+ Why are we fighting? +
+ At the core of a wargame is conflict. The ruleset we use to resolve it is essentially a pattern-making machine that ensures all the players' imaginations mesh together and work to create a result that they agree upon. +
+ Alongside this bald result is the story or narrative. A lot of the time, this narrative is taken for granted, but it's fundamentally couched within the game. Everyone will have played imagination games like cowboys and indians, where they ran around as a group and shouted out 'bang – you're dead!' At the very root of wargaming (and role-playing games) is a framework that takes this pure imagination and reins it in. You lose some spontaneity and freedom, but end up with an agreed set of outcomes and results that, at best, enhances the experience and creates unexpected stories that are interesting and stimulating. +
+ At worst, the set of rules gets in the way of the fun of imagination. They're too complex, or obtuse; or the results they dictate fly in the face of common sense. Some players like this – the element of competition and unexpected results making things more like a real conflict, where the 'fog of war' makes all things fair, and close study of the ruleset is rewarded. Other players deliberately de-emphasise the hard line of the rules, fudging results or doing things that are dubiously logical in-game in order to have their models do something 'in character'. +
|A soldier of the Lamb's World LVth, alongside a minor xenos belligerent.|
+ Neither approach is wrong, but I think that all players can benefit from taking a step back and remembering that at the root of the their preferred set of rules is a story unfolding. The emphasis that you place on that will, of course, differ – some players prefer results, others want to explore. +
+ The Rogue Trader rulebook had some fantastic (and some very silly!) story ideas – little more than a paragraph of colour text – that were intended to provide inspiration for scenarios and games. These have dropped out of newer editions of 40k, but I really enjoyed them. +
+ The Inq28 and Oldhammer communities are good examples of the older DIY approach to wargaming, where the rules were regarded less as holy writ to be followed, and more as a starting point to tune to your heart's content. This is pretty much how I like to play, and so I thought I'd share some ideas that you might like to try out if you fancy a go at a more 'freeform', exploratory style of game. +
+ Ideas +
+ Making up a story will come as second nature to some people, while others struggle. I really enjoy coming up with planets and peoples and worlds, and thought I'd post up a couple of example systems from the PCRC's shared Imperial sector, Antona Australis [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+], along with some basic ideas for games, campaigns and characters. +
+ While these are all set in a 40k sector, there's no reason that they couldn't be used with other game systems with a little renaming. You could easily convert one of the systems below into a mediaeval county, where the worlds are market towns, for example. I'd also encourage you to use different game scales – Epic, Gruntz or Infinity are all equally appropriate. +
+ Each system name contains a clicky link to take you to the relevant system within the sector. Please feel free to use and adapt them for your own games – I hope they spark some imagination and help you create some stories of your own. If you enjoy this, please let me know in the comments and I'll see if this can become a series. +
+ Thetis +
+ The system +
Give me Liberty, or give me a planet of equal or greater worth.
– The immortal words of Imperial Commander Modestus, first Lord of Liberty.
Brought into the Imperium in M35, this system is dominated by the political machinations of the Merchantile Council of Last, a group of hereditary peers that have overseen imports and exports from the system for four millennia, with a brief break in M38 following the Unpopular Uprising. The Council has holdings all over the principal planets of the system, but makes its presence felt most obviously through the opulent Last Palaces on Liberty itself.
- Liberty is a small, civilised world with hundreds of settlements in dense clusters across rolling hillsides and bordering calm, fecund oceans. Despite having few raw materials of its own, the world supplies a surprisingly high tithe through its excellent trade network, which extends across the Hesiod-Siculus subsector. It supplies some regiments to the Imperial Guard, which are unremarkable beyond their excellent sharpshooters. The planet is ruled by a seething aristocracy currently topped by the Dam-immortél Liberty, seemingly a foppish coquette, but possessed of an acute – and ruthless – mind. Libertines, as the planet's inhabitants are known, are generally characterised as overly-focussed on profit, but otherwise honorable, good men and women.
- Cacoph Tertiary is the largest of the three innermost worlds, and the only one with permanent settlements of any note. The Cacophians are hard workers, known through the system for their creative approach to problems and their awful liquor.
- Rubicon provides numerous heavy infantry regiments to the Guard, which are renowned for their sturdy demeanour and cussedness. Their officers are universally unimaginative; referring to the Liber Rubicus in almost all circumstances. This book, issued to every officer on receipt of their rankpins, contains a massive compendium of every extant report of engagements in which the Rubicon regiments have served since pre-Imperial dominance. While the tactics within are staid and conservative, they provide useful insight to the present day. It is a history penned in the blood of loyal infantrymen.
+ Story ideas +
- Refight the 'Unpopular Uprising'; perhaps a series of games that build from a Necromunda size gang to a full-blown 40k (or even Epic) army?
- Infiltrate the Merchantile Council of Last – The Dam-immortél suspects the Marquis de-Boufbouf of plotting a coup. Can your burly mercenaries kidnap him?
- The inhabitants of Cacoph Tertiary are acting strangely... Genestealer infiltration? Has a chaos Cult taken root here?
+ Limbs +
|City of Traum, Decens|
The system orbits a main sequence star known as Limbs Primary. This unusual nomenclature (Primary is usually used as a shorthand referent to the closest planet, rather than the star itself) has been cause for note amongst the Munitorum; it is suspected that there is a dwarf planet hidden within the photosphere that caused the star to be miscatalogued.
Limbs Primary supports four populous hiveworlds: Limbs, Decens, Hyppos Rusicade, and Pluracy. All support primary manufacture and help oversee, monitor and supply the Imperium with the subsector's exports. Politically important, the system is a stop-off for most visiting dignitaries, most of whom visit the Gallery of Heroes on Hyppos Rusicade, an astonishing artwork/memorial that contains a portrait for every member of the Imperial Navy drawn from Antona Australis. The gallery stretches virtually the entire way around the equator of the planet (with minor breaks to allow for tectonic upheaval), and has many billions of individual images. Owing to the near-impossibility of the artists finding images of their 'sitters', most are rote-drawn tiny near-duplicates, portraying the individual in the Late Rusicadian heroic style: three-quarter face, monochrome, and sharing typical features symbolic of heroic man- or womanhood.
The system was the site of the notorious War of Limbs in the early years of M39, a conflict between Waa-Gargog and the Spinther Main and Auxiliary Fleets, plus numerous mercenary ships. Ships of the Carcharodon chapter of the Adeptus Astartes were first sighted in this sector during this conflict; and were instrumental in driving off the Butcherking Gargog.
- The planet Limbs is the home of the House of the Golden Needle, a merchantile group that has spread its influence across the subsector. Known for its generous support towards the Ministorum, members of the 'Needle' are sure of a warm welcome throughout the sector.
- Decens is currently a pit of slums (pictured) following the reign of the Imperial Commander, High King Delphis MCXI. A believer in the Millennial Church of Clocks, Delphis forwarded the last three decades of the tithe to the conman Anithon Buth, who absconded with the phenomenal wealth. The House of Buth became a notorious example of the infinitesimal speed with which Imperial Justice is meted out, with nearly six Centuries passing before the Judges caught up with Buth's descendants. A minor scion of Buth's house – believed to have embezzled a substantial portion of the fortune – was later implicated in the attempted Secession of Melissa, and is believed to have links with the renegade Sephran Mawl.
+ Story ideas +
- Is there a dwarf planet in the inner system? Your Battlefleet: Gothic fleet is ordered to investigate. On a smaller scale, why not use the X-wing rules to perform a fly-by?
- Tying this system into the broader sector, perhaps the House of the Golden Needle has previous history with the Merchatile Council of Last (see Thetis, above). A conflict between their respective operatives could make a very rich Inq28mmm campaign that documents the Imperium beyond the warriors and armies; and that is informed by simple politics and greed, rather than chaos or heresy...
- Whatever happened to Antithon Buth? What was the fate of High King Delphis MCXI when the Imperium came to collect the tithe? Your Inquisitor should find this out – and post-haste, as the Millennial Church of Clocks seem to be winding up for action...
- The Gallery of Heroes on Hyppos Rusicade would make a great setting for a pursuit story in Inq28mm.
+ I hope these story germs prove fruitful – please let me know if you do anything with them, and as I mention above, let me know if this sort of thing is useful to you and I'll work on some more. In the meantime, feel free to explore the broader sector of Antona Australis [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]. +