Duncan Hall ran Coalescence 2017 with his local group in Virginia, and he created some new content to tie in the global narrative with his local campaign. He also said it was the first time his group had played using matched play points from the first General’s Handbook. You can read a report from the Coalescence event he ran in the third part of our retrospective series: https://wearetheneon.com/2017/07/02/a-coalescence-retrospective-part-iii/
How did you become a NEO?
My story began in the glorious days of WHFB when the local store owner and I worked together to write really involved campaign rules with experience tables, unlockable achievements, campaign meetings, colossal dragons, underground lairs, and all that wacky action. We played WHFB like that for several years with usually a dozen or so participants in each campaign. When Age of Sigmar dropped, our thriving Warhammer Fantasy community more or less withered on the vine, which wasn’t as much AoS’s fault as it was people having kids and moving and so forth, but it pretty much killed the whole affair. About 6 months later when I got back into AoS, I was used to being constantly occupied by campaigns and such, so I decided to launch a monthly “Game Day” narrative event that would take place in a Sigmarized version of our old campaign setting (the Vale of Efengie (for Fun’n’Games)).
If you want to become an NEO, just get out there and do it. Know what you want, and make it happen.
Can you tell us about your local group?
We have a great game store that we play at pretty much exclusively. That’s what really brings the community together here. The local players are mainly adults, so sometimes schedules get in the way, but we meet for Game Day on the last Sunday of each month. There are about a dozen of us, although rarely more than 8 at any given event.
One thing that makes our group unique is that we don’t generally play with points. Several of the more active players (me included) really loved the liberation of points free play and so even after the General’s Handbook dropped we’ve managed to keep it up. We do use a wounds-based comp for the Game Day event (it’s based on Warhammer World’s “Clash of Empires” battleplan), but it just unlocks additional victory conditions rather than apply any hard limits.
Why is narrative gaming important to you?
Narrative gaming is important to me because I would really prefer to battle with someone rather than against them.
I spent many years playing story-based roleplaying games (like Apocalypse World, Dread, Psi Run, and many others). I learned a lot from that experience about storytelling through gaming, and how rewarding it can be to create an engaging narrative. I really enjoy sharing a narrative experience with other people, weaving their stories into one another, and playing to see what happens. Nearly everyone, even the most competitive gamer, has a story to tell about their army. When all of those stories take place together, it makes the stories a little less lonely.
What tips do you have to share with other NEOs?
I’ve been involved in a wide variety of campaigns over the years. Two that stand out in my mind as examples are what we called Efengie 5.0 (a WHFB campaign), and our first Eucebium campaign (at the outset of AoS). In Efengie 5.0, every model in each army was perfectly accounted for moving on an overland map with fog of war, a Game Master, random world events, and a gruesome level of detail. War is hell, and so was that campaign. It was too realistic, constrained, and punishing. We ended the campaign after a few months with only a few battles having even been played.
In the Eucebium campaign, we had the opposite problem. We had a “Mighty Empires” style hex-map that we could draw stuff on, and a general directive to play a battle each week. One guy built a dwarven brewery that made armies get drunk and act randomly. I summoned a magical vortex that switched spaces with a tile next to it each turn. We had some really wild, crazy, and inventive stuff going on, but it fell apart because nobody was invested in it. It had no narrative that the players did not provide.
As the NEO, it’s your job to give players a reason to care about the narrative without stifling them. My tip to you is to nurture the narrative, but also to make sure not to overstep and stifle it. Because every player has a different idea of what narrative play should be, you can’t really force a narrative; but you can encourage it, build it, and help it along.
If you’re interested in seeing more of what I have to say (also all my event packs and Eucebium campaign books) check out my blog HiveFleetCharybdis (https://hivefleetcharybdis.blogspot.com/).