Thursday, April 23, 2009

Stone Mountain

I cut my teeth on the Holmes Basic Set, a gift for my 11th birthday back in 1979. I struggled to understand this new game and couldn't quite understand how turns worked or how to use this weird blue cavern map. 

But I was hooked as soon as I saw this cross-section of Stone Mountain. I'm sure many others wanted to visit the Domed City and the undersea lake or just rappel down The Pit straight to the 6th level. Maybe that's why we all carried so much rope back in those days.

The sad thing is that I don't know who drew this cross-section. The Holmes book has illustrations from Tom Wham and David Trampier, but the majority of the artwork appears to be by David C. Sutherland III. The Stone Mountain does appear to match his style. (The somewhat less inspiring cross-section from the later Basic book is by Erol Otis, but it's clearly a different style. The stalactites and stalagmites are black and the the stairs are different.)

I find many of his smaller illustrations flat and amateurish, but David C. Sutherland III drew much of the iconic art of the early D&D game, including the cover of the Holmes basic book and boxed set as well as the covers of the 1st Edition Monster Manual and Dungeon Master's Guide. His look helped define the game from the beginning.

I'm hoping to continue to look at the art of the early Dungeons and Dragons game. It's obviously all copyright TSR/Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro but I believe I am using it within the bounds of Fair Use.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Welcome to my new blog. I'm starting this to give me an outlet for some more heavy-duty RPG writing than I post to my mostly unnotable personal blog. I will eventually think of a better name for this blog, but apparently most of the witty variations of Keep on the Borderlands are already taken. 

I'll save my long history with RPGs for a later post, if ever, but a little context is in order. I started playing D&D in 1979 when I was 10. I was heavily into 1st Edition AD&D before I shelved D&D for several years in college (playing other games instead). I got back into D&D a few years later when 2nd Edition was still relatively new and played heavily for a year or two, then shelved it again for more college, marriage, etc. It's pretty much remained on the shelf ever since. And by "on the shelf" I mean 6 big boxes of almost every single 1st Edition product and most of the core 2nd Edition products. I have a decent collection of the "basic" game products but have not really played them since the very early 1980s. I even own a complete set of the original D&D products, except Chainmail, but including the suggested Outdoor Survival game.

So back to my purpose for this blog... I'm getting more and more interested in D&D again. I've had some interest in publishing my own material for a while and might finally make some progress there. I've recently spent a fair bit of time learning to draw, having all but given up art many years ago. I also love maps and am a big Photoshop geek, so cartography scratches those itches well.

Finally, a big reason for me getting back to D&D these days is that my kids are finally of an age where they want to play. I'd like to spend some time building more kid-friendly, approachable D&D material for today's kids.

[Photo via heath_bar]