Before I purchased my first miniature, my concept of tabletop RPG “bling” was best evidenced by my collection of gaming accessories. With a total value of $4.62, this collection consisted of four items: an 80-page college bound spiral notebook, with several pages of unfinished homework in the front; a yellow #2 pencil, with a complete set of dental imprints; and a set of polyhedral dice, minus the d12. It was with this paltry arsenal that I marched– uphill both ways, to the best of my recollection – into my earliest gaming sessions.
Perhaps this is why the sudden acquisition of 162 unpainted miniatures came as such a shock.
Finding oneself buried in an avalanche of miniatures isn’t an overnight phenomenon. Having traded my collection of Magic the Gathering cards – their value today, I don’t care to think about – for a box full of tattered rule books and modules, the concept of using miniatures didn’t exist for me until 1991. That was the year I purchased the Dungeons & Dragons Black Box (my first store-bought RPG). Filled with a collection of stand up paper miniatures and a full-color map, it was somewhat of a short-lived revelation. While it provided some opportunities for tactical combat, it had limited use beyond a few short sessions.
While my first encounter with miniatures was lackluster, my second was awe-inspiring. Delivered into my subconscious through a full-page advertisement in Dragon magazine, this was the first time that I had heard of Dwarven Forge (Master Maze at the time). Fortunately for me at the time, painted resin terrain wasn’t something that I could purchase, even irresponsibly (despite a generous on-and-off allowance). The advertisement faded from my memory well before I had disposable income to waste (That’s a figure of speech. It isn’t a waste, it is awesome.).
Then Dwarven Forge had their first Kickstarter campaign.
I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to purchase two “Dream Toys” from my childhood. The first was a high-end Traxxis radio-controlled car. The second was Dwarven Forge terrain. Since I didn’t own any miniatures at the time, the second came with an (extremely) bourgeois, (embarrassingly) first-world problem… which brings me back to the sudden acquisition of 162 unpainted miniatures, and the fact that I’ll need to learn how to paint miniatures.
Since the Reaper Bones 2 Kickstarter is responsible for the sudden influx of of miniatures (that’s right, it is Reaper’s fault, not mine), I’ll be starting with advice from their website on supplies, and painting advice from someone who survived the first Bones Kickstarter. I’ll be compiling a collection of other resources, from tutorials to painting services, from the perspective of a complete beginner here as I attempt to paint, purchase, or otherwise procure a collection of miniatures for my Dwarven Forge terrain.
You might know Ed Lavallee from his work as a graphic designer, but he’s also a published author working on numerous comic projects. Let’s pick his brain, shall we?
Ed, what came first: graphic design or comics?
Comics all the way. Comics have been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. I started out pretty young just looking at the pictures, then reading, then collecting. Comics have always inspired and amazed me. Definitely influenced me in making my decision to study art and design in college. It was during my time at Stephen F. Austin State that I started writing comics. I guess for me the two have always gone hand in hand. Kind of a no brainier really.
Would you ever choose only one or do they somehow complement each other?
The two have always complemented each other. The design side of things is actually what got me my first pro comic gig as a letterer. I lettered “PARADIGM” and an issue of “EXPATRIATE” from Image. If I could make a living just writing comics I would, but design provides me with the glamorous lifestyle I’ve become accustomed to.
As a kid and teenager what was your favorite activity?
As a kid I was always outside playing in the woods by my house, building forts, riding bikes. I had a very active imagination. Loved to be outside adventuring.
Did you begin to show your artistic talents early?
I don’t know if it would be considered talent, but I always loved to draw and create when I was young. Whether it’s comics, animation, drawing, film, Art has always been there for me in some form or fashion.
What was the first project that made you realize you wanted to be part of this graphic world?
Not sure I can pinpoint a single project that led me on my path into graphics specifically. It was more out of a need to make a decent living doing something I enjoyed. I was originally a sculpture major in college, but I could never see myself making a living as a fine art sculptor. I changed my major to graphic design in my junior year and finished college with enough credit hours to have a double major. Been working in design ever since, publishing mostly. The rest is history.
What about references? Do you have any favorite artists that inspire you?
Da Vinci and the artists of the Italian Renaissance. Mike Mignola… I’m a huge fan of the Hellboy Universe he has created. Frank Frazetta. Quentin Tarantino. Martin Scorsese.
Is there a project that touched you in a deeper way?
“REVERE: Revolution in Silver” will always be my baby. It was my first professionally published work as a writer.
How does it feel to create a brand image, a logo, like the new one for the “Shotguns and SorceryRPG”?
Working on the S&S logo has been fun and exciting. It’s pretty cool to think that the work I did on the logo will be on all future S&S products. I’m looking forward to seeing everything take shape with the upcoming KS launch for the S&S RPG.
Is the process of finding the right logo for a brand straightforward or is it too subjective?
I try and use the same approach every time. Sometimes it is pretty straight forward, other times it is more of a creative evolution. Each step adding a little something in the process to get you to the final finished version.
What is your method: meticulous research or diving right into experimental sketches?
I think all projects are unique in their own way. For some, the lightbulb goes off right away and I can jump right in. In other instances it’s lots of research, sketching, and asking questions of the team/client involved.
What can we expect to see from you in the near future: graphic design projects or comics?
Well, I have an active hand in the majority of the projects set up here at Outland. We just finished up the S&S logo, and an RPG supplement. The S&S Kickstarter is launching soon. So a lot is happening on the design front. I have a few different comic projects as well, “REVERE vol. 2″, “POPSTAR ASSASSIN”, and “BLACKLANDS” are all in the works as we speak. Exciting times are on the horizon, stay tuned!
Thanks Ed for shedding some light on your work!
Tabletop roleplaying games face a multitude of barriers in any attempt to be taken seriously as an art form. The first of these barriers is reaching an audience wide enough that critics outside of the tabletop RPG community will argue their status. What We Can Learn from Video Games: Tabletop Roleplaying Games as Art discussed several approaches to expanding the medium to reach a larger audience. Here are four tabletop RPGs that have expanded the medium
Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game
Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game is set in the fictional worlds of Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber. Mechanics for the Amber DRPGs conflict resolution involves comparing four attributes –Safety, Strength, Endurance, Warfare–the highest attribute wins. Removing the randomness of dice rolls increased the level or roleplaying in the system, shifting focus away from conflict and towards what leads to those conflicts.
Prince Valiant: the Storytelling Game
Prince Valiant: the Storytelling Game was written by Greg Stafford as a game for novice players. Based upon the Prince Valiant comics and published in 1989 by Chaosium, its simple rules and art design also made it a game that was accessible to younger players. Significantly focused on the narrative aspects of roleplaying, Prince Valiant used only two attributes and a selection of skills that ranged from agilty to alchemy.. Differentiating itself from other narrative games Prince Valiant utilized these attributes and skills for both simple and complex resolution rules.
Dogs in the Vineyard
Dogs in the Vineyard is a narrative RPG that utilizes game mechanics to explore characters beliefs and desires when faced with questions of morality. Written by D Vincent Baker, the award-winning RPG places characters in an imagined frontier setting based (loosely) on the early years the LDS Church in the west. Mechanics for town creation helped create moral frameworks for characters to interact with, inserting a morality into the game that set the system apart.
Dread is a horror RPG that uses a simple mechanic that, when one considers the game’s theme, is exceedingly elegant. Winner of the 2006 Ennie Award for Innovation it is sometimes referred to as “the Jenga RPG.” Dread requires players to pull blocks from a Jenga tower as a form of action resolution. Mirroring the progression of horror films, the fear of players increases as the game progresses, eventially leading to the characters deaths.
These series of posts will discuss tabletop roleplaying games as a medium for artistic expression. The first article in the series can be found here: Why Roleplaying Games “Don’t Get No Respect” The second article in this series can be found here: What We Can Learn from Video Games: Tabletop Roleplaying Games as Art.
Welcome to our site relaunch! It’s been a long time coming, and we’ve made a few important changes to our organization. Here’s what you need to know now:
- Our new site is streamlined to combine our creative and publishing services. This gives us the opportunity to highlight our own creative projects alongside client projects. We have many to share.
- We’re officially in the digital publishing business! We can’t wait to showcase our lineup of incredible authors and artists. More details to come.
- We’ve added two amazing team members to our roster: Susana Grilo & Edward Lavallee. Susana is a social media expert who excels in publishing, transmedia, crowdfunding, and film. Ed is a stellar graphic designer and comics writer specializing in print publishing. We can’t wait to see what they can do.
- To cope with our growing pains, we’re working with Aaron Boerger at Defined Ventures. He’s an innovative business consultant dedicated to helping entrepreneurs get organized. With Aaron’s help, we’ve become a stronger, more efficient outfit. We recommend his services to anyone who is ready to take a small business to the next level.
Much has changed, but the important things remain the same. We’re still dedicated to bringing projects to life with our quality creative services: art for hire, storyboards, colorwork, and more. We’re still passionate about telling stories in fresh, innovative ways. We look forward to meeting new creators, recruiting new talent, and publishing the best new authors.