Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Were I still in high school, this next sentence would undoubtedly get me beaten up:

Sometimes I get involved in Dungeons & Dragons role-playing games.

Mostly I keep that information hidden from people, both to avoid any reflexive "beat the nerd to a bloody pulp" reactions and because it's just too hard to explain. If I ever am forced to admit to it, I generally laugh it off and give the same excuse I do when my wife catches me ogling an attractive woman:

"I just do it for the art. Really."

Luckily now that I've actually been published in game supplements, that excuse carries a little weight with regards to the Dungeons & Dragons end of it. I haven't had quite the same luck with the ogling, but I gamely keep tossing it out there.

There is a grain of truth to the art excuse, though. I really do like illustrating the characters and scenarios we find ourselves in during a gaming session. One of the most recent adventures I had the good fortune to participate in was from an early Dungeons & Dragons supplement called "Mystara", run by an online friend of mine by the name of Jeff Mejia. Although the game is now defunct, I had a good time illustrating the player characters. I went for a sort of 1940's pulp fiction / movie serial kind of feel with them, and I was really happy with three of the illustrations in particular, which I'll share after the jump.

First up is Krondak Ironfist, the character I played. He's a good-natured, bad-ass Dwarf with (as the name implies) a mysterious mechanical fist of unknown powers. I liked this drawing a lot, I think it really captured Krondak's spirit.

Next up is Rolmir, the team mage. Young, a little lacking in self-confidence, but eager to try out his new magical abilities, Rolmir was a fun guy to have around. This illustration gives a sense of Rolmir's willingness to brave danger even while afraid.

The leader of our little team of misfits was Troilus, a newly-retired human sergeant from the local army. A sniper with the longbow and deadly with a sneaky knife in the back, Troilus showed more bravery in being willing to lead the team than he ever needed on any field of battle -- the guys were quite a handful.

I wanted to post these drawings partly because I like them, but also as an example of the way I use artwork to help me have a better role-playing game experience. I have an idea of what the character is like in my head, and then as I start to draw him or her, more and more details get filled in. Sometimes by the end of a drawing I have a whole new understanding of that character's motivations and thought processes. Or, sometimes, they just end up with a really neat weapon.

Because in D&D, happiness is a warm vorpal sword.

(Don't feel bad if you don't get that last joke. It means you're normal. Those of us who get it are the weirdos.)


Denise said...

If I describe a potential new boss or co-worker, can you draw them before I sign on the dotted line?

Seriously.. those drawings are awesome, Jeff. I liked how you described how they look and how they evolved. Cool.

Adam H said...

there were a couple people at my old job that were way into d&d. like i told them, though i love comics and video games and other geeky stuff, i've managed to avoid crossing over into d&d territory. i was told not only would i enjoy it, but i'd probably make "the ultimate d&d player". they tried to convince me to come play, but for some reason it was a line i just couldn't cross. what do you think, am i missing out or doing myself a favor?

Jeff Hebert said...

Hmmm, I bet you'd find it too tedious to be fun, honestly. There's a lot of rule-mongering and the pace can be a bit slow if you're used to video games and such. On the plus side, a good storyteller (which is really what a Dungeon Master -- the guy running things -- is) is a thousand times better than a pre-planned video game or movie. The interactivity of the players riffing off of what's going on adds a dimension of unpredictability you can't really get any other way. And there's no video card made yet that can surpass the human imagination's ability to visualize what's described to them.

But like I said, it's much slower-moving than most entertainment options, and I don't think you'd like that very much. It wouldn't hurt anything to try it out for a night, though, if you don't like it you don't have to do it again, you know?