While I don't expect that everyone will be excited by the minutiae of yet-another-home-made craftworld, it may be helpful for someone who wants to write their own, to fully develop a background for their own army and build into it some character that makes it uniquely THEIRS. Hopefully this article will help those readers out.
Why bother?It's a matter of aesthetics, I suppose. The rich background fluff of the 40K universe has ample material to pull from, and those who want a bit more flavor "out of the can" can dip into any number of clans/craftworlds/chapters/legions/septs/broods and their many offshoots if it's simply a matter of identifying a style of play that you like or even a particular color scheme.
Many players have an urge to add something more to their army. Whether it be a desire to express their individuality or expand on some neglected sliver of the Warhammer universe with their own insights, they feel a creative urge to mark something of their own, to put their stamp on it, as it were.
I know that is certainly the case for me, and has been for a while. When I first started playing the game back during 3rd edition I thought it was silly to get that invested in a war game where that painstakingly detailed warlord might spend all of 90 seconds on the table, but after a long while in the hobby I finally came around to the idea.
Figuring Out What You WantFor me it's taken a LONG time to figure out just what it was I wanted. There are a lot of factors involved in this sort of thing. Here are a few considerations I had to mull over:
- What kind of army do you want to play?
- What color scheme?
- What sets this army apart?
- What material are you going to draw from?
- How does everything tie together?
The color scheme I arrived at by trial and error. I liked the stark contrast of Ulthwe and Biel Tan but was not thrilled about the green of Biel Tan nor the bone white of Ulthwe. I liked the base color of Alaitoc but the mottled camo look didn't work for me. Thus I arrived at a combination of basic white with dark blue (Regal Blue/Imperial Blue and Ceramic White, or it's current equivalents). This worked especially well considering that I planned on using lots of Dire Avengers (the 4th ed codex had recently been released).
When prepping my tanks and vypers, I immediately thought of the Vought F4U Corsairs from Baa Baa Black Sheep (a show which I watched religiously as a kid), with their navy blue tops and white undercarriages. Color scheme done!
The next part was harder: what did set this army apart? I used almost every unit from the codex at one time or another and I definitely had favorites, but for the most part it was a generic Eldar army. That was when I started thinking of Special Characters. Eldrad is a beast and the Phoenix Lords are amazing under the right circumstances, but I wanted to add my own flavor to it. More on this in later posts. I realized that the individuality of this army was going to be based primarily on the characters that led it.
The choice of background material was an easy one for me. The Eye of Terror codex and worldwide campaign was one of the most evocative creations I'd seen in my tender years as a 40k gamer. The Ulthwe strike force in particular, but the setting, the stakes and the massive community involvement were inspiring, to say the least. I wanted to tie my army into that conflict, even if only in a historical context.
Years later, with the release of the Doom of Mymeara, I hit upon another captivating idea; Corsairs. Since then I've stocked up on corsair infantry kits, shadow specters, and I'm slowly working my way up to a squadron of hornets and maybe a warp hunter.
Then last year the new Eldar codex dropped and I've been in nerd heaven ever since. Wraith units - always the ugly stepchild of the Eldar - were now a top tier unit with 4 different unit configurations. The wraithknight was added, along with two flyers and a host of options for the Avatar.
Which brings us to the last question; how to tie it all together?
For me it was more a matter of a slumgullion of ideas percolating away in my brain over the course of years. But just like a seed crystal dropped into a supersaturated solution of sugar water, the final straw came in the form of the Tuatha Dé Danann.
I'd known of the Tuatha Dé Danann since I was a teenager at least, when I happened across a copy of the Irish myth in the form of Jim Fitzpatrick's fantastically illustrated Book of Conquests. It was a splendid rendition of the epic struggle of the Children of Danu against the Fhoi Myore in early Ireland and it captivated my imagination for hours at a time.
Instead of inventing some standard kitted-out HQs and applying a randomly generated Celtic-sounding names to them, I resolved to use the primary characters from the tribe of Danu as my model for the special characters. Perhaps I could come up with some workable special equipment or rules around them as well.
This post is already getting rather long, so I will close out now simply by saying that I did not arrive at this point of crystallization quickly or easily. In fact it was the culmination of the better part of 10 years of back-burner consideration.
TL;DR? Don't be in a hurry.
More anon. Cheers!