Monday, May 22, 2017

Mentzer Basic Cover Art Prototype


Mentzer Basic cover art prototype.

Above is Larry Elmore's original idea for the cover art of Mentzer Basic. Frank Mentzer posted about it over on Facebook recently, with a photo of the original art taken by Jon Peterson. Here's part of what Frank wrote about it:

"Initial cover concepts were similar to the previous edition, portraying a group of adventurers with a dragon. That was almost used, but it bothered Gary [Gygax]. After the color images were ready to be finalized in oils, after a lot of plans were made, Gary changed course. He asked Larry to focus the action on just one fighter and one dragon ... and the world-famous Red Box cover emerged."

This version has more elements in common with the Holmes Basic cover art painted by David Sutherland. In addition to the huge red dragon on a pile of gold, there is a block stone archway in the background, and a wizard framing the left side of the composition, both casting a spell and providing an upraised light source (here a glowing staff, in Sutherland's a torch). 

Larry Elmore is currently offering a limited edition print of this original concept via his website. Thanks to Gus Landt for bringing this offer to my attention via a post on the Acaeum. Note that above I cropped the blank margins off the original image to focus on the painting, but that the print being offered includes the margins, which have production notes.

Update: Here's a mock-up of the Mentzer Players Manual with this artwork that Frank posted in the comments to his Facebook post:




Update #2: Over on the Acaeum, misterspock posted an auction photo of a TSR Companion Rules box mock-up. IIRC a photo of this mock-up appeared in a TSR catalog prior to the release of the set. This cover has prototype art showing the same party of adventurers - wizard in red with staff, halfling in green, fighter with the same boots and shield.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Portown Rumors PDF

Portown Rumors PDF - Page 1 - screenshot

I've taken the two versions of the Portown Rumors that were previously posted on this blog - the original and brief versions - and combined them into a single 3-page pdf. In this combined version you start with the 20 brief versions presented as a d20 rumor table similar to those found in classic TSR modules, which is then followed by the expanded versions in two-column format. Download the pdf here:

Portown Rumors PDF

Over on the ZA site, I've also added the link to the Holmes Ref and the Sample Dungeon pages. I also updated the Sample Dungeon page to refer to what we learned from the Holmes Manuscript.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Keep on the Borderlands cover study



This is a study for the famous cover of the module B2 Keep on the Borderlands by the late Jim Roslof (a bibliography of his work here). It just sold on Ebay for almost $10,100 (!). The auction listing (by the Collector's Trove, from the collection of Laura Roslof), states that "This is Jim's original color study that he used to determine how he wanted to paint the final cover art", and is in pencil, ink and watercolor on parchment paper.

The composition is very close to the finished product. Here the humanoids have more elongated snouts (and the one to the left has a pointed ear), perhaps more orc-like than the ones in the final picture, who are clearly hobgoblins with the orange-red faces and blue noses specifically described in the AD&D Monster Manual. 

Of note, the apparent caves on the hills in the background are more prominent in this study, particularly the one under the right arm of the elvish archer (who is bald here!). This supports that these holes are actually intended to depict the entrances to several of the Caves of Chaos entrances. For comparison, see this annotated cover image from an earlier blog post, Caves of Chaos Revealed:


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Blueholme Kickstarter - Final Day


Octocat by Chris Holmes preview from blog post

There's just about a day left in the Kickstarter for the Blueholme Journeymanne rules, a Holmes clone plus expansion that takes the four core classes up to level 20 and adds numerous monsters. It's produced by Dreamscape Design, who has a blog over here.

Cave Creeper by Chris Holmes preview from Kickstater

The primary goal of the Kickstarter is to fund artwork for the finished product. The bullpen of artists - at least 15 - includes Chris Holmes, whose contributions will include both Carrion Crawler & Displacer Beast analogs (see previews above), rectifying TSR's failure to use Chris' original art for the Holmes Manuscript. Chris has also write a Foreword for the book.


Old One art preview from ODD74 post

I've made a minor contibution myself: write-ups for two monsters previously featured on this blog, including the Green Grabber / Sleepflower and the Ancient Builder (appearing as Old One). (Disclosure: I am not receiving any money for this).

I've backed the Kickstarter at the Lord level for a pdf and softcover copy of the rules.