- The 13 True Ways cover above is our first rough draft. Aaron and Lee still have lots of work they plan to do on it. That’s a wind-and-lightning powered druid fighting a dragon who has yet to be revealed. It gives us game designers something to strive towards.
- Lee calls the piece Over Drakkenhall. I love the name, partly because it reminds me of the WWI airplane battles that were my entry into gaming playing Fight in the Skies/Dawn Patrol. I guess I can confess that my slang for the cover-dragon is ‘the Bloody Red Golden,’but don’t worry, the story behind this has everything to do with Lee’s/Aaron’s art mixed with the sorcery of the Blue and nothing further to do with WWI ace jokes.
- On other 13 True Ways work, Lee and Aaron continue to roll through the art, Robin Laws has turned over great work on devils, Drakkenhall, and Axis, and Jonathan is carving his own twisty multi-icon passages through the ruins of Drakkenhall.
- While Jonathan, Aaron, and Lee press forward on 13 True Ways, I’m using my designer-head for a few weeks to help with the 13th Age Bestiary that Ken Hite has organized for Pelgrane. It’s mainly designed by people including ASH Law, Ken, Kevin Kulp, Rob Wieland, Ryven Cedrylle, and Steven Townshend, with editing by Cal Moore. There are innumerable dangerous and quirky touches that deserve to be touched on in later posts. For now I’m developing monsters, improving mechanics and suggesting ways that the monsters’ stories can dare more in individual campaigns.
- And in regard to the book you’ve all been waiting for…. Once upon a time my page count estimates suggested we wouldn’t have room to print the last chapter of 13th Age, the mini-adventure called Blood & Lightning. We said we would put the adventure on line since we couldn’t fit it into the book. Well the good news is that I was wrong and the adventure does fit into the book. Last week, with the 304 page layout finished except for page xx’s, Simon and I decided to add the revised Blood & Lightning adventure back into the mix. We’ve got a 320 page book now with no need for an adventure download and it looks like the decision is only going to cost us three days. So we’ll have more good news soon, I think.
David Kaehler was one of the winners of the Monster Art +13 contest for the 13 True Ways Kickstarter.
David asked for a somewhat straightforward illustration of pixies in a mushroom circle firing sleep arrows at surprised adventurers.
I decided that Aaron McConnell’s amazing talents meant I didn’t have to settle for a somewhat standard image. I rolled the picture forward a few minutes. What happens to adventurers brought low in a pixie circle? Aaron’s first draft is below.
It’s dark, it’s a ritual, and that’s one pumped-up pixie.
Haven’t done the mechanics yet, but they’re going to be fun.
The final illustration will bring out what’s going on at the bottom of the illustration with a bit more clarity while still maintaining the frayed boundaries of good taste.
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, murder pixies.
- Rob Heinsoo
Our Seattle-area 13th Age GMs will run demos at Emerald City ComicCon this weekend. We haven’t heard exactly where yet, but here’s the gaming area map — you’ll find us somewhere in there. Or just wander around yelling, “I DECLARE FOR THE LICH KING!” and we’ll yell back.
Come by and join a game of 13th Age:
- Friday, March 1 4pm – 8pm
- Saturday, March 2 10am – 7pm
- Sunday, March 3 10am – 5pm
Also, head over to Artist’s Alley to meet artist Aaron McConnell, see art from the upcoming game, and commission a sketch of your character or one of the icons.
My own shift is on Sunday. I hope to see you there!
Rob Heinsoo recently emerged from the woods near our Seattle offices to deliver this update on 13 True Ways before returning to the wild in the company of a pack of wolves that seemed to obey his telepathic commands.
Here’s the second rough sketch by Aaron McConnell showing off one of the winners from the Monster Art +13 contest. The treant was suggested by Martin Dickson. I liked the spirit of Martin’s entry, though I advised Aaron to focus on the central details, avoiding complications like animated trees, a second treant and the kin of Squirrel Nutkin. But don’t worry: I’ll work enraged squirrels into the monster’s Nastier Specials.
A treant follower of the High Druid, accompanied by its animated trees, attacks and destroys a New Road work camp in the Wild Wood. Tree-stumps can be seen outside the camp. The attackers smash the camp palisade, makeshift huts, and supply wagons and scatter human laborers and lumberjacks. Imperial guards fight back valiantly but are being overwhelmed and trampled, or in one instance thrown. In the background a second treant is tearing up a newly finished section of road, its roots tumbling the embankment and cracking the paving stones. Assisting in the attack, largely ineffectually and mostly for comic effect, are small woodland creatures; as the civilian workers flee to escape the treants’ wrath they are being furiously “savaged” by the kith and kin of Bambi, Thumper, and Squirrel Nutkin.
If you enjoy Aaron’s sketches and you’re going to be at Emerald City ComicCon in Seattle, check out this link and commission something personal for the show.
High on druids,
Emerald City Comic Con is coming up the end of this month, and the 13th Age crew will be there — Rob Heinsoo and our volunteer GMs will run demos, and I’ll be in the Artist Alley.
I’ve had to turn commission requests down within the past year due to my work schedule, but I’m making the time in the weeks leading up to the convention to do some!
If you’re interested in getting an original drawing of your favorite 13th Age Icon or character, please email me at aranmcconnell(at)hotmail(dot)com with “COMMISSION” in the subject line, to pre-order yours now.
Here’s what I’m offering:
- A black and white single character sketch, full figure or head (like the icons below), 9″x12″ for $50.
Anything beyond that, such as a character along with an icon, is going to cost at least $75 and will depend on the complexity of the image. I think we’ll both be happiest with a straightforward concept that is boiled down to the elegant essence at the core of a character. The sketches at the bottom of the post were done with that sentiment in mind.
So, if you’re planning to be at ECCC please consider signing up for a demo of 13th Age and pre-ordering a sketch! Pre-ordering is the best way to ensure that you’ll be able to get a sketch.
The last time I attended a convention was PAX in Seattle last year and it was a good time. At one point, Lee Moyer and I were both at the table drawing collaborative sketches based on suggestions from fans of 13th Age. The two examples shown at the top of this post are The Leviathan, described to have a “lobster-esque body with the torso and head of a woman, braided beard and eyes without pupils,” and an “11 year old sorcerer boy with ties to the Elf King.”
We were able to work on suggestions like these at PAX because the “commission craze” hasn’t really caught on there like it has at ECCC. At the Comic Con word is out that artists are willing to do sketches for money…surprise, surprise. The pre-order concept has been a popular solution for the artists who want to do more commissions than they can accomplish in a single weekend.
Thank you, and I hope to see you in Seattle!
Devil of the Fangs: “When the Blessed Emperor pacified the Midland Sea, most of the terrible giants of the deeps swam out into the Iron Sea. But some of the great krakens moved onto land. They converted their deep magic into river magic and became the river devils, armored squid-like monstrosities capable of heaving themselves from one river to the next, always avoiding their ancient home. The very worst of the river devils made deals with the Diabolist to become devils in truth. The most terrifying river devil of this age is the Devil of the Fangs. The Devil torpedoes through the river networks that give it its name in a squid-like form before heaving itself onto land with tentacles shape-changed into taloned arms.”
General Ironicus, one of the backers of 13 True Ways, was able to generously offer his support at the Diabolist Pledge Level. The illustration above is the preliminary sketch of his monster that has been seamlessly integrated into the 13th Age universe. These are the final days for the successfully funded 13 True Ways kickstarter and therefore the final opportunity to be directly involved in the creative side of the book. Imagine the street cred you’ll get when all the kids are playing the hot new game 13th Age, and you can brush your knuckles against your sports jacket and say you personally contributed to the 13th Age universe. Kickstarter…where dreams become reality. Wait a minute, I’m proselytizing 13th Age not Kickstarter, but in this case the degrees of separation are minor. Many thanks to those who helped fund the book, and thanks for your consideration as we attempt to meet our stretch goals.
Here’s the pencil sketch of the Devil of Fangs before I started working on it in Photoshop:
If you want to read more about the conception of this monstrosity go here: Kickstarter Update #12.
The 13th Age crew will be out in force at PAX Prime! If you’re attending, we invite you to…
Stop by our table: We’ll be on 3rd floor of the Washington State Convention Center, right in front of rooms 305 and 306. We’ll be easy to find: look for the big Archmage and Diabolist banners.The table will be open 10 AM – 10 PM Friday & Saturday / 10 AM – 5 PM on Sunday.
You can see a preview of the book’s layout and get a first look the 13th Age: Forge of Heroes Facebook game.
Play 13th Age: GMs including Rob Heinsoo and developer Rob Watkins will be running two-hour 13th Age demo games at Indie RPGs on Demand (WSCC rooms 305 and 306)
- Friday & Saturday 10 AM- midnight
- Sunday 10 AM – 4 PM
Get a 13th Age art print signed by artists Lee Moyer and Aaron McConnell, and maybe a quick sketch. Prints are for sale at the Gamma Ray Games booth. Here’s when Aaron and Lee will be at the table:
- Aaron: Friday 2-4
- Lee and Aaron: Saturday 2-4
Lee: Sunday 10-11Unfortunately, Lee had to leave PAX early and won’t be signing today
Their illustrations for 13th Age are in display in The Art of Roleplaying Games exhibition at Krab Jab studios. RSVP at the link for the Artist Mixer on August 30th.
Attend our panels at the at the Red Lion Hotel Tabletop Theater (San Juan Room):
- “13th Age, Dungeon World and More: Old School RPGs With Modern Design.”
Friday 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Sage LaTorra and Adam Koebel will talk about how dungeon crawling RPGs can benefit from advances in rules and storytelling tech. That’s a lot of awesome designers in one room. You probably don’t want to miss it.
- “I am Startup and So Can You, America: Designing and Publishing on a Ramen Budget”
Sunday 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Game pros Luke Crane (Mouse Guard, Burning Wheel), Wolfgang Baur (Kobold Quarterly, Midgard Campaign Setting), Chad Dylan Long (13th Age for Facebook) and Jay Schneider (Fire Opal Media) will hose their audience down with numbers, facts and funny anecdotes about self-publishing that will ensure you never want to make or publish anything ever.
The Prince of Shadows is part thief, part trickster, and part assassin. To some he is a hero; to others a villain. He has squandered the riches of the dwarves, murdered the hopes of a dragon, and plundered the dreams of a god. His exploits have changed the world, but none can tell you his ultimate goals or motives. –From the 13th Age icon teaser description.
The Prince of Shadows, our final icon. Who doesn’t love an international man of mystery? I do, and I certainly love how Lee Moyer painted this piece. I’m hesitant to post my pencils, because it makes me look like a slacker, but there’s a lot to be said for the less-is-more philosophy when it comes to evocative illustration. As I see it, RPG art is meant to stimulate the imaginations of those playing the game, and shadows can be useful in that endeavor. Speaking of RPG art, I’m delighted to announce that select pieces of interior art from 13th Age will be included in a show at Krab Jab Studio in Seattle. I plan to attend the reception on August 30th as it coincides with the weekend of PAX, but the show goes up August 11th. Here are the details. And here’s the promotional flyer:
Here are my comparatively uneventful pencils for the Prince of Shadows. (I’m glad Lee used his imagination!)
Here are some early thumbnails before we decided the Prince should go play outside.
And now a little teaser of things to come! Amidst this sea of thumbnails for the interior art of 13th Age (reduced to maddeningly illegible sizes) you’ll find the thumbnail for an illustration that relates to the Prince of Shadows. Check back for more excitement in the coming weeks as we rev up for the official release of 13th Age.
“The Elf Queen rules the Court of Stars, the one place where wood elves, dark elves, and high elves come together as peers and allies instead of as rivals or enemies. Honed by centuries of experience, the Queen’s innate magic at least equals the Archmage’s spells.”–From the 13th Age icon teaser description.
I am left with the final two Icons for my behind-the-illustration posts, and evidently I’ve been reluctant to finish them off (astute readers may have noticed that postings were delayed for two weeks). But there are so many 13th Age illustrations yet to be revealed that I need not hesitate. The show is just beginning, in fact!
The Elf Queen is Lee Moyer’s favorite icon, and I think that passion is easily recognized in his digital painting. She’s a wonder to behold, and if Lee hadn’t already claimed her she would probably be my favorite illustration — but I’m going to be a tease and say that next week’s icon is my favorite.
The Elf Queen was another icon that took some “ratcheting up” on my end. The progression of thumbnail to final pencils ends up looking like a narrative of the elf queen from adolescence to queen. Lee and I had a chuckle over the thumbnail of the “schoolgirl” elf queen that I knew wasn’t going to work, but submitted because she was just so darn cute! Take a look at the thumbnail and try to tell me she’s not about to burst into song. She’s the Snow White of elfdom in that stage, but as you can see her true form is much closer to The Queen, minus several degrees of vanity, one would hope.
My approach to detailing the alien threats and adversaries of Razed was inspired by Ken Hite’s multifaceted approach to the Mythos in Trail of Cthulhu. Each style of enemy is not a single vision of alien menace but a category of force containing a variety of different interpretations of a core idea. Some of those categories are broader than others.
On the page, each enemy force exists as evocative words and myriad options. In the art for Razed, I wanted to put the central ideas behind each force into the hands of a few artists and let them do concept art that built on and expanded those ideas visually, adding dimension to them and increasing the number of options available for Razed GMs and players to use when rendering these monsters in their minds. Part of Razed involves investigating the source and cause of the apocalypse so that you can survive—or fight it.
If we had one single truth to what this or that enemy force wanted or was like inside its armor, you could just read the book and have those answers spoiled for you. Instead, I wanted each instance, each campaign of the game to involve different answers to core questions, so that players knew sort of where they were headed but not what awaited them when they got there.
It’s like how, in some fantasy campaigns, you know there might be orcs and dragons and trolls, but you don’t know quite what they’re like in this campaign. Razed facilitates that by offering immediate and tangible solutions that GMs can use directly, sow as rumors, or use as inspiration for their campaign’s and mystery’s own truths.
What you have here an artist’s vision of the alien force called the Crusaders, as brought to scary, wonderful life by Steven Sanders. What is this thing? Is it biomechanoid or somehow undead? Does it want to kill us or convert us? Is this particular model here to communicate, study, or destroy? Do you hear the buzz and the tiny pops as its hover drive carries it through the smoke and humidity in the air or does it blink in and out of sight as it glides silently through the ruins of your hometown? Whose blood is that on its sturdy shell?
With Sanders’ artwork in my mind, I go back to the text for the Crusaders to add in options and dimensions for them that didn’t occur to me in prose alone. The text influences the art influences the text… and it all leads back to you, the players, who take our concepts and render them in your minds’ eyes through play.