Saturday, June 06, 2009

A(rt Nouveau) D&D

I'll get to the point -- what would an Art Nouveau-inspired fantasy RPG feel like?

It's no secret (or, if you know me, surprise) that my head is full of stupid ideas, and today being an especially good day for the spontaneous generation of obtuse thought, I happened upon this particular notion. It actually began with the idea of making a custom character sheet with Art Nouveau motifs and fonts, which led to the thought, "What kind of game would need THAT?" and thereafter to the question which opened this post.

I loves me some Art Nouveau. It's one of the few art movements that truly appeals to me; I like other styles and ideas and so on, but only Nouveau moves me. (Deco does, too, but that's another post.) It says things to me -- things so graceful and wondrous and fantastic and deep that I --

-- Nouveau is such beauty as to steal my words away.

...Okay, now that we've determined that I totally want to make out with the stuff, let's get back to the point. Like it or not, certain types of game go well with certain types of art; they can inspire and inform each other. A game that's inspired by Frazetta art is probably going to have a different vibe from one whose GM has a lot of Elmore on the old hard drive. Some games kinda feel like barbarian skulls-and-boobies art, some feel like renfaire photo galleries. Am I right?

Let's pretend that I am, if only so that I don't feel like an idiot typing all of this. Please? Thank you, you're so kind.

Anyway. The art style lends itself very well to fantasy, I think, because it's obviously inspired by the natural world, but it stylizes it. It suggests real stuff (plants, flowers, insects, etc.) but depicts it in unrealistic ways. To me, it's inherently fantastic.

Remember that Spelljammer d20 game in Dungeon magazine? It was a...well, kind of an alternate take on Spelljammer, and the illustrations were all in the Art Nouveau style. It worked very well for me -- it hit kind of a Little Nemo groove which made it feel different, unique.

It felt truly fantastic, and it made me want to play it.

So now, here I am, wondering -- how can I bring that look to my vanilla-fantasy games? What kind of feel would such a game have? Does it matter? How would it color my game? How would my players react to it? Would it make me do anything differently? What would translate to my fantasy game, and how?

Would it feel any different?

Or would I just have some pretty character sheets for the same-old same-old?