With The Silver Bayonet: Egypt: Shadow of the Sphinx out now in the UK, we have one more blog for you - from our friends at Brainbug Design diving behind the scenes on the supplement's artwork...

Greetings! I’m Jay, cofounder of Brainbug Design, the visual development studio entrusted by Osprey Games with creating the art style for The Silver Bayonet! We’ve been accompanying them on this Napoleonic odyssey from the rulebook through its myriad globetrotting expansions, to the latest sun-bleached supplement, Egypt: Shadow of the Sphinx.

When Osprey Games ordered Brainbug to prepare arms and fix styluses for the game’s expansion into Egyptian territories, a buzz of excitement rippled through the team. It wasn’t until a volley of incredible briefs were sent hurtling our way that we fully understood the epic quest that lay ahead of us. We hope that players will share that sense of excitement and anticipation when unpacking this fully loaded addition to the series!

Ahead of the release, I wanted to take a closer look at one of my personal favourites, the Dromedary Regiment trooper.

A stylised, black and white sketch-like illustration of a Napoleonic cavalryman in an eyepatch and cloak mounting a camel, with skulls and a khopesh hanging from the saddle

Part of Napoleon’s ‘Camel Corps’, dromedary regiments – as the name suggests – were a division of French cavalrymen that rode into battle astride hardy camels. The cultural clash of European soldiers garbed in traditional regalia riding giant Saharan beasts into combat was fertile ground for world-building. Against the backdrop of Joseph A. McCullough’s monster-ravaged take on the Napoleonic era, these unlikely units opened the floodgates for so many cool ideas and roleplaying scenarios.

In his personal memoirs, French Marshal of the Empire August de Marmont described his admiration for the Camel Corps:

“There were 600 men mounted on 600 camels; each soldier carried his ammunition and food for himself and his beast (a week’s rations), and they were able to make several days’ excursion in the desert without suffering. Never was a force more appropriate to the country whether it was employed and it rendered great service.”

While I’m sure this was true in history, in the world of The Silver Bayonet, there are a few small issues that might make those units a little less prepared for their environment: an epidemic of recently awoken man-eating creatures, ancient curses reanimating the dead, and mutant wildlife plaguing the globe!

A painting of Napoleon and his army mounted on camels marching through the desert An illustration of a mounted soldier in Napoleon's Camel Corps

When designing the character, we wanted him to feel grounded (the surrounding world is strange enough!) but we didn’t want to miss an opportunity to bake interesting story elements into the sketches. I was personally drawn to the idea that this cavalryman had lost contact with his unit or – worse – that they had fallen to a Pharaoh’s curse and were riding their undead camels across the wastes to claim him. In this context, I could imagine him with the steely look of a man forced further and further into the Saharan nowhere in a bitter fight for survival.

I pictured him surviving alone in the desert for extended periods, collecting protective amulets and human remains from unearthed tombs, besting brave Bedouin fighters in hand-to-hand combat and, for his troubles, receiving an ancient khopesh (a curved Egyptian sword) – perhaps one that possesses unexpected enchantments that aid him in killing monsters.

Another key thing I had in mind when creating the sketches was conceptualizing this character as a ‘functional’ soldier – someone you could imagine not just in combat but ‘at work’ in a whole range of day-to-day scenarios. Whether packing his camel with supplies or mounting the creature whilst sternly scanning the horizon, I wanted to combine these ‘functional’ ideals with the storied vision that I had of the character.

In the third sketch, you can see him taking a well-earned tobacco break. I wanted to capture this ‘moment-to-moment’ event, but I also wanted to convey the sense of determination that drives him. I wanted the viewer to get the impression that this wasn’t a break for him, but respite for his pack animal – that he would just keep going and going, pushing tirelessly onward if he had the choice.

Three side by side concept sketches on the dromedary regiment illustration, showing him on different sides of his camel, leading or mounting it, or sat on it smoking

In my mind I wanted him to feel like a combination of T.E. Lawrence and True Grit’s Rooster Cogburn (hence the eyepatch – who can resist an eyepatch?!). Though, in a subtle way, this detail links him to the mythos of the lands around him: he’s now a broken reflection of the unblinking and singular Eye of Horus, which forever scrutinizes the invader’s pitiful attempts to cling to life in a landscape antithetical to it.

It was great to see this sketch resonating with the team at Osprey. It’s tonally the darkest and also the sketch which focuses most on the character, having the camel as a secondary read to what’s happening. With his gaze directed out of frame, the viewer is invited to imagine what he might be looking at, projecting horrors from their own subconscious into the character’s eye-line. It shows a transitory moment too: the cavalryman is about to mount the saddle and move on. It gives the image a sense of urgency as the sun sinks into the desert behind him. Could it be a sandstorm heading his way? A horde of locusts or giant scarabs? Could it be Anubis himself?!

In many ways, the Dromedary Cavalryman is the perfect marriage of two very disparate worlds: ‘modern’ Napoleonic campaigns mixing with the mysteries of ancient Egypt to create a new and unique flavour to this expansion. We hope players get the same kick out of putting themselves in these scenarios as we got out of illustrating them.

We want to once again thank the awesome team at Osprey Games for the opportunity to bring these truly classic legends of ancient Egyptian myth to life with a new historical twist – something only possible thanks to the unique world that The Silver Bayonet series is building.

Will you survive long enough to find out where the generals will be sending you next? Only the sands can know!

The Silver Bayonet: Egypt: Shadow of the Sphinx is out now in the UK
and will be out in the US June 25th.

Order today.

A footer banner with a black-and-white stylised sketch-like illustration of a Napoleonic soldier holding a sabre beneath a werewolf's head mounted on a wall. alongside the text "In Britain, a secret award - the Silver Bayonet - is presented to those soldiers brave or fortunate enough to have faced these creatures... and survived."