Monday, August 4, 2014

Grimmel-Dobbies and Layout

Here's another image from my Middenmurk bestiary. Grimmel-Dobbies comes, as usual, from a couple of dialect words and essentially means Pond-Fairies or Pond-Bogeys, they are essentially my version of the Welsh Gwragedd Annwn. They live in Lake Nenuphar (Nenuphar means water-lilies) and do not remember that they were inundated centuries ago. As far as they are concerned their realm was ever thus and there is no such thing as water. There are stirrings among the feuding houses, though, and a heresy is afoot. What will happen when the Aspidochelone returns? What does the Murmuring Marsgum know? I don't know. I just want to make things as much like a coiled spring as possible. Or like seeds planted in fertile ground or some other tedious metaphor.

Please disregard slight watermark. Depicted individual is a Harpoon Squire. There will be a glossary.
The Dobbies feature in an adventure I am writing but don't have any real job to do save to distract and waylay the protagonists. Actually everything in the adventure is about distraction and sidetracking so I guess maybe they play (or could play) a central role.


I like layout. I like the way visual information can be unfolded onto a page in such a manner as to produce a thing that rewards prolonged visual scrutiny. Like this from Racinet's Le Costume Historique;

Anyone who doesn't have a copy is missing out. It behooves me to say that several of the reconstructions are bullshit but I've actually developed a penchant for historical apocrypha
There are so many things in this image and in all of Racinet's imagery that you can profitably pore over, that spark imagination, that offer narratives. Admittedly there is a fiendish amount of work involved in this kind of thing but every detail, every bit of fluff offers opportunities. Old Forkbeard there with the red shield has a plume on his helmet that has just got to offer some kind of reaction bonus with other heathens.

See the wickerwork armour with the big backplate shield thing, awesome.
My Taschen copy is in three languages with tiny, tiny text and doesn't explain itself as well as it could but is nonetheless so resonant with ideas and psychic energy it acts as a doorway to endless creative meanderings .


  1. My wife (an instructional designer) very seldom piicks up new game books because she finds then confusing and poorly organized, I showed her this post and your last one and she said if all game books were setup like this she'd DM more.

    1. That's bloody marvellous. Thanks for the vote of confidence. Coming at it from a position of relative naivete with regards to design, I am very pleased that the general consensus is that this constitutes good design. I am especially pleased to hear it from someone who designs things professionally.

      All I'm trying to do is make the things that I want to see.