Friday 30 July 2021

Unboxing 7TV: FANTASY

As 7TV: FANTASY has finally been unleashed upon the world, the dust from the ancient crypt has just about settled across the land I thought it's about time I took a look at the epic contents and the illustration work that went into the latest big box release from Crooked Dice Game Design Studios.

7TV: Fantasy Box

Full colour box. I wrote quite a lot about the cover, Jungian archetypes, the balance of the force, fantasy, pop-culture and photoshop for the 7TV: Fantasy development blog, so rather than repeat myself, if you're interested there's a deep-dive over there, along with a lot of other behind-the-scenes stuff.

So what is in the box?

Profile Cards

The box set includes 230 profile cards, framed by kind of decaying dungeon doorway.

The 7TV development team scoured the Fantasy genre, pulling out archetypes, and there is everything from Night Elf Matriachs (bit of an Oldhammer-ism there) to Dungeon Adventurers, to irate Villagers and grumpy Camels and everything in-between. The 7TV system is about matching archetypes, so everything is a 'counts as' select the template that best fits (and with 230 to choose from, there's a lot to choose from) pay the points cost, and off you go, which means out of the box, if you've already got a fantasy miniatures collection for Frostgrave (2nd edition, of course), or Dungeons & Dragons, Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle or Warhammer you'll be able to muster forces and invade the world of 7TV:FANTASY straight away.

Most of the cards are illustrated with a photograph, either of an expertly painted and photographed Crooked Dice or Otherworld Miniature fantasy miniature, although one or two are illustrated by myself and other hands.  

Grimoires - Magic books

Magic is an near universal element of the Fantasy genre, and 6 unique Grimoire cards, each detailing a different school of magic and selection of spells. Each has custom, hand-lettered title and a sigil reflecting the school on a hand-drawn spellbook cover. 

Status Tokens

Blast Templates

For the on-table elements I took a slightly different graphic approach to my usual linework, combining colour stone textures and bold graphics. On the one-hand the textures are illusionistic, like mottled stone, becoming part of the scenery, and on the other hand purely iconic, disrupting the 'cinematics' of the tabletop while the rules infringe into the space of play. Warning - special effects in play.

Encounter Guide Cover

To advenure! The Encounter Guide is a collection of gaming scenarios. If the Profile Cards present archetypes of characters, the Encounter Guide presents archetypes of situations. Everything from saving the world from nefarious evil to a tavern brawl. 

Encoounter Guide

Wonderful miniatures photography from Kevin Dallimore.

Encounter Guide

As well as an illustrative border, showing weapons and treasure, the Encounter Guide also has a few of my linework illustrations. Here a typical Fantasy Tavern Table, maybe The Green Dragon Inn or The Mended Drum or Silver Eel Tavern, or  with hand raised pork pies, hobbit smoking pipe, mugs of beer, playing cards and other paraphernalia, shortly before it's thrown over by an over-zealous health inspector.

Trilogy Cards

One of the core narrative mechanics of the game are the Trilogy Cards which throw random events into the mix as play progresses. Referencing both three-act hollywood storytelling, and the Fantasy trilogy. The events are typically from the film/tv production frame, as the meta-narrative. Unashamedly referencing the  ouroboros device from the cover of Michael Endes The Neverending Story a novel which similarly breaks the 4th wall, or integrates the books materiality into the fantastical narrative. Either way, if you can hear Limahl singing in your head just by looking at it, you now know why.

Artefact Cards

Two types of object cards, Artefacts and Maguffins provide props, weapons and devices, each has a small illustration as well as a custom border. As with much of the 7TV universe, many of the drawings are references to props from classic fantasy media.


As Maguffins work as objective tokens (sold separately), they can be represented on the tabletop, expertly brought to life by Andrew May.

Casting Guide Cover

Producers Guide Cover

Directors Guide Cover

The rulebooks, each has custom hand drawn border and a roundel device. The three motifs were inspired by Jeff Easleys trinity of covers for the 1980s orange spined editions of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons - featuring a wizard, a 'dungeon master' and pegasus vs dragon. Each twisted through my own sensibilities and encrusted with pop-culture references.

You can just see the dice (translucent purple - very magical) and counters (green!) that are included in the box set sneaking into the corner of the photos too.

Of course, what would an 1980s Fantasy release be without the merchandise? Alongside the games release, Crooked Dice have also dropped an excellent (even if I do say so myself) tr00 kvlt grimm and frostbitten fantasy gaming t-shirt (sold separately). 

Part of the world of 7TV:Fantasy are of course the what-if films and tv-series from a parallel universe that the games, scenarios and miniatures are based on. So to accompany the background text, I created two alternative movie posters for the game:

Orsa: The Fearless 'poster'

Orsa The Fearless, a female nordic, conanesque adventure romp (soon to be released a campaign pack for 7TV). Red Sonja is probably my favourite of the Conan movies (everybody is wrong about this movie, sorry) so it was great to re-imagine Renato Casaro's classic movie poster for Conan the Barbarian with a female lead, and right the wrongs of Arnold Schwarzenegger getting top billing over Bridgette Neilson. I also got the chance to play 7TV casting director and put Kathy Staff (Nora Batty) as a nordic wise-woman, which would have been amazing.

Dark Fortress 'poster'

Dark Fortress, an imaginary poster for the imaginary sequel to Krull. I actually imagined this as a Marvel UK comic book movie advert version of the imaginary poster for an imaginary sequel to Krull, but don't tell anyone. Krull was my absolute favourite movie when I was 10, it's got Brian Breslaw of Carry On fame and Todd Carty off of Grange Hill  in it, what other marks of greatness are needed? Oh yeah, a spinny blade of death,  a giant inter-dimensional demon-castle, and freaky humaoid alien armoured shocktroops that shoot lasers out of their swords. Such things fantasy games are made of.

So that's a wrap! Hope you enjoyed this quick look at my work on the 7TV:Fantasy box set, out now at Crooked Dice