Starting a new weekly feature on this blog: Tabletop Tuesday! Wherein, I will geek out heavily on all things related to tabletop roleplaying games. It was such a strong part of my storytelling development, and continues to be the best way to creatively defragment my brain between professional writing gigs. Maybe we’ll sneak in storytelling lessons in there too.
If this isn’t in your wheel house of interests, feel free to skip to our other irregularly scheduled posts. If it isn’t, but your curious, dive right in and ask any of the thousand questions that might occur.
Here we go!
The Forge of Heroes
We live in a miraculous world where you can imagine your RP character…and then manifest them! The Hero Forge website allows you to design characters (much as you would in some video games) and then have them 3D printed.
Even if you don’t shell out the money to bring every character to plastic life, you can still take screenshots or even share links to the 3D model with friends and fellow players (for free).
I recently started playing in a wacky Dungeons & Dragons game. Fun group of players and a very zany crew of characters. I decided to design them and splurge and surprise the whole table. Oh the surprise! Suddenly everyone was holding their imaginary character in their hands!
Here is our motley cast…
We are playing D&D 5 Edition. The setting is home-brewed by our Dungeon Master. Basic D&D setting, a little more Renaissance era flavor. Merchant families hold a lot of power. The lands have become very civilized in parts. Certain bestial races (like gnolls and minotaurs) have become domesticated and civil. Elves and Half-Orcs have drifted to the wilds. Dragons are long extinct. The Dragonborn have grown fat and lazy, thinking themselves better than everyone else (being the most dragon-ish thing out there), and ruling many of the monarchies and merchant dynasties.
Right. The party!
Baltazar Scalelord III
Race: Dragonborn (Subrace: Gold)
Class: Sorcerer (Subclass: Draconic Bloodline)
The leader of the party. At least, Baltazar thinks so. He is the son of the wealthy and powerful Lady Scalelord, so he’s better than you. He’s a Dragonborn, so he’s better than most. He’s of gold dragon blood, so he’s even better than his kin. Baltazar detests strenuous work. Luckily he’s a sorcerer, and magic is in his blood, so he doesn’t have to do all that tedious study (proving that he’s even more better than you). He knows the spell Tenser’s Floating Disk just so he doesn’t have to carry things.
His latest scheme involves becoming the manager of an up and coming wrestler and pit fighter. They will tour the countryside…make profit (Baltazar doesn’t understand how that works, but he knows he’s smart, so obviously it’ll work). This way, he won’t have to borrow money from mother dearest anymore.
Think Zapp Brannigan mixed with every clueless son of a noble.
Class: Bard (Subclass: College of Valor)
Tripod was built and animated as a very expensively commissioned pleasure bot for Lady Scalelord. Tripod resents this. He drinks to forget the things he’s seen! After her son nearly walked in on the proceedings, Lady Scalelord gave Tripod to Baltazar as his butler and entertainer. Baltazar still doesn’t understand what purpose Tripod had for his mother (whether out of sheer cluelessness or willful memory blocking is anyone’s guess). One might look at this chronicle as the story of a boy and his mother’s self-aware sex toy.
Tripod undercuts his master with withering comments at every turn, though Baltazar does not understand sarcasm (“Oh, my dear Tripod, you’re doing your funny talk again.”). Luckily, Tripod is pretty good at most things, as he has to do his master’s thinking often. Tripod has recently taken up a career in petty crime on the side, and builds his underworld contacts, as a way to subvert his servitude and serve his eternal quest of passive aggression towards the entire Scalelord family.
Tripod was built short, halfling sized, and he resents this most of all. More than anything, he wants to find a wizard or engineer who can make him tall. He wants people to call him Dirk Longstrider…but no one does.
Think Futurama’s Kif + Bender, with a dash of Adventure Time’s Peppermint Butler.
Mog “the Hog” Ma’Grogg
Class: Fighter (Subclass: Champion)
The heart and soul of the party. At least, Mog thinks so. Where Baltazar’s ego is lazy, Mog’s is active. His personality is bigger than his already huge frame. This godlike presence is what separates him from the common pit fighter. It’s why he’s going to have songs sung about him. It’s why people are going to buy his new line of hot sauce.
Mog has recently taken on Baltazar Scalelord as his manager. They are to tour the countryside, perform spectacles and wrestling matches, sell hot sauce, and perhaps do an epic deed or two.
For all his showboating, Mog can dish out. He’s already wrestled a werewolf (impervious to the party’s mundane weapons) into submission.
Think a kinder (if even more self-involved) Gaston + Beowulf, as a self-proclaimed folk hero and merchandizer.
Fenris the Reborn
Class: Cleric (Subclass: Life Domain)
Fenris was once a soldier, once fought side by side with her friend, Mog. Back then, she worshipped a war god. But she’s had a spiritual rebirth. Now she worships as a priest of Rao (god of peace, reason, and serenity). She is a healer and a pacifist these days. She is the party’s moral center. She is driven by faith…and her always growling stomach.
She’s been reunited with her old warrior friend. She travels with him so that her pacifism might rub off on him a bit. At least his entertainment fighting doesn’t involve death (usually).
Fenris was recently tested by facing the anathema to her life magic, the undead. She discovered that she could put the carrion stomach of her race to Rao’s purpose. Zombies cannot rise again and again, as unholy blights, if they are eaten.
Think Leslie Knope, as a carrion-eating holy person who’s pretty good with a quarterstaff.
Race: Halfling (Subrace: Stout)
Class: Barbarian (Subclass: Totem Warrior)
Background: Street Urchin
Shrike was born wrong — albino of skin and red of eye, ears too long and a mouth with too many teeth. His very proper halfling parents quietly cast him into the sewer. How did the babe survive? No one knows. He became just fast, strong, and vicious enough to thrive in the undercity. He went a bit mad in the process.
As a boy, Shrike crept into the basement of a theatre. Watching play after play is how he learned language. The little ghost of the theatre — the performers never saw him, but they were his family. He also has a now disgusting stuffed animal named Penethorn (the only thing he has from his parents, he does not realize the name stitched into the toy is his own) — his pet mouse lives in its buttonless eye socket.
Shrike is an urban barbarian. The city is his jungle. He’s the party’s most able killer. He was recently taken in by the cleric Fenris. She’s trying to teach him pacifism. He may scoff at her for that…but if anyone else talks bad about Fenris, he’ll rip their goddamn spleen out.
Think Conan + Tim Burton’s Penguin, with a dash of Disney’s Stitch, run through the filter of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.
Not a player character, but I needed to get our Dungeon Master a figure too. So here she is, the mother of Baltazar, the terror of Tripod (ugh!). Gaze upon her magnificent immenseness! Even her pet pseudodragon knows he’s better than you.
I got the figures 3D printed (in Hero Forge’s gray plastic). They turned out quite well. Certain tiny facial details get a little lost (that’s to be expected in such small figures), but otherwise there’s some fine detail on these figures. Below is a picture of three of them (one without flash and one with…forgive the focus). I definitely recommend Hero Forge, to make your character or give a fun gift to fellow gamers.
That’s all for now. Till next Tuesday, fellow gamers.