Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Visualising Characters

Ahkalhyo Ftaohkoi, a native of the Isalaiat Dominate of Reaver's Deep Over the last couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to play in several PBeM Traveller games and at one stage I was playing in three games at the same time. PBeM games are very heavily dependant upon the enthusiasm and commitment of the Referee and two of the games I was playing in foundered when the Referee become distracted by Real World issues.

The most successful game, and the one that is still going, is the Classic Traveller campaign set in the Reavers’ Deep and is run by a friend of mine, Brett, who is based in Queensland, Australia. With players in New Zealand, the United States, and Europe, we have times when there is a lot of activity, and times when Real Life slows us down. Brett’s enthusiasm for the game keeps things moving and is such that he is even producing a Traveller Fanzine, Into the Deep.

PBeM games are, in reality, exercises in group creative writing. To help me settle into the character I have created, I enjoy creating a picture of that character. As I am not a very proficient artist, I have discovered the fun of compositing a character portrait from various Internet elements in MS Paint and tweaking the picture through PhotoStudio 2000.

The picture at the top of this article is of my character in the Reavers' Deep game, the Aslan pilot Ahkalhyo Ftaohkoi. The picture is constructed from a publicity still of Aslan from the film The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (and my little pun), and the space suit from a Science Fiction film with the female occupant’s face removed – I can’t recall the film that the space suit came from but, again, I found a publicity still online.

Akaiin Esaarti, Agent/Rogue of Lunion in the Spinward MarchesAkaiin Esaarti was an Intelligence Agent/Rogue Mongoose Traveller character I generated for a game set in the Spinward Marches. We managed to get a little adventuring done before the Referee disappeared. He did attempt to restart the game some months later but by that time I had other commitments and couldn’t continue. Akaiin’s portrait is built up around a still of Al Pacino from the movie Scarface. The planet in the background is a piece of random Science Fiction art I found on the Internet while the monitor bank is actually from a still of a television control room – the monitor bank is copied and reversed for a longer run, with the join hidden behind the character. The gantries to the left and right are cut from some technical picture and fitted together.

Balziac GervaisorBalziac Gervaisor was a Classic Traveller Book 7 Merchant Engineer created for another PBeM set in the Spinward Marches. We had a lot of fun getting the party aboard a liner and then battling hijackers during Jump, and then the Referee just sorta got bored with the game and dropped out. One of the players sort of took over the game but the reboot didn’t work and that game fizzled out, too. Balziac’s portrait on the Engineering deck is built up around a still of the actor John Goodman. The background is built up from various stills of a ship’s engine room and various other industrial pictures. The text is actually a Vilani font I found on the Internet.

Balziac clears CustomsI had so much fun with Balziac that I created another picture of him from a still from the film The Big Lebowski with a background of a starport that I found on the Internet.

Like Scrapbooking and Sampling, compositing character pictures takes existing elements and presents them in a new light. It's lots of fun and adds another layer of enjoyment to a Traveller game.

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