Art Styles in RPG’s

Tuesday, 14. December 2010

Art of HG Vol1 (DP9, S. Jackson Games)

As we look at any reference book for games, you see a continuous evolution of the rules, for better or for worse.  Along with this in most cases, is an evolution of art styles between one edition or another.   If you look further from one game to another, the styles are wildly divergent from intense black and whites, to anime, to themes that fight right into movies.  Does the art style of a particular game influence your style of play?

I think it definitely influences how consistently the game world is viewed from player to player.  Along with that, it sets a tone for the style of play within the game world itself.  This isn’t to say that it can’t be deviated from, but the set idea of the game comes from its artwork.  If it’s say, dark and gritty then it’s hard to get the mind out of the idea that the setting is in fact the same, even if it is in reality less serious.  Likewise if the art has a lighter feeling, it takes a little work to get into a darker mood.  White wolf and Heavy gear would probably be my 2 examples there, anime art always has a little bit of a cartoonish feel to me. 

Likewise, we can also look at art between editions.  D&D is the most obvious  in my case, so I’ll use that as an example.  It spans from the classical art in first and second edition, moving into a very Tolkien feeling in 3rd and 3.5, finally to a somewhat cartoon world of warcraft feeling in 4 and essentials.  I think this ties more into what the public acceptability of popular is.. but generally invokes the feeling of an epic fantasy from all of them.  The styling just dictates the flavor of epic fantasy.  I think the flavor in this case changes more from one setting to another.. looking at Greyhawk or Darksun or Ravenloft. It seems to me that affects my perception of the play style considerably more.

Does anyone else find there is something of an expectation based on the art styling?

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Why Pen and the Sword?

Tuesday, 26. October 2010

We all have heard the old adage “The pen is mightier than the sword.” This of course deserves some light examination if nothing else.

In a purely physical context this saying is of course nonsense. Bladed weapons have been the kings of the battlefield from thousands of years. The sword has longer reach, and is varies from lethal to extremely lethal in trained hands. It wouldn’t be a difficult task to simply kill the person using the pen and take it as plunder.

In a political sense the pen in skilled hands is capable of changing minds and hearts. In the longer game, it is capable of marshaling far more swords than the sword alone could by pure force. While tools act as a force multiplier, those who are able to consistently rebuild their armies to a stronger state win.  In a sense of knowledge, the pen is a large advancement in passing know how from generation to generation. It has brought the ease and availability of such information to many as a method of simplicity.  Likewise as is in art it is an easy expression of spirituality among many other things.   We could almost say the pen represents much of what came with a more modern society.

Somewhere along the line however it was decided that because of the Pens virtues the sword was no longer required by everyday people.  Violence became in instrument of evil, even if used as a shield.  Vigiliance was no longer required, it was something that could be provided by others.  Likewise was the sense of awareness and self protection; the odds of being victimized were low enough that those skills simply were no longer required.  Or was that simply an illusion?

The pen for all of its virtues is a poor instrument when one is besieged.  To those who speak the language of violence it is a relatively nonthreatening, sharp stick.  That language, the language of violence needs to be answered in kind in order to be understood.  The act itself need not be committed, but the vocabulary needs to be there.  The awareness and perception that goes with it needs to be there, along with the sense of preservation of self and those of others.

Those who though the sword was only capable of violence were sorely in error.  The sword represented far more than pure physical, temporal power. It is a sense of perception and alertness, the willingness to look and see trouble coming.  It is the awareness that evil comes to good people and the vigilance required to guard against it.  It is the urgency of action to defeat such evil when it is spotted.  The knowledge that without protection, all that the pen is capable of is for naught.

We need to retake the history of warrior poets, of warrior philosophers and of warrior artisans.  That little ember burns within all of us; some much brighter than others… but still it is there.  It needs to be fueled, kept hot, kept ready.  For if not, woe be to those that decides they need that fire but finds but cold ashes; useless in their time of need.

Thus we need both; Pen in one hand and the Sword in the other - As it should be, as it has been in the past.

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Raziel – Soulreaver

Saturday, 9. October 2010

Pedro has a great piece up today from the old Legacy of Kain series. Raziel as a Halloween project. Very neat, and more importantly from a time when vampires weren’t glittery!

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Gunsmith Cats

Saturday, 14. August 2010

Pedro has a fabulous piece up here from the old Gunsmith Cats anime. Excellently done piece as always. I agree with his general sentiments on the release of it. Older detective style, with lots of guns, old cars and villains. The only thing one might ask for is to have this standard of work on anime going forward.

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Norse Funeral

Sunday, 8. August 2010

If you haven’t looked at GoGo Pedro’s Blog anytime recently, I’d suggest doing so. He’s got a beautiful piece of artwork there similar to a Norse funeral.

Gets me thinking of the scene from the 13th Warrior (Or, Eaters of the Dead if you prefer the non-movie title.)  I think it would be neat to do a similar affair minus the burning of the wife with the deceased that is.

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Character Sketches

Friday, 28. May 2010

For some of us, it helps to have a visible picture of what we’re trying to look at.   Unfortunately, not all of us are particularly artistically inclined (myself included.)

Here is an interesting little resource thats been around for a while that allows you to put together template drawings in effort to flesh out what a character looks like.  It’s been around for quite some time now (I seem to recall the v1 edition being around at least 10 years ago.)

Your mileage may vary, but it’s another useful resource if you don’t have a pocket artist.

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