In the wilds of Terminus, there exists a sect of Elves that defy the standard assumptions about the race. The Tohrn Elves are a mysterious and secretive group that most inhabitants of the world have never seen and have only heard scant rumors and hushed whisperings about. We sat down this month with JN Gerhart and Will Barry to gain some insight into this reclusive group and to learn about the design process that brought them to life.

Q: Can you give us a little history of who the Tohrn Elves are?

JN Gerhart (lead writer): The Tohrn are a cult of Elves who live in service of the god Tohrdaenyyr, who is also known as the “Endless Inferno”. Their way is antithetical to Elven life and with grave consequences. As part of the process of joining the Tohrn, prospective Elves must demonstrate a complete rejection of Faerthale life, relationships and norms, surrendering their autonomy in favor of gaining a supernatural gift known as “Tohrdaenyyr’s Sight”.

Q: Are they lead by one leader, or is there a council of some sort?

JN: There are a few levels to their hierarchy. Locally in the Murk, where the vast majority of the population is housed, there is a priestly order that functions in a primitive, council-like manner. But there’s a tinge of anarchy to them, and often this reduces to an argument of might makes right.

In other locations they have, well, another leader.

Q: What is their place in Terminus, and how do the other races perceive them?

JN: I mean they’re pretty much a fanatical sect of self-desecrating, swamp-dwelling cultists, so friends are pretty hard to come by. Few races outside of Faerthale have interactions with the Tohrn at this point, unless they are intentionally entering their domain in the Murk for an expedition, etc. Faerthale Elves see the Torhn almost as another race entirely, at least once they’ve pledged to Tohrdaenyyr and become part of the cult. This stems from the Elven history with this particular deity and the group that was the primary foe back on their home world

Q: What were the primary directives given to the Art team in regards to the lore, and how did the team interpret them?

Will Barry (Character Artist): I received some pointers prior to modeling about the context of the Tohrn Elves and their backstory. Most of the interpretation for the model came from the concept.

JN: We wanted a kit that was quite distinct from the normal Elves, a true subversion really, but also that retained some identifiable traits. So we started with the story and the environment and then tried to imagine how Elves who walked this path would choose to clothe themselves. Even if the Tohrn are a counterpoint to Elven culture in almost every way, we needed to build their design off of that first point to properly counter it.

On a detail level we also wanted to cover the “pristine in all seasons” Elven look with actual mud and filth, which Will did a great job pulling from the concept. You have to get pretty close to see it, but it speaks so clearly about the world they live in.

Q: Will, after you get the initial concept sketches, what’s the next step for you? What’s the process to take that to a realized, finish piece?

Will: For robe-like items I’d generally start on the cloth first, using marvelous designer or 3Dcoat cloth simulations. Once the cloth folds followed the concept, I’d start on the rest of the model. From there all the detail and shape is put into the High poly model, and then that is retopologized to a game resolution version. Base textures are baked from high poly to low poly, and finals are done in Substance painter and Unity. The final steps are to skin it (add weight painting) and export it for in game set up by Daniel.

Q: What programs do you use to bring the Tohrn Elves to life?

Will: Zbrush, Maya, Blender, Substance Painter. The high poly for most characters are done in Zbrush, but I use whatever tool works for the item that’s being modeled. Sometimes Blender, sometimes 3Dcoat, sometimes Marvelous designer, etc. Final textures and details are done in Substance Painter, such as leather, edgewear, and metal using PBR materials. Skinning and export is done in Maya.

Q: How long did it take to work on?

Will: It took a week and a half from start to finish. The headdress took another few days.

Q: What were the challenges for each of you during the process?

JN: Making sure that we properly incorporated the previous design elements of the Elves without making a flimsy, “bad guy version”. There needed to be a starting point that shared some base elements, but also an organic identity really grew on its own curve. Hopefully those elements are only obvious if you look closely.

Will: Styling the cloth folds and adding additional details to the outfit.