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Saturday, 31 October 2015

Happy Halloween! Brain in a Jar

The brain in a jar is considered an undead creature. I guess the process that involves yanking a brain out of someone's noggin and sticking it in a goopy container will kill the brain at some point. Temporarily at least. The brain is a good deal more potent in the jar than in the head, since the alchemical whatsits gives it some psychic juju to mess around with. It can communicate telepathically, implant suggestions, squeeze minds and float itself and its container around. It isn't that happy about its situation though, and anybody who tries to read the brain's mind will share its madness (Wisdom drain, yo).

Honestly, I find the fact that it has a fly speed a little disappointing. I really dig the idea of this seemingly inanimate object hidden somewhere in the room that's dealing damage. Or what if you have a whole room filled with these fellas, all dealing 2d10 damage in one go. I think that sounds neat.

This seems like a considerably less powerful version of the elder brain and the demilich, to make things accessible to low-level characters.

My favourite "brain in a jar" story is a certain Lovecraft tale. Roald Dahl also wrote a short story ("William and Mary") with an extracted sentient brain that was also quite unpleasant.

Happy Halloween, peeps.

Sunday, 25 October 2015


Homonculi are the messengers and spies of those who wish to remain unnoticed (or at least inconspicuous). Made by wizards either for their own purposes or else to be sold to others, the tiny artificial creatures can be made from any number of materials as required, and can vary wildly in their appearance depending on the task they have been built for. One thing, however, that unites construction of all homonculi is that they require a generous portion of the creator's blood.

"Homonculus" is a pretty broad term in pop culture, commonly used to mean a sort of golem or constructed servant but with plenty of flavourful variations. One particularly wacky take that comes to mind is in Full Metal Alchemist, where homonculi are near-immortal, super-powerful (but otherwise human-passing) created beings that fill out a good portion of the main cast. The D&D version is closer to the real-life history of the term (which is a pretty fascinating wikipedia read) and I think I prefer it.

Sunday, 18 October 2015


The bisan is a jungle dryad, specifically the dryad of camphor trees. But this chick's more dangerous than your run of the mill dryad. While other tree nymphs with wrap you up with roots, charm you into pretty please don't cut down my tree, and then stab you some, the bisan will wake up the trees around her to beat you up. Then she'll turn into a wasp and sting the holy bazoozoos out of you. That's what you get.

The bisan, like the bajang, is a Malaysian spirit. Walter William Skeat talks about it briefly in Malay Magic (I should really buy that book), where you get like maybe two pages of info. Plenty of elbow room for Wizards to transform a cicada spirit that's maybe female into a sexy lady who is also a wasp. Honestly, if I lived in a jungle where you got super loud cicadas with wingspans of up to 20cm I would totally say that's a spirit and make it some offerings so it doesn't attack me.

Monday, 12 October 2015


The Basilisk is a large, serpentine lizard most famous for its petrifying gaze, which it uses to hunt. Dwelling in warm deserts, it preys on small mammals, birds and reptiles, which it turns to stone before eating, digesting the petrified meat with a softening agent in its stomach. In addition to being an aid in hunting, turning its food to stone has the added benefit of staving off desert scavengers - basilisk lairs are commonly filled with what appear to be statues, in reality functioning as something larders, "preserving" the petrified meat for the basilisk to return to.

Despite their fearsome ability and carniverous nature, basilisks are sluggish and cautious, generally preferring smaller, easier quarry over humans. If an adventurer finds herself in a basilisk den, a reliable option is simply to run,  as despite its many legs, basilisks are actually quite slow on their feet and will usually give up after a short chase.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Flagella, Orcish Thug (Half-Orc Ranger)

Flagella is an orc ne'er do well, criminal, hired muscle, etc to be my next character in the campaign Joe is running. I struggled for a bit with coming up with a character. I originally wanted to do an undine fighter, basing her a bit off Morphling from DOTA 2, but it was eventually decided to stick to a more ordinary race. Technically I'm using the half-orc race, but for flavour purposes she's to be treated as a full-blooded orc that for some reason doesn't squint really hard in sunlight.

Also she's Tortella's mother. And should she die in this campaign, well then a Flagella in an alternate timeline goes on to join the circus as a lion tamer.

Tried out Manga Studio / Clip Studio Paint for this drawing. Normally I use Photoshop, but there was a deal to get Manga Studio for crazy cheapsies, so I got it. Currently suffering from shortcut muscle memory, so I ended up selecting the wrong brush / pen a lot while drawing this. I've not used it enough to decide whether I like it better than Photoshop or not yet.

Also looked up a bunch of images of fighting injuries for Flagella because I wanted her to look like she gets into fights ofter. One thing learned in never punch a person in the mouth because that's a fast way to get an infection.

Flagella was also really fun to draw because muscles. I usually draw my characters "naked" so make it easier to figure out how the clothes, and end up doing a lot of quite nice muscle and anatomy that doesn't get seen in the end. Also there's a disappointing amount of sexy orc ladies out there, by which I mean there's way too many. Orcs are supposed to be horrible big muscly things, like shaved green gorillas, but the females are always just vaguely buff (if that) green ladies with maybe tusks and a battleaxe. No. Orc ladies should be as horrible to look at as orc fellas. You don't have enough sexy ladies in fantasy that you can't let any of them be musclebound juggernauts? And real musclebound juggernauts, not She-Hulk. The closest thing to an appropriate female orc I've seen is in the lineup of races in 3.5 D&D. Now that's an orc-y lady.

Now with art process!