RPGs are all mental… wait, let me rephrase that: RPGs exist primarily in the participants’ imagination. The rulebooks, dice, character sheets, and battlemats are secondary – the primary driver of RPG enjoyment is the imagination. Without it, RPGs become mere boardgames, where all action takes place on the table with tokens, markers, dice and paper. Now, this is not necessarily bad – boardgames can be very satisfying. However, unleash the imagination, and you can have an incomparable experience. Now, there are many more factors than that, such as the participants, rules, and environment. But here, we’ll deal with imagination…
Or, more precisely, how a visual accessory can stimulate the imagination. Let me back up a little. I, personally, have no artistic ability, as far as drawing, painting, sculpture, etc., goes. I like to think that I can write descriptive text well enough, and use my voice to bring characters to life, but I can’t even draw a convincing stick figure. When it comes to something in which I have no skill, I am in awe of those who can do it. Most recently, I am impressed with the artistic ability of one person whom I know though Twitter.
Symatt is someone whom I am proud to call a friend on the other side of the Atlantic. He is quite active on Twitter, and, I believe, a fixture in the online RPG community. Lately, he has been doing what he calls his Countersketches. He has been requesting ideas for these countersketches lately, and I decided to respond. Here is what I suggested, in two tweets:
[How about] an azer, reclining in a beach chair on volcanic sand, feet dipped in a lava lake, glass in hand, the contents boiling, of course, and a look of contentment on his face.
An azer, in Dungeons and Dragons, is a dwarf from the elemental plane of fire, with skin the color of brass and fire in place of its hair and beard. Armed with only this information, Symatt was able to produce the drawing, in only a single day!
I have to say, Symatt nailed it. I wish I had a tenth of his talent. Images like this would make anyone’s RPG session 100 times better by stimulating the imagination.