In August 2017 I made the annual pilgrimage to GenCon. I had spent weeks looking for an artist who could capture the emotional essence, horror, and in some cases contrasting beauty, of my Othersiders. Not your usual monster manual fare. While walking artists’ row both my wife, Ginette, and I suddenly stopped. Looked at each other and said “that’s it!” We were standing in front of Doug Hoppes’ booth. Over the next few months a true collaboration blossomed resulting in some amazing artwork. The first of Hel, Angel of Death:
With no human language of her own, only telepathic communication, Hel takes “her” name from the thoughts stripped from the mind of the first human being she encounters. In this case a German soldier who sees in her the literary personification of the bringer of death and ruler of the underworld. But not only her name. Knowledge of the world. Although characterized more by her curved horns, sharp teeth, pale waxy skin, jet-black eyes, and pulsing black veins, Hel still has a distinctly, even attractive, female form. Standing at almost 7 ft. she is encased feet-to-neck in black chitinous armor except for her back which is specifically cut to allow for the bone rings set there. She is attended by 6 Supplicants attached via collars and bone chains to the rings in her back. The collars are internally spiked so that the Supplicants have weeping sores to match the wounds caused by the rings that are embedded into Hel’s back at the other end of the chains. These wretched creatures are examples of what can be wrought when flesh and bone become a canvas for a sadistic, twisted, inhuman mind. Using telekinetic abilities her supplicants are levitated and arrayed behind her in such a way as to be reminiscent of wings. Supplicants are miserable, shriveled, creatures that constantly writhe in apparent agony, providing Hel with a disposable source of additional Necrotic Energy. Once exhausted Hel simply makes a replacement.
The second of Hel’s Harvesters:
Harvesters have pale waxy grey-green skin, yellow eyes, razor-sharp pointed teeth, and a sensual, curvaceous, feminine body. With otherwise delicate features, they have neither ears or hair, and exhibit varying degrees of visible pulsing black veins that spread out from a central point at the nape of the neck, up over the head and face, down the arms and torso, eventually covering the entire body. The vein patterns are unique to each individual. Although their hands have dexterous fingers tipped with short, sharp, black claws Harvesters prefer the use of manufactured weapons. In addition, they wear elaborate chitinous armor, including ornately carved half face masks directly pinned to the back or sides of their heads. Observation of their coordinated efforts suggests behavior somewhat analogous with bees. Harvesters share physical commonality with their “Queen”, Hel. Horrific beauty incarnate. Created as adults not born, the same black oily fluid from the vats they emerge from oozing through their veins in a unique pattern that is indicative of their level of psychic ability; the greater the patterning the greater the talent and with it a higher hierarchical standing. Hel representing the pinnacle of this power.