Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Of Iron Heroes and Art

Alex ran an Iron Heroes game this last weekend, so I've went back through the IH player's book working on a berserker.  One thing that jumped out at me this time was the art.  It's seriously grungy, black-and-white-and-lots-of-grey stuff with skulls everywhere.  The monsters are grotesque and the weapons look like things you'd catch Pathfinder's goblins using. 

Top, second from left: the Ugly Stick

The PCs look not like chivalrous and upstanding citizens who you'd run to for help; they look like people you'd be afraid of if you ran into them in a bar.  Most of them are festooned with knives, their clothes are tattered, and almost fully half of them are wearing either skull emblems or literal skulls on their person (berserker has a skull flail and bear skull cloak with one eye still in the socket, executioner a skull pendant, man-at-arms a skull belt buckle, thief a skull cloak pin, and arcanist hanging skull censer-looking things).  They're a very motley bunch; some of my favorite touches include the armiger's jagged shield, the hunter's lashed-together axe, the man-at-arms' bare-midriff armor (on a male, lampshading trope).  And that's just in the character classes chapter. 

He's a good guy.  Honest.  Don't mind the skulls.

The NPCs that appear in the combat chapter mostly look like what I'd expect chaos cultists to look like in Warhammer Fantasy; spiky bits abound on the bad guys, while facial pox and warts and floppy leather hats are common among 'townsfolk'. 

Snakes for the snake god!  Skulls for the skull pyramid!

The buildings in the town art look closely-built, the streets uneven, narrow, and guttered, the signs just symbols, telling that no-one is literate.

Home, sweet home...

The art throughout the book just does a fantastic job of showing us the default setting of IH.  It's not bad at depicting the game, either.  This piece:

says to us "This is a game about standing shirtless and mohawked on the fallen corpses of your misbegotten enemies and howling your defiance to a Mad-Maxian world."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I play berserkers, every now and then when I get the chance.

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