One of the more delightful aspects of a narrative campaign is that your gaming adventures go in directions you never expected.
So, while I am going to make some predictions of what may happen in the next year, the fact that I’m TheGM doesn’t mean I “know” what’s actually going to happen.
Case in point: Long ago, I hosted a convention game where Rogue Trader Adeon Drake and the Tech Priest Abnightus visited the world of Stigmata to explore some ancient xeno ruins. This was a one-off game for entertainment’s sake (and where a precocious 12-year-old master of Warhammer 40K kicked my butt as the Necrons),
I had no intention of going any further with the Necrons, as my focus was my Imperial Guard’s campaign against The Gaffer’s orks on Hegira.
But, a while later, I had this idea for a small skirmish game using a sci-fi tunnel system I’d built, and I pulled out an Inquisition figure, a few Space Marines, and my few Necrons. It was a bit of spontaneous solo gaming that sparked a number of small-scale fights that I centered on a world called Dryilian. At first Dryilian was just a name, but it became the foundation for the Dryilian Quarantine Zone—and subsequent Necron activity—that now plagues the region.
There are countless such examples of the campaign getting away from me. At this moment, I’m focusing on building desert terrain and painting Tallarn and a new mutant army. All of this will alow me to expand my solo gaming on the world of Morkai. At the same time, the Lady Inquisitor Georgene Serillian has become very active recently, and I’m building an ork naval fleet.
I have no idea where any of this will take me. But, as I’ve now shared my astonishment at the lack of control I have over the Corvus Cluster, let me offer some predictions about the future:
Hegira and Dar Sai campaigns will heat up
The Gaffer has been busy this past year, so our slug match on Hegira stalled. Right now, though, we’re playing some “warmup games” between our orks and Imperial Guard—and when we return to campaign gaming, we may finally settle the fate of Hegira.
After four years, Hegira could fall. I’m by no means pessimistic, but The Gaffer is only two victories away from conquering the war-torn moon. (If Susa City falls, the orks only need to take the Palatine Space Port to cut off all Imperial reinforcements, which almost certainly will result in an evacuation of whatever survivors exist.)
I’m not saying it’s going to happen. I intent to fight tooth and nail (and I’m going to use my Tau as orks for some solo practice games to hone my anti-ork fighting skills.) Still, the odds are in favor of the orks.
On Dar Sai, the Tau have long lacked a strong armor force, but I’ve finally painted up some more Hammerhead tanks and a Sky Ray. So, I hope to do more gaming on Dar Sai. Although I’m happy to fight my friends on Dar Sai, they’re not into Tau or Imperial Guard, so Dar Sai is mostly a solo gaming arena. And I intend to take advantage of that.
Narrative games will take center stage
There were a lot of small skirmish and 600-point Warhammer 40K games this past year. That’s going to continue. But I’m going to try to organize those a little more thoughtfully to move forward the narrative of various parts of the Corvus Cluster.
For example, although my Necron force is not properly balanced (not enough armor), I do have troops now for some 600-point games. So I’m going to try to bring some more “depth” to the activities around the Dryilian Quarantine Zone. I’ve also picked up some Necron ships for my Battlefleet Gothic games. So more Necron raids are likely in the months ahead.
I also want to see Rogue Trader Adeon Drake, Count Feracci, Tech Priest Abnightus, bounty hunter Jason Scarn, and other heroes and anti-heroes get into trouble in various skirmish and small-point games. A new Inquisitor from the Ordo Hereticus also will be joining the cast soon, and The Gaffer and I have started a small Shadow War: Armageddon campaign between orks and the Knights of Altair.
War will spread throughout the region
I’m hoping to see some more activity out of the Yaisdra and Burning Frontier sectors, two independent campaigns that have partnered with the Corvus Cluster.
Alas, not everyone is retired as I am, so career. family, and other “minor” considerations can lead to an interruption in hobby activity. In a vast galaxy, it should not be too worrisome when entire sectors go quiet for a few months. I’m confident things will change in the months ahead. I love the “cross-fertilization” of ideas, characters, and story lines that fellow gamers have already brought to my gaming adventures, and I look forward to collaborating with them in the future.
That said, there’s a lot that can happen in the local neighborhood. The war on the plague-ravaged world of Dozaria is likely to expand, and with half a dozen new worlds reporting military action, they will pose fertile ground for exploration. They may not become full-fledged campaigns, but the Inquisition or Knights of Altair may join a battle or two . . . here or there.
Minor clashes with the Tau also will increase. After all, it’s 739.M41, and as historians may recall, the Damocles Gulf Crusade begins in 742.M41, so I’ve three years for my Tau to infiltrate Imperial space (and build up my Tau forces to the size of my Imperial ones).
The mutants on Morkai will cause trouble
Ever since I wrote a number of articles on the history of Morkai, I’ve been intrigued by this world. It’s already been the locale of a number of small fights.
This year, Morkai will become a major player. I’m building up Tallarn and mutant armies, and my terrain project for the year is to build a comprehensive collection of desert terrain. As one hive city is run by a noble family of Imperial Knights, you can guess what’s on my shopping list next.
This campaign will really advance my aforementioned goal of more narrative play. I want events on Morkai to play out like the plot of the novel (although I’ll let the battle results determine the direction of the plot). I won’t just fight one-off battles, then decide a narrative around them. I’m going to think like a book author: What is the most exciting and logical thing that would happen next with the rising mutant menace? Then, I’ll decide whether I want to represent this with a skirmish game or full-scale battle.
The results of that battle will help guide what follows next in the story. In a way, this will be like those “Choose Your Own Adventure books, where the reader is given a series of choices—and then they turn to the appropriate page to see where the plot goes.
The result, I believe, will be a campaign that’s very “narrative”—but one where I really will have no idea of what’s to come.
More terrain articles are coming
I’m not very good at remembering to take photos as I build my terrain, but as I’m in the midst of major terrain building, I intent to try harder to take photos and write more how-to articles.
Actually, I know that’s what most people enjoy when reading blogs. But, the reality is that the Corvus Cluster is designed to develop a rich backdrop for our gaming, so a majority of our articles will be chronicles of what happens—or fluff and fiction to further the creation of our little corner of the galaxy.
Still, I really do want to contribute some more practical information to hobbyists, so I’m going to do my best. I’ve a lot of projects on the table (probably too many at once), and terrain articles will be on the way. (I can’t leave it all to TheGaffer.)
Hope you enjoy what comes
I haven’t counted how many tabletop battles were fought last year, but I’m hoping to see a boost this year—as well as more fiction, fluff, and hobby articles. In two months, the weather will improve, and I can open up my backyard workshop and really pound out terrain—and I’ve got an encyclopedia of fluff I’d like to write up.
I hope you come along for the ride. We’re having a blast, and I hope, as you read what comes, you’ll gain a small sense of how much fun the Corvus Cluster has become for all of us living in it.—TheGM
To see more of the artwork of Jason Heuser, click here.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.