Sunday, March 4, 2012
Jim Roslof And The DSG
I was recently pointed to the blog of Bruce Heard, which got me to thinking about the 1986 ADnD Dungeoneer's Survival Guide and the art of Jim Roslof.
Jim Roslof illustrated about a quarter of the 33-odd illustrations in the DSG. In my mind, his art offerings provided the real snap to this late 1st Edition ADnD guidebook.
It's not surprising that the Drow should make an appearance in the illustrations of the DSG, considering that they are most famous of the underdark menaces.
The risk of becoming lost while dungeon-delving was an important feature of old-school DnD. Mapping is one of those activities that is eschewed by players of recent versions of DnD, as it is not "fun."
There are a lot of later DnD players that grew up with the art of Elmore, Easley and Parkinson. Those three artists introduced a more posed and heroic style to the art of DnD. The early DnD artists, like Roslof, seemed to understand the sensibilities and gaming styles of the first generation of gamers. In particular, that the game was about the mundane activities, like lowering the party into the dungeon. Roslof and others were still able to include a feeling of risk and danger in those illustrations.
Roslof was not the only artist involved in the DSG. Jeff Easley, Doug Chaffee, Greg Harper and David Sutherland also provided illustrations.
While I really like Easley's black and white art, when did DnD become about hot, scantily clad wenches?
Doug Chafee's artwork in the DSG, like the mushroom infested cavern, above, focussed equally on the adventurer's and the underworld environments.
Greg Harper displays a much heavier hand when it comes to his illustrations. I do like this piece, above, of a party fleeing from some demon-spawn. Still, the adventurers are more heroic than the ones we see in the artwork of old-school artists like Trampier, Otus or Holloway.
This uncredited David Sutherland piece is reminiscent of the aventuring tableaus found in the ADnD Dungeon Masters Guide appendices. It seems by 1986, DCS had been relegated to cartography and diagrams, and was no longer the go-to guy for depicting adventurers in historical armor.