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15 Minutes of Fame: Conversation with Liz Danforth, page 2


Any time for tabletop gaming these days?

I miss tabletop gaming, but it has not fit my life for many years now. When I moved to Tucson five years ago, some old friends encouraged me to join their GURPS group, which had been going nonstop for 20 years. I attended four times, but it simply wasn't that enjoyable to me. As a social event, the gaming interfered; as a gaming event, the socializing interfered. By comparison, I could log into WoW, immediately greet my guildies (many of them friends whom I knew IRL) and be off on an adventure two minutes later. Gaming and socializing were in balance.

My taste in tabletop gaming has mostly shifted to the quick beer-and-pretzel party games, not the long campaigns of RPG yore ... However, I'm looking into ways tabletop RPGs can be played via the computer with cams and shared workspaces -- arguably the best of both worlds. I know someone via Twitter who is doing this regularly with his D&D group. Nicole Lindroos of Green Ronin has promised to send me the DArpg books, and when they come, then I'll pursue how he's got things set up at that time.

ALA poster artSo for you, it all comes back to artwork at some point, doesn't it? Have you ever considered doing anything related to World of Warcraft?

I've done pics like the sketches of Winter, and I've considering doing a full-blown painting of him "someday" for a long time. When I attended BlizzCon in 2007, I talked with Jeremy Cranford who was then the art director for the WoW TCG. (It was Upper Deck then.) I'd done some work for Jeremy when he was AD for Magic the Gathering at Wizards of the Coast, and in fact he and I had lunch together and a tour of my artwork at that NASFiC I mentioned, up in Seattle before I even started playing WoW. He was willing to give me a try-out to see if I could do something sufficiently kickass to fit WoW's look and feel, but I never got a sketch I was happy with and never followed through. Highly dramatic action works are, sadly, not my strong suit artistically, and the CCG needed nothing less.

When the American Library Association asked me to do the publicity poster for National Gaming Day @ Your Library in 2009, I designed an image to include as many elements of different subgenres of games as I could: I make reference to Settlers of Catan, Guitar Hero, chess, tabletop RPGs conveyed via the multi-sided dice, and there's a Wii Mii. And then there's a fire mage in the lower right corner, a direct nod to my favorite virtual person and a tip of the hat to WoW.

Art by Liz DanforthThen too, the artwork I do often reflects the things I enjoy more generally. [This] sorceress picture has a very, very distant relationship to a warlock I once played -- a character I rolled up while in a spectacularly bad mood and who was thereafter always played as having a seriously badass chip on her shoulder. Seemed appropriate for a warlock, after all.

(And I'd make some reference to Christian Belt here, since I play a mage as my main and totally lived by his column ... and my warlock probably would have been the kind of person to drink her own pee and like it. She still exists, out on some unplayed-upon server, and I think she's all of level 44. Not really my cup of tea, and definitely not so once I had Winter to play. This doesn't mean she doesn't exist as a very nasty person in some of my Winterfic, however, since she was the antagonist in that very first story of his and is a prime mover in another very long WiP. She's much more interesting as a fictional character than as a toon.)

So will we be seeing any new gaming artwork from you in the near future?

It's hit or miss for me right now. I recently did a bunch of artwork in my old Traveller-style for a project Marc Miller is cooking up -- character portraits, mainly. He was happy with what I did, and we are talking about several more projects he has in the works.

I have two private commissions on my plate right now, and I'm very excited about those. I owe artwork for a charity fundraiser as well.

The greatest part of my attention, art-wise, is the concept art I'm doing for Namaste and for Storybricks.

Murloc by Liz DanforthAnd last but certainly not least ... Tell us about this murloc!

One day last summer (2010), one of my fellow librarians showed me Dan Reeder's Paper Maché Monsters, and I was entranced. I checked the book out because it looked like it would be a ton of fun to do one of these critters. My first intention was to do something like what Reeder does ... creepy dolls or goofy dragons. Then it hit me ... this would be the perfect way to make a life-sized murloc! I had a little time in my schedule just then, so I started putting it together. It was a ton of fun to do! I built the whole thing but got only halfway through the painting process before the murloc fell from the shelf I'd put it on, breaking a leg. I tabled it and began playing with some of the other ideas I had.

I started on a life-sized, wearable version of Arthas's helm, the Helm of Domination. OMG, there are a lot of fiddly bits on that thing! I used Model Viewer extensively so I could see what went where and how. I think a mounted trophy naga head would be awesome. I wanted to make that weird eyeball thing that pops out of a book in Acherus Hold. That looked like it would be easy, at least! Then my schedule grew busier, and everything got put on the back burner.

All I need is a clone of myself, to have enough time. The murloc, at least, is repairable and close enough to being finished that I think I'll get that completed sooner or later.

Keep track of Liz Danforth's continuing adventures in gaming on her blog and Twitter.

"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with these players, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Aron "Nog" Eisenberg to an Olympic medalist and a quadriplegic raider. Know someone else we should feature? Email

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