Faith and Coin , the upcoming supplement for Rogue Trader focuses on the efforts of missionaries as they work to shine the light of the Emperor across the Koronus Expanse and beyond, often with the help of Rogue Traders. The art in Faith and Coin helps immerse players into the grim and gritty 41st Millenium. With visual depictions of the great missionaries who have worked tirelessly to spread the Imperial Creed, players can get a sense of who these loyal servants to the Imperium were, and how their legacies live on in the Koronus Expanse . In today's designer diary, lead developer Max Brooke and art coordinator Andy Christensen present an inside look at the development of an art piece depicting Nicomedes Keefe, a missionary whose story figures prominently into Faith and Coin.
Lead Developer Max Brooke
Our previous Faith and Coin article focused on the creation of the stories of the missionaries. This time, we want to illuminate a bit about their visual depictions and the concepts behind them.
The process started out with the character description that contributing writer John Dunn gave us in the story of Nicomedes Keefe and in his notes on the missionary. In the text, John consistently reinforced Keefe's sturdy, pragmatic faith and his keen mind. Thus, when art coordinator Andy Christensen and I sat down to brainstorm the visual representations of the missionaries highlighted in Faith and Coin , this is where we began our discussion. We considered the story John had presented, and those qualities that Keefe possesses that should be visually recognizable in the art.
Keefe is consistently described as a figure who believes that the challenges of a missionary can be solved with thought and tenacity, a luminary who sees toil in the Emperor's name as the highest service. To evoke this focus on work (both physical and spiritual) and concrete solutions, Andy and I decided that Keefe should be a solidly built figure. To differentiate him from the other missionaries and their radically different methods for converting worlds, Andy suggested that we focus his humble-servant nature by depicting his robes as simple, stained, and well-worn. John's original character notes described Keefe as having a mustache and goatee—we decided to iterate on this idea, giving Keefe a full, slightly unkempt beard, as if he had just come out of a spiritual journey into the wilderness. This fit particularly well with Keefe's exploits in Faith and Coin, which take him into the wilds of the Koronus Expanse on his spiritual journey—often alone, as on Ikeran and on the dusty world of Pratus.
This description seemed to be headed in the right direction, but there was something missing from the concept. We wanted to show Keefe in the act of toil, wandering from world to world across the Expanse, collecting and dispensing the Emperor's wisdom. To evoke this, Andy had the idea of showing Nicomedes in the midst of his holy toil of spreading the Emperor’s World, pulling a cart full of relics and tomes of sacred lore. In this act, Nicomedes is literally dragging knowledge of the faith across the Koronus Expanse.
We both liked this idea, but Andy wanted something to firmly root the cart in the 41st Millennium. It needed to not just be a cart, but something altogether more poetic and insane. We discussed several options, including a cart pulled by a strange servitor or alien beast, or even to have the device be a back-mounted shrine or lectern (this idea recurred elsewhere, so keep your eyes peeled for it as you read Faith and Coin ). After some back-and-forth, Andy suggested a cart pulled by both a small army of hovering servo-skulls and, of course, Keefe himself. As soon as he said it, we both knew this was the direction to go.
The final guidance we came up with for the artist was as follows: "A male Missionary in a humble and tattered bone-coloured robe that has clearly been heavily used. He has an impressive beard, and is pulling a cart behind him by chains that are wrapped around his shoulders. The cart is also being pulled by a set of servo skulls, and is full of relics, books, masonry, statuary, and other artefacts. An ornate hammer is displayed prominently on the cart."
Now, I turn you over to Andy for some notes on his own process. Take it away, Andy!
Art Coordinator Andy Christensen
For this piece, I chose to work with Matt Bradbury. Matt has a great understanding of the unique visual style of "40k", and it's always a pleasure to see what he comes up with based on our initial art description. As I requested, he kept the first sketch quite rough as I knew that we would likely be developing this concept as we go.
Sometimes concept sketches like these evolve considerably as the art coordinator and the artist work together; other times, the process is more about the little refinements. I had some modifications I suggested for this piece:
Matt got us off to a great start. Looking at his initial sketch, we wanted to push the idea of a "mobile library" of Imperial resources, holy relics and scripture. Also, the idea that this cart is quite a burden (a holy burden) for Nicomedes to tow around far-flung worlds on foot. We came up with the idea of of adding an impressive shrine/library to the cart. This gave us another opportunity to include some of that iconic Imperial style based on gothic architecture (and of course, festooned with loads Imperial iconography).
As we proceeded, we also chose to make the servo-skulls into more of a "team" to assist with the burden, as well as prominently displaying his massive warhammer - which became the symbol for his doctrinaires centuries later. Here is the final piece, as it appears in Faith and Coin :
As an interesting addendum, the idea of a servo-skull cart kept right on rolling, and went on to appear in other places in Faith and Coin …
Thanks Max and Andy! Faith and Coin will be available soon, so head to your local retailer to pre-order it today!
Rogue Trader is a roleplaying game set in dark gothic far future of Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 universe. Players take on the roles of explorers aboard a Rogue Trader's ship, searching for profit and adventure while discovering new alien cultures and threats in the uncharted regions of space.