Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Hogwarts RPG Character illustrations

I've been playing a home-made Hogwarts RPG with some artist friends  at conventions after the con-floor closes. The system is a loose adaptation of some of Luke Crane's Burning Wheel mechanic of 6-sided dice rolled as pools. 1-2=failure dice, 3= 1/2 success dice, 4-5= successful dice, and a 6 is not only a success but can be rolled again to possibly add more successes. The Game Master sets an objective number for a task/obstacle/spell (ie: 3 successes) and based on their traits, their year level, house bonuses etc., the player rolls a certain amount of dice to try and achieve that objective. Most of the game isn't about rolling dice though, it's about solving puzzles, interacting with other players, unfolding a story, and meeting Non-Player Characters (NPCs).

An artist's favorite part of playing an RPG usually includes drawing the characters. And I'm no exception. So each session, I work on creating a visual for the players for at least one of the NPCs. For today's Blogpost (celebrating the date students should be departing Platform 9-3/4 and boarding the Hogwarts Express for the first day of school) I'm sharing the Character portraits for our adventure so-far.

Lukas Hadley: I'll start with my student NPC. Lukas is a Brave, Ambitious Mischivious 2nd year Gryffindor. While the other players start at 1st year, I created a 2nd year who would be able to reasonably show them the ropes or explain things to them in the game, but without being so advanced as to just be able to do difficult tasks for them. I made him a Gryffindor for two reasons. 1) I'm a Gryffindor and he's my representation in the game, and 2) Because they are in a different house, he won't always be there to help. Lukas had a pet toad named Olaf at the start of the adventure...but more on him later.

Theodore Thelonius Thadwick III: Theodore is Adam Withers' character (and this is his illustration of him). He's a short Compassionate, Clever, & Studious Ravenclaw first year. His family, who bully him a bit, are all Gryffindors, and he was relieved to be sorted into the house where "Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure." He has a pet pygmy owl he calls Captain Hootley and can often be found studying the daily prophet, books in the library, or his own notes to solve the mysteries of the adventure.
Symphony "Sparks" Chamberlain: Symphony is Comfort Love's character (and this is her illustration of her). Symphony is a first year tough, mischievous, leader who is not happy about being in Ravenclaw or even coming to Hogwarts at all. Her parents were supporters of you-know-who, and after his demise and their placement in Azkaban, she went to live with relatives just before coming to Hogwarts. She'd rather be with her Mom and Dad who she "knows" aren't evil. She's been in detention a few times, docked house points, and even summoned to the Headmaster's office for a talking-to. But, Symphony isn't giving up her idea that Hogwarts is a prison. 

Johnny Claire: Johnny is Jesse Glenn's character (and this is his illustration of him). He's a Mischivious, nimble, charming Ravenclaw first-year with a pet cat named Toblerone Bone. Johnny has purchased banned fireworks from Lukas, wandered the corridors at night, and burgled the Defense against the Dark Arts professor's office with Lukas taking a grey and wrinkled hand of glory. In the most recent session, Johhny found an old slip of parchment in his borrowed homework texts about a mirror on the 4th floor.

Jack Hume: Jack is Nate Pride's character (and this is his illustration of him). Nate started playing the game a few adventures in when Jesse couldn't join us. We explained the discrepancy with Jack being the patient zero of a Dragon Pox outbreak as soon as he arrived at Hogwarts. By the time Jack was getting well, the Jesse's character Johnny had contracted it and was in the hospital wing getting treatment. Jack is a compassionate, nimble, good-flying first year with a pet toad.

Gallus Draganov: Our game is taking place the first full school year after Harry's Parents are killed, when he is still a baby and Voldemort was "less than the meanest ghost". Snape has just arrived to teach this year, and so he is not the head of Slytherin House. I created Prof. Draganov to take that mantle. He is also the Defense Against the Dark Art Professor. The players have found that he is from somewhere in Eastern Europe that speaks with a vaguely Russian accent where he was an Auror (Dark Wizard Hunter). I wanted him to look cold and dapper. 

Silvanius Kettleburn: In this time period at Hogwarts, Hagrid did not yet teach Care of Magical Creatures. Up until Harry's third year it was taught by Professor Kettleburn (He retired to spend more time with his remaining limbs). There is some information about him through various Wikis and Pottermore, but I didn't find much of a description of him (other than the specifics of which limbs he is missing). So I blended Col. Mustard from Clue (1972 edition) and Warwick Roost from my Eleanor Oddbody pitch. Baby fire-crabs are crawling on his hat and shoulder to help illustrate his subject.

Baby Griffin: In the course of the adventure. A wounded baby griffin is found on the school's grounds. The players are trying to figure out what caused it's injuries and if it has any link to some muddy footprints that lead out from an upper window in the Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor's office. What is known is that the griffin ate Lukas' pet toad Olaf. Lukas has no love lost for the beast, which is being co-cared for by Prof. Kettleburn and Hagrid. Theodore (Adam's character) has christened the Griffin "Feathersby"

Margot Pebblebrook: This 6th year is the female prefect for Ravenclaw and she's also the captain of their Quidditch team. She is tired of the players talking chances that would ruin Ravenclaw's chances of winning the House Cup. In one session, Nate Pride's character, who is good at flying talked to her about possibly seeing if the rules could be bent for him to play on the house team...but since I don't want to contradict the Potter books, no first year will have played on the house team before Harry for about a hundred years and Nate's character Jack has become the equipment manager (giving him access to that equipment, including school brooms). Note: I went with the book's coloring of blue & bronze for Ravenclaw instead of the movie's blue and white/silver

Aaron A. Aaronson & Kelvin Slydil: With a school full of young witches and wizards, the players need to have some other character names/personalities to bounce off of. These two were characters I didn't give any forethought, but invented in the moments students were needed in the adventure. They are a bit stereotypical in their archetypes. Aaron is inexperienced and excitable while Kelvin is aloof and snotty.

Filius Flitwick: The familiar and diminutive Charms Professor has shown up many times in the adventure so-far. Not just because he's one of the player's teachers, but because he's also the Ravenclaw head of house. I tried to blend together both movie versions of the character (He was played by Warwick Davis, but after the 2nd movie underwent a dramatic makeeover/re-design) along with my own ideas about Flitwick.

Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore: At the start of the adventure, after the players and their fellow arriving first years traveled across the lake and into the Great Hall for sorting and the start of term feast, it was Dumbledore who gave the exposition for the adventure with his notices and speech. He introduced the teachers and waxed on about how the wizarding world had much to celebrate and recover from with the death last year of Voldemort. And on one occasion, so far, a player has been sent to see the headmaster's office.

Minerva McGonagall: So-far in the adventure, McGonagall's role has been to sort the first years and a few interactions in Transfiguration class. However, I think she could become a move important NPC as the sessions go on since she is both deputy headmistress and also head of Lukas' house (and therefore the disciplinarian when he ends up in trouble). For my drawing, I tried to avoid the Maggie Smith look and was instead inspire by photos of Margaret Hamilton, the acress who played the Wicked Witch of the West (as well as Ms. Gulch) in the 1939 Wizard of Oz.

Severus Snape: Besides Potions classes, Snape's most prominent part of the adventure has been when he filled-in for an absent Professor Draganov in Defense Against the Dark Arts. Symphony (Comfort's character) didn't care for his lesson, and so she wrote out suggestions on how he could improve his teaching...and presented it to him the next day at a meal in the great hall. Dumbledore, in a timely fashion, interrupted and escorted Snape off for a nightcap before he could really let Symphony have it (though he did turn the note to smoldering ash in his fingertips).

Rubeus Hagrid: The most enjoyable NPC for me to play. Having listened to the audio books (both Fry and Dale) I mimic the voice as best as I can while using the character for a bit of humor or help to the players. He's been excited to watch over and care for the wounded baby gryphon. This was my 2nd take on drawing Hagrid for the adventures. I abandoned an earlier version about half-way in because the expression and overall hair shape was just not who I saw as the character.

Argus Filch: The crotchety, student-hating, and gnarled Hogwarts caretaker has popped up a few times in the adventure, mostly to catch the players out-of-bounds in the castle or roaming around at night. For my drawing of him, I used reference from the actor who played him in the movies: David Bradley. I couldn't really think of any visual way to improve on that actor's portrayal of Filch, so I went with it.

Pomona Sprout: As head of Hufflepuff House, she's had little to do so-far in the game (No players or NPCs are Hufflepuff students), but she has made an appearance in teaching the players lessons about magical plants like Dragon's Snare. Part of the trouble of roleplaying Hogwarts lessons, is that Rowling doesn't elaborate on what students learn in several classes at various years, so unless I have a specific need for play players to know about a spell or plant, we often gloss over those lessons. For my depiction of her, I wanted to shift away from the movie actress to a friendlier face like that of character actress Pert Kelton (Music Man).

Cuthbert Binns: His classes in the books are described as boring and dull, so we don't spend much time roleplaying out anything happening in his class...usually it something like "In the afternoon you move from class to class, in History of Magic Binns droned on about a conference of troll lawmakers and it was briefly made entertaining when an escaped turtle sporting a teapot for a shell came meandering into the room from a transfiguration class." I looked at Michael Palin for my depiction of Binns.

Xanthus Reynard: A business man in the publishing of magical books and tomes. He also collects rare books and, at times opens up his usually locked shop for used books and parchments in Hogsmeade called "Reynards Rare Tomes and Scrolls". The players have yet to meet this character (though he's been referenced...so if Adam, Nate, Comfort or Jesse are reading this, it's their first glimpse of him.

Ragnod: This goblin is hiding out on one of the small islands in the lake. The 1st year players saw a light flickering somewhere across the water when they crossed the lake in the boats with Hagrid on their first night at Hogwarts. After finding a magical way of summoning boats once used for the now-defunct house crew teams, the players discovered this crusty and salty diminutive goblin with a campsite working away on goblin-made craft-works...notably defying the Code of Wand use from 1691 by crafting & testing wands himself.

Death Eaters: As this is taking place the year after Voldemort & Harry's parents were killed, there are still Death Eaters on the loose. Sure, many of them have been sent to Azkaban, or are on trial, or in hiding from Aurors...but that's not to say that a few brazen ones couldn't don their hooded masks and cause some chaos. And a few have been brazen enough to test the school boundaries when not making a mess of Hogsmeade.

Oleg the Salamander: in the latest session, the players found it odd that Lukas had been sneaking around with fire, most recently in a lantern he'd tuck away between classes). They discovered that to replace his deceased toad Olaf, Lukas had pilfered a salamander used for third year Care of Magical creatures classes. Salamanders will only live as long as the fire they are born from continues to burn. So Lukas keeps his new pet alive by keeping the flame lit in the lantern.

Vidad Treepens: The wandmaker I made up back when I started making and selling wands is an anagram of my name "David Petersen". Vidad has yet to appear in the RPG, but I know that he has a shop in Hogsmeade, and with so much going on with Ragnod and his wandlore, I felt it would be good to have a true wandmaker available to the players. For the portrait, I just used my own face for reference, gave him a hat and apron like the ones Alistair wears in Legends of the Guard (my printmaking mouse proxy in Mouse Guard) and a bow tie that I often wear in honor of my grandfather.

The 1st pencil version of Hagrid was my Art Drop Day piece for this year:

2015 Appearances:
Long Beach Comic Con: Sept. 12-13
Baltimore Comic Con Sept. 25-27
New York Comic Con Oct. 8-11
Art-Bubble Comics Festival: Copenhagen: Nov. 14-15


Dave Chapman said...

I started talking to WB about licensing a Harry Potter RPG a while ago, but alas it got to a point and then didn't get any further. It's the one RPG I feel is not only a brilliant idea, but also a great way to develop kids storytelling, imagination, teambuilding, cooperation and social skills.

I put a series of posts on my blog a couple of months ago detailing how I'd have loved to have seen the Harry Potter RPG go. Here's a link to the summary post that has links to the four that preceded it.

Your designs are simply amazing. Maybe one day... you never know. If ever you want to team up to try to convince WB again, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Dave Chapman
Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space (Cubicle 7)
Conspiracy X 2.0 (Eden Studios)
WILD (Autocratik)

DPetersen said...

Dave, I agree 100%. I'd heard a rumor that a certain big RPG/Gaming company was so confident that they'd be the one to get the license for an RPG, they went ahead and made one, mocked it up and presented it to WB only to find out, along with comics, RPGS are something J.K. wasn't interested in having made at all.

Unfortunately, those 2 off-the-list items are the one's I'd want to work on. I'd love to edit & contribute to a Magical World/Hogwarts comic anthology with stories that only peripherally bump into the main stories and characters. I have a collection of Harry Potter themed artwork by a bunch of my illustrator heroes and would love a book in that style by the likes of Jeremy Bastian, Cory Godbey, Eric Canete, Skottie Young, Nate Pride, Eric Muller, & more.

Here's a link to my collection thus far: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150361242654778.425640.562894777&type=1&l=048aff56a3

Brett said...

These are great. I am working on a game for my local group as well, basing it on a hypothetical US school of wizardry. I hope to keep it in the same flavor as the original, but play with what an upstart US based school might be like. If you do a book of Potter illustrations look up Chris Schweizer's book based character sketches, he did a marvelous run of them.

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