Friday, June 29, 2012

Battle Reportification Part 10 - Plot

Now we arrive at the first post about the different parts of your Battle Report, this one focusing upon why you want to decide if a scene focuses upon Plot and how to do it.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Battle Reportification Part 9 - Themes

There are all sorts f directions that you could take your Battle Report. You could make it into an uplifting story about the triumph against all the odds, it could be a depressing tale of the brave soldiers who gave all they could and died for their efforts. Or maybe your preference is for the sick tales of corrupt commanders more interested in numbers than in men and how it all played down, him not being phased when he won at the cost of millions for a few square miles of land - he only cared about if the final objective was achieved. The purpose of this post is to help you set up themes for the story you want to tell, why you want to pick a theme and how to do it. One of the reasons that you should pick a theme is that it sets a standard; a guideline is established which you will be able to follow fairly easily and you will be kept on track with your goals. A lot of times people get working on something that they love and they lose sight of the vision that had initially been there, swept away by what they were doing now. The expression that is commonly used is that you don't see the forest for the trees. You have immersed yourself in your project so completely that you can't find your way back to what was going to make it great. Having a theme in mind from the get-go will provide you with something to measure off of, to keep you from becoming too distracted and able to focus on what matters. I'm talking about your family. Just kidding, if you need tips on being a family person I'm not the one to go to. You're playing with toy soldiers for crying out loud (most of you - I suppose some people could read this and not play with them. I don't know why, but you could… hypothetically). So back to focusing on what matters, you want the theme to help you remember what moments you want to portray in your Battle Report. And for the 40,001th time (hee hee) this will give you another opportunity to find inspiration should you ever need it. With that explanation out of the way how do you choose your theme? This fits in with the significant events and the gritty details posts, what was it that you thought was important. What made you think this would be a good Battle Report? Maybe you chose an arbitrary battle to do it for, but it is my belief that every battle can be made into a spectacular story, but sometimes people aren't able to tell it because of their personal tendencies. Not everyone can write uplifting canon about the heroic last stand of the 2nd company of Ultramarines on Macragge against the Tyranids. Others would find themselves horribly out of their league as they struggle to narrate the fall of Malant'ai. Know what your abilities are. This is not a time to be humble about your abilities, nor is it the moment to be delusional. If you truly have no idea, or even if you have a belief that you can't do something just give it a try. After about 3 attempts then you can give up, but until you have some proper experience who are you to say know? Think of writing a story as creating an army list. Sure that unit of wolf scouts hasn't served you so well the past two games, but its entirely possible that its been because you were using them wrong or the enemy armies just weren't what is typical and just happened to be able to deal with them. Maybe you weren't setting up the right situations in order to tell that tale of the heart broken mother who watched her boy fight in the planetary militia and wept for his death, one among millions who died for her. I'm not sure if I actually answered how you choose your theme though (sorry about that tangent. I think it was good in any case). Back to the idea of significant events and gritty details, how I mentioned the important stuff that you want to illustrate or that make this a good story for that. Whether you won or lost shouldn't impact the story you're telling. Yes on the battle field you failed to drive the enemy back, but telling a story is more than just plot (though it is a serious factor. A bad plot begets bad stories). The important part of telling a story often has to do with what it is about, the tone that you are taking. Remember all those stupid english classes that you took where all you did was discuss the genius of Shakespeare and how he brought in all sorts of elements that made fun of things or pushed ideas of aristocracy or equality or education or whatever? Well you want to make some of your own themes along those lines, bigger ideas that you (or your characters) push, statements about this that or the other. Most people like to hear a "today I learned" or some big moral stance on something. I'm not saying that everyone does, and a lot of time people don't agree with it, but the good guys have to be the good guys for a reason. The good guys always win because they are inherently better and deserve to win (in stories at least. Always a pet peeve of mine that bad guys never win but this is not a discussion for this blog). You will see yourself become more successful if you take a theme and you use it to show what happened, why it happened, and what it means. That theme will give you something to push for your readers, something that you can check for as you read your own story and see if it ends up actually coming across to them.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Battle Reportification Part 8 - Gritty Details

I'm going to dive right into this article without any pretext. How is it that you give the proper amount of detail for your Battle Report? And how do you know where to put in the most effort? Well hopefully you will have a great amount of detail throughout it, but obviously you want to know where you should really put in the elbow grease and make it sparkle like the sunlight gleaming off of a vampire's pale white skin… oh wait we don't want to write anything ridiculous and absolutely idiotic, sorry about that. First we'll go into the where: what kind of story are you going to tell? I'm going to go into themes for your Battle Report next post, but for now lets work with what we have. Once you've decided on the themes that you want to be associated with your story and you've chosen the characters to narrate it and the setting you need to figure out what really pushes those ideas. What parts of the Battle or narrative that you had going on in your head lead you to that final decision? Which shoot outs or desperate dog fights brought out the best in your ideas? Those moments that brought you to your theme are the big ones that you want vividly portrayed because you want to show that it was what is actually important. Secondly you are going to want to divide up the events in your Battle Report (note that I said in your Battle Report and not your battle. Don't let the tabletop rule everything you want to do, use it as a guideline). Moments can be divided into a variety of categories, all of which I will go over later: plot; character development; setting; With those in mind you are going to decide what details in particular to focus on. Of course this will be discussed in future posts, the next four or so posts will all be related with this one and each other so it might be a little frustrating to read through this until you are able to put all of the pieces together at the end (its only four days after this one, you'll live). So the types of details that you center your efforts upon will be determined largely by the type of scene you are doing so we can skip that bit for now. What I don't need to do in those posts is provide you with a scale for effort. When you lay out what you want to include in your Battle Report scenes wise (you don't have to do all of this ahead of time though you may find it to be beneficial considering the format that I am presenting) you should make a conscious choice on how important each of these scenes is in terms of the category assigned to it. Just how much character development comes out of this scene between the narrator and an enemy soldier youth? Does it impact the audience's view of the narrator more than the scene where we see them hold their best friend as they die, or is it less important than the scene where we find out their favorite brand of caffeine? Once these decisions are made you will find everything else is much easier. Onto how you actually put in the detail. An exercise that you might find to be useful is imagine yourself as a storyteller. I know that sounds obvious, but see yourself actually telling your friend this story over the phone or while at a campfire. Does it have the necessary imagery to give them an actual sense of what is going on or to know how tense the moment is supposed to be? Can they picture it in their heads? Do they have a sense of attachment to the story, do you think they would be leaning in towards you to hear what you are saying better in order for them to fully embrace the experience so they don't miss a word? Can they tell what are the important moments? Of course you are going to have to be brutally honest with yourself, this is not the time to be exaggerative. Maybe you need to actually test it out on someone, but for the most part you can weed out the unnecessary stuff and find out what needs the most work to start with with this technique. The key to keep in mind is that you are ultimately telling a story, the entire thing has to be communicable through language. Your hand gestures will not be present when people are reading your stories, they cannot make those same leaps of the imagination and imagery that you are going to initially. Another technique that I will give you (and this will be brief) is that you should picture it in your head. What do you see? Now take every possible bit of it and put it into words. Describe it down to its absolute core so that if someone was there they would be startled as they noticed something that you picked out that they had not even noticed despite standing in that same spot as you. Both of those methods should serve you well along with the tidbit I gave you some post in the past about the feeling of the room (temperature, taste, sound, smell, etc.). Hope this was a good read, thanks for joining me!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Battle Reportification Part 7 - Significant Events

I'm not so sure about all of you, but sometimes it can be really difficult to tell what the turning point in the battle was. Was it one shooting phase that did it, or did one unit's heroic charge deal the death blow to the important character on the opposing side? How far can you narrow the critical moment down to? This post will try and show you how to narrow it down and also how to make multiple parts of the fight interesting and narratively important. I'm going to have to be very arbitrary because it is impossible to provide a concrete set of guidelines for determining the shift in the balance of the war, but I will do my best given the resources I have at my disposal. Let us examine what movies, books, and other mediums generally use to portray moments of intense import for the plot or character development. When do they have you cheering the victory or crying from depression? When the hero is incapacitated or the big bad has been knocked off his high seat, this generally signals the end. Of course it is not quite the same as the death of the villain is almost always at the end whereas the hero is taken down somewhere in the middle (only to rise again. Of course the hero could also be knocked out at the end and then in a few minutes be back on his feet but that is neither here nor there). Look at your battle and see when it was that your or the opponent's general died. It is entirely possible that both ended up dying, that just changes how you want to tell your story. With the death of the general comes the type of tale you can tell. If the general died in the beginning the story is one of the army fighting on without him, demoralized but grim in their resolution, digging in to fight to the end even as their comrades die around them (victory or defeat does not matter, the story could be the same). If they died in the middle of the battle, that is when the force starts falling apart or is driven to greater things to avenge the heroic death of their commander. If it was the end it could be a tragic death, something gut wrenching because of all that they had given to bring victory and yet they would never live to see it. On the other hand if their force had fallen apart earlier they could have died because they could not stand the shame of their defeat and leading their friends to their deaths or could have perished as a coward, cut down despite trying to use his friends as bullet bait. This is all determined - again - by the style of story and characters you want involved in your Battle Report. Where else could you look for significant events in your battle? At what point did the most models perish? When were your forces gunned down en-masse or did you cut through several units of troops with your valiant cavalry? Were you able to take out the majority of the enemy forces when you stormed their base of operations, or were you forced back by disciplined volleys? These are instances in time that you can go to town as a narrator, plucking at the heart strings of your audience as you try and capture the emotions that the characters must be feeling as everyone they have known and loved for 20+ years are gone in the blink of an eye or they liberate that town from the occupation of the heretical chaos influence, knowing that the people who had cowered in their homes for years would finally be able to see the light and live under the freedom given to them by the Emperor. Perhaps what you want most to look for when you seek out those significant events in your Battle Report to illustrate is try and figure out where can you convey the most life and detail, what will make an excellent scene and piece of writing that you would love to show your friends or the internet at large. I'm not sure if I mentioned this anywhere else but in my mind Battle Reportification should not be just a passing attempt, it is a serious effort to craft something that isn't seen anywhere else. Not quite as long as a short story, but with plenty of depth, plot, and character development that could be as good as many short stories. This isn't just about saying what happened in your battle, this is going the whole hog (I think that's the saying but I'm not sure) and putting in place all the elements that would make this Battle Report a piece of literature, not just fluff. This is the difference that I see in fluff and lore. Fluff is filler garbage that is eye candy, does not really satisfy, it just fills the time until we come across something better. Black library on the other hand is often lore because of the character development, serious themes and powerful character development. There are examples that are simply fluff because they aren't really works that aren't seen elsewhere and aren't really unique, but most of it does add something to how you view the 41st millenium and the Imperium or the other races. Giving someone something new to think about, that is what I think is one of the greatest achievements of doing good writing. That’s also how I look at blogs, if you have nothing different to say from other people or if you are just whining and not contributing then you don't need to have a blog. But I'm digressing and I apologize for that. I hope you enjoyed this post, always glad to write for you guys!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Battle Reportification Part 6 - Narrating Character

First I would like to make a call for everyone that reads this blog to go check out all of the different networks that I posted on the right side of the blog that have been there since the beginning, all of them have quite a few good blogs and you probably have noticed based on my list of blogs towards the bottom of the page that I read a lot of blogs, most of them having been found by following those links when I was first looking into the different networks. I would also like to thank wargaming tradecraft for accepting me into their network, and would advise you all to look at the blogs that are posted there (it is an old network that is moving, so hang in there, more blogs will be put up there with time as they are moved from the old list to the new). Once again thanks for the plug guys, and now on to the normal blog post. (btw Graven Games is still awesome. I love giving them shout outs lol) Again this post is involved with the previous one, so I will do my best to not repeat myself (though I think that last time I did a good job of not getting too off subject). The topic up for discussion today is designing your Narrating Character which you will use for your Battle Report (or most of it anyways). Now there is tons of stuff on character creation that I'm not going to go into, just the basic stuff that you can use to put in some work to make something awesome while not too much that you spend hours on just the character creation. Again you are going to want to examine how everything that happened in the battle fits together. Once you have that figured out you have to start hearing voices in your head. What attitude do you hear that would really help make the story you want to tell excel? What tone of voice will accentuate the best parts of what happened? Should it be snarky, quirky, humorous, sadistic, sarcastic, sassy, intelligent, depressed, who will do the best for you? Oftentimes the character should reflect your own personality as your personal tendencies will mean that you have a knack for doing a good job of that attitude, but don't be afraid to experiment! If nothing else take some inspiration from your friends, enemies, public figures, anywhere that you look! A second part of making this narrating character is that you want to have a small bit of background assigned to them. I don't mean totally defining every detail and part of their history, just enough for you to work with and refer to in your story and that you could use to craft their personality (or you could reverse engineer the history based on their attitude or vice versa). Sometimes depending on the lore for your army you will know where the character came from if they are a part of the army, sometimes you will have a wide assortment of options. For instance you may have an imperial guard army composed of a variety of companies or platoons that come from all sorts of backgrounds that change frequently, hence the reason that you don't know all the homes of all the people. This option provides some flexibility in your story telling and the background of your force. Another possibility is that you could utilize someone not even part of your army as a narrator, or a non-combatant that travels with it. A local that gets caught up in the action that goes down in their home hive or a city slummer that is fleeing the law crosses into a field and gets sucked into the battle with no way out. It does not have to be a role that is played out on the tabletop at all, you could make up everything about them just because you have an awesome vision in your head. This will allow you to make full use out of the work that you already put into the planet that you designed already. You could take someone that was from a completely different system or sector and insert them for some narrative flavor that contrasts the behavior and style that is evident in the rest of the army or conflict. The key to all of this is to use your imagination, run with anything that you think will work and that you can totally see happening on your battlefield. Whether it advances the plot because the character is an inquisitor investigating the army as it performs maneuvers in the name of the emperor or a child of a cook ran off of the ship and is now running under the wing of the imperial guard platoon commander is up to you, there are NO limits to who could be involved with the battle. As a final thought remember that it does not have to be someone that actually showed up on the tabletop, just make sure that you think they could do a good job of telling the amount of the battle that you think is appropriate to advancing the plot and the events that are surrounding the story that you are trying to tell.

Battle Reportification Part 5 - Detailed Explanatory Scene

Writing this blog is already changing how I'm playing. Yesterday when I was playing I was looking at everything in an entirely new light. Normally I think that when something completely against the odds happens I just think its cool. But yesterday when a ton of fantastical crap went down I was thinking of how it would look in a story, how I would explain it and write the scene involved in a Battle Report. It wasn't just cool, I was forging a narrative during the game. Of course I normally play competitively in tournaments but this time I kind of went a little crazy and did stuff that was not very… strategic. Rushing towards the Space Wolves is NOT a good idea for Tau, though it was hilarious to watch as my army then imploded. But enough about that, moving on to what this post is about. Now that you've determined all of your supporting details involving purpose and location it is time to get working on your actual Battle Report. This post and the next one will go hand in hand, so stick with me as I make some leaps about characters that will be delved into further tomorrow. So why bother creating a scene designed specifically to explain things to your audience in the first place? Just like I already said in the location post part of this is for setting the mood for your readers to tap into and expect from the rest of your Battle Report. If you provide a scene for explanation then they will know how things work. The second part about the explanation scene is that it is when you get the opportunity to have your imagination run wild and you get to decide all the cool details and tidbits that you want to be a part of your story. This is one of the defining moments for your Battle Report, this is where you can make your battle not just another game of 40k or warmachine, now you are starting to add tension and weight to everything that happened. The fate of the continent may have rested upon this battle, but the audience can only know this if you tell it to them! Furthermore explaining what is going on will remove some of the confusion (I'm sorry, I know its obvious but it still needed to be said) that might have been infused into your story if you did not take a moment to sort everything out so that details regarding characters, motivations, location, everything is told so that your audience does not need to do any thinking but can just sit back and enjoy the narrative that you have created (or at the moment are creating). So how do you get around to writing this detailed scene? Look at everything that you've already sorted out (the purpose, the location, and what actually happened in the battle). Based on these factors what could you reasonably tie together? What is the specific story that you want to tell, what is it that was important to this battle and how is the world or important plot pieces being changed by specific parts of the fight? Not everything has to be, or even should be important to the plot. Just as I said some posts back, if everything was detailed and important, there would be no sense of scale or weight - you'd lose what was actually important with what was just a cool fight that had no real significance in your narration. But back to piecing things together: look at what parts fit together, what was the purpose of this battle, what led up to the gauntlet being thrown and the two sides dukeing it out in this particular location. Decide what was the situation before the actual war was declared, what led to the escalating tension, what caused the final eruption, and what has happened between that moment and the start of the battle. All of that is exactly what you will be describing (maybe not all at once, you can take your time and explain it all throughout a variety of Battle Reports if you want to continue this saga that you are working on) and so now you should be able to see why this scene is important. If you didn't explain some of this than a large part of what will make your Battle Report cool and unique, an actual story and not just a bunch of figures moving around on a tabletop would have been left out and no one would have seen your abilities as a story teller! The second part to the detailed explanatory scene is the detail: when you read a book you will notice that the successful ones make sure to do a very good job of portraying what the place is like. How it looks, the temperature, the taste of the air, the flavor of the wind or dust, the sounds in the background, the texture of the walls, clothing, the floor or dirt, etc. Everything is given detail, or at least enough such that the audience could feel like they are in the room. You don't actually have to describe every little nook and cranny, you just have to provide the feeling that you have done that - what I mean is that you should have a solid amount of description and anything that you plan on having your characters interact with should either have been described or it should be something that you specifically are waiting to mention until it become important. By providing such details as temperature you can make yourself look really good by providing such moments as a character shivering in the cold or even hunching their shoulders to combat the blistering gale that was crashing through the fur cloaks of the local Feudal lord. It doesn't change the plot, but it looks really good and for a small amount of work will improve your standing in the eyes of those that are looking at your Report. Even if you don't show it to anyone, it will look really cool to you and make you feel accomplished and that your battle is unlike any other that you've played out on the tabletop. (sorry about not posting this last night, it seems that Sundays I have a problem with my internet so whatever, I guess Monday's or Saturday's I'll just post twice to make up for it. Expect another post today as I am going to start working on that one now since I had this one done yesterday)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Special Missions #3

Sorry, ran out of time after playing in a 40k tournament and got home late so was unable to come up with new stuff.  I'm working on creating these in advance so I have a pool of legitimate articles to post when they are needed, but until I am able to do that I will give you another special mission (I only have one other on hand that I can easily access, lets hope I don't miss another again ;-) )

Game Three
Deployment:       Pitched Battle
Set up:                  Seize Ground
Conditions:          Reinforcements?  Every turn starting with round 2 roll for reserves for one unit worth 100 points from your codex, created before the game begins and before you know who your opponent is.  This unit deepstrikes onto the field using the normal deepstrike rules.  The unit can be any type, vehicle, infantry, or otherwise even if it does not normally have the deepstrike rule.  Secret Objectives that list their weight in determining a victor of the game.
Extra Points (again for that battle points system I designed):
  • Only lose 2 units completely (partial losses are permissible) - 1 point
  • Destroy your enemy's reinforcements before it causes 100 victory points of damage to your army - 1 point
  • Destroy 200 victory points or more of your opponent's army with your reinforcements - 2 points

    Secret Objectives:

  1. Kill one enemy unit of at least 5 models or more down to only 1 model and keep it alive. (2 objectives)
  2. Hold at least 2 objectives for 4 consecutive turns (2 objectives)
  3. Have the most victory points in your opponent's deployment zone (1 objective)
  4. Keep your HQ alive the entire game and deliver the killing blow to at least one unit (2 objectives)
  5. Eliminate all of your enemy's Elites/Fast Attack/Heavy Support - must be the most filled section (2 objectives)
  6. Hold at least 2 objectives for 3 consecutive turns (1 objective)

Sorry about not having the story descriptions in here, pressed for time and REALLY want to go to bed.  Hope you guys like it, and I'll be back with Battle Reportification tomorrow!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Battle Reportification Part 4 - Location of Conflict

I know all of you are just dying with excitement to hear what I have to say about the Location of Conflict because its not like you have any other things to be psyched about, no upcoming releases of anything major in our worlds, just the same old.  I though that to fill the drudgery of your lives until finally someone decides to come out with new toys and things of that ilk that I would give your lives meaning.  With that sarcasm out of the way lets move on to the real reason I have this blog.

So now you have determined the purpose for the conflict that you are basing your Battle Report around.  This is a great point to decide where you want this fight to take place.  Sure you have a smidgeon of a clue from the reason for the fighting, but this is where you commit to the gritty details of the whole thing!  There is also a scale that you can grant this location, and how large or small you make it is up to you.

First we have the biggest scale (which only really applies to sci-fi games) which is what sector of space is this taking place.  This could be important if you plan on taking the story or campaign that you are discussing in your Battle Report into the future and want your different Reports to be connected.  Knowing the sector narrows down the sorts of battles and factions that are involved because you can then figure out who is there and why.  If you don't decide the sector then everything is much more open-ended and you have more flexibility, but you also might lose yourself in all the possibilities and spend too much effort creating reasons or facts that you could have spent on making a good story into a great one.  Knowing the sector also gives you common ground with your readers, if they know where you are then they instantly start adding their own knowledge of the background to your narration and you didn’t even have to do the heavy lifting, Black Library or the game company for your system already did that for you!

Second to the sector of space comes the system where it takes place.  Now you can make a decision:  how much effort do you want to put into this Battle Report?  Do you want to make a detailed story out of a series of battles or want to expand a story off of this one battle?  If that is the case it may be best to design the entire system using the methodology given to you by the Designing a Planet Series I wrote earlier (in case you missed that… hee hee its funny cause I don’t get new readers lol.  I still love you guys though).  If this is more of a one night stand then maybe you want to skip this detail altogether.  As always though, designing the system - no matter how little you end up doing - can give you inspiration and help you out later on with other stuff.

The next level is the planet.  I won't go into detail on this because that is what that entire bloody series I already alluded to was about.

Now you have what sort of continent or nation or geographical area that you want to set this battle in.  This is important because it can give you some nice flavor to allude to throughout the Report that would otherwise be missing.  Every battle report doesn't have to be in the middle of a ruins where no civilization exists and local governments have no say in the military's actions and surround geography doesn't determine why this engagement happened.  This could be the result of favors being called in by the government, maybe a political crap-fest erupted and now the generals have been forced to hand over control of the Imperial army (or at least a part of it) to the local politicians (who are idiots as it goes without saying despite my saying it).  Geography could have been used to pin down an enemy force into a fight they didn't want to engage in - a perfect example of this is in the Tau codex with how Farsight used the canyons to split up and pick apart the Orks.  If you ended up going into detail on the planet using the steps I gave you earlier that means that now you have a lot of options for who is involved in the war, its interests, who wants what, and all sorts of non-fighting plot pieces can come to light.  That is one of the things that could make your Battle Report extraordinary compared to other people's, that added detail and themes that go beyond just the basics of fighting and the reason for the fighting.

Finally the smallest scale involves the actual battlefield:  where in that nation/continent/etc. do you want this battle to take place?  Is it near the volcanic mountains of the eastern part of the continent, or are you fighting to defend the Imperial city from the heretics, holding out as long as you can to gain some time for the innocent civilians to safety (not like the Imperium ever does anything nice like that but you get the idea).  What could have happened on that battlefield in the past?  What was it like before war transformed it?  Were there farmers in the area, did religious pilgrims frequent paths through the woods that have since been torn up by the treads of tanks and explosions of artillery?  All of this stacks together until finally you get something incredibly detailed that you can be proud of.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Battle Reportification Part 3 - Purpose for Conflict

Now that you have a proper recording of the battle that you are planning on making into a Battle Report its time to get this puppy into gear and crank out that story that will be more awesome than any other Battle Report that has ever graced the interwebs.  But where should you begin with the story?  How any good book does… setting the scene.

What does setting the scene do you may ask?  It does a myriad of things, among them it sets expectations for what the rest of the narrative will be like.  Setting a detailed picture of what is going on will let the audience know what sort of story and writing that they can expect from your Battle Report.  Another thing it accomplishes is that, if done well, it will get your readers excited to keep reading and give them the motivation to keep reading.  Finally, as with anything that I write about, setting the scene gives you a foundation from which you can easily find inspiration for continuing your story.  By laying down the groundwork early on you have put in the amount of time and thought to make a reasonable story (reasonable in why the two parties are in conflict, what its over, and where) - suspension of disbelief can only go so far, and the more that you give your readers the more that they will be willing to give up themselves for the sake of a good story.  Finally setting the scene will help you define your own style of writing and narrative; if this is your first attempt at creating a detailed Battle Report that has depth and is not just a description than you want to know how you do things and what your strengths are and a lot of us don't know what we're good at until we try, so setting the scene will help get that battle out of the way.

The components needed for setting the scene are myriad:  purpose for conflict; location of conflict; detailed explanatory scene; deep and intelligent (not necessarily smart but descriptive) narrating character.  This particular post will focus mostly upon the purpose for conflict.

You can find reasons for a conflict between your faction and your opponent's from quite a few sources.  A good place to start is in the codexes/army books/ Forces of Warmahordes/etc. for each of your armies.  Was there any sort of war or crusade between them there?  You don't have to make this part of that bigger fight but more of a continuation of the standard canon as the two sides continued to have tense relations and they escalated until it came to arms again (for instance the Damocles Crusade ended, but maybe certain Marine chapters were tired of seeing the Tau taking Imperial worlds back in their 3rd sphere expansion and so they have started to battle the Tau again, more like resuming the Crusade than anything else).  If there is no such conflict look for what the lore included in the books is saying in regards to what the factions are doing; for instance certain Necron dynasties are trying to reunify the galaxy under their rule again.  This would obviously not be in the interests of the Inquisition and so the Grey Knights may have deployed to counter an invasion of Necron forces upon some agri-world or another.  This methodology is one of extrapolation and simple logic, figuring out where certain groups may have problems.  But lets say that relations between the two factions seem to be just fine according to the codexes (this could be something like the Tau and the Eldar who are known to work together frequently).  Extrapolation is no longer such an easy route and so you need to start making things up.  Figure out what the priorities of these factions are and now decide what event could bring these two normally tight buddies into snarling monsters at each others throats.  In the case of the Eldar and the Tau, some ally of the Tau could have gotten his hands upon some chaos artifact and fled into the Tau territory to be protected from the Eldar.  If the Eldar did not explain things to the Tau properly (they are not known to bother with common courtesies when dealing with what they consider to be inferior races) and the Tau chose to defend their ally that would have violent consequences and create a bloody crucible (I love that word).

Of course you aren't limited just to those books I listed to look for inspiration, you can find it anywhere that you want to look (or if you are just struck by something out of the blue that works too I guess).  Books, music, movies, tv, board games, friends, any of these are valid.  If there is time and you are friendly with your opponent you could even come up with a reason before, during, or after the battle itself!  This can always be an entertaining exercise, and often you will find that other people have good ideas too, and because they have had their army longer than you've seen it they might have an idea or two about why they have fought with other armies.

Thanks for reading, I will be posting a link up to CanHammer's blog/podcast since they were nice enough to give me a shout out on Twitter.  Remember that if you want a link up on this site you just have to do the same thing!  Toodles!

*Later Edit (about 5 seconds later) - I realize that I already posted a link on the side.  Check it out anyways guys, you'll like what they write about and talk about!*

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Battle Reportification Part 2 - Preparation

Just thought I'd give Graven Games another shout out, they have been posting some really nice articles on their blog (which you all should have seen if you have been keeping up with your homework, hmmmm?).  One that really caught my eye is their scratch-building the Tau Manta out of cardboard.  That puppy looks massive, complicated, and just plain awesome and I want to applaud them on their efforts with taking on such a massive undertaking for sheer fun and sharing their experiences with the rest of the community, so bravo to them (I have no idea how many people are involved with the blog) for expanding out community and helping it out in such a positive manner!

Now moving back on to my own blog.  Lets assume that you are going forward with a Battle Report in mind.  You've already created your list, but what are the ways that you can record the battle so that you can remember it later and write/create your detailed narrative later?  There is no way to do it.  And if you believed that… don't use the internet.  There are in fact a variety of different methods:  a common one that many people like to do (as you will see if you look on YouTube) is taking a video camera and either recording the entire battle as I do (though I don't post it to YouTube, its entirely for my own use) or make brief videos detailing what happened in a player turn and rerecording at the end of the next player turn, and so on.  What all of these do is first show off the two different armies that are on the table, the table itself, and the mission and deployment.  All of the specifics are necessary if you want your Battle Report to be as accurate as possible.  Even if you like to embellish, at least know where you are coming from so that if you ever want to change one of your later revisions you can remember what actually was the case.  What is good about taking a video is that it will give you a picture of what you were thinking at the time of the recording, predictions that you have can then be analyzed at the end of the Battle Report, also your insights could be used and seem very natural and realistic in your story version if a commander or so had similar thoughts to your own.  Recording the entire battle could also show what the dice were like and so maybe you could choose that set of shooting that you managed to make all but one of your saves to write a detailed account of how epic that unit was as it dodged and withstood nearly everything that was thrown their way, and then to pulverize the enemy in revenge for their fallen comrade etc. etc.

Another popular medium for Battle Reports is taking photos while the battle is progressing, this has a plethora of pros:  you can use any sort of camera you want, even your phones; it is unobtrusive and won't interrupt a turn very much (so long as you do it during your opponent's turn and very quickly on your own); you won't feel awkward about talking to a camera while other people are staring at you; there is no editing for still photos, video you have to sometimes reshoot or cut out some of the overly loud background noise.  People also are more willing to look at your battle report because for some reason people have an aversion to watching a battle report that is a ten minute video (longer ones do exist, and the avoidance of those ones is a perfectly understandable phenomena) when the same amount of time is spent reading a good battle report that is text based with a few pictures.  Finally taking just those pictures can set the scene for your battle and also keep everything in perspective as you tell the narrative; you avoid the trap of simply recounting what happened and not analyzing when you don't take a video because you have given yourself time to reflect and don't have to rely just on the video media to tell the story.

The final option is taking notes on what is going on in the battle (of course you can always just remember what happened, but as far as I know only one person in the world has an impervious memory and I'm pretty sure he doesn't play tabletop miniature war games).  You can take notes in any way that you prefer though I will present you with several different options (as is my place in the life of a blogger).  You could use good old fashioned BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD pencil and paper to help you remember what you want.  You could make brief voice notes in some sort of microphone or portable recording device.  I've never seen anyone do it, but if you have a quick hand and are more artistically inclined you could make fast sketches of important points in the battle as they happen or battle scenes that strike you that you could use for inspiration.  Be careful of this as you do have very limited time and also want to pay attention to what your opponent is doing so that you can plan your own turn out.

If anyone has any other way of preparing for making a Battle Report you can mention it in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Battle Reportification Part 1 - The Basics

So just for this Blog I've decided to make up a word: Reportification.  Seems cool enough, but what does it entail?  Well let me tell you exactly what it does.  It means putting your experience on the tabletop into a story format that is one of several things:  entertaining, educational, or inspiring (I tried to come up with 3 E's but failed).  This concept is very simple, its entertaining if someone finds it enjoyable to read and tells a good story or vivid details of the action.  The Battle Report is educational if it shows how to do something tactically or tries to introduce a new idea for use on the tabletop that is not commonly used (or is new or previously unknown to whomever happens to be writing the report).  The inspiring piece involves making an attempt to get other people to do a variety of things as a result from your report, whether that is play more games, expand on the story you've written, create missions or scenarios that directly involve what you did or the world that you wrote the report in, etc.  Those three things are everything that I believe is involved in Battle Reportification.  Otherwise it is boring or useless and you might as well have spent that time painting models rather than typing up (or recording by video or audio) a crummy record of how things went down.

But wait!  I can't talk about how to make a Battle Report educational tactically because this is a blog about adding fluff!  Well first of all go bugger yourself I can do whatever I want.  Secondly what I will talk about (in the future) is how to make it educational and still maintain a story and narrative.  The best Battle Reports are able to combine all three of those elements that I already stated, and it is now my goal to show you how I think you can achieve all three parts of Reportification in your future Battle Reports.  Now if I can just figure out how to do this stuff for my own reports…

I will go into further details on Battle Reportification in future posts, this one is simply putting aside all of the things that I think are fairly obvious but by stating them are putting us all on equal footing so we can understand the entire discussion without having miscommunication problems.  When you are going to write your Battle Report there are elements to it that you need to keep in mind while you are creating it so that you maintain a coherent and logical story that works with the actual events on the battlefield.  One of these elements is that your battle report does not have to consist of squad alpha fired at the infernal chaos Daemonettes, and seeing that they failed the righteous zeal of squad beta was unleashed upon them.  The survivors of their onslaught were then incinerated by the holy flamers blah blah blah.  You need to get it out of your head that the entire thing is turn based.  Notice how Black Library does it.  What is important to their battle scenes is how everything is happening at once, its all chaotic, and every person involved only knows what they know.  They are not omniscient, so if you take a perspective when writing your Battle Report (which I strongly suggest but more on that in the future) make sure that they don't suddenly know about a daemon prince that deep-struck onto the other side of the hill.  The character that you are narrating through could get reports of it, but they take time and so even if you are trying to stay true to the chronological order of the battle there can be a delay in how things unfold in the Report.  My own Battle Report that I gave you earlier tried to do this (though in my opinion I believe I failed, but more on that later) with the reports that she was hearing through the comm unit in her helmet.  The readers also don't need to know how things happen as they do, you can simply tell them what the result was.  You do not need to make every assault narrated in graphic detail with gritty combat flashing everywhere in your text.  Do some of those, certainly, but if every one of them is like that then there is no way to make an assault that really determined the outcome of the game seem important to your readers.  It will seem like every other combat and the audience will be confused when suddenly it seems that this one assault of many swung the battle for seemingly no reason.

Those are all of the basics of Battle Reportification that I will go over for now, the next blog post will be on preparing to write a Battle Report.  Hope you enjoyed this post, and as always I will gladly accept any feedback, whether in the comments, via twitter, or by shooting me an email.  You can always email me at if you have anything that you want to talk to me about in private.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Designing a Planet Compendium

    So this is the order with links to the order that I believe things should be done with.  Nothing more, nothing less. 

  1. Ecosystem -
  2. Geography -
  3. Surroundings -
  4. Purpose -
  5. History -
  6. Cultures -
  7. Factions -
  8. Nations -
  9. Economy -
  10. Concerns & Motives -
  11. Current Events -
  12. Future -

Designing a Planet Part 15 - The Future of the Planet

I admit it.  I'm a sucker for shout outs.  Just today CanHammer tweeted about the blog and I couldn't help but put a link of their show on the side (you should notice it there if you look under awesome links).  I listened to their show as well (at least episode 1) and it seems really well done.  Good sound quality, intelligent conversation, excellent music, all in all one of the better podcasts I've listened to (and I listen to about 15 or so).  The show has actually gotten me a little interested in Fantasy just so that I could understand a little more of what they were talking about.  You guys should check it out if you can and are interested in Fantasy with some glimmerings of Flames of War and 40k.  If any of you give the blog a shout out elsewhere I will check out whatever you do to see it for myself and then give you a plug (Its pretty much guaranteed that I'll plug you, just want to check to ensure that you are legitimate and not some badmouthing whiner that I really don't want to be associated with *cough cough Stelek yesthetruthhurts cough cough*).  So just make sure you actually are supporting the hobby and not just b$#%#ing and I'll help you out (as much as a blog with 5 readers can).

On to the grand finale of Designing a Planet!  In this exciting post you'll see words that reflect my infinite wisdom and inspire you all to great things as you worship the divine author who spouts nothing but genius for the masses because of the goodness of his holy heart.  Ahem.  So what to do now.  You've created a finished product and are done with your planet right?  No.  What good is the planet unless you plan on doing something with it?  Now you have to decide where you want to take it in the future.  Do you have any back up issues that could be resolved by your heroes in the role playing party?  What about those details that you didn't use initially because you wanted to save them for later in your adventure.  Yes there was a reason that they did not play a major or any part at all in the current events.  Why was that?  Were there some details that were missing?  Did something about the concept of it strike you as 'off'?  In essence ask yourself what you could do to spruce it up and make it into a desirable addition to your world in the future.  Granted you could have done this when deciding the current events, but the beauty of this is that you didn't need to!  You already devoted so much work and material to it that you had plenty of material to make an interesting world that will foster a compelling narrative just by being what it is.

An additional part of designing the future to the planet involves more brainstorming.  This could be related to your planet as it currently sits or could come out of nowhere.  Curveballs are always a good thing (not to be confused with non sequitors in movies and stuff.  When there is no rhyme or reason for something that just sucks.  Make sure your curveball does actually come from some path or another and would fit the concept for the setting you are designing your planet for, whether it is starwars, 40, etc.).  A new development can really hold the interest of players in an RPG because they don't feel like the adventure is blah since they can't predict stuff that you haven't given them hints about!  Be careful when doing this though, don't overuse this strategy of adding to a story or campaign as it will in fact lose its luster because it will start to feel like the players are simply there for the ride and aren't actually solving anything when they can't do anything but wait for more tidbits from you since they can't read your mind.  The strength of this is its weakness, so make sure it is infrequently used.

But how can you brainstorm these ideas for things to add to your planet or to happen to it?  Lists often help, the thinking web I mentioned last time also functions well.  Look for inspiration from anything and everything.  If a thought occurs to you, file it away for later use (generally by writing it down.  If you are confident you will remember it then don't.  I won't criticize you on your personal habits regarding memory).  Books are always a good place to look, talk to friends that aren't involved and ask what kind of thing would be cool if it happened to a setting that they are familiar with (using star wars for instance since people not in 40k generally know that setting: if your world was a hoth-like world or somewhat similar ask what your friend would love to see happen to it just for fun or entertainment.  You might get feedback of things such as more exposure to those weird yeti things we see in that room for no apparent reason, perhaps a resurgence of the CIS from some cave that was unexplored, perhaps a mini-adventure as an underground rebel cell continues the fight against the empire after the rest of the Rebellion has fled the planet).  You may not have thought of any of these ideas and they are perfectly valid for your battle reports or so.

The final question is how to implement these ideas.  This is the tricky bit as I can't predict every scenario in which you can implement every possible idea for every possible planet that might be created.  As such my answers must be vague or else it might limit your creativity or put a cap on your courage to try something new because I said otherwise.  When a moment seems right to have something new happen, that is (obviously) when you can add something.  If you are writing a story oftentimes authors get hooked on just the main plot and don't go into any side stories and they avoid adding anything beyond what is necessary for the main script.  I've always enjoyed the most complex of books (Game of Thrones, Wheel of Time for instance) that have all sorts of perspectives, intrigue, and plots going on simultaneously so that you never know what is going to happen next and it is just fascinating to watch how everything interacts and unfolds despite or because of the different interests involved.  This may not be best for a RPG unless you plan on running one that involves multiple different parties that will interact with eachother through you mostly because of their actions.  This would take a very skilled GM who has a LOT of free time to devote to keeping the adventures all interesting for both players while logically keeping the parties separated so that it doesn't just become one massive party that joins together just because they all have giant PLAYER labels on their forehead.  Or on the other side of the token they could all kill each other and then no one wins and you are left with an awesome story to tell but no survivors or way for those survivors to get it done.

Another method of implementation could be using a random chart you create.  If you feel the need to add something you could compile all the ideas you have, assign each of them a number, and randomly determine (through dice, calculator, coins, random number generator, random number chart, etc.) which one will come to play or light at that moment.  This has its risks as well since it may not seem logical for something in particular to happen, but you always have the option of trying again and deciding on something that would clearly be a better idea.

Ways to tell that it is the time to advance your planet farther is when a campaign in an RPG is drawing to a close you can throw the players another hook so that they keep on going and the energy doesn't die (timing is key in case you didn't notice).  If players seem to be getting off topic and having side conversations that is another clue.  For a tabletop campaign if one side is beginning to dominate with no obvious end in sight you can throw in new abilities, technology, what have you that you created for the future of the planet to support the losing side so that it isn't just a slaughter-fest.  As I have always said just go nuts if you are writing a story.  Too many potential situations, so the only advice I have is run with it.  If it feels good keep going, if not get rid of it.  If you can't tell ask someone for their opinion on it.  Sometimes just pushing through the awkwardness you are feeling will solve the problem, or at least show you the way to fix it.

Jungle planet… I can't give you an example because that would be spoiling where I want to take it and we can't have that now can we? ;)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Designing A Planet Part 14 - Current Events

So here we are, just one post away from the end to this series on designing a planet.  For a heads up (ironically enough) the next and last part of it will be about where to take your planet from where you have created it.  Everything that I've said before this has built up to this moment.  You've created the history of the planet.  You've decided what surrounds it.  You've developed the nations and factions that inhabit and fight over this floating hunk of rock.  You've built a sense of purpose and culture.  This is your baby.  And now you may feel a moment of finality.  Now you get to play with everything you've made.  All that time and effort comes to fruition as you can draw from anything and everything you've done so far to finish all this work.  Lets pick apart what you probably want to do now to give your child some momentum before it begins to spiral out of your control.  These are your last few moments with it before it goes off to Kindergarten… I mean before other people get their sick, twisted hands on it and change it (those people are generally called the players in the RPG world)

Questions, questions, questions, I love asking questions.  What are you most proud of in what you've created so far?  What particular piece do you think is very detailed, unique, and just awesome and you want to see it come to play somehow?  Well use that to determine what is going on in the world.  This step is all about setting the scene for the story or campaign, so whatever that idea you like is there IS a way to fit it in.  If it’s a faction, make that the chief player as an antagonist for armies/players or a major supporting factor with all sorts of NPCs that are interacted with (at least that’s the plan), there could be signs (literal or figurative) of the influence and size of the faction throughout.  If it’s a particular minor faction that’s alright.  Perhaps they are a big deal in only one city but that happens to be the one that you want to base your story around or start in.  Perhaps it is not a city but just one particular industry or specialty that they have a name in… put their name anywhere that is relevant.  Take care not to throw things off kilter and keep the scale where you set it - remember you set it as a small faction for a reason - so don't ruin that identity that you've made with everything else.  One creation should not dominate everything and totally overshadow all the rest of the work that you've done.  Doing so is a recipe for disaster and a boring setting with only one interesting feature that quickly becomes boring because of the constant exposure to it.  There is such a thing as too much of a good thing!  But lets say it was a piece of civilian culture: craft some encounters where these details are developed or explained in a description of a campaign's narrative write-ups or the mission's description or even the story leading up to the battles that would give reasons for the conflict.

So where do you go after you've inserted your two or three favorite pieces into the setting?  This is where you will largely draw upon a combination of the history and large factions in order to give you inspiration.  Look at how a large faction could have taken advantage of a scenario set up because of how history played out and where might they have decided that they want to extend their reach towards or what new pieces have they taken over that others might have an issue with.  Or if others don't have an issue with it, try and represent how people are handling this change and create some potential character development or scenes with a conflict of the new culture and the old culture (i.e. I didn't have cars in my day versus it’s the norm to drop off your kid at school - generally it'll be old versus new).

Up to this point all of the elements of creating have involved asking yourself how things piece together and what logically goes with what.  Now is where you take some leaps and try and find particular items that will in fact do the opposite.  What will clash and make for an interesting development.  Perhaps things aren't exactly as they seem and that harmonious connection between civilian and military culture is not so seamless but is leading up to a clash.  All that time and effort spent making things work is still very useful, but now you want to pick at the potentially loose strings ust to make things interesting.  The best situations are often created from what seemed perfect or logical and so the simple changes are generally the best ones.

If none of those elements on the planet (or not enough) seem to be enough to create a situation, that is where the outside influence can jump in.  That was part of what th surroundings is for - a plot device.  Factions you originally had not come up with can suddenly want a foothold on the planet and act with such interests in mind, or an invasion from one of those other nearby planets could occur.  Maybe those other imperial worlds have had their own issues that did not come to light until now, and suddenly one or several of them are embroiled in civil war as the servants of chaos have thrown all pretense behind them and are now trying to convert the entire system to their heathen gods.  Remember that mining planet that seemed neutral?  It was always neutral up to now because it didn't want to draw attention to its own problems because it thought it could deal with them quietly and didn't want the inquisition stepping in.  Turned out they were wrong and the government has been overthrown and a fleet of chaos renegades is heading straight for the jungle planet.  Tell me that wouldn't create a story fit for black library or a campaign or just a bloody battle report.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Deigning a planet part 13 - surroundings

I realize that I hadn't said this anywhere, but if any of you have any sort of feedback then I would appreciate it.  What you like, don't like, what there is too much of, too little of, that sort of thing.  If you would prefer me to stay away from battle reports like the one I just did or you don’t want to see special missions I create then let me know, I'll take what you all say into account with what I do.  I will try to accommodate your desires as much as possible while staying true to my goal in creating this blog.  Secondly if any of you have suggestions on something you would like me to write up then I am perfectly happy with that, topics are something that are always welcome.

It seems that my Designing a Planet series is coming to a close within the next few posts, and though there is a lot of details of creating a planet that I have not talked about, most of it I feel involves processes that I have already talked about or just scaling down something that I've already written.  If there is something I dislike about the blogosphere at the moment it’s the repetitiveness of people all across it saying the exact same thing multiple times.  I do my best to stay original and interesting, and I hope I'm doing a good job of that.

This is a step that may have been useful earlier in the process.  I discussed it briefly in the History and Purpose posts, and it was not until now that I realized that it was significant enough and unique enough to deserve its own post and development.  I'm smacking myself in the head for this, but in any case moving on!  The surroundings of the planet should happen before you determine the history for sure, and the order that you do things will decide if the neighboring planets and systems are determined before or after the purpose.  Do you have an idea for what you want the planet to be like already, what it will do and how it will behave?  In that case the surroundings should come second because you don't want to stifle your idea with a setting that may not fit what you were so excited to create.  If you are just stepping into the realm of creation with an entirely open mind and are looking for inspiration this is a great place to start.  To repeat what I've said in the past, this action should give you inspiration for further development for when you need it.  What I haven't said in the past is the use of these other planets for the different purposes that you could be using this planet for.  If you are planning on running an RPG then the surroundings give the players options on other places to go to solve a difficult problem, new scenery if they get bored, more potential connections or antagonists, a sense of scale within the adventure, the list goes on.  For the tabletop, specifically within a campaign, these surroundings can be used as more battlegrounds to have your battles upon if you want to do a map style, narratively we have additional factions that are potentially in conflict for this region of space or the other planets are being used as bases by different races and they are each invading each other for dominance.  For normal battles that are not necessarily part of a campaign these different planets provide good reasons for different armies to be fighting against one another, even if they are multiple imperial armies because of the difference of opinions or various factions calling in favors within the different armies and the two armies are not even fighting for themselves as a result (e.g. grey knights versus IG or space marines).  For just a story… its pretty obvious what having multiple planets helps you with.  Basically everything.  As always.  [Little side comment here.  Stories are the playgrounds of the mind, I can't tell you guys how to work a story with different methods, only what I think are good ways and reasons to develop stuff.  Within a story basically you can do whatever you want with stuff so I don't want to restrict ideas by setting guidelines for stories that should be, in my opinion, free reigning].

How do you create the surroundings for the planet?  As always you ask yourself the questions of what do you want from it, how will it help or change things, and so on.  Make the usual logical steps  to develop the surroundings if you have a purpose and want the surroundings to fit what you have in mind for your planet, if not just go wild with ideas.  A good way to make up surroundings out of nothing is to just go on Wikipedia, go through random articles and use one that looks interesting as a jumping point for the concept of a planet or star base (for instance if you happened upon a random article about Tokyo maybe create a feudal world [derived from feudal japan being my first thought] that maybe has ties to the Space Wolves or so and from their you could do all sorts of things, whether you want the planet to be friendly or antagonistic, in conflict with the central planet or not, what-have-you).  If you don't feel like using the internet: first of all what are you doing on this page? Secondly you could do something most of us are familiar with called brainstorming by creating a web.  You start with a central idea/theme/detail and from there just write ideas around that you just come up with, then write other ideas that sprout from those.  Eventually you have a bunch of ideas that you could connect together and make a detailed setting with.  A third method of creating a setting is just stealing it from somewhere else you've seen it.  Do you like the Lord of the Rings?  Of course you do, you're a nerd.  So just copy and paste it, make some minor tweaks to add laser guns and replace swords with… chain-swords.  Very little you actually have to change.  Just now you cab add to its scale and everything that happens on Middle Earth you can now have affect the rest of the system and spill over.  You could just go to one of Dan Abnett's books and use one of his planets.  Who's going to know?  There are few planets he completely draws out, you can always change its name and add/change some other details yourself and thus you have minimal work while making it look like you have done a ton.  Of course how you look doesn't really matter, all that matters is now you have an excellent setting that is mostly explained and you can look back on for where you want to take your narrative.

My favorite Jungle Planet of course has the Eldar planets nearby.  Somewhere to the…. East are some Ork worlds.  Within the system itself is the gargantuan space port that was recently built to repair and construct ships of virtually any kind.  The Eldar are to the north (just one system over however.  The Orks are about 2 away).  There is one agri-world, a mining world, and three barren planets in the system.  It is a one star solar system, a green star (whatever the heck that entails.  I'll look it up some other time).  There is some flotilla of space junk that is slowly making its way towards the Ork system, but at the moment it stands between the Eldar and the Imperial worlds (this could be developed on the battlefield by a sudden ambush by the Eldar with forces that were unseen because of all the obstacles interfering with surveillance equipment).  The agri-world is fully operational and amicable, happy to give its tithes to the Imperium and what is needed to the Jungle planet - this is VERY good as the jungle planet can only create so much food anyways.  The mining world… its just neutral, never really important within the system's politics.  In general it remains out of any debates and decision making, staying quiet and asking only for the protection of the jungle world (which is the capital of the system).

Friday, June 15, 2012

Story 1 - Holding the Line

[I hope you all enjoy this, I spent a good 1 1/2 - 2 hours on this]

I hadn't been expecting on having to deal with Orks for a long time.  I thought the last time I would have to deal with them was all those of Waaagh! Boomblade.  Ethereals know that was as many Orks as any Tau should reasonably have exposure to in ten lifetimes.  But here I am again, preparing myself to re-enter the battlefield on the opposite side of them.

Fire Warrior Team Leader Shas'ui Dal'yth Vyk'tos looked around the briefing room that was crowded with other members of My'lok's cadre.  They had been through thick and thin, fought the savage Orks time and time again, had unlimited battles against Eldar of both craftworlds, Commoragh, and even corsairs, and repeatedly taken on the Space Marines and the Imperial Guard of the Imperium.  These wars seemed to go on forever, and for almost no purpose it felt like.  Eventually it would all end and Vyk'tos would know her peace, but until that moment there was only war.

She focused again on the briefing being given: My'lok may have held a higher rank than her, but he certainly never neglected his own duties and gave as much help for the grunts of the army as he was able.  Sometimes the troops wondered if he ever got any sleep from all the work they saw him doing and preparing.  In any case the mission seemed simple enough:  the war had deteriorated into one of attrition, a brutal trench war that left neither side with an easy victory.  That was why My'lok and his forces were being sent in.  They had ended so many campaigns quickly and efficiently before, hopefully they could repeat their previous success'.  Vyk'tos clearly saw how things stood: hold the ground we already possess (simply because it was fortified and the T'au did not want to have to retake ground that would cost lives to reclaim if lost needlessly.  The land itself is irrelevant), get into the No-man's land and control it, wipe out enemy forces and establish a foothold on their side of the trenches.  Easier said than done.

The army deployed itself into devilfishes temporarily to get to their destination before the vehicles dropped them off in their positions and most of them headed back to ferry other forces into much needed zones.  Arriving at the trenches Vyk'tos understood why this war needed to be ended as quickly as possible.  Nothing but ruins and devastation was left in between the trenches, barbed wire, unexploded munitions, and craters that provided little to no cover were all that stood in the No-man's land with two small multi-level ruins that still stood by some miracle or other.  The trenches themselves seemed in good shape defense wise, though blood stains were prevalent everywhere and patches of mud was visible below the wooden planking of the floor.  She nodded to the other Fire Warriors that passed her on their way back.  The briefing had said that they had been deployed for only two weeks on the front.  Logistics reported that they had received 25% casualties, an atrociously high number.  No one knew how many Orks had perished in the fighting.  The troops were too weary to even nod in return, supporting each other as they limped off the battlefield, several men only standing by virtue of the arms they had slung around the necks of their comrades.  Dirt and grime had almost entirely covered their armor, preventing Vyk'tos from identifying where this regiment had come from.  She pitied them for all that they had endured in just two weeks.  She was more worried on what was going to happen to her own force.  She motioned for her squad to take positions on the right flank of the trench, within the fortified bunker.

All around them the T'au of Dal'yth were scurrying into their positions, broadsides being deployed in the trenches immediately next to Vyk'tos and her squad, in the center the second squad of Fire Warriors stood mostly within the trenches with some few stretching back in order to maintain use of the communications device that was installed behind the trench.  To their left stood one of My'lok's lieutenant's with a bodyguard and some pathfinders in the other bunker on the far side of the trench.  Over the comm-lines the Kroot appeared to be readying themselves for a swift assault against the flanks of the Orks, planning on hitting them from the other side of the trench through their skills at infiltration and stealth, relying on speed and ability to allow them to cross the trenches without detection and carefully avoiding the dangers of the No-man's land.  The T'au were all in place once the Hammerhead and two devilfish glided into their positions, one devilfish next to each bunker and the Hammerhead behind the left of the center of the trenches.

The visuals being provided by the pathfinders that were being streamed directly to the feed on Vyk'tos' helm-monitor seemed to be showing the Orks having three Looted Wagons with very crude weapons mounted upon their hulls, and a bunch of Boyz infesting the trenches.  There was a much smaller force than she had been led to expect by the briefing, but then again who was she to question a stroke of good fortune.  All of a sudden, as if on cue the Tau began to fire upon the brutes on the other side of the battlefield, a fusillade of shots that tore through their forces.  Bullets then began to fly in their direction as well, forcing Vyk'tos to concentrate only on her own task.  Her job was to take out as many Ork Boyz as possible, and so she brusquely ordered her squad to lay down their firepower upon the boyz directly opposite them.  Even as this was happening massive explosions seemed to sprout into being everywhere, turning her entire world upside down as she tried to orient herself after the world stopped shaking.

She quickly wiped some mud off of her shin-guards and dashed back to her position in the trench and resumed firing.  She was pleased to notice that already all of the Looted Wagons were wrecks, several nothing but craters.  From the voices being broadcasted the Broadsides and the Hammerhead had worked together for immediate results.  Someone was whooping in joy at the sight of some Deffkoptas, previously unseen, blew themselves to the sky completely by themselves as they tried to cross the dangerous No-man's land on the flanks in an almost miraculous act of self destruction.  Already it seemed that the forces of My'lok were achieving dominance as no other force had so far.  And so the battle went for what felt like hours but actually was only about ten minutes, firing off shots at the remaining Ork Boyz until the rest of the Tau forces were brought to bear.  And then the Kroot appeared to the right of the battle on the other side of the trenches.  Screaming their war shouts they charged at the Ork menace, firing off shots into the air until they were able to hurl themselves at the Boyz nearby.  With the destruction wrought upon them by the Fire Warriors they were able to tear the Orks apart, magnificently dodging side to side and swinging their weapons in swift and brutal arcs that tore through the crude armor of the lumbering Orks.  Within moments the Kroot were cheering as they rushed towards more of the Orks.

It was at this point that the Ork strategy became apparent as a squad of Burnas appeared out of nowhere to torch the surviving Kroot to oblivion before they had a chance to wreak further destruction upon the lines of the green-skins.  Even across the battlefield the smell of roasting Kroot was evident, sickening the T'au and forcing several to vomit as the odor so similar to roasting chicken stained the air.  New orders were issued by My'lok and so Vyk'tos commanded her squad to pile out of the bunker to enter one of the devilfish that had remained with their army.  Upon exiting the bunker Vyk'tos noticed that not only had the lieutenant and his bodyguard rushed out into the No-man's land, but also some Ork Kommandos had appeared behind the T'au lines against all odds and had attempted to take out the other squad of Fire Warriors as well as the Hammerhead.  Even as she watched the Tau managed to shoot them to oblivion and then beat them down in close quarters combat.  The Kommandos disappeared from view however as the Devilfish landed to allow the Fire Warriors to board it and Vyk'tos waved her troops on board it, following them all last to ensure they all had made it in one piece.

She and her squad sat within the Devilfish, being transported into the deadly No-man's land to ensure that total control of it was achieved before the final push to the opposite side was initiated.  Being sealed within the pressurized Devilfish the only news of the battle came over the comm-channels.  Scattered reports came of a squad of Nobz appearing behind the enemy trenches and moving fast towards the trench - in fact towards the position of the devilfish that Vyk'tos and her squad was deployed in!  The Kommandos were entirely obliterated, and most of the Ork boyz were eliminated.  The second squad of Kroot had piled into their own devilfish and had intercepted the squad of Nobz, intervening to protect the Fire Warriors.  It was at this point that the Devilfish came to a halt and the fire warriors found that their transport had been struck by some fragments of an explosive that had just gone off, disabling the motors of the Devilfish despite the sensor spines technology that the Devilfish had been equipped with before deployment.  As it was the fire warriors deployed themselves outside of it, several quickly falling to mines, stray bullets from the Ork lines, or barbed wire.  They continued to move cautiously towards the center of the No-man's land until they commanded a complete view of the entire No-man's land and they watched as the last of the Kroot that had placed themselves in between Vyk'tos and her squad were cut down by the massed shots of the Orks.

But with the death of the Kroot the T'au found themselves with nothing blocking them from shooting at the Nobz now, and then the barrage became too much for the Orks and within two heartbeats all that was left was the Warboss, some Burnas (that reportedly had been shot at by other squads), and 3 Ork Boyz.  At this point the Orks all began to rout, and the T'au proceeded to mop them up, taking a few captives but completely overrunning this section of the trenches.  A complete victory for the T'au, the prowess of My'lok and his forces had been proved once again despite all the odds!