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!*

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