Friday, 30 December 2011

Codex: Squat Stronghold - Progress at Last

I have wisely spent the festive period (and a dull week working in Glasgow) coming up with some great ideas for my meisterwork, Codex: Squat Stronghold. I won't be revealing all my secrets here now, as I'm really hoping to get the Codex itself to a point where I can publish a first online draft in the next 6-8 weeks, but you'll find below a list of things that I have been thinking about and developing recently:
  • Full Warhammer 40,000 timeline, from 9,000 B.C. to the 41st millenium
  • Comprehensive description & background material for the Squat race
  • Detailed history and back-stories
  • Unit types
  • Stats for all units
  • Special rules for all units
  • Style of play analysed and worked into army design & unit rules
In particular, I have made major progress with two things:


For me the most important thing to get right is to give the Squats a valid and realistic reason still to exist in the 41st millenium. We all know (and I for one personally despise) the lazy cop-out explanation that the Squats were eaten by the Tyranids. What utter bunkum! It is totally unplausible for the Tyranids - a race that exists only to consume biomass - to expend time and energy on devouring worlds that are devoid of any indiginous life, and populated solely by a relative handful of frontiersmen, miners, traders and warriors, all of whom live in inpossible-to-detect subterranean cities. 

Ok, calm. Rant over... 

One main aim of the codex is to create a more satisfying backstory for the Squats, one that doesn't ask the reader to suspend their normal, rational beliefs (such as one can when reading science fiction). One of the most important things when writing fiction is to ensure that a character's motives, decisions and emotions are realistic - so that, even though he or she may exist in a fantastical universe, their reactions to a particular set of circumstances are entirely rational and realistic. This is in fact one of my major grumbles with corporate/primetime TV, and Eastenders in particular. It is not that I object that much to soaps and dramas per se, it's just that the protagonists' reactions are usually either totally disproportionate to the severity of the given situation, or their decisions are completely at odds with what I would consider to be a rational or logical thought process. This in fact led me to deliver a ten-minute rant (on Christmas Day evening, and directed at my pregnant girlfriend and her mum, no less) on why the current kidnap & subsequent house-fire Eastenders storyline was utterly unbelieveable and why 'real' people would never make those decisions. To their credit, the girls laughed at me, told me to shut up and continued watching. So I collected my toys and placed them back in my pram. Ahem. 

Soooo.... Long story short, I have come up with several different backstories to explain the Squats' continued existence in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. They all start with the invasion of the Homeworlds by Hive Fleet Nemesis and the Imperium's abandonment of the Squats to this fate. The different variants of the story then seek to explain how the Squats survive the Tyranid scourge. Suffice to say that so far, Chaos, the Demiurg, the Ultramarines, the Warp itself, and countless others are all involved in the story!

The second major aim of the codex was to develop a totally unique style of game-play for the army. Very quickly I decided that the Squats would most likely favour a stoic, break-us-down-if-you-can attitude in war, so the army is designed to be a lot like Jose Mourinho's Chelsea team - very strong defensively, but with a vicious counter-attack ready to strike on the break.

To that end, I have developed special rules for many of the specialist units to suit their defensive nature. The psychic units - Living Ancestor and  Spirit Lords - have powers which allow army units, or even scenery, to be moved around prior to the game, during deployment. The engineering units - Guild Engineers and Sappers - allow vehicles and weapons to be upgraded with either universal special rules or the ability to twin-link shots, or re-roll scatter dice for example. The Sappers also allow pieces of scenery to be rigged with mines and boobytraps, thus ensuring the Squat player has a good chance of whittling down the enemy before they reach the doughty defenders. 


Hopefully then, I've whetted your appetites with a few tasty morsals to tease you until I've fleshed out the Codex a bit more. Til then, keep watching this space!   

1 comment:

  1. Sounds interesting, look forward to seeing what you come up with!

    I wouldn't fret too much about the "eaten by Nids" bit, since IIRC it was just a throwaway comment by one of the staff, not some kind of major canonical event.