N18 Are the House of Chains and House of Blades books worth getting for the lore?

Dec 17, 2019
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Manchester
As the title says. Now, I have all the Book of... books and find them useful for the in game rules but I also really like the lore in them. But, as a Delaque player I have no need for the current House books. So, my question is, is it worth spending £25 odd to but them just for the lore? What quality of lore is it? Did you guys enjoy it/find it insightful?
 

Jayward

Ganger
Aug 4, 2020
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275
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I did find House of Blades pretty good! Lots of interesting titbits from history, particularly on things like the chem alchemy and the Flesh Curse. It's got inconsistencies, though, and some of the more interesting things are completely glossed over... not sure if it's intentional vagueness or GW writing!

It was a decent read, but not an incredible one, so I'm not sure I'd pay £25 just for the lore... but overall I've not felt short changed by the book in the slightest. I suppose the thing to do would be to wait for the Delaque book next year (I think?) and decide whether to buy the others then.

That's just House of Blades, though. I heard House of Chains had very good fluff, so this could be a 'Your mileage may vary' situation
 

Pierric

Gang Champion
Jan 22, 2020
323
978
168
Berry, France
As far as I am concerned, I never intend to play with N17+ rules and I bought both HoC and HoB only for the new lore and the new characters or factions.

While the second point is interesting (ogryns, alliances, smugglers, etc.), I found the first point to be rather mediocre. HoB new lore is rather a boring read, very repetitive and bland. The chronology is a pain to read and just looks like someone had to fill out a certain number of pages.

What strikes me is the total lack of humour. I new a time when GW publications were filled with ironic offbeat humour, always marked by some kind of college boys pranks and hidden references to pop culture. Now these guys are taking their so called "grim dark" stuff and "creations" so freaking seriously that it appears to me borderline ridiculous (and especially ridiculously arrogant for a fantasy tabletop miniature publication, ie a book on how to play with plastic toys soldiers...).

To answer your questions, I was recently pondering about selling them at a bargain price and not buying the other books, so I guess it says it all.
 

Spiro Dotgeek

Oh look, it's coffee time
Tribe Council
Sep 8, 2020
14
15
33
Wellington, NZ
Don't you know @Pierric , wargames are serious business now. We have tournaments and everything. :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:

Yeah I miss the days when the books were fun too. And I'm a little surprised about HoB being boring, I would have expected they had plenty to work with. Perhaps that's on the writer rather than the fluff itself. Another new feature I've also noticed is that GW have stopped publishing the credits for who wrote what. Which tells me one of 2 things is happening. Either they were getting a lot of individual abuse on social media, or that the books are now written by committee. :LOL:
 

Scavvierising

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Don't you know @Pierric , wargames are serious business now. We have tournaments and everything. :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:

Yeah I miss the days when the books were fun too. And I'm a little surprised about HoB being boring, I would have expected they had plenty to work with. Perhaps that's on the writer rather than the fluff itself. Another new feature I've also noticed is that GW have stopped publishing the credits for who wrote what. Which tells me one of 2 things is happening. Either they were getting a lot of individual abuse on social media, or that the books are now written by committee. :LOL:
I believe the lack of credits for work is down to the Matt Ward effect.
 

Scavvierising

Undisputed Doom Spooner
Yak Comp 3rd Place
Honored Tribesman
Aug 3, 2016
763
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What is the "Matt Ward effect"?
Matt Ward wrote a lot of lore and rules. That much of the community hated to the point he was bombarded with hate mail and death threats. Even people unrelated people who happened to have the same name were getting abused on social media etc.

He wasn't the only one. Many codex writers were getting a lot of flakk for their work. Some books completely OP some useless in the competitive scene.

So it's generally assumed that is why credits got stopped for writing rulebooks and codices. Which then filtered down into art and design elements of the company.

The eople heading up the various games departments are known and some of the smaller games they make are a bit more open. Or people out themselves as responsible for whatever.

Of course this is just hear say I read on t'internet.
 
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Caledore

Ganger
Jun 2, 2015
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I can't speak to House of Blades, but House of Chains is chock full of interesting lore. Goliath were my least favorite gang in the original edition. I only ended up buying House of Chains because I had Goliath from the Underhive boxed set and figured I might as well make use of them. But with all the new lore I have a much greater appreciation for them. I'd say it's worth the cost for the lore if you're really into the background like I am.
 

JawRippa

Gang Hero
Mar 31, 2017
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I actually loved Goliath lore: they've managed to make space 'roids abusers an engaging gang to read about. I especially loved the struggle and conclusion of goliaths being accepted as a fully operational house.
However:
What strikes me is the total lack of humour
Pierric nails it. Necromunda is supposed to be over the top and whacky, yet there is very little humour in House of.. books.

Another problem is that these books fill in too much descriptive lore. Very little is left uncovered, so it makes it harder to make up your own fluff about your gang.
 

Petitioner's City

Gang Hero
Nov 15, 2017
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Sorry @JawRippa and @Pierric and others, but I have some frustrations with what you say here, about the limitations of lore and on humour.

I find the idea that more descriptive lore means it is harder to create your own story bizarre.

I am a historian, if I want to tell a story in a period, a story that is true to a given period, setting, culture, then I need to know more and more, ie I need to research and try to capture what is sometimes terms the "period eye". What separates a good historical piece of fiction from a poor one, or a good role play (as ultimately fiction is), or even a good piece of historiogrpahic writing (like a source book) is often the kind of specificity that makes a world feel real - off-hand allusions and reference to unexplained historical figures, literature, work cultures, industries, a detailed understanding of geography, a strong sense of economics, of food, of drink, of medicine, of languages, of tools, of religion, of popular culture and so on - everything we take for granted in being able to tell a story about our cultural moment - isn't there in sci-fi, in historical literature, in fantasy and so on. It needs strong worldbuilding to in any way catch some of what we have in our contemporary epoch.

So when I want to tell a good story in an IP that isn't just (for example) Dragonheart, but which tries to emulate that versimilitude and contemporaneous depth of something like say Wolf Hall, then I want to and need to know more. Knowing about a period, a place , a setting more and more is at the heart of telling a good, not a bland or generic story. Heck why do RPG source books matter - they don't limit options, they give you more and more tools to really live-in a character or narrative as players and/or a games master. Why do some of the best fantasy and sci-fi writers or works have excellent rigorous worldbuilding in which you are then situated?

So when people keep saying more lore limits or ruins Necromunda I just find that so very very counter-intuitive, as instead it gives you more tools in which to really situate something grounded - it also doesn't ever say or limit you, it just gives you more and more ideas from which to stick to or (more excitingly) deviate. But knowing broader conventions, more varied information about X, y, z, and a number of other things, how does that stop you telling a good story?

@Pierric and @JawRippa, also on humour in modernmunda, you know you guys and gals often seem to take ironic or entirely farcical ideas and really criticise them (the navis Mortis, space ship primus, etc) as though they are meant to be 100% serious. These are examples of farce - wonderful eccentricities meant as jokes! In addition, we also have typical 40k dark humour spread throughout the books - the Escher protagonists of Dark Uprising who reappear in House of Blades having survived Arcos, only to be immediately tended over to the Imperial House for execution/suppression by the Escher leadership rather than treated as the heroes for surviving they really might have been.

Let's also think about the characters in modernmunda; Grub Targeson is a rather humourous figure as are many other hired guns (Two Guns Clean, Vunder Gorvos, Rex Spires, and so on).

And finally those timelines, so very much a kind of "Monty Python meets cyberpunk/steampunk" sensibility. They really are full of little pieces of dark or farcical humour.

Modernmunda is infused with humour, just as oldmunda was. And oldmunda could be just as depressing and serious as modernmunda.
 

Pierric

Gang Champion
Jan 22, 2020
323
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Berry, France
Hello PC,

I don't know for @JawRippa, but as far as I am concerned, my main critics doesn't really stand where you have understood them. My apologies if I was unclear.

You are an historian, I am a fiction writer. Having read House of Chains, House of Blades (or even Soulless Fury) recently, I am quite disappointed and actually concerned by what I identify as a huge decrease in the creative dimension of the GW publications (at least for of the Necromunda lore). Soulless Fury is crap (ie. my review) and as an editor, I wouldn't have validated such a poor writing effort. I know some XXX adult rated stories that are better written than that.

Regarding the House supplements (and not talking about the rules sections, which I'm not interested in) they are like alcohol free beer. It looks like beer, it smells like beer, it sparkles like beer but it ain't no beer, and far from being as good as beer.

Just compare The Lost & the Damned and House of Blades, and now you can cry.There was a time when players would buy rulebooks they didn't even play, like Warhammer RPG or Warhammer FB supplements, just because they were a great read, packed with crazy stuff, fun stuff and a lot of illustrations. Now the content of the books is as grey as their template and despite being a Necromunda fan and player, I couldn't get any pleasure reading those publications. It was like a chore to me.

It's not a matter of how to expand the universe, to which level of details, or that it does reduce (or not) the player own expanding abilities. It is a matter of an appaling lack of talent, creativity and fun. It is boring and soulless. It looks like the work of a mediocre state official writing some dull reports. Lore for the sake of filling blank pages, by people who maybe should reconsider their career orientation.

Adding lore doesn't make any sense if you don't have the tail of the shadow of the beginning of a new idea. Those books are absolutely deprived of guts, craziness and fun. It's not grim dark, it's dull blank. Yawn.

And I don't see where you can find any humour in these, and the example you give just make me wonder how can anyone find that funny. We clearly don't have the same definition of the phrase "having fun". But I'll say that is secondary. The main issue being the writing substandard. But maybe the younger generation find it great because this is the new norm in a lot of our everyday life nowadays...?
 

Petitioner's City

Gang Hero
Nov 15, 2017
914
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133
Edinburgh, UK
I do disagree, Pierric, but appreciate the long response. And I think you are a tad hyperbolic ("an appalling lack of talent, creativity and fun", "if you don't have the tail of the shadow of the beginning of a new idea", etc)

I haven't read Soulless Fury, but find it ironic as Will McDermot is a classic necromunda writer whose body of work was focused on Kal (and of course Mad Donna too is classic munda).

Anyway, I'd suggest looking at the other modern books - Sinner's Bounty, Wanted Dead,Terminal Overkill, Road to Redemption, Spark of Revolution, etc., which are well written by well-published genre authors. I haven't found them bland (and Terminal Overkill is among my favourite books BL have published in recent years, a modern update to Andy Chambers' underhive travelogue that featured Mad Donna, but with a new protagonist and much better prose).

I do wonder if we have different perceptions of the 90s - and different perspectives of original Munda. It wasn't a madcap hyper-humoured thing, either, it was dark and depressing at times (all those Lothar Hex shorts in the main book, for example) but it could be a bit silly too, with room across that spectrum, much like its modern iteration, which ranges from "Lumpy Nox" and "Rex Spires" to the percussive bloody beats of the fall of Arcos or impoverished ex-slaves living in terrified awe of a giant spider's brutal wyrd protégé.

Equally a lot of the writing from oldmunda also wasn't perfect, be it in the comics, short stories or novels produced by black library in the late 90s or early aughts (I do find the redeemer comic to be quite bad, for example, despite the character's popularity), or in Gang War, the magazine or the journal. It was clearly a product drawing on many people's idea of fun, but also dystopia.

Anyway, i'd suggest spending time on the social media of GW staff today and seeing equally that sense of delight in narrative and hobby as existed two decades ago.

And, as I said, in the books you find "dull blank" I find instead something deeply exciting and door-opening, revitalising quite flat concepts with a real sense of society; that's ok we see different things, these are our different opinions.

But even on dull reads, you as a writer, you want to tell that story set in 1930s Shanghai or 1750s Cotswolds or 1340 Trieste, you probably would have to read a lot of dull texts in which to then really write that environment well. Tis the nature of research for any story, right?
 
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Pierric

Gang Champion
Jan 22, 2020
323
978
168
Berry, France
I do disagree, Pierric

The contrary would have surprised me.

And I think you are a tad hyperbolic

Unfortunately, no, I am not. I am in fact doing my best to stay polite. Soulless Fury is that bad that it would be legitimate to ask for a refund. I sincerely hope this was a underpaid rushed job, thus explaining the lack of depth, the cardboard-like characters, the repetitive situations and the overall missed opportunity that this boring non-story represents.

Compared to Status Deadzone, which I also read recently (and for which you cannot suspect some kind of nostalgia bias), there is no need for a photo-finish. Some novels were not that great but the overall quality is way, way, over Soulless Fury, the well named. Just from an editorial point of view, the lowering of expectations is stunning. I am not juts being mean, if that's what you imply. I still remember some Status Deadzone stories for their characters or very specific atmospheres, while SF is really badly written and hollow. It sounds empty and the reader is just wasting his time. The "story" is already forgotten 2 hours later. Fast food writing.


Anyway, i'd suggest spending time on the social media of GW staff

I'm not sure what that means. Do you ask me to go on the GW's FB/Instagram page or something like that ? I'm sorry, but I'm 46. I've got no time nor interest for these nonsensical display of narcissic immature projections that people call "social media". And especially when they are used as commercials in disguise for corporate propaganda. What I like is places like here, hobby related discussion forums, where long posts by passionate people doing it on their free time - and not on their salary time - are welcomed, promoting ideas not an alien concept and debating contradictory ideas like you and I are currently doing not a dirty word. So thank you for this invitation, but I won't.


But even on dull reads, you as a writer, you want to tell that story set in (...), you probably would have to read a lot of dull texts in which to then really write that environment well. Tis the nature of research for any story, right?

It sure is. But you lost me. What's your point ? The job of the writer is precisely to ingest all of this dull and eventually boring research phase and broadcast it into a tense and captivating story for the reader.

Reading a supplement for your beloved faction of one of your favorite tabletop game should be a fun experience, something you anticipate with pleasure and which you plan for a nice evening, and certainly not an headache giving chore you must do just to stay competitive during the next campaign. Back in the 90's, I liked to cruise the Warhammer army books just for the sheer pleasure to see the painted miniatures, the terrain, the illustrations. House books are lacking all of these and I find it quite a shame for a miniature company to put out a mere 5 pages of painted miniatures in a new 150 pages codex. They don't even care to provide proper illustrations for new characters. All of this smells of rushed jobs, low budget and bad project driving. At some time, when you are deep into a maximize benefits and reduce costs approach, you reach a point of hubris, where you loose the sense of the reality of the market and the true quality of your product. To me, we are already way past this point with the new Necromunda game.

The main difference between a great fiction novel writer and a mediocre hired laborer is : the first one make you plunge into a imaginary/historical setting and have you learn a lot about living in that setting without even noticing it, while the untalented one just bores you to death with pages and pages of technical details or descriptions, simply putting out what he just read during his researches.

So maybe that's my finally my whole point : what if the studio writers were just in need of some talent or creativity ? If not that gifted, they at least could compensate with some pranks and jokes, but it also looks like they're not allowed for it anymore. So, here we are with the grim reality and dark hours of a once-fun-hobby-that's-not-so-fun-anymore.
 

JawRippa

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Mar 31, 2017
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@Petitioner's City
The problem with too much lore description is that it leaves too many questions answered and too little dark corners for your imagination to run wild. For example the fact that goliaths are so heavily dependant on escher stimm supply makes goliaths gangs who are not directly obeying their leaders less believable. A perfect example of when lore goes too far with overexplanation is reveal of midicloreans from Star Wars. It takes away the mystery and makes force sound more lame.

As for the humour, Gangs of the Underhive had some, but not too much. "House of .." books have a common problem, they treat themselves too seriously in my opinion.
However, as I've said earlier, I've enjoyed House of Chains lore, maybe because I'm a huge Goliath fan.
 

Petitioner's City

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Nov 15, 2017
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@Pierric I think we both know we won't get anywhere, so let's agree to disagree :)

@Petitioner's City
The problem with too much lore description is that it leaves too many questions answered and too little dark corners for your imagination to run wild. For example the fact that goliaths are so heavily dependant on escher stimm supply makes goliaths gangs who are not directly obeying their leaders less believable.

Except the book also very much suggests the illegal trade in chems, and indeed provides the "in-game" explanation of this through the drug dealer hanger-on (I view the in-game mechanics being a tool to really represent the world-building behind the game). Anyway, just because something is inferred as a norm, doesn't mean it is the only norm (esp when the text shows it is not the only norm) :)

I think it's especially worth remembering the global scale (compared to earth) of even one hive or one clan - there will be more of each clan house members than there are people one earth today.

Today, we have about forty pages of loretext for each house, where once we had really only a paragraph of lore text in 1995 (alongside botj old and new novels, which did and do a lot of legwork to fleshout the lore text in the rulebooks). That small page count (one paragraph or forty pages) in no way really can present a "real society", as all the books in history will never be able to fully explain even a single real world culture (despite our attempts to try). But in those forty pages, I feel that the writing team (Owen Barnes, Andy Hoare, etc) have really made an to suggest a wide range of alternatives to the "clan norms" we as players seems to fetishize. The better novels go further (as a Goliath fan, I really recommend the new Spark of Revolution for continuing to expand the envelope). I feel the books very much encourage you to go off-piste; In part because I think they are conscious that the "piste" we have now is still so very small but presents to readers that goliaths, for example, aren't just "a", but can be anything you want.

As for the humour, Gangs of the Underhive had some, but not too much. "House of .." books have a common problem, they treat themselves too seriously in my opinion.
However, as I've said earlier, I've enjoyed House of Chains lore, maybe because I'm a huge Goliath fan.

I don't know, I've found each house book to have good humour - sometimes quite dark, but sometimes just wonderful typical rediculousness (the timeline in each book, and the quotes dotted through the books, being principal contenders). But I'd agree, these books need more variation of text type within them - stories alongside those excellent quote boxes, just making that world more real.

However, we do have a broadly very good novel line (even if Soulless Fury is as weak as Pierric says) - and a fair amount of smiles to be found in the anthologies and other novels :) heck we are even lucky enough to have a Josh Reynolds necromunda novel!
 

Pierric

Gang Champion
Jan 22, 2020
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Berry, France
@Pierric I think we both know we won't get anywhere, so let's agree to disagree.

Hello PC. Sure. Always nice to meet some discrepant opinions and ways of thinking. Your commitment to Andy Hoare is quite impressive. The way you are constantly refering to him through several threads puzzled me, and I first thought he was your boss or your boyfriend (or you were his mother...🙃). Now I see that my personal time machine got stuck around 2002 as far as Necromunda is concerned. So you didn't convince me on the quality of the new game, but at least I realized I should stick to positive ways of spending my time, ie. modelling old metal miniatures based on the Necromunda I like, and not get sad or bother myself with the new game, because I really don't care and I like to be itchy but I don't want to be rude with people who enjoy the new game, and have all rights to do so.

Have a nice week-end.
 
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Samsonov

Juve
Apr 1, 2013
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I have some thoughts upon the desirability of having a lot of detail in the background. I think there are advantages, giving you a lot of things to research, but at the same time I think it needs be quite a open ended. This is very much like historical research (and I write this as a semi-professional historian). Take for example the psychology of major historical figures. Stalin's policies lead to the unjust deaths and imprisonment of millions. However, historians can endlessly debate why he took that course. Was he just a self serving evil person with full understanding of the harm he caused, did he lie to himself about the suffering he caused, did he have an elaborate logic which explicitly outlined why he felt the suffering was justified, was he primarily driven by unconscious urges (such as paranoia) which he had only limited awareness of, did he regret the suffering but felt he was compelled to by the circumstances (need to strengthen Russia against perceived enemies), etc? Might more than one of these been true and might which is true have changed over time?

As a second example, what would have happened if the Germans had invaded Russia in 1941 two months earlier? Possible answers include an easy German victory, making no difference or an earlier invasion being literally impossible due to weather or the impossibility of getting the troops in place on time.

Anyway, I feel that good world building needs find a balance between giving enough detail whilst still leaving much room for speculation. As it happens, the last Necromunda book I bought was Outlanders, so I would be interested to know what the newer stuff is like.
 
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