Gloranthan Woman’s Dress in Blue and Sea Green from King of Dragon Pass

Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

One Valentine’s Day a decade ago when I was in college, my boyfriend gave me a computer game called King of Dragon Pass. I may have looked a little askance at a Valentine’s gift that didn’t come in a heart-shaped red box, but after playing a bit, it became clear that this guy had an excellent sense of what made me happy. (Reader, I married him.)

King of Dragon Pass is a strategy game where you manage every aspect of an clan, making decisions such as which gods to sacrifice to, which of your neighbors to ally with and which to attack, how to amass wealth and respect and how peaceful (or otherwise) your clan is, all while solving day-to-day problems with the help of your clan’s council. It’s set in a fantasy world called Glorantha, which I gather has a long history as a setting for board games and role-playing games, so there’s a whole pantheon of gods and customs to learn about while you pay attention to things like setting up trade routes and training warriors. I love games like that, with so much that needs paying attention to, and I also like that there are so many different events and things to find that even I haven’t seen all of them. (And I loved that game to little tiny pieces, let me tell you.)

Somehow, I always ended up playing the same way: my clan winds up as a fairly peaceful and prosperous bunch of Ernalda (earth mother) worshippers. When I try to be all warlike and propitiate Humakt (death god) and bully my neighbors, I never really get anywhere. Even still, there’s always so many things to take care of and new situations that it never gets old to me. Plus, I love the art: the game itself is text-based, but each event has a beautifully drawn image to go with it. (You can buy some of the original art, although I think all things considered, I’d rather not be hanging that particular chaos monstrosity on my walls.) If you like simulation or strategy games at all, I really recommend it – it’s got a steep learning curve, but with patience, it’s a very rewarding game.

King of Dragon Pass has been on my mind because, more than a decade after it was released, the developers are working on versions for the iPhone, iPod Touch and possibly the iPad! Now, I own none of these devices, but I’m excited anyways, because I love this game and I’d be really happy to see it get popular on those platforms.

Sadly, I haven’t played King of Dragon Pass for many years now, since I haven’t been able to find the CD even though I’ve looked everywhere for it. I think the last time I saw it was three or four apartments ago, and every so often I will have an overwhelming desire to manage cattle and I’ll look for it… I can’t imagine that we got rid of it, even accidentally, but we don’t really have too much stuff… I dropped some hints (on the order of “Hey, you should get this for me, OK?”) to Brian that I wanted the Mac version for Christmas, so he ordered it for me, but hasn’t heard back from anyone yet. I hope I get it soon!

The women generally wear long dresses with a different-colored tunic, belted at the waist, although there’s a fairly good selection of outfits, since women can take on a lot of jobs including trading, hunting and fighting. This is just a generic outfit that’s not really based on anything in particular.

Mermaid Monday #11: White Mermaid Ball Gown with Embroidered Choli Top and Aquamarine Overskirt

Click for larger version; click for the list of dolls.

Mermaids are not universally welcome at human balls. In most kingdoms near the sea their presence is unremarkable, but the further inland one goes the less mermaids visit, and the appearance of one at a ball can be a serious disruption. It’s not surprising that they cause annoyance and envy among the human women and prompt duels and inconvenient attachments among the human men, but besides that they are difficult to feed, not always aware of proper deportment and their air of superiority and condescension is often a little hard to take for humans of either sex. One insecure queen went so far as to ban them from all events given during her reign. (Mermaids mostly stay out of human politics, but stung by this, the equally insecure empress of the nearest mermaid empire ensured that said reign would be a short one by secretly inciting treason and eventually civil war in that kingdom. The loss of life and damage to the kingdom was incalculable, but the mermaids got their dances back.)

A mermaid choosing a gown for a ball thrown by humans generally wants to outdo every other woman there, human and mermaid alike, because the most common fault among them is vanity, followed closely by pride. Some of them do it by going with human fashions, thereby beating the human women at their own game, and some prefer to go with gowns designed for mermaids, which tend to evoke the sea, be less formal and hide the legs. (Most mermaids are self-conscious about having legs, as the vast majority of cheap mystics really don’t have the skill or knowledge of anatomy to form perfect ones for very long, so mermaid skirts are inevitably long and loose. The mermaid wearing a miniskirt is the one who gave up her firstborn.) This dress is definitely a mermaid gown; the human women at the ball where this will be worn will all be wearing more elaborate gowns, closer to what I think of as stereotypical princess gowns: tight bodices, poofy skirts. (Although some human women near the sea, where mermaids are more likely to show up to balls, have taken to wearing things mermaids can’t: shorter dresses, gowns slit up the side, tight skirts.) The choli-style top, the lotus and wave pattern, the fluttery aquamarine overskirt all make this gown arresting and otherworldly: just the thing for toying with the hearts of humans, leaving them crushed like a shellfish dropped onto a rock by a seagull. Later the human women will gossip about how revealing and tacky the top was, how unfashionable the whole savage getup was compared to their gowns, but the target of their ire will be already safely back under the sea with new stories to tell.

Blue Watery Masquerade Ball Gown with Satin Blue Underskirt and Crystals

Click for larger version; click for the list of dolls.

So recently, I got an e-mail from Diana asking if I could draw a dress for a roleplay she was taking part in. I went through and read the scenario, and Diana’s character Leslie is a human spy in a magical world who has to infiltrate a masquerade ball attended by aristocrats. So I thought this was a fun challenge: what sort of thing might a spy wear to such a ball? It’s dead easy to make a gown that says “hey everyone, look at me!” or one that says “I am a Woman of Mystery” but one that looks expensive and magical enough that no one questions its wearer’s right to be there, yet isn’t so noticeable that everyone winds up talking about her… fun. I ended up going with blue, a rich but soothing color, and an overskirt with fabric like shimmering water and seafoam, studded with crystals — although I don’t really think the crystals worked out too well. Oh well. Diana, I hope you like it anyways, and I look forward to seeing where the story goes!

The poll is yet ongoing…

Blue and Sea Green Mermaid Tail with White and Gold Top

Click for larger version; click for the list of dolls.

If you like this mermaid, click the “Mermaid Monday!” tag for more — I draw a mermaid, or a mermaid-related outfit, every Monday.

Me and my mermaids! I don’t know when I started drawing paperdolls, but I can assure you there was a mermaid tail or two among those first batches, unscanned and lost. In the doll-drawing process the question “Is she mermaidable?” is a lot more important than “Are her hands right?” (Because the odds are good her hands aren’t right, and I may as well worry about what’s fixable.)

The mermaid tail process has actually been about the same since I started. Consider Exhibit A, one of about a dozen mermaids drawn for the long-gone Paper Doll Boutique, and Exhibit B, Anna’s foray into mermaidhood. I thought I had lost it, but, unlike many things that could be classified as useful life skills, coloring mermaid tails is something I’ve retained, and the basic technique has always been the same. (The main difference between exhibit A and B and the current one is the method used for blending. At the time of the Boutique, I was blending with white and not the colorless blender, which gives them an odd pearly look… Plus the scanner was not as nice as my current one.) I should do a tutorial sometime, it’s really quite easy.