Please remember to go to Black Gate and take a look at my 'Top 10 RPG Artists' article if you get the chance. You can find it here!
Now to the other good stuff! Produced in 1981, the TSR classic A series module A3 Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords highlights some of the greatest artwork collected from the famous TSR ‘First Four’ [Jeff Dee, Erol Otus, Bill Willingham, and Jim Roslof].
This rather light 28 page module is the 3rd on a four part series and for AD&D 1E characters level 4-7. It was written by Allen Hammack and details the journey of a core group of adventurers into the Dcrachengrab Mountains as they pursue a marauding band of slavers.
Jeff Dee once again gets cover duty, two which is does an admirable job, although not his best work during his TSR days, nor even on this series of covers. Dee’s interior black and white work, however, is perhaps his best to date, and rivals that of his Expedition to the Barrier Peaks collection.
He is joined by Otus who does some very limited smaller pieces, with only one stand out, the guards at the gate, piece that begins ‘The Hidden City’ part of the adventure. Otus also graces the back cover with a very fun dinosaur versus adventures piece that always makes me smile.
Willingham showcases his skills with inkwash in a stunning haram/assassination piece that decorates the midway point of the adventure and also does some flat ink fight scenes later on that bring action to the entirety of the piece.
Although Jim Roslof and David ‘Diesel’ LaForce are credited inside, I see no samples of their work, save perhaps art direction by Roslof and maps by LaForce.
In all, my only true disappointment with the module is the cover, and that stops it from being a fully ‘perfect’ module at the pinnacle of the ‘First Four’s’ run at TSR.
Artistic Rating: 5 [out of 6]