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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:


  1. Man, I loved Roslof's art, especially his color module covers. This is just an excellent piece (love the cherry blossom!), and one of my top three favorites (though #1 will always remain the cover to D1-2).

    Gosh. Looking at this makes me want to play D&D.
    : )

  2. Thanks for posting this! Really cool to see a new artifact from B2.

  3. I grew up with that module loving the cover--but never noticed the caves! I guess what throws you off is not seeing forested hills. I kinda prefer the starkness of this version.