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Sunday, 28 December 2014


It takes on whatever shape is most appealing.

The origin of the mimic isn't completely certain, but the most popular theory is that a wizard did it. And with their track record, it's not exactly a slight chance that it could be true. At any rate, mimics currently roam free in the dungeons, tricking adventurers with their appealing shapes.

If the mimic has an original shape, it hasn't been recorded. Perhaps they can only have the shape of a pre-existing thing. The mimic is a shapeshifter specializing in inanimate objects, and best known for looking like especially nice treasure chests that go on to sprout sticky limbs. But a mimic will gladly take on the shape of a larger object such as a door, part of a wall, and so on. Some of these monsters are massive enough to pose as houses. Watch out for huts that smell of saliva, is all I'm saying.

The mimic or treasure-chest monster is pretty iconic across tabletop games and video games. I think the first game I ever encountered this sort of monster in was in Dragon Quest III on my Gameboy Color. It was a fun game.

Hope you peeps are having some nice Winter holidays.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Green Warder

Green Warders are cultivated by the elves of Faerûn to act as guardians of their most sacred places. Despite this, a Warder is still a plant rather than a constuct, since constructs are normally made out of unliving material, while the Warders are still living plants. The Warder is not meant to be a combatant, but a decoy. Their branches and leaves are arranged in such a way so that it looks like an elf from a distance, causing any interlopers to either turn back or follow the fake. In addition to that, the Warder can cast several enchantments to either confuse or put intruders to sleep.

When elves migrate from one area to another, they may leave the Warders behind, which will still carry out its duties. However, without the elves there to trim them regularly, the Warder grows shaggy with overgrown leaves and branches.

I know horns aren't an especially elfy thing. Well, here's what I think about elves. I ain't like 'em. Or I specifically don't like those hippie frou-frou elves that are just so calm and intelligent and beautiful and blehhh. It's kind of why I prefer drow to ordinary elves, because at least drow have an interesting trait in their general awful evilness. In fantasy, I tend to find most elves to be a race of Mary Sues with maybe a little bit of condescension for the other races.

Which means that my favourite forest elves are the Lorwyn elves of Magic: The Gathering. They're a bit closer to Fair Folk, which is how I like my elves: self-obsessed, arrogant, dangerous and in tune with the more deadly aspects of plant-life. They loathe all other non-elf creatures (they call them eyeblights) and seek to enslave others at best or hunt them at worst. Also, they have horns. Which is why I gave the Green Warder horns.

Sunday, 7 December 2014


The Ravid is one of those jolly extradimensional creatures that are fairly harmless on their own plane but a good deal more chaotic when they cross over into ours. This particular creature comes from the Positive Energy plane, which you think would be good seeing as how positive energy is the kind of healing, undead-slaying magic you generally want on your side. Well too much positive energy is a negative thing it seems. Think of positive energy as air in a balloon; enough of it and you eventually go pop.

But that's not the best weapon in the Ravid's arsenal. The best weapon would be that it can animate objects around it once every few seconds through the sheer force of the positive energy it exudes. The object chosen is completely at random, but it will still mess with your day. The fork is animated. Your sword is animated. Your clothes. The carpet, the table, the house you're in is animated. And all those objects are on the Ravid's side.

This creature was a tricky one to redesign. The whole pale glowing serpent thing was easy to do, but for some goofy reason it's described of having a claw that comes out from near its head. LOOK AT HOW GOOFY IT LOOKS. But while I guess giving it a long flowing tendril hair doodad with a hand-looking thing at the end looks less goofy, in a way it isn't as immediately memorable at the original Ravid's grumpy face and dorky little arm.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Tomb Mote

Necromancers would do well to switch graveyards on a fairly regular basis after their rituals, lest they end up with a minor infestation of Tomb Motes. Necromantic magic generally animates bodies or large body parts, but in the decomposition process a lot of dead matter falls to the side, magically imbued but in too diluted a form to actually do anything. But when enough hair, skin flakes, bone fragments, rot ooze and grave dirt are gathered up together, the combined dark magic is enough for the different parts to fuse into a single vaguely humanoid creature. Essentially, a Tomb Mote is a sentient dust bunny of graveyard detritus.

The Tomb Mote is small --about the size of a cat-- and weak. But they still possess enough intelligence to know swarming tactics, and are quick enough to strike many times in a short period (gaming translation: they get an extra standard action). Wash any wounds received from this creature immediately or risk sepsis. Soap is a handy adventuring tool.

Sunday, 23 November 2014


I know when I first saw the Werecrocodile in all its goofy glory in the pages of Sandstorm I was all pshaw running out of ideas are we Wizards and here I was thinking Weretigers were dumb. But after some research it came to my knowledge that Werecrocodiles are a legit thing (along with Weretigers and other Were-big cats), though not in the sense that were used to here in the modern West.

We've done the Werewolf before, arguably the poster boy for all werebeasts. It's a man who under the light of the full moon becomes a wolf hybrid type thing. The moon rule is followed with all the lycanthropes (an erroneous term, since the term lycanthope can only be linguistically tied to the werewolf), regardless of whatever creature you turn into. But the moon thing is a relatively new invention. Though some werewolf legends talk about transformations under certain stages of the moon, werewolves were more often described as willingly transforming through magic, usually by wearing a pelt, part of a pelt, reciting a spell or applying a potion.

So it is with Werecrocodiles. The folkloric key to becoming a werecrocodile is usually either an incantation or the wearing of a fetish.  Finding specific stories and legends is a bit tricky. I've found a lot of sites claiming that they appear in legends of Indonesia, Thailand, Zambia, Egypt and the Bakongo people. Basically anywhere where the crocodile is an apex predator. The person would transform into a crocodile and then lurk in rivers to eat people who wronged them / sexy bathers. Cannibalism is a recurring theme across the world when it comes to werebeasts.

 There's the Thai legend of Krai Thong and Chalawan (which is also a Thai film), but I'm unclean whether Chalawan is a giant/demon who can turn into a crocodile or a demon crocodile that can take on humanoid form. In Indonesia, the magical incantation/formula to take on human form is said to be tiang maleh rupa, and those who use the spell are known by the same name. In the 88th chapter of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, there's a spell invoking Osiris to give you the form of a crocodile, though the spells of the Book of the Dead are meant to aid the dead in the trials they face in the afterlife rather than affect still corporeal mortals.

Speaking of Egyptian mythology and Osiris and turning into crocodiles, you should totally buy Pantheon by Hamish Steele. It's a comic telling the creation myth according to the Ancient Egyptians. And boy I tell you I learned something from the book. Mostly that the Greek gods aren't the only ones with weird drama.

Sunday, 5 October 2014


The Nightmare is literally a horse from hell. But if you want to be more specific, it comes from the Gray Wastes of Hades, the battleground dimension between Hell and the Abyss. These solitary smokey horses hide among the stunted black trees, waiting put to work (willingly or unwillingly) into the evil armies. But they are still difficult to catch. Nightmares breathe blinding smoke and are able to transform their bodies into ethereal substance that travels between dimensions. Their flinty hooves give out sparks when they strike the ground, setting anything flammable alight. Most coveted are the Cauchemars, massive Nightmares fit for giants to ride upon.

Went for a more smoke-based nightmare rather than the traditional flaming mane one. Found when reading the description that there were no allusions to flame except for some around the hooves, eyes and nostrils. And they don't deal fire damage, though yes their hooves can set things on fire. Don't ride a Nightmare on wooden floors, kids.

Some interesting history behind the concept of the Nightmare. The original Nightmare (the mare of German folklore) was a goblin that sat on the chests of sleepers, paralyzing them and causing bad dreams. The modern scientific explanation for things along these lines are sleep paralysis. Your body becomes paralyzed during sleep, to prevent you from moving around to much as you dream. But sometimes you wake up in a half-asleep state and can't move. And in this half-asleep state you might still be dreaming, and imagine something sitting on your chest. Lots of countries have their own versions of monsters that cause sleep paralysis. I had a similar experience, only in this case my monster was a walrus holding a small shelf asking me to give back the books I borrowed. Dreams, man.

The whole horse thing came about as a pun. You know, mare = female horse, nightmares = bad dream, Nightmare = evil horse. Though the first time you can see this pun is in Henry Fuseli's The Nightmare. But similar horses again appear in mythology and folklore. The ones most similar to the D&D Nightmare are prominent in Russian folklore (and probably surrounding countries), where a character (good or evil) rides on a giant ferocious steed with sparking hooves and smoke-filled breath.

Sunday, 28 September 2014


The Tsochar is a colonial organism. The tangled-looking body is actually formed of several "strands", each possessing its own functional respitatory, digestive and nervous system. When fused, the creature behaves as a single individual, but strands can be surgically and continue living without the rest, albeit in a weak, animalistic state. An ordinary Tsochar will contain about a dozen strands, while elders are made up of hundreds.

Tsochar are also parasitic organisms, preferring to prey on intelligent beings. The Tsochar works it way inside the body of its host (preferably through a wound) and wedges itself in the spaces between the internal organs. The Tsochar can choose to simply inhabit the body --telepathically coercing the host with threats of pain if necessary-- or completely take over the host's nervous system, killing the mind while keeping the body alive. Obviously, the second option is used most, as few are willing to host a creature that (regardless of alligiance) will eat them from the inside out.

The Tsochar is similar to the Morgh, another wormy creature that is able to puppet bodies. However the Morgh is an undead creature controlling its own withered corpse, while the Tsochar is completely a parasite, highly intelligent, and relies on its host to be living.

I really like parasite monsters, regardless of game or media. Not sure how to explain that particular fancy, but it's always something I've found interesting. There's just something kinda cool / horrifying about another organism invading your body for its own survival.

Next time lets try an image that doesn't have blue and pink in it.

Sunday, 21 September 2014


Nereids are sea nymphs, the ocean being their usual habitat when they're not in the Elemental Plane of Water, their true home. Much like Dryads, the tree nymphs, are bound to their tree to survive, the Nereid's life is bound to their shawl, a floating material made of surf. Being separated from their shawls for too long results in the death of the Nereid, so stealing one is a certain (if cruel) way to temporarily gain their allegiance.

But the Nereid is a shy creature with a host of defensive abilities. As water faeries from an Elemental Plane, their bodies seem to be made out of shimmering water, making them incredibly difficult to see when submerged. They can also control the water surrounding them, alter currents and summon Water Elementals to protect them. Her final defense is an especially nasty and last resort one. The Nereid can kill with a kiss, filling the lungs of the victim with water so that they drown. You shouldn't have tried to take her shawl.

Actually a creature from Greek myth, as many nymphy creatures tend to be. While the word dryad refers to how they are bound to oak trees (drys), their name actually means that they are daughters of Nereus (50 in total, plus the son Nerites), an ancient sea god. There's some confusion between them and the Oceanids, daughters of Oceanus who are also sea nymphs (3000 in total, along with 3000 brothers --Potamoi-- river spirits). Calypso, of The Odyssey fame, is a Nereid or an Oceanid  depending on the source. Regardless of parentage, sea nymphs tended to be minor protective spirits to fishermen, sailors and the like.

Sunday, 14 September 2014


The Shen Lung is one of many different dragons of the Lung type. Ordinary dragons are highly magical creatures, but in the end they are merely intelligent, large and potent beasts. The Lungs are inherently mystical beings allied to the elements who cross the boundary between the Spirit World and the Material Plane at will. Their powers come from a mystic pearl embedded in their heads (or brains), which allow them to fly without wings, riding the currents of air.

The Shen Lung (the Spirit Dragon) is among the lungs that mortals are most likely to meet, where all others prefer to remain hidden away in their celestial palaces or in the Spirit World. An aura of divine purity exudes from this dragon, repelling all verminous beasts that would dare approach it. It has special power over water and is often found near rivers inhabited by Chiang Lungs, whom they are bodyguards to. Pleasing a Shen Lung results in good harvests, while insulting one can lead to floods and blights, as it has control over the weather.

I like the traditional D&D dragons (blue and black are my favourites), but I have a soft spot in my heart for the lung type dragons. I think it's mostly the way they don't have wings but can still fly. There's just something quite cool about that. And the whole mystic pearl thing. Some Chinese (and I'm assuming other Oriental tales) feature the dragon's pearl being found by a human and then it bringing them good luck.

Some of you may recognize the name Shen Lung from the Dragon Ball series, where the 7 dragon balls (mystic pearls?) were gathered together to summon Shenron (or Eternal Dragon, or Shenlong) to grant the gatherer a wish.

The final image of Epic Month, which also consisted of the Phoenix, Phane and White Slaad. Using a dragon feels a bit like cheating, since dragons have more than one challenge rating depending on their age. But from 800 years onwards a Shen Lung is over CR 20 so that means it becomes an epic level creature so yeah.

Friday, 5 September 2014

EPIC MONTH: White Slaad

The Death Slaad isn't the final evolution of the slaad species. Neither is the White Slaad; it's merely the next step.

But first lets go over the many many steps needed to get to a white slaad. First a Blue or Red slaad needs to infect a spellcaster in order to create a Green Slaad. After a century, it becomes a Grey Slaad, and it can use a Ritual to become a Death Slaad. Then after yet another century, a Death Slaad becomes a White Slaad. And like I said, this isn't even it's final form.

But for now, the Slaad comes closer to the primordial chaos that originally birthed them as creatures. As well as having destructive chaos-themed magical abilities, the White Slaad is able to belch up chaotic goo which corrodes away the laws that hold matter together like acid. Even those who would normally have protection from chaos aren't a match for it, as it burns through the shielding magic.

I've kept going with the whole fungal thing that Joe did with his Death Slaad, since I was pretty disappointed with my original Green Slaad. The fungus thing adds a little something visually weird to what are otherwise yet another lizard/frog creature. The 3.0 edition of the Monster Manual actually had a nice table to slightly randomize the appearance and abilities of the Slaad. They still kept the basic giant toad-man thing, but you could sometimes get ones with snake hair, wings, petrification gaze, breath weapons or exploding poisonous boils.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

EPIC MONTH: Abomination, Phane

Abominations have been covered before here. They're unholy unions between deities and something else, whatever that may be, and however it may be done. The higher divine creatures, being in that strange state of physical being, it may not be a birth or hatching as feeble mortals understand it. Regardless, this merging of god-stuff happens, and Abominations are formed, being which should not be, are aware of this, and destroy everything around them through their mere presence. Even stillbirths can regain horrible unlife. When divinities become aware of an Abomination, they attempt to destroy it or seal it away. It doesn't always work.

Most Abomination's destruction is limited to the present time. Not so much with the Phane, the union between the other thing and a god of time and fate. As such, their destruction can potentially extend through time (only backwards, though), requiring the use of Quaruts to take them down. The Phane is an incorporeal creature of dusty shadow with glowing green eyes. The air around it seems unnaturally still, and that's because it is; the Phane emits an aura of temporal stasis around them. The good news: you do not naturally age or suffer damage while in this stasis. The bad news: this doesn't apply to the Phane's abilities. Being in control of the stasis field, the Phane can choose to accelerator it for you, and feeds as you age.

Among it's temporal abilities include the manipulation its opponent's temporal presence. It can reach to some alternate time stream, and retrieve a past version of the person it's looking for. You will fight yourself, only a yourself that's completely under the dominion of the Phane.

Sunday, 17 August 2014


The Phoenix is a unique creature. In fact, it may be the only one of its kind.

Its plumage is the colours of fire and burn with the same intensity. Even when a feather is shed, assuming it doesn't simply burn away, it retains heat and golden light indefinitely. It can start fires with a touch and its blood burns like lava. The Phoenix's fire is more than just mundane flame, as creatures normally immune to it find themselves burned by divinity.

The most striking ability of the Phoenix is its self-immolation. Every few centuries, the Phoenix spontaneously bursts into flames and a younger version rises from the glowing ashes. This same ability is also used as a defense mechanism, making it able to burn away all damage in a matter of seconds. To see the Phoenix self-immolate can be considered a good or bad omen, depending on your interpretation. However, it is certainly a bad omen if you're within the burn range.

Welcome to Epic Month. As a celebration of Dungeons & Drawings four-year anniversary, we're going to be posting epic-level creatures, i.e. creatures which should only be fought by adventurers of 20th level or higher. At this challenge rating, creatures encountered are more divine forces than ordinary forces, capable of levelling landscapes, destroying souls and bending time and space.

Honestly, the Phoenix's immolation supernatural ability seems a bit OP to me. Basically, as a full round action it can kill itself, dealing massive damage within a certain area, reapparing at the end of the round with full hit points. You can probably count its spell-like abilities as refreshed too, since this phoenix technically counts as a "new" bird. I suppose its AC is on the low side compared to other epic-level creatures, so it won't be to hard to whittle it back down again. Just enjoy taking 40d6 fire damage every few rounds as it regenerates itself.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Ice Weird

The Ice Weird is the more solid version of the Snow Weird, water-influencing rather than air-influencing. Like other Weirds, she's an especially powerful elemental tied to the mortal world by an elemental pool, a roiling mass of ice, which she cannot leave except to return to the Elemental Plane of Water, closing the pool behind her. Unlike the Snow Weird, she is unable to control the weather, her powers being more directed towards physical and mental handicapping.

Trying to make the Ice Weird sufficiently similar from the Snow Weird was a pretty tricky challenge, especially since there were aspects with the first drawing that I was happy with, but didn't want to repeat too much in the second one. Also there were a couple of visual tropes related to snow women that I wanted to avoid, namely the icicle / snowflake crown and white hair. Also, despite the fact that she and all weirds are supposed to resemble human women, I wanted there to be something somewhat inhuman about her. Whether I was successful or not is up to the viewer, but I'm fairly pleased with the results.

Sunday, 6 July 2014


Yes, D&D has an evil squirrel.

Part of the wildlife of the Shadow Plane, Skiurids usually live in colonies of up to two dozen individuals, along with their pups. Like other natives of their plane, Skiurids are capable of summoning magical darkness. The squirrels create cold areas of darkness, which drain the energy from anybody who happens to wander into them. That drained energy solidifies into a black nut, which the squirrels collect when the coast is clear. Their dens usually contain a small stockpile of nuts for pups and for rainy days. Skiurid energy nuts are coveted by necromancers, who use them to empower their spells.  (In text rules, 50% chance of raising the caster level of a necromancy spell by 2).

The thought of evil squirrels is pretty ridiculous, so much so that Skiurids are better suited for a comedy game. I can imagine evil squirrels in Adventure Time. Or if you just want to mess with your players.

I think it works a bit better if you think of it a bit like the Elysian Thrush. Both are very low CR creatures that would probably only attack someone if directly threatened, but are capable of some fairly impressive environmental effects. For all your PC knows, they've just walked into a patch of darkness caused by some more threatening foe. And only if they make a fairly high perception check will they notice a little black squirrel picking something off the ground.

Friday, 27 June 2014


The Griffon, along with the dragon and the unicorn, is among the most recognized of the world's magical beasts. Being a combination of lion and eagle, two very admired mundane animals, ownership of a Griffin mount or guard beast is seen as a great status symbol in the nobility. However, due to the Griffin's horse-like size, along with its ferocity and not-quite-bestial intelligence, mean that it makes for a very dangerous and unpredictable pet. It's possible to train a Griffon, but this takes a long time and must be started when the beast is freshly hatched.

Sometimes, despite my best efforts, I end up feeling like I struggle with successfully making images sufficiently different. I know artists have their own styles, with recurring motifs, colour palettes, shapes, what have you, but at the same time you don't want it to feel like you're just drawing the same thing over and over again. This one, for example, I found difficult to make different from my gynosphinx, another red leonine creature.

Inspiration for the griffon, rather than eagles, was actually vultures, since their feather ruffs actually make good parellels to lion manes. I specifically looked at the bearded vulture and Egyptian vulture, which are a bit more regal looking than the average vulture. Even if the Egyptian dude does look a little bit dead.

Friday, 13 June 2014


The veiled acolytes of the Great Red God of the Deep are a  most unwelcome sight on any lonely road. Known colloquially as "Redcaps" (on account of the great, blood-soaked hoods they adorn themselves with) these creatures are similar in stature to the halfling or the gnome - but should by no means be underestimated on account of their small size. Constantly whispering sing-song adulations to their dread God in a forbidden tongue, they offer praise to It in the slaughter of all living things (an act at which, either through some dark blessing or sheer fervour, they are fearsomely adept). Wielding an enormous crescent-shaped mowing-blade, they are as deadly in combat as they are difficult to kill; it has been said that woven into their hoods is some malign faery-magic that protects them from harm as long as the fabric is kept moistened with blood. If you have no choice but to fight a Redcap, it is recommended you arm yourself with a weapon of Cold Iron, as the metal's touch repels them (as it does most fey).

Finally getting back to creatures again! We actually had a Redcap illustration on the blog from a while ago (Ben Tobitt's wonderfully violent offering - it went up during a guest week) but the campaign I just finished involved a redcap and I wanted to do one that we could put in the second Dungeons & Drawings Book (did we mention? we're doing a second Dungeons & Drawings book!), so here we are. I kind of added the more Lovecraftian elements... you can see the sigil on his hat is the symbol of some kind of Squid-God. Although Redcaps to speak Aklo in Pathfinder, which is the language of the betentacled Elder Gods and such. So it isn't too far of a sidestep.

Despite their traditional depiction arguably not being that scary (short old man with spiky boots and a red hat), Redcaps are actually pretty beastly, stats-wise, for their CR, so I ended up spinning the encounter with more of a horror theme - one that would make the party just want run away from it instantly rather than try to fight it. I was actually pretty pleased with the result! I built him up a bit beforehand - someone examining a tapestry adorned with a throng of planar travellers rolled a high Spot check, so I told them they happen to notice, among the rest of the colourful creatures, one figure that sends an ominous chill down their spine -

And I drew ^this^ on the game mat we use. One of our PCs, Tythis, is an Oracle (another Pathfinder thing - Oracles are to Clerics what Sorcerers are to Wizards) whose backstory involves him being haunted by a strange spirit called Bartleby. I told Tythis that Bartleby (who usually keeps pretty silent unless called on) sees this little black-and-red figure and seems to recognise it, and his reaction is very negative. 

This was framed as kind of an aside, but I think it stuck in the players' heads. Later on, the players come to a strange underground labyryinth. It's pitch black, and the players are working their way through a puzzle involving some teleporters. The tension is ramped up gradually - I think just the idea of being in a pitch black place and having to make your own light makes things quite claustrophobic, and I described the sound of a strange piping in the distance (the Redcap's "singing"). After a few rounds of the singing getting louder and the players maybe starting to worry a bit, I bust him out - the Redcap appears in a doorway and runs at the players! The way I described him was less cartoony than the illustration above... I guess I pictured a sort of Pyramid Head thing (the game, not the movie!).  At the same time, I start playing this music, which is one of my favourite pieces ever: 

AAAAAAAAAA! Seriously, the first time I heard this - wow! How horrifying. It seemed to set off the panic well, and the rest of the encounter was pretty much one big mad dash to solve the puzzle without meeting the Redcap or his scythe on the way. The party seemed pretty terrified of the prospect of meeting him again throughout the rest of the campaign, which felt good.

Overall, it was just a brief horror excursion in a more typical fantasy campaign, but I think that was why it worked so well, like the sudden shift in tone added to the scare. I'm a real fan of genuinely scary stuff, not just blood and guts or jumpscares but creative and effectively-conveyed scares, especially things that seem scary to you without you being able to explain why. The sort of inexplicable fear you feel in dreams, that kind of thing. If you haven't played any Silent Hill games I'd really recommend them - I think videogames have a particular knack for being scary because you're more directly involved in them than you are in a book or a movie. Definitely play SH2 if nothing else - the various Pyramid Head sections are expertly built up and paid off.

anyway, hope y'all found this interesting. Got any stories about trying to DM scary stuff?

- Joe

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Elessia, Changeling Wizard

So this weekend just gone we finished the Pathfinder campaign I've been DMing for the last few months. It went off with a bang! You can see my previous post on the whole business here.

In commemoration of this I decided to make a post featuring my redesign of the campaign setting's Big Bad, Elessia. Spoilers on the campaign progression/ending below!

Elessia, though barely 20, is a wizard of no small power. Orphaned by the Nirmathas-Molthune war, she was taken in by a guild of Nirmathan mages after showing surprising amounts of innate magical ability (perhaps owing to non-human ancestry - she was almost certain her mother had been at least an elf, possibly something worse). By the time she came of age, Elessia was certain she had pinpointed the fault for the destruction of her family: the belligerent and expansionistic nation of Molthune, whom everyone knew had instigated the war in the first place, and its star Captain, a brutal man named Pavo Vos. Elessia knew that she could never stand toe to toe with the full might of the Molthune army alone - but with her startling (almost inhuman) ability to dominate or destroy the minds of all those she met, she set out with a handful of stolen magical artifacts to install herself as a spy in the Molthune ranks, who would destroy the country from within.

Elessia's name and role are taken pretty much as written from the Fangwood Keep module - a tricksy magic user who fights indirectly using enchantment and illusory magic. The character is written as an evil cleric - however, I changed her up in a few ways; mostly for the sake of it, but also because the villain in our previous big campaign (another Pathfinder series, The Price of Immortality) also happened to be an evil-god-worshipping lady, and I kind of wanted to do something different. I ended up writing Elessia more like a player character, with a traditional they-burned-down-my-village sobstory that had provoked her to just take the reins of life in order to ruin her perceived antagonists wholly and conclusively. She had a particular thing against the military, and given that the party were all from the Molthune army this gave her a good reason to specifically try and do them in.

The party itself was actually over-leveled (6 of them in a campaign meant for 4-5) and had been having a moderately easy time of killing hobgoblins, so i decided to make Elessia a lot more powerful. I gave her 8 levels in Wizard, giving her access to lots of fun mind-affecting spells but very little actual combat ability. She used mostly illusory/enchantment magic, so the idea was that the party would have to think their way around a lot of trickery to get to her but, once revealed, she was actually very weak. We had a fun fight involving lots of Naruto-style illusory clones (Major Image) and party members fighting party members (Dominate Person), all the while with Elessia running around under Greater Invisibility. But they got the better of her in the end! 

In the end, the death toll was pretty low - all but one of the party survived, although in order to escape they had to run through a busted planar portal which scattered most of the party across several different randomly-decided dimensions (I did a little epilogue for each). The one PC that died was the numerically-named "27"  - he got swallowed whole by a Gibbering Mouther summoned by Elessia just before the portal cut out and, having nowhere else to go, decided to go out with a bang and blew himself (and the mouther) to smithereens with a pellet grenade. RIP 27. 

I love cameos so I'm sure we'll see the other PCs again. Everyone did a drawing of their characters so I'll have to find them all and post them here so you can see what they looked like!

Anyway, I did some coloured versions of Vos' Vipers (now deceased), so I thought I'd post them too.

You can buy a pdf of the Fangwood Keep module straight from the Paizo website. I'd recommend it, the mix of sandbox-style exploration with classic dungeon crawling was really fun! Next campaign I run is going to be written completely from scratch - I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Serpentflesh Golem

Serpentflesh is actually a bit of a misnomer when it comes to this particular type of golem; it isn't made exclusively from snakes. Rather, the serpentflesh golem is actually made up of any body part that belonged to any of the serpent reptilian races, which can include kobolds, lizardmen, yuan-ti, nagas, and similar races.

Essentially, a serpentflesh golem is almost exactly like the ordinary flesh golem (i.e. the Frankenstein's monster): it's a mindless construct immune to many forms of magic, save for those that deal certain elemental magic. However, due to the serpentflesh golem's inherent bodyparts, it's also venomouse, capable of delivering poison through any snake-headed section of its body.

The serpentflesh golem is meant as an insult to the scaled races. Most of the scaly ones are too proud to create abominations from their own flesh, and seeing the non-scaled races create these abominations makes their cold blood boil.

Also, animation because animations are fun.

Monday, 12 May 2014


Hengeyokai are more a varied creature type than a true race. Some animals already have inherent ties to mysticism and are used as familiars or sacrifices. These same animals can find their innate magical ability growing to the point that when they reach a certain age --usually 100 years-- the animal undergoes a sudden magical burst. It gains true sentience, becoming about as intelligent as a man, as well as shapeshifting abilities, having three main forms: an animal form, a human form, and a hybrid form which looks like the animal walking on its hind legs. In fact, hengeyokai translates to "changing monster".

While a good amount of hengeyokai can pass for ordinary animals, become slightly malformed by their transformation, usually gaining an extra tail. Even when shapeshifted, the animal's true nature may be exposed by a body part that won't transform (again, usually the tail), vaguely bestial features, or markings remeniscent of their true form. The hengeyokai may also be exposed by their appetites -- many a cat hengeyokai is exposed by being caught eating dead birds while in human form.

The hengeyokai are primarily tricksters, using their abilities to steal or cause minor inconvenience to surrounding human populations. Especially malevolent hengeyokai will take on the form of a person in a household, murder them, and take their place. Animals prone to transforming are foxes (kitsune), racoon dogs (tanuki), cats (bakeneko), badgers (mujina) and dogs (inugami).

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Vanim the Half-Elf Alchemist

PCs! in some ways I find doing player characters a little easier than monsters as we tend to push the monster designs a bit wackier. This guy is a character I created for a PvP tournament we're running at the moment, shown here in both his normal and steroid-enhanced forms.

The tournament is using the Pathfinder system, and this guy uses a Pathfinder class called an Alchemist. Alchemists are kind of weird, highly adaptible support spellcasters who are able to fill in a number of roles. Well, I say "spellcasters" but obviously all their abilities are themed around (al)chemical concoctions. Your base alchemist has three principal abilities:

  1. Extracts, which are just spell equivalents that you select from a limited pool. They function as potions, and are mostly single-target buffs (like Bull's Strength etc) that target the drinker (they only work on the alchemist herself by default, although you can spec into the ability to give them to your allies too).
  2. Bombs, which are just alchemical explosives that the alchemist mixes up on the spot - these hit a single target for fair damage and do a bit of splash too.
  3. Mutagen, which is a neat sort of Barbarian-style steroid that gives a +4 bonus to one physical stat (typically STR) at the expense of -2 to a corresponding mental one. This, again, is drank as a potion but only ever affects the alchemist herself.
The usual use of mutagen is to induce an incredible-hulk-esque last resort in melee combat with the STR boost, but Vanim instead goes for a mutagen that gives +4 to DEX and -2 to WIS (I guess to represent the lack of caution you would feel having become spontaneously nimble). I've paired this with Weapon Finesse and Improved Feint, as well as an Alchemist variant that replaces Bombs with a rogue-equivalent sneak attack, so the game plan is going to be to run up to people, feint them repeatedly while sneak attacking them in the face. Will it work?!??!?!?!? Possibly.

As for actual character backstory - it's deliberately a bit thin on the ground (it's just a tournament, after all), but the idea is that Vanim is this half-elf with a bit of facial disfiguration. Blaming the blemish on his human ancestry, he becomes an alchemist to try and "enhance" his elven qualities, the result of which being his mutagen (his transformed body is supposed to be a caricature of an Elvish appearance - he thinks it's beautiful but in reality it looks pretty horrible).

Anyway, sorry for the long delays. What do you think of the way I've statted Vanim? Got any cool character creation stories? When will I post next? NOBODY KNOWS 

- Joe

Monday, 21 April 2014

Tortella the Half-Orc Acrobat

It's been a while since we've posted, so I'm gonna post what the peoples wants: more PCs! (we'll get back to actual monsters soon i'm really sorry).

So we're currently playing the Fangwood Keep campaign as run by Joe. When we came to lieutenant #2, Daigo Longtooth, Joe spun it so that he would face us on 1v1 combat. It the member of our chosen party (it was Fitz-Auk) defeated him, he would surrender. I managed to win with the help of a lot of disarm maneuvers. However, the rest of the party felt like it would've been cool if they'd had a chance for the 1v1.

So alongside the actual campaing, we're gonna be running a little tournament. Each one of us (eight in total), will submit a 7th-level character for a series of 1v1 matches on some custom maps. We're going to be using the duelling and performce rules from Ultimate Combat. It's all going to be quite exciting.

So my submission for the tournament will be Tortella, acrobat-on-sabbatical, a half-orc discovering what it means to be an orc by beating up things and taking their teeth. She actually uses the flowing monk archetype, because I felt that fit the character the best for what I wanted her to be. The whole monks must be lawful thing feels a bit more like a guideline to me anyway.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Angel of Decay

The Angel of Decay is not a true angel -- it's not any sort of extradimensional. Nor is it a true angel that has succumbed to some vicious corruption. The Angel of Decay is a physical manifestation of rot and gain nourishment from the decay of others. It's almost always in flight, but upon touching the ground, a pool of oozing putresence will form around it.

Sorry about the delay in updating. We've been quite busy and drained lately. But thanks to all of you who visit the site and to those who have purchased our book.

The Angel of Decay is a much more interesting creature that the original illustration led me to believe. In that image, the flesh of the angel seems to be dry and torn away from its bones in ragged strips. An while that's a valid way to potray an undead creature, it doesn't seem quite adequate for something symbolizing the decomposition of flesh. I ended up doing a fair bit of research on the spoilage of carcasses which is, needless to say, fascinating but gross. There are various stages to decomposition. First there's bloating as gases build up and various frothing liquids are expelled. Then the soft exposed tissues (eyes, mouth, wounds...) are consumed by insects -- a few videos I've watched had the heads of the experimental pig carcass dissolve into nothingness before there was much of a mark on the rest of the body. Then the body goops up until all the moisture leaves the body, and sometimes the stuff left after evaporation leaves a dark strain behind. Finally you have remaining dry tissue and bone. Decomposition changes according to the environment (see mummification).

So I decided to make the angel really goopy. The physical body of angel is in that state of decay where all the flesh is runny and blackened and being consumed by maggots. The angel's path is strewn with its own cast off rotting meat.

I also took inspiration from Biblical sources. I originally was looking as Pestilence of the Four Horsemen, but in the end I wanted to emphasize the angelic shape of the creature more. At the same time, I still wanted it to look alien and wrong. In the end I decided to make it look like a rotting seraphim. Seraphim were depicted as having six wings hiding the rest of the angel's body from view, save sometimes for a glimpse of the face, and covered in divine flame.

Thursday, 13 March 2014


The shirokinukatsukami (shiro-kinu-katsu-kami) are weird protective spirits from the world of sleep. It's a colourful combination of animals, as large as a tiger. Its long trunk and sharp claws are meant to catch and rend evil spirits and bad dreams.The creature's bizarre appearance may be a result of it being born of a surreal jumble of dreams. The shirokinukatsukami is a powerful guardian, possessing many protective and healing spells, and is capable of minor resurrections.

Even when invoked as a guardian, a shirokinu katsukami may not choose to fully reveal itself. It may appear riding on or in the form of dream mist, or simply appear to their ward as they sleep.

The shirokinukatsukami is D&D's version of the baku, a chinese and japanese folkloric creature. The creature's weird appearance may have been inspired by the tapir. Regardless of whether it's inspired by this animal or not, the actual Japanese word for tapir is baku and some modern representations of the baku show it as a tapir instead of a elephant-tiger hybrid.

The name shirokinukatsukami is a bit weird, when I don't really find any evidence of it being used as a name for the baku. But a little research into the name revealed that while not the true name of the creature, it actually has a kind of sweet poetry to it. People who speak Japanese may feel free to correct me on this, but I think that they name roughly translates to Victorious Spirit of the White Silk (the white silk probably being bedsheets.)

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Death Slaad

Slaadi are a strange race of quasi-amphibian creatures hailing from a bizarre dimension of constant flux known to humans as the Everchanging Chaos of Limbo.

Slaadi are well-known to come in several different varieties which function as castes in slaad society . The more commonly encountered red and blue slaads are the lowest forms, relying on brute force and bulk in combat. Above them sit the green slaads, essentially mutants, who are far less common and who make use of innate arcane powers to survive.

Green slaads that survive for more than a century undergo a curious transformation that remains highly mysterious to non-slaadi. They lose much of the pigment in their skin and a great deal of their bulk, whilst their magical abilities drastically increase in power. These so-called grey slaads are truly fearsome mages, and can prove difficult to deal with even for seasoned adventurers. However, some grey slaads choose to undergo a further, more sinister metamorphosis.

Nothing is known of the ritual that produces a death slaad. We may assume that the participants are willing - perhaps not. Perhaps all slaadi dread to eventually face it. Whatever dark magics are involved, the affected creature is changed utterly, becoming a single-minded entity of chaos and destruction. Death slaads are disciples of murder, pure and simple. They sit at the top of most slaad societies, relying on the (wholly credible) threat of violence to maintain their position.

I really like slaads, but I found this image really hard to work out! I won't bore you with the details but I went through a bunch of iterations. Slaads are just kind of featureless and froggy in most depictions, and it was tricky trying to work out a direction that I wanted to push it in.

The weird exposed gill-things on the shoulders & arms are inspired by the axolotl, bizarre, perpetually-juvenile salamanders that are (sadly) dying out in their natural environment. They have this weird, slightly gross quality to them which I like - like the death slaad ritual somehow provokes this strange evolution in the creature's body.

The "horns" are a cast-off from another idea I had about the death slaad ritual where the ritual involves giving the slaad this strange cordyceps-like fungal parasite which twists it further into this demented killer. I didn't want to make the creature look too "fungal" because I thought it might resemble the Verdant Prince, but I liked the wonky horns so I kept them.

Also I like how death slaads are more keen on melee combat, despite being spellcasters the whole rest of their lives. I like the idea that they got so advanced with magics that they can't even be bothered to do it anymore.

anyway, enjoy!

- joe

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Emerald Gemstone Golem

The gemstone golems are a set of constructs powered by an original magical jewel heart. Around this original gem the rest of the golem is shaped by the wizard into a humanoid shape. There are many types of golem and behave in an automated way, but gemstone golems will often ignore the orders of their creator to follow the innate magic of their gems. There are three known types of gemstone golem: diamond, ruby and emerald.

Emerald gemstone golems are curious, seeking to travel where they want. This innate desire towards freedom leads them to shirking the bodies that their wizard creators give them; all emerald gemstone golems for some reason will eventually become vaguely androgynous women.

The emerald gemstone golem is especially difficult to keep in one location. Twice a day, she will open up a gate that allows her to travel to near any location in the world. Even when the golem has stepped through, an emerald gate will remain behind from anywhere between a few seconds and a few hours

Monday, 10 February 2014

Storm Giant

Among the most powerful giants are the storm giants. They rise over other giants both magically and in stature, and even the weakest of this kind can easily set itself up as a local deity. All storms giants can call down lightning and manipulate the weather in any terrain, but prefer to lead isolated lives on mountains. Storms giants are (usually) a peaceful race, preferring lonely lives and silence. Worship is sometimes forced upon them, since nearby settlements of lesser creatures may give them offerings in exchange for bountiful weather.

The description of storm giants in the Monster Manual is a bit confusing to me. For example, they're generally green skinned, with some of them being purple. I guess storm clouds can turn a weird shade of yellow sometimes, but I haven't seen any green ones. Though with some research I've learned that there are greenish storm clouds -- usually ones that contain hail or will produce severed thunder or tornadoes. Storm giants also have water breathing, but they're neither aquatic creatures or live in an aquatic environment (they live in warm mountains). Maybe it's because of floods?

I know the storm giants of D&D are largely inspired by Greco-Roman and Scandinavian mythology, but I've gone for a more Eastern look with this. It's ripped off of inspired by a group of oni-like people from the game Okaminden who live in the cloud-city of Thundercloud, who wear tiger-patterned robes and skirts. By the way, I love the Okami games. They just so pretty.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Cadaver Collector

She had been born an age ago, and she could no longer remember her original purpose. It had changed so often - she found it easier to concentrate on the present. Life was simple. Pick the bodies up. Put them in the baskets. When the baskets are full, take them to the Pit. Start again. Simple. 

She knew the Master appreciated her work, although she would have continued to do it even if he didn't - she had been given a Command, a single compelling instruction, to keep working. Years ago, she remembered, she had found time to wonder what someone would even want with so many bodies, or (come to think of it) why so many bodies were just scattered about among the fields in the first place. But she had lived for so long, and she knew that such complicated thoughts led nowhere. So she concentrated on her work: pick the bodies up. Put them in the baskets. When the baskets are full, take them to the Pit. Start again.

Another of my favourite constructs for y'all. The Cadaver Collector is one of those monsters that actually seems sort of sweet, despite its connections with, y'know, cadavers. Referenced Howl's Moving Castle a lot here, as well as the steampunky robots in the Dinotopia series. I'm not actually that keen on steampunk as a design aesthetic (out of pure snobbery really - a LOT of people like it and it can get a bit style over substance) but it was fun to do something that leans in that direction. Check out the detail shot below, too (the linework stuff I've been doing lately seems to benefit from this).

ALSO I ran the first session of my campaign yesterday, and it seemed to go great! The party enjoyed planning out a freeform route to the actual dungeon (I drew a big map of the region on the table and they basically sat round and planned out exactly how they wanted to get there). They ended up going a way I didn't expect, which was cool. They beat up a group of hobgoblins & bugbears on the way (which an online CR calculator ASSURED me would be a fair fight but the bugbears got stomped. I guess CR calculators don't account for tactics?) and we worked out that the group halfling (an Inquisitor* named Wislo) actually has less STR than Fitz's pet crow.

After they got inside the Keep via a secret passage they had a pretty tense stealth section with the party uncovering a secret armoury. Eventually they ran into a sentry on the upper battlements who was looking out the other way, so our half-orc (a fighter/ninja** named Sev) decided to sneak up on him to take him out silently. Unfortunately for Sev, he rolled a natural 1 on his stealth check*** - an automatic fail - stubbing his foot on a stone and yelping in pain.

At this point the party is pretty screwed, because this guard has a signal horn and there are a good 30 or so soldiers nearby who will come running, completely scuppering the stealth element of the mission. Nevertheless, I roll a cursory perception check*** for the guard, to see what he hears. To everyone's surprise, I also roll a natural 1, also an automatic fail! The guard is somehow completely distracted by something to the extent that he doesn't hear the shout of a disgruntled half-orc not two paces behind him. This works out in Sev's favour and he successfully stealths the rest of the way up to the guard, sneak attacking him with a greataxe. Success! It was pretty cool.

We have our next session in about a month, so stay tuned for more updates. Next time I will take pictures!

- Joe


* Inquisitor is a base class in Pathfinder! They're sort of like paladins that don't mind getting their hands dirty. You can take it from level one, they get some pretty cool abilities in the cause of stomping HERESY.
** Ninja is an alternate class for Rogue in Pathfinder. They do a lot of the same stuff Rogues do but with a bigger focus on stealth plus some specific ninja-themed abilities (like creating clones to confuse the enemy).
*** One of the nicer little ways that Pathfinder streamlines the game process is by slightly simplifying skills. Spot and Listen are amalgamated into a single Perception check, and Hide and Move Silently are combined into Stealth. It's a small change, but one that really helps to untangle things.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Vos' Vipers

So, as I'm DMing a Pathfinder game right now I thought I'd make a little post of some of the material I made for the players. This is all based on the official Pathfinder campaign module Fangwood Keep, which I bought at the Orc's Nest in London a few weeks ago after reading a bunch of positive reviews for it online.

The campaign as written is a pretty simple affair designed to be a standalone, one or two session deal. I'm padding it out a bit, although we tend to go through stuff pretty slowly so I imagine it'll be around 3 or 4 sessions to finish. The story involves a pair of warring nations, Nirmathas and Molthune, and a disputed fort on their border, the eponymous Fangwood Keep. The way I'm fluffing it is that the two countries have achieved an uneasy peace, and as part of the treaty the tactically crucial Keep must be kept vacant by both sides.

This treaty is threatened when a rebellious Molthune captain named Pavo Vos disobeys orders and takes the keep by force, helped by the elite specialist infantry unit he once commanded in the army, known as "Vos' Vipers". The main thing I added here was Vos' three liutenants - pictured with him below - because when I read the description of his squad I was disappointed to learn that, despite the unit's description as a group of "specialist" soldiers excelling in espionage and covert military operations, there was remarkably little characterisation.

So, I added three underlings for Vos (replacing some other NPCs in the quest so the XP doesn't get knocked out too much), with the intention of fluffing them as a sort of rival NPC party for the players to duke it out with. They're highly specialised for different roles in combat, and each have a fair share of weird abilities and tricks that (hopefully, we haven't quite started the campaign yet) will keep the players guessing. I suppose a big influence of the flavour of this setup would be the Metal Gear Solid series of games - whose colourful cast of villains have always been favourites of mine.

I'll just post some quick descriptions for you guys, as it's possible the players might look at the blog and I don't want them to get spoiled! 
From left to right:
1. Wasily Grodz
A dwarvish marksman. Softly spoken, something of a perfectionist. Not keen on direct combat, prefers guerilla tactics and stealth. Fond of traps, be careful! 
2. Pavo Vos  
Unit captain and the leader of the insurrection. Highly charismatic and a master tactician, he orchestrated countless successful operations during the war. No slouch with a blade, either - particularly with two or three men at his back. His motives in the insurrection are unclear. Has been sighted accompanied by a robed, dark-haired woman of unknown identity. 
3. Daigo Longtooth  
Little is known of this mysterious half-orc (yep, he's a half-orc) swordsman. An unparalelled duelist. Has a kind-hearted reputation despite his skill in combat. 
4. Edouard Fleisch 
Fleisch is the unit's demolitions expert. Bloodthirsty and quick-tempered by all accounts, and apparently an enthusiastic pugilist to boot.

The gist of the game is that you have this fortified Keep, which the party has to infiltrate, with Vos inside. The PCs have to get in, neutralise him, and get out. The entire keep is mapped out with set things in every room - it's largely up to the PCs to decide how they want to approach the problem. Scale the walls? Find a secret passage? Stealth vs. kick-down-the-door-guns-blazing? It's an idea that appeals to me, kind of blending your standard dungeon crawler with something a bit more sandboxy. It's by no means all combat, either - there are definitely opportunities to talk your way in or out of things.

I'm also using a computer to keep track of everything - I'm making a gigantic, layered map in a program called Adobe Flash (which we use for animating all the time) and it's quite easy for me to set up a big document containing everything - rooms, items, enemy locations - it even has a day/night cycle! it looks cool, too.

I won't reveal any more now, but we're playing the first session next weekend. In subsequent posts I'll let you know how people are getting on, and hopefully post pictures! I kinda hope I kill at least one person :3

Let me know in the comments if you've played this campaign, too. Or if you have any funny DMing experiences - I'm completely new to this, and slightly nervous, so it all helps!

- Joe

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Fitz-Auk and Morse the raven

Sometimes mistaken for an orc, hobgoblin or especially unfortunate half-elf, Fitz-Auk is actually a full-blooded human, but quite ugly.

This is my latest character for the next campaign I'm playing, this one being DM'd by Joe, the other contributor to the site. Unlike Spackle and Jammy, Fitz-Auk will be playing a more active role in combat, rather than just hovering in the background shouting encouragement or giving people special enlargement chocolate chip cookies. Not that he won't have his own out-of-combat role. I chose some rules that mean that, despite being a ranger,  Fitz-Auk will be able to take on the rogue role of finding and disarming traps we'll be coming across.

Also doing some fiddling with class options, I got myself a raven that's smarter than the average raven. Used my 4th HD ability point to give her 3 Intelligence. Officially sentient raven. Put a skill point in Linguistics because I don't care if she's got like -3 on her Linguistics check. That's just how I roll, babe.

Hoping that I'll be playing the raven a little like Alex the African Grey parrot, though he was probably 5 Int.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Verdant Prince

Verdant Princes are wily fey creatures who use guileful magic to manipulate themselves into positions of power. Uniquely, however, a Verdant Prince is endowed with the ability to swear a magical oath or geas (which it will typically engineer in its own favour) which compels a certain bargain to be kept. Both parties are affected by the spell equally - if the oath is broken, or someone fails to keep the agreement, the offending party suffers a hideous curse, wasting both body and mind, only ending when the target dies. Verdant Princes appear to use this ability generously, even wantonly, but they are nearly always acting out of self-interest, and remember that whenever one offers you something that seems too good to be true, it probably is.

I'm pretty fond of Faustian pacts in fiction and Verdant Princes provide a great example of this within the D&D system. The person to break the deal sustains a horrifying -6 penalty to all ability scores until the oath is somehow restored, and their "partner" is magically made constantly aware of the oathbreaker's whereabouts for the duration (you're looking at a Wish or Miracle to circumvent this, it's strong stuff). The lure is always there for a wily PC to engage the Prince in a Death Note-style battle of wits and bluffing, and if you come out on top you know you've got a pretty powerful fairy spirit under your thumb. But expect treachery from both creature and DM, as these things tend to end badly for the greedy. Oh well! You know what they say: "Lente, lente, curritae noctis equi!" Aheh... huh.

Check out the full-size image and this detail version, I think it looks way better than the smaller thumbnail. The shape of the horns where they meet the head reminds me of Midna, and I think I ripped this guy off subconsciously from a Dota2 character. Whoops! gg vevlo

Friday, 10 January 2014

Shimmerling Swarm

An individual shimmerling in a fairly unintelligent, harmless creature. Heck, a shimmerling swarm is a fairly unintelligent, harmless conglomeration of creatures.

Unless they're angry.

At first, the shimmerling swarm seems to be a cloud of pulsating rainbow light that can just about be seen between the trees. The light is strangely alluring. Hypnotic even. And it's not until you find yourself envelopped by that bright blinding light that you feel the sickening hum of vibrating insects wings and the splintery pain of tiny teeth and fingers biting any inch of exposed flesh they can find.

Fortunately, the shimmerlings primarily subsist on pollen. Which is yet another reason to leave the forest alone.

Here is my New Years-themed image, though perhaps you could say its more a wintery, Christmasy kind of image. Inspired by the fireworks, fairy lights (eh? eh?) and wrapping paper. I tried by hand at a tessellating pattern, a la Escher. Needless to say, it's not quite as seamless at the Escher ones, but it'll do.

When I think of the shimmerling swarms, the image that mostly comes to mind is the fairies from Disney's Fantasia, the ones that perform a part of the Nutcracker suite while putting dew on flowers, turning leaves orange and freezing water. Albeit the shimmerlings as statted are probably little more than fairy-shaped bees.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014


Some rare spells are of such power that they are legendary among spellcasters - spells that have the potential to alter the very structure of the universe, such as the infamous Wish.

Quaruts are Inevitables - mechanised beings from the lawful plane of Mechanus which are tasked with the upholding of natural order - and are among the most powerful even of these. Within their custody lie all such magicks that might meddle with space and time - their objective is to hunt down such spellcasters that use them and restore a relative balance to the universe.

Quaruts are some heavy stuff, clocking in at CR 17 - meaning you're getting close to epic level in order to take them on. And with good reason - despite their desire to eradicate all manipulators of space and time, they themselves have no qualms about chucking about spell-like-abilities like Time Stop and Limited Wish. The former allows it to literally stop time locally for a few turns (giving it ample room to imprison you safely in a pocket dimension) and the latter allows it access to literally any spell of up to 6th caster level. The lesson here is: don't mess with spacetime, kids!

We always like to put up holiday-themed monsters, but some of them are pretty hard to figure out an appropriate creature for. Blanca made a big list of potential "New Yearsy" beasts, and then we picked two that we liked and did those. I haven't drawn an Inevitable in ages, which is surprising because I really like 'em. The clock motifs in this one are a little hammy and I nicked the eyes from Sahaquiel of Evangelion and Senketsu from Kill La Kill. Man, I enjoy Kill La Kill! Literal guilty pleasure but there are very few animes around with such artistic class to them (outside of the boob's 'n' butts).

Also this being almost two weeks into the new year is my fault.