Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Army Lore 109 - Non-combatants
This post follows up the Major Conflicts post and concludes the Army Lore series, discussing incorporating into your roster individuals that are not represented on the battlefield.Note: Spyrle is doing a campaign for the internet that is following up the Medusa V one done by GW, continuing the story line with new objectives. Go check it out (notice there is a link in this text), it looks well done so far and could really use the help of all of you providing battle reports and the like. This is your opportunity to decide the fate of the planet and your factions, don't let it go to waste! I know I have a Battle Report that should (hopefully) be submitted by now and up on the website. Not quite to the quality of the Operation Iron Defense Battle Report, but it is still suitably narrative. I didn't want to dominate any other Battle Reports that others do, but please put in some effort so that the story can really develop in a way that Spyrle can reap the benefits of his hard work and the rest of the community will want to participate as well. Now back to the article (btw I should be able to post more regularly now because when this is posted I hopefully have arrived at my hotel the day before move in and the start of orientation for college, and my internet problem and time issues from travelling will be over).
Note II: So I'm going to be going back to the daily posting and just pretend the rest of the posts I missed didn't exist. I don't think I'll be able to make them up as I'm using up a lot of my time here at college (not all for academic purposes, but still using it up) but I can still find time to write a daily blog. So here is today's post, moving on with standard procedure from here on out. BTW I still have to submit that report to Spyrle lol.
So I had some other posts related to Army Lore that I was going to write up but I'm starting to get tired of this particular topic and want to get on to a story I've been thinking of, so this is the last one and maybe I'll return to those other ideas a little later. In any case I think that all of you have probably wondered what can really give your army roster some identity found no where else. You've wondered where to go but the farthest you've been able to get is by diversifying your army list a little, perhaps including a unit not fully optimized or giving a special story behind one unit in particular but that’s as far as you've gone because you can't help but wonder what else there is to do. Now you've been reading this series and you've realized just what you can do. You've fanatically obeyed every word that I have written, mostly expanding upon what you already did. But you yearn for more, surely there is something beyond just adding a little bit of back story to each unit and the army as a whole? Well here is where I give you something new to chew on (though I have already mentioned this before, but of course you haven't done anything with it because you will only ever do anything that I explicitly provide advice on, nothing else until then).
Non-combatants are prominent in all real armies, from ancient times when prostitutes, wives, cooks, slaves, and others followed the military caravan to now when engineers and cooks are the chief ones (since laws now prevent most civilians from following soldiers into a warzone. Stupid laws protecting people from dying and stuff). In 40k we have all sorts of new ones as well. Ministorum priests, Tech priests, astropaths, officers, etc. Yes they do have an entry that you can take in your list, but oftentimes you don't want to take them to the battlefield. And why should they even be there? Only certain ministorum priests should be preaching on the front lines, ones that are trained in prayer rites specific to peaceful worship can be added to the retinue (such as a certain individual in Gaunt's Ghosts). Tech priests don't want to put themselves in danger, that is what the rest of the army is there for. The only reason they go on the battlefield is to mitigate what damage they can from the holy machine spirits, but most won't be needed there. Astropaths and officers really have no place on the battlefield but can be taken because GW wants to sell models. Some of those priests are also found in Warmachine, since not every priest of Menoth wants to take an army and kill everybody. Malifaux is not really army based anyways, but basically everyone that is not offered as a model has potential, so in that case you could just add some individual who accompanies your crew and does something like worship or research or advice but makes sure to avoid the fighting whenever it comes up.
So how do you create a non-combatant? First you look for potential gaps in their lives that the soldiers in your army might have if it was just them. First they need food, the huge quantity of soldiers and bodies needed to fight constantly would not want to waste fighting men on serving slop. That is where untrained civilians come in. I already covered religious needs. Prostitutes, or just good old fashioned girl friends may exist among the crew of a ship that an imperial fighting army would be aboard since women don’t exist in 40k armies unless they are surrounded by other nuns with guns. Or are Shadowsun, the lone female of the T'au race. Or Eldar, they don't really have men, just less female people (just kidding). But amongst the Imperium there are none until you consult Black Library. People can be added to the civilians following the army and get aboard the ships and follow them wherever they go, could be on the ship already, could be a special army that includes women, etc. Other gaps include the file keeping and things that have to be done, a great inspiration for roles like this or others would be in the two inquisitor series that exist, Eisenhorn and Ravenor, where they have adepts that do much of the book keeping and research and things like that, making sure to stay away from the bad guys.
Once the need has been identified you just go through the normal process of giving them a history. Give them personality, motivations, a physical description to help you visualize them. Make them as human as possible. Define their relations with others in your army. They often won't have experience with certain parts of the force, but mark a few key individuals who are important, whether as positive or negative influences on that non-combatant's life.
And that is basically it. Make them detailed as you would write up a character for a Role playing game or what you've done for the other squads, just give them the attention they deserve and you'll find that your army will have a diverse and detailed history and culture, from the ground pounders to their campaign history to the folks that accompany them in their travels between battles.