A Pictorial Guide to John Burton's The Brambles

The first thing you notice about The Brambles: A Solo (PnP) Card Game is the striking artwork the designer John Burton has selected for its illustration. As YouTube reviewer Livi said, they look like pictures from an ancient grimoire. Mysterious and somewhat sinister, many of them might very well be from some sort of demonorium or similar occult manuscript. But are they?

As soon as I got the files, I embarked on a hunt, searching the web for their provenance. I had a vague recollection of having seen two of them before, but most were unknown to me. As our readers may remember, I have done a similar image exploration of Tony Boydell's Aleph Null (PnP), and this activity is for me a rare treat. I ended up toiling away for hours to find the origin of the pictures and felt very proud for the results of my truffle hunt... only to realize the following day that John Burton has actually listed his sources in the WIP thread! (insert emoji of me feeling like an idiot).

Still, the titles alone don't tell us much, right? So I decided to write about my findings anyway, hoping you will enjoy the strangeness of these images as much as I do. The Brambles has five sets of images, each with a distinct colour added to the original engravings by Burton, plus 3 'Seers' cards, as well as a number of hex tiles which represent the game's enemies. (For an overview of the gameplay, see A deck of curiosities).


1) Red images: Ulisse Aldrovandi, Monstrorum Historia (1642)

At first glance, these look downright hellish. Scales, tails, horns, hooves... they surely are not of this world, or so we may think. Ulisse Aldrovandi's Monstrorum Historia -the encyclopedia of natural history they come from- doesn't separate fictional from real 'monsters'. In 13 volumes, Aldrovandi included p