The Case Against More Fluff – …for Firestorm: Armada

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Apparently, I jumped into the pool of the Spartan Games community forums just in time to witness some sort of big upheaval with people all across the different boards piping up that just now would be a good time for Spartan Games to publish more background material, preferably in the form of books containing everything from expanded, more detailed setting information on the military and technology of the different factions, descriptions of locations, indepth future history, updates progressing the current timeline, new artwork, political analyses, typical city layouts for the various alien species, uniform plates, and and and.

Great stuff!

Or perhaps not?

Now, I like fluff. I also like detailed fluff. And I like, too, the specific fluff of Spartan’s Firestorm Galaxy. The background was certainly part of what drew me in, and not just into the actual game(s) but into their universe as well (complete with all that usually means for us here aside from playing – i.e., rampant campaign planning, tinkering, homebrewing, repurposing wargame rules for roleplaying, … not so much blogging, though, but that is obviously in the process of changing now).

So, more of that absolutely, positively has be great, right?

I am still not convinced of that. Here is why:

While I do like detailed fluff, the Firestorm Galaxy, specifically, did not impress me because it was so overly detailed – because, as all the people cited in the beginning will certainly agree, it is not.

Quite the contrary, it impressed me because it was little enough. Firestorm – for me – sits at that sweetspot, where there is enough information to have a strong, vivid impression of its setting while still retaining a huge amount of empty canvas for me to play around with on my own. It makes me want more without giving me more. Yet, at the same time, it also gives me enough to work with for filling in what to me are very conveniently shaped blanks.

I stress this so much, because Firestorm hits the balance almost perfectly as far as I am concerned. It is easy for a game to provide either too little or too much fluff, so that the creative spark never gets ignited, that driving need to create never manifests.

Firestorm as it stands is certainly robust enough to handle updates and additions to its fluff without immediately toppling that balance or it would already have lost it long ago. However, increasing the “density” of the fluff in a manner as described at the beginning (i.e., as suggested by some of my fellow gamers) will run a far greater risk of unsettling it – and that would be a real shame in my eyes.

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