Harnic Shield Painters Unite!

By Richard Luschek II

Just a quick peak into a day in my life. Here’s a photo of a typical day writing my blog, shown in a cafe just pouring my heart out to all my readers. My squire is getting pretty good at taking photos don’t you think?

After having to catch up a bit after the 4 days at Gen Con I finally got the latest HarnQuest finished (can you believe I honestly thought I would get some drawing done while I was there?).

I was very happy with how it turned out. My deadline was end of August and I proudly sent off my last illustration at 11:45p.m. on August 31st. So, technically I made my deadline. Right?


I will do a few posts about a few of the illustrations I did for this very Laranian HarnQuest.

It contains Order of Hyvrik (Larani), Order of the Checkered Shield, Dyrisa Laranian Temple, and an updated Classic article Chyrefal Castle.


This was a fun HQ for me as I have always liked the Laranians. The articles did a good job of giving these guys some depth, with in-fighting and religious differences. It made them more believable and realistic.

One of my favorite pieces was in the Checkered Shield article.

I did a few versions that I thought I would show for fun, before settling on the final one.

To the Pits!,Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

There was some discussion about whether or not the shield should have the full heraldry of the order, or just be a checkered shield. While I tend to fight for what ever looks best, I think the end result made the most sense.

At first I drew a version with the full chapter symbol- which shows Mendiz- the red winged lion with the shield.

To the Pits II!,Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

While technically that is the chapter’s symbol, they are called the Checkered Shield. We decided that while this symbol is the badge and may be sewn on the tunic of some or all the knights,  the shield, like the name, should just be checkered. Hotz had set this as canon on the Dead Winter cover years ago. I also did a look around on the web and found some fanon articles that showed the same opinion. So, the simple shield was used on the opening page.

Of course photoshop makes it very easy to make these changes and experiment with different looks. Something about the idea of a battle field full of checkered shields that just seemed more bad ass to me.

I suppose both work as long as the Agrikan is cast into the Pits!


1994 Plymouth Voyager with Harnic Shields

Of course the other reason for the decision was that I had just painted some some shields for decoration for the Gen Con booth and I was not going to change it.


The Deadly, Cute and Fuzzy- Harnic Weasel

By Richard Luschek
I primarily illustrate for the “Fantasy” RPG published by Columbia Games called Harn. It is a realistic fantasy world roughly modelled off medieval 12th century England. There are some Viking like elements, Kingdoms with Roman like political areas, and add a bit of fantasy creatures and monster reminiscent of Tolkien.

While most of the illustrations needed for Harn are realistic and mundane medieval images, I love it when I get to draw creatures. The bigger, uglier, and scarier the better. They should be covered in scales, bony protrusions, breathing fire and dripping with slime.

So, when I was asked to illustrate Weasels, I can’t say I was terribly excited. But, it is a good article and has serious game play uses for the imaginative GM.

While I am not a writer, I like tell my own stories through the art in these articles. I try to not just illustrate, but enhance the article. You know what they say, “a picture is worth a 1000 words”, which is a good thing- unless you are getting a text message from Anthony Weiner.

I thought I would offer some insight to the stories I drew for the Weasel article.


Stoat and Wolverine with Sarajin, Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

The above image is a winter scene, which I rarely if ever have done for Harn articles. This camouflaged stoat is scampering past an Ivinian stone illustrating the myth of Sarajin fighting a wolverine. I was thinking this beast could be one of the lesser known Pradeyalkri and may even have many myths associated with it. The Runic is translatable if you want to give it try. The runes at the top are some added graffiti, by some visiting warrior that wanted to leave his mark.

Peoni Protects, Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

I was not familiar with the horrible blood sport of badger baiting. If you are not either, don’t look it up-it is pretty terrible. It is a real “sport” and has been illegal since 1835, though it is apparently making a comeback.

Shown in the illustration is a young Peoni priestess smuggling away a badger to safety before it is thrown to the dogs. I could easily see this being a adventure hook for a GM. –The Lia-Kavair has hired the PC’s to find out why their badgers keep disappearing. or-The fleeing, priestess runs into the arms of the PCs asking for assistance. or -A PC has trapped some Badgers and would like to sell them at the market, but is approached by a seedy underworld type with an offer.

Maybe Harn even has it’s own version of Weasel Stomping Day.

There are tons of possibilities. Throw in the fact that the badger itself may not make its rescue easy and you have the makings of an interesting game session.


I would love to hear some stories of GMs using these beasts in their game sessions.




Two Page Locations- New type of Harn Article

The next HarnQuest will contain the first of a new series of articles that I am pretty excited about. These 2 page locations will be short articles on specific location through out Harn. We have a long list of them on our To-Do list, and a pile of them developed to some degree.

Basic idea of these two pagers is to develop specific sites in already published material. These will develop guilded occupations(Apothecary, Weaponcrafters, etc.) , non guilded (Artist, Baker, Fisherman,etc.), Religious sites (Temples, shrines, and graveyards), Wilderness locations (Caves, Trader huts, and barbarian sites), and Lairs for any manner of beasts.


The next HQ will have 3 of these sites: a Thay Jeweler, Clord Woodcrafter and the Seven Brothers site in Taelda territory in the Sorkin mountains.

The front page of these articles will have a portrait, information about the location and the individual, The back will have plans, location information and some adventure hooks. Below is the the Taelda guardian of the Seven Brothers. Also in this upcoming HQ is the article on Weasels of Harn, so I gave this barbarian a badger friend.

Tluk, Taelda guardian of the Seven Brothers,

Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek



View from the Docks

By Richard Luschek

The recent Cherafir publication by Columbia Games offered me the opportunity to draw a misty afternoon scene. As has been my recent way of working, I take the maps into Google Sketchup and do a quick model (not really, but lets pretend I do this fast)- especially with some of these complicated views.Actually, luckily for me a few fans had modeled some of these areas already, so I just had to tweak and adjust.

Cherafir Alienage, foggy morning

Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

I thought it would be interesting to paint a view with the docks veiled in thick fog. I knew I wanted the Palace of the Golden Dome in the background- a corner of the docks with traders and fishermen unloading their wares.

Here is the model I used as reference. The great thing about sketchup is the warehouse of models already made. So I can search for a medieval barn and find a few to load into the model. While it may not be exactly what I want, it is probably close enough.

Below is the basic view-point used for the image. The one thing I was worried about was that from this view the space of water between the dock and the Seaman’s guild disappears, making it almost look as though the building is right off the docks- but of course it just looks that way, especially if the water is a few feet below the dock.

I also got to draw a little Sarajin Shrine set up outside The Bronze Anchor. I tried a few sketches do decide on a look.

I thought it would make the most sense to have it be a wooden totem, with a shelter. I liked the idea of it having a roof over head. I really liked the idea of it being a boat part, so I settled on a totem with a piece of a damaged ship overhead. The writer suggested the female Elkyri called Alaryr, to whom the drunken sailors would pray to before their journey.

Here is the final image. There is a small prayer and even some graffiti carved near the altar. Translate it if you you are interested. Could even be a clue for your players to find.

Prayers to Alaryr

Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek




Building a Better Mouse Trap

By Richard Luschek

A while ago, about 3 years in fact, an article was written on the Small Mammals of Harn. It was to be released with the Hunting and Trapping article rules. Well, CGI decided it wanted the article expanded, and the groups of animals to be fleshed out a bit more.

I like drawing beasts and creatures, but usually prefer that they be snarling, nasty, and huge. Also, it would be nice if they are firebreathing.

So, with a list of animals that one would consider pretty mundane, my job was to come up with interesting images, that are useful for game play and are fun for me to do.

When it came to the intro page for Rodents, I got the idea that it would be fun to paint a medieval manuscript page image as it might appear in a Peoni illuminated manuscript on the saints. Just so you know, I will be doing these instead of the woodblock images I have done in the past for Harn articles.

St. Vusa and the Mice

Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

I chose a peaceful religious image of a saint dealing with a plague of rodents damaging crops (I know, it has been done). I got to thinking, this could be a miracle or even an example of a Peoni invocation at work. Maybe a prayer is said that will drive out pests from a field saving the villages crops. For the text I chose, “Saint Vusa of the Garden Drives out the Mice”. We looked at the Harn Religion Team page for info on the Saints and I thought St. Vusa fit the best. Special thanks to  Rob Barnes, who I have do all my translating into Harnic. I  use the Harnic Font to type the text and then draw over, twist and pull it to give it a more natural look.

Fanon Opportunity!

I want to offer this image up for use in any fanon Peoni invocation article that someone may want to write for this illustration. The image is a story all its own that could use a good imagination and some text to flesh out. Anyone? Comment or email me if you are interested in using this image in your fanon article. I thought a single page invocation on this, the saint and possibly the book it is found in would make a good little fanon addition. Could even be used for a Peoni temple article if the manuscript is in the library. Maybe this invocation is on a scroll found stored away that is found by the players. Anyway, someone do something with this image?


The other image in that article I was particularly proud of was the Harnic Squirrel. The text was changed after I drew the image to include info about them being ‘pack rats’ that collected shinny things. This little gray squirrel could result in an entire adventure hook. Say a player spotted a squirrel in a tree with something that looked like a gold coin. Or…. if a party buried a chest of coins in the woods only to come back to a dug up and nearly empty box, as a PC sees a squirrel scamper up a tree with coin in its mouth. What fun having to scour the woods for your hard earned treasure. What a great way for a game master to torture their players.

The Hoarder

Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek


I hope you enjoy this article and can find some interesting ways to incorporate it into your game- even though rodents are not your typical fantasy game beasts.


Moving Brick and Mortar

by Richard Luschek

For the recent HarnQuest release for Columbia Games, I had to color a very old illustration of Kiban. I believe this was first published in the original HarnView in 1983. Wow, 30 years ago!

Here is the original image as it appeared then.


Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc.

I had to color the image and update it for the recent expansion of this Harnic Castle. The original is by Eric Hotz and I believe the inspiration is taken from a real world castle in England called Bodiam Castle

Along  the way, a map was drawn for the fictional Harnic version. As I started updating the image, I realized that the mapped castle and the image did not quite match up. So I started tweaking it. Also I thought some of the castle above looked a bit like a building in ruins rather than a living breathing fortress.



Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc.

If you compare you can see, towers were moved and adjusted. The tops of the castle were cleaned up, and a lot of the windows had to be shifted around to match the floor plans in the article. Once everyone agreed on the adjustments I started in on color. I try to use digital coloring like water colors, doing washes over the line work- well, technically in photoshop, the color is done under the line layer.



Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc.

I usually erase any lines in the sky and just paint the clouds in. After I was done one of the writers pointed out that the front window was still wrong. It was not one big single window on the floor plan, but two smaller ones.

The same eagle eyed writer also commented that on the map the bar of land in front of the castle was mostly stone and would not have grass on it. I of course ignored this comment as we all know rocks in a stream can and will accumulate silt and allow river plants to grow at the edges of the rocks- So Shut The Hell Up!


But in order to try to appease I offered this image as a possible solution. The knight covered the window and takes care of the grass.


Copyright © 2013, Columbia Games, Inc.

This image was rejected for some reason by Tom at Columbia Games as being “inaccurate”.

Thay- Illustration process

Thay, view from Poleryn Square,  by Richard Luschek

Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek

I just finished the illustration for the upcoming Columbia Games article on Thay. Should ship in a few weeks.

“Thay is a seaport at the mouth of the Horka River in the mainland part of the Kingdom of Melderyn.”

We were all getting tired of the same old distant castle view across the river that often appear in these articles. Rob, one of the writers, suggested a view past two major buildings looking towards the castle. I also thought an early morning scene of the town waking up with workers walking to their respective jobs would be interesting.


I find it pretty tough to illustrate a believable scene that matches the maps, without some sort of physical reference. I select a portion of the map that will be in the view, create a jpeg that can be imported into Sketchup. I always make sure I include the map scale so I can enlarge the map image to the scale in Sketchup- To do this I just make a block that is 50 ft (you can type in exact dimensions), and then enlarge the map until the scale matches.


I do a rough layout, using some smaller models I have already built and saved- like castle walls, towers and a few medieval looking houses. Then I tackle the fancier buildings. If I can find a real world reference I will model off of that. Often in the Sketchup Warehouse, you can find a model that has already been built which is close to your needs. I will load that model into the image and place it on the map. Harnic building are usually smaller than those on Earth. So I usually have to scale them down, and often need to reduce the height. The temple on the right of the image, is based off a real-world Greek orthodox church. I was using it for a Peoni temple, which are described as simple in design, so I had to alter and delete a lot of the fancy parts off the original model. I push and pull the  model until it fits the map. Then I can basically walk around in the model looking for the best view.

Rough sketchup view

Here is the view I selected. I now can use this image to draw from. I approximate the drawing from this image of the model and then use a lot of artistic license to make the image interesting. Moving window and doors and changing some proportions and even placement, but at least now I know what will and will not work. In all honesty, it is not so much about exact accuracy and slavish following of the map, but making sure I will create a pleasing image that gives the feeling of a living breathing city. A cold computer model does not do that.

I thought I would post a few other views  to tease out some fanon map projects. Hint, Hint!

If anyone wants to mess around with these, feel free to email me and I will send you the Sketchup model.

It would be awesome to see a few maps done for the Palace of Kerpyne and the Peoni Temple.












I have been busy, also color art for The Silver Way, Menekod, Dyrisa, Telumar, Lia Kavair, and Dunir.



New Classic Harn- More Calories- Same Great Taste

The December Hârn Classics will be shipping soon. Subscribers will automatically be mailed their copies. Nonsubscribers can order their copies individually now at these pages:

All Hârn Classics contain the text from out-of-print Columbia Games articles. Local maps and floor plans have been redrawn and the articles have some new color artwork and additional new features.

Coming in January 2013: City of Thay and Telumar Earthmaster site.


From the Blog of Richard Luschek:

Using the art from the old, out of print articles, each of which was a black and white image by Eric Hotz,  I was trusted to update and color all the art. Some needed parts added or adjusted to fit the new layout, but mostly I am just coloring them in. I occasionally add my own twist- like adding a flag with the castle heraldry and a few birds as was done for Nurisel.

The Qualdris Castle was drawn from a high view point and I thought it would be nice to add a wispy bit of background to it. Using the map as reference, I did my best to make up what I thought would be a good looking background. Using some photographic reference and a few laid in textures, I was able to rough out the distant landscape. Some of the image had to be cropped out in the document, so I thought I would post the whole thing. I like early or late day scenes so I can get some contrast and interesting lighting.


Qualdris Castle, by Eric Hotz, Colored by Richard LuschekCopyright
© 2012, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek



Below is the original illustration by Eric Hotz.

Qualdris Castle, by Eric Hotz, Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc. and Richard Luschek



Melderyn- The Wizard’s Isle

I just finished the art for the Columbia Games new release of the Melderyn Kingdom module. It should hit the presses very soon for  HarnQuest subscribers.

This one was tough for me. For some reason I had an easier time getting into the mind set of the Rethem Kingdom module- not sure what that says about me. For one thing, Rethem is anything but subtle. Melderyn is a bit more mysterious and subtle with influences from many sources on Ketheria and beyond. I did my best to sneak in those influences without it being to high fantasy and over the top.

I am having a great time adding more color to Harn releases. The following image from page 3 of Melderyn is one such example.

Bringer of Storms, pen and ink and digital.
Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc., Richard Luschek

I did a very rough sketch in the space left to me just to test out the idea.

Melderyn page 3 layout sketch, Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc., Richard Luschek

After refining the sketch, I then shoot some reference shots. I thought this character needed to be very handsome and powerful, so I posed for it myself. I did find the bald spot to be a bit upsetting. Thankfully, I don’t get to see myself from that point of view very often.

I did not have a wind blown cliff overlooking the ocean on which to pose. Since Columbia Games was too cheap to fly me to Ireland for accurate reference shots, my wife’s dressing room worked just fine.

The great actor and illustrator- Richard Luschek

I am pretty excited with how the kingdom came out- probably my new favorite. Of course I say that almost every time don’t I?  We even changed the settlement pages with a color heraldry symbol on each page. This was done in Kaldor using the full heraldry symbol- though it was in B&W. This idea was dropped in Rethem to make room for text. This time by using only the shield part of the coat of arms- and some artful layout design by Brent Bailey, we were able to fit the art, heraldry and keep all of the text.

Get yourself a HarnQuest subscription now!


Melderyn page 61 (Zuilos),

Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc., Richard Luschek


Noron’s Keep- Harn Classic Updated

The recent set of Harn Classics have just been released. Columbia Games has recently changed the model for these releases. The point of these Classics is to get old articles, some close to 30 years old, back in print. They are being re-edited with new maps. Now we have decided to add more color to Harn. The page one art work will either be a colorized version of art from the old article, or an updated image if we think it needs one.

I have wanted to draw Noron for a while.

Of course we needed to show the keep but feature Noron front and center- well, slightly off to the right.


Noron’s Keep, pen and ink and digital. Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc., Richard Luschek

I had the map and the old illustration by Eric Hotz to work off from. I dropped the map into Google Sketchup and built a quick digital model. I was then able to swing around the model getting the placement I wanted. As you can see the drawing does not follow the model exactly, but it was a helpful aid in determining sight lines and basic perspective.

Rough Sketchup model


From the model I did a pen and ink drawing. Excessive ink likes can be too busy with the color, so a bit less inking saving some of the shading for the color to be added later. I scan the image, open it in photoshop, and then paint it digitally. I am not completely comfortable painting this way  but I am learning- and it is great fun.

The next stage is making sure what I see on the screen approximates what will come out of Columbia’s printer. This may take a few publications to perfect that process.



Noron’s Keep, pen and ink, Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc., Richard Luschek

The other thing changing in Harn Products is a switch to a new Harnic Drop Cap (the decorative capital letter that starts off each article). Before we were using a pretty basic one that I thought was bit anachronistic. I thought it might be fun to go with a more medieval / Celtic feel, and when I could- use the Harnic Bestiary to make the initials.

Copyright © 2012, Columbia Games, Inc., Richard Luschek


For Noron, the obvious choice was the Harnic beast, the Nolah. As I make my way through the alphabet, look for a whole set to be available. Let me know what you think and feel free to offer suggestion of Harnic creatures you would like to see for the Harnic Alphabet.