News from Finnish Glorantha podcasting scene. Two new episodes out since my last post. First, in episode 12, we looked into south, to Pamaltela. Quite soon we realised Pamaltela is quite big and deep in lore and we only scratched the surface. We took a small dive into Fonrit, tough. Maybe we have to revisit some parts of Pamaltela later. One thing I personally learned from the episode was the idea, that chaos monsters in Pamaltela are individual creatures and there really isn't chaos races like broos and scorpion mens etc. Never thought of that before.
Our latest episode was about art and illustrations of Glorantha. We had special guest, illustrator Ossi Hiekkala (https://www.archipictor.com/) who is doing illustrations for Glorantha products (for example, the cover of the new RuneQuest Starter Set). Our episode base structure was an e-mail interview with @Jeff. We read the answers and then discussed about the topic. You can find our questions and Jeff's answers from below. Thank you Jeff for taking time to answer our questions. We collected a Pinterest board containing couple of pictures from artists and topics we discussed about.
We also reviewed the RuneQuest Coloring Book in the episode.
E-mail interview with Jeff Richard
Art direction has taken a huge leap under your guidance. It has not always been the number 1 priority in Gloranthan publications. Has this been a resource thing, or did you have an “awakening” about the importance of art? What have your main influences been?
Art is absolutely necessary in order to "see" the setting. IMO being able to imagine what a Sartarite warrior or a dark troll or the plains of Prax look like is as important asthe text. Unfortunately, until we Kickstarted the Guide, we really didn't have the resources to do things right. During the Issaries period (HeroQuest, Sartar, etc.) we were working on such a shoestring budget that we pretty much had to use whatever we could get. But with the Guide, and now with RuneQuest, we can really put the resources into art that the setting deserves.
In terms of influences on the use of arts in our books, I am strongly (perhaps overly) influenced by things like the Osprey books with Angus McBride, John Warry's Warfare in the Classical World, and the DK Eyewitness series. I want to see what people wear, how they live, how they die, and how they imagine the world through their own art. Having a bunch of people stand around in heroic action poses bores me silly. In terms of classic game art, give me Lisa Free, Gene Day, Miles Teves, or Jeff Laubenstein any day of the week. I've also got a tremendous fondness for the work of Erol Otus, David Trampier, and Russ Nicolson.
I love it when fantasy artists take elements from the classics - Gustav Klimt, Alphonse Mucha, Viktor Vasnetsov, John William Waterhouse, Franz Stuck, etc. Mark Smylie recently did a cover for us (Red Book of Magic) which was inspired in part by Carl Jung's illustrations in the Liber Novus.
Any hints for other cultural influences for Glorantha? Any museums etc that have made a deep impression, and every Glorantha fan should see?
I'm an inveterate museum goer. The Louvre, the British Museum, Museumsinsel - I've made repeated pilgrimages to them for ideas and references. Some other fantastically Gloranthan museums are the National Museum of Archaeology in Valetta, the Heraklion Archaeological Museum in Crete, and the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.
But also be willing to run with over the top sword and sorcery ideas - loincloths, bare chests, magical crystals, glowing swords, swirling spirits, and armor that is as much about showing off as it is for being practical. This is a magical and fantastic world as well as a material one. Burning Man i as good a source of ideas as the Altesmuseum.
Any pop culture references you care to share?
Musically, I associate Glorantha with Bowie's flights of wild fancy that get grounded by Lou Reed's focus on the losers and failures and Johnny Cash singing about murder and love. Add a bit of Zeppelin and Iggy Pop's rock shamanism, Kate Bush's magical imagination, the drug use of the Stones and the Doors, and the occasional cavalry charge of Beethoven, and you got what runs through my head.
Moviewise, I don't really associate Glorantha with things like Game of Thrones or Vikings or whatever. I associate it with Westerns. Unforgiven, Deadwood, Deadman, Tombstone - go wild with it. A dangerous frontier where we can explore the consequences of violence and vengeance, we can try to impose civilization, or try to communicate with the powerful spirits of the place.
How much canon you get to (or have to) create when guiding the, more and more detailed, graphics? There must be questions like, for example, should they be serving wine from a barrel or an amphora. Do you find answers from existing sourcebooks?
Thanks to the Guide a lot of that is set down, and books like the forthcoming Sartar boxed set provide more information. Where I don't know, I try to refer to several different cultures that are more or less similar to that Gloranthan culture. So for the Sartarites we reference a lot of Southern European, Near Eastern, or South Asian material artefacts from the Bronze and Iron Ages. Material culture tends to be more widely spread than we like to pretend, and Sartar is a mixing point of lots of different cultures, so look for appropriate reference points and mix it up.
There are quite many “Where in Glorantha” posts around showing a real-world landscape that could fit in Glorantha. There have also been prominent Glorantha landscape visualizations published by artists. What aspects make the Gloranthan landscape unique when picturing it? What differs it from our world or generic fantasy?
To me, the landscape of Glorantha is inspired by the Western United States - the landscapes of the American Rockies and the Southwest, or the Sierra Nevada. That's Dragon Pass and Prax. I imagine Glorantha as people from the ancient world inhabiting Pleistocene North America, with herds of bison and antelopes, saber-toothed cats and other megafauna. Plus dinosaurs. The Mahabharata performed in Jackson Hole. With dinosaurs of course. You have fantastic high mountains, grasslands mixed with forests of pine and oak, and scrublands. Places like Devil's Tower, Mount Rainier, Yosemite Valley, the Black Hills and the Badlands, US Route 50 in Nevada - all of that inspires Glorantha.
Do you have a personal favorite image you keep getting back to? What aspects of a Glorantha imaginary do you, personally, pay special attention to?
I've got bunches of favorite published pieces and even more favorite unpublished pieces! Among my absolute favorite published pieces are the Vasana pic done by Loïc Muzy, Andrey Fetisov's pic showing Vasana and Yanioth offering sacrifices to Ernalda, and Jakub Rebelka's Red Goddess. But I got SO many favorite unpublished pieces. Especially by Ossi - I think his Sartarite social classes piece might be one of my absolute favorites. There's a piece by Hazem Ameen's in the forthcoming Starter set that I often refer to - it captures the Sartarites perfectly. And the stuff Agathe Pité and Loïc are doing for the Cults book just blows my mind.
I'm sure Ossi can say that I pay special attention to skin color (the Orlanthi are olive-brown, not white), tattoos (I am coming up with a tattoo guide) and material objects.
Any other remarks or pointers you want to make about Gloranthan graphics?
Let the Gloranthans be their own thing. Borrow from many different points of reference - mixing things up. Don't let any Glorathan be a one to one correspondence to a real world culture. Experiment with body shapes, skin and hair color, and wild hairstyles. And be willing to show ordinary scenes that tell stories - one of my favorite images from Ossi is a Sartarite farmer tenderly holding his child in his arms. That's Glorantha to me!