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Sunday, 26 April 2015

Manticore


Manticores are large, roughly leonine beasts that can be found in the hotter lands of the material plane. Possessing intelligence near that of an average human, they are far more cunning and cruel than other carnivorous animals. sThey spend most days hunting for food, which they relish in both killing and eating with the aid of their claws, toothed maw and barbed tail.

Also capable of human speech, manticores are sometimes mistaken for the usually better-natured sphinxes (with their human-featured heads and cat-bodies) - an error which is swiftly regretted.

Another monster with its roots in classical mythology, the manticore was one of my favourites as a child. It's typically depicted with a scorpion's sting in its tail (a trope I chose to sidestep just for the sake of trying something different) and as a long-time fan of bugs and insects I always sorta liked that little concession to monstrousness in an otherwise pretty mundane animal.

I know the head I have it is pretty weird, but I quite like how videogamey it looks. In hindsight I think I was channeling the bull charger from Okami.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Lamia


The Lamia are a race of vaguely leonine centaurs which inhabit deserts. They are also fond of human flesh. The human half of the Lamia are exceptionally attractive. Well, possibly. Lamia are illusionists and charmers, capable of taking on human guise. Their touch also has a stupefying effect, making the effects of their spells all that more effective.

The illustration of the Lamia in the Monster Manual always kinda bothered me because everybody knows Lamia are snake-women duh Wizards. Well turns out the duh may be a bit on me. Doing a bit of research of the monster actually revelead a few things. For starters, there are numerous interpretations of what the Lamia looked like, among which is a woman who is a snake from the waist down. But it seems like the D&D Lamia was inspired by the Lamia from Topsell's The History of Four-Footed Beasts, a 17th century book, though that illustration may have been inspired by an even earlier one. Helps make it a bit different from Medusa and Naga.

The Greek myth of the Lamia is actually a somewhat interesting and confused one. The bare bones is Lamia is a Lybian princess who has the misfortune of catching Zeus' eye. She gives birth to babies, Hera kills her babies (and makes Lamia eat them), and Lamia is driven mad by grief and rage. She feels compelled to steal children and devour them. At some point she turns into a monster, the physical appearance of which is left vague. Also she can't close her eyes, but is able to remove them from her head. From that point on she tends to get mythologically confused with drakainae (female dragons), and empusa and lamaie (succubi and vampires). The Greek gods were jerks.

So the Lamia is one of many monsters seen worldwide throughout folklore: that of a woman who loses/kills/eats her children and goes to do the same to other children. La Llorona seems like the most modern version of that archetype, though I wouldn't be surprised if there were urban legends that followed a similar narrative pattern.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Cockatrice


The Cockatrice, despite being on the small side and having little physical strength, can be a dangerous creature to contend with for even seasoned adventurers. Around the size of a small pony, it can attack with its claws and beak with some ferocity if angered. More problematic by far, though, is its magical gaze, which can instantly turn the recipient to stone.

The Cockatrice would doubtless be a less famed creature if not for this ability. Its body, an absurd amalgam of drake and cockerel, poses little threat to a well-armoured combatant, and its intelligence is animalian. But the Cockatrice is relatively common, and can be found in small flocks in many parts of the material plane, and where they do congregate near human habitation, they can pose something of a serious problem.

Hey! Joe here, haven't posted in a while (maybe a year now?) but I'm making a concerted effort to get back into the swing of things. Honestly I've started and left unfinished about four drawings for the blog since my last post, but for some reason I developed a really sheer artistic block about D'n'D and couldn't finish anything at all. It sucked! Obviously Blanca's incredible for keeping everything going for so long, with my various hiatuses I think the blog's success definitely owes more to her ability and resilience than anything. So thankyou Blanca! yaaaay

but yeah, hope you like my Cockatrice. Chickens are great fun to find reference images of, particularly the big fluffy fat-looking ones. For pop-culture depictions of Cockatrices the ones in FFXII are some of my favourites!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Phase Wasp

Though with a name similar to the Phase Spider, the Phase Wasp is called as such not because it can travel between dimensions, but because it can attack between dimensions. Your ordinary Phase Wasp is a creature of the Material Plane, a magical insect about a foot long (yikes), but without the venom that ordinary wasps have. Instead, their stinger shoots bolts of force, as per the magic missile spell, which allows it to hit creatures whose bodies are in the planes which are overlaid over the material. The wasp also has the natural ability to see invisible creatures which, again, helps it defend itself against etheral creatures.

The source of the Phase Wasps' magical powers are not explained, but I have my own theories. Like ordinary wasps, these dudes make their nests out of chewed wood pulp and paper. They have a special fondness for making them out of the papers of spell books, which makes a Phase Wasp infestation especially bothersome for mages.

So my theory is that Phase Wasps at some point in the past were ordinary wasps just looking for materials for their nests. A couple of conveniently available magical libraries you have a new breed of giant magical super-wasps. Thanks a lot, wizards.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Spirit of Air

The Spirit of Air inhabit windy cliffs, barren mountain tops and stormy forests. Though their name would imply otherwise, the Spirits of Air aren't heavenly creature, but the earthly servants of the divinities who have power over the winds and tempests. The Spirits are aware of their position in this hierarchy and their simian influence means that they're not above trickery over lowly mortals. The Spirits are easily offended, which is a bad thing when they have the ability to turn themselves into whirlwinds. Just be humble when you spot them and maybe you'll be okay.

 This is one of those creatures that I always skipped over when leafing through the books to find something to draw. Mostly because it's a stupid yellow monkey with stupid bat wings. But the dice demanded I draw this guy so I did.

And so it turns out Spirits of the Air are actually quite cool. Their spells leave something to be desired but they're suggestions rather than something written in stone. Their spell-like abilities are better (call lightging all day, erry day), and their ability to transform from weird bat-monkey into a tornardo is pretty dang cool.

Also these are Large creatures (10ft wingspan), which I didn't feel the illustration in the book communicated very well, especially when you think of winged monkey you think of those dudes from The Wizard of Oz. I think I did okay making this guy look bit, even if he's turned out a bit draconic. Also had a struggle a bit to not make him look like Momo from Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Hammer Archon


I suppose agents of heavenly interventions technically aren't supposed to have preferences over who they ally themselves with (other than the ally also being good). But dwarves and gnomes and such just have a greater appreciation for the Hammer Archon's physical makeup and direct approach to problem-solving.

The Hammer Archon is essentially what you get when you get yourself an Earth Elemental and give it a sense of righteous purpose. And a hammer (non-negotiable, comes with the job). As you can tell from those images, I like me some banded gemstones, the Archon being inspired by purple agate. Malachite is still the prettiest stone, yo.

Have been finding it a little difficult lately to pick a creature from the books lately. The Ghosteater was selected by Joe, who got rid of all mentions of the name and the illustration. That makes us rely only on the description of the creature without being influenced by other artwork. But I can't make him do that every week, so this creature was randomly selected using the dice-roller at Rolz. Most other rollers are a bit limited, sticking to the more common dice types (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d100, so on), but Rolz lets you input d-whatever, which is plenty useful. First a d77 for a random books, then another d-whatever depending on how many creatures the book has.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Ghosteater


The Ghosteater is a fairly benign creature, an incorporeal who feeds on other incorporeals. It's kind of obvious.

In the City of Manifest, they can be a bit of a problem.

In the Ghostwalk campaign there's a special city and surrounding area where life and death have a grey area in between, the City of Manifest and the Spirit Wood, which lie over the Veil of Souls (a weak point in the barrier between Life and Death). Due to interplanar shenanigans, loss of a body doesn't mean your soul has to cross over right away. In fact, anyone who dies in this area can choose to either move on or stay in the Material Plane as a ghost, though they will eventually find themselves drawn to the Other Side.

What I'm saying is that Manifest has a lot of ghosts living and working and generally being functional members of society. Having a Ghosteater running around is like having a tiger running around in a regular city of people made of tasty meat.

The Ghosteater is only ever aggressive to ghosts and ignores corporeal creatures. It has growths on its back, something like sacks or boils, that can exude tentacles to grab ghosts. This is very mentally draining for the ghost and when incapacitated, the ghost is aborbed into the growth, where it's digested. Maybe you can call this digestions a True Death, since when the soul is gone there's just no more existence.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Phiuhl


Not a true elemental, but what happens when one is killed and has its soul warped. The Phiuhl is a column of hot toxic vapours, often found the Bleak Eternity of Gehenna, the volcanic plane of evil and home of yugoloths.

Being a gaseous cloud, the Phiuhl is without true shape, though some who look into it claim to see faces of misery and sadism. The touch of this creature will leave burns, but this is among the weakest of its abilities. What's worse is to be trapped within the gas of the Phiuhl. As said before, it is extremly toxic, so the Phiuhl merely needs to casually hover around its victim for it to die within minutes.

I know that this creature's probably supposed to be some sort of physical embodiment of volcanic gases, but its description of being green and purple throws me off. Combine that with it gives off poisonous heat, I can only come up with one conclusion.

The Phiuhl is the radiation elemental.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Renata Dramatata, Human Sorceress


The current campaign we're playing is an evil campaign. Though we've played campaigns where some of the players have had evil-aligned characters, the goals were always your fairly usual save the world heroic business. This is the first campaign we've played where we're terrible characters doing terrible thing.

The campaign is that we're initiates into an assassins' guild. It's meant to be a mission-based episodic thing rather than an outright full-blown story (for now? Maybe the DMs have something planned for later). There's definitely some Assassin's Creed and Dishonored vibe to it, especially the latter, since it takes place more in a Renaissance-y setting rather than an outright Medieval one. Our missions are supposed to have an investigative, social and stealthy element to it as we scope out our targets rather than just charging in and killing. Which is fairly unusual for a fairly hack and slashy game.

Needless to say, we goofed up pretty bad on our first mission (we were trying to kill a mob moss). Not enough reconnaissance coupled with bad rolls (several 1s came up when making especially important sneak attacks and subsequent attempts to escape). Let's hope the next one goes better.

Renata is an actress fallen on hard times. Maybe back in the day in some other city she was well-known, but her haughty attitude and desire to live the high life have left her a bit desperate for cash.   Renata is designed to be an infiltrator rather than an outright killer (she's not going to get her hands and clothes bloody, ew), though still with a sociopathic bent. If assassins are going to kill someone, she may as well get in on the action. Sophisticated dinners and fancy clothes aren't just gonna buy themselves.

I also wanted to make a vaguely bardy character without actually making a bard. I wanted to focus on magically influencing others through enchantments and fooling others with illusions. I ended up going for the Rakshasa bloodline for Sorcerer, for bonuses to Bluff and bonus mind-reading.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Shaedling

Shaedlings are to pixies what drow are to elves. When back when those elves who would become drow split away to follow Lolth the Queen of the Demonweb Pits, so did some pixies, and they too got "blessings" for their loyalty. Fey being closer to the primality of nature, Lolth's gifts are closer to her spidery nature.

A shaedling is much larger than a pixie, who never break the three-foot mark, and are almost as tall as humans when standing straight. Their stomachs are grotesquely distended and filled with silk made of shadow-stuff, called shadow gossamer. The gossamer are is drawn and quickly woven into a small object, normally a weapon or armour, which is of extreme lightness and masterful craftwork. These objects are inherently linked to the shaedling, and will dissolve after a few seconds upon being relinquished.

This was interesting to draw, though I found it a bit difficult to pose the shaedling in a way that was dynamic. It still isn't dynamic, but I like it more now than I did when I first started sketching it. I don't much care for drawing wings, despite how many of the things I've done have them (it is a standard fantasy trait). I did enjoy trying to figure out a way to draw the patterns on a dragonfly wing in a way that wouldn't overcomplicate the image.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Leskylor


Leskylor are among the natural fauna of the Blessed Fields of Elysium, making their homes in the caves nestled in wind-shorn peaks. Leskylor are prone to a particular type of mutation, that of multiple heads. Up to three-headed Leskylor have been spotted by dimensional travellers in Elysium. Which of course makes them all the more dangerous, as even a one-headed Leskylor is able to breathe out cones of bitter cold. These blue winged tigers are as independent as their ordinary mortal cousins, but vastly more intelligent and a useful ally against the forces of evil. They have a number of heavenly abilities which let them unearth any hidden evil-doers and move them to (temporary) repentance.

If I'm honest, I just wanted to draw a fat tiger, really.

Also, we've (finally) purchased a copy of the 5th Edition D&D Player's Handbook, and while it's really simplified down, it does still seem appealing to me. Especially the artwork. The art's crazy gorgeous in this book. A big reason why I didn't get into 4e D&D is just the artwork in the Player's Handbook was not really my cup of tea. Maybe it improved in future books, but I wouldn't know. Let me tell you though, if they release the Dark Sun setting for 5e, I will definitely definitely be running some of that.

We play mostly Pathfinder in our group, though I do want to branch out into other systems. We've already experimented with the Savage Worlds' Deadlands: Reloaded setting (mixed results, but I really like the setting), and the next time I get to DM, I'm running a Call of Cthulhu game. Although it just illustrates my luck that I go out an purchase the 6th Edition Call of Cthulhu handbook when 7th Edition is about to come out and is apparently the one that's making the most changes to the actual rules of the game. Have also been eyeing with some interest Legend of the Five Rings, Numenera, The Strange and Nobilis. Must hold off though, as I have limited time to play and also limited shelves to put books on. And pdfs are nowhere as nice as material books.

Anyway as I was saying, 5e Dark Sun plz.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Mimic



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.