The Princely States of India.
While a lot of people think of the British Raj as a somewhat monolithic entity, the situation was a little more complicated, and the Raj was the sum of British India and plain old India…
(4.) The expression “British India” shall mean all territories and places within Her Majesty’s dominions which are for the time being governed by Her Majesty through the Governor-General of India or through any governor or other officer subordinate to the Governor-General of India.
(5.) The expression “India” shall mean British India together with any territories of any native prince or chief under the suzerainty of Her Majesty exercised through the Governor-General of India, or through any governor or other officer subordinate to the Governor-General of India.
And there were actually 500 and odd (depending on the period) Princely States that were part of the Raj but not necessarily part of British India.
And while a lot of information is available online, I have so far been unable to locate a map detailing each and every one of them – but the hunt continues.
Right now I’m writing a scenario for the GreyWorld game setting – called The Snow Globe Affair1, it is a game of intrigue and investigation set in a minuscule Princely State.
While apparently insignificant, this state, with its princely palace protected by a daring crystal dome aganist the harsh winters of the GreyWorld, is actually the pivot of a complicate political game involving the Anglo-Indian Raj, the remains of the East India Company and the sinister Tsarist Empire.
And it would be nice to have an actual place on the map where to set my story – because reality always beats invention, and I like rooting in historical details my stories and my games.
For some strange reason, having a map and a real name helps me write the made-up part much more easily.
But as I said, so far I’ve been unable to locate a single, all-comprehensive map good enough for my purposes.
What can be found, and it is a treasure trove of information, if not really handy, is The Imperial Gazetteer of India, a 26-volume reference with all the possible informations one might need – and then some.
The volume includes a large selection of maps (including city maps!), and is an indispensable resource for my work.
A digital copy can be found at the Digital South Asia Library of the Chicago University, and it can be consulted online and even searched through a simple search engine.
But there’s also much less academical resources to be found.
The old West End Games sourcebook for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (originally published for the Masterbook Indiana Jones game) is proving itself a wonderful resource2 – the chapter on British India and the Princely States is exactly the sort of concise reference that I can use, integrating it with Wikipedia, to create some quick background for the scenario.
The old WEG book is a wonderful hardback filled with production stills, and it details each “area” in which the movie takes place with short, well focused essays and a wealth of gaming information.
There is also a Raiders of the Lost Ark sourcebook that is equally splendid – and it’s really a pity that a third book was never published, covering the last of the Indy movies.
And once again, here’s a resource I’ll have to keep in mind as a model when compiling my own sourcebook.