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Monday, 19 November 2018

Storm Elemental


Storm elementals are pretty much perky air elementals. They may be slower, but they pack quite a bit of zap, especially when you get to the bigger ones of the bunch. The little fellas can be pretty useful as a summoned ally, since their attacks actually deal sonic and electric damage at the same time. If one bit of hurt can't get through, the other one probably will.

They may well be the reason why airplanes and such never quite took off in fantasy worlds. Magical airships maybe have some kinda magical protection against storm elementals coming along and puncturing their balloons.

I like to think of these guys hanging around blue dragons, thunderbirds and the other big electric beasties of the sky, just hanging around them like remora on a shark.



Monday, 12 November 2018

Mimic (Redux)



Of all the aberrations that have squirmed their way from outside time and space onto the material plane, there are none quite like the Mimic. It is certainly not the greatest of them, nor the most powerful (either in raw strength or intellect). Yet it is (at least to the average adventurer) one of the most feared, and rightly so.

The thing that sets Mimics apart from most of their alien brethren is that most aberrations come into our world with little to no understanding of it; or, if they do comprehend our ways, they simply do not care. Creatures like the Gibbering Mouther, the Grick, or the Choker - these fiends hunt, kill and feed almost mindlessly, making full use of their evolved weaponry but without the slightest concern for the humanity that fears them.

The Mimic, however, is more insidious. It has learned the habits of humans - particularly the foolhardy breed known as "adventurers", who are fond of going out into the world in groups of only five or six - and is capable of... well, mimicking any object that might serve to disguise itself until prey draws close, ensuring a quick death to any who fall into its trap.

Some have claimed that the Mimic is like any other camouflaged animal - that its transformations are merely opportunistic, dumb imitations of form simply to hide from prey. But seasoned hunters swear differently; that within each Mimic's actions there lurks a streak of genuine malevolence, or, even worse, dark humour. What's more, survivors of one Mimic attack will often become obsessed by the threat of another - every pot, chest and chair becomes a potential threat that must be investigated thoroughly. More than a few such adventurers have descended into madness.

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This one's inspired by the various breeds of octopus that can alter the colour of their skin (as well as - seemingly - its very texture) to more effectively camouflage themselves. There's a specific breed known as the Mimic Octopus that adds another layer to this subterfuge by actively pretending to be other creatures - poisonous sea snakes, flatfish and lionfish to name a few examples - in order to scare off predators.

I spent a while trying to grade the transition from tentacles into wood so that it was sufficiently smooth. I'm not sure if I like it 100% but I at least enjoy looking at it for the colours right now! For some reason I really like using blues and purples for wood.

Joe's tumblr

Monday, 5 November 2018

Spectral Mage


Okay so you can have ghost, but what if the ghost was, like, magic? I mean, I guess you could just tack on some spellcaster levels onto a standard ghost. Or you could use the somewhat superfluous spectral mage template!

Honestly there isn't that much difference between the two types of ghosties. Except maybe that spectral mages are a bit more consistent as poltergeists since they don't have to take breaks between levitation spells.

Mostly I like the idea of a wizard spending just, like, ages trying to figure out the elixir of life, or how to become a lich or worm that walks, only for them to accidentally blow themselves up and become a ghost.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Wyvern



Any village swineherd who has heard more than a single story about dragons is likely to come away with some half-formed impression of their grandeur. There's an argument to be made that this plays into the scheming of the dragons themselves - famously vain creatures that they are - but there is simply no denying that, by and large, drakes are a noble breed of great physical beauty. Chromatics: vast, snarling, scheming creatures, studded with scales of scarlet and topaz... Metallics: even larger in size but wise and meditative, sheathed in lustrous snakeskin like spun silver and gold... even the so-called lesser breeds, shoots that deviate from the stem of dragon-kind, usually retain some faded glimmer of their more magnificent cousins. Usually.

There is, they say, no beast that will quicker dispel the illusion of dragons as creatures of nobility as the Wyvern. Like a gangly, embarrassing cousin they are rarely acknowledged by the "true" breeds, yet they are far more numerous, which speaks, perhaps, to their pigeon-like success at populating the world.

Compared to the average Chromatic, the Wyvern is a stunted, bony parody of a dragon. Its body is barely larger than an elephant, its intelligence subhuman. Its scales range from mottled brown, through half-formed greens to pale, sandy yellows and whites, depending on its surroundings - the idea of camouflage is anathema to full-blooded dragons, but Wyverns will take their advantages wherever they can get them. Finally, and most markedly, Wyverns at some point deviated from their greater kin in the loss of their draconic forelimbs. This seems not to have affected them much, however, as they continue to scramble about deftly using their wings.

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Wyverns are great! This was fun to draw. I hope you like it!

Joe's tumblr

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Hopping Vampire

 
Here's Mr. Vampire himself! Mr. Hopping Vampire. Don't laugh, coz he'll get ya.

So while they're called vampires and have the teeth to back it up, they're not your typical suck-your-blood types. They're psychic vampires, breathing on you and draining your chi. The big ol' claws are just a good way to make you stay put while they do that sweet chi draining. 

Also, unlike regular vampires, they don't have that whole shape-shifting thing to make themselves look sexy. It's the moldy rotting corpse look that they've got going on. Not that they could lay some seduction on you with words either, because they're not too bright either. These dudes are also completely blind, and detect their prey by sensing their breath. But they're reeeeaaallly good at sensing breath, can feel it from quite far away, so you'd better put some distance between you and Mr. Vampire.

So that should make them easy enemies, yeah? Well, sunlight doesn't harm them, so you can't just whip aside some curtains or come back to their hidey-holes after sunrise to kill them. They'll be awake and they'll be waiting. Or maybe they'll just be following you. And don't let them get you with the claws either, because pretty soon after you'll feel your muscles seizing up until you can only move at a hop-hop-hop.

Hop-hop-happy Halloween to you.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Kraken (Redux)

"...Child of dark! Herald of void!
First-created of the gods, or else their elder!
We know the truth: the world above the waves is nought but wan reflection of thy realm,
and we merely its fragile custodians.
O! Drown the world! Snuff out the stars!
We beseech thee, Great One, that all might hear thy song
Borne endless 'cross the sable deeps!"
- Extract from the Holy Book of the Water-folk, Chapter 27 

So this is actually a redo of an old Dungeons & Drawings design that I did waaaaaaayy back in 2011! Go look at it if you want to see an example of the old slightly janky pixelart I used to do! I didn't think it was very good, even at the time, so I decided to redo it but still try and sort of... aim for the same feeling that I was going for before? If that makes sense? I think I succeeded to some extent.

I've always had a pretty deep-rooted fear of the sea, which I don't think is uncommon. I don't know if this was fuelled by anything (I suspect it was influenced by something I saw on TV or in a film) but I used to have a lot of nightmares about the sea, particularly tidal waves (like, cartoonishly large ones) and just the idea of big creatures either emerging or (sort of worse) lurking immediately underneath the surface. I actually went through a period of not wanting to do back-stroke at my swimming classes because I kept visualising something big "behind" me, under the water (yes, even in a swimming pool).

Krakens, Leviathans and other giant sea-creatures are likely to be encountered more as an environmental hazard than a traditional D&D fight, but I think their sheer scale makes them a fun (if terrifying) element to chuck into your game. I love giant monsters. I'm not, like, a big kaiju fan or anything like that, but I find there's something really compelling about a creature so big that it could destroy your life, your house, your city without even realising. Krakens also have the benefit of having a certain Lovecraftian mystique to them, emerging as they do from the inscrutable deep.

There's a persistent fringe theory about either octopi and/or squid being somehow descended from extraterrestrial life, and while I don't buy it myself, neither species does much to properly disprove it. They're pretty weird.

Joe's Tumblr

Monday, 13 August 2018

Deep Dragon


As one would expect, deep dragons are found deep, deep in the earth. It's not completely certain whether deep dragons are their own species, or some kind of mutated version of a true dragon. Regardless, they're just as powerful as true dragons. Surface dwellers may now give a sigh of relief as it's made known that deep dragons have no interest in leaving their dark world. They sometimes make pacts with drow, but that's mostly to keep an eye on them and make sure that whatever the drow do, it won't interfere with the deep dragon's well-being.

Deep dragons cannot be trusted. They’re especially tricky creatures, and similarly difficult to fool. Even a wyrmling is born with innate true seeing, making them immune to the effects of illusions and invisibility. Older deep dragons become more attuned to their cavernous and stony environment. They start out being able to easily burrow through stone and worm their way though small cracks. By the time end of their lifespan, deep dragons can command the stone to open, close and warp as they please.

Why fight some repugnant humanoid skulking in the tunnel you've left behind when you can simply command the tunnel to seal itself, crushing the intruder?

Blanca’s Tumblr

Monday, 6 August 2018

Hell Hound


Hell hounds are the canine companions of the servants of the denizens of Hell. Bred for size, viciousness and trainability, hell hounds can grow large enough to be used as mounts in the eternal wars between Hell and the Abyss. Wild hell hounds can also be found in wandering in packs throughout this evil plane, and while they're scrawnier than their tamed bretheren, they're also much more cunning.

Evil wizards and warlords will often summon or otherwise procure a hellhound for their own destructive needs. However, the hound's fiery breath and sulphurous smell makes them extremely hazardous to the very flammable Material Plane. Summoning, though only short-term, is probably the more sensible option if you have the means. Otherwise be ready to build stone pens. And make sure that you use good lucks; though beastly, hell hounds are smart enough to work out simpler locks.

Other wizards, fervent seekers of higher truths, also summon hell hounds in an attempt to answer a frustrating question:

Can this hound be a Good Boy when they are, by definition, a Very Bad Dog?

Blanca’s Tumblr

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.

Blanca’s Tumblr

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.


Blanca’s Tumblr

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.


Blanca’s Tumblr