Saturday, February 19, 2011

David Trampier And The Giant Spider

Here is another black and white David Trampier illustration, a full page treatment of an adventuring party and a Giant Spider. This illustration appears in the 1977 Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual.

I love the off-camera character, on the right side of the illustration, pointing at the giant spider, with the halfling beside him displaying a stunned or horrified look.

The rest of the party is clearly oblivious to their imminent doom, instead focused on some other off-camera dungeon feature, and only vaguely interested in the sticky web barring their way, with the fighter lazily attempting to cut through the strands. Or perhaps the magic user and dwarf are cautioning the fighter against or encouraging him into using the torch on the web.

Note that the fighter is not your buff, plated superhero, but looks to be rather modestly furnished with a backpack, sword and scale or chainmail armor. The dwarf seems to be wearing splint mail and has a shield strapped to his back. I think its also interesting that the fighter is the party member carrying the torch. Did it get passed to him just before the events depicted in this picture?

Another fine example of implied narrative from Tramp. How will this scene resolve itself? Will the party be surprised, and the fighter felled by the poison of the Giant Spider? Or will they notice the spider lurking above, and succeed in defeating it and collecting its treasure?

16 comments:

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...

Now see, I always thought that the fighter had just slid his sword under there to get a closer lok at it, and they were and they were actually quite intent on it. After all, otherwise the fighter must have rolled a 3 for his Int score, because he's trying to cut it with the back of his blade!

Capcha: Prigi. More JOESKY capchas.

James Maliszewski said...

Spiders are evil. That is all.

limpey said...

I've always really liked this picture. The implied narrative (what might happen next) is a big part of the attraction.

Sean Robson said...

I love this picture. I suppose the fighter has the torch because he's probably always the one in the lead. If it was me, I'd make the halfling go first and carry the torch, but I am Chaotic Selfish.

Carter Soles said...

This has always been one of my favorites, a very spooky spider indeed.

Dylan said...

Agreed. I made sure to show this picture to my wife (who hates spiders). There's something patient and silent and deadly behind those milk-white eyes...

Clovis Cithog said...

my money is on the spider . . .
Spiders are good;
they eat other creepie crawlies,
and the occassional careless adventurer ; - )

Welleran said...

I've easily seen that picture a thousand times and never noticed the pointing hand.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...
Now see, I always thought that the fighter had just slid his sword under there to get a closer lok at it, and they were and they were actually quite intent on it. After all, otherwise the fighter must have rolled a 3 for his Int score, because he's trying to cut it with the back of his blade!

Just wait until the sword cuts through the webs, hits the fighter in the neck and results in a critical fumble/decapitation.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

James Maliszewski said...
Spiders are evil. That is all.

Dungeon vermin are hard to use effectively. How do you create the necessary creepiness/horror buildup?

A Paladin In Citadel said...

limpey said...
I've always really liked this picture. The implied narrative (what might happen next) is a big part of the attraction.

Tramp seemed to have a natural inclination to "go there" with his illustrations.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Sean Robson said...
I love this picture. I suppose the fighter has the torch because he's probably always the one in the lead. If it was me, I'd make the halfling go first and carry the torch, but I am Chaotic Selfish.

Me too. I'm always trying to propose seemingly plausible reasons why other people should take the risks that I would never take myself ... in the game ...

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Carter Soles said...
This has always been one of my favorites, a very spooky spider indeed.

A great deal of that can be chalked up, I think, to Tramp's B&W technique.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Dylan said...
Agreed. I made sure to show this picture to my wife (who hates spiders). There's something patient and silent and deadly behind those milk-white eyes...

Yes, the eyes are very creepy!

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Clovis Cithog said...
my money is on the spider . . .
Spiders are good;
they eat other creepie crawlies,
and the occassional careless adventurer ; - )


TPK my friend; TPK...

If only you could create the right atmosphere in the moments leading up to the appearance of the spider.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Welleran said...
I've easily seen that picture a thousand times and never noticed the pointing hand.

Along with implied narrative, Tramp was a master of the easter-egg ...