Thursday, 16 January 2014

The Most Wondrous Item: The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga (Part IV)

     More famous than any other fairy-tale dwelling --save perhaps that lowly witch's gingerbread house-- the Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga has a depth and a life of its own beyond its iconic owner/creator. One of my papercraft dreams has been to build it to run my adventurers up against, and now that dream is within reach! For the fantabulous Fat Dragon will be designing it for me (and others too), having listed it as the first stretch goal of his current Kickstarter project, the medieval village Ravenfell. And what do you know, not only did the project fund within a couple of hours yesterday, my chicken-legged wonder was reached by suppertime (and he launched at lunch)!
     Well, now Fat Dragon Tom is wondering what The Hut (Not Pizza, Not Jabba - better, tastier, more ancient, more powerful than both) should look like, having only worked out the tricky chicken leg geometry so far. So I will share a few ideas and illustrations over the next few posts... be sure to share yours in the comments here, and/or at the Kickstarter page, and/or the Fat Dragon forums.

Part I: Fairy-Tale & Folklore
Part II: Dungeons & Dragons
Part III: Pathfinder
Part IV: Hero's Quest / Quest for Glory

Part IV: Hero's Quest / Quest for Glory

While I was likely exposed to it as a child, being an avid reader of fairy-tales light, dark, and in-between, my deepest sense of Baba & her Hut comes from the best computer game of all-time, Sierra's Hero's Quest. Yup, you've heard me speak of that one before... the game that launched the series that would have to be renamed "Quest for Glory" because of a silly European board game that crossed the ocean and trademarked first. ;)

There are three versions of Baba Yaga's Hut in the QFG games, and I'll include images from both inside and out for each game below. One thing of curiosity, Baba Yaga is called an ogress, rather than witch or hag, in this game series.

1) Hero's Quest: So You Want to Be a Hero (EGA, 1989)
The first game is set in a valley around the Germanic folklore-inspired town of Spielburg. Here the Hut is depicted as a log cabin with touches of Bavarian or Slavic decoration, and the dimensions would appear to be roughly 15'w x 15'l x 15' h (at peak), both inside and out.

2) Quest for Glory: So You Want to Be a Hero (VGA remake, 1991)
Altogether, this is one of the scenes that varied most between original and remake versions of the first game. Here, the outside appears to be a post/log/stick shack with a straw roof, maybe circular in shape, roughly 12-15' in diameter or on a side and similarly high.
The inside is vastly different, for the first time paying tribute to the fairy-tale and Dungeons & Dragons accounts of an interior that doesn't conform to expectations - larger on the inside than out, an otherworldly lair...

3) Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness (1994)
After games two and three taking the Hero to Arabian- and African-inspired fantasy lands, we return to more familiar territory with the Slavic folklore-inspired country of Mordavia.
Here again we have a rounder, shaggier style of Hut,  this time almost African-savannah-inspired; it's looking to be a similar size to the QFGI remake. The interior is once again larger on the inside than out, but otherwise conforms to convention (for a witch's house, that is).

CONCLUSION: A base or platform that is attached to the chicken legs would make the most sense, where the base could be trimmed and shaped to fit the desired style of Hut on top. A 15' x 15' game-size or 3" x 3" real-sized square base, perhaps with trim or wall guides for circular, hexagonal, or octagonal layers. The Hut itself could change with the game if you wanted, used in the seated position, or on its own as another type of building. The Hut's interior could be sized to fit this model,    built as another larger model using E-Z Lock walls, or rendered on maptiles or a battle map.
As for the exterior shape and style of the Hut, which I think what Fat Dragon Tom was most concerned about, I like the square log-cabin Hero's Quest version best of the three. I like how it harkens to the Slavic-folklore roots of Baba Yaga, her Hut, and her stories. But, as is painfully obvious, the graphics are far from great, and Pathfinder artists come closest to bringing Baba Yaga's Dancing Hut to life. But that's for another post... 

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