Aesthetics and other ramblings
Posted by docryder
So, Monday I had a comment on Facebook that spawned a rare additional post, making two in two days. Whee! Now, however, I’m kinda left with little (at least in my own mind) to write about this evening.
I think I’ll ramble on a little more about the aesthetics of the world. I’m an artist by education and vocation, as well as a storyteller by inclination. So, when I think of my stories, I see little movies in my head. Those little movies help me establish the sweeping scale and grandeur of my stories. I’ve had an image or two in my head of the end of my current D&D game since the beginning. Now, at this point, I think that image actually played out a few months ago, but I’ve formed some new images in my head that I hope will eventually see the light of day at the end of the campaign.
In building the StarSea, I’m needing those kinds of images again. This is part of the reason I feel the need to build characters for the setting, and why I’ve obsessed a bit on the look of the giants and dragons and so on in the game. I need those images to tell me things about the story of the world, because they’ll also tell the players about the world.
For example, in Star Wars, what does Obi-Wan’s garb tell you about him and the Jedi? It tells you, the viewer, that Obi-Wan comes from a monastic order. Conveniently, Luke wears similar clothes, and the “Jedi as monk” image is carried forth after Obi-Wan sacrifices himself so the other can escape. However, Luke more or less eschews this look for the rest of the movies, but we see it again in Yoda and the force spirits in the older trilogy, and with most all of the Jedi in the newer trilogy.
This aesthetic tells us a lot about the Jedi. It tells us how they lead simply lives of study, and how they try not to rely on artifice to accomplish their goals. It gives them a mystic feel throughout the movies, for the most part.
This is what I’m hoping to accomplish with the StarSea. I want to be able to create images I can use for my players, and as a guide for artists (including myself) should I decide to publish the StarSea setting in the future. If you look at a lot of really successful products, the aesthetic really does sell the item. Look at Warhammer 40K: The imagery of the Space Marines and the Orks and Eldar sell the setting, even moreso than the aesthetic of Warhammer Fantasy sells that setting. Don’t get me wrong, but in the general public, WFB is pretty much unknown, but all gamers know WH40K. This aesthetic is why Jon Schindehette has spilled so much digital ink on the appearance of monsters in D&D 5e. He wants to combine the aesthetic of older editions of D&D with newer artistic techniques, rather than the ugly old line artwork of the D&D 2, so it will sell to a more savvy new consumer.
In other thoughts, between thinking about aesthetics for the StarSea, I’ve been trying to go through my Downloads folder on my laptop’s hard drive. I’ve accumulated about 70 GB worth of miscellaneous stuff; free samples of music, free game systems, graphics I’ve thought were interesting and/or inspiring, cardstock minis, purchases from DriveThruStuff… You name it, it’s in there. And this is just the stuff I thought I should look at immediately and didn’t. I have a network drive that has probably a terabyte of stuff on it already. So, I spent at least part of the day going through all that. I made a dent. A small dent, but a dent nonetheless. I’m going to try to do more as the week goes by. I’m exposing myself to sample chapters of other games that have become available over the past couple of years, so I’m hoping to get more ideas for potential game sets, or even rules I can pull out and add to another system and make some of my crazy ideas work. Or maybe find the image that captures and aesthetic for one faction or another. 🙂
Well, I’m beat. that’s pretty much it for tonight. Catch you later…