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Monday, 28 December 2015

Frostwind Virago

This year's Winter-themed creature and the last image of 2015.

The frostwind virago is one of those high-end fey that you really really don't want to run into. She is the anthropomorphic representation of the beauty, danger and caprice of winter. They live in cold mountains, though will travel is the cold weather permits it. Their favourite passtime is enthralling warm-blooded creatures to torture with their frost magic until the unfortunate victim freezes to death. Even those who aren't charmed by the virago's magic or are immune to the ice she summons, she can exert a strange mental torture on them. Those near enough to the virago feel their minds seize up and slow as if that is freezing over.

Ah, the return to the frosty woman. This is a theme I've visited a few times before, namely the snow weird and ice weird. For those images I focused pretty much entirely on snowflakes, frost and ice as my visual themes. And it's still present in the frostwind virago, but this time I permitted myself to look outside that for inspiration. The main inspiration behind this image is actually the snowy owl (Hedgewig, for those of you who remember Harry Potter). I went a little bit off script with the virago too. The description makes a big deal out of her having blue eyes, but she's already so blue and I wanted to give her yellow owl eyes. She also doesn't have horns, but I wanted her to be kind of a companion piece to the verdant prince.

Interesting etymology behind the word "virago". It's one of those words whose name has gotten twisted over time. It used to mean "strong-spirited woman", but now it means "loud-mouthed, stubborn bitch". Kinda like how the word "hussy" used to mean "good housewife who takes care of her man and her kids" became "filthy slut who wrecks marriages for fun". Funny how history finds a way to turn positive words into negative ones, isn't it.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Shadow Giant

The shadow giant is the second most powerful of the true giants (the most powerful being the mountain giant). While these creatures are in possession of the strength common to their kind, the source of their power comes both from the uncanny way they just know how to kill and the close relationship they have with darkness. Shadow giants are assassins, the kind you may send to take out a dragon or demon with a death attack when the crash and bang of ordinary adventurers just won't do. These giants are also masters of shadow, being able to weave them into all sorts of creatures and weapon and dark imitations of incredibly powerful of spells. If a shadow giant can't kill you, it may imprison you in a gem for all eternity.

Honestly, when I read the entry for the shadow giant I found it a bit silly. A giant with a death attack? Seems a bit overkill when a single punch will probably kill smaller creatures. Sneak attack, weakness to light, so on. Let's see what the spell-like abilities are. Deeper darkness and blur are pretty okay, shadow walk fits with the theme. It's got shadow evocation and... shades? Wait, it has shades as an at-will ability? As in able to cast an 8th level or lower conjuration (summoning or creation) spell every turn for free? At will?

So it's that last bit that I think makes the shadow giant hardcore. Granted, shades may not work on those who realize that whatever spell it's copying isn't the actual real spell, but even then it has an 80% success rate.

So if I were a DM using a shadow giant I would just have it copy the trap the soul spell ad nauseum until the whole party is trapped in gems. Then I would make a tasteful necklace out of their trapped souls.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015


The rhek are a race of rhino-men who help maintain order in the plane of the Peaceable Kingdoms of Arcadia. They're one of the races that make up the Harmonium, a militant sect that enforces lawful goodness through violence. Seems a bit of a contradiction, but that's what paladins do, really. The Harmonium seeks to create a dictatorship of goodness, where those who adhere to their ideals are guaranteed peaceful, prosperous lives. It's supposed to be of those philosophical questions about order and goodness at the cost of freedom. Can we truly call ourselves good if we don't have the option to be evil? At what point does governing and eforcing cross over into tyranny?

Honestly, the idea of the Harmonium (who also served as the police force in the inter-dimensional city of Sigil) is a bit more interesting that the rhek themselves. Though you can see how they would make good enforcers of the law, since they have abilities that let them detect and smite chaotic creatures. They also seem to share one trait with the krogan from the Mass Effect games: redundant organs. This translates into rhek basically continuing to fight until they are stone dead.