Today we would like to talk a little bit about Ratatöskr.
While developing Valhal, somewhere in 2015 or 2016, we came up with the backstory of Valhal – and things started to go their way. We found ourselves in a situation in which we were in the middle of creating a very historical and rather realistic Viking game, but we also wanted to have some humour and mythical elements in the game.
So we came up with this story of Vikings having a drink, making the Gods angry and having to fight for their place in Valhal. But we never wanted to directly include the Gods in the game. Whenever the Gods interact with the Players (like in the event cards), it is only perception, never direct contact.
So we decided to make one exception from that, which was the opening story. And as a creature that spends all day delivering messages from the top to the bottom of Yggdrasil, the world tree, the decision was quickly made that this role would fall to Ratatöskr. As Ratatöskr doesn't have a whole lot of historical background, we took the liberty to add a little bit to his character. And as his main role in the norse mythology is to deliver insults from the eagle to the snake and vice versa, we created this sassy and sometimes annoyed character, who actually has a „very important“ task and now is stuck with us, having to show us how to build our settlement.
If I remember correctly, the idea of including Ratatöskr as a collectors figure with the game came up that very same day we decided to have the character in the game. Of course it was still a long way to go until the game was finished, but since that day Ratatöskr was a part of it, and when Valhal got funded back in 2017, the Ratatöskr figure was actually the first part of the game that got finished.
The manufacturing of the figures started out with a clay model.
It's usually a bit of a back and forth until everything looks the way it is supposed to be. With Ratatöskr that actually wasn't the case, the clay artist delivered exactly what we were looking for right away, so a first mold was created in order to move forward to the painting part.
Again it is usually a bit of back and forth, but with Ratatöskr we also got to a good colour scheme pretty quickly. At this point we received the first real figure and were very happy with the outcome. The figure was cleared for mass production and a couple weeks later 100 Ratatöskr figures were ready for shipping.
As the first generation of Ratatöskr was a limited run, we had to come up with something new for the second print of Valhal. There were a couple of things we considered, like a raven or viking. But in the end we weren't satisfied with any of those ideas, so we decided to make another Ratatöskr figure. However, it was important to us to make it fairly different from the first generation, to keep the limited run first edition unique and special.
So this time we hired a digital 3D artist for the figure. We kept the basic layout of having the figure sit on the treestump, as it is so fitting to the story of Valhal – we tried a couple of different poses, but nothing came close to the original design. So we kept the pose, but added a nut into Ratatöskrs hands. Despite those rather minor changes, the new model looks very different from the old one, just based on the personal style of two different artists, the difference between clay and digital sculpting and a new color scheme.
In early 2020, just a couple of days before the intended start of the Valhal production, we noticed that the estimated price for the figure had drastically changed on the final quote from the first quote we had received earlier on. With the Kickstarter Pledges already in, we had to come up with an alternative solution. At first we considered asking for additional funds or just cancelling that part of the project completely. But luckily we also had purchased our first 3d printer just a couple of weeks prior, mainly with the intention of being able to print our own prototypes of plastic parts for future projects. Due to the fact that it is a SLA-printer, we are able to put out very high quality miniatures with all the details (and even more) that you would be used to from injection molding. By going this way we can cut down on costs like mold creation (which is a big part of the cost when only manufacturing a rather small series of figures) and also on things like shipping, customs and so on.
This new generation of Ratatöskr figures will be painted by Mario, who is a very accomplished miniature painter. So you will not only receive a collectible figure, but also a figure that has been hand painted by the creator of the game it comes with.
Over the years Ratatösker hasn't only become the mascot of Valhal, but also of Tetrahedron Games, as we use his image most of the time as Facebook profile picture, often include him in Valhal-related announcements and the figures do a great job of drawing attention whenever we are visiting fairs and conventions.
This was a little look at the history of Ratatöskr in our games and company. Leading up to the release of Valhal we plan to give you some more insight into different parts of the game, so stay tuned and let us know if there's any part you are especially interested in!