Writing the story to your game

Clash of the Titans from my first story driven game

If you're a fan of fiction and writing background for your own army, then this series of posts will be for you.

Way back when, I mentioned playing a type of narrative game based on writing the story that leads up to the battle you and your opponent play.
It works like this...
One person doesn't write the whole story, you write it together. Each person doesn't write their own side independently of the other either, you both take turns writing a portion of the bigger story.
As the reader, it would be like watching two plots unfold before your eyes as they slowly merge into one at the end (the actual game).

Doing this, if you're the kind of player who gets into background stories, allows you to really build up the history for your army and set the stage for the game at the end.

You have the ability to write your side of the events leading up to the battle and set up your army however you want. This is harder than it sounds though. In the end, it takes a certain approach to the game to be willing to let go of most all the rules and go with the story instead of the traditional deployment zones, set ups and victory conditions. The game is really the story being played out in the end and you should pick up the game right where you agreed to stop writing.
You may be in a bad spot or you may have a huge advantage over the other guy, but it's the story that matters more than it is playing a "fair" game.

It's very liberating to know that you can add whatever rules or conditions you want to your game to bring it in line with what you've written. The catch is keeping it somewhat balanced because your opponent is going to do the same. If you set yourself up to be able to obliterate your opponent with some kind of bombardment on turn one, don't be suprised if he's got a contingency plan for just that. This would be more of a Gentleman's game if you will, both players trying to outfox the other rather than using the rules to determine who is the better player.

The best way I know how to describe it is like this... when you play a game like this (or better yet watch), it doesn't look like the two players are even playing a game, but watching an epic battle unfold on the table in front of them. You don't see the dice being rolled, there are no charts to confer with, there are no must do's or can't do's, you forget they are playing by rules... the story (game) just unfolds.

So, my friend has challenged me to play again.
He's got an army he's putting together and we are going to be writing up the story in the coming weeks. We don't have a deadline or a set amount we're going to write, we're just going to go until we reach a natural point to play the game. If all goes according to plan, I'll set up a post for the story and start adding to it weekly starting this week. I'll make sure to let you guys know when a new "Chapter" has been added by posting a link up above the regular posts.

It will be timeless battle between Wolves and Angels.

Make sure to check out these posts as they might help:
My first story driven game, fiction here and Bat Rep here
Going on Campaign, a blog for narrative gaming
FTW Collaborative Post on Fan-Based Material

Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!


  1. Oooh, I'm looking forward to this. I remember how much fun it was to watch (read) the "Hunt for Wexval" unfold. Are you and Pat going to do that here or elsewhere?

    I've participated in a few story driven campaigns myself. One of my favorite things was writing the story of a Callidus Assassin infiltrating a Tau force. It was much more involved than "take polymorphine, ifiltrate camp, kill stuff". My counterpart and I ended up doing a whole spy-vs-spy thing that was a lot of fun.

  2. Hudson: I'll be posting it here and updating it weekly with whatever Pat and I write for the week. He's a much quicker writer than I am so I'm usually the one holding progress up.

  3. I thought you played SW too though! :D

    jk jk I have to jest after all that 'I'm playing real Deathwing' crap. I'm glad you saw the bright side of counts-as

  4. The best game I ever played of 40k was in 2nd edition, and had a narrative that drove it and made it both amusing and interesting - if not an outright silly premise.

  5. Very good article. Darkwing of Arcadia Prime and I typically build our mini-campaigns around some kind of narrative premise, although we don't write fiction necessarily to "give it legs". Having a premise and a good deal of fluff behind every battle and campaign, in my mind, makes the battles more interesting, but doesn't necessarily make it more important to win or lose any battle, or even the whole campaign, because the story is what matters, no matter what finally unfolds.

  6. Thanks for the comments guys. To be honest, I didn't think I was going to get much of a response from this post. I don't know of many people who are into "stories" and such that lead up to gaming.

    zealot: I played once using the Space Wolves rules and I felt dirty afterwards. It just didn't seem right.

  7. Ron, my group is almost always using story driven play. It makes the games much more fun and interesting.

    I wouldn't have it any other way.


  8. Definitely something I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for updates on. My group tends to focus more on story then actual playing. It's all good in the end though as long as you're having fun.


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