The King is Dead: Fully Photo-Illustrated

One of the weirder ideas I've had for The King is Dead is bypassing the drawn and painted art usually found in RPG manuals for photography. I'm taking a very "Hollywood History" approach to this imaginary 18th century, and films and TV have been central to inspiring and developing this world. I'm an amateur (though published) photographer and I kinda fancy the idea of taking a few pictures myself, buying some stock photos from Adobe Stock, and Photoshopping them all into something at least as good-looking as a late Hammer Films feature.

(I kinda want the book to look like a licensed game for a license that doesn't exist.)

This is quite possibly a terrible idea (The Book of Erotic Fantasy, after all, did not benefit from using photography). I'll know in a few months after I've had time to experiment a bit more with the software (and after the inevitable Kickstarter sets my art budget).

(Which makes me consider running a top-tier reward where the backer gets to fly out to Texas for gaming, wine, and a photo shoot in the Hill Country.)

In any case, here's a few examples from a shoot Robin and I did a few months back:

I rather like this one.

The highwaywoman makes her move!

A garishly Hammeresque title card in the making.

An experiment in "blue for night;" I still haven't figured that out yet.
If the majority audience reaction is to stick with normal illustrations, I will bow to conventional wisdom. As the book isn't going to have the art budget of a PEG or WotC production, this may mean extensive use of period art. Thankfully, we're talking the post-Renaissance period, so people had finally learned to draw and paint the real world. I could do a lot worse than Joseph Vernet.

Nicely done, Mr. Sherlock-Holmes'-ancestor!

Unfortunately, there is very, very little stock RPG art available for an 18th century setting -- and I'm pretty sure Wizards isn't going to sell me a secondary license on the art from the Innistrad Magic; The Gathering series (more's the pity).

They certainly wouldn't license it for what I can afford.

Feel free to chime in here or on Google+! I'm very curious to hear how people feel about potential art in The King is Dead. Thanks!


  1. I rather like the photograph path. It worked really well for Flying Frog's A Touch of Evil game line (and their Last Night on Earth line as well).

  2. Although I like the example photos from your shoot, I prefer normal illustrations in my roleplaying books. I'd also suggest against mixing and matching, whichever you go for I'd rather see a consistent style throughout the book if possible.

  3. I do like the idea if it's paired with the conceit of it being from a movie, as if this were a licensed RPG. Toren Atkinson did something similar with Spaceship Zero, I believe. (At least insofar as the concept is concerned--I don't know if the book had "stills" from the fictional TV show.)

    Just so long as you don't go with posed action figures... ;)


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