I love a good monster. I loved them growing up and I still do now.
Around the time I got into wargaming with Warhammer my twin brother and I had lego wars. I made creatures out of legos that were about the size of the human minifigures. I called them hoppers.
At first, hoppers only had a set of legs and a two by two head. They were simple, but as I added more of them to my collection they became more complex. I named many of them. And they waged war on my twin brother’s mostly human forces at the command of their own human creators.
Savage. Brutal. Hoppers could be killed any number of times, but no matter how badly their body was broken they would return to the field eventually. The rationale I devised was at first, simply regenerative abilities. But eventually it was clear hoppers were held together by something stronger than plastic or bone. Their own creative spirits allowed them to rebuild from destruction. Thus, as the human soldiers on their side gradually faded into the background and hoppers continued to multiply, they became the only warriors employed by their masters.
Hoppers bore the names of mythological or cultural figures. Arturas was the greatest of the first generation, and therefore the first to command hoppers after their human overlords.
They were among my first introductions to storytelling through wargames, especially when disaster struck.
Having read some second edition Warhammer 40,000 army books, I decided the trays that I carried the hoppers around the house on were their battle barges, in my case great flat-topped ships which bore the hoppers through space at faster than light speeds to bridge the gaps between stars.
The two of these great barges were the rectangular Excalibur, crewed entirely by hoppers and captained by the hopper Arturas, and the circular Spinner. The Spinner was crewed by hoppers but captained by the supreme human commander of the nation, Spytar, with the volcanic hopper, Cindercone, directly under his command.
One day, I dropped the Spinner and it fell down the stairs leading into the basement. The entire barge, mighty in myths, was destroyed, and the ruler of Spytar lost. Naturally this boded poorly for the nation. With their leader gone, the nation began to crumble. The only one to survive the disaster intact was Cindercone, who joined Arturas as his second in command on board the Excalibur.
Soon, the hoppers under Arturas rebelled as they realized the mortality of humans, even those they fought alongside.
But that’s a story for another time.
Stories that form mythology the way my childhood games did, excite me. There are many ways to build them, from intentionality to improvisation. I do hope to get back to that innocent combination of the two that comes from a lack of understanding, but combine with a knowledge of what works best.
Happy Sunday! Have a good day everyone!