Down the well was a role-playing campaign I ran as a game master for several years. During which, my players got to meet a wide range of picturesque and interesting NPC’s (non-player character). I started this series of NPC’s illustrations while the campaign was still unfolding and some pencil drawing of them already popped up on the web. Later I went back to these old, loved drawing. I upgraded and colored them. I started to add new illustrations, I even include illustrations of the three PC’s (player character) as well.
I wanted to capture with each illustrations the uniqueness and personality of each of the characters, while I care to keep
a reasonably appropriate clothing style for the setting, which was for this campaign, a setting of a fantasy world similar to the Italian renaissance. If things go well.
All illustrations are with Photoshop.
Let’s start this series with a illustration of one of the most beloved and memorable characters from the campaign- The keeper of the well. This deformed, crazy, fool of a hunchback, was an icon of the campaign from is very first appearance in the very first game session. During the game, a number of different wells keepers appeared, all deformed in one way or another, But this one, even though he was originally an improvised characters, and a comic relief he became the face of an essential part of the campaign. Over time he gained a back story and a noble and tragic origin was revealed.
Countess Sofia Petula Chentry was a late addition to the campaign, but even though she only appears in the last third of the story-line, she made a great impression in the game. She was a shaman with no connection to tribalism, but an urban noble that communicated with spirits through her drug addiction. A habit which was simultaneously, her strength and weakness . Although she was the PC’s superior, she gave them a place to be as equals, And showed how they have progressed over the years of playing.
Damian Gorchyo was easily one of the most important NPC’s in the entire campaign. Each of the PC’s in the game started it with a master who taught them magic. Damian was Henrietta master , but he was more than that, he was a mentor and a father figure, likely the best in the campaign. Almost everything he’s done in the game he’s done out of love. Love for his hometown, his apprentice and his own mentor. Love for his family, living or dead. However he was not a perfect man, he was stubborn, ill-tempered and sometimes overly protective. Damian was a jewelry artisan, goldsmiths and craftsman, Who’s magic Depended on magical items.
Why the cutest, always is the most problematic? It was surely true for Dez. This fun loving and often carefree teenage girl, was no antagonist, but she repeatedly caused a headaches to the PC’s, with the trouble she got herself into. Dez was not stupid, but she always made decisions instantly, based on emotion without thinking about the consequences. The PC’s who were her friends, had to save Dez again and again. Over time she grown up, but she always remains like a little sister to the PC’s.
Besides being Layla master, Roso was her grandfather, as well. A Gypsy and a wandering bard, in his youth, Roso became in his old age, a city dweller, a stage actor, and a playwright. He was a kind man, with a good heart and a positive world view. Originally Roso was supposed to die, at about the middle of the game campaign, but thanks to the actions of the PC’s, he survived the disease that was supposed to kill him. Sadly his importance for the story, gradually dwindled from that point on. It’s good that he survived, because it was a symbol of victory for the players, but he never returned to the spotlight after that.
Angelica Martyr was an enchantress, using her violin music to perform magic. She entered the game campaign, as a task for the PC, they were required to find and protect her, for the sake of secret knowledge she possessed. This task required months to complete, during which a friendship developed between Angelica and the PC’s. Later they chose to continue to help her. They helped her acclimate to a new life in a strange city and to a new job. Angelica stayed for the rest of the campaign, developing as a character, getting better established in her new home and reaches out to help the PC’s, when needed.
Rescue of the lost Vici Pontonto, was the very first assignment of the PC’s in the campaign. A stands alone mission, at first sight, which was discovered throughout the game, to be in fact the first hint of the main plot. Vici the necromancer was an ally to the PC’s, although no friend. Not only because of his horrible practices, but because he was cold, uncaring and aloof as well. As it is common in stories, behind such a demeanor lies a tragic background. Vici dedicated his life to an impossible love. He studied necromancy, hoping to release a childhood friend and love of her cursed undead fate, but their love was not meant to be. however that did not stop Vici from breaking laws of god and man for it.
How one describes Fay?. I used to call her vengeful ghost, but it was not accurate. She was tangible most of the time. I guess “undead” Is the best option. Fay died as a child from her family negligence. She rose up seeking only vengeance. To hunt down any last person she shared blood with and dispose of him. Vici a child himself, at this point, who was a friend of Fay while she was alive, managed to find a way to stop her from fulfilling her revenge. Out of love, he spent the rest of his life, looking for a way to release her from her curse without destroying Fay in the process. The campaign came to an end, before Vici could have succeeded. Fay has never been a major part of the game. she was mostly a source to add color end side missions to the game. Fay is illustrated, as Vici dressed her, in the years she ‘lived’ with him. If you find it disturbing, let me remind you, theirs was a necromanic, necrophilic, pedophilic relationship.
Jgor, was the creation and faithful servant of Vici the necromancer. He was proof that one can be an undead construct abomination, that need fresh human cadavers to survive, and can still be a warm friendly guy, always looking to help. Clearly he was based on the more kindly versions of the “Igor” archetype. Jgor was not important to the game story by himself, but he gave the PC’s help at times and add color to the world of the game, besides his exact nature was a bit of a mystery, early on in the campaign. He was and still is, one of my all-time favorite non-player character.
Cordli Anselmi, was one of the minor NPC’s in the campaign. She was a unique character being a magical craftswoman, specializing in sculpture and masonry, but she did not really arouse the interest of the players. So halfway into the campaign, I decided to kill her off and make room to a new non-player character. Her death was the most significant part she played in the game. She died of a plague caused accidentally by the actions of the PC’s, meddling with things they did not fully understand, which added weight to the situation. Curiously, though her secondary role , Cordli illustration, was one of the first I started.
Medici was not a major NPC’s. As a druid and a wild man he seldom visited the urban environment, in which most plots occurred. He helped the PC’s where he could and offered them a new perspective on things, from time to time. Medici was mainly a tool to add color and variety to the campaign.
Sharleen was as much an unpleasant person in the campaign, as her illustration depicts her. As an NPC’s, Sharleen was no ally to the PC’s, although they were on the same side. Nor was she a villain, more like an obstacle that the players had to find ways around every now and then. Of course, as the campaign and the players advanced, Sharleen effectiveness as an obstacle decreased and eventually the time came to take her down from the game stage, and make way for new characters. Despite it, Sharleen left her mark on the game with her harsh and hostile attitude. She was also Dez Roberto and mistress.
Unlike other NPC’s, Roberto was not entirely my creation as the campaign game master. Roberto was first introduced into the game in the background of Philip as an old friend, but I adopted him and developed him to a full NPC’s. Roberto started as an equal to the PC’s, but they outgrow him over time. He was never ambitious and unlike the players characters he never tried to achieve big aspirations. Roberto was a partner to some of their operations, but at the end of the day, he did not want, more than something to drink, a warm body next to him and the freedom to take life as they come. He was an island of simplicity among all the Schemes, the plotting and obstacles, that filled the day of the PC’s.
Jordani Ben-Shalem was a late addition to the campaign. He entered during the last third and took the place of an older NPC’s, that the plot required to step down from the game stage, for a while. Jordani mostly served to add diversity to the campaign. He was part of a religious and a national minority based strongly on the Jews of Middle-Age Europe. Jordani was intentionally designed to look like the stigmatic Jew. Specifically, his big nose reminds me of my grandfather.
The attractive and alluring Romana Falcon, was a manipulative courtesan and enchantress. She was responsible for the most despicable act in the campaign, that mark her as one of the most prominent antagonists in the game. Romana took control of one’s of the PC’s mind and used her body to solicitation a person. Eventually all her tricks and schemes, catch up with her and the PC’s got to see her judged and execute before the end of the campaign.
Leon Hordered was the boyfriend and in the end to the campaign, the husband, of Henrietta . He was one of my favorites NPC’s in the game. A runaway serf, Leon became a city guard. He never got to learn about the PC’s hidden world of magic and conspiracy, but he still was a willing pawn for them. Several times Leon actions as a guard, Served the PC’s as cover for their covert activities. he was a giant of a man, but a gentle and kind soul, with a low self esteem. His love for is PC’s spouse was likely the purest in the campaign.
Petruccio Chonteri, better known as Petro, was a wealthy young noble and Layla boyfriend. They both got married, by the end of the campaign, as well, although their way to the altar was not so easy. Petro family has not seen a proper bride in the gypsy actress. also, Petro was less of a pawn for the PC’s, more like a contact. He did not know about the PC’s hidden world of magic, but he was involved in the political affairs of the principality and held great influence. Petro was intelligent and charming, but a bit arrogant and self-centered. It always surprised me, that he was loved by Layla throughout the entirety of the game.
Among the spouses of the PC’s, Rosalina Amando was the least to appear,but the one most involved in the main plot of the game. Her parents and the parents of Philip agreed on arranged marriages between their children, without being aware that each of them is a member in a rival secret society of magic users, this fact took a long time to be revealed and even longer until a solution was found. Rosalina was willingly trade-off in a cease-fire agreement between the groups, thanks to the PC’s efforts. Rosalina was a nice, quiet and intelligent person.
Mephisto Gorchyo is the last of the three masters, who taught , one of the PC’s . He was Philip master’ Damian brother and was revealed as the father of Henrietta. Without a doubt, Mephisto was an important NPC’s in the campaign. The relationship between him and Damian greatly influenced everything happening. He actually was the campaign final antagonist, but he was not really a villain. At the end, the PC’s protected him from punishment, for is wrongdoings. Mephisto was a wizard, an alchemist, a physician and above all, ambitious.
Romy was a bit of tragic figure in the campaign. For a long while the PC’s thought Romy was an ordinary person and their friend. indeed, with time she become their friend, but secretly she always been a member in the rival secret society and a spy. Eventually the truth was revealed and it was the PC’s votes which sentenced her to become a well keeper. Later, it was their votes again that sentenced Romy to death. This time, as a release from the suffering and physical and mental deformities that being a well keeper brings.
Giovanni was an NPC’s, I knew I wanted to get rid of quickly. as a fellow apprentice of Mephisto, he populate the same niche of the players characters and so he became an antagonist. Quick to make trouble and quick to be punished and sweep into a dungeon. Later in the campaign Giovanni returned and he was turned in to another well keeper, twisted and crazy. He was a pawn of Mephisto, who used him in is final scheme. Giovanni has never been a complex character, mostly just selfish, angry and mean.
Layla, was a full on player character, that was played devotedly for nearly three years. To cover her adequately, I would probably, need to write an entire essay dedicated to her, after all, the PC’s were the three axes, around the whole of the role-playing campaign revolved. Like all the PC’s, Layla was a magic user, a sorceress that navigate magic using her own emotions, invoking them through song, dance and a melody. She was Roso granddaughter and apprentice. A gypsy girl who became an actress and one of the most courted ladies in the princedom. She was very charismatic, agile and adept not only in music, but swordsmanship as well. Layla was also the ‘heart’ of the group, the PC’s emotional and moral marker. Most of the time, her emotions lead her, not her logic. Layla was Played By Adi Denis.
Philip Gieberty, was another of the campaign three PC’s. Like with Layla, there is too much to tell about Philip to include everything here. He was Mephisto apprentice, and like is master, Philip was a wizard, an alchemist and a physician. He used rituals and formulas for his magic, needing a constant supply of spell components. Philip was also the son of a wealthy merchant family, who had married him
to Rosalina. Intelligent and studious scholar, Philip was the ‘brain’ of the PC’s group. Usually the first to figure out stuff, he served as the main planner and the most practical voice. An ideological person, but not one to let his feelings to guide him.
Henrietta (Henri) Valer is the last of three player characters in Down the well. As with the other two PC’s, the summary here is just the tip of the iceberg. Henrietta was a street urchin and a thief. While burglarizing his home, she was caught by Damian, which recognized potential in her. So Henrietta became is apprentice, not aware that Damian had another motive to take her in. Later in he campaign she discovered, she was Mephisto bastard daughter and Damian was her uncle. like Damian, Henrietta could not cast spells directly, only craft magical items. From the three PC’s, magic come the hardest for Henrietta, but she compensated with her diligence and hard work. Henrietta was the PC’s group mediator, balancing between ‘brain’ and ‘heart’. Sometimes following her emotions and sometimes following her logic. Henrietta was Played By Mirel Oppenheimer.