It was sunny, I remember it being quite sunny at the time. Strange how you remember the little things, isn't it? I was traveling back through Ipswich Town Centre, it's not the nicest place in the world, which might explain why my mind was wandering off into dark and murky places.
In fact, it was on Bishops Hill, by the Loch Fyne restaurant that my brain, after 34 years of abuse, kicked into gear and game up with something of interest.
In that briefest of moments, Purgatory was reluctantly dragged into being.
I'd been working with some friends who I had known a long time on a project called Paranoid-Miniatures. It was a Cthulu based game with a 1920's theme that had a real spark. With the work of HP Lovecraft now in the free domain there was a huge ready built universe for these guys, amongst others to explore.
Initially I was hooked by the project, working with friends, particularly strong characters is both extremely exciting and challenging at the same time, however as time progressed I had a strong sense of feeling that the opportunity was not right for me, especially at that time.
Choosing to exit something like that is quite hard, relationships become strained and miscommunication can test the very boundaries and limits of friendship. It is hard on both parties but in hindsight and after a few strong coffees both parties are in a good place. Paranoid-Miniatures had a stand at Salute 2015 and it was a great success, their first model, the Sea Queen was positively received and I was there with Mark patrolling the floor with flyers in hand, doing our bit. The moral of the story here being, that it didn't matter in the end that we had gone separate ways in a business capacity, the friendship soaked it up and there we were helping to make this already exciting small business an even bigger success!
It's here that my path on Purgatory started. If you rewind to before the Bishops Hill moment of lucidity, I had been thinking on the things I had enjoyed as part of the Paranoid Group. The excitement of receiving art, designing ideas and bringing these things to life was something I had not experienced. It's not like a drug, because a drug is designed to de-stress you not the other way round.
But once you have experienced that moment when your thoughts are transformed onto paper, I'm sure there are very few that would turn back.
I had to do something myself.
My brain had clearly registered this and like a programme running in the background, it was obviously having a good old think about what it was that I could do by myself. Fast forward back to Bishops Hill and you are as up to date (albeit quite succinctly) as you can be.
At the time I felt like Neo in the Matrix, Morpheus had pressed the upload button and basically I was inundated with ideas, concepts, characters and approaches. It happened at a million miles and hour and I was just not ready. Not even slightly.
As quick as it began, it was over. My cerebrum was a smoking husk of singed meat. As I lifted my drooling head off the steering wheel (important note here, try and encourage thoughts to come out when stationary) it was like the film Limitless, where Bradley Cooper can just see limitless potential and opportunity. I was like Bradley, which is the closest comparison I am ever likely to have with that guy, unless he ever decides to play a part where his character is ridiculously annoying :)
So what was Purgatory?!
The idea was centred around Angels. It's as simple as that. As a painter I always thought model angels that I had seen where always a bit underwhelming. Whilst I play games and this will be a game, I am a painter and hobbyist first and foremost.
Don't get me wrong, there are some wonderful sculpts out there but most are at a much large scale, 54mm, 75mm etc, which leaves little room to use them in a gaming capacity.
So that was it, the brain said Angels. After that I started to dwell on the idea, first and foremost whilst there was a potential market for Angels, it was all a bit too simple. There needed to be something more, something that could act as a background anchor for what I was about to set out and do.
The brain had been jump started post melt down and ideas started to come together. Most importantly how I could integrate other ideas with this Angel and who would be the nemesis. The very basis of a story was coming together in my mind and my previous involvements with Warhammer Fantasy helped me to find some solid ground.
In the unlikeliest of sources, Games Workshop Orcs and Golblins, I found my answer. 'Grots' has always been the mocked and derided of fantasy models/characters. Small, weedy, runty creatures of low intelligence but with degree of cunning. Oddly enough, I immediately linked these to what my humans would be.
Now, for the sake of wanting to build an audience, please don't be offended by that, I'm not calling you a grot, neither am I questioning or challenging your pedigree or lineage. Instead, in my mind, I was already setting a balancing mechanism marker.
Angels, typically are quite powerful. They have big flaming swords, muscular in appearance, golden locks and can cure ailment at 20,000 paces with but a glance of their eyes. Making a range of models or even a game with a load of high power, elite beings would be far too challenging. They needed to be the pinnacle.
So humans had to have a big part to play and that is truly where Purgatory began. It began when I realised that the setting for my universe was going to be modern day Earth, but an Earth that knows categorically that Angels and Devils are not a deity or something you can summon into a glass bottle with a Ouija Board. These guys were here, on Earth doing their thing and we Humans, we were the chaff, the cattle but also the spoil.
If you are reading this, then you probably have seen the main banner of our Facebook page. This piece of art was not the first, but it represents a nice marker to end this first part of our story. The art I speak of is called "Heaven Fall" and it was created by the very talented Ania Kryczkowska. It is a colourful piece and it really gets you thinking. Ania got this in absolutely one hit using my appalling scribble and remains one of my favourite pieces of art to date. The statement being:
"It was at this point, as God banished his fallen children from the Heavens, that Man truly knew, that he was not alone and that everything would change from now until forever."
I hope you have enjoyed this and I will be bring more to you in the coming days and weeks.
Next Up: "How Artists Inspired Purgatory"