Crafting The Gene-Splicers For The Drowned Earth

September 12, 2017 by crew

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As a gamer, it is a fair assumption that we have at one point in our lives imagined ourselves in the worlds we hold so dearly. Whether that is imagining we are fighting the Covenant on a Halo ring or mounting up in a Tau Crisis Suit for the greater good. Everything can become an RPG creating greater immersion and involvement with the things we enjoy.

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Then The Drowned Earth came along. For those of you who don't know, The Drowned Earth is...

“An alternate Sci-Fi tabletop miniatures game set in a land of ancient ruins, and lost technology.”

The world James Baldwin has created screamed out to me. It is everything I have ever wanted from a game. It comes with a rich, flavorful, and unique backstory closer to an RPG than any other game I can think of. It is a truly unique concoction of genres and has the added benefit of including Dinosaurs.

Drowned Earth Gameplay

I cannot deny I have a small Kickstarter addiction having backed plenty of great projects. The Drowned Earth, however, offered something fairly unique, an opportunity to go beyond imagining myself in the world. It was a limited ‘Gene-Splicer’ pledge level, that offered me and four backers the chance to work alongside the creative team to design and create a unique set of characters for the game.

Creating Characters

It is fair to say all of us Gene-Splicers had a seed of an idea before backing at this level, and upon the successful funding of said Kickstarter, that seed quickly began to flourish. We were in a group chat very quickly; ideas were bouncing off the walls. This was a great opportunity to develop the initial concepts we all had.

In the end, the greatest benefit I think we gained from this is all of our characters feel part of this world, and feasibly look as if they belong together. It goes without saying it had the added effect of making us all even more excited for this game.

I personally know James initially had reservations about this pledge, rightfully so. Our ideas could potentially have not fitted in this world of his, or we could have been asking for too much. I think he soon realised we are just as immersed into this world as he has been for its entire conception.

Our characters are to form the mercenaries in the world, played alongside other established factions, or to fight as one coherent force.


This all began with Liliana, the backer created character, and artwork by Paul Ridgon, as our leader.

Crafting Kalhana

My character has not strayed too far away from its initial idea; an Elephant/Human hybrid, possibly the last of its kind. He is intended to be the heavy of the group.

Kalhana concept

James was to act as the mediator between us and Nicolas Amoroso, the artist. We were asked to answer the following questions and here were my answers...

  • Name - Kalhana
  • Species – Elephant/Human
  • Gender - Undermined
  • Age – 25-30
  • Important features – Broken off Tusks
  • Ranged Weapon- Large machine gun
  • Melee – Tusk Punching Dagger
  • Other Equipment – Leave to artist
  • Clothing - Zulu
  • Pose – Leave to artist
  • Notes – Trunk carrying ammo chain

The idea behind this character is that he is possibly one of the last of their kind. On the run from hunters, who seek to come for them, they have decided to turn the tide against their pursuers. In the thick vegetation and undergrowth of Ulaya, their tusks proved cumbersome and awkward. Forced to break their own tusks for survival, they now have them strapped to their forearm to use as punching daggers.

Kalhana Coloured Concept

I actually sketched the concept of the weapon. Let’s just say everyone will be relieved that Nicolas did a far better job with it. I don’t want to give away too much of Kalhana’s back story however too, as the official fluff is coming in the rulebook.

Then it was just a waiting game, and it was well worth the wait. Now I am hoping your first impressions, are the same as mine. WOW. I loved it. Nicolas Amoroso, the artist, has done an incredible job realising my idea as he has done, with all of the Gene-Splicers concepts. You will have to wait to see those though. A few days later, I received the coloured version you can see above.

He was one serious beast, with a serious attitude. Incredible is the word I am constantly using to describe Kalhana. The mercenaries now have their tank. We will have to wait and see how useful they are and there is a rumbling of a Gene-Splicer RPG event with our characters but, I have been sworn to secrecy on that.

A few months pass with me ever eager for James W. Cain, the sculptor, to begin work on rendering up the miniature. I was not disappointed when he did.

Kalhana Render

Overall it largely sticks with the concept art, maintaining important features; dress, broken tusks, trunk assisted ammo belt feeding, and weapons. The noticeable differences are the design of the weapons. The punching dagger is far more rudimentary, and it could be said better suits the overall character.

The second difference is of course the machine gun, James has created a custom weapon mount for it, and it blew me away. I had not even considered anything like that, and it has been executed to perfection.


The model offers up lots of opportunity for the painter, particularly with the skin. You can go to town with the blending, however, I think the real opportunity comes from having the surface area to add a substantial amount of free hand tattoos and scaring.

Playtesting has been underway for the game and James Baldwin has informed me that Kalhana has had to have their stats consistently dropped as he is proving too powerful. I argue it suits the character but I am biased of course. It has been a real joy to get to do something like this and I am looking forward to seeing how other Drowned Earth fans take to my character and his fellow mercenaries.

If you have any questions about The Drowned Earth, or about my outside perspective, James Baldwin, and I will certainly be in the comments below. I will leave you with the party though.


As you can see work has also begun on the other character renders too with some of them here below...




With that, it would be fantastic to hear what you think about our crew of miscreants and misfits and what you make of the character designs too!

Written by Tristan Cotterill (@Minigiant on BoW)

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"It was a limited ‘Gene-Splicer’ pledge level, that offered me and four backers the chance to work alongside the creative team to design and create a unique set of characters for the game..."

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"I am looking forward to seeing how other Drowned Earth fans take to my character and his fellow mercenaries..."

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