Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Old School Monsters: Manticore
Here is another illustration from the Arduin Grimoire, this one by Bradley W. Schenck, otherwise know as Morno back in the day. This illustration, of the dreaded Manticore surprising an adventuring party in the depths of Skull Tower, appears on the back cover of Welcome To Skull Tower, the second Arduin rulebook. It is one of 14 black & white illustrations that appear in this book. I love the look on the face of the thief, wielding his dagger and a set of keys, as the Manticore leaps over him, knocking down the axe-armed Dwarf.
The 1977 AD&D Monster Manual describes the Manticore as possessing a tail of iron spikes, which are volleyed at its opponents prior to combat. The above, alternate Arduin Manticore, has a scorpion's tail, which I find far more interesting (and deadly). I also prefer this illustration to the one by Sutherland in the Monster Manual: both are black & white, yet the in medi res nature of this combat scene adds far more tension and excitement to the monster illustration.
Which brings me to another thing I love about the old approach to role-playing fantasy art: the use of multiple artists, and art styles, allowed for a heterogeneous depiction of adventurers, scenes, and monsters. That encouraged a flowering of imagination. My scorpion-tailed Manticore was just as permissible as your iron-spike-tailed version.