EDIT: I re-formatted this article to have more character backstory and art notes for your enjoyment.
EDIT 2: I’ve added in a 4th party member, the NPC Dorn! Check out the article for more notes about him.
After being massively inspired by The Legend of Vox Machina‘s fun animated series, I felt so homesick for D&D, which we had to give up because of COVID and health risks.
Luckily, our friends hooked my husband and myself into a game online in Roll20 and now I have SO much fodder for tabletop art to share! Starting with this party banner portrait inspired by the LoVM’s animated series style. It was a nice break from my usual stuff that allowed me to indulge my inner geek for a bit!
Allow me to introduce in their first appearance in the Underdark arena – THE UNMERRY BAND! This disparate group of adventurers has been unwillingly drawn into a game of death put on for a mad sorcerer’s entertainment in a gladiator’s arena. They must learn to work together or perish!
Cal the Entertainer
Backstory: Meet Calumny “Cal”, a traveling faire entertainer and voracious flirt of the party. He made his living doing trick archery shots for crowds, spending his time off stealing hearts and having mindless fun before he was unwillingly conscripted into the Underdark arena. He slept with the wrong person who chose him as a compelling new ‘addition’ to the Pits’ unwilling cast of warriors.
He is currently mourning the death of a half-orc ally in the arena after the two really hit it off and plots to get rich and settle scores once he escapes.
Art Notes: When it comes to character designs, I enjoy including a ‘keepsake’ element which signifies a character’s past. For the other party members, this was a sentimental object, but for Cal, it was his blue eyes.
He inherited them from a family that cast him off for being a Tiefling. He has been quite secretive about this past, preferring to deflect such serious topics with his usual flash and charm.
I also wanted more unique horn bling for him than the bog standard horn caps, so I thought horn piercings seemed fitting! I also used this excellent stock pose from Adorkastock.
I’m looking forward to gaining his trust (if we all live long enough)!
Cal is played by my good friend, Hayley.
Dorn, the Vengeful
Backstory: Dorn Il-Khan, the Butcher of Barrow, or so many would believe. He pledged his sword to a demon of vengeance to hunt the one who betrayed him and besmirched his name. However, instead of dying for revenge, Dorn heroically sacrificed himself to save the party, particularly Cal, the Tiefling he’d started to grow fond of during our time imprisoned in the arena.
It was fun to get under this NPC’s skin as a player. He was a gruff kind of guy, but we did our best to slip through the cracks of his demeanor to find the decent guy underneath. Here’s to you, Dorn!
Upon his death, his Demon Patroness of Vengeance claimed his soul and returned to the infernal planes, but perhaps that’s not the end of his tale? We shall see (maybe?). The DM hinted that Cal may be taking a journey to find his soul in Avernus and that could be quite the wild trip, indeed.
Art Notes: I struggled a lot with Dorn because I’m rather used to drawing lithe elegant characters. He was a nice change of pace with a wide orcish body type and heavy plate mail which I also have no experience drawing. I learned so much with this portrait, including the fact I cannot avoid perspective grids if I want to make weapons look right.
Dorn was played by the DM as an enemy turned ally NPC.
- See detail shots and watch a timelapse of this piece here.
Rabanne, Flame of the Sultana
Backstory: Once a princess of the Fire Genasi sultanate, Rabanne (aka Rabs), gave up her title to pursue her own destiny away from the mechanations of the palace where she never felt suited for the title or the responsibilities as one called to be a Storm Herald.
Rabs has become the ‘heart’ of the party, the caring ‘big sister’ who has done her best to keep the peace when personalities clash so that the party can focus on survival in the arena. She hides some deep wells of violence, however, never feeling more happy than she does when she’s facing death in battle and proving to herself she is the master of her own Rage.
I look forward to watching Rabs grow as she experiences the world outside the gilded cage she grew up in and learns to trust herself more!
Rabs is played by myself (as evidenced by my rambling backstory lol).
Art Notes: Though you can’t see it, her ‘keepsake’ is a blue bead that symbolizes Valor, a sign of rank and virtue she was granted by her sister, the Sultana, for her role in deposing their cruel father, the previous Sultan of the Fire Genasi. She wears this bead on a bracelet which shows her rank as a Burning Saint, a humanitarian organization she joined when she decided to leave the palace for other prospects.
Rabs’ hammer was passed on to her from a Dwarven Queen who saved her life in the arena. It reads in Tolkien-inspired dwarven runes “The Badass Queen of the Deep”. This magical hammer returns when thrown, while Rabs’ Gauntlets of Fiery Defense grant her a defense boost and ignite any of her weapons with flame while she’s Raging.
Mint, the Bladesinger
Backstory: Ariminthia (aka Mint) grew up in a family of prolific wizards in the city, but never quite fit in with any of them because of her boorish interests in martial arts and unladylike activities. The only person in her family she ever got along with was her twin brother.
Unfortunately, Mint left him and her family behind after she was kidnapped. Instead of paying her ransom, her parents chose to abandon her. At this point, she decided to join her kidnappers, a small band of mercs who were in over their heads.
She ended up in the arena after a shady new member of the merc band sold her out to the arena’s ringmaster after learning about her talent with Bladesinging.
Mint is the most intelligent member of the party and tends to have her mind in the long game while the rest of us are ruled by emotion or money. She’s also got quite a temper and still acts like a noblelady with her condescending attitude, at times.
Art Notes: Mint’s keepsake is the handmade crow pendant inspired by their family crest given to her by her brother which she wears around her neck. For her look, I combined the frills of someone with finer taste in clothing with the sleek leathers of a finesse fighter.
Are you all in a game right now too (or have a character you’re excited to play later)? Tell me about your characters in the comments so I can enjoy hearing about them while I’m in recovery!
Surgery/Hiatus Officially Begins!
After months of being on a waiting list, the surgery to fix a torn tendon in my dominant arm is FINALLY happening! I’ll be nesting in recovery with a pile of books and Netflix for possibly up to 6 weeks (hopefully less if I recover quickly), with physical therapy to follow.
It means I’ll be quiet here more than usual and that you all can expect to not be charged for another month (possibly more, depending on how my recovery goes). However, this also means those of you who are Annual Patrons will have additional time added to your memberships!
Either myself or my husband will pop on here and make a post to let everyone know it went ok. Hopefully see you all sooner rather than later!
Till next time, enjoy the geekery. 😀