Art of the Genre

Converting 2D hex dungeons to 3D dungeon art

I've always enjoyed the concept of dungeons.  Obviously the reality of such things doesn't make much sense, but to fantasy RPG players, underground complexes with fantastic decorations and monsters are commonplace.  Mithelvarn's Labyrinth below Roslof Keep was a labor of love for me, transforming maps that were created on hex paper into 3D works of art something that gave me infinite smiles.  I thought I'd share some of those dungeon levels today.  Let me know what you think.

Level 2 really got things going, and the mirrored room was something straight out of Conan the Destroyer.

In Level 3 I got to create an underground stadium, always practical, huh?

In Level 4 I needed two dungeons, because one just wasn't going to be good enough!

By Level 5 I needed to flood the whole damn thing just to make matters worse.  Of course, there are 4 distinct dungeon for Level 6, but I don't want to spoil the ending. 

All these maps were created for me by my incredible artist/designer Andrew Rodgers.  He really has a way with taking my 2D versions, checking my room descriptions, and then making things 'real'. 

If you like mega-dungeon quests, then you can check out the full 6 issues of The Folio (Roslof Keep Campaign 1-6)here for full removable covers with these maps on them, or get them all at a discount with the Complete Roslof Campaign hardcover (and send me a note on the website if you want a separate printable map book to go along with the hardcover!)

Written by Scott Taylor — January 11, 2017

Color Coding The Caves of Chaos

I'm not going to lie, The Caves of Chaos is by far my favorite dungeon of all time.  I could seriously look at this map for the better part of the day just trying to figure out the multitude of stories that can go into it.  It will never run the same way twice (I've tried!) and there are so many great artistic takes on it, I thought I'd share a few today.

Written by Scott Taylor — January 10, 2017


I make no bones about being an unabashed David Deitrick lover, both as a person and as an artist, so it really makes me angry that his art no-longer appears in science fiction publications.  Maybe we've moved past his style, as it seems when last years Battletech Kickstarter refused to allow him to provide artwork (along with Holloway, so thanks much Catalyst!) when the video game was set pre-clans, right in the wheelhouse of his work at FASA during the 80s.  Whatever the case, I've still managed to get David to do some work in Battletech over the years, so I guess I'll share it here, since it looks like it will find no other place to call home. 



Also, a couple of these are nice prints and can be found on the website, so if you want an OSR Deitrick on your wall, just put his name in the search bar.

Written by Scott Taylor — January 09, 2017


Tim Kask (heal quickly man!) once let me know with both barrels just how hard it was to get fantasy artists in the 1970s for the likes of Dragon Magazine, because basically there weren’t such an animal.  Contrast that with today, and you can’t walk your fingers an inch over a keyboard without tripping over one on social media.  Yet somewhere in between, right in the sweet spot of 1990, TSR had its choice of some of the finest young artists of a generation looking to make a name for themselves in fantasy.  Artists like Tony DiTerlizzi, Fred Fields, and Robh Ruppel come to mind, but above all of them the biggest ‘landing’ TSR got was Gerald Brom.

I’ve written about Brom on a couple of occasions, but today I wanted to focus not so much on his style, as on his TSR-era power.  So without further gilding of the lily, let’s have a look at some of his finer works for the RPG. 

Yes indeed, he knows how to bring the creativity to the spirit of a game!  And remember folks, Brom is on the cover of Folio #12, so please check out the Kickstarter for more great adventures in 1E & 5E!

Written by Scott Taylor — January 06, 2017

Top 10 Jeff Easley AD&D 'Orange Spine' Hardcover Paintings

Now you might be thinking, 'Top 10, really?  How many did he do?'  Well, the answer to that is 12.  And, considering how iconic each one is, how much they meant to D&D players in the 1980s, and how many folks still use these book 30 years later, it is little wonder that this was a much harder list to trim down than one might think.  But, I'm going to give it a shot nonetheless!

#10: Dungeoneer's Survival Guide: Jeff told me once he had painted this one before he even came to TSR but they decided to buy it and use it for this cover.  Therefore, for all of you who have tried endlessly to figure out what each creature on the cover is, should realize they don't necessarily ascribe to ANY D&D type monster or race.

#9 Greyhawk Adventures: I believe this was the final book in the 'Orange Spine' series, but I've always been a fan.  I mean, who doesn't like a ultra-demon looking thing and a griffon rider with a magic sword?

#8 Monster Manual: Classic!  Red Dragon fighting Pegasi in an air duel?  What isn't to love about this one?

#7 Legends & Lore: Well, it is hard to recover an Erol Otus, but this image of Odin is probably one of the best you will ever see.  Jeff truly knocked this one out of the park in my opinion.

#6 Oriental Adventures: I'm guessing that if there is one book on this list a lot of folks don't own, it is this one, but that doesn't mean this kind of epic 'in the clouds' duel between a samurai and a ninja isn't worth every penny!

#5: Players Handbook: Sure, you aren't going to top Trampier's version, but nonetheless, for many players who didn't start D&D in the 1980s, THIS is their Players Handbook, and many of us have imagined this fantastic fight as we sat around a gaming table.

#4 Manual of the Planes: Astral Dreadnaught... enough said.

#3 Unearthed Arcana: Truly one of the most iconic wizard images EVER!  How many times has this been ripped off?  Probably about half as many as the Trampier PHB, but still, it just never gets old.

#2 Dungeon Masters Guide: Now there might be some controversy with this one coming in at #2, but that is where I'm putting it.  Not taking anything away from EVERYTHING THAT THE DM IS and how well Jeff represents it here, but I still believe when many folks think about an 'orange spine', they are going to remember #1 first, because at the end of the day, this a a re-cover, and half the folks out there are going to be about the Sutherland III edition.

#1 Monster Manual II: Jeff's first 'Orange Spine' and first hardcover AD&D work, and it absolutely takes it to the church.  If you haven't sat around wondering A: if this a a hill giant or and ogre lord and B: if this poor bastard fighter is going to live, then you aren't a D&D player.  Truly, one of the greatest masterworks to ever grace a gaming product.

And don't forget, if you like Jeff's covers on 'orange spine' books, I hope you'll have a look at The Folio of Fiendish Monsters Kickstarter which will mirror these great books so after 30 years you can add another to your collection!  You can find it here:

Written by Scott Taylor — September 12, 2016

Remembering 'Easy pickings, no matter how you look at it'

It goes without question that I am a huge fan of the work of Daniel Horne.  He's done some absolutely astounding fantasy work over the years, including masterpieces on covers for Dragon & Gygax Magazines as well as The Folio.  Many remember his works, but probably not everyone would pick this particular piece from Dragon #112.  It was one of the first Dragon Magazines I ever purchased myself, and I've still got it today. 

The dwarves are such great characters here, and Daniel has a way of capturing characters unlike the bulk of artists in the industry.  The terror, the bravery, the comic relief, is all there, but his incredible attention to detail in the setting was what always intrigued me about this particular piece.  You see, I'm a sucker for treasure, armor, and weapons, and Daniel delivers all in spades.  Plus, we get a really cool rock, and a wide open spaces shot that drips of Tolkien's Middle-Earth. 

I've played this scene out a thousand times in my minds-eye, and maybe some of you have too, but whatever the case, it is just another great Dragon cover that inspires me once again to pick up the dice and start rolling.

Written by Scott Taylor — July 29, 2016

A Return to Star Wars Galaxies: Part Eight

I wasn’t there when it all ended.  I’d stopped playing again for the second time and didn’t see as reason to be there when the lights went out.  Maybe that was selfish, considering what the game meant to me, but I knew none of those who had made the game so special for me would be there, so why attend ‘the party’

I got to sleep sometimes and wonder if I’ll ever wake up again.  Thankfully I always have, but there seem to be shadows around me of those who weren’t as lucky as I have been…’ Jericho Knox

I have to ask those of you who are on the EMU if you were there at the end.  Maybe you weren’t, maybe you’d already transitioned to the EMU since I can’t find a date it officially launched, although the bulk of articles concerning it spawned in 2012, after the demise of SWG proper.

Obviously there was a nice outpouring of support to keep SWG alive, otherwise the EMU would not be where it is today, so I’m sure those who had stuck it out to the end brought their love of the game over to the Basilisk.  I also feel there had to be a lot of stalwart pioneers, as the glut of housing shows around the various civilized worlds (although this could also be a product of multiple avatars, which I believe to be another double-edged sword for the game). 

So I’ll ask now, is there anyone out there on the EMU reading this that managed to somehow stay active from SWG launch in 2003 to EMU play today?

Reading Note: If you enjoy the nostalgia of these blogs, you might enjoy my pseudo-take on my time in SWG with my Gunsmith series.  You can get a copy here.

Written by Scott Taylor — July 29, 2016

A Return to Star Wars Galaxies: Part Seven

Yesterday was my birthday, so I was out an about and not roving the lonely plains of Corellia on my swoop.  Still, thoughts of SWG did creep into my mind, like while watching Star Trek: Beyond and wondering when JTLS was coming out, especially since Chassis Dealers no seem operational.  I’m not holding my breath, though, as I know things in the EMU move glacially even with the best efforts and intentions.  That is just how a fan run enterprise built on hardcore hobby lovers is, and I applaud them for it.

I had a Y-Wing once, a long time ago, and it was the hottest looking thing I ever put my hands on… well, other than Huff Darklighter’s niece…’ Jericho Knox

How many of you all out there did JTLS?  I thought the space graphics were pretty fantastic, and although I got jumbled up on missions (especially when I played non-rebel) it was pretty fun.  Doing the Y-Wing was cool because you could go ‘up’ with someone and play together.  Always thought that was a cool effect.

The possibility of this expansion launching at some point might be while as those PHNBs are mining all the time, like folks are stocking up innumerable resources for building ships.  I, on the other hand, am just trying to make a damn weapon, but thus far no real luck.  I’ve been on the hunt for Irolunn Reactive Gas which I guess is like blood diamonds or something in this game.  Right now I’m running an odds contest in my head about which I’ll find first, the gas or a large bed.  Vegas is currently favoring the gas.

Reading Note: If you enjoy the nostalgia of these blogs, you might enjoy my pseudo-take on my time in SWG with my Gunsmith series.  You can get a copy here.

A Return to Star Wars Galaxies: Part Six

                 Can these to star-crossed lovers make it to a shuttleport in time!?

So I was watching Stranger Things on Netflix last night and I couldn’t help wondering if there was ever a moment in SWG when the tension of a horror-like scenario played out.  Maybe the Genosian Bunker, but I’ve not been there since 2005.  I then started imagining me trying to recreate that feel just within the mechanics of the game.

I went to Dath once with a droid engineer looking for steel.  Nothing more nerve wracking than free-mining on the edge of a dark cliff with rancors prowling the valley below…’ Jericho Knox

I came up with this scenario, and I’d like to see how many people will try it.  Go to some secluded location (assuming there is such a thing left in the EMU), remove all your armor and go with normal clothes, be un-buffed in any way, turn off your overhead map, and then wait for it to turn to night (preferably when it is raining, although I know that is hard to control).  Then, once all these situations are in play, turn on your flashlight and try to make it to a town or shuttleport without getting killed!  Consider yourself the hunted, that something is stalking you, and that you are the lone survivor.  Or, even better, try it with a friend!  Nothing worse than having to make the decision to die with your buddy who just drew rancor agro or keep on running!

I intend to try this out if I get a chance this week and see if there is any true adrenaline that pumps during said attempt.   

Reading Note: If you enjoy the nostalgia of these blogs, you might enjoy my pseudo-take on my time in SWG with my Gunsmith series.  You can get a copy here.




When Clyde Caldwell had a girl...

Now I know I've said before that Clyde always liked to use a wide variety of live models, and it is true, but if there is one thing about Clyde's work that is indisputable, it's that his models had something in common...

Jeff Easley once referred to Clyde as 'The Thighmaster', and I can't go against that moniker, but I will say Clyde is also a fan of breasts as much as he is thighs (so I always like calling him Colonel Sanders), even if TSR tried to reign him back over his years there. 

So, did Clyde actually have a 'girl'?  Well, you be the judge, but I'm thinking he did, it just was more about her midsection that anything else.  That is where his muse lay.

AotG Fan Alert! There are only 48 left in the Folio #10 campaign, so please spread the word and lend your support to this project!