Wednesday, July 07, 2010

microbyzantium

One of the oldest and oddest miscellaneous links on the ol' Gameblog leads to Ze Ball Breaker Micro-Heros.  As far as I can tell, once upon a time some dude used one of the online virtual paper doll thing-a-ma-bobs and a paint program to make his own Spider Jersusalem avatar for a Warren Ellis forum.  Some other people, mostly French people initially, thought that was the greatest idea ever and soon were making their own Micro-Hero avatars.  Like this:

Secret origin of Jeff's fondness for purple?

The poses are all stiff, most Micro-Heros are built off a small pool of body templates, and shading is generally limited to a single additional color.  That's why they are hated by many serious comic nerds and precisely why I love the crap out of Micro-Heros.  Like the programming magic of HeroMachine, the design ethos of Micro-Heros makes it braindead easy for normal non-artist types like me to participate in creating superhero visuals.  Grab a template or one of the zillion already-made figures.  Then open it up in MS Paint, hit the Zoom feature and get crackin'. YOU can make your own Micro-Hero.  It's that easy.  The figures are so small you can edit them one pixel at a time and it doesn't feel like superhard work.

So no more excuses as to why you don't have art for your superhero PC.  Hell, there are a few sci-fi and fantasy MH's out there as well if you need help with that sort of thing.  Though if you're looking for Starfleet personnel there's a cute little Star Trek paper-doll sort of thing out there that would be perfect.  Damned if I can find the link right now.

But the Micro-Hero concept goes from 'dumb but cute' to 'totally insano' with the work of this guy named Razer.  He does something called Byzantine style Micro-Heros.  Just imagine the 1990's taking a big ol' dump on the costume of your favorite comics character:

Pretty much every Byzantine character sports shoulder spikes of some sort.  Ridiculously long loincloths also seem mandatory, except for those rare characters who wear floor-length skirts for no discernable reasons.  Weird-ass helmets and from-the-nose-down halfmasks are also common.  This is transcendantal nonsense at its finest, my friends.

There's a real opportunity here for some enterprising supers GM.  Like Paul Czege's use of alternative superhero naming conventions, adopting a Byzantine design ethos could be a great way to customize a supers campaign.  No one would look a palette-swapped Superman, because in your world no self-respecting superhero would dress that way.  "Briefs over tights?  As if!  Everyone knows real heroes wear loincloths!"  Mix-and-matching parts from Razer's extensive body of work would make it real easy to come up with new character designs.