World of Chaldea

A small squad of developers is attached to Chaldea: writers, artisans, craftfolks, and deep thinkers in general. From time to time, they’ll share insights into the creative processes of making Chaldea come alive.

Posts Categorized / Production

Production Blog Art Blog

Mature Content contained in Chaldea stories

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WARNING: This site contains adult themes, language, violence, sexually oriented nudity, and drug abuse or other elements thereof.

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Dwarf_See-No“I’m tired of people telling me what to do, “Peter said as we sat down to discuss the world of Chaldea, that first day, now over two years ago. “I’m tired of shareholders, boards of directors, and investors telling me no. If I want to say, fuck, then I’m going to say it. If a scene calls for nudity, then damn it, we’re going to show some skin.”

And that’s pretty much how fast it was to decide Chaldea was going to be a mature-rated product.

Caution: Mature Content Ahead

Dwarf_Speak-NoChaldea is a dark gritty world with repugnant folk and evil creatures that speak and perform vile acts. In a universe with dragons, elves, orcs, and demons, as well as mythological gods and monsters, very few have what you’d call human values; they are far from wholesome, kind, and chaste. In fact, humans would define them as morally bankrupt, but that would insinuate they had morals in the first place.

Dwarf_Hear-NoOn this journey, we’ll visit the orc breeding pits of Niesse and the decadent Marn drug dens; we’ll follow high-society artistocrats as they practice full-contact Imperial politics. We’ll see heroes against villians, armies against armies, and the escalation politics of gods. And if, along the way, we hear profanity or see a little too much bare skin, well, you’ve been fucking warned.

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Steve Conard

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What’s with All the Funky Accents?

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Peter_Adkison_(200x200)After screening War Room at Historicon 2015, I found a note left for me in my booth that asked several questions about the film. As I still don’t know who left the note, I figured I’d answer one of the questions in a blog. (I’d been meaning to write about this anyway.)

The particular question read, “Why does the toymaker have a German accent, the tax collector a British one, and it’s all set in a Roman/Latin army?”

I’m so glad you asked.

First of all, it’s important to know that all human kingdoms of Chaldea are inspired by some historical reference point—a particular culture in a particular time. War Room takes place in Hesse, which is inspired by the real-world Teutonic knights of the 13th century AD. Because the film takes place there, the most common accent in the film is Germanic. Now we don’t really know what Hessens of the 12th century actually sounded like, so we picked a German accent. And since I didn’t want Chaldea to sound like a WWII movie, we chose a pretty mild accent for the Hessens. Another reason to be wary of German accents is the way it serves as the harsh “mad scientist” accent often found in comedy. I want accents that complement the scene, accents that subtly create a mood, not accents that dominate, distract, or, God forbid, insult. Read More

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How Did I Find Myself Here?

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Michele_Takahashi_(200x200)Welcome! Glad you’re here and enjoying a look-see around our website. Did an interest in fantastical stories and amazing eye-popping images lure you to our pages? Have fun. Explore. We have more exciting things to come.

How did I find myself here? Good question. The answer: One degree of separation—Steve Schwartzstein. Just as Peter Adkison and Steve “Mr. Steve” Conard formed a friendship in college, I met Steve Schwartzstein in USC film school, and we’ve been friends ever since. Through Schwartzstein, I learned about the groundbreaking accomplishments of Peter, Mr. Steve, and Wizards of Coast.

[You may be wondering, “Why in the world are you calling Steve Conard, ‘Mr. Steve?’ It’s an inside joke that may be revealed by Mr. Steve himself in a future blog post. Fingers crossed.]

One day, Schwartzstein invited me to check out Gen Con, which is where I first met Mr. Steve and Peter. Because Peter looked super-busy running the convention, I didn’t want to interrupt and so settled for a brief “hello.” After exploring the bustling Gen Con exhibit hall, I spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out with The Two Steves (what a great name for a punk band!). Mr. Steve’s unbridled energy and enthusiasm made quite an impression on me. We all talked for hours about our mutual love of film and television, and Mr. Steve shared his passion for story development and the world of gaming. Read More

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“It’s gonna be epic, dude.”

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Steve_Schwartzstein_(200x200)Any and all situations, dialog, and use of names and places depicted on these here Web pages, as written by the hands of myself, Steven Schwartzstein, are mostly correct, accurate even, except in situations in which they are not. Which is to say, all of what you read is kinda, sorta mostly true.

In the beginning…

 

“It’s gonna be epic, dude.”

I was in Arizona at my brother’s house. It was May of 2013, and on the phone was my writing partner and friend for life, and not to mention one of the truly great and creative people you don’t often come across in the entertainment business, Steve Conard. Steve was one of the founders of Wizards of the Coast, the minds that brought us Magic: The Gathering and the Pokémon trading card game. If he said something was going to be epic, I thought I’d better listen.

“Okay. What is it?” I asked.

“Something Web-based, we think. But could be an app, like a comic book,” he replied.

“But not a television show?”

“Well, the budget is kinda limited. But the story. Dude, it’s epic.”

Read More

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So… What’s the Product?

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The most common question we get is “What is this Chaldea thing? Is it a film? Is it a game?”

The short answer is this: it’s a Web series that mixes film, comics, and fiction together.

Each part of the story we call an “issue.” If it were all film, we’d call the parts “episodes.” If it were all fiction, we’d call them “chapters.” If it were entirely comics you would expect us to call them “issues.” And as we’re blending all three, we just picked one.

So, first and foremost, Chaldea is a story told in these three different media formats. It’s also fantasy, which means there’s a world that goes with it. We call that world Chaldea, or on occasion, World of Chaldea. And here we strive to provide way more than a typical fantasy story. Whereas some novels might include a map that’s probably incomplete and maybe a few pieces of black-and-white art, we have much bigger plans. We plan to support the Chaldea story online in several ways as follows.

Please note that some of these features are still in development, and the requirements will likely evolve!

Chaldea Maps. I hate it when I’m reading a fantasy novel, a place gets mentioned, and I can’t find that place on the map. Our goal is that every place that gets mentioned in our story is a place you can search for by simply clicking on the name when it shows up, and we’ll show you exactly where it is in Chaldea. Read More

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It all began with a mimosa…

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At Gen Con 2013, my name was picked out of a hat to play a game of Fiasco with Peter Adkison. A small group of us sat in his hotel room on Sunday at brunch time and played over mimosas. Amidst the laughter and shenanigans, Peter mentioned that he was getting ready to start production of his first film (The Devil Walks in Salem). Emboldened by the mimosas, I gave him my card and told him that I was an actress.

I fully expected that to be the end of it.

In January of 2014 I found myself in the Pacific Northwest on a working vacation. Peter took me to lunch and over the subsequent hours he excitedly told me all about the world of Chaldea and his amazing plans for the series. This world, he told me, was going to be filled with wonderfully flawed and strong women. Real people with real problems that any actor would love to sink their teeth into. He spun this tale of dragons and gods and war and intrigue…and I knew I had to be a part of it. Read More

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Testing 1..2..3..

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Peter_Adkison_(400x400)About a year ago, I told Steve Conard, my primary partner in all things Chaldea, “We need to make a short film that blends live action and comic art. And I want to make it now, and I want to show it to the public by Gen Con 2015.”

“Why?” Steve asked. “We’re not going to be ready to go into full production for a couple more years. Are you sure it’s wise to get something out so early? Fans won’t like to wait.”

“I have to know if we’re on the right track,” I replied. “If we’re not, I’d like to know sooner rather than later.”

War Room is more than just a pilot episode; it’s a proof of concept. And in this case, a proof of concept that is particularly appropriate because we’ve never done this before. I won’t be so bold as to say no one has ever done this, but we haven’t found anything exactly like it. Also, this project requires us to be competent not just at filmmaking but at making comics as well.

I love trying new things. Someone once told me, “Peter, your problem is you have no aversion to risk.” I don’t think that’s a problem—I think it’s an advantage. I had no trouble jumping into this Chaldea project with both feet and didn’t hesitate for an instant to drop some serious cash into making this film.

But tackling Chaldea will be like a long and epic voyage across a mighty sea. I agree I have a low aversion to risk, but it’s just plain stupid to launch a new ship into the ocean without sailing it up and down the coast a few times first.

Read More

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Origins & Roots

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Chaldea began as a roleplaying game world back around 1981. I started playing Dungeons & Dragons® in 1978, and it wasn’t long before I graduated from playing to GM’ing. I never was a fan of the published adventure modules—instead, I went straight to building my own worlds and creating my own adventures.

During the 35 years since I began working on Chaldea, I’ve always been inspired by real-world history, especially military history. Chaldea’s story begins with the death of Kordaava, the emperor of the known world, a story inspired by the real-world tale of Alexander the Great: a warrior-king who conquered all in his path, built an empire, but then died without a clear line of succession. In our world, Kordaava is that warrior-king, adapted to fantasy by making him a demigod of Set. And our story opens with Kordaava’s assassination.

Another significant influence for me was real-world mythologies. Like most men, I imagine, the legends of the Norse gods gets my testosterone flowing. But I’ve always been interested in the Middle Eastern pantheons as well, especially the Sumerians and the Babylonians. In my D&D games, I would sometimes throw in some lesser-known Canaanite or Hittite deities just for good measure. In Chaldea, I lean heavily on these real-world mythologies. In the cosmos of Chaldea, instead of all these pantheons coming from the same world—Earth—each pantheon is instead a group of deities from a different world. The Egyptian gods are from a world inspired by ancient Egypt, the Greek gods come from a world inspired by ancient Greece, and so on. Read More

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The Genesis of Project Chaldea

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PART ONE

A couple of years ago, Peter Adkison came to me. “Hey, Steve, I’m going to film school. You wanna come with me? It’ll be great.”

Yes, he’s the same Peter Adkison who started Wizards of the Coast, the company that created the entire trading card game genre, first with the game Magic: The Gathering, then followed by an additional mega-TCG, Pokémon, and then with the purchase of TSR, Inc., he brought the world Dungeons & Dragons 3rd times-a-charm, (i.e., 3rd Edition). Once revered as the janitor at Wizards of the Coast and Game Mogul (both titles he proudly displayed on his business cards), Peter was determining his second career: film.

While film school sounded like it had potential, I flatly refused. At the time, I had three children in college and a fourth in private school. I needed to get my kids through college, and I could ill-afford to go back myself.

So, Peter ventured off to film school on his own, and I decided to lend my talents to Electronic Arts for a time, a relationship which abruptly ended two years later. (All things at EA seem to end abruptly, as near as I can tell, but that’s a story I only share with people who buy me expensive Scotch.)

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Call to Arms: An Art Department Take on Building War Room

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Call to Arms: An Art Department Take on Building War Room

 

How are fantasy worlds created? How do film productions build sets, costumes, and props? Let’s go behind the scenes at Chaldea’s art department workshop, the Anvil, where we will share our process of creating various features for “The World of Chaldea.”

My name is Leila Blue Aram-Panahi; most people just call me Blue. I’m the art director and run all of the Anvil’s day-to-day operations. In short, I manage the entire art department: budgets, schedules, designers, and the artists creating our sets, wardrobe, hair and makeup, decorations, and props. I ensure the aesthetic and textural details of our creations conform to the production designer’s vision. Jordin Mitchell, our production designer, creates the unique look of all our sets, wardrobe, hair and makeup, décor, and props, and he develops the overall design of the production. Everything that will appear in front of the camera goes through him first, and I’m here to confirm we’re all on the same page in bringing the look of our fantasy world to life.

Visually constructing a fantasy world is no small task, especially a world boasting as many diverse cultures as Chaldea. Peter Adkison and Steve Conard decided the best way to introduce our audience to Chaldea and some of its characters was with a film called War Room, the perfect behind-the-scenes topic for our first blog. This mixed media production intertwines graphic novel imagery with narrative film to highlight a historic moment in Chaldean history: the death of a god-emperor and the abrupt end of forty years of hard-earned peace. This news arrives at a climactic moment in the film, where the set was a character unto itself, something not lost on us as we took that set from concept to camera-ready. Read More

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