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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Who wants a Chaos Warrior plushie? Incorporating Fluff into your army

As part of the ongoing development of my army, I’ve begun creating background fluff for my general and some of the units that have been a mainstay in my Army thus far.  For those not in the know, the term ‘fluff’ refers to any sort of information (be it text, audio or otherwise) that is not directly linked to established army / game rules etc.  For people such as myself who enjoy writing in general (as if you can’t already tell by the length of my Blog articles), writing fluff for an army is another aspect of this hobby that we get to enjoy.  The best thing about writing fluff for an army is that there’s always something that can be written about, some new detail or confrontation that can be described that acts to increase the reader’s understanding of who these people are and why they do the things they do.  In light of this, I thought it would be a good idea to start a small series of articles relating to the fluff of my army, providing readers with a bit of a back-story and (hopefully) some entertainment.  These articles will be posted every other week between hobby progress articles and who knows?  Perhaps my meagre writings will inspire you to write your own fluff, if not start a Chaos army yourself.   

So the easiest way to do this is to go through the ‘who, what, when, where and why’ questions when it comes to developing army fluff.  I’ve already answered ‘what’ fluff is in the paragraph above, which leaves us with four other questions to answer:

When and Where – Establishing a Context

During the invasion known as the ‘Storm of Chaos’, Archaon the Everchosen, assembled a mighty army, the size of which had not been seen since the first great war against Chaos.  Descending on the lands of men like a black tide, the seemingly unstoppable advance was eventually halted at the hands of Grimgore Ironhide shortly after Archaon mortally wounded Valten, the chosen of Sigmar.  Shattered into dozens of splinter groups, the massive hammer from the North became a storm of razor blades, each tribe fighting not only the men of the Empire, but also fighting amongst themselves as they raised and looted as much as possible before returning north once more.  Once such splinter group was led by a Warrior-King by the name of Romulus Ironwolf of the Wulfkin Tribe.

Answering the question of ‘when’ is a very important of developing fluff.  By answering this question you will also find the answer to ‘where’ follows close behind.  For some armies this may determine things as inherent to the army as the paint scheme or even the composition of the army as a whole.  For example, say if I was to do a Dwarf army set during the time of the War of the Beard, a time of great strife between the High Elves and the Dwarves.  Since this is set centuries into the past, when black powder weapons were yet to be accepted as sound by the Dwarven Engineers (yes it takes that long for Dwarven Quality Assurance to sign off on these things), all ranged weaponry used in the army would be limited to Crossbows, Bolt Throwers and Grudge Throwers.  In the case of my army I’ve set it in the aftermath of the pseudo-mythical time after the Storm of Chaos (also known as the-Global-Campaign-that-GW-waged-but-then-promptly-forgot-about-since-it-didn’t-go-the-way-they-wanted).  As it is set after Archaon’s invasion (when), my army will have fought its way deep into the lands of the Empire (where) and it is now up to Romulus to get his tribe home with as much wealth and power as he can amass.

Who and Why – Characters and their motivations

A mighty Chaos Lord in his own right, Romulus has ruled over the Wulfkin Tribe for almost a decade.  During each year under his reign, the tribe has grown in wealth and status, overtaking a number of neighbouring tribes in the process.  When the call to war came from the Everchosen, Romulus assembled his warriors and marched southwards towards the lush lands of the Empire; intent on returning with much wealth and more importantly, more verses to add to his already considerable saga. 

These questions are both the easiest and the hardest questions to answer when it comes to writing fluff for an army.  However, like the When and Where, if you can identify the Who (and I’m not talking about the band), you can pretty quickly answer the Why.  Who do you want to write backgrounds for?  Another way to look at this question is how much detail do you want to go into?  Honestly, the easiest way to start developing fluff is to write about your army general.  Who is he?  Where is he from?  How did he come to be as he is?  The sample I’ve included above incorporates a brief background that relates to my army General – Romulus Ironwolf (the ‘who’).  As can be seen, when combined with the first passage, I’ve also indentified who he is and how he fits into the grand scheme of my army.  As the passage continues I’ve also hinted at some of the possible motives that drive Romulus to do what he does which will be essential in shaping the rest of the fluff for my army which works to answer the ‘why’.  As a Chaos Lord, Romulus is more than capable of going to war against the many and varied peoples of the Warhammer world, not to mention his neighbouring kinsmen should he be so inclined. 

It should be noted that it is entirely possible to begin writing your fluff about any model in your army, whether it be a Lord, Hero or even a humble trooper.  As your army builds, the opportunities for character progression is endless, perhaps your lowly spearman gets promoted to sergeant; or it could be that in a moment of glorious opportunity he saves the life of a powerful noble who elevates him to a position in his personal bodyguard.  The opportunities are only limited by your own imagination.  

So there you go, the first of my fluff articles.  I hope that this has been at least a little helpful in encouraging you all to get a little more involved with your armies, as I know I become more attached the more background I develop.  

Catch you all later


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