Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Army Lore 104 - Vehicles

You know all of those awesome vehicles that you field in your army that do all sorts of things but you don't have a clue as to how to give them life when writing the background for your army?  Find out how in this post.
So vehicles of all sorts exist in every miniatures game under the sun it seems, ranging from paper transports to armored fortresses to gun platforms to fliers to anything in between.  Each one of these has a place in the army obviously (else why would they be there?) so the question now is how did they get there (that being the common question for all of these categories obviously)?  You can try to answer this in a variety of ways.  You could begin from the moment of origin, when it was first built on some planet or space station or other.  Maybe you want to detail its first combat experience, how it performed, what it faced, what the result was.  Or maybe you would rather construct the crews that have run the machine over time, placing the emphasis on those people who were controlling it and less on the actual construct itself.  Now lets go into each of these strategies.

The positive parts of starting from when it was built is that you have a serious amount of detail that you can show off to others because of everything that is entailed with the longer history.  By detailing it from the beginning you are able to associate the very machine itself with the culture and materials of its point of origin, giving yourself a break if you utilize a planet that is already fleshed out such that you don't have to create anything more (whether the planet is present in standard canon or from something like Black Library or if you have already created a planet that you would like to use for this purpose).  The disadvantage to this strategy is the amount of work that is associated and necessary because of the length of time.  If you end up not providing much of a timeline between now and then there are generally holes in your story that will be noticeable and will detract from the experience and feel that you are trying to give your army.

The first combat encounter is another great possibility because it allows you to jump right into the fun stuff.  You are able to fabricate fantastic and amazing moments that really showcase what the vehicles potential is and can give to other people that read your canon a portion of the excitement that you do when you think about wielding that mighty battle cannon that can totally decimate even space marines.  The potential problem with this is that it might seem strange if you don't then detail other actions, requiring more work for the continuity of the mode of presentation that you have chosen (being in this case one of battle scenarios).  This will often not be the case, but some people may feel the need to come up with more and after a while it could seem repetitive after trying to add detail to dozens of different vehicles for different armies (and recycling old ones gets old after a while as well).

The final method (though not the only other option) is concentrating on the crews of the vehicle itself.  This can provide a very interesting glimpse into the attitudes of people that are involved with the vehicles.  As whenever else you are creating a character or group of them you can create some truly epic and inspiring people that you can be proud of as the types of people and their stories are limitless.  The problem here (as with the other ones) is the amount of work.  Creating characters is always a great deal of effort (unless you aren't going to give them the same amount of time that you have with others like the commander or elites in your army.  The other thing to remember when doing crew members is that depending on the lifetime of the vehicle or the actions that it has seen you may have to come up with several crews.  Of course if it has a long life you don't have to create all of them, but just enough to have an idea that there is a passage of time for the vehicle's life and that a variety of individuals have been involved with it.

I hope that this post has been informative, I've always felt like the vehicles themselves are often overlooked when creating the story for the armies and I would love to see other people put the time into their tanks that they put into the rest of their army.

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