30 November 2014

Character card - take 2 (and 3)

The great thing about sharing my nearly-ready "art" with you lot is that I get really useful and rapid feedback, both here and on the FB page I've set up for Knights' Quest, and so here are a couple of what I hope you will think are improvements. Firstly, I've taken DonsSword's advice and replaced the pentagon with a hexagon - good call! A definite improvement in old-school cool. Second, JB (he of the missing ass) suggested that more contrast was needed between the parchment and the border, so I've tried one with simply a wider border, and one with a black bleed fill to the edge of the card.

Which do you prefer?

Card A:

Card B:

Pop your preference in the comment section below, if you'd be so kind.


Character card

A whole week since posting? Madness! Well, that's working in a school for you...

Still, I got a chance to finish a version of the Character Cards for Knight's Quest that I'm please with. Character name at the top and Combat Track down the right hand edge both remain the same. I've removed the descriptive text to allow a larger character image, removed the Maximum label above the top dice circle, changed the coin image surrounding the character value to a hand sketched version, and put the movement value into a pentagon (I like the shape!) so that I could remove the "Move" label and still differentiate it from the combat track. I have had an idea about representing it with a spoked wheel, with the number of shaded spoke sections representing the move allowance, but that might be (a) difficult, and (b) not immediately obvious to read. It's scaled to print out at the same size as CCG cards (Magic: The Gathering and so forth) and I snapped up a set of 100 card protectors for £1.20 delivered to give it the full prototype treatment.

23 November 2014

Her Majesty's Airship "Ennaychess Vombowl"

Sometimes, just sometimes, one of my boys gets a homework that I really want to get involved in. This week the elder lad had to invent a new form of transport, draw it and then go to town using adjectives and similes to describe it. So far, so educational. However, the chip off the old block wasn't content with a picture, oh no, he wanted to build it. The invention? A flying boat!

22 November 2014

Schroedinger's miniatures

When a parcel arrived at work at the end of a long and trying week, there was joy. Joy that my ebay bargain was with me, and I could savour the satisfaction of the hunter after bringing down his prey. Wallow in the nostalgia-laden fantasy world to which the figures belonged. Imagine the future glorious victories and ignominious defeats the figures would be part of. Practise the modest smile that would be needed when my sudden and unexpected transcendence into Golden Demon winner would draw every eye at a future BOYL to the paintjob that would grace the figures inside the parcel.

The figures inside.

And all of a sudden, the world of collecting little lead monsters for pretendy-fun-time elf-games collides with theoretical quantum mechanics. Either the miniatures inside the parcel were as pristine as described, having been carefully wrapped and well-packaged. Or they were recasts. Or chucked in together and scrunched up in a single sheet of loo roll. Or their weapons were all snapped. Or or or.... Thanks to Schroedinger, I knew they were BOTH perfect, AND ruined - AT THE SAME TIME! The only way to make the universe collapse into a single reality was to open the parcel.

19 November 2014

Manuscript theme take 2 - now with removed colour!

First of all, thank you to everyone who took the time to give such positive and constructive feedback on my last post about art. A combination of stylistic commentary, practical "which button to press" guidance, and a little while fiddling around with the graphics tablet I've borrowed from work means I have an updated coloured version, now with 50% less colour. Less is more and all that...

16 November 2014

Manuscript theme

From my own experience, and from reading around places like BoardGame Geek, one of the charges levelled against less highly-regarded games is that they don't implement their theme consistently. Whether it's modern slang in a game about the Ancient Greeks, or art nouveau illustrations in a game set in the Napoleonic era, these things break the immersion and therefore reduce the enjoyability of the whole gaming experience.

Blueholme looks like a great set of rules, btw, have a look at their G+ pages

13 November 2014

Stuff from the Interwebz #4 - Ravensrodd

Not much hobby output from myself at the moment - a combination of heavy workload and putting my time into whipping Knights' Quest into shape - so I'm handing over this post to promoting the sort of thing I'd be doing if I could sculpt; a slightly fantastical C14th England, complete with the sort of monsters found in the margins of medieval manuscripts. Sound familiar? Yup, it has exactly the vibe I'm going for in Knights' Quest and I can see these figures being perfect for it, as well as for the skirmish game that Michael Lovejoy (the sculptor - I think he's half of the team behind Oathsworn Miniatures) is working on.

Some of the greens:

11 November 2014

Lest we forget

On Sunday I was part of our town's memorial service which was very well attended by all ages, creeds, and colours. It was dignified, thoughtful and moving. Three-quarters of an hour ago, as happens every year, a minute's silence was observed by students and staff at my school to mark the striking of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It, too, was pleasingly dignified and moving. It felt right to be part of those acts of memorial for those who have given their lives, or had them taken from them, as a result of war. I paid my respects but it made me consider how to truly honour their memory.

A couple of weeks back I went into London with my family to see "Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red", otherwise known as the Tower Poppies. Two of them will be sent to us when it is dismantled.

My photo - there are thousands online that might capture it better

I found the scale of it staggering, as was the level of public response, but it did draw criticism from some quarters of the art world as being fake and trite because the beauty of the poppies was at odds with the experience of the soldiers (I always thought that was an importantly jarring effect) and it only considers British military deaths (one poppy per British military fatality). Although I accept the point regarding who it represents, I don't think it inappropriate given this is the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1. I also hold strongly to the idea that the value of art can be in part measured by its impact, and that has been extraordinary. So I disagree.

And yet.

And yet, I think it is right to question the way in which we commemorate the horrors of war that our forebears experienced, and far too many around the world today are still subject to. Commemorations are as old as recorded warfare itself, often as grandiose imperial monuments (I'm looking at you, Egyptians and Romans), but not always. The inscribed slab near Thermopylae (a 1955 replacement for a lost and damaged ancient original) has a famous epitaph for the fabled 300 Spartans who perished defending their homeland from the invading Persians. As with the Tower poppies, this monument does not refer to the others who died, were wounded, or suffered in other ways (allies, foes, non-combatants, women, or children), but it still has power for me:

Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here, according to their laws, we lie

A permanent reminder, in the form of such a memorial, is an important first step. A literal memento mori, a Lest we Forget in stone or metal. But it is only a first step. The truest honouring of the fallen is a far more difficult monument to build, indeed it requires every one of us to continually participate in its construction. What is it?


6 November 2014

A matter of dice

In which I blether about dice for four paragraphs, and finally get round to the point - some aspects of design philosophy for Knights' Quest, specifically the Combat Dice Track.

4 November 2014

The Search Party

The Search Party

As he is wont to do, the king's aged and incomparably wise advisor has headed off into the forests to collect herbs for his healing potions. That was six days ago, two days longer than ever before but the worry only started when his pony trotted back into the royal stables, riderless and uncharacteristically skittish. To allay the king's fears, out of gratitude for his past acts of healing, and with the faint chance of some chivalric deed to accomplish, two knights claimed the right to search for him...

3 November 2014

A rainy day at Rabbington Towers

Back in July I shared a post from The Crooked Staff blog which concerned the creation of simple, effective and good-looking trees for afforesting a wargaming table. I had expected there to be a rainy, low-energy sort of day during the summer hols, but the weather was fine and we kept being invited to stay with non-gaming folks in beautiful parts of this green and pleasant land.

Fast forward to half term (i.e. now last Wednesday) - you can even do the wibbly-wobbly Scooby Doo sound effects at this point if you wish - and we have rain, children who want to do something but are too tired to game, and I have some carefully hoarded bits and bobs. Time to get making trees!