Sunday, 28 October 2012

A rose by any other name: Research and Fluff

Inspired to ponder by this article at BoLS, I decided to set down my thoughts. I'd welcome yours. I quite like accuracy, but it is sometimes impossible. This is the case both for historical gaming and imagined settings. In the first case, the historical record may be incomplete, and one would end up tearing one's hair out trying to find the correct uniform colours for an obscure unit in the ECW. In the latter case, there can be multiple interpretations. If you have any interest in Games Workshop, you're probably aware that they (fairly) recently released a whole host of new bits and bobs for one of the campaigns well-known to readers of the background or fluff, The Badab War. This dates back to the time when GW didn't take itself so seriously as now, so you can find a unit called the Space Sharks, and another unit with some eyebrow-raising (or seizure-inducing) camouflage schemes. The silliness has been toned down, and the grandiosity turned up, so the Space Shark are now the Carcharodons, for instance. So you are equally right to call them by either name. I've been playing a lot of Star Fleet: ACTA lately, and in looking into the fluff of that universe, I've noted a few discrepancies with The Original Series. I don't mean the big things like wars breaking out, but small things, like ships from the TV show bearing different numbers in this version of events. Again you can make a case that either is right.

When it comes to historical gaming, I have a similar perspective. It is not so much that one can argue this or that as that I really don't mind if last week's Army of Northern Virginia is this week scrapping in the Vicksburg, or - perhaps even more shocking - if the erstwhile 95th Rifles are now the 60th Royal Americans. I don't have all the figures to field every combination I would like, and I'm not too bothered whether this particular regiment has the right facings and colours. If I can match things up, I will, but the game's the thing! Then again, to return to imaginary settings for a moment, sometimes I'm happy imagining things and other times it feels too ridiculous for words. I was never any good at coming up with fluff for my Imperial Guard, as they're just wee chaps shooting at things. Set that against my write-up of one of my Star Fleet games. In that instance I had a ball of a time, deriving a lot of enjoyment from replicating the cheesy fun that I most associate with ST: TOS. That isn't to say that TOS couldn't be dramatic. Balance of Terror is probably my favourite dramatic episode, although since it's a WWII submarine-hunting story in space, one can debate how truly Trekky it is.

That's about my position, folks. What do you think?

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