25 October 2012

Earthdawn: Part 15 - Creature Trophies 1

This is the fifteenth part in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.

This article is a compilation of three crafts projects from Adventure Logs detailing the construction of three different trophies as game aids. Covered here are lightning lizard eyes, crackbill necks and earth q'wril beaks. If you have been keeping up with the Adventure Logs, there isn't much to see here. If you have given them a pass, there may be something here of interest.

I have mentioned previously that I like to run tactile games, and this is where I introduced that aspect. A common feature of creatures in Earthdawn is that parts of them are valuable and can be harvested and sold. Writing things down on a character sheet is fine for bookkeeping, but it isn't very visceral. So I made some lightning lizard eyes using some glass beads that were clear with a blue iris. Initially I tried to etch them with an etching cream - it did not turn out so well. That plan will require a sand etcher to work how I intended and that is more of an investment than I wanted to make, even with a 40% off coupon at Michael's. Employing a silver marker produced the almost final result.

They were very popular, in fact more popular than I had imagined. Two things came from that development. First, the players didn't want to give all of them up; they wanted to keep some of their treasures. Second, the silver markings were rubbing off from excessive handling. The second issue was resolved with some matte sealant. I didn't want to take the loot away from the players, but I did want to give them the rewards they had earned. To solve this, I created a house rule about decorating loot. This allowed them to receive the Legend Points (and more), expend money, use artisan skills, and keep their toys. It was a win for everyone. The difficulties of the tests as the value of loot increased was still being ironed out, but it is fun and that is what this is all about.

Crackbill necks were simple to put together and turned out well in the end. I got a cheap, nylon (this is important) jump rope and cut it into sections, around 20 cm; they had to be short enough to fit into the boxes. Using a lighter, I melted each end. This fused it, making it sturdier and lending a nice cartilaginous feel. Then some bronze paint was applied. The end result was rough and textured, but still flexible.

Earth q'wril beaks were significantly more time consuming. The base uses glass paper weights from the craft store. I applied masking tape to the tip of each glass bauble, to create the illusion of where the earth q'wril secretes fluid to break rocks apart in the final product. Next some white primer was applied and allowed to dry. This was followed by black matte primer that was applied in a thin layer. When dried, I remove the masking tape and layered clear matte sealant over them. This protected the paint and gave a more worn feeling, particularly to the tip, while the base was left as smooth glass - showing where it had been removed from the creature. The end result has some layers, uneven parts and roughness that make it feel more natural. They can also stand up to some handling, which is a bonus.