In the West of Loka, on the foothills of the Wall mountains is the verdant Forest of Prithvi. Its benevolent King is a master of the elemental power of Earth – the gentle green energy of all growing, living things. Normally an oasis of peace, when the wooden glades are threatened with invasion, they explode with all of the unbound fury of a wounded beast, and the life-giving magic of the Earth turns into the crushing fury of stone and wood.

Let me now take you on a journey through the design process of the Prithvi.

First of all: this is the brief I have given to Wojciech when it came to sculpting the pieces.

Each type of piece (all Kings, all Queens) must have something that makes them easily recognisable, regardless of which army they belong to (e.g. all queens are clearly female, all Kings have a crown and are sitting on a throne, etc.). These common elements are defined here:

Large base, tall piece.
Sitting on a throne and wearing a crown.

Large base, tall piece.
The only female piece. Imposing and scary, feeling of great power.

Medium base, medium height piece.
Wizard/priest holding a staff.

Medium base, medium height piece.
Beast (unridden) with some element of four-legged creature, possibly horse.

Medium base, medium height piece.
Elemental. Vaguely humanoid, slow and lumbering creature.

Small base, shortest piece.
Footman. Shield. One-hand weapon (sword, axe, etc.). Light armour (no close helmet), must look like foot soldier, not knight.

This info is generic and it applies to all four armies (or indeed any future armies we might design…). It forms the very important logic behind the pieces. All armies follow this same logic, so that it’s what helps the players recognise the pieces regardless of what faction they belong to.

Then it was a case of altering this ‘core design’, adding a ‘skin’ that made it more specific to each of the armies, to each of the four elements, and therefore much more evocative and ‘cool’. You should see the face of a sculptor when you ask them to sculpt ‘cool’…

Here’s the brief for Prithvi:

Keywords: Good, Forest creatures, Elves, Dwarves, Celtic, Irish-Welsh-Gauls, Woods.
King: Elf lord on tree/vines/leaves throne. King of the Forest. Lord of the Dance.
Queen: Dryad.
Bishop: Druid, shapechanging, animal elements (hoofs? tail?), sickle.
Knight: Centaur.
Rook: Earth elemental, rock and tree roots, moss, the thing from the swamp.
Pawn: naked Dwarf fanatics with celtic war-paintings, golden torcs and hex-shaped celtic shields. Short straight stabbing swords (not axes!)

From the general brief and the specific Earth brief, these are the concept Wojciech drew and that we tweaked into the final designs, which he used for the sculpts and then were also rendered in the online game Shuuro–Wrath of the Elements.

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