As you may have noticed, there have been a series of announcements recently flagging up the most recent set of the Winds of War. These are effectively “news from the front”, information on the current military campaigns of the Empire, and indeed of our opponents…
Before the first event of the year will also come out the Winds of Fortune. These are similar vignettes and scenes on the non-military stuff: Politics, diplomacy, religeon, Eternals, trade, and so on.
Now, you don’t have to read any of these (I’d reccomend them though, they’re usually pretty good), but they can be useful in fleshing out a character, giving you a conversation starter, or providing something to help you get started in the game.
Examples using just the Winds of War out now:
Ellie is playing a corsair in the Brass Coast. With the WoW “The Turning Tide” and “Dry Grass Singing”, she decides that her corsair was on the Great Dubhtraig raid, and has many stories to tell and riches gathered from there… but has returned to find her town inundated with refugees from the invasion by the Lasambrian/Jotun orcs into Segura… And has had no news of the other campaigns. So she starts play able to swap stories of great events, wanting to discuss what to do about Segura, and already involved in the ongoing story.
Joe is playing an archer in Varushka. Having decided to have a military unit of soldiers as his personal resource, he decides that he’s been on campaign with the Golden Axe in the Ossium campaign. Reading the WoW “Stirring dull roots with spring rain”, he likes the concept of the Summer soldiers who marched with them, particularly the skinny ones with heads of eagles who acted like scouts. So he can make up stories of his adventures and battles alongside his eagle-headed faerie comrades, battling traps and spider monsters in the disease ridden mud-choked forests of the Druj lands… Joe starts play with stories to tell, questions about where these guys came from, and probably a vested interest in what happens with the rest of that campaign.
A word of caution though. While these can be great for weaving more backstory for your characters, you shouldn’t really claim too great a part in it. A Dawnish character could certainly say “I was in the Dubhtraig raid” (and they will, loudly). They could even reasonably claim that they were in the force who stormed the palace of Salt Lady Suriad… but stating that they were the one who killed her in an epic battle lit by the burning city atop the battlements… is going a bit far (especially as in that case, her death is a rumour).
The backstory of your character, and participation in these and other Winds, should be a starting point to launch you into the game. The great and impressive deeds you accomplish as your character (if you so wish), should happen “on-stage”, during the game itself, not in the prologue.
The Winds swirl around you. Catch them, ignore them, run with them as you will. And follow them, into the story. Into your story…