Saturday, 28 November 2015

Two Jewel-Eyed Idols

...from Fighting Fantasy #7 Deathtrap Dungeon and The Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook. I made this connection years ago, but don't recall writing a blog-post, so stop me if you've heard this one before.

AD&D PHB (Tramp!) & FF6 Deathtrap Dungeon (McCaig)

Here we have Fighting Fantasy 7 Deathtrap Dungeon by Ian Livingstone and illustrated by Iain McCaig (Puffin Books 1984). Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook, by Gary Gygax, cover by David A. Trampier, published by (TSR 1977).

Trampiers is a classic horned demon image (possibly from somewhere very strange) while McCaigs is  recognisably derived from the Chinese Pu-Tai. There is a certain roundness of features, a slump of the shoulders, a rotundness of paunch, but otherwise the drawings are not all that similar, and statues with jeweled eyes are not exactly unique to D&D.

Nonetheless, I like to think Ian may have been paying a slight homage to Trampiers iconic cover. Textually the description is spartan enough to fit either image - "There is a large idol in the center of the cavern, standing approximately six meters high. It has jeweled eyes..." and in Deathtrap Dungeon, the left eye is 'stealable' as can be seen on the Players Handbook cover, the two thieves are busy wrenching the jewel from it's socket. The right eye leads you to death via a poisoned gas, which, incidentally was something I riffed on whilst drawing the borders for Otherworld Fantasy Skirmish.

Otherworld Dungeon Border [ZHU]

And then there are the two strange FLYING GUARDIANS, which begin life as statuesque figures in Deathtrap Dungeon, which may have been inspired by the two odd lizard-creature corpses that the adventurers are dragging around (sacrificing on an altar?) on Trampiers PHB cover. Who knows? I'd certainly like to think so, and that by referencing a well known image (in fantasy gamer circles at least) that a slight clue to an otherwise blind choice between left and right - an item required win the game and instant death was being subtly hinted at.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Rez and the Blue Bird

Compare and contrast, 1980s Gamebook illustration and 1890s Fairytale illustration:

The waistcoat (even the trim), the sash, the shoes, the beard the hair, the pantaloons, the crooked hat the outstretched arms. John adds a wealth of detail and pattern to the figure, as well as a grizly murderized victim and 'fixes' the slightly overlong arms.

The Green Fairy Book collected by Andrew Lang and illustrated by Henry Justice Ford was published by in 1892.  The original artwork so beloved of early fantasy games illustrators as DATs rendition of the Cloud Giant in the AD&D Monster Manual, which is also a direct homage to HJF so clearly shows. Langs Fairy books were also instrumental in J.R.R. Tolkiens conception of the fairy-story and, perhaps, in moving the ring from The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings. The wizard illustration is intended to accompany story The Blue Bird.

The Sorcery Spellbook written by Steve Jackson, and illustrated by John Blanche  was published by Puffin in 1983. The spell REZ is used to resurrect the dead, somewhat appropriate to ressurect an old wizard image to illustrate it. Ah, makes me want to visit Mampang again, although I need to find some Khukuri or perhaps some Chhaang or Raski for the journey.

I will fully admit that this remarkable observation wasn't made by me, but by an erudite and long-time reader of this blog, they must have made their spot-hidden roll again, many thanks for this and other tip-offs - may the Gods of Chaos always smile upon your dice!

Monday, 2 November 2015

The Box of Nekkutháne

The Box of Nekkutháne is an ongoing project to curate hisékh (music) to accompany an exploration of the world of Tékumel, The Empire of the Petal Throne the Five Empires and beyond.

The project embraces ethnomusicological exploration of the cultures which may be considered to have influenced M. A. R. Barkers creation of the sidereal universe - examples of sounds we may imagine have arisen from the cultures and peoples of Tékumel alongside music which evokes the broader genres which we can place the setting of Tékumel into and its connection to the real-world. As such it journeys through the underworlds of Electronica, World Music,  Psychedelia, Hip-hop, Eastern and Western cinema and video game music.

 If the embedded soundcloud player isn't auto-playing, please press the arrow within the orange circle.

The Box of Nekkutháne Volume 1

Knut Avenstroup Haugen — The Eternal Empire
Bombay Dub Orchestra — Flame Of The Fores
Altan Urag — Great Mongolia
Howard Drossin — Campfire
Metalface Doom & RZA - Books Of War (instrumental)
Giorgia Severi — Rajasthan folk
Ugasanie — Swamps Of Tunguska
Vijay Venkat — South Indian Traditional Folk Devotional
Amon Tobin — Angels & Demons
Maizon Tech — Dhalsim
Erik the Flutemaker — Morning Mist
George Harrison — Your Eyes
Karma — Você Pode Ir Além
Lehigh Choral Arts — Two Chinese Folksongs

This is a personal soundscape of Tékumel and is not endorsed by The Tékumel Foundation . Volume One is dedicated to our fellow travellers, honourable explorers and chroniclers of the sidereal universe. No guarantee regards the control of Ngóro is implied, and any attempt to use it in such a manner is entirely at the users own risk.

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