Thursday, January 21, 2010

Art Direction: LotFP Weird Fantasy Role-Playing

I sent Laura specs for twenty pages worth of interior artwork last night. It's a lot, but with 5 booklets to be illustrated, there will be more. My use of other artists will depend on how quickly she starts turning in the ideas.

When coming up with some of the ideas, my sounding board (and GPS system, as I'm often reminded), aka the wife, said something in response to one of my ideas:

"I've seen that before. All these other things sound weird, but I know I've seen that one several times."

I tried to argue for it, for it was a "wizard in a laboratory" piece. My argument was that not all the art can be wicked strange and original - the game needed to establish the standards as well. Right?


And then it hit me. Yes, this will have all the elements to be an introductory product. But even if, somehow, someone who has never played RPGs before picks it up, chances are very high they've seen the standards. They have seen and can picture a wizard messing around in a laboratory filled with bubbling beakers and all sorts of alchemical things going on. They've seen a proud knight on a horse looking sharp.

But have they seen "Woman in a dress kneeling, crying, clutching with both hands and looking into the eyes of a severed (and still bleeding) head - and the head is spitting at her"? Things that will perhaps cause a bit of a shudder and hopefully - hopefully - a bit of trepidation about turning that next page in the same way I felt as a child with a copy of that wicked, frightening Monster Manual?

So the decision was made not to illustrate the text of the books (although there will be a bit of that, like pictures of the dice for the tutorial), but just to provide a great variety of inspirational and weird illustrations to get the reader in the right mood.

It won't be all horror though. This is another of the specs I have her (I did this several times, just quoting rather famous books with the hope Laura hasn't read the books nor pick up on the reference so she creates something original from the text and not referring to artwork that's already been done, to death, on these subjects):

Odd machines that look like this:

"A monstrous tripod, higher than many houses, striding over the young pine trees, and mashing them aside in its career; a walking engine of glittering metal, striding now across the heather; articulate ropes of steel dangling from it, and the clattering tumult of its passage mingling ith the riot of the thunder. A flash, and it came out vividly, heeling over one way with two feet in the air, to vanish and reappear almost instantly as it seemed, with the next flash, a hundred yards nearer. Can you imagine a milking stool tilted and bowled violently along the ground? That was the impression those instant flashes gave. But instead of a milking stool imagine it a great body of machinery on a tripod stand.

"Machine it was, with a ringing metallic pace, and long, flexible, glittering tentacles swinging and rattling about its strange body. It picked its road as it went striding along, and the brazen hood that surmounted it moved to and fro with the inevitable suggestion of a head looking about. Behind the main body was a huge mass of white metal like a gigantic fisherman's basket, and puffs of green smoke squirted out from the joints of the limbs as the monster swept by. "

"Boilers on stilts, I tell you, striding along like men"

"over 100 feet tall (>33 m)"

A few of these are walking over the countryside… and meeting a wizard who's got a staff and is going all "You shall not pass!" on them.


  1. Ah, more good news!

    I dislike art of PCs standing around. I much prefer art of weird monsters and of weird locales and of weird objects.

    I know and have seen HUNDREDS of pictures of elves, of warriors, of etc. I know what a freaking adventurer looks like, already! I want to see stuff I haven't seen before.

    So I'm very glad that "the decision was made not to illustrate the text of the books (although there will be a bit of that, like pictures of the dice for the tutorial), but just to provide a great variety of inspirational and weird illustrations..."

  2. Tripods. Love it. :)

  3. I personally favor art that goes with the text. And the alchemist in his lab drawing in AD&D is one of the best ever.

  4. I am fucking stoked that it sounds like HG Welles' Martian tripods are going to be part of the LOTFP implied setting!

  5. Now I understand why Mr. Raggi is so loved by the OSR.