice equality.

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First, thank you for participating in the thread. Your contribution is valued and helpful to the discussion at hand.

Second, this good convo helps derail my research efforts and prevents me from blowing my mind trying to follow the medieval logic of humors. So thank you :mega:

Now to provide my two cents on your point.

Instead of saying: it’s not historically accurate I would say it is just harder and involves a lot of extra work. To write historical fiction IF where you can choose a variety of sexual preferences, it means writing a lot of different scenes. Two lesbians in Victorian London, might consummate their relationship by moving in together as “close companions” where a hetero couple would get married as husband and wife.

There most likely will be research involved and there should be multiple levels of testing, from a reader’s group to alpha-readings and beta testing and you’ll want to try to find an advisor or two regarding preferences you do not yourself have experience with … but even with all of these bumps in the road, it should still be doable.

The real question is: is it “worth it” to you as an author and developer.

Not everyone wants to spend years writing their story like Havenstone or Vendetta spent, nor do all of us carry the same crosses … and that is ok.

What isn’t ok is to justify away the ability to have inclusive protagonists, especially using erroneous and harmful/hateful assertions that are not true.

I’m in agreement with your post, so there isn’t anything to add here :wink:

I disagree and using the American Civil War, as an example is troubling.

The simplicity of story may be achieved with additional work, research, effort, time, etc., etc., etc.

Some women did fight on the front lines during the Civil War (under disguise or otherwise - @Lys has a better memory of these women than I do) and others were involved in everything from the battlefield hospitals to the spying behind enemy lines.

A woman was in charge of the US Army’s medical system during the entire war and “outranked” generals. The “equality” of historical “IF” may not be equal but if written and developed correctly can be included.

The protagonist of a CS game is a powerful tool … I think it is more powerful than most of us realize.


I guess the main question you have to ask yourself is: do you want to write a story in which LGBTQ characters are horribly discriminated against (if they exist at all), or a story where an LGBTQ player can have just as much enjoyment as a straight cisgender player? Because I know which one I want to play.

That may sound flippant, but it’s not really; these games are supposed to be fun to play, for everyone, and not for only a certain class of people. As you yourself say: it’s fiction. You can write whatever you like, so why not write a story which LGBTQ players will enjoy too?

That said, sometimes reality is unrealistic. While it’s true that in the Renaissance and late Middle Ages, certain places would severely punish homosexuality, in others it was tolerated much more. Indeed, in the early Middle Ages, there were many places in Europe that actually allowed a form of “marriage” between pairs of men (technically it was supposed to be a sexless act of brotherhood, but certainly more than a few couples would have been sexual). So, you could write a story, set in the real Middle Age Europe, and have gay couples basically treated the same way as straight couples, only with a slightly different marriage ceremony, and it would be completely true to real life.


I apologize for the confusion, but by story simplicity I mean from a creator standpoint, not a reader one. Readers would not typically notice more complexity on their end. So saying that it can be done with more effort, time and research is basically the same as what I am saying: it is possible, but to do it correctly does require making the story substantially more complex. The time involved in the project will go up. The total words will go up. The ratio of words read per playthrough will go down. It’s unavoidable. Not a bad thing, necessarily. But unavoidable nonetheless.