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Sunday, 29 April 2012

GUEST WEEK: Nycter by Katie Tiedrich

Don't hurt me!

The Nycter are a race of small bat-men that live in close-knit communities in forest caves. They're a peaceful, flimsy bunch, preferring talk to fight. When cornered, they unleash a paralyzing shriek that gives them enough time to escape into the darkness. Their leaders are called Protectors of the Cave, Nycters with class levels in druid.

Despite their bat-like similarity, the Desmodu and the Nycter don't get along. The Nycter fear the Desmodu since they are much bigger and stronger, the way a human looks at a giant. The Desmodu view the smaller race as cowardly and unintelligent (though the Nycter still possesses average human intelligence). The Nycter retain more of their bat-like qualities, being able to fly and having very sensitive ears (to the point that sonic attacks are extra painful for them).

This is a race of creatures that can be used as a player race, should the DM approve. It sounds like quite a neat idea for some kinda subterranean adventure. A way to avoid the whole you have to be either a drow, druegar, svirfneblin or any of the classic human-like underground races.

Image brought to use by Katie Tiedrich of Awkward Zombie and Aikonia. Internet celebrity, wowzers!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

GUEST WEEK: Gravorg by Emmie Bednall

The Gravorg is pretty much just an animal.

A hilarious animal.

Okay, so you're in this cave, right? And all of a sudden you lift off the ground. You go all the way up until you smack into the ceiling. You don't fall again, so you start to stand up on the ceiling. You manage, quite easily in fact. Then you drop again. Then you go up again. Then down again. Smack, smack smack!

That's because the Gravorg is a slow, lazy, sloth-like creature (despite being the size of a horse) and prefers to soften up any prey or enemies by reversing gravity and smacking you around the room until you pass out.

Like I said: hilarious.

Image brought to you by Emmie Bednall. She likes silly animals.

Friday, 27 April 2012

GUEST WEEK: Manscorpion by Oliver Cuthbertson

There's a patrol out on the desert, as you can tell from the dust clouds rising from behind the dune. You ready your weapons, ready for combat. Whoever is on the other side rises over the crest of the sand. It's just a group of men with bows and spears, but as they spot you they dash forward and you see their whole bodies. Skittering legs, a plated body and a curling, sting-capped tail curling greedily towards you.

Another monster for a ya'll to use in your desert campaign.

Though there are scorpion men in 3.5, this little fella's from the Monstrous Manual from AD&D 2nd edition. The artist who did this, Oliver Cuthbertson is a bit of a veteran compared to me. Which is when things were a little bit more hardcore, I think. People today complain about the save-or-die mechanic in 3.5, but the further you go back, the deadlier the game. Manscorpion even come with a number of rounds for convulsions as you slowly succumb to their venom.

Anyway, nice black and white work. Kinda remeniscent of earlier D&D artwork, yes?

Thursday, 26 April 2012

GUEST WEEK: Death Knight by Cristian Ortiz Martinez

We all know that sometimes when you die, you don't stay underground like you should. Maybe the right prayers weren't performed, or maybe you're full of hatred that reaches beyond the grave. Or maybe you were chosen by some dark god to become their general for their massive undead army.

That's what a Death Knight is: a warrior of evil disposition who so impressed the forces of darkness that they decided to give him a promotion. They're like evil paladins (a recommended class for these guys tends to be the blackguard class), surrounded by an aura of fear, able to summon hellfire and attracting any undead within a 200 mile radius. That has the potential to be the mass migration of the undead of a smallish country to the spot where this guy is standing.

Also these fellas have turn immunity, so good luck with that strategy, clerics for the forces of good.

This image brought to us by Cristian Ortiz Martínez, a.k.a Crom.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

GUEST WEEK: Sahuagin by Chris Cox

The Sahuagin are yet another malevolent race (D&D has a lot of those), this time from deep, deep waters. These fellas are the natural enemies of aquatic elves, and other gentle creatures of the sea. They have bonds with sharks, both by being able to speak with them and by becoming excited by the smell of blood (and going into a rage if its their own blood). Their god is Sekolah, a giant devil shark.

Fortunately for surface dwellers and those who live further up in the ocean, Sahaugin are weak-eyed (especially in sunlight) and water dependant. Unfortunately for those people, they're also mutable creatures. Some sahaugin have an extra set of arms, while others have the appearance of the sea's more benign races. They're ruthless and xenophobic, and while their own society runs relatively smoothly, they believe in the eradication of other races.

Just be careful when you go fishing.

3D models this time! Boy, they's nicely lit. Brought to you by Chris Cox, who's fairly new to the game, but very excited about it.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

GUEST WEEK: Forsaken Shell by Tony Comley

Something moves in the corners of your torch light as you enter the room. A piece of fabric? But there's no wind here. It moves again. A bundle of snakes? But it's flesh-coloured and saggy, and as it drags itself closer you see among the twisted skin tangles of boneless fingers and a skull-less human face.

Something for a horror campaign. A Forsaken Shell is an empty skin with imbued unlife, motivated by vengeance. Despite its appearance, it's horribly elastic and agile. Once it gets a horrible flaccid hand on you, it begins to wrap itself around you and squeeze. Perhaps it's some kind of feeble-minded attempt to take over your solid, structured form. In D&D campaign, skin wears you!

And then it kills you and your guts and bones dissolve as you become another awful slithering skin.

Image brought to you by Tony Comley, a director at Sherbet studios. Just lookit how gross this thing is.

Monday, 23 April 2012

GUEST WEEK: Mind Flayer by Antoine Porcheron

Mind Flayers (also known as Illithids) arrived on the world from some unknown place beyond the stars. They live in the stony corrupt darkness, hidden from the light of the surface world. Of the organized creatures to live in the Underdark, these may be the most feared. While most other races simply kill or enslave interlopers, these creatures take it a step further. We're their cattle; we're the second stage of their growth cycle.

Mind Flayer's feed on the brains of their victims, done by boring holes into their skulls using their tentacles. It's partially the solid matter that makes up a brain that they consume, but a good part of their nutrition is made up of the psychic and other mental energy within it. Though they try to cultivate their food using mind control, they find the taste of slave brain unsatisfying (and it's dangerous, since their greatest disaster involved the freedom of the Githzerai and Githyanki, their racial enemies). The brain of a life well-lived and full of knowledge, willpower and excitement is delicious to the Mind Flayer.

The Mind Flayer is also quasi parasitic. That second stage of the growth cycle I mentioned? An Illithid tadpole is taken from the tank of the Elder Brain, and placed inside a facial orifice of some humanoid creture, where it consumed the brain and grows until the physical structure of the host is changed into their final form.

No wonder these guys are a classic D&D monster.

Kicking off this Guest Week with a fabulous ink wash illustration by Antoine Porcheron. Just look at that snazz. Way to make me look bad.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Elder Brain

The Underdark is shared by a great number of highly organized malicious creatures. As a contrast to the regimented societal structure of the backstabbing drow, there's the alien society of the equally malicious well-oiled machine of the illithids. The thing that keeps them working in such perfect order? The Elder Brain.

A huge amount of pulsing, sentient brain matter, the Elder Brain is the centre of the illithid cities. Though capable of movement, it mostly spends its life floating in the tanks and pools built for it. It's part leader, part supercomputer, part moral police and part afterlife; in short, it's near deific. It senses the thoughts of all creatures within the city. Not only does this prevent treason, but it also makes the cities notoriously difficult to penetrate.

The life of the mind flayer begins and ends in the tank of the Elder Brain. As little tadpoles, they're placed in its tank, where it feeds off their psychic energy. Those who survive get to become fully formed mind flayers. At the end of an mind flayer's life, the brain is removed from the creature's head and placed in the tank, where it's absorbed by their leader.

Tried to do a little redesigning of this creature (though I ended up with pretty much the same colours, because they just work). The Elder Brain tends to be shown as a bit too human, I think. If you look at the cerebral structures of animals, you find that they have really weird shapes as one part of the brain is more developed for whatever skill the animal has. When you get to simpler animals, they get even stranger. A shark's brain is a strange elongated thing. So I tried to model this a little bit more off an octopus brain with lots of neuron-tentacles.

Guest week starting Monday! It's gonna be neat.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Siege Crab

The kuo-toa priests and alchemists were finished. Years of research, prayers and failures had resulted in the ultimate weapon for their sea-floor expansionist war. Tomorrow a high priest with the coral circlet and his bodyguards would crawl through the belly compartment and lead the attack, but tonight the army would dine on their creation's discarded entrails.

The Siege Crab is a half-living tank, forged by the Kuo Toa (or any other evil sea-dwelling race, should you wish) by surgical and magical means. A live giant crab is taken and a chunk of its insides are taken out to create a small transportation area where its handlers can sit. Its carapace is reinforced with runes to give it resistnace to spells and even block the attacks from incorporeal creatures. Its sheer size and powerful pincers make it ideal for destroying fleets and razing cities.

Of course, since its half alive, that means that the death of its controller can result in, at best, a bored crab, or, at worst, a confused and pained rampaging creature. Also, if you happen to down the crab, that's pretty much a guarantee that the people inside it are trapped and will eventually starve, since the crab will almost inevitably land on its belly.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

The Party

Presenting the cast of 3rd edition D&D, entering the treasure chamber at the end of a dungeon: Jozan the human cleric of Pelor, Mialee the elven wizard, Tordek the dwarven fighter and Lidda the halfling rogue. Mialee looks a little worried guys; better have Lidda check the doorway before you rush in.

Well, the cast of D&D is really much much larger, with representatives of each class and race. They don't just appear in the classes page, but also in adventure modules and in the feats and spells pages of the books, demonstrating the benefits of those choices. These four happen to represent the classic roles that an adventuring party is made up of (healer, arcana, tank and dps, respectively). I suppose I could've added the fifth man as Gimble the gnome bard/party face, but whaddaya gonna do.

Especially happy with the way Tordek turned out in this.

Anyway, this is my special illustration to you guys for getting me 100,000 views on Dungeons & Drawings. It's been about a year and a half since I started this blog with Joe Sparrow. Special thanks go to him for suggesting we start this blog.

Special thanks also go to my followers, my guest artists, the people who post my art in their sites and forums, my mom and family for being my first commenters, to the commenters that came after them, to the people who posted my stuff on reddit and to Wolfgang Baur for putting the blog in his Kobold Quarterly newsletter and got me a huge influx of viewers, to those that have commissioned me, to the forum-goers of Kobold Quarterly and Giant In The Playground, to those of you who voted on my polls and suggest monsters and to the industry people who make me feel special in that some of my work has caught their eye. I do this for fun and the art is worthwhile in itself, but it the attention doesn't hurt.

Now get me some more views.