Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Inspiration for the Remorhaz?

So I was doing some more "PD art mining" at this week, and came across the book My own fairy book : namely certain Chronicles of Pantouflia, as notably the adventures of Prigio, prince of that country, and of his son Ricardo, with an excerpt from the Annals of Scotland, as touching Ker of Fairnilee, his sojourn with the Queen of Faery by Andrew Lang (1903). Lang is the guy that penned the "Coloured" Fairy Books published between 1889 and 1910, most of which were illustrated by Henry Justice Ford.

Lang's My Own Fairy Book... consists of three "books" within the book (each with its own sub-chapters) — Prince Prigio, Prince Ricardo, and The Gold of Fairnilee.

In Prigio's story, Prigio needs to eliminate the threat of the Firedrake. One night, while reading a book in the library, Prigio finds a reference to "a very rare beast called a Remora, which is at least as cold as the Firedrake is hot." Prigio figures if he can make the two fight, the Remora might kill the Firedrake.

The Remora in Lang's story resembles the mythical remora of medieval bestiaries, also known as the echeneis. "It was as flat as the head of a skate-fish, it was deathly pale, and two chill-blue eyes, dead-coloured like stones, looked out of it." From Gordon Browne's illustration in Lang's book (above left), its apparent the creature is massive compared to the medieval echeneis/remora (described as being approximately 6" in length).

So is this the inspiration for D&D's remorhaz introduced in Dragon Magazine #2? Not likely... though Rob Kuntz doesn't give too much insight on this 2009 post at his Lord of the Green Dragons blog, he does tell us Erol Otus did the drawing first, and EGG asked Kuntz to name it and stat it. It's pretty obvious from the original drawing (from Dragon #2; pictured at Kuntz's post) that there was no intention for the creature's habitat to be a cold one — you'd think EO would give the fighter with the halberd a bit more clothing if it were.

So is Lang's remora the inspiration for Kuntz's name/description/climate for the remorhaz? Or is it just a happy accident? If any of you have RK's email, or are "approved" as a "team member" to post comments to his blog, please ask him. I'd love to know.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Why I Will and Won't Be Participating in
This Year's A-to-Z Blogging Challenge

Long story short, I will be participating in this year's A-to-Z Blogging Challenge, just not officially. I do enjoy the challenge the event presents to my creativity and speed. However, the "visiting every blog on the A-to-Z list and joining many of them because I want them to join my blog regardless of what they or I write about" crowd is akin to spam in my book, and I'm just as happy to share my lettered posts with those of you who already follow this blog.

BTW, I've already got my idea, and will announce it in March as the Challenge looms.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

New Monster Index: Oe/1e/BX Stats for 40+ Snakes
Free PDF Download - Monster Index: Snakes

I know I'm a little late to the Year of the Snake party, seeing as it began this past Sunday, but I had originally intended for today's post to be ready this past Monday morning. Unfortunately, it took a little longer to dig into the content than I thought it would.

Like the Monster Indexes that have come before this one (including the Lycanthrope Index, Giant Index, and Spider Index), today's PDF (Monster Index: Snakes) gives you OSR stats and information for 40+ snakes, including notes on their poisons, special attacks, etc.

From adder to viper, constrictors and poisonous snakes alike, this PDF has your snakes need covered, from tongue to tail. It includes not only the stock of serpents common to the various early editions, but stats out some that were left incomplete, and adds some completely new ones to the list (like the giant two-headed snake).

Click here for the free MediaFire download of the PDF
Old-school Adventures™ Accessory MX2, Monster Index: Snakes.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Congratulations to the Victors in
William Dowie's Roman-themed Adventure Contest!

The grand prize went to Ned Leffingwell for “Mayhem at the Manor." He'll be receiving a print copy of my Foundations of Modern Fantasy edition of William Morris's The House of the Wolfings and the bloodbath "railroad in three acts" that is Old School Adventures™ Module LC1 Assault Against the Menace on the Mountain.

Second place went to David Jaske for “Road to Antioch,” and third place went to Ian MacDougal for “The Crooked Baths.” David, Ian, and Ned all receive PDF copies of the Old School Adventures™ Module LC1 Assault Against the Menace on the Mountain.

They've all won some other cool prizes courtesy of Zoser Games, William's wife Mona, and William himself. Get the complete details on William's blog.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Kicking It Up A Notch: Illustration Re-ink

I originally talked about this illustration (at bottom, below) back at the end of January, but felt like the open gray areas were just a little "flat." Much happier with the new version (at top, below).

Friday, February 8, 2013

Really Old Old-School Artist Week Day 5:
Arthur Rackham

And so we come to the conclusion of my week of "Really Old Old-School Artists." Today's artist is Arthur Rackham, and it may be a long time coming from me to old Arthur. I've never really felt the need to feature Rackham in one of these posts because his work is really all over the internet, and has already made its way (along with the likes of John D. Batten) into many an OSR product relying on public domain artwork (e.g., John Stater's Blood & Treasure). The reason I'm delving into such familiar old-old-school artist territory is because most of the Rackham illustrations I'm featuring today have yet to reach the point of oversaturation among us OSR types. The particularly gruesome image below (the first image with the chopped off heads, e.g.) comes from the 1907 edition of The Ingoldsby Legends, a book based on the 19th Century collection of myths, legends, ghost stories and poetry prepared by Richard H. Barham (under the pseudonym of Thomas Ingoldsby of Tappington Manor).

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Really Old Old-School Artist Week Day 4:
Edmund Dulac

And so continues my week of "Really Old Old-School Artists." Today's artist is Edmund Dulac. Though Dulac is best known for his color work, I'm showcasing some of his rarer B&W work. The first seven images are from an edition of Poe's poetical works, and you can see the painter in Dulac coming through in his line work. The final two are bookplate images—the first from a version of Shakespeare's The Tempest, the second from a 1907 edition of Stories from The Arabian Nights . I'm particularly fond of the final image and wish I could find more of his work like it, but that kind of work was such a rarity for him, I doubt I will.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Really Old Old-School Artist Week Day 3:
Beatrice Elvery

Welcome to Day 3 of my "Really Old Old-School Artist" week. today I'm featuring Beatrice Elvery. She's an oddity among these types of illustrators, and not because she's a woman. Heretofore, all of the artists featured in this series have been well-known illustrators with a wide body of work. Elvery, on the other hand, is known mostly as a designer of stained glass. And I think if you look at the illustrations below, that will be obvious from the almost stained-glass-like quality in the heavy line work and strong positive and negative spaces. The images below all come from Russell Violet's 1914 book Heroes of the Dawn, a collection of stories of Celtic legend and myth.

Something about the overall quality of Elvery's work makes me think of Dave Billman's work from Lords of Creation. And as I've mentioned before, Billman is one of my favorite artists from the early generations of RPGs.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Really Old Old-School Artist Week Day 2:
Dugald Stuart Walker

Continuing my week of "Really Old Old-School Artist" posts, today I'm featuring Dugald Stuart Walker. The first two images below come from Padraic Colum's 1925 book The Boy Who Knew What the Birds Said, and the rest come from Colum's 1918 book The Boy Apprenticed to an Enchanter.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Really Old Old-School Artist Week Day 1:
Willy Pogany, The Tale of Lohengrin

I know it's been a while since I've done one my "Really Old Old-School Artist" posts. And after coming into a trove of new images, I've decided to do an entire week of posts, starting with artist Willy Pogany. I've done Pogany before way back in December 2011.

Today's selections come to us from Pogany's 1913 book The Tale of Lohengrin, the final book of a trilogy based on a selection of Wagner operas. The book is really ALL Pogany. It's page after page of drawings with some calligraphic text telling the tale.

Lohengrin is a character from Germanic Arthurian legend, the son of Parzival (Percival), and a knight of the Holy Grail. He is sent is a boat pulled by a swan to rescue a maiden who can never ask his identity. When she finally asks him his name, and he answers, the swan boat returns to take him away, never to be seen again.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

I Found Another One!

If you saw my "Sit, ubues. Sit." post from this past Thursday, you saw me compare an Erol Otus drawing with the Arthur Rackham illustration that may have inspired it. Today, I present another double-take from the Otus vault. In this case, the illustration is Erol Otus's illustration of his character Valerius from The Rogues Gallery. Today, the inspiration/homage comes courtesy of Louis Rhead and his drawing of Cassio from Charles & Mary Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare (1918).

While I do appreciate Rhead's work, I think I prefer the Otus drawing.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Deadline Extended! Win Prizes!

William at the Ramblings of a Great Khan blog has extended the deadline through the weekend for his Roman-themed adventure design contest.

Try my 2-page d30 Adventure Seed Generator (Part I is here, and Part II is here). There's also my post about Roman-themed adventure ideas.

For a dungeon, there's always Dave's Mapper.
For a city or town, use Inkwell's Random City or Random Village Map Generators.
For wilderness map, try Isomage's Wilderness Map Generator.
Not sure what you want? Try Paratime Design's Creative Commons Licensed Cartography site.

How about the cacus (a fire-breathing giant), or the striga (a sort of vampiric harpy). Also see this post from the Wizards site regarding the Roman Empire as a D&D setting.

Try Ted's Roman Name generator (just plug in your name, or somebody else's). There's also the Roman Name Generator at