Wednesday 28 October 2020

Grognardia, Gargantuas & Goblins

Illustrations for two Classes for James Maliszewski's Grognards Grimoire series, set in, around and under the Monastery of Urheim.


The Gargantua stands with his trusty felling axe, shifting his iron-buckled belt. He wears a self-made black bearskin jerkin over a woollen tunic, decorated with traditional hillfolk patterns. His linen breeches are tied at the calf with leather straps, as are the deer-leather shoes.

Along with André The Giant's portrayal of Fezzik in Rob Reiners 1987 film Princess Bride as suggested by James as the direction,  the idea of a demi-giant character class conjured images Little John from the Robin Hood oeuvre, Clive Mansell's Little John in Richard Carpenters 1984 TV series Robin of Sherwood, and Howard Hew Lewis's Rabies in Tony Robinsons 1989 BBC childrens comedy Maid Marian and her Merry Men, but also of Bernard Breslaw's Gort in Terry Marcels 1981 movie Hawk the Slayer, Dudly Watkins cartoon creation Desparate Dan, himself probably influenced by characters such as Paul Bunyan  the massive lumberjack and John Henry the enormous railway worker from American Folklore and the oversized, overstrong hero of Edwardian folk song My Brother Sylveste.  and childhood memories of the giant smuggler at Black Gang Chine and the image of since vanished 1970s saturday morning sporting heroes of the British Wrestling Foundation such as Giant Haystacks and Worlds Strongest Man Geoff Capes. The mythic archetype of the 'big man' probably traceable back to Thor

Goblin Adventurer

The Goblin holds aloft a pitch and rag torch as he creeps forward, holding a bronze leaf-bladed knife. He wears a stiffened leather jerkin fastened at the sides with hemp string over a simple woolen tunic. A small leather pouch hangs from his tanned and oiled leather belt, fastened with bronze buckle and he carries a dark leather shoulder-slung bag. Footware consists of lengths of leather wrapped around a linen sock.

James supplied a couple of goblin images that emerged from the OSR, unfortunately I don't know their exact origins, but they were quite good. Alongside these I had in mind the miniature sculptor Kevin Adams  Goblins and especially his mid-1980s  C12 Goblin range for Citadel Miniatures, along with something of Bil Sedgwicks anarchic comic strip goblin Anti-hero Gobbeldigook from White Dwarf Magazine, undoubtedly influenced by Arthur Rackhams goblins managerie. My original drawing was considered a little too evil, and James wanted a more neutral character suitable for a wider range of Player Characters, so I softened the expression and rounded the features a little, perhaps one or two of Joe Johnstons early concept art for Yoda from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, alongside Dave Trampiers comic cast of trolls from the classic Wormy comic strip from Dragon Magazine. 

There are exits here to: 

Basic / Expert Dungeons & Dragons and Old-School Essentials
The Gargantua  and Goblin Character Classes of the Grognards Grimoire at Grognardia.
The Urheim at Grognardia.

Tuesday 6 October 2020

Orc Designs for Crooked Dice

A look at some of the concept drawings for Crooked Dice Orcs. The design process kicked off with a question: what might Orcs have looked like if they had appeared in an imaginary 1980s Swords and Sorcery movie?

To find an answer we scoured Orc imagery from the 1960s to the 1980s. The starting point suggested by Karl at Crooked Dice were the Orcs of the Dungeons & Dragons design bible, drawn by Tim Truman and used by TSR for the cartoon series and product merchandising - including the infamous LJN 'bendy' plastic toys. These are undoubtedly the most pop-culture incarnation of the Orc, so very on-brand for 7TV in it's pop-culture infused cinematic parallel-universe. Into the mix went several other Orcish references: Nilo Rodis-Jameros concept art for the Gammorean Guard of Return of the Jedi,  The Hildebrandt Bros Tolkien Calendar (which no doubt influenced Tims work for TSR) and their slightly more obscure Urshurak project where they further developed the long snouted pig-lizard motif, Tim Kirk's Tolkien Calendar and SPI games work, Rankin-Bass's The Hobbit cartoon, and of course Micheal Frith's work on Bored of the Rings and The Land of Gorch, Angus McBrides work for Middle-Earth Role Playing.

Example Research Page | D&D Cartoon Orcs

Having a direction to head towards, we also had to steer away from accidentally reproducing existing Pig Faced Orc miniatures - the whole idea being to give gamers something new to play with. From the venerable Grenadier range, through the renaissance of Pig Faced Orc miniatures led by Otherworld Miniatures, to the barbaric porkers of Lucid Eye, to the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon inspired from Antedeluvian Miniatures all great Orcs. As John Pickford would be sculpting the orc miniatures, it was crucial to avoid repeating the orcs he'd done for Foundry.

Conceptually all of this also created an opportunity to go back to the murky roots of Orcdom in The Lord of the Rings. Tolkiens Orcs are a military body, they march en-mass, they have hierarchies, they try to follow orders but are a bit thick and aggressive. The description of Orcs in Advanced Dungeons and Dragons has them as Lawful Evil, which suggests something, an orderliness, a sense of organisation that we also see in Tolkiens massed Orcish armies.  So rather than a motley gang of green skinned noble-savages or rag-tag band of mercenaries, with piece-meal scavenged equipment, the Orcs were envisioned as "The Foot-Soldiers of Evil", their arms and armour being manufactured en mass, as a uniform, on the orders of some off-screen evil overlord. 

With the research done and a direction set, but lots of elements still to be decided,  time to get some sketches under way:

Orc Footsoldier | Pencil Sketches

Physically the over-weight bow-legged ape-like physique owes much to Tim Trumans vision but is equally found in mid-80s orc miniatures like Kevin Adams Ugluds Armoured Orcs.  It lends a recognisably strong and bestial motif of humans closest relatives, perhaps a divergent evolutionary strain of simian or somesuch. The feet are bare - large, hard clawed leathery things rather than boots or sandals to keep them animalistic, and with the knuckle-dragging arms "the long arm of The Law" (har, har)  and wicked curved blades so near their exposed toes, perhaps none too bright.

Translating the pop-culture influences into an anachronistic mashup of bronze-age and early-modern military references also eschewed the rag-tag chainmail and leather of the Dark Ages armour that characterise the majority of the existing ranges. There is a lot of talk about Orcs being racial caricatures, and I wanted steer away from those kinds of interpretations, so the material references are to European arms and armour. The Orcs have English Civil War style breastplates melded with Roman cuirass - perhaps moulded to a piggishly aspirational porky paunch as well as deflecting blows, British Colonialist pith-style helmets with the plumes of the Household Cavalry that also echo Romano-British helms, along with  Hopelite greaves and Graeco-roman pteruges,  all of course simply and crudely made of iron and leather lending them an oddly out-of-place, quasi-historical fantasy feel.

Orc Warlord & Shield | Pencils

Then there are of course horns on the helmets. What are they about?  18th Century Romantic ideas about vikingsRitual war trophies of the Chang Naga from WW2? Extending a bovine element to a primitive ancestral monkey pig chimera? Yes. All these things. Similar to the mixing of historical references, In many ways design isn't about constructing a thing, but creating the imaginative space within which the thing can exist by itself, and monsters, even heavily codified pop-culture inflected footsoldiers of evil, must encompass the irrational...

With the physique, material culture and a variety of lumbering "at ready" poses settled, it remained to expand the range with some personalities, some of which have yet to emerge from the Orc breeding pits of Orthanc one dark and dismal day. Some work on the orcs faces - including much scribbling on the length of snout and pointed or roundness of nose, again, my aim was to avoid something that could not be mis-read as racial caricature, so ultimately decided almost bat-like pointed pig snout, giving their faces a constantly irritated expression. A shield device, mass produced and crudely simple developed emphasising the tusks.  Imagine, if you will, the furnaces of Isengard belching black smoke as production lines of barely cooled beaten iron armour are handed out to the lines of naked porky orcs preparing them for battle...

Orc Characters | Pencil Roughs

With the initial concepts and poses signed off,  took to drawing up in pen and ink as linework to clarify some of the details and add a little finesse. The drawings were intended to describe the overall design and provide John with a direction to base his sculpts on, so didn't need to work up all the poses etc.

Orc Footsoldier | Inked Concept Art

The Footsolider is armed with a triumvirate of traditional romanesque arms, a super-heavy plium, designed to destroy shields a, typically orcish scimitar in place of a straight-bladed gladius, and a small pugio hanging at the belt.

The other infamous orc-weapon is of course, the heavy axe...

Orc Warlord | Inked Concept Art

As we'd already established something of a trophy-language with the horns, of course the Leader gets bigger horns, but also a sabre-toothed skull and tooth necklace, along with a huge fur cloak which combined with the heavier armour also physically bulks out the model making him more impressive and dramatic on the tabletop than the rank and file, and perhaps conjures some cinematic images of a Roman general on campaign in the grim, dark and frostbitten forests of the north. The pose - shouting, giving orders, gesturing with his axe as a leader. He's also carrying a mug of ale, because he was off duty, in the tavern, when it all kicked off, and since the days of Uglúk force-marching Merry and Pippin to Isengard (and perhaps even before that) Orcs and grog just go together.

So with the inks dry, and scanned in, the drawings were sent over to John as guidelines  developing the final miniatures... 

 Sculpted by John Pickford | Painted by Andrew Taylor | Crooked Dice Orcs

And I'm sure you'll agree John has done a top job and made are some characterful additions, like the Celtic horned horse helmet on the champion, which ties in nicely with the bronze age and cavalry motifs, and a whole tranche of suitably orcy accoutrements, including a stunning standard bearer and musician to round out the command group. 

You can see more pictures of the entire Crooked Dice Orc range on Kickstarter, alongside some ex-Otherworld ranges including John Pickfords Goblins, Ogres, enormous Giant, and some brand new Boggarts from Andrew May. Waaaargh!

Friday 25 September 2020

Frostgrave: 2nd Edition

As the seasons turn chilly, a brief look at my border artwork appearing in the new edition of  Joseph A. McCullough's Frostgrave fantasy skirimish wargame.


Winter in Gormenghast. Carven gargoyles of the Winter King and Ice Queen blow wild knotworking winds through the derelict architecture of a long abandoned and forgotten city. Hope the explorers of Frostgrave enjoy the marginalia and find it add a suitable atmosphere to their games.

Frostgrave 2nd Edition is available from Osprey Games in Hardback and Digital editions.

Wednesday 9 September 2020

Otherworld Dagonite Fishmen Warriors

A look at the concept art I drew for Otherworld Miniatures Dagonite Fishmen Warriors.

The starting point for the design of the Dagonite Fishmen was the descriptions Eric Holmes 1986 novel The Maze of Peril (with thanks to Zach at Zenopus Archives).  references from classic Dungeons and Dragons artwork supplied by Richard at Otherworld. These included Dave Sutherlands illustrations from the D&D Module D2:Shrine of the Koa-Toa (1978), Alan Hunters illustrations of the Koa-Toa in the 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Fiend Folio (which themselves seem to be the source of Citadel Miniatures FF65 Ferocious Man-Fish models). Alongside all this, I cant help but think of Malcolm Barter's Manfish from The Forest of Doom, along with the descriptions of the more mutated Dagon cultists and their aquatic counterparts from H.P. Lovecrafts Shadow over Innsmouth. 

With those initial references in mind and direction on the poses, I produced some initial silhouettes and loose sketches to determine the overall shape and features, such as vestigal fins and barbels. Those elements decided, translated to the poses and introduced some thematic decorative elements, weapons and accoutrements before producing the final inked versions while under the influence of the classic Surf Rock stylings of The Longboards, Da Surftones and The Lively Ones.

Dagonite Fishmen Warrior I

Armed with a cutlass, favoured weapon of sea-going bandits, and a smaller 'fish-knife'. In keeping with the subaquatic-cult theme, the pommels are a stylised fish head and spiral shell. 

Dagonite Fishmen Warrior II

Keeping the aquatic theme the spear is based on a harpoon, with a stylised shark decoration etched onto the blade.

Dagonite Fishmen Warrior III

This is a heavier infantry type, with a scallop shell decorated brestplate and armed with a trident.  I also wanted to reflect the weird man-catcher weapon the Kua-Toa use in D&D, rather than a traditional Greek, and have given it a subtle squid shape (the butt of the weapon is also designed as a stylised fish-head). 

Dagonite Fishmen Warrior III
Dagonite Fishmen Warrior III
Bare metal model

The drawings were then passed over to Drew Williams to sculpt, who once again has done a supurb job of translating my linework into three dimensions, fleshing out the anatomy giving their monsterous bodies the both the slightly blubbery heft and smoothness that semi-aquatic , and expertly capturing the poses and expressions, filling the detail on the back...

Otherworld Dagonite Fishmen Warriors

The models then cast, and painted by Andrew Taylor for display. I had left the eyes in my drawings blank as I'd imagined them with pale, slightly glowing orbs, but Andrews large blank staring, reflective fish eyes are perfect. The bronze and verdigris metals on the armour and weapons is exactly how I'd imagined them, which is a bit odd, as I don't think we'd discussed that at all. Perhaps an unstated influence of the Bronze Age Sea Peoples, or maybe there was just something in the water.  The cold grey-blue contrasted with the redbrown the the gills and make them a classic monster and really conveys the cool slightly slimey texture of these creature. Equally, the Dagonites could be painted with patterns and colouration from tropical fish or even the bioluminescent strangeness from the Bathyal Zone to make them more exotic.

The full range of Dagonites, including the Assassin and High Priest which I also produced concept art for, can be seen at Otherworld Miniatures.

Wednesday 15 July 2020

Custom Retro D&D Artist Dice Set

Small project to create a dice set inspired by the work of renown fantasy artist Peter Andrew Jones (PAJ) and more specifically his painting used for the front cover for the third edition of What is Dungeons & Dragons? by John Butterfield, Philip Parker and David Honigmann, published in 1984 by Puffin Books.

Retro D&D Dice Set

As an introduction to the game, What is Dungeons & Dragons? is quite good, and could really be called "How to Play Dungeons and Dragons if the rules aren't that clear and you don't have anyone around to show you." No doubt it was marketed to libraries, schools and parents who wanted to get a handle on the latest 80s fad, and ensure themselves that Dungeons & Dragons was more a harmless pastime that uses the imagination, weird dice for random number generation, and not a form of pseudo-satanism that the paranoid American religious-right was keen to promote as the existential threat of the week.

What is Dungeons & Dragons? | via Goodreads

Today the book is, more or less, a piece of social documentary and evidence as to how D&D was being played by a small group of Etonian sixth formers in the early 1980s. The triumvate of teen-authors went on to write the Cretan Chronicles series of Adventure Gamebooks, no doubt using their of Classics, before going on to get proper jobs as a Lawyer, Historian and music reviewer for the Financial Times (at least I assume it's the same fellows). As FF author Paul Mason observes public schoolboys betting publishing deals is all  quite deeply embedded in the structures of the British class system, and such ostentatious display of privilege - and may well have been irksome to D&Ders on the other side of the social divide. Nonetheless,  the gaming style described in What is Dungeons & Dragons? means blending aspects of different versions of D&D (including Basic, Expert and Advanced) along with cherry-picking elements from White Dwarf magazine, to create a specific melange of rules for the group, any pretence at playing 'official' or pure D&D is quietly ignored, and rightly so. If you want to know more about the inner-workings of the book Muffin Labs has an extensive review.

I've had my copy of What is Dungeons & Dragons?  since 1984, and lugged around various school lunch-time groups, attic-bound gatherings of state-school role-players to throw at the DM. It  recently emerged, along with 50 or so green-spined Fighting Fantasy books from a storage box in the loft to form a bright lime rectangle, bookended with tangerine across the living-room wall in a brief spate of lockdown induced interior redesign adding an element of bold colour at once fresh and modern and yet entirely nostalgic and homely.

Peter Jones | Solar Wind | Paper Tiger 1980

PAJ remains undoubtedly one of the premier fantasy artists of the 1970s and 1980s, his vividly stylised air-brushed work combines highly saturated colour with a strong design sense to create immediately recognisable and dramatic images.  His work appeared on many fantasy and science fiction novels, including works by Tanith Lee, Peirs Anthony, Robert E. Howard, and Frank Herbert amongst many others.  PAJs work graced the covers of several classic Fighting Fantasy game-books, including the inaugural  Warlock of Firetop Mountain (Puffin, 1982) making him an obvious choice for Puffin to commission for their "How to D&D" book. Inevitably his paperback paintings would surface again as covers for roleplaying games magazine White Dwarf placing his repertoire firmly in the minds of a generation of gamers and PAJ would go on to produce box art for classic video games for visually-led publishers such as Psygnosis, as the D&D boom of the 1980s faded and the home-computer gaming scene took off in the UK.

What is Dungeons & Dragons? | Peter Andrew Jones | 1984

The cover of What is Dungeons & Dragons? features a large purple and green head of a somewhat freudianly suggestive dragon psionically projecting regular polyhedra from his reptilian eyeballs. PAJs charictaristially dramatic use of colour is fully evident, balancing the deep crimson reds of the infernal background, with the smokey greens of the dragons head. The hard edged geometrical polyhedra held in dramatic tension with the organic, fluid forms of the dragon. The dragon herself appears potent yet static, an embodiment of primal chaos like the Tiamat of Babylonian myth, the undifferentiated matter of the cosmos being transformed into its initial order through the force of will. A dramatic visualisation of the physical world manifesting through the formation of the primary geometrical atomic building blocks - the two dimensional triangular radiation emitting from the generative dragon - forming the three dimensional molecular solids of the physical universe in Platonic philosophy. A creative expression of the primary mytho-cosmic act of creation and form-giving, we are reminded of Paul Cézanne's reduction of visual forms to their essential elements and the Bauhaus preoccupation with the graphic unity of abstract geometrical structures, form and colour.

And by the magic of online retail, these regular polyhedra have now, after some 36 years of draconic concentration, finally manifested themselves on the prime material plane:

 A Custom What is Dungeons and Dragons Retro Dice Set
Dice aficionados will recognise the set of polyhedra on the cover is not based on the original Dungeons & Dragons dice nor the TSR Dragon Dice, but is an entirely unique combination of colour and geometry. PAJs pallet for his polyhedra is an undeniably attractive one that balances warm and cold hues through the spectrum, but eschews more theoretical or esoteric application of light frequency to geometry to create a individualistic blend of form and colour.  Unfortunately the original painting omits an icosahedron (d20) but we have taken the central Dragon motif as inspiration for the choice of green hue. The grey diamond form on the left hand side of the painting is not quite a pentagonal trapezohedron, but the diamond-kite shape strongly suggests one of the faces of the d10 - an innovation not mentioned in the text (the authors use a d20, marked 0-9 twice), and not part of the original D&D dice set, so represents something of a anomaly that nonetheless seems already anticipated by PAJs artwork.

Having determined what forms and colours were required for the set, it only remained to source the objects, most dice companies products have rounded corners (presumably for 'roll') and more often than not combine multiple colours of plastics to create swirled patterns or jewel-like transparent effects.  Gamescience have been making dice since the 1970s and have an extensive range of dice are famous for their hard edged precision, and have a flat, uniform colour that bucks the trend of the decorative marble-effect and gaudy glitter dice. The dice are available both with the numbers inked and non-inked, I opted for the non-inked to closer tie in to the artwork, but with ageing eyes have the option to ink in the numbers myself at some point. Overall the Gamescience dice very nicely encapsulate the abstract, mathematical purity of the polyhedra represented in PAJs painting and also supply a wide enough variety of colours to make selection possible.

Fortunately Dice Shop Online are based in the UK, supply Gamescience dice, and most importantly, sell individual dice so individual colours and shapes can curated for bespoke projects such as this. For reference, links to each of the dice on DSO:  
Cost-wise with postage it comes to under a tenner, so overall was quite an inexpensive retro project to undertake, and I'm more than pleased with the over-all feel of the dice set.

D4 | Orange Tetrahedron

D6 | Yellow Cube

D8 | Red Octahedron

D10 | Grey Pentagonal Trapezohedron

D12 | Turqoise Dodecahdron

D20 | Green Icosahedron
The quality of the castings themselves is somewhat variable, with some having small amounts of sprue (easily removable with a scalpel or modelling knife) protruding from an edge, and others having slight dents where they have been removed from the sprue. As much as I enjoy the austere purity of mathematically precise abstract shapes, the small imperfections aren't too much of a concern, although I've yet to put them through their paces to determine randomity.

What is Dungeons & Dragons | Back cover with Dice

While I am pleased with my  Custom Retro D&D Artist Dice Set, inspired by Peter Andrew Jones painting for "What is Dungeons and Dragons?", I wonder what other old school D&D or RPG artist inspired custom curated dice sets might there be out there. Perhaps the black dice with tiny skulled dots from John Blanche's Sorcery! or the particular set shown on the front cover of Ian Livingstones Dicing with Dragons, or maybe matching the lassic BECMI box cover colours, or even Pardues madness inducing regular polygons from  Mazes and Monsters.

Tuesday 30 June 2020

Bog Trolls!

Recently had the pleasure of creating some promotional art for Satyr Art Studios range of Troll miniatures, so here's some of the drawings:

Giant Two Headed Troll

Closing Time at the Hobbits Retreat.
Shroom Foraging with the Fungoid Trollkids

Domestic Slap! 

All the Bog Troll miniatures were designed and sculpted by Drew Williams. The characters are dug from a deep vein of oddball trollishness that runs through media ranging from the Old School Dungeons & Dragons stylings of Dave Trampiers seminal Wormy comic published in Dragon Magazine through BiL Sedgewicks classic Gobbeldigook  strips from White Dwarf, and Citadel Miniatures superlative Pre-slotta Warhammer C20 Trolls range and into the Games Workshop's dubiously riotous Gobbo range of boardgames.

As traditional, here are some hasty black and white photos of some raw chunks of metal blue-tacked together (all the Trollwives have separate heads). An Otherworld Miniatures NP41 Farmers Wife (also sculpted by Drew) is shown for scale - she stands at around 32mm, and is standing on a 20mm round base.

Trollkids are much larger than I'd expected, which is a pleasant suprise. From the 'Gook references I'd expected them to be about the size of an average Goblin, but these are hefty sprogs standing upright at about 25mm.

Ma Baker

Ma Baker with her flailing backhander and cast-iron frying pan attack.

Ma Frikka

Ma Frikka advancing with her rolling pin of doom

Ma Koshi
Ma Koshi wielding her broom.

For much clearer photos of the Trollwives, Trollkids, Bari-Faroom the multi-headed troll and the rest of the Bog Trolls range  visit the Satyr Art Studio online store

Friday 19 June 2020

A Wizard Master on Elm Street

In one scene in the 1986 instalment of the Nightmare on Elm Street series #3: The Dream Warriors, we see 3 teens on a psychiatric ward playing a fictional Role-Playing Game called Wizard Master. The game features a large hex-based map and a neat triptych arch Wizard Masters screen that was undoubtedly made for the movie, as it directly portrays the 'dream-persona' of the Will Stanton character.

While the game props are props, however, several other pieces of set dressing are clearly identifiable as items of real world gaming and pop-culture detritus:

Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriros
The large colour poster on the wall of our RPG playing psychiatric ward inmate Will Stanton is unmistakably the work of comic-book fantasy maestro Richard Corben:

Richard Corben | Den 2

A closer inspection of the images Will has on his pin-board reveals some slightly less obvious, more blurry but specific fantasy gaming references...

D&D Pinboard on Elm Street
That's right, the left hand image is clearly this classic advertisement and mini Second Edition Warhammer supplement for Citadel Miniatures from October, 1986!

Citadel Feudals! White Dwarf #82
I do have to wonder why my brain almost instantly recognised this, perhaps some arcane magics, or just, I don't know, being a complete and utter nerd.

The image on the top-right of the pin-board appears to be from the same issue of White Dwarf...

Tony Ackland illustration for The Light Fantastic| White Dwarf #82

Strangely, Freddy's animated skeleton comes to life to kill people towards the end of the movie, but I think we'd be giving the film-makers a little too much credit if this is an attempt at subtly foreshadowing the event.

And in the middle is an advert for The Warlord Games Shop in Southend, England. One might wonder why a kid in an American lunatic asylum for sleep-deprived insane youths, being given dangerous experimental psychoactive drugs would pin an advert for a games shop in the UK to his moodboard of doom, but perhaps that conundrum answers itself.

Warlord Games Shop Advert | White Dwarf #82
Interestingly, none of White Dwarf 82s Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play preview art or images are used at all. And while the set dressers were focused on wizard orientated imagery, in order to reinforce Wills dream-persona as the Wizard Master,  they also didn't use Josh Kirby's excellent cover for Terry Pratchetts The Light Fantastic which features in the magazine.

Unfortunately, other than the obvious Spike from Gremlins merchandise, I don't recognise any of the other bits of fantasy art or references,  although there are a couple of large (dragon?) miniatures on his bedside table , and something that looks like it has the distinctive Dungeons & Dragons logo - which the multi-talented and eagle-eyed Kelvin Green swiftly identified as The Art of Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Game from 1985.

Harry Potter, the Wizard Master
The movie very much plays on the teen-suicide mass hysteria of the 80s, the heroine cutting her wrists in the bathroom with a razorblade, and two of her fellow inmates apparently committing suicide, one by jumping off a roof, and the other improbably plunging her head into a wall mounted cathode ray tube - both victims of Freddy Kruegers nightmare induced somnambulism.

Under those circumstances, fantasy gaming making an appearance isn't really a surprise, during what has become known as the 'satanic panic', Dungeons & Dragons, alongside heavy metal music and horror movies were held up by the american religious right as corrupting influences that drove teenagers to witchcraft, suicide and violence.

Dungeons & Dragons | Witchcraft Suicide Violence
Bothered About Scapegoating

The movie however, presents gaming as little more than a harmless pastime, which fuels the imagination but is ultimately benign and impotent in the face of either real supernatural evil or severe sleep deprivation fuelled mental illness and mass hallucination. In the dream-world Matt becomes the Wizard Master, shooting lightning bolts from his fingers but it doesn't help him defeat Kreuger - in fact the only thing that does is the 'real magic' of Christian ritual paraphernalia - holy water and prayer, although these are wielded by a faithless Level 7 psychiatrist whose been struck off, rather than an ordained priest.

On any level of analysis, Nightmare on Elm Street 3 puts teenagers mental health and supernatural perturbances down to bad parenting, be it adults just not listening to childrens fears or concerns, to general neglect - Nancy's mothers alcoholism and fathers absenteeism, or Kirsten's wantonly neglectful mother. Krueger himself is seeking revenge for being burned alive by the kids parents and being denied the salvation offered by a christian burial - he becomes the embodiment of the Elm Street parents lack of responsibility - simply burying their misdeeds and allowing their guilt to fester and manifest in their childrens subconscious as inter-generational trauma. A lesson, perhaps, more for the Patricia Pullings of this world.

Sunday 29 March 2020

Crooked Dice Fantasy Colouring In

Crooked Dice have released a seven page print and colour pdf featuring some of the concept artwork I've been doing for their forthcoming 7TV Fantasy game, including some heroic adventurers and villainous Orcs.

You can use these to print out and entertain yourself or any captive Halflings in your Lockdown Dungeon that might need to be kept busy for a little bit.  Alternatively you could use them for trying out some different colour schemes for the forthcoming miniatures, or just enjoy them in their natural black and white line art state.


Orc Footsoldier
I've also had sight of some work in progress from Mark Evans and John Pickford on the miniatures which are looking awesome.

Meanwhile, download PDF Fantasy Colouring in Book  just type "0" on the name a fair price to get it free, hoorah! and don't forget to share your colourings on the crooked dice insta and fb if that's your thing. Hope you enjoy them.