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Akempist

Need Help with Fluff

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There have probably been other discussions on this topic but as the background is evolving, I'd like to hear some thoughts on AoS fluff.

For me, I love the game, but have really been struggling with the fluff.  I thought I was just being a grumpy old man ... too fantastical, too spacey, not concrete enough, etc. ...but I really didn't put my finger on it until Gav Thorpe's interview on Heelenhammer.  They haven't done much to "humanize" the background and make it somehow relatable.  The old world had categories that were relatable (kingdoms, economies, political realities, real maps, physics, etc.); the AoS fluff seems somehow not anchored to anything that I care about fighting for.  There's a little traction in the whole Sigmar fighting back Chaos to save the other realms...but the realms seem to be sort of chaotic wastelands at this point anyway...so what's the point?  Rescue missions to save the pockets of people out there and bring them back to Azyr where they will be safe?  Seems reasonable.

I've read about half the existing books and fluff and I'm running out of gas for this whole story line.  The last one about the Celestant-Prime rescuing the Thriceblessed from the Chromatic King.  I'm still not entirely sure why they even care that the Chromatic King has a kingdom somewhere.  There are no slaves being freed, no resources that they need to acquire to further the war on chaos.  If I recall, it was just about finding another gate.  But why?  What do you need a gate there for?  So that they can come back and do what?

So does the fluff get better?  Do any real "relatable" stories start to emerge that ground the fluff and give some good reasons for fighting these wars?  Or maybe I'm missing something.  

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The point of the current fluff is the fact that they are taking stuff back from chaos and setting up a new civilization. Now if you want the new three cities to grow into something tangible then perhaps order need to win their summer campaign. In my opinion if you want to see how life is like from a normal guy's perspective, I recommend the books warbeast and bladestorm to see how they survive and what is at stake for the people living in a chaos controlled realm and it shows why sigmar and his warriors fight so hard. 

Edited by shinros

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5 hours ago, Akempist said:

There have probably been other discussions on this topic but as the background is evolving, I'd like to hear some thoughts on AoS fluff.

For me, I love the game, but have really been struggling with the fluff.  I thought I was just being a grumpy old man ... too fantastical, too spacey, not concrete enough, etc. ...but I really didn't put my finger on it until Gav Thorpe's interview on Heelenhammer.  They haven't done much to "humanize" the background and make it somehow relatable.  The old world had categories that were relatable (kingdoms, economies, political realities, real maps, physics, etc.); the AoS fluff seems somehow not anchored to anything that I care about fighting for.  There's a little traction in the whole Sigmar fighting back Chaos to save the other realms...but the realms seem to be sort of chaotic wastelands at this point anyway...so what's the point?  Rescue missions to save the pockets of people out there and bring them back to Azyr where they will be safe?  Seems reasonable.

I've read about half the existing books and fluff and I'm running out of gas for this whole story line.  The last one about the Celestant-Prime rescuing the Thriceblessed from the Chromatic King.  I'm still not entirely sure why they even care that the Chromatic King has a kingdom somewhere.  There are no slaves being freed, no resources that they need to acquire to further the war on chaos.  If I recall, it was just about finding another gate.  But why?  What do you need a gate there for?  So that they can come back and do what?

So does the fluff get better?  Do any real "relatable" stories start to emerge that ground the fluff and give some good reasons for fighting these wars?  Or maybe I'm missing something.  

No, I can relate to this issue too.

The fluff is way out there, or at least entirely random. By which I mean that there are too many open threads and not enough of a defined weave that those threads have a solid base. Here's What I've figured from it:

Things used to be that the Realms had their own patron god and their own way of life. Rainbows, lollypops, and sweet-smelling farts.

And then the Fire Nation Chaos attacked.

If I had to guess why, it's because all-powerful Sigmar is actually just the Silver Surfer. An all-Powerful, deity wishing Good, but actually is a realm's Harbinger of Doom.

Whatever. Sigmar united those realm's gods and created a unified force against the forces of EVIL Chaos.

Then, he dun fudged it. He pissed off Gorkamorka (by not letting him go on the offensive, especially when it wasn't tactically sound). Then Nagash (because he started stealing dead souls from him, which is a no-no). Grimnir went and suicided, Tyrion/Teclis and Malekith/Malerion figured they could take out Slaanesh and committed themselves to that cause instead of defending the rest of the realms. Alarielle became overwhelmed by Nurgle, because he's basically the real rapist of the four Chaos gods and focused solely on her, she went into hiding. Grungni said, "****** It" and realized the only choices were to help Sigmar or die horribly.

So while Chaos invaded, Sigmar shut the barn doors (All several thousand of them) to the rest of the world and poured all of his effort into building the ultimate Netlist. Then, as the last realm finally fell, he figured he better do something, so he unleashed his armies.

A goofy bit about closing the doors to a realm, it's like that shared hotel room in which both sides have to unlock it to gain access to the other room. Luckily Sigmar has a Fireman's Axe Lightning Bolt so he can sneak his hand a few of his soldiers into the other side and unlock the door from that side. Then he can murder defeat Chaos in it's sleep and free the mortal realms. Nothing like the The Shining reference I'm trying to mention.

Other than that basic story, there's a few story-threads that are interesting, like how the Warriors of Sigmar are slowly losing their personalities to become a single-minded legion of golems. Or whatever is going on with Nagash, or Gorkamorka. Or where exactly is Slaanesh?

Personally, I've just used the four-page rules to play a mostly uncomplicated game for fun. I don't believe the fluff has been fantastic enough to know more about.

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They are touching on the "greater story" in the campaign books. For the humanizing part you have to turn to the novels. It not much yet unfortunately but some of the novels describe human tribes or lost civilisations.

Personally I wish they would touch on that more, but the world is still in heavily in development so we'll just have to wait methinks. The Old World also took years to become what it was before the End Times hit. And GW is now just interested in advancing the story and selling your books and kits ;) 

I do think the monthly White Dwarf would be an excellent medium to expand the fluff more and deal with "everyday life" in the Mortal Realms.

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I'm pretty much of the same mind. The world(s) are so over the top it tends to escape too far from reality which is what has kept GWs game settings so popular. The Tolkien style historic feel lost and replaced with something that boggles the mind. On top of this there is so little foundation to the stories and setting. 

 

I think the game itself is great but without a deeper setting with more footing it won't catch interest. A history of the realms book I think would be very helpful in setting a foundation to the setting. 

Edited by UrFrndJenn

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1 hour ago, UrFrndJenn said:

I think the game itself is great but without a deeper setting with more footing it won't catch interest. A history of the realms book I think would be very helpful in setting a foundation to the setting. 

I can see something like this starting to inspire a bit more fan fiction too

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My initial reaction to the new fluff was that the new setting they've created is stuck between two chairs. It's not traditional fantasy, where you usually only have one or two worlds to deal with, and it's not sci-fi, where there are any number of worlds, but the story is restricted to things that happen between worlds. (Yes, I know that there are exceptions to both. Initial reaction, not hours of contemplation). We have eight entire worlds in the new fluff. Each of them rival the Old World in size. It'll take time to build up the character of the different worlds and sement that backstory.

In a way it makes a lot of sense that they started with the Sigmar/Chaos storyline. It's iconic, and picks up the thread from the Old World. As the other factions get their backstory it will probably add more and more complexity to the different realms. At the same time I think that GW will be cautious with telling too much, as it will limit their options later on. After all, what would be the point of larger realms and realms gates if all the fluff is set in stone?

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I can sympathise, I know the feeling. The fluff that we have feels nebulous and hard to pin down, which makes theming an army, with the little we know, hard; although i supposed GW are trying to give people the freedom to do whatever they want. I also have to keep reminding myself that the fluff we had took thirty years to become what it did and some of that changed beyond all recognition from when I started. Also from talking to the guys from one of the GW stores you get the feeling that the reason we don't have much more fluff than we do is because GW haven't decided/don't know which way the story is going to go beyond the basics. By the sounds of things the summer campaign is going to shape the next stage of the story and will affect how the fluff plays out. Hopefully when the summer campaign is over the fog will have lifted a bit. 

Anyway i've had more stuff to read, collect and play with in the last 12 months than at any point since I painted my first metal Orks nearly 25 years ago, so there's still plenty to keep me occupied.

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I like the high fantasy setting, it reminds me of Discworld.

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I think that the fluff for the surviving humanity that we have seen is actually super cool, it just kind of gets glossed over a lot of time for the action hero stuff. Which makes sense for purposes of getting excited about the game, because really, AoS is more a game of heroic combat in a fantastic (as in fantasy) setting. The setting that they have created deserves praise, unlike much of what they have done since, well, their beginning, in both fantasy and future games, is truly more unique and less derivative and that’s pretty awesome. Ultimately, their novels and audio dramas are really just glorified marketing materials to sell their core product, which is why we don’t get more about what it’s like to be a human, one of the free people, in the realm of death for instance.
 
A free people book would be really cool, but done “right” the war scrolls would all be kind of terrible in comparison with even the basic “troop” options of liberators, or saurus warriors, or whatever else. There could be some interesting individual scenarios where you hold out with whatever local militia as long as you can while your small town is destroyed, but ultimately, life is pretty hard in that world at the moment, with a great many turning to the worship of chaos as a survival mechanism than a choice of faith. 
 
I think that GW is missing an opportunity for world building via some more niche stories, maybe even a collection of short stories that they could offer for free similar to what they do with war scrolls set in their realms, maybe not by their top talent but by up and coming authors, focusing less on the “rah rah” action narrative, but more on life in the realm, and maybe just spend a bit of their editors’ time on it. I doubt they would have any shortage of quality submissions.

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The point was to kill Tokien high-fantasy because its too generic. All other major fantasy franchises (other than hobbit/lotr) have created their own unique fantasy IP, and GW wanted to move away from generic fantasy to do the same. I am a huge fan of generic fantasy so I'm sad to see it go but this is a new world with new opportunities.

All that really happened is the one generic fantasy planet turned into 8 diverse realms. A lot of the factions are the same, they just moved to a new place and time. Its sad to see the old places we know and love erased from existence, but its also really interesting to learn of the new places.

Its interesting to hear someone actually reading the lore. Most people complaining about the lore arent actually reading anything. Maybe its just not for you, that's fine - can't please everyone. I know a lot of people love the core lore of 40k with the emperor and the primarchs and the horus heresy - personally this bores me to tears. But there are a few misconceptions in this thread:

  • the realms are not crappy. They are diverse mystical and beautiful realms with awesome unique landscapes and rich lore. Most are having a lot of trouble - diverse issues, usually a lot more complex than a simple chaos invasion. Some realms have beaten back chaos, or are dominated by other races. Other than Life which is just completely corrupted by Nurgle (regaining the realm of life is the theme of the summer campaign).
     
  • The goal is not to kidnap people and bring them back to Azyr. It is to free their homelands from the invading forces of chaos (and other issues) so they can rebuild their civilizations in peace. 
     
  • The gates are key, which is why they are the focal point of the war. Every gate controlled by Sigmar allows his army to defend the realm. Every gate lost is a portal for chaos to spew its endless hordes. If Sigmar were to capture and hold every gate, chaos would be banished from the realms. 
     
  • Lots of people are mentioned throughout the novels. The people are not a faction really, just people. Some are warriors but really normal people have no chance in competing against the powerful and monstrous races that wage war in their reams. If you were to read a military book, there is not likely a lot of talk about all the people they are fighting to save, that's just an understood fact. All you really need to know is that there are lots of people in the realms and Sigmar is working hard to save them. I look forward to a free peoples book, but that will be specifically about a group of normal people who somehow became organized and got the resources to fight back as their own faction without the necessity for military assistance from other Order forces.

I find the books to be very well written and interesting, and the lore of this new world to be rich. Were still in the discovery phase, slowly uncovering each realm. Once the places and factions are established, the lore can start to specifically describe the specifics of places and people and explore more specific narratives (this is also discussed in the Gav interview)
 

Edited by WoollyMammoth
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The setup to me is that the Old World was like an amazing, intricately detailed domino puzzle, already set up, with a finger about to knock over the first domino.  Fantastic tension, waiting for the release of that first domino to fall.

For 30 years.

Tension, waiting, hanging on the edge of disaster.  Static.  Immobile.

For 30 years.

There wasn't a way to move forward - you can't un-tip a domino puzzle; once you set it off, the dominoes are coming down.  There wasn't a viable way backward - the tension would evaporate (see: Storm of Chaos).  They dickered around a bit with moving farther ahead a couple steps and threatening to knock the dominoes over from a slightly different starting point, but it was the same tension, and the dominoes would fall in the same pattern.

So they knocked them over.  There you have it, it's done (see: End Times).

Now with the Mortal Realms, we're watching them (and, to a probably very small extent, helping them) set up the dominoes on an empty surface.  No tension, just creativity.  It's a completely different paradigm.

timthumb.php.jpg

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2 hours ago, amysrevenge said:

Now with the Mortal Realms, we're watching them (and, to a probably very small extent, helping them) set up the dominoes on an empty surface.  No tension, just creativity.  It's a completely different paradigm.

timthumb.php.jpg

I think this is a really good metaphor. The Fluff right now is akin to somebody setting up knocked over dominoes. We may be getting a fantastic show later, which will probably last a few minutes, but until then its setting up dominoes.

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Yeah I agree, Amysrevenge is on point with his post in my opinion. 

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I see the realms in a stargate sg1 kind of way. With armies going out to unearth deactivated gates and free each realm from the starlord that rule them, OR as the starlords fighting to hold on to what they have.

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These are great points, I really appreciate the thoughtfulness.

I'm ok with them releasing the tension on the Old World; I completely agree that having a more dynamic storyline is great fun and is a different paradigm from what we are used to in 8th.  I'm not entirely sure that having a 'clean slate' that is full of creative options is mutually exclusive to building narrative tension or having a more relatable storyline.  I'm totally fine with the basic hyper-fantasy context of the new Mortal Realms, and I don't hear many folks who are struggling with the fluff have a problem with that necessarily, it's more that there doesn't seem to be many details concerning the motives and plot of the actors involved or basic logic about why they are fighting or what they are fighting for.  It's like a big budget movie with tons of special effects but very little plot or character development.

Look at Woolly's response for example which are good answers that I hear a lot:

On 6/24/2016 at 1:02 PM, WoollyMammoth said:
  • The gates are key, which is why they are the focal point of the war. Every gate controlled by Sigmar allows his army to defend the realm. Every gate lost is a portal for chaos to spew its endless hordes. If Sigmar were to capture and hold every gate, chaos would be banished from the realms. 
     
  • Lots of people are mentioned throughout the novels. The people are not a faction really, just people. Some are warriors but really normal people have no chance in competing against the powerful and monstrous races that wage war in their reams. If you were to read a military book, there is not likely a lot of talk about all the people they are fighting to save, that's just an understood fact. All you really need to know is that there are lots of people in the realms and Sigmar is working hard to save them. I look forward to a free peoples book, but that will be specifically about a group of normal people who somehow became organized and got the resources to fight back as their own faction without the necessity for military assistance from other Order forces.

The gates are key -- that seems to be the obvious point in all the stories so far -- but why?  These realms seem like complete wastelands at this point; ruins of civilizations with small pockets of people out there.  Why is Sigmar fighting for them?  Revenge?  That seems pretty petty for a god.  Maybe it is to push Chaos out of these realms to allow the native populations to rebuild?  That makes sense to me -- why not make that explicit?  Give us a peak into Sigmar's war room here and give us a strong narrative framework for why we're fighting.  You don't have to have all the details figured out, just make the main story arc for the Age of Sigmar (the actual age I mean) a little more explicit.  Maybe it IS explicit, and I'm just missing it?  I think it would be great fun to look at a particular realm, say Aqshy, and see a realm map with all the strategic points -- gates as well as more mundane resources that would be worth battling for -- in order to help the people that have not been Khorne'ified rebuild and take back their world.  As of now the maps I've seen have all been rather cartoony and fuzzy...hard to make sense of.  I think it would be great fun as a Grand Alliance: Order player to be able to pick out corners of one of the realms and build an army themed on the retaking of X in the great battle to reclaim Aqshy from the forces of Chaos!   (Or vice versa, to push back that punk Sigmar).  It could be about seizing a realmgate, but it also could be about rescuing enslaved people, securing natural resources vital in the rebuilding of the realm, protecting newly established strongholds of order, finding ancient relics in the land, etc.  These kinds of storylines would (for me) really ground the battles and push the fluff to a new level.  Then x7 more realms all with their own background, history, populations, etc.  

Finally just another quick point, Woolly in his second point above says that when you read a military book, there is not likely a lot of talk about all the people they are fighting to save... but that's exactly the point in my mind.  We're not on our world here on earth where those assumptions could be easily made.  We are in a very strange world with Silver Dragons floating in the sky puking rivers of silver and moons that swing so close it pulls everyone off the ground, etc.  I haven't see any realistic depections of normal people so far and I'm not sure that I can assume it either.  Woolly can you point to any of the books where these people are?  The most I've read of anything like that has been in the first book when normal people who have been on the run from the Bloodreavers for so long meet the Hammers of Sigmar for the first time which I thought was the best part of that story.  Besides the offhand character here or there who are resisting Chaos, I haven't read about any populations of normal people only the ruins of civilizations.  I totally believe you btw, I'm not trying to be a ******, I'd just like to read about it!  

 

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