If you’re new to the hobby you may have heard of “fluff.” What is fluff exactly? It’s the background information for a given army and there are many sources for your army’s particular fluff. One source is usually the main rule book of your game, and if your game has codices the game designers will have at least a blurb about the history or goals of your army. In the case of Warhammer 40k Games Workshop has a separate department known as Black Library which through both print and digital delivery publish a great deal of written material on various armies, specific generals and “VIPs” to their universe. They’re more often than not in a novel format, with small stories and combined collections making appearances as well. There’s a fairly large stable of authors who contribute to the library continually making new releases a bi-weekly event.
With all that fluff out there where should you start? In 40k as mentioned before your rulebook and codex likely has some fluff, but where do you start in the Black Library? There’s a lot of information and unfortunately a lot of duds out there. First place is recommendations, ask your peers and your online community. Second would be to go through the Black Library site using their search engine. Obviously Necrons are an interesting topic for me so that’s where I started and landed on Fall of Damnos. I’d not review it as an awesome work of fiction though it’s a ton better than I could ever pull off and has a great deal of action. This is where some people argue these books have little literary value and I can sometimes agree. There are often gratuitous battle scenes outlining all kinds of gory details, not necessarily the stuff for your nine year old to be thumbing through.
You’re likely wondering why I’d knock these books for having so much violence, with taglines like “There is only war” how could I want something more tranquil? Simple, what’s the day to day life of these soldiers? What is life like for the children of the Emperor in these cities? We play out the battles every game we play and we due to some action we can imagine what a lascannon will do to a tank, down to the color of the shot. What’s up with the kids of the Imperium? Do they hunker constantly, or are they even there? Whole ships worth of people are hurtling around in space, and no one gets a rusty tin roof? Seriously? Alas, I’m way off topic, just know that most fluff novels will be akin to watching the Expendables on loop. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes it’s not, but that’s what you’ll get in most cases for 40k
So if you don’t want lots of action where to go next? The codex is your next best bet. You’ll get concise information regarding major battles and events and will get highlights from most of your generals. The codices are well done from GW in this way. Don’t forget the web! While some fan written content isn’t the best, others do very well at it so poke around.
Finally, make your own fluff… How? Simple if you’re an old hand at Role Playing Games like Dungeons & Dragons you know this trick. Go and name a character, for me it’s Nemesor Zahndrehk and Illuminor Szeras leading the Nihilahk from the tomb worlds that are being invaded. I play the game then go through and take the game results into a quick synopsis. While there’s a place for battle reports outlining strategy and bad luck there’s also a good open ended zone for making a narrative as you play, and more so after playing. This is one a hobby initiative attempt for this year, let’s see how it pans out.
Do you have some sources for fluff? Share em below.