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 Art & Arcana book - buy it
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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
7509 Posts

Posted - 28 Oct 2018 :  06:50:57  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
My first dungeons and dragons book was before the basic set that most folk know of (what many folk refer to as "the red box"), and it had only been released 4 years prior. I would acquire it because my brother would set me down this path at a garage sale in 1981. I remember it contained the first dungeon I'd ever looked at "the Keep on the Borderland" with the "Caves of Chaos". I remember the game itself did not even have dice, but rather a page that you would have to cut out numbers from paper and could then subsequently "mix" the pile of paper chits and pick your "roll". Being a child at the time, I didn't see the obvious flaw in that certain paper chits might be slightly more recognizable from others, but before that reality set in.... the red box basic set was released in '83, and with it came dice.... and my love of Larry Elmore's artwork.

I remember at the forefront of that game was a mention to another game that they called "Castles and Crusaders", which had been built on the rules of "Chainmail". I always wondered about those games, until I learned more about the origins of D&D as an adult. I gave away that original game box a mere 8 years later to a friend in high school, because "I had newer stuff that was so much better". I could kick myself for doing so, as I didn't realize at the time that that was officially the very first basic set.


Anyway, the point of this topic is the new Art & Arcana book that just came out. As I look around my house, nearly anywhere I can put a poster, I've put a poster from something in the game. It started with collecting Larry Elmore, Keith Parkinson, and Clyde Caldwell's works. I also acquired the works of Todd Lockwood, Royo, Daniel R. Horne, and probably a dozen or more others, as well as numerous collection books. I'm betting many of you have done similar. However, in reading this book, its really opening my eyes to just how much the genre has improved over time. Some of those early drawings were just crude in comparison, but you can appreciate it.... to the point that I just got the book today and its 1 AM and I'm reading it.


Also, I recently went to my third Gen Con (its a trek for me, so I hadn't been since 2001), and I brought my girlfriend and her daughter (who have been reading Harry Potter together). Its interesting to see how art can affect someone ELSE, as we got to Nene Thomas' booth, and this ten year old girl absolutely fell in love with the artwork (which I admit, I like myself, such that I bought numerous small pieces, and 3 larger posters, and a statue... but mostly because I thought I'd like for them to be surrounded by art that also reminds them of magic).


So, this is my rather long winded way of saying.... go buy this.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas

Arannis
Acolyte

USA
6 Posts

Posted - 29 Oct 2018 :  19:45:31  Show Profile Send Arannis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I pre-ordered the deluxe edition back in May/June, and boy was it worth the money! This book combined my love of history and my nostalgia for the old DnD artwork. I agree that this book is worth investing in.
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George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
5307 Posts

Posted - 29 Oct 2018 :  22:33:13  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I like D&D art but have never been fascinated by the stuff. If I bought a sourcebook that was packed to the brim with realmslore and had no art, I wouldn't care. I understand however that I am in the minority on that score.

-- George Krashos

"Because only we, contrary to the barbarians, never count the enemy in battle." -- Aeschylus
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moonbeast
Senior Scribe

USA
483 Posts

Posted - 30 Oct 2018 :  01:50:18  Show Profile Send moonbeast a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by George Krashos

I like D&D art but have never been fascinated by the stuff. If I bought a sourcebook that was packed to the brim with realmslore and had no art, I wouldn't care. I understand however that I am in the minority on that score.

-- George Krashos



Interesting take, George. You'd prefer to have 1000 words (of lore). But for some of us, like the saying goes, a picture is worth more than a thousand words.

Then again…. not all pictures (images/artwork) are equal. Some are fantastic and inspiring. Others are mediocre at best. So yeah…. it's not always the case that a D&D image/artwork is worth a thousand words of lore.
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
31591 Posts

Posted - 30 Oct 2018 :  02:50:52  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by George Krashos

I like D&D art but have never been fascinated by the stuff. If I bought a sourcebook that was packed to the brim with realmslore and had no art, I wouldn't care. I understand however that I am in the minority on that score.

-- George Krashos



TSR and WotC both have had some rather underwhelming art... But there's been some amazing stuff, too. Whilst I agree that lore is greatly preferred, there is still some artwork that just blows me away, often because I look at the art and I want to know the story.

I've mentioned, more than once, a simple piece of art from the old 2E PHB -- a young woman in vaguely mid-Eastern attire and a young man in more Western medieval attire, sitting on a flying carpet. The woman looks like it's a familiar sight to her, but the young man is clearly amazed by what he sees. And that's all there is to it -- it's a simple black and white bit of art. But every time I see it, I feel that there is some story there, that the image represents just one moment of a larger tale -- and it intrigues me, because I want to see that larger story.

That's what the better D&D art does for me -- I look at it, and I know there's a story. I don't know the story, but I know there's one there. Why did that giant strike down the guy that Avalyne is healing? What's their relationship? Why is she unconcerned about the giant? Is she a priestess, or is her healing ability somehow innate? Or this one -- Where is that gateway? Why are these people fighting? How did power armor guy come by a magic sword and shield?

So while I'm all about the Realmslore and want more, I will likely lay hands on this book, at some point.

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moonbeast
Senior Scribe

USA
483 Posts

Posted - 30 Oct 2018 :  04:51:02  Show Profile Send moonbeast a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Frankly I always admired the illustration of AD&D Dispater in disco pants. But that's just me.
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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
7509 Posts

Posted - 30 Oct 2018 :  12:42:59  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
For me the most intriguing part of this book was the story about the early years of the art work and reliving it in my brain and thinking how FAST things changed in those short years. Basically, it reminded me how crude a lot of that original art was, but it was still... I guess the word would be inspiring?.... for me as a 9-12 year old kid. I started out with what was the "original" basic set for rules, but admittedly a couple years after it was released because it had the 1980 Keep on the Borderlands module. So, I think I started around 1981, because soon after I got the 1981 expert set, all of which had such basic art. Maybe a year later, I discovered the advanced D&D PH, DMG, MM, and Deities and Demigods at a local TG&Y store (yep, the books were in the toy section of your everyday department store... something you haven't seen since). I remember having just enough money to buy 2 of them and begging my Mom to buy the other 2. She relented, and she was nonplussed with the drawings on the deities and the DMG books, but not sorely so. I remember her asking me a few months later whether the books I was reading were racey or scary, and I must have given her a very confused look and told her something like "no, its kind of like the TV show that you see me watch on Saturday mornings called D&D, or Thundarr the Barbarian". This was some months after the Conan the Barbarian movie had come out at the movies, and I'd seen the edited version on TV, but I recall the word around my Junior High about how "full of naked women" it was (and it was for the 80's.... game of thrones fans would call it tame).

Then after having discovered the advanced game, it must have only been months later or around the same time that I discovered book stores that carried dragon magazine (it was already in maybe the #60's or #70's), and suddenly the artwork I was used to for the game changed. Elmore, Easley, Parkinson, and Caldwell had arrived on the scene and everything graphically at D&D just upgraded instantly. Its only NOW that I realize that in the background at TSR that they'd had a mass firing and subsequent walkout by the teenagers in their art department, which is amazing to me. I would have never known as a 10-12 year old kid.

Then dragonlance came out, and soon after the realms... and while I loved dragonlance for its story, I fell in love with the realms. I never truly learned much about Greyhawk and Blackmoor (and still know very little beyond the basics), and only in the past few years through looking at things I've gathered on Mystara have I seen how much they developed that world. I'm also only now seeing how much Mystara and the realms had some intertwined ideas going on (things that were developed in one or the other and improved when transported between them)…. things like the avariel in the realms and the ee'aar in Mystara both being winged elves (and the subsequent name of aearee which so resembles ee'aar). As another instance of similar development, I'd say that the "radiance" artifact in Glantri and the mysterious artifact in Thay under Amruthar were hinted at being similar (which recently Ed and George gave the name athora... and which apparently has something akin to "nodes" throughout that land). Also, of course, the name of Mystara and the goddess Mystra I would also count as a similar linkage.


Anyway, the draw for me is seeing now exactly how a lot of that early stuff happened that I never knew about because I was still a child, and I was just enjoying the game.... and yet seeing how much other people put of themselves into the game, yet I never really knew what they'd done. For instance, though I'd heard of Dave Arneson... I've never truly known his involvement with the game nor what the fallout was about. I also had heard something of Gygax leaving the company years after it happened, but I didn't know what had happened. In all of this, I saw stability in the form of the realms with designers and authors who were willing to piece it all together. Ed Greenwood, Steven Schend, Eric L. Boyd, Jeff Grubb, Doug Niles, and my favorite author of the time, Elaine Cunningham, were giving me a detailed world that enthralled me... and at the same time, Wolfgang Baur was putting out excellent lore on an entirely other section of the same world with Zakhara. Of course, we all know that the problem soon became the glut of material being produced versus the average person's ability to buy OR read, such that a lot of us HERE began buying the introductory material for things like birthright, spelljammer, Dark Sun, Council of Wyrms, Jakandor, and even realms add ons such as Maztica, Kara-Tur, etc... but not any expansions.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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Areader
Acolyte

USA
13 Posts

Posted - 01 Nov 2018 :  00:23:27  Show Profile Send Areader a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This book really is a treasure. It's expansive, inclusive, and wonderfully curated.

I bought this for the artwork (obviously) and it's on fine display here. The paintings and ink illustrations look beautiful; even the cruder, earlier artwork has its charms. This book also has a ton of photographs that span the 40+ years of D&D -- behind the scenes stuff, Gen Con pics, photos of creators, exterior shots of the homes and offices where the "magic" happened, etc.

But what really surprised me about this book was how well it was written. The authors tell the story of D&D from H. G. Wells' "Little Wars" all the way to present day. I'm not much of a non-fiction person, but I couldn't put this book down. I read it from cover to cover in two sittings.

Even the "side-bar" text pieces were fascinating. My favorite was the side-by-side comparisons of "original" D&D illustrations to the comic book art they were "inspired" by and, in some cases, blatantly copied from. I never would've guessed that the initial look of D&D owed so much to a single issue of Marvel Comics' "Strange Tales" and artist Jim Steranko.
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