Monday, February 24, 2014

February Artfest: AD&D Player's Handbook Cover by Dave Trampier

AD&D Player Handbook Cover by Dave Trampier
Over the last few years this cover by Dave Trampier has been fetishized by the old school community and been recreated countless times. Some have even called it the Greatest Cover Ever.

It's not though. 

This cover tells a lot about what it means to be an adventurer in the world of Dungeons and Dragons but it isn't the most inspiring cover. The adventures are shown after the battle, after the danger is long over, and other than the gigantic gems the idol uses for eyes there really isn't a lot here for you to want to emulate. 

They aren't heroes ready for battle, their bored adventurers hoping that something exciting will show up on the map around the next bend. 

Two Great Recreations of an Icon. 

By Dan Scott


By SaxonAngel

12 comments:

  1. Yeah… not sure I agree with you without being presented with a set of contenders. I'm with Jame's on this one: I still look at this cover as iconic of the highest order. The images you follow up with are honorific and flattering in revisiting the cover art and only reinforce the iconic nature of the original piece.

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    1. It's definitely iconic, but there are better covers out there for Dungeons and Dragons products. Off the top of my head I can name three better covers: the first ed DMG with the doors opening and all that treasure behind the hooded figure; the Second ed Jeff Easley PH with the warrior, thief and wizard; and first ed Wilderness Survival Guide. Of the three the Wilderness Survival Guide is my favorite and I'll actually be talking about it tomorrow.

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  2. Um, sure, they found the statue... Well done. Now, can they get out of here alive? In fact, the back cover tells more of the story. I'm looking at it now. It suggests more than 'bored adventurers hoping for some excitement'. Perhaps you should look again.

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    1. Reviewed the back cover, still unimpressed with the overall picture.

      There's nothing there that inspires me. I like the picture, it's just not my favorite D&D product cover - let alone my favorite Tramp picture.

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  3. Well, its for the players. The bard and cleric are checking the map. The fighter is honing his sword. The wizard is giving a "thumbs up" and a couple thieves are looting. Sounds good to me. I don't think they are hoping for excitement, though. They want to get out with the booty.

    http://castletriskelion.blogspot.com/

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  4. I like the miniature interpretation, but that PH2 cover is just godawful. At least, the color scheme ruins it for me. Lord Dyvers, can I ask if you enjoy the dynamic pose in the second picture, or what exactly, dude?

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    1. Ha, Lord Dyvers! That's pretty cool.

      Anyway, the cover for the PH2 is okay. The thing that I like about it is the aged look of the idol. Unlike the original where the idol is essentially featureless - no cracks, nothing that shows age or materials, no distinguishing features beyond the face - this version shows the idol is something that has existed for a long time; as though it were built by some long forgotten race. I don't really like the elvish thief or the blues in the background that seem to be infecting the orange statue.

      In the end though I tend to give the guy a break since he is reinterpreting an iconic image. That's never an easy task as you know that it's going to result in people talking shit about something you've spent endless hours working on and got paid good money to do.

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  5. I've always wondered if the thieves are with the rest of the group.

    Notice how most of the adventurers on the ground have their backs turned. The wizard might notice, but he's giving a thumb's up to the fighter cleaning his sword.

    As one of the thieves is prying out the eye-gem, the other is holding it as he gives a side-glance to the adventurers below--as if keeping a look out.

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    1. Dude, I never saw that before!

      This is why I love talking about these pictures, someone always sees something you miss and suddenly a picture takes on a whole new meaning.

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  6. To me, the original says so much about old school DnD that got lost in later editions, and is perhaps more revealing of intended play style than the contents!
    The characters are schemers with objectives, and not necessarily the same ones. While combat did indeed happen, combat wasn't the point. There's mystery, why are they sacrificing to the idol? Is that what they are doing? They're not just mapping, they're discussing how to use the map.
    Compare that to the heroic combat focused other covers.

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    1. I get where you're coming from Jon, but for me this cover comes in behind the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide, the Wilderness Survival Guide, the original DMG and it's sequel, and the Manual of the Planes.

      It's good; but not that great in my opinion.

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