Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cool Labyrinth Lord Poster

Over at his blog, Labyrinth Lord creator Dan Proctor is showing off an awesome poster drawn by neo-old school artist Mark Allen.

It's a thing of beauty in my opinion. Now, that's Orcus -- with nary a WWE championship belt in sight.

35 comments:

  1. A really excellent piece of art!

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  2. I really like this poster though I still prefer this more laid back child inappropriate version of Orcus by Todd Lockwood:

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_ozl5ebheHVQ/TEDIq8JRmNI/AAAAAAAAAcg/a8DS0ik1j2s/s1600/fat+and+manky+orcus.JPG

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  3. *sigh* l'm such a bad person. I just cannot get over my dislike of the current LL art style. It really frustrates me because it impedes my enthusiasm for what I otherwise think is a really excellent set of products.

    This particular piece is not as nails on chalkboard to me as others, but I still can't say I like it.

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  4. Now THAT'S Orcus. I love the Labyrinth Lord art, and this is another spectacular piece.

    Thanks to Doug for pointing out the artist responsible for the laid-back Orcus- I have that one in my art folder on my computer, but couldn't remember who did it for the life of me.

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  5. yeah, compared to the 4e MM cover, this one is much more medieval in flavor.

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  6. Both this one and the Lockwood one rock hard.

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  7. Yeah, Orcus should be more "a decadent tyrant (ala Nero), giant, corpulent, with a goat head and wings, and just a *touch* of bloated, corrupt cadaver".

    Not so much "The Rock with a goat head and wings".

    The threat of Orcus is not simply that he's going to *punch* you. Melee weapons are the least of your concern.

    Orcus would be a threat if he were manifested as a bowl of Jello. (Or a block of charred *something* left in the microwave too long.)

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  8. I don't even play LL and I'd hang this in my gaming area . . . except my wife probably wouldn't like it in her dining room.

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  9. This is great! I would love to get hold of one of those.

    I would like to point out that, bloated as this Orcus may be, he is still msnifesting primarily as a physical threat - he's tossing around a PC with a big brawny arm.

    It's also in the midst of a "wall-of-action," with his skeleton and fiery skull minions running and flying around, rather than an exploration or 'mood' scene.

    I love this poster, but I think it's disingenuous to say it represents something entirely removed from Wayne Reynold's Orcus cover, which I think is also a fantastic piece of art. The differences are almost entirely in the rendering style.

    I know I'm mostly playing devil's advocate here (in the face of 'demon's advocacy?') as the great majority of my favorite dungeon artists did most of their iconic work in that sort of 78-82 'sweet spot,' and as I usually prefer 'line art' to 'painted' illustration. But A) I have always liked Reynold's work, and B) I see way too much bending over backwards to explain why it's fundamental to the spirit of D&D to illustrate only within a couple footsteps of the visual language of the spot illustrations from five years of TSR products.

    I'd love to have seen a Reynolds painting of his same Orcus figure reclining in his throne, simmering with a lazy malice. I'm sure he had an art order to show him fighting a bunch of PCs - perhaps that's the 'problem,' but clearly Mark Allen recieved an almost identical art order.

    GCL

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  10. Reynolds can draw monsters fine, but his attempts at (demi)humans are atrocious. They all have these gross long triangular heads with pinched faces that make them look like badly-drawn anime characters frozen in that moment of horror that follows when they realize that the dwarf next to them just cut the cheese.

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  11. "I really like this poster though I still prefer this more laid back child inappropriate version of Orcus by Todd Lockwood"

    Now THAT is a fantastic piece. One word: Chiaroscuro!

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  12. Though I like the poster, the weird thing is; it still represents a 4e power aesthetic more than an old-school experience (where the characters are fairly frail). At least the party seems to be doomed : )

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  13. "an old-school experience (where the characters are fairly frail)"

    I wouldn't take this definition to the bank, if I were you.

    Plenty of "old-school" gamers took on Orcus and his buddies.

    Deities & Demigods isn't called "The *real* Monster Manual II" for nothing. :)

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  14. Fair enough Will, I'm sure I'm splitting hairs here. I myself have not played in any D&D games where we challenged any deities. I really do like the illo - just voicing my initial reaction.

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  15. Oh, I know. I'd be lying if I said that an emphasis on low-level games wasn't something of a fetish among some old-school proponents.

    I was just making the point that balls-to-the-wall powergaming neatly defies the old/new dichotomy.

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  16. That Lockwood piece is awesome. Hard to believe it's by the same guy who did most of that "dungeonpunk" art in D&D III.

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  17. I just cannot get over my dislike of the current LL art style.

    Don't sweat it. Art is a highly subjective thing and, while I do like the new look of LL -- a lot, actually -- I can fully understand that it's not everyone's cup of tea.

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  18. Yeah, Orcus should be more "a decadent tyrant (ala Nero), giant, corpulent, with a goat head and wings, and just a *touch* of bloated, corrupt cadaver".

    Yep, that's exactly how I see him too. I'll never understand why all the demons and devils have gotten increasingly beefy and obviously physical powerful over the years. I don't see any reason why a supernatural creature's ability to kick your character's ass has anything to do with whether he has an Olympian physique.

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  19. Oh, I know. I'd be lying if I said that an emphasis on low-level games wasn't something of a fetish among some old-school proponents.

    To the extent that that's true -- and I don't think it's all that widespread -- I suspect it's more of a reaction to WotC's emphasis over the last decade on high-level play and kewl powerz.

    That said, you're right, though: old school gaming included lots of demon/devil/god bashing back in the day. Most players I knew had the attitude, "If it has hit points, you can kill it," and so they did.

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  21. That piece truly evokes the feeling the party has finally come to the last room in the lowest dungeon level to face the ultimate D&D bad guy. No less then awesome.

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  22. "Orcus would be a threat if he were manifested as a bowl of Jello. (Or a block of charred *something* left in the microwave too long.)"

    "Mom! Dad! It's evil! Don't touch it!"

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  23. Orcus, as rendered here, is much more in line with what was depicted in medieval and Renaissance grimoirs of other demons and devils. They were depicted as unnatural creatures, apart from nature, with distorted body forms, multiple heads, and generally an amalgam of animal and humanoid forms.

    This was crucial to the medieval mind, because it acknowledges the demons and devils are not benevolent creatures as being a part of the "Divine".

    They were supposed to look unnatural to provoke fear.

    Now, the other picture, as nice of a piece of art it is, completely breaks away from the "unnatural" motif (is that correct: motif?). Note the whole "organic" feel of the creature. It appears to make sense, physically: correctly proportioned to exist in a natural world. Yes, it's a monster, but it's no "demon" in the classical sense. If it look like it makes sense, then it must have a weakness and can be defeated.

    And, in a larger context, it is a reflection of the content and overall feel of the product.

    To deny this and attempting to divorce the art from the product is ludicrous. IF it wasn't the case, why would WoTC (or any other game company, for that matter) pay to have artists in the first place?

    Obviously, to establish a certain "feel/mood" for the product.

    That's why it's no accident that artwork in WoTC's core D&D products appears more video-game inspired than classically so: it's a reflection of the content. Ultimately, this is the market of people they want to mostly attract as well.

    what would you be more fearful of? the unnatural looking one or the more "organic" one?

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  24. yeah, you can't see his WWF belt because it is covered by man-boobs. Scary indeed.

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  25. Overall cool Orcus, but he sports nipple rings!! When did demon lords get into body modification trends?

    Maybe when he got his piercings at the tattoo shop he also got a tramp stamp, just above where his furry lower goat half begins.

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  26. As a long-time fan of Basic/Expert D&D and BECMI, I'm fairly disappointed by this poster. After all, the game Labyrinth Lord is emulating didn't have Demons and Devils unless you played the Immortals rules, which were the worst of the flawed BECMI line by far.

    The core game doesn't even have Orcus. This is a weird conflating of AD&D and Basic/Expert which never really existed in the game lines. Many of us played the game without ever having demons or devils in it, and this art pick is a repudiation of that. After all, demons and devils aren't necessary to the game.

    This is really an ad for the AEC product from Labyrinth Lord, and I'm not interested in that nearly as much as the core game.

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  27. @IBM

    LL is not suppose to be a carbon copy of the rules in the first place. Dan purposely made LL and AEC as a hybrid of various versions of early D&D that you can play separately or add together with his own spin to it. that's why its cool and alot of us here like it.

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  28. Ooh, so that fantastic Orcus piece from the eighties is by Lockwood! One of my favorite D&D pictures ever. Thanks Doug!

    The Labyrinth Lord poster is great as well. I especially like the how cleric is totally skewered by two skeletons; and the fighter crushed under Orcus's hoof... At least the halfing seems to have enough sense in his head to start running.

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  29. "Maybe when he got his piercings at the tattoo shop he also got a tramp stamp, just above where his furry lower goat half begins."

    And some (misspelled) runes.

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  30. I'd like it better if Orcus' gut didn't look like a fat American's.

    Also, it looks as if Orcus has a belly-button. Hmmm. Think about all the implications.

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  31. crow,

    Not really. LL is very closely modeling Basic Expert Moldvay/Cook, not AD&D. AEC came much later and serves a need, but LL and Basic/Expert stood just fine as it is. I played a lot f Basic/Expert back in the day, and having forgotten as much as I could of the Immortals set, didn't know anything about Orcus until recently.

    It's the same weird impulse that led Dungeon magazine to put demons in the Isle of Dread. That's a complete reimagining, but somehow, demons and devils have to be there to be "kewl". I find them totally unnecessary for the game.

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  32. IBL,

    Yes, just like every other clone in the freemarket, the game mechanics are pretty much the same, but I like Dan's version of the rules a little bit better then previous version so much anal the groovy art, that it's my preferred game to use when I want to play old school DnD.

    As to the Demon and Devils if you don't find them to your liking then don't use them, or, just make up your own.

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  33. As another poster mentioned-I cannot say I'm a big fan of the LL art either. For whatever reason, it totally rubs me the wrong way. But we all know about opinions.

    On the subject of Orcus art in particular, I think my fave depiction is the Jacquays piece on the last page of Best of Dragon vol. 1 (The random demon generator?).

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  34. a) the artwork rules. would love a poster of it. who cares if its not living up to the weird, dogmatic view of whats "old school" or not.

    b) the purist attitude of whats "old school" or this "frail characters" idea and all that stuff is so ridiculous. play the game YOU want and quit whining about how its "suppose" to be played, displayed, presented, codified, etc... the whole point of D&D, AD&D and AD&D 2E is based on the creative flows of the DM and players working in concert molding the game to what works for them. its totally subjective, open and with many options. "oh but i dont like this and that." theres a term in sports like hockey people yell out, "shut up and drop the puck." its about time it comes to the gaming community too, "Shut up and play the games."

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