Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Fine Art of Dungeons and Dragons, Part 1

As I have stated before, I adore fantasy role playing games, and have a great fondness for Dungeons and Dragons. Though the hobby has changed greatly over the years, it still holds to the love of a roaring good fantasy adventure, with lots of fights, magic and daring-do.

And then theres the monsters...

I should mention that before D&D, there were very few resources available to the fantasy fan beyond The Lord of The Rings series, Tolkien rip-offs, and a small number of other books. And far fewer options to anyone who wanted to see artwork accompanying the stories.

When D&D came out, it was full of illustrations of every sort of monster from mythology and a great many from pulp and science fiction novels. Many of these illustrations were technically crude, but had a lurid energy that is hard to find in later versions. I gobbled those books up, even though I didn't have a group I hoarded those books and studied the art like nothing else.

The illustration to the left is a group portrait for a gang of monsters for a Planescape adventure called "Desire and The Dead". The three are (from right to left) Tarmouth, Rash Redwelt, and Gerr. The two on the left are two different types of demon, escapees from an eternal war with other infernal monsters, come to Sigil (a sort of cross-dimensional Casablanca) to start a new life.

Tarmouths race doesnt normally have the capacity to talk, but tarmouth has been changed to allow for it, though he is perpentually drooling a black tar-like substance. Rash is from a sort of taskmaster of the infernal, though now a person of some underworld importance, he tries to dress well. Gerr is a troll.
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I saw Eternity the other night,
Like a great ring of pure and endless light
-- Henry Vaughan