Sunday, 30 June 2019

Mordheim 2019 - play aids

As I mentioned a while back I've been working on some play aids for the forthcoming Mordheim MMXIX game. After much tinkering about (and cursing) in InDesign they are finally done!


Because I'll be travelling to Helsinki (via Essex, London then Stockholm) I wanted to keep the play aids compact. This led me to read a bit about 'micro games'. A rather nebulous term, but it often applies to small-form-factor (SFF) games. These were all the rage in the early 80s thanks, in part, to examples made by companies like Dwarfstar Games. They were popular partly because they were very inexpensive to manufacture and were sold cheaply. And partly because with names like Barbarian Prince why wouldn't a 13 year old boy want them? They often contained a flimsy booklet, some card chits and sometimes a map all shipped in a small polythene bag or a single-tuck-end box. Of course the genre continues today with lots of SFF games on the market, but its those early ones that capture my attention.

It's the barbarians. Probably.

And they were small. Really small. But with this SFF inspiration, what form was my play aid pack going to take?

My hunt for a format fortuitously coincided with my delving into Dungeonsynth (often abbreviated as DS or BMDS, meaning 'black metal dungeon synth', not to be confused by BDSM...) This is a musical genre born in the early 90s experiencing a resurgence at the moment thanks to platforms like Bandcamp. I'm not going to go into details here (it really deserves its own post) other than to say that much of the music is sold on cassettes. Yes, you read that right. And it has its own 'look' which is inspired a lot by Games Workshop's vintage illustrations. So you get some really amazing cassettes replete with awesome lo-fi fantasy artwork on the J-cards.

So, I thought, could I get my play aids to fit into a tape case? Hell yes I could. Here's how:









I designed and 3D sculpted an insert which would sit in a cassette case and hold a few cards, three dice and some tokens. A friend very kindly 3D printed this for me. And by golly! It worked pretty well. The tape case just required the spindle pins sawing off and the insert slips happily into the case to hold all the components (with the addition of a plasticard back).


  Render of the insert



 The 3D print in situ, showing how the dice are accommodated. The piece needs a plasticard back.
Small tokens cen be kept in the secondary slot.



But what were all the components going to look like? I was keen not to just do a 'cookie cutter' BMDS design. While this might be cute, it would also, I felt, be a bit literal and pedestrian. Of course we already had the black-metal-inspired Mordhehim MMXIX logo so this would play a part. And I wanted to do some worldbuilding to enrich the background of my time travelling gang of convicts. I settled on a dose of dystopian post-war Modernism / Swiss style graphic design. I'll go more into the reasoning behind this and how it ties into their world in a future post. But one of the advantages is that its very legible on these rather tiny cards.


The J-card layout on its own. It looks a bit grey here as it's in CMYK format.




 The back of the case


I'm pretty chuffed with this little package and I might end up doing more tape cases for future games. I really like the idea of having a stack of tape boxes, each case with its own artwork and logos. And one will definitely have to feature barbarians.

23 comments:

  1. Oh my this is just so good Tammy !
    The gamer in me likes seeing others with nice character sheets but this is taking things several leagues above and it's just too classy !
    I hope you get a 10 fold return on investment.

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    1. Thanks Assless! Very kind of you to say so.

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  2. That is awesome! I scrolled down and looked through the pictures before reading the article, and there was this moment of "wait, does that go in a tape case?" And then being very happy when it turned out that it actually does!

    I really do love the BMDS aesthetic, both musically and visually. Next time I have some spare cash to buy music, it's definitely getting thrown that way.

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    1. Thank you WestR. Need to get yourself a tape player though... :-)

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    2. Yeah, I gave away my last one about a decade ago. I don't even have an actual CD player anymore, I just do everything on my computer.

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  3. This is utterly fantastic! Would you be willing to share the files for your 3D printed insert?

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    1. Looking into it Dapper, as you're not the first person to ask.

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  4. That is insanely beautiful... That's it, I'm at a loss for words...

    I sat and pondered for a minute:
    I love all the lovely hand crafted gaming paraphernalia and carry cases I see in the dark corners of the hobby community. This is beautiful in its compact simplicity...
    I want to say it feels somehow... Bleak.

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  5. I have to agree with the other comments, I always enjoy seeing people's homemade hobby paraphernalia but as usual you have taken it to a whole other level. It's so crisp and professional! Love it.

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  6. My god the absolute perfection on display here entirely takes my breath away. I'm staggered by how cool that presentation is.

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    1. Thanks Ninja - high praise indeed! All that time I spent doing product photography has paid off. Good idea about the gatefold too!

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  7. Absolutely awesome idea and brilliant execution!

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  8. (Also you should totally do a carrying case for map tiles that looks like a gatefold LP sleeve)

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  9. I happened to wander through the blogs I follow today to catch up on what was going on, and I'm really glad I did. This is really inspiring stuff.

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  10. This looks so professional. Awesome!

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  11. Wow! I was thinking that it was a VHS case until you got to talking about audio cassettes... man those are small... really great work. Are the cards roughly business card sized? [checking on Wikipedia, it seems that US and UK cards differ in size and aspect ratio]

    I do worry that it is a bit too tiny though, but then I do not have the best eyes.

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    1. Ha! Nope. I'm all about the micro-formats. Cards are actually fine for me. If you can read a MTG card then you'll be OK.

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  12. Brilliant idea, and so well executed. Great work :)

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