Fantasy Flight, the publishers of some of the biggest and best board games around (from Star Wars to Arkham to Game of Thrones), have a little tradition going among staff: Once you’ve worked there for five years, you get to appear as a character in one of their games.
While this might sound like the same kind of thing you see in video games, where some random NPC is named after a developer, the nature of board games, with their decks of cards, mean that you often get to see these guys and girls as often as you do characters like Luke Skywalker, Jon Snow, and Aragorn.
I actually had no idea this was a thing until the weekend, when this Reddit post highlighted the work of artist Aurore Folny, who was responsible for this incredible illustration of Molly Glover, a designer and producer at Fantasy Flight who has worked on games like Rebellion: Rise of the Empire.
So I got in touch with Fantasy Flight to ask about the practice, and they confirmed that, yup, anyone who works there for over five years gets to pick an IP the company owns and get themselves in a game. They also sent a bunch of examples of other employee cameos over.
What’s cool about these is that they’re not just a simple case of adding a face to an existing idea. Many of these are planned from the ground up. Glover, for example, has a number of tattoos on her wrists and arms, but with her tribute slated for Arkham Horror’s card game, that could have been a bit weird, since women didn’t really have tattoos in the 1920s. So she worked with the artist to have her tattoos depicted as blood-soaked ritual carvings instead, and the character’s name (Olive McBride) draws from both her maiden name and a character name from a past renaissance festival performance.
Here are some of the other examples of five-year veterans getting their faces in a game, with details in the captions :
The next time you’re playing a Fantasy Flight game, then, and you’re about to drop a powerful card on the table, just remember that while the title might say it’s Elesidor Windwhistle, Paladin of the North Realms, it’s really just Frank from HR.
UPDATE: The Witcher developers CD Projekt Red do it for Gwent cards too: