The Fantastic Art of Kimberly Hickey

This is all a labor of love and I am so very lucky to even have the chance to do try this whole Dark Aardvark thing as a full time gig. I have, however, very much underestimated how long it would take to get things out there. I am fine with that, but the biggest down side is that I have been hoarding some fantastic work by Kimberly Hickey. Without further ado, here is a sample of what I am talking about (with bonus watermarks):

Helping The Hobby Be More Inclusive

We are still working on figuring out how to get good prints of their braille dice, but that is only one way we want to help DotsRPG. Their mission is to provide gaming materials that make the Table Top Role Playing hobby much more accessible to those with visual impairment. This lines up quite nicely with our goal to help make gaming a fun and inclusive space that is just as diverse as the world at large.

So when they tweeted out about needing people to help send out letters to friendly local comic shops we were delighted to volunteer to help. It is pretty simple and can easily be done in a day. If you are interested in helping DotsRPG on their mission you can click this link for more information. 

The back of a sealed standard envelope with a sticker that reads "This missive was posted by DOTS Scribe Natalie Saunders & Dark Aardvark LLC

The back of a sealed standard envelope with a sticker that reads "This missive was posted by DOTS Scribe Natalie Saunders & Dark Aardvark LLC

Nerdy Pinup Shoot

I discovered two life long passions in my early teens. Pinups and Table Top RPG. 20+ years later these two passions of mine collided when I did my second pinup shoot with Grinkie Girl Photography and brought all my dice, a big plush d20, and two handbooks. The results are just fantastic... at least in my humble opinion. It is so much fun to let my worlds collide and find they work rather well all mixed together. 

Photographer: Grinkie Girls Photography
Hair & Makeup: Get Styled By Lela

State of the 'ark - January 2018

The first day of The Year of the Aardvark. Well, at least we hope so. There is even a hash tag #YotA And the “we” is a little bigger, at least for a while. We are welcoming a new collaborator, Ashley. She is a co-host of the geeky and marvelous podcast Geek Please. Her day job with us is gonna involve geeky creativity. The details of release dates and things are not settled, and will change when reality refuses to bend to our whim as we would like. Though we can say that first up is a dice rolling app. There are more than a few of those around already, but we gotta start somewhere right? Also, none of them have our logo on them!

Another way we hope to make this the Year of the Aardvark is with more content. We have a little stockpile of characters to release and the fantastic artist Kim Hickey is still on the case making more wonderful art for those. Well after returning from a much-needed holiday break. In addition to these updates about us in the “State of the ‘ark” there is going to be a mid-month post about what inspires us, things we love and want to boost, and any other gaming related things that fill our heads. That brings us to… videos.

The core of our idea, what we think we can bring that you can’t get elsewhere is the video content. We have cast the anchor for our first “news” stories. More details will follow regarding that, but they have experience in news broadcasting including writing actual news copy. This should translate into making these have the weight a real news broadcast can have and in turn be a powerful tool at the gaming table in terms of immersion. This is another spot where details are still being worked out, but we are hopeful to start shooting in spring and have a sample, at the very least, available on the website before summer.

We have been quiet. It was calculated with the holidays and other obligations, but it was all so we could make some noise in 2018.

State of the 'ark - December

December is a month for many things. Not everyone marks December as the final month, but one thing that is common across all the myriad of names and times of year a culture holds to, reflection and thinking of ways to make the next year better. 

This year, 2017, is the year Dark Aardvark became an actual legal entity, but the idea for it has been simmering for years. It's been inspired and shaped by countless muses from watching the GMs running in my games to my own experiences behind the screen. It is still evolving and hopefully always will. 

Which brings us to the next year... and many after if you like what we do. I know it's hard to tell now a little but we are working on it. Video content is being developed currently with an aim to start getting a small group of them available in the first few months of the year. There will also be some more content regularly going up. A second monthly post about things that have or are currently inspiring us, behind the scenes content such as a post from artist Kim Hickey about her process creating the character art. 

Above it all we will grow and learn and make the best enhancements and assets that help you set the mood and engage with your fellow role players. 

State of the 'ark - November


It's here, the month we start releasing content. We can start joining your table! Tomorrow we unleash Gina Blackstone on the gaming world. You can see her down this post a little ways. It has been so difficult to hold back this artwork from Kim we seriously cannot wait another day to give you a glimpse.

You might recognize that surname. Gina is the great-great-great-great granddaughter of Eliza Blackstone, the heroine of our cliffhanging comic. We said that story would still get told, and we were not blowing smoke up your Victorian era skirts there. We just can't tell you when, because we don't know yet. 

Gina Blackstone | CEO The Blackstone Group | rEvolution  Artist: Kimberly Hickey |  @OctopusOwl

Gina Blackstone | CEO The Blackstone Group | rEvolution

Artist: Kimberly Hickey | @OctopusOwl

The first characters we release will all be from the setting/world we are building for eventual release titled "rEvolution". Gina is the head of one of the main organizations in that. The leader of the other major organization is Sebastian Varga, you'll get to meet him properly in December, but he is mentioned now for an important reason. Diversity. 

Sebastian is of Latin descent and also a trans man, another character is a WoC with spina bifida that is a master of engineering, yet another is a heavier young woman that loves cryptozoology. Where this is going is that the world is being designed from the ground up be representative of the world we live in. People of varying shades, creeds, sexualities, beliefs, etc. We want the tapestry of our game world to be as rich and varied as humanity is... even a little more with the fantasy nature of the setting. Werewolves can be non-binary too you know. Perhaps more importantly these are people for whom these differences are but an aspect of a whole person. 

We think we have a good handle on that, though we are sure we will make mistakes. We are also sure we are not experts in under/poorly represented groups and cultures. If you are an expert in a particular group that needs better representation in media and entertainment and wish to be an adviser or even have ideas for characters please let us know. You can e-mail our Creative Director Natalie at Please refrain from any unsolicited pitches you don't want to give away. 

State of the 'ark - October

It's a busy month for us but we are looking forward to tackling the challenges. The big focus currently is getting characters ready for release in November. Artwork has been created for two characters and we are looking forward to release them and all those to follow!

On the subject of that artwork, our character concept work is being done by the amazingly talented and delightfully geeky Kimberly Hickey. She has been fantastic to work with and is so invested in making fantastic images for you to use in your games! You can find her on twitter at @OctopusOwl

The month will also find us moving forward with more pre-production on news videos. These are progressing a bit slower then we would like, but we also want them to be quality right from the start so the wait will be worth it. This includes continuing to work on stories, implementing the digital assets. You know the really glamours parts of all we do... A release date for these is still a bit fluid, but early 2018 is the current time frame.

3d Printing Tests

We are stoked about getting a handle on using the 3d printer. Our logo is the only thing modeled in house. The bracelet and ring sizers are both from Thingiverse and the puzzle piece hanger is included with the Dremel 3d printer we have. It's become clear that priming is necessary before painting. Actually how we process them after they print needs to be refined in total so that is the next phase for this particular realm of creating.

State of the 'ark - September

It's the start of our second month of really ramping up! We ran our first session of alpha testing the setting we are working on, wrote more material for that setting, started really getting to know the UPS and FedEx drivers that bring us stuff like EVA foam and lighting kits, started sewing some projects, building assets for making some maps, and generally just having a great time working hard. We were even able to do our first interview with our friends at the Geek Please Podcast. (Our founder Natalie sits down with Ashley for episode 16)

So when will this work translate into us joining you at your gaming table?

November 2nd

Yep. We are putting an actual date on content release! Thursday's we begin releasing characters! There will be a page of art of the character, a short character bio, and at least one character sheet. 

First u[ to be released is Gina Blackstone. If that last name looks familiar to you, yes she is related to Eliza! We may have needed to pull her comic before it ended, but we are still going to get that story out to you... eventually. :)

The details are still being hammered out and we are working on the exact schedule past the initial release in the run up to the debut and we'll outline all that better in a future State of the 'ark.

- Natalie



State of the 'ark - August

Hello and welcome to the first "State of the 'ark". This will be an ongoing blog and video posts about what is going on with us at Dark Aardvark! We will do longer posts on the first Monday of each month as well as mini updates as needed. 

So, what are we up to? 

It is the start of our second week in our space. Lots of cleaning, shopping, building furniture, rearranging furniture, and attempting to actually make progress on content has happened.

Our space is... spacious, but don't be fooled by those empty stretches you see below, they won't last forever. We will be equipped to create props and costumes, space for two small sets, pre and post production work, as well as a possible sound booth for voice recording.

The focus for the space is shifting over to the studio space. It was the driving force for the decision to get our own space. So along with that we will be working on developing "news stories" to film. This will primarily involve writing scripts and casting a reporter or two. We are aiming for early fall to start releasing these. 

Also, since all that isn't enough, we are gearing up to start bringing out characters for use in campaigns. Each character will have a short biography, a character sheet for at least one system, and concept art. To start the focus will be on characters from the setting that is being developed, so you can count on at least Mutants and Masterminds for the system.

So you're all caught up with us. We are really looking forward to start getting content up and becoming part of your role playing tool kit!

We've been quiet... a little too quiet...

We love the comic and are working on a series or two, but we are a company that makes media for table top games right? Right. So let's catch up with what is in the works for that.

We are currently searching for some space to call our own. There is a lot we can get done in home offices and coffee shops but we also have some props, sets, costumes, all manner of things to make or acquire that currently there just is no space for. That is our final frontier. Well actually our final frontier is being at the table top with you. That will just get us one giant leap closer. 

For this we are so immersed in world building we are starting to forget where our setting ends and reality begins. Tentatively titled: rEvolution. It's a modern setting in our very own reality where magic is just starting to return from fantasy to fact. One group wants the power of magic to lie with the people, another thinks it is better if there are regulations and controls. Other interests move in the shadows. Are they interested in staying hidden or are they vying for power? What do the hero's do, pick sides? Complete themselves? Pit rivals against each other? 

We have grand plans for the setting and can't wait to show you when they are done, but that might take us a little bit to get just right for you. Some aspects and adventures for this setting will begin play testing in mid-August. Characters, creatures, one-shot adventures are among what we hope to start sending out into the world. From our major setting and beyond.

This brings us to media. Video, audio, handouts, oh my! As we mentioned before the types of spaces we are looking at would allow for a space to film/record some basic content at the very least. This means things like a news story about a robbery, vampire attack, etc to bring an immersive element and help draw players into their characters and drive game play. That is not to say we will be limited to our space though, there is no plan to every stop shooting at actual locations. 

So there you have it. All caught up on what where we are at. Our silence was due to work but soon work is going to mean not being silent! We are looking forward to showing you why we should be at your table!

Natalie Saunders
Founder & Creative Director




SFX makeup proof of concept

We went to three different stores in the metro area and purchased things from all of them for this. A little from each actually wound up in this project. However we do wish we would have saved some time by starting at Midwest Makeup Supply as they had everything we needed and more. It is a store that would actually be perfect for the MUA Mykie whose tutorial we followed for this as it is full of products for both Glam and Gore looks. 

What was this trial for? We will need to do SFX for a lot of projects we have in mind. This specific creature, after more "fleshing out" (yep a pun, deal with it) is intended for use in a surveillance video Game Masters can show players as a "monster of the week" to hunt or whatever other use they may find! We are all about sparking the creativity after all. Just another of the sorts of things we are working to bring the RPG community! 

Also how about that last photo huh? We call it "Whatcha thinking about?"

Projects in the works

We know it is kinda boring around here currently, but we are working on changing that! Here is a little list of things we are working on:

  • A one-shot comic about a Deadlands character's background. She is a blood mage that has to choose to be good every day. Hopefully this is the start of many comics based on some of the favorite characters we play!
  • Live action news stories intended as adventure seeds for games. Eventually some of these will be bundled in with pre-made original adventures. The plan is to be able to produce these segments with the right look and feel for any decade from the 60s through today to maximize their ability to fit into your campaign, though we will start small and focus on current settings. 
  • A campaign setting for magic wielding and/or superheros! We can't say much about it yet, but it involves Atlantis, secret organizations, and political intrigue. 

Seeking Artists

We are small team with some great creative talent, but drawing just isn't one of them. Eventually we hope to have the need for an artist or two on staff but currently we are seeking anyone interested in freelance/commissions. The project closest to being put into production is a one-off comic set in the version of the wild west presented in the Deadlands rpg. For more details and/or to submit a portfolio please email Natalie using