Marvelous Anchorome – The Red Wolves

The Red Wolves

One of Marvel’s most iconic (and dubiously first) Indigenous heroes took me the longest to adapt. I’m not entirely sure why. Fur can be a little hard to draw, as can wolf-heads.

But at the same time, the hero Red Wolf is perfect for the fantasy North American continent that is Anchorome. Not only is he a hero empowered by the god/spirit Owayadata, but the role is an inherited one that has been passed down through the centuries. That’s pretty D&D.

Because you could build a barbarian or ranger or paladin from this template (or even monk), I decided to draw multiple Red wolves. At first I thought he would be an Anchoromean equivalent of the Jaguar Knight but then I realized that the Red Wolf role could be a Minnenewah nation or warrior tradition comprising paladins, shamans, clerics, etc. (just a note that most North American Indigenous persons I know don’t like the term “shaman” and prefer Medicine Man – I use it here to refer to a character class that should probably also be renamed).

In this image I imagine the one on the left is Talltrees, an older Spirit Shaman of the band. The woman on the left is Wildrun, a paladin.

The Anchorome Campaign Guide has a Spirit that would fit.

From the Anchorome Campaign Guide by Jon Hild. Please check it out!

Red Wolf (William Talltrees and his antecedents) is Tsétsėhéstȧhese (Cheyenne) in the comics – as are Forge and Dani Moonstar/Mirage (who I have already drawn). I know of a crossover with Red Wolf and Black Crow but not with these two, strangely. I’d love to see an Indigenous creator sketch out the connections between Forge’s enemy The Adversary, Dani’s Demon Bear and Owayadata.

The character design is strong, but leans into several tropes. Regardless of the temperature, Red Wolf in the comics is shirtless…as though the Cheyenne didn’t have some very nice shirts to wear. He wears an outfit that doesn’t differ much from century to century, as if First Nations people’s don’t change and adapt – including their regalia. You can find a great discussion here.

I developed a new technique for intricate beadwork that I think works fairly well. It might serve me with the last few pieces to do for Marvelous Anchorome and a few other projects.

Red Wolf by Joe Kubert

The Marvelous Anchorome Series follows a similar line to Motley Crew series and Pop Culture Party Series. This series will imagine various North American Indigenous characters from comics as D&D characters for the Forgotten Realms Anchorome setting.

Band of Bastards Comic 18 – The Gimli Limitation

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This comic was inspired by a course I am taking on Anti-Oppression and Inclusion in Program Design for heritage interpreters, and also this amazing essay from Mary and the Words: https://marydrover.com/2021/01/11/what-legolas-gimli-say-about-racism/

Pop Culture Party – Wakers of the Dreaming God

Wakers of the Dreaming God (Conan the Destroyer)

(l-r) Malak (Half-Elf/ Rogue/Thief); Bombaata (Goliath/Paladin/Oathbreaker); Zula (Human/Monk/Way of the Kensei); Conan (Human/Barbarian/Path of the Juggernaut); Akiro (Gnome/Wizard/Abjuration School).

IN THE REALMS

“It is written in the Scrolls of Skelos, that a woman born with a certain mark, must make a journey…there’s a key she must find, a key only she can touch…in a castle, guarded by a Wizard.”

Phi (Queen) Taramis of Semphar has charged her paladin, Bombaata, and two famous thieves to go on a quest. Conan and Malak must protect Princess Jenya, the prophecied girl with the mark, on her journey. As their quest begins, they recruit Akiro, a gnomish wizard, and Zula, an outlander monk.

As the party makes its way from wizard’s tower to ancient temple to forest glade, they find their camaraderie grows stronger – all save for Bombaata. For there is something the goliath hides, something his Queen desires him to do, that bodes ill. After the finding of the Jewel of Ahrimanes, and the battle in the hall of mirrors, and the delve into the Horned God’s dungeon – there is a surprise waiting.

Queen Taramis means to awaken Dagoth, the Dreaming God, using the treasures found by the Wakers. And Bombaata knows Conan must be not be allowed to interfere with the final stages – the sacrifice of Jenya and the rise not of a god, but of an Obyrith – the most evil and ancient of demons!

The Wakers of Dagoth will be forced, in their final moments – to confront Bombaata, Taramis, her armies…and the demon himself!

SOURCE MATERIAL

My third try at Conan (if you don’t count Kalidor), and it won’t be my last. There’s still the TV show and the Jason Momoa reboot after all!

Conan the Destroyer is…well…I mean…it’s not as bad as Red Sonja. But after the amazingness that was John Milius’ Conan the Barbarian…it leaves much to be desired.

For one, Arnold has bulked up – no longer as swift and agile as he was, but more cartoonish. And that theme runs through everything. They also let him talk. If you watch Barbarian, Conan has just a few lines – though he still manages to move the story forward. In Destroyer, Conan is making deals, making jokes, getting drunk, doing all sorts of things that Arnold is not quite capable of selling.

Here I’ve drawn him as bulky as I can, and with a little smirk. Since I drew him last time with his iconic sword, this time I used the double-bladed axe that he wields only for a few moments.

With Barbarian I chose to draw everyone as human. Here, I thought I would stretch a little. Malak as a half-elf makes a certain amount of sense when you see his ears. Wilt Chamberlain’s Bombaata is so huge that he stoops through most of the movie – a neat chance to draw a Goliath for the first time. And since I have already drawn Akiro as a human, the chance to draw him as a gnome was intriguing.

Choosing against making Olivia D’Abo’s Jenna a PC was a decision after re-watching the movie. I think she makes much more sense as an NPC here. She has some good character moments in the film, but she has no specific skills and mainly serves to get captured, lead the group about, and get rescued. And she is only 16. The Dungeon-master probably uses her in the same way – and to introduce the complication in any fight of having to protect her.

This actually casts some of the moments when she clashes with Conan fun to imagine. In one scene, she demands (and no doubt the DM wishes) that the group row to Thoth-Amon’s castle immediately. Conan’s player instead demands an extended rest. The DM retaliates by having Thoth-Amon kidnap the girl in the night (all the party having failed to set a watch, anyway).

Living beings as macguffins is nothing new to fantasy RPGs (or videogames, where the dreaded bodyguard missions makes you curse the game’s AI). Otherwise this movie translates really well into a campaign. The player of Bombaata should be in on his secret of course, but the rest of the party need not be. Keeping a secret from the rest of the group, when played well, can spark for some amazing reveals.

Background is courtesy of klyaksun and Getty Images.

The Pop Culture Party Series follows a similar line to my Motley Crew series. Only while that nerdly rotogravure imagined sci-fi motley crews in Firefly’s ‘Verse, this will imagine various casts of adventure media as D&D characters.

Wakers of the Dreaming God (Conan the Destroyer)

Marvelous Anchorome – Guanajo

Guanajo (Monk)

I mentioned previously that I wasn’t very knowledgeable about Marvel’s kung-fu comics, and so missed the White Tiger (in Marvelous Anchorome, the White Ocelot).

But I do really know Captain America’s big roster of characters, so I’m ashamed that I hadn’t drawn Bantam yet – or here Guanajo. Bantam was a Puerto Rican boxer-turned-superhero.

Bantam

Just like the White Ocelot is a Green Sister islander variation of the Jaguar Knight, I imagine Guanajo as a islander variation of the Eagle Knight – both orders of monks.

Guanajo is, I understand, Taino for Turkey. While Bantam is based off of a fighting rooster, chickens are not native to North America so I decided they were not Indigenous to Anchorome/Maztica.

The Marvelous Anchorome Series follows a similar line to Motley Crew series and Pop Culture Party Series. This series will imagine various North American Indigenous characters from comics as D&D characters for the Forgotten Realms Anchorome setting.

Pop Culture Party – The Striking Dragons

The Striking Dragons (Dragonstrike)

(L-r) Deathmark (Shifter-Wizard-Transmutation), Dare (Human-Fighter-Champion), Greenthorne (Elf-Ranger-Hunter), Arakeela (Human-Rogue-Thief).

IN THE REALMS

“Feeling brave tonight? How brave? Brave enough to do battle with hideous monsters? Brave enough to sneak around dank castles in the dark and chance being the next victim…of a dragonstrike?!”

Lord Halvor II of the Dalelands was only a minor potentate, with little wisdom and few other resources to draw upon – or so he thought.

The night the Sunstone rose above the evil wizard Taraptus’ nearby castle and robbed the land of daylight Halvor found his heroes.

Dare is a loyal knight and fighter, possessed of great brawn and not much brain. Arakeela just happened to be in Halvor’s castle at the time, picking the pockets of his guests. That was the night that Deathmark the wizard stumbled, wounded, into the revels.

What happened next happened quickly. Undead warriors sent by Taraptus broke into the castle to try to recapture the wizard. Dare and Arakeela leapt into action – joined by Greenthorne, a newly arrived elven ranger from Cormanthyr.

The four of them convinced Lord Halvor to let them brave the dangers of Taraptus’ castle to seek out the evil wizard and break his curse upon the Dalelands.

Adventures have started with less…and after searching the castle, slaying a fire elemental, and defeating the dark wizard…there is the small matter of an imminent Illithid invasion.

SOURCE MATERIAL

Dragonstrike was a board game that came with a 30 minute video to explain roleplaying…an amazing 30 minute video that is as captivating today as it was back then.

Just…bring a beer and a sense of humour.

Character Cards from the Game

None of the characters had names in the original video, but some accompanying literature contained great names like Dare and Deathmark!

Classes are set so subclasses might be the only interesting exercise. Dare Is a Champion, or possibly a Banneret Fighter. Arakeela is a Thief and Greenthorne a Hunter Ranger. All standards.

Deathmark is interesting because during an exchange with the elf, he reveals that he was once transformed into a coyote as part of his wizard’s training and it is this coyote whose skin he wears. This might imply a druid or a druid multiclass but I think the School of Transmutation fits just as well. I made him a Longtooth Shifter just for good measure.

Turning this into an adventure isn’t hard…it is D&D for beginners after all! So what tips can we learn about source material?

Keep it simple: evil wizard, endangered kingdom, clever finale. Don’t stress.

That’s one of the reasons I set it in the Dales, even though I’m not really that fond of them. I need to remember sometimes that basic isn’t bad.

Dragonstrike (The Striking Dragons)

The Pop Culture Party Series follows a similar line to my Motley Crew series. Only while that nerdly rotogravure imagined sci-fi motley crews in Firefly’s ‘Verse, this will imagine various casts of adventure media as D&D characters.

True World (Maztica and Anchorome) Compilation – Eagle and Jaguar Knights

Eagle Knight Variations

I haven’t actually gotten around to drawing a classic Eagle Knight from Maztica, but I found lots of Marvel-inspired drawings that got to take on variations of this theme – many from Anchorome.

Jaguar Knight Variations

I didn’t draw a lot of classic Jaguar Knights, but I did draw two Marvel-inspired variations.

True World (Anchorome & Maztica compilations)

These drawings of characters from Anchorome and Maztica have all appeared elsewhere on this blog. But I thought grouping them together in a variety of images would be a valuable exercise. Including for those just googling for images of desert dwarves, Minnenewah, and other groups of Maztican and Anchoromean inhabitants.

Azuposi, Nahopoca, Dog People

The Azuposi are related to the Mazticans (and thus fully human). This compilation includes Marvel-inspired characters and original drawings. Just as there are a range of skin-tones among any people (however related) I haven’t used the same skin colour for all of them.

Minnenewah

Found further north in Anchorome, the Minnenewah are only partly human – they originated in the Spirit world and migrated to Toril. As such, they might be seen as similar to Tieflings, Aasimar, or Genasi. This compilation is exclusively made up of Marvel-inspired characters.

Elves and Half-Elves

The elves of Anchorome are intensely private – even xenophobic. But that hasn’t prevented the usual mixing with humans and humanoids that almost always occurs. Only one of the characters in this compilation is Marvel-inspired.

Fort Flame and Anchoromean Collaborators

I’m not a huge fan of the Flaming Fist mercenaries or of Colonialism in general. Thus you’ll find Fort Flame has a bit of a sinister bent – including their coterie of collaborators from Anchorome (all collaborators are Marvel-inspired, the others are original).

Wild Halflings

Wild halflings may be a misnomer – but it might also help with search algorithms. The “Short Ones” of Anchorome are gardeners. I’ve also included Arctic halflings (an old favourite of mine). Some of these are inspired by Marvel, others are original.

Desert Dwarves of Maztica

I started off with the desert hermit, inspired by the “short hairy men” encountered in Ironhelm. But I quickly got excited about the concept of a more Mexican (and Peruvian/Bolivian) approach for Desert Dwarves in the True World. One is obviously Zorro-inspired, but the others are all original designs. I like to imagine that the latest generation of Dwarves in Anchorome have adopted more and more native and newcomer habits, combining them together with their own culture into something unique. I like to imagine they worship the sun, but the old Faerunian god Amaunator, rather than the Maztican sun god.

Green Sister Islanders

I didn’t want to exclude the Caribbean Indigenous experience in my Marvelous Anchorome series, so here’s a collection of Marvel-inspired characters from the Green Sisters Islands of Maztica. South of Maztica is Katashaka, a little-explored African-inspired continent, so I didn’t have a problem including darker skin tones – imagining some intermixing.

Metahel

I’ve posted these drawings elsewhere, but why not include this collection here as well. One stop shop! The Metahel, unlike Fort Flame, have been here a while and forged successful treaties with the locals in order to win the right to cohabit. All original designs.

The Insect Tribes

Also found elsewhere on site but included for completionism. The Anchoromean Underdark features scorpionfolk (Tlincalli), while the above-ground tribes include Thri-Kreen, Abeil, and Bacar (antfolk from the module “Endless Allies). I basically straight up copied the Scorpion-guy from the monster manual, but the others are original designs.

Aarakocra and Aeeree Descendents

One of the non-human inhabitants of Anchorome are the Aarakocra of the North-West. These are descendants of the Aeeree creator race. Aarakocra (called Quetzaldaun) and Owlfolk are found in the Maztica and Anchorome Campaign Guides, but I added the Puffinfolk. I prefer to imagine any number of birdfolk descendants here where their creators fled.

Alaghi and Umbleby

Two more non-human races of Anchorome include the Alaghi and their simple-minded cousins, the Umpleby. Alaghi Runts are more outgoing and often become adventurers – although they then feel obliged to wear clothes.