I’ve been playing round with designing tokens for more generic non player characters – in particular this week I’ve been toying with themed and uniformed groups that the DDC and others are likely to encounter. To cut a long story short, here’s some tokens for two sets of guards for your virtual table. Rather than do a portrait and token, I’ve instead done two different styled tokens in PNG format – one a circled portrait, the other a top-down view of the figure that preserves transparencies.
This first one is a half-elven city guard in chainmail and armed with a buckler shield and hammer. His yellow half-cloak is as much a badge of office as a protection from the elements while on patrol. I’m not sure which faction these guards will be connected to, but I can repaint the model with different schemes. These are not bad people – they’re just doing their job.
This second token is for the newly-reformed guards of Amberhammer Hold. They’re dressed for the cold winter heights as well as the dark below in colours that reflect the yellows of the amber fields and the glint of gold in the mines. They wield war hammers as they keep the peace, and bear battle axes for times of war.
I’ve enjoyed starting to make these – there will be more
This map featured in our recent one-shot and was a good chance to flesh out the local suburb and bring the group up to speed on what their erstwhile companion had been up to while they were out saving the world.
The club house was founded by Coal, a warforged rogue, to provide a safe space, meals, and general support to local youths – and it is almost certainly only a vicious rumour that it is also a front for a small guild of thieves with a side line in community support.
Just to remind you, this is what Coal looks like: a lithe robot in a suit, with a flowing long coat, various blades and spiked objects close to hand, and quite often a tame mimic nearby as backup.
So, here’s the clubhouse. I only created the main public area – mostly due to time constraint – but also to save some surprises for the future. There’s a large hatch in the main area in the floor suggesting a cellar. There are also stairs to an upper floor.
The general layout was inferred from the more generic area map of the suburb we’ve been using in the main campaign, and created using Dungeon Alchemist. This allowed me to then embed support for dynamic lighting, doors, windows, and movement restriction for walls. As it is on the edge of a public gardens, that provides a pleasant backdrop, while there are buildings either side, suggested by the free-standing walls. In the wider area map, the building to the left is a tea shop and cafeteria famed for its range of produce and cakes. To the right is the home of Iron Ryan, who is a renowned pit fighter, rival to Thorin, and general friend of the DDC who dated Kerne for a while. He’s a regular visitor at the club house and teaches self defence classes – and is most definitely not working as muscle for Coal, and you won’t repeat that rumour unless you fancy waking up tied up and on display somewhere public.
There are two entrance lobbies from the street that lead into the main hall – and the ground floor contains two study/lounges, an office, a toilet, a kitchen, and a pantry. In our game it made a good place for the group to receive their rewards, debrief Coal on the mission, and give young Odif a present.
I have, as usual with a Dungeon Alchemy map, created a zip file with the original file, a jpg export, and a text file giving all the additional sizing/doors/windows/dynamic lighting support. To use it in Roll20, upload the jpg to a blank map and put it on the map layer, then cut and paste the text file into the chat box while you have the Dungeon Alchemy API script running. It will resize and label the map accordingly.
Feel free to download, and if you use it, drop me a note to let me know what stories unfolded: coalsclubhouse.zip
Depending on your mythology or writer of choice, trolls are often depicted as near mindless beasts – despite the archetypal introduction of a troll under a bridge extorting coin from passers by. One of the things I love about the stories by Terry Pratchett is the growing and evolving troll characters – for example Detritus the Splatter working as hired muscle and then becoming a stalwart of the City Watch. Then we have the story of his courting of with Ruby, the troll of his dreams. Its a celebration of everyone having a story, no matter their background.
In the new DDC adventure, trolls are looming large, and not just in height. The lands that comprise the surrounds of the Clan Amberhammer Hold have seen conflict between dwarves and trolls for generations. During the Last War, the trolls were pushed back. This was in no small part due to the protective militias that Thorin helped set up. Now though, in the aftermath of the coup by the mindflayers and duergar of the Cult of the Triumphant Dead, many of the old forts and defences have fallen – and signs of trolls have been found by scouts to the West.
Here are three troll heroes who are looking to reclaim lands lost to the dwarves: Urash The Proud, Irreck The Stalker, and Dhumish Crackleg
Urash The Proud has assembled his half-plate armour by hand, scavenging and bending the materials scavenged from battlefields into added protection as he leads his fellows to raid and conquer the mountain valleys. Brutal and efficient in combat, he wields a huge claymore in one hand and is known to delight in setting ambushes.
Irreck The Stalker hunts lonely paths at night, picking off lone travellers or unwary shepherds before disappearing back into the gloom. The massive glaive he uses was taken from the first knight of the realm who tried to stop him – and he takes it everywhere with him.
Dhumish Crackleg was warped by magics lingering on the old battlefields, and lumbers along with deformed limbs, a crocodilian tail, and a row of spikes growing along his spine. He lurks in lakes and marshes and takes lone prisoners to slowly break and cook in pieces. Occasionally he might ransom someone back, but they might not be returned in one piece, or even all at the same time. His feverish vitality means that even if he loses limbs, they continue to fight on if he does not immediately press them back into place.
I haven’t entirely decided the how and where of most of these, but my ongoing experiments with Heroforge have presented some interesting options that seem to have stories to tell – or at least be the conduit for stories to tell with my assorted players. I’m trying to come up with characters that can stand out vividly – or be comic relief – and so today’s small batch ranges from a Dragonborn paladin, a Halfling bartender, and a Reborn elven hunter.
In order then we have Serenidas, a Dragonborn holy warrior descended from Copper Dragons who serves the principle of justice. Yes, the pun is entirely intentional even if not entirely original. Clad in reds and yellows, he has a magical flaming sword and an enchanted shield as he brings light to dark places.
Next we have Harlan Ghallison – a Mark of Hospitality Halfling who will be taking over the inn in Flower Town and widening the scope of the entertainments and treats available to customers and people passing by. I’m envisioning the sort of wry bartender running a Wild West saloon who may or may not have his fingers in some less that legal pies.
Lastly we have Hunter Dorull – who is an elf ranger who died before completing his mission and refused to stay put – at least, that’s his story. His body may be powered by pure willpower, but what is his mission, and why is he drawn to the DDC?
As ever, these tokens and portraits are free for the stealing for your VTT of choice – and I’d love to hear of any use you put them to!
I’ve been doing some more map making to wind down in the evenings – this time using Inkarnate as I get used to the layering options and thinking about the constructive layers involved in areas with multiple levels. In this case the concept was a battle location on a walkway high above some ruins below in some vaulted space underground. Depending on which way any of the various groups wander this may turn up in a session at some point as something I can just drop people into.
The map is for a 40×30 grid square on a landscape orientation for a virtual tabletop – with the main battle areas being the more brightly lit landings and walkway connecting them. The ziggurat and other buildings below could be any depth below depending on how you might want to run the encounter – anywhere from tens to hundreds of feet drop. Even now, looking at it, I’m considering how I might add a blur to the lower level so its implying a different height for the purposes of suggesting eye focus.
I’ve added a couple of lighting shades and textures to the lower level to try and suggest depths apart from the braziers on top of the ziggurat – and then added some lanterns on the walkway to make it stand out a little and draw the eye.
The types of encounters that could be run here range from being cornered by guardians, being attacked by flying predators, stand-offs threatening an object being dropped over the ziggurat’s flames, traps defending the entrance to the complex while implying what is to come later – go wild – and if you let me know some of the uses you put it to, that’ll be lovely.
There’s been new content added to HeroForge in the form of mounts and companion animals so I’ve had a bit of a play and then added in one of the new faces from last week. I’m not sure how or even if I’ll use this so I’m throwing the concept out there for anyone to grab and use.
Introducing Rakkan and Rekkam – a dragonborn monk and his raptor mount and companion. Rekkam favours the use of a bo staff and tends to have a veneer of amiability over the hardened discipline that his meditation and training have developed. Rekkam hails from a snowy mountaintop monastery near to where he was born – and unsurprisingly his lineage descends from one of the ancient white dragons that lair in the highest reaches. A follower of the Way of the Ascendant Dragon, Rekkam embraces his heritage and devotes himself to working in his local communities as a mediator and defender.
Rakkan is a trained raptor raised as part of a cadre of beasts by the monastery. While capable of fighting and hunting alongside his partner, Rakkan is mostly used for longer journeys where Rekkam acts as a courier. There is a deep affection between the two and more than one bandit has needed a change of underwear when Rakkan has crept up on them and growled in their ear.
As to how to use these characters? Well I’ve left lots of space for you to flesh them out. In my mind’s eye, Rekkam moves with purpose but sits or stands very still when others are talking or if he is observing them. He’s probably about 5th or 6th level – competent enough to deal with most common challenges and be a noted defender of the local community. He is most likely to be encountered as a courier – perhaps as a target for the party to intercept, or encountered while defending himself against bandits. Perhaps he is encountered as a scout, or a mystic contemplating the view in a mountain pass. Perhaps he rides to the aid of a group if they are being overrun.
As a couple, Rekkam is serious but kind – while Rakkan is curious and willful. You could probably get some humour from describing their interactions which may feel more like partners in misadventure rather than rider and mount…
One of the fun things from playing around in HeroForge and drawing maps while doing some plotting, is that sometimes a character coalesces and you know you want to tell their story. I’m still not entirely sure what the story is for this character, but they’re definitely shady, have more than a hint of the infernal to them, are deliciously non-binary, and with any luck can become a decent foil for characters.
I’m not sure which group or story they’ll appear in – quite possibly in the Librarian adventures – or how I’ll use them – but please welcome Caiaphane, and feel free to grab their portrait and token for your own VTT or illustrative purposes. They are possibly a tiefling or a cambion pretending to be one, and they seem to be brandishing a molotov cocktail alongside their trident dagger. Suggestions for their plans or motivations in an Eberron background are welcome…
I’ve suggested that after the current story arc we have a brief break to play a one-shot around things that might be happening back home – and having already made a portrait and token for Coal, I couldn’t resist making one for the DDC’s young kobold adopted son: Odif.
It may only be a year and a bit since he came into their lives, but kobolds mature quickly – and while still not an adult yet, he has already been showing an aptitude for mechanical and gadget-based tinkering that seems perfectly suited to his inquisitive mind. Coal specifically stayed behind to help raise and guide the little guy – and having grown up around the DDC the youngster has definitely picked up a few style inspirations along the way.
So, here he is, toothy grin, custom crossbow, a knife and some sort of rod or wand in a hanger – dashing in purples and greens, and holes cut in his hood to accommodate his horns and keep his head properly covered when running around. It’s as if he’s wearing a disguise or something. What have he and Coal been up to?
They will of course no doubt have a great explanation, or will deny everything.