Thursday, 29 October 2020

Noggin the Nog: Wargaming the Sagas

This is another article from the old Stronghold, from the prolific Paul Grace. As ever all I have done is some minor editorial work and stuck in some pictures; the rest is Paul's own material.


"..In the lands of the North where the black rocks stand guard against the cold sea, in the dark night that is very long, the men of the Northlands sit by their great log fires and they tell a tale...."

Thus began each episode of "The Saga of Noggin The Nog : Tales of The Northlands", a children's television animation written and drawn by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin, first broadcast in the late 1960's. As a child, I was enthralled by the tales and as a thirty something wargamer I find this humorous world of dragons, djinn, flying carpets, Vikings, Arabs, wicked uncles and eccentric inventors irresistible as material for a fantasy campaign. The characters and armies fit easily into the popular 'Hordes of the Things' (HOTT) rule system.

The setting is the Nordic Dark Ages with a few anachronisms thrown in (eg Nogbad gleefully uses cannon against Noggin in "Noggin & The Ice Dragon"). The land of the Nogs includes the magic forest of Troldeskow and the icy Glass Mountains which guard access to the Hot-water Valley (named after its hot springs). Noggin's castle (more Medieval than Dark Ages) stands on the coast. Across the sea to the east, lies the Land of Silver Sand (an Arabian Nights parody). Sailing northwards one will eventually reach the Land of the Midnight Sun (home of the Nooks).

Main Characters

Noggin The Nog

King of the Nogs. Hero of the Sagas of the Men of the North. Son of the late King Knut, a brave and thoroughly decent young chap. He's so nice that one might argue the case for classing him as a Paladin, but I prefer to make him a hero as this enables him to act as general.

Nogbad The Bad

Noggin's wicked uncle (He reminds me of Basil Rathbone). Nogbad believes that the Crown of the Northlands is rightfully his and is always planning ways of usurping his nephew. Where there are dirty deeds afoot you'll be sure to find Uncle Nogbad. In HOTT terms, classify him as Hero (evil) General.

Thor Nogson

Captain of the King's Guard, hero of a hundred battles. A seasoned campaigner and devoted friend and companion to Noggin. Hero and sub General for armies in excess of 24 AP.

Olaf the Lofty

Court inventor and friend to Noggin. He is the inventor of a flying machine (a longboat with clockwork powered wings) and a steam powered horse-less wagon (which he calls a 'fire engine'). Despite being descended from Long Olaf, the sorcerer of Nudrug, Olaf does not like magic (it makes his toes curl up). He possesses the Stone of Nudrug, a ring which protects the wearer from magic. He makes an ideal Cleric.


Royal Bird and Protector of Noggin. A great green bird with the power of speech. Class as a Flyer.


The Fair Nooka, daughter of Nan of the Nooks and Noggin's Queen, does not need to be represented on the wargames table.


Leader of the little people of the Hot-water Valley. With beard and kilt and a fiery temper (don't call him little) he is a sort of Highland Hobbit or Dwarf. His people were able to hide themselves away from Grolliffe the Ice Dragon for 3 weeks which makes them ideal Sneakers.


He describes himself as "just an ordinary small ice dragon, established clerical grade." Grolliffe is in fact a very large creature breathing ice instead of fire, the treasurer of the Dragon's Friendly Society. Noggin helps rescue his treasure after Nogbad steals it. Noggin is rewarded with a medal, which if struck with silver will enable him to summon a dragon to his assistance. Needless to say class Grolliffe as a Dragon.

Emperor Ahmed el Ahmed

Another wicked uncle, he usurped the throne of his young nephew King Rashid, king of the Land of Silver Sand. He is friend and helper of Nogbad. He has a guard of Moors and employs magicians, magic carpets and djinn. Hero (evil) General.

Ahmed's Djinni

Kept in a large vase, this djinni can transform itself into a huge black cloud. I feel that the power and fickleness of the djinn is best expressed as a God element and not a behemoth (as suggested in HOTTs Arabian Myth List).

Haroun Ibn Doud

"not an evil magician at all, just a nice, kind old gentleman with a djinni kept in a jar". His power is limited to what his djinn can or will do. Not worth representing separately on the wargames table.

Haroun's Djinni

A magic spirit of white smoke. Not in the same league as Ahmed's Djinn (when faced against him he shoots back into his jar and secures the stopper!).

King Rashid

Young King indebted to Noggin for restoring his throne. Too young to play a military role. He is only referred to by name in the animation.

Arab Magician / Thief

Nameless character: a magician and servant of Ahmed el Ahmed. Stole Noggin's crown and escaped on a magic carpet.

His carpet is too slow to claim any benefit as a flyer: I would classify the little Arab as either a Sneaker or Magician.


Court inventor to the King-under-the-Hill. His people are known as the Omrud, tiny folk who live underground. The Omrud are very sensitive to sunlight. I have never used them as part of an army but they could be included in a D&D role play environment.

Army Lists

When playing HOTT, I tend to use double size (ie 48 AP) armies. Half the army is made up of ordinary mortals (usually based on a 12 element DBA army list) the remaining 24 AP comprise of HOTT elements. Included in the above will be two generals : one C in C and one Sub General.

The Goodies

The Army of Noggin

Based on an Anglo-Saxon / Danish army (DBA list 116).

3 Blade6 AP
8 Spear16 AP
1 Shooter2 AP
1 Hero4 APNoggin, General, C in C
1 Hero4 APThor Nogson, Sub Commander
1 Dragon4 APGrolliffe
1 Flyer2 APGraculus
1 Cleric3 APOlaf
1 Sneaker3 APRonf
1 Horde1 APLittle People of Hot-water Valley
1 Airboat3 AP

Alternatives : Instead of the Airboat and Horde, have 2 additional Flyers (great green birds), as relatives of Graculus (eg Uncle Cronk and cousin Arkly); or replace the Dragon with Olaf's fire-engine, classed as a Behemoth (warwagon) @ 4 AP.

If you wish, you could also include Haroun Ibn Doud's Djinni as a God (4 AP) but with -2 on combat against other djinn.

When operating in or close to the Hot-water Valley, increase the number of Horde elements. Hordes work better in large numbers.

The Baddies

1) Nogbad's Rebel Army.

Based on a Viking army (DBA list 116):

3 Blade6 AP
8 Warband16 AP
1 Shooter2 AP
1 Hero4 APNogbad the Bad (General)
1 Hero4 APAhmed el Ahmed (Sub General)
3 Flyers6 APCrows of Nudrug (see notes).
Magician4 APMercenary Sorcerer (see notes).
Artillery3 APNogbad's Cannon
Sneaker3 APThief or Assassin.

Notes: Nogbad is assisted by an army of crows to occupy Noggin's castle in the fourth saga :'The Omruds'.

No Northland magicians appear in the books or animation, but The forest of Troldeskow is described in the book as being planted 'in the days of magic by a black sorcerer'. If any evil magicians remain, you can be assured that they would be in Nogbad's employ.

2) Emperor Ahmed el Ahmed's Army of the Silver Sand.

Based on an East Sudanese army (DBA list 101a):

3 Riders6 APCamelry
6 Warband12 AP
3 Shooter6 AP
1 Hero4 APNogbad the Bad (sub General)
1 Hero4 APAhmed el Ahmed (General)
1 Blade2 AAhmed's Body Guard (Moors)
God4 APDjinni
Magician4 APArab on flying Carpet
Artillery3 APNogbad's Cannon
Sneaker3 APArab Thief or Assassin.

Alternatives : Include some flying carpet flyers (2 AP).

Remove Ahmed's bodyguard, place Ahmed on a flying carpet and upgrade him to Flying Hero (6 AP).

Notes : When deploying elements that are represented on flying carpets it is most important that you inform your opponent of the exact nature of the element (ie magician / flying Hero / flyer etc) before starting the game.


1) Blood in the Sand.

With the help of Nogbad, Ahmed el Ahmed leads a successful coup against King Rashid. Noggin leads an expeditionary force to the Land of Silver Sand to help return his young friend to the throne.

As well as straight forward table top clashes between the Arabs and the "Cow-Hatted Barbarians", one could include sieges, naval clashes (longships -v- Arab dow) and beach assaults. If Noggin decides to invade from the air then you have the possibility of flying carpets dog-fighting with airboats !

2) Civil War in The Northlands

Nogbad is back on his home ground again and together with an army of discontented and disreputable Nogs (aided and abetted by Ahmed el Ahmed) tries to take Noggin's crown. This campaign could be played 'straight' just using DBA rules and elements as a Viking -v- Saxon conflict.


You will be surprised to read that as yet no manufacturer has seen fit to produce a range of Noggin figures!

(Alan Says: I don't think this is true any more - I seem to recall that there's been a recent kickstarter to prioduce Noggin the Nog miniatures

Update: Little Soldier Company - Noggin Figures)

Don't worry, any range of Dark Ages figures (Saxons, Vikings or even Arthurians) will do for the Nogs. The Arabs can be Bedouins, Moslem Warriors, Midianites. Village Green do a nice Longboat that can be converted to a flying boat (just find a suitable pair of large wings).



The Saga of Noggin the Nog : Four Tales of the Northlands, by Oliver Postgate & Peter Firmin. Collins, 1992.

First published, 1968 , in 4 separate volumes :

King of the Nogs
The Ice Dragon
The Flying Machine
The Omruds.


The Saga of Noggin the Nog : Tales of the Northlands.
BBC Enterprises Ltd, 1991 (running time 83 min.).
Includes 2 of the sagas : 'Noggin and The Ice Dragon' and 'Noggin and The Flying Machine'.


  1. This takes me back! I don't recall the stories, now, but I do recall the narrative delivery - laid back, fireside style, with no histrionics. What I liked most was the pictorial presentation - very basic animation, but I liked the drawing style. Time to see whether they are accessible on Youtube...

  2. I loved Noggin the Nog when I was younger. Great stuff!

  3. I remember this and Ivor the Engine.

  4. I agree, classic children's TV. Very tempting to look at wargaming it. Paul


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