Monday, March 7, 2011

The Wizard Wears Shades

This is the cover image to The Chivalry & Sorcery Sourcebook, drawn by Mike Gilbert, which I look at quite often, since the book it graces sits on my desk. I'd never argue it's a particularly noteworthy piece of gaming art, but I've found that it's grown on me a lot in the weeks it's rested on my desk. A big part of its appeal is the wizard on the far left, the one with the skullcap and sunglasses. At first, I thought he was supposed to be a cleric of some kind, but there's nothing "priestly" about his attire. Indeed, his attire is pretty non-descript (though I do wonder what that thing he's got on his right wrist is supposed to be).

So, what's up with his spectacles? I honestly don't know. Eyeglasses existed in the Middle Ages, so it's not necessarily anachronistic to include them, even if the style used in the illustration looks a little too modern. Of course, they look more like sunglasses than simple eyeglasses, so that raises other questions. On the other hand, maybe they're magical lenses of some sort, like those found in Vance's Dying Earth tales, though I don't recall ever seeing such magical items in C&S. I'm not personally bugged by it; in fact, for some reason, I don't find the notion of sunglasses in a fantasy setting to be off-putting at all. I bring this up only because the impression one gets from reading Chivalry & Sorcery is that its authors would be annoyed by such a blatant anachronism.

Regardless, I really like this illustration.

22 comments:

  1. He's a merchant with spectacles ?

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  2. I seem to recall "Bored Flak" from, I think, the Fineous Fingers comic strip of around the same time wore shades. No idea if it was an influence.

    As for what's on his wrist, I think that's just the poorly drawn cuff of what's supposed to be a wide sleeve.

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  3. Magic so bright... (you know the rest).

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  4. It may be a heavy hand with the inking.

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  5. Kinda hard to tell, but perhaps that's an eye-patch over the left eye and his right eye is just really, really beady, which makes this the first time I've ever seen that descriptor actually illustrated.

    Dude looks angry, regardless.

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  6. Looks to me like he is wearing some type of lenses (not exactly glasses more like goggles) and is carrying a belt.

    Regarding old school art like this, is it me or was the average adventuring party age depicted in old school art much older than what I see in more recent years? When I look at D&D/fantasy game art up to and including D&D 1E it seems the pictured adventuring parties were older men, I would guess late 30s at the youngest all they way up to quite venerable. Modern art seems to have drastically reduced the age of most adventuring parties to mid-20s. I don't the think the game rules around character age have fluctuated this much but the art certainly seems to have.

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  7. I suspect what's on his wrist is simply the cuff of his sleeve, which flairs our very wide at the end.

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  8. My reaction on looking at the illo was that, between the (possibly) cleric's pose and the longbowman's expression, it looks as if the cleric has his hand on the "archery butts," as it were.

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  9. Anthony and Paul beat me to my original intent for posting--the cuff of his sleeve. I think your first impression was correct, James. Dude looks like a cleric. The skull cap denotes to me the apparel of religious orders--such as the Franciscans, as well as the garment hanging from his right hip. Plus, in a drawing of only four PCs wouldn't two mages be redundant? The guy holding the staff looks the part of a wizard, that makes our guy a cleric of Ray-Ban, deity of Sunglasses.

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  10. I have to agree with Rob Conley. It appears to me as though they're supposed to be regular glasses, but in trying to make the circles for the lenses the artist made them too thick.

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  11. There was a Troll Argan Argar merchant (Sir Scissor?) in Troll Pack who had sunglasses so he could avoid the damage from the sun iirc?

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  12. I assumed he was blind and being led by the archer, rather than (!!) copping a feel.

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  13. @uwarr

    Ray-Ban, God of Sunglasses. Now that's a Petty God

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  14. I downloaded the picture specifically so I could blow it up to 2x its size. Turns out that thing on his wrist is a shadow. What the heck's up with the sunglasses, I'm not sure. Blown up, they look about the same as the original pic -- for all the world like shades of some kind...

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  15. Maybe he's wearing a pair of Inuit snow-googles. These were solid devices which covered the eyes, slits carved in them allowed a reduced amount of light to enter the eye:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cd/Eskimo_snowgoggles.jpg

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  16. If the thing on his wrist was a maniple, then he would be a cleric.

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  17. Maybe those are just two shiners. Those other guys don't look too happy with him.

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  18. The thing on his wrist is a sundial wristwatch. All the fashionable wizards had them back then.

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  19. @Anthony: Boredflak wore Foster Grants: http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2008/09/now-thats-wizard.html

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  20. Maybe is nothing more than artistic license.

    ...Just to mess with our heads.

    In other words: does it really matter?

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  21. Sorry, gang, but I don't see sunglasses.

    He just has recessed eyes, protruding brows, and large eyelids.

    Tex
    (who prefers "old school" D&D art over modern D&D "art")

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