Iddy Approved: Sidekick Quests

Today’s installment of Iddy Approved highlights a product that can be purchased for a reasonable amount, which will make the owner the talk of any gaming group. I am speaking of a Player Character Sheet designed by illustrator, James Stowe.

In recent weeks, I have fallen into a new hobby of commissioning artists to illustrate the blog’s mascot, Iddy the Lich. After Grant Gould created the original design for Iddy, the next person to draw Iddy the Lich was Brian Patterson from d20monkey; as a side note, if you’re not following his webcomic every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then shame on you! Most recently, Cat Staggs tackled Iddy with greater realism and exchanged the original design’s “cuteness” factor with a healthy dose of horror.

I commissioned James to create a Character Sheet for Iddy the Lich in his DND for Dads style, which has been retitled Sidekick Quests. I gave him full reign in terms of design and only provided a few minor suggestions for possible loot; I mean, the d6 Staff has to be featured in the loot! The result of his fine work was posted earlier today at his site, ART by STOWE, as the conclusion to the Undead Week for his Advent Calendar of EVIL. If you are unfamiliar with his work or the Advent Calendar of EVIL, then please check out his site. Each character sheet is a blast to read and the art has a fantastic whimsical quality. Read on below to see his take on Iddy the Lich and learn more about his commission work.

I readily understand that commissioning art is a luxury and quite far from a necessity in today’s economy. Below, I discuss my experiences working with James on the Character Sheet for Iddy the Lich and present an argument that a commission for the favorite PC in your life is worth the money. But really, the final product should be all he persuasion you need!

The Sidekick Quests Character Sheet Experience

James’ style garnered a great deal of attention two months ago when he posted his work online. After some time, he opened for commissions to illustrate Character Sheets for PCs in his unique style. He has posted the completed commissions during the past two months, and they are wonderful to look at and read through. It’s truly hard not to smile flipping through the images and stat blocks.

After focusing on PC characters, he recently shifted to creating similar character sheets for monsters, starting with a deadly foe first featured in the d20monkey webcomic. From there, he announced his intentions for the Advent Calendar of EVIL, and that is where Iddy the Lich earned a chance to play in the holiday reindeer games.

Sidekick Quests Package

Pricing and details for the commissions are available online, but I will quickly summarize here. I opted for the $35 Bundle offer, which includes a Sidekick Quests style Character Sheet complete with art and stat block, the art created for the character in a separate file without the surrounding stat block text and a portrait headshot file, which can be imported into Character Builder to print out on your real character sheet through DDI. Although Lich is not a playable race in 4th Edition (yet), I still wanted to get the portrait headshot for the complete package.

If you decide against the Bundle and just want the Character Sheet, then it can be purchased for $25. James will create a complete Character Sheet for a PC or monster of your choice. A PNG and PDF file of the character sheet are sent to you through email once completed. Specific details can be offered to James to influence the “look” of the character. For example, you might wish to highlight that a PC has “flaming red hair and a sword wreathed in lightning.” You can be as “simple (or elaborately complex)” with the description of the PC for the commission.

However, you might not wish to get a full character sheet for the PC; perhaps you just want to see the PC drawn in the Sidekick Quests style. James offers that service for $15. And if you just want a cool headshot for your Character Sheet through DDI Character Builder, then that is $5.

Iddy the Lich Commission

Over the course of the past week, James and I have exchanged a small number of emails to set up the commission. I decided to let him loose to design the image and stat block text. He quickly responded by emails and seems to thoroughly enjoy the process of bringing the character sheets to life. I cannot speak to his future schedule for turn-around time, but it was nine days between my initial contact with him to start the commission and yesterday when I received the artwork and character sheet. From limited experience with friends (and friends of friends) who do freelance illustration work, that is extremely fast.

James was also responsive to the small amount of feedback I provided after he sent me the artwork. I loved the image, and his decisions on powers and other flavor text (all him) was fantastic! However, I spotted a couple of minor typographical errors and asked if they could be fixed. I honestly felt a bit difficult giving somewhat critical feedback because I was so happy with the final product, but he responded to that feedback in stride and made the appropriate changes. It seems that James will work with a customer to make sure the final product is perfect.

I asked James to give me a quick overview of the Sidekick Quests venture, and he was kind enough to share his thoughts:

Sidekick Quest began as a way for me to translate Dungeons and Dragons so that five 8-year-old boys could play it during my son’s 8th birthday party this past September. After the party I posted the sheets and the response they received in the gaming community was astounding. Interest grew enough that I adopted a quick label for them (DND for Dads) and began answering requests for girl themed sheets. After that there was still enough interest that I decided to offer commissioned sheets at what I figured was a reasonable price.

That was four months ago and I am still working on regular commissions. Enough that I’ve decided to move forward, rebrand to Sidekick Quests, and start to develop rules somewhat independent from the Dungeon and Dragons source material. The first step in that was developing monsters, hence the Advent Calendar of Evil. The next step involves a possible Kickstarter funded module and some convention trips. Ultimately I really enjoy doing this kind of thing and love the interactions with the hobby community it has created. I’ll be working on this for a long as there is interest and as long as my son still thinks it’s cool.

Final Thoughts

  • Obtaining art of your favorite PC is a delightful way to indulge yourself! It can also be a wonderful gift for someone in your gaming group. I know of many couples who play in the same gaming group, and one partner purchasing a Sidekick Quests Character Sheet for the other would score HUGE BONUS POINTS. Or perhaps you want to throw some love to your trusty DM who works her or his hands to the bone to create a fun adventure for the players; pool some cash together and buy your DM a Sidekick Quests Character Sheet of a significant NPC in the campaign who the DM features often. (hint, hint!)
  • Much like my Iddy the Lich dice bag by Dragon Chow is a hit with my fellow gamers, a Sidekick Quests Character Sheet will result in many “oohs,” “aahs,” and “oh dear, that’s adorable” from other players.
  • A final note, there is often a great deal of hand-wringing, discussion and speculation regarding the games that we play; I’m certainly guilty of this! But it’s a good thing to stop and realize that some things are just cool and should be supported. The art by James Stowe is cool, and I hope he can continue to create it, so I’m happy to be a patron. There are many ways you could spend up to $35 this holiday season, but supporting an artist who contributes something cool and charming to the gaming community is not the worst thing in the world.
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About The Id DM

The Id DM is a psychologist during the weekdays. He DMs for a group of fairly loyal and responsible PCs every other Friday night. In the approximate 330 hours between sessions, he is likely anxious about how to ensure the next game he runs doesn't suck.
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