For the last few weeks, I’ve been using a 3d modeling program called XSI to model quest items for Arcana Manor. I started with a famous 3d modeling tutorial for building Joan of Arc (who for this game’s purposes I will adapt as the Queen of Swords), and more recently I’ve been making 3d models of the tarot suits. The suits of today’s playing cards are highly abstracted versions of the four tarot suits (swords, cups, wands, and pentacles), which in many tarot decks are concrete items worn or used by allegorical characters. These suits are associated with complex systems of symbolic correspondences, including the elements of air, water, fire, and earth, and in mystical lore they are literal and metaphorical weapons wielded by a magician. We can see these items:
in their symbolic and ritualistic function on the Magician card of the Rider-Waite tarot deck,
arrayed on the table of Aleister Crowley as he poses with characteristic flamboyance,
and brought to life in the moving pictures of Alexander Jodrowksky’s glorious film The Holy Mountain.
Given my argument that one of the key principles of meaningful quest design is the use of re-configurable symbolic correspondences expressed through a fusion of gameplay and narrative, what better basis for a magic system than this?
Here are some screenshots of my models so far. The learning curve of 3d modeling is steep, and I’m progressing slowly but surely. These beginning results are rough, but the hard work is compensated by the liberation of being able to design one’s own custom items beginning with only primitive geometric polygons whose edges, faces, and vertices can be shaped in complex ways.