Wednesday 22 June 2022


This week is the tipping point where I really do feel like AI is going to steal work from human creators. Of course this has been obvious for a while, but now I can see it in action in my own hands, as I've been testing out Midjourney for image creation. Naturally I prompt it to spawn inane creations that make me chuckle, but I've also been using it for actual RPG stuff. 

I tried it out on Primeval Bastionland hoping to slot in some placeholder art to help me and my playtesters visualise the world. 

Similar to the Failed Career spreads from Electric, I'm working on separate Knight and Myth pages for Primeval Bastionland. The former are your PCs, and bank of character ideas, the latter your world broadly painted through stories, all real. Underneath their name each gets a a two line shot of flavour text, just like the Failed Careers, but here I've leaned into some flowery poetry. For each of the entries I started the AI off with just the flavour text and a few general guidelines ("Greyscale Medieval Art" and canvas size)

Prompt: The Order. They were six in the circle, no first among them Each a knight and sage, master and student. Greyscale medieval art.

The first and most obvious thing about this art is it's actually good. There are tricks you can learn to get better outputs, but the real trick is to keep trying until you get something that looks good. Even then, the AI struggles with details, especially when you want actual humans.

God help you if you want somebody riding a horse.

Prompt: Female Knight. Within a blink they were on their steed Knight and horse at one, a red streak in the green. Greyscale medieval art.

That one took a LOT of attempts. You can't be too strict about composition either, but if you want dreamy mythic visions then this is good stuff. Making creepy scenes is easymode.

The Mournful spirit. They wandered ahere and athere, drawn by sorrow. Old as the sun, timid as a child. Greyscale medieval concept art.

So this tool can't do everything (yet?) but aside from helping out artless writers, there's something I actually really like about it for this project.

It throws out things that I don't think a human artist would draw.

WAIT I know how that sounds. Of course human artists can surprise you, even if you give them a relatively specific brief. 

The difference is that the AI doesn't seem to give a shit about making you happy. You aren't paying it. So sometimes you'll really want a Wyvern and it keeps giving you stuff like this.

(Prompt: The Wyvern. All jaw and neck like knotted string. All wing and tail a baleful sting. Greyscale, medieval, concept art.)

Yeah it's my fault really. When I wrote that flavour text I wasn't imagining it would be interpreted by a robot, so we get a monster that is literally "all wing and neck". No human would interpret the brief that way.

But I want this world to be a bit weird and dreamy, right? Maybe I can get on board with this Wyvern.

Well, no. I'm pretty sure I want this thing to have some sort of discernible anatomy.

Or... do I?

And that exemplifies why I'm enjoying this process so much. 

 (Prompt: When night met day, where water flame. They saw the child, rejoiced in name. Greyscale medieval art.)


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  1. Was coincidentally discussing the topic of AI generated art last night after discovering DALL-E, which seems to have a ridiculous set of capabilities. It's incredibly exciting and terrifying at the same time(like most technology). I love supporting artists, but the idea that those without skill can eventually make something they imagine feels so brilliant to me. Like a dream come true. On the flip side, it's at a point where I can tell an AI to make something in the style of an artist I love and it feels like stealing.

  2. you're missing something crucial here: Although the AI is the visual artist, in the sense that it produces the actual image, YOU are the CURATOR of these images, and curation itself is indisputably art. our capitalist, production-obsessed society likes to malign curators, but at the end of the day I would definitely rather have AI-generated images curated by a human hand than artificially-curated "human art"

  3. I use NightCafe Studio for AI art. Even released a thing with it. Take a look, if you want:

  4. Since I discovered, I have tried to use it for game design, but the tech just isn't there yet. Thanks for the tips about phrasing inputs

  5. I find curious how none of them even tried to look remotely "medieval". I'd love to see an AI generate images in actual medieval illuminated manuscript style.

  6. I love this. Its so unique. Like a Dali painting, or Pink Floyd song, this art is cold and dark and kinda sad... Sad robot art. I love it .