Friday, January 11, 2019

Evolving your Army Narrative

Hey Everyone!  Today I want to talk about growing and evolving the narrative around your army through your games, painting, and hobby in general.  It is very easy to feel the pull to jump into the latest release and start a new army.  The models are always fantastic and it is exciting seeing how the army lore fits into the grand picture of the worlds we know and love.  Sometimes jumping into a new army is entirely the right thing to do, but other times it might be because you are bored with your current army playstyle, models, or their lack of new lore.  How can you prevent boredom from developing?  By creating, even a small, lore for your army and its heroes!

Over the past year, I have been evolving the narrative for my Daughters of Khaine army.  It began simply enough as I took them to Adepticon.  At first, they simply had a name, The Tayrathian Cult and an association with being a sect of The Kraith who tend to roam around Ghyran.  It wasn't much and it had a bit of silliness as it connecting to my enjoyment of Taylor Swift and pop music to Warhammer, but it was the foundation to build on with every game, event, and model added.

I began to flesh out the story of The Tayrathian cult over the next few months and really centered them around the Witch Aelf portion of the Battletome and as you know I began painting more and more Witch Aelves.  Giving each new unit a bit of story as they cut through my enemies at club days and local events kept me interested and motivated me to keep growing the army.  Admittedly, I have a ridiculous amount of Witch Aelves and Hag Queens, but they are fun and there is no doubt they are powerful and it has been a fun year building The Witch Aelf Horde.

The one event that really helped me begin to form and give character to the lore of The Tayrathian Cult was Realms at War 3: Aethermy.  Being a narrative event in nature it was the motivation I didn't know I needed to flesh out the story.  I gave my army a founder, Tayrathi, who had led the cult for a long time before disappearing without a trace. I began mixing in this concept to the story of my Custom Aethermyst for the event and created the "reincarnation" of Tayrathi herself!  This reborn Tayrathi has uncovered Morathi's deception to steal the prayers meant for Khaine and she was on a mission to usurp the Shadow Queen and take Khaines Heart.  Unknown to Tayrathi was Morathi was on to her schemes, but that was a thread which would play out later.

For the event, I created a kitbashed model of Tayrathi as well as a custom Aetherlab.  Both now act as a Slaughter Queen on a Cauldron of Blood so I can continue to use them in future games as well!  I now had a leader for my army with a fleshed out backstory and goals for me to have her work towards in the event as well as after the event!  During the event, she grew and more bits where added to her personality.  She found allies in Wanderers, distrust with Idoneth, and developed a grudge against a certain Orruk Boss!

By continuing to develop my army lore and characters I found continuous energy to keep playing them, keep collecting them, and to paint more and more!  I have painted well over one hundred Witch Aelves now, but I am not burnt out on them yet.  I look forward to painting more as well as beginning to play the army in different styles than simply pushing a lot of buffed Witch Aelves around.  I am far from bored with this play style, but I want to become proficient with every aspect of this army and my story is helping to drive this motivation!

I couldn't carry on playing the army without Tayrathi however, so she had to evolve and I created some alternate forms of her to use in the future!  I simply used the same head on different bodies for her alternative forms.  It was a spare head from the Khinerai kit that I haven't used anywhere else so she will always stand out in my army.  She will be turned into a Bloodwrack in the coming year, but with her Aethermy knowledge she has managed to maintain her free will from Morathi and can even change into her Slaughter Queen and Hag Queen forms as needed to continue her ultimate goal of usurping Morathi!

A simple head swap and some fun lore adaptations were all it took to give me the reason to continue using Tayrathi as I play with other parts of the Daughters of Khaine that are less about Witch Aelves.  It doesn't take much work narratively within The Mortal Realms to do something like this and it is a lot of fun to see your lore organically grow.  My Narrative all started with a simple name and has grown a lot over the year.  Sometimes by leaps and bounds and other times with smaller steps using something that happened in a friendly pick-up game.  

I am as excited to play this army as I was when they first announced the Battletome and showed us all the wonderful new models.  The Tayrathian Cult will continue to grow and I can easily see myself playing them for years to come by adding in new twists to Tayrathi's journey and adapting my lists to match her goal.  I am already planning where her story could go, but it is a long year full of events and we will see how her quest gets plays out!

Whether you enjoy Narrative already, like open play, stick to match play, or like me, play a mixture of it all adding a bit of narrative to your army will raise your enjoyment of that army and the game to a higher level.  You don't need to write an essay on your army, but simply find a few hooks to lay your foundation.  Add bits here and there as you paint units or play a game with it and soon you will find you have created a rather robust bit or lore that you can call your own.  As you do be sure to share it with others as it will only help enhance their story and give you both a deeper connection to the dice you are rolling that day.  As you do this you will find you never grow bored playing your army again.  Happy Hobbying.

Chuck Moore