Designing a tabletop wargame…come and join us!

bridge with red sky-game cover

We’re building something fantastic and new. You’ve got to be part of this! Hear me out…

Tabletop wargames like Warmachine and Warhammer 40K have a lot of PRO’s: The strategy and tactics stretch your mind to be inventive and surprising. You have to anticipate and react to shifting conditions and take advantage of the terrain. It’s primal war in a bottle.

However, although the miniatures look amazing laid out in full glory on rolling hills or nestled in masonry ruins on the table, it takes a lot of $$$ and time and talent to make that happen. All too often, the aesthetic you saw in the pictures doesn’t turn out that way on your own table.

And the endless battles…some of us are a little more intrigued by the lore and fluff behind games than the games themselves, so comparing a wargame with something designed to tell stories like Dungeons & Dragons can weaken your enthusiasm a bit. I mean, WHY are they fighting this war, right? And again. And again.

Trading card games like Magic: The Gathering bring their own PRO’s: Incredible focus on lore and shifting mechanics, gorgeous and inspiring art, creative engines uniquely geared to tell stories, and a maddeningly well-designed game. Seriously, go listen to this discussion on how Wizards Of The Coast goes about their worldbuilding – it’s an impressive operation!

And the art on Magic cards is typically the thing that people mention as drawing them into the game in the first place; and it’s amazing art, no doubt. A couple of artists you might look into from their usual suspects are Richard Wright and Adam Paquette.

However, Magic brings a lot of complexity to it, and a lot of story baggage. Pick up one of their art books like the recent one based in a massive city called Ravnica and you’re bombarded with lore that, while interesting, is difficult to relate to and to remember. The game itself has morphed into a pay-to-play monstrosity where the guy who spent the most on the more powerful deck will often win the game. And even in a casual format, it’s still just a card game and doesn’t have the feel of staring down a tabletop canyon with a horde of miniatures rushing at you where you hadn’t anticipated.

We started asking ourselves at Grailrunner, is it possible to combine some of the best of these?

  • A tabletop wargame based on trading cards that are placed on terrain like miniatures would be, with consequences for the orientation and placement of each
  • Unique characters coming alive on cards with gorgeous artwork and card mechanics that affect gameplay in a way meaningful to the overall story
  • An over-arching narrative that makes sense of the series of battles, who’s fighting and why, and what the consequences might be either way
  • Every single character, weapon, and vehicle has a backstory. Nothing is given as plain vanilla fluff. Even the scratches on a cannon barrel came from somewhere.
  • Adaptable narrative and game mechanics that allow for a continuing storyline that is easy to relate to and understand

That’s the manifesto. We’ve got an initial set of rules and some strawman cards for two factions. Playtesting has been fun – games last about an hour. It moves quickly, and shifts dramatically. Luck is an element, as you draw each turn. Strategy is more important.

Throughout this year, we’ll be testing things out with you here or with volunteers. We’ll post the rules and some cards soon to get your feedback. Keep an eye on this page for updates.

If there’s enough interest, we will likely do a Kickstarter and initial print run. We don’t intend to become a gaming company though, so let’s keep our eye on the ball. The entire point of this site and Grailrunner’s vision is to inspire better fantasy and science fiction. This experiment just struck us as an interesting means of doing just that.

Let us know what you think and your own thoughts on combining trading card and tabletop wargames in a meaningful way. We’re really curious about your first take on this! Either way, keep this is mind…

Dreams are engines. Be fuel.

 

 

 

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First Saturday Sci-Fi Interview

bennudriti

Just wanted to highlight an interview with our showcase author, Brian Bennudriti appearing in ‘First Saturday Sci-Fi’ by Tegan Maus, author of The Chronicles Of Tucker Littlefield series by Tirgearr Publishing.

Excerpt:

Tegon: “What do you think makes for good Sci-Fi ?”

Brian: “Dialogue makes or breaks any book for me. The slickest concepts, the best setup and background, even an interesting hook in the first few pages – that’s all target practice if the people speaking sound like they’re telling me the plot. I can close a book two pages in if it’s hollow and obvious conversation. On the flip side, somebody like Nick Hornby can make the words pop (I know, not sci-fi, let me make my point). RA Lafferty and Neil Gaiman come to mind, although I pay close attention to Joss Whedon and Kevin Smith’s comics as a model to follow for dialogue. Humor’s okay, even in tense situations when characters are supposed to be afraid because that’s real. If you ask people their favorite bits in movies or books, more often it’s the softer character interactions than blow-out battle scenes.

“I also very much appreciate a strong, innovative, but simple concept. Asimov’s Foundation series, and Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama and ’Foundations Of Paradise, are standard-bearers for this. I’m just spit balling here, let’s look at the kind of one-liner punch I’m talking about.

“Robert Metzger’s Picoverse: A lab at Georgia Tech accidentally created a sub-microscopic universe, so they’re going inside.

“Greg Bear’s Blood Music: The fellow that created self-aware biological cells injects them into himself.

“Barrington Bayley’s The Fall Of Chronopolis: An empire that spans across time rather than space is besieged by a mysterious enemy from frontiers in its future.

“Of course there’s much more to a classic than a blow-out idea; but something just feels right if I’m trolling an old bookstore or library or surfing Amazon and see a one-liner concept that makes me stop and scratch my chin. I live for that. It begs questions; and I want to see what they do with that idea…see where it goes. That’s the whole reason I read science fiction, to feel my mind stretched and to be inspired!”

Read the full interview and catch some exciting updates on his work at:

First Saturday Sci-Fi

And maybe go try this one by Tegon, available at Amazon.

little people

 

The Prisoner: Let’s Make A More Satisfying Ending, Okay?

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“Who is Number One?”

I’m just sitting here re-watching the 1967 series, The Prisoner. It’s as fascinating now as it was the last five or six times I’ve done this. Please tell me you know what I’m talking about, because it’s amazing. If not, forget this and go make that happen. Anyway, although the show itself is brilliant, the ending is a bit of a flub. I thought I’d offer you an alternative narrative for what’s happening overall in the series and how it ends.

I know what you’re thinking. Number One is actually the dark side of Number Six’s personality, the dark side of us all. We’re all prisoners; and freedom is an illusion. When Number Six pulls off One’s mask, it’s himself. Let’s set all that aside for a moment and see what else could be happening, all right?

There is no Number One at all. It’s a boogeyman used to break promising former spies with the intelligence and skillset to be effective at breaking other spies. Number Two’s function is to either reveal Village citizen secrets or determine if they will reveal them. The people we see as Number Two were themselves entirely broken and driven mad enough to serve a short sentence in the role, threatened by the menacing phantom Number One.

If you successfully break your potential successor, in this case Number Six, you’re promised freedom when they take over from you. If you fail, you’re handed over to the terrible Number One. That’s why they keep disappearing, because they snapped. There are terrible mind-altering drugs and techniques at play in this awful place, uniquely and efficiently suited for shattering minds. It happens. We need this system because we want the most effective Number Two possible to optimize the Village’s purpose – to reveal secrets.

“But the phones rang! Number One spoke to those guys.” Actually, no phones actually rang. Hallucinations and conversations with empty air. Every Number Two we meet is schizophrenic. Designed to be so, in fact. That’s kind of the point.

Only a single Number Two, the one played by Leo McKern, was able to emerge from his psychosis long enough to take the office again. Maybe he asked for another chance in a moment of clarity. He lost his battle in the end though, in a devastating confrontation with the unbreakable Number Six.

Number Six realized all this. He knew by the end there was no Number One. Either a single government or a cabal of the Illuminati from multiple governments was running this place, with no single head. It was a factory for secrets, sold or distributed. And he needed to shatter it. But he maintained the charade to lead them on to their climactic attempt to drive him insane and have him take over as the most effective Number Two yet. Fallout.

Fallout was a madhouse of nonsense, engineered as a frothing schizophrenic nightmare and typical of the final blow designed to break the new Number Two. Number Six knew all this and played along, to at least get off the Village and back into London. Even there, back in his apartment, he knew there were more games to be played with these people.

He would be an entirely different type of Number Two. He would run a much larger village, playing along and forging new rules. He would plant secrets, alter them, seed them to muck up the system. All the while, no one would suspect he’s destroying them from the inside.

He’ll reveal them all. It will just take a little patience.

Be seeing you.

Concept Art For Sci-Fi Authors

Harbor and vortex cruiser

We’ve talked about concept art in science fiction before. Honestly, the power of this literary form and genre to light fires and knock down walls – to turn the world upside-down – it’s just so rich that it was born for concept art. New technology in rendering software and 3D art packages, ready-made assets you can drop into place, these things all make it possible for authors with a little free time and initiative to at least put something down in visible form that was previously only imagined.

We’re exploring this alternative way of interacting with folks in a few different ways. One is the Grailrunner Twitter account where you’ll find hundreds of science fiction themed art pieces from some incredibly talented folks. A lot of people tell us they’re using these as inspiration for flash fiction or for their own works. Somebody with the handle ‘Kungfuest’ comes to mind, who posts little flashes entirely in German based on the image. Very cool.

Our Facebook page  is a place for original flash fiction based on images which we either re-post from other artists or which we’ve developed in-house. Feel free to submit to us if you can keep it as clean, inspiring science-fiction under 150 words and include the image that inspired it.

The image topping this post is a Grailrunner original, portraying the towering vortex cruisers from TEARING DOWN THE STATUES. It’s a fascinating new way to engage people with the Salt Mystic series to have them comment on the visuals rather than vaguely discuss some cherry-picked concept from the book that stuck with them. These massive hydro-foil vessels balanced by manufactured whirlwinds only appear briefly in the book; but they seemed striking in our imaginations.

‘The Shenna’ is a low-riding dirigible where much of the book takes place. When I dreamed that thing up, it had a deck on the back where the characters could interact and watch the cornfields and battlefield ruins drift by, with small brass-colored steampunky balloons and a weird figurehead on the bow. The figurehead told its own story (for another day) by portraying a tiny frightened girl holding out an icicle like a sword.

mogmogs in fog

Called ‘mogs’, these light vessels play pivotal roles in the book – both in lighter character moments high on the tops of buildings in a burning city as well as the climax of the final battle scene amid remote-controlled tornadoes.

statue in lake3

The world of the Salt Mystic is riddled with ruined statues and gargantuan monuments. That’s the whole aesthetic. This scene is the sort of thing you’ll come across – a mysterious statue half-submerged and its origin unknown. People take cruises out to get close (and some dive off the top).

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The most important location in the book is a very old mountain city perched on the plateau of granite and gneiss cliffs. It’s overseen by a colossus sculpted into the face of the highest cliff; and a waterfall rushes through his outstretched fingers.

scene 4

Cannons firing ball lightning, city-sized tanks of a thousand souls, and artificial intelligence tornadoes color the battles of the Salt Mystic series. The tornadoes actually have entrained steel shrapnel and other shrapnel which we really need to include in future pieces. This work doesn’t do it justice.

bridge with red sky

The creepy, fascinating temple of the world-shaking Augur, where seekers have gone for two thousand years for insights into how to transform their lives in accordance with the Salt Mystic Philosophy We’ve gone inside only in brief snapshots and only hinted at who’s waiting inside. In the second book, we’ll go deep and watch this whole thing explode wide open.

I hope you enjoyed the gallery tour. Let us know if you’re interested in sending some original art in for re-posting, or some flash fiction of your own. Also, keep the comments and kind words coming however you reach us.

It’s a blast to share in unleashing the power of science fiction. Till next time, guys.

Dreams are engines. Be fuel.

 

Jorge Luis Borges And The Infinite Library

borges-library

You may know if you’ve been here before how we feel at Grailrunner about blowing out walls in your imagination, squeezing some light into the cracks and crevices where amazing things can happen…if you think differently.

That’s the whole reason for this site, in fact. I mean, read our manifesto.

So just go to Amazon and buy this now if you don’t have it. Then come back. It’s the collected fictions of Jorge Luis Borges. Looks like this below – Start with ‘The Garden Of Forking Paths’ section.

borges-cover

Borges was Argentinian and an earth-shaking writer of fantasy.  In his autobiographical notes, he said, “If I were asked to name the chief event in my life, I should say my father’s library.” You’ll find in this tome a story called ‘The Library Of Babel’ where he carries the idea of a large library to its logical extreme: all possible books in an infinite space.

Here’s wikipedia’s summary:

“Borges’ narrator describes how his universe consists of an enormous expanse of adjacent hexagonal rooms, each of which contains the bare necessities for human survival—and four walls of bookshelves. Though the order and content of the books are random and apparently completely meaningless, the inhabitants believe that the books contain every possible ordering of just 25 basic characters (22 letters, the period, the comma, and space). Though the vast majority of the books in this universe are pure gibberish, the library also must contain, somewhere, every coherent book ever written, or that might ever be written, and every possible permutation or slightly erroneous version of every one of those books. The narrator notes that the library must contain all useful information, including predictions of the future, biographies of any person, and translations of every book in all languages. Conversely, for many of the texts, some language could be devised that would make it readable with any of a vast number of different contents.” (wikipedia article ‘The Library Of Babel’)

Honestly, friend, that’s everything great about Borges right there. He takes a concept, stretches it in every direction to make of it something fascinating, then sneaks around to look at it from the other side. I wish I could drink coffee with him.

He reveled in smacking you with a twist concept at the end, often with his final sentence. Read ‘The Circular Ruins’ to see what I mean. It’s super short, you’ll love it. Also, try ‘The Approach To Al-mu’tasim’ – in that one, the blow comes in the extreme last sentence, in a footnote even! I’m sorry, I just find that kind of cerebral twist fascinating.

In ‘Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius’, the conceit is that of a random quote from a friend. The narrator asks where it came from, triggering a surreal search for the mysterious (maybe fictional?) geographic origin of the guy that said it in the first place. A flip occurs at the end that turns the whole thing on its side. This is why you read Borges.

I won’t go on, because you should be reading him now, not me. The idea, as always for writers, is study him. Read his method, his approach. See how he leads you along with the framework, then pay close attention to how he stretches everything to an extreme or turns it around at the very end. It’s high-minded and a thinking person’s game.

And Borges gets in your head. He’ll stick with you long after.

Let us know what you think!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Ruins Massacre: conclusion

temple_ruins_by_jonasdero-d5ej8nc

Yeah, we’re at part 4 and the conclusion of an experiment in immersive storytelling. Scroll down or click as appropriate for the previous editions, or just catch up quickly in the recap page.

Part 1          Part 2           Part 3

The idea was this: construct a fantasy story based solely on what happens on a wargame table. Let the architecture of the tabletop terrain be the mystery arc; and the let the game mechanics (dice rolls, the rules of play, positioning of miniatures, strategies and tactics) drive the narrative. I went in cold, assembling the foundations of a ruined black temple on the tabletop and deploying the two armies on either side. I posed the mystery, not knowing its resolution:

“A mysterious black temple in the forest is said to hold powerful singing runes. It’s in ruins; but its two courtyards are separated by a door-less and featureless central wall. Why would a temple be split into two equal halves with no access between them?”

Two armies arrived at the same time, a force of electrical knights known as Cygnar, and an undead and sorcery-driven army called Cryx.

Read on to see what happened. Click on this link if you prefer a pdf.

Black Ruins Massacre pt 4.

The recap so far…

page 1

Cryx’s Bane Witch was in a bad place and outnumbered at the end of part 3. She did the only things she could do to try and turn the momentum in her favor…

page 2

page 3

So Agathia’s sorcery and ferocious boldness granted her more of Major Maddox’s blood; but none of it has been enough. Cygnar’s return blows will be terrible.

page 4

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The Bane Witch is powerful, yes…even deadly in close combat. But she is overwhelmingly outnumbered and outflanked. Cygnar is closing in for what will apparently devolve into a war of attrition and running, relying on long range sorcery.

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Unbelievably, Agathia bets it all on another suicide run! She races to the central wall, vanishes like a shadow, and appears in the very heart of Cygnar’s strongest forces. Yet, she’s in range of Major Maddox, who was already wounded by the Deathripper’s previous sneak attack and the gang attack by the Satyxis Raiders.

page 7

Sorcery wins the day! Unaided by her two remaining troops, the Bane Witch’s sneak attack and mad dash worked. But the temple wasn’t done with her…

page 8

And that’s a wrap!

I honestly had no idea going in why that temple was split. It’s just how the foam pieces fit together into a pattern on the table. Looked cool. Also didn’t know who would win the fight or what tactics would be necessary. Each turn, I just hit the other side as hard as I could with everything I had. Maybe there was no surprise element; but there was definitely ferocity.

This was intriguing. And it was a fun diversion through the holidays downtime. The game mechanics made the story line a bit frustrating at times, when I got hooked on an idea I wanted to see play out and couldn’t quite make that happen. But no cheating, man. No cheating. I just let it roll.

Actually, I was happy to see the Bane Witch win this one. That very much fleshed out the resolution nicely when I dreamed up the answer for the mysterious two halves of the temple. Not sure what the answer would have been had Major Maddox won.

I really appreciate the kind feedback and suggestions. Thanks for all the interest. We probably won’t do any more of these unless you guys really push since it was just an experiment. Glad you had fun, though.

Happy New Year!

Black Ruins Massacre Part 3

temple_ruins

You’ve found part 3 of an experiment in immersive storytelling where we’re letting the mechanics of a popular tabletop steampunk wargame drive the narrative within a given framework. Part 1 and part 2 are available; but you can catch up by just reading on as well.

If you prefer the pdf, just click here. Black Ruins Massacre part 3

But so far in the Black Ruins…

pic 1

Last time when Cryx’s cackling and maniac Satyxis Raiders stormed like ghosts through the central wall in a diagonal blitz, surprising the Stormguard, it seemed enough to seize momentum and clear the western courtyard and pave the way for a rear attack against Cygnar’s Major Maddox. However…

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Actually, the Raiders had split their forces last time, sending several of their number directly through the central wall to help the lone Slayer in the eastern courtyard. They couldn’t reach him in time though…

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The Raiders in the eastern courtyard finally reached mighty Ironclad…

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Meanwhile, Agathia makes a bold and sinister move drawing first blood against Major Maddox in a genius stroke of sorcery…

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But it isn’t enough…

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Despite Agathia’s bold strike, the momentum of the slaughter has turned to Cygnar…

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And poor Reaper, who had gleefully perched on the central wall so eager to hook and snag a hapless victim found himself a prominent and helpless target with Gun Mages racing towards him…

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And that’s where we are. I’ve allowed the battle to play out, just following the game mechanics and trying to stay as objective as possible each turn, playing out the most ruthless tactics and strategies available at the time. When I’m playing a side, there is no mercy or hedging. It’s ruthless, till I step the other side of the table and have to switch sides again.

Soon, I’ll have to return to the mystery of the black ruins and that weird central wall, the mysterious statues that appeared from the fog. (I actually needed the time to make the terrain piece that will drive that part of the story). It’s not interesting to me to have something relating to the story arc affect the battle though, so we’ll have to see how that fits back in as things progress.

I appreciate the feedback and interest from so many of you, thanks for that! Glad you’re enjoying it.

See you next time!

 

The Black Ruins Massacre: Part Two

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Click and read part 1, dude. You’ve come across an experiment in immersive storytelling, relying on the game mechanics of a popular tabletop wargame to frame a steampunk and fantasy story. Not fan fiction, just a different mechanism for deciding what happens as the general plot unfolds.

This is part 2, where the mystery of the black ruins deepens and first blood is drawn. Read the pdf for part 2 if you prefer that to the images below. Warmachine game 4 – pt 2

Before the fateful clash at the central wall, mysterious and terrifying statues suddenly appear…

Page 1

Unfazed by the mystery and unable to investigate when slaughter awaits them, Cygnar entrenches for the Cryx assault, poised in a defensive cluster on the west and protected from Raider charges on the east.

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Gun Mages advance and draw first blood!

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Undead Bane Warriors pass like ghosts through the wall and attack. Satyxis Raiders, magically enabled to do the same ghostly maneuver, make a surprise move and split their forces, four of whom attack the Stormguard from behind.

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Another clash brews on the east side of the temple, with six Raiders and a Slayer only steps away from Cygnar’s most dangerous weaponry, and a rushing Reaper with its harpoon raised high atop the wall.

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Honestly, I didn’t see the diagonal maneuver by the Raiders coming until it came. At this point, I’m excited to see that Reaper blast somebody from the top of that wall and haul them up for a beating. And maybe those Raiders have a chance to gang up and do some damage on the warjacks. We’ll see about that.

And what’s going on with those statues, by the way? A ruined temple split into two parts suddenly overseen by statues of hideous entities that appears from thin air? Crazy.

See you next time.

 

 

Storytelling Through Warmachine: The Black Ruins Massacre

The idea of tabletop wargaming as a storytelling mechanism fascinates me. Stick with me on this, I’m trying something new here.

I don’t dig Chess; but I definitely get the attraction of having a gorgeous mahogany table in my living room where a long-running game of wits and strategy runs its course. Accordingly, as suited to a nerd such as myself, there will be steampunk killer robot miniatures and spellcasters instead of marble pawns and knights, all clashing around on grassy hills and ruins instead of placidly sitting on checkerboards. Cool, yeah?

Anyway, so Warmachine. Go look this one up. I’m not going to get into the details on it because I’ve sort of done that already here. What I wanted to share with you today is another experiment in immersive storytelling. I’ll play out the wargame over the next few weeks, hitting each side as hard as I can with all available options in turn. Dice and the game mechanics decide battle outcomes, while limitations and opportunities within the terrain influence the course of events. Dice rolls rule, no matter what I want to happen.

Here’s what’s happened so far…

Warmachine game 4 (here’s the pdf if you prefer that to the images below)

Page 2

Mysterious ruins of a long abandoned temple were discovered in a forest, its black masonry in rubble but for an inexplicable set of walls and four stairways. The stairs all led to the outer wall; but the central wall forms a barrier splitting the temple in two. But why would a temple be split in two?

The undead and sorcerous Cryx army, led by Bane Witch Agathia arrived first:

Agathea-horz

But the lightning-bearing Cygnar army appeared in the opposite arch of the temple soon after, led by the courageous and battle-hardened Major Beth Maddox.

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Cygnar deployed first, readying for a charge from the Bane Warriors…

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Cryx responds with an aggressive deployment…

Page 4

Cygnar advances and sets defensive positions…

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Cryx rushes again to look for first blood…only the central wall separates the two main forces.

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The rampaging Satyxis Raiders with barbed metal whips are at the wall, ready to receive a ghostly spell enabling them to rush through the masonry, while a Reaper races along the outer wall…

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And that’s where we are because I have work to do and have killed an entire morning doing this on a day off. Something’s going on with the wall that separates the two halves of this temple. That’s also where this big clash is about to happen. Crazy stuff, yeah?

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this. Let me know what you think.

See you next time.

 

Sometimes Ideas Are Born Whole

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Hey, did you ever have an idea come to you fully formed with very little clue where it came from? An idea that you thought was amazing, but it just showed up uninvited as a very welcome guest?

It happened to me a long time ago in a London hotel room one morning. My eyes popped open for no reason; and I could see a drawing on a white card: the side view of a futuristic vehicle that could ride up the side of vertical walls. It had ridged tires with flights on them at the ends of articulated arms like you’d see on an excavator. All of this, I assumed, made it easier for this vehicle to traverse uneven surfaces like a mountainside cliff or the outside ledges of a building. The vehicle had a name; and it even said so on the bottom of the imaginary card: mog.

The name came from a dream I had when I was 12 or 13 of a green horse named ‘Mog’ that rode me around my neighborhood. Was awesome, but I hadn’t thought of that dream in forever. Still don’t know what my head was doing that night to connect all this together and dream up this vehicle. However, I loved it. I sketched it as best I could (I’m no artist, unfortunately); and there it sat for years.

Flash forward – I bought my son a Christmas present one year of an ‘Air Hogs’ toy with a remote control car that had vaccum action to stick to the walls. Honestly, not a great toy; but it reminded me of that concept. The mog.

So when I finally got serious about my first book, ‘Tearing Down The Statues‘ I of course had all kinds of people riding these things. I made it central to the book because that’s the whole reason you write things, yeah? To bring these things into the world! In fact, there’s a battle scene on the sides of buildings that made me chuckle out loud as I was writing it because it was so much fun. For the big scenes at the end of the book, I added a mad and desperate dash of a small squad of mogs on a suicide mission. I mean, how could I not?

I’ve always wanted to visualize this thing somehow; and recently I had the opportunity in an unexpected way. Mainly because I’m a horrible procrastinator when it comes to writing. Seriously, I love doing it. I love having done it. Yet I chase shiny things in the tiny bit of free time I’m allowed.

Photoshop, Poser, and Zbrush are three pieces of software that go together pretty well if you have patience, a ridiculously restless imagination, and inadequate artistic skills. I took my first shot at a full visualization of the mog; and that’s the image included on this post. Be kind, I’m learning.

I built the cockpit and body of the mog in Zbrush by pulling in a ready made spaceship body from Poser’s content library as an ‘obj’ file. I tweaked the shape a bit, then started adding the legs as subtools based on deformed cubes. Still in Zbrush, I built the wheels by monkeying around with an extruded gear shape. Maybe not exactly what I saw in that flash of inspiration, but close!

That done, I imported (via the ‘Goz’ plugin) the file into Photoshop, combining it with a stock photo of the side of a mirrored building. It looked gray and fake and flat. Not cool.

The machinery texture on the front of the mog was also a stock image, warped in Photoshop to fit the space. I painted the headlight, side lights, and red stripe on a layer by themselves, then added a ‘layer style’ outer glow to make them pop. If I was a better artist, I’d have worked more on that stripe; but we’ll let that pass because I was digging what I was seeing by this point.

Mirrors everywhere, so I knew that had to be sorted out with reflections and shadows. The shadow was just another ‘layer style’ – drop shadows adjusted for their direction and opacity. I made the reflections by copying the mog layers, reversing them on a separate canvas, jacking down their opacity, and bringing them back in upside down. Had to layer mask to clear out the reflection from the lines between mirrors. Again, not Da Vinci; but serviceable.

I built the little guy in Poser based on some face and body morphs of the stock ‘James’ character in the software, moving the camera down to look up at him so it would seem like you’re staring up the side of that building.

I’m curious what you think, although this is all just for the sake of learning new skills and seeing something I believe I brought into the world come to life in a new way. And honestly, looking at this picture now, I wish I could have more fully formed ideas pop up on their own like this one did. It was an amazing experience.

And I’m a little jealous of that dude riding that thing!