Friday, July 2, 2010

Open Friday: "Don't Worry, Rufus ..."

Coming into the hobby only 1979, I never owned many of the monochrome-covered D&D modules. My copy of The Village of Hommlet, for example, was the 1981 reprint that replaced the original Dave Trampier cover art with illustrations by Jeff Dee (whose Villains & Vigilantes 2.0 was just released this week, in case you needed reminding), such as this one:

Now, I'm on record as adoring T1 for reasons I've explained before. However, many of my childhood friends hated it, thinking it dull and uninspired. Indeed, one of them used to make fun of the module by pointing to this illustration, which we presumed illustrated the NPCs Burne and Rufus, and making up dialog to go with it:

Burne: Don't worry, Rufus, there'll be other dungeons.
Rufus: *grumble*

It's not especially funny now, I'll admit, but, at the time, we found it hilarious, including notorious stick-in-the-mud me.

Anyway, this made me wonder if anyone else had ever wondered about this illustration and the rather strange poses adopted by the two characters. Did you think they were Burne and Rufus and, if so, what were they doing? Did you think they were someone else? If so, who?

Have fun with it. I'm off for the day and will be back tomorrow, as usual.

28 comments:

  1. Yes, I assumed they were Burne and Rufus. I didn't put much thought into their poses. But I did wonder how they killed the green dragon without the help of a cleric.

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  2. Every time I see this picture, I immediately think about this article by "Lectric Lich":

    http://gaygamer.net/2007/03/top_10_gayest_tabletop_charact_9.html

    The highlights include these character descriptions:

    "Burne: "His Most Worshipful Mage of Hommlet" (Seriously! It's in the Adventure!): 8th level magic-user... Burne is on the young side for a magic-user, average in appearance and dress, and will often frequent the Welcome Wench (yeah, total bar fairy)... This NPC is a bit on the greedy side. All services rendered will be paid for handsomely!" (Oh, I bet. Is that a magic-wand in your keenly accessorized waist sash or are you just happy to see me?)

    Rufus: 6th level fighter. Equipment: "+1 chain and shield; +1 axe (battle); carnelian scarab...." Another snappy accessorizer, but the stats don't say anything about Rufus's +5 pink leather armor of fabulousness. Can I get an errata check?! It also seems like I'm not the only one to take note of this sassy soldier's gaudy garb "...when he reaches 8th level [Rufus] has been instructed to return to Verbobonc for special service in the Viscount's behalf." Ooooh, this sounds like the royal way of saying "come back and see me sometime, soldier." To get those two levels, though, Rufus isn't taking things lying down... or on second thought, maybe he is: "Rufus leads a squad of men-at-arms and has been appointed as the overall commander of the village troops as well." And we all know nothing torrid ever happens out in the bunkhouse with all the town's best and brightest men in uniform."

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  3. Hmm...the particular illustration you post is one I associate with the AD&D Character Record Sheets accessory, not the Village of Hommlet. Of course, I'm more familiar with the sepia-toned T1, but isn't there some zombie bashing going on in the Dee illustration? I don't remember anything that would associate this illustration with Rufus and Burne.

    @ The Myth: Wow...my head would never have gone there. But there are indeed homoerotic underpinnings to the whole T1 module. Huh...I wonder how to best make use of that the next time I run T1...?

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  4. i will say that when I tried to find an on-line version of this pic for my blog about Hommlet, the only copy I could find was on gaygamers.com

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  5. JB, The pic is on the BACK cover of the module...

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  6. If I recall right, that illustration was brought back to advertise Greyhawk Adventures in the late 90's, with the tagline "What the Hell is a baatezu?"

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  7. Burne: "So, you see, it was entirely necessary for me to try the Polymorph spell on your hirelings until I got it right. I'm sure you'll be able to pick up some new ones with no problem!"

    Rufus: *grumble*

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  8. Yes, I always assumed these guys were Burne and Rufus, especially since the tower under construction in the background more or less looks like the description inside the module of the one they are having built.

    And I second the homoerotic vibe, though I don't think it's there intentionally or has any validity. Dee's male figures often exude a not entirely masculine physicality (to me, at least). The additional detail of these guys cohabitating led my puerile imagination to fill in the blanks. I mean, who hasn't been told by a parent at some point, "Oh, Ron? He's just your uncle's good friend from the Navy, and that's why they live together."

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  9. When I saw that illo I pegged it as those weird Dee poses. Just like anytime I see Erol Otus art I peg it as those weird Otus faces.

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  10. Burne: Oh come on, it'll be fun being NPCs for a change! Besides, its just a temp job. I'm sure we'll be remembered for something other than this...


    Rufus: *grumble*

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  11. Looks to me like someone got the only magic item in the spoils.

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  12. " I mean, who hasn't been told by a parent at some point, "Oh, Ron? He's just your uncle's good friend from the Navy, and that's why they live together."

    lma1 Best comment ever!

    bitd, I remember us assuming Rufus and Burne were, uh,"life-partners" as well. In the Hackmaster version of ToEE, they hint even stronger at that possibility.

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  13. The thing I remember from the Village of Hommlet is that the cover looks like an armored chef is about to prepare some lobster for dinner.

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  14. I'd like to know what Jeff Dee thinks about all this.

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  15. Burne: Oh stop! These new uniforms were on discount! And if we keep out of the sun the rubber won't get hot! Now start strutting.

    Rufus: *grumble*

    (Anybody else notice how weird their ribcages are in this picture?

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  16. Caption:

    Burne: "There. Simple fireball took care of that one."

    Rufus: (pouting) "Not fair! He always kills them first!"

    For the record, I've never been very fond of this comic or anime-style art for fantasy games.

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  17. Classic Jeff Dee: Every adventurer takes his Pilates seriously during off-time. And all adventuring gear is made up of brightly colored, skin-tight, unstable molecules. You know, for hiding and polymorphing. :)

    I tried very hard to draw like Jeff Dee for YEARS...

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  18. Heh. When I was a kid Jeff Dee was my favorite as well. (These days I am more of a David Trampier and Erol Otus fan.) Dee's figures always did seem to have a somewhat strained, awkward physiology... something definitely more geared to a comic-book style. Especially with the garish colors. But, to give Dee his props, when he set down to draw something well he could really pull of some cool stuff. Take the picture from the Slavelords James has posted as "Nice Helmet". There is also some classic Dee work in the Rogues Gallery.

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  19. I also associate this image with the character record sheets.

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  20. Burne: That's right, we're Burne and Rufus, Adventurers Extraordinaire!

    Rufus: It was supposed to be *RUFUS* and *BURNE*.

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  21. I remember making fun of Burne's "Smurf" hat in this illustration.

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  22. There are people who don't play Rufus and Burne as devoted lovers?

    .....Weeeeeiiiird

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  23. Love that pic. I'm a big fan of Jeff Dee, as well as Roslof, and Willingham. I liked the "Supers" look :O)

    I always thought it was R&B- and just figured that Burne was a more welcoming type personality, and Rufus was untrusting of strangers :shrug:

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  24. Rufus and Burne: the original Village (of Hommlet) people. :)

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  25. Burne: Oh Rufus . . sometimes you're just so . . . Rufusy!
    Rufus: Burrrrn. . .

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  26. No doubt my friends and I were horribly naive as young people but I don't recall our ever assuming that Burne and Rufus were anything more than good friends. I realize it's a pretty widespread belief nowadays that there was more going on there than is stated in the text of T1, but we never saw it. Honestly, I'm still not sure that I do but I'm a hopelessly unironic kind of guy.

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  27. They're Mary Sues right? If I'm using it correctly, that's not the name for navy buddies who retire and live together. it's the name for PCs who retire and become NPCs in a published. when my characters built strongholds, part of the appeal was that they could all live in this really cool clubhouse, not "together" but *together*.

    Burne: Everyone knows we're just bros.
    Rufus: Grrrrr
    Burne: At the top of the this big tower, I've got a big telescope. . .
    Rufus: Grrrrr
    Burne: And it's trained on the signboard of a place renowned for more than just its good food and excellent drink . . .
    Rufus: Grrrr . . . Burne's "Badgers"?

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  28. In my day, assuming somebody was gay because they were guys who lived together would have been nasty horrible stereotyping of gay people.

    But we didn't, because we never had the Village of Hommlet. All we could afford was Keep on the Borderlands, and then my DM started running us directly through the Drow modules. Such a non-good idea, with second level characters.

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