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Moldek

General Narrative discussion

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Hey everyone,

There was an interesting discussion on the general hobby chatter thread. Basically people mentioned the general feeling that competitive play is the most visible side of AoS (on this forum and most other places) and seen by a lot of players as the only « right » way to play Warhammer.

Rather than whining and bitching about this, there is another way. We need to talk about it. We need to get threads on the home page. We need to share and discuss and comment. We need to get the word out!

So here is a topic to freely discuss anything narrative / open play related. Obviously we can create topics about our ongoing projects and so on, but this one can be the hub where we share half-assed ideas, ask quick feedback on scenarios, explain our newest houserule or daydream about the hobby.

I’ll start : due to lack of opponents I’m not really playing AoS proper right now, but I am really into warcry. In a couple of weeks I’ll be flying to spain to have a one-day mini campaign with an awesome painter / converter. I am writing the scenarios and converting an undead warband; I’ll definitely post more about it as the deadline approaches...

So what’s going on with you?

 

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I've got lots of interesting plans, though how many of them I'll actually get to do is another matter.

What I really want to do is a map based narrative campaign, with a strong Kingdom Building element to it. There is a region of wilderness, somewhere adrift in the multiverse, with gates to all eight realms. None of them are very accessible gates, and few people know of them, but if exploited then they could be another all-points. Word is gradually spreading, and factions in all of the adjacent realms are beginning to send out expeditionary forces to establish outposts in the frontier. But these strange new lands are far from uninhabited, and ancient crumbling ruins at their centre suggest that *someone* knew of this place in the dim and distant past.

Effectively every player would control their own little colony, in a game that would be a bit like settlers of Catan with warhammer battles. Scouts would have to be sent out to find locations with useful resources and claim them for the kingdom, by building outposts and forts. These can then be upgraded into larger settlements once more resources are secured, but the different colonies will soon come into conflict along their shared frontiers, and various NPC factions will be randomly encountered on the map as well.

I plan to use a hybrid of the path to glory rules and the points system. Effectively each player will start out with a single path to glory warband, but will be able to gain more troops as they establish more settlements. If all goes well then they should fairly soon have small standing armies garrisoning each of their settlements and outposts. However how many of those troops they send to any given battle will vary. Some games might be small skirmishes between groups of scouts, while others might be larger pitched battles. In that case there will be an element of seeing how well scouts and spies can report on enemy troop movements. Players will effectively have to try to use espionage to find out how many points worth of troops any given general is committing to a theatre, and decide whether they can commit that many troops themselves without leaving a settlement undefended in ork infested hills etc.

I'd ideally like to end up with a mix of big games, skirmish scale games, maybe even play underworlds and warcry from time to time, as small adventuring parties head off to explore the ruins. It will all form part of the unfolding narrative, and each player will have a real attachment to their kingdom (or tribe, or what have you.)

I like the idea that there will be a strong roleplay componant as well, with players sending diplomatic missives back and forth. What happens when your order city is besieged by the undead, and sends out messengers asking for help? Will another player come to their rescue, and what if that happens to be the Chaos player, and their aid is contingent on your kingdom turning to the worship of Tzeentch?

There is so much potential!

Naturally I've yet to be able to persuade anyone I game with to actually play it with me. At this rate I might just do it on my own, with my kingdom pitted against NPC factions, but that would miss out on a lot of the more RP-y parts of the experience.

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@EccentricCircle those are all great ideas! It does seem like a lot of commitment, and a lot of work for you. Maybe you could start with a very light core and build it up as the people you game with get into it?

For instance write a custom scenario where 2 armies come upon each other in the ruins near a realmgate, and are attacked by a npc faction (played by you). Have a couple of secret objectives for each player maybe. Just get the ball rolling and build on what the players like. 

I think with narrative there’s a balance to find between having solid « systems » and emerging narrative. Your opponents might get into it more if it starts as a normal game or campaign with a story. They get attached to their characters, rivalries form, then you reveal an awesome campaign map... I’ll be in my bunk.

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Due to our discussion yesterday I got some ideas for asymmetric battle plans, maybe bound into some loose campaign structure.  I will see what I can write up in the days to come to expand on that idea.

I also found the idea of underground tunnel fights quite interesting. There is a system for this in Border Town Burning, where the opponents explore a tunnel system by pulling floor tiles at random once they reach the end of the current tile. Shouldn’t be too difficult to change the tunnel size so it can accommodate a small AoS-army of, say, 1000-1200 p. Maybe even starting divided and lost, with Meeting Engagement rules. 

ps.:Border Town Burning is a great inspirational source for AoS-scenarios I think. Main theme is the exploration and conquering of exotic lands, which should fit nicely into the unexplored areas of the Realms. And it’s fan made and free to download on the Internet. Just google it. 😊

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I run a small narrative night. It's super simple rules. Up to 1k if models, no build restrictions to army. And most importantly, leave the cheesey stuff at home. 

It's worked really well. We've been playing customised mission and setting an additional overriding rule each time to act as the narrative. For example one time a heavy rain had fallen turning all the lands into swampy quagmires. So at the start of each movement phase you had to roll to see if you can move as normal or if you are stuck in the mud. 

I'm also running a relaxed campaign system, where each player who wins scores 3 points for the grand alliance of the faction they are using, or they can reduce it to 2 points to represent their warband acting as mercs for another grand alliance. At the end of the night, the grand alliance with the most points wins and gets a very soft bonus that gets applied to all models of that grand alliance for the rest of the campaign. For example, Order won the fight in the marshy swamps, so gained +1 to move, representing their ability to overcome the sticky mud. Then when the next night happens, everyone battles it out again. It means if people can't make a session or two, they aren't penalised in the campaign. 

Overall the main aim has been to get models used that aren't normally used. I've been using ogors (until the new book obs) and StDs/mixed chaos. We've had troggoth lists, pure skaven war machine lists, even had someone use pure heroes using all the heroes from Silver Tower. The main thing about it being narrative is that it's been lots of fun. Players are making decisions based more on what their models would do rather than what is the better tactical decision. And at 1k size, most players are getting in 2-3 games each in an evening. 

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@Beastmaster asymetric battleplans are a great idea, and I think a great way to emphasize the interest of narrative. For instance if one player has a smaller force and must try to defend their territory for as long as possible, while their opponent can respawn their units. The defender already knows he’s going to « lose », but there can still be tense and tactical moments. Fighting environments like tunnels can be a great way to add some flavor to a battle too. I’ll definitely check out border town burning!

@Tropical Ghost General Your narrative night sounds super cool. The opportunity to play weird lists or models that wouldn’t perform well in competitive play is really nice. I think it’s cool to take some of the pressure off of having only super efficient units, and being able to play with your cool toys. I want to see silver towers heroes vs 1000 pts of clanrats haha. I’ve always liked smaller battles, I feel that a 500 - 1000 pts army can more easily feel like « your dudes »...

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Lots of great stuff going on here! I struggle to find people that like AoS beyond its generic approach, so my plans of campaigns or other crazy stuff are swiftly thrown out the window. In any case....

A while back, I started adapting the whole Dark Shadows campaign book into AoS rules. The scenarios, Albion weather table and inclusion of the Truthsayer and Dark Emissary were soooo cool. It's now stuck but might one day find the motivation to continue.

Currently, I'm painting up a random assortment of heavily converted models for skirmish. Going to test some additional skirmish rules (they may be found on another thread in this subforum) as I see lots of potential for a full-blown ruleset. Might post battle-reps!

I'm also designing a skirmish game with unique gameplay and sand-box structure, which in itself is not an AoS game, but could very well be used to play in the Mortal Realms as it is not tied to any setting or miniature line. It's quite exciting :D

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@VBS very interesting, especially the skirmish game. I’d love to see your system. Maybe we should make a game design thread!

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I've been thinking that a pinned-thread compiling all "Extra-AoS-Rules" designed by people would be a good idea. Otherwise, the different posts get lost as they are further pushed back. That way it would always be visible on the Narrative subforum. But we need a mode for the pinning (yes?).

Thanks for the interest in the skirmish game! Soon going to start the first phase of testing for the game and hopefully set up a website with all free for download further down the road (and printing physical copies ;)) .  It's quite "out there" for a tabletop skirmish game as it doesn't use dices, model stats are built on a very varied but easy to understand sort of RPG-system and it is balanced (hopefully haha) without using points! But I don't know if non-AoS-games content is allowed on this forum?

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It’s probably a bit out of the scope but I guess if you set your game in the mortal realms it could work. Or really just do it and we’ll see if it’s a problem; it’s not like this is the main hub of the forum 😂

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Having become disillusioned with the cutthroat Rock Paper Scissors aspect of the main games I'd love to get some serious narrative games going.

Now having said that, I have never had much luck with it in the past. I imagine cool interlinked battles with GM'd elements and a desire to just enjoy the story of it but every "narrative" campaign I've participated in has just turned into matched play with a thin layer of "I like the story of the current meta builds"

Whenever I have asked in the past the best answer I've got is "Don't take/allow the cheese/broken stuff" which I get but seems rather nebulous and hard to get people to buy into if it's all "AoS is balanced because tournament goers taking the most egregious armies possible have a decent spread of books with brutal builds in them" players.

So I will be following this with great interest as I'd love to hear how people have approached this and succeeded.

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@Eldarain that seems to be a common problem. Between people who can’t pass up an opportunity to cheese and people who just happen to be good at list building / tactics...

Do you know at least 1 or 2 players that share your approach? I think you could probably start with just people you know will have a healthy attitude and go from there 🤔

To be honest I’m not the most experienced when it comes to all that, I mostly tend to convert my non-wargaming relatives. They usually have a pure mind, untouched by cheese and aware that it’s a game of pretty toy soldiers.

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I could see the clean slate approach being helpful for sure.

I'm helping a friend organize a Warcry Narrative Campaign. So that will be a good barometer for future efforts. We've removed any reward for wins. Everything is best story, painting/conversion and master manipulator award to go with the economy system he's creating (similar to the original triumph and treachery)

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I think besides the obvious find people who don't immediately jump to Matched Play or go on a tirade how without points the game is broken (because it's not much better with points, and you can do Narrative with points anyway) or, worst of all, would go out of their way to break a non-points game to "prove" why it sucks (no joke I've talked to people who flat out admitted in an Open Play game they would purposely break it), a good way to start is to slowly introduce asymmetrical or themed battleplans for games, maybe with a small blurb about the reason why the armies are fighting.  Even if basic or cliche, having some sort of background to the game beyond "I'm here with my army, Bob is here with his army, let's play" can help ease people into thinking about that stuff.  And that naturally lends itself to cobbling together a small narrative campaign if each game sort of builds on the last and at the end you've set a story.  It's a far cry from the grand dream of a big map based campaign with logistics and a big story behind it, but it's a start.

I absolutely agree though with a sort of "don't bring filth lists" guideline, although you can't always enforce that and there's a blurred line sometimes (for instance, Deepkin eel spam is cool and thematic.  It's also the "meta" list) but if you can get people who don't do it, then you're good to go.  Most of all, I think, is that you have to lead by example.  Even if it's only two guys who every week are playing asymmetrical battles or using something other than Matched Play, it can help entice others who naturally are curious about what their fellow gamers are doing.  Perhaps if they see that two of their peers are enjoying asymmetrical games and weaving a little story to go with it, they will want to join in.

I'm skeptical on how it would work (too many people would either complain or try to break it) but a localized idea like Coalescence could be interesting.  A day-long event (specifically worded as not being a tournament or competitive event) with linked battles that tells some tale.  For a local event, maybe cap it off with a multi-player battle or something as the victorious forces converge on their goal.  Anything to start and get people thinking about more than the "2000 Pitched Battle, all Matched Play rules, meta netlisting"  approach you so often find in groups/stores/clubs.

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Hey all, what are your thoughts, for map based campaigns, on showing the benefits of claiming territory,  without leading to a snowball effect?

For that matter, what about justifying(right word?) forces fighting whose territories aren't near each other?

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15 hours ago, Realmhead said:

Hey all, what are your thoughts, for map based campaigns, on showing the benefits of claiming territory,  without leading to a snowball effect?

For that matter, what about justifying(right word?) forces fighting whose territories aren't near each other?

Mordheim solved both problems quite cleverly I think: Rewards were always given as better chance on a random table, which could also result in drawbacks and vice versa. And the territory that the fights took place in was a ghost Town in the middle of the different camps. For AoS one could simply scale those solutions up.

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On 11/6/2019 at 9:03 PM, Realmhead said:

Hey all, what are your thoughts, for map based campaigns, on showing the benefits of claiming territory,  without leading to a snowball effect?

For that matter, what about justifying(right word?) forces fighting whose territories aren't near each other?

You could simply have the territory not give advantages - for instance you need to hold 12 territories to win. Or you make them give very small bonuses, like +15 pts in your army per territory, or a re-roll per game if you have more territory than your opponent.

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My approach, would be that the size of territory doesn't affect the game on the level of specific matchups or battles. Rather it has some other, non mechanical, benefit related to the actual arc of the campaign. Thus if you reclaim the Falls of Fire, it doesn't make you better at using fire, or give you more troops, but it means that you have the eternal gratitude of the Fyreslayers who can now return to their ancestral home etc.

There doesn't need to even be a specific win/loose condition, rather the outcomes of the various battles spin out into the shared history of that region of the mortal realms, and gradually you build up more and more of a story.

As for contesting regions a long way from your territory, it could be that there is a certain resource, or strategic position at that location, which you need to get to for some story reason.

Perhaps your reinforcements are going to come through a realmgate there, or you must replenish your store of magitek by capturing the Endless spells that roam the Sorceric wastes. the player who's territory is in that area has a strategic advantage, but other factions will still need to send expeditions there every so often, and thus come into contact with the faction which controls it.

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I've been cooking up a Warcry narrative event for a bit: it'd be a short form (4 week) campaign with a one day event at the very end to cap it off. Everyone starts off with a fresh sheet to start off with, and will play as many games as they can within the 4 weeks, accruing as much bodies, beasties and quest rewards as they can.

The event proper is a terminal point for all these warbands: it's meant to cap the campaign off totally. It does this by making every death in that particular day permanent, meaning whatever models die, are crossed off your sheet for good. No dice saving roll, no free recruitment. Permadeath would apply to the leaders too.

The matchups would be standard GW style matched robin, going for five rounds each player, with some tweaks to the matchmaking under certain conditions.

For each model you lose in this manner, you'll be given a token, which can be assigned to any other model at the start of each game, giving them either +1 wound, +1 attack dice to all their attacks, or +1 movement. If you lose a model with token upgrades, you get none of them back.

When a player is unable to fulfill dagger/shield/ spear requirements, they may then choose to completely ignore the rules for staggered deployment, and may stack their remaining units up in any of the three sections however they want.

The event scenarios will all be pre-determined so they'll always involve explicit murder as victory conditions. I'll also try and provide as many wandering beasts as possible, and will have em feature a LOT in the rigged twists

If a player is knocked out before they're able to fill their five matches, they get to choose to run one of the following custom warbands for the rest of the event:
 

  • A Nameless Varanguard with his Retinue
  • Mollog the Mighty and his Mob
  • Spiteclaw's Swarm
  • A Really Pissed Off Treelord Ancient (+ Dryads)
  • Badstuf's Boyz (Greenskinz + a Gargant)
  • The White Knight (AGK + a Terrorgheist)

(... I actually have a tonne more ideas for custom guys than is realistically usable lol)

These warbands are going to be overpowered by design: at this point they're just catharsis for the players who lose, and a chance to mess up the stronger bands who they'll suddenly be facing.

By narrative event standards this is designed to be a bit more stressful than usual: it sets the stakes pretty high with the weeks of progression leading to a permadeath event. But I feel it leans into the overall atmosphere of Warcry, with its  hideously swingy rolling and oppressive chaos setting. I want there to be a sense of definite dread going into the final event, actual risk of suddenly losing Your Guys to a random stack of crits from a couple of goblins.

***

Watcha guys think? I'm personally a sucker for the concept of permadeath and making high risk, unretractable choices where the odds could violently swing in either direction. Something Warcry can mechanically provide but chooses not to. I do recognize that it's potentially not everyone's cup of tea though.

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@soak314 sounds like a really cool idea, your players are lucky!

I like the concept of permadeath, actually just today I was thinking about a "survival" Warcry campaign where you start with a full 20 guys roster, but can never replenish, and the odds of death are a bit higher... but I digress.

Aren't you worried that some warbands may be more hurt than others? Like Stormcast for instance have a lot of wounds, so they could tank a lot of damage and come out intact whereas a more fragile warband will have several dead for the same damage received.
Maybe have the wounds lost carry over the next round, rounding up to ten : that way a 20-wounds model that ends the game with 3 wounds left will start the next with only 10 wounds, but a 10 wounds model will always start a game with his full health. That might be a lot of book keeping though.

I think the idea of having dead players controlling monsters is really cool, I'm not so sure about them being really OP though. If I got eliminated that way, I think I'd feel frustrated; it kind of takes the focus off of the 2 players still fighting for survival and puts it on the huge monster. Maybe you could have different tiers of monsters : round 1-2 the dead players only get  furies, hounds and raptoryxes ; turns 3-4, you have your razorgors, mercenaries that join in, and on the last round it's full on monster mash? This way you keep ramping up the pressure.

All in all, I think the key will be to make it possible (if unlikely) that a warband could get to round 5; if 80% of players are wiped out in the first couple of rounds that may put a damper on things...

Just a couple of thoughts, I hope you'll keep us posted on this event.

 

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@Moldek The buff tokens should address some issues with hordier factions losing a lot of their bodies early. There's potential for abuse here too, ie the typical squigboss + 19 grots build giving you a spectacularly buffed up squigboss. I'm pretty confident it won't happen though cuz I'm the only gitz player in my local 😆 I'd also have to address LoN players running skelly spam, since they can legally bring models back.

I'm still mulling over the monsters bit, I don't want to give the losing players anything too rudimentary as it'll be boring for em, but I also don't want to punish the actual winners too hard. What will probably end up happening is the remaining non-monster warbands will always end up facing each other unless there's an odd person out, in which case the freshest non-monster player gets to fight a monster warband.

I'll also make it so the first couple of rounds aren't super killy I think. I'm counting on people either being very defensive with their dudes, or just going totally kamikaze.

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The much-talked about return of the Old World may actually be helpful for the narrative side of the game. Regardless of what rules one uses, the Old World does have a world of fluffy history to use in narratives that grew over decades. 

What do you think?

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12 hours ago, Beastmaster said:

The much-talked about return of the Old World may actually be helpful for the narrative side of the game. Regardless of what rules one uses, the Old World does have a world of fluffy history to use in narratives that grew over decades. 

What do you think?

I have run narrative stuff in both WHFB and AoS, and I actually think AoS has been a lot better for it.  The Old World had (fairly) rigid national borders, oceans between established armies (Dwarfs and Lizardmen fighting why exactly?), and a pretty static storyline.  When I ran narrative campaigns in WHFB, we basically had to create our own world to even be able to justify battling each-other.

Conversely, in AoS, the mortal realms leave huge swathes of unexplored space where you can make up whatever you like.  They've also left it open ended such that you could also run a campaign in a setting as official as Hammerhal (for example) and any factions you like could feasibly be there (per Warhammer Quest: Shadows Over Hammerhal).  My narrative group has created our own little microcosm, much as before, but it doesn't have to be relegated to fanfic status, it can be placed within the realms and have legit interaction with the overarching storylines (Realmgate Wars, Season of War, Malign Portents, Soul Wars, and whatever comes next).

I definitely get your point about the the old world having a lot of lore, but the lore of AoS has grown at a pretty rapid pace, and each chunk of it represents a real step in the storyline (one that a lot of players participated in at that).

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You’re right, especially for those who want to build their own land, situation and setting, fitting the armies of the people who take part in the campaign, the realms offer a lot more freedom. A blank slate, basically.  I just don’t know how many will be willing / able to put in the extra effort to make their part of the world rich and evocative. May be easier for many to use some part of a more developed background to build on. AoS may get that, but it’s still a long way and, I must say, I don’t see much development in that direction.  Still, the fan-made maps here in the forum are much more specific and interesting than anything GW came up with for at least parts of the Realms. Makes it quite difficult for less experienced world builders to actually get some traction in their sandbox. Which may be another reason why the narrative gaming is still lagging behind. Few people seem to feel at home in the Realms yet, myself included.

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The NEON is running a #narrative4me discussion on Twitter asking players to describe what narrative play means to each of us and tag a friend. We also have a submission page on the website. We’re looking for ways to promote positive awareness of the possibilities of narrative play across other media platforms as well. 
 

Here’s the link to the blog post: https://wearetheneon.com/2019/11/17/narrative4me/ 

 

 

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