Daniel Somerville would be the dream dungeon master of any role-playing game fan. He uses his incredible artistic abilities to bring his fantasy worlds to life, drawing dozens of creatures, locations, and maps, all for the sake of his players.
So how do you show appreciation for such a dedicated DM? A gift card? Maybe take them out for a nice steak dinner? Oh, how about helping pay for $450,000 in surgery bills?
You see, Daniel had a brain tumor removed earlier this month. While the procedure went well, his lack of health insurance left him with a massive debt. While he was still unconscious, his friends put together a crowdfunding page on Indiegogo, offering Daniel’s DnD art and maps as rewards to donors.
“The sheer numbers Daniel faced didn’t leave us with many options,” Daniel’s friend Tyrus Peace told GamesBeat. “Given the number of well known crowdfunding projects, both for business and non-business causes, it seemed like an obvious thing to try. There were varying ideas on how to implement the thing, but we’ve tried to keep it scalable while also featuring Daniel’s art in both the campaign and its rewards.”
Before he found out about the brain tumor, Daniel was looking into becoming a professional concept artist, specifically for the gaming industry. His friend Andrew Yolland listed some of his influences for us, “Daniel has been strongly influenced by (Japanese animation director) Miyazaki, concept artist Matt Rhodes, and his overall experience studying architecture. He is a huge fan of the work Mike Schley has done for Dungeons And Dragons and Wizards of the Coast.”
Daniel’s art found exposure on Reddit in a post titled, “My friend goes in for emergency brain surgery Monday night. I just want to show everyone the concept art he makes for his DnD game.” The Reddit community responded with enthusiasm, complimenting his art and wishing him well on his then upcoming surgery.
But as with any group of anonymous online commenters, some chose to respond more crassly. “I’m not gonna pay for a faggot’s debt just because he thought he could make it without health insurance,” said one especially…spirited Reddit user in regards to an updated post that linked to the Indiegogo page.
“The experience posting on Reddit has been overwhelming positive, but not without frustrations,” said Andrew. “Seeing all the well wishes and enthusiasm for Daniel’s art and story has really fueled this project. It’s obviously disheartening to encounter Redditors who react negatively or flippantly, but it comes with the territory. On a more basic level, I’m glad that Reddit likes stories like Daniel’s, because realizing that your hopes ride on whether or not your story is more moving than the latest cat video is kinda scary.”
As for Daniel’s health, he’s doing well. Doctor’s are hopeful that they’ve removed all of his tumors, and Daniel says in a journal entry on his DeviantArt page that he is now home.
The $450,000 price tag on his health weighs heavily on him, but the Indiegogo page created by his friends offers hope. “I wouldn’t ask if it was just my debt,” Daniel wrote in his journal update. “I would just spend the rest of my life paying it. But there’s no way my family can do this on their own, so any help would be very, very appreciated by all of us!”
The project to pay for Daniel’s medical bills has earned $7,926 with 39 days to go. If you want to help, please visit the page. We hope that Daniel stays healthy and DMs many more games to come.
GamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Purchase one of the first 50 tickets and save $400!