It varies greatly based on the game we are playing and the campaign I’m running.
Typically at the start of a campaign I’ll set out to find art that either matches my vision or helps inspire me. This is particularly helpful when launching non-fantasy game as it helps people grok the tone, atmosphere, and/or vibe I’m going for. It’s also a way of validating that my players and I are on the same page since I’ll often incorporate that art into the campaign itself. Players can say “that’s not how I envisoned that; how about this instead?”
This is where our Weird Pulp campaign truly shined – I was able to find an awesome mix of historic 1930s photos, old maps, and horror artwork to evoke the feel of the homegrown campaign setting. Even better, the players joined in, searching for artwork during the game that I’d then add to my collection.
This approach also worked well for my Day After Ragnarok campaign as I searched through Soviet military photos, urban archeology collections, and speculative artwork to capture to look of the world that drowned when the Midgard serpent fell to Earth, slain by an atomic bomb.
I’ll be using this technique again for my upcoming Mourningvale arc for my Dungeons and Dragons campaign. The arc features a mist-shrouded land over run with undead from the Fading Land of Necros; I expect there’s a ton of inspirational artwork out there.
I’d also like to use this approach for my upcoming Dragon Heist lunchtime campaign as a way of familiarizing myself with the Forgotten Realms in general and Waterdeep in particular.
I rely on Pinterest manage my art collections. I typically a new board for each campaign or story arc I’ll working on. In addition to organizing what I’ve found, it helps me find new artwork as Pinterest or other users suggest pins for the board. Here are a few of my favorite personal boards.
The Day After Ragnarok
Leveraging Technology at the Table
Depending on the campaign, I’ll use the artwork in-game by sharing it to the game room television via Apple TV. This was a tremendous help during Weird Pulp in particular since it helped people visualize what 1930s New York City looked like.
I’ve fallen out of the habit of using artwork at the table because we’ve been playing at other people’s houses. They don’t have Apple TVs, so sharing to a nice big display isn’t possible.
I’ve been considering getting a Chromecast as a workaround; the USB stick should work with most TVs and there’s usually a TV available in or near the room we are playing in.