Man is a wingless animal with two feet and flat nails.” —Plato
Humans dominate the Earth because we use tools, plain and simple. Animals are limited to genetic and behavior adaptations, while humans can adjust to new environmental hazards with technology. Fangs and claws simply cannot compete with swords and guns. We have even taken the sky from the birds and the ocean depths from the fish.
In most fantasy settings, the world is not quite as tamed as ours is. While amazing and potent, magic is in relatively few hands. Where technology serves as an equalizer, magic creates gaps of power. In many ways, a magic item is the ultimate tool.
In Pathfinder and similar settings, we often see any number of characters with an animal companion or familiar. These animals are presented as extraordinary examples of their respective species and, in the case of animal companions and mounts, they fight alongside heroes. I regard animal companions as being heroic, and heroes need to be equipped. Join me after the jump for another way to think regarding the subject of what magic items an animal can wield as Old Hat Monsters presents Lions and Tigers and Bears, Equipped!
The judges have conferred, and we now have five candidates for the Kobold Artistry II public voting portion of this contest. Take a look at each image and then follow the survey link to pick the one you think should win the contest! Each image below has the name of the piece of art and the artist’s name, which you’ll need to use when you head over to the survey site. We will be closing the voting down on Friday evening at midnight (Pacific time zone).
Thanks go to the artists who entered the contest! The judges had to make some hard choices.
Working as art director on the Deep Magic project is a blast! In particular, working with cover artist Marcel Mercado was a creative delight, and I am THRILLED with what he came up with.
Initially, my direction to Marcel for the cover basically focused on Midgard magic (blood magic, rune magic, shadow magic, and geomancy). I also stressed that I wanted a bright, colorful cover image that is lively, dynamic, and full of action. I noted that a cool-looking menhir (standing stone) with runes carved was an important part of the image. Ley lines were another element we needed, which I suggested might be represented as glowing lines on the ground, radiating out from the base of the menhir. Of course, being a book all about magic, we needed a spellcaster, so I asked for a wizard of some sort (one of the Midgard iconics would be a nice touch), casting a spell, with lots of fiery, glowing magical runes in the air around him.
I was blown away by the rough we received (seen above).
All four had a nice sense of action and movement, and they really captured the feel we were going for.
I like rough #1 best of all, in particular the menhir and the ley lines, although I liked aspects of the other three as well. So I worked with Marcel to incorporate the best parts of all four roughs into a single, awesome cover image. You can see where we are with that in the second image sneak peek I’m posting here.
After I had the final, high resolution image in hand, I worked on the actual cover.
In Thunder Forged: Iron Kingdoms Chronicles (The Fall of Llael, Book One)
300 pages, Pyr Publishing
In Thunder Forged is part of the Iron Kingdoms Chronicles, which are stories based on the Warmachine steam-powered fantasy wargame. I have never played Warmachine (sorry, Pedro), so I was not completely familiar with the factions involved in this military fantasy thriller that does double duty as a Cold-War style cloak-and-dagger spy novel.
If you are not familiar with Warmachine, here is the deal: This wargame is filled with steam-powered warmachines (called warjacks), magic, guns, and knights, to name a few elements. Heck, you’ll even see gunmages. Normally I would question how and even why someone would novelize a tactical wargame—but then I read this book. Sure Warhammer did it, but Warmachine? I just didn’t see it coming, but I’m glad that it did.
I have very fond memories of, as a teenager, sitting with my friends and poring over spell descriptions. Something about the mystery, wonder, and power of magic in RPGs has just always given me goose bumps—and, I admit, made me a little trigger-happy when it comes to offensive spells.
So when Wolfgang casually asked me late last year whether I was interested in editing and developing a book of magic, I happily replied, “That’s right in my wheelhouse!”
Little did I know how absolutely engrossing, exciting, and just plain fun this project would be.
In the five months since work has begun on Deep Magic in earnest, I’ve coordinated with Wolfgang and Ben to compile existing Kobold Press material, convert at least one set of spells to Pathfinder RPG, organize the book’s contents, wrangle deadlines, and edit and develop a host of all-new material.