“The Priestess hears all the Gods of Light and speaks for those who please her. She is part oracle, part mystic, and part metaphysical engineer, since she created the Cathedral, an ever-expanding temple with rooms or entire wings for each of the faiths she favors.”   –From the 13th Age icon teaser description.

Lee Moyer really made this piece his own with the digital paints.  I sometimes have a guess about how the light and color will work when I turn the pencils over to him, but this was one of the cases where the final result was a total surprise.  I just gazed in awe for a few minutes when he sent it to me.  We had discussed the architectural design of Hugh Ferriss as an influence for the Priestess’ cathedral, so evidently I was expecting the background to be mostly monochromatic.  I have come to understand that the tastes of the Priestess are much more diverse and spectacular.

Below an extremely crude thumbnail.  (I’m lucky that Lee and Rob can look at something like this and determine whether it’s a direction I should pursue, or not.)

We had an amazing family vacation for two weeks just as I was turning over the 2nd playtest draft of 13th Age. We spent two weeks in Turkey, starting with four days in the carved rock of Cappadocia, where I typed the new echo spell notes for the wizard listening to the night call of the muezzin bouncing off a fortress rock named the Castle of Uchisar. Then we drove south and west along the coast, hiking in ruins and swimming in the Mediterranean before catching aflight to Istanbul for a final four days of museums and bazaars.

In Kalkan, we stayed in a sweet hotel that we thought was named the Harpy Hotel. But half its logos and signs said the Happy Hotel. Which was it? Well it started as the Harpy Hotel. As witnessed by the Harpy Stele at the nearby ruins of Xanthos, the local harpies were conceived as benevolent spirits, winged women who took the souls of dead children to heaven. Huh. Dead children, well, I guess that’s the human condition. Heaven is good, at least.

But every week a hotel guest mentioned that as far as they knew, harpies were monsters. Eventually the hotel acknowledged its PR error. The owner’s name includes a Turkish word for happy, so the new name is a double-entendre that most guests won’t realize.

As we were checking out I decided to take one last look at email since it seemed likely we wouldn’t have access that night. I had a surprise present, the first 13th Age monster tile I’d seen from the Diabolist, sent over by Lee Moyer who’d finished the tile from Aaron McConnell’s rough pencils. And yeah, the moment we were checking out from the Happy/Harpy Hotel, Lee sent over the harpy.

I had my laptop in hand as we checked out and showed the art to the concierge, saying “You know all those people who turned the harpy into a monster and made you change the name of your hotel? I make games. I’m part of your problem.”

For those of you reading this entry for information on 13th Age instead of keeping up with my synchronicity highway vacations, here’s the scoop on our monster tiles. Preparing the art order, I mulled over the fact that our monster selection for the 13th Age book deliberately sticks close to d20 norms. Therefore most of our monsters have been extremely well-illustrated multiple times. And recently. What were we going to add? Did our audience really need another monster-format illustration of a gnoll? An otyugh, even? There had to be a more interesting approach. So I turned to the strengths of our setting: what if the monsters could be represented by control glyphs created by the Archmage? That way the monster illustrations would be different and say something useful about the world. Maybe I’d put together a card game using the glyphs. Maybe the game would correspond to a game played by wizards.

I talked the idea over with Lee Moyer. Mr. Value-Added, I call him. Once Lee began experimenting with the glyphs, he suggested that we rank the monsters with icons they might be associated with instead of giving the Archmage all the credit. Of course! Each monster or monster type appears on a form of tile, stone, gem or plaque associated with one of the icons. The Diabolist’s tiles are all shaped like the harpy tile, a shape you’ll recognize from the icon’s illustration. On the Diabolist’s other tiles, instead of a harpy you’ll get a hezrou or dretch or balor. But the Elf Queen’s tiles look nothing like the Diabolist’s tiles, ditto for the High Druid and each of the other icons associated with a few of the monsters.

Lee nailed this project. We’ll share more monster tiles soon!

“The Dwarf King is lord of Forge, the dwarves’ new homeland beneath the mountains. He’d love to reclaim the dwarven Underhome lost to war against the dark elves and the creatures of the deeps. But now that the Empire is stumbling, the dwarves find themselves manning the mountain walls that shield the Empire from the orcs and monsters of the north.”  –From the 13th Age icon teaser description.

Without further ado…The Dwarf King!  Digitally painted by Lee Moyer.  Below you will find my pencil drawing as well as an earlier sketch with revision notes provided by Lee.

**Somewhere between Lee’s revision sketch and my pencil rendering there was mention of Brian Blessed’s teeth.

“The Orc Lord is a figure of legend. The last time he walked the land the Lich King fell, in part because of the Orc Lord’s attack. Who will fall before his hordes this time? Who won’t?”  –From the 13th Age icon teaser description.

The images in this post should give you a pretty clear picture of the way we developed the illustrations of the Icon characters for 13th Age.  The striking Orc Lord that you see before you, again masterfully painted by Lee Moyer, came a long way from my original thumbnail.  Once I was reminded that this wasn’t your typical “Joe Orc,” I quadrupled his body mass and covered him in the finest armor, at least the finest by orc standards.  Lee altered my sketch to improve his proportions.  It is very helpful to have someone who can see the image with fresh eyes and not only describe the revision ideas, but actually present them visually.  I stayed true to Lee’s alterations with the pencils and then he let fly with the digital paints.  Looking at the full color version I can almost smell the smoke and orc sweat lingering heavily in the air.

Email from Lee Moyer:  “SO – Interesting discussion with Rob (Heinsoo), and it’s led to THIS version of the Orc Lord.  Rob’s point is that the Orc Lord should never be mistaken for ‘just some Orc’ so the extra beefiness is great!  Basically, he LOVED the width of the figure, so I’ve added some significant width to the torso and arms.”

You’ve come a long way, Joe Orc!

Introducing the High Druid.  The teaser from the 13th Age press release states,  “A champion of the Wild, the High Druid might shake the Empire to pieces or point to a new way to live.”   Once again the evidence of Lee Moyer’s stunning painting talents are on full display.  Below are my pencils and  the early thumbnail version.  Thanks for your interest.  Check back for more developments on the 13th Age.

Phil Reeves is the newest addition to the Pelgrane Artist’s Club. He’s been working on the artwork for Night’s Black Agents and we’re extremely happy with the results.

Phil works in graphic design but focuses his free time on drawing and gaming. Influenced by Frazetta, Lovecraft and Critchlow, he works mainly in paint and pencil, but has expanded into digital pieces. The importance of a visual narrative is a central feature of his work, combined with a predominate use of contrasting light.

Here are some of his pieces –

I intend to continue posting  behind-the-scenes development of the key Icons from the upcoming RPG 13th Age (at least the images that are, at present, available online).  Here’s the description of the Lich King from the 13th Age press release: ” The Lich King was a powerful wizard who ruled the land in ancient times, and has risen from the dead to reclaim it.”   Here he is in all his undead glory as reanimated by the incredible coloring talents of Lee Moyer.  As you trace his development backwards you’ll notice that my original thumbnail had him more “freshly dead” or zombie-like, if you will, but our final version of the Lich King has been dead long enough to have decayed significantly.

 

Happy Friday the 13th!  I have a relevant announcement for today.   The numerical synchronicity has me giddy, but furthermore, I’ve been keeping my mouth shut about this project for months now and I’m thrilled to be able to share the news.   I’ve been drawing character designs for a new game by two very influencial game developers, Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet.  You can read about the game here and in the press release. Both links have preview art. I’m also working with an admired colleague, Lee Moyer. Aside from designing the book, Lee is creating symbols, maps and turning my crunchy pencil drawings into refined full color paintings. Feast your eyes on the Archmage, the first character image we developed for the 13th Age. (I’ve included my pencil drawing below so you can fully appreciate how Mr. Moyer brought the image to life.)  I’m thrilled to be a part of this project and I look forward to sharing more as it progresses.

7eme Cercle, our French licensee is on their second print run of Trail of Cthulhu and it’s on the presses.

Here is the new, fine looking cover:

Alessandro Alaia (Cthulhu Apocalypse) is producing some amazing artwork for Night’s Black Agents. Here is a sneak preview of what you’ve got to look forward to.

 

Previous Entries Next Entries