Thursday, July 21, 2016

The look and feel of "Time of the Tarrasque"

My current Freeport campaign just needs one last session to wrap up, then I'll be taking a short break from GMing while another member of our group runs something for us. That will give me some time to recharge before we start my next Pathfinder campaign, the long-awaited "Time of the Tarrasque." However, I won't be completely idle during that time. It's been quite a while since my players created their characters, so I'll be trying to find time to talk with each of them so that everyone can refresh their memories and get a chance to tweak their stats. I also want to run some sort of prelude-type session with each player, so that we can work out some more background details, and determine how and why each of them are in the city of Zahallan when we start the campaign proper. (Two of my players need more of this than the others, because their characters come from well outside the starting area.)

I recently added an Inspiration page to the campaign wiki in order to share non-rules material that will help convey the look and feel of the game. So far I have created a few Pinterest boards for visual reference and inspiration for the game:

Lands of the Sun: Asasor is a sultanate of humans and halflings. Natives Asasorans of both races are dark-skinned, and the culture has an Arabian/Moorish look and feel. (Artwork of black halflings is hard to come by, so I've pinned several pictures of dark-skinned elves--not drow--to suggest possible looks for this nation's halflings.) The campaign begins in the desert frontier region, where orcs and hobgoblins are recurring threats, so I've included pictures of those races and other desert denizens. Our PCs will include two half-orcs and a human from Asasor or the nearby Lokoran Desert.

Fendorlis: One of our PCs will be a high elf from Fendorlis, the elven kingdom to the north of the desert. This nation was recently conquered by kobolds who serve dragons, so most of the survivors either fled the forest or remain there to carry on the resistance.

Thovalas: Thovalas is a matriarchal human empire on the northern continent. Thovalans are fair-skinned, and their culture is like Rome ruled by Amazons. Our one Thovalan PC is a half-elf, so I've suggested that her player look over the Fendorlis board as well.

I shared those boards with my players this week, and asked them to let me know if they want to use any of the pictures there as portraits for their characters. My wife has already picked this one for her half-orc inquisitor.

Working on these boards has reminded me yet again just much fantasy art out there is blatant cheesecake or fanservice. I've tried to minimize that in compiling these boards. I want the world and its characters to seem real, but things like absurdly impractical armor can easily break that illusion. It's even more difficult when you're trying to find decent pictures of Amazons! (Pun intended.)

I will continue to add to (and occasionally cull) these Pinterest boards as our preparations for the game continue, and as the campaign plays out. And watch for future columns here about "Time of the Tarrasque"!

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