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JPjr

The most iconic fantasy RPG art...

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Interested to get people's thoughts on this... what would you say is the most iconic Fantasy RPG artwork? AoS, Warhammer, D&D, Runequest, whatever... Not necessarily 'the best' (however you might judge that) but fantasy art that is directly related to a game and makes you instantly think of it (rather than say something more generic (though obviously awesome sauce) like Frazetta).

So pictures along the likes of Larry Elmore's cover for the D&D Red Box, Ian McCaig's Deathtrap Dungeon cover, John Sibbick's WFRP 1st ed. cover, John Blanche's Skeleton Horde or Ian Miller's picture used for Death on the Reik, that kind of thing.

 

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Edited by JPjr
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I would say there's a few that I would consider Iconic.

1) Discworld by Josh Kirby. Full of detail, content and a clear display of having read the book and gotten what its all about; these are great works of art that cover the whole series pretty much. Hands down this is the most easily recognised as what it is. You can tell at a glance from the style and structure of the work that its Discworld. 

2) Warhammer in general. Most of it is quite iconic and stylish - I'd say 40K has the edge in recognition whilst fantasy is a bit more even but still has a lot of easily to identify themes. Fantasy is a bit more of a broad stroke and changes quite a bit through time. Demonic and Stormcast and things like Skaven stand out; whilst some is a bit more open field.

3) DnD and Magic the Gathering. Both I think capture the essence of their worlds; both have a vast variety of styles and artists who work for them and both can be outstanding. That said they can both run the risk of being generic. This sort of works in DnD's favour as generic heroes on a generic adventure is their remit; whilst the constant changing MTG world settings means more of their art can be lost in the general sea of jsut "ART". 

 

I would however say that fantasy art is under represented and under appreciated I think. There's loads of great stuff out there in Devient arts and in products; but it never makes it gallery side really. It's a huge shame as I think its a fantastic genre. From your metal music covers to your fantasy books to your games. 

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My first thought was one of your examples; Larry Elmore's D&D red box. D&D, and RPGs in general have a host of Iconic art, but this one stands out even among other legendary images from that game. I think part of it is that it was one of the most prevalent sets for such a length of time. I got in to D&D quite a long time after the heyday of the Red Box, but it was still my first D&D set,

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I'd also second many of the Fighting Fantasy books, but particularly Forest of Doom.

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Not gonna list GW's art as basically almost everyone in here knows the many amazing pieces and artists... that said,I think Brom's art for Dark Sun ticks all those boxes and really made sure it set itself apart from other worlds. 

Outside of paintings/artists, I think the Witcher 3 was outstanding for creating a world that really conveyed the setting/mood - not sure I've seen it done this well in a game. Bethesda sure could learn from that, where everything seems lifeless and stale to me. I also think Final Fantasy got that aspect right in most cases (with Yoshitaka Amano's very unique artstyle), although the series hasn't really captured me after FFX.

 

Edit: Great thread btw. - will be interesting to see more suggestions and maybe get to know something new.

Edited by MitGas
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39 minutes ago, EccentricCircle said:

My first thought was one of your examples; Larry Elmore's D&D red box. D&D, and RPGs in general have a host of Iconic art, but this one stands out even among other legendary images from that game. I think part of it is that it was one of the most prevalent sets for such a length of time. I got in to D&D quite a long time after the heyday of the Red Box, but it was still my first D&D set,

image.png.a0a6895bc10b11752cbce377bc9029f7.png

I'd also second many of the Fighting Fantasy books, but particularly Forest of Doom.

image.png.0ee7758a759bc23e8afc4d9e7a2420ab.png

I got both of those on holiday when I was 11.
34 years later I've still got them both, but Forest of Doom has definitely seen better days... not least because of the scribbled in tunnels and trolls monster ratings my 13 year old self scrawled through it.

Anyway, I wouldn't call it iconic, but I've always had a soft spot for the interior illustrations in the original paperback Dragon Warriors.

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Edited by AdamR
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Ian Miller for me is massively iconic but that that comes from my early years in the hobby and the stuff he did in Rogue Trader, WFB 3rd ed and the Realm of Chaos books. 

But first place goes to Paul Bonner and his pictures of Orcs and Orks. His drawings of the original Morglum Necksnapper and his warband are part of what started my love affair with Greenskinz. 

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@AdamR Dragon Warriors! Oh man I loved that first book. Weirdly it was only a few weeks ago that I realised there had been something like 6 in the series, with several more planned and never published. If you like digging into the history of game books, and haven't already, DW's author Dave Morris has a pretty interesting blog, Fabled Lands

I spent a few hours the other week going through about 4/5  years worth of posts, a lot of it is all to do with his recent Kickstarters and related stuff but there's some interesting posts on the early days of GW, lots of old school roleplaying adventures that were originally printed in early White Dwarf issues and some really fascinating views on fantasy and RPGs in general (he has quite robust views about certain things that I'm sure a lot of people would disagree with but he puts his arguments across well).

Part of me is itching to buy a new copy of DW off eBay, like the total sad case 41 year old I am in recent months I've started hunting down a lot of old games I used to play just to scratch a nostalgic itch and would love to read that again.

EDIT: damn! https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Dragon-Warriors-COMPLETE-SET-1-6-Dave-Morris-Fighting-Fantasy-Corgi-2/223236760645?hash=item33f9f2a445:g:aEQAAOSwAVlb8ZAl:rk:3:pf:0

Edited by JPjr
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@Ollie Grimwood oh +1 on the Paul Bonner ork love! God I'd forgotten about a lot of those, he gave them SOOOOOOOOO much character. The only 40K army I really made a half arsed effort to collect back in the Rogue Trader days was an Ork one, like most my other armies it probably remained 90% unbuilt/unpainted but I love love LOVED the 'Ere We Go book and all the madness in it.

Edited by JPjr
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7 minutes ago, JPjr said:

@AdamR Dragon Warriors! Oh man I loved that first book. Weirdly it was only a few weeks ago that I realised there had been something like 6 in the series, with several more planned and never published. If you like digging into the history of game books, and haven't already, DW's author Dave Morris has a pretty interesting blog, Fabled Lands

I spent a few hours the other week going through about 4/5  years worth of posts, a lot of it is all to do with his recent Kickstarters and related stuff but there's some interesting posts on the early days of GW, lots of old school roleplaying adventures that were originally printed in early White Dwarf issues and some really fascinating views on fantasy and RPGs in general (he has quite robust views about certain things that I'm sure a lot of people would disagree with but he puts his arguments across well).

Part of me is itching to buy a new copy of DW off eBay, like the total sad case 41 year old I am in recent months I've started hunting down a lot of old games I used to play just to scratch a nostalgic itch and would love to read that again.

I'm hoping that someone will write an illustrated history of Games Workshop one of these days. I've recently read both "Art and Arcana" which is all about the evolution of D&D art, and both volumes of "You are the Hero" which summarises everything known to man about the Fighting Fantasy series (and so does touch on the early days of GW).

Basically I now want someone to come out with an equivalent for the history of Warhammer, which by its very nature would pick up the GW story where the FF books leave off, and would kind of fill in the European blanks left by A&A's focus on TSR and the American wargames-> RPGs -> Wargames cycle.

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@EccentricCircle there was a book on Unbound (kind of Kickstarter for books if you don't know it) about the early days of GW that I backed last year. Actually not sure if it was successful! Dice Men I think it was called... hold on...

EDIT: here you go - https://unbound.com/books/games-workshop/ - looks like it was successful and is currently being finished (and you can still back it). It does just cover 1975-1985 though so might just end where you want it to really pick up. One for Vol. 2 perhaps.

Edited by JPjr

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1 hour ago, JPjr said:

@EccentricCircle there was a book on Unbound (kind of Kickstarter for books if you don't know it) about the early days of GW that I backed last year. Actually not sure if it was successful! Dice Men I think it was called... hold on...

EDIT: here you go - https://unbound.com/books/games-workshop/ - looks like it was successful and is currently being finished (and you can still back it). It does just cover 1975-1985 though so might just end where you want it to really pick up. One for Vol. 2 perhaps.

Very cool. I'll check that out. If I remember correctly that is kind of the era which You are the Hero talks about, but it would be interesting to read about it from another perspective.

Its probably a worrying sign that after years of reading actual RPG books I'm now starting to read books *About* RPGs with just as much interest!

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1 hour ago, JPjr said:

Part of me is itching to buy a new copy of DW off eBay, like the total sad case 41 year old I am in recent months I've started hunting down a lot of old games I used to play just to scratch a nostalgic itch and would love to read that again.

EDIT: damn! https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Dragon-Warriors-COMPLETE-SET-1-6-Dave-Morris-Fighting-Fantasy-Corgi-2/223236760645?hash=item33f9f2a445:g:aEQAAOSwAVlb8ZAl:rk:3:pf:0

I've still got them. Wouldn't describe them as VGC though!

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My choice is the 5th edition front cover of Call of Cthulhu with the giant eye staring into your soul. Once seen, never forgotten.

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@Aelfric weirdly I spent about 2 hours this afternoon tearing apart my house trying to find my copy of that exact edition.  No idea how but it appears to have slipped through some non-Euclidean gap between the sofas and vanished.

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for me it has to be Larry Elmore and Clyde Caldwell especially his Dragonlance work

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I also loved Chris Achilleos, who done several GW covers for Ravening hordes, Middle Earth, Talisman and Blood Royale

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And who could ever forget Adrian Smith.  A shared talk time with him many years ago in our teens - we were both at a forbidden planet comic convention waiting for Simon Bisley - Adrian was hugely influenced by him, and his style has always had a massive dose of bisley about it, with his early work literally of carbon copy of his stuff.  Thoroughly nice guy and a great artist, who gave us much of the Warhammer universe we know today.

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@Kaleb Daark nice choices! the death of sturm one is definitely a classic of the genre.

but the Chris Achilleos ones for Ravening Hordes and Blood Royale are absolutely grade A...

 😘👌

Though quality aside that's probably because I spent so many, many hours staring at adverts in WD featuring them whilst not being able to afford them at the time. Blood Royale is one of those games, along with Kings & Things, that I dont think I ever got to play and is on my eBay Wishlist for when I get bored and have some random cash floating around.

Actually dare I look at how much it goes for at the moment or will that just depress me utterly...

Edited by JPjr
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9 minutes ago, JPjr said:

@Kaleb Daark nice choices! the death of sturm one is definitely a classic of the genre.

but the Chris Achilleos ones for Ravening Hordes and Blood Royale are absolutely grade A...

 😘👌

Though quality aside that's probably because I spent so many, many hours staring at adverts in WD featuring them whilst not being able to afford them at the time. Blood Royale is one of those games, along with Kings & Things, that I dont think I ever got to play and is on my eBay Wishlist for when I get bored and have some random cash floating around.

Actually dare I look at how much it goes for at the moment or will that just depress me utterly...

tell me about it.

I just loved the whole DragonLance setting and I'd love to have seen AoS brets in a Knights of Solamnia role riding dragons  - true high fantasy knights.  For me Larry and Clyde Caldwell's dragons were sublime and to this day it's how I see a dragon done right. 

Larry Elmore's  fighter and the enchanted sword facing off a green dragon was up there as well.

I wrote to TSR back in the day and got a copy of his and Clyde's autograph, and he even did his double C glyph on it :)

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I loved Blood Royale, and it's one of those games that I really deeply regret getting rid of - and just like you, I stay away from looking at how much it goes for now!

Edited by Kaleb Daark
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I wonder how the DL books hold up. It was all about Legends for me with Raistlin offering out Takhisis in the abyss. I think some not so manly pre-teen tears were shed at the end of that.

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DL.png.74d9e01a8c5423f48956f318fbdcda18.png

Dude Dragonlance is the best and Elmore's art will always hold a special place in my heart for what high fantasy should look like. I saw this book cover in the library when I was like 11 years old and that was it for me 😛

Edited by Justinbot
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