Monday, 2 January 2012

Insecure Writers Support Group

Well I promised a big posting for this one and here it is. 

On those days when the muse decides to sleep in I scribble up backgrounds for random characters.  Sometimes they go somewhere and sometimes they don't but it does help to give the creativity neurons a bit of a jump start.

The images all come from old issues of  Dragon Magazine and there are many, many more waiting behind that link.  I've had masses of character portraits since forever ago, at first they were scanned from my comics, ensuring that everyone looked suprisingly like Superman and The Hulk.  Since I've had the Internet the collection has quickly reached extreme proportions.
Sorcerers Net has a very nice collection from all sorts of sources.

So here are a few starters, if they inspire you to write an epic 5 novel saga then all I ask is 10% of the gross and if anybody asks where you got the idea please don't say "This blog had a whole bunch of them, silly fool was just giving them away" 
I'm quite sure that I'll already be kicking myself hard enough thank you.


A small collection of rings rested in either ear but apart from this his only concession to any kind of fashion was a small beard that had been neatly maintained. His fist rose in the stopping signal and we both crouched low to the ground and as he silently crept forward his arm slid the sword out of the scabbard on his back. Strange that something so seemingly large and unwieldy could be drawn so silently.
But the sword returned to the scabbard as whatever he had spotted went past without pausing to peer at the two soldiers lying in the undergrowth and he gave the all clear signal.
“You're too damn clean” his voice never rose above a whisper but then it never did, the result, I had been reliably informed, of a taproom brawl in his youth.. “so am I”

The mud from the river was black and stinking but I dared not object as it was a choice between this and death and I could live with a stink for a while.
My companion agreed tersely, perhaps he had been looking forward to a fastidious young man reluctant to get dirty.
When we emerged from the mud we both shared a smile at how ridiculous we both looked..
All right kid” he rasped, “lets get back to the barracks”
His eyes shifted uncomfortably around the room but they always did, especially the situation was beyond his control.. one of his braids came free of its mooring and swung down the long length of his narrow face.
Irritably he pushed it back behind his ear but only succeeding in dislodging more of his braids which swung free and draped his face in shadow..
You think I did what?”
I think nothing!” the man was his opposite in almost every way and towered above him “You were with my wife! I've had it from her own mouth”
“So have I” his nervous hands shot forward and he winced as the hidden blade ripped away from tightly woven braids but smiled at the sight of his problem laying on the ground with a length of metal stick that jutted out of his throat.

Bugan eyed him once coolly “if it is any consolation. You'll be happy to know that she didn't submit easily”
He packed his few essentials quickly pausing only to retrieve the throwing blade that had saved his life so many times before this. At a crossroads he hesitated before walking down the road to Daggers Rest. With any luck the fires he had started on his previous visits to the region had burned out and if they hadn’t then there were plenty of other cities to visit.
He was always sure of himself which, quite frankly, was putting it mildly. He was cocky, arrogant and thoroughly convinced that the world is his oyster and the rest of us were only put there so that we could applaud his triumphs and urge him on to greater and more dizzying heights of achievement.

It surprised nobody who truly knew him that he would end up in the gutter, his bow and finely crafted sword long since traded away for a night of pleasure that almost, almost made him feel as he once was.
Now he looked around at his sorry company of drunkards, criminals, wastrels and maniacs and naturally decided that this was the time to make a speech.
Fellow Guttersnipes!” he swayed as he climbed the low table and gazed around at the room whose occupants regarded him with varying levels of interest at the speech which called for uprisings and revolution just as it had yesterday and the day before and the day before that as well.
They thought him mad and he permitted this for his plans could only be truly appreciated by those whom sanity had fled or never taken up residence. But to expect a single person to accomplish this , well that way true madness lay. Finally the team was assembled and comprised of Mr Cushion, a competent assassin that did not ask much in the way of salary. M'lady, a strange sorceress who was trapped in the form of a chicken but communicated through a complex series of clucking and scratching in the dirt. The final member of the band was Sir Fish who had come highly recommended but was now testing his patience by demanding the the plan be disclosed in its entirety.

Finally she had had enough and gave the signal to Mr Cushion only to find that he had obviously been swayed with more money than she had been able to offer. M'lady too, was next to helpless and finally he burst through the hideouts ruined window and escaping but risking it all to swear a vengeance most dire on the treacherous trio.

The man stood close behind me, too damn close for my liking. 
“Yer in my light” I muttered for the fifth time and just as before I knew it would have no permanent effect on him.

Why haven't you got it open yet?” he tried to come across as demanding but fell far of the mark and ended up in his familiar whine.
Because this lock is difficult” I said holding onto my frustration as much as one does in front of their employer.
I hired you because they said you were the best lock fiddler on the island and now we're finally here you can't open the door?”
It's only wooden” I pointed out “and you're standing there with that great big axe. Why don't you just chop it down?”
Because there are some things in life that need to be done delicately and this is one of them”
It was lightly said but I noted the worried tone behind those words, was there someone, or something on the other side? Was I little more than a sacrificial lamb? As the final mechanism clicked into place I realized that we would be finding out together.

The cat and the girl sat together in what they liked to think was a picture of innocence but it was all too easy to see the smirk of satisfaction that played upon her lips. One, or maybe both, were guilty of some new misdeed and the other certainly had their own part to play, Even if that part was to remain silent on the matter for the rest of their days. But this would be too much for anyone to achieve and remain sane.

The cat had the answer, but then it always did for cats are taught such things as kittens and they never forget them. Unlike dogs who run back and fro, to and forth with neither purpose or reason.
“Dogs are no friends to such as we” purred the cat and the girl knew that it was so.
we are taught to speak to the stones and in keeping with an ancient bargain we do not hunt them and they keep our secrets safe”
“But you don't hunt stones”
“Exactly, but the stones have never realized this” it stretched and climbed the girl until it perched on her shoulder “now on my faithful stead. Onto far shores and fair climes that we may make our fortune!”

One more day had finished. Another in a series that seemed it would go on forever and all he wanted was a quiet drink and some alone time. But that would never happen because as soon as he opened the door to any establishment worth visiting he would be met with mocking cries that he had no choice but to answer in kind if he wanted to see another crowd like the one that he had seen today.

That was something there was no escaping from, the audiences were getting larger and although he appreciated performing for them he had to admit that sometimes he preferred the smaller audiences that he used to have, the ones where he could really reach out in his performances and leave them thinking that they had influenced his routines.
He didn't hear what the man said as he opened the door but that didn't matter, the mask of good humor was made for him it seemed and once worn there was never any removing it.

It was well known that he laughed in the face of danger and had tweaked the nose of the death of deaths his own self many times over but in truth he was ever watchful for the one thing that he couldn't laugh away. The one beast that would prove to be his undoing. The fortune speakers couldn't tell him of it although he talked to true and fraud alike.
Truly you are beloved of the Gods” they repeated the priests ancient words “for the thing that can end you does not walk upon the earth”
But well he remembered the lessons of his youth and inquired of the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea, but the speakers shook their heads as one “we speak only for the land” said they “seek the tellers in the azure and the kingdom of the swimmers for your answers”

And the hero that could not be beaten walked sadly away as he had done through the ages of this world, searching in vein for the creature that would finally end his days and release him from his miserable earthy confines.
For the longest time it was a well known fact that he could be bribed with little difficulty, but it remained a useful thing so nobody did anything about it.  Then people started disappearing from the streets only to have their trial and executions announced in the following days and for this too he was happy to take their money and allow them access to the forbidden places so that they might watch the three judges of law take their seats and listen to the testimony of the guard that could be bribed.

When he had finished reading this out he looked over the gallery to his latest prey and gave the order for the trap to be sprung. So far nobody had been quick enough to grasp at what was going on and with any luck the problem of crime would clean itself up eventually.
He knew what people saw when they looked at him, a walking slab of muscle who would break a mans leg rather than say hello. Hell, he'd seen the same damn thing in the faces of his brothers and father who was worse than he ever could be. But sometimes he wondered what it was all about, really, when you got down past the endless breaking of limbs and the barroom brawls. Did life actually have any kind of meaning? Where was mankind ultimately going? And if God...
He shook himself and wiped beer out of his eyes quite forgetting his previous train of thought.

Dat upset me” he spoke slowly, the result of a chair to the face during last weeks brawl.
You crippled my brother!” his foe smashed bottle against the side of the table and advanced with the jagged remains “I'll see that you pay!”
Yer brother should not have been gambling with money not his” he moved with practiced skill, light on his feet for one so large “the orphans will be feeling the cold this winter”
Damn the rat children!” the broken bottle swung wildly “and damn you too!”


  1. I used to subscribe to Dragon Magazine. You are great at creating characters. Who cares if you used the portraits that are readily available to help envision them. For the record, the personalities you created mash up perfect for these fictional entities. Bravo

  2. I wish I'd been able to get it, or indeed any, role-playing magazines when I used to D&D but our bookshop didn't stock anything like that and the owner clearly didn't approve of anything like this. He'd conveniently "forget" about order them month after month and saying "maybe next time"
    The system we patched together was good with a 40/40 ratio of dice rolling and arguments about what all the numbers meant.

  3. And the remaining 20 obviously went towards pizza

  4. I'll be sure you get ten percent! Maybe eleven.
    I still have a stack of old Dragon magazines somewhere...
    Thanks for participating in the IWSG!