Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Flames of Passion

"And though this world with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us; 
We will not fear, for God hath willed, His truth to triumph through us"
- A Mighty Fortress is Our God, Martin Luther

Adventure Synopsis: As raiding orcs pillage and raid villages for prisoners, an intrepid group of heroes tracks them to a ghost town condemned to an underground mine fire.  Exploring inside, they find a shrine dedicated to a mysterious entity as the orcs attempt to summon a fiend and incite war.

Adventure Background: In the lands of the Dying Kingdom, a small abandoned village lies in the mountainous vale known as the Haze.  Records in the historic tomes of House Nowyki state that this village was once the main location of coal and fuel mining for the rest of the kingdom.  Using various trade roads, large quantities of anthracite were exported to the rest of the Dying Kingdom, supplying the lands with enough energy for the populace.

While this area was not the only mining source in the Dying Kingdom, it was considered to be the greatest due to the wealth of anthracite that was located beneath it and in the surrounding mountains.  Anthracite released larger amounts of energy than normal coal when burned, causing some to give it the name dragonstone.  The royal family of House Nowyki used anthracite exclusively, and made sure that the anthracite hills were well defended and protected from the dangers that dwelt within the lands.

Eventually, disaster struck the region as the Dying Kingdom's great fall began.  Some claim the Kingdom was cursed for turning against Umbaria.  Others say it was the mysterious strangers that would show up unexpectedly and disappear.  No matter the thoughts, they cannot dispute what happened to the village.  Somewhere in the mines, a fire had begun, igniting the anthracite and creating a huge underground fire.  Sinkholes enveloped the village, swallowing up portions of the community and releasing large clouds of toxic gas.  As more of these gas vents opened up, a perpetual smog filled the valley, choking out the last residents and creating an entirely inhospitable dwelling.  The once formerly glorious land, the energy jewel of the kingdom, was re-named the Burning and left alone as monsters and other evils took over, claiming the land and the anthracite as their own.

In truth, the fire had been set by cultists of Nybor, a mysterious entity of fire, chaos, anger, and passion.  Deep within the mines, they built a shrine dedicated to her, bonding it to the elemental ties already prevalent within the land.  The ties opened magical elemental rifts, summoning fire elementals and other creations, igniting the anthracite and spreading.  The cultists were killed in this cataclysm, though the elemental beings lived on, stirring deep within the earth.

As time went on, the rest of the Dying Kingdom slowly fell.  The poisonous cloud known as the Haze became less toxic, yet the fire still burned.  During the latest event, an orc warrior-prophet calling himself the Bloodson, among other titles, attempted to unite all of the orc tribes in the lands under his leadership.  Great skirmishes were fought, and those who stood against him were executed in torturous brutality, showing the other orcs to submit to his authority. 

One orc and his followers managed to escape.  Boorog the Skull-Crowned and his ape-like brethren fled to the Burning, believing (rightly so) that they would not be pursued.  It was there they discovered the mines, and after exploring deep inside, discovered the shrine to Nybor and the a drow cultist, Immolandra, who is pursuing her own agenda by manipulating the chief to get what she wants.  Now, Boorog seeks to overthrow the Bloodson by summoning a fiend and using it to unite the tribes, making himself the undisputed leader of the orcs.  From there he will bring about the fall of the last remaining kingdoms and named the Dying Kingdom his own.  Unbeknownst to him, the fiend serves nobody but himself...

However, in order to release the fiend, Boorog requires prisoners to trade for the magical components to fuel Immolandra's summoning ritual.  And so, his orcs have begun raiding the civilized settlements, taking prisoners and causing the call for heroes and mercenaries to go out through the lands....

Setup: The Flames of Passion is an adventure for 5th-6th level characters.  Monster names and stat blocks can be found in the last D&DNext playtest packet released.  Anything created for the adventure will be listed in it.  Distribute treasure through the adventure as the DM sees fit, and feel free to adjust encounters based on the challenge you want the players to experience.

Monster Stat Blocks: The monsters used in this adventure can all be found in the last D&D Next Alpha playtest packet.  All the monsters are run as is, except for the following adjustments:

Orc Priest of Nybor: Use the Dark Priest stat block.  Add the Orc's Relentless trait, and fill the 2nd level spell slot with Scorching Ray instead of Silence. 

Adept of Nybor: Use the Dark Adept stat block. Add the Orc's Relentless trait.

Cultist of Nybor: Use the Cultist of Asmodeus stat block

Encounter 1: The characters encounter a group of orcs hastily leading prisoners back to the Burning.  What starts a simple random encounter can easily lead to more questions of what is happening.

Encounter Difficulty: Easy to Medium
Monsters: Orc Priest of Nybor, 6-8 Orcs

The orcs do not attempt stealth, so the PC's can hear them crashing through the underbrush and may hide in order to ambush them.  When the orcs break into the clearing, they can be seen leading a few battered prisoners.  This is an excellent location to introduce new PC's to the game.

The orcs fight to the death, until they are either reduced to 50% of their starting force, or the Priest of Nybor dies, whichever one comes first.  They will then attempt to flee off the far edge of the map to make it back to the mines.

After the encounter, PC's may wish to speak with the freed captives.  They inform the PC's that the orcs have been raiding more and more, taking prisoners north who are never seen from again.  They also mention the strange rights the orc shamans have been performing, painting their faces red and black with blood and dirt.  Their magic seems to be more fire and rage oriented as well.

Following the trail the orcs were taking is relatively easy, and any character skilled in Track automatically succeeds and leads the group to the Burning.  The village is abandoned and ruined, and the orc trail leads right to the gates of the mines.  They open easily.

Inside the mines, the PC's can already feel the heat and can navigate by the walls that glow softly (dim light).  Eventually, they make their way to the checkpoint, where they can hear orcs squabbling and arguing amongst themselves.

Flavor Note: When a follower of Nybor casts Inflict Wounds, the targets veins and arteries heat up, glowing bright red as if they will catch on fire.

Those under the Bless spell cast by a follower of Nybor have increased bloodshot eyes, bulging muscles, and a sort of a mad fury that possesses them.

Encounter 2: After entering the mines, the heroes come to an underground outpost used to remove the anthracite from the mines.  The outpost has now been converted to a slave pen, shackling the prisoners as they are taken deeper underground to be exchanged for the magical components Nybor's followers need.

Encounter Difficult: Medium
Monsters: Orc Priest of Nybor, Adept of Nybor, various amounts of Orcs depending on party


The orcs immediately attack any intruders.  The priests use their spells first, then switch to weapons once their spell slots are depleted.  When the magic users are defeated, the rest of the orcs flee deeper into the mines, warning their chief, Boorog of the warriors.

If the players explore the location, they find piles of confiscated equipment and possessions.  In the far room, evidence of large creatures exists as well.  This outpost was used to strip slaves of their valuables and goods before taking them deeper in the mines to be traded for ritual components.

Additional Encounters: Depending on the length of the game session or mine exploration, the DM may wish to add additional encounters as the party goes deeper into the mines to find the orc chief and the Temple of Nybor.  Consider using the following map and adding wandering bands of orcs and Priests of Nybor.  There are also various terrain hazards to be encountered, from burning anthracite to polluted, toxic air. 


Encounter 3: Having reached the deepest part of the mines, the heroes discover the forgotten shrine of Nybor.  There, her drow follower beings a ritual to summon Nagûl (Nah-gool), a banished fiend who once wrecked havoc upon the land in the days of the past.  While the orc Boorog thinks to control the fiend, Nagûl turns on him, escaping to rally his own army and cover the lands in darkness once again.  If the servant of Nybor escapes with him, so be it.

Encounter Difficulty: Hard
Monsters: Borgo the Skull Crowned (Orc Chieftain); Immolandra (Cultist of Nybor); 4 Orcs; 2 Orogs; Fire Elemental; Nagûl (Horned Devil)


Note: Additionally, if the encounter is going too easily, the gargoyle statues can animate and attack as 2 Gargoyles.  Otherwise, they are two inanimate statues carved from anthracite with glowing veins running through them.  More orcs can always be added as well.

Set up: The gargoyles flank the altar.  Immolandra stands atop the altar.  The Orogs guard the altar, while Boorog stands among the ruins.  Two Orc Priests of Nybor flank the portal, but do not participate in the battle, channeling their own magic into opening the portal.  The orcs flank the river of burning anthracite.  The fire elemental and Nagûl do not start the battle on the map.

Embedded image permalink

The altar depicts a woman standing among flames, her head raised and screaming.  The altar steams, giving any PC 3 fire damage for touching it.  Any PC who studies it may make a DC 15 Charisma check.  On a success, their head is filled with a vision of a beautiful woman surrounded by flames, asking to be served by one so passionate.  A failed check leaves the PC with feelings of passionate rage and anger.

Any PC that attempts a Divine Sense knows that the portal is desecrated.  The altar emits pure chaos.

The PC's enter from the bottom of the map.  The enemies wait for the PC's to enter the room, focusing their attacks on the Orc Priests of Nybor.  When the Priests die, the portal is finally opened and Nagûl emerges.  When he emerges, Boorog attempts to command him, which earns the fiend's ire.  Nagûl will attack and slay Boorog before fleeing the map by flying across the burning river of anthracite, unable to be pursued on foot.

At the end of the first round of combat, a fire elemental emerges from the burning anthracite to attack either the players or the Priests of Nybor, speeding up the completion of the ritual.

Embedded image permalink

Immolandra fights to the death, unless she can escape with Nagûl.  Her face is covered in red and black tattoos, and she enjoys taunting the PC's, telling them their passion is to be commended.

The orcs flee as soon as Boorog is killed, using their action to Hustle back to the entrance and out of the mines.

Nagûl flees after Boorog is slain.  He will attempt to carry Immolandra with him if she still lives, flying up to the altar in order to reach her.  The summoning has left him weak, so his attacks are made with disadvantage.  He cannot summon devils.  If any of the PC's are descendents of House Nowyki, he offers to give them the kingdom if they serve him.  PC's that join the fiend may be carried by him to their escape.

The fire elemental fights until defeated, or until a PC subdues it.  Any magic user may use their action to enter a contest with the elemental, using their primary magic ability score vs the Fire Elemental's Constituion score.  The first success a PC has stuns the elemental, making it unable to act until it breaks free from the controlling magic.  The elemental will attempt to break free on its turn by initiating another contest.  If the same PC already has the elemental under their control, they may use another action to banish it back into the anthracite.   

Exploring the temple, the PC's may come across the back room which details the various ritual components Immolandra received to fuel her summoning ritual.  The caves along those areas lead to deeper portions of the Underdark, and the rock walls no longer burn, due to the veins of anthracite ending.  Exploring these caves leads down into the Underdark and may be another source of adventure to find out who exactly was supplying Immolandra with the ritual supplies she needed.

The PC's may escape the mines after the final battle.  They encounter no hostilities, but see that the fiend has destroyed even more of the Burning, perhaps even sending a taunting message to the party as he plans to rally his army and rule. 

----------

The maps used in this adventure for the mines can all be found in the map pack Fantastic Locations: Hellspike Prison.  The outdoor map can be any location deemed appropriate, though the Monster Vault 2 has a nice forested area to use.

The miniatures used can all be found from the Dungeon Command sets Sting of Lolth (for Immolandra), Tyranny of Goblins (for the Horned Devil), and Blood of Gruumsh for all the orcs.  Two sets of Blood of Gruumsh is especially useful with all the orcs used.  Any large Fire Elemental miniature works, but the Reaper Bones one was cheap and has a great glowing effect.

 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

House Nowyki

"The way is shut.  It was made by those who are Dead, and the Dead keep it.  The way is shut."
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

As a runner, one has to find ways to pass along the time as all those miles are logged.  My good friend and I have spent many a long run (8+ miles) discussing our own fantasy world.  This was before I had discovered D&D, and had my creative outlets put on hold in life.  So, for me, these runs were just little glimpses into the wider world I would jump back into building with my friends.
As I've continued to playtest D&D Next, I've been able to flesh out other areas of the world, one of them being a currently unnamed kingdom that has fallen into ruin.  I've decided to put down the thoughts and explanations of the world in order to add a basic primer to what I'm running in the campaign.  Feel free to use this post as inspiration in your own gaming world.

The history of this Dying Kingdom lies in a small island nation.  Many centuries ago, the first ancestors of House Nowyki conquered the lands and claimed them for their own.  They built many great keeps and fortresses, turning the island into a self-sustaining nation that assisted the outside world.

Slowly though, the kingdom fell, slowly being destroyed from inside by renegade factions and civil war.  Worship turned from the angelic deity Umbaria to something more sinister.  The conquered creatures began rising in revolt, strengthened from outside observers who wished the noble house of Nowyki to fall.

Currently, House Nowyki maintains a few remnants of greatness it once held long ago.  A few cathedrals and chapels dedicated to Umbaria dot the landscape, while fallen fortresses have become overrun with monsters and fiends.
Godless Shrine by Cliff Childs 
 Umbaria, the angelic deity primarily worshipped by those of House Nowyki, inspires hope of the coming dawn and that darkness is only temporary to the light.  Historical accounts speak of Umbaria's angelic servants assisting House Nowyki as they conquered their lands and brought peace to their island nation.  However, the angels that assisted in the past have not been seen for decades.  Some wonder if the kingdom is too divided, or if Umbaria has simply turned her back in disgust with the kingdom.  The devout maintain that the land has been cursed, and that Umbaria's servants can no longer manifest into the lands they once protected.  Despite this upsetting observation, many aligned with House Nowyki still give their worship and service to Umbaria.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: While I have no pictures of Umbaria, I picture and base her off of Sheik and Midna from the Legend of Zelda.  There is also an Orzhov piece of art from Magic the Gathering that ties some things together.  Umbaria is tied to twilight, to light and darkness.  She needs to be garbed to appear as such.
SheikThe Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess Midna 
Deathpact Angel by Jason Chan 
 Out of all the structures that dot the landscape of the island nation, none are as prominent as the crypts.  Numerous and well decorated, their gigantic mausoleums hold dead royals and their servants.  A sect of clerics, known as the Collectors, scour the battlefields and collect any remains they find of House Nowyki and its allies.  They are then interred within the crypts, where they are sealed magically.  In times of great need, the dead are awoken, and an undead army of soldiers loyal to Umbaria and House Nowyki marches into battle.  The crypts also act as historical libraries, recounting the tales and deeds of those within.  Many magical items of legend lie within the vaults as well, buried with their owners so that they may wield them again if woken.  The crypts are sealed magically, only able to be opened with special keys held by the High Priests, or by powerful magical wards.  Despite the destruction that runs rampant across the lands, the magic the permeates the crypts has made them unable to be harmed by normal means.

Embedded image permalink 

The threats to the Dying Kingdom have continued to grow in alarming strength.  Many violent orc tribes have been united by a strong leader, and numerous fiends have begun to roam the lands, amassing their own armies.  More disturbing still are reports of a deviant group of paladins, once loyal to House Nowyki, seeking to bring about the final fall and rebuild the nation as they see fit.  Still others whisper about movement in the shadows, a darker power that stirs as the sun goes down on Umbaria's blessings...

The heir to the king of House Nowyki is a young paladin named Eric.  In his youth, he as known as 'the Handsome' and was believed to have Umbaria's blessings upon him as he sought to defeat many of the enemies that surrounded his land and kingdom.  However, he was betrayed by a close friend and now roams his kingdom in exile, seeking to help his people and right the wrongs committed to the lands of his ancestors.

Eric the Handsome, by P@

 And with that, I bring the short summary of the Dying Kingdom.  I'm currently writing another module for my players as they seek to discover other secrets and threats that are assailing the noble house of Nowyki.

Be sure to leave any comments below, or follow me on Twitter @artificeralf

Saturday, November 9, 2013

7 Questions with Sorcerer Blob



"Those who have power should restrain themselves from using it."
-Kit Fisto, Star Wars: The Clone Wars

This week, I interviewed Pierce, aka SorcererBlob.  I've enjoyed Pierce's artwork and just sending tweets back and forth discussing things like Star Wars and D&D games.  I wanted to learn more about his gaming experiences as well as how he got into doing so many drawings, so I asked him if he'd like to be interviewed for the blog.  He responded affirmatively, and away we went!  I really enjoyed taking the time to learn more about Pierce, and, as always, I learned that we have quite a few things in common.  Besides also being a Star Wars fan, he has spent a lot of time running a pirate themed campaign, just like some of the adventure that my group continually leads me to creating.  As an artist, he's also a big fan of comic books and the various characters that inhabit those pages.  And, like me, he's found himself immersed in adventure written by Bruce Cordell (he fought undead while I battled sahuagin).

And with that, let's get to the questions!

1. Could you please tell us a little about yourself?  How long have you been into gaming/D&D?  What other things do you enjoy doing?

Hey I’m Pierce and as you probably know, I go by Sorcerer Blob in various online gaming communities. I’m actually something of a newcomer to gaming in general. I was always curious about D&D growing up, but my mom had bought into the “Satanic Panic” of the 80s and early 90s, so it was expressly forbidden. I did however find ways to skirt that by reading the original Dragonlance trilogy and playing computer games like Icewind Dale, Baldur’s Gate, and Neverwinter Nights, among others.

It wasn’t until 2007 when I started working with some guys who would get together every weekend to play some 3rd Edition D&D. I would listen to their stories and tales and just game-talk in general. I went from lightly teasing them to listening intently. Eventually they invited me to come around for a session and play with them. I was pretty wary. I had only just become open about my lifelong love of comics, so suffice it to say I was pretty shy about the nerd-side of things in my life! Anyways, to make a long story short, I went and gamed with these guys and, while confused and overwhelmed by the rules, I fell in love.

Since that fateful session in 2007 I’ve played a large number of different games and systems and I’ve tried to expand my tastes and skills as both a player and DM as much as possible. For a couple of years I actively posted on my now-defunct blog, Legend4ry D&D (http://legend4rydnd.blogspot.com/). Legend4ry was an attempt to bring an old school sensibility to modern gaming, namely 4th Edition D&D. I had a lot of fun with while it lasted, participating in a number of blog carnivals and doing a number of old school conversions. I may revisit some day and try to bring that feeling to other games as well.

When I’m not gaming or doing gaming-related things, I am an avid reader. I have three over-flowing bookshelves and need at least two more to safely house my personal library. I also draw, occasionally paint, go to my alma mater’s football games, and many other, “normal” social activities. Putting it into words makes me realize that I’m a little boring!



2. What's the history behind all the drawings you do?  Could you expand on this a bit and let the community know where to follow it or view your work?  Also, do you take requests/commissions?

I have been drawing for as long as I can remember. My dad taught me how to connect basic shapes to create something else at a very early age and it’s something I’ve loved doing since. Growing up, my drawings primarily focused on the comic book and super heroic side of things. I have “created” so many super heroes in my lifetime that I don’t even know where to begin counting.

Since I started fantasy gaming, however, that’s where I’ve been drawing more and more. There is just something about fantasy art work that is more fun and more freeing, at least to me! I’ve also found that depending what I’m reading or watching at the time has its influences as well. Someday I’ll master drawing the cowboy hat, someday!

Right now I post a lot of sketches and rough drawings on Twitter (@Sorcerer_Blob). Primarily the stuff I put up on Twitter is just rough doodles and stuff I do for fun or to get some pen-time in for the day. I also love to post pictures I’ve drawn from gaming up on Twitter, as well. When I’m a bit more serious and in the mood to flesh a piece out, I usually post it on my Tumblr, Art by Blob (http://sorcererblob.tumblr.com/). I’m also slowly working on a long-form web-comic story that doesn’t really adhere to a schedule called Letters from Promethea (http://lettersfrompromethea.tumblr.com/).

As far as commissions go, the idea only was planted in my head fairly recently, so I’m pretty new to the game in that regard. But, if anyone is interested they can contact me on Twitter or via email (sorcererblob at gmail). 



3. What significance does all your artwork have in your game sessions?  Does it make things more immersive?  Would you recommend that every playgroup try to have some sort of art collaboration in order to create a more positive gaming experience?

When it comes to drawing for game sessions, whether as a player or a GM, I am always drawing and sketching. This is especially true when I’m running games.

I think art goes a long way in helping players connect with the game world and make it seem more tangible. I can go on a long exposition describing a structure or a person, for example, but at the end of the day, no matter how thorough I am, there will always be something missing from it. I find good art in gaming really gives a good unified understand of what something is.

I definitely think that art, whether hand-drawn or found on the internet, makes a gaming experience more immersive. Typically I’d suggest finding or drawing pieces of important NPCs and locations. Knowing what the old and haggard tavern keep who has ingratiated himself into your party, for instance, makes him seem more real and can really help tie a player to a location or a player in-game.

For my own personal game sessions I really like to draw everyone’s characters for them. Sometimes my view of their character and their view clash, but that’s part of the fun in seeing how differently a character and their actions are perceived. I also really enjoy drawing out important scenes and locations and have found that providing a physical drawing of in-game puzzles really helps in understanding the magnitude of certain in-game elements. Lastly, I like to keep an active map during play, one that has the most basic of locations on it and is expanded as the game progresses. I’m a huge fan of ancient and historical maps, so often little sketches will pop up on these maps that give them some sense of character.

I guess to summarize, art only makes gaming a better experience for all involved!
 
4. Who has been your favorite character to play in a game and why?

I’ve played a lot of great characters in my relatively short gaming career, but if I had to nail it down to one I would have to go with the one that inspired my gaming handle, Sorcerer Blob.

Sorcerer Blob was the first character I had ever created in a table-top game. I had just got done playing a Barbarian, my first character ever that a coworker of mine had made for me. I enjoyed the Barbarian experience, but was looking to test myself and move into the mystical world of magic. Wizards in 3rd Edition D&D seemed just too complicated for me, so I settled on the Sorcerer.

I liked idea at the time that the Sorcerer, who is supposed to be a charismatic character, of being physically the opposite. A large guy who could charm just about anyone. My DM at the time loved it and thought it to be hilarious, and encouraged me to see it through. I was trying to come up with a name for this strange and contradictory character and fell back on love of comics. Fred “The Blob” Dukes is an evil mutant in the various X-Men series who is as large as his name would imply, and thus Sorcerer Blob was born.
 
The character was a learning experience. I had to learn the new rules-set that was 3rd Edition magic while still learning the basics of the system as well. We played through Expedition to Castle Ravenloft and I quickly learned that being a coward allowed ol’ Blobby to live to the final confrontation with Strahd (who ended up being a total push-over.)

While I’ve played other characters that were fun and memorable, I’ll never forget the Sorcerer Blob and how it was the trial by fire I needed to finally and completely “get” table top gaming.


5. What was the best adventure that you ever personally ran?  What made it so great?

This is a hard question to answer as I’ve ran a lot of stuff, from one-shots to short adventures to full-on campaigns.

I had a lot of fun running a campaign set in 4th Edition’s Nentir Vale that I called “An Undead New World,” riffing off of Aldous Huxley’s famous novel. I had used Keep on the Shadowfell to introduce some gaming neophytes to D&D and immediately got them hooked. They wanted more when the module ended. I had never ran a full campaign before, so it was definitely a learning experience in trying to balance telling a story and giving them options and opportunities to influence the world and events. It was a head-ache, but it was a lot of fun, too. I learned a lot about my play-style as a DM and improved a lot from it, having gained confidence in my abilities and finally learning how to improvise on the fly. Despite it being a pretty cliché “save the world” campaign with lots of moral gray choices, we all had a lot of fun with it.

While the above was a learning experience, I think that the best campaign I’ve ever run is actually one that ended up being abandoned because of scheduling conflicts. It was the campaign immediately after “An Undead New World,” and we all wanted something light and less serious. I cooked up an idea for a pirate-themed campaign and off we went. We had a one-shot to set the tone and then after the players were tasked with creating the world. I had some say in it, too, but overall the islands, gods, and cultures they created were what we focused on. This was my first experience with collaborative world-building and it was largely positive. I drew a lot of art for this campaign and worked on a custom map for the group and it was a lot of fun. We played the campaign episodically with the idea that it would be sort of like Grand Theft Auto meets Firefly. They would travel the Ancient Seas as pirates, looking for work, taking on odd jobs, and trying to prevent a civil war all the while steering clear of the Imperial Trade Navy. It was a blast.

Eventually the campaign took a dark turn as one of their contacts accidentally gave them some bad information that led to their deaths. A second crew was raised, but it didn’t quite feel the same or capture the freebooting spirit of the first crew. After some talking, we got together to think of a way that made sense that the first crew was still around. I thought long and hard on it and had a crazy idea, the characters had died fighting an ancient goddess they had accidentally awoken, but instead of killing them, she had pushed them through time to the primeval past of the Ancient Seas. I pitched the idea to the group, they would be forced to travel through time to get back to the present, all the while changing the past and effecting the future. We’d switch off occasionally with the second crew to see what time traveling crew had done. While traveling through the different ages of the world we would be changing mechanics, too, using time travel as an excuse to introduce this group to the various editions of D&D.

It was an ambitious campaign that died down due to busy season for my players as they are all accountants. I’d love to revisit the world and the concept some time, as those sessions were an incredible amount of fun for everyone involved.
 
6. From some of your tweets, I've seen that you're playing a Star Wars: Edge of the Empire game.  Can you tell us about your character in that game and why you decided to play them?  Bonus points: tell me who your favorite Star Wars character is and why.

I am loving Star Wars: Edge of the Empire. This is the first Star Wars RPG that I’ve played, and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it with my bi-weekly group.

I ended up deciding to play a Droid. I liked the idea of Droids in general and have read some pretty awesome (and crazy) fan theories online about both Artoo and Threepio and their influence on the Star Wars world at large. I also liked that mechanically speaking they could be customized to be whatever you wanted.

I had a crazy idea of an old Clone Wars era Droid that had liberated itself from the shackles of its human oppressors and had done so by building its own chassis. So, Mark-S3 was born, a piece-meal scouting Droid who is trying to start a Droid rights rebellion and has no problem cannibalizing fallen Droids for parts. It recently came out in play that if he can’t get a Droid to see the light, he has no problem “liberating” them by incorporating their memory chips with his own, which is a scary thought and one that my fellow players find hilarious and encourage.

As for the bonus round, my favorite Star Wars character has to be Kit Fisto, a Clone Wars era Jedi. Honestly, I didn’t know much about him as a character before I saw an action figure of him and thought he looked awesome. So I did some reading about him and watched him be amazing in Genndy Tartakovsky’s short-lived Star Wars: Clone Wars series, which is worth watching period.



7. What advice do you have to young artists, or maybe adults who are trying to better their skills?

I know it sounds cliché, but draw. Practice and practice more. Put yourself out there to get critiques, people are going to see things that you don’t catch. The Twitter RPG community is full of great folks who will look over your stuff and comment and critique. Even if you never have aspirations of making a web-comic, a lot of web-comic artists are on Twitter. Follow them, read their stuff, strike up conversations with them. I’ve leaned hard on Wesley from the NamelessPCs webcomic (@NamelessPC) and James Stowe from Sidekick Quests (@JamesStowe) for advice and critiques among others, for example.

I know that there is a common tip for aspiring writers to read and read a lot, especially the stuff that interests you the most. This is also true for drawing. Read a lot of comics, from print to on the web. Look at figure sketches, look at classical art. The more art you take in on a daily and weekly basis the more it will influence the artistic and stylistic decisions that you make. I see a lot of cool comics out there whose style I really connect with. While I’m not going to try and emulate their style whole-cloth, I can learn a lot from them and better hone my own personal style.

And I touched on it above, but really put yourself out there. Push yourself to try things that you are not comfortable with. I recently participated in 24 Hour Comic Day (http://www.24hourcomicsday.com/) and I wasn’t sure I could make it or even have the skill to pull it off. But, I did it. I was way out of my comfort zone and in G+ Hangouts all day with artists that I really admire. I learned a tremendous amount about the limits of my own skills and how and where to push them to improve.

But all of the above doesn’t matter in the long run. The best advice for any aspiring artist out there, including myself, is to never give up. You are going to see people out there who are better than you, but don’t get discouraged. Push yourself harder. When I was a kid my dream job was to illustrate comics for a living. And while that dream will likely never be a reality for me, I will always push myself towards that goal. Even if it doesn’t happen, I will have made art that I’m proud of along the way and made myself better for it. 

-----

As a side note, I found out that I was able to interview Blob right around the time of his birthday.  This gem of a birthday cake was posted on Twitter, and I just wanted to add it to the blog.  We get to see the Lich King in all his glory!  Happy Birthday Pierce!  @sorcerersbride did a great job!


Be sure to leave any interesting comments below, and be sure to follow Pierce on Twitter @sorcererblob !  Comments can always be directed to me @artificeralf