In August of each year, we hold the D&D Miniatures Championship at Gen Con in Indianapolis. The top D&D Minis players from around the country play through two days of intense competition. In addition to the adulation that accompanies winning the tournament (sic transit gloria mundi), the champion is granted the opportunity to work with Wizards of the Coast R&D to select and design a miniature for an upcoming miniatures set. In 2005, that winner was Jason Lioi of Los Angeles, California, whose Green Dragon was a key component in leading his Lawful Evil warband to victory. After some deliberation, Jason decided that his miniature would be drawn from a classic D&D adventure. Here are Jason's words regarding the thought process behind the creation of his miniature -- the Thrall of Blackrazor.
"Search ye far or search ye near,
You'll find no trace of the three
Unless you follow my instructions clear,
For the weapons abide with me."
Like many gamers my age, I have a fond nostalgia for the early days of Dungeons & Dragons. As best I can recall, I started playing at the tender age of eight, and while my friends and I didn't quite grasp all the intricacies of the rules -- which is putting it quite charitably indeed -- we had a blast rolling dice and slaying beasts.
"North past forest, farm and furrow
You must go to the feathered mound
And then away from the sun you'll burrow
Forget light, forget life, forget sound"
My favorite early memory of D&D is playing at school during recess in 4th grade. One of us had recently gotten a new adventure to play, module S2, White Plume Mountain. It had a manticore on the front, which was cool, but I was especially fond of the picture on the back cover -- an eerie-looking man in black leather armor, holding a long, black sword with stars all through the blade.
As we worked through the adventure over the next several days, the DM would prop up the module's cover as a screen to keep prying eyes away from the text. While we played, I'd stare at that white-haired man with the starry-black sword and the empty eyes. We eventually wrested that same sword away from a tricky ogre mage only to discover that it was an evil thing, an intelligent blade that encouraged its wielder to kill indiscriminately, eagerly devouring the souls of those it slew. It was called Blackrazor.
"Blackrazor yet remains to be won,
Underneath inverted ziggurat.
That garnered, think not that ye've won
For then you'll find you're caught"
One could argue that some shard of Blackrazor has been lodged in my memory for the quarter-century since, because when I found myself in the enviable position of being able to create any mini I wanted, bringing Blackrazor back into the light of day was nearly a compulsion.
"I care not, former owners brave
What heroes you seek to hire.
Though mighty, I'll make each one my slave
Or send him to the fire."
I'll leave the detailed statistical analysis of the Thrall to be hashed out on the forums. Suffice to say that I'm very happy with how the stats reflect the original flavor of the sword and its evil influence on the wielder. And if you think these stats have potential, just wait 'till you see the Epic version …
Next week, we'll show off … well, it's hard to describe. Just come back. You won't be disappointed.
About the Author
Jason Lioi is the 2005 D&D Miniatures world champion and a regular contributor to the DDM website.