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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.