Monday, April 14, 2014

Old School Illustrations: Advanced Wizard

I recently posted several illustrations from Metagaming's Advanced Melee rulebook. 

There were two other main resource books for The Fantasy Trip game system: Advanced Wizard and In The Labyrinth.  Like the art in Advanced Melee, the Advanced Wizard illustrations were exclusively produced by Robert Phillips. 

Arguably, the illustrations found in Advanced Wizard were the weakest of the three resource books, thematically and otherwise, because there were no illustrations of Wizards (surprising, considering the title of the resource book), nothing connecting the subjects to any identifiable milieu, and a complete absence of hot fantasy chicks.  We are instead treated to battles with sabre-toothed tigers, does that make up for the lack of the former two?
Various humanoid antagonists make appearances in Advanced Wizard, beating their chests, reaching into crevices, and otherwise posing menacingly.

Many of the best main sourcebook TFT illustrations appeared in the gamemaster's resource, In The Labyrinth.  But it seems odd that for a gamebook, wholly devoted to the development of Wizards, there are no images of Wizards.  Instead we are provided with  illustrations better suited to Advanced Melee and In The Labyrinth, like Conan-esque characters battling Lizardmen and Archers facing off against Giant Lizards.
Robert Phillips' illustrations tend towards minimal environment connecting the subject of the piece to the scene.  Take for example the two illustrations below, one of an adventurer discovering an exit from the labyrinth, and another of a guard protecting the entrance to one.  There's nothing in the background to connect the adventurer or guard to anything more than a generic fantasy world.
And there's nothing in the text of Advanced Wizard to tie any of these illustrations to the purpose of the resource book.  Though the illustrations fit into the broader Fantasy Trip aesthetic, I have to wonder how the editor and publisher justified the inclusion of this particular artwork in this gamebook.


Trey said...

Nice stuff.

Sean Robson said...

I've always loved the troglodyte-ish looking orcs(?) depicted in TFT, such as the two shown above on the rock outcrop. But you're right, of course, NOTHING makes up for a lack of hot fantasy chicks.

You make a great point about the curious lack of wizard illustrations in Advanced Wizard; considering how these evocative illustrations, particularly in In The Labyrinth, served to fuel the imagination, it is really too bad that we didn't get the same treatment for mages. It never really occurred to me when I was younger, though. I guess I always assumed that wizards would cast Summon Myrmidon and that we were witnessing the wizard's conjured thralls dispatching his enemies for him.

Stu Rat said...

Is there any evidence to say that the artwork was specifically commissioned for Advanced Wizard? It could be they (Howard Thompson) just bought a lot of Phillips' art and used what there was, wherever.

Besides it does illustrate one important point.
Summon Wolf can easily become Summon Sabertooth Tiger or Summon Crocodile as long as the stats remain the same.

Aaron E. Steele said...

Trey, I love that old black and white art, and this stuff had its own style, quite unlike the TSR equivalents, so it was a breath of fresh air.

Aaron E. Steele said...

Sean, I much prefer the Goblins from TFT to the DnD ones.

Did they produce TFT Goblins minis, I wonder?

Aaron E. Steele said...

Stu Rat, it would be interesting to find out what process was employed in determining the subjects to be illustrated. I can only speculate that the rules development and illustrations were completely disconnected. Pure conjecture, mind you! Any chance Phillips or Steve Jackson can be convinced by someone to provide that insight?

Angantyr said...

A similar observation can be made for "Tollenkar's Lair". Apart from the cover, which plausibly depicts Tollenkar, none of the few elements of interior art seem relevant to the module. This is quite a contrast to TSR releases, which had art directly tied to a given module.

Angantyr said...

Actually, there was a Goblin set produced in the TFT Microtures line. It included a wolf rider, even. See my recent post on the minis here: