A revisit of A3 Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords

AD&D Modules Bill Willingham Erol Otus Jeff Dee TSR

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]

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  • Faris on

    Daniel,When you have one leg longer than the other your body will atptemt to compensate for that, having a major impact on other joints tendons and muscles. A good physiotherapist will help you with strengthening the muscles and tendons etc. with specific exercises and new ways of standing sitting etc. All these will have a positive impact on pain sensations. There are inserts you can put inside your shoes to help with the imbalance or the alternative is surgery. I know this due to my daughter having the same problem as yourself. Hypnotherapy techniques that put you back in control also help immensely as you begin to feel as if you are doing something positive to help yourself without relying on drugs that may work at the beginning but then tend to lose their effects. If you live in the Newcastle area you can attend our pain Management workshops to learn how hypontherapy can help you.Kind regardsDee

  • Scott on

    Chet, I couldn’t agree more on all counts. Well said!

  • Chet Minton on
    Jeff Dee was and will remain one of my favorite Dungeons and Dragons Artists. I have a lot of favorites but like John Fultz indicated, being a kid and starring at the A Series artwork just brings back awesome memories. (Not to mention trying to draw every picture Jeff Dee ever drew…over and over again!) That said, this cover was a weaker piece. I feel that Jeff Dee’s art is a bit less impressive in color and this particular cover looks like a few separate pieces assembled to make one image. (….and if Jeff Dee ever reads this, I swear someone hacked my computer and wrote this!) I agree with the high rating for all the art in this module and series, especially when Erol Otus is part of the creative team! The A series was just filled with great dungeon scenarios too!
  • Scott on

    John: You know we only see eye-to-eye about 50% of the time at best, so this is one of those negative moments. Not saying the cover is bad, just not a top five cover that Dee did during 79-81 IMO.

  • John R. Fultz on

    Dude—you didn’t like the cover? I LOVED it! As a kid this was one of those modules I just HAD to have when I saw this cover at the Four Seasons store in Ft. Knox, KY. I l love both Jeff Dee and Bill Willingham—the two most comic-book-like artists in the TSR stable. Those slave lords looked cool as hell on the cover…

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