Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
Enoby

Your preferred level of fantasy in the AoS setting

Recommended Posts

With the (hopefully) soon release of the Cities of Sigmar book, I've seen a lot of discussion about the level of fantasy in AoS. The two general points of discussion are:

"AoS should strive to make its own identity, including keeping the focus on epic fantasy locations and races, such as the Stormcast, Idoneth, and new Seraphon lore. Epic fantasy leaves maximum room for imagination and 'your guys' and so is perfect for a wargame setting. In addition, epic fantasy does not stop lower scale adventures happening within setting."

And 

" AoS should try tone down its level of fantasy to be more like the Old World, though not quite as low - so you still have epic fantasy things like Stormcast and Godbeasts, but they are a rarity and the vast majority of the setting is low magic. This lower fantasy setting feels more impactful and relatable as conflicts tend to be between normal(ish) people and sensible threats, rather than demigods and apocalyptic daemons."

I thought it would be good to have a place for this discussion as I've seen it crop up a lot. I have my own opinions, but I may post them later as to try and keep bias in the main post to a minumum. 

So, what is your preferred level of fantasy in AoS?  

Edited by Enoby
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the trick is achieving a setting with a high fantasy feel, but not one where it gets to a point where you have to bend over backwards to have regular people not be swept away by the fantasy. Ergo its great having Stormcast, but having Stormcast shouldn't mean that your freepeoples infantry nor your skaven clanrats or your regular dwarves etc.... - suddenly become unable to really meet the challenge in the lore and world. Where Stormcast* are powerful and elite, but not beyond defeat. Not beyond being outwitted and beaten. When the underdog has a chance in a fight.

 

Right now the AoS series launched with Stormcast marching proud for days on end; surviving on almost no food; climbing huge mountains and still able to run and fight a full battle at the top. Basically almost gods of war on the battlefield and unstoppable. They were and still are a supreme powerhouse. However it also left the idea that regular people couldn't really rise to the challenge of war in the Realms - that they were superfluous and to be left behind. 

Now the Old World had huge monsters and big powerful mages and warriors; yet they were always very few in number and thus the regular warrior had a good chance in battle. Right now AoS feels a bit heavily weighted toward the extreme side, which isn't bad, it just gives the impression of a huge power divide. Honestly all GW needs to do on this front is release some major enough stories showing regular people surmounting great challenges; beating even stormcast etc... (considering the purge Stormcast performed on the Free Cities I'm sure there's ample lore enough for a group to rise up and challenge the Stormcast). 

I'd be happywith that, a sense that the underdog is still very much powerful and that the Realms are not the sole domain of the supreme 

*It's not just Stormcast, I'm just picking on them right now because they embody the theme of super-powered really well

  • Like 7
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Always here to chime in with my jaded unpopular opinions.

When even base-line foot soldiers are all 100% fantastical super-powered beings, living in impermanent dimensional realm settings, that's when immersion starts breaking for me.  ACTUAL super-beings like Archaon and Alarielle have less impact to me when there is less contrast between the super beings and the ways of regular mortals/elves.   At least having some consistent, lower fantasy elements woven throughout the story and throughout the factions helps to ground things and sets the importance of things that transcend from the mortal. 

At a certain point, with certain factions (at the risk of sounding elitist), the miniatures can begin to look less like representations of troops in a "real" conflict, and more like toy action figurines.

  • Like 11

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We need a spectrum. Fantastical exists only in comparison to something. When daemon, stormcast and orruk fight, their power means nothing to us unless we know how any of them compares to normal human.

Look how 40k does this: They have normal human factions in the world of epic-scale monstrosities. We *know* that imperial guard are professional, disciplined force, they go through rigorous training, both for shooting and close combat, we know their basic gun is more powerful than any modern equivalent... but in 40k stats they're at the bottom. Because everything else is better at everything. But we wouldn't know how much better if it was just 'space marine is very good at everything'. We need 'space marine is way better in every respect than this elite human soldier and can take on several of them in a fair fight.' And now we understand.

Also! Normal human faction attracts its own fans, because a human standing against all this fantasy horrors is badass beyond measure. What others achieve through raw strength, mystic powers and who knows what else, they do through teamwork and ungodly amount of determination.

So yeah, I think the game simply need a 'low fantasy' faction for the setting to function properly.

  • Like 11

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am firmly in the second camp. AoS has too little grounding for my taste, it's too superhero cartoony.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As others have said, we don't really have a baseline to compare everything to. Most of the armies are supernaturally empowered and feature aspects that we as regular people can't exactly relate to. Most fictional settings need something that the reader/viewer/player can look at and compare it to themselves. Like @dekay mentioned, Imperial Guard provide this in the Warhammer 40k setting as they are more or less regular humans and we are able to see from their interactions with the universe, even if they are a trained military force, the way the universe affects regular humans. Want to know how a regular human fairs against Tyranids? Look at their encounter with the Imperial Guard. We have Cities of Sigmar releasing soon so we might get to see some of this in AoS. Again, it's hard to relate to a setting and ground yourself in it if you never get a sense to what the reality of the setting is. A lot of things in the game seem so fantastical that it's so hard to imagine how anyone could possible live in such an environment let alone thrive and create civilizations. My most hated argument is "What does it matter? It's fantasy, it doesn't have to be realistic". What's the point of the setting if nothing has limits or boundaries? It just becomes a playground argument where children continue to invent even stronger and more outlandish events until the bounds imagination are stressed. Battles and struggles look less like a gritty battle of good against evil and more like a Saturday morning romp of Marvel super heroes against the weekly villains. Hopefully we can get some relief from this problem with Cities of Sigmar (as much as I despise that book) and the upcoming RPG. 

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also note the Novella stories have fleshed out some regulars quite well. War Queen shows how a group of regular Slaves to Darkness can not only survive but rise to rule over even a Chaos Legion. 

Meanwhile the adventures of Gotrek are likely to show us a lot of the mundane. The Novella for him shows his journey through a desert region and introduces us to quite a few regular people. It also gives us a taste of Witch Aelf combat and shows that, for all their prowess they are not alone in being able to master the dances of death (though whilst some men can get close they are not as good as a pure aelf - keeping in mind she's already a high ranking Witch aelf). 

 

The Realmwar novels and many of the early stories like Pestilens were very much superhuman stormcast charging in to win the day and save the weak humans. However I'd note that at the height of development I'd wager that when the realm of Chaos burst in the realms were not at their most military strong. The widespread development and peace at the end of the Age of Myth had likely made many soft and easy targets for a massive surprise Chaos invasion - not aided by the fact that the gods went into full retreat. The mundane keepers of the woods (dryads) were overwhelmed not just with infection and invasion, but also the loss of their God Queen (and from what I can gather reading around her mad remorse and giving up bled into her people and the forests). 

The RPG lore will likely really flesh out the mundane regular peoples even more since that's just what its designed to do. I think at present without Cities of Sigmar being front and centre and with Stormcast being the focus the writing and lore we are casually and directly aware of has been twisted toward the more superhuman. I think as more lore comes out; as more armies are developed we will see that the mundane are very much there.

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like (pseudo)-historical, with a twist of fantasy.

Plus, i tend to be more interested in the mundane lives and concerns of low-level elves/humans/daemons/skaven (etc.) than the stories involving powerful gods and emperors.

That said, i only need one army, so if CoS works out i can just happily go full Kislev, and leave others to enjoy their flying sharks and new-fangled bone-whatsits*.

*shouts at cloud*

Edited by Kyriakin
  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The very nature of the setting is going to lean more towards the epic side, but I suppose it is somewhere in between (or should?). There is probably room for both the mega-ultra-epic-magical heroes and the lowly life of a filthy starved peasant, even if the former seems much more prominent. Maybe the later comes with time, as the setting gets further foundation.

I personally prefer the later. It simply is what I enjoy in all these fantasy worlds. Could also explain why I have a hard time getting interested in the fluff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

E

 

P

 

I

 

C

 

(Please.  I never really bought in to grimdark "realism", either from GW or from the wider modern fantasy fiction community, and always steered my oldhammer toward the epic even when epic wasn't the best gameplay option.)

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The more super hero and cartoony the better IMO.  Low fantasy or "realistic fantasy" I don't think sells well and GW also then has to deal with other companies making rip off models a lot easier.

Crank the dial all the way up GW.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, Dead Scribe said:

The more super hero and cartoony the better IMO.  Low fantasy or "realistic fantasy" I don't think sells well and GW also then has to deal with other companies making rip off models a lot easier.

Crank the dial all the way up GW.

What do you like about he super hero and cartoon style? I'm curious as I have not really heard an argument for it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My benchmark for fantasy tabletop gaming is Mordheim.  I like hopeless filth.

The great thing about Age of Sigmar is that you can really make it whatever you want. I like the perverted historicity of WHFB but I also quite like the vast freedom of the nine realms.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

¿ Porque no los dos?

I've got no problem with ultra-high fantasy as long as there's still lower fantasy stuff to contrast it. That's part of what I liked about Fantasy, everyone says it's gritty and low-fantasy, but that really only applies to some parts of the world. In the Empire and Bretonnia you've got baseline humans no different from any of us fighting in petty border wars and living off of 3 month old potatoes, while half a continent away sentient dinosaur people are fighting elves riding dragons while giant frogs are holding a magic vortex together that's stopping the world from drowning in daemons summoned from super-hell.

High fantasy has an integral part in every Warhammer setting, just like the basic stuff does. Focusing on one side is a mistake, the juxtaposition is part of what makes it so interesting.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Vomikron said:

My benchmark for fantasy tabletop gaming is Mordheim.  I like hopeless filth.

The great thing about Age of Sigmar is that you can really make it whatever you want. I like the perverted historicity of WHFB but I also quite like the vast freedom of the nine realms.

Yes, the ability to potentially combine "race/faction + realm/theme" (e.g. Fire Aelves, Ice Goblins, Pirate Vampires, etc.) is potentially awesome, and not really possible in the World That Was.

I'd love to see an official warscroll editor, where you could edit the image, fluff, background colour and descriptions to fit these custom themes (while obviously keeping the hard numbers the same).

Edited by Kyriakin
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Ironbreaker said:

What do you like about he super hero and cartoon style? I'm curious as I have not really heard an argument for it.

Not the poster in question but I also love the over the top style. 

As someone who’s geeky background comes from superhero comics and movies, I love the mortal realms. 

The idea of a grander mythology is something that’s always appealed to me, with ancient myth and gods being one of my favorite sources of literature. The Iliad has superhero style heroics yet is still one of the greatest stories ever told. The same goes for Giligamesh and Enkidu. These characters that are greater than possible in more grounded stories are also then given room to grow as a character into their greatness. 

The juxtaposition created when you have these characters of immense power, who are sacrificing everything for the greater good, yet still doubt themselves is a great way of displaying humanity and story. Superman comes to mind, as he is regularly considered the most human superhero, despite his godlike power. 

Another thing I love is the awe factor created when you see characters interact with these greater beings. You get a real sense of grandeur and heroism when a character like Gardus is being written, someone who is both immensely powerful and moral, but also tiny and insignificant in the conflict. 

This is all further enhanced when they have regular people to bounce of and highlight their greatness, so a balance is the best case scenario imo. My favorite scenes in AoS are when regular humans react to the great things that these super humans achieve, whether it’s Gardus singlehandedly demolishing a chaos lord or Arkhan dueling a whole army by himself. 

Everything has merits, and I think it would be better for everyone if they were open minded to all options. The beauty of AoS in its current form is that you could play out your own entire kingdom the size of WHFB and have it isolated from some of the greater events going on. 

Edited by AthlorianStoners
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Vomikron said:

My benchmark for fantasy tabletop gaming is Mordheim.  I like hopeless filth.

The great thing about Age of Sigmar is that you can really make it whatever you want. I like the perverted historicity of WHFB but I also quite like the vast freedom of the nine realms.

This is basically the single most important reason why I returned to the hobby.

AoS feels so much more free than WHFB did, I like that GW has created so much room for people, both themselves and hobbyists, to be really creative.

My own preference is the weirder and wackier the better...

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think some of the newer lore has done a very good job of balancing the high fantasy of AoS with the grim dark of Warhammer. I just finished "Black Pyramid" by Josh Reynolds. It features a sea of sand where hordes of zombies buried in the sand become a "reef" and a threat to those sailing alongside a beastman who talks to ghosts. It also has a group of Dwarves who chant the names of the fallen while manning a gun line and Freeguild mercenaries who squabble for coin. By mixing the two, you get the raw creativity found in AoS with the emotional core provided by the more human characters. Notably, it also goes out of it's way to humanize the Stormcast, who are still angelic heroes, but experience doubt, exhaustion, and have their own personality quirks. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I definitely prefer low fantasy; but that said from a hobby perspective though i greatly loved the Old World still HATE how stormcasts look feel ect. the AOS setting and it's abstraction is better as a  setting  for the hobby's sake. My army can be a bunch of Gummy Orruks made by a sweet toothed goblin Shaman,  Zulu inspired Madmax Kharadron overlords, Bronze Age Aelves whom use nothing but determination and faith to defend their homes, Cathar inspired Humans who believe all realms corrupt and seek to absolve all souls by combating the Gods with Steel and elan  and more. This can have a lot of potential for creativity for a hobbyist, but something is needed  otherwise I can just bring my Kalashnikov armed human minis and tanks somewhat undoing the fun side of things. I feel grounding the world on the lower fantasy side helps that more then on the head in the clouds of epic fantasy side.

I feel some who played fantasy( a setting I love and whose blowing up was frustrating) may be too hard on the AoS setting forgetting how ridiculous it had become via distance from its development and it needing to be MOAR GRIMDARK each passing edition without the story developing. The old worlds self awareness had fallen apart in some regard and kinda been stuck in a rut for a decade(well all GW settings have we need only look at how unironically people  go into 40k's imperium of man ignoring all evidence it as an admonishment of much of the horrors of western history with a Heavy Metal magazine coat of paint).  the context of the world seemed to wane as fantasy got older and it lost a bit of the stuff that made it special for the same over top cinematic feels that many of the fantasy fans hate in AoS but forget about happening in the prior setting(the Grimgor Ex Machina ending of the storm of chaos campaign being a silly over the top peak example) . There was even a  whole WD article on how to play a low-fantasy game as the army styles of the hobby structurally took the setting with them and left the Low fantasy elements behind, for an over the top world of angst, skulls and joyless guitar riffs. no more influence form cascading alliance or ambitious lords disrupting the good guys, skirmishes escalating to full blown wars. God like beings couldnt be undone more loosing to keep the story going as factions power was too great to loose but we still need to sell minis, everything an epic battle no more series of skirmishes and rival generals leading to a escalation into conflict. Another Mass Chaos invasion overruns everything, One great epic battle where a chosen one beats a dark lord evey Tuesday. cosmic horror of chaos fell to a almost too grimdark setting that it lost it's  function and became stagnate (Bretionnia Peasant taxed eating nothing but mud,  350th this week imperial noble turns into a chaos spawn yet the empire is still a thing ect., Slave ship raids that capture 100,000 souls every year from a small rural agrarian community).

I do prefer to have something more complex and down to earth in my Hobby as otherwise it becomes a bounce back of Macguffins, Kryptonite and dull over the top cinematic in what is not a actionable medium( we are in the end moving plastic based on pips on other pieces of plastic after all). It is almost frustrating how GW's epic fantasy setting seems to circles to avoid interesting topics in depth that may undo the "fun" parts of the settings aesthetic.  Sormcasts instead of being looked at for the trauma and  their inhuman nature of this compared to us the reader. The over the top aspect action is often the central point and if it's the constant it can  become dull because its the norm. This somewhat could be used to make things more interesting when comparing how a more mundane force may make up for it's lacking macuffin through plans. Human militia holding back a nighthaunt flood able to out do Stormcast as their mortality and interpersonal connections allow their blades to strike with confidence and passion that the sigmar's scions unfeeling undying nature can not mimic. Orruck's over confidence in their individual martial skills leads to their destruction by a Necromancer and Her employment of Defeat in detail.  .those Khorne froth mouthed lunatics may be terrifying in battle but you no what there terrible at logistics,  a Story of commanders trying to maintain political backing on a Fabian campaign against a Daemon led horde can easily be filled with all of AoS over the top comic book style.  It's mot that ou their because the setting is so grand but coming to limits of  the consumers as people who cant connect to a fire infused suit of armour with tentacle's would greatly help.

Edited by Evangelist of Cinders
  • Like 6
  • LOVE IT! 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would keep current design. Armies like Sylvaneth, Idoneth, Kharadron Overlords, Nighthaunt, Kurnothi, Gloomspite Gitz, Ossiarch Bonereapers are what I expect from Warhammer right now. With all the respect - I can't imagine something more boring like reanimating Bretonnia, an unoriginal faction of conmon knights and soldiers. This is THE MOST IMPORTANT aspect of AoS for me. Brand new armies with al lot of details even among basic troops making them look like heroes. It's a joy to paint and look at them. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
38 minutes ago, LoopyZebra said:

I think some of the newer lore has done a very good job of balancing the high fantasy of AoS with the grim dark of Warhammer. I just finished "Black Pyramid" by Josh Reynolds. It features a sea of sand where hordes of zombies buried in the sand become a "reef" and a threat to those sailing alongside a beastman who talks to ghosts. It also has a group of Dwarves who chant the names of the fallen while manning a gun line and Freeguild mercenaries who squabble for coin. By mixing the two, you get the raw creativity found in AoS with the emotional core provided by the more human characters. Notably, it also goes out of it's way to humanize the Stormcast, who are still angelic heroes, but experience doubt, exhaustion, and have their own personality quirks. 

Black pyramid seems like a good place to start AoS lore then.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't want geedubs to stop going towards the most EPIC over the top things they can imagine. Also I like normal humans because as mentioned - humans standing against all the horrors of mortal realms with steel, gunpowder and fireballs is also EPIC! The fantasy races like elves, dwarfs and orcs on the other hand can be completely remade into their own things, like DOK, IDK, FS, KO and IJ.

So yeah, I want AoS to be high fantasy whille retaining avarage Joes and have as much uniqueness in faction design as possible.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I fall into both camps tbh.

On a game-playing basis, I love fielding those demi-God immortal factions like SC, Tzeentch and Death armies. Imagining those epic confrontations as I play them out on the tabletop, is wargaming-popcorn fodder! It's so much fun, and 'Hollywood' cinematic.

And yet here's the rub, at least for GW.

While it's fun to play, and the lore as written in the rulebooks is interesting, it is soooooo dull to read, naratively. I've picked up several AoS books and even audio-books, and never finished them. That's not due to the writing either. Soul Wars, for example, is well written, but the deus ex machina of the main characters, even trying to make them more vulnerable/human, doesn't create captivating drama. How do mortals empathise with gods beyond envy, or on occasion, relief? And one can be too epic fantasy for their own good, you know?

So for me, the quandary that needs solving, is how does GW promote a product line that can be dull naratively? Not the way they are currently. I am firmly in the low fantasy/ mere mortal camp when it comes to reading AoS. It's far more engaging.

Yet will embrace AoS epic fantasy on the tabletop. 

I would rather see GW promote AoS minature product lines outside their Black Library books then, and use the books to provide more engaging, realm setting adventures, personally.

Edited by Mcthew
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...