Do you write back stories for your armies? I Do!


Hey everyone, Reecius here form Frontline Gaming to talk about something fun: making pew pew noises with your toy soldiers!

Miniatures wargaming is a radical hobby not only because it involves lovingly building armies that are set in a cool universe and then playing games against our buddies with them but also because so much of it can be done in your mind, anywhere at any time. One of my favorite pastimes when I need a mental break is to write an army list, exploring a concept based on the fluff, or an army theme, etc. Sometimes, I just think about the setting of a cool game and all of the stories and fun ideas presented in them.


40k is a game that really lends itself to forging a narrative, so to speak, when building your army. One of the true strokes of genius in this game was the designers leaving the ability for the individual gamer to personalize their experience with it. You can create your own Space marine chapter (of which I have two!), your own regiment of Astra Militarum (like my own Tartarus 151st!), your own Chaos Warband, or Eldar Warhost, etc. With that freedom, you can really go nuts creating something unique to you that reflects your personal taste and style.

The Taima Legion: my Native American themed Space Marine chapter!

The Taima Legion: my Native American themed Space Marine chapter!

What I want to know is: how far do you all go with it? Do you, like me, create entire back stories and fictional characters to really bring your army to life? I love doing this as in my mind, I become more fully immersed in and attached to my armies when I do this. They become uniquely my own creations while still being rooted in a recognizable setting so that other gamers can easily recognize what they are looking at but remain intrigued to know a bit more.

Do you all do this with your armies? If so, share some of the ideas, pictures and stories in the comments section. If you have not done this, consider giving it a go! Even if it is just light hearted and funny (my friend’s Nurgle Chaos warband is lead by the mighty Daemon Prince, Lord Chlamydius, lol!) it really does further immerse you into our awesome hobby. I actually have linked many of my armies to one another in my own stories, such as my Tartarus 151st Astra Militarum regiment, with my Red Tigers Space marines (who recruit from the same planet), who often interact with my Inquisitor Razmus and his merry band of Assassins and Henchmen! They of course, are arch enemies of my newly emerging KDK army and frequently battle my Tyranid hive fleet, and sometimes fight with or against my quixotic Eldar army!

Don’t be afraid to seriously nerd out and give it a go, even if you don’t show it to anyone else, it’s fun! And if you feel bold, post it on a forum or blog and let others enjoy your imagination, too!


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

28 Responses to “Do you write back stories for your armies? I Do!”

  1. Avatar
    Bryan October 23, 2015 12:43 am #

    I’m currently painting my “chaos” army which is based around lots of legion of the damned who represent possessed marines emerging from the warp and doing daemonic stuff. It’s fun mixing the chaos and marine model range, so much variety and little painting/modelling rules when your representing csm. The codex astartes and conformity can stuff itself.Now all I have to do is nail down a painting process of representing the warp, like blue flames instead of red..

    I’m using the SM codex and raptor chapter tactics with Lias issodon, who I’m using a sorcerer modal, as that seems to fit the bill. Dark magic summoning forth possessed marines from the warp onto his position, infiltrating other squads into position, shrouding his buddy squad and doing his pre game strike thing.

    I’m no Tolkien though, aside from the general theme and aesthetic of the army, I don’t go much further then that.

    Now all I have to do is explain why my csm have grav in their squads and why use the SM codex instead of the chaos space marine codex and proper possessed marines/csm.

    Oh wait, I remembered, I don’t like wasting lots of time and money onto a themed army that would not stand a snowballs chance in hell on the tabletop!

    • Avatar
      Arrias October 23, 2015 5:54 am #

      What are you talking about, those aren’t grav guns, they’re “warp crushers”. They’re completely original and legally distinct from grav guns.

      • Avatar
        Bryan October 23, 2015 11:55 am #

        Haha true!

        Or they just forgot to ditch their grav weapons like the other traitor legions whilst running with their skirts up into the eye of terror.

        “we could abandon all of our cool grav weapons sir and know fear, in return for random boons if we don’t die first..or we could you know…not.”

  2. Avatar
    Karaghul October 23, 2015 1:16 am #

    I always write fluff for my armies too, and build/convert accordingly (my favourite part of the hobby after playing).

    I found that playing some of the 40K Role-Playing games from time to time can take this to the next level, as you can later incorporate your RPG character (and some of his NPC-buddies/new creations) to your army, convert the figures accordingly, have them carry some token, “This trophy right here is from when he killed that Ork Warboss while playing the Deathwatch, RPG, remember?”…etc. 😀

  3. Avatar
    abusepuppy October 23, 2015 3:14 am #

    Being a competitive player, my fluff is pretty much inevitably informed by my decisions about what I’m already using, but I still really like writing it for my armies. It can be good inspiration for conversions and it’s fun to be able to name your characters, convert up props to go with the army, etc.

    • Avatar
      fluger October 23, 2015 9:27 am #

      My favorite was the army you brought with the GI Joe playset with all the conversions and stuff.

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    WuhSawBe October 23, 2015 5:11 am #

    Back in the day, when you used to tool out your HQ’s, leaders, and captains, when you had to get an opponent’s permission to use a special character, I used to do it. My HQ had a name, a story behind each gear choice, and the games were of my leader’s forces vs the enemy’s. I remember even making a little “packet” for my opponent’s at a tourney, which contained fancy art (I was an art student at the time), my army list, and several pages of fluff for the army I using… those were the days.

  5. Avatar
    Arrias October 23, 2015 5:39 am #

    Personally, if there isn’t a story, I don’t really own the army. Additionally backstory, creating fluff for my armies helps me settle on things like color schemes and basing. Unfortunately, this is why I can’t seem to commit to a Grey Knights army, as much as I love their aesthetics as I feel like their existing fluff leaves little room for player created material.

    My Tau are the Cadre of the Ashen Phoenix, and I fully planned the entire army and their wargear options before buying a single model. Formed from the remnants of a cadre that failed to protect a colonizing fleet from a rogue Hive Fleet (My tyranids) the entire cadre is composed of tank and crisis suit pilot volunteers who’ve failed a previous critical mission,and feel there is no other way to redeem themselves. They operate with second-hand restored hardware, and you only fly what you can get repaired yourself. You have to earn your suit (or the few tanks). Squads are grouped by twinned weapon load-outs and similar combat philosophies. You master your weapon and your teams tactics at the expense of all others. (My personal favorite being my “Firetide” teams, dual flamers with stimulant injectors, deepstriking “danger close” in every game.) The entire army at 2k consists of 24 crisis suits and 3 hammerheads.

    My Tyranids are my first and true love. Hive Fleet Nautilus is a small fleet, but ever growing. This specific fleet is marked by a proclivity for aquatic assault tactics. When possible, the fleet will seed the oceans of a planet, creating massive underwater structures and staging areas. Once the forces have grown to the right size, the army launches from the oceans to devour everything on the land. The fleet is also known for a singular reappearing life form, “Bloodwake the Tidemaw”, a lightning fast Tyranid Prime with four rending claws, formed from a mutated ravener genetic strain, that frequently stains whole beaches a crimson red, and sows terror along the shorelines before invasion.

    Along with my two armies, my buddy has Tridecus Muroideas, a kitbashed Skaven CSM terminator sorcerer and only known devotee of the Great Horned Rat in the 41st millennium. (although he is starting to gain followers who have been converted to Skaven by the blessings of the GHR)

    • Avatar
      Arrias October 23, 2015 6:01 am #

      I should clarify, the Skaven sorcerer, I made for him as a gift. He goes bonkers with his fluff. Every unit and sergeant is named, half of them with personal stories, and his chaos lords have both pre and post daemon prince models.

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    CNitram October 23, 2015 6:05 am #

    I’ve gone through and planned out my entire Dark Angels 3rd Company loadouts, and given names to all the Sergeants, Librarian, Chaplain, Techmarine, and 3 Dreadnoughts. I’m going to be creating a narrative theme/story based around an “Endor forest moon” planet for my DA, Orks, Nids, and Eldar. Eventually, I’m going to get a Swamp FAT mat and make some giant redwood forest terrain and bunkers to go with it too.

  7. Avatar
    fluger October 23, 2015 6:30 am #

    I actually go so far as to create an entire warzone and try to connect the dots between all the armies I own. For instance my IG force is a Forge World PDF force defending a planet in the path of Waagh Garaghak which is rampaging in the Forsarr sector. My Ork force is a part of Waagh Garaghak. My Eldar are part a force from Yme Loc that is desperately trying to defend a maiden world that is now being fought over by Orks and Imperials in that sector.

    The thing about it though, is that while I’ve come up with all this stuff, I rarely, if ever, talk about it, because I find that army backstories are like Fantasy Football stories, no one cares but you. Does that make sense?

    I really and truly care about making cool backstories for my stuff, but I don’t write up pretty army lists with names for all my dudes ’cause all that extra fluff is really just for me.

    • Avatar
      fluger October 23, 2015 6:31 am #

      Also, the reason I chose that whole Waagh is because I love the Raven Guard and want to play them, but GW keeps screwing up their rules and not letting me play them how I want to play them! Though, these new formations might FINALLY open the door for it.

    • Avatar
      Arrias October 23, 2015 6:49 am #

      I think I’d just ask my opponent if their into sharing some army lore (not necessarily ALL the lore), and adding some fluff to the current game. I know I may be an outlier, but personally I’d be all for it.

      • Avatar
        fluger October 23, 2015 7:25 am #

        When asked, I share.

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      bogalubov October 23, 2015 9:19 am #

      I totally get making up the fluff for yourself. After a long time collecting and shaping the stories my Iron Warriors and IG/Mechanicus/Inquisition/Sisters have a link in my mind. The Iron Warrior Warsmith is a technomancer that seeks out long lost technology and has been conducting forbidden experiments from before the Heresy. The Mechanicus/IG are looking to unlock the secrets left behind by the Warsmith while the Inquisition/Sisters are keeping an eye on the Mechanicus/IG.

      However, I don’t share this stuff with most opponents. It’s mostly to amuse myself during assembly/painting. Also, CSM are so bad that I need some RPG elements to entertain myself while losing.

      I like to play against themed armies that have a consistent aesthetic, but I don’t really want to read other people’s fan-fiction. It’s usually not very good and kind of boring. That’s why I don’t expose other people to mine either.

      • Avatar
        fluger October 23, 2015 9:29 am #

        That last sentence is exactly my mindset.

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      westrider October 23, 2015 3:34 pm #

      I’ve got a similar thing going on, with a whole story about Chaos force spearheaded by the Alpha Legion attacking the Industrial World of Daelin IV, defended by Phrygian IG Regiments, elements from the Dark Angels and Crimson Thunder SM Chapters, and Mechanicus Units from the nearby FW of Ryza.

      Then I’ve got an Eastern Fringe thing going on between my Tau and a crusading force of SW from Egil Ironwolf’s Great Company.

  8. Avatar
    Hotsauceman1 October 23, 2015 8:37 am #

    Yeah. I kinda do.
    I have my White Scars, No Back story there sadly
    But I have my Tau which are of the K’tai sept. Adept Jungle fighters and adopt hit&Run tactics
    then my IG whit are are Sepulchral Knights: They hail from a Relic world full of tombs from famous imperial commanders. Their Symbol is an Ace of Spades with two scyths going through it(I need to get some transfers of that. I dont have any.

    • Avatar
      Hotsauceman1 October 23, 2015 8:38 am #

      Oh, and my Corsairs will be the Twilight Dawn Raiders with a Shining eye as their symbol(Kinda like the Japanese WW2 flag)

  9. Avatar
    Dbiesto October 23, 2015 8:39 am #

    I’m constantly editing and developing my painting and modeling blog on Dakka under Defeatmyarmy still. The backstory is loosely based on the Fallen Angels that the Dark Angels have been hunting, and they have finally gathered a large enough army to rescue Luther from the Fortress of Caliban. The Fallen (Dark Angels Legion I) have been traveling through the warp for so long after being sent by Luther to save his brothers from Lion El Johnsons wrath that some have been twisted and mutated by the warp. Oh, and daemonettes have their warp children so the army can continue growing ( Using icon of Excess Slaanesh bikers and Seekers of Slaanesh). Thousands have been killed in the Dark Angels hunt, and so Chaos Spawn of Nurgle were beyond saving from the Apothercaries of the Fallen so a powerful Chaos Sorceror, still pure from the marks of Chaos “saved” his brethren by using the power of the warp so that they can continue fighting. Been a few weeks but need to add this into fluff since its part of my army now.

  10. Avatar
    Thomas October 23, 2015 10:12 am #

    I love writing background for my armies, I do background stories to some individual models/units as well. It’s a great way to wrap up your work on a model or a unit. I usually write background pieces to the games I play too, creating a setting and a greater context to actual battle. All this adds so much to the whole experience.

  11. Requizen
    Requizen October 23, 2015 10:25 am #

    Of course! …Sorta!

    I have an idea of the characteristics and story of my Necron Dynasty. The Tomb World is a frozen planet and the army has a snow/ice theme (down to the C’Tan being part of the Conclave of the Frozen One). I’m still working on naming, as I think I’m going to base it off of the Inuktitut language.

    Their demeanor is ambivalent to other races. As long as none of them settle on the world their Dynasty claimed before the War In Heaven, they don’t mind them or even will help them if something is offered in return. They’ve worked with the forces of Nurgle (Nurgle can’t infest them, they don’t care about the Warp, so it was pretty mutually beneficial), a contingent of Militarum Tempestus (they were clearing out a Tyranid invasion, and the Necrons wanted the bugs off of their world, win/win), and often Tau (the Tomb World is close to a Tau system, and they trade technology for cooperation).

    In fact, as I have an interest in adding in some Tau Formations with the new book, this alliance may end up being represented on the tabletop with some conversions!

    Unlike my other army (Chaos), I really feel like having a story for my dudes gives a sense of connection, so I get more invested in the games and enjoy the victories even more!

  12. Avatar
    iNcontroL October 23, 2015 11:37 am #

    I think this is really cool 🙂 I named my Nids Hive Fleet Goliath and my unofficial fluff is they are a strain of mostly monstrous creatures that tend to hit hard with big beasties as opposed to the typical swarm. Haven’t gone much further than that but I love fluff and making your own is really cool when done right!

    • Avatar
      mtzbk October 24, 2015 9:05 pm #

      Technically the Hive adapts to the different environments its facing and enemies its fighting, yeah? So technically a flyrant list and monstrous creatures in a tournament list or any list for that matter is fluffy because the hive has adapted to the all the craziness it has to face!

  13. Avatar
    bridges60 October 23, 2015 1:01 pm #

    I have a dwelled in this a bit, my khorne Daemonkin/Chaos Warlod is Akarios the Lion of midnight “Que the Sabbaton song”. Was once a Night Lord centurian under the command the the 7th company Praetor Terricus, he forged his own bloody plath by not reatreating, but charging straigth through the heart of Dark Angel space. His original name was Maris Sohr but took the name of an Exhalted Dark Angel chapter master after he tore the angel apart with his bare hands. Khorne then blessed him as one of his favored and now he leads legions of daemons and Traitors in a bloody rampage across the galaxy.

    My other army is the Dark Eldar kabal of the Crimson Blade. Under lord Kha’ryn Severoth they have carved a reputation for themselves in the flesh of the Imperium. Both Corsair and Prince, he is brash and hot headed but has cunning for days.

  14. Avatar
    Jural October 23, 2015 2:19 pm #

    Back when Khorne Berserkers used to be functional in Rhinos, my unofficial background had my berserkers sitting in the Rhinos having tea and discussing social etiquette all the way until the moment the door opened and they ran out in a complete maniacal state.

  15. Avatar
    Scumlord October 24, 2015 11:16 am #

    My Chaos Daemons army doesn’t have so much a backstory as an excuse for existing. Every troop daemon is half human model/half daemon – it’s the new recruits army! Most of the bits and bodies of civilians, astartes and AM were stolen or traded from my co-generals. It represents an incursion beginning on a world, where the half-formed daemons claw forth from the warp into the bodies of the weak-minded. So every battle represents a new world which will burn!

    • Avatar
      jamie October 25, 2015 8:45 am #

      that’s a really kool idea

      I use bases n paint scheme to create my back story but I find in my local area the vast majority of players including those that prefer a fun n fluffy game; the list itself always overshadows everything

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