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Shark-jaw Skeleton

Written by Marc_Radle - Published on April 25, 2014

pen2This illustration was originally done for a collection of somewhat off-the-wall constructs published by Super Genius Games. The brief simply said something like “a collection of shark bones magically animated to form a vaguely humanoid-shaped automation“. In doing my initial research, I discovered that sharks don’t actually have many bones – most of their bodies are instead made up of cartilage (who knew?) Some of the only actual bones most sharks have are in the heads, with the jaw bones being some of the largest. Plus, the shark’s jaw bones have all those interesting and nasty teeth! So, I decided that the construct I would illustrate should be comprised of nothing but the jaw bones of numerous different sharks! I researched until I had a collection of maybe a dozen or so different, cool-looking shark jaws for reference. I used these references to create the illustration and I was quite happy with the result.

More than a year later, I was writing an adventure for Raging Swan Press called The Sunken Pyramid. This is a large, underwater adventure involving sahuagin, a mysterious, submerged pyramid-like rock structures and an ancient evil. In addition to writing the adventure itself, I also did many of the illustrations.

shark-jaw skeleton

Anyway, one of the encounters involved a roughly circular underwater chamber filled a third of the way with bones. In brain-storming about what cool monsters I might have lurking in this chamber, I of course thought of skeletons. But normal skeletons are kind of boring. Then, I remembered my shark-jaw construct illustration and immediately thought of an idea for an undead creature made up of shark jaws. Since the adventure revolved around sahuagin, such an undead shark-jaw skeleton made perfect sense! I contacted the good folks at Super Genius to make sure they didn’t mind if I used the illustration (they told me to go for it!), sat down and statted up my new shark-jaw skeleton and then built what turned out to be a pretty darn interesting encounter for my adventure!

Coolest Comment

Ok, since this illustration comes from my The Sunken Pyramid underwater adventure, tell me about your coolest sahuagin encounter or underwater gaming memory/moment in the Comments section below. Best one within the next week gets the Shark-Jaw Skeleton original mailed right out to them!

Written by Marc_Radle

I’m a professional graphic artist and designer by trade. In my copious amount of spare time, I also do freelance illustration, writing, and graphic design. I’m also the Art Director for Kobold Press (sleep is highly overrated!)

I started playing D&D as a kid in the late 70s—good old 1st Edition AD&D! My friends and I also played many other RPGs back then—Marvel Superheroes, Champions, Elfquest, FASA’s Star Trek, Star Frontiers, the list goes on—but it always came back to AD&D! I faded out of gaming sometime after 2nd Edition came out—partially because 2nd Edition just didn’t quite do it for me (although I did play 2nd Edition a little though and certainly enjoyed some aspects of it) but also because my gaming friends all turned into grown-ups, got real lives, and moved away when I wasn’t looking!

The 3rd Edition of D&D really pulled me back into the hobby again, and I’ve since become a HUGE fan of the Pathfinder RPG.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with lots of great game companies, including Kobold Press, Super Genius Games, Raging Swan Press, Jon Brazer Enterprises, Tricky Owlbear Publishing and even Last Unicorn Games (back in the day)

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3 Responses to “Shark-jaw Skeleton”
  1. Changing_Man says:

    Wow, with all that work for so many different projects- I hope you’re not biting off more than you can chew!

    That undead construct, and old-school-style adventure is really something I could sink my teeth into. But I digress…

    My most memorable moment involving sahuagin comes from way back in the day, in that AD&D1e/ 2e ‘crossover’ period. (Our gaming group already had a lot of the 1e stuff, and were gradually accumulating and incorporating what we could of 2e). Anyhow, our merry little band had decided to take it upon ourselves to investigate the troubles that a seaside village was having with monsters raiding from the sea, coming on shore to pillage, and all that good whatnot. Initially we suspected that it was a band of pirates disguised as sea-creatures, but our first encounter with the sahuagin proved that to be wrong. We fared ok against the critters (considering they were fighting us on land), but we quickly determined we’d need to find a way to hunt them down and confront them on their own turf.

    After a short side-quest to get ourselves outfitted for the crawl- and yes, it was a cavern-crawl, with some areas breathable and some submerged (It made sense at the time)- we set off to confront the dreaded Raiders of the Red Tide. We made our way down through three levels to the final show-down when things got decidedly… unpleasant… for my character.

    As usual, my Elven Thief (yes, we were THIEVES back then, not Rogues) was sent ahead on scouting duty. But alas, not even my prized Elven Cloak and Boots were of any help- thanks to some botched Move Silently & Hide in the Shadows rolls. I was totally ambushed, netted, stuck in the side with a trident, and dragged into the water before I could so much as blink. Fortunately, I was able to shout out a warning to the rest of the party. Unfortunately, they decided to advance [i]cautiously[/i] instead of rushing to my aid. (What can I say, times were tough back then).

    So here I am, entangled, being dragged down to the bottom of who-knows-where by the biggest sahuagin I’ve ever seen. I’m thinking the DM had it in for me, since he decided that I, the lowly thief, would be facing off against the sahuagin leader instead of, oh, say, the Fighter (?!)- the guy who would actually stand a [i]chance[/i] in a toe-to-toe fight with the guy(?!). From my vantage point underwater I could see the mook sahuagin swimming up and engaging my comrades-in-arms, even as I was descending. Thankfully enough, I had already gotten a hold of a Ring of Water-breathing, so I knew I wasn’t going to drown. But that trident blow had really left me reeling, down 3/4 of my HP in that one shot. But my Dex was high enough that with a simple check I was able to get my dagger free, and started hacking away at the net entangling me.

    By the time I managed to get myself free, Arnie Schwarzensahuagin had caught on that I was cutting out of the net and started posturing for a ‘mano y mano’. I started wishing that I had traded my one nice-size ruby for a Brooch of Free Action, since I was practically moving in slow motion underwater. Figuring that the DM was going to try and nickel-and-dime my HP away, I figured my best chance was if I could at least regain some lost HP, so I declared I was reaching for one of the potions I had in my backpack, since I had a 2-in-4 chance of snagging a Healing draught. No such luck. The DM snickers as it turns out that I pulled out the ‘Wispy light blue potion, previously identified as a Potion of Gaseous Form.’

    DM says, “So, you’re floating there with this useless potion in your hand as the big guy lunges at you, mouth wide open full of razor-sharp teeth, ready to bite your head off…”

    Me: “Whoah, I still I have initiative- and on the round I pulled the potion he moved into position, so now it’s my turn. I cram the potion into his open maw with one hand and smash him in the jaw with the other!”

    DM: “wait, what?”

    Me: “You heard me. I’m shoving the potion into his mouth and slamming his mouth shut so the bottle breaks. You’re always telling us how fragile those potion bottles are, and how we have to watch out that they don’t break, so it should be a simple matter to break the bottle once I have it in his [b]wide-open close enough to smell what he ate last week mouth[/b].

    DM: “… ok, but you’ll need to make an attack roll to hit him in the jaw, and if you do, [i]maybe[/i] the bottle will break. Roll it.”

    Natural 20. I didn’t really do any effective [i]damage[/i] to the big sahuagin with my pathetic fist to the jaw (in fact, the DM ruled I took some bite damage on my hand that was inside his mouth- but I still had 2 HP left), but at least my plan of getting it into his mouth and breaking it worked.

    Me: “Ha! Take that, you fish-faced freak! Ok, so he’s got a mouthful of broken glass and potion, and his mouth is closed. So what happens?”

    DM: “Well… he, uh… swallows it… and the potion takes effect. Hold on, I gotta look this up…”

    So, already long-story made shorter, the BigBad sahuagin turns to Gaseous Form [i]since that’s what the potion makes you do[/i], and he’s out of there like a fart in the bathtub, streaking upwards towards my comrades-in-arms (to much flatulence noises from some of the other players as the BigBad makes his appearance). I take my time to get my healing potion, and while they’re taking care of things on the surface, I leisurely help myself to the sahuagin’s treasure cache. After all, all’s fair in Old School. I didn’t see any of them jumping in to save me, and hey, what’s the problem? There’s still some loot left. What else did you expect? I’m playing a Thief, for cryin’ out loud…

    May all your Hits be Crits!

  2. MythicParty says:

    Hey Changer-

    AWESOME Comment & great story. Thanks very much for sharing.

    And ironic that you mention ‘crits’ because that’s our very next article!


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