12th: Favorite RPG Illustration
The world is full of beautiful, striking, evocative roleplaying game illustrations by canny, talented artists living and dead, but here are the first two rpg images that came to mind…
The Shade first appeared in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual II, published in 1983 by TSR, Inc.
I don’t know what it is about this image. The simplicity and amount of black in the image leaves much to the imagination. There’s a strong suggestion of fierceness and determination in the figure’s stance and countenance, but also of brazenness: he has a helmet, sword, and shield – but no shirt! What’s his deal?!? Clearly he is not to be messed with.
Also, they are super–mysterious! From the Monster Manual’s description:
“…the shades are, or were, normal humans who through arcane magic or dark sciences have traded their souls or spirits for the essence of shadowstuff…no one knows if shades are connected with…some power or substance from the Plane of Shadow.”
Subsequent editions of Dungeons & Dragons have elaborated upon and explored the Shade a bit. I’ve been a little obsessed with the idea of using the Shade as a player character race in a game for decades, and finally got around to it in my 13th Age game – possibly because making new races for 13th Age is so easy!
Of the four artists credited for interior art in Monster Manual II, my educated guess is that this image was drawn by Harry Quinn. Mr. Quinn is still keeping busy with Visual Rhythm Design and Harry Quinn Portraits.
From the 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Screen, this is the player’s-side gatefold illustration by the late David A. Trampier.
Let’s just say I spent WAY too much time in the mid-to-late ’80s facing whatever the Dungeon Master was cooking up on the other side of this screen.
It’s a bit of a jumbly composition, but the foreground-right figure still looks cool to me, and the three figures huddled around the treasure chest is still delightfully evocative.