Friday, 2 October 2015

Artwork and Inspiration: The Work of Angela Deane

Continuing my (mini) series of inspirational artists, I would be remiss to not include the distinct aesthetic of Angela Deane's art. More specifically I want to discuss her "Ghost Photographs" collection. 

While unified by a common artistic theme, the notion is immediately applicable to role-playing games. There are a number of layers to the idea of the ghost within an everyday milieu. Ghosts are primarily invisible. Do people (in society) feel invisible? Ghosts are a remainder of something historical, dead, or representative of the past. Ghosts, by nature, seem to shun attention (at least explicit attention), yet Deane's ghosts almost revel in the exposure. 

They are, in essence, regular "people" going about their lives. It sort of begs the question as to whether non-ghosts can see the ghosts, but at least superficially, they are visible to us. Ghosts also represent "other", a repetitious theme in D&D. 

Regarding role-playing games, I mainly regard her work on two levels. The first is rather superficial or trite: How about a species of creatures (or actual ghosts), who have departed their bodies, yet are obviously in a liminal space between alive and dead. They are visible to living humanity, but they occupy a certain location within the world (geographically or metaphorically speaking). People know about them, and the players can interact with them. The second is more of a sociological concern: who are the "ghosts" within your setting? Are they obvious contenders like orcs, kobolds, half-orcs, whatever, or are they a particular subset of society who can add a level of political/socio-cultural nuance to your campaign? The latter (in my opinion) is more interesting. I'm inclined to combine the two ideas: a species of "ghost-like" creatures who are shunned, avoided, and loathed by society. They are visible to the naked eye, but  have been made "invisible" by the whim, and purposeful ignorance of the living. They are cursed to wander the earth seeking release. They might not even be aware they are dead. Maybe the PCs can help, maybe they cannot. Alternatively, they could be an interesting class or playable race. 

Personally, I like the everydayness of the series, and it highlights the idea that often inspiration is under our nose, waiting to be discovered.

Happy gaming. 

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