Pimpcron Has a New Type of Campaign.
Man, I can’t tell you how many narrative campaigns I have started in my life. But I can tell you how many I have finished: maybe 2. I have long been bothered by the ease in which we lose interest in narrative campaigns. Here’s why.
Narrative is Where It’s At
A campaign that isn’t narrative is like a car made of bread. It might sound good, but on further inspection you find that maybe it wasn’t a good idea. A strictly non-narrative campaign is mostly boring and there is no real reason for playing it, honestly. I have never been able to find or develop a story-less campaign to be appealing or rewarding. It is essentially just a string of unimpactful games loosely linked by nothing.
You absolutely need a story to drive the combat, with interesting characters and scenarios. A series of games with stakes that impact the next game.
Am I The Problem?
Listen, if over 100 episodes of a weekly podcast, nearly 300 weekly editorial articles, a wargaming supplement book, and a full 102-page skirmish game doesn’t show that I am creative, I don’t know what to tell you. Not to mention, all my children’s names are spelled, like super stupid. This way, I never have to buy them a personalized key chain because I’ll never be able to find a Kelly spelled “Kkellyieee”. Creativity is like an urge that is compulsive at this point. I have no limit to imagination and find it incredibly easy to imagine, dream, and make visions into reality. But keeping my attention in a Warhammer campaign is soooooo hard for me. My friend Just James (for those of you podcast listeners) is also a very imaginative person and is usually the person I try to do campaigns with. Neither of us should have any issue staying hooked with a narrative campaign.
Narratives: Not just for the literate anymore!
But just like my first wife and kids, we always abandon these campaigns. We’ve drawn maps, we’ve made lists, and we’ve played countless “session 1” games to kick start campaigns. But all of them end with disinterest. I think I finally know why.
Warhammer Is The Wrong Scope
After quite a bit of soul searching, I feel like Warhammer isn’t conducive to a narrative because of the scope. What story have you ever watched that was focused on an entire army with no focus on specific characters? I’ll give you a minute to count all of the stories like that. None, that’s the answer. No story revolves around a complete army. It might feature an army, or a massive army might be the backdrop for a story, but a story is NEVER about the army as a whole. As a reader or viewer, we can’t identify with a massive group of people.
Look, a scope of a flashlight.
Unlike Warhammer, I have played, enjoyed, and completed several Brutality Skirmish Wargame campaigns. I think this is because each model is a character I can get invested in and it is much easier to make a story around a small group of people. I feel like Kill Teams would be a natural format for an engrossing narrative campaign for this same reason.
Warhammer is The Wrong Format
By its very nature, Warhammer is like raising a toddler, it is more Versus and less Co-op. Somehow, and I’m not sure why, I feel like this head-to-head system of Warhammer also breaks immersion. How much more fun would it be if you and your buddy could play together? I think that’s partially why D&D is so fun. You all are (arguably) working together to play through the story. So my next angle to attack narrative campaigns is for me and my buddy Just James to start a co-op campaign. We can either team up versus a real player, or more likely, we will use the A.I. rules in my Epic Warplanner.
Here’s My Fix
Our next plan for a campaign aimed at keeping our interest goes as follows. We will each pick just a few hundred points of minimum squad armies of the same army. We are thinking Orks at the moment. We will each pick a character (Elite or HQ) and then a squad or two. We have already came up with an intriguing idea for a story setting. I think a Weirdboy has accidentally transported our little group into the Warp and we will have to fight our way back out. So we will play through the story and make it up as we go along. Each time a model dies from one of our units, we will roll for “Dangerous Terrain” for them and on the roll of a 1 they are really dead. This will lead to the slow attrition of our units over time.
This will make the game interesting and constantly put us on the back foot against the A.I. which will be fun. I feel like I will be able to immerse myself in this story much easier with only a handful of models to commit to, and playing WITH James instead of AGAINST him will be fun as well.
What Have You Done To Make Your Campaigns More Interesting?
Hey! This article is brought to you by my top-tier Patreon supporter Mike Cowley!
Thanks Michael, smooches!
Pimpcron’s Narrative Wargaming Supplement
Free PDF version, full PDF version, or hardback version!