Thursday, October 21, 2010

Burnt Out on the Fluff

I've been thinking about the fluff.  It's almost a dirty word to some in the hobby (actually, it is a dirty word in certain contexts).  Recently I've been finding myself less and less interested in the background materials in the games I play.  I bought the monstrous 8th edition Fantasy rulebook within a month of its release, but I have yet to read through all of the background section.  I told myself before it dropped that I'd be patient and what for the mini rulebooks from IoB to hit eBay and save myself some cash.  I caved and bought the $80 beast anyways but have yet to partake of its full offerings.

I have 4 editions worth of Fantasy rule books and 3 editions worth of 40k.  I won't bore you by listing the various editions of army books and codecies I've read.  I used to really enjoy reading the background materials, but I've never been obsessed with it the way some people are.  I'm not coming down on hobbyists who really dig the fluff - if you've read any of my other long winded soap box triads you know that I'm all for enjoying the buffet of hobby options that wargaming provides.  I'm just not interested in discussing the nuances of the 2nd War for Armageddon or the trade relations between the Houses of Necromunda.  I've always though of Battletech as one of the best wargames ever, but I have zero interest in the back story (Clans, Inner Sphere, meh.  Giant Fighting Robots - OMG!!1).

I started playing Warhammer Fantasy in 1998 and 40k followed soon thereafter.  Since that time I haven't noticed anything really new and mind blowing in GW's fluff.  The last time my beloved Lizardmen got a new book, White Dwarf touted that their background had been filled out to create a more thorough time line of their history.  Maybe I didn't go through the book with a fine tooth comb, but my head didn't explode as if I had appropriated some forbidden lore after reading the book.  Old ones - check.  Different species of Lizardmen - check.  Floating toad who can level cities without lifting a finger - check.  Yep, essentially the same Lizardmen, just a few new units.  Of course, some games actually do advance their back story.  Shadowrun, the only RPG I ever truly liked, pushed the year the game is set in from 2050 to 2060 to 2070 with each new edition.

I do not read any of the Black Library books, none.  I read enough sci-fi novels as a kid to get my fill of the genre (mostly Star Wars, Shadowrun and the bizarre novelization of the video-game Doom).  I really don't have the free time to keep up with the Horus Heresy, Gaunt's Ghosts or their other long running series.  Frankly my reading tastes have expanded since middle school and I read more non-fiction than fiction these days.  The last four books I read have been about a Coast Guard rescue in Alaska, Mossad's capture of Adolf Eichmann, the unwritten code of conduct in the MLB and Watership Down.
A novel about fluffy bunnies
The primary factors for this loss of interest boils down to a) I am not obsessed with the finer details of the fluff and b) there's really nothing new.  This is not to say that I don't like the background to Warhammer.  A good rule set alone is not enough to pull me in to playing game, it needs the miniatures and story to back it up.

Now that the new space-dark-elf Codex is on the way, I am admittedly kinda curious as to what GW has done with them.  The last time these guys got a book was back in the beginning of 3rd edition when GW was trying to crank out codecies at a high rate to adapt to the new force org chart at the expense of mediocre and limited fluff.
I would not call this guy "fluffy" to his face


  1. Actually , I have to agree here , THe HH books were not good enough to make me keep buying them either, have missed a fair few now.

    In hindsight I feel they have royally cocked it up, Having said that I will be getting Prospero Burns, as Lone wolves was my fave GW comic and Abnett + wolves might manage to elicit that ole tingle I miss.

    The DE having a complete re do fluffwise has got me pumped too , cant remember the last time I read fluff, always used to be the first thing I would devour in the 2e dex's

    But like you said they have been largely flogging a dead horse in recent years.

  2. I have to disagree. I love the fluff, it is a way escape my day of dealing with pain in the ass customers. I also like to see what they do with the fluff as the years go by. They explain more and more with each new codex/army book. Stupid stories are fun for me.

  3. Older post I know...but Watership down Rocks.