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Monday, 26 December 2011

Gaspar by Adam Vian

You come across a huge deer on your travels through the Beastlands. It stands four times taller than a normal human being and antlers sprout not only from its head, but down its neck to its haunches, giving it a coat of grand bony spears. You're confident in the strength and tactics of your party as you charge through the bushes, where you surround the surprised Gaspar. It can't run anywhere without being met by fences of spears and swords. As you raise your weapons to pierce its comparatively soft underbelly, the Gaspar rears up and slams down.

There's a golden light and you can't see your quarry anymore, nor the eternal afternoon sun of Kirgala, nor the ancient trees of the Beastlands. The Gaspar didn't leave, but you did.


Drawing by Adam Vian of Super Flash Bros, since I'm currently trying to get my old laptop to cooperate with me and Photoshop.

Happy Holidays, folks.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011


In the darkness you make out a pile of treasure. Seated atop all this is a dessicated severed head, dusty, parchment-like skin pulled tight against the skull. The treasure gleams green in the arcane glow of the emeralds that line its mouth and stare out at you from its head. It does not move. Roll for Fortitude.

A lich is what happens when a wizard thinks living is for squares and makes itself into a skele-zombie to continue studying magic throughout eternity.

A demilich is what happens when a lich decides that plain ol' having a body's for squares and decides to encase its soul into a gem-studded bone. Normally a skull. They can be an evil sentient bejewelled rib if they feel like it.

So a demilich is even more dangerous than a regular lich, created by Gary Gygax in the infamous Tomb of Horrors adventure for the purpose of killing any player who thought D&D is just a game. In addition to all the spells that a normal lich would have, the demilich has a signature ability: trap the soul. It basically sucks the spirit out of your body (which instantly crumbles to ash) and traps it in one of its gems. It can wipe out a whole party in just over 20 seconds, combat time.

Don't worry, your soul won't be trapped inside the skull forever. The demilich will slowly eat you over the course of 24 hours.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Wraith (formerly Tark Skulltaker, human barbarian)

Tark Skulltaker was our party's barbarian. Due to an unfotunate set of attacks involving wraiths, he died. Also unfotunately, when you're killed by a wraith, you rise as one seconds later, so that meant we had to double kill his evil spirit.

Wraiths are one of your standard D&D monsters for horror campaigns, when you want things to get a bit dangerous. We found one that had been killing kids and slew it dead, but not before withering away Tark and my pony Butterbutt. These monsters are extra dangerous because they not only hurt you when they attack you, they also drain the life from you (in D&D language, Constitution drain, the deadliest of drains). They have an aura around them that spooks animals, making it difficult for rangers, druid or just anyone who fights from horseback to engage in combat. Third, they're not solid, making them super difficult to hit. Spackle was pretty useless in that particular combat until I remembered I'm the one with the wand of holy magic and started whacking the wraith with it.

RIP Tark.

At least this means that the guy that played him is gonna get a second character portrait now. But not for a while, so that means I get to go back to doing regular monsters!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Valenmar (human cleric) and Edge (tiefling rogue)

Like most parties, we have a rogue and a cleric. Our rogue is a tiefling (supposedly, since he doesn't actually show any quasi-demonic abilities or traits) who specialized in knife-throwing, and the cleric is a human optimized for destroying the undead. Like, literally, we'd walk into a room filled with skeletons, he'd flash his holy symbol and boom. Everything's dead. The guy playing the cleric recently left the group due to the amount of stuff he's been doing, so that's gonna make things a little more deadly. We use my pony to detect when there are undead stalking us.

One more character to go now!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Tsar'goth Nou'ara, Half-Orc

Tsar'goth is one part team muscle, one part divine warrior. He's our paladin, and despite the half-orcness and the black armor, he serves Iomedae, the good goddess of Justice and Courage (her Greyhawk D&D equivalent would be Heironeous), and comes from the same temple our cleric. His thing is that his face is always in shadow from either his helmet of his hood, so nobody actually knows exactly what his face looks like, but we're banking he's either exceptionally ugly or mindblowingly beautiful.

Half Orcs are one of the core races of D&D, despite certain implications regarding to the conception of the creature. People normally play them as barbarians, since it fits so well, but I really like to see exceptions.

He's like 7ft tall, so Spackle quite often hitches rides on his shoulders to look around further or just because. One time we were looking for this woman that'd gotten lost in a moor and we had to roll Stealth checks to avoid being noticed by an interdimensional teleporting spider with a woman's face (I love this game). I scored a 30 on my roll, so I like to think that the spider didn't get a good look at me and thought Spackle was a tuft of blue feathers on Tsar'goth's helmet.

Also he's got a halo because Spackle is in the habit of casting light on his helmet whenever we need a light source. Why? Becuase she done gots herself a sense of theatrics, that's why.

Aaaaand with this one I'm totally back on schedule in terms of weeks skipped. Let's see how long this who being on schedule thing lasts.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Owlbear by Tara Helfer

I'm gonna be doing some work for an project called 72 Demons. A collection of artists will each be doing one of the demons features in Ars Goetia, a 17th century grimoire. The head of this project, Tara Helfer, offered to do an art trade, where I do a header for her blog and she submits a monster for mine. Well, I haven't gotten around to my side of the deal yet, but she certainly has. She even prepared the blurb for me.


Owlbears are probably the crossbred creation of a demented wizard; given the lethality of this creation, it is quite likely that the wizard who created them is no longer alive. Owlbears are vicious, ravenous, aggressive, and evil tempered at all times. Owlbears are a cross between a giant owl and a bear. They are covered with a thick coat of feathers and fur, brown-black to yellow-brown in color. The 8-foot-tall males, which weigh between 1,300 and 1,500 pounds, are darker colored. The beaks of these creatures are yellow to ivory and their terrifying eyes are red-rimmed. Owlbears speak their own language, which consists of very loud screeches of varying length and pitch.
An owlbear's main weakness is also its greatest strength -- its ferocity. Because owlbears are so bad-tempered, they stop at nothing to kill a target. It is not difficult to trick an owlbear into hurling itself off a cliff or into a trap, provided you can find one.

The owlbear walks a line between the whimsical and the most fearsome beasts. Art featuring the owlbear tends to split in two different directions. Apart from the big, bad and bloodthirsty, there's a tendency to draw the owlbear as an awkward and misunderstood creature - pretty embarrassing for a killer. And why not? The owlbear doesn't make a lot of sense in terms of evolution and is excessively armed for a forest predator, making it my favorite d&d monster.
I wanted to draw the owlbear with a more flexible, feathery form rather than a bear's. While it's known for it's deadly "hug", I imagine the face-full of beak following would be much worse.
Also, my kobold illustration was used in a website called Delvers, where the 2e campaign stories of guy, his girlfriend and her two itty girls  are collected.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Cassimara Raventhorn, Dhampir

Cassimara is the archer of our team, with an unusual combination of classes (ranger/rogue/inquisitor, I think). She hunts for undead with our team. What makes her unusual is that she's a dhampir, i.e. her dad was a vampire. Our team cleric is an "expert" undead killer who didn't notice this until she revealed it to us like three sessions into the game. It makes for an unusual team member since our cleric is pretty prone to accidentally hurting her with her energy channels, and always has to give her a heads up before he starts blasting things.

For healing, the first part of our adventure was pretty useful. We got these things called haunt siphons that are used to trap ghosts (think the traps for Ghostbusters). So we've got these bottles filled with unfortunate souls that she sometimes uncorks when she needs a little pick-me-up. She's never shown the whole "bloodlust" thing that dhampir are occasionally supposed to have, but I guess eating souls balances it out.

The closest thing to a dhampir in D&D is the Half-Vampire template, which is still a little bit annoying because of level adjustment things. D&D is rife with templates. I think Dragon magazine had a special issue dedicated to various templates for the offspring of the living and dead. Paizo did the Dhampir race, a much less powerful version of the Half-Vampire, so that you can play them from the get-go.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Spackle Thrush, Gnome

Spackle Thrush is a travelling juggler/joker in Ustalav, and friend of the now deceased Professor Lorrimer. She's still a young gnome, but her race is naturally inclined to travelling and seeking thrills the second they reach adulthood. She's not a combatant and is a firm believer that if you're nice to people, they'll be nice to you.

Spackle Thrush is my gnome bard for the current game I'm playing. Technically this is cheating for the Dungeons and Drawings blog, since it's a Pathfinder game. But Pathfinder is also known as D&D 3.75 on the internet, so I'm gonna let it count. I normally play super serious characters, so I decided to play a really comical, super friendly character. Maybe not such a good choice, since we're playing the Carrion Crown adventure path, which is supposed to be horror.

I really like the gnomes in Pathfinder. The problem I found with gnomes in classic D&D was that they weren't much different from halflings. They were both quirky short races, with halflings being a little more sneaky and gnomes being a little more magical. In Pathfinder, they definitely made gnomes their own thing; they're former fairies that got stuck in the mortal world. I'm not sure if Wizards did a similar thing to gnomes in 4th edition, but I know they removed them from the core player races (they've since been added again).

My favourite things about Pathfinder gnomes is that they're essentially immortal. They don't die of old age, but of boredom. Literally. They have something called The Bleaching, which means that if they don't regularly experience fantastic and exciting stuff, they begin to lose their colour and perky personalities until they fade away. Boredom is to gnomes what heart disease is to humans.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Rat Swarm

Buck moves swiftly through the dark forest, using the light of a conjured lantern as his guide. The wisps dance around him, expectantly, as he canters away. He can scarecely see in front of him, as the pale aura of his light spell is met abruptly by darkness. With this handicap, he's unable to stop himself from tripping over the edge of a rise and falling into a river. Only the river is warm, soft and squirming. In the dying sputter of his conjured light, he sees a thousand gleaming eyes of a thousand squealing rats, who at his intrusion rise over him as a diseased, scratching tide.

The reponse to the very late Halloween Poll, "psychological horror". In retrospect, not such a smart option to give, since a sword and sorcery game doesn't really lend itself that well to psychological aspects.

Rat swarms are kinda psychological, right? If you're afraid of rats?

Monday, 7 November 2011

Will O Wisp

Before being allowed out of the Hybsil's home forest, Buck is taken away, blindfolded. When released he finds himself in a dark glade, alone. It's night, and the trees, the bushes and the stream are all black and grey in the starlight. As he looks around, he finds himself surrounded by small lights, which bob around him with interest and as his panic swells, so do they.

Oy, sorry about being so late these past few weeks. Anyway, this is the reponse to the Buck poll for what test he should be put through before leaving (answer: test of courage).

The Will O Wisp is a creature of English folklore. They were little lights, like distant lanterns that would appear in swamps and maliciously lure lost travellers to dangerous terrain. Now we know that Will O Wisp is actually just swamp gas, which is just a combination of chemicals that sometimes becomes incandescent in swamps.

In D&D, they're still monsters though. They're pretty minor as things go, being able to do little more than go invisible, shock if you get close. But they're still tough to deal with, since they're pretty strong, invulnerable to most forms of magic, and are difficult to hit due to their size and luminous nature. They hang around dangerous or disorienting areas, because they feed on fear.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Celestial Fire Beetle

Buck has recently completed his training as a sorcerer. One of his favoured spells is a simple monster summoning spell, which he used to summon creatures from the good dimensions beyond ours.

First of all, Dungeons and Drawings now has an official Facebook page! So all you non-blogger using people that come here, you can follow us there for updates.

Celestial creatures are the subjects of a simple template. When you use a summon monster spell, you summon creatures from either a good plane (celestial) or an evil plane (fiendish), which proceed to fight for you. Druids and rangers have a similar spell called summon nature's ally, which works exactly as the sorcerer-wizard equivalent except that the creature summon is always a mundane animal.

It was a bit of a stuggle finding an appropriate creature to draw. In most of the results, I could think up of a mentor for Buck, but for some reason found it harder with the arcane savant result. So I looked at the summon spell and picked one of the listed creatures that looked interesting. Sadly, fire beetles don't actually breathe fire. They're called that because they have bioluminescent glands.

Monday, 10 October 2011


You are Buck the Hybsil, a member of a small deer-bodied race of fey. Although you'd normally live in wild seclusion, like the rest of your kind, you've recently come to a decision to go out into the world and begin a career as an adventurer.

The winner of the last poll was a male from a small and shunned race. Well, I guess I've slightly twisted the meaning of the word "shunned". Hybsils, who stand at 3 feet from hoof to horn, live in self-imposed exile, as most fey creatures do. This is also partially to do with the fact that poachers will sometimes track them down to take their antlers, since wizards want them as a magical ingredient. Shed antlers don't count, so hybsils have to deal with people trying to take their antlers, and also a good chunk of their scalp.

Trying something new with the polls. Story mode! Vote to determine which class he is.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

DRAGON MONTH: Tiamat, Mother of Evil Dragons

Tiamat is one of the most iconic members of the Greyhawk pantheon. Although only a minor goddess, she's heavily involved in the mortal world, and in her home plane in the Baator. All evil dragons keep shrines to her, in rooms separate from their treasures so she won't reach through and take their hoard. Good dragons respect her (warily). She's a vengeful creature and concerned only with her survival and that of her progeny. Her enemies include most good deities, with special regards to Bahamut, the Platinum Dragon. She sleeps in a mountain of demonic skulls and guards the borders between Avernus and Dis, attended by five ancient dragon servants.

Even people who aren't familiar with games might've heard of Tiamat. She's a common enemy in the Dragonlance books and was one of the main baddies in the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon.

First of all, I'd like to apologize for being so late with this. I've been working really hard for the past few months on some animation for a film, A Liar's Autobiography, a documentary about Graham Chapman of Monty Python fame. While it's been super awesome to be working on a film, doing character animation (basically exactly what I want to do), it leaves me absolutely exhausted when the weekend comes around.

Joe's already mentioned that he doesn't intend to return to Dungeons & Drawings on a regular basis due to other projects he wants to work on. We started this blog just over a year ago with the intent of it being a weekly drawing exercise while we looked for work: pick a monster, draw it, avoid getting rusty. With the work he and I have been getting it's been harder to keep up with the blog. So, for now, Joe's called it quits. Not me, though. I'm still too obsessive over this game to stop.

I'll start putting up the poll again so you guys can help me pick the next monster and I'll keep doing my weekly thing.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

DRAGON MONTH: Bahamut, God of All Good Dragonkind

It is said by some that Bahamut was once a mortal dragon who by strength of will and virtue of deed ascended long ago to the ranks of the gods (a transformation which is not entirely unique - extremely old or formidable dragons have been known to reach a state of near-godhood). Others believe he is part of some grander creation myth, including the legendary rivalry with his god-sister, Tiamat, mother of all evil dragons. Whatever myth you indulge in, Bahamut is famed for his great power and kindness. He ferociously (almost tyrannically) lays waste to evildoers, and will be moved to action by the plight of the very smallest, slightest creature in distress.

We're almost at the end of our Dragon Month now (I already did the joke about it lasting for like three months so I'll just apologise for the lateness at this stage) and it's been an enjoyable way of commemorating having run the blog for a whole 100 posts! We've gotten a really great following for Dungeons & Drawings, a large portion of which is thanks to other people - friends, family, followers in general - linking us elsewhere and telling people about us and stuff. So thanks, to everyone!

As you probably realised, we've both been finding it difficult to keep posting every week - both our jobs have been really time-consuming of late, I've been drawing a comic book for someone which will be published next April and Blanca's been doing drawn animation for a film that's hopefully going to see some kind of nation-wide release, at least in the UK where we live. Basically all is definitely well (at least for the time being, haha), which is great because we have the priviledge of getting to do what we enjoy in the midst of a pretty shaky financial environment.

Anyway, if you're still with me after the rambling: I'm not going to be posting regularly with Dungeons & Drawings any more. This isn't a vague "I need more spare time in general" kinda thing, I'm at point right now where I want to devote time to another project (writing a comic of my own) and I feel like if I take the time I was spending on D&D and put it all into the production of this comic I could really get something great going. Blanca will still be posting weekly (and hopefully I'll be able to come back for future guest weeks!) but this is it for my regular contributions. It's been fun!

Obviously gonna plug my website at (available for drawings, cartoons, barmitzvahs, that sort of thing) and my slightly more lazily-kept blog at and my deviantart. Hope the blog continues to flourish and proliferate in my (relative) absence!

Saturday, 3 September 2011

DRAGON MONTH: Hidecarved Dragon

The Hidecarved are an ancient order of dragons and half-dragons devoted to preserving law and order. Equivalent perhaps to monks of other races, they gather into small clans or groups called "lauths" of around four or five, and take it upon themselves to keep the peace in a certain area. Their most distinctive feature is their namesake, the mysterious runes that are scored, dark and deep, into their scaly skin. These markings are not merely aesthetic; the technique required to create them is by necessity a cruel and painful procedure, limiting the order to all but the toughest dragons. The markings themselves have been passed down over long eons - powerful magic runes of protection that, once the dragon is fully trained - render it near invulnerable to conventional weapons and magicks.

Dragon Month continues! We had a sort of impromptu hiatus mostly centered around a short stay in spain with Blanca's family. As it stands, Dragon Month is going to be about 2 1/2 months long. Maybe dragons just experience time at a slower rate to us poor, toiling humans?

"Hidecarved" is a Dragon prestige class in the Draconomicon book which I quite like. Believe it or not, D&D is more than able to let you play as one of these scaled blighters (although, as with any supernatural races that are inherently stronger than humans, you're generally going to be taking some sort of level penalty to even you out with everyone else. you little Mary Sue, you), and there are a host of options for you if you want to specialise which specific kind of gigantic invincible firebreathing magic creature you would like to be. You'll certainly be having fun with the Hidecarved - their speciality is obviously toughness, so by later levels magic and weapons will literally be bouncing off you.

DRAGON MONTH: Yu Lung (Carp Dragon)

Yu Lungs, otherwise known at Carp Dragons are the infant form Oriental dragons. They're born in rivers, lakes and ponds, and live in mud palaces of their own making. They're the least impressive, weak and least intelligent of these dragons, and their only magical talent is mild telepathy. They never grow larger than a man. After a hundred years they transform with a thunderclap, entering one of many adult forms available to them.

Joe's already written apologies for our delay, but I feel I should also extend them.

Anyway, trying NOT to do one of the more classic dragons from the manuals. This one was fun. I especially enjoyed covering my eyes so I wouldn't look at the illustration in the book so I wouldn't be at all influenced by it. Decided to go for a bit of a koi look with this.

Monday, 15 August 2011

DRAGON MONTH: Black Dragon

Black dragons are the most cruel-tempered of the chromatic dragons. Where blue dragons are vain, reds are tyrannical, greens are two-faced and whites are primal, blacks are petty. They despise all beautiful things. These dragons are of corpse-like apperance, growing more and more skeletal with age, and live in fetid swamps. They surround themselves in darkness, slime and putrefaction. The meat they eat is of creatures they've eaten and allowed to rot in the stinking pools of their undewater homes. Black dragons are ambushers; their chosen homes have too many trees for flight, and its easier to lie in the cool mud and wait for some hapless victim to walk by.

Tried to do something a little bit more unusual with this dragon. I ended up taking a lot of influence from Oceanic and Inuit masks.

Friday, 12 August 2011


The Sunwyrm is one of the less common species of dragon, falling neither into the chromatic or metallic families. Anatomically, it is markedly unusual - its adult form is much smaller than your average dragon, though still twice the size of a man. It also possesses a double set of forelimbs and back legs, with makes it no pushover in physical combat. Most notably, several parts of a Sunwyrm's body can be made to glow with a blinding light, in particular a large globe at the end of the creature's tail and its outstretched wing membranes. In many cases this will blind a potential foe outright, but even more amazingly the creature can actually transform its entire body into a mass of pure, incandescent energy, becoming incorporeal and able to pass through solid matter. Creatures who the Sunwyrm pass through in this way are not harmed, however, so the creature will more often use this form to escape. Sunwyrms commonly nest incorporeally within desert sand dunes, and take to the sky by day to hide within the blinding sunlight and ambush prey from above.

Our third Dragon Week submission! I feel like I'm using a lot of yellow, lately. I'm gonna redraw the wing on this one so you can actually see the body a little better, but we've been pretty slack on updates lately so I thought I'd upload this for now.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

DRAGON MONTH: Green Dragon

Green Dragons are your fairly classic creatures: they're huge, they live in forests, they eat faeires and elves and other good creatures. Out of the five chromatic dragons, the Greens are one of the two lawful species (the other being Blue). However, unlike their Blue cousins, Green Dragons aren't creatures of honour. Be wary of them. Though they pride themselves on appearing civil and being masters of the spoken word, this is a paper-thin disguise. Green dragons are jealous, covetous creatures. Their words mask insults and their promises are broken when their mood sours, and you'll find yourself burnt from the inside out by their chlorine breath.

My contribution to DRAGON MONTH, ladies and gents. Behold our attempts to these creatures interesting again, since Smaug cemented the scaly lizard look. Admittedly, I'm not off to the best start with the whole "let's make this original" thing. I'll try something weirder with my next dragon. With this one I ended up trying the pixelly-style thing, which is a lot harder that I'd originally anticipated.

I've started a special tagging method over at Reference Reference. Now you can look at specific images that served as guides for the Green Dragon.

Monday, 1 August 2011


Moreso than any of their metallic brethren, Gold Dragons are creatures of utmost law and virtue. They are known to be kind and fantastically intellgent, devoting much of their attention to righting wrongs and helping the weak. Gold Dragons appear to take at times an almost parental role when dealing with lesser creatures, whether lending a helping wing to a besieged adventurer or scolding an opportunistic treasure-thief.

To celebrate our 100th post (it's kind of a joint thing with the blog's first year anniversary) this fair month of August is going to be Dragon Month. Yes, you may have noticed a conspicuous absence of fantasy's bescaled poster boys from our pages so far - early on we decided to hold off from illustrating them until we reached post number 100.

If the idea of this blog is to challenge peoples' perception of what standard fantasy art should look like, then dragons are pretty high on the hit-list of "stuff to challenge". Especially on the internet, dragons must be some of the most popular and often-drawn fantasy creatures ever, and a quick search on somewhere like Deviantart will give you a good cross-section of the visual tropes they tend to subscribe to. Seriously, go look at it. See that? That's what we're gonna try to avoid. Not because it's bad, but because being weird and different makes us feel special. ;_;

Stay tuned for the rest of Dragon Month and see if you like it!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Wee Jas, Goddess of Death and Magic

Wee Jas, the Witch Goddess, occupies a unique position in the magical pantheon of deities and demigods. She dwells in blood, death and magic, but is not inherently evil. Her followers and clerics, most of them necromancers and powerful wizards, are some of the most dangerous men (and women) alive (and dead). She is distinguished from other gods of death such as Nerull (Foe of all Good and Enemy of Life) by the fact that she venerates death as an inevitability, rather than something to be cheated or dealt out wantonly. The dead are taught to be respected and remembered, that the living may be treated the same way in turn when their time comes. Her alignment is Lawful Neutral, and her favoured weapon is the dagger.

To commemorate this blog's continual maintanance for ONE WHOLE YEAR (!), this weeks' "creatures" (can we call them that?) are actually Gods from the main D&D pantheon. Blanca and I have illustrated gods that are on pretty differing ends of the spectrum so it's interesting to see how they've turned out.

This depiction of Wee Jas is a little unusual if you've ever seen any literature on her, which mostly describes her as a beautiful, red-headed woman with skull-themed jewelery. I'm not a fan of depicting gods as visually identical to humans, though, they need to be a little more abstract or symbolic to pack more of a punch. This actually affects pretty much all of the gods as listed in the Deities & Demigods book - most of them are illustrated in the same manner you'd draw an ordinary PC; you might not even get that they were deities if you weren't told so. In contrast, there's this one little icon of Wee Jas in the Player's Handbook that I really like - it has the look of a skull, but it also has these weird flame/tendril/ribbon things that seem to grow out of it, getting this combination of magic-plus-death that for me sums up the goddess. I based my design on that, trying to depict the Ruby Sorceress in a flayed, corpse-like body, roiling in gory magic, deep in her home dimension of Acheron.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Pelor, The Shining One

Pelor is a top god of the Greyhawk pantheon. His followers are many; he is creator of all things good, god of healing, and he who feels the sun rise. He lives in a golden citadel in Elysium. The fortress is surrounded by beautiful fields, farms and orchards, and is inhabited by various war-like angels and peaceful saints.

It's a rare thing for a religion not to have the Sun as one of their main gods. Even the most primitive civilizations could tell that life is sustained by that big ball of fire in the sky (except for the Greeks it seems, who made their main god king of thunderstorms).

I'm similar to Joe's frame of mind in that I don't think divine beings should always be shown as human. Deities and Demigods kinda disappoints me from an artistic point of view, since the gods just don't look that interesting. Pelor's some old guy in golden robes, Kord's a buff barbarian, Olidammara's a bard, etc... They don't look very divine.

I was always quite fond of old myths, where the reason the gods looked the way they do to us it because their true divine form is so dazzling that it can kill you. The Zeus and Semele is the most famous example. I'm pretty certain I came across a Hindu myth with a similar thing, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Bible had a couple of instances too. Well, I think the whole dazzling true form deal is pretty apt for a the god of that thing that you should never look directly into.


Sunday, 17 July 2011


When you reach the tower where the princess is held captive, you find a withered woman dressed in silks, gems and a delicately coiffed wig. Lipstick would do little to emphasize something that's long since shrunken back so close to the skull. And what would eyeliner do to eyes already so shadowed within such dark eyesockets? You'd be horrified, but your mission was to rescue the princess of Nocturnus, city of the undead.

Necropolitans were a new player race introduced in the horror-themed Libris Mortis. The idea with them is that you asked already-existing necropolitans for permission to join their numbers. If they accepted you, you go through a long and painful process where life energy is drained through your body and is replaced with negative energy. Unlike, say, a lich, another intelligent undead whose own willing transformation from living to dead involves concentrated evil, necropolitans aren't necessarily members of the dark side.

The book kinda implies that they're just really reserved, serious scholars who'd prefer to be left alone by anyone who thinks the undead are shambling abominations.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Terror Bird

Terror Birds are apex predators. They're tall, flightless animals with long, strong necks and large, hard beaks that can cut through flesh. Their small, atrophied wings bear two small useless claws. They run as fast as horses and hunt with the cunning of wolves.

For a creature with such a dramatic name, Terror Birds are actually pretty benign. In fact, this creature and its name, is an actual prehistoric creature that lived in the Miocene period (23 to 5 million years ago). Their scientific name is Phorusrhacidae and are thought to be the ancestors of Seriemas birds, something a little smaller and less lethal.

If you think these guys are goofy, just put a little though into it. These are extremely fast creatures, up to 3 metres tall (10 feet). The smallest of the species was about 1 metre (a little over 3 feet). They're basically like ostriches. You know how scary ostriches can be? Well, imagine if they actually wanted to eat you.

A nice monster if you want to use it in a prehistoric campaign setting.

Sunday, 3 July 2011


The saying goes: "If you want someone dead, you hire a killer... if you want someone dead, you hire a Gloom".

Monstrous assassins of the highest caliber, Glooms silently do the bidding of whomever happens to command them. Never armed with more than a cruel dagger, these faceless creatures demonstrate cold-blooded murder with such a clarity of form that it could be called artful. Nothing is known of a Gloom's expected payment (they certainly have no use for gold, or trinkets, or power) but once the transaction is carried out the demise of the victim is certain.

Again, the more observant of our viewers will have noticed my conspicuous abscence from these pages for the last few weeks (to which a number of contributants could be named) but rest assured, I'll be trying my hardest again. This one was obviously a little rushed, but hopefully I'll be able to make more time in the future.

Glooms are from the Epic Level Handbook, which at first seems a little weird given that they don't have much in the way of lore or other bells and whistles - they're literally just an incredibly scary CR 25 creature armed with a knife and some rudimentary (for ELH monsters) special abilites. But (as with a lot of my favourites) it's their simplicity that makes them interesting. Where do they come from? Why do they do what they do? I imagine them as this forbidden "last resort" for when royals or high-level spellcasters who absolutely, positively, have to have someone dead. Like, the kind of deal you wouldn't want to admit to.

Saturday, 2 July 2011


The Wendigo is a malevolent spirit of the cold wastes, driven by purely by hunger. It has no feet, and leaves no tracks on the ground. Sometimes its body turns misty and can't be seen but out of the corner of your eye. You're more likely to hear him that see him, his gibbering laughter sweeping across the empty landscape like with.

So the winner of last week's poll was Middle Eastern / Indian monsters and North American monsters, with an equal amount of votes. I decided to pick North American monsters, since they're under-represented in modern fantasy culture outside the odd shaman, thunderbird and, of course, Wendigo.

Fun fact! Apparently the word Wendigo comes from the proto-Algonquian "wintekowa", possibly meaning "owl". At least according to the internet. Maybe they were freaked out by the hooting of owls at night? Anyway, that's why I decided to give the Wendigo a more rounded head instead of something wolfy or deer-like, like a lot of modern fantasy does.

I decided to play on the description in the D&D books that says they have a Corner of the Eye ability. Whenever a wendigo Wind Walks, they can never been looked at directly, always seeming to appear just out of your field of vision. This was pretty tricky, and I decided to try to employ the Hidden Face illusion trick. I'm not sure how well it worked though, so you guys'll have to tell me.

Man, I'm late this week.

Did a little bit more work with the tags this past week. Monsters are now also orginized by alignment (chaotic, lawful, evil, good, neutral) and whether they're template creatures.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


Yakfolk are a race of heavy-furred bovine men who make their homes in the beautiful verdant valleys between mountain peaks. They stand smaller than a minotaur, but are much more civilized than their brutish counterparts. They dress in fine silks and decorate their horns with silver and tassles. Despite their utopian towns and culture, Yakfolk are brutal slavers and each member of their race usually has many human, elven and dwarf slaves. They're learned in magical arts, with the innate abilities to fuse their bodies with that of another humanoid creature and to control evil genies. Their signature weapons are the falchion and the magical staff.

The winner for last week's poll was high fantasy and diplomatic mission. Originally I was going to do the drow, but matriarchal black elves that live underground and worship an evil spider goddess aren't high fantasy enough. Genie-commanding, body-melding cow-men are high fantasy enough. As for diplomatic mission, you'd probably want to make some sort of treaty with them. I would. Either that or run away.

Special thanks to Joe with helping me figure out an interesting way to set up the layout and style of this image.

Also I think I'm done with all the blend shapes for my goblin. Currently working on the tongue and figuring out how to set up some controls.

Thursday, 16 June 2011


The Kenku are a race of flightless corvid humanoids that live in cities. They're of evil disposition and are especially prone to theft, which they execute in large groups. The Kenkus small size, ability to mimic sounds and strong sense of cooperation means they're often contracted as thieves, spies and assassins by those who'd rather not implicate themselves in that sort of crime.

I consider kenku in the same family as kobolds and goblins: absurd, cute, pathetic little creatures that are somehow supposed to imply a threat. They're a more dishonorable version of the tengu, a crow-man creature of Japanese mythology known for their mastery of the sword. The Oriental Adventures book has the more faithful version of the monster.

The winner of the poll was city monsters.I'm really late this week because I keep working on the goblin stuff instead. I finished modelling the character itself and all his clothing and have started working on the skeleton. I've also bee working on the blend shapes for his head, which is really fun. I'm going to have to figure out how to stop the teeth from popping out of the cheeks when the face morphs.

Edit: Improved the image some with colours, shading and floury footprints.

Monday, 6 June 2011


Domovoi are fey of the helpful variety. They're normally found near places of civilized activity, homes or campsites. In exchange from some scraps and maybe some milk, these hairy little men will keep your fires live and warm. They're slippery creatures, and prefer not to be seen by the people they're helping. Even if you got your hands on one you'd find it difficult to keep a grip on them; they're covered in a fine layer of soot and ash, making it difficult to keep a grip on them.

"...wants to help me" was the winner for last week's poll. It was pretty close for a while, since "wants to eat me", "is three times bigger than me", "is tiny" and "is surrounded by its minions" where all tied with four votes each before the winner got an extra two clicks. I'd actually found a creature that could fit all four categories. Oh well.

Domovoi are creatures of Russian/Slavic folklore (as if you couldn't tell). They have a slightly more malevolent counterpart called the Dvorovoi. These other little men were in charge of barns and livestock, but could make your cows sick if they were in a bad mood.

The poll for this week is terrains. You can select multiple answers in this one.

Also, more work on the goblin. A friend helped me out by making some suggestions on the hand and clothes modelling. He's also now got teeth. Further crits would be appreciated. I'm probably going to start trying to figure out how to do blend shapes soon and that's the kind of thing where I need to be 100% certain on the model itself.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011


Mercanes are the ultimate salesmen of the universe. They travel across dimensions followed by their entourage of bodyguards and train of merchandise, ready to buy and sell. As completely neutral creatures, they're free to wander where they please. You can find them anywhere from the mortal plane, to the Heavens, to the Abyss.

The winner for last week's which type the monster should be was the outsider. Not exactly surprising, since they're one of the groups with consistently interesting-looking creatures.

The manual describes these creatures as blue-skinned with multi-jointed fingers. Let me tell you, it was really difficult not to make him look like a certain fella from The Thief and the Cobbler.

New poll this week. Hoping to make a regular thing out of this. There's too many cool monsters to pick from.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011


Energons are a srare and elusive species. They are born from the essence of various planes, and take the form of jellyfish-like balls of elemental energy. Energons are likely to be found hovering near dimensional portals, as they're attracted to its magical energy, and curious about what's on the other side. The Xac-Yij is the energon that comes from the Ever-Changing Chaos of Limbo, and is powered by corrosive acid. All energons are largely harmelss, being incorporeal creatures and possessing no physical strength, but they each have a preferred battle plan should they have to fight. The Xac-Yij prefers attacking the weaker, smaller creatures, and flee from bigger foes.

I've done a little more work on that goblin model from last week. I'm currently learning how to do some basic rigging in this Maya course, so hopefully I should be able to animate something with it. I'm also trying to decide whether I should model the clothes as a seperate object or as part of the monster. Any 3D people out there with opinions?

Also, check out the poll in the top right corner. Go click on it.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Primal Air Elemental

These are the kings of air elementals and one of the more powerful monsters. Their amorphous soft bodies make them largely immune to many spells and damage from all but the most powerful weapons. As neutral creatures, they have no destructive urges, but their low intelligence means that they can easily be tricked.

Oh elementals. You're so difficult to make interesting because you're literally piles of stuff.

Edit: Modelling a goblin in three-dee, y'all.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Living Blasphemy

Many mysteries surrond the true nature of magic, despite the devotion of extensive resources to its study. One such mystery has been observed to occur in circumstances where high-level spellcasters have (perhaps carelessly) overextended their powers in the casting of a particularly potent spell; over time, the spell can develop in complexity and potency, divorcing itself entirely from its caster and eventually gaining a sort of sentience of its own.

One spell which is lamentably capable of this transformation is the Blasphemy curse. A seventh-level spell favoured by clerics of dark deities such as Nerull or Vecna, Blasphemy affects an area, afflicting all within its boundaries with conditions ranging from dizzied confusion to paralysis or painful death. In the case we see here, a particularly powerful instance of the spell has become sentient, appearing as a twisting, globular pillar of darkness, creeping towards you. Despite its sentience the creature is devoid of any proper intelligence, desiring only death and pain - whoever is struck by its roiling branches suffers the full extent of the spell's original effects.

Sorry for all the delayed posts from me lately, work has been pretty busy for the last few weeks (in addition to me being sort of ill and my computer packing in again). Oh well! I am attempting to catch up.

I do like the idea of sentient spells, I think it's an idea worth applying to more magical abilities. Living Cone of Cold, anyone? I sort of imagine it would be quite cute. Although, if you're feeling brave there are some slightly more epic opportunities if you know where to look.


The Wang-Liang are a race of mountain and forest dwelling giants. They used to be one of the dominant races, but that position has been usurped by the human population. As spirit-like creatures, they have a number of invisibility and shape-shifting powers, which they could easily use to dupe humans. Despite their inherent evil and envy of this younger race, they are very honorable creatures.

Oh Oriental Adventures, you are such an interesting setting. I wish to play a campaign in your world.

The Wang-Liang is one of the weakest of the giant race (CR 4), out of all the giants in the D&D books. The weakest "true" giants, as from the monster manual, are CR 9, which means that you have to be pretty high level to be able to take one on. I guess ogres are CR 3, but they're literally just dim-witted monstrous men that beat you with clubs.

Wang-Liang have a lot more flavour-stuff going on with them. They have the aforementioned spell-like abilities, and they also have a high intelligence score (compare the ogre's 6 to the wang-liangs 16. For the reader's not familiar with these numbers, humans only get an average of 10 for intelligence score). Their signature weapons are double-ended bladed staffs, but then they also have retractable claws.

I'm not really sure where wang-liangs come from as a concept. Folklore, especially oriental folklore, is fraught with shape-shifting spirits and demons. I couldn't find a creature out there that had the same name as the wang-liang, so I can only guess that these are based on some kinda especially tricky oni.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Gilin, Invisible Blade

Invisible Blades are unusual fighters (usually of some confidence or flair) who see that the key to success in combat is not always through big muscles, weapons or spells. Wielding only knives and other small, unassuming weapons, an Invisible Blade relishes being underestimated. He boldly takes on foes, unarmoured, eager to take advantage of their overconfidence, then feints to create an opening and guts them before they have a chance to react.

A more common class choice for the smaller, nimbler races, this prestige class (a class only useable when certain skill conditions have been met) seems to have been built to give Rogues the opportunity for a more in-your-face play style. To the common thug, a dagger obviously does a lot less damage than a longsword - however, Rogues who attack their opponents from behind or catch them off guard get a huge "sneak attack" bonus (hahaha). Invisible Blades, as well as being able to add their intelligence bonus to their AC (to help them out with the whole "not wearing armour" thing) get a better feint, which essentially allows them to sneak attack people from the front.

I'm a huge fan of the idea of classes not being cut-and-paste character types - obviously generalising, whilst fairly safe at first, gets boring quickly. I love prestige classes because they help you specialise your character into a real niche. Not all rogues are the same - a player might want to roll a Rogue who can sneak around like a ninja, or who can fight using spectacular acrobatics, or uses his fists like a street brawler; prestige classes give you further bonuses to help you make those play styles viable. Blanca once wrote a really cool NPC Rogue who was dead shot with a bow (ranged sneak attack, anyone? okay okay enough with the tf2 metaphors). So, yeah. If you like your rogues showoffish and bluffy, the Invisible Blade might be for you.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Xylia Glass, Alienist

Alienists are wizards and sorcerers who have delved to deep into the study of aberrations and the chaotic powers of the Far Realm. They follow their science with religious zeal, slowly descending into insanity and physical mutation as they chase immortality and trascendence of normal dimensions. Even the creatures they summon with their spells are of a warped, unnatural appearance.

This is a pretty good prestige class for players who don't want to sacrifice magical power for specific class abilities, the Alienist being a flavour prestige rather than a strategically sound one. As you gains levels, your character literally begins to go insane; you lose points to your Wisdom stat and take penalties to your interaction with normal people and animals. It's kind of balanced out by a handful of extra hit points and a bunch of damage redutions. But you're also crazy. That's the fun of flavour prestige classes.

And what's fantasy without a little HP Lovecraft thrown in the mix?

PS: I've started a new blog that may be useful to any artists out there. It's called Reference Reference, and I'm going to be archiving my collection of reference/inspirational images. Look at it to see some of the references I used for this week's image.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

GUEST WEEK: Crypt Thing by Adam Vian

The Crypt Thing is a guardian of sacred places and objects, which sits atop an ancient stone throne. It's a reanimated corpse, brought back by priests, to do away with intruders and thieves in a nonlethal manner. If it ever comes to force, the Crypt Thing will first scatter his opponents with minor teleportation magic. Despite being undead, it's not evil and can be civil with those who don't present a threat to him or his charge.

Round two of guest week comes to a close by an encore image from a previous guest, Adam Vian. He's recently put out a game he did in collaboration with Catherine Unger called From Beyond, which is quite delightful and spooky. And another game which I've always enjoyed and feel the need to bring to your attention is The Arrow Of Time (included: time travel, elemental arrows, a little soldier with a whistle for a head).

Saturday, 23 April 2011

GUEST WEEK: Kuo-Toa by Jack Cunningham

The Kuo-Toa are a race of malevolent amphibious humanoids living in coastal areas. They are violent and worship their own goddess, Blibdoolpoolp, "Sea Mother" in their own language, to whom they give bloody sacrifices. Their skin produces a sticky slime, giving them an edge when it comes to wrestling. Their signature weapon is a spear with a pincer at the end, which they use to immobilize large opponents.

Image given to us by Jack Cunningham, an illustrator-animator with a defined graphic style. He and Joe Bichard are responsible for the very lovely film Mars!, a film about space travel with some extra messages about our effect on the planet.

Friday, 22 April 2011

GUEST WEEK: Bog Giant by James Lancett

The Bog Giant is one of the smaller members of the giant family - as their name suggests, they primarily live in swamps. Having developed some oddly amphibian characteristics appropriate for their surroundings, these creatures stalk their territory in search of large reptiles such as black dragons and crocodiles to hunt and eat. Despite being their prey and their main source of clothing, crocodiles are venerated by bog giants, and are sometimes kept as pets.

This image was drawn by yet another illustrator-animator, this one named James Lancett. He's done a really nice cover for the Puffin competition for James and The Giant Peach.

GUEST WEEK: Blackstone Gigant by Charlie Hamill

The Blackstone Gigant is a gargantuan guardian of unholy temples. Created from massive blocks of dark stone by evil priests, they are usually carved in the shape of many-armed female demons. They're unlike other golems in that Blackstone Gigants have basic malignant intelligence. Her touch can turn her victims to stone, allowing her to cruelly shatter their petrified bodies to make into morbid jewellery. Should she choose not to shatter them, she can bring them back to life later on, completely under her control. Despite their massive size and cumbersome bodies, Blackstone Gigants are capable of effortless flight.

This image is brought to you by Charlie Ray Hamill. He's also an excellent photographer and a huge fan of glamorous and dangerous ladies.

Sorry about the late double-post (this was supposed to be up yesterday), but we're currently enjoying a short holiday in Spain and wifi-equipped cafés are a little harder to come by than we anticipated. Oh well!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

GUEST WEEK: Ethereal Filcher by Joe Bichard

The Ethereal Filcher is a mischievous creature that travels between our plane and its wispy ethereal neighbour. Truly bizarre-looking creatures (but surprisingly benign), they are the embodiment of pan-dimensional kleptomania, and will stalk people endlessly waiting for them to let their guard down, only to quickly teleport across into our world and filch their belongings. Their lairs are full of purloined goods.

Image kindly provided by by Joe Bichard, another illustrator-animator from jolly ol' Angle-land. He's one of the members of the Colour Club art collective (which includes the Joe Sparrow half of our Dungeons and Drawings team), whose current project is a selection of animated concert visuals for the musician Kidda.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

GUEST WEEK: Wolf-in-Sheep's-Clothing by Third Rail Design Lab

This creature appears as a tree stump with a rabbit sitting on its shorn edge. But on getting closer the stump reveals teeth and tentacles; the rabbit is just the lure it used to draw you in.

Image is provided by Third Rail Design Lab, a comic/illustrator. Yeahhhhh, this is one of those creatures that got excluded from further editions of D&D because it's just a little too silly to take seriously, even for this game. The fact that the rabbit is a part of the creature's body seals the deal. And its name doesn't really help that much because implies something a little more... something that isn't a stump with a rabbit on its head. It's still a classic though.

Paizo attempts to slightly refluff the monster in their book Misfit Monsters Redeemed by making the creature on top be the last thing it killed; which makes more sense because you kill one adventurer, then you lure the rest to you with images of him.

Monday, 18 April 2011

GUEST WEEK: Banshee by Matt Layzell

The Banshee is a hideous female monster, ghostly and fearsome in apperance, always preceeded by her unholy howls. She is the spirit of a woman who in life was dominated by jealousy and hatred, and in death is consumed by envy of the living. Her wails slay all life around her.

Welcome to the first day of our second ever Guest Week. We've got some more artists for you offering up their personal interpretations of various D&D monsters. Up first is Matt Layzell, a super cool illustrator-slash-animator. His work may be better known among any English people following this blog; he and his studio Treat is responsible for the very cool Slackers Club spots on Channel 4.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Alchemical Golem

Alchemical golems are constructs created by wizards with a special talent for potions. They made of several expensive and rare alchemical liquids contained within a tough membrane. These liquids, along with a trapped elemental spirit, are what makes this giant creature lumber forward. It's touch is acidic and piercing its membrane results in the corrosive liquids within spilling out, before the membrane repairs itself. An alchemical golem must cosume vats of alchemical liquids to replace those lost to physical damage.

Guest week soon, fellow watchers.