Last week we shared a brief introduction to a narrative event in New Zealand called the Labyrinth of Eternity. We caught up with the NEO, Andrew Long, and asked him some questions about his local scene and what he values about narrative play and if he had any tips to share with other NEOs.
Andy, how did you become a NEO?
I had attended 40k tournaments for some time, and always had a nagging feeling that trampling one another seemed the most simplistic version of warhammer possible. Players treated their models merely as tokens in a boardgame, buying the best ones as the meta moved on. Age of Sigmar sort of changed all that, esp when there wss no points in it. It rebooted my thinking, and the jaded comp gamer was gone. Here was a community receptive to something other than miniatures in sports mode. I used my design and writing talents to run some events in the way i thought they could be, this happened to be narrative gaming. Later still, discovered we call ourselves NEOs.
Can you tell us about your local group?
Gaming in NZ is tricky, there arent many of us. When I began playing age of sigmar naturally I looked for people to play against. We tried at local gaming clubs and the reception was hostile, 9th Agers didnt take kindly to us. So we started our own club where the core rules of it was that you must be polite to one another. This simple dictate attracts many gamers who enjoy a bit of story with their games. We meet twice a week playing mostly 40k and AoS, and we play a lot of campaigns and encourage creative writing in the form of battle reports.
Why is narrative gaming important to you?
Narrative gaming to me feels like the roots of the hobby. You can see that’s where GW start, the story, the world, the art. By simply collecting an army and painting it the same colours and following the patterns of a battletome or codex, a player is applying a form of narrative. For me as an artistic fellow (i studied art and was a graphic designer for many years) the urge to tell stories and themes has always been there. But finding like minds has been the real sticking point. The social media age has helped us bridge that gap. Seeing other gamers, other storytellers has been eyeopening. It begs the question ‘why cant i do that?’ Not having a good excuse for why not, I simply decided to do it — if the event sucked, I wont do it again. Fortunately feedback has been superb so I’ll keep going.
What tips do you have to share with other NEOs?
I’m cursed with being a lazy person trapped in a busy person’s body. To combat my urge to do nothing, I simply set a date for an event and tell people that around that time I’ll put on a bonkers show for then. I find the fear of embarrassment is a very strong and compelling force to overcome laziness. So ya, set a date, talk a big game. Nothing like a pressing deadline to make an event happen.
Another tip, make sure you tell your players something like ‘the event won’t be fair, but it will be fun and memorable’. Meaning, don’t compromise your narrative just to give everyone a fighting chance.