Editor’s Note: The content that follows was written by Nathaniel, the author of Barbarians of the Aftermath and the forthcoming Barbarians of Heavy Metal. The original post (and the comments thereupon) can be found here. I’m separating out the design diary portions themselves for easy indexing. -tvp-
PART 1: IMAGERY
This is pretty much the first thing I get straight in my mind when I design a game. In the case of BoHM, there are a number of influences that I plan to mix about to get the right feel for a heavy metal universe with decaying tech and a feudal civilization:
Battletech: The basic idea behind the game is take the original BT game back to what I consider the ‘Good Ol’ Days,’ the dark age of technology before they started messing it up with the Clans, recovered tech, etc.
Dune: The David Lynch version of the movie was terrible for the most part (especially how people ‘thought’ things you could obviously see right in front of your blinkin’ eyes), but the costumes and set design were so friggin’ weird yet strangely compelling that I love the look of the whole thing.
Krull: Nothing says high tech, space-faring feudal society like Krull. In fact, I would say this is the ultimate D&D in space movie.
Heavy Metal – The Movie: I know its just cartoon porn for the most part, but certain parts of it blend music, sci-fi and fantasy so well, that I have not been able to shake the image of this movie out of my head for 30 years. It just smacks of late 70′s early 80′s music and imagery and is, thusly, the main influence for any book that relies on that imagery.
Warp Riders: I love this album as it is everything metal should be and it really speaks to the concept of piratical space raiders, heroic adventurers on mighty quests, and all the other mythical conceits that made the music of my distant youth so memorable. I plan to base some of the background around some of the concepts from this album, including adding a Warp Rider career, using the term Navigatrix for female ship captains and taking warp fold theory as the basis for interstellar travel. If I can get their permission, I might even detail Acheron as a planet.
Brutal Legend: Heavy Metal warriors on mythic quests, driving the Heavy Metal version of tanks and using music to melt the faces off of their enemies. Nuff’ said.
Every Fantasy and Sci-Fi Cover from the Seventies: This is the imagery of my youth. It wasn’t always precise or even technically competent, but the covers of 70′s paperbacks were always able to stir my imagination and transport me to other strange and fascinating places, even if they had nothing to do with the stories in the books themselves. They were always weird and defied the common perception of what space travel or fantasy should look like, the kind of stuff that inspired OD&D not the insipid, overdone half-anime art that dominates the modern market and informs 4E.
Every Album Cover of the Seventies and Early Eighties: Look inside the jacket of Led Zeppelin IV and try not to be transported. Look at the cover of Bat Out of Hell. It is way out of tune with the music, but the imagery tells such a story! And who can think of Iron Maiden without alson thinking of Eddie coming out of a grave or all Cyber-ed up and travelling time? Many of the Rock artists of this period seemed to spend more time and attention on their album covers than their music, but the results were mind blowing in so many cases and well worth the one song you purchased the entire album for.
These are the sights and sounds that will inform BoHM. And C7 and I are currently looking into hiring an artist who can truly realize this sort of imagery all mixed together. My first choice is a fantastic artist whose art fille the early Battletech and Shadowrun books of the eighties: Jeff Laubenstein. Let’s hope we can get him.
Next Up: Book Breakdown…