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Sunday, 8 July 2018

Shedu



The shedim are a group of chimeric beasts somewhat related to sphinxes and the lamassu. Though not holy in the planar sense, shedim will often work with clerics and help them with their questions. Some suspect that shedim were kings in the past, which the creatures neither confirm nor deny. These days they spend a good deal of time hopping between the Ethereal and Material planes, guarding the world from Chaos.

So shedu/lamassu are kinda interchangeable folklorically, though some people will argue that lammasu are leonine, that shedu are bovine, that lammasu are female... But they exist more as artwork than in stories. You'll see them as these absolutely massive reliefs and statues from Mesopotamia. These statues are really neat because they have a little bit of trickery going on. The shedu is carved with five legs, but not in a way that implies that it actually has five legs. Looking at it from the front, you only see the two front-most legs, showing that the shedu is standing there, guarding. From the side, you see four legs, showing the creature walking instead of standing (one of the front legs is hidden by the profile).

(The shedu in the Fiend Folio is supposed to have five legs, but I couldn't make it look good, so the drawing only has four).

Like I said, there aren't that many stories about them that I've found. Apparently they show up in The Epic of Gilgamesh, but I've only been able to find mentions of bulls without specifying whether they have wings and human heads. But they seem to be associated with celestial bodies. So I made the shedu out of space.

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Monday, 2 July 2018

Mummy

The elvish archaeologists who broke open the tomb of Ilexandra, Fifth Mage-regent of the Riverlands, were overjoyed at their find. As according to custom, her body was found cut into pieces, wrapped in spider-silk cloth and interred in five jars alongside her royal scepter - attuned with a spell allowing control over lesser undead - and an ornate jade death-mask carved with five eyes to denote her lineage. They supposed the discovery - complete as it was, and perfectly preserved - would surely be hailed as one of the greatest of their age. 

The chief archaeologist's journal entry for the day notes the faint aroma of a lingering magic spell over the long-dead queen: "Most likely a charm to prevent decay, and perhaps discourage interference by the giant subterranean mole-rats of the region."

The journal was found almost a week later by a search party, amongst a pile of broken equipment, torn clothing and inexplicably rusted weapons found just outside the tomb. No bodies were ever found, but since the Old Elvish words for "KEEP OUT" had been daubed on the great stone door (apparently in fresh elf blood), they never actually set foot inside ever again.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Yuan-Ti Mageslayer


Yuan-ti hate hate hate hate hate anyone who isn't a yuan-ti. Especially any other creature who have the disgusting physical defect of not having scales. These Scaleless Ones are becoming increasingly troubling, what with their insistence on learning magic. This has forced that hands of yuan-ti lords, making them train elite groups of mages which expand on the race's natural spellcasting capabilities. Thus were created the mageslayers.


While the mageslayer has a couple of offensive spells (namely fireball, burning hands and acid splash), most of it's magic is geared towards espionage and quick, deadly takedowns. Yuan-ti favour sneak attacks over anything that calls attention to themselves. Take out the enemy slowly, one by one. If this is impossible, retreat. So the yuan-ti mageslayer will disguise itself, either as a disgusting Scaleless One, a pitiful but graceful small viper, or simply condescend to blend into their surroundings. Disenchant enemy weapons and block the abilities of any spellcasters. Lure them down wrong paths with invisible hands. And when the last intruder is left alive, grab him, and teleport away with your soon-to-be precious sacrifice.


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Monday, 18 June 2018

Pennaggolan


The pennaggolan is a type of almost exclusively female vampires. Like most vampires, they are nocturnal, but are immune to the dangers of sunlight. By day, the pennaggolan appears as a normal woman, but at night the head detaches itself from the body, dragging its entrails along with it and flies away. It often stalks lonely roads and houses, throttling travellers and feeding on their blood.

The best way to defeat a pennaggolan in to find its vacant body. The body can be destroyed, leaving the vampire permanently exposed in its gory from. Alternatively, the body (currently hollow) can be filled with thorns or broken glass, so that the pennaggolan's guts are lethally shredded when it tries to re-attach itself.

This creature come from Malaysian mythology. In the Malaysian tales, the pennaggolan (alternate names pennanggalan, hantu pennangal, balah-balah...) is usually a midwife. Some legends I've found say that the midwives make deals with spirits for supernatural powers, but fail to hold up their part of the bargain and get cursed to become these monsters. The pennagolan perches on the roof of a house containing children, pregnant women or women in labour, and feeds on their blood with an invisible tongue. Like in other vampire tales, the victim eventually contracts a wasting disease and dies.

When the pennaggolan returns home, she soaks her guts in vinegar to shrink them, so she can squeeze back into her body. Getting out is easy, but you try squeezing lungs and metres of intestines back in through a narrow neck-hole. Since the darkness can hide the face of a pennaggolan, sometimes the best way to tell if a woman is a monster or not is if she smells really strongly of vinegar.

There are a lot of variants of this monsters across East Asia. The Phillipines have the manananggal (detaches its upper body from its lower body), Bali has the leyak (way scarier face, also feeds on corpses), and Thailand has the krause (cursed with hunger; feeds on blood, flesh and poop).

I remember first reading about this monster when I was really young. I think it was maybe in some spooky Halloween edition of a kids magazine or something. I was quite struck by how weird it was. And also the whole protecting yourself by sticking a bunch of thorns and pointy leaves around you window. Them dangling guts don't wanna get tangled up in that mess.

Pretty reminiscent of the vargouille.


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Sunday, 10 June 2018

Corruption Eater


The corruption eater is a type of aberration that feasts on the festering evil that wears down the soul. Encountering a corruption eater is both a good and bad thing. Good because it can cleanse you of the aforementioned festering evil; bad because getting cleansed still really really hurts and it can get mad when there's no more food left. The corruption eater uses it's stretchy tentacles to immobilize its target, then wraps the victim up in its hole-filled tongue to feed.

So you know how the other week I was talking about all the alternate magicky-magic things that D&D has? Well the Heroes of Horror book introduces the concept of taint: the corrupting influence of evil magic which wears you down both mentally and physically. As the taint increases, you weaken gaining a number of penalties that can result in death or complete madness (essentially death since the DM takes over your character).

However, certain feats, prestige classes or types of magic are only available to characters that are suffering from taint. This can result in a delicate balancing act of making sure that your taint stays above a certain level without actually being killing you.

Taint can be cured with certain spells, but a lot of them are quite high-level or expensive, so I like to think that maybe some smaller towns have a corruption eater locked away for medical purposes. Kinda like a leech. Or evil chemo. Just stick your hand in this hole. It'll hurt for a while, but we'll pull you back out once your eyes regrow and you stop craving human flesh.

Of course having a corruption eater holed up in your town would probably increase the ambient taint of the area, since you're harbouring an evil creature. Six and two threes.


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Monday, 4 June 2018

Totem Giant



Totem giants are a particular race who are especially good at manipulating incarnum, the magical force that powers everything. Avid worshippers (and hunters) of magical beasts, totem giants tattoo themselves with symbols of their favourites. These same tattoos are clues as to what kind of powers they are likely to manifest in combat. Totem giants can be found anywhere in the world, since they often use their incarnum powers to be able to survive in environments that would otherwise be deadly.

Okay, so D&D has soooo many different kinds of magic in it. Most people just stick to the ol' arcane-divine group because magic is already complicated enough and there's twelve bajillion spells without adding an oh but my magic works THIS way and bluhhhhhhh. I haven't that much into how incarnum works, but it honestly sounds kinda cool? The amount of spells you have to choose from (and are able to cast) is limited compared to the rest of the stuff, but it's kinda nice that way.

Basically you shape incarnum (this blue Force stuff) into this quasi-physical stuff called soulmelds. They're kinda like spells but also kinda like magic items you wear. But you can still use non-spell magic items you're wearing. Unless you super-bind them to you then you can't use magic items, but the incarnum spell is extra strong and give your a lot of cool stuff. And you can have a bunch of them active at the same time. It's complicated.

Okay. For example. The totem giant in the book has the Frost Helm spell. If they just manifest the Frost Helm normally, it basically allows them to live in super-cold environments and get resistance to cold. If you were wearing some magic item on your head (ex: circlet that grants you telepathy) you'd still be able to use the telepathy. But if you super-bind the Frost Helm spell you can get a buncha cool abilities (a cold breath weapon or a stunning sonic shriek), but the power of the spell overrides the power of whatever magic item you have at the time.

Like I said, it's complicated.

But I kinda wanna play this system and use this giant chick? I probably wouldn't be able to use her since she's a giant and that's not a playable race. I guess I could use a half-orc or a goliath but it's not the saaaaame. I wanna be huuuuuge.

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Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Nymph


Nymphs are a type of female spirit that acts as the fairy guardian of wild places. They're all generally described as beautiful, sweet-voiced and fickle. While nymphs can inhabit any natural place (trees, rocks, etc...) your standard nymph tends to live near freshwater pools or rivers.

As with many other fey spirits, nymphs prefer to remain hidden from mortal eyes, but that doesn't make them harmless. If they feel their territory is in any way damaged or disrespected, the nymph's revenge is swift. Animals, plants and the weather are her allies, and she won't hesitate to use them. However, calling attention to yourself by being especially reverent isn't the best course of action either. While you may receive blessings from the nymph, she can also become possessive and demanding, or inspire such love and pity in her that she will try to capture you to keep as a pet.

Some nymphs have been known to make their homes in dangerous, rocky places, and take delight in luring mortals to their deaths. These tend to be the favoured daughters of powerful nature spirits, who can count on their father's magic and rage to protect them from any retribution that may come to them.


I know nymphs are good aligned creatures, but a nymph can totally make a decent final boss for a low-level campaign. The D&D nymph has some pretty great and pretty crippling abilities. Besides a number of defensive and offensive spells, nymphs can't be looked at directly, since doing so can result in a character being permanently blinded by how crazy pretty they are. A thing that seems a bit weird is that they don't actually have charm person or any of those enchantments, but whatever.

I don't think this particular nymph would be considered blindingly gorgeous by anyone, but you don't know what fairy magic can do to the mind.

I went for a slightly more insectile look with this gal. Specifically dragonflies. Dragonflies are pretty.

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Sunday, 20 May 2018

Redspawn Firebelcher

Like the bluespawn godslayer, the redspawn firebelcher is a mutation brought about by Tiamat's magic. Entirely lacking the dignity and majesty of true red dragons, the redspawn firebelcher is the stupidest of Tiamat's spawn. That doesn't make them any less dangerous, since the firebelcher is driven entirely by hunger. Other spawn might be able to control the firebelcher to use them as mounts and warbeasts, though they risk being eaten themselves. Despite the danger, Tiamat's spawn purposely starve the firebelcher in order to guarantee maximum ferocity.

Like all of Tiamat's more animalistic spawn, they exude an aura which protects nearby spawn from certain effects. In this case, it provides immunity to fire. This makes them potentially excellent mounts for whitespawn, since it can cancel out their weakness.

It's been a while since I've done anything for Dungeons & Drawings. I've been having a really really bad art block for the last several months. I didn't seem to like anything I drew. And while I still don't feel like I'm completely back to my comfort zone, I am gradually liking the last few things I've been drawing more.

Anyway, the firebelcher. Their entry describes them as often swimming around in lava pools. Well the first thought that came to my mind was crocodiles, but I really didn't want to go in that direction. The old red dragon illustration was vaguely mammalian anyway, so I went with basing this guy off a hippopotamus. Because hippopotami are horrendous nightmare beasts.

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Sunday, 1 April 2018

LeShay


The LeShay are to elves what elves are to humans. Which is what this game needed: a more hoity-toity elf. It's possible that LeShay are even the true ancestors of elves, having seeded the Material Plane with their progeny. They're adept shapeshifters, able to appear as any humanoid, but their true form is that of a white elf-like creature with deep black eyes. And despite the unsettling appearance, looking at them give one a strange sense of longing and camraderie. 

LeShay are not put off by locked doors. They will get in.

LeShay cannot be stopped by armour. They will get through.


I've been a little ehhhhhh about drawing lately. Artist's block. It happens somethings. Nothing I've drawn recently I've especially liked in anything beyond the thumbnail stage. The Halite animation I did was pretty much because I just couldn't make myself design and draw something new, so just animate something that somebody else has designed. Sometimes this loosens up my brain, sometimes it doesn't. I'm still kinda stuck, but it'll stop eventually.

I've been using Manga Studio for a while but mostly stuck to the same pen (the turnip pen does really nice crispy lines). After several attempts attempts on this I accepted that no matter what I did I wasn't going to be happy with it as a proper illustration. So experiment a bit with other styles of colouring. The colouring in this is mostly done with the flat marker tool for a more smudgy look. It's probably not something that I'm gonna add to my usual drawing style probably, but at least it looks kinda interesting.

Also I treated the LeShay like a little bit as a fairy fantasy version of what the Engineers were in the Prometheus movie. The illustration in the Epic Level Handbook is a little bit boring. Just a grey elf in some brown clothes. But I liked how the description had a bit of that alien-y fairy feeling.

(Not included in the image, but these dudes can manifest +10 keen brilliant energy weapons out of their own life force.)


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Sunday, 25 March 2018

Cavvekan


Cavvekan is the Undercommon name for the cavedog or bat-faced dog. Despite this name, it's likely that cavvekans are not canids at all, but a type of large rodents. Regardless, they fill a similar niche that jackals or coyotes would; they're small onmnivorous mammals who hunt tiny prey and fungi, or scavenge food from more capable predators.

As subterranean creatures, their sense of sight is so diminished that they are practically blind. They instead rely on their sense of smell and hearing. If regular clicks are heard in a dark cave, it's likely that what you're hearing is them using echolocation. The cavvekan is completely hairless except for it's whiskers, though the dark, velvety skin on its body can be confused for fur.

They're very skittish creatures, perfectly aware of their position as a possible lunch to the large predators that live underground. However, the drow occasionally manage to capture enough cavvekan pups to start breeding programs. They're good guard animals, but not often used as attack beasts. The drow tend to have access to more lethal options.

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Sunday, 18 March 2018

Firenewt

 

Firenewts are relatives to lizardfolk, but their environment and behaviour is different enough for them to be confused with salamanders. Unlike lizardfolk, firenewts thrive in environments of extreme heat, with some tribes even living near or in active volcanos. Oftentimes, a creature so comfortable with fire would be a native of the Plane of Fire, but firenewts are completely native to the Material Plane.

Firenewts are extremely aggressive to both other firenewts and non-humanoid races. If a warband of these creatures is spotted, it's a sure thing that they're participating in a raid, possibly to smash the eggs of another firenewt tribe. They're also a highly religious people, with the most important members of society often being clerics in service to evil fire gods.

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Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Gem Scarab


Gem scarabs are cat-sized beetles found primarily in deserts, though some miners claim to have seen them in especially rich caves. These scarabs are actually a pretty big problem for any occupation that relies on the collection of metal or precious stones, since they're the beetles' main source of food. As well as being big enough that their bites would leave a significant mark, the gem scarab is, of course, magically competent.

The colour of the gem is indicative of the scarab's spell's element; diamonds for light, emeralds for acid, sapphire for cold, etc... The spells are relatively weak and primarily used as a distraction so the scarab can fly or burrow away. However, if feeling especially territorial or threatened, the scarab can prove dangerous to common people and inexperienced adventurers.

So did you know that living beetle jewellery is actually a thing? Apparently the maquech beetle is this really docile little buddy, so some people have taken to attaching rhinestones and golden chains to them to make them into living brooches. It's kinda pretty, but it seemed weird to use a literal live animal as personal decor. Apparently you can keep them alive for 2-3 years if you make sure to take care of them, feed them, house them in a nice vivarium... But I really don't know how many people who'd buy a bug for a brooch would go through that trouble.

If you want a beetle brooch that badly, just go get yourself a piece of the bajillion insect-themed jewellery items that exist, geez.

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