Thursday, January 28, 2010

2ed Monster Art

After my Old School days of D&D I moved into AD&D and eventually AD&D 2ed. One of the things that really grabbed me about the 2ed Monstrous Compendium was their gracious inclusion of the blank monster sheets, complete with picture frame. It didn't take much before I was photocopying these sheets by the truck load and filling the picture frames with any creature I could imagine. Done in pencil they have a bit more character and depth than the inked stuff I have been doing recently.

Most of them never even got official stats - just a picture and a monster name. I have included a few of the pieces of art here along with their monster names. Most of them came from my original campaign world which had many recognizable regions/nations based off of Earth cultures to one degree or another but others were based on strange ideas, spooky themes, or in some cases a miniature I had found.

I have posted a few here with the original text I had accompanying them in their description and then a few design notes to tell you where I was coming from when I made them.



Dwarf, Erin
"Much different than their tunnel-dwelling kin, the dwarves of Erin are no hairier than humans, have larger eyes, and  large, pointed ears. They dress in a manner similar to their human neighbors and speak their own dialect of the local human tongue as well as a highly modified version of dwarvish."

Design Notes: These dwarves were inspired by Ukko and his maktes from the "Slaine" comics. In my game world I credited their distinct appearance to a crossing between drwaves and faeries in the ancient past.

"Woodlings are diminutive creatures thought to be related to gnomes. They average three feet in height, have somewhat exagerated facial features, and little hair. They dress in shabily-made tunics and articles of clothing found laying about."

Design Notes: Woodlings were my attempt to work a more classical interpretation of a spriggan into my games. I remembered reading someplace that spriggans were noted for getting meaner and stronger the more they drank and so I worked that ability into their stats.

Troll, Mountain
"Mountain trolls are tall, upright trolls with wirey yet powerful builds and slightly over-sized heads. Their hair ranges in color from rusty brown to black, hanging long and tangled about their shoulders. Their skin color ranges from a yellow ochre to an earthy brown while their sunken eyes are always a blazing red."

Design Notes: I have always loved classic Scandinavian trolls and the portrayal of trolls in D&D as savage and bestial creatures never sat quite right with me. My answer was the mountain troll. The mountain troll was not so much named for their topographical displacement but more as a nod to the old Mountain King story. They were distinguished from other trolls by their use of armor, inability to regenerate and the need for magical weapons to do damage to them. They also wielded powerful magic and used "lesser" trolls as fodder.

Uruth Hanur
"The 'Protecting Dead' appear as ghostly dwarven warriors, appearing much as they did in life. Transluscent beings they are clad in gleaming chainmail and weild mighty warhammers and sturdy shields. They speak in a rasping, tortured voice befitting their undead nature."

Design Notes: This monster came about when I realized that D&D seemed curiously devoid of demi-human specific undead. Sure you could have a dwarven ghost or a halfling vampire, but these were all demi-humans in appearance falling into familiar human folklore and beliefs. The Uruth Hanur were developed to fit int othe philosophy and culture of the dwarves in my game world, guarding over their ancestral homes with a vengeful begrudging zeal that made no dungeon explorers safe from their ire.


  1. Cool! Man you can draw much better that I can!

  2. It helps if your mother uses drawing as a way to keep you quiet at the table from the time you can hold a pencil or pen.

    If only I had been able to get some formal training to go with the talent I've been blessed with.

  3. Cool! I love the Monstrous Compendium even if I'm not a big fan of 2E.

    As far as training goes, just pick up a copy of How To Draw The Marvel Way. It's got everything you need to know.

    I started drawing when I was two. My parents would give me a pen and I would draw on paper placemats at restaurants. I went to school for art but I don't think it enhanced my abilities. Just keep drawing every day and you'll get better every day. I'm still learning new techniques all the time.

  4. I like the Mountain Troll and the Uruth Hanur the best.

  5. Sounds like we have similar background and upbringings. But we've already discussed our kindred interests.

    I think the things that come from formal schooling and training, even if you don't consciously use them or use your own version of them, are technique and process.

    I can recall sitting at a local cafe that is famous as a night time hangout for the college and alternative crowd, where they provide paper and crayons to the tables and post your art. Anyhow, my buddy, a trained artist, and I would sit and draw while we ate and drank coffee and sodas. I recall that he always seemed to have much better luck getting is ideas to come out of his pen than I.

  6. Mountain Troll is my favorite, but they are all cool.


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