Sunday, 8 April 2012

Fluffy Distractions

The world of Mawdryn
This is a little less concise than my original post, which I managed to lose somewhere in the aether...

I often find myself doing work in a not-doing-work kind of way (a la Arnold Rimmer in Infinty Welcomes Careful Drivers). This often extends to modelling and painting. Modelling and converting I generally enjoy, when I'm not being clumsy and taking chunks out my fingers instead of a Space Marine Scout's shoulder pad. Painting I really enjoy when I'm doing it, but it often takes a lot of motivation to get into the swing of things - I am gradually getting more disciplined when it comes to painting but there's still progress to be made.When it comes to 40k however there is one thing that I always drift to, and that is fluff.

Fluff of course meaning background material and not what can be found behind my sock drawer. I tend not to read a lot of the Black Library stuff becasue generally it's not for me, it tends to be little... flat. That is entirely a personal preference as many seem to sell quite well. I rather liked the sound of the Flashman-inspired Ciaphais Cain series but haven't ventured to reading them yet because, well because there's already Flashman. Most of my fluff consumption these days takes place online on various forums, and of course I make great use of Lexicanum and the 40k Wiki. Fluff-wise, the actual GW output seems to a little flat also, but the masters of fluff are without a doubt Forge World with their superb Imperial Armour series.

But it is not so much the reading of fluff that I am distracted by, but the creation of it. What kept me involved with the sci-fi side of the hobby over the several years in which I played no games whatsoever was the fluff. The 40k Universe is rather well balanced with enough room for your own stuff, one reason I still keep coming back to it. There is room for my triage artwork, or my Lovecraftian Kill-Team scenarios and fluff, such as seemingly abandoned Astronomican Relay and the lurking horror that is seemingly the Darkness itself; there's room for humour too (there should always be a pinch of humour in everything I find). I'm currently working on a terrain piece inspired by a 20s pulp story cover,  in the past I have even written Adeptus Mechanicus fluff inspired by the work of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop! That flexibility is a great thing. There's also room for me to write endless fluff on my various Marine Chapters, and some of these are fluff only (more on these later).

It is also the reason I've not really got into other fantasy and sci-fi settings, they just don't click with me. The only one that I have found tempting is Infinity,but if someone was to offer a game of Warmachine and provided the minis I would happily give it a whirl.

For me the fluff is super-important, it's what drives the games, what gives me the motivation to start painting. To have a force with character that is affected by the games we play (and can affect the shared setting in which our group of gamers play) is what makes it. It's that combination with the slightly-competitive gaming that makes the hobby worth coming back to, I have not interest in purely competitive tournaments, for me they're soulless, number crunching exercises - I'm sure most that take part disagree, but that's the other potentially great thing, there can be room for all.

I'm curious to know, what is it above all else that really keeps you in the hobby, with Games Workshop stuff in particular? 

My latest fluffy work

The Planetoid of Mawdryn

As an example of some of the stuff I've been working on today that prompted the post. I have been working on a "Codex Mawdryn" for my Arthurian/Celtic Space Marine Chapter and in describing their tactical doctrine I found myself making references to geographic areas. So, I thought, I need a map. A quick bit of doodling took this progression (shown below, from my initial sketch to my near-finished product) - using Adobe Flash and Magix Photo Designer - only the most advanced software ;)



Obligatory Lens Flare! But only over manually painted lighting effects

There's still more work to be done, but good enough to go in my fluff documents.

And last but not least, check out Colonel Scipio's superb article on wargaming superstitions - with particular reference to those little cuboid masters of fate.

4 comments:

  1. Hah! There comes a time in every working day where you sit there and decide that you simply aren't going to be doing any more work that day!

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    1. Haha, this is very true indeed, I always find myself more productive when whatever I'm working on is not really supposed to be what I'm working on at that time...

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  2. A great post as ever. Fluff is (as you know) an enormous driver for me. 40K specifically, as GW have put a fairly flimsy premise out there and it's up to us to put flesh on it. I often go into enormous amounts of tedious detail, maling a futile attempt to emulate real life, but I also spend a lot of time thinking more broadly about motivations, about why people on some far-flung planet would be loyal to an emperor for thousands of years after initialy being 'visited' by some random Imperial Guard regiment on a two-day stopover, often never having any subsequent contact with any part of the Imperium. How does the image of the Imperium develop, in isolation? I often envisage the Imperial 'establishment' being a lot like the last days of the Third Reich, with impending Tyranids etc...

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  3. I think planets at the edges are a great place to be a bit more creative, Mawdryn itself is pretty close to the edge (mirroring the postion of Britain to Rome - a good parallel generally for colonial outposts). I suspect the image of the Imperium doesn't develop in isolation. Unless it has resources that require a "Federal" presence, possibly Ad Mech (which would impact the culture in another divergent direction). There is a greatly varied mosaic of cultures out there and I think generally as long as they continue to pay appropriate tithes (the only reason for any continued contact) a little thing like a coup or revolution is of no interest whatsoever. Unless they're suspected of being a bit heretical. or are mutants.

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