Today in his Dragon’s-Eye View column, Jon asked the community to share ideas about the color and texture of Dungeons & Dragons. The more I thought about it today, the more I’ve found that I really like the question. Beyond color and typeface, there is a lot of texture in D&D. Whether you are playing a high fantasy/high magic setting or something grittier, characters are almost constantly surrounded by it: hand-crafted leather armor, meticulously woven chainmail, and battle-notched blades are staple accessories. And almost every adventurer will come across craggy mountain peaks, crumbling ruin walls, or welcoming cobblestone streets eventually.
So what are the defining textures in D&D for me?
The background is a black leather texture I found online (these are all shamelessly ripped off from Bing Image search). Leather was the first image that came to mind this morning… but as I browsed leather textures online, I was disappointed that many of them felt wrong. Real leather is wonderful to hold and looks great on an old tome. On-screen (or page) leather texture can look really lame. Almost like it is trying to hard to by old and gritty. Used sparingly, I like it. But I chose four different elements that represent D&D to me:
Gold coins represent not just treasure, loot, and reward, but you can almost feel them slip through your fingers as you enjoy the spoils of your last adventure. The luster is seductive and the metallic shine hints of all of the other ways in which metal is used in fantasy worlds.
Fire is unpredictable, dangerous, violent, and primal. Dragons breathe fire (at least the red ones do). Wizards hurl fireballs into battle. Torches illuminate even the deepest, dankest dungeons. No fire = no D&D.
The Northern Lights are almost otherworldly and call to mind the mysterious, the magical, and the mystical side of D&D. Bilbo’s Sting glows blue when Orcs and Goblins are near. Arcane runes glow blue and green when activated. Even in a low-magic campaign setting, the unexplained often manifests itself as shimmering lights.
Stone statues make me think of a time when great craftsmen put their soul into incredible works of earth and stone. Statues are erected to heroes and to gods. The stone walls and buildings which they adorn are the very surroundings in which most D&D adventures take place.
What do you think? Does these images look like D&D to you? I really enjoyed the comment stream on this one… lots of great ideas out there.