Saturday, 28 February 2015

Red Box Games: Chosen of Hel

Red Box Games Barbarian Hordes Kickstarter is up and running, and once again the gnomes of Zhu were tasked with preparing some imagery to punctuate the piece....

Thematic header, for the Kickstarter. Twin axes engraved with Bindrunes Thurisaz + Tyr, not as an invocation or dedication to the god, but the the warrior-pride that he is known for, and Thurisaz - Thorn, often associated with giants and destructive power of nature.   Isa (ice) and Haglaz (hail), the frozen earth, like winter storms, immense, unstoppable deathly things to those that live in the hard northlands. Blind Raven - carrion of the battlefield, who cares not whose flesh he devours, Blind Skull - the fallen and forgotten, and the Seeing Helmet.

The long braid and  that evil is a gender equality employer and is indiscriminate in the collecting of skulls. Formal arrangement like a military display. The sword-runes read Ragnarök - it is the very death of the gods that the Helsvakt seek. The Othala rune on the male skull, inhereted wealth - the death of kings, and the Fehu rune on the female skull, cattle - the death of wealth. They may be interpreted as Odin and Frigg, or the self-image of the Helsvakt, as those who already count themselves among the dead, and so are fearless in battle.

The Helsvakt in Tre's mythology are bloodthirsty maniacs enslaved to the sorcerer-goddess Hel.   Chains are a long established theme central to the imagery of the Helsvakt, signifies only their bondage, but.  The thorn is a new, a kind of medieval barbed-wire, it's a reference to a nature vs. man-made. The one eyed skull is, of course, Odin, and the sword is engraved with the runes ALU (in Anglo-Saxon, rather than the Elder) a historical charm with uncertain meaning - it has been found on axe handles and arrow-heads but not swords to my knowledge. Theory has it that ALU means 'ale' or 'courage', or literally 'Dutch Courage' and perhaps the mythic relationship between the 'drunken' state and berserker.

I wanted a move away from the expressionist gore imagery of the last Helsvakt-led campaign,  towards something colder, starker, possibly more evil and sinister, heavier and blacker. Equally stone-carving and woodblock relief print they visually drawing on ancient Greek Red Figure pottery - after all, Barbarian comes from barbaros - the ancient Greek word for an uncivilised person, these are images not made by the Helsvakt in celebration of their Goddess, their victories, or their madness, but by the civilised men that fear them and tell legends of Ragnarök.

But nobody's really turns up to a RBG Kickstarter for my graphics (although there have been a few requests for t-shirts, which we have done in the past but it does depend on the funding going above and beyond the core product). Nope... what they're after is more epic Red Box Games miniatures...

Jötunn WIP

Helsmaiden WIP

I was going to go on at length about diversity of representation of body types in fantasy, feminism, ethics in games journalism and all that, because when there are creators out there like Tre making kick-ass evil female warriors which are 100% matched up with their male contemporaries and this is totally ignored by all the . Not that Tre' has a feminist agenda, totally unlikely to give a crap about that - it's all about being true to the character and concept. As it should be, and the only to axe be ground here, is about to cleave the skulls of its foes.

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