Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Keeping the Narrative Alive During the Pandemic

I'm a huge fan of the narrative side of Warhammer, including the lore, books, and narrative hooks in games. Unfortunately, that last part is a little hard right now with the pandemic and in-person gaming either not allowed or not safe. What can we do in the meantime though to scratch that itch?

I actually started thinking about this due to starting some work on new units for my Daughters of Khaine army. When I first started this army it was as part of a really fun, months-long narrative event called a Tale of Four Warlords. Some of you might be familiar with this idea from various issues of White Dwarf. Essentially the idea is that you get together four different gamers, and build and paint new armies as a group. Each person starts a new army with a goal of what to have painted for each month. This is usually accompanied with games each month and then culminates in a large mega battle at the end of it all between all four gamers.

Again, the gaming part of this is a little hard right now, but the way we did our Tale of Four Warlords is actually perfect for the current situation. Back in 2018 myself, Mitzy, Jimbo, and Eric decided to do a Tale of Four Warlords in preparation for that year's Adepticon. The big catch though is that Eric and I live in different states, while Mitzy and Jimbo live on the other side of the Atlantic! This meant there was no way for us to play games ahead of time. We started in September, and gave ourselves six months to build and paint our armies, with the days in March ahead of Adepticon being an extra slot of time to finish up anything needed. We then all met at Adepticon and played our final game at night after all the events for the day were finished up.

I have to say, this was one of the most fun and rewarding experiences I've participated in during my 22 years of hobbying. Each month I gave myself a goal of which unit or units I wanted to have done. This really motivated me to make sure I actually finished painting it on time. I know Jimbo really cranked out his Stormcast during that time, painting more models in a shorter window then he ever has before. On my end I then put up a post at the end of each month/start of the next month covering the unit I finished painting. This included finished pictures of the models, details about how I painted them, and my favorite bit; some lore or a story to accompany them.

Our Tale of Four Warlords was called the 8th Wonder of Ghur. We really wanted it to have a strong narrative hook, and that meant giving us all a storyline to follow. I had a ton of fun writing little bits of story to accompany each unit that explored who they were a little bit, as well as progressing myself towards the culmination of the story. The other members of the group all posted on their own mediums with the Mortal Realms podcast and the Mitzy and Jimbo show. We also all posted on social media throughout this whole time, using special hashtags so anyone could follow along who wanted to.

When we finally all met in person at Adepticon we all had a brand new 1,000 point AoS army, as well as a bunch of lore to accompany them. The final game was fought on an amazing looking table and utilized a special battleplan that had been published in White Dwarf the month prior for their own Tale of Four Warlords. We added some extra rules on top, like some giant sand worms that popped up randomly each turn (usually to snack on some of Mitzy's grots) and made sure to play it as narratively as possible. This meant going for the cool or thematic thing over the tactically sound option if possible. Not only was it a ton of fun to do a narrative hobby project with a group of awesome guys for half a year and culminate in one of the best narrative games I've ever played, but I now also have tons of great backstory and lore for my army.

All of my units are named, with their leaders also having a name and personality. The general of the force, my Hag Queen Lathori Bloodsorrow, will be getting an updated model to reflect her new status at the end of the campaign. I also plan to carry this forward with any new units I add into my army, giving them all names and lore as I finish them.

The way we structured our Tale of Four Warlords is perfect for the current pandemic situation since we didn't even play any games for six whole months! Everyone can work on their army on their own, create lore, discuss a story line, write up some fun stories, then hopefully, in six months time, it will be safe to meet in person again and you can finish it up with a mega battle. This is a great way to keep that narrative vibe going right now. Even though you're not playing games, it still has that fun, in-person vibe as you share WIP photos and story ideas.

Here are all of my installments from The 8th Wonder of Ghur for some inspiration for you. I definitely recommend coming up with a storyline to follow and a cool title like we did. It added so much to it and helped us feel like we were all interacting with each other even though it was just through the internet for months.


Month 1: Lathori Bloodsorrow

Month 2: Witch Aelves

Month 3: Blood Stalkers

Month 4: Avatar, Khinerai, and Spells

Month 5: Sisters of Slaughter

Month 6: Blood Sisters and Medusae

Final Battle and Conclusion

Do you plan on doing a Tale of Four Warlords during this time? What narrative hooks would you use and what new armies would you start?

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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