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INTRODUCTION AND REFRESHMENT UPDATE 0:00 – 2:22
No special guest today, so Jeff and MOB are discussing their own current projects. For the crucial refreshment update Mob (6AM Melbourne) is having an expresso and Jeff (8PM Berlin) is having a glass of nice Italian red wine. Rob the Producer (6AM Melbourne) claims to be drinking Smirnoff straight from the bottle but as I also do the program descriptions I can say with full authority that I am lying.
PRINCE OF SARTAR INTRODUCTION 2:23 –9:25
Prince of Sartar, Jeff Richard’s web comic (with Bulgarian illustrator Kalin Kadiev) has reached episode 31 (as of March 2015).
Kalin was discovered by Jeff when Kalin posted some fan art to his Deviant Art page, and then on to the Google+ Glorantha site. Jeff asked him to do some concept art and early 2014 they started publishing the web comic, initially fortnightly and now weekly!
Turnaround for the fiendishly complicated Gloranthan web comic is now a week. Kalin is trained as an animator so he is used to a full-on workflow, nevertheless Jeff feels that animation school does not train you to do “floating God’s eyes or blue skinned sorcerers or mystic warrior goddesses”.
MOB agrees, and also notes that many of the illustrations have a lot of deep symbolism that would not be discernible by the casual viewer, and that Kalin has to incorporate all of these details. One example is from the beginning of the Chapter Three, “The White Bear”. The six rulers of the Holy Country are meeting the God-King Belintar. There is a very small chain at the bottom of the picture. The chain is in the shape of the Movement rune, and that is an incarnation of the spirit of freedom of change. It’s one of the powers that Belintar has enslaved and chained. If you value change and freedom then Balentar is your enemy, and this is all given away in one tiny corner of a panel.
PRINCE OF SARTAR WRITING PROCESS (9:26-16:04)
Jeff does the writing for the comic and a lot of the time he spends is considering what symbolic detail he wants to see in the comic. In many cases the comments below the comment will investigate and reveal these symbolic details.
Except in cases where the commenter is clearly wrong, Jeff tends to let fan theories run without confirming or denying. He also keeps quiet when the fan theories are cooler that what he thought up. Jeff then corrects himself to say that this never happens, and that all of the details are in the secret bible handed down to him by Greg Stafford. He then has an attack of honesty and admits that like all writers, he makes up details as required, but that after so many years working in Glorantha he has a detailed knowledge of the feel of the setting that he can then improvise within.
Quick shout out to the Gloranthan writers, initially Greg Stafford, then with Jeff and Sandy Peterson carrying on the torch to the next generation, MOB, himself and Nick Brooke, Harold Smith, David Dunham and Ken Rolston (and some others).
MOB also mentions David Hall, editor of Tales of the Reaching Moon, who kept Glorantha going in the fan space. Because that was done pre-Internet using papyrus and magic mailing tokens that leads to a segue into how much easier things are now, where Jeff can collaborate in real time with an artist in Bulgaria who he has never actually met to produce a comic that is then distributed at low cost all over the world. Jeff is looking forward to meeting Kalin in the flesh at Eternal Con in May however!
ETERNAL CON (16:05-21:15)
‘And where and what is Eternal Con’, asks MOB disingenuously and leadingly…
Eternal Con is the annual gaming convention taking place in a castle on the Rhine in Bacharach, Germany, near to where the term robber baron was invented. About very five miles there is a castle along the river and historically the lords would exact tolls. In fact, a couple of these castles are actually in the middle of the river itself, on islands, including Mouse Island, home of the evil Bishop Hatto, Archbishop of Mainz. Hatto was horribly abusive to the villagers (including burning villagers alive). He was attacked by a plague of mice, and fled to his castle in the middle of the Rhine, but the mice followed and ate him alive.
Eternal Con has a lovely castle. Also Beer. About 150 people attend, with a better than usual gender balance. It’s also child and family friendly. As mentioned, this year Kalin will be there, along with Jan Pospisil, the artist from the Czech Republic.
PRINCE OF SARTAR PROCESS (21:16-35:00)
At beginning of series Jeff sends of a number of pages of direction. As Kalin gets through this he breaks it down into pages. Jeff does the initial panel layout, and Kalin then refines this if he finds Jeff’s initial panel breakdown ‘stupid’.
Kalin then asks for additional directions as to scenery. Often the text idea does not translate into graphics. For instance the prow of the wolf pirates ships are not depicted as wolves, because the wolves looked lame. There are concepts that are way more cool in print. Why doesn’t the polar bear cloak of Harrek the Berserker have a lower jaw? Because it looked stupid.
MOB gives another example of Lady Galadriel’s swan shaped boat in LOTR, which looked pretty cheesy on screen. Jeff explains that writing something down is a different process to drawing it, and is not a literal translation. Different mediums end up with different results.
Kalin uses a fully digital workflow, as do most of the artists that Jeff works with. This makes changes much easier and has a significant impact on speed. Jeff finds that although the weekly turnaround is a lot of work, weekly deadlines lead to work actually being done. There were only eight pages written when they started publishing, so publishing is a constant race with yourself. As Kalin gets quicker and quicker Jeff adds more and more detail to make it harder for him.
The current chapter features Belintar’s capital, the City of Wonders. Jeff lets people down gently who wanted to see the full picture – Kalin did not actually draw the parts of the city that were covered by talk bubbles ☹
Jeff feels he no longer has to refer to King of Sartar the novel (coming soon) as he is so familiar with the story. Harrek is another of the major characters, and given that the comic is called “Prince of Sartar”, the Prince of Sartar also gets a look in. The story is gradually moving towards the long promised Hero Wars.
THE HERO WARS (35:01-42:11)
Patient (or perhaps impatient) Gloranthan gamers know things have been leading up to the Hero Wars since the late 70’s. It all started with the Hero Wars, in the board games White Bear/Red Moon and Dragon Pass, but Glorantha then moved to the RuneQuest rules, which are terrific for small person skirmishers running around the Big Rubble, but not a great engine for doing large-scale heroic and mythic battles. Greg Stafford spent years trying to adapt the RuneQuest rules for the Hero Wars. Robin Laws was brought in to write the HeroQuest rules, which gives up on crunchy combat simulation for a much greater emphasis on story generation – better for very powerful characters.
Not every rule system can be used for every different game, which is why it’s an advantage Glorantha can use multiple rule systems.
PUBLICATION PRINCE OF SARTAR (41:12-45:15)
Jeff is planning a limited run print version of Prince of Sartar (perhaps 35-40 pages) for Gen Con, and then will finish three chapters as the first volume. Volume 2 will include the Cradle Scenario. Rob the Producer then asks how many Volumes Jeff envisages, and let’s just say he has grand plans. Jeff thinks there are easily TEN volumes of material.
MOB’s MAXIMUM GAME FUN QUESTIONS (45:16-56:00)
Q: What is one thing you are worse at than the average gamer?
A: Remembering rules. MOB started his RuneQuest career with a copy of the scenario Apple Lane but didn’t actually have the rules, so he and his school friends (at was a long time ago) had to make them up as they went along. Some would say that this has continued throughout his career, but not me, obviously.
Q: What is one thing you are better at than the average gamer?
A: MOB is very disciplined at conventions, and abides by the “MOB Rule”; always going to bed at a fixed time even when fun is still being had, in order to be fresh and chirpy the next morning. Long ago, it was 3AM, then 2AM, then 1AM – now, in his dotage he barely makes it to midnight. The MOB Rule is especially important in Bacharach as the castle is high on a hill (as castles tend to be when they get the chance) and the traditional trip to the Kebab shop requires stamina and attention to the path, as exemplified by the cautionary tale of Andrew Bean’s buttocks (which is not a candidate for Beatrix Potter style illustrated Children’s tale).
Q: What is one thing nobody knows about you?
A: MOB is not that interested in tabletop war gaming and moving counters around. Not a very good tactical thinker for moving armies around.
Q: What is one thing everybody knows about you as a gamer?
A: MOB is cheerfully happy to start at the top and work his way down.
PRODUCTS DISCUSSED, ALLUDED TO OR OTHERWISE OF INTEREST
- Prince of Sartar
Producer: Robert Love
Music by: audionautix.com
Introduction: Rick Meints