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View Full Version : Retconning your own fluff, ever do it?



mistformsquirrel
16-09-2008, 13:57
So, I'm finally getting back to wargaming after several months of dealing with everything in the universe attacking me (well ok, no nids... yet.) and I got to thinking...

"Self... the army you were working on needs better fluff. Its OK right now; concept is goo, but its too narrow, too 1 dimensional, and if nothing else, painting the exact same set of models over and over again is going to get very dull..."

So needless to say I've gone about a bit of a mental re-write of my fluff to allow for a bit more variety of unit choices.

However, in the back of my head I'm getting this frustrating little niggling feeling like somehow I'm 'cheating' just so I can use shiny new things.

So here's what I'm wondering: Anyone else ever feel the need to retcon their own fluff a bit to allow either a more diverse army, or to fit a new idea you've had? If so, how do you deal with the inner critic?

Faustburg
16-09-2008, 14:20
My Chaos Lord has had a few Ret-cons over the years; He started out as an Emperors Children captain in early 2nd edition, mostly because I liked Slaaneshi colours and psychic powers (Fleshy Curse, 24" range, roll under T on 2d6 or become a spawn...), and the pre-codex list had such brutal Noise Marines (use a psychic power within 24" of them, and you died. No saves, no rolls of any kind. You died.)

Later, with the 2nd ed Codex, he became a Iron Warrior Lord, with all the Marks of Chaos, and while I took a break from Chaos during most of 3rd edition, since I re-built the army with the 3.5 codex and now the current, he is now ("has always been...") a Black Legion Captain.

Further Ret-cons would be that the name was the same as the gang leader I had in early Necromunda Campaigns, so what happened there was that it was ret-conned to have been set during the Great Crusade, and he was inducted into the Luna Wolves. Necromunda being reasonably close to Terra, it would make sense it would have been brought back into the Imperium early on, so Horus's legion would fit.


How to deal with the inner critic? Just admit it is a ret-con, keep your old notes and make a point of having the old texts and how it has been changed, as a side bar. Seeing how you background has evolved is always interesting if you want other people to read it.

Hellebore
16-09-2008, 14:45
I try to stick with what makes a good story. If adding to it or changing it makes it better, then it MUST be done, not 'should' be done.

Anything to improve it should be a necessity.

Hellebore

Helicon_One
16-09-2008, 15:16
Yeah, my human renegade force has gone from a generic 'normal good-guy humans fighting to liberate the galaxy from a brutal oppressive Imperium' to a bitter vengeful people meddling with genetics and creating posthuman clones.

Don't feel too bothered about retconning if you need to - fluff you wrote years ago will often feel out of place or simplistic in hindsight.

PondaNagura
16-09-2008, 15:23
i try to keep most of my fluff consistent, and even though my battles with my opponents dont have storylines anymore [i wish] i try and keep tying my characters to each other in my fluff, between my armies, or that of friends. the storyline continues to progress

even though the organization of chaos list was butchered from balance to complete HtH
with the change of the dex, i think my fluff got better for it.

as for my other armies: i was originally writing up a complete fluffy history to why my marines/IG were the way they were. originally it was told from just an imperial timeline, with a few *footnotes to fill in the blanks on info. now my early colonization history from the DAoT into the AoS is less of a timeline and more of a legend, recanted from one of the few nomadic tribes of the world with oral traditions, and recorded by an anthropological inquisitorial agent. of course now what i've written looks less and less like it belongs in 40k [not that that's a bad thing].

FashaTheDog
16-09-2008, 15:47
My codex Marines have had their fluff changed repeatedly. In Rogue Trader they were mercenaries, in 2nd Edition they became the maverick remnants of the Second Legion having committed a crime so terrible that they were made an example of by having all records of their existance, save their Legion's number erased as a warning to others, leaving the survivors of their disbanding to wander the Imperium fighting for the Emperor in hopes of forgiveness. Third Edition saw that change to a secert order founded by the loyal remnants of the traitor Legions who banded together after the Heresy taking an oath to protect the Imperium with the Emperor alone being the only one capable of issuing commands to the Order, making them rather unpopular with the High Lords of Terra and the Imperium at large. With the Inquisition codicies released, I expanded the Order to include non-Astartes in the Order as well, ranging from highly trained and well equiped infantry and shock troops represented by Inquisitional Storm Troopers and Sisters of Battle, respectively to intel operatives and specialist command sections represented by Inquisitors and their retinues to elite cadres of Astartes dedicated to hunting the taritors who sharetheir geneseed represented by Grey Knights. With the 4th Edition Marine codex, I added to it that due to their rather isolated position from the Imperium at large, they employ far more Apothecaries than any Chapter with Purity Above All ad a house rule that if a unit can take an Apothecary, it must take an Apothecary to represent it (I've clung to that rule even in 250 point games). Because they are lacking facilities in their fleet and hidden bases, the Order's resources are limited with the disadvantage Faithful Unto Death to reflect this. With the up coming Codex I will have to revise some of this but until I have the book, we'll see.

mistformsquirrel
16-09-2008, 17:50
@Hellebore - That's very true; something as a writer I "know"; but can sometimes be a hard thing to do. (Its the old concept of "Kill your darlings" - even if you really love an idea, if its sucking up your story, its gotta go)

I'm strongly considering - in fact more than just 'considering' - shifting my fluff away from a lost legion. I may still involve them in the backstory (it may be the explanation for where the geneseed, or at least part of the geneseed, came from); but I realized that as cool as carving out my own little area of space is... its actually very restrictive.

It also makes it fundamentally impossible for my army to fight alongside the Imperium.

I still like the overall concept and flavor I had... but it needs more depth, and a bit less Mary-Sueism on my part. (Primarch... bad idea. Chapter master who takes up the name and mantle of the Primarch? Good idea.)

Kinda brainstorming aloud here. Now that I've found a game store to play at I have some real impetus in getting this thing done, as opposed to the "someday" mindset I had back when I started this project >.> thanks for the thoughts all! More are welcome too if you feel like sharing - its neat to see how people have evolved their stuff!

NearsightedFarseer
16-09-2008, 19:10
I've changed up my eldar fluff several times.
They started out as your standard eldar background, but now my primary farseer is being subtley influenced by tzeentch, to what ends I don't know yet...

Lexington
17-09-2008, 02:41
Sure, I've changed my armies' fluff several times, due to both internal and external forces. For example, I've been working on an Aurora Chapter army for a couple of months, and based my background on the material found in Bell of Lost Souls' Macharian Crusade book. Now the new Marine Codex is out, and wouldn't you know it, the Auroras have been given a theme and a background that's completely contradictory to what I was working on. I've had to change things pretty radically, but that's the way of life for GW fluff writers - unless you're one of the unfortunate sods who has to attach the solid lead anchor of "canon" to their writings. ;)

Khaine's Messenger
17-09-2008, 03:31
My personal background is pretty fluid. The only things that really matter are the highlights: explaining the named characters and symbology/colors in the particular army I'm fielding. Everything else is completely modular filler...at least for my Marines. Even my Genestealer Cult Tau army is pretty flexible in that regard. And I have retconned the background for that several times, based on my continuous reinterpretations of how a genestealer cult would integrate with "Tau society." About the only force organization decision that influenced was "stealth suits are sneaky, and genestealer cultists are probably sneaky, so my army should have lots of stealthsuits." O'course, I think I may have built the GSC Tau army because stealthsuits are sneaky and I wanted a bunch. :eyebrows: :D

Imperialis_Dominatus
17-09-2008, 05:13
I'm always retconning or changing something. I go through my IA at least two or three times a week lately. As I read even more background I can't help but find new things to expand on, and as a writer, I've been trying to nitpick the hell out of it. So even as I expand my fluff, I take from it or change that which is not 'right.'

My Chapter's gone through several big changes. It's nothing really awful.

imperial_scholar
17-09-2008, 05:20
I say 'KISS'.

Keep it simple....
I've stuck with the same fluff. My wolf lord is a bit of a Space Marine Scholar. Looks to see what other forces do successfully and knows when to use lightening raids, or armoured spearheads.

Generally my wolf lord prefers dawn raids to take advantage of the SW's advantage in night fighting. Also prefers a rapid and mobile force focusing on his trusted veteran units. However, the greed in me lead to him being mounted on a bike and costing as much as a land raider (stupid 3rd edition codex). So I have a version of him on foot too for smaller games. I justify the bike saying he was inspired by the white scars; but in true competitive space wolf fashion, thought he could do it better.

Though, I try to keep away from crazy themes. I'm currently struggling to try and figure out how to piece together a Chaos army with Nurgle & renegade elements without getting to crazy. I'm not doing so well :(.

My orks are blood axes who got camouflage all wrong after an imperial trader tricked them into thinking that humans can't see orange and traded them looted weapons for orange camo gear.

Of course.. orks are suppose to be fun :D.

Koryphaus
17-09-2008, 05:57
Nothing wrong with retconning your own fluff, I mean, the Imperium retcons its history as required..

starlight
17-09-2008, 06:05
You mean *clarifying* historical documents...? :angel:


As Hellebore said, it must be done. :D Why keep shoddy writing as you improve over time? I've constantly tweaked my background and expanded it as I've learned and added things to the Legio. The central core of the original story is still there, but some of the details have changed over time. Nothing wrong with that, as long as the tweaks are *improvements* to the storytelling.:)

Koryphaus
17-09-2008, 06:16
Of course, My Lord Inquisitor, I never meant to infer that Our Glorious Imperium would ever have anything underhand or dishonourable in its long history that would need to be hidden. Glory to the Emperor! All praise be to him on Terra! Oh look, an Ork!

*While Inquisitor Starlight is looking for the Ork, Koryphaus runs away and hides behind a big pipe..

Brother Siccarius
17-09-2008, 07:16
So, I'm finally getting back to wargaming after several months of dealing with everything in the universe attacking me (well ok, no nids... yet.) and I got to thinking...

"Self... the army you were working on needs better fluff. Its OK right now; concept is goo, but its too narrow, too 1 dimensional, and if nothing else, painting the exact same set of models over and over again is going to get very dull..."

So needless to say I've gone about a bit of a mental re-write of my fluff to allow for a bit more variety of unit choices.

However, in the back of my head I'm getting this frustrating little niggling feeling like somehow I'm 'cheating' just so I can use shiny new things.

So here's what I'm wondering: Anyone else ever feel the need to retcon their own fluff a bit to allow either a more diverse army, or to fit a new idea you've had? If so, how do you deal with the inner critic?

Sure, once or twice with each army, but I much prefer advancing the story than trying to rewrite it entirely. If I rewrite an army it's because it's somehow broken established fluff and I can't find a way to make it fit. Alternatively, feelings about the direction of the army might change quite a bit, so I'm open to the option of changing it to fit where I now want it to go.

Hellebore
17-09-2008, 08:07
You mean *clarifying* historical documents...? :angel:


As Hellebore said, it must be done. :D Why keep shoddy writing as you improve over time? I've constantly tweaked my background and expanded it as I've learned and added things to the Legio. The central core of the original story is still there, but some of the details have changed over time. Nothing wrong with that, as long as the tweaks are *improvements* to the storytelling.:)

Which is why I can't really fault Lucas for what he did with Star Wars. Sure not everyone's idea of 'improved' is the same, but if he believed what he did made it a better story, well, it's his story.

It's also why I don't normally have a problem with GW's continual tweaking of the background (they do it as much as they tweak the rules) because most of the time what they change is for the better (although, again, this is subjective).

Hellebore

destroyerlord
17-09-2008, 11:16
Yeah I change my army fluff every now and again, mostly because I don't actually do any writing, I just like to have an idea of 'who' my army is, and sometimes circumstances (or a new codex) can change that. I have great delusions that one day my 40k force will be made up of a renegade imperial guard regiment with combined opps chaos marines, guard tank company and a scout titan legio, along with daemonic support, all led to battle by a corrupted inquisitor lord using the Torqemada model. This will never happen. Because of this, the background of my army can change, but I like to keep it within certain constraints.

Decius
17-09-2008, 17:06
Yes, ret-con your own stuff if you want. I do this myself, mostly because I wrote my fluff while I was young and wanted everything made of awesome (see: psychic dreadnoughts :p). Besides, unless your fluff has been published, who's going to stop you?

mistformsquirrel
17-09-2008, 17:23
True that Decius, true that. >.> Only people who'll know the difference are me and the 6 people who read through my previous fluff posting. (I probably won't post the revised fluff until I actually get to work on the models sometime post-Christmas, since the job hunt has been basically ineffective.)

starlight
18-09-2008, 02:58
Which is why I can't really fault Lucas for what he did with Star Wars.

Aside from Jar-Jar and midiclorians(sp?), I'm in agreement there. :)


Now where was that blasted Ork...?:D

CommissarTanith
18-09-2008, 03:16
I'm kind of doing the same thing with both my armies. I play Gaunt's Ghosts IG, and Soul Drinkers Space marines. With both armies, I am changing some different things to make them better. Like with my guard, who has no tanks, for some odd reason, they seem to have a supporting Armored Regiment with them at all times...odd how that works.

With the Soul Drinkers, I decided that I wanted to have a few rhino's in the army, even though I know that in the books, they didn't have any transports for when they were on the ground, only drop pods. So, I redid the army, and said that they decided to change to a fast, vehicle based assault army...It works.

St.Germaine
18-09-2008, 15:21
I don't have a problem with it at all. My Sunhawks are seriously in need of a rework as I was still wet behind ears 40K-wise when I wrote their fluff years ago. While they'll still have female marines, there's a lot of other stuff that's really out of place and needs to go. If you're in the same boat, go for it.

mistformsquirrel
18-09-2008, 16:59
Yeah, I hear you there St. Germaine - that's *precisely* the situation I'm in actually. I'm not modifying the fact that there are female marines in my chapter, but some stuff... like the fact that they operated exclusively as Terminators, used no vehicles, and were still led by their Primarch... (and were a "lost legion") ... all that needs to change for a lot of reasons so that the fluff feels right to me.