Space That Never Was: The Art of Maciej Rebisz

I’m a sucker for inspirational artwork, so much so I did an entire series of posts showcasing images that had jumped out at me and provided immediate ideas for characters or campaigns. Throughout my life science fiction has always been the one genre that has consistently drawn me in so this article on The Verge instantly caught my attention. It highlights the artwork of Maciej Rebisz from Poland, a concept artist with a particular focus on space and the exploration of the solar system. It’s a stunning alternative history in images, building on the visual concepts of the Apollo program and using them as a base to say “what if we had pushed that little bit further…”

You can find more of his art at: http://spacethatneverwas.tumblr.com/ and https://www.artstation.com/mac

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All artwork is copyright Maciej Rebisz, I’ve posted it just to showcase it and will happily take it down if requested.

 

 

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On Firefly…

The above clip has been doing the rounds over the last couple of days, it’s by Stephen Byrne and you can see more of his work here: https://www.facebook.com/ArtworkOfStephenByrne

The timing of this clip coming out was rather appropriate given I was sitting down behind the GM screen this week to run Firefly. It’s been a while since I ran a game, in fact it’s been almost a year. The last time I ran anything was at excellent Strategicon Gateway convention in California, LA. Unfortunately I can’t afford to fly out there again this year so it seemed fitting that my first time back in the GM seat I ran the Firefly scenario I ran there. The scenario, entitled Niska’s Race, is one I’ve now run about half a dozen times, so I’ve been able to flesh it out enough that there are a selection of possible scenes and complications I can introduce depending on the actions of the players. This time I had only two players and just under 3 hours to teach the system and run the adventure so the prior run throughs meant I could strip back anything that might prevent derail finishing on time.

Running the scenario multiple times also means I’m in the interesting situation of getting to see how different groups approach it. I always try and lean towards the ‘present a problem without having a defined solution’ style of GMing, it encourages player creativity and involvement and this scenario is proof of that. Each and every time I have run the game it has turned out completely differently. I’ve seen players (using the same set of pregenned characters) go for smash and grabs, stealth infiltrations or seduction to get to their goal. Betrayals, bribes and beat downs have all been employed in different run throughs of the same scene making it a new game for me, the GM, every time. Best of all I’ve been able to see half a dozen set of reactions to the scenarios twist, all influenced by the choices of the players. It’s an immensely satisfying position to be in as a GM and one I’m looking forward to replicating with the next adventure (working title “Big Blue Fish”, my old group should know exactly which scenario I’m talking about).

State of the Conspiracy: The Stuck on a Train Update

As we move into election season (in the US) it seems appropriate to update on the state of Project Cassandra, especially as I’ve set myself a goal of release on or around the week of the US Presidential elections. The short version: it’s nearly there. The longer version with a but: it’s nearly there but I’ve had some rather severe issues with creativity and motivation of late.

Right now I’m focused on two aspects, final edits and layout. The edits are coming along smoothly, the biggest issue is one of consistency. In some sections I address the reader directly while in others I’m more abstract and indirect. Resolving that shouldn’t be too hard, I just need to set aside a period where I can go through the entire document at once and ensure that I stay in a single frame of reference. Luckily for me I’m not only half way through a long train journey right now but it’s going nowhere thanks to a fallen power line. Yay.

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Layout is also progressing but at a much slower pace. After the debacle with the Tower Fall pdf compatibility I’ve gone back to the start. First up was a switch to the latest dev branch of Scribus and a new from scratch document… which of course generated some new issues that I need to investigate and address. The second half of the layout process has been artwork. At the moment I have enough that I could, in theory, complete the game and have all 4 characters illustrated if I reword their descriptions (Sarsin for example would need to be an ex-cop rather than a former member of the secret service). It’s not ideal though as that would mean losing a few images from the rules sections. I’m going to see about the feasibility of getting a couple more pieces commissioned but that will depend on how busy the artist is over the next few months and my budget.

A proportion of the artwork, however, is stock art that I’ve been able to acquire for the grand total of… nothing! For those I’m now working to edit and fade the images. Or rather I’m learning how to edit and fade in the way that I want. It’s taking a while but I do at least feel like I’m making progress and am enjoying the process. My aim is to have all the free stock art selected and edited over the next few weeks, after which I can start slotting it into place.

Inspirational Artwork: Visions of the Future

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Stylised posters always seem to get my GM imagination going, when they’re well done they serve the same function as a good book cover – to set a scene that you want to know more about. Some of the best, in my opinion, are those that recreate early sci-fi books focused on exploration and the colonisation of the solar system. They provide not only a sense of hope for the future but also one of exploration, perfect for any light hearted sci-fi games. The ‘Visions of the Future‘ set from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory provide a perfect example of this and after only a few minutes I already have a half dozen ideas bouncing around my head for the next time I run a game.

Inspirational Artwork: The Surreal Gifs of Artist Kevin Weir

Sometimes I just come across a set of work that jumps out at me as inspiration for a game or a campaign (and gave rise to the inspirational artwork series). The surreal gifs created by artist Kevin Weir are a prime example of this. Working primarily from archival Library of Congress photos he’s turned them into something otherworldly by animating them, often just in subtle ways. Perhaps my favourite of them is the one below just because ideas immediately jump out at me for a War of the Worlds or post World War 1 (or 2) game battling Cthulhu-esk eldritch horrors beyond mortal comprehension.

You can find more of his work on his tumblr, Flux Machine