[Archive] When creating an army list where do you look for background


After going over several new fan based army list ,including my own, one thing I’m finding that is important in creating a good army list is the racial/character background/lore. Even for a good experienced list developer a fully thought out background is important to developing a good army list and that background should be the foundation on which one builds an army list.

For all those that have or are making a chaos dwarf army list what reading material do you use for information and inspiration in developing a good background/lore ?

Thommy H:

Well, most of it comes from canon sources. Grim’s the exception to that rule, in that much of his background overhauls the canon, but I tend to write upon the assumption that anything in a GW publication is true (but maybe doesn’t tell the whole truth…) and go from there.

There’s also a lot to be said for taking inspiration from artwork and models too. When GW begin their design process, the art, models, background and rules all emerge together and they feed off each other. It’s useful to design your army list with what the figures would look like in mind, and how the book would look in terms of design.


I actually wrote an article on this for WoH a year ago, it was on my old computer that went down :frowning:

Basically I suggest the first thing you need to do is establish (as Thommy said) to what extent you will use the old stuff for reference.  Certain basic things I think everyone would agree on as canon (Hashut, industry, fire, greed, slaves etc).  Beyond this it’s up to you.  If you are only updating RH there is probably not a great need for anything too radical (though that would be interesting to see).

Next I suggest deciding on some absolute key themes or emotions you want to convey throughout.

It is easier for me to describe this part using the ones I picked:




There are lots of other ones you could pick; vengeance, torturing slaves for fun (sadism), hatred, ambition, survival, technological advancement (a dubious one for warhammer), religion (Hashut), empire building, prophesies.  Some examples.  The trick is to think about the wider implications, for instance with fear:

Do the CD fear something?  Why?  Can they stop fearing it?

Do the CD want things to fear them?  Why?  How is this done, on what scale and where?

Why is this theme important?  How does it pervade every level of what they do; their past, present and future?

If you pick some good ones it is a lot easier of course, but having over arching themes makes background stuff that bit more impressive as it ties everything together.  It also sets the tone for the actual composition of the list.

Basically I would pick a few of these and continually reinforce these in some form or another in every story and paragraph, possibly even in the bestiary section.

Next I suggest taking a very long time to think about the past,. the present and most importantly the future.

The CD origins story is not yet canon (imo), so there is plenty of room there for something novel.  You have to decide how the empire was built.  The future is the most important part of the fluff I think.  Here you set down what they are working towards as their overall ambition.  Every race has something like this.  The nature and scale of what you decide will obviously be important for the present (to show they are actually working towards it and not just sticking with the status quo).

Other things to consider are some basic society and trade bits.  Establish what a Chaos Dwarf is, what drives them on a daily basis.  The themes/ emotions you pick should all feature heavily here.  Also I would go through all the races they are likely to trade with, and of course a bit on their relationship with dwarfs.  A story on their first encountering each other is bound to be interesting, because of the different experiences and timelines they’ve had.

That’s probably enough to get you started :slight_smile:

As to what reading material to use, I would not actually read any of the lists of other people!  Back in the day I developed my fluff through months of discussion with like minded people.  Sometimes people will mention something in a few words that inspires you to write a 4 page story!  Reading what other people have done may be good for inspiration, but it may also cloud your own vision of what they should be.  It’s like seeing a film before reading the book.

I didn’t have any good advice on how to construct a decent background; setting the absolute themes etc.  Probably why my list took about 2 years to write…


So besides the stories in the one original army book are there any other published sources of background for chaos dwarfs ?

What I’m thinking of is develop first a full complete background. The entire  history , timeline of events , all the implications and interactions with the other races in that historical timeline , all that has to do with the god Hashut , the devlopments that occurred from all these things , and from all of that grow an army list.


for me i am going loosely on what i remember from the days of old… prolly one of the deeply engrained reasons why i really havent embraced the hobgobs and greenskins in my immediate thoughts to rebuild the might of the Dawi Zharr.

still trying to unearth the vintage tombs of knowledge before i totally succumb to the newer twisted teachings. There are bound to be reference materials out there… finding them on the other hand… for the most part i should have some of the original WhiteDwarfs which should shed some light on the ancient ecologies of the Dawi Zharr. Although the new version of fantasy has apparently rewritten more than just a few bits of fluff - for better or worse remains to be seen.

when i find the good stuff i have made a note to share… so thusly time will tell the tale to be told.