Friday, February 18, 2011

On Archetypal Images and Realm Geography

As I've worked on this blog and my playtest campaign, I've realized two things: People want images, and I'm not very good at visual thinking. Hence, I decided that if I were to get across exactly what a "Rural" or "Grate-Scratcher" Iooked like, I would need some are. I wanted to get an "archetypal" image of each Bloodline, like those one might see in the Race descriptions in D&D or what have you, and also a bit of the Archetypes (similar to Classes in D&D or what have you). So I asked my fiancee to commission some art for me for Christmas. It turned out to be a Valentine's Day Gift, but whatever... For the next ten posts, we'll supplement the main topic with short discussion on the Bloodline pictures I got from artist Amy Clark (check her stuff out at deviant art). This is the the description I wrote for my fiancee, who sent it on to Amy:

Thewton Wells -- a Rural Explorer
Thewton is short and stocky -- perhaps five-foot-four and extremely thick -- but well-muscled. He is perhaps 30. His skin is a deep, deep tan -- though with Anglo-Saxon features -- and his hair, shaggy and mossy (see below), and eyes are both deep brown. His skin is caked in a half-inch of thick loam, with moss and small flowering plants sprouting all over his body -- if there’s a spot where his natural skin is showing, it’s singular and unusual. He wears a ragged pair of coveralls with neither shirt nor shoes, with a large backpack complete with a coil of rope, bedroll, and pickaxe. He has a confident, simple smile.

And here's the picture after the break:

This picture is pretty much exactly what I asked for. I have had a lot of trouble finding premade pictures with the rights look to them to fit with the Rural image I wanted to portray. Often it was obviously a man with leaves glued to his face -- or, alternatively a woman made up entirely of plant matter. It is very difficult to find something where it really looks like a man had plants growing from his face, but Amy Clark nailed it.

Thewton Wells was designed to be an introductory character, a naïve farm boy who would be surprised by the bizarre occurrences in the city of lives that the actual inhabitants would take for granted. I also wanted to make him ready for anything -- at least according to his view -- which is why he has a backpack bed roll and pick-axe (and I wanted an image of the Explorer archetype). I believe the artist made no real mistakes in this. She created a perfect image, the only thing I regret is that my fiancee and I did not have the finances to pay her for a full body shot, color, or anything beyond this pencil sketch.

Onto the next topic, working up to taking a look at Niontia Unprime 236. My playtesters have wondered exactly how the Realms that make up the City of Lives universe work -- does one leave one Realm and travel instantly to any other? Does one have to travel to the edge of one and then get to the next one like passing from one nation to another? Well, the answer is neither. The Realms have no relationship to each other in traditional 4-dimensional space -- leave the planet the Realm of Lives is on, and you won't get to another Realm -- but the Realms' universes do exist  in a definitive "nations on a map" kind of relationship -- you can't get from Spain to Germany without going through France. This is a very vague, "I-haven't-thought-about-most-of-it" map, but it shows how Niontia Unprime 236 is "near" the City of Lives (The City is at the center, 236 is in the upper right).

The map also shows the areas claimed by the three main inter-Realm empires: The Niontians, the Shertasi, and the Ma'ar. It's worth noting, however, that after I completed this, I had the thought that there aren't nearly enough unclaimed Realms, places for bizarre Outlanders to come from -- so perhaps there are a lot more Realms not shown on the map, maybe a two, five, ten, or even hundred-to-one ratio of hidden to shown.

Hope that helps folks out, and next time we will look at Elexender the Dead-Blooded and visit Niontia Unprime 236!