As part of the ongoing Aurica project, I make art pieces for a Pathfinder tabletop roll-playing game. For anyone not familiar with what that is, it’s very similar to Dungeons and Dragons. Players create fictitious characters to go on adventures orchestrated by a game master. Usually that means physically sitting in a group around a table laden with pizza, dice, paper and pencils, and game pieces placed on a mat marked with a grid. But in my case, I (the game master) was recently separated from my players by a cross-country move. We chose to continue our game via internet, using a program called roll20 which allows you to create a virtual table top for the players to view online. But there was one major problem with roll20; the free virtual game pieces were terrible. So I made my own!
I began with very rough sketches of unique symbols that would represent each player’s character (as well as icons for players controlled by the game master) and turned those into clean graphics. (Not all of them are shown here)
After that I chose a unique color scheme for each and began to experiment with a unifying look for the icons that would look good on a square grid. (The grid system is frequently used in all kinds of table-top role playing games as an aid during game combat and also during exploration.) I initially chose a very flat graphic style with subtle gradients.
After playing around with this a bit, I decided I wanted something that looked more solid. More like a physical playing piece you could place on a board. After some experimentation, I ended up with a round token with a wooden base and a jewel-like center displaying the identifying symbol.
Here are the seven player character tokens.
Once the overall look of the tokens was decided upon, the same look could be applied to any number of symbols. In an standard fantasy roll-playing game the players are bound to encounter multiple non-player characters that must be controlled by the game master, including inn keepers, guards, bandits, etc. I used a different wood for the border to differentiate between tokens controlled by the players and tokens controlled by the game master.
The symbol in the middle of each token represents either that character’s unique identity or a general identity such as an occupation or membership in a society. (For example, in the above picture, the tankard token could be used and re-used for any innkeeper that the players meet in the their travels.) The color of the center jewel can be used to indicate allegiances. The grey tokens are all members of the military, but their individual symbols represent different occupations (e.g. city guard, captain of the guard, and jailor). Some tokens reuse symbols, but have different jewel colors to indicate an allegiance to one of the players.