Sunday, 31 May 2009

Works in progress

A couple of previews of things/sketches I've been working on recently... (since this blog has been rather quiet of late).

The first is an early-stage sketch of wereduck s(w)ord sage of Lhankor Mhy. I'd had a few ideas on this subject and--if I didn't already have enough on my plate--decided to doodle them out by way of exploration. Strapped to his back is Shrumgiglorbb, the magic sword of the fungal Black Elves. It's made of rotting wood and its pommel is a large mushroom that glows in different colours. (I was mostly sober when I came up with that bit.)

The second is a quick scan of a work in progress, entitled: "The Upland Marsh is a great place for a picnic."

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Once upon a time...

As Mongoose's Ducks: Guide to the Durulz will be with us soon, I've started pondering Second Age ducks. I've never given them that much thought before now. This is largely a function of Gloranthadom's debate on the origin of the Dragon Pass ducks (do they date back to the Dawn or are they one of Delecti's creations?), a question I've never really felt the need to know the answer to. And even if I do lean against the Delectiite hypothesis when pushed, I think it's great fun and would never wish to purposefully contradict it.

I still don't know what answer Mongoose will provide, but started doodling anyway. This is my impression of a Second Age wereduck warrior (sepia-tinted, naturally!). Many of the usual motifs I like to use are all there, but I tried to make him look a little more noble(!) and edified(!). The stylised mollusc-helm, leaf-shaped shield and armoured mantle are present. This time I went for a coat of laminar armour, which I think works quite well.

I ummed and ahhed over incorporating any EWF symbology, but ultimately decided against. Don't be surprised, however, if the next time you see this image it is flipped on its vertical axis...

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

King Thunderthroat

It's been a while since I posted some new stuff, but I've just finished off some art for Newt's next issue of Hearts in Glorantha. This here picture is of King Thunderthroat (being the fourth of that ilk), who died bravely at Grizzly Peak. Maybe. He wears a snailhelm, marked with his royal cartouche (egg-shaped, naturally).

Tuesday, 24 June 2008


Finally finished off that last piccy for Newt's Hearts in Glorantha, today, which I've been keeping him waiting for for too long. I even brought my scanner to California for that purpose. (It's not as if they don't have technology in CA, obviously--rather more that I didn't feel comfortable asking the staff at the rather genteel Huntington if I could use a scanner to copy an image of an anthropomorphic duck charioteer with her doobies hanging out.)

I notice that I've forgotten a few details, but I can't prevaricate any longer... 'tis done! I'm looking forward to seeing the 'zine, and hope it's the first of many. I also hope it can add a little of the, dare I say it, cultured insouciance that I like in Gloranthan fan publications.

With the opening up of the 'official' writing process in particular, I worry that there is too great a pretension to worth and acceptability in the community. Write what you enjoy--if folks like it, great; if they don't like it, that's great too. It's a make-believe world wherein you pretend to be tapirs and ducks, after all.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Did you know (II)...

... that in the mid-1600s S.T. many durulz started wearing wigs?

At least a couple of the various individuals denoted 'Argrath' spent some time to the east of Dragon Pass, in and around Pavis and the Wastelands of Prax. When they went west to fight in the Hero Wars and reclaim Sartar, they brought some of their Praxian friends and allies with them.

A quick recollection of the most famous birds of Prax will suggest one common characteristic: they're all bald. Condors, vultures, the ostriches rode by their pygmy masters--all distinctly lacking in hair on the head and neck. Even if they do possess some hair, it's at most a very faint layer of down, or a basal neck frill.

There are varying suggestions as to why this might be the case, ranging from mundane practicality to legends of vindictive spirits. Perhaps the latter has some truth to it, for there are tales that some of the wereducks that fled to Prax (in the aftermath of the fall of Boldhome in 1602 S.T., or Starbrow's Revolt in 1613 S.T.) started going bald, too.

This correspondence appears to have been transferred to Dragon Pass in the later 1620s S.T. Many ducks serving alongside ostrich-rider mercenaries started to moult. No-one's entirely sure why, but moult they did. The effect was largely limited to the head and neck feathers, though in some wereducks spread to the shoulder feathers (scapulars), too.

Now, durulz are quite proud of their plumage--especially your average mallard--and this came as a horrible shock. As the moulting spread, many sought ways to hide this displumagement. The answer? The feathered periwig.

Created from moulted feathers and down, these quite elaborate constructions soon became articles de rigueur for any self-respecting durulz, balding or not. Most tended to reach down to the scapulars, but some went even further. A few 'stylish' individuals sought feathers other than their own, from wondrous birds in far-off lands. The aesthetics of such are open to interpretation.

The moulting eventually stopped, but for a few decades this strange little people became a little stranger.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Introducing... Runk Squallheart!

An early sketch of Runk Squallheart, the Basmoli duck.

I've no idea where this came from, and still less where it's going. No place of any great salubrity or merit, likely.

But I wonder if Runk might yet have a few tales to tell...

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Dungeons & Ducks: the Durulz Penal System

(I'd have liked to do this in-character, but have far too much on at the mo' to do it justice. Hopefully some day I can revise this into a little story.)

Male wereducks can possess somewhat peculiar notions in regard to attentiveness to duty. Combine this with their natural affinity for all things wet and muddy, and conjured mental images of their gaols look distinctly unappealing. Sadly, that's about as good as it gets.

For those durulz living along the shores of the Upland Marsh, a typical gaol takes something of the following pattern. Bound wooden cages, made from a variety of (often poorly) treated local woods and usually about four- to six-foot square, are sunk into the dank, swampy waters. The degree to which the cages are submerged varies: anything from six inches to two feet of 'air room' might be allowed, and is usually dependent on such factors as local subsidence, sedimentation and the strange ebbs and flows of that unholy mire.

The end result looks much like those part-submerged prisons in Flash Gordon (1980) and The Deer Hunter (1978). [I never thought I'd mention those two in the same sentence...]. A single hatch in the top allows access, and cages are usually fixed by ropes or stilts (though not a few come adrift). A dungeon may consist of but one cage, or up to half a dozen, spread over an area fifty to a hundred feet in diameter. As wereducks can swim, there is usually no easy land route to the gaols.

As many as a dozen or more individuals can be thrown into these foetid prisons, and they can be quite cramped. Combined with the filthy, freezing water and the Marsh's menagerie of slithering, biting and buzzing pests, this all adds up to a pretty miserable experience. Or so one would think.

Wereducks, however, seem to be able to survive these gaols for long stretches. Their natural affinity with the Water rune, smallish size, buoyancy and the smelly natural oils excreted through days of incarceration, make them better able to weather the conditions. Furthermore, for durulz, there's food aplenty. From grubs and eels to pondweed and subaqueous fungi, there's always plenty to stave of starvation, and usually enough to support a rather adequate diet.

Indeed, this is a problem for incarcerated non-ducks, particularly humans, as the wereducks don't feed their prisoners. At all. As wereducks can subsist (un)happily, they really don't consider anyone else. Of course, in a full cage trolls can dine quite contentedly for a while! The squawks of angry fear as a troll is prodded along to the gaol are deafening, as each cage shouts that it's full and protests that the troll would be much better housed elsewhere. Drinking water is usually provided by the rain, caught by some bowl or bucket given to each cage.

Considering that the inhabitants of these dungeons are banged up in isolated cages, set amid various natural and unnatural dangers, and surrounded by swamp on all sides, they have a remarkable tendency to retain and/or acquire various items of contraband. From a sodden, half-smoked cigar (to be cut into eighths, elevenths or whatever denomination, naturally) to an old bottle of rotgut Lunar gin, it's remarkable what can be found.

The gaolers are rarely seen, except when bringing a new prisoner or (less frequently) dragging one out... dead or alive. The most frequent visitors are zombies, carnivorous giant toads and crocodiles. When the gaolers do come, it's usually to joke at the prisoners' expense and prod them with spears to make sure everyone's requisitely miserable. Or to negotiate various bribes, usually on behalf of the prisoners' acquaintences and nestfolk, who are substantially more liquid than their gaoled friends are.

You've never known hell until you've been stuck in a cold, wet, cramped cage submerged in a swamp, with naught but a posse of murderous, stinking, filth-ridden wereducks--squabbling over grubs, beaking your clothes for lice and fantasizing over naked Dancers of Darkness--for company.