Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Mother of Dragons - No Really - Just Not The One You Are Thinking Of

A drawing of Lady Sarafina that I am
not completely embarrassed about.
I began playing Lady Sarafina some nine or ten months ago.  Originally the noble fighter pregen in the D&D 5e Starter Set, she grew into an 11th level battle master and 4th level scion of Siamorphe, and probably my favorite pc to role play ever.  Soon after the completion of the the Lost Mines of Phandelver adventure, she announced her claim on all lands within 50 miles of the town of Phandalin, and made those claims stick with the Lords Alliance.  Sarafina is a 4' 11", loud, calculating, manipulative, elitist, murderous, racist, power hungry tyrant who always gets her way.  Well, mostly.  The DM - and other party members - throw wrenches into her plans whenever possible.

Take the whole marriage thing for example . . .

Sarafina poured all of her spare money into the town of Phandalin, making it the capital of her empire.  As she was busy attracting human and dwarven settlers to work in her mines, Sir Kriev, her dragonborn adventuring companion and childhood friend, began his own crusade to attract settlers.  But Sir Kriev, being a progressive, liberal sort of dragonborn cleric of Bahamut, brought in goblins, hobgoblins, and ogres into Sarafina's pristine town.  Sarafina had a fit, and made them all move outside the city walls - such creatures being unfit to live near decent folk.  In fact, he advertised to all sorts of 'sub-humans' as Lady Sarafina liked to refer to the denizens of the Monster Manual.

After a few more adventures, the town was a busy, successful place, and Sarafina's noble father began encouraging her to have children and continue the family line.  Well, his method of encouragement involved threatening to disown her and strip her of all her noble titles and benefits.  So she began a search for a suitable rich, powerful, noble husband to produce a litter of offspring with.

Saber from Fate Zero, but will do as a stand in for Lady Sarafina.
About that time, a mysterious nobleman arrived in town, bought a plot of land, and erected a handsome estate.  Sarafina set her spies upon him, digging into his past.  Eventually she verified that Earl Cassian Everet from Marsember was the real deal - a bonafide Cormyrian nobleman who had decided to retire peacefully many miles away from home.

Sarafina badgered him into wedded bliss.

Playing a grumpy pregnant woman with vericose veins dispatching subterranean monsters with her two-handed axe was great fun.  But eventually, downtime became inevitable so she could give birth.  I normally write vignettes involving all of the pcs during these downtimes, and send them to the group.  But the DM asked me to stop writing just before Sarafina gave birth, as he had a surprise for me and the noblewoman.

It turned out that Earl Cassian Everet, Sarafina's much abused husband, was, in fact, a silver dragon.  He was a victim of a family curse to appear in human form most of the time, and his lips were magically sealed, preventing him from discussing his affliction with non-dragons who didn't know already.  The Earl had shown up in Phandalin because the dragonborn Sir Kriev had advertised the town as a safe place for non-humans - and had NOT shown up because Sarafina was looking for a husband.  It had been just a horrible, horrible coincidence.

The DM and all of the other players had known the the Earl of was a dragon the moment Sarafina began 'courting' him - EXCEPT ME.


The DM and I sat down to figure out what would happen with the pregnancy.  Both the DM and I absolutely HATE the official version of the half-dragon - and the dragonborn, for that matter - thus I was given leeway to do something else.

So Sarafina, in a big surprise reveal, gave birth to two three-and-a-half foot tall dragon eggs, from which promptly sprang two female silver dragons.

How, you ask, might such a strange thing happen?  How could Sarafina even survive such a thing?  I have three words for you.

Vag of holding.

Sarafina was PISSED.  Well, she was pissed until she realized that she had suddenly become a dragon producing machine and dreams of a dragon empire controlling the Sword Coast began swirling in her mind.

So yeah, little Rosanna and Maebelle popped out of Sarafina already stronger and smarter than their mother.  They can take the human form, and are subject to the same curse as their father.  But they are DRAGONS through and through.

Sarafina has already begun to amass a horde for her twin daughters, and even began to search for a suitable mountaintop lair for them.

Regretfully, the latest story arc involves Rosanna and Maebelle being kidnapped.  So Sarafina and the Burning Mountain Adventuring Company are on a whirlwind slaughter-fest that makes Taken look like Driving Miss Daisy.  The party has battled mind flayers, dragons, vampires, and an Old One as they seek out the twins, all while Sarafina is pregnant AGAIN with a triplet of boy dragons.  Last session they even stared down a tarrasque.

Sarafaina is now the real Mother of Dragons - unlike that Khaleesi chick who just walks around in fire and has some dragons as pets.


- Ark

Friday, April 24, 2015

Elemental Evil Player's Companion and What Does It All Mean?

I can't believe it's been almost four months since I posted an rpg related post on my RPG RELATED BLOG.  Oh well.  Life goes on.

So, yeah, Elemental Evil Player's Companion.  This was originally a pdf supporting the Elemental Evil Princes of the Apocalypse adventure book, chock full of new player races and spells that had a good elemental feel.  It's available for free, along with a free DM supplement that includes tons of stuff, including all of the beasties in the adventure, making the Monster Manual an optional purchase.  (Yes, they are unabashedly giving away the monster farm.)

Now, some of the bits of the Player's Companion are in the Princes of the Apocalypse book , and some are not.  Kind of a pain if you are lugging around books and you need a pdf viewer TOO.  But WOTC did something odd about a week ago.  They made a Print On Demand version available on the D&D Classics site.

Sure, yeah, ten bucks is a bit much for 25 pages, but I ordered it anyway since I was curious and didn't want to screw around with a Lulu version.  I've never heard of WOTC doing POC, so I was intrigued.  I think it's a first.

So how is it?  Well, it just came in the mail during a torrential downpour, and luckily didn't get soggy.  It looks great.  Magazine kind of stapling.  That should be good when the players get their grubby hands on it and the elf wizard starts to horde it during play.  Glossy paper would have been nice - but it's decently thick paper so should hold up.

So cool, yeah.  A bit pricey, yeah.  But I think I'm far more interested in what this product means to D&D, rather than the actual content.  What does it mean?  I have no idea.

Per this article, D&D is focused on STORIES.  Stories across it's entire line - tabletop and MMORPG - as well as traditional computer rpg type games (non-internet-y) and even movies.  They want to do one to two 'stories' a year.  Tabletop is just a small part of that.  A part, yes, but small.  So no Player Handbook II or any of that jazz.  Probably not any additional Monster Manuals or even campaign books.  Just adventure books with enough new races, classes, monsters, and magic to properly dress up whatever adventure is occurring.

And that means no big splat books for players.  I am like . . . thrilled . . . at the thought of that.  Both as a player and a DM.  I'm less enthusiastic about a dearth of new campaign world books, but honestly, enough were produced during 1st through 4th edition to sink a ship.  A lot of them are sitting over on the book shelf staring at me.

I think this does something else.  Remember back in the 80s when there were just not a ton of splat books being made?  If a DM needed something in a game, they'd just make it themselves or check out Dragon Magazine for ideas and mechanics.  Starting at 2nd edition, we had the attack of the splat books.  DMs didn't need to invent or hack the game.  They just bought a book.  Players too.  It started an arms race between players and DM, in fact.  By 4th edition, the immensity of options just spun my head.

But now we are sitting here with a shiny new D&D, waiting for mana to drop from WOTC.  But no mana is dropping.  STORIES are coming, sure.  WOTC is spitting out a lot of articles with TINKER ideas, like beta concepts for Eberron races and classes, artilces on how to twist existing classes into something you'd like to play more, and how to stat up D20 modern weaponry in 5e.  But it's all hobby/tinkery/kitbash stuff.  Nothing official.  Just 25 or 50 pages of STORY specific splat per year.

I think that is wonderful.  I am full circle back to the early 80s, with Gary Gygax moving out to California busy trying to monetize D&D with cartoons and action figures, leaving the game alone and letting us tinker our asses off.

Yeah, sure, they'll get bored and make another Unearthed Arcana, but we can deal with that when it happens. :)

- Ark

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Some Sketches

Been trying to build an internal library of anatomical structures via gesture drawings, and then sketching without references right in front of me.  It's, um, progressing. :)

- Ark

Thursday, April 16, 2015

What I Did Today

Still working on faces.  Probably will be forever.  I think that's how it works. :)

- Ark

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Doctor Who Day

Cover by Jake Ekiss
While this kind of sounds like an April Fool's Day thing, this actual event is actual.  My small home town will be officially celebrating Doctor Who Day on April 4th.

It all started when someone convinced someone else that it would be a good idea to have an alternate cover of the the first issue of  "New Adventures with the Ninth Doctor" that features the Denton County Courthouse in Texas.  No clue why or who, but someone did it.  My FLGS, More Fun Comics and Games, made it happen, I think.

The idea snowballed, and "Doctor Who Day on the Square" was soon announced (526 people are signed up for it on Facebook, currently.)  A prop TARDIS is being erected on the courthouse lawn.  Some local business are giving discounts to cosplayers during the festivities.

Then a city councilman and the mayor got involved, and made the whole thing official.  So now, April 4th, 2015 is "Dr. Who Day" in Denton, Texas.  Yeah, okay, the BBC never abbreviates the word 'doctor' for the show, but . . . meh . . . technicalities. :)

So pretty cool eh?  I love my town.  Full of weirdos and nerds.

Here is document, all official and stuff . . .

- Ark