Archive for category Artwork

Iswann “The Bastard”: Character Artwork in Progress.

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Here is the current state of my character concept sketch for Iswann “The Bastard”. It’s worth noting that his so-called nickname is in fact the closest translation of his Kutanese title, rather than some insult to his family status.

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Dr Carom: The Developing Artwork.

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The Gnomish Inventor: Markoni

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Take a Gander at Felicity ‘Flick’ Sparrow: Character Portrait

Flick Sparrow, Hedge Witch of the Lakes of Pleeiea.

Evening all. I trust you are keeping well. The player behind Felicity ‘Flick’ Sparrow, asked me to have a crack at a character portrait for his Hedge Witch from the Lakes of Pleeiea. So here’s Flick the youthful Hedge Witch. A Hedge Witch, in case you are wondering, is the term applied to ‘witches of the hedgerow’. They are rural village types, with local knowledge, typically skilled also with animals, tracking, nature, weathercraft, foraging and similar. They are ‘wise women’, sort out in times of trouble, when there is illness in the family or when fortunes need telling. Flick is training at the college of Ulris the White, and is a companion of Amberrh of the Cold Wastes and Tillie the Marshlander.

Flick is a hardy type hailing as she does from the Lakes of Pleeiea. She knows how to set a fire, skin and cook a coney, spring a trap and those basic skills Lakelanders rely on day in, day out. Not the sorts of the things the city slicker of a Lankhmarian would be able to turn their hand to if cast out into the wildlands beyond the city of Thieves. I’ve depicted Flick complete with her arcane staff of power (note the curious symbols carved into it). She’s decked out in her all weather head wear. (Yup a pointed hat). This is an acrylic painting on watercolour board and is postcard sized.

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Using Gaming Props – Making a Phial of Magic Potion

A small phial of some alchemical solution.

Game Props – Making a Phial of Magic Potion.

I love using small props in any kind of game I’m DMing. Here’s a little something I put together today that I’ll drop into a future game. I’m planning on making quite a few of these over time as I collect suitable vessels. Keep an eye on the stuff you would otherwise chuck out or recycle – it could turn out to be something you can modify for a game. Little notebooks make excellent diaries to be found or spellbooks.

What is this draft?

I like to use stuff the players can really interact with. I recently used up a small plastic bottle which had some vanilla essence and had a screw cap. It looked just right for an alchemical phial of potion so I tucked it away.

It was then a relatively simple job to saw off the top part of the bottle – where the screw cap went to get rid of the ridges. I then simply stuck on some pretty robust thick paper labels. Then some judicious painting using acrylics, and also using glue. The clear plastic then suffered at the hands of an emery board (or sand-paper if you have that, but emery boards are ace tools for gamers). It also suffered from the little coping saw I used and from a craft knife to scuff it and age it.  And there’s nothing like some dirt and dust to age things – no cost there. I made a cork by trimming down a wine cork to stop up the bottle. The label is enscribed by the potion’s creator but so aged and worn that it’s tough to read what it says – so some identifying work will be needed by the player. So nice when they suss this out by looking at your prop rather than having to describe it to them!

I will then have the phial filled with a brightly coloured, possibly alcoholic shot drink, and tucked in a fridge at the game. At the right point when someone in the game finds the phial of potion (or buys it or whatever) it will come out and they will just get handed the prop. If and when their character actually uses the potion – the player has to drink it for real – so make sure the inside of your prop is hygienic and the drink is safe! At the moment it is filled with jagermeister – but I suspect I will top it up with something even more vivid for the actual game :).

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Playing Other Species and Peppering your Role-playing with Humour

A Challenge of DM-ing – Playing All Those Roles.

As a DM you get to populate your game world wherever that may be.  So when it comes to those ‘other people’ you know those who aren’t played by the player, um the player characters, – yep I know, bear with – then it’s played by you.  No-one else, is going to be doing it for you – unless you do as I do and get in the odd ‘guest star’ player for big roles sometimes (or bands of monsters in some cases – which is a fun thing to do, and I recommend getting another DM to do that for you in your game once in a while and see how much fun it is). So,  that means you have to be able to portray almost anything that can turn up in your game world. At the same time you are setting the scene, co-creating the mood, making time move on or slow down, rewinding moments when things don’t go as they should (and trying to avoid rewinds), making rule calls as needed, jogging players along when they are flagging and one hell of a lot of book-keeping usually. So you are busy when you are a DM. Bearing all this in mind – how do you player other species – those non-human ones and make them – umm, non-human?

Hartley the Troll, Brother of Riffkin

Fantasy DM’s (and do you know I’m thinking an alternative meaning for ‘DM’ could be ‘Drama Master, or Drama Maker’ – puns intended) have to be ready to play a necrotic zombie one minute and a familiar mouse the next. By this I don’t mean a mouse you know well, I mean one that some wizard or other has imbued with talents, abilities and spell-bound gifts. So it could be a talking familiar mouse – and that’s not an easy thing to portray convincingly if you are a newbie/novice DM. So – how do you get a group to go with the flow when you are trying out other species on them and retain the ‘wonder’ or believability of your roleplaying when what you are playing is radically ‘not you’ by a long stretch of the imagination? Here’s how.

Pointers for Getting Your Non-Humans – erm – Non-Human!

Confidence is key. If people titter at your portrayal – let them. Keep your portrayal as is. Get physical with your portrayal. If it is a familiar mouse get ‘itty bitty’ with your finges, hunch, be small, make your eyes beady if you can. Anything to get you to believe you are, for that moment, a mouse. So a bit of ‘method’ type acting within reason. Physical portrayal can help you feel more like the character you are playing. Keep your act going no matter what – be undeterred by negative reactions – or make a joke to lighten the mood if you are getting over-hammy.

Use Humour, be Playful.

This can make the tension lighter if you go for light relief if a serious attempt at playing a squeaky familiar mouse is bombing out. Comedy as a DM is a crucial element both of keeping a group interested and attention captured and being light-hearted about the roles you play. Hence I have legends evolving in my game such as that of the Warrior Poet Lord Brandreth of Hakesmere.

Lord Sir Gyles Brandreth of Hakesmere

So far, the players have encountered only his statue/fountain in the Conglomeration Square where the Cracked Head squats. Yep – do a re-read – that’s Gyles Brandreth. If you didn’t get that – better do a quick search in another tab of your browser and you’ll hopefully see where the humour lies in that.

If you have a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude, especially when it comes to your own ego, then you are more likely to be convincing in your portrayal. A little nerves is fine, it’s ok to be anxious especially with new players, new games, new roles, and you can use this as fuel. If you ain’t a teeny bit nervous then you probably have little passion or emotion behind your DM-ing. And you must have that. Conveying emotion is key to believability of playing roles. Otherwise it is just flat words grinding out and that’s DULL. Apologies for the thudding shout, but hey.

So to summarise the tips – get physical, ignore titters, go for light relief/comedy if it’s really panning, have a nothing to lose attitude, believe in yourself, practice in the mirror. Just some basic bits of advice to novice DM’s for crafting believable played DM characters in your world. Further notes include -vary your portrayal of your DMC’s – adopt different accents and voices – pitch, tone, timbre. Take a theatre class or drama class – can really help. Pace things differently. Pauses can be as good as a gabble of words. Use your whole body to act with.

Riffing Riffkin the Trollkin.

I played a little bit of a Trollkin character – Riffkin – in the session the other day (yup – that post is coming up I have it laying about somewhere!). He is a child troll really – a kid by their standards. So he’s only about 7-8 foot tall, and can still get into human pubs. I had him loom. I described the shadow he cast over the table. I described the ‘tang’ of his body odour and how acrid it was. I leered over the table at the player. I adopted a bit of a gruff tone, and played him a little dumb, but not stereotypically dumb. He used colloquial words. I acted physically for him – doing his actions as I described them.

These were some of the techniques I used to give him a bit of life. And you know what – I hadn’t decided to use a trollkin until about a minute before introducing him. I had thought about the troll race before (I don’t think they are very Lankhmar but I don’t really care too much about that). They’re not racially stereotyped so this one is employed as an armourer – very good at bashing metal. So good to get an occupation/profession for the character, and some motivation for them. Think about what they want? Why are they interacting – what function does it serve. Then you can react on the fly thinking about these basic points.

Riffkin’s brother, Hartley is over 20′ tall and can’t go into pubs anymore – at least not human ones. Which is ironic. Not that Trolls in my game care much for alcohol – it’s far too expensive and takes an age to really hit their metabolism. They have their own drinks of course, which would be lethal toxins to humans, and they pretty much have to get alchemists to make them up for them. If they’re not brewing them up themselves. Oh, and they have very tough skin – don’t bother trying to bash them with a sword, unless you really are fed up with life. Or desperate. Or both.

Any questions or comments feel free, and if you have a topic you want me to expound upon – chuck me a comment or an e-mail. I’m sure I left my address on this site somewhere.

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Conglomeration Square Revisited – Art in Progress

The current state of the 'Conglomeration Square' pencil drawing. Must get some more pencils other than HB!!

This is the current incarnation of ‘Conglomeration Square’ (which for your info is in the Plaza District of Lankhmar). Yes that *is* a really huge troll type fellow pausing for a roll-up cigarette towards the foreground. Centre stage there is the ‘Cracked Head’ Tavern run by the enigmatic Fillestro, behind which is the Whelks’ Alchemists workshop and storage facility.

Then we have the fountain and statue of that famed hero Gyles Brandreth of Hakesmere. I’ve added in an old seperating wall that closes off the market emerging to the north. That was inspired by a wall in Southwick, West Sussex. Thanks to the lady who made a nice comment to me about my drawing but did make me jump a mile as I was deeply engrossed at the time. I have yet to figure out what to do with the building to the west of the Cracked Head – all suggestions welcomed – just chuck a comment with your idea and I will work the best and fitting idea into the sketch. You can have your suggestion shape how the tavern’s next door neighbours live in my RPG and in the sketch. Wow the awesome power you could wield. If not I’ll just be drawing it anyway so why not?!

I have as you can see started to add in some street-life and some plant-life into the sketch. George (who is playing Glendawynn) and I were able to refer to the sketch when we did some work on his character background and local knowledge last night. I get more people randomly chatting to me because they want to see what I am sketching then for any other reason. And I’m a pretty random guy I can tell yer :)

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