MAGIC MAT Commission

My friend Reuben plays ‘Magic the Gathering.’ I don’t know much about Magic (other than it involves cards with pictures of monsters on them), but some players apparently use a ‘place mat’ (sort of like a giant mouse pad) to lay their cards on. Reuben had a blank one and wanted me to illustrate something on it — he had another one that his wife had done for him and wanted to add to his collection. His only request was that the ‘focus’ of the work should be in the upper 1/2 to 2/3rds of the mat — apparently he likes to lay his cards along the bottom side of the mat, so if everything worth looking at is down there, it will soon get covered with cards.

I promised him I would make him a wonderful mat right away and then stuck it in a drawer and forgot all about it for about a year. The other day I decided to get off my ass and make the mat. I soon discovered that the rubbery, synthetic mat material does not take paint at all well — so after some experiments I started painting with the air brush.  The air brush is not a tool I have used very much, but if you can see in this picture, I used a ‘frisket’ (which is a sticky, clear material) to block off parts of the mat that I didn’t want paint to get on, then sprayed one color with the airbrush, cut a new frisket to mask off other parts, painted with another color, etc.  The mat didn’t take airbrush paint very well either, but it was at least better than the acrylic paint.  I also had a lot of trouble getting the frisket to stick to the mat, especially when I was trying to get it to stick to a part I had already painted:

The mat absorbed the paint in unexpected ways, so the flames behind my barbarian didn’t quite turn out how I wanted.  Live and learn. The colors also lost a lot of intensity by absorbing into the cloth.

Here  is the mat with frisket removed. OK – now it’s starting to look like something!

Raaaawr! I’m gonna chop yer head off! Since my other tools did not work very well on the synthetic fabric, I finished it up with magic marker:

Mister Morkoth!

Mister Morkoth!

Edit: I did the above drawing a while back and was inspired to go ahead and post it by Eli Arndt’s drawings of the Morkoth in this online artists group. I think Eli’s morkoths look a lot more plausible (and dangerous) than mine — mine looks like a goofy parrot face on an octopus with little wings. If fried and breaded would it taste like chicken or calimari?

I based my drawing on the Morkoth drawing from the 1e Monster Manual by David Sutherland III:

I guess I was never convinced by the 4 tentacle-like limbs positioned like human arms and legs on the original morkoth drawing… so I tried putting the 4 limbs on the bottom in mine… but 4 didn’t seem like enough limbs so I added more in the back, making him more octopus-like. I kept the bullet-shaped head and angry Tweety Bird face… plus I added the spiral-hypno background. I’m not convinced I’ve figured out a better way of portraying / thinking about the morkoth with this drawing. Eli Arndt’s drawings suggest a morkoth who is more like a cross between an insect and an octopus with a toothed fish mouth, which definitely seems more creepy.
I also like Tony DiTerlizzi’s morkoth from the 2e Monster manual:

The morkoth seems to be one of those creatures who has never really gotten his (her? its?) due. The idea of an ‘underwater minotaur’ kind of appeals to me. Perhaps Sigismund the Sea Monster would make a good morkoth?

Or maybe not.

Wizards does maps right!

My friend Jon C. just sent me links to these utterly fantastic narrative maps of Tomb of Horrors and White Plume Mountain made by an artist working for Wizards of the Coast. Its been decades since I adventured within these classics, but I was surprised at how much I remembered — White Plume Mountain, in particular, made a big impression… especially that room with the swinging chain platforms over the pit of boiling mud.

I don’t know if this sort of map would be practical for every purpose, but I love the 3d representation and the way you instantly understand the relationship between the different heights/depths on this kind of cut-away map. But I’ve always loved cut-away views of buildings, ships, etc. Witness my maps from Aldeboran that I posted in 2011. Not pretty or precise, but you get a sense of how the levels fit together (edit: I intended to say my maps from Tana Tak were not pretty — I think the Wizards maps below are plenty pretty).

Click images to see bigger:


Puffer Fish and Plant Fiber Armor

I was reading about Nauru and found this fascinating picture of a Nauruan warrior from around 1880:

His armor appears to be woven from some sort of coaconut fiber or jute and his helmet is made from a puffer fish. I found another picture of the type of helmet:

And someone in a museum looking at another example of the armor — look at the spear/sword weapon:
And a couple other examples of armor made from plant fibers. I really like the helmet on the one on the left:
And then, finally, this picture… which is probably not from some Native Pacific culture but is possibly some weirdo Euro bondage gear… or maybe a suit for protection from weasels of something:



A while back, Grognardia was working on collecting a book of fantasy gods made from descriptions and illustrations contributed by the masses which was to be called ‘Petty Gods’— a tribute to the old “Unknown Gods” published back in the day by Judge’s Guild (I still have my copy of ‘Unknown Gods’ squirreled away). At some point, the project stalled and Grognardia retreated from the public scene. Most people thought it was a shame because the contributor work had all been all or mostly done — someone said it just needed layout and editing and the book was just in limbo (which reminds me — I have several things to finish, but that’s another subject for another post).

Greg “Gorgonmilk” has been working on getting the stalled ‘Petty Gods’ book back up and running. To that end, Greg started trying to get in touch with the original contributers and re-assemble the book (or a close facsimile thereof)… and new suggestions for godlings, godlets and other divine beings began pouring in. Which is great because:
a) The ‘Petty Gods’ book was so far along that letting it stall seems a shame,
b) Rather than just pissing and moaning, Greg grabbed the gorgon by the horns and milked it! He got off his ass and did something… which is something we need more of in this world.

Now it seems that the original manuscript for Petty Gods has been discovered and released via free PDF! Get it from GORGONMILK here! The new contributions will apparently be assembled into another volume! It’s an Easter miracle! Thank the Rabbit God! Praise his chocolate eggs! And thanks to Gorgonmilk for lighting the fire that made it happen.

I didn’t get in on Petty Gods 1, but will contribute to the 2nd one. I have some illustrations of some divine beings based on an Arthur Maachen story (written up by Geoffrey McKinney) that I just finished (they need to be scanned) and am trying to contribute my own Petty God… a (very) minor deity named ‘Pafflum’ from my own Aldeboran campaign.

The above picture is a scene from some play about Mormonism. I think those are the ancient ‘Lamanites.’ Looks like something that would happen on Aldeboran. Although on Aldeboran it would probably involve a lot more stabbing and head chopping.