Friday, June 22, 2012

Battle Reportification Part 4 - Location of Conflict

I know all of you are just dying with excitement to hear what I have to say about the Location of Conflict because its not like you have any other things to be psyched about, no upcoming releases of anything major in our worlds, just the same old.  I though that to fill the drudgery of your lives until finally someone decides to come out with new toys and things of that ilk that I would give your lives meaning.  With that sarcasm out of the way lets move on to the real reason I have this blog.

So now you have determined the purpose for the conflict that you are basing your Battle Report around.  This is a great point to decide where you want this fight to take place.  Sure you have a smidgeon of a clue from the reason for the fighting, but this is where you commit to the gritty details of the whole thing!  There is also a scale that you can grant this location, and how large or small you make it is up to you.

First we have the biggest scale (which only really applies to sci-fi games) which is what sector of space is this taking place.  This could be important if you plan on taking the story or campaign that you are discussing in your Battle Report into the future and want your different Reports to be connected.  Knowing the sector narrows down the sorts of battles and factions that are involved because you can then figure out who is there and why.  If you don't decide the sector then everything is much more open-ended and you have more flexibility, but you also might lose yourself in all the possibilities and spend too much effort creating reasons or facts that you could have spent on making a good story into a great one.  Knowing the sector also gives you common ground with your readers, if they know where you are then they instantly start adding their own knowledge of the background to your narration and you didn’t even have to do the heavy lifting, Black Library or the game company for your system already did that for you!

Second to the sector of space comes the system where it takes place.  Now you can make a decision:  how much effort do you want to put into this Battle Report?  Do you want to make a detailed story out of a series of battles or want to expand a story off of this one battle?  If that is the case it may be best to design the entire system using the methodology given to you by the Designing a Planet Series I wrote earlier (in case you missed that… hee hee its funny cause I don’t get new readers lol.  I still love you guys though).  If this is more of a one night stand then maybe you want to skip this detail altogether.  As always though, designing the system - no matter how little you end up doing - can give you inspiration and help you out later on with other stuff.

The next level is the planet.  I won't go into detail on this because that is what that entire bloody series I already alluded to was about.

Now you have what sort of continent or nation or geographical area that you want to set this battle in.  This is important because it can give you some nice flavor to allude to throughout the Report that would otherwise be missing.  Every battle report doesn't have to be in the middle of a ruins where no civilization exists and local governments have no say in the military's actions and surround geography doesn't determine why this engagement happened.  This could be the result of favors being called in by the government, maybe a political crap-fest erupted and now the generals have been forced to hand over control of the Imperial army (or at least a part of it) to the local politicians (who are idiots as it goes without saying despite my saying it).  Geography could have been used to pin down an enemy force into a fight they didn't want to engage in - a perfect example of this is in the Tau codex with how Farsight used the canyons to split up and pick apart the Orks.  If you ended up going into detail on the planet using the steps I gave you earlier that means that now you have a lot of options for who is involved in the war, its interests, who wants what, and all sorts of non-fighting plot pieces can come to light.  That is one of the things that could make your Battle Report extraordinary compared to other people's, that added detail and themes that go beyond just the basics of fighting and the reason for the fighting.

Finally the smallest scale involves the actual battlefield:  where in that nation/continent/etc. do you want this battle to take place?  Is it near the volcanic mountains of the eastern part of the continent, or are you fighting to defend the Imperial city from the heretics, holding out as long as you can to gain some time for the innocent civilians to safety (not like the Imperium ever does anything nice like that but you get the idea).  What could have happened on that battlefield in the past?  What was it like before war transformed it?  Were there farmers in the area, did religious pilgrims frequent paths through the woods that have since been torn up by the treads of tanks and explosions of artillery?  All of this stacks together until finally you get something incredibly detailed that you can be proud of.

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