Friday, 14 August 2015

Behind the scenes: The Trolls of Mistwood

The Trolls of Mistwood was an idea that came to me when I was a player back in 3rd edition. My character, a paladin named Gabrius Helmson, led the party on a rescue mission into a troll cave. The party was high level and we'd kicked a shadow dragon's butt - so we were feeling pretty cocky. So we marched straight down the main tunnel without scouting or investigating the side tunnels. BIG MISTAKE. When the trolls emerged from the tunnels, our only means of retreat was cut off and we were annihilated. Trolls, I decided, should never be underestimated.

The idea of a village under siege by trolls seemed like a killer idea to challenge a party but it didn't have much of a story. But as the adventure was written it evolved into the tragic curse story that drives the adventure. I enjoyed the process so much I planned a sequel before I had even finished the first. If you have purchased The Trolls of Mistwood (thanks) you might notice little hints and hooks that play out in the sequel. Hags, trolls, a curse and a swamp - that's the basis of this adventure and the next.

Now for the art. Sometimes when I get these ideas I start to visualise what I want the cover to appear like and out comes the pencil and paper. Below are some pieces that didn't make the final adventure and some that evolved into the final pieces.

Here is the original pencil drawing of the cover.
It didn't change much as you can see.
The trolls themselves took a bit of time to lock down for how I wanted them to be. I love the look of first edition Dnd trolls but (SPOILERS) the trolls in the adventure aren't your normal trolls and Pathfinder had seemed to go the way of the Weta trolls, so I tried a few different looks that ranged from The Lord of the Rings trolls to naked pube troll (that's what I call him).
I also designed what the hags faces looked like - in the adventure Glyndel, Gillara and Necrosa are only seen in silhouette in the adventure but originally I wanted to show each of their faces to show their character further. Here below are the faces of the Gravic Swamp coven.
Above is Glyndel (as well as some troll concepts urgh). As the youngest and most 'attractive' and nice, I limited her ugliness. Bellow are the vicious Gillara on the left and the bloated Necrosa on the right.
 Since they figure into Curse of Mistwood, I may develop their appearance further - they were originally witches but rapidly evolved into hags for the sake of the story. Their hut on Crone Island was also sketched but never made the adventure.
The swamp itself was also an interesting development, it had to be large enough to necessitate navigating but also include some exciting encounters - below are a series of sketches and details from myself and then Brian as we developed the environs.

My original brief to Brian:
Brian's development:
As you can see - Brian is a true artist! Have a look at what he did with this sketch I gave him of Mistwood:
His version:
And further still:
Well, that's about it for what I'm going to share today - please ask any questions you like. If you enjoy this kind of post, I can certainly share a bunch of ideas and art that didn't make Feast of the Preserver. Cheers for now.

The Trolls of Mistwood is available to purchase at a very affordable price at the link below:
Trolls of Mistwood $6.99 only!

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