Over the locked-down Easter holidays, to stave off despair and depression, I did what any sane artist would have done: I drew dormice as D&D classes.
Their heroic and undaunted nature makes dormice naturally suited to the Paladin’s calling, playing to their natural instincts to protect the weak and helpless, even if finding someone who is actually weaker and more helpless than the paladin may sometimes present a challenge.
Tragically, many a dormouse paladin has seriously misjudged who was weak or helpless, with desastrous consequences.
Dormouse Rogues are rare, because stealing something is so alien to the dormice nature (though they are suberbly suited to the profession due to their uncanny stealth). If there is anything that might entice a dormouse to go down the road of roguishness, it’s a fat, ripe raspberry sitting around without an apparent owner (at a very cursory glance).
With her trusted companion, the Ranger roams far and wide through the wild, dangerous undergrowth of the field balk. Her green and brown garb makes the ranger almost invisible to the perilous denizens she stalks. Her bumblebee, however, is often forced to just hop from flower to flower, pretending to be just an ordinary bumblebee instead of a highly trained and intelligent animal companion.
“Beware the masked swamp owl!” Dormouse parents tell their children. “If she catches you, she eats you whole and spits out your bare white bones, which will forever haunt the marshlands!” Indeed, infestations of undead are most often found near the nests of the short-eared owl, terrorising the local dormouse dwellings. This was the main reason why the Order of the Sacred Hazelnut came into being, whose clerics use the benign powers granted by the Deity to turn and the undead, and grant them rest.
Only the most fearless of dormice aspire to join the ranks of Barbarians. The origins of this class of warriors are lost in legend, as is the origin of their traditional weapon, the chiesnif (though legend has it that the first chiesnif was taken as prize on the myth-enshrouded raid on Pantree). On this raid, it is said, Teepweep the Unterrified, the first of his name, almost disembowelled a cat.
Barbarians of today still honour Teepweep’s name, and like him, they dress in the furs of enemies they have slain (or found). Nothing kindles their battle rage as surely as calling them adorable.
Dormouse Fighters are very liberal spirits. These seasoned, battle-hardened little creatures are most happy roaming the land with a week’s of provisions, sleeping under the eaves and bringing their courage and their tempered steel to anyone needing their help.
Malicious gossip has it that all they ever use their tempered steel on is raspberries, which is of course completely preposterous.
Dormouse Monks aspire to the highest level of inner peace, balance, and self-control. Their bodies are the only weapons they need (or so they say). Their final test, in which they give proof of their control over body and mind and demonstrate sheer incredible restraint, takes place while their masters and their families are already at dinner.
Many a dormouse Monk has found that she has the greatest level of control and restraint while sleeping. The trick is to remain standing and not curl into a ball, and nobody will notice.
Dormouse Bards are generally seen as the happiest little creatures alive (and that is not just down to their consumption of raspberry wine). Always eager to entertain and educate, they tirelessly hold forth cheerful songs and ancient lore, to sounds of the walnut lute. They pride themselves on always getting strong reactions out of their audiences (though, granted, sometimes it’s an empty bottle accompanied by a yell of “You’ll attract the cats!”)
Dormice Wizards are rare, because most dormice lack the willingness to devote many years of study to the mastery of skills that have, in their opinion, little relevance for the important things in life (i. e., sleep and food). True Dormouse Wizards will be quick to point out that this is not true at all. In fact, to anyone who understands a little about arcane matters, it becomes clear immediately that dormice spells have rather more to do with sleep and food than magic in other parts of the world. Magic Missile, for example, seems to be a mashup of Magic Missile and Create Food. The great Wizard Avellinus has devoted his entire life to disentangling the unorthodox nature of dormouse spells and restore them to their original versions; to little avail.
Dormouse Sorcerers, like every other Sorcerer, trace their lineage back to semi-mythical sources that account for their native magical powers. Among the Big Folk, dragon, demon and tiefling ancestry is quite common; Dormouse Sorcerers are adamant that their magical powers stem from an ancient fairy link. They highlight this belief by their choice of garment and even behaviour.
Dormouse Sorcery is overwhelmingly benign (sometimes plain overwhelming) and always good-natured (unless by accident). Dormouse sorcerers are among the most easy beings to get along with, but for the love of all that is holy, don’t mention the horns.
Druids are among the most respected (and well-fed) people in Dormousedom. They know all the incantations for every shrub and tree (those that matter, anyway), how to make their branches grow into thickets, how to reduce their thorns, and most importantly of all, how to speed up the ripening of berries. If you have ever stood at a raspberry or bramble bush with fat ripe berries, and you could have sworn that the fruits were all green and tiny when you walked this way yesterday, that was most certainly the work of a Dormouse Druid.
I’ll probably end up putting together a booklet of these, as soon as the world is back to normal. And as soon as we have all found out what “normal” means.
So cool! And I love how you have thought through the backstory and mythos. I could see this being a Redwall-esque book or graphic novel series.
I love these! They have brought me so much joy, which is needed right now! Thank you so much for sharing.
I’ve been really enjoying these and would love to be able to get a little booklet of them!
These are all so very adorable!!!
Aaah! Don’t SAY that! At least not to the Barbarian.
These are so heart-lifting! Thank you so much for sharing them. I will never look at the dormouse in “Alice in Wonderland” the same way again… I truly can’t decide with of this illustrations is my favorite. If you make these available as prints or in a little book, I certainly would purchase one!
Absolutely lovely! I really hope you can make them available as prints!