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JDR Magazine #57: “You are in an Inn…” Episode 5

The Context

🐲 This illustration has been commissioned by a French roleplaying game magazine. This is the fifth adventure of the parody of a roleplaying party described in Episode 1. During the previous episode, the adventurers had to face the giant snails guarding the innkeeper’s vegetable garden, after this high feat, it was time to take a break and delve into the intimacy of our adventurers with a more in-depth interview of one of its proudest representatives: the Barbarian

The Illustration

The principle was to have an in-depth interview with each of the characters (in this case the Barbarian, represented by R.E. Howard) to the exclusion of any other scene or character which could have interfered with the main interview scene. I therefore decided to animate the scene in the most iconic and representative way possible to capture the quintessence of each adventurer. There were therefore two criteria to respect: First, the behavior and posture of the character during the interview. Second: represent all the paraphernalia which embodied as much as possible his role in the adventure, as well as his personality and the elements of the article which referred to it.

Since this “interview” was conducted “OOC” (“Out of Character”), I also took the opportunity to “break the fourth wall” to systematically represent a game of Tabletop Role Playing Game where the character would “play” himself, presenting a figurine in his image within a context of a tabletop roleplaying game. This made it possible to have a surrealist double reading of the situation, while graphically signaling a “type of staging” which differentiated itself from the usual scenes in the series.

For the representation of the Barbarian himself, as well as his attitude, I decided to represent him very… thick. Thick in muscle and thick in brain, since he is described in the article as being really very, very stupid, preferring brutal force to the slightest thought: hence his puzzled posture.

I had decided from the start that the Barbarian would be the stereotype of the “Gros Bill”, which, in the world of French role-playing games, designates a meme for a Powergamer, a player who only seeks to accumulate all kinds of objects and powers up to the caricature to cheat and win every game at all cost. A figure quite close to the Mary Sue or Gary Stu in literature and cinema.

Consequently, he had to be represented with an insane pile of objects and weapons which would change with each representation along the story, in this case: A Sword of the Bastard (allusion to the “bastard sword” type of weapon), a scepter bearing the claws of Wolverine from the X-Men comics, the sword from the movie “Conan”, a two-handed syringe marked “Nth dose” (yes, we were in COVID times), as well as a sword strongly resembling Excalibur. In the same state of mind, Tolkien’s “One Ring” is worn as a bracelet on his left arm… as a small ring would be certainly not impressive enough for our Barbarian.

To reinforce the idea of a player who always wants to win, his flail is ended with a 20-sided dice with all sides bearing the number 20, a number indicating an exceptional and critical result in most role-playing games. The “Unearth Arkana!” tattoo is a declaration of intention from the Barbarian ; actually, in Dungeons & Dragons, the roleplaying community considered that the famous extension of the game named “Unearthed Arcana” allowed the advent of super-powerful players, destroying the balance of the gameplay… this tattoo is therefore a testimony of nostalgia towards a time when everything was permitted.

On the game table is a dungeon floor plan -typical of D&D tabletop sessions- in the middle of it, the gigantic version of the Barbarian’s figurine version is triumphing : all around are scattered the figurines of all the opponents he killed during the game session, both friends and foes…

Two glasses containing the dice necessary for a game are presented: the glass symbolizing the damage inflicted by the character is filled to the brim with dice; the second, symbolizing non-violent skills, includes only a few. As, for this type of player, only destructive capacity counts and not reflection. I also reinforced this matter of fact with a torn “character sheet”. This Sheet is used by players during role-playing games to embody their character within a very specific rules context. The fact that the Barbarian tore his own sheet signifies his carelessness in respecting the rules. It is also covered with fanciful and poorly spelled inscriptions, proving that only the characteristic of “Strength” matters. One the other hand, “Wisdom” -or circumspection- is completely unknown to him and his score of “Intelligence” is very weak – because useless… As proven by his characteristic of “Languages”, which he thought was a question on whether or not the Barbarian was equipped with a functional tongue…

Cover of JDR Magazine #57 in which the illustration appears (click to expand)

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