Paintings

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They were four

1309 - near Oxford, England
We chose this painting, by Nick Oroc, for our box art. This is a particularly bold move since a standard wargame box will almost always simply show two armies clashing, usually with the ‘good’ side on the left and the ‘evil’ side on the right (or something along those lines). Here we wanted to do something radically different—we did not want to show an actual battle but rather give the players the perspective of what it would feel like to live the everyday life of a warrior in Ex illis.


The scene depicts a small mercenary war camp right after a skirmish (because let’s face it, even with 100 warriors per side, these are still skirmishes). Even if fighting is an everyday occurrence for them, the group is still shaken after going through the intensity of a battle. The warriors stand silent, unable to rest, reliving the memory of the recent clash, and each one is glad he did not end up dead like the comrade or enemy closest to him. We wanted to give these warriors a slightly tensed, ‘piss off, we don’t want to be in a group picture’, kind of look. And it was just plain fun showing how massive an 8- foot-tall archangel clad in heavy armour would look like next ordinary soldiers!




Brothers in arms

1250 - Lengadòc, France
The image was made by the artist Nick Oroc. This piece was pivotal in our development because it really exemplified the artistic direction we had envisioned for this project: fantasy, with a palpable realism, and an emotional colour that goes beyond the standard ‘angry killer’ we find over and over again in similar games.


The scene takes place in 1249 after the Pope declared Lengadòc to be damned and brigands used it as an excuse to ravage and pillage the country. It is located in southern France - you can see the coat of arms of the Comté de Toulouse (still very much around today) on one of the fighters in the back scene.


The image depicts the aftermath of a battle which took place the night before. A soldier is caring for a mortally wounded brother in arms, and brings him to a quiet stream so he can let go of life in peace. Here we wanted to contrast the image of a dying man with the beauty and peacefulness of the countryside. We also wanted to highlight the fact that dying by sword is not clean or quick like we see in movies or video games. More often than not, it’s a long, messy and painful process that sometimes can take up to hours or even days.




After the Mongols

1258 - Frankfurt, Mainz
This image, made by artist Florent Masurel, depicts Frankfurt after the Mongol army took hold of the city.


During the invasion of Germany, the Mongols rushed deep inside German territory and, seeing their position might be a bit more stretched than ideal, decided to use an incredibly cruel but efficient intimidation technique - they offered the city two choices: either a complete surrender, in which case only the rulers and their family would be executed, or a siege, in which case everyone would perish. Unsurprisingly, the rulers tried to defend their cities (they themselves did not have much to lose!), but were no match for the Mongols, renowned for their excellent siege engineers. The matter was quickly resolved. Once the Mongol hordes flooded into the city, they decapitated every living soul, men, women and children, and piled their heads outside the walls as a warning to others.


The rest of the German cities were much more compliant.


This image was done in a rougher style than usual, giving the piece a harsher tone in order to capture the intensity of the moment.





Ravage

1268 - near München, Bayern
This image, made by artist Nick Oroc, was specially conceived to be used as the cover of the issue of Ravage magazine where the Baneret knight, a French heavy-cavalry hero, was distributed with the magazine as a promotion. Simpler in its concept than our other artwork, this image was more of challenge in its composition since it needed to be balanced both for a magazine cover and for a full widescreen shot.


It depicts a battle scene during the Rückeroberung, the Western reconquest of Mongol-occupied Germany. Besides having to face one of the best warrior-people in history, the campaign was made even more difficult by the fact the Eastern invaders were reinforced by hordes of demons. A few years prior, the hellish creatures who unwillingly appeared in Europe soon found themselves hunted down by the Inquisition, angelic warriors and pretty much anyone in Christendom who could wield a sword. It was of course considered a noble and saintly act to slay a demon, winning the killer much personal glory and ‘eternal salvation’. Facing such oppression, many demons sought refuge in Mongol-occupied Germany where they found the Eastern invaders more than happy to leverage the fighting skills of such potent allies. With the Rückeroberung, the demons fought to prevent Christian Germany from sending inquisitors to hunt them down once again.


With this image, we wanted to mark a contrast between the battle and a brighter, almost pastoral background.




Father and son

1274 - Champagne, France
Volta Creation Team
This is the very first image that was made here at Bastion, with a style slightly different from what the final art direction ended up being. With this piece of art, we wanted to show the innocence and vulnerability of a child amidst the violence and insanity of men.


It takes place in 1274 during the Captura Grandis instigated by Charlemagne. Here, an inquisitor, with a host of papal and angelic warriors, is storming into a small hamlet, arresting everyone who shows signs of ‘impurity’ and killing those who oppose them. The Church conducts these raids from time to time to demonstrate its complete authority, both spiritual and temporal, over the Christian world. During this period, anyone who dares disobey ends up dead.


Yet here is a man, visibly tired and wounded, who is standing up against the Church to protect his child. Child mortality was extremely high (roughly 33% of the population did not reach the age of 6) and this would be even more so the case in a world like the one depicted in Ex illis. For a man to risk his life like this, the child must be very important to this man; maybe the last member of his family, or the living memory of a beloved wife.


And so, even if he does not stand a chance, the man looks at the inquisitor who claims his son and replies: Over my dead body.




Ambition

1290 - Roma, Papal States
This dramatic painting by Florent Masurel depicts one of the most intense moment in Ex illis’s story: the death of Pope Bonifacius VIII, which marks the end of the Crozada Coeli.


Bonifacius, an ambitious man who dreamt of the Church ruling over the State, used the murder of Charlemagne as an opportunity to claim such power. He declared a crusade against the European kings and emperors who defied him, confident that the common people would not dare oppose his will and that his mighty Papal Army could overcome any enemy in the field. But Bonifacius made two significant mistakes that cost him his life - the people, who had suffered years of inquisitorial oppression, were not all that willing to obey the Church against the will of their suzerains, and the Templar Order, one of the Church’s strongest arms, defected at a pivotal moment after a theological disagreement.


Hours before the imminent fall of Roma, Bonifacius dressed in his most formal clothing and waited patiently on the papal throne. As the victorious army and angered fleaudians stormed into the room, the Holy Father kept an impassive composure and waited solemnly for the first rushing soldier to plunge a sword into his heart.




Evocati vs. Nephilim

1292 - Erzgebirge, Ostdeustcher Reich
This painting by Florent Masurel was specially conceived to be used as the cover of June/July 2010 Ravage magazine issue. This image had to fulfill both the requirements for magazine covers and full widescreen shot. The illustration was also made to represent the new Archangels (Evocati and Nephilim), and the evolution of Ex illis’ gameplay.


After the Crozada Coeli, angels repudiated by the Catholic Church scatter in Europe, mainly in Germany where the numerous forests offer them hideouts to escape the hordes of Christians and fleaudians running after them. The scene takes place in the Erzgebirge (the Ore Mountains), a mountain range in East Germany. Fallens have set an ambush to surprise a group of angels lost in the unwelcoming mountains.


The image is a close up taken on the fly of a duel between a Nephilim and an Evocati in the midst of the forest. The Nephilim jumps from a tree to attack the Evocati who quickly grasps his sword and aims it at his opponent to avoid a certain death.


To distinguish both creatures, you need to look at the Evocati’s full wings compare to the Nephilim’s stumps. Furthermore, the Nephilim’s clothing shows his life spent in the woods while his opponent’s romanish and clean clothes recalls his years of service in the papal armies.




The cathedral's ruins

1294 - Strossburi, Free imperial city of Strossburi
This painting, made by Florent Masurel, was aimed to show the sheer scale of some medieval buildings, particularly the gothic cathedrals. In the Middle Age, cathedrals’ high ceilings illustrated the medieval men’s desire to reach God’s heaven through architecture. The scene also depicts the ruins of Church’s past greatness. The opposition between the cathedral’s magnificence and its present desuetude state completes this metaphor.


The scene takes place many years after the cathedral of Strossburi’s destruction during Charlemagne’s murder in 1281. Enraged and emboldened by their misdeed, the dwarves and many fleaudians burnt the building under construction. Luckily, most of the stones resisted the burning flames.


The image depicts a Nephilim, in the background, returning into the cathedral to appreciate its vastness and enjoy its tranquility. There is an aura of stillness and solitude about the painting which contrasts with the memory of the fighting that took place many years prior. The light crossing the damaged windows adds both a peaceful and eerie note to the scene.





South Wind

1303 - near Porchester, England
These superb colours painted by artist Florent Masurel were used to depict the often neglected naval aspect of warfare.


After the events of the Crozada Coeli, the collapse of the papal authority created an unforeseen problem for the great European kings: without a Pope to sanctify their divine right to rule, the kings soon found themselves challenged by bold lords who used this as an excuse to defy their authority. One such particularly ambitious lord is the recently revived Duke William of Normandie (aka the Conqueror), who is not willing to accept that his hard-fought title of King is (unsurprisingly) not recognized by Edward I. He allies himself with the rebellious Marcher Lords in 1298 and assembles a large invasion force and finally sets sail five years later.


Here, we wanted to show what it would feel like to be that one first guard seeing the armada nearing the shore of England; we wanted to show how alone one must feel when facing an entire army! Obviously the thing to do is to run to warn others, but most would probably take a minute to gaze in awe, realising that their lives would forever be changed.




London

1309 - London, England
This painting, made by Florent Masurel, was intended to illustrate Edward I’s biography’s last scene. This image also shows the state of the Christian world in 1309, as many cities and villages are burning and bleeding.


The scene takes place when Edward I wakes up after a long sleep and finds the city of London covered with thick smoke. He then hunts down his son who was ruling, but ended up being a mediocre leader, and is now besieged from all sides by his enemies. Instead of fighting, the prince hides himself in the nooks and crannies of the Tower of London, refusing to face his fate.


In this image, the English king just finds his son, huddled up on the fortress’ walls where the view on the burning city is striking. On the left, the king seems to wear rags, but it is because he just left his bed and, in his anger, did not take time to dress with proper clothes. Furthermore, his decrepit features and white and scattered hair shows the pains of the disease he just overcame.


The red and orange shades of the painting depict the urgency to react and the deteriorated state of the city. Edward I cannot waste time, he has to quickly find a solution to save his kingdom and his crown.

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