Thursday, July 3, 2008

Good Grief

Anyone know where this piece of art is from?

Is it perhaps from the Player's Handbook II? I accidentally stumbled upon it while looking for cover images of the 3e and v.3.5 PHBs to use in today's entry on those two covers (yes, I'm doing both at once, because they differ so little in appearance that I didn't think they deserved separate entries).

In any case, I can't say I'm too fond of this illustration. Aside from being a particularly poor example of the "wall of action" style, its ham-fisted execution strikes me as paradigmatic of the iconoclasm-cloaked-as-respect-for-the-past that WotC excels at these days. I mean, if I were an artist and my mandate was to paint a picture that encapsulated "this ain't your father's D&D," this is how I'd do it.


  1. Hi James,

    Don't take my word as "gospel", but I seem to remember this being related to some kind of anniversary celebration?

  2. Honestly, this piece succeeds very well for me, if only for the Beholder drinking itself into a stupor. =P

  3. I realize the piece is intended to be "playful," but, when you've got a rep for playing fast and loose with the traditions of the past, it's not wise to give people more ammunition. It's like the "jokey" Castle Greyhawk module TSR published not long after Gary was ousted from the company. Even if it was really intended as a loving parody, it comes across as childish and snide. This illustration strikes me the same way.

  4. I mainly just find it confusing. It looks like it's supposed to represent a tavern brawl, but a tavern with a gigantic ruby-eyed demon idol in it?

    Seems like a barkeep that owned rubies the size of footballs could afford a better lifestyle than serving ale to a bunch of rowdy armed misfits.

  5. @Will - One of the people I ran a campaign for ended up owning a really big tavern after becoming rich and powerful, and she JOINED the brawls rather than stopping them. =P

  6. IIRC, this is from one the 3.5 DM Screen. I could easily be wrong though.


  7. It's from the 30th anniversary celebration at GenCon. Todd Lockwood is the artist.

    More info here:

    I love it, btw.

    Interesting blog, as well.



  8. The place I first saw it was on Game Spy. They did a "special report" as part of the 3.0/30th Anniversary 0f D&D. Bit curious as to how accurate everything is in their report.

    (Link to the picture is a bit down the page.)