We interviewed one of the NEOs involved with designing the rules pack and writing battleplans for Coalescence to talk about narrative gaming and his AoS podcast called FjordHammer, a show which focuses on book reviews and interviews with community members.
NEON: Can you introduce yourself?
NEON: How did you become a NEO?
Alexander: I’ve always been the sort to fall in love with Warhammer’s setting. My armies always have built-in narratives. My main WHFB army was an Ogre Kingdoms army that I imagined lived in Lustria. As I had loads of Lizardmen bits left over from a previous army, it came quite naturally. In my first period in the hobby, I was too young to organize anything, and in some cases even participate. As many do, I fell out of the hobby for a while. As I got older, I wanted a hobby that wasn’t video games, so I returned to my old passion. This was at the very beginning of the End Times for WHFB, a period of massive upheaval in the setting. I loved it! The stories I knew and loved were changing, moving forward. But as I played Ogres and Lizardmen, I didn’t get to participate in any of it. The structure of narrative gaming back then was simply too restricted. When AoS was released, I saw that it unshackled my narrative from the shackles of rank-and-flank gameplay. Units were more dynamic, objectives could be more interesting and the structure of the game more fluent. Even though I liked the new setting, I decided that I still wanted to play out the End Times, a farewell to the old love. So I created Battletome: The End Times. It took me 8 months, but it’s a total conversion of the 5 campaign books, featuring 49 battleplans! So my desire to become a NEO came from the desire to play all these awesome stories that were being made, but not having the chance to do it. If you want it done, you got to do it yourself! Around the same time, I got a job at a FLGS which let me work with running events. So I began organizing the local community, which was rather dead at the time. It all started with an intro day, out of which came many new regulars to the club. I then began running 6/8 player events, nice and easy for newbies and veterans alike. My first narrative event was actually a 6-month 40k campaign! It was a lot of work, and ended up petering out at the end… But the players enjoyed it a lot. I didn’t really consider myself a NEO until I ran Coalescence though. Until then I’d been to events like RAW, built my SCGT army around a narrative theme etc, but I hadn’t really run an narrative event. Even as part of the group behind Coalescence I didn’t consider myself a NEO until the day! But now the fires are lit, and I feel that Skirmish and Path to Glory will make it even easier to run fun, narrative events.
Alexander: I started Fjordhammer at the start of the year. It was something I had toyed with a bit in the time following SCGT and the End Times release. What pushed me over was being a guest on the Bravery One podcast. I figured if those guys could run a podcast, then it’s proof that literally anyone could! I had tried blogging and the sort a few times earlier, but I just don’t have the interest to write long texts. You’d think as a student of philosophy I’d enjoy writing more, but alas. Podcasting was a great way of getting my ideas, opinions and commentary out there without having to write it down. It’s more free form, as I can pick the topic from episode to episode. I’m in love with AoS as a game, story and community, so that’s what I wanted to focus on. There’s a few really good gaming podcasts, and tons of good all-round ones, so mine had to be different. I decided to focus on the hobby, story and community. This meant a lot of interviews, book reviews and chats about the other aspects of the hobby that you might not get on some podcasts. The goal is to just continue to provide good content and improve on what I do. I genuinely believe in my format, but there’s some places that are ripe for improvement. Within the next year, I’d love to be in a position to be able to launch a patreon. Podcasting takes time and some money, and a little support would go a long way towards making me able to do more with the podcast. I also hope to make some dice and shirts with my logo on them, in case there are any fans out there who’d like a viking ship on their dice!
I have guests on every episode. It’s something I wanted from the start. Not only does it give people a break from my voice, but it also provides some super interesting content. It’s actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. I usually have an idea about what I’d like to chat about. Maybe there’s some notable event in the community going on, or some general topic I’d like to cover. I then approach the person and ask them if they’d like to be on. Simple as that really. Finding the right person, and the right topic, is the trick. I usually end up asking super enthusiastic people, so sometimes it’s hard to keep the interviews to managable lengths! I’ve even been approached for a topic someone would like to chat about, so I love that people want to be a part of Fjordhammer. Recording-wise, it’s simple. We chat over Skype while I use a program called MP3 Skype Recorder. Sounds super sketchy, but has worked flawlessly for me so far. I heard a lot of horror stories about Skype recording, but I’ve not really had an issue. The one thing I would like to do is feature more local content. As the only Norwegian AOS podcast, there’s surprisingly little content from Norway. This is mostly down to the Norwegian scene being tiny, even compared to medium sized cities in the US. When you consider Norway has a population of barely 5 million, spread over a country larger than Germany, it’s no surprise. The scene also took a hit after the launch of AoS, so there’s just not a lot happening to cover. But I may be able to change that in the near future…