How to write lore for a custom Chapter?
Truly, wargaming is a hobby like no other. For some, the number of activities you can undertake on behalf of it can be even overwhelming. Let’s discuss it - what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about tabletop wargames? Probably, it’ll be a vision of you and another player above the table full of miniatures and terrain. Proceeding with the rules, you will measure the distances with battle rulers, roll battle dice from time to time, mark some crucial information with tokens, markers, templates, and - overall - you’ll try to achieve victory in a game.
If you had something to do with wargaming before, you know that the description above is (more or less) accurate. Only by reading it, we can already list some activities that form this hobby. First, it’ll be modeling - to make miniatures and terrain (bought thanks to such producers as Tabletop Scenics or created entirely by yourself) for your battlefield, glue them, and finish with some modeling and basing stuff.
Secondly, painting - once you build everything required to play, it’s good practice to paint all of it before you get this party started. Once painted, figures and scenery seem much more alive. They look professional as well.
Thirdly, the game itself. This gaming aspect isn’t only about moving and performing attacks with your miniature army with gaming accessories. It’s also about tactical thinking, preparing your soldiers for different dangers thanks to a wide range of available weaponry (even afforded separately - either as high-quality resin bits such as the ones from Kromlech or 3D printable files that you can find at Kromlech 3D Workshop), and - last but not least - having fun. Both with your friends and relatives, you can dive deep into the fictional world in which the particular system is set. And that’s where another activity comes to play - creating and writing your own stories within the various universes.
Let’s take a closer look at the last activity by revealing how to write lore for a custom Space Marine Chapter from Warhammer 40k by Games Workshop.
What is lore and why do you need it for your custom Chapter?
In the grim dark future universe of Warhammer 40k, the central, most recognizable faction are Space Marines. These genetically superior to any human beings, trained in the art of war, and equipped with the finest weaponry, including characteristic power armor, are the loyal servants of the Emperor of Mankind. As the elite forces of the Imperium of Man, they fight across the stars with horrific Daemons of Chaos and various alien species.
Space Marines are divided into Chapters. Each Chapter has its own unique look, preferable tactics and weapons, and vast history, including memorable characters and battles. Although many Chapters are well depicted by the creators - Games Workshop itself - the beauty of playing one of the “unknown” Chapters is that you’re free to think about your own story for the army. Combining it with a unique painting scheme and symbols, you can make your Space Marine force feel like no other.
Whole range of different Space Legionaries
Besides special events, such as tournaments or campaigns, making lore for your Chapter isn’t necessary. If you’re not keen on such activities, you can always go with some of the known, already-designed Space Marine force. But - undoubtedly - creating your own (entirely “own”) army has some even more exciting in itself.
How to come up with ideas for your lore?
How to write lore? Well, to do that, it’s a good idea to read some Warhammer 40k content first. This information has many sources, such as rulebooks, novels, and Internet wikis. Although your lore is… well, “your,” it doesn’t mean it can be in-universe fantasy lore. Writing lore should match (or, at least, don’t overlap) the information we already know about the universe. It would still destroy the immersion, even if it were good fantasy lore.
If you’re short on entertaining ideas for your lore, you can always take inspiration from video games, movies, and even our history. Undoubtedly, it’s better to live during calm times. Nonetheless, what usually happens to be an addictive lecture are the stories of conflicts and great struggles.
How to write your lore in an engaging and interesting way?
The question “how to write your lore in an engaging and interesting way” is, in fact, about “how to write good lore.” Although there is no perfect method, there are some tips for making it work. First, you must remember that you don’t need to write lore for the entire game. Such a thing already exists, so your job will be less demanding. You just need to focus on writing a good story in the pre-constructed frame. It still might not look like the most straightforward task in the world, but - at least - the amount of work won’t be sky-scraping. Usually, it’s reasonable to approach this challenge in the spirit of saying, “quality exceeds quantity.”
Tips for keeping your lore organized and easy to reference
To keep your lore organized and easy to reference, you need to write it like a lore book. Everything needs to have its place, so chronological order is your significant ally. Besides evident reasons behind this solution - showing your idea plain and simple - it'll also make your work much more absorbing. It's common knowledge that we (the people) prefer to sink into a story, not knowing how it'll end. Familiarity with outcomes of specific events can quickly change a "witnessing them in awe" into "detecting them and yawning."
What's more, including some characters can be a good idea. Focus on their story and write your lore as some kind of chronicle following their adventures. It'll be much easier for you to write it in a logical order and for readers not to get lost among the lines of complicated history.
Examples of well-done lore for custom Chapters
Lore writing isn’t a piece of cake - there is no doubt about it. Besides gathering some information about the universe itself, it’s also a great idea to look for examples of well-done lore for Space Marines Chapters. In that case, it isn’t only about those included in Codexes made by Games Workshop. Although the content available in these books is a perfect (if not the best) reference, no one will demand you to write your lore that rich and precise.
All these points lead to one logical conclusion - reading some of the other pieces of lore for custom Chapters isn’t a bad idea before you take your shot. There are plenty of such examples across the Internet. Of course, it doesn’t mean that all of them will be perfect or worth taking inspiration from. Nonetheless, even if you walk on some bad examples of custom lore, not everything will be lost - you can always learn from one’s mistakes. All you have to do is to have a clear mind and remember that on the Internet, not everyone is an expert.