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Crafting a Craftworld
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Old 05 Mar 2010, 09:16   #1 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Crafting a Craftworld

Well, this has been a long time coming. Loeldrad, I apologise for making you wait.

Okay, so the Space Marines have one, and the Chaos Space Marines have one. I don't think the Imperial Guard have one yet but they damn well should - and if I don't inspire someone else to do it with this article, I'll do it myself. Beyond that I'm not sure how many other races its really necessary for - I mean, you might want to do it with Orks but I doubt you'd need help for that...

Anyway, the purpose of this article is to provide some guidance on creating your own Craftworld. What follows will be a succession of points to consider and some guidelines about Eldar history, but they follow no particular order - I was going to present this in step-by-step form but quickly realised that would be inappropriate; for some people the colour scheme is the least important aspect and will come once everything else is done, for others the colour scheme will come first and the fluff will be created after. Having used that as my example, my first port of call shall in fact be the colour scheme =P

Colours
Like the Space Marines, the Craftworld Eldar are renowned for their striking colour schemes and as such it should be noted right off the bat that they are not the sort to be using camouflage - aside from the Rangers' cloaks, of course. Also bear in mind that, in all likelihood (though I'll get into this later), your Aspect Warriors are not going to bear the colours of your craftworld, instead displaying the colours of their aspect.

In terms of creating a colour scheme, a good thing to note would be that all "official" Eldar schemes operate on one colour for the helmet and another for the body. Keeping that distinction makes the colour scheme more realistic. If you are having trouble inventing a scheme, there is a very, very easy way to create one - invert the colours of an official craftworld. Alaitoc and Iyanden, for example, use exactly the same colour scheme - the only difference is that on one the head is blue and for the other the body is blue. As such it's easy to envision a craftworld with for example a green body and a white helmet (inverse Biel-Tan) or a bone body and a black helmet (inverse Ulthwé). Dawn of War (yes, the computer game) is actually a very good way of testing colour schemes using the army painter - you can paint a Guardian with this same scheme distinction (i.e. helmet and body) and then, if you're unsure of how this scheme would look on a vehicle, you can have a look at how it'd work on a Falcon. All this without even playing the game =P While this isn't much help to people who don't have the game, it's so useful it's worth mentioning - and if you don't have the game, buy it. It's awesome.

Name
Right. This part is bloody difficult, I'm not going to lie to you. The Space Marines and their heretical counterparts get off easy because their names are all in English. The best I can do with regards to this is link you here, which is an Eldar dictionary much like the Tau xenolexicon we have on this very site. There are a lot of words there I didn't know about, but there are enough there that I did know (and checked) for me to consider that site legit - and as it's the first hit on a Google Search for "Eldar dictionary," it's probably the best you're going to get. Even if there isn't anything appropriate to your needs there, it helps you by seeing more of the Eldar language and how their words sound so you can make up "realistic" Eldar words. The sad fact is that a Craftworld called Inferno of Tears, while perhaps appropriate in terms of translation, doesn't sound anywhere near as cool or appropriate as Kianshemas (and yes, that's a "real" Eldar word... or composed of them, anyway).

Tied into this is naming important individuals from your Craftworld, again the dictionary I linked is probably the best aid for that (though you can probably play looser with "fake" Eldar words for names), but I'll deal with them further on.

The links here are becoming slightly more tenuous, but a Craftworld symbol is always good to have, if only to show off your freehand on the hulls of your tanks. Egyptian hieroglyphics and celtic symbols are great sources of inspiration. Chinese and other Far-Eastern characters are not. I can’t stress that last part enough.

Style of War
When it gets down to it that's what this is all about, isn't it? In all likelihood you're making a Craftworld for your army on the tabletop, not for a massive background exercise for fun (I think I'm one of the only people here freakish enough to do that >_&gt, so here's the "meat" of the article. Remember that we already have the styles of war utilised by the "Big Five" pretty well documented, so it's a good idea to not try to ape them too closely. We have enough choices in terms of units to not have to copy the big names.

The first thing I'd suggest is limit your aspects - unless you're aping Biel-Tan's Swordwind - we've got Scorpions, Banshees, Dragons, Avengers, Spears, Reapers, Spiders and Hawks, and I'd recommend chopping that list down severely. Odds are you aren't likely to have a unit of every one of those in your army, so switch up your fluff such that only the Aspects that appear in your army are even found on your Craftworld, for whatever reason. Ulthwé don’t have many Aspect Warriors, it’s in their background. And even the most ubiquitous Aspects like Avengers and Banshees are not literally everywhere. This small act will instantly add some nuance to your Craftworld’s character.

Your mix of non-aspect troops will go some way to shaping your craftworld, too. Saim-Hann, for example, are characterised by their jetbikes and skimmers – not by their aspects. If your army includes a large selection of Wraithguard and Jetbikes, you’ve clearly got a Craftworld that has had some hard times - like Iyanden - but tempers their mighty glaciers with a roaming swift hunter aspect. This kind of cross-breeding canon craftworlds is a great way to make a unique craftworld too; for all its similarities to Iyanden and Saim Hann the above example is not either of them and stands apart on its own merit.

Beliefs & Personality
The most important thing to bear in mind here is the Eldar do not buddy up with other races. They do not make “alliances” in the conventional way. As I have said in another thread somewhere, the Eldar “ally” in the same way I ally with my modelling clippers when taking models off the sprue. They are a tool that helps me in my goal, but I feel no loyalty to them, and if my clippers ever proved insufficient for the job they would be cast aside in favour of a modelling knife or a better pair of clippers. Your Craftworld is not going to be making friends with Imperial Guard regiments, Space Marine Chapters or even Tau Cadres. It may use them to its advantage, but it certainly won’t be inviting them over for tea. The closest they ever get to this is Inquisitors of the Ordo Malleus, and even then their relationship is strictly business. With that in mind, don’t tie your Craftworld to another faction in any way beyond “a tool they use relatively often.”

A prime thing to consider is their personality amongst their own, and their goals. Biel-Tan seeks to reform the Eldar Empire; Alaitoc is characterised by its even stricter Path adherence than the other Craftworlds, and as a result more rebellious youngsters. Again, an easy way is to combine the personalities of different Craftworlds, perhaps not the same two Craftworlds you combined for your style of warfare. In the Iyanden/Saim Hann example above, perhaps they are actively seeking to spread Eldar dominance, like the Biel-Tan, yet contain a lot of rebellious, anti-structure Eldar who defy tradition - and, going back to Aspect Warriors, this may indicate the presence of Warp Spiders amongst their war host, considering their thrill-seeking nature. It all ties together.

Perhaps your Craftworld venerates one of the Eldar Gods not often seen, on account of their status as “dead” (:). A Craftworld that places special significance on Vaul, for example, will doubtless contain more grav-tanks than your average Craftworld. A Craftworld that heavily venerates their ancestors will field a lot of wraith-constructs. A Craftworld that doesn’t place an emphasis on Khaine himself (maybe not even having a shrine to him) is not going to take to battle with an Avatar.

Heroes
Don’t be afraid to kill off heroes in your background. If you start playing with a squad of Banshees but eventually wish to swap them out for a Wraithlord (this is the most obvious link but it can be done in other ways), don’t be afraid to kill off your Banshee Exarch in the background and put her spirit stone in said Wraithlord. Even if the deceased is not destined for a Wraith construct, remember the Infinity Circuit always needs more spirit stones or your Farseer can retreat to the Dome of the Crystal Seers never to be seen again. I’d always recommend never retconning your background, simply move it forward, kill off or otherwise incapacitate your lead characters and allow new players to rise up from the ashes. This is much more realistic for your readers and opponents then one day simply changing everything about your Craftworld with no reference to how it was before.

Those who command the army define it. I’m not suggesting you come up with a background for every Exarch and tank pilot in your army, but it’s certainly cool if you do. Your Farseer or Autarch, on the other hand, should be named and characterised. With an Autarch, this is incredibly easy. Remember, all the aspect-linked equipment for an Autarch (mandiblasters, reaper launcher, hawk wings, etc) is explicitly indicative of aspects he has served time in, and that should shape his view of the galaxy as well as his style of war. In terms of personality types for aspects, it’s all there in your codex. It’s like a set of Lego bricks with which you can assemble a believable character.

As I mentioned in the section on naming the Craftworld, coming up with names can be bloody difficult, though it is easier for characters than for the Craftworld itself. You can cheat here, though, in a similar vein to what I suggested in an old thread about naming Orks. You can name your Autarch or Farseer in English (or “Gothic”, as it is called in-universe, if you didn’t know :P) as a title that the Imperials who have encountered them have bestowed upon them, for example “the Assassin of Acheron IV” or “the Fell-Witch of the Arcturus Sector.” They’ll obviously have “real” Eldar names, but if you only ever play against Imperial armies there’s no reason to use them

Finishing Off
This is all very abstract, I don’t intend to present you with a cut-and-paste method of creating a Craftworld, you will need some degree of creativity on your own. Unlike the Space Marines, which have many chapter name and colour scheme generators on the Internet and are generally very easy to create for, building a Craftworld requires a much more fluid approach complete with a sold knowledge of Eldar fluff. If you are unsure of anything, ask someone you know will be sure or look it up in a Codex or on Lexicanum. If you do not know anyone who will be sure, you are wrong. If you are reading this then you know me, and I promise you I can give you a definitive answer about virtually any aspect of Eldar background. Don’t be afraid to PM me, especially with difficult questions, because if I don’t know immediately I’m going to love finding out.

Remember, also unlike Space Marines, whereby you have about 900 Chapters to choose from (there's 1000 in the background, of which there can only be around 100 (if that) with anything to them in canon, even if it's just a colour scheme), there are only about forty Craftworlds in existence today in the galaxy. Don't let this dissuade you - there probably are a lot more custom craftworlds around the globe than that, at least I hope so - rather, take it as an indicator to do better. Space Marines (perhaps oddly, given their status in the background at least) have the option to be "mediocre." We do not have that option. So make your Craftworld's fluff the best it can be.

Following on from that... and I don’t want this to be your first port of call... if you are having severe trouble creating a Craftworld but want your own, then ask me and I’ll help. Give me a copy of your army list, tell me your colour scheme and I will do the rest. That said, I hope you will be able to stretch your creative muscles and write something yourself, and if you do come to me to get me to do it for you I hope afterward you can write something, even just a 500 word story, about the individuals of your craftworld to show that you can and you know your background. That’d be the greatest reward I could receive.

I hope this has helped you guys, you’ll hear more from me later. Circus out.
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Old 06 Mar 2010, 11:04   #2 (permalink)
Shas'La
 
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Default Re: Crafting a Craftworld

About the Aspect Warriors, I strive to include one of my two craftworld colors on every Aspect model in some way.

The following are ways I've kept traditional color schemes in the aspects while including my own:
Banshees' sashes are purple
Dragons' tabards are purple
Avengers' catapults are adorned in purple
Reapers' hairpieces are purple
Scorpions....still deciding
Spears...still deciding as well
Don't own any Spiders yet
Hawks' wings have purple feathers mixed in


As far as my Craftworld's playstyle goes, I've morphed a lot since acquiring most of my army, so the army list here on the forums isn't practical for my current playstyle at all. I'm still trying to figure out how I like to run my army, and then model the Craftworld around it.
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Old 06 Mar 2010, 11:17   #3 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Re: Crafting a Craftworld

Just reading that actually makes me want to start an Eldar Army. I may go borrow my friends for a while.

Great work Circus.
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Old 06 Mar 2010, 11:44   #4 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Re: Crafting a Craftworld

Quote:
Originally Posted by TigStripe
About the Aspect Warriors, I strive to include one of my two craftworld colors on every Aspect model in some way.

The following are ways I've kept traditional color schemes in the aspects while including my own:
Banshees' sashes are purple
Dragons' tabards are purple
Avengers' catapults are adorned in purple
Reapers' hairpieces are purple
Scorpions....still deciding
Spears...still deciding as well
Don't own any Spiders yet
Hawks' wings have purple feathers mixed in
Granted, that's a fine way to tie your army together visually
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Originally Posted by Restayvien
Well I'd rather not play the game at all than play it like they did! :P
Crikey! This crazy clown causes commotion like the coming of Christ. Contained in a circle corrupted by crackheads and carnal cravings, he creates no concession to callous cheaters concentrating on nought but cock. Certainly, still a curious and cordial cavalier in the countenance of crazed cads, curs and creeps who condemn courtesy as something corny. No cloud could collapse his crushing crescendo of comical crowing and crimson coiffure. This conjecture on culture comes circumlocutive, consequently...

You may call me Circus.
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Old 07 Mar 2010, 08:53   #5 (permalink)
Shas'La
 
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Default Re: Crafting a Craftworld

Great Article and a very clever name I must say haha! This is exactly what is was looking for oh and no worries on the wait!
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Old 07 Mar 2010, 21:48   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Crafting a Craftworld

Good job Circus, I'll definitely be using this as I build my (relatively) new Eldar army. Good thing college has wiped from my mind any semblance of fluff I had thought up and cut me off right before I started painting... hopefully over the summer I'll have enough time too to those things... Yay summer quarter + a competitive major :P

But yah, enough of me complaining. You dun gud
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Old 08 Mar 2010, 20:43   #7 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Re: Crafting a Craftworld

Just checked the language link in the first post (I wanted to use it for my own purposes) and it is not what I had originally linked to. Working on fixing that now.

Edit: Fixed. It is now a useful port of call, rather than a page featuring a definition of the word "Eldar" >_>
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Originally Posted by Restayvien
Well I'd rather not play the game at all than play it like they did! :P
Crikey! This crazy clown causes commotion like the coming of Christ. Contained in a circle corrupted by crackheads and carnal cravings, he creates no concession to callous cheaters concentrating on nought but cock. Certainly, still a curious and cordial cavalier in the countenance of crazed cads, curs and creeps who condemn courtesy as something corny. No cloud could collapse his crushing crescendo of comical crowing and crimson coiffure. This conjecture on culture comes circumlocutive, consequently...

You may call me Circus.
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Old 05 Apr 2010, 04:09   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Crafting a Craftworld

Quote:
I’d always recommend never retconning your background, simply move it forward, kill off or otherwise incapacitate your lead characters and allow new players to rise up from the ashes. This is much more realistic for your readers and opponents then one day simply changing everything about your Craftworld with no reference to how it was before.
This may be realistic, but unfortunately it hurts a story... a lot. The fastest way an author can lose readers is to write a series that kills off a main character and grabs another one every book.

The idea is not to cling to every single model or unit you have in your army list when you first make it, and get tired of having a great fluff background for say, a Howling Banshee Exarch who gets taken down a lot from shooting. The fluff/names I've devised around the models in my Tau Cadre surround the aspect on their performance that I've seen, for example Killer, and Invincible are both Hammerheads. Invincible is usually the first thing players shoot at, whether that's psychological or not I don't know, but it happens often. Then there's Lesser Important, a Ionhead or Sky Ray, who's usually one of the last vehicles to be shot at or assaulted (unless by means of opportunity).

Making stories and names after playing several games seems to be a lot easier than making them up before playing. After all, where are legends born?
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Old 05 Apr 2010, 05:14   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Crafting a Craftworld

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Originally Posted by Colonel Marksman
Quote:
I’d always recommend never retconning your background, simply move it forward, kill off or otherwise incapacitate your lead characters and allow new players to rise up from the ashes. This is much more realistic for your readers and opponents then one day simply changing everything about your Craftworld with no reference to how it was before.
This may be realistic, but unfortunately it hurts a story... a lot. The fastest way an author can lose readers is to write a series that kills off a main character and grabs another one every book.
Well yes, but you're not writing a story. You're writing history.

Quote:
The idea is not to cling to every single model or unit you have in your army list when you first make it, and get tired of having a great fluff background for say, a Howling Banshee Exarch who gets taken down a lot from shooting. The fluff/names I've devised around the models in my Tau Cadre surround the aspect on their performance that I've seen, for example Killer, and Invincible are both Hammerheads. Invincible is usually the first thing players shoot at, whether that's psychological or not I don't know, but it happens often. Then there's Lesser Important, a Ionhead or Sky Ray, who's usually one of the last vehicles to be shot at or assaulted (unless by means of opportunity).

Making stories and names after playing several games seems to be a lot easier than making them up before playing. After all, where are legends born?
That is one way of doing things, yes, but sometimes you want some things set before you take to the battlefield - if you're the kind of player that writes fluff in the first place, you're not the kind of player who'll play games with Bland Army #17 in order to give it personality - you'll give it something at least beforehand.

Though of course both methods are valid. I merely offered the method I prefer.
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Originally Posted by Restayvien
Well I'd rather not play the game at all than play it like they did! :P
Crikey! This crazy clown causes commotion like the coming of Christ. Contained in a circle corrupted by crackheads and carnal cravings, he creates no concession to callous cheaters concentrating on nought but cock. Certainly, still a curious and cordial cavalier in the countenance of crazed cads, curs and creeps who condemn courtesy as something corny. No cloud could collapse his crushing crescendo of comical crowing and crimson coiffure. This conjecture on culture comes circumlocutive, consequently...

You may call me Circus.
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