TVTT Novice/Recruit Edition - Making Snakes and Foxes
This article may contain spoilers.
Courage to strengthen, fire to blind, music to dazzle, iron to blind…
I just read the culmination of the Snakes and Foxes plot line in The Wheel of Time. So naturally, I was curious to figure out exactly how the game worked. Robert Jordan left us clues, but didn’t leave enough to recreate the game totally. So I set out to make a version of my own to see if I could make something that worked within the existing lore.
Here’s what we know about Snakes and Foxes:
The game board was “a spiderweb of lines and arrows” drawn with ink on fabric or wood. The player’s tokens must go from the center to the outer edge of the board and back again to win. There were 10 snake tokens and 10 fox tokens that would attempt to prevent the player from winning. 6 dice carved with pips, wavy lines, and triangles controlled the movement of the tokens on the board. Plus it had to be a simple enough design that Olver’s father (who wasn’t any kind of artist or craftsman) could make it.
I used inspiration from a couple different sources to make my Snakes and Foxes board. First, I wanted it to look a bit like a wheel – to evoke the Wheel of Time. Then I wanted to keep the “web” feel as described in the books. I was inspired by the Hex Signs of the Pennsylvania Dutch that may have been intended to ward off evil (much like the Snakes and Foxes game was intended to pass down knowledge to keep the ‘Finn at bay.)
This image comes from Creative Commons.
I didn’t have a red piece of fabric, so I used a large piece of foam craft board. I started with a pencil and an artist’s compass to make my board.
Once I had the board sketched, I inked over it with a black marker (you can see I changed the design a bit from the beginning of the process! You don’t have to be perfect with the Sharpie, I sure wasn’t! I added some large symbols of the Aelfinn and Eelfinn offset on the edges.
Next I made the tokens and dice. Two blue glass player tokens have a large black dot on the bottom, and ten of each Foxes (clear glass beads with a black triangle inked on the bottom) and Snakes (frosted green glass beads with a wavy line inked on the top). I was only able to make four dice – there should really be six. I made them by drawing two each pips, snakes, and fox heads on squares of card stock and attaching them to the faces of six sided dice. Now we’re ready to set up the board.
The finishing touches are the directional arrows that guide the movement of the pieces from inner to outer ring and make it possible for the player to have a fighting chance (but you know, still lose). All the red arrows indicate clockwise movement, green arrows indicate counter clockwise movement, and blue lines are both directions. All the rays on the board can be used to move either in or out, and the outer ring can be traveled in any direction. The points of the star and the circles are limited in movement direction. I added starting positions for the snake and fox tokens around the outside edge of the board as well.
Finally let’s see how it plays! Don’t forget to start the game by drawing the triangle with wavy line symbol in the air above the board and saying the rhyme! So far I haven’t won yet, so I think it’s working as intended!