Monday, September 4, 2017

Atlee Ink

About 6 months ago I moved to traditional drawing tools in order to concentrate on form. Digital is great, but it tends to make let me ignore crucial areas that I need to work on. Here is an ink rendition of Leslie no Kosupurei, the best Atlee cosplayer I've seen. :)

- Ark

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Gloom Court: Fingon and Irimë

(This is background for our Adventures in Middle-earth campaign, The Gloom Court. Gellam Doran is the house where one of the Player-heroes - Ithildin - is from, and Fingon and Irimë are her parents.)

Around three millennia ago, after the War of the Last Alliance, two elven children were rescued following a devastating raid on a valley by Orcs. Fingon and Irimë were the only survivors - Fingon having hid under a pile of dead bodies and Irimë having escaped on the river. Both were severely injured and had to be brought to the House of Gellam Doron for treatment.

After Fingon and Irimë had recovered both physically and mentally, Elenwë approached them both about staying at the House of Gellam Doron and joining the family. They agreed.

It was assumed that Fingon and Irimë were Sindaran - by look and by speech. The vale was not known to be inhabited, so they had most likely migrated recently - probably as refugees. They were both shorter than normal. Fingon had black hair, while Irimë's was platinum.

As they grew older, consensus in Gellam Doron was that the two should wed. But Fingon and Irimë showed no interest in each other. Fingon focused on archery and forestry, while Irimë followed Russandol's path as a loremaster in the court of Thranduil. Irimë eventually earned a place with King Thranduil as an emissary, studying with loremasters from as far as Lothlórien and Rivendale. Fignon formed a band of elves to help patrol the area around Gellam Doron and keep it safe from the gathering gloom in Mirkwood.

Two thousand years later, Irimë finally came back to Gellam Doron. She had been enticed by the lore and history of others, and wanted to know more about Mirkwood's past. The elves had migrated northward over the last seven millennia and had left ruins - and knowledge - behind. Irimë was determined to know what had been lost. With the help of Fignon's band of elves, she began to travel to ancient sites in Mirkwood, probing deeper and deeper into history.

Working closely together, Fingon and Irimë began to develop a close bond and spent a much of their time out in the dark forest together. They eventually fell in love, and took time out of their busy schedules to get married, much to the relief of the family who had waited more than two millennia for the blessed event.

As they were preparing to raise a family, Smaug the Dragon descended upon the Lonely Mountain, destroying the dwarven kingdom of Erebor, the Human Kingdom of Dale, and burning the Lake-town of Erebor. They put their lives on hold to help Elenwë with the survivors, waiting for a time when they felt the world was safer to have children.

Almost a century later, Irimë gave birth two the twins Elanor and Ithildin. The girls were found to be strong in the art of ósanwë, an ancient telepathic ability that most elves lost long before the Age of Man began. This ósanwë seemed to only work between the two twins, and worked only sporadically - typically in times of need. Their birth was considered a herald of good things to come.

Mirkwood continued to descend into darkness however. Irimë was certain that an answer to the problem lay in the ruins of King Oropher’s old capital near the Mountains of Mirkwood, some three millennia abandoned. King Thranduil forbade any incursions into the mountains to explore his father’s old domain, as the area was saturated with goblins and giant spiders. Two decades after the birth of her children, Irimë organized an expedition anyway and set out without informing her family.

Days later, Fingon discovered Irimë had left and hastily organized a party to go after her. Neither party was ever seen again, despite multiple searches and the disappearance of a dozen more elves.

Russandol and Elenwë were devastated at the loss of Fingon and Irimë. As time went on and hope faded, they adopted their grandchildren, Elanor and Ithildin, as their own - knitting the familial bond in the House of Gellam Doron tighter.

- Ark

(image links & &

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Gloom Court: The House of Gellam Doron

(This is background for our Adventures in Middle-earth campaign, The Gloom Court.  Gellam Doran is the house where one of the Player-heroes is from.)

Head of the house is Russandol, a tall, thin Sindarin elf with a shining head of coppery-red hair.  His voice is lyrical, almost always laughing or ready to burst out into song.  He loves a good story, either read from book or told around a fire.

The ginger Sindar is a loremaster in the court of Thranduil, having served the Elfking's father Oropher since the birth of the Woodland Kingdom seven millennia before.  He learned his craft from Pengolodh, a loremaster of the Noldor during the First Age of the Sun.

Long has Russandol believed that mirth and good company are the true bane of the darkness that has turned Greenwood the Great into Mirkwood.  He refuses to live with his liege Thranduil underground, instead dwelling in a lofty home built in the eaves of a giant tree named Gellam Doron (the Jubilant Oak.)  There he surrounds himself with his adopted family, enjoying their company as the seasons pass.

Russandol is married to Elenwë, a healer of great renown.  Her golden hair sparkles like the sun even in low lighting, a reminder of the Noldorian grandmother that gazed upon the Trees of Valinor long ago.  Elenwë is a stern, if loving caregiver, running the house with an iron fist while repairing injured neighbors, healing sick animals, and growing an extensive garden.

It was Elenwë's idea to begin adopting children, some time after their own children were killed.  Wartime often left parentless, and sometimes even clanless, young elves who needed care.  Elenwë decided to take up the job.

Now, the House of Gellam Doron is made up of Russandol, Elenwë, their 23 children, including some of their wives, husbands, and children as well.  It is a busy, bustling, and loud place, emitting enough shouts, songs, and laughter to green the dark forest for miles around.

- Ark

(image links &

Monday, February 27, 2017

Adventures in Middle-earth: The Gloom Court

So I'm starting an Adventures in Middle-earth campaign!

Years ago I ran a MERP game, which convinced me to ditch 1e D&D and move to MERP's grandpappy, Rolemaster.  I never could really get into MERP though.  Playing in Middle-earth seemed like blasphemy.  It was hallowed ground.  I liked the system, but, yeah, it just seemed wrong to walk down those roads without Tolkien holding my hand.

I was interested in the One Ring when it came out - but MERP still haunted me.  The ghost of Tolkien would surely smite me dead.  I mean, even if I could get everything right lore-wise, the thought of having the party go murder-hobo in Middle-earth was very depressing.

Then Adventures in Middle-earth came out.  They basically took the soul of The One Ring game and laid it on top of 5e D&D.  Excited, but a bit timid, I began to investigate.

I've read the Player's Guide and the Loremaster Guide and like everything that I've seen.  The game strips off the top of 5e - races, classes, feats, alignment, and then rebuilds on top of the core mechanics - giving a Tolkien flavor to - well - what had been a mouthful of Faerûn.  :)

I also set upon The Hobbit, LOTR, and The Silmarillion.  Actually, first I hit the Silmarillion.  That was a nearly impossible slog back when I was a teen.  I read it, sure, but I don't think I retained more than a vague concept that a bunch of people started singing and then Atlantis sank.

It's amazing what a few decades do to your ability to understand complicated literary forms.

Dang, the Silmarillion is a great book.  Sure, it's still a slog, but with a hardcopy of the book, the audio book playing in my headphones, Karen Wynn Fonstad's Atlas of Middle Earth, and the entire Internet at my fingertips, I could finally dig into the beast and understand at least some of the juicy awesomeness that Tolkien spent his lifetime fiddling with.

I think that grokking the Silmarillion has given me the hope that I can take Middle-earth and world-build right along with Tolkien.  I think - I hope - that I can add stuff that will enhance and expand on the flavor and feeling of the works, so that the players won't be able to tell very easily where J.R.R.'s world ends and my tacked on bits begin.  I think.  I hope.  :)

I'll be posting some of the background material I've developed soon, and maybe even play reports.  I'll at least let ya'll know whether our campaign is good, or turns out to be a big ball of suck.  Stay tuned!

- Ark

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Other Side of Larina

Here is Larina, a character of Tim's from The Other Side blog.  I did a SFW version that Tim has over here as well.  Enjoy!