The Xanathar: "The first thing that needed doing was to redraw the Xanathar in line with Todd Lockwood's excellent beholder design for the new edition of D&D," says Sam. "I made his eyestalks and central eye a bit smaller in proportion to his body to give an impression of greater size -- the "alpha beholder" if you will. I also wanted to make sure he had a crafty, calculating expression that was not just aggressive or bestial. Beholders should be portrayed as the terrifyingly intelligent creatures they are.
The last order of business was to add the tattoos. I had fun drawing the knotwork and liked the bold visual effect. An 'earring' and metalwork caps on his chin horns added to the impression of someone a bit more cultivated than the average beholder."
Sememmon: "Sememmon is the controlling personality behind several of the biggest and baddest Realms villains," says Todd. "He works through thoughtful plan and devious design rather than brute force, so I designed him as something of the effete, aristocratic type . . . though not to be taken at all lightly."
Sengal: "Sengal is a feral halfling druid, tattooed and scarred, a mix of Pict and shaman," explains Todd. "We had an amusing moment in the design process when it was realized that the wolf's skull he had been described as wearing as a hat would probably fall down around his shoulders. We considered that it might be a wolf pup's skull, but that seemed a little mean-spirited. In the end, his head-dress became that of some smaller carnivore -- a badger, perhaps."
Red Wizards Symbol: Also included in this month's art is the symbol of the Red Wizards of Thay by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law. [She could not be reached for comment.] Of note are the eight red gems, representative of the eight schools of magic. They spiral outward from the starlike symbol in the middle, which is evocative of the stars in some symbols of Mystra, showing that the schools the Zulkirs rule over still distantly derive their power from the Weave, and thus from her.