Ten Links in the Chain: Food for Thought (5-APR-2013)

Greetings friends!

I won’t go into another long whiny rant about why I haven’t been posting lately. Instead we’ll just dive into some of the links I’ve gathered over the last month or so that have made me think in some way “I wonder how I could adapt that to gaming?” It’s been a while since I’ve posted a “Food for Thought” edition and I think it’s about time, don’t you?

1. Conceptual Art

hansel-witchesI don’t know if you caught the Jeremy Renner/Gemma Arterton flick Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters when it came out back in January, but I did. Going in with exceedingly low expectations I really enjoyed the flick from beginning to end. And some of the witches they designed for our heroes to take down were fantastic! Character designer Ulrich Zeidler did an amazing job pulling together some very different individuals that were seen at various points in the story. Meredith Woerner @ io9 pulled them together and perhaps they’ll inspire you to create some great new female villains for your campaigns…

And if witches aren’t your thing, how about alien aristocrats? Artist Christian Rex van Minnen has a very unique and twisted style that will either disturb you or
excite you, but either way it’s probably going to shake something use. (Hopefully not your last meal! Eww!) Lauren Davis @ io9 pulled several of them together in an article last month and all I could think of was “wow… I wonder what that character’s story is?”

2. Putting the Cartography…

You all know I can’t have one of these links posts without a few maps, right?

Over at A Fantasy Reader, they pulled together a crazy list of maps from fantasy fiction. Everything from Joe Ambercrombie to Ted Williams is represented and there are many artists with different worlds to choose from. Perhaps you’ll find some inspiration for your next map here!

Or maybe you’d prefer a bit more of a comic book flair? Trey @ From the Sorcerer’s Skull found two back in February – one from the Micronauts and the other from Ka-Zar‘s Savage Land (don’t know where it came from). Cool art with some interesting twists to exploit. 🙂

3. … Before the Horse

But if you like admiring great art on one particular topic at a time, I recommend you check out the “Picturing…” series of posts over at Tor.com by Irene Gallo. She’s done everything from seasons to dinosaurs, archers, and tons more. One I really liked was of horses… Gorgeous art from many different great artists both new and old!

4. Space… The Final Frontier

Then there’s the fascination many of us have with pictures from space. As the tools have improved, so have the images we get from them as these links prove…

Saturn-StormSaturn has always been among my favorite planets (along with Jupiter and Mars) because of those gorgeous rings. But the Cassini probe showed us earlier this year that it has just as much going on in the atmosphere as Jupiter does at times. Can you imagine a single storm wrapping around an entire planet and lasting more than 200 days? That’s exactly what they found… Ian Chant @ GeeokOSystem reported the story.

And sometimes an artist will take something that exists already, like a geographic or astronomical map, and be inspired to turn it into a piece of actual art that incorporates parts of the map into the image. These images by Ed Fairburn @ Colossal are phenomenal. Apparently some of his work is available as fine art prints!

If you’re waiting for some astronomical cataclysm, apparently October 2014 might be a rough month for Mars. There’s a chance it might get hit by a comet! As I read the article by Ron Miller @ io9 I was wondering how such an event would possibly change our solar system. Perhaps it wouldn’t… Or perhaps it will be like Ceti Alpha V and VI in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, destroying the ecosystem of a nearby planet? Hmmm. I’m not ready to put those strange desert worms into my helmet just yet…

But what would we do if an asteroid or comet hit the earth? I’d hope we’d adapt just like this artist’s rendering of how a city might adapt the crater of such an event to create a whole city… Gorgeous art (in a post from Lauren Davis @ io9).

5. Curse  Like a Browncoat…

Firefly was a great show that was canceled far too soon. We all know this. And that’s why we’re still talking about it today!

One of the parts I loved was the use of integrated languages like Chinese, which they used frequently to swear in. James Daniels @ Topless Robot pulled together a list of 15 of the best Chinese curses a few years ago and I think I’m going to start practicing them. 🙂

6. Posters, Fonts, and Decals

Ambush-KrakenArt is an intrinsic part of RPGs for me. Whether it’s the art in the books you use to learn the game or the art you use to set the scene or even the pictures in your head, there’s art in gaming. And one of the fun parts about it is that it doesn’t have to be amazingly detailed to be useful. Some of these very minimalist designs by DKNG could inspire you to do something different with the way you present kingdom information to your players, or finding the right font using one of these posters here or here may give you just that bit of style you need.

But if you’re looking for a way to decorate your game room, these decals suggested by Andrew @ Geek Native are very cool. Release the Kraken!!

7. Sketching and Artistic Inspirations

Do you sometimes hop over to DeviantArt and peruse the amazing artistic ability? There’s shocking, beautiful, and horrific pieces all rolled up into one place. But that’s not the only place to look. 🙂

Andy Sowards site collected more than 100 different sources of sketchbook art in one place – with some amazing results. It’s not all fantasy or science fiction, but sometimes doodles are a great release and can inspire us in unexpected ways.

sketchbook-tank-artThen there’s the collection of battle scene art pulled together by Bono @ NinjaCrunch. If this doesn’t inspire more than a few battles in your campaigns I don’t know what will!

And Mike Perry went through a series of sketches exploring what a Trollkin may look like for Kobold Press. Very interesting seeing the transition from rough to more finished pieces as things developed through the conversation. I wonder what sorts of transformations other monsters have gone through over the years?

If you need a summoning circle for something, Propnomicon has pulled together a collection of variants from Clint Warlick. Perfect for adding the finishing touches to an old scroll or map.

But we all know we should probably broaden our horizons and explore some of the artistic world ourselves. I don’t have a ton of artistic talent and am always struggling to make the images in my head get to paper intact. So videos like this one pointed to by Melanie Pinola @ Lifehacker help to make me get in touch with that creative element in different ways…

8. Life, History and Nature Offer Infinite Inspiration

Like earlier talking about some of the cool images from space to inspire us, nature often presents us with beauty in an infinite variety of ways.

Whether it’s nature reclaiming what civilization has done, as in these photos at Francesco Mugnai’s site. Or a bizarre fungus creating antlers on a trantula (in an article from Lauren Davis @ io9).

Maybe history’s more your inspiration?
Archaeology is always discovering new things to make us reconsider the past… Like the fact that maybe we knew more than we thought about biology during the Dark Ages (Jeff LaSala @ GeekOSystem). Or the fact that camels once roamed the arctic lands of Canada before they were subzero (Fox News).

Or maybe it’s discoveries like the grave of a medieval knight (BBC News) looks like something out of an Indiana Jones movie or that they may have found the actual cave known as “Pluto’s Gate” thought to be a doorway to hell in Greco-Roman times (Billy Hallowell @ The Blaze). I can think of all sorts of fun adventure hooks for that one!

But sometimes it takes a Lovecraftian horror to really show where science surprises us… Annalee Newitz @ io9 reported recently that they found a Cthulhu-like arthropod that lived along the ocean floor half a billion years ago. This thing is seriously creepy… And cool. How long before it turns into a nightmare in a campaign?

9. The Games We Play

We’ve been playing games for thousands of years. I’m sure it’s a survival mechanism. 🙂 But I’m always interested to see when science gets into the act to explain why we play.

Glen Tickle @ GeekOSystem pointed out a great video from Vsauce that explains a bit what separates games from other types of entertainment. I wish they used a non-soccer analogy, but hey… I can’t have everything!

Jane McGonigal is a game designer who made a game to help her recover faster from a severe concussion… And it works! What’s more exciting is the number of people who have adapted it for their own lives and are seeing great results. Great TED Talk video.

And now there’s even a Boy Scouts of America badge for game design. Can you believe it? They’ll be dragged kicking and screaming into a modern world whether they want to or not. 🙂 (via article from Jeff LaSala @ GeekOSystem)

Do you think games will start to get some respect now? Ok, probably not. Doesn’t mean I won’t keep playing!!

10. A Few Tidbits of Publisher News

iconic-townI haven’t played Rifts in decades, but am excited to see what Palladium Books has done with the Rifts Vampires Sourcebook. It’s finally shipping next week! You can get a sneak peek through DTRPG. I’m excited to see all that’s going on at Palladium these days. I played a ton of Palladium Fantasy 1st Edition and Ninjas and Superspies back in college and love the worlds that Siembieda and his team have pulled together, so I’m hoping to see more fantasy books coming in the near future as well!

Steve Russell and Rite Publishing are going gangbusters as well, with a new Kickstarter (Lords of Gossamer & Shadow) that’s already blown through its first stretch goal with 40 days to go, a new book of maps from Jonathan Roberts (Fantastic Maps: Iconic Town) that includes maps as well as a ton of individual graphics you can use to create your own, and a brand new Pathways!

Meanwhile Creighton and the gang at Raging Swan Press have gone bonkers in the last month… Releasing 100% Crunch: GoblinsUrban Dressing: AlleywaysWilderness Dressing: Hillsand Dungeon Dressing: Thrones… Not to mention celebrating their third birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! They’re even having a sale running at d20Pfsrd, e23 and Paizo and the sale runs through to the end of the month, so you have time to get in on the action!

And lastly a hearty congratulations to Chris Birch and the team at Modiphius for the blockbuster success of the Achtung! Cthulhu WW2 Keeper & Investigator Guides Kickstarter. They blew all my expectations out of the water and then some. Though I wasn’t a backer, I’m excited to see what comes of some of the campaign settings!!

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As always, if you feel I missed something (and it would be impossible NOT to), drop me a quick note via the contact page or drop me an e-mail at news(at)gameknightreviews(dot)com and I’ll add it to the list for next time!

If you’re a publisher and have an announcement to make or new products being released, let me know and I’ll include them in my next publisher round-up!

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