Monday, February 18, 2013

Dai's Journal

After the last time we played Cat and Dai, I had to make Dai leave London. Cat would figure in another Cthulhu Gaslight adventure and I didn't want to play Dai in that adventure. Also, there was the fact that they were both falling in love and we couldn't just put that on the backburner for half a year in-game time.

I decided that Dai would be called back to India by a former lover who wished to see him one last time before her death. Rashmi is an important person in Dai's life, so of course he would go. And since Cat wasn't in London anyway for the summer, Dai used the time to travel back the long way: from Mumbai per steamer to Bushehr in Persia and from there by camel and mule to the Caspian Sea, into Turkey and along the Black Sea coast to Constantinople.

small statue from Van, Turkey...about 2500 years old

Dai knew fully well how much Cat would have liked such a journey and so he kept a diary and sketched the things he saw. As for me, I had too much fun planning that journey to keep it to myself. I'm by no means a trained artist and at the time I began the journal, I had been sketching for a bit more than six months. It was a challenge, I went wide out of my comfort zone and sketched things I never would have dared otherwise.

Lion's Gate of Hattusa near Bogazkale, Turkey

I learned a ton, both about sketching and about India, Persia and Turkey. Persia was the biggest surprise by far. To my shame, I have to admit that I thought that the country was more or less all desert. Instead, I discovered that it's an extremely diverse country with, yes, deserts, but also jungles, huge mountains (including a dormant volcano) and at times positively parklike landscapes that are extremely fertile.


The whole diary took me about nine months to make, with life getting in the way. As a guesstimate, if I had dedicated eight hours a day to it, it would have taken me about three weeks, including the research. Flickr, Wikipedia and Google Earth were absolutely invaluable for this. Persia in particular is very well represented on both Wikipedia and Flickr. Also, historic travelers made the same journey at about the same time and wrote about it. Lord Curzon's Persia and the Persian Question describes in detail how to travel in Persia. Isabella Bird, just a few months shy of her 60th birthday, traveled almost the same route as Dai on horseback and wrote a book about it.

I had decided even when I started the journal that I would give it to Cat's player. When the time came, I found it surprisingly hard to give it away. I'm so used to be working on it and to taking it everywhere, it's a strange feeling not to have it anymore. But the player's reaction was more than reward enough for all the work.

the ruins of Alamut Castle

If you are interested in reading the whole thing, I uploaded it to Flickr here. There's a bit of background information for each sketch and some out of character comments when I felt like it.
I used Faber Castel Polychromos coloured pencils and graphite pencils. The book is a 5 x 8.25" Moleskine with 250g paper.

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