It’s over. The year 735.M41 has come and gone in the Corvus Cluster.
Although 736.M41 is now seven weeks old, I’d like to reflect a moment on the first year of our narrative campaign. For the most part, I think our launch was a smashing success. Seventeen large-scale battles and three small, skirmish/adventure-style games were fought, and, with this blog, we’ve published 104 articles documenting the people, worlds, and history of the Corvus Cluster.
The most successful aspect of this campaign has been the “narrative.” We launched our campaign with the barest sketch of this region of the Warhammer 40K universe (a half dozen blogs on the planets of the Sculptor System and my personal Space Marine chapter, the Knights of Altair). But, over the past year, we have built up a richly developed campaign setting. Although a sizable portion of this blog has been devoted to the battles for Hegira and Dar Sai, two Imperial-held but xeno-threatened worlds in the Sculptor System, we’ve also written about:
- New heroes, such as Commissar-Major Rael Dracos and Commodore Gadea Hennard, who have influenced events.
- New villains, such as Count Johann Feracci and Voloh Gudag, who are bringing mischief to Imperial space.
- New worlds, such as Morkai and Stigmata, have been discovered—and, at least for Morkai, a rich history developed.
- Skirmish games, such as a clash between Rogue Traders or the shadowy work of the Inquisition, were played out.
- Works of fiction, such as “Two Soldiers Reflect on Defeat” and “More Dakka on Order!,” were written.
- A number of blogs have appeared on painting, modeling, and terrain building.
- Work has slowly progressed on a codex of my Knights of Altair.
It’s not just that these blogs added depth to the campaign background, there was an exciting cross-fertilization of ideas that took place—and which are taking us in directions we never originally conceived.
Consider our favorite Rogue Trader, Captain Adeon Drake. Originally created as a “hero” for some skirmish games, Drake was painted up as a figure—and a rough biography written for him. But as he needed a narrative foil, that led to the creation of Count Johan Feracci, whose biography led to the creation of Lady Adriana, a courtesan who actually is a deamon.
This threesome finally met in “Ambush on Morkai,” a backwater desert world. But, having a large collection of Middle Eastern buildings, I started thinking about other gaming opportunities on the planet. That, in turn, sparked my imagination, and what followed were three blogs on the planet’s history—how it is a dying world with mutants, giant sand worms, and a city ruled by a Noble House of Knights (the combat walkers, not my Space Marine Chapter).
So now I have an exciting foundation for future adventures. Already, I’m collecting more desert terrain, Tallarn figures, and eyeing the purchase of some Imperial Knights and some boxes of Militarum Tempestus troops to serve as the Knights’ household guard.
A few months ago, I had no idea I would go in this direction.
What’s also exciting is that this creative effort has really added depth to our tabletop battles. My gaming group, the Wednesday Night Gamers of Alexandria, is largely a historical gaming club, so we only occasionally play 40K at club meetings. But TheGaffer and I have gone in 100 percent, and each battle isn’t just a game—it’s another chapter of our ongoing saga.
Meanwhile, another player, who is personalized as Captain Stevrous Stark, has taken a personal interest in those battles fought under the command of his alter ego. These battles are a part of his personal history now, and he’s made a special effort to show up at these battles. His personal stake has given these battles a meaning that goes beyond a normal one-off game.
For TheGaffer and I, the campaign on Hegira is a grudge match. It is a personal duel, and an arms race—we are constantly painting up new miniatures to throw on the table. E-mails flow back and forth, filled with ideas for scenarios, tactics, and a bit of “smack talk.” Adding to the excitement of our grudge match is that his orks are beginning to push into Imperial territory, and the fate of Hegira may be up in the air.
I am, by nature, overly ambitious, so naturally not everything has gone as I wished. For example, I had hoped to expand interest in the Corvus Cluster beyond our club. I’ve been too busy to spend time at my local Games Workshop store and recruit people into some of our games. I also had hoped to run games at my favorite conventions, but as these events largely feature historical gaming, there’s not been a lot of interest.
That’s okay, though. I’ve a new year to get involved at my local hobby store, and I’ve a new “cunning plan.” I’m designing a mini campaign that can be played online. I’m going to invite folks to defend the Cluster from a Chaos incursion. Still working on the details, but I may offer a prize to the group that comes up with the best story-based scenario and battle report.
In any case, the main goal is to have fun. I want to see my club continue to raise havoc across the Corvus Cluster, add new stories, new characters, and new adventures.
For example, I’m very keen on returning to Morkai once I have more desert terrain and warriors painted up. I’m also building lots of city ruins in hopes of a City of Death scenario. And I need to finish painting my Inquisitor and her entourage, so I can chase after my Chaos warlock, Voloh Gudag.
And then there are the Knights of Altair. Although one of the first blogs dealt with this noble chapter of Space Marines, they’ve only made a single brief appearance in the Corvus Cluster. I’ve got almost 500 points of Marines half-painted, so I need to get them completed so I can put them into a small narrative-type skirmish game. It’s only right.
I also need to write up more how-to articles—on painting, modeling, and terrain building. I realize that, while I’ve done okay documenting the events of the Corvus Cluster, any visitors really are more interested in hobby tips and ideas for their own gaming experiences. I think that’s one of the most exciting aspects of hobby blogs online, and I want to contribute what I can.
I’ve got a lot on my plate. So I should sign off. Allow me to raise a glass of champagne to a successful 735.M41—and express my excitement at what may be in store for 736.M41. May the new year hold as much drama and promise as our first year. I don’t think we need worry: After all, there is nothing more dramatic and exciting than war, and in the 41st Millennium, “there is only war.”