Toward the end of 2016, my long-running Pathfinder group got bored with our campaign and decided to try something else. We’d been interested in dipping our toes into 5th Edition D&D for a while, just to see how the game had changed, so my associate, Rich, volunteered to run the first published campaign, which is titled “Something Something Dragons”.
I’m pretty sure that’s it.
D&D characters are basically the only things Spud enjoys drawing, so I’ve spent the past month giddily scratching out illustrations for our four brave looter/arsonists. And because I knew I would need to squeeze a blog article out of the exercise, I recorded the colouring process to produce time lapse art videos set to thematically appropriate music.
So, let’s meet the new family!
The Retired Conqueror
Like all of Spud’s RPG characters, this one has a long backstory. Don’t expect the same from the other ones, as Spud’s friends aren’t anywhere near as long-winded. 😛
Helen is a horrible, hate-filled old woman, so naturally I based her likeness on Paula Deen. I imagined that her armour would have been assembled from multiple sources over a lifetime of pillage, so I made a point of mis-matching as many cloth and armour layers as I could manage. The only nice-looking piece in the hodgepodge is her treasured breastplate, adorned with the face of her first husband, a Beholder named Greish. Even this, however, she has reinforced with extra armour plates and an array of probably-useless but nonetheless intimidating metal spikes.
The Dread Helen is my second-favourite D&D character and one of my favourite drawings that I’ve ever made. I’m unspeakably pleased with how she turned out, and if Rich kills her I will BURN HIS GODDAMN HOUSE DOWN.
That or cry.
It’s hard to say until it happens.
The Diffident Crusader
The other three party members have little or no formal backstory, but I did my best to work with each player to draw out what they imagined their character looked like and how they might decide to dress.
Ea here, played by Kevin, is a Tiefling Paladin. Paladins are passionate crusaders for good sworn to serve a god or an ideal, and during our first session, Kevin declared that Ea served the god Helm, patron of guardians and protectors. Then we took a two-month break because people’s schedules suck, and when we came back, Kevin retconned and re-declared that Ea served no particular god and no particular philosophy. She was just a stern lady who protects people.
With, yaknow, magic beams of holy light. That she draws from apparently nowhere.
Goddamnit Kevin. ~_~
This left me without much to work with on the concept front. I tried to resolve this impasse by designing her in a badass suit of Paladin plate armour, but Kevin nixed this idea, saying that she was very simply dressed in basic chainmail and leather.
GODDAMNIT KEVIN. >_<
I struggled to make anything out of his description for weeks, but for the life of me couldn’t make “paladin of nothing dressed in level 1 starting gear” look interesting. However, after weeks of agony, Kevin accidentally solved the problem.
“Just make her look like Ronda Rousey.”
I… can work with that, actually.
I don’t think the likeness turned out very well in this case, but it gave me enough of a foundation to build on. Because while it may be tough to imagine what sort of outfit Ea, Paladin of Ehh I’ll Decide Later would wear, it is somewhat easier to piece together the battle garb of Ser Rousey, Paladin of Beating the S*** Out Of People.
The Pointy Punchsmith
And then there’s Jay.
Jay is hard to adequately describe. He’s quiet, and he hates science fiction, and no matter what campaign we run, he always plays something like an elf, and always plays something like a ninja. Jay knows what he likes, and he will find a way to make it happen.
I admire that sort of philosophical certitude.
This time around, Jay’s particular avatar of the God of SmoothPrettyPointy Martial Artists is Rolen, a wood elf monk who punches kobolds for justice and harmony and all that nice business.
By this point in the exercise, I had figured out that all of the characters were going to be based on celebrity caricatures (though with the understanding that I’m not actually very good at drawing likenesses). However, it was impossible for me to imagine Rolen as anyone other than Jay himself. Rather than fight against this, I went and dug up the only photo of Jay I had access to, which was a 20-year-old picture his wife posted on Facebook.
That was basically all I needed to get started. 😀
I did not, in the end, manage to make the character look anything like real-life Jay. Rather than admit to my own shortcomings, however, I choose to believe that Jay’s inherent jayness is ephemeral and impossible to capture in a still image.
It was an act of bald hubris for me to even make the attempt.
The Nautical Huckster
Oh, and Tom was also there.
He was playing a dwarf sorcerer called Farg Beardpickle or Forvorgen Stonewhangle or some other godless abomination of a name, and he wanted it to be a pirate because Spud hates pirates and Tom is an asshole.
We worked out a backstory wherein Floorgrim Bojangle had been captured as a slave following the Dread Helen’s one ill-fated attempt at a naval battle (after which she cut her losses and declared the seas unworthy of her rule). It turned out that the unassuming little dwarf had a skill for resource management, and became the horde’s de facto accountant and quartermaster for over a decade, ensuring that everyone was fed and paid and that their captured booty was accounted for. On the rare occasion where Helen deigned to purchase goods rather than take them from the corpse of their former owner, she would simply grunt to Forgegrain Bonedangle to “Pay the man!” and walk off, as Helen had absolutely no interest in keeping track of any of her own vast wealth.
Floorplan Belljingle realized very quickly that his employer’s disdain for material goods meant that he could pilfer as much of her treasury as he liked and she would never notice or care. As a result, Foreboding Darkjungle spent the last eleven years of the Helenic Horde’s existence siphoning gold away and stashing it in dozens of caches across three continents. After the horde disbanded, he was free to travel around collecting his booty, consolidating it within a massive ship that he had built to contain it.
Fellreaver USBDongle had nearly completed his task and was all set to begin enjoying his retirement, when out of nowhere, his supposedly retired boss came stomping back over the horizon and informed him that she had a new quest that he would be helping her with. Too terrified to argue or run, Floopdewhoop Balljuggle simply whimpered and jogged off after her, hopeful that whatever nonsense she was getting up to could only last for so long before fate caught up with her, freeing him up at last to sail off with what he now regarded as his rightful property.
It’s John Ratzenberger.
As a dwarf pirate.
Let’s not cheapen this with words.
WE ARE FAAAAA-MILY
Click to embiggen
And now, after a series of unlikely inciting events, our four heroes are running around the world, trying to resolve a series of dragon-themed contrivances with violence and polyhedra.
It’s going pretty well so far.